Do What Makes You Happy

It’s an easy concept right?

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So why isn’t it that simple?

As I think about the things that make me happiest in the world, these things come to mind . . . . .


My husband

My kids

Extended family members

Good friends

Cruises

Being at the beach


I’m really am fortunate to have a wonderful husband and a good marriage.

I have some pretty awesome kids (most of the time).

We have extended family members who are there for us when needed.

We’ve made some awesome friends over the years.

We have been able to take some fun cruises and have more booked.

We were at the beach for vacation last summer and are going back this summer.

There is also beach time during our cruise shore excursions.

However, time at the beach is something I long to have more of in my life.  It’s something my family longs to have more of in our lives.

Living in Texas means we aren’t THAT far from the beach, but it’s still a several hour drive to get there and my favorite beaches are in Florida and the Caribbean.

Life is short and getting shorter every day.  So if being at the beach makes me and my family so happy, why don’t we live closer?  For a matter-of-fact, why do we hesitate to make the changes necessary to do things that we know make us happy?

I have many people in my life that would rather live somewhere else, but they stay where they are.   Why?


They live close to where they work and money certainly makes living life easier.

They have family in the area and don’t want to leave them.

They don’t want to go thru the hassle of selling their house.

They are fearful of change.


The list of reasons are long and many have very good reasons for wanting to stay where they are, even if they aren’t completely happy.  Many of those reasons are the reasons we hesitate as well.

However, I don’t want to spend my life living somewhere that doesn’t make me truly happy and we’re fortunate to have choices.

We have experienced things in life that we know bring us happiness and enjoyment in life, so why not strive to make the changes that will allow us to regularly enjoy the life we want to live?  Isn’t that living our authentic life?

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Recently, hubby was interviewed for a new position in his company.  The interview went very well and he was told he was going to be offered the position.  Upper management decided to make some changes regarding the job classification and unless he was willing to take a step backwards, they could no longer offer him the job.  It’s hard to get excited about a new opportunity only to discover it’s not going to be an option.  However, the experiences caused us to step back and look at the bigger picture.

In this particular instance, the job change would have required us to make another move back to the Pacific Northwest.  We weren’t opposed to making the move because we knew from living there previously, that we liked living there.  However, we realized it wasn’t somewhere we wanted to live for the rest of our lives, so it would have been a temporary move for us or we would have been forced to stay there longer than we may have wanted.  So thru the disappointment of hubby not being able to move his career forward like we thought, we realized that it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Instead of putting our focus on making a temporary move, we can focus on doing something that will make us happy.

For the short-term, we will focus on ANW’s adoption and we will make some changes to our home.  Hopefully within the next 1-2 years, we will relocate to an area that we so very much enjoy – the Tampa Bay area in Florida near Clearwater Beach, which is listed as the #1 Beach in the U.S.

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Although we vacation at Indian Rocks Beach, a few miles south of Clearwater Beach, we are in our happy place there and it will be a great location for us to one day retire, so why not make the move before retirement and begin enjoying the beach life.

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So we’ll set our sites on making that move in the future with no detours, because we should do what makes us happy.

Life With ANW

This baby is something.  She’s 14 months old and said her first 3 word sentence yesterday – Thank you Lili.  Although it came out as tan oo e e, but it was very intentional and we knew exactly what she was saying.

She has decided she’s unhappy at meal time sitting in her high chair.  It’s pushed up to the table, but she wants to be sitting AT the dining room table in a booster seat.  This one doesn’t need a Patrick Swayze telling us “No one puts Baby in the corner.”  She is very capable of speaking for herself.

And speaking of meals, there is no feeding her.  She “must” do it herself.

Stairs!  Her favorite thing in the world right now is climbing stairs or anything else she can climb on.

Bath time ranks pretty high in her book as well.

Her smile melts our hearts.

Her laugh is contagious.

Her cuddles and hugs are to die for.

Her kisses are pure sweetness.

Life with this one is going to be an extreme ride.  🙂

The adoption attorney has been hired and I’ve spoken to the adoption case worker.  Things are moving along and sometime in the next few months, I will be able to share her name and face with the world.

Forgiveness and Life Goes On

I started this post over a month ago, but couldn’t seem to finish it.  I suppose I’m not always sure where to draw the line between sharing enough and not sharing too much.    Sometimes, or in my case many times, it’s difficult to share something so personal.  We’ll see how it goes.


I was a young wife and mother.  Married (5 days prior to my 18th birthday), pregnant three months later, miscarried a couple of months later and pregnant again a couple of months after that.  By age 19 I was a first time mother of a beautiful baby boy and 17 months after baby #1 was born, I became a mother once again to another beautiful baby boy.  From the time I was a very young girl, my only real goal in life was to become a wife and mother.  I accomplished both of those things before I turned 20.

Life was good and it was a struggle at the same time.  Learning how to be a good wife and mother is difficult at any age, but at such a young age, it was especially challenging at times.  Having a partner who is there to learn alongside you and being able to support each other thru all the ups and downs is vital in making a marriage work.  I thought I had found such a partner, but when we discovered that our oldest son was not developing as most kids normally do, the struggle became very real.  Eventually a diagnosis that included the word ‘autism’ was more than my husband could bear.  He began to throw himself into his work even more.  He would take on extra shifts saying we needed the money, which wasn’t a lie, but it also wasn’t the truth.  Those extra shifts meant a lot of time sleeping when home and very little time interacting with his wife and two young sons.

During year 4 of our marriage I discovered there was a 3rd person in the relationship and that was the end.  We were divorced shortly after year 5 and I officially became a single mother.

After being a stay-at-home mom, I was thrown back into the workforce and got a small apartment.  The boys and I moved out of our 3-bedroom home with the big backyard, to a two-bedroom, 2nd floor apartment with a small balcony.  They spent their days with a grandparent, great-grandparent or an aunt while I worked.  It was exhausting, but I discovered that I was so much stronger than I knew.  I began to change and grow as a person.  For the first time in my life, I was learning who I was as an individual.  I wasn’t being taken care of by a parent or a husband.  I was now the one fully responsible for myself and my two little boys.

I was so very lucky to find love again after being so deeply hurt the first time around.  I really wasn’t convinced I could ever fully trust a man again, so I didn’t see it coming.  Yet, we have been happily married for 33 years now.  This time I found a true partner who I am able to lean on and support thru all our ups and downs.  Considering how major some of those ups and downs have been, I think it’s going to last.

Along the way though, I learned that sharing children with someone means that you are always connected to them and one of the things I had to be able to do was forgive.  Not just the man who had hurt me so terribly, but I had to forgive myself as well.  Marriage is two people and there are always mistakes made by each person.  While it might have been easier to just place blame on him for having an affair and tearing up our family, I had to be honest and look at all sides.  We both played roles in the demise of the relationship.  As he dove more deeply into his work, I dove more deeply into my work as a mother.  I also didn’t invest the time and attention necessary to make the relationship work.  I had to take responsibility for my role, place part of the blame on me and forgive myself so I could truly forgive him.  It wasn’t an over-night process and I worked very hard to blame him for everything first.  After all, while I was home taking care of our children, he was out having an affair, so why not?  He was an easy target and self-reflection can be a very difficult.

Eventually, forgiveness came and my relationship with my ex was okay.  There were still many struggles along the way when it came to the kids and I could give many different scenarios on the differences in how we dealt with situations along the way, but that would be another book post for another time.

Our boys are grown so for the last several years I have rarely spoken to my ex-husband.  There really hasn’t been a need to, so when he called me one day late in January, I was a little surprised.  That surprise turned to deep emotion when I learned the reason for his call.  After 35 years, he called to ask for my forgiveness.  He was making amends and I was able to honestly tell him that I had forgiven him a very long time ago and it was in that moment I realized just how important forgiveness truly is.

Ten days later, my ex-husband died.  He had battled cancer for 11 years and it was a hard-fought battle.

Forgiveness brought about thankfulness in me.  Thankful for the good years we spent together.  Thankful for our boys.  Thankful for what I learned along the way.   Thankful that the divorce that lead me to my husband who gave me another son and our two (soon to be three) beautiful daughters.  Thankful for the opportunity to become a foster parent.  Thankful for all the things in my life, both good and bad.  All these things have helped shape me into the person I am today, both the good and the bad.

Good-byes are hard and this particular good-bye closed the chapter to that part of my life while another chapter is being written.  The new chapter will include a grandchild.  The first grandchild my ex and I would share.

And life goes on . . .

 

 

Moving Forward

A few days ago, we had a visit from ANW’s case worker.  As all case workers are required to do in the State of Texas, she came for her monthly visit to make sure ANW is doing well and to give us an update.

She confirmed that the 90-day hearing was last week.  This is the required hearing after termination of parental rights.  There was nothing unexpected that happened at the hearing and she has now turned everything over to the adoption unit.  Hopefully before the end of the month, we’ll be contacted by the new adoption case worker to begin the adoption process.

I’m feeling a great sense of relief while also feeling some sadness that this chapter of her life will be coming to an end in the next few months.  Hubby and I are over the moon in love with this baby girl and can’t wait to legally become her parents.  At the same time, she has biological parents.  Unlike some other adoptive parents, I don’t feel that she was meant to be ours all along.  No child is born to be removed from their parents and placed with complete strangers, yet circumstances cause this to happen far too often.  Our choice to open our home to children coming into the foster care system allowed us to be the recipients of this beautiful and remarkable baby girl and now we will be raising her to adulthood.

Words can never fully express the millions of thoughts and feelings I have about adoption.  I feel great happiness for myself because I love her beyond words and don’t have to say good-bye.  I will continue to raise her, watching her grow, teaching her how to talk, walk, read, write, and all the other things parents get to do.  Equally, I feel great sadness for her biological family.  Not only do they miss out on knowing this marvelous little girl, but this miss out on all those milestones along the way.  For ANW, I have the mixture of emotions.  Without a doubt, she loves having me as her mommy, hubby as her daddy, and her sisters.  She would experience great trauma leaving us now, but at the same time, there will come a day when she will begin wondering why she isn’t being raised by her biological parents.  She will ask questions.  She will likely feel sadness and confusion.  You see adoption is never the first best option.  It’s never the second best option.  At best, it comes in third place and that’s a difficult place to be in for anyone.

The nice thing is that I do have the contact information for the caregivers of her siblings.  My hope is that we can establish a relationship so she continues to have a relationship with them throughout her life.

So we are moving forward by soon saying good-bye to this chapter in our lives and moving on to the next.

 

 

And the Winners Are . . .

We really haven’t been on that many cruises in our life.  For a matter-of-fact, our very first cruise happened about 12 years ago.  That first cruise was on a Royal Caribbean ship and because we had such a wonderful experience our second cruise was on a Royal Caribbean ship.  I can honestly say our second cruise was not nearly as good as the first, but because I wanted to give them another chance, our third cruise was on a Royal Caribbean ship.  It was fantastic!!!  So our fourth cruise was on a Royal Caribbean ship and again, we had a great experience.  Our fifth and sixth cruises will also be on Royal Caribbean ships and because we are travelling on two of the ships we’ve been on previously, we anticipate we’ll have a wonderful time on both again.

This morning, hubby sent me a link to Cruise Critic and I was so happy to see Royal Caribbean represented in the Top 10 in every category.  I was also very pleased to see Allure of the Seas make the list so often because she will be transporting us on our 14-night Transatlantic cruise.

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I will admit, after checking out the winners in every category, I’m quite tempted to check out Celebrity.  Royal and Celebrity are sisters, owned by the same parent company.  Apparently, they’ve figured out how to do it right!!!

Here are the  2019 Cruisers’ Choice Award winners!!!

https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/cruiserschoice_index.cfm

 

 

Little Miss Independent

ANW is fiercely independent, specifically about mealtime.

We began the switch from baby food to table food a couple of months prior to her 1st birthday and noticed that she wasn’t a fan.  When it came time to make the switch permanently, on more than one occasion she would scream, cry and refuse to eat.

Believe it or not, after having raised 3 kids and having done foster care for over 3 years now, I had never experienced a child who refused to eat, at least not to the extreme level ANW was refusing to eat.

After several days of only being able to get her to drink milk and having her refuse to eat about 90% of what I offered her, I decided it was time to get to the bottom of this problem.  Thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, I began to read article after article about this very problem and how most littles who refuse to eat do so because they want to feed themselves.

Seriously?!!!  A 1-yr-old would be so independent that they would refuse to eat unless they could feed themselves?  I didn’t believe it.

Yet, this is what a fiercely independent 1-yr-old looks like post breakfast.

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Handing me her bowl after her 3rd helping.
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All done!

This wasn’t too bad of a mess or at least not compared to other mealtimes.

Honestly, allowing her to feed herself has helped, but she continues to be a picky eater.  It is a battle anytime we offer her a new food.  She simply refuses to try it if she doesn’t like the way it looks or feels.  If I try to feed her, OMG!!!  We just can’t go there.

We’re hoping she will just outgrow this, but with her tough beginnings, we need to keep a close eye on it and won’t hesitate to get her some professional assistance if necessary.

There is always something new to learn and experience and that is why it’s never boring in our home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come Sail Away

Anyone who has followed my blog over the years knows my family enjoys cruising.  There is something for everyone in our family and it just makes us happy.

This past year we had made reservations for a cruise to Bermuda, but realized it wasn’t going to work out.  We had been told that the two foster sisters we have would be leaving to go live with an out-of-state family member and as it approached the time to pay our final cruise payment, they were still with us and we feared they would be moved while we were gone.  We also wanted to take ANW with us, however, the stateroom we had booked wasn’t large enough to accommodate a family of 5 and they had no other room combinations in our price range that would work.  So we decided to cancel the cruise.

We have reservations to go back to the condo we rented on Indian Rocks Beach in Florida this summer, but next summer we have booked a 7-night cruise to the Western Caribbean.  It’s on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, which is a ship we enjoy.  We’ll be taking some friends with us and it will be their first time ever on a cruise ship and their first time out of the U.S.  It will be so much fun!

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A few weeks after making our reservations, hubby found another cruise that seemed to good to pass up.  So we booked it.

Sometime the end of October, 2020 we will fly to Italy and spend a few days seeing the sights and trying some authentic Italian cuisine.  We haven’t worked out all the details of our Italy trip yet, but after our visit to Italy, we will fly to Barcelona, Spain and on November 1st  we will board Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas (which happens to be our favorite ship so far)

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and sail from Barcelona, to Palma de Mallorca , to Valencia and then on to the Canary Islands.  From the Canary Islands we head to Royal Caribbean’s island in the Bahamas, Coco Cay.  After spending a day there, we head to Miami, FL and then home.  In all, a 14-night cruise!!!

With every cruise, we’ve said the same thing, “It wasn’t long enough.”  Hopefully 14-nights will do the trick!

Both cruises are a long way off . . .  464 days and 604 days to be exact . . . but we are so excited about planning these trips in the meantime.