Monday, April 15, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday Lauren!!

Three years ago I was laying in a hospital bed, excited to know that I was going to be meeting my daughter soon. I had just been checked by the nurse and was ready to get the show on the road!

Twenty three minutes later I was holding her, amazed at the entire experience

I knew she was a special little girl from the moment I saw her, but nothing could have prepared me for the smart, friendly, loving, funny, beautiful girl she has become. 

 Lauren, we are so very blessed to call you ours. We love you so very much!
Happy Birthday!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Speak Up (Bullies Suck)

There are so many things that scare me about being a parent. My children getting sick, drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, letting them drive, the teenage years...the list goes on and on.

Bullying is at the top of that list.

Just this morning a 9th grader in Coweta, less than 45 minutes from our house, committed suicide in the school bathroom. It has not been reported that bullying was a factor (that I know of), but that poor child obviously had some serious mental issues that could have been affected by how other students were treating him or her. No, my kids are not being bullied, but it hits close to home because I definitely was.

My 6th grade year was the worst. It came from all sides, during and after school, from my classmates to my Girl Scout troop. I was constantly teased about an assortment of things; my hair, my clothes, my teeth, my lips, my weight, my lack of an ass (oh if they could see me now!)...many things that I had very little control over. I tried to be as quiet as possible, to disappear into the background, to not ruffle any feathers. I had no clue who I was, who I wanted to be, or why all of the things I was teased for were even an issue.

I never got to the point of harming myself, but I definitely suffered quietly when I didn't need to. My mom had no idea that anyone was being mean to me, or the extent of just how mean those kids were. Anyone that knows my mom knows she would have gone full on mama bear on some people if she had any clue. I thought complaining would increase the teasing. What's worse, I thought standing up for myself would get me in trouble. It seemed as though the ones that were taunting me would find a way to make me look like the bad guy.

I was called names. Other kids would laugh and make mean comments when I walked past. Even girls that I considered my friends went out of their way to make me feel awful. For example, I spent the night at one girl's house and she was so mean to me that I spent half the time crying. Why didn't I just call my mom and go home? Because I thought staying was the better choice. I thought staying would change her mind and make her like me. Even when a BB gun was pointed at me, I stayed.

The worst of it came from 3 girls in my 6th grade class. I'm not sure when or why it started, I was probably just an easy target, but it was constant and it was hurtful. I was barked at and called a "dog". Making me cry seemed to be their main goal, while making it through the day without having a complete breakdown was mine.

There is one day in particular that stood out the most. It was a day when we had a substitute teacher and for some reason we had a break in the middle of the day when we had downtime and could do whatever we wanted. I decided to read a book, something quiet that wouldn't bring any attention to myself. I started noticing paper wads around my desk but thought little of it. I asked to go to the bathroom and while I was in the hall someone mentioned my "dandruff".

(Side note: my hair is ridiculously curly and at the time I tried to tame it with a ton of mousse and hairspray. This left my hair crunchy and often resulted in tiny flakes of gunk. Oh to have known then what I know now!)

I angrily replied that it was simply hairspray and was met with laughter and told to check my hair. I had several paper wads stuck all over my head. In the bathroom I shook out as many as I could, trying unsuccessfully to keep from bawling. I thought for a moment about not going back to class. I could walk home, it was maybe a mile, or just go to the principal's office. Instead, I walked back into class with my head down. That was until the substitute piped up and said, "You have one more left on the top." Oh yes...she knew what was going on, watched the whole thing, and let it happen.

Yes, I went on to lead a perfectly normal life. I went to college, married an awesome guy, gave birth to some amazing children. I understand that kids are often mean and that I'm not the only one that was ever bullied. I'm friendly and outgoing, although often too loud, and a decently happy person most of the time.

That doesn't make their behavior okay.

Do I hate the people the bullied me? Absolutely not! I would have happily joined them in making some other kid's life hell if they had let me. I know that there were times I was extremely mean to people, even a few that were my friends. (I'm still so sorry Kim!) Adolescence is a difficult time for everyone and I'm pretty sure we were all just doing our best to survive it.

Every once in awhile someone will bring the paper wad/dandruff day up to me, usually in a "haha we were crazy kids" kind of way. I have even had someone comment about how funny I should find it now.

I have forgiven the people who were mean to me, but I sure as hell will never find it funny.

Would those people be okay with someone doing that to their child? I know I wouldn't. Would they tell their kids to suck it up and suffer because someday they would find the whole thing funny? I seriously doubt it.

Bullying is not funny. It's not something that should be acceptable or brushed off because "all kids do it". Teachers and substitutes should not turn a blind eye and allow students to be act that way. (I know a great majority of teachers and substitutes would never let that happen.) I wish I would have known that I didn't have to suffer. I wish I would have had the courage to tell someone what was going on, especially my mom. I know I'm lucky that I never started to hurt myself or others. Everything could have gone very differently.

I know I can't protect my kids from everything. I know that they will be bullied, or be a bully, at some point in their lives. I just hope that I can find a way to let them know that it is not okay and that I'm here to help. I hope they will be strong enough to stand against bullying, or to admit they made a mistake and do everything they can to make it right.

And to any kids out there that are being bullied: Yes, it gets better, but that doesn't mean you have to take it. Tell your parents or a teacher, go to the principal or the guidance counselor, because your life does have value, even if it's hard to see it now. Hurting yourself, or others, will not fix anything. Sitting back and taking it will not make it go away and the bullies will not respect you for keeping your mouth shut.

You are special.

You are loved.

You are worth it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lauren Can Spell Her Name!

Yes, I'm totally bragging on my 2 year old. Yes, I'm super proud. Yes, I'm also annoying. :) Sorry!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Eight is Great!

Our very first anniversary (of dating) you completely forgot. I did my best not to be sad until you accidentally ran over a curb and announced that you wished you had never even gotten out of bed that morning.

Yesterday we both had our "ah ha!" moments of remembering that today was our wedding anniversary. We laughed about that first disastrous day, high-fived, and finished making dinner.

This morning you fixed us all pancakes and printed a giant sign for me at work. I think it's been my favorite anniversary so far. :)

We've come a long way! And we have so far to go. I love you!

Love, Amanda

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Election Day 2012

(This won't be a political post at all, just how the day went for me.)

It's been several years since I've actually voted in person for any type of election. I've had to use an absentee ballot since 2000 so it was slightly strange to drive up to my polling place (at Brenden's school, which made it rather simple, except for parking) and wait in line to cast my vote. I also had to drag poor Lauren along with me and I admit I was not sure how well she would tolerate standing in line, not driving everyone crazy and staying relatively quiet.

My day was full of surprises!

Parking really was insane, which just meant that a lot of people were out voting so complaining about that seems silly. We eventually found a spot, trekked back to the correct building, and started the 45 minute wait. Lauren happily stood next to me, singing some of her favorite songs, chatting with two ladies in front of us, and greeting anyone that made eye contact with her. After about 20 minutes she told me she had to use the bathroom and when I asked her to wait she said, "Okay." I was pretty sure she really didn't need to go and was just bored in line so I wasn't really worried about her.

We finally made it to the front of the line, picked up my ballot and the all important "I Voted" sticker, and headed to a voting booth. Lauren found a little boy next to us and entertained him by counting her fingers  and pointing out where her eyes and forehead were located. His dad started laughing and could barely concentrate. Oops! She was so happy and well behaved that I was completely caught off guard when she started crying after I finished. She wanted to vote, too and was not convinced when I explained she had to be 18. Thankfully, she got over it pretty quickly.

On the way out the door she spotted a bathroom and started running. I had completely forgotten she had mentioned it! My big girl was dry! After months of arguing, tantrums, accidents, pleading, bribing, and banging my head against the wall, this was a HUGE achievement  You better believe that girl got lots of M&Ms when we got home!

That afternoon I picked Brenden up and was happy to see that there was still a line to vote. Brenden asked what was happening and when I started to explain he got upset. "I wanna vote!!!! Wahhhh!!!" Of course, Lauren chimed in. "I wanna vote TOO! WAHH!!" I love that they are so passionate about wanting to be included, but my goodness my ears almost started bleeding! They eventually calmed down when I offered to make them their own special ballots at home.

Power Rangers/Ninjago
They voted!

The votes were split between Romney/Obama and Power Rangers/Ninjago, but pizza and summer won the night! I hope they are always this excited about the privilege of voting...and those simple stickers. :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tulsa State Fair 2012

This year we were lucky enough to have a chance to go to the fair twice. The first time Connie, my mom and I took the kids and the second time Connie, Mike, Tim and I took the kids. To say we had a good time would be a huge understatement.

She looks unhappy. I promise, she wasn't. :)

(Just a random hint: Use Paid Parking. It's annoying to have to pay to get good parking, but it's worth it!)

I knew the kids would be excited about the rides so we had to do those first. We had to split up for a bit since Brenden was tall enough to go on some of the bigger rides but it worked out well with 2 grandmas helping. We finally convinced them to eat and somehow we found the cheapest corn dogs and snagged a table. We struck up a conversation with the lady sitting at the table and it turned out she was working one of the booths at the fair...a toy booth. So of course we had to go see her and let the kids pick out 2 of the  loudest, brightest laser guns. They went zombie and vampire hunting when we got home. I need to work on my zombie/vampire drawing skills!

Great memories from this trip:

  • Brenden convinced his grandma Ginger to ride the big roller coaster with him. (His first big roller coaster!) He had a BLAST! My mom told his he wasn't allowed to cry or get sick because that would make her cry or get sick, so he ran off yelling, "I didn't cry! I didn't get sick! LETS DO IT AGAIN!"
  • Lauren went on her own, smaller version, of a big roller coaster with grandma Connie. She also had a fantastic time and wanted to go again. I'm raising dare devils!

  • The Humane Society has veterinarians spaying dogs right next to the adorable baby pigs. I would have never stopped to watch this, or expected anyone else in our family to want to, either. Brenden sat down right at the beginning and was mesmerized for almost the entire time. Eventually he got bored (I think it was right about the time they started the sutures) but before we left that building he wanted to check on the dog. After he was sure she was okay he told us, "I want to cut dogs in half when I grow up!" I know a good school for that! (Go Pokes!)
  • While Brenden was keeping watch over the dog, Lauren, Connie and I went to check out the chickens. There are some funny looking birds out there! I don't know how some of them can see. They were actually packing the birds up and one lady offered to let Lauren pet a chicken. This is what happened instead: 

The second trip was just as fun, although it was filled with a lot more tears. I guess the kids saved their frustration for their dad and grandpa. Ha! We rode rides, ate more cheap corn dogs and cheese on a stick, and finally had a chance to walk through the buildings. No Ginsu knives this year! Maybe next year, Connie? :) 

Great memories from this trip:
  • Brenden convinced his grandma Connie to go on the big roller coaster this time. He ran off yelling the same thing, "I didn't cry! I didn't get sick! I WANT TO GO AGAIN!"
I feel a tradition starting. :)
  • Lauren decided that grandpa Mike was the lucky one to go on her roller coaster and again, she had a blast. 

  • We passed the trampolines where the kids are strapped in and can jump super high. Brenden was desperate to go and squealed so loud when grandma said okay. He tried his hardest to flip over but never quite made it. He sure got up there, though!
  • He also flirted hard core with a little girl behind him in line. He shook her hand, picked up her ticket for her, and told her he liked her shirt. Yep...just like his dad was when I met him! :)
  • As we were leaving the Expo Center we heard some music. Anytime Lauren hears music she wants to dance, and this was definitely music with a drum beat. We walked over to the stage and saw there was a Native American dancing demonstration. Lauren desperately wanted to dance with them and, to our surprise, one of the dances was an audience participation dance. I never expected one of the guys to walk over to us, with all the bells and feathers and fancy clothes, and ask Lauren to dance. She did the entire thing! All the way around the room, down the aisle and back around again. It was so cute!

  • Brenden begged, again, for a toy that "wasn't too expensive." (These kids!) He happened to pass a couple of kids holding an "arrow bow" (or, you know, a bow and arrow) and Connie found out where they were located. They only had one left so we had to find something else for Lauren. At first she picked out a very expensive Horse Jack-in-the-Box, which was a definite no go. We tried to convince her to pick out something cute, like a stuffed animal or a purse. What does my daughter decide she loves? A pink pig with football laces on it's back (pigskin?) that makes one very annoying BOOOIIINNNGGG sound. That pig has gone everywhere with her since! 

Next year we won't be able to get away with just buying tickets. We're already trying to decide if we should do the mega ride pass or just get a wristband. Budgeting for the fair? I guess so!

Worth it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy FIFTH Birthday, Brenden!

My wonderful Brenden,

For the past five years I've sat down to write these letters and tried my best to capture the awesomeness of you over the past year. How you've grown, what you've learned, what really makes you special.

This year I'm pretty sure I don't have the words to really do that. You have grown so much, learned so much and there is just so much that makes you special that I'm sure to leave something out.

You completed another year of preschool at Kids Kare and started Pre-K at Jenks West. The first few weeks of all day school were rough (anxiety about dams? Where did that come from?) but you've really gotten into the groove and enjoy your teachers and all of your new best friends.

You've had a blast playing t-ball and showed us that you have a natural swing. (That must have come from your dad.) We also learned that you do NOT like soccer, which is okay since I don't get that "off sides" stuff anyway.

In just a year you've learned how to spell your name and write it with both upper and lower letters. You're also learning to read, which is such a cool thing to watch. The look on your face when you figure something out is priceless. I hope that you always love learning that much.

Instead of Thomas and Diego your into Power Rangers Samurai, Ninjago, Beyblades, Batman, Spiderman and Scooby Doo. Your love of the color blue is just as strong as ever, which makes it pretty easy to pick out things for you.

You're becoming a very good big brother (although of course you have your moments). As I'm typing you're showing Lauren how to use your much wanted web shooter and being very patient when she doesn't understand how to use it. You love your little sister, even if she drives you nuts sometimes, and she adores you. She cries every morning we drop you off at school. "I want Brenden! I want my brudder!" I hope that you are always that close.

Every day you say something to make me laugh. Just yesterday you had a weird look on your face and when I asked what was wrong you told me you had "issues". What do you consider "issues"? Sneezing, coughing and hiccups. It's difficult to keep a straight face sometimes.

It only takes a second (literally) for someone to become your "best friend". You're so outgoing and can't understand when someone else isn't. (We'll work on that.) You're always the first to introduce yourself, with Lauren right behind you. I have never met two more friendly kids.

I didn't think it was possible to love you more than I already did, but I do, everyday. Every night I say my prayers with you and thank God that he let me be your mom, and I am so so thankful to have you in my life.

I love you my crazy boy.

Love Always,

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