Tuesday, January 31, 2012

like a child

My life is crazy but I can honestly say I prayed for this for so long that I'm eating it up. I'm not sure why Phoebe has no pants or why Lucy is wearing a wife beater, or for that matter, why Asher looks like he's trying to imitate John Lennon in that creepy Lennon/Yoko Ono picture on the cover of Vanity Fair:

When considering a foster placement we ask our children what they think. This time both kids say, unequivocally, "Yes".

Asher is praying very hard for a little foster brother to share his room with. Man, I love that kid's heart. He can really drive me batty but, oh, that soft, moldable heart:

today we were out on the swingset and he said to me, "Mama, we ask God for what we want, right?"

"Yes, Ashy."

"Well, I will ask for my foster brother in my room.I really liked sharing my room with Baby Man."

"Ok, honey, but sometimes God says 'yes', sometimes he says, 'no', and sometimes He says, 'wait'. And it's always for our good."

Ok, Mom. But sometimes He DOES say, "OK, just OK, right?"


"Well I'm praying for that. That he'll say OK."

and there he goes, confident as ever, swinging away on his swing, enjoying the breeze that God obviously sent for his enjoyment, sucking on his Star Wars yogurt tube.

I heart that kid.


We've been alerted about a possible placement. His name is Finn.

Pray for Finn. Pray for his little heart, for his sweet little temperament, for HIM.

We'll know more shortly...but if you're the praying type, pray for Finn.

Monday, January 30, 2012

there I go again

Do you ever get the distinct impression that you're just dealing with the same old feelings, disguised as something else?

I'd been doing so well adjusting to how things are, to how life is now, when a Facebook status update stole my breath right out of my chest.

I hate this. I hate feeling like I'm back at square one when I have felt like I've made so much progress in the grief, loss, sadness realm.


I'm sure Sara Groves has written a song about this, and I'm sure there I'll be, furiously doing some art project I've discovered on Pinterest, busying my hands so my mind won't do so much heavy lifting.

The hands free the heart.

Did you know that?

Get them busy and you get some relief.

Watermelon pink paint,

here I come.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Where did my inner adventurer go?

Phoebe and I are in Minneapolis right now with my parents. We are heading to Fargo for a funeral and my dad is shopping at about 10 Macy's department stores along the way for Ralph Lauren products to buy that my brothers can sell in Japan. My parents are 66 and 68 and they have about quadruple the energy I have!

It was somewhere between sitting in a vacant parking lot at 11 pm trying to figure out the GPS and trying to keep Phoebe calm at dinner before that when I realized that I am a TOTAL HOME BODY.

I always have liked to think of myself as some sort of renegade adventurer, but the truth is this: I AM SOFT.

I called Scott last night and he was sitting in his easy chair watching "Burn Notice". I was a little jealous.

I bet the house was pretty durn clean, as I was not there.

Anyway, growing up as the youngest of four kids, we always flew by the seat of our pants. My parents would decide, on a Wednesday, to go on a two week trip on a Saturday. Off we would go! We never really had schedules and our gigantic rambling house on a hill was always the place that our friends wanted to come because there was always something going on, and always delicious food cooking.

I was quite popular with my friends in high school for one reason. Well, 3 reasons, to be exact: Nathan, Daniel, and Michael, my sweet and adorable older brothers (I'm not being sarcastic - they were and still are both). It was a one-stop cute boy viewing shop for my friends!

I ate my weight in Thai food last night. Now I am feeling guilty about it. What is it with us women and our weight? Scott tells me he likes curves, but I still obsess about weight.

Why must we torture ourselves, ladies?


I bought 10 pair of underwear for $7 at Charlotte Russe. Or was it 7 pair for $10?

Either way, that's the extent of my fashion gluttony.

Shout out to Rebecca for taking Lucy after school and being party to my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants ways. Scott went to pick Lu up and Rebecca and her family weren't there. I was arguing with Scott over whether or not Rebecca's house was white or green, and whether he was at the right house.

Rebecca, it's friends like you that allow my jet-setting ways. You take wonderful care of my daughter and take her out to eat for french fries and then come home and make macrame kitchen bowls out of nothing but hemp. I love your crafty ways.

Shame on you for enabling my behavior!

And shame on the rest of you for reading this far! Shouldn't you be doing laundry or something?

We got a call for a 3 and 4 year old sibling set the other day. I said "no".

I can't imagine going to endless shopping malls with a baby and two foster children in tow...unless...

Rebecca, are you available?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is it wrong to pray very, very specifically?

I just got off the phone with Baby Man's foster mama, the girl I hit it off with right from the beginning.

I learned some new details of Baby Man's case which, of course, I can't disclose, but I am wondering:

Is it biblical to pray that if his biological parents' home is not the best place for him to be, for various reasons, that God allow Him to stay where he is?

And if it's ok, would you commit to praying that prayer with me for the next 30 days? 30 days is important.

Please comment that you will commit to praying at a certain time each day for Baby Man's future. Please only say you will if you really will.

He was my son once upon a time, and I'm longing so much for him to be my friend's FOREVER son.

Friday, January 20, 2012

excuse me, ma'am, your bitchiness is showing...

I was planning to run into Wal-Mart with a return this morning.

Asher and I have a constant battle regarding his pumpkin-orange winter coat. The boy is as stubborn as Justin Bieber is adorable, and I had in my head a fool-proof little plan to remind him of the consequences of trying to brave a cold, cold day without a coat on.

You see, he thinks that wearing it is optional. I told him a few days ago that whenever he gets out of the car, it's his responsibility to have it on. He likes to take it off when he gets in his car seat. That's fine, but he really needs to have it back on when we leave the car.

Today I locked the car and then saw him without his coat on. I have had this conversation with him 847 times. I am so DONE with this particular conversation.

"Asher, put your coat on, please."


"All right. I think you've made your choice. Let's go."

He was all machismo and big muscles going into the store, but the bravery quickly dissolved into a puddle on the way back to the van.

"Mama! I'm cold!"

"Asher, why do you think you're cold?"

"Because you didn't put my coat on me!"

"No, I told you the coat was your responsibility. You need to keep your coat on."

At this point Asher is standing in the middle of the parking lot right next to me. If I could have framed his face for all posterity, I would have. There he stood, looking up at me, all at once a little dude in need of protection once again. "Maaaaaaaamaaaaaaaaa! It's too cold! I can't walk!"

I continue to walk, and out of the corner of my eye there is a lady (seriously, do these witchy ladies belong to a coven who's key end is to torture me?) mumbling something. I think she's talking to herself as she tries to locate her keys. I realize she's talking to herself about me when we lock eyes and she mumbles something again. She shakes her head twice, hard, and continues to mumble.

"Ma'am? Is there a reason you're shaking your head at me?"

She just looks at me, stunned, I guess, that she's been confronted, and says nothing. She stares at her keys...1, 2, 3 seconds. Then, our eyes meet again and she says, in a very condescending and nasty tone, "You need to put a coat on your son!"

I looked back at her and realized, in that moment, that every time I have ever judged another person it was for my gain, not theirs. Let's face it: passing judgement on another person only serves our own ego. The only judgement that is acceptable is judgement that comes paired with an offer of help.

This was so eye-opening to me. This lady thought she was helping, but all she was really doing was making me feel small and, well, judged. The situation wasn't what it appeared to be.

"Oh! Well in that case, thank you for your judgement!"

Stunned, again, she just looked at me, huffed once, and jumped into her golden minivan with the "GRMA4" license plate.

I was thinking about how, if a person were truly concerned about the welfare of a child out in the cold, that person could say, "Hi! Would you mind if I bought your son a coat in the store? I've got some extra cash this week and I'd like to help."

What kind of world would it be, then?

It gave me pause as I backed my minivan out of its space, and Asher, chilled to the bone, shrugged into his little orange cocoon once again.

What kind of world would it be?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

in the grip of grace

I am 32 years old and I have been a Christian since I was in the third grade (that's when I remember consiously making the choice, at least. A guy at the camp I was at asked, "Where would you go if you died tonight?" Aghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wanted to go to heaven.)

I feel like I'm just stepping into the full realization of God's grace for me, and what it means for day-to-day living. Accepting grace is HARD for me, really really hard. I want to "do" to gain approval. I want people to notice how great a person I am. I want people to notice what a great mom I am. I want people to say, "That Rachel, she's such a great writer." "That Rachel, she's such a great friend." "That Rachel, no one can hold a candle to her mad mothering skillz!"

Enter screeching record.

I've always heard that the grace of God will cover me, but I've always thought that I had to DO something to earn it. It still blows my mind that I don't.

I see my people-pleasing behaviors in all areas of my life. Last night Asher said to me, "Why did you talk to me so mean?" We had a horrible time getting him to bed, and I had to be very stern with him. I was thinking later, wondering if I really DID sound mean, or if I just sounded stern. I'm thinking I sounded stern, and he's used to the Mama who always gives in when he asks to stay up "just five more minutes".

My kids have me figured out. Already, they can use my people-pleasing personality to their advantage. Don't worry, we don't need to clean our rooms! Mommy will do it! And then I end up frustrated and upset.

Grace means that God will stand in the gap where I fail. I get so exhausted thinking about the world my kids are living in. The world wants them to be and do so much that is different from what God wants for them. I worry and fret about it instead of taking it to the Lord in prayer, as the old hymn states.

My friend Jess sent me the most amazing book in the mail about a year ago. I had been praying for the last few weeks that God would give me "signs" (ah, the old lazy prayer of the struggling Christian), that he'd lead me in the direction he wants my heart to go. I've felt thirsty and dry lately.

I was cleaning out a "junk" drawer and found the book, just itching to be read. It's a book written by a priest who spent 15 years in a hard labor camp in Communist Russia, simply because he was a priest. The title? "He Leadeth Me", and it's by Walter J. Ciszek.

I've been struggling with what God's will for me looks like, on a day-to-day basis. I want His will for me to be something big and grand. I'm realizing that God's will for us is what we're experiencing, right now, this day, this moment.

God's will for me today is for me to be fully present for all people I come into contact with today. His will is for me to clean up the kitchen, do some more laundry, make a noon sandwich for myself, and clean the dandruff out of Phoebe's hair. It's not rocket science and it's not exciting, but I want to be in the center of it, because it's His will for me.

from p. 137:
It's easy to lose sight of the vision (to build up the Kingdom of God on earth), to become discouraged, to feel helpless and useless as Christians in the drab lives we led and the conditions under which we tried to work. But whoever has an easy life? The vision of the kingdom, the call of CHrist to labor and suffer with him, had overtones of a great and noble crusade - yet we must each of us translate that vision and retain that spirit in the routine, humdrum events of every day, even days in a prison camp.

It would be easy, we think to ourselves, to be constantly on fire with that vision if we could be a Francis Xavier or a Richard the Lion-Hearted, converting the Indies or scaling the walls of Jerusalem, sword in hand, caught up in the tumult of battle to win some great victory.

We forget that Xavier, too, lived one day at a time, frustrated and perhaps discouraged, each twenty-four hours filled with as many defeats and frustrations as victories, each hour made up of sixty minutes of humdrum things and little people busy and concerned about many other things, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. As he went about trying to preach the gospel, how often must Xavier have wondered whether it would ever be possibly to reach the millions of people around him? How often must he have felt discouraged at the individuals he met each day who failed to respond to his preaching? How often must he have despaired of the evil in the world around him, or felt helpless in the face of it?

God's will for me is this day, this minute, this moment. It's not always exciting, and I will fail miserably sometimes as a mother and wife, and other times I'll think I'm doing the best job ever.

This is a rambling post, and I don't even know what I'm trying to say. I guess I'm trying to "work out my salvation", and if it helps someone else struggling along, too, then it was worth writing in a public forum.

As an aside, my living room actually CAN be clean! Look, look, before it's gone:
Just don't open up the front hall closet, or you will be buried in the deluge of junk that rolls out and never be heard from again...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

hang me out to dry

I have been struggling with guilt in alot of areas and recently had a breakthrough. Guilt is another form of pride!

I am basically saying that only *I* can be everything to my friends, to my kids, to Scott, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Sort of pathetic and weird.

I recently told a friend, "I will not feel guilty any more! This is my New Year's Resolution!" and she responded, "You will fail."

Actually, what she said was alot nicer than that, and it was about 3 pages long.

Basically, the crux of it is that I *will* fail, if I'm depending on my own strength to do anything.

We've had six calls for foster care and I've said no to every one. Strangely, I haven't felt guilty about that.

Anyway, here's an emails I sent out to some friend today. You'll get a kick out of it.

I am sitting at my desk in our living room, looking at a picture of the kids and their cousins taken about 3 years ago... the picture is adorable and sweet and makes me think, "Oh, I miss when they were that little!"

...and then I remember that day. Asher was throwing tantrums all. day.

Days like these are easily forgotten, aren't they. 

Anyway, enjoy the email. I sure enjoyed writing it:

let's see. i went to wal-mart, the bane of my existence, to get "just a few
things". of course asher didn't have his coat on as we were getting out of
the car and so i told him to put it back on, then feebee started screaming
and literally had a snot bubble 2 inches wide coming out of her nose. it
really was lovely. asher chose that moment to decide he had to poop, so
into the walmart bathroom we went. i was expecting one of us to contract
a VD. anyway, he's screaming "i can't go potty on that thing!"
(toilet paper cover on the toilet), so i tried to explain to him that his
pee would make the center part go down, and then he yelled it really loud so
everyone would know. the people at the pharmacy were amused.

then there was this lady buying horrible 3.2 beer, and she was angry my cart
was in her way. i was getting the stuff for sausage casserole i am making (haha sausage)
and this  little asian woman was parked in the middle of the shopping aisle...this is
when my nose started running like a faucet and I had NOTHING TO WIPE MY NOSE
ON, not even a baby wipe. it was terribly classy. i'm sure you are wishing
you were there. i was sniffling all over the place. then, this 7 foot tall
man was trying to get past us and asher wouldn't move. (an aside: he is
eating Little Debbie heart cakes and claiming they are his lunch - he might
be on to something there)

i actually had to rip into the kleenex box at the checkout line before
payment was complete because the lady ahead of me had apparently never
shopped at a grocery store before. the lady behind me was trying to "shush"
fee-bee which made her cry harder.

i picked her up and she stopped and the lady said, "oh, so she's all bark, huh!"
and I said, "Yes!"

the majority of my coupons were expired, and the checker kept shaking her head and sighing when
she hit an expired one.

it was like a game show, only i was the loser.

Monday, January 16, 2012


thank you, Aunt Sara, for capturing the moment so perfectly!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Do you remember when you would be babysitting and the kids were going crazy and you would think, "Only so many more minutes until their parents get home!"? Sometimes parenting feels like that, except that no one is arriving to relieve you.

Monday, January 9, 2012

to be old

Sometimes I wonder what it'll be like to be old.

I know I'm not the only one. I listen to older women talking about the middle of the stomach sag, the battle of the bulge, the struggle to make the boobs attractive to the man they've been married to since 1952.

I see sunlight hit my childrens' faces and I think to myself, "They see me as 'old'." Maybe not "Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas" old, but old nonetheless.

What am I telling my children about age?

How do the wrinkles that are appearing on the skin of my hands tell a story?

Who am I becoming?

These are all thoughts to ponder, especially as they pertain to a glass of wine at 4:20 in the afternoon.

Right now I rest in the homey cocoon of my three children who are all very much at tender little ages and needing me, and a husband who depends on me the same.

Growing old scares me; the vulnerability found now in the midnight hours, the vulnerability that is only "someday" will be the "now here", at a certain point.

I think the thing that keeps me up most at night is this singular thought: "Will I have done the things I wanted to do? Will I have been the things I wanted to be?"

I don't want to be doing something wrong and realize it when the respirator is sighing its last and I have no more breath to tell. I fear most the panic of realizing a thing wrongly-done and no more energy to make it right.

I suppose therein lies the rub; we only recognize a youthful dalliance as being superfluous in hindsight.

Afterall, maybe that's the folly, the only glory,

of youth.

Friday, January 6, 2012

can I buy a consonant

I was standing in my friend Rachel's entryway tweezing my eyebrows in front of her hallway mirror while she sat on the couch. Ash walked up to me and said, "Look, Mama! I made my name out of cookies!"

Like any good mothers, we had to hold his arm steady while we took a photograph to document. This is what he proudly displayed:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I've been thinking alot about temperament as it relates to baby/child-rearing.

Phoebe's love language is definitely touch. It's not good enough in her little mind to be right next to you, she needs to be ON you.

You might say that every baby is this way, by very nature, but I would disagree. I could lay Lucy or Asher or Baby Man down anywhere and they'd generally fall right to sleep (after roughly 7 minutes of "cry it out"). I've been told more than once that I've had three very easy babies in a row.

I think I have.

I'm not saying that Phoebe is hard. I'm just saying that she's different! I think it was J.J. who commented that one of her sons just came out different than her other two. He just needed her more; needed to be closer, etc., and she adapted to that. That really clicked with me, as I see it with Fifi.

From the minute she was born she was taking everything in. Looking around, taking stock. I remember my mom saying that day, "It's like she wants to involve herself in everything, right from the start!"

It's so true. She does, and she doesn't want to mess with pesky sleep. I mean, who needs sleep, when there are things to giggle at and mothers to barf on?

It's all clicking. To her, sleeping next to me is a definite comfort. My other kids didn't really care one way or another.

You gals are right. If it works for us, we should keep doing it. I'm not going to regret snuggling her extra bits, am I now.

She's worth it:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The offender

Fi doing what she usually never does. She even looks slightly angry doing it!

cry it out versus not

I am opening up a can of worms here. Yay! Let the can-opening begin in honour of the new year. I spelled honour that way for my British friend Lucy, who is probably one of the few people that still read this blog. Oh, and Cole. I dreamt we went to California and got robbed at gunpoint. What do you think of the beach now???

Anyway, Fifi is 5 months old and well, as Scott puts it, a tad bit spoiled.

The facts:
She cries if she is not being held.
She cries the minute you put her down.
We are not used to this. Lucy, Asher, and Baby man would all sit there and look at us as babies (no, they wouldn't look at us while WE were babies, but THEY were the babies.)
Not Fifi.
While awake, the girl wants to be next to my bo*ob.
End of story.

She has been sleeping with us and I know right now there are people gasping in horror.
I have been unsuccessfully trying "Cry it out".
There, now the other half of you are gasping,


Scott has been keeping a tally. The current score chart is:
Fifi: 157
Rachel: 1

She cried for 35 minutes tonight and I rewarded her by picking her up.

I think she's more spoiled because she's my last.

Any thoughts? Comments? Public humiliation for letting her sleep with us or letting her cry it out? Both?

Advice welcome - I'm going to regret this.