Monday, July 20, 2009

Me on Lenny 7.19.09

Me on Lenny 7.19.09
Originally uploaded by mommanana
Not my best photo, but look at that handsome horse!
A friend of ours, Tanya, took Lenny & I to the beach this evening for a great ride. The weather was perfect, the horses were perfect, & the company was awesome! It was great to talk to a grown-up! We email & facebook back & forth, but that isn't a replacement for good old fashioned face to face! I know I talked her ears off! (That happens when you are with kids all day.)
I haven't ridden in over 2 months. It felt good to get back on. We rode for about an hour and a half. It was a great recharge from how emotionally exhausted I have been lately. I am hoping to do it again sometime. Thanks to Tanya & her beautiful mare Jaeger for sharing their evening with us!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Damn the little things...

I have reorganized our office/den/man cave recently. It is still all of those things, but it also has become my memory room. I have a wall quote that says "We do not remember days.. we remember moments". That is so true! We don't have alot of personal photos on the walls all over the house, so this room has been designated as the photo room. I have been going through photo albums & boxes to pick out our favorites & put them on display. I have also been taking photos out of those cardboard sleeves & putting them into protectors in albums for the ones I am not framing. I came accross some of Kierra & Brianne's class photos from England. They went to the American school on the military base there. I finished labeling Brianne's, I had written on the back of her's the teacher name, year & grade. I went to do the same for Kierra's and was stunned to see I had not labeled hers. I have no idea why not, but the information isn't there. I can figure out the order, but am not sure of the year, or her Teacher's names, or exactly, her age. I can figure out her age by other photos, which will give me the year, which will then help me figure out the grade. Brianne or Jessie (Miller) may recall the teachers, maybe not. I see familiar faces of other children in the photos, but can't recall their names. It struck me with a sharp stab of pain that I can't ask her, she can't tell me as she laughs over the familiar memories and stories of her youth. And with that thought follows; she can't ever tell me anything... ever again. Such a little thing, just a moment of thought. Something so little, yet it brings with it a pain so enormous it engulfs me, it brings me to my knees. Damn the little things, damn them, damn them, damn them!

Grown-ups & Guilt..

This has been a long week. Brian has worked over 2 weeks straight without a day off. That has given me alot of very long days with the kids. We have done some fun things, but bad weather & even worse finances have put a damper on summertime activities. We have been going to the free summer movies at Regal Cinemas, to the pool (when weather permits), to the zoo, & to a couple parks around town. As much fun as all that is, the days are still long & sometimes I just need a grown-up break! I feel guilty about that. Guilty that I feel that way sometimes, guilty that we need to tighten our purse strings & I pay a sitter sometimes to get away from it all.
This evening Greta & I were going to try to meet up & go to the beach. We had hoped to get an icy tropical drink & walk with our toes sinking into the sand. That didn't happen because Brian was working & I couldn't get a sitter. We will try again another night! I haven't done that in ages. During the day it gets way too hot in the summer here & the kids prefer the pool. I may have to take them one evening just to walk. There is part of Jax beach where we could even take Cali with us.
Tomorrow evening I get to stroll the beach on the back of one of my horses, Lenny. A friend of ours is picking us up at the barn with her horse trailer so we can go ride along the beach. I don't have a horse trailer, so I haven't taken any of mine to do that. I am so excited! If I think of it I will take some pix. Brianne & Justin are taking the kids so it won't cost me for a sitter, Thank You, Thank You! And a huge Thank You to Tanya for asking me to go & being willing to transport me & my horse too!
I managed to figure out a way for the twins to go to half day camp for 3 weeks. (Where there is a will, there is a way!) It is where Alexa went to preschool. Next week is Mad about Sports Camp, then the following week is Mad Science Camp, & the last week is Iron Chefs Camp. It is 9am-12pm Mon.-Fri. It is only for 4-6 year olds. Hunter & I will find other things to do. He got to go to horse camp for a week & stay at Terri's for most of that week so it evens out. It will give them a little break & get them used to a semi school schedule.
I'm not sure if we'll get to go anywhere or do much else this summer, but they got to go to Disney for almost a week & most kids never get to go to Disney at all. I know, it sounds like I am trying to justify things to myself, & I am.. I shouldn't feel guilty, but I do. It doesn't make sense, it just is! So I will enjoy my horse & my ride on the beach tomorrow night, I will enjoy my grown-up time & try not to feel so guilty about it!

Friday, July 17, 2009


I cry


I cry


I cry


I cry

7.17.09 mjs

Stanley & Kie Nov 1985

Stanley & Kie Nov 1985
Originally uploaded by mommanana
I was going to post another pic of Stanley, my biological father, but this one always ends up winning out of all my choices. He died the day after Brian's neice, Sammy was born. (She's my neice too, that just tells which side of the family she is on!) So sadly, I track how many years he has been gone with how many years old she is. Not intentionally, but my subconscious reminds me before I even think about it. To add to that irony, he died on my little sister Cricket's birthday, so I tell one sibling Happy Birthday, while I find a way to comfort 3 others. Just one more reason I almost hesitate to acknowledge the date of his passing. I have found with Kierra's death, & his, that I resent giving any power to the day they died. I will not give more energy to the day they died than I do to all the days they lived. Sometimes that can be hard to do. So I commemorate the day with this fun filled photo to share with you all. Not to be sad, but to bring a smile to your face, as it does mine..everytime I look at it!

Happy Birthday Cricket July 16th!

I always post this pic for Cricket's birthday because I luv it!

Happy Birthday Sammy!

11-22-07 Thanksgiving
Originally uploaded by mommanana
Sammy turned 11 on July 15th. This pic was in 2007, but is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our own little bubble....

I didn't realize we were living in our own little bubble. We did what we could to help those around us hit hard by the economy. We donate to charities. We live a good, full life & rarely want for anything. Now we find ourselves in a position we have not been in for a very long time. We find ourselves scrambling to come up with funds we don't have. We didn't notice the bubble bursting, we didn't notice that gentle slide down the slippery slope, until we hit the ground hard! We aren't alone. Many people are having to sacrifice & rearrange their priorities.
Life goes in phases & cycles. It runs around & around while we do our best to keep up. We've been through rough patches before & we will come through this one. It is just stressful to not see it coming then have to scramble to fix the problem. I miss our bubble, I miss the comfort that comes with financial security. I miss being able to work & contribute like I used to. I do, I really do!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

On Secomd Thought..

There is something else I need after all... a really good babysitter! I have Terri & the gang for when I need a weekend break, (or recovery from surgery!) or if I am going somewhere overnight, etc. They are always willing to take them on. Brianne has been a huge help & helps whenever her schedule allows. Greta & Randy even take them when they can. So I don't mean to complain or infer they aren't really good babysitters.... what I need is someone who can watch them so I can do things with Terri (& the gang), Brianne, & Greta (& Randy), and to fill in to give all of the above a break now & then because they all work full time as well. I have had the help of a couple friends who have twins as well, but I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, or burn out a friendship.
I had a couple referrals for teenagers in our neighborhood, but one of them is always busy with other plans, & the other one never calls back or comes over when she says she will. So those numbers were erased from my list. Of course, then there was no list! So I went back to using an hourly daycare center up in Jacksonville. But since I only need them occasionally it is cost prohibitive because their rates are high on a PRN basis, lower if you buy "packages" of hours. Not to mention they are about 30-40 minutes away from my house, a bit out of the way most of the time. It wasn't so bad when the kids were in school (pre-k for the twins). I scheduled most things during those hours. Summer has become a major challenge.
I am a starbucks addict (suprised?!). there are 2 starbucks near me. One is 5 miles north, just off the interstate, the other is 5 miles East on US1. They know me by name & my usual coffee! One morning while talking to one of my "regular" baristas we got on the babysitter subject. He mentioned a sister who may be able to help me out. I jumped at the opportunity to have her come over and see if it would work out for us both.
She came over for the day on Monday & watched the twins while I took Hunter to the Dr. It seemed to go well. She is 18, just graduated from high school. She watched them Thursday while I took Randy to the dentist. I warned her that they would probably play her & test her. I tried to give her the do & do not scenarios. Randy's appt ended up being almost all day. I called throughout to check on them & all seemed to go well.
I came home to absolute chaos! The biggest issue was that Hunter & Alexa had convinced the sitter that they were allowed to play outfront with their bikes & Hummer.... without her! Tristan didn't want to go, (he knew better!) & Cali, our great dane, wouldn't go outside for the sitter. Hunter told her she couldn't leave Cali alone in the house, which is true, but he also told her it was okay, he would watch Alexa. She asked him if I let him do that... Hunter & Alexa both told her yes! NOT. She checked on them often, & said most of the time they were drawing with the sidewalk chalk.. or so it seemed. Hunter & Alexa would keep an eye out & listen for the door alarm, then run & catch her before she discovered all the things they had gotten into in the garage. Here are just a few of the highlights..
*Red Bull from the garage fridge.. tried it, didn't like it, so played hockey with several cans.. somehow puncturing a few. The ants have invaded my driveway even though it has been sprayed down..bug spray is a wonderful thing! Red Bull cans were strewn all over the far right side of our house..furthest from our front door so no one would see!
*Duct Tape.. a large new roll. Taped everything & anything they saw.. wads of it all over the place from when they pulled it off so they wouldn't get caught!
*Tool Box.. I think that may have been connected to the Red Bull somehow..possibly how the cans got holes in them.. no one is fessing up.. tools strewn everywhere.
*Camping Chairs & various outdoor games.. all out & in disarray.
*Several bins emptied with various toys, clothes, etc.
*got into unopened toys I had in a dresser in the garage, opened them & had them strewn everywhere.
*Popsicle & drink wrappers here & there.
* Alexa was dancing on top of the neighborhood large green electrical box when I pulled up.. never saw her move so fast as she dove off of it, grabbed her baby buggy & actually tried to pretend she hadn't been up there!
*They had somehow gotten the top off of, & knocked over, the fireant killer, thankfully they didn't mess with it, just made a mess!
There are probably still things out there I haven't discovered yet. My front yard looked like a junkyard. The sitter was very upset when she realized all they had done. She & I had a huge talk about common sense & being more attentive to what they are doing. Tristan, other than not telling her they lied, was actually the good one for the day! I was glad they didn't get hurt, although sympathy might have curbed my anger!
She was so sorry & promised it wouldn't happen again. She didn't know & isn't used to 3 small kids at one time. She watched them again yesterday for just a couple hours.. Hunter still got into things he shouldn't have & didn't want to listen to her. He & I talked about that, and about what being grounded means. I made sure Cali was gated in my bathroom while I was gone so she wouldn't have a 4th child not listening!
She is supposed to babysit on Monday so Bri , Jess & I can go up to the horses. I asked her if she was still willing to babysit.. I figure this will be the truth teller.. they will either do better, or she may not be the right fit. I told her she can have fun with them, but can't be their friend, she needs to be firm & on top of them. I just don't know if she has the confidence or the experience to handle them. We shall see.
They are a handful, I am not dillusional, I know they are alot to deal with. I am hoping everyone settles down & it works out for the occasional time I need a sitter. I don't want the name "Shore" to send sitters running in the opposite direction. School starts on August 24th. I am hoping I can work out the twins going to half day camp for a couple weeks... so we'll just keep swimming, swimming, swimming through the rest of summer!
(although hockey is a pretty good use for red bull!)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

All that I want, All that I need..

There is such a fine line between need & want. I want alot, I need very little. I need time alone with Brian. (Here's some TMI)...not just for sex, although that is great when we can manage it! But just to be with him, to talk , to share, to just "BE" together. Between his crazy schedule & my being pulled in a dozen different directions, time truly alone together is rare. We both get plowed under by life & all that we do. We also get burnt out by those same demands day after day. We are not alone, it is how many couples live their lives.
I go through phases & I think Brian does too, when it all just gets to be too much. I NEED to be with him, need to have some time for just the two of us. More than a couple hours out at a movie, which doesn't happen often either, but it is about the only thing we do as a "date night" from time to time. That is the "big" thing we did for our anniversary. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't enough. We slow danced for a few minutes in the parking lot, & that was awesome.
It doesn't have to be the most romantic, or anything fancy. Just to be together, uninterrupted, & have the energy & ability to give our undivided attention to each other. I have planned a weekend for us to be "home alone" in a few weeks. We can't really afford to go anywhere, & honestly I don't want to. I don't want to go anywhere or see anyone else but Brian. It may sound selfish, but I don't want any phones, any visits, nada. I am not planning anything. We can sleep, watch movies, do something, do nothing. I don't care. He works so many hours & misses out on so much. We spent a week at Disney. Yes, he took a week off, but the only true time we had "alone" was a ride through the Haunted Mansion. I am not complaining, we had a great week. It was mainly for & about the kids. Now I want to give that same attention to my husband. For 48 hours I don't want to be distracted or exhausted from anyone or anything else.
I had Kierra when we met. 26 years later we are still raising children together. Neither of us would have it any other way, but that doesn't mean that we don't deserve to put each other first every once in a while. I don't NEED him all the time, every day. I WANT him all the time, every day, but sometimes the NEED is so great it hurts.
It doesn't have to be a weekend, but take the time to appreciate & truly "be with" the person you love. With or without kids, life can eat up all your time & energy. You know your partner loves you & you know they know you love them, but nothing replaces giving yourself & your time to the one you love. Nothing expensive, nothing fancy, just your time. You both not only WANT that from each other, you NEED that from each other.
We have a quote on the wall next to our bed, it says;
"Holding you, I hold everything" that is so true, all that I want & all that I need, rolled into one. So I will take the time to not just tell Brian that, but to show him that with my time & attention, just the two of us!
(HUGE Thank You to Terri, Dwight, Savanna, & Jess for being such great friends & such a great second family for the kids. We couldn't do it without you!)
P.S. It was a great idea, but once again life got in the way.. Brian ended up working & I had to move one of my horses, Reese, back up to Georgia.. so once again we got bumped to the back burner..

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

*IT* Happens...

some times more often than*t happens! Yesterday was one of those days. My phone was on the fritz, my GPS sent me to timbuktu, every time I needed to get out of my car it rained, Cali hurt her left front foot, Hunter left his window open & soaked the window frame, sill & carpet, Hunter has a sprained left wrist, (thankfully not broken..again!), the kids have been fighting non-stop, I had to take Hunter to an urgent appt. with his specialist, there was a glitch at the pharmacy when I tried filling his prescription, & on & on & on! Just another day in the Shore nuthouse!
Hunter has been taking medications for ADHD for about 2 years, & for the past year he has also been taking medication for Bipolar symptoms. (Bipolar isn't usually diagnosed until puberty, but he has all the symptoms of it.) His Dr. & I had decided to take him off all meds once school ended to cleanse his body & get a baseline of his behavior. I can usually handle Hunter, but I have to admit I was at my breaking point when I took him to his appt. yesterday. There is a big difference between "just being a boy" and the behaviors that Hunter exhibited when off his meds; he had emotional outbursts to the extreme. He became hysterical or enraged by trivial things. He broke things, or more often, cut things when he got mad or upset. there is no rhyme or reason as to what set him off. He became physical when playing or when he got mad. I could not leave him unsupervised at all. He made very unsafe choices, such as using a very sharp hunting knife he got out of a toolbox in the garage to cut a milk jug he was supposed to be putting in the recycle bin. He could have seriously hurt himself. He also jumped off the back end of his bunkbed trying to break his storage shelf because he was mad. That is when he hurt his wrist & we thought it was broken. He was also becoming more physical with the twins. I made sure they didn't play unsupervised to avoid them getting hurt. I would never put them or Hunter in danger. It is a hard admission for any parent to make.. that they are afraid their child is a danger to themselves or others. But it is what it is.. or was.. because I got him in to see his doc & he is now back on medication. It was a very rough month.
I think I was hoping there would be a magical change, a cure. That he would be unaffected by being off his meds. There wasn't. Those behaviors were out of control unmedicated. They are almost nonexistent when he is on medication. I wish he didn't have these conditions. I wish I could have done something to make it all better. I feel guilty that as his Mom I couldn't "save" him, or "protect" him from this. His Dr. reassures me that this is something no one, not even Hunter, can control without the help of medication. There is biological history of ADHD & Bipolar for Hunter. Unfortunately he has both. There isn't behavior modification for this. It isn't something he will outgrow. so we grab the bull by the horns & do what we have to do to help him, to do what needs to be done for him to learn & realize that medications are neccesary for him to fiunction to the best of his ability. But it sucks, it is not fair that at 8 years old he has to deal with this, as unfair as it was for him to lose his sister & gain 2 siblings when he was only a month shy of his 5th brithday. Life is rarely fair. You can overcome it or let it overcome you. Control freak that I am, I will overcome it, for him, with him, we will fight the fight and get this under control. He started back on medication today.
I would not trade Hunter, Tristan, or Alexa for any other child in the world. Anymore than I would trade having Kierra, Brianne & Chad. They are my heart and soul. They are why I get out of bed every day, even on the days like yesterday when I really don't want to! Yesterday was a bad day, but it was yesterday, not today, & hopefully not tomorrow. When the rare day like yesterday gets to me, I vow when that day ends the next day will be better, and so it is. We have the power to give in or get up. I got up yesterday & trudged through it, I got up today & walked a little stronger, & I will get up tomorrow be stronger still. Yesterday is over, done, finito.
It's irrefutable, undisputable... the fact is... *IT* happens!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

These Days..

These days.. life goes on
rambling with a mind of it's own
pulling me with it, like it or not
never caring where I'm thrown.

These days.. life goes on
with or without my consent
pulling me with it, like it or not
never caring if I'm spent.

These days.. life goes on
and I see more of the light
pulling me with it, like it or not
giving me back my sight.

These days.. life goes on
and it's music to my ears
pulling me with it, like it or not
as laughter drowns out my fears.

These days.. life goes on
knowing I'll never forget
pulling me with it, like it or not
I'm not done living yet.

MJS 7.2.09

Family Dynamics

I know families that have only 1 child, I know families that have 6 or more children. I know a few that had very little trouble with their teenagers, very few! The norm seems to be that somewhere between 16 to 20 years old they decide to drive their parents crazy! The age of 16 wasn't so bad for us with the older three kids. 18-20 was the rough phase for us. The age where they figure they can do whatever they want, even if they are still living at home, because they are adults now...hahahahahahaha! If that were true they wouldn't need their parents to fix their problems, or pay their bills, or get them out of trouble.
The oldest child usually tends to be the hardest to deal with when these issues arise. It is the first time you have to handle that type of situation. It is a hit or miss scenario. We try to avoid how our parents handled things because when we were that age, our parents did everything wrong... right? We also want any younger siblings to learn from other's mistakes, and have to think ahead to when we have to deal with their possible teenage angst.
It isn't the same with every family, but I notice middle children tend to be more mature, & do tend to learn from their older siblings experiences. They also tend to be less demanding on us than our oldest or youngest children. They almost tend to be invisible. Not intentionally, never on purpose. But I think we go to autopilot sometimes when we have stress from one child eating up our emotional resources. The youngest child is "our baby", no matter how old they are. We tend to give in more, tend to allow more than we do with the older children, again, not on purpose. We feed all our emotions about them being our last baby, about the mistakes we made with our older children, into how we react & respond to them.
Chad kind of went from our youngest to sort of a "middle" child when we took in Hunter. That was quite a switch in dynamics. It changed things for him, for us. Kierra's death in itself was another major change for our family, then add the twins to the mix and WOW. Bringing other children into your home changes the dynamics just as much as giving birth to another child. No matter how old they are, your other child/children will react accordingly. The dynamics change wether you want them to or not!
Changes in any family, any type of change, makes the dynamics change too. When an oldest child moves out, the next in line kind of steps into that slot, becoming the "oldest" in the household. Then the domino affect happens and the whole family has to adjust to the change. Sometimes everyone steps into their new slot seemlessly, other times it is not so smooth & easy.
I could not go "back home" to my parent's house when I left Indiana & came back home. The dynamics had changed too much & there wasn't that same slot waiting for me to step back into it. I wanted, and expected to be the "oldest" with all the authority & priveleges that came with it.
But I had become a mother as well & I didn't fit into the slot of being anyone's child anymore. My younger siblings also weren't going to step back into the roles they had before I left. I had expected them to change back for me, I had to change to the way things were at that time, not before. It didn't last long. I moved elsewhere. That was probably for the best. They say you can't go back home again, in many ways I believe that is true. It was for me.
I see the families around me all going through different stages of what I have already been through with the older three children. I am not so eager to go through it all again with these younger three! I can hope I have learned from my previous experience. Yet every child is different, parenting every child is different. So I will do the best I can, which is all any of us can do. All the best to you & your family, whatever the dynamics are.

Church Steps 7.1.1983

Church Steps 7.1.1983
Originally uploaded by mommanana
Brian & I had our 26th Anniversary yesterday. He had to work, I had the kids all day, so it was just another day for us. Greta watched the kids last night so Brian & I could have a "date". We went to a deli for a bite to eat, then went to see the movie "The Proposal". It is a very funny movie.( Funny enough I didn't mind seeing it a second time since I saw it Monday night with Terry & Greta!)
But the best part of the night for me was after the movie. Brian & I went to the truck to leave, but he told me to wait a minute.. he turned up the stereo & slow danced with me!
It was a song we used to dance to years ago. We had an agreement that whenever one of us played that song on our stereo we would stop what we were doing, meet in the living room & slow dance. The kids used to laugh at us & thought we were crazy!
So it wasn't so much a suprise that he remembered that, It was that he would do that in the middle of a parking lot. It earned him major brownie points! It wasn't an expensive evening, nothing fancy or flashy, but that few minutes in the parking lot are priceless to me!