Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This post brought to you by the letter W for whine

I have been in such a funk today.

Just irritable and grumpy and do not want to talk to people and sure as heck do not want to smile at people.

Like the girl walking into Dick's Sporting Goods when I was on the way out today (after receiving terrible customer service and shelling out $20 for new soccer cleats because Ethan outgrew his sometime between October and February.) This girl was walking by and said (as people in the South are prone to do), "Hi! How are you" with a big smile. There was not one single cell in my body that wanted to smile back. Not even half a cell. So, I didn't.

Instead, I came home and spent all afternoon on the phone trying to clear up mortgage problems, cancel services (phone, water, etc.), change address for things, pay bills . . . all while children fought and cried in the background over urgent issues like whose doghouse made out of empty cardboard boxes was better.

And, we got our credit card bill today. Despite my trying VERY hard to spend very little money the past month, it was barely any less than normal. David said something like, "Keep spending like that, and you'll drive us into bankruptcy." "Good," I said, 'My plan is succeeding because that's exactly what I'm trying to do. Bankrupt us." He had the good sense to call back about 10 minutes later and apologize for being too hard on me and acknowledge that I sounded very frazzled and exasperated. I call him Sherlock. (On the off chance that you actually decide to read my blog this week, I love you, hon.) :)

To top it all of , Josh appears to have strep. Or more accurately, scarlet fever. Which is apparently just a really bad form of strep. Not diagnosed yet, but that's what the doctor on the phone tonight said it sounds like. Yesterday he just didn't feel well all day - took two naps, which is unprecedented - but he had no specific complaints (once his eye scratch was gone).

Well, last night he had a fever of 99, but still nothing hurt, so I didn't treat it. He slept fine and had no fever this morning, so I went ahead and sent him to school. (Yes, there is a 24 hr fever rule, but it was ninety-freakin-nine, and nothing hurt!) This afternoon he complained of being cold and tired (oh, and yesterday he had a headache), so I have him Tylenol and discovered he had a 101 degree fever.

About an hour ago, he came to me and said his stomach itched. He has an awful rash covering his entire torso, especially his groin and armpits. (I bet when he's sixteen he's going to love that his mom mentioned his groin on the world wide web.)

Called the doctor's office, and they said it sounds like scarletina from strep. (Yes, mom, I left out the scarlet fever part when I talked to you. It's just bad strep. I was going to tell you tomorrow if it turns out that's actually what it is.) She said to give him Benadryl, and if it went away, it was not strep, but if it didn't then bring him in first thing in the morning because it likely is. Great. Maybe my whole family will get it just to make moving even more fun.

I must now go clean my kitchen that looks like the only inhabitants of my house are toddler terrorists.

Josh wanted to make a "surprise drink" for me today. He wouldn't let me see what he was doing, and when he tried to come ask me for something, I shoo-ed him away because I was on the phone with the mortgage company. When I went to the kitchen to see what he had made, it was cherry Koolaid. He couldn't find a pitcher (which is what he was asking for, but it's already packed anyway), so he used . . . empty water bottles. Of course, what else?

I must say the koolaid on the floor and counters went well with the oatmeal on the table, the cheese on the floor, and the orange juice on the rug. We had a whole little motif going on. Maybe we'll be featured in Southern Living.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quick Takes

It's not Friday, and I don't know that there will be seven, but since I was out of town on Friday, here are a few random snippets from the last week.


Joshua appears to have heard the word "practically" recently and decided to adopt it as his own catch-all term. A conversation when he got in the car on Friday:

J: I practically won the game at recess today.
Me: Really? That's great.
J: But C practically bit the heads off of all his star wars guys.
Me: Why did he do that?
J: To make grenades. Practically.

He used it about three more times that afternoon, usually out of context. Also, he has taken to calling the kids across the street "those genius boys." While I'm sure they're quite bright, I don't think he understands what a genius is since he can't seem to articulate any reason for calling them that.


One day last week the kids were - shock - complaining that they were hungry. I looked at the clock and, thinking it said 5:00, decided to go ahead and cook dinner. When I got dinner out of the oven half an hour later, the clock said 4:30. Oops. We had the early bird senior citizen dinner.


Lauren's most frequent response when I ask her to do something for me has always been "sure!" Of course, we live in the South, and I have always tried to drill into my kids the importance of using "ma'am" and "sir" when speaking to adults. So, lately she has taken to answering me with, "Sure, ma'am!' I love it.


Today was apparently "Bless Beck" day, thought I'm not sure you'll find an official notation of it in the Library of Congress or anything. But, here are the things that lead me to suspect such a day occurred today:

a. I had an appointment with my nephrologist, and I had told him last week on the phone that I don't have insurance at the moment and was probably going to cancel my appointment. He said I really needed to come in but to remind him when I came, and he would mark down the bill so I wouldn't have to pay more than my co-pay. Well, without my even reminding him about it, he didn't just "mark it down;" he didn't charge me a penny. Blessed by Dr. W.

b. My sweet next door neighbor kept all three kids for me this morning while I was at the doctor, and when I arrived to pick them up, she was almost done cooking lunch and said to just let them stay and eat, and she would send them home after. Thanks to her, I was able to come home and spend almost an hour and a half packing without the kids here! And, I KNOW it doesn't take my kids that long to wolf down some spaghetti. Blessed by Bridget.

c. Joshua apparently got something in his eye yesterday afternoon. He cried about it for hours, but I still figured it was no big deal. I let him watch _Star Wars_ to try to take his mind off it, and he watched the entire movie with his hand pressed over one eye and cried every time he took it off. I tried Visine, but he said it made it sting more. So, this morning, when he was still crying about it (though he did sleep fine all night), and it was still red and puffy looking, I called the dr to see what I should do.

They said they needed to see him to make sure it wasn't - and didn't get - infected. As I mentioned, we don't have health insurance right now, so I was less than thrilled at the expense this would be, especially after having had to take Lauren to the doctor twice in the past three weeks. But, obviously, Josh's vision trumps our wallet woes, so I made an appointment for this afternoon.

In an unprecedented turn of events, Josh went in his room and took a nap at about 8:15 this morning (right before I called the doctor, which opened at 8:30), and when he woke up, his eye was significantly less red, and he said it didn't hurt as much. By the time I got back from my doctor's appointment this morning, it was completely better, and he said it didn't hurt at all, so we ended up not having to shell out money for another doctor's appointment . . . not to mention prescription antibiotic drops or ointment

Blessed by God.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Consider Jesus

I had the precious opportunity to go on a retreat with women from my church this weekend, and while there I found myself reflecting on some things I have felt God impressing upon me over the past couple of months.

Things like how He sees the big picture of my life, and I do not.

Things like how everything that happens in my life is good because it has been ordained by my loving and sovereign God.

It would be easy to read (or type) that sentence and then rush on, but don't. Stop and ponder it for a moment. It's really quite challenging to believe. Seriously. Everything? EVERYthing?

Suffering is an inevitable part of the human experience. Some seem to have more than their "fair share," but really, we all experience it. I don't know what my future holds, but I feel like I can say with a strong degree of certainty that it will contain some joy and some pain. Life always does.

So, why? Why does God allow us to suffer? The short answer is so that He can be glorified in us. Our speaker this weekend (Ann) told us the story of how she had endured several trials in her own life, including her father being murdered many years ago. She said that during a sort of "crisis of faith" (haven't we all had them at some level?), someone used this illustration: he said to picture God going before you in your life with a giant shield. Sometimes he moves it aside and lets things pass because He knows they will be good for us. "This will make Ann more like Me, I'll let that one through." "This will draw Ann closer to me." "I'll use this to reveal myself to Ann."

I like that image of God's giant shield over my life.

Of course, I have no idea of all the things God has shielded me from, the things He has not allowed to pass through, but I'm keenly aware of the things He has let pass. The sufferings. The challenges. The painful experiences. The frightening circumstances. What to make of those? Why does He let those pass?

During some quiet time this weekend, I sat down to read four scripture verses that Ann had referenced. The first was Hebrews 1:3, and I told her later that I never made it to the other three, because I couldn't get out of Hebrews.

This is what Hebrews 2:10 says (emphasis and parenthetical content mine): "It was fitting for Him (God) . . . to perfect the author of their salvation (Christ) through sufferings."

Wow. If God found it fitting to perfect Christ through suffering, who am I that I should be shielded from it? Who am I to question its purpose in my life?

I kept reading into chapter three. "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession." (Heb. 3:1)

Did you notice those two crucial words? "Consider Jesus."

In how many circumstances can those words apply?

As I try to reach the other side of my desert of doubt . . . consider Jesus.

When pain and suffering are my companions . . . consider Jesus.

When I am tempted to stumble . . . consider Jesus.

When I am filled with grief and despair . . . consider Jesus.

As I live in a fallen world among people I sometimes find difficult to love . . . consider Jesus.

When I struggle to forgive . . . consider Jesus.

What a precious gift of Grace that God gave us a Savior who "was made like His brethren in all things." (Heb. 1:17, emphasis mine) He has walked in my shoes. He has felt what I feel. He has rejoiced and mourned and yearned and even questioned.

Consider Jesus.

As David and I embark on this next leg of our journey - moving to PA and becoming self-employed - we do not know what the future will hold for us. Right now it does not look as if it will involve an immediate resounding success. As I was talking with a friend this weekend and explaining how, despite the the doubt-inducing circumstances around us, neither of us truly questions whether this is the right thing to do - how David and I both have strong peace that this is where the Lord is leading us - I found myself saying this: "I know that God is not leading us to Pennsylvania to starve to death."

As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized they were wrong. I do not know that at all.

Of course, realistically I don't think there's much chance that we will literally starve (or freeze!) to death, but the fact remains; I do not know. But, this much I do know: God is sovereign, and He has a purpose for everything that He allows in my life. If through some unlikely turn of events, we were to starve to death, God would be glorified. His purposes will not be thwarted, and all that He ordains for me is good.

If I do suffer and die, I'm in good company. Consider Jesus.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Becoming best friends

I have been astounded lately at how well Ethan and Lauren have been getting along together while Josh is at school. Not that Josh causes the problems, but when it's just these two in the mix, the dynamic is so different.

They are by nature more easy going and way less intense. Consequently, when they fight, they are quick to forgive each other and to switch from crying/hitting to laughing/hugging in a heartbeat. Yesterday they had been fighting over some of those little velvety poster things that you color with markers. I told them to hug and apologize, and they left my bedroom saying to each other, "I love you, Ethan" "I love you, Lauren" "I love you, Ethan" "I love you, Lauren" repeatedly as their irritation dissolved into delightful giggles.

These two are only 17 months apart, so it stands to reason that they would be close, but prior to Josh's starting school, the dynamic sort of always went "the boys" and "Lauren." Now, it's great because Ethan and Lauren get "alone" playtime in the morning, and in the afternoon, it's all about boy time. The boys will play in the woods for hours, while Lauren tires of that after about 20 minutes or so.

It will be interesting to see what next year is like when Josh and Ethan are both in school!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

File under: Odd pickup lines

I was talking to someone in my small group tonight about how it's sometimes hard to decide whether to "accept a friend" on Facebook. You know, sometimes you have NO idea who the person is . . . the name doesn't ring a bell, their profile picture is a pic of their dog, so that's no help, but apparently you have like 27 mutual friends, so you figure you must know the person, right?

So, tonight after having that conversation, I come home and put the kids to bed and get back to work packing get on Facebook. I had a "friend request" from some guy named Dean Scott with the most unexpected message ever:

"Hi! I see you are a Calvinist!! If you are also single or know any Reformed singles, they may be interested in this website...."

I've heard some bad pickup lines in my life, but "Hi! I see you are a Calvinist!!" is definitely a new one.

Plus, I'm not sure where he got the idea that I'm a Calvinist. I've always liked Hobbes just as much.

And, wouldn't everyone who's married be considered a "reformed single?"

(You really should start paying better attention to the labels before reading my posts. I TOLD you this was random.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Soccer begins again

The boys' first soccer practice for Spring season was last week. But, last week I took video and don't feel like uploading it because I'm tired from all the packing. So, tonight at the boys' second soccer practice I took a few still shots. Because it's less trouble, and I'm tired.

This season their coach has them running laps at the beginning of practice, which I think is a hilarious thing to watch.

Joshua, being super competitive by nature (I swear he was aiming for "world's most overdue baby" when he was born), pushes himself hard and finishes at the front of the pack each time. (He may be first each time if other kids didn't cut corners. He's a rule follower, so he stays outside the red line like he's supposed to.) You can see the focus and concentration on his face, and he finishes with very little left in him.

Ethan, on the other hand, is often the sole inhabitant of his own little world, and lap-running is no exception. He "runs" with a grin on his face the whole time. He sort of lolligags around the field, looks around to see if everyone else is still running, waves when he passes me, and couldn't care less that he is the last one finished each time. He's just having a grand old time.

And, I love these things about both of them.

File under brag: Last week, they had a pretty long scrimmage at the end of practice. As I said, it was the season's first practice, and the kids were all pretty beat by then and began to fall out one by one. Joshua, Ethan, and the coach's son were the "last ones standing" by the end of the scrimmage, and the coach rewarded them with a pack of Starburst tonight.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Perhaps Breyers should head back to the drawing board

As I was grocery shopping this afternoon, I found myself on the ice cream aisle. I was heading for the frozen waffles, but in a moment of weakness began to consider buying some ice cream. "Maybe just a 'light' kind," I thought to myself.

Then I walked past this carton of Breyer's Double Churn. Unfortunately for them (but fortuitously for me), it's written in cursive, so at a glance I thought it said "Breyer's Double Chin Ice Cream."

That was all it took. I am happy to report that I left with no ice cream and only one chin. Sorry, Breyer's folks. You really ought to consider using a print font instead.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What a difference a year makes

On this day one year ago, I had life-saving surgery. At this exact time last year, I was lying in an ICU bed, throwing up from the morphine pump (bad idea), in and out of consciousness, having no idea whether it was day or night.

As I get ready for our church's women's retreat this weekend, I can't help but think back on this time last year. It was a Sunday afternoon when I pulled into the driveway returning from last year's retreat and found David standing in the driveway with my nephrologist's home phone number and a message to call him as soon as I got back in town. It was all a whirlwind after that.

I was laughing this week about how a friend from church who is a personal trainer almost killed us at last year's retreat when she led some of us in one of her famous workout sessions. I meant it only figuratively but had no idea at the time how literal it really was. Two days after that workout (from which I could barely move for a week!) I was sitting in the cardiovascular surgeon's office being told not to exercise at all because there was already too much strain on my heart when I was at rest. Exercise would be very dangerous. Who knew?

Looking back at all the ways God's gracious hand was on me, I am just amazed. He was in the details:

The head surgical nurse at the hospital where my surgery took place is a good family friend, and when she got to work that morning, she took me and David back with her so we did not have to wait to be called back. She was my nurse during the procedure and the one who gave me my i.v.

My anesthesiologist was someone I knew from church, and though I didn't know him well at the time, he and his family would become important friends to me, David, and the kids over the following months.

The surgeon who assisted Dr. Burdette went to church with - and was good friends with - my brother and sister-in-law.

All three of these people came into my pre-op area separately and prayed with me.

I spent several days in the ICU before being moved to a regular room. After my first night in my new room, I pressed the nurse call button to ask for some medication and found myself speaking to a close family friend whom I have known since I was a kid. I didn't know she worked there (she worked at Doctor's Hospital when I delivered all of my children there!), and she didn't know I was in the hospital. Turns out that she was my nurse for the next two days, and when I was discharged, she wheeled me out so David and I did not have to wait for the usual lengthy discharge procedure.

The details. The little things that make the difficult things more bearable.

Family. They took care of my children when I could not.

Friends. They fed and cared for David and me when I could not.

And, now a year has gone by, and as I type David is negotiating what we hope will be a contract on a house in Pennsylvania. It seems that one year to the day after having my life saved, we are finally finding a new home for the next adventure in our lives.

I realize this is sort of a rambling post on a subject I've probably visited far too often, but it was a defining part of my life this year. I've always known God in the big things, and in this ordeal, I met Him in the details.

I shudder to think how easily I could have missed Joshua starting school, Josh and Ethan playing soccer, Lauren taking gymnastics and lighting up the world of everyone she knows, and my husband taking the plunge he's always dreamed of and moving back home to hang up his shingle.

Thank you, God, for allowing me to remain a pilgrim here a little longer.

In Honor of Valentine's Day

There are always lots of lists/quizzes/surveys floating around Facebook. This one is about how well you know your spouse, so I thought I'd write about David in honor of this day where we celebrate the one we love. Let me know how I did, honey.

1. He's sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen?
some episode of Star Trek or Star Wars

2. You're out to eat; what kind of dressing does he get on his salad?
house or some type of vinaigrette

3. What's one food he doesn't like ?

4. You go out to eat. What drink does he order?
water with lime

5. Where did he go to high school?
Coudersport Jr/Sr High

6. What size shoe does he wear?

7. If he was to collect anything, what would it be.

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich?
roast beef with pepper jack cheese

9. What would he eat every day if he could?
cookies in milk

10. What is his favorite cereal?
cinnamon toast crunch

11. What would he never wear?

12. What is his favorite sports team?
not a huge sports watcher, but a Steelers fan and (dare I even type it?!) a Yankees fan

13. Who did he vote for?

14. Who is his best friend?

15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do?
be so grumpy when I'm trying sleepy

16. What is his heritage?
german/scottish . . . same as mine

17. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind of cake?
red velvet with cream cheese frosting

18. Did he play sports in high school?
Yes - wrestling, track, and football

19. What could he spend hours doing?
buying things on ebay or operating his trains

20. What is one unique talent he has?
he's an excellent trumpet player (trumpeter?)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Some random photos

This is one of those no-thinking posts. Against my better judgment, I drank a coke at the movies tonight. No sleep for me.

Someone sent me some beautiful tulips for Valentine's Day. (I took this yesterday, and they've actually blossomed much more today, but I forgot to take another picture.)

Joshua is always making something. Here he and Ethan are making cement out of mud:

Now, he's implementing some type of pulley system because he's going to build a bridge with the cement:

Ethan hamming it up:

Lauren LIVES in dress-up clothes these days. If she's at home, it's highly unusual to find her wearing normal clothes. She's in costume pretty much every waking hour. Here's the tutu she turned into a headdress yesterday:

These are Ethan and Lauren in gym class. Parents are not allowed inside the gym area, so I had to take the pictures through the glass, which led to less-than-stellar pics. Ethan is in the 1st pic in a Disney t-shirt, and Lauren is in 2nd pic in a red and silver leotard. (None of the pics where she was actually doing gymnastics turned out at all.)

Saw an interesting movie tonight and have many thoughts on it. Will try to post them tomorrow if I can get it in between church, taking Josh to a birthday party, picking up Ethan and Lauren from the 2 different places they'll be staying during the party, and making my house look more like a home and less like a hurricane site that left as debris boxes and newspapers instead of seashells and mud. In other words, don't hold your breath, but sometime soon, I have things to say about He's Just Not That Into You.

Friday, February 13, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

I have no time to do this today, yet here I sit. My house is full of boxes, some packed, some empty. Cabinets are half-empty, half-strewn all over my kitchen. Joshua decided that today needed to be arts and crafts day in our household, so he has filled the living room with all manner of pine cones, ribbons, glue, construction paper strips, etc. And, here I sit just for you. And because I needed a break. You can thank me later.


Ethan overheard me talking to David the other day about a house he had looked at in PA. Ethan said, "Mommy, I don't want to move." This was a change. He's been excited about the move. "Why not," I queried? "Because Aunt Nae has a Playstation." Ah, I see.


Speaking of cute kid sayings, the following is funny but makes perfectly logical sense when you consider that we buy toys at the toy store, groceries at the grocery store, and pets at the pet store.
As we walked past the tempting looking candy machines while leaving gymnastics Wed night:
Lauren: Mommy, can we get some candy?
Me: No, Lauren, not tonight.
Lauren: Why not?
Me: Well, because you don't need any and because I don't have any change.
Lauren: Do you have any dollars?
Me: No, I don't have any money at all right now.
Lauren: I wish we could just to to the dollar store and get some dollars.


One good thing about packing one's house to move . . . unexpected finds.

While packing up David's closet yesterday, I came across his laptop bag from law school. In it, I found a "Happy 1st Anniversary" card from David's parents. In that, I found . . . drumroll, please . . . a FIFTY dollar bill!

So, thanks Mom and Dad R. It couldn't have come at a better time. :)


I had to start back on blood pressure medicine yesterday. Don't know why, but my bp has decided to creep up again after I've been completely med-free for over two months.

I'm sure it has nothing to do with the stress of my life right now. Sadly, I can't even blame it on the dog since I gave him away.


Have any of you tasted your kids' valentine hearts? Those heart-shaped sweet-tart wannabes with the little messages on them?

I remember liking these when I was a kid, but I ate one a couple of days ago and, oh my gosh, the horror! It tasted like I was eating solidified dentist flouride. And, it was not just me. My cousin was here and tasted one, too, after seeing my horrified reaction. (Because, for some reason, that seems to be what people do when someone says, "Taste this; it's disusting.")

He agreed. These are not the "sweet-hearts" of our youth.


Oh, we survived the house inspection. Despite my fear that the inspector guy was going to hand me a copy of our contract with a giant red X over it, we seem to be still on track to close on March 6.

A few minor things need doing, but nothing too bad. Though, if you look at the 14-page report from the inspector, it sounds at first glance as though the house needs to be condemn postehaste. Nothing to humble a person like seeing magnified close-up shots of the rust at the base of your water heater, or worse a photo of the pipes UNDER MY KITCHEN SINK.

Not that there's anything wrong with the pipes, but how embarrassing to see a photo of all the unorganized, cluttered mess of cleaning supplies and flashlights and even a plunger under our kitchen sink.

(Don't worry, it's not the toilet plunger. It's the kitchen sink plunger. Yes, we have one because we needed one. Once. I wouldn't let David use the bathroom one, so I insisted on buying one just for the sink. We've never needed it again, but now we have one, so I won't let anyone use it in the bathroom. Now, it's just there for Mr. Inspector Man to see and photograph and probably hope we never invite him to dinner.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pro-life message through an unlikely medium.

I hate hip-hop. Nevertheless, I'm glad my friend Ben found this great video. It's made by Nick Cannon (Mariah Carey's husband) and appears to be the story of his own mother's difficult decision. Check it out, as they say in hip-hop land.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reason #846 I will not be winning Mommy of the Year 2009

(Yes, I know that's a pretty big number considering it's only February. Just keepin' it real.)

#846 - Put out public request for a babysitter on Facebook. I'm sure this will not only preclude me from winning any parenting awards this year, but probably also come back to haunt me when I run for Senate someday:

"It has just come to light that senatorial hopeful Rebecca Ross once exhibited an extreme lack of judgment when she put out a public call asking for anyone she knew (or whom she had ever known . . . or who knew someone she knew . . . or whose name sounded vaguely familiar, so she clicked "accept friend request" . . . or whose name didn't even sound familiar but who had a hot-looking profile photo . . . just kidding on the last one, dear) to babysit her three and four year old children. Can she be trusted to run our government?"

I'll take comfort in knowing that the first 845 reasons would probably have kept me out of the running anyway.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I think my blog is schizophrenic

Or maybe it has multiple personality disorder. What do I know? Despite anything I may have claimed over a pomegranate martini, I have not been to med school.

You may have noticed that when you come to my blog, you never know what you're going to get. Sometimes I write pensive or spiritually-oriented posts; other times I write silly or sarcastic humor-column wannabes. Sometimes, I skip the thinking altogether and just post pictures of my kids and add a little mommy tripe.

So, now I have a question for you, dear readers. Yes, both of you. Should I split this into two blogs? One "serious and spiritual" and one "funny at least to Becky," or should I just leave it as it is? Does it annoy you never to know what you'll get when you click on my blog, or do you just skip the stuff you don't like?

Let me know. It's important to me what my readers think. I would hate to alienate either of you. Especially the one that's not my mom.

It Doesn't Seem Like You're Coming

Lauren has said this to me several times recently. For example, a few days ago:

Lauren: Mommy, come see what I made.
Me: Okay, just a sec.
Lauren: Mommy, come seeeeeee.
Me: I'm coming.
[Long pause as I do not stop what I am doing and head toward her room]
Lauren: It doesn't seem like you're coming.

Given that she's three, I found it pretty cute. She's three-going-on-twenty, so I am often surprised by the phrases she uses.

The more I think about this one, though, the more I realize how much I can relate.

David and I, as you've heard ad nauseum, are in the process of moving to Pennsylvania. Or trying to, anyway. First David had to find a job. Check. Then we had to sell our house. Took awhile, but check. Now we have to find a place to live. No check yet.

I believe very strongly that God has directed our hearts toward this small town in the Allegheny Mountains. I have felt His Spirit stirring in me a sense of hope and excitement that I never dreamed possible. Six years ago the thought of moving there caused only fear and trepidation and more than one bout of hyperventilation.

But, God proved faithful. He kept us here just long enough for doctors to save my life. He provided a job for David just when it became clear that he needed to get out of the job he was in. He brought a buyer for our house at exactly the right moment.

And, now here we sit; Ready to close on the sale of this house in less than four weeks, but with no home to which to move. I find myself thinking like Lauren. "God, it doesn't seem like You're coming."

I am continually amazed by how my spiritual perception shifted when I became a parent. It's like God took my own spirit out of me, put skin on it, and called it my child. So many of the things my kids say and do are exact expressions of my inward spirit.

They whine. They're ungrateful. They worry. They forget the good and dwell interminably on the bad. They have no idea how big the world they live in really is. They are self-centered. They want it their way, and they want it now.

Sounds just like me. When will I learn? God is not only coming; He's been here all along.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Isn't Valentine's Day supposed to be about romance?

I don't understand how kids got involved in Valentine's Day at all. Isn't this holiday supposed to be about love of the romantic kind? I mean, I get that we live in a culture where we try to avoid excluding anyone from anything. Ever. But, seriously, what does Valentine's Day have to do with kids?

I know. We handed out Valentine cards when we were in school, too. This ritual, however misguided, is nothing new.

(Note: This was, by the way, before schools created these rules where you must give one to every child or you can't give them out at all. Whatever happened to the hurt feelings and bitterness that were the essence of an elementary school valentine card exchange when I was a kid? That whole Charlie Brown thing wasn't just fiction. And, seriously, if we want to get kids involved in a "romantic" holiday at a young age, we might as well let it be something that will prepare them for what life will be like when actual "romance" is involved. Make everyone give them a card now, and they'll just be in for an ugly rude awakening come high school.)

So, anyway, the big party day at school is Wednesday. I've been planning to take Josh to Walmart and pick out some cards . . . probably Tuesday. On the way home from soccer practice when we should be eating dinner. Because I will have forgotten until then, and that's why God made Taco Bell.

So, here I was lying in bed last night looking through Parenting magazine, and I saw an article about "Valentine's Day Craft Ideas." What follows is one of those ideas. (Don't bother reading the whole thing - just pay attention to the parts I put in red and my own commentary, added free of charge, in blue.)

Hand-painted clay pots and saucers filled with Valentine candy are a sweet treat for your child's teacher, grandparent, friend, or even for mom! Create endless design combinations with just a few simple tools and techniques.
Age: 3 and up (This project is rated VERY EASY to do.) (Yeah, I know a lot of 3 year-olds who can do this.)

What you need
(Any craft that involves NINE supplies is not getting filed under "very easy" in my book.)

  • Terra cotta clay pots in various sizes
  • acrylic paints: pinks, reds, purples, white
  • Valentine stickers
  • paint brushes, one small and one medium
  • new pencil (Why the heck would it have to be a new pencil?)
  • household sponge
  • acrylic sealer spray, matte finish (Again, this craft is for a THREE YEAR OLD?!)
  • lace (optional)
  • raffia and/or ribbon (optional) (I had no idea what raffia was, so I looked it up, and the article says it is like hemp! Dude, a craft for a three year old should not involve pot.)

What you do
1. Paint clay pot in desired color and let dry. Apply a second coat, and if needed (especially with lighter colors), a third coat as well, allowing sufficient drying time in between coats. Paint inside and outside of pot. (This is only step one, and it already would have taken like hours.)

2. Once painted, it's time to decorate! Here are some ideas to make your pot look great:
* To give your pot a polka dot design, use the eraser of a new pencil and dip into desired paint color. Dab once to remove excess and dot onto pot. Each polka dot will need a new application of paint. For smaller dots, use the end of a paintbrush applying with the same method.

* A household sponge can be used to add a contrasting color. Wet the sponge and squeeze out all excess water. Dab into paint then dab off excess onto a piece of paper towel. Use a dabbing motion to sponge on a light coat of contrasting color.

* Stripes can be applied by simply loading a small paintbrush with paint and painting downward. Stripes do not need to be perfect, so don't fret if you "go outside the lines" so to speak. (Thanks for that heads-up. Without it, I may have fretted.)

* Stickers can be used to decorate your pots. Stick over dry paint and press firmly to be sure they adhere.

* You can tie ribbon or raffia into a bow and glue to the front of your pot, or tie around the rim. Hot glue will work better than white glue for adhering ribbon or raffia to the front of the pot.

* Lace can also be used to accent your pot. Glue lace around the rim for a fancy finish.

3. Once decorated, apply a coat or two of acrylic sealer and allow to dry overnight.

4. Fill with various candy and enjoy your creations!

I'd like to note, for the record, that I didn't put the "VERY EASY" at the beginning in all caps myself. It was all-capped already, so apparently whoever wrote this REALLY believes that this is a "VERY EASY" craft. I think she must have been smoking some raffia.

Now, admittedly, I'm not the crafty type. Hot glue guns and me . . . we don't mix. (Well, actually we usually do, and that's what causes the burns.)

So, imagine my horror to learn recently that handing out those little store-bought valentine cards has become passe. Nowadays, moms MAKE things like heart shaped crayons, bookmarks, and apparently painted terra cotta planters filled with candy.

I hate to break it to my kid, but the only thing his mom makes are trips to Walmart.

Don't worry, I still encourage creativity and craftiness in my kids even though I lack them. I will let him choose his own store-bought cards. I'll even let him pick what color he uses to write all the kids' names on them. Heck, I might even bust out and let him tape a lollipop to each one.

But, that's IT! I will not buy card stock or lace or sparkles or hot glue sticks, and I sure as heck won't buy terra cotta planters . . . or pot.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday


I know it's not Friday, but what can I say? I'm a little off in more ways than just the date.


I love that my kids call Redi-Whip "whippy cream." I think I'll keep it even if they start saying it correctly.


A couple of days ago I walked into my bedroom and found Lauren ankle-deep in cotton balls.

Joshua was yelling, "MOM! Lauren dumped out your whole bag of fake marshmallows!"

Yes, I keep them hidden in my bathroom drawer for those times I have fake sugar cravings.


Joshua missed two days of school this week thanks to Gaggy Cough Fest 2009. Yesterday when I was writing a note asking the school to excuse his absences, I had one of those moments when one's idiotic vanity comes shining through.

I re-wrote his note four times because I really hate my handwriting. I know . . . sad. But, in my defense, he's in kindergarten, and handwriting's a big deal there, you know. I don't want my kid being prejudiced against because of his mom's lousy handwriting. Just lookin' out for my kid, that's all.


Lauren sings constantly. All day long, she plays and makes up songs. A few days ago, this is what she was singing (perfectly to the tune of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:"

". . . and then the people were very afraid.
But, God told them not to be afraid
If they were they would get in trouble.
They would not get to eat any treats . . ."

She seems to have inherited my songwriting skills. And my astounding grasp of theology.


At the moment she is really trying to get my attention. She wants me to be her ballet teacher. Amazingly, I am able to keep her happy with the following:

Me: Go to the living room and do four twirls.
She does so.
Lauren: Mommy, I did it. What do I do now?
Me: Go to your room and do six toe-touches.
She does so.
Lauren: Mommy, I did six. Now what?
Me: Go do 11 hops, then twirl three times . . .

It's sort of like Fetch, only better. I know, I should write parenting books, right?


My mom is coming over today to help me throw out a bunch of David's stuff clean out the garage. Once that's done, I should be able to start packing and actually have a place to put the boxes. Inspection is on Tuesday, so once that's done, I will start to pack this place up. Move-out is in T-27 days!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why I Don't Work from Home

People are often surprised to learn that I am a lawyer. After all, who would give up a hard-earned legal career to stay at home and wipe noses and eat peanut butter and jelly crusts for lunch? A question I ask myself daily.

Of course, the question that usually follows is have I ever thought of working from home?

The following is part of the answer to that question. It is my hope that perhaps some poor, well-intentioned young mom may read this and save herself the trouble of even trying to have a career from home. Some of the reasons are specific to being a lawyer, but most of them can be applied to any profession. Learn from my experience, and don't waste your time.

Eight Reasons You Shouldn't Even Bother Trying to Work from Home


You cannot make phone calls.

Children are born with a radar that alerts them to the fact that mommy is on the phone. The moment mommy says "hello" or finishes dialing a number, all of your children will begin to scream, cry, and fight with each other so that to the person on the other end of the phone, it sounds not like a lawyer's office, but a very poorly monitored daycare center. Or maybe Abu Ghraib.


You cannot fax things because the fax machine is stuck at the top of a closet behind approximately 26 board games. And fifteen pairs of shoes that your oldest child outgrew and you saved for your younger child but forgot about, so now said younger child's foot has grown past that size, and the shoes don't fit anyone. But, they're perfectly good shoes, so you don't want to toss them. You'll give them to a friend. Someday.


You cannot sit down and use the computer. There are numerous reasons for this. The first is because the sensor that alerts them to mommy's phone use also alerts them every time mommy's butt touches a surface. The surface could be anything - the couch, the computer chair, the potty . . . doesn't matter. Mom sits; alarm sounds.

(Perhaps you say to yourself, "Hmm. If she has time to write this blog, surely she could find time to write something that's actually productive." Seriously, if you think long posts like this get written in one sitting, you clearly are insane don't have three children.)

Another reason you can't get work done on the computer is because your children will have accidentally changed all of your settings while playing DragonTales on the pbskids website. It will take hours to make your computer function again, days to figure out how to make the toolbar be at the top of the screen again instead of the side, and possibly weeks to make your font appear at normal size again.


Even if you did manage to find time to sit at a properly functioning computer without constant interruption by your children, you've forgotten most of the extensive vocabulary you had before you gave birth. Words like "extrapolate" and "juxtapose" have been pushed aside by words like "poop" and "binky." The brain is a muscle, you know; it'll atrophy just like the rest of them. What, it's not a muscle? See, like I said . . .


Let's say, despite your having a snowball's chance in hell, you somehow managed to use the computer for more than 3 consecutive minutes AND remembered how to use the English language beyond a second grade level. Don't think for a second you've outsmarted those little spawn of yours.

You may have typed a document, but you will never be able to print it. Why? Because you will NEVER find paper for the printer. You children will have used all of it printing out 283 copies of "How to Draw Yoda" from starwars.com.


Now, let's put aside all rational thought for a moment and imagine that you did talk some unsuspecting fool into letting you represent them. Your next problem is that you'll never be able to go to court. There are several reasons for this:

1. You will spend as much on a babysitter as you will earn for one measly court appearance.

2. You haven't been to court in so long your suits don't fit anymore. (For some people this is because they have gained weight, and their suits are too small. This concept is foreign to me because gaining weight requires both eating and sitting down, two activities I only vaguely recall from my pre-child years. My suits are all too big.)

3. You'll find only one of your heels because your daughter will have lost the others somewhere in her abyss of dress-up clothes.


Even if you're a more capable person than I (which is not hard to be), and you could somehow make this whole "home office" thing work, you won't actually be allowed to give legal advice anymore because you haven't made it to enough CLE's to maintain your bar license.

This is despite that fact that, while most attorneys dislike attending CLE's (continuing legal education), you view them as a long-awaited vacation and would willingly attend them weekly if possible. An entire day. No kids. Free food. (Well, sort of free . . . technically you paid several hundred dollars for it when you signed up for the course.) But, did I mention no kids? For an entire day?


Another reason you can't give legal advice - even free of charge - is because whenever someone asks you a legal question, it only makes you feel stupid. After five years of spending every waking hour with no one over the age of six, you no longer know the difference between a tort and a tart. You couldn't define consideration if your life depended on it.

If you happen to stumble onto a case that hinges upon knowing in an instant whether a particular transformer is an autobot or a decepticon, you'll be useful. Otherwise, just go make another peanut butter and jelly sandwich and turn on Word Girl.

Maybe you'll learn something.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Guess who dressed herself

I told Lauren to get dressed for Gaga's house last night, and this is what she came out in.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Labeling puzzle pieces

Last month I wrote a post about how difficult it is to put together a puzzle without knowing what the finished picture is supposed to look like. Seeing the spiritual application, I pontificated about how we often try to put together the puzzle pieces of our own lives instead of trusting God, Who sees the finished picture.

As insightful as I thought that was, I hadn't yet realized the depths of my benightedness.

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster in our lives. Quit job. Go to Pa. Find buyers for house in Ga. Lose buyers for house. Find new buyers for house. Find house to buy in Pa. Can't afford it; find different house to buy. Not available yet . . .

These are all pieces of our puzzle right now, and I'm trusting that God will put each piece in its proper place. I realized something else this past week, though.

Not only do I have no idea how to assemble the pieces of my own puzzle, but I also realized I have this absurd habit of trying to label the pieces I'm handed as "good" or "bad."

Got a buyer . . . good piece.
Lost the buyer . . . bad piece.
Got an offer . . . good piece.

You get the idea.

It reminded me of a story I once read in a Max Lucado book. It's sort of long, so I'll try to paraphrase:

Once there was a man in a tiny village. Although poor, he owned a beautiful white horse. Many people offered to buy the horse, but he would not sell it. One morning the horse was gone, and the villagers scoffed. "You old fool, we told you that someone would steal your horse. It would have been better to have sold him. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable.

That is all we know; the rest is judgment.”
The people of the village laughed and thought that the man was crazy.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest.
Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”

The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that
a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”

The old man had a son, an only son, who began to break the wild horses. After a few
days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments. “You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse." Of course, the old man tried again to set them straight.

A few weeks later the country went to war. All the young men of the village were required to join the army except the son of the old man because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken.

“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Yours son’s
accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”

I think you get the point.

Well, maybe. I first thought the point was this: How silly we are to think that we can label the pieces of our lives as "good" or "bad."

But, God takes it farther than that. We can label the pieces, He says. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 (emphasis mine) Every piece is good because it is placed by the One Who created our picture in the first place.

Some pieces will be painful, no doubt, but we can trust that God has a purpose for those pieces even if we can't see what it is. "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I Thes. 5:16-18

It may not sound as Biblical, but you know what they say . . . it's all good.