Guilt Free Friday!!

As a mother I struggle with guilt.  A lot!  I spend a lot of time thinking and rethinking about the decisions I’ve made as a mother.  I just finished reading a book about Motherhood and guilt, and as humorous as it was there was a lot of truth in it.  One of the exercises the author recommends is to make a list of things that you have done right, or that you don’t feel guilty about.  I have decided that Friday’s will be my guilt free days!  Today I will list 5 (and it was hard to come up with 5) things that I DON”T feel guilty about as a mom.  So here goes!!

1.  I DON”T feel guilty for feeding my babies formula!  I did breastfeed all 4 for varying periods of time, but when necessary they got formula.

2.  I DON”T feel guilty for co-sleeping with some of my kids and not others.  Different kids, different needs, different circumstances.

3.  I DON”T feel guilty for setting an expectation of behavior for my kids and then following through with natural consequences if they don’t meet that expectation. 

4.  I DON”T feel guilty for sometimes letting a child cuddle with me on the couch even though they were supposed to be in bed and they sneak downstairs for “water” or the “noise” that they heard. 

5.  I DON”T feel guilty for not doing everything for or “babying” my kids.  Sometimes I wish I could baby them more, but with 4 kids it’s not always possible.  Nothing is wrong with a child that can do things for themselves.

Whew, that was tough!!!  Why should it be so hard to come up with things I’ve done as a mother that I don’t feel guilty about?  My reason for forcing myself to begin to make statements of things I’ve done right as a mother is because I don’t think I am helping my kids by drowning in my own guilt.  I want my kids to see that they are being raised by a confident mother who makes decisions and doesn’t second guess herself.  Sure, I will and do make mistakes.  But I want to teach my children to make good decisions and feel confident about those decisions.  They have to learn that from me.

Come on Moms!!  Comment with 5 things that you DON”T feel guilty about as a mother, or write your own blog post and put your link in my comments.  I want to read about all the strong moms out there!

Snobby birds

I decided to get a bird feeder.  Simple enough, right?  I got the feeder ($4), some special expensive seed, and the pole.  I stick the pole in the ground, fill the feeder and put it on the pole.  Then I waited.  And waited.  For 8 days I waited, and nothing.  Not even a fly by.

I called my dad and fussed about how the birds hate my feeder.  I mean, how hard is it to feed a bird?  So, Dad comes by and says that my bird feeder is the problem, that it doesn’t look like a bird feeder.  Huh?  Do birds know how bird feeders look?  Who teaches them what a “proper” bird feeder looks like? 

So I send my dad to the store and he comes back with a new ($20) bird feeder.  We fill it up and hang it on the pole.  I wait about 3 days, and guess what?


They came.


And they ate!!


And they even got into a little bird squabble.


And then, . . .  HE came!


And HE ate, A LOT!!!!



And although I did like to watch his persistant attempts at stealing my expensive bird seed,


I also liked it when he failed!!


Pig squirrel eats too much!! 

So apparently I have snob birds.  They don’t like $4 walmart feeders.  They only like $20 Home Depot feeders (I should have known).

But, now I have all my pretty birds to look at. 


Now to come up with a plan to keep pig squirrel away . . .

NOT Me Monday!!

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.
Here we are again!  Time for me to confess all the things that I did NOT do this week!

I did NOT send(lock) all the kids outside on 2 different afternoons this past week.  This has been a LLLLOOOOOONNNNNGGGG winter and I am sooooo happy to see spring come!  But we have a fenced backyard, so if I did lock the kids out, which I did NOT, they would have been completely safe!!

I did NOT let my 3yr old get his paci and “kiki” (blanket) and lay on the floor to watch Dora every night last week.  Daddy had to work late and Mama was just tired.  But even then I would NOT let my 3yr old have his paci!!  I mean please, he is 3!!!!  He does NOT even take a paci anymore!!

I did NOT request to have my kids conference by phone rather than in person.  I know that things are hectic and Nate did not have anymore time to take off work, but not going to a conference would be irresponsible, right?  So, that is exactly why I did NOT have the kids conference by phone, and love every minute of it!!!

I make it a habit of only confessing three things per week, so I have reached my limit!!

Newborn Session

I finally got to do my first newborn session!  He was the cutest, sweetest baby ever!!  Oh, and he just happened to be my nephew :)   Here is Brayden . . .


He was so sweet and cooperative!


I love the little grin on his face here . . .




ok, he may hate me for this one day!  I made this hat and just HAD to try it out on him.  Sorry Brayden, but it looks really cute!!!



Believe it or not I am getting ready to do his 2 month photos!!!   Where does time go???  I love this sweet boy!!

Not Me Monday!


 Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

Well, first off, I have NOT missed over a month of Mondays of doing my NOT ME Monday posts! 

I did NOT allow J3 to consume 1/3 a bag of ruffles chips and over 1/2 a container of french onion dip just because it was keeping him quiet.  I am NOT that desperate for a little peace and quiet that I would allow my child to do something so “un-nutritional”!!  I have much better ways of keeping my kids occupied!

In my attempts to return my kids playroom back to a happy and fun place I did NOT paint it the brightest turquoise blue that I could find!  I know I was desperate to totally change the look of the room that my kids had to give up so that it could temporarily become their grandfather’s bedroom while he was under hospice care.  But I would NOT go so overboard that the adjoining bathroom now glows blue, even with the door closed.  And I did NOT buy a polka dot and striped comforter set to go on the bed in that room.  When I revealed the new playroom to my kids they did NOT respond by gasping and covering their eyes.   I would never have picked a color THAT bright!!!

And finally, I did NOT bribe my two oldest children with money to spend at the school store if they would just get dressed quickly in the morning and not fight.  I know I was tired, and their dad had gone into work early leaving me alone to get them on the bus.  But I would NEVER resort to bribery.  I mean, that is just not right.

I have several ideas for posts this week!!  One on parenting, another one about my father-in-law, and one about “what I’ve done right” which will follow up on my Mommy guilt post.  Ideas are NOT my problem, time on the other hand is!!

Praise the God who gives, . . . and takes away Part 2

The ambulance arrived.  They brought Bob inside and got him into the hospital bed.  Bob didn’t like that bed, and actually spend most of his time in the twin bed that was also in the playroom.  I didn’t blame him.  I didn’t like the hospital bed either. 

The next 11 days are a blur of meds, oxygen and dread.  Bob had 2 good days after he came home.  Those were the two days that his family came to visit from TN.  He was up and able to talk and enjoy time with his family.  After that there was a steady decline.  His breathing became more labored.  He didn’t eat.  He would only drink when he took his meds.  And then there was the “terminal restlessness.” 

Ohhh, if I never hear those words again it will be ok.  By the end I felt like I was going to scream at the next person that tried to explain “terminal restlessness” to me one more time.  I told one nurse  “Oh, I’ve seen terminal restlessness.  I’ve lived it for the last 11 days.  There is nothing new that you can tell me about it.”  Terminal restlessness can have several causes and several extremes.  Basically, Bob was not ready to die and he fought it until the end, and he fought hard.  I believe that was the cause of his restlessness. 

So for about 8 days we all dealt with the restlessness which consisted of these things: confusion, agitation, pacing, insomnia, meaningless tasks.  During the worst part Bob was up for 36 hrs, took a short nap and was then up for about 8 more hours.  And by up I mean UP, and walking.  Taking oxygen on and off.  Trying to go outside.  And because he was confused we had to stay with him every second.  No amount of medication would help.  We even questioned if the meds were making it worse.  Physical and emotional exhaustion took over, we were running out of options.

Inpatient hospice.  We didn’t want it.  The nurses mentioned it to us for days and we said no.  We made a commitment to Bob, we would bring him home to die, with his family.  As two firstborns Nate and I don’t like to break a commitment.  In fact we will go to any length to avoid it.  We prayed and begged for another solution.  We prayed that the decision would be taken from us.  And it was.  We reached a point where Bob was suffering, and there was nothing we could do for him.  He deserved to be peaceful and free of pain.  So, there it was, there was no decision.  We do what we have to do.

Again we go through the motions.  Phone calls, insurance, nurse visits, signing papers.  Then, we wait for the ambulance to come for transport.  We had already gone through all these emotions when we left the hospital, but while we were at home it had turned into “work” mode and we were able to ignore the emotions.  But now, we were removing Bob from the house, and I knew he would never come back.  It was hard to hold back the tears.  I felt like I had failed.  I failed my father-in-law, and I failed my husband.  It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

We get to the hospice facility and wait while he is being checked in.  Nate and I were sent to what looked like a cozy library to wait.  We sit huddled up on one end of the couch.  I felt so empty.  This room, it bugged me.  They tried to make it seem so inviting, a warm fire, shelves full of books, dim lighting.  Ugh, it was fake and we knew it.  It made us angry that they thought they could trick us.  The fire was even fake, just an orange light that “danced” on the inside of the fireplace.  I went and stood in front of it.  The sensation was odd.  To my eyes it looked like a fire, that it should be warm.  But as I stood in front of it my legs stayed cold.  Just like the room, cold.  I told Nate,  “I would feel the same inside if this room had concrete walls and bare metal chairs”.  He agreed.  It was one of our lowest points.

Bob received the help he needed.  Within about 24 hrs they were able to get him comfortable.  This was a relief, but short lived.  Nate and I spent almost all of Thursday, and all of Friday until Saturday morning there with Bob.  Those were some rough days, and nights.  There will never be words to describe what happened and how it impacted us.   But, by mid day Saturday things got back under control, and Bob was again as peaceful as we could hope.

Bob passed away on Monday night, Feb. 8, 2010.  Nate and I were with him for his final breath.  In a way there was relief.  Relief that he was at peace.  I knew where he was, and that brought some comfort.  But, the finality of it all was almost impossible to take.  And then, I had to go out to the waiting room to tell J1 and J2 that Grandad was gone.  They wanted to see him, so we let them.   There were two things worse than my own pain.  The pain of my husband, and the pain of my kids.  If I never have to see the look in my kids eyes when they realize that someone they love is gone, it will be too soon.

Honestly, the rest is business.  Packing for 6, sending everyone in separate directions.  Nate and I head to TN the next day to make arrangements.  My parents come the next day to bring J1 and J2 for the service.  The days after are spent cleaning out his room, going through pictures, taking care of details.  We return home on Saturday and spend the entire next week being sick.  Being sick was awful, but in some very needed way it helped us to catch up on some physical rest.  The emotional rest is still in progress.

At the visitation Nate said a few words to the family that was there.  He said that there may be several opinions of who Bobby Arwood was.  But he said that as a father and grandfather, he was flawless.  Flawless.  I agree.  I think Bob would have been honored to hear those words.  As a parent I could only hope to someday have that legacy.  He was a great man, and he was very loved. 

Thank you for reading about the journey that forever changed Nate and I.  I would imagine that losing a parent is one of the hardest things that you can go through, no matter the age.  Nate and I have endured trials over our almost 10 yrs of marriage, but this was one of the hardest.  I plan to write a post soon about Bob, and who he was.  How I will always remember him.  Until then, don’t assume that you have no earthly limits.  Say what needs to be said, love who needs to loved, and be with the ones who are important to you.  Start to finish, Bob’s illness was one day shy of 3 months from diagnosis.  Only 3 wks and 1 day from the time he came to GA, to spend time with his family.  But, we will see him again!  And for that we are very thankful!

Praise the God who gives, . . . and takes away

I’m back!  Over a month of sudden, unexpected chaos, and I am back.  The problem is I don’t know what I am back to.  What is normal?  And do I want to go back to whatever “normal” is?  Well, here is my “reentry” post.  I don’t know if anyone will want to read, but I need to write.  I know this won’t be the usual, light Mommy blog post, but I need to write.  Maybe if I write it here, the thoughts won’t continue to come out in my dreams.  Night after night, the same dreams, with the same endings.  This is part one of our journey.

(I have to give a little background.  My father in law, Bob, was diagnosed with stage IIIb non-small cell lung cancer in Nov. 2009.  He completed 33 radiation treatments, and 2 of 6 chemos.  By Jan he was getting weaker, and we wanted him to move to GA (from TN) where we could be closer to him, and help care for him.  Nate and I left on Jan. 16, 2010 to go get him from TN.  After returning home on the 17th and continuing to observe his condition, we decided that we needed to take him to ER on Monday morning.  He appeared dehydrated, and we were not able to control his pain with the prescriptions meds that he had.) 

Conflict.  That is all I felt for the first week.  Jan. 18th, as we were preparing to take Bob to the ER, I got the call.  My nephew was on the way!!!  I had been anticipating this moment for months, well 9 months to be exact.  The journey to Brayden’s arrival had been long, bumpy, and full of emotion.  And that was for me!  I can’t even begin to imagine how it was for his parents.  But, that was over now and Brayden was on his way, and I was thrilled!  Rushed phone calls, plans were made, and we were on our way.  I was off to welcome the family’s newest and long awaited addition.  In the back of my mind I was planning out how the ER visit for Bob would go.  I’m like that – I plan.  

 15 hrs. 

I went back and forth.  Labor and Deliver:  smiles, excitement, anticipation. 

ER:  concern, updates, test results, dread. 

Brayden was here! and he was perfect.  Mom was doing great, family was excited. 

 Bob was admitted, to telemetry unit no less.  His cardiac labs were “strange”.  A curve we didn’t see coming.

And so began a 5 day journey in the hospital.  Nate and I spend countless hours in room 275.  That and the hallway window seat.  We saw 4 doctors a day, sometimes more than once a day.  CT results: BAD.  Chest tube in place, pus draining.  Consult with a surgeon:  surgery was needed, but not sure if it was an option.  Cardio: his heart is weak, multiple past heart attacks.  Whoa. . .  what?  Cardio will not treat due to his “other” disease and it’s advanced state.  Oncology: we can’t continue with current treatment plan due to infection.  Pulmonology:  all we can do is drain infection, surgery is ONLY option.  Surgeon (final report):  surgery is NOT an option.  He will not survive surgery.  But wait, . . . they just said he won’t survive WITHOUT surgery!?!?

So there is was.  My beautiful, perfect nephew was here.  Such a gift.  And my father in law was dying.  Such a loss.

In between speaking with doctors, over and over and over again, and desperately trying to come up with a new approach, a new option, a different answer, I visited my new nephew.  So tiny, so new.  I held him and rocked him as his mom slept.  I touched his tiny hand and looked out the window to hide my tears.  This was so unfair.  How can one life begin, and another just . . . end.  Why now?  Why God, did you finally bless my sister and brother in law with this sweet life, only to take another?  The emotions were strong and tears came easy.  And I just rock, rock and rub that tiny hand.

But then, the visit was over.  Time to get on the elevator and put on a different face.  When the doors open on the second floor I have to be strong again.  Talk with doctors.  Support my husband.  Help make decisions.  Bad ones.  Where no one wins.

Thursday came, and Brayden went home with his mom and dad.  We stayed.  In that small room.  We sit in the hallway window seat.  There happens to be a box of tissue there.  Probably left behind by another family dealing with the same unreal decisions that we are facing.  It’s time to go home.

Friday comes with dread.  We have a power of attorney signed.  That was hard.  Then the attorney comes to have the will signed.  I barely could hold it together.  Bob is coming home, to die.  I feel numb as I make the same plans that I have made before, for other patients.  Except this time I was the one with the pain.  Speak with hospice.  Arrange for transport.  Discharge papers signed.  Prescriptions given.  One was for a cholesterol med.  Really??  He needs to take something for high cholesterol?  The hospice nurse said don’t bother having it filled.  Hmmm.  Have my dad clean out the playroom.  The hospital bed was being delivered.  Oh, and have dad go buy a coffeepot so I can make coffee for the people visiting.  Cream and sugar too.  The individual packets of sugar if you can find them.  Is this really happening?

I sit on the hard hospital bed in what was once my kids playroom.  The admitting hospice nurse is asking strange questions.  Does Bob have a history of any medical problems?  Uh, you mean other than the ones he is dying from?  I think he has had indigestion before, does that count?  I can’t concentrate, and I am not being very patient.  I am looking out the window waiting for the ambulance.  She is explaining the medications.  Whatever, I know what to do.  Just let me sign the papers so she will leave.  The ambulance is here . . .

Conflict.  The joy for what God has given, and the pain for what He will take away.

Photo of the Week!!

I’ll try to make this a little lighter since my brother told me that my last post was too gloomy.  It was supposed to be funny, in a way that only mom’s would understand.  Of course I’m not exactly known for my humor, so I guess I didn’t come across the way I meant to!!

Anyway, on to the Photo of the Week . . .

spiderman J


Sweet J1!!!  He used to LOVE spiderman!  He still does, but when he was younger he REALLY loved him!  This was back when I was learning to use photoshop and played with any picture I could find.  This is one of his favorites!

And I have noticed that I haven’t used many of J2 in the Photo of the Week posts, so I am including this one of her.

jessi 15

This was from 2007 during a trip to Gatlinburg.  She is so beautiful!!!!  She worked for a long time stirring the water with her stick!


Guilt vs. Mommy Guilt

guilt – the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously b : feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy

Mommy guilt – the intense, overwhelming feeling of saying or doing the wrong thing, no matter how well meaning your intentions are, that result  in somehow forever screwing up your child’s sense of safety, importance, and well being.

I remember once at a baby shower being handed a white 3×5 index card and being asked to write a tidbit of advice for the excited mom to be.  *Sigh*  My first “tidbit” would be that you will learn it really is possible to take a 5 minute shower.  My next “tidbit”?  As a mom you will learn the TRUE meaning of the word guilt.  Fun, huh?

Example : The cold December wind was blowing as I waited on the driveway for my first born son to get home on the bus.  I was already exhausted because I had been caring for a 12 week old apnea infant (who I couldn’t leave in the room alone in case he “forgot” to breath) while trying to tame my 22 month old who recently discovered he could climb on top of the kitchen table and then jump to the kitchen counter top.  My mother in law was over helping that day because I had felt that I was completely capable of preparing and hosting a Christmas dinner for my husband’s family along with caring for my 4 kiddos.  Of course I hadn’t planned on the fact that both J1 and J2 would have Christmas parties that Friday, at the SAME time.  I had it all planned out – if I was up by 6:30 (after nursing and “stimulating” a 12wk old to breath during the night) and got the kids on the bus, I could clean until 9, then get dressed, cook until 1, and be at J2′s party by 1:30.  I had attended J1′s party when he was in preschool, so it was only fair that I be at J2′s party now, right??? 

So, there I was, waiting on the bus that afternoon.  I was actually feeling quite good about myself.  The dinner for that night was almost ready.  Table was set.  Presents wrapped.  J3 was down for a nap.  J2 was happily going through her goodie bag from the Christmas party and I was dressed in a matching outfit with my black boots (my dress up shoes).   I saw the bus approaching and I was filled with excitement about the Christmas holidays that officially began when the bus dropped J1 off. 

The bus came to a stop.  I can see it in his face when he is crossing the street.  Disgust.  Anger.  Betrayal.  “MOM!!!!, why didn’t you come to my Christmas party??  ALL the parents were there!!!!!!!!  I had to eat my snack ALL by myself because I was the ONLY one who DIDN’T have a parent there!!! 

HUH????? I was the only parent not there? (probably not, but in his mind I was).  My heart broke.  My dreams of a happy Christmas season crushed.  I felt like a failure.  I had let my son down.  Why didn’t I try to be in two places at once?  What kind of a mom was I???

Mommy guilt  –  the overwhelming feeling of somehow screwing up you child’s sense of importance.  Yea, that was me.  I had somehow made J1 feel like he wasn’t as important as J2 because I went to her party, and not his.  Guess this would go against my Mom of the Year nomination, huh?

I NEVER could have imagined the feelings that go along with being a mother.  The love, the desire to protect, the sense of being needed and wanted.  Wow, the feelings were way more powerful than I could have ever imagined.  But then, mixed in with those feelings, was the guilt.  What if I fail?  What if I discipline my child for something and it was really no big deal and he feels unloved?  What if I don’t have enough patience and my child feels betrayed?  What if I TOTALLY screw up this gift God has given me?  You know, the gift of being blessed with the privilege of raising these 4 beautiful humans??

Please say that you detect my humor in this post!!!  I completely understand my responsibility in raising children, but I am human and also understand my limitations.  Do I feel guilt as a parent?  YES!!  Everyday I question my decisions, and my actions.  Every day I am convinced that I have somehow made a decision that will forever change who my children are, or could have been.  I lay in bed at night and think, “I should have given J1 another hug today”, or “I should have used a nicer tone when I told J3 to get off the kitchen counter for the 14th time today”, or “Maybe I should have been more understanding when J2 used her nail polish to paint the furniture in her room”. 

As parents we are given this huge gift.  A life.  A sweet, innocent life.  And we are left to form, teach, mold, and discipline this life.  What was God thinking???  I’m not capable of doing that!!  Not for one, and much less for FOUR!!!  I don’t want to be solely responsible for messing up another human being?!?!  What if I ruin them?  What if I have to use their college fund for therapy instead?

As you can see, Mommy guilt is pretty strong!!!  Anyway, as far as the advice?  I decided to go with the 5 minute shower tidbit. 

And so I  pray. . . God give me wisdom and grace and patience and love to raise these sweet, beautiful, creations that you have trusted in my care.

And did I mention that 10 minutes after J1 got home that December day he was playing with J2 as they went through their goodie bags?  He never mentioned the Christmas party again.  I, however, will carry the failure with me forever.