Thursday, January 14, 2010

On Unplanned Mornings, Unpredictable Kids and How They Go Together

It's one of those days where I actually got a really good night's sleep, woke up refreshed and ready to start my day AND I woke up early. While getting ready to shower, my perfect morning routine was interrupted by the sounds of healthy, energetic children.

"At THIS hour?!" I wailed. Here I thought I'd beat them to the day and actually have my Bible reading done, coffee made, shower over and be fully dressed with breakfast on the table before their smiling faces graced our morning.

But, nope.

As I showered and dressed and did my usual morning bathroom routine, I could hear shouts and wails and rude talking loud activity. All indicating that a nice, quiet time out in the living room was not what I should expect with my Bible reading for this morning.

The noise and chaos liveliness continued as I put on a pot of coffee. And it was then brought to my attention that not only had this rowdy bunch of hoodlums my darling children already eaten breakfast but they had eaten their cereal out of dirty bowls from the half-loaded dishwasher. I didn't even want to think about where those bowls had been before my kids used. You see, we've been hosting our dog during the sub-zero evenings in a tight confinement area in our house and in a desperate-last-minute-attempt to give her water, I was lazily using our cereal bowls. (Mental note: Children and dogs should not share the same dinnerware. Ever.)

Turns out, the whole breakfast mix-up was one of those dad-thought-mom-had-the-kids-and-mom-thought-dad-had-the-kids mornings. So we made up a new house rule on the spot:

"Don't Come Upstairs And Eat Breakfast Without Mom And Dad."

The arguing and bickering energetic talking continued so I sent one child down to get dressed. While that child went conveniently missing from the great upstairs, I happened to find a soggy bowl of half eating cereal in a cupboard door. Of course, the remaining child upstairs assured me that the person that did that was indeed his sister and not him.

Mentally crossing "Breakfast" off my list, I went on to the next thing. The aroma drifted off the pot of coffee brewing in the coffee maker and I thought it would probably be a good morning after all.

Suddenly, one of the already-had-eaten-breakfast-children decided they were tremendously hungry. They wondered why I never fed them supper and why they couldn't have breakfast. Kids have an amazing way of heaping guilt on even the best-intention-driven mother but I didn't entertain it for a second. Assuring them they HAD eaten supper last night and that they HAD already had breakfast for the day (as evident by the bowl of milk in the cupboard), I reminded them of another house rule:

"Once You Get Up From The Table, Your Meal Is Done."

Of course, she was starving and would probably die before lunch time and she never gets food and... etc. But, since she had decided to get her own breakfast and then she had decided to get up from the table, it really wasn't my fault she was "starving."

I poured myself a cup of coffee and found a quiet spot in the living room. Too distracted by children to make a profitable attempt at reading my Bible, I decided to just read the Proverb for the day. That seemed like a good place to sponge my mind off of. I always find the Proverbs to have meaningful yet short lessons to glean from. And then it sticks with me through the day... which is a good thing, of course.

A few verses jumped out at me in the middle of all my jumping up from the chair to rescue children, wipe noses, put CD's in for a ballerina-wanna-be-child, re-fill my coffee, put snow boots on a pajama clad boy who was wearing a leather vest and fireman helmet, settle disputes and end arguments about who should get the blue pieces to the "Trouble" game going on in the living room.

Proverbs 14:22:

"Do not those who plot evil go astray?
But those who plan what is good
find love and faithfulness."

It just seemed like a good verse to apply to my day. The morning was still young, the sun was brightly shining, my day was like a clean slate and there was a list of possibilities over what I could plan to fill my day.

"But those who plan what is good find LOVE and FAITHFULNESS."

It was just what I needed to know how to plan my day. And I was suddenly glad my kids had disrupted my pre-conceived idea over how I had previously wanted to start my day.

And so I march on finding love and faithfulness because I'm reminded of another verse that says something about "choosing that 'Good Part' because it will not be taken away from me."

Saturday, January 09, 2010

In Which I Go on a Selfish Rant About Winter....

So there's this illness going around. And it's quite a doozy. Worse one of the season. If you haven't gotten it yet, by all means, stay away from us.

The disease I speak of is Cabin Fever.

Now, some people think Cabin Fever is a mental illness. Actually, it really can be. People inflicted with this virus have weird tendencies to do random things like go to the Post Office on The Day of the blizzard, stamp all 121 belated Christmas Cards at the Post Office and just feel all happy inside to be around other people with two legs and two arms. (Not that people don't normally come with two legs and two arms; it's just when you sit at home all day for days weeks on end, you begin to wonder if only snow plows and mail carrier vehicles make up for the entire population outside your front door.) It gives one a "community" feel that you don't otherwise get sitting in your house at home alone while the snow and wind blow -40 wind chills across your town.

Other people think Cabin Fever is just a state of the mind. Like one of those "I-choose-to-be-sad-or-happy-today" kinds of illnesses. If that were the case, I would so not have Cabin Fever because the funny thing is, I choose everyday to be happy. But it's just not working.

Today I was talking to my mom on the phone who happened to be traipsing across the northern part of Wisconsin this weekend. You know, that part on our planet where it's always just COLD? Yeah, the snowy north woods. Anyway, the dear woman sympathized with my complaints about having Cabin Fever (like SHE would know; she was out gallavanting about!) but she assured me, "Oh you wouldn't want to be here right now; we had 22 below zero last night and today only got up to 14* above zero!"

I responded, "Well, that sounds great. We had -27 last night and the highest we got today was -2."

"Oh," was all she said.

Yeah, tell me about it.

Thing is, I was born and bred in this kind of weather: my birthday is in July... you do the math. (Oh dear, where did that come from?) So I have no problem dealing with this kind of climate, right?

Anyway, my point is, from October to June in Wisconsin, we just planned on cold weather. We didn't fight it. We didn't hate it. We didn't dread it. It happened every year and we embraced it. With pride. We went sledding, ice skating, had soup suppers, cookie exchanges, more sledding parties and a few more skating parties. The snow, wind and cold never stopped us: we were from the North where winter is fun.

But, in the lovely state of Nebraska where everything is flat and the corn fields spread on forever gusting with 50mph winds, winter is something to be dreaded. There is nothing fun to do here in the winter. Except go to the Post Office and stamp 121 belated Christmas cards during a blizzard.

In Nebraska, often a winter storm comes in this order:










Let me give you a little secret here: Hidden secretly under the layers of drifted snow, a sheet of ice lays ready to slay anyone who dares to trek out in the cold. You can scoop snow and you can haul snow and you can play in snow but WHAT do you do about ice? Nothing. In Nebraska, we wait for sun, not salt.

And usually the sun does come and within a week or so, our roads are clear. And we can do things like go to Walmart and Church and stuff. But not this year. This year, the sun refuses to shine and when it does, it just gleefully tempts us with it rays while the below zero frigid air, fights to keep the snow and ice packed firmly on our landscape.

Since this year's winter storms have come with a heavy does of Cabin Fever ingredients, people just stay home until they become like canned vegetation with a meaningless existence. I seriously HATE winter. I know that sounds cliche' because everyone is saying it right now but for the first time in all of my existence, those words have escaped my mouth.

For the first time I see WHY people go to the southern parts of our hemisphere just to get sun and warm air. I see now why people spend their life savings on vacations to warmer climates. I understand fully why people hate winter. And I'll never wonder again why people don't go to places like Alaska for Christmas vacation. I so get it now.

Bears have it down pat; they sleep the winter away. It's a perfect solution to an otherwise aimless existence as canned vegetation. If you can't beat the cold, sleep. If only my kids would participate more readily....

To top it off, after staring intentely at the four walls around me for the last month, I have this new theory about depression. The sun is loaded with Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D3 has been proven as a great supplement to take for depression. There is no Vitamin D3 to be had in our sub-zero climate right now which explains why Cabin Fever is so depressing. Are you following me? If not, you must not have Cabin Fever.

It's also a proven theory that our bodies do know how to heal themselves; we just have to provide the right balance of nutrition, rest and supplements when necessary. Since people automatically pick sunny, vacation spots, Voil-a! coveting a sunny vacation is actually your body's way of saying, "Help! I'm dying of depression!"

So. If you find yourself craving a sunny beach or a heavenly experience of something warm on your face, book that vacation and get away from here. If your bank account doesn't kill you Cabin Fever will anyway. And personally, I'd rather die happy than die depressed.

Disclaimer: if parts of this post are unintelligable or difficult to comprehend, just be thankful you don't really know what Cabin Fever is.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Day Mom Took a Nap

I stayed up until after midnight on New Years Eve just to make sure 2009 left. And then the next night, I stayed up again, to make sure 2010 continued on it's merry march away from 2009. Actually, I don't know why I stayed up too late. Looking back, it was a bad action on my part.

So the next day, I got this novel idea to take a nap. You know, that time in the day where you lay down and sleep for a short time.

After reading a manual on how to take a nap deciding to rest while the kids were resting, I tried the nap idea.

Just as I drifted off, a little person came to the side of my bed...


(I just pretended I was sleeping.)


(I realized then that I really was actually sleeping, so I wasn't actually pretending after all.)


(For some reason she didn't care couldn't tell I was actually SLEEPING.)

"Hey, Mom...."

(I then made a mental note to have the "when-people-are-sleeping-you-don't-talk-to-them" talk with my daughter.)

"What do you want Janae?" I finally asked.

"I have to go to the bathroom," she said, as if that was a good enough reason to wake me up.

Wondering if her passport to the bathroom had suddenly expired, or if there was a sign on the bathroom that said, "Do Not Enter Without Written Permission," or maybe she couldn't remember where the one and only bathroom in our house was, I simply told her to "GO" and laid there confused as to why the. one. and. only. time. I. should. try. to. nap, she would have to interrupt my efforts with a request to use the bathroom.

She pranced to the bathroom, slammed the door shut and soundly locked the door. It was pretty much silent in the bathroom except for a few plops and quiet clamoring around.

"Janae," I called from my bed, "What are you doing?"

"Pooping," she assured me as I heard a metal object land on the floor.

"Uh, huh," I mused under my breath but too groggy to connect the dots between a locked bathroom door, the metal-sounding object on the floor, my 4-year-old daughter and the dragging-out-minutes of her time in the bathroom.

Just then, her wonderful father came upstairs. I groggily mumbled the situation to him when he poked his head in our door and was grateful when he took over. She was soundly sent to bed without any bread or butter and told to stay there.

And I went back to sleep.

TWO hours later (yes, you read that right) I woke up. It had been so long since I felt that rested that I had to re-calculate my whereabouts, name, marital status and date of birth. When I fully came to my senses, a pungent odor filled the air and I could hear some very quick footed children flitting swiftly across the house whispering unknown messages to each other while the walls echoed with their vibrant stampede from one end of the house to the other.

I slowly slipped out from under the down-filled weight of blankets and meandered sleepily out to the land of the living. I stopped in the bathroom and surveyed a stray pair of scissors on the bathroom sink. Scissors on the bathroom sink mean 2 things: Some child has freshly cut hair or some child has freshly cut hair.

The nauseating smell of pickled jalapeno peppers trailed around the house. It was evident the snack had been enjoyed in places other than the dining room table, mainly because I could taste the smell everywhere.

Concerned about the scissors and the peppers, I asked what was going on. My 4-year-old daughter excitedly comforted me with these words: "Oh, Landon is babysitting me Mom!"

For some reason, I didn't feel all that comforted.

I happened to pick up the computer just then and began to examine it. I soon found the computer's 'T' key would not work right and wondered why it was suddenly necessary to pound directly and firmly on that key every time I used it. If I didn't, I had to implement the "backspace" key and re-insert the missing "T" and it was getting annoying. "What did my computer ever do to my kids to deserve this?" I wondered inwardly.

As I pondered this new phenomenon and wondered about the scissors on the bathroom sink, my nose trailed down the offending jalapeno peppers. They were sitting in a bowl under the couch.

Of course. If I was a 5-year-old babysitter, I would totally put pickled jalapeno peppers under the couch too. It made perfect sense.

I then began to question about the scissors, making certain to make no mention of hair. Landon assured me he didn't cut Janae's hair. And Janae assured me she really did cut her own hair this time. She strategically pulled out the lock of hair that was missing the better end of it's length and explained why she needed to do that.

As I tried to wrap my head around WHY my daughter needed to cut her hair, I also tried to rationalize WHY I needed to take a nap. Neither seemed to be the lesser of two evils because the fact is, had I not taken a nap, the hair would not have been cut. Suddenly, my much-enjoyed-nap had become a bad experience.

The moral of this story is that, well... um, I guess there is no moral. Just that it's better to be awake and tired than to be sleeping and not tired.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Pressure, Blogging, And How They Work Together

I blog best under pressure. Like when I'm barely sitting up while enduring the throes of morning sickness. Or suffering under the sleepless nights of a colic baby. Or chasing 3 kids, 3yrs and under. And lately, I've not experienced any of the above since I'm not pregnant, I don't have a baby with colic and I don't even own a 3-year-old anymore. Which is a good excuse for why I haven't blogged.

I'll admit that I've been under pressure in the last how-ever-many-months-it's-been-since-I-went-on-a-blogging-hiatus but not the kind of pressure that makes it easier to blog. When your mind is so mumble jumbled with, well... stuff, it's hard to think about life realistically and recognize the bright things in life.

But today, I'm getting ready for company. And my last batch of company just barely left. And I've been sick with the flu. And Toby was on the phone yesterday for FOURTEEN hours straight (9:30 am to 1:30 --- oh wait, that would be SIXTEEN hours straight) trying to fix an important business computer program that refuses to be fixed so finally he had to go to Best Buy and just up and buy another computer (yeah, just throw that on for kicks... it's "only" a computer) and I have piles of laundry, mounds of dust, a disaster zone refrigerator, a vacuum cleaner's paradise-carpeted-house and a 2 year old cleaning the cold wood stove with wet wipes. Not to mention a page worth of "to-do" stuff to-do today.

And I have a lot on my mind. To sum what's-on-my-mind up, 2009 is a GREAT year to have come to an end. It was just a bad year in general. My "New Year's Resolution" (which I'm always very picky about making New Year's Resolutions) is "Survival Was Fine For 2009, To Do Better We CAN In 2010."

Now it's several days later. And I didn't get my post done before the company arrived. But, what I did do was actually accomplish laundry and entered the New Year leaving all the dirty laundry in the old year. I wish I was figuratively speaking but I mean that literally: the clothing, sheets, towels, lines, etc., were all CLEAN before the clock struck midnight.

As for Toby's computer woes, he decided to continue with the tech-support-method of fixing the computer problem instead of spending $,$$$ to replace the whole contraption. He continues to spends hours on the phone and eats supper at his desk. I offered to actually fix the problem for him but when I told him it involved a hatchet, he decided to just put up with the tech-support guy for another few hours.

But, the laundry is still clean, the house is relatively structured and I have some pretty good intentions on re-formatting my life in the wifely/mothering/homeschooling/just-house-keeping-in-general-area of living.

What a great way to start out the year!