Tag Archives: family

Dodging The Bullet On Family Picture Day

We took our family pictures recently. The more kids you have, the more schedules you have to coordinate around, the tougher it is. And this year we dodged a major bullet.

Exactly 2 hours after the photo shoot, my youngest son came down with pink eye. That morning I was struggling with clothes that weren’t too matchy-matchy. Arguing with two little boys who would rather ride scooters at the park then pose for pictures. A daughter who fussed over hairstyles. A husband who snapped and growled because his only day off that week was going to be interrupted for a photo session.

But it was all worth it.

This is what we got….

Pre-pink eye.

(Thanks, Merrilymarylee, for reminding me to celebrate the little victories.)

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Filed under children, family, Hey! That Reminds Me!

Item #174 From The List Of What NOT To Say To An Adopted Child

I know you meant well. I know you were, in your feeble way, trying to make my child feel comfortable.

But you didn’t. You made him feel singled out and confused.

When assigning a Family Tree project and addressing your group of children, just talk to the whole group. Use words like “family” and “parent” and “grandparents” as if everyone in the group has a family and a parent and a grandparent.

Because we do!

We all do. Families form in different ways, to be sure. But you don’t need to single anyone out. Each child will find a way to complete the assignment that fits for him.

And if my son had brown hair and blue eyes like his father you wouldn’t have even considered saying…

Item #174 – “That’s ok, #1son. Just use the information from the parents you live with now.”  And when you saw the confused look on his face (because he understood the assignment until you tried to “clarify”) you go on to say, “Not your real parents but the parents you live with NOW.”

Real parents? Are you kidding me?

We are his real parents. We may not have physically given him his 46 chromosomes but we have given him food, shelter and love from the moment we first held him in our arms.

We were there for his first tooth. We rushed him to the hospital when his fever spiked to 106. We laughed with his infectious laugh. He held our fingers, one in each hand, before falling asleep those precious first few nights. We held him when he cried, when he was sick, when he wanted simple cuddle time.

We took him to pre-school and proudly watched him at his kindergarten graduation with adorable cap and gown. We jumped up and down when he rounded third base to score the winning run. We read with him every night. We worry about every sniffle. We stand on the porch watching him walk two houses down to a friend’s house, hiding behind the pillar, hoping he doesn’t see.

We know to give him his medicine during pollen season. We anticipate his frequent bloody noses when the weather is dry or the pollen is high. We know that he is allergic to certain antibiotics. We have his pediatrician on speed-dial.

We are his real parents. We are as real as it gets. His biological parents made a heartfelt, incredibly difficult decision to allow us to be his real parents. And we will be forever grateful.

Our son has a family. A real family. To call his own. He knows who his parents are. Who his siblings are. Who his grandparents are. Even his great-grandparents. So, no need to explain things to him.

He knows who his real family is.

No need to clarify.

Just wanted to let you know.

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Filed under Be-Causes, family, Soapbox

Make Time For Those Who Matter Most

The holidays can be such a difficult time for some families. All crowded in the same house. Forcing civility. Trying each other’s patience. Accommodating. Pleasing. Or trying to please with the same childhood insecurities and failures rearing their ugly heads.

Here is a post I wrote a while ago. A little Jane’s wisdom. I am a work in progress. And so are you. Hug yourself and let go.

I’ve made a conscious decision in my adult life to focus on people who reciprocate. I don’t mean in a tit-for-tat kind of way. I don’t keep score. I have some friends from far away that make an effort to visit and some that don’t. With some friends, we need to talk a few times a week and with others we can pick up where we left off after months of no contact. I suppose my criteria is different depending on the relationship. But for the most part,  it has to feel like we’re both making an effort to nurture the relationship.

A very wise man once gave me the following visual about marriage. He said that there are times when a marriage is like this – and he made a fist with one hand and covered it with the other. And then there are other times when a marriage is like this – and he reversed his hands. But for most of the journey a marriage should be like this:

hands

He interlaced his fingers, joining them together.

That visual made such an impression on me. I was in a relationship at the time that was so lop-sided. I was co-dependently orchestrating our journey. I left that relationship – thank goodness. I’ve applied this visual to other parts of my life, both with family and friends.

I recognize that we need to carry the other person sometimes. We all have struggles in our lives where we need others to pick up the slack. And sometimes, we’re the one who needs to be carried. Being able to lean on your friends and family from time to time is essential. But for most of the time, for most of our journey, we need to be working together to nurture and care for each other.

Journeys shared are the journeys worth taking. I surround myself with people who nurture me and allow themselves to be nurtured by me. People that listen with their heart. Act with compassion and kindness. See with loving eyes.

These are the people who I make time for.

These are the people who matter most.

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Filed under family, friends

To All The Karma Chameleons In Our Lives: May You Stay Far, Far Away

“Is there loving in your eyes all the way.
If I listened to your lies would you say” –  You know the type. They say one thing. Do another. I’ve had people in my life – friends, family, acquaintances – who seem so sincere. And I believe them. And then my heart is stomped.

“Didn’t hear your wicked words every day
and you used to be so sweet” – The lesson that is so, so difficult to learn is how to recognize these karma chameleons, these psychic vampires, and stay far, far away. I am horrible at this. I don’t recognize them. I give them every benefit of the doubt. Everyone else seems to see through them but me.

“You string along, you string along” – There’s that saying “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I get fooled twice, thrice and….well, four times quite a bit. And then some. It’s frustrating. It’s maddening. But it’s all on me. It’s a part of me I love – seeing the good and not the bad. Giving the second and third chances. Starting anew with someone that’s just a little misunderstood. But it’s a part of me I hate. Getting my heart trounced on. Being made the fool over and over again.

“Every day is like survival” – That was my childhood. Finding ways to survive. Finding ways to cope and thrive in a dysfunctional relationship with my mother. What thrills me is that I escaped, relatively unscathed. What frustrates me is that there are people in my life that remind me I haven’t quite learned the lesson.

“Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon,
you come and go, you come and go.” – I’m not a vengeful person but I do hope that karma bites these chameleons in the butt some time. Hoping they learn the lesson they’re supposed to learn.

“Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon,
you come and go, you come and go.
Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams,
red gold and green, red gold and green.” – I will still give people the benefit of the doubt. I will still be fooled. I’m working on noticing it sooner. And I’m trying to find the balance between recognizing the chameleons but maintaining my sunny, optimistic view.  I don’t want to be hardened. I don’t want to be cynical. I am teetering between the two sides, desperately not wanting to fall.

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Filed under How We Roll, Music, People

I Grieve. Or I Am A Rock. Take Your Pick.

 Two weeks ago, my brother-in-law died.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my daughter’s boyfriend’s death.

Today, my aunt died.

It’s been a rough few weeks. To make matters worse, my aunt wasn’t doing well for the past week or so and I had no idea. She lives over 2000 miles away and we kept in touch through emails and holiday cards. My parents knew. But chose not to tell me. (Dysfunction is alive and well in my family.) I already live with the regret of my last visit with my grandmother. And while I feel good about how I maintained my relationship with my aunt, it bothers me in this moment that I didn’t get the chance to talk to her one more time. If I had known she wasn’t doing well, I would have called her. She’s not the type to email me and tell me she’s suffering. And I had no idea.

“I grieve for you
You leave me
Let it out and move on
Missing what’s gone
They say life carries on
They say life carries on and on and on” – The grief in me misses the relatives and friends who have passed. This part of life sucks. Losing people. Good people. People who are loving, kind, fill you with joy. And because I’m getting older I’m in for more loss. How do you reconcile that? How to adjust? We carry on. But with more lonely moments than before.
 
“I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.” – Anger. At my parents for cutting me off like this. Punishing me for not playing by their rules. Anger at the loss I’ve experienced and the more to come. I will get through this. But for now I want to be an island. I want to never cry. I want to feel no pain.
 

Or

Take your pick.

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Filed under family, friends, Music, Relating

What Does Your Facebook Page Say About You?

I have been both fascinated and repulsed by Facebook.

Strong words? Maybe. But let me explain.

I first began a Facebook account because my daughter wanted a MySpace account and I said, NO! I explored Facebook and tried to become adept at it, to stay one step ahead of my teen. Ha! She’s now had her account a year less than I have and she is light-years ahead of me in skill. We call her Tech-Support.

Sure, I connected with many people from my past that have been so nice to touch base with. Yes, it’s been so easy to check in with friends and family who live far away. I kind of like the little sound bites (every now and then) of what my friend is up to: how she’s buried in laundry or he just witnessed his daughter’s first step or letting me know of a great film I should see.

And then, an amazing thing happened to me with Facebook.

A dear, dear friend from high school and swim team popped up. We friended each other. We started catching up. And discovered that we live only 45 minutes away from each other, even though we grew up together 1000 miles away.

Freaky coincidence.

Our friendship is renewed. We crack each other up, just like old times. And marvel over the amazing thing that is Facebook.

I honestly don’t know how we would have found each other without it (or something like it.) Both sets of our parents have since moved away from our hometown. Friends are scattered far and wide. We may have been able to find each other another way, but it wouldn’t have been easy.

Not as easy as the click-type-click that it is on Facebook.

That’s the fascinating part.

What is repulsive is the self-absorbed culture it is turning us into. I don’t care about the minute by minute updates. You think you’re funny? But you are funny only about 10% of the time. In our neighborhood, Facebook has become a popularity contest. It reminds me of high school – the public bragging about vacations and which party you just attended and the great time you had with Biff, Skip and Buffy. 

I now hide certain people (because I don’t have the guts to unfriend them) so I’m not tempted to fall into their trap.  Wondering why I wasn’t invited to the girl’s night out. Or pool party. Wondering why we can’t afford the cruise or trip to Europe or new car. Reading their brag posts, I find myself slipping into a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality that I abhor.

So I hide. I ignore their posts as if they didn’t exist. I stick my head in the sand and create my own little bubble.

And then there’s the trick of people finding you on Facebook when you don’t want to be found. A dark period of my past came up and almost bit me. I ignored the friend request and panicked. How much had he found out about me and my adult life? Did I have all the right privacy settings in place? Why oh why was it so easy for this stalker to find me again?

Tech-Support (dear daughter) assured me that he only saw my name. And then she taught be how to disappear from him and any of the close friends I could remember that he had by blocking him and the rest of his posse.

Close call.

Rogue Pictures

NPR had an interesting review of two up-coming films about Facebook. Catfish (about a Facebook friendship) and The Social Network (about how Facebook got started) They both sound very interesting and I look forward to checking them out. But what interested me more was the way in which Bob Mondello (the NPR reviewer) chose to describe his “like” of the films. It is a clever review that is worth the listen.

And like Bob, I don’t want to say much more than that. But it got me thinking about how our lives have changed forever with social networks and how we now operate. How soundbites and friending and unfriending have become normal, every day behavior that influences how we operate and what we expect. The sense of immediacy it creates. It cultivates impatience and unnecessary worry. Yet it connects us in ways we never imagined it would.

Facebook is here to stay. Fascinating or repulsive, we’re left to use or abuse its abilities. I only hope we become bored with the mundane updates and more sensitive about what we post on our profiles. After all, our Facebook pages are an extension of who we are and how we want to be perceived.

What does your Facebook page say about you?

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Filed under How We Roll, Observations

Mama Don’t You Talk, I Mean Walk So Fast

On my way back from the pool this morning I saw the funniest thing. OK. Not exactly funny-funny — but definitely amusing.

Today is Labor Day. And many people have the day off. The mere fact that I was able to go for a swim, first thing in the morning with my kids at home, says holiday to me. (Dad was watching the kids. Yeah. Babysitting. Why in the world is it called “watching the kids” when dad’s doing it but when mom….oh wait. I digress. This topic is for another post. Where was I? Oh. Right. That amusing thing. Sorry!)

To get the full effect, I need to paint the scene. So. Close your eyes. Oh, wait. No. Don’t close your eyes. Then you won’t be able to read this. Hmmmm. OK. Sit back. Relax. Pretend you’re closing your eyes and picture this…..

A beautiful late summer day. The sun is shining. The sky is clear. The air smells fresh and clean. You’re driving through a picturesque subdivision with front porches (that people actually use) and sidewalks (that people actually use). Very Norman Rockwell, our neighborhood.

And in the distance you see a family. Walking. Mom is a few steps ahead, leading the way. Two little boys, about ages 5 and 8. The older boy is pushing the stroller and the dad is just behind them. You think, how sweet. A family walk. It’s so great that they’re all out exercising together. What a good example they’re providing their children. Ahhh, yes. The family that plays together, stays together.

Here. In case you’re imaginatively-impaired, I found a little visual aid.

Except, picture the big kid pushing the stroller. And remember, they’re in a neighborhood. With houses, not storefronts.  Mom first. Followed by the kids and stroller. Dad, a step behind. On a narrow sidewalk. And they’re wearing different clothes.  Oh, and it’s just some anonymous family because Dave Chappell and his brood? They don’t live near me.

But you get the idea.

As you get closer, you notice three things.

1. The boys have sour looks on their faces. (The baby in the stroller is perfectly content, however.)

2. Mom is talking on her cell phone.

3. Dad is texting.

Which leads you to #4.

4. No wonder the kids have sour looks on their faces.

Sigh.

Norman Rockwell would be rolling over in his grave.

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Filed under family, funny, Observations