Showing posts from March, 2009

Things never turn out quite as expected

Last week I announced that I would be abstaining from the internet in order to better notice the transitions in our home and reset some routines. Monday went really well, I realized that the key times for us are during the mornings before and during school, and after dinner during the bed time routines. Those times need close attention, others, not so much. Also, if I shut down Firefox before I go to bed, I'm likely to not come back to do just one more thing, and it's easier to wait until after lunch to check my email. Then the rest of the week happened. We had guests for dinner every single night, except Friday when we went to a big family dinner. I had a project that had to be done, and I ended up staying up until 3am several nights in a row in order to finish it. Friday night I brought the kids home late and put them to bed so the GH could hang out with his brothers, ALL of whom were together for the first time in years. He stayed at his parent's house. By Saturday m

Not Very Glamourous

I think it's a good thing that I came to terms with the day to day drudgery of motherhood before I took on this huge undertaking of launching and administrating a nonprofit organization. Because it's not much different. It sounds exciting. I get to say things like, "I administrate a non-profit organization that helps orphans and refugees that escaped from the brutal military regime and organized genocide of the Burmese government." That's a sentence that makes me sound like a really awesome person doing something really super important and exciting. Guess what? It is really super important. The work I do day in and day out could save many lives. But exciting? Not usually. I spend a lot of time writing copy for the website and promotional materials. I email people asking them to help or support us. I write business proposals and fill out forms for lawyers. I correspond with the book keeper, I mail out receipts. In essence, it's a ton of hard, hard work, mo

1000 Gifts-Week 22 (The gift of water)

"Good afternoon ma'am. It really is getting to be a warm afternoon out here. My name is Bob, I'm from the Sparklett's Water Company, and this is my partner...oh my look at those beautiful faces." My children are peeking around me out the door. "Yes they are," I murmur before he continues. "Well considering the current economic situation Sparklett's has changed all their prices to way lower than they used to be. Do you drink tap water ma'am." "Yes we do. Most of the world wishes they had our tap water." Bob chuckles in surprise. "I really like your perspective." He doesn't know what to say next. I've thrown him completely off script. So I say, "My husband and I started a non-profit organization to help Burmese refugee communities in northern Thailand, and one of our most pressing concerns is to figure out how to filter chemical pesticides out of drinking water. We live in a first world country, wit

the image of a woman

I'm not much closer to this ideal than I was two years ago when I first posted this. If anything I have become less aware and less diligent in a few areas. (Well, I'm better at showing love to the GH.) Perhaps I'm simply posting it to remind myself. How I conduct myself at home matters . It matters a lot. ************************ I have an audience. Well, I've had an audience for the past 5 or so years but I usually don't notice them, until they play back my performances for me; the highlights and the low lights. I see myself in the way they get impatient over silly things, or boss each other around. I see myself also in the way they have a large vocabulary and make silly faces and sing what they want to say. (Yes, I often sing instead of talk, they think it's hilarious, and it helps me to not yell everything I say.) The Genius Husband is out of town for several days for work. So this Shabbat was a potentially lonely affair as Beema's house was not an op

Things That Make Me Happy, and Sad.

Whenever my kids have to give someone a gift their first thought is to go through their own toys and treasures and choose something to give away. It's always one of their favorite things. And there are very few people in our culture who would appreciate such a gift, or understand it's value, instead thinking us cheap and ungenerous. But to supplement their gift somehow, with something "better" cheapens in their own eyes the value of their extravagant generosity. It tells them that their sacrifice isn't good enough. I don't know yet how to deal with this one. ************* Moving. I enjoy the act of purging that a move requires, especially the reckless shedding of stuff I would otherwise hold onto. And I enjoy the anticipation of the new places and new adventures. I always start looking around the home we are leaving and feeling grief at leaving the place where so many things happened; the hallway where Little first walked, the pool where the Boy first sw

Casting Stones and Becoming Lighter

I thought it would be appropriate to repost this from a couple of years ago. Especially since my dad was just here, and our relationship is much improved in the past few years, most especially my perspective on who he is. Also because it's Lent, and I just wrote about the similarities I find between Lent and the high holy days prior to Yom Kippur, which is when I wrote this. One of the activities that go on during the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is to make things right with people, along with prayer and good deeds, and taschliche (To cast.) We take stones to the sea or to moving water that flows to the sea, and we cast them into it. The stones have our sins written on them, sometimes literally, often figuratively, and we throw them away into deep fast moving water from which we cannot retrieve them. We throw away the things we are sorry for, the things we did wrong and want to make right, the habits that we find hard to escape and slip right back into the nex

In absentia

I'll not be using my computer this week. Except once a day to keep up on email, and maybe a few other times if I can't avoid work. You won't notice really, I have posts automatically scheduled to publish. Some I just wrote, some are favorites from the archives. It's time for a reset in my home. It's time to change, tweak, rearrange and alter the bits of life, and the order they string together in, so they do us all the most good. I'm finding it hard to be conscious of the transitions, those little moments that are built into my day and take me from one activity to the next without thinking. I've realized that it's because almost every transition has attached to it a return to my desk, to check email, to type something I've just thought of, to nurse Little while reading blogs. I can't notice and repair the transitions that are faltering when I am so habitually ignoring them by being online. So, the reset begins. I'm wiping the memory of old

1000 Gifts-Week 21

The girl likes to make lunch these days. It's worth cleaning up all the peanut butter and honey glops to see the pride on her face as she brings lunch to the table. Beautiful weather. The kind where the breeze smells sun warmed and the birds won't stop singing or nesting, and it all smells so green. Apparently I am the only person who is aware of my complete and utter failure on so many personal levels. Perhaps I am exaggerating the level to which which suck in my own mind? Seriously, there is nothing like feeling the day has been nothing but an endless string of blunders and having the GH smile at me at the end of the day and tell me I'm doing a really good job. Our friend Eric who made the nifty new sponsor a child widget in my sidebar. Feel free to get it for yourself and post it everywhere. That my worst difficulty so far in raising/educating the Boy is that he understands all of his math, but he's too bored with the work to concentrate long enough to fin

Open Letter to the Dad at a Little Girl's Birthday Party.

Do you know how much of a heel you make yourself when you, an unemployed dad, mock your wife, who works full time to support you, puts hours into launching a home business on the side so she can stay home with her children while continuing to support you, and is exactly 3 months postpartum, for eating what everyone else is eating because you think she is eating too much and should be losing the weight faster than she already is? I guess not, because you would not stop, and it made everyone distinctly uncomfortable. And then, when you were done with that you would NOT. SHUT. UP. about how BORING it is to watch little kids all the time. You have not had a steady job in 3 years. I hardly think you can blame that track record on the economy. If you hate watching kids so much, shut up, grow a pair, actually look for a job for a change, and support your family so your wife can stay home with the children she loves and take care of them. It's one thing if you two have agreed on this ar


As we drive along in the car the kids are playing in the back seat with the Girl's dolls. Girl:This one is Hannah, and this one is Ariel. Boy, as he holds the boy doll: What's my name? You haven't given me a name yet. Girl: You can choose any name you want. Boy: No. I want you to give me a name. Girl: Okay then, you can be Jack, because that's short for Jackson Rod Stewart. Boy: NOOO! I don't want to be Jackson Rod Stewart. I just want to be Jack. Girl: Okay then. Jackson Rod Stewart can be his last name. Boy: Yeah, and I can be can just be Jackson.

These cool people came to our church this week. They started this thing called two shirts . It comes from that place in the Bible that says, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” (Luke 3:11) Simple enough right? Two shirts is a place where you can give your extra stuff to someone who needs it in your city. Here is the mission statement from their website. Our Mission & Values Our mission is to connect people, groups, and communities in relationships of generosity. By sharing our resources, and by forming local groups committed to activism and outreach, we will help meet each other's needs in order to live a better life, in a better community. We are driven by a passion for three values: Equality: Our goal is to promote a more just and equitable community by generously giving to those who have needs, and by freely receiving from others who can meet our needs. Relationships: Market-driven communit

Things you never think you will hear yourself say...

...until you become a parent. To Little sitting on the potty and wiping her own bum for the very first time. "No, no, no, no, no, honey. We don't wipe our neck with the pee covered toilet paper. You don't need to wipe your neck off, put it in the toilet." Little:[indignant screaming that expresses her assurance she is doing it correctly and I am cruel for preventing her.]


At the gas station. Boy, out the window to his dad, who can't hear him, "Daddy. you. are. a. BOOGER!" To Girl. "Was that cool?" Girl, in a bored, matter of fact tone, "Yeah, you said 'you are a booger'." I have a feeling I already know what the teen years are going to look like.

1000 Gifts-Week 20

The last few days have reminded me how truly blessed I am to be married to the Guy I am married to. I've been around men who make fun of their wives, who work full time to support them and their children while they do nothing, a neighbor's alcoholic husband was arrested for identity theft because he pretended to be someone else to get out of a traffic ticket. I suppose compared to these sleazeballs it's not hard to be a better husband, so perhaps I don't flatter him that much, but I'm grateful he's so unlike them nonetheless. Then there us the woman who spoke to me on the weekend who confided that in her 16 year first marriage she never once had a pleasurable reaction to sex. She didn't even know it was possible. Again, I'm grateful that my husband is nothing like hers. usually the things I notice aren't framed by such negative connotations. But sometimes it takes that for me to stop and consider what great gifts are right in front of me. And always

7 Quick Takes (Episode 4?)

1.)I've been thinking about why a person's self esteem seems to plummet when their weight goes up. Perhaps I am thinking about it because when I wasn't looking I gained at least 10 pounds, in each thigh. At least, that's what it feels like. Getting dressed is depressing. I can still get my pants done up, but they don't look so cute right now, and they aren't that comfortable anymore either. Buying pants in bigger sizes is, well, defeating, not to mention impossible since they are all skinny in the thighs, and by the time I find a pair that don't feel too tight in the thigh area, the waist is hanging below my bottom. I'm inclined to just give up and wear my yoga pants every day until I've got my old body back. Which I am working on BTW. With the exception of honey in my tea to soothe my throat, I've not had any sugar since Ash Wednesday. [Yes, it's a Lent thing. See #2] Here's why I think that a person's self esteem is affected by

How to Get Through the Hard Times Together

That's the title of my post, over at Wedded Bliss today. I quite like the pictures in it, so go check it out. ps. Thanks for all the cleaning tips yesterday, I have yet to try them but I'll let you know how it works out.

Elbow Grease Isn't Cutting It.

The Girl's latest passion is hearts. She draws heart shapes, she cuts out heart shapes, she colors heart shapes. So many hearts have we around here that even Little will point out a heart to me and exclaim, "Howt mama, howt." So I knew exactly who it was that took a ball point pen and doodled multiple hearts on the table bench this morning while I was in the shower. As part of her consequences she had to clean it up. She had to get it all clean before she was allowed to paint. Oh did she ever want to paint. I left her with some vinegar and a scrubby sponge, hoping that since vinegar works so well to get pen off of skin it might have similar effect on weathered paint. She told me a little while later that soap was working. It was very quiet, and that should have alerted me. Three hours, 1/4 of a bottle of dish soap, a sodden floor, several soaking wet rags, and the determined use of a scrub brush later, the bench is cleaner than it has ever been. It literally gleams. Sh


One of my absolute favorite things about being a mom is this. That moment, when a child cries out in their sleep. They are crying and yelling and kicking around and I lay down next to them, and whisper, "It's ok, mama's here", into their ear while caressing their cheek or their hair, and in a few moments the tension leaves their body, their breathing slows, and they heave a soft little sigh of relief before burrowing deeper into their pillow and going all the way back into a deep sleep. That moment is priceless. To know that for that child, right then, knowing that I am nearby is all that matters. Of course, there are often times when a mother soothes her child to sleep, only to lie wide awake herself, full of fear, and worry, and doubt. Just the monumental realization that she is so important to such a small treasure like her child is often enough to do it. How will she keep her child safe, as he trusts her to, in a world so full of turmoil and uncertainty? Who will

1000 Gifts-Week 19

Last week my husband was gone for 4 days, visiting his brother. That left me at home by myself with 3 sick children. And you know what? It wasn't all that bad. We were fine, I was fine. A little stressed out by bedtime on Saturday night, especially at the thought of losing an hour in the morning, but I would probably have been that way even if he were home. Once this would have been too much for me. I'm glad that the years have strengthened me, that I can manage things I couldn't before with ease. Over all I've found my children entirely delightful this week. Which is reflected in this week's list of things I consider gifts. Laying next to Little in the dark with my nose pressed against her warm head, breathing in the scent of her soft hair. The Girl's grinning freckled face as she gets out of the bath. Kisses at bedtime. The, unimaginable for so many people, bounty of needing to figure out what to do with leftovers. A supportive and loving extended family clos

What high school didn't teach me.

I got a forward a few weeks ago from an old friend. It was a request from an alumni association at the high school I graduated from. They are looking for brilliant stories from former graduates to inspire future graduates to join their program. Since I was in a fancy pants honor program called International Baccalaureate, they are expecting very brilliant stories. [As an aside, in case you didn't know before I have just revealed that I was a total nerd in high school.] For example, one of my fellow classmates, is now doing something really brainy in the field of astrophysics somewhere in England last I heard. Here is their letter. Former IBer's We are currently putting together a few short biographies of past IB Students here at Thurber to use in recruiting presentations (a sort of 'Brag Book" if you like. I was wondering if you would be willing to email me a few short lines according to the following headings: Where did you go to university/college? What degrees/

Some words I wrote once are in an actual real book!

Of course, most of the words in that book come from Mary Ostyn, writer of one of my favorite blogs, Owlhaven . Mary is mom to 10 kids, just married off her eldest daughter, just published her first book, and I hear is almost finished with the second already. What is the book called you ask? The Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family , which she seems qualified to write don't you think? Not only does it have advice specific to large families, but also lots of wisdom that a parent of any number will find helpful. It also contains the story of their journey to add 6 children to their family through international adoption. And some words I wrote are in it, which makes it extra cool. [kidding] Mary is giving away one free copy a week for the next 4 weeks. Go here to find out how to win a copy of your very own.

I AM Marilla Cuthbert

In Anne of Green Gables , Marilla Cuthbert is often the enemy. At least that's how she appeared to me in all of my readings as a child. Her severe, dour outlook was in direct opposition to the romantic Anne's impulsiveness and flights of fancy. When Matthew shows up with Anne in his cart she purses her lips and says, "We were supposed to get a boy, to help you with your work." Ever practical she refuses to make Anne a dress with puffed sleeves, seeing the fashion for what it is, ridiculous, frivolous and silly. My childhood heart would long for Anne to get her puffed sleeves, cheered for Matthew when he bought a dress in secret, and chafed alongside her at all of the severe restrictions Marilla placed on her girlhood freedom. Now I am the mother of little girls. I often refuse to get them things that they long for as we walk through the store because it's either ridiculous, frivolous or silly. I am exasperated with their endless foolishness, especially when the

1000 Gifts-Week 18

We spent some time at the beach with our friends from out of town this week. There are some really nice beaches around here. It's always fun to go and explore again and show people around who haven't been there before. It was a long exhausting day, but we enjoyed all of it. At low tide there were some spectacular clear tide pools, full of interesting things to look at. My pictures of tide pools never turn out but I take them anyway. At one point we were all very close to a baby sea lion. It's mother was up on a rock, but the baby couldn't get to her because it was low tide. So it kept swimming around below the rock, and the mother kept barking, and it was all very tragic. Except the tide was coming in and soon the mother seal would be able to reach the water, and the baby seal would be able to reach the rock, and all would be well again. I found myself thinking how many of my dramas are easily resolved with the passing of a little time, and the exercise of a little pati


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