Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Starting From Gratitude

I have so much. I know I do. But there are times when I am too blind to see it. Blinded by fear, selfishness and self pity I cannot see what a gift my life is.

A dear friend of mine started doing a gratitude list a while back. She asked if she could e-mail it to me as a way of reminding herself to complete her list daily. I was honored that she chose me and readily accepted.

She challenged me to do the same, to find 12 things each day I was grateful for. I laughed and said thanks but no thanks. Didn't she know how crazy my life was. There were days I was barely holding it together, I couldn't find the time to write a list let alone find 12 things to be grateful for. 12! That's a lot. I could find maybe 3 or 4 but not 12.

Reading her list was a revelation. There were times when I knew she was busy or had had a rough day, but she always found time to be grateful for the gifts she had been given. The more I read her lists, the more I was intrigued to start my own. I had a roof over my head, I had a beautiful family, I had my health. In short I had so much that I damn well better be grateful for it.

So I started to compile my own lists and e-mail them to my friend. They started off slow, I literally had to go through my day from morning to night to find those 12 things. But I began to find a groove, I would make notes throughout the day so I wouldn't forget something. It became a habit.

Then Sunday I woke up and I decided to start my day with gratitude. I didn't look at any situation as something to be tolerated, instead it was a gift. I found myself enjoying the day, enjoying my kids, enjoying my life. I was present in a way I had not been before and it was beautiful.

So today I am grateful for ...

and so much more.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Out With The Old

I sit here alone in the house. The children have gone to grandma's for the day.

I sit here, coffee cup in hand, trying to find the energy to do what I have to do. I sit here staring out at the rain, avoiding.

I sit here preparing to do battle with my house. My house, my mortal enemy, with mice and ants, clutter and brokenness. There is so much to do, pages and pages of lists. I want to be able to check something off the list. Finish a task, finish a room.

Scrub. Organize. Toss away. Donate. No longer holding on to the past, it hasn't served me well.

Attack. Burn. Destroy.

Rebuild. Create anew. Fill with new memories.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


We all have insecurities. Sometimes we can handle them and sometimes we let them control us. I have been dealing with them all of my life.

I'm not good enough.

I'm different, odd, strange.

I have let the fear behind those feelings control what I have done my whole life. There are times when my children do things and it brings those old insecurities back to the forefront.

Monday was the start of summer school. I had signed Bunny up for an art class. I thought she would love it. But I have to admit I was very ambivalent about the whole thing. It was at 10:30 five days a week. That pretty much shot any morning activity for four weeks. No trips to the zoo, no mornings at the pool.

Bunny seemed excited about the class. We drove to the school where it was being held (different than her regular school). I had to go to the office to find out where the room was because they didn't have a listing. While there we ran into one of Bunny's friends. She was excited thinking that A would be in her class but of course she was taking a different class.

When we lined up outside of the room, she started to get apprehensive when she saw all the new kids. Then she saw the teacher and she just lost it. She clung to my leg and started sobbing. She had never done that in K4. I thought it might just be the newness of it all so we went in to class.

I stood with her for a while. I tried to introduce her to some new girls hoping that would help. But I couldn't stay. Lion was about to tear the room apart. I told the teacher we would wait down the hall to see if things got better.

They did not. I could hear her making sounds like a wounded animal, deep painful cries. It seemed as though she was incapable of stopping. I waited 10 minutes and approached the classroom. The teacher saw me and held up a hand. Bunny was approaching the rug for the story. Maybe just maybe she would calm. She did not. It got worse.

The teacher brought her out to me and we left. Bunny could not calm down enough to tell me what was wrong. It took the drive home for her to stop crying enough to form coherent words. When we sat down to talk about it, I could tell she did not want to tell me what was wrong. She was afraid of something.

I assured her that whatever it was, I would not be mad. She finally told me her fear. I was surprised and explain it away. But she persisted. She pointed out concrete examples from her past where she had felt this fear. It explained a lot of strange behavior I had witnessed.

I didn't know what to do. I really didn't care if she went to the class or not but I was concerned about her fear. I didn't want her to not try something because she was afraid. I didn't want her to quit.

I sat and stewed about it for the rest of the day. I remember feeling that fear. I remember how I missed out on so many things because I was afraid to try. I remember how I had not taken chances, not expanded my horizons because I didn't want to leave my comfort zone.

I remember how I did something brave ONCE. I remember how I held on to that one thing. I could rationalize not being brave other times because when I was 22 I did something.

So I worried about Bunny. She had to face her fear. She had to do this because I didn't want her to be 41 years old still holding on to a memory from 19 years ago.

Then I realized that I was projecting all of my insecurities on to her. She is not me. She is her own person. She is only 5. She doesn't need to conquer the world now. She needs to play and have fun. And I need to relax a little bit.

She is not me and I am not her.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Sometimes mommies get cranky. Sometimes mommies aren't all the way awake. Sometimes mommies would rather sit at home than do something fun.

Sometimes I cringe at the suggestion of a trip to the beach. Sometimes all I think about is the mess. The sand will get everywhere. It takes forever to get sand out of Lion's hair.

Sometimes I say no. Sometimes I miss out on the beautiful moments.

Sometimes I don't. Sometimes saying yes is the most important thing. Sometimes letting go is totally worth it.

Sometimes life is perfect.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Lion King Comes Home

The journey started so many months ago with a piece of paper, an envelope and a stamp. That first piece of paper was followed by so many more. Paper ruled my life. It was an emotional roller coaster that I was not sure I would survive.

The paper roller coaster finally ended and a true journey started.

It started with a plane ride. Three plane rides full of anxious joy or joyous anxiety. (You know the kind when you are so excited and terrified that you think you will burst out of your skin or puke.) There is not so much to do on a plane except think. Thinking about what it will be like, how he will be.

I thought and thought about it. In fact it was more of an obsession. I could not wait to see him. It was torture to got to the hotel next to the care center knowing that we would have to wait some more to see him.

When the time finally arrived, all of the families walked to the care center and waited in the main room to meet their children for the first time. They brought the children in one by one. The infants were carried and the toddlers walked. The parents waited with anxious joy until they were able to hold their children.

Lion was brought in towards the end. I could see him walking down the stairs. He was nervous and crying. I do not know what he thought or felt at that moment but he was not happy. When he was placed in my arms for the first time, he cried, screamed and pushed away. He was looking for someone, anyone but me.

It was not the moment I pictured but I was prepared. I did my best to reassure him but he would not be comforted. We were told that he had bonded with one of the nannies. I was relieved. The fact that he had formed an attachment meant that he could transfer the attachment to us.

I was relieved but the next two days of visits to the care center were difficult. While other families were playing with their children, Lion would cry, hit and bite Frink and myself. He was always looking for a nanny to come and save him. We did the best we could, holding and rocking him. "Ishi, ishi, ishi" I repeated those words over and over. "It's ok. It's ok. It's ok." At times I was repeating it more to myself than him.

Finally on June 15, 2010 (after a visit to the region where he was born and a visit with his birth father - a story I will not tell here but keep for him) we took custody of our little Lion. This is the day I choose to celebrate as our family day. This is the day we became a family with Lion.

Walking out of the doors of the care center and back to our hotel caused a shift in our relationship. It was as if he saw us for the first time. He looked at us in this new environment and thought "okay it's them". He did not fight us. He did not look for someone else. He did not cry. Instead, he began to relax. He began to allow us in.

It was that time, spent in a hotel room 7900 miles from home, that our family bond began. The journey that began with a piece of paper ended with a little boy sleeping in our arms.

We were his. He was ours. We were a familly.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Moving Way Too Fast

June 9, 2011. It was a Thursday. It was kinda cold and yucky like much of our spring has been this year. It was a day like any other day.

Except it wasn't.

Thursday June 9, 2011 was Bunny's last day of Junior Kindergarten.

(Pause for dramatic effect)

I know! Seriously, where has the time gone?

In the fall, Bunny will be attending school ALL DAY.

I can't really wrap my head around it. She is my first, my baby girl. But she's not a baby any more. She is 5. She is a kid. She can ride a bike. She can do the monkey bars (all the way across now).

Junior kindergarten was amazing for her. She gained confidence. She made friends. She learned so much. She became a part of the world outside of this family. She started down the road that will bring her to the adult she was meant to be.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I struggle through. 10. 11. 12.  Then again. Sometimes it seems too much. It's too heavy. But I do it again because it's what I need to do. 

My feet hit the ground in rapid succession. Over and over. Just a few minutes more and then I can stop. It's too far, too many hills. But I don't stop, I continue on. It's what I need to do. 

I lean forward just a bit further. I feel the release. I push again, then hold. My body rejoices at the feeling.  My body is growing stronger day by day.  It needs the relief, it needs the rest. 

I hold it in my hands. I stare at the words, so foreign yet so familiar. I turn the page looking for clues, for answers to questions not yet asked. 

I sit in a circle, my ears drinking in the sounds. Stories so different yet the same. Hope is offered. Wisdom is given. 

I speak. My tongue forming my truth. I pause, afraid. But no rejection comes. I am embraced with nods and smiles. They hear me. They see me. 

I sit alone breathing. Quiet fills me. I stay. I focus. My mind rejoices at the stillness. My spirit is filled.  My mind and spirit are growing stronger day by day. I need the relief, the rest, the connection.  

Thursday, June 2, 2011


It has become a tradition in our family to take a trip to Door County, WI every Memorial Day. It originally started as an anniversary trip for Frink and I but we have continued it with our children. I love the idea of having our spot, our trip, something special just for our family. I want the kids to say "do you remember the time Bunny got two holes in one at mini-golf?" or "how about the time Lion tried to ride a goat."

In the four years we have been going with Bunny, the tradition has become so ingrained that we do the same things. Every year, the same thing:

Friday - fish fry at Sister Bay Bowl and swimming
Saturday - the Mai Fest parade in Jacksonport and lunch at PC Junction then swimming
Sunday - brunch in Rowley's Bay, biking in Peninsula St. Park and shopping in Fish Creek (with a stop at the candy and fudge stores)
Monday - a trip to The Farm (a petting zoo/ farm museum) and the ride home

Every year, the same thing.

But this year was different, sort of. This year we had the Lion cub with us. It also rained on Saturday morning so the parade was out. Instead we went to a hands on art studio (called, ironically enough Hands On Art Studio). You could make mosaics, paint your own pottery, fuse glass, or play in the metal and jewelry studios. Bunny and I were in heaven. We chose to paint (a plate for me and a unicorn for Bunny). But what is good for an artistically minded 5 year old and her mom, is not necessarily good for a very excitable 2 year old. Let's just say paint got everywhere.

Luckily for Lion, the day was redeemed by a trip to PC Junction for lunch. I think his little brain exploded after we were seated and he saw a train running around the bar. A train that brought your food to you. "Choo choo! Choo choo food! Choo choo food!" over and over again. To say he loved it would be an understatement. He had to be forcibly removed, screaming "No bye bye. Lion choo choo. No choo choo bye bye. Choo choo food!!!!!!!" He still talks about choo choo food today.

The last change to our routine involved us scrapping the bike ride. Neither Frink or I had the desire to pull two kids in a trailer. And I am fairly certain they would have killed eachother. Instead we drove into the park and played at the beach. The day was warm so the kids ran in and out of the water (which was insanely cold). We also built a castle fortress with a working moat. Awesome.

Here is a glimpse at some of the beautiful memories we created.