Category Archives: misc

Happy 16th Birthday My Precious Son….and words from my heart to your birthmother….Adoption is sacred. Thank You Miss Irina.

First…Let’s start with some pictures of our celebration of “CHASE”! 



 TRYING to get a “WE LOVE CHASE ON HIS BIRTHDAY” picture but Trey (far left) is NOT cooperating.

I get a bit frustrated :)

GASP!  16 yrs old? HOW IN THE WORLD????? cry.

Chase is a “BRONY” is is a totally odd teen boy phenom. So weird.

Hiding inside the “Brony” cap was…..his enrollement into “Driver’s Ed”. gasp. Stay off the sidewalks my friends ;) In Indiana, he can, legally, get his license at 16.5 yrs with Driver’s Ed. But….that’s if Mom & Dad think the general public will be safe :)

The gift he’d asked for…I love the “OH!” on his face!


The above was our little family celebration on his actual birthday…Oct. 31 :)

A few days later…We had a “Super Major Scavenger Hunt” Birthday party for Chase and his friends…

BWWHAHAHAHAHAHAH……We made sure ALL of his friends saw this banner when they walked in :)

The scavenger hunt put together by “Mr. Master Scavenger”  (aka: Jim). It was a CRAZY hunt…and fun.

(pre-hunt) A lot of beautiful teenage kids in this room..beautiful and handsome inside and out.

Some of Chase’s great friends…Tayler and Erik….

(Post-Hunt)  Mr. Master Scavenger is tallying the points….

THE WINNING TEAM!

THE LOSING TEAM…though they seem not to care?!

I’m sorta over the top proud of the coup that I pulled on Chase…He didn’t know about the masks until I handed them out :)

bbwwhahahahahahahaha

Tayler PAINTED CHASE HIS FAVORITE PAINTING!  “A Starry Night”… how exceptionally thoughtful?!  Tayler and Chase “like” each other. We have met and talked with her parents. We are all on the same page…it’s scary yet exciting to see Chase enter this new phase of his life.

Aven got bored at the teenager’s party ;)

Time to hurt a pinata!

Suddenly…our front door opens and we are under a “Silly String Attack” that knew no end! A few party attendees that had “left early”  (neighborhood friends) came back and ended the party on a well…sticky note!

At first, Jim and I were like, “WOW! Silly String in our house? All OVER our house?” but then…ya just got to roll with it. Hearing the laughter made us laugh.

Happily, Jim discovered that silly string comes off of most materials with little to no effort except….leather ;) hmmm

CHASE HAS BEEN ‘DONNED’ “SIXTEEN” …. tis official….            






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Some beautiful celebrating for a beautiful kid with a beautiful soul. 

Chase continues to radiate “good” and “positive”  (except in those dang puberty-ridden moments ;) . I am continually amazed at his servant’s heart and I learn from it daily. I am not NEARLY as good of a servant to others as my 16 yr old is.  He is -genuinely- concerned about how people he barely knows are doing or if I need another cup of tea :)   He is a treasure beyond price and we had NO idea what an impact this child would have upon our souls, our hearts, our actions, and our thoughts. He has taught us so much….Thank you my sweetest Sunshine Boy…I am eternally grateful for the lessons I have learned from you….

This year…I feel like I’d like to put some words down “to” his birthmomma. We do not have a relationship with her as it was a closed, Russian adoption. However, about 4 years ago we hired a private investigator to find her. We wanted her to know that her son was loved and happy. We also wanted to “know” her and have some pictures for Chase to cherish. 

The search was successful and we now know so much more about Chase’s birthfamily and Miss Irina, his precious birthmomma, now knows that Chase is thriving. 

So…..

Dear Irina,

16 years ago, you gave birth to a son. 
A son that came into this world way to early. I can only imagine that you were scared for yourself and for him.

I know that your heart was tattered and left in pieces as you released your pre-mature son into the hand of the hospital. 
 I can only barely imagine the nights of sleep you lost wondering if he was gaining strength, was he warm, was he crying, was he even alive?  How hard it must have been not to check on him.

But, the selfless act of releasing your child into the hands of others changed the future for so many and in so many positive ways. I wish SO MUCH that you could have know that as you were surely riddled with questions and confusion about what had transpired.
I am thrilled that you now know that Chase was adopted, is loved beyond measure, and is a beam of sunshine to those he encounters. 
But, the 12 years that you did not know? Well…I don’t even know what to say. But I can say, again, that I am so relieved that you now know he is okay.

Irina….You are a woman of power, fortitude, and wisdom. But most of all… love.
You did not simply walk away from a child.
 You did WHAT WAS BEST FOR HIM IN THAT MOMENT. There were extenuating circumstances of course but, obviously, they have become nominal haven’t they? :)
You had the strength to love enough to do the right thing.
I believe other women in your position would have wavered. 
 
I believe I would have wavered. 
 
I would have been selfish.
 
 I am not sure I could have released my child into the hands of the people that could do the most and the best for him even when I knew his life with me would be a constant struggle and even dangerous.
 
Ove the years, I have had the amazing honor of holding my 2 newborns just after delivery.  I had  them after I had held “our” son, Chase.
 
When I looked at my newborns….I thought of you.
 
 I thought of your bravery. 
 
Your sacrifice. 
 
Then I would look at the amazing 3 yr old and then 6 yr old that was in front of me while I held my new babies and I was simply in awe of your actions.
 
That beautiful child that cuddled up into my hospital bed after my two deliveries…sang to his new brother, offered to let a new brother borrow his teeth, offered to change a diaper, tried to force pacifiers into tiny mouths because he knew that should comfort his new “baby”.
 
I wish you could have seen your son in action. 
 
This son that, yes…Jim and I have raised and poured our souls and lives into…but one who carries your DNA and has part of you and his birthfather within him. 
 
Together, the four of us have somehow nurtured this precious angel into a young man that is self-less, radiant, and oh so positive in his outlook.
 
Irina, thank you.
 
Irina, thank you.
 
Irina, thank you.
 
You did the impossible for our family. You allowed your son to become ours.
 
I will never be able to express my love and appreciation. 
 
But please know…you are not forgotten in our home. You are honored and talked about often. You are held in the cusp of our families hands with a gentleness because we treasure you so intensely.
 
Irina, thank you.
 
Irina, thank you.
 
All my love,
the Second Mother of your son,
 
Andrea

(little bloggin’ break….) Sharing moments of time and then my birthday letter to my oldest…I’ll need tissues.


So….
We’ve just been sitting at home watching the paint peel. :)

This has been a busier autumn than we’ve had in a quite awhile…and for that I am EXTREMELY grateful. It means Momma feels like doing stuff!! 
Whip out those pumpkins and costumes!
 Go get some hay!  ;)
It’s been fantastic to get a bit more of ‘life’ restored as we continue to fight my PTSD. 
The acupuncture seems to really be helping..along with yet another new therapy God led us to called “Cranio-Sacral”.  It is really weird but really useful. It helps your “muscle memory” (brain, or where you were injured) release the tension and energy from what your mind has been replaying and replaying since the traumatic event(s).
I am convinced the secret to solving my PTSD does not lie in pharmceuticals (though I am on them and need them, etc) but in techniques that help my own body find the solutions and make “me” work better. 
(and then I wouldn’t have to swallow nasty pills at night…I hate swallowing pills. But I am thankful for them for now..)

There has been a large pot of “blah” since I last blogged though. I ‘think’ that’s why I just haven’t written my thoughts out here lately…

Yep.  A lot of blah…

We’ve had a great, huge “sinkhole” of sorts happen in a part of our lives (relational) and MAN it zaps you and disappoints you in ways that are almost undefinable.

We have been in a sinkhole before. In fact, cheerio!, this not our first sinkhole actually!  (eyeroll)  
Once one “sinkhole” occurs…it seems the surrounding ground (people) are susceptible to falling in or creating one of their own for you! Yay! Another one!
 [sarcasm helps me sometimes. sorry]

And, BTW, a “sinkhole” is, essentially, my allegorical way of saying that we have had another (2nd ever) parting of ways with relations that … um … well… dang…I dunno but to say it is because of not fitting into pre-fabricated grooves that they seem to think we need to be in or to act within is the best I can come up with at this point.

It hurts. It’s surprising. It’s a struggle. 

Sure…people a part of family have tiffs.

But when a tiff turns into a tornado and you are stuck in the eye of it….it makes the recovery efforts long-lasting I’m afraid.

I think this “sinkhole”, this “tornado”,  is one reason I haven’t been writing. I have always tried to keep my dang fingers shut about specific, relational ‘yuk’ factors that we deal with.  I “generalize” as best as I can. Seems to be the best way to be.

However, I did not trust my fingers to stay “shut” these last few weeks…and I was hurt. 
I am not ashamed or even confused to say that
though removing something from our lives that results in a healthier nuclear family…
- and even though Jim and I are on exactly the same page…
- and even though I just want “out of the tornado”….
Once I am “out” there is still a pain, a sting, a pretty big feeling of loss even if it IS the correct thing to do at the time.

I know most of you reading this have experienced major tiffs with your family (extended). I do not know if they became “tornadoes” or if you had to remove you and yours from the “tornado” because  there is NOTHING HEALTHY in that drama pot no matter how often it’s stirred…

But if you have…maybe you can see why I haven’t written for a bit. 

My fingers hurt.  Sigh.

HOWEVER, even with the “sinkholes” and “tornadoes” (one and the same btw…wow I write weird) we’ve pulled off a fun “Fall”. And for that…I am patting myself and my husband on the backs :)  

Have the kids been affected by all of this “stuff”…sadly very much so.

But, we’ve simply kept our “open and honest” approach and, so far, they seem okay. 
There are random questions about why isn’t XYZ here or will XYZ be there….but we always answer back with honesty and, for the older ones, tell them they are allowed to make their own conclusions or ask any questions.

Okay.

Man.

I guess I just really needed to get all out about sinkholes and tornadoes off of my chest!

But.

Well.

Now that we are taking shelter from yet another sinkhole/tornado (last one happened 4 yrs ago…yes…when there’s a sinkhole in my life…it’s major unfortunately. Jim and I don’t take things to ‘sinkhole’ status unless pushed too…)

Wow. I sound so mad.

Maybe I really truly am this mad?  I sorta thought I’d rolled my eyes and walked forward by now….but…things always come out when I blog.

Looks like I need to deal with a bit more of the hurt that I was shoving away. 

Growl. It’s SO much easier just to ignore and roll with life versus getting your “hurt in order”. 

I think I should do my precious Chase’s birthday letter next…It deserves it’s own post, it’s own spotlight, it’s own unique time…just like Chase :)  

Well…off to adjust my hurt. 
Words of advice welcomed….

(wink?)
Andrea

For the Love of Pete, She’s Writing about THAT again? Over it. Next Blog Please?


This post is sitting upon my heart like a heavy secret. 

It is not something I want to think more about tonight or tomorrow and I didn’t want to think of it yesterday. Yet, I have absolutely no choice.

It will not go away and, in this, is my post. 

Soooo….that trial won’t go away and no one’s listening anymore? Who’s shocked?

[AND…if I were a bettin’ girl I would bet a very large # of you, who read my loud-mouthed/lots of pictures/transparent little blog here just rolled your eyes and thought, “Seriously? More about her PTSD? I am SO over it.”  
 Pssstt…..hello my sweet eye-roller…..So am I.   And your response? I’m about to pound ya yer I mean write about it…]

SO many people are in long-term trials by fire…no choice in the matter. Yet, after about 18mos…2 yrs at best..interest in their trial wanes, friends dissipate, family question, life swirls.

Picture me stomping my feets and screaming these words for anyone who is a long-term struggle!

I am OVER trials.

I am OVER sadness.

I am OVER confusion.

I am OVER loss.

BUT….we are right in the middle of all of the above this very moment.
 
And we despise it. 

A Trial by Fire…
You are thrown into it and you must wade through that ‘fire’ as best as you can. You had and have no choice. You LIVE but…you FIGHT.
I am thinking of my friend’s daughter who now has severe brain trauma from a traffic incident…that family has no choice. 
A wife escaping from an abusive marriage is in a trial by fire as she cannot control her husband’s behavior and MUST leave.
Walk the halls of a hospital…most of them? Trials by Fire.
Walk the halls of a VETERANS hospital. Surely the Trials there are of Fire and not much of Choice…and yet there remains a sense of “But I had to” without an abundance of anger. Amazing. 
Walk the streets of our large, urban cities, of 3rd world countries, of abandoned neighborhoods worldwide…look at the children you see there. 
They are in a Trial by Fire. Who knows if their parents are there due to economic reasons or bad choices…but the children are certainly there because they have no choice…None at all. 

A horrific traffic event in Chicago with 4 very close friends? My resulting and intense PTSD? Trial by Fire. I certainly didn’t ask for it. Anyone who would like to have that PTSD and my forever memories? Feel FREE to take it. I am pretty much done with them.

People in these and a thousand other similar situations were and are in trials by fire…figuring out each day at a time.  
A trial by fire hurts as it takes away one’s predictability, reliability, and freedoms in more ways than one.  
Such trials can and will ruin friendships and family relations …. this I know for a fact unfortunately.  
Sadly, we have experienced this several times over. I am getting pretty real here but truth doesn’t hide. Or at least it should not.
Trial by Fire people are victims and being a victim of anything is not fun. It is not easy for people to hear a victim speak.
 They want to hand you a casserole dish and walk away.
The community, that gave you the lasagna casserole,  wants to pretend  the we victims are ‘healed’ in about 24 to maybe -at most- 48 hours. ha. ha. ha.
 As a result, trial by fire victims are often silenced due to peer pressure. I would know that one to be true also. 
However, I have a very large mouth that is hard to shut up – even if I am a victim and even if people don’t want to hear how it hurts I will still tell them. (BTW: it hurts)
Friends, Family, co-workers, “people” who do not want to hear about your “trial” 8 months down the road…god-forbid even 4 years down the road… are close-minded and selfish. 
 They serve their community no good in trying to silence ‘hurt’.  
Hurt, mental and physical, can take a LONG time to heal. There should be no “time limit” on when the “trial talking” needs to stop. 
Talking about hurt alleviates it a bit. Being silenced and questioned about your trial by fire? Well, that simply turns the heat up by 100 degrees and the injury is multiplied.

How does a Mom deal with a severely injured child day in and day out? 
How does a Veteran keep his love of country alive after “it” took his legs?
 How does a a person keep their hope in the idea of friendship or familial love even after being told the “fire is too hot” or “there is no fire here” and removing themselves? 
How do we know the next friend won’t do the same?
Trials by fire…
 Well…I picture Christ beside people in these trials. Similar to how He might have been the fourth person in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego. 
He is walking with those of us in a fiery trial….and I feel He is especially close to us in these times as we had NO CHOICE.
When I was laying on my stomach, semi-buried in debris for a bit, bleeding, screaming, and watching my friends’ blood drip onto the sidewalk, seeing another friend that had just been permanently injured forever….I was helpless. 
I could hear the screams, feel the spray of the firehose, smell the burning rubber of the semi-truck’s wheels, but I had NO CHOICE about where I was in that very moment. I was helpless and I had certainly not asked to be helpless.
 But God was there.
 If you do not believe in God..I get it…but keep reading. …..Please. 
You may recognize a feeling, a thought, a rationale…and you might see those things in a different light after you give your trial even more thought….
I hear you…..”I ‘think’ about my trial 24/7. What could change?”. Honestly, I think you could be shocked about what could change. I was.
In ways I am only now beginning to understand, I now get that God was there and He was angry. And THAT makes me happy.  My God is a protective God and He hates Evil.

After a season of shock, life being upside down, nothing being stable – nothing from how the day would look for our kids to which doctor’s office we’d be at that day, to if I could get the scene of the incident out of my mind long enough to sleep a bit…nothing was stable for awhile.

The trial by fire, unfortunately, became our new normal. This was/is how life is for us now. Jim was keeping things afloat (read: exhausted); I was a wreck; kids were watching and seeing how this would play out. No pressure, eh?
However, there is ‘something’ under us now.
Something like footers to a new foundation. This foundation is slowly getting filled in. 
Things are slowly beginning to feel more stable. 
 
This “thing” may be the loyalty we are seeing in some friends.
 It may be the on-going validity given to our situation by some. 
 It may be the success of my husband’s work/ministry that we need to meet the medical bills and simply conduct life in an entirely different way. 

OR.

It may not be a person, a thing, or a feeling.
It could be God. 
I could be going through this stupid trial by fire with no one else around, no loyalty, no validation, no safety net….and yet still feel “this” under-girding of strength slowly building.
 (Regardless, I wish it were faster. Am I never pleased???!! sheesh) 
But I do think that..our TRIAL came VERY QUICKLY yet our ANSWERS SLOWLY. 

WHY?

I wonder if it is so that we will remember? 

Think of a toy you saved for. You know what I am going to say….Once you had the money and bought the toy – that toy was almost sacred because you had worked so hard for it.

If our Fiery Trial was easily and quickly quenched, would I have learned what I’ve learned? Would my empathy meter be where it’s at now? Would my idea of a person with a “mental health issue” have altered as it needed too? 

I don’t really enjoy “saving for the toy”. I’m impatient, feel I am missing out, and sorta just want to break the dang piggy bank to shreds, get the money, get the toy and be done.

But…all I’d remember was the crash of the piggy bank. 

I would have robbed myself of growth, maturity, and understanding. However,  impatience still lingers like a dark knight in the castle corner even though I know I should not break the dang pig. It is a struggle. Patience. Waiting for answers and revelations.

Sometimes we get glimmers of pre-April 25, 2008 “Andrea” (always full of energy, etc) and it’s exciting yet reckless to think about as we are not sure we will ever be ‘there’ again. 
And maybe we do not need to be “there”. 
This “thing”…this new feeling of ‘support’ we feel beneath us is giving us the wherewithall to continue forward. Each day forward helps us to mourn less about how things will never just quite be  the same gain. Never. 

This idea used to scare us. Our entire world was centered on getting “Andrea” (me) back to where I “used to be” so I could be “that” Mom again. “That” wife again. “That” friend.


 
But. 
I think we are giving up on that. 
There was not anything so amazing about ‘that’ Andrea that we need to give up so much today simply to get “her” back.  
This “different” version may be “me” now. The answers come slow.

The new foundation growing, sure we had one before but it was built in a completely different way as we had different needs, makes us feel confident that the future won’t always be about trying to regain what we lost. 
But that the future may, soon, just be a happy “look what’s ahead of us” fleeting thought versus a diatribe in sadness and loss and ‘what if’s’.
I wish myself (and my family), my injured friends, Baby Aviana, or my Dad (cancer)…had walked away from our ‘trials’ without even smelling like smoke like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego.  
  But we did not nor have we.
 However, I find the fight easier knowing that, even though we had no choice, we are all fighting! And we fight hard! 
When our fighting days come to an end there is a time of peace for us. (Now, those of you who are in a trial by fire…how often do you get “peace”? ha. Never.)
BUT…we have Peace waiting. I hope our time here is not shortened by our trial, though my Dad’s was and so many trials take lives to fast. 
BUT that Peace/Heaven is something that we, truly, just cannot understand but yet, one that I, an intelligent and inquisitive individual, fully trust in and rely upon. (for more info: “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. Changed my life.)
I feel a new peace (a different kind…not the Heaven kind of peace but that soothing, thick, balming feel that makes your brain calmer) quietly pulsating from that new, ‘grounded’, “just a little bit more stable” feeling I have under me. 
The peaceful feeling I am finally having now and again reminds me that there is peace to be had. 
 I may have forgotten that because the Fire burned it out of me.  

The fire is hot though…and it scalds and the heat keeps people away. 
Heck, it makes some people run and scream in the opposite direction. But, again, now we know who is true to us. There is good to be had from this fire but it does not relieve the burn unfortunately.

 
 

Well…phew. Who’s hot? smile 

Finally, I suppose my ending thoughts are on hope.

It has felt stolen for awhile now. I have spoken to others in these fiery trials and they second this feeling. 

As a good Christ-Follower, I should ‘know’ I always have a ‘Hope’. However,  when you can’t get out of bed due to unexplained exhaustion, there’s no woman’s abuse center nearby, the blood work just came back positive again, or the medicines just don’t seem to work…

Hope seems fleeting not factual.

I am doing my best to find my hope again. I think it is a common struggle for people in long term fights. 

Oddly, my hope for others is the same. It is that hope for myself that wanes. 
I do not feel that I will be whole again or useful like I used to be or that I handled this ‘event’ correctly.

Just as a Mom with a desperately sick child, her thoughts center on, at times, where her future is headed and what does it mean to have “hope” when you are in a fiery trial.

These answers will come….I do have hope in that, now.
 But, I have a feeling these answers are not easy to find and are, yet another, series of realizations that will finally bring me and other trial by fire fighters to the correct realization that there is a mighty hope for us…it is simply us that have to find the mighty to grab it.

There is plenty to keep us from reaching out for the hope, or the peace, or believe the notion that tomorrow is just tomorrow and not a loss….

But I think there are plenty of us who are willing and wanting and desperately trying to reach.

If you are reaching,  please tell me. The Comment section is at the end of the post. If you click “Comments” and scroll down, you will come to an empty box where you can “talk”.  You can post anonymously by selecting that is the “posting as” drop down menu.  :)   

I adore hearing your thoughts and wisdom. Your experiences and your reactions.

Thanks for reading this my friends. It was a bit raw, I think you saw several glimmers of some hurt show through but also, I think shards of happiness and even a bit of “I’m starting to understand this journey better” within this post.

You all mean the world to me,
Andrea

A day in the LIFE ….

Today might have been horrible, wonderful, or in between. 

One thing, though, is that it happened. 

We can’t get away from horrible….
 (the picture of flowers? Given to me to soothe my heart a bit ago as it was another anniversary of the passing of my sweet Daddy)….
 and you just must memorize the great.

Today is what today was…
But….
I want to know, in my deepest of deeps, that I am trying with all of my ability with all of ‘me” to make these days pertinent and wonderful. Obedient as to what I am supposed to be doing with them.

And during that “struggle”…. I want to capture the moments that make up the days that make up our lives.

THAT is the fun part….but pushing to GET to the FUN can be harder than what is seen in just a 1-dimension, captured moment.

These photos are “us”… but …. behind them are thousands of words …. even for just one picture. Those words surely range from pleasant to urgent to a possible rant ;)
However, those words added up to ‘that’ moment….they got us ‘here’.
 (all of Aven’s swaddled baby dolls? oodles and oodles of talking about ‘babies’ with her as she adores playing “Momma”. 
I taught her how to ‘swaddle’ a ‘baby’ one night…the next morning…ALL of her babies are ‘swaddled’…even the horse! But talking about “baby dolls” has happened more than just one night.- more like hundreds. 
Thousands of words about baby dolls.
However, those pictures, of the swaddled babies, is what I have to share…. )

I find the journey of raising kids and of making a marriage one that is surprisingly hard yet then one that is “slap-me-in-the-face” fun. 

I am not sure how to show it more …. How to show my amazement towards these journeys I am on. 
How to let those who are on the journey with me to know how sacred I feel it all is. 
Sacred, even when we are having a very horrible day.

The days add up so quickly….I do think that is rather sad. So many I’d love to relive many times over.
 However, at least – even though pictures cannot talk- it’s possible to ‘capture’ a moment to remember forever….

I think I’ll stick with sharing some ‘happy’. However,  in a blog post soon,  I want to only share ‘blah’. Because there’s plenty of blah in those thousands of words that can hold up just that one picture.

 

A DAY in the LIFE …

Andrea

Needles, Baby, Bathwater….many will not agree with this post.

 [But first some pictures of the last couple weeks...as I have been MIA here ;) ]

 Some serious conversation between two 5 yr old besties…who wear clothes that reflect their Momma’s tastes :) Luv.

 The is an amazing area of our Art Museum. There are 100 acres of outdoor art installations. Some are interactive…as you can see :)

 ”FRAMILY” …. Silly “Framily”….
 ”I am sure we can roll this log into the water.” says 3 little boys about a huge fall tree trunk.
 ”hmmm. Maybe not?” said 3 little boys to the fallen tree trunk.

 Catching insects and little fish were the “science” activities of the day. The Holloways homeschool too. (thank Heavens!)
 Miss Tessa joshin’ on Trey :)

 AND…..our cars were broken in to while we were gallivanting around the 100 acres.
 ”They” popped the locks on the driver’s door. We, the Cockrums, did not lose much but it cost $800 to fix the lock?!! wha??? The Holloways lost a lot more. We both had our purses stolen but they were recovered later that night…It was frustrating and made me feel “unsafe” in an area I know very well. sheesh.

 Yep. My 5 year old can, and often does, make her own lunch ;)

My latest, and rare, organization idea. These jars hold items that “are always lost” in our house. 1. Hair brushes. 2. Pencils & sharpeners 3. scissors, glue, markers, tape. 

Yes, I am proud of myself ;)

 Myself & Jess….We “get” each other and have a crazy history together at this point. That makes for a great friendship…
Aven and Tessa attended a “craft night” at a local toy store. They left on a red carpet!!! Awesome!!!

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Well.  

I am not sure which I want to write about today.  

Yes, I have been a bit lagging around here lately. We have had some intense family (not family under our roof…thank you Jesus). 
It had and has left me a bit, er a lot, confused and frustrated…and confused!  It came out of left field and cause Jim and I to make difficult choices. 

I did not, truly, trust myself to write here. I was afraid that I would vent and then hit the “publish” button and dishonor those involved. Dishonor is not the point. 
Confusion and miscommunication is but fixing that is, seemingly, impossible right now. 

As a result, we proceed, even more..without a some family support that used to be there. Hearts may heal but right now they are raw.  

I know many of you can relate. 

It hurts doesn’t it?  To lose some trust that was once there. To have feelings pierced. To have words thrown around that should not be. To be shocked.

Well…see…there I go. I shall stop now. I just know many of you relate and sort of want to reach out to others who know these feelings. 

ANYWHOOO….

I do want to talk about my continuing experiences with acupuncture. 

This is going to sound odd to some. It sounded and resonated as ‘odd’ to me too until I got my head around the practitioner’s thoughts and worldview. 
It is different than mine. It was and is interesting to hear and compare.
Here is the deal:

The acupuncturist, let’s refer to him as Mr. C, and I have had some interesting conversations.
I have been interested in his religious beliefs as he presents himself with typical, Bible-belt philosophies. 
He started practicing ancient Chinese medicine and practices after working in a standard, local, westernized hospital for over 30 years. He saw that medications were not the answer to all ills.
He wanted to find an answer to help the actual illness rather than “band-aid” the illness with a medication. 
That being said, he believes that medications do serve a necessary purpose. However, his goal is to help his patients, like me, to no longer need them. 
Though this journey may take awhile…or…as he says, “It absolutely may not and when you tell me you feel better we are done. This is whether you are still on your medications or not.”
Wow. You do not hear that from alternative medical providers that often. Normally, alternative practitioners, from our experience [except for a few..Anca and Lise ;]
Mr. C is still involved in Westernized practices as he still does rotations, on the weekends, at the local hospital.
However, the more I have been around him…the more I realized he was not a “Bible-belt” kinda guy. 
I realized that he functioned under a somewhat different belief system than myself but it seemed that the differences were miniscule. 
As a result, of course, I was exceptionally interested as I am always looking to compare my beliefs and faith to what others believe. 
It is not a lack in MY faith but it is an interest in others, and interest in educating myself, and interest in understanding better. 
Over the course of several conversations I found that…
IF Mr. C had to define his religious beliefs it would be “Buddhism” but he took about 5 minutes (while being silent mind you…I thought I had offended him!) to answer.
My knee-jerk reaction, of course, was…”So, Mr C, do you think you have been reincarnated?”.
After several moments of thought [which confused me as he has surely thought this through before and he is exceptionally intelligent...] he responded, “Yes. I do believe I have been ‘around before’.”
I was quite interested. I appreciated his honesty within our little midwestern community. A community that has a ‘typical’ Christian-oriented church every 2 blocks. 
Sure, we have a diverse culture but the Christian-type church is dominant in our area. 
I asked, “Do you think one must be reincarnated to get to Heaven or do you believe one must continue the journey to get to the ’8th level’ and then there is a perfection or a Heaven?”
Again. The verbal pause.
[I must add. He is sticking needles all over me as we talk :]
“No Andrea. I think it is easier for some to get to Heaven than others.”
I sort of rolled my eyes and responded, “Are you placating me Mr. C? Are you stating it that way because you are assuming I come from a Christian background and do not want to ‘offend’ me?”
He laughed and, without verbal pause, said, “Andrea, I do not placate.” 
Now THIS is a guy I can understand!  I am NOT a fan of ‘placating”…saying what someone WANTS to hear versus what you truly think. 
BUT HERE IS THE THING:
He uses the Chinese-based words in regards to ancient medical practices.
You are all familiar with them, however he has explained them to me in “Westernized” language. 
He explains that these words have received a “Western Stereotype” that keeps many away from Chinese treatment, especially Christians.
Some of these words are (I will include Chinese definition and then the Westernized definition that Mr. C gave me so I would not be ‘freaked out’ when he used them…He is exceptionally accommodating to my/Midwestern preconceived ideas. 
(CHINESE)qì (also chi or ch’i) is an active principle forming part of any living thing.  Qi is frequently translated as life energy, lifeforce, or energy flow. 
Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts. The literal translation of “qi” is breath, air, or gas. “Wikipedia…sorry!”
(WESTERN) qì (also chi or ch’i) :  the electrical pulses that keep your organs running as one. The same electricity/energy that keeps your heart pumping. (“Mr. C.”)

[CHINESE] SHAMAN: Chinese spirit possession is the paranormal/supernatural and sorcerical event in which, allegedly, when Chinese spirits, or gods such as Jade Emperor, Xi Wangmu, Sun Wukong, Dragon King, Nezha (deity), Guanyin, Guan Yu, or other disincarnate or extraterrestrial entities take control of a human body, resulting in noticeable changes in body functions and behaviour.
 It was alleged that once the spirit possession take place, the practitioners would be granted supernatural powers like Firewalking, handling red-hot steel rods without getting burnt, and withstanding sharp knife attacks without being cut open. The most famous Chinese spirit possession practitioners were to be found. (Wikipedia…sorry!)

[WESTERN]: SHAMAN: …”what some scholars of shamanism treat as being definitive of shamanism…
 (most notably drumming, trance, chanting, entheogens and hallucinogens, spirit communication and healing) 
….are practices that exist outside of what is defined as shamanism and play similar roles even in non-shamanic cultures (such as the role of chanting in Judeo-Christian and Islamic rituals) and that in their expression are unique to each culture that uses them and cannot be generalized easily, accurately or usefully into a global religion of shamanism. 
Because of this, Kehoe is also highly critical of the notion that shamanism is an ancient, unchanged, and surviving religion.”
  [NOT SO SCARY TO US CHRISTIANS! added by myself] ( Alice Kehoe in her book Shamans and Religion: An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking and some of “Mr. C’s” confirmations)

One can see the massive differences between the Chinese definitions and the Western.

Before I met Mr. C, these terms would have been dismissed by me as ancient terms that had no pertinent application to modern medicine. 

I would have considered them against my Christ-loving Worldview (Bible-follower)

Now…

I see them as a bit different. Not entirely, but a bit.

Why?

Pharmaceutical companies. Advertising. Habits.

If “chi” or one’s electrical pulses/energy can be addressed via acupuncture and NOT medicines…these pharmaceutical companies make an exceptionally-reduced profit. 
The last thing Westernized pharmaceutical companies want is for Americans (and other non-third world countries but I do not feel I can speak to them as I do not know the prominence of alternative medical practices in say, Italy or Canada) to realize that medicine is not ALWAYS needed to resolve an illness. 
We would have to completely audit our habits. 
Television companies would have to replace big-profit medicine commercials with small-profit, just squeaking by right now alternative medicine clinics.

Most of us picture this when we here “Shaman”:


Or EVEN:

 Definitely NOT someone you see walking around your local Wal-Mart. But it is someone who we have stereotyped. 

What if we have stereotyped them simply because of their dress? Don’t you think they look at us and our Westernized ways of medical treatment and shake their heads?  
They know that ecology or non-man-made medicines can heal an illness. Herbs, vegetation, tree leaves, etc (not an expert here…kinda going off documentaries I have watched and my own preconceived ideas!)

Now…PLEASE…

I am not implying that Mr. C wears a neck full of beaded necklaces, nor that he has odd pierces within his body!

Actually, he wears an button down shirt and the typical, white, doctor’s jacket!  

HOWEVER, Mr. C has referred to himself as a “Shaman”…..

I gotta say. It sorta freaked me out. 

A “Shaman”? Am I under the influence of practices of a man who employs ideas and beliefs that go directly against my own and will that affect me in some spiritual way?

I could not be more wrong.

“Shaman” is, truly, a stereotyped word as much as the phrase “Soccer Mom” or “McMansions”.

We, I am focusing on Christ-followers, have snubbed our noses at non-medicine solutions because of commercials, generational habits, and lack of learning.

Doesn’t it make COMPLETE sense that God provided all that we need to help our illnesses? 
Yes, medicine is necessary for many to help them…while they are, hopefully, addressing the under-lying issues of say – blood pressure, cancer, MS, PTSD, depression, etc. 

I am on 5 medicines. I realized the necessity of them! I would not be safe or useful, at this point, without them. 

However, I sure as heck to NOT want to be on them for the rest of my life.

As a result, I am working on debunking the stereotypes that reside within my Western-educated mind. 
A mind that has been dramatically influenced by my M.D.’s practice to issue medicines versus figuring out what is truly wrong with me. 

I am SURE I am offending many. It is surely those that are on maintenance drugs. 
Those that are going through cancer treatments. Those that have loved ones who are only here because of medicines.
I am not writing to offend. I am writing to hone my ideas and to challenge my kids and us to redefine our ideas of “medical treatment”.
To consider that we are strongly influenced by pharmaceutical companies’ needs, advertising, and habits. 
I have one more surprise up my blogging sleeve…
Mr. C has cancer. CANCER.
He has had it for an elongated period of time. He is the vision of health (except for a bit of a pot-belly ;)
He, though he works in a hospital, has chosen to treat his cancer without the typical regime of chemotherapy and radiation.
He has chosen alternative interventions that many would shake their heads at. 
Acupuncture, Diet, and… Native American and Mayan medical practices. Yep. You heard me right.
He goes to Mexico approximately every 6 weeks to an area that is a hub-bub for alternative medical intervention and treatment (especially for cancer) that does not involve medicine.

The treatments involve treatments I’ve described along with…hang with me…sweat lodges! 

 

NATIVE AMERICAN SWEAT LODGE
History of Sweat Lodges
©2011 Mikkel Aaland All Rights Reserved

“CULTURAL REVIVAL

My experience with the Ogala Sun Dance ceremony grows from a cultural revival now sweeping the Native American community. Wounded Knee, Alcatraz, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs takeover come to mind as urgent manifestations of this need for identity.

 Many Indian groups, such as the National Indian Unity, are reviving use of the sweat lodge in their annual conferences.

Three basic forms of the sweat bath are indigenous to North America: the hot rock method, used by the Navajos and Sioux; the direct fire chamber, heated by blazing logs; and a more sophisticated type relying on a heating duct system believed to be of Mayan origin.”



So……

Wow…eh?

Meeting Mr. C has educated me. He has made me think. 

He has not influenced my belief system as much as he has made me reconsider the stereotypes that reside within my mind. 
Stereotypes that have been embedded from many sources…sources that I need to audit.

I understand that alternative, non-medicine practices are no going to be widely accepted in our country any time soon (IE: juicing marijuana leaves…it would practically cure my PTSD within weeks. 
Juicing the leaves does NOT give the “high effect”. [the leaves but be smoked for the high]
The leaves were and are, in some states and surely in many other countries, used to heal the body. They have been used, actually, since ancient times.
BUT the plant is stereotyped in most states within the U.S.A. and, in Indiana, I am not allowed to, legally, juice the leaves of a plant that would dramatically improve my health. 
And there I go again…stepping on toes ;)

My overall point?
Why do we through the baby out with the bathwater? (stereotypes)
Why are alternative practices not employed?? 
Because of a lack of overall education stolen from us by various means.

Why not audit “words” and “practices” like Mr. C has? He has his feet in BOTH worlds of medicine. 
He sees the benefits of both; however, I am amazed at his treatment of his cancer and how healthy he continues to be. 

Do I love Jesus less? ha. NO!  
I am not converting to Buddhism. 
I do not, suddenly, believe in reincarnation because I have met an intelligent, older, medical professional who believes in it. 

Do I think the Bible is missing something now?
 NO!! 
I think, though, that WE, Christ-followers, are, in fact, missing information that the Bible gives us in regards to treating the ills and evils that settle into our bodies.

The journey to “healthy” has led myself (and Tye) into so many corners of the medical field that we never knew existed…but yet do not involve medicine. 
I know God is guiding us…as much as He is guiding me to the correct medicines right now until my underlying illnesses are removed.
 I picture these two practices Western & Eastern,  as ‘holding hands’ but wanting to separate as soon as possible because I will no longer need either of them.

What do you think? (eek…I’m sort of afraid to ask that ;)

Andrea
“Thinking Forward Continually” 
[one of Jim and I's new motto's for our family...it is from the Greek meaning of "HOPE"...]
(The comment box is under this post..keep scrolling down…I think it’s hard to find ;)


"Your Dad Has Cancer. Very Bad Cancer." I heard those words 18 years ago. They still hurt as much as they did on that day. I want to write about how it feels to be on the receiving end of those words.

My Dad died 18 years ago, today, at 12:40am. 

We, meaning a hospital room crowded with many people, had to publicly have our last moments with him…while he laid in a morphine-induce coma of which he occasionally came out of.

However, the real fight began 2 years prior.

For awhile, my healthy, handsome, gregarious Dad (though not a perfect man, but I am not a perfect woman so I can now, as an adult, understand this better. When I was younger, I did not and it affected my childhood oddly) had been feeling “off”.

He went to a doctor or two. 

They all said he was having a ‘mid-life crisis’ and put him on Prozac. (Prozac is a anti-depressant drug).

I was just graduating high school, looking forward to college in a few months.  

I had no idea that this “leaving home” and “starting a new season” in my life would end up being ridden with guilt versus giggly and great like many of the other college freshmen I saw. 

After being on Prozac for a bit, he went off of it because he was scared of getting addicted to it (a typical reaction) and he saw no improvement.

So, that summer he started seeing more doctors. To the best of my recollection, he was still working at our family’s very successful heating and cooling business but at a reduced level. He’d replaced my Grandfather as President and was enjoying the new role. My Dad was the epitome of “a salesman”.

He could have sold you a broken car even if you’d wanted a Mercedes :)

The doctors did tests. A lot of tests. Nothing showed up. But Dad did not “feel well”. He had a lack of energy, he started to look pale. He gorgeous, shiny black hair lost it’s sheen.

BY DAD …. Healthy

SOMETHING WAS WRONG. 

MRI’s, EKG’s, Blood Tests (big wha??? later on in regards to this). I remember that it was a battery of tests that took place over several of weeks.

Meanwhile, I was buying necessities plus non-necessities (smile) for my new dorm room. My roommate (a friend from highschool) and I were coordinating our room from the bedspreads to the desks lamps. We were geeked!  I knew the tests were occurring but I was not exceptionally concerned because, though Dad ‘looked’ a bit sick, it seemed minor. 

Dad was NOT COUGHING, he was able to work some (the reduced hours I believe were due to lack of energy and # of doctor appointments), he did not talk like he was very sick – all he said was “I just don’t right”.  

I believe he was still fishing, enjoying the company of his best friend who lived close, and complaining a bit that I was “leaving” and giving me stern instructions on how to act “away from home”…I can smile now…but I was raised in a exceptionally strict, quiet, and no-emotional setting. It makes sense now that he was instructing me though I had not caused trouble a day in my life. Seriously Dad?!

Finally, about early August, a doctor thought to due a chest x-ray. (really? almost a year into “not feeling right” a chest x-ray is done…know Dad had been around asbestos given our family’s business? I still shake my head at that.)

His lungs were FULL of cancer. Not just a spot. FULL.  They were not functioning well. This explained the “I do not feel right” but it is still baffling to everyone that my Dad did not cough, wheeze or have shortness of breath -ever.

The cancer was so developed that the doctor’s estimated IT WAS 10 YEARS old. TEN YEARS OLD. TEN. 

Some of us were glad we’d not had to battle cancer for those ten years. Others of us, me included, assumed that if had been caught 10 (TEN!? how?!) years ago that he would not have died from it so soon.

The doctor’s gave my Mom and my Dad this grave news in a sterile, uninviting room at the hospital. 

They came home and called my twin sister and I to the kitchen table. Their faces looked funny. 

Mom would not look us in the eyes. Dad had his hands spread flat on the wooden, round table. Then Mom started fiddling with our country, floral, fabric placements. Dad looked out the window then quickly looked back towards my sister and I, then back out the window. We were 18 years old.

My Mom said, “Girls, your Dad has cancer.”

My heart knotted. (For the record, there are tears rolling down my cheeks as I type.  18 years does not take away these memories. No amount of time ever will. People who say it will are speaking in cliche).

My mind was just confused. 

No one said a word. NOT.A.WORD.

We sorta looked around at each other for several minutes. No one cried immediately. No one did anything. 

I had no idea WHAT to do. 

Do I go hug him? (he wasn’t a hugger).  

Do I cry? (Crying was sorta out of place in our house)

Do I ask questions about the cancer? I knew people who had died from cancer. I knew this was bad news but ‘how’ bad? 

Finally, my Mom said, in a solid voice, “It is in his lungs. He will start chemotherapy and then radiation therapy.”

I sorta knew that if BOTH therapies were needed, that meant it was fairly developed.

I then asked, “How bad?” and looked my Dad.

He put on his half-way salesman grin and said, “Who knows?”

They did know. They were sheltering us. 

My thoughts then ran, selfishly, to leaving for college in 3 weeks. (By the way, I had met my Jim about 2 weeks before this. I was already in love. God KNEW I would need Jim’s broad shoulders and strong faith the next 2 years of Hell.)

“Do I still go to college?” I wondered, thinking about how Jim was going to be in the same town as my college, I had a full scholarship, all the stuff was bought. Then thinking I was the worst daughter in the world. 

“Absolutely.” Dad said, determinedly. He had always been proud of my academic achievements and very proud that I was paying for some of my college via scholarship (smile). 

“This changes nothing.” Dad said. He sorta ended the discussion by pressing his hands on the table, getting up, and going into the family room to watch TV.

Changes NOTHING?

REALLY? Truly? It is not that bad? 

I NEVER considered that my sister and I were being protected from the TRUTH. NEVER once did it occur to me. Call me naive or say that I just wanted to believe it so I could get to college (1.5 hours away from home) but I truly thought “this changes nothing.”   

Dang. That statement proved to be terribly, terribly, terribly wrong. 

 He died 2 years later in a hospital bed, a hospital room, a horrible moment that is seared in my mind.

However, seeing as how today is the day I lost my Dad, I want to include some pictures that he would have loved..mostly of my kids. 

Mercy. I am sure he would have adored them. I am almost positive he would have become exceptionally “huggable” (smile) with them and more comfortable with strong emotions. It seems most Grandparents do…Why would my Dad have been any different? My Dad was, though we were raised in a strict, etc., home know as a ‘jokester’ when he was at work or with friends. 

I can imagine the jokes he would be playing on my older kids now. I hate that they don’t get that. 

Well…here are some people that my Dad would have lived for….if he could have….(crying so hard)

(My caption for some of the pictures is pure guesswork. I truly do not know how my Dad would have been in his later years but I am using what I do know of him to predict how he’d be today…I hope I am right :)

Dad would have enjoyed and been proud of our family’s odd, weird, and wacky ways. 
He would have been SO STINKIN’ proud of my Jim’s career. 

 Jim meeting his daughter…Dad would have OWNED Aven :)
My Dad might not have understood our special needs adoption…but the instant he met Tye -after we crossed oceans and back! – Dad would have completed related to Tye’s “salesman” personality! He would have been smitten immediately.

Tye could sell that broken car, the Mercedes, AND and Amish buggy to a dude via internet :)  

 Our first adoption. I was 23. Jim 25.

Dad would have needed some convincing but, again, the instant he held this angel he would have taken him under his wing and helped us, even financially, with Chase’s medical bills that occurred, surprisingly, after Chase was home.  ($2,000+ dental, costs for Fetal Alcohol stuff for years, etc. We could barely afford to get Chase home…We had one family member help in a major way…) Dad would have been there.

Our first bio-experiment…Trey William James. The “William” is after my Dad and my Grandpa (who passed 18 months after Dad and who I loved desperately. I was a hard time, eh?)
Dad would have made fun of my baby belly.
He ‘might’ have held Trey as a newborn but he would have quickly put him back into my arms.
Smile…However, he would have been very protective of me and my health at the hospital. He would have known the nurses name (maybe flirted…sigh) but he would have had me taken care of.
Jim did a FINE job of this though… Love my husband
By now my Dad would be saying, “3 kids? This is it right?”
And we would have laughed.
Zane LOVES, ADORES, CRAVES fishing. Dang they would have had a blast together.
As Tae Kwon Doe is part of our homeschooling adventure, this picture reminds me that my Dad would SO SO SO not have ‘gotten’ homeschooling :)
He would have cajoled, been vocal (as my Father-in-Law just watched and waited to see how it went…He didn’t understand either :) Now he says “He gets it”)  My Dad would have been much louder with this who “crazy, fanatical, who does this?, homeschool ‘thing’”.  
Whatever Dad! Proof is in the pudding Poppa..,for now 

 Dad would be SO SO proud of Tye’s efforts and improvements in speech, health, and attitude. He would have said, “How did you guys do that” [7 years later...yes...it's taken that long] and we would have said, “It’s God Dad. We just follow the path” and Dad would have smiled.

Dad was a Christian but did not love the ‘organized, denominational’ idea of church. He and I have that in common. He attended regularly but I think  it was for my sister and I to be involved in the great youth group at the church. I completely understand this now as a parent.

Dad refused to go to church on major holidays, Easter/Christmas, as he knew it’d be crowded. ha! Get that too!

THESE are the Grandparents my kids know and adore. They knew my Dad, a bit, and for that I am extremely grateful.
They want to give the kids attention and fill the gap that is left on my side of the family 
My father-in-law, I call him PoppaBear, said something I will never forget when my Dad was diagnosed. I am sure PoppaBear has no idea that this impacted me so much.

You see, my in-laws led a very typical ‘hippy’ lifestyle in the early to mid ’70′s. Drugs, alcohol, not a ton of parenting occurring (I can say this as they travel now talking about this time in their lives and how God pulled them out of it. They are in-country missionaries)

Given all the drugs and alcohol they consumed, my Father-in-Law muttered, almost to himself but I oerheard…
 ”This should be me”. 

It was one of the most compassionate and honest things I heard during the 2 years we fought the cancer. Not that I ‘wanted’ it to be him
 [ I swear upon your God-forsaken deer stand that I did not want it to be ‘you’ ;}}

Thanks PoppaBear. You rock.

 See the BEAUTIFUL lady surrounded by some of her great-grandchildren?  

That is my Dad’s Mom, my Mamaw.  She is strong force in my life and one of the last connections I have to my Dad. 

She would NEVER spoil me again if I told you her age…but…you would be shocked :) I HOPE to JESUS above that I inherited her “aging DNA”.

More of my Dad’s Mom, holding Chase for the first time at the Airport, Gate “B” :)  
My Dad had her eyes.

My Dad would have secretly loved this picture but he would have joked about it for day :) However, I would have found it in his wallet, secretly made into wallet size…. That’s how he rolled.
He’d be proud that I’d embraced who I finally figured out I was …. a creative cat with a twist of normal.

 Sigh. 

She will NEVER – EVER know the love.

 This is me about 3 hours after the horrible, horrible Chicago traffic incident. They’s vacuumed glass out of my side, my legs could not move much and could bear no weight. I was trying to be a trooper but that didn’t last long.

Jim made it to Chicago in record-speed – truly. He did not even stop to put the top up on his convertible. I find that absorbing and unforgettable and when I saw him I felt SO much safer.

My Dad? He would have gotten to Chicago – not as fast as Jim- but that’s because he would have been on the phone with Jim, the hospital, the mayor of Chicago, the President of the Chicago Transit Authority, the company that rented the stupid semi-truck to the deficient driver, the people who were snapping pictures of us bleeding on the sidewalk, the families of the deceased, the President of the hospital and then all the nurses :)

 I recently found out that my Dad played several instruments when he was a teenager! Who knew?! (told ya family didn’t talk much!)

I think Dad would have been geeked over the boys’ love of music and would have been at every “gig” the kids had. He might not have screamed as loud as me, heck he would not have screamed at all, but he would have given the boys a high five and -maybe- a hug (haha) afterwards.

 My Dad did not travel out of the country except to the Bahamas (that I am aware of)

I believe he would have been happy that our kids are getting exposed to many cultures but also to different places within America. 

He’d probably force his way into several of the trips saying, “Aven would want me there Andrea!”

 My Dad hated sand.

I wonder if that would have changed with Grandkids???

Naw. I seriously doubt it. 

 When I had Show Choir (sing and dance club in high school for my international friends :) , my Dad would sit in the audience and make funny and horrible faces at me and my girlfriends. 

It was SO hard not to laugh and I always got mad at him afterwards, but -inwardly- thought it was awesome. My friends would come up and say, “Mr. Lowe! You almost got me in trouble” and Dad would say, “Really? That’s to bad.” and then laugh. Told ya he was a jokester.

We had “Madrigals” once a year…Oh.My.Word. He went CRAZY FACE the entire time.

I have to admit. “Madrigals” is a really odd event. I understood the faces ;)
Somehow, I do NOT think he would have made faces at Aven for her first ballet concert this year. I think he would have been a raptured over her and would not have even remembered to breathe.
Now, years down the road? I would have had to warn her about “Grandpa Bruce’s” antics.


I loved my Dad…faults and all. 
When we lost him, my life changed forever.
I truly thought it would zip back together and I would be able to fill that “hole” somehow.
I’ve learned that’s not the way it works. There is not a person that can really fill that hole for me. Now that I am a bit healthier..

(my PTSD may have started the 2 horrible years of our family fighting cancer but I still had coping stills to cover it up…the Chicago incident may have ripped those away. Thus giving us the life we have now…dealing with my mental health issues…WHICH WE WILL BEAT :)


I will wait until Heaven to be reunited as there is no type of event, person, or moment that can give him back to me, in a certain sense.

I do, finally, have a better sense of a certain type of ‘closure’ – as in, yes that happened and it is horrible and you will never, in so many ways, have what you thought you would have as extended family but you need to decide that that is okay right now- that I’ve never had until now.

However, that doesn’t fill the hole. It makes my mind healthier, but not my heart so much.

When I leaned over to kiss my Dad “good-by” when he peeked out of the coma for a moment, I think he knew it was me. I think he said, “I love you”. I know I said, “I love you Dad”.  I was scared of the equipment, the moment that was about to happen, the looks I was getting, the smell of the hospital, leaning over the rail of his bed to kiss his forehead.

I was scared of death. What will it feel like for him? Is he scared? He asked “if my box ready” at one point. The entire room gasped. That was the FIRST time he admitted defeat. Up until then, he was going to beat it…at least that’s what he said to me, even though, before the hospital he was bedridden and has bedsores, no hair, and sunken cheeks. He’d still smile at me. 

He never talked about death….until then.

Part of me hates those words, but part of me is soothed by them. It means he knew what was happening at times. It meant he may have been praying or getting some things right spiritually.

Maybe he was reliving happy moments? I do not know.

But, I do know that we, immediate family, stood around his bed, with our hands on him, as he stopped breathing.

We did not want to take our hands off.

But then I SO did. I wanted out of that room Out of that hospital. Out of that moment.  

That moment was over, but the moments of missing him, of hearing “Your Dad has cancer”, of returning almost every weekend from college to see how things were, to people asking me for 2 years “How is your Dad?”, of his sickness and death affecting the first year of our marriage, of the future decline of family relationships…..

Those moments linger. 

People die everyday.  People are left behind everyday. 

The people left behind?  Their moments continue to stack up.

Andrea
P.S.  I did not proofread this. Writing has me spent! Sorry for them or even if the post doesn’t flow…
AND…I’d love to hear what you think all of this…HAVE YOU LOST SOMEONE? Do you think of it like I do? I am I out of box on this?

I am here …. but I can’t hear you because….

I am drowning in:

Bright, eye-sight-impairing, mountains of little girl attire that may or may not be 4 seasons past.

Of these clothes, my daughter is in LOVE with each, single, every itty bitty one of them. 

As in, “Momma, if I can’t see my red and green sweater ensemble that I wore to our family’s Christmas Eve party 4 years ago, I will feel incomplete.”



(and…) “My Little Pony” paraphernalia. 

Who KNEW ponies has SO MUCH paraphernalia. I am thinking I may need to involve the local authorities.



(and…) “Barbie” parts (said in the literal). Heads, arms, legs. 

All said parts covered in ‘make-up’ and usually within the ‘Goth’ genre. shudder. scared. future. hers.



(and….) Mix-matched shoes. Where the hey are the others??? I cannot blame the washing machine.

These random shoes, that have no happy other half may, also, possibly, more than likely be about 19 sizes to small for my daughter’s adorable feet. 

Did you know girl feet grew so fast?? I did not



(and…) Bits of paper with, surely, incredibly important hieroglyphics scratched upon them but, of which, I cannot decipher.

 I am slightly terrified (read: very) to put them into the place that they surely (?) belong  

What if she asks, “Momma, where is that small paper with the red, Van Gogh representation on the upper-right-hand-corner and the purple dot that represented the post-modern artistic movement on the back? 

It was my most favorite thing in the entire world, except for you Momma.“     faint

(and…..) Stickers that are stuck in places no human could possibly reach nor should they go.

(HOW and WHEN did my girl put “Strawberry Shortcakes” on the underneath of the railing of her bed? Talent.)

 

(and….)  Enough pretend food to feed any and all desperate and hungry baby dolls within a 100 square mile area of her room. 

If there are leftovers, they could be sent to the dolls in China, Africa, South America, and the Arctic. 


So, my friends….THIS is why I cannot hear you.  All of the above..AND…

 ….because my precious, beloved, adored, and pernicious daughter is yelling into my right ear about what she just cannot part with while my inner-Andrea is yelling into my left ear saying, “Andrea, repeat after me,  ‘You Are the Momma’, ‘You Are the Momma’”. 

Before (shriek) and After (spa day please) pictures promised.   

Andrea
What did you say? I couldn’t hear you

Pictures can be SO very misleading. Oh look – they are the PERFECT family. (um. NOT).



Is anyone else tired of seeing “perfect” on blogs, facebook status’, twitter?

Or in churches?? Or in how people talk about parenting?

I am.

Why do people think ‘being perfect” is so very  important?

Being “perfect is NOT fun. I should know because I thought being perfect was “IT” in my 20′s and into my early 30′s.  I, essentially, was a walking facade of sorts.

Sure, I had ‘moments’ of transparency now and then but, overall, I was not the real “Andrea” or maybe I didn’t know who she was. Regardless, I wanted to be “perfect”.


But…WOW…look at these “perfect family pictures”!

We appear to have it ALL together.

We appear to have no health issues, no confusion in parenting, we are ALL smiles, we look like we just IN LOVE with each other.

We, sorta [excuse me for a moment as I roll my eyes] ,  look “perfect”.

Dang Aren’t we amazing? There pictures demonstrate that. No faults, flaws, no major mental health issues, no massive medical bills, no extensive and long-tem extended family issues, no kids with puberty who may not live to see 18 (;)….

Nope. Perfect…Wanna see more ‘perfect’….

okay…here….

 Chase joined an “Ultimate Frisbee Club”….He is PERFECT at it! He scores every game and the coach is SO SO SO happy to have him on the team.
 (Aven’s first sleepover with her bestie, Tessa!) See it was PERFECT.
 These 2 girls are even SO bright. They are in honor class, colleges are already scouting them, and they taught themselves how to read. PERFECT!  :)


Do you get my point?

Pictures, conversations, even clothes people wear can be misleading. 
They can make the one observing them seem inadequate sometimes.

People can also feel exceptionally inadequate if they are talking to someone who seems to have it “all together’.

I am here to say: 
NO ONE HAS IT ALL TOGETHER!

NO One.

NAdA.

Nope. 

NO ONE!!

I do not care how much money you have, how many nannies you employ, how many best friends and support you have, nor how secure your job is….

We are ALL imperfect.

But…it is so much easier to hide behind the wall of “WHAT? Oh me? Oh I am absolutely great!!”
(I am not saying to not take great picture, have great conversation, where cute clothes…I am saying to not hide behind them. Be true to who you are and imperfections that you have.) 

Instead of, “Well, it’s been a rough season. I hope we come out of it soon.

Before I “found my transparency” would NEVER have said the latter statement.

NOW, I am the latter statement!

Let’s blow it idea of “perfection” out of our lives you guys…..

Let’s just be WHO WE ARE…which is messed up! 

Everyone is ‘messed up’ in one way or another…and if you are thinking, “No, I really have no area in my life that is ‘messed up’” then you just proved my point. 

We are creatures of imperfection. 

And it’s okay to say that….because we are ALL messed up. 
Promise.
Don’t let thoughts that play the “PERFECT GAME” get to you.
They are hiding thing – just like I used to do.
Transparency is freeing and easier!
Perfection IS EXHAUSTING!
I love you guys…
Andrea….
a completely imperfect to Wife, Momma, and everyone else
PS I wrote this REALLY fast b/c it has been in my head for awhile and just spilling out. If it doesn’t flow…..tell me ;)

THEY NEEDLED ME "THERE" AGAIN!

Okay folks.

This MAY be my limit. 

My “STOP!” sign.

My ‘end of the rope’.

My ‘throw my hands in the air and yell ‘WELP I TRIED IT ALL’ moment

My ‘ if I ever go to an acupuncture again, I am wearing an 1800′s chastity belt’ moment.

My ‘ ARE YOU SERIOUS? AGAIN?’ moment.

Yep.

Again.



A. Needle. THERE. 

(not in the arm as shown above..no…we are talking “THERE”……but…the picture is representative of my expression when the acupuncturist told me we needed to do the procedure again.)

It was yesterday. I’m still traumatized…which is odd as I am see the acupuncturist to UNDO my trauma.

OUCH.

Andrea

P.S. going back to Mr. Evil Needle Man in a few days. Anyone know where one buys a chastity belt? Like the kind with a key? 





(Picasso’s “The Weeping Woman”. I felt this was a good visual image to end on. ;)

One of my biggest emotional rollercoaster videos yet. Talking about ultra-surprising acunpture technique leads me to happy tears over our sweet Tye. (Consider yourself warned. Buckle your seat belts)

This personal story … very personal in a way (mercy!) …. well does it need to be shared? 

I’ve decided there’s no harm & no foul in sharing it. 
It’s humorous, surprising, and leads me down a verbal path to how all of these weird, alternative therapies for my PTSD are, maybe, really for TYE.
That, maybe, just maybe…there’s a mission behind the madness. 
The video is kooky, raw, transparent, and heartfelt. Enjoy?  

Soooooo…..Do you think I’m a loon or that I am on to something?  

Be honest..but no criticizing of my knarly hair and unmade face …. Remember…I go for transparent around here!
ANDREA
(um. that needle goes WHERE?!)