Thursday, April 30, 2015


Graduation is coming.  Whew!  I forgot how much work it is to have a graduating senior!  And we have one from college and one from high school (plus an 8th grader and 6th grader--but we don't really count those).
Before the calendar turns another page I wanted to say Happy Birthday to James and my mom! 
I LOVE having my mom live close by.  She is a most amazing woman and mother!  She blesses all our lives!  And I can't believe my first born is 32!  Wow!  Such a wonderful man with the kindest heart and gentle spirit.  And a great sense of humor and adventure!  Love you James!
We had planned on going to lunch at Chipotle (my treat) and we ended up going to an AWESOME lunch at a fancy-smancy restaurant where James works (his treat).  Yea, I'm not sure how that worked either, except that they give him a very good deal. 
Oh my!  We enjoyed our day so very much!  I love spending special time with James and his fiance', Hubby, my mom, and Lan Lan (who finds ever more advantages of being homeschooled!)
I didn't even get a good picture of Lan Lan.  But I did get a photo of her food.  Let's just say it was a step up from Chipotle!
And we did get a photo of the view--beautiful even on an overcast day.
Oh!  And here is how I sent birthday wishes to the birthday boy on his actual birthday.  He was at work and couldn't get together so I brought the party to him--balloon, cupcakes and candles!
Happy Birthday James!  And Happy Birthday Mom!  Love you both so much!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What Do You Feed All Those Kids--Ziti

I do not like to cook.  Which is unfortunate.  Because I have to cook a lot.  For a lot of people.
I'm not really sure what God was thinking when he made kids need to eat so often.  Why didn't He make it so we could feed them like fish--just once a day?  Or, better yet, like snakes--once a month!
But alas, I do not have fish or snakes (thank heavens!) but I do have lots of kids.  Who eat lots of food, lots of times, every . single . day.
A family favorite is--
1 pound hamburger cooked and browned
1 Tablespoon onion powder
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 cup chicken broth
At the same time cook 16 ounces ziti pasta in a big pot of water
(I like seashell shaped pasta)
Top with  1 1/2 Cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Top with 1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Also top with 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Double or Triple As Needed

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jesus Calling

 From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

"I am able to do far beyond all that you ask or imagine.  Come to Me with positive expectations, knowing that there is no limit to what I can accomplish.  Ask My Spirit to control your mind, so that you can think great thoughts of Me.  Do not be discouraged by the fact that many of your prayers are yet unanswered.  Time is a trainer, teaching you to wait upon Me, to trust Me in the dark.  The more extreme your circumstances, the more likely you are to see MY POWER AND GLORY at work in the situation.  Instead of letting difficulties draw you into worrying, try to view them as setting the scene for My glorious intervention.  Keep your eyes and your mind wide open to all that I am doing in your life." 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Abusive, Destructive, Controlling Relationships--Part 2 Warning Signs

In continuing my series on abusive relationships I want to talk about the warning signs.

As I mentioned in Part 1, I honestly didn't know the signs of relationship abuse.  It wasn't until my son was DEEP into his situation that I really started to understand.  Later, I had a college class and finally recognized the classic symptoms.  It's important to recognize that the abuse builds up.  It makes sense--who would get into a relationship with someone who starts abusing on the first date?  And again, although men are more likely to abuse women, the reverse is more common than people think. 
Anyone can fall victim to abuse, especially when they don't recognize the danger signs.  I would never have thought it possible that my son would become a victim, he had everything going for him--he was athletic, loving, funny, handsome, and intelligent.  And he was opinionated and didn't mind questioning authority.  He loved being home, having his best friends (and sometimes the entire baseball team!) over for sleepovers, and in almost every family picture he was holding one of his younger siblings.  He loved family. He was independent.  Of all my kids, I would have thought him the LEAST likely to fall prey--which is why I'm so determined to spread the word of the warning signs of relationship abuse. 
Joe LOVED dressing up for spirit days at school
In this photo Lizzy had put his hair into a ton of small braids.
BRA is Boys Rooting Association

I wish I could give proper credit for the information below.  I had it in a folder from college and I've adapted it for this post. 

Five major warning signs:

Charm:  Abusers are often very charming, engaging, thoughtful and charismatic.  In the beginning, they may seem too good to be true.  They might buy extravagant gifts and have heroic stories to share about their amazing life and deeds.  They become the perfect partner and know all the right things to say.  They are often seductive and move the relationship along very quickly, they profess deep love for the victim and push for living together after a short dating relationship. 

Isolation:  Once into the relationship, abusers isolate their victims geographically and socially.  They move the victim geographically away from family and friends.  Social isolation begins with wanting the victim to spend more and more time with him/her and not the victim's family, friends, or co-workers.  The abuser will often get to the point they tell the victim he/she cannot have any contact with family or friends--and they try to convince the victim they are doing it for the victim's sake, along with turning the victim against family and friends through lies and deceit.

Jealousy:  Jealousy is used to control the victim.  He/She constantly accuses the victim of having affairs, outside friendships, or even just thoughts of others.  The abuser is very jealous of anyone the victim spends time with. 

Emotional Abuse:  The goal of emotional abuse is to destroy the victim's self-esteem.  The abuser blames the victim for any problems, puts him/her down, calls him/her names and makes threats against him/her and the victim's family.  The abuser makes the victim feel like it's all the victim's fault.  The abuser often has previous life trauma (real and/or imagined) and they blame their behavior on their "tragedies," finding sympathy in their victim and trying to excuse their abusive behavior.   

Control:  Abusers are very controlled and very controlling people.  In time, the abuser will try to control every aspect of the victim's life: where they go, what they wear, who they talk to.  The abuser will control the money and access to money.  They will try to monitor every phone call/text on the victim's cell phone.  If the abuser becomes upset he/she will blame the victim and have further control by threatening suicide, blackmail, or harm to the victim or victim's loved ones.  If the relationship becomes physically violent it will often start with pushing and then escalate.  The abuser can even create control by encouraging the victim to start using drugs or alcohol and then controlling the source. 
Part 3 will come, but I will have unrelated posts in between.  This is heavy stuff and brings back a lot of negative memories and pain. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Stop Wrestling! Somebody's Gonna Get Hurt!

For some Monday humor.
I was going through some old photos from several years ago and smiled remembering how Lan Lan, Patrick, and Vu used to play and wrestle. 
Lan Lan was smart enough to know when to stop.  But the boys would just keep right on going.
Sometimes it ended in true torture.
Now THAT'S an awkward family photo!
And it usually ended like this.
And then the next day (or next hour) it would start all over again, no matter how many times I would say, "Somebody's gonna get hurt!"  Boys!  I miss my little boys!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Abusive, Destructive, Controlling Relationships--Part 1

I'm finally ready to address a topic that isn't easy to talk about--destructive, controlling, abusive relationships.  It's a topic people rarely talk about, and usually don't understand.  I know I didn't (and in many ways still don't!), until I took a college class on interpersonal violence a few years ago.  And let me be clear that I am NOT talking about my own marriage relationship--I feel incredibly blessed to have a great relationship with my husband.  It's not perfect--but it's healthy and loving. 

Our son Joe's was not.  And even just writing that brings back such incredible heartache and pain.  For those who don't know, Joe died from cancer in 2007, at the age of 21.  I won't go into the details of his abusive relationship, but I will say that he was the one being destroyed (men CAN be the victim of an abuser!).   He didn't just die from cancer, he also died from a heart broken by pain and control--and we all lost part of our hearts.  There are some things I will never understand this side of heaven. 

Kids from healthy families CAN get mixed up into negative relationships, and honestly, even when Joe was falling into his, I didn't know the warning signs.  Neither did he.  And that is why I'm finally writing about it, in hopes someone else might be spared. 
Happy times--Joe is in the back, between James and me

We teach our kids to be safe in so many other ways.  We teach them about stranger-danger, hot stoves, and busy streets.  We lecture them on making good choices, eating healthy, wearing seatbelts and driving safely.  We warn them of the dangers of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, STDs and other communicable diseases. 
We talk them about friendships, dating, pre-marital sex, and intimate relationships.  But we don't usually teach them the warning signs of an abusive relationship.  And as a therapist taught me, regarding how our son got involved in an abusive relationship, if a child has never witnessed a destructive relationship, they can easily get sucked in. 
I'm writing about this topic over several posts.  In my typical up-down-all-around blogging fashion, they will be interspersed with other topics.  And in my continued process to try to forgive my son's abuser, I have removed all photos of "She Who Shall Not Be Named."  And that reference shows that I still have a long way to go in the forgiveness category.  I will blog about forgiveness too.   

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter And Suffering

Easter is a day of great rejoicing.  But I also think of all the suffering that occurred for Jesus, his family, disciples, and friends.  I am reminded again and again that God has a reason for suffering, even if I don't (and never will) understand this side of heaven.  
But there is also suffering that doesn't need to occur.  There is suffering that we can shield ourselves from, and protect our children from. 
I'm preparing to write a series of posts on relationships--specifically destructive relationships.  I feel very blessed to have a wonderful marriage relationship, but our son Joe did not.  And that is what I'm finally ready to talk about, in hopes that someone out there might benefit from my writing, and be spared unnecessary suffering. 
In the meantime, Easter was filled with egg dying, church, and brunch at Sweet Tomatoes.  There were multiple complaints about my need for pictures.  
And there were a few complaints about what the Easter Bunny did (or rather didn't) bring.  Although most of them have the Easter Bunny figured out, they did laugh at his (her) sense of humor.  Look closely!