Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Parenting (or lack of)

My parents divorced when I was very little.  From the time I could remember, I don't recall spending a great amount of time with my father.  There were the years that it seemed like I spent every weekend with him.  Then the last several years were I see him once a year, maybe.  Whose fault is this?  I don't know.  And at this point in my life, I don't care.

This entry is not about my relationship with either of my parents.  I am not here to offend anyone and I apologize if I do.  However, I have witnessed too many broken parent-child relationships.  I will never understand how it happens.  I am also NOT going to sit here and start man-bashing either.  Too many times in our society it is the Dad that is taking the brunt of the absentee parent.  We hear all about the 'Dead-Beat Dad' or 'Sperm Donor' (sorry-but I hear it all the time).  However, there are a great deal of Moms out there that are just as bad if not worse than those Dads we all hear about. But here is my take on it....

It takes two people to have a child.  No matter how you look at it...two people have to come together to make a child.  Therefore, they should take responsibility for that child.  God has blessed you with the miracle of a child.  He has given you His child. It is your gift back to Him to raise that child and provide them with love, trust, and security.

Why, are there so many PARENTS that give up?

Now "giving up" can mean a lot of things.  The parents that neglect or abuse their children.  They are giving up on protecting and providing for their children.  The parents that get divorced and use their children as pieces in a game.  They are making their children choose between the two people that they love unconditional.  The parent that takes a child away from the other parent.  They are forcing their child to give up on the other parent.  Or the parent that has a child then drops out of their lives.  They are giving up on the child completely.

Don't give up on your children!  Give them the love and security that they need.  Give them support-even when you don't agree with their choices.  I know that my children may make some bad choices in life but I, as a parent, have to stand by them (or behind them).  Catch them if they fall or teach them how to brush themselves off and try again.  I won't allow their mistakes, or mine for that matter, interfer with our relationship.  Give them family-both paternal and maternal sides of the family.  Do not allow only one side of the family to see your children.  They learn so much from all of those people and who are you to take that away from them.  Is it so hurtful to you as a parent that there are people out there that love your children?  Personally, my children are better off being loved and cared for by many than just by little ole me.  Allow those relationships because it makes them better people.  Give them yourself-BE THERE.  Even if you can't provide for their every want, you can give them the love and relationship that they do need. 
I'm not 100% sure about everything.  I do have an idea that my special gift from God is to love children.  Why would I do what I do for the amount of money I make?  I do it because if nothing else they will know that Miss Michelle loved them and cared for them enough to help them grow up. 

Because I don't want them growing up wondering....

What was wrong with me?
Why wasn't I good enough?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

First Girls' Day!

About a month ago Craig and Dalton were heading out for somewhere.  Hunting, softball, baseball...I don't remember.  I do remember that Megan was upset.  She wanted to go.  And she has a great way of bringing on the guilt too.

Those of you that know Megan know that she is dramatic.  Dramatic in the sense that if they were handing out Academy Awards for getting your way she would be a 6 time winner (one for every year of her life).  I often wonder how I came to figure this out.  My years of working with all types of kids or the fact that she takes after me in every sense of the way. 

So as the boys are packing things up and getting ready to leave, I hear, "Mom, where is Dad and Dalton going?"  I say, "They are leaving."  Then I hear, "But I wanna go."  I could feel it coming.  Craig says, "Not today May."  (May is one of her many nicknames).  She started pouting.  "Why?"  Then whimpering.  "How come Dalton always gets to go?"  Then the watery eyes came and soon was taken over by sobbing. 

Here is something else you should know.  Megan is a Daddy's Girl.  She bats her eyelashes and he melts.  She asks and he delivers.  To be fair he doesn't deliver everything but it is very rare that she can do wrong in Daddy's eyes.  So when the sobbing began I knew there was going to be some giving in.  And I was right....

"Okay...get your.."

I stopped him.  I said, "Megan lets have a talk while Dad and Dalton leave."  So as we were talking and I am getting tired of the tears it suddenly becomes clear.    Dalton does get to do more than Megan.  Now granted he is 5 years older but, it is always fair?  After all, most of March through October revolves around baseball and Dalton playing it.  Then it is hunting season and Dalton gets to go everywhere with Dad.  I try to do things around the house to make the days fun for her.  It isn't enough.  She needs some special time.  She needs to know that her interests are just as important as Dalton's.  After all, I don't want resentment developing. 

The above picture is Megan's artwork.  She LOVES to draw and write.  She insists on holding art shows in our living room.  She even talked her preschool teachers into holding an art show.  There is a wonderful place in Kansas City called Kaleidoscope.  It is entirely based on taking materials and making art projects.  Perfect!  She was going to love it!  So I told her all about the place and said, "How about one of these weekends when the boys go hunting we have a Girls' Day and go to this place where you can make all kinds of art?"  She was all for it.

This week, I was informed (by the men of the house) it was Youth Goose Season & the boys would be leaving us to go hunting.  I called her favorite person in the world, Grandma, and asked if she would like to go with us.  I was so excited I finally broke down and told her of the plans.  We were going to have a Girls' Day!

As a parent, it is important to do things together that is just for fun.  To help build your relationship with your child.  There is not a price tag that you can put on what I was able to witness today.  I saw my daughter in HER element.  I was in awe by her face lighting up and those big blue eyes twinkling.  I was with my girl.  I thank God every day for the the priviledge of this little girl.  I thank Him for the opportunity to spend our time together today.  This was our first Girls' Day...keyword FIRST.    

Monday, October 19, 2009

Okay God, I heard you.

God has a way of communicating with us every day.  Do we always listen?  I know I find myself not always listening.  But God knows when we do need to listen.  He continues to give us the message until we do.  And sometimes it feels like the message is smacking us in the back of the head.

I don't imagine there is anyone that is comfortable with everything that they have done in their past.  I am sure there are more than one incident that has left you wondering, "Why in the world did I just do that?"  Personally, I have had more than my share.  For some reason the last couple of weeks I have reflected back on my life, especially those young adult years, and think.  "My goodness, how ashamed I am.  I wish I could go back and do things differently."

Then I wonder why I keep hashing out the past in my head.  After all, I confessed my sins to the Lord.  He has forgiven me.  So why keep reliving it?  Is it Satan continually trying to get in my head?   

Then I get the smack!

Now looking back, if I hadn't been caught up in Satan's destruction of my self-esteem I would have realized it earlier, I was receiving messages all along. 

It all started last week when a friend spoke to me about forgiveness of my sins.  They stated that we all have sinned, we all have fallen short, yet God still forgives us and loves us.  He wants that relationship with us.

(Insert little smack) 

Then came the messages in my devotional calendar.  No matter the trials and crisis we are going through.  There is a reason and I may not understand them now, I will when I meet my Lord and Savior in Heaven.  And after I have risen above the pain is when I find clarity and peace. 

(Insert little smack)

Here it is:  Big smack.  The smack on the back of the head.  The "Hello, are you paying attention now" smack.  This morning as I am reading through my emails, like I do everyday, I receive my daily devotional email from the Purpose Driven Connection and it said:  "We will never be able to change until we openly and honestly and authentically admit our sin, our weakness, our fault, our frailty, our character defects, confessing this to ourselves, to God, and to other people." 

Right then and there, in my office, I stopped and confessed my sins, my weaknesses, my faults, and my defects.  He is not shocked.  He is not surprised.  He knows. 

I want to change.  I want a more intimate relationship with God. 

I heard you and I thank you!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Goodbye Old Friend

This summer we decided to purchase a new vechile.  Craig got a job that was going to require travel and it was either worry about him breaking down on the road every other day or spend our children's college money on gas for the gas hog SUV.  Here was our intentions:  I would drive the old car around town and save money on the gas for the SUV.  Yeah...that never happened.  Really don't know why just didn't.

Then last month we received the license renewal notice in the mail.  

"Oh no, I am not paying to license a car that is sitting in our driveway.  Not going to happen.  I'm selling it."

Last week I went out and took some pictures of the car.  Saturday after calling the local paper and they wanted an ungodly amount to list it in the paper, I decided to list it on Craigslist.  It was listed Saturday morning and by Saturday evening a gentlemen from Kansas City handed us the money, signed the title, and it was gone.

As I got up this morning to let the doggies out and looked over in that direction (as I did every morning to make sure it was alright) I missed it.  Why did I miss this car?  I was ready for this car to be gone, afterall I was worried about how much longer it would last us.  It just sat there.  No one was driving it anymore.  But why did I miss looking at it?  

I know, some of you are probably thinking, "Is this lady seriosly blogging about my old, worn, over 100,000 miles on it car?"  Well, yes I am.  No I am not sitting here crying in my Diet Coke over a car but it just feels odd.  But I'm not so sure it is the car I miss or the memories it contains. 

I do know this.  It was "our" car.  It wasn't mine.  It wasn't Craig's.  It was our first car together.  We purchased this car only a couple of months after Dalton was born.  It was our first four door car (which I swore that I would never own and then after having a child swear will never go without).  Our first family car. I still remember the day we bought it.  I remember fighting with Craig at the dealership on who was going to get to drive it home.  Of course I won that argument.  Only 2 months after owning the car I was rear-ended in it with my precious baby on board.  Then a year later, I rear-ended someone in it.  We took our first vacation trip as a family in that car.  The car that safely took me back and forth to Maryville every day for a year (or more) so that I could finish my Bachelor's Degree. 

Now it is someone else's car.  So now I pray for the gentleman who bought the car.  I pray that the car will help you move to a more permanent home.  I pray that the car will get you to your job interviews and hopefully to that permanent job.  I pray that you will find your own memories in our car. 

Goodby old friend....thanks for the memories.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Do I REALLY have to cook?

Last Sunday after church we ventured to the dreaded Walmart.  I try to avoid this place as much as possible.  I know it has super low prices and everything in one spot, but it gets packed and annoying.  I could spend an entire blog on my dislike of Walmart but to the real entry at hand.

We needed groceries.  Now my plan was to get the basics, you know...bread, milk, Diet Coke.  Get it and go.  Nope.  That is not what happened.  My plan gets derailed because I took Craig with me.  Yes, the other thing besides going to Walmart that I don't like doing is take Craig to Walmart with me.  One of two things happen:  a.  we end up with LOTS of snack/junk food or b.  we end up getting food for about fifteen different meals.  Well answer 'b' won. 

Each aisle brought a different idea for dinner.  And after the idea I would send Craig on his merry way searching for a needed ingredient.  At least that's the good part...he fetches well!  So as we are standing in the meat section, he says the dreaded phrase. 

"You know what sounds really good?"

As I feel the 'oh, no he's gonna ask me to make something' pit in my stomach , it comes out.

"Your homemade fried chicken."

"Sure babe--it does...ummm...look over here we could put a pot roast in the crock pot"

"Did you hear me?  I really want the chicken with mashed potatoes.  Real ones..real mashed potatoes."

Crap!  I hate cooking.  I cooked from the moment I was old enough for the family.  I cooked lunch and started dinner.  I do have to thank my mother for teaching me the great recipes and making me do it so that I do know how.  But by the time I moved out of my parent's house I have hated cooking.

But guilt was taking over.  He had that look.  The 'Come on hun' look.  I swear his lower lip was sticking out.  Did he take lessons from Megan in the cereal aisle and I didn't see it? 

"Okay fine."

But this is where I gained control.

"One thing...I only have one night to make it this week because of work.  So if you want it you are gonna have to wait until Thursday night."

Then like a child who just got the candy that they threw a fit for.  He says, "Okay, great.  What do you need?"

So each night we fixed the meal we had planned.  Then came Wednesday evening.  I had vegetable soup on the stove and suggested he make the kids grilled cheese sandwiches.  He looked and noticed we were short on bread. 

He says, "I'm going to the store."  Oh no!  So before he said anything else, I piped up, "Okay, bread that's it.  We don't need anything else.  Understand?  We got everything we needed the other day." 

As he is walking out the door...

"Okay dear!  I'll talk to you when you get home from work."

I didn't think I would ever get done working to see what damage he had done.  I rushed home and as I pull in the garage, I smelled it.  The scent of meat cooking.  Excuse me, dinner was done, what is he cooking?   I walk in to find him making a homemade pizza.

"Uh, honey, did you eat the vegetable soup?" 

"Yeah...the kids loved it."

"Okay, then why are you making pizza?"

"Because you can make it cheap and it sounded really good"

Then I got it.  If I went along with this I would get out of making dinner the next night.  The one night off and I wouldn't have to fix dinner.  Yes!  I could already feel the pajama pants, blanket-covered, Diet Coke relaxed feeling taken over.  In all my slyness, I say, "That's great!  We can have that for dinner tomorrow night"

I swear the world stopped.  Time stood still.  He turned around looked at me and said:

"Nice try dear.  No we are having homemade fried chicken with mashed potatoes.  And gravy.  Homemade gravy."

I tried my best wife death stare. 

"What?  You never mentioned anything about homemade gravy.  I am not making homemade gravy."

Here it comes...

"For trying to get out of cooking you are now making homemade gravy."


Monday, October 12, 2009

Stop The Abuse!

Warning:  I am on my soapbox.

The local news just came on.  Two of the top stories were in regards to children.  One a newborn and the other a three year old.  The story:  both dead.  They were not killed in a car accident or deadly disease and/or illness.  No!  Both were murdered. 

What could these two innocent and young children EVER do to make someone so mad that they needed to take their lives?  Did one of them cry too much?  Did they throw a temper tantrum? 

I have seen my fair share of abuse and neglect.  And there are situations that I question whether or not I should make that hotline call.  However, I am required by law to report such abuse and neglect.  I HAVE to believe a child.  I will admit that it is always hard to make that call. 

It is a tough call because no matter how I look at it the child is the one that is going to be most affected.  Whether they will be taken away from their home, even if it is a bad home it is their only home.  Or what consequences will they pay for telling their teacher about their abuse? 

But I will tell you this...I will make that call to avoid the above outcomes.  There is NO reason a child has to be the victim of violence.  I often find myself asking God why on this subject. Why do innocent children suffer?  Why did these people have this child when there are caring and loving people that cannot have children?  I don't know that I will ever get that answer.  I can assure you that I will do what I think God would want me to do.  Speak out!  I will give them a voice.  Will you?  Stop the abuse!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Winston and Me

Almost two years ago I read the book, "Marley and Me."  I cried probably half of the book.  Then came the movie.  And yes, I dragged Craig relucantly to see the movie.  And yep, I cried again.  Then it came out on video and Dalton begged to watch it.  So we watched again.  You guessed it....I cried.  Then tonight it was on HBO and somehow watched it again.  I think by now you know what this movie does to me. 

Why?  I may cry the first time I see a sad movie, but again and again and AGAIN.  While I was sitting here watching the movie tonight I realized why.  Because we had our very own Marley.  Our Marley however was a Basset Hound by the name of Winston. 

It was December of 2002.  Craig and I decided that Dalton needed a puppy for Christmas.  What boy doesn't need a dog?  I have always wanted a Basset Hound.  The adorable long years, the howling bark, the chubbiness.  When Craig and I arrived at the breeder I heard the barking.  I swear I was more excited than anyone.  Upon seeing the puppies I fell in love.  We found the most timid puppy and from the moment I held him, I was gone.

This was going to be awesome!  Or so we thought....

It started with the whining and howling.  He got locked out in the garage so we could sleep.
Then came the chewing.  On everything...side of our outdoor shed, kid's toys, the electrical wiring to our central air unit.  We chained him up and bought toys.  Escaping.  We have a screened in back porch that we would house him in when it rained or wanted to cage him up even more.  Well, he chewed through the screens and escaped.  We bought lattice work to place up on the outside of the porch so that he couldn't jump through the screens.  And like Marley, Winston hated thunderstorms, fireworks, and other loud noises.

Winston even chewed through four doors in our house one night, peed on Dalton's bed and tore off the blind to our picture window.  All in one night!  Craig wanted him gone.  We searched for rescue shelters.  I couldn't do it.  I couldn't give him up.

Then one morning it occured to me.  I was on my way to work and was chaining Winston up.  He was shaking.  He kept pulling closer and closer to me.  When I turned to walk back into the garage I seen the scratch marks on the door.  All he wanted was us.  He just wanted to be...with us. 

I knew that I had to work all day that day.  There was going to be no time for a break.  Then around noon that day one of my staff called and said she could come in early if I needed her to.  Yes, I can take a break.  So I headed home.  I called to Winston.  "You wanna come in"  Nothing. Then I looked out the door.  He had jumped through the screen door so many times that he had basically hung himself by his chain.

"You stupid dog!"  "Why?  Why?"  "I'm sorry.  I should have moved your chain." 

We took Winston up to my parent's house and buried him in their backyard.  They  made a wooden cross with his name on it.  We came home and picked Dalton up from school.  Immediately upon seeing us Dalton says, "Why are both of you here?  What's wrong?"  We told him and we cried. 

You see for all his psycho episodes he did have his moments.  Like winning best in show at a pet show the day after he wrecked our house.  Laying absolutely still while a baby pulls on his ears and tail.  Being a compainion when it was needed the most.

To this day, Dalton still keeps this picture of him in his dresser drawer.  And every trip to the grandparents house Dalton goes to his grave and ensures that the cross is straight.  So while watching this movie I see Winston.  He was the world's worst dog.  But for being the world's worst dog...we loved you and we still miss you!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Caution: Not for the faint of stomach

This morning my wonderful, beautiful, princess of a daughter got sick. I have worked with children for as long as I can remember.  It always amazes me the things and smells that can come out of a small child. 

It got me to thinking..

I have an knack for helping other people's kiddos whenever they need it but there are just some things I cannot handle.  I handled fingers getting smashed in a door so bad that all the fingernails on their hand were ripped off and bleeding.  I survived gashes in heads that bleed and bleed and bleed.  I survive the lice, scabies, snot...well you get the idea.

I CANNOT handle other children throwing up or, well let's just say, coming out the other end.  Now normal dirty diapers is one thing...its the extreme that tears me up.  You might as well hand me a trash can right along with the kid.  After 16 years you would think that I would become immune....nope. 

This is what amazes me.  As a mother, NONE of these things bother me with my own children.  I can tell the moment they look at me that they are going to throw up.  I simply lead them to the proper place and wait patiently till they are done.  No gagging, no holding my own trash can, nothing. 

Is this a mother's love?  Is it instinct?  I think its both.  It is a complete natural instinct for a mother to protect her children.  Even if that protection is disgusting, germ filled, and not for the faint of stomach.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Restoring Relationships

Everyday I receive a daily devotional email from the Purpose Driven Connection.  This week the devotions all focused on restoring relationships.   Everyday people get into arguments.   Now please do not miss understand me.  I have my quarrels with people.  But I also try to make it right. 

However, I do have to admit a grudge that I have held now for the last couple of years against someone.  I have prayed to God, not only to vent my frustrations, but also to give me understanding of the situation.  "What causes fights and quarrels among you? . . .You want something but don't get it . . . You do not have, because you do not ask God" (James 4:1-2 NIV).  Why do we fight with loved ones, friends, or even co-workers? 

Just recently we crossed paths with this person.  I went the other way.  Craig waved at them and then waited for them to stop and talk.  I immediately was irritated at Craig.  “Why did he just do that?  He knows how I feel about them.”  To my surprise, they stopped and talked.  Was this God providing the first step? A question I really don’t know how to answer.  But I know we all need to make it right.  “If you enter your place of worship and are about to make an offering, but you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God" (Matthew 5:23-24).  Dear Lord, please continue to give me the strength and encouragement to heal this relationship.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dear Lord

Dear Lord,
     Its been one of those days...maybe even the week.  I know some of this may be because I am not feeling the best but depression has set in bigger than life.  It seems that Satan is working hard right now to make me doubt myself. 
     You have given me a blessed life.  You provided me with two wonderful children and an awesome husband that loves me beyond belief.  Somehow I feel alone.  Please wrap me in your love and take away my anxiety.  Lord, please surround me with your words, grace, and strength. 
In Jesus name,