21 July 2011

my worth

My church is hosting a Christmas sale at the end of November, and my sister-in-law and I are sharing a table. I've never seriously considered selling my crochet, so I'm nervous and excited. Maybe if the sale goes well then I could start supplementing our income on a regular basis.

But in the process of creating an inventory, I have run into a personal dilemma: how much should I charge? I had an initial thought, but began to question it. How can someone reasonably price homemade items? Looking for help I browsed Etsy's crocheted offerings, but came away dissatisfied. The majority have priced items ridiculously high, at least in my opinion. But is that simply because I would rather buy the yarn and make it myself?

I guess the real question is: What am I (my time) worth?

Looking for some guidance, I asked the advice of a friend who is in the craft business. Her suggested guidelines boosted my confidence in my original price. It feels right, as it did before I started second-guessing myself.

jumbled thoughts

I've been trying to figure out how to write this post for hours. I don't want to let too much of my geek out, but at the same time it's really been affecting me today. I guess I'll just go for it. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my geekier tendencies anyway.

I was raised on Star Trek. There was some good old Captain Kirk mixed in, but mostly it was The Next Generation ("the one with the bald guy" in Kim's understanding; I'm slowly working with him on that). Later Voyager would play a role, but when I think of Star Trek I first think of Captain Picard and his crew.

So when I learned a couple weeks ago that Star Trek, The Next Generation (TNG), and Voyager are now on instant streaming with Netflix, I naturally began making my way through TNG.

Most of the episodes I haven't seen since I was very young, and I've realized I remember surprisingly little: the feel of situations, small character impressions, and random facts for which I can't give solid evidence to. Then there are two episodes that fill me with dread.

Most mysteriously (until recently), "Skin of Evil": I have always loved Tasha Yar, but up until that first week of instant streaming I had no clue why. She was simply a name, but I felt a deep sadness and grief when remembering her death - the only thing I actually remember about her from my childhood. Now I can completely understand the attraction that character held for me. Her loss stings just as much as the emptiness I experienced losing Data in the movie Nemesis; the only difference is that I could understand Data's sacrifice, while Tasha's death was meaningless.

The other, unsurprisingly, is the first part of "Best of Both Worlds". Locutus of Borg is, at least in my estimation, the best twist in television history. (Admittedly, nostalgia may have something to do with this.) The complete horror I felt when I was first introduced to him is something I will never be able to completely shake off. It wasn't just due to the fact that he is Borg, either. It was the devastation of losing a beloved hero. It is the episode I remember most clearly, though my child's mind had muted out concepts I could not understand: the initial struggle between Riker and Shelby, the thousands of deaths Locutus was responsible for.

The latter has been on my mind all day. I'm not even sure I can correctly express what all I am thinking and feeling: good vs. evil, technology unchecked, morality, fear, the essentials of humanity, a child's memories, purpose, people who fight evil against all odds (otherwise known as heroes)... All jumbled up into a big knot. Impossible to unravel one strand without bringing all the others because everything is connected.

17 July 2011


The day a baby realizes the fun in peekaboo is an amazing day. An incredible feeling that takes place when your efforts are rewarded with more than a blank stare. Not even having three kids can diminish the delight.

It isn't just about easily winning a precious smile or chuckle, though that is certainly a nice perk. It's about witnessing one of the first recognizable signs of maturity. It's about being able to really start interacting with your baby.


oh yeah, I have a blog

Previously I have cursed my forgetfulness, and sometimes I still do: like today when I lost my keys while we were running very late. But lately I have begun to seriously impress myself.

Yonah recently had dental surgery to repair the extensive damage in his mouth. I very carefully and deliberately filed every single piece of paper regarding it in our important papers box. Not a single one remained where I put it, and I know beyond any doubt that no children were able to get into the box. Only the non-important ones have surfaced.

A few weeks ago I managed to lose my computer. Granted, it is only a laptop, but I use it every single day. (When it's working, that is. Right now a friend is convincing it to function after Arabelle gave it a bath.)

I completely forgot that I have a blog. If Google+ hadn't randomly reminded me about it, I still would be blissfully unaware.

I have started mandatory child counting before entering or leaving anything: car, house, building, park, whatever. With my growing skills I just can't be too careful. I dread the days when their friends start tagging along.

31 May 2011

why i need stuff

If I had more than what I have, I would be able to . . .

Keep the house clean all the time.  Not feel restless.  Play outside every day.  Stay in better shape.  Eat healthier foods.  Use coupons.  Manage my time better.  Have more motivation.  Write every day.  Be more involved in my kids' lives.

The list goes on and on.  Granted, some of it is true.  The upgrade from our bulky, huge TV to a wall mounted flat screen, as well as ditching the huge sectional couch for smaller pieces of furniture literally gave us breathing room, not to mention more floor space.  There are other upgrades and improvements that would make things much better for us.

But quite a few of my ideas are based on the assumption that if it's easier to make good choices then I will make them.  Which can be true.  But would I really get us out in a backyard every day when we so rarely frequent the wonderful parks within walking distance of us?  A backyard might bring outdoor fun quite literally to our door, but it would still be easiest to stay inside.  And judging by how much of my "me" time I spend on Facebook, I doubt the little bit more that decent appliances would give me would have any impact on how much writing I get done every day.

The problem isn't the lack of these things, but that I use not having them as an excuse to not do what I know I should, and can, be doing.

29 May 2011

this isn't you

When I was sick as a little girl, both my parents would have to work together to pin me down in order to just manage to get medicine in my mouth.  They would then have to forcibly hold my lips closed, plug my nose, and tickle my throat to get me to swallow.  And then I would throw it back up.  (As it turned out, the last was actually an allergic reaction, but for many years the belief was that I made myself to do it.)  The time I got a bloody nose in the process was the time my dad vowed to never give me medicine ever again.

Once I got lost at a festival.  It took three security personnel to pin me down on the cart so they could drive me to the lost and found tent.

I was reminded of these instances, and several others I can think of, during the most spectacular fit Yonah has thrown to date.  It required quite literally my entire strength and every single limb in order to pin him to my lap in such a way that he would not physically harm himself or anyone near him (namely, me) as he was trying to do.  This after having to practically drag him across the parking lot to the car.  I only barely managed it.

As he screamed like he was having all his bones broken at once, I found myself desperately begging God for help, wisdom, guidance, a miracle, something.  And then I realized that I was talking.  But while it was my voice, and my mouth, the words didn't originate in me:

"This isn't you.  You aren't bad, dumb, or stupid.  You are good, smart, and kindhearted.  This isn't you.  Do you think it is?"

The effect was instantaneous.  The wild struggle died as he fell limp against my chest.  The screams disappeared into the whimpering hiccups of a child calming down from a really good cry.  Slowly, he shook his head, answering the question.  We sat there together for at least a quarter of an hour more, talking together of who God made him to be, what had triggered the fit, and what a better way of responding would have looked like.

By the time we got home for a quick lunch and a long nap, I felt like I had been given a swift, hard punch - both to my physical body and to the seat of my emotions.  After the month I've been having, and especially in the aftermath of the sermon I (mostly) listened to this morning, Yonah was not the only one who needed to hear those words.

24 May 2011

how i came to quit whining

I usually wait for people to ask to hang out.  If I do anything, I say something like: "Let me know when your schedule is open so we can hang out."  And then nothing happens.  I might remind them again, but for whatever reason I stick to the casual tone that people tend to interpret as nice words.  And then I whine and complain, mostly to myself, when nothing continues to happen.

I think I convince myself that no one really wants to hang out with me unless they approach me.  So I express casual interest (I don't want to sound like it's important to me or they'll only agree because they feel guilty) and wait.  And whine.

Today I realized that this is only hurting me - and the relationships I want to have.  So I'm done with that.  Hello again, social life.

18 May 2011

i love my sling

Though the baby pictured here is Lila,
this sling was originally a gift to Arabelle
and me.
If you have a baby, are going to have a baby, or know someone who does:  Get a sling.

This is on the Things That Make Sense list, but rarely does it get mentioned on the Must Have For Baby list.  Maybe that's changing now, since baby wearing is becoming more popular again.  Even just four years ago, when Yonah was born, you basically had to settle for either a full on baby wrap (a long piece of fabric you used to literally tie the baby to yourself) or one of the backpack carriers not suitable for very little babies.  If slings were publicly available in the US, they were literally in the one place I didn't look.

With such poor choices, it was understandably rare to see babies out of the stroller carrier systems.  I still see a lot of babies in those today, but I also see quite a few in slings or even the newer front carriers.  It's kind of like cloth diapering, which is now the "cool thing" to do as a young parent.

Baby wearing is a complete life saver.  And it just makes sense.

Think about it.  Babies spend their entire existence in constant physical contact with someone.  Then they are born, and suddenly they are forced into a new environment where they can be, and are often, put down - the very concept of which is alien to them.  A sling helps make the adjustment easier.

It also helps the mom's sanity.  How many times have you wished for an extra set of hands?  Moms wish that at least twice as often - probably more.  Slings provide a means to cradle (and even nurse) a little one while leaving both hands free.  (As a bonus, they also provide protection from that well meaning stranger who touches your baby's face; nobody wants to accidentally touch your breast.)

17 May 2011


I realized today that some people have been leaving comments.  For a while, looks like.  Doh.

I apologize if any of you have been feeling ignored.  I'm a space case.

I'll get to work responding to the comments tomorrow.  Right now I'm exhausted, so I'm going to convince my littlest to go to sleep and then crash into dreamland myself.


I'd mentioned wanting to have my photography involved with this blog, and I think it's something that definitely needs to happen.  I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to do so.  The problem is that most of my pictures involve my children, and I'm not certain how comfortable I am posting those publicly.  So, now that I have some more pictures that are non-child related, I'm going to start using them whenever they happen to fit.  When I figure out the kid picture thing I'll let you know.

This is my cat, Aravis.  Some days she literally is my sanity.  (Such as this last weekend.  And today.  Screw it, try all of the time it's been since Kim's leave ended.)  If you think I'm exaggerating on this, I have a prescription I can show you.  In fact, if you were my landlord, you wouldn't even see a cat on the windowsill here.  For you, that little piece of paper would essentially turn her into a bottle of medication.  A big one.

Sometimes Kim compares her to the cigarettes he has been trying to quit for years.  I can kind of get his point.  I mean, if I hadn't gotten some decent kitty time in this early morning, I wouldn't have even the teeniest bit of motivation to update my blog.  If I did, this post would be . . . well, it would be depressing.  Without regular kitty time, I really don't do well at handling my depression, stress levels, or anger (often used to cover up the depression).  But it all melts away as soon as I start getting that kitty "buzz".  In fact, I can even start to get giddy.  (Like now.)

At the same time I get annoyed when he makes comments like that.  It's the equivalent of saying that the pills prescribed to other people in need of emotional health assistance are, in essence, cigarettes.  Of course, spend a lot of time in Celebrate Recovery and you'll be surprised how many people are celebrating or hoping for their victory over emotional health drugs, so antidepressants = cigarettes is a connection I can easily make.  That's beside the point, though, because as far as I know that isn't Kim's view of things.

My belief, by the way, is that a part of the reason God created animals was for our emotional health.  A lot of this comes from the fact that all the conventional ways of treating my depression have either had no effect or made it worse.  The only thing that has ever helped me at all has been the cat.  Why?  Ultimately, because she is tangible evidence of God's unconditional love.  Pets are mirrors of Him in that they don't care about what you did, are doing, or plan to do; they just want to be with you, loving and being loved.  It's easy to know that about God in my head, but so hard to remember it in my heart - especially when depression is so strong.  Aravis not only brings that knowledge to my heart; she also provides a physical body that I can hold when I need to feel God's arms around me.

(Here is where I stop and think, "Huh.  I wasn't meaning to go this way.  Now where do I go from here?")

So . . . cat.  Yeah.  I love my cat.  I got her when she was 7 weeks old way back in 2005.  I was feeling super isolated from everyone but Kim because of some dumb choices I'd made, and then Kim went off to basic training for 6 months.  I was beyond lonely.  So when I discovered that a friend's cat had gotten out (again) before they could get her spayed, I convinced my parents to let me get one of the kittens.  I named her after a character in C.S. Lewis' The Horse and His Boy, my favorite book at the time.

Aravis is part Siamese - just enough to have a ton of personality.  She seems to think she is human, though she has been acting a lot more cat-like since the kids were born.  She sleeps under the blankets; she gives me hugs from time to time; she gives kisses; she plays fetch.  She used to actually watch movies with me - I'm not kidding, her favorite was El Dorado (she loved the ball game).  That was before she realized that her sitting still that long made her too much of a target for little babies.  Speaking of babies, when she manages to get caught by them it's extremely rare that she will scratch them.  Instead she either waits for a chance to escape peacefully, hollers for me, or bops the kid with her paw.

Once she caught a sparrow and brought it to me - live.  She would put it down, meow at me, then quickly grab it again.  I honestly think she was asking for help because she didn't know what to do next.  I took it to the bird sanctuary, or whatever it's called, to make sure I wouldn't return a very injured bird to the outdoors; they reported that she had barely even scratched it with her teeth.

The most awesome thing about her, though, is that when I need cat time I don't have to do anything.  She comes to find me.  She has spent her entire life getting attuned to my emotions so she is now a pro at just appearing before I'm getting close to the edge.  Most of the time, at least.

Anyway.  My entire point in beginning this post was to (briefly) say that I had a challenging weekend (continuing through to today) due to kids and sickness and attitude.  It's been . . . interesting.

And it would have been completely overwhelming if it hadn't been for this amazing cat.

14 May 2011


Growing up I felt quite strongly that one of my sisters was the favorite daughter while I was more or less the black sheep of the family. This was absolutely not true - in fact, that "favored" sister felt just as strongly that I was the favorite and she the black sheep. But despite coming to this understanding, I find myself extremely sensitive to any preferential treatment of siblings.

Today, at my niece's birthday party, I found myself musing over the favoritism issue once again. I've been witness to several times over the last month where it feels that my children receive unequal treatment. This has been worrisome to me, even though I know the logical explanations behind it. I remember how easily I was convinced that I was the least favorite, though we were all loved equally. I remember how it ripped my and my sister's relationship to shreds for the majority of our lives so far. How it constantly picked at my self esteem. How it severely damaged my relationship with my parents. How it stopped me from wanting to adopt because I was scared I wouldn't be able to love that child as much as my "real" children.

I made myself a promise that I would never make my children go through that, if I could help it. But I'm off to a lousy start. Even aside from the instances of last month, I am embarrassed to note that the majority of the contents of our toy closet are Yonah's. It's easily at least a 4 to 1 ratio, and it would be an even greater difference if I hadn't started calling certain toys both of theirs. I worry that she won't be able to catch up to his two year head start. And I do worry a little that neither she or Lila will find themselves equal to his standing of first (grand)child and (currently) only (grand)son.

How much of this is my past shadowing my childrens' future? Am I the only one who notices this? Is it simply because of my old emotional scars that I do?

13 May 2011


I try too hard.

Last night I had an opportunity to play with my camera some more.  But the play only lasted for a little while.  Whether I wanted to admit it or not (and I didn't), I started competing.  Instead of taking pictures that I can appreciate personally I started trying to take pictures that certain other people would be impressed by.  The result is that far too many of the hundreds of shots I took are ones that I am unsatisfied with.  The same thing occurs with all my artistic endeavors.

Recognition of my talent is something that I crave more than I would like to admit.  I want people to love what I do as much as I do.  The irony is that the more I focus on that, the less I love what I create.  Expectations must be abandoned; other people must vanish from the mind; passion must be unleashed; all other thoughts must be pushed aside.  Otherwise I misuse the gift that God has given me.

10 May 2011


Today's moment took place in the regions of almost yesterday. Lila has taken to wanting to play most of the night, and she is not appreciative of my efforts to change her mind. This usually results in my watching an episode or two of LOST while rocking her until she finally gives in to the soothing back and forth motion.

Last night; well, early this morning, she started dozing and kept smiling and smiling. I can't get over her smiles. Yonah and Arabelle would always start with the corners of their mouths, but Lila opens her mouth and then the corners curve up. Somehow it seems to brighten her face even more than the normal newborn smile. So I soaked in the smiles, LOST completely forgotten. And then . . . she <i>laughed</i>. Not a real, true laugh, but a very good first attempt. It was amazing.

09 May 2011


While Kim was home on leave, one of our family activities was going to Build a Bear. He was skeptical about this helping; before he left we took them there to get special animals for them, and these were only marginally successful. But I think I understand why I was disappointed in how much they clung to those special toys:

For Yonah, he has sad memories of that first trip to Build a Bear. He had been overwhelmed by the excitement that is unique to that store, so Kim had more or less chosen a bear. He has mentioned more times than I can count that he wanted the blue one instead, and remembers crying because he was sad that he didn't get it. (I don't remember him crying, but he is adamant about this fact,) For Arabelle, I was more involved in the process of selecting and making than Kim was, and it was also too far from the time he left for it to be meaningful that way. So, while she has appreciated her Flopsy bunny, it hasn't been nearly as special as I was hoping.

Whatever the reason, these kids have a cemented friendship with these new bears. Bedtime simply cannot happen without them. When the kids really miss their Daddy, those bears are sure to be seen. Arabelle's Rosette tends to make more appearances for this reason. Peeksy (Foo Foo) has also helped Yonah forgive Bear for not being blue.

We also got a bear for Lila, which Kim picked out and named Selene. He thought that a bit silly since she's just a baby. I guess it was a little more for me at this point. But at least she will always have a special bear, too, so she won't ever feel like he doesn't love her as much as her siblings.

So my moment tonight was watching my two oldest falling asleep under the stars and moon of Yonah's special night light, their bears snuggled closely up to their sides.

08 May 2011

short and sweet

The last 17 days have been so busy and passed so quickly that it's been hard to stop to blink.  With Kim's leave ended a few days ago, normal is slowly seeping back into life.

The end feels a lot closer on this side.

20 April 2011

the perfect day

My moment began very late last night, and is continuing to go on even now.

It's almost like we'd been playing at marriage and parenting for the first four and a half years (excluding time during the deployment).  But today . . . this is real.  This is what home is supposed to be. This is how it should have always been.

I can't describe it better than that.  I am filled to the brim with hope.  The rest of the deployment looms ahead, but this is what we have to look forward to.  And really, it's because of the deployment that this even exists.


19 April 2011


Lila woke this morning at a little after 6. I tried futilely to get her back to sleep but she would have none of it. So I propped her up on my tummy with my legs as the back of her "chair" and as this upright position settled her squirmy fussiness down, I started dozing.

A few seconds later I snapped back to full alertness as the entirety of what I'd just observed dawned on me. This little newborn was watching the window light up as the sun rose. Awed, all thought of dozing discarded, I couldn't tear my eyes away. For over half an hour she sat and gazed at that window. Then, when it was as light as it will be until the sun is shining directly on it this afternoon, she fussed just enough to get me to try laying her down again... and she went back to sleep.

Something tells me this girl will love camping. After all, the best way to watch a sunrise is to wake up and slip outside the tent to breathe it all in...

18 April 2011

like a child

Yesterday, Lila thought she'd spice things up for Arabelle's birthday by developing congestion and an accompanying fever. I was never really worried about her, even though she is only a few days more than two weeks old. It's hard to be concerned when the child is still eating, alert, not fussy, and scootching her way across the bed in that way of newborns. You know, no notable movements but somehow they get places. Oh, and she threw in a painfully thought out roll. I felt the need to give her brain a massage after how hard she was concentrating on what she was trying to do. But she managed it. (This is huge to others since she's so little but comes as no surprise to me; she was constantly rolling over in the womb, so it makes sense that she has been trying to do so from day one.)

None of that is to say that I wasn't keeping a mindful eye on her temperature. But seeing as it never strayed more than a degree over normal, I have some internal conflict over actually calling it a fever. Then again, the danger zone is a incredibly closer for a newborn than the older kid's. Each time I used that thermometer a part of me expected to announce a hurried field trip to the ER.

At one point I started getting a little concerned as she became quite fussy and uninterested in nursing. But the very moment I thought about packing up to the hospital, this overwhelming conversation took place:

Y: Jesus is here, Mom.
M: Yes, He is. He lives in our hearts when we're His disciples.
Y: No, Mom. He's here. Outside our hearts too.
M: What?
Y: You need to pray for Lila to get better now.

I don't know how anyone could not pray for her after that, after he said those words with that impossible authority in his voice. The fever practically disappeared for two hours and only made a very pitiful attempt at a comeback. I don't know for certain if it was related to my prayer. I don't think it matters. At any rate, that isn't the part that gives me a sensation similar to goose bumps when I remember it.

16 April 2011

tough love

Tonight I found myself thinking of tough love.  Today has been a very difficult day.  In honor of her birthday tomorrow, Arabelle is acting like a bona fide 2-year-old.  One second she'll be playing happily with her brother, the next she's slapping and screaming and biting anything within reach.  Why?  Who needs a reason when you're at such a hard age?

Finally we fled to the outdoors.  Rain could not stop us from taking the break that both she and I needed.  I wouldn't let it.

Unfortunately, it was not a very long break.  I wish I could say that it was because the kids got chilly, or too muddy, or it was getting dark.  No, it was more of the 2's stuff.  She would not heed the boundaries, which is a serious issue when we are in a sad excuse for a non-fenced in yard.  So inside we headed after just barely more than 5 minutes.  But instead of feeling exasperation, I found myself thinking of God.

How many times has He given "soft" love only for me to throw it in His face and by my behavior insist on His getting tough?  It embarrasses me that I've lost count.

15 April 2011


This is the official end of my two weeks of "maternity leave".  I didn't need to take the break from blogging; even if it were physically taxing, I easily would have been able to manage it.  (Mom might have disagreed with me on this.)  But at the same time, I did need it.  I needed to soak in those moments without having to think about what I liked best, or what stood out to me the most.

The comment I've heard the most from others has been something along the lines of, "She's so gorgeous . . . But no.  I don't want her."  And a part of me gets that.  Love the baby, hate the work, right?  But I love everything about having a newborn.  I wasn't the hugest fan the first time around but it has seriously grown on me over the last 4 years.  The sleepless nights; the constant diaper changes; having such limited time to accomplish things between nursing sessions; the extra laundry filled with spit up and baby poo that leaves clothes only reluctantly; the exploded or leaking diapers; the bed time dance from nursing, to burping, to rocking, to the diaper being filled, to nursing . . . I love all of it.

Of course I recognize that my kids so far make it easy.  Instant nursers, not a hint of colic, good night time sleepers, my milk production has earned me the nickname of DQ, and as an extra bonus the older siblings simply adore each new addition.  And of course I am fully aware that this last labor left me in unusually good shape.  I was ready to start getting back to normal an hour after she was born, even though I'm still not feeling ready for the first Sunday back (this might be different if we attended a significantly smaller congregation).

But I believe that if I had a baby who required so much more effort, I would still love every minute.  (Even if I was pulling my hair out at the same time.)

30 March 2011

favorite place

Today was one of those days I don't want to ever experience again. It was a day that reminded me of how difficult it is for a 9-month-pregnant mother to manage a practically 4-year-old boy without fatherly support.

But once we got to the church, all the bad attitude temporarily disappeared as he followed family friends around, and chased Arabelle back and forth in the art hall. I simply love the effect that place has on these children.

29 March 2011


Coming home tonight, we discovered that the neighbors were having car troubles.  Instead of hurrying inside so we'd only be half an hour late for bed time, we stayed to see what they were doing to fix it.  The kids climbed up on the little white fence so they could see better.  They were enthralled by it.  Their excitement and interest caused mine to grow, as it always does when the people I love are excited about something (excluding anything to do with Twilight).

This entire deployment there have only been a handful of times when I am painfully aware of Kim's absence.  Tonight is one of them.  Yonah is full of questions now about what lies under the hood of a car.  These are questions I do not know how to answer.  But Kim could answer at least the basics.  They could go out together to look at and tinker with ours.  I can't put into words how important that special connection between a father and his child is; I don't think I have to, though.

Sometimes, the tragedy of a fatherless child is overwhelming to my heart.  I can almost feel God's heartache.  This is not how it was meant to be.  Thank goodness that for these precious children of mine this is only temporary.

28 March 2011

little ears

Today I remembered that I need to be more watchful of what I tell myself.

I was re-organizing the cupboards in the closet so that I can make better use of the space, and came across a little cardboard box. Inside this box were stashed several of my favorite necklaces, earrings, my two pocket watches, and assorted makeup - most of which were my most frequently used items. I had given all of these up as lost, somewhat bitterly I must admit. So finding that Kim had assisted in storing them and neglected to mention that he had done so (undoubtedly unaware that they were so special to me) made me start mentally grumbling.

Apparently my grumbling leaked from my thoughts to my mouth, because half an hour later the following conversation took place:

Yonah: Ugh. I'm so mad at my Daddy.

Me: What? Why in the world are you mad at him?

Yonah: Because he put my special directions [note: he's big on written instructions right now] somewhere. And I can't find them! He's a bad Daddy. You need to spank him.

Whoops. I guess I never really listened when Mom told me (frequently) growing up that there are little eyes and ears paying close attention to me.

27 March 2011

growing up

Today's moment is actually two, but they had the same impact on me.

First, there is Yonah's insistence on using the boy bathroom all by himself.  We've agreed that he is allowed to do this at the church only.  This might be a bit hypocritical since the same sort of people probably use the bathroom in a store, but at the church there is pretty much always someone I know and trust around who can keep an eye on him for me.  Today he only mentioned as he passed me that he was going to the bathroom.  I followed and hung out in the hallway waiting for him, but it struck me that I only did so because it was end-of-service crowded.  If it had been less busy, I wouldn't have been bothered much by the idea of his going completely by himself.

Second, at Carl's Jr., he hurried through his lunch and went to play in the playground.  After checking out the environment (mostly making note of the few kids/adults in the area) I felt absolutely no need to do more than casually keep tabs on where he was - and that really only to ascertain that he had not wandered out of the play area.

His maturity level now is such that I trust him to be wholly independent like that in certain (safe) circumstances, and to come to me immediately if he ever feels uncomfortable.  I'd never consciously thought about this before, and it blew me away a little bit to realize just how big he is getting.  He sure isn't my baby boy anymore.  I just hope I am able to manage that crucial balance between allowing him to practice spreading his wings and protecting him from dangers he doesn't see or fully understand.

26 March 2011

bubbles and water

I'm changing the tone of this blog a little bit.  I'm going to be focusing more on a specific moment that stands out to me from each day, assuming any do.  The other stuff I've been doing is great, but it doesn't feel quite right to me.  So, here goes.

After far too long, I finally got the kids into the tub again today.  It was an interesting experience.  Bath time usually is, but today's adventure was a different sort.  For one thing, Arabelle has begun the journey into irrational fears that all 2-year-olds go through.  If not for some new bath toys, I don't think I would have been able to get her in the water at all.  Once she was in, however, she didn't mind any part of getting clean.  The one exception to this was when my washing her hair inhibited her ability to play.

The second reason it was a different experience: While still panicky when water got too near his forehead, Yonah was doing his best to rinse out his hair by himself.  It's been close to two years since his fear of hair washing began; I believe I witnessed the beginning of the end.  I suppose I never really expected him to grow out of it.  It will be odd to slowly do away with the extra care his baths have required.

But put those two occurrences aside, and that bath was still something that stands out to me about the day.  Sorting through a pile of freshly laundered rags and washcloths on my lap as I observed the two interacting and playing with each other in the bubbles and water . . . It was perfect.  I will very much miss the combined baths when they begin to lose the innocence of the very young.

25 March 2011

lazy day

I spent today doing little of any productive activities. I am still Arabelle's comfort pillow of choice while teething or otherwise feeling yucky. But I really don't count it as a waste. It was wonderful to have the excuse to snuggle with her, even though she liked to use my skin to cool her forehead. While she was only running a low grade fever, my being prone to hot flashes at the moment made it unbearably warm on me. I appreciated the excuse to have a lazy day reading library books and just hanging out with the kids. I think we were all needing that time today.

But I did manage to get a couple more layers on the pinata, and Yonah helped me get the trash and bags of little clothes downstairs so I could toss out and stash in storage with more ease, making tomorrow's plans more manageable.

24 March 2011

arts and crafts

An artsy project done on a frustrating day will make the rest of the day more cheerful.
This is the rule that I've been well aware of for most of my life.  Rarely has it failed me in my parenting.  Until today.  Today I learned the rule that comes after:
Do not attempt an artsy project that has great potential for mess on a frustrating day, especially when young children are attempting to work together on the same thing.
That's one of those "uh, duh" rules, and I'm sure that I was aware of it on some level.  But if I had consciously realized that this afternoon, we never would have attempted creating the piñata on a day when both children refused to nap for more than an hour.  Even worse, I had forgotten a related rule:
Never, ever attempt an artsy project with children when that project triggers perfectionism.
Well, it's not so much that I forgot that rule.  I just wasn't aware that making a piñata would be so difficult for me.  I admit to not-so-subtly smoothing and even replacing the strips of newspaper the kids put on the balloon.  I admit to losing my temper when the kids dumped so many strips into the pie tin of glue/water that it became a horrible gooey mush before we were able to use them all.  I admit to flinching when, for the hundredth time, glue/water ran down arms and dripped uncontrollably off elbows onto anything underneath.  I admit to getting exasperated and as a result making a great kid experience quickly dwindle into something they didn't really want to do.

At least I'm over the stubby tipped crayons issue - well, enough to not physically flinch when crayons aren't colored with the right way . . .

23 March 2011


He told them, "You don't get to know the time. Timing is the Father's business."

Acts 1:7, The Message

For about a week now, Yonah has been telling Lila before sleeping, "See you when we wake up!" It is very sweet, but I always fight a chuckle when he says this before nap. The likelihood of getting through labor and having her born in a mere two hours is pretty small.

But today when he said it, I heard that verse in my head. Well, a paraphrase of it, anyway. I was floored. Even though he has no idea when she'll be making her appearance, he lives in constant expectancy that she will. Sure, he has trouble keeping his toys put away and he doesn't want to help me with housework, but he's constantly urging me to clean so we're ready for her. He regularly looks to make sure her crib is still ready and waiting. He constantly talks about how he'll be helping me take care of her, and wants to hear me tell him about when she comes out of the "tummy door" more often than he wants to hear stories about Daddy. Every chain we take down is no longer one day closer to Daddy; first it is an exciting one day closer to Lila!

This hits me painfully. Where is my excited anticipation for the even bigger event of Christ's return? Why do I struggle with passionately looking forward to that hour, whenever it occurs? Why is it so hard to really live like He will be coming any day now? Where is my urgency? What would happen if every time I went to sleep I started telling Jesus the same thing Yonah tells Lila? How would my life change? Why do I believe that I have plenty of time? Where is my conscious realization of not knowing the day or the hour?

22 March 2011

little things

Today I am awed at how impacting little, largely inconsequential things are.  Yonah was having a very hard time missing Kim tonight, feeling sick in his heart, and then suddenly we discovered that his aunt had found his little penny wallet.  This penny wallet is a little cool, admittedly - it's for the pressed pennies you can get at different places for 50 cents.  But ultimately, it's this little dinky thing that Yonah would never even miss, despite his love of pressed pennies.

But Kim got it for him.  So even though it really has no real significance, this penny wallet is one of Yonah's most prized possessions.  Just holding it makes him feel less lonely.  It's not as effective as the Iraqi head covering (shirral, I believe it's spelled) that Kim sent him - it's basically a large, beautiful kerchief that you wrap around your head.  Yonah prefers to wrap it around himself like a blanket, or a shawl.  I've told him that since Kim gets him things like this because he loves him, some of that love gets put in the object.  A bit sentimental, perhaps, but the result is that when he wraps that shirral around himself, he feels like he's wrapping himself up in that love.  It's as close to a Daddy hug as he'll be able to get while Kim is gone.

In the end, it's those little things that don't really matter that keep us sane.

21 March 2011

shlump in the night

And poor Mr. Bix!
Every morning at six,
poor Mr. Bix has his Borfin to fix!

It doesn't seem fair. It just doesn't seem right,
but his Borfin just seems to go shlump every night.
It shlumps in a heap, sadly needing repair.
Bix figures it's due to the local night air.

It takes him all day to un-shlump it.
And then...
the night air comes back
and it shlumps once again!

from Dr. Seuss's "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?"

I relate far too easily with Mr. Bix. My Borfin, however, is not some mechanical invention of Dr. Seuss's, the purpose of which is elusive; my Borfin is my attitude. Sometimes I'll fix it and will be good for days. Other times, like the last several days, I have to spend every moment fixing it because it shlumps as I'm un-shlumping it. Regardless of how long it lasts before shlumping again, I'm constantly needing to work on it. It is annoying. I start wondering, why do I even bother un-shlumping when I know it's just going to shlump again? (I had the same mentality toward making my bed for most of my life.)

But when it shlumps, I really dislike myself. If I could get away from me, I would. When my attitude shlumps, so does everything else.

I know I have to work on my attitude a little more than others. For one thing, there's my ongoing battle against depression (just a plethora of skirmishes now); for another thing, I feel a bit controlled by things going on around me, with the deployment, the kids, and the pregnancy. Very little right now in my life is as I would have planned it, and even though I know that God is in charge and is working through everything for His good purposes, it rankles me. Don't I get some say in my life?

I'm not even going to comment on how ridiculous a question that is. I mean, He's God. I'm lucky He doesn't strike me down because of my disrespect.

Now back to un-shlumping.

20 March 2011

another day slips by

So, yesterday, I had this post all ready; the only thing it was missing was the typing it up part. I was constantly rolling it around in my head, picking out the words I would use, considering applicable pictures (long blocks of text are so boring). It was only this morning that I realized I hadn't actually typed it up, hadn't actually posted it. I'm one of those people who, when enough mental effort goes into doing something, I start feeling like and thinking that I already did it. When I am tired this tendency increases.

I had wanted to write about the little bit of heaven on earth for kids that we discovered yesterday morning.  It is a wonderful place - a place for children to play and parents to relax.  Normally the thought of places like this really freaks me out.  I can't just sit and let the kids play because I'm too worried about something happening.  I wasn't sure about this one.  But my friend had his first ever book signing there, and I was not going to miss it.  And then, once I stepped in the doors . . . It was instantly a place I trusted.

So I sat.  And they played.  And they were so sad they were in tears when, two hours later than I'd intended, we had to leave for lunch and nap.  I don't blame them, that place had everything.  We will be making regular trips there from now on, at least until we have more room for them to romp (a backyard would be wonderful) and downstairs neighbors who won't be calling the landlord because they're being the kids that they are.  (How I long for the end of our apartment living days . . . )

It was incredible to see them having so much fun.  Watching Yonah spend a few minutes playing Lego's, then a few minutes playing trains, then on to reading books, then riding these incredible life-like horses I would have died for as a little girl, then shopping, then sliding, then swinging from sturdy ropes in the playground area, then moving on to the next thing.  Spending only a few minutes on each activity because there was so much to do, so many kids playing, so much fun occurring, and he wanted a part in it all.  Watching Arabelle play confidently, assured in my continued presence on the couch.  She wasn't as enthusiastic about things as Yonah were.  She was quite intimidated for the first hour, actually.  But soon, she was off on her own; shopping, mostly.  Boy, did she love those little grocery carts.

And while I sat there, only casually keeping tabs on where they were and what they were doing, the thought occurred to me that that; the chaotic happenings with learning lurking in every creative activity; the automatic instinct to share and get along with all the kids present; the delight and wonder to be had in every little nook and cranny; the complete removal of all the junk that goes on in the day to day life, all those pesky little distractions; the ability to completely immerse yourself into and enjoy every single moment as it happened; even just the soothing atmosphere as you sat and observed - it was all a glimpse of what heaven is.

I can't wait.

Edit:  If you're in the area and wish to experience that delight and wonder, check out Just Kid'n Around.

18 March 2011


Today was a good day.  We slept in a bit, had some minor breakfast difficulty (curse you, terrible two's), and managed to get out the door only an hour later than I'd intended.  In the ten minutes we spent at the store Yonah wore out all three of his good behavior chances and encouraged Arabelle in trying to run wild in the parking lot; but even so, it didn't take an hour to do a task requiring only five minutes.  Then we got out to the farm, where we picked up Girl Scout Cookies (Thin Mints and Tagalongs, yum) and some unwanted newspapers while hanging out with our relatives.  We stayed hours longer than I'd intended, but the kids' were well behaved and I was suddenly starved for some adult interaction.

Oh, and we got to go and see the farm animals - the pigeon keeping her two babies warm in their nest, the horses, a few bulls, and from a distance a cow and her darling little calf.  Needless to say, petting the horse who insisted on saying hello was my highlight.  Yonah's is probably tied between watching a bull slurp up water as if his life depended on it and feeding hay to the previously mentioned friendly horse.  Arabelle's favorite was the drinking bull, a sight I didn't believe I could pull her away from; or perhaps the cute and friendly dogs who came to see the horses with us.

Nap time was difficult due to its lateness, but manageable.  Some friends came over to try to convince the kids to come with them for a few hours so I could rest/nest in peace; Arabelle probably would have gone with them, but Yonah's refusal put an end to that idea.  We got to talk to Kim.  The kids had some difficulty behaving, but less than usual.  Only a handful of sibling quarrels the entire day.

There were certainly more highs than lows today, but for some reason I am ending this day in a bad mood.   Well, not so much a bad mood but a shlump.  A funky shlump.  I think I'm just tired.  So I guess I'll meander toward bed in the hopes that sleep will provide a cure.

17 March 2011


So, I missed yesterday's post.  My apologies.  I did have time, but when I wasn't dealing with sibling quarrels and an obsessive need to clean, I simply was too exhausted to think of doing anything more than attempting to keep myself awake until bed time.  And I only barely succeeded at this.

Am I moving the end date back a day?  No.  Even though I will not technically complete the challenge, what keeps coming to me is this:

I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.  Gal 2:21

What does it mean?  Since I'm dealing with a headache (terrible two's style fit induced) on top of pregnant mind lag, I have no fancy pants epiphanies to share.  But the general gist is that it's okay.  Grace, not legalism, and all that.

So there you have it.  Or at least, something very much like it.

As for today . . . What comes to mind is the image of the beaming faces of my children as they returned from time at the park with their grandparents.  That alone made it more worthwhile than the alone time I got to spend in quiet productivity.  (Well, it was quiet except for the episode of LOST that I was watching.)

15 March 2011

early morning musings

I'm breaking my late night posting trend today. And with thar single line, all my wittiness evaporates. There was supposed to be more, but oh well.

I've been having trouble deciding what to write here. I don't want to come across as some super religious person who has all the answers, and talking freely about Jesus feels pretty "Christianese" to me. That's the term my husband and I use for the Christian speak that smacks of insincerity because it's too gushy and too... I don't even really know how to describe it. But it feels like a show. I edit myself a lot so that I don't give that impression. But then there's my sister, who frankly doesn't care what people think. She constantly talks about Him, and it's not an insincere show of superior spirituality. I was just realizing this morning that it may not seem that way to someone who doesn't know her. How humbling to realize that she gets it better than I do.

So the problem isn't that some people put on a show. The problem is that I worry too much about what people think. I mean, who cares if somebody believes I'm just full of it? (An impression they could easily get from the reason this blog exists, by the way.) If they stick around for any amount of time, they'll realize that isn't the case. And if they don't figure that out, then something is seriously wrong in my heart. So why is it so important?

Anyway. All that branches out of the fact that I have been realizing that time spent with God in the early morning is sweeter than at any other time of the day. I'm a very serious night owl; I don't believe a day should be started before 10am. Noon would be even better. Thankfully, this trait seems to be genetically inherited. But lately I've been waking up by 6am and being unable to get back to sleep. The greatest mystery in this is that nothing wakes me; the kids will still be sleeping, the house will be completely peaceful. At first I fought against it. I'm still not enthused about it. But I've started using it on an "if I happen to wake up" basis to have a little more one on one time with God, and it's been blowing me away just how great it is.

I am not sure how this will play out. I get massive doses of creativity at 2am; often, if I'm asleep before then, I'll be woken up by the very real need to write. If I didn't give in to it, I would probably go insane. I have to do it. But I'm starting to get the same maddening desire to wake up early to be with my God.

14 March 2011

finish line

Today feels like that scene in the movie Madagascar, where the penguins finally reach their destination and are completely unimpressed by it. The entire reason they broke out of the zoo was in reality the exact opposite of what they were expecting and wanting.

Similarly, I woke up energized at 5 this morning. Well, okay. I wasn't terribly enthused at first, but then 6 rolled around and wow! I was ready to go. I got dishes done, a load of laundry cycled through, wrote a letter to Kim, had some time with God, got a shopping list together, and got the kids up for breakfast. And that's when things started downhill.

The day continued in the same vein as the last almost week and a half did, but today was worse. I don't even want to go into all the crap that happened, and the points where I lost my temper. I want to bury today in the dust and just remember that glorious beginning.

You know, a lot of people focus on the ending. Better to finish well than begin well, right? But the best way to end well is to start well. Having a good start is sometimes the only way to ensure you actually get to the finish line - barely managing to crawl, maybe even needing someone to carry you the rest of the way, but making it across.

So even if the temptation is to look around and say, "This sucks," I'm not going to. I'm where I was aiming for.

13 March 2011

at the end of the day

Whoa! I just noticed the time and ran for the iPad. One thing's for sure, I will find it much easier completing this challenge with the present Kim got for me back in January.

Today passed by in a blur of maddening non-productivity, just as the rest of last week had done. Missing church due to a mix of daylight savings and Yonah's waking up for several hours at 5 seemed to set the tone for the day. Everything seemed to go wrong, and it got worse as both children refused to nap. It was nearing 6 before the girl finally gave in to her exhaustion; the boy never did.

After a day like this, it's hard not to feel like I'm letting the whole team down. It's incredibly easy to say, "Oh, man. She would have been able to stay in the moment and not waste the time spent with her children instead of getting frustrated that they were so consuming her time and attention." (I'll let you know who exactly "she" is when I figure it out myself.) How I need to learn to make lemonade out of the lemons life delivers.

All I can say is, thank God for conversations with wonderful husbands; Kim may be on the other side of the world, but he still manages to refresh my spirits.

12 March 2011

new day

I could kick myself. But I'm not going to. I found excuses for why I didn't need this, why I shouldn't do it. Some of them were even legitimate. But none were big enough to warrant my dropping this challenge like I did. I just didn't want to do it, simple as that.

So, where do I go from here? I'm starting over. Day 1 begins right now. Honestly, I still don't want to do this. But it is extremely important that I do it anyway. I know now that it is more connected to everything going on in my life than I had realized. Changes must be made, and the challenge was specifically given to facilitate that growth. I knew that before, but now I get it.

There is a lesson in all of this for me, something I can't learn any other way. I'm still digesting it. Still trying to understand. It's like a marble in the hand, but the significance is beyond full comprehension. Like the parables. Like love. Like God.

Well, here I am. Again.