A Glimpse Into the Life of a Co-sleeping Mama Bear 

 For the past couple of months we’ve been staying with a family member, awaiting the closing on our new home. Because our move was so abrupt, the hubs and I have been circumstantially sharing an 11×13 room with our 5 year old boy/girl twins, 4 year son, and 2 year old daughter. While being so close to my dear family, I’ve learned that my 2 year old daughter talks to herself and sounds like she’s hooked up to an amp. Our very strong 4 year old is quite the fighter in his sleep. Not a good co-sleeper at all unless you like Brazilian jiu jitsu moves performed on you. Mr. BJ, our 5 year old son, who sleeps alone in a toddler bed a few inches away from our bed, grinds his teeth and tosses and turns all night long fighting with his blanket. Our sweet 5 year old daughter Naomi likes to cuddle with mama when she finally goes to sleep which is usually around midnight. She’s our little night owl who sneaks out of the room at least 3 or 4 times during the night. 

This situation has been slightly uncomfortable and tad bit unconventional but I absolutely love it, now. Beyond the constant yells of “Be quiet!” , “Give me my blanket!”, “Eww who fart it!” I feel like we’ve grown closer as a family than ever before. I stare at their sweet faces throughout the night and smile as I know that they are loved, comfortable and safe.

I’m not sure what our sleeping dynamic will look like when we finally move into our new home (next week, hooray!!!) We will cut the umbilical cord again from all 4 kids (mom AND dad this time) and I’m obviously struggling with the thought of that. I seriously didn’t think that this would be bittersweet but it is. This hasn’t been the most preferred sleeping arrangement, however, I have to confess that I will definitely miss hibernating with my little cubbies. I’ll have to convince my hubby to allow us to co-sleep at least one night a month. We’ll see how THAT goes. 

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“Losing Johnny: The constant flow of tears have dwindled but my heart never stops crying.”

October 2nd, 2005:

Johnny: “Don’t forget to call and check on me, okay?” 

Me: “Okay, I Love You”.

Johnny: “Love you too…”

October 5th, 2005: The day I lost the greatest gift my parents have ever given to my sister and me, our little brother…Johnny.

The final dialogue I had with my 16 year old brother, who I thought had a bad case of the flu, are words that are tattooed on my brain. Words that haunt me yet simultaneously bring me great joy because I know they were significant and sincere…

It has been 11 years since Johnny has passed but the grief is still ebbing and flowing in my heart. Everyone grieves in their own way but here are 3 personal actions that have helped me experience joy after this tragic loss.

1. Keep reading God’s Word. 

As you read, the Holy Spirit will strengthen your faith and stop you from falling into depression. The strength you need to regain from the massive loss of a loved one is not attainable without God’s help.

2. Try to remember the happy times and share your memories with others (especially your children). 

My children and I look at pictures together and we talk about their Uncle Johnny all the time. Whatever you do, try not to make your lost loved one a forbidden subject. I’ve been around people who don’t even want to mention their name let alone stories of them. If we cherish the memories of our diseased loved one, shouldn’t we share them?

3. Do something in honor of that loved one’s memory regularly.

It’s a great way to keep their memory alive and carry on their legacy. My brother was an avid giver. When Johnny was about 8 years old, he ‘found’ $200 dollars in my dad’s pants pocket and decided to distribute the $20 bills to most the kids in the neighborhood. They all went to the store to buy candy and water guns compliments to my hard-working dad. So every year, I give to the MRSA Foundation in honor of him. My family has also given college scholarships to young students at his former high school, in Zion, IL and Tallahassee, Florida.

“Those whom we have loved never really leave us. They live on forever in our hearts, and cast their radiant light onto our every shadow.” ~Sylvana Rossetti

Humility + Obedience = Breakthrough

via Daily Prompt: Breakthrough

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“What is God asking you to do?” was the daunting question my pastor asked during her sermon yesterday afternoon. The question that still dwells in the core of my heart and cavity of my brain… I’m aware of what God has asked me to do now I feel like He’s telling me to start doing more. But I don’t want to do more, right now. I’m already struggling with my current responsibilities! But I can’t help but ponder… If my obedience and breakthrough, or the lack thereof, could determine the destiny of others (including my children), maybe I need to just humble myself and obey.

The story of Abraham and his obedience (referenced in my pastor’s sermon yesterday) was a reminder for me to re-evaluate my heart and way of thinking. It was revealed to me that I don’t determine my level of sacrifice, God does and I have to continue to TRUST Him. I can only see breakthrough in my life if I choose to obey Him. Even though I’ve felt like my level a sacrifice (while trying to be obedient) has been high enough in the last 2 years of my life, I still have to consider that God could be asking more of me for a reason deeper than what I could even fathom. Our God is omniscient! He already knows what I need to do and the outcome.

These words have made me sit down and evaluate my life’s purpose, breakthrough and progression toward them both. I hope they will give you a fresh revelation about your life.

 

 

Can We Quit, Please???? (Part 2 of my 5-year twins’ basketball experience)

Last Saturday, my twins (daughter and son) played in their first basketball game and I wrote about it my previous post. It was not a good experience for my kids or ME for that matter (Click here to read it if you haven’t already)! It had nothing to do with the program itself, which is awesome by the way, but everything to do with me, my children and my expectations of them. I’ve said to a few readers that it would be better this week because dad will be with them this time.  Well….I was wrong; it was BAD. Really BAD… like Donald Trump’s latest speeches, BAD. And the game ended with me running out of gym searching for my daughter, who ran off of the court seeming to have disappeared into the thin air. She was hiding in the bathroom. When we finally found our missing daughter, we loaded up the car and I could no longer hold back!  The waterworks of frustration spilled and the words came shortly after. Frustrated because my son and daughter are struggling and mom could not help. Essentially because daddy is the one who coaches and mom needs to tend to the younger brother and sister.

During the dreaded ride home, I explained to my husband that playing a full court, 5 on 5 game with whistles and buzzers on 8 foot goals is too much for OUR children right now. As if, my son’s twirling around in circles not knowing if he’s on defense or offense and only touching the ball once because his experienced teammates realize he has no clue what he’s doing. I hoped that my daughter hanging on his leg the whole game (with her pink fall jacket on) and running off of the court in tears wasn’t enough evidence. I would cringe every time I heard one of the players uncles yelling at him, asking if he was slow (mentally delayed) or something every time he did the opposite of what he’d instructed. You see, I’ve coached children this age before and learned that all children are on different levels and need certain drills, training, and attention before you put them in a full blown game.  It crushes their confidence when they can’t even touch the ball, have no idea what to do with it, and shot gets no where near the end of the net let alone the rim! The experience becomes traumatic and they will lose interest before they could even improve. *sigh*

I really wanted to believe that it would be better today. Maybe I was just trying to be optimistic because I didn’t think any experience could be worse than last weeks. I mean, what’s worse than parents yelling at their kids from the sideline, rolling their eyes at the clock keeping mom (me), my kids crying and running off the court and a leader in the program telling you that they think they still give out ‘Most Improved’ awards. Allowing our kids to play in these games were like throwing them in the deep water for the first time and telling them to swim. Watching them gasp for air as they bob up and down with the fear of death in their eyes, bound to drown… I guess there’s still this microscopic fragment of hope that my kids will eventually develop an early interest in mommy and daddy’s favorite sport. My son is still clueless but at least he’s staying in the game. As a mom and former coach, it’s very difficult to watch this happen and the only thing I can do is try to encourage them and practice later.

Maybe I looking to deeply into thus but I just feel as parents, we must strive to be the best advocates for our children (especially at this young age) not humiliate them. Our children rely on us to always have their best interest and if we get caught up in what we desire for them, without even considering their gifts, talents and interests, we deprive them of reaching their full potential. I don’t want to encourage them to become professional quitters like their mama has been said to be, but I think we do need to teach them that it’s okay to postpone certain things in your life. I have no idea what we are going to do about our twins because it has to be a mutual agreement between my husband and I, however, I’m pretty sure from the tone of this post I’ve made my opinion crystal clear that postponing could be the best course of action. Where’s a parenting manual when you need one!

If you’re a parent I would love to here your opinion on the topic. Share (in the comment section below) some of your experiences of having your children compete in athletics between the ages of 5-7.

Facade: She successfully killed what needed to die…

via Daily Prompt: Facade

As an adult she heard a preacher say, “When you feel like you want to kill yourself, something needs to die, but it’s not you”. She only wishes she had heard these words in her difficult teenage years because at the tender age of 17 she tried to commit suicide.

Excessive bullying, an emotionally abusive relationship (that ultimately led to a harsh breakup), an injury that ended her high school athletic career and alcohol addiction that ultimately led to chronic depression is what she endured at the age of 17. One may ask, how on earth does this happen to a 17 year old girl??? This is how.

She was a junior going into her senior year of high school with a high likelihood of receiving a full athletic scholarship for basketball. At the beginning of the year, she had received an abundance of letters of interest from some of the most competitive Universities in the US and a few international programs. The dream became less promising when she tragically tore her ACL and meniscus during a High school basketball game. From that day forward, her life instantly came crashing down as she began to put on a facade to hide her identity issues and signs of chronic depression. Everyone, including herself, wanted to believe that she was only the girl who loved Jesus (because she was in church like 3-4 days out of the week), performed great academically, and didn’t give her parents much trouble at home. They couldn’t know that she was hanging with who she and her peers thought were the ‘cool kids’, their friends. These ‘friends’ were fake thugs, excessive weed smokers and drinkers who liked to party and make anyone the object of ridicule until they broke down in tears. Mere heartless bullies…The thought of revealing the insecure, self-condemning, depressed, confused, and not so smart girl that she was, became unbearable.

A few days, post full reconstructive knee surgery, she was alone in her bedroom thinking she just needs to be put out of her misery. The life she is supposed to live after this just isn’t worth living. So she grabbed her bottle of Vicodin and stared at it for about 30 seconds thinking, “I wonder if this is enough to do the job”. She slowly opened the cap, turned the bottle up and dry swallowed half of contents. She was seconds from finishing the bottle when suddenly, her bedroom door was opened. Her parents showed up with her favorite fast food. She began to weep. That small thoughtful gesture of her parents essentially stopped her from committing suicide. The poor girl was high as a kite for a while, then sick a dog for a longer while, but she was indeed ALIVE. God’s amazing grace had saved her and she was reminded by the Holy Spirit that she was a child of God. He knew her heart and He loved her for who she was.

It still took a few years for her to accept who she was in Christ but she continued to persevere. Even through her trials and tribulations, she loved Jesus, strived to obey God’s word, and find her identity in Him. She successfully killed what needed to die, the facade. 

Our Twins’ First Basketball Game: My dream that turned into a perfect nightmare…

It was a busy Saturday morning and my 5 year old twins had their first basketball game at 9:15AM. Boy was I excited as I had dreamt of this moment since the day they were born.  I zealously went to wake them up and unfortunately, they were the crabbiest little kids ever!!! In their defense, they’re just not morning people (never have been) and usually don’t get out of the bed until 10AM or later.  Their challenging mood really wasn’t what I had preferred to deal with that day. We had a wedding to attend immediately following their game and a long day ahead of us.  I knew the only way I could accomplish this task was by sending my other two littles with dad (who conveniently had a charity event at work), getting myself dressed for the wedding and packing the twins’ clothes to get them dressed after their game.

We miraculously made it to the gym on time only to find out that the coaches for their team didn’t show up. I saw the need, so I immediately offered to help. They recruited my husband to help the week prior and I’m a formal basketball player and coach, so why not??? To my surprise, the program coordinator gave me ‘The look’, up AND down!  She responded, “We did let Byron help us out but ummm… we should be okay. We’ll find someone else.” What she was really thinking was, “No this chick doesn’t think she can coach in my program with that Mary Poppins dress on and First Lady Obama pearls in her ear.” In which was totally understandable because hey, my attire didn’t exactly illustrate a ‘Hooper’, let alone an experienced basketball coach. She simply did not know me. No one in that gym did as it was in my husband’s hometown, not mine. And to add insult to my already injured ego, another lady asked if we were coming from church!!  At this point, the urge to share my long list of athletic achievements and coaching/playing experience was tantalizing; however, I smiled and patiently waited for the replacement coach to arrive instead of selling myself.

The coach from another team arrived 15 minutes after the game was supposed to start and now they needed someone to run the clock. None of the other parents volunteered, as expected, so of course I eagerly offered to assist in that area. The coordinator hesitantly accepted my offer. Then she asked a young man to show me how to work the elementary clock that I’m pretty sure my 2 year old could operate and had the nerve to tell him to stay with me until I have figured it out. I wanted to say;  Miss, I’ve been playing basketball and operating a clock for over 20 years, but I humbled myself, yet again, and allowed the clock training for dummies session to commence.

The game finally starts and my kids are looking like two deer in headlights with their eyes watering. It was painful to see my poor kiddos so scared and confused like two baby birds pushed out of their nest prematurely.  They just stood in the middle of the court not even remotely trying to touch the basketball. I mean they were downright overwhelmed. So not only does the basketball coordinator think that I’ve got no game, my kids’ clueless reaction to the game was probably how she thought I would be as a coach.  My mother bear instincts instantaneously kicked in as I began to direct my attention to my twins trying to encourage them to get involved. Unfortunately, I ended up getting too distracted and forgot to update the score board a few times. I earned the look of death from every over competitive parent in the crowd who apparently thought their 5, 6, or 7 year old was playing in front of college recruiters.  By the time the 3rd short 6 minute quarter (that felt like 25 to me) had ended, both of my kids had already walked off the court stressing that they were tired and didn’t want to play. Then a volunteer says, “Why did you sign your kids up for basketball and they don’t even want to play”, while another mom rolls her eyes at me because again, I forgot to enter her overgrown son’s points on the scoreboard.  It took all the super natural power of the Holy Spirit within me to not revert back to Keish-Keish AKA Peachez (the unruly pre-Saved, pre-Sanctified, pre-Holy Ghost filled Mrs. Peculiar Mom) and give all of these people a piece of my mind. Boy was my patience and humility being tested!

In the final quarter, BJ was reluctantly taking the ball out of bounds, Naomi was on a prolonged trip to the bathroom (pretty sure it was intentional), and I was sitting at the clock about to cry. Wishing there was a feature to speed up the time. Then finally….saved by the buzzer! The dreadful game is over! I tried to gather my kids to escape from this miserable experience as fast as I could only to be approached by the program coordinator again. This time she tried to encourage me (bless her heart) by saying she thinks they still give out most improved awards and that my daughter could be good because her aunt was good.  I took a deep breath, smiled and said “Remember this moment; my kids have no choice but to be good”! Then I walked out of the gym, probably on my toes, with my flowing red dress, Mary Jane flats, and elegant pearls, saying to myself, “I’ll never wear a dress to the gym again.” I got my twins dressed in the car and we made to the wedding just before it started. This was a happy ending but the moral of this story is, if you’re a woman ‘Hooper’, never wear a dress to the basketball court, not unless you want your level of humility to be tested.

“I’m Different. Difficult. Awkward. Real. You may get me or you may not. I hope you do. I don’t care if you don’t.”-Unknown. My Long Winded Intro…

The moment someone meets you, they immediately put you in a social category within seconds of hearing you speak. As you begin to reveal more details about yourself, your beliefs, morals, or simple likes and dislikes you are then labeled accordingly. Everyone’s guilty of this sometimes, right??  Well….what do you say about that person who you can’t read. They just don’t make sense to you. Everything about them is peculiar from the way they speak to the way they walk.  We typically use the politically correct term “Different” to describe them. Well, that’s me! I’m that “Different” person and to my recollection, I always have been. I’m a grown lady who walks on her toes (literally), speaks her mind (sometimes before I think), prefers to go on shopping sprees at garage sales and thrift stores instead of high-end department stores, enjoys competing in every sport invented (even if I’m the only female), and finds humor in tragic situations. 

When most people meet me for the first time, they find it hard to believe that I’m married and have four children under the age of 6. They are even more baffled at the fact that I’m a #WAHM (Work At Home Mom), raise my children using strict biblical principles, all while working a stressful part-time pharmaceutical job and being actively involved in ministry. People say things like, “ 4 kids? Are you crazy?“, “And you stay at home with them, how do you do it?”, “You do know how babies are made, don’t you?”, “You home school your kids? What about their socialization?”, “How do you afford to live with all of these kids?”, “Don’t you want your kids to have the best?”. I guess the idea of having more than 2 kids and choosing to stay at home with them is almost an enigma in this day in age. I’ll explain how I answer these questions in future posts.

For about 2 years now, I have been at home full time with my children trying to maintain the fort while the hubby goes to work in the corporate world. I have also added on the task of homeschooling my 2 year old, 4 year old, and 5 year old twins for the time being. I like to believe that I am successful with this although I often I feel like the word failure is written in bold red font right across my forehead. Every single day is a challenge as I attempt to maintain order in my home without completely losing my mind. My days often look like a boxing tournament and I’m the referee. A restaurant full of demanding customers and only one server on the floor. Complete chaos!! Through all of this, I’ve become happy and grateful for the little things like not getting a migraine from yelling at my kids and using the bathroom without being interrupted by one of my little angels. It’s REALLY good day if I actually get a chance to take a shower, brush my teeth AND comb my hair. Okay, perhaps I’ve overshared a tad bit but I’m just being honest.

Once in a while, I leave the home hoping for some good fellowshiping and socializing  with people over 42 inches tall. But inevitably, the outing ends with someone telling me how I should be a better wife to my husband or properly raise my children who they seem to think are spiraling out of control. The irony is that the majority of this advice comes from someone who is divorced, don’t even have children or barely involved in their lives! I believe these encounters are like ongoing tests to see if and when I will finally snap on that one person (potentially a family member) for no reason other than their annoying unsolicited advice on the absolute WRONG day. Okay, maybe this first post is not exactly turning out the way I had planned it to. It’s a little more ranty (yes I intentionally made that word up) than I had envisioned. Needless to say, this mama has some struggles. But I assure, you I’m aware of my short comings and my creator is working on me. I’m not yet where I want to be, but thank God I’m sure not where I used to be!

I’ve been on this earth for 31 years and counting and I’m hoping for at least 70 more. It’s sad that it took me over 30 years to finally be okay with who I am. From this day forward, I intend to make the best of all the years I have left by helping, serving, loving, and encouraging people, laughing more and most importantly, being the unique person God designed me to be.

So why did I start this blog???? Well the truth is, I haven’t the slightest idea. My husband has been telling me to do this ever since I became a mom. I guess as I openly share my journey of faith, family and just being peculiar ME, my hope is that I will inspire a few folks to laugh more, cry when they want to, and be THEMSELVES a long the way.

WELCOME TO MY BLOG!!