Starfish Chronicles

Finally! Snow has arrived and winter is here!  I have been stalking the weather channel for weeks. WEEKS! 

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I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and winter was just “less hot” than the rest of the year.  We saw snow in the mountains of Colorado on annual family vacations.  Maybe that is why I love it so much. I have memories attached to it.  It takes me back to places I love. Happy places.

And when the snow is gone, I will be happy to see green grass, leaves, and flowers.  And then I will celebrate summer so my kids can swim and swim and swim. And I will celebrate fall (my other favorite) when the leaves are changing and I can start anticipating snow again.

Change is good…….

Happy New Year!  Have you spent the last several days resolving to make changes? Resolving to not make changes?   If for only one day a year we think about where we are in our lives, and have even small thoughts about how we love that place or how we would like to be in a different place, what is the harm in that?  Personal reflection is good. If it also happens to motivate us to make changes, even better! Please don’t lecture me on how resolutions are stupid and you have no faith in people following through on them. You focus on what you need to do in your life and I will focus on what I need to do in my life. I will celebrate your successes with you and offer a shoulder and an ear if you need to reflect on why it did not happen the way you planned it. Either way - it is YOUR life and you have the power to make it what it will be. It is your journey. Every success and failure are equally important on the path.

Even thoughI do not consider my journey to be on a 12 month schedule, I posted this blog on myspace on January 5th, 2007: I am dedicating 2007 to finding Elainne. There! I said it!!! Let it be…….

I will continue on my journey, but as of right this minute, I do not know what that means.  What can I do today/this week/this month/this year that will make my life better? I can make a list of things, but I have to be honest and say that I do not know how many of them I am willing or even ready to tackle. And I am ok with that. I don’t need a “grand plan.” As long as I hold strong in knowing that I am in control of my life, whatever it is, this is what works for me. On the other hand, I must also accept the consequences for my lack of action.  No regrets.  This is the hard part. I cannot justify beating  myself up for how things are if I have done nothing to change them. January 1st, 2012 will come whether or not I make any changes in my life. It is up to me!

So, now what?

I started this blog post on Nov 19th…..

Since we have had kids, I have tortured myself with creating traditions that they will look back on and remember with a happy heart.  I have memories like that and I want it very bad for them.  The problem is that we travel for holidays so often that it has been impossible to create those traditions. I don’t want our tradition to be that we were never home for Christmas.  Although, it will be interesting to hear how they feel when they realize what we had to do to get those HUGE christmas gifts to Nana and Granny’s houses for so many years!!

Big Daddy and I have talked about this often and we know what has to happen.  We need to stay home and create our own traditions.  I want to bake holiday treats and decorate the house and go to every Christmas related activity we can squeeze in. We will search for the best neighborhoods for light displays. And we will anticipate Santa with every ounce of holiday spirit.

This is how it really worked out……..

We stayed home.

We saw Santa’s Christmas Clown at The Crown Uptown.

The kids decorated the Christmas tree and I did not re-arrange even one thing!

We did not drive around to look at lights, but we noticed them and oooohed and ahhhhhhhed while we were driving around doing other things.

We listened to Christmas music every time we were in the car and a little bit in the house.

We made gingerbread houses, fudge, and baked a cake.

We did a very speedy “Santa” visit at the mall.

The kids anticipated Santa with a greater gusto than ever before.

Christmas morning was magical and everyone was happy.

Here is what I learned:

Relax…………I try too hard to force traditions and memories on us. If we live our lives and do things that make us happy every day, those are the things that matter.  I cannot re-create “my” memories in my kids heads.  And I know for 100% sure that I do not want their memory to be that I  forced them to do stupid stuff nobody cared about and then cried when they were not interested.  That would be crazy :)

Moving on to the New Year!

I am thankful for Big Daddy

I am thankful for Amanda, Samantha, Zachary, and Cooper

I am thankful for my dad, mom, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, and a very large extended  family. 

I am thankful for a large home, 3 working vehicles, and two incomes.

I am thankful for friends.

I am thankful for all of the experiences in my life. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I am thankful for Sammy dog, and that I did not break my neck when I tripped over Sadie dog.

I am thankful for Pumpkin Spice coffee and Cheesecake

I am thankful for healthy children who laugh and love

I am thankful for my laptop and my baby lappy

I am thankful for Nicole and that she has Marcus and Raylee

I am thankful for cool crisp temperatures

I am thankful for C-Pap

I am thankful that soon it will be the season to be jolly!!!

Even though I have no formal event or thought process I want to blog about right now, I felt a need to acknowledge that I have not blogged in a while.  There have been plenty of blog-worthy events in my life, I have just not had the energy to put them in grammatically correct blog format. Instead, I will leave you with random thoughts that I would blog about if I had the energy. Enjoy!

If you are going to have friends in your life, know what that means to you. And know what it means to them.  

I love Miche bags, Pampered Chef, Scentsy, and C-PAP!

I found Cooper half asleep peeing in the dog food.  I am still laughing about it. Poor lil guy. Gotta love him!

I hate back pain, tooth pain, when people I love are struggling, and that my children are growing way faster than I can accept. 

Walter’s Pumpkin Patch is a fabulous place to make memories with your children and friends.

Graduate school is no joke and I am SO glad I decided to go part-time.

That’s all folks!

One day with three reasons to celebrate.

September 21st, 1968:  I made my entrance in to this world in a small town in Southwest Louisiana.  My reasons to celebrate this day have changed in the last few years. In addition to increasing the number that describes how long its been since I was born, it is a day to be thankful for the two daughters who have called me “mom.”

September 21st, 1994: “Amanda Lynn”  entered this world in a small town in Lapeer, Michigan.  When they handed her to me at 4 months old, I loved her immediately. When they told me her birthday, I knew she was mine. I knew the reason for all of those years of infertility were so we would open our hearts to other options. I remember every detail about the day we first met her. She was wearing the most adorable pair of denim overalls and had a head full of crazy curly hair.  She no longer lives in our house, and now calls us Aunt and Uncle, but she will always be a part of our family and have a place in our “home.”   I earned my mommy stripes with her and nothing changes that!  When people ask how many kids we have, I say “three,” but then take a moment to acknowledge her in my heart.  She is always there. 

September 21st, 2007: Samantha Jo White became Samantha Jo Fulenwider in a small courtroom in Wichita, Kansas.  The phone call you get when someone says “come get this baby,” is not one you ever forget. November 2003: I was sitting at work with no idea of how my life was about to change. A series of phone calls, an urgent plea for time off work, and less than 24 hours later, I was on my way to Arkansas to “get that baby.”   Three years later, we were notified that on September 21st,  a judge had granted our petition for adoption.  

September 21st! Our special day!! Three lives not bound by blood, but connected with an eternal bond.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than to celebrate two incredible girls who I get to call “mine.”   

A perfect day to reflect on the journey, and to be thankful that even though Big Daddy was not sure how it would go, he opened his heart and trusted my mantra that it would be ok.  It only took him about .5 seconds to love them too!

“You have to teach your children about your journey”

I heard this on a television program and can’t get it out of my head. What would I want to teach my children about my journey? What journey? My entire life journey? Spin-offs of my journey? I’m not really sure, but it sure has me thinking about what kinds of things I hope my kids will be thankful for learning from me.  Here are a few that stand out.  

1) Blood does not make you family. This is by far the most valuable lesson I have learned in my life.  I could talk about this for pages and pages and pages.

2) Secrets are destructive. Even when kept in order to protect. No one has a right to decide what you should or should not know about yourself. The events that people keep secret are a part of your story and you have a right to decide how they will impact your journey. 

3) You control your own destiny.  You can only expect to have the kind of life that you are willing to work for. You are not entitled to anything. Live without regrets.

4) No one is better than you because of tangible items, economic class, or popularity. You are not better than anyone else because of tangible items, economic class, or popularity. This speaks for itself.

This blog post could be a million pages full of my thoughts and opinions about things, but these are things that are on my mind today.  What do you want your kids to learn about or from your journey?

When we were told there were TWO BABIES, my immediate thought was that I hoped they could be individuals. I did not give them rhyming names and I refused to dress them alike. It consumed me as to how I could make sure they were not always “the twins.”  It even irritated me when people bought them identical outfits and referred to them as “the twins.”  

I am not sure when it happened. But it did!  I started dressing them identically and could not stop. I would hyperventilate if anyone even suggested it.  My friend, Melissa, would tell me “could you at least put different shoes on them so I can tell them apart?”  I didn’t see the point. After all, they are not identical. They are different. They look different. They act different. They are not the same! Right?!

I cannot deny that they have different personalities. From day one, they were “not the same.” I tell people all the time that these boys could not be more different if they had been born to different people!  And that is just what I always wanted for them. To be “Zachary” and “Cooper.”  Two little boys who just happened to grow in my belly at the same time. So why do I dress them the same? Probably because I am slightly insane, but that is another blog……

And so here we are. They started kindergarten this year (I know there should be a post about that, but it is still too emotional for me to put “out there,” so it will come later. Maybe.). Each night of the first week, when I was getting their clothes out for the day, I had a nagging feeling that it is time to let them pick their own clothes.  So one night, in a moment of weakness, I asked Zachary if he wanted to pick his clothes for the next day. He jumped out of his bed with cautious excitement like he was afraid I was joking.  When I assured him that he could really pick what he wanted to wear, he immediately reached for the clothes I would never have picked for school.  I took a deep breath and told him it was perfect!  All the while I was thinking I could find something “similar” for Cooper to wear and we could ease in to them both picking their own clothes. Chances are that Cooper would not even notice.

I turned back to the closet to pick Cooper’s clothes and hear “mama, can I pick my clothes?” I almost passed out.  He noticed! *curses* *curses*  *curses*   I really had no choice. It was time. He did not even look to see what Zachary picked. He reached in and picked his very own clothes. The ones he wanted to wear.

And now they go to school looking like they dressed themselves!  And I am just going to have to live with it.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work in 1990 from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.  Since then, I have had the opportunity to work in some incredible organizations.  My work experience includes direct service positions to mid-level management in the areas of criminal justice (parole), foster care, developmental disabilities (adult and children, community and institution ), and school-based prevention. 

I always wished I had a master’s degree, but never had the motivation to do it.   Until now.  Which is really crazy because doing this BEFORE we had 3 kids would have been soooooo much easier!! You learn a lot of stuff in 20 years, and I want the formal credentials to match the experience.

I have lots of experience and I know lots of stuff, but I am not “book smart,” and that part scares the crap outta me! I have always been an average student, but important people at WSU know me and have opinions about me. They expect better than average. The truth is that I am old, I am sleep deprived, my memory and concentration suck right now, and I have zero attention span.  eeeeeeeek….

My journey  in the Master Social Work program at Wichita State University starts 8/24/10.   I am doing this for me, but I hope I can make a few people proud along the way.

And as sappy as it will seem to most people who read this blog, it is very important to me that Kellie, Naomi, Ragan, and Sandi  know that I have been honored to be your colleague, friend, and sibling. You are the inspiration for this new leg of my journey. My biggest cheerleaders.

And a great big shout out for Big daddy. He is also making some sacrifices and taking a larger role with the kids and our home so I can do this. 

Wish me luck!!

I am a hermit. I like to be home. And I love my kids and want them to pursue their interests. These two things are not always compatible. I have signed them up for classes at the YMCA in the past and let them decide what they wanted to do. But I have always given them choices of what class to take based on all being in the same location at the same time.  And I have enrolled them in monthly classes so we can take a month off when we want. In all fairness, that is just not the best way to do things any more. 

We have had many discussions about what classes they want to take this fall. Cooper wants to swim. There is no wavering on his part. Samantha and Zachary can never decide.  They have gone back and forth for weeks. This morning, we finally made some decisions!! I am going to get them enrolled before they change their mind again and the classes are filled.

I also decided that in order for them to truly benefit from the instruction, they should go in a more consecutive pattern. I have to put aside my personal feelings about having to be “on the go” so often, but that is what we do as parents.  Plus, Big Daddy will be home during the week and can help as needed. 

Our final decisions are:

Cooper will be enrolled in Swim Academy where he can perfect skills and prepare for competition.  Tu/Th 5:00pm-5:45pm.

Zachary will be enrolled in Gymnastics Academy where he will focus on more competitive gymnastic skills. Sa 11:00am

Samantha will be enrolled in Cheer Academy where she will also have some opportunities for performance. Th 6:00pm

Time to get the mini-van loaded and watch my kids bloom (get used to hearing this). I will be encouraging them to do their best, but I promise not to be that crazy parent who cares more about the end result than the process.  I believe in the journey.

Here we go —>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>