sometimes you finally have to say something….and a lesson for my son in what strength really is.

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Hadley had a tough school year. You see, he is pretty passive. He is not competitive by nature, and just kind of goes with the flow, or does his own thing if nothing else interested him. However, when pushed, he will eventually bust. He has that in common with his mama.

Last year, around Thanksgiving, this came out in an altercation with one of his buddies. The kid is sweet, well meaning, and fun. A little younger than Hadley (and a lot younger last year even though only one year difference…they are more equal now…), he kept trying Hadley’s patience again and again and again. Finally Hadley had enough….and the kid took the brunt of it. Now. The kid had been rough housing, pushing buttons, etc. But Hadley’s response was NOT right regardless…it was over the top. I apologized to the mom; he apologized to the boy. They are good buddies now. The buddy has learned to not push so much and respect personal space, and my son has learned that being strong means being calm and gentle at the times that is the hardest.

But recently, it is a lesson that needs some tweaking. And yet it doesn’t. It seems so contradictory, really, and is a tough road for me to navigate well because 1.) i am a chick 2.) i am not a 10 year old boy 3.) i was INSANELY competitive at his age (and not at all now go figure) and 4.) i am unsure of where the perfect line should be drawn.

My son is huge. I mean, off the charts tall for his age. Always has been, maybe always will be. He was also a beanpole…until the beginning of the school year. His shoulders came in. He went from a long and lanky 65 pound string bean, grew two more inches and gained 30 THIRTY pounds over the year. He looks skinny; it is now lean muscle, all lithe body mass. Strength, the physical kind. And he wants to play flag football at school. Play sports with the guys. And although he is athletic, he likes to let people go in front of him in line, doesn’t try to get the ball aggressively, doesn’t hustle to be the fastest. He is gentle and kind and does not care much about winning.

Thus, he is not given the ball. He is chosen last, or close to it. Because he doesn’t push to win like most boys do at that age, and if he sees someone else doesn’t get the ball, he will help them get it. Killer instinct? Yeah, not so much. Of course, I am more proud of my son for this approach and attitude than any height or physical strength. This is strength of character and heart that no skill can equal.

But.

He is an 11 1/2 year old boy. And he does not want to be called weak any more. He just wants to play, be included. His only aggression? When someone else is picked on. When someone else is poked.

He and I have that trait in common too.

And after I went through something similar a month ago online, maybe even more than I thought.

An online adoption group in which I am involved has a sort of new member who has found it necessary to just kind of “start” things. The thing is, her approach and beliefs and opinions are good ones. They have validity. I don’t agree with all of them, but I like the different perspective. We all need exposure to ideas and beliefs not our own. It sharpens our own thoughts, or helps us see differences and perspectives we would not have considered. Heck, it is this kind of approach that has helped me change my parenting or other skills at times. And we should all be open to this kind of challenge. It betters us.

At the same time, however, once you share a view, there is no need to continue brow beating people with it, and then moreso, continue and literally put others down because they don’t believe the same or agree with you. “I don’t like red.” Ok. That’s cool. “It is a dumb color. Unflattering and ugly and reminds people of murder.” Um, oookkkkkaaaayyyyy….. “People who like red are inconsiderate to those who have been murdered. People who like red are cruel.” Wait. What??

The logic is skewed. You want to cling to a fair belief, great. No worries. You want to cling to a belief some people share and some people don’t, fantastic. You want to keep insisting your belief is right, in everyone else’s face and in the middle of conversations not about that topic at all, um. Ok. Annoying, but still, I will walk away or ignore. But you want to call people names because they don’t agree? To the point people cry and feel badly about life decisions because of your passionate insistence on their wrongness and petty need to put someone down for doing it differently from you?? Yeah, you and I are gonna have an issue.

And that happened. So after ignoring 2 other dumb conversations about it all, when it went south and people got called names, yeah. I spoke up. And I was not snuggly. But I was also not out of line.

Because that is the tricky thing about strength. People should not get their feelings hurt by anonymous strangers online. But people do. Sometimes, people don’t stick up for themselves. That can be strength. Holding back can ALSO be strength. Helping someone you don’t know can be strength. Staying quiet and uninvolved can be strength. But sometimes, speaking up is strength. Proving you have muscles is strength. But knowing when and how to use them is the ultimate strength. And I explained this to Hadley.

To Hadley,

“Son. I LOVE that you are so gentle and peace loving. If you never compete in sports I could care less. If you let others go first forever I could not be prouder. If you end up penniless at the end of your life, because you gave it all away and were too compassionate for your own good, that too would bring me great pride. BUT. If you want to win. If you want to speak for the soft. If you want to take one for the team. Then go big or go home. Hit hard. Speak loud. And if anyone calls you weak again to your face, and pokes you in the chest and calls you a nasty name, then you have two choices. Square your shoulders back, smile, and walk away. Strength. Or square your shoulders back, take a step forward and speak, quietly, an inch away from that face in yours and assure that person you are neither weak nor worthy of that name, and if they touch you or threaten you again, you will show them, one on one, exactly how weak you are NOT. Strength. You have the right to do both. But I caution you. Taking up your own cause is unnecessary. The people that matter? They need no reminder, no proof of your strength. Or of your love, kindness, humor, or anything else of worth. Because they know you. They accept you. So save the proof. Take up the cause for others, for the ones that don’t have the confidence or the ability to show strength of their own. That can be worth it. You may or may not get thanked. You may or may not get recognition. But those things don’t matter. Always stick up for others. I can’t think of anything stronger.”

Good to write this, to read this, and to remind myself of this too. And in the midst of the Supreme Court stuff and upcoming political changes/debates/perspectives? Let’s consider kindness, and reconsider our definitions of strength.

 

i am the queen cheapo fashionista…..(should i be ashamed to admit that?)

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Hmm. Cheapo in the title probably doesn’t do me any favors.

Look. I can’t lie. There are a few areas in life where I prefer the truly luxurious. Specifically? Jewelry and handbags. It’s a problem. But it balances out because there are a few more things in life I will do or purchase as cheaply as possible. I LOVE travel and can sleep on the floor if it takes me somewhere new and fascinating!! Shoes? I can NOT spend much. Heck, I adamantly refuse to hit triple digits  (and even hate to go over 20 bucks in all honesty) for shoes because I destroy them!! (although i will always invest in good sneakers…). And clothing?? Despite living in a semi sort of fashion-less tropical mecca where lilly pulitzer reigns supreme (my town LITERALLY pukes pink and green), i love trends, fashion, and funky style. I don’t wear much of it unless and until I travel. Hitting NYC?? gosh LOVE it, just so i can dress like someone OTHER than a poster for vineyard vines (gag. sorry. just not my jam 24/7, you know??)

But as I am still in full on baby mode, or little kid mode (i just held a puke bag on our most recent airline flight, catch my drift??), i can’t justify spending real money on high end fabrics, brands, styles, etc. So my wardrobe revolves, and cheaply. Most who know me know that I look pretty pulled together when I choose to do so, assuming of course i actually get a shower and make it out of my workout clothes (happens less often than I would prefer). I find my clothing any and everywhere. No place is off limits, and I love to find funky little cheap finds. But yesterday? I had an hour to kill before a drop off and pick up and I killed that hour at Ross.

Scary for most people, I know. It is tough to navigate, filled with crap, clothing can even have holes or be messed up. Also, with a tiny toddler in tow, trying anything on in the debatably grossest of fitting rooms is SO not happening. I find patterns, cuts, styles, and colors that i think might look good on me, buy it all, bring it home, and try it on. And yesterday?? I totally hit the jackpot.

So rather than continue to brag about my clothing cheapness, I took pics of each little ensemble. Keep in mind they all need some serious accessorization and funking up, so just take my word for that. In the meantime? Here are the pics and at the end? The INSANELY low prices. AHHHHHHH!!! Score, baby!!!!

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The blueish floral romper?? Fun and casual for summer with sandals and chunky bangle bracelets. And the white and black one?? Throw on a long black old man cardigan and some thick cabled Ugg boots? Perfect Florida winter ensemble. Short strapless patterned romper would be great with flip flops or as a cover up on a beach day. Or heck, maybe throw on some cork wedges, hoop earrings, oversized shades and look great for under 10 bucks. The white dress? Hard to see in photo but it would be a beautiful party dress or even a beachy wedding or vow renewal dress! The other dressy dress is black, lace, shimmery, fitted but comfy. I adore the teal romper with gold buttons. Could do an easy casual or dressy summer look with that…The navy romper? Fab…Lace edges, low front, fun but sexy – maybe throw in an armful of skinny silver bracelets. There is a blue patterned little flowy and casual dress for church, and a really fun black and white number that with a black straw hat and a brightly colored clutch bag (maybe in red, or yellow??) would be fab. Also there is this great sleeveless romper with harem pant style bottoms with a scarf and glad sandals for day or with big wedges and high pony tail with long, dangly gold earrings for night….and my fave is the stretchy long dress with the neon (normally HATE neon) horizon color blocking….Loved it all.

And the prices? 5.99, 7.99, 9.99, 10.99, 14.99 and 16.99.

Yup. Totally serious. Not one item was over 16.99. Doing my little happy dance right now. Granted. These items won’t stand the test of time. They are not hand stitched using the finest silk. But I destroy clothing. Between 5 kids, a hot and sweaty climate, the racing around, jumping in and out of the biggest car in the world…I rip, stain, tear, or sweat stain something on a daily basis.

Attention: awesome hilarious and disgusting vacation post NOT for the faint of heart. Be brave. And have some pepto on hand just in case you can’t take it…

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I was a tad concerned when the night before vacation to the Bristish Virgin Islands I was up all night because one kid has explosive diarrhea and another kid has projectile vomitting. NOT cool.

Luckily, after 6 hours of travel there was only one more puke incident, on the plane, and in one of those handy baggie thingies so it could have been WAY worse. But despite the various bodily fluids, the fun and adventure was almost immediate and I am not lookin back.

Well, except out of the driveway.

For the first time on a Caribbean vacation, we rented a villa. You know, a house, that is on its own. No resort. No elevator. No room service. (Do you hear Ken’s scream of abject horror right now??) We rented this amazing house in Virgin Gorda. It is beyond perfect. A/C and wifi were Ken’s adamant demands. Other than that? A hike to the beach below, bedrooms for all the kids, and a great big 4 poster bed in the master suite. Good times.

I LOVE this trip. Ken thinks we are basically camping (no spa on site!) but we have total freedom, no neighbors, and a TON of space. We rented a car, got some groceries, and are having a new adventure every day discovering little beaches, restaurants, coves, and more. Heaven. Having said that, here are a few things to note.

1.) When you stock your villa with snacks, plan on spending an entire pay check on 12 nectarines, 2 boxes of popcorn, milk, oreos, and sun block. Seriously. Island groceries require that you liquidate part of your stock portfolio. (Gulp).
2.) When a villa description says, “a fun pathway down to the beach for the adventurous soul!” it actually gets translated to, “By basically half rolling and half falling down this nearly vertical, rocky, cliff, your adventure is actually the thrill of making it down alive.” (Double gulp).
3.) When the reviews say, “Driving in Virgin Gorda is a great way to explore the island on your own, adventurous terms!” it really means that, “You will be 4 wheel driving on the wrong side of the road around hairpin turns where the island residents speed in the center of a very narrow road while your children scream that you are all gonna die while your husband yells about having a possible ‘incident’.” (Triple gulp).
4.) When you think the tummy bug was isolated, and only hit one kid, don’t make any bets. Because that night, after eating mac n cheese and 4 pounds of watermelon, the inevitable will happen and another child will puke. However, note that said child, and her bed mate, will be so far BEYOND exhausted, that you will put them to bed, they will pass out, the sick one will puke later all over herself and her bed mate, will sleep through puking, while the bedmate sleeps through getting puked ON, and when you walk by their room before you go to bed, you will only be alerted to said slumbering/puking issues because of the acidic disgusting scent emanating from beneath the door. The horror you experience of puke everywhere will only be displaced for a moment when your realize they slept through it and you think about all the dumb a** rockstars who have died by choking to death on their own puke so you race in and make sure this has not happened and it hasn’t so then normal horror at what you now have to do reasserts itself. (Gulp down your OWN puke).
5.) When you have stripped the bedding and showered a sleeping kid and put everyone back to sleep and taken the puked on bedding outside to the outdoor shower with some dish soap to handle it all, and you are barely, and I mean BARELY clinging to a shred of sanity, and you suddenly get dive bombed by something in mid air, just give up. (I am guessing they were fruit bats, but they could have been aerodynamic, small, shrieking, diving birds). Because apparently, when one eats massive volumes of watermelon, then pukes it up, and one’s mom has to shake off and scrub clean the bedding outdoors in the desert/mountain/jungle in the middle of the night, and chunks of watermelon abound, the bats don’t know it is tummy bug infested watermelon and don’t care and get excited and don’t care that you are standing there. (Forget gulping. Actual puking, mixed with maniacal laughter now ensues…)
So if right now the British Virgin Islands, and Virgin Gorda, in particular, have some kind of problem with puking or dying fruit bats all over the island, yes, the Sweet Family housed patient zero.

Reality, dirty dozen, child trafficking, the candy shop. what can YOU do??

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sexual slavery

child trafficking

forced prostitution

These are real things happening in the world and IN THIS COUNTRY. The biggest deal on super bowl Sunday? Bigger than the outcome or which ads are most captivating? The captivity of the women and children sold, traded, won and lost on that day IN THIS COUNTRY.

I am sorry that this follows a classic lighthearted Leah post. Not sorry actually. Not at all. I love to laugh and make others laugh. This has been a heavy year for my heart, for many reasons, and that bothers a few of my readers who prefer the constant jokes and laughs. Can’t help it. I write my reality and right now this is it.

I beg you to read this link. It is written by an awesome man and pastor – one of the honest ones I respect more than I could say. He admits to having that struggle with porn in his past. And he is now vocal in an area where most aren’t. Focus on the Family estimates that over 70% of church leadership today has some kind of exposure and struggle with porn. That’s reality. And no one is talking about it. Learn more about the ministry referenced. Donate. Help. Volunteer. Most importantly? Recognize how YOU, yes YOU are contributing to the industry of sex trafficking. Think that secret 20 minutes in your room, on your computer, at 2 am doesn’t hurt anyone? Think again. Learn. Change.

http://disruptusrenovatus.com/every-click-claims-another-captive/

Now read this one. These are companies that profit off of pornography. Porn is not just about getting off. Porn is not just about personal fulfillment. Porn is not just a harmless way to fill the time. Porn has real victims. Think again. Learn. Change.

http://fightthenewdrug.org/companies-who-profit-off-porn-this-years-dirty-dozen-list/#sthash.Rp29HSlF.dpbs

Now, if you think you are brave enough, real enough, watch this final link. It is a trailer for a YouTube video. Then watch the full video. Try not to cry. Go ahead. Good luck. And try to tell me this doesn’t happen, that this video does not stir the deepest parts of your soul. Do a little research.  Then think again. Learn. And change.

A quick kid car conversation to crack you up…

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“mom, I am pretty certain that I could NEVER be a veterarian.”

“Well how do you know Kincaid? You are only 7,” I responded. “Also I think you mean a veterinarian.”

“I love meat so much. Like SO much. Avery is 11 and she is already a veterarian.”

“huh?”

Hadley piped in…”Avery is a a veGETARIAN. She doesn’t eat meat. She is a vegetarian, not a veterinarian. A veterinarian is a doctor who helps animals.”

“Well I only like animals to EAT them. So I don’t think I could be a veterarian OR a vegetarian.”

A fair and profound point made by my 7 year old son. It is also quite accurate. Hmm.

my little man is all grown up……and i am proud and depressed simultaneously…

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This kid just came out of me. Seriously.

Yeah...this guy....

Yeah…this guy….

It feels like yesterday. He was 5 days late, and the doc said he was “big” so we needed to induce. Fast forward a bit….29 hours of labor and 3 1/2 hours of pushing and this guy would not budge. Fast forward again to the ER and an emergency Csection and a bunch of laughter as they wrenched a 10 pound 2 oz 23 1/2 inch baby out of me. The last thing I heard was “holy bleep look at this placenta!!!” and it all went dark. He is now 5 foot 3, 99.8 pounds (he is stalking the scale to hit 3 digits), and graduating from elementary school, as solid 5-6 inches taller than any other boy in his grade (and the grades above and below him I think). What happened? When and how and WHHHHYYYYYY??????

Because that’s what kids do.

They get older and bigger and do things and need you less. Luckily I still have a young man who will let me hold him, give him hugs, and is not ashamed of me. He loves to talk, late into the night, and share everything and I pray that never, ever stops, no matter what he says and whether I like it or not. He is his own person. I am not the owner of his every choice, I am not the guardian of his every virtue, and I am not the one responsible for the character he develops. Do I play a role? Sure. Can I influence? Of course. Our kids are never meant to be a reflection of us. They can be, in many ways, but it is not our job to create mini me’s or robot kids. Hadley is neither of those things. And for that I couldn’t be prouder. This kid?? He kills himself for B’s and C’s. He wins no awards. He breaks no records. He doesn’t get recognized for any of the classic school awards and achievements. But this kid is one of the most fiercely loyal, impressively funny, deeply sensitive, totally “real” people I know and I am honored not just to be his mom, but to consider him someone I admire in my life. Yeah. I admire my own child. Here is Hadley’s video from the elementary school talent show. Couldn’t be more proud if I tried. Enjoy.

ok let’s start this up again……let’s raise a few bucks to get Caleb HOME!!!!

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I don’t do fundraisers.

I don’t like them, for the most part. Too many people are just setting up go fund me accounts and expecting everyone to throw in some bucks to save the poor lost orphan. LOTS of problems with this one. Work hard, save, get creative, get additional jobs, get crafty, hold garage sales, basically WORK for it and then it makes a little more sense. Parlaying the case of your dying, broken orphan to get people to fund your family trip to China and to Hong Kong Disney tends to tick me off.

But I am straying and getting onto a soap box issue. Sorry.

THIS IS ABOUT A SWEET LITTLE BOY.

AN 11 year old boy who was just disrupted in China, and whose file is, hopefully, being relisted with his agency. And the great news??

We have TWO matching grants to help the family to whom he will be matched so that they can be paper ready and travel as soon as humanly possible to make sure he gets the love and care he deserves, and can start healing from this recent trauma. YOUR job?? PLEASE post in the COMMENTS section of this blog (not on Facebook) how much you would like to give, and make sure to have your email address (NOT public, just me) correct. I will then email you with how to contact the agency directly to make a fully TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation.

If for some reason the agency does NOT get his file back, they have agreed to pass the funds along to whichever agency DOES get it!! Why? Because they just want what is best for this boy…a forever family!!!!

Doing this together we can raise up to 7000 bucks!!!!! That’s HUGE!!!! I am opening it back up until this Friday at midnight. For those who posted on the original post? Look for an email from me with links and ways to give. Let’s get this going!!!!!