Thursday, January 21, 2010

Amazing Feats

Sadie, who had been tucked into bed for 15 minutes, came into my bedroom holding a piece of paper. The paper was from her notepad of blue paper with little gray and white kittens on the bottom.

"Mom," she said, "I made you my grocery list." My eyes got a little wider and I said, "Ok."

She bent over to me and shared her neat little list which was numbered. My guess is that she felt the need to "go over it" with me to ensure there were no mistakes.

The list was entitled, "Sadie's grocries" (that is not my typo, nor are any following this - it is how Sadie wrote it)

1. Get pulups,
2. orange juice,
3. seedless oranges,
4. Green apples,
5. strawberrys
6. blueberrys, and
7. fabreeze for bathroom

Type A? Undoubtedly. Clear, concise, detailed and numbered. She just amazes me sometimes. It is a list that exhibits healthy eating habits and concerns about personal hygiene. I am not quite sure about #7, but at least she wants things smelling good. The vast and ever-changing worlds in which this child unpredictable. Guess I am going to the store tomorrow!

Less than a year ago, we joined the YWCA in order to spend some family time together swimming during the cold-ish NC winter months. The kids weren't what I would call even "decent" swimmers. Neither Ethan nor Sadie could swim the length of the pool doing any legal stroke, their stroke a loosely defined doggy paddle. I think, Sadie, the first time, even used a swim belt (more out of our fear than probably her need). Nevertheless, the were not secure in the water at all.

Today, after 8 months of swim team/practice, Ethan had a chance to swim with the next level of swimmers at our practice site. He swam a total of 60 laps in the pool; that is the equivalent to 1500 yards, just 10 shy of a mile. He swam sets of butterfly, breast, free and back throughout the practice. Amazing what their bodies can learn and can achieve. It was a shining moment for him, I think. His coach was really proud of his focus and desire to work hard. We have come a long, long way in a year.

There have been some hard and difficult issues that one of my children has had to face at school. Children, including one of my own, have been the target of name calling, inappropriate behavior and physical interactions that are quite below acceptable. My concern is for my child, but on equal footing, my heart is tender towards the child who is the perpetrator and his parents.

My own views of child rearing have drastically changed over the last 9 years. How funny to think I actually believed I could control and force the desired behavior of my children. I know that is why God gave me the three He did - so unique in their personalities, in talents, in love languages. My job is to guide, teach, correct and love them. It is their choice whether to obey or not. Guiding is my role, the rest is left them and God. It is not a reflection of me as a person, as a parent. It is a picture of their relationship with God.

We, as adults, live exactly the same way. God guides, teaches, corrects us, all the while never wavering in His love for us. However, we turn away from Him daily, even when we know better. If we can't always have it together, why in the world do I think my children can? Sometimes I feign disbelief over some of their unfathomable choices, but really, I shouldn't. It is just their natural tendency to wander from the One that love them most.

My prayers these days are not for perfectly listening, well-behaved, obedient little robots - although wouldn't that be nice? It is for them to have their hearts tuned into God. For them to develop into the perfectly unique and spirit controlled beings that long for Him. I can see the difference in their lives, little bit by little bit. The apologies are more readily offered, initiated from within their hearts. The voice is humble and sincere. The desire to change flows from their souls.

The fighting, the lack of respect, the sassy backtalk, the whining, the blatant disobedience will never completely go away. Lessen, hopefully, but sure to cycle round again. God has called me to be a mom and at those times I cry out to Him, "Who am I?" as Moses did in Exodus. In those hours of doubt, stress, confusion, disappointment and utter defeat, I will remember God's response: "I will be with you."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Too Much Going On...

Swim meet this past weekend in South Carolina. Ski weekend coming up at Sugar Mountain. Need new health insurance plan for the business - must investigate this week. Too much going on.

Kids put on a good show at the meet. Sadie willed herself to finish her first 100 butterfly. She panicked a bit before the race, but I just shuffled her along to Rob who pumped her up. She started crying toward the end of the first 50, but pushed on, I am sure, because of a great deck parent cheering her on. At the turn of the 75, she saw the light. With about 15 to go she actually surged ahead with a little power. As she touched the final wall, you could hear the crowd was really behind her. Her coach pulled her out of the pool and lavished a lot of praise. She discovered that she loves a cheering crowd, but who doesn't? During this meet, I think she found a new love though - the breast stroke.

Ethan had a great Saturday with his technique (according to the coach) and a Sunday full of dropped times. He is so funny about swimming. He really likes it, but seems totally unphased by what others are doing. He just works along, pretty steady, content with his improvement.

I love the group of families that we swim with. If you are going to spend three days a week and a weekend a month with a group of people, this is it. And, Bob, if you are reading this, I include Jones family in that group.

Jay had Lily duty and despite the fact that he did not brush her hair the entire weekend, he did well. They took long naps, watched movies, did a few errands. She didn't cry this time when I left which means that she had every one of her heart's desires met while I was gone the last swim meet. Detox time.

Health plan at work decided to go up 30%. They have been terrible from the start. I am still fighting coverage on my MRI, recommended by every doctor and paid for by every other insurance plan. I am also fighting their charge for our H1N1 shots despite the fact that every other insurance company is paying for that administration as well. Now, I must tackle the daunting task of investigating our options. Sometimes, small business stinks.

Planning for Sugar Mountain and skiing this weekend with another family. Totally unprepared. At least we have the right clothes, but everything else is left to be decided. Now, Jay wants to go up on Friday morning so we can make the afternoon session. I sit here I really even like skiing? Debatable. At least it is good family time.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Random thoughts

I wrote the following collection of scattered thoughts over the past several days. The thoughts smack of triviality in light of the catastrophe in Haiti. I hesitate to post them. However, this is my life, as out of focus it may be at times. I also think of the people living in abject poverty every day through out the world. What am I doing for them? But for the grace of God it could be me. With renewed feelings of extreme gratefulness and gratitude to have the following experiences and thoughts, I post.

Tonight, I was helping Lily take a bath. She loves to talk, babbling incessantly without much thought as to what is coming out of her mouth. She says to me, "Today, we did 'science' at lunch." I responded, "Oh. What did you do?" Lily said, "We put yogurt in our water and then we added some food." "Lily, that isn't called 'science,' that is called 'playing with your food.' You better watch it because you will get in trouble for it." She paused and chose not to say anything else on this topic.

I don't understand Sarah Palin. I mean, I am a card carrying member of the Republican party. I will never vote for her, ever. Who is driving her train? My best guess is that it is the media. The more they portray her as the "shining light of party," the more those of us on the fringe closest to left of the party start believing that she is the core of what it believes rather than the freakish, far right. Surely this benefits "the other side" of which most of the media is card carrying members.

I just know way too much about her personal life, more than any other elected official, and she is not that anymore. (The names of her children, out of wedlock grandchild, even the boyfriend/father in Playgirl - the fact that he posed, not the pictures themselves) Well, maybe we ALL know more about "that dress" and Bill Clinton than we needed. And, I do recall Dick Cheney has a lesbian daughter. Useless pieces of information people. Useless garbage taking space in my brain. I don't need to know any more about her than I do Jon & Kate plus 8. And yet, the media keeps going on and on and on.

I hear people say that they feel they can relate to her. She is just an average hockey mom. Or, someone will say I will vote for this person because they are like me. I believe that I am far too simple-minded for that to be a good thing. I don't want "to be able to sit around" and have a glass of wine, or beer with Barack Obama. As our president, he should be above me in intellect, in education, in knowledge, in experiences. He shouldn't be "common man," right? C'mon people, we are electing the leader of the free world, not choosing our next dinner club members.

Library Books. Why can't we keep up with them? It doesn't matter whether they are from the school library or the city library. We lose them - in the car, in other peoples' cars, all over the house, even at school. We turn them into the wrong location, creating confusion for everyone. We get overdue fines (from the city) and reminder slips (from the school). We have paid money for books we never located. You just have to love spending money on something you lost. If anyone out there has a process for keeping up with library books, please let me know. I am afraid to go there any more.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Spread. Yes, it exists and it is heavenly. Like putting a spreadable Reese's cup on bread. It is at WalMart - peanut butter aisle. I wonder why I can't drop these last 5 - 6 pounds.

Once again, a particular family member is moving. Once again, I feel the need to scoop up any discarded furniture or items of memory. Among this move's loot, are voluminous boxes over flowing with crafting supplies. I will never need take a trip to Hobby Lobby for a child's project again. Paint, glue, feathers, markers, Styrofoam balls, enough beads and parts to make 100 necklaces, clay, sponges, brushes, nifty little craft name it, my sister bought it. She really had two obsessions - funky folk art and craft/scrapbooking supplies. I have now been the recipient of both. Her distinct smell is still all over these things which make me weepy. I wish she were here to use them with me.

Lately, my heart has heard the cry of a little baby, possibly a child. I don't mean this in the literal sense like I am hearing voices. I mean, a little desire is stirring in my soul to bring another into our family. I know I am a bit crazy, but this idea of adoption has always been out there in my thoughts. It is a little louder at the moment. I pray that God will open or close the door to this thought and for my spirit to calm and at peace.

One last thought to Haiti...I find it interesting that I wrote the morning of the earthquake in Haiti about some of the responses to the Tsunami in 2004 being the wrath of God. It has happened again; this time with Pat Robertson. Speechless.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


After yesterday's post, I realized that either 1) it was maybe too serious 2) it didn't make sense or 3) offended too many. Regardless, I am still going to write about it. Probably several entries, in fact. In the meantime, however, I will break up the arduous and formidable topic with this little tale from my life.

A sign of my body succumbing to illness is when my eyes become tired and sore. Not just achy but the eyeballs themselves throb and pound. The only relief is a very hot washcloth on my eyes, liberal amounts of water, and massive amounts of sleep. Over the past couple of years, I noticed that my eyes were more sore than they weren't.

Beginning in September, this little symptom started snowballing. I felt it every day, particularly at night. I could not keep my eyes open. Just painful. I just knew a terrible combination of illnesses were waiting for me the very next morning - a boiling pot of pneumonia, flu, bronchitis, topped of by the worst sinus infection of all time. Headaches began their decent by mid morning each day and I decided I could wait not longer. To the doctor I went.

Despite a series of doctor appointments, a round of antibiotics and nasal decongestant, nothing changed. To make matters worse, another condition developed, too - jaw clenching and some teeth grinding. My doctor suspicions began to grow and he decided to order an MRI to see exactly what was going on with all of these symptoms. It showed nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zippo.

The holidays came and went. I began to tire more easily resulting in my bedtime rolling in around 8. All I wanted to do was close my eyes. I decided I needed lots of vitamins, exercise and water. Unfortunately, this didn't change my fatigue, instead it gave me gas and muscle soreness.

Last week, while I was cleaning out my nightstand, I contemplated calling the doctor...again. But, what was he going to do? Blood work? I was in a bit of a quandary. I was organizing this drawer when I spied something shoved way in the back. I had not seen this in several years. I opened it up. Low and behold, after using it, my eye aches, my clenching, my headaches have all gone away. It has been miraculous!

What did I find, you ask? Why, the glasses that were prescribed to me about 4 years ago that haven't been on my face in about 2 years!

I do have a couple pairs of reading glasses that get tossed around in my pocketbook. I bring them out whenever the print is too small for me to read. Usually, though, I don't take the time to get them out, opting to deepen my frown lines by squinting my way through it. For the last two years, I have been a more consistent blogger and computer user which, without a doubt, has caused the eye irritation and headaches. I promptly made an appointment with my optometrist to have an exam and update my prescription. In the meantime, I will be sporting my old specks all the time. Sometimes we just can't see the obvious.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Our Human Box

Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

No, I didn't write that. Someone else did. I have read it several times. The words themselves, the word choices are fairly accurate, with the exception of the word "Zombie." Still, three things are missing, well, more like dismissed in this quote. (in addition to the most obvious fact that the writer is not a believer). I will touch on two today, the third one tomorrow.

Edward Said, a literary critic, culled the term the "Other" - people who seem to foreign in some truth that we consider them alien to us. The statement above is evidence of someone ignoring the magnitude of who God is and then trying to cram Him, "the Other," into a human viewpoint. God does not fit into our box, people. God transcends all that we know on this earth, so we cannot use our simple words to pare down who He really is. To insist on full understanding is nothing but futility.

Jan Winebrenner in, "The Grace of Catastrophe" explains this well when she writes, "God is infinite, and our finite minds cannot grasp all that He is, all that He wants to be to us, all that He is doing, and all the He wants to do for us. We are incapable of fully plumbing the depths of God, His character, His plans, His goals; nor can we completely comprehend the strength of His love, the passion of His pursuit of us, the length to which He will go to make Himself known to us."

God, in His own voice, explains this to us in scripture:
My thoughts are not your thoughts.
nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

Yet, how often do we try to understand life through our own lenses and not through His word? We simplify Him. We water down His power, dilute His strength, weaken His word. We interpret His motives and His actions to fit our lives. It makes it easier to justify our own actions, our choices, and the events happenings around us because we think we have the power to fully understand Him. It is tempting, almost irresistible to judge and make assumptions about circumstances, causes, and consequences.

In 2004 an earthquake hit the Indian Ocean. The force unleashed was estimated to have released the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The resulting tsunami killed over 150,000 and left millions homeless. It pained me to hear believers interpret this event as the wrath of God on an ignorantly-perceived God-less society. It amazed me they had the audacity to claim to know the purpose behind such a catastrophe. The lack of humility that came with such a statement overwhelmed me. The focus had shifted off of their desperate need for God and into a position of false enlightenment.

The other component missing from that statement is love which is inseparable from God. He cannot be anything but full of love because that is fully His nature. A love we cannot fully experience on earth. The well-quoted scripture, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son..." (John 3:16) And again in 1 John 4:10, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

Our Enemy loves for us to "create and imagine" our God. Winebrenner says again, "We forget the truth about him, about His character, about the nature of His love for us and the "kind intention of His will" Ephesians 1:5." We consistently fail to grasp that God's love is "totally other." It operates solely from Him, unique to Him and not on our timetable, our plans or our circumstances.

I don't presume to know what the writer's life is like. I do know that that our Enemy does not want us to believe that God loves us. He goes to great lengths to prevent us from experiencing it, from believing in it. I see it in my own life every day. It comes in whispers in my ear, challenging what I know is true in God's word and about His character.

Are you resolved today to listen to His voice through His word and to feel His love that without fail tries to hold you?

I'll end with this quote from Larry Crabb, "There's more to knowing God than we dare imagine. It's time to put aside our cynicism and come to God, waiting consciously and deliberately, and with discipline for the Spirit to delight our souls with the rich fare of God."

In Search of Justice

As a mother of girls, I take some effort into procuring clothing that is properly fitting, cute, yet age appropriate and made decently enough that it can withstand the rigours of the roughness and accident-proness of daughter #1 in order to be passed down to daughter #2. I care about my son, too, but you'll soon understand why he does not need to be included in this post.

We are at a transition period with daughter #1, age 8. I learned to pick my battles with her attire early on, giving her a day here and there to make her own choices. Otherwise, we have a few standard rules that she has to obey. Thankfully, she is at a school where the main pieces of clothing are dictated to her. Yes, uniforms. Yet, I recognized over the summer that I needed to at least hear her out when she said, "You just don't know fashion, Mom."

I asked several moms of her friends exactly where does one go when you start aging out of Gymboree-type clothing? Their response: Justice. (and a crowd of tween girls start going wild). They didn't warn me, but I will send up some cautionary flares for you.

On our first trip, my daughter walked in there and thought she had died and gone to heaven. She swooned and pined over the tick-tackiest, heaped on bling-iest, eye-gouging colored clothes in the store, of which there were plenty. Lest I forget to mention to you our discovery of racks and piles of toys, lip gloss, hair accessories stuffed into every corner and every rack of clothing. Of course, it was always "on sale" and further encouraged at the cashier station. Daughter #1 lit up like a Christmas tree at the glory of it all. The music? Of course blaring, sounding like a hyped-up Cyndi Lauper on crystal meth. Just another work-them-into-a-riot marking device.

And if I thought there might be a bargain here, I was quickly corrected. T-shirts: $25.00. A t-shirt that you can see your hand through - a simple t-shirt with a very basic silk-screened design on it.

I'll give the marketing and merchandising leaders credit where credit is due. They have created a den that works even the most shy and meek little girl into a frenzy. You walk into the store, believing that you are there for clothes and you walk about with 2 webkinz, a My Little Pet Shop gift set and some charm bracelet.

I was sorely prepared for this adventure. I was cajoled into purchasing two pieces of the "add-ons"- a lipgloss bracelet contraption and another tube of sparkly gloss. Seriously, I think at that point the neon coloring that adorned just about every item in the store had worked on my mental acuity. I caved. A week later, I found it melting under the back seat of the car, creating a strawberry scented cesspool. The other unfortunate chap stick was taken away by her "obsessed with no make-up on my child" dad within minutes of leaving the store.

Overpriced? Yes. Shopped and worn by every girl from grades 2 - 7? Yes. Much to my chagrin, we have a store credit burning a hole in Daughter #1's pocket. We plan on going this Saturday. Let the pep talks being now, because I will not walk out of that store with anything made of unnatural fibers, metal or plastic.

As my children age, I hear I can look forward to the next step in the "popular shopping chain" . A poorly-lit store that will require me to carry a flashlight to navigate my way to more overpriced, poorly made junk all the while listening to more ear blasting music. I hear I might need to stock up on my claritin because there will be no store "models" to come to my aid lest I have an allergy attack from inhaling the overwhelming aroma of cologne. I believe they are paid to ignore customers.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Thankful for the Warmth

Sing with me to this familiar doxology with new words...

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him for garages when it's cold.
Praise Him for the heat in my car.
Praise Him for coats, hats, a glove and a scarf.

Longest cold spell since 1977 hitting our area. Too cold for me, period. The use of the word "glove" in the singular was not a typo. I lost a glove somewhere between my car and the check-out at the grocery. Retracing my steps produced nothing. It is a painful thing to happen when 1) it is this cold 2) it is after Christmas and all the remaining stock of gloves has been replaced by bathing suits (it is NC, afterall) and 3) you have small hands for an adult, some refering to them as "muppet hands" thus greatly reducing your choice of gloves even in the best of selections.

I have never, in my life, been so thankful for the warmth I have this season. My heart is particularly tuned in to those riding bicycles, waiting at bus stops and for those that don't have that option. Praise God that I do. Have you thanked Him for that blessing today?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Well, I panicked yesterday. I thought I had exposed too much, yet again. It wasn't that I didn't want anyone to read my posts. It was that I didn't want it plastered all over facebook like I was announcing, "Look what I have done! Look what I can do! Everyone pat me on the back." For some reason this time, multiple stories I had written showed up on the news feed of my friends. Basically, it all boiled down to me messing around with technology that I really didn't understand how to use.

When I was alerted to this fact, I thought it was clogging up facebook, people's profiles, etc. I was also told that I should be concerned because it was like my personal diary and personal thoughts. I realized the person telling me this had not read my blog before because it is pretty obvious that my blog is all about the personal and private - from the triumphs to the failures and all in between. I don't really hold much back.

I link my blog to the outside world because I think others might find the subject matter relatable. If I am going through it, then someone else is, too. Sometimes I post because I need comforting or affirmation of my parenting. Writing is the cheapest form of therapy for me. Other times, my life is just so ridiculous, that I think that it needs sharing. I can laugh at it, so can others.

What came out of "my mistake" yesterday was really fantastic. I had three conversations with parents at my kids' school who had been dealing with the same issues in their house. Some had suggestions, some just provided comfort. One was considering an ENT referral, but was now thinking urological. One person provided much comfort about the tests Sadie will undergo, having been there with her daughter. And one offered to have her child, recently solved of the issue, to provide support to Sadie. I received some wonderful encouragement and enlightenment from other parents who also parent children like Sadie. Here are several comments:

"It was exactly what I needed to give me perspective for what has been going on between my daughter and me."

"Your words that Sadie often uses the word "embarrassing" hit home with me in a way that you will never know. My daughter tells me that all the time. It was a light bulb for me. Her idea that she is a tough girl makes it embarrassing that she needs me to help her. I constantly tell her that if she came on this earth knowing how to handle everything, then there would be no need for God to make parents. He would just plop us here and send us on our way."

The world is such a different place for our little girls. They are trying so hard to compete at such high levels finding their place in a world where people think of equality now, versus that of God's design. They want to be tough like boys, but don't know how to balance that with their natural feminine instincts. It can be particularly more difficult for little girls who have issues in their lives that they find embarrassing so perhaps they search for other means to prove that they are okay."

"I just thought you should know that with kids who carry things so close to their heart it can be challenging and I understand what you are feeling."

I also received much encouragement from friends to keep plugging along this mothering trail:

"Hearing your words just re-enforced what Tripp says in Shepherding a Child's Heart--it's not their behavior we focus on; it's what is going on in their hearts. We parents can help our kids experience cleansing and wholeness as they learn to delete these fears, wounds, and unrealistic expectations from their little hearts.Hopefully, you will have the joy of a mother watching her adult child who has THROWN OFF EVERY ENCUMBRANCE AND THE SINS WHICH SO EASILY BESET HER and is running her race of life!Blessings to you in your mothering."

She is one of my favorite kids....I love her spunk...she reminds me of my daughter in many ways...

"Aren't you thankful when the Holy Spirit allows us to see a little deeper and reveal a little more about one of the Lord's precious creations!"

Finally, I was overwhelmed at the response to me, as a "writer." I didn't know how many of you read this little corner of the world of mine. To clarify, I know the general numbers of who checks out my blog daily, but I do not have names. How enjoyable it was for me to hear many of you comment on facebook. Glad I can provide some free entertainment for you, although I know I am on the greater receiving end.

On a last note regarding transparency, a topic I refer to often, let me quote a comment I received on something I wrote I while ago.

"This post feels like a pep talk for anyone (such as myself) that follows Christ out on a limb and then needs to remind themselves of why they went out there. Saying something is too personal is just an excuse to remain comfortable...and I'm right there with you, sick of comfy and ready for real! Keep it up!"
Thank you for comforting me in my time of anxiety and panic. I love the dialogue and comments although I can't always respond. If the your comments and life experiences are encouraging to me, then they are to others as well. Keep them up!

For God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.
Thessalonians 5:9-11
You lost your second tooth tonight. I can hardly stand to see the change in you you. I am not really sure whether I want to cry because you are growing up on me so quickly. Or, whether I want to giggle at your newly acquired lisp and silly little smile.

An Overlooked Heart

I think it is fair to say that as a general rule, anyone who has met my Sadie doesn't easily forget her. Sometimes it is positive, and sometimes it isn't. Either way, she is compelling and intriguing, I think. Smart, crazy, tough, athletic, artistic, creative, curious, motivated, impulsive. Did I say crazy? But, the one thing that often goes unnoticed is her sensitivity. Even I, as her mother, often believe she is tougher than the reality of what is churning in her little heart.

Two recent events have opened my eyes to something I often overlook in my second child.

The first happened on New Year's Eve. Actually the ball start rolling a day earlier at swim practice; the ball became a destructive force the day after. This is the time of year when her swim coach sits down with each of the kids to assess their progress and revise goals for the year. Sadie's great love is swimming. She discovered it this summer and hasn't stopped since. She begs for more and more and now practices three afternoons a week. Sadie is a good swimmer with the potential to be a great swimmer. Her coach believes that her body was made for swimming the butterfly and in time the possibilities are there. Right now, however, is another story. Is she at the top of her age division? Hardly. But, her perception is that she is a much faster swimmer than reality. Her coach, understandably, wants to start bridging the gap between what goes on at practice with what goes on at meets. He wants the kids to be more aware of their times in each event and concentrate on what their bodies are doing in the water to improve their times. Therefore, he encouraged Sadie to ask me to show her her times.

I was not receptive to this idea. She is 8. This should all be about fun, right? I tell the kids when they have dropped or gained time, but they are not given information on their standings in comparison to others or how close they are to their first standard, which is called a "B" time. I don't want them to have that pressure, yet. I never viewed it as a matter of incentive, really, and certainly never thought through her possible reaction to this full disclosure. Yet, I still questioned the coach about this, and he assured me she was ready. It would be a great motivator for Sadie, who is a very "tough kid."

Forward to New Year's Eve. Right after lunch Sadie came to me and asked me to show her her times. They are all on the computer so we sat down on the bed and I began. "Here is your time." I said. "And what is the B time?" Sadie responded. "Ummm, well, here." I said. Her eyes opened wide. "What about my other events?" I showed her each of the comparisons. Her face scrunched up, the tears welled up in her eyes and she shouted, "I am horrible at swimming. I am never going to swim again!" She flung herself on the bed. Whoa - I was not expecting this severe reaction at all. Where was my tough Sadie, the one who always let things roll off her back? I spent the next 4+ hours dealing with wailing, frustration, and as much depression as an 8 year old can muster. I was pretty ticked with her coach for pushing this issue. I used every bit of reasoning and information I had. Yet, nothing changed the utter devastation that showed on her face, mirroring what her heart was feeling.

Finally, in the car outside of the restaurant where we were to meet 20 other people for dinner, I said, "Sadie, why did you choose to swim?" Her response, "Because I love it and I love how I feel strong in the water." "Well, that hasn't changed because of your times. That is all I am going to say about it. You need to decide what you want to do and let me know." I answered. About halfway through dinner, Sadie came over to me and said, "Mom, I need to tell you something. I have decided I am still going to swim." I said, "Ok. Great." Relief.

As a side note, at the next practice, Sadie was more focused and determined. Maybe her coach knew something after all. Sorry, Coach Rob. Good thing I couldn't find your cell number on New Year's Eve.

The second incident happened yesterday. Sadie has never stayed dry at night. Ever. Every year at the pediatrician's office we ask about this. The answer is always, "We're not worried; she will grow out of it." We have always believed that her inability to stay dry is because Sadie is an incredibly deep sleeper. Sadie sleeps like the dead. You cannot wake her up. We have offered up every incentive for a dry night, including a much coveted American Girl doll. We have also doled out some verbal warnings and minor discipline. We have tried all types of devices to help her, including a special alarm that goes off when it detects wetness. The buzz is supposed to train your brain to recognize the signal it is receiving from your body. Unfortunately, Sadie just sleeps through the alarm. We tried having her sleep in our room so that I could get to her by the time the alarm buzzed. The result was that alarm went off, I walked a still sleeping Sadie to the bathroom, while she peed on the floor the entire way. She never woke up.

At her last check-up, I firmly stated that I didn't feel comfortable "waiting for her to grow out of it" anymore. At 8 years-old, she is embarrassed by this fact, going to great lengths to hide it. Sleepovers are becoming more frequent and she is terrified that someone will make fun of her. Therefore, the doctor made us an appointment with an urologist. We had this appointment yesterday.

It didn't take long for the doctor to strongly believe that Sadie has some "bladder malfunction." One reason is that even after urinating, she still had 4-5 oz of urine in her bladder. Our other answers to his questions continued to confirm that there are some physical problems, completely out of her control. In addition, the stress of not being able to control her bladder has probably created another set of problems. Our next step is a series of tests this coming Thursday. He went through some details of what this would mean to Sadie and said that it shouldn't hurt, despite his use of the word, "catheter". Sadie seemed to be taking it all in stride. In fact, she even announced that she was "happy" because she would be able to get rid of the pull-ups. We left the appointment and I dropped her off at school without another thought. What a tough girl, right?

When I arrived at school to pick up the kids, I immediately recognized that something was not right with Sadie. Anguish, fear and a bit of panic was on her face. Evidently, her mind had been fixated on these tests. Mentally, she had worked herself into a paranoid frenzy. She was starting to break down in tears so we quickly walked to the car. When we got home, she ran to my room, and began to cry. She refused to talk to me about it and after about 20 minutes fell asleep. I know that the emotional trauma of the "unknown test" had wiped her out physically. Even when she woke up, she continued to cry and refuse to talk to me about it, claiming she was too embarrassed. Her only real answer to me was that she was not going to have the tests done. With enough coaxing, a discussion of my own encounters with medical tests and then a girls' trip to Starbucks after dinner, she opened up about her fears which we addressed. She felt relief and more at peace with Thursday.

My tough Sadie, is really not that tough at all. I make that statement not using a haughty, bullying sort of tone. I make that statement with enlightenment and understanding. I have often dismissed her heart because she is so very tough physically and seemed to let the difficulties of life bounce around her exterior, not penetrating her skin. Instead, she internalizes her deepest emotions and fears, squashing them deep down to fester and worry her. When younger, Sadie could be outlandish in her communications. Always to the extreme ends of the spectrum - crazy exuberance to the most horrific tantrums and fits. In my desire to teach her moderation and appropriateness, I am sure I magnified to these innate inclinations in her.

I also learned that Sadie has a difficult time talking about matters of the heart. She often uses the word "embarrassing." It is natural to me that she should view me as the one person on this earth that she can talk to about anything without shame. Rather, it appears I might be the most difficult one. I spent a large amount of our time at Starbucks and in the car ride affirming my role as her confidant. Her response and new-found willingness melted my heart.

Although the swimming incident and this doctor visit were two very trying and emotional situations to handle, I thank God for allowing me this insight into my child. I can build the foundation for our communication now so hopefully, the teenage years will have something from which to work. I will no longer overlook her tough, yet sensitive little heart.

I love you, Sadie. With all of my heart, I love you.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Lily's Prayer

You know,
Even when you don't want to eat them, you have to eat your brussel sprouts.
And, God, thank you for my tooth being lost.
And God, thank you that you can fix everything and make everything better.
Thank you for my dinner and brussel sprouts.
I love you, God.
Confession time: We have two girls who still wear pull-ups at night. They are 8 and 5. To be very fair, Sadie truly cannot help that she is still wearing pull-ups. Lily, well, is still in them because Sadie is and I have been too lazy to really end this "convenience." However, she is dry about 2 times a week so I know the transition should be easy.

Sadie sleeps like the dead. You cannot wake her up. We have tried everything with her. This includes an alarm that goes off when it detects wetness. The buzz is supposed to train your brain to recognize the signal it is receiving from your body. Unfortunately, Sadie just sleeps through the alarm. We tried having her sleep in our room so that I could get to her by the time the alarm . The result was that alarm went off and I walked a still sleeping Sadie to the bathroom, all the while she was peeing the entire way. She never woke up.

Her pediatrician has been very laid back about the entire situation claiming that she would eventually grow out of it. However, as she as become more aware of her need for a "diaper" at night, her embarrassment has grown. It is beginning to impede sleep overs and I know that she really wants to stay dry, but when her eyelids close, she has no control. An appointment has been made with an urologist to hear what possible solutions exist since we have used up everything the pediatrician has suggested.

So, two nights ago, I saw that we were low on pull-ups and made the decision not to buy any more. It was time to try again. New year, new resolves, you know. Last night, we put Lily on a pallet on our floor with the alarm. For Sadie, we limited bedding, cranked up a space heater and said some prayers. We did what is always recommended, no liquids after 7 am, taking a bathroom trip around 11.

How did we do? Lily stayed dry! I didn't sleep, as I was on edge waiting for the alarm, but she woke up cork dry. Sadie...well, she stayed dry, too. She did get up in the night to use the bathroom - a major milestone. Unfortunately, she chose the carpet as her toilet. That is why we have a chargeable mini-steam cleaner ready, at all times.

I feel quite encouraged, though somewhat ashamed we did not start this journey with Lily sooner. As for Sadie, I am looking forward to hearing what the doctor might be able to do to help. Here's to dryness.

Facebook Crackbook

Question: If our world continuously provides ways of faster and more immediate means of communicating with others, then why do most of us feel very "unconnected, isolated and alone?"

I have been mulling over that which is "facebook" for a while. There are times when it seems to completely consume me (Crackbook) and then other times I don't check it for several days or a week. My interest in facebook began a year and a half ago when I was recuperating from back surgery. My long-time friend, Angela, suggested it to me as a great way to kill time. She was correct in that assessment. Later, my focus on facebook was driven by my pending high school reunion. As part of the committee, it was invaluable tool through which we found classmates and organized the reunion. That was in October. Now, I am not too sure why I am still lingering around those parts.

Most assuredly, facebook satisfies some basic surface connections, but over time it stays just there, never going deeper. You know all bits of trivial information about people, like what they cooked for dinner, how busy their weekend was and how accurate they are at weather updates (as if I can't look out the window). Yet, something is clearly missing.

Do I really need to know that much mundane, monotonous information about my friends? More poignantly, is it replacing a deeper level of connection that satisfies that longing of every soul - to feel as if he matters?

What I find happening through facebook is that you just stop talking...with your voice. You read these little bits and pieces of people's lives and think you have made a connection. You begin to believe you "know them." In reality, no meaningful, heart-filling exchange has taken place. No one knows you, who you really are and you know nothing short of how your friend's children made the honor roll. It becomes isolating and lonely. Before you know it, you begin to believe that the world is moving without you.

I am in a bit of a quandary over this one. Would deactivating my account make me "unreachable?" Hardly. I am in the phone book, I do have this blog and I do have an email account. Those that want to stay in touch will and those that don't are probably not friends I had prior to facebook. Deactivating would also mean more face time, a forced reason to call people, and more time to do just about everything during some weeks. I think it also means more time to devote to writing, something I clearly love more than facebook.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Saga Continues

STOP! Before reading further you must have read this entry:

My Cupholder Runneth Over as well as snippets from this entry and the very end of this one.

So, I start loading some things into the trunk of my car this morning after the kids had left for school. Just some things I needed to return to their owners. Imagine what I find! Why, lookie there, it is the kids' swim bag. The swim bag they last used 5 DAYS AGO, still sitting in the trunk of my car, filled to the brim with wet towels, suits, etc. Guess what today is? Swim practice day. Guess who doesn't have anything to wear but stinky swimsuits and nothing to dry their bodies' off with but damp moldy towels??!?! Guess who is learning a lesson... TODAY!!!

Ok, I admit it. I am not nearly as terrible as my bite. As much as I wanted to show up with nothing or the filth bag, I didn't. My reasoning was 1) we pay too much for these lessons for my kids not to swim and 2) a big swim meet is only two weeks away and my kids need all the practice they can get. I know, I am weak and my excuses are flimsy.

I had just enough time to throw the pungent contents of the bag, less the new sham-wow type swim towel, into the wash. I grabbed some extra towels upstairs and some sweats from the recently folded laundry and headed out the door with freshly smelling swim suits.

I did have one more thing up my sleeve, however. Once the kids got in the car from school, I pretended, just for a little bit that I did not take care of the bag. They thought they had nothing to wear except for nastiness. I saw shock, disbelief and this question came out of their mouths, "Mom, what are we going to do?"

My reply: Get your gear out of the car every time. Now, look in the back and get your swim bag; it has clean clothes in it.

It was nice tonight to see each child bring in their back pack, lunch box, swim bag, clothes, etc. We are making some progress.

Party Pooper

As if the holidays were not already crazy with to-do lists, Jay and I pack it in further with unending entertaining. We just can't get enough of our friends and family, I guess. Maybe it is the need to spread the love during this season. Perhaps we feel that entertaining is our way to give back to our friends for their gifts of love to us during the year. Since we both do not have the gifts of mercy, maybe we see this as some price for our lack of understanding or compassion throughout the year. Please forgive us, friends, now eat some cake. Or, possibly, we are just glutens for fun and frivolity. Of course, it might be the obvious. We have the best friends and family in the world and can't stand not having them with us, sometimes multiple times, through out the most wonderful time of year.

So, this evening, on January 1, after all of my immediate family has left the house, I plopped into a chair. 5 nights/days of entertaining this month and I am pooped. Time to gather up my house, put away the serving platters, pastry server, and take back the chafing dishes I borrowed from a friend.

I literally picked up our Christmas welcome mat this evening and didn't put our year-round one down. Not because visitors are no longer welcome. It is because Dixie decided to use it as her pee mat and after so many washings, it isn't coming clean.

Insanely, I am already thinking of our next "party." A family potluck soup and salad night with board games. Sounds like a perfect evening to occupy us during what is the longest cold snap our geographical location has experienced since 1977. Now ,where is my planner?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

My cupholders runneth over

I have had lots of "my-mini-van-could-be-condemned-because-of-its-filth" sagas including a mouse that lived in it for several weeks, many milk, juice, and tea spills, a multitude of bodily function explosions, filth, trash, etc. I have tried to keep the car clean, honestly. But being in constant use with three kids plus on a near daily basis, it is what it is. I remember Jay having a fit about the state of my car one day and then I took a look at his - four verses one. No contest.

Recently, however, I knew I reached a new level when my son started making apologies to his friends when they came into our car. I also knew it had reached epic proportions when another mom said that Sadie went on and on about how clean their car was when she rode in it. I think my two oldest finally understand why we want a clean car.

So, there was a stink in the car for a couple of weeks. A stinky, musty odoriferous gag-inducing ick. No child could discover the source despite repeated request by me to search every corner and crevice. Finally, after gagging one morning on the way to school, I decided to don gloves and a trash bag and investigate. Into the deep recesses of the car I traveled, to the place I lovingly refer to as "Satan's Lair."

It didn't take long, the discover of which added to my ire. A sports-type cup leaking what I could only surmise was chocolate milk, somewhat solidified, nearly a cottage cheese consistency. The cup had been shoved into the seat pocket in front of the third row of seats. As I started poking around, I noticed a couple more cups shoved the other pocket, along with various snack bags, hair bows, a crayon, several lego pieces, an overdue library book and headphones for the car audio system. Yes, all of them with at least a couple drops of the souring brown liquid. Some had complete saturation.

Upon further discovery I found in the other pocket more treasures and delights similar to above. And then...if it couldn't get any worse, I spied the cupholders. I say that plural because the Honda Odyssey has something like 26 cup holders in it - I am not lying. I happened to see two joining ones and I know I gasped out loud. A left over mushy, fermenting apple from some weeks earlier, possibly a month or so, soaking in some gooey orange syrup from a disintegrating McDonald's cup. It was trying to become one with some chintzy gold necklace and a melted tube of chapstick. I know the hair on my neck started to stand up and possibly some slivers of steam began curling out of my ears.

In my zen-like state, I created a plan and a subsequent consequence for not obeying my plan, otherwise known as "discipline." The new rule: children must consistently keep the van cleaned up. How ingenious of me, right? Everything is to be brought in from the car when we get home. I mean EVERYTHING. No clothing, backpacks, shoes or coats left behind. I know, why do I have shoes and clothing lying around our car? Because the children change into swim gear three times a week leaving school uniforms, socks, etc. strewn about. They are also to keep all trash out of the back and bring in toys/electronics, too. Nirvana, right? The punishment for not doing their job? Vacuuming the entire car and cleaning all cupholders. My cupholders will not longer runneth over!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The first loss

An impromptu trip to a local furniture store took a very funny turn today.

We decided to search for a new sofa for our kitchen area. Six years of little kids spills, puppy chewing, and some unfortunate run-ins with the vacuum had made our current sofa pretty shabby. Jay suggested we go to a local, very large furniture store outlet to scope some possibilities.

We were on the second floor of the outlet center in a gigantic open room with rows and rows of all shapes and colors of upholstery. Jay and I kept moving through the rows, easily eliminating most, if not all the choices. The kids couldn't keep up with us and they stayed back in one of the first rows, messing around as kids would do if faced with hundreds of sofas.

Jay and I were halfway across the room when we heard a shout. We saw Sadie running toward us as fast as she could, her face a mix of excitement and determination. Inwardly, I panicked. All I could think was that Lily must have peed or worse on one of the sofas. The emergency exit plan was forming in my mind when Sadie arrived and said:

"Lily just lost her tooth and here it is!" With that, she thrust this little white tooth about the size of a grain of rice into my face.

I quickly looked across the room to Lily and shouted her name. Lily, still sitting on a sofa, stood up, turned to me and with fist pumping in the air, started jumping up and down. Her little ponytail was just bouncing in the air and her smile was as big as I have ever seen it, despite being one tooth less. She was thrilled.

Sadie continued the tale by stating that she had offered a piece of gum to Lily and when Lily bit into it, the tooth just came out. It was Lily's right bottom tooth.

Lily ran to me and we went to the bathroom to get some paper towels for blood, which was surprisingly little. It was clearly much looser than I had realized. From that moment on, whenever she saw anyone in the store, she announced with every ounce of pride in her, "I lost my tooth!"

My youngest and last child is losing her baby teeth. Another end of a season and the transition into a new one.