Monday, January 16, 2012


I've spent the day untangling.

Literally and figuratively.

First, of all, do I even really need to say it? The tree.

Second of all, my heart's just been a big ol' tangled mess. I needed to take a minute and try to work out the knot. Part of the knot is obvious. My mom is sick. And she is sad. And I'm not there. I struggle every day feeling guilty about not being there, while at the same time feeling so tethered to my life here. I've learned a little skill over the last year called "healthy compartmentalization". I've been using it. But, I think some of my file drawers were starting to spill over.

Another part of the knot has to do with my parenting. Just as with my house and not feeling caught up from the holidays, my ability to intentionally parent has been very low. This happens to me sometimes. Surely I'm not the only one, right? There are times when, for whatever reason, I simply take my hands off the parenting wheel and slip into autopilot. My autopilot is no one you'd like to know.

Coming to this realization is never fun or easy for me. It usually begins with a lot of grumbling about "those kids". And I get confused about all the outbursts and wonder why I'm locked in a power struggle over every single thing. I begin to pray, "Lord, what can I do with THESE kids?" Why don't I see it before this point? Why have I not learned what He's going to tell me every single time? It is always, always time to check my own heart. In the past, I spent a lot of time resentful of this. Don't worry about my saying that in front of God...He already knows...we've dealt with it. Now, I feel genuine sorrow over time lost.

The thing is, it is not an intentional meanness or choosing to be frustrated. It always leaks out when I am not mindful of the condition of my heart. And usually, I tune out my heart when it is in considerable pain. It has been a long time since I have been in this place. And this time my children have paid the price. Nothing makes me more miserable than the thought of that.

I'm having trouble sitting with Him. I don't know what to say. My own pain, the pain of my mom, the pain of my sisters and brother. It's all just too much. And it's not that I'm mad at Him. I have learned to the core of my being about his sovereignty. He gives and He takes. He loves me more than I can ever imagine and always has my best in mind. And all for His glory. I know. But my human heart is so weary. I'm out of words to say to Him. Except for an occasional squeaky "Help me..."

He is working, though. No matter my inability to speak to Him, He is still working. And I can see it, and I know my heart should swell with joy. But the old heart is just not cooperating right now. I still count the gifts, everyday. Even though the feeling of joy is not there as it has been in days past, I still thank Him. And I try to remember that sorrow lasts for the night.

The morning will always come.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Totally forgot a title...


I don't even know where to start. I think, probably, I should start with the fact that 2/3 of my Christmas tree is still standing in my family room. And yes, you read that right, 2/3 of my Christmas tree. Some of you may remember I don't exactly have stellar luck when it comes to Christmas Trees. This year did not disappoint. After I lugged her down from the attic, put her all together, and connected all her plugs, O. Christmas Tree rewarded me with being only half lit. I tried everything short of beating the tree into submission, all to no avail. Finally, I unceremoniously draped some independent lights on the front of the tree (yes, just the front!) and called it a day. Two days later my mom was diagnosed with cancer and I decided we'd be spending Christmas in Knoxville. All decorating came to a halt. When we returned home and I announced it was time to take the tree down, Drew cried. "But we haven't even put any ornaments on it! And we didn't even get to have Christmas at this house!" And so, on January 2nd we hung ornaments on the tree. Only the non-breakables, and they mainly hung 3 feet and under.

I have decided I will not be outwitted by the pre-lit Christmas tree manufacturing industry. It is ridiculous to throw away a whole tree just because the lights are burnt out. (No offense if you've done this...) It's a great tree-really nice shape, easy-ish to put together. I made a plan to just remove the pre-lit lights from the tree. Next year I will just string it with regular lights. Well. I took off the smallest piece, the very top. ONE HOUR AND A HALF later, I had finally removed all the lights. ONE HOUR AND A HALF. Did I mention my hands were bleeding actual blood?

I'll be damned if I'm going to be bested by a Christmas tree. You best believe that in honor of the great work done by Martin Luther King, Jr., I'll be spending the weekend teaching my tree a thing or two about Civil Rights. Mine, that is. Like my right to not throw away a whole tree.

And that's just the beginning.

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about our heater. And our duct work. And all of my regrets about not taking the vocational track in high school.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Play it again, Mom

It's the end of the day and I bear a striking resemblance to Roseanne, circa 1990, in both word and deed.

It's been a wear your bathrobe all day, scream your head off all day, kind of day.

Frankly, I'm a little let down. When I woke up this morning I actually didn't feel like I'd been hit by a truck. Which is saying something since I spent the night on high alert. Drew had some, um, digestive issues before bed, and I was worried we were brewing a full blown stomach bug. So, I spent the night like the mother of a newborn who jolts awake every time their baby moves. Don't be fooled into thinking it was deep love that motivated my vigil. I did not want to change the sheets in the middle of the night.

Anyway. I woke up feeling pretty good. No school today so we could move at a leisurely pace. Fixed breakfast, turned on PBS, and moved on to my to-do list. On my to-do list was a call I was so loathe to make. It was a call to the IT department at the fine educational institution I attend. Fact one about me: I HATE talking on the phone. And I super hate making any kind of service call. You would not believe the amount of self-talk that goes on before I dial the numbers. Fact two about me: I'm terrified of any and all IT people. This is because, it has been my experience, they all think I'm an idiot. And, to be fair, I'm not exactly swift when it comes to matters of technology. I can do the basics, but past that it all just swirls together and my eyes glaze over.

I made the call. Turns out my birthdate was wrong in the system. Apparently this causes quite a problem. And also, apparently, the place to work is the Academic Records office because they don't start answering their phones until 10 a.m.

In the midst of all the phone fun was the never ending nightmare that is the potty training of my daughter. Does that sound a little dramatic?? I invite you here. Come and see. I think you might back down off your initial response. By the time I fixed lunch and no one ate it after melting down over the hunger of it all, I was I put Emily down for a nap, implored Drew to find something to do, read approximately 2 pages of my book club book and slipped into a delicious coma. For around 15 minutes. Then Drew came in to show me he had put all of his Toy Story toys in a garbage bag "just like Andy". Jesus take the wheel...

After nap time we had a birthday party for Grover. Birthday parties for stuffed animals is all the rage at my house right now. I decided to quit stressing for a few minutes and try to have some fun. (I was in major panic mode over all sorts of minutiae today...) I have some serious mom guilt about the fact that I don't really enjoy playing with my kids. Now, give me a craft, or coloring, or a game, and I'm all in. But, just random playing...I'm no good at it. And don't tell me not to feel guilty. I take that about as well as I took being told to "just relax" when I was trying to nurse an infant or two who screamed their ever-loving heads off.

Today, though, I stopped feeling guilty. Want to know why? Because my son is a tyrant. I don't like to play with him because I'm always in trouble for doing it wrong!! It finally dawned on my when he said, "No laughing at this birthday party!" Really?? No laughing at a birthday party? I am SO out of here, then. I was just trying to liven things up with a little "cha cha cha" thrown into the birthday song. Emily thought it was hilarious. Of course, she's the one who got us in trouble...

So, no more guilt. No more will I feel guilty as I mindlessly peruse Pinterest with Drew grabbing at me and saying, "Mom, come play Power Rangers with me." We all know I'd screw it all up and the bad guys would win.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Potty Chronicles

I hope you'll forgive me as I jump around in chronology with my posts. I still want to write about Christmas, and even catch up on some things I missed during my hiatus. Today, though, it's all about the potty. It's real life, people.

Emily has been talking about the potty for a few months now. Off and on we've given it a shot and it has been nothing short of disastrous. My little firecracker is scared to death!! I'll be honest, I did not see this coming. She is so feisty and sure of herself. (Just last night Big Dan and I were talking about how to help her keep that. How to avoid the world beating it out of her. Not that we've experienced that or anything...) But, you bring up the potty and she is a weepy mess. So, I shelved it. And, to be REALLY honest, I was totally fine with that. I was not ready myself. Having a potty trained toddler is a total game changer. I didn't know that the first time around. Now I know. The ease of throwing said toddler in the car and running errands has vanished. It means LOTS of stops in public bathrooms (and we all know how I feel about that), and lots of changes of clothes in the diaper bag.

I mean, I can do it. I've done it before. I just don't relish the thought.

Over the last several weeks, however, Em has been telling me every time she goes in her diaper. Pretty much a sign she is ready. I realized after our false starts that I would need to approach training her very differently than I approached training her brother. For him, if he refused to go, I could threaten to put a diaper back on him and he would be motivated. Emily is more like, "Yes, please, put the diaper back on so I can go about my business!" So, step one: Diapers are not an option. I have given her other choices such as, the totally nude option...undies only...and, of course, commando. She is much more proficient at pulling down her pants than Drew was, so I'm using that as a "fun" part of the process.

Girl is stubborn. The bottom (sorry...) line is, I basically have to sit her on the potty until she goes, which can be a very lengthy process. I know, I know. Most books say this is a terrible idea. But I burned all those books in my parenting book burning party, so I wouldn't know. She has had some good successes. And we hoop and holler and hand out chocolate anytime it happens. I know she is proud when she goes, but I think she is still more scared than anything else.

As evidenced by the fact that she went almost all day without going yesterday. I took off her pjs and diaper at 9:30 (it was my last day to be lazy...) and she stayed dry from then until I put her down for a nap at 12:30. So, yay, for staying dry, but I'm not sure not going AT ALL is a great thing! After her nap, she came out of her diaper and FINALLY went at around 6:30 p.m., just before bed.

You know that whole, you can lead a horse to water thing? Yeah. That.

So, we press on. It will be a lengthy process this time around because of her going to preschool. The toilets at our school are loud and auto flush and obnoxious. I had a little girl in my class this year who was holding it all day just to avoid them! I am hoping though, with all of our other days at home, we'll make some good progress.

We'll see if I can stay dedicated. Maybe I should bribe myself with Hershey's Kisses!