About Me

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WE HAVE MOVED TO A NEW SITE!!! http://www.mommyhood-shivonne-costa.squarespace.com/ As of June 18, 2015, this is our new location. Please come join us!! I started blogging the week I got married. I thought it would be nice to blog the full first year, you know, to cherish those memories and share them with my family and friends. Little did I know, it was going to be my greatest coping skill for the craziness that comes with marriage! I found writing to be a fantastic way to reframe an ugly marital spat into a humorous event, allowing me to smile at the situation by the end of the post. And now, I am honored to share my struggles and joys of fostering, adopting, birthing, and raising 4 beautiful children. It's my hope that others gain laughter and new ways to see their own frustrating life situation through my writing. Because I love to write! PS, look for me on Facebook - "Mommyhood-Shivonne Costa"

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Story

     For as long as I can remember, I've believed in happy endings. I love the stories where the good guy wins, the girl finds her prince, and puppy gets rescued, and the underdog comes out on top. But sometimes, in real life, happy endings are harder to believe in. Sometimes the good guy loses or the girl's heart gets broken. Sometimes the puppy runs away and the underdog stays on the bottom. Life is sometimes a tragedy instead of a comedy, leaving our wildest hopes and dreams to fall short.
     Backing up a few years.... Since I was a little girl, I've dealt with bouts of insomnia. Picture a 7-year-old lying wide awake for hours on end while everyone around her sleeps peacefully. Can't picture it? I can sum it up in one word: BOREDOM!  As a kid I felt like the tiredness came no where close to the unforgiving boredom that occurred during the night hours. No one to play with, no one to talk to, and I found out early on that infomercials suck. So, to pass the time and try to induce sleep, I created a little game. I would lie in bed and think about the best dream I could possibly have, close my eyes tightly, and let my imagination take over. This fun game didn't always help me sleep, sadly, but it gave me plenty of time to plan my dream wedding, name my imaginary children, and design the mansion we were sure to live in. In fact, I kept my list of beloved baby names in my nightstand for years, scratching off choices that became "too trendy" as the years went on, and adding to it when I'd meet a sweet new baby in the nursery at church who had a name that I'd loved. At every baby shower, I played each game with enthusiasm, and (taking a moment to gloat) there was not one family living within a 10 mile radius from my parents' home that didn't have me on speed-dial as their number one babysitter. The one dream that I believed in more than anything? I was going to one day become a Mommy.
     You can imagine, then, my devastation when I saw my OBGYN and was told that I have the leading cause of infertility. I was barely 16 years old. With the pain I'd been having, I was actually hoping for something like "colon problems" or "ulcers", not infertility. When I was 19, my doctor told me I should consider harvesting my eggs and that a hysterectomy was needed. Harvest my EGGS? I don't even have a boyfriend and this man is suggesting that I make a decision meant for 40-year-olds? Who is going to possibly want to be my prince charming if I'm hollowed out like a jack-o-lantern with no prospects of giving him children? I told my gynie I'd "think about it", code for "not on your life". I've lived with pain for several years already, so what else could go wrong?
     Come to find out, a lot else can actually go wrong. At age 21, I finally had to have surgery to help relieve the excruciating pain that was starting to take over my life. After exploring my insides, the doctor informed me the bad news that I also had two more conditions that caused infertility, and that he strongly recommended I "think about" that hysterectomy one more time. When I asked him if there was anything else that would help my symptoms instead, he responded, "Yes... getting pregnant." Well ain't that a kick in the head! I'll just find me a nice fella tonight, convince him to knock me up, and then.... oh, wait.... I CAN'T GET KNOCKED UP!! It's not like my uterus is Houdini, Doc! But, despite the frustrations that kept exploding in my brain every 4 weeks, I held onto my belief in happy endings.
     As time passed, I lost track of my coveted list of baby names. I started a job working with children that had been abused and suffered mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally... because surrounding myself with children that needed my help seemed like the best way to handle the whole situation, in my mind! I got "super happy!" for all my friends that started having babies, and found myself getting angry at those who seemed to flippantly have children without even trying. You know, those women that announce their pregnancies like they're soooo fed up with their insanely fertile girl parts? Yep... those are the women that became the focus of my angst. "Babies aren't SHOES!", I wanted to scream. "You can't just get a new pair every few weeks and then get rid of them when you're tired of the blisters, you 'don't think the color is right for your complexion', or because you simply realized you like purses instead of shoes in the first place!" Working with "discarded" children increased my resentment towards these mothers that continually chose purses of drugs, men, or their jobs over their own kids. But I still held out hope that my story would end happily.
     I met my husband through that same job (he was kind of my boss.... so lets not pass that tid bit around!), and several years later, we fell in love. I, of course, told him about my Houdini, and he, of course, said "I do". We were married in 2010 and waited all of 20 minutes before we started trying to conceive. I was 28, afterall, and my doctor had firmly ordered me to have that blasted hysterectomy no later than 25. Time was a tickin'! But after two years, and several rounds of ineffective fertility treatments, my baby hopes were slipping away. Pat and I decided to look at fostering children, so that we could at least be someone's parents, even if just for a short time of their life. We were told we'd have a child within days. Weeks turned to months and we never got a call. I would jump every time the phone rang, wondering if that was our agency, asking us to take a child at the last minute.... but it never was. We couldn't afford the expensive invitro treatments, and adoption was more than we could manage financially.... so with many tears and great disappointment, we decided to stop trying. I moved on to working with adults and started planning my life around new goals such as traveling, missions work, and doing very large puzzles.... anything to keep myself busy. It appeared that my happy ending was going to have to stay a dream.
     Two weeks after my 30th birthday, I received a call at the end of my shift at work. There were few words I caught.... "Brother-sister-combo"... "Ages 4 and 6"... "need immediate placement because of abuse and neglect"..."yes or no?" Yes or no!?!? I have to decide right NOW? I didn't even call my husband. I just assumed that we would say "yes" and I'd deal with the "What the heck were you thinking??" when I got home. So I said we'd take the kids. "Oh good.... we'll be to your house in 30 minutes." Oh My GOSH! I won't even be HOME in 30 minutes.... we have out of town guests coming tomorrow.... do I even have clean sheets on the beds? We only planned for one child.... where is the other one going to sleep? What do they eat, are they potty trained, are they going to kill my dogs, WILL THEY LIKE ME?? Holy Moses, I'm going to be a foster MOTHER in 30 MINUTES!
     I called my husband immediately and asked him if he could be home as soon as humanly possible to greet our new "children" (there was honestly no time for a "What the heck were you thinking?" moment). I went about 45 mph over the speed limit the entire way home, making it there moments before the agency came in to assess my house that looked like a bomb had gone off in, oh, EVERY ROOM. (Hey, I was going to clean it tomorrow before my company came, alright?!) And in walks two little munchkins. A boisterous little girl that looked us straight in the eyes and announced, "You have to buy me new stuff, 'cause this is all they let me bring!" Alrighty then.... spunk.... I like it. Behind her was a shy little boy who asked me very timidly, "Hey, do you hit kids here?" The bruises on his legs and back that I observed in the bathtub later that night assured me that he was going to take a little more time than his sister to warm up to us. I laid in bed with the little girl as the clock approached midnight that first sleep, and I started to drift off. I awoke to little fingers tracing my eyes, my nose, and my lips. When I opened my eyes, she announced that she couldn't sleep. Her brother, who'd been asleep for hours, snored loudly in the next room. And so I stayed with her until the Sand Man took my place. Before I fell asleep that night, I let myself say their names. Cameron.... Taylor.... I like those names....
     As it turns out, our temporary guests needed a permanent home. The paperwork increased, the court hearings evolved, and the numerous home visits quadrupled in order to get these semi-strangers into our family. I realized that it's probably easier to get a bill passed by congress than it is to adopt a child, let alone two. But the day of Taylor's adoption came, and at the moment she was declared a Costa, her biological mother gave birth to a baby boy. Five days later, that chubby bundle of love came to our home. Can we do a baby? What if we get attached and he leaves us? Will he think I'm his mother, even though he heard another woman's voice for 9 months? Will he be sick from the drugs she was on? I never got to read "What to Expect When You're Expecting"!! How often does a baby eat? WHAT does a baby eat? What is SIDS again??
     But within minutes of holding Isaac, I didn't worry about what he ate and what I was supposed to do when "expecting".... he was here. And he was mine. And if he ended up leaving tomorrow, I would be forever changed having loved him so strongly for just that one day.
     Cameron's adoption came and their mother had still not identified the correct father for little Isaac. We were told that if a birth father was interested, Isaac would be taken from us in a matter of days. Our fears came and went with each passing man she named. We waited for the court orders to demand testing, for the results to be determined, and for the phone call that could change our lives forever. And with each passing month, I feared losing him even more. Finally, in May, the judge announced that the last two men identified will be the last two tested. And so now we wait... We had the fortunate opportunity to meet both men at that court hearing. Man number one assured us that he would never rip a child from a family that obviously loves him so much.... he said that he could tell we were good people and that he was glad Isaac was with his siblings, so if it was his baby, he would sign his rights over. Man number two was a different story. He began actively pursuing Isaac, calling the caseworker weekly, and creating pins and needles for my husband and I.
     Six weeks passed before we heard anything. Six long weeks. I felt like I was back to that place several years ago, staring at each pregnancy test as the clock ticked by..... will it be a plus or a minus? Will I have a baby or will the baby I love be ripped away from me, leaving me to pick up the pieces of a shattered heart while trying to be strong for my other little ones? Each time we received a call from our agency during those dreadful weeks, my stomach turned queasy. I could feel my heart pound in my ears as I waited for the news that would determine if my dreams came true or turned into an utter nightmare. What would it be? But still, no results.
     This past Friday, I found myself at my dear friend's house, performing my Maid of Honor duties in preparation for her wedding the following day. For once, my mind was occupied enough to find rest in someone else's stress instead! And it was then that my husband sent me a text that read: CALL ME ASAP.
     Had Cameron or Taylor been hurt? Did one of the dogs get hit by a car? Are our parents ok?? I frantically called him back, fearing the worst of the worst. "What's wrong?", I asked with panic in my tone. And he responded with an unusual huskiness in his voice that sounded as if he'd been crying, "The DNA results are in...."
     Oh God.... oh God, oh God, oh God, please!! Please, no.....
     "The first man is the father.... he's ours.... Isaac is ours!", my husband said through tears.
     There is nothing that can explain the feeling that came over me. No words to express the gratitude, relief, and joy that overwhelmed me so completely. The moments spent staring at him as he slept, not wanting to fall asleep and miss one second of memorizing his face, just in case he left me and I started to forget all of what a picture can't seem to capture.... that was over! No more waiting, no more worrying.... and no more wondering if I was going to get to be one of the lucky ones to have their happy ending. I was given a child for each cause of infertility. Take that, Houdini! God found a way around my uterus and around DNA. He knew what I needed way back when I was planning my 7-year-old dreams and He took my dreams, ground them into dust, and then recreated them into something more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. And to top it off, I can now, finally, make my OBGYN's dreams come true.... get out the scalpel, Doc, 'cause here I come!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dog Nose

     I once read an article that reported on women who developed a crazy new sense called Dog Nose when they became pregnant. A woman with Dog Nose is able to smell every little thing (which generally turns her stomach) and identify not only what the smell is, but where it's coming from. It's like a superhero with the ability to sniff out crime.... part woman, part hound. Now, I may not be pregnant, but I believe that I was born with this special ability. Dog Nose is actually part of my genetic code. When I was young, my mother used to get so mad at me because I would sniff everything. Sweet things, flowery things, sour things, downright soiled things... it didn't matter. Dog Nose took over and, no matter how much it made me want to gag, I just HAD to smell it!
     So naturally, when a woman with innate Dog Nose lives with 5 and 7-year-olds, she is bound to smell things that go unnoticed by the average, non-special person (ahem, husband). HOWEVER.... I feel that it doesn't take a special power to smell URINE that has been sitting in 95 degree heat for weeks on end. This is the unique stench that has been wafting from my son's room for the better part of July (the hottest month of the year). And, to be a loving mother, I asked him repeatedly if he had an accident and then hid his clothes again because he didn't want to have to wash them out. I told him that he wouldn't be in trouble, but that Mommy had to know about it so she didn't want to puke anymore. "No, Mom, I swear! I didn't do that... I haven't even wet the bed in a long time!"
     On this scorcher of a day, I couldn't even help but notice that distinct odor assaulting me as I ascended the stairs towards his room this afternoon. My husband and kids were at my in-law's home, so I found it slightly odd that his bedroom door was shut. Even through the closed door, I felt the bile rising in my throat, the smell growing stronger as I neared the top of the stairs. I opened the door and noticed that, not only does his room smell like a porta-potty, but that the toys that he "put away" were everywhere. Everywhere. As I dug through piles of rubble, searching for the offending aroma, I found shoes, clothes, and the missing socks I had been looking for over the last two months. I also noticed that he had dismembered his G.I. Joe and that a large number of his toys had been broken to pieces.....but I didn't have time to be disturbed by the fact that my kid is yanking the arms and legs off of dolls.... because I had found it.... IT. Hidden beneath piles of broken toys, dirty kleenexes, and wadded up Highlight magazines was a pair of red pajama shorts. It didn't take my Dog Nose long to recognize that those shorts were sitting in a hot zone of stink. I carefully picked them up with my pointer finger and thumb, holding my breath as I walked them to the bathroom. After disposing them into the bathtub, I returned to the scene of the crime to finish my cleaning spree (which included me bagging up most of what he owns and putting it in the basement..... judge me if you want, but you did NOT see the mess that was hidden in every nook and cranny!).
     No matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn't get the smell away from me. My insane Dog Nose was either in overdrive, or I was losing my mind. As I finished bagging up the last of the broken toys, I decided to empty my son's garbage can into my large bag of newly acquired trash. As I began to tilt the bag, a sour, yellowish-brown liquid came rushing out of the can from underneath piles of papers and wrappers.... a liquid that quickly spilled down the front of this Mama.
     My Dog Nose ran for cover and I began to dry heave all over my son's room.... it didn't take long for me to realize that the fluid covering my front side was urine.... old, hot, urine. I ran to the bathroom and stripped myself down, still in shock over the entire situation. What the CRAP is going on, here?!?! Why in heck is there PEE in the garbage can.... and why is it now all over ME??
     When I had built up enough courage (scratch the c-o-u.... it was just plain rage at this point) to return to his bedroom, I held my nose and lifted the garbage can once again. How did I miss the heavy sloshing before? I moved aside several papers and realized that the garbage can was filled almost half-way up with pee.... that's at least a gallon of urine that had been sitting in the hottest room of the house, mid-summer, with no air-conditioning. Awesome. I looked down the hall at my daughter's bedroom, with a wary eye.... and I thought, just for kicks, that I should check her garbage. Keeping in mind that this is totally something I could picture Cameron doing and not Taylor, I was just as shocked when I lifted a second garbage can and found at least a quart of urine in it as well.
     Adrenaline and fury made me break out in a sweat. I couldn't find my keys fast enough. Not only was I supposed to leave in a matter of minutes to help my friend decorate for her two-day-away wedding, but I had to find my children to in order to kill them first. Ya know, sometimes it just seems like there's not enough hours in a day.... So, I prioritized. Killing the children was definitely first (my friend would understand if I were a few minutes late... besides, no one wants a Maid of Honor that smells like pee). I sped the entire way to my in-law's and immediately sent the children downstairs where I could question them about their crimes in peace.
     I made sure that they understood the rules: If you lie, I will swing. Period.
     They nodded their heads quickly. (They understood.)
     "Why does your room smell like urine, Cameron?"
     "Because I peed in my garbage can?"
     "Did you, or didn't you...?"
     "Yes, I did."
     "How long ago, Cameron, did you pee in your garbage can?"
     "Um, 5 or 6 days ago?"
      Gag.... "And how many times did you do this?"
     "A few?"
     "And now for the important question, Cameron.... WHY did you pee in your garbage can??"
     "I wanted to see what it would do...."
      "What it would do?? Did the pee come out of your penis the same way as it does when you're aiming at the toilet, Cameron?"
     "Then why did you keep doing it?, Cameron!?"
     "It was closer than the toilet...."
     "The toilet is 5 feet from your room!! Do you realize how gross it is to have someone else's old pee dumped on you in the middle of the summer? Do you?!?"
     "I'm sorry?"
     "Taylor.... why is there pee in your garbage?"
     "TAYLOR!! Why is there pee in your garbage!"
     "I'm thinking."
     "No, the time to think was before peeing in the garbage... now is the time for explaining. WHY!?!?"
     "Because I wanted to?"
     I was beginning to see I have been raising a bunch of loons that answer questions with questions and that I was not getting anywhere. I therefore informed them that there was going to be a lot of reading and writing in their futures and a lot less playing and swimming (oh wait, they can't swim, because they cut a massive hole in the bottom of the swimming pool earlier in the week.... my bad). And I certainly wasn't going to send them to their rooms.... God forbid they pee on something again, or Taylor peel more paint off her walls because she's angry (which also happened earlier this week).
     And now I sit.... husband feeling that I've over-reacted, me feeling queasy still from all the PEE THAT WAS ON ME, and my kids sleeping peacefully, as if nothing had ever happened. And I think, why? Why do they do what they do, and why does it always come back on me, and why does no one else seem as effected by their craziness? So I decide to succumb to sleep myself. Because, after all, what else can I do? Life is going to continue and they'll pee on something else, and I'll get angry again, and I'll experience Dog Nose on a regular basis, of this I'm sure. But for once, it would be nice to have some answers instead of more questions....

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


     As I laid in bed late Sunday night, frustrated and angry at myself for the poor mothering choices I'd made that day, I decided that a time of positive reflection was needed. I put on my thinking cap (which looks an awful lot like a dunce cap these days) and I did just that... think. Afterall, problem-solving is part of what I do on a daily basis, so surely I can come up with a way to rectify this cycle of never-ending fighting in my home. At the end of my thinking, all I came up with was this:
     In order to not completely suck as a mom, and to feel somewhat ok with the choices I make in parenting on a daily basis, I basically need to do the opposite of what I originally feel in each situation. If they fight with each other and this causes me to instantly want to yell, then I will whisper instead. If they are intentionally disobedient and I want to act like a 6-year-old, I will choose to act like a 60-year-old (and play deaf... tuning them out entirely?? Wait, no...), meaning that I will let the little things roll off my back while using wisdom (novel concept) to deal with each indiscretion and hopefully turn it into a life lesson. (All in all, think before you act.... followed up by a quick "DUH!") I fell asleep feeling as ready as I ever could be.
     Good Morning, Monday!! Rise and shine! Get at me, kids, 'cause it's gonna be a ggrreeeaaaattt one!! My personal goal for the day? Be a ROCKSTAR Mama! (But I'll settle for slightly less than awesome... just so I don't aim too high and feel disappointed later.)
     As with all intentions and goals, they shall be tested.... and tested they were. However, I utilized some of my problem-solving skills that I had summoned up from that thinking cap of mine and found that I received a decent amount of success. A little step to some, but a big step for this gal is keeping the bathroom door open while I scurry around getting ready in the morning. It's soooo much easier for me to shut the door and not have little mouths drowning me in questions while I'm still uncaffeinated and trying to rub the crusties from my eyes. BUT on this glorious of Mondays, I chose to leave the door open (quite the metaphor for opening up my early-morning heart to my little ragamuffins, eh??) I let them jabber on about whatever came to their minds (which was quite extensive.... I'm baffled at the amount of thoughts they've already had in the 10 minutes they've been awake!). I listened (somewhat attentively) and offered the usual nods and "uh-huhs" that go along with listening (somewhat attentively). Then I kissed them good-bye and left for work.
     I returned home 9 hours later to children that hadn't been completely awful for their Daddy while I was away. But here comes the problem.... I have laundry that HAS to be done. In my house, if the kids aren't given 150% of an adult's attention, that's when wasp spray gets dumped into the pool, seven-year-olds climb out their bedroom windows and onto the roof, and sister's end up cutting holes in their clothes and pealing the paint off walls (all of which happens in a normal week at our home!). So what was I going to do? I'll tell you what I WASN'T going to do.... I wasn't going to let my goal fall by the wayside just because I don't have anymore clean clothes to wear. Instead, I brought the kids into my sacred space (my bedroom), barricaded the baby in with a wall of pillows that would make the Chinese envious, and I turned on some cartoons with odd-looking characters and music that caused me to develop a twitch. Excited to lie in my bed and snuggle into the loads of feathery pillows, both kids gave me a good 8 or 9 minutes of calm in which to fold about 1/10th of my clean clothes before kicking each other and pulling their fists back, ready to strike.
     "Children that can't stay calm through a t.v. show certainly won't stay calm while we play our new board game," I whispered. Each kid gave one more kick before moving back to their separate corners of the bed. And I chose to let the small kicks go, keeping in mind the bigger picture of playing our new game, dedicated to teaching the kids how to love one another. If I send them to bed for kicking, then I lose the opportunity to teach them how to love each other during the game.... pick your battles, Woman!
     Forty-five minutes, three loads of folded laundry, and two obnoxious cartoons later, we were ready to play our game. From the start, Cameron was ready to do typical big brother things to annoy his little sister.... and naturally, they worked. And then Taylor was ready to scream his name at the top of her lungs (despite the sleeping baby just beyond the Great Wall of Pillows). But Rockstar Mama stepped in and whispered the rules of the game, which included "children who intentionally tick off the other players will be sent back to Start on the board". Well, THAT got the attention of the competitive little ones surrounding the game! As we played, Cam and Tay were given the opportunities to define love, show love, speak love, and find ways to offer love to those who are hurting. By the end of the game, we were huddled in a circle talking about the children they sponsor in South America, followed by watching YouTube videos of September 11th.
     The following day, my son offered my daughter first choice of seating in the car.... and to those of you that know my children, this is a HUGE battle won!

     Love, Children. Not in the poor example you see from the crazy woman in front of you, but from the examples of fire-fighters running into a collapsing building to save complete strangers. From kids in other countries that love you, simply for sending them drawings and stickers in the mail. From the kid on the playground that reaches out and shares his sandwich with the one nobody will talk to. Show love in everything you do, to everyone you meet. And don't spend time worrying about if the other person deserves your love or not. Because they do. They all do. Just like you deserve my love. I'm sorry I withhold it out of anger, when I'm tired, or just because I don't know how to love you sometimes. You deserve better. Promise to love each other and to love those you meet, and I will promise to follow the Perfect Example of Love and do better at offering it to you from now on... and yes, Cameron, even on those days that I'm "bleeding".

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Parental Grounding

     So, there's a chance that someone in my house may not have been a quality mother today. And that mother was me. But in all fairness, the little people in my house weren't exactly being stellar children either. And that's why I sometimes forget that I'm an adult and I stoop to the level of a 6-year-old. Some things that I've learned about my 6-year-old self:
     1) I am a truly awesome tantrum-thrower.... I'm capable of stomping and slamming doors with the fierceness of The Hulk's mother. The baby thinks this is hysterical, and his giggles sometimes let the wind out of my angry sails, so I have to try extra hard to stay mad.... (because that's what 6-year-olds do, duh).
     2) Name-calling is not something I've grown out of yet. Let me give you an example: After telling the heathens at least 30 times (I'm not even close to exaggerating) that they are not allowed to play together while they're in their own rooms (because then it would be a consequence for me instead of for them), I found them (wait for it....) playing together. My response? "Someone please tell me.... are you deaf or are you dumb?? Don't stare at me like you're both... ANSWER ME!!" (Cameron starts to cry) "WHAT IS IT NOW!!??" I shout. "I-I d-d-don't know what d-d-deaf means," he says between sobs. "It means you can't hear, Cameron. Deaf means you can't hear," I tried to explain calmly. "Ok. I choose that one then," he says. "Then I choose dumb," Taylor pipes in. Excellent. I can tell this conversation has been real meaningful for us all.
     3) My 6-year-old self has a maturity level of a 4-year-old. That is correct... I'm emotionally younger than my children today! When they refused to stop fighting, no matter how many times I tried redirecting them (nicely at first.... Stalin-esque by the end), I remembered with delight that we were supposed to go to a pool party this afternoon. Ah HA!! I know how to get through to them! "And guess what, kids! We were supposed to go to a pool party today. And guess who's not going now? YOU. HA!!" (And yes, I actually said "HA" because, as previously noted, I was not exactly a quality mother today. I was actually a pretty rotten 6-year-old, if you ask me!) At this point my husband looked at me with baffled glance that said, What the heck is wrong with you? And I gave him a glance that said, Question me and die, sir.
     4) Threatening to run away.... we all did it when we were little. Some of us even packed our bags and walked to the end of the driveway. And others of us used it as a tool to freak their kids into submission. "If you don't stop fighting I'm going to pack my bags and run away!! And don't think I won't! I'll live in my car before I'll stay one more minute in this house with the two of you if you don't SHUT UP!!!" And I may or may not have pulled my suitcase out and left it open with a few pieces of clothing in it....just in case I needed to make a quick get-away.
     Short of giving them swords and letting them fight it out, I feel that I've run out of options most the time. I contemplated hand-cuffing them together and making their punishment to annoy each other for the entire day (and I'm not exactly ruling this one out yet), but today I chose to keep them completely apart. I told them that they obviously hate each other, so there will be no talking, no looking, and no interacting with one another. It wasn't intended to be reverse psychology, although now it seems the only thing they want to do is play with one another (go figure!). But I promptly remind them that since they hate each other soooo much I just can't risk letting them play together (which they continue to do the minute I walk away). What I wouldn't give for a day when someone.... ANYONE.... listens to me and obeys! My clients don't listen, my children don't listen, even my DOG wouldn't come when called today. She just sat there and stared at me as I called her name.... it's pretty bad when your pets don't even respect you enough to be compliant. So I whipped out my 6-year-old and threw a mini tantrum at her, too, until she came (with intentional slowness, I might add).
     I've decided that they only thing I can do is to ground myself. (No one else will heed their groundings anyway, so I might as well work on my own obedience instead.) I am grounded to my room (oh darn) and I have to do chores, such as laundry (which I was going to do anyways). And no dessert tonight (which is good, because I have a bridesmaid's dress to fit into). Plus, I have to go to bed early (SCORE!). I really think this will teach me a lesson.... I bet I'll be much more well-behaved tomorrow.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Home Alone

     Shhh.... we have to whisper... I'm home alone and don't want break the spell of peace and quiet that has descended over my house. My husband graciously took the kids camping this evening with some friends of ours. He and our three insane shorties are soon-to-be cuddled up closely in a two-person tent while this free Mama gets to relax in an entire house all by her lonesome. (Aw, shucks....)
     Before leaving this evening, Taylor said, "But Mom, won't you get lonely all by yourself? Don't you want to come camp with us??" Naturally, I lied to her and told her how sad I would be all by myself, but that Mama has to work very early in the morning and she needs her sleep.... well, that and the thought of poison ivy all over my freakishly poison-ivy free body makes me want to run and hide until the Fall.
     I would like to joyously report (in a joyous whisper, of course) that I did NOT spend my time home alone doing chores. Sure, I looked at the overflowing laundry basket growing in the corner of my bedroom, and I contemplated the thick dust bunnies strolling across my floor, and I even gaped at the grimy toilets (oh dear Lord, the toilets!). But in the end, I decided that relaxation and peace were a much better choice. The toilets (oohhh, the toilets...) will still be here tomorrow (and possibly the next day, let's just keep it real, here) so no need to squander these precious moments on ridiculous cleaning. I choose peace for this evening.
     My children have an interesting, yet basically accurate idea of what peace is. In our home, we've been working on learning the Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control). After two weeks of struggling to remember more than "lovely" and "being kind" (both said with question marks dangling over their heads), I realized that not only do my kids have incredibly poor working memories, but they have no idea what they're trying to recite. And who can remember something when it means nothing to them in the first place? (Just ask my 8th grade history teacher....) To rectify this problem, we talked about each individual fruit and then gave examples of how we can show that fruit in our lives. When we got to the third Fruit of the Spirit, Taylor defined peace as this:
     "Peace is when you go into your room and hide from us, right?"
     "Umm, not exactly...."
     Cameron chimed in. "Then why do you say 'Why can't I just get some PEACE and quiet???'"
     "Why can you remember that but you can't remember a single Fruit of the Spirit?"
     "Hey, I remember self-ishness."
     "It's self-control, Cameron.... self-control."
     Perhaps the exact definition of peace needs a little work, but the overall concept is pretty much spot on! So tonight, I decided to claim me some peace. I "hid" in my house away from all other distractions and noise and just enjoyed being quiet, letting the moment take me where it wanted to take me. I did a few dishes, but only because I wanted to.... it seemed peaceful at that moment. And I finished a song I had been working on at the piano (oh, those days long ago when I would write more than just a blog....) and it was peaceful. And then I watched a bunch of Duck Dynasty re-runs.... and I thought of how Cameron can never remember Phil's "Happy, happy, happy". He gets as far as the second "happy" and then just stares in confusion while I gaze at him, baffled that he can't remember the last word of a one-word phrase (there goes that working memory again).
     And then I cleaned up dog puke.... peacefully, of course. But not just because I was missing 4 other sets of feet in my home tracking the puke to other areas of the house, but because it sometimes takes a little Home Alone time to remember that peace is not situational. What good is having peace only in the absence of others? ('Cause that would mean I'd only be getting me some peace every few months or so!) Peace is a state of mind that allows us to close the door on daily stressors, hide from anxieties and chaos that are constantly knocking on our minds' door, and get some much needed peace and quiet. The working memories are poor, but my kids have much more wisdom than they realize!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Board Game Blues

     Summer is officially here in the Costa home. The children are frolicking, swimming, and biking, while the parents are sweating, mowing, and accomplishing a whole lot of nothing (mostly because of the bickering, screaming, and crying that occurs during the frolicking, swimming, and biking). Although the first day of summer passed a couple weeks ago, for my children, the first day of summer has been declared today, July 2nd. I'm aware that this is the chosen day for celebrating this joyous season because we have officially hit the "I'm bored"s. Nevermind that we have a sand box (the bane of my existence), a swimming pool (better described as a large dog bowl), a newly constructed fort, bikes, toys, and 40 acres on which to play hide-and-seek, tag, or Red Light Green Light. But none of this matters to my kids, because today is July 2nd, and that means that all of our belongings no longer exist because we are simply "bored".
     When I was a kid (we had to walk barefoot to school in the snow, uphill... both ways??), we were content with rolling down a grassy hill, climbing trees, and kicking a ball back and forth. The 1980's were obviously the good ole days, whereas now, children need things that require batteries and constant adult supervision. However, I don't believe in spending $20 in batteries per week, and I certainly am not a clown (despite my kids' belief that I was put on this earth solely for their precious entertainment).
     So, after the third "I'm bored" of the morning, I had a brilliant idea! Since they're few and far between, I decided to act on it quickly before I lost all motivation. My idea was to make a board game for my kids. (Feel free to be envious of my awesomeness for just a few moments.) I used my super-creative noggin to make the board out of manila envelopes, getting out my yard stick to make sure the lines on the board were straight, using my very best hand-writing the entire time. I was elated, knowing that my game was free, didn't require batteries, and it would be tailored to the needs of my kids, making it educational AND fun (this will all be in the commercial, have no fear)!
     Four hours later, I was getting rather antsy, recognizing that the task I undertook was a bit larger than I originally had thought. But at least the kids were excited about it. They anxiously asked when I would be done so that we could all play it together. The little kid in me was starting to bounce around in her seat as well! And as I put the finishing touches on the game, I had the kids decorate the game cards with stickers and stamps. The "I'm bored"s were starting to wind down in the anticipation of playing Mommy's homemade board game. And then, just as we sat down to play, Daddy went outside to set up the new pool (a slightly larger dog bowl), causing both kids to jump up and put on their swim suits, running from my game board without a second glance. Four hours or making a game for those little rug rats and now I feel like the last person picked in dodge ball!
     So, since no one wanted to play with me, I put my inner little kid in time out and moved on to making supper like a real adult, grateful that no one was fighting or proclaiming boredom at that moment. Oh Summer, you creator of fickle children.... (But I'm totally playing the game by myself after bedtime tonight either way!!)