HOW CAN IT BE?

     It's a frightening world in which we live, a world that I will not 
even pretend to understand. For example, I will never comprehend how the taking of innocent lives by one individual or more makes the person or 
people involved heroes according to a religion or any other group
affiliation. I will never comprehend how any human being can be hard-
hearted enough to say that a two-year-old's life is not that big of a 
deal, especially since his father is "wealthy" and "privileged." I will
never know why children are so cruel to one another, so cruel that many 
teens take their own lives as a result. So many happenings in today's
world are unexplainable through my eyes.  The only words I have form the
question, "How can it be?"
     Here's what I do know:
*I am a mother to two precious children.
*The lives of my kids mean EVERYTHING to me.
*I would give anything for the happiness of my children, and by this I
do not mean resort to violence or spread any of the uncertainty to which I have alluded above.
*I would make great personal sacrifices to know that my children 
could freely travel and experience the world without fear.
*I pray that God--and that means whichever God one wants to worship if he
or she even chooses to do so--that God will keep my children safe, even
if they choose to venture beyond their own comfort zones.
     All I as a parent can do is educate my children about the different
beliefs that exist in this world. I am not a miracle worker; therefore, I cannot change the minds of others.  I can only hope that God follows my children wherever they choose to journey. I can only hope that my 
children WILL accept the differences of others and respect those 
differences. I never imagined that in the year 2016 so much human 
intolerance would be present in our lives and in our world.
     When I was pregnant with my first child, the Twin Towers were 
attacked in New York City, attacked, destroyed, decimated.  I cried and 
cried, wondering why I was bringing an innocent child into such an 
unstable world. At the time, I had no clue that the Twin Towers were 
only the beginning of what we as humans would endure at the hands of one
another.  Now, as my children grow older, I realize that they MUST live
their lives, despite the growing fears that face us not only as a society but as a world.
     It is still my belief that no one else has any right to steal the 
joy and happiness of others, no matter what their opinions and beliefs 
may be. We live in America; thus, we are free to live our own lives and 
make our own choices. But, under no circumstances should any one of those
choices involve stealing innocent lives untimely. I cannot even fathom
where the notion originated that such a practice is acceptable. Life is
short and precious. We all should be entitled to live our lives and be
as happy as we choose to be, regardless of our religions or beliefs. I 
will say it again: No human has any right to steal joy, happiness, or 
breath from any other human being. I can only hope as a mother who
loves her children more than anything in this world that they will never
be harmed by the hatred that is rapidly breeding and spreading in our own country and in the world. I will be praying each and every day for not
only the safety of my own children but for the safety of every human life in the world. My greatest desire is to see my children happy and safe, 
for they are the greatest gifts God has bestowed upon me, and what God 
has created and shared with me and others, no one else should feel he or she has the right to steal or destroy.

God Bless our world and everyone in it.

~A mother's hopes and prayers for a broken world
Advertisements

Perfectionism and Parenting Do Not Mix Well

I grew up as a perfectionist; I live my life as a perfectionist; but I need to try to give it up in order to be an effective mother.  This is especially important as my girls continue to grow and head into their teen years.  I was always pushed, even as a kid, to be the best.  When I was in 4th grade, if I did not understand a math concept, I would bring my math workbook home and have my dad teach me the next 4-5 lessons so I would always be ahead.

I guess birth order figures into my situation as well.  I have a younger brother, but the pressure was never great for him, just for me.  My dad lived a horrible life with parents who didn’t care whether or not he even finished high school.  My mother grew up very poor, living in a home with five siblings, a stay-at-home mother, and a father who was working on-again, off-again at the steel foundry.  So, as I journeyed through life, I understood my parents’ message to me:  they wanted a better and more prosperous life for me than they had for themselves.  It makes sense; all parents want good lives for their children.  However, the stress and pressure of it all caused some of the anxiety and worry I suffer today.

I was always very successful, but for some reason, it was never enough for my mom.  A report card with all “A’s” and one “B” was not acceptable.  Instead of focusing on the great grades, she focused on the “B,” which isn’t even horrible.  In college, I missed Dean’s List just ONE semester.  Man did I ever hear the disappointment speech of a lifetime from her.  Funny thing was, my brother received a “D” that year in one of his college courses, but excuses were made, and guys are just different.  So, I grew up with this belief that I had to be perfect no matter what, and that perfectionism was not only school-related; it transferred over into everything I did.  Even now that I am grown and have children, my mother will criticize small things that I do.

I decided that I would not be the same way with my own children; however, about two months ago, I realized that I was falling into the trap myself.  One night, I was brushing my teeth for bed, and I looked over into the trash can beside my counter.  I noticed a long strand of ash blonde hair.  Now, my hair falls out in clumps when I shower or comb it, so I know what that looks like.  I headed over to my oldest daughter’s room and asked her about the hair.  She told me it fell out when she was brushing her hair for bed.  I asked her over and over again if she were sure that her story was correct.  She said she was.  So, I headed for my shower.  As the water trickled over me, I knew something just was not right; it bugged me the entire time.

After my shower, I headed back to my daughter’s room.  She was half asleep and ready to be rid of me.  I asked again.  This time she said, “Mom, I could not figure out my math problem, so I ripped out my hair.”  She then rolled over and went to sleep.  I was stunned; I ran from her room crying and wondering what I was doing to my little girl.  She didn’t say it, but I was sure my pressure had caused this incident.

The next morning, I sat both girls down and had a very serious talk with them.  Now, granted, my girls are only 8 and almost 11, but they are very mature for their age and gifted intellectually and creatively.  My oldest skipped a grade last year due to her intellect.  So, I told myself, “You are out.  They know what they need to do.  If they don’t do it; that’s on them, and you will support them.”  Trust me, I do not want either of my girls to live the stressful life I grew up with or still struggle with today.  So, I told them that I trust them and know that they are on top of their school work.  Both girls’ schools distribute free agendas, and both of my girls make use of the books.  So, I said, “I am here for you if you need me, and you know where to find me.  But, I am no longer going to constantly nag and ask if something is finished.  However, if I notice you are not working well on your own, or a teacher contacts me, then I will step in.  But, if you two are doing fine on your own, I am here if and when you need me.”

They both seemed very appreciative, and both are doing extremely well in all aspects of their lives.  I truly do not worry about their school work, because they have proven to me that they are responsible and capable.  Do I worry about other aspects of their lives?  Sure, but that is for another blog entry.  I also bought each girl a very sturdy yet comfortable stress ball for her desk.  I told them that when school work or anything becomes overwhelming, reach for the stress ball, not their hair or anything else that could harm them.  All has been great since then, and I am trying to do better with my own anxieties and issues.  Again, topics for other blog entries!

DEIDEI

How Do You Let Go Of The Worry?

My husband and I have two daughters, and I am the worry wart of the family.  He and I disagree on many items when it comes to the kids.  Our oldest is fairly laid back, but our youngest is easily drawn into drama.  She was invited to a sleep over tonight about a month ago.  When she found out this other girl was invited, that was all she could focus on.  Now, this other child has been known to bully others and be mean as well.  While I know my daughter is not perfect, I have even witnessed some of this child’s actions.

So, I tried my best to calm my daughter and offer her sound advice.  My husband says I need to let it go and allow her to deal with it on her own; however, the thought of someone being mean to my child for no reason upsets me, rather infuriates me.  Anyway, I told her that it is Mia’s birthday party, and SHE should be the focus tonight.  NONE of them should be fighting about anything.  I told her if there is a question or dispute, ask Mia what SHE wants.  So, I thought my advice was reasonable.  I even offered to pick my daughter up at any hour if things spiraled out of control.  I explained that it wasn’t fair to Mia for her friends to be fighting at her birthday party.

My husband says, that although he does think I gave good advice, I worry too much.  So, I need some help, Mothers.  How do I stop?  I just want my little girls to be happy.  I know not all life experiences bring about happiness, but birthday parties at ages 8 & 9 should, shouldn’t they?  I have just been noticing a trend in mean qualities lately amongst girls.  I also teach grades 3-5, and some kids are just down right awful to each other.  I know at some point they need to learn to deal with conflict, but as a mom, I struggle with this so much.  It doesn’t help that this girl’s mother is also mean to me and half of the other mothers she encounters.  So, that expression, “The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” does apply.

I tried my best with this one, and I really did think I handled it well.  But, now I am sitting here filled with worry, hoping things are going well, for everyone.  I don’t want my daughter to fight with anyone.  I tried to equip her with responses that would best suit the situation.  When I spoke to the mother who is hosting the party, she too mentioned that she was worried due to the mix of personalities.  About 10 girls are sleeping over, and she said she realizes that about half of them have strong personalities.  She said she was somewhat concerned about the night as well.  So, that did not comfort me much.

I do try to stay out of my daughters’ problems and situations.  And, as I said, with the older one, it is simple.  But with my little one, it is tougher for me.  She shares a great deal with me, and we are pretty close.  My husband says she shares TOO much, but I am glad she does.  I am afraid that one day she will not share enough, if anything at all.  So, I want to build a trust with her so that she knows I am here for her no matter what.  My husband calls me a helicopter mom, and I probably am.  Maybe it’s the fact that she is my baby, my youngest.  I love both of my girls the same, but my older one does not let me into her life as easily and as openly as my youngest.  I trust them both, but it is just different with my younger child.

I just want the best for my kids, as does any mother.  But it is so difficult to handle situations when you know how other children treat yours, when you have personally witnessed the cruel words and actions.  So, please help me to get a grip.  I am looking for advice!  I know there are moms out there who are much calmer and more laid back than I.  Any suggestions would help!  Thanks!

DEIDEI

I Sometimes Find Myself Watching/Listening to Disney Channel, Even When My Kids Are Nowhere In Sight

It’s funny how addicted I too have become to the shows and music featured on the Disney Channel.  Just now, I was cleaning up Christmas items, trying to organize, and carrying new gifts to and fro their new homes.  Finally, I looked up at the screen to see Chyna Anne McClain singing and dancing in a music video.  When I realized that neither girl were around, I changed to my music channel, 816–Today’s Hits–on the satellite.  

Right now, my favorite Disney Channel show is Good Luck, Charlie.  My husband and I really relate to the parent characters Amy and Bob.  We chuckle just as much as the girls.  When Wizards of Waverly Place still featured new episodes, I would be just as excited as the girls, if not more, for the new episode debuts.  Another one of my favorites is Shake It Up; that one combines great music and dance moves all in one show.  It is amazing how your interests tend to mold around those of your children.  Right now, I am really into Bridget Mendler’s songs.  My husband and I took our daughters to two of Selena Gomez’s concerts; I think he and I knew more of her songs than did our girls.

I’m not as big on some of the other shows, but despite that, I still really enjoy the music.  For example, I am not a huge Austin and Ally fan, nor do I truly love A.N.T. Farm.  However, I do love the music.  When I look at how much my life has changed since becoming a parent, it is amazing.  I don’t think any of my husband’s college friends ever would have imagined him mouthing the words to Selena Gomez songs at her concert.  Parenting is a great trip, and becoming involved in their interests builds stronger connections and relationships.

I think one of our saddest TV moments was the ending of iCarly.  The girls grew up loving Miranda Cosgrove as the devious little sister on Drake and Josh.  We never missed an episode of Drake and Josh or iCarly.  The girls found it funny how Miranda reversed roles in the two shows.  In iCarly, Sam took on the devious and mean role, while Carly was the nice and kind girl.

I just hope that as the girls grow they continue to allow us to be part of their interests.  At moments, I can see the older child stare at us as though we are crazy when we belt out Katy Perry songs or other popular tunes.  I’m going to continue to follow their interests; it doesn’t hurt to be involved, even if they try to push us away.

A Tale of Two Talents

My husband and I have two very gifted young daughters.  Each is talented in her own way; however, one always seems to be able to do sports and activities way better than the other.  Our oldest daughter is certainly the brains of the family, and she tries her hardest and best at everything she endeavors.  However, our youngest daughter is no intellectual slacker, plus, she is great at everything she does.  It is frustrating as a parent to endure this, because it is difficult to explain to the child who tries so hard but just doesn’t quite make it as far as her sibling.

My greatest example involves the sport of swimming.  My oldest really wanted to try the sport of swimming, and at the time, my youngest did not have much interest.  Now, my oldest only became interested at the age of 9, so she missed the time where you only had to swim the length of the pool once.  She was thrown right into 50 yard swims with all strokes.  Well, after watching her older sister at a few practices, the younger daughter decided she too wanted to swim.  Guess what?  She jumps in the water and swims like a pro.

We’ve been involved in swimming now for three seasons, and our youngest has many advantages.  Because she has a July birthday, she is able to swim at the younger age level all year, winter and summer.  Our oldest has a winter birthday and has already had to move to the next level.  At her level, there is tough competition, so it is difficult for her to break into heat 1, the only heat that is able to place, score, or earn any ribbons or medals.  Our youngest is in a close race for being the top swimmer in her age category.  Many of the outstanding girl swimmers from her last year’s group have now moved into her sister’s group.  So while we have tried to explain this to both girls, it is still difficult to watch out oldest receive “Participant” ribbons while our youngest is earning blue ribbons and medals.  Additionally, our youngest makes it to the finals each year.  Last year, our oldest made it as an alternate with a relay team, but because no one scratched, she was not able to swim.  She had to be there, but she could not swim.  The youngest and her relay team took 6th place and earned a medal.  So, while winning is not everything, when you have two children competing in the same sport, it is tough to handle the concept.

Last week our youngest was entered into the 50 yard freestyle event.  In the summer, 8-year-olds do not swim this event, but in the winter they do.  Because our daughter is a more seasoned swimmer, she has to swim this event due to its length.  Last week, when she found out she was in the 50, she came up to me pouting.  Well, she won the event.  Hence, the pouting won’t take place again.  In fact, she now wants to swim that event again.  To make matters worse, she even beat her older sister’s time by one second!  Our oldest last week met with a snafu, one that left her feeling quite down.

A mistake was made last swim meet, and our oldest was put into the first heat of the breast stroke.  Now, the 50-yard-breast stroke is her absolute best event, so at first, my husband and I thought, “Great, she earned a spot.”  She legitimately won 4th place, scoring two points for her team.  She was so pumped to finally contribute to the team.  However, her spirits were dashed when we learned that she was mistakenly placed into the first heat.  She was supposed to be in the second heat; thus, she had to give up 4th place, or the team would have been penalized.  The worst part:  She REALLY did beat the girl who was supposed to be there.  It was so heartbreaking for her and for my husband and myself.  She finally earns a place, finally scores points for the team, and because of a mistake, none of it counts.

The bright spot in all of this centers around time.  Our oldest really did swim a great breast stroke time, and we told her that she did prove herself to her coaches.  So, we are hoping that the next meet she is given another shot to prove herself again.  It is so difficult as a parent having two children with different levels of talent.  Both girls are intellectually gifted; the older one is definitely more intellectual.  However, the younger is far more creative.  Both girls play musical instruments, and both are part of many activities.  So, we try time and again to point out all of their great achievements–academically, athletically, creatively; but, at times, it is a struggle.

As parents, you want ALL of your children to experience success.  While winning isn’t everything, it is nice once in a while; especially when one child experiences so much athletic success.  The older one, though she has received many academic awards, fails to see that when it comes to swimming and comparing herself to her sister.  Are they both gifted and talented?  Absolutely.  Are my husband and I blessed with them?  No doubt about it.  But, at times, we do feel perplexed when it comes to explaining the difference in talent and ability.  My husband and I always say:  Parenting is the most difficult job we have ever encountered.

Kids’ sports: Competitive Parents

When my husband and I were kids, we can’y remember being involved in sports until we were at least 8-years-old.  However, these days, the programs are starting younger and younger.  Our two girls both started playing soccer at the age of 3.  But, we have discovered two very important lessons:  1.  Parents are WAY more involved in the sport than the kids, and 2.  Starting so young brings about burn out.

In our house, we have a rule concerning sports and physical activity.  Each girl MUST participate in at least ONE athletic activity.  Now, the younger one chooses everything under the sun; she plays soccer in the fall; basketball and swimming in the winter, soccer in the spring; and various camps throughout the summer.  The older one has given up everything except for swimming.  Whatever they choose is fine with us as long as they are somehow physically involved in something.  And, although this is our rule, as my husband and I watch some parents, we realize why children come to hate sports, why children burn out and tire of sports by the time they reach high school.

I will begin with soccer, the fall sport for our youngest.  Neither my husband nor I agree with settling an 8-year-old into a position at this age; however, already, winning is extremely important.  Our daughter is a great defender, so this entire season, she played defense.  We did not cause one stir about the fact that she never had an opportunity to score.  She played her role, and we kept our mouths shut.  We didn’t want the responsibility of coaching, so we did not–like many others–sit on the sidelines and criticize the coaches.  We did, though, have husband/wife discussions in privacy; that is okay.  But, there was one girl on the team who refused to play defense, even when put into that position.  Know why?  Her parents promised her $5.00 for every goal.  Now, if you were an 8-year-old little girl, you would want to play offense every game too!  Needless to say, however, the entire team suffered.  Mistakes were made, and the ball was NEVER passed to teammates.  Why would you pass the ball?  If you have the chance to score and earn $5.00, you cannot pass that up.  So, many lessons were learned this season.  It was our daughter’s first year playing on a travel team, and we discovered just how important winning is, even at her age.  Our daughter was at the point where she didn’t want to play offense, because she knew how dependable she had become on defense.  It’s a shame that at 8 they are already being molded into a position.  But, these days, winning is everything.

Now, I will move on to swimming, a winter sport for both girls.  The season has just begun, and our girls had a terrific first meet.  Our only advice to them is to try to beat YOUR own best personal time.  Win or lose; we really do not care.  We want them to give their best effort and make every attempt to better themselves personally.   Sure, we would love for them to contribute to the team by scoring points, but that is not our main focus.

My husband and I both really love swimming, even though neither one of us grew up around it.  I was a cheerleader and long-distance runner.  He played baseball, basketball, soccer, and others.  However, we really fell in love with swimming due to the fact that we felt the competitive nature of parents was not as great.  We found out last week that even swim parents have their competitive streaks.  A friend of ours shared with us that her son, who is the top breast stroke swimmer on the team had come home upset every night from practice.  He told her he loved the breast stroke; knew he was good at it; but really did not want to swim it any more.  Odd?  Definitely.  Do you know why his feelings changed about his best and favorite swim stroke?  Another boy who is almost as good was told by his father that if he beats my friend’s son, he will give him $100.00.  That’s a lot of money for a 10-year-old boy.  So, every night at practice, this boy talks about winning and earning the money, so much so that he has caused my friend’s son to feel upset.

Now, I realize all of us want our kids to be great.  We all want them to come home with ribbons, medals, trophies, etc.  But, we also need to keep in mind the lessons we are teaching them.  Swimming, though it is partly an individualized sport, is still also very much a team sport.  While it is important for young athletes to realize the significance of doing well, it is also important to teach them that when others are relying upon them, it is in their best interest to act with sportsmanship.  Sure, if our girls swim a great meet, we might stop on the way home and buy them ice cream, but we are certainly not offering them $100.00 to beat anyone on their own team, or even the opposing team for that matter.

I think often in today’s society we lose sight of what is important. We place so much pressure on our kids that they lose interest and passion.  I taught high school and middle school for 14 years, and you would not believe the number of excellent athletes who told me they quit their favorite sport because they no longer enjoyed it.  Their parents pushed them so much and focused so strongly on winning that they felt best not participating.  Therein lies the shame of this whole issue.  Sure, we as parents have a right to help our kids make decisions.  However, our help should be just that, guidance.  Not pressure.  Kids have enough pressure in their lives. We always tell our girls to go out, do their best, and have fun. 

One more quick example, and then I will be finished.  Last winter our oldest daughter played REC basketball.  She was cut from the travel team, a move we expected.  She had not played basketball in a long time but wanted to because her friends were playing.  After her experience last season, I don’t think she will EVER play basketball again.  Now, in the rec league, scores really don’t matter, and records just don’t count.  However, every coach in that league thought he/she were coaching in the WNBA.  My daughter would have two practices a week, each practice lasting TWO hours.  Then, on a third night of the week, they would have a game.  They would have to show up an hour and a half early to go over plays and positions–FOR REC LEAGUE.  The coaches bickered with other coaches every game, and parents were almost in fist fights.  Remember, this is all over REC league; nothing mattered or counted.  My daughter, due to her lack of basketball skill, rarely played during games.  But this is the kicker; she was hardly allowed to participate in practice.  Seriously?  In our community, the REC league is supposed to be for those girls not quite good enough to make travel team.  The goal is to teach them skills and fundamentals in order to improve their basketball playing.

As you can guess, that did not happen.  When it came time to sign up for basketball this season, we inquired.  Our daughter looked at us as though we were crazy.  She said, “I didn’t have any fun last year.  I don’t want to waste my time this year.”  What a shame.  A ten-year-old girl is already turned off to a great sport because of fanatical parents and coaches.  We as adults are to set the example and inspire our kids.  Somehow that lesson is being lost in this mess.  

Miracles DO Happen

Now, in order for you to fully understand this tale, I must take you back in time one year to Christmas 2011.  I teach at the same school where my two daughters attend.  Last year, my oldest daughter skipped a grade and moved into 5th.  At the time, my youngest was in a separate elementary building completing 2nd grade.  So, my oldest child is advanced intellectually and socially, but I was not prepared for the reactions of the other students.

I was conducting a reading group, and out of the blue, this big, bulky boy–who usually bullies the other students–raises his hand and asks, “Mrs. Boltz, does your daughter still believe in Santa?”  Now, in school, I tell ALL the kids I still believe in Santa.  I do not want to crush any child or ruin any parents’ traditions.  So, I always try to steer clear of the Santa talk.  I told him “Yes” and also told him I still believe.  I might have even been wearing my Santa tee that reads,”  YOU GOTTA BELIEVE TO RECEIVE.”

Anyway, he proceeds to tell me that Santa is not real; he does not believe in Santa; and he is going to tell my daughter that Santa is not real.  I quickly returned the discussion to our reading, but I was fuming inside.  There was nothing I could do; I could not punish him for his beliefs or even for his threat to tell my daughter this truth.  So, I finished my lesson, stewing inside.

That night, after our girls had gone to sleep, I shared the story with my husband, and he and I made a decision.  We determined that although we did not want to ruin Christmas for our daughter, we also did not want this boy to steal her joy.  So, we decided to sit her down the next day and explain the situation to her.  Well let me tell you this:  It was not pretty.  Once the words sunk in, her intelligent mind began to turn, and she put all the piece together.  Through tears, she said, “So, I guess that means no Easter Bunny, no Tooth Fairy, none of them.”  I confirmed what she had concluded.  it was one sad morning.  She agreed not to share the information with her little sister, and I must say, she did a great job; my little one only figured it out this year.  It seems that in our area 3rd grade is the grade.  I think it’s because kids have older siblings who ruin it for them.  So, I was proud of her for keeping the secret.

That weekend, my mother showed up with THE ELF ON THE SHELF.  Now, based on what I have just written, one would think, “Well, she definitely won’t buy into this guy.”  Believe it or not, for some reason, she did!  My husband and I think she wanted something she could believe in, so she chose the elf.  The girls named him Patrick, and we had so much fun with him.  My husband and I would move him each night before bed, and sometimes during the day, while we were at work and school, my mom would come to our house and move him again.  Patrick truly did bring the Christmas spirit alive in our home.

On to their gifting:  Both girls wanted a cat in a major way.  My husband and I were against any pet that required more work than a fish or hermit crab.  However, seeing the light in our daughter’s eyes, my husband and I reluctantly made the decision to buy a kitten for the girls.  The spirit of Christmas had caught us as well.  Since then, we have questioned our decision several times, but in the end, we realize we did what was best for our girls.  My husband said the moment that broke him occurred when he asked our oldest daughter what she wanted for Christmas.  She said, “Well, since I can’t have a cat, I guess I will take iTunes gift cards.”  That broke his heart, knowing that of all the things she could have asked for, she could only think of iTunes cards, an item we already purchased for them whenever they needed them.  So, that year, Callie entered our home, a tiny ball of striped fur.

On to my Christmas miracle:  This year I have been very stressed out at work.  Our youngest daughter wants a lap top, so our oldest daughter receives the water park trip with a friend.  I wanted to prepare a little something for each person with whom I work, because all of us had been under pressure.  So, although I did not have a lot of family Christmas shopping to do, I was fairly busy getting everything together.  In the midst of it, my husband wonders when I am going to do the family picture Christmas card.  I informed him that I wasn’t planning to prepare a card.  Well, that did not work for him.  So, he said,” I’ll do the card.”

Immediately, “Yeah, right,” crept into my head.  The night of our oldest daughter’s band concert–all of us were dressed presentably–we had a family shot taken.  Still, I did not believe he would ever get around to 1.  having the cards made 2.  addressing the cards, and 3. sending the cards.  But, to my surprise, it did happen!  The funny part of this story is the picture.  When the girls saw the picture, they were somewhat disappointed.  Background needed:  Of all of us, I am the one who pays the cat the least attention.  I like her and everything, but I am not a huge pet fan, and I do not like cat fur on my clothing.  Every now and then I will sit her; I give her treats, and I love the excitement she has brought to our family.  But, I spend the least time with her.  So, the girls look at the card, and simultaneously say to my husband, “The cat is looking at Mom!”  It is true.  My husband is holding the cat; the girls are in the front; I am beside my husband but back slightly, and the cat’s head is turned completely to look at me!

So, to end my Christmas tale, miracle are for real.  I love my husband, but I sometimes think men don’t realize everything that goes into Christmas and being ready for the season.  My husband did admit the cards required more work than he expected.  But, he did accomplish the task.  Tis the season!