Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Romantic Date

Here is the summary of my romantic date with my husband.

As soon as the sitter arrived, we left the children in her charge so we could enjoy each other's company for a few uninterrupted hours.

First stop, a tiny cafe that was just about to close. I had a cup of decaf and he had 2 cookies. You gotta know my husband - he does NOT drink coffee. I have tried just about everything to get this man to enjoy coffee, but to no avail. I have tried loads of sugar - just the way he likes his tea - but he could still taste the coffee. Flavored creamers don't do it for him. I've even kissed him with coffee-flavored breath. . . nothing. I've always been slightly insulted that my father could get him to drink light beer, which he swore he would never do. But in 12 years of marriage, I have not been able to enjoy a single cup of coffee with him. This has been a great sadness for me since coffee is so social for me. I leap for joy when our home is graced with a coffee drinker, for then I can brew an entire pot and look forward to that relaxed discourse that only coffee can foster.

But I digress. The date. My husband and I were able to talk a good bit about things that we had been meaning to get to. After coffee 'n cookies, we walked over to the pharmacy to get a few needed items. Then I had to pick up a pencil sharpener for school. Then a photo print cartridge.

Have you figured out yet that our wonderful date was at none other than MEIJER?! Woohoo! (Meijer is like a WalMart Supercenter - grocery and every other department conceivable under one 180,000 square foot roof, the epitome of commercialism, catering to unbridled lust for material goods.. . . . you get the picture.)

I love Meijer. However, it's not typically the place we would choose for a date. But this wasn't necessarily a date. We just happened to have a free night and Al suggested we go out for "coffee" (which in his vocabulary means "cookies"). So we got a sitter, but being that we had NO bread, NO eggs, NO milk, NO cereal, and NO cheese (basically NO food whatsoever) in the house, our choices for the coffee date were pretty much narrowed down to the one place where we could sit down and have a cup of coffee AND get the lowest price in town on toilet paper.

I personally enjoy shopping with my husband. I enjoy going anywhere with him. I love him and I don't spend nearly enough time with him. I am reminded of the 80's brat pack movie "Pretty In Pink" where Blaine (the rich guy) and Andie (the poor girl) are sitting in the stable at his swank country club, and he says to her, "If I were in a Turkish prison, I'd have a great time with you." That's how I feel about Al.

I don't necessarily think he feels the same way. I mean, of course he loves me, but I'm pretty sure next time he's going to decide where we go for a date.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I'm sure there must be some unwritten rule: whenever you decide to wash all the snowpants, hats, mittens, and scarves, it WILL snow again! About 2 weeks ago, I put most of my children's snow clothes in the laundry bins. I decide not to wash them right away, JUST IN CASE it dared to snow again. However I am not a complete fool - I left out one pair of mittens and one hat for each child.

Yesterday, being the eternal optimist, thinking spring had indeed finally arrived and there would be NO more use for snowpants, I washed the load of winter wear. And what happened overnight??? A lovely coating of snow. And it's 20 degrees outside. On March 30.

Yes, I know March 30 isn't too late for snow. And don't ask me silly questions like "Did you check the forecast?" Of course I did (not)! I just happen to have an internal barometer and I could sense that spring had really arrived.

Maybe my barometer is broken.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Lying in bed with a migraine, having my family and friends wait on me hand and foot, led me to think seriously about one thing: if I'm ever bed-ridden, unconscious for several days, or in a coma, I really hope someone will pluck my facial hair. Good grief, I emerged from my migraine with a veritable beard. Uggh.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dreams DO Come True

Prepare to be amazed. And prepare to hear some serious bragging about my children!

Yesterday when I told the children I was going back to bed because I had a migraine, I fully expected that they would simply put in a movie or go out and play in the back yard. I called my husband at work to see if there was any way that he could come home early because I knew I would be out of commission for the whole day. I mean, I knew I could still function in case of an emergency, but the children were pretty much going to have to fend for themselves.

But what happened over the next several hours was nothing short of astounding. And I promise you, I am not embellishing any of this. My children rose to the occasion and completely took over. They cleaned up breakfast, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher and started it. They took out all the trash in the house. Faith cleaned up the entire living room by herself. Evan got me a cold wash cloth to put on my head, a cold cup of water, and he brought me some yogurt with a spoon when I told him I was hungry. Hope helped Evan get dressed and swept the floors. Joy made grilled cheese for lunch for everyone and served me in bed. Hope came in and collected all the dishes after I was done eating, and they all cleaned up lunch too. Joy and Evan made me get well cards and brought me flowers from outside, and Evan even tucked one behind my ear.

And, most amazingly, they did all of this cheerfully, without fighting or arguing. I am convinced that I witnessed a true miracle yesterday.

How funny that, in my last post, I was just writing about having to back track and correct some discipline problems, and then I received this wondrous display from my children. It was as if God inspired them and wanted to show me how well they are really doing.

It seems that most of the time we spend with our children is a rehearsal - constantly training them, teaching them, encouraging them and correcting them, tweaking their performance just a little bit here and there. Yesterday, my children gave me a flawless performance, and I couldn't be more proud.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Commander Space Cadet, Reporting for Duty

I had to laugh at myself about this one.

A few days ago, I had a very busy morning. My plan was to drop Evan off at his once-a-week learn and play group at 9:30 AM. Faith likes to help out at the play group, so she went along. Then I had to drive across town (10-15 minute drive) and drop Hope off at a math tutoring session. Finally, I had to go to Meijer to get groceries, and my daughter Joy would come along with me. After all that, I would reverse my steps and pick up Faith and Evan at 12:30 PM.

Now, I have never found it difficult to keep track of my 4 children. . . .until that day.

You would think that after 20 years of living with my adult self, I would have a better estimation of how much time it takes me to complete routine errands. Wrong. I often plan to get 3 things done in the space of an hour when I should KNOW that I will only be able to accomplish one. I often tell my husband that I have to make a "quick" run to Meijer - "I really don't have to get much this time." - and he knows I will be back in 3 hours. He doesn't even bat an eyelash.

Well, on Thursday, after dropping Hope at her tutor at 10:00, I decided to make a small detour (5 minutes) on the way to Meijer so I could drop off a ton of donations at the St. Vincent de Paul store, mainly so I could make room for the groceries in the back of the van. But then Joy and I decided to make a quick run inside because she wanted to shop for Hope's birthday and she only had $4.50 to spend - better to try to find something at a thrift store on that budget.

So, of course, it took longer than we expected in St. Vincent. We made it to Meijer by 11. Joy still hadn't found something for Hope, so we had to look in every toy aisle, clothing aisle, and the jewelry section before she found something. I must have uttered the phrase, "Hurry up, we don't have much time," about 100 times. It didn't help. Finally she picked out what she wanted, and then it was on to groceries. At 11:30 AM. I had a LONG grocery list. My parents were coming into town on Friday for Hope's birthday weekend. I had to get it all done.

At 12 Noon, I was almost finished. In my mind, I was still thinking I had time. Oh how foolish. At 12:05, I got into a checkout lane. With 3 people in front of me, I was making friendly banter while I was becoming increasingly aware of how much time I didn't have left.

I exited Meijer at 12:20. Got the groceries in the van and got in the driver's seat at 12:25. Now, remember - 10 minutes back to the tutor to pick up Hope and then 15 minutes back across town to pick up Evan and Faith at 12:30. Yeah. . . you do the math.

I called the secretary where Evan was having his play group and asked if she could possibly arrange for Evan to get another ride home. Much to my relief, she called back quickly saying Evan was taken care of.

As soon as I hung up, Joy shouted, with tears in her voice, "What about Faith???" At that point, I broke out laughing while Joy was panicking, thinking her precious little sister would be left behind. I was not laughing at her - I was laughing at myself because I had honestly, completely forgotten about Faith! Yes, what about Faith? I knew the woman who was giving Evan a ride home only had room for ONE child besides her own.

So, I had Joy call the secretary again. Could she please find a ride for Faith, too? At this point, I really was feeling like a moron. She called back while I was inside talking to Hope's tutor - of course, this wasn't a quick in-and-out either because I had to get the scoop on what Hope had learned, etc. Joy came in and reported that Faith had a ride, too.

I don't remember the circumstances, but somehow we managed to call the secretary one more time and my darling daughter Joy, being infinitely concerned for her siblings' well-being, asked her, "Could you please make sure they get home at the same time?" I shouted from the driver's seat, "Joy, Shut Up!!!" Not the kindest thing to say, but this lady was bending over backwards to cover my a$$. She didn't need an 8-year-old telling her how to do it.

Well, we all arrived home safely. Myself with 2 children, groceries and birthday presents. Evan with Mrs. K and Faith with Mrs. Q. At least I managed to get home before them. After many profuse apologies and gushing thank-you's, all was well. And I really needed a nap.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Thumbnail Sketch of Our Family

Let me walk you through the various disorders plaguing my family. This household contains Depression, ADHD, mild Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Insomnia, probable Adult ADHD, Hypothyroidism, Hypoglycemia, Obesity, Herpes Type 1 (That IS the cold sore virus, just so you know!), Adrenal Fatigue (or so says one borderline-quack-chiropractor), Perimenopause, Sciatica, Athlete's Foot, Hyper-emotionalism, Flatulence, Male Pattern Baldness, Overgrown Toenail Syndrome, Stretch Marks, and Overall Laziness.

You would think we would all be sitting around in straight jackets.

It's got to be a sign of the times. I mean, I'm sure the early settlers weren't suffering from all these maladies, right? They worked hard all day, grew their own organic food, enjoyed life's simple pleasures and lived off the land. Look at Caroline Ingalls - she was happy all the time, except for one episode, I think.

Sometimes I yearn for simplicity of life. Wouldn't it be glorious to grow all my own food, have a cow and a chicken for milk and eggs, have my husband go hunting for our meat, and have a small simple house that required only a daily sweeping? However, I don't think I could survive without the internet.

If I grew and ate all unprocessed, organic, homegrown food, I'm sure I wouldn't have health problems like a gall bladder with a low ejection fraction. If I worked / walked the equivalent of 15 miles each day, I would be the picture of fitness without annoying issues like plantar fasciitis. If I didn't have the dizzying array of responsibilities and distractions of modern times, I'm certain I wouldn't be suffering from Advanced Delusionary Schizophrenia with Involuntary Narcissistic Rage. (I stole that last one from "Me, Myself and Irene", a movie that has quite a funny premise but is disgustingly vulgar. If you haven't seen it, please wait until the non-vulgar edition comes out - it should be about 12 minutes long.)

All I'm saying is that I don't think God intended life to be this complicated, and I'm quite sure it's a product of modern times. And I have no intention of sitting back and letting it best me.

OK, well that's it for now - gotta go take my meds.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Playing with Fire

Yeah, maybe my kids could use a little more supervision. As I was sitting in my bed, composing my last post, I smelled the scent of candles burning. And then miscellaneous comments, such as "wow, you can toast bread over a flame!" and "how close can I get this napkin before it catches fire?"

My little scientists, I'm so proud of them.

I'm in my bed again

How can I be a productive human being? It's raining outside and I've been coldcocked by Daylight Savings Time. And my bed is so warm and cozy (we've covered this before). I should take a picture and post it here so you can see for yourself why I just can't stay away.

I really have to start exercising. But I'm always too tired. The experts say it is supposed to energize me, but they haven't met ME. I might be the ONE person in the known universe that defies the law of "exercising-gives-you-energy". I tried this once, not too long ago - I managed to get some exercise every day for 5 days, and then I had to sleep the entire weekend because I was so exhausted. And I did the 30 minute brisk-walk or 20-minute continuous swim each day. I should have felt better, right? That was about 5 months ago, and I haven't tried it again since.

But I really should get back to it. I know it. I have a little weight to lose (a little, ha! My spare tire is more like a stack of Michelins - heck, I just look like the Michelin man!) And exercising is good for my heart. And it definitely helps with depression.

I just wish Mother Nature weren't so cruel in making these cold, rainy days that make me want to hibernate again. And I wish Americans weren't so arrogant as to use Daylight Savings Time to control a natural phenomenon - sunrise, sunset, just get used to it, people!

Anyway, I have enjoyed this little rant during my mid-day bed-time break. It's time to get up and be productive again. The kids need educating and the house needs cleaning, etc. etc. etc.

Time for a pot of coffee.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Addendum to Struggling with Sin

My husband knows me better than I think he does.

As I was writing the previous post, "Struggling with Sin", he came to me and said, "The kids know you love them and they know your heart."

I laughed and asked him if he had just read over my shoulder.

He said, "No, but I know that's what you were thinking." (OK, you gotta really give my husband credit here -how many women would tell you that their husband KNOWS what they are thinking!)

"I just wish I was getting better at being a Mom," I lamented.

And he lovingly replied, "You are."

Struggling with Sin

Sin. I wish it had never been invented. If I see Eve in heaven, I'm really going to give her a piece of my mind.

I'm suffering with sin the way Paul describes it in Romans 7, when he says that, even though he wants to do what is good, sin is right there with him. I sin against my children, even though, of course, I don't want to. I hate it, but somehow I do it anyway.

My oldest is the toughest one for me right now. She's 9 going on 13. I swear she's been in pre-puberty since about age 6. She is so very emotional and so very irritable. I pray for her and I try really hard to be peaceful with her, to encourage the good in her, to correct her calmly and lovingly.

But tonight I blew it again. She was snapping at everyone and everything in her way, so I lost it. I didn't yell exactly, but I went on and on about how she needs to stop complaining and snapping at everyone and she needs to change her attitude and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It was like words were coming out of my mouth and meanwhile, my brain is saying to me, "Will you shut up already?"

It is frustrating because I want to be a better mom. I could be a better mom if I had better children. (Of course, I'm kidding. . . .sort of.)

Believe me, I know that a lot of my children's issues come from my past mistakes. I also know that some of their issues come from being sinful human beings who need Jesus as much as I do. Some of their issues come from heredity. And some of their issues come from just being children.

A good bit of my struggle with depression has come from the fact that I've given in to self-condemnation when I've made mistakes with my children. Satan is crafty, so he uses something that is true - that I do indeed make mistakes and sin against my children, and twists it into an ugly lie that I believe - that I'm a terrible mom and all other moms in the world are better than me.

I have since learned to resist those lies and just fess up when I sin against my children. I ask their forgiveness and God's and I know that God forgives me - again and again and again (I'm pretty sure I passed the 70 x 7 mark about 2 children ago). I've found that it helps tremendously to internalize Scripture and use it as a weapon against Satan, the way Jesus did when He was tempted in the wilderness. But sometimes I wish I could just whack him upside the head with a big, heavy Bible.

In the end, it is most helpful to remember Paul's victorious proclamation: "Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Love My Bed

I love my bed. Way too much!

I am a firm believer that we, as mammals, still have the hibernation instinct. But our crazy society makes us get up and get out and be productive anyway. This is very hard for me.

My husband bought us a Sleep Number bed about 5 years ago. He is quite frugal, but he will invest in a quality item if he thinks it's worth it. In his mind, a good night's sleep is crucial to health and productivity. So we bought one and we have never regretted it. Well, except for the fact that I never want to get out of it now.

We also have an electric blanket, which is pretty much on continually during the winter. The kids often sneak up there for a little respite during the day. To top it off, our room is tiny, so it really feels like a little cozy cave - complete with a TV, of course. All I need now is a coffee maker and refrigerator and I'd be all set.

Oh, the woes of being human. Oh, the pain of getting out of my warm and snug cocoon. Oh, the pain of the ice cold floor on my poor little toes.

You know, I'm thinkin' here. . . .kids need an occasional change of scenery to help them stay alert. They need some variety in their school day to make learning fun.

"HEY KIDS! We're having school in my bed today!"