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!