Friday Favorites (August 18-22)

fridayfavorites

Our former contributor, Cristie, shares a great post: Let’s Talk About White Privilege

Ask Your Dad Blog tells us about 5 Pieces of Parenting Advice he is Tired of Hearing

Check out Elaine and her post I’m Such a Good Mom

A thought-provoking post: These Are The Days

Any post with this line is a winner: That’s what marriage is: a blurring of devotion and cold blooded, premeditated murder.

Getting to Mexico – Part One

KH07aBrad and I have always been independent and adventurous. We love to travel, especially me… I want to see the world! When Brad was accepted for Social Security Disability Insurance in 2010 due to the effects of his brain injury, we started to wonder what would come next for our family. With SSDI you can reside in most countries and receive your benefits via direct deposit to a US bank account. We did our research and looked for Spanish-speaking countries where the cost of living is lower then in the US. We loved the Spanish language and culture after spending three years prior, 2006 through 2009, in a Spanish Bible congregation. But… here we were starting the year 2013, pregnant with our fourth child, owning a house and two cars plus lots of extras, with all our family close-by, in a Bible congregation we loved… the dream seemed impossible so we put it in a box and packed it away in the back of our minds.

Several months later we had a visitor at our Bible meetings for a week of special activity. During this visit we watched a new video at our Kingdom Hall. It featured couples that had moved to various countries to expand our Bible educational work. One couple had two children. Brad and I locked eyes. We were thinking the same thing. Money would not be a problem if the cost of living was lower and we could stick to a budget. Brad’s income was fixed. If this family could do it, why couldn’t we? Well, we had four children, not two, and there was also Brad’s health to consider. What if he had a problem and we needed our family? So we left the dream packed in it’s box but this time it stayed in the front of our minds.

We decided to put our home up for sale in July. The plan was to buy a larger house and be closer to our Bible congregation and away from the city schools. The following weekend we attended a three day district convention covering many Bible topics. There were several talks that caught our attention, stressing the need to live a simple life and put God first. We knew this would bring us more happiness as a family. Buying a bigger, more expensive house would not. Then Brad talked to a old friend that was visiting from Mexico. Bill was in his 80′s and loving it there. We also talked with a family living abroad in Nicaragua that were visiting for a few months. They have two small children themselves. It wasn’t easy to move away, especially with kids, but it was possible. We had been pondering this for a long time and praying for God’s direction. When we went back to our hotel, Brad told me, “Let’s do it. Let’s sell everything and go to Mexico with Bill.” We unpacked the dream that night and never looked back. So the adventure began. Signing off, Tina

*Read Getting to Mexio – Part Two!

Bio: Tina Ernspiker lives abroad in Mexico with her husband and four children. They are active in homeschooling, traveling, and their Bible ministry. Tina loves writing and photography, thus she blogs :-)

Visit Tina @ Los Gringos Locos

The words.

I read for the words. The characters and the setting. The story, too. Plot. Arc. Climax. Resolution.

But most of all, I read for the words. The way the are strung together. Or. Not.

The way they fill the pages in streams of beautiful letters all connected to illustrate a thought an idea a plan a plot, moving so fast I can’t get to the next line quickly enough.

Or

the

way

they are

s

p

rink

led

about, with space for thoughts

and pauses.

 

I read for the words, simple and sesquipedalian. For the way the letters imprint on my brain and leave my mind spinning with its own words, thoughts, ideas. I read to swallow up passages, like this one:

“[Friendship] is a relationship that has no formal shape, there are no rules or obligations or bonds as in marriage or the family, it is held together by neither law nor property nor blood, there is no glue in it but mutual liking. It is therefore rare.” –Wallace Stegner, from Crossing to Safety (1987)

. . . and then dwell on those passages, see where they take me. Maybe I examine my own friendships, or I think about how I might write about one, or as I jot down this passage and reread it I realize that it is what I want one of the central experiences of my life to be. And I realize that hasn’t happened. Not yet. So I keep reading, and I return to this idea, to these words, and I think about how writing has brought me friendships I wouldn’t otherwise have found.

“It is therefore rare.” I say it to myself again.

And these writing friends appreciate words in much the same way I do. They are reading friends, too. And we dwell and soak ourselves in the letters and shapes of the language on the page or in our minds, in our pens, in our fingers on the keys as we try to get our own stories down, hoping to one day reach others.

Others who enjoy words as much as we do.

Friday Favorites (August 11-15)

fridayfavorites

Raising boys? You need to read this.

Check out this amazing post on the Exit Interview

There has been much talk of depression and suicide this week after the sudden death of comedian Robin Williams. Glennon from Momastery shares a beautiful post from a different perspective.

This post on gender equality and feminism is a great read!

Why I am Thankful For a Loss

I came late to motherhood. In my twenties, I had no maternal urges, and couldn’t imagine ever wanting children. That changed when I met the man who would become my husband and father to our two daughters, and it changed even more when I met my first niece. I was in love with both! My husband took longer to come round to the idea of children, and then an illness left me with fertility problems. By the time I conceived for the first time, I was in my late thirties.

From the start, that pregnancy was difficult, with persistent bleeding and time in hospital. One gloomy November day, I lay on the sofa for hours, feeling so nauseous I could barely raise my head. The next day, the nausea has passed and the bleeding had stopped, but my anxiety did not. A few days later, a scan showed no heartbeat. I had had a missed-miscarriage, and needed an operation to remove the dead baby.

One of the characters in my first novel, Drawings In Sand, struggles to conceive, and becomes grateful for that struggle. She says, “I used to think people who were obsessed with trying to get pregnant were selfish, and instead of squandering money on fertility treatments our taxes would be better spent teaching them to accept their lot. In my calmer moments like today I realise it’s taught me compassion.”
Drawings in Sand isn’t autobiographical, at least not in its story line. However, the emotions that character felt were drawn from my own. My fertility problems were humbling. Like that character, I had judged people, and like her, I had become one of the people I’d judged. Now I knew the longing, the aching, the roller coaster of raised hopes dashed month after month.

After losing the baby, I sank into a depth of depression I had never known before. For weeks, it seemed as if there was a huge wall in front of me. My husband, a pilot, often worked the early morning shifts and I was usually in my pyjamas when he arrived home, if I had managed to get out of bed. I didn’t want face the day alone.

I plucked up courage to contact a miscarriage support group, and went for a meeting – except the address and date I’d been given were wrong. I wandered desolately up and down a dark street for half and hour, before heading home in tears.

Yet even in those dark days, something inside me knew I would rather be going through this than never have been pregnant. I knew it was changing me, and in a healing way. It wasn’t so much that I was selfish before, but I was probably more self-absorbed than was ideal for parenting. I did approach pregnancy assuming I would be kind to my children, yet I also had a feeling that could possibly be described as “entitlement.” I expected things to go how I planned. We had moved shortly before the miscarriage and I was unemployed at the time, but I assumed that I would get a job and that children would fit round that. While I firmly believe it is a mother’s right to work, back then for me it would not have been an informed choice but a reaction. I would have acted from unquestioned assumptions, not from considered awareness of what was best for all concerned.

That first pregnancy was distinctly different from my others in many ways. I knew that I was pregnant, long before any test. I felt a strong connection to the baby, as if I could sense her soul (I felt sure it was a girl.) I’ve often wondered if this was my imagination. I’ve also often wondered if it was because the baby was dying from the start. I can’t ever know, and that’s fine. Although I grew up in a church-going family, by then I had shunned all religion, along with the possibility of any God’s existence. While I was in hospital, a friend lent me Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. This book is part-novel, part-philosophy, and was my introduction to Buddhism. Gaarder described how Buddhists see God in everything. That made sense to me. I didn’t become a Buddhist, but I began to look at life with a more open mind.

Miscarriage was a turning point in my life. It was not the only turning point, but it was major one. One of the most profound lessons I learned was that even in the midst of suffering, there can be awareness of growth, and there can be gratitude. On a visit to my sister, my four-year-old niece found me crying, and asked why. I reassured her I was okay and explained I was just sad about something that had happened. Without speaking, she left the room. Minutes later, she returned, holding out a painting she’d done at nursery. That painting in long-since lost, but the memory of that small person’s small act of kindness will never be. A few weeks later, I went back to visit friends where we’d previously lived. One of my closest friends now had a three-month-old baby. She worried that seeing the baby might upset me, but in fact, it felt wonderful. My friend had had post-natal psychosis after the birth of her first baby and had to wait years to have a second, so all I felt holding her baby was joy and hope.

Miscarriage reignited my dormant spirituality, and began my journey back to exploring the mysteries of life, the unknown, (the unknowable perhaps.) It gave birth to an understanding that I neither have all answers in life, nor even all the questions, and that, more importantly, I don’t need them. It’s okay for life to unfold as it does, without my opinion. Of course, I still have opinions, but mostly I am aware that’s all they are, not The Truth. Mostly I am aware that the truth is a mystery revealed in glimpses and that while we can be open to these glimpses, they can’t be forced or demanded.

After our second daughter was born very prematurely, a nurse told me these things happen to us only if we are strong enough to cope. I’ve heard that many times since – life only gives us what we can handle. I don’t really believe it – if it were true, people would not develop psychosis and or kill themselves. However, I do think that some of the suffering we experience can be a catalyst for growth – if we are able to see it. I am eternally grateful that somehow I was able to see that in the midst of my depression. My first baby’s very short life had a deep and meaningful purpose. I am eternally grateful for that.

Bio: For Yvonne Spence, motherhood and writing go hand-in-hand. Her short story about miscarriage came third in a She magazine contest. She gained a MA (with Distinction) in Creative Writing when her daughters were babies, and her novel Drawings in Sand, is about healing family secrets. She lives in Edinburgh, UK with her husband and family. Find her blogging at Yvonne Spence and Inquiring Parent

How Did We Get Here?

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter – an incoming third grader- was invited to her first night time birthday party. Four hours away from mom and dad, not coming home until after 9:00 p.m. Her response? “Yessssssss!” It was to be dinner, a movie and hanging with her girlfriends. Also, it just so happened that the party fell one day after she celebrated her 8th birthday. What could be more perfect? Absolutely nothing! However, for me, this was the first time that she would be away for an extended period of time with people that I really don’t know. I mean, I had met them before, but the mom and I are merely acquaintances. I can’t tell you the dad’s name; I don’t know where they are originally from; and I don’t know how many kids they have. Although my girl has been over to their house to play once for a couple of hours, I really don’t know them. So, my comfort level was a bit less than my daughter’s. Her dad and I agreed that she could go, but I realized that I needed to further our conversations about how she should handle herself when away from us. After all, she’s only eight and this is just the beginning of her expanding her social circle.

I’m not just referring to conversations about behavior – using indoor voices, being respectful, no climbing on furniture, etc. – we’ve had those. I’m referring to bigger issues like unwanted touching, drugs, alcohol and weapons. I know what you’re thinking “…but she’s only eight…parents are there to supervise.” I know, I know! I thought the same thing. Truth is that we are on warp speed. Everything starts younger now and parenting is not nearly as “uniform” as it used to be. When I was a kid back in the 60’s and 70’s, there was more of a commonality in what constituted right and wrong. I could do something “wrong” several blocks from my house and not only would I get in trouble from some adult who saw me, but by the time I got home my parents knew about it and were waiting with a punishment of their own. Not so much today. Not only is the concept of “right” and “wrong” very subjective, but correcting other people’s children has become taboo.

So, I sat down with my girl and told her that she could go to the party, but that there were a few things that we needed to talk about. After I quizzed her over our contact telephone numbers and our address, we had yet another discussion about what to do if someone makes her uncomfortable with inappropriate touching. Tell them “NO” using a loud, strong voice; go to an adult (if perpetrator is an adult, go to another adult); don’t listen if someone wants you to keep it a secret; if it feels bad, then it is bad; insist to use the phone and call home. Then we moved on to conversations about weapons (specifically guns) and a little about drugs. Guns: if you see one do not touch it, leave the room immediately, tell an adult and call home. Drugs: No medications should be taken unless given by mom or dad. NOTHING! If you want to know if it’s okay or not, call home and don’t trust what other kids tell you. There was more to the conversation than this, but you get the gist of it. Of course, it was child friendly while letting her know that I meant what I was saying.

After our talk she went off to play and I sat wondering how in the world we got here? When did we stop being a society that cared enough that an adult would willingly notify a child’s parents of his or her misdeed, to a society where an 8-year-old is responsible for their own safety? Teaching them to be self-aware is one thing, but teaching them to protect themselves from the very people who are put here to care for them is something else. We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge a growing lack of community. The kind of community that protects, nurtures and cares for our youngest, most vulnerable members. It made me sad, but more determined that my kids will not become victims. Not only do I not want them to see themselves as victims, but I want them to feel empowered to fight back or to appropriately respond in certain situations. Child molestation is nothing new, but awareness has grown, in large part due to social media. I need my daughter to know that it’s not something to keep quiet about and it’s certainly not her fault. My statements were not about gun ownership, but about gun safety because accidents happen all of the time due to carelessness. Furthermore, how many of us tried to sneak sips from our parent’s alcoholic drinks (or knew where their stash was) when we were kids? I’ll include myself in that show of hands. No, none of this is new. However, because we seem to be a society where increasingly everyone is so focused on our individual selves and less on caring for each other, we no longer can blindly send our children to be in the care of another adult. Nor can we assume that when our kids are out playing surely someone else is also keeping an eye on them and their safety.

My girl went to the party and had a great time. When I picked her up she was beaming and strung out on a sugar induced high. She came home and filled her little sister in on all of the details with that air of authority that comes with attending your first night time party. Everything went fine, just like I thought it would. I’m glad that we had our discussion and I’m sure that we will have many, many more in the years to come. Unfortunately, I think this has become the way of things, but fortunately, I can help her find her (and her sister) find her voice.

Bio: Lisa Owen is a writer and blogger at My So Called Glamorous Life and her work has been featured on Blogher.com. She is a mother/step-mother in a blended family with five children ages 6 to 23. Lisa has a B.S in Journalism from Southern Illinois University and spent 15 years working as a corporate/transactional paralegal for law firms and corporations before becoming a SAHM and pursing her passion for writing.

Friday Favorites (August 4-8)

fridayfavorites

Casey Carey-Brown shares a lovely post this week: Stop Asking Me Where My Daughter Came From

We adore Dani Shapiro and her writing wisdom. Check out her latest post On Getting to Work.

Katrina Majkut shares an interesting (and a bit humorous) look at a new bachelorette trend: The Power of the Penis Tiara

Kristin from Two Cannoli shares a beautiful piece: Because

Check out this post: What You Probably Need to Hear Most Right Now

Bringing An Editor’s Eye to Life

I’m one of those writers who takes a long time to find the just-right words. I erase far more than I keep on the page, and I can’t help but think that’s a big part of what makes my writing work. The knowing that sometimes an idea seems good, but for some reason it doesn’t feel right in context. The knowing what makes a story meaningful, and holding on tight. The editing.

I’ve decided I need to apply this concept—the examining, the cutting, the shifting, the keeping—to my life.

We’ve all heard of the modern-day mother’s woes. In an effort to do everything, we’re not good at anything. Ok, maybe that just me. But I’ve really been feeling it lately, and I’ve heard one too many motivational speakers talk about their breakdowns to know that balance is not something to strive for, but to create.

My life is my very own story to write.

While there are certainly things beyond my control, my happiness and choices are mine to make. I get to choose which characters will shape me. I get to determine whether the main character is a heroine or tragic. I get to decide if a chapter is written, or cut—and I’d like to learn to make that call before I’ve spent hours and hours trying to make it work when it doesn’t.

So as my kids enter a new school year—one that will surely go by too quickly—I’m going to write this story with my heart. And I’m going to keep my finger on the delete button, removing the parts that don’t feel right.

Because my life, it’s a love story. And there are so many ways to write happiness, I’m not going to have room for the stuff that simply isn’t.

Confessions of an older mother

971657_10203494072338320_1608166027_nDo twenty-somethings spend a lot of time pondering what life will look like at forty-something?

I remember my twenties. Sort of. I don’t remember spending a ton of time thinking about what I’d be doing at forty-something. Why? Because forty-something was far, far in the future. And because forty-something was…well, old.

I’m pretty sure twenty-something me would not have expected to be parenting toddlers, not that twenty-something me thought that far in to the future.

So now I am one of those “older moms”. I am the oldest mom on the playground. I am the oldest mom at daycare. At the pediatrician, the grocery store, and anywhere else mommies and kiddos hang out. I am the oldest one with the youngest kid. Always.
It doesn’t matter that I might be able to run circles around some of these young mommies – or at the very least keep up with them. It doesn’t matter that my clothes are (relatively) hip and that I don’t have a visible gray hair. I am the oldest, and I’m past the age where being the oldest is cool. Way past.

“I want to be a young mom so my kids and I can grow up together”.

“I want my kids to be young when I’m young.”

Most of us have heard these before. Usually said by young moms.

“I want to have little kids when I’m in the throes of menopause so they can interrupt the sleep I desperately need at my age to keep me from looking like a complete and total hag in the morning.”

Said by no one ever. At least I don’t think so.

I’m not complaining. We didn’t have kids later in life on a whim or as an afterthought. There are advantages to being older parents. While we are far from rolling in money, we are financially sound. The extreme penny pinching, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and living paycheck to paycheck are in the past. But man, am I ever tired.

More life experience and broadened world view may lead to more relaxed parenting. Less stressing over “am I doing this right” and more patience that sometimes comes with age and experience. I want to emphasize the sometimes part.

I don’t flip out if my kids eat dirt or pee in the tub. I don’t encourage these things but I don’t stress over it. Not potty trained by age 2? Don’t know all of their colors (to include being able to tell the difference between mauve and plum) by age 4? Well, I can probably still sleep at night. Mostly because I pass out from sheer exhaustion, let’s be real.

I have more confidence in my forties than I did in my twenties and thirties, which comes from maturity and life experience. And when I say mature, I’ll share that I still have my immature moments. Like last week when Hubs and I were at an antiques auction and the auctioneer dude kept talking about “an assortment of big jugs”. I could not stop laughing, although maybe that was delirium brought about by lack of sleep.

In my forties, I find I just don’t give a rat’s ass what people think. I’m more outspoken. I ask for what I want or what I think my child needs when dealing with insurance, doctors, and educators. I don’t accept the canned “this is the way things are” line. I’ll push and question on my child’s behalf if I need to. Yes, I’m that mom. I couldn’t have done that in my twenties. I know there are lots of bold, younger mommies out there, but I wasn’t one of them.

As an older mother, I find myself taking the time to find humor in things that would have (and did) stress me out and annoy me when I was in my twenties (messy rooms, dirty faces, underpants on backwards, underpants on the door knob, leaving the house not dressed like an ad for Gap).

Our adoptions were so deliberate. Our process was long and the wait was painful. But now, I stop and take time to appreciate just how rich my life really is. I know it sounds silly to have these “gee Wally, things are swell” moments when I’m cleaning up so much pee I’m considering adding it as a skill on my resume. And yeah, I don’t expect you twenty-something mommies to even get the Beaver Cleaver reference. If you do, you’re super cool and you get bonus points.

At this age and place and my life, these children are a gift. They keep me young and they cause me to make more trips to the salon (because I refuse to do the gray hair thing). I really am grateful for all of my blessings. I am freaking sleep deprived but I am grateful.

I’m fortunate to be fit and healthy although I am certain Jillian Michaels could teach me a thing or ten. Fitness has saved my ass (in more ways than one). Chasing after 2 preschoolers (and the lack of sleep that goes with having 2 preschoolers) would definitely be more painful if I were out of shape. And if I didn’t before, I definitely have motivation to stay in shape now, other than my own vanity.

Oh, and if you are one of those mommies who say “who needs the gym when I chase after kids all day! Whew!” I call BS. And, if you are a younger mommy who cheerfully announces “I can just snarf up anything I want and never gain a pound. So annoying!” Gravity and metabolism aren’t your friends, buttercup. Get some exercise. You’ll be glad you did when you’re my age. You’re welcome.

I’m not suggesting twenty-somethings can’t be wonderful mothers. Of course they can. “Mature parenting” is working for us but there are equally compelling reasons to be young when your kids are young. Perhaps some young mommy will write about that. I’m representing the geriatric preschool mommies right here.

I’ve been a young mom and now I’m a…well, let’s just call me a seasoned mom, how about that? At forty-seven (there, I said it) I know who I am and I know what’s important. I also know what’s not important, like sweating the small stuff and worrying about what other people think.

Parenting small children at this point in life is not for everyone. But it the path we’ve chosen. Outside of international adoption circles it seems to be the path less traveled…but in the words of Robert Frost, “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”. Well said, Mr. Frost. Indeed it has.

Bio: Jill Robbins writes about post adoption life and random mom topics at Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. She enjoys running, dry wine and dry humor, and Lily Pulitzer (because it hides all the crap her kids spill). Her most recent accomplishment is learning to tweet. Her mother is very proud. Her next project is an anthology of adoption stories titled But They Are My Own – Tales from the Checkout Line, which you can read as soon as she snags a publisher. You can follow Jill on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday Favorites (July 28-August 1)

fridayfavorites

Many students are returning to school in the next few weeks; mine actually start today! Check out this interesting article on why one local school district is throwing all its laptops away.

Charlotte McFall shares a touching and difficult piece: My birth brother found me but he wanted revenge on our mum

Ashley talks about That Woman Inside the Mirror

Tasha shares how the DVR is destroying her reading time.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers

WordPress Installation by Your Friendly Geeks