Saturday, January 4, 2020

I talked to my dad today.

I think I had a conversation with my dad today. At the vet. And no, he was not canine or feline. But, before I get into that, let's uncover a few other things.

In case you didn't know, my dad passed away on June 28, 2014. It has been, by far, the saddest, emptiest day of my life thus far. My dad was, well, my dad. And I was his daughter. His youngest, at that.

I was the one who gave him no reason to worry while I was younger and every reason to worry once I became an adult.

I was the one who rolled my eyes at his long pauses and delayed goodbyes on the phone.

I was the one who used to get frustrated with his traditional, conforming ways.

And, then, one day, I lost him.

Now, I realize how settled my life is and how I wish he was here to see it. How I wonder if he is proud of me. And, I wonder what he would say to me if he could see me now. And, I always, always think about how powerful his presence would have been to all the young men in my life -- and it genuinely breaks my heart to know that they missed out on it. Not just for them, but for my dad, too.

And now I wish I could just sit on the phone in silence with him. Listening to him breathe while he thought of something else to say just to keep from hanging up. Oh, how I would love this opportunity one more time.

It took me until now to realize that his traditional, conforming ways - however frustrating - are oddly what set him apart from everyone else. We live in such a broken world. And, my dad, he was one that held on to what was good, honest, and true. He loved - and loved hard - with everything he had. And the world lost a perfect example when we lost him.

I think about him all the time, but I don't always voice it. Sometimes I feel like I should be over grieving for him and other times it is just easier to keep moving forward rather than breaking down in ridiculously ugly cries like I am doing right now.

Truth is, I so did not intend to write this blog today. But, as I waited in an incredibly busy veterinary office on a Saturday after the holidays, I encountered something that could have, I suppose, got me in trouble.

See, here's what happened. I was picking up some allergy spray for one of our dogs. But, I stood back and let the frazzled girls at the front counter help the countless people that were there before me. Minding my busy and sporadically texting my mom, an older gentleman standing nearby was looking my way.

He had one of those looks that told me he wanted to say something but he was waiting for me to make eye contact. So, I did. And he jumped at the chance to speak.

This handsome man who looked to be in his 70's - at least - said, "This is like waiting at the ER for humans." I chuckled and nodded in agreeance. Then, he leaned over in my direction and said, "I got my rabies shot, now I am just waiting on my tag." He was laughing as he held up the rabies certificate for his two dogs.

Me? I laughed at his corny joke and immediately thought about how this man sure reminds me of my dad.

He continued chatting with me about the tags, the busy office, his two dogs - a 12-year-old rescue bulldog mix named Duke and a 14-yr old chihuahua that had two litters of puppies and only one was a boy.

It was his cheesy jokes, his mannerisms, his polite character, and his personality that just radiated my dad straight at me. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to step a few feet to the left and throw my arms around him, squeeze him, and cry - right there on his shoulder.

He was there before me so he was ready to leave before I was. He picked up his tags, turned around face to face with me and said, "You take care, young lady. Have a blessed day."

Oh, sir. You have no idea how blessed of a day it was.

For just a short period of time with a strange man at the vet, I felt as though I was having a conversation with my dad. And, thankfully I refrained from any physical contact so I was able to drive myself home without any legal troubles.

Until next time, my friends - hug your loved ones. 💕

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Raising Someone Else’s Kids

"Do you have kids?”

That is always a tough question for me. And I always find myself stumbling over my answer. Yes, technically. I mean, they aren’t necessarily mine as in the normal way one has kids, but, in all other ways, yes, I have kids.

To be more specific, I have a stepson and two nephews. In my mind, though, they are all my kids. I didn’t have them so-to-speak, but they are mine.

And, here’s why. This is what it is like raising someone else’s kids.

When someone plays too rough outside and falls off a skateboard, tumbles over a basketball, or skids off a bike, you make sure you are there to wipe the blood, clean the wound, and dry the tears.

When someone feels beat down after a rough day at school or gets frustrated with a homework assignment, you speak uplifting words and provide encouragement.

When someone has a favorite breakfast, you go out of your way to make sure it is available in the morning.

When someone has interests, goals, and the like, you do what you can to guide their pursuit. You let them explore the things that matter to them.

When they do well, you praise them.

When they make a poor choice, you correct them.

When a kid gets excited about something, you feel yourself getting excited, too.

You brag about them.

You show up for them.

You sing with them, act goofy, and have your own inside jokes.

You do what you can to not let them down. And, if you ever accidentally do, you beat yourself up for it long past the time they’ve stopped thinking about it.

You make sacrifices to see them smile.

You hug and kiss them goodnight.

And, by all means, you tell them you love them.

Life is not easy. Life with kids is surely a rough ride. And, nobody – including myself – is perfect.
Raising someone else’s kids should be no different than raising your own biological children. Moral of the story? It doesn’t matter who had the darn kids – you raise them as if you did. You treat them as if they are yours. And you love the heck out of them.

You know, one of the wisest women I know once told me that you don’t ever love any kid differently, whether they are your own or your stepchild or another child in your care. She said that each child deserves to have unconditional love.

When I first fell into this role in my life, I had a hard time believing that. Not that I didn’t think all children should be loved unconditionally, but I felt that there is a certain piece of you that is bound to that child when it is biological. Something that I wouldn’t know for sure, of course. Perhaps I am wrong – I will leave that to all of you biological parents to discuss.

But I have grown into the woman that I am knowing that the love I have for the children in my life is not conditional. That there is not possibly anything I would do more or less for them if they came from me. I give them my all. Every day. Rain or shine. And, I do it because they are mine. All three of them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Be present for your kids.

“Be the parent today 
that you want your kids 
to remember tomorrow.” 

If I am learning anything it is that kids see - and remember - EVERYTHING. In fact, kids notice things even when you think they don't! And, boy do I have an example for ya. 

Every Saturday morning I take AJ to his bowling lessons. He loves it and they say he has some natural bowling skill. Who wouldn't love to hear that? He is on a league that has constant coaching instruction for the kids. So, since it is not a drop-off sort of activity, parents go and sit at the nearby tables while the coaches work with the kids. They bowl two games and it takes a total of about 2 hours. No biggie, right? 

Well over the last several weeks, here is what I have been noticing. 

The mom of a quiet girl who never smiles sits down at her table, pulling out a bunch of papers and thumbing through them. She sits with her back to the bowling lanes. 

The dad of an adorable little boy either hangs out in the arcade or sits in the back, playing games on his cell phone. 

Yet another mom of two handsome young bowlers opens her laptop at a table at the farthest end of the bowling alley. 

Have you ever seen kids bowl? Without fail, every time a kid goes up to bowl, they throw the ball, turn around, and they look straight at their parent (or look for their parent if they are MIA). They just tried their best and are looking for that reassurance, that pat on the back, that, "good job, kid, I've got you."

I began watching this as it happens and I have never seen a child's gaze meet that of their parent. They never saw their kid learn that new technique. They never saw those pins fall. And they never saw the light in their kid's eyes as they turned around after taking their turn. 

It hurts the heart to watch. 

I am far from perfect, but I am learning that being present for kids is like giving them an actual present. They need and want attention. And, when they get it, they feel really good. And we all want kids to feel good, don't we? They deserve it (most of the time, ha!)

So, parents - be present for your kids. Put the phone down. Leave the work until later. And just give them the reassurance and support they look for from you. It builds them up.  The world is cruel and scary -- and you are the only constant they have. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

R.I.P., Baby Groot

Many years ago, when I was a young kid, I remember begging my mom for a hamster. She was so afraid that I'd let it out to run wild throughout the house so the answer was always "no." But, because she is such an awesome mom, I got a hamster for Christmas that year. 

It came with a plastic ball and batteries. It ran around the house when I turned it on and would stop when I turned him off. That was as much of a hamster that I'd ever get. I will admit that I was always a bit childishly bitter about this. Well, until March 9, 2018. 

That was the day Damian wrote an essay about how much he wanted a hamster. He wanted to love on it and take care of it and learn responsibility. He said all the right things, wrote it in some great handwriting, and we were proud. 

The kid got a hamster. A tiny dwarf hamster that he decided to name Baby Groot. 

This hamster never really did much... slept, mostly. But he sure could dirty a cage. After seeing the process that takes place with these little suckers -- I am so thankful my mom got me the battery-operated variety. 

Anyways, yesterday, Damian hollered for me to come to his bedroom. He said "my hamster's nose is turning green." I didn't yet have my contacts in so I glanced in the cage (honestly, not able to really see his nose) and told Damian that he was ok. 

Palm to head I went about 3 hours later. 

I was in the office working when Damian yells across the house, "My hamster is dead! Baby Groot is dead! Michelle come here! Ohhhhhhh, nooooooooooooo!" And then cue the tears. Lots of them. 

Since this is my first time dealing with the child-dead pet scenario, I was not sure how to handle it. We talked a little bit about Baby Groot and how he was probably running around in heaven now. He asked if we could bury him in the backyard and I told him of course we can because, well, how could I tell him otherwise? He leaned on my shoulder, face full of tears, and said maybe we should pray. 

Now, to visualize what happened next, you are going to need to pay attention. 

This was Baby Groot's cage. In the bottom left of the picture, you see the yellow viewing spot. That is where the little guy took his last breath. His feet were inside the viewer and his head was pointing into the cage. As we stood there - not at all touching the cage - I was saying a prayer to the best of my ability for the recently deceased hamster.

As soon as I said the words, "Jesus, please take care of... " Baby Groot fell head first into the cage. He sat with his tail and feet straight in the air. We both jumped up. And Damian exclaimed, "Was that Jesus?!" His big eyes were staring at me for an answer. 

All I could say was, "Well, it looks like Jesus got 'em, buddy."

R.I.P. little Baby Groot. Damian is already asking for another... 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

No work and all play

Do you remember this scene? "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." I've got two little boys here who feel the same way. And, to my knowledge, they have never seen The Shining.

So, then, what causes the love of playing to override the need for hard work? Is it just an innate feeling? Is it learned? Where does it come from? 

Let me be honest... they hate work. Anything that is remotely like work. In fact, it is more like a nails-on-the-chalkboard screeching kind of look we get sometimes when they find out they need to do something other than play. This includes school work, cleaning, grocery shopping (oh, how they hate this one), among a few others.

Now, before you jump down my throat -- yes, they are kids so they will LOVE to play. But, as much as they LOVE to play, they HATE to work. 

Damian - the little smarty - politely told his teacher "no thank you" to the worksheet she handed out to the class. He wanted to play, not work - so why on earth would he accept the worksheet, right? At least he was polite about it. Unfortunately, he was very devastated when he learned he couldn't be rewarded with free play time because he didn't do his work!  

It has almost become a mantra in our house now that "work comes before play." Chores and homework need to be done before they can even look at a toy or consider touching a game. Its been a slow process, but we will get there. Baby steps. 

Here is what I think about so often. These boys are truly awesome (and by now you should agree). They are so smart and witty -- and can build incredible Lego machines quicker than I can scream from stepping on one. Imagine - just for a moment - what can be accomplished by such talent and dedication if the same energy that was applied to playing becomes applied to work? What great things they will do one day! I just know it. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Buried tunnels

It is nearing the end of the school year. Perhaps that is why the kids are getting a little more rambunctious and the teachers look as though they are ready to take a long hike in the woods and never return. In fact, they look downright exhausted. 

So much so that apparently there was an incident in the classroom with a disruptive student (no -- not mine) and the room turned into a chaotic situation. While discussing this at the dinner table, we heard the story from the mouth of a 4th grader and felt that perhaps we should reach out to the teacher for some clarification. 

See, Tina and I really try to express the importance and power of words. We teach these boys -- all three of them -- just how powerful your words are. We tell them time and time again that you always want to make sure you are speaking the truth and keeping the exaggeration to a minimum. Because, let's face it, it today's world, people are very quick to act upon the things that they hear without doing much investigation. So, the words of an 11-year old could cause quite a bit of hype. 

The night ended and we let everything go until the next day. As I was sitting in the afternoon carline, I was spotted by this teacher. As the kids hopped in my car, the teacher was filling me in about the situation in the classroom -- and about how exhausted she really is. She proceeded to say that, with approximately 20 school days left, she is "finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel."

We continued our conversation for a couple more minutes -- and the boys were surprisingly quiet in the backseat. Then, AJ popped up and said - "Wait a minute! There are tunnels underneath the school? Where do they go?" You could hear the anticipation and thrill between both boys at this point. Instantly, they were planning on checking them out and making a plan. All of this while the teacher and I looked at each other dumbfounded -- what was he talking about!?

Then, he said... "You just said you saw a light at the end of the tunnel you were in... " He looked as confused as we had, but he said this with such confidence. 

We chuckled just enough to not make him feel embarrassed and then taught him what the saying meant. 

Lesson? Words are powerful. The things that you say can hurt someone, can cost someone something valuable, and they can lead children on a scavenger hunt for something that never existed. Watch what you say!

By the way, AJ turns 11 today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, sweet boy!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Let it go...

Life can get frustrating. When you see someone struggling, you want to just snap your fingers and fix their situation -- or find an instant solution. You want to make everything good and happy and well because who likes things that aren't, right? 

You cannot just "fix" things because, quite often, they aren't your "things" to "fix." I am going to be honest, I struggle with this. Something inside me just wants everyone to be content and happy... 

So, being wired this way and being one of the caretakers to two young boys, small things can get the better of me sometimes. Last night and this morning just happen to be two of those times. See, I want these boys to be happy, healthy, and do well at anything and everything they want to pursue.

I want to see transformation before my eyes. I want to see that I am doing right by them and give them everything I have to offer to make their lives better. I want to make sure that I don't make a wrong turn that leads them down a wrong path, too. 

Though, all I can do is simply love them and guide them. 

But, it isn't about me. It doesn't matter what I want. And their journey isn't my journey. The actions and decisions they make are outside of my control. Who they are and what their role is in this life is not mine to dictate. 

Sometimes, I forget this.

On the way to school this morning, Damian began talking to me and sharing a story he learned when watching a movie with his grandpa "a long time ago." Here it is, from his point of view (though, paraphrased, of course): 

...Remember, Jesus was captured by some mean men. They beat him really bad until he was all bloody. Then they made him carry his own cross a really long way. And it was really heavy. Then, they hung him on the cross by nailing his hands to it. Then they tied his feet and put another nail. 

When he woke up on a Sunday he was almost naked. Then he saw some people and he still had holes in his hands from the nails. Then he went straight up to Heaven.

I've got God in my heart. He is always close to me. Do you know Calvin doesn't believe in God or Jesus? That is because Calvin is mean. You can't have God in your heart and be mean. I think I am going to tell Calvin about God today...

Sometimes this kid brings the perfect speeches at the perfect time. He is so smart and has such a deep soul. And, I often think he has a greater relationship with God than most -- including me. 

All the frustrations that I have in trying to do my best to help raise some wonderful little beings are wasted because they are already wonderful. And God has a great plan for them. For some reason he has entrusted these children to Tina and I... and though I may never understand his thinking haha we will give it everything we've got. 

I've got to let God lead us on this journey... and let the small stuff go. And, FYI Calvin -- Jesus loves you, too and you are lucky to have a friend like Damian. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Life happens

I am learning a lot this month that life just happens. It doesn't give me a call, a notification, or even a calendar edit to make sure that my plans coincide with it. No. Instead, it just happens and whatever the plans are that I had -- well, I have to hope they weren't important. 

This makes me think of that cartoon character holding too many items, stacked three feet in the air, swaying to the right ... so as the character runs right, the items sway left... so the character runs to the left to catch them.. then they sway right and, well, you get the idea. Eventually the items win as they crash the floor. 

Yep. That is me with my plans. 

Here is how Valentine's week went in my house. Mondays are my busiest days by far. I have a ton of deadlines for a particular client on Mondays and my time is scarce. So, I decided that I was going knock out that work early since I had a meeting at the school. Then, on Tuesday, I would do my Valentine's Day shopping. I had the perfect idea of what I wanted to buy my Valentine -- and I thought I'd get a couple little things for those people who mean so much to me. 

By the time I got home from the meeting on Monday, Damian -- the 8yr old -- had thrown up. This continued throughout the night. 

I began stressing, as I still had to go shopping on Tuesday. How on earth was I supposed to do that with a sick kid? Tuesday morning rolls around and BOTH kids are sick. [Chuck any hope of following through on plans straight out the window]

That is ok. No biggie. I can just go in the evening once Tina gets home, right? Wrong. By the time she got home, the boys were so dehydrated from being unable to keep anything down all day that the pediatrician asked us to take them both to the ER. 

Fast forward a few more hours and an IV with fluids later (along with a negative flu test, I should add) and we were heading home. Stores were closed and I was spent.

And, of course the boys were not going to school the next day -- Valentines day. 

In the end, however, it all worked out and I was able to compromise with myself. I just had to take a moment to gain perspective on all that happened. There would have been a time years ago when I would kick and fight and scream because things did not go the way they should have. Not because I couldn't have my way, but because I liked to have a plan and anything that deviated from that plan would send me into a frenzy because I no longer had it all together.

I reflected on how much I had grown -- especially since it is not just me anymore, but all of these other parts, too. 

And, sure, this could call be about putting the kids first, the dangers of germs, the insignificance of store-bought Valentine's Day gifts, and the fact that God makes our plan - not us. But here is the biggest lesson learned throughout this whole ordeal: Use pencil on the calendar. It really is that simple. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Is it broken?

If you have ever spent any significant amount of time with young boys, then you know that you need to always have a first-aid kit on hand at all times. No joke. In fact, I carry a pouch in my purse that has a fix for nearly every potential disaster - headaches, stomach aches, falls, cuts, scrapes, burns, hangnails, allergic reactions, etc. Because, lets face it - the craziest things happen at the most unlikely times. You know, like when a boy trips and falls coming out of a clothes display at Target because he was startled that you were screaming his name so loudly inside the store. Bandage, please

When I hear a thud or a scream (and after I cringe and ask "what happened?"), I have learned from Tina that there are certain questions that I need to ask. Now, pay attention because these are important. They are: 

1. Are you bleeding?
2. Is it broken? Do you have any bones sticking out?
3. Are you dead? 

If the answer is no,

With the exception of one incident (a story for another day), this has worked well for us. The boys -- all 3 of them -- know the routine when there is an injury. Otherwise, they'd have us at the ER for all their bumps and bruises. Boys. Sigh. 

So, the funniest thing happened recently. AJ (the 10yr old) had a stomach ache at school so I had picked him up early. When we went back after school to pick Damian up, here is how the conversation went, as heard from the front seat: 

Damian: AJ, what happened? Why did you leave school early? 

AJ: I had a stomach ache so Michelle picked me up from the nurse.

Damian: AJ, you know you aren't allowed to go to the nurse unless you are bleeding, something is broken, or you are dead.

I sat there, looking forward at the road, and chuckled to myself at hearing this interaction. I am learning that some of the most insignificant things we say have such a lasting impact on kids. That's why we have to be sure to mix a lot of love into all the words you spill out - because kids ingest every bit of it. ❤❤❤❤❤

Friday, December 8, 2017

He was absolutely right.

Oh, Damian....he is 7 years old, cute (and he knows it), and more wise than you would ever imagine. 

He is smart. He can memorize spelling words almost instantaneously. He absorbs everything he reads (when I can get him to read). And, he blows through his math problems before I can finish reading the directions. 

He is also very hip. He says things that make you chuckle because you just couldn't imagine a 7 year old saying them. He also giggles, sings, dances, loves musicals, art projects, and being the center of attention. 

Damian is an all-around cool kid.

Damian also has a heart of gold and loves God. There are times when he begins talking -- and we just feel like we are talking to an old soul. He will talk about long, lost relatives that have died years and years before he was even born. He will ramble on about heaven and Jesus and how he wants to go there one day, but he isn't ready yet. And then things like this happen...

Every weekday, we have dinner ready so that when Tina walks in the door from work we can all dig in. Without fail, Damian will ask, "So, TT, how was your day at work? Tell me all about it and leave out no details." Tina normally will just tell him it was a good day, or it was busy, etc. However, last night when prompted, Tina answered, "Actually, Damian, it was a really boring day."

The look on Damian's face let you know something was churning in his mind. He looked confused, as if he either didn't know what a boring day at work was like or ... he couldn't understand why she answered the way she did.

And then we got schooled: 

"God created jobs. He created the construction workers to build. And he created bosses for jobs and  people for the jobs. So, if you are saying you had a boring day at work, you are bring rude... to God. Because God gave you that job." 

Sitting on the outside of the conversation, part of me wanted to laugh out loud and say something along the line of, "well he just told you!" But, the warmer part of me loved watching Tina's face in amazement. She stared at him for a moment, as if lost for words. Then, she said, "You are absolutely right, Damian. I am thankful that I have a job and I appreciate it."

Sometimes I am blown away by his wisdom. I often feel like he understands some things in life better than we do and, at times, teaches us, too. This just goes to show you that God uses everyone of us -- even packing his messages into the hearts of the little ones. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A typical day

My days are fairly redundant. Well, at least in the overall scheme of things. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home -- while doing something that I absolutely love. This also gives me the flexibility to handle the two young boys and the three dogs. 

Once everyone in the house gets off to work or school in the morning, I usually jump head first into work. After a couple of hours, I will take a break so I can get things done around the house. Then, its back to work until the kids get off school. After an enjoyable afternoon of homework, we have a nice dinner and snuggle in with a good book before bed. 

Ok, ok, back to reality. That's a dream. It doesn't really go that way. In my mind, yes. But, let's just say there is always a twist, a turn, and three speedbumps before the kids even get out of school. Let's see, we have one dog -- Anna -- who is scared of anything and everything. This includes the broom, mop, and vacuum. Every time I pull out any one of these items, she scatters. Then she paces and she hides. We also have Elsa who, on a good day, keeps her teeth off of those three tools. Otherwise, she tries to bite them. Little Daisy follows behind her, as if letting her big sister do the dirty work before she jumps in on the action.

And then there is me -- the human in the middle -- trying to do a measly little household chore and I must look a bit nutty jumping to the right, darting to the left, all while swinging a broom in the air.  

Do you know how hard it is to sweep, vacuum, and mop with  2/3 of the dogs in attack mode? Sigh. Sometimes I just laugh out loud to myself (since there isn't anyone here to witness this) because, despite the frustration, its still ridiculously funny. 

Things around the house usually take longer than I ever anticipate that they should, which always throws off my workload. I'm hoping to get a hang of it all -- at least by the time school is out. 

Speaking of school, the kids come home and they automatically know that it is homework time -- immediately. If I give them any sort of break their mind just shuts down and locks out anything educational. Little boys sitting still and doing homework is much like me trying to sweep/mop/vacuum while fighting off dogs. It is hard! They want to run and play and enjoy their day! Oh my gosh -- just like the dogs. 

Dinnertime rolls around and we sit around the table and chat -- and try to convince the kids that they need to eat. By the time we cleanup from dinner, get the kids ready for bed, and can actually have a minute to sit down on the couch and exhale in relief that we made it through another day, a dog comes darting toward us, ball in mouth, ready to play -- with us or the other dogs (to which we then become nothing more to them than floor mats). 

This life is such a learning experience for me these days. It is full of crazy times, some painful times, and a lot of laughs. And lately a mixture of lavender candles and relaxing Soundscapes has brought a sense of peace to our house. Well, it has taken us from a level 63 down to maybe a 40.

Progress, not perfection -- that's what its about. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

My life.

My life. I'd check the "it's complicated" box if I could. After all, there aren't many people who truly get why my life is the way it is and why I am more than ok with it. I get lectured, offered advice, and looked at with pity at every turn. Yet, my heart is so full inside. 

Just so you can go ahead and plan your speech or email me your personal advice, I am going to fill you in on the nitty gritty details of who makes up my family. Are you ready? Pay attention -- here it goes:

I am married to the love of my life, Tina -- who came pre-packed in a nice family-ready package with a son named Manny who is now 18 years old and lives at home with us. Then, we have our nephews, 7 years old and 10 years old, in our care and also living in our home. 

We decided to get a puppy -- a Chiweenie (half Chihuahua and half Dachshund) named Daisy. But, we quickly learned that because of the number of people in our household, one little weenie dog was not going to fulfill everyone's need for puppy love. So, we got another -- an American Bulldog puppy named Elsa. Well, she had a rough start at life and so did her sister. We couldn't just leave her sister behind in the filth they were living in -- so we took her too. She is from the same litter and her name is Anna. (ok, ok, so our heart strings are tugged easily -- you are thinking it like its a bad thing).

So there you have it -- we have a house of two adults, a teenager, two little boys, and three female dogs. 

Oh, and I should probably tell you that  Tina and I are both very close with our mothers. They don't live with us - yet - but they do live close by and play a big role in our family dynamic.

The ups and downs and ins and outs of life with all of these people -- all these different personalities, different goals, different approaches to life, and different reactions to life -- can be trying, stressful, frustrating, and even make me want to holler like a screaming goat some days. At the same time, it makes me laugh, fills me with warmth, and shows me to appreciate life in a way I never did. 

The truth is, I wouldn't change my life for anything. 

Welcome to my life of love & chaos.