Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

10 things I like about me

After giving this exercise to Meadow, I thought it might be fun for everyone to do. For most of us, it was harder than we would think!

As we plod through our steps on earth, the plethora of places we don't measure up seem to have no problem making themselves known around every bend. We easily call to mind our faults and can quickly list them one by one. The good things about ourselves - the stuff we like and smile at, the qualities that give us comfort, those can be more difficult to conjure up. True, balanced self gentleness, tenderness and care is a discipline, to be sure. Worthwhile, I believe.

1. How much I love my family
2. My love for puzzles
3. My busy personality
4. My mind
5. My helpful nature
6. My responsibility
7. My hair
8. My fun/goofy/immature side
9. My smile
10. My honesty

1. I'm helpful.
2. I eat well.
3. I don't complain.
4. I'm neat.
5. I am a fast runner.
6. I do good schoolwork.
7. I can write good stories.
8. I am a good colorer.
9. I'm friendly.
10. I'm good at games.
1. My teeth are white.
2. I try to keep my room clean.
3. I like to read.
4. I try to do the right thing.
5. I'm a collector.
6. My hair is short.
7. My work is neat.
8. I am an athlete.
9. I like sports.
10. I am creative.
1. I was good enough to win Tisha's love.
2. I can push myself to work hard.
3. I like my height.
4. I am calm during emergencies.
5. I contributed genetics to 5 super kids.
6. I can fall asleep very quickly when it's time, or stay awake for days. Whatever is necessary.
7. I have a nice shaped head for being bald.
8. I have good concentration.
9. I like that I am free.
10. I like that music moves me.
1. I collect things.
2. I get good grades.
3. I have clean teeth.
4. I have a clean personality.
5. I like all foods.
6. I save my money.
7. I am small.
8. I like the hair color I have.
9. I find it easy to memorize things.
10. I love coffee.
1. I'm nice.
2. I try to be friends with my siblings.
3. I'm getting strong.
4. I'm still happy when I lose.
5. I'm happy.
6. I like my drawing.
7. I like my dancing.
8. I'm a boy.
9. I like my fashion.
10. I like that I like burritos.
1. My robust singing abilities.
2. My rock star dance moves.
3. I'm pretty strong, for my age.
4. I can run for miles.
5. I'm neat and tidy and clean.
6. I'm very affectionate with my family.
7. My ability to love a dog like a child.
8. I cook for my people every day.
9. I grow vegetables.
10. I engage fully in conversation.
1. I have a good education.
2. I am fast.
3. I am strong.
4. I have nice teeth.
5. I am healthy.
6. I am a fast reader.
7. I am good at communicating.
8. I don't cheat.
9. I don't steal.
10. I am responsible.
1. I like my hair.
2. I like that I am very energetic.
3. I like my green eyes.
4. I like that I love my family. 
5. I like my style.
6. I like that I like my house.
7. I like my love for Pebble.
8. I like that I am not fat.
9. I like that I live on a prairie.
10. I like my age. 
I like them all.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Have you met her? She is a very special friend of mine. Captive to her lure, my auto-pilot default setting is to keep her near me always. She readies my mind alert, eager to mull major and minute details, around and around until forever, then start at the beginning again. (Refresh!) She keeps me company at night with fitful spells of sleep between eyes wide awake, staring into the darkness bouts.

Since adopting our kids nearly six years ago, she and I have grown infinitely closer. There's just so much to think through. How I've failed them! How they've failed me! The bleakness of the future! The tell all books they will one day write about me! How the prison's visiting hours schedule will coincide with homey Sunday dinners!

Never was this more true than last year when Meadow was facing her lowest, darkest time to date. I was anxious. Fretful over the future. Hurt by her actions. Fearful of what she might do. Not sleeping. Taking her to therapists who were of no help to the root of her concerns. Why don't you make a problem box and write your problems down on a piece of paper, then place them in the box? It was an entirely wretched few months.

It was then that I pulled her closer than ever for weeks on end of Parenting Within Arm's Reach. Buddies. Companions. Shadows. Velcro. You make dinner, I make dinner. You go for a run, I go for a run. You hang laundry, I hang laundry. You pick up doggie do, guess what? Me too! I love doggie doo duty! This was what eventually pulled her out of her pit and into lighter, more-conducive-for-family-life behaviors.

Until this year. When it began again. A lull. A relapse. A step backward. A hundred. A fresh start, diving headfirst into those awful lack-of-healthy-attachment-driven actions. The ones that worry me to no end and draw Rumination close.

Except this time, I decided no matter what, come hell or the highest RAD water, I would not, could not, succumb. I couldn't go to those depths with her again. It was not good for any of us.

Though it wouldn't be easy, I would not enter the trauma vortex and be sucked into oblivion, allowing everyone in its wake to be drug down. We would not emotionally fuse. I am the adult here. My world would not be encompassed by this. I would not give these maladaptive behaviors power over me, over my family. I would win the battle for control over my mind, my days, my nights.

It would require a relentless take no prisoners approach. We would have our joy and our laughter, too, damn it.

I would still dance. I would still sing. I would play music and laugh and do all I can to win every board game and help her to the best of my ability without falling prey to the constant, exasperating stewing.

I would not, will not take ownership of the fullness of her inner tumult.

My daughter must take responsibility for her own thoughts, actions, and deeds. I must take responsibility for mine.

It has been good for all of us. Even Meadow. Everyone is more relaxed when I offer the illusion of having things mostly in hand.

Though she stands on the edge peering in, ready to invade my inner sanctum at a moment's notice, Rumination has had to learn to step aside. Sorry, old friend. Some matches just aren't made to last.

I've got sleeping to do.

Monday, November 30, 2015

20 years down, a few more to go...

In October we celebrated our 20 year Togetherversary, which is, quite frankly, a whole barrel o' monkeys more fun than celebrating our actual wedding anniversary. (You may or may not recall that our vows uttered within the restrictive confines of The Cult were less than blissfully climactic. Oh, the regrets we weave when obliviously mesmerized by a charismatic speaker showering his dutiful audience with equal parts spit, promises and threats from behind the powerful pulpit.) 

Back to our togetherversary. 20 years! We felt it was worth celebrating so we did it up right with a single night at a local hotel in town. Can you say, indulgent? The hotel was booked strictly on its merits. The place had robes. Robes! Well, precisely a solitary robe hanging limply in the closet. Lap of Luxury, I'd like to introduce you to the Deutsches. Pleased to make your acquaintance. I think we'll pull up a chair and stay a while.

In true Bob and Tisha fashion, we shopped at pawn shops for a 20 year ring for me as my wedding ring is highly impractical and not something I wear on regular occasions...such as daily life. These hands, they work. They love the dirt and the kitchen and scrubbing the porcelain until it shimmers. A fancy ring with a million prongs just won't do. I wanted something practical yet pretty. Reasonable yet shiny. Sturdy and meaningful and elegant and appropriate for my days spent on the prairie as a devout homesteader wannabe. We found the perfect one to commemorate the milestone. The gratitude trickled beyond the rims of my eyes. 

It was a beautiful, brisk day. We had dinner at Jose Muldouns in our workout wear after hiking around Palmer Park to perpetuate the perception of lavishness we were so firmly establishing as part of our New Reality. Go sweaty or go home, that's what we always say. 

We filled up our carts and spent gift cards given to Bobby at work as performance bonuses throughout the year at Marshall's and Tj Maxx in greater amounts than we ever would had we been using our bank account. 

Truly, it was divine. One of the best 24 hour segments of my life.

It started me thinking about 20 years together and all that has happened and all that we've seen and all that we've endured and grown and suffered through. 

In 20 years I've realized he's not the man I thought he was and he's come to know I'm not the woman he expected. 

He is more, better, bigger and greater and more capable and willing and brave and accommodating than I knew. He can take on just about anything and maneuver his way through, forging a path where none exists. He can build it all and envision artful masterpieces in his brilliant, creative mind then turn them into reality and work like a horse night and day. His selflessness knows no bounds as he relinquishes the reins of his paycheck month after month, year after year to the hands of his family to devour without as much as a murmur of complaint. He has amazed me with his skill and his tenacity and his grit. 

We have disappointed each other too with our lofty expectations unmet and our ideals dashed and our tempers flaring and our weakest portions of frail, selfish, unrelenting, stubborn humanity seeping out all over the tapestry of our interwoven days. 

There have been tears of joy and tears of sorrow. We have said goodbye to beloved people and beloved pets and hello to setbacks and goodbye to money and hello to stress and goodbye to tranquility and hello to family life in its fullest. There has been mourning and rejoicing and exposing and owning our flaws and accepting what is and apologizing for what we are not capable of becoming because our flesh simply won't comply. 

Our friendship has flourished and faltered as we have faced down giants together and divided to foolishly conquer our ally by taking aim at one another. The lines have grown on our faces and we have smiled and laughed and danced and witnessed triumph and defeat, the darkness of winters and the renewed hope of first blooms and the sun sitting radiant on our skin. Barren seasons and flourishing green and bountiful harvests have been part of our landscape.

We have won and we have lost we have found and we have renewed and we have dug deep when we didn't feel like it and we have woken up to the smell of coffee, faces still blotchy with the battle of the night before and we have made the pancakes and kissed the kids' heads and decided it was all worth clinging to nomatter what. 

That's what 20 years has brought us. 

Life lived, love earned. The sweet and the salty. The mundane and the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Thanks Bobby for being my partner in this wild ride. Every time I think I couldn't love you more, I can't help myself, I just do.

(No selfies because they don't make sticks long enough for these 41 year old faces.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Transformation Wednesday*

*That's not really a thing? Oh. Okay.

In the ever transformative state of affairs under which the Deutsch family resides, there is never a lack of change. The handyman is a busy, busy, busy bee. Our current kitchen table area (which I love as it holds a great deal of fond memories as we do so much life there) is (someday) going to become a second island with another sink (hallelujah) and another dishwasher (double hallelujah praise glory a to the men). Which means, we will need a place to dine as it is one of the clan's most very favorite pastimes. Eating = paramount. Don't ask me why.

We had this living room area that didn't see much action as it was a sort of formal setting. We watch movies in our family room. The living room's main purpose was to basically to sit and look pretty, largely untouched.

Hmm...Why not make it our new dining area, we thought to our clever little selves. And while we're (Bobby) is at it, why not make Braverman columns like in the Parenthood house? Only true to our country farmhouse theme why not make them white instead of the rich, brown wood in the Braverman's home?

So that's what we (he) did. Along with new hand texturing, new trim, baseboards and stuff like that.

Then, why don't we win the lottery to pay for it all?

Splendid notion, I dare say!

The Living room as it was:

The dining room that was once a living room:
The dining room as it was:
The dining room as it is now:
Ever a fan of a good, old fashioned plate wall,
this section is covered in vintage plates -
each one with a tale to tell.
There you have it. In all its transformation Wednesday splendor. Some day, (when he gets off his lazy bones and finally puts in a little effort. Sheesh!) the handyman will build great big tables to fill up the renovated space with our kids and their beloveds and our precious little grandbabies every single Sunday for dinner at Grandpa Bear and Grandma Honey's.
Our home will be even more full of people and love and laughter and food.
My heart can't even imagine.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Sweetest Girl There Ever Was

Jayla wrote this for her school program's speech class. I'm putting it here just in case it's the last nice thing anyone ever says about me. 

My eyes, they runneth over. 
One of the people I admire most is my mom. One of the things I admire about her is how she takes the time to homeschool my siblings and I instead of sending us to school and exploring more of her own personal interests. My mom is a great teacher and makes our school days much more enjoyable with her sense of humor and many jokes! She is always doing these completely made up dances and singing songs that she doesn't know all the words to. She makes us all laugh and brings a lot of joy to our house! Another thing I admire about my mom is her cooking! She makes a delicious dinner for her family almost every night and I want to learn to cook as well as her. My mom is also a great writer! She writes this blog that she gets printed as books to document our childhood and all the writing is really clever and well written! My mom is amazing and I admire her and hope to be like her when I'm older. 
Consider your allowance raised, sweetie...❤️

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What Makes a Good Leader?

Writing Prompt - What makes a good leader? 
A good leader will not treat their crew, soldiers or whoever they are leading really badly. They should believe in them, trust them and train them well.
If they treat them really badly they will never gain good trust in you. If you don't believe in them, they will have a harder time believing in themselves.
A good leader should show a good example. They should work hard and get them to work hard. 
If they are acting lazy and never working, it would look like their leader doesn't work hard and get stronger and tougher. 
If somebody wants to be a leader they must work themselves.
If they don't they won't be able to show the people they are leading a good example and won't be qualified as a good leader.
I think sportsmanship makes a great leader. Because if you lose you have to be good about it. Respecting your friends. If you are rude no one will want to be with you. Also being hardworking. If you tell everyone else to do they will not like you. Acknowledging what everyone wants. You have to be nice and let other people have breaks. These things make a good leader so if you're a leader, follow them!

I like to think that I am a leader at school. Because when I finish I help someone. At home school I think mom is a leader because she teaches us lots of things. Onyx thinks he is the leader of me sometimes. But I am the leader of me. I am also the leader of Echo, which is fun. Onyx is the leader of Jedi and mom is the leader of Pebble. See, it is that easy to find things. 

What makes a good leader? I think a good leader can be if they are wise or smart in battle. If they choose to build their army up and train them well they will be strong. If they choose to be lazy and not try to be strong they will be weak. They can be a good leader if they are good to people living in their city and don't force taxes out of them and give them plenty to eat. A good leader should know what to do in a bad situation and be prepared for it.  
A good leader. A leader needs a good mind. A good leader also needs a good sense of humor. They have to try to do the right thing. Like a pirate leader when another ship is attacking them. The leader would come out from the deck and if the people were bad he or she would help his people. The leader also needs leadership. That's what I think. From Clover to mom.
What makes a good leader? Why?
Someone who takes care of their country. Because if people do what they want to do they will not listen to you. Someone who makes good laws. If you make bad laws people will hate your city. Someone who lets you have breaks. People would also hate your team or class. Someone who gives people homes. Someone who lets them eat when they want or you will not have anybody in your city. 
Here are some qualities that I believe makes a good leader. A leader should be someone that is kind and thinks of their followers' needs. In one of my books, they said that people who want power and get it spend their whole life trying to keep it and will do what ever it takes to do so. Therefore, they said that you have to give power to those who don't want it. To some extent, I agree with their statement. I think that a leader should be someone who is confident and won't be influenced by their position and get a big head. A good leader puts themselves in the position of their followers in order to make accurate decisions on their behalf. They should be someone that's capable of making good spur of the moment decisions and has a strong, able mind. These are some of the qualities that I think make a good leader. Thank you for reading! 

Sunday, September 06, 2015

The Foster Baby's Room That Wasn't

In my family we've long known that if I couldn't (wouldn't, didn't) become pregnant with a wee little Deutschkin by the time my ovaries shriveled up like prunes I turned 40, we would apply to become foster parents with the ultimate intent of adopting a wee little Deutschkin. Duh. The whole wide world was aware of my obsession with desire for just one more bundle of cooing, pooing joy.

For years, years, actual years and years (!) I had a one track mind relegated to the restrictive confines of The Baby Express. The facts I can now rattle off regarding the reproductive systems of human beings, oy vey. If you're not the medical type, they may cause your cheeks to grow rosy. I learned a lot. Mainly, that my husband and I are physically incapable of producing any more Deutschkins with chromosomes of our own unless we laid down endless wads of cash to do so and maybe not even then.

Most importantly I learned that no matter how many children you have, Infertility when you desperately want to conceive is a cruel, wretched monster of a creature, indifferent to your pain and quiet, monthly, teary eyed, sorrowful suffering. I despise her and mourn for anyone who has crossed her path or resides within her crippling grip. Woeful is the woman who longs to bear a child. For her, little else on earth matters.

So, it happened. On a snowy day last winter I toppled over the hill and began the tumble toward what lies a good six feet beneath. Hello, 40! Bring on that midlife baby!

Only we weren't ready. We decided to give our existing roommates some personal space to claim as their own by remodeling their shared rooms into virtual kid sanctuaries where they could carve out a small piece of individuality within the square footage we gleefully refer to as home. That took most of the winter.

Then, we opted for a Summer of Fun where we would squeeze every ounce of adventure and activity into one three month span. Embarrassing dorks for parents that we are, we actually called it that, Summer of Fun. Over and over we reminded the 13 and under crowd that we were having a Summer of Fun, dammit. You WILL ENJOY YOURSELVES or THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES, dammit. We are having fun, dammit! Aren't we having fun, kids? Oh, yes we are! Rah, rah, rah!

We really did. There were a bunch of outings and quite a few firsts and some camping and short hotel stays and a lot of bonding time and really, it was fun.

As The Summer of Fun drew to a close, our thoughts began to turn toward the construction of what would be the baby's room - converting the small, open home office into a bedroom. (A wall, a window, a door, new texture and paint on the walls.) Only by then I knew - my thoughts had been shifting for a while - I no longer felt compelled to foster a baby.

My oldest baby was turning 14. 14! That meant there were only 4 blessed, little, itty bitty, teeny tiny years until she would be a legal adult (still living under our roof until she is 35, of course, but an adult nonetheless.) She and I are so very close. We play games together and ride bikes and talk and talk and talk and she is a dear friend to me. All those years when we were welcoming babies and adopting kids and busy, busy, busy, too busy to adequately breathe deeply started to slow where she and I sincerely have some focused time we can spend together and it was sublime to the point of magical.

Soon after she is 18, Onxy will be. And so on. We welcomed them in a cluster and if we do our jobs well so they are prepared for the great big and wonderful world of vast opportunity that lies before them we will see them go in a cluster, year by year.

What would it mean if I allowed myself the space to set the pace in my life at a speed that wasn't mock 90 with my colored-over-greying hair on fire?

What if I savored these precious, fleeing years with my young people while they're still here?

What if I didn't devote myself wholly to another mother's children to care for as my own to possibly relinquish into her arms after our time was through? *

What if I just.....didn't?

As the days and months rolled on, I became more and more comfortable with the idea of just not doing it, of letting myself off the hook of endless advancement where I don't feel the need to drive so hard forward.

It's foreign territory to me, not continually dwelling in The Land of the Perpetual Next. But the longer I do it, the more I come to terms with the notion of being fully present right where I am - satisfied, full and complete with being exactly here, just as things are. (Except for they're always changing. But that's another set of skills to be developed on another day. Note to self: Learn to accept change.)

So, we redid the room anyway. It's now a bonus room. Or rec room. Or den. Or kids' room. Or whatever you'd like to call it. It's just not the baby's room.

And for the first time in a fistful of seasons filled to the brim with hope dashed, I find myself content with that.

May my joy be full as I find it within the pockets of the life I already possess.

For as it stands today, the reality of my existence is more than I could have ever hoped for.

I'm not even kidding.

{The office as it was}
{From the outside looking in (my EO cabinet is now brown)}
My husband is the bee's knees.

*Disclaimer: This is not at all, whatsoever about foster parents who are currently or have ever provided a home for children under their care. It is purely about myself thinking through my own time constraints, desires and life. I have nothing but the utmost respect for foster parents everywhere who selflessly give their hours tending to children born to another. It's a tremendous feat for the compassionate brave few who are willing to walk in mighty shoes. Foster parents make the world a better place, literally, hourly, sacrificially. 

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