Monday, April 30, 2012

aerobics & med school priorities

Over a year ago I wrote about our beloved Pastor A and his other half, Pauline . . . how they were meant to be.
Today I read their beautiful granddaughter's perspective on med school, balance, priorities and flexibility. 

Great read, fun blog. . . check it out!

In other news. . .

I took my very first step aerobics class tonight at the suggestion and invitation of my friend Jess.

Oh. Wow.

Number one, I have no rhythm.  When we were youth leaders, I couldn't even clap in the correct places for the choruses, let alone do all the cutesy actions. When Daniel and I dance try to dance I am the total complete klutz.  I can't even dance obnoxiously, like Kevin James in Hitch.  When I tried to reenact that famous scene for Daniel once, he about fell on the floor laughing at my lack of coordination.  (What can I say, I was homeschooled.)

Number two, I have not allowed myself to buy workout clothing until I get rid of the baby weight. It's stubbornly clinging, so I walked into the class of cute, bright, athletic yoga pants and uber cool shoes and I looked like. . . um . . .  gross. I have grass stains and paint on my Adidas running shoes, which are from my running years. . .which predate Jacob, so. . . they're old.

Number three, I didn't know what a horseshoe was, or a basic step, or . . . really anything.  I desperately tried to keep up and it was really fun when I thought no one was watching me.  My friend Jess was sympathetic for the most part, but my dyslexic dance moves were pretty pathetic and she was being quite polite.  If I were watching me I would have been laughing.

Who am I kidding? With wall to wall mirrors, I was watching me. 

And I was also laughing.

This is what I looked like: 

(The middle dude. )

Anyway. . .

happy Monday to you.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

first world problems



Soccer Game.

Picture day.  Comb his hair.  *mentally schedule haircut*

Be early. Pack stroller.  Take coffee.

Home for brunch. *make pancakes, warm syrup, cut oranges, wash strawberries?*

Daniel & his brother Mark work on rental house all afternoon.

I mow the yard.

Prepare supper. *dump chicken and barbecue sauce in crock-pot*

Run errands.

Make rolls with Cambria.

Make Jacob clean up all of the fresh cut grass that was tracked across the living room.

*mentally schedule carpet cleaners*

Daniel and Mark return just as I am about to get in the shower and end my day of craziness.

I wait for Mark to leave, pass the parenting baton to Daniel and head into the bathroom with a book, my phone and  fresh clothing .  Sliding the lock shut on any door is blissfully amazing right now, even it is the bathroom door.

Ahhhhhhhh.  Such a long week of solo parenting.  I am going to let it all unwind and roll off. 

Except that I notice there's toilet paper draped over the toilet seat.

So I clean that up.

Then I realize that new toilet paper isn't existent.  (How hard is it to replace the roll, people?!)

So I replace that.

Head over to wash my hands, but the drain is clogged with all of the bread dough that Cambria washed off of her hands.

So I clean that up, too.

(And normally I would be calling the children back to these messes, but I am on a mission to get into that hot shower.)

Over in the shower. . . . remember all of that fresh cut grass?  Well, it's in the tub now, and it's good to know that it's there, rather than on the carpet. . .

So I clean that up too.



I turn the hot water on.

Except that it is just a tiny little dribble.

I remember vaguely that Daniel had mentioned adding another inch of water to the pool.

I know a stronger person would have handled this in a different way, but I knew I was alone and no one would hear . . .

So I screamed.  Really loud.  Just let it all out.  And then I stood there in the dribble of water and cried.

Crying like an immature teenager, I think that the logical thing to do here is to go ask Daniel to turn the water off.  I wrap myself in a bath sheet and go bang on the window to the pool area.  He is out there, with his back pack blower blowing all of the grass off of the deck.  Obviously he can't hear me.

So as he comes up to the upper porch with his blower I go to the door.  In my bath sheet.  I wave at him.  He stops in his tracks and turns his blower off.  (Poor guy, I do believe he got the wrong idea.)

I am still in tears.

"I can't go to the bathroom because no one flushes the toilet and I can't wash my hands because the sink is clogged with bread dough and I can't take a shower because there's grass in the drain plug and then when I finally turn the shower on there's not any water because you're filling the pool.  All I want is a hot shower. . .and I'm not mad at anyone. . . I'm just tired. . . and can you please turn the water off?"

I don't know why he thought this little diatribe was so hilarious, but he couldn't stop laughing. 

I did have a hot shower and it really did feel amazing.

Worth crying over?  I don't know.  I think those tears of frustration and stress are going to come out of me somewhere no matter what.  They might as well be in the shower where no one sees.

I tell myself:  First world problem.

Ever heard that? 

It's a sarcastic response to some one's imagined catastrophe. 

I can't fit seven Ferraris in my six car garage.  waaaaah. . . .

First world problems are frustrations and complaints that are only experienced by privileged individuals in wealthy countries. (Definition according to Google.)
First World Problem example

As I travel the mamma road so many of the inconveniences and frustrations are just that. . . inconveniences.

I have forgotten. . . in two short years, I have forgotten the wish for a bad day.  Just a normal bad day.

I remember being down at the riverfront the week after Gabe died.

A young mom locked her keys in her van and it was a warm day;  her baby was crying.  My heart was twisting in two looking at her chubby little dude, sweating in his stroller.  My arms were still physically aching to hold my little man, not able to allow my mind to even grasp the finality of his tiny grave.

And she was furious with herself, swearing and kicking at the concrete pavement, hating the stupidity of small mistakes that add an hour to already busy days.

Daniel and I offered to give her a ride home to get her extra set of keys. Initially, tragedy brings an oddly cleared schedule.  Normally we wouldn't even have time to notice her predicament.  But in the face of unbelievably tortured nights and dragging through the days, giving a stranger a ride was a welcome diversion.

She complained the entire route.  She was so frustrated.  She was having such a bad day.  It was so hot.  Her baby wouldn't stop crying.  It was taking so long.  She was grateful and kind to us, but so angry with herself.

When the situation had been solved (within twenty minutes) she thanked us and drove away.

I remember watching her drive away, looking at Daniel and saying "I would give anything in the world to have that kind of bad day again."

To have a situation that can be solved with thinking and kindness?

To have a problem that can be fixed with some extra effort?

To see a need that just requires extra money?

To be tired at night from taking care of people that I love?

Have I so quickly forgotten?

Grief brings a clarity to life that ease and pleasure does not.  It has a way of slicing through the complexities of our busyness and prioritizing what really matters.

The water issues of a hot shower being slow while we're filling up our pool?

I'm ashamed and amazed that these are the things that put me under.

Ann Voskamp talks about her children fighting over toast in her book One Thousand Gifts;  she speaks of all of the big things that she's learning about God and then what ruins her day is toast.  And it's toast she repeats in the chapter Seeing Through the Glass. 

My friend Phoebe and I have coined this phrase;  it finds its way into those complaining texts as a way of bringing perspective.  this is only toast. . . this being late, this date that didn't turn out quite like we'd hoped, these children who spilled red juice on white shirts. . . 

It's the little things that sink me.

On Wednesday the toast was the elusive AWANA vest.  Cambria had lost hers the week before.  I searched in vain for an hour that I didn't have and she wept and I steamed.  One whole year of Cubbies and on the second to last week we lose the vest.  As if on cue, preparing for awards night, Jacob couldn't find his.  I looked.  He looked.  I prayed.  He prayed.  I was so frustrated.  I told myself. . .this is toast. . .this is not important. . .the scripture hidden in their hearts. . . that's the important part. . .

But I hate the label of frazzled and disorganized and I rebel against the image of the straggling homeschool mom whose children are ill-prepared for life and you know. . . I want to look like I have it all together.  It doesn't matter that I don't. . . I just want to look like it.

(Wow, did I just admit that?)

I want the cupcakes to be frosted just right and the reading to be one level above expected and the baby weight to be gone and the AWANA vests on.  So I searched on. I could feel sweat dripping down my back as I crouched down to search under our bed.  The ridiculousness of the whole thing should have made me laugh, but I marched on, grimly determined to find.the.vest.  If I found Cambria's during the search, that would also be a sweet bonus.

Cambria:  "Wow, I'm stressed."

Me:  "Why are you stressed, Cambria?"

Cambria:  "From all of your mad talking, Mom."


And I quit.  Right there.  The end.  It doesn't matter. The vests, the toast, the little things. . . they are little things.  They don't really matter. 

Where is my perspective?

Incidentally, (miraculously?)  at 5:30 pm I received a  text from Stirlen's mom that said they had Jacob's vest and and 6:00 pm I received a text from Jett's mom that said they had Cambria's.

So both of my children went to AWANA awards night with their vests.  The mad talking that I did was not only completely wasted, but once again a sober reminder to me that these are the little things. 

The big things. . .







Having them to hold

Waking up to their warm little selves

This short time we have them in our home. . .

I cannot spend these short days stressed about vests and hot showers.

These are first world problems.

These are not important problems.

These are not real problems.

And that perspective is both painful and beautiful.

May I not continue to live in forgetfulness.

Why doesn't Cambria have her award?  Because she forgot and left it at church. . . . it's not important. . . it's a little thing!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

happily (vs. busily) ever after

Oh let's settle down

little house, little town

start a family

we could be so happy

Oh and we'd have two

a little me and a little you

house filled up with laughter

we'd live happily ever after

Fm Radio, Happily Ever After

It is eleven thirty and I have been up since six-thirty-four.  I crawl into bed beside my man and exhale.

"I don't think I even went to the bathroom today." 

He finds this funny and I don't.

Somewhere in the middle of checking on my baby every twenty minutes and teaching and being patient and not being patient and peanut butter and all that life brings, he draws the short straw and gets what is left, the remainder, the exhausted me who keeps makeup remover wipes on my nightstand for when I'm too tired to go downstairs and wash my face.

I never intended for this to happen.

I learned to live half alive;  songwriter Christina Perri gives voice to the sentiments of almost everyone I know.  I am busy, you are busy, we are busy.  We live half alive.

When did happily ever after become busily ever after?

When did I start talking all day long?  And not to him?

Don't put pencil lead between your teeth.

It's okay that the birds are kissing each other

Pick up your room.

Look for your Awana Bag.

Blow your nose.

Yes I'll pick up Terro.  No, I don't know why we have ants.

And I spell words. To children.  While doing laundry, whispered aside during  phone calls, from the shower, while I'm upstairs and they're down.



T H E Y apostrophe R E




Spelling, spelling words, all day long.  Sometimes I want to tell them that misspelled words are ok.  I do tell them that.  They are little perfectionists like their daddy and they have to spell it right.

Maybe they'll be English teachers.

How do I only have $20 left in my grocery budget again?  What is wrong with my planning system?  How can these tiny little people eat this much food?

I pick up a book and read while I take care of my baby, and it grips me to the core as I see another grieving mother who lost herself in loss and forgot what really mattered and years later reaps the bitterness and pain.  She could be me.  I don't want her to be me.

"I don't hate you."

"I'm so sorry I failed you, Sarah.  I live with so  much regret.  Not watching Nate more closely, not getting to him before it was too late, losing all those years with you. . . I wish these pharmaceutical companies would make an anti-regret pill."

I take in this sincere wish and study my mother's face- the worry lines, which are really more like worry trenches, dug between her eyebrows an along her forehead, the sorrow in her eyes, regret etched in every feature.  Some future FDA-approved, prescription medication isn't the cure for her pain.  My mother doesn't need another pill in her pillbox.  She needs forgiveness.  My forgiveness.  And although I don't hate you and It wasn't your fault come as ready, honest offerings, I know they're only palliative at best.  "She's not ugly" isn't the same as "she's beautiful," and "he's not stupid" isn't the same as "he's smart."  My mother's cure for a lifetime of regret lies within the words I forgive you, spoken only by me.

Left Neglected, Lisa Genova, ch.25,pg.230

I don't want to live half alive.  Busyness and the lesser details of life can be a tunnel of its own kind, unlike grief and yet like it.  I don't want to look back later, having missed all of the moments that really mattered.  With my children.  With my husband.  With the people that God has placed in my life.

Underneath the makeup remover wipes and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? on my nightstand is another book that has my current attention:  Social Thinking At Work.  In this book, the authors quote Gary Smalley:  Life is relationships; the rest is just details.  If this is true, then so much of my time is spent on the things of lesser value.

I want to live happily ever after with this guy that I fell in love with long, long ago, so long ago,  when we cuddled on a loveseat and dreamed about the little farm we were going to live on with our little boys that would be sun-tanned and overall-clad.

I want to remember the expansive forgiveness of those years, the buoyant youthful hope and plans, before the grief, before the loss.

I remember buying him a card once, long ago. . . You hold the umbrella, babe, and I'll hold you. 

That was before I knew that sometimes he couldn't hold the umbrella and sometimes I wasn't strong enough to hold him. 

For so long I thought happy ever after would never be an option and we were doomed to survival and Kleenex boxes and weeping and dragging ourselves through the next day, week, month, year. 

Then grief fades and there stands Busyness, ready to move in and take her place as the great Love-stealer, Romance-squasher.
For now. . . for this day, this moment, I have this beautiful dream in my grasp, these beautiful children, this amazing man who loves me so much.  It's priorities and putting the capital letters where they belong, on people's names, not events and things.  It's letting some lists go and letting some expectations slide.  It's realizing we're living the ever after and it might not always be happy but we have each other.

I'm declaring war on you, Busyness, I'm declaring war on this great love-stealing scheme.

Let's grow old but not grow up

young at heart is young enough

let's do everything we promised

let's do everything we always wanted

It's a feeling you can't touch

to love someone this much

we'll look back with tears in our eyes

on the best years of our lives

Fm Radio, Happily Ever After

Monday, April 16, 2012

oh, pinterest.

Follow Me on Pinterest

So I am too lazy to type recipes up here anymore. . . I'm just pinning them all over on Pinterest. You can check them out on my "feeding the fam" board. 

But we are eating good over here.

The financial nerd (there is a little) in me wonders if Pinterest will put magazines under?

My favorite time-waster in the whole wide world right now.

Well, that and cuddling Eli.  But cuddling is never a waste of time.

And here's a great quote (from. . . yes. . . Pinterest) to mull over this week:

Friday, April 13, 2012

when your baby sits on the food court floor

So what do you do when your baby manages to slide out of his stroller and is smiling at people from the floor of the food court at the mall while you are ordering Chick-fil-a (unfortunately unaware of the drama unfolding behind you)?

Oh, no. . . that kind of stuff only happens to me.

I still can't figure out exactly what happened.  I must have forgotten to latch his seat belt. I choose to blame malfunctioning seat belt latches. (I should sue Jeep strollers.) All I do know is that two (kind) strangers were picking my baby up when I turned to peek at him mid-order.

Eli thought the whole thing was funny, because all he did was slide out and into a sitting position, with his swaddle still wrapped around him, happily smiling around at all of the Chick-fil-A customers. 

But I didn't think it was funny.  It was one of those moments when I wanted to shout "Hey, I'm actually a good mom, guys!  I take good care of my kids!  Really!  I don't let them watch TV and they have fresh ground wheat in their pancakes and I'm not a bad mom!"

So did you want the 4 piece or 6 piece chicken?

Right, I'm still mid order.  No time to defend myself.

Why do I need to defend myself?

Because women are their own worst critics.

If I had observed another stroller escaping child, my first thought would not have been grace. My first thought would not have been she's probably a good mom. No, it would have been an almost unconscious self righteous I would never let that happen to my baby.

All of the pressure that we pile on others, isn't that really just a cry to prove our own worth and value?  At the very root, a desire to defend myself?  A desire to be recognized for the often thankless job of caring for all of these little people? 

These words, these phone calls, these opinions, these facebook statements. . .

Oh, so you had a C-section. (*eyebrow raise*) 

Oh I'm cloth diapering.

My children are schooled at ____________________ (insert educational pressure point)

Weekly shopping and menu planning! (so organized). And we have a fresh green salad every night at dinner.

Bedtime is at seven-thirty over here!  (organized parents) Bedtime is at ten after tickle fights and reading! (fun parents)

Because we need (desperately) a method that works for us, often jumping on our whole wheat bandwagon is something that, while beneficial for our kids, is pushed upon other moms in an attempt to . . . what?  Get their kids to eat whole wheat?  Really?  Or is it deeper than that?

What if it's an attempt to prove that I'm a good mom because I'm intimidated by your amazing ability to balance your children and husband and life? And I look for something that you don't do so that I can feel better about my mommy-dom.

Ahh, whole wheat.  That's it.  Ya'll eat white bread over there, I knew there was some chink in your organized armor.

*commence monologue on the benefits of whole grains*

And we live this way when our strength could come from being honest about our own weaknesses and learning from the strengths of others.

I'm guilty.

I'm guilty of covering my own inadequacies up with finger pointing and tsk-ing.

I'm guilty of pleading for grace (I'm a good mom!) while passing judgement (and she's not a good mom!)

I'm guilty of masking my insecurities by pointing out yours.

But no mom has it all together.  No one is perfect.  No one mom ever wins the best mom award - - except from her own kids.

What if I took seriously some of these phrases from God's Word and applied them (in no particular order) to motherhood and other moms?

Love. . . does not seek its own.

Love. . .is kind.

Love. . .rejoices in the truth.

Jesus said. . . Come to Me, all you who are weary. . . and I will give you rest.

Serve one another. . .humbly. . . in love.

If you bite and devour one another, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Finding my security in the knowledge that I am a child of God takes away the competition, the proving, the desire to be esteemed and honored.

Finding my fulfillment in doing His will takes away the pressure to follow the frenzy of current good mommy trends.

And when I'm not trying to prove that I'm a good mom, my vision is clarified and I am given the freedom to see what a good mom you are.

Because you would never let your baby sit on the floor of the food court.

*     *     *

*I typed this with no makeup, wet hair, wearing a City Employee sweatshirt on Jacob's couch in his bedroom while telling Cambria piece by piece what to clean in her room. At 10:30 in the morning.  (just being real)

*Inspiration this week: Your Children Want YOU (read it!!)

*More inspiration:  Almond Joy Coffee Creamer.  (buy some!  I even let my kids pour it on their oatmeal)

Happy Friday. . . you're a good mom.

Monday, April 2, 2012

on choosing a cave

After my son visited a restroom solo last week and told me later:

Mom, I really wanted to buy some of those candies they had for sale in there. . . but I thought you wouldn't let me so I didn't. . .

. . .I told my husband that I would be heading to the mountains to look for a suitable cave to raise our babies in.

At one time in my life, I thought parents who chose the cave log cabin extreme sheltering version of parenting were making life hard for themselves and their children.

I don't believe that anymore.

It's easy to choose the cave. 

That's my natural impulse.  Shelter, hide, cover those little eyeballs, don't explain, let's not talk about it.

Easy is making my chicks stay with me at all times;  hard is letting them go tiny bit by tiny bit and then talking and disciplining and guiding through the mistakes that they inevitably make.

Easy is never leaving my house;  hard is taking them out into the cruel cruel outer spheres where I want to hide their eyes from the heartbreak of the world.

Easy is glossing over the tough stuff;  hard is knowing how much to explain to little minds who will quickly form worldviews from the lenses I choose to give them.

You've heard them; the endless views on greenhouse vs. let them go and sheltering vs. pushing out.  I don't have this figured out and I'm stumbling along and seeking the word of God for answers to my questions as I go.

So far all I know is that every choice is hard.

I wanna protect them from everything!

And then I have a yelling match (well, actually I just yell) with their daddy about where to spend Easter. 

Yeah, protection and shelter from sin coming right up here in our happy little home.

We talk this all out, me and my boy and my girl, serious little faces looking at me while I tell them that I was wrong to yell at Daddy and that we still love each other;  that sometimes moms and dads way disagree and there isn't a naptime anymore when we can work this out and sometimes they might hear us disagree. 

Easy:  gloss over and pretend it didn't happen.  Hard:  talk it out and confess my sin and hear them ask tough questions about the neighbor boy's mom and dad who don't live together anymore. I tell them what their daddy and I vowed to do and that we chose marriage and understood that to be a lifelong commitment.

The farther I go the more I think that choosing the cave doesn't prepare them for life.

Oh I need God's grace!

From today:

JD, following long discussion about laughing gas = nitrous:  So does that make you goofy for. . . your whole life?

Note written on white 8 x 11 copier paper, folded over into a card;  the front reads:

it's gonna be a blast to open it.

look inside for some fun

{and of course I open it}

I <3 U, I think you are a relly <-- (e) dodn't know)
good cook!
I cannot belive how good you are as a cook in the house.
Thanks for letting us go to the YMCA ymca YmCa ymca
waat a blast it is.
<3 JD

((P.S. It's true that your a good cook.)

Me:  Do you wanna tell me anything before bed, Jacob?
JD:  You know my soccer coach's girl?  We became friends, like, instantly.  Just by looking at each other.
Me: . . . . What is her name?
JD:  I have no idea.

Oh my Jacob Daniel!  Waat a blast he is!  ;)

 Phone Photo Dump :