Thursday, May 29, 2008

We went strawberry picking today; Allie, Ben, Clara and I. A first for me. Part of my whole breaking out of my fuddy-duddy mom mold thing. We had a great time. Well, all of us except Clara who parked herself in a row and stood there wailing because I wouldn't hold her while picking strawberries 6 inches off the ground. The nerve. I also think it may not have been fun for the people picking near Clara who had to listen to her scream. I, however, was not one of those people. I moved on down the row to an area of the field where I could see her but the noise was not at level to make me inquire whether strawberry wine was, in fact, a real thing. And if they had some available.

I thought ignoring her might help her get over her fit. It didn't work. Instead she stood like a little orphan child covered in strawberry juice and screaming in the middle of the field. We filled up our gallon bucket, went back to claim her, and moved over to the picnic/playground area for lunch. This immediately made her happy. Food as comfort. Don't know a thing about that.

So now we have a gallon of strawberries. Which we will no doubt be unable to finish before they go bad. So send me your recipes. And just in case you are new to "Joy in Chaos", don't let the previous post where I shared recipes (a first) fool you, I.don' Tonight we are having strawberry shortcake. With pound cake. Which I just bought from the store.

And speaking of firsts, Allie cleaned the kitchen tonight. Under much duress. And promises that when she is grown she will always eat off paper plates. Or have a maid. Watching her try to load the dishwasher using only her first finger and thumb: Hilarious. And oh, the look of shocked disgust when I told her she had to put her hand in the dirty dish water to wash the dishes that wouldn't fit in the dishwasher: Priceless. And I know she might read this, so if she does:

I love you pretty girl. You are just, just, just, just like your mama was.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Random Dinner Related Stuff

My older children are, how do I say this tactfully, lazy bums unaccustomed to work. This is through no fault of their own as in the past we have required very little of them. Perform well in school. Use your manners. Maybe take out the trash or unload the dishwasher when I ask. In theory, I am a huge proponent of children helping out around the house. In practice, however, I have done poorly at making this happen. Being a stay at home mom, I have just naturally fallen into the roll of doing all the cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. Because honestly, it's easier than dealing with the kids attitudes, or spending the time to teach them how to do it correctly. This is lazy parenting on my part and it has, predictably, produced lazy kids. I want to reiterate though, that this is our fault, not theirs. It is a rare child that will rise above the level of what is expected of them. Something I would do well to remember when I slip into martyr mode and start complaining about having to do everything myself.

Yesterday, I started implementing my plans to be more of a "yes" mom this summer. We played in the sprinkler. We played Zingo half a dozen times. Today we went to a dollar movie. We are having Ice Cream cones after dinner. Tomorrow we are going Strawberry Picking. It has quickly become apparent to me that I cannot be "the fun mom" and "the mom who does it all." Something has got to give. And that something is going to be some of Brandon and Allison's leisure time. To start off with, I have decided I am not cleaning up dinner dishes any more this summer. I cook dinner 5 days a week and Brandon and Allison are going to alternate cleaning the kitchen afterwards. As one would predict, this has gone over like a ton of bricks.

But I am standing strong and as I am typing this Brandon is cleaning the kitchen. I suspect I will have to go in and show him what he missed. And I know that tomorrow, when it is Allison's turn, it will be worse. Probably involving tears. But it's a battle I would not be fighting right now if I had not waited until they were nearly 12 and 16 to start making them carry their weight. Learn from me my friends and start early. It won't get easier when they are older.

On a lighter note, I cooked two new recipes this week and they were both super yummy. They were also both from The discovery of this site has improved my cooking exponentially and mark my words there was lots of room for improvement. I am still far from gourmet though, and still generally have to cook with a toddler attached to my legs so all my recipes are simple.

Yesterday I made Chicken with Asparagus and Roasted Red Peppers. The picture on the website is really quite awful but in actuality the dish came out very colorful and pretty. It's also lite and uses fresh veggies. The only changes I made the online recipe was to throw in some fresh basil and to add a bit more chicken broth than it called for. I served it with Roasted Potatoes.

Today, I made Baked Tilapia with Dill Sauce. We have tilapia every week because I can buy it inexpensively in bulk from the big box store and freeze it in smaller portions. The only changes I made in this recipe was to use light sour cream and light mayo instead of the full fat stuff. I served the sauce on the side, but don't skip the sauce! It's the best part. My kids devoured it. I served this with Sesame Green Beans and Rice. Yum.

Oh, and now my kitchen is clean so we are off to have ice cream cones. Somebody pinch me.

No Words

for Wordless Wednesday

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Great Moan Off - Day 7.

I have reread my insomnia post half a dozen times in the last day, and dude, I really need to get some new inner dialog. I am just blown away by how negative it was. I almost deleted it. When I got the idea to crawl out of bed and write down all the thoughts swirling through head I thought it might be interesting reading for me in the future. A chance to capture what I was fixating on at that particular moment in my life. For perspective on my silliness. I even thought it might be humorous, the mishmash thoughts of a sleep deprived mom. What I didn't realize until I read it the next morning was what a downer I am. And self abusive. It was very enlightening. Now the question is what to do with this new found knowledge. Other than, obviously, forgo any other attempts at stream of consciousness writing. Good Grief.

Anyhoo...Yesterday was the last day of my week off of complaining. The insomnia of the night before resulted in a massive headache that refused to die. That coupled with some minor irritations at certain family members, who will not be named, and I found myself on the phone with Melissa in a full on traditional Chaotic Joy rant. It wasn't until later in the day that I realized I had fallen back into my grumbling ways. I think this may partly be Melissa's fault though. She really shouldn't be such a sympathetic listener.

So, true to my pledge, I am going to do a quick list of the ways the things I was grumbling about were in fact, blessings.
  1. I didn't fall asleep until 6:00AM. The blessing: The Man got up with the kids and let me sleep in until 11:00. And he didn't make even one "I told you so" comment about the late afternoon coffee that caused the insomniatic incident in the first place. He's a keeper, that one.
  2. Clara was overtired from the night before and fell and got a fat lip making her generally a troll. The blessing: TLC ran a Jon & Kate Plus 8 marathon. God did not choose to bless me with 6 toddlers at once. Can we get a Hallelujah? (And really, Clara is a blessing in her own right. A very loud blessing.)
  3. I had a butt-kicking headache all day. The blessing: Yeah, I couldn't really find a way that this was a blessing. However, my joint ailments have pretty much disappeared so that in itself is pretty.freakin.awesome. You'd think I would have been celebrating and not whining about my head.
  4. AND, while this is unrelated, I also went out with two of my very best friends (one of whom was the infamous Melissa) for dinner. Including cheesecake. Kid free. Divine.
And therein lies the end of my Great Moan-off experiment. I admit that I didn't do quite as well as I had hoped. I lost momentum towards the end and kept forgetting to keep myself in check. I also noticed that I tend to grumble most when I am physically not feeling well. While that's understandable, it doesn't actually make me feel any better so I am going to try to do better about keeping my mouth shut. In fact, I am going to try to continue this whole moan-off thing. To at least keep checking in a couple times a day as part of my quest to become a more positive, grateful, person in general. I may do another update next week to help keep me accountable.

And, speaking of positivity, I just read this fantastic post by Meg and I think this will be my next challenge. Go on. Go read it. Hurry up....

Are you back? Wasn't it great? Don't we all just wish Meg was our mom now? I am totally a "No" mom and I think my kids, especially the middle two, could do with a little more "yes" in their lives. And since this is our first official week of summer, it's a good time to begin. Thanks Nutmeg for inspiring me. (Although I am still not sure I could let my children paint with mud and food coloring. Baby steps.)


It's 2:25. I am going to get 5 hours of sleep. Maybe I can get a nap tomorrow. But I was supposed to clean tomorrow. Goodness I hate cleaning. Hate it. I wish I wasn't such a slob. My house is always such an embarrassment. I don't know how The Man puts up with it. I really should do better by him. He works so hard. I am going to do better. No nap tomorrow.

Beck's kids have the chicken pox. The chicken pox. I remember them. Calamine Lotion. Itching. It smelled weird. I have a scar by my eye from the chicken pox. I am so glad my kids haven't had them. I am awful with sick kids. And vomit. I can't believe Brandon's friend threw up in the basement. He's sixteen. I wonder if they were drinking. Surely not. But why did he throw up in my basement? He's sixteen. Shouldn't he make it to the toilet. I think my loathing of vomit is worse than the average mother's.

It's 2:35. Grrrr, I should not drink coffee in the afternoon. When will I ever learn? Why can't women and men have the same sex drive? What is up with that? I would like to ask God about that. My weight is out of control. It's so embarrassing. I feel like I am wearing a "Look who got fat" sign every time I walk in the room. I know people are talking about it. Why do I care? Why can't I make myself do something about it? It's affecting my health. I can tell. I keep trying to hide that. I wonder if it is a sin to be overweight. I am pretty sure they don't address that in the Bible. Laziness is a sin though. Praying about my weight feels vain and frivolous. I wonder if that's something He even cares about. I do pray for more self-control and discipline in all areas.

Christine commented on my blog today. I wonder if that means she's feeling better. I worry about her. I miss Allison. She's coming home tomorrow. She will be twelve soon. Twelve was the worst year of my life. Hands down. It won't be for her though. She's such an odd duck of a kid. I never met a kid who was so at home with their personality. Even though she's different than most other kids. I wonder if Taylor is outgrowing her. She seems so mature. Allison's eczema is getting bad. I wish she would do better about putting her lotion on. I guess she will when she cares. Is it time for her to start shaving her legs? When did I start shaving my legs? I wish I could sleep.

It's 2:45. I took two sleeping pills. And a Lortab. I love Lortab. It's a good thing it's not available over the counter. I wonder where the new cat is. Maybe he's missing Allison too. I love Lois Lowry. Maybe I should get up and finish The Messenger. I ate three brownies this evening. Three. UG. Maybe I will get up and just blog everything I am thinking. I wonder if anyone would actually read that. I wonder if I would even be interested to read it in the future. My blog is so self-indulgent. My relatives must think I am a total narcissist. I guess it's kind of true. An approval seeker. I wonder if I am ever going to grow out of that. Oprah says you do when you are forty. Why does everyone think Oprah knows all the answers? Why do I even watch Oprah? I am such a drone.

I was a little whiny today. Damn headaches. Not too bad I guess. Oh good gracious. This is ridiculous. I am going to try to sleep again. It's 2:55. Definitely a nap tomorrow.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I heart summer

We went to my nephews' birthday party today. They turned two and were adorable. We had a wonderful time.

This picture right here: It's living proof that Jesus is still performing miracles today. It's my two older children. Getting along. And what's more...touching each other without inflicting pain.

And look! Here's another one: Be still my beating heart.

The rest of our gang was there too:
And let me just say that a picture of me in a bathing suit is something you will never see on this blog.

It was a great party and another wonderful day. Reality is bound to catch up with me soon.
Have a great Holiday Weekend!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Day 4

Home from Friday night Mexican, we lounge in happy indolence on the sofa. Skimming half-heartedly through the finale of American Idol. We know who wins, we're just killing time. Critiquing performances. Allison's curled up near by reading her new book while keeping an eye out for David A. "He's very nice looking", she says, blushing slightly. The little ones, Ben & Clara, tumble and chase each other kitten-like through the house. Stopping occasionally to dance to the music. Or attempt a somersault. We share a look, he and I, the feeling tangible between us. There is not a word. Gratitude. Peace. Perfection - as close as we will get - in these simple moments of chaotic harmony.

I don't think I have complained once today, but that's not an accomplishment.

It's been a good day.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Moan-off, Day 3 & BLOGIVERSARY

Today was a much better day. After nine hours of sleep last night I woke up feeling slightly better and decided I needed to try to get the myself and The Weekids out of the house. So we decided to meet my dear sister-in-law and nieces for storytime. The storytime was kind of a bust but my sister-in-law was a doll and watched Ben while Clara and I wandered around the bookstore and went for coffee. To be honest I kept forgetting I was supposed to be complaint free and then would have to stop and review the last several hours to see how I did. Not perfect, of course, but overall not too badly. I am fairly certain I did moan to my sister-in-law about health related things once or twice. Ah well.

Actually, I think it's a good thing, this constant stopping to do a status check on my attitude. Am I wallowing? Am I whining? Am I grateful? It keeps me from falling into a hole of negative thinking. Something I am guilty of regularly. I wish there was some way to keep the momentum going on past this week.

And speaking of positive things, I just realized that today is my one year blogging anniversary. And I thought some sort of celebration should be in order. So, I decided to do what I do best and steal an idea. Actually, the same idea I stole from Ginger this time last year, which is a list of things that have made me happy today. So here goes:
  • Nine hours of sleep! (How could I not include that?)
  • A cat trying to attack my fingers while I type this.
  • These outside my front door.
  • (When I looked back at my list from last year, I realized I used my Hydrangeas there too. But what can I say, I guess in May, Hydrangeas make me happy.)
  • I went to Barnes & Noble today. Really, need I say more?
  • My son and his friend (he would so die to see this on the blog) went to pick up dates and are bringing them back to the house to watch a movie. My son. Picking up a date. His first one officially. This should make me nervous I guess, but since he is bringing her here it just makes me kind of happy to be in the loop. OK, and a little bit nervous.
  • We had chicken for dinner tonight. Clara loves chicken and says it "SHEEKIN" and I think it may possibly be the most adorable thing in the universe.
  • New Bubble Bath from Sephora
  • Ben has been playing "Zingo" all day today. After the first 5 games he's been playing alone. Periodically I hear him yell out excitedly, "I won!" It's cracking me up.
  • A three day weekend ahead of me.
  • A New Book
  • Red Toenail Polish
  • Snuggling with The Man during the season premier of "So you think you can dance"
  • DVDs that come in the mail.
  • Clara sitting her Carebear next to her on the couch at the doctor's office and saying "DIT DOWN!"
  • Allison's excitement at her two new books.
  • Birds that left their nest in my garage yesterday. (This makes me happy for many reasons, one of which is no more bird poop on my van)
  • These faces hounding me for attention while I typed this:
  • One of my bloggy friend sending me this link. Basically she has diagnosed me with adult Fifth Disease and it all fits. Even the anemia. I am so relieved at her diagnosis I could do a dance. Who cares that she's not a doctor?
So now I am just asking y'all (and yes, I do actually say "y'all") to do me a favor. For my Blogiversary present ('cause I know you were wondering what to get me) I just want everyone to leave a comment of one thing that made you happy this week. Just one thing. Or two. Or five. But at least one. Even if you don't usually comment. Because nothing would make me happier. Well besides a maid. Oh, and maybe a cook. Oh whatever. Just play along. Please.

And, while I'm feeling all bossy, one more thing...go hug your kids. You watch the news. You know why. Just do it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Last night I experienced a scary relapse of my joint ailments. I crawled out of bed to take pain killers and immediately thought "Well this is going to make this not complaining thing tricky."

As I was lying (laying?) on the couch waiting for the Lortab to kick in and watching our new kitten chase ghosts across the kitchen floor, (so crazy cute) I contemplated the task ahead of me. Now that I know I am still sick, can I really face another day (days?) of pain and inability to do the simple tasks that define my job as a stay at home mom, without complaining? Should I even ask myself to?

In what I can only assume was a drug induced stupor I said "Yes, of course. That's what this experiment is really about isn't it? Not changing my circumstances but changing my attitude about them." I think I was even delusional enough to think that my being ill would really help me, and my family, take this seriously. To dwell on the positive despite of the negative. A revolution.


So, in the name of honesty I must now reveal that my midnight pep talk was probably the highlight of The Great Moan-off, day 2. It turns out not complaining when it's your two older kids last day of school (and they have tons of great-big-plans for you and them) and and every inch of your body hurts is, well, really. freakin. hard. So, while I did sincerely try (at least initially) to keep a positive attitude today, I am pretty sure I failed. A big fat flop of a failure. Involving not only complaining but also tears. In fact, it's even possible, that when Brandon walked in the door in the middle of my rant about my doctor needing me to go give more blood and quipped "Are we complaining?" that lightning bolts shot from my eyes and killed the poor kid on the spot.

Or something like that.

I am regrouping now though. I am not giving up. It's 10:00PM and I am fairly certain that I can go the last two hours of the day without one single complaint. Seeing how all of my offspring have fled the vicinity. And The Man is downstairs playing pool. And I am once again alone with my cat and heavily medicated.

And tomorrow, tomorrow I'll give this thing moan-free thing another shot.

And for those of you keeping up with the medical stuff, just keep praying. The setback was hard because I had finally just convinced myself that this whole thing was just a nasty virus. Now we are back to the guessing game. NOT that I'm complaining. :)


First of all let me apologize for the absurd amount of typos in yesterday's post. I felt, for some reason, the need to get that post up immediately so my experiment could officially begin. Even though that meant typing it with help from the Weekids. It wasn't until much later in the day that I realized what a mess the thing was. Even for me, no stranger to a typo. Sorry!

Yesterday began auspiciously. Trying very hard to watch the words and the tone of the words that I uttered left me uncharacteristically quiet. After all, what does constitute a complaint? Sharing with The Man that one of my children made a poor grade on an Algebra final, for example, was that a complaint? I was careful just to state the facts and refrain from expounding. Or what about when The Man asked me if I was feeling better. Was it complaining to admit that my head still hurt? So I tried, as best as possible to stick to the spirit of the experiment. A spirit of gratitude. Not dwelling on the negative. And overall, it wasn't difficult. Yesterday was a good day to give up grumbling.

For one, our family got a new cat. A 10 month orange tomcat named "Kelso". Yes, Kelso, from that terribly-funny-but-totally-not-appropriate-for-your-children, television show. We thought briefly of changing the name, but decided it just seemed to fit. None of the kids, other than Brandon, get the reference anyway.

And so, with our home imbued with a general spirit of celebration because of the new pet, it was easy, to maintain a grateful attitude. Although I do admit to a brief slip-up involving a stomach ailment and a certain toddler who wouldn't give her mama some alone time in the bathroom. There may have been some grumbling involved on my part that was quickly pointed out by my other, very helpful children. They really seem to be excited about helping me get into the spirit of this thing. "Was that a complaint?" is something I think I will be hearing often this week.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Great Moan Off.

I handed Ben the orange cup with the green lid.

"ButIwantedthecolorchangecup" he whined.

"Sorry, Ben. This is the one I gave you. Take it and be happy with it or I will take it back."

A few minutes later Ben walks into the kitchen holding his new "Buzz Lightyear" toy, purchased the day before with the last of his birthday money.

"I wished I coulda got the Poody toy too, not just the Buzz Wightyear"

"Ben!" I scolded. "You got a new toy! Be happy with what you have or I will take it back."

My older kids would tell you it's a mantra around here. "Why can't you appreciate what you have? Why can't you just be grateful for what I have already done for you? If you don't appreciate it, you don't deserve it. If all you do is ask for more, or grumble, I will think long and hard about giving it to you again."

It sounds reasonable right?

For them, anyway. Because here's the rub, I can be a bit of a whiner. On days like today, when I have been sick for the past 5 days and my children are climbing the walls to be free of this house. When the laundry is heaped in mounds in every single bedroom. When everywhere I step is a toy or a crumb that needs dealt with. When my body, overweight, achy and possessing far less vitality than I would like, balks against all it needs to do today:

I grumble. I march down to The Man's office, sit on the stool which I am certain he must have dubbed the whining post at some point, and grumble.

"Too much to do.
Don't feel well.
House is a pigsty.
Kids keep fighting, whining, sassing.
Cupboards are bare."

Or I call my friend, Melissa.

"Whining kids on my last nerve.
Need to meal plan and shop.
Have I mentioned lately how much I detest meal planning?
Pool party this weekend, fat as a house, can't be see in a swimsuit."

Whine, whine, whine.

Oh it's not everyday, of course. There are days, although more often minutes and hours, when I feel genuinely blessed to be living the life I live. But, I admit sometimes to a sense of entitlement to grouse. I am raising four children. Monday through Thursday I am doing it alone. I stay at home with them everyday, with often very little adult interaction. I am a STAY AT HOME MOM. I am doing the hardest job in the universe. I have heard Oprah say so countless times.

The hardest job in the universe. Raising kids in America? Is it possible that I actually believe this?

Everywhere I look on the news, on the internet, at my church there are images of mothers crying for their babies. Their children killed while sitting in school during an earthquake. Missing or homeless because of a cyclone. Children and their parents dying of AIDS, of malaria. Dying of starvation. Babies not allowed to be born because one child is all that is permitted per family. Orphans being forced to pick through garbage to find food to survive. Children being forced to pick up guns against other children. Fathers and mothers risking their lives to find a way to just to raise their children in this country. To take the jobs we will not take, to be offered a chance to live off the extras of our excess.

I cannot solve these world problems. Not even a fraction of them. But what does it say to these parents when I grumble amidst the incomprehensible amount I have been given just by being born here, in this country? What am I telling them about their struggles with my attitude of ungratefulness? And what am I teaching my own children when I tell them to be thankful for all they have and still moan about all I have to do?

The Bible tells us in Luke that "from everyone who has been given much, much will be required." I have not even begun to explore what this should mean for my family. But I know that my first step must be a change of heart about the way I view my own world, and the blessings that abound in it. The fact is, I should be walking through my life in a perpetual state of gratitude for all I am fortunate enough to have. I should have a continuous burden on my heart to find ways to help those who are not. I should but I am not. I do not.

So, I have decided to conduct an experiment. For one week I am going to attempt to remove every grumble from my lips. I am going to attempt not to whine, not to moan, not to complain. For one week.
  • I will not complain about my mountains of laundry because they mean my children have more than enough clothes to wear, and towels to dry clean water off their bodies.
  • I will not complain about my four children, the number we wanted, the number we prayed for, the biggest blessings of my life.
  • I will not complain about my weight, a result of having the opportunity to eat too much food. Too much food to eat.
  • I will not complain about the burden of having to shop and cook for my family to have food to eat. I am embarrassed to even write that I consider this a burden.
  • I will not complain about my dirty house, overflowing with stuff, excessive stuff, that needs cleaned or put away.
  • I will not complain about all I have to do, or the petty decisions I have to make each day. My biggest decision today is whether or not to allow our family to get a new cat. Oh that the entire world would also be so blessed.
  • I will not complain that my body is sore or tired, as I sit in my air conditioned house with my prescriptions against pain and depression and a comfortable bed to climb in.
  • I will not complain about the money we do not have for vacations or summer classes or home repairs.
For one week, I will not complain. I will say only positive things about my beautiful life. And I will ask my family, my friends, my blogging comrades to hold me accountable. I anticipate this being difficult. We live in a society of discontent. Of entitlement. And my eyes are opening to the fact that I am entrenched in that life. I know that this will not help any of the people suffering in this world, but I am hoping that it will be a catalyst for change in my own heart, and hopefully my family.

Each day I will get on and journal how it is going. How successful I am being. And each time I find myself grumbling I will journal how I am actually blessed in that area. I am calling it "The Great Moan-Off Experiment." I am nervous to be saying it aloud. To be putting it out there for the world to see. For the accountability it will bring. And I can already predict the eye-rolling it will inspire from my family and friends. And I can't wait.

So here we go: THE GREAT MOAN OFF, DAY 1 .

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Happy Fourth Birthday, Ben.

When Ben was born, I thought he was a funny looking baby. Like a wise and wrinkled old man. He was long and thin and seemed sad to have left his cozy home to enter our chaotic, noisy one. In fact, his first year of life was somewhat difficult for him. A sensitive child, he was sick constantly, and getting him to eat became a daily struggle.

This is my favorite picture of the day he was born. So serious. So wise. A little disappointed at what he sees, maybe. And when I look at him now, I still see that baby sometimes. In fact, I think of all my children he still looks most like his infant self.

But, oh there is so much more to him now. His sensitivity has made him kind beyond what I could have imagined. A gentle sweetness that people often comment on, even in the midst of his boyish zeal for superheroes and wrestling. And a trouble making mischievous side that caught me by complete surprise. He seems to find trouble without even looking. And always seems a bit surprised when he he gets reprimanded. It makes punishing him all the more difficult. Especially when I know it will be usually followed by genuine remorse. Usually.

He has taught me so much about parenting, this one. About letting go of the weight of milestone schedules and rejoicing in individuality. He taught me humbleness in parenting. He taught me a loathing for "Babycenter" weekly updates and a passion for mornings spent snuggling together on the sofa.

Last week he ate three dinner meals with us, spaghetti, tilapia and chicken and rice. I honestly didn't think the day would ever come. And this birthday, his fourth birthday, was the first one he would eat a piece of cake. And I let him eat cake all week long, grinning like a fool each time. But he still sleeps in pull-ups. And probably will for a while. And I don't even flinch about it anymore.

He'll get there. All the places he needs to go. In his own time. In his own sweet way.

And most of all now, I am just thankful I get to come along for the ride. The challenging, occasionally destructive, breathtakingly beautiful ride.

Happy Birthday Ben.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Updates: Me & The Birds

I noticed some definite improvement in the way I feel this morning. Especially in my fingers and wrists. Still hurts to walk, pick up the kids, etc., but I think I am on the upswing. I am starting to feel encouraged that this might actually just be some kind of strange virus. What a wonderful answer to prayer that would be!

I'm still medicated and not up to any posts that require actual thought, or to commenting, although I have been reading some today.

AND, I thought I would post a quick update on Sarah's babies. It's been a week and the change has been remarkable.One of her eggs never hatched. It makes me sad to see it nestled in there with the babies. I can't help but wonder if it makes Sarah sad. But maybe her life is more about instinct than emotion. I think my own life would be easier that way sometimes. Still, it gives my heart a tug each time I see it.
They really are cute now. I have loved having them in our life and watching their progress. I wish I could find a way to be there whey they finally take wing. I imagine that will be in only another week or two.
Then I will have to return to obsessing about my own offspring.

I'm sure they can't wait.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Written under the influence

This morning I was in the shower and realized I couldn't squeeze the shampoo out of the bottle into my hand because the pain in my joints was so severe. I may have panicked. A little. Shortly thereafter I was on the phone with my doctor and on my way to the emergency room. For the last 9 hours I have been poked, prodded, questioned and have provided many a bodily fluid for inspection. Fun stuff.

The answer: They have no idea what's wrong with me.

A virus? Lupus? Stressed-out-mama-of-four-syndrome? Obviously we are hoping for a virus. A really strange, painful virus. We have to wait for some test results to return. And even then it may be a matter of seeing if my symptoms abate or reoccur if/when they do.

In the meantime I am on 5 (yes, five!) prescriptions for pain, swelling, stiffness and the fact that I am apparently severely anemic. The doctor at the hospital even mentioned a possible blood transfusion if it didn't improve and my own doctor has prescribed a weekly iron transfusion. I think my response may have been something like "But will that stop the pain?"

"No. Unrelated most likely."


Anyway, thank you so much for all your prayers. I feel surprisingly relaxed about the situation, and while that is partly due to a generous dose of Lortab, I believe strongly that your prayers and concern brought me peace and encouragement. I count you all in my blessings.

And look! I'm typing.

I count Lortab in my blessings too. :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oil Can, anyone?

This was supposed to be a sentimental birthday post about Ben. However, what I yesterday thought was a stiff neck from sleeping wrong, is apparently some sort of virus that has moved into my joints. I can barely move today and my wrists seem to be the most strongly affected. I can't even open a sippy cup or do a button. And typing is also painful. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow but until this passes I will be off the computer.

Please say a prayer that this is, in fact, some weird virus and nothing more serious. I'd be lying if didn't admit that I am a wee bit freaked out about suddenly being the tin man. Or tin woman, as it may be.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Four years ago tomorrow my two boys looked like this.

And today I told one he could get a summer job to pay for insurance for his car.


And when I wake up tomorrow the other will be four.


And I know I said I was okay with it.

I lied.

Warning: You may want to avoid Joy in Chaos for the rest of this week. I feel myself sinking into a genuine "Oh my heart, my heart, my babies are getting soooooo big!" mama fit.

So go. Save yourselves.

Almost four

He turns four tomorrow. Four. Too big, I've said for months. Four is much too big. Not a toddler anymore. Barely a preschooler. A kid. With stretching limbs and vocabulary and dreams.

We spent a long time together yesterday afternoon. It's his last day of school today. He's sad. He doesn't want to leave the "threeyearowds class". He doesn't want to leave Ms. Lisa. She won't be in the "fouryearowds class." It worries him. He adores Ms. Lisa. He can't imagine liking school without her in it.

"She'll miss me" he says. "She'll miss me cause she wuvs me."

And it's so beautiful. His love. His wide eyes. His tiny world. And sitting with my mischievous, sensitive, big-hearted boy, suddenly four doesn't feel so big.

It feels kind of...perfect.

Monday, May 12, 2008

All in a days work

For someone who was so eager to denounce the merits of Mother's Day, I had the best day Sunday. I slept in 'til an embarrassingly late hour. Had breakfast prepared for me by a very hot chef and managed to avoid nearly all of my normal motherly chores. In short I was able to spend time with my children with out all the annoying little things that come with actually caring for them. And it turns out they are actually quite a fun lot.

Kudos to The Man for giving me the day off. It was badly needed.

Today, however, it feels as if my epitaph will read:
Cleaned the kitchen 76,000 times. Did 345,000 loads of laundry, and spent most of the rest of her life saying "No, No, No, for goodness sake, NO!"
Because today:
  • Brandon missed the bus
  • Clara dumped an entire bottle of bubbles on the kitchen floor.
  • Ben took his Spiderman balloon outside on the back deck and lost it which caused him to cry for THIRTY MINUTES STRAIGHT
  • I found Ben & Clara behind the sofa halfway through a half pound bag of Reeses Pieces. I didn't even know we had Reeses Pieces. I've been wondering if they found the bag under the sofa.
  • I made grilled cheese which Ben declared "yucky" and Clara fed to the dog. I'm sure the Reeses Pieces didn't help.
when I was lying in bed snuggling with Ben tonight, I saw some streaks on the red paint of his wall. "What's this?" I asked, trying to scrape it off with my fingernail.

"It's my snot" he said matter of factly. "When I'm crying and I don't know what to do with it I wipe it on the wall."


All and all a pretty normal day I would say.

By the way when I was telling Brandon about this post today he said "That couldn't be your epitaph."

"Really?" I asked, encouraged at where this might be going.

"Nope" he said. "They would never put that many words on a tombstone."

Ha! I guess I should just be glad he knew what an epitaph was.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I fell off my soapbox

"Youth fades; love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes
I had a Mother's Day post started where I was ranting about my dislike for Mother's Day. How we eagerly, joyfully, sign the contract to be Mother's and then expect people to honor us when that turns out to mean hard self-sacrificing work and lots of mindless, thankless drudgery. How Mother's Day feeds into my own week human tendencies to think someone should be indebted to me for putting my children's needs before my own. When, in fact, I am the one who should feel honored that by God's grace I have been privileged enough to be called "Mother" four times over. (And trust me when I say that it certainly was grace as I screwup far too much to have earned such a gift.)

And that what I really need is a reminder of what a blessing my children are to me and not the other way around.

But then today I received this poem that Allie wrote me:

“She” Poem

She is a gift, a requirement in life
She wonders why we can’t all get along
She hears, “I love you, mom.”
She wants the world to be peaceful
She is a gift, a requirement in life

She pretends that her children will never grow up
She feels happy with our presence
She touches our foreheads with her lips as she kisses us goodnight
She worries that she isn’t all she should be (but she is!)
She is a gift, a requirement in life

She understands that sacrifices may have to be made for satisfaction
She says, “That everybody has a bad side sometimes”
She dreams of singing with me one day
She does all she can to provide for our needs
She hopes that one day we’ll all be healthily happy
She is a gift, a requirement in life

And I cried.

And I now say "Baloney" to all of that anti-mother's day babble. I love Mother's Day! Thank you, my beautiful girl, for honoring me. It is really nice to be appreciated, isn't it?

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Today, Sara's babies hatched. At least two of them. I couldn't see the others well enough to tell.

Just this morning I peeked at our nest and was disappointed to see our four eggs untouched. And then tonight, I brought Ben out to check again and there they were. I warned the kids they would be ugly scrawny little things that won't really look like birds at first.

"Ugly like new babies are ugly, but then they get cuter later?" Allie, said.

"Yep, pretty much the same thing." I laughed.

But here's my secret. I actually don't think these few-hours- old baby birds are that ugly. I admit that they could use a bit of fat and fluff, but I think they are kind of amazing. And I cannot help but think how their tiny, pink, alien bodies, look remarkably like the pictures of my own babies curled up inside of me. Their skin was so translucent I could almost see their hearts beating inside them.

It's a miracle, this thing called birth. Even on this tiny scale.
Grow strong little birdies. We're pulling for you.

See? The black part is the beak, all curled up next to it's wing? Don't you just want to cover him (her?) up with a tiny receiving blanket?

OK, maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What the heck? Updated

So I just noticed that beneath each one of my posts is a place for readers to give it a rating. 1 to 5 stars.


As I am approaching my blogoversary I am becoming increasingly insecure about whether I should continue to blog in this, emotional spewing, kind of outlet. I wonder if I have I lost my voice. Or am I fooling myself to thing I ever really had one? Am I now pandering too much to what I think people want to read or worrying too much about what people in my real life will think of me? There are so many bloggers that are smarter, more insightful, better writers, wittier, better at conveying their faith, etc. Maybe I am just out of my league.

Anyway...What I DO NOT need is a place where people can pop-in and rate each post I write. Nah. Didn't really care for it. or That one was pretty good. I'll give it 4 stars. Talk about encouraging me to pander. Or reeking havoc on my fragile writing self-esteem.


So, I don't know why the rating thing showed up, but I CANT FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET RID OF IT!

Someone, please help.
Updated. Blogger's response is here.

It basically says "Oh fudge! We were testing something new and we screwed up. We're working on fixing it. Don't call us, we'll call you."

Heavens to betsy, she's gardening again!

Sunday afternoon, in an effort to keep our neighbors from converging on our home with pitchforks and torches, The Man and I attempted some work on the area we loosely refer to as our front yard. Most of the yard actually consists of a large center island surrounding a handful of overgrown trees. We thought the trees were lovely when we bought the home. We now regularly curse their existence and the resulting need to deal with the weeds, leaves, pine cones, sticks and weeds. Did I mention there are weeds?

So for nearly two hours I yanked weeds small trees out of the ground and sprayed a gallon of weed killer over every single inch, all the while muttering charming epithets like "Take that you darn pricker bush" and "Die, suckers die." It was not my finest moment.

And then, yesterday afternoon I went to check out the results of my destructive rampage. And found, to my dismay, an island full of weeds with almost no discernible difference! The Man, bless his optimistic heart, was kind enough to say he thought they definitely looked discouraged. Discouraged. I spent two hours discouraging the weeds to grow.

I have also recently failed miserably in ridding my yard of fire ants. I just seem to be chasing the mounds of these mean, pesky, critters around my yard. In fact, I think all I have managed in my landscaping efforts is to produce a yard so laden with toxic chemicals there is no way I can let my children play in it.

This is why I leave the gardening to the professionals. Or my husband.

So bring it on internets. Send this redneck horticulturally challenged mama your best cheap, non-toxic, weed-killing, ant-skedaddling secrets.

And hurry. The HOA wagons are circling.


This is my entry in Shannon's WFMW.
What DOESN'T Work for Me edition.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My baby girl is under-the-weather today, running a low fever. I'm not sure if it's a bug or just teething. She still hasn't gotten the rest of her incisors. You'd never know it by her personality. The girl has fangs. Unlike the rest of my children who respond to fevers with whining and lethargy she seems enraged. Anger at the pain, or anger at me for not relieving it, I'm not certain. Someone should tell her that piteousness would garner a better response. I don't know how to comfort her. She's an enigma this girl of mine. So different from I. So much spit and fire. I worry about her, and her ability to conform. "Gentle, Clara. Gentle." has become a mantra in our home.

She'll be good for my prayer life, that's for certain.


"Should we name the bird, Ben?"

"Yes! Is it a girl or a boy?"

"Well, she's a mama bird, Boo. She must be a girl."

"Well we should name her Sara then. Like Sara from my school."

"Sounds good to me" I say, making a note to pay more attention to Sara from school the next time I am in his class.

And so our garage tenant was named. And everywhere we go, when Ben sees a small brown bird he thinks it's her. Instructing her to "Go home to your babies, Sara." Sara's eggs still have not hatched. Is it strange that I am worried about them? These tiny little adoptees in their speckled wombs. All around us, baby birds are emerging from their shells. Is it weird that I find myself fretting that ours may be too late? That maybe our constant peeking and prying has kept their mama away too much? I even find myself lying in bed at night worrying that Sara didn't make it back to her nest before we shut the garage door. Having to will myself not to go check on her like my own sleeping children.

Ridiculous. Right?

It's apparent that I fret far too much. I think that without genuine things to worry about I am now creating them.
"I've developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time."
~Charlie Brown

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Saturday Morning...

A boy plays in the dirt.

"Pay attention Ben!"
He waits for the ball

(Hand by your ear,
lift your leg,
point your toe)
So much to remember.
He throws it like a pro.

Tries for a hit. And tries again.

The unbridled joy of 3-year-old success.
There's nothing like it.

I love being a mom.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A post about nothing

It's nearly midnight here but sleep, I know, is still hours away. The Man humored me when I crawled back into bed this morning after I woke him up at 10:00AM. Humored me a little too much, I say, as I didn't wake back up until 2:00.

A four hour nap.

"Why didn't you wake me up?" I groaned. "Now I don't have time to get anything done and I'll never sleep tonight!"

To his credit he refrained from calling me an ingrate.

But why is it that while sleep is so elusive to me at night I can, with no effort, sleep four uninterrupted hours in the middle of the day? I've always been this way. Which worked perfectly well when I was 19 and waiting tables for a living, but considerably less so for my current situation which includes an 8:20AM t-ball gave every Saturday morning.

Well, I am off to kanoodle with the husband. We just finished watching this movie which was so depressing I nearly couldn't finish it. I have never been able to get into watching fictional lives self-destruct on screen for my personal enjoyment. Isn't there enough self-destructing going on in the real world? Is a happy ending with all the loose ends tied up with a bow too much to ask for a Friday night? Ah well, The Man like it. He's much more tolerant of dark and gritty than I.


Tomorrow I will be writing a post at worst mama about how my toddler left a trail of urine all over Lowes Hardware store tonight. I am sure you can't wait.

The glamour of my life is overwhelming.