What I’ve Been Up To: January

Well hey there!

The last month has flown past while I’ve been busy writing, designing, coding, and, oh yeah – loving on my babies and my husband.

Here is some of what I’ve been up to:

Fighting the flu. The reports aren’t exaggerating — this strain is stubborn.

Finally answering (nearly) every imaginable question about going (and staying) shampoo free: Shampoo Free FAQ. If you have any additional questions, please ask! Not kidding –  I’m happy to help anyone considering this.

Trying out other uses for baking soda (since I knew it had to be for more than just baking, hair care and cleaning counter tops).

Watching Alabama’s victory over Notre Dame (Roll Tide!!)

Helping Abbie finalize her application to ASFA.

Inviting y’all to come visit us in Birmingham. Seriously. It’s on Jetsetter.com’s list of the 6 places to visit in 2013.

Continuing to update on the latest Resources and News for parents and educators of gifted and twice exceptional children.

Creating some logos, web designs and graphics that I’m super proud of. I can’t wait for them to go live.

Taking the kids to Tuscaloosa for the first time, so they could watch the BCS Championship parade.

And, starting today, this:

 What Ive Been Up To: January What Ive Been Up To: January
The Plan What Ive Been Up To: January.

I happened to catch a post from Missy, at Almost Naptime, where she mentioned the book and that she was going to start on it. She mentioned that it is an anti-inflammatory diet, and that even foods that are healthy can cause inflammatory reactions.  That caught my attention, so I sought out more information. I had a lot of questions and have watched her go through the first week and half (I’ve messaged her a lot… bless her heart…)

(Even though I do not have a Kindle, I downloaded the Kindle app and purchased the Kindle version What Ive Been Up To: January, and HELLO! I love the Kindle app on my iPhone/iMac/Macbook Air! Highlighting, bookmarking… heaven…)

By the time  you read this, I will have already weighed myself and drunk/drank/drinken (heh) 16 ounces of water with lemon juice (after weighing myself, thank you…), had a cup of dandelion tea for liver support, and eaten some flax seed granola with blueberries.

Why?

Because despite the fact that for the last 3 years I’ve been eating healthier than ever, I have struggled with chronic pain/autoimmune issues and, though I run 4 days a week, a slight weight gain. I want to find out if I’m reactive to any of the healthy foods I am eating, and I don’t want ‘slight’ to turn into ‘major’.

Speaking of my chronic pain, several people have asked and I still plan on having my IUD removed. Because I’m a new patient, I had to wait for an appointment, so I will keep updating here as I figure things out. It will hopefully be removed next month.

What are y’all up to? Do tell.

(The book link above is an affiliate link. If you purchase it using the link, I’ll toast you with some dandelion tea… thanks. ;) )

Wrapping Our Heads Around Another New Reality

4 kidz w500 h1000 Wrapping Our Heads Around Another New Reality

This week, the kids are at their bio-dad’s. It’s their first long visit since last December; only their 3rd visit in that time.

The past two years, visits have been very few and far-between, but recently, he has decided to get them one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer, and a couple of other times during the year.

It’s all been very stressful. When he wasn’t seeing them regularly (and for a long while, not calling) there was a certain mindset I had to go into, in order to shield the children from the reality of the situation. They, too, had to try to make sense of the things that they were aware of, and how things went when they did visit him. They met many different girlfriends/fiancees during that time, and stayed at different places; all very confusing.

But, they adjusted, and coped rather well with the absence. They’ve always been good about asking questions and they asked a lot of them:

Why didn’t he call… again?
Why didn’t he come down for a weekend, when he promised he would?
Why doesn’t he write letters back?

You know, the stuff that screws with anyone, but especially a child.

Every situation is different, and so is every parent/child relationship. Our children want to know things and will drill down to get to the answer. They also know when you are bullshitting them. So, while I haven’t divulged every detail, I haven’t lied and I didn’t sugar-coat what I did tell did them.

Having their reality explained to them in terms that they can grasp, while also knowing, without a doubt, that they are safe, secure and loved, has been a healing balm for them.

We moved forward and created a new normal. One with an absentee father. Because we had too.

But now, we are having to adjust. Again. And it’s been difficult for all of us, because, once again, we are having to wrap our heads around a new reality for them. For our family.

I still feel the need to protect them, and be on guard.

I am, cautiously, thankful that they will now have (*fingers crossed*) regular visits with him.

I am nervous that he will slip back into his old ways, but praying he doesn’t.

I am amazed by the resiliency of children.

*holding breath*

Just Write

This blog is my spot for sifting through my deeper, not-always-pretty thoughts. For the less gritty version of me, be sure to check out my other site: Living The Life Fantastic, where I blog about how we’ve been happily moving forward.

Poverty in America. It’s bigger than you realize.

Yesterday, I was reading an article in the Huffington Post on extreme poverty in the US.

The statistics are staggering.

Last fall, the Census Bureau revealed a troubling statistic: A full 6.7 percent of Americans, or roughly 20.5 million people, were earning less than half the official poverty rate — a category generally known as “extreme poverty.” For a family of four, including two dependent children, that would amount to an annual income of about $11,000 or less.

Nearly half of all Americans who are considered poor at all fall into this category.

20.5 (TWENTY. POINT FIVE. MILLION.)

That is mind-boggling to me.

I’m not going to go over the entire article; you can read it, and I hope you will.

But the article brought several things to an overflowing boiling point in my mind. Things that I’ve had swirling around in my head and have tried to capture and put to words over the last several months. Yet I’ve continually felt both incapable and inadequate of attempting.

I still feel both incapable and inadequate of attempting, but I’ve come to realize that that is part of the problem.

Why bother?
My voice won’t matter.
How can one person make a difference.
I don’t know enough to back up my thoughts in a heated discussion.

And that attitude does nothing to offset the alternative drumbeat of those screaming for the poor to “just stay in school” and “get a job”.

I’ve been poor. As a college-educated adult, with children.

But I’ve never gone hungry for days.

Millions of children and adults do daily.

When you are hungry, not much else matters.

One of my student teaching practicums in college was at a school that butted up to a trailer park in rural WV.

I came in doe-eyed, with big ideas of what I wanted to teach the children and what I wanted them to learn.

One day, early on, as I was sharing my ideas and lesson plans with the classroom teacher, she looked me straight in the eye and said: “You have a lot of great lessons there. But you need to know this: these kids don’t care one bit about the environment or recycling.

They are worried their mama won’t be home when they get out of school. That dad’s kicked her out. Or whether they’ll have any more food in their stomachs between now and tomorrow.”

Stunned, I gathered my emotions and resolved to rethink my plans.

Fast foward 18 years, 4 kids, and a million life experiences later.

I get what that teacher told me. I’ve lived some of it.

I hear her words ringing in my mind.

Yet those children are still forgotten and overlooked.

They are in your child’s class.
You sit next to them at traffic lights.
Their mother’s wait on you at the grocery store.

They are in a cycle they can’t easily escape. Yet we sit on the sidelines judging and condemning them as lazy, ignorant or less-than.

That does nothing.

In fact, it’s that very attitude that has made me, a once upon a time, (very) conservative Christian, reconsider so much of what I think in terms of policies and politics, moving me further and further away from the “here’s a $50 bill” party I’ve long belonged.

It no longer seems adequate or appropriate to look away and wait for others to take care of it, while chipping away at their help and assistance.

I’m looking to be part of the solution. To show love to someone who desperately needs it.

20.5 million people in America are waiting for that.

And the change starts with me.

“He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker” (Proverbs 17:5)

What Defines a Woman… [scratch that] a Person?

 

braver than you think r100 What Defines a Woman... [scratch that] a Person?

I’m sitting at the table tonight while my four children are getting ready for bed.

The eleven year old asks a question about something she’d like to purchase with money she has recently acquired.

Somehow, said eleven year old ends up weeping on her bed… overwhelmed by the choices she faces in the years ahead of her.

When she walks back into the kitchen, hair disheveled, nose red, eyes swollen, it is hard for me to breathe.

She is me. Crying as a child, the only daughter, realizing that one day, I would be the only one in my family with a different last name.

Why are you crying?”, my parents asked.

When I get married, I will no longer be a ‘VanBibber’. I will be different from the rest of you“, I replied.

Tonight’s conversation was that. And yet it also veered so far from those sentiments.

Why are you crying?”, we asked.

The girls in my class already know what they want to do when they grow up“, she replied.

But so do you. You want to own your own animation company and create cartoons. Have a cat of your own. See the world.”

(blank stare)

Oh…

Their plan is to get married, have children and own a big giant house.

Suddenly, my self-confident child, so sure of her purpose and dreams, is doubtful.

Her dreams don’t look like everyone else’s.

And that makes her a target.

We want everyone to look like us. Dream like us. Think like us.

It makes us feel better about our own choices, doesn’t it?

But that doesn’t make those choices better, or more right for us.

And that doesn’t make them any more likely to come true. If being my own independent-free-spirited self and having four children has taught me anything it’s this: We aren’t all cut from the same cloth.

We all have different purposes, hopes and dreams.

Mama and Riggy, can I call you anytime I need advice, when I grow up?

Of course, Sweetness. We are always here for you.

Just be you, my sweet girl.

Just be you.

linked up with Just Write

Homemade Ice Cream

IMG 67611 300x300 Homemade Ice Cream

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the homemade popsicles we made for the kids to have on ice cream day at school. This week, I finally got around to posting the recipe on Living The Life Fantastic. You can read it here.

It’s so simple and delicious. You don’t even need an ice cream maker, but frankly, I enjoy the process and the grinding sound of the ice cream maker; brings back memories of summers while growing up.

For the popsicles, we make the base (the cream and sugar) and add sliced strawberries, bananas or cherries and simply poured them into popsicle molds and froze them.

Let me know if you try them!

Enjoy!