Wednesday, December 21, 2016

One Year Later...A Post on the Effects of Cyber Bullying

Exactly one year ago today, our family experienced cyber bullying.

It was THE worst experience of my daughters life. The accusations, lies, malicious posts, many by people she thought were friends. One year later and she is still hesitant to talk about what happened. One year later and she still receives comments, posts, verbal slurs on a weekly basis.

Here's the worst thing about Cyber Bullying- it doesn't stay in cyberspace. It follows you around. It's as if you are wearing a huge sandwich board sign that is emblazoned in red ink with the words,
You don't know what really occurred, or even why I was "chosen" for this

There is no place to go to get away from the comments. The Internet is everywhere.
There is no place to feel safe and pull yourself together. The attacks are constant.

Silly me, as a mom, I thought it would let up. I thought that by the time Winter Break was over everything would be back to normal. Cyberspace would have moved on to someone new.

But that isn't what happened. It got worse. School started and it got worse. To the point where she couldn't go to school.
"You're such a whore."
"Why are you here?"
"You should just end it all."

Three weeks she was out of school. Could you face this everyday? As an adult, could you stand to go into work with these horrible words being thrown at you daily? Hourly?

We looked at changing schools. Not our first choice, but nothing was happening at our home school to make it better. In fact, she started getting comments about her family. We are a biracial family, so you can imagine the comments. And they were the worst comments possible.

And the school did nothing. Really what can they do? If you give up the names of people saying things, then it gets even worse. WORSE! Can you even imagine how it would get worse? Her counselor worked and worked with her, but she wouldn't say a thing. The principal didn't think it was a big deal and wouldn't meet with us, the parents.

So, here we are. One very difficult year later. Lots of tears, counseling, prayers, and we've made it this far. I say this far, because it doesn't go away. The works linger in your ears. They become part of your being. You have to fight against them constantly. New friends replace old friends. Kind words start to replace hurtful words. A stronger person starts to emerge.

I would never wish this past year on anyone. It was horrible. Nasty. It made me angry with other parents (how could they let this happen?) their children (you were her friend) her school (no place is safe). It made me face fears a parent should never face, will my child take her life? will she recover? will she give in to the rumors? Will she start to believe what "they" are saying?

 I know how our story could have ended. I read about it everyday. I watch it on the news.
We are fortunate to have friends, pastors, teachers, counselors who gathered round us and our daughter. People who prayed and listened and encouraged her at every point during her long journey. Not everyone has this. Not everyone will emerge a stronger person.

Take a moment and think, what would your child do? How would your child deal with the constant bullying?
Now decide. Decide. What will you do? If your child is being attacked?
What will you do? If you child is the attacker?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Alaska Airlines- Where Would You Travel?

Alaska Airlines is running a new ad that asks, if you could go anywhere, where would you go?

Good question.

After the ad ran one night last week, Theo piped up. "Dad, where would you go? You know, if you could go anywhere?" Chad didn't have the chance to answer before all the kids chimed in.
Nate- New York City
Celine- Disneyland, I mean Disneyworld, I mean, I don't know...
Theo- New Orleans
Chad- Italy
Me- Italy, Ireland, Greece...

And then, Mason. Mason was standing behind me and just started laughing.

"That's it? That's where you guys would go? That's so stupid. If I could go anywhere I would go inside my brain. There are so many cool places in there. There are so many places I want to go back and see again. I mean, just in my dreams I've been to some really scary places. I want to check them out. And my dreams about space, I want to go there. And the places in my brain I haven't been yet. You guys are so stupid. New York City, whatever. That's so lame."

Alaska Airlines- round trip ticket into Mason's brain please. I'd love to check that place out.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day, 2015

I'm trying a new thing this year for Mother's Day.
I'm working on embracing the day. I'm not going to lie, it hasn't been easy.

It's more than an attitude check. There are so many reasons I don't enjoy this day, but that would defeat the entire purpose of writing this, so here we go...

I am the mother of five children. F.I.V.E.
That's a lot of kids.
And it was all by choice.
We chose to have five children. CHOSE.
We were like, "Hey, you know what? We should get more kids. Because we rock this parenting thing. At least most days. Well, maybe once a week we rock it. But back to the kid thing. Let's get more."

Why more? (I've had lots of people ask).
Usually my answer is, "well, why not?" But here is my/our real reason.

Because we can.

We live in a house.
Children around the world are homeless.

We eat at least three, usually waaaaaay more, meals a day.
Children everywhere are starving.

My house is overflowing with stuff. STUFF.
In Haiti, at our children's orphanage, most of the children were barefoot.

We are rich in money.
By that I mean, in this world where we live, we are considered to be in the top 1%.

We are rich in love.
And by that, I mean, we have love to share.

Being a parent is hard. It's real work. Everyday, all day long, never stopping, you don't get breaks, kind of work.

It is physically exhausting.
I haven't slept through the night in 15 years.

It is mentally challenging.
I don't know if General Grievious would be able to defeat a T-Rex. I don't remember how to do Algebra. I really don't want to revisit the Oregon Trail again, for the 4th year. Yes, I did make a dentist appointment. Wait. No I didn't.

I'm super happy. Now I'm super sad and I don't know why. (Welcome to the world of girls.)
You are my best friend ever. I hate you. I'm going to hit you. *Fight Scene* Now you are my best friend ever, again. (Welcome to the world of boys.)
And that's is just the kids.
Because everyday my heart overflows with love and joy and everyday my heart aches and breaks for my children.

So, why do we still do it, bring home more kids?


Because hearing the sound of my children laughing together is beautiful.
I love coming home and finding a special flower on my windowsill, picked just for me.
Impromptu basketball, baseball, soccer games in the backyard are the best.
"Hey mom" is pretty much the same as, "I love you mom."
Seeing my child get excited about something new is amazing.
Bass drums, pointe shoes, soccer cleats, skateboards, and a baby dolls are scattered around my house, and one day I will miss not finding all of these things.
Dirt, sand, socks, dog hair, random toys and candy wrappers are scattered around my car. One day I will have a clean car that smells good, and secretly hope I find Darth Vader's head under my car seat.

So, there's the real answer.
I am the mother of five. I chose to be the mother of five.

Just because.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Marriage, Kids, and Sports, Oh My!

Recently we hit a rough patch in our marriage.
It happens.

And for those of you who are thinking, "Oh, that's too bad. I love my husband/wife so much. I can't even imagine fighting with them." You all can shut your mouth right now, because you are LYING.

It's work. It's a lot of work and you have to be willing to put in the effort.

So, when the times arrive, and they will, where you are tired of each other, work, the kids, the carpools, the laundry, the evenings and weekends spent at different children's sporting events/practices/classes/activities, you stop connecting with your spouse. Mostly because you just don't have time for each other.

Keep this in mind, before I go on; we've been married almost 20 years. We've had rough spots before. Again, it happens. We both know it happens. We both know we will work through the difficult time and be stronger from the experience. We know that we are 100% committed to each other and our marriage. Knowing this does not make it easier.

For example, we just came off of a really fabulous holiday season. I mean, my Christmas present was a trip to Vegas to see Justin Timberlake. Just the two of us! How great is that?

But you know how when you are on vacation and everything is perfect and then you arrive back home and REAL LIFE sets back in. That part sucks.

Back to real life and homework, and practices, and carpools, and work, and paying bills, and housework, and grocery shopping, and the piles of laundry. And after the first day back at home and all 5 kids come home from school with, get this, HOMEWORK, and I'm still doing laundry from Christmas Eve, and nobody made dinner and somebody didn't have a great day at work, well, sometimes it is just the beginning.

Because then you add in basketball practices and dance classes Monday-Friday evenings and weekend tournaments, and the results are not good. At least, not for us and our family.

So then, what do you do?
Seriously...what do you do?

Our basketball season just ended. We are both relieved. Relieved. How sad is that?
And, don't get me wrong, WE LOVE watching our children do anything that they love. For our family it's dance, basketball, and soccer.

But being too busy (as it has been), too committed to kids teams (because it is a commitment) along with daily life and work has left us NO TIME together. And by together, I mean alone, with NO CHILDREN. There have been entire weekends where we see each other in the morning over breakfast and then again crawling into bed, too tired to even recap the highlights of the game or performance.

One of my goals in life is to raise children who will be kind, respectful, independent, and productive adults, who will eventually move out of my house.
My bigger goal is to still be married to their father when they are gone. And by married, I mean happily married.

I have no real resolution for this post.

The good news,the rough patch is over. The bad news, there will be another one.
But then, that's all a part of life. This glorious, exciting, exhausting, challenging life.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ghost Stories

Last night, as we were watching TV before bedtime (because reading before bed is highly overrated), the front door blew open. A gust of wind just threw the door open and all of the children, except the one who had forgotten to completely close the front door, looked up in fear and surprise.

Imagine, if you will, watching a scary Halloween movie, and suddenly without warning, the front door bursts open and the howling wind fills the front room.

Except, we were watching Sofia the First, and I had told the errant child repeatedly and increasingly louder, to go back and shut the door.

So, the looks of, OMG what just happened?, and the cries of "Oh no, oh no!" were really funny.

Until the oldest, utilizing all of the wisdom of her scant 15 years, told the youngest that it was a ghost.


This was the following conversation:

Child 1- It was a ghost! A ghost opened the door!
Child 5- What? What a ghost?
Me- Stop it now!
#5-What a ghost?
#1- You can't see a ghost, they are invisible. Something invisible just opened the door.
Me-Stop. Now.
#5- Invisible? What invisible?
#1- A ghost is invisible. It's a person that you can't see.
#5- What? You can't see? You can't see ghost?
#1- No, you can't see it, but it's there. It's a ghost. A ghost opened the front door.
Me- You need to stop.

Child #5 is looking very worried and scared. Child #1 realizing this tries to quickly ease her fears.

#1- It was Casper.
#5- Casper? Who Casper?
#1- Casper is a ghost, but he's friendly. He's really nice. He even has a dog.
#5- Casper ghost? He make dogs?
#1- No, he doesn't make dogs, he has a dog. But you don't have to be afraid, because Casper is super nice. He likes people.
#5- I no understand Casper. He make dog but he is ghost and invisible?
#1- Hang on, I'll show you.

Child #1 then walks away and comes back with a picture of, guess who, Casper the Friendly Ghost.
Awesome. Now we have a visual.

#1- See, this is Casper. He is really nice. He's not scary.
#5- This is Casper? But he is invisible?
#1- This is a picture of Casper. He's a ghost. If he was here you wouldn't be able to see him. But see, he's not scary. He's really nice.

And so my evening ended. With a very proud 15 year asleep in her own bed, and a very scared 7 year old, curled up next to me, elbow nestled into my spine, asleep in my bed.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Everything I Say Ends in "Oui?"

Three months into having five children and I've learned a few things.

You can NEVER have too much bacon in the house.
          "What do you want for breakfast?"
            "What would you like in your lunch?"
               "What do you want for a snack?"
                  "What should we make for dinner?"
The answer is ALWAYS bacon.

Roasting two chickens at one time is not enough food for even two nights.
Roasting tons of vegetables with two chickens is enough to last for weeks.

All children like Cola.

Glass elevators are really scary.
I mean, glass elevators are super fun.

Movie theaters are dark and loud. (Really should have thought this one through beforehand.)

Everyone loves music and everyone loves to dance.

Homework is homework and nobody wants to do it. EVER.

Shooting a gun is innate to every boy.

Everything I say ends in "Oui?" 
      Would you like some bacon, oui?
        It's time for school, oui?
          I really need you to sit down and start your homework, oui?

My black hair braiding skills are slowly becoming acceptable to my daughter. (It is a completely new skill set.)

All little girls need a daddy to dote on them.

All little boys need a daddy to lead them by example.

Every child wants to be loved.
       Love won't cure every child.
         Pain and heartache can seemingly last forever.

A mother's heart can be broken every single day. 
       And, then, mended every single night as you watch your children sleep.  


Change is hard.

We knew adding two more children to our family would be challenging. We did not enter into this adoption blind. We've done this before. We knew what to expect and we knew to have absolutely no expectations.

We are quickly emerging from our cocooning state. It didn't last as long as we thought, again, expectations. These new kids slipped right into family life and routine.

Our older kids, not so much.

Three and a half years is a long time to wait for siblings.

It gives you way too much time to create all kinds of scenarios in your mind of what they will be like. How much fun you will have together. How you are going to teach them all about Star Wars, and X-Box, and basketball, and dance. How sharing a room is going to be the Best Thing Ever!

You create all kinds of Expectations.

Then, when they do finally arrive home your life is never the same.

Immediately you think, this isn't fun. The new kids demand a lot of attention. They whine and even cry, sometimes for hours (seriously hours). They copy everything you say and when they talk to each other in creole you are 100% sure they are making fun of you.

You find out that your new brother doesn't like Star Wars (how is this even possible?). He prefers soccer over basketball, and could care less about the X-Box. Your new sister follows you around all day long. She won't leave you alone. Ever. And, sharing your bedroom SUCKS!

You ask when the kids are going back to Haiti, and get upset when you find out the answer is never. Adoption is forever. Just like you, these kids are here to stay.

But, bit by bit, day by day, you discover these new kids might not be so bad.

Your new brother loves the Avengers! In fact he watches the movie everyday, sometimes in French. He also loves wearing your costumes and running around shooting nerf guns. A couple of months in, you find he actually prefers the Wii over the X-Box.

That little sister? She just wants to play. If she's bugging you too much, you learn to hand her a doll or a gun (whatever) and suddenly she is golden.

And slowly, while not without struggle, you learn that change can be good.
And, that your life will never be the same.
And, that's ok.
You think.