Not a wall flower

When I was younger, like 13 years old younger, I was concerned what people thought of me. Exterior mattered greatly to me.  My 8th grade year was spent in a small (think 250 people) town of Munich, ND.  I was definitively the outsider, coming from Africa for my 8th grade year.  Try as I could, it is not easy catching up to speed on four years of missed fashion, tv shows and music.  I stood out, I thought, like a sore thumb.

Almost every Saturday I’d walk the 1/4 mile to my grandparent’s house.  I’d watch my grandmother make her weekly baked goods; saw how she kneaded the dough, squeezing rolls from her fingers.  Bars and pies, cinnamon rolls and strawberry rhubarb jam were on the list each week.  My grandfather, with his amazing blue twinkling eyes, would tease me while I hung out in their living room. Oftentimes I’d fall asleep on one of the four couches along the large window over looking the baseball fields.

Those Saturdays were lifesavers and reprieves to “real life” for me.  At my grandparent’s house I was just me, Melody, not “the kid from Africa.”

I remember thinking at that time that when I was an adult, I wouldn’t ever feel like I stood out. I’d fit in, I’d belong.

Funny thing about grown up life; it’s just childhood amped up.  Parenthood smashed those childish illusions of blending in.

Today I struggle with wanting to just hide and blend in.  One of our children has the most deeply caring heart I’ve ever seen. This dear soul feels so strongly, physically manifesting deep thoughts.  As their parent, I struggle knowing when to push them and when to gather them in my arms.

There is no hiding when you walk alongside  a deeply feeling child.  You stand out like a sore thumb talking your child down from the ledge of hysteria.  It’s soul crushing tears pouring down your cheeks driving away leaving your child. In your heart you know the strength of character is built with tough tasks but leaving them to learn that seems like the meanest thing to do.

No, I cannot hide when my child is spitting in my face or throwing a tantrum on the ground.  I cannot hide when a fun trip to the store to bless others turns into a “I want, I want” rant instead.  There is no blending in.

I didn’t get this until I had kids. I didn’t understand that I would a thousand times over stand out if it meant my children learned and grew because of it.  Parenting is the most humbling task ever handed to man.

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stories

Going to stories

flowersThe days have been full.  Do you feel that way too?

For me, often the morning starts before dawn, scurrying to get to emails and complete tasks before the kids are up.

I keep lists of tasks, working hard to strike out all the lines before the night sky comes.

In this season of work, I often find myself discouraged, overwhelmed and caught up in all that I didn’t do rather than strong, hopeful and encouraged with what got done.

storiesI go to stories.  I read tales of hope.  I remember that my life is full and great.

Check out these links.  Be encouraged today.  You’re not alone!

#leahstrong

Do you dare greatly?

multivitamins for the soul

I love lists Friday!

Glacier on the Move

Water and Kids: You CAN make a difference

 

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Bunk or Legit?

20150316_081133There are two of us that really struggle with stomach issues in this house.  I blame antibiotics!

For the past several months I’ve heard about essential oils.  While reading about them and hearing testimonies, I wondered if it really was legit or just psychotic bunk.

Caroline brought a terrible cough to Phoenix. So did a few other soccer players.  Our room was sans oils while the second room had it diffusing all day, all night.  At the end of the four day tournament, Caroline was still hacking up a lung and the other room; well, they were better.  No coughing, no hacking.

Hmmmm, if it works that great, maybe, just maybe it would work for two stomachs in this house.

So I took the plunge 2 weeks ago and bought my kit–I went with Young Living Oils.  I know DoTerra is great as are many others. In fact, just get on Google and you’ll have reading fodder for weeks about the pros and cons of which brand to pick.

Caroline and I have been using peppermint oil regularly since the oils arrived.  As Shrek so eloquently said, “I’m a believer.”

I had the WORST stomachache this past week–probably had something to do with the piece of banana bread I thought would be okay to eat.  I looked 7 months pregnant and was doubled over in pain.

Hey, I had nothing to lose so I slathered my stomach with 3 drops of peppermint oil.  About 10 minutes later I realized my stomach didn’t hurt.  What?

Yes, I’ve read all the science and I believe me, I still can’t figure out how it works.

What I do know is that it works!

Maybe it’s a fluke.  I’ll keep you posted. BUT for now, peppermint oil is my friend!

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It’s not just hair

When I was in fourth grade my mom cut my bangs.  I remember standing in front of the mirror bawling my eyes out.  I had this super curly perm and bangs up to my forehead.  I was devastated and believed I could not possibly go out in public looking so disheveled.

That moment has stuck with me all these thousands of years later.  For a long time I wrestled with  my hair until I learned a couple things: accept the things I cannot change and a flatiron is a girl’s best friend!

I knew when we decided to adopt an African girl that hair would be a big part of our daily routine. I remember lamenting Desta’s lack of hair the first year of her life; I wondered if I’d ever see those cute little curls.

When we lived in Florida, we had the wonderful fortune of sending Desta to a multi ethnic daycare where the childcare workers braided her hair.  At a very young age Desta became used to her hair being braided and combed.

The one or two times we allowed her hair to be natural, she stood out like a sore thumb in a sea of Caucasian students. Even at 2 years old she didn’t like her hair “big” (natural) and would ask for it to be in braids.

monberg-2009-2021I love seeing Desta’s hair natural. She has beautiful soft curls that surround her sweet face.  Not having been cut ever, her hair is long, down her back but springs up like lamb’s wool framing her face.  It is beautiful hair.

But she doesn’t think so.

One child in her class teased her about having “big” hair the one day she went to school with it natural.  Since then she insists on braids, covers it with hats and hoods when loose and cries when I run out of time to twist and twirl.

After many conversations about how beautiful she is, how lovely her hair is, today we gave her some tools. In no uncertain terms we told her that anyone making fun of her hair should be addressed. She had permission to tell that person they were making fun of her. She had permission to tell a teacher and ask for them to intercede on her behalf.

HairAnd you know what? She did.  She marched into the classroom today with her beautiful pompom curls and told that student just that.  Her hair was beautiful and they shouldn’t make fun of it.

It’s hard being the odd one out.  As a fourth grader on furlough, I felt like I didn’t belong.  Diagonal bangs with curly hair cemented that foreigner feeling for me.  I understand what Desta feels.  She is a lovely caramel in the land of marshmallows.

I also realized today that we have to give our kids tools and PERMISSION to speak truth.  Desta needed to know that we had her back.  She needed to know that we did write that note to the teacher and she had the right to speak up.

While I wish she’d embrace the amazing hair God has given her, for now I’m thankful she stood up for herself.

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The Cardinal Rule of Throw up and other lessons learned

20150223_155704 (2)When it rains, it pours.

Putting Cody down has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my adult life.  I had no idea the depth of feeling I’d have for him just being GONE.

The pain of death is the hole left behind.  The immediate vacancy of something that was.  While I’m lament about my dog, this experience has opened a world of loss that I hadn’t realized was stuffed deep down.

Cody represented our former life.  He was there from engagement on.  His presence was woven throughout so many pieces and parts of our lives. His absence marks the stuttering of new beginnings. Death is a strange thing.

Within an hour of coming from the vets, Tobin began vomiting all over our house.  He has failed to learn the number one lesson of vomit–YOU MUST THROW UP IN SOMETHING.  Nope–we mopped up, washed up and cleaned up for the next 24 hours.

Kids in PhoenixA 6 day trip to Phoenix for soccer had been planned for months. Cody’s death and Tobin’s lethal stomach flu changed our plans AGAIN.  Instead of Caroline, Matt and I headed out, it was the 5 of us.  Oh and the stomach flu decided to come WITH us.

Desta blessed both her sister and the hotel bed with special gifts all night long at hotel number 1.  I was chaperoning three sweet girls for the tournament and it hit our room!

If I don’t see vomit again for a very long time, it will not be too soon.

Drive to PhoenixWe came back to more change, more newness.  The kitchen spot where Cody lived was bare.  My work hours are increasing and I needed change.

Rearrangement of furniture is therapy.  Snow days not so much!

These past two weeks have taught me a few things:

1. You can’t stop the flu.

2.  Saying forever  good bye sucks.

3. Plants make me happy.

4. Working in front of a window instead of next to it makes me a much more productive person.

5. Sometimes you just have to get out there and sled!

6. Your kids need to see you cry.  Real emotion, real loss and real humanness is  a powerful story to show your kids.

7. I LOVE warm sun and Phoenix will be on the February “must go to” list each year.

8. The little things that I make so big,  really aren’t worth all the attention I give them.

9. A space heater and leg warmers are winter necessities.

10. In the midst of crazy change, my family is constant.  I’m so grateful!