Thursday, July 31, 2008

If... the name of the stupid diet (which is still working so slowly you could barely call it working) you decided to do a workout video this afternoon...

If...once you decided this, you put on your workout pants with the missing drawstring that you have had since 1999. (because goodness knows you haven't worked out enough between now and then to warrant purchasing new ones.)

If...once you started working out you became infuriated with the peppy workout instructor who insists that salsa is really just two steps: forward, back, forward, back and makes it look easy and sassy when you just look like a panting hippo. then started hurling inappropriate phrases at said workout instructor and finally decided to turn off the video and try something easier. Like walking. at this point realized that your workout pants were now actually around your lower buttocks-region. And you didn't even notice because you were wearing tummy-sucking granny panties that went way above your belly button. You know, because you can't stand the feeling of a jiggling tummy during exercise.

If...this happened to you...

You would be very, very happy for your "absolutely no other people allowed in the basement during mommy's workout under penalty of death" policy.

Just thought you should know.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Do you guys know Lori? She went on a rant today that hit very close to home for this mom of two adolescents.

Thanks Lori. You're my hero.

I Surrender

I have been trying very hard not to be on a blogging break. And failing. Desperately. Because school starts back for my two older children in two weeks. And suddenly I am trying to cram in summer's last hurrah between haircuts and trips to shop for clothes and shoes and three ring binders. And preparing my first 3-year-old choir lesson. And scheduling voice lessons and t-ball practices. And my brain is spinning like a top.

And I am planning a trip out of town for my anniversary next weekend. Which is to say that I have decided we are going out of town for our anniversary next weekend, but am still not certain where. But I am certain my mother-in-law is coming to stay here. In my house for the weekend. And sleep in my bed. And that means she must be able to find my bed amid the piles of clothes and books and craft supplies and shoes and toys-to-be-passed-down that currently surround it. And so I must clean.


And it is possible that when next Friday night comes The Man and I will get in the car and drive and still not know where we are going or staying. And that will be okay. Because the only voices in the car will be our own. And wherever we stay will not need to have a fridge for milk or a portable crib or a pullout sofa. We'll only need the one bed, thank you.

And the rest of it won't really matter.

But for now. I am defeated. Chaos reigns supreme.

I'll see you when I come up for air.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Happy Linking (UPDATED)

I've been working on another post all weekend with no progress. I have rewritten the first two paragraphs three times. So while my writer's block and I are hashing it out, I thought I would leave you with some links of things that made me smile this week.
  1. Have you seen this movie? It's about a man who goes a little crazy and falls in love with a life-sized doll. Totally bizarre. But also, I thought, kind of wonderful.

  2. This column by the amazing Julie Berry made me laugh out loud. And feel more than a little disturbed.

  3. Have you watched Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog yet? It's quirky, endearing, satirical and just plain funny. Oh and there's singing. It turns out Boomama is also a fan. You can find her endorsement here. Note: iTunes rates this as PG, but I don't agree with the rating. Singing or not, it's really not for kids. Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog is now available at MySpace for free. Yippee.

  4. And lastly here's a little Leona Lewis/So You Think You Can Dance. Because how could you go wrong with that combo? And because it's awesome. Although not technically from this week.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


So, it's Thursday. Day four of the stupid diet and I am still plugging along. I've been steadily packing on the weight for over a year now. Yet, somehow, some part of me thinks four lousy days of self-deprivation and workout videos should be enough to make me thin again. Because in Joy-World that would be the case. Of course in Joy-World there would be no calories in bread or cheese or New York Super Fudge Chunk and this whole paragraph would cease to exist.

A girl can dream.

I took the Weekids to a children's museum today. Clara was in one of her "I will not have fun and you can't make me" moods but Ben enjoyed himself. On the way there we had to stop the car to let twenty geese cross the road. Very slowly. After watching them pass, Ben asked matter of factly,

"Mom, when will I get my baby goose? They are very cute."

I snorted and said something like. "Um, never. Geese don't like to be pets. They like to be free to swim in the ponds." And take leisurely strolls across the road apparently.

"Oh" he responded. "Well, how about my flying car? When will I get that?"

I burst into laughter at his randomness. I was also a little impressed at his ability to assume the sale. There may be a future there.

"I don't think they make flying cars, Ben."

"Oh" he said again, and then sighed his disappointment. "Well, they should."

Apparently Ben-World involves flying cars. And pet geese. Not a bad dream either, I'd say. Well, maybe not the geese part. Geese are kind of mean.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Here we go again

It's been kind of a crappy rotten day so far. This shouldn't really surprise me since Mondays and I rarely see eye-to-eye. But I am even more short-tempered and surly than usual.

Because I am going to die of starvation.

I've made it no secret that I have been in a losing battle with my waistline since I started this blog. I have heard that the best approach to weight loss is diet and exercise. But it turns out I don't actually like dieting or exercise. So I tried another approach.

"Don't exercise, Eat what I want, and ignore the fact I am packing on weight like a bear preparing for winter."

This approach was much more enjoyable. However the resulting two clothing sizes in the last year is getting kinda hard to ignore. So I started another diet. I am actually doing pretty well. I mean, my goodness, just the fact that it's 2PM and I am still on the diet means it's more successful than my last dozen efforts.

But I am starving. Did I mention I'm starving? I might wither away to nothing by the end of this post.

My family doesn't like it when I jump back on the weight-loss-wagon (Besides The Man who is probably relieved but knows better than to say so) because I throw all the good food away. And because food detox makes me really grouchy.

And my dog, whom I love nearly as much as carbs has started peeing all over our house. We discovered a bee's nest outside her doggy door and although we have eliminated it she's terrified to go out there. So a couple times a day I drag her outside hoping eventually she will realize the threat is gone.

And Ben has started having accidents again. And Clara thinks it's fun to take off her diaper and pee on the floor. So it feels like all I am doing today is cleaning up after people/animals that can't seem to urinate in their designated spots!

And when I got to Sam's Club today I realized I had left my wallet in my Sunday School bag from yesterday. So I had to drive all the way back home again to get it.



When I finally got back to Sam's, instead of buying myself a bulk size bag of chocolate - which would be my normal response to a crappy rotten day - I saw this:
It was all three movies people! And I just had to get it.

And suddenly my day became better, because all that Anne Shirley/Megan Follows melodrama in one box...Oh my! I can't tell you how much I adored these as a kid. Allison is watching them right now. (We watched them together after she read the books.) But as much as I would like, I cannot plop down next to her because I have to go grocery shopping. Just so my silly family can have dinner tonight.

But just knowing they are there waiting for me makes me all warm and fuzzy. Well kinda warm and fuzzy. I'd be more warm and fuzzy knowing they were waiting for me with popcorn. And Reeses Pieces.

Stupid diet.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I confess...

I didn't go to Blogher.

And I am pretty darn happy about it. I am not a big-name-blogger. I will never be a big-name-blogger. And while there was a time I thought I wanted that, it turns out I am pretty O.K. with my mediocre blog status now.

Because I would totally crumble under the pressure to produce brilliance day after day.

And going all the way to San Fran to meet other people who may or may-not have happened on some of my writing sounds like a form of slow and painful torture. Death by mortification.

So there, my secret's out. I don't want to meet any of you people.

O.K. there are a few of you I would kind of like to meet. In a one-on-one or very small group setting. For a limited amount of time. You know, in case I am so incredibly dull I need to hide under the table with a basket of rolls you are a total nut job.

I am looking forward to reading your stories. Please tell me everything. Who you did you meet? How much did you drink? Who's funny, kind, genuine, just-as-wonderful-as-you-knew-they-would-be? And I will read it. Soaking up every bit and genuinely in awe that you had the confidence to go and actually enjoy it.

But, I'll be very happy it was you and not me.

Well, about 95% happy. And the other 5% can shut-up. It's never. gonna. happen.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Haiku Friday: Milestone

A proud boy, driving
Dad beside him calm, guiding
Better him than me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A petition

Dear God,

I would like to file a complaint on one small item in your glorious plan of creation.

I just don't think that this:

should be allowed to become this:

in one short year.

I'm not certain our hearts are strong enough to take it. Mine, for example, feels as if it might crack in two today. Surely we could slow things down just a bit?

Top notch job on those baby cheeks though. Could be your best work ever.

Lots of love,

Chaotic Joy


Happy Birthday to my sweet and spicy baby girl. Please don't grow too fast.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Rambling - This Time with Bullets

  • Tomorrow is Clara's second birthday. Last year I wrote this post about her first birthday party experience. And, should you care to revisit it, you will understand why I have decided to forgo any such celebrations this year. The pictures are a bit heart-tugging though. It's mind blowing how much she has changed in the last year. She was still sweet then. Oh, I'm kidding. She's sweet now. You know, as long as the world is turning on the axis of her whims.

  • I went for a pedicure yesterday during the Weekids nap. I tend to go more for vampy red toenails than the classier natural or French that are popular these days. This time I decided to branch out a bit though and go for pink. A kind of pink - I realized two minutes after it was on my feet - that is really only suited for 8-year-old girls and their Barbie Dolls. So everywhere I went today I found myself hiding my feet. Because really, who could possibly take me seriously with toes like these? Yep. My tootsies are on the internet. It's a new highpoint for the blog I think. And yes, my skin really is that white. Year round. (Suddenly my affinity for hats has become clear to all.)

  • Our new cat Kelso has killed two mice in our basement family room this week. Glorious creature. (Kelso, not the dead mice) But I admit I am kind of creeped out by this. I can't help but wonder how many other rodents we are unknowingly sharing our home with. I also can't help but wonder why it is that The Man felt the need to put each of the deceased mice in Ziplock baggies and show them to me. Maybe it's like me, with my garish toenails. He thought I couldn't really appreciate the effect without a visual.

  • Leslie did a Tackle-it-Tuesday post today about organizing her children's messy bookshelves . I thought that was very ironic because Ben also organized his bookshelves today. His entire room in fact. And while we are on the theme...I have visual proof of this as well.

And now my children are in bed. And I have a date with my husband and a glass of wine to view some trashy reality television. Good stuff.

Monday, July 14, 2008


For Best Shot Monday

Ben stops playing in the sandbox to watch an airplane's journey through the sky.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Alone and In Love

It's Sunday morning and my family went to church without me. My head is pounding but the truth, which I confessed to The Man, is I just desperately needed a couple hours alone. "I'm drowning in children," I said. "I just need to come up for air."

One of our pastors is doing a series on marriage. The wives took their medicine last week and today it's the husband's turn.

"Go without me, honey, and learn how to be a good husband already!" I said with a grin.

And then I chuckled at my joke as he cheerfully herded our four spit-shined children out the door and into the minivan.

That man should be teaching the class.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I took two weeks off blogging, with the intention of finding my voice. Instead I have come down with an stubborn case of writer's block. I have started and abandoned half a dozen posts. I want to write for the sake of writing but a topic eludes me. My days seem depressingly void of inspiration.

My Clara is turning two on Wednesday. Time marches on. And lately with my time and patience stretched to the breaking point, that seems not all bad. But then I heard this song on the radio yesterday for the first time. I sat in the car and wept.

Not just about Clara, but about all four of them. The older two especially, their time when I can shelter them is running out. For Brandon, the time when he wants my shelter is long past.

But this was not meant to be a melancholy post. I don't really feel melancholy. Just introspective. And tired. Always tired.

I took this picture this week and it made me smile. The Weekids have spent so much time together this summer that it seems they are always bickering. But then I look at this and see it's not really always.
It's my prayer that when I cannot shelter them any more, that they will have learned to find security in a God who's never stretched too thin.

But also I hope each other.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Anemia, My Foot!

THIS is why I'm tired...

I took these pictures Monday because I wanted to get a shot of my baby smiling for once.

Really, I think these photos explain life with Clara better than any words I could write. I am thinking of using number four as my new Avatar.

And today, she figured out how to escape from her crib.

Your prayers for us during this time are appreciated. We're also accepting gifts in the form of child restraint devices and sedatives. (Don't worry the sedatives are for me)

Monday, July 7, 2008


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And crumbs.

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

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

Originally posted September, 2007.

I know most of you read this post the first time, but I spent the day today frustrated and snapping at my children because they wouldn't give me any peace to get done the things I wanted. Practical things that seem petty in retrospect. I just kept wishing they would 'leave me alone' long enough to get something accomplished. Grumbling. Then, when I was looking for something to repost for today I came across this post.

How many times must I learn the same lesson?
For Best Shot Monday.I have so enjoyed this break from blogging and am making my return very slowly. So, this week will probably involve another repost or two. And more pictures. I am also gradually catching up at your places.

But next week...only new stuff, I promise.

Also, due to the overwhelming response (snort) I am leaving the offer open for one more week for anyone who wants to do a guest post. EVEN IF YOU DO NOT HAVE YOUR OWN BLOG. If you have been reading here and think you would like to dabble in this blogging thing, here's your chance. Just shoot me an email, or leave a comment here. As long as I don't have to write it and it doesn't include profanity, or mean things about my relatives, I'll post it. How's that for high standards?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday

Today I will dress my children in your colors. We will gather with family and drink soda out of plastic cups and laugh about how the children have grown. We will complain about the heat and eat too much. And then when it grows dark we will put sparklers in the hands of our wide eyed children and fight the crowds to watch mock bombs explode into beautiful colors.

And hopefully we will remember. We'll remember to tell those children why today is special. How 232 years ago you were born of men with conviction and foresight. Men who, like so many mothers, were willing to sacrifice all of themselves to bring you into existence. How, being birthed from men, and raised by them, you are not perfect. But you are beautiful. And strong. And how life with you is unimaginably better than life so many other places.

How people still sacrifice all they have for a chance to be one of your children. To raise their children under your protective wings and share in your abundance. How men and women work tirelessly in uniforms and with laws and hands and hearts to keep you strong, to protect your honor, to heal your injuries and preserve your beauty.

And hopefully we'll remember to tell those children that one day the responsibility will be theirs. To protect you. To stand up against injustice and vote for things that will make you stronger. That will protect your heart, both fierce and fragile. That it's not enough just to call you our own. And that disparaging you without any efforts to change what is wrong dishonors all those who sacrificed their lives for the belief that you are worthy.

Happy Birthday America. I am proud to call you my child, my mother, my protector, my country.

My home.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Taking Things for Granted - A Guest Post

I'm terrified of posting this! It's my first time guest blogging anywhere (a big thank you to Joy for giving the opportunity!). I want to come across as being witty, interesting, pleasant and purposeful. I probably won't succeed....

So here is what I wrote. It gives a small peek into my life and thoughts. Comments, either here, or on my own blog, are extremely welcome. Even if you were bored to tears, I would still like to know!!

It's so easy to take things for granted. I spent my elementary school years in Ethiopia. The things I took for granted were the sunshine, the many trips overseas, the friends of all nationalities, the lack of good food, the holes in the roads, the smell of injera, dust and eucalyptus and the poverty everywhere. I wasn't shocked by the fact that kids walked around with hardly any clothes on. To me, that was normal!

When I came to the States when I was 13 I was utterly shocked at the overabundance of .... well.... practically everything. I remember taking home the lunches that my classmates didn't eat. I just couldn't bear to see good food being thrown away. But it didn't take me all that long to get used to that as well.

And now, living in Holland. I take the health care system for granted. My son is a hemofiliac and this is THE country to be living in for him! We have everything we need, and more. And I toss out leftovers without much of a second thought even though I know what living on the other end of the spectrum is like.

We humans seem to be programmed to perceive our immediate surroundings as being "normal". It's not often enough that we get a jolt, the realization that "hey, this is actually pretty neat!". The awareness that life is a gift and that we live in luxury. It's easy to get bogged down in the details in our own small spectrum of life and take all that we have for granted. Taking things for granted can also lead to "shuttered" thinking. Rigid rules and regulations, often of our own making, then define our lives.

Because I have grown up in different cultures I tend to look further than the "way things are supposed to be". I will often question the "rightness" of a statement, a rule or a regulation because I can easily imagine a situation where that same rule may be utter nonsense. I have a lot of shades of grey in my life. Sometimes that makes things difficult, I miss the cultural borders that define life and make living within them a safe happening. On the other hand I am happy with the fact that I am broadminded and hopefully also easily approachable.

I think it is this that I want to pass on to my children. A sense of the world being bigger than their direct surroundings, a feel for differences in culture, an open mind for new things, and respect to take those things seriously. And above all, I hope they don't take the "luxury" of our lives for granted.

My guest post today is by Marit from My Life in Holland. I am new to Marit's blog but boy has she lived an interesting life. She has lived in Ethiopia, Kenya, the US and currently resides in Holland with her husband and two kids. As you can tell from this post it has given her a very unique perspective on our world. Thank you so much Marit for answering my cry for guest-posts during my hiatus. You are my first ever guest blogger.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Still, just a mom.

Growing up, I never wanted to be a mom. I wasn't the kind of child that played with dolls or cooed over babies. My mother had children very young and I looked at her life taking care of us as dull and uninspired. She sacrificed too much of herself, I thought. It can't be worth it. I was determined to do something more exciting with my life. But as typically happens, life didn't turn out as I planned. For that I am grateful.

I genuinely love staying at home with my children. Despite my occasional emotional breakdowns I love being a mom. And even more surprisingly I feel fulfilled by it. I know that eventually I will have to decide what my life will hold once it doesn't have small children in it, but for now I am happy doing what I do. Being a stay at home mom is a gift I never knew to ask for.

I hear many mothers lament that they are treated as being less significant because they don't work outside the home. I can honestly say I have never felt this. Maybe it's because I, as most people, tend to surround myself with like-minded people. Maybe it's just the number of kids I have, and four kids seems enough to keep anyone busy. Maybe I am just oblivious, but I have never felt my role belittled or less valued. What I have felt, is less interesting.

I recently had dinner with a friend from highschool. We laughed and rolled our eyes the silly girls we used to be while hoping to recognize something of those girls in the woman across the table. When the reminiscing and gossiping lulled we progressed to our lives as they are now. She was still single and preparing to move to another state for her career. And as I babbled on with one story after another about my children and she commented politely, I realized I had better move on to another topic.

"Um..." Surely there's something else...

"Hmmm, I uh..." Crap. That's all I've got.

This has increasingly become a problem for me: trying to find something, anything, to talk about with women who don't have children. I have become so entrenched in this role as a mother of four that everything I am, (my activities, my words, my thoughts, my blog) is painted with the color mom. It's scary, this complete giving over of all that I was to a new identity that only has one layer. What will happen when it inevitably peels away? Will there be anything left?

With my life as it is right now, I don't really have a choice. My children, with their varying demands, simply take up all the time I have each day. More time, in fact, than I have each day. It's a season. But I am clinging to the hope that once this season passes and the little ones no longer need me in such an all encompassing way, that I will be able to start creating a new layer. Still tinted with my love for my children, as I always will be, should be, but maybe not blanketed by it. Maybe you'll be able to see through it a little, to the woman underneath.

Until then, I'll bear my just-a-mom banner proudly and try to remember the honor it carries with it. An honor for which becoming insufferably dull really is a small price to pay. And in the meantime I'll go read some more books. So at least I'll have that to talk about.

Originally posted June, 2007. A year ago but I could have written it today.