Some days a do-over would be nice. Earlier this week that was most definitely my sentiments…

This has been one of those days I have wanted a do-over. No it’s not been the worst day of my life nor has it been the best. It is was a day packed with potential but sadly fell far from grace.

In addition to the cleaning, cooking and falling behind, I scolded, put in time out and accepted the words “momma I don’t like you”. But what I didn’t want to accept was this sinking feeling with each scolding that I knew there had to be another better way to reach the kids.

Sometimes it just is what it is. Other times you want to shout “this is not who I am or want to be”. I even shared that little not so secret with my.eldest nephew but it fell on deaf ears. For the umpteenth time in months I scolded him for peeling paint off the wall in his bedroom. I have yet to fix the spot because why bother since he is going to do it again.

So I scolded and asked him why he feels the need to peel the paint. When I received no answer I just asked him to admit that he did it since I walked in on him peeling the paint. All I got was a blank stair and the question “I did that?”.

I wanted to scream and it was only 9am. Sadly that set the tone for the day. I tried to reboot time and time again but found myself scolding, punishing and on the edge of a scream most of the day.

While it might feel like a big loss I do remember the moments I complimented and thanked. The happy moments of singing the ABC song and hugs were also good.

The happy moments often seem over shadowed by the feeling that I could have handled things better or another way. Not to mention the feelings of being out of my depth.

My eldest nephew seems determined to get all the munchkins in my life to come to terms with me not being their mom. He finds the oddest moments to add in “no that not momma that aunt” or other such phrases. While I am not the biological mother of any of them I have had a hand in raising each of them. Aunt seems such an understatement or soft word to use but mom I am not. So he is not wrong but every time he points that out to the other munchkins I feel more like I don’t know what I am and therefore what my role should even be. Today he not only pointed it out but got his brother to question why they are here so much especially if I am “only” their aunt.

The day started early and wore me thing. By dinner I was done. I did muster up some smiles and happiness before bedtime for the munchkins. Story time was as it usually is: a mixed bag. My youngest nephew was upset when story time was over saying, “I don’t like you but I love you”, before he turned over and promptly fell asleep.

No it wasn’t all bad but I definitely wouldn’t put it in the win column. A do-over with an extra padding of sleep would be nice. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Today I say enough!

This is one of those times where I created the picture long before the post. Sometime this past fall I had gone through all of the photos from this summer that I had taken as well as ones Rent-a-Dad had. In the process I created a file for our blog with photos I could use for posts or ones that I felt would be good with a quote or something inspirational.

When I pulled this photo off of Rent-a-Dad’s phone and really looked at it I had this sense of calm come over me. The photo captured one of those rare moments from that trip where it felt like everything was just perfect. So much bad and truly weird stuff had happened on our trip to the beach last summer but so much really nifty and awesome moments also happened.

In the end this picture defined for me something that took me a long time to realize: I am enough.

In this photo I was captured showing my nephew how much fun the ocean could be. I shared my love of the water. The photo reminded me of the moments racing into the water giggling and chasing the waves as they in turn chased us. In those moments at the beach it didn’t matter what my age was, what my body looked like or anything else. My nephew just knows we had so much fun that day and that is what mattered. Not once did he tell me I wasn’t pretty or that I shouldn’t wear that bathing suit, cover-up or hat or even how my hair could have been done differently. No, for him I was enough that day. So why couldn’t I be enough for myself?

I am the baby of my generation both with my extended and immediate family. Therefore I know what it is like to be constantly compared (by others) to a sibling, a cousin, a classmate, and my peers. How those comparisons at times led to feelings of inadequacy and eventually led to my over comparing myself to everyone around me. A companion to those feelings was this constant sensation of waiting for something.

When you are constantly compared to those around you, time can sometimes feel like your biggest enemy. Either you have too much or too little of it. In my case the pendulum has swung both ways over the years.

Looking back at my youth I spent a good amount of time being told I had to wait until I was older to accomplish certain tasks. I was once told by a family friend that adolescence was both a blessing and a curse; that I would have to bide my time; and that I would understand more as I grew up. While my waiting to be enough started with comparisons and developing feelings of inadequacies, my true waiting (for everything to fall into place) began with that advice. I was waiting to be grown up enough to understand.

Over the years the waiting to be enough went from waiting to pay off student loans or taking care of ailing family members to finding a good home, the right job and being able to start a family. For each accomplishment I wanted to achieve, each moment of “enough”, there was always this event or period of waiting that needed to take place first.

In all of that time spent waiting I have often felt like my “real” life was on hold. Once we get the house and pay off the student loans we can start a family; once I get my parents figured out I will have more time for myself or my marriage; and so on.

Loosing my dad reminded me that we can’t just wait for things to happen and that the stuff we do while we wait is the biggest part of living we can do.

In the past twelve years I have been the Executive Director of a non-profit; a free-lance and ghost writer; I have checked off at least eight things from my own “bucket list” not to mention the items I have helped others check off their own lists; I have become a parent/foster parent; and I have lived! For all of that, and more, I am enough!

I don’t need a reminder of the things I have yet to do, or things I may never do, what I have done is enough for this moment! I may not have any traditional family photos like I see plastered all over Facebook, but what I do have is true to who I am and what my family has become!

So while I have spent most of my life waiting to fit in, grow into myself, and many other things… I finally stood up and said “I am enough”. Whenever I have doubts about anything all I have to do is look at this photo and I am calm. This photo reminds me I am enough.

Sometimes a person feels that way from birth. Other times it can take a person a lifetime to find that feeling. I am glad I did not waste that much time.

In truth: WE ARE ALL ENOUGH. We should never let comparisons tell us differently. If it isn’t fair to compare ourselves to who we were yesterday than why would it be any fairer to compare who we are to who someone else is? Stop with the comparisons that create feelings of inadequacies! Stand up today and say “I am enough!”

Pummeled with Problems

pummeled

While change is always inevitable most changes in our lives involve things that we have some kind of control over such as a job or the type of house we live in. There are other forms of change that we never have the control over like natural disasters and the need to repair things. This summer has been one large bag of unexpected change for our family. Or as I have been referring to it… This is the summer I keep getting pummeled with problems.

The number of problems we have been hit with in the past three months has been so ridiculous. Rent-a-Dad has even asked me “Who did you piss off bad enough to get them to have a gypsy curse put on you?” If I seriously made this post a list of the problems either you would laugh or think like Rent-a-Dad.

When problems begin to pile up it is very hard to stay positive but I try. I always ask the question “What is the silver lining?” Sometimes there are easy to spot and other times not so much.

Honestly, there isn’t always a silver lining. When that is the case then the best thing to do is try to get through the problem at hand. Survive the best you can and put it behind you as quickly as possible.

The mother of a former foster child recently asked me how I can look so cool and calm under pressure. I told her the truth. It is part surviving past problems and part faking it. There is never an easy clear cut answer to each problem.

The best advice I can ever give any one is list it all out. Make pros and cons lists for solutions to your problems. Once you decide on a solution then make a detailed plan on how you will achieve success. Try to tackle one problem at a time even when there is a long list.

If it is a problem you can’t solve with pro/con lists or detailed plans then do something that will take your mind off of the problem while it resolves itself. An example of what I am talking about is something like a loved one needing an operation. You can make pros and cons for the procedure but once the procedure is taking place all you can do is wait. For me waiting drives me crazy. I am not a patient person. If I am waiting alone I bring a book, a craft project or event watch a video on my phone. Have I mentioned lately how much I love youtube?

A big part of me surviving any problem is solution finding and positive thinking. It is easier to do either of those when you have a friend, family member or partner who will sit down with you and help strategize or look for the silver lining. At all costs avoid others that are negative thinkers. Friends who like to play devils advocate are also not the best people to talk to when life keeps pummeling you with problems.

With fall officially starting on September 22 there are only fifteen days left before summer is over. While I hope that means no new big problems will come our way the remainder of the year, realistically I am always waiting for more shoes to drop. As we wait, we will still search for solutions, think positively and tackle on problem at a time so the mountain doesn’t feel as insurmountable.

For months Branden and I have been trying to get our blog off the ground with basic designs and meaningful text in between raising several children. The truth of that is if we wait for the “perfect” time to launch our site it will never happen. Life is the stuff that happens in between the blank moments so to be true to our page we just need to take the big jump and launch! Otherwise we won’t really be true to the title of our site 😉

Late September 2014, Branden and I were doing yard work (we live in the south so mowing the yard lasts through October most years) and decided to be silly. We took pictures of us doing our yard and enjoying some homemade lemonade which is honestly our favorite yard working drink because it keeps us hydrated and feels just divine at the end of a particularly hot and trying day. On that particular day we decided our first post should be a little tongue in cheek- sharing my favorite lemonade recipe as well as my back up recipes for when life has us juggling a few dozen lemons and there is no time for 100% homemade. So without further ado, here is my most favorite way to make lemonade (when time allows) as well as a few of other options that work well for our busy life.

Ingredients

Ingredients:
1 to 1 ½ cups white sugar
8 cups water
1 ½ cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (takes 9 to 12 small lemons)

Other Items You Will Need:
Cutting board
Pairing knife (or a small knife with a sharp blade)
Bowl to collect juice in
Small strainer
Small pan to cook the water and sugar in
Funnel
Container to store the juice in

Directions:
1. Wash and dry the lemons. To get the most juice from each lemon roll them back and forth on a cutting board. Halve one lemon to start with and taste the juice. If the juice from the lemon is bitter then use 1 ½ cups of sugar but if the lemon is slightly sweet then only 1 cup of sugar will be needed.*
2. Before you squeeze the lemons, in a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Set the stove temperature to a medium heat and wait for it to start to boil. You may need to stir several times to make sure the sugar is dissolving properly. Once all the sugar is dissolved you will want to pull it from the heat and add the lemon juice.
3. While you are waiting for the sugar to dissolve begin to juice the lemons. If you do not have a juicer do not fret. Halve about 9 to 12 lemons (if you cook frequently with lemons set aside the rinds**). Hold half a lemon and take a pairing knife to cut the fruit just at the edge near the rind.  Then squeeze your lemon halves over the strainer into the bowl to collect the juice. If you do not have a strainer then just squeeze over the bowl and scoop out the seeds when you are done. You can choose to either leave in the lemon pulp or remove it. I prefer to have some of the lemon pulp so I leave it in.
4. Now that your sugar is dissolved and you have enough juice (with or without pulp) you can add it to your now cooling sugar water (syrup). You can cover the syrup and chill or begin to make your lemonade and chill once it is made. Generally I like adding the lemon syrup to the remaining 7 cups of water in my jug then chill for several hours or serve over ice.

* Keep in mind I like a good balance between bitter and sweet. A cup of lemonade that is too sweet is not very good on a hot day and my favorite time to have a nice cold glass of lemonade is on a hot day right after mowing the lawn. After many years of trying various drinks from water to Gatorade we found that lemonade on a hot day really quenched our thirst the best. Some actually believe that vitamin C is linked to staying hydrated.

If you care for more information on foods that help with hydration you can talk with your local herbalist or visit sites like:
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/15-foods-stay-hydrated/story?id=19457119

** Now that your lemonade is made and chilling you can get back to the rinds you set to the side. I am a penny pincher so I try to find ways to make the best out of the ingredients I have. Usually I just grate my lemon rinds and then freeze the gratings as I use grated lemon peel in baking and cooking.

When we are in a time crunch, which tends to be quite often, I have three other tried and true ways to quench our thirst for lemonade.

Picture F
1) For a quick pitcher of lemonade, Country Time really is the best but I don’t always have a reason to make up an entire pitcher. So my most used method of making lemonade is by the glass or more appropriately by the 16 oz. bottle. I like using Wyler’s Lemonade packets. Normally I pick up a box of 10 packets for $1 from my local Wal Mart. I typically make up a bottle of lemonade right before Branden and I go out to mow the lawn. I don’t always refrigerate the bottle because room temperature drinks tend to quench thirst better on a hot day. If the drink is too cold then we end up with an upset stomach.

2) There are times when I use store bought lemon juice instead of fresh lemons. I find that not only is store bought lemon juice expensive, it is also more bitter then fresh lemons. The reason is that store bought lemon juice is generally concentrated. You can follow the recipe above but use 1 ½ cups of sugar (or more if you like it sweeter). I also find you don’t necessarily need to make the lemon syrup. You can just use one cup of really hot water to dissolve the sugar. Instead of 1 ½ cups of lemon juice you may only need to use 3 tablespoons so I suggest tasting the lemon juice first to see how strong it is. If it isn’t very strong what I would do is add the 3 tablespoons and the 7 cups of water. Then taste it, if you want a stronger tasting lemonade then add more juice.

3) My third recommendation is True Lemon. A couple of years ago our local supermarket stopped carrying our favorite lemonade drink packets so we went in search of other alternatives. During that time of trial and error we found True Lemon which is crystallized lemon. I found that by using two packets of True Lemon and a teaspoon of sugar I could make a nice glass of lemonade or in our case one 16 oz. bottle.