Jami the Brave

Guest blog to day on the fun blog momsgoing.com!

Mom's Going to Madagascar

547592_3961306391397_890561921_nJami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at http://sacredgroundstickyfloors.com/or follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sacredgrounds.stickyfloors/ or Twitter at https://twitter.com/jamijo777

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This has not ever been my title.  I am a scaredy-cat…

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EPIC PARENTING: A How to Guide

Allow me to teach you a thing or two.

It is at this point you will want to run screaming from this post.

Fine.

You asked for it.

When our oldest daughter, Mary Margaret, code name Maggie, was about 3 it started.  If she got into any trouble, say for biting her brother John, she would peacefully close her eyes while she was reprimanded.  She just refused to open them.  It was like some weird ancient Buddha meditation.  Except, we were Catholic.  The child would not open her eyes.  No expression on her chubby little cheeks. She would simply go to her happy place.

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This would push my dear husband to his breaking point.  Short of prying her eyes open, we had little recourse.  Still our first two children were rather easy and then… along came Luke.  He made us real parents, kind of like how Pinocchio became a real boy.  And if you ever meet him, after you admire his killer dimples, you can thank him for his service to this blog.  If not for Luke, I would be the most obnoxious parent on the planet.

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I really did think I knew it all.

And even before we ventured down the adoption route, we fondly could separate the children into two categories, by birth order.  The “odds” – which were Maggie and Luke, and the “evens” which were John and Sophie.  Interestingly enough, each of the groups has increased in number, Sam joining the odds and code name Charlie joining the evens, and their personalities adhere perfectly to their assigned birth order.  But, I digress.

The odds are much more tenacious than the evens.  And as Maggie grew out of the meditative trance stage, she entered into a more vocal state of expressing herself.  My husband, a birth ordered even himself,  took this parenting approach: “Don’t tell me what you won’t do.” This worked a good portion of the time. When Maggie was nine, we took her to visit a local swim team.  As we were leaving, she said, “Forget that, I am not swimming.”

Nine years later, as we read her accolades at her home school, high school graduation, her 9-year accomplishments on that swim team were a key part of our praises. As was her season as a coach of the same team.

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And we have tried to stick by this methodology.  We are in charge.  We are the boss of you.

As Luke entered into adolescence, we stood by this.  We are in charge.  We are the boss of you.  And to the same extent we stood by “Don’t tell us what you won’t do” we added, “We will follow through with punishments.”  Which is kind of ironic? I threaten to kick their lungs out, but I never really have.  And yet, when I say, “I am going to kick your lung out,” they hop to.  So I guess they believe me.

And last summer, when Luke refused to follow the rules, we spoke these words: “One more time, one more incident, and you will be going to military school.” 

As we drove those 486 miles, I truly believed I was dying of a broken heart.  Good grief!  I am crying again.  It was physically painful.  And what so many people have failed to understand, and have been so easy to criticize is, I would do anything to save his life.  And at this stage of the game, that meant he had to go.

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I love this boy.  I love his company.  He is hilarious and smart.  He is strong and wise.  And his absence in these halls has been deafening.  The financial burden has been – I can’t even begin to describe.  But, I was never promised it would be easy.

And it is not about me.

I think that my folly was that I believed I could follow a certain formula.  That no meant no, and we are the boss of you and you won’t tell us what you will and won’t do or you get a lung kicked. Homeschool, go to church, cook a pot roast, foster and adopt babies, read the bible, walk three miles, and “SHAZAM!” Perfectly grown, Christ following, law abiding, humans.

Kind of like me?

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And therein lies the truth.

I am not a perfectly grown, Christ following, law abiding human.  I eat things I shouldn’t, I drive 74 in a 65, and I love Jesus, but surely He doesn’t mind if I stop following him to watch garbage on television… I will get back to Him when it is a good time for me.  My transgressions are many.  The last 6 months with Luke gone, this has been the resounding gong in my life.  And I have peacefully closed my eyes and tried to pretend I was not being reprimanded.

1613857_10206407267960835_1267108220020657320_nBut I am.

We all are, we are constantly given direction that we blatantly ignore.  And yet, we are all quick to judge.  You can think I am as wicked as they come, and I have the emails to prove some of you do, all the while you have one foot out the window sneaking out past curfew.

 

Sin is sin is sin.  It all smells the same – icky.  And it always has a snowball effect and impacts those around us.  But I don’t know how to stop?  I don’t know how to completely change?  And I beg God to help me and show me what I am doing wrong… And sometimes, there are harsher consequences, and sometimes He offers grace and a new day.

I cease to be stubborn, I open my eyes, and I see where I went wrong.  I vow to be different.

I hope I am different.  I hope I do better.  I hope I learned my lesson.  I hope…

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Yesterday, I bought Luke a one-way ticket home.  I spent the day enrolling him in dual credit courses at the University where Maggie and John attend, where I graduated.  He wants to study Cultural Anthropology and Behavioral Psychology.  He wants a fresh start. And we want to offer him grace and a new day.  If he follows through with his goals, He will graduate from homeschool high school in 20 months.  Like his “odd” counterpart Maggie, he has the ability to graduate with 45 college credits toward his goals.

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And I believe in him.

I learn my parenting skills from the best, my Father in Heaven.  It probably won’t look like you think it will, and I can promise you it will be heart-wrenchingly awful some days.  But the key to my success is closing my eyes and focusing on how heart breakingly hard, utterly exhausting, and exasperatingly hopeful it is to still be parenting me.  And He keeps on…

I wonder what my birth order is in kingdom terms?

HA! Just kidding, I just know I am an odd.

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained.  Love, Jami

“Pardon me, my Lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying.  I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.  So now, I will give him to the Lord. For his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there. 1 Samuel 1:26

 

 

 

 

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A journey of a thousand miles begins with cranberry jello… 

I left home with the vandals 12 days ago.

My mission was to get our son from the airport, on break for Thanksgiving from military school. We would all be together on Lake Conroe.


My first gluten free Thanksgiving complete with cranberry jello, included: a visit from local authorities with aforementioned son, long conversations with family, my editor, my agent, a rejection notice, a new web design, notice of adoption pending for a vandal, a big bill from attorney for aforementioned vandal, boat rides, a near drowning, lots of coffee in my pajamas until noon, a dead deer on ice in the Buick, leftovers, hooch, NO sleep, a car accident, a nut allergy fiasco, a vandal diarrhea incident & a spilled gallon of milk in Target, and I am two hours from home…


I just checked into a hotel with the vandals.

Two hours is two too many hours to go. God bless the front desk clerk who assisted in the hosing of Sam’s car seat.  Jesus loves you, woman.


Vandals are bathed. But I still smell like poop. I am pretty sure it’s in my hair.

And the guy in the elevator, we will call him Einstein, who pointed out I, “have my hands full!” 

Bless.

Why do people say this?  Talk about stating the obvious.

As the elevator opened and both boys bolted down the long hall he snort/laughed.


And I can only figure he’s jealous.

My entire life is this fantastic all the time. Who would want to live any other way?  This is the stuff dreams are made of. These two traveling companions are exhausting, but they are CRAZY in love with me.

Life without them – without any of them – would be no life at all.  And I wish I had blogged back when it was cool.  My 13-year-old recently pointed out that blogging was so “2012.” But I love the record. And a seasoned author just told me that I should write like no one is reading… And I like that.  Because I parent like no one is watching, and then some numbskull on the elevator says… “You’ve got your hands full…”


And apparently I am being watched.

And they are being watched.

And they are fabulous.

But don’t tell them that.

The six humans I call my children bring a wealth of substance to my life.  I am not perfect, and they certainly aren’t, but thank God for that too.

 

 

Thank God for the journey to find Him in everything.

Thank God for the wonder of maturation –  Physically, mentally, and spiritually.  How boring would it be if we were spot on? If we had already arrived at the place, we assume everyone has already arrived?  

 

Maybe that is beginnings of my New Years resolution … Or revolution.  To bask in the wonder of growth, embracing the mess. Resting in the new season of being an old mom of young sons who make others envious of my fanciful hands full living.

And at the same time entering into a season of older kids, in which case I am young mom, where I boldly believe they will serve The God of Isreal with creative compassion. Believing they will do so without pride or presumption. And! I will believe in them even when others do not.

Even when maybe they haven’t earned the right to be believed in.


They can count on me to take the risk that they are growing in wisdom… As HE who lives in me believes I am.

The wonder of mom life – Much like the uninhibited wonder of toddlers in a hotel.

Unknown elevator buttons to push that set off loud alarms!  Hotel security chasing you naked through the parking lot while strangers hose poop out of your car seat!  The hotel manager stopping by your room, for the third time, to see if you really need medical assistance or if someone just accidentally dialed that number, again.  And of course, a resounding “yes!” when you ask, “Mommy can we eat cheese naked in the cold sheets?”

This is how I want to live.
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Two hours from home, no clean towels, with naked toddlers eating American cheese slices in my bed on the cold sheets, watching Elmo… Fully aware I am loved by the Creator of all things weird, drinking wine from a Styrofoam Marriott cup, blogging.

Be jealous.

I have yet to arrive.

“My soul waits in silence for God alone; my hope comes from HIM.” Psalm 62:5

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami

Thanksgiving 2012 (1)

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Great Lies I Tell My Children…

Don’t you dare? Don’t even start with me missy!  Need I remind you?

Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth-Fairy, and The Great Pumpkin?  Well, that last one isn’t a thing, but the others…

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All the great moms lie.  And if you’ve read this blog more than once I can assume you know:

  1. I am not that great, but I get by,  just barely.
  2. I use whatever cheap tactics I can to get through the day.

So this is the truth, this blog was inspired by my brother’s delicate verbalization describing my phone voes to me.

Me: So you are saying that my phone doesn’t work and it is my fault?

Michael: I am saying that choices you have made have contributed to your phone’s inability to work at the intended capacity for which it was created.

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Pro parent 101:  Wording is everything.

And I have a new batch of babies. And I can’t decide if I am lying too much, or not enough, and I am questioning lies of old.  Starting with Santa.

Our Luke, he’s the stuff real parents are made of, and he too inspired this line of thinking.  He hit the ground challenging all that we knew about our parenting abilities.  He was our third and he continues to rock our world.

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When Luke started to question Santa’s existence and we sat down to have “the talk” with him he responded with: “So, should I assume you lied about Jesus too?” To which we were utterly horrified and then he refused to attend church with us while he, “decided for himself what the truth was since he obviously couldn’t trust us.”  He was 9.

Yep, that’s my son.

 

 

And yes, for you loyal followers, he is the one I  just put on a plane back to military school.  And, I double dog dare you to judge me out loud. IF you decide to trudge down this dangerous indisposition of parenting: “I would never…” or “You should…” please include your email address so I can attach the necessary paperwork for you to enroll your child in military school.

Just don’t.  NEVER SAY NEVER.

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I digress, what to do about the vandals and Santa… I truly struggle with this.  Because, it isn’t true.  And yes, it is all in fun and tradition.  And I know that it shouldn’t be that big of a deal… and I am old to start changing things up now.

 

And with the other kids we padded our traditional tall tale with the story of the real St. Nick, but the vandals birth into our family began with a tragedy.  And I feel I owe them something… different.

And I tell other stories to them. If you could see the goopy wax that comes out of Sam’s ears.  This stuff is insane.  And, it is brown.  So when he was about 6 months old I took him to the pediatrician and bemoaned my concern.  “It’s brown!” and the pediatrician said, “Yeah, just wipe it out with a warm washcloth.” and I said, “Is it brown because he is Mexican?  Like, does it look like that because of his skin color?” and the pediatrician gave me a record book’s technical, “You are a moron” look and said,

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“No.”

Fair enough, I didn’t know?

But, this is nuclear waste wax.  And now that he’s coming up on 4 it is harder and harder to hold him down to clean it.  So, I lie.  “Time to get the spiders out of your ears!” Sam hates spiders.

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Oh, don’t look at me like that.

He will drop what he is doing and  lay down and let me dig that goop out with a shovel.  And! In all fairness, since the birth of the “spiders in your ears” lies, he has stopped having ear infections. I can put the wax dissolving ear drops in his ears and therefore, it was in his best interest for me to lie in order to get the sludge out of his ears.

Whatever, we will get him the appropriate counseling when he’s ready.  But, surely some of you would agree, you do what ya gotta do.

I guess I can’t stop thinking about how hard the teen years are.  The identity crisis, even with my easier teens, is somewhat unavoidable.  And the vandals are little.  I hope to teach them, like the children before them, that their true identity is in Christ, but I also know – this is their reality to embrace.  You can lead a horse to water, ya da ya da ya da.

And, when the vandals begin to hit thirteen, I’ll be 54. Dealing with 13-year-old, adopted, sons will be a whole new territory.  And they are cute and cuddly now and community thinks it so dear that we have opened our homes. But, I am curious about how a community embraces adoptive families when these babies are at their most difficult? Or are questioning traditions, their identity, or Jesus?

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And I know they need to know they are adopted, but I don’t want that to be their whole identity.  As Christians, we are all adopted.  In 40 years, I want them to describe themselves as Christ seeking men, who love Jesus; men who came to serve, not be served.

 

And their adoption into our family?  A tiny portion of the magnitude of their existence and their impact on the least of these.

So, I cannot decide.  And I guess I have some time. But I want them to trust us, and I want them to have traditions. I want them to have balance.  I want them to know who they are, where they came from, and why we raised them in a home that believes that Jesus is the Messiah.

I know they’ll be raised to believe that the ice cream truck only plays music when it’s out of ice cream and that balloons are a creation from the devil. I know these things haven’t damaged the grown children too badly… but Santa, and the other lies?  I readily admit I just don’t know.

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And I guess I’ll decide later, right now I must go get the spiders out of Sam’s ears.

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God–“ John 1:12

 

 

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Confessions of a Potential Child Abuser

I recently saw one of those Facebook memes, CLICK LIKE if you hate child abuse.  SHARE to STOP child abuse.

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I did nothing.

Our foster-to-adopt journey has been the scariest, saddest, most joyful, rollercoaster of my life.  I have learned a few things:

  1. It’s not about me.
  2. Every foster to adopt story begins with a horrible tragedy.
  3. Sometimes, to pray for that which I want more than anything in the world, means I am praying someone else must fail in the worst possible way. I cannot pray that prayer and so I only whimper, “Thy will be done.”
  4. Child abuse is not something any one of us is above.

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Piety.  Just when I think I have heard it all, I get the wind knocked out of me.  One of the hardest things I have dealt with is being questioned about my morals because my two young sons “obviously” have different baby daddies.  Yep.  And mommies.  But, I had to look closely at this. Was I embarrassed that my morals were being questioned? Am I congratulatory that I have been married to the same man for 23+ years? And do I give a prideful response, “They are foster, or they are adopted.” So as to receive kudos for my commitment? And then I realized that wasn’t it. It is not about me. Frankly, I don’t care what you think about my morals, sex life, marriage, or politics.

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It’s none of your business.

No, I realized that I am offended by this because you are questioning the legitimacy of my sons.  And I WILL NOT defend them to you.  Their birth mothers chose LIFE for them.  They, like me, are far from perfect, but they are LIFEGIVERS. And the vandals’ story is theirs. Use your judgmental imagination to make up all the perverse stories you’d like about their conception… seems that is your problem, not mine or my sons’.

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That being said, Justin and I haven’t slept in 8 days, actually, we haven’t slept since 1995, but the last eight days have been the most traumatic.

We are still at my parents’ house for the long holiday week.  Justin and a couple kids will head back today. I will stay behind to deliver one of the kids to the airport late Sunday afternoon.  The teen sons are deer hunting with my dad. And our eldest daughter’s boyfriend arrived last night for a couple days on the lake.

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The vandals have not slept. My parents’ home is large, but the baby boys sleep in a room with Justin and I. When one wakes, the other wakes, and no one is getting much sleep.

At 8:00 last night the living room was alive with laughter. Sam and Charlie were performing sidesplitting shenanigans.  Sam was talkative and trying desperately to excuse the fact that his jeans were mysteriously wet, and he had no idea why?  Charlie was passing out kisses and being chatty. The commotion was uproarious.

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9:00 they were “jammied-up” and in their temporary beds. Sam said, “Mommy, I ‘wike’ you so much I need one more ‘tiss.’” And Charlie said, “Me to mommy!  Me too!”

Priceless.

1:00 am we are awakened out of precious, deep, REM sleep, by Sam’s shrill cries.  He is SCREAMING.  And, he’s either praying in satanic tongues, or he is a true “Treky” and is fluent in Klingon.  Whatever he is chanting it is not in English, and it is freaky.  And there is no consoling him.

I lay him back down, and he kicks me in the lip.  He is flailing and chanting.  “ravDaq Qong ghewmey neH HaSta jIH ‘ej ‘ej qamuS legh vIneH” which I googled and isn’t Satanic, it is, in fact, Klingon, and loosely translates to, “I want to watch television, I don’t want to sleep on the floor. I hate you.”

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For two hours, we are up and down and up and down. We are like a well-oiled machine. Me, then Justin, me, then Justin… And at 3:00 am Charlie stands in his porta-crib and starts hollering, “MILK, ELMO, MILK, ELMO.”

Sam falls asleep.

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There’s the point you just lay there, succumbing to the madness.  I can hear the echo of my heart pounding in the old Serta mattress, or is that my pounding head? Either way it is a rhythmic strumming that is obvious but doesn’t drown out the screams. It is beyond stressful.

I literally can feel my skin start to break out.  Chin acne is my body’s first line of defense against stress. Bless.

My emotions run the gantlet, sad, frustrated, fury, weepy, mad, exhausted, worried… I think I laughed out loud at one point.

Cry babies.

We are old to be up with non-sleeping, Klingon-speaking, crazed toddlers.  We have been sleep deprived for years.  It physically hurts to be awake. Call me crazy, if I was them, and someone put lavender lotion all over my body, “jammied” me up and lay me in cool, clean, sheets with Aunt Kelly’s homemade quilts and diffused essential oils into the room I WOULD FREAKING SLEEP!?!?!?!  And I would do it for long for long periods of time???

This is a phenomenon that eludes me.  Truly youth is wasted on the young.

 

All this to say, it is easy to judge broken families, broken babies, broken mommas, and daddies. It is easy to click LIKE and say you want to stop child abuse. It is easy to question the race of the babies in the basket in front of you in the checkout line… it is easy to assume you know what you would do and when you would do it, but parenting is the hardest of gigs, and the greatest truth of parenting… “It’s not about you.”

 

shutterstock_260891675And at our very worst moments, sleep deprived, kicked in the face, mouth full of blood, chin acne like a pubescent thug, we come to serve, not be served.  And it was modeled for us by our Father in Heaven. Willing to do anything for the least of these.  But by the grace of God go I. That I have Justin, and that Justin has me, and we parent together – sleepless nights I am most grateful for this. In my delirium I pray for single moms and dads, sleep deprived ones, heartbroken ones, parents with empty arms, and the life givers. Strength, abundance and rest upon each of you.

Remember these things when the frazzled mom of many is in front of you in the grocery line, or when you see horror stories on the news. Remember the fatigue, and the frustration and remember to pray for these tired parents and their babies:  But by the grace of God go I…

And, how can I serve the least of these?  

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained.  Love, Jami

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

Learn more about Foster Care, Adoption, Foster-adopt, and other ways you can help children and families in need on the Sacred Ground Sticky Floors Foster & Adoption Page or contact your local Child Protective & Family Services for programs, services, and options that are available in your area.

Check out this blog..http://jenniferfulwiler.com/ she’s cool, and I accidentally stole one of her pics… yipes.

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