Sunday, March 8, 2009

Our Week in Pictures

Last Sunday we played in the snow...A monumental occasion here in Georgia.

Clara and I built a snow baby.

She loved it.

Monday the snow turned to ice so we were out of school. We had cabin fever so Beck inspired us to have a beach party.

It was awesome.
Wednesday I scored a dozen of these amazing roses for $3.99. It's true!

Friday, my oldest child turned seventeen. Which was fun, and sad, and bizarre. I managed to nab this one, solitary, shot before he dashed out to celebrate with his friends. His friends were there when I took this. The weird pose is for their benefit. We can't be taking our sentimental mothers too seriously now.

Saturday, Ben had his first soccer game. He loved it.He's number four. Like his age, he says.

And then Saturday night, although there are no pictures The Man took Brandon to the Atlanta Hawks game while the Weekids went to a birthday party and Allie and I went on a date. We saw The Shopaholic movie. Which was formulaic and silly but she loved it and it inspired quite a long discussion about proper spending habits and credit card debt.

Overall it was a great week. And looking back at it like this it's easy to see, my life is pretty darn amazing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

An interview with my two middle children...

What Allie (Age 12)and Ben (Age 4) think of their mom...

1. What is something mom always says to you?
Allie - "How was your day?"
Ben - "You watched enough TV"

2. What makes mom happy?
A - "Pink"
B - "Love, like kisses and hugs.

3. What makes mom sad?
A - "Whining Kids"
B - "When I do bad stuff"

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
A - "When she sticks her tongue out at me."
B - "She says funny things like, I'm going to give you lots of kisses!"

5. What was your mom like as a child?
A- "Nice"
B -"She liked books." (Very true, Ben)

6. How old is your mom?
A - 34
B - 13
(I'm 33)

7. How tall is your mom?
A - 5'9"
B - 50 degrees
(I'm 5'6")

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
A - "Sing Songs"
B - "Sit on the computer"

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
A - "Play on the computer" Are we sensing a theme here?
B - "She plays with Clara"

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
A - "Singing"
B - "What's famous?"

11. What is your mom really good at?
A - "Singing and Drawing and Writing"
B - "Watching Clara"

12. What is your mom not very good at?
A - "Sports"
B - "Doing Exercise"
(Both very true!)

13. What does your mom do for her job?
A - "Teach"
B - "Grocery Shopping"

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
A - "Chocolate" (Yes!)
B - "Macaroni" (Um, no.)

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
A - "That she's nice."
B - "When she listens to my questions"

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
A - "Um, A mix of different characters like Winnie the Pooh & Eeyore
B - "What?? I don't know what you're talking about."

17. What do you and your mom do together?
A - "Shop"
B - "Play Games"

18. How are you and your mom the same?
A - "We both like shopping."
B - "You have a red shirt and I have a red shirt"

19. How are you and your mom different?
A - I have blonde hair and my mom doesn't. (For the record I DO have blonde hair. I pay good money to get it that way.)
B - "You have brown eyes and I have blue eyes"

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
A - "Because she tells me."
B - "She gives me a lot of love and kisses."

21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
A - "Ann Taylor Loft and the park"
B - Publix (As in, the grocery store. This answer is incorrect.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009


The thing about having a passel of kids is that at any given point I will be bogged down with worry about at least one of them. I guess it's possible that even if I had only one child, I would still fret constantly and by having four I simply have managed to spread my neuroses about. Ah well, at the least now they can qualify for group therapy. I hear it's cheaper.

For the last couple weeks the primary object of my worry has been Ben. Oh, not just Ben, of course. His two older siblings, just by nature of their ages regularly provide fodder for my angst. But Ben is the one who has been keeping me up at night. Some of his old nemeses that have refused for years to go quietly into the night have once again taken a front row seat in our lives. Any eating progress he may have made in the last two years seems to have virtually disappeared in the last six months. He has grown weary of the handful of table foods he would accept and his diet has returned to primarily crackers, applesauce and babyfood. Yes, babyfood. Just when we thought we were nearly free of the stuff, it's made it's way back onto the grocery list.

And I loathe it. The quiet embarrassment of defeat just at piling it into my cart, as if some acquaintance may happen by, forcing me to confess that the food is not for a baby at all, but for my almost 5-year-old. The glass jars lined up in rows on my kitchen counter. Dumping the sludge into the same tiny plastic bowls long ago stained orange like Ben himself was for years. Even his triumphant cries of "I ate it all, mom!" ring of failure. The failure of years of therapy and pleading, bribing and punishing that has somehow only managed to bring us right back to where we started.

And then there are other things. Smaller, probably even insignificant, things that seem large in the light of that one glaring failure. A sudden onslaught of bathroom related accidents- underwear and clothing found hidden or stuffed in the hamper. Handwriting that seems noticeably behind that of his classmates. Tears, still, every time we wash his hair. These things collectively giving me a nagging feeling that somehow we haven't done right by our sensitive, kindhearted boy.

Lately, he has taken to singing a new favorite song, "Kindergarten, my hearts on fire for Kindergarten" to the tune of Elvira. An adorably funny and happy song they are working for his preschool graduation. It cracks me up every time. But at the same time it makes my heart catch in my throat. Kindergarten. Next year, he is going to kindergarten. And I wonder if he is ready. I waver on this decision daily. Will he thrive outside of the comfort and familiarity of his tiny preschool? Will it help him to take the necessary steps forward or will it only make him more conscious of his differences? Will he become frustrated? Will he feel less?

Logically I know that this is just what we do. It's part of our wiring as mothers to worry about our children. I know that I was concerned about this step for the older two as well. I know that it is normal for us to wonder how how well we have done our part to prepare them, to fear that that it hasn't been enough, to wish for their success. Logically I know that to want to lock their hearts in a box to keep them from ever being stepped on is normal, but unhealthy and ultimately imposible.

Logically, I know that just because he doesn't eat doesn't mean he won't be just fine in school. That one thing doesn't in any way predicate the other.

I know these things. I say these things. My mind even believes them to be true. But, this mama's heart, it's just not convinced.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Conversation with Ben

Ben has been on my mind a lot lately. I have a post started about that, which I hope to get up sometime this week. (Why is it such a struggle for me to actually finish a post anymore?) The other day I photographed Ben during one of our conversations. For once he didn't ham it up for the camera and I was able to just snap pictures while we talked. I don't remember what we were talking about exactly but I know he was trying to convince me of something. You can tell by the final shots that that he was disappointed with the outcome. I love how the pictures came out though, how his expressions changed just in the 2 minutes we were talking.

I can't help but wonder if any of these expressions will stick with him. If I look back at these pictures when he is an adult, will I recognize at all the man he has become in this little boy trying to get his way? Pouting aside, I kind of hope so. I'm pretty attached to him.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Funny Valentine...

Baby Clara, two years ago on St. Valentine's Day. Also a view of the now defunct wallpaper.

Both long gone. But one, I miss.

(Hint: It's not the wallpaper.)

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day*

Today I left the house early to go to a 5th orthodontist evaluation for Allie, because my sister-in-law said this doctor was significantly cheaper for them. Their estimate was $500 higher than any of the previous four. Apparently, my daughter has expensively crooked teeth.

And then when I checked her into school and raced home to meet the cleaners that were supposedly arranged by the contractors to clean up their mess...they were a no show.

So I checked my email and found out my other sister-in-law** was no longer available to babysit for our all-expenses-paid trip to Clearwater, Florida for my husband's job. Meaning we may not be able to go. All expenses paid or not.

I turned down a visit to the park because I had to take Brandon to a dermatologist appointment.

Brandon forgot his dermatologist appointment and got on the bus, so when The Littles and I showed up to pick him up, he was on his way home.

When I got home and called the dermatologist they said they would be sending us a bill for $50 as a no show fee.

I stopped to pick up a can of diced tomatoes on the way home to throw something together for dinner. I noticed the store brand was on sale so I bought several. When I got home, I realized I had bought all stewed tomatoes instead.

I burned my hand on hot oil cooking dinner.

When I went to give the kids a bath I found poop on the bathroom wall. When I asked Ben why there was poop on the wall, he said "Because I had it on my hand..."

When the kids were taking a bath I checked Clara's folder and found out the box I was sending in for her Valentines in the morning was actually supposed to be decorated. By her. It was 8:45 PM.

I didn't finish a single load of laundry.

I didn't meal plan or grocery shop.

My home is still a disaster.

It felt like a thoroughly wasted day.

Some days are like that...

Some days are like that, it's true. Today was a bad day. It was easy to say that, and I did. Repeatedly. I whined to anyone who would listen to me talk. I was an absolute grump.

But my day, it wasn't really so bad. Not one significant thing went wrong. And, as I sat with Ben and Clara, up past their bedtime and happily gluing paper hearts onto a shoebox, I knew that to be true. It was simply a day of aggravations like so many others. I made it so much worse by choosing to make my happiness, and convenience the only priority. I wallowed in self-pity about a possibly canceled trip. I yelled at my son about his missed appointment, and my other son about the poop on the wall (I kind of forgive myself for that one.) I pouted. I snapped. I cried.

And I failed to honor God in a single thing I did. In fact, I left Him out of my day completely. Because there was no room for Him beside my self-pity. And dagummit...I wanted to feel sorry for myself. I deserved to feel sorry for myself. All day long things didn't go my way. All day long, people failed to consider me. It's a common problem of the human condition: righteous indignation. We cling to that word "righteous" as use it as an excuse to lash out at the people who have wronged us. Or in my case, at the universe that was obviously conspiring against me.

But the problem was, that as a child of God, by not rising above my tiny, temporal, annoyances to show kindness and love to those around me I failed to show that I believe these things to be small and temporal. I failed to show that I believe in anything greater than myself. And for that, I am ashamed. I recently did a Bible Study on finding joy regardless of our circumstances, and the key concept I took away from it was that we must keep our focus upward - on God, and outward - on others. That if we live each day focusing inward, we will always ride the emotional roller coaster of our feelings and never find the peace that comes with an eternal perspective.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always. ~1 Chronicles 16:9-11.
True, consistent joy can only come from keeping our eyes focused upwards. Something I obviously need some work on.

Tomorrow will be better. I believe it. For even if it's not, I will be. And for everyone who had to listen to me whine today, I'm sorry.

*My apologies to Alexander and his creator, Judith Viorst, for my shameless, and pathetic, rip off of her work. We love that book at our house, and it was the term "Some days are like that, even in Australia" that kept popping in my head as I went through my day today.

*My sister-in-law cancelled babysitting for a very good reason. I love her dearly and hold no animosity towards her for cancelling and am in fact, honored that she had agreed to stay with the fearsome foursome at all. We have very few people in our lives willing to take on that challenge. Hmmm, don't think today's post helped that situation much.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Fave 5 (Updated)

Well today is supposed to be my Friday Fave 5, but due to writing time constraints it may turn out to be the Friday Fave 1 or 2 followed by the Saturday Fave 4 or 5. I have lots to be grateful for this week and so I am determined to share, Friday or not.

1.My first item this week is one I am terribly excited about. My kitchen has finally been painted and I am in love with the color. Please excuse the excess of drywall dust permeating the air and every. single. surface. That will be addressed tomorrow.
This picture I took using the flash but the color didn't seem to be showing exactly right. It looked washed out. So, I tried another one, without the flash.Dark and blurry aside, I think it much better represents the color.

And here is one that shows a little better the contrast between the upper and lower wall but is still washed out by the flash. Please ignore the ugly cabinets with their peeling fake brass hardware. That's next on our list and based on our history it should be done in, oh, another 5 years.As you can see we cleared the counters of everything besides the necessities: Coffeemaker, toaster, sugar bowl and a bowl of Valentines M&Ms.

Well I must leave now to go pick up Allie from her voice lessons and take her to her cousin's 14th birthday party which, she just sprung on me, is co-ed. CO-ED.

I'll leave you marinating in that thought while I go throw up. Tune in tomorrow for updates on the co-ed party and for the rest of the Friday Fave 5.

UPDATE: We received a phone call while we were out tonight from my brother-in-law letting us know that we were misinformed and there was "no way in heck" that the party would include boys. There was apparently some confusion. Sorry guys. And, well...whew!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Worth checking out...

Heather at The Extraordinary Ordinary is collecting comments. For each comment they receive on this post they will donate a dollar to a family whose daughter, Tuesday, has terminal cancer. I love the idea of this. I love that each dollar that they give them will represent thought or prayer for their family. So go there, read Tuesday's heartbreaking story, say a prayer for the family and leave a comment.

EDITED-Comments for this are now closed as the family as given as much as they were able.

Also, This letter from the Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara to Sasha and Milia Obama on growing up in the White House is lovely and gracious and poignant. Thanks Lori for bringing it to my attention.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fridays Fave 5

So I know yesterday's post was a bit melancholy the most depressing blog post ever. It took me a few days to write it, and I decided, spontaneously, to hit post while hanging out at a coffee shop waiting for Allie to finish her voice lesson. I would never have done so if my blog wasn't private now, out of respect for the other families involved. For the record, Brandon was not involved in that situation at all, and I didn't mean to imply that or even that he is headed in that direction. It's just that it suddenly feels like a only a few small steps from here to there. And that's scary. And because of that my heart is just breaking for the families that are involved.

Sigh. Inhale. Exhale. OK, moving on...

I have decided to resurrect the Friday's Fave Five. Because I am trying to regain some kind of blogging structure and what better way than a weekly commitment. And even better, a weekly commitment dedicated to positivity. I can hear the collective sigh of relief. So here goes, The Five Favorite Things -that come to mind right now- From My Week.

  1. Brandon's basketball game. The game was not unusual, Brandon has basketball games every week, but this game he played particularly hard and well. It was a joy to watch him. The ride home was a happy one and we chatted easily about his game and his day at school. As much as I try these moments of comfortable conversation can't be created, making them feel all the more precious when they sneak up on me.
  2. Shrinking. I am on a diet. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter (or, bless your heart, both) you already know this, because you have been subjected to near daily laments about the foods I must - or must not - eat. So obviously the diet in itself is not the Friday Fave entry. The diet stinks. But I had my final January weigh in today and I am down 11 pounds since the first of the year. Excited? Why, yes I am. Shallow? Yep, that too.
  3. A new coat. Since we've established the shallow thing, let's run with it shall we? I got a new coat at Target yesterday and I totally love it. Here's a picture of it in green. I actually got it in Rose (which doesn't show up half as cute on the site as in person) but I'd be lying if I didn't admit I almost got both colors. I refrained though, deciding that one trench coat I really didn't need was enough. My will power is quite extraordinary.
  4. My sister-in-law. I actually have SIX sisters-in-law. They are all completely different but I can honestly say that each one of them is a blessing to me. Last weekend my youngest brother's wife drove in from out of town just to spend all day helping me strip wall paper off of my kitchen walls. Anyone who has ever participated in the awful task of removing wallpaper knows that voluntarily driving two hours with young children to do this at someone elses house should receive a medal. She's a saint, that girl. Incidentally, I have wanted the wallpaper removed for the entire five years I have lived at this house. The best picture I could find was one of poor Ben from his first birthday party. You can see the ivy paper behind him. We are picking paint colors this weekend and hopefully I will have pictures of our progress in the next couple weeks. Minus the adorably pouty birthday baby, of course.
  5. Clara. Between her typical tyrannical rants she's actually been quite the snuggle-bug this week: Spending time just sitting with me on the couch. Sitting in my lap to listen to stories. Last night after The Man finished the PJ/teeth brushing bed time routine she ran back into the living room to give me a hug, then ran half way back to her room and stopped and spun around. "Hava kiss?" she asked. I laughed and nodded and she ran back to me, put one of her pudgy little hands on each side of my face and smacked a kiss right on my lips. "Tank you, Mama!" she grinned. Then happily ran back down to hall to bed. How blessed am I?
For more Fridays Fave visit Susanne at Living to Tell the Story.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Today when I picked up Ben from preschool another blonde boy climbed into the van behind him. My Four-year-old was having his first after school playdate. He has become friends with the son of another teacher at our preschool and has been repeatedly asking if this boy, Silas, could come over to play with his new Christmas toys. In particular, he was adamant about how he wanted Silas to play light sabers with him. Ben had received two light sabers from my mother for Christmas and Clara, despite Ben's best persuasive efforts, has been reluctant to be his sparring partner. In fact she tends to run from the room yelling "Be caweful! Ben, Be caweful!" whenever the topic is mentioned. I can't say that I blame her. I think it's probably a good policy to run away anytime someone starts chasing you with a stick. Light up or otherwise.

Ben's friend is a precocious, friendly boy whom, I think it bares mentioning, Clara is passionately in love with. In fact, every time we enter the school she runs to embrace him screeching "Silaaasss" at the top of her lungs. To his credit, he always stops what he's doing to give her a hug, thus putting me solidly in the Silas fan club as well. So obviously, Silas coming to our home was an event of rockstar proportions. And today, was the day.

Ben and Silas tore out of the car and into the house while I trailed behind them carrying bookbags and papers from school. Clara was eating lunch when they arrived, giving them a temporary reprieve from her overwhelming affection. I dropped my load inside the door and stopped to observe them, curious to see if things would go smoothly. Ben began to lead Silas through our home, room by room showing him around. All the while keeping up a running commentary in a voice that was comically serious:

"This is my house and look this is my light saber and my other light saber that changes colors that's the one you get to use when we FIGHT, and that's just my dog, Beamer, and she likes everyone, and this is my car thing and come in here...I have to show you this is my room and it's SO CLEAN (which was absolutely not true) and look these are the knights and castles I got for Christmas and my Whack a Mole game but that's really loud so my mom doesn't like it..."

And watching my son and his friend, these two four-year-old boys wandering through the house in pint-sized mimicry of grown-up civilities made my heart catch in my throat. I looked across the room at The Man, eating lunch with Clara, and saw the same emotion reflected in his eyes as he watched them. Amusement. Adoration. Wonder. It was like we could see his school years unfolding in front of us.

And then they started to play. And it quickly became apparent that they were, in fact, only four.

The ideas that Ben had carefully nursed of what he and Silas would do were shattered almost immediately. Silas had his own opinions. He wanted to play knights; Ben wanted to play light sabers. He wanted to check out all Ben's toys. Ben wanted to play hide-and-seek. And Clara, bless her heart, just wanted to be included. So I settled into my new job teaching the skills of friendship. Of how to be a good host. Of give and take. There was much whining and a few tears from Ben and to be honest, I think they argued more than they played.

And then Silas' mother came and they both started crying because they didn't want him to leave. So, they made plans to repeat the experience again next week at his house. Finally after many hurried promises of the adventures they would have together next time, Silas was gone. Ben, still weepy, crawled up into my lap. And for quite a while I sat there, rocking him slowly back and forth, wondering at the boy in my lap who seemed at once too big and too small.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Going Under Cover - Update

Welcome friends. The deed is done; Joy in Chaos is now a member's only club. And you are all members. Lucky, lucky me! *

I must say, you guys really know how to make a girl feel loved. I am overwhelmed by the response to my last post. It may have been the most comments I have ever received, and largely from people letting me know they wanted to continue to follow my ramblings. I was moved to tears. (I know you must all be thinking by now that everything moves me to tears - It's not far from the truth. I am nothing if not emotional.)

I have received many requests for details on what exactly happened, which I just can't get into. I appreciate your concern and I hope that you will forgive me for continuing to be annoyingly vague. I will say that this situation is particular to me and a despicable person from my past, and is likely not something you would ever have to worry about at your own place.

It's also possible, even likely, that eventually I will exchange this locked door for a secret identity. I am toying with the idea of creating a new completely anonymous - if that's even possible - blog. Right now, however, the idea of starting over is too sad and overwhelming so here I'll stay. Locked doors and all, it's a comfortable home and I love it. Even more so, because all of you come to call.

*Please remember that because this is a private blog my posts will no longer show up in your feed readers. I know that's inconvenient and if I could fix it, I would.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The end of an era...

I really love my blog. When I started it a year and a half ago, I wasn't sure what would come of it. I knew I wanted to create a record of my life as a mom, but I was hoping it would be more than that. And it has been. It has been a release, an outlet, that is completely mine. A place to reflect on my blessings and confess my inadequacies. I found my niche, albeit tiny, in this huge place we call the blogosphere. I made friends. Presumptuous as it may seem to call them that.

I wasn't quite as good at blogging as I thought I would be. The words didn't come as easily as I hoped, and often times my life seemed too dull and trite to inspire them. My writing has been sporadic and I never really found a consistent tone. Sometimes I was silly or sarcastic, sometimes serious and introspective. Sometimes just plain sad. But this place has reflected me honestly, if not completely. And I love it.

But I made some mistakes. I used my real name (occasionally even my real last name), I used my kids real names. I gave out too much personal information. And lately that has come back to bite me. People are reading my thoughts, who shouldn't be. They're learning intimate details of my kids lives, because I invited them in, with no thought for privacy or restrictions. It was dumb and careless of me. And honestly, it was selfish. I wanted an audience. And I couldn't invite the world in and keep out one.

So, due to some unexpected and disturbing revelations I have to make this blog private. I don't want to do it. It honestly brought me to tears. I love having an open door. I love it when someone stops in for the first time and says "You made me laugh" or "I get just what you are saying." But some things are just more important.

I will keep the blog public for one more week. If I know you in my real life I will automatically send you an invite to read it when it goes private. If you are one of my blogging friends who wants to attempt to navigate passwords (and the fact that your reader will no longer show my updates...sob!) send me an email and I will include you as well.

It was fun while it lasted.