I Wish...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

  • I wish my dad could have heard me play saxophone.
  • I wish he could have taught me how to drive.
  • I wish he could have seen me graduate anything:  junior high,  high school, college.
  • I wish we cold have discussed things like politics, religion, football, dogs, music, literature, and everything as two adults.
  • I wish he could have met Bart.
  • I wish he could have walked me down the aisle when we got married almost ten years ago.
  • I wish I could have heard his opinion on our house before we bought it.
  • I wish he could have known Ladybug, and that she and I both could have known him.
  • I wish we could play another game of Super Mario Bros. together.
  • I wish he could have known about iPhones and iPads and all the cool gadgets that didn't exist a quarter of a century ago, because that's where I get my gadget-whoriness.  

It has been twenty-three years today since I had any type of conversation with my Dad.   It's been twenty-three years this evening since he passed away suddenly of a heart attack.  It's been twenty-three years today since a huge piece of my innocence was stripped away from me at the age of ten.  I wish a great many things and wonder countless "what if's".  However, I realize that God has put me in the path he has for reasons I'll never fully understand until I'm in Heaven.  I'm very thankful for the life I have, but still sometimes I wish...  At least I know that I'll see him again some day.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.” - John 14:1-4 ESV

How Having Dogs Prepared Me For Motherhood

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I remember the day I became a mom.  It was a sunny day, but there was a bit of snow on the ground after an early-morning dusting.  I was all nervousness and excitement.  I had wanted this of what seemed like all of my life,  but was I ready for it?  Were we ready for it?  After all, we had never before been solely responsible for keeping another living being alive.  Then they handed her to me, with her red hair and sweet blue eyes, I just knew.  I was meant to be her mom, and she was my girl.  She must have been nervous about the sudden change in her surroundings, because BOY DID SHE HAVE GAS!  Those teeth, they were like tiny little razor blades!  When she wagged her little tail, my heart melted, and our lives have never been the same.  Lucy Snowflake Gilbreath was here to stay.

Teeth?  Tail?  What, were you expecting the heart-warming story of the morning Ladybug was born?  I could tell you about that, but that really wasn't the day I became a mom.  By the time Ladybug was born I had already been a mom to Lucy for just over four years, to Dory for a little longer than two years, and it had been two years since I had said goodbye to our first baby lost to miscarriage.  I have mentioned before how that short first pregnancy changed me and started preparing me to be Ladybug's mom, but today I want to share with you a few ways in which having dogs, or as I sometimes have called them "practice children," helped prepare me to be Ladybug's mom.

It's a lifetime commitment
First of all, getting a new puppy (or adopting a grown dog) is very much like bringing home a newborn.  It's a lifetime commitment.  When you bring home a dog, you're committing yourself to love and care for this dog for the rest of its life.  It's not something you should do just because puppies are cute, just as you shouldn't have a baby just because everyone else is doing it.  You should make sure you're ready to commit to the time, and for the money it takes.  Babies and dogs are both expensive.  A life is in your hands and depends on you for its every need to be met.  You have to feed her.  You have to get her medical care and vaccinations.  You are the responsible party.

Say, "Aloha!" to sleep for a while.
You're bringing her to an all-new environment.  It's going to take time for you to adjust to each other and the changes in your lives.  Be prepared for sleepless nights and don't start something if you're not willing to let it become the new norm.  Dory cried all night in her crate her first night home with us.  She was scared and alone, suffering from horrible separation anxiety after having been dumped on the side of the road then tossed from shelter to foster home to us.  Bart ended up putting her at the foot of our bed.  Almost four years later, she still sleeps there.  Nothing's moving that dog at night.  Most nights Ladybug sleeps through the night, but Lucy will wake me if she or Dory needs to potty.  I rarely get to sleep a whole night through.

You will never pee alone again.
I used to call Lucy my "poop coach," because she had a habit of staring me down while I was using the restroom.  Both dogs like to hang out while we shower or use the bathroom.  Lucy usually takes a nap at my feet.  Once the smoke detector started beeping because we needed to change the batteries.  She freaked out and jumped on my lap while I was trying to do my business.  So, the little fingers underneath the bathroom door and the soft knocks on it are old hat to me.  A little voice calling, "Momma!" is easy compared to eighty pounds of golden retriever in your lap when all you want is a couple minutes to yourself.

Nothing ever stays clean.
I vacuum our floors pretty much every other day on a good week.  Just as soon as I put the vacuum back in the kitchen pantry, Dory is usually rolling around on her back on the carpet getting that fine, super-soft, long hair on everything, and Ladybug has a bowl of goldfish and has managed to drop, step on, and crush a few.  Just mopped the floors?  Muddy feet will inevitably run across the tile, and sippy cups filled with juices that become sticky upon contact will manage to leak even though they're not supposed to.  I don't even want to talk about the windows.  Often I find all three girls with their noses pressed to the panes, staring at something or even nothing at all.  Bart recently mentioned that we should just accept that for the time being, nothing will ever remain perfectly clean for very long.  He's right too, and I'm ok with that.  We definitely have a house that is lived in.

They have to be played with - A LOT
You can't get a dog and not exercise her body and mind.  Dogs need to expend their energy, or they will act out.  When Lucy was young and an only dog, we couldn't keep up with her at times.  Sometimes in the middle of the night, I would hear her upstairs, looking for something to get in to, and running up and down the stairs with whatever she found to "play" with.  To this day, she has sudden, crazy spurts of zooms (energy).  When we don't pay attention to her and play with her, she will act out.  Ladybug also acts out when she doesn't get a chance to run and play.  Her acting out usually comes out as a tantrum rather than eating Bart's beloved vinyl copy of Garth Brooks' first record.  

Your words carry a lot of weight, as does your tone of voice.
Lucy and Dory are both very sensitive dogs who want to please us.  Dory is especially this way.  When irritated with them, or just exasperated with their behavior, I've learned that I can unintentionally hurt them not just by what I tell them, but how I tell them anything.  Dory will absolutely freak out if you start speaking to her in an accusatory tone.  I'm realizing that I can get them and Ladybug to mind without having to resort to harsh, hateful tones.  Sometimes they come out anyway, but I try to watch how I say the things I want Ladybug to pay attention to.  I can have authority without sounding harsh.

Change is good, and your heart will grow.
Bart and I were pretty happy just the two of us when we got Lucy.  Bart especially was worried about changing our family dynamic.  He hates change of any sort.  Once we had Lucy we couldn't imagine life without her.  Then, when I decided that Lucy and I both needed Dory, I had to talk Bart into that as well.  Once again, we had a good thing, and he wasn't sure we could love Dory as much as we do Lucy.  Of course we do love her, it's a little different than how we love Lucy, but we love her just as much.  The same fears surfaced before we had Ladybug, and are again as we discuss hopefully having one more baby some time.  The thing is, yes our family changes every time we add another member.  However each time it happens our hearts grow, and we grow with them.

Yes, sometimes my house is crazy.  At any given moment the doorbell could ring, sending everyone into a frenzy.  My living room floor is sometimes used as a WWE mat.  I pick up up toddler and dog toys multiple times a day.  Sometimes it would just be easier if we didn't have dogs, but I wouldn't trade them or what their being members of our family has meant to us.  They really have helped me to be a better mom to Ladybug.  They are blessings in my life, and I am thankful for them.

No Crowns Needed Here

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I actually watched the Miss America pageant Sunday night.  I normally don't, but I did because I love watching something live and being a part of the live Tweet process.  I'm not really a fan of the whole pageant lifestyle and what it really promotes.  I'm not a feminist by any means, so this isn't a rant about it's objectification of women.  Personally I think that the girls on Miss America show more modesty than the random Instagram poster at any given moment these days.  My dislike of pageants goes deeper than that argument.

The Small Town Rite of Passage
I grew up in a town where every October the small population gathered either at the gym or cafeteria and watched as a fraction of the girls from that year's senior class paraded up an down a stage, where each girl attempted to prove to a panel of judges that she was the had the most poise, was the most well-spoken, most talented young lady in order to win a scholarship.  This was Heavener's contribution to America's Junior Miss.  The winner would compete in the state competition the following spring.  At least once, one of our girls won at state.

Almost all of my best friends competed in Junior Miss, and a couple won it.  I even participated my junior year as a "Little Sister" to my friend Jackie.  It was pretty much expected that most of the girls who were involved in much of anything would participate their senior year and was in many ways viewed as a rite of passage. Yet when my time came, I didn't feel compelled to compete - much to the disappointment of my mother.  It was years before she stopped badgering me about not competing.  She needed that validation through me.

Over my high school years, it became very clear to me that at least in our particular town, the winner of Junior Miss was pretty much decided long before the event.  Rarely it was a surprise, and occasionally there were rumors of fixing scores.  Deep down, it could be a very dirty event.  Some years, there were several girls with ample talent and ability to speak in public.  Some years, like mine, there weren't.  I loved public speaking.  That wasn't an issue.  I had been first chair alto sax for years, so I could swing talent had I wanted to.  I just didn't want to.  I was probably more confident at that time in my life than any other, and I didn't have anything to prove to anyone.  I was enough for me.

Some of the other girls, they needed it.  They needed it, and even though they worked harder than the ones to whom things came easily, they came out with nothing to show for it but a loss of time and even greater feelings of not being enough and bitterness.  For the victors, there was a greater sense of worth and validation, but quite honestly none of them really needed that.  So to me, pageants are great for the few who succeed in them and a self-esteem nightmare for those who so desperately want to be validated by them and aren't.

Still Not Enough
Then, once the winners put on that crown there are whole new problems.  I haven't known a girl who won either Junior Miss or Miss Carl Albert or Miss NSU who wasn't greatly encouraged to lose weight before competing in the next level.  I'm talking about being encouraged to the point that there have been girls who had to go into rehab, because no matter how great they were someone was always there to tell them they weren't good enough.  You're beautiful, but you're fat.  You may only weigh 120 lbs, but you're fat.  You need to firm up.  Your smile is a little too crooked.  Your voice is a little too flat.

To me, pageants are a very real representation of our society.  They are disguised as something meant to bring girls up, yet even more they tear them down.  Writing this, I feel rather guilty and hypocritical for watching and tweeting about Miss America.  I never want Ladybug to ever feel like she isn't enough.  She is more than enough, and she doesn't need some rhinestone crown to prove it.

September 11: Who I Was & Who I Now Am

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I don't know of a single person living at the time who wasn't affected by the events that occurred on that Tuesday morning twelve years ago.  We take greater precautions when we travel, when we gather in grand numbers for events, and in countless other ways we have become so accustomed to since then that we hardly even notice them anymore.  I was twenty-one years old at the time.  Legally I was grown up, but there have been few times in my life when I felt so very vulnerable.

In 2001, I was studying Shakespeare and muddling my way through History of the English Language and Linguistics classes. Like most college students, I was very absorbed in me.   I thought about how I didn't necessarily feel safe living on a college campus at that time or attending classes. I thought about how the sound of every plane and helicopter that flew over my head struck me with no small amount of fear.  I thought about how the professor who taught both History of the English Language and Linguistics was so rude that she talked throughout the entire moment of silence my university held the next day.   My focus was spent thinking how my world had changed, and how things would never be quite the same ever again for me.  In all honesty, I never really got past me and how I felt.

Today I watched my daughter interact with her friend at Little Sprouts.  They are so sweet and so innocent.  These two little girls have no idea the terror of watching planes fly into buildings.  They haven't watched footage of people jumping from the burning buildings to escape the flames.  They don't know the fear of a plane flying too low, or at just opening a letter in the mail.  My greatest wish that can't come true is that Ladybug stays innocent forever.

Thinking past myself, I now worry about what tragedies will happen in Ladybug's lifetime.  Bart speculated it at the dinner table last night.  He was thinking of her being just a spectator like we really have been so far.  I worry that she could be a victim of such evil acts someday and pray that it never happens.  The dilemma mothers have faced since Eve is that we want our children to be successful, to go out and conquer the world.  Yet, we also yearn to keep them close to us, to keep them safe, and to always protect them.

She Isn't Really Mine, But God's
The thing is, Ladybug is mine, but she really isn't.  She belongs to God, and in that thought I have to trust him with her.  I have to push aside all the worries of my "heart walking around outside my body," as Elizabeth Stone so deftly put it and trust God with her.  I have to remember and put my faith in Jeremiah 29:11 " For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Accepting I'll Never Have All the Answers
Looking back I was hardly more than a baby myself when the attacks happened, and yet at the time I thought that I had everything figured out in life.  Since then, and honestly probably in no small part due to September 11, I've learned that I'm never going to have everything figured out about life.  Just when I think I do have it figured out, God reminds that I don't and won't until I am with him in Heaven.  It is easy to allow ourselves to become paralyzed with fear, unable to move forward or to function at all like so many people did like we all did for a while after the attacks.  Even today, we let the terrorists win if we lose our faith in God and give in to the fear of all the bad things that can happen.  I think today I can more clearly see the truth of Jeremiah 29:11, and yet it still remains "in a mirror dimly."  Realizing and accepting that is who I am today.

Know Your Adrienne

Monday, September 9, 2013

I feel a little blogger-blocked currently.  Actually, I just think I'm tired from kicking hiney in the house-work department today.  My blogging inspiration usually hits in the mornings after my quiet time, and I don't usually have a chance to pound out my thoughts until later in the day.  By nighttime (like tonight),  whatever deep thoughts I had in the morning have often been pushed aside for a day of doing all the things it takes to be a wife to Bart and momma to Ladybug, Lucy, and Dorothy Gale.  So instead, I'm going to throw out some more little facts about me.
  • This may be un-American or at least anti-Southern, but I have a serious dislike of smocked clothes for babies and toddlers.  I just don't like them.
  • I'm fairly certain that I couldn't tolerate it if Bart was a serious gamer.  I don't understand how he can spend as much time as he does "managing" his team on NCAA Football on the Xbox.  He spends far more time managing than he ever does actually playing.
  • Every time I'm asked to join a meal-train or something similar I feel horribly guilty, but I am NOT the person you want fixing you dinner when you're ill or bereaved.  Maybe I once would have been, but the past ten years have made me very adept at feeding my extremely picky family which includes an IBS-riddled husband.  I don't do elaborate or showy.  I just do necessary.
  • Bart and I have been watching Ally McBeal on Netflix for the past few months.  We just saw the episode where Billy died last week.  I have had the hardest time not telling Bart what was going to happen!
  • I have a nickname that friends from back home often use when addressing me, Addy.  My friend Nicole's mom, Brenda gave it to me when I was ten or eleven.  My mother hates it.  I... don't mind it.  It's part of that girl who lived on Townsend Drive in Heavener, Oklahoma all those years ago.
  • I often suffer from insomnia, usually in the warmer months.  Sadly it's usually the worst on Saturday nights, when I have to get up early for church on Sundays.  I don't intend to be zombie-like at church, but it's a trial.
  • When I as in my teens and life seemed to be a bit much, I would sit at the piano and just play and play for a while in order to relax and clear my head.  Now I often find the same release in taking Ladybug outside and having an impromptu photo shoot with her.  The same goes with editing projects on Shutterfly.  Here are my two favorites from the last time we did this.

Photo Book

Friday, September 6, 2013

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The How's and Why's

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pray.  Sometimes that's all that we can do when things are beyond us.  We.just.pray.  We pray and pray and pray.  Sometimes our prayers are answered to our satisfaction, and sometimes they aren't.  Sometimes we feel like God isn't listening, that he has stopped loving, or that he doesn't exist at all, because our prayers aren't answered in the manner we want.  I think that it is most difficult when we hit our knees for children, and especially when God's will and ours diverge.

Last week, a member of our Sunday school class said goodbye to her nephew Xander, who had valiantly and faithfully battled cancer for nine years.  He was eleven, and he had spent nine of those years battling cancer and still loving God.  He's no longer fighting, he's free, but his family is experiencing a hurt like none other.

There's a pastor in Oklahoma who used to travel with his evangelist dad to our church and church camps.  His seven year old son Trey lost his battle with cancer on Sunday, and they are celebrating his life as I write this post.  Trey's dad is doing something no father ever expects to do, he is preaching his son's funeral.

So many battles.  So many different battles.  We cry out to God, asking, WHY?  HOW can a loving God allow children to suffer so?  Why must they be conceived or born at all, if they are only to be taken from us at such an early age?  We hate the platitudes, but most of us will honestly admit that even though the loss is the most difficult think ever, we're thankful for what time we did have with them.  We know that our lives have been touched and will never really be the same again because of loving them.

I'm thinking of sweet Eleanor who should have been 19 months old today, Miller, who would have been around 2 and half, and my little one who would have been three years old recently whom I never even knew boy or girl.  I'm thinking of Xander and Trey.  No matter how short their lives, they have touched the others to their very soul and will continue to do so.

I'm praying for Reese, the daughter of two friends from back home.  She had open heart surgery yesterday.  She is doing well, but my heart breaks that she is having to experience this at all.  I ask that you pray for her, her parents, and her younger sister and brother as she recovers.  I'm praying for Josiah, my friend Cassidy's nephew.  He has started his battle against leukemia.  He and all of his loved ones need to be continually lifted up in prayer.

I don't understand the how's or the why's really.  Honestly I don't have to.  It's not really for me to understand.  Someday I will.  On his blog, Trey's dad shared 1 Corinthians 13:12  “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."  I have to be content with not knowing all of the how's and why's for now.  

Life is a miraculous gift from God.  Children are a blessing and a miracle.  Pray for and be thankful for your little ones every day.  I am for mine, even though she made me want to pull out my hair at times today.

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