Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Neurotic Rambling

Baby walked today. I brought in the little toddler-sized plastic slide from the garage for the kids. She was cruising along the couch, let go, and took three or four steps over to the slide. It was surreal. I guess I always knew she would eventually walk. I knew it was pretty close. But I'm not ready. I have a good friend who always reminds me of the different "seasons" to life. And I know a new season is around the corner. The season of little babies is ending for me. I know there will be good things in the new season, but I want to stay here longer.

I think part of this fear has to do with growing older. When I was a girl I couldn't wait to turn 13, then 16, then 18, then 20. I looked forward to it. And I certainly didn't understand why anyone would be afraid of getting older. I always said I would grow old gracefully. Easy to say when you're 22. There was a time in my life where I was the youngest person in just about every circle I was a part of. My husband is seven years older and I was the youngest one in my classes in school, so all my friends were older. I am the baby in my family. I tend to gravitate to people who are older than I. I have always been the "baby". But now I am always surprised to find there are people out there younger than me. Uh, wait a minute. How did I suddenly end up being the thirty something mom instead of the cute, little twenty something chick? When did that happen??!!

So why am I afraid of getting older? It's not because I am necessarily afraid of death, although I'm not exactly fond of the idea. I am more afraid of being alone. My father-in-law is in his eighties. He now lives in an assisted living apartment. Most everyone he has ever known has died. His children are grown and gone on to lives of their own. I don't want to be in that place. I want to stay here with small children forever. My husband would adamantly disagree. I think he looks forward to us having our own lives again one day. But, what is my life when my kids are gone? Who am I outside the realm of motherhood? Perhaps that is the scariest question of all, because I'm not sure I know the answer. I've only been a mother for 6 years and I'm already consumed.

So, I'm having an identity crisis all because Baby took her first steps. Let's hope she never learns to speak. That will really send me over the edge. Good grief.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Twenty Years Ago

November 27, 1985 - I am twelve years old. School has been let out early for Thanksgiving and I am running to get out of the cold and on to the school bus. The wind is whipping my unbuttoned coat behind me like a cape and I feel as though I could fly in my excitement. Reginna is coming home.

I was the baby of four and Reginna was the oldest. There was almost twelve years between us, so she always seemed more like a really cool second mom instead of a sister. Once, when I was four, she made me a snowman in a cake pan and brought it inside to me because I was
sick and couldn't go out to play. She bought me things for no reason. She took me places with her. She encouraged my interest in art and talked to me about God. She was funny and brave. She fought with the boys...and sometimes won! We were so close she gave me the nickname Shadow.

At eighteen she ran off and married a guy my parents couldn't stand and I didn't see or hear from her for a long time. When we finally reconnected she was different. Although I didn't know it at the time, her husband had been abusing her, emotionally and physically. After five years, she got up the courage to leave him and started a new life in Fayettville, Arkansas. I still didn't get to see her often, but we wrote each other weekly. In the summer of '85 her divorce was final and the old Reginna began to find her way back. In September of that year she had been home to visit. She talked my parents into letting me cut school to go home with her for a week. We went swimming and ate at McDonald's. It was a week I will never forget. In October she was home for my twelfth birthday and brought me a fuzzy blue and white throw with a unicorn on it. I was crazy about unicorns! It cost her about $30 and she had to put it in layaway to get it for me. In November she was coming home for Thanksgiving.

That day was the day before and it was really, really cold. The forecast predicted freezing rain. She called us that night after she got off work to say she was on her way. My dad begged her to wait until the next day...the weather was looking bad. But she was headstrong. "Dad, I'm a big girl," she said. "I'll be fine." We waited nervously. Two hours should have been sufficient time for her to arrive, but she didn't show. We waited more. Three hours passed and we heard sirens. I was sitting on the couch snuggled under my unicorn blanket when Dad put on his coat and left the house to look for her. I was sure he'd find her and bring her home. Looking back, I can't even imagine the agony my mother was going through. When he finally came home, he was with a policeman. He took my mother in his arms as she started to collapse and said, "We've lost our daughter." She screamed and my dad turned to me. I ran to my room. Reginna was only minutes from home when she lost control of her car on an icy bridge and was hit by a semi. She died instantly.

That moment in my life devestated me. To date it is the most painful event I have experienced. Yesterday was twenty years and my heart still aches for her. At the time it seemed that life should not go on without her, but somehow the world didn't stop. I look at my children and am sad for the aunt they will never know. I look at my parents and grieve for their loss. I look at my family, forever fragmented by her leaving, and wish her back every day. I look at my life and long for the relationship we would have had as adults. I miss her...even now. Today I cry for her, and feeling that pain somehow brings her close to me again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Catalogs Are Evil

I consider myself to be a pretty content person. I'm not the type to have an ongoing list of things I want. Until I get a catalog. When I start scanning page upon glossy page of temptation I turn into a heaving green eyed greed monster.

This was never more apparent than at a recent Pampered Chef party. I have managed to stay away from these kinds of things, but a good friend was hosting and a friend I hadn't seen in years was the consultant, so I went to catch up with them. It was great fun. We talked and looked at pictures of each others children. As the other guests started to arrive I made myself comfy on the sofa. Christy, the consultant, had set all the products up in a lovely display. I grabbed a cookbook and oohed and ahhed over the yummy recipes. No temptation. I am fine. Then the party got underway and she passed out blue file the one you had in junior high for your social studies homework, decorated with Kirk Cameron's name alongside yours and a gob of hearts. I opened the notebook as Christy began her demonstration. And there it was. I vaguely remember her saying she was making some kind of molton, skillet, chocolate something-or-other. But my attention was diverted by the shiny paper book. You guessed it...a catalog. I have lived quite some time without most of what Pampered Chef offers and have actually made some tasty food. But suddenly I realized that my entire kitchen was crap and I could never make a decent meal for my family if I didn't buy something to make it all better. What kind of a person serves their family food that wasn't cooked in heavy-guage aluminum cookware featuring a porcelain enamel exterior finish and DuPont nonstick coating?! How could I live with myself if I tried to scramble eggs with anything other than the professional quality staninless steel whisk that is rust resistant and dishwasher safe? And the kids...bless their little hearts...could they ever be truly happy if I failed to make nutritious look delicious using the Creative Cutters to make starry cheese slices and heart shaped sandwiches? Perish the thought!! I am Supermom! I must have every super power at my disposal! I spent the remainder of that party pouring over the catalog, going from front to back and back to front, scheming and plotting how I could work all the things I needed into our meager little budget. And after purchasing two small items, I even took it home with me, thinking I could mark all the things I couldn't afford and maybe Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny would bring them to me. I spent another two days looking and ogling the catalog.

Yesterday I went to the mailbox and found a Pottery Barn Kids catalog. As it turns out, my kids' rooms really need some redecorating...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


When I was 9 I had a best friend named Sarah McReynolds. Sarah was a beautiful blue-eyed blonde and wore the cutest clothes and all the boys liked her. Sarah also competed in beauty pagents and had won a few. She and I always talked about entering together, even though I never saw myself as being able to win. The idea of wearing pretty clothes and getting all that attention appealed to me. And of course, if Sarah was doing it, I wanted to do it. When I mentioned it to my mom, she said absolutely not. She said it was too expensive and I would feel really bad if I lost.

When Zach was a baby I had a short friendship with another new mom. We met in Lamaze class. Her name was Amy. Amy had a precious little baby girl named Tatum. She liked to enter Tatum in baby beauty contests, which she never won. She showed me a group picture once of all the babies in a certain contest. They were all very cute. And I could see she was disappointed that Tatum didn't win. And I wondered what that meant to her. Did it mean her baby wasn't cute? Did it mean another baby was cuter? Was that failure to her? I felt bad for Tatum, and glad she was too little to see the disappointment on her mother's face.

See, all mothers see their babies (no matter what age) as beautiful. As the most beautiful. And that's exactly how it should be. Because they are. What does a contest say? Should it matter? All that said, I have gorgeous children :-) And I have had others tell me this, too. However, today was a record. I was out running errands today and had six people tell me how pretty Baby is. All within about an hour and a half. And, of course, Sister hears it all the time. She wasn't running far behind in the compliments, either. I cannot deny it. They are adorable. But I am becoming increasingly worried with Sister's preoccupation with her looks. On Sunday we got dressed for church and she said, "Now everyone can see how beautiful I look." Yes, it was cute when she said it, but I was also bothered. Am I doing my job in teaching her inner beauty? I love dressing her up and fixing her hair and just...admiring her. But am I setting her up to live her life thinking that's all she is? How often do I tell her she's smart, or funny, or kind? Not as much. In the book "Wild At Heart" the author talks of women being created to be admired. How we want to hear that we are lovely. It is so true. Ever seen a little girl in a twirly dress spinning around? So if that is how we were created, how do we find balance and how do we teach it to our daughters?

I want my girls to know that Cinderella always had a song in her heart and on her lips, even in rags. She never took revenge on her stepmother and stepsisters. She was sweet and nurturing to all the animals. I pray Sister and Baby will always be confident in their beauty, but at the same time, they will never give up the quest for a beautiful spirit...even if the glass slipper doesn't fit.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Gobble, Gobble...I'm A Turkey

I love the holidays. It truly is my favorite time of year. The weather gets a frosty snap to it. The air smells of fireplaces and wood burning stoves. The atmosphere is energized as people gather to celebrate and the drudgery of everyday life gives way to exciting plans and preparation. I love baking goodies with cinnamon and nutmeg that warm the house with anticipation. I love the lights, I love the music, I love the decorations. The first year I was married, I got so excited about putting up my very own Christmas tree, I put it up in October...before Halloween. November and December are my favorite months.

This year is different for me. It feels...flat. I feel like I have started out behind and tomorrow when I wake up I will have missed it. I just can't work up to the holiday spirit. I want to. I am genuinely looking forward to Thanksgiving and being with my family, even though my husband will be working. I have several recipes for things like Cranberry Chutney and Pumpkin Pie that I'm dying to try, even though I'm not sure I can afford the ingredients. It's been a difficult day in that it's one of those days on the roller coaster where you're coming to the bottom of the hill. You know there will be a curve and then you'll go up again. But coming down always scares the crap out of you. The past two and a half years have been so up and down you'd think I'd be used to it, but I'm longing for stability. I want off the coaster. Give me the Norman Rockwell holiday. Give me the life without care or worry. Give me the turkey with all the trimmings. See, no matter how much I try to focus on the good side of life, the pessimist in me always rears its ugly head and kicks the sunshine out of it all. I understand how very blessed I am. But I am also painfully aware of this struggle that seems to have no end. I shouldn't give in to this line of thought, but today I am. Today I want to be greedy and have everything my heart desires. Today I want it all and I'm pouty because I don't have it. Today I am wallowing in self-pity. Today I don't want to be cheered or comforted. Thanksgiving is coming and I'm finding it hard to be thankful. That makes me the biggest turkey of all.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


I was in the car with the kiddos tonight and we were listening to the radio. Brother sat up front with me and like any child sitting in the front, proceeded to play with the knobs. After I scold him for playing with the heater several times he moves his attention to the radio. He puts it on a country station. Now, I'm not too familiar with country music, so I couldn't tell you who was singing. But the name of the song was "That's What I Love About Sundays". It was a man singing in a twangy drawl. He sang about getting up and drinking coffee and reading the paper, going to church where "everyone had a smile on their face". When they come home from church they eat fried chicken and baked beans and slip into their blue jeans. Then he watches football and sits on the porch swing and watches the neighbors. It all sounds very leisurely and quaint. And I'm wondering, why don't my Sundays go like that? I'll tell you why...because I'm the mom!! Where the heck is this guy's wife? I'll guarantee you she's not reading the paper on Sunday morning. She's up rushing around making sure all their kids are fed, clean and dressed up, not to mention herself, so everyone at church will tell him what a beautiful family he has while wearing a smile. The smiles are probably mostly fake, because they're all wearing their church faces, and they're all thinking his kids are brats and hoping they don't have to watch them in children's church. And who cooks that fried chicken and baked beans when they get home? And then who cleans up the greasy mess that fried chicken makes since he has a football game to watch? Nope, my Sundays don't sound like his song. I can't ever remember a leisurely Sunday that included getting up and going to church with my family.

But I will say this...I love my church family. I can come without showering or makeup and no one cares. I don't have to make sure my kids are wearing their best. I don't have to plaster on a smile. I look forward to being with them and worshipping with them. I am free to be me...warts and all. That's what I love about Sundays.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

No More Pictures

As sad as I am about it, I will not be posting any more pictures of my gorgeous children. I (and my husband) are uneasy about having them up where anyone could see them. There are a lot of sick people out there who scan the Internet for prey.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


The Potty Gods are smiling on us. Sister has crossed over into the toilet-users and left her days of poopy pants behind. It is a day of celebration. We have spent our day watching TV, reading books and making Thanksgiving crafts. Daddy is taking them to the park this afternoon and I have oatmeal raisin cookies planned to finish off our joyous jubilee, the Festival of the Big Poop.

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Today was a good day. Not because everything went just the way I wanted it to. It certainly didn't. But there were some things that went very right.

I woke up in my usual bleary-eyed fog this morning with an added bonus: crusty eyes. In fact, my three-year-old was quick to notice. "Eww, Mommy, what's on your eyes?" Allergy season is my favorite time of year. Luckily they weren't glued shut, so after I downed a couple of cups of coffee, I could actually see. Brother was being a very good helper and had already made himself and his sister peanut butter and honey sandwiches for breakfast. Bless his little peanut butter-lovin' heart. Once I was able to become mobile we started on morning chores. Brother and Sister got on the ball and did everything they were asked with little to no complaining. In fact, they were almost (dare I say?) happy to do them. Brother has taken on the responsibility of putting the trash out every Monday for the trash men to pick up. He even gathered up the trash cans in the house without me having to remind him!! It was a sight to behold.

We started school and Brother was eager to dig in. He tackled his spelling words zipped through the first half of the reading lesson. Sister was quietly playing as I had asked her to do and was being wonderfully obedient and sweet. I was beginning to think I might have the Monday I've always dreamed of. It was then things took a little dive. Baby was starting to get tired and cranky. Sister began to tire of the activity I gave her and whined for something new. Brother got stuck on a very simple word that I knew he knew. It was all happening at once and I felt myself start to lose control. So I took a break and tried to get Baby down for a nap. I had just started to lay her down when Sister runs into the room yelling "I found the buttons, Mommy!" She had been looking for the box of buttons to string and sort. Of course, Baby is wide awake. So much for that. So I take a moment to vacuum and take down a big box of toys from Baby's closet. I give her the "new" toys and she is happy again. Brother and I look at the word with fresh eyes and attitudes and he gets it quickly. I felt a great sense of fulfillment seeing him push through and not give up. And he did, too.

Once we get through with school it is lunchtime. We eat lunch and work on a few table manners. And I am blown away by Baby, who is more like a toddler in her mannerisms and look. She sits like a big girl at the table and giggles at the other two. She plays peek-a-boo with me by laying her face on the table and then looking up at me with her huge grin that showcases her two bottom teeth. Her cheeks look better than anything I have for lunch and I decide I would much rather nibble on them.

But the most beautiful thing of all was Sister's Potty Breakthrough. I capatilize those words because it is a major event in our lives. She announces to me that she needs to go poop, and actually goes!! No accident in the pants, no holding it in until she can't hold it any was a big poop in the potty!!!! Yes, I am being descriptive because it is a HUGE DEAL! If I were talking instead of typing, I would be yelling and using my hands to demonstrate how very happy I am!! Not only did she do this, but she had no potty accidents at all today. This is a first for us and I think she is feeling quite good about herself as she has been referring to herself as a "Big Girl Helper" all day. Oh, Sweet Lord Jesus, THANK YOU!!!!

Now, that event in itself would have been enough to make me happy and content for months. But it gets better. After lunch all THREE...yes, count them: one, two three...took a NAP at the same time!!!!!!!!!!! I can count on one hand the number of times that has happened. So, do I take advantage of this time and get some work done? Well, no. I made phone calls. It was just so quiet. It seemed like the thing to do. Baby was the first one to wake up after an hour and a half of heavenly silence, but she still seemed sleepy. So I cuddled with her on the couch. I laid down and put her on my chest. The window was open and a glorious fall breeze blew the curtain. The sunlight filtered through the orange and yellow leaves on the trees. And my sweet baby was snuggled up on me. And I had an epiphany.

I know people have used analogies of God being an artist for years. But I am telling you today was a first for me. I saw Creation with new eyes. When I was a freshman in college I went to Washington D.C. with an honor society group. The highlight of the trip was the art exhibits at the Smithsonian. I will never forget standing in front of an original Monet painting and thinking, "Wow! His brush actually made these strokes!!" I liken my experience today to that, but on a much larger scale. See, I know God made everything and I know it is beautiful and He is the Creator. But today, for the very first time, I realized it. I looked at the beauty around me and I knew I was in the presence of Greatness. He made the colorful fall leaves, and shared it with me. He made these sweet, little people and gave them to me to enjoy. I was humbled. I can't even put words to the experience because it sounds trite and cliche. I can only say I am grateful, for all He has given me, because it suddenly seems like too much.

A Wake-Up Call

Something disturbing about two homeschooled kids in today's news:

BELLEVILLE, Ind. - A man wanted in a Pennsylvania double homicide and apparent abduction of 14-year-old girl was captured Monday after a car he was driving crashed in Indiana following a police pursuit, State Police said. The girl was found unharmed.
State Police 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten said David Ludwig, 18, was apprehended about 12:30 p.m. EST after a car he was driving crashed about 20 miles west of Indianapolis.
Bursten said Ludwig was found with the missing girl, 14-year-old Kara Beth Borden, a daughter of the slain couple who was apparently Ludwig's girlfriend.
"He's in custody and we have the girl," Bursten said.
Police in Pennsylvania said Ludwig killed Kara's parents, Michael F. and Cathryn Lee Borden, early Sunday after they and their daughter argued about her curfew. The shootings happened at the family's home near Lititz in Warwick Township, about 60 miles west of Philadelphia.
Footage from news helicopters in Indiana showed a girl sitting in a police cruiser, and a young man wearing a gray T-shirt was handcuffed sitting next to a red Volkswagen Jetta that had run head-on into a tree on a curve of a rural road. The site is some 600 miles from the scene of the killings.
Authorities in Pennsylvania had said Ludwig had his parents' red Jetta.
Pennsylvania authorities talked with Indiana State Police, but had little new information. said Richard F. Garipoli Jr., police chief of Warwick Township.
"They are both OK and we are working with the Indiana State Police to get them back here," Garipoli said.
Police Chief William Seace said earlier that authorities were operating on the assumption that the girl had been kidnapped. An Amber Alert was issed for the eastern United States.
Kara Beth's 13-year-old sister, Katelyn, told investigators her father and mother were shot after they argued with Ludwig for about an hour, according to a police affidavit filed in court.
"As they got near the front door, Katelyn Borden saw David Ludwig with a handgun pointed toward her father and Katelyn saw David Ludwig pull the trigger, heard a gunshot, and then she ran into the bathroom," the affidavit said.
She heard a second shot — presumably the one that killed her mother — while hiding in the bathroom, it said. Ludwig then ran through the house calling for Kara, she told investigators.
The couple's 9-year-old son ran to the home of neighbors, who called 911, police said earlier.
Police late Sunday issued an arrest warrant for Ludwig on two counts of criminal homicide, one count of reckless endangerment and one count of kidnapping.
Lancaster County Coroner G. Gary Kirchner said Monday that the victims, who were both 50, apparently died of single gunshot wounds to the head. Autopsies were being conducted.
"It's completely insane, completely insane," Kirchner said. "This isn't a Romeo-and-Juliet deal; this is far worse than that."
The Borden family had lived in their home for several years, said neighbor Tod Sherman, 47. Mike Borden worked for a printing company, and the children were home-schooled, he said.
Sherman said the family knew the 18-year-old suspect through a home-schooling network.
Stephanie Mannon, 16, said Ludwig and Kara Borden had been seeing each other secretly.
"Their parents didn't approve of them being together" because of the age difference, she said. "It wasn't because he was a shady character, because he wasn't."
Both Ludwig and Kara Borden maintain Web sites. Hers refers to interests in soccer, art and her Christian faith; his says he enjoys "having soft air gun wars" and claims expertise in "getting in trouble."

I'd be lying if I said I didn't homeschool to protect my kids from these things, though it's not my sole reason. This has shaken me, because a part of me did think homeschooled kids wouldn't do things as radical as this. Sure, they will get into trouble...all kids do. But MURDER?! What happened to drive this young man to think killing this girls' parents would improve the situation?

It also scares me that the girl was secretly seeing him. I was 14 once, too. And my dad would not allow me to date, much less even talk to a boy on the phone, until I was 16. That didn't stop me. I saw boys in secret, too. Thank God I didn't find myself in this kind of situation. So, how do you insure the kind of relationship with your kids that has complete openness and honesty? Is it possible to have complete trust?

I feel so bad for the girl and her siblings. I'm pretty sure that right now she is wishing she had listened to her parents. She will feel responsible for this for the rest of her life. A hefty burden for someone so young.

Superman Meets Supermom

My husband works and goes to school full time. To say I am proud of him is an understatement. However, there are days I am jealous. Don't get me wrong...I love what I do. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I want to be home with my children. And I really do want to be Suzy Homemaker and have a welcoming haven for my man to come home to (even if it doesn't look the way it does on TV). But there are days when I feel alone and I just want another adult to talk to. I know he works hard and it is stressful to try to juggle it all. But at least he's out there with other people and can take a break and chat for a while. He gets to eat out and be a real grown up. If he wants to go window shopping between classes, he can (not that he ever would...but he could). He has more freedom than I. His day to day doesn't revolve around meeting someone else's need. He has time alone. I never have time alone. This is my version of his life. I'm sure his version would sound much different.

I am torn between what I want to do and what I can do. I know we are at a point in our lives that requires much of us. He has to give himself to carving out a better future for us. And I have to give myself to my family. It's exhausting for us both. My expectation is that he should come home and be so happy to see us and glad to be home that he leaves every care and every burden on the mat with his shoes. Then he will jump in and help with the housework and entertain the kids and give me a break. We all look forward to Daddy coming home. It's a high point in our day. When he doesn't enter the door as Superman, I am disappointed. Not just in him, but in myself. I think if I could just keep things neater he could relax more at home. If I were better at keeping the children under control he wouldn't feel so stressed. Today he snapped because the kids weren't doing what they were told. I took it as a personal offense, when he was trying to vent. But it somehow felt like it was my fault since I am the one with them most of the time. Aren't I responsible for their behavior? (My words, not his) I want to do it all and be it all, but I just can't. I want to juggle and be there for him and have all the ducks in a row and support him fully while he is trying to do so much. But I suppose I am more selfish than I care to admit, because I want him to be that for me, too. It seems that realizing my limits means accepting his as well.

It's a difficult dance...marriage. When he has a headache, I don't feel the freedom to mention that my head hurts, too, because I feel I should be supporting and caring for him. But inside I am angry because I want to be supported and cared for and now I can't be. He would never actually say he wanted me to support and care for him, but I hear it. It all sounds so ridiculous and stupid. It sounds like something I would correct my children for. I am trying to find it within myself to be selfless and giving. But the truth is, it's not within me. I have to continually look to God to work in and through me, because there is no good here.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Life in the Bubble

I live in a bubble. I like to think I don't, but I do. There are times I want to break out of that bubble. Today I was at the grocery store behind an elderly man. He was thin and bent over slightly. His hands had that look of wrinkled paper. I spent a few minutes studying the groceries he put on the conveyer belt. It was obvious he lived alone. Frozen pizzas and TV dinners. Salisbury Steak, Chicken Fried Chicken, and Barbeque Chicken. I know the nutritional value in those is pretty close to nill. And I wondered if there was a time in his life when someone made those things for him...for real. If at one time he had a sweet wife who made a fuss over him and made sure he ate well. I wondered if he had children, and if so, did they ever make food for him? I watched him pay for his groceries in food stamps and gather the sacks into his cart. He wasn't moving very fast. The lady behind the checkout quickly started ringing up my two items and had my total ready before he could move. I tried to stand back so as not to rush him. I paid for my things and followed slowly behind him out the door. As I drove home I wondered if I would be in that same position one day...eating TV dinners alone and wishing for the days when our house was busy and noisy and filled with smells and sounds of family life. Wishing I had a reason to cook and make a mess in the kitchen. I thought of my parents, and how I would do everything within my power to make sure they never spent a lonely day in their last days. And then I wondered why I hadn't spoken to him. Why didn't I offer to make him a meal, maybe once or twice a week? My heart ached for him. The Holy Spirit was nudging me and I fear I missed an opportunity to somehow let that man know someone cares. I contemplated turning the car and around and trying to find him, but I didn't know which car he got in. I was sorry. He may have looked at me like I was a lunatic and run the other direction, but he might have been so happy to have somene make a fuss over him again. Today I wanted to pop this bubble and venture out into that man's world and show him a small kindness.

Then again, there are times I want to keep my family inside our bubble and make us invisible to the entire world.
Tonight I made the mistake of watching the news. I try to avoid the news because there is always a story of someone doing something disgusting to a child. And tonight was no exception. There are sick people in the world...truly. And before them were sick people who started them down the road to sickness and from that comes more sick people. I am deeply disturbed at the unthinkable things people are capable of. Even parents who have been given a child to care for and protect dismiss their God-given privilege. I can't stomach it. I want to scream and cry and never let my children out of my sight. The thought of something happening to one of my children literally makes my stomach turn. I believe I could kill anyone who did harm to them...literally. Why? Why do we do this to each other?

Yes, there are sick people in the world. But I always wonder, what happened to them? At one time they were sweet, beautiful babies, just waiting to be nurtured and molded. Someone didn't do their job. Someone let them down in the worst imaginative way.

And I understand what an awesome responsibility I've been given. Obviously, to my own children. But also, to gather up the courage to pop my bubble and move outside the place I am most comfortable. God, make me sensitive and bold. Help me spread the Light.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hulk Mommy

We had another rough start this morning. As is the case most mornings, my son wants to know what we are going to do. It doesn't vary a lot from day to day, but I think he holds out eternal hope that one morning I will say "We're having ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then we're having a TV Watching Marathon!!" It's starting to grate on my nerves, because he is never satisfied with the answer of "school" and always follows it up with the request to play with a friend. He has befriended a couple of boys, 8 and 10 years old, down the street and wants to play with them every day. Why a 10-year-old would want to play with a 6 year-old makes me uneasy and the 8 year-old hasn't been very nice, so I struggle with this. I know he loves being with other kids, and he doesn't have that opportunity like a child in public school. Some days I think it's okay that he doesn't play with a friend every day. Some days I don't. If he would just stop asking it would save me a lot of emotional turmoil. But he doesn't. I tell him I don't want to talk about it right now. We will do school and see how far we get with that before we discuss it anymore. He whines. He complains. And that is exactly how the rest of the morning goes. His attitude rubs off on sister and I'm going nuts. So, I decide we should go get our shopping done and out of the way. Brilliant, huh? Take three whining, grouchy kids to the Wal-Mart Super-make-me-go-insane Center. Well, we go forward with my wonderful idea and take our grouchiness to the store so we can share it with everyone there. I certainly shouldn't keep it all for myself. They fight over who pushes the cart, who rides on the front of the cart, who checks the price of the 409 Kitchen Cleaner on the price-checker-scanner-thingy. They whine because I don't get them a cookie at the Bakery (even though I have two dozen in my cart). They whine because I won't let them look at toys. And brother asks me AGAIN if he can have a friend over. I tell him I will call another homeschooled friend so we can set up a playdate. "Today?" he asks. "I'll call today but we'll plan for another day," I say. The child (who will be 7 in 4 months) sits himself down on the floor right there in the middle of Wal-Mart. Have you ever seen Bruce Banner turn into the Hulk? I'm not sure because I can't see outside myself, but I'm pretty sure my reaction went something like that. Eyes bulging, veins popping, heavy breathing. I didn't yell. It was more like a growl. And he got up very quickly. We paid for our things (which was everything on my list, by some miracle) and hotfooted it home.

I give Brother two sacks and Sister one sack to carry in, none of them even close to being heavy. Brother starts to whine, then Sister joins in. Once I get the door open I send them both to their rooms. They complain about being hungry, but then Hulk starts to come out and they decide to comply. I bring in the other groceries and start putting them away while Baby eats a banana. All is quiet for a few moments. And I start to have a little pity party. Why don't they appreciate all I do for them? Don't they know what I have given up to be here with them? When Brother was first born and I quit my job, I didn't even spend $2 on a bottle of makeup so we could make ends meet on the one income. I went without makeup for several months!!!!! Talk about sacrifice. I feel myself wanting to cry. Why do my children seem to be miserable at home? Then I get angry. These kids don't know how good they have it. By golly, I'm gonna teach them. I make them lunch, not bothering to ask what they want. Then I let them get up, one at a time, and wash their hands. I inform them when they come to the table that the first one to complain about what is on their plate will go to bed with nothing. They will be nice to each other, nice to me and use their manners or else. Sister says, "I want milk!" Trying not to scream at her, I tell her to ask. Once she asks nicely, I give it to her. Then Brother says, "Where's my milk?" Are you KIDDING ME?! Through clenched teeth I proceed to tell him that God didn't give him a Mom to make all his wishes come true and if he wants something he should try asking. After lunch the kids run off to play for a few minutes while I finish feeding Baby and gorge on 4 of the 2 dozen cookies we bought. I have earned the right to be a disgusting pig. Once I have drowned my sorrows with sugar laden junk, I take Baby to her and Sister's room to change her and get her ready for her nap. As I near the room, I smell the funk. No, no, it can't be. Please, God, NOOOOOOO!!!! I walk in to find Sister standing akwardly and looking at me with a very guilty expression. I stop and just look at her. She says, "I need to go potty, " though it's obvious from the wicked stench that she already has. I walk past her and tend to Baby.
"Eww, Mommy, I'm poopy. Will you change me?" she asks sweetly.
"No," I reply.
"Mommy, will you wipe me up?" she asks, sounding a little more desperate.
"No," is my answer again.
"Will I go to bed with poop?" she whines.
"But I want to poop in the potty!" she cries.
"No you don't," I say. "You want to go in your pants. And if you're going to do that, then you can wear it, because I am not cleaning you up."
She is now napping in her bed with a stinky, sticky mess on her backside. Will it work? I don't know. But I am at a point of desperation.

I want to be sweet, happy, fun-loving Mommy all the time. But I want to be appreciated, too. I know one day my kids will look back an perhaps be appreciative (at least, I hope they will). I also want my children to understand that there is a time for fun, and a time to do things that aren't. That we all work together to help each other and build each other up because we are family. I want them to know that God commands us to love everyone and that we should be kind and giving. I don't want to raise spoiled brats that never give others a second thought. How do I teach them compassion and thankfulness? It's a challenge to be sure. I pray for wisdom. I pray they will see compassion and God's love in me.

My Princess

Today I was cleaning the bathroom (Yes, it's true...I did clean today) and was wearing rubber gloves. You know, the banana yellow ones that hit about halfway between your wrist and elbow. My three-year-old was perched on the potty taking it all in. She is obsessed with dressing up and I guess my gloves were akin to formal wear to her. She sucked in a little gasp and said, "Mommy, what are those?!" I explained they were gloves I used to keep the bathroom cleaner off my hands. Then she said wistfully, "I can't wait till I'm a Mommy so I can wear those." I was thinking, "Girl, I can't wait till you're 6 so you can wear them and help your poor ole' Mommy out!"

For some reason I am a failure in the area of Potty Training. I struggled with my son and now I am struggling with Sister. I hate potty training!! And if any of you out there want to tell me how you potty trained your children in a weekend, resist the urge. I will throw up. So I've been using every technique ever invented, and a few I just made up, to get that girl to go in the potty. Today she said, "God told me I could poop in the potty because my bottom is strong." Well, I'm glad she is hearing from God on the issue. We could use a little Divine Intervention.

Friday, November 04, 2005

One Long Blog

This morning I took all three kiddos to go shopping. Brother is in desperate need of new pants. We pile into the car and head to Ross. On the way I go down the list of acceptable behaviors and unacceptable behaviors. The latter list is quite long, as we have been on enough shopping trips to experience such behaviors. If everyone is sweet and obedient, we will go out to eat lunch. If they are not, we will come home to eat lunch and the correlating discipline will follow. As it turns out, everyone did great. We made the trip short and it was indeed sweet. We only found one pair of jeans, but it is a start. So, when asked where they want to dine, the answer is of course, "McDonalds"! Then my son says, "But Mom, it's not cheap Happy Meal day!" Poor kid. It's a special day when we go to McDonald's and actually pay (gasp!) full price for a Happy Meal.

We arrive and the Playland is PACKED. Brother is so excited to see other kids, his car door is open before I can park it. "Maybe I'll make a new friend today!" he exclaims. Man...what kind of a mom am I? I don't work, therefore we have to find bargains even at McDonald's, the world's cheapest fast food. And I homeschool, so he doesn't get to play with kids every day. I deprive him of money and friends! I'm feeling a little guilty when we go in and all the kids are five and under. Great for Sister, who is three, but Brother should have six-year-old boys to play with. He doesn't care. It's kids! He joins the throng with zeal. (When I say "throng", it's actually more like a mosh pit.) I run into the mother of a boy Brother played soccer with last year. We see each other all the time. It's like we haunt the same places. Anyway, she is there with her daughter who is Sister's age, but her son is in school, of course. We chat a while and she goes to her table with her group that meets there every Friday for lunch. We are there an hour or more. The kids lose themselves in all the activity and I love watching them interact, even though there were a few little squabbles to deal with. I give the kids the Five More Minutes signal to prepare them for our departure and she invites me to sit at her table. I tell her we're leaving, but I stand and go over to chat just a little. Of course, the first thing she says is, "I thought about homeschooling, but..." This happens often when I talk to people who don't homeschool. They feel the need to justify their decision to send their kids to public schools. As if I care. I know that sounds harsh, but I made my decision to homeschool based on what I felt was right for my family. I am in no position to say whether or not it is the right thing for every family. People do what they want to do or feel they have to do. I get that. I don't look down my nose at public-schoolers. I am a public-schooler, and I had a great experience! I have a neighbor down the street who has a 10 year-old son. He has some pretty hefty problems developmentally. She blames it on the school and even went so far as to tell me I was "so lucky" that I homeschooled. I'll agree...I found a wonderful husband who just so happens to be an incredible dad to three of the most adorable kids on the face of the earth. I got lucky there. But luck had nothing to do with homeschooling my kids. Anyway, I'll get to that in a minute. Back to McDonald's Mom. So I listen and nod and smile politely, because I can't get a word in edgewise. When she comes up for air I simply say, "Well, it's not for everyone. You just do what you have to do." We talk about how most people can't make it on one income and she says she works part time and wouldn't want to quit and homeschool because she likes her "new car and house that hasn't been rented out". Okay, I was initially thinking it would be great if she and I could get together for a play date when her son has a day out of school. . Now I'm thinking, I couldn't dare invite her into my life.

Here's the deal:
I know many people could look at me, my house, my car, my life and shake their heads with pity. I know some people actually do. But I'm not a victim of circumstance here. I chose this, and believe it or not, I think it's pretty great!!! Yes, there are days I dream of a big house and a minivan that will hold us all comfortably and get us from here to there dependably. But on the whole, I wouldn't change anything. I gladly give those things up to be here with my kids. There are people who don't and they make it fine. But this is what I wanted. I don't do it all wonderfully. I probably mess up more than I get right. But I'm here and I'm happy. Please don't undermine that with pity. This is only a bump in the road. Because I am so "lucky" to have a hard working husband who wants to give us more, someday we may actually have all those "middle class" things. Until then, I won't be made miserable over "stuff".
Perhaps I'm being presumptious. She may not bat an eye at my situation. But I'm pretty sure based on our conversation that she would have a hard time forming a relationship with me. Maybe she will actually call me and maybe we will become great friends. She is very friendly and seems like a lot of fun...but a little shallow. This disappoints me, because I am hungry to have real relationships with people, and I've met very few I felt I could have that with. But, more on that later. This blog is ridiculously long!!!

Roses In December

My baby was 11 months old yesterday. She is four weeks away from being a year old. If I could stop time, I would. She is so sweet and so fun and so darling and so...delectible. It is sad to know that my baby time is coming to a close. There won't be any more babies for me. She is it. It was a little sad with my older children, but I always knew I'd have more. I want to keep her perfect little feet and soft cheeks forever and ever. I was in Wal-Mart the other day and saw a brand new baby. I literally fought back tears.

Ahhhhh....babies are bliss.

With my first baby I was blown away by the all-consuming love I felt for him. With my husband, I grew to love him. With my son, it was instant. They put him in my arms and it was pure magic. Being a first time mom, I didn't know much about raising a child, even though I was sure I knew everything. I made so many mistakes with him. There were days I was impatient and frustrated with him, even as a baby. Now I wish I could have those days back. I wish I could be the mom then that I am today. I wouldn't worry so much if he got half an hour less sleep than he should. I wouldn't worry if he got off schedule or did things differently than what every book said he should do. I would let him be him and me be me. I would just enjoy him. Because I know now it's all just a blip. Don't get me wrong...we had lots of fun together, but I was stressed a lot. I was uptight about his care and worried constantly. I have let go of so much with my girls, and I think they are a little bit sunnier because of it. So tonight I will let my baby lay next to me and will drink in the magic of her. I will try my best to memorize her smell, her softness and the way her breath feels on my cheek.
-"God gave us memory so we could have roses in December."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I Hate It When That Happens!!

I am so tired. I have had five hours of sleep and have been woke up five times by my children. Baby wakes me up every night, but tonight Sister joined the fun. Let's just say we're having potty issues and leave it at that. To make it worse, I had a horrible dream that woke me up once. Have you ever had a dream that made you wake up with a headache? This was so intense. It's like I was frowning in my sleep and now my head hurts. This is the dream:

I am at a dinner party with my baby. It's a house much like mine...small, old, but not run down. The neighborhood is full of houses that are the same. Not brand new, but tidy (not that my house is tidy, but you get the picture). The house is crowded with people, but there are two men that make me nervous. They don't mingle with everyone. Instead they are watching and whispering to each other. They walk around taking mental notes and just...observe. Somehow I figure out what they are up to. They plan to block both the front and back doors so no one can leave and then kill everyone. I head for the front door, but I'm met by one of the men, who casually tries to start a conversation with me to divert my attention. It doesn't work and I keep trying to get to the door. Realizing his casual attitude isn't cutting it, he resorts to physically blocking the door. The look between us tells us we know what the other is thinking. He knows I know, and he doesn't care. He's almost proud. The next thing that happens is I wake up in the house. It's dark and everyone is asleep all over the place. I figure we must have been drugged. I realize the front door isn't being guarded, but I see shadows at the back. I clutch my baby and quietly, but quickly run to the front door. I fumble with the lock, but manage to get out. I am running down the dark street as fast as I can, past dark houses where people are sleeping. Should I scream and wake someone up? I'll wait until I am farther away so the two men won't hear me. Suddenly I see a man in his yard waiting for me. I feel a wave of relief as I run up to him, but just before I get to him, I realize this man isn't going to help me. He is helping them. I try running into another yard, but it is fenced and hard to climb with my baby. I am trapped. This is where the dream takes a strange, yet amusing turn. He comes at me with flyswatters. He is trying to hit my baby with flyswatters. Well, that does it. Mama Bear rears her head. I grab them both away from him and start beating the crap out of him with the flyswatters. He is crouched on the ground crying when the police get there. I learn from the police that everyone in the house has been murdered and I start to cry. That 's when I am woke up by my three year old crying.

Speaking of tired, I have a friend who had a baby two weeks ago. I have known her for almost 7 years. Our sons have been playing together since they were babies. When I had my third and most high maintenance child, my social life declined. She was colicky, but mostly at night. I was exhausted, to say the least. Plus I had my two other children to take care of. It wasn't like I could just take a nap whenever. My plate was very full and I was in survival mode. I had a couple of friends who took personal offense that I didn't call them more and try to get together with them. She was one of them. Her first child is almost 7 and she has just had this little baby girl. Now her baby is up every hour or two wanting to eat and she is tired and emotional. She didn't call me...I called her. Okay, I know this is bad, but I'm feeling a little vindicated. Part of me is kind of glad that it's not going really smooth for her. But, at the same time, I feel bad for her. I remember those days, even though they do kind of run together in a sleep deprived haze. I will probably try to help her somehow, but again, I have this terrible little voice in my head that says, "See...I'm the better friend. I didn't get mad at you. I helped you. That's because I'm a good friend." This is where works gets in the way of grace. But can we honestly say that we truly do things for the right reasons? If I'm completely honest, I would say most of the time my motives are somewhat selfish...even if only a little. I guess it's a good thing God can work around all that junk.