Sunday, January 27, 2008

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

Last week, after checking my voice mail, I received a hurried message from Chris. I could tell he was on speaker phone and there was quite a bit of joking going on in the background.

"Hey babe, it's me. I'm in a staff meeting right now and we are having a disagreement about some misplaced commas on a camp brochure. Will you call us back and settle the argument as soon as you can? In other words, I need your help in putting these fools to shame."

Well, at that point, there was no need to hear the question. Knowing my hubby all too well, this one was a no brainer. I immediately phoned back and without giving him time to even read the sentence to me, I confidently said, "The correct comma placement is opposite of wherever you think it should go."

Ouch. The cold, hard truth. Chris is guilty of committing Commacide, which I define as causing the untimely death of a meaningful sentence due to excessive comma overuse. And unfortunately, he is not a first time offender.

But I'd have to give him an A+ for confidence and tenacity.

He just wouldn't take no for an answer until the official reading of the question, but let's just say that it proved to be totally unnecessary as I had originally suspected. As my good natured hubby relayed his defeat, I heard spontaneous cheers erupt around the conference room and then the merciless razzing began.

Because if there is one place you can count on being called out, it's in a room full of pastors.

Which might explain Chris' need to prove his intellectual capabilities when he got home that night. Duped into watching Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, he kicked my tail in every math and science question from here to 4th grade. In between giving me the "I'll be the one to help Park with all his homework" look and asking the TV if, "That's all you got?", hubby was busy rubbing my nose in my inability to pull from childhood knowledge. Just as he was about to take a victory lap around the living room, he challenged me to a final question on geography.

"What's the capitol of Pennsylvania?"

Big mistake, buddy. Don't mess with me on my states and capitals. Pops did a stellar job on drilling these into my head like nobody's business. Now if only we could figure out what happened in the multiplication table department. Obviously flashcards were not my love language.

"Harrisburg," I counter, but loose a little confidence when I hear the snorts coming from hub's direction across the couch.

"Harrisburg?? That's your final answer? Let me give you a hint, at least. It's long and it starts with the letter M," he manages to get out between belly laughs.

Searching my brain while eliminating choices orally, I say "OK-I know it can't be Montpelier because that's the capital of Vermont.... So, maybe..."

About this time I see the color drain from his cheeks and I start to smell the aroma of his defeat.

After letting loose with a victory dance that would put Beyonce to shame, I placed a comforting arm around hubby and attempted to help him recover some pride.

"Look on the bright side, Chris. Park's still 4 years away from kindergarten and yet we've already established a division of labor for helping him with schoolwork. Math and science are all you, but just leave history and English up to me."

Because according to laws made in our state's capital (which would be AUSTIN, sweet hubby) there can only be one Commacidal Maniac per household.

And we've already reached our quota.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Answers: The End

Here is the final batch of Questions (go here if you are lost), answered in no particular order. Thank you to everyone who participated and for everyone else that had the tenacity to stick it out. Based on the lengthiness of the post I'm setting before you, that perseverance will serve you well.

"Anonymous" remembered me mentioning a difficult break up from a long term college boyfriend in this post and wanted to know any advice I might have to help ease her pain while she is experiencing a similar situation.

First and foremost, let me just say how sorry I am you are going through this. I have such a soft spot for young girls facing break ups from a first love. And regardless of how much I tell you that God's future is better than the past you are leaving behind, in no way do I want to belittle the pain you are currently experiencing.

My advice would be to cling to God's promises. Let your grief drive you into the arms of your Heavenly Father by using this unexpected time of singleness to study His Word like you never have before. Get involved in a church if you aren't already and if you are, surround yourself with Godly people who are living out their faith. I can honestly say that God had the best plan in mind for me and I'm so thankful that he used that pain to refine my walk and change the course of my journey with both Him and my husband. It was in that heartache that I learned that nothing and no one can fill the place of The Almighty in your life and because of that, Chris and I had a much less difficult transition into marriage. Hang in there, sweet girl, God is just getting started with you!

Tonya wanted to know how I met my husband.

After the aforementioned break up, I moved to Dallas for a fresh start and saturated my life with church involvement. I began co-leading a singles home team, which was equivalent to a large Bible study and accountability group of friends to do life with. After about 6 months, I felt God was moving me to volunteer in youth ministry instead, but I STRONGLY resisted the call.

My reasons were simple. I was a single woman hoping to meet a Godly man and I felt "the odds" were much more in my favor if I stayed as a volunteer leader in singles instead of inundating myself with Friday night football and teenagers. Isn't that sad how we sometimes put God in a box with our limited view and understanding of His power? We try to orchestrate and manipulate situations to "help" Him work out our lives instead of relying on His all knowing wisdom. Ultimately, I succumbed to His leading because I knew in my heart that I wanted His will for my life over my own plan.

Even if that meant being a single gal destined to a life of chaperoning high school proms alone.

But God has a wonderful sense of humor. The same day I took the leap of faith to resign from singles and began volunteering in our church's high school ministry was also Chris' first day on staff in that same ministry. We met when my small group of girls migrated us over to his small group of guys and then miraculously all disappeared, thus leaving me alone in the presence of a man I fell head over heels for. You better believe those same girls were at our wedding a year and a half later, patting themselves on the back for some serious matchmaking skills.

Stacy T. is the wife of a youth pastor at a small church and wanted to know if I find my role as a wife to a youth pastor of a large church more challenging.

I would have to say that regardless of the size of the church, being a youth pastor is a job filled with heavy responsibility. Much like anyone in youth ministry, Chris' role as the Sr. High Pastor at a "mega church" is still to share the truth with a lost generation and to show Christ's love with students who are currently in a critical point in life. Although he has a larger staff and possibly more of a managerial role than if he were at a smaller church, the end result is still the same. That said, I can't imagine that my role in being his wife and helpmate in this journey is more or less challenging than anyone else's. And it helps that we both LOVE what God has chosen for us and feel called to be exactly where we are.

April's question was if I remembered meeting her and was I an English major.

April, of course, I remember. You are a dear friend of my sister-in-law that I had the privilege to meet many months ago. I love meeting new people and even if I do happen to forget names, I hardly EVER forget a face and I will drive myself insane until I place how we know each other. In fact, I actually ran into someone in Barnes and Noble the other day that I had never met before, but recognized from reading their blog. Thankfully, she recognized me, as well, so it wasn't quite as stalkerish when I introduced myself and knew the names of her children.

The second part of the question (about was I an English major) fits nicely with the second part of Stacy T.'s other question about what jobs I had before being a stay-at-home Mommy.

Actually, I graduated with a Journalism degree, mainly because I knew I loved to write and hated Accounting. Which can be a slight problem when you are a Business major, like I was, for 3 long years. But, truthfully, I really didn't have much of a clue what I actually wanted to do with either degree anyway.

Upon college graduation, I spent a year being an Admissions Counselor for Texas A & M, traveling to high schools all over the state, giving presentations and seminars about college preparation, while reading college admissions essays for days on end. I loved the job, but needed a LIFE. So, I moved to Dallas and worked as a Public Relations Specialist for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, which is an absolutely AMAZING place. I did a lot of writing/coordinating for their magazines, newsletters, calendars, and brochures, as well as event planning. After meeting Chris and getting more involved with students, though, I soon realized that teaching high school English would be a much better fit for me, and I did that until resigning when Park was born.

Sharon wanted to know the wall color in Park's playroom.

It is actually a mix of colors, so I typed the code below. After seeing it on a friend's wall, I stole it without a second glance. She is an artist and the mastermind behind the creation, so I must give credit where credit is due. I LOVE the color because, although it actually has some dark brown tones to it, it can appear gray or even slightly purplish. Do I sound as uneducated as I really am when it comes to artistic lingo?


C Yellow Oxide 1 28 0
B Lamp Black 3 6 0
I Brown Oxide 1 24 0

Congrats on the accomplishment of actually making it through the entire post, my bloggity friends! And with that, "Answers" has officially come to an end.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Answers: Round 2

Here is another hodge podge (spelling?) round of answers without a creative introduction. I'm certain you are still reeling from the disappointment that I did not get a chance to post them yesterday. Never fear, this one is lengthy enough to make up for two days worth of rambling reading material.

Tyna asked my favorite color and what my perfect day would look like.

Oddly enough, I'm not 100% sure what my favorite color is. My whole life, I have loved blue, but as an adult rusty orange and browns have stolen my heart, as well. I'm a sucker for fall colors and earthy tones. How's that for a vague answer?

As for my perfect day it would definitely start with sleeping in. I would want Chris and Park to wake me by coming to snuggle up with me in bed, while reading books or just laughing and enjoying each other. Next, I'd head out for a massage and maybe lunch with the girls. I'd come home for some more quality time with my men and after putting Park to bed and having a grandparent babysit, Chris and I would sneak out for a late movie and then stay up talking into the wee hours of the morning. Another scenario would be a day in my PJ's, curled up by the fire with a great book. Of course, I also love the beach and sunshine, so the possibilities are really endless.

Now back to reality because Deidre wants to know what a typical day in my house looks like.

Most mornings consist of Chris and Park eating breakfast together and reading books or watching Mickey Mouse Club, while I grab an extra hour of sleep. Praise the Lord for a husband who LOVES morning. Especially since He "blessed" me with a child that wakes up raring to go when the sun comes up.

After Chris heads off to work, I get us both dressed for the day and then we usually play together for a bit. Next, we do some chores around the house together, AKA make beds, laundry, dishes, and so on. Park is very much into assisting me and sometimes that is more "helpful" than others. But, in fairness, I did pray for him to be a hard worker when he gets older, and clearly the Lord is answering that one diligently.

Next comes lunch, followed by lots of book reading, rocking, singing, and hopefully a very long nap. After nap, which usually is NOT long, we play and read more books. At some point in the afternoon he usually plays in his room for about 45 minutes, while I intermittently squeeze in a phone call to mom and sis, return email,work on any projects I need to do child free, or blog. Around 4 PM my little helper and I cook dinner. Eventually he loses interest and does play dough or colors at the kitchen table while I finish slaving over a hot stove. And on the other 6 nights a week that I don't cook, I color with him.

Relax, I'm kidding. I don't even like to color.

Even though Chris loves to and does a better job of it, I try and cook at least 3 nights during the weekdays. Mainly because I'm a homemaker, for crying out loud, and surely that means I should have some domestic capability of sorts.

And then we enter into what I call the "dark hour". You know, the one where your kids have played with every toy they own, destroyed everything you picked up during their nap, and exhausted all their creative capabilities, as well as your quotient of patience for that day and yet their is still a full 60 min. before The Reinforcement arrives. It's as if the clock is taunting you.

In weather unlike what we are experiencing right now, we usually play outside or go for a walk at this point, but lately we've just read lots of books instead.

After giving you that lengthy run down, I must qualify it by saying that is our schedule about 2 days a week. The other two days, we use the mornings for things such as Grandma's art classes, play dates, the library, my Bible study at church, or running general errands. Friday is Chris' day off, when we do something fun as a family. How's that for more information than you never wanted to know?

Mom22boyz wants to know how we picked Park's name.

Chris and I are those odd people that picked out future children's names on our honeymoon and actually stuck to it. We both loved one syllable names for a boy because we thought it sounded strong. Since we didn't find out the sex of our baby ahead of time (which drove Sarah and Bridget nuts, by the way), we even discussed keeping Park as the name for a girl or boy. We knew we wanted a P name because our last name starts with that and my sister and I, somehow along the way, had decided on starting a tradition of double initialed children because we like to make things difficult on ourselves. (With sons named Krew and Kage, can you take a wild guess at the letter her last name starts with?) Anyway, Park was the result and we chose Ryland as the middle name because that is a family name on my side.

And to answer Raenette's question, we do want another child at some point, who will also have a P name. So keep me in mind if you have some good ones that start with that letter. I'm always open to creative suggestions, although I fully reserve the right not to use any of them:)

Well, that concludes round two of All About Me. Tomorrow I'll be back with a 3rd (and hopefully) final day of answers. Because I don't know about you, but, frankly, I'm sick of hearing about myself.

On that note, I'm off to read YOUR blogs.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Answers From the Book Worm in Me

Let's just pretend this is a creative introduction to me answering some of your questions on reading because without your imaginations, I've got nothing at the moment. On that note, let's get straight to it.

Elizabeth wanted to know my favorite book other than the Bible:

I'd have to say that my all-time favorite book is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It is considered fiction, but is loosely based off the book of Hosea in the Bible. My Mother-in-Law bought this for me when Chris and I were dating, telling me it was one of the best books she'd ever read. At first, I wasn't even sure I wanted to read it because I tend to have an aversion to anything remotely resembling historical fiction. However, about 15 pages into it, I realized I would be reading into the wee hours of the morning because NOTHING could stop me until it was finished.

Even if you don't generally like to read, you will not be able to put this book down. I'm telling you, I have recommended it to just about everyone I know, Christians and non-believers alike, all of which loved it as much as me. And I would loan you my copy, but the last person (you know who you are) who borrowed it actually mailed it to Jennifer Aniston during her divorce from Brad. As of yet, no word on Jen's opinion, but I'll keep you posted:)

Fullheartandhands mama wanted to know what books Park seems to enjoy the most:

When Park was a baby, we nicknamed him The Professor because you rarely saw him without a book in hand. Now, granted he spent most of his time trying to eat them, but somehow that digested into a true love for reading. Although he seems to have a new "favorite" everyday, right now the top 5 books Park requests most are Silly Sally by Audrey Wood , I Promise I'll Find You by Heather Patricia Ward , Because the Greatest of These is Love by Dandi Daley Mackall, Sounds I Remember by Bill Martin Jr, and How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food by Jane Yolen. He also loves to read Bible stories out of My Favorite Bible Storybook for Toddlers, which I actually bought at the Dollar General. Plus, I must mention that he is big fan of Clifford and all of the Curious George collection, hence the curtain incident.

And although these are some of his top picks, he has never met a book he doesn't like. I've even caught him reading some of my parenting books before. Which would probably explain how he seems to always be one step ahead of me in the discipline department.

Stacey wanted suggestions for a toddler that is not interested in being read to very much:

This is a tough one that my sister is also struggling with at the moment. I must admit that I am no expert in this area, namely because I only have one child and he loved books without me lifting a finger. That said, one suggestion might be to make a game of it by setting a timer for 10 minutes and telling them, "Let's see if we can read 3 books before the timer goes off."

I would also be sure to refer to their books when something comes up in conversation. For instance, if Park says something about a lion, I say, "Ooh, I know a special lion. Would you like to meet him?" and then I read him the book, Going On a Lion Hunt. This works for so many different topics and using concepts they are interested in helps them make the connection that books can take them to exciting places where they can learn about their favorite things. You may also try reading books that encourage active participation, such as Peekaboo Zoo by Susan Hood.

Another recommendation is keeping children's books in different locations throughout the house. Reading in Mommy's bedroom is sometimes more appealing than in their own room, simply because it is out of the ordinary. Plus, just continuing to make books available affords them the opportunity to develop a love for reading, even if that just means thumbing through them on their own for now.

And probably one of my best suggestions would be to just continue trying. Toddlers seem to change their minds daily, so you never know when reading may suddenly strike their fancy. Also, I would read to them even if they don't seem to be paying much (or any) attention, such as when they are playing in the room with you. You never know what their little brains soak up while seemingly having inattentive ears. (Sometimes I've learned this lesson the hard way!) I know it seems like a lot of effort now, but the reward will be plentiful later. I hope this was encouraging or helpful in some way.

And let's wrap up day one by stating the obvious. Brevity is not my gift, particularly when discussing something I love as much as books. I'll try and be more concise when answering a different topic of questions tomorrow, but I know myself better than to promise anything.

Well, other than promising that you will need to imagine another creative intro for the second half of this post, as well.

*Please feel free to add some of your suggestions or favorite books in the comments, too.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Who, What, When, Where, Why?

Park loves to curl up with me and read as many books as humanly possible until our eyes cross. Reading is something we both love and sharing stories with him is one of my favorite ways to spend quality time together.

But, lately, he interrupts me with so many questions that my eyes seem to cross before we've even gotten through a word or two. After answering him the first few times, I often turn the questions around for him to answer. And for sanity's sake, I sometimes even say, "We just have to keep reading to find out."

Today before nap time we were reading some of his all time favorite nursery rhymes when he started firing away with the inquisition.

"What's a diddle diddle, Mommy? Where's the cat? Does he have fur? Can I play that fiddle? Who jumped over the moon? Why? Where is the cow's tail? Why can't I hear the dog laugh? Who had fun, Mommy? Where did the dish go? He took the spoon, too? Why did he do that?"

After answering to the best of my ability, he seemed somewhat satisfied and ready to fall asleep. But, not before insisting on taking his wooden spoon from his kitchen set to bed with him, just in case the dish tried to steal it while he slept.

Although the number of questions he asks can sometimes be daunting, I love hearing the things his sweet 2-year-old brain dreams up. Learning what he thinks about helps me know and understand him even better, while strengthening our relationship.

Inspired by my precious Sarah (who was inspired by her mom, who was inspired by her sister, who was inspired by what Meredith at 7000 ft dreamed up), I'm taking that philosophy to my blog, as well, by asking you to bombard my comments with any questions you may have. These questions can be about my life, my opinion on things , or just something in general you think I may be able to answer for you or at least have fun trying. I'm looking forward to hearing what you guys wonder about for many of the same reasons I like Park's questions.

Starting on Monday, I'll choose some to answer for a couple of days. (Assuming you guys want to play along) I'm pretty much an open book, so no reasonable question will be off limits. Well, as long as you don't ask me anything about nursery rhymes, that is.

Unless, of course, your question is what I look like with crossed eyes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Creative Expressions

Bare walls drive me nuts.

And although I do love art work, photographs are what tend to make our house feel much more like a home. We have so many photographs of Park throughout our home that I sometimes think he must get tired of looking at himself, especially since the playroom is bordering on being Park's Wall of Fame. But, at the risk of sounding obnoxious, I must admit I love them all.

Perhaps my favorite wall in the house is a combination of both photographs and art, but with a unique twist.

As a Mother's day gift for me, hubbby did a special photo shoot with Park this past Spring. He took him outside along our back fence, where he had placed a long stretch of poster board as a workspace for Park to create a finger painting masterpiece.

Armed with his camera, he snapped photo's of the entire process. After painting the paper for a while, 20-month-old Park began to lose interest and paint himself instead. Although it wasn't exactly what Chris had originally envisioned, Park's little body art ad lib ended up making the project turn out even better than expected.

After the painting dried, Chris cut out two squares from the artwork that would look the best framed alongside the photos depicting the process of creating them. And, here was the end result:

This is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to dress your walls, while documenting precious memories. It is also easy to adapt to interests and hobbies other than painting, as well as to different ages of children. Just snap pictures of your kiddos while in the process of doing something they enjoy and frame the photos alongside their creations.

And I've definitely decided it's better to be accused of having a Wall of Fame than a n*ked Wall of Shame.

For more Works for Me Wednesday links, you can click over to Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Choking Under Pressure

I've known for a while that I'm not great in a crisis.

Namely after Challi and I once fled the room when my Grandpa was choking on a meatball while eating spaghetti. Plain and simple, we panicked. There he was, gasping for air in a moment of need, and his only two granddaughters tucked tail and ran. Thankfully, my dad was there to step in with the Heimlich maneuver to save the day, but let's just say we made a strong case for chewing carefully when left alone with the sisters.

And I almost forgot the whole horrible incident until tonight. Of course, I should have known that what I lacked in emergency reaction, Chris would more than compensate.

Because my nose is so stuffy right now, closing my mouth to chew up food is pretty much equivalent to suffocation. So, after taking a bite of some pasta tonight, I found myself trapped between bouts of coughing and short gasps for air. But just as I was regaining control of the situation, I got pounced upon from behind, having the wind knocked out of me in the process.

Hearing what he believed to be uncontrollable choking, hubby leaped tall buildings in a single bound.

And before I knew it, he was beating me mercilessly across the back, causing pasta to spew across the kitchen with each whack. Unable to break the cycle of madness, the more he smacked me, the more I coughed, leaving me helpless to regain my breath long enough to scream, "For crying out loud, PLEASE STOP HITTING ME!"

Thankfully, a few seconds shy of having my ribs broken by an overzealous Heimlich attempt, I was able to sputter, "I'm NOT choking! I just can't breath because my nose is so stuffy."

I'm pretty sure I'll be sore tomorrow. I may even need to invest in some Bengay. And after witnessing the dramatic ordeal unfold, it's also quite possible that Park may need some therapy later on down the road. Poor little guy's eyes about bugged out of his head as he ran out of the room in horror.

Clearly, he came by his flight skills naturally.

But even though I was unnecessarily battered for a pseudo crisis, there's no doubt I can depend on my man in a moment of need. (Well at least my big man, anyway, but who am I to judge?)

Which is really comforting since spaghetti is on the menu for tomorrow.

Now, we just have to pray that Chris chews carefully.

Monday, January 14, 2008

One Foot in the Grave and Another on the Chandelier

Being healthy is something you often take for granted until you are sick.

We are blessed with very little illness in our household. We typically follow a high fruits and vegetable, low sugar diet. Well, minus an occasional plate of cookies that Sarah and Bridget sometimes force down my throat are kind enough to bake me. And Chris has been known to throw down some serious ice cream. However, that said, you won't find much sugary goodness in our pantry on a regular basis.

But before you peg us as the picture of self control, I must confess that we don't buy it because we know we would eat it if it was there.

In a matter of minutes.

So, more for our immune systems than our waistlines, we try to maintain a lifestyle that aids in keeping us as infrequent visitors of our doctor's office. Combine that with Chris' ability to ward off any pending illness by simply sleeping for 10 hours straight, and now you understand why he has not taken any medication since I have known him.

Not even a Tylenol, folks.

So, when he came down with a high fever and deep congestion last Sunday, I was certain that with a little rest he would be well by the next day. And even after Monday came and went, I was not yet concerned. Tuesday rolled around and I started to think this bug was the real deal, but changed my mind when he felt much better on Wednesday and Thursday. However, after finding my high energy hubby passed out on the couch at 1 in the afternoon on Friday, I took matters into my own hands.

Between Chris' mystery fever and Park's nagging cough that he hasn't quite been able to shake, I decided it was time to call in the big guns. I squeezed them both in for last minute appointments with our General Family Practitioner. And when Chris asked me to drive, I suddenly feared he might be on his way to meet Jesus. In almost 6 years of marriage, Chris has only been my passenger once.

And that was in a parking lot.

The man was some kind of sick. Following Flu tests and talk of walking pneumonia, I was relieved that the final diagnosis was a severe case of bronchitis gone bad, coupled with some sheet rock inhalation that happened while he was remodeling his office. Poor Park ended up with this:

And his very first round of antibiotics due to some fluid getting in his right lung. Turns out that pesky little cough with no other symptoms was a tad more serious than I gave it credit for.

With Chris half dead and me run down, we were thrilled to find that the medicine in Park's breathing treatment "may cause hyper behavior". And because Park is Park, that basically should have read "will cause toddler to hang from chandelier and require zero sleep, all while singing at the top of his fluid filled lungs for hours on end."

Which in turn had me contemplating a call the doctor's office to see if I could get a hit of that breathing treatment myself, just to survive the weekend.

But on the up side, we discovered that Park seems to have his dad's eye for photography. While we were all sidetracked by silly things like listening to the Dr.'s diagnosis, Park was evidently busy seeing the artistic value in the experience. I found these picture on my camera as proof:

Thankfully, everyone is FINALLY on the mend and at least for today, I'm not taking our good health for granted. I'm also not taking for granted the fact I have a girl's night out planned with Sunni and Keri later in the week. I'm in need of some good laughs and great conversation.

And even though Sunni has an excellent voice and a blog named "The Flying Mum", I feel pretty confident that neither of them will be singing at the top of their lungs while swinging from the chandelier.

And that will be a welcome change.

But then again, that WOULD make for some good laughs and great conversation.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Mommies Wanted: Wimps Need Not Apply

Being a mommy takes some serious stamina.

When Park was a baby, my arms were rock solid. He was like my own personal weight bearing exercise. Toting him around constantly for about the first six months of his life gave me more muscles than I previously had from 4 years as an aerobics instructor in college. (Well, minus the old tummy region, anyway) And even when he started crawling at 6 months, just lugging around all his baby paraphernalia alone gave me some pretty good cardio work-outs.

I remember thinking, do the people who make baby products sit around wondering, “ can I create the most complicated, heavy equipment possible to torture new mothers everywhere? Let's kick them while their down in their sleep deprived state.” I finally concluded that these people either A) do not have children, B) do not have children that weigh above 10 lbs, or C) do not use their own products. It seems like the only reasonable explanation.

And maybe it was the whole first time mom thing, but a simple trip to the mall went something like this:

Dress yourself while alternating baby between the bouncy seat, play mat and swing. Dress baby while trying not to break off his floppy neck or pulling an arm out of socket. Pack diaper bag with a change of clothes in case of a blow-out, burp rag, chew toy, diapers, wipes, diaper cream, Baby Bjorn, and extra socks in case he kicks one off. Throw in some lipstick on the off chance you will actually have a 3o second interval with a free hand to re-apply. Or apply the first time, as the case may be. Toss cell phone in side pocket just as it starts to ring. Try and answer it, but you can't find it due to the 400 compartments that inhabit the massive tote that it takes to encompass above items.

Nurse baby ahead of time to avoid inconvenience of doing so while out in public. Strap baby in infant seat while he screams his head off. Grab 50 lb diaper bag in one hand and 50 lb infant seat in the other. Lock door with "spare hand" and then instantly realize you forgot the pacifier.

Burst into the house, retrieve the paci, and then promptly hear massive explosion, while simultaneously smelling the oh so joyous aroma of a fresh poopy diaper. Change baby, strap him back in, lock door, snap infant seat into car seat base and collapse into the driver's seat. You are finally on your way.

Make it to the mall after encountering massive amounts of red lights, which conveniently make baby cry each time the car rolls to a stop. Heave stroller out of the trunk even though you know full well baby will only last about 10 seconds in it before screaming to be carried. Get stroller open on 15th try. Wipe sweat from your forehead, while congratulating yourself on getting to your destination faster than the previous day's attempt.

Even if you are technically an hour late to meet your friend.

Shop 'til you drop, which is equivalent to about 30 minutes since you were already beyond exhausted before you even got there. Not to mention baby is hungry again.

Repeat above process in reverse.

With Park at the age of two now, getting out of the house is so much easier. However, he still does his part to keep me in shape, but it just looks more like this:

Wrestle him into his clothes. Chase him down to put on his shoes. Run after him with a brush, attempting to tame fly-away locks. Pick his limp body off the floor because he wasn't ready to leave the playground. Heave him into a chair for time-out. Jump with him in the bounce house. Race him across the yard. Give him piggyback rides to the bathtub.

Mothering is not for wimps, that is for sure.

But, I'm learning that the physical strength it takes to carry the load that comes with having a child is only preparation for the emotional strength it will take to watch him get his heart broken for the first time, pull out of the driveway on his 16th birthday, or leave for college.

No, mothering is not for wimps, but wow am I thankful that God chose me for this job. He continues to place me in situations that perfect my work out regimen, knowing I'm in it for the long haul.

And I put my trust in my Personal Trainer, because only He knows the stamina I will need to travel the road ahead.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Marrying into the Sisterhood

Six years ago today my sister was sitting on a beach in Maui, honeymooning with her brand new hubby. As they sat, staring into a romantic sunset while feeling like the only two people on earth, each believed the serenity of that moment would last forever.

Until her cell phone began ringing off the hook.

I'm telling you, the nerve of some people! Barring an emergency, who on earth would call them repeatedly when everyone knew they were off enjoying their honeymoon?

Um, well, that would be me.

"Hey Challi, I'm sooooo glad you finally answered. No, no one is sick. Yes, yes, everything is OK. I'm sure. Yes, I know this is your honeymoon and that I called you on your "in case of emergency only" cell phone, without having an actually emergency to report. But, I wanted you to be the first person to know that we're engaged! Chris proposed!"

"He did WHAT?" she shrieked, "But he PROMISED he would wait until after I got home. Put him on the phone."


Welcome to the family, Chris.

There are certain rules of the sisterhood that you just can't break. And, apparently, rule number #1 is that all proposals must take place when sisters are within a 10 mile radius of one another. Anything further than that could cause unnecessary bodily harm to the fiance. Or at the very least, an earful from future sister-in-law. Especially if the most sentimental of the two sisters is the one that is millions of miles away, unable to share the joy in person.

Poor man.

Clearly he thought he'd covered all his bases. He had asked the father for daughter's hand in marriage. He had hugged the mother and promised he'd take care of baby daughter forever. He had included sister on ring selection and made her privy to proposal timeline. He had even made sure to plan out a very romantic proposal.

But, what he failed to anticipate was the excitement of actually holding the ring in his trembling hands and the hole it would burn in his pocket upon purchasing. Which in turn caused the bumping up of the asking and nullification of the "I'll wait to propose until after future sister-in-law returns from honeymoon" vow.

Thankfully for hubby, sisterhood rule #2 is if a fiance breaks rule #1 because of extreme excitement and desire to proclaim eternal love of baby sister to the world, said fiance is immediately released of any former promises made to honeymooning older sister and forgiven by her permanently.

Which is a really good thing considering that six years ago today, I said yes.

(Well, actually I said, "No Way! Are you serious??? NO WAY!!! Seriously?? Get out of here! REALLY??" To which he replied, "Is that a yes?", but let's just skip past that since it wasn't exactly the reaction I hoped I'd have to the greatest question my heart had ever been asked.)

Chris, I truly believed that I could never love you more than I did in that moment.

If I could go back to that point in time, knowing what I know today, I would have interrupted your wonderful speech that professed your undying love for me. You know, the one that neither of us can actually recall the details of because we were so excited. I would have knocked over those candles in an attempt to fall into your arms a few moments sooner.

I wouldn't have been able to wait for you to finish asking before screaming, "YES!!!"


So much has changed since that day six years ago, including the depth of my love for you. Although I can't see how I'll ever love you more than I do today, I'm 100% certain I will.

Oh, and I can't end this post without mentioning that according to sisterhood rule #3, if one interrupts the other's honeymoon with a phone call, the necessary penance is to publicly acknowledge said behavior 6 years later.

Happy Anniversary Challi and Rob! (give or take 2 days)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Last One to Bed is a Rotten Egg (in the morning)

As I stare at this computer screen, I'm realizing that it is 11:59 PM on Jan 2, and yet I'm already breaking one of my New Year's Resolutions. I knew when I made it that I was probably once again setting myself up for failure, yet I clung to some glimmer of hope that maybe this year would be different and I would actually start going to bed at a reasonable time.

But, hi, my name is Brittani and I'm a Nightowlaholic.

Asking me to go to bed early is like asking Miley Cyrus not to be Hannah Montana. Well, other than the fact that I would actually GAIN sleep whereas she would just LOSE millions.

And really, I wish I had some fabulous reason that I am staying up so late, or some brilliant post to show for my sleep deprivation, at the very least. But instead, it just boils down to many random thoughts and a scary glimpse inside my brain. Without further ado, here is what is currently keeping me awake:

Today I was out and about, running errands with Park, and was stopped in my tracks by something I saw. How is it that I have yet to take down my Christmas decorations, but retailers feel this is the opportune time to reintroduce swimsuits? It is currently 22 degrees outside in TEXAS of all places, so who exactly is feeling the need for a new bikini? Well, that was a bad example because regardless of the temperature, what person in their right mind feels the need for a bikini in general?

Which then jogs my brain back to a trip we once took 150 students on many years ago. The 8th graders were crossing over into high school and to celebrate their right of passage, the student ministry planned a weekend getaway to a large water park near San Antonio.

Apparently some of the female students did not get the "one piece/tankini only memo" and Bridget and I were somehow voted by part of the ministry staff (AKA our husbands) into taking the position of Swim Suit Nazi's. We had the unfortunate job of informing these lovely young ladies of the inappropriateness of their swimming attire. And let's just say that 14 year old girls don't take kindly to being asked to "please change or wear a colored T-shirt" over their fashionable leopard-print bikinis.

Which then leads me into thinking about how I'll have to wear my leopard headband to run errands tomorrow to cover up how dirty my hair really is. I knew I needed to wash it tonight, but I somehow got sidetracked by watching the Supernanny. Something about hearing her say naughty stool in her precious British accent just draws me in every time. Tonight was the season premiere and boy did she stick it to some parents. Truth be told, they were deserving of a good reprimand, but after becoming a parent I'm now more reluctant to scream, "What is WRONG with you people??!!", without walking in their shoes.

Which then reminds me that Park is due a new pair of shoes. His feet are growing at warp speed and if they continue to expand at this rate, he will be able to wear my shoes next month. He definitely takes after his daddy in the big foot area. Really in all areas.

Including that they both wake up way too early for my taste, although I'm reluctant to complain too much since Park is FINALLY back to his semi reasonable wake time pre-Daylight Savings. And usually what I consider crack of dawn works out wonderfully because they get to spend their mornings together while I sleep in until Chris leaves for work. But, tomorrow, Chris is going in early and I am on Park duty.

Which then reminds me that I need to stop with the random post and just go to bed already.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Batteries Not Included

Far be it from me to insult Santa's elves during their well deserved vacation time, but there seems to be a conspiracy taking place, making me feel the need to blow the whistle on the whole operation.

It stands to reason that those who make toys must be getting some sort of a kick back from those who make batteries. It sometimes feels like there is not a toy left on the face of the earth that does not sing, dance, or light up for those who do.

Gone are the days of old where kids actually had to pedal bikes and push things for themselves. Heaven forbid someone would have to exert some energy. With the touch of a button, the toys of today take on a life of their own.

Well, after the deposit of 4,668 double D batteries, that is.

Now I don't know about you, but I don't like the idea of Park playing with toys that are smarter than me. It's just down right creepy. And my own little Energizer Bunny makes enough noise by himself without having help from inanimate little friends that "keep going and going and going", thank you very much.

Despite all the bells and whistle type of games Leap Frog has come out with, I would just rather Park play it the old fashioned way.....Hop over your partner and then they, in turn, hop over you.

No batteries required.

Not to mention that just the amount of engineering skills it takes to simply assemble a toy these days is about as "Vtech"nical as I can handle.

As a rule of thumb, this Christmas we tried to stay away from toys that talked more than Park. Truthfully, it wasn't that hard because, frankly, he talks so much my ears sometimes hurt.

But, even so, we somehow ended up with a kitchen set that requires batteries. And I'm not sure if I should be more alarmed by the fact that this toy reads out recipes that sound better than anything I've ever made or that upon receiving it, Park announced that he could now "cook like DADDY."
However, this was the item that led to my epiphany. (And sorry, Chris, it was not that I need to cook more) Despite what the directions say, batteries are NOT required. I am the parent. The toy is living in my house. Therefore it must abide by my rules while sleeping under our roof. And this mommy decided that seeing Park play imaginatively with his plastic pots and pans was worth bypassing some killer recipes.

Ones that I would probably have trouble following anyway.

So, as the batteries in Park's toys continue to run out, I'm simply not replacing them. I'm making a conscious effort to minimize the flash, so that he can discover his own creative uses for them. And I'm finding that these same toys hold his interest much longer without the added distraction of noise and lights. Not to mention he has invented some pretty comical sound effects while playing.

Needless to say, our house is not going to become a 100% battery free zone. There is always a place for toys with batteries that can enhance the magical experience of childhood. However, those toys will be the exception and not the rule.

So, thank you for your services, Mr. Duracell. However, it seems that I CAN, in fact, stop the copper top. But, if you'd like to be of further assistance, please feel free to send me a rechargeable battery. Seeing as how much energy it takes to keep up with my little man, I'm sure to need a new one very shortly.

*For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, click here.