Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I have spent the morning blog browsing. This was my reward for actually being productive this morning and making two important phone calls. Maybe not really my reward so much as I was tired after the calls and seem to be fighting the summer cold that had Middle Man waking me up with his coughing last night. So I turned on a video for the boys and climbed into bed with my laptop. I promise I will take them out into the sunshine as soon as the movie is over.

So blog browsing... I started with my friends' blogs. Loved seeing the pictures of kids starting school, families at the beach and dear friends saying goodbye. Turned to dooce and then my newest favorite Jennsylvania. Jen Lancaster is my new favorite read when working out at the Y. I noticed on Jen's site that she had a list of links to other blogs she reads. So I started clicking. I enjoyed both of Amalah's sites but was really intrigued by Cheeky Lotus and her post "And That is All I Have to Say About That." So I started clicking through her "Rock the Sidebars" (a name that truly does rock the normal list of blogs I follow). I can't remember where I went next but eventually I found myself at The McMommy Chronicles. There I found the funniest post I have ever seen. She did not write it but posted one of those forwarded emails you find filling up your inbox. You seriously have to read it. Probably not while sitting in a meeting at work pretending to read work email because you will laugh out loud. And if you don't I really don't know what to say about your sense of humor. Because IT IS FUNNY!

So as I am cruising the blog world, I started to feel bad. I know I have a few readers (you are good friends). I wish I could give you more laughter in your day. These posts cracked me up and lifted my mood. I want to give that to my readers. But since I can't, I will send you away to visit the blogs I have linked. They will make you laugh and hopefully lift your day.

And since the movie has ended (actually about 15 minutes ago) I guess it is time to head out into the sunshine.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Falling Coconuts

I was watching a documentary show about NFL training camp the other day and heard the greatest stat. Did you know you are more likely to be killed by a coconut falling from a tree than from a shark attack? For some reason when I heard this it made me laugh, really laugh. I had to immediately post the stat on my Facebook page because this kind of information must be shared. I don't know if this means I should be unworried about sharks swimming with me in the ocean or if I should become worried about standing too close to coconut trees. Either way I guess it is good that I don't have a trip to Hawaii planned anytime soon.

But as I thought more about the stat I started to think about how many weird ways a person can die. And how often what scares us is not what is going to kill us. We worry about earthquakes, tornados, monsters and witches, skydiving and airplanes. But it is rarely the dangerous things that hurt us. Hockey boy has had stitches three times in his life. He is a very active boy who climbed to the top of the play structure before he was 2, jumps out of trees and plays what many consider a dangerous sport. But it was jumping on his bed, running into the wall in our house, and hitting his head on the coffee table in a hotel room that caused all his stitches. I chose a long time ago to trust that God has my kids in His hands. I believe that God has a plan for my kids and loves them more than I ever could. So while I am not going to let them play with fire or drink poisons, I am not going to be a helicopter mom who follows my boys around the playground making sure they don't fall.

Doesn't mean bad things are not going to happen. They are. Coconuts are going to fall out of trees. Kids are going to need stitches. Parents are going to get cancer. Friends are going to lose children. I can't control the bad. All I can do is roll with the punches knowing and trusting that God is in control. I can either cling to that truth, cling to our sovereign God or get knocked around. I chose to cling.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Depravity to Grace

Most of the time I can go through life thinking I am a good person. I am usually kind and caring, supportive and encouraging, I wait my turn in lines, pay my bills and taxes, volunteer where needed and sometimes even cook dinner. I have picked up some great women along life's adventure that tell me I am awesome which is a great trait to have in a friend; someone who will tell you how amazing you are. I think one of the reasons we are so often comparing ourselves to others is because we are comfortable with that comparison most of the time. Maybe she is thinner or her kids actually eat their vegetables but I did work out three times last week and have a Masters Degree (don't ask me what I use it for though). There is always someone better but there is always someone I can look at and be thankful for how wonderful I am.

But there is the catch. I am not meant, as a Christian, to compare myself to unworthy measures but to the only worthy measure of this world, Jesus Christ. And when I compare myself to that yardstick, I live in the depths of depravity. My anger is very rarely righteous and most often fatigue or impatience induced vitriol spewing in my mind. I may be able to control my outbursts but my heart tells the truth of my soul. When I am feeling down about myself because of my slothfulness or laziness, I start to focus on someone outside myself who is worse of than I and project my insecurity onto them. I can become so frustrated with my kids that I can lash out in horrible anger and meanness.

I am depraved.

I am sinful.

I am in need of saving.

And that is where the good news begins. I have been saved. My debt has been paid. I know who Jesus is and what He did for me. I choose to follow Him. I am a child of God able to enjoy His presence in my life. I am able to answer my natural depravity with His grace. My anger with His peace. My insecurity with His goodness.

So truthfully most of the time I am a good person because Christ is working in me. But the good you see is my overflowing with His love and the beauty of His creation. And that is awesome to me.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Status Updates

A few weeks back when my husband was out of town I wrote a status update on Facebook that mentioned my kids were being whiny. I got a few comments from friends that were supportive of my frustration. These comments come to my email account as well as being posted on my Facebook wall. I woke the next morning to an email from Facebook with a "friend's" comment shouting at me. I say shouting because it was in ALL CAPS and she knows better or at least doesn't normally write in all caps. The gist was, "COME ON GUYS....WE ALL HAVE THE BEST KIDS IN THE WORLD....LIFE WITH CHILDREN IS A MUCH BETTER OPTION THAN LIFE WITHOUT....LET'S TRY WRITING ABOUT ALL THE WONDERFUL THINGS THAT HAPPEN DURING OUR DAYS WITH OUR KIDS INSTEAD OF THE NORMAL MISHAPS AND THINGS WE HAVE DIFFICULTY WITH....." Okay that is the actual quote. I should be a bigger person, especially since when I went to check my Facebook page her comment was not there. She had already deleted her words. But I was still pretty annoyed by the comment and all the shouting. Not to mention the fact that we have married couples on both sides that have chosen not to have kids and seem very happy, well rested and happy.

But her comment did make me think. Had my status updates been kid bashing? I went back to check and did find that for the most part I had written some pretty cute things about my kids. I had made sure all my Facebook friends knew my kids were enjoying their first night of sugared cereal for dinner and how cute they were playing Wii Fitness. But I also do write at times both on Facebook and here about the less glorious and more frustrating parts of being a Mom. Because for me both are true. My boys can be noisy, bickering, exhausting monsters at times. But the next moment they are the most amazing little creatures in the world. If you lined up all the 6 year olds in the world and let me choose I would still pick Hockey Boy as mine. And not just because he is my son but because he is a really great kid. The same is true of Middle Man and Little One. Each is so obviously a part of my husband and I and yet so unique and quirky.

So today I was in the gym and I started thinking again about this whole topic. And what I realized is that as a parent, I don't just want to focus on the good in my kids. I spend a lot of energy trying to help my kids grow in their strengths, whether that is taking them to practice, getting them more books at the library or spending time listening to their funny stories. I always want to see the best in my kids but I realize that they are a work in progress. And it is my job to help them grow in their weaknesses as well. I am here to teach them to use their words instead of their fists, to recognize that people need some personal space (especially brothers and Mommies), or how to be a good friend on the playground. If not their mother, who is going to help my kids learn to control their emotions, not in a boys can't cry way, but in a let's not go completely nuclear because the milk literally spilled. And someone needs to help them learn a strong work ethic or they may never leave home. I love my kids but they eventually do have to leave home if for no other reason than they have been taught that in order to get a girl they have to go to college, get a job and own a home.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Books for Boys

This summer a number of different people have asked me what the boys are reading at my house. I think our reputation as avid readers has made the rounds. Let me start by saying that I am a huge reader. I would much rather escape into a good book than clean the dishes or fold the laundry. So from a very young age my boys have seen me reading just for fun. They have played on the floor at my feet while I sat curled on the couch enjoying some chick lit. I have sat on the park bench with a book in my hands while they play in the sand box or skip along the play structure. On top of my own reading, we have read to the boys at bedtime since they were old enough to not eat the books. I also started reading to them at lunch time and even dinner time when their dad did not come home from work (which was very often during his start up days). They loved hearing the stories and I could sort of zone out a bit and not have to think or deal with anything but trying to make sure my voices matched the right character. My older boys have since taken to reading just like their Mommy and usually grab a book to take in the car and often spend quiet time (Little Man's naptime) reading or listening to books on CD that we get at the library. So here are a few lists of books that my boys have really enjoyed:

Read Alouds (I started reading chapter books to the boys when they were 4 and 5)
- The Ramona books by Beverly Cleary This series was such a hit with the boys that Ramona the Pest became a favorite birthday present the year we read these.
- All things Roald Dahl starting with Fantastic Mr. Fox and Enormous Crocodile, moving on to The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and working our way through all his books.
- Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
- The Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald I wish Mrs. Piggle Wiggle lived in my neighborhood so she could send me magic plates, pills or plans for dealing with my parenting problems.
- Charlotte's Web by E.B. White Hockey Boy went to a birthday party to see the movie which he enjoyed so we decided to read the book which he also enjoyed.
- The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo Again this was in response to the movie coming out last summer. I decided to read the book to the boys before we went. It is an incredibly well written book and my boys really liked the stories but they were a bit dark and sometimes scary.
- The Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne We read the first few to the kids but then they started to read themselves because I don't think we were getting through the books fast enough for Hockey Boy. We are anxiously awaiting #42 from the library.
- The Pirate School Books by Brian James These are easy to read chapter books with fun pictures that tell the stories of a group of kids living on a pirate ship learning how to be pirates.
- Piper Reed Navy Brat by Kimberly Willis Holt

Books that Hockey Boy loves to read to himself (In order he read them)
- The Rainbow Fairies
- Magic School Bus Chapter books
- Scooby Doo Chapter Books
- Junie B. Jones Series
- Stink, the Incredible Shrinking Kid Series
- The Magic Tree House books
- The Magic Tree House Research Guides
- Horrible Harry Series
- The Boxcar Children Books
- Marvin Redpost books
- Geronimo Stilton Series (His current favorite)
- Pokemon Books

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fix It Girl

Did you know that Mommy can fix anything? She can. My kids will tell you. It may not be exactly fixed the way they expected, but they completely trust that I can fix it and make it better. I have brainwashed them into believing this which is good because when the tears start I remind them, yet again, that Mommy can fix anything.

I got another chance to prove my remarkable powers last night. Middle Man had a really loose tooth. I say had because last night while eating dinner his bottom tooth was suddenly missing. It was gone. It had come out while he was eating and he must have swallowed it because we could not find it, even after having him spit out what was still in his mouth hoping it was amidst the leftover pizza he had been chewing. Not very appetizing but all in a days work. So my Middle Man had lost his first tooth. This should be a joyous exciting time, but he just looked really concerned. And he doesn't often get concerned. He looked like he was going to cry. And I mean cry real tears of sadness not those big loud wails you hear when he is mad or getting in trouble. He looked forlorn. That is the word, forlorn.

So what is a Mommy to do when her guy is so sad about something so special? Me, I called on the experts. The advice nurse at his pediatrician's office. She laughed at first when I told her our big news, that he had swallowed his tooth. I guess for an advice nurse at a pediatrician's office this is the kind of call you want to get to brighten your day. After telling me there was no cause for concern, she also mentioned that the Tooth Fairy would not, I repeat NOT, go looking for the missing tooth. A letter would suffice. Thank goodness because finding a tooth after it has gone through a kid's system is really not in my day's work. I think if the Tooth Fairy actually required the tooth I would have to request a Tooth Fairy change. So I told Middle Man all this, not the part about how we could look for it, and he started to smile. She, the nurse, after all is an expert in this field I told him so she would know. I explained this happened all the time and that we could write a letter to the Tooth Fairy and she would still leave a treat. It seems a phone call to the experts was all that was needed to alleviate whatever fear and worry was going through his mind.

So we wrote a nice letter to the Tooth Fairy on special stationary that Mommy has for just such occasions. Middle Man put the letter under his pillow and even let me take lots of pictures of his missing tooth so I could post it immediately on Facebook obviously. And this morning there was a gold dollar coin and blue fairy dust under his pillow.

My Middle Man is growing up. But he still knows that Mommy can fix anything!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Will the Truth Set you Free?

I have no idea who coined the phrase, "the truth shall set you free" which is ironic because I am sure it is some great character from history, some quote I made my students learn. I am known to be an honest person. And while I am always honest, I have found that I don't really have to always be truthful in order to be true in my relationships.

I can be honest with my kids without giving them all the details or backstory about why they can't go out of a store exit without me. Do I really need to tell my little children that someone might grab them and take them and do awful things to them? I can be honest with my friends without having to explain myself or all my reasons for why I can't make dinner next Tuesday. Do they really need me to tell them that I have a haircut that I really don't want to postpone because I so rarely get to sit in a chair for 30 minutes without any other distractions. I think sometimes we feel like we need to explain all the details but like Dr. Phil says when answering kids' questions about sex, "Just answer the question they asked." So when my kids asked me how the baby was going to come out, I simply answered that I was going to the hospital and the doctor would help get the baby out. That was enough for my kids so why scare them with the details of excruciating pain, blood, complications and anatomy that they really don't need or probably want.

I write all this because today I had to really speak the truth in a way that was really hard. Let me start by saying that I did not initiate this conversation. I would have been happy to leave things but was pressed to discuss my decisions. I had to explain to someone in my life that I don't want to have a relationship with them in the way that we once did. I had to say I was willing to start fresh going forward but that I was not going to discuss, dissect and try to repair all the damage that had been done. I had to very clearly state my boundaries and then when pressed justify my choices. It was a really hard conversation because it required not just me being honest, but I had to be truthful in the details. I could not try to sidestep any longer or just answer the question asked because that was leaving to much ambiguity and confusion for the other person. I had to take a stand, draw my line in the sand and then not try to make it all better or help the other person feel good about things.

I walked away from the conversation feeling really awful. I did not feel free. I felt totally burdened by the pain of the other person and the very real pain I feel about the situation. But now a few hours later, I am starting to feel a little sense of relief. Relief, freedom, because I have stated my peace. I have made my boundaries clear. I still dread a bit what the other person might do to try to further engage me. Or how we will next interact when we see one another again. But I know that I have spoken my truth. I have been honest. And I think I was able to do it in love, specifically love for myself. Because what I am learning through this experience is that I matter. What I think, want, feel is important and that I can stand up for myself. I can speak truth.