My Three Little Birds

This week’s song, Three Little Birds by Bob Marley and the Wailers (1977), never fails to bring me a renewed sense of determination and a feeling that I can overcome anything as long as I keep my priorities straight. As long as I can remember, what makes me happiest is my family. The combination of this reassuring song and my love for my “three little birds” gives me motivation to keep moving.

“Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying’, (this is my message to you)
Singing’ don’t worry ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singing’ don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright”
Three Little Birds, Bob Marley and the Wailers

 

This post is working double duty for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Happy and 51 Weeks: 51 Songs from the Past. 

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It Never Ends

Near the beginning of this clip from the movie Parenthood, Frank Buckman talks about a time when he and his wife thought their son had polio and the feelings that experience evoked.

Soon I will be celebrating the birthday of my youngest child, my baby, Andrew. He will turn 22 years old. When Andrew was nearly two months old, his doctor was concerned that he might have a narrowed aorta which would be considered a critical congenital heart defect. I will never forget that feeling- I already loved this little guy so much and he might be suffering or at risk for a lifetime of health problems. Oh, my heart. Yes, I understand what Frank meant.

What I felt for Andy all those years ago was just the tiniest fraction of how much I love him (and his siblings) today. I know there are people who do not have more than one or two children because they love them so much, they can’t imagine being able to love more. But love isn’t given to you in a limited quantity to dole out to everyone in your life and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Loving one person doesn’t take any love away from someone else you love. And I’m here to tell you that if you think you have an enormous amount of love for that one child, you don’t have three times that for three kids. It just grows and grows to such an incredible size. And that growing takes place as they grow. That overwhelming feeling of love you might feel for that little guy when he’s two months old is going to expand and fill your life in a way you never thought possible.

It won’t be easy. Their problems will grow with them and sometimes you will have to “be there” but let them handle it on their own and sometimes they will let you help them. No, it won’t be easy but it will definitely be worth it.

And as I tend to do around my children’s birthdays, I’m feeling very nostalgic and very blessed. Oh, and Andrew ended up being the healthiest of all my children- so there you go. Just another reason to be happy.

But a word to those who haven’t reached this realization yet, to quote Frank Buckham- “IT NEVER ENDS!” (And that’s a good thing, right? Right?)

Have a great day!

-Kat

 

 

 

I wish I could freeze time or go back in time and watch my kids grow up all over again because it is just going by too fast.” – Robert Rodriguez

Thankful Thursday

dandelion on patio 7.2.17When I sat down in front of my computer today, my mind skittered around in an attempt to decide on a post. I wasn’t prepared for any of the photo challenges- at least not quite yet. A quick scroll through pins on my “In the works” board on Pinterest didn’t spark anything. I felt my spirits droop and an unwelcome thought entered my mind. “Why does everything suck?”

This made me sit up in my chair and do a quick examination of my life at that exact minute. As my thoughts darted around my head touching on this issue or that area, I quickly realized that I could only think of one thing that could be categorized as sucking.

As I ran down my laundry list of usual problem areas, it dawned on me that things were pretty darn good and truthfully, I had so much to be thankful for. I gave that “sucky” thought a kick in the pants and settled down to share my thankful list with you:

  • My two college kids are in good places- both of them! They are both finishing up their last year of undergrad studies. Despite a little adversity, both are facing these obstacles in a more mature manner. And they are thinking past graduation! Score!!!
  • My dear friend, Hugh, who writes Hugh’s Views & News so kindly shared a post of mine that he enjoyed- Yesterday Once More. What makes this act so special to me is that I was feeling a bit vulnerable writing it. I’ve been playing it safe for awhile now and when Hugh’s own post inspired me to write mine, I was hesitant to hit that “Publish” button. Every insecurity I have as a writer rose to the surface. Hugh sharing that post was the gentle nudge I desperately needed and I’m eternally thankful to him for this.
  • I met new people through my blog at a time when I’ve been feeling quite cut off from the world both behind the keyboard and out. It’s been so much fun!
  • The infernal heat broke and it’s a breezy 70 degrees here in the Midwest- absolutely perfect!
  • I’m feeling more pulled together than I have in a long time. Being in limbo can be draining and scary and frustrating but today I don’t feel so disconnected.
  • I chose (and purchased) a paint color for my front door that was referred to as a “bold” choice by the cashier and although she said it in a way that implied it was over the top, it only confirmed to me that I had, indeed, picked the perfect color!

What are you thankful for today?

“I have a lot to be thankful for. I am healthy, happy and I am loved.” -Reba McEntire

Happy Friday Thursday!

-Kat

 

 

Detour

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STOP

My plans for the fall have come to a halt. Or maybe just had to be revised. Due to circumstances beyond his control, my son finds himself needing some assistance in caring for CJ (almost 8) and Beej (approaching 3). Working a 24 on/48 off shift means that he needs more than just “keep an eye on the kids for a few hours” help. It requires at least two overnights and now that school has begun, on the average of three mornings getting CJ ready and off to school and then picked up and homework duty.

Cross Traffic Does Not Stop

Crossing the road both figuratively and literally can be quite tricky. I’m dealing with two children, who are quite precious to me, and although I know them almost as well as I knew their dad at these ages, I just never know what we will find around the corner. (or across the street). Whether it’s teething, an inability to sleep due to excitement, or a classic case of missing Daddy, I have to be prepared for anything. 

Detour

My life has taken an unexpected detour. I have always enjoyed spending time with my grandsons, and this takes that togetherness up a notch. I am blessed to have a husband who loves our grandsons as much as I do and brings his own kind of grandfatherly goofiness and priceless assistance to our days and nights. We have easily fallen back into long forgotten routines from years ago. I am happy to give my son peace of mind while he works at a job that requires him to be alert and free from home distractions while on duty. I am lucky to have this special time with these guys! 

“See any detour as an opportunity to experience new things.”

-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Happy Saturday!

-Kat

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Corner.

 

Two Time

readingDo you want to know what I’ve been up to for the past five days? Just a little summer reading. According to my calculations, I have read over 90 books* in a five day period.

Yes, I’ve been on two year old duty on and off for a good part of the week, including many sleepovers, which explains my absence here on the blog. But if you think we were just sitting around reading books the entire time, you would be mistaken. Little Beej remains the busiest two year old around.

In addition to reading endless books, he played with cars (big and small), trains (Thomas and others), play food, puzzle letters, xylophone, piano, figures, and as you can see from the photos above- he re-distributed the fluff that Ari removed from her stuffed animal after I gathered it into a handful and he assigned the Teletubbies their positions on the fire engine.

We spent a lot of time in the bathroom and we talked about going potty a lot. We made little to no progress in that area but it really does provide some memorable conversations. He knows all the right answers. He informs me when he has pooped. He is holding it when he’s sitting on the potty chair. He has peed next to the potty chair, on his blanket and socks, on the rug in the bathroom…. Yes, it’s been a bonding experience for us- as if we needed any more of that!

“A toddler believes that if you love a person, you stay with that person 100 percent of the time.”          -Lawrence Balter

Although the last week was unusual, at any given moment, I might find myself spending lots of  time with Beej. I don’t mind. I love this little guy more than anything and I think he feels the same. When his Daddy came to pick him up, I explained that he was going home. “To Daddy’s house,” he clarified to himself. I corrected, “To your house where you live with Daddy.” Beej threw his head back and wailed in pure two year fashion, “Noooooooo. It’s not my’se (the two year old word for “my”) house. It’s Daddy’s house. I want to stay here.”  This story has a happy ending. Beej is two (meaning his mood changes on a dime) and loves his Daddy and was happy to go home with him.

I know this time with Beej is precious and a gift and something I will always treasure. I also know it’s necessary and what’s best for Beej and I’m so grateful that I’m able to be here. Although it cuts into my writing time, it also gives me space, perspective and time to think while I’m enjoying this special little person that my son created (reminding me of a special little person I created so many years ago).

“Sometimes you need to talk to a 2 year old just so you can understand life again.”                       -Patricia Love

I’m working on finding a healthy balance. Writing and my blog is calling to me. I hope to get it right soon!

-Kat

*Here is a list of the books B and I read- Ten Apples Up On Top (3 times), ABC Drive (+5 times), Star Wars A to Z (1 time), A You’re Adorable (4 times), The Golden Egg Book (2 times), Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (5+ times), Hooper Humperdink? Not Him! (5+ times), Where the Wild Things Are (3 times), Do Princess Wear Hiking Boots? (5 times), Jake Baked the Cake (2 times), Giggle, Giggle, Quack (5 times), Have You Seen My Potty? (3 times), Even Firefighters Go to the Potty (5+ times), Potty Time (2 times), Too Big For Diapers (2 times), I Can Go Potty (3 times), Your Personal Penguin (5+ times), Time For Bed (3 times), The Going to Bed  Book (3 times), Goodnight Moon (3 times), Click Clack, 1-2-3 (5 times), Pajama Time, The Bunny Rabbit Show, and I know I’m forgetting a few more titles.

 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge J is for Joy

J

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson

I don’t talk about my mother here on my blog. There is only one reason-  she is part of an elite group- the people I don’t discuss here. I can tell you that she is still alive. She lives nearby me. She is still part of my life. And she loves me with a fierceness that is not easily expressed but never doubted. She is a strong person who is quite private. What most people might not realize is that she is a fighter, with determination that could rival the toughest in town. She cares very deeply, but rarely lets those emotions bubble to the surface. Although I know she loves us all, we take it on faith, not expecting her to say those words out loud. beej gg

And it is because of all this that I have absolutely savored the time I get to spend with my mom when Beej, my little grandson is around. More than once my mother has expressed how much of joy he brings to her life. It fills my heart with joy to watch great-grandson and great-grandmother together. It brings back memories of the days when my firstborn, Michael, was young and all of the special times we spent with my mom then.

I know that this time is fleeting and I love being a part of the happiness Beej brings to her life.

You can read the rest of my A to Z posts- HERE.

TTFN

-Kat

Just Like You

When you meet me and my family, I’m asking you a favor. Keep an open mind. We are your average family…..or as average as anyone can be these days.

I’m married to the father of my three children. We have lived in the same house for the past 20 years. My oldest child is married and has two children and my other two are in college. Growing up my kids were involved in Scouts, band, karate and other various activities. We took annual family vacations and trips to the zoo and museums. I was a Scout leader, PTO and booster mom. Over the years we had fish, birds and a dog as pets.

Two of my kids have freckles. Two are left-handed. All three play musical instruments. Three loved Pokemon growing up. Two have been avid Star Wars fans. One paints. Two are natural comedians. All three are creative although by different degrees- creativity drives one, the other channels his creativity into his life’s passion and the last keeps his in check, allowing it to appear in little bursts. One is an extrovert and two are introverts. Two of my kids look just like me. They all have different color hair and eyes. One has curly hair and the other two have straight hair. Two are boys and one is transgender (see below for definition).

I worried about one child who struggled with reading. Two of them broke bones before they were three years old. One needed stitches at the age of 12. They all had strep throat more than once and pink eye only once (thank goodness!). Two had scarlet fever. They all had chicken pox.

——-Wait- what? (remember that open mind I asked you to keep?)

Until that second that you read that word, we seem like a pretty normal family, right? Nowadays our family has grown to include a daughter-in-law and two small boys. We might be a bit noisier or take up an entire aisle at the grocery store at times. You probably passed us at Target or sat a table away from us when we are at a restaurant. You stood behind us in line for hours waiting to get on the “It’s a Small World” ride in the Magic Kingdom. We might have exchanged pleasantries at school events or shared hellos as we passed each other while walking our dogs.

I worry about my kids when they are struggling, even though they are all technically adults. I love them unconditionally and will always do whatever I can to help them- whether it means giving them a hand or a swift kick in the butt. I want them to have happy, productive lives and be kind, caring people.

We could be anybody. We ARE anybody.

So, the next time you see us and maybe your knee jerk reaction is to look the other way as we pass, I’m asking you to please keep an open mind and remember we are still the same people we were before you heard that one word. We are just like you.

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Transgender– when a person’s gender identity or gender expression differs from their assigned sex or what is considered normal for male or female genders.

This post is in response to The Daily Post Discover Challenge- Open-Minded.

 

 

Five Years

Thanks to Facebook I was reminded that it was five years ago since my last family reunion. Nothing about this meant anything to anyone but me.

And for me, this little tidbit was a life changer.

See, five years ago was the last time most of my extended family saw my children (save the ones who I’m friends with on Facebook who pay attention to anything I post- making that number pretty small). Michael was 21, Kris (formerly Kerri) was 18 and Andrew was 15.

Just days following that family reunion, Kris came out to us as transgender- identifying as male, not the female. Since that day- which was a major turning point in all of our lives- we have embarked on an amazing journey.

We experienced name changes, pronoun changes, wardrobe and appearance changes. We saw the effects of testosterone as Kris transitioned. And then we found out what remains when T is no longer taken. We updated a license, social security, insurance and other various documents/cards with a new name and/or gender. Our relationships with each other as well as outsiders was put to the test. While I’m happy to report that our inner group of 5 remains strong, we lost people along the way. It’s unfortunate but we know who the genuine people are in our lives and we know who will be there when the chips are down. That is a gift that is most precious.

And to the casual outside observer, say someone who isn’t really paying close attention, if they look at my Facebook page today, they see Kris (who some might remember as Kerri, some might not even notice that the name changed 3 times) 5 years older than our 2011 Kris/Kerri. If they are unaware, they will have no doubt that Kris is a girl. A woman of 23 now. And they will be wrong.

My relationship with Kris has transitioned as Kris has transitioned. These days it closely resembles what it might have looked like if Kris was still Kerri and was not transgender. Bras and feminine products are on our shopping list. Kris asks if I have red nail polish or for my opinion on their eyebrows. With only a few minor exceptions, Kris’s gender expression is female. Their gender identity is non-binary. Things are calm right now.

As for me? Well, I’m in a different place now. I’ve gotten used to seeing Kris dressed as a girl. I’ve become so accustomed to it that photos of Kris as a boy seem like long ago. I have adjusted to the name change for the most part. (Kris will remain Kris in my blogging- which is how I know that I have accepted their new name. In my head and in my writing the new name is the first to pop out and I have to correct it to Kris.)

My subconscious is another story. Kris’s pronouns are they, them, theirs. My pronouns for Kris are so inconsistent. Hes and shes are interspersed with theys- sometimes all in the same sentence. In my thoughts shes are lurking around every corner. I understand that seeing Kris as a girl is triggering those feminine pronouns. But I also feel the internal struggle with wanting to have a neat little package tied with a bow- and I know that I cannot have that. My head understands that there is not a special word that equates son or daughter in non-binary but my heart yearns for it.

I’ve lost my place in my support groups as well. I’m no longer the parent of a child who transitioned from female to male or identifies as male. While I have the experiences of the last five years. I do not know anyone who has a child who is non-binary with their gender expression matching the sex they were assigned at birth. In some circles Kris isn’t considered transgender. I read the posts and attend the meetings and support anyone I encounter who is struggling with their trans kid, but part of me feels like I no longer fit in. I seem to be surrounded by parents celebrating their children’s transitions, surgeries, name changes…… I’m so happy for them. (And confused for me.) I am sure that these wonderful people will continue to be supportive- even if I feel like I don’t belong here. I know this because these are truly the most amazing people in the world- supportive parents of transgender people.

I’m uneasy right now. In other parts of my life I am facing challenges that might make my experience with Kris look like child’s play.

Everything happens for a reason, right? Well, I know I have at least one friend who doesn’t really believe this. (And she knows who she is- if she reads this… which I hope she will because maybe it will help her to understand part of my silence lately.)

The past five years presented me with the biggest challenge of my life (or so I thought). My world was turned upside down and continued to be so for probably four of the five years. And it might be that this journey is not over yet and this is just an ebb…. waiting for the flow to return. But maybe it is not. And maybe the last five years was preparing me for what lies ahead.

One thing is certain. Wait, maybe two…… three.

  • I learned that I am much stronger than I ever realized.
  • If you truly love your child, it doesn’t matter what their name is or if they wear a dress or not. You just love them.
  • The LGBTQ community is truly AMAZING.

So as I post something to Facebook, there might be friends who look at my latest posts and think, “Hmm, not much going on there. Kids are growing up. Cute little boys. She looks older….” But the ones who know, will know. They will understand the significance of the picture I shared today. They will be familiar with the journey that got me to this place, some coming in part way, some dropping in and out, and the special ones who have been with me every step of the way.

I’m not sure what the next five years will bring and while I continue along Kris’s road, another path has joined our family’s path. I’m anxious, unsure if I’m truly up for what we will be facing, but I felt this way before….five years ago. And I’m still here. We’re all still here.

 

Life is what happens…

I am trying to change the way I look at the world, my life, everything. After almost a year of having my son and his family under our roof, they have moved into their own new home. I am happy for them. And worried for them.

My life took an unexpected turn almost a year ago and I can’t help feeling like I lost something. But I received a precious gift and that was seeing the daily changes in baby Beej as he grew from infant to toddler. I will miss CJ’s endless chatter and perpetual motion that a 6 year old brings to a house. But boy will I relish the quiet!

My blog took a serious hit this past year and I felt it deeply and thought about it often. I had a difficult time completing any task, let alone a train of thought that was developing into a good post. In the silence of my house (before Andrew woke up), I’ve started this post 3 separate times.

I now have time to write…well, I have some time. That’s the thing about life.

You spend all this time- at least I feel like I did- thinking “when this happens….” or “after this…” and so much is going on while you are waiting.

As Michael moved his family and their belongings to their new house, we received news of two loved ones- one with a possible serious mental illness, the other with a cancer diagnosis. While my husband, kids and little guys are all safe and healthy, these two hits are close to home. I am sad that people we care about are suffering. I am concerned for both of them.

And I’m reminded how precious life is.

In the coming weeks I will be working on my blog and my new sanctuary. I will be spending time with the college kids before they leave. I will be re-connecting with family and friends.

I will be sure that the life I’m living while I’m “busy making other plans” is meaningful.

But boy, I’ll miss the lego guys who randomly appeared throughout my house, the hunt for the pacifier at nap/bed time and retrieving the remote from out of reach locations.

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Dear Children of Mine

You are at an age when you can be considered an adult. I remember those ages- 20-25. I remember feeling more like an impostor than anything else. I was working full-time, paying my own bills and on the verge of giving birth to my first child. All of those things could have qualified me for adult status. And yet they just didn’t. I was actually pregnant with my third child and 30 years old before I started feeling like a real grown up and not someone who was playing the part.

It’s not easy being in your 20’s. Especially when you are living with your parents, even temporarily (Michael) or seasonally (Andrew) or intermittently (Kris). You’ve all been out on your own and living your lives as independently as most of you can at this point. Then you come home and it’s like you never left.

It’s only natural for you to feel more like a child than an adult. And it’s only natural for you to blame me for it. That’s what children do. And that’s the sign that you aren’t quite an adult yet.

See, having 3 kids in 5 years meant that every time one of you was at a *certain* phase or age, we would pause……..and then the next one would enter said phase. Potty training. ABC’s. Tying your shoes. Riding a bike.

Your dad and I were new to parenting when we started this journey. I had some experience and what appeared to be some natural ability when it came to mothering. Dad was a newbie from start to finish but he is a quick learner so it was all good.

It wasn’t easy. You all had very distinct temperaments and personalities and required different handling. It was a balancing act to keep everything on an even keel while a few of you were rocking the boat. I lost my temper. A LOT. I feel really bad about the amount of yelling I did. It wasn’t fair to you and in recent years I’ve made a concentrated effort to reach out to you and talk about things, instead of reverting back to old, bad habits. Opening up is not easy for me. I’m a very private person, even with those I love.

I want you to know that I did the best that I could. I love you guys so much. I have always wanted the best for you and for you to be the best you can be. I love you as you are- imperfections and all- because in my eyes you will always be perfect. If I can only get through to you on one level- I would want it to be that I hope you know how much I love you.

Being your mother and raising you was the absolute greatest joy in my life. When asked what I’m most proud of- it’s you. It’s always you.

As you know from experience, that love comes at a price. I have always been fiercely protective of you. I will fight to the death for you. And when someone hurts you, I get crazy scary. My anger (which really can be terrifying, let’s be honest) comes from a place of such deep caring that it physically hurts me to see you in pain. I try to keep that in check, especially as you all are getting older. I truly feel that you are never too old to want your mom. And you are never too old to desperately wish someone would fight like that for you. Like it or not- I will always be that person to you.

As you have reached your 20’s, I’ve tried to back off and give you space to grow up. One day you will look at your own children and realize that it is easier said than done. When you fall these days, the cuts are much deeper and the stakes are much higher. Please know that I feel every scrape as if its my own. Your happiness means the world to me.

I am proud of the people you have become. You are loving, gentle, caring people. You are the best.

And as I come back around to the part where I tell you that I realize that living under my roof again makes you feel like a kid again….. well, in some ways you still are. The immature behavior that sparks up confirms it. I firmly believe that you are not completely an adult until you can act like one in the presence of your parents. 

Having said that, let me tell you that you are so very close. One or two of you might be closer than the other to taking that leap but you are all closer than you think. I’m watching it happen right before my eyes- my babies blossoming into adults and it’s amazing.

I am blessed to have you in my life. You bring me endless joy and happiness.

And I hope someday when you look back at your childhood, you can look past any tears or bruises and remember the love and the laughter and the joy we shared.

Love, Mom