Ash Wednesday... Worship on the Throne

I’m not sure why, but some of our most memorable family outings are in the restroom…Hey, don’t judge! When you have three small girls it is all about divide and conquer; so we have a standing reservation in the Family Restroom!

            I have VIVID memories of the five of us in the family restroom at our niece’s cheerleading competition…I was in the stall with one of the twins trying to assist her after she dropped half of her coat in the toilet, while Chuck was helping the other twin at the sink – as she sprayed water all over his face. Meanwhile, Bianca had gotten a hold of our umbrella and was using it as a weapon, whacking Chuck in the shin… All of this happening at once, but seeming to be occurring in slow motion. Chuck was trying to hold it together, while holding a child, and reprimanding another; and he looked over at me to see what I was doing to help the situation…and I was sitting in the bathroom floor laughing uncontrollably – wishing I had a camera crew with me to document this MESS that I call my life.

Read More

Pillow Fight

How many of you can honestly admit that you fight with your child?

Well, you should be ashamed of yourself!

Now, I can completely understand fighting with your kids about bedtimes & boyfriends, vegetables & video games; but what I’m about to admit is pretty embarrassing. You see I’ve stooped so low as to fight with my daughter over a pillow.

Yes, you read that correctly – a pillow. And not even a fancy pillow. No, it’s pink and small and filled with some sort of unidentified, granular object that could be anything from cornhusks (or kernels…. or seeds…whatever you call those un-popped, popcorn looking things that fill the bags people play corn hole with) to BB pellets. Actually, this pillow’s ‘filling’ is too light for either of those objects, so it’s probably filled with some sort of man-made, plastic product that I’ll soon learn leads to cancer – just like most everything else I enjoy in life like fried food and the sun.

Fast food…BB guns…Pillow! (Man, am I scatterbrained! I hope it’s not whatever’s in my pillow:)

So there’s this pink pillow that floats around our house. It usually lives in my room, where I intentionally hide it behind all my other pillows when I make the bed, but every-once-in-a-while it will escape my clutches and wind-up in Bianca’s room. Why? Probably because she’s under the impression that the pillow belongs to her. And why is she under this impression? Well, probably because my mom gave it to her. And when I say gave I mean let borrow.

Yes, I am fighting with my four-year-old over a pillow that doesn’t even belong to us.

Here’s what happened:

Bianca goes to daycare three days a week after preschool – where she has naptime after lunch. All the little boys and girls bring in their pillows, blankets and stuffed animals for this ritual. And becoming trendy at the ripe old age of three, Bianca just had to have a Pillow Pet when she moved up to the Three & Four-Year-Old room. You know that annoying commercial, It’s a Pillow…It’s a Pet…It’s a Pillow Pet?

Anyway, every Friday the pillows and blankets come home to be washed. And it never fails; every Monday I usually forget to take the darn things back to school.

On this particular Monday I was working at my mom’s house, which is closer to daycare, when I realized I’d left my child with no snuggling devices; so she suggested I just borrow a blanket and pillow from her house. ENTER THE PINK PILLOW!

About the same time, I was coming to grips with the fact that I was going to have to part ways with a loyal, dear friend of mine…the Blue Pillow. This pillow had been with me almost four years. He (I assume he was a He…. I mean, he was blue after all) was there for me every night, he went on every vacation with me… But after years of trips through the washing machine, he was beginning to get tired. I mended him several times, but I knew it was time to let him go when his stuffing – his were white, little, round things that looked almost like Vanilla Dippin’ Dots – began to fall out. So it was only fitting that a new pillow had come in to take his place. She (duh, she’s pink) was new and pretty and despite it taking a few evenings to get used to her, she was the perfect armrest for a peaceful night of sleep…. Until that child came along and STOLE her away from me! 

Ya’ll, obviously I have a slight flair for the dramatics…but I’m serious as a heart attack with what I’m about to say next.

Over the next few months, I got by with hiding the pillow at the base of my headboard. (Lord, at this point I think the darn thing needs a name….) And if Bianca ever did ask about her, I would usually get by with shrugging it off with comments like, ‘Gee, I don’t know’ or ‘Maybe you left it at school.’ Really? I’ve stooped so low as to lie to my child?

On the occasional night that she would watch TV in my bed and find the pillow, of course she would want to take it to bed with her. I’ll be damned if I wouldn’t wait until she was asleep, sneak into her room, and steal the pillow right from her own two hands! Awesome! Now I’m a liar and a thief!

And here is the real kicker of all of this…. I could go to any Wal-Mart, CVS… heck, even a truck stop and buy a pillow of my very own! I could even buy two & then return the one to my mother that doesn’t even belong to me. I could buy a whole rainbow of colors, one for every night of the week. After all, they cost about ten dollars.

But NO! I want MINE! Mine, Mine, Mine!!!! (Let’s face it – there’s a little toddler left in all of us.)

Last night I realized I need an intervention. Bianca came and climbed in bed with us around 5 a.m. I asked her to go try to potty so she wouldn’t have an accident in our bed (Isn’t potty training overnight SO much fun?) and while she was gone…I hid the pillow down under the covers so she wouldn’t see it when she got in bed. (Honest to God) Oh, it gets better!

She stumbles back into our room, half asleep, and climbs into bed to cuddle up next to me. In her soft little voice she asks, “Mommy, where’s my pillow?”

I LIED to my sleeping baby and said, “Oh, I don’t know.”

She rolled her little no-pillow head over on the bed to go back to sleep and the guilt washed over me!

“I found it!” I LIED again to cover-up my first lie and pulled the pillow out from under the covers.

“Thanks, Mommy! You’re the greatest, bestest mommy in the whole world.”

 

I’m taking the pillow back to my mom’s today.

Silent Night

Last night I stood in the back of my church sanctuary – holding one of my precious twins – and cried uncontrollably as I watched my four-year-old sing Silent Night with her classmates.

About twenty of them total – three and four-years-old – dressed up like kings and shepherds, stars and angels…My sweet Bianca was dressed like an angel with beautiful wings dipped in gold sequins that sparkled in the sunset flowing through the stained glass windows.

Tears fell as I imagined this entire group of children – innocent, precocious and full of life – erased from this canvas. Then I watched their teachers, Miss Tracy and Miss Laura, patiently guide our children through their song… And I imagined them being gone too. And in an instant, the entire sanctuary had been transformed. Because if you took these people away, you immediately amputated a part of every person in the audience…

And then my thoughts drifted to Robbie Parker, the brave father of Emilie Parker, who somehow found the strength to step in front of the news cameras to tell the world about his beautiful little girl only hours after learning of her horrific death in Sandy Creek Elementary School. I thought about how Robbie somehow found the compassion to offer his condolences to the shooter’s family – letting the world know that the only way to survive this tragedy would be through forgiveness and love.

And as I thought of Robbie Parker and his sweet Emilie I cried not only for them, but also for the events that had happened earlier in the day at my own house….

 

To say that my daughter’s End-of-the-Year school program was a disaster last spring would be a vast understatement. We’d hyped this performance up for weeks, inviting extended family in for the festivities.

Bianca and I had walked to school the night of the recital – her in her bright blue shirt and yellow headband, me following her with my camera. We sang We’re Following the Leader as I marched behind her, grinning ear-to-ear.

We got to church (the place she was baptized, where she attended her first vacation bible school, a place she should feel completely safe) and I left her in the all-purpose room with her teachers and classmates taking my spot in the front of the sanctuary so I could record her performance.

The back doors of the sanctuary opened, and I immediately heard a collective Awww as moms and dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles caught first glimpses of their little ones.

But the wind was knocked out of my sail as I watched Bianca approach the front of the sanctuary with tears rolling down her flush cheeks. What happened? I wondered as my mind raced. She was fine twenty minutes ago….

These are the moments that make you wish there were some sort of Parenting 101 that was mandatory before the hospital allowed you to bring your child home…. Like there was a professor at the hospital grading your exam at the exit doors before allowing you to leave with this most important, super-fragile, human being you’re now responsible for nurturing, guiding, teaching, loving…No Pressure!

They probably don’t offer that class, because they know the majority of us would fail miserably…. Because parenting is the NUMBER ONE example of On-the-Job training….

The truth is, none of us…. even that Super Nanny from Great Britain…. have a clue when it comes to these snap-decision, last-second-play moments.

As I watched Bianca’s procession into the church, I proceeded to run through what I have since come to refer to as the Four-Stages of Stage Fright Damage Control…

1)   Avoidance & Denial – Yep, I sure did continue to smile and videotape as my daughter decomposed on stage, holding her little flag up over her face to try to conceal her tears instead of waving it like her classmates… her little shoulders shaking uncontrollably.

2)    Consoling – After what felt like twenty minutes of this (I’m pretty sure it was more like twenty seconds) I realized I could no longer ignore my child…. So I rushed to the front of the sanctuary and knelt in front of her. It’s all okay, Bianca…. Mommy’s here

3)   Bribery – After several attempts to utilize my sweetest, most-understanding voice – I realized she wasn’t buying it…. So I immediately shifted gears and began whispering that I would buy her pretty much anything she wanted as long as she would stop crying and participate in her program…. Now if that’s not Grade-A parenting, I don’t know what is!

4)   Anger – (The following is not my proudest parenting moment) By the time I realized nothing was working; it was time for Bianca to pair-up with her partner for part of the program. Obviously that wasn’t happening, so here stood one of her classmates wanting to participate…. with no partner. I was so mad – and looking back, six months later, I’m still mad. But now my anger has shifted onto myself.

Why on Earth was I upset with a THREE-YEAR-OLD for having stage fright? I’ll tell you why, because I thought it reflected poorly on me. If I’m being totally honest with myself, I have to admit that I was worried about what other people were going to think or say. Awww, that poor little girl. I wonder what’s wrong with her? I wonder what her parents are like? As I write this I realize even more vividly the absurdity of my thoughts. But that’s what happens sometimes when we’re parenting, we don’t think rationally.

 

Looking back, I should have done things so much different. Like getting up on stage and making a complete fool of myself in order to make my little girl feel comfortable. Or, just rescuing her from the stage and pulling her down onto the floor with me where she could have watched or participated from a much less threatening vantage point – without hundreds of people staring at her.

 

So when the calendar rolled around to Bianca’s Christmas program, my husband and I joked that we weren’t inviting anyone…. We just didn’t want Bianca to feel any pressure this time around. We were downplaying the whole thing –so it wouldn’t be a big deal if she decided not to participate.

But Bianca seemed really excited as the event approached, practicing her songs as she frolicked through the house, so we decided to invite our parents. We talked to Bianca about her program, and she insisted that she wanted to sing and dance with her classmates.

And here we were… The Big Day had finally arrived. I was much wiser now – learning from the events six months ago, right? WRONG!

Bianca began acting-out as I tried to get her dressed. You know, the normal kicking as you try to get them in their panty hose, thrashing as you try to fasten their shoes, threatening that they’re Gonna Scream if you don’t stop!

I tried to remain calm, diverting Bianca’s attention by asking her to practice singing her songs for me… That went over like a ton of bricks as she fell to the floor and insisted I do NOT know the words to Away in a Manger.

I finally got her into her white tights and tank top, which was like dressing an alligator, and we moved in to the bathroom where I attempted to give her two French braids. Do you know how difficult it is to French braid a head as it rotates like Linda Blair’s in the Exorcist? If you’re the mother of a four-year-old girl, I bet you do.

I was quickly reaching the end of my rapidly fraying rope when Bianca looked at me in the mirror and said, “I don’t want to go to my program!”

Did I say she said that she didn’t want to go to her program? What I meant to say was she screamed, whined, cried

What happened next is another one of those parenting moments I am less than proud of…

I clenched Bianca’s braid, put my lips down by her ear and proceeded to tell her – in a less than loving tone – that she was going to PERFORM in her program…or ELSE!

As I raised my eyes back up to the mirror, I caught a glimpse of my daughter fighting to hold back her tears… And I saw an ugly mother staring back at me… And then I saw Robbie Parker… What would Robbie Parker give for one more Christmas program with his little girl? I thought before becoming completely unglued.

I wrapped my arms around Bianca, carried her to the toilet where I rocked her as I repeatedly apologized. “You don’t have to do your program if you don’t want to, Bianca,” I cried. “You can sit in the pew with me if you want to.”

“I’m sorry for being a bad girl, mommy,” Bianca cried too. “I’ll sing in my program.”

 

And sing she did. Not animated and loud like some of her classmates, but quietly and reserved – in her own voice. She shook her jingle bells, she rumpa pum pummed her drum, and she sang Silent Night – as I stood in the back of the sanctuary and cried.

 

I have no doubt that every parent out there tonight feels an indescribable feeling of sadness for all of the families in Newtown, wondering how in the world their lives will ever go on after such horrific tragedy…But I also know every parent out there has felt like they were at their wits end while dealing with their testy child – on more than one occasion.

And it is a very difficult position to be in… As parents we want more than anything to cherish every second with our children. But we also want to guide them and shape them into mature, respectful human beings. And sometimes that means we have to discipline them, which means – at least for a brief moment – we are not their favorite person.

On a daily basis I pray that God gives me patience while dealing with the ‘melt-down moments’ happening on a regular basis in my house. But I also thank God daily for bringing these miracles into my life.

I heard a quote recently that said, “Be child-like, not childish.” I think that sums up what I need to keep in mind while parenting. Bianca is child-like when she acts out, speaks up and jumps around like a wild banshee. I have to remember not to be childish while parenting to that.

And I think we can all agree that after the horrible events in Newtown, the most important piece of parenting advice we can take away is to make sure we tell our children how much we love them…even if we might not like them very much at the moment.

A few of my Favorite Things….

I’ve decided… I’m starting a petition to make everyday Thanksgiving Day. I mean, what’s not to love? Turkey and stuffing, napping, and—if you’re a lunatic—the opportunity to literally shop ‘til you drop (or get pepper sprayed by a fellow shopper…. or get arrested….)

But in all seriousness, is there a more fitting holiday than one where we give thanks? And shouldn’t we be giving thanks everyday?

While I’ve really enjoyed reading all of the thankful Facebook posts this month, it’s as if all of my friends are hitting copy and paste on their computers. They are almost all thankful for the same things…. On November 1, God was getting a ton of love. Then the next week included major shout-outs for husbands and wives, children, parents, sisters and brothers, grandparents…

It wasn’t until people got finished giving thanks for their family that things really got interesting, because this is when people really started to look at the little things in their lives that they are thankful for.

I’ve read a lot about how important it is to live a life of gratitude. The basic premise being that as we show thanks and ‘gratitude’ for all of the things we have in our lives – as opposed to fretting over all of the things missing from our lives – we will attract more positive energy

In order to begin living a life of gratitude, one of the first things you are suppose to do is to create a Favorite Things list. This is a list of 100 things you are thankful for. (Believe me, it sounds a lot easier than it really proves to be.)

And while the first inclination is to just go through that laundry list of relatives and loved ones we’re thankful for… that really isn’t the point. I mean, shouldn’t it be obvious that I’m thankful for my husband (most days anyway….)?

No, I’m thankful for coffee! And that doesn’t make me a shallow person. It makes me human. And while in the grand scheme of things coffee is a very small, unimportant, miniscule part of the universe – it brings a little bit of joy to me. It puts a smile on my face, I’d like to believe a little pep in my step, and I know makes me much more bearable to live with.

So…if I can find that much to be thankful for in a small cup of coffee, I should be able to find so much more to appreciate about those obvious parts of my life.

And when I put my head on my pillow each night and begin to thank God for the greatest parts of my day, I no longer generalize by praying, ‘I’m thankful for my kids.’

Instead I pray, ‘I’m thankful that I got to run a 10k with Brennen today. I got to spend an entire, uninterrupted hour with my fifteen-year-old that didn’t involve a single text, tweet or IM.’

OR

‘I’m thankful for the sword fight I got to have with my girls in the yard today – their first experience with the joy of sticks.’

By learning to appreciate the little things in life, we heighten our senses to experience life’s greatest moments using all five senses.

A life of gratitude truly is…something to be thankful for.

I went looking through an old journal yesterday and found my original list. Here it is….

 

Family (I began my original list writing each family member’s name. By the time I got to twenty, I knew I had to generalize) – friends – photography – writing – books (actual books, with paper pages) – the camera I have – the camera I want – our house that we live in – the house that I want to build one day – my car (even though it’s a lemon) – heat – air conditioning – comfortable shoes – cute shoes – my computer – the guys at the Mac store who help me with my computer – coffee!!!!! – Snow – snow skiing – snow ball fights with my kids (my husband being the biggest kid of all) – marshmallows in hot chocolate – marshmallows for s’mores – the chicken burrito at Moe’s (I think this is what I was eating for lunch as I made this list.) – Internet – disposable diapers – automatic car washes – carpet cleaners (ON A TOTALLY SEPARATE NOTE – REREADING THIS LIST IS SHOWING ME JUST HOW SPHIZOPHRENIC MY THOUGHTS ACTUALLY ARE…WHO THINKS BURRITO, INTERNET, DISPOSABLE DIAPERS….) Disney World – fireworks – flowers – horses – the smell of fresh-cut grass – hiking at Red River Gorge – running – the running playlist on my iPod – Asics running shoes – yoga – Pilates – The Grove Park Inn – TiVo – books on my iPad – cook books – phone calls to the women in my family when I don’t understand a cook book – peanut butter smoothies – hugs and kisses – my conversations with God – my church family – the power of prayer – music – theatre – memories – date night (which now usually involves Dominos and Red Box) – Dominos – Red Box – mindless TV – dancing with my daughters – dancing with my girlfriends – Pull Ups – fashion – salons & spas – hot stone massages – letters in the mail – my coffee maker – the view out my kitchen window – dreams – doctors & nurses –service men & women (this is huge being a police officer’s wife) – democracy – freedom of speech – my tax guy – watching my daughter at gymnastics – hearing my kids laugh – smelling good food – Crested Butte, Colorado – Roatan, Honduras – the hammocks at CoCo View Resort in Roatan – Jonathan Creek on Kentucky Lake – Scuba diving – planes to travel – Xanax to get me on planes to travel – wine – passion – work ethic – coupons – hope – faith – texting –actual phone calls – sewing with my mom, sister and aunt – books on tape (or discs or my iPod) – XM radio – news – debating issues with my husband – staying up all night just talking at my sister’s house – game night – summer days at the pool – old photo albums & journals (that I can show to my daughter) –planning for the future – living for today - ME

Jesus Bless Your Soul Brooklynn Rose, You Pooped in the Bathtub...AGAIN!

I know by writing this blog title I'm simply asking for trouble.... What’s that old expression - Things can ALWAYS get worse?

Obviously, a traumatic event (involving blood or a natural disaster) would trump my evening's activities...but since my husband left two hours ago, I did almost burn my house down. Therefore, I think I'm entitled to feel a little frazzled.

It started innocently enough. I was going to do something nice and healthy and majorly out of character...I was going to cook dinner. You see, after wrangling three small people for eight hours while my husband is on vacation (or what he likes to call work), I can barely put together a complete thought, let alone a complete meal. Apparantly, it's in the best interest of my children that I let my husband cook dinner most nights, because I'm obviously not intelligent enough by 4:30 p.m. to know you should not add oil to a burnt, hot wok.

I thought that when I added to oil to the black, dried, crust on the bottom of my wok - it would just effortlessly flake right off at the slightest touch of my spatula. Oh no, no, no!!! Instead, I was met with a face full of smoke, what I'm pretty sure will amount to third-degree oil burns on my forearms, and a four-year-old saying, "Cool Mommy! You made fire!"

Note to self (and anyone else out there as unintelligent as me) Do NOT try to put a grease fire out by running it under the faucet. I mean, it made sense to me considering that's what the big, strong firefighters come busting into your house with...But as soon as the water hit my wok, the flames grew and my smoke detectors had a field day.

I was waiting for one of my neighbors to call 911 as I opened my front door releasing a cloud of smoke out into the neighborhood. Luckily, a storm was brewing so my neighbors weren't out in their front yard to see me standing on my front porch with a flamethrower of a wok in my hands.

The fire finally disappeared. I scratched the stir-fried veggies and fixed spaghetti. We had a relatively uneventful dinner until the storm gusts approached our house and I saw my lawn chairs flying by my front window. I got my chairs safely tucked beside my house, only to come back in the house to realize I couldn't find Bianca.

"Bianca!" I'm screaming through the house  - worrying she's somehow gotten out the front door with me - only to hear water running in my bathroom. "What are you doing, Bianca?" I ask nervously.

"I'm trying to wash the poopie off of me," she casually responds.

That's just fabulous, I thought ushering Bianca into the bathroom for a bath.

I decide to just throw all three girls into the tub together. Brooklynn goes in first. I turn my back for one second to get Brylee's clothes off only to hear Bianca scream, "Brooklynn pooped in the bathtub!"

I turn around to find an adult-size turd floating by Brooklynn, Bianca straddling the sides of the tub so not to touch the water. I get that cleaned-up, get all three girls in the tub, go to throw diapers away and hear Bianca say, "Well, Jesus Bless Your Soul Brooklynn Rose. You just pooped in the tub again."

Really? Really????

 

So it’s now 6:30 – a mere two hours since Chuck left for his meeting – and I’ve put all of my girls in bed. I can’t take any more. I’m supposed to be going to the gym when Chuck gets home, but I think I’d rather drink a bottle of wine. I think I've earned it. I mean, in the last thirty minutes I've cleaned poop from bottoms, clothes, the tile in front of my toilet, my sink, and the bathtub (twice.)