The Kiddos

The Kiddos

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Farewell my Beautiful Grandmother

I said goodbye to Grandma today and I had the privilege of speaking at her service.  I want to share with all of you my thoughts on this wonderful women who had such an enormous impact on my life.

“When I started out writing this, I had this brand new, pristine piece of paper, (hold up  paper) fresh, unmarked, pure and shiny.  But this here is what I ended up with, (hold up other paper) this wrinkled, smudged, and worn piece of paper.  It started out so perfect, but as I wrote, my hand smudged the words. When I didn't get things just right, I crossed them out and started over. Its tear stained in spots, messy in others, and I don't think I could think of anything better to represent a life well lived. So here it goes. 

‘You all knew Elizabeth (or Betty as everyone called her), as a friend, or a neighbor, a sister, a mother, or maybe you were just blessed enough to be touched by her very existence in some way.  She was someone I, along with several others, got the honor of calling my Grandmother.  Now I don't know the all the intimate details of her life before mine started, obviously. But I have heard many stories, most of them while sitting at her kitchen table elbow deep in some sort of canning concoction, pie recipe....perhaps while planting tomatoes in those little cardboard milk cartons.  I do know that she knew poverty, she knew sacrifice, she showed grace and kindness, and most of all she showed love.  She was the second born of nine girls, on a farm, my poor Papa.  But my grandma always said girls could do anything boys could do, only better, and she was taught that by her father.  Now one of my favorite stories was how she met her late husband Fred, my Grandfather.  She would beam as she recounted that blind date.  They went to the fair, her father had given her money if there was an emergency,  and she had made sure she had a rock in her pocketbook just in case.  I remember I always asked her how it ended and all she would say was, "well, we're together aren't we?"  So nearly 67 years of marriage, 6 children, 10 grandchildren, and 6 great-grand children later....I think we can assume she didn't need that rock. 

To me, my Gram was nothing short of a saint.  I have heard she had her moments, when in frustration she had told her kids she was leaving them and walked over the hill to her parents house just to escape the chaos.  My mom Judy, tells me it was pretty convincing to a five year old, and she cried and yelled at her older brothers for her now not having a mother.  Then there were the times that were familiar to me, when my cousins, my sister, and I would be so bold, well, mainly my sister Mandy.  Anyway she would end up being held in the chair (because she was too stubborn to sit there on her own) while the rest of us would end up standing in the corner with a mouth full of soap.  And I can't forget how I thought only a slave driver would make her grandchildren sweep the porch, dust the kitchen table set, or weed in the garden.  But looking back, those are the things that built our character, taught us boundaries, showed us that hard work was good for the soul...and ivory soap would not, in fact, poison us. 

My favorite memories though, are the small ones.  Being pushed on the swing-set, while my Gram would sing that song "Daisy, Daisy" or "You are my Sunshine" over and over again while the smell of fresh cut grass and sound of my grandpa pushing the mower hung in the air with the sun so warm it made the top of your head hot to the touch.  Going on walks down the drive way to get the mail and my grandma telling the dog to "sit" while she crossed the road to the mail box.  Or being taught to read with those "Dick and Jane" books and giggling behind her back because who one earth named their son that! And pretending to still be asleep when she came to check on me during my nap because I knew, she would pull the blanket off and cover me back up just right.  Then of course I don't think that there is a single one of us here that hasn't experienced being called the famous "Judy, Bonnie, Barbara" followed by a shlew of other incorrect names, before she got to the correct one, and then second guessed herself anyway.  

I can truly say that I have enjoyed all these years of observing what made her...Her.  That generosity she would show a stranger at the door wanting to sell her something, when she would invite him in for lunch (because we all know, she would never eat in front of company without offering them something as well), that compassion when any child put before her would get a hug and a kiss and be made to feel like they were one of her own, they were special, important.  That unwavering patience she would show to any situation that would drive most of us up the wall, absolutely insane, and of course that devotion that she showed to her husband, her family, and her faith.’

And so there I sat, my paper well worn, my hand sore from use, blackened by the ink that smudged along the way.  The story being written had changed not only the paper, but me, and now you for having heard it,  just like her in our lives changed all of us.  One of my Grandmothers frequent sayings was "It's hell to get old."  But I say, it sure beats the alternative. The end may have been hard, really hard, but her journey, her impact on our family, that was worth growing old for, and I hope, no I pray...that we all end up like this piece of paper.  Wrinkled, smudged, worn, and maybe even a little tear stained...because then, just like Betty, we all will have really lived.”

RIP Grandma
 April 3, 1927-December 26, 2017

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A New Years Message

There are those that say New Year's Day is nothing more than a new date on the calender, that its silly to think this gives you a new beginning, a slate wiped clean.  But I am one of those that tend to see the possibilities in things.  An empty notebook, a clean sheet of paper, a chalk board unmarred, they are all things that give me such motivation, such promise.  They are symbols of what could be.  An endless opportunity to start a magnificent story, or to make a complete mess of things and then start again when the page is turned...like life. 

So therefore every year I have dutifully made my resolutions to lose weight, save more money, drink more water; all those mundane superficial things that really mean nothing. But this year I have learned a lot about myself, my relationships, my friendships, my job.  I have learned that I'm not always as kind as I could be and I am quick to judge.  I have learned that sometimes your marriage has to fall apart, before it can come back together.  I have learned that one of the hardest things in life can be accepting the ones you love will not live forever.  I have learned that a great new friend can be amazing for the soul.  I have learned that its never too late to pursue your dreams. 

So in this spirit, this year I resolve to be a better me.  To be a little more understanding, have a little more patience, to sometimes be the reassuring smile, or the kind gesture.  If we all resolve to make these little changes in ourselves every year, then each year becomes an opportunity to not only become closer and closer to the person we strive to be; but the community, heck even the society we all need.  That being said have Happy New Year and be safe. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Judgement Free

It seems to be one of the hottest topics the last few years...gender identity and children.  I've read a lot of the articles, laughed at some of the crazy extreme stories, all while tucking away the important tid-bits into the back of mind to use as needed.  I've never had to really think about what would be socially acceptable with my daughter.  She likes all the stereotypically "girly" things, as well as a good dose of the less lady like stuff.  But no one looks twice at a little girl wearing jeans and a t-shirt, or riding a boys bike. 

With my youngest son I have had to take greater consideration in whether or not I should encourage, discourage, or just remain neutral on anything society would call a gender defining action.  From a very young age he has had little care for what is considered a girl vs boy activity, toy, or even clothing item.  I myself could care less.  If he wanted to dance around in princess clothes while digging his cars in the dirt, as long as he was happy, why should I tell him he shouldn't.  Isn't that what parents strive for?  Healthy, happy, well adjusted kids?  So neutrality has become my stance.

My family tells me it's because Luke's favorite playmate is his older sister.  I have, on several occasions, found them playing dress up together, both clad in fluffy dresses and high heel shoes.  He is the only one who will play house with her, or dolls, or do arts and crafts.  He loves to dance, and sing, and skip around, then run off on a Zombie Hunt with his older brother.  So I then think, he seems to be pretty neutral as well. 

I would say my first moment of question regarding the approach of "nothing is specifically for a boy or a girl"  happened while school shopping this fall.  My baby boy was now going out into the world of judgement, peer pressure, and bullies.  And what did he want to arm himself with for this first day of kindergarten?.....a blue glitter notebook with matching glitter pencils.  Once again, I personally, could care less.  But then the dilemma came to light.  Should I let him bring this to school?  Will he get picked on?  Will he feel bad about himself for liking this little insignificant notebook?  Will he then feel shame?  Shame.  One of the reasons I have remained so neutral on his choices over the years.  I never want my child to feel badly about himself for something that makes him who is. 

Then one day during soccer practice his cleats broke.   The only ones around that would fit him were pink.  What did he do?  He proudly laced them on, ran on the field, and exclaimed "Look everybody, I'm wearing pink cleats!!"  Then proceeded to kick his ball around, head held high with pride.  Its those moments that I think I must be doing something right.  That is my little boy out there running his heart out, clad in pink cleats, prancing down the field when he scores a goal, and he's happy.  What more could a mother want.  I'm not naive, I know that middle school could be cruel, and high school could be worse.  But I want him to go into it feeling confident in his own skin, and knowing that no matter what, his family is his judgement free zone.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My 10 Wishes for Mother's Day.

Mother's Day is just around the corner, so in honor of this special occasion, here is a list of the things I would like this year. (hope your reading this Honey!!)

1.) I would like to sleep in.  Really sleep in (with the door shut and LOCKED!!).  Not the kind of sleeping in my husband usually gives me on Mother's Day, when I practically have to push him out of bed to corral the house full of wide awake children running a-muck in the early hours of the morning because in my absence there is no one to appease their boredom.  Or the kind of sleeping in that came in the very early years of motherhood.  Where "sleeping in" meant my husband would go get the fussy baby, and wiggly toddler and put them in bed with us.  He of course would fall instantly back to sleep and I would lay there for the next 20 minutes with baby toes in my side or being asked repeatedly if it was "wake up time", only to finally give in and roll out of bed myself.

2.) I want everyone to dress themselves.  I mean I get it, I would love to have someone walk into my room in the morning and dress me like an overgrown barbie doll too, but come on.  If it were just daddy, those kids would be dressed and down stairs in no time flat.  Granted, my daughter would be miss-matched, my step son would be wearing boxer briefs because as he has told me "They are basically shorts"(....?!?!?), and my littlest son would have his pants and shirt on backwards and inside out, but the point is they would do it themselves.

3.) I want to shower undisturbed.  How nice it would be to not have the shower door thrown open every five minutes because my daughter is tattling, my son wants help putting his shoes on, or they want a different cartoon on the TV.  Daddy is on the couch, take it to him!

4.) I want to pee in peace.   I sometimes wonder if some sort of alarm goes off when I enter the bathroom, because every time, without fail, as soon as I drop my drawers and sit down, a child magically appears in front of me.  They will then always ask something very random that could have waited five more minutes.  "Mom, can we go for a walk after dinner?" or "Next year for my birthday, can we have a bouncy bounce?"  REALLY??  Its not really just the kids either, even the dog will come in and sit in front of me staring if I don't shut the door tight.

5.) I would like to sit through a meal (not made by me) and actually be able to eat it with everyone. This means: I don't care if I am eating blackened charcoal grilled cheese cooked by my husband. It will be the best blacked charcoal grilled cheese I have ever not had to prepare. My kids will get their own drink refill, not wait until I have finally sat down and put the first bite on my fork to pounce with the "I wants" (or better yet, they can GO ASK DADDY!). Not under any circumstance will I "hand feed" any of them because they have decided that regressing to an infant is the only way they will eat. If there is a condiment not on the table, I am not getting up to get it. Nor will I get up to turn on the light because the child asking thinks the Boogie Man will somehow grab them in the three foot distance between the table in the dining room and the light switch in the kitchen.


6.) I want an hour to read a book.  A very alone hour.  An hour that doesn't include a child crawling into my lap when I'm reading "Fifty Shades of Grey" and asking that I read aloud.  A magical hour where my kindle isn't scooped up if I put in down for a second, only to return to find said child seeing how many pages they can swipe through before I get back. 

7.) I want a day where every one's bodily functions are private.  I don't want to hear "Mommy, wipe me!" from my five year old, or "Oh my God Honey, look at this!" from my husband.  I don't need to know that my stepson's farts "smelled so bad at bed time last night" or that my daughter "blew a really giant booger."  If you're not going to die because of it, I don't need to know on Mother's Day.

8.) No means no. This applies to all situations on Mother's Day. No arguing, no whining, no crying, and no negotiating to get your own way. If I say no, just walk away. (This especially applies to any activities my husband thinks I would like to partake in after the kids have gone to bed.)


9.)  I want my kids go to bed and stay there. For once just as I sit down to relax, I don't want to hear a child jump out of bed. Which would usually my oldest because he needs a drink, a drink he didn't need 2 minutes ago when I asked before he got into bed. Then my daughter sees her brother wandering around and of course comes to investigate why. This now reminds the youngest that he needs Mommy to lay with him for "two minutes", so I am now beckoned back up the stairs. Of course after telling them all to get back into bed, my daughter needs another hug, my stepson is ninja fighting with his stuffed animals on his bed, and the little one is crying because Mommy is still not laying with him for "two minutes". This circle of events can take up to 30 minutes to subside. All the while my oblivious husband is downstairs relaxing in front of the TV. On Mother's Day...Daddy can put the kids to bed!

10.)  I want my children to know how much I love them.  This one speaks for itself.  Everyday, from now until I no longer walk this earth, and even after....they are the reason I breathe, the beat of my heart, every wish on every star, my motivation and inspiration, my first thought in the morning and my last when I shut my eyes, my reason to be.  And if having another 60 imperfect Mother's Days means we get to spend them together...I'm okay with that.





 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pretty

I didn't have a "fancy' or "girly" mother growing up.  My mom preferred jeans to dresses, motorcycle meetings to sit down dinners, and camping or fishing to laying on the beach and getting a tan.  It was I, who taught her, how to put on make-up and style her hair.  She focused her parenting energies more on the academic and athletic aspects of my adolescence.  I on the other hand, was a "girly" girl.  But because I didn't have much guidance in that area, I turned to magazines and other forms of social media to tell me how I should look and act. 

My mother let me, she really didn't know any better.  She didn't realize just how much a young girls sense of self image can be warped by obsessing over stick thin super models airbrushed to the nines.  So now that I had my own daughter I wanted to make sure she knew just how beautiful and perfect she was, how to do her hair, dress up, feel fancy, and to prevent her from ever thinking she wasn't good enough in her own skin.  Then the other day I was reading one of her class assignments, and I realized my approach had severely backfired.  It started out fine.  She listed her name, her favorite thing to do, her favorite color, and then came the very open ended fill in the blank; "People say I'm _________"  and scrawled in her little hand writing was the word "pretty".

This innocent little word was like a punch to the gut.  I turned the word over and over in my mind, "pretty"...yes, she is pretty, beautiful in fact.  But she is also smart, funny, charismatic, a loving sister, always willing to help, kind hearted, the list goes on and on.  But out of everything, she picked "pretty".  In my efforts to prevent her from ever feeling like I did growing up (and still do at times), I had put no emphasis on her other attributes.  What did this say about me as a mother?  I should have seen this coming.  Watching a six year old posing in front of her mirror in five different outfits before she will leave the house, should have seemed odd to me.  But I just thought it was cute.  Having to talk her out of a crying fit because her hair didn't look "just right" should have been a red flag.  But I just thought she was being moody.  Catching her trying to go to Sunday School in full face make-up, should have made me question the message I was sending her.  But I just thought she was being creative. This realization is extremely humbling.  Instead of raising my daughter to value everything about herself, strengths and weaknesses alike, I have taught her that in life, she is "pretty". 

She's a child.  She is suppose to get dirty, and look unkempt from time to time. She shouldn't care how she looks, not yet anyway.  I know this isn't something that can be changed over night.  But my goal is that I will tell her something positive about herself everyday that isn't related to her appearance.  Society puts too much emphasis on outer beauty as it is, I shouldn't be feeding it as well.  I want her to grow into a strong, intelligent, self sufficient woman that knows she is more than just a face, that what's on the inside matters even more than what's on the outside.  I want her to see herself that way I see her, the way everyone else sees her for that matter, as a little girl that makes the lives brighter of everyone she touches because of who she is, not what she looks like.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Random Act of Goodness

If you are reading this, perhaps you are one of my followers. Maybe you stumbled across this post by accident, or maybe, just maybe....you are someone who has benefited by a Random Act of Goodness.


I have always dreamed of making a difference.  I've never cared how, whether it be brightening someones day or changing someones life.  It all matters.  Every act of kindness in this world matters, it makes a difference, it doesn't go unnoticed.  So in the spirit of the season of giving I have come up with my "Grand Plan" so to speak.  A chance to start a movement......Random Acts of Goodness.
So here goes.  I am going to start giving out Random Acts of Goodness and I challenge you to do the same.  Now this can be as little as letting someone who is in a hurry in front of you in line at the grocery store, or as big as buying a family in need Christmas presents for their children.  It doesn't matter what it is, like I said, It ALL matters!  Here is where the "movement" part comes in.  I am now asking you to print out the following slips of paper (right click the photo, and hit print), cut them out and keep them on hand.  When you perform a Random Act of Goodness, simply give a slip of paper to the person when they thank you.  Or if its not face to face, somehow make sure they recieve it.  Then come back to this post and comment in the comments section that you gave out a "Random Act of Goodness".  You can go into detail and say what you did or just leave it short and simple.  If you have recieved an Act of Goodness, please comment below that you have done just that.  My goal is to get at least 100 people who have gone out of their way to make a difference.  Please help me to do this, please pay it forward.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Confessions of a Soccer Mom/Coach

I just recently finished coaching my daughter's soccer team.  I'll admit I wasn't going in blind, I coached her Spring league last year so I at least had that under my belt.  Although what a difference a season can make!  When I say that I mean last season the kids were a little older, most of them already having played the previous Fall.  But this season, coaching 4,5 and 6 year olds (most of which had never played before), was certainly an...experience.

I only had six kids on my team, two girls, and four boys.  How do teachers do it with a room full of children??  I had one boy thinking he was playing tackle football, one boy (the biggest one I might add) afraid of the ball, one boy who spent more time laying on the ground than on his feet, and another that literally said "No." to everything I asked him to do.  I did have one very sweet little girl who was the youngest on the team who did everything that was asked of her, never cried when she got ran over, and was not afraid to try to steal the ball from even the biggest of players.  Now my own daughter...I will brag a little bit.  She is fantastic!  Really she is, she has so much potential and scored the majority of our goals.  But that is when she wasn't on the sidelines crying because "Mommy was playing with the other kids." or flipping cartwheels down the field, or wanted "Uppy Mommy". Seriously?? "Uppy"?!?!  I would leave wanting to pull my hair out, and then cringe because 90% of the time I was strapping the worst behaved one in the backseat of my car.  That was just practice.

Since my husband usually worked the night shift on Friday I would have to bring my whole brood to the games on Saturday morning.  I will give you a play by play of my typical experience with that whole mess:

"We arrive at the field, FINALLY, because Alex (my stepson) 'Didn't want to go to a stupid boring soccer game' and had to be dragged out the door..yes, me dragging and almost 9 year old boy kicking and screaming and stuffing him in my car!  And of course we can't forget that in the mean time Luke has sat in Jaid's car seat and even though they are basically the same thing, the princess cannot allow such an atrocity to take place. So they are slap fighting over me while I'm wrestling Alex into the middle seat belt.  After hauling Luke out of Jaid's seat, football carrying his squirming body to the other side of the car, buckling him in and sitting in my own seat, I hear "Mommy, you didn't buckle me", come out of Jaid's mouth (in her typical "tudalicious" tone).  I want to say "Are you freaking kidding me? Your six years old, stop being such a baby and buckle yourself."  But none of us wants to hear the cry fest that would ensue after that, so I reach around and do it myself.  There you have it, what should have taken five minutes has now taken twenty. 

So, YAY, we have made it to our destination!  Everyone piles out of the car and runs away leaving me to carry, the two folding chairs for the boys (which they won't sit in anyway, but God forbid they don't have the option), Jaid's drink (because she always forgets to grab it), a sweatshirt for everyone, and my own bag.  I go and drop those by the field and head off to get the balls and goals.  This is usually where my kids once again realise I exist and all come running so they can be the one to carry the ball bag or the goals.  And here comes the fight...three kids saying "gimme gimme gimme" and only two things that need to be carried.  Where were you all again when we got out of the car?  I could have used your hands then.

If you have ever set up a "pop up" goal you know what a health hazard it can be.  Pulling one out of its bag is the same feeling of anticipation you get when awaiting a Jack-in-the-box.  Never quite sure when its going to explode open because the person who used it last didn't secure it properly.  So its more like, pull it out real slow and careful, and then throw it and get out of the way!  By this time the other players have arrived, dug into the bag of balls, and are strategically kicking them at my head while I'm trying to post the goal to the ground.  While the team we are playing against are doing cute little warm-up drills on their side of the field, we are dribbling the balls around in a chaotic mass which I just chalk up to an obstacle course and make sure that every now and then they shoot the ball at the goal.  I don't want to embarrass myself by trying to be assertive when I know that at 9am, my team is waaayyyyy too hyper it even attempt to listen to me.

Now its game time!  Oh wait, I forgot that I have two boys running around somewhere in the vicinity and I try to pick them out.  You know, make sure they haven't killed each other.  They are ALIVE!, the game can go on.  So now I have three kids on the field, at least one of them whining because they wanted to play with the kid who is sitting on the sidelines, and at least one kid on the sidelines whining because they wanted to start.  I have learned to IGNORE this.  So the other team starts the ball, dribbles it two feet, just to have Jaid steal it, bring it down the field and score.  I know I should be proud, and I am, really I am.  But, after this happens five times in the first ten minutes of the game, it gets a little old.  Especially because she knows she's good, doesn't want to pass the ball no matter how many times I tell her to, and on several occasions has stolen the ball from her own team mate. Oh yes, we can't forget the show boating that comes after each goal when her Dad is there.  Where she runs off the field and he launches her into the air holding up the entire game.  I can see it now....the kid will be 16 still running off the field so Daddy can toss her in the air.  I want to crawl under a rock.  Eventually I have to pull her out of the game to give the other kids a chance...on both teams.

This is usually around the time when I hear Luke screaming bloody murder because he got creamed by Alex in the game of Tackle Football I told them not to play.  So they are sidelined for the remainder of their sister's game ( I knew I brought those chairs for a reason).  Oops, eyes on the game coach....someone other than Jaid actually has the ball, and they are dribbling toward the wrong goal!  Good thing we don't keep score.  On it goes "Stop laying on the ground.", "No pushing.", "We're not doing gymnastics out here.", "That person is on your team.", "Ewwww, don't wipe your boogers on them!"(true story).  And finally its over, kids scattering to their parents, just so I can gather them together again to line up and give high fives to the other team, but only after the arguing of who gets to be the leader this time.

I think I'm more exhausted than the kids are.  Packing up is just as bad as unpacking.  Fight over who gets to put the balls and goal away, but no one can carry our 'stuff' back to the car.  Now Jaid sits in Luke's seat to "see how he likes it", Alex doesn't want to leave with out buying candy from the snack place, Luke's mad because he didn't get to play in the game.  I JUST WANT TO GO HOME!!!  I feel like having a tantrum myself, but no, I'm the grown up."

There you have it...."A day in the life" so to speak.  So please, when you think your kids coach is cranky, or distracted, or just not doing a good enough job, just remember....they are doing the best they can.