jealous mommy, bad mommy, crappy baker mommy, and unprepared mommy all in one….

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Alert! Attention!! Mommy failing confession full speed ahead!!!

The week started with a kid drop off AT school ay 5:30 a.m. I mean, we live 20 minutes away. So not my favorite morning. Even worse? Hadley was going on an overnight school trip for a few days. I was SO sad! He did great, and even hugged me and kissed me in front of all the other students (mommy win yay!!!!) but still….I was jealous and it made me want to plan extra time together this summer because soon he will be gone more than he is home….

I forgot a kid. Yup. There was a school pick up and i forgot it. I forgot a kid at school. It happened. Sure, the schedule is a little funky compared to the other kids and times but still. Totally missed it. It worked out fine and she was thrilled (sorry Elis Rey!!) but still….

Then it was Kincaid’s bday and despite having made a gazillion cupcakes in the past 11 1/2 years (bdays, half bdays, holidays, arbor day, whatever…) I somehow added too much water. The good news? The cupcakes tasted fine, maybe even a tad better (more moist? sorry – i know half the world hates that word but oh well). The bad news? They were sort of sunken, and they shriveled. The great news?? I filled the sunkeness with extra icing so it turned out great.

Then Hadley came home and I heard all about his trip. He shared a cabin with other 11-12 year old boys and he kept it clean which is so funny. SO Hadley. The unprepared part? Despite us having “the talk”, Hadley still has no clue about many things and I am thrilled about that. So as Hadley complained about one boy who would not stop making his cot creak and make noises every night when lights went out, it TOTALLY freaked me out. I mean, we are about at middle school. This stuff starts to happen. Hadley has no clue yet. But daggone it I am NOT ready for that part of raising boys, but I better get ready……..(***curled into the fetal position, right now, ready to cry and move to Papua, New Guinea…..) (oh, and if you have no clue what I am talking about then you have no sons, or they are too little, or, well, I just am NOT going to explain this one in my PG, sometimes PG-13 blog.)

when universal laws collide and gross things happen……

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Somewhere sandwiched between the law of perpetual motion and the law of thermodynamics is the law of the open toilet. This law states that, if you have a dog or a toddler, the lid on the seat MUST be left down at all times or said dog or toddler will get into the toilet.

An additional, lesser known yet equally important law, for those who are environmentally conscious, is stated by Dustin Hoffman in the movie “Meet the Parents” and says, “If it’s yellow let it mellow and if it’s brown flush it down.”

Sometimes, just sometimes, these two laws, when broken, can collide. The result? Utter interstellar (or so it feels at the time) catastrophe.

To summarize, then exit, one child who shall remain nameless, took a huge disgusting crap yesterday morning and did not flush. It stayed there, all day long. Then last night, as I put the older kiddos to bed first while the youngest wandered around (she had napped). As I gave out kisses and bedtimes prayers, I heard an ominous splashing. Mid prayer, “And Lord, we ask for blessings on – daggone it is that Marlowe splashing in the toilet?? AMEN.”

Only to discover yes, the worlds had collided and I threw up in my mouth. A lot.

A mop, a bath, and some tears (all mine of course) later and all was well. But seriously. Gag gag…..

4 a.m. toddler meltdown, toll booth operator cussfest, and some bragging: spring break part 1

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Friday night: Me. Packing. Of course, I had already packed 2 weeks prior but, well, consolidating, double checking, etc. Late to bed. And early (grossly so) to rise. 3:30 a.m. to be exact.

Saturday: I showered, barely remembered deodorant, dressed, woke the kids, watched as Elis Rey threw herself, crying, on the floor because she didn’t want to pee, and shoved them all into the car. And also, of course, despite multiple packing instances, I forgot all the ski goggles. Hey, I live in Florida. Gimme a break. After speeding and picking up the mommy’s helper (Ms. Kaley), we raced (yes, raced) to the airport. At the Florida turnpike entrance I realized I did not have a surpass sticker on my new car so I pulled up to the no-Sunpass lane. Grrr. Haven’t been in that line for years…which I why I had no idea it was automated. I pulled up, too far from it, and had to haul half my body out the window. The ticket would come out and go back in before I could reach it. Then it did it again. Then I waited. No ticket came out again. So I tapped twice on the thing. Nothing. I tapped again and said, “UGH!! and a guy came out the window and say, “What the bleep? You don’t have to beat the bleep out of my bleeping machine!”Now, part of me was impressed for the ownership this man was taking over the equipment aspect of his job. The next part of me was mildly annoyed because I tapped it. I certainly did not beat the bleep out of it. Let me tell you. When I beat the bleep out of something, you will KNOW. The final part of me was now bleeping annoyed (sorry. in the zone…) because my kids heard the guy cuss me out for no reason. So I said, “I certainly did not beat the bleep (i said bleep, not what bleep stood for obviously. Duh.) out of this big metal machine. And secondly, I don’t appreciate you using that kind of language in front of my little kids.” That made me feel better.

After speeding a little more, and avoiding any more turnpike verbal or physical beat downs, we made it to the airport, raced in, boarded and took off for Atlanta. The kids played with their iPads. Me, 5 kids, and a sweet sitter who has never traveled with us before. Some would say I am crazy. Me? Nah. Just adventurous. The flight attendant, upon seeing me with 5 kids, offered me a bloody mary. Like 6 times. I said no. Yuck. Hate those things. That of course prompted Kincaid to get all worked up about the whole bloody mary story (you know, said it in your mirror three times and she comes out and kills you at night??) so I explained it wasn’t that and that is not real anyway…..landed, grabbed breakfast to go, raced to the next terminal, and got to the gate as they were boarding. Dang, I’m good. As the scent of chick-fil-a and no-name-diner breakfast permeated the air, the kids ate and we all chatted and watched movies.

****Ok. This is when a major pet peeve of mine happened. The guy behind gave my kids a look. That didn’t annoy me. We get lots of looks. I assume it is because of our incredible awesomeness. Some may differ. Whatever. But he looked and then was telling the flight attendant what he wanted to drink (rum and coke) and that his kids and wife were on the flight. In back. He was in first to “get some work done.” Uh huh. I watched him pound at least 3 rum and cokes and watch the movie “The Judge” which was playing. Love me some Robert Downey Jr. Work?? That toolbag!! He booked his wife and kids in coach, and then himself in first to “work.” Well, every college kid in the world wants your job dude if it merely entails getting hammered and watching tv. The last 30 minutes of the 3.5 hour flight the wife came up. I told her next time to book him in back with the kids. She smiled. Sort of. Look. If you can afford to book for yourself, then book the wife and kids too. If you can’t, then take one for the team and sit with them. Seriously?? Lie to your wife about work so you can sit up front?? That was low in my opinion. Ok. Sorry. Rant over.*****

By now the movie was over, the baby had finished napping on the floor, the kids had all visited the potty (Elis Rey like 12 times….), and landing was about to start. The flight attendant came over and said, “Can I say something?” “Sure.” And honestly, I already knew what was coming. We heard it in China. Coming back from China. And in various other scenarios. But let me tell you…it never gets old. “I have been an attendant for 26 years. I have seen lots of kids on my planes. Not many families as bog as yours, maybe a few. But NONE were as lovely. Your kids aren’t little preppy robots, but they are sweet and kind and well behaved. And your younger little boy with all the missing teeth? He even offered to help me clean up a drink the gentleman behind him spilled. The man did not offer. Your son did. Your kids are amazing.”

You see, as a mom, these are the moments I always go to. The words I live for. Sure the successes are great, the achievements, etc. But….this……no truer joy than this. Now we have a week of fun in the warm snow….and I hope to share as much as possible. Because yeah, kids, you are amazing. And I want you all to read these words one day. And know how much I loved this stage and how proud I was of you and will always be.

botox, kids and honesty, and integrity…

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Yesterday was funny. Painful for a few seconds, but funny.

Three weeks ago we planned a girls night out. Towards the end of the day I had a quick botox refresher AND a quick eye brow wax….no time to clean or ice up….had to then pick up my buds. So while picking up one friend, her kid saw me and said, “woah. what happened to your FACE???? Did you walk into a door??” To mess with him (sorry Carmelita…I LOVE to mess with your kids) I told him that yes, I basically walked into a door. Between the waxing and the needles, actually, a door would have been preferable. (note to self….do NOT get facial pain inducing things done during certain times of the month…..grrrrr….). But man, kids are SO honest. Brutally so, as my door face plant look can attest. But later it made me think of honesty, and integrity – things I think about a lot.

I have been fired two times in my life. Strangely, they were the same scenario but opposite. The first time?? I was told to give information or else be fired….in this case, the names of high school kids I busted for drinking on campus. I refused. I was, fairly, fired. Yes, fairly. But it does not change the fact that I did what was right, and will to my death KNOW I did what was right. The second time? I was told NOT to tell something, was told to not admit that we had messed up. I refused. I was fired. Again, fair. Your boss can do whatever – he or she is the boss and may or may not share your same perspective on morality, integrity, and honor. But like scenario one, to my dying day, I will KNOW I did right, no matter what anyone else says.

Integrity matters. A LOT. But lately, it doesn’t seem that way to me. I see a lot of people acting without it. They don’t own their part in a mess. They don’t follow up on what they say they will do. They misrepresent things that happen to make themselves look better. They have knee jerk over reactions on personal levels that then truly impact peoples’ lives. They don’t stand for what is right. Why? Because it gets us in trouble sometimes. It rocks the boat. It can get you fired. Twice, apparently, for me.

Now? Life is different. No boss, per se, but still plenty of options for accountability. I felt twice in the last two weeks that I had opportunities to teach my kids about integrity. I passed. I don’t always, I guess, but I passed. No cameras, no witnesses….I hit a car in a lot. But i did the right thing. Just cost me 1,028 bucks. Ouch. But ok, because I needed to pay that money. And in a store I had to speak up….I was doing returns at the counter, and a lady was waiting for me. After two minutes she started to bother the girl at the register. She kept complaining, yelled at the security guard out front, while I watched them call for counter help. A line formed behind her. As people came into the store she would call out, “Leave now. Don’t bother. They can’t move faster than a snail.” And then it got ugly.

I was done. I told her that it was enough, that I had seen them call twice for help, and they didn’t deserve to be treated like that. The lady yelled at me, and I let her. But I had words back. Never cussed or lost it. The women up front? They had to take it. They would lose their jobs if they spoke up. But someone had to. My two beautiful daughters were with me, and I wanted them to know, you get treated wrong, I will always have your back. I will always stand by you. I may not be able to fix it (I wanted to pick that whiny nasty wench up, drag her by her hair, and drop kick her outside for the horrible things she was saying) but I will BE there. I will stand firm by you. And the car? I will do right. I will be accountable. How can I tell my kids to have honor if I do not?? Do you have honor? What do you model to them? And yeah, for the record, I have gotten it wrong plenty. I was really rude to a lady at Animal Kingdom 6 months ago. She didn’t deserve it. I apologized. But my kids saw that. I apologized to them too. So I blow it. But as long as I keep trying, and admit to when I fail, then in the end I still succeed. And if they can learn? I succeed even more.

why i love a motley crew, and no, i am not talking about a hair band from the 80’s….

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***Disclaimer – I wrote this right before Thanksgiving and never posted but it is a great, relevant post so I have to share it!!***

I always wondered why that band (Motley Cru) gave themselves that name. I mean, motley, or mottled technically, means varied. Mixed. But the band, well, they are neither varied nor mixed. They all looked exactly the same, had the same priorities, and sounded pretty much like every other band in that genre in that timeframe.

Not gonna lie though. Yeah, I listened to them. When I was like, 13. Heck, that’s when I saw Winger in concert. Headin’ for a heartbreak alright….but whatever. I digress.

Thanksgiving is coming up. And every year I open it up…everyone is invited. Literally. I once invited the single manager of a Gymboree kids’ store. This year? So far we have friends whose house is under construction, neighbors with a husband who just had surgery, friends from NJ who will be staying with us (yay!!), some local friends, and my mom. Typically we end up with a last minute addition or cancellation as well….we just never know.

And I like it that way.

You see, my kids’ grades are coming out any day.

And I don’t care.

I have gained 10 pounds (crap ok 13) since we got back from China.

And I don’t care.

I experienced rejection (AGAIN) from family.

And I don’t care. (ok, I care a little.)

I was able to get a brand new car.

And I don’t care.

You see, all the little good things and bad things that make up our daily lives are really, in the scheme of things, SO insignificant. Do you recall your social studies 5th grade test scores? Does the car you drive reflect anything about your character? Does the achievement of your kid make it easier to pay the bills? Does the rejection of a friend or family member make you more or less of a person?

No.

At the end of the day, I want to live one way and teach my kids to live that SAME way. Aspire to good grades? Aspire to hard work and ambition? Aspire to perfectly seamless relationships? Aspire to health and fitness?

Yes.

Live for these things?

No.

I live for two things. Love God, and love others.

So when I open my house and make my apple pie and reach out to those who reject me and ignore the added pounds gained because of laying around bonding with our new little one and hug my kid because he worked hard for that C or drive a car that I hand over to the babysitter to drive the day after I get it because it is JUST a car…..all of that is about others. Loving others. Nothing else matters. Not grades or money or cars or weight or perception.

That’s all I want my kids to know. To learn. To absorb. That their home should be a place of joy and refuge. Not of judgment or conditional love or expectation. And I want everyone else to feel it too. That they are welcome. And loved. I love God because He first loved me. And I love others because He tells me to and at the end of the day, or the end of our lives, really, what else is there?

A letter to those waiting, and those who are WATCHING those who are waiting…

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A friend of mine has officially hit the two year mark. An anniversary you say? Yes. But not a good one. Today marks the two year anniversary of the date she started waiting to be matched with her baby. And as someone who last year hit that SAME awful milestone? It sucks. No question about it. If you are waiting, KNOW WE KNOW IT IS SOOOOO HARD!!!

Now, here is the thing. Some folks think I did not wait long, and that is super preposterous. My heart knew as soon as we returned from our first adoption that we were to go back. So I started the process, spoke to the agency, and filled out the preliminary forms. Filled out the medical conditions checklist. From that point on, my heart was waiting. And 2 years and 2 1/2 weeks after we filled out that MCC, we saw our daughter’s face for the first time. Maybe you just started waiting. Your jaw just hit the floor saying, “TWO YEARS??? I could NEVER go two years!” Never thought I could or would have either but yes, God’s timing was perfect. We see and know that NOW but let’s keep it real shall we??? That knowledge is all 20/20 hindsight. It did NOT make the wait any easier (oh, and many people have been waiting, ARE still waiting, at 7 1/2 years now so really 2 years ain’t that bad.)

But probably even harder than the wait (ok, maybe not), harder than the knowledge that your child is out there somewhere, was the CONSTANT, seemingly UNENDING commentary from sometimes critical and sometimes well meaning people asking me questions, debating my choices, second guessing and minimizing the decisions and processes we came to carefully and deliberately. My husband and I chose a girl. Chose specific medical needs. Chose SPECIFIC aspects and that is OUR business and our reasons were well considered for OUR family dynamic and what we could handle and why.

So rather than belabor the point, I am going to express the typical comments being passed around the adoption community and explain the problem with each one. If you are waiting, or have been matched, or are home with your kiddo, THINK. Read these. Pass them along. And consider before you speak (or type) these kinds of comments.

1.) “Why don’t you add things to your medical conditions checklist?” Think. Do you REALLY think we WANT to wait so long? And do you REALLY think that heck, after 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, we did not reconsider and add every medical need we possibly could? Sure. Those waiting a few months who expected a faster match can learn a lot from people sharing that spina bifida can be a pretty manageable need! But I assure you, by the two year mark?? We have memorized every word on the MCC. We know more about the “minor needs” options than you, the person who was just matched after a 4 month wait, could possibly fathom. And we have read every best case scenario of the more major needs, hoping we could accommodate more options.

2.) “Well, this (fill a medical need in the blank) is a really minor need. Why can’t you add this to your list??” Oh my gosh, you JUST saved the day and gave me a revelation I never expected!!!! Um, yeah. That is sarcasm. Again, like number one, we KNOW already. But a.) what is minor for some people is not minor for others and b.) what may be minor to everyone may still need certain levels of care, attention, or skills of which the parent is incapable of giving, for a variety of reasons. Here are two examples. CL/CP (cleft lip/cleft palette) is not, in my mind, a minor need. Not even remotely. The sheer number of surgeries, follow up, dietary issues, not to mention additional things often associated with this need (remember – this is a need most associated with fetal malnutrition which also affects brain and physical development and a host of other things…) make this a need that is not for the faint of heart. If you have signed up for this need thinking, “Oh! We just need to fix his lip – big deal!!!” then you have a possibly very long and challenging (and depending on your insurance,) COSTLY, road ahead of you. Or maybe, like ME, you live in a small town with incredibly limited options for care, early intervention programs, pediatric physical and occupational therapies, and the like. This leads to number 3.

3.) Next up? Many needs, whether you would consider them minor or not, are not an option for me but because of where I live. Being here would make it impossible for me to care for that child they way he or she would deserve. And finally, I had 4 kids already. I am NOT a Dugger where all the older kids parent all the younger kids. So taking on a more time involved need when I have other kids already with special needs is not something that would work for the way I parent. On top of that, I have a husband who travels regularly.

4.) “Why don’t you change agencies? So and so agency has a TON of girls and matches everyone in 3 months or less and has a small list of waiting families and has the youngest boys and will transfer your dossier right away!!” Sure. Let’s throw away the 18 months we have waited and start from scratch with explanations that could be about agencies who a friend of a friend used. Uh huh. Young minor needs girls are fewer in availability than they were 10, 5, 2 years ago. Than they were 6 months ago. FACT. Every statistic in the world validates this. I know of two agencies who are minimizing files and altering information. One is under review, another one is about to be. (And no, I won’t tell you.) I know of others who closed for financial issues but really were fined and could not afford it. I know of one that closed that was small, and could not meet the demand of families looking for girls and waiting so long for files and therefore could not do business. There is a reason to go with a specific agency. We have those reasons. Some of us find our kiddo on an advocacy sight or page and we switch. Some of us don’t. But to throw away thousands of dollars and tons of time because the timing is not preferable and is quite a trial is not an option for most of us.

5.) “Why don’t you want a boy? Can’t you consider a boy? That is so selfish and hurtful to not consider a boy!” DO NOT SAY THIS TO ANYONE. PERIOD. Family dynamics play into this. True story….I had someone message me (Carmelita of course), a few months ago. She  asked if she could actually call me. I gave her my cell and we chatted. Well, we chatted AFTER she could talk and breathe between the sobbing hysterics. She had just taken a major bashing on an agency specific Facebook page because they are waiting on a girl only. She got the classic statement, followed by comments about the selfishness of refusing to consider a boy, how if it was a biological issue they would have no choice etc. She shared from the depths of her heart…Her husband’s grandfather and father were both molesters of little boys, including her husband as a victim. Both still alive. His family is riddled with pain and dysfunction. He had decided never to have children, because although he felt no draw to pedophilia, he lived in fear of ever following in the footsteps of his perverse and abusive family. He met her, they married, and after several years considered adoption. They chose China, and he will only have a little girl because his fears run deep and that is the end of the story. She left the Facebook page (obviously) and was depressed for two days before she reached out to me. I told her these unknown strangers have NO right to judge her, her husband, or their motives. This precious broken man lives in fear of ever hurting a child but she could never share this. Her heartbreak was SO sad to me and was a huge reminder that we do not know someone else’s life. For some families it is the household dynamics, hand me down clothing, sharing rooms, and more. Either way, this is something THEY came to. And I assure you, they know there are far more boys waiting than girls. It is what it is, for whatever reason, and trying to guilt people into something so personal is intrusive and rude, no matter how well meaning you may be.

Look, we KNOW you probably want to help. And heck, share these things, but maybe without directing them to anyone. Maybe without pointing out what they may already know. Maybe without telling the person who has waited over a year and KNOWS this stuff. Just think. Really ask why you need to share this, and think about HOW. And maybe consider that the person you THINK you understand, you don’t really know at all.

internet confusion leading to the illusion that apparently, i told the world i pooped my pants.

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Soon.

One day soon, I have no doubt, “I” (note the quotes) will proclaim to the world that I have pooped my own pants. Or maybe that “I” picked my nose and ate my tasty boogers. Or “I” like to put my toe jam on my bagels for a nice snack. Fill in the blank with something disgusting and surely yes, that will be the status on my Facebook page once my kids figure out they can take my phone, and update my status on my behalf to something inappropriate and yet properly humiliating.

But it has not happened yet.

So I was quite confused the other day when my husband came home and said, “Leah? Um, did you poop your pants today?”

“Yeah, no. Not today. Not ever actually. Why the sudden curiosity into the function of my bowels??”

Ken replied, “Well, I was asked today if you pooped your pants.”

“For the love of pete who is asking you if I pooped my pants? I mean, why isn’t someone asking you if I cooked a delectable meal last night? Or even if I had recently gotten botox? Why in the world did someone ask you if I pooped my pants? What is WRONG with people?”

“Nothing is wrong with people. Apparently, you posted online that you pooped your pants.”

“I most assuredly DID NOT POST ONLINE THAT I POOPED MY PANTS!!! Are you KIDDING me???? If I did poop my pants, for REAL, I would not tell you, much less post it on the internet!!!” And yes, my voice was raised, and incredulous.

“Well they said you posted online that you pooped your pants.”

” (*&(*$&#*&))O()#%*Y#$I#I()(**) ”

After more discussion, it came to light that someone called a friend of Ken, and somehow mentioned to him that I had mentioned online that I had pooped my pants. And in crossing paths with Ken that day, he thought to ask Ken how I was feeling, due to the fact that I had pooped my pants, and then posted about said pants-pooping online.

It took me a good 4 minutes of deep thought and reflection. And at the end of that time, I almost died laughing. Something I do on a regular basis on Facebook is post funny movie quotes I come across because they are really funny. And they come to mind, sometimes right after watching the movie, but sometimes at totally random times like stop lights. Or parent teacher conferences. Or during a tennis lesson. And in this case, I quoted a hilarious line from a movie called “The Other Woman” where the philandering husband is given a secret and excessive dose of laxative in a restaurant which results in a public pants pooping. He returns home in bright red pants and explains to his wife that he had a “fecal incident.”

I thought that all of the quotation marks, different names, and further commentary on the quote made it clear that I was not the one doing the pants pooping, but apparently it was not obvious enough.

So world, both local and global, know this. I share much online. Heck, maybe too much. But on the off chance that I ever DO poop my pants, I will not post about it. I gotta keep a little mystery, people. Come on.