Monday, March 25, 2013

How Does Your Family Grow?

"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." ~ Flannery O'Connor

So, we've been experiencing a few growing pains around here. Not literally. Don't panic. We haven't adopted anymore dogs or cats or guinea pigs or Marines.

But we've been growing within our family.

Gracey is quite a young lady who is starting to think about all those important decisions ahead of her: driving, college, goals for her life. And it's really scary! She and I have had some really big discussions about what would work best for her and what wouldn't. But I'm proud of the maturity she is showing as she works through these "problems" in her head and heart.

Sadie is a burgeoning teenager. I'm not really sure what to add to that sentence that can't be read into it at a base level. She is maneuvering middle school, starting to exhibit the normal signs of teenage angst (and argument) and working her fanny off to juggle all the balls a college preparatory education throws at her. It's been a tad challenging, but I think she is enjoying getting out there and testing the waters of this adolescent stuff.

However, the biggest surprise for me has been the growing pains we've experienced with Billy. Who knew there would be challenges with a 26 year old!? (About now he is possibly ready to cuss me. I'm taking some serious chances here.)  I firmly believe that the very best thing he ever did was go into the military. He gained some life skills, knowledge, maturity and experiences that will serve him SO well the rest of his life.

And yet, I forget that when he left for that adventure, he wasn't equipped with the family foundation his sisters have had in their much shorter lives. He didn't have the core values and emotional security they are completely unaware they possess. 

Don't get me wrong. Billy gained an amazing amount of knowledge and social skills. His time at the children's home was instrumental in providing him with all the things he cerebrally needed to succeed. We talk about that frequently because, without a doubt, it was his saving grace. He needed that structure that he learned in a loving, safe environment. But that still wasn't a family. The kind that has to love you to infinity (and beyyyoooonnnnd). 

What about the expectations that exist within a family? What about the realization that every action is a direct reflection on those who raised you? What about the ripple effect that comes with making a choice and within a few short weeks, days, hours - or in Billy's case MINUTES - the choice is presented to your family by someone other than you?

Or how about the fact that anyone you pick to be in your circle of influence must somehow "match up" with the inner circle of your family?

Billy has had to learn all of these things in the last 6 months. 

Don't misunderstand! He hasn't wound up in jail, made any life altering decisions, done anything wrong AT ALL! Quite the opposite, in fact, he's got almost straight A's in his college courses. He is working 3 days a week and making his employer proud with a great work ethic. He's found a core group of friends (some new, some childhood friends) whom he spends his spare time around.  He's doing so many things RIGHT. It's great! And we are unbelievably proud of him.

But not 1 but 2 of his college professors are people we know well. His employers are good friends of ours. His landlords know some of our very dear friends. See? No matter where he turns, there we are!

It's just the day to day stuff that has been tough to work through. When do you introduce a new girl to the family? How many new girls should one guy have in a month? Do you tell your parents every time you are going to see a movie, take a walk, eat a brownie, wipe your rear?  Or do you just touch base with them once a week, day, hour, minute? What starting criteria do you use for your friendships or more-than-friendships and what effect with those relationships have on your family?

You'd be surprised how much of that comes into play in a family. I'm sure some of you are sitting here reading this thinking "Who the heck cares? It's his life! He's an adult!"  But I bet most of you fall into 2 categories: 

Some of you never really stopped and thought about it because you have a close knit family who is incorporated into your life completely.  

And some of you don't have a close knit family at all, therefore none of that really does matter.

It's been so interesting to work through this. And by interesting, I mean gut wrenching and frustrating and difficult. Billy wants to meet our (read probably my) expectations and he yearns for universal approval. He wants us to accept his decisions as he makes them because he is an adult. We (read I) want him to operate within the boundaries of our familial expectations and not have to give my approval just because he wants it. We (I) want to accept his decisions because he makes the ones I consider right not just because he wants that approval.

Ok. Fine. I want it my way. (That's right, Burger King, I am on your side...)  And he wants it his way.  So meeting in the middle has been interesting. Helping him learn how family works and why LOVE is not the same as blanket approval is the stuff I'm sure a great book could be built upon.

There have been some long talks, plenty of tears (mostly mine) and a bazillion texts between him, me, Kerry... and any combination of the 3.

So..if you were curious about what we've been doing:  we've been growing into a full-blown family.

And you know what? It's worth it.  Every text. Every phone call. Every tear.

Totally worth it.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lieb....whaaaa...?

To refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal."
 ~ Peter Ustinov

Well. My cousin Sarah did it to me. She gave me a Liebster award... Sounds like something I need to wear my tiara for, doesn't it?

It's not.

Basically, it's an award given to a blogger to help that blogger get to know other bloggers. There are no judges. No special rules. No website of winners. It's sort of a blogging "pass it along" thing! And, as I am a girl always up for a challenge, and never one to poo poo an AWARD for Heaven's sake...I'm raring to go! (That's not counting the clapping at Weight Watchers. I HATED THE CLAPPING CRAP at Weight Watchers. It was like the punishment I deserved if I gained weight.  I made myself sit through a meeting and listen to the clapping.)

Anyway,  Sarah is my crazy cousin I wrote about HERE. She's funny, honest, cute as a bug, sweet, helpful, sarcastic, witty, and....well......a LOT like me according to our husbands. She and I connect on some strange level that cannot be explained. And I love her guts.  So...thank you, Sarah, for my Liebster Award. I'll proudly wear my tiara for a day to celebrate. (Just not today. Because as I type this, I am making a cake and shredded chicken for a work luncheon tomorrow after attending back-to-back meetings for work....AND texting my baby sister about her exciting news. No time for tiaras...)

Annnyyywayy....  Here's what the Liebster award acceptance requires... (prepare yourself)

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link your post to their blog. (See Above)
2. List 11 facts about yourself then answer the 11 questions given to you.
3. Create 11 more questions for your nominees, all of whom have 200 or less followers.
4. Comment on their blogs to inform them of their Liebster Award nomination

11 Facts about Charee

1. I read a lot. Books are my addiction, and it distresses me to know that I can never read all the books that I will want to read in my lifetime. I hope there are a lot of libraries in Heaven, and I hope God is ok with thrillers, mysteries, and maybe some vampires.....

2. Cooking is another passion of mine. I really do love spending time in my kitchen. It somehow centers me and makes me a calmer, happier person. But I don't really eat much when I cook...so I should be a LOT SKINNIER than I am.

3. My strange addiction could become aprons. I have to really resist buying every cute apron I see. I want them all! Speaking of aprons, my new favorite website One King's Lane has some amazing aprons right now! But I always forget to wear an apron when I cook. Go figure.

4. I married my platonic roommate. Seriously. We met, moved in as roommates, lived in the same house together for 3 years, then dated only a few weeks before getting engaged.

5. I do not eat fruit with meat. It disgusts me.

6. I met a group of moms online when Gracey was a TINY baby and when the internet was very, very young. We first talked on a website where there were "boards", then eventually moved to email. It's been 15 years and we all STILL talk. Not daily like before...but we are still close. We have all met some of us in person, and some have met most in person, but we have yet to all be in the same room at the same time. (In fact, one of them has to come to town on business next month...and we are going to hang out!)

7. My biggest pet peeve is eating noises. You can send me over the edge chomping chips. I'm not even kidding.

8. Every time I look in the mirror, I see a dorky, frumpy girl who needs a stylist.

9. Someday I will write a book. I even have my idea for it. Please pray I accomplish this goal before I die and that I get published!

10. Once you have made it to my inner circle, you are there for life. I count my blessings that I have such amazing friends. And those that are TRULY inner circle will be there forever. I might get mad at them or not talk to them over something, but I don't think I'd ever kick any of them out! ;)

11. My husband swears that if an injured animal and an injured person were side by side on the road, I'd rush to treat the animal first. I think he might be right.


11 Questions Given to Me to Answer

1) What is your number 1 parenting tip? NEVER say "My child would never ..."

2) What is your favorite book and why? "Mister God This is Anna" by Fynn You'll have to read it to understand why. It's an amazing story about an amazing little girl.

3) What is your favorite inspirational quote? “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” ~ Winnie The Pooh

4) If you knew now, what you didn't know then what is something you would change in your life? I think I'd slow down and enjoy moments instead of rushing to the next one. College is a blur. I wish I'd appreciated the experience (while still killing myself working almost full time and taking 15-18 hours a semester).

5) What is one of your favorite songs? When you hear this song, what memory does it hold? Brandi Carlile "The Story" I have no memories from hearing it in my past (unlike every 80's song written...), but it holds memories of friends who have walked this crazy road with me. It reminds me that sharing all of those ups and downs in life are what have led me to my life today. It's just one of those songs that makes me very pensive and reflective.

6) What is your go-to meal that everyone in your family loves? French dip sandwiches (Hey, you says that everyone loves. Gracey is HARD TO PLEASE.)

7) Who is your hero? Eek. I'm not sure I can pick one hero. But the one that comes to mind is Mr. Guyon Saunders. He was a man of integrity, unafraid to stand up for what he believed and unafraid to take chances that people might think were crazy. (Sometimes his ideas even made ME crazy.) His death broke my heart - and I will forever miss his counsel. I always knew I could get solid advice from him. THANK GOODNESS I have others who mean just as much to me. Dr. Russell Long is equally wise and dear to me. Super glad I have him!

8) What is your favorite scent/smell? Clean laundry with Downy. Takes me back to my childhood.

9) What qualities do you look for in your friends? I don't look for qualities. I just know when I've met a new one.

10) What is your major pet peeve? Eating noises. Especially crunching.

11) If they made a movie about your life, who would be cast as you and people closest to you? Well....if we don't go based on looks...I'd say Sandra Bullock could play me. Based on her characters with crazy luck, she'd be able to pull it off. And there's no way I could cast those closest to me. Is there an actor out there nice enough to play Kerry???? And I'd say the little girl who played Matilda could be Sadie. Gracey and Billy are much tougher....I'll have to think on that...
MY NOMINEES:

JULIE!

LIZ!!

And my questions for them are:

1. What motto do you live by?
2. Give me a favorite quote!
3. Favorite book (like one of your top 10)...
4. When was the last time you were inspired? Tell me about it.
5. Name your style.
6. What music are you listening to these days? Why do you like those artists?
7. If you could win a real award, why would you win it? (Screen writing? Acting? Singing? ??)
8. Tell me something about yourself that would surprise me.
9. If you could retire today and know that you could live comfortably, what would you do with your time?
10. Biggest pet peeve?
11. What is one major change you'd like to make in the next 2 years?