December 13, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring...

After some encouragement from friends, I've decided to add a new feature to my blog. I thought I would share little slices of life that may have occurred recently or even anytime in the last say 20 or so years. While I consider myself an average, normal person, I seem to be a magnet for slightly disastrous events. For some reason, my friends find them amusing. I find them mildly annoying at the very least and for the most part just life as I know it.

One thing I can't seem to get away from is a flooding house. My first house was in TX and it had a tendency to flood when the spring flash floods would hit (but that's a story for a different day). Here in WA it rains.a.lot. And I'm lucky enough to live in a house with a basement. Not every basement floods but mine does. If it's just the typical drizzly rain that soaks everything but never collects, we're fine. But I happen to live in a neighborhood that has worthless drainage systems that somehow find a way to empty into my pipes when they get too full. Just outside my back door, there is a drain that is supposed to funnel all excess water out to the ditches. Instead it acts as a faucet that pours all the water in the neighborhood right to my door and into my basement. After 5 years of living here, you would think I would be on alert whenever it rains but no. We usually discover the flooding when we head downstairs and find ourselves ankle deep in ice cold water.

The last time it flooded (before last weekend anyway) MC was away on his monthly trip to TX. I came downstairs to check on the kids and stepped right into water. I hollered at the kids, "Why didn't you TELL me it was flooding!?" They had no idea what I was talking about as they were lost in video game land and oblivious to the real world. So I pulled on my rubber boots (I keep them close to the back door for just such an occasion) and went to work--after I called MC to complain about his being away, leaving me to mop up by myself.

Unfortunately, we've been getting ready to move and that means serious purging. Being the smart, efficient woman that I am, I'd been piling all the garage sale stuff by the back door, as well as some of the boxes I packed for moving. So the first order of business was to move all those boxes out of the way before anything else got ruined. Sloshing back and forth through the water, I moved everything away from the door and into my craft room--scraping my finger in the process hard enough that 2 months later I still have a scar.

In order to get all the water out, I have to hook up a pump and run a hose around to my bathroom shower for drainage. Great--except the shower was full with even more garage sale stuff--had to empty that out next. As I'm rushing back and forth with arms full of junk that I just don't have the heart to see ruined (hey, that game might bring in a whole dollar at a garage sale!) water is still pouring in and making it's way under the stair case and into my closet. I kick it into high gear when I see this. Reaching into the shower stall for another armload, I accidentally hit the faucet and TURN THE SHOWER ON. I scrambled to get it off but still managed to now get my top half, as well as an odd collection of paper dividers and throw pillows, wet. Because that's what I need when dealing with a flood is more water.

In spite of myself I got the shower emptied, got the pump and hose in place, and started rerouting the water. Eventually that kept anymore from coming in but I still had the water in the house to deal with.

During MC's previous TX trip, I'd finally gotten around to laying out the 10x10 carpet piece we had, even going so far as to make sure it was laid out underneath our freezer and bookshelves that were downstairs. Now this rug was a sopping mess that had to be taken out before it started to mold and stink up my house. Let me just tell you that a rug that has been doused in about 75 gallons of water is VERY HEAVY. But I drew on my inner Wonder Woman and managed to not only pull the darn thing out from under the furniture but to drag it into the bathroom where I shoved it into the shower stall so it could dry out (well, as much as it could dry out with all the water coming in from the pump). The rest of the day was spent literally sweeping water out the door, mopping up the floors, drying out what I could and spraying everything with Lysol in an only mildly successful attempt to kill the mildew smell.

Eventually I got it all done and things went back to normal. Until it rained again.

December 5, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

With my birthday coming up in 4 days, I know you all have been stressing over what to get me. I thought I would make things easier on you and just present you with a short list for you to choose from. That's just the kind of considerate person I am!

1. You can never go wrong with chocolate.
Ok, technically that's not true but it's a good start. Just be sure to avoid dark chocolate, white chocolate or any of those ones with the weird cream fillings. If I get the creams I may eat a few but for the most part I will be left with a box filled with broken-in-half chocolates that no one will eat because they've now been mangled in my attempt to figure out what was in them. You're best to stick with nuts and caramels. That's the good stuff.

2. I could never have too many books.
Forget the worm analogy, I'm more of a book fiend. Especially if it's a tragic memoir, a love story that will leave me sobbing on MC's shoulder, anything involving mythological creatures or just trashy romance. And used works just as well as new. I could spend many hours and many more dollars in Half Price Books.

3. Everyone loves a good chick flick.
Maybe not everyone, but they work for me. Especially anything Jane Austen, or something that would play for 6 hours on BBC. If it's a period romance, there's a good chance I'll be hooked.

4. If all else fails, give the gift of peace.

If I had to choose one gift over everything else? It would be time to sit and write. Time to tap away at the keys while purging my brain of all that the voices have been plotting while I've been doing my daily chores. I would ask to be cloistered away somewhere with only my laptop, some peanut M&Ms (my drug of choice) and a hot cup of peppermint tea with no interruptions and...best of all--NO GUILT. I would ask for the freedom to sit and write to my heart's content. No obligations, no cooking (well, no feeding anyone since we all know I never cook), no phone calls and no running errands. Ahhhhh...now THAT would be a gift to remember.

Is this enough to get you started? If not, let me know and I'll send you my categorized and alphabetized Wish List. I just finished color coding it so it's all ready to go! Happy shopping!

October 21, 2010

Men Are From...?

Wednesdays have become the traditional day for all my dad's friends to come and hang out in his shop. The hot dog griller is fired up and loaded down with "homewreckers" while men of all ages make the weekly pilgrimage bearing their half racks of beer. There is the occasional woman but for the most part it's just the testosterone crowd. If you can't handle drinking, swearing, crudeness and lots of male humor, you might as well skip it.

I stopped in yesterday to wish my daddy a happy birthday and I found myself just observing the group. People watching is one of my favorite things to do and this group was particularly fascinating to me if only because it just emphasized how different men and women are.

Here is what you will find on a Wednesday. Men of all ages, shapes and economic backgrounds are standing around the shop, brought together by a shared love of cars, beer, and my dad's warm friendship. While there are a few stools, most of the men stand around, beer can in hand, and visit with the guy standing closest to them. They may not know each other's names, may never see each other outside my dad's shop, but they can find plenty to talk about for the 2 or 3 hours that they are there. It's rarely personal, consisting of car stories, work stories and woman stories. After hours of talking and laughing and having a good time, they head home to their wives, girlfriends, or mothers, some not even knowing the names of the men they had such a good time with.

Now let's imagine the scenario with women. First of all, women would never get together in a shop. They'd find somewhere with chairs and sofas so everyone could be comfy. They may have drinks and food as well, but everyone would take off their coats, be introduced and the hostess would make sure everyone was comfortable before offering everyone their choice of beverages, coffee or tea. They may start the evening not knowing each other but by the time they head home, they know everyone's names, their kids' and husbands' names, their birthing stories, the little quirks their spouses do to drive them crazy (in both good ways and bad) and their favorite movies, foods and hobbies. In the space of a few hours, women will open up with each other and share things that would make men cringe to even contemplate.

I'm not saying one way is better than the other. I've been in the groups with women where far too much was shared but I've also been there when we laughed so hard we cried. I've been among men and heard them gripe about their wives but I've also seen them rally together to help out a friend. No group is better, just different. Those differences are what bring us together and yet also cause so many problems. While it would be nice to see men opening themselves up to their friends, do we really want to hear them comparing stories about passing that kidney stone or what happened at their last prostate exam?

June 2, 2010

Yes, Mother, I Am In Fact Brain Dead

My mom asked me that question yesterday when I informed her that MC had missed his flight to Texas. Now a missed flight does happen to people on a rare occasion but she knows all too well that this type of thing happens on a regular basis with us.

Usually I am the main offender. I'm the one who always flakes out on very important appointments or locks my keys in my car. I have to hand out spare keys to my relatives like they're candy just so I'll have someone to call on to rescue me. I pulled into a parking lot one day and my kids said, "Hey, this is where you locked your keys in your car!" The last time it happened, they all said in unison, "Again?!"

Things like this just have a way of happening to me. Like the time I closed the back door of my wagon and managed to get my fingers caught in it...at night...while pregnant...and no one inside the house could hear me yelling. Or the time I was babysitting and I locked the baby in the car and had to call the police to rescue us. (No, I never told the mom. You're all wondering now, aren't you?)

Missed flights are such a common occurrence that all I can do when it happens is laugh. On our recent trip to Vegas, we couldn't find wi-fi to confirm our itinerary but I knew that our flight left at 12:15 in the afternoon from L.A. So we made our plans, drove our rental car back to L.A. and got to the airport in plenty of time. Only the ticket agent couldn't find us in the system. It turned out that we were supposed to arrive in Seattle at 12:15. I, of course, started laughing. Thankfully, the agent was really nice and super helpful and we made it back home that night.

Yesterday's incident I refuse to take blame for since I had nothing to do with booking the ticket. MC did all that himself and we knew his flight left at 7:55am on Wednesday(today). He asked if I could check him in online. I tried but it wouldn't work. I double checked everything and tried again--still no luck. That's when I saw the date. He was supposed to fly out yesterday morning at 7:55am. He'd missed his flight by about 5 hours. After some serious scrambling, we finally got him to the airport around 4pm where we were informed there were no more flights going out. He would have to come back in the morning for the 7:55 flight we thought he was booked on originally.

He made that flight with no problem and hopefully will make it home in 2 weeks without incident. However, considering that he is flying to Texas every month now and the whole family is flying in August, I have no doubt that we will find ourselves in the airport once again laughing at our stupidity while the ticket agent just stands there looking in bewilderment at the two idiots who missed their flight.

April 26, 2010

Confirmed Bachelor

Here is a conversation that occurred on Friday between Sassy and Bubba:

Sassy: "Bubba, why don't you like girls?"

Bubba: "Because they like romance."

Sassy: "Why don't you like romance?"

Bubba: "What...kissing? Love? Yuck!"

Sassy: "And you don't like kissing?"

Bubba: "No! It makes me think of girls!"

Hmmm...I'm getting the feeling that he has something against girls. I wonder if he knows that I pray God will find him a wife...

April 8, 2010

G.I. Jane? Yes. Joe Barbie? Forget It.

A word of warning for you, dear readers. I have pulled out my soapbox and I am climbing on top. I've decided it's time to address the infuriating double standard that exists among our children. Truthfully, this double standard even exists among adults, but my concern for the moment is only for my kids. What I'm talking about is the fact that girls can be boys but boys are not allowed to be girls.

Let me elaborate. My daughter is a princess, as most young girls can be. She loves to dress up, wear jewelry, make-up and nail polish, play house and Barbies. She is a girly-girl. But she also likes to play Pokemon and Star Wars, have pretend battles with her brothers, play with Legos and soldiers. For Halloween, she dressed up as a commando soldier complete with faux six-pack and stuffed pectoral muscles. Everyone's reaction to my daughter's choice of costume and leisurely activities? "How cute, you have a little tomboy."

But here's the flipside. My boys (one or both, depending on the activity) in addition to all the rough housing and normal boy-type games, have enjoyed dressing up in sissy's dresses and jewelry, having their nails painted, playing Littlest Pet Shop games, and even playing house. The typical reaction to this? "You need to be careful so he doesn't get confused." I've had close friends actually imply that I need to watch out that these activities don't lead them to an alternative lifestyle.

I'm going to take a moment to scream at the top of my lungs in frustration before going on. Okay, I feel better.

Are you kidding me? Do you actually think that my son wanting to play a game of dress up is going to make him gay? Why is it okay for my daughter to do everything the boys can do and no one is worried that she's going to end up a lesbian? Why do boys have to always be rough and tumble creatures? Why can't they be free to explore their softer side?

I would love to be able to start a Men's Liberation Movement. Women have been demanding equal rights and equal treatment for years. Now it's time for the men. I want my boys to be able to do anything the girls do without fear of being judged. At the ages of 9 and 11, they already know that the things they do at home are not looked favorably upon in society. That's just not what "boys" do. To anyone who makes boys feel like they can't enjoy things that are typically considered "girly", I say take a long leap off a short bridge. It breaks my heart to see my son debate with himself over whether or not to have me paint his nails (even if I'm using green or blue) because he's afraid of what other people will say. He should be able to do it because it's fun, not worry about being judged for it.

If my daughter wants to be a Pokemon, Power Ranger, Luke Skywalker or Army ranger, she's applauded for being a strong, tough girl who knows her mind and as well she should be. But if either of my sons wants to dress-up, sew, bake, dance or wear jewelry, he does so knowing that he will be teased mercilessly. I've had enough. Boys can be sensitive. Let them be sensitive. Has anyone ever considered what would happen if our boys learned sensitivity, creativity, compassion, and artistry when they were young? How would things be different if every tough, macho man out there also knew how to be sweet and tender?

I grew up playing with Tonka trucks, watching He-Man and Transformers and hiding out in the woods playing soldier. When my husband was growing up, he learned to cross-stitch and paint and he was invited to girls' slumber parties. I think we can attest to being one of the most stable married couples around. Why not give our little boys a chance at growing up with the same opportunities and allowances that we demand for our girls?

April 2, 2010

Autism Awareness

Today is World Autism Awareness Day and April is Autism Awareness Month. It was just a coincidence that last night I watched a movie called "Adam", about a woman who starts to fall for a man who has Asperger's. It came from Netflix and it's been sitting here for more than a week but I finally watched it last night.

Take my advice and watch this movie. It's just beautiful. Hugh Dancy plays Adam and he does a wonderful job. Rose Byrne is Beth, the woman who moves next door and finds herself drawn to him in spite of his quirks and oddities. It's a story of friendship, of love, of learning to adapt, of living in a world where you don't quite fit in. It's a great story.

Honestly, it didn't matter to me what the story line was, I had to watch it to see how well they portrayed Asperger's. I was very impressed. Hugh did a wonderful job of conveying the social awkwardness, the lack of empathy, the halting, stuttering way of talking and moving, the singular focus on one subject, the fear of change, the incapability of eye contact. He was just lovely as a man who is still a man despite not fitting in with those around him.

I have to be honest and tell you this movie made me cry. It does have some sad moments but I know the reason it made me cry was that I was seeing my son on screen. Not the son that I have now, and not the son who was first diagnosed, but my son just a few years ago. Bubba is not the typical Autistic child (if there could ever be such a thing). While he may have regressed into a non-verbal, screaming machine with no eye contact and little regard for danger or people around him, he has made amazing strides to become a social, talkative boy who has--for the most part--learned to cope with transitions.


When Bubba was little, I never in my wildest dreams thought he would be where he is today. In my most secret dreams, the ones I didn't want to speak out loud for fear of jinxing them, I prayed that one day he would grow up to be as high functioning as Adam. I prayed that he would be able to hold a job, make a friend or two, maybe even be able to live on his own with some assistance. In all your dreams for your children, you just want them to live a happy, normal life. "Normal" takes on a whole different meaning when you are living with Autism.

Watching the movie last night, I cried. Okay, I sobbed until I thought my heart was going to break and I'm crying now. I cried because I recognized Adam. I cried because I recognize the frustration--of both Adam and the people who are trying to understand him. I cried because I know how painful it is for someone with Autism to be faced with change. I cried because I was familiar with his movements, his way of speaking, his bluntness, all the unspoken social nuances that went right over his head. I cried because he found a friend. I cried because he found someone to love him just as he was. I cried because he had to deal with a world that is harsh. I cried because he managed to make his way in that world, carving out a niche that suited him and his differences. I cried because I'm grateful that Bubba has progressed beyond what I ever dreamed possible. I cried because most Autistic children aren't like that. I cried because I have learned more from my son than he's learned from me. I cried because God has entrusted me with the care and upbringing of such a special soul.

Living with Autism is not an easy task. It drains the mothers. It's hard on the fathers. It wears on siblings. I have days where I have to convince my other children that they do love their brother no matter how difficult he makes life sometimes. There is nothing more heart wrenching than to hear your child say they wish they didn't have a brother. That's a knife to the heart with a wicked twist for good measure.

No one chooses this for their life, but it's my life. He's MY son. I love him 'til it hurts. I pray every single day that he will grow up to find someone who will love him just as much.

March 31, 2010

Who Loves You, Baby?

It's a universal truth among mothers that no one, no matter how much they come to care for your children, can ever love your children as much as you do. It's simply not possible. The times that my kids help prove that truth are some of my favorite moments.

Driving home tonight, Bubba was upset because he had to miss an episode of his favorite show. His trauma was short lived, however, as he told me he would just go home and watch it on his invisible television. I told him that was a great idea. He then spent the entire drive home having a very animated discussion with an imaginary friend (audience? admirer?). I only caught a word or two here and there but apparently he and his friend were having a good ol' time. He did share with me when we were almost home that he was going to invent a video game and he was going to post it on his destiny (trust me, I have no idea what that means either). He said in a very enthusiastic voice, "You've heard of 3-D? Well it's gonna be in 5-D! That's a mixture of 2-D and 3-D." I, of course, answered in the usual way, "Alright."

Where all this comes from, I have no idea. And what any of it means is even more of a mystery. Even so, I couldn't help but smile as I spent fifteen minutes listening to his excited conversation...with himself. I just love that kid.

March 23, 2010

Make Yourself at Home

Have you ever had a friend that you were so close with you were just as at home in their house as your own? I've been pretty fortunate in life to have had two such friends, both named Amy.

Amy D. was my middle school best friend. We met in the 6th grade and we were inseparable until a tragic falling out in the ninth grade. Until then, we did everything together. We spent every weekend with each other. We invited the other on family vacations and we were like an extra daughter to the other's family.

The falling out that broke up Amy D. and I actually brought me closer to Amy R., who had been in my group of close friends all through middle school. We spent the next next four years together, the best of friends. It was just a given that we would be at the other's house. I started attending church with Amy R. and that brought us even closer.

I was so close to my friends that I was comfortable in their houses even when their families were home but they weren't. If I wanted something to eat, I could just help myself to the fridge. I knew where the TV and movies were if I got bored. I could just hang out and visit with the parents and siblings.

I did, however, learn the hard way that no matter how close you are, you should always knock before you enter. One morning, I arrived at Amy R.'s house around 7am. I was afraid of waking anyone so I decided to quietly let myself in (not something I was in the habit of doing). I walked in on her dad exercising on the mini trampoline...in his underwear. I'm still not sure who was more embarrassed.

But what happens to us as we get older?

I have a few (very few) close friends. One of them came over the other day and as I was showing her my new bookshelves she remarked, "I keep forgetting how big your house is." It struck me as odd that she didn't know my house very well. When I was at her house some time ago, I happened to be in her bedroom and I realized that it was probably only the second time I'd been in her room. I'm not saying that bedrooms should be open to the public, I'm just saying that I'm not familiar with her house.

Do you have friends that feel so welcome in your home that they can just help themselves to anything? My parents have this kind of house, they always have. The door's always open and everyone's welcome. Sometimes I wonder if my house doesn't look more like a fortress. It's not that I don't welcome my friends when they're here, it's just that I don't invite them to begin with. I want my kids to have friends like I did--ones who feel like this is their second home--but they haven't been learning from my example.

I can rightly put some of the fault on the fact that as an adult I have many more things pressing on my time. I don't have the luxury of hanging out and watching "The Brady Bunch" reruns for hours at a time. But that's just an excuse. How can my friends feel welcome in my home when I won't even let down the drawbridge for them to come in?

This my sanctuary, my place to unwind, but why not unwind with good friends? Why not take shelter with the company of those close to me?

I can't help but feel like God (if He blogged) would be writing this same thing. "My children make themselves at home in the world, why aren't they as intimately familiar with my home?" I know every inch of my house. I know where the floor squeaks and the windows draft and the water drips. I know the coziest spot on the couch and where to sit to soak up the best sunbeams. I know where everything is kept and the things that are never put back where they are kept. But am I as familiar with God's house? Can I honestly say that it's just as comfortable to me as being in my own house? Am I certain of walking in unannounced, knowing that I'll be embraced with open arms and told to kick off my shoes at make myself at home because, after all, I'm family?

There is no moat around God's house, no drawbridge to be let down. I doubt He even has a front door that we have to knock on. It's just always open and He's standing there in the doorway, beckoning us to come on in and "make yourselves at home."

March 19, 2010

Here I Am To Worship

Yesterday I was driving home from Federal Way in rush hour traffic. The kids were being especially rambunctious--wrestling, hitting, shouting. I had the radio turned up in a pathetic and failed attempt to drown them out while my white knuckles gripped the steering wheel. It is in these ordinary, sometimes chaotic moments that God likes to make His presence known.

A song came on the radio, "Here I Am To Worship". It's a song that the kids know from singing at church and it's Sassy's favorite. When the song started, the kids stopped everything they were doing so they could sing along. There were no words spoken that brought their games to a screeching halt, just the first few notes of the song. Everything else ceased to matter because they had to sing. It couldn't be helped.

After the song was over they went back to their usual routine of driving me insane but it didn't bother me nearly as much this time. In hearing them sing that song, I knew that God was laying on their hearts words that would bring them closer to Him. It is in those random, seemingly innocuous moments that God can be felt and heard. I am grateful to be in His presence.

March 12, 2010

A Spot of Tea

We are creatures of habit. We have our routines, our way of doing things. Even if you aren't a branch in my particular obsessive-compulsive family tree, I would bet that you have a lot of routines that you rarely veer away from. When you shower, you do everything in a certain order. There's a right way to load the dishwasher. When you get home, your coat, keys, purse, shopping bags, etc. are all dumped in the usual spot. When you get ready in the mornings, there is a system to follow. For me, it's go to the bathroom, get dressed, do my hair, brush my teeth, eat breakfast.

But what about those things that we do that aren't habit? Do you have anything you do just because the act of doing it is enjoyable? Do you do anything that's become more of a ritual as opposed to a blind habit?

Dictionary dot com defines habit as an "acquired behavior regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary." We've performed these routines so often that they've become second nature to us--like going on auto pilot on the drive home from work. Your brain checks out while your body performs it's ingrained tasks.

Ritual is defined as "any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner." There's a slight difference between the two but it's there nonetheless. Habits are done so frequently that we can do them in the same way each time without thinking, but a ritual is deliberate. We perform in a set manner. We perform on purpose.

I have a ritual that I perform most every morning and sometimes in the evening. For me, my ritual is making tea. I know, I know. That sounds insignificant. How can that possibly be a ritual? Isn't that just a part of your everyday morning routine? Yes and no.

I do make a cup of tea most mornings to have with my breakfast but I don't do it out of blind habit. When I go through the steps of making tea, it is a very deliberate, even soothing, task. To begin with, I refuse to microwave my water. It's not that I have anything against the microwave, it's just that it's not the same if I don't use my water kettle that looks like a cow (it's a water "cattle", get it?). I fill up my kettle with water and set it on the burner. I listen for the sounds of the water heating, the burner quickly drying up any spilled water that may have run down to the bottom of the kettle. When I stay in the kitchen, I can tell the moment the water is about to boil and can take off the kettle just in time. Most of the time, however, I wander out of the room until I hear the familiar high pitch whistling, alerting me that I'm needed again in the kitchen.

I don't drink my tea out of a dainty, decorative tea cup. No, I drink my tea out of a mug, one that is ideal for a cup of cocoa with lots of marshmallows or even a cup of soup. My tea mug has weight to it. I can wrap both hands around it and let the heat seep into my usually frigid hands.

I use one bag of Stash peppermint tea. I don't use loose tea leaves and I don't drink other flavors, just peppermint. Peppermint is the flavor of winter, the flavor of cozy blankets, the flavor of comfort. And I always add sugar, real sugar--two scoops.

My favorite part of making my tea? The sound of the water as it fills my cup. I always have my mug ready and waiting with the teabag in it. When I pour that steaming hot water in, I almost want to sigh. It's a soothing sound. At that point, I can almost taste the mint, I can almost feel the ceramic warming my fingers, I can envision myself wrapped up in a quilt while I lose myself in my favorite book. Although this is rarely what happens next, the thought is comforting.

What happens next is always different. Usually I busy myself with chores or the computer until my tea has cooled enough to drink without scalding my tongue. Quite often I'll get distracted and only notice my cold and neglected mug hours later when I'm getting ready to fix lunch. At that point it's usually heated up in the microwave and drunk so it won't go to waste.

But how and when I drink it is never the focus behind the ritual. The focus is simply the task itself. The motions of making my tea bring more comfort than the tea itself. This is my ritual of contentment.

March 8, 2010

Life Lessons

Howdy had a grand plan the other day. He decided he wanted to create his own version of a Pokemon game. We cut up a bunch of cardstock for him to draw on and color. He started out disappointed because he knew he wouldn't get the desired color effects he wanted with marker or colored pencil and he was a little leery of possibly making a mistake and leaving eraser marks but he took everything up stairs and got to work.

That lasted all of about ten minutes.

He came downstairs with tears in his eyes, frustration obvious. Here's what he said:
"Mommy, something keeps happening to me upstairs. I'm trying to draw but something is making my body not do it and it's making me lazy."

Welcome to perfectionism, son.

I've known for years that he's picked up that particular family trait from both his father and me, and I do my best to help him cope. What struck me about his words were how accurate a description they were. If you're not a perfectionist (do I even know anyone who isn't?) then let me explain. Being a perfectionist means that you don't just keep trying something until you get it right. It means it has to be right from the get go, it has to be PERFECT from the start. If perfection can't be guaranteed, why start? And so you procrastinate. There's no point in starting something if you know it will be less than you imagine or expect.

I am well versed in the trials of perfectionism. I had my first stress related ulcer in the first grade--I was 7. I am now 30-something. It's taken me years to identify my perfectionism, which areas it relates to (spelling, scrapbooking) and which it doesn't (housekeeping, cooking), how to keep it reined it as much as possible and how to let some of it go. It took a long time to realize that I am a procrastinator BECAUSE I'm a perfectionist, not in spite of. So to hear Howdy be able to put words to what he's feeling at so young as age, I'm heartened that we'll be able to help him deal with the things that come along in life.

Knowing that life doesn't have to be perfect and ISN'T perfect is a hard lesson to learn.

February 22, 2010

So Much For Superwoman

As a mom, you have to deal with all kinds of gross things. It just comes with the territory. Some of us deal better than others. I have no problem with sick children. I can handle vomit better than many adults. I don't freak out over blood. (That's how I got volunteered to pick the gravel out of my friend's elbow when he wiped out on a motorcycle.) Runny noses? Got it covered. Split your head open? Slap some ice on it and you'll be fine.

But it seems that even us moms, superheroes though we may be, have our weaknesses. I have just discovered my kryptonite. It's a simple loose tooth.

My kids' teeth are as stubborn as they are. They do not come out until they absolutely have to. When a tooth finally does fall out, the new tooth is usually already poking through. So when a tooth is just hanging there as Sassy's was this afternoon, you know it's ready to come out.

Her tooth was literally hanging by a thread, making it next to impossible to eat lunch. I knew all it would take was a simple tug to free it, but I couldn't do it. It made me nauseous just to look at it. So instead, I tried to encourage her to take care of it herself. She wiggled and twisted and tugged but nothing happened. The only thing it accomplished was making my stomach turn. I really thought my insides were staging a revolt for awhile. Just thinking about it makes me want to throw up. But she finally did it. She pulled her own tooth out. It took a little harder tug than she'd been doing but it came out. The only thing I had to do was wash the offending tooth.

Let me just say that I'm grateful that all this occurred before I'd eaten lunch. Is it wrong to wish the whole thing had been as simple as the stomach flu?

A Friend By Any Other Name...

I've just spent the last few days hanging out with my sisters. It's something we only get to do a few times a year because of distance and work schedules. A few days spent with my sisters is a few days of having fun, acting stupid, making a fool of myself and laughing until every muscle aches. Who could ask for more?

It got me thinking about the role they play in my life as not just my sisters, but as friends. Think about the friends you have in your life. I don't mean how many friends or even specific names. I'm talking about what KIND of friends you have. You see, God gives us all kinds of friends to fill all kinds of needs that we may have. I got to thinking about these different types of friends and the role they play in my life.

My sisters fall into one of my favorite friend categories. They belong to the group of friends that I can be loud, rude and completely obnoxious with, as well as inappropriate and embarrassing. This is actually a need that I have to have filled in my life and they are there to help me fill it. This is a great group for me because I can make a complete idiot of myself and they will still hang out with me.

But what other kind of friends do I need? What other types of friends has God provided me?

I have "mom" friends. These are the friends that totally get it when I say that I'm ready to beat my children or shoot my husband. They understand the feeling of loving your child's smile while at the same time wishing you could cover it up with duct tape to prevent hearing the words "mom" or "why" come out of that mouth. We can share our struggles with discipline, bills, housework, meals and marriage and know that we have a sympathetic shoulder to lean on.

I have "young" friends. These are the friends that I love hanging out with because they make me forget that I'm older. We all have kids so we're emotionally the same age, right? If you're a mom with young children, you instantly have something in common with other moms, even those that are younger. We can talk kids, babies and the desire to have more or to shut down that factory forever. We exchange ideas, recipes and hand-me-downs whenever we see each other.

I have "single" friends. These friends are some of the most fun. For me, I see them mostly at church functions but I look forward to them being in attendance. When I'm with them, I feel like I'm in my twenties again. We're silly, goofy, and always funny. Life isn't quite so serious when you don't have a mortgage or dependents.

I have "lifelong" friends. Lifelong friends are few and far between. These rare individuals are some of my closest friends. I may only talk to them once a year or once every few years, but at any time I can call them up and we can pick up our conversation as if no time has passed. There's no need for long explanations because they just get it. They know me.

I also have "peripheral" friends. I think for most of us, this is the category that most of our friends fall under. These friends are always there at the edges of my vision but it's only when I change my focus that I really benefit from that friendship. These are women such as other homeschool moms. I only see them at co-op but they make the day enjoyable and I value their suggestions and support. Most of the women I attend church with fall under this category. Church, bible class, retreats and gatherings just wouldn't be the same without them. I look forward to these events just so I can spend some more time with them. I may not see them often outside of the usual meeting places, but I know I can call on them in the event of an emergency and they will be there, as some of them have already proven.

Friendship is a very flexible thing that changes with the seasons, our situations in life and sometimes even our moods. God puts people in our lives to satisfy all the different needs we may have for companionship, mentoring, acceptance, entertainment and assistance. Some people may fall into different categories at different times. Others may just fill a role for a short period in our life and then be gone forever. Whatever their particular role or purpose in my life, and no matter how much I may neglect them or take them for granted, I am so very grateful that God has placed all these women in my life.

February 16, 2010

A Matter of Genetics

I had to talk myself into blogging today. I'm feeling rather lazy as usual. The funny thing is, I usually blog as a way to avoid all the other work I'm supposed to be doing. So how bad am I if I'm getting too lazy to sink into denial and procrastination? I would hate to think I've really sunk that low so...I'm blogging.

Today was a beautiful, sunshiney day. A little on the cool side, perhaps, but just right with a small jacket on. And my children (being that they are, in fact, MY children) had to be forced to go outside and play. They could not be convinced to go outside and enjoy the weather until we threatened them. We told them they couldn't play on the video games until they'd spent some time outside. For every 10 minutes they played outside, they earned 5 minutes of video game time. Even that was only enough to keep Howdy outside for about 10 minutes. It was only after Daddy suggested they play "trampoline dodgeball" that Howdy reluctantly went back out. Nothing will change his mind faster than the thought of inflicting pain on his siblings.

How many children have to be forced to play outside on a sunny day? We just bought the kids a trampoline for Christmas, we have a huge pile of rocks and dirt to dig in and they have little cars and bikes they can ride. Why aren't they begging to go out there and play every day?

Why? Because they are my children. Apparently when they were being knit together in my womb, my DNA got bossy and took over the place, kicking most of MC's peaceful DNA out of the way. The compulsion to remain indoors? They got that from me. The insatiable desire for books? That's all me. The angst, worry and stress? Their therapists can reassure them that also came from me. The picky palates? OK, that one can be blamed on the both of us. But the point is, most of these little quirks and odd personality traits can be traced back to yours truly.

Sometimes I actually feel a little sorry for them. Why couldn't they have their dad's love of sports and the coordination required to be good at them? Where is MC's laid-back, don't-worry-be-happy attitude? Where is the love of the outdoors? And if they had to favor me, why did they have to inherit my hermit nature and my perfectionist tendencies?

I know a little of MC's DNA lurks in each of them, waiting until the Slacker DNA has become lax and unsuspecting. I know it because I see it appear for brief moments before the Slacker DNA beats it back into submission. Knowing my husband's reluctance to rock the boat, I'm not sure his DNA really stands a chance. I can only hope that one day, it will rise up and take over. I'll know that day has come when my children ask me, completely of their own free will, if they can go outside and play in the sun.

February 11, 2010

Tooth Fairy

The Tooth Fairy visited our house last night. Sassy lost her top front tooth in the middle of the night on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. She put it in a special box under her pillow but she was very concerned that the Tooth Fairy might not come...just like last time.

You see, we have a somewhat unreliable Tooth Fairy. Sometimes she shows up when expected, sometimes we have to leave her a note telling her that we do indeed have a tooth for her, sometimes we have to leave the tooth in a different spot so she can find it. If this was a paid position, she would have been fired long ago.

I assured Sassy that the Tooth Fairy would come this time and I even meant to set an alarm so I could remind Miss Fairy but of course, I forgot. Luckily, I check on the kids every night before I go to bed. So last night at midnight as I was heading upstairs, it clicked. I called the Tooth Fairy and sent her into action.

Normally it would be as simple as finding 2 quarters but my dear daughter had a different request this time. She wanted the Tooth Fairy to bring her "some little things instead of money". Not an unreasonable request I thought. That was before the Tooth Fairy found herself scrambling around the house trying to find some little trinkets that not only would Libby like but that she hadn't already seen. She combed through the office and craft room and then moved upstairs to the dreaded craft closet.

This closet holds treasures of all sorts, certainly something suitable could be found in here. The problem? The light in the hallway doesn't work, making it next to impossible to see inside the closet. Although, even if she could've seen inside, she knew it was a near impossible feat to even find anything in there without causing a catastrophic avalanche that would no doubt wake every person in the house.

It was with some stealthy maneuvering and not a few whispered prayers that Miss Fairy finally came up with a few baubles for Sassy. They were placed with care under her pillow and the tooth was taken away. With a sigh of relief, the Tooth Fairy climbed into bed at 12:35am, waiting to hear the excited sounds of Sassy discovering her treasure in the morning.

The best part? It's 10:45 in the morning right now and she hasn't even looked under her pillow. Go figure.

February 7, 2010

Finding the Rhythm

In today's sermon, it was mentioned that life has a rhythm. It's true. Life does have a rhythm. I think everything has it's own rhythm or pattern. It's the pace at which you go through life, it's the routine of how things are done. When I think about the rhythm of my life, I get exhausted. We live in such a fast paced world, everyone hustling and bustling to go there, accomplish that, get this done. When do we get a chance to slow the pace and appreciate what's around us?

A rhythm is steady, it's constant. It brings to mind a metronome. A metronome is a devise used by some musicians. It's purpose, according to Wikipedia, is to set a consistent tempo. This gives the musicians a guide, a lead, a rhythm to hold to. By listening to the steady ticking of the metronome, a musician can stay on beat, match the rhythm and compose a soaring piece of music.

Wouldn't it be great if we had such a thing for our own lives? Something that set the pace for us? Instead, we feel like we're running three beats behind. It's like following someone's footsteps who has a longer stride than you do. At some point, you're going to have to double your steps in order to keep up. That's where we spend most of our life, running double time.

Somewhere along the line, we've stopped listening to our metronome. We can no longer hear the steady, consistent beat that's been set for us. God has set that tempo. He has given us a beat, a pattern to follow, a rhythm to march to. His rhythm isn't rushed, it isn't forced, it never makes us quicken our steps in order to catch up.

It's time to clear out all the background noise, to put away all the other devices we've been setting our rhythm by. Clear the way to make a space for the metronome. The pendulum has never stopped swinging, it's an unending beat, an unwavering rhythm.

Listen for it.

Listen. Find God's voice, His rhythm. Then match your life to it. Fall in line with that tempo until the steady ticking can be heard in every room of your life. Use it, build on it. Compose a masterpiece to that constant, beautiful, rich tempo. Set your life by that holy rhythm.

February 4, 2010

Dress Rehearsal

When I was looking to change my blog page, I came up with a great title--"Dress Rehearsal". Unfortunately it was already taken, but I thought I would share with you what it was going to say.

Someday the lights will dim, the curtains will go up and it will be my turn. I will be on centerstage in front of an audience of one. The One. The only one that really matters. In the meantime, I will make mistakes, I will flub my lines, I will fail to hit my mark. But none of that matters because it's only Dress Rehearsal.