Friday, October 31, 2008

Taking a Sammy on a walk

In case you have a busy toddler/preschooler like I do, I thought you'd appreciate coming along with me on a morning walk with my Sam.

" can run...but stop at that big tree. Don't go any further than that. Sam? Sam? SAMMY! Stop. I mean it."

"That's not our gate, Sam. Let's leave it alone. CAREFUL! Don't close your fingers in it! Thank you. Now let's keep going. You're right though....they do have a scarey pumpkin."

"Good jump! That was great. OK, no, don't open their gate either. OK...let's go. Good! Another good jump. OK, let's go."

That's not our garage Sam...leave it alone. Come on babe.

"I know you have to go potty, but we're not too far from home. Alright, alright, well, go behind that bush. Seriously child."

My mom, husband, and probably a few others will be so upset by my posting that last picture...but it was too funny. And typical. Sorry though. Back to "reigning it in".

Halloween Fairies

I heard from some other little girls (sisters) from the kids' school that the Halloween Fairies come to their house every year and leave things like reflecting wands, reflecting hair barrettes, and other reflecter/light-up things for them to "guide them through trick-or-treating". The fairies always come a few days before Halloween so that the fairy lights will be available to them on Halloween.

Well, I'm not that prepared, nor do I usually do stuff like that at all if left to my own devices. But, in the spirit of trying to start more family traditions (I'm reading Sarah Ban Breathnach's Mrs. Sharp's Traditions: Reviving Victorian Family Celebrations Of Comfort & Joy and feeling like a big butthead that doesn't do any traditions with my kids) I decided to have the Halloween Fairies visit our house this morning too.

So, last night after they were asleep I brought there costumes upstairs and laid them on the table. then I set out these little pumpkin sippy cups I bought and stuffed them full of tootsie rolls and taffy. I also wrote out a letter from the fairies that said:

Claire and Sam,

We brought up your great costumes and brought you a nice treat.

One is for drinking but the candy is to eat!

We'll fly around you tonight and watch you trick-or-treat.

Just remember "please" and "thank you" and save us something sweet!

Love, The Halloween Fairies

Then, I really lucked out, because when I heard Claire wake up in the morning, she went into the living room and was momentarily preoccupied with a book, so I snuck out of bed, lit tea-lite candles around the table (it was still dark outside) and went back to bed.

So...when she finally came upstairs she found this on the table (except it was early in the morning and dark). Being Claire, she didn't even disturb it one bit, but she ran into my bedroom to tell me about it. We went out together to read the card and she thought it was awesome. In fact, she told me later that it was "the best early morning thing that had ever happened to her". Haha.

Now, this all could have gone bad had Sammy awoken first, (which he usually does). Costumes could have gone up in flames and 20 tootsie rolls could have been in his mouth all at once. But sometimes God has a little grace on us and allows things to go just as planned

On our walk this morning, I was letting the kids take pictures of things, and we happened upon this house that had 5 pumpkins sitting on the porch, (alright, that's a lie. It had about 9 pumpkins, but I tried to just get 5 in the picture because it made Claire think of the Halloween poem they've been learning at school). Here it is, and Happy Halloween!

Five little Pumpkins sitting on the gate.

The first one said "oh my it's getting late!"

The second one said "there are witches in the air"

The third one said "but we don't care"

The fourth one said "let's run and run and run!"

The fifth one said "I'm ready for some fun"

Then....whoosh went the wind and OUT went the light

And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Keeping Sammy busy...

I had just started this post by uploading the pictures, when who should come along and press "publish post" but Sam the Man. So, at first this post had no words. Then I realized that it probably could have been "wordless" and you would have gotten the point. But I'm not a "wordless" kind of person...I have many words.

So, what I was GOING to say is that I have been trying to be more disciplined about giving Sammy a daily know, so that he'll always know what's coming next and hopefully we'll avoid some of the tantrums and fussing that come from never knowing WHEN we're going to watch a show or WHEN we're going to get to go outside...etc. So, my attempt at a morning plan for Sam and Claire (when they aren't at school) will hopefully be something like the following: breakfast, watching Curious George, Bible story with Mom, other stories and songs (they like to teach me the ones that they say at "circle time" at school)...

...and then a walk. I'm hoping to be very disciplined about making myself take the walk even in bad weather. Even if it's just 10 minutes long I think it will be good for Sam. And sometimes you get a little bonus when you're taking a walk, like this morning, when we saw a construction worker digging a hole and Sammy wanted to watch him. Then he invited each of the kids to come sit in his backhoe! Thanks nice Construction Worker Man! The hope here is that when we come home from all of this that they'll play nicely together for a little while, but if they don't, then I'll have other morning activities ready to go.

Like, once a week we'll bake something, (this bread recipe came from a little Waldorf book that has simple recipes to make with kids). There is lots of kneading involved so it's a great one for an active boy.

Or, he could play with beans and rice. I heard this idea on a website for kids with "sensory issues" and it's also in line with the Waldorf idea that kids really love digging and dumping, scooping and pouring out at this age. I gave him his kitchen stuff to play with this time, but one time he liked burying his cars in it and then making them pop out, (just keep a vacume handy).

I'm also trying to experiment with bringing toys to different areas of the house than we usually have them. Like, for instance, we brought the trains up off the never-used train table and built this track upstairs. They liked walking around the tall dining room table with the trains for a while.
And when we're desperate, we'll take a bath. If there is one thing that Sammy loves, it's water. Splashing in puddles, washing dishes (he does that one daily at our kitchen sink with bubbles and a bunch of non-breakable tupperware-type stuff) and baths. He always resists the bath at first, but it doesn't take long before he's calling to me "MOM...can you find my goggles! I'm going underwater now!" or doing other Critter-like adventures.

That only brings us up to lunch, of course, and pretty much every one of those options is messy, so I'll be exhausted and nap will have to be next.

I don't have anything planned to get us through the HARD time of the day (3-5) but I'm thinking of there being a craft or other art thing after nap, a snack, and maybe even another short walk before dinner.

I don't plan on all these things happening every day, but I thought if I brought out one a day (like the beans/rice are only on Mondays or the art stuff is on Tuesdays or baking is Friday) during the after-walk time, then maybe Sammy will settle into a bit of a rhythm.

Anyway, that's my hope. We'll see.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Please love my kid!

So this sweet child above (who is 3.5 y/o now) is why I don't blog so much. He is so funny and so energetic and so all-or-nothing and so smart and so cuddly. But, he's also a complete disaster right now. I mean really. And I come from a long line of first-time-obedience believers. I've tried so hard to get first time obedience from this kid.

And then, I've tried to get 10th time obedience. Because even when I am very consistent to discipline him for disobeying, it never makes him obey more. He's so extremely passionate about his naughtiness! And we could spank this kid 15 times and he'd still get out of bed at night...or hit his sister when he's mad, or run away when we call and he really wants to go somewhere else.

And I've tried spanking, ala Sheperding a Child's Heart, and I've tried timeouts ala 1-2-3 Magic, and a host of other ideas as well. I've tried Get-off-your-butt parenting and I've tried trusting my own instincts (as in "I think he's feeling this particular way and that spanking won't help here...I'll try soothing him now rather than being confrontational" etc) and I've cried. And cried and cried.

Especially when you realize that other people don't like your child. His gymnastics coach wouldn't give him a stamp after class the other day because he "wasn't listening" (he can't resist running and doing a few extra vaults when he's supposed to be crawling like a crab). And when Sam got in a fight today with a kid at school who was telling him that he would "poke his eyes out" his teachers politely told me that I should take him home now. Sunday school teachers have had it with him, friends don't ask him over that often, and I can't help but wonder if it's my fault completely. Or at least partially. Mostly I think. He's just extremely hard to "break". And then, sometimes I wonder, if I'm supposed to be "breaking" him. I'm not, I know. I'm supposed to be guiding him. Training him.

And I'm trying. And Matt's trying. But he's kinda agressive...and sneaky...and emotional...and a little obsessive-compulsive, which he gets from my side of the family. And I may not ever get it right. It may be that if I picked any one of the above parenting resources and did them perfectly for 3 years that I'd get an obedient child. Or maybe I wouldn't. And some days I die trying. I correct and spank and put in time-out, and try to speak Scripture to him. And other days, I just am so darn tired of the battle that I'm lax, or I yell, or I cry instead.

But I love him. I love him so much. Sometimes I wonder how I'm ever going to spend any time with Claire while I raise this child, but I know God's grace is sufficient for all of us, so it's definitely sufficient for my children.

And he's so cute. And precious. And he smells like a baby still sometimes...mixed with grass and sweat. So please, teachers and family and gymnastics coaches: love my son.
But if you don't, I do. And I guess that's why God gives us moms.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

So...what I did at the party...almost

So, here's the follow up to this post, where I mentioned that I was coveting yet another beautiful home when I went to one of Claire's school-friend's birthday parties. So, it's this great condo with beautiful views of the city from a beautiful rooftop deck. Actually, it was better than that. The second floor was a family room that only took up part of the second floor, and then there was a whole wall of windows/doors, and you walk out onto this incredible, huge balcony. So, for those who have roof top decks that include climbing ladders or going up weird, steep steps...this wasn't like that. It was just breathtaking.

So, on top of that, they just have it in that perfect mixture of a cool design but also very family-friendly. Like, she has this big wall in the kitchen that is a chalkboard where she rights inspirational stuff/the week's menus/parenting tips to herself. And the kids have the perfect mixture of waldorf-type wood toys as well as your typical Brats dolls and other trendy stuff. You know, like the kind you can't hate because they aren't too perfect or anything? But yet you do, because in their imperfection, they are somehow perfect? Anyway, I digress...

So, on TOP of all this, the mom of the girl (and boy that is Sammy's age as well) is probably a good 15 years older than me but totally gorgeous. Classic beauty type. Actually she looks a little like Amy Grant. Remember her? Well, I've always thought she was pretty, and her husband isn't bad to look at either, but as I wandered into the kids play room I came upon this whole wall of family photos. But in each one she looks like she's completely seducing the camera...even in the pictures of her with her kids (does she just look like that? Or is she trying?). Her kids are gorgeous too, by the way.

So, then I realize that besides the regular seduction style family photos, there are also these TOTAL model shots of both her and her husband. I googled both their names when I got home and got nothing but their company's name, but now I'm sure they were both models. Unless, of course, you usually take pictures of yourself straddling a chair with your hair falling forward while wearing a big men's shirt over skimpy panties. Or, unless, of course, it's perfectly normal for your Brazilian-looking husband to take pictures in a sarong in a hammock with Fabio-style hair flowing down. WHAT? He has a normal man-style haircut now, but this was so funny to me. Well, first of all, I couldn't stop staring at the pictures, but then I had this idea that I really wanted my OTHER friend to see them because she knows these people too. You know where I'm going with this, don't you?
So.....I left Claire up on the balcony with the other kids doing the pinata, and said I had to go inside to grab my drink. I was almost posed to take a picture of the family picture wall, when another woman walks around the corner. Weren't they all outside? I swore they were! Well, luckily, I hadn't quite raised the camera to my eyes yet, so rather than looking like a complete stocker (stalker?), I only looked like a weird woman who looks longingly at other people's family photos for too long a period of time. But that's cool. It's about 100 times better than being actually busted for taking a picture of a picture. Seriously. I have issues.

Just so you case you were worried that I was losing my touch...I have officially not reigned it in yet. Not in the least.
And, in case, for some bizarre reason, the Amy Grant mom reads this someday. I'm not crazy, and I did NOT take a picture of your picture wall, and I'm sorry.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Michaelmas Day...a little late

So, we go to a Waldorf School, which is kinda weird sometimes because in my opinion Rudolph Steiner (founder of the Waldorf school) seems to have started with a Christian perspective , but then made up his own religion/pedigogy that slightly veers from the Truth. This has been a bit of an awakening to me because as Claire graduates from the Waldorf kindergarten (ages 3-6 year are together) we have had to decide what we will do next with her education. I had always planned to homeschool, but have also worried about her not having enough of a community here in the city.

They are starting a southside Waldorf school, which she could attend next year, but upon doing a little more research into Steiner, I'm afraid I can't. At first glance, the Waldorf school is beautiful (in fact it is certainly beautiful...that's not the problem). They play with wooden toys and beautiful art materials. They play outdoors for a long time during every season of the year, rain or shine or cold. They reject media for children and won't allow them to wear media-character stuff to school. They'd love it if you dressed them in woolen linens or other most natural materials. They have circle time and singing time and memorize beautiful verses about seasons of the year, etc. They teach them thankfulness and appreciation for things, and they reject early intellectualization of children. Ay, there's the rub.

We've been sorta going rogue and teaching Claire to read and write and all that at home while using the Waldorf school to fill in her socializing and art needs. So, next year, when the 1st grade starts and all the other children are learning the letters of the alphabet, Claire will be way past that academically. Now, any good Waldorf teacher would tell me that she will not be "past" anything, but rather behind in her imagination and play, which she should have been doing rather than reading if we had not allowed her to get all intellectual too early. Eh...I don't know...I think there's a balance.

Also, Steiner, although encorporating lots of Christian/religious-type stuff into his curriculum, also adds a few weird things about past lives and some other spiritual things not to be found in the Bible. I just can't get down with that. So, we're enjoying the watercolor painting and the beautiful festival celebrations and the wooden toys right now, but next year, I guess it's homeschool for us.

I couldn't leave you though, without sharing Sammy's favorite festival story with you. If you want to know more about Michaelmas Day, go here, but otherwise, just enjoy the pictures and the story of St. George and the dragon. You'll notice, if you're of the Waldorf persuasion, my odd mixture of Waldorf-type wooden castle figures with the very non-Waldorf plastic jumbo leggos. But that's just the way we role...

St. George travelled for many months by land and sea until he came to Libya. Here he met a poor hermit who told him that everyone in that land was in great distress, for a dragon had long ravaged the country.
'Every day,' said the old man, 'he demands the sacrifice of a beautiful maiden and now all the young girls have been killed. The king's daughter alone remains, and unless we can find a knight who can slay the dragon she will be sacrificed tomorrow. The king of Egypt will give his daughter in marriage to the champion who overcomes this terrible monster.'

When St. George heard this story, he was determined to try and save the princess, so he rested that night in the hermit's hut, and at daybreak set out to the valley where the dragon lived.

When he drew near he saw a little procession of women, headed by a beautiful girl dressed in pure Arabian silk. The princess Sabra was being led by her attendants to the place of death. The knight spurred his horse and overtook the ladies. He comforted them with brave words and persuaded the princess to return to the palace. Then he entered the valley.

As soon as the dragon saw him it rushed from its cave, roaring with a sound louder than thunder. Its head was immense and its tail fifty feet long. But St. George was not afraid. He struck the monster with his spear, hoping he would wound it.

The dragon's scales were so hard that the spear broke into a thousand pieces. and St. George fell from his horse. Fortunately he rolled under an enchanted orange tree against which poison could not prevail, so that the venomous dragon was unable to hurt him. Within a few minutes he had recovered his strength and was able to fight again, (see our orange tree? That's from the train table set).

He smote the beast with his sword but the dragon poured poison on him and his armour split in two. Once more he refreshed himself from the orange tree and then, with his sword in his hand, he rushed at the dragon and pierced it under the wing where there were no scales, so that it fell dead at his feet.

(And then I add..."and the princess and St George lived happily ever after" because I can't help myself. I'm conditioned to end fairy tales this way.).

The above story was copied word-for-word from this website.

Sir Samuel and friends

So, our good buddy Josh turned 5 this past week and his mom invited us to a knight party. We got this really cute royal invitation in the mail and Claire was to come as a princess. Samuel, having recently attained a knight costume for Halloween, was so excited he could hardly stand it. He immediately started practicing his fencing for the party. Unfortunately for him (not for us) the invitation asked all the little knights to leave their swords at home. Smart woman, that mom of Josh! This was the royal banquet room, complete with swords hanging in the windows, gold plate chargers, and the evil dragon waiting to be killed by 8 small boys with foam swords.
She had made everyone a royal blue tunic thing with a gold belt and she gave each little knight a nice foam sword. The girls made little collars with jewels on them to put over their princess dresses and also princess hats at scepters. Very fun.
The dragon was certainly slain and other feats of bravery were accomplished....

...including climbing the tree to rescue the Barbie princess who was trapped up there. The Barbie was later found in the driveway with her legs snapped off, but at least she was saved by many princes before her unfortunate demise. She was loved....
So, as usual, Julia's party was a success, and my kids look forward to next year's fabulous theme party. I, however, as the Waldorf mother that I am, plan to call Chuck E. Cheese or Pump-it-up this year to see how much money I'm going to have to lose to have someone else throw my children's parties for me. Haha.

Getting the heck out of Dodge...

Well, I have all these other posts to post, but I had to share the pictures from our very sudden and needed road trip on Sunday. I woke up and begged Matt to let us get out of Chicago for one day. This meant we had to miss church, but I was having one of those weekends where it felt like nothing had changed even one tiny bit in my life for 100 years and I needed to just do something different for one day. I sweetened the deal by adding that we could go to Michigan and hike around a little. Now, I love beautiful outside fall leaves and sometimes I feel like we miss fall living here on the west side of Chicago where our only trees look like trees out of a Dr Seuss book, but I also knew that if I even used the word "hike" Matt would be so happy that he'd just throw the cooler in the back of the car and go. And that is what happened. We went to the dunes in Michigan....only a little over an hour away. I didn't even really know what a dune was at that point.
Apparently, they are big sandy hills with some grass on them sometimes, and sometimes not. They are the hardest freakin' things to climb in the world because you just keep sliding back down the sand the whole time. But the kids were very proud of themselves for getting to the top with Matt and it was very beautiful up there.
When Sammy realized we were near the lake though, he kept begging to swim. It was very chilly and windy, but he spent the second half of the hike whining "but I WON'T be cold....I just want to swim...I only like swimming and I don't like hiking....I promise I won't be cold..." Luckily, the wind and the space drowned out his voice a bit and the whining was more like a quiet nagging noise rather than the usual really loud and persistent irritating noise that it is at home or in the car. And then we had to climb another dune and he would forget about it for a minute.

And, of course, we had to stop at a pumpkin FARM at the end of the day just so I could get a little farm fix while we were in Michigan. We met up with some friends of ours who have recently moved to this area, and she told me how great life was there. Now I'm even more confused! City? Country? City? Country? Ack.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What I've been up to...

My camera ran out of battery again and since the battery that came with the camera is not rechargeable, I had to go BUY another one, buy a recharger, and then...recharge it. Going to a store that is not a grocery store is such a huge pain to me that those kinds of errands can get put off for months in this house. One time my husband needed a certain kind of hair gel, (which didn't come from the grocery store) and it took me so long to get it that he just finally got a different kind of hair cut so that it wasn't necessary anymore. Oops.

Well, I've been busy lately. Busy, but I hate to blog without pictures (I'm very visual and I know enough to know that I'm only a LITTLE bit interesting and that I need the pictures to capture my audience if happens at all). So here is the run down of the blog entries I would like to post, and then I'll write more specifics about each one later.

First of all, I've been reading this book (slowly, slowly...I'm a very slow reader and I always read about 4 books at once, so that assures that any one given book will take me a year to read). This one is great, but it's another one of those nutrition books that makes you feel like you have to go ravage your cupboards, throw everything out, and start from scratch. Then you feel like you have to repent before God for feeding your family "fake foods" for too long and completely reinvent the way you've been eatting. I've been leaning towards this kind of eatting for a while, but reading this book makes me feel like I have to go full-balls and really get my own cow to milk in the back yard. That may be against the condo association rules.

Nina Planck's book will convince you that we should eat like cave men, basically. That we need meat and dairy and vegetables (but NOT to be a vegetarian) but that they need to be in their most UN-processed form. And I don't mean "no lunchables or spaghettios". I mean drinking only unhomogenized, unpasteurized milk which you can only get from joining a milk co-op and becoming part of a cow-share program, (since raw milk is illegal to sell, you have to partially own your own cow and then "share" the milk rather than sell it). Or, you can go to the tiny store I found which sells it but only under the guise that it's "not for human use only". Nod, wink. More later on the weird nutrition stuff that has been going on around here...

Secondly, I've been attending several "theme" birthday parties for kids. For some reason, I'm horrible at throwing kid birthday parties. I think of myself as pretty good with adult dinner parties, but I can't quite throw a good kid one. I think partially I'm bad at it because I don't have a lot of space in my house (or yard) and kid birthdays require lots of activity. Also, our friend's kids are such different ages that I'm always throwing a birthday party for bizarre age groups all together. Last year, Sammy's birthday party had 2 year olds all the way up to 10 year olds. The older boys played football in the alley, my husband tried to get the younger ones into a bonfire of sorts in the backyard where they roasted marshmallows, and the mothers with babies followed around behind their children thinking "why did we come to this party?" It was weird. Next year, I think I'll break down and do a location party of some kind. Maybe at a hotel pool or something...

But, I digress because what I really want to show is how cute this knight and princess birthday party was. My friend Julia has been the queen of theme parties since she was a resident assistant in our college dorm room, and her children have fantastic parties. More later...

This is called chicken and bean cassoulet with polenta. My friend, Brigitte, made something like it but couldn't really give me the recipe. She's all "a little of this and a little of that" I just googled "cassoulet" and figured it out by myself. I change some of the recipe because of what I usually have around (and to make it good) but it's pretty darn delicious and makes the house smell like a fabulous restaurant. It's kinda a pain in the butt to make, I'm not gonna lie, but it's worth it. has wine in it, which gives you the excuse to start drinking red wine while you're cooking it...even if you have to start cooking at 3 in the afternoon, right?

This is the view from the balcony of Claire's friends house. Envy again creeps in the corner waiting to attack me. Isn't that a proverb or something? This house is the kind of house that makes me feel like I have split personalities. I was just done coveting my friend Julia's big backyard and fall trees when I left the FAR west suburb of West Chicago on Saturday morning, only to go straight to another birthday party located in a huge lofty home with a roof-top deck in a Chicago city neighborhood called Wicker Park. I loved it. It was so "me" if "me" wasn't also obsesed with living on a farm out in the country. It was lofty and light and open but also with a little southwestern-y feel to it. Oh and a tiny bit modern. Anyway, the point is that you walk out onto this HUGE deck from their family room (yes they have a living room AND a family room...sigh) and all of a sudden you have the best of both worlds: beautiful outdoors mixed with a beautiful view of the city. I have some funny stories to tell about myself and this party though...a recon mission of sorts.

And lastly, as usual, I'm trying to keep my crazy kiddo, Sam, out of trouble. Here he is with a bear he made from a mold and a lump of play-doh. Which would be fine, except that it was his sister's play-doh and he mixed all the colors together when she wasn't looking which devastated her. I'd like to say he's doing better with his behavior, but no. The other day, when I picked him up from his school, the teachers were laughing and informed me that Sammy was playing in the sandbox when he suddenly stood up, dug a big hole, pulled his pants down, peed into it, and then covered it all back up with sand. They said "did you teach him that?" No, I did not.

He's so cute when he's sleeping though. You should see him. You'd almost think he was a regular human being then. But he has a lot of years of "reigning it in" ahead of him.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Date night disasters

So, last night was date night. I almost called it off because we've spent a lot of money lately and I felt like I was pretty tired anyway, but then we decided to push through and go. We drove towards Michigan Avenue, because with the cold weather coming I start to feel holiday-ish and thought we could walk around stores a little. And because just driving to a place like this makes me feel like I've been out and "on a real date" even if I don't buy anything.

But alas, after 45 minutes we still couldn't find a parking spot so we went down to the south loop to go to a Barnes & Noble bookstore...which was closed.

So, trying to keep our spirits up about having already spent $10 on babysitting while we drove around, we ended up back in our stomping grounds on Taylor Street at a Starbucks, (I forgot to preface this whole thing with the fact that Matt made homemade pizza for the kids last night and we couldn't resist eatting it too which is why we weren't going to a restaurant for dinner). We split a "salted caramel hot chocolate" (pretty good, but the milk killed my stomach since I'm a tad on the lactose intolerant side).

We walked along Bishop street coveting the cute row houses, the clean and neat street, and the trees. We do a lot of coveting on date night: coveting other peoples' houses mainly.

And we talked about Safe Homes which is a ministry through Lydia Home where you take in children for short periods of times while their families work through problems. It's a program that the churches in Chicago are really pushing these days because it would be nice if the church looked after the children who need homes and safety, after all. But we couldn't figure out how it would work with the kids we have. Sam is so demanding and Claire gets shafted all the time anyway. Would she just disappear if we had more kids who needed lots of attention in our home? Wouldn't it be better to adopt a child who needed a home permanently so that they could really be a member of our family rather than kids coming in and out of our home so often? I know that the latter would technically help more kids, but would our kids be upset to see kids coming and going out of their lives like that? We decided they would and that we'd have to revisit it after our kids are a lot older.

Then we came home to a disaster. Sammy had gotten up while our babysitter was in the other room, gone to the bathroom, and destroyed it. I mean, he dumped every cleaner out into the bathroom sink and some on the floor. He opened a box of bandaids and covered the potty with them. He was also naked...we don't know why. When we got home, the sitter had just discovered it. I told her "no worries" and apologized for Sammy and then we paid her and Matt walked her home. I was absolutely shocked. Discipline followed, and he seemed to realize that this was really bad after a few minutes, but may I rest my case about his being demanding? I'm afraid this kid has no soul!

Sometimes this kind of night makes me think that dates are not worth it…that it’s too much trouble or too much to worry about. But that’s not true. Because somehow I can’t think at home. At least not about anything besides immediate needs. I would just keep cleaning stuff or organizing the house or thinking about stuff that needed to be done. I would feel overwhelmed by the frustrations of the day and instead of having a fun conversation with Matt, I’d just complain about how hard things are.

But somehow, when I came home with lipstick on and a Starbucks in my hand, the bathroom mess didn’t seem so devastating. I handled it with a level head and without crying about the disaster. So in the words of Sue Funk, whose children I used to babysit: “Go on dates. Even if you can’t afford it. Go on dates. Dress up. Shave your legs. Drink wine. And go. It’s cheaper than marriage counseling! It’s cheaper than a divorce! So just go. Even if you don’t go, you’ll still be just about as poor, so you may as well go.” Oh Sue. You are so wise. I’ll have to share more Sue-isms with you someday.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Long...but possibly worth it

So, a good friend of mine from high school visited last night. Actually, he stayed two nights and hung out with us during the day on Thursday. We had sushi together on Wednesday night (he's the one who introduced me to it in the first place year ago) and had breakfast at my favorite breakfast place, Sweet Maple Cafe, on Thursday morning while the kids were in school. I was feeling pretty decadent and spoiled because how many times does a stay-at-home mom get to eat out twice in two days?!

So, the husband, the friend, and I had dinner together at home, got the kids in bed, and then opened some wine to watch the VP debate. Somewhere around 11, after the debates and the news, when good moms and dads should be in bed, we started a late-night "debate" of our own. Actually, it wasn't so debate-ish but rather a real tension or anything. But all of a sudden I realized I was not in the debate anymore. For one, I was starting to fall asleep, but for another thing, I had no idea what they were talking about. When I would wake up momentarily, I would realize that I couldn't get in on the conversation if I wanted to. "I'm going to start short-shorting the dollar" or "the yen and the juan (or some currency name like that) are so tied to the dollar that I wouldn't bother with that ..." were some of the phrases being thrown around.

Now, I know what they are talking about basically, (the economy and how to invest in this crappy economy) but even though I can follow the words to some extent, I certainly don't have anything to add. And then, with the politics, I found that the best I could do was throw out the various ideas I've gleaned from other people. I've picked up ideas here and there, and sorta come to an idea of where I come down, but it's very limited...very limited. In fact, although I normally enjoy these kinds of discussions, I realized that I couldn't add an original thought to save my life.

Then I started despairing. I felt like my woeful education was exposed. I realized yet again that school for me was figuring out how to get the "A", but often at the expense of actually understanding what I was learning. I also realized that I don't think I ever learned certain things at school, like how the government works! Didn't I take government in 8th grade? But we didn't watch "I'm just a bill on capital hill"...we colored a lot of Kansas flags though. The things I don't know are embarassing. I mean really. And I graduated from a highly respected private college and got pretty darn good grades the entire time. In fact, I'm a business/econ major but I couldn't tell you some really basic stuff. I worked for a year as an accountant after college and pre-baby, but I was making most of it up as I went along. Somehow, I ended up practically running my little area for a while's really sad when I think about it.

And this morning I woke up in a rage. I realized that there is so much I don't know about the economy or the government or about American history, or WORLD history, and I don't even know where to begin to make up for it. Where to start. I wish I could get a do-over in school and not worry about grades...just worry about understanding even a little part of what I crammed into my brain over the years. I took Economics...lots of it! I took history, but I couldn't tell you where most countries are on a map! (I know, that's technically geography, but you know what I mean...)

And then I picked up the Bible this morning and read Ezekiel for about a half hour, (and with my slow reading that gets you to about chapter 4...haha). But something struck me. God had Ezekiel, a prophet to His people while they were in exile, do all this horrible stuff to himself in order to warn His people of his coming wrath and judgment should they not repent and come back to Him. He laid on his side for over 400 days or something weird like that to symbolize the number of years that Isreal had forsaken God. He had to argue with God so that God would allow him to cook his bread over cow manure rather than human excrement! Sick!

Anyway, I thought to myself: "poor Ezekiel! That sucks!" But then something hit me. I'm not saying that I'm a prophet or anything, but I wondered if God has let me feel so un-smart and uneducated so that I can identify with the people around me and care about their position. Right now I'm working one morning in a local public school with kids who can't read. They are in about the 3rd grade and some of these kids don't know their alphabet sounds. I can see the panic in their eyes and the despair. They feel so behind that they kinda want to just forget it and "be dumb". Practicing the sounds of the vowels seems like a drop in the bucket to them and they know it's going to be so much longer before they "get it". Anyway, I kow this is not a perfect parallel between myself and Ezekiel, but I wonder if God wants to me feel a little of that despair, that panic, that inferiority to other people so that I can better relate to these kids and to how they feel. Maybe...