Saturday, July 23, 2011

Getting my vineyards back.

This day BEGS to be blogged about (I actually did already but it came out all wrong so I'm so glad Jesus stopped me from publishing it). But just what I was going to say I didn't know till everyone went to bed, the house quieted down, I was on my own again...and hubby is off somewhere again. Could it be that I'm starting to think better on my own? Not on-my-own like without him, because he and I are one. To separate now is impossible. To function correctly without the other is a non-issue. But me. I'm ahead of myself...

I spent much of today being sad...and hurt...and angry...and downright pitiful. To the outside? Oh sure, I'm fine, to the in-laws and kids and parents, no sweat. But I know, with hubby, I was trying to find that passive-aggressive delicate balance between "fine" and "underlying struggle," hoping he'd see it and really beg me to tell him what was wrong. Silly girl. Does he ever do that??

I've been feeling like he's been completely gone for the last two weeks, except that every once in a while I get to look at a picture of him, and talk to it, and it even talks back to me. But I don't feel like I've been with my husband in far-too-long.

And I should take every moment and enjoy it, right? Sure, that's what a Wise Woman would do. Clearly, I require more work in that area. Because I, silly girl, spent hubby's first vacation day off lamenting what we weren't getting done, what we weren't going to do, the moments he didn't ask me what was wrong, or how I've been feeling, or tell me how much he's missed me, too, over the last two weeks. (I even missed the last day of Staples' $1 sales. Pout.)

I know why God has been bringing me into this wilderness...these wildernesses (wildernii?) of hubby's event weekends and meeting/rehearsal/Bible study nights away. He wants me to depend on Him. He wants me to go to Him first. Not hubby. Hubby has enough pressure of his own, and the Lord knows that I heap burning coals on his head when I start to complain about him not being around enough for me.

Am I lonely? Yes. Do I feel forgotten? Yes. Unappreciated, left out, un-considered? Yah, sure, you betcha. Are my feelings still valid? OH HECK YES. Will any of my whining and underhanded methods help the situation? Nope. Has God been poking me all day? Uh, yeah.

First, 3 downright lovely - and, not to be left out, 100% RIGHT!!! - communication tools by a downright lovely woman who is in a wilderness of her own, being married to a man with chronic pain that often takes the wind right out of her sails, their marriage, and her soul. This woman has studied how to talk to her husband. And I love her for her journey, and how my story parallels hers (although in a very seemingly pathetic way).

Second, another friend's blog that I JUST found today (coincidence? I think not), where I actually took this "wilderness" terminology from. Her wilderness is a daughter with cystic fibrosis. They find joy because their daughter is alive, and suffer through moments when she's coughing so hard she pukes. How lame am I??? But her latest post included a quote from Hosea (a story I love; you should read it).

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor ['trouble'] a door of hope." Hosea 2:14-15 ESV

Wildnerness. Yep, that's a good name for what it's felt like when he's been gone. And...oddly...God has been calling me to these places of ugliness on purpose?? Yes. Called me there, and then spoken tenderly to me. (Really? Maybe I haven't been listening...) Called me there, spoken tenderly to me, trying to give me vineyards (ooh la la!) of sustenance and luxury, and turning my gate of trial and sadness into a gate of hope and joy!

I want a gate of joy. (pout) I want to send hubby off on weekends (or August's terrible week-and-a-half) or to meetings, etc. with joy and contentment. Do I want him to maybe suggest on his own, during some free evening, that he put the kids to bed for me? Or that I go peruse a store or get some coffee on my own, alone with no children? Without me guilting him into it?? OH, yes. But is it possible, just possible, that he's been a little busy, with not a lot of time to think of that? I dig my toe in the dirt and concede. Yeah.....I guess so.

Silly girl needs to start listening to Jesus, and try harder - and pray more - to trust and believe in His love for me. And his love for me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mumma needs a minute.

**This entire blog is copyrighted; don't you dare steal my idea.**

This morning, in the bathroom (I admit it), this idea struck me. It's an idea that I have had before and promptly dismissed: I don't write devotions. I can't force a moment of intense meaning and insight. I can pull a lesson out of just about anything, thank you Christian school. But forced spirituality, with no feeling behind the writing, is not my idea of a devotional book. But THIS - this I could write. The idea was one of a little devotional book for tired moms. That's all. I wake up so often and think, "Oh, Jesus. Help me. Today's probably going to get rough. Strength now." I would love to have something, something very small, to read in the morning, to set up the day right, in those moments before the "slings and arrows" start flying (or as close to "before" as I can get), when cohesive thoughts on what to pray for aren't easily found. I have not decided to write a devotional. But the introduction started flowing, so I've written it. Now I will continue to pray about it and see if it sticks.

So now I give you the introduction (a working copy) to...

Mumma Needs A Minute
little morning devotions for tired moms

None of my kids (that I birthed) ever slept through the night solidly 'til they were well over a year old, and currently my youngest is now 2 and we're still working on it. That's a lot of years, sometimes concurrently, of chronic sleep-deprivation, frustration, despair, anger, and depression. At least in the middle of the night. And often first thing in the morning.

I have so often woken up and thought, "Oh dear I need...something. Strength. Courage. Patience. Adrenaline. Help..." Groups of words don't happen easily in those first few moments. How often I've wished I had something very, very small to read, something to remind me, to center me, to say the words for me that I can't find, but something that will help me pray for what I need that day. I hope this can be that for you. Please know that I am still in the midst of these tired mornings with you.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark,
Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Mark 1:35

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; 
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
Psalm 5:3

That's what this little devotion book is for. I believe it's absolutely crucial to start the day at least attempting to ground ourselves in Jesus, before the "slings and arrows" of the day start flying. And boy, do I know they start flying early. Pretty much as soon as your feet hit the floor. And often before that. BUT, I want you to know, I don't believe morning is the ONLY time for devotions to be done. I spent a lot of my life feeling guilty, because I was taught by various examples that this is when devotions should be done. Get up early, cup of coffee, quiet table by the window, reading and being truly uplifted and edified by God's Holy Word. Pretty picture. I've longed for that picture. But my mornings are bleary-eyed and often accompanied by tears, I am so tired. God knows us, He knows the plight of the mother [still trying to find the verse on mothers I'm thinking of], and I can't imagine He's going to fault us for not doing it at 5am sharp (especially when your kids also get up at 5am sharp). You must do devotions when they work for you.

However, this little devotion book CANNOT be a replacement for daily time spent with Jesus. I do understand that you don't get many minutes together to yourself. I do understand that often it's either prayer or reading, but not always both at the same time. And oh-do-I understand the frustration of your schedule just not working out for you to spend focused, uninterrupted time alone. (There's always after the kids go to bed, but unfortunately - and shame on me - I very rarely want to sit and start in on a Bible reading and prayer. I want to finish dishes...okay, "want" is the wrong word...I want to get my stuff done, and most of all, I want to go to bed myself. If I try to start praying, I'll most likely fall asleep. BUT, it is still crucial. Any number of devotional or "how to study the Bible" books can help you with that, but your walk is your own. Don't listen to how anyone else tells you you should do it; do it the way that works for you. If getting up early is your bag, go for it. (I'd like for it to be my bag. Someday...) If a nice quiet meeting with Jesus in the cool of the evening works for you, fantastic. If you have to set your kids up on the computer and the Wii and lock yourself in the bathroom (I'm not kidding), DO IT! Time with God is that important. It is most important. This little devotional will give you the Scripture and a very real, very heartfelt prayer for those early moments when cohesive thoughts can't be formed yet, but true munching on God's Word must be done yourself.

With that said, this book MUST NOT STRESS YOU OUT! There are enough for every day of the year. But there are no numbers. There are no dates. Sometimes I like to have dates on my devotions, so that even if I miss a day I can just jump to today and be okay. I'm not doing that for several reasons. 1) I don't always know what the date is first thing in the morning. 2) If you do miss a day of reading, I do not want any pressure on you about "agh, I missed one, should I read two? what if it's a series of devotions, I won't understand! do I skip it? I don't want to miss anything!!" 3) I don't want to worry about the 30/31 days in a month thing. So - Relax. No pressure here. You can read them in order. You can use a bookmark. You can dog-ear the pages. You can completely disregard any order at all and just open to a page and start reading. And don't be afraid to put your hand up and ask (tell) your kids to wait...Mumma needs a minute. (It'll teach them the importance of spending time with Jesus. Look at that - a teachable moment without even trying. And so early, too! Look at you.)

And they will all apply to being tired. Trust me.

Feel free to leave feedback, but remember I have not made a concrete committment to this project. It's just an idea. Enjoy. :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Two Day 2's.

First Day 2: No more milk for Matthew.
I started this Saturday night (Day 1), but then last night (Sunday) we got home from my sister's house around 10pm, so falling asleep with one bottle was not an issue.

Tonight he had a small (4oz as opposed to 8) bottle and was done with it before I even went downstairs. Normally this spells disaster. Tonight he didn't cry. I even sat on the steps for a while, and he didn't make a sound. Then it started...and it hasn't stopped. "Be quiet, Matthew..." "Go to sleep, Matthew..." "You're okay, Matthew..." The mantras continue. Now I hear him stomping in his crib...teehee. He's quite mad.

I finally went downstairs and got my netbook; it has a better wireless connection to the house than my phone does to any tower sitting here on the landing to the third floor. I get back upstairs, settle in with my computer and a nice, large jar of my new Lipton Half and Half (half iced tea, half lemonade), and what do I do? Yup, I breathed in a bug. A tiny, TINY noseeum fly thing. Yes, that works well: hack HHHAACK "go to --" couuugh "-- sleep, Matthew --" coooooough "-- you're --" hack "-- okay, Matthew." Does wonders for getting them to forget you're there. It's amazing how. much. havoc. one tiny being that isn't supposed to be in your airways can wreak.

My throat-spazzing seems to be winding down. And so does he. Somewhat. Amid wails and "maamaaaa"s and the guilt-ridden sobbing-breaths.

I. WILL. BE. STRONG. The first night was lucky. It was new, a novelty. He didn't know what to expect. Now he's ready for the fight. So am I. (No matter how many comments I hear from the second floor that I assume are about his noise. I should've turned off the monitor in my bedroom. Oh, well. Deal.)

Second Day 2: The 30-day challenge.

Today's challenge was to post a picture of something you've eaten today. (Which, if you think about it, is gross. If you take a picture of what you've already eaten...oh, dear. I will be posting a picture of what was left in the pan.)

Tonight I made chow mein, Grammy-style. I've never actually eaten real Chinese-food chow mein. My grandmother was Pennsylvania Dutch, where everything is made and put together in one pot, so I don't know if she ever had real chow mein either. But this is how I grew up eating it.

I had to tilt the pan up to get the light to shine on it (lighting in my kitchen is an ongoing issue) so it's not the easiest to see. But chow mein - in the house of my youth, anyway - is hamburger, rice, celery, and onion. Then you sprinkle soy sauce over it when it's on your plate.

And, because I have always had to, my rice always gets butter and cinnamon sugar. Even when mixed with other things, like hamburger/tomato sauce or creamed tuna. In the famed words of Joanne and Maureen, "Take me, baby, or leave me."

And, because hubby is out tonight, and his "out" includes dinner, I actually had enough to take out lunch for him tomorrow, LOTS for me, and plenty left for the in-laws. Matthew liked it, and Morgan tolerated a few bites of it before trading it for a hot dog, and Elijah had fallen asleep on the couch so I just made him chicken nuggets, knowing the argument that would ensue. (He doesn't always wake up well.) Unfortunately, when Morgan shrieked from the kitchen (I thought she'd sliced an appendage off or something), and we all ran in (we'd been eating in the living room, where it's much cooler) to find that a rather substantial family of fruit flies had found her juice...we learned that Bailey liked the chow mein, too. (Grrr. But our fault for leaving it there. I just went ahead and decided dinner was over - time for dessert!)

So hubby has now called and said he's on his way home. Thankfully, I had the forethought to put the phone on vibrate, so I just answered it and then tried to get down the creaky stairs as quickly as possible before starting to talk. Little Boy has stopped fussing and has been quiet except for the random post-good-cry breathing. The Girl can now fall asleep peacefully, after several trips out into the hallway to complain about Matthew (note to self: go over with Morgan again the reason for letting Matthew cry it out, and apologize profusely; reconsider idea to let her fall asleep in my bed). I can go downstairs and feed the very, very patient puppy dog. He's so good. I will spend a few minutes in the living room with him, and I will probably get caught up in reading some wonderful blog or other, and will not actually be in bed by the time Hubby gets home. Maybe. There's a first time for everything.

Thoughts during gymnastics class.

I'm sitting here at Lij's gymnastics class. Some (completely disjointed) thoughts:

There are a lot of skinny people here. Some of them are moms.

That one brought water and strawberries. I like to bring something to eat while I'm waiting, too...but I brought cheese crackers and a granola bar. And she - and that one, too - brought big bottles of cold water. I have my iced caramel swirl latte a la Dunkie's (with whole milk, sugar, whipped cream, and extra caramel, for goodness' sake), and am wearing my grey knit frumpzilla dress that I have worn in every pregnancy and out, and have to work hard (really hard) at contracting my stomach muscles so I don't look pregnant again. (The dress is fast, cool, and comfy. And if I had less of a tummy, it probably wouldn't look half bad.) Hmmmmm...

That mom has her whole laptop open on the table. I'm taking notes on my phone, but that feels less uninvolved than a laptop.

I'm glad E is wearing underwear to gymnastics now, instead of a pull-up. He seems to be doing okay.

What kind of healthy legacy am I leaving for my kids, my daughter specifically, by letting myself eat whatever I want, "because my hubby loves me the way I am"? (That's not an excuse; he really does. Okay, it's an excuse, but he really does.)

And what lesson am I teaching them when we pull up to the drive-thru and I say, "nope, no donuts today, we're just getting Mumma's coffee"? That junk food isn't for always but the indulgence [pause for watching E's turn in the routine] of coffee is a given, that "no" is never needed for coffee, that there's never a time when we shouldn't buy coffee? (Heaven forbid!) Sigh.

E doing side steps on the balance beam

My kids are such active, healthy movers with (so far) quite healthy eating patterns. I'd BETTER not ruin that. What a big failure that would be.

That instructor has absolutely no jiggle to her butt when she jumps. None. I don't think I want to be that skinny. My hubby could break me.

I don't want to be a health freak. God created chocolate, that's for sure, and I have no intention on missing out on that part of His creation. But Sally Fields is right: I have this one body, and this one life. And I'm being a very, very poor steward of it.

Being healthy shouldn't be should just be something you learn how to do, like everything else in life. Somewhere along the way, we've forgotten that most things in life must be worked for and earned.

Gymnastics is done. I have some work to do.
Dearest God, please (oh, please) help me to keep any shred of resolve I currently possess.

Matthew and a little girl having a stare-down


Today, I begin a new week.

Today, I will get a bunch of kids packed into a van to take one child to gymnastics for 45 minutes. I'll probably bring my Bible with me (again), hoping to read it during his class, but with a 2yo making the rounds between playing in the water fountain and pushing buttons on the vending machines, I probably won't actually read it (again).

Today, I'll try to remember to get the hamburger out of the freezer for tonight's dinner. It needs to be cut up and separated, so the earlier the better.

Today, I will clean up a kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, which is one of those mysteries since we weren't home much of the weekend. (If I can get to them before Someone Else does, because there really aren't that many, but I wouldn't want them to be "overwhelmed" by them all again.)

Today, I will clean up the packaging mess (read: giant cardboard box) from the bench we picked up on Saturday (it's so pretty!) before it starts getting used as a fort/playhouse/car garage/Polly Pocket house/thing that I get frustrated by having to wheel the computer chair around. (It's called a "farmhouse bench." Isn't that just woonnnnderful?)

Today, I will try to remember that I need to do laundry. (That seems to keep skipping my mind this last week.) And I will fold all the laundry that is in the living room. And I will try to get it to the appropriate rooms. And I will try to remember to get my kids to do their own, because that's okay and right.

Today, I need to get caught up on bills, so that we can, as my FB-friend said, "start the week off right...and start the week off with no money." :)

Today, I will remember that trials are meant to bring us closer to God, so that when I start getting frustrated by hubby being out e.v.e.r.y night this week, I'll remember to Whom I should be turning for sustaining. (And I will be grateful that one of those nights out includes the rest of us, and a visit with wonderful friends, and a much-needed playdate for the Big Man...the 4yo, not Hubby. And will include some much-needed homeschooling discussion for us 'rental units, since it's with some hs'ing veterans.)

Today, I will keep reciting what the Bible said this morning (via an app...via Facebook...via my phone...gosh, I make it hard for God to get in touch with me, eh?)...
"Let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ help you to keep on growing. Praise Jesus now and forever! Amen."
(2 Peter 3:18 CEV)
I will keep on growing. I am a work in progress, and that means on-going, still in process. God has promised to complete me.

Today, I will try to move slower, but with more purpose, both in body and mind, so that the right response to situations has time to get to my brain before the wrong action shows up first. I will try to correct my children calmly and biblically, instead of harshly and annoyedly. (Yep, that's a word.)

Today, I will try not to get bogged down at the computer, waiting for any of my favorite blogs to have a new post, and hovering over my blog's statistics as though staring at them will make them go up. :)

Today, I will keep reminding myself that next week is VBS at church which means lots of fun, lots of fellowship, and hubby's vacation week. :) (It's free; you should come! Trust me, this is a crazy week with hundreds of kids and dozens of grownups who LOVE them!)

(And hopefully, with so many nights out for hubby this week, it can mean a whole lot of early bed nights for me!)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tonight I've met Ann.

I love it when God brings me to a person who speaks my heart, but does it so much more beautifully than my words manage to.

"If I lose track of the stories, I’ll lose track of part of me. Lose track of His voice in this life. Telling our stories, keepings traces of His graces, even in a venue such as this, may indeed be important, sacred work, because in these stories, God meets us. We listen to our life and hear God.

And maybe other who listen, hear Him too? Perhaps in sharing our stories, spiritual disciplines of reflecting and telling the truth, even in this public space, others too just groping along might find more of their way?"
~ Ann Voskamp, "A Holy Experience: Of blogging, secrets, porn and truth."

It's worth reading to the end. For those of us who wonder why we do this, wonder if this is really what God wants us to do, wonder if we'll ever make a difference, wonder if anyone cares, if it's going to matter, if it's going to only sound silly... This is why we do this. This is why we write. To remember our holy experiences, to remember our truths from Eden. To remind us that God has spoken to us before, and will again.

Deepest thanks, Ann. (I only wish I could find a comment section on her blog to tell her so. Tell her that it mattered to me.)

Challenge: Day 1.

Challenge? What challenge?? Well...I have no idea, truthfully! :) I just came upon a new site, The Adventure of a Self-Proclaimed SuperMom, and she's starting a challenge. She didn't explain what the rest of the challenges were, or what they were for, but - one day at a time - I'm game to jump in.

Day 1: post a picture of yourself and share how your day was.

Cool, I can do that. First, picture. Please know this is not easy for me. Posting? No sweat. I mean getting a good picture of me. And I don't just mean photogenically. If you see a smiling picture of me, it's probably a fairly worthwhile picture (I've learned to take other people's word on that). But I am (practically) world-renowned for getting HORRIBLE candid pictures taken of me. Announcement: I have very expressive eyebrows. Therefore, I usually look mad, annoyed, half-asleep, bewildered, astonished, or perplexed. I'm not kidding. You should see some of the slideshows from family birthday parties. BUT! I managed to get a decent picture where, at the most, I look tired. That's not unusual, and it's almost 10:30.

Second, my day. It was a pretty good Saturday. No shower, but I'm getting more okay with that (the presence or absence of a shower used to literally decide the fate of my day...poor hubby). Plus, a little later, I did manage to stick my head in the shower and wash my hair quick. (Sooooo glad I decided to buy a 2-in-1 for just such moments as these.)

I had a good cup of coffee, hubby drove MIL to work and FIL to pick up a part for their car. There was a small tiff misunderstanding about the length of time he was gone, and then it was resolved, and he took Lij to the dump with FIL. Just as they were getting back, I was getting the other two ready to go grocery shopping (this is also when the hair-washing happened) and off we went. Home from that, and we packed up again and traveled down to Bernie & Phyl's to pick up a bench. So excited! A looooong time ago, at another job, Hubby was cleaning the office when he came across several gift cards. He figured they'd been intended as "good job"s for the employees, but they were old so he was checking to see if they were still good, and he said they could have the Bernie & Phyl's one - $50! I was jazzed. And then it sat around for a while. We didn't need any furniture. Finally I dug it out again and went to poke around the website...............let's just say I was very lucky to find this bench, with it being only $55 so we had to spend very little. AND it's something I've been wanting for our kitchen table anyway. In our small kitchen, fitting everyone around the table has been challenging, so this way we can fit the three small kids along one side. (Eventually, I'd like to get this kind of set-up, but on a slightly larger scale.)

Ahhhhh....another farmhouse piece drops into place. will. Maybe tomorrow. When we put it together.

But oh, it was fun, just piling the kids in the car and driving the hour-and-a-half to the furniture store. (It was the closest one to us that wouldn't charge us tax. Tax-free New Hampshire, woot woot!) It is - no joke - the closest thing to a family vacation that we've...well, ever had. Hubby fussed at me since I was taking too long for his liking by trying to clean a little more trash out of the car, get a little better set up for a road trip, knowing where the toys were, getting bottles in the right place, etc. I told him he has his hobby trips, this is mine. Patience, my love.

And OHHHH, speaking of bottles. I'm done with those. My 2yo might not agree, but I'm dialing down his right to an opinion in the matter. It's my fault, totally. I made my bed, and now I'm lying (but definitely not sleeping) in it. I take total blame. But I stand by my decision, because it was the decision I needed to make at the time. When children are babies, their moms have two choices: a) feed them a bottle at night, then lay them down without it, and continuously reassure their child, when he/she cries, that they are okay, and let them cry/comfort themselves back to sleep, orrrrrr...2) give the kid the bottle and let him fall asleep that way.

I've always done option 2. I'm horrible, wretched, lazy, and should not be trusted with other human lives, I know. I mean, my children could have died!! And not to mention the damage I have inflicted on their teeth... (shudder)

But I was TIRED, man!! It's so much easier - chronically sleep-deprived moms can attest - to give the kid what they want! And I remember making that conscious decision, "I will do this now, I will deal with [read: pay for] it later."

Trumpet fanfare: It's LATER!!!! I am in full-swing of Dealing With/Paying For It. Have been for a while. And it's not that I'm not ready to deal with the fall-out of Dealing With It, but Big Brother is in the same room (who, thank the Lord, has trained himself to sleep like a dead person...gee, wonder why, when your brother wakes up at least once or twice a night for two years demanding the continuance of a very bad habit), and Big Sister is...well, it's across the hall, but there's only a headboard and a sheet and a chimney between them. And I can't stand the thought of making them suffer while Little Brother has to cry it out.

Sigh. So on we've gone, perpetuating Mumma's mistake. I was thinking I'd have to farm out my older children to sleepovers so Little Brother can complain his little heart out and not ruin anyone's sleep but mine. (I probably would've had to send Hubby away that night, too.)

Till. Tonight! I have epiphed. I have had a brainstorm. It's not rocket science. But it's working rather well! Morgan likes to have me snuggle with her on her bed. This is when she completely debriefs me on all her thoughts from the day, plans for the future, and very deep theological questions. (The other night we discussed why Satan fell from Heaven.) Well, as I was lying on her bed tonight, discussing homeschooling (grin), Migs pipes up as usual. So, to help him along, I simply tell him to lie down and go to sleep. This works temporarily, then not so well. But I continue. And eventually he quiets down. When I left Morgan, he heard me on the stairs (silly old New England stairs, but they are my Kid Alarms, along with squeaky doors that I will never oil) so he ramped up again. So I sit down on the stairs and start in again on my matras..."lie down, Matthew...quiet, Matthew...go to sleep, Matthew..." very calmly, while reading Read-Aloud Puppy Stories to myself that I find sitting nearby. Eventually he calms back down and I manage to make it downstairs. (Incidentally, I have a very good dog. It was, at that point, around 9:30, and he was waiting relatively patiently for this ordeal to be over so he could have dinner.)

Success!!! Right? Of course! That part, anyway. We have not made it through the night. But I figure I can't lose much more sleep than I already do. And we have made it through one more cry session. I knew that would be the tricky part. The kids are all asleep, it's much later, do I still go up there and sit on the stairs, calling out to be quiet? Why, yes. Yes, I do. And it works. And no one wakes up.

I imagine I will be spending quite a bit of time sitting on his stairs over the next few nights. Maybe even just over this night. I will be remembering to take my phone with me so I'm not just sitting there counting the seconds. (I'm so grateful for my phone, and the Bible app that gives me reading plans. Perhaps this will be a blessing in more ways than one.) But I also figure that taking the time to retrain one's synapses, however much sleep I lose, is much better than indefinite sleepless nights, not to mention the toll it takes on our milk supply. Besides which, his newest trick is standing at the edge of his crib, turning his bottle upside down, and squirting it at the floor. The carpeted floor. Wow. GAME OVER, little buddy.

So there, I have done the challenge! Wonder what Day 2 is. :)


This whole post is based on a picture on my bloggy-friend Alicia's site of her cherries. (Not the one above; those are just my pretty table flowers.) Homegrown, picked right from the tree, hand-pitted. I am, admittedly, slightly jealous. So I felt the need to post a picture of my own.

In the spirit of honesty (wink, wink, Alicia), I did not grow these strawberries. I probably wouldn't be any good growing strawberries. BUT! I did cut them up myself. :) And, to lend an air of authenticity, that knife is the very knife that my grandmother would've used to cut up any and all fruits and veggies.

And I continued on with my oh-so-domestic self, and made a Waldorf salad.

(Although growing up, I had no idea that's what it was called.) Growing up, my grandmother made it with apples, raisins, and.....some sort of white salad dressing thing? I thought it was Miracle Whip; my mom says it was mayo. I made it a few days ago with mayo (and apples from an actual grocery store); tonight I made it with Miracle Whip (and apples from Walmart). Whereas I have determined that it was indeed Miracle Whip that Grammy made it with, I have also determined that I like it better with mayo (and apples from the grocery store). In this picture, the apples oddly look like potatoes. Don't judge the edibility on the picture. can. It wasn't that good.

I had decided that dinner tonight would be a clear-out-the-pantry dinner.
And for all this, my daughter chose tuna (not on the table), pineapple, and apple slices with peanut butter (also not on the table). My son chose chicken nuggets (one guess) and pineapple. Master Greyson and I split a can of ravioli, attempted the apple salad (r.e.a.l.l.y. not that good, but he made a full-hearted attempt), and had some strawberries.

Also in the pantry was this... (I do believe I need to invest in a 10x10 pan. And why yes, that IS a Pampered Chef Classic Batter Bowl! They're so handy. Want one??? Call me! :) )
...and this...
I need to figure out what to sprinkle on top - the fork for the criss-cross kept sticking to the dough.

For those wondering: raw cookie dough edibility of the chocolate chip cookies - about a 7 (definitely not real, but definitely edible); peanut butter cookies - not attempted.


And because I was a super fishie momma, I cleaned Snowflake's bowl, made it shine. I love when the sunlight hits the bubbles on the plant. It's the little things.
Snowflake says good night.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Inside the armor.

It's my blog, and I'll emotionally core dump if I want to. I'm tired, and I'm depleted, and I want a nap. (Yes, I realize it's only 6:10 in the morning.)

I'm tired of not sleeping through the night; and I'm tired in general of the last two nights, not knowing whether a certain precious little 4yo boy will be in his bed, my bed, or hovered over the toilet.

I'm tired of not knowing who's going to be living in my house in the next three weeks. And I'm tired of listening to one of those people putting herself first, dumping decisions on her husband, expecting him to think of her first, but her not really doing anything to make him want to. (Even if that's not how it happens.)

I'm tired of not getting to bed on time, leading to me not getting up as early as I should, leading to me not exercising, leading to me staying the same stupid weight and size and fluffiness that I am, leading me to eat more ice cream out of depression, shooting myself in my proverbial foot.

I'm tired of being lazy and not feeling like getting work done around the house, but then I'm tired of having uber-productive days and feeling like I've ignored my kids and said "not right now, honey" too much. I'm tired of being unbalanced.

I'm tired of short-changing my husband on the wife he deserves. I'm tired of feeling like "right on, I've got this make-breakfast-pack-lunch-out-the-door routine nailed" then realizing I've lost something super important like a paycheck.

I'm actually tired of my summer going too fast, and wanting to hang on to it for a while. (And I'm especially tired of that because that's never happened before.)

I'm tired of money issues and trying to make lots of bills get paid from money that seems to disappear on it's own. (I am, however, very thankful for my husband's job that does make enough to pay our bills. I know, only too recently, what it's like not to have that.)

I'm tired of worrying who my children are bothering, and worrying who's bothering my children.

I'm tired. And depleted. Inside my armor is a child, and I'm dropping my sword.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This house.

I've always wanted to write a letter to whomever lives in our house after us. We're not moving. I don't know when we will. But WHEN we do (and I do mean when, not if), I hope I get a chance to leave a letter like this. If I don't, at least it'll be written here...

This house has kept us for over 20 years.

Its rooms have been more than flexible, serving in just about every capacity possible: living rooms as bedrooms and offices, bedrooms as kitchens and living rooms, kitchens as offices, offices as bedrooms and nurseries. It even split itself in two several times to hold two entire families at once.

It's seen just about every life change you can think of. It raised sisters from teen-hood to marriage and beyond. It saw parents through unemployment. It welcomed husbands and brought home babies. It sheltered grandparents as they left this world for the heavenly. It's granted safe haven to best friends needing respite. It's hosted holiday meals and open houses, traveling music tour members, post-wedding wrap-ups, surprise baby showers, and graduation parties. It's loosened its belt to welcome in-laws for extended stays.

It's been the concert hall for birdsongs, puppy barking and old dogs' soft breathing, the squeak of hamster wheels, and the rhythmic bubbles of a fish tank (or two or three). It's listened to piano lessons, and never commented on off-notes. It's held its inhabitants safe as their men leave for night shifts. It's waited up for girls coming home late from work or friends.

It's stood strong during hurricanes. It's dried out after days and days (and days) of rain. It's held cool air on hot days, and warm air on frigid days. It's opened up to early morning breezes, let in the rustle of spring and fall leaves, blown in the smell of lilacs and pine needles and woodsmoke, directed moonlight through windows, and nestled down in multiple feet of snow (it even color-coordinated).

And it's stood, and waved, and saluted to hundreds upon hundreds of train conductors - early in the morning, at high noon in the sun, in the soft blue of evening, and in the motionless dark of night. It welcomed their whistles, nodded in understanding, and sent them on by, affirming it is still here...was here for the last...will be here for the next. And this house's people will come running to help, flashlights in hand, when the train needs them.

This house has kept us for over 20 years. It held others for 100 years before us. With God's help and grace, it will keep you, and people after you, for 100 years beyond us. Whatever the world does, we hope this house remains a place of keeping, a place of safety, a place where visitors and weary ones are safe from the craze of life, a place to rest and rejuvenate for wherever their road takes them next. And if they get tired, they're always welcome - have always been welcome - to come back. It'll be here, waiting and ready.

We give you this house, with hearts heavy with memories and full of gratitude that someone else wants to take their turn loving it as much as we have. We know it will keep you as well as it has kept us.

Friday, July 8, 2011


I want to get this book I just heard about: One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. Having not read it, I don't know exactly what it will turn out to be about, but I'm pretty sure it's about noticing God's gifts to us in the everyday.

I know that God blesses us constantly, but I fully admit that I don't always see the gifts, blocked by blindness, apathy, self-centeredness, etc. The last couple days, however, since finding out about this book, I've been trying to recognize these gifts more consciously.

I don't know that I'll carry this on, but I wanted to make mention of two that gifts that I was graced with today. (I had three, but I can't remember the third.)

[1] This one requires background info:  I was going to make an actual dinner tonight, an easy one that took about 45-50 minutes to bake. Simple recipe, no big deal. But as life happens, stuff comes up, and it became later than I had wanted it to be when I got it started. My mother in law had called earlier, asking what I had planned for dinner, and offering to treat the three of us (hubby's away on a fencing trip, remember) to Chinese tomorrow night. Then, of course, my 4yo pops up with wanting hot dogs. (sigh) I asked 7yo what she wanted and she said, "French toasted tuna fish sandwiches?" [Note: this is a wacky family recipe from growing up that most people find vile; ask me in a comment if you want it and I'll explain.] This dish, although not hard, is time-consuming. BUT. She had half her tuna sandwich left over from lunch - it was like I saw the plate, and the heavens opened and sent a beam of light shining straight down on that sandwich. Perfect - French toast her sandwich, hot dogs for 4yo, move Chinese to tonight. Thank you, God!!!

[2] (No background info here.) I. just. love. when someone "likes" a comment I make on someone's status on Facebook. You know...someone updates their status, you make a comment, and someone (either the author of the status or someone else) clicks that happy little "like" button. I love when they do that. It's better when they like my status. It tells me that I was able to break through the normal, standard, everyone-saying-the-same-thing comments, and find something unique, something true, something special to the reader. It's best when the status' author does the liking, because it tells me that I got what they said, that I understood, that I connected. It's not a matter of "they liked my comment best"; it's a matter of "yes...I understand...I know what you mean, and you know that I know." (And I feel like a good writer.) Thank you, God!!!

Ooh, I thought of a [3]!! Not the same one, but still just as note-worthy. There's a woman, a friend of mine, I finally realized I'm jealous of. She would disagree, but it appears to me that she has it all together. It feels like she's peaceful, that she's organized, and that - even in her stress or fatigue or chaos! - her life makes sense. Like I said, she'd be the first to disagree. But it BUGS me. And at first I was feeling like she was being fake, like she was putting her persona on display, like she was just trying so hard to have the perfect life and show everyone. But then I thought of a story another friend of mine told during a conference, where she started praying for a woman she was really having trouble getting along with.. She started praying blessings on the head of this woman, here "enemy." friend is not my enemy, but I am experiencing conflict because of her...and suddenly today I stopped and said, "Lord, give her good things today." You know that peaceful feeling, that settling-in feeling when you know something's being quietly right? Thank you, God!!!

I'll let you know if I end up buying the book (and if I was right about what it's about).

Self-reflection meets Issues.

Why do my bouts of self-reflection always happen when my husband will not to be home that evening to hash it out with me (and eventually tell me what I want to hear)? Probably because God's saying, "hello...remember Me? I think I was here first...and I care more about you than Facebook does." It's not the first time He's told me this.

It hasn't been the best day. My boys sent me a proverbial memo this morning: "You will not get anything done today." And some plans I was trying to feel out and see if they might like to be made have fallen through, at least as far as I can tell. I'm depressed, disappointed, bitter that other people get to make plans and mine don't seem to work, and - as a result - bitter that hubby gets to go off to his weekend of wife-less, child-less, hobby fun (he's a medieval fencer), and I stay home and have things crash around me.

Whether I subsconciously seek out things to crash or they crash on their own is up for debate.

But not right now.

And so I hung up from hubby's usual lunch-hour call, and burst into tears. Because he's a guy, he didn't read through the telephone "lines" and see how hurt I was. He didn't hear what I didn't say about being disappointed. He tried to suggest a solution that I exploded about the impossibility of, and he bristled at my explosion because as far as he knew, it was irrational. AND he didn't try to save the phone call by reading from my script and saying sweet and sensitive things, and offering to make it up to me in the future, and promising to bring me chocolate when he comes home on Sunday.

Hmph. The nerve.

So there I sat at the kitchen table, listing all my horrible attributes to God. I'm a selfish wife for begrudging his (almost monthly, during the summer anyway) trips to bachelor-land. I'm jealous of people who can load up the car and take off for a family vacation. I am a lazy mom who wants to spend all day on the computer. I sigh and get annoyed when one of my children needs my help as. soon. as. I start something. (Read: sit down at the computer.) I'm frustrated with God that I can't have a "normal" life, with my own house, where I can yell if I want, stomp if I want, let it get as messy as I want, for as long as I want....blah, blah, blah.

I. Have. Issues.

I have issues because I am often always unsure about what issues are my fault, and what issues I'm welcome to feel disappointed and jilted about. I'm fairly certain that a good deal of selfishness, jealousy, and bitterness on my part are involved.

Only time...real time, one-on-one, prioritized time, alone with my Maker, who knows me better than I know myself, and loves me anyway...will tell me which things are my problems to ask forgiveness for, and which things are my problems to cry heaving sobs about on His chest over. (He doesn't even seem to mind my snot stains.)

So. That is my goal this weekend: to find time to have real conversations with the One who has been waiting, and has the answers that I DO DON'T. I have roughly 48 hours before my handsome, sweet (it's true), and very talented fencing hubby returns. Go.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Job description.

Gee, you'd think I did one dry-run of homeschooling and then went into hiding from the traumatic experience, for all the blogging I've done since then. :) Not the case.

But in this time, some pseudo-decisions have come to pass. They involved hormones and crying, but they were productive tears! I was frustrated with the status of my Pampered Chef business (which is pretty much no status at all), which led to another conversation where Hubby reminds me that I need to learn to be content with where I am in life, with the job I've been given, before I try to seek my contentment outside of the house with Pampered Chef, or Lindt (yes, Lindt now has chocolate parties, mwahaha), or anything else.

I agree with him, but the tears came in when I finally explained that I had a bunch of "I don't know's" in my "job": my PC business isn't working, should I continue? just how many people am I supposed to be cooking and cleaning for? and I don't even know what my kids will be doing for school in the fall?! (My 7yo continues to tell me that she doesn't like going to school. Sigh.)

This led to a homeschooling discussion where I think I have at least partial permission to homeschool my 7yo, but we're still discussing my 4yo. We need to process through how the kids will be socialized, what activities they'll be in, how you learn to deal with people you don't get along with, what about pep rallies and prom and typical school milestones... The praying continues.

But it also clarified my role as MomAndWife. Being a PC consultant (and my consideration of joining Lindt, too) is born out of wanting to do something big, something important, something I can really dig into and become successful at, and something that people will need me for. But the other half is that I want to help, help hubby with finances, help our family with extra money, help people (and us) get things they need/want. Hubby reconfirmed my role as one of supporting, not providing. (And, just to be sure, I reconfirmed that he meant I had permission to resign from Pampered Chef; we decided to let my website subscription run out and then stop.) My business is going nowhere (though not from any outside influence except that I'm not fully trying), and I really have no desire to make it go anywhere, and the random purchases that I do get aren't enough to keep me active. And it's pulling my attention away from my kids, which, if I admit it, is something big, is something important, is something I can really dig into and become successful at, and is something that people need me for. Some very special, very sweet, very important people. I'm just hoping to help Hubby understand that adding their schooling to my job description will actually feel more complete, not more stressful and burdened.

On a side note, I was so completely psyched over the weekend when I discovered that the writer of one of my favorite blogs, One Hundred Years Ago, has started following my blog!!!!!!! I've learned so much over the last year about telling people how you feel, saying it to them directly, because you often don't know how much it will mean to them for you to be intentional and sincere. And I have found the same is true of blogging: never underestimate the power of leaving a comment, becoming a follower, making a mention... I have five happy little followers now, and one is actually someone I don't know, but found my blog interesting enough to add her name to! I am so grateful, Alicia Grace. You have no idea.