Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Suburbian Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a little princess. She was beautiful and sassy and, as princesses tend to be, accustomed to getting her way. The princess' mommy - whom I suppose would be the Queen despite long ago abdicating all authority to the princess - dressed her in a lovely dress and matching hat for her afternoon play.

(The Queen wanted to take pictures of the princess in this particular outfit because her sister-in-law and niece had given it to her months ago and she had been shamefully remiss in thanking them.)

The princess' afternoon started off well. She was aware she looked particularly beautiful in her finery and she strutted about the yard showing off to anyone fortunate enough to be in her presence.

But then, something across the yard caught the princess' eye.

It was a handsome knight upon a steed of many colors. The knight was wearing his own hat which she immediately deemed superior to her own.

The princess let her will be known.


And the knight, being kind of heart and gentle in spirit (and more than a little afraid of the wrath of the princess) dismounted from his steed and gave his helmet to the princess.

The princess was immediately happy at having her demands met and resumed her deceptively sweet and adorable demeanor as she attempted to don the helmet.

Upside down.

After which, she also confiscated the knight's steed for herself.

For five minutes. Until she, also in the manner of all princesses, changed her mind and decided she didn't really want the helmet or the steed at all and went off to find something else to do.

The end.

(Thanks Aunt Lynn & Taylor for the lovely outfit. We love it and she wears it all the time!)


Despite the silly nature of this post, my heart is heavy with worries about all those in Gustav's path. I am praying fervently for you and hope the morning will find you all safe.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


My real life friend (I do have those, I swear) Kelly, tagged me for a meme recently. And since my well of inspiration is, as usual, quite shallow I thought it was as good a time as ever to resort back to "Random Facts":

3 random facts:
  1. I have a strong aversion to chewing gum. I think the idea of something that you chew and chew and then eventually spit back out is monumentally disgusting. I hate the sound of someone chewing gum. Even the smell gives me the heebie jeebies.
  2. By nature I can be sarcastic, opinionated and, well, a wee bit snarky. I try to suppress these traits because, for the most part, I do not find them to God honoring. So I fight a constant battle to obtain the kind, gentle, quiet nature of a Godly woman. But sometimes, it's just really hard.
  3. I eat my food one item at a time. It's a rule. I can't be hopping back and forth between the sandwich and the chips or the potatoes and the veggies. That's just craziness.
3 current obsessions:
  1. Blogging and Facebook and Twitter, Oh my! I may require an intervention for my out-of-control addiction to my online communities. I mean does everyone really need to know what I am doing every minute of every day? Apparently I think they do.
  2. Food. I have been on a diet for the last 5-6 weeks. I have lost 10 pounds, put a couple back on, and am now working at losing it again so I can then lose 30 more. But whether I am working my way up or down the scale, food is constantly on my mind.
  3. This coat from Project Runway last night. OK, maybe not technically an obsession. But Korto made this entire thing from Saturn seat belts. Seat belts, people! And I would totally pay tons and tons of money for one like it. You know, except for the fact that I am a broke mother of four who got her last coat for $7 at a consignment store. But whatever. It's awesome.
3 goals:
  1. Weight Loss, obviously.
  2. To decide what I want to do when I grow up when my kids grow up.
  3. To make time for God, just God, one on one, Every. Single. Day.
3 fears:
  1. Drowning (I have this illogical fear of bodies of water like lakes and oceans. Especially oceans.)
  2. Something happening to The Man or my kids.
  3. Being lukewarm in my faith and passing that on to my children.
3 joys:
  1. Coffee.
  2. Comments on my blog.
  3. Observing my children finding joy in each other. This is not always the case, especially with the older ones, but when it happens it makes everything else seem worth it.
  4. Listening to my children pray.
  5. Coffee
  6. Singing with my preschoolers. With other people's preschoolers. With kids in general. I just love how carefree and uninhibited they are about moving and making music when they are little. I wish we could stay like that. Just break into song or dance whenever we feel like it. I do this occasionally. My older kids love it. (That was that sarcastic thing coming out again.)
  7. Every night when the kids go to bed and The Man and I spend time together just the two of us. I know that I am extraordinarily blessed in my marriage and I try to never take my happiness (or his) for granted.
  8. Oh, and coffee.
Yeah. That was more than 3 joys. I'm a rebel like that.

Monday, August 25, 2008


It was Allison's twelfth birthday on Sunday. The festivities were low-key. Taylor coming to spend the weekend. Another trip to Medieval Times. A cake. A couple gifts. She's decided to forgo any kind of large birthday party the last couple years claiming "There's always too much drama." And once again I am amazed at how wise she is, and how much she knows her own mind.

Unfortunately, the last couple years have forced to realize that even she is not immune from insecurities. She came home from school last week confiding that she feels lonely. In one of her classes no one wants to be her partner. She repeatedly asks the girls around her but they say "We're full" and she is left alone to be put with whomever has an empty spot.

"It makes me feel like crying" she confessed in a small voice.

I searched for the words I was supposed to say. Something comforting and parental.
"It's their loss"

"Don't take it personally, Honey. You have lots of friends who love you."

"Everyone feels like this sometimes. Maybe you could look for someone else in your class that might be in the same situation."
When she left with a sigh to go downstairs my stomach was twisted in knots. I would have given so much to spare her the rejection that characterized my own middle school years. To never have her feel unwanted or to wonder if she isn't good enough.

But then, later the same night she confided in me again. Several boys in her class like her. One of them even asked her out. And my stomach did a different kind of flip as I asked her what she said. Concentrating on my voice to keep it casual.

"Ugh! I said NO, Mo-om. Boys my age are all stupid and annoying."

"Oh." I said fighting back a grin. "Well, I hope you weren't mean."

"No. I just told him that I don't date anymore."

Anymore? And I couldn't contain my smile at that. Because the previous dating she was referring to was a "boyfriend" she had for five minutes sometime last year.

I lay in bed last night contemplating this dichotomy. Rejection on one hand. Rejecting on the other. And I suspect this will always be the case for her. She believes so fiercely in her right to be who she is. To like the things that she likes even if no one else does. And reversely she refuses to pretend, or even consider, to be interested in things she's not.

And while I believe overall this is a positive trait, it also gets her into trouble. Other kids find her odd, or immature, or standoffish with all her rules. Even her own friends occasionally get frustrated with her unwillingness to compromise. And I struggle with teaching her the difference between considering others points of views and compromising her own.

Mostly though, I am proud.

Proud of my strong, sensitive, occasionally sassy, twelve-year-old girl who believes in her right to dislike leggings, bikinis, make-up, and pop-music. Who loves hippie clothes and fairy tales, Broadway and I Love Lucy. Who still enjoys playing with dollhouses and dressing-up. Who never wants to have to drive a car but can't wait to wear high-heeled shoes. Who thinks her dad is the perfect guy and wants to marry someone just like him someday.

I love the girl she has become.
And miss the one she used to be.

Happy Birthday to my Sunshine. I can't wait to see what your future holds.

*Note: While Allie is not a typical twelve-year-old in many respects she is still twelve. Which is to say she has started to share Brandon's disdain for everything I do having her life shared on my blog. As a result this will probably be the last introspective Allison post for quite a while. I'm going to try to respect her wishes and stick to just newsy stuff. And maybe a little bragging now and then.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A public apology

To the woman at the mall who carried her son kicking and screaming out of the play place after an all out war to get his shoes back on...

To the girlfriend who's daughter wailed for a banana and then threw it in her face shrieking "DON'T WANT DAT!" when she gave it to her...

To the mommy at the playground whose child walked up and smacked my son unprovoked...

To the lady at Chick-fil-A with the 2-year-old who pitched an all out fit because you wouldn't stand there and open and close the door for her to go in and out, in an out for an hour...

Or the mom whose child runs up to other children and screams in their face for the fun of it...

Or the one whose adorable little girl threw her milk on the floor because it wasn't "chocowate"...

Or the mother whose toddler spends all t-ball practice wailing that she "WANT TO GO HOME!"...

Or the parents of the many little ones who are determined to pitch a fit no matter how hard you try to pacify their ever changing demands...

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for every judgmental, eye-rolling thought I ever had about your parenting skills. For assuming you were lazy or unwilling to discipline your children. I have walked in your shoes now, and I too am at a loss as to how to parent my contrary tornado of a child.

And to God...

Who gave us charge of this beautiful strong-willed spirit, I'm sorry for thinking I could do it on my own. I'm sorry for having the nerve to think that my other gentle, mostly compliant children were a result of something we did right. Please forgive my pride, forgive my feelings of superiority and self-sufficiency.

And, God, just so you know, I've learned my lesson now. I've eaten a huge portion of humble pie. I know now that my patience is inadequate, my temper is short and my wisdom is clearly insufficient. I need Your help. Really. I get it,

I swear.
My adorable lesson in humility.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Summer's End

Labor day is still two weeks away. The days when the temperatures top off below ninety are rare and lovely treats. It's dusk now, and the cicadas and fireflies have come out to welcome the dark. Flip-flops. Tank-tops. Bug Spray. Children with red-brown skin and hair bleached unnaturally blonde by the sun. Everything alive croons 'summer.' Lazy and sticky and slow.

But in our home, in defiance of nature, summer has come crashing to an end. My older children started back to school last Monday. All four of them moved up a grade in Sunday School this morning. Choir resumed after the summer break. Voice lessons. T-ball. Football Season. Open Houses. The calendar fills up despite my efforts. Two entries tomorrow. Four the next day.

And more than anything else, for me, the end of summer is heralded by a familiar tightening in my stomach. A brain that lurches back to a higher gear. Weight settling back on my shoulders. Normally the result of trying to balance new schedules. Of anxiety about new grades and teachers and friends. It's why I dread the end of summer most of all. Laziness and boredom displaced by a too-fast pace that won't slow down 'til January.

And this year these feeling are compounded by change. In a couple weeks, Clara will go to preschool for the very first time. And, as a result, tomorrow I start a job. Two mornings a week teaching at my children's preschool to offset the cost of their tuition. A small thing, I know. Assisting with the teaching, managing, guiding of a dozen three-year-olds for nine hours a week. Certainly, nothing to have anxiety about. But for the first time in over four years, I will have a boss. Set hours that I am expected to be somewhere, sans my own children. To meet the expectations of others, outside of my home, for compensation.

A job.

And suddenly, today, as I am arranging childcare for my own Open House next week, I am a hit with the jitters. Not sure if I remember how to be a grown-up. And really, it barely qualifies. I am working with 3-year-olds. I don't even have to change out of my mom-iform of capris and flip-flops. It's a baby-step at best.

But still, I know it's the first step of many, out of this cocoon of tiny children with their all encompassing needs. To the place where their time away from me will stretch to hours everyday. And I will be forced to become someone else again. Someone no longer defined by the constant presence of her preschool children. And right now, the night before, that baby step feels a little too big.

And a little too soon.

Friday, August 15, 2008


This week I joined MySpace and Facebook at the urging of some friends who participate in one or the other. If you ask me to join Twitter, I will decline because 1) I still am not certain I understand what it actually is and 2) it would likely be the final step to hurl me so far down the internet rabbit hole I may never be seen in my real life again.

Anyway, I decided it was time to try to ignore the weight situation (Yes, I am still on the stupid diet) and take a current picture of myself for the sole purpose of plastering it all over the internet in bloggy, myspace, facebook, goodreads profiles. I attempted it this morning and while I can't say I love any of the pictures, I have come up with two that I can live with.

So pick one for me bloggy friends. And trolls, please be kind. My self esteem is a fragile thing these days.

Choice A
Choice B
The Man has expressed his vote, but I'll hold off on telling you what it is. And yes, the fabulous Nikki cut my hair again last week. But I actually paid her this time. Imagine that.

Well, obviously picture A won. I will now confess that The Man also preferred picture A and I was leaning towards picture B because I thought it better represented my personality. In fact he thought picture A so far superior he couldn't imagine anyone would vote for B. So thanks to those of you who did, for not making him completely unbearable. I am going to go with the masses on this one though, at least for now.

For the record, The Man also thought this whole blog post was a bit vain. Perhaps he was right about that too. But I'll never admit it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This time last year...

For Wordless Wednesday

I am happy to announce that Ben has grown up a lot and no longer does this. He would never put on socks and tennies just to raid the fridge now that he's four.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Annual Mug Shots

Well I am back from my Anniversary weekend to Asheville. It was pure awesomeness. Because the truth is, The Man and I are still nauseatingly in love.
Especially when we are away for the weekend with no kids, and no responsibilities and beautiful weather and wine and hotel housekeeping to come behind us and pick up all our messes.


The older Chaotic Kids started back to school today. Which meant they were forced to be subjected to their annual first day of school photographs. The pictures are always stiff and it is apparent, I think, that they both find this ritual annoying.

I can't help but think that someday, however, they will appreciate having them.

Brandon is starting is Junior year of high school.
He's 6'1" now and is sporting a tangerine Polo shirt, navy shorts and Brown Loafers. Outfit circa 1983.
His picture would have been outside as well, however he catches the bus at 6:20 in the morning, WHEN ITS STILL DARK OUTSIDE. Daylight Savings or not.

Allison is starting Seventh Grade.
She refused to smile for her picture despite the fact that I spent the twenty minutes prior flat ironing her hair. Pained expression notwithstanding she has been beside herself with excitement at starting back to school. She stands about 5' even and is wearing a 1960's inspired polka-dot baby-doll top with matching blue flip-flops.

For point of reference, and to see what a ridiculous sap I was, last years edition of the annual back-to-school mugshots is here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Did you believe me?

When I swore I would take a break, did you buy it?

I meant it when I said it. I did. But then this girl:


This girl, who every six months for the last six years walks into her salon and says "Just take off a few inches" decided today. On a complete whim.

To do this:

And in 30 minutes she aged 5 years.

My heart squeezes in my chest, each time I look at her now. It's amazing how something simple like a haircut can send the years leaping forward.

She turns twelve this month but it didn't really hit me until today. But she's still in there. That little girl of mine. Taller. Sassier. Moodier. But definitely still there.

Even with her stupid cute grown up haircut.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I'm taking a break now. I swear.

I am supposed to be on a blogging break. Which, ironically, I am finding difficult despite the fact that I could barely find a minute to blog prior to declaring the need for time off. Apparently, the best cure for lack of blogging time or inspiration is to swear off blogging. I was immediately besieged with things I felt I must share with the Internets.

For example, I discovered, while back to school shopping with Allie on Friday, that my mall now has one of these stores. Honestly, I got so excited just walking by it, I almost couldn't contain myself. And I nearly came home and wrote an ode to my make-up fetish, and specifically my 5 year long obsession with all things Bare Escentuals. But I didn't.

At least not until now.

However, this week really will be terribly busy and I doubt I will get another post in until I return from my anniversary mini-vacation with The Man. (Although I can't swear another pressing topic like mineral make-up or work-out wardrobe malfunctions won't arise.)

I am proud to say, I am making great progress on the house cleaning front. My mother-in-law will actually be able to find my bed now without tripping on a single thing. Even in the dark! I am sure this news comes as a great relief to her.

So I leave you now with pictures of the Weekids and their cousins at the pool this week. It is a joy to know that while we have have accomplished nothing else this summer, we managed to get Ben happily off the steps and into the pool.
Praise God for water wings.
Next summer, we'll work on Clara.