Monday, December 27, 2010

If You Should Like To Know...

I've been quiet here. I really planned to have something to tell you by now.  There is lots to tell but nothing in the way of a final decision.  Nothing huge either, just lots of little stuff.

We don't even have anything to problem solve or sort through.  Mainly because there is too much to think about. Seems more of a waste of time to think about ALL of the scenarios when we don't have any offers.  I guess one day when we get bored that would be something to do. So far, I am not bored enough.

At this moment there are many irons in the fire. Each one in a different phase. A job in Brentwood, TN should be the first to make an offer.  Carter has been through the whole process and there were quite a few remarks made that more than hinted that an offer would be made. Too bad it was around these holidays or the process could have moved faster. Speaking of that....

A little encouragement to others that finds themselves job seeking at this time of year - The last 3 job offers Carter has received have come at this time of year. Two in 2007 and one last year at this time.  This is NOT a "bad time" of year to be looking for work.  Companies are still recruiting so keep plugging. Other job seekers may be taking a break on submitting their resumes because they are busy now or they subscribe to the thinking that it is a "bad time".  You could be getting a head start.

The position that is the next furthest along is in Lynchburg, VA. I attended college there for 2 semesters and when I left, I REALLY, REALLY made some remarks that would lead you to believe that I would never move there.  This is where God decided to show his humor.  He knows I will go where He leads.  It could be worse.  Carter has had 4 phone interviews and they have been tough. This company is notorious for taking their sweet time in selecting candidates. That is very noble - but we don't have time.  We may have no choice.  This is where God comes in - He can move mountains if he wants to.

Two more potential jobs are in the beginning stages. One phone call we just received today.  An outside recruiter for a company in Roanoke, VA saw his resume and wants to submit it for consideration.  The second job is with Macy's in Portland, TN (North of Nashville).  To those of you that remember when we moved to Atlanta in 2008, we were initially moving to Portland, TN to work for Macy's.  At the time Macy's relocation and medical benefits paled in comparison to Newell Rubbermaid (Atlanta) so we turned down the offer and moved to Georgia.  Last week there was a front page article (featuring my neighbor Nic) announcing that Macy's will be building an enormous distribution center in Martinsburg, WV to be finished in 2012.  In the conversation that Carter had with the Macy's HR contact, she asked if he would be willing to move to TN temporarily and then work in the Martinsburg facility when it was completed.  That would be interesting.  That is the only scenario that mind my keeps trying to work out. I get as far as saying "how would we do that?"  Then I realize that is too much to think about unless it is necessary. I would also need A LOT more information to even begin to think of just 3 possibilities.

I am a planner, not necessarily by nature but by nurture. It feels better to plan and be in control. If you weigh everything and think it through enough then you can make a good decision. Or at least one that looks like a good decision.

And that is where we are. Agonizing more each day when we don't have an offer. Moderately distracted by the new possibilities that keep rolling in.  I have to keep up the hope that if we have this many "bites" we will catch a fish eventually.  This river is not stocked so I cannot even begin to guess what fish we will catch.

Usually I bring it all back to the title of my post at the end. The only way to explain this one is to tell the story I only remember half of.  There was someone (a neighbor, family member or friend) my parents knew and one time they said "If you should like to know... I am sick". Apparently no one was asking but it was important to that person that everyone know. LOL

***Totally forgot to update about the interview Carter had in Ohio with Eddie Bauer. They put a freeze on hiring for that position. They could lift it but we are not holding our breath.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Breaking the news.

If you read my last blog you know I discovered while typing that it may be a good idea to explain what is going on to the girls. 
So when Natalie got home from Pre-K yesterday Carter sat her on his leg and started talking.  He explained that he lost his job and that is why he is not going to work. He told her not to worry about anything but that is why he was here a lot right now. Preparing her for the fact that eventually he will go back to work and not be here like this was also a part of it. Then Natalie looked at him and said. . .

"I want to tell you something... Team Umizoomi is in my room. They are tiny super heroes."
To which I responded "Well can they help Daddy get a new job?"
Natalie says "Noooo (like that was a silly question) they only help kids.  They help with shapes and Bot has a TV in his tummy"
And CUT! That's a wrap people. It went right over her head but at least she knows!

Cara's turn, Carter talked to her alone.  I was just in the other room so I could hear.  She was quiet and listened. When he asked if she had questions or if something was bothering her she told a story about how a boy at school said that he did not love her.
Enter stage left - lesson on what "love" is (the 6 year old version).
I tried to bring it back around and ask her how she feels about Daddy not working. She gives me a HUGE smile and said "I like it, he comes and eats lunch with me at school"
And fade to black. These children are going to be MORE upset that he has to go back to work!!!

Me too frankly. It has been nice having him here. We have only had 2 "disagreements" in these 2 weeks.  This time, for me, is being used to prove to myself that we can handle this.  We don't have to give in to the anxiety and other crazy emotions that are swirling. Keep those feelings "real", don't distort them into something they are not.  That is hard but I am excited to face this challenge. 

We are watching a lot more TV, going grocery shopping together and eating dinner at 5:00 PM. I am pretty sure this is what retirement is like!

Monday, November 15, 2010

And Sometimes You Do Nothing

Last week felt like a month.  At the end of the week we had 2 or 3 promising leads in the job department.  Carter was refreshing his email and refreshing the job searches constantly.   We have accomplished a lot as a family.

Natalie struggled at the beginning of the week (last week). I walked in to her Pre-K classroom to find her not in a chair. She was sitting on the floor and refused to leave. Her sweet teachers said "Natalie would not sit in the chair. She has not really been herself today". And with good reason.  Regardless of the positive of having Daddy here more, regardless of us not fighting, she knew something was wrong. We did not talk to the girls about this. I don't know that they would really understand.  They know Daddy is not going to work. Maybe we need to explain it to them, I don't know.  There are sometimes when I think it's better not to worry them. But then again, they don't know what this means so would it worry them? I was not looking to have a revelation while typing so give me a minute on that one. 

Today was relaxed and we spent most of the morning at Target.  It kept our minds off of the fact that it was Monday and that we could get a phone call or an email.  We did not get either.  Carter's suit is ready and his resume printed for one of the calls we are waiting for. He had a positive phone interview and they asked for a face to face.
Today, I discovered that Natalie can now play games on the computer all on her own.  She needs a smaller mouse though. That thing is huge in her tiny hand.
We have so far survived a stomach virus that could have spread from Cara to all of us.  That child is amazing. She knew something was wrong on Wednesday night and kept telling us her stomach hurt. Her final plea to her Dad had him taking her to the bathroom. Nothing on the floor, straight where it is supposed to go. She is so grown up even when she is sick.  It seemed to come to a screeching halt after the one episode but that night she woke me up several times.  Thank goodness she had no school the next day. I made her stay home on Friday despite her pleas to go to school and proclaiming that she was all better.

Tonight, I am going to sleep. Praying that the sweet dreams that my Mom always wishes me when I talk to her at night will be there when I close my eyes.

Tomorrow, I will need patience and peace of mind. I need to concentrate on taking advantage of the time that we have together.  It's so hard to stay calm when you are frustrated. I know that this is just the tip of the potential frustration.  If tomorrow I have to do nothing and we hear nothing, I hope I do it well.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

If You Just Don't Say It . . .

Have you ever been in a rough patch with bad things all around and done your best not to say "Could it get worse?!" or "What's next?!"?  Or maybe you said it and thought "Dang I just asked for it!". Well I am here to tell you that NOT saying it DOES NOT WORK!!!!!!!!!!

After Dad's accident I never said that. We were hit from all sides almost everyday with new problems. We did not have time to say it.  Mom found a great rehab place for him to go after Shock Trauma released him, 2 days after he was admitted there they called her and said "He is being released tomorrow". Ummm WHAT?  Speechless. At that time he was impulsive (nice word for unprovoked anger and inappropriate reactions) and hallucinating.  There was no way any of us could bring him home. For goodness sake they had him in a locked belt to keep him tied to the bed or wheelchair he was in. He could not go home by himself.  Not one bit of communication happened between us and the staff there.  This was the first time we had contact with his social worker.  The blow by blow is agonizingly long (even though it was only 2 weeks on the calendar) so I won't do it all. 

Honestly that is not even what this blog is about. 

We hit walls everywhere we turned. As I mentioned in my previous blog, when we reached out in desperation we were overwhelmed with people helping us problem solve and find solutions.  Phone conversations between my mom, my sisters and me were filled with a lot of exhaling, sighing and pauses when we just could not breathe.  
Here is a mini lesson in this blog - don't be an ass (pardon my language) all of your life.  You will need those people that you hurt the most. Be grateful, love correctly, give and it will be returned. If you are toxic - your family may just put you in a red hazmat bag an leave you on the corner.  Good lord that would have been easier but that is not what the good Lord wants from us.

Let's go back and remember - We did not say "What else could go wrong?".  It hit anyway.  Superstitions about God and life do not work. So say it or don't say it - it has no bearing.

Dad's full recovery was obvious last week as the evaluations for PT, OT and ST resulted in an "all clear".  He backed out of having 24 hour care and just has day time help.  I'm sure he will be able to stop it all together soon.

On Friday everything was normal. Carter had spent a late night at work Thursday. I dropped the girls off at school and headed home to clean the kitchen floor (yes Nana was coming. hahaa). On my way back to the house, Carter calls me and tells me he is coming home. His job was letting him go, and I don't mean just for the day.

For the sake of anonymity we will call his now former place of work "Paper Clips".  That is just in case I say something bad in the next few paragraphs. I would not want to obviously trash a place.

Immediately I called my mom. That pillar of strength named Sandra has been rescuing everyone in the family for quite a few years solid. I mean no breaks, no rest for the weary.  Not that she does not also have her own issues that need rescuing!  She needed to know what she was driving into but God knew when she planned to have a "Nana sleepover" earlier in the week, that we needed her.

I thought we had time to consider what we were doing. They gave him a choice between adhering to a 30-day Performance Plan or resigning and receiving a severance package.  After a lot of sifting through conversation, when I sent him back for a 2 o'clock meeting, it was clear that there was nothing left there for him.  No tears over that. Paper Clips had made promises and just a few months into employment it was clear that one set of people there wanted him, but the ones charged with using him did not.  That was the theme of the last year "Carter is under-utilized".  Carter clearly asked them at the meeting, if he met all of the criteria laid out in the plan, what would they do with him after. Clear answer "We don't know."  Take the resignation. At least that gives us more time than sticking around a place where you honestly don't have a job.

So far, each day has been different.  There is a focus on doing what is right now. A focus on everything - being open to all opportunities.  I don't like being in limbo but there is this strange peace that I have. It leaves me at times but not for long.  Carter is one of the most motivated people I know. He will not sit and let this hold him down. Again, he reached out and has gotten several phone calls and emails that bring back his confidence and his drive. We shall overcome!  God has prepared me for not being in control. I am ready to stay still and listen.  I may panic but that is not the overall theme of this journey.  At times I can joke (Just like during the thick of things with Dad. My humor returned.) and at times I can smile.  But all it takes to make me cry is a stranger smiling at me - for no reason. They may not know the reason but I do.

God is everywhere if you pay attention.  He was at Chick Fil A this morning reminding me that I have taken my time of silence on this and now it is time to share.  That man smiled at me and showed me that even though I have no idea what expression is on my face right now, there was a smile out there.  Take the chance when you feel led to do something like that.

I am sharing with the possibility of seeming weak, but I want everyone to see God working here.  We all have a testimony. What good does it do sharing our top of we can't share the bottom? You can look at me and know that if it ever happens to you - it is going to be just fine. I have to believe that there is something greater than me going through a sucky time happening here. I am human, I can't promise that I will always feel positive or hopeful.  I will however, still be standing.

My new mantra is "Open Doors, Close Doors". Every time I start to think too much I say it. In my head of course. I don't want to look like a complete nut walking around talking to myself. HA!

To close - I am calling on my prayer warriors again.  I need your support and for you to take my cares to God with me. You are being recruited because of the enormously great job you did with my Dad.  Please know that I will always do the same for you. I am not a good "receiver", I am much better at giving.  God is teaching me to lean, so here we go.... again.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lean, Reach and Stretch But Don't "Jump".

Those of you that know me well, know that talking is not something that is hard for me. In fact being quiet is a physically draining struggle.  (Quit nodding your head now) God has been throwing a lot of lessons my way and here is one that sheds light on a way that I am quiet and I don't need to be.

My Dad's horrific car accident happened on October 16, 2010. As Cara was opening the presents at her 6th birthday party I got a hot tip from a friend there that something was amiss.
She was reading body language and actions. Noticing that a cell phone call that my mom answered sent my sisters actions shifting toward a quiet distraction.  Angie was whispering to Kevin and Ginger walked back in with her hair pulled back.  So I asked, thinking maybe that Dad had called mom and was being weird.  To hear "Dad was in a car accident and is in Shock Trauma"... not what I was expecting at all.  From that moment it was all a blur.  I tried to keep up with the party, getting everyone their parting gifts and saying goodbye.  I texted Carter (Isn't technology great? You don't even have to say it out loud for anyone to hear!) and then 2 other friends at the party who knew that something was wrong. On the ride home we ended up with Samuel, my friend Kelly had Cara's presents and Ginger had my jacket.  It all got done because all of the pieces were working - not on all cylinders as individuals - but as one machine that could still operate despite minor flaws in the parts.

My Mom, Sisters and I have always been able to do this. And do it quietly.  One of the parts may be taken out but the other 3 keep it going so that the 4th can just jump right back in like nothing happened.

Growing up, we were never loud about what was going on.  We made it all look like it was working. There were only a few glaring flaws that were visible - but only to the eye that was watching closely. Watching closely and questioning.  This is where we may have gone wrong but we are making it right.

No one wants to look like a fool, or weak or a failure.  Well some people do but I don't understand them.

After my Dad's accident we went straight to our means of pleading for prayer - Facebook and church.  When I ask for prayer on Facebook it is not merely a means of spreading news under the disguise of asking for prayer.  I REALLY WANT IT!    When I reply to someone and say I am praying for them I MEAN IT!  I challenge you to do the same. Don't type "Praying for you" and then not do it. I have been guilty of that in the past but that is more than over!

As a family we prayed for a miracle, prayed for the craziness that Dad creates to be over, prayed for his healing in every aspect. You would think that severe of a head injury would knock some sense into someone or knock all sense completely out.  We got neither (well so far, I still have faith that it is possible that there will come a day when he is healed of his mental building blocks).  What we did get was a miraculous recovery for Dad that has him exactly back to where he was before the accident. Amazing. It has not even been a month yet. If you know anything about Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), this is nuts. I have friends with experiences that prepared me for a long haul. Long haul of back and forth, progress and regress, relearning the basics. Yeah I got NONE of that! I almost feel robbed, but not really of course.  What takes months/years my Dad did in 3 weeks.  I am so thankful to God for that but mad at the unfairness of this life.

What I witnessed during that time was my miracle. I watched as people came out of the woodwork. People that are always at the surface of my life went into action.  They stepped out and screamed their support.  That support came in so many ways but the main ingredient was someone stepping out of their own life and reaching into mine to make a difference.  Whether they had experience with TBI or had no idea but were open to listening, it all worked. 
Anyone that says that Facebook is of the devil is obviously not using it correctly!!!!!!!!

I cannot even name all of the people that have helped my family in the last few weeks.  Frankly I may not even know some of them at all.  Each time we reached out we were overwhelmed with information and support. Countless responses from people who knew about this type of injury, what we were facing and where to go for services.  You have to ask for help. There are people out there that have something to say!  Don't be afraid that no one else has been through it and you will be alone. Life will easily show you where to put those that are not helpful.  The only way to guarantee that you will be alone is to try and handle it by yourself.  I learned this a little bit when I went through a miscarriage.  No one in my immediate family had been through one.  We were all at a loss. Once I opened up I found several shoulders to cry on that knew my pain first hand.  Even now when I mention it I discover that people I have known for a while have been through it. It's like Breast Cancer, same thing. As soon as you mention that you will definitely understand that you are not alone. Everyone knows someone that has been through it or going through it. Not many people are going to lead into their conversation with those topics so when you need help, YOU have to say it first.

Life is hard but it does not have to be THAT hard.  Lean, reach, or stretch. There is no need to "jump" but if you need to fall or sit for a minute, someone will be there.  Do the same for others. Take time to observe and listen and pray. If you have something to offer, big or small, do it. Don't be afraid.  It could save someone.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Books We Read This Summer (for your Winter enjoyment).

This summer I went crazy with suggestions from seasoned Moms who know this area well.  We did Open Gym, Pump It Up pop in play, free movies, Chick Fil A. These ladies know how to stay busy and have fun during the summer.  They wore me out and I had to wake up early a lot! It was definitely worth it.

My favorite had to be the Library. Something about taking your kids there makes you feel like the best mom in the WORLD!  I know I sounded smart when I told people that we had been there! (OK that is a little overboard)  I have always read to the girls but was not a big reader for myself. I just don't make time for it.

This is a list of books that we checked out this summer. I always like suggestions from other parents because it is hard to just go in and randomly check out books and have them be a hit. I only hit a few duds. Hopefully this helps guide you and can be used as suggestions for Holiday gifts!

My girls were 3 and 5 when I checked these out. Then they turned 4 and 6 so I would say these are suggestions for 
Ages 3-6:
Green - You MUST get this book 
Yellow - I Definitely Recommend
Orange - I Recommend 
Blue - It was OK

Sweet Books:

Max Lucado
The story of Eli (God) and his Wemmicks (us). Punchinello discovers that Eli does not make mistakes. He was made special to just be him. It deals with how others judge us and how we have the choice to let their words stick or to let them go. YOU HAVE TO READ THIS!

Max Lucado
Wemmicks again, this time they are trying to out do each other by having the most and the best. YOU MUST READ THIS TOO!

B. G. Hennessy
 Sweet story about a girl that finds out that "happily ever after" is different for everyone.
Holly Keller
Cara wanted a book about a butterfly and the librarian picked this one. It is sweet and talks about the changes as this duck and caterpillar grow up
Anne Mazer
I liked the illustrations in this book. It was also a pretty soothing before bedtime book (if you read it that way).
Susanna Davidson
 HUGE book about ballet. We did not finish it. It is beautful and perfect for any little girl that is in dance or ballet.  I think they have a smaller version of it now.

Margaret Wild
Nice book about a piglet that accidentally hurts his Dad and goes on a search to find if he is still loved.

Anita Jeram
I think this is by the same lady that does the "Guess How Much I Love You" book. There is another one we checked out recently from her titled "All Together Now". These were Natalie's favorites. Perfect length for reading a few books at bedtime.

Robert Kraus
 Haha I thought this would be good for Natalie but being smaller than everyone else does not really seem to bother her. It never bothered me either. Well except when I am in Walmart and I can't reach something.  It's a cute book, especially if you have a kid that struggles with being behind in anything.

Funny or Cute:
Margie Palatini
My sister Angie told me I had to check this book out. It is one of my favorite books to read.  At first the kids did not share my passion for it but after I read it the 2nd time they loved it.  It is longer and more wordy than some books I have read but this one cracks me up!

Mary Jane Auch
This was a little on the longer and wordy side too. But the illustrations are HILARIOUS!  The story is very cute too. We all liked it.

Mary Quattlebaum
Ehh it was wordy and long but not in a good way. It was not my favorite.  The story did not flow for me. Maybe I should have used my Jersey accent with it....

Mo Willems
All of these Pigeon stories are great. They are low on words but high on humor and interaction.

Robert Weinstock
I like this book about a run away meatball but the girls did not quite share my feelings. It was good but not a fav here.

David Shannon
LOVE LOVE LOVE the illustrations. This book reads just like the character, a little girl.  It incorporates fairies and pretend play and my girls loved it.

Sheena Knowles
Great rhyming book. The moral of the story is that it is best to be yourself but it is a good story that the girls asked for several times while we had it.

For Learnin':
Lori Coleman
This was over my girls heads. They were too young for the specifics of soccer. I thought it was good to show them that girls do play. I will probably try it again this spring when Cara starts soccer again.

Belinda Weber
Most reference book I went for had so many big words - I could barely read them, let alone translate for the girls. They were also loooong. This book was just right. It had big words in it but they were defined at the bottom of the page.  We read a few pages each night and made it through the book in about 3 bedtimes. You could read it all at once. We did that so we could get through 3 books before bedtime without falling asleep.

Jim Arnosky
 This was a good reference book for this age range also. They loved learning about different kinds of frogs. Cara was repeating facts from this book for weeks after reading it. The pictures are great too.

Elaine Greenstein
 Cara LOVES Ice cream. I am pretty sure this is the same author as "Caps For Sale".  It goes on to tell a historical tale of the ice cream come.  We really liked it and it gave me a refresher course on pronouncing names from other countries!

Very good book. In the back it gives you a short biography of Pele.  It is a good book to get kids excited about soccer. 

DK Publishing
 This was a decent reference book. Some of it was a little over their heads. The only reason I did not give it a yellow rating is because I don't remember it that well. It must not have been a hit. Natalie was in a rabbit phase and she did like it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

8 (or more) Things Your Students Parents Won't Tell You

Sort of in response to 13 Things Your Child's Teacher Won't Tell You

In no way do I want to offend any of my teacher friends. I think that article was a bit offensive to parents. This is just for fun. I feel like the relationship between my girls teachers and I is a partnership. I am only just beginning in this area of life.
This article was poorly put together and put legitimate issues in with crap. But here are some things I think (and I am sure others think)...

#1 - I know you have 25+ kids in your care. But only one of them is mine, it's my job to concentrate on that one.

#2 - I send you notes and gifts because I want you to know I appreciate you and acknowledge your work. A thank you note would be nice but even if you just mention it later that let's me know you understand what I am doing.

- Level-headed, intellectual conversation used to be a characteristic of mine. Now I have kids and I am a ball of mush, so don't assume I am a dork because I stumble in the 2 seconds I see you at the meeting.

- I may have a job so the snow days and random holidays/days off cause turmoil for me, not fun.

- If my kid burps, curses, jumps on chairs or cries uncontrollably when food is dropped on the floor. Don't assume I beat them at home or I lack manners. If you think this for more than 2 seconds, you (a) have no kids (b) have only one perfect kid or (c) I have no idea what is wrong with you. This may be the case with some kids but remember - this is from a "normal" mom.

- I wish I could be there all day to make sure that they are nice to other kids and other kids are nice to them.

- I know I should not be a freak and follow the bus to school but seriously how am I supposed to know he/she made it there?!?! I will do it until I feel better about it.

- You can train me on how to be a parent in your class BUT BE CONSISTENT. Don't tell me I can do something one day and the next day act like I am breaking a rule. I pay attention. I too want to be "well-behaved".

Feel free to add your own.....

Monday, May 17, 2010

According to Him (with a capital H)

If you have listened to top 40 music at any time recently you may have heard this song. She starts the song listing the negative things her current love interest tells her she is:
According to you
I’m stupid,
I’m useless,
I can’t do anything right.
According to you
I’m difficult,
hard to please,
forever changing my mind.
I’m a mess in a dress,
can’t show up on time,
even if it would save my life.

She then moves on to list the positive things another man has told her she is:
But according to him
I’m beautiful,
he can’t get me out of his head.
According to him
I’m funny,
everything he ever wanted.

When I listened to this song the first few times I was trying to get the lyrics down so I could sing it in the car properly. Then it started hitting me. . . change that lower case 'h' in the word "him" to an uppercase and she has it completely right. "Him", the guy who gets the uppercase H regardless of his position in the sentence is God.

As I said before, if you have been listening to those radio stations at all lately you have probably heard this song. If you have been within ear shot of me lately, you know that I have been reading a Beth Moore book "So Long, Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us". I picked this book up (OK really my sister Angie picked it up and then my Mom bought me one the moment I said I wanted to read it) after sitting in bed one night feeling like a complete failure.

On my bed, sitting up, in the dark, eyes closed, tears of exhaustion. I got smacked in the face with my problem. This was MY problem. I was expecting everything else in my life, if well orchestrated by me to be successful, to scream back to me "You are awesome!". My husband should be taking notes and following the rules that I set up so that his actions would look me in the face and exclaim "You are right. You are brilliant!" Somehow, no matter how hard I tried to make myself and others do everything the right way, it did not work. I like Dr. Phil's little saying "So how's that working for you?" Not good Dr. Phil, not good at all.

My husband did such a fantastic job of being my Knight in Shining Armor, my Prince on a White Horse for quite a few years. No person can keep that up. No man can do that for you. My husband was not meant to be my security.

When I listen to those lyrics now, the negative qualities, I don't just hear them coming from one man - or a woman- or several men - or even a tangible man at all. They come from everywhere. Sometimes they come from inside us. If they came from the outside, then we take them on and repeat them in our heads. The key is that the one that begins with a capital letter every time He is mentioned - is screaming those good lines at us all the time.

You are beautiful, incredible, everything He ever wanted. He can't get you out of His head. He wants us to make Him proud. Doing what He wants us to do. That is different for each of us. God wants you to come to him with every major and minor detail. He won't get annoyed. He made you with your soft heart and your mind that can't hold on where Massachusetts is on a map but you can sense a friends uneasy soul. He made you funny or caring or creative. You cry at every sappy movie. Maybe you were made with a quick mind and tongue. You have your role and you need to use it for Him to be proud of. Any other security will fail you. He's into you for everything you are "not" according to them.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bless Her Heart

I do this thing with my opinions on people and their actions, similar to using "Bless her/his heart" before an insult. In case you don't know this trick, if you add that statement, it makes it all better and not mean at all. Like "Bless her heart, her teeth are so jacked up". Half feeling sorry for her. Half busting on her. Mine is a bit longer than 3 words. Most of the time it is something like "I can't say what I would do, but I hope I would...".

As I age, I see a lot of danger in judgement, or opinions or what ever you call them. We all do it. I don't think my prefix/disclaimer to my opinion is a cop out. I REALLY believe it. I know what I would like to think I would do when faced with a situation. Most of the time I am taking mental notes. Using my time on this spectator side to remember how it looks and sounds from the outside while noting what works and what does not.

We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path. - Paulo Coelho

When things are said like "That would never happen to my kid" or "My marriage is too strong for that to happen" those are your cues that the opposite is very likely to be true. Honestly I guess your chances are still about the same. My intention is to walk through trials with my head high and more people by my side because I don't look like a fool.

Let's take adultery for example. As much fun as I poke at Tiger Woods (Yes Tiger is still more fun than Jesse James even though he is the latest), I have no feeling about what his wife should do. I have never been through something like that. This is what I hope - if that life shattering event were to occur in my life, I want people around me that HAVE gone through it. How will I ever receive real counsel and really helpful stories if I push those people away by barking my ignorant opinion during their rough time? Even if I bark privately, it will be heard.

Addiction - this area is very specialized. These things get a hold of these wonderful people and turn them into something we don't recognize. Who am I to judge them as evil? What if it is your child? Does that speak to your parenting? Sometimes it may, but there are a lot of times it does not. We can come from perfect families with perfect intentions and still fall hard. Addiction Counselors will be there to help with the technical side of it. But no one can hold your hand better than another mom or wife that has had to search a room to keep them on the recovery track.

Raising children is another area that can be full of opinions. Seriously every kid is different. Why don't people understand that? If I had stopped at 1 child I would have considered myself the best parent ever! I am so glad that I have the reality that is #2. There are millions of battles out there and you have to choose your most important.

Battles I choose:
Saying negative words like "hate", "stupid" and "dumb".
Sleeping in their own bed consistently, not in mine.
Saying please and thank you
Car seat safety

Battles I do not choose:
Everyone eating the same thing for dinner
Limited Television viewing
Strict time lines on potty training
Accelerated Academic Performance

Now I know that there are reasons why parents don't choose the things I have. Everyone has their motivation. I especially understand the co-sleeping because frankly that would have been easier. I felt strongly about that bed being for just Carter and I so I stuck with it to make a routine out of sleeping in their own beds/cribs.
In the same manner I know why they choose the one I have NOT. Some children are very effected by television. Some moms do not enjoy being a short order cook at dinner. I don't really either but I just don't have it in me to struggle over food. The other two - well if you read my last blog you understand why those are not a priority.

"For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you". Matthew 7:2

I want to offer others the same sympathy I would want. The same stares of love without turning my back with a smirk. The strength told hold my tongue and just listen rather than to advise in an area I know nothing about. When it happens, I want to feel supported, not judged.

Let's be honest...

Children are the best reflective surfaces. You can look in a mirror all you want but you will never see as much as you see in them.

My kids are notorious for being loud. Can't handle it? Don't invite me. I do keep a close ear on it but frankly I have volume issues myself. I know the whole "inside voice" thing. Until pre-school came around it was not as important for me to control it at all times. Children being loud when they are playing and having fun does not bother me. Kids need to have good times and don't need to be held to the same standards as adults.
Has anyone ever called me "quiet", "reserved", or "subdued"? Nope.

I have been complaining a lot lately about Natalie ignoring me. When Cara was Nat's age, and younger, she would almost immediately respond. We worked out a little "Marco Polo" kind of game when I needed to know where she was in the house. I would say "Cara say 'Mommy'? and would soon hear "Mommy" from some part of the house.
Natalie could care less. If I am out of the room and ask a question she will nod her head. How do I know that? I saw her do it from around the corner. Most of the time she will just sit there. Even if I am right in front of her I can ask several times and call her name... nothing. I have to touch her arm or block whatever she is entranced in a stare with. I know that boys can be like that. I think it is fine that Natalie is like that really. She is just different but it still throws me off. Until today...
I was walking through Wal-Mart talking to my Mom on the phone with Natalie in the cart. The past few days my mind has been anywhere but here. My mom asks what Natalie wants. I then realized that she has been saying my name repeatedly and I did not react. Just kept on talking and moving. I followed that up by saying "I just don't know where she gets the ignoring thing from".

Reading through some quotes on judgement I saw one that said Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”. That neat little tidbit is from Mr. Carl Jung. You may remember him from Psych 101 class. That could mean we may do the exact things that are annoying to us on the other side of the fence. It also could mean that we can learn about ourselves by how we chose our irritants. We do chose them ya know?! And that is just fine. They are what they are. You either have an apparent reason for it or you just don't know.

My husband is constantly asking me the "why" behind my opinions. Sometimes he gets a list of viable decision making material. Other times he gets "I don't know why, that is just the way it is supposed to be". At least most of the time I can bring myself to say "I don't know". I would rather that than to make up something or use an invalid point and cling to it. I don't like excuses to be used on me so I try my darnedest not to use them. If I find myself struggling to explain my position, most likely it is because I don't know. It is just the way I feel. Emotions cannot be explained. That is why they are generated in the "heart" and not the "head".

Either way, I usually win the fight because I think and talk faster :P

What I want to see reflected in my kids are not rigidly well behaved pint sized adults. I want it to be natural. I want them to be constantly learning. I want them to be polite and caring with others. I don't have goals for them to be perfect students, prom queen or soccer captain. Those things don't serve any purpose for me. I don't care where they go to college, just that they go and pursue a passion.

I am not a rigidly well behaved partially full-sized adult. I could never expect that from them.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Can't Spell the Runny Poop Word and Other Insecurities: Part 2

Just as the title says - I struggle spelling the word diarrhea. Ok so I did spell check on that one. Before that I was SOOOO close though! "diarhea" was the first thing I typed. I wish I could say I was even consistent on misspelling it. I flip flop every time. One thing about me that is strange and at times helpful - I can retain a boat-load of information. What reason is there that I can't hold on to the proper spelling of that word? I can remember that Elmo's moms name is Gladys in one DVD we own. How much sense does that make?

Other words I struggle with are the words that end in "-iage" like Marriage and Carriage. I am constantly ending them in "aige". Being married and having children, having 3 miscarriages and being active in email groups/discussion boards. Not being confident about my spelling of those words became an obstacle. I used a lot of abbreviations and spell check and using other words. That is also what I do with the word diarrhea. Below is a list of substitutions I have used:
-Runny Poop
-Hershey Squirts
-Dookie Soup

I am positive now that this cat is out of the bag, I will retain the proper spelling of the words. Mostly because you will know what I am covering up.

In my 20's I prided myself on my spelling. In fact I made a huge deal out of things being misspelled. I do feel strongly that all legal documents need to have correct spelling. Especially if it is someones name. In fact I feel strongly about names in general even now. It is a NAME. What could be more important than a persons name. It is their identity. OK I am done with that. I guess I still have a little bit in me because I headed toward saying. . . I don't feel the need to make a big deal out of it anymore. My theory on myself at that time was that I considered myself better than other people because I could spell. Did that make me a better employee, wife or friend? No. In fact it made me annoying.

There was no way that made me smarter. The belief that it did made me condescending. Do I make the rules that another person should be measured by? Absolutely not. Belittling people for their inability to perform in an area you feel you succeed in is ignorant. Observe that you have weaknesses, be self-aware first.

Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

I can trace back the reason I act like that to my upbringing. You HAD to be right. If you were right then no one could tell you that you were wrong. Being wrong was the worst thing you could be. My Dad was always right. But he wasn't and I believed what he said though. Now I look back and think "wow he made that up!". He strived to be correct no matter what the cost - even if it meant spontaneously inventing his supporting information. Another reason I pushed to do the right thing was so I would not get in trouble or get yelled at. That RARELY paid off! But I did it for the wrong person. I did it for my Dad and not for God. My Dad was supposed to be my example of God.

I've learned not fall into the easy trap of measuring yourself against others. Using the "well at least I don't.." argument is wrong. As the verse above says, look at yourself closely first and measure yourself against what God has set as the goal.

Can't Spell the Runny Poop Word and Other Insecurities: Part 1

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?

You are a child of God, small games do not work in this world. For those around us to feel peace, it is not example to make ourselves small. We were born to express the glory of God that lives in us. It is not in some of us, it is in all of us. While we allow our light to shine, we unconsciously give permission for others to do the same. When we liberate ourselves from our own fears, simply our presence may liberate others.’

- Marianne Williamson in Return to Love: Reflections on a Course in Miracles

Thanks to not changing the channel when the West Coast Playhouse Disney programming was over, I am watching "Akeelah and the Bee". That quote is part of this movie.

It took me by surprise. I have known for the past few days that I have been struggling with insecurities. There are places and things that I can go/do or talk about that are always sure to bring those feelings out. If I were to name them, that would do more harm than good.

It's not the fault of those places or things. It is a tool that is used to keep the darkness up and the light down. Although, I would love to blame them, taking the heat off of me. I am not making excuses so I don't want it to look that way. I think I am about to open up a can of worms and allow them to be seen, that does not feel fantastic. Take a deep breath and hope that this all comes out correctly.

Show of hands . . . who weighs more now than they did in High School? Before marriage? Before kids? Who looks at those pictures from those previous phases and thinks "I can't believe I thought I was fat then?!" Ponder that for a second. For me, that says to look at the pictures of me now and enjoy them. Even if I never lose weight, I am getting older. There will be something that I will miss about the way I look now. Photos are a great way to look at yourself and fix what you don't like. Seeing the way an article of clothing really fits vs. what you think looks good. Hair, I've caught myself in photos in terrible need of a hair cut.

Unfortunately - photos are not X-rays. What we should be focusing on, is the inside. Believe me, when you do, it shows on the outside. I know this because I wear my struggles on my face. I also know this because God says so.

Proverbs 31:30 - "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting: but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

That does not mean that I cannot be charming or beautiful. Well I don't know about charming. Charming is not a word I want to describe me. I feel that charm is temporary and can be turned on. When people describe me as talkative or funny - I can't turn those off. There have been times I have tried. In church, around my husbands boss, co-workers or his friends, neighbors family - it ALWAYS slips out. Someone always sets me up for a good one liner and WHAM! It comes out. Timing is everything in comedy so my mouth has no time for my brain to pause for appropriateness. If it is funny or even a bit of information that needs to be said it will be said.

The Bible tells us to look closer at our hearts and actions rather than what can be externally viewed with just the eyes. OK so I may have a bigger problem on my hands than being over weight! LOL

I need to consider the source by which I am measured. Who tells me to strive to be "good" and do good for others and who tells me that I need a tummy tuck? Ok more than a tummy tuck but I did not want that sentence to be too long.

James 1:23 - "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror."

I don't want to judge myself by my own reflection. What I think I do is not worth much if it is not what I really do. Just like those old photos, I did not see what most people saw back then. I only saw what a few people and my perception of society said I was. Now I should look at photos and say "Yep I had about 4 chins in that picture because I was laughing so hard"

Monday, January 4, 2010

Will I still love you when I'm 64?

I have noticed that I have been noticing seemingly unhappy neighbors lately. This frustrates me because I really like living here. Considering myself a nice and easy person to get along with, I am at times offended by their non-social ways.
The nice older couple that we have lived across from since we had the house built in 2002 has not always been this way. I still consider them nice but they just seem so unhappy. I asked their next door neighbor about it recently and was reminded about their plans to retire to a piece of property they have been working on. On weekends in the summer we would see them take off and return home with large mowing equipment in tow. Obviously they are taking care of the new property as meticulously as they do the current house.

My Dad became increasingly agitated by neighbors after he retired. There was always a list of license plate numbers on a note pad next to the phone. Placing an orange cone in front of the fire hydrant was his way of reminding visitors or long time residents that there is a law against parking in front of a fire hydrant. I always remember him being a parking Nazi though. Especially around the "circle" or cul de sac. I know the police just loved responding to the calls about the people blocking the flow of traffic by parking around the circle.

My Father-in-law complains constantly about people being in his business. These are the same people he wanted the hospital to release him to after his colon surgery. "My neighbors will help me" said the man who you would otherwise think chased people away from his front door with a broom.

Speaking of brooms that also reminds me of the beating one neighbors cat took from the admittedly un-social freaks (my opinion) that live next door to her. The anti-social neighbor claimed that her cat was used to being the only cat in their yard so she beat the other cat to get it to leave. Dare me to take them some holiday cookies? I don't think so - I don't want to get broomed.

I won't even start on a neighbor that lives on the street behind me that called the police BEFORE 9:30 PM on a kids party. Jealous that you were not invited? Well guess WHY you were not invited? Cranky meanie pants.

Don't get me wrong - I have plenty of WONDERFUL neighbors. I mean really wonderful. As I said, even the one set of unhappy neighbors are still good. But it makes me wonder. . . will I be cranky when I get older?

I don't really get upset about noise. I have only come out of my house one time for a noise complaint. To my defense it was early in the morning (before 9 is early to me, LOL. I don't remember what time it was at that time) and the routine of the dog had changed. But to my offense, it was retarded and random of me to complain that day. That stuff usually does not bother me! Sorry Christie and Dave!

I have made an observation during all of this. When my girls go to college, if we have not already moved for some other reason, I will be moving at that time. I don't want neighbors then. I want to be out somewhere on at least 2 acres. If I can see one or two houses, that is great. I do not wish to be tempted to be the cranky retired lady with nothing better to do than drive around a 300 household neighborhood and tattle on HOA violations. I want my life to be consumed with drinking coffee on my porch and talking to my wild-life friends like I am Snow White.

Here is the house I will buy in 15 years: CLICK ON ME
There is a picture of it at the top.

I am sure I will still see you all at Wal-mart.