Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

halloween

We Interrupt This Breakdown...

The good thing about Mommy flipping out is that stuff starts getting done. I've been disconnected. Apathetic. I don't know... just... off. The meltdowns get to me more than I want them to. The great tricks and tips up my sleeve seem to be on hiatus. The good news is that when I hit this low point, I take action to make it better. So I am bagging up unplayed with toys. I am throwing away broken things, beyond repair things. I am gathering laundry. I will be taking out my frustrations with a vaccuum, a swiffer dust cloth, cleaning supplies in my bathroom. I have a lot to work out in my head today. I cried on our way home from dance class- quietly. I cried when we got home- in my room, a little louder. I don't know exactly what's wrong but I do know that this just isn't right. No big crisis here-not to worry. I've just got some figuring out to do about happiness, health, home.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Fragments.

Wanna frag along with me? Click the image above to go visit the fantastic Mrs4444's place and join in the fun!

** First… could you do me a favor? There is this competition going on to garner a spot on the list of Indiana’s Top 50 Blogs. Voting is super easy. Click to the site and click on vote. That’s it. No registration or anything. Could you swing a vote my way? I’d love to get on the list! And if you feel like leaving a comment over there… that would just make my day even brighter!! Thank you!!!

** The Harvest Party at Teagan's school was a success! I think the kids really had a good time. My personal fave was the square dancing. They did really well with it and then we did a big old free for all and it was a blast! One little boy took to the floor and was break dancing to bluegrass. It was so fun! I asked Teagan at the end of the day what her favorite part of the party was and she said, "Having Mommy there!" Awwwww!!!

** The meltdown yesterday was apparently just a big old stress reliever for Teagan. She was fine at school and fine when we went out to dinner and fine at Music Team. She loves Music Team (music practice at church with the praise band)- says she likes to hear me sing. She also loves when some of the other group members bring their kids and the kids get free reign over the church and can run around and play and be crazy. It's a great energy release. Well, no other kids came today. And Teagan didn't get a nap this afternoon. About 30 mins before practice was over, Teagan dropped a lego structure she'd come up to show me. She stopped on the steps, put her head down and pouted...

sleepyhead

And fell sound asleep.

** Thanks to a comment made by Karen on that meltdown post yesterday, I happened over to Namaste by Day and looked for information on some sort of seminar that had given the blogger great help in dealing with her 2 year old’s behaviors. This lead me to Love and Logic. I downloaded one of the course offerings- one that I felt I really needed. one on calming the anger- calming your own anger. That really rocked me yesterday. Being so angry that I had to walk away from my daughter because I really felt like I was going to hurt her. I’ve been listening to this conversation about tips on controlling the anger, the frustration. I’ve got one tip that has been working well already- respond with empathy instead of anger. I used it at dinner. “Oh… I’m so sad…” If nothing else, when I dig into this stuff, I always feel more grounded and refocused. Oh! Another interesting tidbit- that I’ve thankfully not had the chance to use yet- is to sing instead of yell. Because you can yell if you are singing…

** I am watching The Office right now and Jim’s costume was FANTASTIC! Anyone else see it??

** Teagan is a child that needs to know the rules and limits and wants to, generally speaking, follow them. She was born into this world with this sense of boundaries. She’s not cautious but she just seemed to know when things were too high, too steep, and so on. She has never colored on a wall. She’s never been told NOT to color on a wall. She’s just always known that coloring is for paper. Zach is the opposite. Zach has to be watched very carefully. He will run directly off the edge of the playground. He will climb to the highest slide without hesitation. He will pick up a pen and write on anything around him. Including the instruction guide to my camera, a small cookbook, and our couch’s ottoman.

scribble

The best part? Jeff and I were right there. Zach was sitting at my feet with a little fire fighter coloring book in his lap. I look down and… ink marks all over the ottoman. Little stinker!!

** Did you hear about the Payless-Oprah deal?? It’s only good today. 50% off your entire order!! I’m taking the kids shoe shopping today!

** I won’t get around to visiting other fraggers until after bedtime because I’m spending the day with both kids at home and I want to be off the computer and on the floor playing! Enjoy your Friday!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

We're Having A Party! And A Meltdown!

Today is the first demonstration of my co-room-parent abilities. Today, the other mom and I go in and do the Harvest Party. This is the first time I've encountered parental competition. Should we change our plans because the other class did this or that? Are we doing enough? Should we make it more exciting? Thankfully, my co-parent is on the same page as I am. We put together our ideas, we came up with our plan, and we are sticking to it. We aren't focusing on what anyone gets but instead on what kind of themed fun we can have. We will open the par-tay (and this is for 3, 4, and 5 year olds) with some Upside Down Apple Bobbing. Instead of apples floating in water, we will have apple slices dangling from dental floss and grown ups will be "fishing" for kids. We figure it's a way to get a little food in them first (the party starts around snack time) and also start off with some silly fun. I've got apples, a knife, and dental floss ready to go! Second activity is mini-square dancing. Nothing terribly difficult. I'm going to line the kids up facing each other. We will march in place to the music, learn a little do-si-do and promenade. I stayed up until 11:30 last night grabbing music off Rhapsody. Started out with Cotton Eyed Joe and ended up finding some great fiddle music and some bluegrass and country tunes from my own childhood. I loaded extra music on the CD because I figure we can use it during other activities. Next we move on to a team-relay pumpkin head activity. Co-mom has these plastic face parts, similar to Mr Potato Head, that are for pumpkins. We have 3 sets of complete faces and 3 pumpkins. I'm pre-setting some holes on them to make it a little easier. The teams will take turns picking a face part and then putting it on the pumpkin. We should end up with 3 silly pumpkins! We have coloring sheets and a special book to read. Final activity is putting together a snack mix. We have all the ingredients. Each child will BE an ingredient and also collect ingredients. We have large bags of items, scoops, and bags for each child. They control what items go in their bags. And it's a nice symbolic activity of it taking the whole group to create the snack. I think the kids will have fun. Except maybe mine. She is, right now, in her room, screaming and crying. I wish I could tell you what set her off. It was somewhere between getting cereal and getting dressed. Jeff and I have both had to walk away as the anger bubbles and bubbles. I am so tired of this. So, so tired. These meltdowns have to stop. It is becoming a greater and greater challenge for me to find a calm place from which to deal with her. I am frustrated that this child has the ability to destroy family days, days off, party days, fun times. I wish I could maintain a mindset that we are somehow allowing her to act this way. I wish I could identify the triggers and fix it. I wish I knew what to do. But I am starting to feel like she is wrecking any semblance of happiness in our home. Jeff and I are still managing to find humor in the meltdowns. We still manage to stand together. And I think that's the most important part. But I'm not sure how much longer my sanity can bear these temper tantrums. So Happy Harvest Party Day. I'm feeling pressure to have a great party, guilt because I don't want to be around my child right now, guilt because I can't make it better and don't have the desire or energy to go soothe her or calm her down or comfort her, frustration because of the screaming and crying and crying, anger because of how each day seems to contain some aspect of her drama, fear that this will never end... I want to be her soft place... I do... Jeff and I both do... but she makes it so very, very difficult. And then I feel guilty all over again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

FOUND

The missing teenager has been FOUND. I don't know all the details. But the police have him and his parents are going to get him. Thanks to all who helped spread the word and offered prayers and support!! The family is very appreciative!

WWW: Who Are Your Soulmates?

Soulmate... From dictionary.com, a soulmate is "one of two persons compatible with each other in disposition, point of view, or sensitivity." Interestingly, if you go by that definition, Jeff is not my soulmate. Our dispositions are pretty different. Our POV's are often different. We have some similar sensitivities... but a lot that are different. I guess that's why love is a choice and marriage is hard work. I love him and choose to love him and be with him. We see a lot of things the same way and a lot of things vastly different. I can't imagine parenting and marriage with anyone but him. But I'm not certain "soulmate" is the right word for us. Is it possible to have a soulmate? Does it have to be a single person? Can you have different soulmates for different aspects of life? Food. Christy is definitely my food soulmate. We have very similar tastes. We both seek out new food experiences. See? Anything can be brought to a soulmate level. But that does take away from the implied meaning of the word. I know for sure that I have a parenting soulmate. I have lots of resources where I can turn for advice when I feel like I'm stuck or needing inspiration. I got through breastfeeding thanks, in large part, to the internet. But there is one person that I can always go to when I need to get back on track. Someone who parents in a style very similar to my own. Someone whose parenting philosophies align with mine. Someone who can help me see the parenting path that I want to be on and helps me find my way back to it. Lindsey. Everyday life. Relationships. Social workings. Life management. Personal philosophies. While this person and I don't match exactly on every topic, we do have a fantastic way of knowing what the other person means. Even when we disagree, we accept the other person's POV and know it is part of who they are. This is someone I am my very genuine self with 90% of the time. I can tell her anything and feel confident that she feels that she can share anything with me. I'll be honest- we can be very judgemental of others. But our judgements are the same. We have similar strengths when it comes to observing and problem solving. We have similar work ethics and talents. Christy. And, finally, my mom. In so many ways, my mom are very opposite. But when you have survived together, lived together, persevered together, struggled together the way she and I have... it's a very unique and connected relationship. I feel very blessed that I can say that my mom, in a sense, is one of my soulmates. There are others... too many to name. I guess, overall, I just tend to feel that anyone that I connect with on a level that is deeper than casual... that is somewhat indefinable... that brings me to a place where I question what I know... that helps me find my way again, helps me define who I am... those are all people that I would personally consider a soulmate. So what's the difference between a soulmate and a friend? Again, this is just my own personal definition. I think that there are all different levels of friendship. Some are more casual, some closer. But a soulmate is going to be someone who knows you so well that they know what you need before you do. And if that's the guideline... Lindsey, Christy, my mom... definitely fall into that category. A friend knows you and likes you. A soulmate knows everything about you and loves you anyway and the feeling and depth of feeling is mutual. And when you go by that guideline, Jeff definitely makes the top of the list. So tell me... who are your soulmates?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

MISSING BOY

ALL INDIANAPOLIS AREA BLOGGERS- PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION.
This boy is the son of a friend of mine. He left school on Monday and no one has heard form him. She thinks he ran away... but he hasn't contacted his family or friends. Please pray... and pass this around to any Indiana contacts you may have. Thank you.

Cooking Concerns

I like to cook. I like preparing food. I like feeding my family. I like eating the food I've cooked. The problem? Cooking takes time. I look for fast fix meals and casseroles and slow cooker recipes. I have enough base knowledge that I can throw together meals with whatever ingredients I have at home. But time... I can't get more time. On a good day, I can get home from work around 5:30. On an average day, I get home around- and usually after- 6:00. Bedtime routine starts no later than 7:00... usually 6:45. Bath, pj's, books, talking, etc. A good 30 minutes. Kids are in bed around 7:30. I prefer to get everyone home and we all get to spend our time being together. That's a challenge when I'm rushing in the door and then spending 20 minutes in the kitchen, rushing to get a meal together. That also delays when the kids get food- and that means giving out lots of snacks, ruining dinner appetites, or having cranky kids. So what to do? We recently went through a span of about 2 solid weeks where we brought food home every single weeknight. I don't like that. It's expensive, it's not healthy, and it sends a bad message to the kids. Last week, I did a lot more cooking but it also meant a lot less face time at Teagan's school. For me to make dinner means that Jeff takes on more of the transportation of children. Last night, I dug out a bunch of cookbooks and those little cooking magazines. I want to re-up my collection of go-to recipes. I want to whet my appetite with new ideas or forgotten ideas. But how to solve the problem of time? I am very fortunate to have a husband who is willing to help out in any capacity. So I suppose that I could have a casserole put together the night before and he would just pop it in the oven at a certain time (he gets home well before I do 95% of the time). The slow cooker isn't always the best option because it tends to cook for too long... we are out of the house for 10 hours of the day some days. So I turn to you, gentle readers, to help me! Give me your most detailed organizational tips. Help me plan weekly menus. Give me tried and true recipes. Tell me what the essential items are for my kitchen to make this work. Help me feed my family!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Florida's Natural. Liar, Liar... Pants on Fire!

I caught an ad on TV the other evening. Florida's Natural was bashing Tropicana because Tropicana's OJ comes from oranges grown in the US and Brazil. It seems that most of the brands of OJ are using oranges from the US and other countries. Florida's Natural wants you to buy from them because they only use oranges grown in the US.

Check out their website with their claims.

I am all for supporting local agriculture. I am all for buying American.

So where does the lie part come in?

Apparently, all of their talk about supporting US farmers and buying American and so on ONLY applies to their orange juice.

As luck would have it, I just happened to pick up a box of Florida’s Natural fruit snacks while shopping at Target last week. Didn’t buy it- for some reason, I picked it up just to look at the label.

floridasnatural

See the Florida’s Natural logo up there? And there is even a big old print area about the fruit being grown in the US.

What difference does it make if the fruit is grown in the US… just to be shipped to CHINA, messed with in CHINA, produced into something else in CHINA, packaged in CHINA, and then shipped back to the US??

flornatchinaSee down there in the distribution info? Where it says “au’some?”

“Made responsibly in China.”

Lots of things are made in China. I work for 3M. We make lots of things in China and many other countries. I support buying American. I also support the global economy.

I just think you should be honest in your advertising.

If your juice is superior because it is made from US oranges, made in Florida… shouldn’t your other products follow the same quality strategy?

If you are promoting your commitment to sustainability, shouldn’t you also be concerned about the resources being used to ship fruit to China (a month by ocean), using Chinese production rules to manufacture your product, using Chinese labor to manufacture your product, and the resources being used to ship your product back from China (yet another month).

I guess Florida’s Natural just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Big Birthday Weekend

video

It's been a very nice birthday weekend- especially given that Teagan is still trying to get over her flu. The cough is hanging on, as is some of the congestion. The fever hasn't returned since Thursday night, thankfully.

Zach has been blessed with people who love him oodles and who have given him some fantastic birthday gifts. Christy was the first big winner with Elmo Live- Elmo sings and talks and tells jokes and blows kisses. Zach greeted Elmo with a big old YAY as soon as he opened the gift bag. Brian brought along a Little People dump truck that carries a load of dirt and beeps and lights up and such. Grandma has been passing on our family's love of Winnie the Pooh for years now so it's most appropriate that she bought Zach a DVD of The Tigger Movie- which we watched yesterday and everyone enjoyed. Daddy got Zach a copy of The Land Before Time- we are watching it now and we are all loving it. Funny how the older animated films don't rely on special effects or snappy dialogue. Music tells a lot of the story- and my kids love it. Teagan picked out a Little People Airplane set that both kids have been enjoying. Mimi and Pop-pop came in with a full load of toys and a box stuffed with new clothes- a Colts athletic suit, new pajamas, a dino shirt (I haven't gone through all of it yet- he's set for the winter, though). And the toys!!! Big hits include a tub full of plastic dinosaurs, the Fisher Price Imaginext Spike Jr dino (he walks and roars and laughs), a farm animals toy, and a WonderPets seek and find book.

We ate dinner at a local spot called Casler's Kitchen and Bar. It was really good!! The service started out... meh... When we got there, there was no one else there. We purposefully did an early dinner (5:00) for that reason. I had to get up and go find our server to get our drink order placed. Things improved after that, though. The food definitely made up for it. Check out the link for the menu so you can really understand what all we had. Chicken Satay appetizer, ants on a log, garden sticks (with homemade ranch dressing that was delish), grilled tuna salad, baked brie plate, BLTA, pork tenderloin sandwiches, tarragon chicken salad sandwich, onion rings, cajun chicken salad. The menu descriptions don't really do the food justice- it was super tasty. And some of the menu items were so unique- the baked brie and my salad, for example. It's definitely a restaurant that we will be going back to again!!

Happy Birthday to my little boy. We are so blessed to have so many who love you... to be surrounded with friends and family. You have brought so much joy and laughter to our family, to our home. Here's to many more years of these birthday celebrations!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wednesday's Weekly Writings

Announcing!!! A new opportunity to participate in a writing assignment... questions to get you thinking and an opportunity to share your thoughts, opinions, experiences with the purpose of broadening other people's understanding and maybe gaining insight into your own experiences in a different way.

Topics will be posted in advance so you can start thinking about what you have to say and share. Each Wednesday, my own post will go up and I invite you to come and share a link to your own blog answering that week's question.

When sharing your Writing, keep in mind that the answer should be personal- based on your own observations, opinions, experiences. No one is seeking answers to great societal and cultural questions! Upcoming topics: Oct 28 Soulmates Nov 5 Teachable moments Nov 11 Gratitude Nov 18 Joy Nov 25 Forgiveness Dec 2 Traditions Dec 9 Happiness Dec 16 Role Models Dec 23 Christmas Stories Dec 30 Accomplishments

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Friday Fragments- A Birthday Edition!

Friday

It’s a big day today- one that I knew was coming but that still managed to sneak up on me.  I’ve been distracted with Zach’s illness, Teagan’s illness, work stress… but no excuses.  Today is a day of celebration.  Today, my baby boy turns 2 years old. 

My water broke at kick off of Monday Night Football on Oct 22, 2007.  16+ hours later, Zachary Robert was born.  He was a big baby- 9 lb 6 oz- and ate well (gained 1 pound in his first week), slept well (slept 10 hours a night in the hospital), and was a generally easy baby.  He has taught us a lot about joy and love. 

My smooshy newborn…8770 

My big boy- 2 years old!

zachage2

Teagan is doing a little better. No more complaints of leg pain.  The fever seems to come and go and the cough has gotten phlegmier. 

I need your input!!  For the last 2 weeks, some blog friends and I have done some “assigned subject” exploratory sharing blogging… It started with 1 idea and grew to a second and… it seems to be well received.  I don’t think Thursday is the best day as there are other memes that many bloggers participate in. So maybe Wednesday would be better?  Let me know your thoughts… and watch for info coming up!

Yay for the Senate passing the gay hate crimes bill!!!

Today is Oct 23. This would be a great day for you to go and feel your boobies if you haven’t done so recently.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Early detection is the key. 

October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  There are some blogs that I follow who are very passionate on the subject and use blogging as a medium to educate and empower.  Please take some time to visit Heather at Singing With My Heart and Maggie at Okay. Fine. Dammit.    Heather is asking people to Comment for a Cause in October.  Maggie has an ongoing project- Violence Unsilenced.  Take some time and visit these blogs and sites and read some amazing stories of bravery.  Maybe you will find a way to empower someone in your own life who is living a violent secret.

CJ Boyfriend Jeans… I caught a few minutes of Oprah yesterday- anyone know more about Cookie Johnson’s line of jeans?  All I can tell is that they seem to be insanely expensive.

I love when good sportsmanship gets punished… grrr… read this about a tennis player who is in trouble for something that was, essentially, a good deed.

A fireball in Indy yesterday… very scary, causing many traffic problems that will be ongoing for some time… Fireballs shooting hundreds of feet in the air.  An overpass and surrounding area burnt to a crisp.  2 billboards caught on fire.  A cell tower on fire.  A major section of I-465 closed.  A tanker truck overturned- he was carrying liquid propane. The miracle?  No one died.  When the tanker flipped, the cab came loose and tore away from the tank that exploded.  The truck was carrying multiple tanks and only 1 exploded.  And no one died.  It was all rather surreal. Click on the pic below to read about it from one of our local TV affiliates.

tankerexplosion9_20091022194702_640_480

I hope you have had a good week and that you enjoy the weekend ahead of you.  I also hope that my daughter gets healthy and my son can enjoy his birthday celebrations with his entire (healthy) family.  Happy Friday!

What Does It Mean To Be A Man?

After the wonderful insights and opinions shared with last week's topic assignment, we are at it again! Lori contacted me and suggested we flip the question around- What does it mean to be a man? Obviously, I am not a man so this is a much harder question for me to answer. From dictionary.com: an adult male person, as distinguished from a boy or a woman. What does it mean to me that Jeff is a man? That my dad is a man? That my brothers are becoming men? In exploring my thoughts on my own womanhood, I found that I was most connected to womanhood through my experiences with childbirth and breastfeeding. But I don't equate my husband's manhood to him impregnating me. To me, Jeff being a man means that I have someone to turn to, someone to protect me, someone to save me, someone who is stronger and faster, someone who can open jars and hammer things. He can hangs shelves and install dishwashers and faucets and fix dryers and install screens. Of course, there are women who can do the same. I'm not one of them- or at least, I prefer not being one of them. To me, Jeff or my dad or my brothers being men means they are responsible, trustworthy, protectors, providers, foundation layers. I needed input from a man in my life for this one. So I asked Jeff- What does it mean, to you, to be a man? "It means you don't cry when you're punched. It means you grow up being taught not to cry. Just kidding- that's all BS. To me, being a man is the same as being a woman. Being a man means being yourself, being true to who you are. My Dog Skip made me cry. Father of the Bride made me cry. Does that make me less of a man? My daughter made me cry because I didn't know how to be a father (when she was born). I was completely overwhelmed but I knew she couldn't take care of herself. I knew I needed to protect her and provide for her- even if I felt like I didn't know how or even if I could do it. And that's what bugs me about people who don't take care of their kids. They can be all tough and beat people up and shoot guns... but can't take responsibility for their kids, their marriage, their home." So for Jeff, being a man means being yourself, being a protector, being a provider, and being responsible. He's a man, he's a man, he's a man... he's a mighty good man! What about you? What does it mean to be a man? What are your expectations of the men in your life?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When Mommy Worries

The aliens returned yesterday. My sense of humor about it left with the mothership the night before. It was not a fun evening in our house. And now I'm worried. I think we have some of the explanation of Teagan's behavior. She's sick. Broke out a 99.7 fever last night. She's had a cough for a couple of days now. She's home sick with Daddy- who is also under the weather with chest congestion and a cough. I don't normally fret much when my kids are sick. It's a stressor, sure. Extra care and comfort, medicine, humidifiers, vaporizers, tissues, night wakings. Hearing my babies cough, sneeze, be hoarse. It's not easy. But it happens and I take it in stride as best I can. Kids get sick. Adults get sick. But we got an e-mail from school yesterday. It was a reminder of the illness policy. And it also shared the following: We have had NO confirmed cases of H1N1, and one confirmed case of influenza. Finally, I want to make you aware of a virus that we are seeing for the second time. We have had two children who have had cold/flu like symptoms and toward the end of the occurrence, they both experienced severe pain in their legs. Both of them began with slight pain, mentioning it in passing. The pain increased over a period of 2-3 days, until both of them were unable to support weight on their legs at all. Both of these children were diagnosed with a virus that has settled and is attacking their joints. The virus should resolve itself, and leave no residual effects. I tell you this because, a) it would be extremely frightening to see your child wake up and not be able to walk. and b) I want you to be alert to any symptoms such as this which aren't necessarily "typical" of what we're on the lookout for right now. Teagan has been waking at night, legs thrashing, muscles constricting, crying and seeming to be in pain. But when she's been asleep, you can't wake her enough to tell you what's going on. So I'm scared she has this virus or maybe has this virus or might be getting this virus or... It's not like she's never woken with leg pain. She seems prone to growing pains and has had a charley horse from time to time. But that knowledge about the 2 kids at school, coupled with her out of character behavior the past 2 evenings, the night waking, and now the fever... I'm concerned. I'm stressed. I'm worried. When Zach was only a few months old, I felt this worry. He had a respiratory illness. We made a few trips to the doctor, one trip to the ER. It wasn't RSV, it wasn't asthma. We set up a canopied area with a humidifier in the living room. Eventually, we turned our bedroom into his medical room- humidifier running, menthol plugins, TV and rocking chair. My mom stayed with us to help out so we could find time to go to work, be at home, trade off care time. It was hard, it was stressful, I was worried about what would happen next. I haven't been very concerned about H1N1. I don't know that we will be able to get the vaccine since it seems to be in such short supply these days. I have mixed emotions about the whole thing but my general sense is we just spend the next several months being even more cautious about hand washing, kitchen and bathroom cleaning, replacing toothbrushes monthly instead of every 6 months, washing pillow cases, towels and sheets more often and in hot water. But this virus attacking the joints... if Teagan gets that... if Zach gets that... I don't know what I will do. It scares me. I don't know how or if I can handle my babies being in pain that I can do nothing to salve. I'm getting choked up right now just thinking about it. I hate this. I hate feeling out of control, facing the unknown. Being a working parent complicates matters. I have to admit that work provides a nice escape and plenty of distraction. And then I feel guilty for feeling that way. I want to be home. I want to be able to observe and see with my own eyes how she is doing. I want to be there to encourage her to eat soup and drink juice. I want to snuggle with her on the couch and watch movies together. I want to read her books and help her play on the computer (she loves PBSKids.org and Starfall). Jeff is able to stay home with her today and he will take great care of her and maybe even feel up to doing a little around the house- some laundry, sorting clean clothes, straightening up the living room. There's just still this Mommy guilt at not being there myself. Zach was sick last week. Teagan and Jeff are sick this week. I'm hoping my turn can at least wait until my already scheduled time off next week. There is just a lot going on the next 10 days... Zach's 2nd birthday, Teagan's school's family Harvest Party, Zach's birthday celebration and dinner, Teagan's class Harvest Party that another mom and I are throwing (as co-room parents), Halloween. I think I could squeeze in my own illness on 10/30. So keep us in your thoughts and prayers, please. We are blessed that Zach's illness last week wasn't any worse than it ended up being. He's still a bit congested but he is a little better each day. He's had Miss Lisa mostly to himself since last Thursday- another boy has croup and another is also very sick (he has asthma, is sick, and has had a trip or 2 to the ER with this round of illness). Now- go wash your hands.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Anyone else catch the alien invasion at my house yesterday?

Someone needs to alert the authorities. Roswell? I have no clue what branch of the Government can help with this information. Men in black, perhaps? It's not really a Ghostbusters type of call. But anyone who can help with things beyond the realm of understanding needs to be notified and brought in. I've discovered their secret. They don't do middle of the night, take you while you're sleeping, probe you in uncomfortable places anymore. Oh no. They are well beyond that. They are now doing social experiments. They are studying our reactions to stress. They are pushing us to see how much we can take, how far they can go. Here's how it happens. They swoop in looking all adorable and sweet. Smiling and laughing and having a great time in a chauffeured vehicle. You think of them lovingly and are enjoying your time with them. You don't see The Change. You can't feel it. It is completely undetectable. But it has to be there. It definitely happens. I believe it occurs when the 2 undercover aliens, disguised as your children, come in contact with each other. There must be a chemical reaction that happens in the air between them. They will pretend to be sweet towards one another to lull you into a false sense of joy and peace.
And within a split second, the aliens break down into mass hysteria. Tears, screaming, whining, sobbing, yelling. From happy and smiling and laughing to the most miserable person on our planet in .2 seconds. The screaming and whining will happen in your front yard, on your front porch, in your entryway, in your kitchen, and even in your living room. You will make every effort to contain the meltdown in your mass confusion over what has transpired. These little creatures looked exactly like my adorable, kind, and loving children mere moments before. But this hysteria... there was no snack, no TV show, no bribe that could contain it. It wasn't calmed by blankies or time alone in your room. It came out of nowhere and beat Jeff and I to an emotional bloody pulp.
This is how they will get us. This is how they will take over. They will appear in adorable and sweet form. They will then work their way into our brains through their shrill screams and shrieks and stomps. They will attempt to take control of our brains by demanding snacks and drinks and entertainment. They will refuse to eat what they are served and attempt to scream until given dessert. They will shriek and wail when sent to bed, vying for book reading, food, hugs, potty breaks, drinks of water, teeth brushing and anything else that might possibly delay the inevitable return to their home planet.
They are a sly and cunning lifeform. We have to be on our toes, alert, watching, prepared for anything they throw at us. It's going to get worse before it gets better. You may have seen signs in your own home. Pets aren't immune- cats and dogs vomiting up kibble and hairballs, birds shredding poop encrusted cage liners. Be warned! Be ready! They're heeee-eeere!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Taking Advantage of a Blackout

It was a beautiful fall day here. Bright blue sky, fluffy white clouds. Temp was around 50 all day. It was nice to be able to turn the heat off after such a chilly week and even open the back sliding door and a front window. I always enjoy some fresh air in the house! I was in the kitchen, cleaning up, getting ready to make dinner. I was being totally domestic- wearing an apron and even scrubbing the metal ring thingee on the stove burners. Taco night at our house! We'd even picked up some sweet corn cake mix to go with it. I was looking forward to tacos, rice, and time with the family. Outside, I hear a Pop-Fizzle! Jeff jumped up and started looking around... and then we heard it again. And then the power went out. Thankfully, it was 5:30 in the evening so we weren't trapped in actual darkness. We went outside for a walk- mostly to kill time. Visited with a neighbor, the kids played in the front yard. As we came in, Teagan took a hard fall- caught herself with her knee and elbow. Hit and scrapped- even shredded up the material on her leggings. We tried to wait it out... but decided a Plan B was needed. The kids were tired and hungry. No decent napping happened in our house today so we were already pushing the limits of their patience. After the fall, Teagan was bordering on hysteria if we didn't make good choices. Instantly, in the midst of a girl crying in pain from scrapes and a boy crying because he's exhausted, my mind formulated a plan and sent orders out my mouth. I didn't think anything through. It was all instinct and instant action was required. Plan B: Candlelight bathtime... get pajamas on... load into that wonderful new minivan... pop in a movie... drive thru McD's for dinner... and eat in the van while watching a movie. Kids get clean and are ready for bed. Dinner is covered- even if it isn't anything close to a healthy meal. Kids are quiet and entertained by a classic cartoon- The Smurfs. The family is enclosed in a small space so we can't avoid being together. I was looking forward to it. Handling something out of the ordinary, finding a way to spend time together... using a stressful event as an excuse for family togetherness.
As we were getting out of the tub, the lights came back on.

And we went with Plan B anyway.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Anniversary, My Love!

6 years ago today, Jeff and I traveled to Gatlinburg, TN to become man and wife. Last year, I finally compiled all my notes and journaling into some blog entires- detailing our entire weekend. I love going back and reliving it. I look forward to someday spending an anniversary back there, maybe even in our same cabin. The Drive Down- Adventures in Marriage Licensure It's funny to go back and read this post and remember the people who came down to TN to be with us when we got married. Some are people we rarely see anymore (due to taking time off from our theatre involvement) like the Murello-Todd Family. Some are people we have cut out of our lives since having children like Jeff's mother. Some are people no longer attached to us (and we continue to be very thankful for that) like the person who is now Jim's ex-boyfriend. Our Wedding Day The preparations, the pictures, the adorable little chapel... The Reception and Our Night Out The reception at our cabin and an evening out with friends and family at Sweet Fanny Adams. The Day After and The Long Hike Sunday was a day in Gatlinburg spent with friends. And Monday was a day that will be forever known as "The Day Liz and Christy Decided to Torture Themselves."

***

Last night, Christy babysat and we went out on a date to celebrate our 6 years of marriage. Dinner (Red Lobster) and a show (I Do! I Do!). We laughed- a lot. We held hands. We relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. It was lovely.

We've had 6 relatively smooth years. We tend to make adjustments here and there. We have our angry moments, our frustrated moments. We talk things through when needed. We laugh. We love. We take each day as it comes.

6 short years down... and here's to decades more...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Frankie

Christy has a new friend. And I have to admit that... I'm jealous. Christy and this new friend have really hit it off. They spend several evenings together a week. Out for several hours on various adventures, eating, drinking, whatever. Frankie is married. Pregnant. And she is all Christy talks about anymore. I can sense that she tries to hold back. I'm sure I do a little something, maybe bristle or get quiet... but every morning... Frankie, Frankie, Frankie. Frankie is so funny! Frankie gets into the most hilarious situations! Frankie's belly is huge! Frankie did this or that. I'm not used to it. Christy has other friends, sure. And we've certainly had lengthy conversations about a night watching movies at Anne's or going out for a drink with Chris or meeting up with a group of folks for whatever kind of event. And I get to hear lots of details of who said what and how the food was and what predicaments everyone is getting themselves into. And it's never bothered me. But this thing with Frankie... it's different. It's like they are getting to be really close. Getting to know each other in a deeper way. Christy is my best friend. We think the same thoughts and finish each other's sentences and just have this level of understanding. And maybe that's being replaced. The good news is that Frankie's presence is temporary. In about 4 weeks, I will have the chance to meet her. About 3 weeks after that, she will begin to fade. By the new year, she will be a set of memories, stories. Frankie is the character that Christy is playing in The Belfry's upcoming production of "Christmas Belles." Having been in theatre in my past, I get it. The process of developing a character, studying the script, memorizing lines, incorporating blocking (movement)... I've done it before. I've helped Jeff do it before. We've worked it through when in shows together. The character becomes part of your daily life and thoughts. You may not intend for it to happen... but every day things start to link back to something from rehearsal, something in the script. A conversation can spark ideas of things to try or inflections to experiment with. Christy is working really hard to completely "get" Frankie. Which means I get to hear about ideas, rehearsals, lines, commentary. It's the first time I've been somewhat immersed in the process without it being my process. On the drive to work- Christy has her script in hand and she talks about the previous night's rehearsal. At lunch, she brings her script to the gym and studies it while on the treadmill. On the drive home, she asks for input on accents, line delivery, and continues with tales of rehearsal, ideas for the character, and so on. So while Frankie isn't an actual person that is actually taking up any of Christy's time, energy, and attention... Christy is putting a lot of time, energy, and attention to bring Frankie to life as much as possible. Because when you are breathing life into something that exists in black and white print... when you are getting inside someone else's non-existent skin... when you are making room in your life for the existence of another person... it has to become part of you. And if something becomes so vastly important in Christy's life, it only makes sense that it is going to become part of mine. Such is life... in the theatre.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Fragments

Another week, another set of fragmented thoughts! Muchos gracias to our lovely host, Mrs4444 of Half-Past Kissin' Time. ** One of my dearest friends is blogging now! She participated in yesterday's subject assignment so hopefully you visited her then. She is my parenting soulmate... she is one of my personal heroes... I hope you get to know her and her blog! LindseyMommy ** Speaking of yesterday... I really enjoyed visiting various blogs and reading different personal opinions on what it means to be a woman. It was really interesting and I learned a lot about myself and my sisters in womanhood. Thank you to everyone who participated! ** Ca-Joh hosts a Friday meme called Friday's Feast. This week, he's asking for recipes so I wanted to share a couple of my favorites. Since we've got the U.S. holidays coming up, I thought I would share the dish that I bring to all family holiday meals. I also want to share a seasonal recipe that I haven't made yet this year but will be making soon. Please understand that I tend to start with a recipe and then I just wing it after the first time. So my written recipes are kind of free form. Cranberry Sauce 1 bag of cranberries 1 can jellied cranberries 1 jar simply fruit orange marmalade 1 bag chopped walnuts Chop up the cranberries. Put jellied cranberries and marmalade in a saucepan. Once warm, add well chopped cranberries. Cook until cranberries have no more white showing. Stir in walnuts, remove from heat. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve. Great with turkey, pork loin, chicken... Liz's Canned Chili - 2 lb ground beef, browned with garlic and onion, drained - Cans of tomato product. I always use Red Gold and I prefer to use petite diced. 2 cans tomato sauce. 2 cans petite diced tomatoes. 2 cans chili ready with onion tomatoes. 1 can petite diced tomatoes with chilies. - 1 can red kidney beans, drained (can use 2 if you like beans) - chili powder, cumin (to taste; about 1 tb of each to start) - 1 or 2 cans of water Take all ingredients, except water, and add to crock pot. Stir. If it seems thick, add some water. Put the lid on and cook on high 2-3 hours or low 5-6 hours. You can't really go wrong in the crock pot so time isn't hugely important. If you plan to let it cook a long time, go for the low setting. This is a great dish for parties and pot lucks! Serve with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onion, jalapenos, fritos, or whatever else you like with chili! ** We have a new arrival in the Chandler household. I am super duper excited about it. Teagan is also super excited. She's been asking for this for a long time. We've been wanting this for a long time. We are pleased to introduce... Fergie!

** I always name my cars. It started with Morris the Taurus. Then Puff the Magic ECHO. My last car was a Hyundai Sonata named Maggie (I think). And now a Chrysler Town and Country named Fergie. I name my cars with a specific method. As soon as the car is officially yours, you turn on your favorite radio station. Whatever song is playing... the name of your car is in that song. Morris... It was a Doors song (Jim Morrison). Puff... thank you, Peter, Paul and Mary. Maggie... I think I got somethin' to say to you. Fergie... Tonight's gonna be a good, good night! ** I wish I could have taken a picture. The exit ramp we take to get home from work is often populated by someone with the cardboard-and-sharpie sign, sharing an abbreviated version of their trials and tribulations and asking money, food, money, work, money... Classic fail yesterday evening. Guy on the corner, bundled up, hood up, cardboard sign in hand, walking up and down the side of the road, hoping for that handout... with a sign that read, "Cripled, hungry. Need money." He walked amazingly well considering his apparent disability.

** Have you seen or heard the annoying ads for Taco Bell's Black Jack Taco? The ads are grating... and that taco scares me! I've certainly seen colored chips- like blue corn being used to make blue chips. But I've never seen black corn. Except when it is burnt to a crisp. So I have to wonder how in the world they made a black taco shell. I assume dye. And I have to wonder what consuming that kind of dye would do to my digestive system. Ick. The whole idea is just... ick!

I think that's random enough for this week! Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What Does It Mean To Be A Woman?

My name is Liz. I am a woman. But what does that mean to me? Throughout my life, I've reached milestones that seemed to launch me into womanhood. Age 14... I got my period! Now I'm a woman! Age 19... I lost my virginity! Now I'm a woman! Age 25... I got married! Now I'm a woman! Age 27... I got divorced! Now I'm a divorced women! Age 29... I'm married again! Now I'm a woman (again)! Each of those milestones continue to be important and all were steps into womanhood. But what does it mean, to me, to be a woman? From dictionary.com: Synonyms: Woman, female, lady are nouns referring to adult human beings who are biologically female; that is, capable of bearing offspring. Woman is the general term. It is neutral, lacking either favorable or unfavorable implication, and is the most commonly used of the three: a wealthy woman; a woman of strong character, of unbridled appetites. In scientific, statistical, and other objective use, female is the neutral contrastive term to male and may apply to plants and animals also: 104 females to every 100 males; Among lions, the female is the chief hunter. Female is sometimes used in disparaging contexts: a gossipy female; a conniving female. Lady meaning “refined, polite woman” is a term of approval or praise: a real lady in all things; to behave like a lady. Usage note: Although formerly woman was sometimes regarded as demeaning and lady was the term of courtesy, woman is the designation preferred by most modern female adults: League of Women Voters; American Association of University Women. Woman is the standard feminine parallel to man. As a modifier of a plural noun, woman, like man, is exceptional in that the plural form women is used: women athletes; women students. The use of lady as a term of courtesy has diminished somewhat in recent years (the lady of the house), although it still survives in a few set phrases (ladies' room; Ladies' Day). Lady is also used, but decreasingly, as a term of reference for women engaged in occupations considered by some to be menial or routine: cleaning lady; saleslady. See also girl, lady, -woman. *** This phrase resonates with me: Woman, female, lady are nouns referring to adult human beings who are biologically female; that is, capable of bearing offspring. In a general sense, this isn't a whole definition for me. Because I know many women who aren't capable of bearing offspring for many, many reasons. But that bit... it does feel right for me and my sense of womanhood. When I was approaching labor with Teagan, I wanted to try to go natural in my birthing process. A drug-free, epidural-free birth is best in most cases but not generally achieved or even sought after in our culture. But I was doing my best to make all the right choices in my pregnancy, birthing, feeding. I also had concern- great concern that I discussed with my doctor- that the pain of contractions and delivery would result in potential flashbacks to abuse I suffered as a child. When labor began... it really wasn't that bad. The contractions were strong but totally within my realm of pain management. And then my water broke. That changed everything. When a contraction would hit, I dug deep within myself and could feel my entire body focusing in and down toward the contraction. The pain was immense and undescribable. I would shut down into myself and groan and get gutteral. And while it was intense and led to my getting the epidural... I don't know that I've ever felt more like a woman than in those contractions. And I felt connected to the thousands of generations who birthed babies before me. It was a sensation that I've never experienced before. Breastfeeding also defined my womanhood. Hard to find the words to describe that. But providing nutrition to my babies with my body, with milk created just for them and designed specifically for their needs... it's very empowering. Do child birth and breastfeeding alone define my being a woman? Nope. So what else is it? Maybe Jeff has some insight. With us being of the hetero- variety, he must have found something womanly to match his manly. So I pose to him this question: "What does it mean, to you, that I am a woman?" He says that me being a woman means that I have double X chromosomes. He is Mr. Science! But he also says that me being a woman means that I am caring, compassionate, looking out for others. Me being a woman means that he is drawn to me. He says that me being a woman makes me hard for him to understand because I use my heart while he tries not to (he prefers to stick with logic). My womanhood means we can procreate and have children. What does it mean to be a woman? I asked some of my blogging friends to answer the same question from their own personal perspective. I hope you will go and visit their blogs and read their own insights! The Fourth Frog Blog LindseyMommy A T Revival My 2 Sense If you would like to answer this question- be it from your perspective as a woman or a man or just share some opinions- please use MckLinky below and share your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coming Soon, To A Blog Near You!

I'm very excited about what's coming tomorrow... and I hope that you will come and participate!!
I've got a group of bloggers who will all be answering the same question. We each take the question and write about it from our own personal perspective. It's not a question with right or wrong answers- it's all about broadening understanding and seeing someone else's perspective.
We will have our little blog circle that will post up Thursday morning- I will have links to the other participating. And if you decide to participate, I'll have a MckLinky posted so you can share your own thoughts.
Tomorrow's question is: What does it mean to be a woman?
Don't think this is limited to being a woman... and feel free to put your own spin on it. Tomorrow, you will have several perspectives to read and then I truly hope you will join in and share your own thoughts!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No Time for Blogging...

Some days, there just isn't time for fun. Today is one of those days.
Zach is sick. He woke up yesterday morning with a congested nose. I had actually discovered it the night before after he went to bed. We immediately set up the menthol steam thingee and propped him up on an extra pillow. He went to daycare yesterday but had a fever at the end of the day. Rough night last night and the congestion has gotten less runny out the nose and more into his throat. Loaded up the fridge with pudding and jello... he is home with Daddy today.
He apparently finds comfort in wearing his pajamas... Jeff sent me this pic... Zach apparently decided to try and put on a second pair of pajama pants. You can see how miserable he feels- look at that pathetic little face.
So I am trying to be uber-productive at work today in case I need to head home at some point.
Things to look forward to:
- Tomorrow I am going to share some info about a bloggy thing I'm trying out for Thursday. You will have a chance to participate, too. Put your thinking caps on and start mulling it over now... "What does it mean to be a woman?" And yes- men can and should answer this same question.
- Our 6 year anniversary is this weekend. Yay us! Christy has generously offered to babysit. Original plan was to have dinner at The Melting Pot. But we found something free and very appropriate instead. 2 friends of ours are in a production of "I Do! I Do!" Since Jeff and I met doing theatre and since the show is about the 50 year marriage of a specific couple... it's just right!
- My BFF, Jim, has a really cool project that was officially announced yesterday. He's the guy who writes for Marvel but this project is not tied in with marvel. It's his own collaboration with an artist- a mdoern fairy tale. He's told me a lot about it and it sounds amazing! The Return of the Dapper Men
I take back what I said before. There is always time for some fun. Always!
I might have shared this before- this guy (Sam Tsui) is AMAZING. This is such a perfect song in so many ways... and this one kid does EVERYTHING in this video. If you haven't seen it- you are missing out!!
And flash mobs are just always fun... I would so love to be caught up in one someday... life becoming a true musical... Hope you find some fun in your day today!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Can You Go Home Again?

I had a very chaotic adolescence. I was acting out, desperately seeking attention from someone who would be able to know what had been done to me in my childhood. I was wild- I lied, I stole, I fought and raged. I didn't drink or do drugs or sleep around. But I worked hard to get someone to notice me while also trying to force my family to hate me. Life was generally not fun in our home- because of me. But my parents continued to try and try to keep things normal and keep a strong foundation. One way this was done was with our home church. I grew up in the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod (LCMS). My grandpa is a pastor. My mom and I were very involved in our church home back in Kentucky for my childhood and we quickly found a solid church home when we moved to Ohio. I grew up in this church and was supported through some really difficult times. This church was where my memories formed of VBS (Vacation Bible School), retreats, and summer pig roasts. There were winter craft fairs, choir rehearsal, and it was the place where I found my singing voice. It was at church that life felt safe and normal. No matter how much we fought at home... there were many Sundays that I sat next to my mom in that church pew and laid down with my head in her lap or that I rested my head on her shoulder. Church was where the love was- and I could demonstrate it and receive it freely. When I went off to college and my parents moved to the other side of town, we disconnected from that church. My mom joined an Evangelical Lutheran church, I stayed away from church altogether (but held fast to my belief in God- I just struggled with the mixed messages I was receiving through my life experiences, my conversations with God, and the teachings of my religious base). I hadn't been back to that church in about 17 years. I've often wondered what happened to those kids I grew up with. One family in particular- we were really close. Sleepovers, weekend afternoon adventures, our parents were friends. A sibling set of 3 and I loved them all. 2 of the 3 are now in leadership roles in that church. And the middle child, whom I was closest with, organized this Confirmand Reunion this past weekend. Lutheran Confirmation is a Big Deal. You spend a few years going to Confirmation Class, studying Luther's Catechism and the Bible. You become well indoctrinated in all aspects of the Lutheran Church. It's an affirmation of your baptism whereupon you become a full member of the church, taking responsibility for your growth and development in your service to God. In my days there, the youth group was pretty strong. Not a huge group but a tight group. Walking back into that church was... weird. So much was exactly the same! So much hadn't changed! Even more astounding was that the people were the same. It's impressive for a church to retain that membership... but these people even LOOKED the same. It was crazy! I felt a little bit like a child all over again. The culture difference between my current church and this church was astounding. They are good people, hard working people, caring people and they see and understand and follow God differently than I do. We all find the way that works best for us. But I love my "kids running around, people hugging and holding hands, singing praise songs and hands held high" church! It's completely outside of how I was raised- my current church is praise and glory and celebration instead of guilt and forgiveness and wrongdoings. And this weekend really drove that home. But you could still feel God's presence there. Part of the purpose of this reunion was an effort to revitalize this church. To bring people back home. They fully recognize that many have grown up to find other churches, moved away, etc and they support you. But if you are looking for a church, please consider coming back. As my friend said to the congregation, we loved growing up here and we have fantastic memories (which is very true) and we don't want to lose that. They want to bring youth back to the church and to find growth again. After service, there was a "light lunch." Lutherans doing a light lunch? Really? I don't know if you've ever heard of Garrison Keillor (Prairie Home Companion) but he truly captures Lutheran culture in his tales of Lake Wobegon. In particular... the food. In particular... the potlucks. When I moved to Indiana, I had to change my vernacular. They don't do potlucks here. I grew up on potlucks. Here, they do a "pitch in." Now, it is basically the same thing, same premise- everyone brings food to share. Right? Gotta say wrong. I would never dream of bringing anything store bought to a potluck. Ever. About the lowest I'd go would be to grab some fried chicken from the local grocery so I could bring it still hot and I would only do that if I was in from out of town and had no access to a kitchen. But a pitch in... I have no problem bring chips and dip or some other store prepared food or something that I just have to open a package to serve. I had assumed that the luncheon was going to be a potluck. Because this was a reunion, a homecoming. And any excuse to come together and share comfort food... well, that's part of what binds Lutherans together. We build our community on our service to God, our use of Velveeta, and our creativity with chopped ham. But this was a "light lunch." Don't misunderstand- the food was good and was prepared with loving hands. Small sandwiches made with banana bread and cream cheese, mini chicken salad sandwiches, little triangles of PB&J... a fruit platter, a veggie platter, a relish tray. Fantastic punch (including a very pretty frozen sherbet ring floating in it) and a large sheet cake. A wonderful spread for most any occasion. But... No casseroles. No broccoli florets drowning in a cheesy sauce, hidden by chunks of potato. No Crock Pot of meatballs. No casserole with ingredients hidden by the crushed Ritz cracker topping. No pudding or jello salad. No selection of 4 different style of scalloped potatoes. No stringy, gooey macaroni and cheese. Not even a basic green bean casserole. A homecoming with a light lunch just doesn't call back memories of home! I got out of it what I came for- to reconnect with some dear friends, to see the people who were a large part of my connection to God while growing up, to sit in the pews with my family- the same pews where I sat with my mom all those years. I wish I could say that I felt drawn back in. I wish I could say that seeing these people, who were rather instrumental in my growth and development, has me desiring the chance to go back whenever I can. I can't overlook the vast differences between what I know to be true and what the LCMS teaches to be true. I can't deny that the church family I have now is my family and that I've connected with them in a deep and loving way. I can't accept the things that are taught in my previous faith base- things that I now recognize with words I hate to use when I'm talking about people I hold in fond memories. My old religion taught me that I can love sinners and should love sinners- but not because I accept and love them as children of God as they are but because I can "love" them into the church where they will choose to change their sinful ways. I get to use the Bible and our religion's interpretation of the Bible to judge others- even outside of the 10 Commandments. So many fond memories and a definite structure and support that I needed in my life at that chaotic time. But not a place that teaches what I want my children to be taught. Not a place that I would currently be able to grow in my relationship with God, in my service to God. Not a place that my husband, in his own struggles with God and religion, could ever feel comfortable. I'm glad I went- so glad. I hope that my friend and I can stay in touch with each other and maybe even catch up sometime on all that has happened in our lives over the past 2 decades. I loved seeing the same faces and families, still together, still connected, still loving one another. But it didn't call me back "home." All I can figure is that the food wasn't quite right.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Morning Time Is The Best Time

While I don't love how my kids consistently get up early every morning (I really look forward to the day when I sleep, uninterrupted, until 8 a.m.; I'm very tired of seeing 5:30 every day)... There is something very special about that time of day. I don't know how it started, to be honest. My kids wake up and come into our bed. There is snuggling and hugging and giggles and talking and dozing off and on. Teagan has started to do things to show love- things that she likes, she now does. For example, the teachers at school rub backs to help the kids settle down for naptime. Teagan hasn't really been asking for back rubs at bedtime- but she does like to rub my back, stroke my hair, or pat my cheek when she comes to our bed in the early morning hours. Zach slides out of his bed with blanket in hand and scurries up into our bed- greeting us with a cheery "hello" and an "I love you." No better way to start the day than my boy saying "Hi Mommy! I love you!" in his little boy way. Snuggles, slipping in and out of those last few minutes of sleep, giggles, tickles, back rubs, talking about our day ahead... the entire family together in one place, with no distractions, getting ready to face the day. I think sleeping in until 8 can wait a while longer. I wouldn't trade this for anything.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Fragments- The Blech Edition

I really don't mean to have Fridays be a day filled with complaints. Our host is the lovely Mrs4444 at Half Past Kissin' Time. Swing by for her fragments and stay for the rest of her blog- it's one of my favorites!

I don't feel well and may go home from work soon. Trying to hang on...

I don't have a lot of fragments from this week. I've neglected the blog, I think, because I've been very focused on Teagan and this recent transition in our parenting choices. Plus, the local mom community that I "work" for is getting ready to host a big birthday bash for members and has been hosting a big contest this week for moms to win tickets. We (discussion leaders) had to start up topics that counted as contest posts and replies are entries into the contest. So there has been some "babysitting" I've had to do over there. And now today... I woke up feeling like crap and I still feel like crap. So when I feel crappy, I can sometimes find fun and light heartedness on the internet. So for my Fragments, I'm going to share some of my fave fun sites to visit...

Color Me Katie

Cake Wrecks

PostSecret

FAIL Blog

Awkward Family Photos

Here's a video of an ad in India that Braja posted this week on her blog and I just loved it:
 

Did you watch The Office wedding last night? I did and absolutely LOVED it. Best wedding EVER. I laughed, I cried, I teared up, I giggled...

I'm off to Ohio this weekend. I'm pretty excited. The whole family is going. The big event? I am heading back to the church that I spent some of my childhood and adolescence in- they are having a confirmand reunion. Several of the kids I grew up with still attend that church and are now in leadership roles there. I am so excited- especially to see my friend Anne. I don't know how we lost touch... but we did... and I have thought of her often over the years. She is now the church secretary and is organizing this event.

We tried to watch last weekend's SNL. It was horribly dull. We've tried to hang on- last season had gotten better. Even in other seasons that most found not funny, we at least managed to find SOMETHING we liked- even if it was just Weekend Update. Well... second show of the season and it was so boring, we didn't even finish watching it. *yawn*

I'm pretty drained from the parenting roller coaster this weekend. Facing the unknown, finding a solution, and now working through this transition. It isn't a crisis or anything- but parenting takes purposeful, cognitive work and I think a lot of people choose not to go there. They want it all to be by instinct. I just can't do that. It's too big and important of a job to just do by the seat of my pants.

I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open right now. I might throw in the towel sooner rather than later. I hope that I just need some rest and will feel better after a long nap. Getting sick anytime in the next 4 weeks is not going to work. This weekend is the trip to Ohio and the reunion. Weds is Teagan's first school field trip to a pumpkin patch. Next weekend is our wedding anniversary (6 years). And the weekend after that is Zach's 2nd birthday. And the weekend after that is Halloween!! Ack! I hope everyone else is having a better Friday than me!! Go visit all the other Fraggers!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The New Routine

I've been actively working on making some changes to how I am parenting my daughter. She needs to feel praised, responsible, in charge. So I've been trying to find ways to incorporate that into our routines. We've always had that down pretty well in the morning- she generally picks out her own clothes (she completely picked out her own outfit this morning) and breakfast with minimal prompting from us.
Red Elmo shirt, green and pink plaid skirt, grey and pink striped tights, sneakers.
Picked out and put on all by herself!!

Tuesday night, I kept her VERY included in dinner preparations. I've managed to cook dinner at home every night this week (yay me!) and Tuesday night, I asked Teagan to be my assistant and help me decide on our menu and help with cooking. She picked out BBQ sauce for the chicken, rice vs pasta, and the type of rice. She poured water into the pan, added the rice. She felt like she had an important role in the family's meal preparation. Last night, I changed up the bedtime routine, adding responsibility and reward. Generally speaking, we follow a routine and not the clock each evening. Get home, dinner, a little TV and playtime, bath, PJ's, books, bed. The kids generally get to bed around 7:15. Last night, I explained to Teagan that we were going to try something new. If she made good choices all evening, she would get to stay up later than Zach- because she is older and she is the big sister. Her bedtime will be 7:30- and it is her job to help us watch the clock. After Zach goes to bed, she gets to choose how to spend whatever time is leftover. The more she is helpful with the bath and bedtime routine with her brother, the more time she will have after he's in bed. Last night, she ate double helpings of everything at dinner (pork chops, peas, dirty rice). Definitely earned a dessert treat (pumpkin muffins) and she was excited for Zach to go to bed so she could have it. After she ate her muffin, Zach was still up and having books read to him and she asked to join in- totally fine, of course. So we sat and read 2 books together. I read one and she "read" one to Zach, also. Then she headed out to the living room for her time. After getting Zach down, it was 7:20. I let her know she had 10 minutes of her own time. A few minutes before 7:30, I pointed out that the clock said 7-2-8. I let her know that if there was anything she needed before bedtime, now was the time to do it. Get a drink, go potty, pick out a stuffed animal, have a book read, etc. She could choose to just keep coloring or she could take care of those other kinds of things (she opted to get a drink). And when the clock said 7-3-0... she went to bed. Daddy tucked her in and that was it. She went to bed and stayed in bed and never made another peep. So while I am still fighting myself and having to keep reminding myself and being very aware of ways that I can include her in the family caring, she is taking to these little changes so well!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Teagan the bubble head!

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Zach enjoying the bubbles!

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Need Your Input!

I'm thinking of ditching the current look of the blog. Summer is gone, fall is here, winter is coming soon (at least in my neck of the woods)... so I feel like I need to get a new look... maybe... Do you find the links at the top of the page to be helpful? (Home, Awards, I Support) Is it time for Eternal Lizdom to have a more permanent and individualized look? Can you recommend someone who does that sort of design work? Is there anything missing from the blog that you think there should be more of? Anything you think there should be less of?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Reflections of Ourselves

Sometimes... your child's personality can really knock you off your feet. Especially when you realize that the frustrating personality trait is one similar to your own! Teagan is having an issue getting along with a specific other girl at school. From what the school's director, Lori, has shared, it seems to be more of an issue of both girls being "leaders" and, therefore, butting heads. In addition, Lori observed (because she's a little bit brilliant when it comes to understanding these kids) that Teagan's issues with this girl really came up during the time that the little boy that Teagan usually plays with was on vacation. This boy is younger and needs a bit more direction so Teagan's need to lead meshes well with his positive response to being led. We've seen Teagan's leadership desires before. It started with dance class. We started to notice that she wanted to be first. All. the. time. She wanted to answer questions first and loudest. She wanted to lead whatever exercise... be called on first. We would watch from outside the studio windows as the girls would line up for the Goodbye Dance and Teagan would slickly wiggle her way down the line so she would be next. Jeff and I were baffled. While we certainly can be competitive and while we have the natural desire to receive positive attention and feel special and in the spotlight (we were both community theatre junkies, afterall)... we didn't see in ourselves this drive that Teagan had to be best, first, front of the line. My memory of school certainly isn't clear. But I don't recall being the kind of student who was vying to be the favorite pupil or the line leader or get the best grades or whatever. Jeff had a mom who pushed him really hard to be that kid so he was really aware of not being best enough, first enough. So where on earth could this have come from? Obviously, every child comes with their own personalities. Our challenge isn't understanding where this comes from but figuring out how to parent this child with these tendencies that feel so different from our own. But the more I got to thinking about it, the more the lights started turning on. This totally came from me. And may well have come from Jeff, too. But it is developing as it should in a 4 year old. Jeff wants to do his best but often limits himself to doing nothing because he is somehow limited from doing his best. For example, our backyard playset. Jeff wants to build it, can build it, and can improve it. He has the knowledge and skill. So why hasn't it been built? Because he is limited by his shoulder injury. Instead of finding a way to get the set built with the help of others- who very well may not build it as succinctly and solidly as he would if he did it on his own- he doesn't get it built at all. If it can't be done the right way, the best way, the way that most exactly suits the purpose, it's better to just not do it at all. Sounds pretty competitive to me. Then I look at myself. I am not a perfectionist. I do aim to do my best, though. So if I'm going to be a mom, I am going to work to be the best mom that I know to be. If I'm going to blog, I'm going to figure out how to be the best blogger I can be. Be a close and invested friend? Yup- I'm going to figure out how to best meet your needs and make sure you feel that I value you. I'm not trying to be a better mom than someone else. I'm not trying to blog better than anyone else. I'm not trying to be a better friend than your other friends. I'm working to be the best me that I can be. Sounds pretty competitive to me. In her 4 year old realm, it is hard to take this drive to be best, first, leader and apply mom or dad's life experiences to filter this down to self-competition. So the drive turns into outward competition- being the teacher's perceived favorite, being the one who gets the "best" chore or job, being the line leader or getting first choice. Being being ahead of someone else. So our goal as parents is not to get this competitive edge out of her. We don't want to discourage her from being best or first. The challenge is to figure out how to teach her the difference between doing your best because it is your best you and doing your best in order to beat someone else. It's figuring out how to grow a child who is eager to succeed and accomplish for her own goals vs a child who bullies or cheats in order to get ahead. I am not one to favor reward systems at home. I think they work really well in a group setting as a way to manage behaviors in a larger setting. I think they can fail miserably in both cases. But I haven't really been a huge fan of implementing sticker charts or reward systems at home. We have used them from time to time... and they work so well with Teagan. Which, given this new insight, makes total sense. Teagan is a child that needs a lot of positive reinforcement and a lot of validation. Finding ways to do that sincerely is key. So this is new territory for me. My firstborn is a leader and will push limits to continue to get ahead. She is eager to be first, to be best and will manipulate and finagle her way into feeling and appearing to be so. Challenges and rules and confrontations will only serve to make her feel like she has to continue pushing back so she can be in the lead. My desire for her is to take this drive and hone it into something beautiful and positive for her. I feel like I am walking a tightrope over new and dangerous territory and I don't know where to turn. Her style is too similar to my own style for it to naturally work well together. Jeff and I are the response-able parents so we are the ones that need to figure out how to best parent this little reflection of ourselves.