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Monday, January 30, 2012

Another Year


Happy Birthday to the best big sister a girl could ever have.

I think my way of dealing with your birthday this year was to ignore it. I've kept myself distracted with going through boxes of paperwork and working on my budget for the year. Busy work.

And it helped.

But I did have to hold back the tears as I made your birthday cake. And I had to hold them back again as I ate my piece of that cake.

This year was low key and I don't have anything especially poignant to say, but do know that I love you dearly. And I miss you more than I can ever express.


No more holding the tears back now.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pirate Baby Photo Shoot

Pirate Baby was having so much fun with his boat yesterday I had to grab the camera and just start clicking away.



This one is my favorite.





Where did the hat go?

There it is!

...oh wait, maybe this one is my favorite.

Ooh! Sword!





Tasty!

...or this one.



...what can I say? The kid is just so darn cute I can't pick a favorite picture.

Then Pirate Munchkin came home and put her hat on him.

Why do you do this to me?

Pirate Baby has an adorable new thing that he does. He leans his head against the people (and animals) he loves to express his affection. Last night, he spent probably 20 minutes snuggling with Brave Bonny, leaning his head against him* over and over while I would say "Awww... loves for kitty cat." I need to try to get video of it one of these days.


*Oh yeah. By the way, Brave Bonny turns out to be a boy. Let's just say it took him some time to... uh... develop.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Challenges and Opportunities

This picture of my daughter is from her Christmas concert. My grandmother would be very proud of the lady-like way she's sitting. Grandma always sat like that.


My dad and his friends were having a discussion once about how if you look deep enough into someone's life, ANYONE can look like they live in a soap opera. They then proceeded to swap stories from their own lives, each trying to one-up each other with their personal life dramas. My dad sat quietly and listened (as he often does) and then eventually said "I have a nephew that used to be my niece."

He won.

Him telling me this story stunned me as well because I had apparently missed that important bit of family news. It seems one of my cousins had had a sex change since the last time I'd seen her him.


Up until 2007, my life was pretty even keeled on the surface. I was struggling with a pretty major issue, but it was the same consistent issue I'd been dealing with for 6 years. It was something I kept very private, so all people saw of me was this stable, strong woman. And I WAS that stable, strong woman for the most part. While my personal challenge was, honestly huge, it was just something I dealt with. I had learned how to be strong and to be a supportive source to those around me.

And then my life fell apart.

Since then, chaos has become a constant part of my life.

I have had repeatedly MASSIVE and varied issues that have occurred over and over. The vast majority of my friends that I talk to on a regular basis came into my life after 2007 and never knew me as that stable, even-keeled person with the calm life. They know the one who has dealt with the death of her sister and her step-father, the loss of now two babies, a traumatic birth experience with her son, major financial trials, major family health issues, and even the death of many beloved pets.

I only hope that I still manage to show that I am the stable, strong woman I used to be - even amid all the chaos.

I have had to accept that people do view my life as a soap opera. It drives me absolutely insane because I know what I have thought about people in my past who had chaotic lives. Most of them were drama queens who blew small things out of proportion. I really hope that I have managed to go the opposite direction - downplaying rather than over-dramatizing the major issues and showing that I can cope.

Because honestly, through it all, I still feel an immense amount of joy and the feeling that I have been greatly blessed.

I have a wonderful husband who loves me dearly and is an amazing father to our children. I have an incredible mother who is my best friend that I can talk to about literally everything. I have two beautiful children who overwhelm me with love and pride. I have great friends who cry with me and laugh with me. I live in a wonderful little community where I feel welcome and included. I have a beautiful old home full of great historical features and some interesting quirks.


And I have my faith.

That is the thing that has gotten me through all my trials with a smile on my face and strength in my heart.

I've never come right out and said on my blog before that I'm a Mormon. I have kept it out mostly out of a sense of anonymity, but I always hoped that I said enough that people wouldn't be surprised to hear me say that. My faith and my beliefs are my guiding force in my life. They are the reason I can even get out of bed on those days when the trials in my life overwhelm me.


Like I said, I live in a small community. My little town is in a state with a very low population of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the full name of our church. "Mormon" is a nickname based on our added scripture The Book of Mormon). What that means is that the majority of the people in my town are Lutheran or Catholic. My children and I are the only Mormons here (Surfer Pirate isn't a member). We drive an hour away to get to church on Sundays.

It's a challenge. But it's worth it.

Meanwhile, it's led to some difficult challenges for Pirate Munchkin. The vast majority of her friends all attend a religion-based activity on Wednesday nights. I have allowed her to attend with her friends a couple of times. I looked through the book for the lessons they teach there with an open mind. I wasn't surprised to discover that there are some differences between the teachings in their book and the things I believe. (We Mormons are admittedly different in what we believe.) Some people would say the differences are minor and I should let her go anyway because that's where her friends are. But to me, the few difference there are are pretty major, and I believe 7 is too young to have to try and sort through what's being taught on Wednesdays versus what she's learning at church and at home.

But that's really hard for her. She feels like she's missing out not doing the same things that her friends are.

Yesterday, the subject came up again. In the process of how things went, I was feeling very discouraged and like I was the Mean Mom in town.

As I usually do when I'm frustrated and need to vent, I called my very wise mom. She helped me come up with a Plan! Starting next week, on Wednesday afternoons, we're going to start having our own religion based activities. She will get to play fun games on our church website, we'll do crafts and we'll have lessons teaching her more about the beliefs I hold so dearly. The focus will be making learning about our faith a fun and enjoyable thing.

That way, she won't feel so bad about missing out on what her friends are doing, and in the process, she will learn more about the beliefs that have been such a strength in my life.

Now I just need a fun name for it. Any ideas?

Friday, January 20, 2012

...or not

Guess Pirate Baby isn't going to be a big brother anytime soon.


:(

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ouch

This is one of my absolute favorite pictures of my daughter.

You'll have to excuse me. This is going to be a long one.


Once upon a time, I was in a fairly unhappy marriage, trying desperately to get pregnant. After 7 years of infertility, we got a phone call that would change our lives (well, more specifically, MY life).

This beautiful little girl became mine when she was 18 months old. Her background had been very challenging and rather sad. She'd been in and out of several different homes while her birth parents tried to get their lives straightened out so they could get her back. Eventually, they had eliminated all their options and were about to lose their rights to her.

That's where we came in.

Shortly after this gorgeous child entered our lives, we found out her birth parents were expecting another child. Long story short, the day we finalized the adoption of Pirate Munchkin, we picked up her baby sister who was only supposed to be our foster child for 3 months. The birth mother had started a sort of rehabilitation program that was supposed to be really good.

She dropped out after a few weeks.

Unfortunately, in the time it took for her to enter and drop out of the program, the wonderful social worker who had Pirate Munchkin's case had too many cases on her desk. The care of our little foster baby was given to a different social worker.

Which started the biggest emotional roller coaster of my life. (Not to mention my sweet daughter.)

The birth parents went back and forth between trying to make the right choices to making really bad choices. The little baby girl who was supposed to be with us for just a few months continued to grow and develop into a delightful baby. She stole my heart. As the parents did poorly, I couldn't imagine my life without BOTH of my sweet girls. The happiest moments of my life were listening to those precious little girls playing together. The social worker started implying that we should probably start thinking about adopting her as well.

Meanwhile, my marriage fell apart.

The social worker asked me what my plans were for the baby once the divorce was final. She seemed pleased that I planned on adopting her on my own.

Then just days before my divorce proceedings, she dropped the bomb on me. In two weeks, the birth parents would be getting the baby back. This was literally just weeks after she'd told me they were doing badly, and that I should plan on her being a part of my life forever.

This was all terribly, terribly wrong. If we'd had the previous social worker, this nightmare would have been over 6 months after she was placed with us. But for some reason, this social worker was NOT doing her job - doing what was best for the child. She chose to favor the parents who had a record of YEARS of unstable behavior. (I firmly believe the social worker will have some major things to answer for when she meets her Maker.)

So picture a 16 month old little girl. She'd joined our family when she was only 2 months old. I was the only mother she knew. She had regular visits with her birth mother, but only 4 hours a week. She was taken from the only home she knew, the only mother she knew, and her sister - who she adored. Worse yet, the birth parents and the social worker voted against my wishes and kept her in the same daycare she'd been in. So every single day when I went to pick up Pirate Munchkin, she would see me and reach for me (there was no way I could ignore her and not hold her). I would pick her up, hug her, tell her I loved her. And then I would have to put her down and leave with Pirate Munchkin while she screamed. It ripped my heart out every single day. Who KNOWS how horrible that was for HER!

The entire situation was heartbreaking. For her. For me. For Pirate Munchkin.

To this day, Pirate Munchkin has a large picture of the two of them, hanging on the wall in her room.

Years have passed. Eventually, both families left the daycare (horrible place). We had some contact back and forth. Birthday parties have been attended for each girl. Then contact was lost. We moved here. Life has gone on. But Pirate Munchkin and I often talk of her sister and how much we miss her.


Since Pirate Munchkin was a toddler, I've been teaching her periodically about addictions. I've taught her that when someone has an addiction, they are no longer in control of themselves. The addiction will take control of everything in their lives, even to the point that they can't take care of themselves or the people they love. Preparing her for one day when we would have the inevitable discussion about who her birth parents were and why she's with me and not them.


That time came last night.


It started so randomly. We were playing around like we always were. Joking with each other. She called me a weirdo. I said I was going to put her in a box and send her back where she came from. She said she WANTED to be put in a box and sent to Mexico. I said "but you're not from Mexico. You're from Montana." That led to a discussion about how she'd come from someone else's tummy, and she couldn't understand how she could have been born in a hospital that she was familiar with. Her birth was such a foreign concept to her. Before I knew it, we were right there. The time had come. She wanted to know who her birth parents were and why they had given her up.

I pulled her onto my lap and told her the story. I was as honest as I could be, while keeping it at a level a 7 year old can understand. I told her how much they had loved her, but that their addictions had made them make bad decisions. They had tried to do what they could to keep her, but the addictions won. I explained that her birth parents were the same people who were her sister's parents. I explained how they were getting their lives back on track when they got her little sister because they didn't want to lose another child.

We cried together.

We talked about how much we miss her sister and how that wasn't fair that she wasn't with us.

It was really hard. But it was time for us to talk about it.



What I didn't tell her is that I'm still really worried about her sister. I've found out some things about her birth parents choices lately that scare me. I didn't tell her that I am constantly worried sick about her and really wish I could know that she's okay. I didn't tell her that I recently found out that social worker who made a mess of our lives without appropriate reasons no longer works at that office. I didn't tell her that I would to anything to have her little sister back.

I didn't tell her that my heart is broken.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pirate Baby's 1st Birthday!

I figured it was about time I got Pirate Baby's birthday pictures posted. Here he is checking out the awesome pirate ship my mom got him as a combined Christmas/Birthday present. (Don't mind the mess behind him. I was working on a sewing project.)

He likes to eat his sword that came with it.


The birthday cupcake was obviously a hit.


Major Stede is hoping for cupcake droppings.


Check out my great frosting beard, Mom!

As fast as he was eating the cupcake, I decided I'd better switch to video mode before the whole thing was gone! Here you get the privilege of hearing the voices of all our family members. Enjoy!
video

Oh, and for the record, he DID eat the entire cupcake!

Challenge Accepted!


Aunt Becky wrote a meme, and of course, I have to respond!


1) What does Meme mean?

It's the sound Beaker makes, of course!

2) 2011 – Was it all you’d hoped it would be?

Sort of? I had lots of time with my cute little man - watching him learn and grow. But I had hoped to be a little more financially stable by now.

3) Did you watch the Royal Wedding?

I set my DVR and watched it later in the day so I could fast forward through the boring parts.

4) Where are your pants?

Wearing my favorite gray pants right now. They're soft and almost as comfy as jammies.

5) Is Justin Bieber human or some sort of robot?

Definitely a robot.

6) If you had only one thing to wish for this coming year, what would it be?

To have my house paid off.

7) Would you call yourself a “social media maven?”

BAHaha! That's funny. While I do know my way around some social medias, I'm not a maven of anything.

8 ) If you had to take three things to a desert island (let’s assume you have ample food and water), what would they be?

My husband (yay for alone time on the beach with my man!!)
Books
My pirate flag - so I can make friends with passing pirates.

9) If you had the ability to banish certain offenses to an island where they would be rehabilitated into being okay again, what would those offenses be?

Anything relating to Twilight
Anyone who uses Facebook like it's Twitter. I really don't need to know what you're doing every 5 minutes.
People who are famous for being talented when they actually suck (I'm looking at YOU, John Mayer!)

10) How do YOU think the air conditioner works?

Little trolls constantly fighting cause a breeze.

11) Do you ACTUALLY think you can make money blogging?

That's funny.

12) There’s a lot of talk in the blog world about microblogging (The Tumblr, The Twitter, The Facebook) taking over traditional blogs. Do you think that’s the case?

I doubt it. There will always be people who want to do that kind, but I know I'm not the only one who prefers to have my own thoughts in my own space.

13) If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Don't sacrifice fun out of paranoia. It IS okay to play a little. Go have some fun.

14) If you could’ve told yourself this time last year one thing, what would it be?

That thing you're really worried about? It's going to get better this year!

15) If you could have one Super Power, what would it be?

Flying. Definitely flying.

16) If you could do one thing you can’t currently do, and do it well, what would it be?

Playing the piano. I wish things had gone better all those years I took lessons. I would like to still be able to play.

17) What surprises you about yourself?

I'm still surprised by how strong I am. Just when I think I can't go on dealing with a problem, I find the strength to keep going.

18) What was your favorite blog post/tweet of the past year?

Of mine? Hmmm.. There were a lot of them that I enjoyed writing (and rereading later). So I'll just pick one semi-randomly. This one because it brought up some interesting discussions.

19) Do you REALLY think “Purple Should Be A Flavor?”

It is!! I have tasted purple. There used to be an ice cream we loved in our family that was a vanilla ice cream with some sort of berry swirl. Our friend referred to it as "Purples and Cream". It was really yummy & I wish it was still around.

20) If you could make one outlandish wish for 2012, what would it be?

To have all my bills paid off, my garage and greenhouse built, my garden planted and growing, and a 1967 GTO in the garage to work on and make all pretty.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Is It Tomorrow Yet?

I was going to post a funny Lolcat picture, but it wasn't working. So enjoy this picture of the ever yummy Tony Gonzalez instead.


School starts back up tomorrow. Let me tell you, it can't come soon enough!

Pirate Munchkin got a Nintendo DS for Christmas, but I don't want her doing nothing but staring at a computer screen all day, so she's got a time limit on it. I also limit her TV watching for the same reason. The plan is in the afternoons, she is supposed to be reading or playing with the MANY toys, games, puzzles, etc in her room.

She's got plenty of options to choose from, but it seems like a big chunk of her day is spent asking me the same question over and over, and pointing out the obvious (over and over).

It gives me a big headache.

Add to it, the fact that I'm also pregnant. I hadn't planned on making a big announcement this early, but I just can't seem to avoid the subject lately. (If you're friends with me on facebook, please don't say anything on there. I'm not ready for THAT many people to know yet. I'm not going to be linking to this entry over there.)

When I am pregnant, I become super-testy and impatient. Especially with things like people who talk a lot, having to repeat myself, and people who point out the obvious all the time.

Which unfortunately for my daughter, means I'm annoyed with her a good part of the time.

I'm trying to be better about it this time. When I was pregnant with Pirate Baby, I was flat out mean to Pirate Munchkin. I was really stressed getting ready for our big move, plus Surfer Pirate was gone for a full month of that time, and I was pretty sick. I feel horrible about it, and I don't want her memories of this pregnancy to be like the last one. So I'm doing my best to keep my temper in check, letting her know when I need quiet or space, and just forcing myself to remember she's only 7. She's not trying to irritate me, she just wants love and attention.

The 12 days that she's been home for Christmas break have been a challenge. At least when she's at school, I have lots of quiet time (well, as quiet as it can be with a very "talkative" 1 year old) to rest up and prepare for the chatter that is to come. But when she's home all day, I can rarely escape it.

So I'm ready for school to start back up again. I need a break.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Stupid Criminal for the New Year

Not the actual bill used in the story. Picture found here.


What better way to start out the new year than with a new Stupid Criminal story?


Cops: Man tried to use $1,000,000 bill at Walmart


LEXINGTON, N.C. - Do you have change for a million-dollar bill?

Police say a North Carolina man insisted his million-dollar note was real when he was buying $476 worth of items at a Walmart.

Investigators told the Winston-Salem Journal that 53-year-old Michael Fuller tried to buy a vacuum cleaner, a microwave oven and other items. Store employees called police after his insistence that the bill was legit, and Fuller was arrested.

The largest bill in circulation is $100. The government stopped making bills of up to $10,000 in 1969.

Fuller was charged with attempting to obtain property by false pretense and uttering a forged instrument. He is in jail on a $17,500 bond, and it isn't clear if he has an attorney. He is scheduled to be in court Tuesday.

Story found here.




I just love that this guy thought he could get away with this. Is he even aware of how much a million dollars is? Did he really think a Walmart store would have change for a million dollar bill? And why stop at only $476 worth of merchandise? I could have bought a LOT more stuff if I was trying to pass off that kind of money. At least buy a better vacuum, or something!