Monday, March 31, 2008

Fun For a Gray Day

It's dreary outside and too quiet in. Our houseguests departed this morning after six days with us and it's noticeably different in our house. Not that they were noisy, but I notice their absence after having them here for that amount of time. And given that our doggy houseguest arrived just before they did and also left today, it is a bit of an adjustment.

So what to do on this rainy day in March when we're on Spring break? Well, following the headline news in our local paper today, we're searching for report cards and hoping for a break in the weather to cash in on the girls' good grades (maybe breakfast at Wendy's tomorrow).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spaghetti Sauce & Chocolate Milk & Red Jello - Oh My!

The other night one of my daughters got spaghetti sauce on one of her favorite shirts. She immediately began to cry. And it's all my fault. You see, I'm terrible at laundry. I make sure to sort darks, lights (I call them mediums, as in pink, and in our house they make up the bulk of our laundry) and whites. I also sort them into warm and cold, which baffles my husband, but it's what the tags say so I do it. And I search for stains and dutifully spray treat them.

But half of those stains never come out. Even if I scrub the stain spray in, no matter what brand, the stains stick. Chocolate for instance, particularly chocolate milk: that never, ever comes all the way out. Nor does red spaghetti sauce. Or mud. Sometimes even red jello leaves behind it's mark.

Which makes dinnertime a stressor for my kids. I'm thinking I should just designate "eating clothes" for everyone and let them enjoy meals again. I try not to moan or gripe or harangue them (although chocolate milk spills nearly send me over the edge every time). But they know my lack of laundering ability. When they slop on a treasured piece of clothing, they're aware it may be that way forever.

It makes me feel like a bad mom. After all, what are my primary duties? Feeding and clothing my family. Cuddling and reading. And when I can't properly perform one of those jobs, well it just makes me feel bad.

So I'm making an apeal: just what on earth does it take to get chocolate milk out of a shirt? Any hints? Any?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Long, Hard Day

Today it has been tough going. I woke up in pain from my right shoulder (the one I injured two years ago). This happens to me from time to time. It starts as a stinging ache and builds to a burning background roar. From past experience I know it will continue all day. Maybe it will travel to my other shoulder. Probably it will go into my wrists. I can still move, still talk, still do everything like normal, but slower and more haltingly.

On days like today I start off with an Advil. But like today, it usually doesn't help. So I take another a little bit later. And often still other until the pain is dulled to a whisper. I don't go to the doctor. What will she say? "Take an Advil", probably. There's nothing actually wrong with me. The pain will be gone tomorrow or maybe the next day. But for today it's here, distracting me. Occasionally I will forget about it and then wonder why I am on the verge of tears. All day I am on the verge of tears.

It's so tiring too. And it's hard not to get snippy or short with my children. I haven't today and I'm glad for that. Of course they'll be home soon. And there's a chance I'll get that way then, although I always hope not, always try not.

The pain makes me think of other people I know. People with real illness, real disease, real pain. A friend with rheumatoid arthritis comes to mind and I pray for her, glad that she has medicine that helps her condition. My fingers go cold and then numb from pain shooting down my arm and I think of someone from church battling a crippling, life-threatening disease. I pray for him, for healing, for mobility.

It's a hard day, a tiring day. I'll be glad for tomorrow. I'll be glad for the chance to wake up pain free. But I'm also glad for the chance to learn a little more compassion, to see a glimmer of what others go through day after day, to pray a heartfelt prayer for healing and comfort on someone else's behalf. It's a hard day, but not a wasted day. And when the next day of pain comes for me I hope that it will be profitable too.

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Schools' Rules Schmools

Today was kindergarten round-up...for the Uber-Princess's friends; not for her. And I feel like it was one of those days of no turning back. You see, her birthday is 9 days after the official cut-off. So she must spend another year in preschool (or at home) and wait to be five the day she starts kindergarten. This shouldn't bother me. Many moms of July and August babies fret over them being the youngest in their class and the challenges that brings. The Uber-Princess won't have those problems. However, I anticipate other problems, like, say...boredom.

Here's an example from today of why I worry about this. As I was tucking her into bed for her nap she was commenting on being four-and-a-half (we marked this milestone about a week and a half ago with the ditching of her blankie, because "four-and-a-half-year-olds are big girls"). Then she announced that she could count to four and a half.

To which I replied, "really?"

So she demonstrated. "One, one-and-a-half, two, two-and-a-half, three, three-and-a-half, four, four-and-a-half!"

Need I worry?

Oh, and right before that she was working with our magnetic fridge letters, trying to find the one that says "whuh" as in "Wildcats". Now we have a Fridge Phonics toy that lets you insert the letters and says the sound they make aloud. So she inserted a few until she got to "W". But the fact that a four-and-a-half-year-old cares to learn the letter that starts "Wildcats"? And yesterday she counted to 112, with a few prompts. Need I worry?

I realize kindergarten readiness is composed of more than just academics. So let's see: she dresses herself, feeds herself, separates easily from mom, plays well independently, plays well with others... Now, I don't think she's overly brilliant. Sharp? Yes. Bright? Yes. On target to join other kids the age she'll be nine days after the cutoff? Definitely.

I've been told though, that the rules are the rules. No exceptions are made. No testing will be allowed, no looking at individual cases. So I quickly dropped my thoughts of championing her "early" admittance. And today another door was closed.

God has it all under His control. My daughter's birthday was decided long ago. And God knew the rules of the school she'd be attending. I will enjoy, truly enjoy this extra year with her at home more. I just hope she enjoys the year(s) following that.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Passion Week Meditation: Betrayed

My children and I are reading day by day the story of the week that Jesus went to the cross. Today we read about Judas being paid off to betray Jesus. On my own I'm reading meditations on the Stations of the Cross and started with number one this morning: the Garden of Gethsemane, which ends with the arrival of Judas to betray Jesus into the hands of His killers.

I went through my morning routine with those thoughts on my mind and it brought me back to a time in eighth grade when my best friend betrayed me. Here's how it went. We were at a "boy-girl" party, the kind where the entire class is invited (and shows up). The kind where some kids hang out playing pool or cards or something like that. By eighth grade the match-ups were going strong. This one was "going out with" that one, although it didn't seem like they ever actually went anywhere. It was more of an identity thing, a bit of prestige, depending on who you were paired up with.

My "best friend" took me off to the side during this party and asked me who I liked. Now, I was no dummy. She'd shown herself to be less than trust-worthy before. I was not about to reveal my true crush. So I named a boy in the class that I could care less about, that was currently "dating" a girl I couldn't stand. What could my friend do with that information? And what did I care?

Sure enough my friend scooted away a short time later and returned with the-girl-I-couldn't-stand. "You like Danny?", she asked. Then she continued, not waiting for my response, "well we're not going out any more. And I think he likes you too. He wants to ask you out. He's in the other room, waiting". She gave me a sly smile. My friend stood behind her looking as though she'd swallowed the Cheshire Cat. I rolled my eyes and played along.

I don't remember what happened after that. But I do remember coming out of the situation more triumphant than not. I'd known the betrayal was coming and so I'd been able to script it. Most of the sting was gone. Yet knowing I'd been chosen as the object of junior high trickery still hurt. To have a "friend" who'd behave so callously? It made me angry...and sad.

I wonder about Jesus. He knew, long beforehand, that Judas would betray Him. Yet He let Judas into His circle of friends. He acted on trust toward him. And I'd almost say that He scripted His betrayal too. But the scene in the Garden beforehand shows otherwise. It was His Father's plan and it grieved Him to know how it would go. But He chose to follow it through. His betrayal, even though He knew it was coming, hurt. It hurt a lot. It was part His being fully human.

As we approach Good Friday and then Easter, remember this: we have a Savior who knows the hurt we feel because He has felt it Himself. Even more, think of His love that He knew everything He would endure and still did it - for us!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Getting it right ... again

(Overheard today in the Musing Household)

Little Miss History to Uber-Princess: Do you want to be a teacher when you grow up?

Uber-Princess: No. I want to be a princess. (surprise, surprise!)

LMH to Timid Daughter: Do you want to be a teacher?

Timid Daughter: No!

LMH: Well, what do you want to be?

TD: I want to be a mom!

LMH: Well, I want to be a teacher. (Stops to think for a moment).
A teacher AND a writer AND a mom.

Uber-Princess: I want to be a princess and a mom!

All I can say is, it warms my heart. They all want my job!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Getting it right...maybe

Parenting at times seems so much like a bunch of guesswork. Sure, we've taken classes and formulated our ideas of how we want to parent (allow little or no tv but lots of reading, be involved in their school & sports, encourage good behavior, correct for bad...). But more often than not we find ourselves in that grey area (tv during illness? is tattling always "bad"?). And so it seems hard to gauge whether we're doing a good job or not as parents. "You're the best mom in the whole wide world" lets me know what my kids think (and oh, am I so very grateful to hear those words because they often come when I feel less-than-deserving). And compliments from strangers when we're out in public seem to second that. But...

There's all the day to day in's and out's. It's having to do the job of counselor, mediator, accountant, boss, and nurse, without any qualifications for any of them, that I get hung up on. Many times my husband looks at a situation ('cuz many times that's what we have in our house - "situations") and has a different take. Which makes me glad for a partner in this, but also makes me wonder about all the decisions I make (and possibly screw up) while he's gone.

Today though. Today I got something right. You see, yesterday and today our Timid Daughter awoke with pain in her calves. And yesterday she managed to hobble off to school. But this morning she crawled to my room to ask for help because it was too painful to even stand. So I trundled her back to bed with some ibuprofen, then later woke her for breakfast (and carried her down to it) and afterwards put her in a warm bath. After calling her in sick at school I got a heating pad going under her legs while we waited to hear from the pediatrician. Thankfully the pediatrician saw us right away. The diagnosis: myositis (inflamation of the muscles) caused by a virus she had over the weekend. And the blessed doctor prescribed (get this): ibuprofen three times a day, warm baths, and heat applications to her legs.

In my mind I was pumping my arms up and down saying, "Yes! Yes!". For once my instincts proved right. So do you think I'll trust myself any better when the next dilemma comes in...oh, a couple of hours?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

My Really Interesting situation

I squeeze my eyes closed, arms crossed over my chest as I'm propelled into the machine. Air blows across my body and I attempt to slow my breathing by sucking in large gulps. I am trapped. Thick tape binds my feet together and my hips are strapped down to the table on which I lay. And now, inside this small tube of a tunnel, I can barely move my arms. I lay there, keeping still. If I can just do that long enough... A voice, tiny and distant echoes into the tube, "Can you hear me?". I answer back that I can. Then there is silence.

Back to my breathing. I notice it too much. It's too fast, too hard. So I try to slow it down again. But it just gets harder the more I notice it. Think on something else, I tell myself. Then the voice issues a warning and the loud noises begin. Very loud. First a few pops, then a series of clangs and bangs, more and more of them, some faster, some slower. There are plugs in my ears, but that doesn't matter. It's still loud. My thoughts jump around. Breathing too fast. Don't open eyes. Don't move. Too small. Too tight. I'm trapped. I swallow hard and suddenly my throat feels scratchy. On the right side. It itches more. And then more. I swallow, trying to sooth that itch. I swallow again. Then as the banging stops I begin to cough and to choke. The voice comes again, "Are you okay?". I answer with more coughs. "I'll bring you water", the voice responds.

Moments later the table shifts and I glide out of the tunnel, opening my eyes to see the gentle smile of the technician and then the bottle of water in her hands. I sit up as much as I can and take a few gulps. Then I lay back again and close my eyes as the table glides me back into place. There will be more loud noises, pops and hisses. This time my breathing will settle and my mind will gain focus for the time that remains. No more coughs, no more itches. Just vibrations and strange sounds. Just the passing of time in slow motion, where fifteen minutes feels like hours.