The Next Step…

Big news for the many Just Add Dad readers!  Just Add Dad is on the move!  From now on your home for all things family and fun is www.justadddad.org.

This new platform allows for a better website in general and can add a whole new dimension to what we can offer.  A smoother layout, easier navigation and so much more.  So check it out and let me know what you think.  This website will still be up, just no longer updated, for another month or two while this domain is transferred over as well.  Then justadddad.com and justadddad.org will point to the same place.

Thanks to all of you who read and support.  You’ve made this possible.

 

Sincerely

David McLeod

Mom

“I remember my mother’s prayers, they have always followed me.  They have clung to me all of my life.”

- Abraham Lincoln

 

My new role as a stay-at-home dad and becoming and instant father has taught me so much about being a mom.  I have now begin to realize so much of what I’ve taken for granted in my life about my own mother, and also about my wonderful wife as well.  Here are a couple of words that I’ve learned new meanings to over the last few months:

Sacrifice

Tina likes to make comments to me about how much I sacrificed to stay home and be a full-time dad to these 3 lovely little monsters.  She says this to show how much she appreciates me and it does make me feel appreciated.  It also makes me realize how much she sacrificed of herself before I came into the picture.  Everything I do on a daily basis, she already has done…except by herself…while working full time.  She gave up time for herself and doing the things that she wanted so that the ones she loved most could have what they needed.

It reminds me of my own mom, yes she had my dad, but both worked full time as nurses.  Being a full-time nurse is not the same as being full-time in most other professions.  Call hours and overtime add to that 40-hour work week that never really seems to be only 40 hours.  The emotional and mental stress of dealing with hospital bureaucracy while trying to provide the best patient care possible, the second-guessing of yourself when a patient dies even though you know you did everything that you kid, and the stress on their bodies from the demanding physicality of their job.  She did this with 2 kids and did it very well.  Despite all of this they always had time for us.  They sat through horrible singing at school plays, helped with projects and homework, endured years of bad trombone playing (good French horn playing in the case of my brother, he was far better at his instrument than I was with mine), and eventually becoming “mom” to hundreds of other kids as a band booster, chaperone, and youth sponsor at our youth group.

Trust

I have been blessed to have my time as a stay-at-home dad, because it has allowed me to bond much faster with my 3 kiddos than most dads get to in my situation.  However, when any of my three are hurt…mom is who they run to.  I still do the same with my mom.  If I’m hurt or sick, my first call is to my mom.   Dads are great for advice.  We’re good snugglers.  We get to be goofy and say funny stuff.  Moms have are all of those things but also seen as the caregivers.  I’m not saying dads aren’t there for the kids, it’s just different with moms.  They are the first shoulder we want to cry on, the first one to look at a scrape or a cut, and the first one when we just don’t feel good.

Pain

“I hate you” Alex screamed.  “I never asked for this family, I like my old family better!”  I heard these words for the first time recently.  Words that he did not actually mean, but words that were meant to hurt.  This is the first time wife has had them when they were not directed solely at her.  Part of being an adoptive parent is parenting their past, even though you did not cause it.  My 3 little guys are survivors.  Most of their lives all they have known is pain and turmoil.  My wife came in and gave them stability, then when I came into the picture it gave them a complete family.  My wife, however, went through hell before I got here.  She heard these words all the time.  She has also been punched, kicked, and had things thrown at her.  Doing all of this while taking care of an ex-spouse that was as equally mean and demanding.  All 3 kids are special needs, have lived through abuse, and suffer from PTSD in varying stages.  She has never let this affect her love for them though.  She managed to find a way to push past this and show these kids what real love is all while making them realize that they are something to be cherished and not thrown away.  I hurt like I never have before at this outburst from the boy, and it lasted only a couple of hours.  She endured years of this when it would last for days.

Endurance

I may never know how she does it or how my mom managed to do all that they did.  I do know I am a better dad, husband, and person because of them.  I also know my kids have a bright future and a second chance to have an amazing life because of them.  I just hope the rest of their years are better because of me.

Your Day

So Happy Mother’s Day to the two most amazing women I know.  My world is so much better because of you.  My words can never do justice to all that you do.  I love you both so much.  To all the moms who may be reading this:  Happy Mother’s day and thank you for all that you do…

The best is yet to come…

P.S.:  If you have adopted will you please take some time to fill out my survey.  The information is purely confidential and will be used for an upcoming book. Click here to take survey

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Grumpy, Sleepy, Happy, Dopey…Mornings with the McLeod’s

“In an ideal world, no one would talk before 10 AM.  People would just hug, because waking up is really hard!”  – Zooey Deschanel

This is one of those morning where I want a time machine.  Let me just start this dang thing over.  I have had a good night’s rest four nights out of the last three weeks.  Part of it is because I was sick, part of it is my occasional bouts of insomnia I have, the rest is because I’m a parent and I worry.  When I have slept, it has been pretty restless sleep.  Well last night I actually slept pretty good.  I was already exhausted so I decided to take advantage of it – I also added some Tylenol PM to the mix just for good measure.  So I slept great.  I unfortunately think I slept a little too well or I needed a couple of hours more because I am also incredibly groggy.

This next part I will try to describe carefully because it involves a certain beautiful grumposaur, and I do not wish to awaken said grumposaur (the Suzanne McMinn saying about dragons applies here, “do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup”…same goes with grumposaurs).  My darling wife is amazing.  She is the love of my life, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.  As long as I follow the morning rules.  Be sweet, affectionate, simple conversation, and no sarcasm or asking for anything before coffee.  Kind of like the whole don’t feed after midnight or get them wet thing with the gremlins or my mom’s dog Sassy, because then they might turn from cuddly creatures into monsters and the next thing you know, you are defending yourself by shoving them in the microwave (the gremlins, not Sassy).  Anyway, this morning I did not follow this rule.  I tried to have a conversation with my wife, and I may or may not have already had a short fuse because of the kids.  Things were said.  Mistakes were made.  Regrets will be had.

Morning person vs. non-morning person.  Actually it’s not that simple.  Five people, five distinct personalities, and five very different attitudes in the morning.  We have four of the seven dwarves here.  Grumpy (Tina), Happy (Alex), Sleepy (Hanna), and Dopey (Josh).  I know I’m not included, but I don’t remember a fifth dwarf named Pleasant-but-occasionally-growls.  Plus they’re short.  I’m not.

Alex is a total morning person.  He wakes up early.  He’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed - well not quite. but he’s alert, talkative, and pleasant…like his daddy.  He does great as long he’s not bored.  If he’s bored he gets in trouble.  Getting in trouble in the morning usually gets him growled at.  For the most part, though, he usually makes my mornings easier.  He also, however, gets on his mom’s nerves and to a lesser extent his brother and sister due to his alert and ready disposition.

Hanna is my zombie.  She goes her first 30 minutes of the morning on total autopilot.  I actually call her grumposaur, jr.  Once she gets going, however, she goes from zombie to chatterbox in a matter of seconds.  It’s quite startling.  I get silence and blank stares, mixed with the occasional growl or whine, and then she’s cheery, silly, and a total nine-year-old drama queen.  She also gets into full snuggle mode as well.

Josh is very random and nonsensical in the mornings.  He sleeps hard, so it takes him a couple of minutes to get going, but then he goes from zero to 60.  He is all over the place, and you can tell he is in total overdrive until his meds kick in.  I try to give him as much leeway as possible in the mornings, but he still usually finds himself in trouble.  He talks about the most random stuff.  As in, “there’s not enough coffee beans in Colombia to prepare you for these kind of questions in the morning” random.  He also gets woken up the latest because the more time you give him in the morning, the more likely he is to get in trouble.

You learn quick how to juggle all of this while doing everything you can to stay on time, in routine, and sane.  We are five very different people who love each other very much and the mornings give a great snapshot of that.  We learned how to work together and make it through with minimal casualties.  I think we’re going to be fine.  The best is yet to come…

P.S.:  If you have adopted will you please take some time to fill out my survey.  The information is purely confidential and will be used for an upcoming book. Click here to take survey

P.S.S.: If you haven’t yet, please like the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter.  Also, check out the Store

Those Three Words…

Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.
James A. Baldwin

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Lao Tzu

I came to a startling realization the other day involving The Boy.  There are three words that he has never actually said to me.  I have never heard him tell me “I love you.”  He’s written it to me on several occasions in cards and things like that.  I have heard him say it to his mom and his grandparents.  I also have no doubt in my mind that he loves me because of the way he acts towards me, the way he shows me affection, and the way he trusts me.  I have to say I don’t blame the boy.

Every “father” in his life has destroyed his heart.  When I came into the picture there was only one person that he totally trusted and that was his mom.  Tina will tell you that in the three years she had been mom it was not always the case.  For her, Alex was the toughest nut to crack.  Because she had to work so hard to get through to him and get him to trust her, they created an unbelievable bond.  Even now, in the moments when you see him getting angrier and losing his patience or temper, she can talk him down or get him to snap out of whatever funk he is in.

I remember one particular moment, we caught Alex in a big lie.  He was sent home with what amounts to a disciplinary referral.  He explained to me it was a big misunderstanding.  I trusted him.  I sent an e-mail to the teachers involved asking for clarification and explaining to them what Alex said.  This was on a Friday and we went about our weekend as scheduled.  I was still fairly new to the parenting game so I did not quite trust my instinct yet, but something inside was telling me that this situation was off.  Sunday night I get an e-mail from the teacher.  Busted.  Not only was Alex doing something wrong, but his “explanation” was impossible, and this teacher was really passionate about how good of a kid The Boy was and how she did not want to give him the referral but had no choice.

I felt hurt and betrayed.  We called Alex in and we confronted him.  Actually, Tina talked to him, I was not so accommodating.  I was hurt and like anyone hurt I lashed out.  Way to go dad.  Alex was wrong to lie to me and take advantage of the situation, I am not making excuses for him.  However, a kid that has been abused, neglected, and mistreated, is not going to respond well to 6-foot-3, 325 lb man screaming at him.  He went to a very dark place.  Tina calls it being “stuck.”  He retreats to wherever he goes to hide in his mind from the hell he has been through.  I watched as he just stood there, for what felt like an eternity, not moving or saying a word while he stared off into space with this look on his face that was a mix of anger and hurt.  I then watch as Tina sat down on the floor beside him, cradled him in her arms like she was holding a baby and rocked him back and forth, telling him that it was okay and that she loved him.  He fought her hard at first but he eventually just laid there and cried.  These were deep tears.  Tears that come from a very old pain.

I immediately felt three things.  First, I had never felt so small.  I know I had not crossed any normal parenting line, but part of the fun of coming into this parenting thing mid-stream is you do not get to do what every parent does.  It may not seem fair, but it wasn’t exactly fair to the kids either to be in this situation in the first place.  Second, I had never felt so proud and in awe of my wife.  I was given a chance to witness a small taste of what she had to go through those years.  Lastly, I felt more love for that boy than I ever thought possible.  I wish so much that I had been there from the beginning and could have prevented this but I was not given that option.

We got him calmed down and sent him on to bed with his sentence of being grounded and promises that it will not happen again.  He left, and his hulk of a father collapsed into a pile of sobbing and tears.  I know that all I had done was raised my voice.  I wasn’t nasty.  I didn’t call him names.  I never raised my hand.  The only thing that changed from that time and every other time I get on to him was my volume.  But at that moment all I felt was a mixture of shame and hurt.  I was hurt that I was taken advantage of.  I was ashamed because of how I made him feel.  Alex wasn’t the only one my wife had to comfort in her arms that night.

I do not have that bond with him yet.  She has put in the literal blood, sweat, and tears to get to this point.  He knows he can talk to her about anything, he also knows that he can do anything to her and she won’t leave him like everyone else he has ever loved.  He knows that he loves me and we definitely have a special bond, but I have not proven to him that I am in this for the long haul.  The other two have no problem saying it to me, but they are more trusting.  They have experienced a lot of what Alex has, but they were younger so a lot of it they either did not understand or do not remember.

I know that I am not going anywhere and I will love that boy with all I have for as long as I am alive.  That nothing that he can do will ever drive me away.  He doesn’t yet.  So until that time I will be content with the big hugs that he gives me.  The bond that we have.  I will always make sure he knows that he is loved by me.  I will also cherish every moment I have with him and show him what a real father is.  Then I will shed a few tears when I hear those three words from him the first time.  It won’t be easy, but the best is yet to come…

The Evolution of Joshua Michael…

Little Bit.  The ripe old age of seven.  I can’t believe how much he has grown in such a short time.  He has also brought me an insane amount of highs and lows.  Enough to make even the most daring of roller coaster designers jealous.  He’s got a long way to go, and I am quite sure I will either be bald or completely grey-headed by my 40th birthday.  I know, though, that he will be worth it, and I will be a better person because of it.

Joshua Michael.  Joshie.  My special little guy.  As his mother says, he will make you want to hug him and strangle him at the same time.  He has an incredibly huge heart but has infuriating moments where he only thinks of himself.  I love his sense of humor.  It’s sometimes incredibly annoying, but I must admit I love his absolute randomness.

He is also me.  If you looked at how I was as a seven-year-old and look at how Josh behaves, you would have a hard time believing that he was not my biological child.  This is good news for him — it means that I can relate to him better than most.  With one look, I can tell what he’s thinking.  This is also bad news for him — anything he tries to pull off…I’ve done it before.  He speaks his mind, so you never know what is going to come out of his mouth.  This also means that when you see him thinking about his answer, he’s thinking up a lie.

When I first met Tina, Josh was a whirlwind of chaos.  Well, he was more of a whirlwind of chaos.  He’s still pretty chaotic and whirlwindish, but I digress.  When he was in day care, he was always getting in trouble.  I remember her one night having a little panic attack because she was worried about him getting kicked out of school.  Getting bad behavior marks at school was a regular occurrence.  Tina was at her wit’s end.

That summer, Tina decided to put the kids in our local county-sponsored summer camp.  She was really worried that he was going to get kicked out because you could only get so many bad behavior marks at this camp without getting kicked out.  He almost made it.  With less than a week to go, he got his last referral for pushing another little girl and he was done.

Joshua is a genius.  Literally.  He is also ADHD.  This makes for a rough combination.  Because he is super-smart, he can get bored easily without the right kind of stimulation.  This can happen frequently in places like summer camp, day care, or school because everything is tailored to the masses instead of the individuals.  So when his boredom meets his ADHD, trouble is born.

So we made the decision that I would become a stay-at-home dad.  The results were not immediate.  Tina and I were both frustrated beyond belief many times and wondered if all the sacrifice we were making was really the right decision.  Part of this was because he actually was the one that took the longest to take to me.  He held on to his old dad harder than the others.  Part of it also is that routine and changes are hard on ADHD kids, even when they’re good changes.

He finally did adjust, and the change has been tremendous.  He’s a straight-A student.  He still gets the occasional bad marks in behavior, but has far more good days than bad.  We still clash.  This is still a work in progress.  I have far more gray hair than when I started, but on the plus side, that eye twitch seems to be calming down.  Most of his little quirks are far more entertaining without the infuriatingly bad behavior that goes with it.  Little bit is an absolute force of nature, but I would not trade him for the world.

I should also point out one more thing that has made a difference.  Well, person not thing.  Two words: Grandma Sharon.  My mom.  After surviving having to raise me, she has seen her life recently swallowed up by a sometimes debilitating illness, Myasthenia Gravis.  She has some days where she barely makes it out of bed.  Most days she can function as normal, just much more tired.  She’s constantly exhausted.  The illness is caused by her immune system attacking her muscular system, much like Multiple Sclerosis where the immune system attacks the nervous system, or Rheumatoid Arthritis where it can attack the joints.  She’s been in the hospital many times for treatments, surgeries, and to fight infections (including two bouts with septicemia).  However, there is nothing more magical than watching the change on their faces when you mention Josh to her or Grandma to Josh.  All three grandkids have a special place in her heart, but none have taken as strong of a hold as little Joshie.  They have been what each one has needed.  He rejuvenates her, gives her energy.  She gives him stability, understanding, as well as constant attention and love.

It has been a blessing to see how he’s changed, to see a definite plan in place by a loving God, who has lovingly guided these lives together to complete each other.  The best is yet to come…

P.S.:  If you have adopted will you please take some time to fill out my survey.  The information is purely confidential and will be used for an upcoming book. Click here to take survey

P.S.S.: If you haven’t yet, please like the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter.  Also, check out the Store

Powerful, must-read (I wish I’d written it.)

I am grateful for my friend posting this and I’m going to share it with you guys. My beautiful wife and myself were both divorced previously. We’ve both know the pain and destruction a failed marriage can leave behind. We have both also made a point not to repeat the same mistakes. I agree with this article completely. Anyone that is in any type of committed relationship or plans on being in one should take this to heart. Share with anyone you know.

Check it out.

P.S.:  If you have adopted will you please take some time to fill out my survey.  The information is purely confidential and will be used for an upcoming book. Click here to take survey

P.S.S.: If you haven’t yet, please like the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter.  Also, check out the Store

Tough Little Princess

One of the fun things about parenthood is the discovery that life can turn on a dime.  In a moment’s notice and without any warning, you can learn some interesting things about yourself and what you are made of.  Tonight I was working in the kitchen, trying to get dinner ready. The Boy was across the street playing. The wife was mowing the yard (don’t ask). Little Bit and the Princess were in her room playing.

Out of nowhere I hear a loud and pretty substantial thud.  Concerned, I go to my daughters bedroom and see my daughter limping towards me holding her hip (apparently Hanna and Gravity got into an argument as she was coming off of her ladder and Gravity won)…then I see the tears…then I notice the blood dripping.  Surprisingly, I don’t panic.  I’m not a blood and guts guy.  When I see her bleeding though, I’m as calm as a Hindu cow.  She, however, notices the blood and she DOES panic.   Josh’s eyes get really big and in true Josh fashion immediately looks away and starts playing (Nothing fazes this kid).  I try to calm her down, mention to her it would be a good idea to put her hand under her chin to catch the blood.  Get her some paper towels and apply pressure to get the bleeding to stop.  I get it to slow down and see that it’s probably not going to be a simple band aid kind of thing.  I go get the wife to stop mowing (grumble) and we confer and decide to consult with our medical experts.

It’s not too big of a cut but its right on her chin so we’re worried more about location than the actual cut.  So we take a picture, text it to Grandma (the joy of both of my parents being nurses and having a combined 60 years of experience between them), and she agrees an ER adventure is in order.  She thinks they’ll probably glue it and not stitch it, but a simple band aid will not do.  The whole time we’re having these discussions, my daughter is worried about and apologizing for the blood on her floor, which Josh has attempted to clean up.  (Yay!  smeared blood to clean up instead of drops!  Gotta love his heart, though)

The wife says she will take her (the little princess wants her big strong daddy to protect her, but when she’s hurt she wants her momma).  The three boys are left to hold down the fort in the meantime.  My big-hearted boys immediately do what they think is best…they get out their crayons and markers and start making their sister a get well soon card.

When it’s all said and done, she not only did very well, but was laughing and having a great time.  She was asking questions non-stop, she got to listen to her own heartbeat, and was excited when she had a female doctor (she wants to be a doctor).  I survived the night, was more than a little nervous.  I did have some minor chest pains when the wife informed me she was flirting with the male intake clerk.  I never freaked out though.  The wife said I did get quite pale, though.  There may have been a little truth to that…I was quite worried.  The wife handled it a lot better than I did, but this was not her first rodeo.  She was quite sore and daddy won out and convinced mommy to let her have some children’s ibuprofen.  Plus, I may or may not have went in her room 2 or 3 times after she went to sleep to check on her…

At least I learned my little girl is tough, the best is yet to come…

P.S.:  If you have adopted will you please take some time to fill out my survey.  The information is purely confidential and will be used for an upcoming book. Click here to take survey

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Daddy’s Little Girl

Hanna Emily.  Daddy’s little girl.  If you make her cry, I’m going to want to make you cry.  You break her heart, it makes me want to break you.  My little girl has been through hell.  She has had to experience things no nine year old girl should ever have to.  She has seen the absolute worst examples of what men can be, of what fathers can be for that matter.  She stole my heart the moment I laid eyes on her and hasn’t let go of it since.  She’s my baby girl.  My little princess.

In Bragging About the Boy, I spoke of a recent incident with a boy named Eli.  Allow me to set the stage.  I’m picking the kids up from school and I’m asking them how their day went.  I don’t realize right away but as Hanna is getting in, she is crying.  Me:  What’s wrong, baby girl?  Why are you crying?  Hanna:  Because Eli destroyed my tape!  Me: Your tape?  Hanna: Yeah!  (realizing that rational thought has escaped her I decide to change my questioning.  I firmly believe all great police investigators have had to deal with crying children at some point.)  Me:  Ok, let me rephrase…What happened?  Hanna:  Eli took the Hello Kitty tape that Alex got me from my desk while I was up asking Mrs. Ammerman a question and ripped all of the tape out of it and he just threw it on my desk and he’s mean and I don’t like him!  Me *eye twitch*  So now I’m driving home while simultaneously plotting if I could hide the body of an 8 or 9 year old boy anywhere.

Eli is the embodiment of the boy that inspired me to write my Dads Against Daughters Dating column.  Boys that age have started getting just enough hormones to corrupt what few brain cells they have.  What Hanna doesn’t realize is that Eli is acting this way because he actually likes her.  Boys are dumb.  I know this, I was a boy, and I was dumb. (some might argue with the usage of the word “was” and might advocate a more appropriate word like “am” to be used in the previous sentence)  I have an incredibly beautiful daughter and I know that I’m going to have a parade of stupid, horny teenage boys trying to give her all the wrong kinds of attention and it makes me want to buy lots of ammo and eradicate that problem now.  There are two problems with this.  One, there are laws against the mass genocide of an entire generation of boys.  They tend to frown upon that for some reason.  (Although I think if the judge has a daughter I might avoid the death penalty and then you could be reading Just Add Dad: My Life Behind Bars) Two, I know that somewhere in the midst of all of those hormone-crazed mutants is the one boy that is going to see my baby girl for what she is and treat her the way that I treat her mom.

That’s the kicker.

I know, that as much as the thought of her eventually being old enough to have boyfriends (35) and getting married (40) scares me, it also encourages me to know that God has someone special planned for her just like he did for me and her mom.  I don’t want to protect her from ALL boys, just the bad ones.  I want her to experience the same thing her mom did last night.  I gave her ice cream, let her watch a chick flick, gave her little kisses on her cheek and forehead because I know it makes her heart smile when I do that.  I made her smile over and over.  I made her feel like a princess.  I want that for my princess.  For all the fear that the thought of her heart being broken brings me, it pales in comparison to the joy I will feel when she finds the one that can make her feel that way.

Eli is also the embodiment of this in a way.  We found out she’s not going to have him in her class anymore.  You see, Eli finally got adopted.  That made me feel about 3 inches tall.  I’m advocating the death of a little boy that is just crying out to be loved just like my 3 babies were.  Which is why, that night, I started praying for Eli.  I also started praying for my daughter’s future husband. Praying that God has and will continue to put the right men in his life so that he knows how to treat my daughter when the time comes.

She will always be daddy’s little girl, but she will also one day be someone’s beautiful bride.  I hopefully will have quite bit of time to prepare for this.  In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of praying to do.  For her, and for him.  The best is yet to come…

P.S.:  If you have adopted will you please take some time to fill out my survey.  The information is purely confidential and will be used for an upcoming book. Click here to take survey

P.S.S.: If you haven’t yet, please like the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter.  Also, check out the Store.

 

Bragging About The Boy

I love growth moments. I talked about in a previous column, Brotherly Love, how the three stooges were still trying to develop their sibling bonds, due in part to the fact that they were separated from each other, not to mention all of the general turmoil and loose definition of the word family they have had to experience most of their lives.  The wife and I have really been working hard with them lately, though about how they treat each other.  The last couple of weeks, I’ve really seen a change in the boy.

It started with little things.  He held his brother’s hand while they prayed.  He’s started trying to warn his brother and sister when they are about to get in trouble.  He has been encouraging Josh to behave better at school so he won’t get in trouble.

A couple of weeks ago, he got something special for his little sister.  They have a reward system at school for good behavior.  The teachers in 5th grade will pass out these tickets if you do well on a test, behave in class, work well with others, and things like this.  It’s the whole positive reinforcement thing. (When I was younger the positive reinforcement for me was, you don’t do stupid stuff and you won’t get your butt beat…but I digress…man I’m old…)  The kids then get to trade these tickets in for little prizes.  Alex decided to trade his tickets in one day for a Hello Kitty tape dispenser because he knew his little sister would like it.  He used his hard earned tickets to get something for his sister.  My heart swelled with pride.  That’s my boy.

Then the bully struck.  Some punk boy in my baby girl’s class decided to take the tape dispenser from her and rip all of the tape out of it.  So when my little girl gets in the van crying I was not happy.  Alex, being the good big brother he is, offers to just get her another one the next time he can trade in tickets.  I love this boy.  These tickets are his reward for good behavior in class.  It’s his chance to get an extra snack, or something cool for his room, something like that.  Here he is without hesitation willing to use them for his sister, again, to make it right.

I’ve always been impressed with the resilience of these little miracles. They have had to endure far more than most kids their age should have endured. There are two things, though, that make me swell with pride when I see them. When I see them acting like a normal 11-, 9-, and 7-year-old it makes me proud of the job that we’re doing as parents, as well as the family and support system around them, because they finally are normal kids living normal lives. I also love it when I see them grow. It is in those moments that you see the future that lies ahead for these little guys, and you also see that their past no longer defines them.

I love you and I’m so proud of you Alex, the best is yet to come…

P.S.:  If you have adopted will you please take some time to fill out my survey.  The information is purely confidential and will be used for an upcoming book. Click here to take survey

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Adventures in Pinterest: Make Your Own Coffee Creamer

Here is a link to the actual recipe.

Starting a new segment today called “Adventures in Pinterest” which is where I or my family will try some things we see on Pinterest and will share the results.  Most of these will be straight up reviews but I’m sure this will open the door for quite a bit of hilarity.  This first one is pretty straight forward, though.

Coffee.  The nectar of the Gods.  The Holy Elixir.  The Magic Bean.  It tastes of heaven and has the power to transform my beautiful grumpasaur into my beautiful princess.  It helps with my migraines and with my mood.  Coffee…Mmmm…coffee.  *wipes drool* *brews cup of coffee* *Thanks God for his Keurig and the blessing of coffee at the push of a button*  If you want to truly test my marriage take away mine and my wife’s coffee for a full week and watch the carnage that ensues.  We drink a lot of coffee and as a by-product we also drink a lot of coffee creamer.  So, as I was looking through Pinterest *eye twitch* I stumbled across something that advertised to “make your own coffee creamer that will taste just like the store-bought stuff!”  I was intrigued.  So I pinned it. *eye twitch* I can’t believe some of these words are in my vocabulary.  Let alone having enough of a place in my life that I’m starting a new segment on it in my blog, but I digress.  The recipe seemed simple enough and was inexpensive, so I thought “why not?”

The recipe calls for 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 3/4  cup milk or cream, and 1 tbsp of various flavoring agents depending on what you are wanting the flavor to be.

I used 1 can of Eagle Brand Condensed milk, 1 3/4 cup milk, 1 tbsp vanilla, and 1 tbsp cinnamon extract.

Easy?  Yes, quite.  I just combined the ingredients in a large mixing cup and mixed together well with a whisk.  Then I poured the mixture into an old coffee creamer bottle that I had rinsed out so as not to mix up the flavors at all.

Taste?  Not bad.  It’s not going to taste like International Delight but still taste really good.  The main thing I noticed is that it is not as sweet as the store-bought stuff so may be best to add a little bit of some sort of sweetener to the mix or to just make sure you put a little extra sweetener in your coffee when you do it.

As Advertised? For the most part.  It was very simple and the flavor is good.  I just would not go as far as they do in saying that it tastes just like the store-bought creamer.  That being said, you could probably tweak the recipe to achieve this but I’m just going by trying it as they have it listed.  Also, it does still taste good and as a whole is cheaper to make than buying the creamer so it will save you a few bucks a year and is not complicated at all.

Overall rating:  7/10.  Worth it.  Just be willing to adjust the recipe if you are super particular about your creamer.  I’m more particular about my coffee so I’m fine with it.

P.S.:  If you have adopted will you please take some time to fill out my survey.  The information is purely confidential and will be used for an upcoming book. Click here to take survey

P.S.S.: If you haven’t yet, please like the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter.  Also, check out the Store.

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