Friday, January 30, 2009

Wish List

I made yet another bedtime list last night. (You know me and my lists.) Today is my birthday, and before I fell asleep I was thinking of what would make today perfect. Here's what I came up with:
1. Unlimited time to read books to Katie.
2. A repeat of last night's recliner cuddling with Jackson while we watched Word Girl. (He says, "Wuh Gul Mommy!")
3. Escape and go see a movie.
4. Someone to rub my back or my feet or my head.
5. Silence.
6. A nap.
7. Dan's arms around me.
8. Time to write.
9. A long bath, where I could go underwater and hear nothing but my breath.
10. Listening to good praise music on my iPod. Maybe even dancing to it too?!

And guess what? I've already done two things on my list: #1 and #8. Although #1 wasn't unlimited, I went to Katie's room a bit early to wake her and decided to start the day by reading three new library books to her. I really liked that. And I am getting to do #8 right now, as I post on my blog. Yay!

I've already gotten a few other things that weren't on my list but have helped make my day perfect so far. The first was this:

Dan and Katie made me a cake. And, yes, I was a bad girl and broke every Mommy Nutritional Rule by sharing the cake with Katie for breakfast. Yippee! The best part of the cake was the card that Dan gave me with it. I think it's one of the best cards I've ever received. After cake, I also had the simple pleasure of walking Katie to the bus stop. I don't get to do that every day because Jackson doesn't do well in the cold, but he was still asleep today.
The other thing that made my morning? My friend Beth called her personal Meals on Wheels (aka her husband Sean) and on the way home from his overnight job, she had him pick up my favorite breakfast and deliver it to me. I was treated to a Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit, and I am now a happy, happy girl.

We'll see what the rest of the day holds for me. I am looking forward to it, and can't wait to see what this year brings me. Now I'm off to get Jackson up and do my morning workout. HBTM!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not So Crafty

I am posting this today for one reason only: I got some cute photos of Jackson that I want to share! We went to the local community arts center with my mom's group, and had a little art "tour" after the kids worked on a craft. I kept Jackson in the stroller the entire time, because the little devil would have Torn. The. Place. Apart. No kidding. He's not behaving well in public these days! During the craft time, I kept feeding Jackson Cheerios in hopes of distracting him until we were ready to move on to the next thing (tour, lunch, etc.). He had a craft in front of him and was allowed two crayons. Of course, he scribbled on the paper for about 20 seconds and was done with that. Then he moved on to scribbling on his stroller tray, then his shirt, and then putting red streaks in his hair. After giving himself highlights, he went back to the paper but this time decided to eat it instead of coloring it.

I got a pipe cleaner and gave it to Jackson thinking it would hold his interest. No, he decided to eat that too.

And then, I had the brilliant idea to show him how to thread Cheerios onto the pipe cleaner, which finally kept him entertained for about four minutes until he figured out how to eat the Cheerios off the pipe cleaner. That bought me another four minutes, and I hushed the voice in my head that was telling me it's probably not safe for kids to put pipe cleaners in their mouths.

Finally, Jackson found a piece of plastic (like the kind you'd use on an overhead projector) that was supposed to represent a flower vase in our craft. I cracked up watching him smash it onto his face.

Jackson turned 22 months old yesterday. I am thinking craft time isn't a good thing for us right now, and maybe not ever? We're slowly running out of activities we can do with my mom's group. After a harrowing library story time about two weeks ago, and now a not-so-crafty time today, I think we should stick to the bounce houses and play areas in town for a while. I already can't wait for spring, when the parks will provide a new place for Jackson to explore!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Second Snow Day

School was cancelled today. This makes day two of being house bound. So, I had to get creative again. No, we didn't make any more Seymours. But we did get the parachute out! It didn't keep the kids' attention for as long as I had hoped, but it broke the monotony a bit. (And, yes, Jackson is holding an empty soap box in the photo. He plays with random things.)
I also got a wild hair and decided to organize the storage area in the basement. (And I'm only showing you a photo so my kids will have some proof one day that the basement used to be organized.) I think mostly I was procrastinating and avoiding my daily elliptical workout, but I ended up getting a workout nonetheless. You should have seen me grunting and pushing as I tried to move a wardrobe, until I realized it was BOLTED to the wall. My true goal was to move three of the five beds that we have stored in the basement behind a shelf. (Yes, much to Dan's chagrin, I have FIVE beds in my basement. Long story. They're heirlooms. Which Dan doesn't care about. Anyway...) I got the beds hidden away, then I stacked two dining room tables on top of each other which was quite a feat, if I say so myself. (And, yes, I also have THREE random "heirloom" dining tables in my house. Another long story.) I also cleaned out a pile of old shipping boxes. I was so proud of myself for being such a good cleaner! But I didn't stop there. Oh no sirree! Before the day was over, I also cleaned out piles of old magazines and cleared off my dining room table (which my friend Michelle told me she calls the "Staging Area" in her house, and I think that's fitting). In between all of this, I also found time to play games with Katie, make phone calls to get some medical records ordered, run to Aldi for the basics, and go to Bunco. So for being stuck inside all day, I think the day was well-spent.

Katie also got special treatment from Daddy today. He came home from work a little early to take her to sledding with her uncle, cousin and grandparents. (Jackson and I stayed home.) Dan met his brother at their aunt and uncle's house, where they always went sledding as a kid. They consider it their very own mountain, and we've taken Katie sledding there almost every year when it snows. After sledding, Daddy even took her out to McDonald's. It's like she died and went to heaven.

One more thing I did, which I wish I had a photo to show you: I got snow from our patio and put it on the kitchen table for Jackson to play with. He was kind of unsure about it, and decided to eat it instead of play with it. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow and take photos this time.

Wordless Wednesday - Girl Scout Cookie Time!

A rite of passage: Katie got to sell cookies for the first time, and Jackson helped too!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snow Day Seymour

This is the view outside my window today. Snow. Cold. Ice. It's still snowing as I write, and should be continuing for a bit. This, of course, means school was cancelled today. I'm still holding out hope that school will be in session tomorrow, because that means Jackson's Parents Day Out program will be open and I can be child-free for a day. Besides, today was supposed to be Katie's big 100 Day celebration at school. You know, the one I sewed one hundred tiny buttons onto a shirt for? Yeah, THAT 100 Day! I know the celebration will just happen whenever she goes back to school, but I want it to be tomorrow. I'm excited for her! We've already counted out 100 oyster crackers for her to take to school, and her shirt is ready to wear!

We've had a pretty good snow day so far. Cabin fever hasn't set in (yet), and both kids even slept in a bit today. Our neighbor (three streets down) and her two daughters came over to play. Katie is in the same class as one the daughters, so they had a grand time playing under the dining room table and in the basement fort and with toy cars. After they left and Jackson went down for his nap, Katie and I snuggled in to the LoveSac to read a new book we bought yesterday, called Can You See What I See? Seymour Makes New Friends. We recently got hooked on these books through the library, and I took the kids to Borders yesterday and bought Katie her very own edition (along with a great kids' Bible). The books are kind of like Where's Waldo, but with photos of real items. There's usually this little beaded dude hidden in the photos, but this book is specifically about Seymour (the little beaded dude). He starts the book reading his own book about bunnies on a seesaw and decides to make his own bunny and seesaw. Each page thereafter has a photo with some sort of supply that Seymour uses to make the bunnies. The goal is to search the photos for a list of objects that is printed on the side. After we read for about 20 minutes, Katie and I had the brilliant idea to make some Seymours of our own!

I trekked down to the basement to find pipecleaners, beads and some old pompoms I bought years ago. We set everything up on the kitchen table and got to work threading pipecleaners through the beads. It was so easy, and we were both squealing with our final results.

After our first two, we made two more for Dan and Jackson. Did I mention we named them Penny, Seymour, Bob and Charlie? Yep, we did. We even wrote their names across their bellies.

I had been talking to Katie about making Valentines for her classmates, and this led to our next brilliant idea: let's make Seymours for all 18 kids in her class! Turns out it wasn't that hard. We used the pompoms that were already "pre-drilled" with plastic tubes inserted through them, and opted not to use any beads. They turned out pretty cute too.

Now, I'm catching up on the blog and other computer work, and Katie is at the kitchen table making personalized Valentine hearts to go along with her pompom Seymours. The house is quiet, the snow is still falling, and we are happy.

Friday, January 23, 2009

An Apology

Dear Dan,

You know I love you, right? I'm sure you do, even though I don't show it as well as I'd like to these days.

Take last night, for instance. You came home from work, carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. I asked about your day, and you told me. You. Told. Me. Something I remember begging you to do years and years ago: "Why don't you ever talk to me?" And so, you did. And yet, what was my reaction? Some heavy sighs. Some nods of my head as if to say, "Come on, hurry it up." Because, as usual, I was wearing the Mommy Hat since it was dinner time and the aliens needed to be fed.

They consume me, honestly they do. And sometimes, like last night, I worry that they won't leave enough leftovers for you or for me. I didn't have the time to devote to listening to you like I should have. I let your words just roll through my ears and snagged only enough to get me the gist of the conversation. Yes, I heard you, but I didn't listen and converse with you the way I wish I could. The way we used to. The way we still do when I'm wearing the Wife Hat, and baths are done and lights are off and we use whatever's left over to nourish our starving souls.

I hate this. I hate that we are put on the backburner in order to survive the early childhood years. I miss consuming each other, and the fulfillment that gave us. Instead, now we have the wild banshees clamoring for crumbs of whatever we can dish out to keep them satisfied. Don't get me wrong: I don't hate them, and I don't hate our life. I just miss you. I miss us. But the consolation in all of this is that I know neither of us is going anywhere, that we are there to catch each other when we trip or fall down from exhaustion. Sometimes, I glance at you and know you are trying to tell me, "Don't worry. I'll be here still when the craziness has died down." For that, I am eternally grateful to you. Thank you for not giving up on me, on us.

Last night, I fell in love with you again because I saw with perfect clarity what a strong, amazing man you have become. (I say that only because I can still remember our early days when we were both learning to stand on our own feet as we navigated college, first jobs and first moves.) Last night, you spoke words of encouragement and experience to a friend who is where we were five years ago. Overhearing your conversation (yes, I eavesdropped for about four minutes), reminded me of the number one reason I love you. It's your tenderness. Every single one of your good qualities flows from your unending tenderness.

I love your heart. I love that The Color Purple always gets to you. You are oh, so strong! But that tenderness is never buried very deeply. You are an old, experienced soul, created by God to bring constancy to our world. And I'm not trying to be sappy, romantic or melodramatic, but you have rescued me. You, my dear, are the epitome of God's love for me. You have turned the intangible into tangible. Your love is transcendent, inspiring, and uplifting. You make me want to be a better person, just so I can live up to the view you have of me. As long as I live, there will never be enough ways or words for me to properly thank you. I've turned to God instead, trying to thank Him for you, because I know you are His gift to me. You are the person He knew I'd need to weather the storms I've face in my life: divorce, cancers, deaths, anxiety attacks, moves, postpartum depression, and lupus.

I have three major fears in my life: ending up like my mom, dying alone, and surviving you. I know I could survive without you, but it is unimaginable to me. Whenever I discuss that fear with you, you always reassure me that it will never happen. And for some reason, I have the wildest belief that you are right. Maybe you are psychic (as you've tried to convince me), or maybe God just knows my breaking point.

So, now, I have an apology to make. I am sorry for all the times I've put you last on the list. For all the times I was glued to the computer or TV when I could have unplugged and interacted with you. For all the moments I let slip by when I should have thanked you for busting your butt for us. I am sorry for taking you for granted. And I'm doubly sorry because I'm pretty sure I'm going to take you for granted again. Thank you for being resilient and loyal to me, and for always sticking around when I do that.

I love you, more deeply and purely than I've ever loved anything or anyone before. Thank you for the love you give me in return, every single day.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I never mentioned what a warm Christmas I had, did I? I am lucky enough to have friends and family who noticed my issues with the cold weather. Namely, my Raynaud's Syndrome keeps cutting off the circulation to my fingers. I am amazed at how thoughtful everyone has been about that. Jen gave me a paraffin wax machine. My mother-in-law has made at least 13 different hand warmers for me to microwave. (She went and bought different types of filler and sewed me a bunch with cute fabric she picked out - even Mizzou fabric!) Michelle gave me mittens and hand warmers, the kind you use for hunting, along with the sweetest note about how I make the world a warmer place. My sister gave me an electric warming throw for Christmas, and I got a second one from my in-laws. Dan gave me adult-sized footie pajamas.

But I have to admit that my favorite "warming" gift was one I wasn't even sure I would wear. Beth and I had been shopping in the past and I said I'd like one of those puffy vests that are popular right now, but I was afraid that it would make me look even fatter than I already do and I might be mistaken for a marshmallow. I hemmed and hawed over it on a good two or three separate shopping trips with her. Well, she went ahead and bought one for me. And the coolest part is she had it monogrammed for me through our friend's embroidery business, Missy Doo's. The truth is I HAVEN'T STOPPED WEARING IT for about a month straight. Seriously, y'all. I have worn the vest almost every single day because it keeps my core body temp pretty toasty. I love it! And I feel so cute and "with-it" since it has my monogram on it. I haven't had a monogrammed item since the monogram fad in grade school. (Don't you love my pink sweater with the navy blue embroidery?! How about the hair? Ah, I was so young and innocent then.)

So if you see me wearing that same old vest over and over again these days, now you know why. (Seriously - go look through recent photos of me on my blog and you'll see the vest a few times.) My fingers are still losing circulation from the recent bitter cold weather, but at least I'm a little warmer these days.

Thank you to all of you who love me so much and are trying to keep my body warm, my spirits high, and my heart full. You are warming me, inside and out!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Dear Katie & Jackson,

One day, a long time from now, I will tell you about the way life used to be for me. I will tell you about growing up in the South, and how people hated others for their race and sometimes even their religion. I will tell you how I saw it happen, with my very own eyes. And once I even saw some people turn the hate right back on a person and shun them for their racism. It was pretty powerful. Maybe I'll tell you about my parents and how even they held beliefs that you might consider ignorant and archaic.

My hope is that when I tell you these things, you'll stare at me with wide-eyed wonder and surprise. Kind of like I used to stare at my parents when they told me about their lives without television. I'd scoff at them, hardly believing their descriptions of life before TV. Maybe you'll scoff at me when I tell you how someone was ostracized for being friends with a person of another race, or hated for daring to (gasp!) like someone of another race.

Today is a day you won't remember. Katie, you may have a flash of memory about today, but Jackson won't remember it at all. God, I hope and pray that you won't remember today, that it won't be much more than a blip on your radar screen in years to come. And here's why: I hope that the celebration of today, the inauguration of our first black president, becomes commonplace for our country. As shocking and appalling as that thought might seem to some people who are so incredibly PUMPED that today has finally arrived, I am hoping that it will be nothing big or special when you grow older. Because I'm hoping that a day like today will help racism become a thing of the past, and will help our country move deeper. My dream for you and your generation is that you'll be able to look beyond a person's outer shell and see what lies inside of them. I dream that not only for you, but for my grandkids too.

Katie, last week you told me about Martin Luther King, Jr. and said to me, "Mommy, did you know that some people used to not like brown people?" It was a confusing concept to you. For that, I am grateful. I pray that it continues to confuse you, and that you'll never fall into that trap of hate. Look deeply, learn compassion, and practice generosity. Let January 20, 2009 be a day of new beginnings for us all.


A Celebrity Comment!

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! I am thrilled beyond thrilled. You won't believe this! I just checked my in box and I GOT A COMMENT on my last post by a real, honest-to-God published author, Kelly Corrigan. I am giddy! And what's even cooler is that I. Am. Reading. Her. Book. Right. Now. Can you stand it?! Yes, this is the book I stayed up way too late reading last night, and the book that is talking directly to me in almost every chapter. (I about fell out of bed when I read that her dad used to recite The Cremation of Sam McGee too!!! Did he also recite Casey at the Bat like mine too?) This is the same book I was buying at the mall today to send to my sister, but I forgot my coupon. (Don't worry, I'll go back!)

Now it will take some major willpower for me to do the tasks on my To Do List that I already had planned for naptime (clean the kitchen, refresh my memory on Lost before it starts tomorrow, watch the Inauguration on Tivo, log Girl Scout cookie orders, make phone calls, update my mom's club roster, check my sister's Facebook account like I promised), instead of going and sitting down and finishing her book, The Middle Place. I am just thrilled. (Did I already say that?!) How did she find me? Oh, wow. Please tell me I'm not a dork for being so excited about this. Y'all would be too, right? I swear, it's made my day now. Maybe she'll come back again? Maybe she'll start lurking at my blog? Woo hoo! Okay, it's official. I have crossed over into Dorkdom.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Georgia On My Mind

I'm back home from my trip back home! (How's that for confusing?!) I returned from Georgia at noon today, and Katie and Dan were there to greet me at the airport. Katie ran to my arms, and I hope she saw the joy and exaltation in my face. I missed my three loves! Absence does...
But I had a good trip to Georgia too. My high school friend/bridesmaid Sarah picked me up from the airport Friday night, and we grabbed dinner so we could catch up on our lives. I love that we fall so easily back into our friendship, after talking less than once a month and seeing each other about once every three years. I like talking to her because she knows my history and the person I used to be, but also encourages and likes the person I've become. That's a good type of friend to have.

After dinner, Sarah drove me to my sister's in-laws' house, where we were staying for the weekend. When Mom was sick in 2004, the sister's in-laws' house became a second home to me. They let me stay with them for a good two or three weeks, and were gracious in letting me come and go as needed, on trips to and from the hospital. I really enjoyed getting to know them that summer, and kind of think of them as my additional family. And this weekend was no exception. Celia (my sister's mother-in-law) said I could adopt them as my Georgia family now. Isn't that sweet? But now I have to figure out what to call them. My sister's in-laws really is too confusing.

So I arrived at my "Georgia family's house" and my sister and nieces were already there too. We hugged and then stayed up until about 1am late talking and catching up. I crashed in bed that night, happy to be back home and with my sister again.

Saturday, we slept in a bit and then had pancakes for breakfast... which I didn't have to cook. Ah, the luxury! After breakfast, we sat around the kitchen table trying to change ringtones on about four different phones (ABBA for Celia, Beatles for Dick... although we could never find the one song he wanted). Then showers and then Mary and I split offf from the group for two hours to go visit our high school.
Aack! Words cannot express how old that made me feel. We were lucky enough to get inside and see a basketball game in the "old" gym. (Honestly, that's what the label above the door said! Apparently, they have built a new gym now too.) The flashbacks were disconcerting, and then we headed down to the cafeteria. Aack again! Unfortunately, the rest of the school doors were locked so we couldn't get a full trip down memory lane. However, we pressed our faces up against lots of windows so we could peek inside. When did the hallways and lockers shrink? Because I remember the school being MUCH bigger back in the nineties!

As if the high school wasn't enough to stretch my brain, we headed to our old neighborhood next. Let me paint the picture: the last time I saw my house was in February 2005, five months after Mom died and five days before Dad died. This photo was taken that day. The house had been "flipped" - it was in bad shape when we sold it after Mom's death, and a realtor bought it and rehabbed it before selling it again and making a profit. We saw it before the realtor sold it to its current owners. So I had seen some of the (huge!) changes back in 2005. But this is the first time I'd actually seen anyone living in "my" house. We had already contacted the owners and asked if we could come over, so it's not like we did a sneak attack.

Here's the house in 1996, on the day of my brother's funeral (which is why the flag is at half staff):

Here's the house this weekend:

My tears started flowing when we pulled into the driveway, and I kept telling myself to get a grip. We knocked on the door, and Joe and Wendy invited us inside and introduced us to their 3- and 7-year-old sons. I apologized for crying, and then that was the end of the tears. Because, truthfully? Once I got inside, there were so many changes in the house that I could hardly recognize it for what it used to be. And I was truly happy to see it so beautiful again and to know that it was loved and new memories were being made inside those walls. We got the grand tour of the house (which was immaculately clean and made me feel guilty that Wendy went to so much trouble for us), and saw every nook and cranny. How cool is that? I mean, would you allow perfect strangers in your home and let them see even the innards of your closets? And yet, they did. More than I could have ever hoped for. We chatted with them for a while, and got to see how their lives (and especially their kids' lives) are mirroring our own: the same schools, same neighbors, same activities that we did as kids. For some reason, that brought lots of peace to my heart. Finally, we took some photos (of course I did) and said goodbye because we had to meet the in-laws.

Here's Mary and I on the steps:

Here's my old bedroom, from 2004:

Here's my bedroom now (adorable!):

We met up with them and headed up to Cartersville GA to check out the brand new Tellus Science Museum. It was pretty cool to see all the new exhibits like dinosaur replicas, old cars and planes, geodes, minerals, and we even got to dig for fossils. This is Mary's face distorted in one of those magnifying glass panels.

There was even a cool pendulum in the lobby, and I tried to get an artsy photo (a la Jodie). Not sure I succeeded at that.

After the museum, we went to Mary's brother-in-law's house for a great steak dinner and good conversation. (Funny side note: Mary's brother-in-law also married a Mary, so it gets a bit confusing around them, especially since the Marys now have the same last name.) The kids put on a show for us after dinner, and we got to hear Dick's gift-giving theory after watching the Beware of the Doghouse video on YouTube. (I should post the video I took of him explaining it on YouTube, but I'll spare him the embarrassment.) Afterwards, we drove home and headed off to bed.
Sunday, we went to Dick and Celia's church. It's also the home church of my high school friend Kelley, although she's off at school in California so I didn't get to see her. (Although I did surprise the heck out of her mom when I tapped her on the shoulder!) After church, we went back to the in-laws' house for lunch, followed by an excruciating FIVE HOURS of computer searches for their summer beach house rental. Seriously. They got out three laptops and searched all these websites for beach houses, yelling out to each other the features of each house. It was the epitome of family craziness, but made me smile nonetheless. (Although I left about three hours into it because I need a craziness break.) They ended their search in a family laptop huddle, and finally narrowed it down to two choices.

The girls headed out to Target afterwards, then a late dinner at Chili's before heading home to read in bed. Ah... so nice. I got to just sit and read for an hour and a half. Heaven. (Not to mention the three nights of uninterrupted sleep. Woo hoo!)

This morning, we were up early to get my favorite Chick-fil-A for breakfast on the way to the airport. Hugs all around, then I was kicked to the curb (just kidding, Mary) and my family visit was over. So sad. But I'm proud of myself too - I didn't even cry! (Which is different than previous goodbyes.) I made my way to the gate, then sat myself down and read a book until it was boarding time. I even finished the book and started a new one on the plane. (A new one called The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan that I can already tell is going to be an all-time favorite for me. Thanks for sending me this YouTube "Transcending" link, Marti!)
And then my flight landed, and I greeted two of my loves, and almost all was right with the world. It was all back in line when I picked Jackson up from Parents Day Out at 4pm. Everyone survived the weekend without me, even though Dan said he needed to plan more activities to keep the kids busy next time I go away. Dan is a champ. A great dad. He's still "on duty" even now, feeding the kids dinner while I blog.

The weekend was just what I needed to refill my tank. I got to see flashbacks of the life I used to lead, back when I was someone's child and before I had to take responsibility for my own. I have to admit that parts of the weekend did make me a little sad, and it made me wish for things that I can no longer have back (my parents, my hometown, my carefree years). Most of all, it made me long for the day when I can take my kids to visit. But I also know that in the same moment when I long for the things I can no longer have, I thank God for the things I do have: Dan, Katie and Jackson. I can't have my past and my present at the same time, can I? Time moves on, people and landscapes change, and I've learned to look forward. Doesn't mean I don't miss the past, but I don't live there anymore. Literally and figuratively, of course.

It was good trip. No, it was great. I'm at peace, content, and happy to be back home.

Friday, January 16, 2009


I'm trying to be very quiet right now. You know what it's like - Jackson is stirring in his crib, and I think he's close to screaming and therefore ending his nap. I am hoping that if it's quiet enough, he'll go back to sleep. That means nobody better call me so the phone won't tip him off that I'm out here!

I am so very very excited to get on an airplane in less than 3 hours and go visit my big sister and my hometown. Is it awful of me that I haven't even told any of my friends (except the one who's getting me from the airport) that I'm coming in town? My sister said I'm not allowed to, since I should be going to visit her only. Isn't that just so selfish? And I love it.

Of course, I am looking forward to seeing family and my "home" (even though I haven't technically lived in Marietta, GA since 1992). But, heck, I'm thrilled just to step out of the car and into the airport where I don't have to worry about anyone but ME. No runny noses to wipe. No one constantly wanting my attention. No meals to make. No laundry. No agonizing diaper changes (have I mentioned that Jackson STILL fights every single dirty diaper change?!). No late night wakings. Yippee! But on the other hand, I will miss Dan's arms around me at night. I'll miss pillow talk with Katie. And rocking Jackson at naptime. And cuddling in the LoveSac. And watching American Idol on DVR with Katie (which can just wait 'til next week). And church this weekend. And sleeping in. (Mary says I'm not allowed to sleep too late this weekend.)

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. And quiet makes Jackson sleep longer. Oh please, oh please, oh please just hold out a little longer, buddy!

I'll blog when I return about my trip. Let's hope there are no "Miracle on the Hudson" crash landings! Y'all have a great weekend. I know I will!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Our Weekend

After my crash and burn on Thursday, I got lots of love from my friends and family and I feel rejuvenated after a good weekend.

First, the weather was halfway decent on Friday so the kids played outside for about an hour. The sunshine (what little of it there was) helped us all feel better and breathe easier. Saturday morning, I weighed in and lost 3.8 pounds. Yeeow! I'm almost to my first goal and I've refocused my brain and will power. We went to a birthday party on Saturday, then Grandma met us and took the kids to her house for the night. Dan and I had all afternoon to ourselves, which was so nice.
Dan went to the Walgreen's clinic to get an Rx for his sinus infection, then we went to church together. You have to understand that is such an amazing thing to write. We had a "date night" and chose to go to church?! Years ago, that wouldn't have even crossed our minds. Church was awesome, then we went out to dinner at O'Charley's and saw the movie Gran Torino. It was pretty good, although I think he used every single racial slur in the book. I know that was part of Clint Eastwood's character, but it still made me squirm in my seat.

Today we slept in and then the grandparents brought the kids home to us. They stayed for lunch (we got takeout at one of our favorites, El Maguey), then my friend Jennifer picked me up so we could go workout at Gold's Gym. We met Joe there because it was part of our Team Turtleton training schedule. We walked on the treadmills for an hour (3.5 miles), and I even RAN for two of those 60 minutes. Me? Running? Hell has frozen over, y'all. It was a great workout with great conversation, which made me feel so good.

Tonight I made a treat for the kids for dinner (chocolate chip waffles), and Jackson was COVERED in chocolate by the end of the meal. We tried to get a photo of it, but he wouldn't cooperate so you'll just have to take my word for it. Another awesome thing this weekend? Jackson started counting. Yep! He says, "1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, NINE!" and then sometimes finishes with "Yay!" because he's so proud of himself. What a genius!

Now I'm blogging before I head upstairs for my weekly tub. Ah... bliss.

As for that list of needs that I wrote about last Sunday? I have spent the past week focusing on it, and trying to make sure I take care of myself as well as I take care of others. (Uh-oh... maybe we're all going down the crapper then!) Of course, I had a meltdown on Thursday, but just trying to keep the focus on my needs this week DID help. I made a chart in my journal and at the end of each day, checked off the needs that I fulfilled. I realized it's not so difficult to make myself happy. That's a good feeling.

And thanks to my sister, I have one need that is getting fulfilled this coming weekend... but it's a need I didn't list and didn't realize I had until we talked on Thursday after my meltdown. She is going home to Georgia this weekend to see her in-laws and invited me to meet her there. So... I decided I would really really like to do that, and I'm going home! As soon as I talked to Dan and we made the decision, my heart started fluttering because I am so excited. I can't wait to see my sister, who is a Home to me all on her own. And I can't wait to visit my hometown. I haven't been back since Mom died in 2004. Yes, I know that means I'll probably have quite an emotional response to being back. But, oh! I am so looking forward to going! Thanks for pushing me, Mary.

I'm off to go soak now, and start what I know is going to be a better week. It has to be, right?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Imaginary Conversations

"Hey, Mom. It's Poozie." *sniff*
"Hi, honey. What's wrong?"
"Oh, Mom. I can't do it anymore."
"Can't do what?"
"I can't do this job. I suck at it. I don't have the stamina to survive them, the kids. And I don't know how to do it. I don't know what I'm doing."
"Oh, honey. You don't suck at it. You're doing a great job."
"Then why does he fuss and cry all the time? He's unhappy because of me. And I'm unhappy because of him."
"Honey, he's just a baby. All he wants is for you to love him."
"But I do, and it's not enough."
"Yes it is."
"I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how to raise a kid."
"Neither did I. But I did it and you will too. You already ARE doing it. Look at your firstborn. You didn't kill her, and she's thriving."
"Yeah, but that was different."
"Because I only had her, and I worked. And you were still here."
"Yeah, but you still raised her. And look at her now."
"But she was easy. And he's not!"
"Oh, she was easy? I remember your tears over her too. Did you forget her tantrums and crying through the night?"
"And you made it through that."
"And you'll make it through this."
"But how? I don' t know what I'm doing!
"Just do what I did - remember the way YOU were raised. And think of the people you want your kids to become. Teach them how to get there."
"But I keep screwing up and yelling at them and losing my temper."
"So did I. So do all moms. But we all turn out okay. Say you're sorry and move on. And try again."
"But what if I screw them up?"
"Honey, you won't. And I know already you haven't. While you've been sitting there crying, didn't you see the worry in his eyes? He brought you his favorite toys and a pillow to lay your head on. He patted your head, just like you pat his when he cries. He pointed to your tears and said, 'Sad' and then, 'Sorry, Mommy.' Now doesn't that tell you that you're doing something right?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Then keep doing it. It won't be easy, but it never has been. But it's worth it. One day your kids will call you like this, and you can say these same things to them. And you can tell them what I've told you."
"But what if I'm not there for them like you aren't for me?"
"Then you write it down. But they'll know anyway, because of the way you raised them."
"Thanks, Mom."
"You're welcome. You'll be fine."
"I know."
"There you go. That sounds like the Elizabeth I know."
"I love you, kiddo."
"I love you too, Mom. Bye."

How am I going to make it through raising my kids without my mom there to guide me or reassure me, or even annoy me? It was a rough morning, and the only solace I had was an imaginary conversation with my mom. Pitiful. I would write what I said to my dad too, but I don't want to wallow in the grief too deeply today. I just wish... ugh. Fill in that blank yourself. And if you still have parents around, then stop wishing and go DO it. For me. (And let me know what advice you get back so I can at least pretend I have my mom guiding me.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Award from Scrappy Sue

My bloggy friend, Scrappy Sue, gave me a nice little honor. She chose me for an award (She says my blog OOZES calm. Wha?!) about a week ago and, being the overly scheduled frazzled mother that I am, I haven't posted the award until now. So, without further adieu, here it is:

Thank you, Sue! I've enjoyed getting to know you and all the little Kiwi customs and mannerisms that you write about. I'm even hoping to meet you one day!

Now I must choose eight bloggers to pass the love to. You'll have to forgive me if I already sent you an award in the past. I just spent the last 10 minutes searching my blog to make sure I am not repeating myself, but it's possible. (I feel like I'm living Groundhog Day around here lately.) So here's my love, and I'm passing it around!

Southern Grits & Tidbits: I first "met" Shannon after that incredibly crazy thing called a Bloggy Giveaway. (That took some MAJOR energy out of me... the giveaway, not Shannon!) Anyhoo, I love reading her blog for a different perspective on the world: namely, life with FOUR boys and living on a farm. She is full of energy and life and seems so open and fun.

My Garden Hat: Janera is someone who continues to push the edges of my heart, making it grow and expand on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Her writing is so centered, wise, and inspirational. I "met" her through that same Bloggy Giveaway that I mentioned above, and have been so blessed by her as a prayer partner and a friend.

Jodified: I found Jodie's blog when my husband's cousin's wife (isn't it easier to just say Brandi?) sent me a link to her maternity photos and then the newborn photos. (You won't believe the poop photo.) I was drawn to Jodie's honesty and her ability to juggle the craziness in her life. It makes me feel less alone in my own juggling act. Her photos are pretty darn good, too!

Looking Up in the Downpour: I found this blog through my sister, who is related to Hillary by marriage. Hillary's second daughter, Natalie, died in 2007. She was only 14 months old. I've been reading Hillary's posts as she deals with her grief and also the birth of her third daughter. She is so frank and raw about her emotions, and so strong and full of faith too. Her husband deployed this week, so her life is overflowing with stress right now. I read and pray for her, and hope you do too.

Nate Hudson: Julia is Nate's mommy, and started this blog when he was first came home from the hospital as a preemie. Julia and I lived in the same neighborhood growing up, and I was thrilled to find her blog and link back up with her. Her family and my family were always very close, and it's nice being her "neighbor" in the bloggy world.

Serendipity: I met Tammy in real life when she joined my mom's club. She has since moved away to Oklahoma, and started her blog after she moved. I'm lucky to have a way to keep tabs on her and watch her kids grow up long distance.

Way Up High in the Monkey Bread Tree: I just recently stumbled on this blog, and have enjoyed reading it and lurking. I'm still getting to know it, but thought I'd nominate it for an award.

Tripled Pink: This blog is a new one for me too. Keira is married to Richard, who I know from the church my family attended back in the '70s and '80s. My mom kept in touch with his family, and then my sister and I kept in touch with them after Mom died. I just found out about Keira's blog from a family Christmas card. I'll be reading it often.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Needs

I woke Saturday morning pretty grumpy and annoyed. I was having another one of those pity parties, where I think I have been meeting everyone else's needs except for my own. I thought to myself, "Who's going to meet my needs? Who takes care of me?" And then a couple of things hit me. First, do I even know what my needs are? If I don't, how can anyone else? Secondly, if my needs aren't getting met, then it's my responsibility to talk to those who love me about helping me fulfill my needs.

I started pondering. What are my needs? And what things are really only wants, not needs? Now I ask you: have you ever really truly pondered these questions? What would your answers be?

I made a list (of course I did, don't y'all know me?) of my needs and my wants. I ranked my needs on a scale of 1-10, 1 being insignificant and 10 being crucial. I also tried to label the frequency of the need (daily, weekly, etc.). The first thing that came to mind for me was a daily shower. Yes, I NEED a shower every day. That was a 10. Also on my list: daily time "off" (which could be fulfilled during naps, after the kids' bedtime, or on Parents Day Out days), ten minutes of quiet daily, praying on my knees, church weekly, 30 minutes of computer daily, weekly meditation bath, daily 15 minute talk with friends and Dan, daily exercise, weekly weigh in, blog twice weekly, and going to bed at 10:00.

The wants are: 30 minutes of reading daily, 1 hour of computer daily (the need is 30), blog every 2-3 days, and going to bed at 9:30 (which I am missing by seven minutes at the moment!).

Here's the sad thing, which I'm kind of ashamed about: did you notice that my kids aren't listed in my needs? Maybe that's because I'm parched for time away from them right now, as three weeks of cycle break is coming to an end. And maybe that's because I am with them daily, almost hourly in some cases, so the need has already been fulfilled. I didn't put breathing or eating on my list of needs, because it goes without saying. Maybe that's the same with my kids?

So now that my needs are so plainly laid out in front of me, I have to figure out how to use time management to fulfill them. Dan and I had a good talk last night, and he is going to take care of some items. I'd like to handle some of the others by having a better daily routine. With school back in session starting on Tuesday, that should become a little easier.
I've kind of enjoyed this whole exercise in figuring out my needs. I've asked myself some important questions, like:
What moves me?
What are the chains that hold me back in life?
How long can I expect to keep up my current pace?

I think the new year is a GREAT time for asking myself these questions. The bottom line is that once my needs are met, I can fulfill others' needs. Because I know, without a doubt, that there are three other people in my house depending on me. I gotta be on my game for them.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome, 2009!

"For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning." ~ T.S. Eliot


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