Thumbs up


All the kid things lead to life metaphors. My existential life crisis/break-throughs are totally illustrated by kid day-to-day life. Today I remembered a good one. 

L and H are fabulous playmates. Lucky little sisters, to have each other on this journey. I can relate. Alex and me also wore matching outfits and were rarely lonely. AND sometimes you need some space. 

Take today at the Frog Pond; sister squabble (mild level). L says “H lost my rock and she is mad at me.” She points to H pouting far away. We discussed if it was worth a reconcile or should she take space. L (wise wise wise) said space is a good idea. I encouraged L to practice some friend making with others. There were some cute sisters (albeit) in rainbow suits #adorbs, near by. We practiced how to introduce ourselves and ask to play. 

“I like your rainbow suit, I am L, can I play with you.” 

A few rehearsals and she was ready. Nervous but so brave. I watched from the distance. She did just that. The rainbow suits girls were so friendly, L sat right down. She shot me a behind-the-back thumbs up. I died. 

Actually, I lived. 

Sometimes breaking from the familiar gives space to being brave, to be you and enter a new circle of fun. 

H came along a little while after, she wanted to be part of the new. L, that graceful spirit, welcomed her right on in. 

#pinapplesuits #rainbowsuits #whoistheteachertoday

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Coffee, blah blah, blah, wine

Last week someone shared with me the best description of my days. See below. 

The days go by so fast. 

Most days I remember the coffee. Mostly because the smell wakes me up in the morning. (It’s literally like the folgers commercials.) And I am also so desperate for the caffeine to help me get the day rolling. I appreciate the time around the coffee. Waking up the kids is my job (most days) and I love it! I have fond memories of my Grandma waking me up. Lots of snoozing and lots sweet snuggles (and also some “this is the last time I am coming in here’s”). I am good at mornings. I love waking them up and hopefully being greeted with sweet smiles (not always). I make “special lunches” and we pray for the day and we remind each other to be brave, stand up for others, lead with kindness, include someone who isn’t like you. I love the mornings. I love sipping coffee (my second cup) while driving to work and listening to NPR and putting on my makeup. 

Then my very close next favorite is that glass of wine to toast the day. Now, truth be told it’s not everynight but there is something every night to memorialize that we have made it through another day. But most nights there is wine. I get to pet the pups, sit with Megan and put on my pjs. 

Now. In between all that most days is a circus. A crazy crazy, unpredictable, uncontrollable circus. So, 

Blah, blah, blah…

It’s really the perfect narrative. There are highs and lows. And recently it feels like I am treading water in the middle of the ocean on fire. No bueno. 

I drank my glass with dinner tonight. And then we colored and discussed racism and segregation. We talked about bullies at school and the dreams of little girls being big girl bosses. We talked about the most important part of leadership is thinking of everyone else besides you, first. It was so important. I let them use my best retractable sharpies. We listened to fleetwood mac, and we did not change it to juju on the beat. 


We stayed up past kid bedtime. I let the older one manipulate me into heating up her heating pad for the second time. 

I chose to break some rules and norms because you don’t know how long you will get to love the people in front of you. It might be worth changing up the routine from time to time. 

Also, bad news. It’s Wednesday and we are all out wine. 

With that,

May the peace of God that passes all understanding guard my heart and lead me to tomorrows coffee. Amen. 

I am better at “last minute”

A procrastinators famous words. In college I was convinced that if I waited until the night before something was due to do it, I would have no choice but to focus and get it done (thus my absolute best…probs not). In this life that has remained a mantra. 

In contrast, trying to plan ahead and be very rigid about how things will go hasn’t served me either. Most of my disappointment is connected to “plans”.

Authentic, natural occurrences are my cup of tea now. For me that is the middle. That is how play dates, turn to dinners, turn to sleepovers, turn to brunch #ourweekendswithourneighbors 

But then there are big days. Christmas, birthdays…like on the calendar, no denying it. I have some trauma symptoms from last year when I planned an Easter party for the kiddos. Remember our 3 sweet Mexican babies. (Of course you do!) Not a day goes by we don’t think about them. I sent our evites for egg decorating, bought supplies, made party bags. This was a BIG deal for H, M, and K; they were not as trusting or outgoing as L and H are. I am pretty sure it was 2 days before that party that they were moved from our house (sorry, not directly from our house but from school in the middle of the day; without a goodbye…still got some feelings there). 

L turns 7 today. We had  birthday toast


And curly hair and a new skirt. 

We will go to brunch Sunday (reservations made Monday). Wedo brunch most sundays, so this is low risk (except that this brunch is at the St. Regis…nbd princess status). And some casual play at the park with friends. And cupcakes. This baby would eat her weight in cake (after my own heart). 

So we are moving into this Day and the weekend “plans” with apprehension and excitement. And in my last minute style, I still plan to see some mermaid skirts 😜😬

Happy Birthday L, the world is better because you were born. Brilliant, kind, sweet, a lover of playing until the sun goes down, candy until your teeth fall out, and “hanging out”. Bless you all of your days. 


(Note: no identifiable pictures are allowed, this was so blurry already AND that skirt….adorbs)

It’s still yesterday

kairos

The sun isn’t up yet so this is technically the eve of my birthday (we are using my definition of technically). The kids are still asleep. For 3 more minutes.

I wanted to share that on the eve of my birthday this day sure has some potential. Today (tomorrow) the children have a court hearing. They may be returning home. Last go around we did not have this heads up and therefore struggled with how to share when the children were moved so abruptly.

It will be an interesting day. Before we put the kids to bed we played a round of uno, “hung out” (the 6yr olds newest phrase), and ate dessert. And when I hugged their little necks goodnight I paused and reflected on the gift of Kairos time (Gods time) that I was experiencing.

The chromos time of my life is a shit show. But thank God for the moments that where I am fully present and able to hold as a gift.

We are at “peace” about whatever happens. I want to delete that line but for effect it can stay. There is very little to be at peace about this week (silence fills this space perfectly). But we are mostly neutral.

Love hard, whatcha got while God let’s you have it.

Happy birthday to me and unbirthday to you. I will try to remember to breathe today.

Tough Conversations (Pt 1 of a million)

News: I am an official grown up. I am in a book club. I write a lot, I talk even more but being still enough to read is HARD for me. I am a picky reader too. The book must have a strong female character that I can connect to or I won’t make it past page 10.

carry-on-warrior-9781451698220_hr

I read in the church bulletin that the Epiphany Parents were having a Women’s Book Club to read “Carry On Warrior” by Glennon Melton. I have really wanted to read this book but I hardly have time to shave my legs and am mostly too tired to read at the end of the day. But a book club was the motivation I needed. An invitation to drink a little wine and socialize with other grown ups is normally all I need for motivation. So I bought the book and read 27 pages (yesterday) so I could hang out today! Then I got there and remembered this is not a light book. I mean I knew about Glennon and momastery.com for some time, so the depth of sharing was no surprise and exactly what I needed.

And in most places and spaces in my life there is deep conversation.

Is that normal? Or is that a therapist/woman/over analyzer thing?

This post is a LOOONG time coming. I have had a lot of very intense conversations recently. I had taken a hiatus for a few months. Mostly because I was not interested in the work it takes to be deep. I found myself feeling disconnected and disengaged. So off I went to begin reconciliation  with friends, family, colleagues. It seems that where people are plagued with small talk I am turning every corner and digging deep with someone else. This truly is an honor and sometimes exhausting. Being trusted and relied on and really given the opportunity to be real and ask answer hard questions is a gift.

There was a hard conversation with a good friend who’d I lost touch with. It really was over nothing big, but small things piled up and unprocessed can lead to hurt feelings. It was a scary moment to make that call. And with a deep breath I word vomited about my hurt feelings and where I was afraid I had hurt back. Having hard conversations with me generally includes ALOT of verbal processing. So its quite the dance. Anyone who can stay in it with me deserves a reward. I have 2 MO’s: 1. Fix it and fuggetaboutit 2. Process, process, reflect, validate, reframe (aka all the therapizing). This conversation was more of a 2. I don’t think I solved all the problems of the world but I think I made a dent in disconnect. I was honest and real; so was she.

I think conflict is what demonstrates a strength of a relationship. I am not promoting adversary but honest breakdowns can lead to breakthroughs. I told this friend she was worth the call and there was no intent to blame or shame but just to clear the air. There was the hint of grownup I was talking about. NO ONE  has to be “wrong” we can just both know there are things we can do better next time around the circle. The real apology is to say “sorry I didn’t call sooner.”

This book, this book is really prompting me to self-reflect. Being real. Matching my outsides to my insides. In that, I have a lot of work to do.

I will continue to process the “tough conversations” to make sense of them. There are still more to come.

Foster parent update: The kids are alright. They have their first soccer game on Saturday. Meg and I are the team “soccer moms” (I swear our life should be a reality TV show). Bio mom will be there. I will bring treats for after the game and mimosas in a flask for during. Bless my own heart as I always seem to put us in weird situations and see how we function. Mostly, bless Megs heart. She is so kind and genuine; she holds my hand while I slam the gas of this roller coaster. Tonight someone told me they were considering fostering. I really have to work on my answer. It was something like this:

“The system sucks, prepare to have your heart broken. You have kids? Thats good because you have the kid stuff already. Its hard. Way harder than I thought, but parenting is hard. Its temporary, prepare to have kids ripped from you with no notice. Its so important and kids deserve safe and loving homes.”

Lets review, there was no question asked to me. I blame the vulnerable prompt by Glennon. 

So yea, maybe tomorrow someone will just talk to me about the weather.

 

How do you say three in Canadian?

Facebook posts, twitter tweets….heck, dissertations feel limiting when I want to word vomit my feelings for Megan.

I wanted to simply post a yay, we are Canadian married for 3 years today! But then I started thinking about the 3 years and the 7 before that and I got anxious with feeling I would have to be brief. And then I remembered I have a blog. Normally about kids, smothered in my own thoughts and feelings….I do what I want.

I remember 3 years ago when DOMA was overturned. Megan and I had been together for 7 years already. Committed, covenant for 7 years. So when we were able to legally wed (although still in another country…America was still not that down with basic civil rights) we looked at each other and were like yea, lets do it! Seemed perfectly casual to get hitched  on our already planned visit to Megan motherland only 1 month later. We downplayed because we wanted to have a ceremony (read: party) in November where all our family and friends could attend. But how can you downplay marriage? The sanctity of matrimony and fidelity are very important values to my life. Commitment, promise, and genuine dedication for the rest of our lives means more to me than any other earthly thing. We made our public declaration of love and promise at City Hall in Ontario on August 7, 2013. There are few pictures and no video; only the strong and vivid memories etched on my heart.

IMG_8240 2

This year is special. It marks 3 years of marriage. 3 is one of my favorite numbers, there is so much symbolism in the number 3. One of my favorite verses in the bible; one I referred to often in reflection of solid friendship is fitting for the celebration of where we are in life today:

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work. 10 If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can stay warm. But how can anyone stay warm alone? 12 Also, one can be overpowered, but two together can put up resistance. A three cord strand is not quickly broken. 
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I feel so loved, so encouraged, so honored to be in love with my best friend who holds my hand to face tough days, double joy, and seek God’s use of our lives.

Happy (c)Anniversary Megan Sarah Fraijo-Paul.

Pausing the Pendulum Swing

pendulum

On the eve of this first day of school, I pause to reflect. I think it was Maggie Tucker who taught me the metaphor of “life as a pendulum” it was ground breaking to me when I was all of 23. The concept that life swings from highs to lows. I began to use this metaphor in my practice although as I have matured and evolved the metaphor has taken different shapes. For a long time I focused for myself and with my clients about the highs and the lows, talk about BPD tendencies. Yikes. But in reality its easy to reflect on highs and lows. But its not as easy to reflect on the middle ground. I can easily talk my family highs and lows; those seem to engage and entertain but for a moment the middle.

I am totally prone to moving through the middle part of all life situations fairly quickly. Often dragging Megan along. She isn’t slow, she is just thoughtful in her moments of reflection. I would rather avoid the uncomfortable for too long pull up my boots straps and get to the solution. (not avoiding uncomfort altogether of course, I am a therapist)

We are doing good. Not particularily spectacular and on the mend from our broken hearts. We are chug chug chugging. There are funny moments, sad moments, happy moments, exhausted moments….all kinds of moments. The girls are normal girls. They are sweet and sassy (like sour patch kids), they bicker and are quickly best friends (like me and my sissy), they are funny, smart, and working on their manners. Then there are moments where we are reminded this is just temporary and their life is traumatic, just because they don’t live with their mama. Tonight, is one of those night where I pause to recognize this journey we are on and feel some tug of pressure to figure out the story. We are going to be faced with a new school, new teachers, new friends, new friends parents. Choosing to warn or not that is just temporary. I am slower this time, slower to build that village for these babies. Because our village is still in the middle and its hard to make relationship and say goodbye (or not get to say goodbye).

Whew, this was not meant to be mellow dramatic, I don’t think the middle has to be sad or sappy.

Just reflective.

Tonight there was a neighborhood block party (we have the BEST neighborhood) and the girls were having a blast, eating all kinds of pizza and popsicles. I want to freeze those moments. I don’t think that is some ultimate high. I think that is a picture of the middle. Everyday life with community around us. Shooting the shit about our rapper neighbor (who we all hope makes it big) and complaining about the humidity.

 

 

Night time logic

  
What is it that Eli said tonight? The faster the sugar rush, the harder the crash?? Wise child that Brush boy. 

Today, like most days in this foster parenting world (and/or human-being-ness) has highs and lows. 

One minute we are “shaking it off,” out loud singing, and laughing; the next we are weeping over the purple pajamas. “But I wanted the ooootttthhhheeeerrrr pajamas!” “My mom lets me wear whatever pjs I want” “I haaaatttttttee these pjs” “I missssss my mommmmmmmmmy” 

“Those pjs are in the washer” in my most logical voice. 

Logic clocked out at around 5pm today. It was like its the weekend, deuces. 

I am T I R E D. I have given all damns I have in the artillery this week. And sadly most of those damns were wasted on annoying adults. 

Why the drama? Surely, it’s just tired kids. Well a little extra fun today. Girls missed their fun-exciting field trip to the movies with summer camp to visit mom. Thanks DFCS, great timing (said no one ever, never, ever). 

It’s fun. The honeymoon of new placements ends pretty fast post a visit. No matter how cheery and sing songy we are in the best “pro mom” language we can be, it’s clear we suck. When in fact: we don’t suck. 

All the babies miss their mamas. Duh.  

Here’s the last amount of logic left in me. It doesn’t have to be an us vs. her. We can all be on the side of the children. 

And you know what else? Wine. And chocolate. Wine and chocolate don’t ask questions and they are full of logic.  

 

Getting back on the horse that bucked you

horse

There is no way I can explain everything in one post. Nor, do I think I have done enough of my own processing to get too deep about the magnitude of all that has happened.

I will start right where we are. We welcomed 2 new little children into our home this week. They are 6 and 7 year old sisters. These girls look so much alike that I could easily mistake them for one another. They are sweet and friendly and love the dogs.

Lets give a sentence or two about the elephant in the room. What about the other babies? My writing went silent in March of this year. Of course, it is easy for people to make some assumptions: we got too busy, nothing exciting to write about, I lost interest in blogging, but the gut wrenching assumption—one I assume most people have resolved is that they are no longer in our home. Its still very difficult to write these sentences, almost 3 months later. I have asked myself what is the narrative here? What can I share and can I share; those are two different columns.

Some parts that make sharing challenging is when I recall the innocent but awful questions we received from folks before we started this whole thing: “BUT wont it be so hard when they have to leave?” Our answer, with a smile was of course it will be, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. And we really couldn’t predict how our hearts would handle this, what feels like a giant loss. Welp, now we know and it’s probably the most mentally challenging thing I have ever had to face. I think having kids and then watching them go stirs up a nice big pot of let-downs. I know the narrative of all that occurred March 15, 2016 will be transcribed at some point, a little at a time. For now some lessons learned:

  1. We have NO CONTROL over the system of care for children.
  2. Clear logic and “what is right” is all relative.
  3. We are strong together and the community that surrounds us is the most supportive.

We miss those babies. To answer the question of “Won’t it be hard when they have to leave?” Harder than ever imagined. No need to reframe or rewrite the narrative. These few months have been sad; we were heart-broken.

Just because its hard, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Serving others, giving what we can to those who need is something we can and will do. I can’t predict how sustainable foster parenting is for us. While we can, we will.

We can’t wait to “share” as our adventures with these little ones unfold. They too, are so deserving of love, community, and a safe place to be kids. I hope, I know our hearts are willing to do just that.