Thursday, April 21, 2011

Things I don't do

Things I Don't Do
1. cloth diaper
2. breastfeed
3. grow a garden
4. buy organic produce and meat
5. eat veggies every day, or force Coralie to
6. avoid junk like sugars and refined carbs


I don't do those things. Maybe my life would be better if I did. Maybe my family's life would be.
Being a mom can be brutal. There is judgment on every block, including my own. I can feel bad about my choices or I can own them.

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Things I Do
1. Believe every good and perfect gift (and there are a ton!) is from the Lord
2. Admire my husband and our two children
3. Seek to use our home to maintain and grow relationships
4. Dedicate time to serving in our church
5. Keep a clean, organized home
6. Read
7. Write
8. Try: to be a good wife, a good mom, a good friend, and a good me

****************
If I could choose one list to DO, it would be the second one. I am proud of that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Duh

I was an English teacher.

Was.

Nothing I write needs to be graded, even by me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's a musical, of course

Coralie and our neighbor Victoria play together most afternoons. Coralie adores Victoria, as do I. She is so sweet and is the perfect "older girl" for my daughter to look up to.

The other day the girls put on a play for Madeline and me. They re-enacted it the next day, and this time I was armed with the video camera.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Perspective

Another musing that has been rattling around:


Someone Ryan used to work with (let's call him Hudson because I like that name) recently resigned from his job. He wasn't fired per se, but it was pretty clear that there wasn't a position for him in the new restructuring. Hudson's wife was also recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

I feel bad for Hudson. Hudson feels bad for Hudson.

Ryan had lunch with Hudson the other day, and Hudson was sharing how hard things are for him right now. A sick wife, no job, it's horrible, right?

(Side note: I no longer like the name Hudson. Thank heavens I wasn't asked to name a son in the past five minutes!)

Ryan was shocked that Hudson was feeling depressed. Ryan said, "Look. You already paid off your mortgage. You don't need income right now because your wife has a great job and great insurance. Your wife's cancer was caught so early there is almost no chance of it becoming something really ugly. And you get to take care of your wife while she recovers from this surgery, right?"

Hudson said, "So?"

Ryan said, "Isn't your being out of work right now the BEST POSSIBLE situation for you guys?"

Hudson had to agree, because Ryan is always right.

While I hate that Hudson and his wife are facing job loss and cancer, Ryan IS right--there are more things to be thankful for right now than not.

I don't have some brilliant thought to end this. I wish I did, but I fear the blog would become pithy instead of a place for me to think.

Our pastor said something on Sunday that I think applies. He was referencing all of the "renewing your mind" passages and said this:
"We can't change our hearts, but we can change our minds. And God won't change our minds, but He will change our hearts once we change our minds."

I want to know the basic difference between Ryan and Hudson, and I can't put my finger on it. But if I had to be one of them, I would like to be Ryan.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The magic of lately

The purpose of this blog is not to post about my kids all the time; rather, it is for me to process more important thoughts that I only have time to glance at during the day, to preserve my sense of identity outside of being a wife and mom, and to practice my writing.

However. My kids are MAGICAL, and I do want to write about them.

I am so proud of Coralie-- she is so sweet to Madeline and truly loves her. Last week, Coralie asked to finish feeding Mads her bottle. Now, Madeline is not a piece of cake to feed; she slaps at everything and would rather do anything than eat.


I agreed to let Coralie try to feed her, knowing things could go south very quickly. Coralie actually did a pretty good job, as only about half of the bottle drooled out of Mads' mouth.

Anyway, at one point Madeline started grabbing at Coralie's face, and Coralie-- in all seriousness-- looked up and said, "She was trying to honk me!" SO CUTE.

(We're not the only family that honks noses, are we?)

Madeline, in turn, adores Coralie. She lets Coralie do everything short of torture and just giggles in response. My favorite thing to overhear is when I put Coralie in Madeline's crib and Coralie entertains the heck out of Madeline with a blanket and a made-up song.



Madeline's laugh is the sweetest sound on earth.

I didn't know babies came this easy. Coralie was not an easy baby, or toddler for that matter. She impresses me daily with her intelligence, thoughtfulness, vocabulary, beauty, and energy. I know every mother thinks her daughter is the superlative of the above, but I am the one who is most right. :)

Madeline asks almost nothing of us. She will cry if we walk away after playing with her or wait too long to feed her, but other than that, she's cool with the world. A-mazing baby.

She goes everywhere happily, even if it means skipping a nap. Who knew babies did that?
I. love. my. girls. They are the most special children God ever made, and I am so happy to share in their lives.

Timing

When I think of God's timing, I think of one-liners I've heard throughout my life, like "God's timing isn't our timing" and "God's never late; He's always right on time." But while those are helpful to remember when I am impatient, they seem to. . . fall short? be incomplete? I don't know. . . they seem empty.

I think one of the best examples of God's timing not making sense to me is in I Samuel (can you tell that is where I am doing my daily Bible reading right now??) when Saul does something else that angers God. I think this specific case is when Saul offered a sacrifice to God without waiting on Samuel. God tells Samuel that He will remove his blessing from Saul's kingship and that Samuel should anoint David instead. Samuel obeys. Then, nothing. . . for years. (I guess it's years? The Bible isn't clear on this.)

Anyway, Saul is still king, and David plays his harp for Saul and fights Saul's battles for him. Then comes David and Goliath, Saul's incredible jealousy of David, and David's flight for his life. THEN David is made king.

It seems like David was so swiftly anointed that God would have, just as swiftly, removed Saul from the throne and put David there. When you start something with that kind of speed, you usually finish it with that kind of speed, right?

I think of things I am waiting on: a move back to St Louis (no, I haven't given up on it yet), a child for my sister, time to vacation with friends, life to get easier, etc. I feel like God has started -- and stopped-- these wishes so many times.

I think the takeaway is that God is always working for us, even if it feels like He has stalled out. He will finish what He started.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why I'm proud to be a Kansan

Ryan recently accepted a great job in our current city. Because I am that perfect wife, I was nothing but happy for him! Go Ryan!

Actually, I cried a lot. In truth, I wanted there to be no perfect job here. I wanted it to be in St Louis, where all of our family is.

(There is that dang rooster crowing again. Soundtrack to my day.)

I wanted to have my parents and sister near, both for their friendship and for their help with the girls. I wanted to have Ryan's parents near so that our girls could be close with all four of their grandparents. When Ryan told me about this job, my inner voice (okay, I am ashamed to say that the voice spoke up and vomited all over Ryan) said, "But I am the one cooped up at home! I need the help! You can work and get out of the house no matter where we live, but ME, I want to be free! I am dying in Kansas!" You should know that I am rolling my eyes as I type that drama out. I don't know how Ryan kept from laughing. Maybe it was my angry tears.

I wanted to be back in St Louis. In reality, though, when I was praying for a move to St Louis, I was limiting God. I was specifically asking for stability and meaningful relationships and joy in staying home. I thought St Louis would provide all of that, not God.

The very week Ryan took the job, we realized our tax return would be hefty. And as Ryan communicated with his then-current employer (who happens to be a very generous man) about his commissions, we realized God was dumping more money in our laps. Not only was Ryan being hired at a very fair wage, but we also found ourselves the recipients of more money than we had ever made, even when we had two salaries. I am only mentioning money (Barbara Bush would not approve) because that is the stability I had been praying for. I know financial stability is an oxymoron, but I am a moron.

Also that week, I was contacted by no fewer than three women who wanted to get together for playdates. I pursued a fellow stay-at-home mom, blind-date fashion, and that relationship has become a real source of joy to me. The meaningful relationships are ramping up here, all while I am maintaining the meaningful ones in St Louis and Denver, where my best friend has moved.

That leaves the joy. God has answered my prayers so thoroughly that I am moved. (No pun intended.) My husband is kind and funny and can bring me joy like no other adult can. My firstborn is the Queen of Sass and makes me laugh. And my sweet, precious baby is named after her aunt. Her middle name, Joy, was divined. That little girl has burst my heart wide open so many times that there is a constant ooze of delight. This joy has nothing to do with latitude and longitude but is found in my own family. If home is where the heart is, why on earth did I long to move?

And, of course, the source of true Joy can be found anywhere. He doesn't move or change. So, again, latitude and longitude find themselves to be irrelevant.

So my Reality has been expanded this month: God is generous, and He is loving. Especially in Kansas.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ode to Barbara

When I first started reading, I did it to win pizza. I can taste that heavenly Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza right now. (I am going to call Ryan and very strongly suggest that we order pizza tonight.) Remember the Book It program?
Somewhere between the Boxcar Children, The Babysitter's Club, and the One Last Wish series, I got hooked, and not just on the pizza.

There are times in my life when I am lucky to finish The Reader's Digest (don't knock it-- that was my precious link to the outside world when Coralie had colic!), and there are times in my life when I am able to read the entire Twilight series in one week. (Who was taking care of my children? WHO?) This is one of those seasons when I am reading random books and loving it.

I just finished Barbara Bush's memoir, and I have to say I adore that woman.

I am actually writing her a letter, thanking her for writing a memoir. Nevermind that's What Former First Ladies Do. She is delightful. I suggest you read her book if you want to read about someone who held an important position but didn't take herself too seriously. She deliberately looked for the good in people, and with a husband in politics, I don't consider that to have been a small feat. She had excellent manners and still maintained quite a bit of spunk. Towards the end of her memoir, she writes a letter to her children containing all sorts of great advice about money, relationships, faith, and food. You can read it here, and I suggest you do.

Ah, where was I? Oh yes, I adore Mrs. Bush. I would like to be her when I grow up. But I would also like to avoid the many public apologies she had to make.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Coralie's Footsteps

Coralie has recently discovered that there is nothing keeping her in bed. For a little over a year, that chick never got out of bed without our permission. A year! CORALIE! The same girl who pushes every limit of her independence didn't once question this limit. We couldn't believe what good parents we were.

Well, she started coming into our room on her own after waking from her afternoon nap. "No problem," we said, "it saves us a trip down the hall to her room to get her ourselves! We would have wanted her to do this anyway; we just hadn't thought of it yet."

(Don't mind our carpal tunnel from patting ourselves on the back. We hear that goes away with time.)

Then Coralie started coming into our room and climbing in bed with us upon waking in the morning. We said, "Again, no problem! This is actually working out swimmingly since we don't have to get out of bed until we're ready!" We tried not to notice as the morning wake times got earlier and earlier and the quiet in-bed snuggling virtually disappeared.

This morning, for example, she shuffled in, blue sock in hand, and climbed up in bed with me. She then commenced playing some sort of kicking and pushing game with her feet and my knees. When that didn't rouse me, she turned her sweet morning breath on me and tried to engage me in conversation. "What's Daddy doing?" (I didn't respond.) A few minutes later: "Is Daddy sleeping, Mommy?" (Nothing.) Then: "Daddy's your husband." (Nothing, though I was fighting a grin.) Finally: "Mommy, can I have some fruit leather?"

"Ok, sweetie, let's get up and get you some fruit leather."

Well, this popping out of bed has started happening in the evenings. I don't know if she isn't tired enough to sleep when we put her down or what, but I swear that kid hops out of bed half a dozen times before finally settling in for the night. Each time, we tell her to get back in bed. We even resort to our Stern, Furrowed-Brow Look and mutely put her back in bed ourselves. But then we giggle to each other about how cute she is and how much she just wants to be with us instead of in bed.

She's being disobedient, I know, but it's sweet. She loves us and wants to be with us. I love that.

I want to think that the Father feels this same way sometimes. That He sees our good even when we disobey and that He understands our conflicts in obeying.

I love hearing Coralie's footsteps in the evening. I want her to obey me, but I find such satisfaction in knowing she loves us and wants to be with us. Maybe that's her sacrifice instead of obedience. But I never once stop loving her through it. And I don't think God stops loving us either.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

One-Upping God

I said I wanted to exercise my God muscle, and He is the one who showed up to the gym! (Was that a bad joke? Yes, that was dorky . . . sorry. . . but it's staying.)

Anyway, He has been making Himself very present in my mind lately, so much so that I have three or four musings that have been rattling around in my head, and I can't seem to think all the way through them. Ryan is home with the girls right now so I can get away from the normal commotion of our house (and the rooster) and think. And also enjoy a mango smoothie from Panera.

The first musing involves a brief passage from I Samuel. Saul, the newly crowned first king of Israel, was told by God to attack a city. God instructed Saul to kill every living being in that city so the Lord would deliver it into Saul's hands. Saul attacked the city, and God made Saul victorious. After the big "W", Saul took the best of the animals and sacrificed them to God. God was furious.

Say what???

God was asking for obedience, and He was pretty clear about what that looked like. Saul did not obey God's instructions.

But I find myself defending Saul anyway.

Saul was doing something even better, wasn't he? It seems so wasteful to kill off everything when it could be USED for God! A pleasing sacrifice! A symbol of God's dominance! A winner's podium of sorts!

But that isn't how God looked at it. God was angry that Saul did what he did. And what did Saul do? He, in essence, one-upped God. Saul thought he knew better than God.

Well, I am obviously not conquering any cities or anything, so I am clearly not in danger of sacrificing animals instead of obeying. Whew.

But I do one-up God, or in other words, I adapt His commands to better suit me. You know, because I know better than God what works.

What? We should take care of widows and orphans? How about INSTEAD I just encourage (verbally, of course! not even financially!) other people to adopt.

We should give money cheerfully? How about instead I just robotically give a portion of my excess.

We should submit to our husbands? How about I instead I push my husband to become someone a little easier to submit to.

I guess that the warm-fuzzies of good intentions don't hold up in front of the Lord. He prefers true obedience and isn't the idiot I pretend He is sometimes.

"To obey is better than to sacrifice. And to heed is better than the fat of rams."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Roosters and such

Oh, for heaven's sake. How am I supposed to make a living blogging if I go 18 months betweens posts?

I even edited the post just below this one because I was embarrassed by its corniness. I can do that because it's my blog, you see. And also because I am probably the only one who will read this.

Anyway, of course a lot has happened since my last post. We now have a 3 year old, and . . . a BABY GIRL! Well, she's 7 months old now, so this announcement is hardly news, but in the interest of full disclosure I felt like I should announce that.

Here's a picture from October. What? You expect this blog to be updated with real-time announcements and pictures?



Both girls are, of course, amazing and amazingly challenging. I decided this morning while Madeline was crying because I made her skip her morning nap (playdates are way more important) and Coralie was begging for food that I am just not a saint. It's weird because my whole life I thought I was a saint (kidding), and this realization really has me ruffled. Which leads me to a more important point.

But before that, the word ruffled has reminded me of our rooster friend that is living on our property. Whaa??? For real, a beautiful rooster has taken up residence on East Pine Meadow Street. And while gorgeous and interesting, he does crow an awful lot. I wonder what he's trying to say all the time.

Back to my serious point. I am ready to talk about God more. And I don't mean preach, but I mean exercise my God muscles . . . I think if I talk about Him more and write about Him more, maybe I'll see what He's doing in my life? I know He's working, really I do, but I think I miss so much of who He is because I don't have that God muscle flexed.

And now that I know I'm not a saint, I can admit that I need God and the fruits of the Spirit to help me mother my precious little girls. Which, I believe, are the most fantastic blessings He has ever given me.