Thursday, July 31, 2008

the front of my house is painted

I am insane.

I have loved the color green on a house a few streets over from mine. I stopped there, knocked on the door and asked the man who lives there what the color is called.

The entire front of my house is now painted green, and I am tired. Lucy and the neighbor girls played while I painted. Fun summer memory!

Pictures in the morning!

help me pick my house color

Last time I picked my own house color it looked like the angels were eating butterscotch pudding and they vomited their stomach contents, all over my house. Word on the street is that one neighbor asked another neighbor, "How are the people in the butterscotch house?" Ah, my life's aspiration - to be those people. Now I am the stalker who wants to use reverse phone number lookup and call people with house colors that I like.
Scott asked if a bird pooped on our house or if that was an actual color.

So, what color? What color do we paint it?

Green? Gray? Yellow?
I've been so industrious lately, especially the past few days.

Here is my new shelf from Ebay. Like Lucy's canvas art? Thanks, Tam, for doing that with her. I tell you, I have the best cousins in the world:

Here are the kitchen cabinets (Mom and Dad, you rock. Thank you for the hours spent, making them look like a professional was in my kitchen.) Guys, notice the awesome vintage photo I picked up from my grandma. It's 60 years mom's family. Isn't it great? I LOVE the new look.

A post about my cousins coming, my new hair color, and also a video of our NEW LITTLE WALKER! It only took him 18 months and one week! And people at stores talk to him, expecting to get a response. He just says, "duh".
That's my man - my remedial little man.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I don't get people. People annoy me. I love them. I hate them. When I try to figure them out, the understanding I think I've garnered wriggles from my grasp like a giddy minnow and I am left wondering again.

I hope I'm not sounding like a serial killer. Really. But I just don't understand people.

I also hate conflict. I HATE conflict. I HATE CONFLICT. I confronted a friend the other day and it didn't end well. It ended horribly, in fact. And now it's hanging over my head and I hate it. And now I'm wondering how to right what I wronged, or IF I need to right anything I did wrong. I've already apologized for my part, but it doesn't seem enough.

Is this the lot that was cast for me, the one where I always feel guilty though the guilt needn't rest on me? The one that dictates that I must be the peacemaker and apologize even for things I didn't do?

I can't control what another human being thinks or feels about me.

I can't control what another human being thinks or feels about me.

And this, this shall be my new mantra.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I am very frustrated today, and the root is this.

If you haven't checked that site out, do. It's PHENOMENALLY funny. It will have you spitting out your Rum and Coke into the keyboard.

So, is this a problem at your church, within your circle of friends? It's a very easy way to gossip. If you say, "Oh, I don't mean to gossip, but I really am concerned about Bobby's drinking habit - did you know his wife kicked him out?", then no one will really think you are gossiping, they will think you are concerned.

Trust me, I have done this, and I know others do this. It's just that when you have the guts to stop it and say

"Don't say that about her, she's my friend!"


"Stop being a busybody!"

it's not real popular.

At all.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I hope you know.

The house is quiet and I think I'm the only one awake.

Sights, sounds, smells, lights. Things come back to us when we mostly think they won't, when we think we've tied up the ends of the handkerchief neatly, placed in it what we want to forget, and let the entire package meander down the river.

But then we see the red and the whites of the little parcel floating bravely by itself, the ends of the knots we've carefully tied starting to bow under the weight of the water and it is hard for us to breathe because that's it, our dream. "STOP! STOP! Don't leave me! Please don't go! I'm not ready to let go!"

Oh, the thing we wanted so badly and the thing that is leaving us for good.

Tonight, as I sit in this little living room, I smell the same smell I smelled almost 4 years ago when we learned there were two. Street lights slanted into the windows as they do tonight, the wood floors smelled of promise and my heart was impossibly light.


Many times I've simply not written things because, after all, who wants to read about loss over and over again?

It's so intrinsically a part of me, trying to peel loss and joy apart is peeling muscle from bone. Apart, they are nothing. Together they are majesty.

And so here I sit, consumed with thoughts of what he would have been like. What they, together would have been like.

And then I recognize it for what it is, a bitter root that chokes out the soil of my heart and leaves me breathless and reeking a bit of desperation.

"I wanted you so badly. I would have loved you the way I love her. I hope you know."

Do you? Do you know how much I wanted both of you? Even though I said I could never handle two at once?

The seasons come and they go, and for me, at least, as I hear the autumn rumbling in the distance, I panic a little. I want to remember, I want to forget.

But I never, ever will.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

life with OCD

The only time I can turn it off is when my eyes close. The reel doesn't play and I find peace. When sunlight slants its way into my window and my mind throws off the shadows of sleep, it returns.

"He's going to be dead when you walk into his room. He's going to be dead." I walk into his room anyway, shrugging off the thought that haunts me. He greets me on tip-toe with kisses and slobber. "What if one of them dies today? What would he look like in his casket?"

I switch on the kitchen light, hoping the thoughts will escape me like cockroaches scattering from sun. Lucy asks for Cheerios and I oblige, but not before I flip the light switch once, then twice. It assuages the anxiety for a moment. A mere moment.

I have dealt with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder since I was 7 years old. I distinctly remember my parents leaving for a date, sobbing into the babysitter's arm that they were FOR SURE going to die in a car crash because I had not used my fork 6 times, only 5. And the misuse of the fork meant doom for them.

I struggled with panic attacks, anxiety, restlessness until I was 15 and I was properly diagnosed. My psychiatrist looked like Santa Claus and he knew what he was doing. I adored him for both qualities, and because I finally felt like myself. I could breathe again. Danger wasn't lurking around every corner. Worry and ritual were still there, but the rational part of my brain was able to take over when they threatened. I could ward the thoughts off.

My pregnancy with my second child was hard. Very hard. I was 100% convinced he would die before he was born. I KNEW it. It was fact. I spent the days counting silverware in the drawer, making sure it was even. Restless nights pacing in the hall, making sure the door knob was touched an odd number of times. Repeating words and phrases in my head. Re-reading anything I had read, twice, to make it feel even. Anything that produced anxiety in me was a sign he was going to die. Later I was informed that pregnancy only serves to make my OCD worse (duh, right?). The day the decision was made was a day I was afraid I wouldn't be ok if I had to be pregnant another day. I was having irrational, dangerous thoughts and I wasn't myself. It took a premature caesarian birth to take the anxiety away - my son spent 9 days in the NICU because of the choice made on my behalf. 

The only way I can explain OCD to someone who has never experienced it is this: Imagine that you have an itch, an itch you have been told not to scratch. The itch becomes worse and worse, almost unbearable. You still must not scratch. The longer you wait to scratch, the more unbearable it becomes. So you scratch, and relief floods you. Little do you know that the more you scratch, the more frequent the itches become.

This summer I've felt it heavily. A darkness pressing in. For some reason it has come back, full gale. I find myself pulling away from social interaction and imagining scenarios in which some member of my family dies tragically. And, of course, I would be responsible because I did not perform this or that ritual. Let me be clear. Logically, I KNOW none of this can be true. But again, when the itch arises, it begs to be scratched. And for me, continual scratching brings more pain, and isolation, and I shiver in a cell created by mental illness.

In the mind of a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the worst is not a possibility, it is an eventuality. The "fight or flight" response in a person with OCD is heightened. You might have heard that putting a baby on his back decreases the risk for SIDS. An example: you put your baby on his back and go about your day. I put my baby on his back and purchase an apnea monitor. I also spend up to 4 hours a day looking up statistics and facts on SIDS, hoping to protect myself. Hoping to protect my son.

Below, on the left, is an image of a person with normal brain function. The right is an image of a person with OCD. The red indicates energy produced by different areas of the brain:

OCD makes me tired. I have been so tired lately. Tired of worrying, tired of facing the possibilities of all of the bad things that could happen. You see, that's the only way to be well - to face the possibilities head-on and realize you could get through them, that the thing you so fear is built up in your mind so big that your imagination of the event you fear becomes a monster all its own. And rationally, I know I am strong. I know I have handled the birth of a special needs child and all that has and will continue to entail. I have handled living with depression for 22 years. I know I am strong. I spring to action when I have to. Sometimes, though, it's just lonely. It's lonely feeling like this and being pretty sure you're the only one who struggles with it. I was chatting with my mom recently and she was telling me that it's so hard to see me struggle like this. That makes me want to cry.

I fight these thoughts all the time I am awake. I remember a time in high school when I thought death would be better than having to fight the sadness, all the time. I was tired.

Hell, I am tired.

What does the John Mayer song say? "Keep me where the light is." And that's where I've got to stay. There's a reason I struggle with this, I know there is. I have to believe there is.

And while I'm believing, I'll keep crawling toward the light.


Can you find me?

Monday, July 21, 2008

what they don't tell you...

It will take them approximately 3 minutes to mess up what it took you 2 hours to clean.

You come to expect the bathroom faucet on, Dora dejectedly sitting at the bottom of the sink covered head-to-toe in soap.

Their food ruins your diet plan. Your food ruins theirs.

They are watching as you cut a popsicle in half for them, cut your finger, and minutes later squeal as you forgot about the wound and the salt from the Goldfish touches it.

Every day at 2 pm is the naptime war. Victory is not easy.

Don't plan on actually sitting down during meal times. Someone has always misplaced a fork, dropped a grape, or vomited in their food.

You consider "me time" 20 minutes at Target, alone, buying toilet paper and condoms. You are quite gleeful as you present the coupons to the register attendant and then think, "Has my life come to this? Really?"

You're pretty sure you're doing everything wrong with your children, and you're also pretty sure every one of your friends is doing everything right with theirs.

You are actually afraid to post this, because you think people might think your kids are brats. You feel the need to defend them, then you realize "Hey, they're kids."

The last time you had - eh - marital relations, you had to barricade the door with the laundry hamper. This will not deter a 3-year-old.

4 pm - 5 pm is stay-at-home mom hell. the bewitching hour.

Your husband will come home and ask what you've done all day. You know he doesn't believe you when you tell him you've been busy.

You sometimes get so annoyed with them you're pretty sure you could recreate a scene from "the exorcist". Hey, forget the makeup artist, because your 3 year old just used your new Clinique makeup on herself. (And it looks better on her than it does on you.)

You wonder if the machine got stuck when your preschooler was being filled with the bottle marked "Sass" at the factory. That would explain a LOT.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I don't like you.

My first year of teaching was hell. I hated it. I hated the woman I worked with. She did everything possible to make every minute of the experience difficult. I was a special education teacher, so I was required to work with her 4 hours out of the 6 hour day, in something called "CWC" - class within a class. The idea of Class Within a Class is that the special education teacher works hand in hand with the regular classroom teacher in order to have the special education kids be able to be in a regular class. I was supposed to help the students with their note-taking, study skills, test studying, etc., etc.

The teacher I worked with obviously, from the very beginning, did NOT want a special education teacher in her class. I soon learned that a special education teacher had left this school every year for the last 3 years. At first, in all my new teacher glory, I wondered why this was so. It didn't take me but 2 days in Shandley's lair to realize why they had left. I call her Shandley, to protect the innocent.

This woman was a person who would be kind to your face and the minute you were out of the room, stick a rusty campfire tong in your back. I heard her do it to me at least 10 times during the course of the school year. She told the guidance counselor that she was upset that I was not helping my students during the time that she was teaching. The guidance counselor told me this. So I told Shandley that we had had a misunderstanding, and I would be more than happy to walk around and help the kids while she was teaching. I just didn't want to disrupt her teaching time. She said that was fine.

So I did this. And about two weeks later I found out she was upset because I was distracting the kids. Again, all of this I hear through the grapevine. And I continued to offer her peace branches, and she continued to bite my hand off like the rabid bulldog that she was. Can I tell you that I was never happier than the last day at that crummy, crummy job?

This woman loved to see me squirm. For whatever reason, she hated me. During our planning times every day, she would specifically pinpoint my friends, the other teachers in the building, and talk about them. She encouraged me to join in. It felt, um, icky. And she got upset when I wouldn't play that game. And I grew an intense dislike for her, as well. I grew to detest being in the same room as she was. I detested her fakey manner. I wanted to shout to everyone who thought she liked them, "She doesn't really like you! She's going to talk about your Wal-Mart shirt or your bad teeth or your funky-looking necklace the MINUTE you're gone! Run! Run for your ever-loving life!"

Everything I said in the planning meeting was under her scrutiny, everything I wore was not good enough for her eyes, I would hear her be SOOO over the top nice to me and then a conniving weavil to me when I was not around. And still, I tried to be nice to her. And still, it didn't work. I wanted to turn the other cheek. And I did, over and over again. Now I realize that turning the other cheek is not the same as offering it, and allowing someone to degrade you to the point that you are in tears every night of your first year of teaching is not something that even Jesus would have done. There was no point to it. (And I wonder if Jesus would have joined the NEA, but that's another conversation entirely.)

Of course, 6 years out, I realize that with some people you just have to realize that they have their limitations, and you are never going to get them to like you. And that may be the exact reason they DON'T like you -because you are so busy being the beaten puppy, wanting everyone's approval. Anyway, you have to realize they have their limitations, and not throw yourself under the bus over and over and over and over again. I had 9 billion track marks on my forehead by the time May 15, 2003 rolled around.

Anyway, fast forward to two days ago when my cousin and I met at a kids' restaurant. We were minding our own business, when in saunters Shandley (who lives 35 minutes away from this restaurant, and we are in a city of 1 million, so that's a story in itself). CRAP. I was hoping to have a great time chatting up my cousin and watching the kids play, and now I had to either avoid this woman like the Bubonic or pretend I like her, "Oh, how have you been? How has the school year been? Oh, have you murdered any other special education teachers in cold blood?'

Agh, what to do. Well, it was obvious Shandley had seen me, and I couldn't help but know she was there, as she is a LOUD talker. I mean, LOOOOOUD. You know she's in the room. You can't help but hear every stinking last bit of the HIIIIIIIILARIOUS story of what her dog had for breakfast 3 weeks before.

We were eating our pizza, and suddenly Shandley, in the booth behind us, turns around and asks, "Hi, do either of you two know where a Babies 'R Us is?"

First of all, Shandley does not have anything in her possession that would qualify as a baby. Secondly, she has lived in this area 30 years longer than I have. Thirdly, the only reason she asked for a Babies 'R Us is because she was practically leaning over the divider, listening to my cousin and I talk about her pregnancy and pregnancy in general.

I just looked at her and told her I wasn't sure, and then added there might be a new one some way away. She continued to look at me sort of expectantly, and I just continued to eat my pizza.

The entire rest of the time we were there (2 hours or so), I relaxed more and more as I pretended I had no clue who she was. Lucy pretended to be videotaped by the big mouse in the ugly costume, Asher rubbed his sucker on the dirty, dirty floor and then licked it. I could feel her beady eyes on me many times, and even looked at her and smiled.

Do you know how good that felt, to not have to pretend I felt something I didn't feel? To not have to be fake and nice and all of that crap when I didn't want to put forth the effort?

I am trying to live my life in such a way that what you see of me is real, even if you don't like it. And if you are a very mean person and I don't like you, I don't like you. And that's ok. Even if your bad hair cut and beady eyes are boring into my backside and I can hear the whispers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

18 months

Dear Asher,

I think the part of the day I love most is the early morning. I love it because that is when I hear you, your voice still hoarse from 11 hours of sleep. It starts a chant, a robotic drone: "mama! Ma Ma! MA MA!" You hold yourself up on expectant tiptoes, trusting that I will pick you up and smooth my hand over your curls just as I have done every morning since you were born.

Trust. That's what this relationship is all about, isn't it? In my own struggle to find the truth behind my ideas of God I often come up short, and frustrated. And I ask Him to show me Himself. I believe He used you, son, to show me a part of Him last Friday. We were at a friend's house swimming. You were standing on the edge of the pool, and I petitioned you to jump into my arms. At first you were skeptical, looking at me with a shy smile and something that looked like fear lurking below the veneer.

I didn't think there was a chance you would ever jump, but that must just mean I don't know you as well as I think I do. Your eyes widened, you stood up straight, and then you fell. Hands stretcched in expectation to the sky, you made the choice, and you fell.

How did you know I would catch you? Didn't anyone ever tell you that parents can't always be trusted, especially this one? And yet you trust, because it is in your nature. And it must be in my nature too. Oh, sweet boy. You teach me more than I knew I could learn.

You have a funny little mannerism where you hold your middle finger upright and then snap it forward. We always joke that you are making lewd gestures at us, and tonight you finally figured out that what you do with your finger is funny. It was cute. Won't be so cute, I suppose, when you're 16. "Aw, come on, Ma! I was just doing my finger trick!"

The part I love most about you is your soft and sweet, little boy heart. You get your feelings hurt easily and don't want us to make too much of a fuss when you accomplish something grand. You pull your lips together in a bashful smile when you see that you, instead of Sissy, are the center of attention.

You are 18 months old and still have not walked, but I believe you will do things on your own terms. You hate your bath time, adore early morning walks, and detest bananas. You have a firm belief in the dogma that a nursing session can cure all ills, and you practice what you preach. Your hands have always been bigger than they should be for your little body, and whenever you smile you look like a little Snaggletooth. Your voice is low and you laugh from your belly. Everyone comments on how beautiful your hair is and you beam under the praise. Only I know how much you HATE to have it brushed!

I love you, Asher Scott. Thank you for loving me like you do, without reserve or expectation.

In this world, it's a refreshing thing to be loved like that.

- Mom

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dear Lucy

Dear Lucy,

You are 3 years and 5 months old! I can hardly believe it. I would say "Where does the time go", but it seems that you have been around for a little while. You and Brother Bear keep me very, very busy. And so, the baby book does not get a whole lot of action lately. Remember when I would lay you on that ratty old couch we had when we first brought you home and fill out every stinkin' spot in your baby book? First tooth, first smile, first sleep through the night.

And now, we have different kinds of firsts. And they don't have these sorts of firsts in the baby book. The first things you say that I have to record here because I have nowhere else to record them:

"What's that weird thing on Brother's crotch?"

watching the swimsuit competition with you during the Miss Universe pageant: "Mama, where are their clothes?" and "Her lipstick is waaaaaaaaay too bright." I think I'd better shave the unibrow and ditch the Mom jeans before you hit age six. You seem to be attuned to fashion and accessories, and you definitely know what you want to wear and what is not acceptable. I am in trouble.

We were swimming with some friends the other day and I must say, your little butt is adorable. Your tiny little butt cheeks are dead ringers for your dad's, and that makes me laugh even more. There is just something irresistible about a 3 year old girl in a ruffly swimsuit.

Uh oh, here come the waterworks. Lucy Belle, I didn't know if I would ever get to SEE you running around the pool in a swimsuit. I didn't know if I'd ever get to wake you up with kisses, or snuggle you on the couch way past your bedtime. It will be the 30th of this month that we found out you and your sibling were on their way. And so many scary things happened after that. So many things that linger in my memory, things that cause me to thank God all of the time for allowing me to watch you scamper across the newly-mown lawn as the sun sets, or listen to you scream in the middle of Target because after all, "No, you may absolutely not have 5 boxes of the Ratatouille Kleenex" was simply what you did not want to hear.

Some days I get so frustrated because you want to do positively EVERYTHING yourself. And I yelled you into bed the night before last. And then you do clever things like try to distract me when you're doing something you're not supposed to do (usually using a whole bottle of soap to wash your hands, or delighting in the fact that you cut yourself with your dad's razor and now have a legitimate excuse for the Hello Kitty Band Aids). And then you make me laugh all over again.

You said something last night that made your dad throw his head back and laugh, laugh, laugh. And now I can't even remember what it was. I just remember thinking, "I have to write that down!" You sat with us at a restaurant on Sunday, listening to our adult conversations. You had no toys, you just sat and ate your food. Some days you are such a little lady, and others you're a smelly little tyrant. But did you know I love you all of those days?

I need to catch you reading to yourself on video. The other day I overheard you talking to your dolls. You said, "No, YOUR name is Barack Obama dot com." Then everyone argued, and you threw them all on the floor. Your sense of humor is really something.

You are constantly singing this or that song about Jesus, and the tunes are surprisingly always on key. "Row row row your boat" usually turns into 5 verses of "Micah Row the boat ashore." Brother has started singing himself to sleep at night, probably because he hears you singing all day.

Today I informed you that my friend Lizzie was going to have a baby. I told you that maybe the baby would be a girl and she would wear Dora clothes. You looked at me like I had grown a 5th appendage and said, "No, Mom. Babies must wear onesies, remember? Ashy and I had to wear onesies when we were little. Those are just what babies wear!"

Duly noted.

I love being your mom. You are such a sweet, spunky little soul. Will you forgive me my parenting mistakes? If so, I'm making plans to forgive the fruit punch on the living room curtains.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

name game

I just discovered this blog via a friend. SO addicting! I wrote in a question that is featured. Read it here!

**edited to add, Moses sounds too black to me. And no, I am not a racist, but because I am Scandinavian and my husband is as well, it doesn't really fit. And Scott, if you are reading this, you KNOW we're having a third child. So just deal, ok? (You are totally laughing right now.) **smooches**

Sunday, July 6, 2008

sunday musings

These times are few and far between. The times when I get to sit on the couch and read, or sit and listen to music, or nap. I got to do all 3 this afternoon while Scott is off with Lucy and Asher is napping. I love it.

In these past weeks I have felt the silent nudging of God. At least, I hope it's God. Because if it's not, I have no idea what the hell it is, and for sure I may have to be admitted. But for now, I am believing these soul-stirrings are the work of God. If they're not, I guess I am comforted just knowing they are there. Or that I am feeling anything at all.

The crazy bit about this whole world and this whole life is that we can never be sure of anything until we die. And even then, we have a chance that we will not be sure then, either. For if nothing exists beyond this life, then we will never have known it. Things will just fade to black. And if there IS something beyond this life, then we will surely know it. So many days life is so confusing to me that I sort of just shut down my mind and back away slowly, hands rigid, fingertips floating upward in submission. The robber giving up the fight.

I so long to see the bigger picture, the work beyond the back of the tapestry. The reason why evil goes unpunished and why I was only a 4 year old child for a second, 24 for a second, why my life seems a blip on the radar screen of the Cosmos.

"I am the moon with no light of my own; you have led me to shine."

Today in church we had cheezy worship music, and it's hard for me to get over it. It feels so staged, with the red and blue lights and the seeming theatrics up there. But then I don't know their hearts any more than they know mine. And the sermon was good. It was about laying down whatever is keeping you from God. For me, it's my family. I hold them so closely to me that it is suffocating. I fight giving up my perceived control every day, moving forward through the sludge of self.

I don't know the time lapse between the miracles Jesus performs in Matthew 8, but the thing that strikes me is Jesus walking the countryside, performing miracles. And still people do not believe and thought He was a freak. It has struck me more and more, too, that Jesus was "human" as much as you and I are. I wonder if he laughed when people farted, or got zits? His existence was as "real" as mine is. Even more. Because He IS the ultimate reality, right? The existence of the Father is the stick by which all else is measured.

You know how when someone doesn't know they're cool or doesn't brag about being cool, that somehow imbues them with more coolness? Jesus just exudes this in the gospels. He does these amazing things and instead of even taking the glory for Himself, he tells those around him to worship his father in heaven instead. It's this amazing picture of humility and servitude.

We were talking at our last Truth Project study about how, on both "sides of the isle", so to speak, the Darwinist and the Christian each have this attitude of one-up-man-ship when it comes to who has the "right" answer. Using logic I know that one or the other side has to be correct. But it's so funny to me that just as the scientist claims that he is "empirically certain" that there is nothing beyond this realm of matter and "stuff", the Christian can, not even looking at any evidence before him, claim that what the scientist says is not true and that he just needs more faith. It frustrates me that Christians don't have more of a base knowledge of the world religions. I think it's also important that they know how to defend the faith, to give answer to questions that science has raised. For this reason, I am excited about doing this study.

I am boring myself, so I'll stop.

4th of July pictures to come.

Did I tell you that today I had really REALLY bad gas in the line at Big Lots? And I think the lady at the register smelled it? EMBARRASSING. Usually I can blame it on the kids.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

booster seats

I really want to get Lucy out of her 5 point harness seat and use it as a booster (it is a convertible car seat). However, I am doing some research and seeing that booster seats really aren't safe for kids until they are 5 years old. Is this news to anyone else? Why is this information not even on the government's website?

If your child is around Lucy's age, do you have them in a booster or still in a 5-point harness? Which seat do you have? Lucy currently has this, and Asher has this. I am considering buying this for both of them. It works up to 80 pounds, folds down to 7", and fits 3 across on the back seat (good for someone who abhors the thought of ever owning a mini van). A lot of money, but when you think about how much time we spend in the car, not all that much.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

parenting aint for wimps

Before I start, let me state that if you see that I do something different in my parenting than you do in yours, I am not saying that you are a bad parent. I am just trying to sort all of it out. And I love writing, so you get to read my ramblings. Aren't you a lucky duck?!

Every stage of parenting has its particular challenges, but I must say that Scott and I have felt the most challenged so far with our little 3 year old Diva. If you are a parent of adult children I am sure you are laughing. Yes, the teen years. I know. But 0 - 3 are the only ages we know so far. And 3, well, I can say this about 3. It is fun, and free-thinking, and loving, and bipolar, and determined. I was on the phone the other day with a friend who is pregnant and has a one year old, and I had just finished telling her what a good girl Lucy was. And then, Lu threw a tantrum over not being able to find the remote control. And my friend heard the whole thing. And I was terrified my friend was thinking that Lu was a brat and I, a bad parent.

I love all of these qualities in 3. I do not love the temper tantrums and anger, though I am sure they have their place in the cognitive development of the human.

I am very impressed with my chiropractor's children. Though I have only seen glimpses of their personalities and behavior, I can tell you that they seem very self-assured and kind. They seem to be sweet little girls who just adore being around their dad. I am realizing more and more that raising a kind, considerate child is not an accident. And it takes considerable work.

What do you do well in your parenting?

A friend I met today told me that she loves watching me with my kids, and that they just seem so happy and content. She has told me that she likes my parenting style. Can I tell you, it's great to get just a little bit of affirmation? When you go to bed at night and feel guilt over one thing or another you don't feel like you did right, it's SO nice to hear that you're doing things well. I was talking with Scott's stepmom yesterday over lunch, and she was telling me that she thinks we do a good job of disciplining consistently. Honestly, I feel like Scott is more consistent in his discipline than I am. But when I look at the word discipline, I see that it means, "systematic instruction given to a disciple." Nowhere do I see the word "punishment". I think of punishment, automatically, when I hear the word discipline. And I'm not sure that punishment really has a place in 95% of discipline.

Lately we've been threatening Lucy with more corporal punishment, and I feel as though it is losing its effect. I feel that it should be reserved for those instances when she is out and out disobeying us, and in doing these things she is in danger. I don't think it's appropriate for Lucy acting 3. Yes, she quits whatever she is doing, but her frustration seems to mount when the situation isn't talked out more. I know each child is so different, and Lucy's personality seems to thrive when a situation is diffused with conversation and compromise rather than through an authoritarian style of parenting. For example:

Lucy: Mama, I want milk.
Mama: Lu, you know you don't get milk at bedtime after you've brushed your teeth.
Mama: No, I said no. You may not have milk.
Lucy: 30 minute tantrum, screaming, hitting herself in the face, rolling around on the floor

no sleep for Scott and I

second scenario:

Lucy: mama, I want milk.
Mama: I know you'd like milk, but you cannot have it at bedtime after you've brushed your teeth. Would you like water, or nothing?
Lucy: I would like water in my pink cup.
Mama: Ok!

Choices. Choices are a beautiful thing. I love this age because she hasn't yet figured out that I am totally diverting her from one thing and giving her the choice between the two things she really didn't want in the first place. My dad was asking me the other day how I got her to do the things I get her to do. Choices.

I used to think that not telling a child flatly, "No" meant that I was giving up control in the parent/child relationship. But now I see that I actually have more control, instead of less, when I give her alternatives that are simultaneously acceptable to me and satisfactory to her.

Lately we've been having a mess of things with bedtime. The kids share a room, and their room is RIGHT next to ours (great for savings on the gas bill, not so great when everyone's trying to sleep). We've had the typical, "I need a drink. I need milk. I need my pull up changed. I need my teeth brushed." And on, and on, and on.

My chiropractor was saying that his girls got to listen to Adventures in Odyssey (a cute Christian radio program) at 8 pm, IF they were ready for bed by that time. There was to be no talking during the program, but they could quietly look at books as well if they wanted to. At 8:30, lights were out, no questions asked. If the girls made a fuss after the program was over and didn't want to go to bed, they'd lose their priviledge for the next night. I love this, because the show is always on at 8, so it would really give both us and Lu a reason to hurry and get ready before it came on. He also said that they never presented their girls with questions that allowed a "no" answer. That's sort of back to the choices thing.

Sometimes I feel like Scott and I are still too authoritarian on some things. When we were in North Dakota, the cousin we stayed with thought we were too hard on Lucy. I guess I just want her to be respectful of other people's property and mindful of other people's feelings, etc. See a theme here? But then sometimes kids are just kids and 3 year olds are curious.

We've implemented something today called "take one". Wherever we are, if Lucy is throwing a fit and I say "take one", she will sit down on the ground Indian style, hands in her lap, mouth closed. Then she will take one fruit snack out of a bag I always have with me, calm down, then get back up and play. Eventually you lose the fruit snack portion of it, but in the beginning it really gets the kid's attention because they know they will be rewarded with the fruit snack. Sort of like Pavlov's dog, after awhile you can lose the meat and the dog will just salivate when he hears the bell. Did I just compare her to a dog? Oh well. When I did this with my ED kids while teaching, it worked SO well. I suppose she's old enough for it now.

She and Asher have really gotten to the point where they out and out fight. Ah, siblings. Asher is a very quiet and easy child until she takes one of his toys. Then the stuck-pig screaming starts. I think both Scott and I tend more toward defending him, since we can surely empathize as fellow youngest children.

I was watching Super Nanny last night, hoping to get some ideas on the tantrum thing, and saw one part where the nanny had each child hold items that represented the various activities they were in for the week. You should have seen the load of crap each child was holding! These kids ranged in age from 4 - 10, I believe. Super Nanny Jo was talking about how parents like to schedule their children in this or that, alot of times to just get a break, but most of the time the kids just want to be home and have quality time with the family and with their parents. We're putting Lucy in ballet in the fall, but figure that's enough for a 3 year old. I never want her to feel like my expectations of her are weighing her down. At this point I feel like it should be a fun thing to do, not something she feels like she should do because I want her to or have some certain agenda for what things she will like or not like. We decided to start preschool the year she turns 4, so she'll have one good year of that before kindergarten. And honestly, I don't want to let her go yet! I am really enjoying having her home. Soon enough she will be gone all day to school and I'll long for these sweet Target-store-run times!

Lucy is a talker, just like I was. If you can talk something out she is far more receptive. She is also good at monitoring her own behavior, which is something Scott did at an early age, as well. His mom claims that when he was 5 and being naughty, she would find him in his room with his photo turned against the wall. He told her he had been naughty and couldn't bear to look at his own picture. :)

Sometimes we will find Lucy in the time out corner, and neither of us has put her there.

Anyway, in figuring more of what we want for our children, I think we definitely put them at an advantage. I am really seeing that you really have to be intentional in how you interact with them because they emulate everything that you do. Scary! But in a way, it's also wonderful - that parents have that much impact on their children.

So, what do you do well? What do you want to improve? Any things that you feel mom or dad guilt about? What are your goals for your kids? For you as a parent?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

my virg*in CVS journey

Here's the breakdown:
1 Physician's Formula mascara @ 7.99 - 7.99 instant rebate = free
1 CVS cotton swabs @ 3.19 - 2.00 instant rebate = 1.19
3 Dove Pro-Age soaps @ 3.49 = 10.47 - 3.00 instant rebate - 3.00 CVS coupon = 3.47
1 Pert Plus 2-in-1 shampoo @ 3.69 - 3.00 manufacturer coupon = 0.69
2 Stayfree Maxi pads @ 3.49 each = 6.98 - 1.50 manuf coupon - 3.49 BOGO - 1.00 rebate = .99
Bic Soleil Razor and refill @ 6.99 each = 13.98 - 6.99 BOGO = 6.99 - 4.00 coupon = 2.99 - 4.00 coupon = I made 1.01
Schlick razor and refill @ 5.99 each = 11.98 - 5.00 ECB = 6.98 - 2.00 coupon = 4.98
Playtex cup = 4.99
baby wipes = 3.29

I've discovered the joy of extra care bucks. Total? 18.59. I told my children not to tarry in getting to nap time so I could share the bounty with you!

Actual retail price is $66.56!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

you can save money at CVS

I really really really really want to tell you something funny Lucy said to me, but it is probably not blog fodder. Can I just tell you, it was REALLY funny and involved private parts? Oh my sweet jello pudding snacks, that girl can make me laugh. She's funny.

Tonight we had another truth project installment. It was really good. We talked about the different worldviews. We had a fascinating discussion. My brother went off on a tangent about Paul being more popular than Jesus in a book he read entitled, "The best 100". This poor man who is the only member of the Bible study NOT a member of my family looked slightly glazed over. If you know my brother, this does not surprise you, the tangents and all.

I really cannot stand when a person next to me is drinking something. I hate that the human throat makes that disgusting noise when it swallows. Whenever Scott is drinking something I have to hum to myself or otherwise make noise so I will not hear the drinking noise.

Why, God, why did you create the human throat to make such a disgusting noise?

Scott has almost convinced me that Asher is autistic. So last night when he was moaning to himself and rocking back and forth, I started doing the autism check list in my head (I was a special ed teacher, you know). Then he (Asher, not Scott) stuffed his hand in his mouth and expelled the most explosive diahrrea I have ever heard.

Teething: 1
Autism: 0

Ah, what else to write. Well, today I put together a really cool stepladder shelf that goes brilliantly in my living room. Blogs are extremely narcissistic, did you know that? You are reading about me talk about myself. YAWN.

Last night I made everyone sit in the car while I ran into CVS under the guise of getting Asher pain medication. What I was REALLY doing was smuggling in coupons and extra care bucks so I could make out with $47 worth of merchandise for $0.85. Yes, I actually calculated it all out. Is that sad, or is that sad?

The most grotesquely and painstakingly pathetic part is this: I was all huffy and puffy when the 107-year-old checker was taking his sweet sunshiny time, acting all "Driving Miss Daisy" with the other customers. When I finally got to the front of the line, ready to say, "Holk, could you put my items in plastic, please?" I realized I had left my wallet at my in-laws. 45 minutes away. I imagined them pilfering through my checking account and deeming my expenditures too frivolous for their son. So I had to deposit my 9 containers of Oil of Olay body wash along with my 10 boxes of Hello Kitty band-aids at the cash register. Let's just say that the CVS employees were more than slightly amused.