Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Laundry Tale

Once upon a time, there was a nice little family and they lived in a nice little yellow house.  What was not nice was the laundry.  The woman of the house did not like to do the laundry.  She had to go down the rickety wooden stairs into the cold basement in order to wash the clothes.  She thought she would rather stay upstairs where it was warm, and do the washing and drying another day.  Every day she thought this, "I will do it tomorrow."  Oh, certainly, she would occasionally go down and wash a load when they really needed clothes, but most other times she would put it off.  Now what the woman did not realize, or perhaps didn't want to realize, was that the laundry pile was growing.  It was growing and growing, almost like a living thing. 

Eventually, her husband came to notice this growing beast within his basement.  And the man said to his wife, "Let us take all of the clothes to the laundrymat and get them all done at once."  And his wife agreed.  They sent their oldest son to his grandparents, and would have sent the younger two as well, but circumstances were against them doing so, and so they took them along.

Though the laundrymat was large and the machines were many, it still took much time to load them all up, and wash and dry it all.  From the time they began gathering the clothes to take to the laundrymat, to the time that everything was dried or drying, it was three and a half hours.  At first the children were happy and played and frolicked among the laundry carts, but as time passed, they grew tired and hungry and they no longer wanted to be at this strange place filled with loud machines and people and clothing.  Finally, the man said to his wife, "I will take you and the children home, and I will come back for the rest of the clothes."  And the woman agreed, for she was very tired. 

So they took the children home and put them in their beds, and the woman stayed behind while the man went back to get the rest of the clothes that had not yet dried.  The woman thought she might sigh with relief, but alas, it was not over yet!  There was still the folding and putting away.  And she knew she would not be able to get the folding all done tonight, nay, not even half of it, without staying up to the wee hours.  She wished with all her might that a fairy would come and do all the folding and putting away for her so she would not have to do it the next day.  And behold! nothing happened, because fairies are not real, and in real life you must do all the work yourself and without magic.

And the moral of the story is, you can only put off unpleasant things for so long before you must face them, and when you finally do, they will inevitably be far more unpleasant than they would have been originally.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's a Disease

Lately Israel has really been difficult.  He is growing up, but as is the case with most toddlers, he is not doing it very gracefully.  In his newfound desire for independance, he throws the most spectacular tantrums when anyone tries to help him do anything, from putting on his pants to opening a candy wrapper.  He has just started doing this in the last few days.

I began to notice a few other things about him, like excitability and aggression (mostly toward his brother, but he did bite me the other day), sudden mood changes (it's amazing how fast a toddler can go from smiling to screaming), excessive drooling (I don't even know what that's about), eating substances not normally eaten (why must everything go in their mouths?), and delirium (he keeps talking about seeing a green kitty in his bed). 

While most would chalk this up to "being a toddler", as so many children act this way when they are that age, there is one other explanation, a disease which has all of those symptoms.  The answer is quite simple.

They all have rabies.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Quite a Shock

Today we had a bit of an adventure, if you could call it that.  I took the boys to McDonald's for lunch so they could expend some energy at the playplace.  The play area was really packed, and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to find a place to sit at first.  Some other people had left by the time I ordered the food, though, so we were soon settled.

Everything was going really well.  The boys ate their food, and were playing happily.  Simeon was gleefully gumming french fries, and I was looking at a cooking magazine that I got in the mail earlier.  Before long, there was a little boy that came crying to his mom at the table next to us.  I was desperately hoping that one of my children hadn't hit him.  While anxiously waiting to see if he would point to one of my boys as the "hitter", another boy came down to the same table where his mom was also sitting.  He started telling her about someone saying they were going to get blood on him, which was weird, and I again hoped that it wasn't one of my kids.  I was pondering these mysteries and trying to imagine that some kid had picked a scab or something (some kid other than mine, I should say), when at least one of my questions was abruptly answered.

Malachi came out from the play place and began walking over to me.  His nose was bleeding.  It was really bleeding.  He had blood all over his mouth and chin and hands and dripping on his shirt.  It was singularly the most shocking thing I have ever seen.  I had not at all expected to see this, my child covered in blood.

I quickly brought him to our table and sat him down.  I asked him if what happened, if someone hit him.  He said, no, it was just "a dry nose like you get" (I do often get nosebleeds in this dry climate).  I had him hold a napkin to his nose while I got the wipes out and started cleaning his hands and arms which were all smudged.  I can't really say what was going on in the rest of the playplace.  I don't know if people were freaked out or concerned or oblivious.  My mind was a blank, and I only saw Malachi.  I do know that the table next to us, the one with the little boys I mentioned earlier seemed concerned, in a nice way, and one of them told the McDonald's people, who gave me a stack of napkins and temporarily closed the tubes and slides to make sure they were clean.  I am just glad they didn't kick us out or something.  That would have been really humiliating.

Soon Chi was all cleaned up, and I had him sit at the table for a little while to make sure he was okay and his nose had fully stopped bleeding.  I was worried because he has never really had a nosebleed before, but he seemed fine and he played with his happy meal toy and acted completely normal.  Eventually I let him get up, and he went and raced his toy against the other kids' toys.  He was fine.  I was not.  I think I was slightly in shock.  I didn't cry, but I felt dangerously close to doing so.  It occured to me that other people probably would have left immediately after such an incident, but I honestly didn't feel I had strength emotionally to gather all my children and our stuff and get them out to the van at that time.  Even though he was okay, the sight of all that blood was frightening.

So that was my day.  Everything else that happened today sort of pales in comparison to that one incident.  I'm telling you, it's enough to make a person never want to leave the house.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What Do You Expect

Today was another MOPS day for me, and I'm really finding them to be very refreshing.  With each meeting I feel more comfortable, and because of that, I am enjoying it more and more.  The woman who spoke to us today talked about being in love with Jesus, how that's the best thing we can do for our kids.  When I look back at my childhood and at my mother, I know this to be true.  My mother wasn't perfect, but she did love Jesus, and she showed me that He is real.  Ultimately, I want that for my children, for them to know that He is real.  The speaker also said that it's not our job to be perfect, or even to try to create perfection.  She mentioned how we often try to do things that God hasn't even asked us to do, and we wear ourselves out. 

That really resonated with me, because I often expect so much of myself, and they aren't always realistic expectations.  I try to be what my idea of perfect is, or what I think Aaron's idea of perfect is, or I look at other women, other moms, and compare myself and feel like I don't meet that standard that they seem to set.  Then I feel like I've failed.  And feeling like a failure never really changes or helps the situation. 

The thing is, I'm trying to be in control, and I'm not meant to be.  God is meant to be in control of my life, and He made me to be me, not anyone else.  I don't mean that to be an excuse for shortcomings and faults that can be changed, but rather to say that God has made me for a specific purpose and when I try to be something else, it doesn't work.  If a vacuum cleaner tries to be a water hose, it's going to fail quite miserably, and no one would be surprised by that.  It is the same with people.  The difference is that people don't always know themselves, and they don't always know their purpose, and to compound the problem, some people don't know God either.  Who else can tell you what you were made to be, other than the Maker? 

I realized again today that what matters most is that I look to Him, and ask Him what He wants from me.  And maybe what matters isn't even asking Him.  Maybe just looking to Him is all I need to do.  If my eyes are on Christ, and not on myself, I just might be able to get out of my own way and actually be what He's made me to be.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Before and After

Before I was a mom, I thought getting up at 7:30 am was early.  Now I think it's sleeping in.

Before I was mom, I could choose when I wanted to do things.  Now I change dirty diapers five minutes after waking up, whether or not I am fully awake or remotely ready for it.

Before I was a mom, I had my own mom to do my laundry.  Now, if I don't do the laundry, it doesn't get done.  It just piles up in our basement.  If it starts to creeps up the stairs, that's when I know things are getting desperate.

Before I was a mom, I could read a book for hours, and sometimes finish a book in one day.  Now I consider it a good day if I have a chance to read an entire paragraph in one sitting.

Before I was mom, I went to sleepovers and stayed up til dawn, got only three hours of sleep and thought it was fun.  Now if I go to bed past midnight I know my kids will still be up at 6:30 and I will be grumpy and no one will have fun.

Before I was a mom, I didn't really have to think about anyone except myself.  Now, at all times I have four other people (including my husband) to think about besides me.  And that's a good thing. 

Before I was a mom, I thought my mom was wrong.  Now I know she's right.

Before I was a mom, I hated that Aaron had to go to work because seeing him just those few hours each evening just didn't seem like enough.  Now I am thankful for one evening completely alone with him once in a while.  I have learned that quality is better than quantity.

Before I was a mom, I liked getting presents (okay, I still do), but now I realize that the most precious gifts I will ever receive are the little ones that I get to hold in my arms, that ask me to kiss their owies, and that I tuck in at night.

And before I was a mom, I would have never written anything so sappy.  But now I do.  (With all the testosterone in my house, somebody's got to be sappy.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blog Post

"I would even call to say I'm not calling."

That's about how I feel right now.  I can't quite think of a good blog, so I feel like I'm writing this to say I'm not writing.

It's a line from the movie Dan in Real Life, by the way.  I would have to say that it's becoming one of my favorite movies, because I enjoy it more every time I watch it.  It's one of those movies that whenever it's on, I just can't stop watching, even if I just saw it not that long ago.

I have to wonder what it is that I like so much about it.  It's funny, for one thing.  Steve Carrell is playing a widower with three daughters, one of whom is very melodramatic.  I think it's hilarous when she calls him a "murderer of love" for making her boyfriend go back home after sneaking to see her while they are at a family reunion.

I also like the picture of family that is portrayed.  Family is awkward, and often dysfunctional, but it can also be fun.  I really enjoy watching the parts when the whole family is having a crossword puzzle race, and when they have the talent show together.  I like seeing the comraderie between them, probably because that what I hope to see among my children someday.  I hope we can do those kind of things. 

Another part I like is at the very end, when Dan (a newspaper columnist) writes to his readers that they should "plan to be surprised", which I think is very good advice.  Life doesn't always go they way we expect it to, but that isn't a bad thing necessarily.  Sometimes what we get is better than what we thought we wanted.

If you haven't seen it, go see it!  If you have seen it, go see it again!  If you saw it and you didn't think it was that great because you were thinking Steve Carrell would be playing a character like Michael of The Office, give it another shot.  I guarantee, it will be better the second time around.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Day in Estes Park

Yesterday we took our friend Chris up to Estes Park for the day.  It's a great place for visitors, because they can see all the beautiful mountain scenery on the drive up, and then they can enjoy the town itself.

On the way up, we of course had to stop at the infamous Dam Store, where Chris was able to try on some Dam hats and buy a Dam t-shirt, and I got Aaron a Dam ring to replace the one he lost.  It's the best Dam store I've ever been to!

There was much slow driving and stopping along the way, partly because it was snowing like mad, and partly because we had to take lots of pictures, which of course never do the mountains any justice, but you always have to try because it is just so gorgeous. A friend of mine said that when she used to go to Estes Park as a kid her family would slow down and point out the windows toward the mountains then watch and laugh as people behind them got out of their cars with cameras looking for wildlife that wasn't really there.  I got a kick out of that!

Once we finally got up there Aaron and Chris took a western photo which turned out pretty great.  Instead of the typical cowboy hats and such, they wore bowler hats.  I love doing those old fashioned looking pictures.  This is reflected in the fact that the only "professional" photos we've ever had taken of our family were western photos.  It's a tradition to go when we have a new baby who is seven months old.  What will happen we we stop having babies?  Well, that will never happen!  Just kidding.  I suppose we'll just go every other year or something. 

After the western photo we took Chris to one of our favorite places, Snowy Peaks Winery, where you can taste five different wines for only three dollars.  They have their own winepress in the basement, and all of their other wines are from Colorado as well.  They also have this great wine flavored popcorn, which sounds disgusting, but is actually really good.  And they have a play area for kids with toys and such to keep them busy. 

It was getting late, and the snow was really coming down, so we opted to get off the mountain and eat at Cracker Barrell in Loveland.  Normally though, we might have gone to Bob and Tony's which is a great little pizza place up there on the main drag.

It was really fun day, and maybe if you are reading it will have given you a few ideas of things to do in Estes if you haven't done them already.  If not, well, I hope you at least enjoyed catching a glimpse of what a day is like with us when we go to Estes. 

American Idol

What is there to say about American Idol?

I have been watching for the last two years, and I have to say, I love it. David Cook was my favorite, but Kris Allen wasn't bad.  And although I didn't watch his season and he wasn't the winner, I love Chris Daughtry.

This year is an all new crop of singers, of whom I have no favorites yet.  So far, the highlight was the "Pants on the Ground" guy.  Unfortunately, he was too old, so he didn't make it through.

I am convinced that eventually I will know someone on the show. So far, it hasn't happened.

That's about all I can really say at this point, but I will post more blogs about it as the show continues and the singers start showing us what they've really got.  In my experience, it's usually someone that you don't pay attention to in the beginning who will really pull through and shine by the end.  We'll see if it goes that way this time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Look

What does being "in the world, but not of the world" really mean?  It can mean that, as Christians, we live here, on planet Earth ("the world"), but are not of it because we now belong to heaven.  That's one explanation.  For a lot of people, it means that even though we live here in the world we should shun anything that the world produces because if it isn't labelled as being "Christian" it's probably evil.  Right?  Makes sense?  I think not.  I think that that mindset can heavily influence a person to become "so heavenly minded they're no earthly good."  I think it's sad that this world, which God created has become divided into "Christian" and "secular".  And I don't just mean people, the saved and the unsaved.  Movies, music, books, clothing, activities, have all been divided into these categories. 

Believe it or not, I have seen some movies that were not "Christian" films, and they have pointed me to Christ in a more powerful way than some of those "Christian" movies ever could.  I have heard so-called secular music that more passion and power in it than many of the wishy-washy Christian songs out there.  I have read books, books that have even been shunned by the Christian community, books that are stuffed full with images of Christ and the Gospel and have amazing depth.  I've also read Christian books that were undeniably shallow and almost pointless in comparison. 

Yes, there is evil out there.  Granted, there are movies that are full of sin and have little or no redeeming value.  And there is music that is not worth listening to.  And there are books that do, in fact, go against Christ and everything that we believe.  But not all of them.

At Christ for the Nations, the Bible College where Aaron and I met, one of the teachers came out one day and walked up to a piano.  He played a single note, a "C", and he said, "That is a 'C'.  It's isn't Christian or secular.  It's just a 'C'."  That has always stuck with me.  In this life and in this world, I don't think that we should be living by labels.  God is everywhere.  He is not restricted to our divisions of things.  You can't put Him in a box.

What do I think it means to be "in the world but not of the world"?  I think it means that we recognize that there is a bigger picture, a hidden undercurrent that we can't see to everything that we can.  I think it means that we are always playing a game of "where's Jesus?"  We are always looking for Him everywhere and in everything.  After all, when Jesus was here in the flesh, He wasn't hanging out at the synagogue all the time.  His disciples weren't made up of priests and Pharisees.  Ususally, He was found with sinners.

So, I encourage you to look for Him in unlikely places.  You never know where He might turn up.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

An Effort

One of the hardest things about writing a blog every day (which I have not completely done, I am sad to say) is finding something to write about, something other people might actually care to read.  A lot of what's on my mind right now is not really interesting to anyone but me, I don't think.  And then of course if it is interesting, it's also hard to explain, and I'm tired and I don't know if I really want to go into all that.  Here are the things I've been thinking about:

Alchemy and symbolism in literature
Marriage
How the story of Thumbelina is symbolic of Christ and the Church, the "Great Romance"
Birth control or the lack thereof
The book I'm trying to write
American Idol
Harry Potter
Old friends

There you go.  I've been exceptionally exhausted today, so my brain is refusing to do any more than list the above subjects.  I realize that this particular post is a bit lacking, but dang it, I thought I'd at least make an effort. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

According to Izzy

Part of what is really fun about being a mom is hearing all the funny things little kids say.  My best friend from high school was the oldest of seven children, and I always loved when she would tell me what her little brothers would say.  It's one of the things I was really looking forward to about having children.  Malachi, unfortunately, is making more and more sense all the time, but Izzy is still very much in that stage where his sayings are usually good for a laugh.  So here are a few he's said recently; the world, according to Izzy.

On why the broom is in the guest room:
"We were jumping!  And I was brooming!"

On whether he needed a diaper change:
"No, I don't need a diaper change.  It's not grumpy.  It's not grumpy or fuzzy." (And no, these are not euphemisms we normally use for a dirty diaper.)

While holding a Spiderman mask, he looked into it and said:
"Spiderman!  Are you okay in there?"

There are probably more that have happened recently, but another part of being a mom is forgetting things, and I'm sorry to say that it includes forgetting the cute sayings of your kids.  I am confident though, that there will be many more to come from Izzy, and the best part, for me, anyway, is knowing that even when he stops, I still have Simeon to look forward to (and any others we may have in the future).

February Holidays

Just in case you didn't know...

February is Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month.  It is also...

Bake for Family Fun Month
Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month
Library Lovers Month
National Care About Your Indoor Air Month
Pull Your Sofa Off the Wall Month
Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month
and...
Spunky Old Broads Month

Also, you may not have realized, but every day in February is a holiday.

Feb 1 is G.I. Joe Day, Give Kids A Smile Day, Hula in the Coola, and Working Naked Day.

Feb 2 is of course, Groundhog Day, but also Hedgehog Day, Sled Dog Day, and African American Coaches Day

Feb 3 -- Four Chaplains Memorial Day

Feb 4 -- Quacker Day, World Cancer Day, and USO Day

Feb 5 -- Weatherman's Day, Wear Red Day, and Bubblegum Day

Feb 6 -- Dump Your Significant Jerk Day

Feb 7 -- Ballet Day, Man Day (ironic that it would fall on the same date as Ballet Day), and Wave All Your Fingers at Your Neighbors Day

Feb 8 -- Laugh and Get Rich Day

Feb 9 -- Read in the Bathtub Day

Feb 10 -- Plimsoll Day (?)

Feb 11 -- Pro Sports Wives Day, National Shut-In Visitation Day, and Satisfied Staying Single Day

Feb 12 -- Safety Pup Day

Feb 13 -- Madly in Love With Me Day, and Get a Different Name Day

Feb 14 -- Valentines Day, Ferris Wheel Day, National Have a Heart Day, National Call In Single Day, and Quirky Alone Day

Feb 15 -- National Gum Drop Day

Feb 16 -- International Pancake Day

Feb 17 -- My Way Day, World Human Spirit Day

Feb 18 -- Battery Day, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

Feb 19 -- Chocolate Mint Day

Feb 20 -- Love Your Pet Day, Northern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day, Clam Chowder Day

Feb 21 -- International Mother Language Day

Feb 22 -- Single-Tasking Day, World Thinking Day

Feb 23 -- Curling is Cool Day

Feb 24 -- Inconvenience Yourself Day

Feb 25 -- National Chili Day

Feb 26 -- For Pete's Sake Day

Feb 27 -- Open That Bottle Night

Feb 28 -- Floral Design Day, International Sword Swallower's Day

Feb 29 (when there is one) is, of course, Leap Year Day


For more strange and otherwise unknown holidays in this month and more, visit http://www.brownielocks.com/

Monday, February 15, 2010

To Lose a Child

I recently finished reading a book called Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, a memoir of his childhood in Ireland.  In the beginning half of the book, three of his siblings die, one at only seven weeks old, and the other two, twins, when they are just a couple years older.  When the baby dies, his mother is so grief-stricken she can barely even get out of her bed.



I have never had a child die, or even had a miscarriage, and for this I am very thankful.    I don't think there could be anything worse than losing a little child like that.  When I think of it, I am sure that it would feel like part of my heart being ripped out and a great big gaping hole left in my chest.



The subject strikes a very personal chord for me, because before I was born, my mother had twin girls.  They were born at six months, and with the technology of today they might have made it.  But they didn't.  One lived for two days, the other for fourteen.  I can't imagine the pain my mom must have gone through, losing not just one, but two babies.

Sometime after they died, she went to a prayer meeting and a woman told her that the Lord was going to give her the desires of her heart.  At the time she didn't know what that meant, but later, when she had me, knew knew that I was it.  God gave me to her to heal her heart after she lost her other little girls.

I think about it sometimes and I wonder.  I wonder why children die...but I also wonder why I lived.  I don't mean it in a depressed way.  I just mean that I wonder why God chose me to live.  Why did He take the twins, but not me?  It makes me realize that there must be a reason.  He wanted me here.  I may not always be certain why, I don't exactly know my purpose at times, but He is certain. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Rose

A Rose; red, soft, smooth
Made so by the rain of love.
It glows, radiating with joy.
Never has beauty such as this been equalled;
Love has magnified the rose's elegance.
Indeed, some say love caused it.

Another rose, perhaps the same,
Withered, dry, in the sun,
It's petals falling one by one.
The waters of love are gone
Replaced by empty pain.
And the rose, once beautiful, is dying.

Will the rose yet live?
Will the love and rain return?
Or shall the rose come to it's end,
Never again to love, never again to live,
Only lying wilted in the sun,
Dying slowly, mourning its lost beauty.

Love may come,
But none know when,
And none know how;
Perhaps in the rain,
Perhaps in the sun.
Only the Maker can know the rose's future.

This is a poem I wrote in August of 1999, when I was 15 years old.

Valentine's Day

I think it's funny how Valentines Day is so controversial.  Some people love to celebrate it, some people absolutely hate it.  Some people hate it because they think it's just some commercial holiday that the greeting card industry invented.  And guys hate it because they resent being told when to do something romantic for their wives or girlfriends.  Some women hate it because they think it's stupid, other women hate it because they never actually have a Valentine (that was me, until I met Aaron). 

I personally think Valentines Day is great.  I'm not psycho about having to celebrate it, but I like it.  If Aaron doesn't get me a card or flowers or chocolate, I really don't care too much.  I know he'll take me on some kind of date because with three kids, let's face it, any excuse to go on a date will do, right?  Which is really how I look at the whole thing.  Who cares if it's just a commercial holiday?  Who cares if you're being told to do something romantic?  Just do it! 

It's kind of like Christmas.  At Christmastime, some people (my husband included) will be annoyed that they now have to buy gifts for however many people and spend all that money.  But other people--that would be me--feel that it's a great excuse to buy people gifts.  I love gifts.  I love getting them and I love giving them.  Since I'm married to a saver, what other time of year could I possibly convince him it's a good idea to buy gifts for all our family and friends?

So, I said all of that to say this: what better day to show someone you love them than on Valentines Day, a day specifically dedicated to such actions?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Of Fairy Tales and Such...

I have been thinking about fairy tales.  This is in part because I recently read a book that sort of twisted a bunch of different fairy tales into one really messed up fairy tale, and partly because I got the movie Thumbelina for the boys (yes, for the boys, and Malachi loves it, which he will not want to admit to someday, I'm sure) and we've been watching it a lot.



Most fairy tales aren't very realistic.  They're not really supposed to be.  There's talking wolves, and talking pigs, poisoned apples that cause the person who eats them to fall asleep, and houses made of gingerbread, among other things.  However, there is always something to learn from them. 

Beauty and the Beast is one of those.  Though the story is fantastical, there are elements of truth in it.  Beauty falls in love with Beast.  In most other fairy tales the two lovers meet, fall in love almost immediately, kiss (or kiss before they meet each other in the case of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty), get married, and live happily ever after.  But that's not the case in this tale.  Instead, Beauty and Beast meet, she initially hates him and thinks he's ugly, and then gradually, as she knows him better and better, she falls in love with him anyway.  From that point it is similar to the other stories, but what is different is that she falls in love not with any outward beauty, but with his true self, who he is on the inside.  When she finally confesses her love and accepts him, he magically turns into a handsome prince. 

What I like about that is it's fairly accurate to real life and real love.  Initially, we pay attention to the outside, but looks only last so long.  What's inside is what counts.  And when you love someone you don't see them as being ugly.  Instead, you begin to see them through the lense of who they really are.  You see them inside out.  For you, no matter how they really look, they have magically become the handsome prince.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Return to MOPS

Today was my second day at MOPS.  Well, technically, it was my third because I also went to a MOPS at another church last week (I'm "MOPS hopping"), but it was my second time at Rez.  Overall, I'd say it went really well.  It wasn't quite as daunting as it was the last time because I had been there before and was more familiar with everything.  The ladies weren't quite as intimidating or as perfect looking as they had seemed last time, and I felt a bit more comfortable making conversation.  Although, the woman I was talking to didn't seem like she was quite all there.  I asked her perfectly normal questions like, "How many kids do you have?" and "How old are they?" but she had this expression on her face that can only be described as a mixture of "I have no idea what you are saying" and "I have no idea why you are saying it."  It was slightly disconcerting.  Nevertheless, the overall experience was a good one, and I definitely want to go again.

It's really nice to be around other moms and hear that they are in the same place as me (with the exception, perhaps, of the lady sitting next to me).  One of the mentor moms spoke, and that was also really good.  One thing she said that really stood out to me was "Don't strive for perfection, strive for excellence."  I think that was very wise.  No one is perfect, but we can do our best, we can strive for excellence. 

A lot of that has to do with attitude.  I have noticed that my attitude largely affects my day and how I feel about my kids and what's going on in the house.  Sometimes when I have a really bad day, it's not so much that the kids are acting worse than they normally do, but that I am in a bad mood for whatever reason.  And as a woman, those inexplicable bad moods tend to creep up without warning all the time.  The key, I think, is looking to God, asking Him for the grace to get through the day and to change the bad attitude (this might include playing the "glad game" which isn't very fun when you're in a bad mood because you simply don't feel like being glad about anything). 

A verse that is increasingly becoming a favorite for me is this, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."  (James 1:5)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Mother I Am

Someone once asked me what it's like to be a mother.  Well, I don't know what's it's like for other moms, but I can tell you what it's like for me.  For me, motherhood is full of contradictions. 

On one hand, I love being a mom.  I love seeing their sweet little faces smiling at me.  I feel priveledged that I get to see them grow from a tiny infant and into a man someday and all the stages in between.  I feel so blessed that God has allowed me to have them and love them and care for them.

On the other hand, I hate being a mom.  I hate cleaning up messes and getting up early.  I hate that I have to make them food and then they don't eat it and it ends up on the floor.  I hate diapers and potty training.  I hate that I can't watch very many movies because I just don't have time.  I hate that it's so hard to spend time with Aaron.

Some days I have so much patience and understanding and I feel like I'm doing really good. "Today, I am being a good mom."

Other days, I'm tired and grumpy and sick of their whining, and I'm not doing so great.  And part of me just doesn't care on those days, and I get by with the minimum required of me.  "Today, I am a bad mom."

And there are so many days in between the really good and the bad. 

What is it like being a mom?

It's hard.  It's wonderful, frustrating, and fulfilling.  It's not at all gratifying.  It's a calling and a blessing.  It's a curse for all the times I was horrible to my parents (or maybe they get all that from Aaron, surely I never gave my parents a hard time?).  It's the best thing in the world.  It's depressing.  It's tiring.  It's fun, scary, and beautiful.  It's challenging, but challenging can be good.  All of these are true at different moments.

I'm not super mom.  I try to do my best, and sometimes I even fail at that.  Sometimes I'm just squeaking by.  Sometimes squeaking by IS my best! 

But I am learning as I go.  I'm learning to pray for one thing!  I find myself asking God to help me a lot.  "There's got to be a better way," I have prayed many times.  And God is faithful.  He's helped me.  He's given me the wisdom I needed.  And He's put people in my life who have wisdom and experience and advice.

Being a mom is not always easy, but it's what I am called to do.  "Where God guides, He provides," one of the guest speakers at Christ for the Nations used to say.  And I know it to be true.  God gave me these children, so He must believe that I am capable of raising them well.  But I'm definitely going to need that guidance, and providance...which is probably the whole point.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Black, White & Gray

To a child everything is black and white.  The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and there is no in-between.  The reality, however, is much more complicated.  I realized this over the last few days as we've been watching movies like Spiderman and The Princess Bride.  Malachi always wanted to know, "Is he bad?"  For the sake of watching the movie, it was easiest to tell him yes.  But sometimes the bad guys do something good, like Doctor Octopus at the end of Spiderman 2, when he sacrifices his dreams and his life to destroy the evil machine he had created.  Or in The Princess Bride -- Inigo and Fezzik begin as "bad guys", kidnapping the princess in order to help start a war, but in the end they rescue her true love from death, and thus rescue her as well.  Meanwhile, the good guys are not always so good.  Prince Humperdink, who ought to be the good guy, ends up being the ultimate bad guy by the end of the movie (that would also be The Princess Bride for anyone who isn't familiar with it).  And Spiderman lets anger and revenge become his focal points for a time in the third movie, causing him to do things that are not "good".  Then of course, you have his best friend Harry who sort of goes back and forth being being a "good guy" and being a "bad guy".  It all gets very gray, doesn't it?  

As adults, we know there are reasons people do the things they do.  Sure, some people are greedy or selfish.  But others are acting out of hurt.  Someone hurt them, and now they are hurting other people.  And then, to top it off, Christ asks us to love them all -- the good, the bad...and the ugly.  And He tells us "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10), which means that in God's eyes, we are basically all bad guys.  Not one of us is good.  Not without Christ, who is really the ONLY good guy.  And He is the only Hero who can save us all.  Try explaining that to a four year old!  

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Impressions and Breakfast

This morning Aaron and the two older boys went to a homeless breakfast and cooked bacon for them.  I didn't go.  I never go because I usually feel like I'm wandering around trying to take care of my kids rather than doing anything really useful.  If I was talking to Aaron about this, he would now be giving me a speech about how I should just not worry about the kids and how I am useful just by being there, etc., etc., etc.  Well, he's probably right, but I still don't want to go.  I'd rather be at home and take a nap.  This is not a politically correct feeling.  It's not even very Christian when you come right down to it.  But it is an honest feeling and that's about all I can muster up right now.  I don't mind that Aaron goes.  Now, there was a time that he went and it resulted in a homeless couple living in our basement for three weeks, which was quite an adventure.  But mostly, I'm glad he does it, apart from the fact that he returns smelling like breakfast foods for the rest of the day. 

Aaron has a gift for being able to talk to people.  Mostly he just manages to think of really good and/or strange questions to ask people that gets them talking, and then he listens really well, which is all most people really want.  I don't share that gift.  I can listen fairly well, especially because I am shy of saying a lot to people I don't know.  But I can never think of questions to ask.  Not good ones.  I can think of the obvious ones, but not interesting ones that make people just light up.  I'm more of an observer and interpreter.  I listen and watch and try to translate what I see into an overall impression.  This leads to odd conversations with Aaron where I say something like, "I got the feeling that.....blah blah blah."  And he will ask,"Why do you say that?"  And then I have to somehow convey the feeling that I had from a person when they said whatever they said.  This also happened once with a friend in high school.  She wanted to date this guy, but I knew that she shouldn't.  When she asked why, I couldn't tell her exactly because it was a general impression I had of him.  I couldn't say, "Oh, well, he killed a man," or anything like that.  So, she went out with him.  And then she figured out why I told her not to.  Needless to say, they are not still together.

Honestly, I am not sure what the point of this blog has been.  I really didn't know what to write when I sat down here, and all of that is just what came to mind.  So, I guess you've just had a window into the world of Tammy. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Flip Side of Letting Go

As an update to my last blog post, I have to say that putting Simeon in his own room had at least one particularly good effect.  For the first time, he slept completely through the night.  He has slept a few long stretches before, but nothing like last night.  I put him to bed at 8:30, and he didn't wake up until 7:30 this morning.  It was awesome!  I felt like I had seen a light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel.  Usually he wakes up several times in the night, and occasionally he will wake up in the middle of the night and not want to go back to sleep.  Very frustrating.
I think Simeon is glad to be in his own room too.  This morning when I went in to get him, he was sitting up in the crib and smiling, so happy.  And it seems like today he had an extra skip in his step (metaphorically speaking, of course--he can't actually walk yet).  I think it just gives more proof of why it's important to take those steps of letting go.  It seems really hard, but once you do it, there are unforeseen benefits for you, and your kids are also happier.  This is a lesson I am sure I will be relearning MANY times over the next, oh, twenty years or so.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Letting Go

Tonight Simeon is sleeping in a separate room for the first time.  Even though I know that this day had to come eventually (I mean, who ever heard of a sixteen year old boy sleeping in his parents' bed, right?), it still seems like a big deal.  I have to admit, it will be nice not having to sneak into my bedroom to go to sleep every night, hoping I won't wake him up. But my mommy heart doesn’t want to let him go quite yet. It’s just one more step toward him being a big boy and not my sweet little baby anymore. I love that little guy so much. I wish he could stay this age. He will be a year old soon, and it has gone by way too fast. I feel like he ought to only be six months old. Why do they have to grow up? Why does it happen so quickly? 

At the same time though, I so look forward to him growing up. I can’t wait to see what he looks like as he gets older and has more distinct features. I can’t wait to see his personality become more defined. I don’t look forward to the toddler years, with the willfulness (which all my boys seem to have inherited from someone--who could that be?) and the temper tantrums. But I do look forward to hearing the funny things he will say, and watching him toddle around looking like a drunken sailor. I look forward to him seeing new things for the first time and recognizing how amazing they are, like fish and mountains and trains. I am curious to see what his relationship will be with his brothers, and I look forward to seeing them all playing together.

This is one of those moments of letting go. It’s a very small letting go, but it’s important because it will help lay the groundwork for bigger things. Simeon has to grow up. True, he has a lot of time to do that, but eventually, he has to become a man. And I will have to let go of him. Right now he is just in the next room, but someday he will be in someone else’s house. He’ll be at school. He’ll make his own friends, have his own life. He might live in another city or another state.  And that’s okay, it's good, even necessary. I have to recognize that I can’t be with him all the time. I can’t protect him all the time. And I will have to know that GOD is with my son, that He will be with him always, that He will protect him and care for him better than I ever could. After all, I am only a temporary keeper. Simeon doesn’t belong to me, he belongs to God. God has given him to me for a time, but all too soon, it will be time for me to give him back.

This is what’s hard about being a mom. Letting go.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Short Story

So, I'm writing this to say that I am not going to write a blog today because I wrote a short story instead and since I wrote the entire thing today, I am all "written out"

If you want to read the short story, you can click on the link to "Not Quite Austen" on the side of this blog.

Monday, February 1, 2010

An Izzy Day

For part of today Malachi was gone and I just had Izzy and Simeon.  Today, Izzy was full of funny little things.  I found him in the kitchen with one of Daddy's socks and a screwdriver. "This is broken," he told me, "I gotta fix it."  He was trying to put the screwdriver through a hole in the sock.  "Well, honey, you can't fix socks with screwdrivers."  Never thought I would have a reason to say that.  And of course, his response was, "Why?"

Later, we were watching Stuart Little, but Izzy had wandered from it.  I made him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and he told me, "I don't want to watch 'Stupid Liggle', Mom."

For dinner we went to Aaron's parents house, and my mother-in-law had honey sticks.  The boys thought they were just the best thing ever.  Izzy kept asking if he could have more "plastics".  We kept trying to figure out what that meant and finally realized he was talking about the honey sticks.

And tonight while I was in the bathroom with him, helping him brush his teeth, he was standing on the edge of the tub talking to me and said, "When Daddy gives me a bath, he does."  He paused.  "And when drinks come out, they do."  He was actually talking about the bottles of bodywash and the soap coming out...I think.
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