Life Changes

I can’t believe that it’s been over a year since I wrote a post. So much has changed with me, and my little family. Jacob has done amazingly well on his ADHD medication, he is now in the gifted class and getting straight A’s. Easton will be 3 in a few short months, and is more of a handful than I could even begin to explain. My husband and I have chosen to divorce, and with that process still ongoing I am daily riding the roller coaster of emotions that it brings.

My attitude has changed a lot these last several months, and I am trying to be the person I am meant to be, and that God would want me to be. I’m trying to put personal feelings aside in difficult times, and focus on praying when things get tough. I’m trying to be the bigger person and finding that while that is easy to say, it’s not always easy to do. I’m hoping that getting back to blogging here will help me stay focused on my goal at hand, and at focusing on the boys.

At 7 & 2, they don’t often understand what is going on. Heck, at 37 I’m not really sure what’s going on from one day to the next. I have a lot of moments lately where I wonder why life has to be so hard, and then I remind myself to be thankful that I am not alone during this process, or this life – God is always with me.

Adjusting My Viewpoint With Jesus

saying

We see pictures all day on Facebook and social media, but for some reason this one struck me. My oldest son and I had a very intense interaction this morning, largely due to his body trying to regulate with his new ADHD meds. It was one of those rare moments where you wonder why exactly you had children, or want to throw up your hands, step outside, and pretend what’s happening isn’t.

Truthfully, before I became a parent, I was someone who often looked on and critiqued the parenting skills of others. I wasn’t even sure that I believed ADD or ADHD existed. I would have agreed with people who said that when a child acted up you should spank a child or “beat it out of them”, and they would never do it again. (For the record, they don’t mean to literally beat it out of them, but I hate that phrase). It never occurred to me that perhaps the child had special needs I couldn’t see, it simply looked to me like a child who needed a spanking. Are there times where my son is simply being a brat? Of course,  but as a Mother I can tell the difference between those times, and the times he is in distress, and I will deal with them each on an individual basis as appropriate.

Had the Doctor and other parents not explained to me that Jacob may be extremely emotional, irrational, and angry as his body adjusted to his medication, I would have handled this morning completely differently. There would have been yelling, screaming, and probably a spanking at the end when those didn’t work. Thankfully, I understood that he wasn’t really in control, he wasn’t sure how to handle his emotions and he didn’t know how to convey that. Even armed with that information, I wasn’t certain how to proceed, so I did what I do more and more often lately … I prayed. God gave me the patience to deal with the situation, and turn it into a learning situation for Jacob.

I took Jacob to his room, and as he stood in front of me crying, on the verge of hyperventilating, I simply talked. My voice never raised, and no matter how angry he was or how much yelling he did I stayed calm. He stood in front of me red faced, with his arms at his sides in fists, and threw his head back and yelled. No words, simply anger being released, but he looked at me with eyes that told me he was scared. He didn’t know what was going on, or what he was feeling, and he didn’t know how to handle it. I know that he knew that he was being completely irrational and making no sense. When he finished, I laid on his bed, and asked him to lay next to me.

When he did, face down and still weeping, I calmly reminded him that the Doctor had told us that this may happen while he got used to the new medicine he was taking. I asked him if he knew that I loved him no matter what, or how he acted, and he nodded.

“Do you know who else loves you no matter what,” I asked, thinking he would say his Dad.

“Jesus,” he replied thru sobs, slightly calming down. A light bulb went off over my head and told me that this was an important teachable moment.

“Yes! Jesus! Do you want to pray about this? I can pray if you want to lay here and try and calm down some more. I can ask God to help you control yourself, and for the medicine to stop making you feel this way soon.”

And so, that is how it came to be that Jacob laid with his head down and crying, while Momma rubbed his back and prayed over him. That is how a scene that a week ago would have resulted in me crying also, and yelling, instead ended with me teaching Jacob that prayer can be the answer and you should lay all of your problems at God’s feet.

This is something that I wouldn’t have done last year, because my relationship with God wasn’t what it is now. I knew him, but I didn’t lay everything at his feet, I didn’t trust him with every issue, I didn’t always pray when I needed help, and I didn’t allow him to be in control. We didn’t have a RELATIONSHIP, and now we do. I now feel like God is my best friend, and someone that I turn to in good times and bad.

God is changing my heart and he is changing my family. I know that he is right by our side as we start this journey with Jacob and his ADHD. I know that he is in control and he will give us the strength that we need, to become the people he wants us to be. This is all in his hands.

A House of Memories

I was sitting in my Aunt’s living room last night, looking around at what has always been one of my favorite homes. It’s always been the same, had the same scent when I entered, and “my room” has always had the same magnolia comforter on it, waiting for me to slide beneath it on a visit. I know that soon it will no longer be in the family, and another family will move in and begin to make their own memories. But looking around, the house is so much more than a building to me, it houses many, many memories.

When I see “my” room where I slept during summer visits, I see a teenager who didn’t want to get out of bed no matter how many times my Mamaw told me it was time. I see nights sitting outside on the carport with my Dad, talking about life and what it was like growing up here, and how much he wished he could move his own family back. We talked about family members, history, stories that he wanted to pass down. We planned our itineraries on who to visit the next day when we headed to Stonewall. He told me the story on the carport of what had happened to my Auntie’s precious little boy Barry.

I see my little cousin Kyle running around and bugging us to play with him, and a little Jacob searching for Easter eggs in the yard. There are holiday memories with family and cousins, my Uncle telling me, “You don’t want this house! That yard is to much work,” when I told him it was my dream house many years ago. I think of having to pretend to go to bed when Kyle was little so that he would go, and then I would get up after he dozed off and return to the living room to watch television.

Auntie

Auntie and Jake enjoying her new back porch and swing.Cousins“The Cousins” on our first Thanksgiving back in MS. Jon, Myself, Lynne, Kim and Blake

Countless meals with whatever menu we requested were served at the small round table when we came to visit – salmon croquettes, fried okra, Mrs. West hamburgers, and so many more things we couldn’t get in California. I can see Jacob and Beau playing in a huge leaf pile and being chased with the leaf blower by my brother Justin.

Since relocating I’ve had countless nights and afternoons where I just sat and rocked with Auntie in our recliners and watched the Hallmark channel. It was so nice to have somewhere I could just “pop in” like I did at my Mom’s in California. I will miss that, and my confidant, more than I can really put into words. This is where Jacob met all of his little cousins when we moved here and had our first Thanksgiving in Mississippi. He also learned to dance naked in a rainstorm on her driveway, and cooked with Auntie to learn how to make cheese eggs and grits, his new breakfast favorites. He would spend as much time as possible sitting down at her pond, just looking out at the water and wishing he could go fishing.

I see so many memories with my Dad and my Mamaw in the house, and also of my childhood and I hate to lose them. I never realized how much I could feel them around me when I was there. A house can be so much more than 4 walls and a roof, and this one in particular I will miss greatly. I can’t imagine what it will be like to drive by and see another family residing there. I’ve so many memories, and I’ve learned so much in my time at this house. Not only about my family, and history, but also about the kind of woman my Aunt is, and that I hope I can one day be.

Cousins2

Jacob and Beau in a big leaf pile!Pond

Jacob and his favorite view.

 

 

Seeing God’s Blessings In A Storm

Have you ever been in the middle of a crisis, and only been able to see the bad surrounding you? Have you ever been able to see only the negative, and asked yourself why God would do something like this to you, or someone you love? Have you ever later been able to see that in the middle of that storm, was a blessing?

I confess that when my Dad was dying I was very angry at God. I was mad that I was about to lose a Father, I was angry he would never get to move home to Mississippi as he wanted, that he would never get to travel with Mom during retirement, and I was angry that cancer even existed. It wasn’t until after he had gone, and the storm had passed, that I could see how God had blessed me during that time.

My Dad had been a truck driver for most of my childhood. He was home every morning, but gone during the evenings and missed out on a lot of things because he was supporting his family. He always thought that there would be time to make up for what was missed in later life. As it turns out, that time never came because God called him home.

Dad’s lung cancer was already at stage 4 when it was discovered. He was diagnosed on October 16, 2006, and passed away on August 15, 2007. The Doctor set up a treatment plan but told him that there was very little hope that he would survive. Dad simply replied, “I know that a lot of you Doctors think you’re God, but the fact is you are not. So why don’t we just leave that decision up to him.” (This same Doctor called my Mom on the morning he learned that Dad had died and told her that he had never had someone say that to him before. He said he admired and looked up to Dad for how strong his faith was and for never letting it waiver.)

He went thru chemo and we all awaited the sickness, weakness, and other side effects that you hear about, but they never came. He was off of work and home with us, but he wasn’t sick at all. In fact, with the exception of his hair loss you couldn’t even look at him and tell that he was sick. Even his appetite almost doubled and he ate like a horse!

Because he was home during those 10 months, he had plenty of time to spend with us, talk, cook, and even make a trip home to Mississippi. We became closer than we had ever been, and Dad became one of my very best friends. I was 27, so he could speak to me about things that he wouldn’t have if I was a child, and we formed a very strong bond. While it makes the loss of him a little harder, I wouldn’t trade that 10 months for anything in the world. God knew all along that he was going to bring Daddy home in August, but his gift was 10 months of uninterrupted, quality family time. If that isn’t something to be thankful for I don’t know what is.

Now I find myself about to lose my Aunt, my Father’s sister, to terminal cancer. I’m upset, I’m saddened, and I cry A LOT, but I’m not angry this time. The first thing that I did when I learned that my Aunt was going to Heaven, was to look for the blessing in the situation, and it was quite clear.

Three and a half years ago I moved home to Mississippi. It was something that I said I would never do unless I had a job lined up, and when I saw a job opening I applied. I’ve often joked that I couldn’t believe how everything aligned to move me home, when I never thought I would be able to find a good job to do so. I not only found that job, but it had excellent pay and they packed my belongings and moved me across country as well. It could not have been a more ideal situation.

Over the last three and a half years I have come to know my Aunt as I couldn’t have from 2,000 miles away. I visited Mississippi every summer, but only for 1-2 weeks at a time and I was a child. Our strongest bond came after my relocation. She flew to California and drove back across country with me for the move. Since then we have traveled to St. Louis twice, and Atlanta when I had to travel for meetings and have been road trip partners. We’ve had three years of holidays together, bonding and cooking together while she passed down my Mamaw’s recipes to me. There have been many hours where we sat and talked about Daddy, and how much we both missed him, and she told me stories of him growing up that I never would have known.

My oldest son Jacob has gotten to know this beautiful member of his Papaw’s family, and hear stories about that side of the family that he never would have known. She has treated me like a daughter and both of my boys like grandsons despite the fact she didn’t have to. Moving here also got me more involved in the church than I ever had been in California, and submerged my children into the Christian culture.

Of course I am going to miss her when she is gone. I don’t feel like I’m losing an Aunt, I feel like I am losing a surrogate Mom, because that is what she has been like since I moved here. When I needed a hug, or a talk, or a piece of wisdom in person, Auntie was always there to give it. I could stop in at anytime, at any hour and she was always there to welcome me. Sometimes we sat and just rocked in our recliners and watched TV, and sometimes we talked about what was happening in our lives.

I will miss that more than I can explain, but I will be thankful to God for placing me here so I could experience it. I strongly believe that my relocation was actually out of my hands, and the reason everything went so smoothly is because this is where God wanted me. I believe that he wanted me to form this relationship and that’s just what has happened. I don’t know what his next step will be for me. I don’t know if he will keep us here, or have us relocate again to somewhere else. I do know that I trust his plan and the blessings that come from following it.

 

 

 

 

The Matriarch

My Nonnie turns 95 on February 5, 2016. I won’t be there to celebrate with her because I’m across the country, but I did want to do something special. She doesn’t really need anything, she doesn’t go out to eat or travel, so I was at a loss.

As I thought about her, my mind drifted to memories she had told me about, things she remembered from her life, and people that made a difference in who she is. I decided to write something for her. I won’t call it a poem, because I am not a poetry person, and I couldn’t write one if it killed me, but it’s not quite a short story either.

So I wrote this – I’m having it printed onto an 11 x 14 mat and shipped to my Mom where she can have it framed. Hopefully, the woman who has everything can find a place for this, and likes the gift.

The Matriarch

If you take the time to look closely, there is much to see.

There is more than age, wrinkles, and might have beens.

She sits on her throne, the matriarch,

But in the lifetime that has passed by, was so much more.

She has seen family, friends, and children pass on,

But she remains behind.

If you look deep into the blue eyes,

You can see the wisdom and stories of ninety five years floating there.

 

She was a daughter, first born, pride and joy of her Mother.

Those now wrinkled hands gripped a tennis racquet,

Those legs ran the court all the way to city wide champion.

Her mouth opened in laughter, always smiling at her doting Grandfather.

The twinkle in his eye, his chauffer, and partner in crime.

 

She was a wife, young and beautiful.

Holding hands at the altar, and looking ahead at all that life had to offer them.

Traveling the world with her soldier boy, exciting adventures ahead.

Philippines, Puerto Rico, Germany and back home to a settled life.

All of this seems like yesterday to her, but it has been years since she said goodbye

To her love with a twenty one gun salute.

 

She’s been a beautician and friend, always happy to lend an ear and a word of advice.

She has been a dancing fool, a card playing partner,

and has laughed watching her best friend sing atop a piano.

Army Wives. Friends forever.

 

She was, and is, a mother whose daughter is her pride and joy.

She watched her daughter grow and learn,

And go from a wobbly leg child, to a fast driving teen.

She saw her first dance, first love, and helped mend a first broken heart.

Eventually, she watched her little girl marry, and become a mother herself.

 

She is a Nonnie, Grandmother, Friend.

She was there to see two grandchildren grow,

And amaze them with her lead foot racing skills.

She spoiled them more than her own born,

And told them stories of where they came from.

She instilled in them a pride of all things Italian,

And a belief that it is okay to stand up and speak your mind.

 

She is now a Gi-Gi, a second generation Grandma.

She watches these three boys and wonders what they will become.

Will they remember her, and will she pass down all that she must before

It is time for her to go?

What will they tell their children about her, when they talk about their

Own childhood memories?

 

She is the matriarch.

The pillar of strength, and the glue that binds everyone together.

She is the past, the present, and the future of the family.

Some pass her by, and see only an elderly woman sitting there.

But they are the fools,

For if you take the time to look into those eyes, you will see all that was, and is,

and all that you need to know.

 

 

 

Happy First Birthday Easton

How is my baby one year old already? It seems like yesterday he was coming home from the hospital, sleeping on my chest overnight because I couldn’t get up and down easily post C-Section. Now he is teething, back to not sleeping thru the night, and is growing into a personality.

I can’t believe that my Baby had his first birthday party a week and a half ago. He still won’t walk alone, but he does use his walker to get around supported, and he crawls like a bat out of ****! I love him so much, and he adores his big brother Jacob so much. It is amazing to watch this brother relationship/friendship grow in love.

Chalkboard 11x14 Dr Seuss-01

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

We have started this new year of 2016 off with a bang! Two sick kids and I am at work today having literally not slept at all last night because Easton is sick.

We had a wonderful Christmas, and I got some really cute shots of the boys for Christmas cards. I am amazed watching them grown and their brotherly relationship become stronger and stronger. My favorite thing during this Christmas break for Jacob, has been watching him teach Easton how to “wrassle.” He flips him, and pins him, and pounds the mat to show he has won, and Easton has even learned when it is time to just lay still and let himself be considered the loser. What is extremely touching about the whole episode, is if you watch closely you can see how gingerly Jacob is flipping his little brother over, laying with his arm over him etc. He treats him like he is the most fragile thing ever created, despite how it may look from across the room. It makes me smile every time I see it.

I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year as well. My resolution for this year is to post on the blog more often!

The Attack on Paris

2E6D22D900000578-3318020-image-a-14_1447462242259If you’re anything like me, you were glued to the television last night. The attacks in Paris were horrific enough, and then we had confirmation that ISIS was indeed taking credit for this savage attack. With comments like, “The American blood is best, and we will taste it soon,” we are left to wait, and prepare.

This is scary for anyone, but as a parent it is more so. I was left tossing and turning in bed last night, holding back tears, and worrying about the world my sons were growing up in. My mind drifted to my faith, and the hate that ISIS seems to have for Christians. All I could think about was ISIS on American soil, and my precious little men one day being asked to renounce Christ or be killed.

What small child wouldn’t do so? Children don’t understand the consequences of their actions. They don’t understand scripture like, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, I will deny him also before my Father who is in Heaven.” Would children be denied entrance into Heaven if they denied knowing Jesus before a member of ISIS?

This morning my son asked me, “Momma, what is a terrorist? What is torture? Why would people do this?” I realized that this is the world we now live in. There is no going back, only moving forward, but they may never know a world where this fear doesn’t exist. They will never know a world without extreme security at the airport, terror attacks on the news, or our military fighting in several different locations at once.

I’ve discussed this with several Mommy friends, and the general opinion is no, young children are not held accountable. I want to grasp onto that and declare it’s true, but I don’t want to accept it just because it is what I want to hear. I can’t shake the worry though, that my little five year old would say the wrong thing and somehow not get to be with me in Heaven. What greater fear could I have as a Mom than to worry about the salvation of my children. So, thoughts …. ?

Smarty Pants

I know that a lot of parents think that their child is intelligent, so I don’t often say anything about Jacob’s smarts unless they are pointed out to me. I’ll then politely agree, or tell a little “Jakeism” and move on. I’ve often second guessed myself, and wondered if perhaps he wasn’t as smart as I thought and I was just being “Mom.” As much as he seems to like our home classroom I have constantly fretted that perhaps I was pushing him too hard and to much.

Several times in the last two months I’ve had educators, counselors, and others comment on Jacob’s intelligence. It’s nice to get verification that you aren’t just living in the la-la land of parental delusion, and your kid really is a smarty pants. However, yesterday I was left wondering if perhaps even I was underestimating Jacob’s skill level.

I went to check him out of school for an appointment, and I finally met in person the counselor who has been working with him on his behavior. She told me that she was amazed at how smart he was, and then she gave an example that even I didn’t know he was capable of.

“He is a thinker. When we were discussing his behavior, he explained to me that he had worked out a math formula to show him exactly how many blue tickets he needed by what days, and how he was going to go about his goal of earning a paw print. I really can’t believe that he is in kindergarten.”

I confess, usually Jacob doesn’t surprise me, but even I didn’t realize he had the thought process to work out something like this. I didn’t realize he was mentally mature enough to work out a plan over a timespan to get a required end result. The other benefit to this conversation was that it restored my faith in my little man.

This school year has been really difficult. With ADHD testing, behavior problems, and all of these other issues, I was at times left feeling like my child was Satan spawn. I felt like he must be the worst kid in kindergarten, if not the entire school, despite the fact that his main behavioral issue was talking. I went back and forth between wondering if perhaps the SCHOOL wasn’t overreacting a little bit because he was five years old, and just couldn’t manage to sit still all day, or if I was just a bad parent who couldn’t see how awful my child was. The kids aren’t allowed to talk, they have no morning recess, and if they got into trouble one punishment was removal of PE, therefore removing yet another opportunity for them to burn off energy.

Jacob would tell me about this in tears, all while saying, “I try Momma. I try so hard to be good but I just keep getting on a bad color.” We tried nutrition adjustments, we tried essential oils, punishing him, giving him prizes when he did well .. we tried everything except medication.

I should have followed my Mommy instinct all along. I should have trusted the things that I let people talk me into believing aren’t true. Yes, he’s smart. Yes, he’s a boy. Yes, he’s five. Yes, he likes to talk. Yes, he has ADHD. BUT YES, HE IS NORMAL.

Yes, thank the good Lord above, he is mine.

NaNoWriMo – Part 1

“Momma cried on the way home today, Daddy,” her five year old told his Father across the dinner table. 

“Oh? That’s interesting,” he said without actually having any interest. He was much more focused on eating the food before him, than anything that may have upset his wife. At almost six feet tall, and 285 pounds, he could afford to take a moment away from his meal, but it wasn’t in his selfish nature to care about something that didn’t have a direct effect on him.

“Yes, she did. She was crying because a song made her miss Papaw again.”

At this, her husband looked up and raised an eyebrow. He had made it clear in the past that he felt it was time she should be over the death of her Father. Now, three years after that conversation, she knew his opinion would be even more in favor of her moving on, no matter how much the loss of her father pained her.  

She had developed a tendency to hold her breathe when something like this happened, or when she thought he was about to get upset at her or the children. She was doing so now, but wasn’t aware because it had become such a natural reaction to interactions with her husband.

“You were crying over your Dad,” he asked casually?

“Yes,” she replied. “I know you won’t understand this. But truthfully, a song came on that just made me miss him, and I started thinking about life expectancy. I realized that I may live another sixty years. That is another sixty years before I get to see my Dad again in Heaven, and it felt overwhelming for a moment,” she tried to explain with emotion causing her voice to quiver.

 

She knew that not only would he not understand what it was like to lose and miss a parent for years afterwards, he did not have any belief in God, so the concept of meeting her Dad again in the afterlife would seem foreign to him.

He remained quiet, slowly chewed his pork chop, and for a moment she thought that he was going to let the conversation go. Eventually though, he looked up at her and replied, “You know, I bought you that gun for our anniversary. Your problem is easily solved.” At that, he looked back down and returned to his meal, shoving bits of meat and mashed potatoes into his large mouth.  

She felt anger surge up in her chest, but quickly controlled it as always. She knew to show any reaction would give him what he wanted, and make him feel as though he had won by beating her down again. Her only reply was, “I have two boys to think about, and to raise. I’m not going anywhere.”

At one time she had been full of laughter and fun, but over the last few years he had slowly removed that part of her piece by piece. It seemed so long ago now that in truth, she wasn’t sure how to get back to that happy-go-lucky person. Somehow though, it had to happen. She deserved it and so did the two boys he had helped her to create.

After everything he had done in the past, it seemed silly that the final straw was a simple conversation. Another harsh word, another cruel statement, another way to make her feel like less than she knew in her heart she was. To her husband, it was just another cruel stab meant to demean, and he wouldn’t remember in the morning. To her, it was the end.