Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pizza Saves Lives

This is a really cool story! Gatlinburg, TN. Pizza delivery guy agrees to go well outside of the normal range for a delivery- 30 miles to a remote cabin. As the guy is getting paid, he sees into the cabin over the orderer's shoulder. Nothing but the back of a couch, basically. Suddenly, a woman pops up, holds up her bound wrists, and mouths for him to call 911. The delivery guy remains calm, leaves, and drives to the next house he can find and calls the police. Turns out, this woman was kidnapped in the Atlanta area. And the captor had planned to kill her when he was "done" with her. She'd already been raped, kidnapped... The pizza guy... choosing to go outside of the delivery area... remaining calm... taking her seriously... saved her life. That's some good news!!

An Unexpected Gift

Yesterday, Christy's evening plans got cancelled and she had nothing to do. This would normally free her up for an evening with me but I had to decline because I really needed an evening with my husband. He's on his own for part of Weds and Thurs evenings due to my church commitments these days so it's important that Fridays be "about us." At work, Christy walked into my office and asked if she could babysit my kids. So Jeff and I could go out. Like, on a date. We all went out to dinner (local Greek market/restaurant that has amazing food with huge portions). Came home and got Zach to bed and headed out. Teagan was excited for her time with just Aunt Christy. We left the house and... had no clue what to do with ourselves. We didn't really date back when we were dating. We didn't have a first date. We'd become friends. We were just hanging out all the time- his place, my place, the movies, dinner. Sometimes with other people, sometimes just us. And then... something happened. We realized we were more than just friends. That there was something deeper developing. But we just kept on hanging out... never anything official aside from adding in some kissing and making out and stuff. So what were we to do with ourselves?? First, 2 games of bowling. I actually won the first game!

However, they did that whole lights out, fun music, funky light shows, disco ball, black lights bowling at the start of our second game- so I lost. It was all the fault of those lights. Really. It was.

Next we headed next door to hit some balls into holes- a round of putt putt!
Towards the end of the game, I noticed that there was a pretty sunset- but most of it was hidden by clouds. However, some of the clouds were reflecting the setting sun and it was so pretty!
And in case you couldn't tell, we laughed a lot on our night out!
Muchos gracias to Aunt Christy!! The kids had a great time with her and we had a great time without them!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

It's not over completely. But we just need a few months to figure things out. There's this new development between us and I'm not sure I can work with it. I think it's too complicated for the kids. And, honestly, I just don't think I can deal with it right now. It will be a rough few months. But it's what we need to do. We are breaking up- but it is temporary. It's fully my intention that we be back together and better than ever this fall. We just need a few months apart while you work through this new... development... in your life. Let's set a goal. Zach's birthday comes at the end of October. I think we can sort it out by then. You can get this... thing... out of your system. And maybe things will settle down before then. Maybe we can sort through this within a couple of months. Because I really don't think I can deal with the excess crowds that the King Tut exhibit is going to bring to our precious Children's Museum. Our membership expires this weekend and I just can't see renewing it right away. From what I hear, this exhibit is a Huge Deal. The museum has even built a new wing to house this exhibit. As a member, I would still have to pay additional money to get into this exhibit. And not just a few bucks. $15 for each adult, $8 for each child. And the exhibit is recommended for age 8 and up. Zach and Teagan have zero interest in King Tut, I can tell you that!! So bigger crowds, harder time finding parking, paying extra, exhibit isn't really our-kid-friendly anyway. The exhibit goes through October. Zach's birthday is Oct 23 so a new membership to the museum seems like an ideal birthday gift, yes? At the very least, I'll wait and get a new membership at the end of June, once the excitement has died down. Or get a membership for MY birthday in August... We don't need the Museum so much over the summer since we tend to hit parks and such. Plus, we plan to get a membership to Connor Prairie. So... goodbye Children's Museum. It's not forever. It's temporary. You haven't done anything wrong. But it really seems like you need some time to sort out some things. We'll be back together soon enough...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Positive Anger Explosion

Almost through the book!! If you want to catch up... I'm doing a parenting audit, of sorts. I'm whipping my disciplinary butt back into shape. It started here. And here are links to the various posts that I've done as I re-read through the book again (for the third time). The book I'm reading is The Only Three Discipline Strategies You Will Ever Need. *** The Positive Anger Explosion Kids do things and we will feel angry. It happens. How we react, how we handle it is the important thing. Pushing down the anger, the irritation doesn't work in the long run. It generally results in an emotional explosion leaving you feeling out of control. But if you have a tool that allows you to express your anger, irritability, annoyance... you can express yourself, handle the situation, and your child learns from it, too. Win-win-win! Step 1- The Anger Delivery Statement Describe the situation. Describe how you are feeling. Describe the desired outcome. For an easy type situation, it might sound something like this: "Teagan, I found your wet towel on my bed. It's still there. I'm feeling angry. Your towel belongs on the hook in your bedroom." Describe the situation. Keep it simple, descriptive. Not accusatory, not character bashing. Nothing is said about the child, only about the situation. Just the fact, ma'am. Describe how you are feeling. Again, keep it simple. "I statements." Not "you are making me feel." Also important are using descriptive feeling words. This sets an example for your kids, too. Helps them build their own feeling vocabulary so they aren't just stuck in the "I'm fine" routine. Words like... irritated, angry, discouraged, impatient, annoyed. Describe the desired outcome. It isn't a directive, it isn't an order. Not "Go hang up your towel." Instead, describe what needs to happen. What if they don't do it? That's the age old question, isn't it? What if it feels like the only way to get through to your child is to yell, threaten, take away privileges? The authors give a checklist. Does it work? Is it respectful? Does it help you become the parent you want to be? What are you teaching? I can say for certain that when I yell, lose my temper, get snappy and snippy... I am not being respectful, I am not being the parent I want to be, and I don't like what I am teaching. So it may "work" in as much as it gets the kids to do what I want them to do. But 1 "yes" out of 4 questions is a failing grade in my book. If you use the Positive Anger Explosion and your child still doesn't do what is needed... go back to the other 2 strategies! You've described the situation, you've stated your feelings, and you've stated the desired outcome. A reasonable amount of time later, it still isn't done. Instead of giving up on our strategies, go back to the first 2. Try the One Minute Behavior Modifier. Or the Dynamic Discipline Equation. You've "exploded your anger positively" and now you have the opportunity to move past the emotion and dig into the fix. The final chapter in the book is "Putting It All Together." How do you know which strategy to use and when? Do you start with one and move to another? They are all important and they can be used interchangeably at any time. Sometimes, your Positive Anger Explosion will lead to the other strategies. Sometimes you start with the One Minute Modifier and go on to the Discipline Equation. To wrap up all of this discussion, I'd like to share the final paragraph from the book. No one does perfect parenting. No one gets perfect parenting. What all children deserve most is a parent who works at improving his or her attitude and actions in regard to the important responsibility of being a parent. Use this book to refine your skills. Practice. Improve. And continue to grow along with your children. They're worth it and so are you! *** The Giveaway!!! Flartus, Mrs4444, Lisa, Tom, Mary Ellen, Jackie, Heather, Amy, C. Beth, and Kristi All 10 of you win!! Provided you sincerely want a copy of this book, I'm more than delighted to share this. So please leave a comment or drop me an e-mail (gentlemomlc (a) gmail). If you send me your name and addy, I will send a book your way!!

Do The Right Thing

I had something happen last night... and I thought of my blogging friend Lisa. She has 2 blogs. One is about her "everyday" adventures in motherhood as a mother to 6 kids (including a set of twins and a baby with Down syndrome). One is dedicated to her son Finnian. He has Down syndrome.

Lisa has written on the subject of language a few times. Specifically, how it feels for her, for her kids... when someone glibly uses the word "retard." Like this post. And this one. And this one.

Let me start by saying that it isn't a word I use... but I have to admit that it has probably slipped into my vernacular from time to time.

Last night, we had our weekly dinner at church. As we lined up to head through the food line, I hear 3 teenage boys in front of me.

"Huh-huh. Look at the plate. It looks like a happy retard face. Huh-huh."

"Yeah. Retard. *snort*"

"Yeah. Happy retard. Heheheheh."

I'm not happy. I don't like the language.

But hello!!! Duh! This is my church and we are all about community and raising each other in Christ and all that jazz.

I take a step forward, look at each boy, and say "Please stop using that word. It is offensive to a lot of people. You might find it funny- but it really isn't. Please stop."

The 2 older boys stop. They look down, appearing a little embarrassed. The younger teen, who is somewhat known for being obnoxious, I think, and who seems to think he will impress the older boys... looks at me and says "What word? RETARD?"

Little shit. I oughta...

But I figure a teen boy is like a dog. When they snap at you, they are expecting you to back down. So that they then assert themselves in a pack leader role.

I don't fall for it with dogs. I'm not falling for it with this boy. Afterall, I know his mother is here!

So I keep eye contact, never flinch, never blink. I lean forward and say "Yep." I lean in further, grit my teeth (because I'm the alpha female, thank you) and say "That's the word."

He backs down- stops laughing, breaks eye contact, looks at his feet.

Alpha female wins.

Anyway- my point is that I stood up for what was right. Even if it would have been easier to ignore them, easier to act like I didn't hear them. After the fact, I realized that I'd done this in front of my kids. This was a good lesson for Teagan. She maybe didn't understand everything that was going on. She maybe wasn't following what Mommy was doing... but no matter... she saw Mommy choose the right thing vs the easy thing.

Do the right thing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Sun'll Come Out...

In a few weeks, I am very very very very very very very excited to take Teagan to see a local professional production of ANNIE!!! There is a dinner theatre here- Beef and Boards- and they just opened Annie this past weekend. Annie is a show that has been with me since my own childhood. I have to admit that I've never seen a stage production that I can recall. But I've seen the movie countless times. Prior to seeing the movie, I had the soundtrack. I would dance around my bedroom, singing along, coming up with full production numbers... all starring ME. I can't say I dreamed of being Annie... but I did dream of being Grace or being one of the orphans or being Miss Hannigan. I still know every word of every song, I bet. Time to get the soundtrack... I just know Teagan is going to fall in love with it. And I would love to have the soundtrack in the car to listen to as soon as we leave the theatre. So in the next few weeks... there will be a post about it... about the food, about the show, about the experience. Passing on a legacy is so much fun!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Brief Mention of Sadness and Anger

The CA Supreme Court is upholding Prop 8. The bad news... the possibility of ever having a choice in marriage has grown dimmer. The good news... the 18,000 people who married into same sex unions from June to November of 2008 will have their legal status as married people upheld. Personally, my hope is that change and growth will happen in the next election season.

The Most Powerful Word

A lot of words have power. Love, hate, friend, enemy. Marriage, parenthood, divorce, death. War, fight, peace, joy. I think different words hold power in different ways for different people. My power word is Choice. If you read yesterday's discipline post, you know already that choice plays a big part in that discipline strategy. Choice holds a lot of power in the way I discipline my kids. I believe in controlled choices- giving 2 options from which to choose, either choice being perfectly suitable. "Would you like to wear your pink shirt or your purple shirt?" vs "What shirt do you want to wear?" "Would you like your eggs scrambled or fried?" vs "What do you want for breakfast?" Of course, Teagan is finding ways around these controlled choices. And I have to admire her honesty and creativity. And she is willing to accept that there are only 2 options to choose from- but it never hurts to negotiate, right? At church on Sunday, I sang with the music team for the very first time. There were only 2 of us leading the congregation in early service and 3 of us for second service. So while I wasn't necessary- I was a nice addition to the very small numbers participating in music team on a holiday weekend. Teagan opted to stand with me at the opening of first service. Then she was off to Sunday School, I had to rehearse, and Jeff and Zach stayed in church. First service ends and Jeff is going to take the kids home while I stay and sing for second service. So Teagan has a choice. "Teagan, you can stay for second service with Mommy OR you can go home with Zach and Daddy." "Maybe... Zappy and Daddy can stay and I can stay and we can all be together?" *melt my heart* Unfortunately, Zach was on his last bit of awakeness and desperately needed to get home to bed. Teagan made her choice to go home (and watch a movie)... and cried on her way out. Tears of true sadness, not manipulation. She had made the choice she wanted out of her options but that didn't mean the outcome was what she wanted. But she managed. She dealt with it. And it was all fine in the long run. But choice holds a lot of power beyond parenting. I look at my everyday life and see so many places where I get to choose, decide and pick. I choose to get out of bed each day. I choose to go to work. I choose how I respond to my kids. I choose to love my husband in words and actions. I choose how I respond to people around me. I can decide to live my life focused on my past. Or I can choose to appreciate the blessings surrounding me right now. I can choose to work through difficult times with Jeff. Or I can decide to let things fester and rot until there is no recovery. Are there consequences to my choices? Of course. If I choose to not go to work... I will eventually get fired, I could face bad annual reviews, I could fall behind on my workload. If I choose loving actions towards my husband, I choose to do my part to strengthen our relationship, to honor and respect him and our family. If I decide that nagging at him is my best course of action, I have to be willing to accept the consequences of how that will impact him, our family, us. Focus on right now. Focus on today. All I have is this moment. All I can choose is what is right in front of me. What's done is done. What's past is past. I can't know what the future holds. So I choose to see the right now. Choice. My power word. My mantra. What's yours?

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Dynamic Discipline Equation

After the nice distracting weekend, it is time to get back to it... Discipline! Opportunity equals responsibility. Choose, decide, pick. There are 4 steps in the Equation. 1. Explain the opportunity the child has and the responsibility that goes along with it before you implement any consequences. "You have the opportunity to _____. It is your responsibility to ____. If you choose ____, then you are choosing ____." By explaining the opportunity and the responsibility clearly, you give the child control over the outcome. You give them responsibility for their choices. 2. Allow the child to choose the behavior and thus the outcome which follows. You break it down into choices. If you choose this behavior, this is what you choose to have happen. If you choose this other behavior, you choose this other outcome. 3. Follow through immediately by altering the opportunity. Give no second chance. The chosen behavior is the chosen outcome. Period. 4. Do give other opportunities to handle the responsibility later. If you want them to learn to make good choices, you have to give them chances to practice and have the chance to choose. So after the consequence of a chosen behavior, once the moment has passed... the child should be able to go back to the situation again. A really great example is given in the text of the equation in action. A dad and a teenage daughter- she wants to use the car. She asks to use the car. He tells her that she can- and goes on to explain that "You have the opportunity to use the car tonight and any weekend night that I'm not using it. You also have the responsibility to return it with half a tank of gas or more." He goes on to explain that opportunity equals responsibility. If she chooses to return the car with gas in the tank, she is choosing to use the car again the next night. If she chooses to not fulfill her responsibility, she is choosing not to use the car the next night. The next morning, dad runs an errand and the tank is below half. Of course. He tells his daughter... "I see you have chosen not to use the car tonight." She questions him and he explains, again, the opportunity equals responsibility that he'd explained the night before. She gives excuses- she was running late and stopping for gas would have meant breaking curfew. Does he want her home on time or does he want gas in the car? His answer? Both! She then proceeds to beg and bargain, trying to get dad to give her the car for that night. He stands firm, but not angry. The answer is simply no. She stomps away- and he leaves her be. Instead of getting hooked into an angry argument, he goes about his business. In addition to upholding the Equation, dad also didn't demean his daughter or make her feel stupid, lazy, forgetful, etc. The next weekend, she asked again for the car. He gave the same answer- fill the tank before returning the car. If she puts gas in the car, she has learned about responsibility. If she again chooses not to put gas in the car, she learns about consequences from her actions. The chapter continues on the subject of consequences. There are 3 R's- Relate (the consequence must relate to the behavior), Reasonable (design reasonable consequences), and Respectful (deliver consequences in a respectful manner). In addition, there is a huge focus on the "cause and effect connectors." Words like choose, choice, pick, decide. "If you choose to pour water on the floor, you are choosing to be done with sink playtime." "When you choose not to pick up your toys, you are deciding to have them put up for the rest of the day." You should feel, at the end of the day, that all you've done is say choose/decide/pick all day long. Overuse it! Abuse it! The conclusion of the chapter focuses on your attitude. The parent's attitude sets the tone and determines if the Equation will succeed or fail. A main tenet of this attitude needs to be that we don't care about what the child chooses. WHAT? Don't care? How can I not care? It's an attitude adjustment. It's accepting that no matter what the child chooses, what they choose is right. They learn from whatever choice they make. The choice they make reflects on them, not on us. Of course, there are times when we will absolutely feel angry. And it is important that kids know when we are angry or frustrated. But our own anger can serve as an example, a teaching tool by modeling, of how to handle anger. Next chapter... The Positive Anger Explosion. Tune in tomorrow for more! Based on the comments last week... it seems those interested in possibly winning a free copy of the book are Flartus, Mrs4444, Lisa, Tom, Mary Ellen, Jackie, Heather, Amy, C. Beth, and Kristi. Keep chatting, keep commenting... sometime in the next week or so, I'll announce a big old win for someone!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Hair

One of the things that Jeff does for me that I love is to brush my hair. I often can't get the tangles out because of the length and, because my hair is really thick, the tangles are usually really bad.
When I sit down, my hair gets stuck behind my back.
When I bend my head forward to play with my kids or read a book or cook... my hair gets in the way.
Yesterday, I saved Zach from choking on random Mommy hairs 4 times.
I get headaches from the length and weight.
Today, we dug this out of the roller of the vacuum. (Lens cap shown for size perspective)
My hair is long. I'm trying to grow it out for Locks of Love. It's really challenging sometimes to keep growing it and growing it and growing it. There are some thing about it that are great- easy to pull back (but the length is long enough that it is kinda difficult to whip it into a ponytail).
And this is the solution.
Happy summer!!! 4 ponytails of 10 inches each hair... donated to Locks of Love. And I get rid of headaches, hot hair, hair everywhere, hair in the way...
I ran out and did this on a whim while the kids were napping. I wonder if they will recognize the old mama with my hair all cut off??

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Zoo- In Pictures

Warning- picture overload ahead!!! I have no idea how to get rid of the blank pics at the end of the second slideshow... sorry... But it was a great day so I don't really care!!! Enjoy!!
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Zoo May 09 1
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Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Zoo May 09 & Flowers
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Friday = Fun!

No big post on Discipline right now. Might get to it tonight. But I was given the gift of having today off of work... which was a bit of a miracle, really. A blessing. We have an unofficial policy in my department. Amongst our management types, no more than 3 people off at a time. Now that doesn't apply to our admins- we have 2 and they have to work out their days off with each other. Same for our Specialists. Then we have a small division in the managers. So these 2 guys work out off days with each other. Then there is my boss and her 4 management reports (this is where I fall in). So I put in for today off because daycare is closed. We didn't ask my mom to come because she's been traveling a ton lately, was just here, majorly helped us out last week... and her own kids and husband need her, too. Checked with Jeff's mom but she has some health issues and didn't feel confident keeping both kids all day. So I put in for the day off. But 3 already had it. My boss and 2 managers. My boss worked it with her boss so I could take it off anyway. But then I found out that the one manager that was going to be there... was scheduled to not be there for medical reasons. And my boss just didn't realize it when she was working things out on the vacation end. So I went to cancel my day and Jeff would have to work it out on his end. I went to my boss's boss to let him know I would be in the next day, even though he'd granted permission for me to be off. He told me to take the day off. He said he'd cover the department. He insisted. Said he was perfectly happy to tell people to just wait until Tuesday when everyone was back. So I took my blessing and decided to run with it. Another really important part of parenting is having fun! So we spent a fun (and exhausting) day at the Zoo!! I'll get around to pics and such later (Garret, Flartus... I took oodles of flower pics... Teagan was scouting out pretty flowers for me to snap)... for now, I'm going to put my feet up and enjoy the quiet as my kids cuddle on the couch and watch TV.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The One Minute Behavior Modifier

Today, I'm reading Chapter 1 of The Only Three Discipline Strategies You Will Ever Need. This week, I am getting back in touch with the parent I intend to be. I wrote about it here (and there is info about a giveaway- don't miss it). Yesterday, I read through the introduction and started with my basic principles on discipline vs punishment. The One-Minute Behavior Modifier is an immediate reaction plan when an undesired behavior occurs. The first step is planning. You have to know how you are going to handle it when it happens! Step 1 Choose a behavior Step 2 Give the behavior a name Step 3 Determine the reason why the behavior you want to eliminate is inappropriate Step 4 Determine a behavior that is appropriate to replace the undesirable one Step 5 Prepare a verbal statement to use when the undesirable behavior occurs First planning step is easy. Choose a behavior. Whining, teasing, hitting, crying, lying, etc. Second step is to name it. If you can name it, you can tame it. You need to make certain that the words you choose demonstrate the exact behavior and not a general inference. For example, "back talk" is specific but "being rude" carries a lot of inference. The book has a short list of inferences vs behaviors as examples. The inferences basically sound like name calling- rude, selfish, mean, etc. In fact, the book says that using these inferences are judgments- they infer something about the character of the person based on the behavior rather than calling out the specific behavior. The behaviors are specific to what the child is choosing to do- use put downs, grabbing handfuls of snack, hitting. Step 3- You need to have a reason why the behavior is unacceptable. Use of the word "because" provides influence as the child understands the purpose for your correction. And since you are telling them why this specific behavior is inappropriate, you should also give an alternate behavior that is ok (step 4). I think of when Teagan used her first cuss word. I explained that the words she had chosen could be hurtful to some people and we came up with ok words to use when frustrated (Blast it- and she corrects us to this day if we don't use Blast it when we are frustrated... even if we don't cuss or anything... she insists on us saying blast it.). The main idea here is that we want to do more than stop the inappropriate behavior. We want to teach them what is acceptable. Step 5 is the longest in the planning stage. Preparing that verbal response statement. I can tell you from experience- it works. I've used it on different kids of different ages and it really does work. First, name the child and the behavior. "Teagan, that's having a meltdown." The only thing this statement does is identify the behavior. There is no instruction or judgement. The next piece of identifying the behavior is a specific sentence. Choose one or the other but don't use both at the same time. "We don't do that in this family" or "That doesn't work with me." So my modifier, so far, would sound like this... "Teagan, that's having a meltdown. That doesn't work with me..." Next comes that reason you worked on earlier! That doesn't work with me because... I have to admit that this is often the hardest part for me. Seems like it should be easy. But it is a challenge for me to not just fall into the "Because I said so... Because it's making me angry... Because you sound stupid..." line of thinking. Which is why the whole idea of planning is important- so I have my script ready. "Teagan, that's having a meltdown. That doesn't work with me because I can't understand what you need from me to help you." Next step... teach a new behavior. It's only fair that Teagan be told what would help me help her. What would get my attention in a positive way. What might possibly get her what she wants. "Teagan, that's having a meltdown. That doesn't work with me because I can't understand what you need from me to help you. What does work is to take a deep breath and use your words so I can understand you." The book provides a short form so you can even write out the behaviors you want to specifically address. The behaviors I want to change with Teagan include whining, pouting, meltdowns (crumpling to the floor and sobbing, weeping, etc), teasing. Name the child and behavior: Teagan, that is (whining, pouting, teasing). Statement one or two: Whining- That doesn't work with me. Pouting- that doesn't work with me. Teasing- We don't do that in this family. Because/reason: Whining- because I can't understand what you are asking for. Pouting- because I can't read your mind and know what you want. Teasing- because it hurts the other person's feelings. New behavior: Whining- Please use a normal voice. Pouting- Use your words. Teasing- Let's find a way that you and Zach can play together. After planning comes Implementation. 1. Become a first-time responder. You have to intervene and use the behavior modifier is it is going to work. If you let the behavior go... it becomes confusing as to when it is ok and when it isn't ok. This is where consistency is important. My kids deserve to know that there will be a response every time they choose a behavior. The good news is that this technique is designed to be easily used in any situation- church, home, outside, the grocery store, at a funeral, at the park, etc. 2. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Part of what makes this work is he learning process for the child. They are learning the name of this behavior you don't like. And they are learning what a better behavior choice would be. So you have to be right there, giving them that information as many times as they need it until it sinks in. 3. Act as if each time is the first time. You can't go back and change the past so why keep bringing it up? "I've told you three time!" "How many times do I have to tell you?" Those statements keep a focus on past behavior rather than on the right now behavior. The book goes on to give a lot of hands on examples- a variety of behaviors and ages and responses and situations. Do some planning. Test it out. See how it feels. And here's something else I think about. I am sometimes challenged to find the right words to explain why a behavior is unacceptable. I am sometimes challenged to find the words to describe what behavior I want to see instead. If it is difficult for me, with my age, wisdom, and experience, to find simple words for what is going on... imagine how difficult it is for the child who is in the throes of the emotions of the situation and is grasping for responses. The planning I do to prepare my statements... leads to statements, instructions, that my kids can use to plan their own response to things when they are faced with it again. Let's plan together, let's implement together, and let's share the results!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Three Strategies

Discipline. First, I want to clarify things a little bit. I believe in the power of language. So I'm going to look at definitions of a few words first. Punishment a penalty inflicted for an offense, fault, etc.; severe handling or treatment. Discipline to train by instruction and exercise Strategy a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result Solution the act of solving a problem, question, etc. I think there is a desire to go for punishment and solutions because those sound more final, more conclusive. Solving a problem. Penalty for offense. But I think parenting is more effective when I use discipline strategies. Training by instruction and exercise. Having a plan in order to obtain a specific goal. Guiding, teaching, by specifically chosen methods. That is what I strive for as a parent. And where I find myself right now is not having a plan, not following a plan, being reactive rather than proactive. Responding to things as they come rather than being engaged. Step one of getting back to where I need to be is to reconnect with the strategies that I have known to be effective for my kids as well as for my family, my home, and for me. Which is why I chose the book that I did. Side note- The great thing about this book (and the other books written by Moorman/Haller) is that they are applicable to almost any age. You can really start in with these strategies around age 3, depending on the child, and I think they are also set up to be very effective with teens, too. I'm going to start with the Introduction. The Introduction gives a lot of examples of the behaviors that we, as parents, see and want to change. Whining, lying, pouting, fighting, not following curfew, not returning borrowed items, etc. And also talks about generally followed courses of managing these problems. Some parents give quiet explanations. Others use behavior management charts colorfully decorated with stars and stickers. Some offer rewards, praise or eloquent lectures. Other strategies include yelling, spanking, bribing, threatening, pouting, giving children the silent treatment, dispensing guilt, shaming, ordering, criticizing, and nagging. Some punish children into submission with an escalating series of consequences. I bolded the 3 that I am most "guilty" of. And I know they don't work. Here's what the authors have to say about these methods. None of these strategies are effective. They all create tension, resistance, and distance. None are respectful or loving. They are all manipulative and controlling. They foster temporary obedience to an outside authority, not the development of an internal guidance system that can be used for personal direction. They train kids to mind, not to develop self-discipline, self-reliance, or self-motivation. These parenting strategies do children's thinking for them rather than teach children to think for themselves. They do not help children create a strong sense of personal power. The power of having these 3 strategies that the book will delve into is that they apply in any situation. On vacation, in the grocery store, at home, church, or wherever. The authors compare it to the 3 primary colors. All other colors are built from red, blue, and yellow. These 3 strategies are the primary colors of discipline. When you watch Super Nanny, for example, each episode is packed with various techniques for all kinds of problems. Different naughty spots, bedtime routines, self care routines. It can be hard to know what to pick, what works when, and to remember all the rules of the various techniques. These 3 strategies from Moorman/Haller are a solid foundation and they can link together, build from one another. You keep these 3 with you- easy to remember, easy to apply, easy to build. Just reading the introduction has me energized. Remembering why this is so important to me. Why I am so invested in being the "best" mom. I can do this and I can do this really, really well. The Introduction concludes by giving a brief synopsis of what each of the chapters will cover. Chapter One, "The One-Minute Behavior Modifier," will help you learn a technique for eliminating negative behaviors. In Chapter Two, "The Dynamic Discipline Equation," you will learn how to hold your children accountable for their actions and behaviors with love and consistency. Chapter Three, "The Positive Anger Explosion," describes techniques that will allow you to communicate annoyance, irritation, and frustration in a way that lets your child know that you are clearly angry, yet refrains from attacking character or wounding the spirit. Chapter Four, "Putting It All Together," will show you how the only three discipline strategies you will ever need are connected and interrelated. Is this ringing true with anyone else? Are you finding yourself nodding in agreement? And to be clear... I will never be perfect and I absolutely know that. Even if my every wish were granted, life would still be challenging. I'm not trying to be better than anyone else or set myself as any kind of standard. I just know that my kids deserve my best. And I know there are other parents out there who feel the same way. So when I share about my struggles and my efforts to improve... it's selfish to the point that I'm doing it for my family but it's broadcast because my journey might help someone else.

Don't forget to leave comments, links to your own posts about this process and contest...

Birthday Glee

I'll get to a more serious parenting post soon. First... Happy Birthday to Aunt Christy!! OK- her birthday was really yesterday. But a friend/co-worker of ours (Latifa) has her birthday today (crazy, right?) so we are heading out for a nice lunch today. Teagan made Christy a gingersnap bread that we enjoyed yesterday. But don't feel like Christy didn't get to enjoy her birthday... her family enjoyed a nice dinner with her at a local restaurant, enjoying live music by one of their favorite local musicians. This weekend she is heading out of town with a longtime best friend who is coming in from CA. Next weekend, her family is having a cookout to celebrate her birthday (the family and I will be in attendance). And the weekend after will be a party for her at a Gaucho style restaurant (I'm putting that together). So Happy Birthday to Aunt Christy! Second... Glee was on last night and it did NOT disappoint!! I loved it and am totally hooked. I hate that I have to wait until the fall for the series! I loved the characters, the writing, the premise. You can watch it on Hulu if you missed it last night!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Discipline is something I struggle with but also feel I'm really good at.
I believe that parenting is the single most important job I will ever have in my life. Yes, I do put that kind of pressure on myself. Our children are a gift, a blessing, truly precious. I know I'm going to screw them up... but I want to screw them up as little as possible.
I like to read books. Parenting books. I don't follow any one particular method or book. I've read many and agree with some and disagree with others. I think you have to find what suits your style, your child's needs, and fits in with the overall feel of your home and your family.
The books I always recommend are The Discipline Book by Dr Sears, The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Dr Harvey Karp, The No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, and most any of the books written by Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman.
Haller and Moorman have started a movement called Uncommon Parenting.
There are lots of "types" parenting... mainstream, classic, attachment, gentle, purposeful, etc.
I don't think you need a label for your parenting style. But again... this is the most important job I will ever have in my life. The way I raise my children, the way I treat my children, the things I expose them to, the type of home they are raised in... has major impact on who they become.
So I read and learn and seek ideas and input. I try to be as involved as I can in parenting.
And I struggle.
Lately, it seems I struggle a lot. I feel like I don't have any patience when I come home in the evenings. Trying to get dinner ready, calm my crabby, hungry children, give attention to my husband, seeing the piled up dishes in the sink, the piles of laundry that need to be put away, the toys strewn around the living room... it quickly becomes too much. I sometimes feel like I just want to shut down. If I had my druthers, we wouldn't need food or a nice yard or a clean house and I could just come home and play and read and sing. Or we could afford to pay someone to come and handle all the responsibilities for us. But that would also go against the way I intend to raise my kids- personal responsibility and all that.
I've been too easily overwhelmed lately. Too quick to snap. Too quick to lessen my children because I'm the one having a problem.
And when I feel this way... it's often the ideal time to turn to my books. Reconnect with my ideals, my purpose.
So I'm cracking open my copy of The Only Three Discipline Strategies You Will Ever Need by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller. And my copy of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose (same authors). And even going back and rereading some of the early days from The Love Dare.
I want to feel like myself again. I want to feel plugged in with Jeff, connected to my kids. My home isn't unhappy... but I feel like not taking action now will take us there.
I know that part of it is that my kids are changing, their needs are changing. The energy level is higher, the needs are higher, the demands are higher. I have to adjust to it. I have to meet them where they are rather than expecting them to meet me where I want to be.
I know many of my readers have grown children- and I seek your wisdom and advice. Chime in with your thoughts on those adjustments, those changes, and connectivity.
Many of my readers are parents of young children- and I invite you to share your own struggles and your own ways of reconnecting, getting energized again.
And a giveaway...
I'd like to send someone a copy of The Only Three Discipline Strategies You Will Ever Need. Keep it for yourself, give it to someone else.

The rules...

For the next few days, I'm going to immerse the blog in parenting. I'm going to review and cover my rereads of the 2 Moorman/Haller books. Starting today, every comment you leave that is relevant to the subject matter will count as an entry. If you blog about what I'm doing and share the link here, another entry. No limit on entries- but comments have to be relevant or share links to relevant posts. So spread the word, make suggestions, journey with me. Or don't. I'm gonna do this anyway. I'm just stubborn like that.

Monday, May 18, 2009


My mom enjoys gardening and has been given, basically, free reign over our garden plans. Jeff has interest, I want results, but neither of us have the time to really put into it. Too bad my mom can't live with us... or close by... she could be gardening and cleaning and playing with my kids all the live-long day! She came and helped out with the kids while I was out of town last week. This gave Jeff the time to get some outside work done- like building our raised bed for our veggie garden. My mom came back through town on Saturday and planted, with Teagan's help, tomato plants, cucumber seeds, squash seeds, and a variety of flowers around the house (shasta daisies, columbine). I also have instructions to follow in regards to some vine type plants that attract hummingbirds that we are going to plant below the deck. We then hang twine from above and these plants will creep their way up and we will have a hummingbird hang out! Oh- I also have to transplant to obedient plants. I still have 2 rose bushes to plant this week, too. Just need to figure out where they should go.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I know where I'll be on Tuesday at 9 EST. Join me?

Can't see the video? Won't be able to tune in on the 19th? Watch on!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Siblings. Friends.

I mentioned in my earlier post today that Christy is about the closest thing I've come to having a sister. We even joke that I should just introduce her as my sister in casual interactions. We are really so very close... and I feel so blessed to have her. The piece that is missing is the history. The growing up memories. Christy has a brother that she grew up with... and their relationship was a major influence on my accepting my pregnancy with Zach. They are friends and they have this history together, common memories and experiences. That is so very special! I love watching my kids together. I love watching them play and even seeing how they fight. Recently, one of my brothers (he is 15 years younger than me so we didn't grow up together but are getting closer as the years go by) came for a visit. We did some juggling to find him a place to sleep and ended up moving Teagan to the twin bed in Zach's room. She's been asking to sleep in there ever since. So we let her fall asleep in her bed and then move her to Zach's room when we go to bed. Tonight, she wanted to fall asleep in his room. I made it clear- NO talking, NO getting up. Because if she wakes Zach... big trouble. Sidebar- they do nap in a common room at Lisa's. Teagan on a cot with the other kids and Zach in a crib thingee next to the other 2 younger toddlers/babies. We go to his room and I tell her I need to check on him first. I slip the door open... he's awake! Teagan hops into the twin bed, I give him a hug and rearrange his blanket and pillow and lovie. I hug Teagan. She kisses me. He's laying down, thumb in mouth. She's laying down, snuggled up in her blanket. I leave the room... there is silence. They take comfort in each other. In simply being together, being close. That warms my heart, comforts my soul. What a beautiful gift a sibling is. While they will grow up with their own set of shared memories, this is one night that I know will remain solidly in mine.

I Think I'd Like a Sister Wife

Big Love. Have you seen it? It's on HBO. Tom Hanks is an Executive Producer. Bill Paxton stars. I love this show. We don't have HBO or Showtime but I do enjoy shows like Big Love and Dexter. I get obsessed, really. I end up watching an entire season within a few days. I get totally obsessed with the lives of the characters and the goings on of the storyline. This also happened recently with The Riches (an FX show you can watch on - starring Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard as gypsies posing as rich people). I'm watching the last episode of season 3 of Big Love right now. I want a sister wife. I don't want to share my husband. That would be totally off limits. But to have someone who is part of our family, part of our home, helping to raise our children, have a share of the household duties... is so tempting. What it really boils down to, I suppose, is wishing we had more of ourselves. And if I stop and think about it... we kind of already have sister wives. Sister mothers. My children have other women who care for them, love them, teach them, nurture them. Miss Lisa. She cares for my children during the day. She feeds them, changes them, helps teach them potty skills, sings with them, plays with them, kisses their boo-boos, cheers for them, disciplines them. She is the second mother. Aunt Christy. In terms of friendship, she is the closest I've ever had to a sister. She knows me so well... and I know her so well... it often feels like the only thing missing is the history of shared memories that siblings get to share. She loves my kids. Should anything happen to me and Jeff, Christy would become guardian of our children. She would protect their relationships and honor the foundation of how we are raising our children. Grandma. My mother. Yes, there is a lot not... right... there. Who doesn't have issues with their mother? But my mom and I have found a way to become friends. And thankfully, we found that closeness prior to my having children. She has stepped up in ways that I never anticipated. She is so close with my daughter- they have a special bond that I know will continue to grow and blossom. And I am eager to see her relationship form and strengthen with my son, too. The women in our lives... sister wives, sister mothers, sisters, mothers, daughters. Where would we be without them?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Eateries 2

Monday night, my boss and I ventured over to Las Tasca for some tapas.
We had an eggplant appetizer (Berenjenas Fritas con Queso Cabrales)- thinly sliced eggplant, battered and fried, served with a Cabrales cheese dip. My boss is a vegetarian so she ordered a potato dish (Patatas a lo Pobre) and a single serving of a veggie paella (Paella de Verduras). I had a bite of each- very tasty.
I had this beef dish (Buey al Jerez)- flank steak in a sherry and mushroom sauce:
And here's the fried seafood (Fritura Mixa de Pescado)- deep fried squid, scallops, shrimp. See the squid?

My only regret is not ordering any sangria. The list looked good but I just wasn't sure with the whole boss/work paying the tab thing... If you go to the link and check out the menu, there is a list of Sangrias... Sangria Rosada...

She and I did each have a glass of wine at the airport before flying home... had I only known...

Someday, Christy and I will venture out for tapas together... spend several hours over our food and sample many dishes and consume much alcohol...

Corner Bakery Cafe

This is a chain and I am hereby very jealous of any of you who have one in your area. We ate breakfast here Tues and Weds and liked it so much, we did lunch there on Weds! I had the same breakfast both days- the Anaheim Scrambler. Eggs scrambled with bacon, tomatoes, green onion, cheddar cheese, topped with chunks of avocado and an avocado slice. I love avocado but have never had it with eggs. It is heavenly!! The toast was really, really good, too. For lunch, I had The Trio- pick 3 side salads. I did the chicken salad (chicken, apples, currants, red onion, celery, mayo, almonds), asian edamame salad (edamame, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, carrots, green onion, basil, cilantro, ginger citrus dressing), and the greek vegetable salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, artichokes, pepperoncini, kalamata olives, red onions, white balsamic, feta).

The Corner Bakery Cafe was named one of the Top 10 Healthiest Quick Serve Chains by Health Magazine!

They also had REALLY good iced tea. Regular tea and a black currant iced tea... dreamy. Great coffee, too. And the little flavor shakers- vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg. Mmmmmmm.

Tuesday's lunch was a place called California Tortilla. It was ok but nothing to get excited over and we have comparable places here in Indy.

We did get sandwiches in the airport. Minimal selection of eateries at Ronald Reagan Airport. We had started to go to this "Europa Cafe" place but a pilot stopped me ands aid that the food was much better at Allie's deli- sandwiches made fresh instead of the pre-made and packaged stuff at Europa. He said he flies in there once a week and has tried it all and said Allie's was the place to go! And he was right- fantastic turkey sandwich.

Christy's birthday is next week and I plan to take her out to dinner... Fogo de Chão

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Some links to places I've dined here in the DC and Arlington area. The Hawk and Dove This is apparently a big politico hangout. My aunt and uncle had originally intended to take me to a joint down the street but it wasn't well suited to sitting and talking for a couple of hours so we wandered down the street and came upon the Hawk and Dove. Apparently, the MSNBC Morning Joe crew did their St Patty's Day show there? Serving beer at 9 in the morning? Or something? The service was... meh. The food was average. The atmosphere was very bar. I did enjoy it- mostly for the company, though. They had a cigarette machine- which I haven't seen in YEARS. And a pack of cigs from the machine was $7!! The place we had first thought we were going to enjoy was Good Stuff Eatery. It was started by Spike (from Top Chef). Michelle Obama apparently ate there last week. I think I would very much enjoy eating there and we did stop by for milkshakes after dinner- it just wasn't the right place for sitting and talking. More later- gotta run!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Psst! I'm over here!!

I have a few spare minutes before I get picked up for dinner so I thought I'd pop in and elaborate a bit on the highlights of the trip thus far!! I'll have time to do real details- including a few pics and finding links and such- once I get home. The airport thing and flight thing were totally a breeze. I've not been sad or weepy at all since leaving work. As the time to leave the office approached, I was feeling more and more panicky but it subsided as soon as we got on our way. I think it was more just fear of the unknown... having never been away from the kids like this before, I just didn't know how it would Be. You know? But it's great. Last night, I slept all S P R A W L E D out in the middle of the bed. Very purposefully moved my big butt to the middle and set up my pillows and snuggled in. It was pretty wonderful. My body clock rang at 5 a.m. and I opted to roll over and keep sleeping. Wake up call came at 6- good thing because I was WAY out of it and probably would have slept another few hours!! Did the tapas thing for dinner last night. It wasn't as amazing as I'd hoped and heard. But I have a feeling that if I save my pennies and go with a group of friends and plan to sit for several hours and enjoy a few glasses of wine... then it would be far more enjoyable. The only weird part of the meal was the fried squid that still looked every bit like squid but with breading on it. But I sucked it up and ate it- and it tasted like any other fried anything. The hotel clerk is a HOOT. I don't think he's here this evening. But he is super excited super hyper, keeps this huge smile on his face, and has these hyper happy tics. At first, it seems like he's just kinda weirdly excited about life and it is, admittedly, contagious. Then you realize he can't actually help it and it gets a little weird. Then you realize that he's totally fine with it and you embrace the joy of it again. He will be talking to you and just pop in with these "WHEEEEE!!!" and "YAY!!!" and the tongue blubbery thing. Those seem to be his "around customer" tics. When he is just interacting with hotel staff or on the hotel radio (talking to the shuttle driver) there are a few other tics that come through (gagagagaga). I love that he has found a way for this disorder to be part of who he is and make him memorable and even good at his job. Is it bad to be in the business center of the hotel and not doing business?? Blogging is business, right? Guess what I did this evening?? Something I have NEVER done while traveling. Something I've rolled my eyes at... I used the fitness center at the hotel!! I only did about 20 minutes but I kept it pretty intense. Ran on the treadmill for 3 mins, did a series of 10 lb weight stuff, lunges, squats, etc. Then did the fancy-do elliptical jobie. Increased heart rate and sweating!! Yahoo! My aunt and uncle (my dad's brother) and their kids are coming to pick me up at 7 to take me to dinner- "a new place on Capital Hill." I am pretty excited. I haven't seen my cousins in a decade. We've connected here and there on Facebook... I asked you guys to vote for their website (HotPads) a few weeks ago (they won the People's Voice Webby, by the way- thanks to you!!). Prior to last summer, it had been a decade since I'd seen my aunt and uncle. I'm not very close to my dad's family. A lot of reasons. I like most of them. I care about all of them. But there just isn't a lot of closeness there. But I suppose there is the potential for that now that I am an adult. I am very excited to see them and spend time with a group of adults and have a glass or two of wine and enjoy a leisurely dinner. They pick me up at 7, we meet my cousins at 7:30... so we won't eat until after 8:00. I can't imagine being more "grown up" than that... with kids around, I always have dinner no later than 6. So this is "big time!" The training is dreadfully boring. The instructor seems to think we should all know more than we already know. There are only 7 of us in this course- so no real opportunity to hide in the crowd. He keeps asking questions and waiting for these really looooooong pauses to see if anyone will answer or share an example of something- but we have no clue what he's talking about! We are there for him to TEACH us this stuff!! It's a FUNDAMENTALS class!! So tomorrow is my last day here. It has flown by. I think the key has been to stay in the moment. And saving the best for last... Jeff has been working his tail off to get the garden set up. He's bought 800 lb of topsoil and 600 lb of manure and I don't know how much peat moss. He built the garden bed frame, lifted out the sod from that plot of land, and has filled it with this topsoil/manure/moss mix. He's a regular old farmer! Get ready for the big awwww moment... I called this evening to talk to the kids, Jeff, my mom. When Zach had his turn, I sang "Twinkle, Twinkle" to him. When I stopped singing he said, as clear as day and like he's never said it before... "I love you!" You're a little weepy now, aren't you?
Instructor is boring. Gets that white mouth corner buildup. Ew! Txt from Grandma- Zach pooped on the potty! Awesome bkfst @ Corner Bakery Cafe.
Tapas for dinner. Visit to Container Store. Big rainstorm. Slept well.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Checking in hotel. Clerk has Tourrette's. Good job for him as he is very happy & his tics are Wheeee! and a rasberry over excited noise!

Tears On My Pillow...

Or my sleeve. I tend to let the emotions come as they may. Traveling with the boss, who is friendly and not just a "boss type..." I feel like I should be sheltering my emotions a bit more. But I just can't. If I cry, I cry. If I don't, I don't. I'm as real as they come... bring it on. I'll be posting little updates here from my phone. My own personal "tweets" if that's your language. It's not mine... so I'll be dropping the Lizdom from the cell when it seems right. Peace Out!
Testing! Attempting to post from my phone!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'm Leavin'

On a jet plane... Tomorrow, I take my children to Miss Lisa's house. I go to work. And after lunch, I fly away to Washington D.C. for 2 nights. I am not taking a laptop with me. I am assuming I will be able to use the business center at the hotel to get online. It is breaking my heart to leave my kids. My mom is coming to help Jeff out and the kids will spend the day with her on Tuesday. Everyone is going to have a great time... and it will most likely be really good for me to get away. What I am looking forward to... meals where I can focus on my food and not be concerned about cutting and cooling the food on plates around me... sleeping in a bed all by myself... sleeping all night without listening for cries or other child noises... showering without anyone knocking on the door... maybe even finding time in my schedule to work out without limiting myself to a lunch hour... not being asked the same question or a string of constant questions about E v e r y t h i n g... What will I miss? Hugs, kisses, giggles, tickles, sticky fingers and cheeks, bubble bathtime, sleepy bedtime books, kids snuggling in my bed in the morning, singing songs, sparkling blue eyes, twinkling brown eyes, arms wrapped around me... The best part? Coming home.

May 10 ~ 5th Grade

I was born in California to my mother and father. My father was a loser. Couldn't hold a job and didn't try very hard. According to my mother, marrying him was an act of rebellion. In her stubbornness, she made many efforts to make it work. But it didn't. When I was 3, mom packed us up and we moved to Lexington, KY to live with her parents. My father also moved home- to Louisville, KY. From what I'm told and from the little I remember, he didn't come around much. I do remember my mom and I driving to Louisville and spending Christmas with his family. By the time I was 5, my mom was fed up with him never paying any child support, never making any effort to see me, of him just being the loser he was. She was getting ready to start dental school, my grandparents were about to move to Elizabethtown, KY and we would be on our own. She stopped making the effort to include him in my life. If he wasn't willing to put out at least a 50% effort, she couldn't afford the energy and time to make it happen. He vanished. Never attempted contact. I was a fatherless child. I started school. Most of the other kids had dads. But divorce was becoming a growing phenomenon. My mom had me go to a school sponsored group for kids of divorced parents. But I couldn't relate- the other kids all knew their dads and spent most of the time talking about visiting their dad or meeting dad's new girlfriend. I just didn't have a dad. My mom had started dating a man when I was 5. Once my grandparents moved away, he became more prevalent in our lives. He wasn't around a lot but he and my mom were slowly getting to know each other and spend time together. Things got more serious between them. Mom was in dental school, he was in medical school. He was scheduled to finish a year before her. They got married the summer before I started 5th grade. Mom and I would travel each weekend up to Cincinnati- where my dad was doing his internship and residency and such. Several weeks before mom and I made our sudden move to Cincinnati, a major event happened. The man my mom married... adopted me. I had wanted a dad. All my friends had dads. I don't recall any other single moms in my group of friends. And a dad just seemed like a nice addition to a family. Usually playful and funny, slightly embarrassing, strong and secure and safe. At least that is how things looked from my dadless perspective. Being adopted was a big deal for me. It meant that I had stepped up. It symbolized full acceptance of me. It was a fresh start. As an adult, the hard part of my adoption was dealing with the fact that my birth father came to the courthouse and signed away his paternal rights. The lawyers made him a deal he couldn't refuse- we would have no claim on all of that child support he'd never paid. In the processing of that, it did feel like he was selling me off. But it was truly the most loving decision he could have made- even if it was done for selfish reasons. On May 10, I became my daddy's daughter. My mom and dad went to the courthouse. I stayed in the lawyer's office with his secretary (his wife). I remember being excited to play on her typewriter. And I remember the look on my dad's face when they came back. Every year, my dad and I celebrate my Adoption Day. A-Day. When I lived at home, it meant a dinner out, just the 2 of us. Once I moved away to Indiana, it meant phone calls and cards. But we still recognize the day every year. So while my family celebrates me on Mother's Day, I have the pleasure of a double celebration. I wouldn't be where I am right now if my mom and dad hadn't gotten married. And I wouldn't have felt as much a part of the new family unit if my dad hasn't adopted me. And given everything else that was chaotic in my childhood... having that anchor of safety in my dad gave me a level of confidence that I know helped me become the person I am now. My dad has been my dad from the word go. While he wasn't a perfect dad... there is a lot he has done that means more than words could ever say. When everything from my childhood started surfacing- the abuse- he loved me and believed me and helped me. He paid for my therapy. He paid for my hospital stay. He paid emotionally for the horrible attention-seeking choices I was making. He paid for college- all 5 years. He has made a lot of mistakes. But they are dad mistakes and I am glad to have those unique challenges in my life that only a dad can bring. Happy A-Day to me and my dad!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Reason

Teagan and I spent some time alone together this morning. She woke up early, I was awake. And as I watched her brushing her teeth- doing the entire process with no help from me- I thought to myself... "She's the reason. She's the first." We very purposefully added Teagan to our family. We wanted to be pregnant. We wanted a baby. We wanted to grow our family and become parents. Teagan was an extra special addition to our family because we had miscarried our first pregnancy at 10 weeks. It was the most awful thing Jeff and I had gone through together in our relationship. It probably still is. What it taught us was just how badly we really did want to have a baby. As soon as we had the go ahead from my OB to try again, we did. And we got pregnant right away. I spent a lot of time worrying during my first trimester. Approaching certain milestones relating to the miscarriage were emotionally difficult. But my pregnancy with Teagan was mostly ideal. Nausea but not big time sickness. No major body issues, no major complaints. We did have a scare at the start of my third trimester. My heart went out of rhythm. This is apparently a somewhat normal condition when dealing with heart conditions. However, I'd never had any heart trouble, no history of heart trouble in my family, and it isn't a typical condition in pregnancy. I spent 3 days in the hospital. I was in the heart unit but had a Labor and Delivery nurse assigned to my bedside at all times. I was on an IV of some sort of medicine that was supposed to help my heart get back to normal. But I couldn't be on it longer than 12 hours out of concern for Teagan. After 12 hours, the monitors showed that Teagan was fine and my heart was still out of whack. I'd just sent Jeff home to get a shower when the doc came in and explained that we needed to proceed with plan B right away. They were going to knock me out, stop my heart, and shock it back into rhythm. I called Jeff in a panic. He rushed back to the hospital and spent quite a bit of time searching for me. They'd moved me from my room to the heart unit procedure room. While there, my heart doc consulted with my OB. There was concern that "something" could happen and this little heart procedure room wouldn't be prepared to handle an emergency C-section. The decision was made to transfer me to the L&D unit. So off we went to the other side of the hospital. At one point on the journey, as I am sitting on the gurney/bed, with monitors strapped around my belly, wires stuck all over my chest, fear in my heart... we paused in a hallway. I heard a voice say my name and I turned towards it. I was sitting at the end of an empty little hallway. The only thing in that hallway was a sign noting an office. "Chaplain" I took a deep breath. I think I cried a little. But I let the fear go. I said a prayer. I turned my fears over to God. We proceeded on to the L&D emergency C-section room. I still hadn't seen Jeff. The anesthesiologist came in and was going to start my knock out... but got called into what sounded like a very urgent emergency c-section in the next room. 2 nurses, the heart doctor and I waited for a minute. A nurse came in and reported that Jeff had found us and was waiting just outside. More relief flooded my heart. The heart doctor decides we should go ahead and get all the monitors re-hooked up while we waited for the anesthesiologist. They busily starting plugging things in and hooking things up. He then turns on the power. "Wait a minute!" I braced myself, scared of what was coming next. "She's back in rhythm!" I spontaneously went back into rhythm on the journey from the heart unit to the L&D unit. At what point on that journey do you think it happened?