Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008... in review

So this it.... the last chance to blog in year 2008.  I better make this good, huh?

It has been an incredible year, full of ups and downs.  But even those downs have taught me so much about myself, life, and the people I love.  Here is a random list of 20 things I've done and learned this year.  

1. I embraced my beauty, not just despite my size, but because of it. 
2. I had the joy of watching my best friend, Linda, marry the man of her dreams and become a mom in the process. 
3. I liberated my arms and loved wearing sleeveless shirts! 
4. I was forced to accept that my dad isn't Superman as I coped with his cancer diagnosis 
5. I felt empowered after a long road trip with just my three girls.  Yes I can drive long distances all by myself!
6.  I visited some of my amazing APU sisters: Corey, Whit, Holly, Beth, and Lisa <3
7. I continued fighting my depression. 
8. I found strength that I never knew I had as I dealt with a break in my marriage 
9. I experienced independence, as I lived alone for the first time in my life. 
10. I learned about crystals, and began wearing them daily.  
11. I heard a musician combine Tom Petty - Free Fallin with Snoop Dogg - Gin and Juice at a restaurant in Tampa.  
12. I found wisdom in tarot. 
13. I fell in love with a vampire and a werewolf!  
14. I celebrated as my girls turned 3, 12, and 16. 
15. I found a new companion - in Mojo - a little orange kitten.
16. I was blessed with several amazing days with my grandmother during her final moments of life. 
17. I learned what is important to me - what I want in life - what I deserve.
18. I found my voice. 
19. I discovered that I am my husband's one and only love, and that he is willing to fight for it.
20. I experienced the reunion of my little family, and we finally felt whole again.  

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Grandma Bert

My grandmother lived an amazing 83 years and passed away on her favorite day of the year, Christmas Eve.  

Grandma Bert was an incredible woman.  The mother of twelve kids.  Twelve!!  9 boys and 3 girls.  They lived in a small house and the kids shared beds.  The boys had triple stacked bunk beds.  Even with 12 kids to feed, growing up - the kids always had friends dropping over for dinner at the Millers and Grandma always made sure there was enough food for everyone to eat.  

Grandma was spunky, opinionated and loving.  She'd burst into song at any moment.  If during conversation someone said something to remind her of a song, she'd sing a few lines.  It is something I always loved.  While sitting with her in the hospital, the nurse brought her some Milk of Magnesia and told her she needed to drink it to get her bowels rolling.  Grandma started singing... "Rollin, Rollin, Rollin, get those bowels Rollin."  LOL  The nurse and I just died laughing.  
I will miss her dearly, and just feel blessed to have been by her bedside for most of her final hours.  We held a sort of vigil, surrounding her with love during her final days.  I bathed her, and washed her hair.  It felt so good to be able to nurture her in that way, as she has done to so many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  

She leaves behind 10 living children, 26 grandchildren, and 39 great-grandchildren.  With her passing, we've joked that my grandpa, Uncle Ron, and Uncle Darrell now have a fourth to play cards with.  <3 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A good morning

When I woke up this morning, I was confused about what day it was... because I woke up two minutes before my alarm goes off, which is unheard of for me. This was a good sign; a sign that I'd went to bed at the right time and got just the right amout of sleep.  

So, I got out of bed and was surprised to see snow outside...  I know I should watch the weather report more, but getting snow as a surprise is a very welcome surprise.  It looked so beautiful. 

I started the dryer so my kids could have warm clothes when they come home from their dad's house to get dressed for the day. 

I bundled up to go out in the snow.  I knew that if I waited, when Palmer arrived with the kids, he would shovel my walk for me.  But I have a sense of independence this morning, and a need to take care of my own, so I grabbed the broom and started at my work. 

The snow is still falling, and it is a light beautiful snow.  It swept off the steps and sidewalk with ease, and I paused periodically to just enjoy it.  It is quiet.... and peaceful.... I could hear the snow hitting my coat.  

My new gloves, hat and scarf kept me toasty warm, and I felt blessed.  

It is a good morning.  

Sunday, December 14, 2008

One good thing meme, day seven

My baby girl, who is not much of a baby anymore, took a nap on my chest today, for almost an hour.  

This is something Alaina never does; I can't remember the last time she napped on me.  But today she blessed me.  She took a nap in her bed, but when she woke up and came downstairs, she snuggled into my lap, tucked her head on my chest up under my chin, and fell asleep.  I cherish the moments like this. 

Reflection:  I really enjoyed the last seven days of focusing on the good.  Some days were easier than others.  Some days I had to wait until the end of the day to find the best thing, other days I thought of it all day - what would happen that I'd get to write about?  This was a good exercise and something I'll try again.  

Saturday, December 13, 2008

One good thing meme, day six

Breakfast at Palmers... 

He called to brag about his good breakfast he is cooking, and instead of just listening to the brag - we all piled in the car for a drive to his house to join him. Me, Paige, Alaina and two of Paige's friends all joined him for eggs, sausage and pancakes.  Yum.  

One good thing meme, day five

Well, I know it is a bit late for my day five... but if I'm still awake - it is still day five, right?

We had our holiday retreat for my job today out at Lake Shawnee - one of my favorite places of all time.  The geese were on the lake - the sun was shining - it was just gorgeous.  I love this place for its peace.  The elements of nature all coming together - the water - the sun - the trees - the animals.  

I spent much of my time enjoying the outdoors with a good friend, a coworker whose last day of work was today.  She is leaving town to go to Michigan to care for her husband's ailing mother.  This is a challenging time for her, a time of loyalty and blessing for the opportunity to care for this mother who needs her so desperately.  But also a time of sadness as she leaves her children and grandchildren behind, and a job which she loves.  I felt blessed to spend some alone time with her in this space and just be with her on this last day, in a location that also holds significant meaning for her, including childhood night-fishing trips with her father, and the wedding of her daughter at the exact location of our retreat.  It felt like life coming full circle for her on this day and I was just blessed to experience it with her.  

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One good thing meme, day four

Today the good thing is about Palmer. 

We had lots of conversations today.  They started kind of weird, odd - and unexpected.  But ended with some great resolution and support.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One good thing meme, day three

Today's good thing is brought to you by...... Linda!  

After getting home from work, Paige and I immediately got into battle.  You know - the typical tween stuff, she hates her life - doesn't like her mom - no one understands her - yadda yadda yadda.  It was getting ugly.  

Then, we heard a knock on the door...... 

.... in walked Linda.  

It was an unexpected visit, but so welcomed!  She could sense the tension and asked if she should leave.... but I was so glad she stayed. 

It gave Paige and I the distraction we needed to regroup and end the battle.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One good thing meme, day two

I'm so glad I waited to post my one good thing.  It was a hard day and I was really struggling with what to write... that was until I got a call from my oldest girl, who I miss so much. 

Chelcie turns 16 years old in two days.  I was feeling rather nostalgic, not believing that my little girl is about to be sixteen years old!!  I asked if she wanted to hear about the day we met.... of course she did.  So, I shared all of my memories with her.  

Chelcie was two years old.  She'd been living with her mother, and hadn't been allowed to see her dad in awhile, so we were both excited for this visit.  It started with preparing a room for her, I bought her some posters: a clown and two African American art posters.. I do believe this was the start of her interest in AA history.  I also bought her some pajamas, and a stuffed elephant toy that made the elephant sound.  It was cute - and we still have it, though he has been silent for years.  

After Palmer picked her up from her mom, he brought her to meet me at my apartment (we weren't living together yet.)  She was so sweet, quiet, and shy.  We took her to JC Penney at the mall to buy her a new outfit...  cute little denim overall shorts and a cute floral shirt.  I took her to the dressing room to make sure we got the right size.  

We then went to McDonalds, and I remember her eating a TON of ketchup with her fries.  After that - we went to my parents - and this was the first time she met her grandma.  

Chelcie was amazed by all of these details that I remembered.... and I loved sharing the story with her.  I'll never forget that day... it was the day I became a mom.  

Monday, December 8, 2008

One good thing meme, day one

Taken from earthmama... Thanks friend.

1. Post about something that made you happy today even if it's just a small thing and even if it's just a one-line post.
2. Do this everyday for a week without fail.

Today I resolved some issues with a friend.  We both weren't saying what needed to be said, and it felt so much better and really cleared up a lot of things once we both opened up.  

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Value of Friendship.... Part 2

I've been friends with Linda for 21 years. We met at the bus-stop at 2nd and Kendall street on the first day of 7th grade. We have the kind of friendship that has withstood all the tests of time. I often feel like she knows me better than I know myself.

But this post isn't about my friendship with Linda... it is about her friendship with Alaina. Alaina announced today that Linda is her best friend (heart swelling). I was able to witness the love Alaina has for Linda and the love Linda has for Alaina today. These pictures say it all.

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Meeting Santa

We went to meet Santa today! I think I was just as excited as the kids. Santa arrived via train at the Great Overland Station which is a railroad museum housed in a remodeled and preserved Union Pacific station.

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We waited at a tall fence for the train to arrive.
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It was so hard for Alaina to see that I quickly hoisted her to my shoulders where she had an awesome view of the arrival. Look at this smile on her face! And then a wave to Santa.
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Notice the two-fisted hair holding for comfort and the hands covering her ears avoiding the sound of the train. LOL
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Her first touches from Santa. I was thrilled that she wasn't scared.
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Sitting on Santa's lap - Check out that cheesy smile!
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Thanksgiving Weekend

I had a wonderful time with my family over Thanksgiving weekend. 

Lorie, my BIL Jamie, their son Jackson, and his daughter Brittany arrived on Thanksgiving Day around noon.   I was so excited to see them - and met Brittany and Jackson for the first time!  Jackson is 9 months old, and Brittany is 13.  We had Thanksgiving dinner in Lawrence with my brother and his family, and several of their friends.  My girls were spending the day with Palmer and my mom and dad ate dinner together at home.  Due to my Dad's chemo schedule, he needed to avoid meals with others as much as possible.  

These pictures are of a family breakfast on Saturday morning, back at my brother's house.  He has become quite the cook!  My sis too.... I told my mom that she at least got 2 out of 3 good cooks from her kids.  You can guess which one I am!  

Jackson Parker Finley Madison
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Jackson with Grandma
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My sis, bro and I laughing in the kitchen
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Grandpa with Paige and Brittany
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Paige and Brittany - These girls hit it off so quickly. This is Paige's first cousin her age - and I'm so glad for it.
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A sassy little girl
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Lorie - the best aunt ever - giving Rylan his Christmas present - his very own guitar!
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Uncle Jamie chatting with the little dude
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Birthday Pics

Want to blog in order - saving this spot for birthday pics from others.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The value of friendship

I have some great friends.  Some are old friends, some new.  Some far away, and some close by.  

I value them each, for their unique personalities, and the things we have in common, as well as the areas where we differ.  It is always nice to have a bit of ying to my yang. 

I had the pleasure of visiting with some friends tonight that I hadn't seen in quite some time, and it was so refreshing.  We talked and talked and talked.  The time just escaped us and before I knew it, it was 10pm, and one of my friends was heading to bed!  Oops!  How the time flies when you are with loved ones. 

For all of my friends - I love you, I cherish you.... 

"Without you, there'd be no sun in my sky, there would be no love in my life, there'd be no world left of me."
- Leann Rimes

Monday, December 1, 2008

Single Parenting

I've had a hard time associating myself with the term "single parent" although I am living alone with my children. Their dad is still so active in their lives and sees them on a regular basis, so I wasn't sure what it meant to be a single parent and how it applied to my life.

But last night, I had somewhat of a realization to what it means to me.

Throughout our marriage, Palmer has been the strict parent, and I the laid-back parent. The more strict he was, the more laid-back I became. I was doing my best to try to strike a balance for the kids by counteracting his parenting style. So, when Palmer moved out of the house I went through a bit of a rebellion against strictness and became THE laid-back parent.

Well, what that has created is an environment for my kids with little boundaries and guidelines. Alaina pushes me to find out what the limits are - because they are so unclear to her. And the lack of consequences for bad behaviors just add more confusion to the mix.

I've recently implemented some guidelines for Paige about her chores, responsibilities and how she should be spending her time after school, and that has seemed to help. I've had to implement consequences once and she wasn't too happy about it, resisted, tried to talk her way out of it, but eventually accepted them.

Now it is time to implement some guidelines for Alaina. This will be a work in progress, as parenting a three-year old can sometimes be much more challenging than parenting the twelve-year old.

I've accepted the fact that I have to strike my own balance now. I have to be the one to have the right levels of being laid-back and strict. I can't just be the laid-back parent anymore. Being a single parent means I have to be both - and find the balance that works for me and my kids.

This will be a challenging journey for me, but one that will have positive results for all of us if I work through the challenges and succeed. My dad has always taught me that Life is all about the Journey, so I'm looking at this with a positive attitude and enjoy seeing what I can learn about myself and the kids in the process.