Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Small Crises Are For Laughter

There are days, and then there are hard days, and then there are hard weeks.

I thought last week was never going to end. I thought there was no way I was going to make it through. I thought that there was nothing left to do but roll over and give up [exaggerating is my artistic license]. I went through the motions and took care of what needed to be taken care of, but if I'd had my druthers, I would've curled up in a fetal position, eaten an entire tub of cookie dough ice cream on my own, and let the kids watch TV for an entire day straight. I didn't do any of those things. Well, I did eat half of the tub of ice cream, but who's judging?

Anyway, I realized that sometimes, on the hard days, there is nothing more for me to do but get through it and hope I find my sense of humor again on the other side.

Littles really does think that Bruiser belongs to him.
And him alone.
There is no sharing.

But I tried--really hard--to find my sense of humor in the moment.  Especially over the weekend when I realized that things were going downhill fast.

First, the boys and I moved their giant stuffed penguin around the house for a few days. He spent several hours playing the piano (he "doesn't play accurately--anyone can play accurately--but [he] plays with wonderful expression"). He tried out the twins' carseats (but decided safety was not his thing). He relaxed in the antique needle point rocking chair (though he preferred the recliner). And last night, as he was lounging luxuriously on the couch in the dark, he scared the ever living daylights out of me when I came in the living room to lock up for the night.

Saturday Sunrise Surprise
You can't tell, but Bruiser and Bee were
yowling their heads off here.

Then, trying to exceed expectations as a mom, I packed up a surprise breakfast picnic Saturday morning, and we went out to see the sunrise and eat banana bread by the "creek." But I forgot Bruiser's paci, and he was not okay with that, and I didn't think it was fair to deprive the neighbors of their Saturday morning sleep in, so it was a very speedy picnic, to say the least. The boys were more interested in tracking down the turtle who had finally put in his post-hiberation reappearance than eating the breakfast I'd packed, so not only did we track a bunch of wet grass into the house when we got home a scant half hour later, but they unceremoniously finished their breakfast when we got home, which solidified the slow Death by Crumbs of my kitchen floor.

Ready to go disrupt the church service.

Finally, I diligently dragged all of us to chapel, though by Sunday I felt that doing one more thing might just push me over the edge to Living Death. Of course, Bee was wanting to be held, which was all well and good until Tiny decided that he too must share in the joys of lap-time. And guys, my lap is just not that big. Tiny, of course, communicated his severe displeasure to me (and the last three rows of pews) in spite of my diligent shushing. I finally got Bee to sleep and did my best to sneakily put her down so that I could deal with Tiny more effectively, but she was having none of it and woke up with emphatic shrieking which prompted me to walk into the cry room until she calmed down. No biggie. Littles was in Children's Church, and I could clearly see Bruiser (sleeping angelically in his carseat) and Tiny in the back pew that was directly in front of the cry room window. What I didn't count on? The fact that I hadn't told Tiny where I was going. So, he screamed loudly for Mama and ran out of the sanctuary wailing hysterically at the top of his lungs until I managed to calm him down. It then took me another three trips in and out of the last pew to get all the carseats, babies, and diapering paraphernalia into the cry room with me. I then got to hear the last five minutes of the sermon.

It's funny now. It wasn't funny then.

I didn't realize that Bee was
attempting to photobomb.
PS Bruiser thought it was funny then.

But you know what? All bad weeks eventually come to an end. And the truth is that it wasn't a bad week in a big way. Nothing terrible happened. I was just not dealing with things emotionally the way I wanted to. And then today, I read this lovely post by Emily Freeman about finding hope when the fog rolls in--and I felt like I was reading about myself--and that was good too.

Be still, my beating heart.
Now he can write "Mom" and his name:
college scholarships are right around the corner!

In her post, Emily Freeman quotes Winston Churchill as saying "Never let a good crisis go to waste." I agree with Sir Winston wholeheartedly (see me blogging about last week so that it is thoroughly un-wasted), but I'll add on: Never miss a chance to laugh at yourself. I plan to succeed in both arenas. With pictures included. It may have taken me a few days to laugh about it--there was no laughter allowed for a few days there--but I turned the corner eventually. And here we are now.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Shenanigans Abound

It might just be time for another picture post. At the very least, I can finish out my Wednesday night by sitting in the recliner in the dark (too lazy to get up to turn the light on) and providing you with cute pictures of my kids. Hopefully the sugar from the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I just ate will kick in soon and jumpstart my brain so that I can add in some explanatory captions.

The boys were "camping" in the back yard. I'm not sure what exactly the chairs are for, but the umbrella is self-explanatory. I think… No one who's any one goes camping without a Thomas umbrella!

Well, there's no doubt that they enjoy each other.

This picture pretty much sums up my life. And yes, I was holding Bee while I took this, though I briefly considered laying her across Tiny and Littles' stomachs.

Littles said to me the other day, "Mom, I sure do love the twins." And in all honesty, it's hard not too. Even when they laugh so hard that they give you the crazy eyes.

Tiny insisted on opening every Easter egg before he would put them in his basket. I guess making sure that the loot was worth the effort he was putting forth.

Tiny refers to himself in this picture as Hummus Boy. He then asks me when he can be Hummus Boy again. Considering that, hygienically, it's not a great thing for him to shove his face directly in the hummus container (which is what happened here), I really hope Hummus Boy doesn't put in another appearance any time soon.

I wasn't huge on dolls growing up. Books were more my thing. But I have to say, I am having more fun playing dress up with Bee than I care to admit.

These boys like to play dress up too. With their little sister's hair bands. They thought they were hilarious. And all I can think is that Littles looks like a flapper.

Bruiser and Bee like to hold hands during diaper changes. It slays me.

Live from Ink Blots: it's Wednesday Night!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Just Books. Lots of Them.

I buzzed Tiny's hair this week, and as the light brown fuzz tumbled off on the Oklahoma wind, I couldn't help but think of Sarah, Plain and Tall, the scene where Sarah cuts Caleb's hair and tells him that the birds will use it to line their nests. You see, that's what the best books do. They take something ordinary (in this case, my valiant fight against Tiny's cradle crap) and interject beauty into it.

I admit that I don't always read the best books. Sometimes I read really dumb ones like the fantasy novel I read this week which contained this poorly thought out line: "he tasted of richness and warmth." Really? Explain that one to me…. But that's the risk you run when you read free Kindle books. And lately, I've been reading a lot of free Kindle books. Some days this goes better than others.

For instance, I was on a Jean Webster kick last week and read Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy, both of which I fantastically enjoyed, but because I was cheap and lazy (and was reading free Kindle books--this is getting repetitive),  the hilariously awesome original illustrations that are actually necessary to complement the writing were.not.included. I saw red. Philistines! How could they have destroyed Judy Abbott's utterly expressive works of art! (I was rereading Daddy-Long-Legs so I knew what I was missing, most notably, the drawing of Judy looking like a rabbit with the mumps after getting her tonsils removed--another mental image I will never be able to do without).

I also hurt my brain (reading free Kindle books--can we abbreviate this to RFKB?) by sampling some sci-fi literature that insisted on making up a completely new vocabulary for half of the proper nouns and a good deal of the verbs and not explaining what any of the new words meant until at least half way through the novel. It was like reading in another language. Context keys were king.

But, in the long run, RFKB is probably a better use of my nursing time than rotting my brains out watching TV or risking dropping my computer on the twins by surfing the Internet. So, RFKB it is. Today, I reacquainted myself with George MacDonald's The Light Princess, so it's not all bad.

Here's the question now: if everyone you knew was RFKBing, would you RFKB too?

And, to get back to the original topic of this post, what are those books that have transformed the way you see yourself by imprinting certain scenes on your mind until real life seems only an echo of something you have read before?

One last thing, if this face asked you to stop RFKBing and eat cake with it, would you? Because I totally would.

Picture courtesy of my awesome friend Angela.
Taken prior to the buzzing.
Which according to Tiny turned him into a bumblebee.
Buzz. Get it.
He's punning at two.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Acceptable Times

At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. 
Psalm 69:13b

I've been putting off this post. Mostly because although I finished reading Rebekah Lyons' Freefall to Fly two weeks ago, I'm still thinking through a lot of what she said and trying to decide what to do with it.

It's hard to read a book about finding the life you were designed for when you don't have much of a say in what you do with your current time. I can think and pray all I want about what my gifts and passions are, but the truth is that the minutes and hours of my life are taken up with four fuzzy heads and the bodies attached to them. Then there's trying to keep the house from turning into a crumb/fur/dirt pit, putting food on our yogurt-finger-printed table, making sure that my best friendship with the Man stays strong, and, if I'm lucky, doing something for myself, like running or--hey!--writing.

So the idea of sitting down and thinking through whether or not I'm "living the life I was designed for" or even exploring the idea that there might be a different purpose for me down the road? Yeah: terrifyingly overwhelming.

And that's okay. There are seasons. And I really am enjoying this one, even if I'm using some of my gifts while putting the rest on a back burner. I know that, in an acceptable time, I will be in a different season which I will enjoy in different ways at which point I might reread Lyons' book.

Lyons also spends a significant portion of the book talking about her own struggle with depression and anxiety. One of the questions she raises is "Why is there rescue and there is not?" I get this. How many times did I hear of others who found healing from their depression and question why it wasn't me? I wondered what was wrong with me. Did I just not have enough faith? Did I not want it enough? So when Lyons' asks, "Why is there rescue and there is not?" I asked with her. Yes, even now when, as far as I can tell, I have been rescued. Why is there not rescue for a dear friend of mine who still daily walks through the shadow? Why is there not rescue for the millions of people whose anguish cries for an end?

At the same time that I was reading Freefall to Fly, our chaplain spoke on Psalm 28. The psalmist spends the first 5 verses calling out to God in despair and then the last four verses praising God for his salvation. There is no obvious transition between. Our chaplain asked, "How do we get from verses 1-5 to verses 6-9? How do we help others get there?"

Because, sometimes there is rescue and there is not. It is so easy for those of us who are in the rescue portion of our lives to want to drag those stuck in verses 1-5 with us into verses 6-9. But we can't. We can't fix them. We can't rush them. We ourselves cannot rescue them. Christ is the only one who can, and here is the truth, sometimes, just like with finding our purpose, there are seasons. And, in an acceptable time, there is rescue. Even if sometimes God's acceptable time takes a lot longer to get here than we sometimes wish. In the meantime, we pray, and we encourage, and we hope, and we share our stories, and we wait.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mostly Food (Seriously)

I've kind of bombed on the cooking front this week.

First, I burned a waffle. That's a travesty in our household when our waffle recipe only makes three (monstrously huge) ones and we all like them somewhat squashy. So I took it out in the front yard and ripped it up for the birds. There's only been one portly robin pecking around at them the last few days. Evidently our avian population has gourmet tastes. I didn't rise to the occasion.

The two who didn't have to survive my cooking.
Understandably cheery.

Then, I forgot I'd signed up to take a snack for Little's class, so Monday morning I got up obscenely early and threw together a quick loaf of banana bread. Incidentally, this was the same recipe I've been using for the last six years. And banana bread: it's not that hard, folks. I pulled a beautiful loaf out of the oven an hour later and left it to cool but when I went to slice and bag it, it had fallen! How is that even possible? There was a massive valley right through the middle. And I had nothing else to send with Littles, so…slice and bag I did. When I picked up Littles from school, I asked him if the banana bread was really awful, to which he replied decidedly, "YES." At least he's honest. I have withdrawn my bid for Mom of the Year.

This weekend, while I languished in snot, my children survived on frozen pizza and quesadillas…and Whataburger. I'm just being honest. It must've been pretty awful for them because right now they're busy "packing" their "car" to move to "Alabama." Although the draw may just be the Man and his superior parenting skills (sick me is not nice to be around).

They're leaving on a love seat.
Don't know when they'll be back again.

Last  night I thought it would be ironic if I ruined supper since I was in the middle of writing this blog about my AWOL cooking skills, but I eat too much these days--and don't have the indulgence of sneaking out for a grocery trip whenever I want--to make that funny any more. So I paid close attention and only had the naan stick to the pan in a couple places. It could've been worse.

Regardless, I redeemed the entire last week by making cinnamon raisin french toast for breakfast this morning. When your food critics are 2 and 4 year old boys, add a side of strawberries and whipped cream and you win Chef of the Century.

Relaxing after a good breakfast. Finally.
Bee is in my lap in an effort to keep her from getting squashed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I'm Not Crying: It's Only A Cold

I've had a cold this week. Stuffy head, runny nose, sore throat…you know the drill. In an effort to pretend I wasn't sick and that the Man wasn't heading out the door again for another eight weeks, I've been hiding with some well read book-friends any time I wasn't actively engaging my family. Text messages have been unanswered. Emails have gone unread. Cleaning has taken a backseat. And I have been back in the world of New Moon and the Aunt Hill. Now that L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott have shamed me into getting off my rear and back to work (and the Man has packed up the jeep and hugged us all good bye), I'm going to blow my nose loudly and buckle down. Again.

And no: I'm not crying. It's only a cold. See above title.

But a few thoughts first:

  • Uncle Alec in Eight Cousins did unschooling before there was unschooling. However, Uncle Alec's version of unschooling is a legitimate educational option unlike most of the stories I hear coming out of the unschooling phenomenon.
  • Brown rice takes a ridiculously long time to cook. Just wanted to share that. Yes, I realize this has nothing to do with the rest of the post.
  • I saw the first budding tree of spring yesterday. I was more than a little excited, probably because I was in the middle of the L.M. Montgomery phase and she loves to wax poetic about all things green and growing.
  • The Man bought me an old childhood favourite before he left, The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye. It came complete with the wonderfully rendered original illustrations but some idiot had the cover redone about ten years back for no apparent reason. It's a travesty. Still, I loved my reread.

    In closing, these next eight weeks had better go by quickly:

    Thursday, March 13, 2014

    My Coffee Loves To Laugh With Me

    This week I put chocolate milk in my coffee. I'm such a rebel.

    But the truth is: when you're getting up on your feet again after months of bed rest and twin birth recovery, it takes a little extra energy to get your days rolling the way they used to.

    And yes, sometimes I fall asleep on the couch seconds after the kids are in bed when I'm still in the middle of a  conversation with my husband, and yes, sometimes I feel like a big ol' bucket of crazy (hormones are fun!), and yes, sometimes I read food blogs in the middle of the night when I'm nursing and that makes me incredibly hungry, but really…

    Living room picnic with raisins for dessert.
    I have no explanation for the faces on my children.
    And it's really hard to get all four kids in one shot.

    Sometimes it's just worth taking the time to laugh in between the bleach-scented mopping and the volcanic diapers and the perfect head-lock form my eldest son is now able to practice on innocent children at the playground.

    Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. And I'm planning to use it as a weight loss pill to get back into my pre-pregnancy jeans. But laughter always comes with a side of chocolate milked coffee. Always.

    Bruiser was admiring himself in the mirror
    (he approved of what he saw)
    while Bee experimented with crossing her eyes.

    I'm working on another post with a little more meat to it, but it's taking time to work past the layers of dead brain cells currently taking up space in my head. But hang in there with me. I'm on my way back.