Once a sister, always a sister

My last blog entry was about my grandfather’s death (he passed away just a couple weeks ago). Exactly ten days after he died, I got a call from my sister’s fiance saying that she had also passed away. Of course, her death was unexpected since she is only 35 years old and wasn’t severely ill that any of us knew about. We knew she had some health problems, but none of us thought her life was seriously in danger.

I was stunned when I got the news and before it even registered, I felt dry sobs rack my body. I think I was too shocked for real tears to even form, but the fresh wave of grief had to come out in some way. I kept hoping it was a mistake, but when I spoke to the hospital nurses and the coroner, I knew it was no mistake.

I don’t want this post to be all depressing and whiny, but I also want it to be real. To be quite honest, my sister and I didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. We weren’t what you would call close, even though I think both of us really wanted that intimate relationship…we just didn’t know how to overcome certain obstacles that stood in our way.

However, regardless of whether we were extrememly close as adults or not, I can’t envision my childhood without my older sister. Growing up she was a mystery to me. Since we were six years apart in age, I always looked up to her. She was allowed to do things I wasn’t and could easily accomplish tasks I struggled with. She seemed ultra cool just because she was my big sister.

Of course, since we shared a room until I was 11 and she was 17, there were plenty of fights to be had as well. I was tidy and she was messy, I was cautious and she was bold, I was a tomboy and she was feminine…pretty much whatever I was, she seemed to be the opposite. Yin and yang, peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper…two halves of one biological whole. Maybe that is why I now feel like a part of me has died with her.

So to my sister, my “sissy”, wherever you are, if you can hear me, I just want you to know I miss you and I loved you more than you probably even knew. And as Diana Ross and the Supremes once sang, “Someday, we’ll be together”…

In memory of my grandfather…

Sorry I haven’t been around to post much lately, just have a lot going on. My grandfather passed away this past Sunday after a lengthy battle with cancer. I miss him greatly, but am so glad to see him at peace and finally out of pain. I know he is in a better place.

The picture to the left is an old one of me (on the far left), my grandmother, my grandfather and my sister. Both of my grandparents have now gone on to be with their Lord.

I have also been busy setting up several author events here in the Dayton area, so if you live around here, you just might see me out and about! I am also thrilled to say that the Dayton Metro Library has added a few copies of my picture book, “Ode to Icky” to their catalog, and the nearby Greene County Library is considering doing the same! Overall things are looking up. I also have several great books to review for you soon, so stay tuned!

The stuff that is life (or what I thought would never happen to me, but did anyway)

Do you ever wonder how in the world your life ended up where it is now?  I must admit, sometimes I look back on the past and scratch my head in puzzlement.  Ten years ago (when I was 18) I was sure I would never marry, never have kids and I figured I would grow up to be an old cat lady.  I didn’t really have much in the way of ambitions…I had always wanted to be a writer, but felt like that dream was unrealistic and that I should face reality and get on with life.

Now, at the age of 28, I have been married for 8 years to the greatest man I have ever known…and have actually been happy!  I always thought I was far too independent, opinionated and moody for any man to put up with me longterm, but my husband actually seems to enjoy living with me.  Truly, wonders never cease.

When I was 18, I was also convinced that I didn’t like children.  Some of you who know me now may be shocked by that fact, but I really thought I couldn’t stand the little buggers.  Of course, now I think that was simply because I was the baby of the family and was rarely around younger children.  Plus, I often found that my own peer groups were full of dunderheads and nutters.  Now I actually go out of my way to spend time with kids.  Between fostering, working with the kids at church, substitute teaching and writing for kids, I pretty much eat, sleep and breathe kids.  In fact, I am actually looking forward to the thought of adopting a couple of my own!

As for my work life, I thought I would live out my life working at a bookstore or some other retail joint.  An unexpected foot injury when I was 19 derailed those plans, but it actually turned out to be a good thing.  Because of that foot injury, I was forced to get office jobs (which I hated enough, that I became determined to make my dream of becoming a writer a reality).  Now I have two books on the way, have met some of the coolest writers, editors and book lovers around, have pulled in a decent amount of extra income and LOVE my day job.  Of course, I realize that if we get into another financial bind, or if the economy falls too far I will likely have to work again, but at least I know now that I can make my dreams come true (with a lot of help from above)!

So what is the point of this post?  First of all, I am SOOOOOOOO thankful that my life didn’t turn out the way I had planned!  And second of all, never give up on your dreams!  It’s ok to let your childhood fantasies evolve into reachable goals, but never give up on dreaming entirely.  You will miss out on so much if you do.

Another book being published!

Hello!  Just thought I would check in briefly and let you guys know what is going on in my life.  First of all, I received the fabulous news that 4RV Publishing is interested in publishing a book I wrote entitled “Pumpkin Pie Birthday Cake”, which was inspired by my foster son.  It will be my second published picture book, so it really excites me.  Now I don’t have to worry about being a one hit wonder!  I was very happy that 4RV liked the book because I have reviewed several books they produce and found the quality of the writing and the illustrations to be excellent.

As for my first picture book, I did receive a couple character sketches so I will share one here of the main character, who is a cat named Icky.

The book will be entitled “Ode to Icky”.  Again, it was inspired by someone I love…a big, fat cat of ours named Einstein who seems to have lost his ability to effectively clean himself due to his girth.  I can’t wait to hold both of my upcoming books in my hands!  Of course, for all my friends, family and fans out there, I will offer you the opportunity to buy signed copies from me if you so desire after the books are published.

The next 5 days I will be at family camp, so I may have time to post and I may not.  I am hoping to fit in a review or two, but sometimes the family camp schedule can be packed, so we will have to see!  Either way, I hope you will keep visiting my blog!  I love to get feedback, so feel free to chime in at any time!

Is America spoiled and lazy?

Me trying out the beds the Native Americans used to sleep on...ouch!

Today our family visited an ancient Native American village and archaeological site.  Even though our 12-year-old foster son complained the whole time because he wanted to go home and sit in front of a tv or computer screen, my husband and I had a good time.

While we were there, it really hit home how lazy and spoiled some of us have become.  The settlement was only 800 years old, but back then, they grew their own crops, hunted their own game, made their own clothing, built their own homes, raised their own children (no daycares) and even buried their own dead.

Life was hard back then, there is no doubt about that.  About 50% of the children never lived to the age of six and most adults died by the age of 40 due to infectious diseases and untreated chronic health conditions.  Most of their homes were bare one room huts where 8-10 people lived.  Their beds were nothing more than sticks tied to the wall with a few deerskin blankets.  I laid down on one of those beds today, and let me tell you, they are UNCOMFORTABLE!!!

Although I certainly wouldn’t really want to give up my comfy life to go live in a hut and grow my own corn, the trip today did get me thinking about how lazy, spoiled and anti-social Americans have become.  How would our kids today who absolutely have to have a cell phone and the latest jeans deal if our society was suddenly thrown back into an agricultural, hand-to-mouth living situation?

Some cultures of the world still live like that ancient village, in some ways I wonder if they aren’t living lives that are more fulfilling.  Which is more rewarding?  Watching tv for hours a day or creating something worthwhile, something that will last?

Father’s Day – a Troubling Time for Many

Father’s Day has been somewhat of a struggle for me personally since my father died.  I was only 12 when he died, but even 16 years later, I still have a rough time on this holiday.  Things have gotten better since I married and started fostering and looking to adopt children, after all, now I can make the day about my husband and celebrating the fact that he is a truly great father-figure, but I still have bittersweet moments when I think about how much I miss my dad.

What I have realized this year though is that I am joined by millions of other people who also struggle with the emotional ramifications of this day.  Many of my friends also have fathers who have passed away, and we often talk about how much we miss our dads when Father’s Day rolls around.  I also have friends who had complicated relationships with their father, or may have never known their father at all.

Too many kids today grow up without fathers, a statistic that is made obvious by the fact that the topic #mydadgetsnocallbecause has been trending on Twitter all day today.  I read through some of these tweets, and found everything from kids who don’t even know who their dad is, to kids who call their father a ‘deadbeat’ or kids who can only visit or talk to their dads in prison.  Many also had the attitude of apathy.  After all, if their dads never gave a crap about them, why should they reach out to their old man?

All of these negative comments make me very sad, but I know that it is reality to many kids today.  Doing foster care has definitely shown me a side to family life that I wish didn’t exist.  Some parents really don’t deserve the title at all.

So what is my point?  If you have a good dad and he is still around, MAKE SURE that you take the time to show your appreciation.  Be grateful for your good fortune.  If your father was a great dad but has passed on like mine has, remember the good memories and know that it is ok to be sad or even shed a few tears.  And if your dad was nonexistent, abusive or totally useless, know that you are not alone.  Use this opportunity to appreciate those who have been there for you and to make sure you are on the track to becoming a worthwhile parent yourself (whether you already have kids or not).  Even if your family has been filled with deadbeat parents for generations, YOU can break that nasty cycle!

Happy Memorial Day! Some sad remembrances and happy memories in the making

First of all, I want to take a moment to thank all of those brave souls who gave their lives so that the rest of us could live freely.  I think too many Americans are really unappreciative of the sacrifices those who went before us made.  I would also like to send my love to my Grandmother, father and all of my friends who have passed away and gone on to the next world.  I love you all and miss you very much.

Days like this are bittersweet.  Especially since I am in the process of getting my first picture book published.  Yesterday I worked on the manuscript, making the first round of editorial changes.  Today as I think about those who have passed away, it makes me sad to think that my dad and grandma will never get to hold my first book and beam with pride, as I know they would have.  I hope wherever they are that they can see and are still proud of me.  In some ways it saddens me that my loved ones will miss this milestone in my life more than it did that they missed my wedding.  Maybe because it takes a lot more work to get a book published than it does to get married.

I have heard authors talk before about how writing and publishing a book is like giving birth, but I think I’m just now starting to understand the feeling.  It’s a lot of work, pain, sweat and tears that go into a good book, plus you struggle with feelings of inferiority.  The whole process can be rather overwhelming, even though it is a happy time as well.  I’ve had ebooks published, but it’s different.  Throwing out a few twitter messages or advertising on Facebook is far different from the face to face experience of trying to sell a traditional book at a book signing or reading.  Especially if you are shy around strangers like I am.

I guess that is enough rambling for today.  I hope you can make some sort of coherent speech out of my tangled up emotions today 🙂

Interview with Jennifer, foster and adoptive mother

For my second personal interview, I have chosen Jennifer, a devoted  mom who has fostered over 40 children in the past six years, and ended  up adopting 5 of those kids.  Though she has been through a lot,  Jennifer keeps a positive outlook and has been able to help many kids by  offering her home and heart to them.

Q: How did you become involved with adoption/foster care?

A: I had always been interested in these children that needed help. A  couple from church fostered and adopted and I always looked up to them. As an  adult, all I wanted was to be a mom. When I found out I would never have  biological children I knew it was just meant for us to help these kids. We  called our local DCS and began classes almost immediately…

Continue reading on Examiner.com Personal Interview #2 with Jennifer, a foster and adoptive mother from Indiana – Dayton Adoptive Families | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/adoptive-families-in-dayton/personal-interview-2-with-jennifer-a-foster-and-adoptive-mother-from-indiana#ixzz1NK0xel4Z

Feeling guilty…

Today we had a call to see if we were interested in taking in a 4-year-old foster child.  Due to the child’s particular problems and visitation schedule, I felt that we had to say no.  I really wanted to give it a try, but on the other hand I didn’t want to bring a kid into our house and then have to have him removed within a month or two because we couldn’t take him back and forth to visitation or stay home with him all the time due to our work schedules.

Even though I know we probably made the best decision for him and for us, I still feel bad.  I keep imagining a sad little boy who might end up in a bad foster home or who really wants a family.  It was even harder to say no because we have really been wanting another child.  It’s days like this I really wish that we could be there to help everyone who needs us.  I know we can’t, but I wish we could.