the shop

Thursday, November 29, 2012

For a long time now I have been trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Next year both of my kids will be in school full time and it freaks me out to think about what I will do with myself. We all know I am no Suzy Homemaker. So for about a year I have been researching different career paths, and pondering different things I could do. At one point I was going to be a hairstylist, the next day I was going to be a court reporter. I know at one point I was Googling how to become a crime scene investigator. I wanted to learn a different language and be a translator. I thought about picking up an instrument and auditioning for some bands. I am not kidding. I still actually envision that one happening some day. 

I recently realized that I was reaching pretty far. (Shocker, I know). And while I do believe that I can be whatever I want to be, I also knew I needed to be a bit more practical. So I started to think about what I really loved doing, something that would make me happy, and I remembered- Woodworking. Yeah, yeah, yuck it up, clowns. What am I a 78 year old man?

When my mind gets set on something, I need it to happen right then. So I headed to this Woodcraft store. I was freakishly intimidated by all these burly men in flannel shirts when I walked in, so when they asked if I needed any help, I pretended I was there on behalf of my husband. Who does that? I felt like a little kid telling her mom, "So I have a friend who likes this boy, but she isn't sure what to do...." I just knew they were onto me. Either way, I walked out of that store with a scroll saw and a plan.

So for the past couple of weeks I have been choking on saw dust remembering how much I loved middle school wood shop. The kids have been having so much fun helping me create toys and come up with ideas. They sand, paint, and polish. And for Christmas they want their own "workshop".

So anyway, I have officially jumped on the Etsy bandwagon. ¡eicherumba!:the shop has been officially launched.
Go buy some stuff. These two really want this pink pony.

Lots of Love!

confessions of a far from perfect mom

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I really don't like blogging about blogging. Lame. (Unless of course you are a blog about blogging. Then blog on.) What the blog? Bloggity blog blog blog. Do you ever say a word so many times that it starts sounding so dang weird and you begin to question whether it is even really a word? That just happened.

So I have been trying to navigate this whole new journey that I am on, and that I am taking my kids on whether they like it or not. I have realized that this is as much of a journey for me as it is for them. An epic parenthood would inevitably lead to an epic childhood. And on the same token, an epic childhood would require epic parents. The two go hand-in-hand.

At the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy and clich√©, I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately. I knew big changes were happening inside of me when I found myself driving around with the windows down belting out sappy country songs, feeling like I was in a movie. And I have been trying to figure out how my self-exploration could fit into this blog. So Eicherumba will be not only about our "Journey to an Epic Childhood" but parenthood as well.

Social media has really begun to screw parenthood up for me. I believe it adds an insane level of stress, guilt, and anxiety to the lives of many moms. It makes it far too easy to compare yourself to another mom and with the click of a mouse can make one feel they are falling short.

I for one, do my best to avoid winning "Mother of the Year" award. So far I am doing incredibly well. Because I am all for uplifting and supporting other moms, I wanted to create a list of ten things that go on at my house. This way you have a place to come and compare yourself, and leave feeling like a damn good mother.

1. I bathe my kids four times a week if I am lucky.
2. Ace's hair is never brushed. (And please don't attempt to brush it when you see her. Thanks.)
3. Ace had the letter "T" show-and-tell at school about three weeks ago. She brought her toothbrush. She and Archie have been sharing a toothbrush ever since because I keep forgetting to get it out of my purse and am too lazy to go downstairs and get it when it comes time to brush.
4. Both kids often sleep in either what they already had on that day, or what they are going to wear the next day. Saves time and laundry.
5. I rarely read papers that come home from the kids' schools. (Often important ones).
6. I don't cook. Like ever. I get a smug little smirk on my face and an undeserving feeling of pride when I boil some macaroni and cheese and throw some bacon in it.
7. While I have been through phases of trying to cut back, Disney Channel is still my number one babysitter. And I do not see myself firing her any time soon.
8. One of the first things Archie knew how to say when he came home from Bulgaria was "pause". (In request to stop a show when he needed to leave the room for a minute.)
9. Breakfast is most often eaten in the car and usually consists of a few slices of turkey lunchmeat and a string cheese.
10. When Archie drops something, falls down, or stubs his toe, he says "dammit". For a while I was wondering, "where the heck did he learn that?" I was about ready to go all Ralphie's mom on A Christmas Story. Then I stubbed my toe and found out.

So I may not be giving my kids snacks like this....

Be giving their teacher's gifts like this...

Be as organized as this...

Our Elf on a Shelf won't be getting as crazy as this....

(This is about as creative as our Elf gets....)


But for now, my kids are as happy as this...

And that's really all that matters.

Cut yourself some slack.

Lots of Love!

remodling the castle

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Six years ago I sat in the pews of a somber church, surrounded by people celebrating the life of and mourning the loss of my brother, Corby. I stood in front of the crowd and shared memories of my brother. My mom and sister did as well. But it was when his girlfriend stood up and read a poem that he had written before he passed away, that my world would change even more than it already had. 

The poem was about how he was going to take control of his messed up life. How he would turn it all around. I could hardly comprehend the words, until she got to one line: "I will begin to steadily lay the foundation to my castle." 

It was like lightning hit me and I realized: He will never have the opportunity to build his castle. I have to do it for him. A few months later I kicked off my non-profit, Corby's Castle. 

I knew that I wanted Corby's Castle to be something that impacted young people's lives in a positive way. I knew that service was going to be the most important component, as I strongly believe Ghandi when he said, "the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."

So we became a service group for high school students. That was my simple way of explaining it when people asked, "what is Corby's Castle all about?"

We started off with a small group of awesome kids. Just trying to find our way. What could we do to really make a difference in the lives of others...

We slowly but surely started figuring it out. It wasn't always as easy as one might think. Unfortunately, there are so many technicalities and red tape in this world, that it isn't always as simple to serve as it should be. 

Over the past five years we have:

*Raised funds to provide brain surgery for Shadrack, a little boy we sponsored in Kenya

*Worked with the kids who are residents at Boy's and Girl's Country 

*Worked with a Special Olympics volleyball team

*Helped rebuild a house destroyed by Katrina

*Sponsored a refugee family for the holidays

*Adopted a spot on the Buffalo Bayou that we kept clean and planted tons of trees 

*"Adopted" a refugee family from Liberia-  We actually got to find them an apartment before they arrived here, and fully furnish it. Then we got to meet them at the airport when they landed and take them to their new home. We taught them how basic things like running water and electricity work. We continued supporting them and helped them get acclimated to their new life. (Quite an eye opening experience for our high school kids...and for me!)

A group of our kids got to miss school to welcome the David family at the airport. Pretty cool.

We got both girls bikes, and taught them how to ride

Ruth, baby Ace, and Leomie. 

We did some AWESOME stuff.

But somewhere along the way, I began to lose focus and lost sight of our mission. I started feeling stressed out about the number of kids we were going to have at a meeting. I started feeling anxious about planning meetings that were going to be fun and exciting, so that the kids would like it and would want to come back. But fun games and numbers weren't the purpose of our group. Sure, it was nice to have lots of kids and lots of fun. And it was important to laugh and have fellowship, but those weren't supposed to feel like make or break deals. 

But we
did have some pretty rad times. Like at our "Oldschool" dance. 

I eventually got wrapped up in wanting Corby's Castle to be known. For us to be seen. Our numbers had grown and I wanted them to continue growing. But in reality none of that mattered. Last year I really started feeling overwhelmed, and I didn't want to admit it, but I felt like I was watching Corby's Castle crumble right before my eyes. 

I tried to come to terms with the thought of letting go. Friends and family encouraged me that, "you have done so many great doesn't have to be forever..." I pretended I agreed, but I wasn't ready to see the end. So I lost many nights of sleep agonizing over what would become of Corby's Castle, how could I sustain it? 

The answer fell into my lap not long after. The coach of the Special Olympics team we had been working with for a couple of years asked me if we would be interested in starting a Unified Team with some of their players. I really wasn't sure what it all meant, but being the "yes" girl that I am, I told her, "sure!" I went home and did my research and I cried at my computer. This was it. This was what we would be. The answer was clear. And the answer was perfect. 

Special Olympics Unified Teams are made up of players with and without intellectual disabilities. All on the same team. Practicing together as one team and competing together against other Unified teams. (Basically the most brilliant concept).

The team we have been working with for the past few years is called the Houston Hot Shots. Taking some of their players, and our amazing high school kids- we created the unified team: the Corby's Castle Towers.  And today, the Towers competed in Houston's Regional Special Olympics Volleyball Tournament as a Unified Team. 

The Towers

Hot Shots and Towers
Holt, Frank, and Patrick hanging out between games

My kids LOVE all of the players. Oh, and if this isn't part of our journey to an epic childhood, then I don't know what is.

Listening to coach during a timeout

According to Merriam-Webster, to unify is to make into a unit or a coherent whole: UNITE

Moving forward, I do miss what Corby's Castle once was, but more than that, I am excited about what's to come.

Go Towers!

Lots of Love!

questions and attempted answers

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I didn't expect to already be getting into the "tough questions" part of life with my kids, but I totally am. Ace has always been very curious and inquisitive, and has never let me off the hook with a generic "oh just because..." type of answer. 

She recently asked me, "If God takes care of everyone and loves everyone, how come there are some people what sleep in their cars and what don't have families?" (Side note: Ace uses "what" for all interrogative pronouns).

My mother-in-law and father-in-law are divorced and a few days ago she was asking me why they don't live together. My attempt at an explanation did not suffice, and she kept on questioning it, unable to understand why someone's mom and dad didn't live in the same house. By the end of the conversation she was clearly stressed out by it all and I was left reassuring her that Mommy and Daddy would always be together.

And then there's Archie. There's one word in the English language that I would have been perfectly fine with it not making its way into his vocabulary: "Why". EVERYTHING these days is "Why? Why, Mommy? Why?" "Just because" used to be an adequate enough answer for him. Now it is followed with a cute, puzzled little face asking, "because why?" 

We are and always have been very open in talking about his adoption. But it is kind of an interesting path that we are navigating, because although he was seven when we brought him home, he still doesn't understand what it all means. So the other day, the kids were going through a bunch of my old pictures and Archie saw one of just me and Joey and excitedly asked me, "Archie in mommy's tummy here?" (Ace often asks me if she was in my tummy in different pictures). I was caught completely off guard and had no idea what to say. He had the biggest smile on my face and he wanted so badly for me to say, "Yes, buddy! You sure were!" But I couldn't. Ace on the other hand was not at a loss for words. She quickly piped up, "No, Archie you weren't ever in Mommy's tummy. Remember? We got you from a orphanage." Archie was not pleased and started insisting that Ace was wrong and that he had been in Mommy's tummy. They went back and forth about it, before I was able to distract them and end the conversation. Ace's intentions were not to make Archie feel bad, she is just very adamant that people have their facts straight. And she couldn't understand why it mattered. To her, they got to our family two different ways but are both our kids, no difference. 

Archie was sad. Not a long-lasting, tears sad. But a quivering lip sad. One day, he will understand more, and I want him to be proud. 

I hate that adoption often feels like a taboo subject. I don't really get it. When we were in the process of adopting Archie, it was like people didn't know what to say. One time, just after we had announced that we were adopting, and a friend of mine had just announced she was pregnant, we were walking together up to where a group of our friends were. When we got to the group, one of the girls cheerily said, "Congratulations!" For a split second I thought she was talking to me, and almost began to thank her. She wasn't talking to me, she was talking to my pregnant friend. Throughout the time we were together, my pregnant friend received tons of hugs, questions, and congrats. No one said a single word to me about the little one I was expecting. But they all knew. So awkward. And pretty hurtful. 

November is National Adoption Month. I hope that the adoption conversation starts to open up and that it becomes less "different". I hope that some day the response to finding out someone is adopted will change from the typical, "oh my gosh, really? He's adopted?? I had no idea.." to "oh cool". 

A few months ago when he had his summer cut, Archie found an old picture of Joey and came running up to me holding it screaming, "Mommy, Mommy, Archie like Daddy!!" He was so thrilled that he looked just like his Daddy. 

I see it too, buddy. 

Lots of Love!