Peace & Love!!
 
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This is my favorite picture of my mom.  She was probably around 14 in it.  She was such a beautiful person. 

Today would have been her 82nd birthday.  She's been gone for almost 4 years.

I still find myself wanting to pick up the phone to tell her something or to ask for her advice.  I still miss her just as much as I did 4 years ago.  The pain of losing someone never REALLY goes away - you just get use to them not being around.

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The day she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's is forever etched in my mind.  

She was 76 and had started to repeat herself quite a bit.  There were a few occasions that I would be on the phone with her and she would simply go silent.  

Then one day my father found her lying on the kitchen floor.  She couldn't get up and cried out in pain when he tried to help her.  We ended up taking her to the hospital where they couldn't find anything wrong.  This scenario repeated itself several times - her seemingly falling and then having to be transported to the hospital. The day she was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's, she went in on a stretcher, screaming at the male nurse that if he touched her she would call the police.  

She didn't know where she was.  That became the norm for the remainder of her life.  

We ended up moving her to a nursing home because she became increadibly weak and needed around the clock care.  The day we dropped her off, I remember wanting to climb in the bed with her. It was horrible leaving her there.  I wonder if she knew it broke my heart.  

She was in the nursing home for a total of 16 months.  For the first 12 months, I only missed two days of visiting her.  One of the days, she ended up with an intestinal blockage.  When I got there, her belly was distended and I had to argue with a nurse to get her to call the doctor, who promptly had my mother transported to the hospital.  I felt horrible.  

We were fortunate that until the day she left us, she knew all of us.  Alzheimer's left her disoriented - she never fully understood that she was in a nursing home.  She thought my father had added on to the house and brought in nurses to take care of her.  It took her strength - she eventually was took weak to get out of bed.  She saw things floating in the air, snakes coming in the windows and cats wandering around her room.  But she remembered her husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  That was the one blessing out of all of it.
Four years ago today I took my 4 children and my grandson to the nursing home to celebrate my mom's 78th birthday.  She couldn't get out of the bed but sat up, talked with us, had some cake and knew each one of us.  We laughed, cried and reminisced.  She seemed so alert that day.

Ten days later I received the call that the end was near and I needed to come.  I got to the nursing home and two of my sisters were already there.  They told me that my mom had been mumbling for hours and the only audible thing they could understand was my name.  When I kissed her and talked to her, she settled down.  Throughout the day other family members came to say goodbye. 

She passed away peacefully several hours later, after everyone decided to head out to get some rest.  I should have known that she would wait for us to leave.  She spent her life protecting us right until the very end.
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So, today I celebrate her life.  She was a gift to us all.  She loved her family beyond measure and I believe, because of that strength, never succumbed fully to the disease that took her from us.

Happy Birthday Mom!  I love you!
 
 
So you're looking for a new toy!  Let me direct you to the Kindle Fire HD 7.  



I absolutely love my Kindle Fire HD7.  It is my "go to" electronic device.  It travels everywhere with me - I mean EVERYWHERE.  I take it in the car to listen to audiobooks, I leave it on my night stand so I can pick it up to check my blog quickly or look up things on Pinterest, I bring it to work with me so I can read on my breaks. I have downloaded textbooks for my courses, games for when I'm bored (ha.ha.ha.) and use it just like I would a tablet or IPad.  
With a Kindle Fire you can surf the web, manage social media, download apps and download books.  

The selling points for me with the Fire were:

1.  Cost


This was a biggy.  I think I spent around $100 when I purchased mine.  They've now gone down quite a bit in price.  

I have purchased tablets in the past and I have to say that the Kindle is a much better product than a generic brand tablet for the cost.  

2.  Ease of Use


I literally took it out of the box and started using it.  Set-up was EASY.  I didn't want something that I had to fiddle with because I'm am the least techy person I know.  

The only real issue I've had with it, was one time (in 2 years) it froze.  I simply had to reset it.  That was it and it's never done it again.

Even my 6 year old grandson can use a Kindle without it being complicated for him.




3.  Online Account Management

I can manage my devices on Amazon.com.  We are a family of Kindle users. To be perfectly honest, we have about 5 of them (I said I love them!).  I am able to manage each device and it's content without having the device in my hand.  This was an extremely important selling point for me since I have younger kids.  

I can go into their device, see what they've download and delete whatever I want.  It's genius!
I also discovered Kindle Unlimited which allows you to download certain books (an unlimted number of books) for $9.99 per month.  This was a much more economical solution for us given the number of Kindle's we have.

I don't think you'll be disappointed in your purchase.  We absolutely love our Kindle's.

For the best deals, head on over to www.amazon.com.

 
 
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Now that you're a "seasoned" parent, how do you respond to the young, non-parent who makes the comment "MY child will never.....(fill in the blank)"?

I've learned over the years that the best response is no response.  Those people will never fully understand until they have children of their own.  Even then, they still might not get it.

~ I'VE LEARNED that each child, while somewhat similar, can be extremely different from each of their siblings. What worked with one, may not - and probably WILL NOT - work with the others.  Take the time to find what works with each child.   You will make their (and your) life so much simpler.

For example, my oldest daughter could have cared less about "things".  She would not, no matter what I did, clean up her toys.  I could threaten to take them, ground her, etc.  What worked with her was having me bring a chair into her room, park my butt and point to each item and make her pick it up (or else I'd be in her room FOREVER).  

Her younger sister, however, would frantically run around picking up her toys at the meer mention of them being taken (because I actually emptied her room one time).  

~ I'VE LEARNED that kids are going to hurt your feelings.  They are going to say things when they're angry at you (which will be frequently) that sting.  DO NOT, under any circumstances, let that deter you.  You certainly have a right to let them know they hurt your feelings or that what they said was inappropriate, but don't gimp out or they'll keep doing it.

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~ I'VE LEARNED that its important to spend individual time with each child - even if its only a few times a year.  Take them to a movie or to lunch.  These will be the moments they will cherish - not a clean house.

~I'VE LEARNED that you need to accept your child for who they are - not who you wanted them to be.  This was difficult for my kids father and was ultimately what drove us apart.  

I know that when I first set eyes on my daughter after she was born, I never once thought "I hope you have your first child when you're 19".  Hell no......I was angry.  So I get it.  You have dreams for your kids; you want them to have a better life than you did and you don't understand why they can't just listen to you. 

Once I got over it and accepted my daughter for who she truly is rather than who I wanted her to be, I felt more at peace and so did she.  

The simple fact is, they're individuals and they're going to do and be what and who they want.  It's more important for me to have my daughter in my life than for me to be upset over something I can't change.  And by the way, who she is, is pretty great.  She may not be living the life I had envisioned for her, but she's happy, healthy and is a great mom and a contributing member of society - isn't that all we ultimately want?

~I'VE LEARNED that even when we think they don't hear us, they do.  They're not going to admit it - at least not until they have kids of their own (if you're lucky).  I still smile to myself when I hear my kids repeat something I've said that I SWEAR they completely ignored.  They're listening - trust me.
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Have a wonderful, family filled, fabulous weekend!  

If you are getting hit by the big snow storm, please stay safe and warm.

Peace and love!!
 
 
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I don't know about you but I have a terrible time telling people no.    It's just not in my nature to say "I'm sorry but I don't have time".  I think it and then "Sure I can do that" comes spilling out of my mouth. 

The same is true for asking for help in return.  Somewhere in my mind I must think asking for help makes me less remarkable than I am.  ;)  Seriously, what else could it be??  

Really, there are many times that I want to say no or that I need help.  Why don't I speak up for myself?  

Well, I've started to and you can too.  Here are some tips on how:


1.  Just Say No

I know its difficult.  But try it.  You can do it without sounding mean or nasty.  And honestly, do you REALLY want to attend your best friends nieces dance recital??  Someone who truly cares about your well being will understand.  Someone who doesn't, will give you a hard time.  If that's the case, you might want to reevaluate that particular relationship.

This is going to take some practice and it will get easier with time.  I promise.

The important part is to remember that you count.  This is YOUR life and you have the right to determine how you spend your time.
 


2.  Set Boundaries 


Some people aren't going to accept your "no".  Honestly, you dont need to give them a lengthy explaination, make excuses or feel guilty.  Don't allow yourself to be bullied or shamed into changing your mind.

3.  Stick To Your Boundaries

Stand your ground, be consistent and kind and you will eventually get through to whomever it is that is demanding your (note...YOUR) time.  It will be uncomfortable for you at first but stick to your guns.

4.  Ask For Help

For whatever reason, we women have trouble asking for help.  The majority of us have "wonder woman" syndrome - we can do everything ourselves.  Unfortunately, most of the time, that simply isn't possible.  

I think the need to do everything stems from the need to feel "needed" and the more I have to do, the more needed I feel.  Insanity! 

We just need to get over it and ask for help.  Start small.  You cook dinner - have your family clean up.  You wash and dry the laundry - they fold and put it away.  You clean the toilet - they clean the sink.  

Trust me - it will make you feel better.

5.  Accept Help

Asking is a start.  

Now you need to let others help if they say they will and, listen closely, do not redo what they've done.  It's ok if something isn't done perfectly each and every time.  

Good luck!  
Peace & love!
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Ok...I'll admit it - when I first found out my daughter was pregnant with my oldest grandson, I was less than thrilled.  She was young, unmarried and really not ready to be a parent as far as I was concerned.  I was still busy parenting her siblings who were 16, 10 and 6 at the time.  And damn it, I was too young to be a grandmother.

I grumbled, pouted, worried (a lot),  bought some new (fashionable - non "mom") jeans, went out dancing, tried to act "young"  but in the end, no matter what I did, I was about to become someones Nana.

I was there, holding my daughters leg when her son, my grandson, was born. And from that very moment on, I was smitten.  It is an experience unlike any other and truly can't be explained - it must be experienced first hand.  

That tiny little boy stole my heart and still has it (along with his younger siblings and cousin).  I've been blessed to witness each baby's birth.

He and his sister and baby brother (in the picture) came to visit me today.  The two big ones ran into my office smiling at me with their arms out.

THAT my friends is what its about.  That is how I am greeted each and every time I see them.  My 18 month old granddaughter calls her Nana on her play phone;  my 6 year old grandson begs to come to my house and complains to his mother if he hasn't seen me in a few days.  When he does see me, he hugs me and kisses me on the cheek - it is the sweetest thing!  Yesterday I met my other daughter and my 3 month old granddaughter at Walmart. Guess who saw me and smiled?  Yep.  I rock! ;)

Being a Nana is simply one of the greatest gifts in my life.    

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I know, I know, its 20 degrees out.  But I wanted to post this as an example of something I do for myself (when its a tad warmer).  To me, lying in a hammock is as luxurious as taking a bubble bath or getting a massage.  And being able to have this view is a bonus!

First, you need to decide that it's ok to take some time for yourself.  It will feel uncomfortable - push through that feeling.  You deserve some "me time".  We all do.  It took me a long time to realize and accept that it was ok.  I've actually gotten rather good at it!


So what five things can you do for yourself right now that don't cost a mint and won't take you hours?



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#1.  Take a bath

Seems simple enough but what I really mean is, send the kids with your husband, turn on some music, light some candles, put a cup of epsom salt and 2 drops of lavendar oil in the tub and go soak.   If you don't want to listen to music, pick up a book and start reading.  You need to spend some time in the tub and really, REALLY relax.  

#2.  Read a book

Ok, you can't sneak away to the tub.  Grab a book and head to your bedroom.  Or carry a book with you to work and find a place to read for 20 to 30 minutes a day.  Losing yourself in a story is a great way to destress.  My favorite indulgence these days is listening to audiobooks.  Check out www.audible.com to see what they have.  I think you'll be surprised.  I find that there are times when I can't silence my mind enough to focus on reading a book but listening to a book is a whole different experience.  
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#3.  Craft

Do you enjoy crafting but never have the time to indulge in it?  I keep a skein of yarn, a pattern and a crochet hook on my night stand.  The satisfaction of making progress on a project is emence even if it is slight progress.  I love to crochet - as a matter of fact, I have a yarn addiction.  I also love to sew but my sewing machine is too big for my night stand! ;)  JoAnn Fabric, Craftsy and Pinterest have great, free projects.

#4.  Go shopping

ALONE.  Enough said.  Ok - not enough.  Go somewhere other than Walmart or the grocery store.  Go to a craft store or that little gift shop you don't dare to take the kids in.  Wander around - you don't have to buy anything - just enjoy yourself.
#5.  Purchase an exercise video (and actually  use it)

It doesn't have to be a complicated workout video.  You need something to get your body moving.  A beginner yoga video or a stretching video.  Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and get up a couple of times a week to do the video.  
The bottom line is this:  You are important.  You do a ton of things for everyone else every day without complaint.  You run yourself ragged.  Take some time this weekend and do one thing for yourself.  It will invigorate you.  At first, it will really be uncomfortable taking the time away from everyone else.  Just push through the feeling and sink into the tub of water.  It will be fine - it will be better than fine - IT WILL BE FANTASTIC!

Happy Friday Soul Sisters!!!!
 
 
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I first pondered the notion that I might have codependent tendencies when my oldest daughter was in the midst of her, shall we say, "rebellion".  It  was not a good time in our lives, I was a complete wreck, I thought she had lost her mind and it was scaring the crap out of me.  I kept attempting to "make" things better and "fix" her.  Not a good strategy at all.  


Somehow, in my mind, if I continued to "help" her, the situation wasn't REALLY as bad as it was (and it was BAD).  I thought if I was able to help I was still somehow in control.  Turns out, I was never in control.


And thus began the dance..............for several years - yes YEARS (I tend to be a slow learner).  I wasn't making the situation any better.  I was prolonging it (hindsight is a wonderful yet frustrating thing).


She knew that I would jump into action when she called with whatever sob story she had concocted that particular day.  I would give her money, buy her food, take her places, help her move, get her a new phone - the list goes on and on and on and........well, I'm assuming you get the picture.


In the process, my other children felt like they were forgotten. And a lot of the time, their needs became secondary to hers.  
My primary focus WAS on her.  My life started to fall apart.  It was hell.


In retrospect, I thought I was keeping her alive (which was my greatest concern - my biggest fear was that I would get the call to identify her body).  Thankfully, that never happened.  


But what did happen was, after a very, very long time (because I'm a slow learner), I got sick of it.  I got sick of being in a constant state of chaos; sick of handing over money (always with a promise to THIS time pay me back - also never happened); sick of the excuses; sick of being completely consumed by her issues and so, so, SO sick of the lies.

I started to do a lot of reading and research.  I needed answers.  Why had this happened to our family and for the love of Pete, how?  Most importantly, could I make it stop?

Turns out, you don't make IT stop; YOU stop.  That too was a very long process.

So, how do you know if you're codependent?  There are a few tell tale signs.

#1.  Control


This is a BIG one.  When I was trying to "fix" and "help" her that was about control.  I was attempting to manage her and her situation.  I was trying to manage and control how things "looked" to other people - i.e.:  my daughter hadn't really gone wild - I had it under control.  My intentions were good.  I believed I was doing what I was supposed to do as a parent.  I believed I was still teaching her.   

And I was.  I was teaching her how to manipulate me and laid right down and let her do it.  Not a lot of control there was there?

#2.  Poor Boundaries

Do you overshare with people?  I am an over sharer.  I sometimes can't stop myself.  Even with strangers.  Somewhere in my head I'll hear a voice saying "STOP TALKING" but I just can't.  

I think this stems from very poor boundaries that were set by my mother and sisters when I was little.  They each told everyone else EVERYTHING about themselves, their kids, their husbands and worst of all, each other.  I remember doing it also when I became an adult.  It was normal to me.  Trust me, its not normal and its not healthy.

#3.  Dependency

Along with the poor boundaries in my family, there was also a lot of dependency.  If I didn't check in with my mother at a minimum of once a day (as a 35 year old woman), she would call my sisters to see if they had heard from me.  They would then call me to let me know that she was upset that I hadn't called her.  Never mind that I had children, a husband and a house to take care of (while working full time).  I learned from a very young age to always tell them all where I was going and with whom.  A vacation out of the area was extremely stressful because "God only knows what could happen".  Sigh.

Decisions about simple things were discussed with my parents and sisters in addition to my husband.  We were all very dependent on one another.

#4.  Low Self-Esteem

I don't remember really liking who I was until just a few years ago.  I never felt like I was my own person.  I felt as though I was an extension of all these other people and who they wanted me to be.  I do remember being completely consumed with worry about what other people thought about me.  It was the catalyst in most of my decision making and probably why I didn't trust myself to make a decision alone.


#5.  Pleasing Others and Giving Up Yourself

It's not unusual for women to put others first.  It's just what we do.  But when it's ALL you do, it's problematic.  

Do you do things for yourself?  Do you spend time doing things that only make YOU happy?  Do you ask others to help you or do things for you?  Or is your time consumed completely with work, cleaning, kids, schedules, your parents and your husband?  If you can't think of a time in the last week that you spent doing something you love for at least 20 minutes, you need to step back and take a good look at whats going on.  




There are many good books on codependency.  My favorite is Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.  

And it never hurts to find someone to talk to about it.  
The good news is that you CAN stop being codependent.  It isn't an easy thing to do, it takes work and sometimes that work is difficult.  But you can do it.  

I have made significant progress and am happy to report that my daughter is no longer "wild".  It honestly took me removing myself (some call it tough love - I have a hard time with that) and making her figure out her problems on her own. She did have to hit rock bottom but guess what?  She's a smart girl - she's just fine.  She didn't need her mommy constantly hovering over her and her bad decisions trying to fix them.  Once she realized I wasn't doing that anymore, she started making better decisions.  Go figure!!!

Hang in there!  Be tough.  You can do it too.  And don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it.  
 
 
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This sweet little thing is the reason I have trouble getting anything done these days!  She sees me with my computer and promptly hops up and worms her way in between it and me.

Even though I've reverted back to the days of not being able to go to the bathroom alone (she follows me everywhere), I wouldn't trade her for the world!


 
 
As promised, here are some pictures of the latest addition to our family.  I spent most of the day at the hospital again today just holding the little love!  He is a little snuggler and was very alert.

 I also had lunch with my three other grandchildren, my other daughter and son-in-law and Hunter's daddy.  

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Isn't he adorable???  I guess technically, all babies are ;)  And all grandmothers think their grandchild is.

I could have sat and gazed at him for hours.  There is something so special about holding your grandchild.  It's a feeling you can't explain - it has to be experienced.    I remember how sweet my parents were with my kids (I also remember thinking "who are these people" - because they were never that sweet with their own kids).  

But now I get it.    When my 6 year old grandson comes over to kiss me on the cheek or my 18 month old granddaughter sees me, squeals and runs into my arms.  Today when I told her I loved her I SWEAR she said it back.  

There's a special bond between grandparents and grandchildren.  I am thankful every day that God has given me the gifts of these children.  They are precious.
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So there were some funny things that happened during Hunters birth.  

First his father had been celebrating New Year's eve when my daughter went into labor.  He (literally) passed out at the hospital when they got to the delivery room and woke up with a pretty good hangover.  When it came time for her to push, he tried to stand by her to watch but couldn't stomach it.  She told him to go sit down - no one would judge him.  I promptly said "Oh I will" to which the dr cracked up and told Amanda that her mother was a funny lady!   I'm not sure she completely agrees!

After she gave birth to him, the dr looked at her and said "at least your mother wasn't pushing with you like she did with your sister".  Obviously, they had the same dr.  And I did push simultaneously with Danielle.   I couldn't stop myself - even after it was pointed out to me.  My stomach muscles were sore for days.

It has been a blessing to witness the birth of all four of my grandchildren.  I am thankful that my daughters and I have such a close relationship and that their significant others are tolerant of it (and me - it can't be easy having me for a mother-in-law).

I hope you all had a great New Years!

Peace and love!
 
 
Hunter Robert has made his appearance weighting in at 8 lbs 3 ozs and measuring 22 inches long.  He is positively adorable and absolutely perfect!! 

I will post some pictures very soon.  This Nana is pooped - gonna have some tea & maybe take a nap.

Peace & love!!
 

Soul Sisters Unleashed