Monday, March 30, 2009

Autumn Asks: What do you like about yourself?

While cruising through some of the blogs listed on the blog party last week, I came across a post on 50 Things I Like About Myself on a blog called To Think Is To Create. The author notes that this is a good way to help yourself feel a little bit positive about yourself on a bad day. As the mother of 3 boys...all with autism, I can see how she might need a little positive reinforcement at times. Now that is a big job!

Anyway! I wasn't sure if I could come up with 50 things I like about myself...but I gave it a shot. Here's what I got...

1. I have a sense of humor. Okay, maybe its a little off or twisted...but I've sure got one. And it has served me well through tough times and crazy family.

2. I'm straight forward. You ask, I'll answer. I'll try to have a little class and not be rude, but sometimes I fail on that level. It's a work in progress.

3. To the point. Not the same as above. Ask a question and you will probably get a 3 word answer. If you are looking for long explanations or stories you've come to the wrong place. Yes and No are answers. a story.

4. I am level headed. But that can also come off as being cold. You give me bad news and you will get brainstorming on what needs to be done. Emotion comes after the thinking.

5. I love children.

6. I love teens even better.

7. I love taking pictures. Just wish I was better at it.

8. I am a hard worker. When I work (snicker).

9. I love to give. A meal. A small gift. Time to a friend. A helping hand.

10. I'm married to the only person I want to spend every day of the rest of my life with.

11. I'm almost always on time... or better yet, early. (This makes me freakish to others.)

12. I like having red hair and blue eyes. Too bad I've buried them under 40 extra pounds of face.

13. I like being one of God's own.

14. Fingernails. Strange answer, but I've got genetics that cause nails to die for.

15. I like that I am a SAHM.

16. I like that I am always reading and learning something new.

17. I like doing things with my hands and creating.

18. I like my relationships with my mother and sister.

19. I like that I have been able to travel all my life.

20. I like that I have a husband that likes to travel also and wants to travel with me.

21. I like that I have friends all over the states and overseas also.

22. I like that family time and simple entertaining makes me happier than money and things.

23. I like that I have been able to refrain from taking a baseball bat to my husbands knees in order to get him grounded from flying and doing desert rotations.

24. I like the fact that my family tree is full of career military and vets that have served their country proudly.

25. But, I also like that I talked my son out of serving in today's military.

26. I like the outdoors more than I like shopping.

27. I like that I started a mother/daughter book club and learned lots of new things about my daughter.

28. I like that I do not have a closet full of shoes. Sorry - I just don't get that.

29. I like that I don't have a single tv show I have to watch. (Like internet addiction is better, right?)

30. I like that I can live within a budget and know how to save money.

31. I am not a perfectionist. Frees me up to do things and not over stress the outcome. And because of this...

32. I very rarely suffer from guilt....especially the dreaded mommy guilt.

33. I like that when I get angry, it is short-lived.

34. I'm raising my kids in a comfortable home, not a house I'm afraid they will mess up. (My grandmother and great-grandmother were that way.)

35. I like that I can stand up to family members that talk dirty or sexual around my girls. NOT acceptable. I am raising ladies.

36. I like that I can focus on raising my kids to be responsible, God fearing adults instead of being their friend.

37. I like that I can say no to my kids.

38. I like that I can so no to over scheduling outside interests. (Without the guilt)

39. I like that I've managed to stay out of the hospital, with the exception of child birth.

40. I like being an adoptive parent.

41. I like that I made it through the first teenager without killing him.

42. I like that I can cook. (HATE cleaning though)

43. I like that I can be organized if I want to be.

44. I like having the ability not to feel slighted or hurt by the little things that upset so many other women. Yet I can walk away from the abusive or unhealthy relationships and not feel guilty. Life is just too short.

45. I like being the helper. Not the boss...the helping hand of the boss. I'm not a dynamic leader, but I love helping the dynamic leader with the things that slow them down.

46. I like playing the radio/cd way too loud when the kids aren't in the car....while listening to music that I wouldn't listen too if the kids were in the car.

47. I love that I come from families that still don't believe in divorce.

48. I love that a cup of hot tea and a book are all it takes for a peaceful morning/noon/night.

49. I love that I don't have to be entertained by others.

50 I love that I made it through this list of 50 even though I never thought I would and it took hours to think of all of these.

If you read this consider yourself tagged. I want to know what you like about yourself. And let me know so I can read it! But, unless you are just obsessive like I am, you can keep it to 10!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Autumn Asks: Are you all about frugal lately?

Frugal, frugal, frugal!

Talk about the newest buzz word.

And its a good buzz word. At least it is if you are actually being frugal...and not just cheap. Cheap is no fun - for you or anybody else.

There have been many good posts lately on living a frugal lifestyle in this economy.

Over at Frugal Babe there is a guest post called 5 Qualities You Need to Be A Frugal Success.
She lists them as: (Pop on over to read the whole thing...not lengthy.)
1. A thick skin - for when you are made fun of
2. Creativity - to reuse what you have
3. Blindness - to what others are spending money on
4. Diligence - extra work to cook from scratch, garden or whatever
5. Cleanliness - maintenance makes things last longer.

Lots of common sense. These things aren't hard or too much for us to take on.

And along those same lines, there is a post at The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur called 7 Reasons Why the Recession Is Good For You....... (a good read)

1. Tough times make you monitor cash flow like a hawk.
2. Focus on personal friendships.
3. Make better choices about spending money.
4. Experience memorable but simple entertainment with family.
5. Forces you to cut the "fat" out of your life and business.
6. Tough economies force you to innovate.
7. Spend more time at home eating home cooked meals.

For the most part we have always been frugal. We don't like to spend $80 on a pair of jeans when we could get a pair for $30 (talking new, not second hand). Could care less about brand names. We shop sales and second hand stores. We buy the lower priced groceries in many cases...although we do have a few brand names we will not compromise on.

But I have learned a few new tricks lately also.

I found out that milk prices in our area tend to be about $1 cheaper at Walgreens and CVS. You have to watch the ads...but this one pays off just about every shopping day. It's the way they get you into the store to buy all that stuff that you can get cheaper at the supermarket. So don't buy the other stuff unless they have good deals going. (And there is a whole subculture of people that save incredible money with these two stores with coupons and rebates). As a side note: I do shop several stores on shopping day, but they are all in a circle that leads right back to home...I'm not going out of my way....this makes it reasonable and doable. If it was spread out I probably wouldn't make as many stops as I do.

I started making my own laundry soap. Weird, huh? Takes about ten minutes of my time and costs pennies per load. And I found a bar soap combination that I love the smell on for this. We really were very skeptical on whether it was really going to work or not....and it does. Not only that, we got rid of so many chemicals that way...and our washer doesn't get that smell anymore after a couple of days (we have NASTY water here that is full of stuff that stinks). Double bonus.
And I can't help but be thrilled that I'm not paying that huge chunk of change for those brand names that just don't last that long in my house. Plus it helps offset the cost of a cart full of fresh fruits and veggies over canned or frozen.

We are making more of our gifts. Now, this isn't always cheaper when you look at just the price of supplies sometimes. Yet, with the savings on the gas spent for searching for that gift, the quality time spent at home working with your hands, and the teaching my daughter is getting (and the youngest is seeing), maybe it actually breaks even. And once I have more of a stash built up, it will be a cheaper than it is at the moment. Nothing is cheap to get established anymore. Skills gained and at home entertainment (because this stuff is fun, not a chore) should be factored in also. I'm loving it anyways.

Increased hospitality at our house is another frugal thing we are doing. Yes, we usually put on a meal along with whatever else we are doing...but its not going out and paying for entertainment, it lasts longer and we are all so much more comfortable laying around the living room or playing games in the back yard or whatever. Plus, the others always bring food or drinks or whatever and chip in. It's all about the company. It's much more fun than going out all the time.

Our new priorities are also teaching our teen about peer pressure. You get it even as an adult. You can say no and survive. You can take ridicule and let it roll off your back (because these are choices, not forced circumstance as so many live in). You can walk away from toxic relationships and not die. You can cultivate deep relationships with others you have things in common with, and live a full and happy life with a SMALL circle of friends instead of being everyone's buddy. You can be happy and content even when the majority around you thinks you are a freak or stupid or weird or the cause of the whole financial collapse of our country (snort!). And mostly, you can have empathy for the materialistic bullies who are falling so far, so fast, and finding themselves the focus of the wolf pack instead of the head of it.

So how about you? What new frugal ways have you developed lately? I don't want to say since the economy became a problem, because we actually started this process before then. But I think the writing was on the wall when the housing markets first started to fail about 3 years ago. That's when we started taking notice that our countries debt was about to stand up and demand a change.

Have any new suggestions for me? I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Say Cheese

Might Mouse's new jumper is finished. I made a fatal measurement error so she won't be wearing it very long!!!
Songbird performs last Sunday. I really need to get some video of these kids! They are so good.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Autumn Asks: So How Have I Been Doing On My Decision To Make Use Of My Sewing Machine?

I'll show you.

I was unhappy with the first monk bag I did so I tried again. I needed two new bags anyways. This one I didn't make bigger so I am happier with the size. But, I somehow lost a whole page of directions, so the handle wasn't completed correctly. Guess I could just run a stitch through it so it would remain folded...but its soft and comfortable this way so I left it. Still, I considered it a mostly fail as it wasn't done right and doesn't have the nice finished look of the other one.

Next project was a laptop sleeve for my new laptop. The one we had didn't fit it and I wanted to be able to throw it in my bag without carrying the whole laptop bag bulk. I used a free pattern off the internet and added a zipper in the end. First one turned out too small because I didn't factor in the thickness of the computer right. So I ended up with a matching accessory bag for my mouse, mouse pad and cords.
For the padding I used an old furniture pad from the garage. I don't like it. Wish I had just bought something with a smoother texture. So again, I consider this project a partial fail. It works and I use it, but I wish I had used another type of padding. And I had a hard time with the zipper since I was going by the seat of my pants putting it in with no instructions....and I know I haven't sewn with a zipper since like 7th grade. (And yes, I am one of those geeks that leaves the factory protection on my computer top until it starts to fall off....drives my husband nuts.)
Next I tried a pair of reversible baby shoes. I was making them for a gift but they didn't come out nice enough. They are not hard, but you have to be very careful not to get pleats in the toes when you are finishing them up. Since I ended up with a pleat in each toe, I didn't wait to use them as a gift, I just gave them to my friend. I will definitely make more of these. They take almost no fabric, almost no time and are rather easy once you do a trial run and get the feel for it. Seriously, its about a 30 minute project and they are so CUTE!!

And the last project I did...and could hardly wait to show off (I'm being a terrible braggart here!!):
A friends baby gift!! My first ever quit. Free pattern off the internet. And it has a cool addition to the backing also.
When I saw the pattern I loved it. I used the stacking coin design all around the outside of Mighty Mouses 100 Good Wishes Quilt in a much smaller scale and thought it was the coolest. When I saw this larger version and it promised it could be whipped up in two days....I knew I had to try. So I called my mother and asked her if I showed up with a crib sized quilt top and bottom could she teach me how to finish it. She said yes. And this is what I came home with.

Then I had to wait for the shower before I could share! It was hard because I love it so much!

I have three more projects sitting in my bookcase right now. One is a jumper dress for Mighty Mouse that I can't wait to do.

And there it is. I'm doing it!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Autumn Asks: Are you spending more to do your part in keeping the ecomony from tanking further?

Seriously. It's all over the news. The way to fix our problem is to keep spending.


The problem is that we aren't spending our own money. So many of us are so far beyond that. We are spending the banks money. We've borrowed against the next 10 years pay checks with our credit card purchases.

Does anyone else think this "keep spending or you are a BAD American and need to be hung, drawn and quartered" line is anything other than crap?

We don't even need to justify what we know in our head and heart is wrong....the government and media will do it for us. Talk about getting away with bad behavior!! We are being handed a license to live beyond our means and not think about it. It's necessary. We HAVE to do it. Except...the powers that are encouraging this are not the ones paying the bills. Nor are they going to bail you out. They can't even bail themselves out without raping us in the process.
Have we all forgotten that the borrower is the SLAVE to the lender. Yes. The slave. Try not paying off all that money you took from the credit card company and see what happens. But then, that makes you a thief also.
I'm tired of being a slave. I'm tired of watching everyone live like somebody owes them something and they don't have to save or wait for anything. Like we have a right to take someone else's money and do whatever we want with it....and then cry foul when its time for the payback.

So. I'm a bad American. We no longer spend money we don't have. We are focused on paying off our debt. We have an emergency fund for big surprises. We have set amounts of money that are put into an account for the things we know come up annually (house insurance, car tags, the dogs shots, Christmas). We have money we set aside for things we know are coming up like tires on the truck, a new mattress, summer camp, travel. But first we pay the bills. And as one gets paid off we roll that monthly amount into the next bill. And if the bills are too much, one of the other things we are funding doesn't get funded that time. It's that easy.

And it is working. And it started working quicker than I ever imagined.

We don't have to be slaves. We don't have to have the almighty high credit rating (unless you are buying a house and financing it and need a low interest rate).
Just a generation ago spending money you didn't have was seriously frowned upon. In other countries, spending money you do not have is frowned upon. How did we fall so far???? How did our nation become the most self centered people on the face of the earth??
I don't know.

I do know that spending money I don't have to shore up companies that spent money they didn't have is not the answer. Many companies are not going to survive. Many people will not survive in a manner they are accustomed to. It's going to get ugly....even if people keep overspending...because that house of cards is coming down. As it should. It's time to fix our huge overspending problem even though it is going to be devastating. It's called consequence. And the sooner we learn to work with the consequence and fix the problem (debt), the sooner our nation can move on toward recovery (and whatever that looks like).

And I'm sorry. It must be said. All those screaming that savers and those curbing their spending are killing our economy.....

It's already dead. And it should be. Let's. Fix. This.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Doing something new and different today....joining in on the Ultimate Blog Party hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom's. Several of the blogs I follow are participating so I thought I'd add my name to the list also.

A big welcome to those visiting for the first time!

I'm one of those confused bloggers that really doesn't know exactly why she blogs. Mostly what you will find here are posts about:

Family life: As the mother of a 19 year old, 13 year old and 4 year old, our life hits all the ups and downs at about the same time for each age group. Being a MOPS mom with one in college is rather strange. Add to that our youngest being adopted...and all the lessons that involves and I end up with a few things to say.

Living on a budget: After 15 years of marriage with no debt, circumstances led us to be in debt for the first time. We recently went through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace and have begun digging ourselves out of this mess and returning to a frugal lifestyle. It feels good. I love to learn and pass on new ways to live frugal and simply.

Learning how to live a Christian life: After spending way too many years as a baby Christian in legalistic churches, we are learning to live like Christians without the chains. It's an amazing journey and I love to share.

Life as a military wife: The dark side of the equation. My children are 3rd generation born and raised military brats. Love my country. Do NOT love being a military wife. I might as well call myself a single mom. But we are at an assignment that is giving us a temporary break from the constant desert rotations. (AMEN!!!)

I also love terrible B rate horror movies and grew up in a cartoon family. You will also see occasional travel type posts on places I want to be. I love to travel and LOVE photography so I share cool stuff sometimes.

Maybe one day I'll narrow it all down to a one subject job. Then again maybe I won't.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Another Day in the Life of a Jr. High Student's Mom

Ring! Ring!




You know how we said I could just eat dinner when I got home from the track meet?


Well, turns out we are not going to be getting back until really late. Could you pack me up a lunch with a sandwich and some fresh fruit and stuff?

You mean dinner?


Okay. What time does the bus leave?


It's 1:53. There is no way I can make you something and get it up to the school in that amount of time!!!

Oh. Well I guess I'll just have to eat when I get home.....

What if I bring you cash? Aren't there concessions?

YES!!!!! That would be great!!!

Be there in 3.

And I was. And anyone that knows me would be amazed since I refuse to take forgotten lunches and let my kids go hungry when they don't handle their stuff. And yes, the office help did snicker at me.

(And the child did not get home until 10:30 pm so its a good thing I was feeling the love....)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Autumn Asks: Is there a technical name for the fear of fundraising?

I need to know...because I've got it. Bad. Really bad.

Fundraisers give me nightmares. They make me break out in a sweat...and I don't sweat. (Which I now know is because I'm always dehydrated.)

I really think there should be a technical term for this. I tried to find it, but I didn't. Now there are technical names for the fear of sourness, chickens, garlic, OPINIONS (!), looking up, flutes, body smells, constipation, teenagers, chins, being infested by worms, cooking, clouds, figure 8's, bald people, and the great mole rat. But no name for fundraisers??? Please. They write books on this. Check Amazon...I bet there are 100 hits.

Anyway. Back to fundraisers.

I would rather suffer bodily harm than do a fundraiser. Not kidding.

Just ask my daughter...the Girl Scout. The Girl Scout that I never help sell cookies. Ever. Oh, and did I mention how many years I was the co-leader of her troop?? Thank goodness she has a good daddy that is willing to help her out. I wouldn't even touch the paperwork for that stuff.

Then there are all of the horrid school fundraisers you get stuck with. My poor kids. Mom would not play. I might order something so they aren't the only child in the whole wide state that had zero orders. But if they gave out prizes for least kids would RULE!!!

And now its also Choir. Luckily they sell poinsettia's right before Christmas...a pretty easy deal. But who has to go pick all that crap up??? And who doesn't even want to??

So now I have been moved into a whole new level of fundraising. Fundraising for mission trips. Uh huh. These make the others look like small fries. Because you know they are going to go somewhere far away. With a plane ticket involved.

You would think that the fact that these fundraisers will help me dig out from under the current $700 trip price would really change my mind and get me motivated to get the kid selling, right? Not so. I just want to puke several times a day or whenever its brought up. Because I know I'm paying for the whole thing. And its ALOT of money. That we really need to put elsewhere. Yep, so much for paying off that bill this year.

Giving up Coca-Cola and the beginning of fundraising for a $700 trip, all in the same month.

Kill me now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Autumn Asks: What kind of mother are you?

I have a few christian blogs that I like to follow. They give you verses or stories and how it all applies to everyday life. They are encouraging.

Recently I read a post on one of my favorites and was extremely shocked by the message. I'm not going to mention which blog, because with the exception of this post, they have all been good Godly and loving messages. Not feel good stuff - learning stuff.

This one was beyond harsh. So much so that I found myself gritting my teeth and it just kept rolling around up there in the back of my empty head bothering me. So, now I will purge it.

Let me start by saying I believe in being a stay-at-home mom. I believe it is best for most kids - although not all. I believe more mothers would like to be sahm's. I know we sacrifice greatly for me to stay home. It's important to us.

I also know mother's that do not want to stay home. Mother's that CANNOT stay home as they are the sole income. There are a million other reasons also. And I'll be right up front and say I believe single mothers SHOULD work. How do the kids learn work ethic otherwise?? They have to be TAUGHT. But, work can be defined in many different ways.

And mostly I know there is no single mothering answer for all situation on the face of the earth.

But I also know mother's that should not be mothers. Family members that had kids because it was the next thing to do. They didn't so much want them as check them off a list. But still. I'd not go this far....

"But what did I expect? Young women are having babies amid a culture that has murdered maternity and everything that pertains to it. To have a heart that is warm and welcoming is thought to be a sign of weakness and mental illness.

Many of us grew up without mothering. We ate our bowl of cereal in the morning, gathered up our homework, and caught the bus to school, where we were just a number or a grade. Then we returned home and took out our key and opened up an empty house. When Mother finally arrived home from work, she was tired, and there was supper and laundry and all of the tiny details of running a house. No time for a nice long talk about the bully at school. No time for a story, and often not even a hug or word of affirmation. A few TV shows later, and we were off to brush teeth and crawl into bed in anticipation of another day. And so most of us have come to believe that this is what mothering entails: taking care of the physical needs of a child, but with little left over for the emotional and spiritual care every human being requires."

Ok. My mom worked. That is probably the biggest reason I don't. I HATED being in daycare (I only remember in-home situations, not actual centers). I wanted to be home. I wanted to be with MY family. That is where I was safe and happy. This is what makes me stay home even when its beans and rice....again. What it was not, is the picture above.

As I got older and my mom worked I could not be in extracurricular activities because I had no ride. Mom was working. I came home, threw down the books and camped in front of MTV. Healthy, no?

"In fact, children in this age have been reduced to the status of the family dog. If they are fed well, groomed and given nice little places to sleep and play, parents are considered successful. Just like the faithful family pet, children are allowed inside the lives of their parents periodically, but only on special occasions and with great effort. Then they are shut out again into the cold and expected to deal with loneliness in any way they know how."

I know a couple of these people. But most are not like this. Even if their time is limited, they spend time with the kids. Some even cater in unhealthy ways due to time constraints and guilt. But they FEEL it - they love their child.

And here is my other problem with this bit of writing. She is judging/speaking of the "culture" we live in. To me, this does not sound like she is speaking to a christian audience per say. Yet, we are not to expect the same fruit from the unsaved as from the saved. How is telling the unsaved they treat their children like dogs a teachable moment? How does that show God's love? Jesus said LOVE. Ditto for the christian audience. Do you really think that calling my kid a dog is going to make me sit up and take note of what you are saying?

Near the end of the article she does give great advice on how to show our children how much we love them and how important they are:

And here is an incomplete list of the practical application of these principles:

  • Smile at your child when he wakes up in the morning, welcome him into the new day.
  • Avoid "gripe groups" of other mothers who sit around and complain and run their children down.
  • Exclaim in a cheerful tone, "Hey--did you know that I like you a lot?"--often.
  • Tell the child stories of his birth/adoption and how you fell in love with him.
  • Allow your child to interrupt you when you are sewing or online or cooking, without conveying frustration.
  • Look into his eyes when he is talking to you.
  • Sit on the floor and play with him.
  • When you take him to the park, go on the slide and the swings with him.
  • Love his father--the man that he came from, even if that father is no longer part of your lives.
  • Let your arms and your heart always be open to him.
  • Don't postpone discipline--be consistent.
  • Be willing to be passionately involved--correcting him and reasoning with him.
  • Beware of using distractions such as media, etc. that are attempts to replace his need for your attention.
Of course, none of us can be "motherly" without a heart-transplant. This world is too much with us; it is part of our flesh that will not be totally conquered until we are translated into the next life. At times, we are buffeted by the complexities of life on earth, and we are tempted to lash out our frustrations on the most vulnerable ones in our lives.

Sorry. I take exception again. I know many people with no religious beliefs that are very motherly. Christian's do not have a market on being a good mom. (And yes, you could argue the point that it doesn't matter how good of a mom you are on THIS planet...but I'm not even going there.) I even know sahm's that homeschool and are supermom's..... and want nothing to do with religion.

Hmmmmm. I wonder why.

Ladies!!! As mother's we need to LOVE one another! Stop all the judgment and finger pointing! The sahm vs. working mom is so tired. No situation fits all people. No one group has all the right answers. And even if you want to say that the only right way to raise your kids is by The Word (Bible), you still have a problem. Lets start with girls wearing skirts vs. pants. Even the Christians don't always excuse me, there is actually a verse in the Bible that says believers cannot agree with each other (sorry, don't have it memorized).

Be a sister...not a critic.

Monday, March 16, 2009

7 Little Things That Make Me Disproportionately Happy

This is a blatant rip-off from a post on Serene Journey:Tips to Enjoy Life. Loved her list and her commenter 's ..... although the one that said lap dance was TMI.

"There are a lot of things that make us happy, that make us smile. But what about all those little things those seemingly unimportant, often overlooked things that bring us a HUGE, disproportionate amount of joy?"

So here are my 7:

1. Receiving a new book in the mail from BookMooch. This is a trading site so I didn't actually pay for it in the traditional sense....I traded for it. Free books rock.
2. Ending up somewhere breath-taking in nature. A walk in the woods or mountains or the beach. Nature is so beautiful! And I can't help but thank God every time I end up seeing these wonders.
3. A fun day or trip with my whole family. This almost never happens now that Bones is old enough to live on his own. So at this point, just having the 5 of us sitting around a table eating, joking and cutting-up is sheer happiness.
4. Growing, harvesting and eating my own food. So far that has only been tomatoes, but the joy of FRESH food and knowing my hands and work are responsible for the outcome makes me very happy.
5. Finding an incredible bargain. It can be clothing, house stuff or food even. Being able to use our money wisely always makes me ultra happy. I'm a geek. I know it.
6. When my husband reaches out and holds my hand. Whether its walking across a parking lot, taking a walk or whatever. Nothing makes me feel more happy and cherished than holding DH hand.
7. Time spent with true friends. This never happens enough in life. Especially if you move often. The happiness factor just from an evening sitting around with my friends is not only a happiness booster...its a sanity saver.
So, there you have it . The little things in life that make me disproportionately happy. And even though this is not really a "tag" post, I'd love, love, love to read your answers:

Melissa at A Contemplative Joy
Adrielle at all that is precious
Angela at Adventures of a Supermom
Kylie at Bus Driver
Mary at Confessions of a Craft Addict
Donna at Confessions of a Crazy Lady
Molly at She Sure Is Strange/Dark Oak Woman
Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Amy at Having it All
Jennifer at Joyful and Graceful Living
Kelly at Our Life is a Riot
Debbie at Suburb Sanity
Suzie at Up the Hill Backwards
Heather at Want What You Have
Carrie at with all that I have been given
Heidi at Rainbow After the Rain

Friday, March 13, 2009

American Samoa

American Samoa at 14-degees South latitude is the USAs only possession south of the equator. It consists of five volcanic islands and two coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean about 2,300 miles southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii. Its close neighbor, Western Samoa, is an independent country. Pago Pago (pronounced Pango Pango) on the island of Tutuila, is America Samoa's capital and largest town.
The other less populated islands are: Aunu'u, Tau, Ofu, Olosega, Swain and the small isolated atoll: Rose Island. A Polynesian island of volcanic origin, Tutuila (American Samoas largest island) is dominated by Rainmaker Mountain and the large port off of Pago Pago.

The weather is warm and humid all year long with average temperatures ranging from 65°F to 90°F. There is a wet season (summer) between November and April and dry season (winter) from May to October. The vegetation is lush and there are plenty of deserted sandy beaches to enjoy. Tutuila can easily be circumnavigated by car in less than a day.

American Samoa remains an unincorporated territory of the USA. Its people are US nationals, but not citizens.

The economy of the islands is based on fishing and processing of fish, particularly tuna and canned fish are a major export article. It is important to agriculture, although crops occupy only 15% of the area of the islands, of which 1 / 3 accounted for plantations, and the remainder is mostly owned by tribal communities. Crops include:yams, taro, chlebowiec, vegetables, coconut palm, pineapples and papayas.
There are several different tribes on the islands....which brings several different types of "native dress".
For arts, it is mostly practical. Plus there are all the ceremonial dances and such. The other really interesting thing are the body tattoos. And really, I did try to find a good picture of them. Most of the pictures were nude. The others were of men that were So, in the end I ran across this one.
Booking my ticket now.

Then, my favorite...the children!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spring Break

I love spring break.

Well, I didn't love it as much when we lived in Panama City, Florida. Talk about crazy madness. Thousands of college and high school students clogging the roads and backing up traffic. That was more than a little annoying. But the people watching was supreme.

Anyways. We usually take a vacation to see family at spring break. When we were in Omaha we would go to Texas or Florida...which was a much needed break from the winter. This time we are heading the opposite way...into colder weather. There's something wrong with that.

Hope everyone else enjoys their spring break with their families. And if you go somewhere cool tell me all about it. Especially if its a tropical island or a cruise. One day!!!

(The worst part of having a husband that serves in the desert..... the fact that they are not interested in going ANYWHERE with sand ever again.)

So we are off to Arkansas....with Daddy even! I'd better take pictures so I can prove it at a later date.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ya think?

" You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government can not give to anybody anything the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

Dr. Adrian Rogers 1931-2005

Monday, March 2, 2009

Parenting Rules I've Broken...or What an Adopted Child Will Teach You

For the longest time, we were the perfect little family of four. We had a son first, and then a daughter 6 years later.

And we had all those parenting rules we used.

You know the ones:

1. Do not co-sleep. Children belong in their own beds. Or, parents need their privacy and have no business bringing kids into their beds. Kids will stay in your bed forever and be hard to get into their own beds. And kids need to know how to put themselves back to self-sooth.

2. Do not let your kids be picky eaters. They will not starve themselves and will eventually eat what you give them as long as you don't give in. This is important as you are building up their future health by feeding them a balanced diet.

3. Put your child in child-care type situations as soon as possible. You don't want to have a child that will only go to mommy. Children that will not go to others are spoiled. It needs to be broken. This is not healthy for the child.

4. The goal of parenting is to teach independence as soon as possible.

5. All you need is love. If you love a child, they will love you back. Are wounds are healed by love.

6. Screaming, crying, acting-out children in public show a lack of parenting skills.

7. The younger the child at adoption, the less likely you will have problems.

8. If I am not racist, my kids will not do anything or be racist either.

9. Therapy is only for the really bad kids.

10. Your kids actions are a reflection on you.

Some of these rules the first two taught us were no good. But for the most part, they played right into all this.

And then we adopted. Talk about one of the most rewarding things we have ever done!! It's a whole different dimension of love brought into our family. And talk about life lessons at every turn!

Lately I've seen a rash of posts on parenting issues. And I read these and laugh. 5 years ago I would have been nodding my head in agreement and dancing all around that band wagon.

Not so anymore.

So here is a glimpse of some of the parenting lessons our little Mighty Mouse has proven to be faulty at best -- and ridiculous to the extreme.

1. Co-sleeping. Talk about a hot button issue. And before I get any lectures, you need to know that we lost a niece that was under a year old while co-sleeping. Yes, I know there are dangers..although in that case I do not believe the co-sleeping was in the least responsible -- but I've heard all about how that had to be it. Hogwash.

a.) Children need their own beds/rooms. Ok. How about when the child has been co-sleeping with foster parents or, as in our case, sleeping with a crib mate or in a room with 30 other infants. So, you think its humane to slap that baby down in a bed and a room all by herself? No sounds of others sleeping to comfort her? Just dead silence in a situation where there has never been silence before? And playing a radio is not a physical presence. They know that.

Now, there are different ways of co-sleeping. It could mean in the bed. It could mean in a co-sleeper, attached to the bed. In our case it meant in a travel crib right up against my side of the bed. I could reach out a hand and touch her when she got restless and upset...and she would quiet right down and go back to sleep.

b.) Parents need their privacy. Yes, they do. Get creative. It can be done. Different timing, different rooms, whatever. Have an affair with your spouse. Get a sitter and go somewhere..... It's a season. It's not forever.

c.) Kids will never leave your bed. Whatever. Now, it will be harder for some than others. In our case, we moved to a new house at two, showed her what room was going to be hers and she slept in it from the first night on...even on a sleeping bag before the furniture arrived. Yes. We were shocked speechless. Others have a harder time but it can be done.

And on that subject, once MM was old enough to be out of a travel crib, we changed the arrangements to a sleeping bag. No padding. Nothing special. We didn't make it comfortable on purpose. And after moving to her own room, whenever she needed us at night and was frightened, we drag out the sleeping bag and she can sleep by the bed. (From day one she had a crib in a room that she shared with her sister - and it was always referred to as her bed.)

d.) Kids needs to know how to self sooth. Ummm, with adopted children, you have to BREAK self-soothing behavior and teach them to rely on you as a parent. This is shooting yourself in the foot and prolonging attachment. Mostly this is a orphanage behavior but is also seen in negelcted children.

2. Picky eaters. I think I covered this in my last post pretty well. Our child will hold out until she looses enough weight that we have to stop. Its not worth a neglect charge. Some kids have the staying power and will to outlast you beyond the safe point. Don't assume all kids can be manipulated with food withholding.

And yes, the fact that she is not getting the nutrition base she needs drives me insane. I want her to be healthy. I want her to eat meat and veggies. I want my choices of out to eat to be NOT limited to whether or not they have something that she will eat. (And now that she is almost 5 I have no problem with eating in front of her and telling her she can eat when we get home since she doesn't want anything they have. I don't cater very often.)

3. Child care situations. I used to think a child that couldn't be left for an hour was a spoilt brat. I beg forgivness for this now. MM spent years terrified. Think about it. Abandoned at about a month old while you are sleeping. Six months later handed over to complete space aliens after waking up from a car ride/nap. It seemed like every time she closed her eyes, her entire world and everything she loved was GONE. How does she know I'm coming back? The others didn't. And this is all pre-verbal. All these memories are remember by feelings, not words. And those feelings? Terror. Fear. Confusion. Crying. So, in situations where it looks like she's being left by her latest love interest....complete terror. There is no crying it out. It is sheer terror. And the only answer is mom. Guess what....babysitters and child care can wait a couple years. Its a season. A season the child NEEDS in order to learn to trust. She has NO REASON to trust at this point. (It took 3 years for her to work through this...but now she is easily left and comfortable being left.)

4. Independence as soon as possible. See above. What she needed to learn was trust and relationships. She needs to know there are people she can depend on...and practice. This will help her be a loving mother later on. If she never learns dependence, she will spend a lifetime of broken relationships or skin deep relationships that never go anywhere.

5. All you need is love. No. Love does not fix everything. Some of these children come to you unable to love. It can take years of therapy to work on again, most of the damage was done before language developed in the child. They might not be able to tell you the problem...they just react to the primal memory of the feelings. Some children cannot be fixed. Ever.

6. Screaming and acting out in public are parenting issues. See above. And some disorders NEED a non-reaction at first. You have no idea if THAT KID is one of the damaged ones, and THAT MOM is doing what she needs to do at the moment.

7. The younger the child at adoption, the less likely the problems. Thousands of parents can refute this one. The child had 9 months with their birth mother even if they are given away at birth. The fact that the child has no language does not mean it has no senses or feelings. You have no idea how each individual child is going to react as they grow or even right away.

8. If I'm not a racist, my children will not do anything racist/ or the flip side, if a child does something racist they got it from the home. BIG MISTAKE. Whether your child started child care or kindergarten first, they are spending larger chunks of their weekdays with others than with mom and dad. And in the pre-teen and teen years they are all about their peers. Be careful what your kids pick up from care givers, teachers and peers. It's not always the parent responsible. BUT, the parent is responsible for STOPPING the problem and teaching the kid what they did wrong, etc. But don't fall into the trap of immediatley assuming racist comments come from the home.

9. Therapy is only for really bad kids. Therapy is supposed to help....hopefully BEFORE it is used to fix. I've read several stats that say that adopted children are over represented in therapy. Duh. We are forced to go through so many classes. We are taught what kinds of things could be potential problems and where to go to get help. How many birth parents are given this same info? NONE.

If you think something is wrong, it is okay to look for answers and ask questions of professionals. They will tell you if you are over-reacting. And they probably know better than your neighbor what are the big warning flags. There is no shame in trying to fix a problem before it becomes too big to ignore. Trust your gut.

10. Your child's actions are a reflection on you.

If your child does something stupid, like keying cars or shoplifting or something -- this does not make you a failure as a person. If you taught them right from wrong, walked the walk and were a parent for that child.....then you did right. You can't beat yourself up with what is wrong with you or how you are a lousy parent. We were all born with free will. The kids are more than capable of doing something they have been taught is wrong. YOU didn't do this.

If you know you've been the best parent you can be. If you respond and teach in the situations where your kids are in the wrong. Let the guilt go. You did your part. They have to do theirs.

So. I hope those die-hards on some issues will at least consider that they might not have the answer for every kid. It just doesn't work that way. And I was one of the worst offenders of this kind of thinking at one point.

We are all different. We know this as adults. So why would we expect everyone to parent the same and there be only one right way?

We need to grow up.