Saturday, February 27, 2010

Free Advice: Worth Every Penny

One of my very nearest and dearest friends is going through a terrible time right now. Her husband…and I use the term loosely… has broken her heart along with just about every single wedding vow he willingly took twenty plus years ago. I hate liars! I absolutely cannot stand a good liar. Please, if you are so over being married, then just man up and say so. Then, move along little doggie. But no! This guy has to make sure he leaves a path of emotional destruction behind him. Kind of like King Kong. Only the monkey actually had a heart.

Anyway, my friend has a heart the size of Outer Mongolia. She is sweet and kind, loving and forgiving. We are extreme opposites. Over the last year, as this horrific melodrama has unfolded, much like a rabid bat unfolding it’s putrid wings just before it swoops down and sinks it’s yellow fangs into your unsuspecting neck, (sorry, I digress) my friend has come to me for advice. This was her first mistake.

Now, in my defense, I can say that if I am nothing else, I am definitely consistent. My advice over the last year has remained steadfastly unchanged. I have sincerely and honestly given her the absolute best advice possible. Remember, I have been happily married …to the same guy, even … for almost thirty-four years. I must know something, right?

So, this morning I was a bit shocked by my husbands flippant attitude towards me. I was really mad at him last week for … well, I have no idea why anymore, but I know it was with good reason. And it just so happens the day that I was so mad at him, I drove his beloved diesel truck to the city. And I accidentally scraped the side on our gate as I was leaving the farm. And I immediately confessed it that night when he got home. And he forgave me. For the scrape. Not the fight. Because that was HIS fault. Whatever it was about.

Anyway, so this morning, we were all cuddly in bed, talking sweet and stuff. Never mind. We were talking. And I said I had been worried that he was going to think I scraped the truck on purpose because I was mad at him. And he said, “ You would never do something like that. You’re not that kind of person. You’d always tell me the truth.”

That’s when I cuddled a little more remembering why I like this guy so much.

Then he said, “ That or you’d just throw all my clothes and guitars on the front lawn and invite the neighbors over for a bonfire.”

Consistent and time-proven advice. It’s free … and worth every penny.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm Not A Witch; I'm Your Wife.

Ok, let me start off by saying I am completely obsessed with the movie, The Princess Bride. There is something about the ridiculousness of it that I get. That should tell you a thing or two about me.

Here's another thing about me you probably don't want to know.The last week of February has been especially tough for me emotionally. It has been a crappy week every stinking year for the last eight years. My mom died February 28, 2002. No matter how much I think I am good to go, every year I get freaky the last week in February. Most of the time I don't even realize I am doing it until something or someone points it out to me. Of course, on top of that, my dad died four months ago. So, there you go. Butts and Ashes.

Anyway, as I have processed through the week as much as I could, missing my parents, missing my sisters, missing the old me, before I was a witch, I thought of The Princess Bride. The lines in that movie are classic sick. My kind of humor. Then I thought about my parents, also classic sick. My kind of people. So I said to myself, "Self, what better way to honor the old coots and snap out of this funk than to put some of your favorite TPB lines to pictures." Of course, what could I say but, "Wow, are a genius!"

"It just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead.
There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.”

"Mawwage is what bwings us togwether today....”

"This is true love... you think this happens everyday?"

"When he said, "As you wish”,
 what he really meant was, “I love you.”

So thanks Chuck and Bernie. Thanks for being an "us" so I could be a part of an "us". You taught me more than you know. I get it. I understand. Life .... marriage .... is about two imperfect people coming together in the hopes of making it through .... together. That, and embarrassing your children as often as possible. You'd be really proud to know, I am doing a bang up job on that last part. The legacy of crazy lives on.

“I'll explain, and I'll be sure to use small words so that you'll be sure to understand. You wart-hog-faced-buffoon!”

You mean you wish to surrender to me?
Very well, I accept.”

"Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.”

“As you wish."

"In the meantime, rest well and dream of large women.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Miss You, Smelly Old Guy

I miss the way you always wanted a fire in the fireplace,
even if it was 75 degrees outside

I miss the way Corina loved you and you loved her
 ever since she was brand new and you weren't

I miss you giving rides on your walker to your great-grandchildren
and then telling them they owed you a dollar for cab fare

 I miss camping with you and hearing you say how much you loved it
and how you'd like to live there in the mountains

I miss your stories of being a prize fighter
and your doofus faces

I miss you picking fights with me on purpose
just to show me you were still the boss of me

I miss you embarrassing me in public places like restaurants
 with your impromptu speeches and sombreros

I miss you getting lost in the neighborhood
while trying to run away from home on your scooter

I miss dancing in the driveway with you in the summertime

I miss Christmas with you

We miss you

and I am really, really mad at you for leaving us. I am mad at you for leaving me. I am mad. Today. Maybe tomorrow too. No promises. But I still miss you, you old goat. And I wonder how I am ever going to get past missing you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

And You Need To Know Because...?

As an adoptive mother of four beautiful girls and a birth mother of three unruly boys, I am pretty sure I have been asked just about every question and heard every offbeat statement the human mind could possibly muster. These questions and statements have not only come from friends and family but also from complete strangers. Allow me to list my top five favorites and save the rest for my book.

"Where are their real parents?"

I never cease to be amazed by this question. I understand people have a "National Enquirer" curiosity about things but please. As if asking this question itself isn't enough of an invasion of privacy it has been asked in front of my children. I learned early on to forego the right to be offended and instead attempt to educate the offender. I say attempt since it has become obvious through the years that there are those who refuse to be educated. Their loss. My simple answer has become, "You're talking to them!" For those foolish enough to push the question further after that response, I have found a direct, "…and you need to know because...?" usually changes the direction of the conversation. We are not ashamed of our children's birth families however we believe this information is for them to share with whomever they choose if and when they choose.

"Those girls are so lucky you adopted them."

Really? Why? Not one single soul has ever approached us to let us know how lucky our boys are that we birthed them. Believe me, that was no easy task! We adopted the girls for the same reasons we birthed the boys. We are selfish. That's right, selfish. We wanted children to love and care for. We wanted a chance to raise children and maybe make the world a better place because of it. Ok, maybe we also wanted lots of kids so when we are old there will be people around to love and care for us. Like I said, adopted or birthed, it was all selfishness on our part.

"Aren't you afraid there could be something wrong with them?"

The truth is, we were never afraid there might be something wrong with them. We knew there would be. Just like we knew there would be things wrong with our birth children and just like we know there are things wrong with us. No matter how much you know about your genealogy you will never know it all. Life will surprise you. Sometimes with illness. Sometimes with character flaws. Sometimes with biology. Sometimes with environment. But sometimes life will thrill you with what lies beneath the surface. It will amaze you with a child that has a hidden talent you could have never imagined. It will leave you in awe of a child's character trait you could only hope to find in yourself. Who has time to fear when you are watching with wonder as your children become more than you could have dreamed for them?

"I could never adopt. They wouldn't be my blood."

Guess what? Your spouse isn't your blood. Many times neither is your best friend. Sorry to burst your blood bubble but there it is. The truth is, you CHOOSE to love and who to love. Love is not always a feeling or blood-based. Ultimately, love is a choice.

"Don't you worry they will go looking for their birth family?"

No more than I worry I might go looking for mine. I am not adopted but I have a curiosity about who my relatives were and are. I know a lot of them but not all of them. There are times I have sought out the unknown and then there are times I have been content with what I have. As an adult, this is one of the joys and prerogatives of my life. Why would it not be the same for all my children? Just as my family has helped in the search for answers to our families questions, I would count it my privilege to help my children to find their answers if they so choose.

Ok, so I know I am a smart alec. I come by it naturally I suppose so blame it on my birth parents. Anyway, one of my reasons for sharing our adoption stories this past week was with the hope that maybe, just maybe, someone reading this blog would have an “AHA” moment. Every person is different and called to follow their own path. But what if even one person reading this last week suddenly saw their path open up? A path that would change their life forever. A path that would lead them straight to the heart of a child through foster parenting or adoption or being a mentor or... What if…?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Surprise! It’s A Girl!!

Moving to Oklahoma from California fifteen years ago was surely going to be the biggest adventure of our lives to date….or so we thought at the time. When we embarked on that journey, our vans were filled with every item we owned including our six children and more animals than should have been legal. I am quite sure our traveling caravans made people think the circus had come to town. They weren’t far from the truth on that one. Where we had lived in a small California beach town… population 17,000… we now lived in a small farming town… population 1,000. School started the day after we arrived, so to say we were thrown into small town life quickly would be an understatement.

That first year was really hard for me emotionally. I missed my family and friends and often wondered what could have possibly possessed us to do such a radical thing. That is another story, however. Probably the worst part of the move for me was the lack of social interaction. The people in our new little town were friendly enough but definitely different than what we were use to in our home state. Although we handed out dinner invitations on a regular basis, very few were accepted and even less were given to us. I began to seriously wonder what was wrong with our family that made people not want to get to know us.

During that first year, a woman in her eighties named *Emma, knocked on my door one morning. She introduced herself as a neighbor from around the corner. Of course, she had heard all about the new family from California and wanted to come meet us. Thankful for a friendly face willing to enter my home, I invited her in for coffee. That morning coffee would begin a life changing friendship for both of us. As we visited, I learned this amazing woman was raising two of her great-grandchildren, a twelve year old girl and a ten year old boy. She had little to no help with this daunting task and yet she did not regret a moment of her decision to care for them. She had even legally adopted them. I sat in amazement listening to her story. Our friendship began to make sense to me. We were definitely the oddballs in this little town of “normal” families.

Over the next few years, our two families formed some very deep bonds. We loved and cared for one another’s children and did the best we knew how to help each other through some trying times. One of those times came after we had moved to our farmhouse out in the country. Emma called and asked if she could come for coffee. Of course, I was delighted at the thought of a visitor so I put the coffee on and prepared a coffee cake. The moment Emma arrived at my front door, I knew something was terribly wrong. She immediately broke down and cried; something this old, German farm woman was not known to easily do. As we sat at the kitchen table, she explained that her now fourteen year old great-granddaughter had confided she was pregnant. She didn’t know what to do or how she was going to get through this. As I wrapped my arms around her, I assured her that Bob and I would do everything we could to help and that we would be there for both of them. I never imagined what that would eventually come to mean.

The next six months went by quickly. When I got the call that the baby, a little girl, had arrived, I drove to Emma’s home filled with thankfulness that mother and daughter were both well and also sadness at two young lives that were facing a challenge that statistically, could turn out less than positive. In all truth, when I finally held that new little one and smiled at her mother, I really wanted to break down and cry for both of them.

Over the next three months, I stopped by to visit now and then, checking in on Emma as much as on baby and mother. During one of our visits, I was asked if I would be willing to watch the baby so mom could finish high school. I didn’t even need to think about it. I immediately said yes. In my mind, if there was going to be any chance of making it in this world, education was definitely one of the main keys.

By the time Miranda was six months old, she spent half her life with us, including many nights and weekends. At a year old, she lived with us full time. Shortly after, we took full guardianship. It was during that second year, that we asked her mother to move in with us. We felt strongly that she needed to be mentored if she was to have any hope of raising her daughter someday. She turned us down, eventually dropped out of school and out of all of our lives for the most part. I was forty-two raising a two year old. I saw where this boat was going and I began to freak. I was too old. This wasn’t fair to Miranda. She deserved younger, fresher parents. We were old and worn out. I argued with God for a solid week. At the end of the week, I clearly heard this, “Ok, so imagine your life without this gift I’ve given you.” I knew I had lost the battle right then and there. I had been given something so wonderful, so amazing and yet somehow, I never saw it coming.

Miranda is turning twelve this May. She is my joy, my heart, my gift. Loving her is more than I could have hoped for, more than I could have imagined, more than I deserve. Thank you, God, thank you.

Miranda Nicole Hansen ~ 2009

Oh, one last thing, God. I know you are fully aware that I am turning fifty-two next month. I also understand that you know what I am capable of more than I do. However, I am pretty sure I have reached full capacity at seven. Pretty sure. But then, you're God and I'm not. So, I'm ready for whatever lies ahead. But if there are more children coming, could they come with a maid this time? I mean, it never hurts to ask, right?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Parent Trap

Adopting our first two daughters took a little over two years. They had been in the system their entire lives so getting them out took some doing. While we were going through the process, the state of California required us to become foster parents. It was explained that even though we would not be required to take in any other children, we would need to do this for legal reasons until our adoptions finalized. Of course, we fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

Going through the process of becoming foster parents was not difficult at all. We took classes, filled out paperwork, had a home study and received our official titles of Mom and Dad Foster Parent in just a few months. Once that was done, we figured we would go on with life as normal while we waited for the girl’s adoptions to finalize. Looking back, I now realize Child Protective Services probably saw us coming a mile away and set the trap catching themselves two wide eyed and bushy tailed parents. Seriously, after going through all the training, how could we not use it to benefit some little kid? How much trouble could one little temporary kid be, right?

Our first few foster children were very young, under two and with us for short terms: the first for two weeks and the second for a few months. It was so wonderful to be able to love these little ones during such a difficult time in their lives. Being able to comfort a small, scared child and see them eventually smile and laugh was worth the pain of any goodbyes we would say later. Then came Lizzie.

I received a call from a social worker one morning asking if we would take a thirteen month old baby girl. She didn’t eat, only drank bottles of formula, wasn’t walking or talking and had just begun crawling. I was told she did not smile, play with toys or show much emotion. She lacked socialization and would need special services to learn how to interact with others. The placement had the possibility of lasting as long as a year. The social worker knew we did not want to take any long term commitments, so he promised if we would keep her for just a few weeks, he would be able to find a long term foster home by then. I called Bob to get the ok and called CPS back agreeing to the placement.

As I loaded our five children into the van, each one was buzzing with excitement over the new baby we were on our way to pick up. I explained that it was only for a few weeks and there were some things they needed to know. I went through the checklist of known issues with my kids just as the social worker had done with me. Of course, there were lots of questions, most of them I had no answers to. We all agreed we would just do our best to be kind and loving to the new baby, trusting that God had a plan for her life just like He had for each of ours.

Once we got to the office, we were taken to the holding area where we would wait for our caseworker, David, to return with the baby. Before leaving the room, he explained her name was Liz and that it was important we remain fairly quiet when he returned with her. He was concerned she could be overwhelmed by six of us attacking her with kisses like we were known to do. We all promised to wait quietly and follow his lead.

When the door opened and I saw David standing there, holding the most beautiful baby I had ever seen, I was not shocked by my kid’s oohs and ahhs. Liz was commercial baby perfect in appearance. David stood calmly, holding this little piece of life that stared straight at me, giving no reaction to anything around her. As he entered the room and sat down, placing her on his knee, Liz squirmed to get down. Once settled on the floor, never once taking her eyes off me, she crawled as fast as any baby I had ever seen straight into my arms. Picking her up, I couldn’t help but cover her with kisses unleashing the other kids from their confinement. Within seconds, our new little short term placement was covered with kisses, head and belly rubs. Though she never smiled or cried, she accepted it all in stride. We left before David could wipe the look of shock from his face.

Within two weeks of bringing Lizzie home, she was eating regular table food, laughing, walking and beginning to talk. This kid never needed special services. She just needed a plain, old family to love her to life. Two years after bringing our “short term placement” foster baby named Liz home, we made it her permanent forever home.

Lizzie Ann Hansen is turning twenty years old in five days. I still remember the first time I held her in my arms, like it was yesterday. It scared me, because I knew from that moment, she was in my heart to stay.

Lizzie Ann Hansen ~ 2008

Three boys. Three girls. We were so done. Our quiver was more than full, it was overflowing. Until.....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

This Isn’t The Chocolate Factory and I Am Not Willy Wonka

When we adopted our first two daughters, I had it all figured out. Since the little one, Belen, was only four years old, she would have an easy time bonding with us. I was prepared for our ten year old, Rachel, to possibly have a more difficult go of it. I quickly learned two valuable, life-changing lessons: I will never have things all figured out no matter how sure I am that I do and God has a plan that is usually very different from mine.

The first words Bel ever spoke to us were these, “Do we have candy at our house?” Seeing that beautiful brown face enter the room for the first time, watching as she climbed onto the couch and snuggled close to me and then hearing those sweetly funny words escaping her mouth should have told us something. We were headed for trouble with this one!

Once the girls were home with us, we quickly moved from the honeymoon period to reality. I am thankful for that now. It wasn’t a week since moving the girls in that Bel began to show what was hidden in that little broken heart of hers. She would scream and throw temper tantrums if I tried to give her a bath, brush her hair or take her picture. Shopping for clothes was a nightmare. The girls arrived with almost nothing so I was thrilled to have a valid excuse to spoil them rotten while shopping for new clothes and toys. I never imagined the scenes Bel would create however.

One of the first times we shopped together, Rachel shyly and quietly would pick out clothing and ask if she might have this or that. Of course, I was beyond happy to get her whatever she wanted. Bel, on the other hand would lay on the floor screaming that I was trying to make her wear “ugly clothes.” My boys were little monsters but rarely in public places so I felt instantly like a failure with Bel. I had no idea how to handle a four year old girl that rejected me on every level. Fear began to creep into my heart. I had taken the classes, read the books, even taught some of the classes for DHS. How could I be so clueless?

Over the next fourteen years, I am ashamed to say that I found myself avoiding Bel on many levels. I was a good mother in that I provided all the things necessary for a decent life. I guarded my heart closely though. Time and time again, when I would reach out only to feel rejected, I would escape deeper into hiding hoping to protect my heart. I never blamed Bel. I knew I was the one failing her, she wasn’t failing me. We even sought counseling. Prayer at church. Fighting it out at home. Nothing seemed to help.

Right before Bel’s nineteenth birthday, she had a medical scare which landed her in the hospital for a week. The thought of losing my baby girl was more than overwhelming to me. It took my focus off of me and my pain and placed my eyes where they should have always been from the beginning, on Belen. The night we rushed her to the hospital, I sat in the backseat of the car, holding my daughter in my arms. I don’t know that I have ever wept the way I did that night. The only words I could say over and over were, “I love you, Bel!”

It’s an amazing thing what vulnerability can bring to a relationship. From that night on, as I opened my heart again, no longer worried about being rejected but focused on what was best for my daughter, each day has brought more than I could have hoped for. More than I deserve. I learned to be honest about my feelings but more importantly, I learned and am learning to listen. Bel has opened up about her fears from the past and her fears of the future and you know what? As we have opened ourselves up to one another, most of those fears have suddenly faded away. Light seems to do that to darkness….melt all the boogie men you just knew were laying in wait to get you someday.

Bel just turned twenty-five years old. She is one of my favorite people in this world and definitely my favorite Belen. She and I have so many things in common. She loves the poor and needy. She cares for others with her entire heart not just a piece of it. She is funny and witty and kind of weird. She is one of the most amazing and strange people I have ever known. She is just like her mother.

Rachel and Bel ~ 2008

and the story continues....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

Like I said way back when, some of the things on The List have already been worked out in our lives. Adoption is one of those things. We have four adopted daughters along with our three pain in the ass ...I mean....absolutely amazing, gorgeous, hunka, hunka sons.

When we first decided to go forward with adopting a child, things were very clear and simple in our minds. We had three great little boys and wanted to add one sweet little baby girl. We talked for days about how incredible it would be to have a daughter to love and raise as our own. It had been a topic of conversation on and off for several years and finally, it was going to be a reality.

I remember how, early on that Monday morning, I called adoption services in our state and informed them of our desire to adopt a baby girl. I'm sure I sounded positively giddy. Our lives would never be the same from that moment on. The social worker took a little information from me and then kindly but firmly let me know we would never be given a baby girl. We already had three children and baby girls rarely went up for adoption anyway. If we were interested in older boys she could help us out right away. Of course, she let me know the children would be delivered with lots of baggage and not the kind that come in pretty colors. I hung up feeling shell-shocked.

Not one to quickly surrender, I began looking into international adoption. Two years later, all we had to show for all our efforts were two adoptions that never materialized and a loss of thousands of dollars. As I allowed the sadness to go deep within me, it began to bring up thoughts and feelings from when I was small. I remembered something! I had wanted to adopt a little girl. She was always Mexican in my mind and her name was always Rachel.

That night when I sat down with my husband, I told him of my memory. Surely this must be God's way of telling us to go to Mexico and find our baby girl. Bob was tired from the last two years and less than enthusiastic. He wanted to wait a bit before we spent any more time, money or emotion on the whole adoption thing. The sadness hit me harder than before.

Several weeks later, a friend of mine called. Jean was a birth mother, a foster mother and an adoptive mother. She said she had just come from a meeting and had seen a picture of three little girls the agency was trying to place for adoption. They were sisters, all under six years old and of Mexican descent. She had thought of us immediately and really thought I should call and ask about them. I thanked her but told her there was no way we were going to adopt three older children. I never mentioned it to Bob.

That next week, I was miserable. I couldn't eat or sleep. I was having trouble concentrating on anything but those three little girls. I began to dream about "Rachel" just as I had when I was ten years old. I finally explained the whole thing to Bob and his first response was "Call!" I was shocked by his change of heart but didn't wait around to ask questions.

I called the agency and explained who I was and told them we were interested in the girls. The social worker was friendly and talkative asking questions about our family for almost an hour. Finally I heard her say, "Well, those three little girls have been placed for adoption." I immediately began to cry. She then continued, "However, I have two other little girls that I think would fit perfectly in your family." I felt as if my heart had stopped and I wasn't breathing.

Arraignments were made for Bob and I to take our three boys to the agency the following Monday. It would be a two hour drive for a one hour meeting. We went with more excitement than could be contained, literally. The meeting was a nightmare. Our boys, who were normally fairly well-behaved in public, had lost their little minds. They were noisy and wild, fighting over toys and acting sillier than we had ever seen before. We left there knowing this was probably the end of the adoption trail for us.

The next day the social worker called to ask if just Bob and I would come back up the next afternoon. She wanted to spend some one-on-one time with us. Being thankful for another chance, I told her we would be there. That meeting was much quieter to say the least. We learned the girls were four years old and ten years old. The younger was of Mexican/African American heritage and the older was of Mexican heritage. She gave us their records to read. It was brutal reading what these two little ones had been through. She warned us of all the typical things you hear about with older children. They may not bond with you ever. They may have serious emotional issues. There could be hidden health problems. On and on she went until our heads were swimming with what ifs. Finally she handed their pictures to us. As Bob and I sat next to each other holding those photos, we both began to sob. Something entered the room at that moment. It was the same something that had been there when each of our boys was born. I don't know what to call it other than it is that thing that happens when you first see your child. That overwhelming, all encompassing emotion of your past, present and future being laid in your arms. These girls were our babies. Though we had never held them in our arms, our hearts had held them for years.

Sylvia, the social worker, asked us to come back again the next afternoon. She wanted us to meet the girls and they wanted to meet us. The next day we arrived almost an hour early. When the girls walked into the room the feeling was overwhelming. We spent thirty minutes in the office talking before Sylvia suggested we take the girls out for a few hours. As Bob and I helped buckle the girls into the car, our oldest daughter looked at me and asked, "When you adopt me can I change my name?"

That was twenty years ago. Her name today? Rachel.

Rachel and her Santa Daddy ~ 2008

and the story continues......

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The List

It's time to update what's happened or is happening with The List. Ready? Yeah, me neither but let's do it anyway. Here's what we've done so far:

1. Fast for the 2 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day.

2. Contact your local crisis pregnancy center and invite a pregnant woman to live with your family.

3. Ask your pastor if someone on your church’s sick list would like a visit.

4. Join an open AA meeting and befriend someone there.

If you recall, I am still in the middle, or is it the beginning, of number four. This one brought me into the City Rescue Mission as a volunteer. It has also brought me face to face with a woman named Nikki. I believe with all my heart that the story from number four is still being written and will be worth reading. Someday. Just not today. Today is still about filling out papers, taking classes and building trust. Today is all the boring details of life that usually lead to something amazingly unexpected. I am ready to be unexpectedly amazed. So, while number four is still being written in my life, lets go onto number five, if you don't mind.

5. Adopt a child.

Keep your arms and legs in at all times and your seatbelt fastened. This ride is about to begin .......

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Simple Things

Life can be crazy. There are unexpected twists and turns. I have experienced my share of those eye-popping adventures. You know the ones I am talking about, where you have to remind yourself to keep breathing. Having said that, I can honestly and thankfully say I have never, and hopefully will never, experience anything like the poor souls living in Haiti at this very moment. My heart truly breaks and aches every time I see or read about the horrible living conditions, destroyed neighborhoods and splintered families. If I could, I would be on a plane heading for Haiti right now. But I can’t. So what can I do? What can you do? I’m so glad you asked!

While visiting MattysThoughts, I discovered, Enchanted Oak. The author of this inspiring blog is hosting a challenge this weekend. It’s called The Simple Things Challenge and yes, it is really simple. Celebrate the simple pleasures in your life by posting a list, a poem, or a prose piece about the joy of simple things, and the author will donate $2.00 to Heartline Ministries for their medical clinic and other programs in Haiti.

So, without further ado …. My simple list.

~ Riding a horse almost as old and slow as I am

~ Being served coffee in bed … every day … by the same man … my personal cabana boy … named Bob

~ Having a two year old wrap her nasty, grubby arms around my neck and give me a big sloppy kiss with a nose full of boogers

~ Watching the sunrise

~ Watching the sunset

~ Breathing clean air

~ Drinking clean water

~ Eating food from my garden

~ Laughing

~ Crying