Monthly Archives: April 2013

Let It Be

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Forgiveness. It was a concept I struggled with for a long time. Maybe it was that playing the victim card was just easier. Maybe I believed that forgiveness meant I was saying the person who wronged me was in the clear as far as their actions or attitude. Maybe indignation played a major role in that. The selfish way of seeing life as if you deserve only good, right and positive and how dare anyone tread upon the sacristy of that belief process. For a longtime I carried on my shoulders the weight of a thousand worlds. It was a heavy burden, one filled with a history I was insisting on dragging along with me, keeping me from whatever the potential future had to offer.
It began in small steps. Tentative determination. (An oxy-moron if there ever was one.) A fire in my spirit to make things better….though the possibilities were pretty damn uncertain. It began with a letter written to my ex who is currently serving time in prison. A letter extending forgiveness for something he had done for a solid 18 months of my life. Forgiveness for a journey through violence and rage and fear tactics. Forgiveness for not only the physical scars he left on my body, but also the emotional ones. And not only my own, but my sons who also had tread that storm on the ocean with me. It wasn’t an easy letter to write. I probably ripped up a good half dozen drafts before finally coming to that ultimate peace within myself on it all and mailing it out. He extended back his apology and I accepted it, graciously. Even though the point wasn’t really to gain his apology. It was more about me. More than I first realized.
Recently it was my first husband. I could sit and list all the ways he caused hurt to my sons and myself through his selfishness. But inevitably you must come to a place where you realize every single one of us acts in sheer selfishness at times through this journey. No matter how much we desire to act in utter selflessness, there are moments the flesh is stronger than our spirit. Times the flame dwindles. Times we forget. Forget what grace is all about and how many times we ourselves have been extended that hand of grace and mercy, usually when we truly least deserved it.
So, I stood yesterday on my porch. My eldest son with the phone pressed to his ear talking to the man who had walked out of his life over six years ago. For the first time in 6 years he spoke with him. And honestly , a part of me wanted to yank that phone right out of his hand. As I stood there recalling the struggles and pain my son went through at age 5. The rage he lashed out at me simply because I was the only parent there. I wanted to be indignant. But that isn’t true forgiveness. True, deep, unsurpassable peace doesn’t come from holding on to hurt, but from releasing that which may still rub the wounds raw.
So, I continue this pathway of letting go. Like the Beatles song I want a lyric of on my flesh someday. “Let It Be.” Some things are simply not yours to hold on to anymore. Maybe you were never meant to in the first place.

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For Nick (Who owes me a candy bar….or ten)

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My track history with boys being born into my life actually began in 1988. I was 8 years old. 8 1/2 to be exact. And my mom dropped me off at my Aunts house so she could go to the hospital to have a baby. I wanted to go out for strawberry ice cream. But instead I was dumped at the relatives house so she could pop a baby out of her va jay jay. This kid was already throwing a wrench into my gears. Hours later the phone rang and my aunt answered, got all squeal-ly and then turned to inform me I had a new baby brother. I wasn’t happy. If nothing else, my mom could have at least made me a sister. A sister could have grown up to play with me and be my best friend. I didn’t want a stupid brother. Boys were dumb and annoying. I didn’t even respond. Just turned and walked out of the room in a huff.
That was my first mistake in life. I am fairly certain God saw my attitude and decided the best way to cure my selfish attitude and chagrin towards boys was to make me grow up to exist in a land of nothing but sheer testosterone. I really should have brought my game face that September day back in ’88.
Turns out having a baby brother wasn’t all bad. He was freaking adorable. I liked helping my mom change him and pick out his little outfits. (It was the 80’s. Most of these outfits were stuff like miniature sailor suits and other such cruelties to children.) He had trouble gaining weight as a baby and looked for all the world like an awkward ET. When he first learned how to roll he became a total over achiever and would roll himself completely under the couch. Hidden from view he would lay there hanging out with the dustbunnies while my mom would panic while looking for him, apparently believing a kidnapper had swooped in and snatched up her baby while she was in the bathroom. (This never really was a concern of mine. I was positive of my moms two kids I was the superior, more awesome one and therefore if anyone was going to get kidnapped it would be ME, not stupid ET baby who only knew how to eat, poop and roll under the couch.)
I became the little mommy as Nick grew up. Helping him learn to ride a bike became my sole focus when he was 5 years old. I’d hold the back of the seat of his of his tiny two-wheeler and encourage him to pedal around the empty tennis courts in our apartment complex where the nets had been removed.) I would vow to him that I would never ever not ever let my hand off the back o his seat. He would begin to pedal nervously and I would prove myself a liar. But it wasn’t long before he figured ot the balancing part of it and could ride in circles. His nerves got the best of him with braking though. That was his kryptonite. The brakes. Instead of attempting to utilize the braks he would simply smash head on at full sped into the fence and ricochet off of the bike onto the pavement. Over and over again. It took a lot of band aids before he finally figured out the brakes might actually be a decent option. When he mastered it all we ushered my mom outside to watch and she cheered and clapped along with me. It was the first time I was really proud of my brother.
Being a big sister had a lot of perks. He looked up to me. He adored me. He followed me around. Some perks not so great…..the time he was potty training and I was about 11 years old and was outside with my friends and he swung open the door and stood there in all of his 3 year old glory wearing nothing but a pair of little boy briefs. He hollered out to me “LOOK TONIA! IVE GOT BIG BOY UNDERWEARS ON!!!!!!” Much to my mothers amusment. And must to my total embarrassment. (I was 11. It mortified me.) I got him back though. He peed in those underwear one day while I was babysitting him and my solution was to lock him in the closet til mom got home. (By the way, as a mother, I no longer promote that as being a good potty training technique. It didn’t really help the situation. It only resulted in me getting grounded.)
As I became a teen I discovered the secret of bribery. I was in charge of my brother when my mom was at work. So, after school I would sneak cigarettes and tell my brother if he didn’t tell mom he could have a candy bar. Or I would have friends over or he would catch me kissing a boy out on the porch. Candy bars were my way of keeping his mouth shut. Or so I thought. But after awhile Nick got wise. He would run off and eat his candy bar, then rat me out to mom the second she got home. Over and over that kid threw me under the bus. After eating my chocolate. Little punk.
My brother and I were raised by the same woman in the same home. But man we took different paths. He’s held the same job since he was about 11 minutes old. (Ok, I think he was actually 16 years old. Whatevs.) He went to college, got himself put on the deans list, graduated like a rock star. Me? I made babies. Had a failed marriage. Moved to the mountains. Im far more hippie. We are an odd pair, honestly. I do yoga, he plays videogames. He makes videos on YouTube for his college class. I write poetry in the woods. I used to think we were maybe not actually related. That one of us had been switched at birth. But as we get older I see how linked we truly are. How we share the same kind of sense of humor. How we stand for a lot of the same major issues in life. I se the pictures online of him wearing a tye dye shirt and a hemp necklace and I realize maybe just maybe he may be pretty cool after all. Brother or not. I may not always GET his journey. Just as he may not always get mine. But I am so utterly immensely PROUD of the man he is. (So much so that one of my sons carries his name as a middle name.) I happen to think that that scrawny ET baby has grown up to be a pretty cool, fairly groovy man. Someone I am proud to call not only my brother, but also my friend.

But so help me sweet baby jesus, if I don’t get a few king sized Hershey bars for Christmas this year from him, theres gonna be trouble. He owes me.

Reasons Why Boys ROCK

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People sometimes give me that LOOK of utter pity when they learn I have 6 sons. And although it DOES have its fair share of chaos and noise, being the mom of all boys…..I’d far prefer 6 sons over 6 daughters any day.
I have friends who have daughters. I have babysat little girls. I have a younger sister. One girl…I could probably do. But six? The mere thought of it makes me want to curl up in a corner and hide.
Boys are less drama. That’s a biggie right there. The drama starts so freaking young with little girls. “If you don’t share your Barbie, than you can’t come to my birthday party 4 months from now!” “You’re not my best friend anymore!” etc etc etc Boys? If boys don’t get along they punch each other in the face, then get back to playing. There’s no TIME for all the nonsense drama brings. There are worms to be dug up and stored in moms best butter dish. There are dead field mice to inspect, forts to be built. footballs to be thrown, battles to be won, dogs to chase, walls to scale…..
Girls wil ramble and ramble until your ears bleed. Ask a girl what she did all day and youre bound to hear how her entire day went as well as a whole slew of junk you never wanted to know about.Boys get to the point. Ask a boy how his day went. If you manage to get an actual intelligible WOD out of him, consider yourself blesses. My oldest son grunts a lot. I think he’s part caveman. If I do get a word or two out of him it’s never more than that. A word. Or two.
“How was school?”
“I dunno.”
“What do you mean you don’t know? What did you do? Did you learn anything?”
“Yeah.”
“Well, what did you learn about?”
“I forgot.”
(sigh)
Boys don’t need all that crap that girls require. No training bras. No tights. No makeup. No hair ties or clips or barrettes or scrunchies or headbands or nailpolishes or ten different pairs of tappy shoes that match ten different dresses. No hours spent brushing out snarly hair. (There is a very good reason I have dreadlocks.) My sons can get ready for school in 15 minutes flat. I buzz their hair down every spring as soon as the weather gets warm enough. They go all during the warm season not even having to brush their hair. They look like little soldiers. We manage to make things work with just ONE bathroom in a home with 7 people. Could you imagine doing that with 6 girls???? Fahgedaboutit.
Boys are tough. They can be gushing blood rom their nose and just stroll up all cool and casual asking me for a rag. They don’t freak out. They just want to stop the blood flow as soon as possible so they can get back to whatever it was they were doing that caused the injury in the first place. (Probably jumping off of he roof or attempting to ride their bike over a homemade ramp. )
I know when they are older I’m gonna be real lucky. A houseful of teenage boys (as long as I keep them supplied with pizza and soda ) can be super handy. All those “guy” jobs like mowing the lawn, fixing the pipes, moving furniture…..all that stuff that I do alone right now….someday I will have 6 young men to do all that junk for me. Right now, being a a single parent sucks. But at some point things will shift and I’ll find myself living in a house where my workload will be far lighter and I will have 6 tough young men to protect me. 🙂
Right now? Right now they are really good about doling out the love and snuggles and kisses. They bring me wildflowers. (or in thecase of the 4 year old, just the heads of the flowers….how do you put THAT in a vase?) They compliment me all of the time. They are sweet and loyal and funny and smart and simply awesome.
That’s why I can forgive them when I pull a dead slug out of their pants pocket while doing the laundry.
That’s just life with boys.

Conformity Is For Losers (Or: I’m STILL An Awesome Mom, so suck on it.)

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When I was 2 1/2 I was downright terrified of monsters. I had convinced my overactive already ADHD-addled brain that they lurked under my bed and in my dark closet. So, to conquer these fears I made up an imaginary friend. He just happened to be this MASSIVE furry huge-toothed growly, grumbly, snarly monster. His name was Monster. (I was nothing if not creative at that age.) But he wasn’t a bad guy. Monster was chill. He loved to give me hugs. He shared my crayons and he hung out in the bathroom while I took a bath and brushed my teeth. WHY did I choose to have a monster friend when I was scared of monsters? (I know, I know, some therapist someplace will try to explain something about humanizing my fear in order to make it easier to deal with. But that’s just dumb. You cant humanize a monster. Monsters are MONSTERS. Psshh.)

Anyway. Wanna know why?
Because I have always been a bit of a rebel at heart. Ask my mom. She knows. That poor woman FINALLY gave up a couple years ago on trying to understand me. She just tells peoples “That’s my daughter. She looks weird, she acts nuts, but she uis a good person at heart and an awesome mom. So, suck it.”
No. My mom doesn’t say that. I don’t think my mom has ever said suck it in her life. But she does listen to Lil Wayne now so there is some sort of odd mid-life crisis thing going on there…..but that’s for another blog.
Anyway, I have always bucked the system. Go ahead and try to tell me I CAN’T do something. I WILL prove you wrong. My teeny 5 foot tall hundred pound frame has moved heavy ass furniture all by myself many times, thankyouverymuch. I have never had the patience to follow the masses. They walk too damn slow anyway. Im stuck in the bak trying to jump up and see over everyones heads. So, screw that. Screw conformity. Why bother?
Who says a “good” mom walks around all day knitting sweaters and wearing an apron? Who says I have to speak and act a certain way and only ever discuss the absorbency of diapers and the color and frequency of my toddlers poop? Why does THAT make me a good mom?
And who says a bad mom can be picked out of a crowd merely on the basis of what color her hair is or how many tattoos she has or how many piercings she has?
I am a mom. A damn GOOD one. I don’t ask for your approval on that statement. I KNOW I am. My sons have their needs met. They go to school everyday in clean, ironed clothes. (Yeah, I iron. How many of you can say THAT? I even starch and iron our pillowcases, mm’kay?) I spend quality time with my sons daily. We discuss politics, world events, morals, career and college plans for their future, religion. My boys wont date until they are at least 16. And then, they wont date unless it is serious because I teach them dating is for seeking a potential lifelong mate. I don’t hit my kids. Ever. I try very hard not to yell at them. (sometimes there is no way around THAT rule, though. Im one person and there are 6 of them.)
But guess what? I also dress the way I choose to. This means lots of peasant skirts, bare feet and tank tops. Tye dye stuff. Sparkly stuff. Hemp jewelry. Mushrooms. peace signs. beads. dreadlocks. rainbow hued nailpolish. hair in a new color every couple of months or so. a nose piercing. I like to dance. In my livingroom. In my yard. I blast out the Mumford and Sons or Beth Hart or Beatles and I groove with the kids on the porch. My entire bedroom looks like a den for a buncha pothead hippies. I eat mainly raw vegan foods. I pick flowers and grow herbs (the legal kind, guys. Chill.) and cook organic meals for my sons that contain stuff you probably have never even heard of. Im hyper at times, silly, goofy, wild. I make up demented dance moves while I cook dinner and showcase them to my kids. (who are oddly never as impressed as I am with myself) I burn incense. I promote the legalization of medical marijuana.
Stick all that together and what do you have?
An assumption that Im a pure hippie who stays stoned all day.(Trust me, Ive heard the rumors.)
Guess what?
I. Don’t. Even. Smoke. Pot.
I don’t. I don’t like how disconnected and paranoid it makes me feel. I tried it a few times years ago and I was unimpressed. I don’t drink either. I don’t party. I don’t even HAVE a social life outside of FaceBook. And I refuse to call THAT a social life because then Im gonna look like a huge nerd. Next step would be to say “Books are my friends!”
(they kinda are though.)
I work all day everyday at keeping this house organized and clean. I homeschool my 4 & 5 year old sons. I read out loud every night to my boys and pray with them before bed. I work my ASS off. (Yeah, I said ass. Its in the bible so it doesn’t make me a bad mom.)
I take this mom gig real seriously. I just tend to do it all while marching to my own beat.
Guess what? You cant judge a book by its cover.
I know. I know. That’s deep. I just made that up. Im very wise. Like Buddha. Or Yoda.
Seriously. You can’t. Because if you walk around doing that stupid crap you might just miss out on meeting some very awesome folks. I have friends (yeah, on Facebook. So what? Shut up) who look/live/act/speak NOTHING like I do. But guess what? These folks have all impacted my life in very big, very real ways. Some of them are now listed as my “family” on Face book because of that trait. The trait of “different than me.” And maybe Im different than you. But newsflash: We Are All Different Than Each other.
But we all share something in common too.
So, try ignoring the stuff you may not understand and look deeper. There might just be a little bit of you in me. And a little bit of me in you. 🙂
(Scary thought.)
So, to sum up.
Conformity is for losers.
And despite my appearance, my attitude, my political agenda, my religious beliefs, my dance moves (no. wait. maybe that last one should be BECCAUSE of) I am STILL an awesome mom, so suck on it.

“How DO you do it?” (Intro to our family Chore Chart)

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I get asked that question often. When folks find out I have six kids and the first thing they blurt out is “How DO you do it?” Usually followed by some question of my sanity.

Yes, having a large family can be very busy, hard work, a bit chaotic at times. But the key to keeping things running smoothly is in making it clear to my children from an early age that we are ALL part of a family and we all need to help each other and work together as a well oiled machine. (Yes, I give my kids pep talks about this.)

Once a week, on Sunday evenings, we hold Family Meetings. We sit and discuss rules, chores, concerns, grievances, etc…. Each person has the opportunity to speak and we all respect that right. Keeping open communication is key! It also gives me a chance to find out what kind of choers my boys are willing to do and whether any of them have a complaint regarding a chore. I try very hard to respect them in that because I know if they HATE a chore, its goingto turn into a fight. You might think this would lead to me being a pushover and them being lazy, but you would be surprised how kids are usually willing to work and help when given the chance to act as adults and choose to do so instead of being FORCED.

Below is a copy of our Chore Chart. This is just an example of what works for us. We tweak it from time to  time. But here is where it stands thus far. Keep in mind, my kids are Z-12, A-10, B-8, C-5, D-4. The baby is exempt. He’s busy simply being cute right now. 😉

FAMILY CHORE CHART

Daily: All boys: Make beds, Keep personal belongings picked up and put away, clear/rinse dishes from table after meals

Monday:

Z-Pick up yard/porch (toys away, pick up loose sticks/rocks, sweep porch)

A-Vacuum boys bedrooms

B-Clean bathroom (toilet/sink/tub, empty trash, sweep/mop)

C-wipe down kitchen table/chairs after dinner

D-gather all laundry, put in main hamper

 

Tuesday:

Z-Vacuum boys bedrooms

A-Feed/water pets

B-Wash dishes after dinner

C-pick up yard/porch

D-dusting

 

Wednesday:

Z-Clean bathroom

A-Wash dishes

B- Vacuum boys rooms

C- feed/water pets

D-pick up yard/porch

 

Thursday:

Z-Feed/water pets

A-clean bathroom

B-pick up yard/porch

C-gather laundry and put in main hamper

D-sweep hallway

 

Friday:

Z-dishes

A-clean windows/mirrors

B-dusting

C-vacuum boys rooms

D-wipe down kitchen table/chairs

 

Saturday:

Z-make all beds(new sheets/pillowcases/blankets)

A-pick up yard/porch

B-feed/water pets

C-sweep hallway

D-strip beds (sheets/pillowcases)

 

I know moms who are pulling their hair out every day trying to run around picking up after their childrens messes. Doing so is doing a major disservice for your children. They need to learn to be independent, to know how to do basic skills as adults. It is OUR job as parents to teach them how when they are young!  I have always started my sons at age 18 months doing chores. Its simply a way of life for them. And this chore chart doesn’t include the fact that at times I have to ask one of the older boys to change a diaper while I am cooking a meal or help prepare dinner, etc……

The only way to keep a large family away from sheer and utter chaos and clutter is if all of the members work together. So, THAT’S how I do it. 🙂

When The Lightkeepers Get Lost In The Dark

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He was a Pastor for 25 years of one of the most well-populated churches in the town. His sermons were heard on the local FM radio stations every Sunday morning. He was like a Father or Brother to so many. I can still hear his voice encouraging me, preaching the word, saying “Well, alright, Tonia.” to me every single time after I sang a solo in church. He was a father of two, a husband of one, a good man to all. And he loved God. And he knew the bible. And he killed himself last week.
I don’t even know where to go from that point. How to write anything more after that sentence.
Pastor Ed Trull was loved by so many people, myself included. But I stop and wonder how much of that love he was possibly unaware of.
You see, there are two types of love we all require, and we al, at one point or another, will come to doubt a bit in our own lives. One is Gods love for us. The other is peoples love for us. Im not talking peoples approval or popularity or any of that. I am talking honest to goodness, someone really gives a crap about you enough to give of thier time and energy to keep you in their life. True CARING.
The first love, Gods…..well, those times when we doubt it….that’s our own issue. Because He never fails. Never has, never will. Even when we have ourselves convinced he is light years away and doesn’t care at all and maybe doesn’t even exist. Well, I’ll tell ya, God doesn’t need you to approve of His existence in order to exist. And He never stops loving us.
So, if Ed struggled at all with feeling like he had slipped out of the loving embrace of our Father, that was an unfortunate belief in a lie. Even in his darkest moment when he accepted defeat and left this earth, God was still loving Ed.
But that other love? That one about others? That’s a tough pill to swallow right now. Because it leaves me looking in a mirror wondering how I failed. I just wrote a few days ago about why I live my life to show others they are loved and that they matter. And here in front of me lies the pieces of another broken life. Suicide wrenches my heart so violently. Because my entire purpose in living, aside of my sons, is to share love, to make a difference, to make sure those around me do not feel alone and hopeless. Ken died with a belief in his heart that no one cared and no one would notice if he died. I have made it my determined mission in life that any person I come in contact with knows they are worth so much more than they may realize, that they are treasured, valued and cherished.
Did we do enough? As a family of Christians? As a community? Did we recognize the struggles in his heart? Did we take the time to ask how HE was, instead of just inundating him with OUR problems? Did we SEE him as a man, and not just as the label of preacher that he wore?
Who is there around you? Who do you come in contact with every day? Every week? Those folks who seem to have it all together. The ones who you know people (maybe even yourself) can rely on because they seem to know all of the answers. Maybe we need to start asking “How are YOU doing?” And then maybe we need to stand still, make eye contact, offer a reassuring smile and actually listen to their reply. Show them we care. Show them we see them and hear them.
Im not saying anyone failed Pastor Ed. I am sure many people, especially his family, are struggling with hurt and guilt right now. I in no way mean to exacerbate that. I only am saying how this tragedy got me thinking, how suicides make me feel.
We need to begin to wake up and realize no one is immune to hurt. No one is safe from the darkness of depression or self doubt or anxiety. We are all in this together. We need to begin to hold onto one anothers hand. To seek help when we need it and not be ashamed because no one is immune to hurting. And when we are out in the light and things seem A-Okay, we really ought to reach our hand back and fish around in the darkness til we find a hand to clasp and help pull it back out with us to the light. We are called to be brothers and sisters in humanity. To love one another.
Jesus Himself said it best, narrowed it down to two basic principles of living after knocking all the other junk to the floor.
“Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, mind and soul. And love your neighbor as yourself. ”
Go tell someone you love them. Because you never know when they might so desperately NEED to hear those words.

My Reason Why

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“Sometimes an ending can be an origin.”
I heard that quote recently and it struck through my heart like an arrow of steel. Because I could recognize the truth in it like an old familiar friend.
You see, life never goes quite the way we plan it in our head. Sure, we can set stuff down on paper, or even chisel it into stone. But still when we look back at the turns along the way, we can see clearly where we ventured a good distance from the path intended in our minds.
I told my fiancé once that I would most certainly die if he ever died. I didn’t just say it to be cheesy. I truly could not imagine taking one single solitary step through this journey without him by my side. It was like I had walked in shadows and he had strolled through carrying the sun in his hands. Who wants to go back to the shadows? I meant it when I said it.
But then a few months later he unexpectedly died.
And guess what?
I’m still here.
That felt like a giant betrayal at first. I walked around for many months with a major weight of guilt on my heart. Ihad not kept my word. I had continued to exist. Had taken steps forward. Was leaving him behind. I played old conversations over and over in my head. I forced my mind to tell me every single inch of his body, of his face…..so afraid one day I would forget his face, the crinkles around his eyes when he smiled, the curve of his hand in mine, the scar on his eyebrow……I stayed stuck because it was the closest I could come to keeping my promise. (I couldn’t keep my promise to him, not with my sons to stay here for.)
But gradually I began to realize….
He wouldn’t have wanted this. He always believed in my strength even when I doubted myself. How dare I let him down this way?
So, I made a very purposeful decision to begin to make a difference in this world. To honor his memory with my living.
It started as a month long challengeto myself. I wrote about it on FB one day. (You can find it in my notes section on my personal page.) I would do one small random act of kindness each day. A sort of human-experiment, if you will.
The funny thing is, I think it changed MY heart, and touched me, more than any of the seemingly-small gestures changed and touched anyone else.
I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I started to see how much I truly had to offer. I came to a startling realization that I MATTERED. Just a simple hug or encouraging letter or silly picture posted to someones wall on FB…..just the time taken to say “I care.” ….it turns out we as people don’t require much more than this.
Someone asked me recently WHY do I bother helping others? Why doI take the time? Why do I care so deeply? Why shed tears for people I don’t know? Why pray so hard for people I will probably never meet?
Well, you see, my fiancé, who passed away? Well, when I met him he was homeless. Had been for many months. He was a severe alcoholic. Would lose touch with his family for such long spans of time that they would scan the internet in fear of stumbling across some death notice of him at worst. I gave him a place to live at first. Opened my home. Offered him meals. Washed his clothes. Bought him soap and deodorant and boxers. The simple gesture turned into a friendship which evolved into a relationship which eventually did lead to my suffering (and surviving) the most devastating loss of my life. BUT…..what if? What if I hadn’t offered him that kindness in the first place?
I believe , it was inevitable that he would pass away. I believe in fate and I believe he was led into my life for a reason. If I had turned away, he would have died alone. His family may not have found out about it for many months…if ever. (It was due to my presence that he healed his relationship with his father and began talking to both of his parents regularly on the phone. In fact, he spoke with his father for the last time the day he died.) He carried no form of identification in his wallet. All he had in his wallet were photos of myself and the boys, and a love note I had written him. It is because of the kindness I lent to him in the first place that led to the point where I travelled to Ohio from NC to sit in his mothers dining room and fill his family in on his life over the past few years, and give them some sense of completion and closure and peace. It is a gift I am so utterly grateful to have been able to give. Because of small kindness that began that portion of my journey with Ken, he died knowing he was loved. Ken had a very bad sense of self…..he said to me just a couple of weeks before he died, that he figured if he died no one would bother coming to his funeral. It breaks my heart to know he felt that way. But the day he died…..my boys covered him with kisses and hugs. One of them told him he was the “best Daddy ever.” as he walked out that door. I literally jumped up in his arms, wrapped myself around him, and kissed him goodbye. I had hidden little love notes all around the house a week earlier. (96 of them) and he had found about half of them. After he died I kept finding them everywhere. The last text I sent him, about 10 minutes before his death said “I love you.” You see? He was misplaced, lost and alone when I first met him. And sure, I could have saved myself some heartache if I had walked on by. But because I didn’t…. Because I took the time to CARE, he left this earth knowing he mattered, he was loved, he MEANT SOMETHING.
So, the next time you ask me why I work so hard to make a difference, to help a person, to donate a thing or some time, why I give unconditionally of myself, why I love so fully, even if it means I get hurt a bit in the process? My answer is this:
Because you just never know. You never know until you look back, what direction life can spin you in and where you may end up landing. I wouldn’t change a THING if I could. Id walk straight through that hell fire of grief and shadows all over again tomorrow if it meant he died knowing he was loved. I’d do it for anyone.
Part of a poem by Shane Koyscrow reads:
“How can the sacrifice of faith belong to anything less than the virtue it takes to break ones own heart to ease another’s descent into madness? How can anyone dismiss love as if it wasn’t the only reason to risk EVERYTHING, knowing full well you can’t bring them back?”

Dear World, (If you think you know me….)

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Dear World,
You know me. I’m that crazy hippie chick with the ten hundred children. (Well, six, but same difference.)
I don’t really owe anyone any apologies nor any explanation. I am writing this because I think some stuff needs to be made real clear.
First of all, I don’t regret my life nor the choices I have made up to this point. Not one bit. I know living in this small Southern town there are quit a few ladies here who got regnant at 15, and then popped out a few more by different baby daddies every year or so…The thing is, I was about years old when I decided more than anything I wanted to be a MOM. BY age 14 I knew I wanted a large family. At least 6 kids. My main goal in life was to be a wife and a mother. Maybe this sounds shallow or old fashioned or oppressed. But it is not. For me, it has always been an honorable calling. I do not have regret. I don’t feel like my children take away my freedom. There is zero appeal to me to go out and party and act like an idiot. In fact, I find it really hard to respect anyone over the age of 23 who talks about getting “wasted”. I don’t feel that I have wasted my life up to this point. On the contrary, I feel quite accomplished to have raised 6 boys to this point. I love being home with my kids. I love when we all pile onto my bed and I read to them, sharing them all of my childhood favorite chapter books. I love making playdough for them to play with, or baking homemade cookies for an afternoon snack. I love being a mom and every part of it. Are there days I get a little unsure and overwhelmed? Sure. What parent doesn’t? But if you have this vision of me pulling my hair out while living in a chaotic, messy house….please delete that image. In fact, my OCD keeps this house at a pretty even keel as far as organization. My motto here is “Everything in it’s place.” We have family meetings. We have house rules. We have a routine. My boys respond with a yes mam/ no mam. We do time outs and verbal apologies and written apologies. I don’t have to hit my kids to get them to listen. We do faith and love and laughter and natural consequences. If any of this offends you, I’m sorry. But its what works for our family. Splendidly.
Dave is my second husband. I heard the demented rumor in this town after my first husband left me. He tried to take the blame off of himself by going around telling everyone I was having an affair and doing/selling/making meth. False on both accounts. In fact, both accusations are laughably ridiculous at best. Fact is, he took advantage of a young (18) naïve girl who was coming into a large cash settlement from a car wreck she had been in. He left me pregnant with our fourth, knocked up the girlfriend, and eventually left her as well. He has not paid a dime of child support in about 6 years. (Only reason he paid it before was because the girlfriend paid it FOR him.) He has had zero contact with his sons in 6 years. He is a deadbeat dad. The ending of my marriage destroyed me for a good amount of time. I took myt vows very seriously and the failure aspect of it really crushed me. This is my second marriage and I take my vows no less seriously. I don’t cheat on my husband. Ever. If you message me on FB trying to get that to happen I will block you and tell my husband about it. I keep no secrets from him. I respect my husband. I honor him with my actions. I do not act like a whore or lie to him. I cook him meals he likes. I wash, fold and put away his clothes. I do my best to be sure he comes home to a tidy home every day. I do my best to make sure I look nice when he gets home. Because he works hard every day so he deserves to come home to a peaceful place and a pretty wife. I know some women will get all riled up over that. But that’s because some women are hypocrites. We want men to treat us with respect and love and honor but we wont make the effort required for a man to WANT o treat us that way. You cant act like a lazy hoe and expect to be treated like a princess. Fact. I don’t do men bashing. I won’t sit in a huddle with other women talking crap about men. I find it really offensive that we are okay with women talking about hitting men. In my opinion, its just as disrespectful as a man talking about hitting a woman. If you want to act like a slut, dress like one, do a halfass job cleaning the house….don’t expect to find a great man who will treat you like a queen. I respect my man because of all that he dos. My job is to take care of this home and these kids. I don’t get women who are stay at home moms and expect the men to do half the housework after putting in a full day at work. The fact my husband DOES pitch in without being asked just means he is awesome. I don’t expect it. And I thank him for his help.
I LIKE being a stay at home mom. I don’t want to go get a career and put my kids in day care. I love teaching my sons. I love raising them. I love the fact I am lucky enough to be able to stay home with my sons. I get to see first steps, first words, etc…. I believe in home schooling, breastfeeding, bed sharing, attachment parenting, etc….. I had these kids to be WITH them. I LOVE all aspects of it. Don’t pity me. This is my dream come true. Mm’kay?
I don’t give a crap about name brand clothes or fancy dinners out. Seriously. I prefer to live simply. I think financial waste is a crying shame. I think people who buy STUFF instead of spending time with their kids are doing it backwards. If your kid has every new video game device/toy/etc, but you cannot recall the last time you went outside and played a game of ball or something with them….then you need to think about priorities. My kids don’t have a lot of “stuff.” There is a reason for that. Because I want to build memories with them. I want to teach them a standard of living they pass on to their own kids. I want to teach them values. My boys wear hand me downs. They build forts outside and make up elaborate games of imagination. When they hear of a child in need they will bring their favorite toys to donate. They are being raised to put a value on people, not things. As it should be. Don’t pity me because I cant take my kids to the Fun Factory or buy them a bunch of stupid useless electronic crap. I take my boys on hikes, camping, we do craft projects, we have traditions for holidays…I am abundantly blessed. My life rocks.
So, to sum it up. I CHOSE this life. I LOVE this life. I carry no regrets. I love how lucky I truly am. Every day. I love my homemade tye dyed curtains. I love the fact instead of a livingroom we have turned that room into my husband and mines room (shared with the baby) and it is essentially the family room. I love that we all hang out in there and watch movies and read and play and laugh and chat. People walk into my house and see a mattress on the floor in the “livingroom” and feel sorry for me and ask if I need a couch. I laugh. No. You cant pile all these kids on a couch. The mattress is on the floor so the baby can climb on and off without getting hurt. I HAD a gorgeous black steel frame for this bed. I donated it. I had a couch. Matching chair. Donated that too. Donated a lot of crap recently in this house to make more room for the PEOPLE. For wrestling matches and pillow fights and hide and seek and duck,duck goose and Twister. Eventually it will all be packed away and stuck in storage so we can take a year long road trip, live like gypsies, see a portion of this world and taste life every single day. Because life is about experiences and love. Not mortgage and working to pay into taxes all your life. The only regret I could ever carry is looking back and realizing I failed to connect with the people in my life. That is all.

25 Random Things You May Not Know About Me

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1) I have social anxiety disorder. Which means I have the ability to be witty and at ease on a social networking site, but in a face-to-face situation I am a mess of panic and insecurities inside of myself. I’m just a master at hiding it at this point.
2) I used to want to be a professional dancer when I was younger. I would practice my dance for hours and hours. I still dream of someday owning a home with room enough for a dance room with mirrors and a barre. 🙂
3) I can wiggle my ears, wiggle my nose and am double jointed in my elbows. All of these are useless. But my kids think I am awesome because of these odd quirks.
4) I tend to over think and second guess my blog topics. So, this blog is just an easy out instead of tackling a controversial subject.
5) I have a fear of deep water. I didn’t learn how to swim until I was 21 and I made my first husband teach me how to swim in case my son ever needed rescuing. Drowning actually seems to be a thing in my life. My uncle died when he was a young boy by drowning after falling through thin ice, my little brothers friend drowned when he was 7 years old and my fiancé drowned 2 years ago. Taking my kids to the beach last summer helped me face my biggest fear: that I would lose one of them that way.
6) I know how to yodel.
7) I write poetry. I have books and books filled with poetry. I’m just too chicken to share very much of it. I plan on starting to do that once a week on this blog.
8) Even though I am a hippie and I am very outspoken in my stance on legalizing marijuana, I actually don’t smoke it myself.
9) I was born and bred a Yankee. 🙂 I’m from New England, but have lived in the South for 7 years now. I love it here, and find the moutains to be stunning. But I still call North HOME (specifically Rhose Island) and I miss living near the beach so very much.
10) My dream is to someday have an outdoor, unassisted birth. I’ve done my last 5 pregnancies unassisted and had my last three labors at home up until a half hour or less before my babies were born. (My last son was born 15 minutes after I got to the hospital)
11) 13 is my lucky number. I also love black cats. And broken mirrors make awesome craft project materials. 🙂
12) I believe in God. I do not believe in judging others.
13) I can throw a pretty mean spiral with a football and I’ve got pretty good aim with a basketball and I love using a bow for target practice.
14) I have SPD. (Sensory Processing Disorder ) This means I get overwhelmed by chaos at times, noises are amplified in my head and certain sensations totally wig me out. (Like cold air, wet clothes, someone tapping my shoulder to get my attention)
15) I am currently reading “She’s Come Undone” by Wally Lamb. A must read for all women. It’s one of my favorites.
16) I have had a huge girl crush on Christina Ricci since I was 14 years old and saw her in Mermaids.
17) I have an obsessive love of literary tattoos. But I am a giant wuss about needles and therefore have NONE. (yet)
18) I don’t really think Johnny Depp is all that great looking. I never saw Magic Mike. I never read 50 Shades of Grey. I hate Nicholas Sparks books. (I may actually be a dude……)
19) My eyes change color depending on my mood. My son Baileys do that too.
20) Bailey and I also share matching birthmarks, both of us have the same shaped birthmark on our ribs in the exact same spot. My son Aidan has the same birthmark as his dad.
21) I can speed-read and speed-talk.
22) I’ve never been able to speak Pig Latin with any degree of fluency. I consider this to be my greatest failure as a human being and I shall put it as such on my tombstone.
23) I want to be cremated so I won’t really have a tombstone.
24) Speaking of tombstones, I consider two places on earth to be the most peaceful: Old cemetaries and old abandoned houses. I explore both as often as possible.
25) This blog took way longer to write than I expected. I am far more lame than I thought I was and coming up with 25 even SLIGHTLY interesting facts was darn near impossible.