Just some random, irrelevant, humorous, and hopefully inspiring musings on life, love, faith, widowhood, remarriage, adoption, blended families, caring for a handicapped child, mothering seven children, chickens, cooking, grief, over-coming grief, and everything else in between. Just Keep Livin!!

This is an excerpt from a post I wrote back in 2013. Not much has changed.  Today, on this Father’s Day 2018, we woke up to poop and a rotten egg; the egg which was discovered, of course, after we had already cracked 12 good eggs into the pan.  What do you do except “just keep livin” 🙂 Happy Father’s Day to all of you amazing men. 

Sunday was Father’s Day, and we had every intention in the world of making it to church although that task in and of itself can often be enormously tedious. I laid out all of the kids church clothes the night before, bought donuts for an easy breakfast and purchased a honey baked ham for lunch. I snuck out of bed early without waking Ryan, displayed his Father’s Day card on top of the bathroom sink to surprise him, went downstairs, made a cup of coffee (it may be Fathers Day but some things still don’t change!) and then made him a cup as well. I was in a cheerful mood, having slept well and asked Mabel to go downstairs and let Luke out of his bed. He has a huge, 6 foot tall, padded bed (similar to a baby crib) that opens in the corner to allow him access in and out. She ran down to “free” him for breakfast and two seconds later Tate came running up the stairs, out of breath, barely gasping out the words..

“Mom, Luke is covered head to toe in poop and he’s crawling all over the basement!”

“WHAT!” I exclaimed in horror, eyes bulging out of my head, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME???”

Any cheerful disposition was pretty much down the drain and exchanged with some choice thoughts bordering on profanity.

I raced downstairs to discover that yes, indeed, Luke was covered in excrement and bonus, he was naked. This is his new thing, and we don’t know what to do about it. When he gets bored, he takes his clothes off. Apparently he didn’t want to wear his pajamas that morning and apparently he also didn’t want to wear his dirty diaper any longer and decided to take matters literally into his own hands. He undressed, took off his two diapers, and in the process made a huge mess all over his bed, his walls, his floor and the basement. No picture for this one… use your imagination, it wasn’t pretty.

My happy demeanor was completely gone. I wasn’t exactly “giving thanks in all circumstances” as Paul admonished the Thessalonians to do around 2000 years ago as I scooped him up, placed him ever so gently into the bathtub, and then proceeded to fill a big bucket with lots of soapy water, scrubbed down the bed with one hand and large cup of coffee in the other. I felt angry tears forming, out of pure frustration at how difficult it can be to raise a severely handicapped 8 year old, especially as two curious three year olds looked on offering their commentary about how “stinky” it was, and then suddenly, my hero stepped into the room.

“What happened honey?” he asked.

My husband, my calm in the face of some serious crap, my much more patient half on his special day, Father’s Day, offering assistance.

“You clean Luke, and I’ll get the bed” he offered with a smile.

“But it’s Father’s Fay” I protested, “You shouldn’t have to clean up crap on Father’s Day!”

“It’s just another day” he replied with a smirk.

Tate then piped in his delightful two cents –  “This is probably the worst Father’s Day ever, huh dad?”

His father did not reply. Ryan’s a good man like that, he just does what needs to be done without making a big deal out of it. I am a blessed woman to have him in my life, our kids are blessed to have him in their lives, and Luke is blessed to have a father, an adopted father, who without batting an eye, or puking up his dinner from the day before, cleaned up piles of poop on Father’s Day. Yup, we have a keeper over here at our house.

We did not make it to church with the mess taking most of the morning to adequately clean up.

The rest of the day was a little less eventful, church on tv, honey baked ham for lunch and a wonderful Father’s Day grill out for the amazing man in our life.

Just keep livin!

As Father’s Day is quickly approaching – this Sunday for those who are unaware – many people find themselves enthralled in feelings of love and adoration as they celebrate the Dad figure in their lives; however, many people also struggle with feelings of sadness or overwhelming anger because of what this day represents in either the death of a father or a father who was less than ideal or downright crappy. If you are in this latter camp,  Todd Cartmell, author of 8 Simple Tools offers a few suggestions that might help in making this Father’s Day a little less painful. 

For many, Father’s Day includes a “dad” gift (code for a bad necktie or a grilling utensil), a fun family activity, and perhaps a phone call, if dad lives farther away. However, as time passes on, some of us find that Father’s Day can carry a more somber meaning. The death of a father or child (my dad passed away six years ago), or relationships that have become estranged due to divorce or family conflict can turn this day of celebration into a day of sadness and remorse.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are a couple ideas that might help:

1) Surrender the situation to God. Allow God to comfort you, as you experience feelings of sadness, frustration, or even remorse. Pour out your heart to him; after all, he gave you the ability to feel those exact feelings. Remember that the one who has infinite wisdom understands your situation perfectly and cares about it deeply.

2) Watch for God’s hand in your situation. While it may seem difficult to imagine, God specializes in healing those who are hurt and in bringing something good out of something painful, in his own time. Be attentive to ways that God may put on your heart initiate reconciliation or to show his love to others who are hurting.

Father’s Day can mean something different to each of us, but we have a loving heavenly Father who did not even shield himself from grief, and promised to walk with us through our most difficult moments.

TODD CARTMELL is a child psychologist who practices in Wheaton, Illinois. He received his doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary and is the author of several parenting books, including 8 Simple Tools. His parenting workshops have been enjoyed by thousands of parents throughout the country. Visit Dr. Todd’s website at www.drtodd.net and follow him on Facebook.

 

The first week of summer break sucks every single year.

I always vow to wrap my mind around the concept of all of my blessed offspring being home for every blessed second of all of our blessed lives but apparently I fail somewhere because it doesn’t feel very blessed about 10 minutes into the first morning as the fighting begins over PBS versus Netflix followed by moans of disgust at the sight of scrambled eggs and teenage smirks as the youngest squeals “CABUB! STOP IT RIGHT NOW!”

Where’d I set my coffee?

I know, some parents love the freedom and flexibility that summer break offers, but I am not one of those people. I love structure because structure in the form of a school building brings me a few peaceful hours of productivity and peace and productivity are this introverted mama’s best friends. Amen.

Every year, a week or so before the last day of school, I vow to do better. I vow to have more patience, be more intentional in my unique calling, have more grace and mercy and love – all of those good motherly qualities- but inevitably the stress mounts, especially during the first week as the kids revolt, their need for constant food and entertainment arises, they fight and bicker and moan and bewail their existence, and I turn and hiss at my husband in the dead of the night – or actually like 9 p.m. because we’re so dang tired –

“You can’t work anymore. You need to stay home and co parent for the summer. No individual is physically and emotionally capable of raising this many human beings for any stretch of time by themselves. And honey, four teenagers! Do you understand the complexities and the zits and the hormones? Are you listening honey?”

I hiss even louder –

“It would drive anyone insane!.”

Those are the words I say, and he smiles and lovingly replies, “Honey, you go through this every summer. It’ll get better after a week.”

”

NO IT WON’T! I wail and open my eyes balls really wide so he knows just how serious I am.

“Give it time” he smiles again.

Of course he smiles – he gets to go to work the next morning.

I usually enjoy the rural life that we chose – the peace, the birds chirping, the river, the beauty, the land our children get to roam upon and the innocence this life has provided. I enjoy it all until the last day of school, and then it begins to feel a tiny bit like the land is closing in on me, and the river is rising, and I’m trapped in a zoo where the birds never stop chirping (and yelling and screaming and fighting) and the coyotes are ready to tear me limb to limb if I don’t remain constantly vigilant, and in desperation I inform my husband that we are not living in the country any more. We are moving to the biggest city we can find before the next school year begins. NEW YORK CITY if need be, and I swear I’m not living in rural America for one more day, no sir, no how, I need options! I need restaurants! I need a coffee house and a park and easy access friends for my children and a Mrs. Jones who lives down the road who will dote on my precious babies and feed them snacks and allow constant video games so that their mother can enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet as she figures out how to survive summer break.

I have 8 kids. In our middle of nowhere. 8 children ranging in age from 2-15 and did I mention, four teenagers? One of those teenagers is my special needs boy Lucas who would rather watch videos all day long than go anywhere, and that’s pretty much okay, because it’s really difficult to get out of the house with him AND his seven siblings.

I chose this life but that doesn’t make it easy. I chose to have four children. I chose life for Luke my handicapped son. I chose Ryan and I chose to adopt his three kids. I chose a rural life, and I chose to have another baby but damn – those choices kick my rear end the first week of summer break as we all figure it out again, figure out how to maintain loving, somewhat tolerable relationships with one another in close quarters – relationships with respect and boundaries – relationships where we still like each other at the end of summer. There is a steep learning curve as the kids give up a huge chunk of their social life from school and a huge learning curve as I give up a pretty significant chuck of quiet work hours. Not to mention, the substantial increase in dishes and trash and diaper changes and grocery runs and meals (have I mentioned the meals)?

Every year I prep for the last day of school thinking that forethought will surely save me this summer break.  I frantically implement great ideas for our many hours together such as our pool purchase a few years ago. I plan vacations. I sign them up for camps and volunteer positions and kids bowl free coupons, and Luke! Luke has consistent summer school for the first time ever this year and that will help immensely and honestly, it all helps! It really does. And we eventually get into the groove. We stay up a little later, and we sleep in. I begin to relax into what summer is all about and the kids do too. I kick up my feet and read a good book while they splash away in the pool. I shorten the to do list. I lower my expectations and then – just as soon as summer break begins, it comes to an end and without fail I realize, I survived summer break, and I turn to my husband and whisper in shocked acknowledgement –

“Honey. The kids and I have found our groove. They are really having fun together and doing their chores without me nagging, and helping with Luke and Annabelle and I kind of like this motherhood gig again. Maybe we should consider homeschooling!”

And he rolls eyes just like he does every summer the week before school begins again because he understands that the only reason we have all found our groove is because we’ve also found the light at the end of the tunnel. Those two miraculous life giving head lights that will soon be rolling down our dusty dirt road at 6:30 a.m, firmly attached to a big yellow bus that will transport 7 eager souls promptly back to school.

Ahhhhh. Structure.

Just keep livin.

New recipe for y’all as the school year ends – which is today – you can start those prayers now please.  These are my go to muffins to make for the kids in the morning before they head off to school.  Easy, tasty, low mess, healthy sweet potato muffins.  The best part, as always, is that you can make them in one bowl.  Don’t we all love that? Enjoy!

2 big sweet potatoes – baked at 400 for about an hour – until soft.  Cool, remove peels and mash in a large bowl.

Add –

1 cup coconut oil or applesauce

1 cup almond milk

1/1/2 cups maple syrup

1 tea salt

2 tea cinnamon

4 tea baking powder

4 tea baking soda

2 tea vanilla

4 cups flour

2 TB Chinese 5 spice

Mix all together well.

Add dark chocolate chips, wheat germ, flax seed or chia seeds if you want.

Grease muffin pans and fill about halfway.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.