Thoughts on thankfulness, life goals and a random rant!

     Airports. A hub of humanity where no one wants to look you in the eye. Great people watching, you have to admit. Last weekend, I traveled to Houston for my niece’s 16th birthday masquerade ball. What a fabulous trip. I got to hug my family – my mom, sister, brother, sister-in-law, nieces, aunts, uncle, and cousins. A 72 hour trip consisting of 22 hours of travel, 15 hours of sleep and lots of talking. I am still recovering.

     My favorite people in airports are kids. Many of you are thinking, “those are the noise makers on every flight.” Correct, but they are also the cutest, happiest people in the airport. All of the little ones I smiled at in the airports smiled back at me. They light-up and are eager to interact. The adults, well…not so much. I did have a cordial interaction with an elderly woman in a wheelchair at the gate in Baltimore. She was across the aisle in the gate area and made eye contact with me. I smiled and said, “Hello.” I always say that much. The only other interaction was with a nine-month-old little girl who tried to grab my neck pillow on the jetway. I turned and smiled. She thought that was hilarious. Her parents apologized that she grabbed my pillow. I told them there was nothing to worry about. I expressed my appreciation for the little lady’s sweet smile. They were nervous she wouldn’t sleep on the flight. I assured them that we would get to Houston – whether she sleeps or not. She is likely to give up and rest eventually. The baby did not look like that was possible at 8:00 p.m.. Happy to report, no screaming babies. The little one fell asleep quickly. I was grateful!

    Why am I boring you with all of this? Good question. I want to remind us that life continues on. We survived the election results. No matter who you voted for, you are still an American. You are still sharing the planet with me, so let’s just be thankful for one another. There is no need for division amongst us.  Politics divides us. Mission unites us. We must ask ourselves what we want for our families, our community, our nation and our world. Let’s prioritize.

   I bet we can all agree that we want to feel safe. My main goal as a mom is to keep my kids safe. I want them fed, happy, healthy and engaged in life. I bet you do, too. Safety first, right?! We can differ on how to keep ourselves and our country safe, but we all can agree that achieving safety through peaceful measures is better than hostile measures. Our government’s role here is important. We may not agree on immigration policies, border policies or how to deal with terror, but we all can agree we want to feel safe.

      Ok, next goal? How about eating. I like to eat – maybe too much. I want all of us to have access to healthy, clean food. Since this is Thanksgiving week, I want to ensure that I have food in the house and my neighbor does, too. This is where we can reach out and bring a meal to those less fortunate, to a neighbor, a college student who stayed in town for Thanksgiving, etc.

    Next? How about water? I want to have safe water. Check! How do we achieve these goals? We need to take a good hard look at the impacts of chemicals in our food and water. We need to clean up our food and water supplies. The more organic we eat, the better. Some of my scientist friends are disagreeing right now. Check back with me in 15 years and let’s talk then about the negative effects of the chemicals we are ingesting and breathing.

     There is no dispute that chemicals in our water supply make us sick. We have all seen Erin Brockovich, right?  Look, this isn’t rocket science. Our bodies work hard to shed the chemicals we ingest or absorb. There is no reason that we should make our bodies work harder than necessary. Systems fail and we get sick. We have to be willing to call out the government’s own watchdogs and let the world know they aren’t doing their jobs. We can’t stand idly by and watch our natural resources be demolished by folks watching their bottom line more than the family downstream. Look, the government is imperfect and not doing the job well. Let’s not be afraid to say that.  

    I have probably surprised a fair few of my inner circle by this point. I am unabashedly conservative. Many folks who are not on the conservative side of the political aisle may think that I wouldn’t have any concern for the environment, peaceful worldwide interactions, etc. They’d be wrong.      

    Next goal for me – Live by faith. This is an area ripe with areas of disagreement. That is ok. I believe the way I do. You believe the way you do. Ok. You won’t find me rioting in the streets about it. I don’t hate anyone because of what God (or lack thereof) they choose worship. I believe that Jesus is the Way. I believe He came to Earth, died on the cross and rose again. I believe he is my Savior.  Faith is a deeply personal choice. Let’s respect each other. No hating. No fearmongering. No shoving your beliefs down my throat, and none of that from me to you, either. It is ok to believe differently.

     The real key here is thankfulness. Let’s take time this week to be grateful for what we have. We have life for today. We have hope for a future. We have friends. I am thankful for my husband, my kids, my family, my home, food, water, my community, and my opportunities to help others.  I am thankful that I have the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around me.

    My prayer for all of us is that we embrace gratitude and focus on how we can be positive change in the world. Happy Thanksgiving.




Fall, Dog Training, Thanksgiving and Adoption Day!

     The transition from warm early Fall days to the frosty days in early November is a bit stressful. You know the routine. I am racing all over the house in the morning while the kids are getting ready for school searching for the one child’s lost mitten, Levi’s lost hat and anything warm that fits our girl. Good grief. I keep thinking about another cup of coffee and the luxury of sitting down for three minutes before I race out the door with our oldest child. No luck. No sitting down this time.

    I know the snow is coming and the snow boot and pants search party better get ready. I guess that is me. I always put the snow gear in a really convenient spot in May. Trouble is…I never remember where that spot is or if the gear will fit the biggest kid this winter. On top of this quest, I am not sure where any of my good gloves are hidden.

   Logan and I had a dog training session for her service pup yesterday. It was about 34 degrees up in Gilford. I have cotton gloves on (yes, I know…all my Explorer Post friends are cringing at the word cotton). There were totally ineffective and did nothing to keep my wet hands warm in any way. We are doing some long lead training with Gidget. This involves a super long leash that we let trail on the ground. Gidget is on one end and I am on the other. She is learning to pay attention to her handler.  This means that the leash spends a good amount of time on the cold, wet ground. I spend a lot of time running the length of the leash through my hands to control the pup. Result- cold, wet hands.

   The other result we are aiming for is a great resource for Logan. We are working with Gidget on heeling, locating Logan, staying, emergency stops, and more. I am learning that everything I do has a meaning to the puppy. She is very observant, so I have to watch what foot I start walking with, where my hands and eyes are, and keep my words limited.  Funny, the same works for all our children, too. Our words mean something Our actions mean more. Keeping my eye on them, priceless.

     So many people are asking why in the world we need a service when it is so clear that our little lady can run and jump and play. Sure, she knows how to run, but she doesn’t know when to stop. She can jump, we just have to be sure it is onto solid ground and not another child on the playground. She plays, but not really with other kids. She is loud and very demanding, not exactly welcoming to other kids on a playground. In comes Gidget! She is a great source of comfort. She is the perfect discussion starter on the playground. Gidget gives Logan a topic that is easy to discuss – having cute, fuzzy puppy. During our training session, our trainer noticed that Logan and Gidget are bonding nicely. Logan got a little cut on her finger and immediately turned to Gidget for comfort. She snuggled right into Gidget and told her all about her booboo. That interaction demonstrates how amazing this pup is for Logan.

    The boys are reminding me, even now, that they still need all the same guidance and care. We get so hyper focused on Logan. The boys see it, and they act out. There is a balance here that is elusive. I am sure families with more than one child experience this, too. In some ways, having two six-year-olds in the house should be nice because, theoretically, they could play together. In reality, we have a 9-year-old, 6-year-old and a two-year-old.  Kids just naturally have different needs based on their developmental ages/stages. Kids in foster care are much more likely to present developmentally younger than their chronological age. Our little lady is functioning somewhere between 18 and 24 months with the vocabulary of a truck driver.

   We have started to have Santa discussions in the house. I guess that comes with the colder weather – and stores being ridiculously early with their Christmas décor. The boys have a list already formulated on my Amazon wish list.  Logan has even greater expectations. I think that she has skewed expectations around gifting from her past foster home experiences. She comes from such a tough place that other homes, social workers, school personnel, and even the bus drivers give her little gifts. She is not shy about telling us that she needs this or that right now! She says (yells at the top of her lungs), “I am being good so you have to give me what I want.” No. Just no. I think I have Oppositional Defiant Disorder, too. As soon as I am told I must do something, my reaction is, “Oh, heck no I don’t!” I may use stronger language than that!!

   Back to the Santa talk..the little lady tells us that she is getting an IPad, a Kindle, a play kitchen, lots of apps and shows for the Kindle and IPad, new clothes, 2 dolls, and more. I am just hoping she bought a winning lottery ticket to fund all this stuff!  This will be our first Christmas with her. This is our first opportunity to share with her the true meaning of Christmas. Hopefully, we will make some inroads into her heart and mind about gifts and Christmas time.

   We are, first, looking forward to Thanksgiving. Having friends over, eating a nice meal, and being thankful for the blessings and challenges this last year has brought to us. Soon after Thanksgiving is Adoption Day. We are scheduled for December 1st.  We have been preparing for that day. Talking about what in the world having a family means to us, to her, to the boys. We are counting down the days. Logan and I went dress shopping for her. We picked out a pretty dress for the occasion for her. I am another story altogether. Sam informed me that he needs a tux. He has decided that this is the dressiest occasion ever. So, he is preparing the best he can. Such a cutie pie. Levi has not made any declaration regarding his outfit. I figure if he wears anything other than sports pants, we will be doing great.

     Clothes are the least of my worries for Adoption Day. I worry that the social workers won’t get their paperwork done in time. I worry that the Judge will be delayed for some reason. I worry that the kids all lose their cool in the courthouse lobby and we can’t regain control. This may be close to reality. We are bringing Gidget for support.

   Here’s to a busy month with lots of preparations being made for the adoption. It is a bit like being 8 months pregnant and knowing you have a ton to do, and, at the same time, having zero energy!

   Happy November, everybody!