Sunday, November 25, 2012

Unanswered Prayers

There’s a Garth Brooks song that says “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” It took a lot of growing up for me to really understand these words of wisdom, but now I think I finally get it.

I’m thankful that I’m an only child. If I had siblings, I probably wouldn’t be nearly as close to my cousins.

I’m thankful for all the times that my daddy said no when I asked permission to do something – he saved me from a lot of danger, heartache and tears. All of those no’s meant that he loved me – that he cared.

I’m thankful that my parents divorced. If they hadn’t, I never would have known my stepmom or my stepdad and my kids would have missed out on two wonderful grandparents.

I’m thankful that I didn’t marry my high school boyfriend, because I wouldn’t have ended up with the husband and the children that I love more than anything.

I’m thankful that I had relationships with some real jerks who treated me terribly (and some crazy people who scared me) because now I know what I “missed out on.” Without those people, I would never be able to truly appreciate my husband.

I’m thankful for my crazy, frizzy, unmanageable, curly hair. It’s part of my personality and it means that I haven’t lost it due to some terrible illness.

I’m thankful that I didn’t get the promotion I desperately wanted when I was still working – if I had climbed further up the corporate ladder, I probably would never have become a stay-at-home mom.

I’m thankful that our bid wasn’t accepted on a house that we loved – in hindsight, it would’ve been a horrible mistake to buy that house. The payment would’ve been more than we could have afforded and we would have been under tremendous financial strain.

I’m thankful that we packed up and moved away from all of my family and friends – if we hadn’t, I never would have met and grown close to all of the wonderful people that have become part of my support network. I’m thankful that I cried every day for months because I was so homesick – now when I visit, I truly appreciate the loved ones that I don't get to see often enough.

I’m thankful that we lived with my in-laws for a year and a half. It was really hard not having my own house for that long, but we forged a "Walton-esque" bond that would never have been as strong otherwise.

I’m thankful that it took so long for us to find a house – it taught me patience and it taught me to trust my husband’s instincts. Eventually, we found the house that was perfect for us and in our price range.

I’m thankful for all of the times that my heart has been broken – either by someone else or because of my own foolishness. I’ve learned from my mistakes.

I’m thankful for stretch marks and leftover baby weight and memories of morning sickness – they mean that I had the blessing of growing four beautiful human beings right underneath my heart.

I’m thankful that I don’t have a new car – it means that I don’t have to worry about a car payment and that I don’t stress about one of my children spilling something on the seats.

I’m thankful for the tears that I’ve cried, the chronic back pain that I have and the injuries that I’ve suffered. They’ve shaped me into someone who is empathetic to others.

I’m thankful for being lied to and used and hurt – those times have taught me who I can trust.

I’m thankful that sometimes the power goes out and that sometimes money is tight. These things remind me that in reality, the only things that are real necessities are the people that I love.

I’m thankful for a tired body and for the circles under my eyes. They mean that I have precious peaceful moments in the middle of the night when I can hold my children in my arms.

I’m thankful for all of the broken glasses, grape-juice stained shirts, and markers on the walls. They have taught me that things are just things and they can be replaced.

No, maybe what we think is best isn’t best for us at all. Though usually it’s very hard to see at the moment you’re asking, sometimes no really is better than yes.

Thank You, God, for all of the times that You've answered my prayers with a “no.”

from my 11-25-12 article for

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for Funnies

Adelaide and I were reading Goodnight Moon. She had a hair stuck to her lip and kept trying to get it off. When we got to page 3 she read, "And there were three little hairs sitting on chairs." Then she CRACKED herself up.

On Thanksgiving night, we were watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade together when she and Jesse got home from Beth and Roy's (Sadie and Josie stayed the night and Jed and I came home early). She snuggled in next to me and said, "Oh, you are warm and toasty. You are as cozy as a warthog!" Then she said, "Hey! That giant balloon is Hermit the Frog!" She's saying funny stuff so fast I can barely keep up with her!

Later when we said prayers, she thanked God for all of her body parts, all of her family, her bed, the bookshelf, windows, hair, and "thank you God, for all the things that are funny. Amen."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Be assertive

A friend of ours from church sent us this really cool song called "God and Dog" about the similarities between God's love and your dog's love. It honestly almost made me cry AND it even made me like Roscoe better too. Well, Josie, taking after her father and her Weird Al penchant, took the part of the song that says "I look up and I see God, I look down and see my dog...." sang her own version: "I look up and see a bird, I look down and see a turd." Great.

A few weeks ago Sadie wanted some fish from Long John Silvers but all of the kids were in the car and I told her she would have to go in by herself while I watched her through the window from the car. I've been trying to teach them to look people in the eyes and to be assertive. Not rude or demanding, just assertive. I told her to say, "Hello, I would like some fish please!" She and Josie cracked the heck up and now every time I tell them to be assertive, they talk in a funny accent and say realllly loudly, "HELLO, MY NAME IS SADIE! MAY I HAVE SOME FISH PLEASE!?"

I was cleaning the bathroom upstairs and I was holding Snoopy in my other hand. When Sadie walked by and saw me, she said, "Hey! Nobody puts Snoopy in a toilet!" Right. And nobody puts Baby in a corner either.

Jedidiah has started turning his little hands palms up and humming the "I don't know" sound. It's so cute when I ask him something - he looks around and says "I don't know."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thankful that I'm a Mom

I’m an only child.

So when I had my second child, I naturally assumed that she would be just like my first. Little did I know that they would be complete opposites.

It turns out that all four of them are as different from each other as morning, noon, night and naptime.

It’s humbling to think that out of all of the other moms in the world, God chose me – me – to be their mother. Me, with the not-so-idyllic past. Me, with the back problems and the weird propensity for popping my bones out of joint. Me, with the strange fears and the ridiculous built-in klutziness factor. Me.

Shouldn’t they have gone to someone better? Someone more capable?

Yet even when it’s a rough day (and we’ve been having a lot of those lately) I am still thankful that they are mine. Even when they are driving me completely crazy, they have an uncanny ability to keep me smiling.

They constantly amaze me with their own unique personalities.

Sadie has the most amazing memory that I’ve ever encountered. She remembers things from when she was only two, and usually it’s stuff that even I’ve forgotten about. She has a gentle spirit and a kind heart, and she longs for beauty in everything she sees. She loves to decorate, dance, hear the stories that her grandparents tell, plan parties, make floral arrangements, paint and read. Watching her grow from my first-born baby into a sweet young lady is such a privilege for me and I am so proud of her.

Josie lives life more than anyone else I know. She feels things deeply. Certain movies, songs, stories, events and even memories pull at her heartstrings and her feelings (happy or sad) often come out as tears. She’s an optimist; she always sees the bright side of things. She loves making new friends, drawing, making people laugh and figuring out puzzles. She wants to change the world and help little kids by raising money to help dig wells in third-world countries. Knowing Josie – and the beautiful light that seems to shine from her – I’m sure that she’ll do it.

Adelaide is a natural drama queen. She loves to memorize and recite stories, poems and Bible verses. She likes to dress up and stay “in character” for days at a time. She loves to play games, talk in funny voices, watch movies and use her imagination. She believes that everything is magical and she has the ability to find something fun in just about any situation. She’s incredibly strong-willed, which I know is a quality that will serve her well later in life. She’s happy when she’s with her family. When she hugs me at bedtime, she likes to whisper, “I’ll never let go.” I hope that she doesn’t.

Jedidiah has such a sweet and happy disposition. He always wakes up ready to face the day with a chubby-cheeked smile. It’s like he knows that something wonderful is going to be waiting for him around every corner. He’s always in a hurry, running here and there to make sure that isn’t going to miss anything interesting. He wants to touch, taste, hear, see, smell and experience everything in the world. He loves to dump things out, tear things up and generally wreak havoc. He is curious, smart, funny and oh-so-squeezable. If I could keep him just like this forever, I’d do it in a minute – crazy messes and all.

I can’t say that I haven’t made my more than my fair share of mistakes. I have.

Looking at my children not only makes me feel a sense of accomplishment, as if I may actually be doing something right, but also a sense of wonder. They aren’t doing this well because of me, but in spite of my mistakes. The people they are becoming – no, the people they already are – are teaching me more about life and beauty and love and joy than I’ve ever known.

Learning to be a mother was – is – the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

But, during this week of Thanksgiving, I am so thankful that I’ve been given the chance.

-From my 11/18/12 article for

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Halloweened Out

I am completely Halloweened out. With the storm, losing electricity and all of the rescheduling due to bad weather, it seemed like “Halloween season” was interminable this year.

My girls even got tired of wearing their costumes, if that tells you anything.

We went to a local church’s festival one week and to the mall trick-or-treat event the next.

We went to Halloween Story Time at the Library. We watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and “FrankenPooh.”

Then I decided that I hadn’t suffered enough so I threw a big Harvest Party on the last day of October. Our power had JUST come back on after the hurricane, so I looked inadvertently scary to the neighborhood children – I wasn’t really in costume but I did bear a close resemblance to a sleep-deprived zombie. There were some close calls involving our homemade piƱata stick and our pumpkin bowling game, and one of the little boys looked at my hand-drawn pin-the-crow-on-the-scarecrow poster and said, “What is that?” But nevertheless, it was a fun party.

Last but not least, we participated in our neighborhood’s regular trick or treating this past weekend. It was pretty cold and Jedidiah had decided he was done being Yoda so I ended up taking him home. I bundled him into the car and we drove around the neighborhood until we spotted his dad and sisters so we could give them a ride home (it’s hard to walk in Queen Amidala’s shoes.) The girls could barely haul their candy bags into the car. It turns out that the generous people in our neighborhood gave out full-sized candy bars! Full-sized! I don’t remember ever getting a full-sized candy bar when I went trick-or-treating as a kid.

Through it all, there have been gobs of leaves, broken branches, a couple of rotting pumpkins (remember all of the warm days we had a couple of weeks ago?), some scarecrows, a little witch, a squishy muddy pond, a downed light pole, a giant capsized tree, some questionable power lines and who knows what else lying around in our yard.

Inside, there’s a dangling skeleton (we usually use it to learn about bones when we’re talking about science) and seven pumpkins, including two fake pumpkins and various and sundry gourds. Light sabers are now a fixture behind our kitchen door, right next to the umbrellas.

A gigantic pile of Halloween props has taken up permanent residence in my bedroom closet. There’s a Darth Vader helmet, a cane, three headpieces, four candy bags, two pairs of fuzzy boots, several capes, clip-on earrings, green paint, Ewok ears and who knows what else.

It looks like a candy bomb has exploded in our house. Candy is EVERYWHERE. Even though the girls have their own individual trick-or-treat bags in their rooms, pieces of candy are in the kitchen, in the pantry, on the stairs, in coat pockets, in the car – EVERYWHERE.

Every five minutes (and I am not exaggerating) Jedidiah comes to me holding up a new sucker or a roll of Smarties that he has found squirreled away in someone’s stockpile. He begs me to open it, doing the cute little bendy-kneed “candy-dance.” This is inevitably closely followed by the “fall-in-the-floor-and-scream-because-you-can’t-have-it-dance.”

Let’s just say that Mommy is tired of both dances.

The pumpkins? To the compost pile!

The scarecrows? I say we just put some aprons and shoe buckles on them and call them pilgrims.

The candy? I want to throw it all in the trash and hide. And also brush my teeth.

I have never been so ready for Thanksgiving – and one thing I’m thankful for is that we are finally done with Halloween.

from my 11/11/12 article for

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Mommy Brain

I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly smart person.

I made straight A's in school (well, except for Algebra). I graduated early from college.

I like to learn. I like to read. I like useless information. I like watching biographies. I like taking IQ tests (or any test, really).

But lately I feel like I have nothing to contribute.

As far as having a grown up conversation, that is. I mean, what do I have say?

Jed’s poop was kind of green today.

Adelaide used the self-checkout at the grocery store today.

Sadie learned the word “collinear” today.

Josie figured out how to make paper airplanes today.

I made a bushel’s worth of applesauce today.

Not the greatest topics for a cocktail party (not that I ever go to cocktail parties). I know that I am blessed to have the opportunity to stay home with my children; I know some moms can't or don't choose to, but I love being a stay at home mom. I love being a homeschooling mom. But I kind of feel like I’m getting dumber and dumber. Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I the only one who puts the milk in the pantry and the cereal in the refrigerator? Am I the only mom who runs a complete cycle through a completely empty washing machine?

For almost 20 years, I worked either in an office, at a school or in retail. Staying home has been a total identity change for me. I no longer have to get dressed up to go to the office. I don’t have to get dressed, period. As a matter of fact, I’m writing this while I’m wearing my PJs and it’s 4:00 in the afternoon.

I knew that staying home would have different types of challenges and rewards. I was prepared for that. But I’m not sure I was prepared for all the potty talk, the toddler’s constant eating of acorns or the interminable craft projects.

And I don’t think I was really prepared for my own brain turning to mush, or for the judgment I sometimes encounter when I venture into the outside world (outside my house, that is).

Sometimes there seems to be a public perception of stay at home moms… maybe a subconscious stigma that we are “uneducated” and we “have no drive” or maybe we have a lower IQ.

A lot of times when I meet people and they learn that I am JUST a stay at home mom, they seem to write me off as someone who has nothing to contribute to the conversation. And sometimes, maybe I don’t.

But if I do speak up and I happen to remember some of my “big words,” they are shocked. It’s like they’ve suddenly run across a chicken who can speak French.

Sometimes I feel like I should introduce myself like this: “I’m a stay at home mom now, but I USED to work in merchandising for a Fortune 100 company.”

Has my career change (and yes, I consider myself as a professional mother now) really reduced my IQ?

Do people think that because I’ve chosen to stay home that something must be wrong with me? Or that my brain just isn’t working right anymore?

Maybe it isn’t. Maybe my IQ is lower. But I still want to stay home with my kids – even if it means sacrificing some more of my brain cells for the next few years.

If you aren’t busy, though, perhaps I could I interest you in some intriguing anecdotes about a diaper, some acorns, a plunger and a roll of scotch tape.

--from my 11/4/12 article for

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Adelaide is changing a little bit more each day. I know kids grow up slowly and they're changing all the time, but sometimes it seems like they'll hit a certain season and it's like warp speed. Adelaide has hit some kind of stride and she's suddenly a grown up 4 year old. Her chubby cheeks aren't quite so chubby, her crazy laugh isn't quite so crazy. Her little Wizard of Oz munchkin voice is changing - oh, so subtly, but it's gradually going away. Wow. I wish I could just grab her and keep her the way she is (even though sometimes she drives me nuts) but still... she would keep on changing. My baby girl.