Sunday, September 6, 2015

There Needs To Be An App For That

I am not sure when it happens; that moment of time when something is so common place it seems as if it will always be...until one day it ceases without warning. Why isn't there some sort of life alert that today is the last day your child will look at you like you hung the moon? Or that it's the last day your three-year-old will climb onto her Daddy's back pretending he is the beast from Maggie and The Ferocious Beast while your family room magically becomes the path to Nowhere Land? Why is it when you look back years later you can't for the life of you recall when she stopped watching Maggie and The Ferocious Beast? I'm thinking there needs to be an app for that!

Every stage of your child's life comes with its ups and downs. When you are in the trenches of tantrums, toilet training, and terrible twos (they's the threes) you wonder if you should buy stock in diapers because they are going to be in them forever. The separation anxiety that plagues your little one will produce images of a ninety-pound growth shackled around your neck because it seems they will never get past the physical need to have less than two inches of space between you and them at all times. One night you will read them Runaway Bunny or Good Night Moon for the last time and have no warning that it is the last time.

There is nothing that prepares you for the day that clingy toddler becomes the teenager who would prefer to be in their room than in your presence. You go from reading bedtime stories to reading their text messages to their friends (at least I hope you read them). How did that little person who was the center of your universe become someone who looks at you like they don't even want to share the same space? Some of you are probably thinking "Oh no! My child will never look at me like that" or "My child will always love me. They will never..." It will happen at some point because it's all part of growing up. They will make you incredibly proud, but at some point, in some way they will do something that will break your heart. It might not be anything huge or life altering but at some point it's bound to happen. Parenthood is a wild ride and there is nothing that you can do but secure your lap bar, hold on tight and try not to jump the tracks or let anyone fall out of the moving cart. Being a parent is a wonderful blessing but it's not for the faint of heart.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What She Left Behind...

It has been one year. Three hundred sixty five days. It feels like it was yesterday. I remember where I was the exact moment I got the first phone call that something was wrong. I remember hanging up the phone and getting my ducks in a row to meet mom at the hospital. I remember standing around Grandma's hospital bed in the emergency department flanked by my mom, cousin, sister and my cousin’s wife. I remember holding her hand. I remember turning my head to the side so she couldn’t see the tears glistening in my eyes, threatening to spill down my cheeks at any second. I remember how her hand felt in mine and I remember telling her I would see her when I got off work and that I loved her. She couldn’t say it back but I seen it in her eyes.
I remember nothing about going back to work. I have no idea how I got there or when because it’s all a blur. I do remember going back to the hospital and gathering at our booth in the cafeteria while we waited for them to set her up in a room. I remember thinking and later saying that they should put a name plate for us above that booth in the cafeteria because it always seemed to be our spot whenever something happened, rarely have we ever gathered there for a happy occasion. I remember our family being around her bedside and coming up with a plan. I was going to see her the next morning and bring coffee for the family as they made the shift change so I could see Grandma before I went to work. There was no way we were leaving Grandma alone. I told her I loved her and that I would see her in the morning because we had a plan. Whenever she would get sick she would always say “Don’t worry about me baby. I’ll be alright” and then would pat my hand. I would lean in to kiss her on her forehead. She would say I love you and Lord bless you. But she didn’t say it that night. She couldn’t talk. She never told me she would be alright. I left. She never said it but I left anyway. I wish I would have stayed.

I remember getting the phone call a couple hours later. I remember Sarah’s calm voice as it came over the line asking me if I could come back up to the hospital. I remember holding on to hope that I would make it on time and driving like somebody lit my butt on fire. I remember talking to my friend Julie on the phone all the way to the hospital. I remember getting out of the car and turning to see my sister Tracy and my cousin Michael in the parking lot. I will never forget the look on Michael’s face as he shook his head no and opened his arms. I remember burying my head in his chest and him holding on to me while I sobbed so hard it shook the both of us. I remember all of us sitting with Grandma while we waited. I remember telling the nurses that someone had to stay with her while they did what they needed to because she couldn’t be alone without one of us…until it was time. I remember falling apart sitting in the chair in that hospital room, my body wracked with sobs. I remember our family as we cried and hugged and laughed. I remember Michael rallying behind me, Tracy and Katie. We kissed Grandma for the very last time and I told her to remember that I was her favorite. It was our little joke.

I remember the funeral. I remember getting up there in front of all those people…those lives she had touched in some way. Friends and family who were there to support us in one of the most devastating moments of our lives. I remember sharing memories that have spanned my lifetime. The funny things she used to say to us. She was so full of wisdom and she would be proud to know we use her grandma-isms often. I remember thinking I want them to know the woman we knew. I wanted them to know just how much she meant to us and how well loved we were by her.

Three hundred sixty five days later. It hasn’t gotten any easier. Grandma and Grandpa’s empty house is a constant reminder of the love that used to live within its walls. The shared holidays, making candy, slumber parties with cousins, the giant bug with a vendetta, the couch that almost ate Aunt Bea and me…so many precious memories. I would rather have the house empty though because I can’t imagine someone else living there. I still won’t let Mark mow over the flowers in the front yard just in case Grandma might be watching. We have devised a plan to make people believe the house is haunted should anyone move in and we know we shouldn’t be that way because nobody will like us but we have decided we don’t much care. We will never forget how she prayed over us, how she blessed us, how much she loved us. We will never forget praying to Ernest, the pink slippers, two four six eight Johnny had a little snake, or riding the horsey. I will always remember corn pops in coffee cups, and hot dogs with a blob of ketchup, swinging on the porch swing, her hair up in curlers and standing by her side year after year as she taught me to make fudge. Nobody will ever make banana pudding like her, or strawberry parfait. They won’t be able to make pea salad, green beans or onion dip taste as delicious as Grandma’s. I miss her every single day. We miss her every single day. She was the closest person to a saint I have ever known.

So…Lord bless you, Grandma. Oh and when I get to heaven you and I are going to have a long talk about all those vases.
Your favorite ;-)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Because You're Twelve

Our children tend to be such inquisitive souls. The why questions begin when they are around two or three. Mommy, why is the sky blue? Why do cats cover their poop? Why can't we use an iron to get great grandma's wrinkles out? As our kids get older the why questions become more complicated. They'll start to push their boundaries. They question our rules. Responding with "because I said so" doesn't seem to quite cut it these days. My daughter is twelve. It's a lovely age really (insert sarcasm here). Not quite a child but a far cry from being grown up. These are the days of boy bands and catty girls, of slamming doors and stomping feet. These are the days when they discover the opposite sex no longer has the most dreaded childhood affliction...the cooties.

Now that she is older her why questions go something like this...
*Why can't I wear eyeliner?
*Why can't I wear bright lipstick?
*Why can't I wear these shorts out of the house?
*Why do you have to meet all my friends parents?

My answer to her questions is always the same. She even says it before I can get the words out. Because you're twelve. Then it is followed with BUT MOM! I had no idea that somewhere around the time she turned ten I would go from Mommy to BUT MOM. You can't wear eyeliner, bright lipstick or dark lipstick BECAUSE YOU'RE TWELVE. You need to look twelve and be twelve because YOU ARE TWELVE! Enjoy these moments. Ride your bike and play with the dog, paint your nails and read books. Write songs and make faces at yourself in the mirror. Just be twelve.

You are not wearing those shorts out of the house. Why? Because. You. Are. Twelve. Twelve-year-olds do not go outside to the mailbox or to the mall with the wrong cheeks hanging out. Some 12-year-olds might, but not you because you're twelve and you have me for a mother.

Do you want to guess why I have to meet your friends parents? Yep...because you are twelve. Also, because I want to make sure they aren't serial killers, or involved in human trafficking. I have to give them the speech. The one about how all my eggs are literally in one basket and how you are that basket. Okay so I wouldn't really give them the speech...but I might because you are my basket and you are twelve.

So what will I say when she turns thirteen? I am sure whatever why questions she comes up with... because you are thirteen will be my answer but at least when she is thirteen I will allow her to wear eyeliner.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Shopping With A Tween Girl...Not For The Faint of Heart.

There are few things that stress me out more these days than clothes shopping with my 12-year old daughter..who thinks she is going on 30. I find myself saying no to nearly every other thing she holds up. Today I took her shopping for a dress for the upcoming Father/Daughter dance. She found one that she was in love with and when she walked out of the fitting room...I nearly hyperventilated. The dress had a bell sleeve on one side while the other side was sleeveless. It was a perfectly beautiful dress if my daughter was 17, but she is 12 and back on the rack it went. She found another dress that was "the one." I decided it was not the one. Her face was crestfallen and she was a little miffed at me. I had an internal battle with myself on how to explain why the dress was inappropriate.

What I really wanted to say was...

*The dress is a halter-style and while your feet are growing faster than Pinocchio's nose... your chest sweetheart, is not. You have nothing to hold that dress up. It is much too revealing for you to wear. No daughter of mine is going out of the house wearing something that makes her look like a cheap hooker. YOU ARE TWELVE!

I didn't say those things because explaining to my daughter what a hooker is would have made me hyperventilate for the second time in one afternoon. That word doesn't need to be in her vocabulary at all.

What did I say instead?

The dress isn't really age appropriate and it doesn't fit you correctly so let's keep looking.

It was all flowers and singing birds and we moved on to the next store. If you have ever met my daughter you would know that is so not the way it went down. There was a lot of "But MOM! You don't understand". It was followed by "I am paying for the dress and you are TWELVE!"

I wish I could make clothing designers understand that I don't want my daughter dressing like she is 20 going to a club with her girls on a Friday night. She still wears pajamas with puppies on them for crying out loud. I don't think a dress with sleeves and a full back is too much to ask. I would also like it to hit just above the knee as opposed to mid thigh. I get that the days of seersucker dresses are behind us. I want her to feel beautiful and trendy without her barely there lady bits being on display. Is it really too much to ask?!

I am happy to report she found a dress we both agreed on and she will wear a little jacket over it. I also threatened to find an Amish website to buy her clothes in the future.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

To Halloween or not...that used to be the question.

Once upon a time, I was that parent who struggled with the whole Halloween debacle. Do we let our child trick or treat? Carve pumpkins? Bob for apples? As Christians, are we slapping our faith in the face if we choose to allow our child to participate in something that was once a part of our innocent youth? Obviously, we had to figure out what was right for us and our family, and in no way am I implying that we are right, or what works for us is right for anyone else. It didn't take me long to realize that we weren't dropping our beliefs at the door in exchange for a pagan holiday that exalted evil.

I decided early on the Sunshine Girl would not be permitted to dress up as anything "evil." There would be no devils, witches, or anything that remotely could be mistaken for the one name monsters from the cheesy horror flicks of my youth. One, two...Freddie's... if my sister is reading this she will probably smack me the next time I see her. Jason, Freddie and Michael Meyers are out!

Charli has been a butterfly...twice, a clown, and a farmer back when she was going though her Charlotte's Web phase complete with a pig obsession. I think my favorite costume was the year she was Mother Goose. My grandmother made her little dress, and apron...which I still have and treasure more now than ever. With my sister's help, we put nursery rhymes on iron on transfer paper then put them on Charli's little apron. We even hot glued a spider to the apron...after all Little Miss Muffet probably found something more appetizing than curds and whey thanks to that spider. I remember one Halloween, just a few years ago when a few of Charli's friends who we were going trick or treating with, happen to be dressing up as Monster High Dolls but Charli wanted to be an Egyptian Queen. Even when I told her I would buy her a costume so she could "be like the other girls", her response shocked me a little. She said "Mom, I am happy doing my own thing, I don't have to be like everyone else." I thought to myself, from her lips to God's ears and may she keep that mindset as a teenager. Last year, Charli was a Flapper girl and this year she wants to be Marylin Munroe. Sure my life would be "easier" if I didn't have to stretch my creative mind to achieve her far fetched costume ideas but it simply isn't who she is...and I am okay with it.

I also quickly got over my aversion to carving pumpkins. I never carved a pumpkin as a kid, I'm pretty sure I never went to a pumpkin patch either. I thought pumpkins came in a tin can from some woman named Libby. I once read a story about teaching a child about salvation by carving a pumpkin. Now before I go any further, I have many friends from many walks of life. We have different beliefs and it has never been an issue. I embrace them and they embrace me, not because of, or in spite of our differences. We are who we are, and we are accepted and loved. I am a Christian so, this little story helped me to teach my three year old daughter at the time about Jesus. When you cut open a pumpkin and see all the icky stuff inside, it represents a life without God. When you clean out the pumpkin, that is what happens we repent and ask God to forgive us of our sins. When we carve the smile into the face of the pumpkin and put our candle inside it symbolizes what happens when we ask Jesus into our heart to be our savior. His light shines within us. It is a wonderful visual and helped her young mind begin to grasp what were trying to teach her. We retell the story every year when we carve a pumpkin, and I am sure God doesn't hold last years pumpkin against us. The number one and the letter "D" happened to get carved into it instead of our traditional smiley face.

As for the bobbing for apples...that would be a resounding NO. I not only happen to be a bit of a scaredy cat, but I am unapologetically a germaphobe. Happy October and no matter how you celebrate fall, I hope you make wonderful memories with your family and friends.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Love In Stitches

Autumn has arrived. There is a nip in the air, which is a welcome change though I am certain it will be back in the eighties next week. Autumn is my most favorite time of year. The season ushers in wonderful things I enjoy, like pumpkins, craft festivals, homemade soup and thick knitted sweaters. I think of our many trips to the pumpkin patch over the years, but last year is the memory that sticks out most in my mind.

Last year our whole family went to the pumpkin patch together. My cousins and their children, my sister and her children, my mother and father in-law, my mom, my grandma and even my cousin's grand daughter. We took one picture after another, grandma was a little worried about being in every photo and I remember telling grandma she was our prop and she couldn't move until we were done. My cousin Katie told her the same thing. The pumpkin patch we go to is an incredible place and we adore it. There are several photo spots set up and as you can imagine there are one or two that are coveted for family photos. We have a large family so it took us a while to get through all those pictures. There was a niggling thought in the back of my head, though I didn't speak it out loud. I am certain I am not the only one who thought it. I looked at grandma and thought...what if? What if next year... We tried to be considerate of other families, but I have not one regret looking back on it, that we spent so much time taking photos.

My husband, my cousin and I have spent the last few months packing up grandma's house, trying to condense two households into one. We have discovered several treasures. My grandma was a quilter. There has been a sewing machine or three in her house for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, she would make us summer shorts, later on she made us nightgowns. She has made quilts and blankets for her great grandchildren. One year, my daughter Charli was Mother Goose for Halloween and Grandma made her dress and apron. It occurred to me the other day as we unearthed more quilt blocks from the abyss of bins, that my Grandma loved us in stitches.

She spent hours over the course of her life bent over a machine. When her hands were young and sure, when her sight was intact until her hands couldn't remember how and she could no longer see well enough to thread the machine, she loved us in stitches. The time and effort she put into cutting, pinning, patching, and stitching material is remarkable. It's funny how you don't think about these things when you are growing up. It never really occurs to you what a sacrifice of time was spent to provide you with warmth. Grandma sewed and she prayed. She stitched fabric together to provide us warmth for our bodies, and she stitched us up in prayer to ensure the wellness of our souls. They say that some women are born to be mothers...if ever there was a woman born to be a grandmother it was her. It has been three months today since God called her home. I don't let myself cry often. There is still so much to do that I can't completely open the floodgates just yet. Writing blog posts like this, it's like letting steam off a pressure cooker. It releases the valve enough to keep me from a cataclysmic emotional spewing.

When I think back to our pumpkin patch trip last year, my first thought isn't that my daughter fell and bumped her head when she tried to jump between two haystacks, or the subsequent attitude adjustment that she needed later on in the day. I remember my Grandma with a smile on her face, laughter in her eyes, loving on her babies. I remember the kids running and playing together, and producing sounds of childhood. It was a great day. Life is short...take a lot of pictures.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Iron Man & Big Girl Panties...Keeping It Real

They say that which does not kill us makes us stronger. I am not really sure of who "they" refers to. If the adage were true, I could be the stunt double for Iron Man. The amount of self-control it takes these days not to unleash the beast is unfathomable. I have bitten my tongue so much in the past several weeks that I am surprised there isn't a mere bloody stub left. My head is so full of noise. I just need all those rampant thoughts to be quiet and the only way I can get the pressure to ease is to purge them. I probably sound like a crazy person. We all have full plates, things we are going through. I am not alone, however I do wish more people would just own it.
I put my big girl panties on and I wear them religiously every single day. I am accountable for the things I do, and say. I would like to believe that I have faced every obstacle with dignity and grace but that simply isn't true. I have moments I am not proud of but I own them. I don't justify them, or make excuses, or even attempt to defend those moments. When I am wrong, I apologize. The older I get the easier it is to let go of the facade. My life is not perfect. I am up to my eyeballs cleaning up chaos that I didn't have a hand in making. I am exhausted and utterly overwhelmed. I take a few deep breaths, shed a few tears, tug those panties up, say a few prayers and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I am a happy person, not a "Debbie Downer." I always have a can do attitude. The person I see in the mirror lately, I don't even recognize. I am not this frazzled, overwhelmed person that stares back at me.
I am always living for someday. Some day I will feel like I am not constantly dropping the mom ball, or the wife ball. Some day my thoughts won't be so focused on making it from one day to the next. Some day I will have the time and calm to finish that book. Some day the situation that I am trying to take care of will be done and I can have that nervous breakdown I so deserve while sipping a fruity little umbrella drink. Hopefully that some day comes before I need to trade the big girl panties for a straightjacket ;-)