Friday, September 28, 2007

Think Pink

Last night I attended a fundraiser for a friend and neighbor of mine who is walking in the Breast Cancer 3-Day in 2 weeks. She is walking 20 miles a day for 3 days to raise funds and awareness for Breast cancer in honor of her mother, also my neighbor, who lost her battle last year. This cause is becoming nearer and dearer to my heart each year. My own mother-in-law is a 10-year breast cancer survivor and, as you know, I am now a proud member of Team Whymommy.

Whymommy will be walking in her own Susan G. Koman race, as a survivor. If you haven't been by her site lately, I encourage you to do so. And to pray for her. I don't know if Whymommy believes in prayer or not, but I know I do, and I know a lot of my readers do, so please say a prayer for her as she struggles to beat this disease and live to raise her babies.

Now here's what you can do:

  • First of all. Take care of yourself. Pay attention to changes in your body. Do your breast exams. Get your mammograms. Be your own advocate for your health. And remind your friends.
  • If you want to make a financial donation you can do it through the link I posted or through my WME buddy. The Daily Spawn will also be walking in the 3-day and has a button her her site to donate as well.
  • And here's the fun one. GO TO Mod*Mom's Blog. DYSON IS GIVING AWAY A FREE PINK BREAST CANCER AWARENESS DYSON. The instructions are how to enter are there. But really, who doesn't want a Dyson? It's the vacuum that has even a domestic nightmare like me drooling. AND IT'S PINK! And what isn't better in Pink? I mean I really want this vacuum. But it's like $400. Although The Man might actually pay that if it meant I would use it from time to time.
So go ahead, do something good, share the news about Breast Cancer and Enter the Contest.

Because 1 in 8 women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. So if it's not you, it will be someone you know. Which makes this a battle we should all be fighting.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who's ADD?

It's Wednesday again and I planned to go to Bible Study this morning. But as I was preparing to leave, I noticed that the red bumps on Clara's face that I assumed were bug bites were practically multiplying before my eyes. Baby girl has spots! So no Bible Study for us. We dropped Ben off at school and headed back home, mentally reviewing how I would use the unexpected Ben-free time to get some things done.

First I checked the blogs. Because when I say "Oh. I have time to get some things done", what I really mean is "Oooh. I can check the blog roll!"

Then I headed into the kitchen for more coffee and thought "Wow this kitchen is a mess, I really should clean it!"

So I started loading the dishwasher and wiping down counters and Clara came crawling in whining. Probably because I hadn't fed her.

So I stopped and made her breakfast. Waffles and Banana slices.

Then I started cleaning the kitchen again.

But I figured I should check the living room for stray bottles and sippy cups. And maybe I watched a bit of The Today Show while I was there.

Oops Clara's was whining again. Off I went to go check on her. She's was sitting in her high-chair with her hands raised in the air. Her sign for "I'm done eating now!" So I washed her up and went to put her down, but then I thought. She's still in her PJs. Better fix that.

So I headed off to Clara's room to change her diaper and get her dressed. Which I did.

But then I noticed the pile of clothes on the floor I was sorting to give to my neighbor. So I sat down and started sorting some more. And Clara came to help.

And so we had to play in the clothes.

And she looked so cute, I had to stop and take pictures. Like this one.

But then the camera died so I had to go put it on the charger.

Then I went back to Clara's room and I realized her room really stunk like diapers so I decided to empty the diaper pale.

So I headed off to the kitchen for a trashbag. And another one for the hand-me-downs.

But when I returned to her room and start emptying the diaper pale I noticed her laundry is overflowing. Well, I thought, I better start a load. And I might as well strip her bed while I'm at it.

So I took her basket off to the laundry room. But when I got to the laundry room I realized the clothes in the dryer needed fluffing before I could fold them. So I turned the dryer back on and decided to fold the clothes in the basket.

I started to fold the clothes in the basket and then noticed they had ANTS on them. The clean clothes in the basket were full of ants.


Oh, well I was planning on doing an ant treatment anyway. So I headed out to the garage to get the ant spray I bought 3 months ago. I went in the kitchen to figure out how to attach the sprayer thingy.

But then I realized I never loaded the dishwasher. But once I started that again, Clara came in whining. Again. And I thought 'She should take a nap while I am spraying for ants so she doesn't get in the spray.'

So I took her to her room but then realized she didn't have sheets on her bed, because I had just stripped them.

So I went to the linen closet to get sheets and remade her bed.

And then noticed the pile of clothes for the neighbor still on the floor, next to the bag from the diaper pale. So I started stuffing those in the other bag, until I have time to sort through the rest.

And the room still stunk so I take the bag of diapers out to the garage.

And when I walk through the kitchen, I see the bug spray and say 'Oh, right ants.' So I started spraying the house for ants. Until I got to Clara's room and found her playing again in the clothes I just bagged up for the neighbor.

So I put the clothes back in the bag, put the bag in the hall and put Clara in bed.

Then I headed out of her room and stood there a moment bewildered. What was I doing? So I walk back the the computer to check for comments on my post. After I have read those. And cried. The comments on yesterdays post made me bawl. I head into the kitchen for more coffee and think:

"Wow this kitchen is still a big mess. I really should clean it."

And I did.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Letting Go

Like most people, before I had children I had some naive beliefs about what kind of parent I would be. I was even so bold in my ignorance as to voice some of my asinine opinions aloud. I was always spouting off random bits of stupidity like :

"My child will never walk around with a pacifier in it's mouth."
"My child will never run around all dirty and sticky like an orphan"
"My child will never shout at me"
"My child will eat what I put on their plate." God must have really had a chuckle at that one.

And, like most people, I had children of my own and my idealistic bubbles burst one by one.

Pop. Pop. Pop.

Until I was left with nothing but the knowledge that parenting requires grace. Lots of grace, both in the giving and receiving department.

And some humble pie.

However, one misconception that I unknowingly managed to hold on to over the years, was the belief that wild trouble-making teenagers were the result of poor parenting. Whenever I heard of these kids, or saw them when I was out, my mind immediately went to the obvious deficiencies of their parents. They must be too lenient or give too much freedom. They must be too pampering or uninvolved. Their child must not have been raised in a home with strong morals, in a house that loves God. Because deep down I still believed that good parents had good kids. Plain and simple.

You would think I would have learned my lesson with the pacifier thing.

Over the last year - as I have been unable
to pray
or love
or punish
or beg
or micromanage
or bribe
or homeschool
my teenage son back onto the right path - that belief has crumbled as well. Or maybe my belief in myself has, chiseled away by my own damned impotence. Because either it's all completely out of my hands, this raising children thing, or I wasn't the parent I thought I was.

And whichever truth is valid, I can not help but be heartsick. And angry.

And no I haven't given up hope for my boy. I know that a troubled youth doesn't disqualify him for an abundant, successful life someday. But I have given up believing that there is anything I can do that will make much of a difference at this point. And that powerlessness, it makes me want to scream. Because I want something to do. Some way to fix this.

Something besides just pray. Did I really just type "JUST PRAY"?

So obviously there is a lesson in this for me. A lesson about letting go, and giving this up to God. About believing He can do what I couldn't, what I have failed at so completely. But it's a lesson I am fighting tooth and nail. Because fixing it is what I do. And not being able to, it just plain hurts.

Because I'm his mom.

Because, Lord, I'm his mom.

I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
Psalm 59:16

Sunday, September 23, 2007

6 Happy Tidbits from my Weekend.

1. My friend Melissa emailed me and volunteered to watch my children so The Man and I could go on a date. Let me say that again. She VOLUNTEERED to give up her Friday or Saturday night to come and hang out with my kids so we could get away from them, together. I have a teenager, a pre-adolescent girl, a 3 year old boy and a baby. It goes without saying that people are not standing in line to watch them. It's really too bad Melissa's already my BFF because this move would definitely have moved her up in the queue.

2. I went on a date with my husband. I fixed my hair and did my makeup. I squeezed my apple-bottom into a pair of jeans that weren't quite so tight the last time I wore them and a shirt that actually required ironing, Oh and I wore high-heels. The weather was so gorgeous it seemed a sin to stay inside so we hunted down a patio where we had a long dinner which may even have included a martini. Sigh. After which went to a movie. A movie that was so awful I refuse to embarrass myself by disclosing it's name. But we got to laugh about how awful it was the rest of the night, which in itself was kinda fun.

3. I got hit-on, on my date with my husband. Because we were on the patio, it was necessary to walk through the bar to get to the ladies room. And because I have delivered 3 children and now have a bladder the size of a pea, I had to go to the ladies room often. And on one of my trips through the bar someone tried to pick me up. Now I am a slightly overweight, mother of four children who has been married for eleven years. So I am not gonna lie, I was tickled pink. And yes, the man's judgement may have been a bit skewed by the beer-goggles he was wearing, but did I allow that to burst my bubble? Oh no. I practically skipped back to The Man to regale him with the story of his wife's irresistibleness. He assured me this is not news to him. My guy is no fool.

4. I took a two-hour nap and finally finished my book. Need I say more?

5. I won a contest! It was a random drawing hosted by the fabulous BooMama and I won a Shane & Shane CD. I have no idea who Shane & Shane are - beyond the fact that they are Christian artists - but just based on BooMama's gushing review, I cannot wait to receive it. Plus I won something. There is just something about winning something that makes you want to do a little happy dance. Which I did.

6. Allison wrote a story. Well she started to write a story. She's four pages in and hasn't finished it yet. It meanders all over and it's full of over-the-top descriptions and flowery phrases but in the midst of it are little gems like this:
"As morning arrived at the Tuck’s shack, Mae leaped out of bed, and flew outside. For Mae wanted to enjoy this day, for it was another day; and another day always has a chance of being better than the day before."

which, because I am her mother, I find can't help but find perfectly precocious and charming. (And yes, she did just finish reading Tuck Everlasting,) I sure do love that dramatic, dreamy girl of mine.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

One hour and twenty-nine minutes.

Wednesday mornings at our house are always particularly hairy. I drop Ben off at school and then Clara and I have to be at Bible Study. No carpool lane in our PJs on Wednesdays. I have to have us all out the door packed and presentable because we have to be at the church 20 minutes after drop-off. And if things go smoothly, it's doable.

Stop it. I can hear you chuckling from here.

But this Wednesday, I started our get-out-the-door morning routine a bit late. Because I was~~ yep you guessed it~~ reading blogs. So I got the children dressed and deposited them at the table. A cut up banana for Clara, dry cereal for Ben and off I rushed to attempt to find something presentable to wear. Something that fits. That's becoming quite a challenge these days.

It was 8:22 AM.

Finally dressed in something that semi-fits, I was frantically trying to cover the dark circles (from staying up too late blogging~are we sensing a theme here?) I hear squealing and laughing from the kitchen. Now at your house, children laughing together alone in a room might bring thoughts of sibling bonding. Here it elicits something more like terror.

Oh no. What's so funny? What are they destroying?

I dashed into the kitchen and found Ben roaring in laughter while Clara mashed Bananas into her hair. The more he laughed the more she mashed.

"Clara NO!" I moaned. And then proceeded to listen to her scream in rage and terror as I washed her head in the kitchen sink. Finally calmed, dried and dressed in another outfit, I put her down and ran back to my bathroom to change my own, now sodden, shirt and finish the makeup process. Meanwhile I start shouting instructions at Ben from across the house.

Me: Ben go get your shoes so we can go to school.
Ben: I don't want to go school, I'm pwaying wif Cwara.
Me: Yes you do Ben, you love school.
Ben: Noooo! I wanta pway wif Cwara.
Me: Ben, come here.
Me: (really yelling now) Ben, come here now! Ben sulks into the my bathroom. I stop, mid-mascara-ing and look at him. Ben, get your shoes now or mommy will have to give you a consequence.
Ben: I need my choices.
Me: Deep breath. Deep breath. You can either go and get your shoes or you can stand in the corner.
Ben: I choose go get my shoes.
Me: Good choice. They are in your bathroom.

Ben runs off to get his shoes. Immediately happy again. I attack my other eye with Mascara and look at the clock. It's now 9:02. School starts at 9:00. Bible Study starts at 9:30. Ehhh? So we'll be a few minutes late.

As I am looking for my own shoes, Ben starts yelling from his bathroom. "Mommy! Cwara put a diaper in the toywet!"


I dash off to that bathroom and find Ben and Clara both looking in the toilet. Clara has used the rim (seat-up mind you) to pull herself up and is swishing a diaper around inside. Ben's just standing there. He looks at me and says,

"See, I towd you"

I can feel my blood pressure rising, at this point. Trying really hard not to yell, I grab Clara, plop her down on the ground and remove the soggy diaper from the toilet. I scrub all of our hands with disinfecting soap, shove Ben's shoes on his feet and drag both my children, whining, out to the car. I put them in their seats, and run back inside for their backpacks. I get back in the car and start to back up. It's 9:14.

"Arggghhh" I forgot my Bible Study Bag.

I stop the car and run back inside for my bag. Get back in the car and slam it back into reverse.

And I pull out of my garage, and back RIGHT INTO OUR BASKETBALL GOAL.

"Crap! Crap! Crap! Crap! Crap!" I yell, tears coming to my eyes. So much for
removing that word from my vocabulary.

I sit for a minute and cry as Ben asks repeatedly from the back seat "Did you cwash, Mommy? Did you cwash the car?" Finally, I take a deep breath, and say a prayer asking God for His peace, and do a momentary mental assessment.

'This is okay. Ben can be late for school. That's okay. It's not the end of the world. I can be late for Bible Study. That's okay too. I wasn't going very fast when I backed up, I am sure the goal and the car are okay. I can look at it later. Just calm down.'

I feel a bit better now, and I start the process for the third time of pulling out of my driveway. We get almost out of the neighborhood and Ben says:

"Mom. You forgot to buckle me!"

Now I am not going to lie to you. Ben's school is just around the corner, and I almost didn't stop. But I did. I stopped the car, just short of actually getting out of the neighborhood, and buckled Ben into his five-point-harness.

Back into the car again, I dropped Ben off at preschool 26 minutes late.

Clara is crying at this point because, as we all know. she hates the car. And she particularly hates it when her brother gets out of the car and leaves her behind. So I continue down the road with my crying child, trying hard to find that peace I prayed for.

And then we are at my church. I bring Clara into the preschool building and sign her in. I then drop her off, wailing, at a class that says "Ones" on the door. The lady looks in her bag and says with a definite frown,

"She doesn't have a sippy cup?"

I kid you not, I was about to lose it at that moment.

"No!" I say through gritted teeth. "Can you just give her some crackers or something?" and I walk away from Clara's crying and think. I have never seen that women before. Why have I never seen that woman before? I look at my sign-in receipt, and realize I have dropped Clara off in the wrong class. I dropped her off in the churches preschool class, not the Bible Study childcare. The tears are threatening to come again, as I turn around and retrieve Clara from the no-sippy-cup lady, who laughs and says,

"Yeah, I was thinking I had never seen her before." ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What kind of preschool do you run here? Clara is happy as a lark to be set free, until I walk her 20 paces down the hall to the class she is supposed to be in. And then she's mad. I mean she is furious. The worker in her class, who I do recognize, says

"Hi Clara. It's okay, honey. Does she have a bag?"

Why yes she does. It's in the sippy-cup-lady's class. So I go down the hall again to retrieve the bag. When I make it back to Clara's class she has stopped crying. So I creep up to the door, trying to avoid being seen, and stick my hand in the room with the bag. "There's no sippy cup I say, defeated." Her teacher, God bless her, takes one look at me:

crouching by the door to her room, hand outstretched, make-up smeared and a definite I-am-about-to-get-psycho look in my eye and says,

"Oh that's okay honey. She'll be fine. It'll be just fine."

Her grandmotherly kindness was just too much for me, and I burst into tears. For the second time that morning. Then I sucked it up and walked off to Bible Study.

It was 9:51.

The rest of the day?

It was just lovely.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Semi-Wordless Wednesday

Ben's new shirt

A Public Service Announcement

I guess I should share that I had no idea that "Mr. Mischief" was a character in a book or TV show when I purchased the shirt. I just bought it because Ben is known for the many creatively mischievous things he does and I thought it would be funny. I've never actually heard of "Mr. Men" until I Wikipedia'd it today.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"In the middle of the night
Miss Clavel turned on the light
and said, "Something is not right!" ~Ludwig Bemelmans (from "Madeline")
I have felt it for a week now, this nagging feeling. If you could even call it a feeling, more like a sense or a whisper. A quiet tap, tap, tapping on my soul. Something is not right.

She was spending so much time alone. But that in itself wasn't entirely unusual. She's always been a bit of a loner. Residing in a world of her imagination. Like her literary hero, Anne Shirley, she can occupy herself for hours with nothing but her mind. I've always loved that about her.

Yet still, something was off. Her smile was a bit more reserved. Her laughter a bit less free.

I've tried to ask her, to probe a bit and see if it was just my imagination. If it was just my typical tendency to worry. She assured me nothing was amiss, but even in her denial, I felt it. The tapping again.

So tonight when she was sitting outside I went and sat with her. I asked her about school.

"Fine" she says.

I asked her about her classes.

"They're okay. Kinda boring. My teachers are nice though."

I've heard all this before. No news here. Nothing to worry about. "Are you still hanging out with your new friend, Shelby?" I ask. Still probing.

"No not really" she said evasively.

"Why not?"

"Um........She's kinda mean. And all she cares about is boys and being popular." The tapping was a louder now. I knew being friends with Shelby was a relief to her. Her other friends had not ended up in her classes.

"Oh." I said. "So who are you friends with now?"

She looked down at the ground and shrugged her shoulders.

And in that gesture, that one insecure, embarrassed gesture... my heart cracked in two.

I recently read another post on this topic by
Painted Maypole. Her daughter is only in kindergarten. This seems to be just a rite of passage for our children. Learning how to deal with cruelty in the world. Gladly I would sacrifice that lesson.

I am sorry Allie girl, that the world is not an kinder place.

I am sorry that I can not make it so.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fifteen year old logic.

This morning Brandon, my 15-year-old, missed the high school bus. Again. I think this is the 4th time he has missed the bus this year. It could be the 5th. His bus comes at 6:20 each morning and when he misses it he receives a day of grounding for not being responsible. He also gets to experience the singular joy of riding to school with me after he wakes me up and requires me to awaken Ben & Clara to load them up in the car. Without coffee.

It's not pretty.

So today, instead of waking me up he decided, unbeknownst to me, to try to avoid the consequences and walk the 7 miles to his school. He walked what I estimate to be over 3 miles. He then decided he was tired and it was just too far to walk so he stopped for a while at a convenience store and attempted to reach me on his cell phone.

Having no luck he turned around and walked the over 3 miles back home.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


It's beautiful here in Georgia today. The heatwave of the last couple months has finally broken and the blistering oppression of the sun has softened into a gentle enveloping warmth. I had almost forgotten what a friend it's embrace can be. Last night's long awaited rains have left everything misty, and bushes sparkle with drying raindrops. On days like today, it's hard for me to imagine that anyone could question the existence of God. My own heart reaches for someone to thank for the beauty that seems suddenly intrinsic in everything around me. And I offer a private benediction to my Father, one that is long past due. In the calm of this morning, the things I am thankful for suddenly seem limitless. A list too long to number.

I come inside to sit at my kitchen table, as I do every morning. Wrapping my hands around the warmth of my favorite coffee cup I look wearily at the crumbs and spills trailed across the table. The worship of the moment before begins to fade as I feel a well-known irritation start to creep into my consciousness.

Suddenly I am hit with a pang of awareness and remorse at the grumbling I engage in each day.


How can I sit at this table each morning and see the crumbs waiting to be cleaned, and not the five other seats that will, later that day, be filled by people I love? People (my husband, my children) I prayed for long before we ever met. Each of them an answer to a prayer. How can I walk into this kitchen and grumble? How is it I see only the peeling wallpaper and dirty cabinets and not notice that everywhere, stashed in every nook and corner are fragments of the love my life is full of:

A coffeemaker my mother gave me for Christmas even though it was over her budget. Because I really wanted it.

A highchair where my two babies ate each meal. Milestones were reached in that chair and some may yet be.

A pottery bowl on my counter, carried back from Germany by my dearest friend when she came back home where she belonged.

A fridge wallpapered with photographs of smiling friends, and children. Beautiful children, I have been blessed enough to love. And artwork drawn by little people with clumsy hands. And hearts still too young to know hate or unforgiveness.

Wineglasses I bought to host a celebration for a friend who just found out she would be a mother.

A little indoor grill my husband, my lover, my harbor, uses to make his lunch every single day.

A needlepoint picture it took my friend two years to make, just for me.

Dishes waiting to be washed from a meal I never once had to worry would be sufficient to feed my family.

A calendar, overflowing with appointments, lunch dates, meetings, practices and rehearsals, each of them representing, a passion, a need, a desire, a talent of the people who carry my heart in their pockets.

And everywhere I look, greasy grey smudges. A finger here. A palm there. By the entryway door an entire hand has left it's mark. A tiny hand. One I hold so often in my own because it's too small to walk alone.

And crumbs.

Crumbs from a late night snack my daughter ate with her friend, while they giggled together; and I watched them with a smile and the wistful memory of the unbridled joy of being eleven.

Lord forgive me for walking into this room. This sanctum of our family. This shrine to the chaotic beauty you have filled our lives with, and seeing only crumbs.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Another School Project

When Brandon was in second grade he was assigned a project where he had to research Uranus. He then had to complete a travel brochure on his planet, following specific guidelines. This was to be done entirely at home. By a second grader.

I learned a lot about Uranus that week. Some of which I even remember. Like that it's really cold. And has rings and lots of moons. And it spins on it's side. That's pretty cool, I think. I asked Brandon what he remembers and he said:

"We did a project on Uranus?"

And so began my longstanding abhorrence of school projects. Oh I know there are probably parents who relish the opportunity to spend evenings researching and illustrating parts of our solar system. You know, just for the enjoyment of learning. And turning that information into a travel brochure. In case someone would like to travel there. I, for one, am just glad we were not assigned Pluto, because that's not even a real planet anymore. Who would even want to go there now? Our travel brochure would be useless.


Over the years I have presided over assisted my children in project after project after project. We have made musical instruments, paper mache planets and mummies. We have researched the effects different additives have on daisies. Twice. We have made more dioramas, posters, mobiles, collages, cereal box/shoe box art than I can count. I have spent hours helping them navigate Google and printers and excel spreadsheets. I know the children are supposed to do, or at least be capable of doing, these projects themselves. Or with "nominal parental supervision", but that just doesn't happen. Ever. And the time we spend together doing them, it just isn't that enjoyable. I wouldn't really call it bonding at all. It more often resembles me herding them along obnoxiously. Like cattle with a prod.

So when I went to Ben's 3-year-old preschool open house and the teacher informed us that we would have a project due the first two weeks of school, I was immediately on edge. Really? A project for a three year old? Maybe you would like him to do a timeline on the potty training process? Or 3-D model of Sesame Street? (Yes, I am a bit jaded).

But it turned out they just wanted him to make a house out of a shoe box (okay they wanted ME to make a house out of a shoe box) and glue pictures of his family on it. So the children can use it to tell about themselves. Okay, I admitted, that didn't seem too tough. And it serves a purpose. Ben even seemed excited about it.

Yesterday we made the house. We covered it with paper and I drew a door and windows and he colored all over it. Then he helped me choose pictures of each of us out of the albums and he glued them around the house. I would even go as far as to say it was kinda fun.

No. It was "bery" fun.

Ben was incredibly proud of the way it turned out and he showed it to everyone. We immediately had to go down to "The Man's" office to show him. He showed Brandon and Allie when they got off their buses. And an hour later, he showed them again.

This morning, he brought it to school. He slid out of the car and held it up for his teacher to see. His face was glowing and he was bouncing with excitement. He said,

"Look what I made! This is my house. This is my family"

And he pointed to the pictures of each of us and explained to her who we were. And, oh, the pride in his voice. The pride in himself and the house we made. And in his family, our family, that belongs to him.

It brought tears rushing to my eyes.

And I decided that maybe, sometimes, school projects aren't so bad after all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Here it is already.

Oh for goodness sake!

I have been working on a post about the beach for three days. I have attempted wittiness, I have attempted sentimental, and I have failed dismally at both. I have come to the conclusion that I am too long winded to consolidate a four day trip into a few paragraphs and I am sick of trying.

So here it is, in a nutshell:

Clara cried. All the way there, all the way back, and a good part of the time in between. Clara cried. By the time we arrived home on Sunday night we were all ready to strap her to the luggage rack. (How's that for a WME statement.) Between the crying, and sometimes in spite of it, we had a good time.

Now here's some pictures of my kids at the beach. A whole slew of pictures because my four kids are never all together in one place. And because the relatives will like seeing them. And because I think they are cute.

Clara's first time at the ocean. Almost no crying on the beach. Praise God.

Great! Now I can get back to blogging about the mundane and the ridiculous. Because that's where I feel at home.

The End.

Clara's end. A very cute end.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My suspicions are confirmed. (REVISED)

I am always complaining that no one in my home ever listens to me. Honestly, it's like I am an idiot or speaking another language. My older kids will look right at me when I am talking and come away with no comprehension of what I just said. Then when I ask why they didn't do the thing I asked them to, or why they didn't know what they needed to, they do one of two things. They pretend they heard me and just forgot, (Sometimes I think I may just ban the words "I forgot" from this household altogether) or they try to act like I never said it in the first place. But I know the truth. They just tune me out, certain, in the way of adolescents everywhere, that I couldn't possibly be saying anything worth listening to. And well, it's aggravating.

Today the little ones and I went grocery shopping to restock the house after our beach trip. When I returned home Brandon was home from high school and sitting on the couch watching TV. Clara was grouchy and Ben needed a nap. So I said,

"Brandon, please bring in the groceries. And then I need you to put them away. I need to feed Clara and get Ben down for his nap"

I then proceeded to do what I needed to and when I finally made it back to the kitchen to check on how Clara was doing on her lunch I noticed all the grocery bags melting on the counters. Brandon was back in front of the TV. Exasperated, I barked at him,

"Brandon! What are you doing? I asked you to put the groceries away! Weren't you listening to me?!"

To which he responded:

"I was listening. I heard you say 'Bring the groceries in from the car' and then I heard 'blah, blah, blah'."

Oh yes he did. He totally did.

And I think I liked it better when he at least pretended.

It is a testament to my inadequacies as a writer that I did not even attempt to convey the tone in which Brandon made his statement. It was a wry confession given in laughter, not spite. He was, in his typically humorous, and slightly callous, way admitting that he had tuned me out after the first sentence. I didn't laugh about it then, because I was irritated and really wanted contrition not humor. But this evening, when thinking back on it, I did find it funny. It was very much a retort The Man would have given me while confessing he wasn't listening. But I am still not quite comfortable having that dynamic with my son. Even my teenage son. Maybe especially my teenage son.

And I am sure my response was nothing witty. Just more barking about how much easier things would be for him if he would learn how to listen. Typical mom babble.

Heh. No wonder he tunes me out.

Back from the Beach

I'm back. It was a wonderful time.

Well, mostly it was a wonderful time.


Okay. Some parts of the trip were wonderful. I'll leave it at that for now. I have a post started about it, but for now, I have laundry and Bible Studies and countless other things to catch up on. When did taking such a short vacation become so much work? Before the trip. During. After. An incredible amount of work.

Ah yes. I think it was when we had four children. That seemed like such a good idea at the time. Heh.

No really, They're worth it. All of them. Worth all of it.

Anyway, I also have blogs to catch up on. Which I may or may not get to today. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Gone to the beach...

Be back next week.

In the meantime check out the links in my sidebar under "Hidden Treasures." There's some great stuff in there this week.

Bada Bling

I have never been someone that needs to do things exactly right. A perfectionist? Detail oriented? These are not words people would generally use to describe me. I am more of an "Ehhh? Seems good enough to me" type personality as evidenced by my dusty home, weedy lawn and the typos I am always finding in my old posts. (Sorry about those by the way, I'll try to proof better.) So imagine my surprise when Sarah, over at "In the Trenches..." informed me that she had selected me as the August winner of The Perfect Post Award.

Me! A perfect post? I was shocked. And obviously quite flattered.

Anyway, the post that she selected as the winner was "Am I my blog?" which is somewhat ironic because it was an attempt to respond to a post I read over at Hireath and a departure from the sentimental drivel about my children I typically write. And after I wrote it I wondered if it was silly. I still do a bit. I certainly never thought it would earn me some bloggy bling.

Perfect Post Award for August 2007

So thanks to Sarah for the award. For making me smile and for encouraging me to step out of my writing box more often. But don't worry, there will never be a shortage of sentimental drivel.
Ya know, in case you were worried.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The End

I am tired of writing posts about my cats. Because it's sad. And I don't want to be sad. We are leaving Thursday for our first family vacation in 2 years and I want to be excited. Or my version of excited, which is more like frantic. Scrambling, washing, packing, shopping, getting everything ready to go.

But I feel like one last cat post is required. To wrap it up, to finish the story.

I took Dodger and had him put to sleep this morning after dropping Ben off at preschool. I had Clara with me and maybe that was better. Maybe trying to deal with her kept me from being in the moment, I don't know. But, for whatever reason, making the decision to let Dodger go was harder than actually doing it. I felt like in the end, I did what was right for him. The vet confirmed it was time and I held his head in my hands until he was gone. He died happy and loved and I didn't even cry. Although I teared up some when Clara said "Bye Bye" to him when we left.

Allison is taking it harder though. She left for school this morning in tears, knowing it was the last time she would see him. She cried again this afternoon when she returned and he wasn't there. And angry, at the injustice that there wasn't another option.

She loved Dodger the most. She's the one who will really miss him. My own feelings in this scenario are shallow and vague in comparison. But even she, in the way of a child, is already a bit better tonight. And tomorrow she will be better still. The excitement of our vacation overshadowing her grief. Planning, and packing, and dreaming sufficient to eclipse the sadness in her mind. Not completely, of course. Not nearly completely. But enough. Enough, that I can see that she will be just fine.

Sweetness and bitterness. Love and grief. Anger and eventually healing. Dodger's story is an old one with an ending I know by heart.

Goodbye Dodgeball.

Allie saying goodbye.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Three-day-Threes! (EDITED)

This is a happy post. A h-a-p-p-y Post!

I can hear the collective sigh of relief from the blogosphere. No lamenting, or tears, or apologizing. Just giddiness.

Ben started 3 year old preschool today.

Oh, I know you are all apprehensively recalling the tear laden post from Allison's first day of school, (it was an emotional month wasn't it?) but you will find none of that here. Ben and I have been counting down the days until he could start 3-day-threes. 2-day-twos was a roaring success last year and he couldn't wait to go back. In fact, his excitement last night was so overwhelming he couldn't stop jumping. Everywhere he went he was jumping. And saying "I don't want to wait til tomorrow, I want to go to school today!" He even told his father all about the grapes I was packing in his tacky "Cars" lunchbox. (Oh yes, I totally caved.)

He won't eat the grapes. Not a one. But they will be not-eaten at school. And that makes them marvelous.

And who could be unhappy in the midst of such rapture? And 3.5 Ben-free-hours, 3-days-a-week. Oh yes, there was a momentary twinge as he hopped out of the car and waved goodbye this morning. A twinge of "There goes my big boy. Sigh. He won't miss me at all" but a twinge was all it was. Because he is a big boy. And he won't miss me at all!

Here's the pictures of him this morning. They aren't the best. He wasn't really all about the pictures as they were delaying the moment he was going to get in the van.

To go to school.

(Edited to add silly pictures taken when he returned home from school and was reunited with Clara. A morning apart did them a world of good!)

A decision about Dodger

Dodger stopped eating this weekend. The pills I shove down his throat each morning to try to slow the spread of the cancer seem to have come too late. So, last night I sat with him on the kitchen floor and tried to entice him to eat a treat, or a piece of turkey and he just looked at it, and sniffed it, clearly wanting what his body wouldn't allow him to have. And The Man and I made the decision that it was time, time to call the vet about having him put to sleep.

And I sat there and held him, boney and foreign feeling and bawled like a baby. I am embarrassed of my fickle emotions. And shocked actually. I barely noticed Dodger until a few weeks ago when we found out he was sick. It feels silly to be so heartbroken about him leaving us.

But then this morning he was hovering around my feet, meowing for the treats that come with his medicine. And he ate them, all of them, and whined for more. And I had a spark of hope that maybe I could postpone the goodbyes for another week or two. But we are going out of town this week, and I cannot leave him in this sickly emaciated state. A dead cat would be too much for the neighborhood kid who feeds our animals to deal with. And he's not going to get better. It would just be postponing the inevitable.

So it's time. The older kids are both out of town this weekend so when they return tonight we will tell them it is time to say goodbye to our old cat. Our kitty whom I loved a lot once and then, I'm sad to say, mostly complained about and ignored. I am sorry I didn't love you more when I had the chance.

I'll be sorry to see you go.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

An Alphabetical Account

A besotted child dances,
Fans gushing Hallelujah
in jubilation.

Lifting many needs.
Obeisantly praising.

Quiet restoration.

"Trust, unfinished vessel,
xpect your Zenith"

This morning my dearest friend Melissa (known as the sarcastic "spaz" around here) and I attended a concert put on by our local Christian radio station. It was a lovely time and I came home refreshed and sunburned.

I decided to commemorate it with a challenge presented by Slouching Mom. A poem written with one word for each letter of the alphabet. In order. It was challenging, but fun.


I took a bit of liberty with "x". Pesky letter.

Give it a try. But if you do, let us know so we can read it.