N is for Naptime #AtoZChallenge

naptime

Have you ever been so tired that you fell asleep standing up? Apparently a three year old’s work is never done because B was in the middle of a construction project and couldn’t even climb into bed before taking a nap!

Still behind but plugging away!

-Kat

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M is for Morning Messages #AtoZChallenge

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Although the trees are still bare, the wind is freezing and my car heater is working overtime to keep us warm, the sun is shining. As I drove CJ to school and then drove home, I wished I had a megaphone on my car so I could pass on some of the things that I find myself thinking and/or saying nearly every day when I’m driving.

You’d be surprised how many times you probably have the same thoughts over and over again and don’t even realize it!

 

Here are some that are recurring-

  • To the driver in the car that angrily passes me on the left to make a sharp right turn down a side street when I’m stopped at the train tracks (whose gates are down and lights are flashing), “Where do you want me to go?”
  • To the kind crossing guard who smiles and waves cheerfully every day, even though we don’t know each other, “Thank you for brightening my morning!”
  • To the school employee who tailgates me over half way to the school parking lot, starting to move forward at each stop sign even though I haven’t even come to a complete stop yet, then moves so close I can’t see her face in my rear view mirror because most of her car is obscured by that closeness, I have a few things to say. “It’s nice that you are so excited to get to school, that you don’t even realize you are tailgating.” “If you are being this rude because you are late and I’m in your way, then maybe you need to leave a few minutes earlier.” “The speed limit is 20 miles per hour- just a gentle reminder.” And finally,, “BACK OFF!”
  • To the children in my car, “No, we cannot play (insert whichever CDs each one wants to listen to- always two different ones) over from the beginning, it’s (insert the other child’s name) turn to hear their music.
  • To CJ as we sit there, “Remember you are a (car rider/bus rider- depending on the day), your lunch, snack and iPad are in your backpack, have a good day!”
  • To CJ, who only wants to wear a hoodie, “I know it’s spring but it is 30 degrees out and if it was raining it would actually be snow. It’s too cold to go without a coat.”
  • To the person who’s turn I sometimes take by accident when we are at that four way stop intersection, “I’m sorry about that!”
  • While we are sitting in the lot waiting for school to begin, “No, you cannot stand with your head and/or body sticking out of sun room. I don’t care if that small child’s dad let’s him do it.”
  • And lately to poor Beej, when we get back home, “No, we can’t play in the back yard right now. It’s (insert whichever weather is happening at the moment- cold, sleet, snow, rain, freezing winds).”

Such fun!

-Kat

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K is for Kind #AtoZChallenge

Our dog, Ari, was under a year old when she came to live with us and when she was three, our grandson CJ joined the family also at the age of three. We weren’t sure how Ari would be with kids or how CJ would be with a dog. It was love at first sight.

CJ has always felt a kinship toward Ari because they are close in age. We don’t have the heart to tell him that dogs age faster than children do! I have loved watching these two grow up together to the ripe old age of eight! And when little Beej was born, Ari became a “mom” and we’ve witnessed her growing into that self-proclaimed position.

Ari has taught her boys how to share and how to handle it when your playmate won’t give up a toy. She has shown them that beds, chairs and laps, no matter how small, are always big enough for one more. She instilled in them the importance of reading by being a great listener when they have shared books with her. And because of her attentiveness inside the house and in the outside world, that you always watch out for the people you love.

Most important of all, I think she taught them how important it is to be kind to others, just because it is the right thing to do. And I’m happy to report that this life lesson is coming along nicely!

“This is why every kid needs a dog and every dog needs a kid!” -Unknown

This post is doing double duty between Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Kind and the A to Z Challenge.

Happy Saturday (from the one still behind in this challenge)!

-Kat

 

E is for Evolves #AtoZChallenge

life evolvesOne of the coolest things is to watch your children grow up and evolve into the adults they are going to be. You will see bits and pieces of the kids you raised and then there will be all the bits and pieces they picked up along the way resulting in this awesome person.

Kris is my gender fluid middle child, who uses “they/them/their” pronouns and currently has female gender expression. The journey we have taken over the last six and a half years rivals Space Mountain in the Magic Kingdom. Having a daughter for 18 years, then a son for nearly 4 years and finally seeing Kris come into themselves has been amazing.

In a few weeks Kris will be graduating from college. They are finishing a few years later than their friends but those extra years were filled with self-discovery and growth that can only be experienced through real life living. It hasn’t been easy and it won’t be easy but boy, am I proud of this kid!

“It’s never too late to  grow up and become who you really are.” -e. e. cummings

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Have a great day!

-Kat

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D is for Dog #AtoZChallenge

  • “Happiness is a warm puppy.” -Lucy VanPelt
  • “The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” – Andy Rooney
  • “The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment.” – Robert Falcon Scott
  • “The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.” -Samuel Butler
  • “If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” -James Herriot

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Happy

The Daily Post- WPC- Smile

Have a great day!

-Kat

C is for Cart- tastrophe #AtoZChallenge

I should have known better. I raised three children. I went through the terrible, tortuous, tricky, trying threes times three. As I like to remind these little boys, “I’m not new here!”

And yet, despite all indications that taking Beej to the grocery store was a bad idea that day, I went. It began with his firm assertion in the car. “I don’t want to go shopping.” He proceeded to punctuate his stand by, well….refusing to stand when I took him out of his car seat.  I was determined to show him who was in charge. I carried him under my arm, no small feat when your baggage is a 34 lb. child flailing about and it’s icy and about 10 degrees out.

We made a grand entrance with Beej kicking and screaming and me trying to to stuff his legs into the  leg holes in the shopping cart. As we made our way toward produce, which was especially crowded for 8:40am, he kicked his crying up a few more decibels and his boots off. I tossed them into the back of the cart and continued walking. Beej decided to rip his hat off his head. IMG_2866The only problem was, it was one of those cute ones with those braided yarn things hanging down on each side and I had tied them into a knot under his chin when he had tried to take it off back when we left the house. (Oh yes, this battle had begun long before the parking lot.) As he tried to pull the hat off, his cries reached hysterical levels when he couldn’t. I tried to slide it over his face but it wouldn’t give. We stood there with him screaming and me picking at the knot that I had tied much too tightly. Once the hat was untied and off his head, he resumed yelling. As I would pick up a fruit or vegetable, he would add that to his never-ending litany. “No, I don’t want bananas! Put them back!!!” (Whoever thought it was cute that he was so articulate ME??? was rethinking that!)

People openly gawked at us as we made our way through produce. I admit that I was defeated at that point but I refused to give in. Over 20 years earlier, with Beej’s daddy, I had walked out of a store or two, leaving my cart of unpurchased items behind. I was more experienced now and I would not be deterred… or obviously defeated.

When Beej spotted the display of toy cars that are on the end cap of every aisle in the store but especially by the snack foods….. you know the ones. The doors and trunk open. They’re $5.99 each. I’m sure you’ve seen them! … well, he drew on newfound energy and reached his peak. “I WANT TO GO OVER THERE!” he yelled, pointing at the cars. I answered in a soft voice (frankly, it was all I could muster), “No, we are not going to go over there. You are not getting a car.”

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At that point, he clutched my purse strapped and wailed. I had the strength of a wet noodle and just wanted this ordeal to be over. I wasn’t embarrassed or upset or mad or frustrated. Beej was three years old. He was being three. He did not want to be there and he was making it known to me and everyone in a three aisle radius. I understood.

But we were there to shop and shop was what we were going to do. The only way he would learn boundaries and limits was if I made them perfectly clear. I acknowledged that he did not want to be there but we were not leaving before we were done shopping.

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At one point I stopped and closed my eyes, looking for strength. When I opened them, this was where I had chosen to regroup. Coincidence? I don’t think so. 

As I checked out, an employee helped me bag up my groceries and Beej flipped his switch. The storm clouds parted and sun shined down on him, illuminating his angelic smile and dimples and he even batted his eyes. Of course, the employee gushed and cooed at him. The electronic pony caught his eye and as sweet as pie he asked, “Please, Nonna, can I ride on the pony?”

Just as sweetly I smiled back at him and said, “I’m sorry, sweetie, but no you cannot. You screamed your way through the entire store. Maybe next time.”

And much to the employee’s surprise but not to mine at all, Beej returned my smile and chattered on about how he had been behaving (sometimes with a devilish glint in his eye) and how maybe next time would be better. And in the blink of an eye, the storm had passed and my sweet little boy was back.

Such is life with a three year old.

Although I have been back to the store a number of times since then, I freely admit that I time those trips during my Beejless hours. (Like I said- I’m not new here.)

And I have to admit that the 20-something me would have been in awe of my composure and calm throughout the experience. The now me just wanted it to be over.

Beej’s dad was my first three year old child and he was nearly my undoing back in 1993. In general, I find this little three year old exhausting more than anything else. I can’t speak for the other adults in his life.

Did your kids have an age that was just awful? ( I actually found the teen years to be more trying than the threes- but that might be because I spent 13 years in Teen Town.)

-Kat

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B is for Bonnet #AtoZChallenge

When we were kids, my sisters and I got bonnets when we were on vacation. We read Laura Ingall’s Wilder’s books and we were the biggest fans of the tv series Little House on the Prairie, which aired from 1974-1988. bonnet
We were tolerant of the differences between the books and the tv show because we loved both so much.

One of our favorite things to do was to pretend we were Mary, Laura and Carrie, although my youngest sister was not amused at how much we giggled at the opening of the show and little Carrie’s unfortunate tumble down that hill.

I was always Mary because I was the oldest. I secretly wanted to be Laura but if the truth be told, her fearlessness terrified me and I knew I could never be as courageous as she was. I really was more like Mary.

We would run down hills re-enacting the opening of the show while humming the theme song. Even though we were wearing shorts or jeans, in our heads we wore dresses and petticoats and laced up boots and our bonnets were tied around our necks, flapping against our backs as we ran. We created make shirt covered wagons and rode on endless journeys. I actually wrote Melissa Gilbert (Laura) a fan letter when I was around twelve years old. One of my prized possessions was the signed photograph and form letter I received in return and I’m pretty certain that it is tucked away in a box somewhere. There’s no way I could ever let it go!

Oh how we loved Pa, played by Michael Landon! I’ll never forget that day in 1991, turning on the news as my phone rang… my best friend’s voice distraught as she asked, “Did you hear the news…?” And she didn’t have to finish her question because I was staring at the screen in shock, as if I had just lost my own dad. We loved him so much!

Do you have a favorite childhood book or tv show that brings back fond memories? I would love to hear about it!

-Kat

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Favorite Place

Unedited and taken in the moment- anytime spent with this little guy holding my hand ranks at the top of my list of favorite places to be.

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 There’s joy and wonder everywhere, when you see the world through the eyes of a child. …

Weekly Photo Challenge: Favorite Place

Hope your weekend is filled with joy!

-Kat

Where Did Compassion Go?

“True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it.” -Daniel Goleman

Have you ever been so moved to speak out about something that it overwhelmed you- rendering you speechless? I have found myself in that place.

I have seen a trend occurring in support groups on social media. People, looking for support and understanding while they work their way through something they are experiencing with their loved one, are attacked by others in the same position. This attack takes on the forms of bullying, judging, accusing and reprimanding. It is wrapped up in the deceptive package of “tough love” or “just trying to set you straight” or some other helpful reason. And in some cases, I believe that the person truly means well. But more often, that is not the case.

When a parent is navigating something new and possibly unexpected with their child, and it can be anything from lgbt issues, health issues, learning disabilities…. whatever….., it’s rough. It can take time to process feelings, educate yourself, and get yourself on track. Everyone moves at their own speed and there is no right or wrong way to do it.

What one person easily accepts might be difficult for another to wrap their head around. Someone might be familiar with the topic and another person might have never even heard the words before. Often people are misinformed. So many may be feeling as if their world changed overnight and they are unsure how to move forward. Regardless, if they are searching for support and find themselves in a group surrounded by others in their situation, they are going to hope that these are friendly faces. If they are me (6 years ago), they are praying to find some friendly faces. Some kindness, compassion and support. To know that they are not alone.

At this point, if you’ve stuck with me, I’m sure you are thinking, ‘Kat, could you be any more vague?’

Let me give you an example- My middle child, Kris, is gender-fluid. Kris uses they, them, their pronouns.

Six and a half years ago, my middle child, Kerri, came out as transgender, and she transitioned to Kris, my son. A few years into this transition, Kris began showing more feminine traits and we discovered that Kris identified more as genderqueer or non-binary. Pronouns changed to they, them, their and gender descriptive words such as son and daughter were removed from our vocabulary. As time passed, Kris’s gender appeared to be more fluid with times where they were female and Kris temporarily used she, her, hers pronouns. The feminine period lasted for what seemed like a long time but in reality was a blink of the eye and Kris’s appearance morphed more into a cross between masculine and feminine with pronouns changing back to they, them, their. Kris has been our leader, as they should be, because it is their life, after all.

It’s quite a journey and I’ve shared parts of it here in this blog. Writing is my therapy and if I can help another parent who is in my position feel a little less alone, then it’s definitely worth it to put myself out there.

That paragraph up there, the one telling you about Kris….it’s a safe paragraph. If I was to post that in any of the many groups that I’m in for support, I am confident that the reaction would quite benign. There might be some “likes” and a few welcoming comments.

BUT, here are a few facts about us…my family and Kris:

We do not use the term “dead name” when referring to Kris before they transitioned. Kerri is Kris’s BIRTH name- the name given at birth. Kris went by the name Kerri and lived as our daughter for 18-1/2 years. Kerri is not dead- she’s just not here. Parts of her live on in Kris but not all of her. We don’t go out of our way to talk about Kerri or once having a little girl, but there are times when it makes more sense. And quite honestly, I love Kris. I loved Kris when they were Kerri. I loved Kris when they used male pronouns and I loved Kris when they used female pronouns. I love Kris. My sons grew up with Kerri. She is part of the foundation of their entire childhood and our family’s story. None of that takes anything away from Kris or our love for Kris. We have all talked about it and if Kris expressed that we do it differently, we would do it in a heartbeat.

There are pictures of Kris growing up displayed in our house. They show who Kris was. For awhile, Kris didn’t want anything up that showed them as a girl and I respectfully removed them all, only leaving out the ones that Kris approved. Time passes and Kris was okay with a few coming back out. I was so glad that I didn’t get rid of all of them.

Sometimes I miss my daughter. I suspect I always will. I realize that I probably miss the idea of her more than the reality of her. I’m okay with that. And for those months last year it felt like she was back. And if you look back at that time, you’ll find that I didn’t write much. I hope to be able to write about that time someday because I think it’s important for other parents of gender-fluid kids to hear about it. Even in the land of parents of transgender kids there are some who believe in the gender binary and I think that some of my unresolved feelings in that area floated to the surface during Kris’s recent girl stage. So, sometimes I miss my daughter and IT IS OKAY! It does not detract from my love for Kris.

Because my child’s gender is fluid, my experiences and emotions are also going to be fluid. They won’t follow a “female to male” norm. And someone else’s experience with a gender-fluid child could be (and most likely is) completely different than mine.

If I was to post some of these things in the support groups I’ve mentioned, there’s a pretty good chance I could find myself under attack. I’ve been seeing it happen regularly to some unsuspecting person who is trying to figure out which way is up and they use the wrong pronouns or their child’s birth name because they aren’t ready to let go. Don’t get me wrong— these groups are filled with kind, gentle, loving people who are quick to support and compassion—- but when you are feeling like you can’t keep your head above water, it’s the cutting words of the others- those are the ones that make you slip down lower. If you are new to this world, you don’t know any better and to be harshly reprimanded and accused of “dead naming” your child? Of not being supportive? Of being selfish because you need support and you thought you were in a safe place at a time when nothing feels quite right?

I don’t post these things because I don’t need to. I’ve worked through this. I’ve had countless conversations with Kris about the Do’s and Don’ts.

If I encounter someone who has set off a war unintentionally, I will be quick to reassure them and support them and let them know that what they are feeling, doing, saying, is okay. I will not engage in combat though. I realize that someone has to. But right now, I’m fully entrenched in two other ongoing battles that are consuming all of my energy.

What’s the point here? I don’t know. I can’t help but refer back to the title- Where did compassion go?

I’m posting without editing because if I do, this will sit in the shadows with so many other drafts. I apologize for typos- this is me in this moment and one day, I know that I will come back and edit it.

Peace and Love,

Kat

Pick Up a Book and Read!

seussA note from Kat- I’m still more down than up in my never ending recovery and here is the proof. I thought I was on the upswing and wrote this post…..and never published it. But it might be a good thing I did because I just caught a typo- the horror! So, better late than never–

In 1997, the NEA (National Education Association) created Read Across America. This initiative is to encourage reading and it is celebrated each year on March 2nd, the birthday of one of the most popular authors of children’s book- Dr. Seuss.

In honor of one my personal favorite authors, I would like to share a few Dr. Seuss quotes:

  • “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”
  • “You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact and remember that life’s a great balancing act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
  • “Don’t give up. I believe in you all. A person’s a person no mater how small.”
  • “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed)”
  • “You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”
  • “If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”

Do you have a favorite Dr. Seuss quote or book? Dr. Seuss has made many appearances on my blog. He made my list- 10 Favorite Books I Read to My Children When They Were Young and last year, I shared more favorites with ““Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” This year Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book tops three year old Beej’s favorites list. And you better remember to include “Dr. Seuss” at the beginning of the title or else you’ll face the wrath of my little B!

Happy Belated Birthday, Dr. Seuss! Thank you for filling our lives with so many great hours spent reading fun books! If you haven’t done so already, it’s not too late to pick up a book and read to a child!! You can never start instilling a love of reading too soon.

-Kat