Children Are Magical

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I promised to share the AMAZING story about how Gracie knows her daddy.  As I have said before, Gracie was only 15 months when my husband passed away.  My last picture taken of Ryan was with her.  They were walking hand and hand in our back yard the day before (she was 15 months that day).  I knew, and it killed me inside, that this little baby would never have the pleasure of remembering this wonderful man who would have done anything in his power to protect her. The man who she had wrapped around her little fingers would never be remembered.  I remember speaking of this pain at Ryan’s memorial service and I promised him that she would grow up to know her daddy.  But this AMAZING thing began to happen and thanks to this, Gracie “knows” her daddy.

One afternoon I had put Gracie upstairs for a nap.  My other children were at outside playing.  I was straightening up and on the monitor I kept hearing Gracie giggle over and over.  I was starting to get frustrated because I needed her to sleep and knew she was tired.  I let her go.  The giggling continued and then I heard her say “Dada”.  My heart stopped.  I froze.  She said it again, “Dada” and just was giggling her little heart out.  So I took a deep breathe and went upstairs to her room.  There Gracie was standing in her crib as happy as could me.  I looked at her and told her she had to lay down and go “night-night.”  She turned and started giggling to the right- side of me.  Then she looked at me and said “Dada”.  I was shaking.  Why is she saying “dada” and giggling over and over.  Something told me to ask.  I know I sound like I lost my mind but I had to ask.  I looked at her and said “Is Dada here?” and she smiled the biggest and brightest smile and again looked to the right of me.  Of course I saw nothing.  I didn’t sense him (I had a few times).  I couldn’t believe I was talking to my little girl and asking about her dead father.  Again, I came right out and asked, “Is Dada here?” and she shook her head yes.  I was about to lose it.  I took a deep breathe and asked, “Gracie, where is Dada?” and she pointed to my right side.  I asked a few more times and each time she would point to the same spot and smile.  So officially, losing my mind, I asked if I should tickle him.  She shook her head yes.  I turned to my right and began to tickle the area where she kept pointing to.  Gracie began hysterically laughing!  I asked her, “Is Daddy laughing at Mommy?” and again she acknowledged with with a nod and looked once again to the same spot.  So I did what any sane mom would do and I simply said, “Daddy, Gracie needs to take a nap.  You need to let her sleep.”  I watched Gracie look and then she laid down and went to sleep.  I ran into my room and sobbed!  I was blown away at what had just happened and tried to understand how and why could Gracie see him?  Why couldn’t I see or talk to him?

This was the only time that I was ever with her when something like this happened.  As she got older, Gracie would tell us stories of how her and daddy went on walks.  She was VERY descriptive.  She would use words that he would say.  She told many stories of the adventures (yes she used the word adventures) they would go on.  The stories were very similar to things my husband had done with my older children.  Gracie is very clear that it is at night.  She has described his house and her bedroom in heaven as well as saying that he is with his brother (yes my in laws have loss 2 of their 3 children) who passed away from an illness when we were 20 years old.  This was extremely comforting to my mother-in-law as you can imagine.

My older children as well as myself, have not had any dreams of my husband. Ella and Hunter would just sit and listen as Gracie would tell us about what her and daddy did or things daddy liked.  Later in reading articles about people who have experienced the same things as Gracie, I learned how our deceased loved ones are able to come to children, especially young children, because their hearts/minds are more open.  I had all this confirmed by a medium (a whole other post).  She confirmed the events of that afternoon as well as many others I was not aware of.  Ryan had come to Gracie on several occasions since his passing.  According to her, he is with me all the time but because I am so distraught, I am not able to see him or hear him.  We have several photos where there are orbs.  My children will see them and say “oh there’s daddy”.

Many are skeptical of crossing over and being in touched with loved ones who have passed on.  I respect everyone’s views and I wasn’t sure of my feelings either until that afternoon.  For me, I have enough “proof”. I am so happy that he has helped me with Gracie by coming to her and creating memories.  I pray every night that he watches over us and keeps us safe.  I talk to him and ask, sometimes beg, for him to let me know he is with me.  And maybe I am still just too distraught to feel his presence, but I truly would love it.  As my children are getting older, his memory is fading in their little minds.  But I find it comforting that if they are open to it, he can come to them and help them remember.  Children truly are magical.

Just lending an ear

I’ve been asked a few times by some friends to reach out to others who are in a similar position as me.  A lot of them have young children and have no idea where to go or how to begin to help their children deal with the death of their parent.  I am always willing to reach out and try to offer some support but mostly an understanding ear.

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It is one event, like many others, that unless you have walked in that person’s shoes, you truly have no understanding of what they are going through.  And just like with other events, everyone reacts and handles it in different ways.  But I know it is comforting to talk with someone who just gets it.  When I lost my husband I was fortunate to have the widow of one of his childhood friends to speak to about experiencing such a loss.  She had become a widow a year and a half earlier and shortly after discovered she was pregnant with their first and only child.  I have the chills as I type this because I remember her telling me how her late husband had told her he would never leave her alone.  And a month later she discovered she was pregnant. We sat one afternoon and talked and I remember listening to her describe the things she had gone through especially the 1st year and telling me how the 2nd year is harder.  She referred to us as being a part of this “club” that no one should ever have to be in.  I hold that afternoon’s conversation very close to my heart.  It was the first time someone completely understood what I was feeling.  I knew that I would love to be able to do that for anyone else who was unfortunate to join this “club”.

When I have spoken to others I truly just listened to them.  Everyone’s loss is different.  Some, like one friend, his wife died of cancer.  Then others, were like mine, the death was unexpected.  My friend that lost his wife is left raising 3 girls close to my children’s ages.  He said it best “No one gets it.”  He, like all parents, was so worried about his girls.  They were starting to react to the loss now that the shock had worn off.  I just listened as he spoke of his girls and the struggles he faced from learning to do their hair for dance recitals to cooking.  I wasn’t sure if I helped him but I know it helped me to know that I could be there even if it was to just listen.  So what did I share?  I just shared what I have and am continuing to learn through my own process.

The thing with children and grief is they are so resilient.  They continue their daily lives, for the most part, normal.  They grieve differently.  They may not cry or they may cry all the time.  They may talk about the parent they lost and want to know as much as they can about how they died.  They may just keep it all in like my oldest has done for so long.  But I think the one thing that is guaranteed to help them while they grieve is to just be there for them.  Take the time to listen to them.  Take the time to understand that they are individuals.  Just because we are sad all the time or cry all the time, doesn’t mean they have to as well.  But this is what is so hard for the parent left behind to understand.  This is what makes us begin to worry and doubt ourselves…are we doing enough or are they OK.

It is, also, important to remember that each child is different.  They may have lost the same parent but they will grieve in their own way too.  Ella keeps it all in and will only share with me, in private and on her own terms, her feelings.  She has only cried to me about her loss.  For months she always referred to Ryan is the present tense.  Hunter, on the other hand, is very open about his feelings.  When he misses his daddy, he lets everyone know and cries.  This is beginning to change now that he is older but by far he is more open with his grief.  And Gracie, she just knows her daddy through us and dreams she has of him (this is a whole other AMAZING post I will share).  But she talks about her daddy like she truly remembers him.

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I do recommend Maria Shriver’s book What’s Heaven (Maria Shriver & Sandra Speidel).  It beautifully explains what happens to a person when they die.  It helps a child understand that our loved one’s spirit never truly dies.  It is always with us.  Whether you believe in Heaven or not, it truly helped me explain to my own children the very confusing concept of where their daddy went after he died.  There are many resources out there at our finger tips to help children begin to heal.  I simply searched on various sites for children’s books. I haven’t had to use some that I have purchased and I may never have to.  But I wanted to educate myself.

If you know someone who is grieving, the BEST thing you can do is to lend an ear.  Listen and let them talk about their loss.  You may feel like you are not helping but you are helping more than you know.

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Why Now?

Why Now?

I find myself asking this question on a daily basis lately.  Life has a way of challenging you.  Life has a way of making you look long and hard at yourself.  Life has a way of helping you realize things have changed or need to change.  You make a choice and move on but then all of a sudden the same challenge appears out of no where…why now?

When life throws these things out to you, you have to make the choice as to how you will face them.  Finding my voice has helped me during these times.  I made my decisions to move on because I didn’t deserve to be treated that way or made to feel I did something wrong.  Does it make it any easier of a decision?  Absolutely not.  I still feel.  I still care.  But I needed to do what was best for me.  And yet it the curve ball is thrown back…why now?

I am a firm believer in owning your responsibility in all you do.  If I treat someone unfairly, I will own it.  If I hurt someone whether it was intentional or not, I own it.  If I had anything to do with any conflict in my life, I own it.  But not everyone is like that when it comes to dealing with life’s curve balls.  So that is when I needed to make a choice…

Is this how I want to be treated?  Is this good for me and my life?  Is this it worth the effort even when it brings me pain?

The choice was made for ME and what was best for ME.   I moved on and moved forward because it is best for ME.  And yet I still ask ….Why Now?

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Bonjour!

DSCN0451Our Hotel

We are experiencing the first true winter in a couple of years here in Pennsylvania.  We haven’t had these cold temperatures in a long time.  So as I am warming up under my heated blanket and watching mindless TV, I find my mind wondering.  I am thinking about places I have been so fortunate to visit.  My absolute favorite place and a place I NEVER thought I would ever visit is Paris.  It will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the 1st trip, since becoming parents, Ryan and I went on alone.  It was always a dream of ours to go back one day.

DSCN0452The Louvre

I will admit, the way we spent our time in Paris was amazing and our experience was magical, but we would have never been able to do what we did, stayed where we stayed if it wasn’t a trip Ryan earned through his company.  The year I was pregnant with Hunter, he had one of his best years in his company.  He ended the year as the no#1 sales rep in his district.  There I was 7 1/2 months pregnant and Ryan looked at me and said, “We’re going to Paris!”  My heart skipped a beat, raced, and sank all at the same time.  I was so excited for him.  He worked so hard and deserved it this trip.  But the thought of leaving my babies was killing my hormonal self.  But I have never looked back and regretted it.  I left a 2-year-old and 9 week old and flew across the ocean to the most beautiful place with the love of my life.

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I can see the Eiffel Tower.  I can see the Opera House.  I can see the cafes. There was nothing more magical than walking the streets of Paris with the person you love and experiencing it for the first time.  We would sit outside and enjoy lunch and later some wine.  We celebrated the summer solstice there….music was everywhere.  I think of that every June 21st.  I got to have dinner in the Palace of Versailles.  I tour champagne country.  I was truly blessed with an amazing and once in a lifetime experience.

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So let the Polar Vortex come because I will enjoy daydreaming, under my heated blanket, and think of my once in a lifetime trip.

DSCN0562Once in a lifetime dinner at Versailles

True You

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Genuine~Loyal~Fun~Supportive~Dependable~Humble

These are just a few words I hold dear to my heart and the type of person I set out to be.  These are a few words I try to instill in my children as well.  These are a few words I look for in people who eventually become friends.  These are a few words that seem to be lacking in our society anymore.  It makes being this type of person extremely hard and even harder to teach children to strive to be as they grow into their own person.

Why are these values not as important in our society anymore?  There is so much competition in our society to be the best and to have the best.  But does this make us the best person we can be?  For me it doesn’t.  I don’t care where a person went to school, what type of job they have, where they live, what their home looks like.  None of that matters to me.  What matters is that they show me their true self.

I spend much of my days instilling these values into my children.  I pretty much preach to them the importance of being a good friend.  I tell them how important it is to treat others the way they want to be treated.  Now that all 3 are in school, our dinner conversations are all over the place with what happened in their little lives.  I see how my influence is sometimes put to the back burner to their friends. But I have to say I know they hear me because when one says how someone did this and if they respond to what we (our family) view as inappropriate (big word in our home), I am not always the one to correct them.  Poor things have their 2 other siblings to deal with.  They know that they are always to be honest and that lying never gets them anywhere.  Of course their lies are really not harmful but if they don’t learn now the value of being honest now, they never will.

I am determined that my children will hold these values dear to their heart even in a society that doesn’t.  It makes me sad that they may get hurt in the process.  I’m an adult and I’m still affected by people who don’t hold these values as important.  I do my best to stay true to my values.  I try my best to be a genuine person in everything I do.  It’s now or never.  I am almost 41 years old.  The true me is what you see and what you get.

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On the inside

On the outside I look like any other mom. I look like I am happy.  I look like I am enjoying life.  I smile.  I laugh.  I get out of bed.  I take care of my children.  I take care of my home.  I take of myself.  I have a business. I go on vacations.  I am participating in life. But on the inside I am empty.  I am drowning.  I am dying.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t sleep.  I can’t move.  I suffer from depression.  I suffer from anxiety. I am like many other women out there who suffer from this disease.

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I think I have always suffered from depression and anxiety.  But it wasn’t until my husband’s death that it all came to the surface.  It wasn’t until then that it took over my life.  I can clearly remember when I knew I was no longer able to control the disease.  It was a few weeks following Ryan’s death, my entire body ached.  Every time I moved, the pain was so intense.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t eat.  I actually lost 12lbs in 10 days. I remember functioning but yet not really being all there.  But I thought it would pass.  The intense pain both physically and mentally would go away.  I just needed time.

Summer came.  We had made plans to go camping with my best friend and her family.  They made me promise not to back out.  So I packed us all up and we hopped into their RV and drove over 2 hours.  I remember making small talk.  I remember laughing.  I remember forcing myself to smile and try to have fun.  Then while we were camping I remember this feeling coming over me.  It was a feeling I had felt before many times.  But for some reason since Ryan’s death it intensified.  My heart was racing.  I couldn’t breathe.  I remember standing there watching my kids play and thinking what is happening and why can’t I control it and make it stop.  I was having an anxiety attack.  My best friend made me promise to call the doctor as soon as I got home.

I had my yearly with my OBGYN and I decided to just talk to him.  He sat there and cried with me.  I sobbed as I told him how I physically hurt.  I sobbed when I told him I just wanted to fall asleep and not have to wake up for a few days.  He grabbed my hands and looked me in the eyes and said you are suffering from depression.  Me?  No…not me.  He said it again and this time I just lost it.  I couldn’t stop sobbing.  I remember saying I have no time to be weak.  I have to be strong for my kids.  He asked me if I ever thought about ending my life.  I assured him I didn’t and that I never would harm myself.  I would never do that to my children.  But I told him I just don’t want to function anymore.  I just want to sleep.  I just want to close my eyes and not think for a while.  That was the truth.  If I could just temporarily “check out” for a while it would be OK.  I didn’t want to permanently check out.  But by saying those words I knew and he knew I needed help.

Together with my OBGYN and later with a therapist the decision was made that I needed to be on medication.  It took some time to get the right medication that would work for me.  I remember over the course of 8 months playing around with medication.  At first, it seemed to work.  But then as life continued, we had a lot of adjusting to do.  I remember taking a medication that worked but it caused me to gain 25lbs within 3 months!  That certainly didn’t help me feel good about myself or my life.  But thankfully I was able to find the correct medication and dosage that has worked thus far.  Once the old medication was out of my system, the weight melted away.  For me medication and therapy has helped me tremendously. Do I feel I have my depression under control?  Not completely. But I know, for me, this is what I need to do.

It is hard for some people to understand just how much depression affects your every day life.  I don’t hide this from anyone.  But I don’t go around telling people either.  I feel very fortunate that when I go into what I refer to “my funk”, I don’t ever get to the point where I want to end my life permanently.  But when I am in “my funk” it is extremely hard to function.  I not only hurt mentally but physically.  I just want to check out for a little or go into a sleep where I am not having to deal with anything and then slowly come out of it.  It consumes every ounce of you.

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Some people think this is a sign of weakness or an excuse.  I have been told I just need to suck it up and deal with it because being sad is not going to change anything.  This isn’t something I want to feel.  I want to be able to handle the bad times like everyone else does.  I want to be happy~truly happy. But I can’t.  I do the best I can.  I know I put on a brave front for more than just my children.  I know I shouldn’t have to and have actually begun not to.  I am open with my children.  They see me take my medication.  They know I take it to help me so I am not sad all the time.  They know what they can handle.  If I hide it, I am letting them think it is something to be ashamed of and it isn’t at all.

Suffering from any type of mental illness is not something to be ashamed of or ignore.  It is important to find the help you need and to start the long and sometimes painful process of trying to find ways to help you learn to live with it.  Not everyone will understand it and that is OK.  What works for one person may not work for you.  There is no quick fix.  It isn’t a once and done thing either.   Accepting this and focusing on what YOU need is so important.

I have begun to let people in my life know when I am struggling.  I no longer hide it. And the people who are the closest to me sometimes know before I do that I am heading into “my funk”.   I just took a major step in this area.  The holidays are my favorite time of the year.  But they are so hard anymore.  I really had a hard time this past holiday season.  I just wanted to escape.  But I felt I needed to be strong and deal with it for others. Well this holiday seasoning I am doing something I have said I wanted to do since losing Ryan.  I am escaping.  We are going away over Thanksgiving.  We will not miss any of the holiday season.  But it will be a little escape before it all begins.  I need this.  We need this.  So we are doing it.  I know there will be people who think escaping isn’t the answer and that is OK.  But I know there are people who understand the need to escape from reality even if it is just for a little bit.

I am a yeller

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I have officially become a yeller.  I hate to admit it because that is not the type of person, teacher, or parent I ever set out to be.  Just to set the record straight, I do not yell ALL the time and I am by no means too harsh (I am a pushover).  And according to Ella, I am “a lover not a fighter”.  I just find myself yelling A LOT more than I feel I should at my kids.  But it feels so good!  Sometimes it makes me feel so much better after I yelled at them.  Then I have times when I go into the laundry room and cry.

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We all have the days when you just had enough.  You had enough of the constant reminders about the SAME thing.  Yes, as an educator I have looked at the behavior and tried to find the underlining reason for the behavior.  I have tried to model the appropriate behavior.  Yada Yada Yada.  But let’s face it, when your child does cartwheels through the kitchen for the 5th time after telling them not to because of the numerous reasons it is not safe or plain and simple, you are almost 10 you should know better, you are going to yell!   When your child continuously kicks their sibling over and over, you are going to yell.  When your child asks over and over for “x” and you have said calmly “not now” a few too many times, you are going to yell.   If you do not react that way, I applaud you and want to know the secret.  But I am owning the fact that I yell at them especially for behavior that they KNOW I do not tolerate.

I don’t set out to react to their inappropriate behavior by yelling.  I have (continue to) calmly stated my requests, my dislikes, my points of views.  But all of a sudden there is this look that comes across their face and I know they have tuned me out~you know the look.  I have even tested this by adding funny words into a sentence and no one has caught it.  But then when I raise my voice or go into crazy lady mode boy do I have their attention!  I have asked them why do I have to get to the point of crazy lady for them to stop and truly listen.  I get the famous shrug of the shoulders.  Love that reaction.

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I know that yelling isn’t solving anything.  The adult in me is well aware that there is a better way.  But the fed up, stressed out, and just plain irritated mom (or child in me) feels so much better after I yell at them.  I know my point was well heard and I feel good…I got it out! I am simply getting my point across in a loud manner!  And when I know I am being ridiculous, I will laugh at myself right in front of them.  But honestly there is only so much a mom can take until she becomes the crazy lady.  I just wish my kids would realize that I am always right (well most of the time) and they just need to accept it (ok deal with it).

I have those days when I look at them and what goes through my mind is just wrong.  I know some of you know what I am talking about and some of you don’t want to admit to it. Those are the days I often think back to my own childhood and find myself quoting my parents (gasp)!  But I get it now.  I get why I drove them crazy and why I made them yell.  It is what kids do.  It’s like a right of passage.  So I am truly looking forward to when they become parents and finally it hits them….in the head!  Then they will understand how they created the crazy lady.  I may be a yeller and I may turn into the crazy lady who just needs to chill but I am a victim of this thing called parenthood.

My Struggle With Being A Single Parent

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So it is safe to say I didn’t plan to be a single mom at the young age of 36.  I don’t think anyone sets out to be a single parent.  Being a parent is hard enough.  But at least when there are 2 parents in the home, you have someone to help pick up the slack, someone to feed ideas off of…just someone.  It is truly one of the most difficult challenges I face on a daily basis.

I am very independent.  I thank my late husband for a lot of the things I know how to do in regards to our home.  I feel very strongly about doing things myself.  If I am capable, I am going to do it.  I know if I reached out for help, I would have help in a blink of an eye.  My pride doesn’t allow me to do this all the time.  I have lost count the amount of times that I sobbed while taking care of a household responsibility.  I sobbed.  I sobbed raking leaves.  I sobbed cutting the grass.  I sobbed cleaning up shattered glass from our patio table.  I sobbed when my dishwasher broke.  I sobbed hanging blinds.  I sobbed cleaning the bathroom.  Why? It was not like any of it was life threatening.  It was all every day things that everyone has to do.  But at that moment in time, I sobbed.

It is very overwhelming at times.  It wasn’t so much the first year.  I’m not sure if it was because prior to the day my husband died, everything was under control.  Laundry was caught up.  The house was organized.  The yard had just had it’s first round of spring clean up because that last weekend was absolutely beautiful.  I only had 1 child in school.  I don’t know.  It just wasn’t as overwhelming in the beginning.  But now overwhelming is an understatement.  I can honestly say I have nothing under control. There is always piles of crap everywhere.  Ryan has to be turning over a thousand times because he was always on me about my piles…always!  Well there are piles all over.  I sell organizing products!  I should be organized but I am not.  There is always laundry either to be washed, folded, or put away.  My bedroom…I am so embarrassed.  It is a disaster.  It reminds me of my childhood bedroom.  The thing is there is not enough time in a day to get it all done.  By the time everything with my kids are finished and they are in bed, I don’t want to do anything other than sit down and have a glass of wine.  I always tell my kids that I run around and am always busy doing things for them and that leaves no time for my things.  So my bedroom, for example, suffers.

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This past year has been extremely hard.  I found myself seeing other families and hearing about what my friends did as a family and just being angry, sad, and jealous.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing about what all of my friends do with their families.  I truly do. But at the same time, I miss not having my family intact.  But it is so hard to find the balance between responsibility and fun.  Yes I should be able to let the laundry go.  I should be able to accept the clutter and that my house is lived in.  But this is not how it used to be.  I like having a clean home.  I like having a home that if someone just pops by, I am not embarrassed.  It is easier said than done.  I laugh when my one friend complains that her husband is on her because the house is a mess.  I am here to tell you that their house is never a mess!

The daily struggles may be something I put on myself.  But I truly feel anyone who is doing this parenting thing alone gets what I am saying and feeling.  It is easier said than done to ask for help.  Honestly, there isn’t anything that anyone can do.  The house, our life, and my kids are my responsibility.  No one else’s responsibility but mine.  The thought that every decision I make is on me.  I can’t go back and say “I told you so” to anyone.  It is all me.  It is a a continuous struggle.  The struggles I deal with, everyone deals with.  As much as I may feel out of control of our life, I know it is all worth it.  I know my children are happy.  I know they are well taken care of.  I know they don’t care about the things that cause me to lose sleep.  I know I am not alone and I have my “family” to help out in a heartbeat.  It’s just all part of being a parent.

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Our “Fur Babies”

Up until now I have blogged about my children and myself.  I have shared my love of my children.  But I haven’t discussed my other children or what pet lovers like to refer to them as “fur babies”.  We had fish (several) and I had my cat until he passed away…Kimba or as Hunter lovingly called him “B”.  But once “B” passed away, I always found excuses for being “fur baby” free. We are blessed to have 3 of the most amazing fur babies (all under the age of 4).  They have the best personalities and truly are part of our family.    We have 2 cats and 1 puppy.  Yes, I am crazy!

November07 015Ella and Hunter with Kimba

I have shared before how Ella is truly an animal lover.  I have told her that she has an amazing gift.  I feel she needs to work with animals when she gets older.  Ella struggled to sleep alone from the age of 2.  Actually all of my children have had sleep issues.  I see a future post here!  Anyway, to help her stay in her room all night, we made a contract.  If she slept in her room for a month straight, she would be able to get a kitten.  Well she did!  So on Halloween in 2010, we drove around searching for a kitten to adopt. Every shelter we went to only had older cats and she had her heart set on a kitten.  So we ended up in a pet store and there were 3 calico kittens.  We found our Lily!  From the moment we brought her home, she meshed with our family.  She was always where we were and so friendly to outsiders.  Lily had to deal with an 18 month old who would pull her tail and grab her fur.  Not once did she ever hiss or swat.  Lily just belonged with us.

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About a year and half later, an acquaintance of mine was fostering a pregnant cat.  The cat had beautiful tuxedo kittens.  She had posted on Facebook that she had 2 kittens left that needed to find homes.  Well in a moment of weakness, I messaged her and I surprised the kids on a Monday morning.  We went to their home and got to hang out with the kittens.  Thankfully the 2nd kitten was already claimed or I probably would have brought them both home!  We found our Summer!  Summer’s original name was “Beard” because on her chin, the coloring of her fur looked like she had a beard.  Summer is by far the neatest cat.  She loves people.  She loves her belly rubbed.  She loves to lay around with someone.  Summer is just fun!

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Ella has always wanted a dog.  She asked for one from the moment she knew what a dog was.  My issue….Sporka Dogs are outside dogs.  They are hunting dogs.  They are smelly dogs.  They are great dogs but not the type of dog to have when you have 3 small children and are a single parent.  I kept reminding Ella how we had 2 amazing cats that pretty much acted like dogs.  She would go in spurts with nagging, pleading, and arguing her case as to why we needed a dog.  I thought I had bought some time when our closest friends got a puppy.  They would actually call Ella up to come over and play with Bolt.  Ella had a way of getting Bolt worn out.  It was a fabulous situation….Ella got to play with a puppy but come home to a puppy-free home.  Until….

April 24, 2013…4 days after her 9th birthday.  I received a text from Bolt’s mommy that simply said “I found YOUR dog!” with a picture of a white ball of fur.  I am looking at the text and before I could respond, another text “get here NOW”.  Seriously!  We both had to be at kindergarten pick up in an hour.  So being the amazing friend that she is, she put our dog on hold!  So after seeing more and more pictures of this white cutie and hearing how she  didn’t nip and she wouldn’t get much bigger, took Hunter & Gracie to go and see our dog.  Well you know what happened….we found our Mazy!

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I never saw 3 fur babies in my life.  I knew I would have a cat and eventually cave and get a dog.  But I honestly can’t see our lives without these fur babies.  Lily sleeps with Hunter every night and even waits for him.  Summer sleeps with Ella every night.  And Mazy sleeps with me and Gracie.  Yes Gracie ends up in my bed.  I told you my kids have sleeping issues!  Our fur babies just have a way of making the most terrible day less terrible.  They have a way of knowing when we need a little cuddling.  They are our babies and part of our family.  They have helped us to heal and to accept our new life as Team Sporka.  They may drive me crazy and follow ME everywhere but I love them just as much if not more than my kids’ do.  So thank you to our “fur babies” for making our family experience joy and pure happiness again.

Technologically Challenged and Parenting

Technology in this day and age is amazing and frightening at the same time.  I am amazed at all the things that one piece of technology can do.  I feel technologically challenged.  I need my children to show me how to do things.  It comes so natural to them.  Gracie can manipulate an iPhone/iPad like it’s no one’s business. Technology has brought up some interesting conversations at the dinner table.

Payphone

Today’s children have no idea what it was like when we were growing up.  One night while my daughter, who was 8 at the time, was trying to argue her point to be able to have a cell phone when she started 4th grade, was blown away when she found out the age I was when I got my 1st “mobile phone”.  I was 20 years old (I think).  I purchased one because I had started to commute back and forth to Kutztown University.  My children laughed so hard!  I asked them why they thought this was so funny.  I explained to them how they were just coming out with them a couple years prior.  Then I started to laugh when they asked me how I made phone calls when I wasn’t at home.  It’s called a pay phone.  The looks on their faces were priceless.  I explained how I always carried a quarter with me “just in case”.

The conversation continued and as I began to talk about the things my children have never heard of or will ever have the pleasure of experiencing, I felt even more technologically challenged.  Our children have no idea how far technology has come and how scary, as parents this day and age has become.

TV without a remote~oh the horror!  My kids are constantly yelling “Where is the remote?”  I had to pull up a picture of what TV’s looked like as my 9 yr old likes to say back in the day.  They were hysterically laughing and couldn’t get over how small and fat the TV looked.  And the fact that you actually had to go up to the TV and turn a dial blew them away.

TV

Telephones with a cord.  Thankfully they have seen this type of phone.  We had one hanging in our kitchen as part as the decor…how sad!  So then I showed them what cordless phones first looked liked when they were (my 9 yr old strikes again) “invented”, oh the belly laughs and rolling on the floor!

Atari  There wasn’t an XBox or a Wii.  It was like comic relief at my house.  They could not get over the fact that we played these games that the objects resembled in comparison to today’s technology a square object.  Then when they heard I actually never had an Atari….well forget it.  Conversation was over.

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Computers  I tried to explain to them how we used to have Typing Class in high school.  Once again, thanks to our technology, I was able to show them a picture of a typewriter.  And yes….GASPS could be heard around the table!

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The Internet  Oh there was nothing more exciting than hearing the words You Got Mail! when you logged onto AOL.  You are saying it and hearing that voice, aren’t you?  So I showed them a clip from one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail.

I was honest with my kids.  I told them how lucky they are to live in this day and age with all the technology that is available to them.  I told them for parents it is extremely scary.  We are not as comfortable as they are and are learning from them.  My kids have a very hard time understanding how there are things on the internet that are not appropriate for them.  They have a hard time understanding why I set the restrictions on their iPads so high and that they not only need to ask permission but sit next to me and immediately hand their iPad back to me so I can turn the restrictions back on before they can play the new App they just downloaded.

I am, personally, extremely terrified of all the things they have access to.  I am honest with them how I don’t know how certain things work and what the games they play are about.  I am terrified at their innocence.  They have a hard to understanding that a grown adult can pretend to be a child their age.  This concept blew my 9 yr. old’s mind!  She just kept asking why would they do that?  I know I have no choice but to educate myself as well as stay up on the latest games and apps my kids play.  I know my technologically challenged brain doesn’t quite grasp it.  But it needs to be done.

I have restrictions set on all the technology in our home.  I use the parental controls on our TV.  We have a satellite TV provider so they can access, if I allowed, many channels.  I block numerous shows and some are on networks for kids.

I have a restriction code on the iPads.  My kids may have a screen lock password so their siblings don’t go onto their device (never happens) but I made up the code.  They know that at any given time, I will (and have) asked to see their iPad/iPod and I go through their stuff.  They know if I can’t unlock their screen, it’s gone.  It’s gone for a long time.  They can’t download, update, purchase, etc without my permission.  I have it all turned off and I make them come to me and they sit right next to me.  I look at the app and need to approve it.  They know I will have the device in my hands until it is completely downloaded and then I will turn everything back off.  Yes I have forgotten and yes someone who will remain nameless has been caught downloading without my permission.  It was not a fun evening in our home when it occurred.

iPad Restriction Screen

I have all their usernames and passwords for any games they play online.  They message or text, it comes to my email.  OK this may have you thinking that I am not technologically as challenged as I say I am.  I truly am.  I have been taught and told about this things by a family friend.  I honestly don’t know what I would do without this person.

Being a technologically challenged person is frustrating but being one and a parent at the same time is down right frightening!  It is my goal to educate myself as much as possible.  I utilize our family friend as much as possible.  I feel it is so sad that we have to be so cautious but we live in a whole new world.  I am terrified of what is yet to come when our children are parents.