Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'll Rise, But I Won't Shine!

This week has not been the easiest week for us in the morning. James is in school Tuesday-Thursday from 8-12.  On Tuesday I woke him up and was immediately met with screaming, crying and a a full on flopping tantrum.  It all amounted to he did NOT want to go to school.  He had a complete meltdown, I lost my cool, both of us yelled, and it was a rotten day for all involved. We got to school battered and ten minutes late.  I chalked it up to the beginning of the school week, and just knew that Wednesday would be easier.  

I overslept Wednesday (which I haven't done in AGES!!). I knew I couldn't rush Mr. Fun, so I resigned myself to being late and tried to sweetly coax him out of bed.  Well that didn't work and again he was a mess.  Dustin came home from work in time to help me get his clothes on him and get him to in the car.  Breakfast was a PB&J in the car and we were late for school again.  Crazy thoughts are flying through my head at this point.  Am I a bad Mom?  Is he feeling the stress of our family sharing a car this month?  Is he not sleeping well?  Is he getting sick?  Is he not having a good experience with school?  What is going on with my kid???

Today, Thursday, was the final day in his school week.  He managed to sneak into my bed sometime around 5 am and was snuggled close when the alarm went off at 6:30.  I cringed for a moment until he grinned at me and popped out of bed and took off running for his room.  I proceeded to stumble to the coffee pot, and was met by my smiling boy who was fully dressed.  He says Aren't you proud of me?  I sure was.  No screaming, no arguing, just a peaceful morning.  The ride to school was pleasant, even if we did have to take a few moments to pray for some generic bad guys and discuss the difference between speeders and real bad guys.  Why can't all mornings go this smoothly?  

I mean, truly I hate raising my voice or my hand to my children.  A three year old in the throes of a fit isn't a logical creature.  A me without at least six cups of coffee isn't a logical creature either.  Our experiences this  week have me thinking a lot about patience.  I've repeatedly prayed to be a more patient person.  Rather than becoming more patient instantly, I've found that God keeps putting me in positions to find patience.  I keep coming up short.  Is it wrong to stop praying for patience?  Perhaps a wiser mind than mine can tell me, but at least for this week, I'm changing my prayer!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pass the Salt Please

I put forth a lot of effort to get my family to sit down to dinner together.  With a husband who works swing shifts and a toddler who goes to sleep for the night by 6:45 it isn't easy.  It is however, worth it.

I try to plan my meals around the shift work thing.  I cook more elaborate meals on nights Dustin gets home at 7:15, feasts on days off (when I'm not begging for take out) and easier meals when dinner is served at 5:00 so that he can leave for night shift.  I must confess, though I miss my husband when he's working nights, its the early meals that I love.  I mean, what Mom doesn't love having the family fed, dishes done, and kitchen cleaned before 6 pm???

Tonight was one of those nights.  Tacos around the table.  Evie was smearing cheese and salsa in her hair and Dustin was trying to get James settled at the table. I was pouring drinks and fixing my plate at the kitchen counter. That's when I overheard this:  "Dad, it's not good to be mean.  Jesus will still love you if you are mean, he just won't be happy about it. Daddy, do you want to make him sad?  Just try to be nicer, okay?"  I only wish I'd heard the rest of the conversation.  I will say this.  It was one of those "ahah!" moments that we as parents get.  One of those rare and validating moments when we know our children are listening too us, for better or for worse.

This got me thinking, how much else is my three year old getting?  I mean, I talk enough for ten people and assume I'm getting tuned out a lot of the time.  How much has this little booger banked in him little mind?  Dustin is off this weekend.  Maybe James can share a little more wisdom over a baked chicken.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Worship with a mop.

I'm trying to be more diligent about keeping a cleaner house in this new year.  I must admit though, I hate it.  I'd rather just keep one room clean and shut the rest of the doors.  I LIKE my house lived in and comfortable.  I mean, we've all been in those other houses.  You know the ones where the pillows on the couch scream I DARE YOU TO LAY DOWN!  I don't aspire to that in my home.  I want my guests to feel like they can come over, put their feet up on my sofa and snuggle into the blanket conveniently located on the arm of each piece of furniture.  I want my children to explore building forts with all of the pillows and sofa cushions.  Children should be relaxed in their homes I think.

My resolution isn't about pillow forts though.  It's about the scary stuff under my stove.  It's about learning to clean these "tilt in" windows ( i hear they're great).  It's about worshiping God in caring for my home.  It's about showing my children that a home isn't four walls to be taken for granted.  It's about showing my husband that I respect his efforts to provide for us.  It's about the pride i feel when I can dance barefooted across newly mopped floors and my crawling daughter's pants stay clean.

Now I'm not going to go crazy and bleach all of my doorknobs and cover my kitchen chairs with plastic as have been suggested.  I have come to terms with the fact the the laundry pile multiplies while I sleep.  I love my incontinent dog more than I love rugs.  I must admit though, the smell of pinesol in the morning makes my motor run!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Good List

In all of the post-Christmas fallout, one of the more unusual events has to be James's obsession with "the good list."  His little three year old brain is very concerned with ordering actions, people, and well, everything into "good" or "bad".  I must admit, this is useful when I'm trying to convince him to pick up his toys.  A little Santa threat and he kicks it into high gear.  The poor child is scared to death of the bad list, which by the way he was at the TOP of yesterday.  I reminded him of this and he promptly let me know that I too was on the bad list yesterday.  And...well...I was. 

I've been three days with no cigarettes, and what a span of three days its been! On Monday I was trapped at home with both children and no vehicle.  Mounds of dirty laundry in front of me, a football game during nap time and two demanding children made for a busy day.  Enter Tuesday.  I had to practically drag James under penalty of death to the car for the 20 minute drive to Clemson  Montessori School.  He and Evie both fussed the whole way home.  They both woke up cranky from their afternoon naps and neither of them appreciated my chicken dish (did they know it was a weight watchers recipe????).  I almost cried with relief when I tucked them in to sleep.  I had high hopes for today and was willing to give it a chance.  Really.  Again I had to drag James to the car to take him to school.  The dog ate Evie's breakfast.  The cat shook catnip all over the kitchen floor and tore into a bag of deer jerkey I just finished drying.  I had to drag my son  (kicking and screaming) to church for a pot luck dinner that he squirmed through.  I attempted small group with my daughter playing peacefully at my feet.  That lasted until she tried to answer the ipod "HELLO" and popped herself in the face with a silly band rubber band.  I then had to manhandle James into his car seat and pick Dustin up from work (25 minutes late).

Now I'm finally done.  This day that I've made an effort to find the good in is over.  I'm pretty sure I'm at the top of the bad list today too. I'm definitely sure that a cigarette sounds like a good idea.  Here's the thing though, I will lay my head down tonight knowing that the GOD who loves me keeps no record of my wrongs.  He loves me whether I'm good or bad.  Its willingness he seeks not perfection, at least in my understanding.  Whew!  I get to try again tomorrow!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What's a Year Anyway?

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12 NIV)

I've become a little uncomfortable at how fast a year goes by.  I remember being a child and the school year crawling like a turtle in a tar pit.  Now it seems that by the time I work up the nerve to put on a swimsuit, autumn is dropping her leaves and it's time to bake Christmas cookies.  The sense of time speeding up was never more apparent than after my children were born.

 James was colicky and didn't sleep that first year.  Dustin and I didn't sleep much either, and therefore so much of that first year is cloudy.  Of course I remember his first tooth, his first steps, the magical sound of "ma-ma" and  the hilarious time that Dustin tried to "scare" the hiccups away from our then three week old son.  Those are easy to remember, but what about the everyday?  The feel of downy hair against my face, the exact pitch of the hunger cry only Mommy can fill, the hefty weight of that sleeping boy in my arms.  These things are sadly harder to conjure the further away they get. So, what do you do when you forget what babies smell like?

Have another.  Evie wasn't colicky.  She didn't cry.  Her infancy was marked by a feeling of gratitude and pride. Grateful for her good nature, pride because surely I'm such an awesome Mom that I must be responsible for this...right?  This is the kid that we took to the pediatrician convinced that she was broken.  Our complaint?  She slept too much and didn't cry.  I still remember the look on his face when he asked us what we were expecting from a newborn.  We explained the colic situation during our first go-round and he clapped Dustin on the back and said this was how it was supposed to be.  Wow, this was parenting on the easy button.

Now I find myself at the beginning of another year trying to figure out where the last one went.  Evie's sweet downy baby hair is getting thicker and longer.  She squirms to get down more.  My once chubby James is a rail thin pre-schooler.  2012 is here, and to this child of the 80s and 90s it still sounds like science fiction.  A whole new year of challenges, setbacks, ice cream cones, heartache, cheeseburgers, milestones, snowstorms, and opportunities are here for this family.

 Are we brave enough to face it?  Strong enough to face it united?  Humble enough to know on which side our bread is buttered? My personal challenge...remember this year.  Take the time to sit and let my baby fall asleep on my chest.  Tickle my three year old until he can't take it any more.  Take the time to thank my husband for providing for his family.  Take the time to really talk to God, and unplug my ears when he starts to answer.  2013 will be here tomorrow after all.

Monday, January 2, 2012

On Resolutions

My husband and I decided long ago that going out on New Year's Eve is for amateurs and New Year's Resolutions are for idiots. That said at this the beginning of another year, 2012, we find ourselves on-again/off again smokers (gasp!), lazy nap-loving slugs, lousy communicators, overweight, underfunded, and fighting the valiant fight to do what is right yet consistently coming up short.

On this New Year's Eve,  I spent the evening at home reflecting on the past year and making a to-do-list for the approaching 2012.  In chicken scratch on the back of an envelope, my hopes and dreams are these:

1.  Keep my home clean enough to take pictures of my children and post to Facebook.
2.  Yell less.  Challenge our family to communicate without raised voices and anger.
3.  Be more active.
4.  Value our home and family.
5.  Quit putting things off.
6.  Get a shelf for the china cabinet.
7.  Take back the library books.
8.  Organize the family finances.
9.  Get a much overdue oil change in my minivan.
10. Plan for a new driveway.
11. Finalize plans for adopting a child.
12. Give God a year.

What about losing weight?  Paying down old debt?  Running a 5k?  None of those made it on there...but what's this about giving God a year?  I mean, we go to church.  I'm scheduled to start teaching Sunday school.  I sing loud and proud during worship.  Give God a year?  Haven't I given him enough.  I say grace with my children.  I pray before I go to bed (most nights).  I pay attention to Pastor Scott on Sundays.  Shamefully, I've also been ignoring God.  Yes, while eternally grateful for the many blessings in my life, I've been sticking my fingers in my ears during much of the time God has been talking to me.  Finally, I'll admit.  I couldn't take it any more.  There was an old testament kind of moment in my house on New Year's Eve.  My life had been building in that direction, but God's usually small nagging voice boomed in my ear.  He said, Amy, give me a year and let me open your heart and blow your mind.  Here goes everything!