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I recently came across the following article on my computer.  I must have saved it several years ago.  It resonates very deeply with me right now as I am going through some changes in my current relationship.  Although we aren't married (THANK GOD) it still applies.

The Role of the Man in the Family

According to Dr. Phil, if men want to be successful in their marriage and family life, they have to change and broaden their definition of what it means to be successful as a man. Being a good provider, protector, leader and teacher is a privilege that comes with responsibilities that many men aren't aware of.

A Provider

Most men believe that being a good provider means supporting a family financially. It means much more than that. A man should also contribute to the emotional, spiritual, physical and mental well-being of his family. In order to do this, he must recognize that there are other currencies, in addition to money, that need to be provided.

A Protector
This means more than beating up the guy next door if he insults your wife. It means protecting her self-esteem and self-worth as well as your children's. It can also mean protecting your way of life and guarding against any threats to the things that you and your family value.

A Leader

Instead of waiting for your wife to take the initiative when you are having problems, take the lead. Get in the game and create what you want in your family instead of whining about your family situation. Marriage is not a 50/50 partnership. It's a 100/100 partnership. That means you give 100 percent. And remember, you get what you give.

A Teacher

What are you teaching those around you — especially your children — with your behavior? It's important to provide a good example for your children, loved ones and community with both words and deeds. Set high standards and teach by doing. 

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Let's point by point analyze my current relationship, shall we?

1.  A Provider ~ well............not so much.  He actually doesn't contribute to the household monetarily.  Our deal was for him to take care of the house and lawn, be around for the kids (who are 12 & 16) and cook, clean, etc since I work full time.  

In the beginning, he did some cooking and cleaning.  Recently, its sporatic.  And he doesn't interact with the kids in a positive way at all unless forced.

2.  A Protector ~ he succeeds at this in the sense that I know we're safe with him at the house.  But only in that particular area.

3.  A Leader ~ he wants to be the leader.  He also wants everyone to respect him.  However, rather than earning it, he demands it.

4. A Teacher ~ he wants to also be a teacher but I'm not entirely certain I want my kids to learn what he has to share.
So here I am, at 40-something, ready to start over again.  Sigh.  But after a year and 1/2 with nothing really changing, what choice do I have?  

Tell me, what would you do?
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!!
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.  
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.  

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.
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!
My boys a month or so after we brought them home.  This is one of my favorite photographs of them.  Aren't they beautiful?  <3

My heart is full having just read that Sandra Bullock adopted another child from foster care.  As an adoptive parent of two children who were in foster care, I can tell you there is no greater joy.  These boys - who were 2 and 6 when we adopted them - have been two of the biggest blessings of my life.

Unfortunately, not all adoptions turn out well.  There are many horror stories out there and trust me, I was worried.  

Our intent initially was to foster until we found a child, preferably a baby, to adopt.  Our first placement was a twelve year old girl who I will call "A".  Let me tell you sister, fostering a twelve year old girl is not for the faint of heart.  Fostering, in general, is not for the faint of heart.  It takes a very special person or couple to take in these children, most of them wounded and sad, and care for them like they are your own.  

I think some people also have the misbelief that foster and adoptive children should be grateful to be in a "good" home.  First of all, they're children.  Second of all, 98% of them have seen, felt and experienced things that would bring you to your knees.

Our foster daughter had been abused by her step-father and discarded by her mother when the court said this young girl could no longer live with her step-father.  A's mother had a choice to make and she choose the man over her flesh and blood.  I can't tell you the number of hours A spent sitting on my lap, rocking and sobbing that she didn't have a mother.  It was heart wrenching.  On top of that, there was substance abuse, physical abuse and God knows what else that she witnessed prior to coming to us.  She would make references to drugs and sex that I had never heard before.  

Even though we were able to get her settled into our home, she kept acting out in school and eventually had to go to a different school district, which meant she had to be moved to a new foster home.  At the time, my daughters were 11 and 13.  They couldn't understand why A acted out the way she did and why she had to leave.  My youngest daughter was heart broken when A left.  I was too.

So it was at that point we decided we would simply (ha ha) adopt rather than foster-to-adopt.  

After our experience with a pre-adolescent we decided we didn't want a child any older than 10.  We were willing to accept a sibling group but no more than two children.  Sounds simple enough - HA HA. 

Well, our county generally doesn't have young children who are adoptable so we kept getting calls for older children.  We kept saying no even as guilty as we felt about it (and it really sucked saying no).  Our caseworker sent our homestudy out to other agencies across the country and we were finally matched with two boys ages 2 and 6. Keep in mind that we were into this process by about 7 months.

We drove 6 hours to meet them.  I knew the instant I saw them that they were my children.  

You see, ever since giving birth to my second child, I'd felt like someone was still missing from our family.  I longed for another child.  I prayed for another child.  Almost daily...........I can't adequately explain the empty feeling I had where this child was supposed to be.  And then, after a 6 hour drive and laying eyes on my sons, the feeling left me.  Its never returned.

I'm not going to say its been sunshine and roses, because it has not.  Raising children, in general, is not.

The adoption process itself was long and stressful. The six year old had some behavioral issues.  The two year old spent the first week throwing up all over everything because he was so upset.  I have never in my life been vomited on that much. 

But here we are, 10 years later.  Two of the loves of my life - blessings, absolute blessings.  I wouldn't change a thing.  it was all worth it - the wait, the stress, the vomit - all of it.

Today I read that Sandra Bullock adopted another child from foster care.  KUDOS to her!!!  I got chills when I read the story.
I've attached the article for you below.

The lesson in all of this, for me, has been that the universe has a plan.  We fight it, try to manipulate it and ultimately relinquish ourselves to it.  I'm so thankful the universe sent me these boys.  

I hope the universe sends you what you're wishing for.  Have a blessed day my soul sisters!!!
The Thanksgiving dinner we had with our kids (all but 1) went well on Saturday.  In attendance were my four kids, two with spouses and my 3 grandkids and one of my boyfriends sons.  His younger son who is 17 really doesn't seem to want to interact with all of the other kids, even though one of my sons is almost the same age.   We actually have a hard time getting him to come to our house.  I have yet to figure out exactly why - could be because he's 17 and is doing his own thing or it could be that he's angry that his dad isn't with his mother.  Either way, he was missed.

This has been a difficult task, trying to integrate two families.  There were and occassionally still are, moments where I'm not so certain we're going to make it.  Our parenting styles are completely different.  I'm very passive - he's rather militant.  I like to discuss -  he likes to command.  I hug - he barks.  We both love these kids with all of our hearts though.

Over the past year, we've each learned from the other, been pissed at each other but have continued to stand side-by-side and parent our family.  The kids, for the  most part, haven't made it very easy.  My kids don't respond well to barking.  His kids don't like that my kids don't respond well to barking.  And so the story goes............BUT they're all starting to come around.  It just takes time, like all things.

I do have to say that this man has endured quite a bit of crap from my kids (both the grown ones and the 2 that live with us) and their father.  My boyfriend VERY VERY clearly loves me and them.  I'm not so sure I would have been able to tough it out like he has.  I would have run far, far away.

Today, as I sit and think about my blessings, I am so very thankful for these kids (grown, little, adopted, acquired, etc.) who make up our little blended, somewhat disfunctional family.  I love them all.  I can only hope that when they look back on these times, they remember how much we love them and that we did the best we could to give them a sense of family.  I can't imagine my life without them all in it.

Have a peaceful, family filled, wonderful Thanksgiving my soul sisters!!!

Peace and love!!!




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Being the mean mom that I am, when my children use the word "hate", I tell them "we don't hate - you may strongly dislike something but hating it is unacceptable. Hate is ugly."  

I then make them repeat whatever statement they made using "hate" and replace it with "I strongly dislike....broccoli or rain or school or my brother".
After a few times of this, they  generally don't ever use the word "hate" around me again.

My daughters were 11 and 7 in September 2001.  I felt they were too little to watch the news coverage of the terrorist attacks but they talked about it in school and we talked about it at home.  I explained to them that this was an act of "hate".  That there was a hate driven attack on people by other people who had never even met.  

As they grew up, they began to understand what I meant about "hate".  I can tell you that I have personally used the word hate.  For example, I hated that my daughter became an addict;  I hated that I couldn't help her;  I hated what it did to her.  There may have even been a point where I thought I hated those she was involved with at the time.  I can honestly tell you that I didn't "hate" them - I did however very, very strongly dislike them.  They, too, were someones child.  Even with my own sorrow about MY own child, I would never want anything bad to happen to someone elses.

Everyone at some point or another in their lives feels what they believe to be "hate" toward something or someone.  This past weekend, while watching the news about the attacks in Paris, my 16 year old son came into the room.  He stood for a bit quietly watching the broadcast, seeing the horrible images and turned to see me silently crying.  I said to him "THIS is hate.  Hate is not something every person feels in their heart.  The people who did this felt hate".     He nodded and hugged me.  I think he's beginning to understand.

My heart goes out to the people of Paris and all victims who have been affected by these terriorists.  My heart grieves for the families of the lost sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.   

HOW I wish the world were a different place.  

Peace and love to you all.  

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