Sunday, June 29, 2008

Please excuse me while I gaze at my navel.

I love to write. It's why I have this blog. Which is not to say that I consider myself a writer. It's a diversion. A hobby. Like tennis, except it doesn't require coordination. Or one of those itty-bitty skirts.

Praise God.

If tennis was my hobby and I had served and volleyed as much as I have blogged this last year I would expect my game to have notably improved. Which led me to wonder why it is that my writing has not. In fact, as I was looking through my posts from last summer I concluded that the opposite is true. The quality of my posts seems to be on the decline.

One reason for this, as I have mentioned before, is simply time constraints. And, if we're keeping it real, a bit of laziness. When I first started blogging I was so heady with the love of it I chose writing over sleep at night. Over snuggling with my children in the morning. It's understandable that I couldn't, shouldn't, keep up that level of obsession devotion. As a result my efforts had to be squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces of time making it harder to explore an idea past two paragraphs. Or to properly edit something when I did. I'm much less willing to sacrifice sleep than I once was, be that from a lack of iron or a lack of passion, I'm not sure.

So about a month ago, around the time of my blogiversary, I spent some time thinking about whether I really wanted to continue blogging if I wasn't going to have time to make it what I wanted. Pride was also playing a part in this. I couldn't rid myself of the nagging whisper that even when I had given it my best, it was never great. And I can admit now, that there was a time I thought it might be. It was hard for me to accept that I just didn't have that something - an education? talent? drive? - to bring my writing to the next level. And I was crazy intimidated by those bloggers who posted well composed, grammatically perfect brilliance day after day.

However, despite my struggle with pride and self-doubt I decided I really didn't want to give it up. It's addictive this blogging thing. The writing. The community. And amazingly, through learning to accept the limitations of my abilities, I started coming to terms with my own writing. I had been fighting off a nagging feeling that I could no longer hear my own voice through the cacophony of amazing writers around me. I found myself - not conciously, I don't think - attempting to emulate the styles of writers I admired. I was forcing funny, or satirical or analytical into my posts when it wasn't really in me. And then I read this post by Boomama and it really helped me nail this idea down.

I have finally started believing that there is power in my own voice. As unpolished and grammatically incorrect as that voice may be. And someday, if my children or, gulp, grandchildren spend some time reading some of this writing I want it to be my voice that they recognize in the words, not my poor interpretation of a "great blogger."

It's liberating this decision to stop worrying about being good enough and just finding my own path, even if the path is smaller and less populated than some others. The problem is that finding my way back from a place of intimidation and imitation has been harder than I thought. I recognize my voice in some of my earlier writings but I am struggling to get back there again.

As a result I am going to take a break from blogging for a week, or maybe two. I am going to work on writing again free of reading other blogs and the unrelenting pressure to post something new.

I will probably do some reposts of some things I wrote last summer and, stealing from Slouching Mom here, if anyone wants to do a guest-post (pretty-please!) I would be terribly honored. Just leave a comment on this post.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

For a friend

My friend Amy over at Signs, Miracles and Wonders wrote a heart wrenching post today. Her son, Spencer, has epilepsy and has been having a hard time lately. If you have a moment to pop over there and give her some encouragement or pray for Spencer, I know she would appreciate it. I actually know Amy in real life and since Spencer's diagnosis she has become a National Epilepsy Advocate and Speaker. She has been an inspiration to me with her dedication to her family and her unwavering faith. But as strong as she is, she's still a mama and I think she could use a bit of uplifting right now. Thank you friends.

A Ghost of Summer Past

for Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I went away this weekend. A impromptu house sitting trip with my dear friend and her six-year-old daughter to her parents' Lake House. We idled the hours away on the dock, or the screened porch, or sprawled on the living room floor playing marathon hands of UNO and laughing until I couldn't breath. I tried - and was humiliated at - Wii for the first time. We ate cookie dough by the spoonful and then, when the girl went to bed, my friend and I watched a sad movie. And cried. And lamented how we hate sad movies. I read chapter after chapter of my book and slept until 9:00AM. And I took my coffee to the porch to watch the sun on the water in peace, and listen to quiet sounds of a lakeside morning. It was glorious.

And then yesterday afternoon, the carefree hours of the last day started to be strangely uncomfortable. Like a new pair of shoes that made me feel sassy and young at first but eventually started to rub my foot raw. I became increasingly restless to start our trek back home. And when I finally walked back in the door yesterday evening, I breathed a sigh of relief. The noise and chaos of my home settled back on me like a mantle. Heavy with the weight of responsibility but perfect and comforting for how well it fit.

I wish I could do this every month. Go away for a day to rest and rejuvenate. And more importantly be reminded that as irksome as my children can be, I am lost without them. Like a game that seemed fun when I opened the box...until realized the most important pieces were missing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Zaftig (AKA the draft that should have been left to die)

I was sitting, this evening, perusing various posts that I have started and never finished. I was sulking actually, at how my job tending my offspring has provided me with no time to write anything but the flightiest fluff. Do you know how many truly auspicious beginnings to meaty posts have fallen by the wayside? Brilliance, people, that is what you have been deprived of. In fact, if I didn't have four children occupying my every breath and braincell I am certain I would be a wildly popular blogger with wit and profundity oozing from every post.


Anyhoo, while I was surfing through the discarded fragments of my writing dreams I came across a draft entitled "Zaftig." Curious, I opened it and found only a link to a column by Julie Berry. I must have thought this would springboard to a post at some point. I have no idea what I was originally planning to say, but, mercy is zaftig some kind of a wonderful word! And Julie's old column, was a delightful (even the second time around) read for a word nerd like me.

And I must say that while I stand firmly by my vow to never adorn my prodigious backside with letters, if I was going to do so, Zaftig is, without a doubt, the word I would choose. For what better word than one that proclaims my backside as not just prominent, but pleasingly plump and succulent. Those size two "Juicy" bottom girls would have nothing on my bad self. (I just typed "juicy bottom" in my post. That should bring some interesting hits.)

Because obviously there's just nothing hotter than labeling your bum as a tasty treat.


So, fellow vocabulovers, what is your favorite obscure word? Or just your favorite word in general? Mine is "Serendipity." It's just so happy and it's even fun to say. What, you don't have a favorite word? I am so much nerdier than you. Nerdier and Zaftig-ier, I'll bet.

I think that means I win.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Don't take me too seriously, people.

Hmmm. It occurs to me after reading the comments on yesterday's post that I may need to set something straight. I do not actually wish I could get a job and ship my kids off to someone else for the summer. Well, at least not 95 percent of the time. The other 5 percent? We all have those moments.

Please don't tell me if you don't have those moments.

I genuinely love being a stay at home mom. OK, most of the time I love it. But motherhood is similar to the nursery rhyme.
"When she is good she is very, very good.
But when she is bad she is horrid."
And yesterday was just kind of horrid. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that my fantasies for the day had been reduced to something depressing like actually folding an entire load of laundry without having to stop to utter a phrase like "Clara, no, please don't eat my lipstick!" or "Brandon, when I asked you to watch the little ones WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT MEANT IT WAS OK TO PLAY WITH SQUIRT GUNS IN THE HOUSE?"

You know, hypothetically.

But today was better. Today felt much more like what summer is supposed to be about.

  • When I left the house this morning four cars were parked on the street. Four of Brandon's friends who spent the night and stayed up all night playing video games and shooting pool. While I am not sure I will ever get used to the idea of his friends having their own cars, the sight of them this morning passed out on the floor, sunburned and washed in the innocence of sleep, felt like a glimpse into summers past. Even if they are all six feet tall.
  • We went to the pool with some friends and Ben finally ventured into the deep end with nothing but "water wings." I was so proud I started calling family members from my cell phone. He was so proud he called his dad. It was awesome.
  • Clara almost drowned twice in the 12 inches of water they had in the baby pool. How do you teach a one-year-old to "just stand up!" I put a floaty on Clara after that. She was the only kid I've ever seen sporting swim ring in knee deep water. (OK, this part was actually kind of scary especially after my friend's toddler did the same thing. That thing about kids being able to drown in 6 inches of water...It's totally true.)
  • Ben and Clara decided to be friends again. In fact on the way to bed tonight we did an "I love Clara" conga line to the tune of "I want candy." I am not naive enough to think this is a permanent condition, but for the moment...priceless.
  • Tonight when Ben went to bed he said, "Night Mommy. I'll see you when you wake up so we can have another superfun day."
How is it that the exact same kids that had me hiding in a closet with a bottle of wine yesterday left my heart feeling too big for my chest today? It sure is a rollercoaster, this parenting gig, but I'm certainly glad I bought a ticket.

Or, you know, four.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I'm back, but it ain't pretty.

Bible School is behind us. It was simultaneously the best and most difficult week of teaching I have ever had. I am relieved and a bit sad it is over. I always leave those weeks standing a little straighter, feeling slightly better about myself. I am good with children. I do enjoy them. They even like me in return. And then, just as I feel my pride start to swell, I return to my own brood. And I swear I hear God chuckling.

I had been looking forward to returning to normal summer activities without the exhausting schedule that left us all irritable and worthless in the afternoons. This morning I planned to grocery shop, catch up on laundry and get some household chores done to free up the rest of the week for pools and parks and play dates. But my children woke up surly and whiny and completely, illogically, disgusted with each other.

And I think I hit my last nerve somewhere around breakfast.

And now I am melancholy and irritated at myself that I cannot drum up more enthusiasm for another week spent with my preschoolers. What kind of mother sits and fantasizes about getting a job and handing the whole lot of them off to someone else to deal with for the summer? Because that's the mother I am today.

Which is a mighty fine attitude for one who is supposed to be working on swapping complaints for gratitude. Ah well, it's almost nap time. I am infinitely grateful for that.

And now I must go, because Clara has taken to spitting at Ben and he finally got fed up with it and slugged her. Can't really say I blame him. But now they are both screaming.

What is it about Mondays?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A funeral, a camp and a break.

Hazel's funeral is this afternoon. She hung on much longer than anyone expected she would considering how weak she has been for the last couple years. We think being surrounded by so much family made her want to stay and enjoy the party for a little while. She took her last breath holding her great-granddaughter's hand. We all should be so blessed.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support. It's going to be a long and busy day. My mother-in-law asked me last night if I could sing "How Great Thou Art" at the funeral. I was up late scrambling to find a downloadable track and try to get some practice in. I so rarely sing anymore I am nauseous this morning at the thought of it. And embarrassed even to admit that I am worried about a thing as petty as my pride right now.

Also, I am a leader for our Vacation Bible Camp this week and so I am going to stop by there at 8:30 this morning to meet my kids and hand off some instructions to the substitute they found for me. Then I have to drop the Weekids off at my sister-in-law's for the day so we can head off to the funeral and to a reception afterwards.

Bible School tends to make for an enjoyable, worthwhile, stressful, life sucking week. Grin. My head is just spinning with all I have to accomplish in the next five days so I am going to take a break from blogging until it's over.

Oh and by the way, my doctor's office called me Friday and said my blood work came in and they have finally diagnosed my mystery illness. I had the Parvo Virus which is also known as Fifth's Disease. Interestingly enough, this wise woman suggested that this might be the culprit weeks ago. She's a smarty pants that one. So, once we find a way to get my iron level back up to a healthy level it should all be behind me. I am very relieved.

I'll see everyone next week.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A legacy

It's a weird day here in Chaos. The Weekids and I met my sister-in-law at the neighborhood pool. The kids were thrilled to visit with their cousins while Ben perfected the art of enjoying the pool without ever actually getting in it. That boy's terrified of deep water. So he flitted around the outside spraying us all with squirt guns and occasionally venturing onto the top step. Where the water is ankle deep.

At the same time, my husband's family has all gathered at a hospital twenty minutes from here. His mother and siblings, aunts and uncles and cousins, waiting for his Grandmother to leave this world for the next one. The machines keeping her breathing were unplugged this morning, but still she hangs on. And so it is an awkward kind of waiting, as the family holds their breath and makes certain she feels nothing but love in these last moments.

And it feels strange to me, as I sit listening to my children splash in the tub, rinsing sunscreen and grime from their bodies. Laughing and living as any other day, in the joyful unhindered way that only children can. They have no knowledge of the vigil going on just across town, for their great-grandmother. This woman, Hazel, whom they do not know, but, yet, is a part of them. Because one day long ago, Hazel gave life to a girl named Mary, who gave life to a boy named Shane who gave life to them. And today, while they are splashing, or napping or having watermelon for snack, she will go on, to meet the one who gives life to us all.

Goodbye Hazel. Thank you for the legacy you have left us with. The legacy that has become my family. We are praying for peace for you and comfort for all the ones you leave behind.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Almost two.

This girl and I? We are at war. The battles are frequent. And loud. And violent. With lost tempers all around.

And I'm pretty sure she's winning.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Happy Birthday to me.

As some of you have surmised, today is my birthday. My 33rd birthday. As it is also a Monday, not a lot of actual birthday celebrating is taking place today. I did have a lovely lunch with my mother who gave me some money and strict instructions to spend it on myself. I have several things I have been needing so I was delighted with my small windfall. I decided to hit the mall this afternoon during The Weekids nap time.

At this point, let me stop and share a piece of advice. If someone gives you money to spend on yourself for your birthday, and one of the things you want to spend it on is a new swimsuit, don't even think about doing the shopping on your actual birthday. Because really, there is no more surefire way to ruin the anniversary of your birth than to strip half-naked in a department store and try on different pieces of way-too-freakin-small spandex clothing under fluorescent lighting.

And if, after you have sufficiently bruised your ego and given up on the swimsuit search, the thought pops in your head, "Well, I could use something cute to wear out with my husband this weekend, maybe I should look for that..." Don't do it. Just go home, have a piece of cake and a glass of wine and call it a day. Because as everyone knows, the moment you have guilt-free money to spend on yourself, one of two things will happen. Either the mall will stop carrying attractive clothing OR your body will morph into a freak of nature too deformed and misshapen to fit, or look decent in, a single item of clothing, no matter how cute it might look on the hanger. And when the latter takes place you will crawl home, on what is supposed to be a happy day, dragging your demolished self-esteem behind you and vowing never to be seen in public again.

Or you know, something like that.

So the advice? Don't try on clothes on your birthday. Unless you are one of those people whom everything looks great on. In which case, I am not sure I can continue be your friend.

Oh, I'm kidding.

Sort of.

On a happier note, I love bread. I mean I really love bread. All kinds. Dark ryes and pumpernickels, sourdoughs, seedy multi-grains and crusty baguettes. My love for fresh bread is second only to my love for chocolate. And it's a close second. So it is not coincidence that I woke up this morning I found a brand new bread machine sitting on the kitchen counter. I have been coveting one of these for years but never purchased one because I figured my hips didn't need the help. (The above shopping trip may be proof of this.) The Man, however, must not mind the hips because this was his birthday present to me.

I have been circling it all day and have picked up and put down the instruction manual several times. And now I have to admit, I am totally intimidated by this big shiny thing with all the buttons. The Man said I could exchange it if it was not the kind I wanted, but I have no idea what kind I want. I don't bake bread and I don't know a thing about bread machines. So I am asking for your help, my bread machine owning friends.

Is there anything I should look for in a bread machine? And what should I bake first?

Send me your recipes. And your tips.

Mercy, I'm asking for recipes for my birthday. Does that make me a grown-up now?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Never, ever...

The other day I was blog surfing and came across Boomama's post on twenty things she will never do. Since then I have been walking through my life randomly composing my own "I will never" post. And now, I just can't control myself any longer. So here it is, another idea I stole, shamelessly, from another blog. Just remember my friends, imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.

I will never:
  1. Have my entire home clean at one time.

  2. Buy another bikini. Chrissy just did, and I love her for it. But I have a map of Georgia in stretch marks across my stomach. A sagging, stretched out, map of Georgia. My bikini days are over.

  3. Understand the appeal of chewing gum. Yuk.

  4. Listen to this song without thinking about skipping high school with Melissa

  5. Be on a reality TV show.

  6. Stop crying at inappropriate places and times. This week it was at the Mexican restaurant in the middle of giving my order. Because I found out someone I knew was moving away. I have given up on trying not to be emotional. It's as much a part of me as cellulite.

  7. Stop worrying about my children.

  8. Say, "Oh, but I already have enough shoes."

  9. Grow tired of hearing my husband call me "beautiful".

  10. Look forward to working out.

  11. Consider sleeping in a tent and peeing outdoors a vacation.

  12. Enjoy playing competitive sports.

  13. Enjoy watching competitive sports (unless one of my kids are playing)

  14. Stop wishing my children would stay small.

  15. Give up chocolate. Ever. No matter the diet. If there's not a place for chocolate, it's not happening.

  16. Say "My birthday? Oh I am not celebrating my birthday this year. Let's just skip it." I love my birthday. And I plan on celebrating each and every one of them unashamedly. Even if I'm turning eighty. We'll just get a bigger cake for all the candles.

  17. Enter a bookstore without getting a little bit high.

  18. Wear clothing with words across my butt.

  19. Really be able to comprehend the depth of God's grace and love and mercy. I believe in these things, but I will never be worthy of them. Theses verses in particular always leave me in awe: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:11-12)

  20. Say, "I was just so busy today, I forgot to eat."
I am generally a "never say never" kind of person so I wonder which of these things will come back to bite me first.

So, what will you never?