5 Powerful Adoption Quotes

5powerfuladoptionquotes

We’re nearing the end of November, which means we’re nearing the end of National Adoption Month. I love adoption. I think that is pretty obvious. I don’t love the reasons behind many children having to go through an adoption journey, but I love that a family can emerge from that situation. Because it is National Adoption Month, I’ve been on the hunt for a quote to use that spoke to me personally about adoption.

I must say, I found the hunt for a quote to be a bit difficult. Most of the quotes I saw were a tad heavy on the savior mentality, as well as the religious aspects of adoption. Other quotes used adoption language that we generally avoid in our house, such as being “chosen,” “destined,” “hand picked,” or “grown in the heart.” I wanted something upbeat, and non-cheesy, that avoided these things.

Here are a few of my favorite adoption quotes. If you’d like to save a higher resolution copy for yourself, just click below:

lovemakesfamily smallLove Makes a Family (Download large file here)
Yep. Love this. And it’s true. I especially love it because I feel like it incorporates any person who loves my kids into our family. Both those biologically related and not.

 

somethingsworththewait smallSome Things are Worth the Wait (Download large file here)
I think this is a great one for almost all adoptive families. No matter the adoption route (domestic, international, foster care) there is a whole lot of wait time. Waiting to be chosen by an expectant mom, or waiting to be matched with a waiting child, or waiting for travel plans, or waiting for a court date. So. Much. Time. Spent. Waiting. But worth it.

 

supermanwasadoptedtoo smallSuperman Was Adopted Too (Download large file here)
This one spoke to me because James actually said it once. It’s a real quote though. I’m not attributing my child as the original creator of it or anything, but he did say this exact phrase once. He was a huge Superman fan when he was about 7 (as many 7 year olds are). I was explaining Superman’s story of being adopted by the Kent family. James looked at me with surprise and said “Superman’s adopted too?!

 

momentinarmsforeverinheart smallA Moment in My Arms, Forever in My Heart (Download large file here)
I know our kid’s birth mother thinks of them often constantly, so I liked this quote. I feel like this could also be a pretty good quote for a foster mom after a child is reunified with their birth family.

 

assoonasisawyouadventure small
As Soon As I Saw You, I Knew an Adventure Was Going to Happen (Download large file here)
I think this is my favorite. I actually used it on a picture of my kiddos for Instagram and Facebook. This was exactly how I felt when I first saw my kids. As a foster parent I had no clue where life was going to lead us. Reunification, kinship, adoption. No idea. But I knew it was going to be an adventure. And that is what parenting is really, an adventure.

 

 

 

Just put an elf on your shelf

I’m not big on the imaginary aspect of Christmas. I’m not trying to be a grinch or anything. I just remember as a child figuring out Santa wasn’t real and feeling a lot of disappointment. My sister points to the end of her belief in Santa as the most depressing part of her childhood. I’m inclined to think that if children see Santa as the magic behind Christmas, when their belief in Santa ends, so does the specialness of the day. I have always wanted my children to appreciate the day for what it really means, and to enjoy Christmas because of the time spent with family. Not just because a jolly guy in a red suit gave you presents.

My children came to believe in Santa very strongly on their own (ie: through friends and the media). I’ve tried not to encourage it too much. For the most part, my children have never sat on Santa’s lap. I’ve never confirmed to them that Santa was real. We do put a few Santa presents and a stocking under the tree. But we try to focus on making Christmas magical in real life ways, like going ice skating, making pinterest worthy decorations cutting snowflakes out of construction paper, baking holiday cookies, decorating the tree. Just general family fun without emphasizing the fake aspects of Christmas.

Enter in The Elf on a Shelf.

A few Christmases ago Elf on the Shelf started filling up my Facebook news feed. I didn’t really know what it was about, but from what I gathered, elves across America were spending the month of December playing little tricks on my friend’s children. Some were turning the milk green. Others were making snow angels in Christmas sprinkles on the counter. Some were writing notes. Others going for joy rides in Barbie’s car. It was adorable. And looked like so. much. effort. Plus it seemed like another way of adding to the fake magic of the season, which I figured would eventually be outgrown, possibly leaving no real magic behind.

I vowed that as cute as those little elves were, our family would not be purchasing one. And we didn’t. Yet this year we sort of ended up with one anyway.

Mariyah: Wow! Mom look! It’s an elf on the shelf.

Mariyah is standing in the checkout line with me at Target. The usual spot for candy bars has been taken over by elf on the shelf books, dolls, and paraphernalia.

Me: Cool.
Mariyah: I really want an elf on the shelf.
Me: I bet you do. I’m sorry, but I’m not buying you one.
Mariyah: Mom! We need one.
Me: We need one? Do you even know what they do?

Of course I knew what they were supposed to do: suck up mom and dads free time each evening as we brainstormed ideas like spelling out the words “Merry Christmas” in green and red jellybeans for our children to eat the next morning.

Mariyah: They watch you from the shelf every day and tell Santa if you’re good or bad. Kids can’t touch them or their magic goes away.

Ahhhh, she didn’t know about the tricks. She just thought they sat on the shelf.

Me: Would you really want someone watching you every day and telling Santa if you’re good or bad?
Mariyah: Yes! Someone has to tell Santa about my bad behavior or he won’t know! I need an Elf on the Shelf.
Me: If you want an Elf on the Shelf, then just put an elf on the shelf. I’m not spending 30 bucks on that thing.
Mariyah: You can’t just put any elf on the shelf. It has to be a real Elf on the Shelf.
Me: Sorry honey, but I’m not buying one. If it’s that important to you we can make our own.
Mariyah: I NEED THAT ONE!

I can see a 6 year old Target meltdown coming…

Me: Careful with your voice. That elf might be watching you right now. That’s probably why they put them in the checkout line, to watch kids in the store.

Mariyah quickly straightens up.

Mariyah: He has peep holes in that box?
Me: He might.
Mariyah: Okay. I’ll make my own elf on the shelf. I don’t need that one.

So we get home and I go digging in the Christmas boxes. I find an elf stocking hanger from Rob’s childhood that his mom passed to us a few years ago. Perfect. I present it to Mariyah who is ecstatic and promptly places her elf on the shelf.

putanelfontheshelf

 

Mariyah: Good thing he wasn’t watching me yesterday when I was supposed to be folding my laundry, right mom?

Since she doesn’t know about the tricks, I figure that is the end of that. You place an elf on your shelf and you’re good for the holiday season. Nope. She woke up the next morning and ran to her elf (which she named Elfapha – get the reference?) and declared….

Mariyah: Elfaba didn’t move!
Me: Elfaba is supposed to move?
Mariyah: Yes! Every night the elves are supposed to report back to Santa and then move to a new spot.
Me: Every single night?

Somehow I missed the memo that I would need to remember to stealthily move this thing around every evening…

Mariyah: Yes. I think my elf was too tired last night. I think tonight Elfaba will move. And maybe play a trick on us.
Me: A trick? You didn’t mention that yesterday…
Mariyah: Yep. I forgot until now. Leo said that some nights the elves play tricks. I’m hoping Elfaba dumps flour all over the floor like snow.

And I’m hoping Elfaba doesn’t.

Me: Honey I think some of the elves are probably bigger tricksters then others.
Mariyah: We have a really big trickster! I can tell! I can’t wait to see what Elfaba does tonight!

Oy vey. I’m so tempted to tell her it’s all a sham. But I just can’t. I can’t squelch her joy. So much for keeping this low key and not perpetuating the fake magic of Christmas. I’m already trying to come up with ideas that don’t involve pouring flour all over the floor.

 

Tuesday Morning Coffee Talk: Baby Names

JamesCoffeeTalkTuesday

One thing that never gets old is talking about baby names. It’s just so fun!  And leads to hours of useless conversations. There’s the wistfulness (“That’s the best baby name ever and I wish I had a baby to name that!”). The coveting of others (“I was going to name my baby that but she stole it!”). And of course the judgment (“Seriously North West?”).

We didn’t name James or Mariyah. I’ve talked a bit about Mariyah’s name before. It was a name that we grew to love, and one that really fits her. James was named after someone from his family of origin. The name James has actually always been one of my favorite names. Plus we have a fair number of James’s in our family so it worked out well. Ties to his past and to the present.

Violet was our first child that we got to name ourselves. We actually picked her name pretty early. I say “we” because as birther of the baby obviously I needed to give approval, but my husband came up with the name Violet. Pretty early in my pregnancy he came home from work and we had the following conversation:

Rob: I saw the best baby name ever today!

Erin: You did? What was it?

Rob: Violet

Erin: That is a great baby name. I actually really like it. I kind of feel like the baby is going to be a boy though…

Rob: No. I think it’s going to be a girl and we’re going to name her Violet.

Erin: That’s so sweet that you were looking at baby names all on your own without any prompting from me. What book or website did you see this great baby name on?

Rob: Website? I saw it on a paint chip at work.

To be honest I kind of wanted to name Violet Scout. I’ve been a little fixated on the name Scout since my To Kill A Mockingbird obsession in high school. There were a couple reasons I gave up this lovely name. 1) Scout’s name in the book isn’t really Scout anyway. 2) As a transracial family, it would have felt a little odd to name our baby after a book where race is a central theme. 1) The baby name judgement police don’t usually take kindly to names like Scout.

Thus we named our little bundle of joy… after a paint chip.

Had Violet been a boy I have no clue what we would have named her. I was pretty in to the name Benjamin. Just like James, it is a name I have always loved. Unfortunately that wouldn’t have worked as Benjamin is generally shortened to Ben, and Ben Bohn isn’t exactly harmonious. Plus we are friends with a family who have a James and a Ben. So yeah. Don’t want to be a baby name thief.

Do you have a baby name theme? Perhaps all your kids names start with K or come from the bible?  What are your favorite baby names? What are the worst? Any really awesome ones you are dying to use but can’t for some reason? Maybe you have a boy’s name you love, but you’ve had a run on girls in your house. Perhaps you spent your whole life longing to name a child Jack, and then married into the last name Jackson. I’d love to hear your thoughts on baby names. Talk to me on this Tuesday Morning!

 

One year and two weeks

Violet is one year and two weeks old today. That doesn’t seem like any kind of milestone does it? But it is for me. Mariyah was one year and 14 days old when I first met her on that cold January day almost 6 years ago. I can still see the minivan pulling up and two small children getting out. I keep looking at tiny little Violet and thinking “Wow I can’t believe Mariyah was this small when I met her.”

I guess the feeling is a bit similar to the one many parents feel when they look at a newborn, and are reminded of how tiny their growing child used to be. Since I didn’t know Mariyah or James as newborns, I don’t have those thoughts about them when I see a brand new baby.

I must admit that there is something a little bittersweet about Violet reaching this particular age. I think it is the slightly painful reminder that I did not get to know my children during their infancy. Every moment up until now (the first tooth, first steps, first words) I missed for Mariyah. Every moment after now, I was there for.

oneyear2weeks

I’ve always had a soft spot for one year olds. In college my favorite babysitting charges were always the 12-24 month olds. They still look like babies, yet they are independent enough to only scream half of the time when you put them down. They also like to cuddle, and generally still take pretty good naps. Pure bliss right? I’m excited to be entering this phase with Violet. I’m so happy I got to experience this phase with Mariyah. But then there’s that little prick in my heart that I never experienced this point in James’s life.

I’m not sure what percentage of my readership has seen Shrek 4. Based on its box office success, I figure it’s probably not a large portion. Movie buffs please bare with me for a moment while I explain the premise of a film your children may or may not have already forced you to see. Essentially Shrek is feeling a little stressed out by his life with three screaming children, which I’m sure no one here can relate to. Rumpelstiltskin tells Shrek that if Shrek gives up a day from his passed, he can have a day in exchange. Though he could have picked any day to give up, of course the plan goes awry when Shrek is duped into giving up the day he was born.

I think about this premise sometimes. If I could give up a day, what day would I take in return?

I think I would take the day that James turned 1 year and 2 weeks old. It would just be an average day. We would probably wake up early. There would be cuddling and bottles. I’d be able to feel his fluffy baby afro and kiss his soft baby cheeks. I’d put him in the carriage to take him to the park, hear his baby laugh, and see his slightly toothy baby smile. I’d take him home for his nap and spend a few minutes observing what a peaceful little sleeper he was (with his thumb in his mouth I’m sure). I’d bathe him. Give him his dinner. Kiss him goodbye for another 3 years.

I don’t know what day I’d give up. Probably the day we all had the stomach flu or one of those days last week where the water heater was broken. But this is the day I would take.

Then I would have been able to experience this sweet age with all 3 of my kids. Ah well. Such is life.

Moms Zumba Class

I’ve been working away at my resolutions and I think it’s going pretty well. I was able to get the bills out just a mere two days late rather than 5, and I’ve already enthusiastically listened to the first installment of The Magic Tree House Series. I decided to accomplish resolution number 5 by joining a weekly moms Zumba class. It’s great because you can bring your baby. The babies play in the corner. The moms shake their grove things for an hour. Mission accomplished with no additional cost for childcare.

momszumbaclass

I’ve taken Zumba from another instructor before and really enjoyed it. I’m not good at it or anything. But I don’t think you need to be good to burn a lot of calories. You just have to keep moving. I mostly like it because it’s a fun way to exercise… once you’ve been doing it for a few weeks. Your first class usually goes something like this: people are kicking their legs, you catch on and start kicking, by then they are shimmying to the left, the second you start shimmying to the left, they start shimmying to the right, you bump them, step on their toes, and maybe even accidentally fist pump into their face. You spend a lot of your first class feeling guilty about the pain you have inflicted on others, and also trying to avoid catching glimpses of your off beat steps in the mirror. Even if you’re great at Zumba, when you start with a new instructor you have no clue which moves they are going to do, so the previously mentioned scenario still happens. There are few things more awkward in the exercise world then your first week in a new Zumba class. I say “few things” rather than “nothing” because my good friend once passed wind at yoga class during downward dog.

On my first day of class, I hadn’t shaved my legs. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not exactly the most reliable leg shaver. In fact it should probably be on my list of resolutions. I left it off mostly because I tried to put things on the list that I thought I would actually accomplish on a regular basis. I did have every intention of shaving for this particular occasion, but the hot water heater in our apartment had broken, so I hadn’t showered in 3 days. You’re probably thinking that a women without running water should not be going to an exercise class. You’re probably right. But I had already RSVPed and had high hopes that our landlord would fix the water heater while I was gone (spoiler alert: he didn’t).

I entered the class with my fluffy legs (save for one small patch near my knee) and selected a spot on the far right of the room just out of view of the mirror. Naturally the most athletic looking mom in the class took the spot right next to me. There is something that I’ve noticed about moms who are superior to others, they are usually incredibly nice, or incredibly mean. This particularly fit mother was one of the super nice ones. She actually whispered to me that I was doing a great job despite the fact that I spent the next 45 minutes continually stepping on her toes.

For the last 15 minutes of class, the instructor had us partner up for some non Zumba physical fitness activities. Namely ab exercises. Naturally the nice fit mom ended up being my partner. Naturally the first thing we were told to do, was stand next to our partners heads so that they could hold our ankles, while doing reverse crunches.I’m pretty sure I witnessed her hand jerk as if receiving an electric shock the first time she made contact with my skin. But thankfully she didn’t comment on my inch long leg hair which was surely poking her in the palms. She spent the next 60 seconds performing 60 perfect reverse crunches. Have you ever watched someone who is really good at something and gotten the idea that it must be easy? Her crunches were so perfectly formed that I was overwhelmed by a confidence that I too could nail the reverse crunch.

The time came for us to switch roles. I put my hands on her silky smooth ankles in preparation for the exercise. “Okay ladies. Ready. Go!” The instructor called out. I tensed my muscles for action, firmed my grip on her ankles, and peered down at my legs which were ready for lift off. Nothing happened. I’m not even kidding. Nothing. My body stayed perfectly flat laying on the mat. I remember when I was a kid asking my mom why someone who was paralyzed couldn’t move. My mom said that although their brain is sending the MOVE message to their legs, their legs can’t receive it, so nothing happens. My brain was desperately sending the MOVE message to my abdominals but they clearly weren’t receiving it. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with Violet’s birth or is simply due to the fact that I haven’t done a crunch in about two years. But I spent the next minute struggling like crazy to get my legs off the ground. Eventually I was able to get 2-3 reverse crunches in, but it required a bit of illegal side rolling, bending my knees, and using my hands to lift my feet off the ground by my sneakers. Honestly I would have preferred downward dog over writhing on the floor for 60 seconds.

I left the class a few minutes early. My abdominals just couldn’t make it another minute. The next day I could barely walk, so I’m still chalking the class up to a physical fitness win. I’ll be back next week. I figure with my current skill set the only way I can go is up.

Monday Morning Coffee Talk: Family Size

MariyahCoffeeTalk

A few weeks ago I mentioned the great debate I was having with myself on if our family should or should not renew our foster care license. Well just to get you up to date, we decided we would indeed renew it, though at this time we are not planning to take any placements. And when I say “we decided”, I really mean I decided. My husband is the kind of husband who prefers for me to make the plans, and then for him to hop along in the car for the ride.

Although we don’t have any immediate plans for number 4, I have begun to think a lot about what number 4 would mean for our family. Growing up I was one of 4 children. I liked having what was considered for our community, to be a large family. The two main reasons I liked having 4 kids in my family is that it gave me independence and also made it easy for me to fly under the radar. When you have 4 kids there is no way you can be there for all of them at every minute. Especially when they all play soccer on Saturdays. My mom was always driving a carpool or sending me off into one. Usually in a large family, the kid making the biggest ruckus is the one who gets in trouble. Which meant I could get a C+ in History, and that was fine because someone else in the family probably had a D in something. I always felt sorry for my friends with only 2 kids in the family. Usually two kids have two parents, which means a 1:1 ratio. As a child that looked like a lot of attention and expectations and also always having someone embarrassing me by cheering a little too loudly at soccer games.

The reasons I loved being one of 4 children, are the exact reasons I’m afraid of having a 4th, and the exact reasons I sometimes missing having just 2. I don’t want to miss anyone’s school event or be lackadaisical about a child’s grades. So that seems like a sign that I should stop at 3 correct? But I’ve also realized that when Violet enters kindergarten Mariyah will be in middle school. James and Mariyah are such good pals, and always looking out for each other, so it makes me sad to think of little Violet all alone at school with no one doing that for her. Which is why I’m still sitting here contemplating a 4th, even though all signs point to giant red octagons with the word STOP in the middle.

What about you? What seems like the right number for your family? Are you guys going Duggar style and letting the stork drop as many babies on your doorstep as he sees fit? Are you a “one and done” family? Were you happy as an only child, or with a house full of children growing up? Talk to me on this Monday Morning!

“I have a one year old” resolutions

It’s a new year. Not literally. It’s still 2014 and everything. But it’s a new year in Violet’s life. She is officially one. Actually she was officially one a week ago, but I’ve been too busy eating Halloween candy to post about her birthday party. I’ll just tell you now that it was fun. James had the day off school so he helped me make snacks and decorate. After Mariyah got home we invited our neighborhood friends over for a little pre trick or treat Halloween party. Violet turning one means I am one year post partum. The last year has flown by, yet Violet still feels so very tiny to me. Until I look at someone else’s newborn and then I’m like “wow my baby is huge!” Since it’s been a year since I gave birth, I decided it was time for me to start focusing on getting back to my old self. Body, mind, and spirit. Here is my list of “I have a one year old” resolutions for the upcoming months:

ihaveaoneyearold

1) I will actually read the books for book club

and contribute more then comments on how good the cheese spread is.

2) I will stop pumping at work.

Soon. Maybe not today. But soon. I hope this isn’t TMI for my formula friends, but I am kind of looking forward to wearing a regular bra again. And also looking forward to no longer flashing my co-workers who can’t remember to knock before they open my office door.

3) I will read to my kids and let them read to me every night.

No more getting Violet to bed and then claiming I am too tired for stories with my older two. This age will soon be gone. I will suck it up and spend the 7 minutes listening to my child sound out the word “tomorrow”. And then when thats finally over I will read them an entire chapter from Harry Potter without skipping paragraphs.

4) I will send the rent check, school tuition, and daycare check on time.

Did I ever do this? If not I will start now. No more realizing it’s the 5th of the month and scrambling to pay the bills.

5) I will exercise.

No resolution list is complete without this one. I’m not talking about loosing weight or running a marathon here. I’m just talking about doing a little something every week so that my children observe me placing value on a healthy activity level. And also so that I don’t feel quiet as guilty when I have a slice of each available pie at Thanksgiving dinner.

And that’s it! 5 simple tasks. I can do this.

Guest Post: What it was like as a teen in foster care

Today’s guest post was written by my friend Jackie from LJSkool. She spent some of her youth as a teen in foster care where she was placed with a very caring foster mother. I know you will all enjoy reading her story. If you are interested in submitting a guest post, please do so here.

I am sitting in my comfy chair playing Freecell solitaire, while my curry chicken casserole cooks in the oven, trying to think of what to say about being a foster-daughter. Then it hits me. The only reason I play this game is because my foster-mom, Naida, played it endless times and it makes me feel good that I have finally conquered it. The only reason I’m making chicken with curry is because she introduced me to it. In fact, it was a staple once I became used to the flavor. And the only reason I’m sitting in my chair instead of on the couch is because that’s how she relaxed.

I am a middle class mom and live in a middle class neighborhood. So when I say things like, “My foster-mom” people stop and look at me like I just said I’m Cat Woman. How could someone like me have a foster-mom?!

How far back do you want me to go in telling my story? Do you want the part about how my parents met? I could go farther back. My dad grew up in an orphanage because his father went to prison and then his mother lost custody. My mother was the first baby to have the a new kind of paternity test because her mother wasn’t quite sure who the father was.

Not that far back?

After my parents married they had 6 babies that lived to term. My father had anger issues. My mother was depressed, often. When payday came he would go shopping for new shoes, new clothes, and new toys. For himself. When my mother cooked, if she cooked, it was one box of Hamburger Helper. That’s it. Vegetables and fruit were what rich people ate. I thought a side dish was the dish next to mine.

When they did buy us clothes, because the teachers would call and call asking where we were, they were quickly bought from the thrift store. Something always seemed to be wrong with the washer and/or dryer. Apparently those things need soap, softener, electricity. School was both awful and wonderful. I got to learn how to read and that opened up whole new worlds to me. The library become my own personal wonderland and I read every single thing I could get my hands on.

It was awful because the kids could be very cruel about the extended absences, the smells that emanate from an unwashed body, the librarian coming to your classroom to check your desk because you were the last person she saw with a particular book and it hadn’t been checked out properly.

Things like that make you not want to go to school. I had two choices, go to school and be rough housed and made of fun by the kids and teachers, or hide out at the stadium. Except when I did that my siblings weren’t protected from our father. One day, after my older brother had almost been beaten to a pulp, I walked 13 city blocks to the police department. I had had enough of my father’s outbursts. The sergeant made the mistake of asking if I was truant. I didn’t know what the term meant. After he dropped me off at school I overheard him talking to my high school guidance counselor about it. He was told that everybody knew about my family and my background but no one could make anything stick and until I was truant there really wasn’t much they could do.

Anyway, to make a long story short, because I can go on and on sometimes, I was finally placed in a foster-home at the age of 16. My older brother and younger brother had been placed in two separate homes a month earlier. My younger sister was placed a month after me. My two youngest sisters were never placed. They didn’t have enough truancy days.

I’m not going to go into the legal mumbo jumbo of the whole thing. We’d be here all day. Suffice it to say that in those days if something didn’t happen right in front of an adult, then it didn’t happen at all. No one looked for bruises in those days. Unless you were bleeding right in front of them it was chalked up to you being a kid.

Out of the 4 of us I am the only one who was well placed. I still have what’s known as Survivor’s Guilt. Sadly anyone can be a foster-parent. Anyone can take great advantage of a foster-kid. There just aren’t enough good people who want to, or are able to, help.

My foster-mom had a strong sense of Social Justice. She had been a missionary for a girls school in Inanda, South Africa. Had taught and worked in the inner city of Cleveland. She wanted to make a difference in the world. She served as the minister at my high school graduation. Yes, I finally graduated after 6 years. It took that long because my parents had moved us around so many times I had to keep starting over as a freshman when I was placed. That hurt, I was 16 years old! Naida made sure I went to summer school and I did my Junior and Senior years simultaneously. I was supposed to only be in foster-care for one year. Naida fought with the judge to keep me and to discontinue forced visitation with my family. Every time I saw them I would descend into a depressive state. There was just not enough I could do to help my siblings and that killed me. Still does. The funny thing is, she had decided that she was done being a foster-mom. If it wasn’t for my case worker begging her to take me who knows what would have happened.

Once I graduated she accepted a position in a new city miles away. I moved with her and stayed with her during my college breaks. She helped me get my first apartment. She was also the officiating minister at my wedding and my children knew her as Gramma. She passed away two years and and I miss her terribly. She went the extra mile for me so many times. She was my hero.

I don’t really keep in contact with my birth family. There is a lot of mental, and financial, instability there. My mother passed away when I was in my early 20’s. We had an argument at her mother’s funeral and we didn’t talk for 7 years. The last thing I said to her was, “You really think you are so right but you are dead wrong.” Yeah, I probably could have used better words. Ever since then I am very conscience of hugging the people I love and telling them how much I love them before parting, even when I am angry. Especially when I am angry.

After several tries to reconcile and help my family Scott, my husband, asked me to stop. Any time I get around, or even just talk with, someone from my family I get well, emotional. My PTSD kicks into overtime. Yes, even at the age of 50. Some scars don’t heal. You just learn to ignore them or find other ways to occupy your mind. Some people do not want to be helped and are happy the way they are, no matter how dysfunctional.

My focus has been on the family my husband and I created. We have two boys and they are are my pride and joy. They tell me that I’m the World’s Best Mom. I tell them that I am the best mom I know how to be and I hope that’s OK. I also focus on having a loving and respectful marriage. My husband is my harbor. He keeps me balanced and protects me. I don’t think it’s any accident that he is a big and tall man. God knew exactly who would be the perfect match for me.

jackieandfamily

So, yeah. I’m not “normal” by any stretch of the imagination. I sure have gotten good at a reasonable facsimile though.

Have I ever thought about being a foster parent? Absolutely. I just never thought it would be fair to the foster kids. I am making up this parenting stuff as I go. It’s probably also safer for me to be away from people who would harm their kids for them to be in The System, know what I mean? I did volunteer at Royal Family Kids Camp, a week long camp just for foster-kids, one summer and loved that. My church sponsored it and I was able to really connect with the kids on a level none of the other volunteers could match. We survivors can sense each other’s pain, if it isn’t there we do not trust you. Not totally. That is just a fact. On the other hand, it took me 3 months to come out of a depression from that.

Strong people are needed to be foster parents; tough people who don’t take any guff. People like Rev. Naida Sutch Gillespie, may she rest in peace.

If you would like to support RFKC click here: http://corona.royalfamilykids.org/

 

Tuesday Morning Coffee Talk: Halloween Candy

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Whenever there is something sweet in my house I just can’t keep away. I do try to resist temptation, but when I have a quiet moment the sweet treat will literally begin calling my name. I’ve tried all kinds of tactics to stop myself. I’ve created distractions, repeated empowering mantras about self control, reached for the carrot sticks. But experience has taught me there is only one way to silence the calls, and that is by eating the offending dessert.

For this reason I usually try not to buy a lot of unhealthy stuff or keep it in the house. I’ll splurge every one in awhile and buy a box of Oreos, but it’s rare. Usually when we want dessert we’ll take the kids out for ice cream where we’ll pay 4 bucks a person to be served a perfectly reasonable sized scoop. Although it doesn’t seem like the best move financially, I figure it’s saving me money and pain in the long run by helping me avoid type 2 diabetes. Plus we have to walk to the ice cream shop so I figure it makes the whole activity a little bit healthier.

Now that you know a bit about my relationship with desserts you might understand why Halloween is a painful time for me. My generous children generally come home Halloween night and pick out anything with nuts for me. It’s perfect because they hate nuts and I love nuts*. Almond Joys, Hershey’s with Almonds, Peanut M&Ms, all mine. I’ll let them eat a few pieces of candy Halloween night, they’ll go to bed, and I’ll eat nearly every piece they set aside for me. Then over the next few weeks I’ll pillage their candy each night as they sleep while attempting to teach them healthy habits during the day. It’s a sick cycle I know. And in recent years they’ve caught on to me. Last Halloween my son eyed me suspiciously while announcing “I know I had more candy yesterday…” I don’t want them to know I eat candy in hiding. I don’t even want to be eating candy in hiding. It’s just so hard not to.

This year I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf. I’m letting them go to town on their own candy. Every. Single. Day. Until that stuff is gone. Not so much for them, but for me. And it’s working great. The’ve already made a pretty big dent in it. And I was able to force myself into work with just one small bag of peanut m&ms. At this pace I’m thinking they can have all the candy gone in the next two weeks (just in time for pie season) without me being the one eating the majority of it.

How do you handle the massive amounts of candy every Halloween? Do you trash it? Recycle it for your late evening Trick or Treaters? Do you ration it out over the next several months? Or secretly steal it while your kids are sleeping? Perhaps you bring it into the office and pawn it off on your childless work friends? Talk to me on this Tuesday Morning!

 

*I must admit I actually only love nuts when served inside a candy bar. I tried to get on the whole snacking on cashews train, but just couldn’t get it out of the station.

6 Money Saving Halloween Tips

Well ladies and gentleman! The most wonderful time of the year is officially here. No, despite the current department store decorations I’m not talking about Christmas. I’m already all set there. It’s the other most wonderful time of the year. The time of the year where your child gets to go door to door soliciting candy for you to bring home and eat. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding Halloween to be an expensive holiday. There’s the decorations, the costume, and the endless amounts of candy to give out. Here are a few last minute money saving Halloween tips to employ this year.

Tips

1) Decorate your home with free printatables you find online.

Why in the world would you spend money on Halloween decorations when there are people out there slaving away over photoshop all day just so you can decorate your house for free? Download them. Print them. Relish in the extra dough you find yourself rolling around in.

2) Send your child to the closet for a costume

I’m not sure why parents across America are spending $30+ bucks on a Halloween costume every year when they have perfectly acceptable attire in their very own homes. What american child hasn’t shoved 7 Oriental Trading Company cowboy hats from birthday party goodie bags into that big space in the top of their closet? Pull it all out and get creative. Now is that plastic mustache’s time to shine!

3) Start Trick or Treating Early

One great way to avoid spending a lot of money is by not having to buy other people’s kids a ton of candy. The first year we had trick or treaters I gave out a handful to each. We went through 15 bags. I kept sending Rob to CVS to buy another package. I’ve gotten wiser in recent years by minimizing the time spent at home on Halloween afternoon and evening. Kids usually get out of school around 3:00. I would suggest leaving your home by 2:59.

4) The second you get home from trick or treating with your children, separate the gross candy from the good stuff.

“How is pulling out the Good and Plenty’s going to save me money?” you may be wondering right now. Well I’m sure you all know I am big on recycling. And here’s your chance to get on the boat with me. Recycle all that junk you don’t personally plan on eating from your child’s goodie bag by giving it to your late evening trick or treaters. They get candy, you don’t have to buy candy. One man’s trash is another teenager’s treasure. Tomato-Tomahhhhhto.

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5) Clean out your closets

Have a pretty high tolerance for gross candy? Just can’t seem to part with any of it? That’s okay. Clean out your closets! My mom has been doing this one for years and about two years back I started following suit. I actually keep a bag of junk that I want to pawn off on other’s in the closet. I fill it up with random things through out the year. Usually items given in goodie bags that we haven’t opened or touched. Packs of crayons, unopened play dough, stickers, coloring books. Now is your chance to not only have a clean house, but also make a child’s night. Because it there anything more exciting then getting home and finding a kazoo hidden among your Halloween candy? For a 5 year old, I think not.

6) Have Fun

This won’t actually save you any money. But every list of tips always recommends it as the last and final tip. So please, have a fun Halloween this year.