Thursday, February 7, 2013

Not a Little Girl

Arissa posted a picture to Instagram earlier tonight.  As I was flipping through my news feed I saw her name and scrolled a little bit further to see the photo.  And I audibly gasped.  Where there used to be a gap tooth, frizzy haired cutie there is now a stunning young lady.  She is as kind as she is smart.  She is as tender as she is beautiful.  She is a friend to all, polite and caring.  I've watched her grow into the person she is yet when I see photos like this?  There are tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

I need time to stop.  My babies are growing up and will be branching out and leaving the nest way too soon.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What Year is This Anyways?

Maybe I am naive.  Maybe my head is up my butt.  Maybe I live my life with blinders on.  But the conversation I had with Arissa on Sunday not only knocked the wind out of me but it brought tears to my eyes and left me shaking for hours.

Back story:  Arissa has a friend (I'll call her Kristy to make things anonymous and simple).  Kristy was in super like with a boy (another friend of hers and I'll call him Tom).  Tom asked Kristy to be his girlfriend and she accepted.  They were adorable together and Arissa was giddy about how cute they were; how much they really liked each other; how she was so happy for 2 great friends of hers.  Now, I should point out that we are talking about middle school here.  As parents we tend to discount middle school relationships but they are a big deal to the kids.  So I listened to Arissa gush about this couple, giggled at the couple name she came up with for them...etc, etc.

Sunday Arissa and I were at Walgreens and she mentioned that Kristy had broken up with Tom.  I asked "what?! why?!  I thought they were all in love and happy?"  She said they were.  But that Kristy's parents made her break up with him.  I asked if she wasn't allowed to have a boyfriend?  Arissa said that no, that wasn't why.  I asked "why then?".  I was in no way prepared for her reply.  The words she said stunned me into silence and instant tears sprang into my eyes.  What was her answer?  "because Tom is black."

I have had many many dealings with Kristy's mom through the years.  Our sons are the same age and have hung out several times; our daughters have cheered together a few times in the past and on the same squad the past 2 years.  The mom has always been super sweet; the type that never had a bad thing to say about people or situations; had her daughter miss cheer events for church activities; always in a cheery mood.   Basically, "good people" that never showed a hint of racism.

The boy, Tom, was Arissa's long time boyfriend.  He and Arissa remain terrific friends...he makes excellent grades, is a terrific athlete, has been chosen several years to speak at the Boys & Girls Club board meeting.  A good kid...respectful and kind.  Steven and I are very picky about who Arissa is allowed to be friends with and "date" and this boy passed all of our requirements with flying colors.

All that to say....this reaction coming from these people is a good part of my shock.  That and the fact that to my face she's always been so kind.  But her reaction to Tom shows how she really feels about us.  My family.  My husband.  My son.  My daughter.  She told Kristy that "those" people have a different "culture" and "customs".  "Those" people?  Are me.  I am outraged.  Outraged that they are teaching their child to be racist; outraged that they broke their own daughters heart by their ignorance; outraged for Tom; outraged for Arissa.

I have not publicly revealed the true identities of these people.  But if you are at a RMS game and see me nose to nose with a lady?  You can bet money that it's me losing my religion on her.  I will not seek her out.  I won't have to.  See, us "cheer moms" usually sit together.   Will I allow this evil woman to sit next to me and pretend everything is okay?  Will I allow this woman to speak to Arissa?  Will I allow this insanity to go unspoken?  Hell no.  I am well aware I will most likely not change her views (you can't fix stupid) but she will be aware just what I think of her.  Because I am one of "those" people...the kind that stands up for what is right.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dancing Queen

I took a hiatus from dance.  Time and money needed to go to other places so I've been out for several months.  Tonight classes resumed from Christmas break and I was there.  I'm back to tap & lyrical.  I was scared about how much I'd missed since being gone but luckily they hadn't started the dances for recital so I was no worse off than anyone else.

I am super super excited for the tap routine.  I love the song.  I love my moment with my Sara.  The costumes sound fun.  Now if I can get my feet to do what they are supposed to do.

I am less excited about the lyrical routine.  I think because a) I don't know the song and b) I haven't seen the costume.  I have zero clue what it looks like and if you know me, you know that what I am going to look like in an outfit is super high on my priority list.  I'm one of those people that if I don't feel like I look good in something then I don't feel good.  No matter who says what; my opinion never changes.

One thing that is different from last year....I will NOT stress out over it.  I will have fun.  I will do my best.  I will fight like hell not to compare myself to others.  I will be the best Anne I can be on that stage.  Something I learned from last year....just showing up is accomplishment enough.  Honestly, a few short years ago I wasn't sure I'd still be around.  And to be dancing?  My how far I've come.

I will tap my heart out.
I will let go and let the music move me through the lyrical routine.
I will dance.
I will have fun.
I will LIVE!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Something to Think About

I recently ran across this article and it struck a chord with me.

The #1 item listed is a phrase I was raised with.  It was often said by my mother, most likely more as a pep-talk to herself dealing with 3 girls and a husband who was out of town working more than he was home.  (I should note that *I* was of no cause for her stress.  It was all my sisters fault.  Me?  I'm the baby and never guilty of anything.  Ever.)

As I got older and life saddled me with a life threatening chronic illness, I tried to lean on the phrase.  It was my mantra for a long time.  Repeated often with every time I got knocked back down.  God doesn't give us more than we can handle.  God doesn't give us more than we can handle.  God doesn't give us more than we can handle.  God doesn't give us more than we can handle.

After a while though, it made me feel like I wasn't supposed to be scared or upset.  That I was supposed to take every punch life threw at me with joy...because it was God showing me I'm strong.  All it did was lead me to resent God.  Because honestly, I didn't want Him thinking I was strong.  I didn't want anymore trials.  I couldn't handle another blow.  I was done.  In more ways then one.

Years later, I learned the truth of this statement.  When I began making my way back to the Lord, a dear friend of mine and I were talking.  She shared with me that it's not God doesn't give us more than we can handle; but that God gives us the strength to get through it.  That He never leaves us.  Her simple words changed my whole outlook on what God is.

God doesn't give cancer because He thinks you are strong enough.  God doesn't cause innocent children to be gunned down in their classroom leaving their parents empty because they "can handle it".  What does God do?  He never leaves your side.  He gives you the strength and courage to wake up every day facing insurmountable odds.  He gives you peace, friends, and His word to carry you through.

My words to those facing crisis (big or small)...I pray for Gods strength to get you through; God will never leave you.  Trust Him.  He will show you the way.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Yup.  I'm sick.  It started Wednesday and I managed to keep it at bay for a few days but last night the icks overcame my fight.  I was at the doc at 9am this morning and was diagnosed with a sinus infection and an ear infection.  Won a steroid shot in my butt, oral steroids and antibiotics.  The steroids have already started to help the brick stuck my nose and pounding headache...hoping that the dawn brings a much happier Anne.

I have been really healthy lately.  Like really healthy.  Aside from my migraines and the occasional bulging disk pain in my neck I've been doing great.  When I do get sick, I get this icky feeling in the back of my head.  I'm always afraid this is the beginning of the sick Anne road we traveled for so many years.  I hate missing work.  I hate being in the bed.  I hate everything about being sick.  I thrive on normal.  I require routine to feel grounded.  When I'm sick all of that has to be pushed to the side so I can recover and I absolutely hate it.  I'm not going to wax on about how it could be worse...I know it could.  But, I'm not going to discount how I feel.  Scared is how I feel.  Scared of the road that may lay ahead.  I will pray this is simply a bump in the road and if it isn't?  We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Catch Up Post

The Freeman Four have made it through another year...older, wiser, bigger, taller, but most of all HAPPY!

We've enjoyed a wonderful 2012 and I'll try to summarize the high points....

  • In April Arissa turned 13 and was on the receiving end of the Stratman family tradition and received her birthstone ring.  This ring also doubled as her purity ring.  It was an estate piece that I searched high and low for and was perfect.  She adored it and wore it proudly.
  • About this time, Arissa tried out for the school cheerleading team and once again made the squad.
  • In May Isaiah turned 16!  No, he isn't a driver yet but hopefully that will change.  Steven and I don't think that 16 automatically equals driving and when we feel he is ready for that responsibility he will be driving.
  • School finished up and both kids did well....ish.  Arissa, yes.  Isaiah?  Not so much.  We spent our summer working with a therapist & a psychiatrist and FINALLY got a diagnosis and treatment started for him.  If you know Isaiah at all "ADHD" is probably the last thing you would ever think of to describe him.  Turns out, ADHD isn't just "misbehaving"...with Isaiah it's what we refer to as tics... subtle moves, blinks, taps, rubs....he is almost always in some form of motion.  The tics were of zero concern to us...his inability to complete his school work, him being in tears wanting to make changes but unable to find the will was awful...on all of us.  Not just him.  A little pill once a day changed so much for him.  
  • In June I was in my very first dance recital ever.  When I started taking dance I was adamant I wouldn't be in the recital.  Not *this* Momma.  No way Jose.  Um.  Yeah.  There I was in full on costume and stage makeup dancing in front of half the town.  I had quite the support group there and it was a total BLAST!   I loved it!!
  • The end of June brought our family beach vacation.  This year we went down to Cape Coral and rented a perfect house for the week.  We had plenty of room, our own pool, rarely wore more than swimsuits, had zero schedule...slept late, stayed up late, read magazines and books, swam and swam some more.  It was perfect.  Weather could have been better and we decided we'd rather be closer to the beach but those things were minor.  We all enjoyed ourselves.  As I watched the kids play in the pool I're gonna miss this.  And I know I will.  Our time with our kids is getting shorter and shorter.
  • We weren't back long and it was time to deal with church camp, cheer camp, and get ready for school to start.
  • Not too far into the school year we had a very scary situation with Arissa.  She managed to contract viral encephalitis and waiting on the diagnosis was awful.  She had amnesia (and still can't remember several days and likely never will), had 4 lumbar punctures, CT scan, EEG, tons of blood work and a weekend stay at Children's.  She also lost the ring she got for her birthday.  We were blessed with a) the good news that time and rest would fix her and b) a dear friend of ours worked with the jeweler to find and purchase an almost identical ring for her.  
  • Steven is still at AT&T; I am still at Duncan & Sons'.  I really love my job.  I love the people I work for and with.  They are an awesome family and I'm one of "them"...not just an employee.
  • The first part of December we participated in the Faith Walk: Knoxville Steps Up for HIV.  This was a HUGE deal for me....Isaiah and Arissa were there beside me, all of us in "Team Amazing Love" shirts (the team I formed for my support group), and I had about 15 people there plus lots of out of towners wearing their shirts that day to support me.  I shed more than a few tears.
  • We figured out that gluten isn't my friend....I don't have Celiac but do have a strong gluten intolerance.  The less I eat, the happier my guts.  Most days I do really well and I do allow myself cheat days for special occasions (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc).
  • I still deal with the migraines...I suppose I always will.
  • We got the good news from Isaiah's specialist that he doesn't have to return...he is now a mere 1/2 inch shorter than me & is still on track to be 6'.  His bones are still only aged to 14 years but that will catch up over time.
  • Isaiah got 4 wisdom teeth pulled last week and did terrific!  Very little pain, barely any swelling and he's back to normal.
  • Christmas was terrific!  Both kids were spoiled a bit more than normal (more for my benefit than anything), were very surprised and very grateful.  
  • Steven did great for me this year....after several years of no laptop I got a new one!  So...maybe now that I can blog from upstairs I will do better.  
I'm sure I've forgotten plenty but at least it's a start.  Check back never know when I'll be back!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

No Mo Metal

I no longer have kids with braces. I now have kids with retainers. Isaiah got his braces off back in August (and because I was a slacker Blogger I didn't post about it) and as of this morning Arissa no longer has hers. I am posting before and after pics of both kids. I have no idea how they will line up with this post since I'm posting from my phone but I'm 100% positive you'll be able to figure out which is which.

Arissa's mouth trauma is far from over though. In a few months she will have her upper and lower gums trimmed, a thick muscle between her front teeth removed and her upper wisdom teeth removed. All at the same time. Please begin prayer vigils mouth hurts just thinking about it!