Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Mother's Resolve

I don't know much about spiders, and I don't really want to know much about them. But tonight I met an amazing spider, and she deserves some props.

Tonight I went outside and decided to clean off the boys' water table. As I flipped it over, I noticed a pretty large spider residing in one of the holes under the table, along with a large, round spider egg. In an effort to protect my children from being bit, I got out our big spray hose, with the nozzle that we use to wash our cars with. As I sprayed the bottom of the table full-force, I payed particular attention to the hole that this spider and her egg were residing in. I sprayed and I sprayed, for at least a full minute, from all different angles, and I noticed something interesting:

First, the spiders' web was not going away. She had built this seemingly impenetrable web at the entrance to that hole, and no matter how much I sprayed, the web did not fall apart! I have never seen a spider's web that strong before.

Second, as I sprayed directly into the hole, and the spider was flying around in there helpless against the force, she kept trying to hold onto her egg. The minute I would let up, she would immediately run to the egg and put her legs around it. She was doing everything in her power to protect it.

For a moment, I stopped spraying and actually felt compassion for this creature. I realized that both of us were doing what God created us to do - protect our babies. I am amazed. I am totally amazed at God's creation and the instinct that he has given even the smallest of creatures.

I eventually stopped spraying because I realized that this wasn't working. I watched the spider for awhile after I stopped trying to spray her to death. She put her egg in the corner and then went right back to work, weaving her web to make it even stronger.  

Tomorrow we'll figure out what to do with this mama and her egg.  But for now, I have a newfound respect for this spider mom.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blessings, Boogers and the Bible

That pretty much sums up the past 3 days for us:

Blessings - On Sunday night our dear friend Laura from church offered to babysit for us so we could go out for our anniversary. When we got home at around 10:30pm (after eating out and seeing a movie), we saw her standing outside our front door and I thought she got locked out. But as I looked closer, I saw she was CLEANING our front door! Upon entering our house we were greeted by the smell of Clorox wipes and the sight of a shining kitchen from top to bottom! Every nook and cranny of our kitchen had been cleaned, along with every square tile on the floor. She actually had gotten on her hands and knees to clean the floor with the Clorox wipes! Martin wondered if this meant our house looked dirty (but I knew we had just cleaned), but I assured him (as she did) that she was just blessing us and knew we didn't have much time to get to those things very often! What a true blessing and a true friend.

Boogers- Jaden just got over being sick for 3 days with a nasty cold that plugged up his nose at night, meaning we didn't sleep much from Thursday-Saturday. Alas, last night Micah also caught it and we were up all night with him. Usually the first 2 nights are the worst, so we are bracing for another late night tonight. At least they are not both sick at the same time. Poor baby had to miss his first day of school this year, and so there was a lot of TV watching today as he sat with droopy eyes and a clogged nose.

The Bible- Last night I had the opportunity to go to another church to hear Anne Ortlund speak on Discipleship. This was such a compelling and convicting night. She asked us all "who have you discipled?" And "are those people discipling others?" Anne spoke with intensity, reminding us that the church is full of Christians but few disciples. We are used to doing "book studies" but few "Bible studies." We are so busy with worldly activities that we neglect what is most important. She spoke directly to moms - "If you are too busy shuttling your kids around to soccer practice and baseball practice and school events, etc... and you have no time to be discipled or to disciple, you are involving yourself in worldly affairs." (My paraphrase) She was speaking in regards to 2 Timothy 2:4 which says "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer." So true. This made me really want to start a discipleship group according to the model she and her husband have developed (also on their website), and I'm really praying about who to invite for the next 9 months or so.

Lastly, today I attended a luncheon for women in ministry called "The Gathering", and it was such a sweet time. There were 10 of us this week and I shared what God has been teaching me lately (which I'll have to post another time). I am so thankful for being a part of such a great company of women.

That's the latest on this end - I hope you are having a joyful and adventurous week!

Friday, September 19, 2008

9 Years!

Yesterday Martin and I celebrated 9 years of marriage. Well, we didn't actually "celebrate" since he had to work last night, but we are going to celebrate on Sunday by going out to dinner. We were married in 1999 in the same city we now live in, not knowing that 2 years later we would move here and begin our ministry here. (In fact, I vaguely remember saying "I would never move here!" but God had other plans) :)

So, in honor of 9 years of marriage, 2 moves, and 2 beautiful children, I thought I would write 9 things I love about my husband (in no particular order):

1) He is an amazing help to me. He takes care of the boys and cleans the house (a little too much sometimes) :) and never complains about it. He frees me up to pursue my dreams and calling, and I try to do the same for him.
2) He is a loving and encouraging husband. He tells me I'm beautiful when I don't feel it, showers me with kisses even though I have morning breath, and forgives me daily for "just being me" :)
3) He is a better father than I could have ever dreamed.
4) He loves the Lord with all of his heart and seeks Him first, making him a great spiritual leader for our family.
5) He is funny (or tries to be), making me laugh even when I'm feeling down.
6) He has tons of energy, making up for my lack of :)
7) He is very patient (especially with me, with my extreme need for sleep and quietness sometimes).
8) He is a musician. This makes for some fun times and silly songs at random hours throughout the day.
9) He is a good listener, even when I'm ranting and raving about the great deals I got with all my coupons.

God truly knew what I needed when he sent Martin into my life, and I am so thankful. Happy Anniversary Babe! :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pet Peeve

Today I witnessed something that has become one of my biggest pet peeves over the last (almost) 7 years we have lived in this house. We live directly across the street from a school, and parents drive by our driveway and seem to think to themselves, "Wow! A personal parking space just for ME!" So, several times throughout the week, we will have parents park in front of our driveway, or park so close to it that they jut into it by several feet so that we cannot get out with our own car. Last year this happened so many times that we had the school's phone number memorized and they would make announcements over the loud speaker like "Whoever is blocking the driveway of the house across the street, please go move your car" (which we can hear from our house, much to our amusement). There were a few times Martin had to leave for work and couldn't because someone was blocking it by at least 3 or 4 feet.

So, back to today. The school year began about 2 weeks ago and we haven't had a problem until today when I saw a woman actually pull IN to the front part of our driveway, then get out and stand, waiting for her kid, for almost 10 minutes. I couldn't believe it! Now, Martin thinks I'm making a big deal out of nothing. He's like "Well, if we aren't going anywhere, then who cares?" Yes, that is my Phlegmatic husband :) But me, on the other hand, thinks "Someone is parking in MY driveway! This will give everyone a license to think they can do that too! This is against the law and not right!" I know, I'm probably making a big deal out of nothing. See for yourself - what do you think?

For about 10 minutes I walked back and forth through my kitchen like I was planning a military mission. Should I go say something, or not? What should I say? What if she starts yelling at me? What if.... I don't like confrontation. I prefer silent confrontation, but as I stared at her with evil eyes through the window, she didn't see me. So, plan B. I grabbed Jaden (who is so cute nobody could get mad at me while holding him), and I walked towards her truck. "Um, Ma'am?" I said in my nicest "you might find out I'm a Christian someday" voice, "Would you mind moving your truck? We deal with this all the time and I don't want other people to think they can park here." Before I even finished my sentence, she got a look of embarrassment on her face like "shoot! I didn't think anyone was home" and she said "Oh, sure" and got in her truck and drove away.

Wow, I went through a lot of stress for that little interaction right there. It all turned out okay. At least I won this time :) Still, next time I hope the evil eyes work so I don't have to go back out there!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dinner Disaster

Lately I've been increasing my resolve to get more veggies in my boys' diets, so tonight I decided to make another recipe out of "Deceptively Delicious" - Rice Balls. Big mistake. After spending over an hour in preparation, from steaming to pureeing to mixing to rolling to cooking, I realized I could have prepared and baked about 5 lasagnas instead. There are many recipes in that book I do like, but I have found that many of them take a ton of time! This is the second time I tried a recipe where it turned out really bad. Sure, the concept is good - puree some chicken, sweet potato puree, cheese, and rice and form into balls, but the next step is where it turns ugly. Roll them in an egg and spinach puree (where they fall apart under the weight of the "green slime"), then roll them in bread crumbs (to try to cover how ugly they look), then "lightly fry" in oil (she calls for 2 tsp. but I found that I needed more like 1/2 a cup for them to actually cook). About halfway through my marathon cooking session I knew I should just abandon ship, but there was no turning back. Instead I pulled "Plan 2" out of the cupboard (Annie's Mac & Cheese) just as a backup. Good idea, because right when Micah saw the rice balls he said, "Mommy, I don't like these." I begged, pleaded and bribed, but he ended up having mac & cheese for dinner. (Normally I don't beg and plead, but I was desperate for the kids to at least try what I had slaved over.).

So, this is what they were supposed to look like:

Lovely, huh?

But this is what they actually looked like:

Would you want to eat that? Surprisingly, the rest of us ate them (Jaden ate a ton) and they tasted really good. But you shouldn't have to close your eyes to enjoy your dinner.

The funny thing was that I actually went online while they were cooking to see if anyone else had bad experiences with this recipe, and I came across this hilarious blog:
I think I'll lay off the "Delicious" dinners for awhile :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My "Disability"

I use that term rather loosely, because I realize that those with true disabilities might be offended at me calling my "problem" by that name. Today I'm coming out of the closet. No, not like that, don't worry. My whole life I have had an embarrassing problem that only those closest to me know about. But today, I was feeling very thankful (I'll get to that later), so I thought I would share. Who knows - maybe some of you who follow my blog or stumble upon it might struggle with this too. So what is it????? It's called "Hyperhydrosis", otherwise known as "sweaty hands and feet". Now, realize that when I say that, many people respond with "No way!! Me too!" But I'm not talking about clammy hands and feet here. I'm talking about hands that DRIP enough to cause a small puddle. Does this forever change your view of me as you are secretly thinking "Ewww! Gross!" ? :) Let me divulge.

Ever since I was little I have had this problem, which has affected almost every area of my life. In junior high and high school I was petrified to have a boyfriend because he might be repulsed by me after finding out about my problem. In 6th grade I had my first boyfriend and I remember sitting in chapel (it was a Christian school), and he reached over to hold my hand. This was my FIRST time holding a boy's hand, and I was so embarrassed because he felt the wetness right when he grabbed it. I quickly let my hand go and never held his hand again (we broke up a week later anyway - oh, those junior high crushes!) :)

In junior high I couldn't go across the monkey bars for P.E. because my hands slipped right off. I still remember everyone waiting for me and then laughing when I couldn't do it. I had to re-write papers sometimes because they became so soaked that you couldn't read the writing anymore. In the summer I got heat rashes all over my feet, because I couldn't wear sandals - my feet would slip right out of them. So I had to wear socks and shoes all summer long, looking like had no sense of style, again making me feel like an outcast.

Some close friends knew about my problem in college and were very gracious about it, telling me they didn't care and they would always hold my hand if we were in church and needed to join hands. I was known for switching places with people just so I could hold the hands of those who knew me best - and still to this day avoid situations where I might have to hold hands to pray. Just this past Sunday we had to hold hands to pray at the end of church, and the man next to me proceeded to have a 5 minute conversation with me about why my hands were so sweaty. "Is that from pregnancy?" he asked, wondering if maybe it was because of hormones or something. "No", I responded politely. In fact, I thought that would make my problem go away, as it did for my mother, but for me, the problem remained. When I was a teacher and was giving a lecture a few years ago, one of my student's stopped me mid-sentence, raised her hand and said, "Mrs. B, WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOUR HANDS?!" Bummer - I was hoping no one would notice.

I have looked into every option available, from Botox, to "the surgery", to the prescription deodorants, to powder on the hands... you name it. Trust me, people, if it's out there, I've researched it. Right now this is something I have to live with and pray that God will heal me from this someday!

So, why am I thankful today? I am thankful because FALL is coming. What does that have to do with my problem? All summer I have dealt with being overheated because of my sweaty hands and feet (and thankfully, my particular problem does not cause body odor) :) I have thrown many pairs of shoes out because they were soaked too many times. I am tired of people seeing my red feet and asking what's wrong with them. I am tired of using up all the towels to put under my feet on the tile floor so I won't slip and fall when I'm cooking or doing the dishes. I'm tired of having my son's hand slip out of mine when we're out because my hand is too sweaty. When the weather outside is hot, my problem is exacerbated. When it's cooler outside, I deal with this less. Last night I felt the first breeze of the Fall season, and I took a deep breath of fresh air. Little do people know how much I look forward to Fall, and this is why :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The First Day!

Today was Micah's official first day of preschool.  Last night as I laid in bed I had mixed feelings - excitement, sadness, happiness, etc. all mixed together.  Micah was so excited to start school and wore his backpack all day yesterday, even when he sat down to eat.  This morning I expected a few tears, as least on my end, but we made it through the entire morning with no tears at all!  We were so busy getting ready and getting there on time that it went by so fast.  In fact, while I ran into the office for a second, the teacher opened the door and Micah ran in, and I didn't even get to see him go in!  Oh well, at least I got to run in for a second and get some pictures. Micah went to the teacher and started on a craft the minute he got in the room, and he barely turned around to say goodbye :)  Thankfully he's always been good at adjustments like that. 

When Martin, Jaden & I left, Jaden cried the most because he wanted to stay and play with Micah. We went straight to the church where I had a meeting and then went to the Farmer's Market afterwards with the church staff, so we were busy until we picked Micah back up.  I think that was good for me, just to keep my mind off of how badly I missed him in those 3 hours.  

When we picked him up, I peeked through the window and he was obeying the teacher and sitting at the table waiting. I was so proud of him :)  He is already excited to go back, and it seems like he had a really great day.  I could tell he was really tired on the way home because he got pretty cranky, and then he crashed on the floor of his room right after eating lunch.  Overall, a great first day.  

Friday, September 5, 2008

Letting Him Go

On Thursday we went to Micah's "first day" of preschool.  It was really an open house that we got to attend with him for over an hour - his real first day is this coming Tuesday (9/8).  He really did great; he was quiet but played a lot and seemed to enjoy himself.  I think we could have even left and he would have been totally fine.  I was really nervous about meeting his teacher - after all - this is the woman who will "take my place" for 6 hours every week! :)  But she was so nice and really seemed to be a good fit for him.  I asked the teacher a ton of questions about the bathroom - I probably seemed like an over-protective parent :)  But because Micah is still figuring it all out (potty wise) I wanted to make sure he'd have help.  I had all these questions like "what if he needs help pulling his pants up?  or getting his belt off?  or isn't sure what to do?"  After all, he's only EVER used our potty at home.  We're still working on that... 

The GREAT news is that if you remember my last post about potty training, we tried it again over Martin's vacation the last 2 weeks and it WORKED!!!  I had a feeling that Micah would respond better with Martin helping him, and he did.  He has only had 1 accident in two weeks and it was right after a nap in bed.  Yesterday for the first time he stood up to go, too!!!  So now he is standing and peeing, and I can worry less about the potty-issues at preschool (before he would have had to sit down to go and there were all sorts of "issues" with that).  We're still working on the pooping part, though...  He is nervous to go on the potty and wants a pull-up on to do his "business".  But he's never had a pooping accident outside of the house so I'm not too concerned about that.  So, thankfully we are 75% there- at 39 months, to be exact.  Whew!  I thought this day would never come...

The past few nights as I've laid in bed I have thought about how hard it is to watch your baby grow up and let him go.  That painful separation first happened at birth when he was forced out of the safety of my womb. Then they cut the umbilical cord, forever physically separating us.  I could no longer always have him safe inside of me.  The next step was letting someone else babysit - I about had a breakdown the first time we did that a few months after he was born. Then it was putting him in the church nursery, exposing him to all of those "germs" (now that I've had two, I'm not that anal anymore - don't worry).  From there, we have gradually had to let him go, step by step.  He has always done fine and hardly ever cried when we've left him for a few hours.  But it is hard on me.  I want to protect my boys, shelter them, shield them from all harm, love them, cover them.  Now with preschool, this is our biggest step so far.  I can't run to him when he's hurt and kiss his scrapes.  I can't rush over when I see him crying anymore.  I have to trust someone else.  

This has been on my heart the past few nights.  I'm sad, I admit.  Sad that my boy is growing up and I can't be there 100% of the time anymore.  But he needs this time, I know. (Okay, I need it too).

This morning I felt led to turn to Exodus 2 during my devotional time.  I didn't know why, but as I read, it became clear.  I read about how Moses' mother made a waterproof basket, laid baby Moses in it, and set him in the water.  He couldn't have been more than a few months old at this time.  Yet fearing for his life, she knew she had to let him go.  The Bible says that he was crying when Pharoah's daughter found him.   I thought about how heart-wrenching it must have been for Moses' mother to see him floating down the Nile river (which was huge, I might add), hearing him crying, and knowing she couldn't go get him.  She just had to let him go.  She didn't know what would happen to him.  Anyone could have picked him up, or the current could have taken him away, or he could have fallen out into the water.  Yet God intervened and brought the perfect person in to find him and rescue him.  God cared about baby Moses even more than Moses' own mother did, because Moses was first and foremost HIS child. His baby.  

God knew just what I needed this morning.  This story encouraged me so much.  All of these "baby steps" of letting Micah go and grow up just remind me that he belongs to God.  Micah is God's child, his son, too.  And I can trust Him.  He will watch over him even when I can't, and that's what I have to hold onto.

Happy Hour

I jokingly refer to nap times in this house as "happy hour."  Happy for mommy, happy for babies. Because I'm a mom who NEEDS her nap almost every day (just as much as the boys need theirs), naptime has been a priority here.  I schedule our day around nap time, and it has usually worked out well.  

Micah, who is 3.3, still takes a heavy 2 hour nap from around 1-3pm about 5 days out of the week. Jaden, who is 15 months, is starting to transition to 1 nap a day from 2.  Up until recently he would wake up at 7am, take a nap from 9-10am and then another one from 1-2pm.  It worked out great because while the boys were both down from 1-2pm, I would take a little nap. 

However, the last three weeks, Jaden has not wanted the morning nap, but he also has a really hard time waiting until 1pm to take his nap.  His ideal "new schedule" for a nap would be from about 11am-1pm.  Because I've been making him wait until 1pm to go down, he's been really cranky lately.  So, the choice is either: cranky baby, or cranky mommy (who won't get a nap at all if he goes down from 11-1).

I am torn between doing what Jaden needs and what I need.  See, if I lay him down from 11-1pm, and then Micah from 1-3pm, that is a 4 hour window right in the middle of the day where we can't go anywhere or do anything.  And with Micah starting preschool next week, we'll have to be out of the house to pick him up at noon anyway 2x a week.

Oh, the dilemmas of being a mom.  :)  It looks like for the next few weeks we'll just have to play it by ear.  I realize that my "ideal" of both boys napping so I can nap may not happen forever.  I do make it through the afternoon okay if I have caffeine, so maybe I'll just need to have some caffeinated drinks on hand.  Happy hour may be ending, but we'll see....