god is in the small things

I was really upset about my son's blanket getting lost the other day. It was a big deal, only it wasn't. Except it really was. It matters because he matters. I shared my trouble with my sister-in-law who grabbed her golden lasso and laced up her boots to save the day. What a blessing this woman is to me!

I will let these images speak for themselves. (Sorry for all the blurring to protect identities.)

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So she posts this to a mama group. Eight minutes later, a woman who told us later she hadn't been on the group in months "happened" to click to see what was up. And the exact blanket was in her closet!

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So she's sending it for free. Made my night! And then a half hour later, we found out we're getting a back up because another mama (who's also a foster mama) is sending me one, too! 

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So just when I was having that moment where I feel like I'm the only person who cares for this sweet child that other see as a mountain of paperwork, God reminds me through the kindness of strangers that this kid is precious to Him. 

Always in God's hand. 



             

why i love early intervention

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Are there other moms out there who have been blessed by Early Intervention? It's been awesome for us. We've had three different "types" of therapists over the last three years -- physical therapy (PT), speech therapy, and occupational therapy (OT).

(Occupational therapy, according to kidshealth.org, helps kids with various needs improve their cognitive, physical, sensory, and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. I define this because I had to ask when someone suggested it.)

In Pennsylvania, Early Intervention is a free service -- yes, free -- offered through the county that comes to your house -- yes, to your house -- to offer professional services to kids under age 3.  For someone who already drives to a lot of appointments, it's life-changing. All you have to do is be home (and dressed).

EI therapists work with your life.  They're in your house, so the therapist might include playing with the dog to get your kid to move around. They might include looking in your snack cabinet to get them to talk. Our therapists play in our backyard, look at our flowers, follow lil man up and down our stairs. Obviously, a kid will be most comfortable on his own turf. So the best results we've gotten have all been from familiar toys and familiar spaces. (And without me having to entertain anyone in a waiting room beforehand!)

EI works with the parent. I constantly joke to our visitors that they are really there to coach me. They aren't trying to get their little patient to make the complicated "z" sound in a single hour. They are teaching ME as the mom how to get my kid to make the complicated "z" sound over the next two weeks.  They are smart enough to recognize that an hour every week or every two weeks isn't going to cut it -- you as the parent are there 24/7. So their job is to help you do what you do (parenting) in the best way possible to help your kid get more experience in overcoming whatever their difficulty is.

Since we had three different therapists (from three different providers), you might think there would be confusion. But no! Because wait, there's more! You also get a great case manager! This wonderful gal calls me to get updates on progress and comes (again, to my house) every few months to do a check-in and see what else they can offer. We set goals, and then we actually meet them! I really can't put into words the feeling when you once made a goal of your child turning their head equally on both sides to offset NICU neck and then you blink and you're checking OFF a goal that says your child is putting together 3-4 word sentences. What a change! 

These therapists make me a better mom. It's idea after idea and tip after tip. On any given day, we're sitting, eating lunch, while our therapist talks casually and offers suggestions that fit the moment. "He might be having trouble feeling that in his mouth since it's room temperature, maybe add something crunchy." Boom.  "That might be easier for him with increased lung capacity; why don't you get some feathers or some pom-poms and make a game of him blowing them across the table?" Boom. [Side note, funniest game over if you're willing to wipe up a lot of spittle afterwards.]

Those are just two examples of a thousand suggestions that have been game-changers for us.  These awesome women have helped with a wild and amazing transformation.



             

The Senator's Youngest Daughter: Announcement Anniversary

 

A year ago today I made an announcement on Facebook that I was crossing something off my bucket list and self-publishing a novel, The Senator's Youngest Daughter. Yes, I'd tried the traditional publishing route, but that didn't work for me. (This time. Still holding out hope for the future.)

Here's a braggity brag brag of my last year...

  • 313 pages
  • 94,023 words
  • 823 units sold/downloaded/given away
  • 28 of those were paperbacks
  • 473 likes on my Facebook page
  • 20 Amazon reviews
  • 4.1 out of five stars on Amazon
  • 19 GoodReads reviews
  • 4.13 out of five stars on GoodReads
 

Next Chapter (ooh, a literary pun!)

  • New book progress: 293 pages (draft complete)
  • 86,505 words
  • 3.5 beta readers (because the fourth reader is in the middle of it)


             

a box of dragons

We helped a family member move this weekend. It was rainy, which stinks, but you can't beat a really good workout that also helps someone you care about.  Unrelated: I have often thought that they should figure out a way for workout machines at the gym to generate electricity.  Actually, someone probably already does that. At least then the Kelley-on-the-hamster-wheel (i.e. rower) would be making up for all the cardboard Amazon boxes I don't recycle.

(Shame.)

The VERY first thing I did on moving day was pick up two boxes, carry them to the truck, and watch helplessly as the top one shifted and fell. The top opened and out SMASHED a very large glass Christmas globe, sending shards of glass and "aqueous fluid" (as-called-by-my-uncle) all over what had, moments before, been a completely empty moving truck. As my husband helped sweep up, he had to pick up the head of the Jesus figurine I'd beheaded. It was so bad. Even worse, I was told that the homeowner had (when I wasn't in the room) pointed at that very box and announced "please be careful with that one, the glass globe was my mother-in-law's before she passed."

Ugh. Shame, Kelley, shame. (Fortunately, for me, she is the most forgiving of souls and also, later, she broke her grandmother's mirror, so at least I wasn't the only butterfingers who shattered an heirloom. Boo for the casualties of moving everything you own.)

So while we were filling the UHaul, we discovered this box in the corner of the living room:

 
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Now, call me crazy but this was SO intriguing to me.  A sealed box labeled "Dragons." WHAT? Hagrid?? Is that your handwriting? The homeowner swore she had no idea what was in the box. My sister and I decided that our reward after unloading the second round of boxes would be opening this one in a dramatic way. Translation: My family is weird.

(Side note, you can see how bad was raining because we had backed the truck up to the driveway and were only walking like 8 feet in the rain, so that many drips all over the box in like 5 steps... feel pity for us.)

When we got to the new house to commence unloading, my kids asked if we were going to move again (we moved 4 years ago), and I confirmed that, no, we are not moving again and I plan to die in our house, but hopefully not anytime soon.

When you move anyone's stuff, you think two things:

  1. This is too much stuff. (Sorry, I can say this honestly because I thought it about myself SOOO many times when we've moved.)
  2. There are a lot of people in this stuff.

Let me explain: The table was mother-in-law's. The picture is of cousins. The book was a gift from sister. The dishes were great aunt's. The collection was inspired by dad's love of baseball. The movies were watched with children. The wreath was designed by daughter.

Don't we all feel like hoarders when we move? I know I did. But the truth is, most of the stuff that isn't practical matters because of a person, not the thing itself. And I think that makes it ok. I will happily help you carry boxes of memories that represent love earned, given, and received over years of a blessed life.

I have some ideas rattling around in my mind for my next book... something about a family who has had many children in and out of their house, inspired by the many stories I've read of far-more-experienced foster parents than we are. I imagine that each of those kids, no matter how quick of a stay in your home, would leave an impact. Maybe not an entire box of "Danny's trinkets" or "Joe's sports trophies" or "Sandy's old clothes", but some sort of...something. Maybe it's that one funny story or a unique memory. Maybe it's the one lesson learned that makes you react better the next time around. But I imagine that each child you'd parent would change you, your family, and your life in some permanent manner. And hopefully, the change would go both ways, and you'd have made an impact on that kid's life before their next page turned.

So, moving other people's boxes apparently inspires me! And that's the idea currently: I want to write something about foster care.  Something about real kids, real stories, and real life -- unforgettable children, visible children. 

Side note: the box of dragons WAS dragons. Couldn't believe it. Apparently, the family members who were moving have a secret obsession with "How to Train Your Dragon" and forgot (or were trying to hide!!) they had boxed up their no-longer-secret stash of plushies and figurines. Not kidding:

 
 


             

shut up, james cameron

To catch you up, Wonder Woman was awesome. If you haven't seen it, you're wrong. See it and love it.

James Cameron apparently believes he understands women better than me, though, which I think is weird. Am I telling him I understand Hollywood directors than he does?

Here's what he had to say about it:

All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided. She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards.

[I scowl.]

Then he adds:

Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon. She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit. And to me, [the benefit of characters like Sarah] is so obvious. I mean, half the audience is female!

Here's the thing. Sarah Connor was AWESOME. So awesome.  But I wouldn't pick to BE her. Everything sucks in her story, and she's alone. Sarah Connor is incredible, but I would pick to be Diana without a second thought. Because Diana's story is hopeful and uplifting and powerful and full of love AND mega-kickass at the same time. James Cameron is literally criticizing Diana for being, what, pretty? Did he WATCH the movie? She's barely even SHOWN in her iconic outfit. She spends nearly the entire move in a huge black cloak that covers her head-to-toe. NOT TO MENTION that most of the near-nudity in the movie is the DUDE (Chris Pine), just to reverse expectations for a movie anticipated to be starring a woman in a tiny outfit and all her stunningly beautiful female co-warriors. 

James Cameron, you don't get it. And you certainly don't get to tell me WHY I watched one movie or another. Because both are awesome for VERY different reasons. 

#rantover

Patty Jenkins is right on:

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And also, this is hilarious:

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random crap you didn't know about Antarctica

Is it weird to be homesick for a place you've never been? I hope not because at various times after finishing a really immersive book series or long-running TV show (I don't think most movies are long enough), I'm homesick for that world. I can't be the only person who's ever been homesick for Hogwarts or for more time with the Adamas. 

Anyway, I'm currently homesick for Antarctica. I've been doing so much research about this amazing continent, particularly reading first-hand accounts from personal blogs of travelers to the region that I feel like I'm really missing out now. 

Here are my favorite things I've learned:

  • Most people's biggest complaint is the dryness, not the cold. Antarctica is a desert, and apparently you can't drink enough water or smear on enough Chapstick to combat the skin-cracking.
  • It's not always that cold. In Antarctic summer, it's often above freezing near the coast.
  • The "South Pole" itself has only had a permanent base since 1956 (Admunsen-Scott Base), and this station experiences one extremely long "day" and one extremely long "night" each year -- only one sunrise and one sunset for the entire 12 pages of a calendar.
  • Antarctica is vastly unexplored. The bits we've seen and the teeny weeny bits humans have studied don't even scratch the surface.
  • Antarctica is super big. Here's a size comparison from NASA showing the continental US (population 306 million) vs Antarctica (population 1,000 in winter and 4,000 in summer).
From https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/icebridge/multimedia/fall11/antarctica-US.html

From https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/icebridge/multimedia/fall11/antarctica-US.html

  • Snowdrifts in Antarctica look a lot like sand dunes in the hot deserts.  And they have the BEST NAME EVER -- sastrugi. (Which sounds like something Italian I'd love to eat.)
From https://www.passcal.nmt.edu/~bob/passcal/antarctica/ant15.html

From https://www.passcal.nmt.edu/~bob/passcal/antarctica/ant15.html

  • The biggest station (McMurdo) has over 85 buildings and operates like a small city. Here's a live cam if you ever want to see the station. It has a hospital, a fire station, a post office, bars (yes more than one) and everything else you'd expect to make living their pretty efficient.

I want to go to there. -Me, quoting Liz Lemon