Friday, January 23, 2009

I Can Let Them Grow Up

It really didn't occur to me 15 years ago when I was holding my first golden-haired baby girl in my arms that she would actually grow up. But she is. And I'm going to be okay, I think.

Samantha Rae turned 15 on Wednesday. She was so excited and so funny on Tuesday. She kept coming in and telling me "I'm going to be 15" "I'll be 15 tomorrow" "I'm almost 15." HA like I didn't know!

I think she had a pretty good day. We have a tradition that the birthday girl gets to have dinner with one friend at the restaurant of their choosing. So Britni and I took Sami and her boyfriend to dinner at International Buffet and had a perfect evening. Tomorrow Sami and I are going shopping for a *complete* outfit - clothes, accessories, the works. I remember browsing the baby and toddler girl clothes (SO cute) and buying like a maniac with a bottomless pit of money. I have learned over the past couple of years that it is futile to try and buy a single piece of clothing for these girls unless they are within arm's reach to approve the purchase. I got tired of taking things back for exchange/refund, so now their birthday gift is a shop-day with mom. Everyone is happy that way - they get what they want (clothes it wouldn't occur to me to buy) and I get what I want (a beautiful day with my daughter). No more unwanted clothes relegated to the back of the closet never to be worn.

Anyway, back to Miss 15....Sami and I have been through a lot in the past 6 months and although I will probably never know all the motivating factors behind her behavior and personal choices, we have managed to talk it through honestly, work on some compromises, and set reasonable expectations. About a month ago, she woke up one day and was more balanced, starting participating more in the family, and conducted herself in the mature manner I have so missed. She reached a turning point somewhere between Thanksgiving and 15.

So what is it about 15? I don't know, and I guess in the whole scheme of things the "what" isn't really important. Something clicked for her and she is showing more willingness to be responsible and accountable. She actually wants to go to school, she wants to get a job, she wants to keep her room picked up, and most importantly right now, she wants to stay away from and out of trouble! She'll be clear of her court sanctions on February 25, and on that day I'm going to take her to get her Learner's Permit and enroll her in driving classes - she's on the path to proving I can trust her and she's working hard to overcome her missteps (you'll notice I *never* say mistakes).

If this is what growing up is, then I can let it happen and it really will be okay. Well, it will be okay until she actually gets in the driver's seat of my car!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

For Karen, Friend of My Heart

Today my first born baby girl is 15 (more on that later), and it naturally got me thinking about the day she was born and all the days since then. And I read some tweets from my dear cyber-friend Karen about some mischief her 3 year-old triplets were getting into, and naturally that got me thinking again about my own babies growing up. I'm certainly no expert and my girls are far from perfect, but God put a few things on my heart today for Karen, and probably for me, too, so here it is.

First, what I know to be true is that God doesn't make mistakes. Given that, the children He blesses us with are the children He intended to entrust to us, for better or worse. Not a single one of us will be a perfect parent and not a single one of us will have all the answers all the time. Each child the Lord creates is a unique person that will present us with a unique set of challenges to help us grow into the parent He needs us to be for that child. I suspect He also uses these challenges to help us plant the proper seeds and grow our children to be a delight in His eyes. We can sow, plant, water, weed, and fertilize our gardens of blessing, but sometimes - just like a real garden - we have an occasional wilter or some bugs that sneak in when we're not looking. Would you plow under the whole garden? Of course not! We put on our gloves and do what we have learned through experience works to revive it. And if we don't have that experience yet, well, we're about to get it!

When my girls were toddlers, I was fascinated at the way they went about learning. They explored so many things in so many different ways, the mind of an innocent trying to take in so much. That leads me to the next thing I know to be true: toddlers are natural disasters waiting to happen! No matter how many times I told my kids "no, danger" they just had to find out the hard way. No matter how many things I hid from them, they just had to figure out a way to find them. No matter how many times I scolded them for getting out of bed in the middle of the night, they just had to get up to be sure they weren't missing something important or fun. This is how our children learn! We cannot possible teach them everything ourselves, they need to get out there and learn to learn on their own. Of course, we need to keep them safe and set boundaries, but don't kid yourself and think that just because you say "no" that's the end of it! No is a fantasy word that tricks us into thinking we've resolved the situation, when in fact, we're probably just enticing the child to find out why not. Sounds like learning to me....

I've faced some very severe challenges with my oldest in the past two years, and quite honestly, felt like I had totally failed her and wasn't going to be able to save her from herself. We have weathered smoking cigarettes and marijuana, sneaking out in the middle of the night, running away, drinking, habitual truancy, and constant lying. AND SHE JUST TURNED 15 TODAY!

I have a wonderful church family that I love very much, but there are a few who judge me harshly and don't approve of my parenting. You know what? That's okay. I seek the Lord for guidance and don't need the approval of other moms. Now, I don't mean that in a nasty or haughty way, what I mean is they have a different situation with a different set of challenges and cannot possible know what the Lord intends for us. For whatever reason He chose to bless me with what I have, yes, I said bless! Sami and I are working through her missteps and she is taking many lessons into her heart. And I have had the opportunity to take steps to show her how much I love her and I will never give up on her - no matter how much trouble she causes or gets into, no matter how many times I have to pick her up at the police station, no matter how much money I have to pay in court fees. She is a BLESSING FROM GOD and I embrace her with all my heart and soul.

I understand Sami has to deal with some special situations that other kids don't have - I have incurable cancer and her dad has abandoned her, she struggles to find her place and an outlet for her interests. She is highly intelligent and has little patience, she wants to excel but only in things she's interested in, not necessarily what might be required (hence the issue with truancy earlier this year).

Take a step back and really look at your kids and see the individuals and the special talents they have. We each have a purpose and something different to contribute, but we cannot reach our potential if we are treated exactly the same. My girls are exactly 18 months apart but so very different, and I treat them differently as a result. I don't feel like I'm ever playing favorites, only playing to their strengths and weaknesses, their individual needs and desires. If anyone ever tells you that you are not a worthy parent, remind them that God knows you are. He has never given up on you through all of your missteps, don't give up on Him and His wisdom in blessing you with your beautiful babies.

And finally, prepare yourself - the learning ain't done yet LOL Those babies have little brains that are just waiting to be filled up and want to see, touch, and smell everything in their path, and a few things that aren't. If the worst of your worries right now is cleaning up a trashed bathroom and wiping nail polish off 6 arms, well my friend, cherish those moments because they'll be gone before you know it. Wrap all those arms around you and thank God for choosing you to share in their delight of discovery. xoxo

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2 Weeks?! Yikes!

I SO intended to do a better job posting regular tidbits to my blog, even if it was just mundane everyday stuff - but 2 weeks without a post - that's not very regular! I guess I could blame it on "stuff" happening that stole away my time, but the truth is, I just didn't have the motivation to do it. Well, let's catch up....

My test results were not surprising - blood pressure up AGAIN so I'm back on meds for that, tumor markers are up and if they're up again in February I'll have to change cancer meds yet again, I think I have one or two options before having to go back to chemo. I did manage to gain a pound - at least one number is moving in the right direction! I had a couple cycles of migraines and arthritis flair-ups recently, but have been feeling pretty decent for the most part.

Sami went back to school today after a month-long break. While she was home she was able to complete almost all 70 hours of her community service (I think she has less than 20 hours left), and her alcohol aversion class. I'll be so glad to put her missteps behind us! Her report card was stellar - 5 As and 2 Bs. She was very excited to start a new term today and is anxious for new classes. She requested Dance and Yoga, Psychology, and an AP Literature class.

Britni is home sick today, I think it's another anxiety attack. Seems like these are getting worse and more frequent, and I still on the hunt for a good adolescent counselor. I did get a good recommendation from a dear friend and will call today. In the meantime, I've got to run out for more chicken soup and Gatorade for my little sweetie. I've got a few coupons for on-sale items that I will take advantage of while I'm out.

I'm on a major declutter mission in my home this week and will post all about it later today after I get Britni settled and feeling better. I was dreading getting started but now that I have, it's actually been fun and very liberating. Can't wait to share!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Coincidence - I Think Not.....

Haha I was just blogging about how much driving I do back and forth and guess what I just found? A cute little thing called a Console Organizer. It's a purse, it's an organizer, it's a carrier, it's amazing! Let me tell you about it, then you can click the Organizing with Sandy Reviews button on the right, or the Pouchee button, and see it for yourself! Then, you can enter to win one FREE!!!

I envision this for me as a carrier/organizer to hold lab results, valet parking stubs (no other choice but valet park at the hospital), a few small snacks for long chemo days, car keys, cell phone, appointment cards, even a notepad to jot things down before my short-term memory crashes yet one more time. This is something small you can grab and go. I am so loving this organizer I'll have to buy one if I don't win one!! Of course, it can be used for just about anything that needs organizing, and I know we all have something that can be better organized :)

What are you waiting for - click the button!

Just Waiting

I went to the doctor yesterday, my official 5-year milestone. I guess thinking about driving 25 miles each way anywhere from 2-5 times per month for the past 5 years has finally sunk it - I'm tired!! Ok, five years surviving ANY Stage IV cancer is a big deal, and IBC is particularly sneaky and nasty so I'm pretty happy about that part. I'm not better, but I'm not considerably worse than when I started this part of my journey, so holding fairly stable is an okay place to be. Now, I'm just waiting - waiting for my test results, waiting to find out if my new medicines are working, waiting to hear if(when) I will start chemo again, waiting, waiting, waiting. I'm tired of that, too! I have some extra concerns right now, not sure if my kidney is working right or maybe has some metastisis, so the doctor is checking that. I've been so very blessed not to have had any organ involvement at all, and I would so very much like it to stay that way :) So, we'll wait some more and see what happens. My healing and the balance of my life is in the best hands possible--my Father God!