Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Captured

I have plenty of interesting, engaging, witty, touching things to say... but, often, someone else simply says it better.  Just as I was stressing about images of myself in a bathing suit appearing in photos from the beach-- after I suffered weeks on a miserable diet to lose only three pounds-- I read this: The Mom Stays in the Picture.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sad Trombone



Lately, it's as though my home life is a failed sitcom.

My six-year-old son somewhere, somehow picked up the "Sad Trombone" sound effect, and now has added it to the soundtrack of absolutely every situation and conversation:

"No one walked the dog yet today."  "Wah-wah-wah."
"We're having chicken lo mein for supper tonight."  "Wah-wah-wah."
"It's time to get ready for bed."  "Wah-wah-wah."

It was kind of cute the first or second time... then, it got really annoying.  I'm fixing to wah-wah-wah the boy into next week.  In light moments, I sense glimpses of "The Muppet Show" but most of the time, it reminds me more of "All in the Family"--  and I'm no Archie Bunker.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Political Prayer

Once again, I have many updates to offer-- from opening night of our local community theater musical production and my beef about how not enough people support the arts... to the fun of trick-or-treating at local businesses... to what are those bumps on Madeline's trunk?  But, at the same time, I cannot turn anywhere without talk of the upcoming election.  So, for this post, I share a couple of items I "borrowed" from other sources of wisdom:

Prayer for the Election
Lord God, as the election approaches, we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city/state/country, and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.

We ask for eyes that are free from blindness,
so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters,
one and equal in dignity,
especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.
We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned,
Men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender.
We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.
We pray for discernment,
so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word,
live your love,
and keep in the ways of your truth,
as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles
and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pile-Up

This past week, I hosted two or three meetings at our house, and that is pretty typical.  Our home layout lends itself to group gatherings.  Plus, with my children's young ages, it is sometimes easier to have people in our home, rather than find child care.  That is not to say I am a good host, or even that I enjoy it.

Without fail, during any given meeting, someone will comment on what a nice house we have, or how neat and clean it looks.  I appreciate the compliments, I really do.  But I'm always giggling to myself, too.

First of all, my kids are getting old enough to pick up after themselves, and I always enlist their help in the hour before any assembly.  Next, my mother cannot be in my home for any length of time without folding laundry, putting away dishes or emptying garbage cans.  Finally, we pay someone to do the heavy cleaning a couple of times a month.  So, it's not like I'm a superhero... and I am always the first to admit it.

Plus, once I had children, and we began entertaining people with children, I learned quickly to pick up before visitors arrived, but to save the real cleaning efforts for after their departure.  And, even with a meeting or more each week, there is still plenty of time when it's just the six of us here in Krinkeland... and, the vast majority of that time, this house looks like a pack of raccoons just tore through it.

I was thinking about that this morning-- what my meeting guests would think if they walked in right now.  I always say, when anyone arrives unannounced, there's no telling what they'll get... and I'm not making any excuses about it, because that's what you deserve when you arrive unannounced.  Still, I know my house won't always look this way... I believe there will come a time when my home is in order and I am caught up on the chores... I cannot really imagine it, but I understand it will happen.  Someday.  Someday soon.
the draw of cartoons 

all over my bathtub... note the toy machine gun
 
comandeered an iPod and went into hiding

 
the joy of being able to shut the toy room door

post-workout shake making

laundry, always laundry

never before seen a puppy who liked to be carried as a baby

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dynamo Dynasty

We watch too much television.  It's true-- we do-- and it's not a good thing.  Sure, there are worse things... and that's how we rationalize it. 

There are shows that I watch:
Downton Abbey
Call the Midwife
What Not to Wear

There are shows that Todd watches:
Homeland
New Girl
Two and a Half Men
Grey's Anatomy

And there are shows we always watch together:
The Bold and the Beautiful
Storage Wars
Shark Tank
Flipping Out
Top Chef

Just as sometimes one of us finds something new, other times one of us loses interest in a show the other still wants to watch.  Recently, Todd converted me to become a viewer of one show I fought for so long: Duck Dynasty.  It's a reality show on A&E about this Louisiana family that runs a duck call fabrication business.

I never before understood "redneck" jokes... or saw the appeal of facial hair... but this is honest-to-goodness fun.  They live reasonably, love nature, discipline their children, laugh at themeslves, and end each episode with a prayer over a family meal.  Plus, it doesn't hurt that brother Jase looks like a scruffy Matthew McConaughey.

"Just because she's a little homely, that's all right.  It's hard to get a pretty girl to cook and carry a bible, anymore."  --Phil Robertson
 
"In my opinion, you're not a proper woman if you don't have a goat or two."  --Miss Kay Robertson
 
"Put it down-- your other down."  --Godwin
 
"Crawfish have ding-dongs and vaginas.  It's a good thing to point out to your grandchildren.  They'll figure it out."  --Phil Robertson
 
"Parenting is a constant struggle between making your kids' lives better and ruining your own." --Willie Robertson
 
"There's some people who've got it and some people who don't got it.  I've always had it.  I have always had it."  --Si Robertson

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Conversations

These are actual conversations I have had with my children and other children in my life in the past 24 hours:

Me: "Don't forget to put away your laundry."
E: "Aarrrrgh!  There's so much here!"
Me: "Tell me about it.  I sorted it, washed it, dried it, folded it, and sorted it again.  All you have to do is put it away."
E:  "It would take me forever to put away that much laundry."
Me: "Well, quit dirtying so many clothes.  You wouldn't have that much laundry if you weren't constantly getting things dirty or changing your mind."
E: "Well, would you rather I was NAKED all the time?!  Then, I wouldn't have any laundry, and we would both win."

G: "He says four is bigger than five."
G2: (Nods defiantly.)
Me: "Sorry,  Buddy.  He's right.  Five is bigger."
G2: "So?  I have like a million friends."
G: "Nuh-uh."
G2: "Well, at least six or seven."

B: "Do you want to see how handsome I am in my school pictures?"
Me: "Of course."
B: "Are you sure you're ready?"
Me: (looking) "Oh, look at that picture-- you ARE handsome!"
B: "Let's look at all the other pages, to see if I get even cuter."

M: "I will not put applesauce on my pants-- ever."
Me: "Good."
M: "And never, never, ever walk in the mud."

Me: "If you don't like any of those bingo prizes, how about a big kiss from your Auntie?"
K: "Nuh-uh.  No way."
Me: "What about a hug then?"
K: "No, I'm not much of a hugger."
Me: "Yeah, that's OK... I'm not either.  You know, now that I think about it, you were never much of a cuddler.  Even when you were really little, I don't remember too many hugs from you."
S: "You get plenty from me.  I don't have a choice.  You just grab me."
Me: "Yeah, so maybe I am a bit of a hugger, then."
S: "I am a great hugger.  The greatest.  I know how to squeeze real tight around the neck."

A: "I have on my first outfit choice for tomorrow, but I have a feeling it's going to be a 'No.'"
Me: "Then why show me?"
A: "Well, I'm hoping..." (walks in)
Me: "No!  That skirt is waaay too short.  NO WAY!"
A: "Awww... but I really like this outfit."
Me: "What could you possibly like about it?!  If you bend over, your tush is going to show."
A: "Well, I could still try it-- that might not happen."

You're It!

I live in a crazy house.

For the past week or two, my husand and my children have been engaged in a fierce game of tag.  This is, literally, a game of tag around my house (lest you think I'm somehow speaking figuratively.)  The game is continual, competitive, and sometimes downright violent.  I love that Daddy plays with his kids... I hate that my hallways are battlegrounds.

The game picks up at some point each day, with someone thumping someone else and declaring, "You're it!"  They tear around after each other, turning off lights and ducking under blankets.  There is a lot of screaming, and occasional crying, and declarations of "I quit!"  Exept they never do.

The little boy and the little girl are "it" most often... probably because they have the shortest legs.  But Dad gets plenty of at-bats, too.  He stealthily moves from room to room, on whatever level his pursuers are not.  I regularly get asked, "Mom, have you seen Dad?"  And I always answer, "Yes."

Probably my least favorite thing about this game is it always happens in the hour or two between dinner and bedtime.  I hold my breath waiting for someone to fall in the open dishwasher or to trip over shoes and school bags.  I try unsuccessfully to declare the game "over" when it is actually time for teeth-brushing and prayers.

The game only goes on pause when Daddy declares, "Stop. I'm sweaty."  But it will start again... tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Prayer Requests

I am finding myself taking lots of deep breaths today, due to many prayer requests coming my way.  Please join with me to pray for:

*our friend Wade, who this morning underwent cancer surgery-- again-- and came out with one lung 40% lighter
*the unborn, especially those in baby bellies around our faith community
*my FIL, with neurological concerns
*those with cardiac concerns
*the unemployed
*support for the arts

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Head-Scratchers

My kids have provided me with a number of head-scratching moments today.  Sometimes, I do not understand what they are trying to tell me... Other times, they tell a story in an obviously skewed way, and I am left to try and fill in the holes of what really happened...  On still other occasions, I am looking for motivation or purpose to why they have or have not done something...

In all instances, I pretty much just end up standing there, scratching my head:

Madeline: "NO!  We went to the other Mall of America!"

Benjamin: "I got two Starbursts today.  One was because I brought my paper back signed; the other was because all the kids laughed at my 'Ts'."

Amanda came home with one arm of her eyeglasses literally dangling by its twisted hinge.  When I asked, "WHAT HAPPENED?!" she explained, "I have no idea-- they must have gotten caught in my hair."

Todd and I had a meeting at the house tonight.  About a half-hour after it began, Elisabeth and Amanda walked in the front door.  "Where were you?!"  I asked, thinking they had been upstairs the whole time.  Another guest said, "Oh, they were lurking around outside, trying to scare us as we arrived."  The girls looked sheepish, and stupid, since one was wearing a sequined blouse and the other was in bright yellow.

At bedtime, Madeline asked me to read "The End of a Sunny, Dirt Road in Bear Country."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Unbeliebable

The highlight of Fall Break, and, apparently, my and Todd's anniversary gift to each other, was the event of the year-- at least for the nine- and 10-year-olds in Krinkeland-- the Justin Bieber concert!  (Insert high-pitched screaming here.)  I know it was kind of a crazy and extravagant thing to do, and I'm not necessarily proud of that.  However, we have our reasons... and the girls are fully aware that this was their Christmas gift from Mom and Dad.  (And, yes, I am documenting that, to remind myself and them!)

If you just think we are ridiculous, stop reading now.  Otherwise, here is the back story:

Amanda loves Justin Bieber.  He is, without a doubt, her big-time-Top-40-superstar crush.  There are Justin Bieber posters on her wall.  Her iPod is full of JB tunes and JB wallpaper.  She has Justin Bieber pajamas.  Her best friend made her a Justin Bieber pillowcase.  That friend's younger sister gave Amanda a Justin Bieber backpack.  Get the picture?

I do not follow popular music, or much of pop culture save tidbits from People magazine... but, somewhere, somehow, a month or two back, I caught wind of the concert.  I checked for tickets on Ticketmaster, Stub Hub, eBay and other popular sales sites.  All the "regular" tickets were already sold out, and scalper/poacher prices were sky-high.  Todd and I discussed it briefly, but decided it was too much and she was too young.

A day or two before the concert, Todd started cruising Craig's List and other online listings-- again.  He had this idea that, at the last minute, sellers would be "dumping" tickets and he would get a deal.  Ah, Todd... always The Deal.  He talked with a number of sellers on the day of the concert and worked out a verbal agreement with a roadie who was selling his pair of floor tickets.  It was not a great deal, but much better than what others were paying.

Todd went to the ticket office at the venue, to verify the tickets he was buying were legitimate, and he thought he would just ask if, by chance, any tickets were available.  He got two more, at the regular price, also on the floor.  So, suddenly Elisabeth and I were going to the concert, too.

I do NOT have Bieber Fever... and I really wish I would have had a Valium before heading into the chaos.  But we held hands and stuck together.  (I just wish I had remembered the ear plugs.)  Of course, neither girl had ever been to such an event.  They were amazed by the crowds and the noise, and we were all dazzled by the spectacle.

It was an unbelievable show-- the staging, the lighting, the pyrotechnics, the special effects, the dancers, the costumes-- all of it.  The girls shrieked and sang at the top of their lungs and danced their booties off.  I got my workout for the day by literally holding Libby for the better part of two hours, so she could see everything.

Apart from complaining about the noise level, I fully recognized I was too old to be at the concert when I started counting the number of times Justin grabbed his crotch.  I also bristled twice at his poor grammar.  But I did surrender to appreciating his talent.

We know we gave our girls something they did not NEED, something that will not make them better people or help them in the long-run.  But it was an experience, a memory, something we will all always share, and I am glad I could be there to witness their joy, their excitement, their incredulity. 

There is something about live music... I bet you remember your first concert.  I know I do, and I always will.

Bear-y Fun Outing

As stated in my last post, I fully realize I have a lot of blog-catching-up to do.  We have just been so busy, and, while my mind races, my fingers have just been too tired to type at the end of each day.  Today, though, once I got all the big kids to school and the class pet returned to kindergarten, Madeline and I had decided to do something really fun.

We took my 20-month-old niece Lucia to "make" a gift for her new baby (due in just a couple of weeks!)  I invited the little girl, but I got her father, too.  That ended up being a really good thing, because Lucia certainly did not care about selecting a bear skin-- she just wanted to mother the pre-stuffed ones on the shelves.  Once we got her focused, she was scared to death of the noisy stuffing machine, but, thankfully, not of the over-eager salesperson who helped us.

Soon, we had a bear for the baby, one for Lucia, and one for Madeline, too, because, really, can you take a three-year-old along to Build-A-Bear but tell her, "None for you today, dear"?

I am really excited for their babies coming close together-- nearly as close as our first two-- because I know how tight their relationship will be.  I also fully realize Lucia truly has no idea what is going on, but she also will never remember life without her younger sibling.
Welcome home to Mr. Pickles and Teddy Gummy Bear.  (New Baby Bear, you will meet your new owner very soon!)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Catch Up

I have not fallen off the face of the Earth... but, with the kids on Fall Break, we have been busy, busy, busy. I know I have a lot of catching up to do, but, at this late hour, all I have the energy for is highlights:

*90-minute hike
*Egypt and tornadoes at the Science Museum
*16-year wedding anniversary
*family lunch with Gua
*Justin Bieber


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sparkly Solution?

When I found these magnetic earrings in one of those cheapo jewelry stores, I thought I had come up with the perfect solution to little girls who mistakenly think they are old enough for pierced ears. That lasted about 10 minutes, until she started losing the backs.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Crabby Foster Care



I consented to allowing Benjamin to take home the class pet for Fall Break.  The last thing we need in Krinkeland is one more living being for which to care, but, the kids were all so excited... and I figured I might as well say "yes" now and be able to cross it off the list for the rest of the school year!  Before bedtime, the children stole my phone and made this "video diary" of Hermey's first day here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Think About It

Kids do not think.

My kids do not think.  It makes me crazy.  I am not sure at what age the forward-though process kicks in... but it is not even a glimmer in the mind of a six-year-old boy, and, it turns out, 10-year-old girls aren't much further ahead.

This morning, I spent nearly 40 minutes scraping sticky stuff off the kitchen floor, because someone thought it would be a good idea to put an adhesive place mat under the dog's dishes.  That, alone, is mildly frustrating, but the fact that I warned the same perpetrator against making that mistake a few months ago (the first time she did it) is positively maddening.  The Goo Gone worked and there is no permanent damage, but I was really annoyed.

Or maybe I was just tired.

I may have been recovering from the other night, when I awoke just after 3 a.m. because someone was walking back and forth between bedrooms and bathrooms.  When I asked what was the matter, my SON said, "Everything is wet.  My drink leaked in my bed."  I had not been home when the children went to bed, so I was a little confused.  "What drink?  How did it leak?"  I felt up to the top bunk and, indeed, the sheet was damp.  When I pulled back the fitted sheet, the waterproof (thank heaven) mattress pad underneath had a wide, tan-colored stain.  "WHAT IS THIS?!"

Benjamin pointed to a non-spill-proof travel mug on the floor and "explained": "I took my Dr. Pepper to bed."  As I held my breath to keep my cool and peeled off the bedding, I noticed some dark marks on the wall behind the bed.  "WHAT DID YOU DO?!"  Ben took a deep breath and bowed his head: "I colored on the wall."  With.  Blue.  Sharpie.

"WHY WOULD YOU DO SUCH A THING?!?!"  Ben raised his head and shrugged.  "I don't know."  And he didn't know.  He doesn't know.  He still doesn't know.  He doesn't think.

I fully admit, as a grown-up, I probably think too much... and I do not necessarily have any more answers than a child.  Still, it would be a pleasant change if my kids could just occasionally use the brains that God gave them.
 
"Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?"  --A.A. Milne

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

I just finished reading Anna Quindlen's new memoir, "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake."  The book is basically Quindlen's tribute to middle age and later years.  As a journalist-turned-mother-and-always-writer, plus just because she is a smart woman, much of this book rings true with me.  I am not quite Quindlen's age or stage in life, just yet, so I do not identify with all of the book, but give me time.

In an ideal world, I would buy copies of this book-- or e-book, more like it-- and send them to all my girlfriends, my sister and sister-type people, my mother and mother-type people.  However, you know how I roll, and it stays with me that Quindlen and I do not see eye-to-eye about many of the major issues of our time, particularly the Catholic church and abortion.  For this reason, I cannot give my wholehearted endorsement.

Yet, I would be a liar if I didn't say it was a darn good book.  Quindlen sees womanhood, motherhood, success, friendship, marriage and more in much the same way I do.  She describes life in much the same way as I see it, and there is comfort, even joy, in reading her eloquent descriptions and observations:

"First I was who I was. Then I didn’t know who I was. Then I invented someone, and became her. Then I began to like what I’d invented. And finally I was what I was again."

“A safety net of small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn’t believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation.”

“Real friends offer both hard truths and soft landings and realize that it’s sometimes more important to be nice than to be honest.”

“I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is, a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come. It’s like a car, and while I like a red convertible or even a Bentley as well as the next person, what I really need are four tires and an engine.”

“Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward: We are good parents, not so they will be loving enough to stay with us, but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”

So, maybe don't buy the book... but definitely check it out from the library.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Watch It

If you need a break from raunchy sitcoms and political debates, I have a couple suggestions for tomorrow evening's viewing:

First, the movie "October Baby" is going to be premiering on the GMC network.  The details are here, with a variety of time choices.  (Take note in the linked post: those times are EST, I believe.)  This is a pro-life drama that did get wide release in movie theaters.  It shows the abortion story from another side-- that of a survivor.

If that doesn't turn your crank, I have another baby-related suggestion: "Call the Midwife."  This PBS drama is good.  It is about delivering babies, but it's also about a lot more.  It's just good.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fortunate Family

Most of the time-- OK, all of the time-- my kids have no idea now good they have it. They are SO LUCKY to be constantly surrounded with love and support, not only from their father and me, but from the whole village. These came in the mail today: two postcards, both addressed to Amanda, both congratulating her for a job well done serving at mass. They are from two sets of grandparents. I know... they make me wish I could be a kid in this family, too.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Focus!

This evening, I participated in a focus group discussion.  There's a background to this, but it's not all that interesting: About the time I had Amanda, one of my friends was working in market research and added my name and information to the database of this local company that gathers public opinion on a variety of topics and products, basically whatever their clients need.  In the past decade, I have been contacted via telephone or email to complete a survey to see if I qualify to participate.  I rarely do.

I'm either too young or too old or too female or our household makes too much money.  When I was still working, I never qualified, because people who work for the media are automatically disqualified.  On occasion-- maybe three times total-- I have been selected and available to participate in market research.  And it's been interesting.

Once, I received in the mail these different packages of wet mop cloths, and I had to use them and take notes and then sit around a table and discuss my preferences.  Another time, I went to a big-box store and looked at their displays of greeting cards and relayed what appealed to me and what I noticed most.

Why do it?  Cash.  Yeah, it's just a tiny, really-part-time job.  At the end of the hour or two, each participant gets paid $50-$100 for taking part.  Since I recently scratched the bumper of my new car and had it repaired, Todd told me I had to pay for it out of my own money... so I figured I better make some.  Plus, I knew it would get me out of the house until after the kids were in bed.

Tonight's panel discussion was on insurance.  Boooring.  There were six panelists, three men and three women.  I was the youngest.  And I lived in the most rural area.  And I had the most kids.

I made it a point to answer directed questions, but to not talk too much.  Mike talked too much-- waaay too much.  Virginia did not talk at all; she just doodled on her notepad.  The moderator did not like Virginia, I don't think.

The moderator told us the name of a company and asked us what we knew about it.  No one knew anything.  I did not think it was a real company, but I did not think I should say that.  She asked us to write on our notepads what three ideas or impressions or feelings we got about the company based on its name and what we knew about it coming in.  I wrote:
*Fudgesicle
*motor oil
*ambiguous

Then, she wanted us to share our opinions.  The other people said things like "caring for farmers" and "comprehensive services" and "compassionate, hardworking agents."  When asked what I wrote, I said, "Pretty much the same as the others."

For the next hour, we had to listen to radio ads and watch television spots for this company, compare them, share our opinions, and discuss how our feelings were developing about this company.  Yep, it was really boring.  I mostly just imagined the real lives of the rest of the people on the panel and how much smarter I am than they are.  But I imagined they are all nicer than I am.

A couple times, I couldn't restrain myself, like when the moderator asked, "Is there anything else you think about this company after watching this ad?" and I answered, "It makes me feel the company is run by Democrats-- all Democrats."  She did not like that much.

As the session was (finally) drawing to a close, the moderator asked us to turn again to our notepads and, now that we had heard the ads and seen the ads and had this drawn-out discussion, we should now write three new ideas we have about the company.  I wrote:
*pleated chinos with cuffs
*Vaseline
*Copacabana

Then, the moderator asked us to leave our lists on the table so her clients could further review them.  I departed and quickly collected my payment.  I suspect I will not be asked back.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In Service

Amanda had her first opportunity to serve at this morning's school mass.  She recently went through training one Saturday at the church, but is not yet on the regular schedule.  I am not sure whether the older kids who are typically altar servers were busy, or whether the mass organizers just decided to start working in the new trainees.  But, yesterday, Amanda's English teacher asked for trained volunteers, and it's no surprise Amanda's arm was one of the first up.

At bedtime last night, however, her nerves kicked in.  Amanda was asking all kinds of questions-- just wanting to make sure she knew what she was doing-- and neither her father nor I could help.  Todd admitted all the kids in his parochial school were trained to be acolytes, but, he rarely actually filled the role.  Plus, since he's not Catholic, the specific tasks are probably somewhat different.  When I was young, girls could not be altar servers.

True story.

I always wanted to be an altar server.  It's not so much that I wanted to serve, as that I wanted to sit up in front of the congregation and watch everyone seated in the pews.  When I was a kid, all the cute (naughty) Catholic school boys were servers.  They'd stand and make eyes and I'd sit and make eyes and no one could wait for the communion procession when we got to make eyes as our paths crossed.

Amanda's dad and I both assured her she would be great, and she finally went to bed, comforted that we have a kind and patient priest who would guide her, if needed.  Of course, Madeline and I went to mass to watch Amanda do her job.  We were joined by two grandpas and one grandma, and, of course, her other siblings are also in the school.

She was fine and proud of herself for making it through the mass with no major flubs.  Afterward, Amanda recounted how much her hands shook as she held the book.  She also said she was surprised that "Father was cracking jokes up there!"  Amanda told me she was finally able to calm down by just continually praying, "Lord, please don't let me screw up." 

How often to we all pray that one?!





Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Number One!

My nephew Elias is ONE today!  What joy this boy brings into my life and into the lives of all who meet him.  He is happy and sweet and oh-so-cute!  Nothing is better than this one-year-old age: I love the way he is starting to explore the world around him, the way he speaks his own language, and the many ways he lets us know what he wants and needs.

Eli's older brothers and parents are naturally throwing him a big first birthday party this afternoon.  On this special day, his mom and brother, grandma, uncle, non-school-aged cousins and I took him out to lunch.  What fun!


Happy, happy first birthday, Elias, and many more!  God loves you, and Auntie does, too!

Monday, October 8, 2012

She's With Me

Todd and I spent the evening at the annual fundraising banquet for Pro-Life Action Ministries.  It was a lovely event, with many moving moments, and we were thankful for our host, for the company, and for the opportunity to attend.  It is always affirming to be in a room with hundreds and hundreds of like-minded people who are ready and willing to do what must be done.  A point by one of the speakers really hit home when he called the pro-life movement "unpopular."  It's so true-- people who fight for cancer research or who raise money to feed hungry children receive heaps of praise and nothing but praise.  However, abortion is such a polarizing issue; emotions run high on both sides: it is a fight. 

Yet, before I launch into another sermon on the importance of protecting LIFE from conception to natural death, I am headed in a related but slightly different direction.  The featured speaker at tonight's event was county singer Collin Raye.  He shared moving personal stories about the fight for life in his own family's life, including mourning the death of his first granddaughter, at age 10, due to a neurological disorder.

Raye's talk called to mind for me all the children I know with so-called special needs.  (I say "so-called" because don't we all have "special" needs?  I've never seen any child as anything other than perfectly created in the likeness and image of God.  Still, you understand the label as imposed and endorsed by much of society.)  I am also thinking about their parents, siblings, grandparents, caregivers, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, teachers, classmates, neighbors, and everyone they meet.  No one who loves children would ever see any one of them as a burden.  They are blessings.  Raye eloquently sang that in one of the songs he performed for us:



This night, I honor all parents, especially those with the even more demanding tasks of caring for a child who needs special care.  I know you seek no special attention, you ask no exceptional favors, and you would have it no other way.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Links in a Chain

This afternoon, I participated in the local, annual Life Chain event in my town.  It is a silent, peaceful display in support of life for all from its beginning, conception.  There are no gory pictures or loud chants or anything like that.  For those gathered, it is a chance to pray communally, and to create a visual representation of our views.  For those who witness it, it is a reminder of life and the need to protect it.

I've been taking part in the Life Chain for a number of years; this is the first year I can remember us having a "counter-demonstrator."  We stand lined up along a busy thoroughfare, so there is always a lot of passing traffic.  Some people honk or wave their agreement or gratitude.  A few shake their heads or make rude gestures.  We do not acknowledge any show of opposition or support; we simply and silently maintain our positions.  This is what we did about a half-hour into the event, when a man who was clearly not part of our group began marching down the sidewalk with his own sign.  Handwritten on a piece of tag board were the words "Free Abortions" and an arrow.  The arrow pointed to a bent, wire coat hanger, which the man was also carrying.

The man's point genuinely puzzled me.  I assume he was trying to convey a different view than mine.  However, if he believes in abortion rights, he surely would not want to perform them himself, on a street corner, with a coat hanger, right?  As I type this, I am thinking he might have been trying to say that praying to end abortion (which is what some of our signs said) would bring a return of dangerous, back-alley, "coat hanger" abortions.

Again, though, this underscores the point: Abortion is not safe.  Abortion kills children.  I am sorry to write this... to feel compelled to write this... I would prefer to share some funny story about one of my kids... really, I would... but this is too important.  Abortion weighs heavily upon our society, all of us.

Life Chain organizers print and distribute different signs for us to hold as we stand along the roadside.  These have slogans that say:
"Adoption the Loving Option"
"Pray to End Abortion"
"Jesus Forgives & Heals"
"Lord, Forgive Us and Our Nation"

The past few years, I have chosen this sign:
I have seen photos of other Life Chain events where people carry signs that read "Abortion Hurts Everyone."  That is the most accurate statement.  I believe this is something so often overlooked.  Now, all of the above slogans are true, and I am certainly not forgetting about the ultimate harm done to babies in abortion.  But I don't think we pay enough attention to the other victims of abortion: the parents.

No one wants to have an abortion.  No one says, "Hey, that sounds like a good idea.  I pick that."  Recently, I posted a link to this website, which is non-political, expresses various views, and has a sole purpose of helping women who've had abortions.  Just by nature of being on this planet, I know many women who have had unplanned pregnancies, women who have had babies with life-threatening medical conditions, women who have been raped, women who have experienced infertility, women who have had adoptions fall through, women who have had abortions.  I know how strong all these women are.  I know that sometimes all they need is to know they are loved and supported.

I will love and support you.  I will continue to pray to end abortion.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pricey

We've all been grumbling about consumer costs going up and up on gasoline and butter and eggs... But I think some things just cost more than they should.  Why are these things so expensive?

*throw pillows
*disposable razors
*stockings
*nail polish
*batteries
*coffee
*light bulbs

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lost and Found

OK, here's the post to balance things out-- so you don't think everything is always peaches-and-cream with the kids here in Krinkeland: Madeline got lost in the grocery store.  It was really scary, but, thankfully, short-lived.

My brother and niece were doing their shopping and called to see if we wanted to meet up for lunch.  I was digging through totes to find the warm outerwear for my school-aged children, but Madeline had been trailing me all morning, whining, "Can't we puhleeze go somewhere?"  So, finally, I got sick of listening to her (and, frankly, I was feeling the same way) and we left.  After running a couple quick errands, we swung by the grocery store and saw my brother's car still in the lot. 

I went in to pick up a few things while he was checking off his list.  As we headed for the checkout, I realized I had left my coupons in the car.  I set Madeline with her uncle and went out to the car.  When I came back, my brother was loading groceries onto the conveyor belt, with his daughter sitting in the cart.

"Where's my kid?" I asked.  My brother gestured to a display behind him.  But she was not there.  "She was just here," he claimed.  I believed him.  I know how three-year-olds operate.  Still, while Madeline is a busy and noisy child, it is unlike her to wander off.  I turned circles around all the nearby displays, paced five or six aisles in each direction, checked the bathroom and scanned the sidewalk and parking lot.  No Maddy.

My brother was also looking everywhere, while keeping an eye on his own kid.  Finally, I interrupted the clerk working the service counter and said, "I can't find my three-year-old.  Can you please help me?"  She immediately stopped, made a coded announcement over the public address system and took a description of my child.

Workers came from every corner of the store.  They blocked all the exits and began walking up and down the aisles.  I took another trip the entire length of the center aisle, and found Maddy, sitting on the floor, in a corner by the laundry detergent.  I called her name and she looked up; then, her face fell.  When I went to Madeline and picked her up, she melted into me and sobbed.

I couldn't even scold her-- at first.  I found the nearest clerk and told her I had my child, thanked her and asked her to call off the alert.   After things calmed down, my brother's heart returned to his chest, and we left the store, I told Madeline how scared we were, how she must never wander off again.  When I asked her what happened, she said, "I got lost.  I turned the wrong way.  I couldn't found you, either."

Unlike the other time I lost a kid in a store-- when two-year-old Amanda darted off under clothes racks in SuperTarget and left me in the dust, pushing infant Elisabeth in one of those huge carts-- I really do not think Maddy went off deliberately.  It is a reminder, however, of how fragile and unknowing these little ones really are.  My brother is still beating himself up, saying, "Wow, maybe I can't handle two kids."  (Their second is due in a month.)

But that's not it.  It can happen, to anyone, anywhere.

I am thankful for the staff at Cub Foods who were all professional, attentive, and, above all, kind.  After I had Maddy in my arms, they said things like, "I bet that was scary," and "At least she didn't go into the parking lot" and "I'm so glad you're safe."  In the above-mentioned experience with my oldest child, she, too, was found way across the store, but by an employee.  When approached and asked whether she was lost, that daughter said, "No, I'm just looking."  And, when she was returned to me, the clerk chastised, "You know, the safest place for a child is strapped into the cart."  I didn't know whether to hug my child or spank her, but I felt certain that, either way, I was being judged by those workers.

When we returned home, Maddy and I went upstairs for her nap.  The nap time story, "Tell Me What It's Like to Be Big" was oh-so-appropriate.  The little bunny, Willa, tells her older brother she's uncertain about getting older and having to do grown-up things: "Like go out the door all by myself... like walk down the road all by myself... like be in the world all by myself.  There might be nobody there!"

Thankfully, Madeline is safe, and scared enough that I suspect she'll be sticking close.  I, certainly, am not ready to have her in the world all by herself!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Next Birthday

Today is my FIL's birthday-- this is the FIL who is married to my MIL and, is therefore, my husband's stepfather.  It's a really cool day, because one year ago, Harlan was embarking on a battle against esophageal cancer.  As the adage goes, what a difference a year makes!  Last year, Harlan was preparing for a feeding tube surgery (which turned into a major nightmare,) followed by chemotherapy, radiation and major thoracic surgery.  He continues to make great strides toward a return to health, and we continue to be grateful for his active presence in our lives.

The greatest challenges this day were deciding which Dust Buster would make the best birthday gift and getting everyone around the family table for dinner.  Also, I tried to take a few photos, but the kids would not stand still.  Happy, happy birthday and many more, Harlan!  God is good.

Pride Will Get Me Nowhere

I was sitting in the dance studio waiting area-- reading a book, not spying through the curtained observation window as some mothers do-- when I heard the dance instructor exclaim through the closed door, "Wow, Maddy!  That's so nice!  Thank you for helping, Maddy!  What a nice girl you are!"  Before my brain even fully registered the words, my heart swelled.

It was kind of an odd sensation, really.  As a volunteer in various capacities and a mother-around-town, I often make it a point to tell other parents when their children behave in a particularly kind or polite manner; I figure that's just something parents like to hear.  In the same token, I generally do not tell other parents when I catch their kids acting out.  I mean, unless they are doing something downright mean and harmful, what's the point?  All parents are doing the best they can with their children, and cannot be held responsible, particularly when separated from their children, so why tell people something that is just going to embarrass them or make them feel bad?

Yet, I say all this knowing myself well enough to believe that, in the same situation, I would want the report if my child misbehaved and, if told something particularly complimentary regarding my child, I am likely to retort, "Well, s/he better be good!"  So, there goes that theory.

As I think it through, maybe this is another case of True Confessions-- possibly my prideful response was not so much in regard to what my child did (because I still don't know what it was and because I do expect her to be a good girl) but because of what the other children did not do.  You hear that, Other Mothers?  The teacher singled out my child as the GOOD one.  Not yours with the perfect ponytails.  Not yours who practiced ballet positions at home.  Not yours with the multi-layered tutu.  Not yours who keeps trying to hold the other dancers' hands, obviously against their wills and in a blatant attempt to appear "the good one."  Nope, it was my darling angel, with her peanut-butter face and hand-me-down tap shoes and gray-haired, flabby-butted mother.  And she did it all on her own-- whatever it was.

Well, that post didn't exactly go the way I planned...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hoarder

My husband is a hoarder.

As much as Todd accuses me of shopping too much, being disorganized, cramming things into cupboards, amassing enough perishables and dry goods to make it through any long-term incident-- all true, by the way-- he is the one with the bigger problem.

Todd cannot throw away anything. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your perspective) we have plenty of extra, unfinished spaces in our house. This is where most of Todd's collections reside. Among the "goodies" I have rediscovered during my decrapification efforts:
*3 table saw table tops
*9 custom-made, powder-coated, metal sections of deck railing
*2 used Invisible Fence systems
*7 years of gas bills from our former residence
*2 pick axes and 3 spade shovels *prototypes and parts of every device he has designed in the past 20 years
*2 pairs of new-with-tags designer jeans, sized 32x32
*the Zubaz his ski team wore in 11th grade

Since we do have a basement and a wood shop and walk-in closets, I can kind of ignore most of this stuff... except for the pile in our bedroom. It is on Todd's side of the bed, from his nightstand to the corner, but it is growing. The pile contains shirt boxes, paid bills, unpaid bills, credentials from trade shows and conventions, packaging and user's manuals from technology products, two laptop computers with cases and lots of cords (though he can never find either mouse) and plenty more crap I cannot identify. Todd does not respond well to criticism about his pile. I can understand-- I feel the same way when he complains about the refrigerator being overstuffed. The difference is-- I want things to be in better order, I am relieved to throw stuff out, and I would never be upset if Todd or someone else took up a project and cleaned something out. When I was gone over the weekend, the moms teamed up to trim the hostas, finish my laundry, organize the dish towel drawer, and alter clothes for Amanda. Hooray for help! Todd is very protective of his crap pile, refuses to do anything about it and will not let me touch it. It irks me most on cleaning day, when I think about the corner of carpet that is not being vacuumed, the stretch of baseboard that cannot be dusted. I have thought about getting Todd a chest or one of those storage ottomans, so at least he could cram his "treasures" where I would not have to see them... but wouldn't that just encourage him? I know his desk at work is in a similar state, and so is Todd's car. I love him just the same... but I do not want to end up on a reality TV show, confessing all to a soft-spoken therapist while Amanda tells us she is taking custody of Ben and Maddy, and Libby pretends like she doesn't know us, and no one can find the dog.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Baby Talk

I'm thinking about babies today... No, I am not having a baby.  No, I do not want a baby.  There are plenty of other reasons to have babies on the brain.

I am praying for those I know who are at the beginning of their pregnancies, and those mamas who are getting very close to delivery.

I am offering prayers of thanksgiving for new babies, which also seem to be everywhere, each one cuter than the last.

I am praying for those who are yearning for babies and waiting the seemingly endless wait of the adoption process.  I am praying for those who are mourning losses of babies.  I can get lost for hours on websites devoted to these babies and those babies.
 
 
Sorry, this was not meant to be a political post, but I guess my politics are showing... not that there's a Baby Party... but if there was, I'd register.