Raise Your Hand if Your Hands are Full

It happened for the 4,356,837 time today.  As my four (not 10, not 21, just four) children and I stood in the checkout line at Walmart with their new flip flops in cart, someone behind me decided to say it.
“Wow! You sure have your hands full!”
We moms typically don’t know whether this is a compliment or not when you hear it, until you see the body language and facial expression that accompany the much over-used line.
I turn and look to see a nice thin, tall hippy/earthy looking woman in her fifties who has the look of being happily single her whole life and terrified of kids.  Yes, I looked. No ring. Only a look of horror on her face as she took in the view of my little brood. She surely has cats.
I put on a smile, so as not to scare her and rattle of my well-rehearsed standard response.
“Well, better than empty. At least they’re full of life.”  Sweet smile…turn back around to my kids.
And then,  THEN…
“I just can’t even imagine… WHAT possessed you??”
Yes…she did.  I couldn’t make that up.
I took a deep breath to reel in my inner Madea and turned around again, using my happiest sarcastic voice…
“What possessed me? As in… demons? Do my kids look like the product of demon possession to you?  I actually have REALLY good sex with my husband. And often.  As for possession, these four are the most amazing people in my life and worth more than any other  POSSESSIONS that I have.  No demons involved in that. Thanks for asking such an interesting question.”
She started to sputter about her brother having 5 boys and it just looked like so much work….Oh, goodness.
I looked back one more time and just said. “It’s really fine. Have a great day.”
And then as it was my turn to check out, and all four were working together to unload the cart very nicely, the poor cashier smiles at me… and says…
“You sure have your hands full!”
Oh. Lord. Help. Me…. Poor innocent, unaware, little Walmart employee.
I put the smile back up and said “EVERYONE has their hands full. It’s up to you what you choose to fill them with. I choose them, every single day.”
She thought it was sweet. I didn’t look back at hippy free woman but I’m sure she had some sort of interesting response.
So in the defense of our full hands, moms, let us all remember that not having them would only give us empty hands to fill.
 Maybe with a life consuming career.   Look up the definition of consumption, will ya? I don’t want life consumed.  
How about 700 cats like this lady. Maybe just one or two cats? Or how about be a lover of dogs so you can  approach a mother at Piedmont Park  walking her adorable baby in a stroller, with the dog along, and fawn over the K9 while ignoring that there is an adorable little person right there that is actually more valuable. Oh wait, because they aren’t as important to you.
And we have pets. Well loved pets. It’s the section of the childless crowd that values their pet over small PEOPLE that get to me.

Ladies, we could have our hands full of money!! If we didn’t have them soooo full of our expensive spawn.  We are REALLY missing out.

You really don’t want to get me started on possession and the American need to fill our lives with stuff instead of… LIVES.  Because if we had more, we’d never be able to take them aaaallll to Disney!?!?

You could just have empty arms without them, and fill them with whatever man you want.  History has shown that does not lead to the most FULL-filling lifestyle.

And, mothers, let us never EVER forget the women who have empty arms not by choice.
A disdainful comment of  “You sure have your hands full.” is just as offensive toward them. Those who would give anything and everything they can get their hands on, to fill their arms with the life and love we experience every day in our children.

So, rock your full hands.  Look at them in wonder and awe… And come up with a really great standard response to be prepared for the millions of times it will be said to you if you have more than the standard two children.  Because until our society values these small people over possession, we will continue to shock them day in and day out.

For extra evidence to defend my point, here are my parents, with all 10 of us children, 8 children-in-law, and over 20 grandchildren (2 more on the way!). Do they look like they need pity?  They made huge sacrifices for us.  And I am so, so thankful for it every day.

THIS is what blessed looks like. Don’t ever doubt that.

To be fair, I have a career, I love our pets and I absolutely enjoy extra money and shopping. It’s valuing these over children, even when they’re not your own, that makes fire spew from my ears. It’s a small portion of the population, but they all seem to approach ME.
Comment with your favorite response to the remark, “You sure have your hands full.”  I could use some fresh ideas myself.
UPDATE: After being asked a few times today why the statement “You have your hands full!” is offensive, I spent some time thinking about it and wrote a follow up.
Raise BOTH Hands if Your Hands Are Full- 7 Reasons the statement offends
 
Like this post?  Try one of these:
Ludini Strikes- The Case of The Missing Boy (video included)
If My Life Came With an Owner’s Manual (FREE printable)
The Generation of Play Doctors (this one is intense) 

Breakfast of Champions!! a Game for Fools

Oh, how I love April Fool’s Day.  Wait. I suppose it’s more of a love/hate kinda thing.  I HATE being lied to, hate surprises, hate tricks…. but something about April Fools day makes me immune on this day every year.  I may be the only person you know, other than celebrities with a rep’ to protect, who actually plans out their April Fool’s Day in advance.
So here it is,   my children’s breakfast.
 
  Now for a closer look… Those hash brown look so delicious, right?  Until you eat a bite and realize they are chopped apples sprinkled with cinnamon and roasted.
The eggs are always over easy around here. That’s how my kids love them, and me, too.  Yet THESE eggs are actually  Greek yogurt spread on the plate… with two apricot halves on top.
And the juice….oh that delicious looking apple cider… such a treat in this house… somethin’ is goin’ down…

Or is it that something is up with dat?
J-E-L-L-O!!!!!!!
 
In reality, I do hate surprises and pranks.  But I like jokes and sarcasm.  And the real bottom line is that I struggle with gossip and the avoidance thereof All. Year. Long.   So one day a year I give myself a break and decide to start some fun drama and gossip, about myself.  I plan for it and look forward to it.
This year, I am two weeks out from a major surgery and still in recovery. I’ve been intentionally vague about it on my personal FB page but people are still curious. Some even asking what I had ON the page very publicly.  That’s fine.  I just ignored the question until today.   And today I get to have fun with it.  I posted that I had a nose job, weight loss surgery and then a sex change.   🙂
As for the kids, they loved their Fool’s Breakfast.  I scheduled dentist appointments for them 6 months ago for today, all four of them.  I did not consider the timing, either of April Fool’s Day OR of it being the day after Easter with all of their candy binging. And I sure as heck didn’t expect to be just barely human after surgery!
They still think I’m joking.  They most likely will until I pull up in front of the office, park the car and tell them to get out.  “Really, Mom?!?!?”
Yep, that’s how I roll. Take it how it comes.
Happy April Fool’s Day, y’all!!!!!  What are you doing today?  Share in the comments below. I want to know!  Preparing for next year  and all…

Waiting for SuperMom


I’ve been waiting for the time to be right, hoping that I would know with unequivocal clarity.  Hoping that I would make it,  to be the best mom ever for my babes. In a holding pattern, like a passenger plain hovering above the clouds and waiting for the storm to pass.  To be the Supermom that these children deserve.
At the end of each day I sit, hoping that the next one will be better.  I  mistakes constantly. I pray that my children are strong enough not to be scarred by me, since I know that there is no way around them being hurt.  I’m just not perfect.
I fold laundry at 2am, I do dished a 4am ever so quietly, hoping not to wake the locals.   Then I sleep till 10am because I pushed too hard  and my body isn’t what it used to be.  So I feed them whatever I can get my hands on, and don’t make dinner until the last minute so the kitchen is a mess. Because I have to make everything from scratch. We have  various food allergies and housing upheaval. I have fibromyalgia, a herniated disk, a para-esophageal hernia that is going to require major surgery in a few weeks… A whole pot of crazy going on.
I spend my days trying to school them.  I love these days, but they don’t feel like enough for them, around my health and other needs. Each and every day I wonder if school would be better.   Not that I feel like a failure, but the thought is just always there. I am very aware that there are ways that school would NOT be successful, but then I worry about my inability to hold to structure and how it is affecting them.
My children are brilliant, and inspiring! Says-every-mom-ever. And I mean it!  They amaze me even more than they concern me. We are in a season of complete upheaval with construction on our home, changing our family budget, and getting health stuff taken care of.
One big change for our family happened about a month ago when we did send one of the babes back to school.  Over December we thought and prayed a lot about it.  It basically came down to this. Lucas needs clear structure and routine.  I am not very successful at either.  Lucas needs a full evaluation for insurance to pay for his therapy needs for Asperger Syndrome.  Insurance does not cover the evaluation which is anywhere between $2500 and $5000.  In public school he can be evaluated for free and provided the structure and support he needs.  Sounds like the perfect answer!!
It was still hard. So, so hard.  Lucas is the one I always keep with me. Mostly because he’s so much for other people to handle.  So dropping him off for others to care was overwhelming.  The school staff spent several hours over  2 weeks with us, in preparation for bringing Lucas in. They were wonderful.  We went over his need for support in the bathroom, and talked about his Sensory Processing Disorder. Because of his SPD, he is likely to be in pullups until he is 10-12.  The created a special plan and routine for him, based on what we suggested, with supervised bathroom visits and help with accidents. Their attention to detail for his needs was such a relief.  In his 504 plan for special needs, they also allowed him to have his chew necklace, wiggle seat and fidget toys.
Lucas has been there for a month now, and he is thriving. For the first time!  I can say he is thriving!! We still pick him up every Tuesday and take him to his OT appointments and he is in the middle of the evaluation process. In spite of my fears, it was absolutely what he needed.
Things come up with each of our children where we have to re-evaluate what we do.   We have to look at their needs. We put them above ours, and even above our ideals. We shift those ideals, as each process with our children changes the shape of our parenting; changes the priorities we thought we knew were “utmost” ten years ago.
I absolutely, despise the question “How do you do it all?”  Actually, even more than I despise the movie. The question is lame. No one really wants an answer. What they really mean is that you just have too much, way more than they would ever want. And it implies that they really have a clear preference for their own life.  Well, touche.  I prefer mine.
The truth is that NONE of  us do it all.  We choose in the moment, we grow with their needs. We stretch the muscle of our heart, the tissues of our brains… and they both ache and quake through the process.  We don’t do it all. Ever.  No one does.  Wed on’t have to.  We just have to do today.
I caught myself waiting again.  Waiting for something that will never happen. Something that doesn’t exist.  There is no Supermom.  I will never be her, and neither will you.  We have no cape and no need for one.  Who we are is who we are meant to be, and it is what our children need.   I mean, Edna said it and I agree.

Join me in putting the cape envy away.  Let’s put down our list of expectations. Our  prejudice on what we would look like if we were Supermoms.
The next few months look like climbing Mount Everest to me, and I don’t know how to do it. I just know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this sweet family of mine will make it to the other side… regardless of my lack of cape.
Some Related Posts:
Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is Which Translates Into Public School 
Kinder-huh?
Waiting For SuperMom

Raise Your Hand If Your Hands Are Full
The 25% Rule of Educating My Kids
Back To School, Errrr Back Home, Homeschool

Push Comes to Shove on The Matter of The Wild Dogs

This happened this morning. When I saw that the dog escaped, I immediately picked up the phone and called to complain about the lack of proper care in this matter.  I was told that they don’t like to waste their time chasing a dog that gets loose…Ummm, isn’t one of the main functions of their services to CHASE STRAY DOGS THAT ARE LOOSE!?:!?!?
I wrote this letter to the head of Fulton County Animal Services, and copied several others.
************************************
To Whom It May Concern,

This morning 2 of the wild dogs that have been terrorizing our neighborhood were captured in the trap at the side of my home .  We immediately called for them to be collected and made it clear that there were 2 dogs in one trap.
Instead of sending 2 officers out, which seems like common sense to even me who is completely untrained in how to trap an animal, one officer appeared.  She did not alert us that she was there.  If she had I would have insisted that she wait until another officer came to assist her since last time we trapped a dog your employees let it out while trying to move it to your van.  I realized that she was here when I looked out my front window to see the dog that WE did the work of trapping, waltzing slowly down the road to enjoy it’s freedom.
When I ran out the door to speak to the officer and asked her to go after the dog which could clearly be followed in her van,  her only response was to roll her eyes and turn her back on me. She made no move to take any action.

This pack of wild dogs has been a threat to our neighborhood for months. making the news more than once since August!  Our neighborhood has done everything we can to make your job easier, using our own resources to purchase traps and bait them.We have lost over 13 loved and cared for family cats in our neighborhood.  We have, as of an attack just a few days ago, lost about 15 chickens who were properly cared for.
This is completely unacceptable. The only reason that these dogs were captured last night is because we, as a neighborhood, put raw venison in the trap, instead of the cat food that is clearly insufficient. I’m not sure what training your employees receive for collecting the animals, bit it also appears to be insufficient.Here is what I expect.
1. I expect to hear from someone in authority, who is capable of making a plan that is actually effective. Please respond either by phone or in person to this email.
2. From now on when someone comes from Fulton County Animal Services to bait these traps, bring something other than a can of cat food.  It’s easy. Send someone to Kroger. Buy some meat. Let it sit out for awhile so it smells strong enough to attract a dog.  Bring THAT to my house.  Until today, the traps that have been checked and baited by your employees daily have only caught the same cat over 6 times.  That is in 3 weeks of having these traps on my property. The cat food is clearly attractive to cats. Do not bring it again.
3. We now have had a 50% recovery rate of the dogs that are trapped being let go “accidentally” by Fulton County Animal Services personnel. That is abysmal. Next time we call for a trapped dog to be collected I expect TWO officers to show up, even if it is only one dog.  And I also expect someone to have a tranquilizer gun handy. If not, they can stay off of our property until they are able to come back properly equipped and prepared to capture the animal.  If for some reason tranquilizer guns are no longer in style for you, I’ll get some sleeping pills and feed them to the dogs myself before I call you so that they will be docile enough to be carried. I don’t care what it takes. Just stop letting them go.You also may be interested in the video of our chickens, as our daughter found them on the 19th of last month (per the forwarded message attached below).
BLOG POST WITH VIDEO
I am a mother of 4 children.  We homeschool, so these dogs and their aggression are a constant threat to us and inhibit my children’s ability to play freely and safely.  They have been chased up own driveway in terror by the wild dogs in the last 2 months.  There are over 100 children in this neighborhood, not just mine.  I assure you that if ONE child sustains even the slightest scratch from one of these dogs,  you will be facing a lawsuit.

We will  continue to do what is need to work with you in this matter, but I expect to see some real action and changes in how this matter is addressed.  Please let me know how you intend to proceed.I look forward to a quick and productive response.
Enjoy your Monday,

TALITHA C. SEIBEL

Wild Dogs, caught in the cage
Wild Dogs, caught in the cage.

 
Forwarded Message from Nov, 19th, written by my husband:

This morning my nine year old daughter went out to feed our
chickens to find half of them mutilated inside their coop. A large
hole in the side of the coop clearly shows this was a dog or multiple
dogs that killed our chickens. Obviously this was very devastating for
our daughter. We have had issues with a wild pack of dogs for over six
months now in Howell Station. Animal Control and Fulton county has
shown little proactive effort to address this issue and the root of
the problem. The only action we have seen is reactionary at best to
this point. I have four children, the youngest being three. I cannot
even allow them to freely play in our yard in fear that something
tragic would happen to them. What terrible tragedy is it going to take
to make solving this issue a stronger priority for the county? Clearly
there is an issue with individuals simply dropping animals off at or
near the shelter and these animals banning together. Our own dog was
found on the street. We adopted her and is now a great family pet,
never the less still a product of this issue. Something further must
be done to not only capture these dogs, but change procedures at the
shelter to minimize these anonymous drop offs. In the mean time,
several neighbors have hinted at taking matters into their own hands
to find and terminate these dogs themselves. I hope this encourages a
stronger sense of urgency in this matter.Regards,
Travis Seibel

A Homeschool Lesson We Didn't Plan On: Losing our Hens to Wild Dogs

Down to 7 girls. It's a sad day.
Travis is out of town, first thing in the morning, as I was making a pot of oatmeal, Selah comes running in from feeding the birds. Between her sobs, she tries to speak> “Mama! Something is wrong with Big Bird! He’s out of the coop and laying on his side! And Quasimodo, too. Something is REALLY wrong!”
I ordered her to stay inside with the others and “trade places with me”. I figured she could regroup and focus on oatmeal, not realizing that in the next 60 seconds I, too, would lose my  appetite.
In the back yard I found a mess. A disaster. A Massacre.  A large hole was ripped in the chicken wire of our coop where our 12 hens and 1 duck spend their nights.  And through the yard were several of our birds. Some of them in pieces.

We all cried.

The wild dog issue in our neighborhood became really serious this summer.  There’s a pack of them that roams around, with completely unpredictable timing.  They’ve been seen in packs of 2-8 at a time.  Fulton County Animal Services has known about it since July and it has been a constant struggle to get traps set, baited, checked or even available for use at all.
Neighbors have lost several cats to the roaming dogs.  One even watched helplessly as the dogs ran off with their pet to devour it.  These are not small dogs and we are a neighborhood heavily populated with young families who often take walks with our children or play with them at the park up the street.  Sadly I’ve watched as less happy families walk by. Less of my neighbors are out on their daily runs for exercise, as the thread of being attacked takes over.
Fulton County Animal Services only has a few traps at their disposal and they’re just not effective. Since July they have caught two dogs in the traps, the second of which they actually accidentally let go while transferring it to their truck!!  Neighbors have threatened to buy guns and take things into their own hands, out of desperation to protect their animals and our small children.
As of today the wild dog killing has totaled 12 cats and 9 chickens……The dogs get into fenced yards, easily jumping one neighbor’s 4 foot fence right in front of him.  They are able to avoid the traps  that we, as a neighborhood association, purchased from our own funds for our protection.  They show open aggression to people and other dogs.  Several of us have seen them.  Fulton County Animal Services keeps telling us that what we really  have is a coyote problem. Uhhh…not ONE neighbor has seen a coyote, people.  Not only that, my birds were torn apart and left. Coyotes EAT.

I’m not sure where this ends. I don’t know what the answer is, because that’s not my job description.  I just know that I’m afraid of letting my birds out, not to mention my four children!

Thankfully, we do have some of our girls safe and the kids are watching over them carefully today. I doubt much schoolwork will be done as the mourning and the desire to protect their pets has taken over their focus, and I’m going to let that be.  It’s today’s lesson, and it’s a hard one that deserves the time to process. For me, I’m not sure how to process the reality that there is nothing I can do about this, to protect those I love. And, while I don’t agree with it, I’m starting to relate to those threatening to take this into their own hands with firearms.  What’s left?

WARNING: This is graphic . Because Travis wasn’t home and I felt that we needed proof to show what is going on, I took a video of what  poor Selah saw as she went out to feed this morning.  I don’t speak. I had no words.