Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Kind Of Love To Know

Driving down the street the other day, reflecting on life and all it's aspects, I was thinking specifically about relationships. As you can tell from my blog, I've put a lot of thought into those lately.

Friendships mean a lot to me. I love all my friends and they each hold a special place in my heart. I seek to maintain relationships with them even if I'm out of reach, out of touch and out of state. But, I've learned that sometimes the people we love the most in life, are the ones we are most apt to hurt and to be hurt by.

As I drove along deep in thought, and all while missing a dear friend, I saw something that almost took my breath away. And when you're driving, it's not a good thing to stop breathing.

A young girl stood off the side walk. She was sad and crying. Something was really bothering her. But standing next to her, stood her friend. Holding her, comforting her, being there for her.

The most vivid thing I saw while I drove past was the arm of the friend around the girl's shoulders. Just a arm but yet how profound. It was a symbol of love. Of, "no matter what happens, I'm here." Of, getting so close to her hurting friend that she wanted to bear that burden. Hold her up. Keep her strong. And if that didn't work, just be there.

And then I realized that you don't always have to understand a friend in order to "be there" for them. That it doesn't matter what hurt them or how they're hurt, you can still "be there" for them. And that a strong arm on their shoulder, says a lot.

At that moment, I knew what I needed to do. The picture I saw in a flash as I drove past was one of love and care and faithfulness. I wanted to be that kind of friend to the friend I was missing. To show love. To show that I care. And to show that I'll be there, no matter what. I blinked the tears out of my eyes so I could see the road and I realized then what an impression that picture of love had made on my heart. And I knew what I needed to do.

If a friend can believe that you mean it when you say you love them and will be there through thick and thin, there is nothing more beautiful than having a token of their trust manifested through the same commitment they make to you. And a mutual trust, is a good thing to bank on.

God loved me first, unworthy though I am and so predictable of failure. And He loves me every single day. How can I except anything else from myself than giving my all when it comes to loving others? Who am I to think my love is special and must be rationed according to circumstances? If God loved me like that... I can't imagine where I'd be. How can I think I have a right to love others less than He loves me? Especially when I know He loves them too.

Love is stronger than death. And I have known that kind of love.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

You Know You Miss A Good Friend...

when every time you see a vehicle like their's, you do a double take and hope that it's them. Or you wildly chase a white vehicle like their's, hoping that your eyes are seeing things and that the vehicle is really green.

All you can do is hope your friend misses you too and that they know, you really miss them.

Landon Lines, Janae Jems

Pet Names
"Hey there little noodle," Toby said affectionately to Janae. "I not a noon-al, 'Punkin'," Janae retorted right back.

Not Quite The Right Response... Unless You're Janae
"I'll be in there in a minute to help you Janae; Mommy has to make sandwiches first," I called from the kitchen to where she sat in the tub waiting for me to wash her up.
"I can!" she called back, using her infamous phrase for everything that always indicates her independence.

Shifting The Blame
After being caught disobeying a very detailed command, Toby asked Landon why he disobeyed. Landon had a very good reason. "I asked Jesus to help me but it didn't work," he said.

While carrying a snake he had just caught, Landon made a detailed observation. "This snake is just perfec', Mom."

What You Pick Isn't Always What You Eat
While picking rocks behind the garage one day, I informed the kids that what we were doing was called, "picking rocks."
"But we can't eat these though," Landon informed us all.

Friday, May 23, 2008

On Change, Contemplations And Completions

I am right in the middle of two-full-of-change weeks. So much change and so much to contemplate and so much to complete!

A wonderful friend is heading to China for an indefinite amount of time. She plans to learn Mandarin and teach English. The rest of what she's doing sounds fun and exciting. Taking in the Olympics there will be a huge event in her life. I mean, really, how many of us have ever been to the Olympics?? The sad part about this departure is the fact that we did not bid each other good bye. (Wisconsin is too far away.)

Another close friend just returned from the desert of Africa. After playing phone tag for a couple days, we finally spoke. The visit was good and the pictures were fun but having both over a cup of coffee would be better. (Wisconsin is too far away.)

Yet another dear friend is heading to the sombreros of Mexico this week. Her blond hair and bright blue eyes will shock many as she launches into a fluent Ecuadorian accented Spanish. I was able to at least partially say good bye to her since she did just visit me a couple weeks ago. (Wisconsin is still too far away.)

And last, but definitely not least, my own favorite blond sister fell in love. I'll have the rest of the story probably some day. In a nut shell, she fell hard. But somebody caught her. And I'm thinking she pretty much really likes him. (Wisconsin is definitely too far away. )

As for me, I am just here... in the Midwest... living a full life yet without a plane ticket or sombrero or adventure ahead. Unless you call catching 4 snakes an adventure. (before you congratulate me, I will admit they were only garter snakes and I DID have leather gloves on). I finally completed a large landscaping project and hope to tackle a few other projects this next week. My own dear love has been under the weather with strep throat and feeling rather ill. So, doctoring him up has been a "project" as well but one I am glad to say is completed. Now to get that baby better...

I'm feeling rather "retro" these days and want to blend some 50's style blue into my house. We'll see if that pans out to amount to anything of value. I am brimming with other new ideas but not sure if they'll just be ideas or actual completions. My kitchen needs help badly and the red apples are beginning to glare at me and feel depressing. That house project we were working on earlier this year has kinda been pushed to the back burner until Toby has more time in the evenings and weekends. So, a fresh coat of paint should be in order for our kitchen, even if it will get changed several months from now.

My house is a walking garage sale -- I have so much stuff to get rid of. But, before I can actually have the sale, I have to sort all my stuff but before I can do that, I have to clean out a spot where I can sort stuff but before I can do that, I have to convince my husband that a garage sale would be worth the work and effort and time. If I don't convince him, I'll be the one hauling all that heavy furniture down the end of the driveway sometime this summer. And I can't really see myself being capable of that.

The yard is finally looking better. I'm sure my mom won't be able to believe that I may have some of her green thumb genes in me, even if it's not an experience I call "therapy." So, the pictures will prove that I can PLANT things but we'll see if I keep these things alive.

There will also be a little change around my blog in the next couple weeks so stay tuned for an important announcement about the change I am contemplating completing.

Recycled Comments

I once lamented to [my mother-in-law] that I really did not care for gardening and felt a bit inferior. Her reply was--"you can sew clothes and I can't"...
I'm banking on the "you can sew clothes" too.
...Remember what bloggers blog for readers to read should reflect the personality of Jesus Christ our Savior.

That was my whole point: bloggers don't blog for readers to read. Readers choose to read what they say and draw conclusions on what it's reflecting and in turn often project themselves on the blog author. That happens a lot.

Janae has a way with words too. Is she your most verbal one?
Um, no.... she is highly "nonverbal" in the English language. What I've reported her saying here is usually just a quick phrase that slips out and surprises us.

Don't girls always like to talk like they know what they're talking about, even if they don't?
Shhhhhhh! Don't give our secret away!!!

"Where there is no vision the people perish:" Prov. 29:18a
some of your comments made me think of this verse.
I was thinking the same verse when I wrote that post. Glad I conveyed that message without even quoting that verse!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Are You Making Today Count?

If you're living today like you'll be here tomorrow, STOP: there is no guarantee.

If you'd need one more minute just to tell someone you love them, quit wasting the minute you have now.

If last night was the last time you'll ever spend with your loved one, does it hold the kind of memory you'd want to be left with? Are you wishing you would've made better use of that time? Appreciated that hug enough to remember it? Relished the experience of just being in their presence? Did you tell them "I love you" before you fell asleep?

When your husband comes home tonight after a hard day's work, act like you thought last night could've been his last. You'll appreciate his smile. Notice his cute tussled hair. And melt in his arms with even the simplest kiss. It could be his last trip home tonight. Make it count. Make some memories.

When your kids got up this morning did you take notice of it enough so that if they don't wake up tomorrow, today's memory has no regrets?

When you put your kids to bed tonight, give them an extra kiss because somebody out there can't kiss their little girl at all. It wasn't planned that way. They didn't know their days were coming to an end the morning of the day she woke up that last time.

And you don't know when your child's last day is. It could be today. Make it count.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What Do You Think?

The template here is old and outdated. I have 3 children now but by the background pictures on my blog, you would think I only had 2.

Yet I get a lot of comments about the background so I don't know if it would be worth replacing/changing/deleting/just leaving. When I blog, I don't actually see the pictures unless I go to my site directly. So, the background is more for the reader's benefit and not mine so much.

What do you think? Should it change? Yes? No? Maybe so?

Please reply with your opinion and no matter what you say, please include your email address. I want to personally respond to each idea, tip and comment.

If you would rather not publicly post your idea here, you can email me at tobyzluv "at" gmail "dot" com (I assume everyone would know how to decipher my email from that. Just trying to avoid public search engines that offer free spamming....)

I am wide open for your discussion!

Being Real About Blogging

A popular subject among bloggers is the whole "privacy setting" discussion. Should I or shouldn't I go private, seems to be a big thing with some bloggers. And I can see why.

I love the new friends I have made through my blog and through other blogs the past few years. I would not find it as pleasant to blog if my blog was an "invited reader's only" blog. The camaraderie among bloggers is a fun friendship to enjoy. But, I can see why some people only blog for "invited readers only". When I hear about bloggers with the privacy setting enabled, they all have a reoccurring theme that made them choose to go private: readers that either stalked, made nasty comments or interrogated them in some way or another.

I got to thinking about it in context of my own blogging.

A blogger writes what they feel; not always what you want to hear.
A blogger writes on their blog; not yours.
A blogger writes personal things and can be brutally honest; you are the one reading it.
A blogger writes based on their own conscience; not yours.
A blogger writes freely, you read it freely -- a blogger doesn't force you to read their blog.
A blogger writes what they believe without asking for your permission.
A blogger writes on their own blog BUT the website is opening in your home; if you don't like what you're reading on their blog, close the page and move on to something you do like.

A lot of readers seem to have a mentality that is inappropriately based: since my blog is coming into your home and I am willingly baring my heart for you to see it, that doesn't mean that I deserve speculation or interrogation or accusations or nasty comments just because I am vulnerable. I am not asking you to critique my work just because I make it available for you to read. And it's not that I feel a need to "trust" you with my secrets; a blog does not have secrets when it's public. I only trust you to read what I write and not come back and tell me what I should've wrote or hear how you disagree because you think you know me better and what I said is inconsistent with my life. (I say "I" and "you" in a general sense and in a way that speaks for all bloggers and readers.)

If you don't like the contents of a blog you are reading, or disagree, or have concerns with a topic or phrase, the blog author is not responsible for coming into your home and giving you a bad feeling about the blog you are reading. You made the move to enter that premises.

A blogger enjoys writing freely; if they have to think about a reader's preferences, or a reader's criticism, or a reader's inability to understand a situation, or knows a reader will strongly disagree with something the author says, that blog becomes the reader's blog; not the blogger's blog.

For safety reasons when your blog contains personal information that may pertain to you alone and/or your family, it is good to get a site meter and check it frequently. Check the referrals to see where your readers are coming from and also figure out direct hits (through IP addresses) from consistent readers: you want to know you are blogging among friends, even if the friends are people you have never met in person.

If some readers are on your blog more than you are, that's a good time to make a reference of the pages they load and the posts they're reading. That is usually a positive thing to have an interested reader but it can also be negative depending on the situation. You can see what is piquing their curiosity and what topics they seem attracted to; thus making their reading experience more inviting to them. But, there could be other reasons... are they checking for consistency in your life and/or getting information for ulterior motives and/or are they just getting to know you better?

I know I've posted this before but it's worth the read again. My friend Hannah says this:

I want my blog to be a place where I write what I’m passionate about -thoughts & people alike. What makes me laugh or cry, what grabs my soul and makes me think. A place where I share from real life, not just another collection of well-meaning spiritual rhetoric and lofty quotes of inspiration. Sometimes that can be hard to do. But I’m convinced that God’s touch is found in everything from answered prayers to eating ice cream, and much like a singer singing a song they don’t really care about, if it doesn’t mean anything to me, I certainly can’t help it mean much to anyone else.

I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Some Kind Of "Therapy"

It was one of those days where the kids decided early on in the day that when one had a heart ache, they'd all shed a tear. They all seemed very devoted to the mutual commitment they made to bear in each other's burdens.

Alex had a high fever and diarrhea. He cried a lot and quiet often and it seemed pretty frequently too. Now that I think of it, he hardly quit crying all day.

Janae was having girl issues. Serious ones. She left for 2 minutes this morning and disappeared completely. It left me believing that she had been raptured. I almost ran down to the Baptist Church to see if anyone was there. But, then I realized that I was still here so obviously, the rapture didn't take place. Rapture or not, she was gone none the less. It was quiet while she was gone, except for Alex crying, which quiet is always nice around here. Rare too. I should've taken advantage of it and gotten something done -- especially since that 2 minutes felt longer than just 2 minutes. Actually, now that I think of it, I think it was more like 20 minutes... or was it 2 hours???

I spent all the time she was gone searching the entire house, front yard, back yard, bathroom, her favorite hiding place in the house and even up and down the street and back in the ally. I was about ready to notify Amber Alert when she climbed out of the van (I had already looked in) with a big smile.

Landon had also thoughtfully committed to tears today and if he wasn't causing tears for others, he was making them himself. Which is actually rare since he is not a cry-baby type, unlike the other kids that live with us. But today was "National Cry Day" at our house so I can understand the exception he made to participate.

After telling the kids that they were both going to take a nap if I heard anymore crying, I heard crying. Wow. Can you believe that? I heard more crying.

Landon denied that he was crying and I could see plainly and clearly that he was not crying. Which is always good and commendable and what we like to see in a child that lives with us. But between Janae's deafening wails, I learned that Landon had spit on her foot. My, my. How tragic. He may as well have just hacked her foot off with a machete, going by the decibels her cries were reaching.

He hadn't actually spit though; it was built up saliva that congregated in his mouth and then slowly oozed out and carefully landed on his sister's foot who was swinging on the swing that he pretty much wanted. Yeah, a great passive-aggressive way of dealing with conflict and ruling the case in your favor. You should try it sometime yourself; you may get a nap out of the deal like he did.

Meanwhile, the house reeked of poop, the kids were harmonizing in an unifying chorus of sobs and wails and melodiously filling our home with it's sound. The baby was weeping uncontrollably and would not be comforted because he was not being comforted. Basically, there was a lot of crying. And tears. Loud tears.

No body wanted naps under these conditions -- they never like to go to bed sad. Or going to bed at all. Yet the continued crying only proved how necessary the naps were. I called Toby just then to let him know that I was leaving for the night when he got home. Alone. You know: by myself. With no kids. Just so I didn't have to hear crying. He said, "Okay, Honey, have a good time. Are you sure you don't want to take the baby?"

By the time it got quiet and everyone had quit crying and succumbed to sleep, I was motivated to get some work done. So, bypassing the tripped-on-laundry, and sink full of dishes ,and dishwasher full of dishes, and littered house, and groceries on the floor, and supper still needing to be figured out, I headed downstairs and swept out under the basement steps. I know... real vital to getting my work done but hey, you try living in a house with screaming and crying and sick kids and don't tell me that you can still think clear when they're all finally quiet.

I got some visiting done on the phone with a good friend that just got back from Africa. We shared details about our exciting lives. When Janae woke up and heard who I was talking to, she immediately informed me that she wanted to "Gawka Bicky." (talk to Becky) She told 'Bicki' that she had new shoes that were green (brown) and that she wanted to have "Gawkee" (coffee) with 'Bicki' again. After she handed the phone to me, she said she "wanna dit on "Bicki's wap a-den." Our last trip home to Wisconsin found Becky making a pretty big impression on Janae. And Janae hasn't forgotten that at all.

Janae's little chat on the phone was a good distraction from the mournful morning and seemed to set the mood right for the rest of the day. (I'll just have to make sure she calls someone tomorrow.)

The evening was spent almost as exciting with a few added pieces of flair since Daddy was home. It's always fun when he's around. "Smoovies" (smoothies) on the front porch for everyone were waiting when he walked up the driveway. And nothing is better than a porch swing full of happy, smoovie sippers while the sun sets.

As if to get back to the mode of antics originally saught after for the day, Landon made one more attempt at chaos and tried (and succeeded) hooking up the sprinkler and turned the hose on long enough to create enough mud to require a good scrub down on his sister. When I told him to shut the water off and leave the sprinkler alone and always ask before he tries that again, he told me, "The sun is up in the sky; right over there," and he turned in circles trying to find the fading sun and finally pointed to the far west where it was almost completely set. Apparently when you're 4, that is a good time to run a sprinkler with your sister in the back yard. If you do it fast enough, there will be more mud and weeds that grow from the sprinkling water and you can enjoy getting a little wet yourself while the water runs freely.

After the kids went to bed, I took Alex outside with me to quick plant a few ivy plants. Nothing serious at all; just a little wrap-up-and-un-wind project. And it was going to be quick.

Now, I have heard people say that gardening and yard work is therapy for them. And I admire these people. When I do anything with plants, it seems like I need the therapy after I'm done. What therapy is there in getting your hands dirty and your feet muddy and your toenails packed with dirt? The only therapy I see in it is that it gives you another reason to just get the pedicure over with. I just don't get it. You horticulture people will probably comment and tell me some piece of wisdom pertaining to gardening but I can assure you: I do not relate to your culture of horti's.

I made one last effort to see what therapy is found in gardening and decided that after a stressful day, I should just try this theory on myself and see if it is true. After all, maybe I just haven't had enough stress in my life until today. And what would it hurt? My plants needed new pots anyway.

But, it's true: there is nothing relaxing about it. Nothing at all.

Especially when you are only out there a short time and you're almost ready to water your three freshly planted plants and you look over at your fussing baby who you just looked at a second ago and you happen to notice that there is yellow stuff smeared across his stroller tray and dotted on his face and hands and it's in his mouth and you look closer feeling slightly appalled and you find that he is sitting in that stuff.

Yup. I don't even have to give you the scientific name of that stuff. We all know it happens.

It dripped and smelled the whole way to the bathroom where I plopped him in the tub, clothes, diaper and all. He was pretty giddy about a bath but I hope that next time he wants a bath, he'll just ask.

And the next time I want therapy, maybe I'll just sweep out under some steps.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Landon Lines, Janae Jems

A Good Kind of Pride
"I'm so proud of you, Mom!" Landon said as we headed out the door to go on a walk.

"Really? Why are you proud of me?" I asked, wondering if he knew what he was talking about.

"Because you let us ride our bikes." He said, happily.

Chewing Food
While eating popcorn one day, Landon made a keen observation.

"When I eat, my mouth chops it up."

The Unseen Guest
As the kids got ready to sit down for a meal one day, Janae began to direct Landon...

"I det to sit by Desus, Nannon and you det to sit by God."

Do You Just Call 911 Then?
Hearing that I needed an axe for the project we were working on outside, Landon informed me after my fruitless search for an axe in the garage....

"Firemans always have axes."

Just Between Her and the Bro
After explaining to the kids that we may go garage saling and what that would entail for them as ride-a-longs, I asked Landon if he wanted to do that. He was pretty sure he did NOT want to go and answered no.

Janae, sitting across the table, taking all this in, objected. "Nannon, dat would be nice!" she said, "da girls will be nice!" as if that made all the reason why he should go. I could clearly see she had no comprehension of what we had just talked about.

I questioned her and asked, "What did you just say, Janae?" She looked at me and said with a firm resolute and an aire that said I'll-get-back-to-you-later, "I am talking to Nannon."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Making A Goal To Have Goals

There's been talk around our dinner table and early morning couple time and often in a traveling van and... basically, we've been talking about this a lot lately. And that is about setting goals for our family. Goals are those things that I just never seem to have time for. If I make it a goal, I can't get it done.

Take laundry for instance. I set a goal to get it done and voila! that's that very last thing that could ever be accomplished in that week let alone day. So, understandably, I pretty much have left off goal setting.

Until I began to re-think goals.

  • Goals should not be lofty expectations set above and beyond our means.
  • Goals should be practical in that if they aren't done within the goaled time frame, we don't live in uncontrollable regret, ultimately handicapping us from having a positive attitude about life.
  • Goals are to bring purpose and productivety, no matter if they are completed or not.
  • Goals are sometimes those things that we have to resort to labeling under the "it's-the-thought-that-counts" category and then go on with life, at peace that some things are best left un-done. (don't ask what things... I don't really know. That cliche' just sounded nice.)
  • Goals should motivate not demobilize.
  • Goals should be the umph that gets us headed towards the finish line of a project.

    The bottom line is, without goals, our direction and focus is futile. There is no vision.

    So, as we purpose to gain some goals that match the capacity of our family and the ages of our children, I have realized that I need to make goals for myself. As a mom. As a wife. As a friend. As a Christian.

    It was then I realized that I perform best when I am under a time limit... company is coming and the kids are crabby and there's tons to do and food to make but I fly right through because I know there is only so much time to get everything done before it's too late. Ironically, everything usually gets done. BUT, on a quiet day when there is no time limit, it takes me 5 times as long to get something done. I know... that's weird but true.

    Of course there are chore goals we should make (and keep) but also other goals as well. Here are a few of the goals I have set for this summer that mostly apply to me....

    Bloom where I'm planted in this tight kitchen
    Become an expert "smoovie" (smoothie) maker
    Learn how to grill
    Get better acquainted with a friend I met last year
    Have company more
    Drink less coffee
    Worry less about my house
    Explore the capabilities of having a green thumb (basically, don't kill any plants for at least 6 months)
    Catch a snake
    Learn how to make better bread
    Spend less money
    Shop less
    Make a quilt
    Arrange a romantic master bedroom suite in our 9x11 room
    Have a garage sale
    Cook something new for supper
    Take better pictures
    Shed unimportant responsibility
    Greet my husband with a smile every evening for the next 365 days and everyday following
    Drink coffee with Toby in the morning on our porch swing
    Spend more time enjoying playing with my kids

    Okay, you may not relate or understand the reason for particular goals I have set but I have decided that living each moment to it's fullest is an option I have everyday to choose. And I am choosing that.

    The above goals are just a few things I've been thinking about but writing them down gives me 1) accountability and 2) motivation. Ultimately, it turns these ideas into goals.

    "If you aim for
    you'll hit it

  • Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Non-existant No Non-sense Naptime

    Like the torrent of a hurricane and the power of a fierce volcano, the sharp blast of nap time has whipped through our home once again and erupted in wails from our once happy children.

    I just don't get it. It can be a perfectly wonderful day that leads up to tearful nap time and it can be a perfectly awful day that leads up to a tearful nap time. The equation here befuddles me.

    Today, all three of them were chorusing together from their own respective places in cries of anguish and sorrow, all confirmations of desolately exhausted and tired children. One of the said children was actually not tired but relentlessly fighting the enemy of starvation. Yeah, that 20+ pounds-of-baby-fat 10 month old. He almost didn't make it. We actually had to coax him back to life just in time with that all 9 oz. bottle of milk. Powerful stuff, that milk is. And then he happily goes on to do what babies do best: maintain cuteness while investigating everything in reach, including that dark corner behind the toilet that you never clean since you can't reach it and no body can see it anyway.

    In case you think I accept this strange nap time behavior as normal and healthy, I can assure that I have punished the tears, prized the happy-ness and promised both that when nap time is over, we can all sit on the porch swing and drink strawberry "smoovies" and maybe even a walk to the park.

    But, all to no avail. I almost have to stop and ask myself why nap time was ever invented and why moms talk about it being a highlight in their day.

    For one child in particular that lives in our home, I offered a spoonful of vinegar if they continued to cry. The said child, amazingly, laid in the napping bed and wailed for vinegar!!! She actually wanted it. And wanting it was making her cry for it. And crying was making her want it more. Or so she thought.

    Just like every single solitary day that nap time spreads it's venomous entrails to the far corners of our little house and it's incurable wails infect the very fibers of the carpet, just before the moment you think you might decide to start in with them, it quits. The crying is over. Just like that. Zilch. Hush. Peace.

    I glimpse into their rooms and find each angelic child in an exhausted heap, mouths open wide in a mid-wail position, sleeping soundly.

    And then it dawns on me why I look forward to nap time everyday.

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    The Ins and Outs of Interesting

    Today looks like an interesting day. And I mean interesting as in fun, not boring, lots to do, happy, relaxing, productive, and sunny.

    It started with Alex waking up at 4:30am for a bottle and then when I got back to bed, Toby was up. Though I do lose some sleep, it's fickle compared to the fun it is of waking up next to the one you love and enjoying the early morning alone, with no distractions, noise or kids. We had coffee and toast and devotions together before he headed off to work.

    The interesting part of the day happened when I saw what Janae got dressed with. I wanted to get a picture of her but didn't get a chance. She had a purple night shirt on, backwards but buttoned correctly. Pink tights on her legs and bright pink Dora crocs on her feet and she was all set. She planned to go outside and play like that. (we are very thankful for our privacy fence.)

    Then she decided to put Alex down for a nap and made a pallet of blankets on the floor with a pillow. She dragged him to his "bed," covered him up, turned on the sound maker and shut the light off before closing the door as she left. He wasn't too happy about it.

    I have some landscaping and yard work to do today but not entirely motivated to do it since I need to get some supplies before the project can be finished. The sun is so inviting though and I would love to get the kids out in it.

    Before the interesting conglomeration of kiddos sitting in the corner of the kitchen gets anymore interesting than it already is, I should quit being distracted and get back to work. "Interesting" can be fun but when out of hand, "interesting" is, well, just plain interesting...

    A Few Profound And Some Not So Profound Thoughts

    Storing all the diapers in one room is like keeping all your eggs in one basket: if a diaper is needed and for some reason you can't get into the room (especially if there is a sleeping child in there), you're sunk either way.

    The best friends to have are people that know you better than you know yourself and love you despite what they know.

    I don't understand why they say to "shake well before using" on pump bottles or spray bottles. Everything in the nozzle and tube leading up to the nozzle is usually all that's needed for one use and we all know that nothing can be mixed very well in a tube even if you do "shake well."

    People that understand you even when they don't agree with you are the only kind of friends to have.

    If you wear sunglasses on your face on a sunny day and end up with a "mask" from the glasses protecting your face around your eyes, would you get the same pattern on your hair if you tipped your glasses to your head?

    If you can pick up with a friend right where you left off no matter how much time has gone by, THAT is a true friend. Any other person is just an acquaintance.

    Marriage is the only relationship that must be maintained on a day-to-day basis. A good friend knows that.

    All relationships are a two-way street: one-way street relationships get really old because you can never turn around and come back the way you came without breaking the law.

    Life is complicated: some friends are enemies and some enemies are friends but not all enemies are enemies nor are all friends, friends.

    If 2 kids is the All-American-family, what country is identified in a 3 kid family?

    To love is a risk. To love never is a greater risk.

    "I'm making sense; you just don't understand me."

    If a friend calls you right before they board a plane for a dangerous country, you know they love you. If they planned their funeral before they left and decided to call you when they couldn't reach their own family, you know they really love.

    When arguing with another person, you can change your mind instead of giving in and then you both win.

    Changing your mind to agree with your spouse is the best way to win.

    If you only use re-dial on your phone, you need to call somebody else for a change.

    If your friend jumps out when the road gets bumpy, don't bother waiting for them when the road gets smooth again. They probably got stuck in the mud and nobody likes a stick in the mud.

    Deep thoughts are like the deepest parts of the ocean; no one knows what's in them.

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

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    Mothers Day Get-a-way

    View of the front of the Lodge
    Goin' fishin'
    Father-son fishing

    I think she had a cute idea about something.

    Photo credits: Landon

    Father-daughter fishing

    Aiming for fish

    All girl...

    Saturday morning breakfast

    Waiting for the train

    Our first family picture on a train. A friendly, fellow passenger lent a hand and saved this photo from being an attempted self portrait.

    There was thick glass and lots of water between the photographer and that shark.

    Taking a ride.

    Taking a ride II

    Taking a ride III

    Taking a ride... you get the idea.

    Mother's Day 2008

    Daddy and kiddos

    Looking down to the restaurant dining room from our deck.

    Hiking along the water

    Mother's Day 2008 was a fun-filled celebration for our family. The Mahoney State Park was our destination and it was a perfect distance; not too far away but yet far enough away that we felt like we had "left town" while we were there.

    Ironically enough, I didn't feel like a very good mother on Mother's Day. In a public place, my little angelic angel of a daughter fell backwards off of her seat and landed on her head while I was returning our room keys to the desk manager. In a very public, crowded place. It was embarrassing but even more so when someone offered me an ice pack for her. "She's fine!" I assured the kind lady knowing full well that Janae was only doing what she does best: proving to herself and the world that you can deny the law of gravity and still survive.

    Then, a short time later in another very crowded place, Landon, of all darling boys, tripped and slipped and smashed and banged his head into a sharp corner on a hard table. Ouch. He cried in pain and would not stop crying in pain for several minutes. Usually he gets over stuff like that quickly but this was not worth getting over quickly, apparently. So, a kind person offered me an ice pack for him.

    I felt like there were a collaboration of people in the world on Mother's Day freely offering ice packs to mothers like me for children like mine. I felt like they were all ganging up against me in particular too.

    Our little get-a-way was a nice jaunt away from phones and computers and people. We realized on our way there that in our of our 5 years as a family, we had never taken time as just a family to get away for a weekend or go on a trip by ourselves. We always travel with other family or to family. Always. So, this was a good experience for us. We enjoyed it a lot and I have an idea we'll do it again some time, some day, hopefully soon and before the next 5 years is up.

    The weather was not happy with our plans and made sure to show it on Saturday. Rain and cold and wind whipped around our lofty lodge window that overlooked the Platte River. But, we were undaunted and stole to our dry, warm van that took us to the Henry Doorly Zoo for a day of fun, animals and dry buildings.

    Sunday morning, we relaxed and ate snacks for breakfast until it was time to check out. Then we went fishing. The sun was warm and bright but the temperature was a bit chilly. Coupled with the wind, it wasn't the perfect weather but it was still bright and cheery.

    I managed to cast Janae's bobber and worm and hook at the top of a tree so it should be understood that our fishing efforts certainly didn't produce many fish at all. At least not on our fishing poles. There were fish in the pond, I'm sure, but they didn't come and see us or nibble our fat juicy worms.

    Landon and Toby enjoyed "racing" their fishing poles by casting and seeing who could go the farthest and who could reel in the fastest. That was more productive than fishing it seemed. I didn't join in though. That bright orange bobber dangling in the tree made fun of me the whole time we were at the lake. It'll probably still be there when my children's children go camping someday with their parents. What a legacy I am leaving.

    Coming home is always good but this time, it felt too soon. The water and the sunny skies and the break from normal life was too good to be true. But, at the end of the day when all was said and done, I realized that a happy life does not consist of having a good time or finding happiness in things. Or even having fun. Happiness to me is waking up next to the one I love and hearing the happy little voices drift through our house during the day. That brings me all the joy that could be had.

    I hope all you mothers had a wonderful Mother's Day and that the rest of you made sure that the mothers in your life had a special day.

    Thursday, May 08, 2008

    An Everything-Went-Wrong-Day

    Okay. I'll admit right now that today was just a bad day all around. I am not going to make this sound fluffy, fun and frivolous so don't expect a frilly story. It was just one of those days where nothing went right and everything went wrong.

    I woke up with a raging bladder infection and peed about 37 times from 8am until 11am. (I'm not kidding you.) That was a good sign my day was starting out bad.

    Toby needed me to bring him some window cleaning supplies so I planned on taking a break from the bathroom trips and looked forward to having lunch with him over his lunch break. The kids looked forward to that a lot too and Landon and Janae figured out where we'd eat ('Caffeine's' (Cafe) on the Square) and what they were going to order (pancakes). I didn't care what I ate; I just needed a distraction.

    No matter how hard I tried to get ready, I was in so much pain from the infection. My doctor called in a prescription and I kept calling the pharmacy to see if it was in yet. At 10:30, it was finally time to go for lunch so I headed out to the van with the kids.

    It was then I realized that I had no car seat for Landon; the car seat was in a work truck with Toby.

    So, I called our nearest relative to see if they had their extra car seat handy and while waiting for them to get back to me, I continued getting the kids in the car.

    I went to start the van and what should I find but the battery was dead. Totally dead. Not even the power locks would work.

    By then, the Car seat Relatives got back to me and told me that someone else was using their extra car seat.

    Okay. So, I was still out a car seat and now a battery too.

    Not only did Toby need his stuff and the kids had their hearts set on going to have lunch with Daddy, but I needed my meds! The UTI was almost killing me.

    So, I called a neighbor to see if I could borrow their car for a jump start. No answer; they weren't home.

    I called a nearby friend to see if I could borrow their car for a jump start. She said she'd be right over.

    I called another nearby friend and asked if I could borrow a car seat from them. They had extra! I was in luck!

    The Battery Lady came over and as I bravely wielded the mighty jump start cables, she popped the hood on her car. There was a loud snap and unfortunately, the snap wasn't the hood popping; the whole lever from inside the car broke off. Just a dinky little wire teased us with it's past ability to pop the hood while the plastic handle sat helplessly in my friend's hand.

    By now, the neighbor guy was outside mowing and I decided to see if there was something on his truck I could break in the process of getting juice into our van's battery. He obliged his truck and in no time, the van was running strongly and no harm done to his truck.

    I re-loaded the kids and ran up the street to get the car seat. I stopped at the pharmacy to pick up my meds and we were finally on our way to go get our dad.

    When I finally found Toby, he was on the phone, quite distracted, in the bank parking lot. He thrust me a form to fill out for my new Debit card and I proceeded to fill it out, not knowing if I was the Applicant or the Co-applicant of the Applicant. While waiting for him to get off the phone, the kids and I sat in the van until the "empty" light came on for our gas gauge. Knowing I had at least 80 miles until I was really empty, I didn't worry too bad but I knew that this was just another Bad Luck Token for my day.

    Toby got off the phone and told me he needed awhile to work up an immediate bid for someone. So, with my on-empty-van, the kids and I drove around Seward. After about 45 minutes, Toby was ready to go but I needed to bring my form into the bank and pick out a PIN number.

    While "picking out" my PIN number, the bank lady had to hassle with our account because Toby's debit card had quit working, making my card more of a hassle to get. Finally, after making a couple trips into the bank, it got worked out and we were headed to the restaurant. By now it was 1:00pm.

    We went to "Caffeine's" and found out they had a long wait. The restaurant was packed. So, we skipped down the sidewalk and went to another place instead. We ate very quickly since Toby needed to get back to work and most of our food went home with us in "boxes."

    I dropped Toby off for work and headed back home where a lawn waited to be mowed and a ton of work had to be done before company. About 2 miles out of Seward, Toby called me and said that he forgot to take the window cleaning stuff out of the van.

    I u-turned and headed back into town and pulled up to his truck just as he held up the supplies he needed from some hidden place in the truck: my supplies for him were useless; he already had everything he needed and didn't know that until then. Lovely. He did keep the roll of paper towels I brought him but probably just because he wanted me to feel at least partly useful.

    We then went home and I mazed through a littered house, put Alex to bed and brought the other kids outside to work on the yard with me. The meds had kicked in by then and I hadn't experienced any Bad Luck Tokens for about 15 minutes so I thought it was time to get on with life.

    To celebrate, I made reservations for our upcoming Mother's Day Weekend Get-A-Way and know that after today and all that happened, that weekend get-a-way will be more worth it than if I hadn't had today.

    Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there and may you find less reasons than I do to celebrate and enjoy Mother's Day this year. :)

    Saturday, May 03, 2008

    Disclaimer Parenting using our New GPS System

    I have come up with a new parenting method called, "Disclaimer Parenting." It has taken me several months of research to find a way to implement the disclaimers many parents face with their own parenting styles, their own parenting of kids and their own experience as parents.

    No matter how I try, I can't seem to get around all the legal issues, the custom comprehension of each child and the financial expense the full implementation would cost. There is a solution though; it's just not entirely practical: ** if you have multiple children, have a life outside of parenting and if you are a spouse to someone, read disclaimer below.

    Not to leave you in despair, I will share my solution, free of charge. The program I have established is what we call a "Good Parental Sidekick" system (or GPS). This system requires an experienced and capable adult (ie., the parent) with the child at all times. This practice must be performed until the child's brain is activated to a level of experience where you can trust them when you say, "be good" and you know their comprehension of that command meets every aspect of the criteria in which you as the parent extend it to.

    It would make "normal" parenting (anything other than GPS parenting) so much easier if you could just say, "If it moves, don't eat it; If it's hot, don't touch it; If it's Mommy's, don't break it; If you don't know, ask Dad; If it hurt you once; leave it alone." But you can't. They always find ways to get around it. That's why I designed the GPS system.

    If you wonder if this plan is right for you, let me give you an example using the simple command, "be nice to your sister" and you can decide if the following scenarios fit a description in your own home.

    First, I will admit that saying "be nice to your sister" usually leaves so many loop holes for a brother, it's not even worth saying it. We have actually declined using this command in our home just because of the situations, elements and scenarios it does not apply to in real life.

    "Be nice to your sister" could allow you as the brother to convince her to give you all her toys as long as you say, "I'll give you a surprise."

    "Be nice to your sister" could allow you as the brother to ride your bike really fast right next to where she's sitting although we all know you would never intentionally hit her.

    "Be nice to your sister" could allow you as the brother to hit her babies instead of her.

    "Be nice to your sister" could allow you as the brother to sit on her head just because you want to. I mean, it's not like you'd intentionally try to be mean while you sit there.

    "Be nice to your sister" could allow you as the brother to make her cry by saying, "Gimme" even though neither one of you has anything the other wants. We all know that "Gimme" is the "Make Sister Cry" button that is activated when brother looks at her and simply says, "Gimme."

    "Be nice to your sister" could allow you as the brother to convince her to let you take care of all her babies, her dolls, her kitchen, her dollhouse while she just follows you around, aimlessly.

    "Be nice to your sister" could allow you to slam the door really fast because you didn't want the dog to get in... even though the dog was across the yard and your sister was right at your heels.

    "Be nice to your sister" ..... I could go on and on but I think I've made my point.

    Following are some excerpts from several days of researching kids in a particular home. The parent involved in the following examples would've greatly appreciated the GPS system.

    (Please note: Children under a certain age should be advised to discontinue reading. The following information is CLASSIFIED so as to not cause further damage to other parents.)
    • I know I've never said this before but never put your finger through a small lego window; it might get stuck.
    • Yeah, just like it is on your finger right now.
    • This is the reason why you shouldn't put your finger in small items that can "stuck" your finger.
    • If it's the cat's water, don't drink it.
    • Don't spray Windex at your brother's face.
    • Never throw a rock the size of a grapefruit at your brother's head.
    • Actually, never throw rocks at anything.
    • If you got a handful of slivers from the fence yesterday, why would you touch the fence today?
    • Don't throw dirt over the fence.
    • I know you're not throwing it at people; don't throw it 'over the fence' either.
    • Can't you tell the open dishwasher is blocking the back door?
    • Do you comprehend that closing the dishwasher would allow you to open the back door?
    • If the dishwasher is open, don't try to go outside.
    • Stay buckled in your car seat.
    • That also means keep your arms in the straps.
    • Don't smell the jar of pepper!
    • Smelling pepper is an owie.
    • (Okay. Fine. Then smell it.)
    • I told you: smelling pepper doesn't feel good.
    • If it hurt to smell the pepper once, why are you doing it again?
    • Of course it's going to hurt the second time.
    • Let me smell your nose: yep, I smell pepper in there.
    • Now you know that smelling pepper is an owie.
    • I know I said you could pee by that tree but only if you couldn't get to the bathroom.
    • Just because you don't like that food doesn't mean you can spit it out on the floor.
    • Would you like it if she took your toys all the time?
    • Um, no... you actually would not like that.
    • And if you did happen to like it (strange kid you are), that doesn't mean she likes it when you take her toys.
    • Only boys pee outside.
    • If she's cries when you do that to her, that means it's hurting her.
    • And when it's hurting her, that means you should stop doing whatever you're doing.
    • Never use a staple gun on your closet door again. Never.
    • See how that staple gun made all those marks on your door?
    • Only use that staple gun where Daddy says you can.
    • If he never says, "Landon, you can hit your door with that staple gun," then don't hit your door until he tells you he can.
    • Actually, only hit the grass..... no, the basement floo..... no, the old piece of wood Daddy gave you.
    • Yeah, only hit the wood Daddy gives you to hit.
    • If you can't find that wood, then just look at your staple gun; don't hit anything with it.
    ** Disclaimer: The GPS system does not work effectively if you have more than one child and/or are involved with other practices (such as daily life, showers, using the bathroom and washing laundry) and/or have a spouse. All persons involved with other such practices are disqualified from using the GPS system for all practical purposes. Must be 18 and over to use this parenting guide.

    *** Disclaimer: Regretfully, our field expert cannot assure the public that no children or animals were harmed mentally, physically or in anyway during the assessments of our studies. All individuals in question are healthy survivors and hopefully better off through trial and error that comes with experience. Contact your local Parents if there is cause for concern.

    Not to admit the mental strain upon my cranium that has occured from the rigors of motherhood, you can tell you've been hanging around toddlers too much when you unintentionally say this when your child is dropping something... "Careful! You're going to 'fall' it!"

    Earn $25!

    Refer A Friend using Revolution Money Exchange

    I usually toss these things off as spam, or frauds, or just plain crazy. But, today when I found this offer on Mrs. Wilt's site, I did a double take. Mrs. Wilt is an honorable woman so when I read her blog today, I was piqued with interest and learned about Revolution Money Exchange.

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    From what I learned, Revolution MoneyExchange is a Paypal-type program that allows you to transfer money online. The sign up is absolutely free -- I know because I tried it.

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