Monday, April 28, 2008

Peace that passes understanding

One night, a few weeks ago, our area was hit with an impressive system of spring thunder storms. Several neighboring communities were damaged by tornadoes as a result of the storm system, but we were fortunate enough to be missed. This was particularly a blessing because it never occurred to me to wake my sleeping brood and move them to the safety of our basement. As I lay awake that night listening to the lightning serrate the sky and our house shake beneath me, my concern was only for the sleep of my children. I listened expectantly for their cries through the monitor. They never came. The storm passed and I wriggled my way back down into the covers, thankful for a few more hours left to sleep.

The next morning over breakfast, I questioned Ben about the storms. "Did you hear the thunder last night, Ben?" I asked him. "It was loud. Did it wake you up?"

"Yes" he responded quietly. "Very loud"

"Oh!" I said surprised. "You did hear it! It didn't scare you then?" I prepared to praise his bravery.

Ben sighed dramatically. "Ye-ah. I was scared. I crawled under my bed, and den it was over. I don't like funder"

"Ben!", I cried. "Why didn't you come get me?"

"I can come get you?"

"Oh Baby. Of course you can" And I gently explained to him how he was allowed to get out of his bed if he really needed us. Or if something frightened him.

"But not to play." Ben replied cheerfully.

"Nope. Not to play." I laughed and I planted a big kiss on his cheek.

I thought about this conversation all the rest of the week. The idea of Ben hiding, frightened, under his Bed because he didn't know he could run to me, hurt my heart. I wished that I had gone to check on him. I hated that he had chosen to suffer all alone, rather than come to me for comfort.

Eventually God started revealing to me how often I am like Ben; worrying, and agonizing over circumstances or decisions, yet failing to stop and seek comfort in my heavenly Father. Is it possible that He, like me, is grieved that I am choosing to suffer alone rather than cast my burdens upon him?

A good friend of mine has been going through a very difficult time in her life. For several days in a row I spoke with her and she was fraught and even nauseous with worry about an upcoming event. Then yesterday I spoke to her again, and the change in her was immediately apparent. She told me honestly, that she had spent some time the night before on her knees. Crying out to God and seeking His peace, and she had received it. It was almost like I could picture her spirit running into her Father's arms in the middle of the night for protection from the storms. And I could imagine His relief at finally being able to give it to her.

Philippians 4:6-7
tells us.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
And while I have known this verse for most of my life, I feel as if I am seeing it for the first time. We cannot stay hiding alone under our beds in the storm and wonder why we do not have His peace. It is apparent to me now that casting my cares upon Him must be something I do daily, diligently, as I find myself becoming troubled. Stopping in the midst of the chaos to seek Him. And ask for the peace of God to transcend my own understanding and guard my heart and mind against my worldly circumstances. For that is what our father is longing to give us.

How awesome is that!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ~John 14:27

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mi casa, Su casa

I have often made the comment that our garage is so dirty and cluttered that small animals have moved in and set up home. However - despite the fact that each spring a colony of bumblebees sets up a nest in the framework - this declaration was made in jest. The animals moving in part was in jest, the slovenly state of our garage was sadly, not. Recently though, my jesting has turned prophetic.

Do you see this artfully arranged cluster of an even-freecyclers-didn't-want-it-infant-seat, two flat basketballs and a random shoe? Klassy isn't it?
I think the fact that they are sitting on a broken chipboard dresser between bed rails and a shower frame really gives it that extra-special somethin'.

And now, lets look closer shall we? A nest. A momma bird found our disarray cozy and has indeed set up home. There was a brief talk of moving the nest until further inspection revealed this:
Eggs. Those are eggs. (Badly photographed in an effort not to disturb them.)

The chaotic children and I were delighted. We go out daily, much to the mama-bird's dismay, to check on their progress. We make certain the garage door stays open until far after dark to assure the mama's return, and is opened bright and early for her morning constitutional.

And best of all...We now have an actual excuse for not cleaning our garage. We are preserving nature, people!

And who said we aren't green?


The Random Number Generator selected:


So the winner of my favorite things Giveaway is Laurel Wreath!

And...for something more is World Malaria Day.

And through Compassion International people can give a one-time donation of $10 and provide a mosquito net for a child - or a family, if they’re all sleeping in the same place - who otherwise would have no protection from this completely preventable disease. That $10 will also provide education and treatment for people who are already sick with malaria.
We have sponsored a child with Compassion International for seven years and I can't say enough about this organization. So Click the "Bite Back" button above to head over to BooMama's place to read more about it. It's just ten bucks people.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Reminder...

The Joy in Chaos Favorite Things Giveaway ends tomorrow (Thursday) night. So leave a comment here if you are interested.

And in the meantime, for the relatives: Here's an "I" poem my Allie-girl wrote tonight. Because I think it's melodramatic and sweet and totally her.

“I” Poem

I am a treat, a quite unexpected surprise
I wonder why industrialization is consistently required today, but never before
I hear “Allison, how can EVERONE be your best friend?!"
I want a kitten I curl up with at night
I am a treat, a quite unexpected surprise

I pretend I’m an actress, like ones from black & white dramas
I feel inspired to learn more about people and their lives
I touch the leaf of a lilac and the dew drips on my fingers
I worry an explosion will wipe us out before our time ends
I am a treat, a quite unexpected surprise

I understand that things don’t always have happy endings
I say that anyone should have his or her own free rights
I dream of leaving my troubles and experiencing freedom
I try to give advice to the ones I love the most
I hope that I can give my best effort in making the world a better place
I am a treat, a quite unexpected surprise

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Someone, please press pause...

Clara turned twenty-one months last week; three-quarters of a way through her second year of life.
She's officially a walker now. The Man and I just discussed it and came to the conclusion that 68% of the time she chooses to walk instead of knee-walk. Yes, 68%. I thought it was a less than 70, he thought it was a bit more. Our guesses were drearily predictable in this. He will always be the optimist. I adore him for that.

But just look at her!

Look at her bee-bopping around our cheap, tacky deck furniture like nobody's business. In just a couple weeks she has made a complete breakthrough. I am mesmerized by her. I could watch her determined, see-sawing gate forever.

Today she had her official evaluation for the early intervention program. The Man thought we should have cancelled it due to her current 68% walking rate and her increased fluidity and ease in doing so. I couldn't bring myself to do it though, because of how long it took me to get it scheduled. Their official findings:
"Clara has made significant progress with independent ambulation over the past 2-3 weeks. She does not demonstrate any delays in communication, social, adaptive, cognitive or fine motor. Her gross motor delays are due to her delay with walking. Her mother agrees to give her time to mature her gait cycle before she will progress with these high level skills. Child is not eligible for services at this time."
So that's that. No therapy for my girl. And I am perfectly fine with that. Thrilled actually, that their opinion was the same as ours.

But, oh my baby! What has happened to her in the last 3 months since I did her 18 month update? She's so different now. It's like her infantness is slipping away before of my eyes. She talks up a storm. She says "Iwan" (I want) followed by any number of commands. "Milk" or "Eat" or "Died" (outside). Allie bought her a doll for $2 at a consignment sale and named it Poppy. "Boppy" is a regular part of a her life now. She loves to sing to her: "Night, night Boppy" in perfect imitation of her own bedtime song. She tries to give "Boppy" her juice and tucks her in under blankets. And every day she asks me "Where's BooBoo? (Ben) Where's Addy (Allie) Where's Daddy?" She's hammy and silly and bursting with personality.

He appetite seems to have slowed down, but she still prefers to eat mostly fruits and veggies and dairy. Her new favorite food is cheese. She begs for it all day long and her very convincing "PEEEEEESE" makes me cave a bit more than I should.

It's true that she is still sassy and strong willed, and prone to occasional violent outbursts. She spends a good bit of time in time-out in her room for her temper. And some days, many days, she has me climbing the walls. But, oh, how I love this stage she is in now. Each day learning new words, new steps, new ideas.

I just wish that I could pause it. Just for a few days. A week. A month. Let me learn by heart every little nuance of how she is this moment, before it slips away and is replaced by another. Wonderful and miraculous in it's own right, but heartbreaking in its unfamiliarity.

Keep walking Clara-bear. Just don't go too far.
Not yet.

Monday, April 21, 2008


This is my best shot Monday. Clara was pouting because she couldn't figure out how to wear the bow and a hat at the same time. It's one of life's big dilemmas.

And can I just tell you, I may be a wee bit obsessed with Clara's lips. With their perfect pouty sweetness. And she takes every opportunity to display them to their greatest advantage, puffed out and quivering.

Friday, April 18, 2008

My Favorite Things. A GIVEAWAY

Oh my goodness, people, has it ever been hard for me to get this post up! I am sorry it has taken so long. I have been trying to get to it for days. And your response to my last melancholy post was so kind, I really wanted to get on here an post something upbeat, so you would all know I am over my melodramatics now. I swear.

As I mentioned, to celebrate my 200th (now 201st) post I decided to do a giveaway. I had two obstacles to this. Not knowing what to give and being in a financial situation commonly known as poor as dirt.

I recently noticed several bloggers doing posts on "their favorite things" and I loved them. Because who doesn't want to know someone's favorite "pink-y, nude-y, gloss-y lipstick", or whatever. And so my inspiration was born. I wanted to a giveaway of some of my favorite things. But then I was back to problem #2. None of my favorite things seemed to be free. Well you know besides things like "sunshine" and "grace" and for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to mail those in a box.

SO for the last few weeks I have been on a mission. To obtain some of my favorite stuff for as close to free as possible so I could share it with one of you, my faithful friends and Internet stalkers. And I have to tell you, I have been overwhelmed by my own awesomeness in accomplishing this. I'm just sayin.

Here's what you're gettin:

Audrey Hepburn-
I have a long and unwavering love for Audrey Hepburn movies. Roman Holiday could possibly be my favorite movie ever. And so I am giving away this boxed set, containing not only Roman Holiday but a collection that also includes Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffany's. I found this set for such a steal I had to do a happy dance. Seriously.

Dunkin Donuts Coffee -
It's no secret I love coffee and I have particularly had a thing for the Dunkin Donuts variety since highschool. And even through I am as inclined as the next person to drive through for a non-fat, half-calf Venti whatchamgig, I still think they make the best plain old Cupa Joe in town. And now I can buy it at my grocery store. AND EVEN BETTER, at my price club in 3lb bags! 3 pounds of Dunkin Donuts caffeinated goodness at a discount rate. My heart could hardly stand it! I'm just giving away 1lb though. Shipping costs and all.

Kate DiCamillo-

Kate DiCamillo is a new love of mine. Two of her books, The Tale of Despereaux and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane are acclaimed by Allison as "the best books ever!" Allie had been nagging me to read them for years and when I finally did I was blown away. The simple, sometimes dark but enchanting stories, carry in them strong life lessons and are, I think, destined to go down in history as remarkable children's literature. And I have to tell you, even as an adult, I still found them a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. I am giving away a gently used (from my favorite used book store - I'm not giving you my copy) but still in great shape Newberry Medal winning The Tale of Despereaux.

Reeses Pieces -
And last but not least this old family favorite of ours. There is nothing I like better when watching a movie (say an Audrey Hepburn Marathon) than popcorn with Reeses Pieces in it. You really should try this combination. It's heavenly.

So that's it. Movies, a book, coffee & candy. If you want to be entered in this giveaway just leave a comment on this post. You do NOT have to have a blog to enter but if you don't, please make sure to include your contact information in the comment so I can reach you. So go ahead lurkers, this is your chance to make my day by letting me know you read, and maybe winning something in return.

I will draw a winner for this contest on Friday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This is my 200th post.

Alas, I cannot bring myself to imbue it with the spirit of celebration I had planned. I am sad. My Aunt was in town visiting us from Rochester, NY, this week. A dear, dear aunt, who made my baby quilt, and 30 years later made one for Ben and Clara as well. Who has opened her home many times to invasions of nieces and nephews and slews of little cousins to sleep on sofas and beds, in tents in the yard and on pallets on the floor while forgoing her own sleep to make cookies and breakfasts and do load after load of laundry. Who showed up at my house this week with boxes of my favorite chocolates and gifts for the kids.

Our visit was uneventful. A day spent with the family at a park. An afternoon at the mall picking out shoes for Clara. A visit to my favorite local sandwich shop. And lots of time spent at home with the kids. Or in the kitchen, graciously observing my bumbling attempts at hostessing, while laughing at memories of her last visit when I barely had a knife to chop my vegetables with.

Her last visit...when she came to meet a downy haired, irritable, tiny plucked chicken of a baby boy. The same now-almost-four-year-old who met her again this week and fell, unabashedly, in love with her. Relentless in his desire just to be near her, to impress her, to talk to her and snuggle with her. And who, today when - after dropping her off at the monstrosity of the Atlanta airport - I returned without her, wept; wailing in confusion and despair that "people who are part of our family should stay with us forever!"

And so we had a talk about people we love, like Grandmas and cousins, and favorite aunts, who are part of our family, but live other places. But in my heart I felt as he did. That NY is just too far away for someone we love so much. And four years is a lifetime. I have visited her twice during that period, once alone and once with Allison, but the means to purchase 5 or 6 airline tickets to NY has been beyond us. And I have been unable to muster the fortitude to drive there with toddlers and babies in tow. And so I know that the next time he sees her he will likely be a long legged elementary schooler who may not remember her, this visit, or his fleeting love affair at all. And for that reason, I found myself in tears tonight as well. And wishing that I could, even just occasionally, fold up the distances between us so we could step across.

And in a luckless accident this weekend, my brother fell and broke his leg in several places. Requiring five screws, a slew of painkillers and a two night stay at the hospital. And while he does live close and I have called him several times, I haven't seen him or even actually spoken to him yet. We have, despite growing up in the same home, taken different routes in life. There are no hard feelings between us that I am aware of but, with my life as a stay-at-home-mom and his single and carefree, there seems to be a chasm fueled by different lifestyles that I have been unable to ford. I am worried about him, but I know that when we finally do speak, it will be full of civilities and artifice that should not come with someone you have known since birth. And I hate it.

And I feel tonight as if things are all broken and mixed up and not the way they should be at all. I am wallowing in melancholy that I cannot not rearrange the circumstances of my life to my liking. So, I am putting aside the 200th post celebration/givaway I have planned until tomorrow. And my 201st post. So please forgive me this self-indulgence. It is, after all, the thing that blogging is most often about anyway.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

199 and counting - with update

I am taking a blogging break for a week because I have company coming in town this weekend, and my house looks like it hasn't been cleaned in a month. Which could be because it hasn't been cleaned in a month. So the kids and I will be spending the rest of their spring break spring cleaning. I haven't told them yet. I'm looking forward to it. I live for the pouting and whining.

And when I come back it will be my 200th post. And I am going to celebrate it with my first every Joy-in-Chaos giveaway. Don't get too excited. I'm pretty broke and I am not sure what it will be yet. I am hoping for something that will make you think of me. Maybe one of the children.

And now, just in case you were thinking you couldn't possibly live without pictures of my children for an entire week, I will bestow upon you these photos of my beautiful daughter, Allie, and our comically ugly humane society mutt, Beamer. Who really is sweet, and very loved, even if she is cross eyed and looks like she was made out of spare parts.

Isn't she beautiful? (the girl not the dog).

See you in a week.

Note: I would like to say a very special thank-you to the spammers who have finally found my blog. Who tease my heart into doing a little hiccup when I see 3 new comments in my inbox - because I am needy like that - just to find "Click here" or "I love your blog. Read mine" or even better something in another language with links that lead me to download spam protection. I would find this ironic if it wasn't so irritating since if worked you would all be out of business. And thank you even more, for forcing me to now put stupid, stupid, stupid, word verification on my comments to keep you from leading my few faithful commentors astray as well.

To those who do comment, I apologize that you now have to type in a weird series of numbers and letters that you will inevitably get wrong the first time thus causing your blood pressure to rise a for a minute. Or maybe that's just me. I have put it off as long as I can, but it is a sad state when your spam comments on a post outnumber your legitimate ones.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


So why is it that when you send a desperate, and slightly pathetic, email out to your Sunday school class for someone to meet you for a playdate on spring break and a kind person, whom you hardly know, responds that she has boys the same age; AND when that kindly person suggests that you go to the same park you went yesterday, for play and a picnic and you think "Well that's great. My kids loved that park!"...

Why is it that the same kids who were perfect angels the day before with your friend from high school are suddenly transformed into whiney, clingy, disrespectful heathens in the presence of PEOPLE THEY HAVE NEVER MET! Why is it that your 3-year-old refuses to make friends with her 3-year-old and for some reason feels the need to yell, angrily "WE ALREADY PRAYED!" while her sweet child is singing the blessing? And why is it that your one year old will not be separated from your side for two seconds and your eleven year old decides to argue with everything that comes out of your mouth? WHY is the same playground and picnic area that was Shangri-la the day before now "too hot, too cold, too filled with bees and mean kids?"

I was just wondering...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The dirt's gone...

but the smiles seem to be stuck.

for Wordless Wednesday.

Blessed- UPDATED

It is Spring Break here in Chaos and my home is brimming with children. Teenage boys slumped in the basement in front of video games, still wearing clothing from the day before. Adolescent girls bubbling into the kitchen searching for snacks while complaining about the teenage boys. And the two preschoolers, alternating between irritation with each other and heartache at not being included by the older kids.

A week of this dynamic, replaying ad nauseum, stretched out before me. I started to twitch. I called a friend in desperation and together determined that a change of scenery was in order. I loaded the adolescents (Allie & her friend) and preschoolers (Ben & Clara) into the car. I packed bags of food and drink and blankets. Diapers, wet wipes, and jackets. And headed for the park. We met our friends and Ben gleefully ran, climbed and jumped for hours. Clara determinedly practiced walking on wood chips and was content just to go up and down the same little slide again and again. And the girls walked, arm and arm, through the paths and around the lake talking and whispering and laughing, and looking terribly grown up.

Then all the children, young and old, met up in the sand to build castles and volcanoes. Finally, after a quick scrub down we collapsed onto a worn comforter and ate sandy sandwiches and grapes and goldfish. Juice boxes and girl scout cookies. I visited with my girlfriend and rocked Clara until she was nearly asleep. Thinking, as I lay my cheek against her gritty head and watched Ben scale another rock, that for all the activities spring break has to offer I could not imagine my children and I finding a more satisfactory way to spend a morning. Friends, and nature, food and slides and swings and climby things. And dirt. Lots and lots of dirt. Who could ask for anything more?


Today was a day where I could not imagine wanting to be anywhere else than home with my children. I wish that I could say that I have this feeling every day, or even most days, but home-making is not a calling that has come easy to me. Never ending chores, sibling fights, mundanities, frustrations and tempers, (mine and their's) without outside validation, have driven me to the edge. Repeatedly. But I know that I am where I am supposed to be. And so I pray often for God to help me find the joy in my calling and recognize those irreplaceable moments that take place around me each day.

And so it is, when I have a day like today, that is full of one precious gem of a moment after another, that I cannot help but feel His presence very strongly. It is like I hear him whispering to me, "Do you see? Do you see what I have given you that you grumble and complain about and take for granted? Do you see what you are missing?"

And I know in my core what I have always know, but sometimes forget, that I am truly blessed and genuinely unworthy.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

When will I ever learn?

that it is hopeless for me to try to blog while the weekids are awake?


Just look at what Ben did while I was writing my meme this morning...

Silly me, I thought he was watching TV.

Three walls of my living room, just COVERED with orange scribbling.

Thank goodness for Crayola Washables.

Note: When The Man came into the room and was treated to a display of what Ben did he said "Why aren't you trying to clean it off?"

"Oh." I said, "Well I had to post it on the blog first."

Anyone else see the irony?

5 Things

My friend, sister-in-law and fellow blogger extraordinaire, Lynn, has tagged me for the 5 things Meme. I was saving it for a slow-blogging week and well, this qualifies.

5 Most Frequented Websites
  1. My Email - I will not tell you now many times I check this a day. But let's just say, there has been talk of an intervention. Is there a 12 step program OEC disorder?
  2. Google Reader
  3. (cause I'm a word-nerd)
  5. - Because Blockbuster Total Access Rocks. We love movies in this house. And did you know you can even get DVDs of past seasons of TV shows delivered to your home? So a person could spend a whole afternoon watching Season 2 of Grey's Anatomy and eating Easter candy. You know, theoretically.
5 Favorite Foods (only five???)
  1. Coffee (I know, not technically a food)
  2. Chocolate Cake (although definitely not ALL chocolate cake)
  3. Mexican Food
  4. Seafood (fish, scallops, crab legs...mmmm)
  5. Cereal
5 Places I want to visit (never been before)
  1. Africa
  2. New York City
  3. Hawaii
  4. San Francisco
  5. Venice
5 Favorite Stress Relievers
  1. Prayer
  2. A Bath & A Book
  3. A Bottle Glass of wine
  4. A Bookstore with a coffee shop
  5. Calling my friend Melissa
5 Favorite Movies (Again, Only five, that won't even make a dent!)
  1. Roman Holiday
  2. The Princess Bride
  3. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (although not so much the second installment)
  4. The Shawshank Redemption
  5. When Harry Met Sally
5 Good Books I've read this year (I added this category because I am a rebel like that)
  1. Pride and Prejudice
  2. Good in Bed (Chick-lit, I know, but I still really liked it)
  3. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
  4. The Glass Castle
  5. Odd Thomas
5 Things you can do to make my day
  1. Let me sleep in!
  2. Tell me I look pretty (Sorry Lynn, I stole this from you because it was such a true answer)
  3. Just let me know I am appreciated
  4. Help me clean the house
  5. Don't fight with your siblings (obviously only applies to a certain segment of the population)
5 People I Tag
No tags this time. Although this was a very easy Meme if anyone wants to put it in their pocket for a rainy day.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Walking, reflecting and haircuts.

Despite my earlier pessimistic prediction, the evaluation process to find out of Clara qualifies for EI services has continued. It seems to be a windy road with many hoops and hurdles and even the destination is foggy. Today a "service coordinator" is coming out to fill out twenty-five minutes worth of paperwork. After which she will refer us to another evaluator who will come out to the house and run a bunch of tests out our girl. If she qualifies after that evaluation she will be referred to a physical therapist.

I refuse to get worked up about this process. She'll either qualify or she won't.

And besides, LOOK!

Clara has been taking steps independently for over six months now. One here. Eight there. But sometimes with weeks in between and no real progress. Her steps have been stiff and awkward and the neurologist even put on her prescription for therapy that she observed a "gait abnormality"

But in the last week, she has walked some every day. With increasing ease and excitement. And as you can see has made great strides in her gait. (Groan!) We are continuing down the road to EI because it has taken us so long just to get the referral, but I am very encouraged at the progress I am seeing.

What you cannot see in this video is the absolute disaster my children made of the room around them while I was attempting to write an introspective post on my blog last night. This weekend I spent some time rummaging through the archives of my blog and recalling, wistfully, the obsession that blogging was for me last year; When I wrote compulsively for the sake of writing, and not simply to record the minutiae of life in the Chaotic household.

Failing to find a balance for my new obsession I have instead gradually diluted it into a watered down version of what I wanted it to be. While I still pop on each week to post updates and pictures and the occasional anecdote it's been a long time since I have gone to bed with words and phrases swimming through my head. I miss it. The challenge of trying to become a better writer, of self-analysis and story-telling and attempting to recreate moments instead of just record them.

And yet, here I am again, with a quick Clara-update, because it's all I can manage except at naptime and bedtime and those hours are already allocated 3 times over. And I find the less I write the harder it is to return to it. But I know I will return, eventually. Or maybe for now just occasionally. Until my life takes another turn and time alone is not such a coveted rarity.

Oh and look what else I did this weekend:


My sweet friend Nikki took pity on my long scraggly locks and my 2 inch roots and gave me a free cut and color. Free - people! Seven inches and 3.5 hours later I am forever in her debt.


Thanks Nikki!