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.