Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A little of what I'm reading

From God's Joyful Surprise by Sue Monk Kidd:
The path of God leads through the very middle of my most daily routine. It does not bypass Oak Streets. In fact, these noisy, busy, boring places are not in the way of God's presence but the way to it. The content of prayer is life itself.
.... Life doesn't stop for the holy to happen. Holiness occurs in the course of life -- or never. You simply open to God here and now. In other words, you don't view life from two different benches, separating life into where God is and where He is not. There is only one bench, one view. All is holy. Every breathtaking moment.

Dear Lord, help me to remember that you are always with me and to see your hand in everything - and your spirit in everyone. Thank you for your presence while I'm working, riding the train, playing with R, and working in the yard. Thank you for helping me to see even the most trivial parts of my day in a new way. Amen!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Weekend update

It has just been absolutely amazingly beautiful here this weekend, and we've been enjoying it. On Saturday, we worked in the yard nearly all day. I bought MORE plants and dug more holes and spread more mulch (I think I'm developing an obsession), all while R played with the hose and watered everything in sight, including me. :-)

Today, we met friends at Drumlin Farm. Our friends were also meeting other friends there with three-year-old girls, and it was very cute when our four three-year-olds held hands and walked in a line together (we forgot our camera - doh!). And, because the girls were all excited about the baby goats and lambs, R got over his fear of them. He even fed grass to the goats. Yay! That was after telling me on our way to the farm, "I get a little freaked out by the animals." (He overheard me saying that. Earlier this morning, he was insisting that it was his friend A that was afraid of the animals even though she LOVES them.)

Here are some cute things R has said recently:
  • Ginantic (= gigantic)
  • Spreckles (= freckles; he woke up this morning in our bed, rolled over, and said to A, "Daddy, you have spreckles just like me!")
  • At school, R painted a little hinged box for "Family Day" for A and me. I had put it on the fireplace mantle with some of R's rocks inside it - the ones he picks up everytime we take a walk somewhere. R asked me to take it down so he could look at it. He saw the rocks and told me, "This is my rock collection!" I have no idea where he learned that word.
  • While we were playing trains, R grabbed a tunnel, put it to his mouth, and said in a muffled, Charlie-Brown-teacher-type voice: "Attention passengers, the next Red Line train to Ashmont is now arriving." He recited the recording from the subway station near us word for word.
  • "I miss Grandma." (Me, too, Mom!)
  • While A packed a picnic lunch this morning for our trip to the farm, R ran and got some pennies and dimes and told A: "I know, Daddy! We should go for a train ride today. I have money!"

Tomorrow, we're hoping to find a place to meet friends and set off some model rockets. We also have more yard work to do.

I hope everyone is having a great, long weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tiny miracles

This morning, after a second night of uninterrupted sleep in my own bed (YAY!), I got up before A and R and headed downstairs. I did my devotions and then decided to go outside to check on my garden. Sue Monk Kidd's book God's Joyful Surprise, which I'm reading now, talks a lot about listening for God, coming to him quietly without a lot of demands, to truly hear his voice. I always feel closest to God when I'm outside, so I headed out to look and listen.

What I found was several tiny miracles: flowers of all shapes and sizes. It probably doesn't seem like a big deal, but if you had seen my yard when we bought our house four years ago, you'd understand. It was a wasteland. Yes, there were lots of bushes and trees, but that was it. Not one bit of color anywhere besides green and brown. Even the azalea and rhododenron didn't bloom. They were covered in bugs and looked sickly.

Now, the difference probably isn't that noticeable to someone passing by our yard because my plants and flowers are young and small. But, to me, it's a rebirth! There is life and color! There are birds and butterflies! And, it has changed my whole outlook on being in our yard.

(You'll notice an overabundance of purple and pink, but purple is R's favorite color, and I've always loved purple and yellow in the garden. Most of my yellow flowers are blooming a little later.)

These flowers mean so much to me because they represent what has happened within me as well. About a year and half ago, I was terribly depressed, bitter, lonely, and just plain lost. I asked God for help because I didn't know what else to do, and everything changed. It was like flipping a switch in my mind: all of a sudden, I was hopeful and felt empowered to make myself happy. I had the energy to try again. And since then, I've been seeing God's hand in so many areas of my life. Once I knew to look, I saw him everywhere.

So, like my yard, I've got a ways to go. My faith is relatively young and untested, but it's there - giving me hope and joy, changing my outlook on every part of my life. And full of little miracles.

Overheard today

Thank you, everyone, for your very kind and thoughtful comments on my last post. You really helped lift my spirits!

During my lunch break today, I'm going to post some pictures and a longer post, but in the meantime, here's a conversation I overheard R having this morning while playing:
Pair of scissors: "Hey, where's Mommy?"
Wooden train: "'She's at work,' the daddy says."
Scissors: "No, she's not. She's at home. I'll look for her."
[Scissors look around]
Scissors: "Hmm, I guess she's not here. She must be at work right now."
*sigh* The power of guilt...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A bunch of random thoughts

I've had so many little things I wanted to write about over the last few days, but none of them amount to a very interesting topic by themselves, so I think I'll just cover them all briefly tonight. (I need to post something to start pushing my ill-fated toilet post off the page.)

Church this week
Every Saturday night and Sunday morning, I ask God to help me hear his message for me at church. And I haven't been let down yet. Sometimes, it's not the service itself or the sermon that gets me. One week, I was feeling pretty bad about myself - that I was screwing up all over the place (parenting, my job, etc.) and not doing anything very well. That Sunday morning, Pastor Henry stopped to talk to me right before the service and told me that the communion bread I had baked was wonderful and she wanted to know what I was doing differently to make it come out so good. I know it seems very silly, but hearing her say that I had done that one thing right made me feel better about everything.

This week, I definitely got my message from Pastor Goodman's sermon (ironically titled, "The Heresy Club"). His sermons are just amazing (anyone that quotes J.R.R. Tolkien and Anne Lamott wins me over) , and I know I won't be able to accurately summarize this one, but he talked about how the stories in the Bible are fantasy. He asked if any of us had seen anything like the miracles or stories described in the Bible, and of course we hadn't. But then he said that by fantasy, he means fantastical. And he said that the stories are so crazy that they must be true. That this tale of human beings struggling, failing, never measuring up, turning their backs on God, and yet being loved by God so much that he was willing to make the ultimate unjust sacrifice for them, and that in the end, love, peace, and grace prevail - that this tale is so amazing and wonderful and unlikely and irrational that it must be true. Okay, I definitely didn't capture the point very well, but I still got my message from it. That whole concept of grace has been coming up for me again and again, and Pastor Goodman's sermon helped me to understand it in a new way.

Yard work
I am so excited about my yard this year! Now that we're having the lawn treated - and the vile grubs killed - I'm much more inspired to plant things. I've been trying to buy hardy perennials that can stand up to my horrible soil, poor drainage, full sun (and full shade). This weekend, I bought day lilies, coreopsis, a butterfly bush, painted ferns, rosemary, and some other little perennial with purple flowers that I can't remember the name of now. I spent hours digging holes, lopping giant tree and bush roots out of the ground, placing plants, and watering. I'm still not quite done. We have what we think used to be a barbecue pit in the backyard, but it was grown over and full of grass and dirt. So I dug all that out, but I still need to add a bunch of garden soil to it and then plant the daylilies.

I also have one more fern to put in, but digging a hole for the first one nearly threw out my back, so I'll have to wait a few days. The shady corner where I put the other fern and my bleeding hearts is so compacted with tree and shrub roots that I don't know if it's worth it to plant anything there, but I'm giving it a try. I'm ready to hack down the juniper and yew bushes now. I hate them. They're overgrown and too tall and they prevent me from being able to plant anything else because of their roots. I mentioned my idea to A, and he was more than skeptical. So I may start by hacking one bush to bits and seeing how that goes. I know it will make me feel good to do it at least, plus I know it'll set my retired neighbors talking. :-)

I love doing this kind of work - I could spend my entire weekends working in the yard. After I dropped my plants in the ground, I prayed and asked God to watch over them. It's silly, but I don't know if I can take the heartbreak of seeing all those plants getting chewed up by squirrels and bugs.

Dissatisfaction and guilt
I was pretty crabby today, mostly because I didn't want to go to work at all. I really wanted to stay home with R. There are some days when I really resent having to be the one to work full-time; it's certainly not the life I would have chosen for myself. And I feel guilty and inadequate all the time. I feel guilty leaving R every day, even though he loves his school and A is a great stay-at-home dad two days a week. And I feel like I'm not doing anything very well - I'm overwhelmed by my job and have lost interest in it, but it tires me out so much that I end up being impatient and cranky with R at night. And then I hate myself for not being a good mom. I can't win. So I pray about it and hope that someday things will change - or that God will help me accept things the way they should be. I did start reading another Sue Monk Kidd book today, which opened with her describing her supermom syndrome and the guilt that goes with not living up to perfection, so I think I may have picked up the book at just the right time. :-)

My dad made the sinful cake I described the other day on Sunday when we visited him (I stupidly forgot the camera and couldn't capture the delicious spread on film), and we have the leftovers. So, I'm going to cut myself a big ol' piece of that baby, enjoy it, and then head upstairs to do some reading before bed. Hopefully, R won't need me to help him get back to sleep numerous times like he did last night. Poor little guy. I think he was having bad dreams. :-(

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Darkness and light

There is a lot of sadness around right now. I know that is always true, but it seems to be enveloping many people I love at the moment, and it breaks my heart. Mostly because I was in a similar place emotionally not so long ago, and I remember how hard it was to see beyond the sadness at the time. For me, there were lots of little rays of light that helped me get through it until I could find my own way back into life and happiness again. And now, my life has been transformed because of it - in a good way. But it took a long time, and it pains me to know that my loved ones will have to make the same struggle. I hope and pray that I can be one of those little rays of light for them.

And now for something completely different...

We had a great day. Of course, I say that now after having had a glass of wine, a raspberry mojito, and a delicious dinner out with our friends. Earlier, there was much groaning and Marge Simpson noises on A's and my part. We were pretty much stuck inside all day because of the rain, and that makes for a trying day with R. Although I honestly can't remember now what he did to make it so difficult. I remember A and I saying "No" a lot, but that's it. I'm sure A could fill me in, but I'd rather be left with my thoughts of R at bedtime - snuggled up against me while I read him story after story, trying desperately to pretend he wasn't sleepy.

Blessing of the day: We all slept in until 7:45 a.m.! And that was with R in our bed, which usually means I get no sleep at all because I'm being elbowed and kicked constantly. But last night/this morning was heavenly. :-)

Friday, May 18, 2007

The heat is on

I had to mark this moment in history: today is May 18, and we had to TURN THE HEAT ON. Craziness! It's only 48 degrees here today, plus it's rainy, which makes it worse. Even more momentous: A was the one who turned the thermostat up. Normally, A and I tough it out on days we work from home, plus A is never cold. Even in the wintertime, we wrap up in blankets and drink hot tea while our frozen hands poke out to type on our laptops to avoid turning the heat up when R is at school. But not today. A couldn't stand it anymore and cranked it up to 66. Ah, the joy of New England. Last week we almost hit 90. Now we're back to November weather. On the bright side, we desperately needed the rain, and now everything is very green.

What's everybody up to this weekend?

Today is R's friend's birthday, so we have her party to go to tomorrow afternoon, which will be fun. We're heading to Not Your Average Joe's for dinner with her family. On Sunday after church, we're going to visit my dad. If the weather was nice, we were going to have a picnic at a park nearby my dad's house, but it looks like we'll be inside now. That's okay. R loves my dad's apartment because the rooms are very large with very little furniture, so R can run around and do somersaults and basically entertain himself. Plus, my dad spoils all of us when we visit. He sets out the most delicious feasts - just the antipasto platter alone - with fresh veggies, marinated artichoke hearts, hard-boiled eggs, salami, several kinds of cheese, anchovies, etc. - makes A and I swoon. There's usually an amazing dinner after that. Then, he makes this absolutely sinful chocolate cake with chocolate ganache frosting. (I got him a subscription to Cook's Illustrated a couple of years ago, and he basically works his way through the recipes.) He cuts a HUGE piece for R, loads it up with ice cream and fresh strawberries, and R has enough sugar in him to stay up all night. But that's what grandparents are for, and R doesn't get to see most of his very often, so we don't mind.

I'm sure I'll post again tomorrow or Sunday, but have a wonderful weekend - God bless!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Torn 2.0

If you visited earlier today, I had a post up here called "Torn" that I decided to take down. I had written about how Phillip Yancey's book "What's So Amazing About Grace?" had made me uncomfortable in some ways (because of Yancey's admission that he had been raised a racist and that he used to joke about people who are gay), so I was going to stop reading it. I've been thinking about it all day (at work - this has not been a very productive day for me at the office), and I decided that I need to re-read the parts that upset me and give it a second chance.

So, obviously "Torn" was a good title for my post.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

God is in my belly

The other night, I was laying down with R to help him fall asleep. I started to say a prayer for him, but he interrupted me and yelled, "We forgot to sing Amazing Grace!" That used to be our bedtime routine for awhile. I'd rock him in the glider chair and sing Amazing Grace. Eventually, R learned the words and sang along with me. [I'll post another time about how amazingly this incident fits in with my reading of "What's So Amazing About Grace?" - a book that has really challenged me and inspired me on the subjects of grace and forgiveness.]

So, when I started to sing it this time, he started singing with me, but then he kept stopping to ask questions:
  • "What is sound?"

  • "What is a wrench?" (He knows what a wrench is, but he thought I was singing, "That saved a wrench like me")

  • "What is found?"

  • "What is blind?" etc.

Eventually, I started telling him about what I think the hymn means (in preschooler terms) - that God loves us so much, no matter what we do or how we feel about ourselves, his love is still there. And that he wants us to love other people just as much as he loves us.

R was quiet for a little while, and then he asked me, "But where is God?" Ah, my first major theological question from my child. So, I just told him that some people believe God is up in heaven, but that I think he's all around us - in trees and animals, in the Earth that makes things grow, beside us holding our hands, and that he's in our hearts and always with us even though we can't see him. (I did wonder for a second if the idea of some sort of "invisible man" being beside him all the time would freak R out, but he seemed OK with it.)

R's response was: "I think God is in my belly!"

Of course, that made me laugh, but I realize now that God is in my belly, too. Because I finally know in my gut that he's with me and speaking to me and working in my life. I see the evidence of it every day - in seemingly tiny ways and in bigger ways, and I'm so thankful.

Dear Lord, thank you for being with me always and for the gift of my son. I'm humbled and amazed by the responsibility of raising him. Help me to do the best job I can of helping him to be a person who readily gives and receives love. Amen.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What my toilet says about me

I got strangely inspired by Wanda's post and decided to explore what my toilet says about my life. Enjoy!

Hmmm, where to start? Well, first let me say that this is the sole toilet of a house with a three-year-old. Thus, the basket of makeshift bath toys (a gravy separator - R calls it a teapot, a baster, measuring cups, two halves of a plastic Easter egg, bath crayons, a squirty turtle, and some suction-cup/non-slip froggies). (We've spent money on other "real" bath toys, but these are R's favorites, mostly sniped from the kitchen.) The recently potty-trained three-year-old is also the reason behind the package of wipes (underneath the box of tissues), which work so much better for wiping little boy butts than even the softest toilet paper.

The other two items: the box of tissues and the Curel lotion are for me and A respectively. I have year-round allergies and require a box of tissues in nearly every room in the house. A has really dry skin and eczema, and Curel is one of the only lotions that helps him.

Before R came into our lives, the back of our toilet looked a bit different: less crowded and minus the bath toys and wipes. There were usually the tissues, Curel, and either a tiny vase of fresh flowers or a candle. When we have friends over now, I put everything in the bathtub except for the tissues and add either the flowers or candle. (For my local friends who are reading this, my secret is out! If you look behind the shower curtain, you'll see the reality!) So my toilet leads a double life, you see.

Now, on to the bigger issues. Notice how our toilet seat is white while the toilet itself is green. That is a problem for me. As is the green tub and the pink and black tiles. And the (not pictured) stained, pink wall paper with pictures of fish and treasure chests and nets. And the black electrical tape holding some of the tiles in place.

Our bathroom needs a complete overhaul, but we are lacking two things: (1) the money to do it (we've received estimates in the $15K range) and (2) the ability to go without showers or a working toilet for more than a day. A's friends have offered to come do it for us, but they would have to work on it over many weekends, and I don't think I could bear that. And, I wouldn't want to go away somewhere for the time while the work was being done because then I couldn't be around to make sure it got done correctly. So, we live with the bathroom in this state and I try not to let it bother me too much (until I took a picture of it to share with the world - LOL).

The other thing our toilet points to is the lack of space in our bathroom (storage and otherwise). I can barely get between the toilet and the bathtub to clean. And there is no storage except for the world's tiniest vanity underneath our sink, which is only inches away from the toilet as well. The previous owner of our house had hung several strange little cabinets and shelves on the walls - all different colors and shapes and at all different heights. When we bought the house, we took all those down because it made the bathroom feel incredibly claustrophobic. It feels a lot bigger now, so I'm afraid to add shelves back onto the walls.

Despite all this, my toilet is clean! Do you see the reflection of the seat in the tank? At least I can take pride in that! :-)

To sum up, my toilet is indicative of my current life: in need of some TLC and organization, but there's no hurry. Now is the time for playing with toys and cleaning up little messes and wiping noses and finding joy in simple things. It's the time for having fun without spending a lot of money. And, it's the time for not worrying about how something looks to other people because I know it's clean and I've got far too little time as it is to spend with one perfect, sweet, funny, little boy who thinks I'm the most wonderful woman on Earth. :-)

Now, what does your toilet say about you? ;-)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Brimfield - What we bought

We had such a great time at Brimfield on Saturday. As you can see, we didn't buy much, but that's OK. There's another one in July! :-) We got three Nescafe globe mugs (for A), a vintage egg beater (R actually asked for this, which was fine with me because I love the red-handled vintage kitchen stuff), and R bought a little $1 bag that contained a squishy lizard flashlight, a tiny car, and red kids' scissors.

R was really interested in everything: he picked up a lot of things (including glass), but he was gentle and the vendors were so nice to him. No one got upset about a three-year-old boy handling their wares. In fact, we discovered that bringing him along was very advantageous! One woman gave him a chocolate chip cookie, and the man that we bought the mugs and the egg beater from gave us an extra mug for free so that R could have one, too. I was afraid that R would be bored or too crazy, but he really explored all the tents, kept his eye out for toy trains and fire trucks, and then asked to go back to a certain tent later (the "one with the vehicles"). So, I think we've got a little antiquer on our hands! :-)

We wanted to spend more time, but R was practically falling asleep while walking. I saw a great whirligig, a lot of console tables, and an ironstone pitcher that I wanted. A saw an antique coffee grinder that was gorgeous, but was going for way more money than we brought with us. He also found a tent that only sold antique chocolate molds - thousands of them. I didn't think I was going to get him out of that tent. (A is trying to start his own fine chocolates business.) R found an antique toy train with a price tag of $925. Sorry, honey! :-(

It was a great start to the Mother's Day weekend.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day 2007

Today couldn't have been any more perfect! First of all, the weather was incredible: sunny, in the 60s, bright blue sky, with a cool breeze. After church, I came home to a tiny box of chocolate mice from L.A. Burdick's and a card decorated by R, and A made us our usual Sunday pancakes (mine with chocolate sauce) and bacon. Then we headed to Drumlin Farm for the morning. It was exactly what I wanted to do. We went hiking on some of the trails and found this clearing at the top of a hill. There was an incredible view from there of miles and miles of trees and Mount Wachusett, without any signs of highways or houses or civilization. Breathtaking. A and R climbed up a huge rock. We took the trails back to the farm to check out some of the animals.

Last year, R didn't pay much attention to any of the animals, but this time he was intrigued. We spent a lot of time looking at the birds - a crow, pheasant, turkey vulture, several hawks, and then the owls. I tried not to react too much when we discovered that it was lunchtime for the birds -- a few of them were tearing, shredding, and eating mice and rats. R just wanted to know what they were doing; he didn't seem scared or grossed out by it at all. He wasn't as thrilled by the farm animals. The lambs and kids were running around the pastures, and that freaked him out a little bit. I had to reassure him that the animals were behind fences and couldn't get out. He loved the tractor/hay ride.

We headed home, had popsicles outside, then I read him a story and put him down for a nap. I also put me down for a nap because he insisted that I sleep with him, and my "just for a minute" became two hours when I dozed off. But I can't think of anything nicer to do on Mother's Day than snuggle with my precious boy. :-)

In the afternoon, we went to a local nursery to pick up some perennials. I got two echinacea/coneflower plants for the back yard and two bleeding hearts for the front yard. (We'll see how they do. Between the lawn grubs and the roots from all of our bushes, it's very difficult for anything to grow in our yard, as I've discovered through heartbreak and frustration. The lawn grubs will soon be history, though, as we finally decided to have someone treat our lawn. *sigh* I hate chemicals, but our lawn really is horrible and it's only going to get worse.) Anyway, I'm so impressed and excited by R and how much interest he has in the things that interest A and me. Yesterday, he was fantastic at the antiques show (more on that tomorrow), and today he was exploring all the different plants and asking questions about them. When we got home, we played trains for awhile in his room and painted a wooden birdhouse, but then he helped me plant the echinacea. We dug the holes together, placed the plants, threw the dirt back in, and watered the plants. It makes me so happy to do these things with him.

Meanwhile, A had fired up the grill and made us a delicious dinner of grilled venison, corn on the cob, and roasted potatoes and broccoli. I am so lucky to be married to someone who went to cooking school! Our meal sounds simple, but A makes the most incredible meat rubs, and he doused the potatoes and broccoli with olive oil, a little butter, and herbs from our garden last year. And, miracle of miracles, we got R to try the potatoes! (He has never liked potatoes, except in the greasy french fry variety.) He took a few bites and admitted he liked it, but said he was all done. Hey, we were thrilled because he at least tried it, which has been such a struggle in recent months.

After dinner, R alternated between strumming his guitar and blowing on his flute, and then we had a lovely all-family tickle fight.

Thank you, Lord, for this amazing day! Thank you for my boys and for the time we have to spend together. Thank you that there are still places left where we can just see the Earth's beauty without evidence of our mark on it. Bless all the moms in my life, especially Mom - who has taught me everything about love - and Johanna - who manages to laugh and have fun with her boys even in the most challenging and stressful times. Amen.

Friday, May 11, 2007


This is R climbing on the rope ladder at the playground. This year, he can do it all by himself (and scare the pants off me)!

I really love taking pictures of R holding hands with someone and walking. This is R and my mom. This day was extra exciting because not only did we go to the park to fly kites, but we saw STREET SWEEPERS in action! If you squint, you can see them at the very top of the street.

My mom made these "space" cakes for R's birthday. She kept apologizing for them, but I LOVED them and so did R. If you can't figure them out, there's a space shuttle, Earth, Jupiter, and the moon.

Another holding hands picture. These are my boys. I thank God every day for them. (Silly Mom note: R's ears don't really stick out like that - the hat is too big and is pushing them outwards.)


Me, my mom, and R. (Again with the ears.) This picture is starting to become a tradition because we take one of the three of us each year when Mom comes up to visit from Florida. I miss her so much! (P.S. No, I am not pregnant, although it sure looks it!)

This was for R's real birthday (his big party was the day before). He was really good at blowing out the candles, especially given that the tall ones were trick sparklers!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A few days off

I took a few days' break from the computer at night. Sometimes I just don't feel like lugging my laptop home from work - mainly because it means my work day never ends. On Tuesday night, I fell asleep at 10:15 and woke up at 6 a.m. I was still in my own bed and I never had to get up to go to R's room - it was lovely! (Not that I mind comforting him or snuggling him, but getting up three times a night every night doesn't make for a good night's sleep.) Last night was my night alone with R, so after I finally got him to bed, I just relaxed on the couch, wrote his birthday thank-you notes, and chatted with A later when he got home.

We're going to try to go to the Brimfield Antique show this weekend. A and I used to go every year before R was born. The show is HUGE - we've never made it through the whole thing. We usually don't get further than one section, and there are TONS of sections. It's a lot of fun because there is so much variety - antiques, junk, handmade furniture, quilts, garden decorations, really everything you can think of - and the people are very friendly and funny. A tries to find ancient coins and vintage children's books, while I look for funky, small pieces of furniture, old kitchen stuff (my favorite find was an old percolator coffee pot that was white enamel trimmed in red), and plates matching my grandmother's old set. One year, we found a very cool rocketship cast iron bank. And, another year, we stupidly passed up buying an antique oak Hoosier cabinet that was in beautiful shape and priced ridiculously low. But we didn't have a vehicle big enough to get it home at the time and didn't feel like renting a truck.

We're trying to decide if we're just plain insane for trying to bring R to it this year. He'll get plenty of exercise from walking around, but he'll probably want to touch everything. But we'll go for a little while, and if he gets nutty, we'll just head home. And he'll probably end up saving us a lot of money because we won't have as much freedom to browse! :-) Either way, it's supposed to be a beautiful day on Saturday, so it'll be nice to be together outside.

Dear Lord: Thank you for helping me get through this challenging week at work. Thank you for the tiny green leaves on my clematis plants. Thank you for A and R and for making me a wife and mother. And thank you for new friends! Amen.

Kristen needs...

Here's my list from the tag that's going around where you do a Google search for your name + needs. I think I may have cheated slightly because some of the ones that came up were so boring, I skipped over them.

Kristen needs to re-think the top
LOL - I think that could be said of ALL of my clothes.

Kristen needs a new connection
This one was about needing a faster Internet connection, and mine is just fine. But I did make a new connection/acquaintance at work this week, which was really nice.

Kristen needs to lay her egg
Ummm, lay the what now?

Kristen needs to watch it again, she must not be thinking of the right movie
No way. I'm very good with movie details. Books - not so much - because I tend to read too fast when I like a book and then I miss a lot.

Kristen needs to notify the billing companies in writing that she wants the billing to be stopped
Excellent advice. If I write my mortgage company and ask them to stop billing me, will they just give me the house?

Kristen needs to wash her socks because she will need them on Sunday morning
Gotta have clean socks for church! :-)

Kristen needs to write everything down
It's true. I used to be so organized until I became a mom. Now, if I don't write it down, it probably won't happen.

Kristen needs volunteers to work all day or in 1.5 hour shifts
Yes, please! If there are any volunteers who enjoy dusting, mopping, pulling weeds, and putting toys away, I've got just the job for you!

Kristen needs more balance in her life
I struggle with this every single day. Working full-time and being a mom is just plain hard, but I do the best I can.

I saved the best for last...

Kristen needs some TLC, mostly in the form of a new wig as her hair is gnarled and it appears to have been cut
LOL! I completely agree. My hair is a mess! It looked great for the first day after I got it cut last weekend, but now I'm responsible for styling it, which means it just air dries, gets frizzy, and hangs there. (OK, so this is from an eBay listing for a doll, but it definitely applies!)

Sunday, May 6, 2007


I should know better than to pre-judge anything or anyone. The dinner and lecture last night were really enjoyable! Everyone was so nice and very interesting. It wasn't snooty at all. Just lots of smart people with lots of fascinating stories to tell. The food was good, too. It wasn't much of a date because A and I both ended up talking to other people more than each other, but that's okay.

Today was a bit of a challenge. Church was great, which definitely helped me stay sane the rest of the day. We met our friends for breakfast at the diner around the corner, and R was very squirmy. He needed to be outside and to run and climb (we did that afterwards). I can deal with the squirminess, and I expect it. But when will this boy stop throwing food? He doesn't just throw it - he mashes it up between his hands and crumbles it into tiny pieces that go everywhere. It drives me insane. Hmm - that's probably why he does it, isn't it? :-)

The food is what makes me nuts, but R has been throwing everything lately. Sand from the sandbox, water in the bathtub, sidewalk chalk, toys, etc. And, he dumps things out for no reason - the container of bubbles, his milk/juice/water. Is this just what boys do? Is it a stage?

I hate being a cranky mommy. I hate saying "No" all day long, and I'm sure it's no fun for R either. I try to pick my battles with him so that his life isn't just about what he can't do. And I call on God to grant me patience a lot.

Of course, I try to be positive and call attention to his good behavior and have fun with him as much as possible. Today, he put his shoes on all by himself and tried very hard to do his socks as well, he made up a song about the "sock fuzz" between his toes, and he wiped up a spill on the table. Together, he and I laid on our backs in the backyard to look at the sky, we started digging a new flower bed and found an earthworm and talked about what it eats, and we listened to a woodpecker's tapping. When we were kicking a ball around the backyard, R stopped and announced, "Actually, we need to rake now" and then he went to get his rake out of the shed and started raking the dead grass out of the lawn. We played with Colorforms (thank you, Ericka!) and went to the park. And, at naptime, R wanted me to sleep with him so I laid down next to him for "just a minute." I woke up an hour later (I guess I needed a nap, too!) and spent awhile just watching him sleep, with his beloved purple flashlight tucked under one arm and his plastic hammer tucked under the other. :-)

Wow - just writing all that made me feel better!

On another note, my church is encouraging us to read "What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Philip Yancey. I bought it today and started it tonight. So far, I like it very much. I also need to do research tonight on composting because I'm not 100% clear on what things should and shouldn't go into a compost pile. The soil in our yard desperately needs some help, so I've been wanting to start composting for awhile. Plus, I really like the idea of producing less garbage for the landfill/incinerator. And, I need to start writing thank-you notes for R's birthday - ack!

Thank you, Lord, for helping me focus on the good in my life - and for granting me patience to get through every day. Help me to raise R to be a good, loving person who doesn't throw food. :-)

Friday, May 4, 2007

A date, of sorts

A. and I are going out to dinner tomorrow night. Well, a dinner held by a snooty ancient coin club (snooty because you have to be invited to join the club - we're only allowed to come to the dinner because we're paying), with an accompanying lecture. I'm not sure how/why I agreed to go to this with A., but hey, it's our first night out in over a year, I think. (Ack!) It's not for lack of trying. We've planned several dates over the last few months, but something always comes up either for us or for our babysitters. I don't know what the heck I'm going to wear, but I did manage to squeak in a hair appointment, so at least my hair will look good. The rest of me will look tired and frumpy as usual. :-)

I try not to focus on my appearance too much, but I do wonder sometimes what has happened to me. When my mom was my age with three little kids, she was GORGEOUS. Long, shiny brown hair, perfect skin, curvy in all the right places. The pictures of my grandma from her 30s are like that, too. She was a babe! On the other hand, I seem to be deteoriating year by year. My skin is a mess, my hair is a giant blah, and I never lost all my pregnancy weight. I look unwell most of the time. I keep thinking that when things calm down, when R. is older, when I have more time to eat right and exercise, I'll recapture my healthy beauty. But what if that day never comes? Will I just not care at some point? I don't even have time to do my makeup in the morning without R. hanging all over me and grabbing everything. And, forget my clothes: everything I own is stained or torn or doesn't fit correctly. If I do put something on that's clean and in good shape, before I walk out the door, it's a mess from a certain three-year-old using me as a human napkin.

I'm only partly upset by all of this (despite what I just wrote). I actually love wearing my stained clothes - just like I never minded having spit-up or breastmilk stains on my shirts - because to me it says, I'm a Mom. And that's all I've ever wanted in life. I'm happy that I don't spend gobs of money on clothes anymore. I don't miss spending hours shopping because my time is so much more precious now, and I just want to spend it with A. and R. Yes, it is nice once in awhile to have a day to myself - or even 10 minutes for a shower without someone busting into the bathroom. But I don't have time anymore to spend poring over my face and makeup or fixing my hair, so I forget that I don't look my best, which means it doesn't bother me (most of the time - I am human after all). I find myself saying "Oh well!" a lot when I look in the mirror. And that's okay.

Of course, my boys always make me feel better. One day last fall, I was looking at myself in the mirror and lamenting. R. asked me, "What's wrong, Mommy?" I told him that my face was a mess. And he said, "It's not a mess, Mommy, it's beautiful!"

Thank you, Lord, for A. and R. who think I'm beautiful no matter what. Amen.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Bells and whistles

This morning, as I got ready for work, I heard a church bell ringing out the time at 7:00. It was the first time I've heard it before, and I've lived in this house and this part of town for more than four years now. And I'm always up at that time every day, except for occasional weekends when R. sleeps late. It made me wonder: How many times have I missed hearing it before? And, what other things am I missing?

It made me think about how many times God may have been trying to show or tell me something when I've missed it. I'm sure it's a lot. The times I have noticed - the messages have been powerful, yet subtle.

Just this past Sunday I heard him talking to me. It was the first time when I've woken up and really didn't feel like going to church (in the 7 months I've been going regularly). I felt sad, and tired of going to church by myself. I was being down on myself for being quiet and not the kind of person who can easily make friends and conversation. I felt really alone. Like no one would even notice if I didn't show up to church since I don't really know anyone there yet. And, I was torn about going to the "Holy Conversations" thing in the afternoon that I had signed up for because it meant time away from R. So I wasn't in the best mood.

I couldn't pay attention during the sermon, and the hymns were mostly unfamiliar. So I wasn't getting a lot of comfort from the service. Tears came to my eyes when I was walking up to the altar for communion. But then, the first thing happened. Here I was feeling sorry for myself when I noticed a woman across the way who looked about as down as I did. She comes every week, too, mostly by herself. Once in awhile, her children and husband come with her. And who knows? Maybe she wasn't sad and maybe she isn't bothered by coming by herself most weeks, but it got me out of my funk for a few minutes thinking that just possibly someone else there felt like I did that morning.

When the service was over, I was still feeling down, though, and pulled on my jacket and started heading out. I was walking toward the exit when I heard someone say, "Kris!" I turned around, and there was the very nice couple who I met on my first visit to St. Paul's. The woman asked if I had had a nice visit with my mom. (I had introduced them to my mom the week before when she came with me to church.) We chatted for a minute, and then I just said, "Thank you!" before heading out again. I know it's not a burning bush kind of sign (or neon sign like Tourette's Mom's), but it worked for me. I am so thankful for those little signs where God reminds me that I mean something. I even told A. about it when I got home, and he was touched.

I wonder if I'd even notice a big sign if God gave me one. Maybe there have been times when he's been on the side of the road or sitting across from me on the T or standing beside my bed, waving his arms around, and yelling, "Hey, Kristen!!! Look over here! Listen to what I'm trying to tell you! Don't date that guy/don't drive so fast/put down the ice cream/listen to your mother/you can't afford that/keep your mouth shut/etc.! Helllooooooo!" It makes me laugh to think about that, partly because I imagine God getting frustrated and exasperated with my inattention and storming off to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to reach me, all of which means that he loves me. :-)


Today was a beautiful day here - another in the high 60s with sunshine and puffy clouds and loveliness. R. and A. had a great day together - they visited three different playgrounds! And my day at work was pretty good, too - in that it wasn't extremely stressful and I actually got something done.

I've been reading a book I bought by Barbara Brown Taylor - Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, which I'm really enjoying. After that, I've got another book by Sue Monk Kidd waiting for me.

This weekend, I'm going to work on getting some more pictures up here!