Saturday, January 31, 2009

Conversations with Lauren

1. In the car saying prayers while driving Joshua to school in the rain: "Dear God, thank you for the trees and the rain and the swiper shields." (That would be the windshield wipers.)

2. "Mommy, I'm going to sing you a Christmas song." "Okay, which one?" "Umm, Free Me Kings!" (That would be "We Three Kings.") The funny thing about this one is that she started singing nonsensical sounds to the proper tune, clearly knowing absolutely none of the words except "king," and after she got at least two-thirds of the way through, she said, "Mommy, I don't know this song." Ya think?

3. Trying distract Lauren from her fussing as I cooked supper yesterday, and she was wanting to be held:
Me: When you grow up are you going to be a mommy and cook supper for your family?
Lauren: NO!! I'm gonna be a ballerina, remember?
Me: Oh yeah. Well, do you think you'll also cook dinner sometimes?
Lauren: Umm, yes. (voice goes up an excited notch or two now as she has yet another of her brilliant ideas) I will be a Ballerina Cooker Mommy!!

This last one struck me the most funny because I am an annoyingly literal person. When I read the book, "Time for Bed," (a family favorite, btw) I can't stand to read one chapter as it is written. It goes, "Time for bed, little sheep, little sheep. The whole wide world is going to sleep."

That's just not true. The whole wide world is not going to sleep. Much of it is just waking up or in the middle of their day. So, until I had a child who could read, I always said instead, "Much of the world is going to sleep."

I know. I must be so much fun to live with.

Anyway, I hope she doesn't grow up to be a ballerina cooker mommy. I'm pretty sure it's illegal and wrong.

Friday, January 30, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

Here's my 7 Quick Takes post for this week.


We sold our house!!

After "stepping out in faith" (I hate how self-applauding that sounds) that God was urging us to go ahead and make this move, David quit his job, effective last week. Our house had been on the market for seven months, and we had gotten no bites whatsoever. Not a single offer. David and I went to Pennsylvania last week to look at houses, and we got an offer while we were there.

"Wow, must be God," we thought. "Amazing how perfect His timing is," we rejoiced as we giddily prepared to come home and sign the contract.

Then the buyers backed out. Not exactly what we expected. Enter my crisis of faith.

"Maybe we were wrong about the whole thing! Maybe we're not supposed to move to Pennsylvania at all. Maybe David is supposed to go on up and discover that we could never make a living there, and that's why we can't sell our house. Maybe I misunderstood God's leading all this time."

Enter God, providing us with not one, but two, more - and much better - offers on the house a mere 3 days later. I can just picture Him in heaven saying, "How's that? Three offers in 6 days enough for you?"

We now have a contract and are moving on March 6.


I'm trying not to think about all we're leaving behind. I'll save those teary posts for another day.


I did it. I gave the dog to my brother. The plan is for Dan to keep him for the next five weeks until we move, and then we'll take him to PA with us.

We shall see.

The last straw came last night when Lauren was laying on him watching a movie and sat up with a tick on her head. (We live in the woods. We've had plenty of ticks, but seriously, the kids I can check each time they come in from the woods . . . the dog, not so much.)

My life feels better already.


Last night within a thirty minute span, I took a tick off of my daughter, burned my hand by mindlessly putting it in a pot of boiling water (to retrieve a spoon while I was talking on the phone and not paying attention), and spilled pomegranate juice all over our 2006 tax return (kind of important for getting a home loan).

All this while cooking dinner, taking care of four kids, and faxing tax documents to Pennsylvnaia. I'm surprised I didn't fax the bank a recipe for baked tilapia and feed my kids a W-2.


I eat a lot of bananas. I wonder if one can eat too many bananas. Between the banana I had in my cereal this morning, the one I had with peanut butter for lunch, and the several bites I've taken of just a plain banana, I've had the equivalent of at least 2 1/2 already today. I probably eat 2-3 a day.


The kids discovered this whole in the woods in front of our house recently.

We have no idea how it got there . . . or when. While the kids have played in those woods for years, they had never played in that section before, so perhaps it's been there the entire five years we've lived here.

I hope so, because I can't think of a good alternative. The thought that a giant perfectly grave-sized whole was recently dug in our front yard does not sit well.

Wherever it came from, I am thankful for it as it has kept my kids occupied for countless hours over the past few weeks. They are currently trying to dig a ramp on one end to make it easier to get in and out of.

I'm sure they're increasing the value of our property, right? It's better than any landscaping David and I have ever done. (Did I just mention David and me and "landscaping" in the same sentence? It's okay; you can laugh.)


I signed up for one final Georgia CLE yesterday. That's "continuing legal education," because, you know, I would want to waste this great law degree I have or anything.

Surprisingly, I am only deficient one class this year. (And, by "this year," I mean 2008. I haven't even begun work on 2009 yet.) Usually, I have to take like 3 or 4 classes in March because that's the deadline for rectifying deficiencies.

Since I don't practice at all, and I choose CLE's based solely on being able to schedule babysitters, I end up with an odd mix of topics. For my 2008 credits, I will have attended classes on the following subjects:

DUI Law Updates
Class Actions
Professionalism and Ethics
Banking and Finance Law

I sound like a well-rounded lawyer, no? The truth is I that, much to David's chagrin, I usually read a novel during them. But not always. Sometimes I read non-fiction.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Career Day

It's homecoming week at Josh's school, which means each day there has been a particular theme for dressing up. Monday was pajama day, Tuesday was Western day, Wednesday was sports day, and today was career day.

If you ask Josh what he wants to be when he grows up, I can almost guarantee you he will say "scientist." He's said that for over a year now, and so far he's holding steady.

If you know me at all, you know I am not crafty, but I did my best with one of David's old white dress shirts and an old pair of glasses. Josh decided the particular type of scientist he wanted to be for career day was a paleontologist.

This is what he came up with to put in his "scientist case:" a necklace made out of buffalo teeth, some tiny plastic animals, binoculars, a pen, some rubber gloves, a canteen, and apparently this paleontologist got lucky and unearthed an entire spinosaurus, skin and all:

This was the first picture I took. I said, "Josh, stand on the bricks so I can take your picture," and this is the pose he struck.

I wish I had taken pictures of the other days, but, well, you know me . . . nothing but intentions.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Classic Christianity

I've been thinking the past few days of what would be a good book to recommend to someone I know who is struggling with how to feel God's presence in his life in a real way. I've asked around, and several people recommended the book Classic Christianity by Bob George. Having never read it, I thought I'd check it out before I recommended it to someone else.

Let me tell you, I am only about 65 pages into it, but I highly recommend it so far. It has been such a timely source of comfort for me.

Some of you know that I've been struggling with fear issues lately. Abstract fears like leaving my home and my family, stepping out of a secure income, and helping my kids adjust to life 1,000 miles away from the only home they've ever known. And more concrete fears like things that go bump in the dark.

As I was getting into bed last night, wrestling with these various fears, I picked up this book to read a little as I tried to fall asleep.

The chapter I was on is called "The Truth About Error." (an explanation of how if Truth sets us free (and we know it does because God said so),then the opposite must also be true: error binds us.)

The part that spoke to me was this: "our emotions always follow our thoughts." the author describes the experience of watching a frightening movie in a theater while eating popcorn, sitting next to people we know, and being fully aware of the film projector, yet nevertheless being scared out of our wits. It makes no sense, he says, to know that it is just a movie yet feel terrified all the same.

That's because "our emotions can't distinguish between fact and fantasy;" they can only respond to the messages being sent through the mind. "Whatever a man puts into his mind and thinks about determine what he will feel."

To the best of my recollection, the Bible does not tell us a lot about how to feel. God tells us what is true and right, what to think and believe, but not how to feel. I agree wholeheartedly with George's explanation of our feelings:

Man is free to put whatever he wants into his mind. His emotions will respond accordingly. If I am afraid, it is because I am thinking fearful thoughts. If I am angry, it's because I am thinking angry thoughts. If I am jealous, it's because I am thinking jealous thoughts.

Therefore, it is absolutely critical that we think thoughts that are truth rather than thoughts that are error.

With that in mind, I chose to go to sleep reciting scripture in my head last night. The prior few nights, I had kept the television on at a low volume and slept fitfully. Last night, I asked God to help me "take every thought captive," and I am happy and thankful to report that my emotions followed suit, and I found true rest.

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Small town, PA: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good:

1. Last time we visited, I was perusing the local newspaper (published weekly, btw), and in the crime section read about how someone had vandalized a mailbox by moving it and then putting it back. So, crime . . . not much of a concern here.

2. We had an appointment to meet a realtor at 10am, and we left the house at 9:57. I'm pretty sure we were early. It's got to be a plus that one can arrive at pretty much any destination in less than 3 minutes, right?

3. I suspect I will get in good shape once we move because there is nowhere to go except the gym. Good for me, good for Chad. (Chad owns the gym and is married to David's cousin.)

4. Which leads me to the next item on my "pro's" list: lots of family. I don't think I can travel a 50 foot radius in any direction without running into someone related to David. (Fortunately, I like his family . . . otherwise, I could see how this could easily go on the "con's" list.)

5. It's pretty.

The Bad:

1. We wanted to go out to dinner with David's new partner and his wife on Saturday. The first restaurant we tried had closed. For good. The next one had a sign on it that said, "Closed for the Winter." Finally, we traveled about 10 minutes out of town to go to a place called Fez's, which was basically a greasy-spoon diner . . . kind of like Gabby's. Not that I minded - we had good food and a great time with Andy and Michelle. Just, seriously, I like restaurants.

(An aside: The menu at the diner said "Breakfast served all day," but when Andy asked the waitress if breakfast was really served all day, her response was, "Well, today it probably is. What did you want?" It seems that menus are just suggestions of things they may be willing to cook for you.)

2. Apparently, Pennsylvania is not only the Keystone State, but also the Limestone State. While looking at a house, Jason (married to another cousin) and the realtor casually discussed the radon detector in the basement. Seems limestone produces radon, so we're pretty much surrounded by carcinogenic gas. Just what one looks for in a hometown.

3. On Saturday we were stuck inside since it was like 10 degrees, so we decided to play a game of Monopoly, which is apparently a family pasttime. Well, we didn't have a Monopoly game, and there isn't exactly a Walmart or Target to which we can run and buy one. So, where does one buy a board game? At the hardware store, of course.

4. The son of the cousins we were staying with had pink eye (hey, the kids asked me to bring them home something from PA), and he had an allergic reaction to his prescription eyedrops. No problem; just get some Benadryl, right? Well, sure if it wasn't the late night hour of, um, 9:15. Everything was closed. Nowhere to buy children's Benadryl.

5. There are bats.

6. If you want to buy a house in the winter, it's a little hard to inspect the roof.

7. You can't buy alcohol in the grocery store. Or a convenience store. Seriously, you can't; you have to go specifically to a liquor store. I think they're missing the whole point behind a convenience store.

The Ugly:

Not really sure why anyone cares what kind of car they drive up there since they all look like this 6 months out of the year:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lauren's prayer at supper tonight

Dear God (sounds more like "Dear Guide"),

Thank you for our food and our family and our toys and everything except our rocking chair and couches. Amen!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Back from the frozen tundra

It had to happen. At some point, I had to return to the real world and begin anew taking care of my kids and keeping house. (I know what you're thinking: "Becky? Keeping house?" Trust me, it happens on occasion.)

For the past week however, David and I have lived a life where we could do as we pleased without thought of babysitters and bedtimes. No being responsible for feeding someone or resolving a quarrel. No time-outs or disciplining. Yes, my parents had the kids for five days while David and I scoped out houses in Pennsylvania and were able to do anything we wanted.

Well, if there had been anything to do, that is.

The town we are moving to is, um, quaint. It's like a modern-day Mayberry, except I'm pretty sure in Mayberry a person could buy socks and that they didn't get excited over the heat wave that drove temps all the way into the high 30's.

I'll save that post for another day, though. This time I'm going to tell you about our trip.

We left with directions from both GoogleMaps and MapQuest, as well as the handwritten directions my neurotic brother couldn't help but provide for me. (He has a pathological need to plan things out whereas I prefer to head out the door and drive in the general direction of my destination, forget the atlas, and stop at a convenience store to spend $15 on yet another atlas to add to our ever-growing collection because I always forget them.) Of course, we also had my father-in-law's suggestions as to which route we should take.

David gave input from time to time, but given that he got lost on his way from the mall to Dick's Sporting Goods in Columbus, where we have lived for the past EIGHT YEARS, I gave his input only the brief consideration it was due. (ie, none)

The drive turned out not to be too bad. Altogether it took us about 17 hours, though I think if we had not made a foolish choice around midnight in Morgantown, WV, it probably would have taken us only 16.

Before we left we assured everyone that we had no intention of driving on icy, snow-covered, desolate roads late at night. When it got late and dark and was time to get off the interstate, we would stop for the night.

So the plan went, and as we got further and further into West Virginia, we weren't even sure we would make it to our goal of Morgantown so heavy was the snow coming down. Once we reached Morgantown, however, the snow had stopped, and we suddenly had a renewed sense of purpose and ambition and decided we would keep trekking on.

Bad idea.

It took only moments for us to realize that we should have listened to my father-in-law. (Do you have ANY idea how much I hate realizing I was wrong?) Ten minutes off of Interstate 79 and we found ourselves breaking pretty much every rule we'd set for ourselves:

1. It was almost midnight
2. We were on a desolate road with literally NO other cars whatsoever
3. It was snowing
4. It was 8 degrees
5. We had less than 1/2 a tank of gas
6. We were lost

Fortunately, we eventually reached what looked like civilization - a McDonald's wherein I found a nice elderly security guard who questioned why we were where we were given where we were trying to go and then kindly directed us to a local hotel where we could stop and resume our travels the next day.

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful, but there was one thing I found interesting during the drive through WV and PA. These signs:

This is the type of ramp to which the signs refer, but the signs show up about a mile or two before to let you know a ramp is coming. If you can just manage to control your runaway truck for another mile or two. (This is a picture I found on Google and not one of the actual ramps we saw (clue #1 - no snow). It's similar though not as steep):

I don't know why, but these amuse me. The signs let one know that up ahead is a steep gravel-covered ramp whereby runaway trucks can apparently save themselves from imminent disaster if they can only make it that far. Never mind that a.) the ramp is so steep that the truck would probably have been better off taking its chances on going through a guardrail, b.) the ramp is currently covered in snow and ice, and c.) the ramp is 1 mile ahead!
Would you want to head up that thing if you were in a runaway truck?!

Fortunately, we did not have to use any escape ramps. We are glad to be safe and sound and back to reality.

When a child cries tonight, it will be mine, and I can no longer ignore the sound and go back to sleep. When someone needs breakfast in the morning, I will have to fix it. Now that I'm back in a town where there are actual things to do, I, of course, will not be able to do them.

But, hey, lucky for you, I can always blog. Tomorrow I'll tell you all about the pros and cons of moving to a minuscule town in the middle of snow-covered mountains. I'll leave you in suspense as to which list will be longer.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Don't you love how sometimes the songs or sermon in church seem as though God had hand-picked them for you? That's how church has been for the past two weeks for me.

Last year before my surgery, I found great comfort in listening to they hymn "Be Still My Soul," which was written by Katharina von Schlegel in 1752. At that point, fearing that I may have a stroke before my surgery or have a heart attack on the operating table, my greatest comfort came from the second verse of the song:

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future, as He has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

As pertinent as that is to the circumstances our family is facing right now, those of you who know the uncertainty of our current situation will understand even more how much this, the third verse, meant to me this morning:

Be still, my soul when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

I spent a great deal of the singing portion of church this morning fighting tears, but it occurred to me as I was singing - sometimes out loud, sometimes only in my heart as I was trying not to cry - that I was in that very moment preaching the Gospel to myself as our pastor likes to say.

How encouraged I was as the Holy Spirit reminded me of His love and His sovereignty through these lyrics.

But, it got even better. Once we'd finished singing about how God would soothe our sorrow in separation and how he would calm my fears, we then sang "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," originally written by Joachim Neander in 1680! (Both of these hymns were written in German and later translated into English during the 19th century.) Sometimes it's easy to think that the fears and struggles we face today are somehow unique to us, so I love singing lyrics that were written literally hundreds of years ago.

Where my greatest source of fear and anxiety right now centers on our family's separation and the sorrow of leaving the places and people that I love, David's anxiety has more to do with leaving his secure job and launching out on his own, albeit with a partner. Many times in the past few weeks we've questioned whether we are doing the right thing, especially David as he lets go of a secure job, dependable paychecks, the security of health insurance, etc. When we sang these verses of "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," I again couldn't help but savor in the comfort that comes from reminding ourselves of the power of the Gospel (bolded emphasis mine):

Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ere have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

After we sang, our pastor taught this morning from Luke 12, and his message was a timely reminder. The Gospel, Bill said, always speaks first of who we are and only then of what we are to do. What is paramount is who (or Whose) we are, and when we remember that, our grip on the things of this world - be it our home, our wealth, our family, even our lives - can be loosened as we trust God to provide for our true needs.

Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness in encouraging us even in the midst of our doubt and fear.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

Continuing the "7 Quick Takes Friday" tradition I got from Jennifer at Conversion Diary:


This chart hangs in the pre-op area at St. Francis, and I always find it insanely amusing:

Wong-Baker FACES pain rating scale
(Apparently the whole thing won't fit in my blog format even though it shows it all when I preview. Oh well, face #5 is pretty much the same as #4, but with a lot of tears added.)

I tried to assume facial position #0 before my nerve block yesterday so that there would be a noticeable difference once the injections began, but I have to tell you, a smile that big doesn't come natural to me. (And, seriously, have you ever seen anyone look that happy to see a doctor? Well, yeah, I guess the anesthesiologists who brought the epidurals when I was in labor. I may have managed it then.) I do plan to practice these so that if I'm ever unable to communicate verbally with my doctor for some reason, he can consult the chart and determine how much pain I'm in. I've got 4 and 5 down pat, but I'm having a lot of trouble with 2 and 3.


So far no benefit from yesterday's nerve block. I don't plan to try this again. As they say, "Fool me once . . ."

Yesterday was the second time I've gone to the new Walmart and found only express checkout lanes open. 5 out of like 25 lanes were open, but they were all express. What's up with that?


Did you know that I drink out of straws 100% of the time even at home. Even if I'm just taking a quick sip to swallow a pill or something. I must use a straw. I once received a package of like 500 striped straws as a birthday gift, and it was one of my favorite gifts ever. (Thanks, C!)


When Joshua finishes a reader at school, his teacher sends it home for us to keep. They are only about 10-12 pages each, so they go through 1 or 2 a week. Last night Ethan read the latest one to me in its entirety. Every word. Joshua can still read more quickly than Ethan, but Ethan can figure out pretty much any word these days.


I think giving kids free cookies at the grocery store is a great idea, but I think also giving moms free vodka would be an even better idea. The kids and I went grocery shopping on the way home from school today, and since I was not feeling very well, I decided to spend the extra money and shop at Publix instead of Walmart. I'm wondering if kids are born with some type of sensor that lets them know mommy doesn't feel well, because it seems like they are so much worse behaved when my stomach hurts.


I never finished posting my Disney pictures, but since it's not often you see a picture of people in fezzes (yes, that's the correct plural; I looked it up because I thought fezi sounded a lot better), here's David and the boys at the Morocco pavilion in Epcot:

"Nerve block" is a Euphemism

*Warning: There is a picture of my surgical incision at the end of this post. If you do not like seeing such things, come back another day.*

I mentioned last week that I've been having some pain along part of the incision from my surgery last year. Well, I finally saw the surgeon about it last week, and he sent me to the anesthesiologist today to get what he casually, and apparently euphemistically, referred to as a "nerve block."

Figuring I may as well take advantage of the fact that I am friends with an anesthesiologist (that's an annoying word to type), I called him yesterday to get the scoop on this thing. Big deal? No big deal? Drive myself home? That type of thing.

Assured that it was no big deal and that I did not need anyone to drive me home, I arrived at the hospital expecting to go into a little dr's office type exam room, lift up my shirt, get a shot, and be on my way.

Instead, upon my arrival, I was ushered into the SAME pre-op room that I was prepped for surgery in last February. (Talk about scary flashback!) I was told to put on a gown, and then I had one of those oxygen thingys put on my finger. I said to the nurse, "I didn't expect such a big production for a shot." She didn't say much.

A few minutes later, Andy (my anesthesiologist friend) and two other anesthesiologists entered the room and began prodding and poking and discussing amongst themselves what might be the best course of action to help with my pain and my huge Frankenstein knot, formerly known as a rib. In walks a fourth anesthesiologist, and I told them I really wasn't comfortable making a decision on the advice of only four doctors.

So, they decided the best thing would be to inject a local anesthetic (Which I guess is another term for "nerve block?" I learned surprisingly little listening to four doctors discuss my medical care. I guess I can scratch that off my list of med school alternatives.) along the entire length of my incision and inject some steroids into part of it and into the Frankenstein knot.

(I was a little sad to have to give up my dreams of being an Olympic track star for this, but then I found out that there are different types of steroids, and that these would not disqualify me from from the 440, so now I have to decide whether to start running again or fake a really bad knee injury.)

About the time I heard mention of "going along the entire incision," I got a little panicky. This incision is not small; it's 10 1/2 inches long. This was sounding like it was going to involve a lot of needles.

"No problem," said anesthesiologist #2, "We'll give you someting to take the edge off." Which by the way, is one of my favorite things to hear a doctor say. Some people don't like being put to sleep or sedated. I am not one of those people. Unfortunately, anesthesiologist "friend" Andy spoke up and mentioned that I would be driving myself home and, therefore, could not be sedated. Yeah, because HE told me I didn't need anyone. Now thanks to him, I have to get multiple injections on an already painful incision, and I can't even get the good drugs that might have made it all worthwhile.

So, instead of going in and getting one little shot, here's what I got (I zoomed in really close so it wouldn't look *gasp* risque or anything, so you can't see the entire incision. It goes up about another inch at the top.):

Each of those dots is where he gave me an injection. I counted FIFTEEN of them.

The moral of this story: Always take a friend with you for medical procedures in case there's even the slightest possibility of being offered sedatives. Because one should never turn those down when there are needles in the room.

(By the way . . . an added bonus to such a great scar: If you look really closely toward the top left, you can see the "x" shaped scar where my chest tube was. My friend Katie suggested I draw a little pirate on my belly and be a treasure map for Halloween, but that part's really faded a lot now. Maybe I'll get lucky and need another one next year.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Puzzle of Life

Ethan loves to do jigsaw puzzles, so today we took one for the two of us to put together during Lauren's gymnastics class.

We have a lot of puzzles, and unless they're made by Ravensburger, I've learned that the boxes fall apart pretty quickly. So, my usual technique is to put the pieces in a ziploc bag along with the picture from the front of the box. This works well until one of the kids does the puzzle and cleans it up without putting the picture back into the bag.

That's what happened with the Pirates of the Caribbean puzzle Ethan and I were putting together today at gym.

As we began putting edge pieces together, Ethan commented that it sure was a lot harder without the picture. We managed to get the sides made, but without the box or any of the "picture part" of the puzzle, we didn't know which side was which . . . top, bottom, side . . . we had no idea. It's much easier to put together a puzzle when you know what the final outcome is supposed to look like.

The spiritual application of this did not escape me. I thought of how much like my own life this puzzle was. Me, always trying to make things fit and plan things out the way I want them even though I have no idea what the big picture of my life looks like. Why is it so hard to trust God when we know that He's the only One who can actually "see the picture?"

As God often does, He reinforced this truth to me in the book I had taken along to read during Lauren's class. The women's Bible study I attend just started studying the book of Esther last week, and we are reading Chuck Swindoll's book. The first chapter (which I was reading today) is all about how God sovereignly orchestrates the events of our lives - as He did Esther's - to work out His plan and purpose. This is what I read immediately after finishing Ethan's puzzle: "God is working behind the scenes. He is moving and pushing and rearranging events and changing minds until He . . . [sets] His perfect plan in place."

I find such encouragment in remembering that I don't know what the puzzle of my life is supposed to end up like. I see only bits and pieces, but God promises that He knows the plans He has for me. And, unlike yours truly, He never loses the boxtop. He knows what the picture is supposed to end up like, and He knows exactly how every piece will fit into place.

Now, if I could just stop trying to squeeze them in where I want them . . .

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Update: So far he's still here

Of course, I'm referring to the dog. The other three "he's" in the house have pretty much secured tenure.

Here's the list of reasons the dog should probably be gone by now:
1. He continues to think the hall is his own personal latrine.
2. He can jump on counters.
3. He jumped on said counter last night and absconded with our pot roast. (No, I am not making this up. He had to be chased around the living room to get it back so we could have dinner. Okay, I'm kidding about the having dinner part. Fortunately, it was after we had eaten, but still . . . there WAS half a roast left, and it was going to be tonight's dinner!)
4. He whines and barks like a psycho every time I leave the house. The vet said he can prescribe doggie Xanax. Leave it to me to pick the dog who would need Xanax.
5. He likes to eat Star Wars characters. He seems particularly fond (or just the opposite, depending on how you look at it) of Darth Vader. He has no legs and only one remaining arm. Sort of like in Revenge of the Sith, only he's already in the whole Vader getup.
6. Did I mention the hall?

Reasons I have not gotten rid of the dog:
1. Joshua
2. Ethan
3. Lauren

Yeah, I know. The first list is longer, so it wins. Right?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Me and my bright ideas

Yes, it was my idea to get a dog. Yes, numerous people suggested that perhaps this was not the best time to get a dog what with trying to sell my house and all. I mean, there are already 3 little creatures trying their best to undo my work at every turn. Did I really need to add dog to the list of things that are making me insane right now? Yes, people mentioned this.

But, I didn't listen. Mostly because, well, listening . . . it's not really my thing.

So, now here we are. We've had this dog for a little over two weeks, and I would give him back in a heartbeat if it weren't for the minor issue of devastating my children. I know, life's hard, them's the breaks, they'll get over it, etc., but really? Have you tried telling 3, 4, and 6 year-olds that you're thinking of getting rid of their dog? Picture three quivering lips and 6 eyes welling up with tears. That's pretty much how it goes.

Of course, when I was cleaning dog poop off the wood floor at 3:30 this morning, I was tough. I had resolve.

Things tend to change when the sun comes up. If by 7:15 am you've already snapped at everyone in the house - twice - perhaps taking away their dog is not the best way to top it off.

So, what do I do? Seriously, I've decided to give this listening thing a try.

1. Dog thinks hall is bathroom. He rarely pees inside, but this hall is the ONLY place he poops.
2. Dog does not mind soiling his correct-size crate. (Yes, we've already figured out the size thing. The first one was too big, so we exchanged it for a smaller one. No help. Now I end up with a filthy crate AND a filthy dog.)
3. If left out of crate when we leave the house, dog jumps up onto the table and counter . No, he's not a small dog. Yes, he jumps ONTO the counter, thereby destroying anything he can find on said counter. (Note to self: move crockpot containing tonight's pot roast into bathroom before leaving today.)

I've read everything I can find about how to fix these problems. Take him out more, take him out longer, never let him out of your sight, reward him when he poops outside. The problem is I take him outside a hundred times a day. For 2 minutes or 2 hrs, it doesn't matter. He will still poop when we get back inside.

And, believe me, I would reward him if he pooped outside. But, he won't. I've taken to praying that he will poop outside just so I can reward him.

And, no, I don't say "praying" as a mere hyperbole just to mean that I reeeeeally want him to poop; I literally pray. "God, pleeeeeeeeease let Hearsay poop so he can finally learn to stop pooping inside, and I can stop getting out of bed to clean the freakin' floor at 3 am."

Yes, I sometimes say "freakin'" when I pray.

If someone had not already done it, I would consider keeping him just to write a book about what an insane dog he is and make lots of money off of it. But, since that's been done . . . now what?

Friday, January 9, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

I got this idea from a blog I love, The Conversion Diary. She posts seven random quick things that would be sort of short for real blog entries on their own. I'm not good at short, but I am good at random. :)


In the category of "Why One Should Never Have Kids as a Method of Boosting Self-Esteem," Lauren loves to help me fold laundry. She's mastered dish rags and wash cloths quite well and has moved on to underwear, usually hers or the boys. This morning she picked up one of mine and said, "Can I fold these REALLY huge ones?"


I have never been a fan of The Bachelor, but this season I'm particularly repulsed by the fact that the bachelor this season is a parent. I find it rather despicable. Almost as much as Congress giving itself a raise last month. (An open letter to Congress coming soon.)


Did you know that I have a pathological aversion to scraping sounds, particularly teeth-brushing? Even writing about it is hard for me because it makes me think about the sound, and I'm getting skin-crawling goose bumps already. It doesn't bother me to brush my own (aren't you glad?), though I will confess I use massive amounts of toothpaste to minimize the scraping, and I always leave the water running despite the environmental warnings about wasting water. David has finally learned after 8 years of marriage NEVER to brush his teeth when I am in the bathroom. Where it becomes a problem is the kids. Brushing their teeth is quite possibly my least favorite parenting task. Yes, I'd rather change a dirty diaper. So, we should probably be praying for my kids' oral health.


I cleaned out my dresser this morning and was very pleased at how nice it is to be able to open and close the drawers with ease. Everything fit quite nicely. Then I remembered the massive mountain of dirty laundry on the other side of the room. How the heck am I going to add THAT? Maybe I'll just never wash it so I don't have to ruin my nicely organized dresser.


I'm going to see my surgeon on Monday because my incision has grown terribly painful again. Also, the rib that now pokes out the wrong way (did you know it was possible for your rib to poke out instead of in after it's been retracted for 3 hrs?) feels constantly bruised and painful. I had reached the point months ago where it practically didn't hurt at all, so I don't know why it hurts again now. Hope he has an answer. Or at least some good drugs?


If I say, "Obeying slowly is the same as not obeying" one more time, I'm going to cry. And, probably my kids will, too.


Hearsay has made himself right at home and is happy as a lark now that we've given up on the crate. This is what he's doing right now. (Ethan added the blanket.)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dog poop and Gaza

I know, right? Just stay with me. Although, I should warn you up front that this post will contain a lot of references to poop. If you have an aversion to that type of thing, or if you're about to eat meat loaf for dinner, perhaps you should go find another corner of the world wide web to explore and try my blog another day.

If, however, you're a mom like me, or someone else who for whatever reason deals with crap on a regular basis, read on because I do have a point. It just may take a while to get there.

If I were to make a list of reasons today was a really crappy day, the list would begin something like this:

1. Found out at 8 am (while the boys were eating breakfast, I was not dressed, and Lauren was still sleeping) that David needed me to follow him to the auto shop and then take him to work. And pronto.

2. Spent hours this morning taking Hearsay (the dog) outside in an effort to somehow bribe, cajole, beg, or otherwise convince him that outside, not the hall outside the guest bathroom as apropos as that may seem, is the appropriate place to poop . . . and that he should do this before he had to be kenneled for three hours while I would be gone later. No luck.

3. Took the boys to Chik-fil-A to kill time between school and piano lesson. During the 50 minutes I was there, I took a child to the bathroom on three separate (long) occasions. I'm pretty sure I spent a total of 11 minutes actually sitting at the table.

(Of course, one of these bathroom trips was Ethan, which is an ordeal all unto itself. Given his inability to sit still (yes, he was sitting . . . after all this post is mostly about poop, remember), he constantly triggers the automatic flusher. I didn't put anything over it because I told him if he would just SIT STILL, it would stop flushing, but . . . this is Ethan we're talking about. It flushed three times while he was sitting on it.)

4. Here's my favorite: Upon arriving home from piano, it became instantly apparent that Hearsay did what we were told a dog would not do. He pooped in his kennel.

To make things worse, we don't know exactly what breeds he's a mix of, but if there was one called Goes Into a Super-Frenzy and Acts Like He's Being Drawn and Quartered Every Time His Owner Leaves the House, I believe that would be his dominant breed.

You know how kennels have those plastic slide out trays at the bottom? He manages to get so worked up that he slides the tray out of the kennel almost every time we leave. Fortunately, said tray is usually not covered in crap. Today it was, and consequently, said poop was not only on the plastic tray but also the floor, the baseboard, and somehow the wall. Apparently, he can fingerpaint.

5. While I was online griping to a friend about what Hearsay did, my completely potty trained 3 year-old came up to me and said, "Mommy, I got stinky on my hand." No, it was not the dog's; it was hers. Pooped in her pants and tried to "fix it" herself.

Seriously, did I somehow seem crap-deprived when I woke up this morning??!!

The list could go on, but I think you get the idea. I was having, from my perspective at the time, a really annoying, crappy (pun intended) day.

Then I had a perspective shift.

I found myself unexpectedly at home alone eating dinner at 6:30. (The kids had spur-of-the-minutely gone to Renae's for a bit.) I rarely watch the news, but since I was sitting there alone with no little ones to observe my vice, I decided to turn the television on while I ate.

That's when I saw Gaza.

Now, I'm no foreign policy analyst. I won't express an opinion about what's going on in the Middle East right now and who's right or wrong. But, I do know one look at Gaza was all it took.

Four minutes of a story on the world news, and suddenly I knew I would gladly relive this crap-filled day every day for the rest of my life. Watching a father weeping that his wife had been killed and that he couldn't find his two young daughters.

Rockets and bombs and smoke and fire.

I'll take dog poop over that any day. Suddenly, I feel like I had a very good day. Very, very good indeed.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Thankful Monday

Yes, I know it's the wrong day for my thankful list, but wouldn't you be thankful if your 4 year old wasn't harmed when he decided to do this?!

Saturday, January 3, 2009


1. I will wear at least one outfit a week that does not involve my white layering cami underneath. I seem to have a pathological need for a small layer of white to peak out from underneath all of my shirts.

2. I will eat at least one lunch a week that does not involve peanut butter.

3. I will shower on a regular basis. Don't worry; I do mean more than once a week, but let's face it, daily ain't happening.

4. I will shave both legs on the same day at least once . . . during 2009.

5. I will be on time . . . at least once a week.

6. I will invent a shopping cart with power steering, a pivot ball (like on a Dyson vacuum), and running boards on the sides to better hold numerous children.

7. I will shop less. (This is me trying to make that sound like a choice I'm making based on my own volition and self-control rather than the fact that we're moving to David's hometown, where I'm pretty sure Dollar General is the only available shopping venue.)

8. I will take down my Christmas decorations before Easter. And, I WILL label the boxes this year!

9. I will clean out under my bed. Before we move because that would be cheating, I guess. I think there may be an undiscovered third-world country under there.

10. I will refrain from rolling my eyes at or speaking sarcastically to my husband . . . at least once a week. You didn't think I meant ever, did you? What am I, Mother Teresa?

11. I will daily remind myself that I would trade showers, punctuality, adult lunches, fashion, and shaved legs in a heartbeat for the three precious children that are right now curled up on the couch watching Star Wars with David and the dog. (They should be in bed, but there is a thunderstorm, and knowing who the softy on our parenting team is, they went to David first.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Christmas Day 2008

I'll get back to Disney posts one of these days. I figure it would seem less strange to be posting pics from Disney World in March than to be posting Christmas pics then. Though, given my track record, I will probably still have my Christmas decorations up in March, so maybe it wouldn't be so odd after all. Anyhow, here it is.

I LOVED Christmas this year. Because we took a huge family trip to Disney World ten days before Christmas, David and I agreed (and explained to the kids ahead of time) that the trip was our Christmas present to each other, so we would not be putting anything under the tree for them on Christmas morning. It made Christmas morning so simple and meaningful instead of crazy and chaotic.

Of course, being a softy about Christmas, I couldn't resist putting a few things in their stockings. I had to put the stockings on the floor because one of the things I bought for the boys was Star Wars Color Wonder books, and they wouldn't fold to fit inside the stockings . . . plus, they made them too heavy:

So, to say the morning gift-opening was scaled down would be quite an understatement. But, we all loved it, and I loved seeing how much they enjoyed the simple, littlest things because they had expected pretty much nothing. See what I mean:

Lauren opening bathtub crayons:

Ethan's Pirates of the Caribbean stickers:

In addition to the stockings, they each had a gift from one of David's aunts and a small gift they each picked out for each other. (David's mom sent a box for each as well, but Ethan's didn't get here in time, so we all agreed that no one would open his/her box from Grandma until Ethan's arrived . . . which it finally did on Dec. 29th!)

The kids appreciated every little thing they received, and at one point Joshua said, "These are the best Christmas presents I've ever gotten!" It was so nice to watch them savor each small thing instead of hurrying on to what was next . . . because they knew there was no next!

The Star Wars gifts Joshua and Ethan bought for each other:

It wouldn't be Christmas without homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast after the gift-opening.

At lunchtime we headed over to my parents' house for Christmas dinner.

Lauren is always thrilled to see her Pops:

No gathering of my family would be complete without a jam session. Those are my brothers on the guitar and drums, David on the trumpet, and Joshua on, yes, the tambourine:

My brother Dan has been performing in bands since he was a teenager. I've seen him play every type of guitar, the mandolin, the harmonica, all manner of percussion instruments, rain sticks, a banjo, the piano, and probably many more. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've seen him tackle the xylophone:

I'd say a good time was had by all.