Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Sound of His Voice

After I posted Kelly's Quiet Sacrifice several months ago, many of you have been joining me in prayer for my precious friend with 2 small children, whose husband is currently serving in Iraq. As the Holidays are approaching, I know this is an especially difficult time for those with loved ones away from home. In the midst of this trying season of life, Kelly continues to rely on God and look for opportunities to grow in her faith. She wrote about something God has been teaching her and I hope you are blessed by it, as well. In her own words:

A few days ago I got a call from my husband.

For most people, this wouldn’t be anything more than a normal, every day event. But for me, whose husband is deployed in the Middle East for a year, a phone call is anything but normal. I know that he can’t call very often, but that doesn’t keep me from waiting and hoping and praying that he will. Each time it rings, I answer the phone wondering if it will be what I’m waiting for: the sound of his voice.

My husband’s voice. That voice that I know so well. That voice that tells me if he’s happy or sad; if he’s doing okay or bummed out; if he’s staying strong or growing weary. That voice is so important to me, because in our situation, the words don’t always communicate exactly what he’s thinking or feeling.

This is due to the fact that the location from which he calls is not at all private; instead, he calls from the middle of an “office” occupied by many other people. In fact, the room formerly played the roll of bathhouse, and so, as you can imagine, the acoustics are phenomenal (which is great if you’re belting out the second verse of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” in the shower, but if you’re trying to have a personal conversation, it is less that preferable.)

By the time you consider security concerns and the “there-are-twenty-other-sweaty-Army-guys-listening-to-every-word-I-say-so-I-can’t-exactly-profess-my-unyielding-love-for-you” factor, our conversations can be less than worthy of a Shakespearean poetry award.

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t tell that my husband loves me, or that he misses me, or that he’s sad. I can tell all of those things not so much by what he says, but through his voice, because I know him – we’ve been married for over 7 years -- and that makes all the difference.

My ponderings on the sweet sound of my husband’s voice led me down the path of thinking about hearing God’s voice. And I thought, “Oh, God’s trying to teach me to listen to His voice.” But the more I thought about it and tried to complete the metaphor I was sure God was painting for me, the more confused I became. We don’t really hear the voice of God so much anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. I truly believe that God speaks to us in many ways these days – through Scripture, through His Spirit, through other believers – but I don’t think that many people actually physically hear God. They don’t look down and see God’s caller I.D. on their cell phones. (And by the way, if you do, would you mind forwarding that number to me please?) So as I thought about it, I decided that maybe God wasn’t trying to compare hearing my husband’s voice to hearing His voice.

And I was about ready to chalk it all up to me being a former English teacher just trying to find symbolic meaning in everything, when it hit me.

I might not hear God’s voice. But you know what? He hears mine. He knows it. Each time I pray, He can tell if I’m happy or sad, if I’m doing okay or if I’m bummed out, if I’m staying strong or growing weary. Just like I wait for my husband to call, God is waiting for us to talk to Him. He loves us; He loves for us to tell Him what’s going on in our lives, to share with Him our hurts and our happiness, to ask Him for help and direction and wisdom and hope. But unlike the phone calls with my husband, our conversations with God are private and personal and can be as long or as short as we like.

Through all of this, I realized that God doesn’t just want me to come to Him with a quick list of everything I want, but He wants me to talk to Him, to have a conversation with Him. He wants to hear my voice. Can you believe it? God knows my voice! The Creator of the World picks up His phone when He knows I’m on the other end of the line. He doesn’t just let it go to voicemail, He picks up and listens. And it doesn’t matter so much what I say, or if I get the words exactly right or say things in the right order, because God knows me, and that makes all the difference.

So I encourage you to make that call. Pray. Talk to God. He’s waiting to hear your voice today. He wants to know what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling because He loves you and He loves the sound of your voice.

And don’t worry if it’s been a while since you’ve talked. After all, He’s known you since before you were born.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Spy A Peaceful Car Ride

Park has never been a huge fan of the car. Something about being strapped down and forced to stay in the same place for long periods of time just doesn't appeal to him.

I can't imagine why.

And as unappealing as the car is to Park, hearing hollering and whining for long periods of time while trapped inside a moving vehicle with the culprit of such behavior is equally as unappealing to his mommy.

I can't imagine why.

Although Park has become 100 times more pleasant to travel with as he gets older, I still like to keep some secret tricks up my sleeve for emergency situations (AKA when he reverts back to his former car-loathing self.)

After art class at Grandma's house one day, Park came home with a token item that has saved me some major sanity when he is stir crazy while traveling. The token item is now a permanent fixture in my console, just waiting to be whipped out while stuck in traffic.

Grandma, being the brilliant woman she is, made a little flip book of clip art pictures attached to a string. He wears it like a necklace and uses it to play "I Spy". He gets so involved in searching for all the items in his book that he forgets to be miserable. And I, in turn, forget to spend all my time passing back snacks and toys and remember to concentrate on the road.

And for those of you who have never had the privilege of riding with me, it will suffice to say it behooves all other drivers for me to FOCUS when behind the wheel.

In his "I Spy" booklet there are common things you might see while on the road such as flags, birds, trains, airplanes, trees, trucks, tractors, and so on. You can get as creative as you want and for older children, you can even have them make their own books by drawing the pictures or cutting them out of magazines instead of using clip art. Or for those of you as crafty as I am, you can pass this task off to an unsuspecting Grandma and just pray for the best.

"I Spy" a mom who hopes this trick saves you some sanity, too.

P.S. If the above suggestion doesn't help, please feel free to use my emergency plan B, which I reserve the right to fall back on at any time. Plan B is as follows: Pop a movie into the car DVD player and don't beat yourself up over it. And if you don't own a portable DVD player, may I suggest you put it on your Christmas list this year.

Head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday tips.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

For the Family

For all of you people out there related to me that have been patiently (ha-ha) waiting to see Chris' message from this weekend, WAIT NO MORE. Although the church was generous enough to provide us with DVD's to pass on to his "Family Fan Club", I thought it would be faster and easier to let you know that it is posted online until Dec. 2.

Click here to go directly to it. Our Senior Pastor does an intro, so don't think I've sent you to the wrong link when you see him instead of Chris at first.

(And of course any non-family members reading this are welcome to view it, as well)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Thankful Heart, a Big Win, and a Full Belly

Thanksgiving was a little different for our family this year.

Normally, we load up and head down to my sister and brother-in-law's lake house just outside of College Station. It is a central meeting point for family and most importantly, close proximity for all of us to go see our beloved Aggies whip up on those dreadful Longhorns in the most anticipated football game of the season. We also find time to ingest mass quantities of food and enjoy each other's company, while soaking up life outside city limits.

Thankfully our Aggies found a way to pull off a win without the presence of my family this year, though. After Chris was asked by our Sr. Pastor to preach the weekend after Thanksgiving, we moved the party to our house instead.

My parents, sister, brother-in law, nephews, cousin, in-law's, and even a few neighbors were able to join us. We were treated to seeing Pops celebrate his 6oth birthday by pretending to be a bucking bull, while throwing off grandchildren who squealed in dare devilish delight.

Watching Park and Krew repeatedly scream, "Down,Set,Hut...GO AGGIES!!!" in their 2-year-old voices, while dashing madly throughout the house with a football, was another highlight of the festivities.

Never mind that we were actually watching the Cowboys at that point.

And I must say that it was very enjoyable to forgo the enormous packing job that usually takes place before we travel out of town. Not to mention that watching the Aggie game from our living room afforded some of us the opportunity to scream at the television and throw things, as need be, in the privacy of our own home.

And although Chris still strokes out over Aggie play calling, he did turn over a new "feather" this Thanksgiving in respect to his culinary abilities. Helping our family join the ranks of the deep South by learning to deep fry our turkey this year, he was so proud of his creation that he could hardly stand it. I'm not sure he stopped smiling through the entire process. And knowing that I was not allowed to lay a finger on the pre-cooked, foul creature left me giddy, as well.

As an added bonus, he was able to display his new found expertise twice in one week, since we also had a Thanksgiving gathering with Chris' family the weekend before. Adults enjoyed spending precious time together, while the cousins played until they couldn't find the strength to play anymore.

And since I somehow felt the need to put my Christmas tree up around Halloween, it was very convenient to use as the backdrop for our newest and most dreaded Thanksgiving family tradition.

The Christmas Card Photo Op.

Although I had some serious doubts at first, our feeble attempt at posing 6 children, ages 5 and under, dressed in their matching flannel Christmas pajamas in 90 degree heat, somehow resulted in a beautiful photo.

As long as we aren't planning to mail them out to people who can SEE.

The really impressive part is that all the cousins are still alive and relatively in tact. Well, with the exception of Park's backside, which may have suffered a swat or two after shoving cousin #3 off the brick fireplace and onto the wood floor around picture attempt number 2,452.

All this to say, I'm once again reminded of how much I have to be thankful for this Holiday season. First and foremost, I have a loving Heavenly Father that gave His only Son, so that I could live with Him eternally. And as much as I loved the Aggie victory, that yummy deep-fried turkey, and the joy of time with family, they pale in comparison to an infinity with the One who loves me most.

I hope your Thanksgiving reminded you of the same.

And although I'm not exactly sure how I managed to fit football, fried turkey, rogue children, and a salvation message into the same post, let's just roll with it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Banana Fanna Fo Fanna

Someone should have warned me that saying toddlers are "picky eaters" is the understatement of the year. I would have felt more adequately prepared if I had known that was simply a nice expression for "may love what you fix one day yet spit at it the next."

Park has gone through many dietary phases. At first, he would eat any and everything placed in front of him, but then the downhill slope began. It got so bad at one point in his toddlerhood that it seemed the only foods he found appetizing were any morsels he found on the floor.

And after he thumbed his nose at a nutritious dinner I spent an hour making one evening, I MAY have inadvertently tossed various pieces of the meal on the ground for him to stumble upon. If you are silently judging me right now, it is quite possible your child is still an infant or yet to be born, because I feel certain that anyone who has raised a toddler has reached a similar low point.

Or at least I'll tell myself that.

To make matters worse, what about certain advertising campaigns that are sweeping the nation, petitioning our children to hold out for ice cream and popsicles?

Now don't get me wrong, there is a special occasion place for such sugary goodness in the lives of our kiddos. But, I have a strong-willed son that, given an inch, yanks and pulls to go the full mile. So, I found a compromise that works for our family.

Enter Banana Pops.

In case you were wondering, I used all caps to give them a more sophisticated feel. Did it work?

These frozen goodies are cheap, nutritious, low maintenance to make, and loved by all ages.....husbands included. It doesn't get much better than that. Instructions are as follows: Peel banana, half it, stick a popsicle stick in each piece, and freeze.


And here you people thought I couldn't cook!

Now, if you're wanting something with a little more umph, the same song second verse goes like this: Before freezing, dip the banana in carob (found at most health food stores) and then roll it in wheat germ.

And the best part is, you won't even have to throw it on the floor for your kids to eat it.

(Click on over to Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for me Wednesday tips)

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Not So Greatest Show on Earth

A few weeks ago, Park and I sat outside on the patio in a deep discussion.

"Park, what do you want to be when you grow up?" I asked. I half expected he might say a fireman, since he loves the lights and sounds of firetrucks. Or perhaps a construction worker based on his obsession with all the "worker men" that continue to build new homes in our neighborhood. I also would not have been surprised if he had said pastor, since he daily tells me he wants to "work at church like Daddy."

However, his response caught me off guard. With his sweet little forehead scrunched up deep in thought, he replied, "Well, I probably be a clown, Mommy."


Now, as a former admissions counselor and teacher, I firmly believe it is never too early to educate through the exploration of career options. Therefore, when I heard the circus was coming to town, I knew this was my chance to put my money where my mouth was.

Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted outside the gates by Peppy the Clown. And equally as quickly, Park changed career paths. It seems that Peppy was a little too, well, peppy. In an attempt to share his zest for life with Park, Peppy smiled his huge clown smile and screamed out, "Howdy, Little Man!"

Park screamed, as well, but his sounded more like this... "NO NO NO NO SCARY CLOWN! I Not Like Clowns! Help Me, Hold Me, Daddy!"

See what I mean about the importance of options?

Thankfully the show was a bigger hit than the clowns. His little eyes danced in amazement as elephants pranced around and stood on their hands. He watched, mesmerized, as the lions and tigers dutifully followed orders and acrobats performed death defying stunts with no safety net. It was a magical night for a two year old.

And fortunately, Park's parents were able to watch the show through his eyes, as well.

Because if we would have used our own eyes, Chris and I would have seen a scantily clad Delana the Delightful Dog Trainer prancing her 10 "fabulous" animals around, while one lone pup performed all the tricks. And we would have gotten some good laughs at how the climax of the music seemed to peak about 5 seconds before the tricks actually took place.

We may have also recognized that the animals were better trained than the people. Plus, we would have felt really sad for the poor acrobat that performed an unplanned solo as her fellow compadres did a portion of the routine she had forgotten.

But any way you look at it, it was an evening filled with precious memories that none of us would trade for a million bucks. Which, ironically, was the same price we paid for a corndog. And as an added bonus, Park discovered another interesting career option.

"I be a pony and give rides when I big, Mommy!"

Looks like we'll be buying tickets when the rodeo comes our way.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Creature Named Boy

Something about just having a sister does not adequately prepare you for raising a boy.

I'll never forget the first time I went home with my college roommate. She has two younger brothers that she is crazy about and when she went off to Aggieland they missed her dearly. Upon entering their living room, she was greeted with a pounce to the floor. One brother poked and tickled her mercilessly, while the other held her down in a choke hold. And when the duo finally emerged and turned to meet "the friend", they found me crouched in a corner with a look of sheer terror in my eyes.

Clearly, boy love was foreign to me.

But not anymore. Thanks to Park, I now realize that nothing says I love you like a good body slam. Boys are rough and tumble. A sweet kiss is not complete without a debilitating head butt. It comes with the territory that flying objects will whiz past your head and laying on the floor automatically qualifies you as a human trampoline.

Without a brother, I had no manual to prepare me that bugs would someday be sacred and tractors could be worthy of delightful squeals. There was no way for me to know that mud puddles are made for jumping in or that dirt is a way of life.

Part of my role as a mother is to soften rough edges and cultivate a need for intimacy in Park. Teaching sensitivity and gentleness encourages him to value women and empathize with others. And sometimes I must gently remind him of the different ways to play with Mommy verses Daddy.

But I've also come to realize that the the other part of my role is to allow rowdy, rough behavior and insane risk taking.

The very nature of a man craves adventure and excitement. The fearless spirit that leaps off jungle gyms will someday be unafraid to protect a wife. The adventurous spirit that spontaneously throws himself into mud puddles will accept the challenge of securing provisions for his family. The conqueror of bugs will captivate his kids for Christ.

Things I all too often mistake for aggressive behavior or lack of impulse control are simply the fingerprint of the Creator, who chose to make Park male.

What an amazing God we have, equally equipped with both feminine and masculine qualities, himself. Creating men and women in His own image, He was intuitively aware that one could not prevail without the other.

And in that uniqueness, more of Him is revealed.

The foreignness of boy love has faded away. And in its place is an overwhelming appreciation for the gift of raising a son.

And that's the dirty truth.

(Already a dirt lover at the ripe old age of 8 months)

No Comment

I feel the need to give a shout out to my technologically challenged mom.

The poor sweet woman has been trying for the last 4 months, which would be the entire time I've had a blog, to leave a comment. It has become her personal mission in life.

Yet, try as she may, the whole creating an account thing is blowing her mind, what with the point, click, and crazy password issue and all. I've tried to assure her that leaving an anonymous comment and signing her name would accomplish the same purpose, but she feels it would be "too impersonal".

And although there have been multiple phone conversations attempting to walk her through the process, I fear comment capability is nowhere in her near future.

So, Mom, I want you to take a step back. Remove your hands from the keyboard. Yes, the same hands that are tirelessly typing out precious comments as we speak. Ones that never quite reach being read by the Internet community because the account you think you've created does not actually exist.

Recognize the significance of how far you have already come.

No longer does email elude you. After years of struggling, you finally have the knowledge of how to reply on your own without any prompting from me. And that is BIG for you. You can't control the fact that technology continues to expand at lightning speed, not allowing you time to catch up.

Realize that your voice on the other end of the phone each day far exceeds any comment you can (or can't, as the case may be) leave. And rest in the fact that I already know how much you love me, how proud you are, and how much you enjoy reading Park stories and seeing his pictures. Mainly because you've told me countless times.

I'm simply amazed that you can actually navigate through the World Wide Web to find your way to my blog. The fact that you had me save my site to your Favorites tab is completely irrelevant.

What you lack in skill, you more than make up for in heart.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spray 'Til Your Heart is Content

If this were going to be an ad for the idea I'm about to introduce, it might read something like this:

Tired of the outrageous smell of toddler poop?
Longing for the days before solids were introduced?
Want the benefits of potty-training without all the work?
One quick spray and all your troubles melt away.
Try our Diaper Area Wash:
It's designer perfume for your baby's bottom.

And although this product has a fantastic variety of eclectic usages for both children and adults alike, let me share the secret as to why this is a coveted item in our household.

A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless because you know who you are, introduced me to this product after making the alarming statement that she only bathes her kids twice a week.

My mouth dropped open.

"What about the horrible poopie odor that remains on their bums, even after cleaning with wipes? How can you stand to change the diapers of children who have lingering feces stench caked on their backside? For the love of all things Downy Fresh, help me understand how this is possible!" I screamed.

Does it go without saying that holding my tongue has never come easily?

And with the wisdom only a veteran mom can have, the three words she spoke next revolutionized my existence. (Or at least my son's bottom.)


Simple, but brilliant. Embarrassingly enough, I actually went home to discover that said diaper area wash already resided in my cabinet.

Given to me as a gift, I had somehow skipped over reading the "AREA" word and mistakenly assumed its purpose was to aid in washing cloth diapers. I arrived at this conclusion after ruling out that this product could be intended for washing disposable diapers.

Because clearly, that would make no sense at all.

And since I wasn't using cloth diapers, I promptly stashed it with all the other baby products I had registered for and yet had no idea how to use.

The moral of the story is check your cabinets, folks.

But, in the off chance that you don't have it and need to purchase some, click here. Or, as my ever adventurous Mother-In Law pointed out, you could also make your own. The ingredients include water, witch hazel, calendula, aloe vera, tea tree, and an essential oil (such as lavender).

After single-handedly ensuring the world has a better aroma, I feel my work here is done. And besides that, after typing the word poopie (and yes, spell check, I realize it is not a word) a dozen times, there is really nowhere for me to go from here.

But you, on the other hand, can head on over to Rocks In My Dryer to find the links to more Works for Me Wednesday tips.

Happy Spraying, Y'all!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Price I was Willing to Pay

*Warning: If you are the type of person who is upset that the radio is already playing Christmas music, this post might very well send you over the edge.

It started out very innocently.

Bridget reluctantly asked me to join her and Sarah on a trip to a wholesale store that was opening its doors to the public for a Christmas extravaganza. In all fairness, they were hesitant to allow me to accompany them because they have known me long enough to realize I don't have the shopping stamina it takes for such an outing.

In fact, I vividly remember taking a trip to Canton (a flea market on steroids) with both Bridget and Sarah several years back where I ended up sitting down in an open field begging for mercy.

"Please just leave me here. I can't go a step further. If you force me to look at one more thing it might send me into a Sensory Overload Induced Coma!" I pleaded, hoping that my creative medical terminology would sway them to take pity on me.

Exchanging looks of disgust, they reminded me that we had only been there an hour and I had nothing to show for it. Not to mention we had driven 2 hours just to get there and planned to "stay 'til our cars couldn't fit our packages." Then and there they promised I would never get a shopping invite again.

But this time, I somehow made the cut. Quite possibly because they have both had children that have eaten up all their memory capability since the Canton Disaster, but either way, I was in.

However, after Sarah had to cancel last minute, I believe Bridget feared the trip might be a wash. After all, she was forced into shopping with the same girl who believed simply having a Christmas tree was going "all out". This does not impress people like my mom, sis and Bridget who believe holiday decorating is not complete until every inch of house partakes in the festivity.

Boy, did I surprise everyone, myself included.

Upon entering the Christmas haven of beauty, it was as if something or someone took over my body. Surrounded by endless rows of designer ornaments, beautifully woven ribbon, and insane amounts of sparkly goodness, I was ready and able to endure the shopping marathon. No more sitting the bench for this girl, I was in the game. Once I caught the vision of the transformation that needed to happen in my holiday decor, there was no stopping me.

Bridget created a monster.

So much so, that in my living room, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree currently resides.

Let's just take a moment to let that fully sink in.

Still 2 weeks to go until Thanksgiving, and yet my house already holds massive volumes of Christmas cheer. And as if that weren't enough, Chris, Park and I spent Friday night scouring the town for a second tree that can hold all sentimental ornaments. In my new-found holiday decorating obsession, all homemade ornaments or those with the ugly factor have been banished to a separate existence.

As it turns out, I'm not only an overly-anxious decorator, but an ornament snob, as well.

And although I had some serious reservations about bringing in so many sparkly items that would require mass quantities of cleaning due to extreme glitter shed, Bridget dismissed such notions with a flick of her hand.

"That's a price you've just got to be willing to pay," she explained.

Considering I've still got over a month left for possible Christmas decor additions.....

Well, let's just say , if Sensory Overload Induced Comas do, in fact, exist, you may want to steer clear of our house until the New Year.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Losing the Blanket of Protection (& Other Linus Lessons)

In my pre-child days, when I was the perfect parent who knew everything about raising children, I was a little put off by Linus and the whole unhealthy attachment to his blankie thing.

And considering that by the first week of Motherhood, I had already gone back on everything I said I would "never do when I have children", it's only fitting that a lovey entered the picture.

In the early days, Park had 3 blankies that I tried to rotate. Careful to give each one equal opportunity at winning his affection, I was buying into the plan that he should not get overly attached to one in particular. Just in case, bite my tongue, something bad should ever happen to it.

And although genius in theory, I gave up after a single Bear Lovey swooped in and stole his heart.

The lovey in question became a trusted companion, while the others were left by the wayside. Even, Car Lovey, who is deemed acceptable while inside a moving vehicle, is carelessly tossed aside when Bear Lovey is offered as a viable option. (Are you feeling the creativity of the blankie names yet?)

Time for Plan B.

Ask the sweet friend who purchased Bear Lovey as a baby shower gift to reveal the name of the store where I could find an "in case of emergency" duplicate.

Mission accomplished, store name in hand, and off I went to pull the fur over my son's eyes retrieve the twin bear.

Slight problem.

Who knew a blankie could feed a small village? My heart stopped and I passed out when I learned the value of this tiny treasure. Let's just say Bear Lovey did not come with a small price tag, folks.

Moving on to Plan C.

Guard Bear Lovey with my life and never let her out of my sight.

But even so, I couldn't protect her. Her once elegant texture is now weathered and worn. Her soft velvet fur is matted by the tongue of a sweet boy that strangely takes comfort in licking her. Her body, once sewn tightly to its pristine white blankie, hangs tattered and dirty from being drug through each new adventure.

The ironic thing is, these two have bonded best in times of turmoil. Park finds little use for her when wrapped in my comforting arms or basking in my attention. But in the still of night, while alone in his bed, she means everything to him. In a position of desperate need, their relationship is strengthened. When I leave him in the church nursery or when he is upset that I have told him no, her ears sacrifice their fur to ease his sorrow and share in his trials.

Regardless of her current imperfections or her past price tag, Bear Lovey is trusted, treasured, and relied upon because of her scars.

Thanks to some help from the Holy Spirit and the Bible Study I'm taking, I've come to realize, it is neither feasible nor necessary to guard those things most precious to me. As much as I want to protect the people God has entrusted to my care, the reality is, it is through the pain that they will come to rely upon Him.

Part of intimately belonging to Jesus is sharing in His suffering, and without it, the relationship is incomplete. And though it does not come with a small price tag, difficulties strengthen faith. Through the scars we come to REALLY know Jesus, so we can trust, treasure and rely upon Him with all our heart.

And as much as I want those I love to be free from suffering, I'd rather them be in the Desert with Him than in the Promised Land without Him.

Maybe poor Linus deserves an apology.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Grinch That Stole Daylight

Oh, my dearest Mr. Fall Daylight Saving Time, where do I even begin?

I feel like we have tried to accommodate you in every way possible. We open our home and allow you inside each year, no questions asked. Our clocks bow down to your every wish and command. We even overlooked your tardiness when you decided to arrive late this year.

Yet it seems you have become downright underhanded, sneaky and greedy. Your name implies that you are wholeheartedly devoted to saving our time, marketing yourself in a manner that suggests we will "gain" an extra hour of sleep upon your arrival.

However, in stark contrast, your reality steals hours of outside play and special evening walks from our family.

But even that just wasn't enough for you.

This year, you have taken it a step further by robbing us of beloved sleep, as well. Since your arrival, Park's semi-reasonable 7:45 am wake up time has morphed into an unbearable, middle of the night 6:15 am.

I hold you fully responsible for this disruption. And despite my futile efforts to black out his windows and cling to the darkness, it's as if you penetrate his very being and he is unmistakeably aware of your unwelcome presence.

And if Hubby wasn't such a morning person, willing and able to play in the wee hours of dark thirty, I'm not so certain I wouldn't just sell our clocks and forget I've ever met you.

At least until Spring.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Extreme Husband: Landscape Edition

I read a magazine survey, recently, that said 95% of women wish their man would do more around the house. Apparently, the stereotypical male relies on his wife for the majority of things.

My hubby, on the other hand, takes self sufficiency to the extreme. Being waited on and catered to makes him nervous and uncomfortable. His motto tends to be, "Why would I want anyone else to do for me what I can do myself?"

And truthfully, there is not a lot he can't do. Cooking? Smack your lips kind of good. Cleaning? Not a nook or cranny left untouched. Organizing? To the point of arranging the canned goods in alphabetical order.

Honestly, he is so thorough and efficient at any and everything that it sometimes just gets on my nerves.

Upon arriving home from the honeymoon, I was determined to do everything I felt a "good wife" would do. And I am domestically challenged, so it was a true labor of love. I made beds, I cooked, I did dishes, and so on and so forth.

But, each day I would notice more strange happenings. For example, one morning, I noticed that the bedspread seemed straighter and smoother than when I first had made it. The next day, it seemed like the leftovers were seasoned better than my original creation. I began to fear I was losing it, imagining things to be different than they really were.

Until I discovered the truth.

Everything changed on day 20 of our marriage when I caught him in the act. He was secretly reloading the dishes I had put in the dishwasher an hour before.

The confrontation went down.

"Chris, if I didn't know better, I would think you are going behind me and re-doing all the housework I'm doing. If you are going to come behind me and re-do things, darling, I would just assume to not even do them in the first place."

"Britt, that would be so great. I really would love for you to just let me do this stuff, baby, and sneaking around behind you just takes too much energy and makes me feel dishonest."

My feelings were actually hurt for about .05 seconds before the reality of it all sunk in.

And then it was as if the pearly gates had just opened up and the angels were singing me a private concert. What a beautifully glorious day that was, when I realized I had just married my father, the kind of man who gets up early to make sure your car is warm and gas tank is full. And scrubs toilets better than June Cleaver. Could it really be possible that I could be both born into and married to the last two men on earth that thrive on housework?

Thank you, Mom, for giving me the gene of good taste.

And so, the marital roles were established and agreed upon. He did everything, and I fully appreciated and adored him.

Now fast forward, 5 years later.

I am a stay at home mom, so obviously things have shifted a tad. He still helps tremendously, but I have tried to step it up in the inside our house department. Although he still handles all bills, loves to cook, is the sole vacuum user, and does his share of deep cleaning, I try to limit his role to only taking full responsibility for the outdoor endeavors of home ownership.

And that's probably a good thing since I'm not even sure what those endeavors would be.

But needless to say, Chris is not the stereotypical man when it comes to the domestic skills side. So, imagine my shock when I arrived home from a week at Resort De Grandparents to find this:

Where was my husband and who was this impostor that had greeted me and Park in the driveway?

As it turned out, there was no time for dishes and laundry because the landscaping had received an unexpected Extreme Home Makeover. And when hubby tackles a task, he means BUSINESS. Entire flowerbeds were overhauled, dug out so deeply that we now have the option to someday bury ourselves in our own front yard.

No, sir, there is nothing halfway about my Chris.

Apparently, he took my tree post very seriously, considering our backyard has now been transformed into a full-fledged forest. He planted a total of 12 twigs trees or at least green leafy things that seem to aspire to be trees someday.

But my biggest bewilderment at this point are the cone-like items that are occupying our yard. Upon examining them closely, I have discovered that I indeed have no clue as to what they are, but they bear a terrifying resemblance to this:

Except they are around the neck of the smallest saplings I have ever seen, which hubby meticulously transported from the yards of his sweet parents. Do you see the striking similarity?

Apparently, in a moment of pure gardening selflessness, Chris decided to forgo things such as eating, sleeping and clean underwear to ensure that the people who live in our house in 2107 will not suffer the same treeless existence that we are.

What that magazine survey did not reveal was that the five percent of woman who don't need their man to do more around the house, actually need him to do less in the yard.

Hopefully, project "Landscape Overhaul" may distract him from reloading the dishwasher behind my back, but I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Airing Dirty Laundry

Last week, Challi and I decided to throw caution to the wind and take our collective three children on a 6 hour road trip. Did I mention that those three children are ages 2 and younger? Fun times in the car. But, we have done it before and will do it again because when we have a goal in mind, we'll stop at nothing to reach it.

Especially when that goal is getting to our parents' house, or as we like to call it, Resort De Grandparents. Chal and I spend blissful days of sleeping in, seeing movies, shopping, getting much needed haircuts and massages, and other wonderful endeavors that require babysitters who enjoy our kids as much as our kids enjoy them.

It is a win-win situation for everyone.

We've often joked that when the grandkids are around, Lolli suddenly loses the desire to eat or sleep, for fear she may miss out on some precious time with them. And Pops begins to lose his mind, throwing money around and saying yes to any and everything. Well, everything minus changing dirty diapers and Park's creative finger painting on his wall, that is.

There is something so precious about watching the joy your children bring to your parents and vice versa. And there is something equally as precious about watching that scene unfold from your rearview mirror as you and sister peel out for some getaway time.

As usual, many precious memories were made on this trip. And as much a I would love to share about the church's Fall festival, the playgrounds we visited, or the play dough we made, I feel like it would be a disservice to everyone if I did not use this opportunity to relay Challi's embarrassing moment.

What's a little sister for, right?

So, Chal and I loaded up the oldest boys in the double stroller for a walk in the neighborhood one evening. Shortly thereafter, a truck pulled up beside us. There was a young man driving and a man in the passenger seat, as well.

"Excuse me ladies. Can I ask y'all a quick question," the driver said, and without waiting for a response, he continued with , "Do you ladies like to eat?"

Now about this time, I noticed the deep freeze in the back of their fiery red pick-up truck and realized we were about to get a spiel on why we should buy their frozen meat. As I braced myself for the lengthy roadside presentation we had unfortunately stumbled upon, my sister was preparing to embarrass herself.

"We are actually in town visiting family and besides that, we are happily married. Thank you for understanding," Challi tells the driver, in her charming It's Hard For Me To Hurt Someone's Feelings Southern accent.

I see the men exchange confused glances with one another and suddenly they both smile, as if to say, "Surely she did not think we could possibly be interested in them." Hardly able to contain their laughter, they muttered a brief, "Thank you for your time," before speeding away.

Somehow, she had misinterpreted their feeble attempt to interest us in buying raw meat as an attempt to lure us out on a dinner date. Double stroller, and all. I burned more calories laughing than I ever could have walking.

Challi took it all in stride, seeing as she is no stranger to embarrassing situations, and all. Several months ago, while pregnant with her youngest son, Kage, we were at a children's shoe store. The sweet young girl helping us was making conversation and asking about Challi's due date. The two exchanged pleasantries and discussed various pregnancy topics before Challi proceeded to ask about the girl's due date.

Now, I kid you not, this girl was no where close to being overweight. In fact, she had a very shapely figure and flat little stomach. You could see the look of bewilderment in this girl's eyes as she looked back to see if there was possibly someone else Challi could be talking to that was standing behind her.

No such luck.

After finally realizing she was indeed NOT pregnant, Challi fumbles out some type of apology and we promptly exit the store. Somehow in her mind, sister thought the girl had said something about not being too far along. We blamed it on pregnancy brain, but now I'm not so sure.

At least my sister has given me plenty to laugh about while I'm unpacking suitcases and doing laundry.

Goodbye Resort de Grandparents and hello Casa de Reality.

Halloween Happies

Nothing says Halloween like 80 degree heat, mosquitoes, and a lone ladybug trick-or-treater. But, it's Oct 31 all the same, so I feel obliged to spread some Halloween happiness!

Park's pumpkin that he painted during Art class at Grandma's

One of many visits to the pumpkin patch

BOO! Did he scare you?

Carving a masterpiece with Daddy

Singing Happy Birthday and blowing out Mr. Pumpkin.
Not exactly sure why...

Park dressed up as Mr. Fix It

And he took his job very seriously

Or maybe he thought he was Mr. Smash It

We had enough fun to hold us over 'til next year and we hope you did, too! Now I'm off to kiss my little man goodnight before he turns into a pumpkin'....