Thursday, February 4, 2016

Parenting, Puke, and Phil...As in Dr. Phil

Let me just tell you what an awesome 
older brother and amazing teenager that Aidan is.  So last night Liam was sick throwing up.  I wanted him to come into my room to sleep so that I could help him etc.  Aidan had woken up when he heard Liam crying (this boy never cries) so he was comforting him.  Liam has the issue of waking up a lot at night and he will often climb into bed with us, Aidan, Violet, or Breya.  He knows not to wake Avagrace.  So Liam in all his tears asked if he could sleep in Aidan's room because he "misses him."  I said no Mommy is going to take care of you tonight.  So Aidan sat with him while I got sheets and things, but came over to ask if Liam could sleep in his room.  That he didn't mind taking care of him.  I was like "Aodan it's puke!  You will have to run his back and dump the throw up bucket and have him wash his mouth out etc.  He said " I don't mind, I know what to do, I promise if it gets too much I will tell you.  Please I really want him to know that I am here for him!"  Now if that didn't make me melt I would have insisted.  So I still woke up and helped in some capacity each time Liam was sick even though I was annoying my teenager, lol.  But Seeing such love just warms my soul!!  I still have tears in my eyes writing this!  And other than all the warm gooey's and the pride I was thinking about this....

My kids are experiencing things that nobody wants their kids to experience.  "Grown up things" explained to them at their level of understanding.  Unavoidable discussions and situations.  While it can weigh heavy on their little hearts, they all know that God gives them experiences to learn from and use in their lives.  Dr. Phil loves to say that "1. Don't ask your kids to deal with grown up issues. And 2. Don't make them deal with situations that they cannot control."  I agree with the sentiment but I disagree quite a bit as well.  I am not going to talk about # 2 other than to say that I believe communication on their appropriate level is always the best practice.  Children in theory cannot really control much.  They cannot control what we are making for dinner, unless we ask them to.  They cannot control their sisters life altering condition but talking to them about it is a whole lot healthier than not talking about it!  They cannot control the tornado season or if their family has a shelter or not.  But they can learn how to handle the affects of these situations.  They can control their emotions in a sense.  Will they be scared but not frantic because they know the plan and have mom and dad with them?  Will they choose to be frantic because they don't know what is going on?  Etc..  But his first statement is what I am really talking about today.  ☺️

So, for example in response to # 1, finances.  I have found that teaching our children the difference between needs and wants as well as the ebbs and flows of life that sometimes life brings "feast or famine" (so to speak-famine is a pretty strong word that I would not use but you get the point).  In my opinion, it is a whole lot healthier to talk about things than pretending that nothing is happening or keeping things from kids that already know something is going on.  Our kids knew this year that they had to pick one gift request for Christmas because presents were not a necessity.  I know that this was a bummer and some of the kids were a bit sad when we first talked about it.  One in particular was truly miffed.  So we talked about.  We talked about IT A LOT.  We reminded them of what our family's focus is right now.  (Post fire stuff) we talked at length about Christmases that were over the top.  We talked about having zero space in the house we are staying in.  We talked about priorities and ways to give to others.  We talked about the REAL meaning of Christmas and what the meaning was behind those 3 gifts that baby Jesus was given.  

When Christmas came we saw a very different Christmas that we had seen before and that we anticipated.  First my children have always made gifts for each other.  Yet this year there was an abundance of handmade gifts.  Then they received gift cards from both of their sets of Grandparents before Christmas.  This was so that they could go out and buy things that they really wanted but also learn the importance of a budget and prioritizing what it is you need or want.  We had one child who insisted on buying something for each and every family member before she picked out something for themself.  We did not make that known and so when two more of our children wanted to get gifts or a gift for one or more other family members it was even more touching.  Then the last two kids both picked out something that they knew everyone would like!  All without a single suggestion or prompt from anyone. So all of that was under our Christmas tree along with some needs from our "friend-like-family."  So when they opened the book and 1 big-deal toy from us that they did not know if we were going to be able to get for them or not, it was the most excited and grateful that we had ever seen them.  They did not have that expectation of a gift or gifts.  They did not know that their Grandparents would do what they did.  They did not know that their sibling/s would spend their own gift money on others.  When it was all said and done my kids said that this was the best Christmas ever.  It was simple, and special, and we really saw God's Glory!

I have found Communicating with my kids and telling them what is happening (again age appropriate) has given them security not worry.  Knowing that in life everything is going to be alright because we are in HIS Hands!  Aidan's actions last night could be picked apart by people in many ways, "he didn't ask for a kid," "he's not the parent," "he's just a kid, don't give him adult responsibilities" etc...but not trusting my 13 year old son with a responsibility that he really wanted and supporting him in it was a blessing to all three of us.  I am so grateful for my children and learned to stop listening (99% of the time-I am only human) to the critics long ago!  So my fellow parents, LOVE your children, KNOW your children(really truly know their hearts, their hurts, their strengths, their weaknesses), and do what is best for YOUR child!!  It is as simple as that!  Because parenting in this way will look different for each child and quite frankly, that is the way it should be.  After all we are all individuals!

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Death Penalty for an Innocent Man, a War within Myself to Be Who I was Created to Be, And a Revelation to help!

God is SO GOOD and so helpful if only you let Him!  He is good and wants to give us peace.  He wants us to be who WE are, not who we think we should be based on the reactions of others.  He wants us to be OURSELVES even when we are at war within ourselves because we have conflicting components of who we are.  Our Heavenly Father wants to bring those conflicting portions into sync.
I promise, the end of this is worth getting to, it may be a message that He wants you to hear right now!  :-)

This afternoon I was in a low moment.  I was incredibly overwhelmed with the injustice and ignorance that is all around us.  Every place, every state, every country will have humans that are ignorant or blinded by "this is what we know," "it was how I was raised," and so on.  When we moved to Oklahoma my children were not yet in school and I was parenting 3 then 4 then 5 children all six years and younger.  I was focused on God, Work, and Supporting my husbands career.  When my children started school, as opposed to Home-school (because I believe that schooling needs are as unique as the individual so some of my kids are homeschooled and some are not...for now).  When my oldest started school I realized how different my upbringing in Pennsylvania (statistically in the top 5/50 schools yearly) was to the education system in Oklahoma (statistically in the bottom 5/50 schools yearly).  I realized how hard the teachers here had to work, or didn't.  I realized how important it was to have one of those gems that work for nothing to make Oklahoma's education system better even though the school boards and state is not always in sync with what the teachers know to be affective or needed in their jobs.  I have seen a great disconnect between a school board's theories of what will work and what the teachers are telling them that they need.  I have also seen a school board and a school that work together tremendously and impact the children in such positive ways that it seemed no different than my experience in public school on the East Coast.

I have seen the difference of growing up in a norther swing state as opposed to a southern, republican, conservative, Bible-belt state.

I have seen the difference in healthcare from an affluent tri-state area that is full of the top hospitals in the nation to a state whose medical is and can be compared to some under developed countries.  

Oklahoma has some of the highest incarceration rates, the highest children in child-protective-custody, the lowest scores in schools, healthcare and the list goes on.  

So, when three executions of men on death row happened in the past year under our current governor through lethal injection that was botched all three times and caused torturous deaths to these men I felt like I was taken back centuries.  Yes, PA still has a death penalty.  However, since 1976 there have only been 3 men killed in PA by lethal injection.  All three of those sentences were signed by the same Governor Tom Ridge, a republican.  

Now in Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is signing off on another execution for a man named Richard Glossip.  Richard was implicated and convicted in 1998 of a murder that was committed by a man who admitted to the act and the charge, but in a plea deal Justin Sneed, Glossips co-worker, accused Glossip of "paying him to kill" in order to save his own life.  Sneed is now spending his life in a medium security prison and will be essentially committing murder again through the hands of Governor Mary Fallin.  While two court cases have convicted Glossip of murder, the only evidence that they have is the admitted murderers plea/accusation of Glossip paying him to kill.  All along Glossip has been using pro-bono attorneys.  

For some statistics, Oklahoma is the second only to Texas for executions but is the highest per capita in executions.  To further muddle the executions that our Governor seems so readily to sign off on, Oklahoma was the first state to use phenobarbital as one of the ingredients in the lethal mixture.  Phenobarbital is a anti seizure medicine.  And, the one reporter Phil Cross who has been following Glossip and working very hard to get his story out there, to help him and to shed light on what is going on, has been banned from the court room while other reporters are allowed, and other reporters are claiming that they cannot talk about it.  The death penalty in Oklahoma has been under investigation by the Supreme Court over the past several years, it has made national headlines many times, and now even Hollywood stars are sharing their opinions and starting petitions to stay the execution.

NOW here is huge proof to the LUST OF EXECUTION for Oklahoma.  In 2014, Oklahoma had put scheduled executions on hold until the Department of Corrections implemented 11 proposed improvements in protocols governing capital punishment. The review of the lethal injection administration process resulted from an Oklahoma inmate's April execution case in which a doctor and a paramedic failed nearly a dozen times to administer an IV with lethal drugs.  From that, they continued under Governor Mary Fallin's approval to do two more botched lethal injections This will be her 17th lethal injection.  However, out of the past three Governors she looks like a lamb.  Her predecessor Brad Henry (Democrat) signed off on 39 executions, and 51 occurred under the Governor Frank Keating (Republican) before him.  Governor Frank Keating gave the go ahead for minors to be executed for their crimes and the last minor to be executed in the country prior to that practice being banned happened in the great state of Oklahoma under Governor Frank Keating in 2003!  Oklahoma has also been a state to wrongfully put-to-death prisoners.  (example:  Gregory R. Wilhoit convicted in 1987, exonerated in 1993.  Ron Williamson, Oklahoma. Convicted 1988 exonerated in 1999.  Although Texas and Illinois have had far more wrongfully executed persons, that we know of.)

So while capitol punishment is a heated debate with people for or against it and many people unsure of their feelings for it exactly, siting examples of when it would be ok and when it wouldn't, everyone can agree that it is an emotional topic.  However, Governor Mary Fallin has knowingly approved at least three lethal injections to persons knowing that the drug cocktail used has, each and every time, caused prolonged suffering and not sudden death.  Now, a man who was simply accused in a plea bargain.

So as my heart ached over all of this and the fact that I cannot rely on medical care in Oklahoma for my daughter, or the school system (not the teachers) I turned to my Bible and decided to do a study prompted by an old assignment my husband had for college.  In that study I decided to read about a book in the Bible, a person, and a significant place.  I am not going to share all of the details but I basically picked my favorites for each section, or the ones that made me joyful.  They were not the typical picks of say psalms/proverbs/job/etc.  I stuck with the Old Testament too.  The persons were not even the typical and each of them ended up being connected in intimate ways that I never noticed before.  For instance, the father of one of my favorite persons in the Bible was a ruler in the Book of the Bible that I chose.  Because the man's father is named but already dead and not talked about in the story of the son whom I admire so, I had never thought to look up his father, nor did I connect the dots when reading his fathers name in the book that I love and chose.  The location I chose actually stressed me out a bit.  I am a very visual person and wish that they had a "Biblical map" overlay that I could place over our Modern map to see the locations that they speak of.  So I tend to not pay attention to the location.  I asked my husband what location he chose to give me some inspiration.  I finally chose a location, and this location is central to the story of the man I chose and I did not realize it before.  

So, the point of my story is that God can affirm your purpose and your passions and he can show you His love and dedication to you, as His child when you simply open yourself up for his teaching.  Tonight it was as if I just ran my fingers through my Bible and asked Him to show me something (which I often do).  But it was with much less purpose.  I knew I was hurting.  I knew that I was warring with myself.  I feel very passionately about things and I know that I was created to be an activist.  Yet I highly dislike arguments or hurting/offending others.  Speaking about a persons home state in a negative way can hurt or empower a person to help make it better.  I know that I am at a giant risk of hurting people that I care deeply for.  But staying silent would be ignoring a part of who God created me to be.  He knew that I was feeling blue and fearful of how my words may affect others and He showed me that He is patient and loving and will always guide you to do what He has called you to do, even when you are afraid to do so.  

If you would like information on the petition for granting a stay for Richard Glossip click here!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

How Connected Are You To The Love of Your Life?

Announcement:  So this blog has been on hiatus on and off for some time now.  And it has been for MANY GREAT REASONS.  So, things are going to be different around here and I really think you are going to like it.  I am hoping to get some great discussions going.  And the more interaction I have on the blog the better it will be.  When we get great discussions going there will be #giveaways! *read to the end for more details on #giveaways* The discussions will be on everything from Book Talks, Social Issues/Current Events Or Relationships and Being Authentic in a Computer and Media Edited World!  Sometimes the blog will be serious.  Sometimes it will be a product review and other times I will share what I am loving.  And of course, our family, our life, and what we are doing will be sprinkled in as that was the foundation of Seven Swans!  My Blog Will ALWAYS Be Personal, Honest, and a Troll #NoHATE site!
 I hope that you join me on my journey, comment (you can leave it anonymous if you'd like) and share my musings with your friends. 
 I hope that it will bring a smile, a lightbulb, a wrinkle, and inspiration.  

So let's jump in today with the first in my series of "Relationships Under The Rug."

When you have been in an intimate loving relationship with the person.  The person whom you would take your last breathe for just to know that they could live another day.  The person that you know better than any other person, than any other person that has ever loved them knows them.   Yes, you know them even better than their Mother knows them.  You have a deep and meaningful connection, one that is not easily severed.  

However, with most things in life nothing is actually equal, or is it?  Do you ever wonder if you love your partner more than they love you or vise-a-versa?  Do you ever feel like they wouldn't even begin to understand your love no matter how hard you tried to show wether it be through actions or words?

Relationships are complex living connections and often times we see a portrayal of a persons actual relationship a superficial view and often times a facade.  It is almost a taboo in the USA to say your relationship is going through a rough patch.  When this is said it is almost always believed that this is the beginning of the end.  You can pick up any tabloid any day and find at least one article written about a couple that is "getting ready to call it quits."  Marriage in our country is under attack by the media and people who like to start the rumor train.  It is as if every public couple must be perfect and well not human.  Not human, because humans are imperfection and relationships are a unity between two people.  Marriage makes that unity stronger as it is a legal and binding declaration.

So, in an effort to be real.  To break it down and get the conversations going on the stuff that people would rather sweep under the rug I am pulling up all the carpet and banning throw rugs.  I want to know your thoughts on the connection in your relationship/marriage.  Is it something that you feel is equal?  Do you think that you love your partner more than they love you?  Or do you know that you are loved more than you love?



#GIVEAWAYS will also happen
sporadically with product reviews, or for people who are engaged frequently with the blog!
And when I reach milestones I will be doing giveaways.  By Milestones I mean #'s of followers on here and on select social media, when great conversations are happening, etc.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baltimore #BlackLivesMatter #LawEnforcementMatters

Here are my posts from Facebook from yesterday.  I am emotionally done and cannot re-write the whole story but I want people to read and hear and understand from DIFFERENT VIEWS!

FB: April 27 9:46  This is a city that my sister, brother-in-law, and my sweet nieces and nephew work in and live just outside of. I have other family and friends who call Maryland and Baltimore their home. It was my home many years ago. And tonight it looks like a war zone. I do not keep up with the news very often. However, because of the police brutality here in Oklahoma, in Missouri, in Georgia, Ohio, Florida, Texas, and many other states I have had to have some hard conversations with my 12 year old son. Because you see, kids in middle school talk. If one sees a police brutality story on the news they will all know it by the next day. I cannot shield him forever. But it is a horrible thing to have to explain. But I tried, largely because one of the police brutalities included an officer killing a 12 year old boy who had a fake gun/toy gun in the waist of his pants. He was at the park alone and spinning he gun around and pointing it at things and supposedly people (but it is noted on all surveillance camera's that he was the only one at the park). Within 2 seconds of arriving on the scene the police officer fired and killed the 12 year old boy. This crime is still under investigation, much like the killing of Freddy Gray which sparked the riots and mass hysteria in Baltimore today. Unlike the police forces in Missouri and Oklahoma there is a more diverse police force in Baltimore. And unlike the Missouri riots the Baltimore police are not firing back with bullets, tasers, tear gas, and they are not arresting people for simply filming the "news" ... at least not yet. While police officers must be held accountable, so must civilians. While I will need to teach my son lessons that I myself will not have to learn, we cannot expect to move forward with rage. We must remember that God instructed us to Trust In Him and To Love Above Everything Else. So that was the focus of my talk with my 12 year old son and it is my prayer for Baltimore and police forces across the nation.  ‪#‎RacismISReal‬ ‪#‎StopTheHate‬‪#‎DoNotPROFILE‬  ‪#‎WeedOutTheBadCops‬‪#‎CallForChange‬ ‪#‎TheSystemIsFailing‬‪#‎UseYourMindsAndYourHeartsToFixThisNotYourFists‬

FB April 27 9:53pm Sadly, this is not the scene tonight. But that is largely due to the fact that the family asked respectfully that no protests happen on the day of his funeral. The compassionate protestors that are peaceable have honored that while tonight it is just mass chaos.

FB April 27 10:10pm  This is the last thing I will say about this. While I do not condone rioting. I will say that when people are oppressed and hunted or taunted by police officers for years on end. When they have to hold their breathe when a police car goes down their street. Just because of the color of their skin and the number of people sitting in front of their house. There is eventually going to be a boiling point. This is not the first black man in the nation this year to be killed by the hands of overzealous, God-playing cops. For a group of people to feel so oppressed, that there was no better way to be heard, this will at times cause riots. As one of my friends pointed out, white people have rioted and destroyed neighborhoods over sports. Violence is never the way and that is exactly the point. A black male can be arrested on suspicion and held until proven innocent. A white male can continue living life until there are enough facts to bring him in under some sort of charge. If you feel powerless to change you will go in one of three directions. The ways that Ghandi and Rev. Marin Luther King did, peaceably. Or you may just stir the kettle like Rosa Parks did. Or finally, you may find yourself in a position of mass chaos and riots. But just to hit home my point of people rioting for way less important reasons than ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ let me show you this link with some examples. Again, I do not believe that rioting is the way to go and I think that it is in fact a step in the WRONG DIRECTION, but let us balance out the human experience when it comes to rioting. Just as we must balance out the human experience when it comes to law enforcement and criminalization. "Inner-City Thugs" are not the only people who choose to join in a riot.…/…/white-people-rioting-for-no-reason.html

 My Facebook
Ok I know I said last post but seriously, I have not heard such a loving mothering voice come from this tragedy that can so eloquently put the need for people to rise above the temptations of mass anarchy and violence.
I know we are angry, I know we want to be heard. We want answers, we want justice but most of all we want the corrupt systems of authority in our neighborhoods that continually steal the lives of people of color and the underprivileged to be revealed and rectified. But we must do our part. Today, I see that violence begets violence making it difficult to differentiate the victims from the perpetrators. Violence creates a window to vilify the victims, even in the deepest recesses of the most condolent mind. Nonviolence creates a clear view to who the offenders of justice really are. Don't give the very system that has been using violence to terrorize and exterminate us any justification to use that very violence upon us to keep us in order. This is a time of self-discipline so that the true offenders of justice can be revealed.
Stand down so that justice and the preservation of our communities are the priority and have the opportunity to prevail.