Life’s Casualties

They have a way of causing one to think about their own life.  It makes people consider or reconsider whether they are living life to the fullest or simply skating thru while making little effort to ever change.

Recently, hubby got some very sad news about a friend.  This friend tragically lost their life.  A spouse has been left alone to raise their children.  These children have lost a parent.  Parents have lost their child.  Siblings have lost a sibling.  Friends have lost a friend.

I have lost all my grandparents.  Hubby lost his father at a very young age.  He lost his mother several years ago.  He lost his step-father (the only father he really knew) a few years later.  Without question, the most difficult loss in our lives was losing our son 6 1/2 years ago.  The numbness of that loss has taken a lot of time to begin to wear off, although I  question whether or not it will completely go away.  His death changed us in so many ways and the impact of losing our son continues to change us.

So when one of us gets tragic news about the death of someone we know, especially someone gone way too young, it stops us in our tracks.  It makes us re-evaluate our lives.  It causes us to seriously question if we are living our most authentic life or if we’re simply skating thru.

Life’s casualties shake our world and our world has been shaken.  The question now is, what we do from here?  Do you go backwards or continue to move forward?  Do we change direction or stay the course?  Do we give up or keep fighting?  Do we crumble or stay strong?

Loss is certainly not easy.  Unfortunately, it is a reality of life and in this loss we reflect on our own life and what is truly important.

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As much as we may want to, we can’t change what has happened but . .

We can learn to love more deeply.

We can strive to appreciate the life we have.

We can make different choices to change our future and make this world a better place.

We can live our most authentic life.

We can be the change we wish to see in the world (Gandhi).

 

 

Full Circle

Last year we celebrated our last Thanksgiving in our Illinois home.  Most everything was packed, so we ordered our Thanksgiving meal from our favorite grocery store.  Hubby picked it up and we sat down with our middle son, my SIL and her daughter for our feast.

Two days later,  hubby got in his car and headed south to Texas, ready to report to his new job.  The girls and I stayed behind to finish packing and get things ready for our big move a couple of weeks later.

One year later and we have celebrated our first Thanksgiving in Texas.  This time I prepared the meal and we gathered around the table with my other SIL, her husband, granddaughter, our nephew and my SIL’s dear friend.  We ate, we laughed and we remembered.  Then we ate some more, because that’s what Thanksgiving is all about 🙂

Tonight it hit me.  We have come full circle.

Hubby is celebrating his one year anniversary in Texas.  We have each celebrated a birthday.  Hubby and I celebrated our anniversary here.  We have celebrated every holiday in Texas.  The arrival of Christmas will mark seconds for us.  Our second Christmas.  Our second birthday celebrations.  Our second holidays celebrated in Texas.

Year one was exciting, but more than that, it was challenging in so many ways.

I must admit that I’m happy to put year one behind us and am excited to see what year two has in store.

 

Almost 2015 – A Look Back

It’s time to say good-bye to 2014 and hello 2015!!!!!  Another year come and gone.

This time of the year tends to make me pause and think about the past year.  The successes and the failures.  Both help us to learn and grow after all.

– Our goal of homesteading did not become reality in 2014.  A failure or success?

– Hubby had some challenges at work that caused us to step back and re-evaluate.  With old challenges behind him, he walked into the challenges of a new job.

– It was a wetter and colder than normal summer.  My tomatoes suffered, but our garden still provided us some good produce.

– We bought our first rain barrels.  At first we thought we would have a dry summer, but instead it ended up  wetter than normal.  The rain barrels were constantly full and received little use, but we have them and will continue to set them up in the spring.

– I learned that dandelions are so much more than a weed.

– We began the process of reinstating our foster care license the end of May.  On July 31st I picked up two little boys.  FS1 and FS2 have been with us ever since.

– In between everything else we did a little traveling visiting Ohio for a Guatemala adoptive families weekend.  A few days later we were on the road again for a drive out to Denver, CO for a few days of sight-seeing, visiting friends and enjoying a show.  Our time in Denver was memorable and then we were off to the Dallas, TX area for Thanksgiving with family.

– After 2+ years of talking, planning, and trying to make a decision, hubby and I finally decided that it made much more sense for us to stay in Central IL and have begun looking for our homestead property.  It’s certainly not the location we had on our radar, but somehow making this decision has given us a sense of freedom and peace.  I think no homestead in 2014 may end up being a success afterall.

While there were more events over the last year, this is a good recap of 2014 and now we look forward to 2015 and all the adventures that await us.

 

 

Life’s Challenges

Life is challenging right now.  Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just challenging.

Every day we see improvements in the boys, but every day we have challenges, especially with FS1.  As foster kids do, he came with baggage.  Every day we preach kindness and respect.  Every day we see him trying to demonstrate those things in little ways.  Knowing a little about the environment he came from, I have no doubt it’s a challenge for him, but he is putting forth great effort.

Kindness and respect is also something that Naomi is hearing a lot about these days.  She has been displaced as the youngest child in the family and while she was very excited about it at first, she isn’t always handling her new role in the best way.  Jealously has reared its ugly head more than a few times and time-out has become a popular past-time for both Naomi and FS1.  It’s one of the many challenges right now, but there are little signs that it’s improving.

FS2 has done remarkably well.  I recently found out that he was a co-sleeper.  I had a strong suspicion that was the case, but he wasn’t sleeping soundly with me the first few nights and has since become a pretty good crib sleeper.  We’ve learned that he HATES being covered up, so warm jammies take the place of a blanket and most nights now he sleeps thru the night.

Teething has been another challenge we’ve been facing.  FS2 came to us with 4 bottom teeth and a ton of drool.  This week his first top tooth emerged and 3 others on trying to work their way thru.  He has had some rough moments with the teeth since being here, but overall he has proven to be a pretty happy little guy and is attaching and bonding well.  He has made it clear that he prefers me and will whip his head around when he hears my voice.  He also cries when I walk in the room and immediately wants me to pick him up.  He craves that attention and it’s challenging.  With 3 other kids to care for, I can’t give him all the attention he wants and probably needs, so we’re trying to find a good balance.  We’ll get there.

Lili has probably handled all the adjustments the best.  She went from the big sister of one to the big sister of three.  She has become a wonderful momma’s helper and enjoys caring for FS2 when my attention needs to be elsewhere.  She is learning how to feed him, will give him a bottle, but isn’t eager to jump in and change diapers yet.  Naomi, on the other hand, is all about the diapering.  She’s even willing to try changing dirty diapers.  Between the two of them, I’m just about set 🙂  Not too many challenges with Lili right now and that’s a good thing.

I took FS1 in for testing and he qualified for the pre-k program.  We now have the new challenge of sending him off to public school each day and getting our homeschooling done.  This is something new this week and we’ll find a good rhythm that works for us.  It’s just not going to happen this week.

Another challenge is the boy’s visits with mom and dad.  It’s part of the deal in foster care.  Parents need the opportunity to fix what was broken and kids need to continue their relationship with mom and dad while things are being fixed.  They’ve been with us 1 month on Sunday and they’ve had one visit with mom.  I really can’t go into detail, but I will say that punctuality doesn’t appear to be a strong trait of moms, so they’ve spent very little time with her and haven’t seen dad at all yet.  Getting regular weekly visits has been a challenge, but it’s much more a challenge for their case worker than it is for me.  My challenge comes in making sure they are ready and then sitting back and waiting to see if things will work out.  So far, it hasn’t worked out, but it’s early in the game.

Harvesting and preserving the harvest has also been a big challenge this year.  Getting sick really set me back and my energy level still hasn’t returned to normal.  I managed to pick tomatoes last weekend and canned 6 pints of tomato sauce, but that’s all I could handle.  I still have tomatoes that need to be canned and more tomatoes on the vine to be picked.  The weather has also hampered things.  We have had a tremendous amount of rain this summer and it’s raining as I type this.  I’ll do my best to get everything done, but between the kids, school, activities, and my recovery, it’s not going even close to what I had planned.

Hubby begins a new job on Tuesday.  It’s with the same company, just a new position, but we had to making some scheduling changes.  One of those changes was cancelling our cross-country field trip.  The boys were another reason we had to cancel.  We could have taken them, although we aren’t sure we could have taken them for two full weeks, but the bigger problem was hubby getting started in the new job.  I can’t provide details other than to say that it was a slow process moving into this new role and the customer wanted him in the job weeks ago, so taking 1-2 weeks off right now really wouldn’t have been the best decision for his career.  So we cancelled for now and will work to reschedule it for a later date.  My challenge now is not focusing on the fact that we were to leave early tomorrow morning on this trip and instead we’ll be staying home.

Like I said, we have challenges, but they are manageable challenges and aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

There is one other challenge as well and that’s my computer.  It’s beginning to die a slow death and we’ll be replaced soon.  As such, I’m limiting my computer time and not uploading pictures until I have a new computer to use.  Of course I can’t share pictures of FS1 or FS2 and I do apologize for the lack of pictures on my blog.  For now, I’ll share some picture quotes which seem very applicable to my life right now.

Apology

I apologize for not posting more on my blog.  It’s not for lack of topics, because quite frankly, there is A LOT happening in our lives.  Much of what is happening isn’t something I feel comfortable putting out for public consumption though.  Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that I’m not quite sure how to share some of what’s happening.  Sometimes tough stuff happens in life and it’s best to just sit back and take time to discuss and think things through.

That’s where we are right now.  We’re sitting back and taking time to discuss and think things through.  We’re giving something our utmost attention in an effort to make the best decision.

 

Fortunately, not all of our life is full of tough stuff.  Some of our life is full of funny stuff, especially when it comes out of the mouths of my children.

For example, here is a conversation that took place in our house today.

Lili:  Naomi, it may be too monkey to take a walk today.

Me:  What?

Lili:  It may be too monkey to take a walk today?

Me:  Monkey?

Lili:  Yes.

Me:  Oh, you mean muggy?

Lili:  Yes.

Me:  (walking out to the garage trying not to laugh hysterically)

 

Then a short time ago this conversation took place.

Naomi:  Mom, police and please rhyme.

Me:  Police and please don’t rhyme.

Naomi:  Yes they do.  (Said with complete authority and confidence).

Me:  (No response)

 

Naomi has also become the song bird of the house.  Many mornings she’ll be playing with toys, but instead of pretend verbal conversation, she’ll be singing the conversation.  It’s like a constant musical in my house 🙂

 

If your going thru any tough stuff right now, I hope you’re also able to smile and laugh at the little things in life.

 

 

 

Overwhelmed

I’m feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by all the painting that still needs to happen in my house. Overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” that we’ve accumulated over the years. Overwhelmed by the amount of yard work that needs to be done. Overwhelmed by the amount of spring cleaning I have to do.

So how does one handle all the overwhelming feelings when they surface?

They take on a challenge!

I stumbled across this blog post and immediately thought, “40 bags in 40 days is just what I need to do.”

The idea is to fill one garbage bag full of “stuff” and remove it from your house and your life.  As hubby pointed out to me the other day, we have gotten rid of a lot of stuff, but there is a lot more that needs to go.  There are constantly toys strewn all over the playroom floor and many are there because they don’t get played with.  Closets are packed full of clothes that don’t fit and are out of style.  We have a game closet full of games that haven’t been played in years and I’m quite sure many have missing pieces.  The list goes on and I have no doubt that if I spend the next 40 days de-cluttering, the overwhelming feelings will begin to fade away.

So I’m going to take on the challenge, except I’m not going to spend 40 days on this challenge.  Instead I’m going to make it 60 bags in 30 days.  That is one month!!!  Certainly I can fill 2 garbage bags a day for 30 days!!!  Plus 30 days seems more reasonable to me.  Since part of the challenge is to feel less overwhelmed, I don’t want to overwhelm myself more by subjecting myself to a challenge that is just too long.

Maybe I should take on a 50 walls in 50 days challenge as well.  Paint a wall each day for 50 days.  I think that would just about take care of all the painting.  I’ll think on that one a little longer.

Now that I’ve made my mind up, I’m feeling better.

Time to get this challenge started!!!

 

 

Focus on Change

We are trying to grow where we are planted, but sometimes that is really, really hard.

The powers that be have put a lot of limitations on the people in this little village and hubby recently confirmed that not only can we not have chickens, but we can’t have meat rabbits either.  For a matter-of-fact, it appears that none of the little communities that surround us can have these things either.  We are surrounded by small farming communities for 20+ miles each direction and all of these small communities have had these ordinances on the books since the 1960’s.  If I lived 20 miles east of here in the town with the Walmart, Target, shopping malls, grocery stores, colleges, etc., I could have chickens and meat rabbits in my back yard, but not here.

I must admit, there is a big part of me that would like to fight for change.  Why should we continue to live in the 1960’s?  Cities all over the U.S. are allowing families to have small farm animals in their back yards, so why shouldn’t little farming communities do the same?  So why don’t I fight it?  Truth is, I’m putting so much energy into trying to move out of this area and onto our homestead that I just don’t feel it’s worth the fight.  One day, in the not-too-distant future I hope, we’ll be living on our little homestead in another state.  So how much sense does it make for me to try to change an ordinance that I won’t be around to take advantage of?  I know that’s a very selfish attitude to have, but I have to pick my battles and I need to fight to get our family out of this little village and into the country.

Instead of fighting for change, I think I’ll just grumble and complain about the ignorant ordinance for a little while and stay focused on my seedlings and garden, while I work to get everything in order so my family can relocate.  Then one day we’ll find ourselves on our little homestead and there you will find me happily raising my chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, pigs, ducks, turkeys, dogs, and any other animal that we choose to have.