Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday - I'm Bored

Finally! It's here! Saturday! Woohoo! NO school and two bored teenagers! I cannot be more happy - not! 
It never ceases to amaze me that in a house with five computers, three televisions and three Xbox game systems someone could be bored... I don't get it - I mean, we've got plenty of electronic entertainment - and an entire LIBRARY of books I know my kids haven't read yet. So why the boredom? Because they've done it all - seen it all - played it all - and yes, read it all... hmmm - I think not... but whatever?!
Our guy hates not having his computer, unfortunately right now he's sharing said computer with my son Jon. Jon is in college and taking classes online, so his computer time is infinitely more important than Our Guy's. Our Girl is still in trouble and not allowed messenger or Facebook/Myspace applications right now, so in her words "the computer is a paper weight". She got a new book yesterday, so she should be good. However, when I made the suggestion that Our Guy use her computer to check on his game forums and such - she LOST IT!. NO WAY was he using her computer - regardless of whether she's using it or not... UGGGH 
So, now she's gone for the day, Jon is working on a project for school, and Our Guy is bored... I'm so tempted to hand him his sisters laptop and tell him to have fun... however the war that would wage between them regardless of who gave permission would probably set the house into a spin - witches would be killed... I'm just sayin... 
Boredom - is an emotional state experienced during periods lacking activity or when individuals are uninterested in the opportunities surrounding them. I love that last line - uninterested in the opportunities surrounding them. This is the way it is here - there is PLENTY to do - they just don't want to do it. They have books to read, games to play, and pets to love on and hang out with. We have an acre of woods behind our house, with miles of dirt trails and creeks beyond. When I was a teenager I would have gotten up, gotten breakfast, and GOTTEN OUT! - Not my kids... they're too "technically inclined" to enjoy a romp in the great outdoors. If they don't need a controller to play they don't want to play. So for the most part, boredom wins out for them most of the time. Not today - today I will show them that there really IS something to do. 
Today I have a plan. Today - if you are bored? Find something to do - or I will find something FOR YOU to do. 
Happy Saturday!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Why I Love My Mother 3

My mother was such an inspiration to me. She was only 30 when my father passed away, so young to be a widow. So young to have to face the world alone with a child. My mother had a job as a nursing assistant then - she only worked part time evenings - to give her and dad some "fun money". When dad died, it was her only income - and she decided to make more of it. So, at the age of 32 my mother went back to school and got her nursing license. She is a registered nurse to this day. NOW she works 12 hour days - 3 on, 4 off. She likes it that way, it gives her more time for her grandchildren and her yard. 
While mom was in school, year three of her four year program, her mother got sick. We took her to the doctor and the diagnosis was grim. My grandmother had end stage bladder cancer that had metastasized to her lungs. They gave her three months to live. It was her 75th birthday. My grandmother started chemo that same week - she asked the doctor to work for a year - she wanted to live long enough to see her great grandchildren come into the world.  My cousins wife and I were pregnant at the same time - two great grand babies - due at the same time!!
The chemo was taxing on her I know - but it had to be ten times worse for my mother. She worked nights, cared for grandma during the day, and then tried her best to keep me sorted out with my myriad of pregnant teenager issues.
That had to be the hardest year my mother ever went through. 
Once my daughter arrived my grandmother seemed content. Photos of my cousins daughter soon arrived - she was born one week to the day (nearly the hour) after my daughter arrived.
Then grandma started to have problems. She became depressed and suicidal, and it was so hard for my mother to concentrate on school, home, and grandma. So in my second semester of college I took some time off. It was November, and I could use the break from things - so I took care of grandma. I also took care of grandpa, who was not paying attention to his own health, the sicker grandma got. 
When my grandmother died - I was at school picking up my grades, and my mother was at school (the other end of town) taking a final exam. My aunt called the school, and I zoomed home. My mother wasn't far behind. I walked into her room, took her hand in mine and told her goodbye. I also checked her pulse and respirations (Paramedic classes, couldn't help it), and called 911. Thankfully, the dispatcher put me through to our fire chief, who I grew up with, and he sent the ambulance out only as a courtesy to me. They left their equipment outside when they came to pronounce my grandmother dead. They knew she was a no-code. I called the funeral home when they left, and made my grandmothers funeral arrangements. My mother and my aunt were in no condition to handle it at the time, after all their mother had just died. It was her 76th birthday. 
My mother struggled so hard that year, with me pregnant and only 17, her mother dying, her father struggling with the grief that goes with losing a spouse of 50 years... she had it rough - but she toughed it out, and she made it. She showed me that no matter how hard things seem to be, no matter how much it hurts, no matter what the cost - you have to continue living your life. You have to do things that make you happy, you have to continue to love yourself, and most of all, you have to keep going. One foot in front of the other. Keep your sunny side up. Those are words that were passed from my granddad, to my mom, to me - and now on to my kids. I grew up hearing it - and I say it to myself every single day. 
My mother surely taught me how to live life to its fullest, even when you are looking deep despair in the eye. Just keep your sunny side up, and put one foot in front of the other. 
I love you mom!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Why I Love My Mother 2

My mother taught me about being a loving parent, who loved her parents. That's my mom, sitting in her daddy's lap. We were a close-knit family.

I was a teenage mother. I gave birth to my oldest daughter two weeks before my 18th birthday. When my mom found out that I was pregnant, she immediately swung into action. She called my aunts and told them, got the prayer chain and support line going. Then she made appointments with the best OB/GYN in town for my prenatal care. She spared no expense in seeing that her only daughter had everything necessary to have a healthy baby. 
I left the high-school I was attending to attend a breakthrough school called LAMP - Lee Adolescent Mother's Program. At the time it was a ground breaking philosophy - allow pregnant girls and new mothers to attend school in a nonjudgemental environment. Where all your classmates understand where you are, because they are right there with you. Once the baby was born you could bring the baby to school with you on the bus! Daycare was provided - breastfeeding was encouraged. Mom's could go in and hang out with their babies between classes, at lunch, during 'life skills classes'. Everything necessary to run a home, from cleaning and cooking to laundry and diaper changing was taught. With a healthy dose of math, science, english, and history. We still had regular classes, but on top of that we had to learn how to be parents. 
Some of the girls were lucky like me. They had supportive parents or family and were happy, well adjusted young women. Others - well, others weren't so lucky. The "other girls" the orphaned mommy's  as we called them lived in group housing with the nuns of the local Catholic parish. They were well fed, had wonderful housing conditions - usually only 3 girls and one sister per home. Most of the homes were three bedroom, two bath houses on the Catholic campus. We also had a nunnery (right word? dunno - not Catholic). 
But the orphaned mommy's had only each other and a sister for support. They formed tight little families, and shared goals, dreams, and life lessons. But they were in so much pain. Their own mothers either abandoned or gave up on them. They were not present to provide support. I only knew one girl who's mother had passed away, and she lived with her mom's sister - who promptly threw her out as soon as she got pregnant out of wedlock. 
The rest were throw aways. It was sad, to me, to see these young ladies grow and mature as they did without a parent standing beside them, proud of their accomplishments instead of ashamed of a mistake. 
My mother wasn't that way... she saw things as they were. A mistake is a mistake, you accept the consequences, and move on. Make the best of the hand you are dealt. So when she discovered my pregnancy, I was given choices. It was my decision - keep the baby, adopt, or abort. Abortion was out of the question, for me, it was wrong. Adoption sounded like a possibility, but I was my mother's daughter. If she taught me one thing it was to take responsibility for my actions. If I was going to do that, then I needed to keep my child and raise her to the best of my ability. Now, before you say anything -  I do not believe that this is the best choice for everyone. It was the best choice for me. 
I was able to get my GED - 6 months prior to my scheduled graduation, and start college two weeks after my daughter was born. 
I was able to go to school and work, and had child care in the form of my grand parents who lived with us. 
I was able to raise my daughter my way, with the gentle guidance and unconditional love and support from my family. My grand parents or mom would watch her only when I went to work or school. Otherwise I was on my own with her. 
When my daughter was three months old she came down with colic. She finally grew out of it at five months. For two months of her life my baby screamed uncontrollably from midnight until six am - every blessed night. I was a wreck. I was going to class from eight am until two pm, then to my job as a cashier at the local grocery store from three until eleven. Then home to my baby and sleep... only I still had homework to do. If I was lucky I could get it done just before she woke up at midnight. 
Bless my mothers heart, and her dad - they both would take turns getting up with her during scream fits - walking her and stuff so I could sleep two or three hours at least. There were many nights I would wake up in the rocking chair sans baby - only to find her in the hallway looking at pictures with my grandfather - bounce, walk, bounce, walk, bounce, hour after hour. 
My mother was always there when I needed her. She supported every choice I made, good or bad. It didn't matter what she thought about things, it mattered to her that I was happy with my choices. 
She encouraged me to be the best at whatever I chose to do, and left things at that. Then showed genuine excitement at my accomplishments, and commiserated with me over failures. Unconditionally she loved and supported me through every bad, and stupid thing I pursued all through my life. 
Just one more reason why I love my mother! 
Why do you love your mom?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why I Love My Mother

Today, I am posting about why I love my mother, in the first of several that will be posted this week. With Mother's Day just a few days away, I thought I would give tribute to the most awesome woman in my life. 

Meet My Mom: Patrica Johnson (nee Nelson)
That's us, on my third birthday. The year was 1969. Our lives were idyllic for 10 more years. 
My mother is the most incredible person I've ever known. She's strong, intelligent, resilient, and loving. She has seen incredible tragedy, more than once, and come through the fire tested, but not burned. 
When I was 12 my father who was my mothers heart and soul, was killed in an accident on the job. Three days after my birthday. Heartbroken, crushed, and widowed at 26 my mother took the challenge of raising me alone to heart. She went back to school, and in three short years - graduated with high marks from the Nursing school she attended as an RN. She worked nights, weekends, and overtime to provide a home and life for me. She cared for her aging parents and a whiny teenage girl without batting an eye or one word of complaint. She was my rock, my touchstone, and my heart. We survived the storm of losing my father, then my grandmother, and finally my grandfather. We put countless pets "out of their misery" together. And we ate a lot of ice-cream, punctuated with incredible shopping trips, and girl talk until the wee hours. 
We were more than mother and daughter - we were friends and companions too. She taught me how to handle upsets and tragedy, how to cope with losing someone, and how to live life to its fullest. She never let a setback stand in her way. 
She was a fierce protector, a loving mentor, and a lively companion. I love my mother! She's awesome and wonderful. She has been my constant source of comfort and  inspiration all my life and for that I want to thank her. 
Thank you mom, for not being defeated when life through you curve balls. Thank you for showing me that running from your problems is not an option, and that you must look a challenge dead in the eye to master it. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, especially when I did stupid things and made bad choices. Thank you for telling me no, and making me stand on my own two feet - God knows I never would have done it on my own. Thank you for keeping my grandparents close so that I could learn from them and experience the love they had for me. Thank you for standing up for me when I was right, and for making me accept the consequences when I wasn't. You still are my rock, my touchstone, and my heart. Even though we don't talk often enough, I love you! I miss you more than words can express!
Thank you mom, for being my  mother!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Le Sigh... or Frustrations of Living with SED

So, the phone rang this morning... it was Little Man. As some of you know, Little Man is away right now, in the hospital receiving long term treatment for his PTSD, OCD, and other problems. He's been in the hospital since January so, as parents we figure 5 months now, shoot he should be doing really well. Then our world crashes down... With Little Man that happens a lot. I know that I posted our evaluation on Story of a Life the other day, and it sounded promising. However, after this phone call - we're worried again. Frustrated and worried. You see, Little Man has had a really, really rough life. He spent eight years in the prison hell that was his mother's egg donor's house - right along with her crack-addicted boyfriends, lovers, and thieves. In his short 14 years, he's been hospitalized 11 times that we know of. He is paranoid, talks to the voices in his head, and sees things that aren't there. He also believes that everyone in our house and elsewhere is out to get him. 
Today's phone call was nothing short of a 30 minute argument with him about what was right and good to do, and what he should avoid. All part of the therapy... but - we're not seeing much more improvement over what it was like before he went. 
Everything with him is a frustration - to the point we want to pull out our hair, and scream at the top of our lungs to the Gods - WHY HIM? 
Why did our child have to go through the horrible experiences, why does Our Guy have to live with the guilt of coming through the abuse and horror relatively unscathed while Little Man suffers? 
Little Man has no self-worth, he feels that everything is his fault, and that he is the reason behind everything that happened to him - if he'd just been born better he wouldn't have gone through what he did... 
My frustration stems from the fact that as a mom, I feel like I should be doing more, to help him. I don't know what the hell I'm doing... but I should be doing more of it... Right?! Yeah, that's going to work... NOT. 
No matter what you say to LM he still argues that No, he's not a good kid, No, he's not really smart - he just heard that amazing fact somewhere - he doesn't really know it. 
As a parent, we pride ourselves in knowing just how to fix things when they go wrong with our kids - and if we can't fix it - we are generally able to find someone who can. In LMs case - this is the biggest misconception we ever had. He's unique and challenging - and has issues that even stump his therapist and doctors daily. 
We were terribly saddened by his call today, but not to the point of giving up the hope we have for his restoration. We'll never, ever give up on that  - but we're beginning to see the depth of his issues now, and that's scary. The doctors aren't hopeful that he'll ever be "normal" whatever the hell that is. They are, however, hopeful that in time Little Man will be able to function enough to live on his own (in a halfway house or transitional situation), hold a job (with a job coach in attendance), and go to college (again with a coach). These are all bright hopes for someone who just two  years ago could not tie their own shoes, or get through a day at school without a major meltdown. So improvement, while slow and painful, is coming. 
I think the biggest issue we have as his parents is that we want  him home, we miss him terribly, and we can't have that right now - because as his therapist says "He's resistant to therapy and help". In his mind, he deserves to feel the way he does. 
We know that this is only temporary, and that in a couple of months LM will be home - but right now, that does not help our feelings and the depth of the hole in our lives without him here. We can only continue to hope and pray that LM will stop resisting and start participating. Therapy right now is his only stop gap too - everything else - school, group, interactions - all improving. His mental state - not so much. Le Sigh....
It's just one of those things that make me feel inadequate as a parent, and that's not a feeling I like. I've had six successes - the other six children are great, four of them grown, two with kids of their own... They've had their problems, but we know beyond a doubt that they'll manage on their own. We're proud of our accomplishments with the rest of the brood - but that is always overshadowed by our seeming failures with Little Man. Thankfully, even the doctors are saying "It is not your fault - you cannot fix this at home". Doesn't make us feel much better, but it's a salve to a mother's broken heart. 
So, if you pray - say a prayer for Little Man today. If you don't pray, send some positive energy, thoughts, or love his way - he could use all he can get! 
As always - thanks for stopping by!!! 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Introductions au deux

As I said yesterday, I have decided to fulfill the promise I made in one of the first few posts on my blog. Today I am going to introduce the "middle children" of our little pet family. Kitty and Footnote.
Now I know you've met Footnote, on more than one occasion, but this will be his formal introduction... 

Footnote the Fearful
Footnote used to look like the photo above - then it got hot. So now he looks like this: 

He's quite unhappy with me right now, he is about two weeks post haircut, and now it's starting to grow on him. 
Footnote came to us by way of my sister in law. She brought him to us the day we took Little Man to the hospital for PRTF (you can see his story here). He is a very special little guy in our home. He took the place of companion with Our Guy when Little Man went away. He followed him everywhere, slept in his bed, even came to the name "Little Man" for a while. He was a healing balm for Our Guy when he needed him most. Now, he's my shadow, and my posting buddy. He is currently perched on the footrest of the recliner as I write. He's definitely Our Guy and I's special baby. 
Which leads to the other "middle child" of our doggie family. Kitty. 
Kitty is about the ugliest cute dog I've ever seen. She's Little Man's buddy, and misses him terribly now that he's gone. It's cute. She also has become besties with Footnote, which makes it even cuter! 
Pre-haircut cleaning... she loves to clean him up, and lick ears. It's precious when it's the other dogs -  not so much when it's  you... 
So there you have it - 2 more of our lovely pets. Let's see - Now you have met our Grace, Kitty, Footnote, and Magi! Whew... three kids, eight pets, three adults - one house. How do we do it? One day at a time, my friend... one day at a time!

Sunday, May 2, 2010


In going back over my blog today in an attempt to do some "housekeeping", like tags and such (I'm so BAD at remembering tags) I stumbled across some of my introductory posts back when I first started up here. It wasn't that long ago - but it was long enough for me to sleep since then - so I had totally forgotten that I promised more introductions to the family! Specifically, the four-legged children of our home. ;) Thanks to Mindee over at Our Front Door - I found my old intro posts, an the unfulfilled promise!
So - until I run out of pets, I'll be sharing one of my beloved babies with you. 
Also, if you haven't met the munchings - please take a look, here! We are a large family, full of love, excitement, and frustration... lots of frustration on some days.
But - again, digressing! Without further ado - I shall introduce you to the Matriarch's of the Family - Magi the Cat, and Gracie the Dog

Magi the Cat

Magi is my sweet, loving, thirteen year old cat. I have had her since I broke up with The Guy and moved to North Carolina 13 years ago. She's opinionated, cranky, and very set in her ways. But I love her dearly, she's a sweet baby - and has been my companion through some very trying and dark times of healing and restoration in myself. She was a touchstone when I needed one, and I will miss her so very much when she is gone. 

Magi and Shakespeare, enjoying a nap

She has made friends with my sons cat Shakespeare, and they truly do enjoy their naps in my bed most afternoons. She is a comfortable reminder of how far I've come in my life. 

Gracie the Dog

Gracie, or Miss Grace, Graciegirl, or Piggy as we are wont to call her at times, is the indisputable alpha dog of the house. She bosses everyone around and brooks NO dispute. She is tough and strong and mighty and fierce. Also... she weighs 8 lbs soaking wet and can put a 90-lb. boxer/lab mix on his haunches in 2.2 seconds - no kidding. She is the "mama" of the pack I would say. When inside all dogs bow to Grace. She also runs the children, giving them away when they're doing stuff they're not supposed to. If one of them hits the other - she barks, loudly to tell on the aggressor. She never lies, either! 
She's about 10 years old, and is starting now to show her age - she moves slower these days, and isn't as able to get up on the chair or couch as in days gone by. We love her, however, we know that the life expectancy of small dogs is not as long as cats or big dogs. So our time with her is growing shorter - she may live to as old as 17, but age is not her friend. 
She's a feisty one though, and the first to bark warning when something moves... anything - a leaf, a tree, a dog, a person... her yip seems to say "It's a Thing, It's a Thing, It's a Thing!!! OMG ITS A THING!!
Funny, and annoying, but she keeps us entertained. 

So there you have it - top cat, and top dog! Welcome to our little world, hope you can visit often!

Five Things

Happy Sunday! Today is our final day of rest before the work week begins. 
Today I am going to post five things. I'm thinking of making this a weekly thing, so let me know what you think... 

Sunday's Five Things - Five things I do that make my teenager hate me. 

1. I make my kids do chores. Yep, I said it - my kids do chores. And mean mommy that I am, they do not get monetary compensation for said chores. But, Magimom, what about rewarding good deeds? I do reward them, my kids have their own computers, Xbox game systems, televisions, and games. They have freedom to go with their friends, stay home, or explore our neighborhood. This is their reward. It is also something they don't get to do if their chores aren't done. 
2. I am teaching my kids to cook. Even with insolence and irritation at my side, one or both of my teenagers is in the kitchen with me, every night. Sometimes it's Our Girl, with the camera helping me photograph for Hopelessly In Love with Food, other times it's Our Guy learning the art of frying chicken or pork chops. Or even Little Man, when he's home - handing me spoons, getting ingredients, or doing whatever task his emotional state allows. My oldest son knows how to cook, and does so very, very well. This is something I want to instill in all my kids, a desire and love for cooking, along with a basic knowledge that allows them the freedom to experiment and learn new things. 
3. I hold my kids accountable for their actions. If they get in trouble elsewhere, at a friends house or school, for example, my kids know that when they get home, they're really in trouble. I don't go by the "one punishment is good enough" philosophy of modern parenting, because for one - schools don't have the authority they once did. Suspend my child for a day, and my child will spend that day doing "extra chores" around the house, cleaning out the litter box, scrubbing the toilets and shower, and basically doing all the "grunt work". I don't allow my kids to spend a day of suspension seated at their computer, talking on the phone, or playing games. They're being punished for an infraction at school, it should not be all fun and games at home! This makes for children who act out at school simply to get suspended and go home to play. 
4. You must be throwing up, bleeding, or running a fever to stay home from school. Headache? Here's some Advil, get ready for school. My tummy hurts! Really? I'm sorry, here's some Pepto, get ready for school. I don't feel good. No fever, no blood, no vomit, no way - get ready for school. My children have tried over the years to "fake me out" with varied illnesses from blindness (my personal favorite) to a sore throat. One thing I've learned in 26 years as a mom - children lie. I cannot tell you the number of times I have called the school to say one of my seven children would not be in attendance - to be told oh... well they have a test today that counts for 1/2 of their grade... Therefore at my house, you better be really, really sick before you even ask to stay home. 
5. I watch what my kids wear. This is a constant argument for Our Girl and I. She wants to wear cute little tank tops with no bra, or with bra straps hanging out all over, short little dresses that require shorts, tiny shorts that should really be a swimsuit, string bikinis... that sort of thing. Yeah... not happening. Our Guy? His favorite is a pair of cammo pants that he wears every day after school These pants have been known to sneak out of his room while he's at school and wash themselves they get so funky. And he's always trying to sneak out to school in them. We have had so many arguments over the years about clothing - too short, too long (you are ripping the hem our of that $40 pair of jeans!!! Relax, mom, it's the style), too tight, too loose, dirty, or generally not fit for wear. They fight, argue, and scream - but I control what clothing they wear when they leave my house. And yes I do search backpacks and purses, I also look under what Our Girl is wearing when we have a particularly nasty clothing battle. 

The point of these things is not to make my children hate me, but to instill in them the following key attributes for healthy adults: 

  • Work ethic
  • Honesty
  • Modesty
  • Self preservation skills
My kids will be able to go out into the world and accomplish much with the skills I have taught them. I will worry less, knowing that they can fend for themselves. They will go to work even when they feel "bad" because I've taught them that it's important. They know how to dress appropriately, and they know that first impressions count for a lot. 
If they hate me now? It means I'm doing my job right. It means they're learning, and it means I'm a mom. I can live with that - because at the end of the day - these smiles are all you need to show you've done well: 

Happy Sunday!