Friday, February 9, 2018

My Life as a Ninja Warrior part 1

We look "super" because of Brooke Photography!
Every morning I have a seemingly simple goal, to get my children out the door and on their way to school. In theory, there should be an effortless flow of events that achieve my daily objective. Yes, daily, wouldn't that mean that our tenacious troupe is in continuous training?  Our regular routine transpires six days a week. Sundays, the day of rest, is not immune to this rigorous workout. We wake up, come to the couch (we have a BIG one), Dad prays, we hug each other, then this team endeavor turns to individual events that must work in tandem to come together at the finish line. When they are all on their respective journeys, the closing of the front door is my big red buzzer declaring the completion of  my morning ambitions, during which I use every fragment of my faculties to reach. Sometimes I feel as if time will run out and the agony of defeat will envelop my morning when I must fetch my purse, load up the minivan, and transport my team to their individual destinations.

Brooke Photography

My co-coach, the Hubster, Kevin, strives along side of me utilizing the abilities of our apprentices while strengthening our squad. To do that, we need to be aware of each individual's talents, what they need to work on, as well as train for. Thirty minutes into the morning events he is off to bring home the proverbial bacon. (see that Honey, I wrote a post about bacon, your fave)

Brooke Photography

Brooke Photography
Eric: Our original obstacle, I have many years experience with. I know him so well that I should be able to achieve success blindfolded. Sometimes, though, in my overconfidence or his, this now smooth relationship finds an unexpected ripple that muscle memory is unable to overcome.

Emily: Being as she is away at college, she is the retro task in our marathon of mornings, a kind of novelty that has been studied for ages yet periodically makes a comeback and for a limited time only. She and I need to continue to train, for our encounters to remain effortless.

Brooke Photography

Angel: The potential, oh the potential! Seemingly capable of accomplishing the simplest of tasks but often forces me to find a more amiable route around the hurdle set in my path. I continue my rigorous training in hopes that one day we can achieve greatness shoulder to shoulder as a true team.
Brooke Photography

Allie: This mountain was a hard climb in an early, less experienced time. As we progress, together, we have begun to understand one another and often work together as the cogs in a fine-tuned mechanism. There are times, though, when she or I become a bit off kilter and the humming of our well-oiled machine turns to a hodgepodge of movement that hinders our desire to pull together.

Brooke Photography

Joe: Our speed force. Running, running, running through life trying to compete with the big dogs. Often, his leg of the race is handled smoothly and efficiently. His attention is focused on the task at hand. Occasionally, though, his youth and inexperience produce a cocky, overconfident attitude that eventually trips him up thus affecting the entirety of the team. I am positive that, with continual training, he will one day be the anchor to our relay race of life.

Brooke Photography

Jillian: This is our "slow and steady wins the race" teammate. She is consistent to a fault yet I admire her tenacity and sticktoitiveness. When she has her mind set on a task, she tries to take the time to do it right. The challenge is, getting her to set her mind on the task that achieves my parental goal. It is during her events that I am reminded to take my time and allow her to do what she needs to do. How will she get faster if she doesn't have the opportunity to practice?

Brooke Photography
Ben: The new guy, is our assistant coach, cheerleader, MVP, and biggest stumbling block all at the same time. He is a big man in a little body, confident in what he doesn't know. Call out an instruction and he will repeat it and make sure the person addressed heard the mandate. Tell Jillian she needs to get her socks on, he will run ahead and find a pair that matches. Ask him to run on water, he will attempt it many times over to prove he can. Remind him to brush his teeth and he becomes a gelatinous puddle on the ground yelling "NOOOOOO!!!!"

Brooke of Brooke Photography

Then there is me, the MOM. Using the ninja parenting skills I have obtained over the years guiding this group each morning to attain the supposedly, straightforward objective of getting ready for the day. While spending practically every ounce of energy I had accumulated throughout my nightly slumber.

These are the people God gave me to work with, daily. We enjoy each other, we annoy each other, and we LOVE each other. Together, we make sure that our life is... 
"Never Easy Always Good"

Come back soon to see what the first two hours of my morning routine and it's expected and unexpected acts that make it interesting.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Tree, The Storm, and The Stakes

There is a wonderful analogy spoken of in Christian circles. It is one that helps the believer to understand why a loving God would allow trials into the lives of those He adores. I speak of the analogy of the tree and the storm. The illustration basically boils down to this, in order for trees to be strong, they need deep roots. In order to have deep roots, they need to withstand storms. It is the storm that encourages the tree to plant firm roots so as to not topple over. In contrast, trees with shallow roots will easily fall at the slightest squall.

This morning, on the drive to my 16 year old's high school, I was able to remind him about the purpose of storms in our lives. This past year we have been introduced to facets of our son's life that have been overshadowed throughout the 11 years since his and his sister's adoption. The details of these facets will, I am sure, make the topic of a future blog post. For now, understand that our son has endured far more storms than the Hubster and I were aware of. These disturbances, that we as parents have had no control of, have been brewing in my son's mind for the entirety of his life with us. Often, he can no longer hold back the pressure of life so he finds opportunity to release his anger, hurt and frustration in the place he feels safest, our home. Last night we, as a family, experienced one of those episodes.

This morning, with the burden relieved, my son was in a place where he could receive some maternal wisdom. I explained that he has had an abundance of storms in his life and that his Dad, the Hubster, and I know he will be able to overcome them. While overcoming these trials, his roots will grow so deep that, we know, he will not be moved nor shaken. He will be stronger than anyone I know. But it is in the overcoming that he will be made stronger, not in the storm itself.

At that moment, I had an epiphany and began to speak to myself as well. You see, when we plant young trees, we use posts or stakes to support them until their roots are mature. Usually, there are two stakes. The responsibility of the stakes are to help the tree not to need them anymore. There the stakes stand, one on each side of the young tree, both gently but firmly holding on to this new life. It is a fine balance, the responsibility of a stake, hold on too tight and the tree can be choked, it could snap when confronted with resistance, or the tree could grow and envelop the stake, never to be free and independent. Yet, take to weak of a grasp and that tree is at the whim of it's environment.

I continued down the road of the responsibility of the stake. You see, the thing about stakes is, they don't leave when the storms come, They withstand the storm with the tree to help it through the winds it would not overcome on it's own. It is during the storm that the stakes' work is most difficult and most important. The stake needs to be planted firmly. The stake needs to be sure of it's job. The stake needs to support yet allow the environment to affect the tree so the roots may grow deep. The stake does this in hopes that the tree will no longer rely on it and will flourish on its own.

As parents, we stand along side our children. We try to find that balance of strength and flexibility. As parents we weather all that our child endures and hopefully help our young ones to learn for themselves. As parents we set our goals to, one day, watch our child flourish, on his own, independent of us.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


To all of the prayer warriors who lift me and my family before our Lord,

Thank you! Thank you for thinking of me. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for standing in the gap for me. I can do what I do every day because I have people like you support me, whether it be physically, emotionally, academically, or spiritually.

I forget, though, that people see me. I forget that they see my family. I forget that they can see past our outer layer, which at often times is very thin. I forget that what I do is not the norm.

What I don't forget is Who gives me the strength to absorb the seemingly endless rude comments from a child I pour my heart into. I don't forget Who gives me the patience to stop my busy morning to sit with a child who is unable to understand her own emotions. I don't forget Who gives me the encouragement from a song played at just the right moment when I am feeling like I am not doing enough or am not capable of the task before me.

Thank you for speaking directly to Him for me, my husband, my child, my family. Please know that you are cherished by this Warrior Mom.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Excited in More Ways than One!

A Few Years Back
May the 4th be with you! Happy Star Wars Day! To celebrate, why don't you click on over to…/04/my-life-in-a-week/ and take a gander at my post. Thank you to Amy Pederson for this opportunity to share my family and a little bit of our lives together.

This week my marriage is LEGAL!!!! Yep, 21 AMAZING years!!!!  I am thankful for every single of day of my life with the Hubster, Kevin Schulze!!!!! I can't imagine sharing this crazy life with anyone but him!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

30 years? What the???

This is it, my old stomping grounds! Who is that funny guy there?
Here I am, well into the second leg of our return trip from my home town of Santa Barbara CA. It had been 15 years since I was able to spend any good amount of time visiting, reminiscing, and making new memories in that beautiful coastal city. There was that time, last December, when the Schulze clan stopped for half a day and a motel room to visit my sister and rest our travel weary bones. While we did get to enjoy the local zoo with my big sis, that was about it. For your information you know your brood is big when it is cheaper to buy a Zoo Membership for the fam than to pay entry fees for each individual person. Just sayin'. That pass did come in handy for this long weekend trip as the Hubster and I were able  to experience the animals without our minions. Yes, the two of us were on a well needed mini vacation to rest, recharge and ready ourselves for what ever God has in store for us. 

Senior photo. Can you say "Braces?"
Actually we probably wouldn't have made the trip if I hadn't paid for the nonrefundable hotel rate. I felt a tad bit guilty leaving just as the first week of school was wrapping up. The fact that Allie's 11th birthday was the actual day of the reunion didn't relieve my mom stress any either. Thankfully, Eric and Emily are more than capable of taking care of their younger siblings. Emily is one incredible big sister too. She made it her goal for Allie's big day to be something special. So I pushed the guilt aside and, with the much needed support of the Hubster, made the trip to relive those awkward days of high school.

The experience, though, really began inside of my closet. The outfit choices seemed so limited as I stared at the rainbow that is my wardrobe. To relieve my mind I began to recite this mantra "We are ALL almost 50. We are ALL almost 50." I tried to stalk some old classmate Facebook pages to reassure myself that mine was not the only post-birth, nonathletic, bread loving body that would be in attendance. I asked what to expect the attire of the main event would be. Then I came to the realization, there are only two of us going, I can pack what ever I want. So I did. I made sure the outfits would be ones my comfort level would be high in while camouflaging a few less flattering traits I carry around 24/7. Around midnight my head was hitting my pillow awaiting the 4AM alarm to sound for our 8 to 9 hour drive.

Photo booth fun with the Hubster!
We drove and my anxieties arose periodically. Those feelings of meeting new people whom knew of me at a time that was not my best. A couple of my core group would be attending but I was the only one going for all three events. A new message was playing over and over in my mind. "They aren't the same as they were in school." "Thirty years tends to mature people." "Don't put my own insecurities on others." I needed to assume the best. Unfortunately, my mind was listing toward preparing for the worst.

Walking in to the almost historic restaurant / bar I had done my best to appear like I belonged there.  Looking around, I did not recognize a single soul. The stools were filled with many patrons but how was I to know which ones had graduated from SMHS in 1984? Honestly, the thought of leaving was forefront in my mind. Then we spotted them, four people looking at others in the same manner I had been. Sneaking a peak at their faces, I had NO IDEA who in the world they were. Then, I heard it, ".....class of '84?" I found some courage and spoke to them.

We introduced ourselves. It was the men I had walked the halls of my Alma mater with for years. After we revealed our identities the veil began to lift. Though not people I hung out with, I certainly had classes with each. Their wives were sweet and talk of an eight hour drive soon flowed into family and career choices. A few more classmates showed up and then more. Before I knew it the poor wait staff was losing dinner tables to those there for drinks and appetizers. I  have to admit I mistook a fellow Royal for someone else. Commenting on his amazing trumpet skills.  Oops, right first name, wrong last. Oh well chalk that one up to experience. I did love the way he laughed, it warmed my heart.

Second from the left, that's me!
A star football player came up and introductions were had. I don't think he ever spoke two words to me 30 some years ago but this was pleasant. Then he mentioned seeing my family on Facebook. "How many kids do you have?" was soon asked. Talk about a conversation starter. The mention of parenting six children seems to take people aback. Following up with foster care, adoptions and Down syndrome, their jaws almost hit the floor. All of a sudden the man I would have never thought of carrying on a conversation with was all ears. He mentions overseeing the local CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program as well as his appreciation of what foster families need to experience to be successful. I was blessed by his attentiveness. I do believe he used the word "halo" a couple of times also.

That night a few of my classmates recognized me, I saw a few appear to say "Who is she?" A few of them approached me and I approached a few of them. I was even able to use what little ASL I have gleaned from my years with "Signing Time." From locals to those from out of state, we all began to reintroduce ourselves. Soon, our eight and a half hour drive on four hours of sleep began to take it's toll. We finished our sodas and said goodbye until tomorrow. First event down and it wasn't that painful.

Not so suave but he sure makes me laugh!
The next night was the big event. The key words for this evening were "Taco Bar" that screams jeans to me. I put the dress and supportive undergarments to the side and pulled out the "tall" jeans to go with my heels. As we were getting ready the Hubster and I replayed our morning. We were driving down the main drag, contemplating the morning meal location when the phone rang. Answering it over the rental car's sound system the voice of a dear friend resonated from the speakers. He had driven in with his wife and child from Vegas. Remembering him more as the lovable comedian than the suave, international spy he is named after, I was eager to visit. He told us where they were waiting to have breakfast and the old Cindy appeared. "We should eat with you guys!" came out of my mouth instead of the polite, "Hey, would you mind if we joined you?" Soon the five of us  were sitting around the table the laughter slowly but surely emerging from our group. Then the memories and the "have you heard froms" began. The plan was formed to all go to the zoo, disguising his daughter as a Schulze for the day so we could take a little more advantage of our zoo membership. The old friendship became more and more comfortable. Animals, memories and jokes filled our conversation. We moved to another location and enjoyed our loved ones' experiencing what we had lived many times throughout our early lives. This is what I was looking forward to, uniting seasons of my life.

My friends put up with me!
Anxiety was only lingering when it came to arriving at the evening's venue. The Hubster, loaded down with my sophomore, junior and senior yearbooks. (class of "84 never had the "freshman"experience as we came in as sophomores and brought an entire freshman class with us) Our hostess for the weekend was amazing and so sweet. She helped me feel more and more comfortable every time I saw her. I have to admit, her encouraging others to read this blog brought on some confidence I hadn't packed at home.  Another old friend appeared like a cozy blanket. With sodas in hand, the three of us appropriated  an outside picnic table shrouded in scarlet red. Life's joys and sorrows were shared as we spent a short amount of time together. Unfortunately, he had to leave early due to health reasons. That left the Hubster and I to venture out. The yearbooks helped and boy were they popular. My "other half" found someone to discuss cars and racing with so I took that as a cue to head out on my own. Tonight, we all had much needed name tags fastened onto our chests. (It was entertaining to watch people stare at the Hubster's and try to remember him) The newest phrases "I remember you", "You haven't changed." (ha ha) and "I would have totally recognized you!" were music to my ears. The fears had dissipated and memories abounded. Watching future stories unfold made me laugh. The best part for me was getting to share our amazing family experience and encourage a couple of new friends in their amazing family. We headed back to the hotel after the Hubster witnessed a lady swinging around a pole resulting in a classmate's beverage laying on the dance floor void of it's contents. By that time the eagerness to join in on the next day's BBQ had set in.

The next morning consisted of a walk on a beach I spent much of my childhood on, breakfast with old friends, exploring the art vendors along a popular walk, and driving through neighborhoods I hadn't seen in decades. Our sweet weekend ended with a casual BBQ, more ASL and more friends.

Making more memories!
That brings me back to this moment. As I am typing away, hoping I don't lose everything due to my lack of Internet, tears stream down my cheeks. I spent most of the drive reflecting on what God was doing in my heart. The emotions were confusing me. Why now? I had enjoyed high school for the most part. Why would seeing these people cause such intense feelings? Sure there were those who didn't even look my way. Sure, one or two cut the conversation short finding various reasons to walk away. I realize now, it had nothing to do with who I am and everything to do with who they are. No, it was the much needed affirmation from those who inhabited a very vulnerable time in my life that brought this reaction. Those who saw something in this mom-of-six that interested them. Knowing it isn't the college degree, the labels on my clothes, the places we go, nor the things we own that make my life valuable to others. It is what I do with what my Lord has given me. He has given me children. I am a mom. A mom who doesn't fit into those size fives anymore. A mom who feels anguish over missing a birthday. A mom who needed this weekend to reflect on what is my life and the miracles that result.

Maybe at our 35th I will have another opportunity to explore the lives of those who were more distant. Until then, hopes of flourishing friendships, various visitors, and promising posts are beginning to fill my heart.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Close Call!

The broken bone... or not?

We had a concern, was it fractured or sprained? In all of our 18 years of parenting, this experience had yet to cross our paths. Sure, we have had our fair share of bumps and bruises. Sure, we have had a child or two whom have had to be on the receiving end of a needle and sutures. The best was when one boy, at 18 months, decided to stick his finger in the sprocket of an exercise bicycle while his sister was peddling it. Our oldest even seemed to approach any church youth event as a challenge to come home with some type of injury. Now, even as a "legal" adult, that objective still remains. Up until this point, though, we had never waited upon the return of an x-ray and a doctor to interpret it.

The siblings involved (Joe is not that tall)
During this short stint of waiting, I began to ponder the result of my son's evening game of tag in the church parking lot with his junior high youth group, his tumble down the hill and his nonchalant, tough guy attitude that resulted. Well, that's one less hand for chores and complaints from others whom have to pick up the slack. I was already hearing the whining while the rest of the fam was enjoying our local pool, it is June in Arizona don't you know? Thank goodness we are on summer break, we have time for his writing hand to heal before schoolwork reoccurs. Oh man, and then there are the showers! Who is going to deal with that?

As I was contemplating the effects at home of a child in a cast, a small miracle materialized.  My ears weren't fooling me when they heard, "May I help you?" float effortlessly out of my middle girls lips as her older brother struggled with the dishes. "I'll tie your shoes for you!" said my youngest son who has an aversion to footwear with laces. These three, whom seem to battle continually, were willing to serve one another! I began looking forward to the possibility of "plaster" encompassing their brother's wrist. The revelation of the lesson that was on the cusp of understanding in my children's hearts, to serve and to be served graciously, excited me. The bliss I was about to experience as a mom enticed me!  

Then the much anticipated phone call rang through. What? A bad sprain? Ice it 20 minutes twice a day? Oh the whining and complaining that will be my life!!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An Open Letter of Thankfulness to the Teachers Whom Have Touched Our Lives

1st Day of School
Here I am, the end of yet another school year.  I have done this thirteen times now and each year seems to become shorter the more I experience my children growing.  This year, though, is different.  It differs in a few ways. This year was the first that all six of my kids were sitting in a classroom funded by taxpayer dollars. We spanned kindergarten through senior in high school with quite a few grades in between. This year would be the last for Eric. Graduating in just a few days, he will be venturing into the university world in the fall. This year would be my last (I think) year in kindergarten and all of the firsts that encompass it. This year, would be the thirteenth and  final year spent at our little charter school that we have watched grow during our tenure. You see, next year, my final four children will be moving on to an education under a different roof.

Kindergarten here we come!
As I ponder the letter I need to write to our long time principal for the reasons we are making this change, my heart settles on the people who have altered not only my children's lives but the Hubster's and my lives also. How do I tell them how much they mean to me. I wanted to write a personal note to each and every one of them but, after the time we have spent under their roof, we are talking a lot of letters and not enough time to put my heart into each one. So, here I am, writing, what I hope will be received as a heart felt note filled with appreciation and memories.

To you, the teacher of my child,

I am sure you have heard this quote from me, "We believe that you are our partner in parenting." During the school year, it is you who has the attention of my child for the majority of their day. It is you who has the opportunity to mold my child in a way few do. It is you who revels in my child's success as well as laments in their failures. Over the years each of you has touched our family in your own unique way. That is why this letter is so painful to write. You see, this year will be the final year our family graces your hallways. I want you to know our departure has nothing to do with you nor the effort you have applied to my family. The years spent under your tutelage is priceless and greatly appreciated. No, the motivation for our departure has absolutely nothing to do with the love you have poured out upon my children.

Science Fair Projects are all about family
So, I want to say "thank you". Thank you for the many years of devotion to making parts of my family successful, thus strengthening the rest of it. Thank you for the long hours of questions without answers and answers without questions. Thank you for the hours of personal time you have dedicated to my child. Thank you for the noses wiped, tears dried and scrapes cleaned. Thank you for an ear that listens to not only my child but to me. I know I get excited about things and, at times, forget you have thirty little minions to keep an eye on. I don't think you know just how important your support is to me. Over the years, I have shed tears upon your shoulder and I thank you for your compassion.

Most of all, I want to thank you for the memories...

Sneetches, some with stars and some with none
The day I handed my crying first born over to you on his first day of kindergarten. Tears streamed down my face as the Hubster and I walked through the parking lot to our car, all along my little girl skipped singing, "Next year I get to go to school!" prompting more tears.

Teaming up with me to cure my little socialite of the need to chat during class.

Sticking with our family for 4 years, including summers, and still loving us.

Taking my 2 1/2 year old, strong willed, child number 5 and doing the potty training for me.
Our Graduate!

Allowing me to sit in class all day and make dinner menus for weeks to come, while my 13 year old swears I am staring at the back of his head.

Loving on my kindergartner even when she has hidden your cell phone in the tank behind the toilet.

Letting our very big family take over your classroom on "Book Night" and smiling all the way through.

"Encouraging" our picky eater to try everything on her lunch plate. (even if she cried)

Telling me of the time one of our most challenging children was doing classwork and began, quietly singing "The Rainbow Connection" while one by one his classmates joined in.

Enjoying my loud, boisterous, busy, boy who has no sense of personal space and still being steadfast in your sweet gentle nature.

Granting my young teen daughter the opportunity to assist in the "planning" of your wedding to keep her busy while her siblings were in Homework Club.

Embracing my most precious of children and brushing up on your American Sign Language to do so.

Student of the week shows off her bronze medal
There are so many more I could write about and so many more that I will remember later. Some moments will be spoken of at graduations and weddings. Some will simply bring a tear to my eye. One thing is for sure, without you, none of these precious gifts would be part of our family's history. With out you, our family would not be the same.

Please know that even though our time with you is drawing to an end, you will always, always be held dear to our hearts.

Me and one of your students

With much love and respect,

The mother of your student.