Thursday, December 15, 2011

Material or Martial Arts?

My husband had gone to his barber that he had been using for the past 20+ years and began talking about wanting to get our youngest into the martial arts.

It just so happened that his barber is part owner of a martial arts school and is one of the trainers (he has a black belt in Taekwondo).

Roy and I talked about taking the kids to the school and letting them watch and or participate.  The school allows a kid to take 3 classes for free to try it out to see if they like it.  I told him it would be a great idea!

So after school one day, I told them we were going for a car ride and where we ended up would be a surprise - someplace we'd never been before.  They kept trying to guess where we were going, but kept guessing places we'd already been. 

We got to the strip mall, and I had to admit that I wasn't sure where the place we were going was.  I asked the kids to read off the names of the places we were driving by...

I pulled around a curve in the large area that had a drive winding around the parking lots.  As I began to pull away from where I thought the place would be Kenzie said, "Hey, there was Lee's Material Arts back there."

Material Arts?

I told them I wanted to see that place - might be interesting.  I parked in front and got the kids out, and we walked inside.  They were fascinated and intimidated all at once.

We sat down on a couch.  Kenzie wasn't going to have anything to do with it.  I got Richelle to take off her shoes  but she wouldn NOT go out on the mat and join anyone.  In fact, if the child could have imploded into herself, I think Richelle would have done it.  I've never seen her try to look so compact and small in her life.   

I then told her to stand up in front of me, and to lift up her leg and hold it in a standing split. I told her to just trust me.

When she did it, all the kids  behind her went "WHOA!" They were impressed with her flexibility.  That loosened her up.  I told her, she may not know the punches or kicks, but the teachers and other students would help her learn.  She also had to learn that no one was going to be hitting each other or kicking each other - no one touched or hurt another student.  With that, she got on the mat.  And as she began learning, she also impressed the teachers with her high and powerful kicking.  This kid has so much talent and natural ability.  By the end of the class she was begging me to sign her up for 3 months.

Later that evening, I was talking to Kenzie.  I asked her if she wanted to try the martial arts as well... and she just shrugged her shoulders.  I asked her if she thought she couldn't do it... and again the shoulder shrug.  I told her to do a snap kick, and demonstrated it for her. (I know, I'm old and rickety, but I did a fairly decent imitation.)

She did it - perfectly.  I made a big deal out of it and told her that she would find that many of the kids would not be able to do splits like Richelle, and many are just learning just like she would be... and that she should at least give it a try to really know if she would be passing up something she might really like.

The next night we went again, and this time Kenzie tried it.  And SHE wanted to do it as well...  

Roy talked to the kids and told them he'd sign them up for the three months as their Christmas gift - and they wouldn't be getting any more big gifts.  They were just fine with that.  

My hope is that they will work hard at this... I've seen a big change in both kids - but especially Richelle. She's wanted to do martial arts for so long - for her it's like a dream come true.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

God bless and give you peace.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Catching up on the Halloween pics

Gotta hand it to my girls - they had a blast at Halloween.  Kenzie is the friendly devil, and Richelle decided to be a goth girl.  She had the look down pat with attitude to match.

They are growing up too fast for me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Slow in posting...

Yes, it's been quite awhile...  I have had to deal with mom's estate issues (still going on - waiting on the judge to make a decision regarding the guardianship checking account).  

I thank God every day for all of my blessings - I may not list them specifically, but I do know that many of the blessings I am living with are there in front of me and sometimes, I may not recognize it at first.  But I do know that my blessings are many.

I have been taking a class, called "Loving God With All Your Mind", by Elizabeth George.  It talks about how to keep worry and anxiety at bay, how to look at what bothers you or what you think you know...  how to let God guide your thoughts and actions so that you don't let worry or misunderstandings get in your way of living a happier life.  The one thing I pray for daily is more patience with the kids. 

So yesterday, when the kids were doing their homework, Richelle was crying and doing a little fit because she had to do two pages of homework, plus she had a small booklet to finish of math (to be finished by Wednesday because they are being tested on it).  She was simply overwhelmed and feeling like she was never going to get it done - all she wanted to do was go outside to play.

I let her work through it, and then began checking her homework.  I found mistakes and told her we needed to go over the work so I could show her what was wrong.  She began to break down and cry.

She came over to me and I put my arms around her and said, "It's okay honey - you just misunderstood what they wanted from you.  I'll sit with you and talk with you about it, so you can figure it out.  And don't worry - God wants us to perservere.  He loves us and wants what's best for us - and when we keep trying and work at it, he helps us.  We'll get it done."

She nodded her head and sat back at the table, and I began to show her what problem was asking, and how to figure it (I do not give her the answers - I make her think it through).  She began to settle down, and by the end of the first two pages, she actually volunteered to do two pages of the large pamphlet of homework.  She began to feel better about her abilities.

The best part of my not getting pulled into the craziness of her breakdown was that I felt such peace inside - I felt such love and peace and was much happier myself - I was able to look at her pain in a different light.  Thank you God for the lessons I am learning and love I feel for my children.  Thank you for these amazing, beautiful girls who bring such light into my life.

For anyone who is not sure - I can tell you that parenting is 24/7 on-the-job training.  You learn as you go.  No number of parenting books will ever prepare you or help you with what is going to happen as your kids grow.  But I have found that if I work with the Bible as my guide, and use God's word to live by - I can do much better as a mom than to allow my own anger or pride to take over and rule my heart.  I've done that so much of my life - and I am not willing to allow that kind of life to continue - I don't want that attitude to teach my kids how to be when they grow up.  I'll never be perfect, but I have to be better than that - and when I make a mistake, I hope I have enough sense to recognize it and apologize for those mistakes.  That will help my kids realize that there is no perfect parent.  But I love them and want to do my best, and if they realize that, they will hopefully come to me when they will need me the most in their lives.

Please, God, let me live long enough to help them develop a strong faith and reliance on you.  Please let me be an example of that faith and reliance.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Who can stay quietest the longest?

We went to Chicago to see Grandma Geri (for her 91st birthday).  On the way back, we stopped at a Kentucky Fried Chicken we like to eat at every year.

Richelle was her usual self - chatter chatter chatter non-stop.  We were laughing at how she was talking incessantly, and so she said "Let's play who can be quietest the longest. 1-2-3 Go!"

Game on, folks.

She did really well.  Kenzie was the first to crack, and then me.  Then Roy tried to get her to talk.  First, he wrote a note saying, "Richelle is not allowed to talk until she is ten years old."

Richelle just gave him a look that said, "Seriously." Then tore the paper in half (with a rather dramatic flair).

We all began to laugh.  A little time went by and Roy wrote another note.  It said, "Maybe Richelle will forget how to talk."

With that, Richelle grabbed the pen and another napkin and began writing furiously:

"Are you out of your mind, Daddy and you are beginning to lose your laugh so you might as well go ahead and talk, ok? "

With that, I just lost it.  I laughed so hard, tears streamed down my face and I began to get choked and then peed my pants.  I haven't done that since I was in my 20's.

I'm telling you, with this kid, I'm seriously considering wearing adult diapers - she does this kind of funny stuff all the time, and I can ill afford to be carrying around an extra pair of underwear and pants all the time.

By the way, she lost the contest.  She took one of the styrofoam plates, wrote "frisbee" on it and promptly stated for all to hear the word she just wrote....  then covered her mouth when she realized she broke the silence.

But one of these days, she's going to win - she's very competitive. 

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Mother is gone now

I have been so busy with everything, I haven't been able to post about life.

Since March, I had noticed major changes in mom whenever I was at the nursing home to visit.  Everytime I went, I usually brought grapes, bananas, or bought her snack crackers and a coke.  I'd even help feed her the high protein shakes they would give her.  She would always eat for me, and I'd make sure there were leftovers so she could have some of the things she loved later.  No fresh fruit was ever given at the nursing home, and mom used to love to eat fresh fruit.  I'd have to place the fruit between her fingers so she could put it in her mouth herself, but I wanted her to do as much as she could for herself.

But then there came a time when she couldn't eat without choking.  And then later she would not be able to get off a subject - like counting by tens (but skipping 90 each time) or telling the kids to "stay in the white".  She liked the white and wanted to go to the white.  Have no idea what she was talking about, but I agreed with her and told her she could go to the white whenever she wanted.

Hospice became involved with mom's care at the beginning of May.  The nursing home saw a failure to thrive in mom (they were there everyday and saw how she was going downhill).  I was grateful that they were going to be there.  When they went to interview mom, the woman in charge told mom she had talked with her daughter, Julie.  She asked if there was anything she wanted her to tell me.  Mom replied, "Yes.  Tell her, I love her."

Later, the end of first week of May, I was told that hospice would be spending time with mom 24 hours a day.  Although somewhere in my mind I understood this to mean that mom was failing and they thought she might be closer to dying, somehow I managed to push it out of my mind, thinking that it wasn't going to be soon.

On Saturday, May 7, I went with the girls to see her.  We got there and no hospice person was there - and I called hospice to let them know that there was no one with her.  Worse, she wouldn't wake up or respond.  The nursing home staff and I tried to get her awake - usually she'd wake up and say hi.  She might be tired and go back to sleep, but still she'd be able to wake up.  This time - nothing.  They even took a washcloth and wiped her eyes and face.  She had no response to it.  I asked the nurses if she'd been like this previously and asked if there was anything in her file stating that she was having espisodes of not responding.  They said that she was talking and awake that morning, then checked the chart, but nothing was in there about her not responding. I called the hospice nurse and told her as well.

On Tuesday, May 10, the hospice nurse (whose name is Julie also) called to say they thought mom had had a stroke.  She had a weakness on her right side, but was still able to talk, although it was different due to a weakness on her left side of her face.  Julie held her cell phone up to mom's ear, and our conversation went like this:

Me:  Hi Mom.
Me:  How are you doing?
MOM: I'm fine.  (this was mom's standard answer - she could be on fire and she'd still answer "I'm fine")
Me:  I want you to know that I'll be coming to see you tomorrow.  The kids will be home soon, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow. OK?
Me:  I love you, mom.
MOM:  I love you.

I was still able to lie to myself about how bad her condition was. I mean, after all, she was still talking, right?

I went to see her the next day, and found her profoundly changed.  She could no longer squeeze my hand and she couldn't respond to any questions. I tried to feed her but she couldn't eat anything - she couldn't even suck any nourishment through a straw.  I think my mind was numb at this point. I mean, after all, I'd seen times when she'd have trouble doing something, and then the next time I'd see her, she seemed better.  Why not this time, too?

Mom made a face when Julie gave her the medication under her tongue for pain (evidently it was truly nasty stuff, because mom made a face), then she literally tried to close her eyes shut and then rolled her eyes into her head to avoid the penlight Julie shined in her eyes to check the dilation of her pupils.  There was little to no dilation. But that was the only responses we could get out of Mom.

The next morning, I was waiting for the water to heat up so I could make some coffee when I got a call from Julie.  I was told that they felt mom was close to dying and I needed to get there soon if I wanted to be there.

Forget the coffee.  

I called her best friend Phyllis, and she picked up mom's sister-in-law, Georgia.  When I got there, mom's lungs were filling with fluid, and she was rattling when she was breathing.  I didn't know if she could hear me, but told her I was there, and that I loved her.  Phyllis and Georgia came later.  I simply sat there, watching as they took care of mom and tried to make things as comfortable as possible for her.  Again, it just wasn't sinking in...  denial is a strong force we use to cope with what is going on, and I was moving in and out of it that day.  I watched as her color turned to a bluish-purple in her extremeties, as the brain tried to pull all the blood to protect the major organs.  After a couple of hours of listening to mom rattle away, she began to breathe more shallowly, with each breath further apart than the last.  She took one final breath, and she was gone.  All I could say was "I love you, mom.  You can rest now.  You were a great mother, and a wonderful grandma to the kids.  You did all you could do for us.  I love you."

Then there were tears, shock, and numbness.  

I miss her so terribly.  I would give anything for one more day of her wanting to be in the white again, although I guess metaphorically speaking, she is "in the white now." 
I would take her counting by tens or just holding her hand and feeling her squeeze mine once in a while.

I miss her.  I'll always miss her.  Strangely, although a part of me grieves, and another part feels like a weight has been lifted.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A vacation from the blog...

I have had a hiatus from blogging.  It has been difficult to do anything here lately, with everything that is going on the last few months.

I have started going back to church and taking the girls with me.  They love church, and the church we are going to is small and feels very cozy.  Very much like family, rather than just people you see once a week.

I have been on this personal journey of examining my life and how I have caused many problems in my life. 

I want to be a better mother.  I know there isn't any such thing as a perfect mom, but I want to know that I'm "good enough".  Trouble is, we never know as parents if we are doing the right things.  One child will interpret the things you say or do one way, another child will interpret it in the exactly opposite way.  I realized this when I examined closely how my brothers and I grew up.  My mom might say something, to which I would just let it roll off my shoulders, but one brother took it to heart and it hurt him deeply.

I have to pray every day to God to help guide me.  Sometimes I find myself regretting something I have done or said.  The best thing I can do is apologize to my daughter(s) and explain why I believe I was wrong, and what I want to do better. I have explained many times that there is no perfect parent... no matter how great someone else's mom seems, they need to trust that that mother has her own issues and probably gets just as mad or frustrated with her kids  as I can from time to time.  Most of the time I get the biggest thrill from knowing and loving my kids, and they rarely disappoint. 

The completely amazing thing to me is a child's ability to forgive... and to love you anyway.  My children teach me more about what love is than any book can.  And I am humbled by their love. 


I am coming to a better understanding about forgiveness.  I had for years thought that forgiveness meant that I forget about the wrongs done to me.  But that is not what it is about at all.  You can have compassion for and understanding of why someone would hurt you or wrong you.  It doesn't mean you should forget what they did or allow them back into your life without caution.  Having compassion doesn't mean you allow someone to hurt you again and again.  I need to love the people who hurt me, because they wouldn't have been doing the things they do without having had hurts done to them in their past.  Whatever happened to them that led to their rationalizing their bad behavior, their outlook can be changed if they want it to be. 

That is the issue.  If they truly want to change, and are willing to see changes in me, then healing can really begin in relationships.  And then, sometimes, the patterns are so deeply ingrained, we are blinded by our own self-interest or life-experiences that we fail to see the second (and third, or fourth, or fifth) chances that are given to us by the Grace of God.  But one can always hope there will be a time for redemption.

As I said, I'm going through some soul searching and changes, and I'm a slow learner.  But once it is there, once I understand, it takes hold and never lets go.

As I come to a fuller understanding of things, these realizations will be fuller as well.  We all have these journeys to a more complete self - and while I am on mine, I need to keep my heart open to it.