Tuesday, December 27, 2011

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” ~ Bruce Lee

It's nearly that time of year when many start thinking about resolutions & changes they'd like to make in the new year. I always make resolutions. Not necessarily because I accomplish them, but because I love the fresh start feeling of the new year. I love all the hope & potential it holds. It always seems like the perfect time for me to take stock in my life. Say a quiet "Thank You" for my blessings & take a serious look at what I could do to be a better me. 

In the past, I've made many resolutions to make me look better, feel better or be healthier. It's not that those goals are unimportant (they most certainly are!) but this year I want to focus more on making me a better person & on the relationships I have or would like to have. 

So many changes are coming my way in 2012. I will graduate in May & reenter the working world sometime mid-year. I haven't worked outside the home since 2006-2007. Before that year of working outside the home, I'd been a SAHM since the end of 2002. Pretty much all my family knows is my being at home. Reentering the workforce is going to require a HUGE adjustment for me & for Toby & Livi. 

With the end of nursing school, comes the end of the trials & tribulations that comes with nursing school. Someday I'll write more about being an nursing student, but for now suffice to say that it's a challenge unlike anything I'd imagined & it takes its toll on everyone - not just the student. Financially, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually...nursing school just does it's darndest to ruin you & those you love. Even though I plan on going back in the Fall of 2012 to start on my bachelor's degree, it will be a different kind of schooling & I'm looking forward to letting go of all the strains that the past 2 years have put on me & those I love most. 

So, as I look toward the new year, here are a few things that I'm focusing on (in no particular order):

1. Graduate nursing school, pass the NCLEX, & find a full time job (or 2 =)

2. Make time for me at least 3 days a week (preferably 5) in which I can walk for exercise, stress-relief, & mental wellness.

3. Encourage Livi's running. She's working on something that I hope will become a lifelong love & habit for her. 

4. Make time every day to really listen to Toby. Smile at him. Laugh with him.
5. Have a date night at least once a month. 

6. Vacation at least once this year with Toby & Livi. 

7. Try new recipes & keep my blogs updated regularly.

8. Save for a new home. 
9. Save for a new-to-us vehicle.

10. Be a better mom. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the day to day stresses of life, I forget to truly *see* my beautiful daughter. May I remember each & every day to genuinely listen to what she is saying & be the best mom I can be to her. LiviGirl has made so many sacrifices where I'm concerned while I've been going to school. May I be the mom she needs me to be to the very best of my abilities. 

11. Help Toby expand his guitar business. Help make it possible for him to attend the seminars & workshops that he'd like to attend.

12. Be a better "bestie". I have the world's greatest gal pal & I hope to be a better friend to her. The journey I've been on the past couple of years wouldn't have been the same without her. I've never had a sister, but if I could have chosen one, I would have wanted her to be just like Steph. May this be the last year of our lives that we have to wish each other "Happy Birthday" from afar because we just can't make it to where the other one lives. 

13. Buy Toby an Orange Amp =) (And, no, not all of these. I'm just not sure which one(s) he wants...which I guess explains why I need #4 above!)

I'm sure there are many other things in my life that I could be "working" on, but these are some of the 1st ones that come to mind. Feel free to leave a comment & let me know what your focuses for the new year are (if any).  I love reading other people's resolutions too because I usually find something else that I should/could add to my list =)

Happy New Year to everyone! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

We've had a blessed Christmas. It was great to get to spend time with family (some I hadn't seen in literally YEARS!)  
I hope you & yours had a very Merry Christmas! 

Here's a few pictures from our holiday gatherings: 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy 13th Birthday!

Happy Birthday
to the most beautiful & precious gift I've ever received! 
 I am forever grateful that God saw fit to allow me to share my life with my special gal.  
Love you, LiviGirl! 
Goldman Photography

Goldman Photography

Goldman Photography
Goldman Photography
Goldman Photography

Monday, December 12, 2011

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." ~ Robert Frost

It's FINALLY Christmas break for me from school! I made it through MedSurg II which means I'm now I'm 3/4 of a nurse. LOL!!! 

Unfortunately Algebra didn't go as well & it looks like I'll probably be retaking it in the spring to get my grade high enough to meet the nursing school's policies. 

In the meantime, I have the next few weeks to enjoy not being under the stresses of school, spend time with Livi, get ready for Christmas & finish getting our house put back together from the move. 

I'm looking forward to checking out the library here in town (it's new!), sleeping in, watching TV without feeling guilty I'm not studying & working on some projects around here that I've put off...like digging into a new cookbook I got for Christmas :) 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick note to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

We're in the middle of moving so our Thanksgiving "break" has been consumed with hauling load after load after load after load after...well you get the picture...

Still, I can't help but be thankful for all the blessings in my life. Over the past few years, I've learned to just roll with the punches. (And life certainly has a way of pulling a lot of punches).  Fortunately, I've been blessed with people in my life who make living life worthwhile & who help me find the humor in the sticks that life puts in my spokes sometimes. 

It's easy to let life stress us out & to become overwhelmed by the things that get us down. I hope that this Thanksgiving everyone can take a minute & focus on the things in our lives that bring us joy, happiness & give life meaning. 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Count on You, Count on Me

LOVE this song! 

Every time I hear it I think of the people in my life that I can ALWAYS count on. 

The ones who always answer the phone in the middle of the night... 
The ones that are mad when you are mad & happy when you are happy... 
The ones that make us laugh when we are full of frowns...
The ones that let us vent & then say, "I absolutely agree."...
The ones who call us up & offer to buy lunch when they know we can't afford it & need a girls' lunch out ;) - (I've never forgotten this, Steph. You continue to be the antidote when I'm OD'd on life in general. You're the absolute best & I love you!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back to blogging...

I just realized today that I haven't written on my blog since the beginning of August!! Wow!  It's not that things haven't been going on around here...in fact, it's quite the contrary. I've been so busy I can't hardly find the time to sit down & put 2 sentences together. Couple that with the fact that time has been flying by for me & here I am, almost 3 months later, trying to play catch-up.

So to get back in the swing of things, some random thoughts...

- I'm about 4 weeks from having this semester of school finished. Leaving me just 1 more to go!  I swing from being excited to being scared to death to being relieved to being a nervous wreck. It's a whole whirlwind of emotions inside me on most days. 

- I must have lost my mind during this whole process because I went ahead and applied for the Bachelor's program too. If I get accepted, it's another 2 yr commitment. 

- Everyone around me is either completely ready or nearly ready for Christmas. Not me. I haven't even gotten started. A couple weeks back an opportunity presented itself for us to move to the town where Livi is now attending school. We had talked about making this move next summer, but when opportunity knocks...well, you can't just send it away. So while everyone around us is gearing up for the holidays, we're cleaning out, packing up & preparing for another life change. A few years ago I probably would have let all of the life changes stress me out, but I've learned to roll with the punches & accept an opportunity when one presents itself. Life has a way of leading us where we need to go if we'll just allow ourselves to be guided. 

-The only bad part about moving:  losing our awesome neighbors. I'm pretty bummed about that. Chad & Sheena & their 3 cutie pies are the best & I'll miss having them right next door.

-The new place has a much larger kitchen (& a dishwasher :) & I'm hoping to get back into cooking more & adding to my recipe blog more. We've been in a real menu rut, but right now I just haven't had the time to be creative. Everyone here is just grateful for the nights mom remembers to cook supper! haha! 

- Well, it's nearly time to go pick up Miss Livi from school so I better close this out for now. Hopefully, I'll be back before another 3 months! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

School Time!

Today is a bittersweet day for me as a mom. It's LiviGirl's 1st day of Jr. High. On one hand, I love to watch her grow & learn & experience life, but on the other hand, I'm also so sad to send her back to school & lose having her around the house with me all the time. 

I know some parents are all "I CANNOT wait to send my kid(s) back to school!" but that has never been me. I miss her like crazy when she's gone. I always go through a depressed period when she heads back.

6 yrs. That's how long from right now I have before I'm moving her to college. It sounds like a lot, but not when I think about how quickly the 1st 12-1/2 yrs have went. 

Parenting is not always easy. In fact, it's downright hard as heck some days. But it is the greatest joy in my life. And, considering I feel like I'm pretty blessed, that's saying something. :)

Since LiviGirl was born I've always tried to cherish each moment & live IN the moment (not wishing her life away by saying "oh, if only she was 2 or 5 or 10...") That has served me well. So, today, I'll cherish her 1st day of Jr. High & all the nerves & jitters that goes with it. And, tonight, I'll be uber glad to see her walk through the front door with all kinds of stories of the 1st day back chaos. :) 

Happy 1st day of school, LiviGirl! Love you! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver

My Dad use to be an auction junkie. He would find an auction in the paper, insist he had to go for 1 particular item & come home with completely different things. He particularly had a problem with buying a whole box of books to get 1 book. He'd bring the box home, grab the book he bought the box for & put it on his bookshelf & send the rest upstairs to the attic. A practice that nearly drove my mom insane, but one that I secretly LOVED because it always meant there were old books around. 

There is something about the smell of old books with ratty pages & new books with crisp pages. Old stories written in older styles of writing & newer stories written in a more modern language; it doesn't matter they all have the ability to draw me into the world they create. For me there's just something about books in general. In an ideal world, I would have a library in my house that goes floor to ceiling with one of those cool "fly around the room" ladders & a big fireplace to curl up in front of in a big comfy chair.  I know my family thinks I'm crazy as a loon, but I truly love books!

As a tween/teen, I began collecting quotes & poetry. Sometimes I'd write my own, but mostly I'd collect sayings & poems that really spoke to or moved me. (Years later, in a fit of "why do I keep this crap",  I threw everything I had collected or wrote in the trash. Something I've greatly regretted since then, but what's done is done.) 

Anyway, back to the story I wanted to share today...

I have no idea how old I was, I'm guessing somewhere between 11-14, Dad left to go to an auction & came home with a box of books. Normally the boxes didn't have anything in them I wanted to read, but I still loved looking through them. I distinctly remember him sitting the box down on the kitchen table & pulling out this:

He said, "I bought this whole box because I wanted you to read something..." & he flipped to this page: 

And I began to read: 

The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver
Edna St. Vincent Millay

"Son," said my mother,
When I was knee-high,
"You've need of clothes to cover you,
and not a rag have I.

"There's nothing in the house
To make a boy breeches,
Not shears to cut cloth with
Nor thread to take stitches.

"There's nothing in the house
But a loaf-end of rye,
And a harp with a woman's head, 
Nobody will buy,"
And she began to cry.

That was in the early fall.
When came the late fall, 
"Son," she said, "the sight of you 
Makes your mother's blood crawl, - 

"Little skinny shoulder-blades
Sticking through your clothes!
And where you'll get a jacket from
God above knows.

"It's lucky for me, lad
Your daddy's in the ground,
And can't see the way I let
 His son go around!"
And she made a queer sound.

That was in the late fall.
When came the winter,
I'd not a pair of breeches
Nor a shirt to my name.

I couldn't go to school,
or out of doors to play.
And all the other little boys
passed our way.

"Son," said my mother, 
"Come, climb into my lap
And I'll chafe your little bones
While you take a nap."

And, oh, but we were silly
For half an hour or more,
Me with my long legs
Dragging on the floor. 

To a mother-goose rhyme!
Oh, but we were happy
For half an hour's time!

But there I was, a great boy,
And what would folks say
To hear my mother singing me
To sleep all day,
In such a daft way? 

Men say the winter
Was bad that year;
Fuel was scarce,
And food was dear.

A wind with a wolf's head
Howled about our door,
And we burned up the chairs
And sat upon the floor.

All that was left us
Was a chair we couldn't break,
And the harp with a woman's head
Nobody would take
For song or pity's sake.

The night before Christmas
I cried with the cold,
I cried myself to sleep
Like a two-year old.

And in the deep night
I felt my mother rise, 
And stare down upon me
With love in her eyes.

I saw my mother sitting
On the one good chair,
A light falling on her
From I couldn't tell where, 

Looking nineteen,
And not a day older
And the harp with the woman's head
Leaned against her shoulder.

Her thin fingers, moving
In the thin, tall strings, 
Were weav-weav-weaving
Wonderful things.

Many bright threads,
From where I couldn't see, 
Were running through the harp-strings

And gold threads whistling
Through my mother's hand.
I saw the web grow, 
And the pattern expand.

She wove a child's jacket,
And when it was done
She laid it on the floor
And wove another one. 

She wove a red cloak
So regal to see, 
"She's made it for a king's son,"
I said, "and not for me."
But I knew it was for me.

She wove a pair of breeches
Quicker than that!
She wove a pair of boots
And a little cocked hat.

She wove a pair of mittens
She wove a little blouse, 
She wove all night
In the still, cold house.

She sang as she worked,
And the harp-strings spoke;
Her voice never faltered,
And the thread never broke.
And when I awoke-

There sat my mother
With the harp against her shoulder
Looking nineteen
And not a day older,

A smile about her lips, 
And a light about her head,
And her hands in the harp-strings
Frozen dead.

And piled up beside her
And toppling to the skies,
Were the clothes of a king's son.
Just my size.

When I finished reading, I remember looking up at Dad & remarking what a sad, terrible story that it was & why on earth would he want me to read that poem.  He just said it was a great story of the love of a parent & told me I could keep the book while the rest of that big ol' box of books went to the attic with the rest.  

Even then, I often thought about how Dad had bought a whole box of books to share this one poem with me. I knew there must be something he was trying to say through it, but it took time & maturing to understand. As I mentioned before, I've long since thrown out the poems, writings, quotes, etc. I had written & collected, but I've kept this book. On occasion I've thought of throwing it in a yard sale pile, but I've never been able to bring myself to do it. 

For me, it's a tangible reminder of two things: 

* A parent's love - specifically, MY parent's love. I never read that poem without thinking of what my Dad was trying to say to me through it. And I never read it without thinking of the depth of his love for me & my brother.


* It reminds me that even though there were/are times when I think my Dad totally doesn't get me, perhaps he "got me" more than I realized. Dad was never one to try & "talk" his deeper points into me (not that he didn't try to pound some of the less deep points into my stubborn head! haha!). Looking back, I can see how, for the really important stuff, he always just planted the seeds & let life itself cultivate his points, until I could see clearly what he meant. 

The book now sits, with this poem bookmarked, on a bookshelf I pass multiple times each day. A simple glance at it reminds me of Dad & his love for me. To some people that probably seems foolish, but I think he must have known how much poetry & words spoke to me. Maybe he already knew that, one day, I'd read this poem & finally "get it".

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My first car...

My first car was a 1988 (?) Honda Civic. I had been borrowing Dad's old white pickup truck to go wherever I thought I needed to go. I still remember seeing it setting up on a hill across from the intersection of SR37 & Cherry Street (where my grandparents use to live).  I turned 16 in 1993 so this would have been late '93 or early '94, but that 5 or 6 year old car looked like it had heaven shining down on it to my teenage eyes :)

I remember Mom & I stopped to look at it. You'd think I'd remember the price tag, but I don't (not off the top of my head - I probably still have the loan papers somewhere). I remember being so nervous that Dad would say "no" when Mom told him about it. But he didn't. The next week, he cosigned on my very first loan so that I could buy the car. I remember my payment was a little bit of nothing by today's standards, but I was working at a video store in town part time & I didn't make much money. Still, I was determined I could swing the payments. Dad had said that I had to make the payment & pay for gas. He would pay for my insurance as long as my grades stayed high enough that I got a good student discount on his insurance. If my grades fell, I had to park the car & make the payment & pay for insurance myself. 

I know a lot of kids today just get their cars handed to them, but at that point in time, I thought I was getting a great deal! I loved that the car was "mine" (even if it was in Dad's name - haha!)  

It was a great car. It went well in the snow (most of the time). One of my favorite stories about that car came later on after I was an adult. I was staying with Dad & a big ice/snow storm came through. The ice caused the electric meter to be pulled off the house & his electric to go out. Dad slipped & slid all the way home from work in his work vehicle to get me so that we could go back into town & stay with a friend who actually had heat. For whatever reason we decided to take my car back to town. (Maybe it was the only front-wheel drive vehicle we had, I can't remember). Anyway, he got it hung up in the front yard first thing. He had me at the wheel & him behind it pushing & he kept saying, "Whatever you do don't gun the gas, you'll cover me in mud & crap." So I was being as gentle as possible with the gas, but the car wasn't going anywhere. Finally, I said, "Why don't I push & you man the wheel?" Well, we got the car unstuck, but not before he literally COVERED me in mud, snow & ice! I guess I should've been upset, but mostly I was glad to be heading somewhere warmer than our house without electricity. I hop in the car & said, "Well, I could've done that!" & he sheepishly looks at me & says, "Oops.  Sorry about that."

So we head out. Anyone who knows where my Dad lives knows it's out in the middle of nowhere & requires going up/down large hills regardless of the direction you take to get to town. So Dad & I sit ready to head out on the road & discuss what would be the best way to slide to town. He decides we'll see if we can make it down Copeland Hill (a large, treacherous hill between his house & town). We did, miraculously. As we sit at the bottom of the hill, he says "Wonder if we should try Hall Hill or go up behind the Peaks?"  Why he listened to me I have no idea, but I said, "Go the Peaks route, it's more of a gently sloping incline than going down Hall Hill." So dad, without questioning it, turns down Log Creek Rd & heads for the county road that leads up the back side of where Paoli Peaks sits. 

When we turn onto that county road, I immediately think "Crap". It looked like Mt. Everest looming in front of us. Dad just said, "Well, here we go." That ol' car, slipped & slid about every direction possible. Thank God no one topped the hill coming from the other direction because that little compact car was using the entire road (& part of the shoulders) to claw it's way up that "gently sloping" hillside. About halfway up, I look over at Dad who is fighting the wheel like a mad man trying to keep us from going off the road & into a large ditch. I must have looked like, "This was not a good idea." cause he looks over at me & calmly says, "If we get out of this alive, you're dead." I think I mumbled a "sorry".  Eventually, that ol' Honda landed at the top of the hill. Dad stops the car for a minute & looks over at me again & says, "Gently sloping my ass!"  

The rest of the way to town seemed uneventful. I'm sure we slipped & slid, but I guess it was all just relative considering the feat we'd just accomplished.  Years later, Dad still talks about my description of that hill as "gently sloping" & how he nearly ruined the practically new coat I had on when he gunned the gas to get us out of the front yard. I can't even think about the whole ordeal without chuckling. Even as I write this, I'm smiling & thinking about what idiots we were to even attempt that hill. 

I think the car had around 80,000 miles on it when we bought. Years later I sold it to another teenage girl with over 150,000 miles on it, I think. She & I sometimes joke that that ol' car is probably still chugging along out there somewhere. It wasn't a brand new car & it wasn't handed to me free & clear, but it was mine & I was proud of it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Places I'd like to visit...

In no particular order...


Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Washington, D.C.  
I want to see many of the historic sites & museums, but mostly I want to see the WWII Memorial...my Papaw Patton's name is there & I want to see it for myself...



Pyramids in Eygpt

I think America has some beautiful countryside & I'd love to see as much of it as possible. I hope to one day be able to say I've sat foot in all 50 states :) 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I've been thinking for some time about my blog & why I have it. I don't run an awesome, regularly updated blog like Cris over at Goodness Gracious or a great blog about homeschooling like Jamie at A Day in the Life...

No, I started this blog as a place to journal my thoughts, document my journey through school & motherhood, jot down happy memories & work through frustrations (which I've always done better attacking through writing).  I've not amassed a large following of readers and I seldom get a comment on my thoughts.  All of which is fine, because, as I already mentioned, that really wasn't the point when I started this.

In the past few weeks I've sit down to write on more than one occasion & I always ended up deleting what I was writing because I would think, "No one wants to read this..." or because I was afraid of how my words would be miscontrued & used against me or my family. (Sadly, judging me & my family is something some people in my life have decided is a great way to pass their time.)

Which really got me to thinking about why I wanted to blog in the first place.  And, as much as I love my cyber buddies, my blog was really, originally, for me.  How can it be for me if I feel like I have to censor what I write or meet a particular level of "interesting" before what I've written is publish worthy?

My whole life I've used writing as an outlet. It's always been therapeutic for me. I really want to get back to blogging for the main reason I started it...to write. For me. Freely. Not based on who I thought might read it. 

I recently found the directions to make a journal-in-a-jar and I got to thinking that might be a great start for getting me back to writing for me again. And, in the process, maybe it will create something LiviGirl might want to read one day too...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate." ~ Robert Brault

Where has the time gone? I just hopped on here today & realized it's been over a month since I last posted. So here's some random thoughts for June...

* I'm halfway through my summer Microbiology class &, so far, things are going well. I'm ready for it to be over, but that's just because I really have enjoyed having summers with Livi & not going to class. Still, it's actually moving pretty quick & it'll be over before I know it. 

* I've been spending a lot of time reading for fun this summer. It's something I LOVE to do, but rarely have the time for when I'm in nursing classes. 

* I'm working on eating healthier and next week I hope to begin incorporating exercise into this lifestyle change. A few months ago, we bought a nice treadmill &, although I've used it, I've yet to really put it to good use. 

* I recently made reservations for us to spend a few days in Tennessee this fall. I've always wanted to see the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area at that time of year so I'm really looking forward to it. Plus, it will be a wonderful break from nursing school at a time when I'm sure it will be more than needed. 

* Speaking of trips, we're trying to decide where we want to go next Spring after I graduate. Suggestions? 

* I need to get over to Mom's Kitchen & add a new recipe I tried out last week that had all of us saying "This one's a keeper!"...I think I'll do that next. I've not posted on there an even longer time than on here!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Everyone's got emotional baggage; the question is, what are you doing to unpack that trunk and put it away, so your lovers, friends and relatives don't have to keep tripping over it?"~Shari Schreiber

We just got back from an incredible trip to Myrtle Beach a few days ago. We hadn't been on a real family vacation for several years & it was amazing to see LiviGirl's reaction to the ocean & sunrise!  But all of that I'll save for another blog. 

Today my mind & heart is heavy with something else that I'm hoping I'll feel better about once it's off my chest. Wasn't it Sheena who said blogging seemed "therapeutic"?  ;) 

Anyway, feel free to skip this one if you aren't in the mood to hear me after I climb on my soapbox.  

If you're still hanging around...consider yourself warned :)

*climbs on soapbox*

It's no secret that my LiviGirl is unique. She marches to the beat of her own drum, always has & I hope to God that she always does. When we found out that Livi was joining our family, Toby & I put in many hours talking about what we wanted for her & hoped to instill in her.  

1. We wanted her to learn at an early age to feel OK in her own skin.  
2. We wanted her to be compassionate.
3. We wanted her to be tolerant of others that were different from her.
4. We wanted her to be "color-blind" (and by this I do not mean we didn't want her to be able to match her own clothes! We wanted her to not see human skin color when she looked at someone).
5. We wanted her to know that there was a God & that He answers our prayers & watches over us.
6. We wanted her to know she was never alone & that her Guardian Angel was there when we weren't.
7. We wanted her to grow up knowing that our love was truly unconditional & that nothing could keep us from loving her. 
8. We wanted her to know that any dream is possible & how far you go in life is dependent only on your determination.
9. But most of all, we wanted for her to be able to be herself & find happiness.

For us, we wanted to always remember that Livi is not me & she's not Toby, she is a unique blend of us.  Therefore, the parenting styles of either of our parents wouldn't work for her. As a unique person she would require a unique parenting style. We are by no means perfect & we have NEVER claimed to be.  It appears, though, that one of the great wonders of parenting is that your child will allow you to make mistakes & then forgive you & give you another chance. Thankfully, I've been blessed with an extremely forgiving child ;) 

Too many people have the misconception that we raise our children when in reality I think our children have a big role in raising us. I am not the person I was before Livi came along & I never will be again. And the changes she's made in me have always been for the better. 

So, having said all of that, I am amazed at the people who are willing to shut my LiviGirl out of their lives because they are unable to accept her for who she is. As much as it makes me mad, it also breaks my heart to see her heart broke. When she suggests to me that she should just change who she is to satisfy others I am infuriated. Not at her, but at the fact that she is being treated the way she is treated and, that others would take advantage of her selflessness & prefer her to be what they want her to be rather than for her to be happy.

I must have missed the seminar that teaches us how to program in the exact child we want.  How would that go anyway?

"I'd like a blue-eyed, brown-haired child who loves "Gone with the Wind", only listens to classical music, loves the color green, & will never want to live more than 5 miles from me."

"OK, ma'am. Let me plug that in to the system &....there you go. The child you desired is ready."

I, for one, am so glad that is NOT how it works. In a million years, I wouldn't have thought to ask for a child as wonderful as LiviGirl.  Yet, she is perfect for us. She is everything we needed or could ever want in a child.  Picking the attributes of our children is not for us to decide. We'd best leave that up to the expert....God.

We are NEVER going to encourage our LiviGirl to be anything other than what she is.  Sometimes, society (& even family) tries very hard to make us feel like "freaks" or "abnormal" when we think outside the "norm" they've defined, but someone show me where it says what "normal" is. 

As much as I love the friends & family in my life, I'm also NEVER going to let them override what we know is best for Livi. No one in this life knows her better than we do, knows what she's been through, or understands where she wants to go. I've checked, I have the scars to prove that I carried her for 9 months (& risked my life to do it) & then brought her into this world. I could be wrong, but I think that gives me some kind of entitlement to decide what is best for her (at least while she's still living with me :).  We made a promise to her many moons ago before we even saw her little face that we would always do what we felt was best for her, regardless of the sacrifice it might mean on our part. I, personally, feel that God has given us a tremendous responsibility to watch over her & raise her the best we can, to guide her & support her. I don't think He wants us to help her define her purpose, I think He's confident she will figure that out on her own. In the meantime, if I have to step on some toes & go against what others think I should be doing to accomplish the purpose I feel God has set forth for me...then so be it. My #1 priority will always be Livi...

LiviGirl is the sweetest, most compassionate child I have ever met.  She is funny, witty, beautiful inside & out.  In her 12 short years, she has spent more time putting others 1st than most of us will do in a lifetime. Most people I know would be better off if they were more like her. I know I, personally, strive daily to have some of the wonderful attributes she has. 

Livi has her sights set on something grander than this little town holds & that's fine by me. All we want is to see her happy.  I can't possibly understand anyone who loves a child not wanting that for them. 

Which leads me to the next thing that is weighing heavy on me...why do some people try so hard to stay miserable (& want others to be miserable alongside them)? Why do some people pack a figurative "suitcase" of sorrows with them everywhere they go?  Then when they have plenty to be happy about, they open the "suitcase" & wallow in things they can't change.  

I tried this for a long time when I was in my early 20s. We all have the "suitcase".  Some people's "suitcase" is larger, their painful, sorrowful times more severe, but we all have one. The one thing I figured out was that by dragging this "suitcase" with me, I wound up bringing it right on into the future with me. Why on earth would I want to do that?  If someone gave me a suitcase full of crap, I wouldn't drag it with me until next week or next month, or, God forbid, next year!  Heck no! I'd drop that stinky (literally) baggage off at the nearest corner & move on with my life. And yet, so many of us, drag our figurative "crap" with us throughout our lives. Why?

Happiness is a conscious choice we make every day. It's a choice to be happy for others rather than harbor jealous thoughts, it's a choice to accept others for who they are rather than judge them. Everything in life is a choice. We can't change anyone but ourselves & we can't even change our own past self.  All we have is today, & maybe tomorrow, &, if we're lucky, more tomorrows...why do so many people waste the gift of today sorting through the crap of yesterday? 

It took me years, one fantastic husband & an angelic little girl to really learn the gift that every day is. We are not guaranteed tomorrow & how terrible would it be if we had spent our last day on this earth sorting through our "suitcase" rather than loving on those most precious to us? 

We all have lived through hard times, we all have our own opinions & sometimes disagree with those we love, but sometimes you have to sit that aside & learn to love one another for the unique gift they are. If you can't, you may wake up one day to find all you have in life is yourself & your "suitcase" & how truly sad would that be?

*climbing off soapbox*

If you're still with me, I hope that you will leave your "suitcase" behind today. Hold close those you love the most & accept them for who they are. 

And, Sheena, if you're still with me....it does make you feel better to blog :)