Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Plenty of love to go around ~ a guest post

With the magic of modern-day technology, I’ve been fortunate to connect with moms from around the country who are an inspiration. Kelly B. from Florida is one such mom. A former high school classmate of mine, she has lovingly opened her heart and her home to children in need. Right now, she and her husband have five children under six in their care including their young son Isaiah. They welcomed him as a baby into their lives through adoption more than five years ago. This is Kelly’s story in her own words:
Growing up, Mother's Day was just another day on the calendar to do something nice for your mom, give her a card and tell her, “I love you.” Some of the same things that you would do on any day of the week. After one failed marriage that ended at age 29, I often wondered what it would be like to be a mom and if I would ever have that opportunity. I remarried and went through several years of fertility treatments, disappointment, and heartaches. We finally decided on adoption and that too was disappointing. We were finally matched with a young couple and a month before the baby was due, she changed her mind. That day was the worst and the best day of my life. Later that evening, I received a phone call after celebrating my 40th birthday with family and friends. The voice on the other end of the phone said they wanted me to raise their son. She wanted him to have everything she never had. That night I became a mom to a five month old boy.

My son is the greatest blessing! I will forever be grateful to his birth mother for making a brave and unselfish decision for her baby. He is now 5 1/2 years old, and it astonishes me as to how the time has flown by. He will start kindergarten in the fall. It is a joy to wake up every day and see his smiling face and for him to tell me, "Mommy, I love you!" or "Mommy, you are the bestest mommy in the whole wide world!" He also has a nick name for me and calls me "Mama doll" and I call him my "Baby doll".

Last July, we made the decision to become foster parents. I resigned from my job as a medical biller at a chiropractor’s office and we started attending training classes; while I reorganized and prepared our house for additional children. We became licensed right around Thanksgiving of last year and had two young boys placed with us. We've also had a few others in between that have come and gone. The boys are currently still with us; as well as a new placement.

It is a rewarding job being available to mother these children. To love them, comfort them, provide structure, guide them, teach them and so on. Nobody ever said it would be easy. With love and patience though - it's such a joy to see them smile, hear their laugh and giggles and see a sparkle in their eyes. More kids to call me "mommy”. It's taken some adjustments for my son to not be the only child. I have pointed out to my son that I will always love him and that we can love many people; that there is plenty of love to go around. I cherish our moments together! I also am blessed to share these memories with my mother and my grandmother. They are the two most important women in my life. I may not have been blessed with the ability to have biological children of my own but God guided me to be a mother - where I was needed.

I want to thank Kelly for sharing her story on leMOMade. She is truly an example of a woman who has turned lemons into lemonade by making the difference in the lives of many children. Do you have an inspirational story to share? Send me an email using the link on the left, and I will send you the details about how to do so.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Just laugh

Sometimes life as a mom gets hetic! It's busy right now with the end-of-the-school-year stuff and the anticipation of summer vacation. At such times, it's good to just stop, take a breath, then LAUGH!

Here are a few quotes about parenting that make me laugh:

When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they're finished, I climb out. ~ Erma Bombeck
That's just like staying in the bathroom for much more time than you need to just so you can have a minute or two to yourself!
Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. ~ Phyllis Diller
Where does all the stuff come from, and when you put it away, why does it show up again later?
The quickest way for a parent to get a child's attention is to sit down and look comfortable. ~ Lane Olinghouse
This happens more often than not - "MOM, can you . . . ?"

In the book, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms" author Kristine Carlson devotes a chapter to this very topic. She writes:
On those days when everything seems to be going wrong - or does go wrong - you just have to step back and laugh. Laughter is a great healer. It lets out pressure and stress, and restores perspective.
I just finished reading Carlson's book, and I wrote a review about it on my other blog - 2friends3things1blog. If you would like to WIN, yes WIN, a brand-new copy of the book (I'm keeping mine), you can post a comment here, on the 3 Things blog, or follow LeMOMade on Facebook - see the link in the right sidebar. A winner will be chosen at random on Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Quote of the Week

Some wise words from one of my favorite stuffed-with-fluff character and his friend Christopher Robin . . .

“What I like doing best is Nothing."

"How do you do Nothing," asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.

"Well, it's when people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, 'What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?' and you say, 'Oh, Nothing,' and then you go and do it.
It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."

"Oh!" said Pooh.”

~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Take a tip from Pooh and friends, take a moment to do Nothing today.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Mommy Wars

There's been a buzz in some media circles about the latest issue of Time magazine which features a provocative photo of a young mom "nursing" her almost 4-year-old son on the cover to illustrate an article about attachment parenting. I say "nursing" in quotes because I've never seen a mom nurse a baby or a child in quite that manner - ever. She is standing staring at the camera with her tank top pulled down on one side, while her son stands on a chair to nurse. The mom in the photo stated during a recent Today Show interview that she does not nurse her son like that at home. Really? Big surprise. The photo in and of itself is alarming, and its meant to spark controversy, but the headline "Are you MOM enough?" makes me angry, and from what I've been reading around the blogosphere, I am not alone.

Why? Because once again the media prompts mothers to second-guess their judgement about how to be a good parent. Breastfeeding vs. formula feeding? Co-sleeping vs. babies sleeping in their own cribs? Homemade baby food or food from a jar? Cloth diapers vs. disposable? Stay at home or go back to work? The list of parenting choices goes on, and on, and on . . . but the bottom line is that a mother has the right to make the choices that work for her child and her family, and she should be respected for those choices by other mothers even if they disagree.

Now before I go on, I am not in the attachment parenting camp. I did not wear my babies in a sling or let them sleep in our bed for more than an occasional nap. I did not nurse my children for more than a few weeks. I tried, but was not successful for many reasons, most of all because my supply did not meet their demand. With both of my children, I needed to supplement with formula to be sure they were getting properly nourished to thrive and grow. After several frustrating weeks of trying to feed my son this way, it finally took a good friend to tell me, "If it is not working out, just stop and use formula. It's OK." When I heard those words, it was like a huge weight had been lifted. She was right. It was OK to use formula. I did not have to feel guilty, frustrated or worried that I was not doing the "right" thing for my baby. I needed her support. I needed a fellow mother to say everything would be alright.

More than 10 years later, my kids are alright. They are happy and healthy, and all around good kids. They are not perfect, but neither am I. As my children change and grow, I will continue to seek the support of friends when new parenting challenges arise. That's why the headline on Time's cover bugs me so much. We don't need the media filling our heads with more self doubt and worry about whether or not we are good enough at raising our children. Mothers have so much in common despite different parenting styles or child-rearing choices. We need to build each other up, not tear each other apart. We need to motivate, support, and inspire each other. One mother is not "more" of a mother because she does things differently from another. All mothers who love, nurture, and keep their children safe and healthy are mom enough, don't you think?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Let's Hear it for the Moms!

Being a mom is hard work, no doubt about that. I came across this commercial on You Tube recently that honors moms and their commitment to helping their children follow their dreams, in this case, Olympic dreams. It's a touching ad that hits home for me as a parent of a gymnast and a soccer player who have to be here, there, and everywhere for practice, a meet, or a game. Not only do they have to be there, they have to be there on time with clean leotards, warm-ups, uniforms, gear, water, snacks, and confidence.

When we attended my daughter's first National YMCA gymnastics meet last summer, the speaker at the opening ceremonies, 1984 Gold Medal gymnast Peter Vidmar, had all of the gymnasts in the stadium stand up to applaud their moms (and dads too) for taking them to and fro to compete in the sport that they love. It was awesome!

All moms, dads, and caregivers should be applauded for all they do for their children, Olympic contenders or not. I give a big hand to my mom, a mother of three girls, who was a Brownie leader, a PTA mom, a swim team fan, a marching band booster, and much more. As a band booster, she not only chaperoned overnight marching band camp in a dusty old high school in the middle of a cornfield, but travelled back and forth with a busload of teenagers in the band so they could perform at Disney World duing spring break. To his credit, my dad also served as a chaperone for that same trip, but he elected to fly from Chicago to Orlando and home again. (I'm not sure how he worked out that sweet deal, but it was quite clever on his part.)

A few weeks ago, one of my husband's co-workers asked him why he takes our kids around the world so they can participate in all of their activities. My response to that person would have been "Why not?" As a mom, as a parent, you just do it. That's why!

So here is a little shout out to all the dedicated moms out there - thank you for doing what you do, be it cheering on the sidelines, washing stinky socks and uniforms, making snacks for the team, re-heating dinner for a tired child, and taking your kids here, there, and everywhere to help them follow their dreams.

*If you enjoyed P&G's 2012 Olympic's commercial, here is another short, but sweet advert sent to me from my big sis who lives in London.

Happy Mother's Day! Love, Sue

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quote of the Week

"There must be more to life than having everything" ~ Maurice Sendak, author/illustrator
Sendak, most widely known for his book, "Where the Wild Things Are," died early Tuesday at the age of 83. Upon hearing the news of his passing, I felt a little melancholy. Although I'm not a huge fan of his work, I do admire his creativity and imagination as an artist. I also remember one of my favorite Sendak books from my childhood, "Chicken Soup with Rice." It's a cheery tale about eating chicken soup at any time of the year. That idea sounds quite simple, but it is appealing because the infamous broth is often viewed as a healer of many ills.

We can't possibly have everything in life, but we can have chicken soup!
Enjoy this version of the story sung by Carole King, from the musical "Really Rosie."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Flops to Tops: Bake once, bake twice - nice!

Mishaps in the kitchen, DIY projects gone horribly wrong, or picture-perfect crafts turning out not-so-crafty. We've all had them - FLOPS! The question is what did you do about them? Throw in the towel, start over, try again? It's the Flops to Tops feature at LeMOMade where we celebrate turning slip ups into success stories.

This is the story of two little lamb cakes. One, a fine nicely-frosted fellow, ended up on the Easter buffet. The other, well, he turned into toast, french toast that is.

It was Good Friday. I was mixing up a big bowl of poundcake batter with the help of my freckled-face son in preparation for making the most beautiful lamb cake EVER! The Kitchen Aid did its job and the cake pan was all buttered up and ready to go. I filled the pan, tied it with string, popped it in the oven, set the timer, then hoped and prayed.  I prayed the little lamb would slip right out of the pan without mishap.

Ding! The timer went off. Hmmm, some batter leaked out of the pan. No worries though because a cookie sheet caught the mess. We let the cake cool, then came the moment of truth. Did the little lamb come out of the mold without harm?

Duh Duh Duhhhhhh . . . the suspense is killing you I just know it. The little lamb flopped. He stuck to the pan, one ear fell off, and due to an unfortunate baker's error - he had no face! "We can just fix him up with frosting," I suggested to the kids. NOPE, completely unacceptable to the pint-sized connoisseurs of fine baking in the house.

Thanks goodness for the big bowl of batter! (Tip: When making a molded cake prepare extra batter just in case) So I washed the pan, which btw is a pain in the lamb's butt, and I lubed it all up again for take two. Fill, tie, bake, wait, pray, cool, unmold . . . TA DA! Except for part of an ear falling off, this lamb was good to go. Rejoice, be glad, and use a toothpick and some frosting to re-attach the ear. We frosted the cake, then added green eyes and a cute pink nose with jellybeans. We made green grass with coconut and food coloring, then decorated the plate with the grass, some jelly beans and chocolate eggs. Done!

Now, you might be wondering what happened to the first flopped lamb. After we nibbled on the overflow of cake,  we wrapped him up then put him in the freezer for two weeks or so.  About a week ago, he rose from the dead so to speak to become a tasty dinner of french toast pound cake with fresh sliced strawberries. YUM!

*I used a recipe from this story in the Chicago Tribune's Good Eating section for the poundcake, but you can use your own recipe or a store-bought poundcake - even easier!

To make the French Toast:
Whisk 2 eggs with about 1/2 cup of milk, a teaspoon of vanilla and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Dunk 1/2-inch-thick slices of poundcake in egg mixture and fry in butter over medium heat until golden brown. Flip and repeat. Serve with your favorite french toast toppings.

Do you have a baking or cooking mishap that you creatively turned into something good to eat? Other flops? Tell us about it. See the Share Some Sips section on the left.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Squeezing out Stress

A LeMOMade feature where readers can exchange ideas and inspiration about how they cope with stress.
Two clogged toilets, one kid who fell asleep on the couch (which means he's probably getting sick), four kids who need homework help, two kids who aren't listening to anything I ask them to do, a hubby who's stuck on a conference call, a mom with severe lack of sleep, a kid who needs help printing pictures for a 4th grade assignment, I haven't started dinner or changed the laundry and a headache that just won't quit......I AM NOT STRESSED! REALLY, I'm NOT.
(send chocolate QUICK!!!)
~ Recent Facebook status of Carrie, awesome mom of the Five Fab, blogger at My Mad Fab World, and LeMOMade's very first guest contributor!

Carrie is not alone. Busy women around the world are stressed OUT! What do most women do to handle stress? According to a study published in the July 2000 issue of Psychological Review, women were more likely to deal with stress by nurturing those around them and reaching out to others. Researchers label this reaction as "Tend and Befriend" which is much different from men's response to stress - the Fight or Flight strategy. Researchers discovered one reason women cope with stress in this way is due in large part to oxytocin combined with female reproductive hormones. With smaller amounts of oxytocin, men tend to keep stress to themselves and escape with a distraction, or fight back.

In a recent post on her blog. Carrie describes how she deals with stress. Here are two ways she "tends and befriends" in response to chaos in her life. She writes:

I have friends. Friends who make me laugh when I am being stupid. Friends who listen to my occasional rant, sometimes commiserate with me. Friends who aren't afraid to tell me that I'm being petty, argumentative, selfish, etc. Friends who will pick up a phone or send me an email or private message. Friends who will make me giggle when I need it most. Friends who will take my Fabs so I can have a moment's peace. Friends who can tell me that I'll get through this, that I will survive, and that it will eventually be ok. Not perfect, but ok. You need to have friends in your life who are willing to speak the truth to you - even if it stings a bit. Friends who will encourage you, challenge you and help you grow.
I have prayer. You might not think this is important, but I beg to disagree. When all the world is crumbling around you, if you can just stop and pray, it changes your mindset, your mood, your outlook. Prayer has the wonderful ability to bring things back into proper perspective if you let it. Not only do I have the power to pray for myself., but I have the power to pray for others - and this is huge to me. When I stop to think about the friends I have who will stop whatever is happening in their lives, and give up just 1-2 minutes out of their crazy, hectic day to pray for ME, little ME, it gives me such feelings of warmth, value, friendship, hope, peace and love all wrapped up in one small prayer. No, it doesn't answer all my questions, take away all my fears, fix all of my problems, but it does make a huge difference in my thinking, my actions, my faith.
Like Carrie, friendship and prayer have helped me through many stressful times. What do you do squeeze out stress? Share your ideas with LeMOMade!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Quote of the Week

I'm a sucker for quotes. Here's one I came across recently from former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt known as one of the most outspoken women in the White House. I think her words speak volumes.

A Mini-Biography of Eleanor Roosevelt

Do you have an inspirational quote to share with LeMOMade? If so, see the Share Some Sips section in the left sidebar.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lots of Lemons

Do you look at the sunny side of life?
Do you see the world through through rose-colored glasses?
Are you a mom, like a mom, or even a Mr. Mom? Grandma, aunt, sister, or friend?

If you answered yes to those questions then you’re in the right place. If you answered no, you’re in the right place too. Welcome to LeMOMade ~ a place to gather for a pitcher full of inspiration, motivation, hope, faith, and fun. Come sit and sip awhile. I'm so happy you're here. Take a moment to read about the life lessons I'm learning on my journey with chronic illness . . .

It's hard to take the bad things that happen to us and make them good - to keep your chin up, to stay positive, and to roll with the punches. How do we cope during challenging times? How do we make lemonade out of lemons? I’m not sure I know the answer to those questions. It depends on many factors: the circumstances, the course of events, the actions and reactions of yourself and others, how bad is the bad, and so on.

For me, the diagnosis of a rare, chronic, life-threatening disease without a cure was indeed a very bad thing to happen to me and family eight years ago when I was a young mother of two energetic toddlers. (See My Story for more details) This challenge continues to be a not-so-good thing to this day. How can I look at this very bad thing, and find the good in it? It’s not easy, in fact, it's very, very hard. Despite my struggles, I do try to squeeze some juice out of the lemons each day. One way is to look at the life lessons I have learned on my journey so far:
  • Perspective. It’s taken me some time, but I think my perspective on life has changed quite a bit since my diagnosis. Like the book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” I try to let go of the little things in life that used to bother me in the past.
  • Compassion. I believe I’m becoming a more compassionate person because of chronic illness. Perhaps that man walking very slowly in front of me has a heart condition, or perhaps that poorly-dressed family cannot afford new clothes because the father has been out of work for quite some time. We may not know the burdens faced by others. Their journey is very different from our own.
  • Perseverance. Some days I just would like to crawl under the covers and stay there forever. But I can’t. I have a husband, two kids, and family and friends who need and love me. I have to take my medications, visit my doctors, endure medical tests, exercise, rest, and take care of myself despite my limitations. I have to keep on keeping on. I have to keep my glass half full even though I might spill a bit along the way.

Excerpts from this post original appeared in Making Lemonade on the 2 friends 3 things 1 blog in July 2011.