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.