Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Oops! My Bad!

So Jeff and I went to see a movie this afternoon... we got in right at the moment the movie was starting... just after the previews. So it is dark in the theatre, we have to wait for the screen to light up to find seats. I lead the way up the steps and we sit behind 2 people and with no one behind us. There is an odd smell tickling my nose and I can't place it. I notice the backs of the heads in front of us- curly hair, shortish. One whiteish blond, the other grayish brown. Ah. Old lady smell. That perfumey, powdery, medicinal smell. Great. Being mature, I text Jeff about it. Ha ha ha. Watch the movie, ignore the smell. It isn't hugely strong or anything. I lean forward to change positions and I notice... The old ladies are holding hands!! Wait a minute! I text Jeff again... "old lady lesbians!!!" He looks and cracks up. Not good in a very serious movie (Seven Pounds). So I'm back to being focused on the movie. From time to time, I notice the 2 women hold hands or a hand rest on a leg. And I love it. I think it is awesome. I'm all "power to the people, you go girls!" Movie ends. Lights come up. The white haired, curly blond? Moustache. Yep. And they weren't that old. Plain old middle aged straight people. That had the potential for real embarrassment... Jeff can tell you... I'm not one to keep my thoughts to myself. So I guess we should consider ourselves lucky that I didn't lean forward during the movie and say something... "I think it is really great you guys are out and proud!" Yeah. About that... Maybe I do need to make New Years Resolution. To make sure I have ALL of the information before sticking my nose into other people's apparent business!!

Not What You'd Expect

This morning, I've been keeping up with my fellow bloggers, reading a lot of "year in review" and "what I want next year" thoughts. I'm not going there. Prior to starting this blog, I kept a message board. It was started back in 2004 with our first pregnancy. The intention was to keep friends and family updated on the pregnancy and then on our lives with Teagan and then with Zach. I went back to my old message board to see if I'd done a "year in review" post last year. Nope. In fact, I took a break for the weeks around Christmas, just to enjoy time with the kids while on maternity leave. But no big posts about the past year and how my life had changed and what my hopes were for the year ahead. I've never been one to make resolutions. In fact, to the best of my recollection, I've never seriously made a resolution. The way I see it, the past year is behind me. It's full of memories and joys and sorrows and lessons learned. And the future is ahead of me. I don't know what's coming. I know I've grown and I know I will keep evolving and changing and improving. I don't need a holiday to get me in that place. I strive to be in that place of constant improvement on a continual basis. So we won't be staying up until midnight to ring in the New Year. We won't welcome in those first seconds of 2009 with a kiss. No banging of pots and pans, no firing of firecrackers, no sips of champagne. Hopefully, midnight will slide silently past while we all deeply slumber (a mom can dream, right?). For those who do celebrate... enjoy it! Stay safe, enjoy your reflections, and I sincerely hope you find goals for the upcoming year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Is Friendship, Anyway?

Lots swirling about in my head today. I should be cleaning. I've got laundry in and the dishwasher is half full. I've got a cup of tea by my side. My mom will be here soon. But lots of inklings of things going on around me that keep nagging at me. Friendship. On my post about Talents, Alix commented that her talent is being a great friend. How do you define yourself as a great friend? I have many people in my life that I am friendly with. Aside from Jeff, I have 2 people that I am especially close to. And only one of them really fully qualifies as a true "friend." Or is that true? One friend is someone I've known since college. We've had ups and downs. Well, a huge down that ended up bringing us closer than ever. And now it's like we are more spiritual best friends. I know him immensely well. I know his core. He lives far away so he isn't part of my everyday. But I know his insides and he knows mine. One phone call and there isn't even a need for a lot of words... we just know. One friend is part of my daily life. I tell her practically everything. She knows me inside and out. She is a huge part of my kids' lives. She is dependable and loyal and consistent. I can call on her in times of crisis or joy and she will comfort or celebrate as needed and then some. So how do you define friendship? What kind of friend are you? Friend, as defined by, is "a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard." Well that certainly doesn't make it sound as serious as what I seem to expect of my friends. A friend is simply someone I feel attached to because I like them, basically. But my expectations of friendship are so much more vast than that! I think we need a better word than friend. I joke that Christy is more like a sister to me... but it isn't really much of a joke. Because she really is more than a friend, especially if you consider the definition above. Maybe it would be better to define "family?" Most of the definitions are focused on blood relations, on parents and children. And then I fell upon definition #10. a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and, frequently, live together So Christy doesn't live with us. But we do share common attitudes, interests, and goals. Jim doesn't live near us but we do share common attitudes, interests, and goals. What's missing? Values. Common values. I value loyalty, compassion, honesty, sense of humor, reliability, trustworthiness. When Jeff and I first got pregnant, we lost that baby to a miscarriage. It was one of the defining tragedies of our marriage and it happened just months after our wedding. Jim was living in Nashville at the time and when I called to tell him, he dropped everything, rearranged his life, and drove straight here to be with us for those early days. Reliability. Compassion. Loyalty. Christy is the only person that I trust to watch my kids so Jeff and I can have a date night. When we just need a couple of hours away on a weekend, which isn't often, Christy is the only one I call. Reliability. Trustworthiness. She's also the friend who convinces me to let loose, get out of the house sometimes, lets me know that my messy house is totally ok... Sense of Humor. Honesty. I am blessed to have these 2 people in my life. They fulfill different parts of me. Perhaps because those friendships are so amazing, it isn't possible for others to meet the expectations? the bar has been set too high? But I still expect things from people. I still expect people who choose to call themselves friends to follow through on promises, commitments, plans. Reliability. Honesty. Trustworthiness. Remember? But I still cling to this hope that the people I like, the people I have interest in, will meet those expectations and become something beyond the simple definition of friend. But I find that I tend to wind up disappointed. And what kind of friend am I? I think I give what I get. I think I live those important values in my friendships. I think that Jim and Christy would agree with all I've said. I don't feel that I brush off my friends. I don't feel that I'm someone to cancel plans or not mean the things I say. I keep confidences. I'm loyal. Reliable. Funny. Fun. Passionate and Compassionate. What kind of friend are you? Do you rely on friends to be more than the simple definition? Do you strive to be more of the family type of friend?

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Pictures

Here is a little glimpse into our home!
Teagan's room, view from the hallway.
The shelves. Major overhaul done on these!
Zach's room. View from the hallway.
More of Zach's room
Teagan- showing off her dollhouse
Teagan, enjoying her new room!
An important addition to Teagan's room- a nightlight. This was a gift last Christmas from my aunt and is coming in handy now. Teagan is on the verge of being more independent at bedtime but has developed a dislike of the dark and has been asking for a nightlight.
Here's Zach, enjoying the organized toy shelves in the living room.
Teagan and Zach, checking out Zach's Big Boy Bed!
Zach, grinning at this whole bed thing!
And showing off his new sheets...

End of Day One

WOOHOO!!! Hip Hip HUZZAH! Much was accomplished today! Teagan's room looks fantastic. I hope she loves it! Zach's room just needs the bed made up- that will happen later tonight. The sheets are in the dryer. He now has some play space and toys in his room. It's no longer just a nursery- place to sleep and change diapers. It's now Zach's Room! My bedroom is half-ish done. Cleaned up a bunch of stuff quickly because I needed to get the spare bedframe tucked away under our bed, I needed to reunite the rocking ottoman with the rocking chair, I needed to place the spare little blue ottoman at the foot of our bed (it's now Sassy's helper step to get into our bed). The living room is 3/4 done. Toys have been sorted and reorganized and I have a garbage bag full to go to Goodwill. Really did a lot in here. More to do but I'll work around to the other part of the room (the part that connects to the dining room) tomorrow. It's very manageable now. My mom is coming for the day tomorrow. With her help, I will get control of the laundry. We will also tackle the kitchen. And I'll scrub my bathroom and the front entryway. Damn. I should throw a party when I'm done. My house hasn't been this cleaned up since... I was nesting while pregnant with Zach!! Over a year!! I am sore and tired but proud of all the work I've done. I feel more in control and less stressed. I promised pictures and they will come soon! I have to get pics of everything- and I figure I should pose the kids in there to make the pics look better. Speaking of kids, it's time to go pick them up. And, as a reward for all my hard work, Jeff is taking us out to dinner!!

Thanks for hanging out with me today... tune in later for those much promised pictures. And I will try to do updates tomorrow as well! Wednesday is reserved for FUN. The movies are calling me...

Day One 2 p.m.

I'm working on the toys in the living room. Dear God. Pray for me. I don't know that I will make it out alive.

Day One 11:45 a.m.

I need some lunch!! Jeff will be along with something soon. Time is flying by. I forgot to eat and drink this morning, save for one cup of my flowering tea (a Christmas gift from Christy). So I'm famished! Made some iced herbal- which I am sitting and enjoying while I post my update!! Have I mentioned that Jeff has been home all day? He's been taking work calls... but hasn't had to go anywhere. So he's helping me when I call upon him. But he's a smart man and is generally staying out of my way. Letting me do my thing. I'm sure the hackles will go up once I start in on OUR bedroom- since that will involve HIS stuff. Teagan's room is DONE. Shelves completely cleared off, bagful of trash gone, missing bits and pieces of toys gone, Bed moved, dresser moved, dollhouse moved (and yes, we did go with the Savannah and it is AWESOME). I spent just an hour on her shelves. I will get pictures loaded up tonight to share. I'm really hoping she will be excited about it all. I think her room looks more "big girl" now and has better play space. Zach's room is DONE. Swapped the crib and twin bed, took out the bed frame. See, his room is odd. It's small. The door is in the middle of one wall. So we had a twin bed behind the door and the crib on the other side of the door frame. And I think he might be ready to start using his big bed. So we took the frame out, put the box spring and mattress on the floor, installed the side bar catchy thing. Big accomplishment in his room was to take out the last remaining baby things and actually put them up in storage instead of just having them stacked up in the corner of his room. As I clean the living room, I will be putting his own toys in his room, too. He will have his own play space, just like Big Sis. I've been dusting and vacuuming and wiping down and scrubbing. It feels GREAT. It's the starting point I need for the New Year. I don't often get time to really clean and organize. Housekeeping is way low on my list of priorities. So this semi-annual puring, cleaning, fixing up is really good for us. Also... Jeff is installing drawer pulls on Teagan's dresser. That's been on the "to do" list for a loooooooong time. Now I'm on my lunch break. Lunch will be delivered shortly. I'm putting my feet up and relaxing. Vegging out with my laptop and the TV (I'm watching "Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood." I got hooked on the first season of their reality show- it's one of my guilty pleasures. I have to be totally honest and admit to finding myself being a fan of Tori Spelling. Never in my life did I think that would happen.) I'll post again this afternoon!

3 Days

3 Days with no solid plans. 3 Days with goals for cleaning, goals for fun. 3 Days with kids in daycare. 3 Days with a husband at work (mostly). 8:40 a.m. I've actually started Day 1 with a accomplishment! I rearranged Teagan's bedroom. I've been wanting to for a while. Her room is at the end of the hallway and that means that bedtime can be tough- she wants the door open and the hall light on... and she can see all the way down the hall and into the living room. So bedtime can be a bit challenging. I know this isn't going to solve all of our troubles... but I do think it will help! I moved her bed, her dresser, her dollhouse, her little chair. And I did it all by myself! Her sheets and mattress pad are in the wash. I hope she likes it! I'll get pics up later. Stay tuned! I'm holding my readers responsible for my accountability. I'm going to keep working on household projects... Next up... cleaning out the toys and shelves in T's room.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Teagan got the movie "Tinkerbell" as a gift for Christmas. We've watched it twice so far and I have to admit... that I love it! Here's the synopsis from Enter the magical world of fairies and meet the enchanting creatures of Pixie Hollow, who "nurture nature" and bring about the change of the seasons. Changing the colors of the leaves, moving a sunbeam to melt snow, waking animals from their winter slumber, or giving a patch of sproutlings a sprinkle of water are all within the realm of these seasonal specialists. Tinker Bell thinks her fairy talent as a "tinker" isn't as special or important as the other fairies' talents. But when Tink tries to change who she is, she creates nothing but disaster! With encouragement from her friends Rosetta, Silvermist, Fawn and Iridessa, Tink learns the key to solving her problems lies in her unique tinker abilities and discovers that when shes true to herself, magical things can happen. There is a big focus on talents. Each fairy has a specific talent, something very special that they can do. Some fairies can speak to animals, some can manipulate water, etc. Tinker Bell is a tinker fairy with a gift for fixing things. And it's all got me thinking about talent. About passion. About recognizing what we bring to the table. It's a simple enough question. What are your talents? But it's a question that so many have difficulty answering. Because to answer it honestly may indicate pridefulness. But I, of course, disagree. I believe we were given our gifts and talents with a purpose. To use them. To share them. I'm not saying we should be running around bragging. But I think there is no shame in recognizing what you are good at. What you take pride in. But what if you don't know what your talents are? This kind of baffles me. I've known at least some of my talents for most of my life so I can't imagine not knowing. What if you are going day to day, not knowing what you really excel at? What gifts you bring to those around you? Is it that you truly don't know? Or is it that you refuse to see something so positive about yourself? What is holding you back from recognizing something you do well? My talents? In no particular order... Singing, listening, advising, writing. What are your talents? You have full permission to brag on yourself.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Very Serious Prayer Request

A friend of mine is going through a tragedy and I am turning to anyone who reads this to please lift her and her family up in prayer. She was about 15 weeks pregnant. Her water broke and she delivered her stillborn son in a hotel bathroom the day after Christmas. She's previously suffered an ectopic pregnancy. She has a son the same age as my son. Her husband and son were with her. Their faith is carrying them through this. They are grieving but remarkably accepting. I've been praying off and on all day- since hearing the news. I'm praying for comfort, peace, understanding. Will you join me? Please?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Should I Feel Guilty?

Maybe I should... but Jeff and I can't stop laughing about it anyway. I posted earlier that Teagan had started the day being mean to me. And then she kept it going. Sometimes being sweet and sometimes being purposefully attitudinal, bossy, mean, hurtful to me. Not to Daddy. To me. So we are working on getting out the door so we can go to lunch and run a couple of errands. Jeff and I had hoped to come up with something fun to do today but Teagan would act up and be mean and we knew we weren't going to do anything special. Too risky. So we decide on lunch at McDonald's (which is a big deal because I rarely eat there). And then run to Target and then the grocery store. Teagan was impossible getting ready. Several times, we threatened to just not go. Or that Teagan would have to stay home with Mommy while Daddy took Zach out to run errands. She wouldn't get dressed, she complained about her socks, etc. She would ignore or make faces or mouth off. Just enough to get to the border, just enough to almost get in trouble. Then we got to the shoes. She refused to put them on. Fine. We won't go out. Whine. Then get your shoes on. She has one shoe on and the other is on the floor. Dad asks her to pick it up, she refuses. He asks me to get it. So I do. And I hold it up and ask him if I am being mean or nice by getting the shoe for him. He says nice. Then I ask if I should give it to Teagan in a nice way or a mean way. I asked her if she could start making different choices and be nice for the rest of the day... if she could do that, I would give her the shoe nicely. If not... I would throw it at her. She thought I was kidding. She got snotty with me. Jeff saw it coming. He scooted out from under her, away from the couch. She kept up her nastiness. So I gently tossed the shoe at her arm. Truly- barely grazed her sleeve. She plays ball harder. But the emotional impact of Mommy being intentionally mean... The WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIL that came from that child's mouth! The passion behind it! The fall to the floor! The arm held limp at her side! And I had to run from the room because I was laughing so hard! Jeff couldn't SPEAK because he was cracking up! See- we really are horrible parents. I think Jeff and I cracked up, as she lay on the floor, wailing and such, for a good 3 minutes. Jeff finally composed himself enough to scoop her up and take her to her room. Got her calmed down, got her shoe on. And since then, all has been good. Funny thing... as I was getting her coat on, she remarks that Clara threw her shoe at the Mouse King (Nutcracker reference). And I agreed... The Mouse King was being mean to the Nutcracker so Clara threw her shoe to make him stop. On our errand running adventure, she was perfectly behaved. I had to reference the shoe throwing one time and she quickly changed her tune. So I guess that can be my new parenting advice. Throw shoes at your kids. Except don't, really. Unless you need a really good laugh.

Christmas Randomness

Random thoughts... My cousin, who will soon graduate from law school and who is quite the party boy but also a serious student, brought these giant fruit baskets for each family at my mom's house. It was one of the best gifts I've ever received. Kiwi, banana, blueberries, blackberries, apples, oranges, cookies. My daughter has an ability that I'm certain will grow, that I'm certain will get worse as she gets older. She can say things and hurt me to my core. Ruin my day. And she's not even 4 years old yet. This morning, I had gotten up and was heading back to the bedroom. I saw that she was starting to wake up so I went into her room and laid down with her, snuggling her. She wakes up a little more, I brush the hair from her face. It's a very sweet moment. Until she says "Mom. Get OFF me." Yep. Ruined my mood. I'm having one of the worst menstrual cycles I've had in a long time. Crampy and cranky and heavy. I've even tried Midol for the first time in my life. But it complicates everything, being out of sorts with my body. My house is a wreck. Toys are everywhere, new toys are everywhere, packaging strewn about. My kitchen needs to be cleaned up. Lots to do today. Goldfish, the cracker, are addicting. I made my mom cry, in a good way, at Christmas. My kids are way cute. Way adorable. Way funny. Most of the time. Even when there are complications, we are blessed with great families. Friendship is really important to me and I hold the people that I consider close friends to high expectations. It takes a lot for me to consider someone part of my inner circle. I'm learning that a lot recently. Christy and I bought these chocolate wafer cookies at Costco. They are from Italy. I think Italy must be in heaven. I love my husband. For a lot of reasons- some of which can't be put into words. But last night, as we were driving home, I leaned over and rested my head on his arm and shoulder, held his hand... and just felt safe and warm and happy. We have 3 days spread out ahead of us with no plans, aside from church on Sunday. What on earth should we do?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hiring A Builder

It's 11:11 on Christmas Eve night. Jeff is racing against the clock to get the dollhouse built. So far... We've found a broken piece. And it's an important one. And we will have to replace it but he thinks he figured a way to at least temporarily have it together. It involved a trip to the 24 hour Walgreens about 20 minutes away from here. As I was holding the staircase in place, I noticed that the painted on light fixture on the back wall of the living room was on the floor. Huh? Yup. Wall is upside down. They put these little arrow stickers on the back of the panel to guide you on which way it goes in. The arrow was wrong. Jeff has been rather... frustrated. He's not so fun to be around when he's frustrated. He tends to get a little angry with himself and gets a little verbal and... he reigns it in as best he can. But this thing is definitely more difficult than it first appeared. So we will be ringing in Christmas morning in about 45 minutes. All the gifts are ready for tomorrow- save for the star attraction, the main event. But we'll get there. And the dollhouse is way more impressive in person than it was in the pictures. I'm all dreamy about it and remembering the dollhouse I had... but that's a post for another day.

I Don't Fake It Well

I feel like I should have some great holiday post to share this week. Something about the reason for the season. Or about giving or family or something. But honestly. I'm tired. I'm eager to see my family and spend time with Jeff's family. I'm eager to be with friends. What I am most looking forward to is a situation that has happened by chance. I get 3 days off of work with no kids and the house to myself. I had thought I was taking the days off to cover daycare being closed. But then daycare isn't closing on those days. So Jeff is home this week with the kids. What will I do with myself? A friend and I plan to go to a movie, get a pedicure. We'll see. I also plan to get the house in good working order. More organized, cleaned up. Some deep cleaning. And I swear it has nothing to do with my mom's comment last week. Really. I swear. So... Peace On Earth Merry Christmas Happy Holidays Happy Hanukkah Happy Kwanzaa Ho Ho Ho Stay warm and safe. Hold tight to your friends and family. Eat well. Be merry.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Nutcracker

It's a holiday tradition for many and it looks like it will be for us as well.
Teagan has been learning little modified versions of several of the dances in her Saturday morning dance class.
And we recorded the Great Performances presentation of the San Francisco Ballet's performance.
She wants to watch it daily. She wants to listen to the music all the time (good thing we found the CD to buy her as a Christmas gift).
This past Saturday, the parents were invited into the studio to watch the girls' class. They did some warm ups and then Miss Katie led them through all of the Nutcracker dances they'd learned. Basically the entire first act.
It was the best Nutcracker I've ever seen.
Teagan finagled her way to getting the starring role- Clara. That's my stage bound gal! Fight your way to the top and then act really surprised by it!
Clara... greeting her guests as they arrive for the Christmas party.
Clara, dancing with her Nutcracker.
Clara, throwing her shoe at the Rat King. And Clara's shoe hits the mark! The Rat King falls!
The Arabian Dance
The Chinese Dance
The Russian Dance.
The Flower Dance Leaping flowers, full of joy!
I know this will come as a surprise... but I put some pictures of the SF Ballet's production in amongst the pictures of Teagan. It's so hard to tell them apart, isn't it?
And just some bonus shots. Of my beautiful ballerina. I think she is often at her happiest when she is dancing. Her concentration, her focus, her joy, her smiles.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sounds of Silence

My house has one of the best sounds of silence right now. I think silence bears many forms,carries many emotions. Silence can bring eeriness, sadness, comfort. The quiet of my home is a hush. A whisper. I hear the furnace blowing blessed heat into our living space. I hear a plane far overhead, humming as it carries passengers or cargo to an important destination. And then nothing. No sounds reach my ears. A walk down the hallway presents itself with creaks and groans from the floor and my bones. I hesitate. My baby's breathing sighs... in, out. Deep, asleep. Further down the hall. My first child, slumber resting heavily upon her. A gentle snore, a rustle of blankets. I return to the couch. Me, silence, a good book. An ideal moment, frozen in time, in the midst of a hectic afternoon.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Would You Choose to Be Poor?

Would you ever choose to give up everything you have so that you can live a life in poverty? I'm not talking about giving up your earthly possessions so you can follow Christ. Or become a nun who takes a vow of poverty or whatever. I'm talking about being an average, everyday citizen. Who gives up family connections, education, jobs, a home... to be poor. I've known 2 people who seem to have made this choice. In one case, I have no issue with it. In the other, I am greatly saddened. Growing up, my mom and I attended an inner city church for a couple of years. My mom was able to minister generously to many of the families, children, and elderly there. It really fulfilled a calling for her. Once a week, this small church had a soup kitchen. We worked the kitchen on a regular basis. There was a man we came to know well as he was there each week. According to the story that had been pieced together over the course of a few years, our pastor had determined that this man chose poverty. Chose homelessness. He had been a lawyer. A great education, nice house, rising career. But he didn't want it. So he gave it all up and chose to live in shelters, on the streets, taking charity as it was offered. Some would say he was mentally ill. Others might say he was closer to God. Bottom line, to me, was that he was primarily impacting only himself. But there is someone else I've known... and this haunts me. This time, a woman. With a husband and children. I don't know a lot about them. But I know they struggle financially. They yearn to live in a safe neighborhood, far from street violence. They are eager to be comfortable enough to pay their bills every month and maintain a good amount of food and diapers and toiletries in the home. They say they just want a sense of security, stability. This woman is well educated. Very smart. Has incredible potential. But because she believes that staying home with her children is of the utmost importance... because her husband believes that doing a job that means something is more important than doing a job with a livable salary... their children live in an unsafe neighborhood... hungry... needing... This time, my feelings are vastly different. Perhaps because I've known hunger. And not even the kind of hunger and fear that someone who doesn't have a roof over their heads knows. Not even the kind of hunger that is temporarily satiated by a bag of food from a food pantry or a meal from a soup kitchen. I've just known the kind of hunger of having to wait a day or 2 to have something more than a few cups of cereal, a scoop of peanut butter, a jar of pickles. Not enough to make a meal but enough to see you to the next paycheck. But I've at least tasted hunger. So I will do everything in my power to make certain that my children are raised in a safe, secure, loving home. That they do not experience true hunger but that they are empathetic and compassionate to the hungry. I won't be shopping at Hollister or Abercrombie for their clothing... but they will be clothed in outfits suitable for the weather, with warm coats or bathing suits as the season calls for. I just can't understand why someone would turn their back on an extraordinary education... on friends and family who could help out... on even looking for a job, a good job that the extraordinary education could help you land... why would you give all of that up for the sake of living in poverty when you have children depending on you? Looking to you to fulfill their needs? Watching and observing you and the choices you make... wondering why you aren't caring for them, meeting their basic needs. What is the limit? When are the rights of being a parent overruled?

When does someone step in and make it stop? I used to work in foster care so I've seen children removed for neglect. But is that even the answer?

It blows my mind that anyone could be so selfish, so determined to prove a point, so set in their ways, so eager to make a social statement... that they would turn down opportunities to have a fantastic life for their child. That they would rather be prideful than a good parent.

My mom was proud. And taught me to be proud as well. But she also taught me to be humble and to know my limits. To recognize when I needed help.

I guess there aren't answers. Just questions upon questions upon questions.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Wish I Could Say...

The main event that started the recent stress ball rolling was arriving at daycare Wednesday morning to find out that Miss Lisa had been up sick all night- throwing up. Great. And I really loved the part where there was no phone call prior to bundling up children, scraping ice off the car, driving down the sheet of ice on the streets of the neighborhood, making frantic phone calls to find childcare for the kids... and no luck. So Jeff and I split the day. I took the morning and he took the afternoon. And we had decided that we were going to have dinner at church last night and I needed to swing by the food pantry to drop of the Heavenly Ham I had received at work. So the evening was hectic. My mom arrived this morning to take care of the kids- they could have gone to Lisa's since she now passes the "24 hours with no vomit" rule. But we thought a day or two with Grandma would lessen the exposure and give Lisa a break. On my lunch hour, I call home to check in and see how the kids are doing. And I get a lecture about my messy ("filthy" was her word) house. While my mom raised me as a single parent, she seems to have completely blocked out how hard that was. For the past 20 years, she has been a stay at home spouse and mom (There is a 15 and 18 year age gap between me and my brothers so she did things one way with me and then got to do it the "better" way with them). So she has had the time to clean and cook and bake and volunteer. Is my house messy? Absolutely. Is it "filthy?" Nope. Trash went out this morning. I did some straightening up yesterday morning when I was home with the kids. Jeff did dishes this morning. My bathroom (the one everyone uses) gets cleaned every other week or so. Do we have bugs? Nope. Rotting food? Nope. Is there clutter? Yup. Groceries in bags on the floor? Yup. Food sitting out on the counter (fresh fruit, canned goods, bagged snacks)? Yup. Clean laundry in baskets in my bedroom? Yup. I was very hurt and angry. I even cried. And was in shock. Had no clue how to respond. Ended the call. And have been handling it very poorly since. Thank heavens for understanding friends, a husband who gets me... and this giant bag of Cheetos and this cold can of Pepsi by my side. I would have loved to have posted on my blog about how special my mom is. About how lucky we are to have her in our lives. About how much she helps us out. About the special relationship she has with my kids and how I love watching that relationship grow. About how my kids get so excited about Grandma coming and so do I... because that is how it usually is when Grandma comes to visit... that is how I usually feel about my mom. But now I feel small and ashamed and overwhelmed. I feel like going home and going to bed. I feel like going home and telling her she can head back home tonight instead of tomorrow, that we'll be fine without her. She is at my house, cleaning and straightening and so on. And not playing and having fun. She said that Teagan is getting defensive about her cleaning. Well duh. Teagan wants you to play with her and do special projects with her. I'm rambling and all over the place because this is very emotional and scatter-y for me.

What do you say when someone is hurtful like that?

Maybe I should call that French engineer who lives in New England and ask for some pointers.

My Apologies

A quick note... For the past day and a half, I've had trouble logging in to Blogger. I go to sign in and it thinks about it forever and then denies me. So I haven't been able to post and I haven't been able to comment on the blogs I follow. Plus, life got a little hectic and crazy and busy so I just haven't had time. And my job is requiring my time today. And my mom is now in town and staying the night tonight and... See? A little crazy. But I will be back as soon as I can!! Hopefully tonight...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Books and Childhood

I love to read. Makes sense since I love to write. I've been an avid reader since I was a child. I would read books over and over and over and over. I read Black Beauty 20-something times. I was obsessed. I would pretend I was Black Beauty. I would cry every time I read the part about Ginger... don't want to give anything away if you haven't read it. My imagination was very vivid and I pictured the well-described details so clearly... I was reading Lilly's Life today and she wrote about books and reading and books she read as a child and how she selects books based on how the cover looks and gives a great guide to selecting a book by its cover. So go check it out! I started to comment... and realized it was going to get long. So I brought my thoughts back home. I have some memories of books that I don't remember the names of. For example... A book about this popular teenage girl who tries to call this boy she likes but dials the wrong number and ends up talking to this other guy. Lon story short, they become friends on the phone and start to really like each other. Then she finds out who he is... short guy, big nose. And she has to decide if she still likes him or not. Another book was about a girl who would dream things and then they came true. And she would see bad things like a bridge blowing up and stuff. When I was younger, I was obsessed with a picture book that was also informational... The Album of Horses. I would play stable in the hallway of our apartment complex and I named every horse in the book and took care of them... and Black Beauty and Ginger were in that book for me... The funny thing is that I don't remember when I started reading... but I do remember the books I read and loved. The books that offered me an escape from feeling hungry or ashamed. That showed me that there was a better world than the one I lived in that was overwhelmed by chaos and wickedness. When I read, I became part of the world that was offered in those pages. I even created a little cozy reading cubby in my bedroom closest... which was also the scene of the crime that got me kicked out of the Brownies... but I digress. Charlotte's Web... anything by Judy Blume... Bridge to Terabithia... From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler... Harriet the Spy... A Wrinkle in Time... The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe...The Secret Garden... A Tree Grows in Brooklyn... Sweet Valley High... The Against Taffy Sinclair Club... The Girls of Canby Hall... I don't know that I could ever possibly capture all of the books that saved me as a child. From the serious to the silly. Each one holds a special place in my soul.

When Anger Bubbles Up...

... I turn to my blog.
What a morning!
Part of my job is to process paperwork for capital expense projects. This responsibility was previously handled by a different position in our department- but that person left and the responsibilities are just spread out amongst the rest of us now.
Last week, I received one of these projects to review, complete some paperwork, and forward along to the next approver. I thought I would get it done Friday morning but things from my actual job came up that were more pressing so it got pushed to the side. I was working on it this morning and needed clarification on part of it. I sent an e-mail to the engineer who wrote up the project.
Now let me first explain something about this employee. I've never met him but he already has 3 strikes against him when it comes to dealing with the typical Midwesterner.
1. He's an engineer.
2. He lives in New England.
3. He's French.
I'm really not trying to be mean. I've just generally found that a lot of engineers don't come across with the best social skills. They are more logical and to the point and often skip the niceties. I love the people I work with in our New England office... most of them, anyway. But New Englanders typically have a different approach. A more to the point and skip the niceties. Ah ha! A commonality. And then you add in the French thing... 'nuff said, right?
So he e-mails me back with the answer to my question. And ends his one sentence e-mail with...
"what a waste of time..."
So I start debating. Do I e-mail him back? "Yes, you are." Do I call and confront his rudeness directly? Do I ignore it?
Couldn't ignore it. Couldn't just let it go. It was rude and uncalled for and it was under my skin and wasn't going to go away. I needed to understand.
So I called him. No written record, in case it got ugly.
Yep, he meant it towards me. He then apologizes for being "rough."
Stop. Now. Do not even try to imply... and yes, this might be a stretch but this is how it felt... that I can't take it because I'm female.
So I interrupt him. "You weren't rough. You were rude."
I go on to explain to him that given he has never met me, seen me, worked with me, or even talked to me and given that he was wanting me to process this as expediently as possible... rudeness wasn't the best choice. I suggested that in the future, when he wants special attention or favors, he try being polite as that will certainly get him farther in his request. I explained that he and I may well have to work together again someday and I would hate to hold resentment towards him because he has already set rudeness as the precedent.
He then starts explaining that someone else sat on it and blah, blah, blah.
Whatever, dude.
I ended the call and walked around and vented to a friend. I then went to my boss as a CYA. In case this dude got his knickers in a knot and complained- even though I was very polite about it. I even used my best Mommy voice. I wanted her to know the story before she potentially heard it through the grapevine. The cool thing? Totally backed me up and took my side. Totally understood where I was coming from. And as she said... it's only a waste of time if this dude was writing his own personal check, spending his own money on the project. Company money... due diligence... not a waste of time.
And would you like to know my husband's response to my story when I called to relay it to him?
"If that's your attempt at a French accent... it sounds more Indian. I'm just sayin'..."
Thanks, darling.
So that's been my morning. How's your day shaping up?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Corrections: Man-Blogs and Gingerbread RV's

First, it was pointed out that I do, in fact, read a 5th man-blog. My husband's blog. And he did blog about the start of the gingerbread experience. So go check it out.
And in the comments of the Gingerbread entry, Garret joked about finding a gingerbread RV. I took this as a challenge and started Googling and found this:

But then I went to the website from whence this came. I can only dream of this kind of talent. Seriously. This is the stuff of Food Network Challenges.


In order to make up for my horrible over site of forgetting that I read my own husband's man-blog, I dedicate this tinkerkate cake to him...

Be sure to go to the website and see all the pics of all the cakes... and the further pics of the Gingerbread RV and the Dungeon Master... the details are really cool!

The woman who made these cakes is an artist in Philadelphia. She not only does the cake thing, but she also does murals and graphic design for billboards and chalk art. Very cool!!

Amazing how making up for an oversight and taking on a challenge leads you to really cool, neat-o stuff!

I'm Fabulous!

Joanie says so! Well... she says my blog is fabulous. But I think it's an easy step to me being fabu, too, right??
And there are rules. Ack! I need to name 5 other fabulous blogs. And I need to share 5 things that I find fabulous!
Fabulous blogs... You know what? This is really hard!! I went through my Blogger Dashboard to see who I read all the time and the notes I took ended up giving me a list longer than 5! It's also left me realizing that I don't read enough man-blogs. I read 4 man-blogs and the rest are women and many of those are moms. And of the 4, 2 are bloggers I've really connected with (Garret & Jim of RVing and Sam of Dwell & Cultivate). 1 is a new blogger that I haven't learned enough about and the other is a blogger who just puts information out there with some opinion and isn't so much interested in who reads him or what his readers think. I need to expand my blogging repertoire.
Anyway. I am going to force myself to stick with the 5 "rule." I love more than these blogs... but these are 5 that I've been reading for a few weeks now and have really taken something from. And these aren't the folks I've recognized previously with the Gold Card Award.
C. Beth Blog (Also hosts a second blog- The One Minute Writer- which you can link to from the given link)
Adventures in Motherhood and Other Risky Endeavors (And Lisa also has a second blog that I read as often as she posts that is a fabulous blog. You can link to Finnian's Journey on her blog.)
For the others on my list... I just need more time to get to know you!!
And things that I find fabulous...
Dark Chocolate. The good stuff. Hershey's Special Dark is NOT the good stuff. Lindt is close. Vosge hits the mark frequently. Trader Joe's always has excellent dark chocolate (I highly recommend the Concerto Chocolate Sticks). I am a chocolate snob.
Peanut Butter. Almost anything is better with peanut butter.
Fleece pajama pants. Do I really need to explain?
California. I look forward to being able to go visit that state someday, when the kids are older. I've got family out there and friends. And even bloggers! San Francisco is my favorite city. And I have family just north of San Fran.
My family. I was going to try and keep it light hearted. But my family is fabulous and I wouldn't be who I am without them. My kids, my husband, my parents, my siblings (the biological ones and the not-really-related-to-me ones... you know who you are)...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gingerbread Extravaganza!

We spent Saturday afternoon admiring the Gingerbread houses on display at the living history museum near our house- Conner Prairie. Building gingerbread isn't my forte but I imagine that Jeff will someday build extravagant structures and perhaps even enter this competition at Conner Prairie.
Santa's Vacation
Candy Carousel A holiday decorated house... what does that little sign in the yard say?Vote Obama! My goodness! I knew this one was my favorite! (The funny thing is that I live in the "Most Republican County" in the nation and this museum resides in that same county.)
A lighthouse
Cool little detail from the lighthouse- Santa's water sleigh!
A gingerbread stable
A gingerbread version of the game "Candyland"
A gingerbread Nativity
A church- I should have snapped the pic without the flash. The windows were actually lit from inside and glowed- it was really pretty.
2 story gingerbread house with a chewing gum roof
A first place winner- I like the tree in the front window.
I'm so not a Spongebob fan. But this was incredible! And it even had a back! The details on this were really amazing.
Jeff and Teagan started a gingerbread house of their own but it isn't finished quite yet. They are currently building with graham crackers and cherry icing. Hopefully the full scale decorations will get done this week... and maybe Jeff will even share the pics over on his blog- Jeffardy! (Can you tell that I really want him to keep blogging?)