Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cat Fight or Flight

Baby A is going through a phase that either the boys bypassed or I've forgotten.  It goes a little something like this…
We head to the car, I open the door and Baby Girl's head spins and she spews green stuff.  That's an exaggeration, but it gets pretty ugly.  There's thrashing, scratching, screaming, convulsions and that's before I even place her in the car seat.  Once she's seated, and by seated I mean head arched over the back of the seat and legs stiffened as if overcome with rigamortis, there's more thrashing, screeching, tossing and turning.  I literally have to hold her down with one hand while fastening a five-point harness with the other hand.  All the while, she's scratching the top three layers of epidermal cells from my neck and face.  Does she give up?  Of course not!  Unless she's extremely tired, she screams, pulls her hair and scratches herself until we get to our destination.  My car is 9 years old and has the upholstery stains to prove it, but I'm seriously considering having one of those limo privacy dividers installed!  Don't worry.  I'll put a bowl of mints in the back as a courtesy to the big boys.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mini Me

 It's official, I have a copy cat.  I always joke about needing a clone, and while she's definitely not identical, she's a pretty good imitator.
Baby Girl does EVERYTHING that I do!  When I style my hair, she mimics me.  When I do laundry, she's right there.  If I'm sweeping or cleaning, she's wiping right along beside me.  She's always within arm's reach.  It's cute and overwhelming at the same time.  My boys became pretty good at "finding something to do".  Baby A only wants to do what Mommy is doing.  I know one day, the thought of me will be repulsive, so for now I'll just relish the sweet curiosity that keeps her looking to me for inspiration.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Week Re-Cap

Just like last year, I was trucking along posting daily until....Thanksgiving week. Hosting duties aside, if I plan better I can get the hang of it.  :)  That's the story of my life!

On Wednesday, my sisters and father in law came into town.  We had a mexican feast complete with 5 gallons of maragarita mixing in the frozen maragarita machine.    Earlier in the day, I baked desserts and prepped a few vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner.

Thursday morning, I repurposed the tortillas from dinner to make breakfast tacos.  I'd already decided to push back dinner an hour or so to avoid being stressed.  As a consolation prize I served breakfast.

The usual game plan looks something like this: 
Take yeast dough out of the fridge.  It needs to be room temperature before working with it.
Roast sweet potatotes for sweet potato bake.
*This year MC made an apple pie.  We popped it in the oven as the potatoes were finishing up.
Start slow cooking veggies like greens and peas. 
Saute vegetables for dressing and casseroles.
Cook rices, broccoli and pasta.
Assemble cornbread dressing and have it in the oven by 10:30.  (It takes a long time to cook.)
Assemble rice dressing and broccoli casserole.
JB and I  shape the yeast dough into balls and drop into a muffin tin.  We put them aside to rise until around 1:30.
Peel and mash sweet potatoes.  Assemble sweet potato bake.
By 11:30 add other casseroles to the oven.  I usually write down times to keep track of cook times.
MC makes the cranberry sauce.
I prep all of the serving dishes and utensils, set the table and dress, so I'll look presentable for dinner (no night caps allowed).
At around 1:30, we put the rolls in the oven.  Dinner is served when they're golden brown (usually 15 minutes).
This year we ate at 3:00.  It seemed a bit later, but it was worth my sanity.

My sisters help out a ton by keeping the dishes washed and the children preoccupied.

Thursday evening is usually when I put up my Christmas trees and decorate for Christmas.  This year, I decided to put them up early and boy, was that the most brilliant idea ever?!

On Thursday night (and all day Friday)  I relaxed!

Saturday, was more of the same....more relaxation, that is!  Originally, I was anticipating another group of house guests (7 to be exact).  At the last minute, their plans changed.  I was secretly relieved.

That brings us to today:  Sunday.  We had a very normal Sunday.  My sister left this afternoon and we got right back into the swing of the weekend.  We have a very busy few weeks  and I haven't bought any Christmas gifts yet.  I'm thinking of trying to continue the daily postings.    This time I'll try to get ahead of the curve.  Let's see how it works out.

Update:  Operation Att-a-boy was awkward as I expected.  I need more time with this one. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Had Kids

It's okay for your kids to see you make mistakes.  Own up to them; those are teachable moments.

Take your definition of exhaustion and multiply it by 5.  You will feel this at the end of the day.

Your days of sleeping in will soon be over.

Research basic illnesses, symptoms and treatment.  You'll need

Parenting will be a lot like a roller coaster.

Most of your "needs" will become "wants".

Pay attention to details during your kids' transitional periods.  There's no turning back the hands of time.

Handprints are treasures.

Take lots of pictures.

You don't know what you're doing, but there's a pretty big learning curve.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Nothing signals the beginning of the holiday season quite like taking pictures for our annual Christmas card!  What should be a time for capturing all the love and joy of the season usually is a manic, frantic hour (if we're lucky) complete with eye rolls, huffing, puffing, sarcasm, and whining.  The finished product never reflects that side.  By the time it's been cropped and embellished with a little editing magic, I'd say it looks pretty Rockwell-ish.

Today was the day.  I've had to keep rescheduling the shoot because of house guests and other commitments.  That plus, I needed extra time to summon the patience of Job.  I decided last week, that it would either happen this weekend or we wouldn't be sending cards this year.  It takes a few minutes to upload and edit the pictures and order the photo cards; not to mention, addressing and mailing them.  We're fast approaching the  Dec. 1st postmark deadline that I impose on myself every year.

I had the kids wear their photo outfits to church.  (Christmas colors in November?  so what!) and we stopped at a park on the way home.  It's a far cry from my original plan to schlep 40 minutes to the botanical garden, but I figured both backgrounds would have a lot of greenery--who cares?

As we parked, I gave my usual speech.  "If you do what I'm telling you to do this will be quick.  I know you don't want to do it, but I do a ton of things I don't want to do.  It's either now or never."  We didn't have our usual truckload of props (i.e. chairs, ladder, gift wrapped boxes, etc) so that made it a bit easier.  I also wasn't really motivated or inspired to try any creative poses.  However, I completely forgot what a struggle it is to take pictures with toddlers.  Whoa!  The big boys have been  trained to keep their eyes open in the blazing sunlight, give a fake-natural smile, and interpret any other hand gestures that I flashed one-eyed from behind the lens.  Baby Girl, on the other hand, spent the first 10 minutes wailing and clinging on to me for dear life.  We had to give her a few minutes to warm up.  Note to self:  Don't try to do photo shoots during nap time. I snapped a ton and I'm sure I have at least one good one for the photo card.

Honestly I was a little disappointed that we bickered (again) over something instead of taking time to make a pleasant memory. We've all become very comfortable with letting each other know when we don't meet a certain standard.  I'm not proud of that, but on the ride home I also acknowledged that I'm responsible for that tone and attitude.  That attitude precedes other negative attitudes that lead us to the bickering.  I've come up short in some areas and realize that I need to change my way of thinking. 

I'm not the "Att-a-boy" type.  I didn't grow up in that type of house.  I was taught... do what you're supposed to do with or without acknowledgment or reciprocity, because you're supposed to, whether  you like it or not.  The end. Come to think of it, I don't even receive compliments well.  While I appreciate them,  I always feel awkward.  But, I have to recognize that not everyone is wired the way that I am.  I'm going to do an experiment (let's just hope I stick with it).  For the next two weeks, I'm going to let my compliments outnumber my criticisms and critiques.  I want to see what effect, if any it has on the atmosphere.   The truth is, if a few att-a-boys change some att-a-tudes, then they will certainly be worth it!

Just wondering...Does anyone else stumble and fall right after the benediction? 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

One Day At a Time

When I was a child, my mom led a gospel chorus named The Voices of Zion.  Every week (on Tuesday, I think) I waited during rehearsals at church.  I developed a very healthy imagination and crawled under many pews, but I also listened to the lyrics of some of those songs.  Back then I didn't really understand what the messages really meant, but as an adult they are crystal clear.

This is one that comes to mind often.  I can see and hear Mrs. Williams, my mom's friend and one of my favorite teachers, crooning.  It's titled, "One Day at a Time".

I'm only human; I'm just a man
Help me believe in what I could be and all that I am
Show me the stairway
I have to climb
Lord for my sake
Teach me to take
One day at a time

One day at a time, sweet Jesus
That's all I'm asking from you
Give me the strength to do everything that I have to do
Yesterday's gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Help me today
Show me the way
One day at a time.

Could you remember
When you walked among men
Jesus, you know when you're looking below
It's worse now than then
Pushin' and shovin' crowd in your mind
Lord for my sake
Teach me to take
One day at a time

Friday, November 16, 2012


After collapsing into bed last night at 7:30, I thought long and hard about how thankful I am to have chosen to step away from work.  I'm thankful to have a hubby to support the decision.  I tell him often.  
Yesterday, I woke up and baked french toast that I prepped the night before, dressed, packed two lunches and took the boys to school.  My hubby was off for the day to take care of Baby A, so I told him to take the  morning off and just sleep in.  On a normal day, I would have done the morning routine in my pj's and waved goodbye to them as the hubby dropped them off at school on his way to work.

For the next 4 1/2 hours, I volunteered in the tavern speaking and serving snacks.  Just being amongst 24 little people and all of their jerky, body movements and hot breath wore me out.  Some were very disrespectful and just bratty, but most were polite.  A few times I had to suppress the Madea in me.  In my head I was thinking, "Say, Lil' Boy….".  Instead I said, "Excuse me…please…..thank you."  Boy, I was quickly reminded that I keep it real with my kids.  I've even been compared to the mom (Rochelle) on the sitcom "Everybody Hates Chris".  There are definitely some words and faces that I use with my boys that wouldn't fly in the classroom.

My feet and legs ached.  I definitely wore the wrong shoes!  My brain hurt from all of the socializing.  I was physically and mentally exhausted!  I came home and helped MC with homework.  For dinner I defrosted carnitas that I bought at Costco and informed my family to make nachos or tacos.  I couldn't even stay up to watch my favorite t.v. shows!  I barely managed to hit the record button on the DVR.

The biggest disappointments were waking up this morning and realizing that I forgot to tell my hubby to store the leftover meat, meaning it had to be thrown away, and realizing (after the kids left) that I forgot to review MC's spelling words for this morning's test with him.  I immediately thought, "Oh my goodness, there would be no way to remember all of this stuff if I were out of the house all day."  Realistically I can't remember it all at the house either, so I guess it's just a false sense of being in control.

If 7:30 were my bedtime every night, I'd never get anything done.  I do most of my work after 10.  Cooking a hot breakfast.  Nope.  Packing fun lunches.  Nope.  Cooking homemade hamburger buns for dinner.  Nope.  So, all in all, no matter how tough my days are at home (even during the homework hour from hell) it's not as tough as it would be if I were in the classroom.  The benefits aren't too bad either.

What Had Happened Was...

Yesterday's post hung in limbo.  At the end of the day, I remembered I hadn't posted anything yet, but the bed was calling me (louder than the computer).  I spent first half of the day volunteering at school.  JB's grade level transformed the classrooms into Colonial themed areas as they celebrated Colonial Day.
All of the students, teachers and volunteers dressed in period wear and the children rotated throughout the rooms doing period activities like, making candles, playing floor games, making corn husk dolls, bread and butter.  There was an area for sewing and a schoolroom where the children experienced the rigid school environment from the "olden days".
Guess what area I chose to volunteer in?  I was a hostess in the tavern.  We served warm cider and cookies.  After having the kids read a few speeches and tell riddles,  we heard interesting facts from the period.  One of  my favorites was that most weddings were held in June, because most everyone took a bath in May.  The bouquet of flowers carried by brides, in those days, was to camouflage body odor.  When they took baths, everyone used the same tub of water.  Men and boys bathed first, followed by women and babies.  By the end of bath time, the water was so dirty, the expression "Don't throw out the baby with the bath water" was a common phrase.
I was conned into  volunteered be the head hostess/reader so, by the end of the day, my throat as well as my feet were very sore.

JB ended up coming home with me mid-day because he had an upset stomach.  The evening was a blur.  At about 5:30, I really started to feel the burn from waking up, doing the morning routine, volunteering, doing the evening routine, prepping dinner…..At 7:30, I took 2 Benadryl and took my sore throat and sore feet to bed!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Housekeepers are Coming! The Housekeepers are Coming!

I am waiving my white flag;  I surrender.  My house is a total wreck and I've decided to call in the reinforcements.  The housekeepers are coming this morning and what did I spend most of the night doing?  You guessed it...cleaning!  Hopefully this will relieve some of the stress of hosting for the holidays.  I'm going to put my feet up on the ottoman and hold Baby A. 

I'm also going to try to resist giving the ladies bear hugs when they leave.  That would be weird, right? The real challenge will be getting the family to help keep the house clean for a week!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


The boys are growing into their next phase.  I like to call it the "Mom, get away from me because you're totally weird and embarrassing" phase.  I remember feeling the same way about my mother.  She was an older mom and I don't know whether or not she noticed, but I'm certain she didn't care.  Now that it's my turn to be the source of all embarrassment, I constantly find myself justifying my coolness to my kids.  I know it's totally irrational.  It's the equivalent of negotiating a balanced diet with a two year old.  They lack the mental capacity to understand it all and they have the convictions of a mule.

Just this week, simple things like:  having JB  carry his school binder instead of stuffing the 50 pounder into his 75 pound backpack, buying both boys a pair of fleece warm-up pants (which look so comfy I want to try them on) and packing a LunchMaker instead of a Lunchable (Dad did the shopping and I wasn't specific) all sent them cowering.

My hair, any sudden movements or gestures from Baby A, party suggestions...you name it, I'm totally uncool.  What's my response:  to defend my coolness, which ironically is even more uncool.  As awkward as it seems, we haven't crossed over into the "you ruined my life" phase, so I can still manage pretty well.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Me, Myself and I (and Me)

Yesterday afternoon we tagged along with the hubby to pick up his new iPhone.  He wanted to avoid waiting for shipping, so for a few nights he's logged onto the website at exactly 10 pm (apparently that's when they're restocked) and purchased it.  Purchasing it and pre-paying online meant we'd only stop in with the receipt to pick it up.  When we got there, I took one look and opted to stay in the car.  The boys eagerly hopped out and followed their dad in to play with all the gadgets.  They thought it was the coolest place ever.  They even fantasized about working there and having so much fun playing around. They clearly don't understand the concept of work, but maybe the Apple Store should go to the top of the summer vacation list.  Two trips to Disney World didn't elicit that starry eyed gaze.

Anyway, as I parked just outside the store and waited in the car (which in and of itself was a miracle), I did some people watching.   I remember it being one of my mother's favorite past times when she was waiting for someone.

I watched how methodically people filed into and out of the parking lot and store.  I even joked with my hubby, as we were leaving, that it felt like alter prayer or communion at our family's Methodist church.  There the pastor stood before the congregation and periodically motioned and said,"As these go, let other's come."  With that directive, everyone knew exactly what to do.  The lines of parishioners that flanked both walls eventually dwindled down.

As I watched for another half hour, or so, I was amazed at what a narcissistic society we've become (self included).  Everything from parking, to driving, to snapping pictures of everything from the Apple signage on the storefront (presumably to post on Facebook, Twitter or the blogosphere), blared ME, ME, ME.

When did things change?  I guess I've been too wrapped up into "my own thing" to notice.  Wouldn't the world be a different place if  everyone took a few moments each day to do something for someone other than themselves?

I see a few service projects coming up (for the kids and me) in the very near future!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Oldies but Goodies

After years of experimenting, my family will be pleased to know that they can depend on seeing familiar dishes on the Thanksgiving table.  I love trying new recipes and cringe at the thought of serving mashed potatoes or corn for a holiday meal, but I also want to avoid stressing myself out unnecessarily.  From here on out (until I get bored), our Thanksgiving menu will be:

Smoked Turkey (2)
Cornbread Dressing
Wild Rice Dressing
Sweet Potato bake with Marshmallows and Gingersnap Streusel
Peas and Okra
Collard Greens
Macaroni and Cheese
Broccoli  & Rice Casserole
Yeast Rolls
Fresh Cranberry Compote (Cranberry Sauce)

Pecan Pie
Skillet Apple Pie
Carrot Cake

I'll probably be more flexible with the dessert table, but as far as the rest of the menu goes, I think there's something for everyone.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Let's Get it Started

I'm sitting here giving myself a pep talk before putting up the Christmas trees.  I actually enjoy decorating, but putting up the trees signals the beginning of the season.  this year I'm starting Christmas decorating a little earlier, just so I'm able to pace myself. After last year's events, I made a conscious decision NOT to get bogged down in the unimportant stuff.  I will treasure family and memories, not perfection.  Here we go...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Making the Grade

This week was oddly reminiscent of finals week. JB had five tests in different subject areas, in addition to regular homework assignments and a progress check for an ongoing project. JB is in fifth grade this year, so I've been preparing myself (and him) for the transition to middle school. I understand that this will be more the norm than the exception in the years to come, but Holy Moly! He still needs A LOT of help organizing information to study efficiently! Translation: I'm giving A LOT of help, while juggling 10 thousand other evening duties.

Take a look at his fifth grade load for the week:

Tuesday: Math Test (Division)

Wednesday: Science Test (Circuits, energy, Resources--they did this unit 2 weeks ago and have since moved on to another topic. I guess the teacher forgot to give the
Math Homework (26 problems)

Thursday: The humdinger...Explorers (Columbus, Ponce de Leon, Cortes, Hudson, et.al) This test also included a written portion where the students were to write a paragraph about an explorer they previously studied in small groups.

Pop Quiz….What country financed Ponce de Leon's expedition? What was he searching for? What was the impact of his discovery?

Math Homework (about 20 problems)
Complete a graphic organizer and word search using a Social Studies newspaper

Friday: Language Test (proofreading, ABC order, letter writing, apostrophes, quotation marks, complete subjects) & Spelling Test, which I could care less about after this week!
Math Homework (13 problems)

All tests count as two grades, which could easily bring a grade average down several points if there's a problem.

My brain is totally fried! I've checked and double checked math problems til my eyes were crossed, printed off practice sheets (Glad I paid the membership for Super Teacher Worksheets, because I'd used all of the free ones), made up review questions. I can still smell the toxic fumes of permanent marker from making flash cards. All the talk of exploring has made me want to cast my sail and set off to sea.

All jokes aside, I hope we got A's!

*When I picked JB up from school, he proudly yells out (loud enough for the whole parking lot to hear), "Hey, I didn't make an F on my Social Studies test! I know I didn't, because Mrs. G passed back all the F's with a note to get signed."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

When Giving Up is Okay

God is doing something magnificent. He must be. This is the second most hectic time of my life!

It wasn't a kitchen sink moment, but this morning as I left Corner Bakery (after stopping for my sugar fix), I realized that the place He wants to take me will require that I totally relinquish control. I don't have the capacity, in my own strength, to do what He wants me to do.

The underlying theme of my life these days is: You are not in control. No matter how much I plan and organize….things fall apart and it makes me crazy. No matter how hard I try to stay ahead of the game….it all washes out to sea and that makes me crazy.

The harder I grab the slippery wet soap in the shower, the more times I drop it. The faster I run on the little wheel of life, the more out of breath I feel. When I look up, I'm panting relentlessly only to notice that I'm standing still: moving nowhere fast.

Rather than eat my body weight in Twix candy or another equally sugar laden treat, I'm going to try to focus every ounce of my being on 'letting go'. This will be an ongoing, lifelong process for me, because it certainly doesn't come naturally!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gobble, Gobble

With only two weeks until Thanksgiving, you'd think my number one priority would be preparing to host family from out of town. I should be working out the logistics of sleeping arrangements, and finalizing menus and grocery lists. I've thought about all of that a bit, but what's even more pressing than that?

Dum, Dum, Dum…..(in my monotone, cartoonish voice)

….my kids' table manners!

Never mind how we got to this point in the first place. Elbows up. Dig in! That's the regular sight at our dinner table. My hubby can often be heard saying, "Get your elbows down. Put your food down. You're eating like you're in prison."

I kid you not, there's enough food under the kids' seats after a meal to scoop up and save for mid-day snacks! It's so bad, the dog makes a b-line for their spots before heading outside for potty breaks.

So, tonight I started reprogramming their table behavior. There will be no mention of farting or any other bodily functions at the Thanksgiving table. There will be no slurping, smacking or humming. I've even banned eating in the "runners are you ready" position, which is basically hanging out of the chair, half standing-half sitting. I'll admit, I have my work cut out for me, but I've already warned….shape up, or ship out...to the kids' table!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A New Perspective

Last year was an extremely stressful school year. Over the summer, I made the decision that I would approach this year differently. My decision was confirmed when MC assessed the situation: "You're never going to think any teacher is good enough for us, unless it's YOU." Truer words have never been spoken!

While I regret the decision NOT to homeschool on a monthly basis, the decision has been made and I know it's for the best. While I'm perfectly capable of doing it, that's not (for a number of reasons) what I'm supposed to do. Who knows what the future holds for Baby A, but for the boys, public school it is.

This week I will attend parent teacher conferences with both sets of teachers. For the first time ever, I'm at peace with the pending conversations. I'm not taking a file of heavily marked and flagged papers, e-mail printouts and documentation. I have a few notes and a few questions--that is all. For once I don't feel like I'm off to court, defending or prosecuting as if a life depends on it.

I'm still very annoyed with a lot of the experiences, communication (or lack therof), inconsistencies, ambiguity and just school politics in general. When I take a step back and put things in perspective, I have to acknowledge that very little of what happens today or this year for that matter will have any effect on life 10 years from now.

What NOT to say in a Parent-Teacher Conference (for parents):

Maybe he/she's just bored.
He/she never does that at home.
Can you just ____________ for the him/her? (fill in the blank with ridiculous task that the child is perfectly capable of performing)

What NOT to say in a Parent-Teacher Conference (for teachers):

Has anything changed at home?
He/she is a great speller.
Maybe your expectations are too high.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Time Keeps on Ticking

Over the weekend, we gained an extra hour when we set our clocks back to signal the end of Daylight Savings Time. While I understand the point, I've always found it amusing that we've just decided to manipulate time to our advantage. The boys also see the novelty in changing the time; for the next few weeks they'll insist on telling me what time it would be in the "old time". It's always cute at first, but after a few weeks it gets a tad annoying.


Nevertheless, time "fell back" an hour and I'm feeling refreshed. It's like a special fall treat (unlike in Spring when we lose an hour).

Last night, the extra hour meant an extra hour to finish weekend homework assignments. This morning it meant an extra hour to sleep in. The morning was even less manic than usual. The kids seemed calmer and had less trouble getting out of bed.

Having an extra hour to get things done has made me re-think how I wastespend my time on a daily basis. Is it possible that the few minutes here and there spent on the computer, phone, in front of the television….piddling around, equal hours each day wasted? This week I'm going to document my time. Who knows, maybe I'll be just as surprised with the results as when I recently tracked household expenses. Boy, was that an eye-opener!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Au Naturale


A few months ago I decided to walk away. I wasn't exactly sure of what lay ahead, but I wanted to go in a different direction; I decided to wear my hair in its natural state.

This sounds totally trivial, but to black women the state of our hair is a lifestyle choice. It affects our day to day activities, Saturday schedule every 4-6 weeks and even our sleep patterns. To black women the question of whether or not to relax our hair is anything but trivial!

I always thought I'd cut my hair into a short natural crop style when I turned 40. I chose 40 because it's that magical age when you're officially old. Well, now that I'm closer to 40 than ever before, 40 doesn't seem that old. Lately, I've seen so many other natural, low maintenance styles that I'm curious to try.

What really sealed the deal, was Baby A. Now that I'm responsible for training a daughter to become a woman, my outlook and focus has shifted a bit. With the boys, the image that I portray becomes the image they seek (or avoid) when finding a wife. Whatever the case, it will influence who they choose to spend the rest of their lives with and what they'll expect of her; however, with a daughter, the image that I portray will either be emulated or despised. During those teen years I expect a little of both.

I realize that unlike in my childhood, my daughter won't be heavily influenced or come in contact with (regularly) women that look like her. While I know things have come a long way in terms of race relations and acceptance of differences, I'm not naive. I will be the single most influential black female that helps her on her road to self discovery. I want her to be comfortable in her own skin, so what better way than for me to model it?

Four months into the journey, I feel great about my choice. I'm re-learning how to do my hair. I'm amazed at how many misconceptions I had about my tight kinks. I have a long way to go, but I don't regret my choice. This will likely be just the tip of the iceberg. I realize that I also need to avoid portraying certain gender stereotypes and model healthier living. For now, I'm just going to take it one pin curl at a time.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Discipline: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

Discipline-it's a dirty word. I think most people probably struggle with it to some degree and I'm no exception. Discipline will either make or break you. With it the unattainable becomes a little closer. Without it the cart runs away with the horse and they both run over you!

Personally I'm very disciplined about certain things and really struggle with others. For example, I'm very disciplined about making sure bills are paid on time and appointments/commitments are scheduled properly and kept. However, avoiding multiple trips to the cupcake shop a week: FAIL. Similarly, exercising regularly: EPIC FAIL!

In fact, the things I'm most disciplined about are usually directly related to comfort, ease and pleasure. According to Proverbs, I'm stupid (Proverbs 12:1 ) and destined to poverty and shame (Proverbs 13:18). Okay, that's a very literal interpretation. I'm so thankful for grace and mercy! But, all kidding aside flip over to Hebrews (Heb. 12:11) and you'll find the synapsis on discipline.

" No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11, NIV)

As with all God things, I'm able to see a paradigm with the kids' struggle with discipline. Just like adults, they pull out ALL the stops to avoid correction. Not only do I see the pattern, but I'm left wondering in amazement: How does God put up with our crap? How does he time and time again, give another chance? Of course, I know the answer, but it's just beyond comprehension-as it should be.

Before having kids, I never imagined how difficult and exhausting it would be to instill discipline. I'm talking exhaustion on a cellular level, if that's possible. Training children is HARD WORK! Being consistent, balancing rewards with consequences, all while keeping a cool, level head….whew! In the words of my grandmother, "It's more than a notion". Some days I think it'd be easier to dig a tunnel to Indonesia and smuggle in an entire herd of goats to start up a goat farm!

On particularly difficult days where I've talked someone down off the ledge because they want pizza for dinner (again) instead of beef stew, or they want to play for two hours after school instead of doing homework, I totally understand why some parents serve their kids Easy Mac every night for dinner and let them bathe on the even nights.

After struggling every step of the way to avoid being the last person out of the school parking lot (again), or going through last minute wardrobe changes five minutes before it's time to leave for school every morning (despite having picked out and ironed all clothes at the beginning of the week), I totally 'get' why some parents let their kids sleep in their clothes the night before school and have play dates every evening.

IT'S EASIER! No judgement! *With ten years under the parenting belt, I can easily say that the first thing to go when you become a parent is the judgement of other parents.

But, having said all of this (and I know it's a mouthful), I can't help but be redirected back to Hebrews 12:11. The words that stand out are: not pleasant, painful, harvest, righteousness, peace, trained. I could REALLY use a harvest of righteousness and peace, so I guess that means I must stay the course! No matter how painful and unpleasant, I'm keeping the end goal in sight.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Manic Mornings

My typical morning:

5:45 My phone alarm goes off. Knowing that I should wake up, I proceed to hit snooze 3-4 times.

6:25 I stumble out of bed very quietly, so I don't wake the baby, take care of bathroom business and go wake the boys. They have alarm clocks, but are afraid of the sounds they make. They're talking clocks with accents that tell corny jokes and say things like, "Hey, get out of bed!"

6:45 I start preparing breakfast and finishing packing lunches, which really should have been done last night before I collapsed into an exhausted heap on the couch. I stop every 5 minutes or so to break up a fight or remind someone to finish getting dressed. Apparently mornings are the perfect time to practice karate and wrestling moves.

7:00-7:15 Breakfast is on the table. Sometimes, breakfast is served with a last minute review of skills that I printed out overnight. On Friday mornings, I'm often giving last minute spelling practice tests while making fried rice and heating up Thermoses for lunch.

7:20 Everyone gets their morning dose of allergy medicine. *Oh, snap! I forgot this morning. Hopefully, JB stays away from the class pet today. Otherwise, we'll have another Will Smith "Hitch" moment.

7:30 Backpacks are zipped and the kids are out the door only to return a couple of times for forgotten items that I've reminded them to pack up.

Now, I have a coveted hour (if I'm lucky) to get ready for the real day.

I usually average 4 swear words and 3 Mama Bear faces. When I'm below average, I feel so proud, but know there's always the dreaded evening homework hour.

While it's extremely chaotic, it's a breeze compared to the afternoons. I'm sure there are a dozen ways to un-complicate the morning routine, but because I'm not a morning person they never work for long.

So, for now I'll have to just settle for manic mornings. So far, it's nothing that a few cups of Starbucks can't wash away.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Sweet Spot

Happy November 1st. I can't believe it's already November!! I'm challenging myself to post daily for the month of November. Last year, I did pretty well until the end. Let's see if I can do better this time around.
The kitchen, particularly the sink, is where I spend most of my time.  At our old house, the kitchen overlooked our backyard.  As I stood there doing the doing the dishes or prepping meals for what seemed like hours at a time some days, I often drifted deep into thought and reflection.  It was hands down THE place of visitation from God.  I never planned it that way;  it just happened naturally.  There were no distractions:  just me, suds and a panoramic view our private, grassy backyard.  For years rabbits visited our yard in spring and early fall.  During one of those visits and a particularly trying time for me personally, I witnessed patience in action.  Midway through the yard, the bunny became aware of my presence.  For the next 30 minutes it stood perfectly still waiting for an opportunity to get away from the threat (me).  I remember thinking "Wow!  That's what it looks like to just stand."  That rabbit waited as if its life depended on it, because it DID depend on it.  I learned got so many other lessons and revelations in the most unsuspecting place.
When we first moved, we were in such a whirlwind of life changing events that  I really didn't think of it much.  For a while things seemed topsy turvy and I just attributed it to the craziness of life.  After several months, it dawned on me...I didn't have a place. The new house was missing "the place".  Of course God is everywhere, but we had a special place at the old house.
A year later I still haven't found "the place" and that's kind of weird, but

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