Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday's Wrandom Wrambling

I swear the last several days, and weeks have been dragging.  Of course, I can't believe it's almost April, but it feel like the days are so loooongggggg.

Maybe it's because for the past two weeks, I keep thinking I am a day ahead of myself and to find out it really is only Wednesday instead of Thursday just bums me out.

My schedule just seems so off!

Chloee LOVES her flat daddy.  He went all over the place yesterday and today spent the day at school.  Tonight after we said prayers and were talking about her day, I asked her what her favorite part of the day was and she answered that is was when she showed everyone at school her Daddy.  Greatest thing ever!

Running again.  Slowly but surely adding some miles.  I am in no way ready for the SL half, but I have reconciled myself to walking part of it if I have to.  No PR to reach, just finish and use it as training.

I got a pretty awesome April fools prank planned.  Hope I can pull it off.  Should be pretty epic.  And no it won't involve posting a positive pregnancy test.  Everyone knows that my girl parts are broken.

My Marine son sent me a wonderful card yesterday. It has been an amazing thing to watch him evolve into the man I always knew was lurking there inside.  When the Marine's advertise their slogan "be all you can be"  they ain't a kiddin.  He is a man that is discovering his true potential and even with as busy as he is right now, he took the time to write  a very heartfelt note of love and appreciation to his Ma.  Made my day.

Did I mention that we got a new bed?  I LOVE my bed.  It's RC Willey's version of the tempurpedic and I couldn't be happier.  Of course being the cal-king size we still struggle to find bedding and usually have to order it online, but it is SOOOOOO worth it.  Love my bed!

Chloee is already planning our first hike of the season.  She points to the mountains and tells us that we are going to climb that mountain and have a picnic on a blanket.  I like how she thinks.  I would be thrilled if she loved to hike. 

Getting back to the summit at Mt Timp is on my bucket list - I need to get planning on that one.

I'm worries that even though the Marine's have given Corbin the choice of a non-deployable battalion, that they will change their minds.  With the crap going down in Libya and us still being in Afghanistan and Iraq, and with all the help needed in Japan, I feat they will renege on the deal.  It's their right.  They can do whatever they want. 

I'm beyond exhausted.  Is it Friday yet??

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Grieving Child; When Dinosaurs Die - Book reviews

I realize this isn't the typical book review for most people who might read this blog, but I have been reading this one on the advice of a child therapist specializing in death and grief and have found it absolutely fascinating.

The book is designed for parents or other caretakers who have a child who is dealing with the loss of  a parent or other close family member.  She seems to repeat some of  her advice, however, she reminds the reader that this book is not designed to be read cover to cover like most novels, instead it's to be read in sections that are most relevant at the time.  And I find the repeats to be helpful in retaining the information.

Children process grief much different than adults.  She guides the reader through that process.  From very young children to teens.  She guides the reader through all scenarios of death.

The first thing I learned is that TRUTH is the absolute must do!  Never to hide that death has occurred.  She advocates the approach of honesty on all levels and addressing questions as openly as you can.  And only addressing the specific questions as they come.

The first thing we learned is that we didn't do it right the first time.  While Corbin had a very well thought out plan on how to discuss Chloee's mommy's death and did a very good job with it and in hindsight, it seemed to be very appropriate for the time, the author helped us understand that good intentions cannot supersede truth.  This is in no way a diss on how he chose to handle it, rather, we have learned that there is a better way.

It is never easy to explain suicide to a child and even less easy when they don't even understand the word.
However, in conjunction with this book, we were also recommended this one
This book is designed for the child.  And again, not necessarily to be read cover to cover, but in pieces that apply to your child specifically.

So several weeks ago, we purchased both.  On a night with no distractions, Chloee and I read When Dinosaurs Die.  We looked at the pictures, and talked first what it means to be alive.  Then moved into what it means to be dead.  Next up, was the different ways that people die.  Again, they recommend that you be honest on a level that the child understands.
It was a nice way to help Chloee understand that for reasons no one will ever really know, Mommy made a choice to make her body stop working.  It is NOT Chloee's fault, it's no one's fault but a choice that Mommy made.  A choice that we will understand only when we get to see her again.

The book then reminds us to make sure the child understands that she/he is loved and to point out all the people in their life that they have to rely on and to help to take care of them.  Luckily in Chloee's case she is surrounded by MANY who have her welfare at the forefront of their concerns.
Her Daddy, Karalee,  her Poppa, Mimi, Granpa, Granma, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, school teachers, neighbors, and friends

There was a particular picture that Chloee liked to keep going back and looking at and talking about.  It was a little girl with a broken doll.  It helped us to talk about feelings of frustration and anger and how we can deal with those feelings.  After several minutes she became bored with the book.
Before I put it on her bookshelf, I told her that this was HER SPECIAL book.  And that anytime she wanted to talk more about this, she just needed to ask or get the book and we could spend as much time as she wanted to.

That night, as with every night, either Dave or I tell her a story.  It's usually some fantasy that we make up as we go along.  This time, I used the playground, some other children and a little girl who's Mommy had died and who's Daddy was far away to help emphasize the teaching lesson we had already had.

Ever since then, she is quite open about Mommy.  Open about Daddy and talks about Mommy in heaven with Kasey.  She isn't sad, she understands on her very small level and seems to be doing well.

In our community there is a special grief group for small children who have lost a parent.  We meet with them in the next couple of days for an intake evaluation for Chloee and to discuss when and if  it would be appropriate to begin counseling.  In speaking with other grief counselors, we have been told that not every child NEEDS therapy, that it is individual and should be evaluated carefully.

I am still chugging through the grown up book.  Once I finish it, I will be passing on to Corbin and Karalee.  They will need and want the same information to help Chloee throughout the rest of her life.

The authors of both books have done an excellent job in being straightforward and even providing some verbiage to help an adult communicate the hard things to their child.

I have learned things that are important in the grieving process not just for children  but for people of all ages as well.  The importance of funerals, open dialogue, pictures and keepsakes, talking when necessary and quiet reflective thinking at other times.

At any rate, we are feeling more prepared to help Chloee through the process while she is in our care.
Thanks to these two books, we have learned much to not just help us in this particular situation but in others that we may be faced with in the future.

So, if you have the unfortunate position of having a child in your care who is dealing with grief and loss of a parent or other close relative, please pick up these two books.  I think you will find them invaluable.

30 years is a looooong time

30 years ago, on this date, my dad died.

I was 14 and a pissy teenager.

I am now 30 years older, a little bit wiser, and feeling quite nostalgic tonight.

  You would be 66.  Retired?  Maybe.  Involved with your family?  Absolutely.

You would be happy for Mom.  She loves her husband and is doing all the things that make her life joyful and fulfilling.  John is good to her and she is peaceful.  They are leaving for Sweden in a few weeks, I think you would be happy for her.

You would be proud of Tod and Terri and all they have accomplished and gone through.  You would appreciate their intelligence, hard work and the kids would make you laugh.  All 6 of them.  You would love every single one of them and all the fun unique things they bring to your posterity.  Alivia and Tayvree would totally have captured your heart.

You would like Dave.  And my boys would have provided you much joy with all the sports they played. You would be proud of Corbin, excited for Luke and so happy for Tuffy.  You would totally dig on Chloee.  She likes all the boys things that you would get into with her.  She is starting T-ball next month.  You would love that.  I like to think that you would be proud of me, my family and our accomplishments. And heaven knows, I could use you and your attorney self right now  : )

You would be so happy for Mindi and her girls.  For her to have her real love story come true and now another baby on the way - you would be thrilled.  Taylor and Addi swim and are so smart and resourceful.  You would be proud of them.

You would be happy for Michelle.  You would be there for her to counsel with, remind her of how much she is loved and cheer her on in every thing she goes for.  I suspect Johnny would be your little shadow.

I imagine family picnics.  Family dinners.  Family pictures.  Yes, we have them, but I like to imagine you with us.  Shooting the bull.  Probably having a beer and sitting back and watching your family with pride.

Perhaps, you are already here, doing just that.

It's been 30 years.  That's a dang long time.  Lot's of life events have come and gone.  And yet, you still managed to be a part of the most important ones.  We know that, we feel you, and even after all this time, we miss you.  Hope you are happy and continue to look down on us with pride, love and joy.

Stay close by - we still need you.

Your Muppet.

A wander down memory lane - basketball, underwear and freeballin

I read her post today and it spark a memory that I laughed about all over again and decided it needed to go into the annals of history.

When Corbin was in middle school he played on the 9th grade basketball team.  He is a very talented ball player and extremely athletic.  Practices were early mornings before school so he would pack his bag with shower stuff and just get ready at school for the day.

One morning, shortly after school started and I was long at work, I received the following phone call:

Corbin:  "Mom, can you come get me, I don't feel well."

Me: "What's going on?  What do you mean you don't feel well, you were fine this morning.  What's up?"

Corbin:  (voice lowering) "I  just don't FEEL well."

Me:  (suspecting something other than illness, swamped at work, and no option of getting him anyway) "I'm sorry dude, I have meetings and I really cannot leave work.  You're gonna need to stick it out."

Corbin:  (voice lowered more) "But Mom, I REALLY need to go home"

Me:  "Corb, I'm sorry, you know I would if I could, but I can't leave today"

Corbin:  (voice barely audible) "But Mom, I forgot to pack extra underwear, I have none and I am freeballin it.  I can't stay at school like this all day."

Me:  *silence while I am fighting back the urge to laugh hysterically*  "What do you mean you forgot extra underwear, were is the underwear you were wearing when you left the house?"
Corbin:  (still whispering)  "Mooooom, I shower in my underwear.  You know, so I don't make the other guys feel bad, and so now they are wet and I don't have another pair."

Me:  (seriously fighting the laughing and racking my brains as to whether or not I should find a way to bail him our or allow him to suffer the natural consequences.  Not to mention that I am processing his statement of 'making the other guys feel bad')  "Dude, I don't know what to tell you.  I can't leave, I guess you are stuck either with wet underwear or going with out.  Sorry, but I have a meeting and I have to go."

I went on with my work day not really thinking about it again since I know the kid is resourceful and will figure something out.

Fast forward to later that day in the early afternoon.

Debs:  "Hey how is Corbin doing, is he all right?"

Me: "Uh, he's fine, why?"

Debs: "Oh, he called me from the school and was sick and since you couldn't go get him and I'm on your approved list, he called me and I ran over and brought him home.  Is he doing okay?  I was worried about him"

Me:  LAUGHING OUT LOUD !! "Deb - you have been duped!  The kid wasn't sick.  He had no underwear and didn't want to spend the day 'freeballin' it!" 

Debs:  *silence*

Me:  "Thanks for being such a great friend and second mom to that boy, but next time he calls you to pick him up - check with me first."

As  I remembered this whole situation, I found myself laughing again.  Sure I was ticked that he finagled assistance when I wanted him to deal with his consequences, but the whole thing is so HIM! 
Resourceful.  Persuasive.  Determined.
The qualities that I failed to recognize greatness in at that moment, I certainly see and appreciate in him as an adult.

And for the record, the boy has never been forced to have to 'freeball' it ever again!

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Marine Monday - Flat Daddy made it!

First off - thanks to everyone who donated to her Flat Daddy Project. Second,  thanks to Annette for spearheading it.  Not only is Chloee blessed, but other kids as well.  If you are looking to do something kind for someone else, donating even a small amount is easy and judging on Chloee's reaction, is priceless in life of a child.

(crappy cell phone picture - can't find my camera)

We put her in the shower while we mounted him and got him all cut out.

When she got out and saw him her face lit up like the sun!

Since then, Daddy has been by her side,  having a bowl of cereal before bed (above)

reading books before lights out.

And at this moment, he is sleeping in her bed, watching over her and protecting her.

Love the Flat Daddy!
Love our Marine!
Love our happy, happy Chloee!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The good old days

My Mom sent me this as an email - I thought it was not just funny, but very telling. 

Comments made in the year 1955

"I’ll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, it’s going to be impossible to buy a week’s groceries for $10.00."

"Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won’t be long before $1, 000.00 will only buy a used one."

"If cigarettes keep going up in price, I’m going to quit; 20 cents a pack is ridiculous."

"Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging 7 cents just to mail a letter."

"If they raise the minimum wage to $1.00, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store."

"When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 25 cents a gallon. Guess we’d be better off leaving the car in the garage."

"I’m afraid to send my kids to the movies any more. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying
DAMN in ‘GONE WITH THE WIND’, it seems every new movie has either HELL or DAMN in it."

 "I read the other day where some scientist thinks it’s possible to put a man on the moon by the end of
the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas."

"Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $50,000 a year just to play ball?
It wouldn’t surprise me if someday they’ll be making more than the President."

"I never thought I’d see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now."

"It’s too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet."

"It won’t be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work."

"I’m afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business."

"Thank goodness I won’t live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to government."

"The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on."

"There is no sense going on short trips anymore for a weekend. It costs nearly $2.00 a night to stay in a hotel."

"No one can afford to be sick anymore. At $15.00 a day in the hospital, it’s too rich for my blood."\

"If they think I’ll pay 30 cents for a hair cut, forget it."

I wonder what Grandma and Grandpa would think about things today??
(thanks for the email Mom)



Happy Birthday PFC Corbin A

I'm a little late with this post obvio, since his birthday was Thursday, and I hope he'll forgive me.  We didn't even get to skype on his big day.  In fact, his birthday at school was one of the worst days he has had so far.  Boo.  On the bright side?  He was made class leader and that is something to most def be proud of.  Another leadership billet for him!

And now, I present the top 24 reasons I dig my oldest spawn:

24.   He introduced me into my world of motherhood.

23.  He is smart.

22.  He is more driven than anyone I know.

21.  He is a natural born leader

20.  He is loyal

19.  He is tender hearted when he needs to be

18.  He is tough as nails when required to be.

17.  He can figure anything out

16.  He can read a person's heart

15.  He's extremely intuitive.

14.  He's not afraid to have tough conversations.

13.  He is rational

12.  He will never allow anyone to offend his family and those he sees as family

11.  He is a good friend

10.  He loves true and deeply

9.  He works hard at every task he is given

8.  He is respectful.

7.  He doesn't waste time on people who prove themselves untrustworthy or unhealthy.

6.  He learns from his mistakes.

5.  He is willing to sacrifice now for the better good.

4.  He sees the big picture

3.  He loves his girlfriend in a way that others envy.

2.  He loves his daughter.  He knows and wants what is best for her.  And is willing to fight for it.

1.  He was patient with me as I tried to learn how to be a mother and he loves me despite the fact that I wasn't perfect.

Happy Birthday son!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday

(as always - the beautiful graphic is from her)

I'm thankful for the bucket of love I found on my front porch yesterday morning.

Filled with yummy clementines and CHOCOLATE!

Complete with an anonymous love note.

I suspect one of my beloved young women, and since they are all my friends on FB - I know whomever took the time to show me some extra love will know how much I appreciate it.

I am SO thankful for good friends, old or young - who see an opportunity to serve, lift someone's spirits and brighten another's day.

Now to pay it forward!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Public vs Private

I started blogging 2 and half years ago.  It's been a journey.  I had my BFF the Shark help me build my site and then as I have played around with it, I've added this, deleted that, modified stuff - generally done what made me happy.  It was MY blog after all, my own little space on the www that I could journal, share my feelings, vent, attempt to be funny, share stories and keep my family and friends up to date on all our latest doings.  I made it public, because it is a great way to network with others and I have made some incredible friendships through it. 

It was great during Luke's mission.  The entire family could easily read his letters and stay in touch with him.

It's been fantastic during Corbin's USMC experience.  Not having much experience first hand with military life, it's been fun documenting his journey and I am hoping it will be a fun thing to go back and read as time goes on.

It's been fun to go back and look at my old posts.  Where our family was at, what we were doing and what we are up to now.  My how things change in such a quick time.  A blink of an eye really.

With being public however, you also open yourself up to whatever comments someone chooses to make.  Even with comment moderation on, you still see the writers words as those comments hit your email box and sometimes people are just mean.  Things are said that are hurtful.  A lot of time it feels unfair.  Especially if they don't even know you, but still have a perception of you.  And while it's always fun to see new followers.  When you try to link back and check them out and you can't, that is always and uneasy feeling.  Creepy, more like.  But, that is the consequences of a public blog.

After a lot of thought, and counsel with someone smarter than me, I have made the decision to go back public.  Private was miserable.  In just the short time I was, I lost contact with friends.  No blame anywhere, it's just hard to remember to stay on top of private blogs.  That's the fact.   Blogging makes me happy.  Networking with my friends and chatting via blog comments or emails make me happy.  I don't want to lose that.  In fact, as a human being who is just as valuable and worthwhile as the next one, I think I deserve to do something that makes me happy. 

So, with some mild trepidation, I am venturing back out into the public arena.  I fully expect some nastiness, and really, that's okay.  I have reconciled myself to the fact that people are people and sometimes no matter what I may say or do, their perceptions of me are set.  'sokay.  Just as I am entitled to my belief's, other people are as well.   The bottom line is I can live with myself.  I know who I am.  I know what I am about.  I know what is in my heart.  And those who are my true friends know the same.  I have no doubt that just as I am loyal to my large circle of BFF's, I have many that are just as loyal back to me.  Maybe not everyone, and that's their prerogative, but I know that those who truly matter are there for me.  They are the ones who subscribe to receive follow up comments and then respond back to the mean ones so I don't have to.  They are the ones, who defend, correct others and believe in me.  To those of you, I say, thanks for not sucking as a friend!

And - so here we go............

Chloee's birthday party - part III

Pure journaling purposes here - the big party!

Since she had a green anaconda on her other birthday cake, she wanted a lizard, shark and snake on this one.  The baker couldn't pull it off.  So a plain cake + some squishy animals, and voila - you get a happy little 4 year old birthday girl!

We started with some pizza

Karalee chattin it up and hanging with the girl!

Splenda Daddy bringing more food

Chloee picking at her dinner.  She doesn't even like pizza.  She would have been happy if we served peanut butter and honey sandwiches

Seeing her cake for the first time

Mikayla and Liam checking out the cake

Present time

that is not a sad face, not sure what that is, a candid shot to be sure

Karalee keeping notes so we can do thank you's later - not easy for a 4 year old to understand the necessity of, nor maintain the attention span to sign her name, but muy importante lesson to learn.

And finally the cake!

Girl loves desserts - especially chocolate

Cake is a hit with all the kids except maybe Vincent?  What could be drawing his attention away?

And then it's time for the pool!!
Chloee and Alivia

MIkayla and Chloee

and with Amelia

I love this cute pic with Chloee and Isley

The parents were clearly enjoying themselves waaaaaayyyy too much.  It was a freaking sauna in there and we were all sweatnig like pigs.  And of course, the Shark is on her phone.

Poppa is the fun one!

I think they kinda had fun - don't you?

The 5 minute break.  So cute to see most of them all sitting next to each other waiting for the whistle signaling that they can go back in.

But wait - there's more!

Top 10 lesson's learned from hosting a large birthday party

1.  Good call on doing it somewhere that is NOT at home.  18 kids?  Running around my house whilst we try to entertain them?  No.  The Rec center swim party was most def a good idea

2.  Don't attempt to lift your granddaughter up to see her cake.  Ask for help.

3.  Invite your besties so that they will help you get all the fun gifts put away, and get you out of the room before someone comes to kick you out.

4.  The value of RSVP'ing is NOT underrated.  Do it.  Do it EVERY TIME.

5.  Kids + water = F.U.N

6.  Watching preschoolers having a great time is more fun than you think.  Their smiles, laughs and splashing is a kick in the pants

7.  Meeting and getting to know some of the kids and parents from school better  - totally awesome.  There is such diversity that it just confirms our decision to put her in Challenger. There has been nothing but good come from her experiences there.

8.  When Splenda Daddy tells you that you only need 3 extra pizza's,  he is right.  Face it, he's right every time (except when he's wrong)

9.  Let someone else take the pictures and you can never have too many.  Thank you Jon for handling the photography.   I would have been stressed out trying to do that, and manage the rest of the going's on.

10.  Providing a memorable experience for Chloee and her friends - completely worth every ounce of energy and every last dollar (of Splenda's).  Hopefully it will be something she remembers and smiles about for a long time to come.