Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday Sound*Off!

Well, it has been a busy summer. And not one without moments that I thought to myself, "I need to blog that!"

I have been working very hard on my children's books and I thank all of you who get out your pom poms every time I talk about an idea or share some news of anticipation. I do have to say that all of the critique groups, online courses, books, etc have really readied me for publication. I am actually blessed that it has taken a few years of hard work to get to the point I am now. Through those years I have had the opportunity to make some amazing writer friends who "say it like it is" when I need them to and hold back a little when I am tired of the rejection letters.

I have really put my blog on the back burner to focus on writing for kids. I have quit all my freelance parenting gigs to focus on speaking to KIDS not ADULTS. I was finding it very hard to turn that channel. After spending a day crafting an article on SUMMER CAMP CARE PACKAGES, my brain was not changing gears and therefore my writing for kids suffered. So, I sacrificed the income for the kids. :) With pleasure!

ButI have missed my blogging family! So, I return to you. I know I can talk to you all like a child and you think it's fun! :) You are my childish sounding board, and I say that with love!!

Glad to be back!

So, I welcome you to the first installment of SATURDAY SOUND*OFF !

This is your venue to let it out! Speak your mind! Share your joys and sorrows! The subject can be anything you choose as long as it is not offensive or rude. You can also comment on someone else's sound*off as well, just NO BASHING!

So, GO!


(Mommy Blogger Monday will return next week and we will have a special guest in addition to the new Monday Mommy!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

What's in your VIEWFINDER?

It was the 70’s version of the iPod. We all had one and traded the disks with our friends. “I’ll trade my Scooby-Doo for your Speed Racer!” I can still hear the crunch-slide sound of the handle advancing to the next frame. The View Master™. Very similar to binoculars in shape, this toy was good for hours of enjoyment as my cousins and I relived our favorite movies and cartoons frame-by-frame. The images on each slide were incredibly lifelike as they jumped off the plastic squares set inside the white cardboard disk. I am sure this toy was not meant to be life-changing but this week during a moment of nostalgia I was struck by a new view. Like the View Master™, can you maneuver a quick change? It is 3:55 pm and you have just walked in the door from work, ready to get the kids off the bus. As you enter, you realize something has gone completely awry. It appears as though the dog wasn’t in his crate when you locked it this morning in your mad rush out the door. As you can hear the dog’s whining coming from behind your youngest child’s bedroom door. As you walk closer toward the room you see a strange pattern in the living room rug that you had not noticed before. In a panic, you throw the door open and there is your mutt bounding around in a fluffy pile made up of one single strand of what used to be your living room carpet. One taste of a loose thread on the bedroom side of the door had that dog pulling for all he was worth – all the live-long day. You now own a visible illustration of the word ‘zigzag’ down the center of your family room rug. You sink to the floor imagining your spouse finding out about the “Incredible Unraveling Pooch” when your attention is diverted by, “Mom! Mom! I made the team/got the lead in the play/got an A on my test!” Crunch-slide Time for a quick change. Choose to be in the moment – the good one. Like the View Master™, can you look beyond the foreground? When my husband came home for lunch on Wednesday what he witnessed upon walking in the kitchen almost made his head turn inside out. There were six women sitting around our kitchen table and seven children darting over, under and through every bit of available space. Two two-year olds were screeching and pulling on opposite ends of a tricycle. One little one was skipping aimlessly and bumping into everything. A mom was giving her daughter an insulin shot while the girl’s two brothers took turns throwing a ball at our ceiling fan. And then there was the sweet little boy using a mallet to smash the bajeebies out of a cracker on the linoleum right at my husband’s feet. My husband chose to focus on the foreground. The women around his table were planning the Holiday Party for Berks County’s children in foster care. Over two hundred children will be treated to quite the event this December. These children who have been removed from their homes (albeit with their best interest in mind) will craft, dance, play and receive gifts and a visit from Santa. This happy day will create smiles on faces that may not have stretched in that direction for quite some time. They will reconnect with their innocence, something some of them lost way too soon. This apparent chaos was simply the background for something priceless. Like the View Master™, it might be time to change the disk. How many times did you crunch-slide through the “if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids” frame before you begged for a new disk? How many times could you stand to watch Speed Racer win before wanting to frisby-toss the disk across the room? How many times are you going to say, “I will never act that way/lose my temper/be so gullible again!”? How many times will you oversleep/be irresponsible/act disrespectfully? How many times can you stand to watch this disk you have come to know as your life? As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” You know it’s time to try something new, change your pattern or make a choice for the better, so do it! I am not sure why the View Master™ struck me this way after so many years but I believe many of us need to experience this new twist on a classic toy; one that evidently can teach a huge lesson. Everyday we need to know when to make a quick change, when to focus on the foreground and when to change for the better. Life’s too short to crunch-slide through the same old patterns. Change your disk, make a difference! ---------------------------o0o---------------------------- As always, I write to touch the lives of people I may never meet so if you enjoyed this post PLEASE FWD this link to those you think it could touch who may NOT stumble upon my blog otherwise. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Our Adoption Story!

This is worth the "rerun" time!

My 3 monkeys before we left for the courthouse.

I just had an awesome experience; something I have never done before. I was shaking with nerves and there were tears. And then the attorney said, “Please tell the judge why you want to adopt Izaiah.” How could I explain to the judge how the baby that came into my life almost 2 years ago immediately fit into our family like the last piece of a puzzle? In a few short sentences, how could I sum up how the size of my heart has grown over the past two years to make room for one more set of first steps, one more first word and millions more hugs and kisses?

When we started our foster care journey almost four years ago, my husband was stumped. He couldn’t understand what made me think we needed to have another child. Matthew and Emily were finally at the age where we could take them anywhere and it was easy. No U-Haul of paraphernalia followed our minivan anymore. We are an on-the-go kind of clan. “We have one of each, they don’t make anything else,” he would say. The only way I could put into words the ache in my heart for another child was a visual that had flashed through my head from time to time for over a year.

I explained to him that when I look into the future in my mind, that proverbial “where do you see yourself in five years,” our family is sitting on a couch posing for a photo and I can clearly see Ken, myself, Matthew and Emily but there is one more joining our group. A small child sat on my lap but I just couldn’t see its face. I truly believed God was saying, “I have one more.”

Many years ago I was talking to my mom about having more children and she was thinking I had lost my mind because Matthew and Emily came into the world one right after the other. “Well, how many more,” she asked. I explained that I would never stop at three because that would make Emily the middle child and she is the more sensitive of the two so it would have to be two more. Four children. “Unless,” I clarified, “I could guarantee that 3rd child was a boy, then she would be the only girl and maybe that would off set that middle child syndrome.” We both agreed that it was not a possibility to guarantee gender. Now, I know, never say never.

Almost four years ago, when we were starting our journey with the Child Welfare system my friends would ask me, “How are you going to give the children back?” They knew me and if you know me you know that my love for children is embedded in my fingerprints. It is just a huge part of who I am. I had no answer. I didn’t want to think about it. I couldn’t explain. I, too, couldn’t fathom how I would be able to give back the scared and abused children we would love but I had an unexplainable peace about it so I just trusted God.

Around this time I had a dream. You know those dreams that stick with you for days. The ones you just can’t shake? That was what this dream was like. There was a baby, a strawberry blond, tiny little boy. The dream lasted only a few scenes and I awoke but I felt like I knew that baby. For days I would get a jolt only a mother could get, “Gasp. Who’s got the baby?” It was almost as though I had been given a divine responsibility to that child. Little did I know, I had. Just the other day as I was looking through an old journal, I came across the entry about that dream. I did the math. I had that dream right around the time Izaiah was conceived. The time was coming.

April 25, 2006 our third child came into our lives as a scared, very tiny, strawberry blond 9 month old. A child that would nervously visit his birthparents at the courthouse weekly. A child who we were told would go back home soon. Well, because God works miracles, today, April 9, 2008, twenty of his fans (closest family and friends) filed into a courtroom and witnessed Izaiah’s adoption finalization. And then there were three.

The past two years of first words, scraped knees and other childhood milestones was summed up in four words.

The judge declared our adoption final and our five best friends held up an Izaiah-sized t-shirt with the words, “FINALLY A BROWNLOW” printed on the front.

Izaiah reached for the shirt and squealed, “ME!”

Happy Adoption Day, buddy. We love you!

The shirt!

Such a blessing from God! Such a beautiful day!

Kim at Bugs and Bunnies was quick with the fact check today... TODAY IS NATIONAL SIBLINGS DAY!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mommy Blogger Monday...Meet Colleen

Alright Ladies, I am ON TIME, ON TIME, ON TIME this week! WooHoo!

I am really enjoying introducing you all to each Mommy Blogger...I just wish I was finding some more time to blog our daily chaos!

So, in the spirit of MY SEMBLANCE when she has enough time to can flashback to these doozies: My Island Thanksgiving SEMBLANCE Style My First Trip to Hollister that you are bored with my ramblings I am thrilled to introduce you to...Colleen! Colleen Milwaukee, WI This writer mom has 2 children and has been blogging for 3 years. Thanks for joining us, Colleen! Now, let's pry a little and get to know you! So, Colleen, we all have those moments that define us as "Mom." Years later we can recall every second in that moment as if it were tattooed on the inside of our brains. What MomMemory is tattooed on the inside of your head? The first day my youngest son was home from the hospital (I'd had a C-section) it was snowing and Hubby went out to clear the driveway. I tried to get my older son (then 2) ready to leave the house. I had a screaming baby who wanted to be fed, a sore belly, leaking boobs and a 2-year-old with poop in his pull-up standing on my bed. Oh, and the pull-up? Was around his ankles. I was sure he was going to fall and get poop EVERYWHERE. Somehow I was able to deal with it all - myself crying the entire time - and when hubs came in everyone was happy and quiet, and he wondered why I was shooting him the look of death. This mom deserves an award! Actually, we ALL do, right? Now, Moms ask other Moms for advice all the time. I am always hitting up my BFFs for their advice on everything under the sun. Give us a short product review of something you can’t live without. Right now I'm really loving the sugar body scrubs from Solessence. They're made by a Mom-owned company and are completely organic. They do wonders for my Midwesterner's dry winter skin and smell yummy! Thanks! I don't know about the rest of you but I am on my way over there now! You had me at "Sugar..." Moms teach lessons everyday. What has been your biggest life lesson. I'd have to say I learned invaluable lessons while in college. It wasn't so much the curriculum that taught me a lot, but rather going in as a poor student and making my way applying for loans, scholarships and financial aid. When I left college (albeit 6 yrs later) I had a great paying full-time job (that paid my tuition the last two years in full) and had worked my butt off for everything I had. I would never have appreciated it as much if someone had given it to me. OK, Colleen, you need to copy and paste that answer, print it out on archival paper (twice) and put it somewhere where your children will see it daily...and then put it on their dorm wall! OK, I feel like we have known wach other for a while, so I feel comfortable asking... What is the dorkiest thing about you? Um, everything? I've learned to embrace my inner dork. Long live nerds! Seriously, I am a Web developer nerd at heart and my idea of a great day off includes a coffee shop, a cozy chair and a book. Can I come on that "great day"? That is my Utopia, too! What’s your biggest passion? I honestly would say I'm really passionate about raising my kids to be decent, well-balanced people. I try to introduce them to lots of new things, and don't shelter them from the way the world really works (they just get a 4-year-old's version of it, or 2-year-old's). I want them to grow up to be decent, smart human beings. I LOVE when moms say that! Thanks for the reminder!! What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Starbucks coffee. MMMMMMM.... See, you ARE my new BFF! What do you wish for? I wish that we could be done with our home remodeling projects and put it up for sale already. I wish that finding a new one and selling this place to go smoothly, and relatively quickly. She's moving to be closer to me! J/K We are gonna pull up a comfy chair and drink Starbuck's all day while we write to our hearts' content! What do you hate? Gossipy people. Amen, sister! If your spouse would agree to let you go on a date with ONE celeb…list your top 3 picks. Gosh, this is hard. I'm not really a "celebrity" type of person. Here goes anyway! 1) Hugh Jackman 2) James Marsden 3) Pierce Brosnan Your most vivid high school memory. Meeting my husband. AW, that's awesome! What can you, under no circumstances, tolerate? Toys that make the same noise or play the same song over and over and over again. I've been known to take batteries out of toys that annoy me and claim them to be broken. If they play with the thing w/out sound, well, they never really needed it to make that noise anyway, did they? ;-) If you could speak one sentence for the rest of your life, what would it be? I love you. What do you always hope people see on YOUR inside? Kindness. Colleen, it has been so nice chatting! Good luck on those house projects...and here's to hoping you sell quickly! Ladies, raise your java cups to another AWESOME MOM! Peace.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Protecting your eyes in the Summer...Guest Blogger and a DISCOUNT

Hey fans, we have a guest blogger today! Something I have asked for in the past but got little response.

I am excited to welcome Hillary Rubin on board today. Pour some coffee and take a peek at the wealth of information Hillary has to share with us.

Hillary, the platform is yours:

We grew up knowing that our eyes should be protected from the sun. It seems like common sense. As kids, our parents tell us "do not look directly in the sun or you will go blind!" (But imagine your mom screaming it as you look directly into the sun...) Well, here are the facts. You won't go blind. Although, it WILL cause damage. Imagine that, looking into a ball of gas will eventually cause enough damage to your eyes that you could possibly go blind! Did you know that more damage is done to your eyes with every day activities like driving or riding your bike than from looking directly into the sun? That's right! The glare from the sun on a cars hood can cause more damage to your eyes than looking right at the sun. So how do you combat it? There are three steps to lessening the damage to your eyes by wearing eyeglasses. Anti-Glare/Reflective Coating Any time you don a pair of prescription eyeglasses make sure they are covered with an anti-glare or anti-reflective coating. Both terms mean the same thing. If you are buying a new pair of eyeglasses, search online. Buying eyeglasses online will save you money in the long run and the anti-glare coating will cost A LOT less. Aside from cost, even wearing a pair of eyeglasses with this coating at the computer can help save your eyes from damage. Whether you are taking a short walk to the mail box or you are driving, protect your eyes from glare and the sun with an anti-glare coating. UV Protective Coating This seems like a no-brainer but people often forget to include a UV protective coating in their order! Sometimes people assume that if they are outside for just a minute, their eyes won't be damaged even if they are wearing prescription eyeglasses. WRONG! Even if you don't have a colored tint on your eyeglasses, you should still have a UV protective coat to ward off harmful ultraviolet A and B rays. These are the same rays can leave you sun burnt after 15 minutes in the sun, so imagine what they can do to your eyes without protection. Polarized Lenses Think sunglasses. The average pair of sunglasses at Target doesn't even have a UV filter on it much less is the lens polarized. What does polarization do? It acts as a blocker for the UV rays. With polarized lenses, your eyes aren't hit with a glare and UV light gets absorbed into the lens, protecting your eye from any damage... and they look like really cool sunglasses. My suggestions, get a better deal on polarized lenses online. They are manufactured the same way but cost a fraction of the price because most sites have low overhead. Summer should be about fun! Take on new challenges and create new adventures but make sure your eyes are protected from the hot summer sun so you can continue your journey in summers of the future! Now’s a great time to save more money too! GlassesUSA is offering a 5% discount on all orders with the code: Mommy5! WOW! Thanks Hillary for all the information!

Ladies, head on over to GlassesUSA her and take advantage of the discount!