Friday, April 4, 2014

The Weekend Effect

It started with soup.
That was the moment- staring down into a bowl of chicken noodle soup, that it dawned on me- possibly my irritation was unreasonable?
 It had been my turn to sleep in that Saturday (Husband and I take turns on the weekends) and even though I'd had ample sleep, I was still not prepared for the downward spiral that the next few hours proved to be.  Husband had kissed all our cheeks and headed merrily off to the gym, so naturally the children sniffed out my mellow sleepy stupor as weakness and they turned on me 37 seconds later.  They were in rare form this particular morning- they were in Beast Mode. Disciplining had to happen before even one sip of coffee found it's way to my lips. They were arguing, they were whining, they were tenacious! I was putting out fires left and right. The house was a disaster. The TV was left on for too long. One of them pooped in the bathtub. Yes. (Even though my youngest is 4, apparently these things still just "happen".) They vacillated between being "bored" and "hungry"- but not hungry for lunch mind you!  No, it had to be called a "snack". 
  The second I stepped into the shower no less than 3 dire emergencies were brought to my attention, none of which I could deal with until the soap was at least out of my eyes and my underarms were shaved. I do have my standards after all.
 My nerves were fraying quicker than the hem of one of my daughters' princess dresses.
 It was the weekend effect.
 In full effect.
 I share all of these details with you not to be negative, because in my heart of hearts I really do think my children are somewhat spectacular and I really do love being home with them on a daily basis.  No, I give full disclosure only so you can get a true feel for the kind of day I was having.
We'll call it my alibi.

These same shenanigans continued well into the afternoon when I later took the tinies on what would prove to be a raucous grocery store outing. As we pulled into the driveway I waited the customary 3+ minutes for my children to gather their belongings and vacate the car. I mean really. What on God's green earth takes so long? It's as if the moment I park the car they completely lose sight of their mission to get inside the house. They unbuckle in slow motion and then just sort of look around as if they haven't the foggiest idea what to do next. It's ridiculous. I can't even...
So as I valiantly tried to carry 17 full grocery bags inside in a single trip, I opened the door to an interesting scene. Husband was cooking. Chicken noodle soup to be exact.
"The best soup EVER", I was to be assured.

He had quite a system going. Two pots bubbled on the stove (one for the chicken, one for the stock he said) which made no sense to me at all, but I resisted commenting for fear of squashing his newly acquired soup dreams. Veggies were stacked high on the counter, seasonings strewn about, and I must admit, a very lovely scent wafted through the air.
While I wouldn't say that Husband never cooks, it is a rare enough occasion to be considered cute when it happens. He was quite proud of himself in this moment. That much was clear.
 The soup was "going to be amazing!" he informed me. He waved his ladle around animatedly as he walked me through his process. As I tried to encouragingly explain my OWN recipe and methods for making chicken noodle soup, I could see in his eyes and by the set of his shoulders that he would be heeding none of my advice. He was a man on a mission and he was not to be told how to do it.
I took my cue and stepped aside, busying myself with the 17 grocery bags, and oh yes, the children! They're still in the car! What are they even doing?
 Dinnertime came and we all sat down at the table while Husband dished us up, proud as a peacock.
"Oh man. Oh wow. Just taste that, guys! Does anyone want seconds? ...Are you sure?...of this incredible chicken soup?... Mushrooms! Did you see I added mushrooms? Brilliant!"
The soup was good. I will give him that. I was grateful to eat a meal that I didn't have to prepare.
 But his incessant raving about the blasted soup was somehow getting on my last nerve. He carried on about it well past the table clearing and dish washing- he was really piling on now. It was all on purpose of course. Partly to be funny, and partly to annoy me- because much like a 5th grade boy, this is often how he shows me affection. Yes, I know. Try not to be jealous.
 It may sound juvenile, but banter is basically our love language.
Yet this time, instead of finding it funny or cute like I normally would, I was fully annoyed. I am ashamed to admit it, but good grief! I get 3 meals on the table every day and no one throws a party about it. There's no hoots of delight, no horns tooting my praise, no confetti thrown about.
 But the man makes one batch of soup and the whole world stops turning on its axis. He is suddenly God's gift to soup!
 It was shortly after this when he retired to the couch and turned on a football game that I lost all restraint and  snapped at him. I can't recall exactly what I said but the message was clear.
 "Whoa! What's this about? Remember me? I'm the soup guy! I haven't done anything wrong!" he says.

And really he hadn't.
  My ideal Saturday had been anything but ideal and for some reason a single bowl of soup suddenly became more infuriating to me more than any bowl of soup ever should. I think it might be my own fault- because I think I often have unrealistically high expectations of weekends.
Do you know what I'm talking about? That THING with weekends? Just like the "thing" with the dinner hour and the "thing" with important phone calls. It's like Murphy's Law. Something is liable to go wrong.
After a long week of getting up before the sun, packing lunches, shuffling littles to their extracurriculars, monitoring homework, and basically taking care of business, I entertain visions of our family having harmonious down time together, every moment being maximized. The children behave perfectly of course. We all laugh louder and more frequently than seems natural, all chores and errands get done, goodies are baked, the house somehow stays pristine, games are played by the fire... (We don't even have a fireplace, which could be the first indicator that my expectations are somewhat misplaced.) Ah, but one day soon my littles will be bigs. They will have their own plans and their own schedules and they will not covet our attention they way they do now. They will not be happy to simply cuddle up and watch a cartoon on my lap. They will not be so easily excited with small things like baking cookies or painting toenails or playing hide and seek.
 Maybe a lazy Saturday spent lounging around with my people in a messy house with no agenda is just what the doctor ordered. Soup fights and all.
 I am happy to report that every once in a while your ideal scenario actually DOES get to happen. This weekend was quite a different picture. Somehow there was time for it all! We decorated cookies, we read books, we slept in, we played outside.  Husband and I invented a game that required us to throw dignity out the window and become 'sleeping bag monsters'  just to hear the kids belly-laugh. The house got cleaned, the groceries got purchased, we managed a date night, and there was even time for a family campout in a fort the size of our living room.
Coincidentally, Husband tried his hand at another new soup this weekend (sweet potato) and this time as he mused about whether he might've used too much nutmeg, I found him to be adorable. All is right in the world again.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2014: My One Word

It's a bit of a miracle that each year I manage to nail down "One Word" at all, really.
Normally I am a person of many words. I have been told by exactly two people that I am what they call a "social buffer"- the kind of extra person you might want around in a potentially awkward situation because I will talk to just about anybody. I'm chatty. It is what it is. I suppose there are worse ways to be, right?
So as I've shared with you here,  for the past few years I have chosen one word as a sort of theme for the year. I have never been one to make New Year's resolutions. The thought of a "resolution" feels somehow oppressive to me. I don't like the idea of a pass or fail.
Yet for whatever reason, I find the idea of choosing one word to be exciting rather than burdensome. Some might say it's corny, but the idea resonates with me. I think there's something deeply honest about choosing just one word. If I take a real and unfiltered look at my heart, where am I right now? It forces me to be truthful, to be quiet, and to hear what God is speaking into my life, as opposed to the constant chatter I tend to throw at Him.
 The cool thing about having one word, is that it doesn't need to be meaningful to anyone but me. There are no rules. It can be a thought, an action, an's personal.
 I use it throughout the year as a compass, a gauge, a filter for choices I make, a springboard for action, a constant conversation piece with God.
Last year my word was UNHINDERED.
Looking back, there were quite a few things I felt God yearning for me to let go of, to cast off. Things in my everyday life that I didn't realize were hindering me.  I can see the areas where I resisted and struggled with this, and also the areas where I overcame. Some changes were tangible but some were internal. It was a lovely and liberating journey.  
While I don't have a nice tidy list for you of exact accomplishments I made last year, I do see that my One Word helped me to check in with myself and with God on a regular basis- and it often changed the way I approached my day. 
 I found that when I did check in with myself throughout the year on where I honestly stood with my one word, I was encouraged and moved and stirred up because I felt God being my help.
 It felt positive and never negative. I love that this is often how God works. He convicts but never condemns. I felt His patience in my stagnancy, His joy in my moments of triumph, and His sorrow over my moments of stubbornness and defeat. I felt HIM, and no matter where you are, that is better than feeling alone.
This year my word is DILIGENT.
 "Having or showing care and conscientiousness in one's work or duties. Marked by steady, careful, painstaking effort. Someone who works hard and carefully.
Industrious, hard working, assiduous, particular, careful, thorough, earnest, painstaking, meticulous, rigorous, conscientious.
Middle English: via Old French from Latin 'diligens'; from 'diligere' which means
 "love, take delight in"!
What a beautiful thing!
To take delight in that which you work carefully and intentionally at. Immediately I think of my children. While they are not the only thing I work at, they are certainly the most important at this point in my life. How easy it can be to just coast some days, to let life happen. But what a difference being diligent can make. When I read the definition, it pierced me, like a truth always does.
 Like a nail driven in and through, sending splinters all across my heart.

 This year I feel that that Lord wants diligence of me and for me- as a mother of littles, as a wife, as a daughter, as a friend...and likely in many ways I have yet to discover.
Last year for me was about casting off and letting go.  This year is more about putting on. Taking action. Taking care. Doing what I feel in my heart to be right. Making myself available. Being intentional. Being thankful and aware and earnest in the day to day.
Showing up.

I am excited and a little bit curious to see the paths this year will lead me down. There are a lot of really good things happening and a lot of really difficult things happening at the same time in life right now. Health and joy and hope can seem quite precarious at moments.
But God is still good.
 And good things often come through the hard things. You just have to look for them.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Confessions of an Honest Mom: It Always Happens at The Mart

It was somewhere around the wrapping paper aisle that I began to ask myself "How did I wind up here? Why am I doing this to myself?"
 I'm not normally a confused person,  but at this second I am admittedly flustered and confused. It's like I walk through the doors of this place and my mind shuts off in order for my body to go into survival mode.
 It's hot in here. Is it just me, or is it hot in here? Why is it that every time I enter this building I feel like I'm suddenly in a pressure cooker? I am sweating now. Partly due to frustration, and partly due to the fact that I am wearing a beanie, fleece lined leggings, Uggs, and a down jacket. My feet are 1,000 degrees. My beanie itches. My ears are about to bleed from the incessant "Mom. Mom. Mom. MOM!"- That familiar assault of constant chatter from the tinies. Not just chatter. Its aggressive. As if the whole world hinges on their endless need to repeat my name (for no real reason, mind you.)
 I really want to take off my jacket. I feel claustrophobic. Of course, taking off my jacket is out of the question because I'm not wearing a bra. I share this information not to be lewd, but to illustrate how ill-prepared I was to even be there at all.
The Mart.
 You'd think after the episode of disasters I shared with you before
that I'd never set foot in this abomination of desolation again. You would think.
But there is some small, defiant (and possibly stupid) part of me that just can't leave it as a failure. Some part of me, that says, "No! This is ridiculous! I can shop at Wal Mart. I only have two small children. I should be able to do this without wanting to stab my eyes out. I kept said children happy and quiet for 10+ hours yesterday while I de-Christmased, cleaned, and reorganized my entire house! I can do anything! Yes I can!"
Plus I needed a birthday card for my brother-in-law's birthday that evening, and if there's one thing I love, it's the perfect greeting card. Wal Mart happens to be the one stupid place that still carries my favorite line of greeting cards, so...there it was. Off I went.
 And the children wanted a donut, so I thought I'd be fun mommy today and let them get a donut on the way. It's all for the children. The precious children.
I would like to tell you that it started off not so bad, but that would be a lie. Not five minutes into my venture, both tiny tenders were already fighting with each other, whining at me, and changing their minds repeatedly about where exactly on the cart they would like to position themselves. One is hanging on the front and ignoring my requests to quit dragging their feet. The other one has moved from the front seat, to the big basket, to the side of the cart where he is now holding on and hanging backwards, like a dog sticking his face out the window of a car. It's fun for them. It's only fun for them.
It's amazing how simple things like getting out of a car, walking through a parking lot, and pushing a shopping cart can take so much longer when children are involved! I mean, unfathomably longer.
Now, my children are pretty good kids. They really are. I should probably start with that. But something about that place just awakens the beast in all of us.
 Bigger One starts to ask me for every single thing she sees. Little One is now too big to sit comfortably in a cart so he walks. The trouble there is that he only has two speeds: 1) running, or 2) trailing 20 paces behind me. Just far enough so that I'm constantly worried, and looking backward, urging him to keep up...and quit touching that...and don't put your hands in your mouth because they're dirty! All while trying to keep my voice low, of course, because nobody wants to be like the mom I told you about last time in The Mart who was shouting "Bobby Lee!" every 9 seconds. We all TRY not to be that mom.  We try valiantly. Sometimes we even succeed. Somewhere around aisle 4 a sweet elderly couple stops us to comment on Little One's red, curly, wild hair, and to say what handsome and well behaved children they are.
My heart swells with pride. I smile big and push on, forgetting for a second the fact they are not listening to my request to get off the cart and just walk beside me.
It's not until about 5 minutes later, that I start to really get frustrated- amid my struggle to push the cart with monkeys hanging off of it, to navigate my way through the crowd, and to balance the urge to read my shopping list while competing with the constant soundtrack of "Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Hey mom!"
I think I remember this stage with Bigger One. This is a phase, I think.
 Little One has made a sport out of saying my name. He doesn't even listen for my response. I do respond to him!
 "Mom." "Yes, son?"  "Mom." "What buddy?" "Mom." "What is it?" "Hey mom" "Hmm?" (I can't tell a lie. By this time I have tuned him out and I have re-read the same line of my shopping list 3 times without registering what it says.)
 "WHAT Jaxon?!" I have now abandoned my quiet voice for my exasperated mommy voice.
"WHAT IS IT?... Yes! I will get you out of the cart if you promise to just be quiet for a second!"
 This is the exact moment that I bump into an acquaintance who has just heard all of the back and forth and is now smiling ruefully at me. Not a close friend, who knows that I am not a horrible mother. Not a stranger who will proceed down the aisle without noticing me. An acquaintance who just caught me in a bad mommy moment using my exasperated mommy voice.
 You all have one. You know do.
Ah, yes, this is the life of an honest mom.
 One minute you're children are garnering the praise of perfect strangers in the dry goods aisle, only to be driving you bananas five minutes later in front of God and everyone in the wrapping paper aisle! It is what it is.
I smile cheerfully back at my acquaintance and have the presence of mind to ignore the tugging on my shirt long enough to make an acceptable amount of small talk.

The next 20 minutes are a lot of the same. Loud voices, lots of touching everything on every shelf, more sibling arguments, one of them is thirsty, one of them is cold, all of us are anxious to be done. I am fairly certain that nearby shoppers can hear our banter coming and going. I am past caring about that.

I'm definitely sweating now. All I want is to take off my jacket. There is a rogue down feather somewhere poking my neck. My cheeks are hot. I'm fairly certain that I'm blushing now too. My skin adds insult to injury by not only being pale and cancer-prone, but by frequently betraying me with a crimson red blush. Good Lord, I just want out of here.

But we press on.
As we pass a tragically pubescent young man in the produce section, Little One points and says loudly, "Oh mommy, look! That poor boy has red ouchies all over his face! What happened to him mommy?"
 I smile apologetically to the boy who undoubtedly heard this comment,  and remind my son it's not polite to point or to talk about people. Being only 4, he is confused by this social rule of thumb, so I spend the next couple minutes fumbling my way through an explanation of how God created everyone different, and so we all look different, and then feebly land on "It's not nice to point. It's just not."
 I scurry through the last few aisles, hopefully grabbing the items I need, but not really taking time to be sure. Bigger One has to go potty. There is no time for accuracy. Little One has ignored my instruction to walk next to me and is still mindlessly calling out to me from 20 paces behind but I have decided that I will not raise my voice or repeat myself again. No I will address it calmly in the car. Yes, that's what I'll do.

I make my way to the shortest line I can find, which is still considerably long. When I finally make it up to the register Bigger One has sensed that it's time to fall in line and is waiting quietly while Little One keeps trying to wedge his body in the small space between the cart and the rounder of grocery bags. I tell him to come around the other side. I swipe my card. He's still wedging. I tell him to stop, look at my eyes, listen, and obey.
 And then my sweet, precious, curly haired baby narrows his eyes at me and makes a face.
 This is new.
 Did he just?...Was that a dirty look?
 Oh hellllllll no.
 I hold his gaze as if to say "This is not over". He instantly wavers, realizing he has now gone too far, so he follows it up with a goofy smile for good measure. Nice trick. I wonder where he learned that.

As we walk to the bathroom I send up a quick prayer of thankfulness that Bigger One is now old enough to handle this small business on her own.
 I kneel down to Tiny's level and quietly tell him how sad Mommy is that he was not listening and obeying. I remind him that he is a big boy and he knows how to behave in a store. We discuss consequences. His tiny shoulders slump and he says,
 "I'm sorry mommy. Will you forgive me?"
And I do. I do forgive him!
I love the little boogar beyond comprehension. I tell him I will always, always forgive, but there is a benefit in obeying the first time, above disobeying and then having to ask forgiveness. I think he understands this, but I can't be sure, on account of his age and the fact that he is now distracted with a hangnail.

I gulp the fresh cold air as we exit the building and wonder how long I'll wait before trying this again. As I've said before, I by no means consider myself to be better than anyone who shops at The Mart. I'm sure I will be back at some point.
But I will never again underestimate the power of The Mart.

It isn't until I'm in the car, all harmony restored, and halfway home that I realize that I forgot entirely to get the greeting card I went there for.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Too Legit to Quit

I must confess, I think I'm a pusher.
Whenever I find a product I love, I always tell my friends about it. "Have you tried this recipe?" "Have you heard this song?" "Have you felt how smooth this lipstick is?"...I'm one of those. 
Hey, I'm just trying to help a sister out!  So naturally I HAVE to tell you about the Jillian Michaels ab DVD I have discovered. It's quick and effective and I am kind of obsessed.
 I'll stop here to throw out a spoiler alert for all my male readers- This is when the proverbial "girl-out" starts. If this were a slumber party, right now would be the portion in between the pillow fights and fingernail painting- you know, the part where we sit around and ask each other how much we weigh. (Because evidently that's what guys think we do?)

Who knew? After thousands of dollars and countless months spent at the gym, that THIS
  would be the best $10 I ever spent?
 Just looking at this picture strikes fear in my bones. I have tasted her pain, and yet I keep coming back for more. After watching her scream at contestants on the Biggest Loser for years, I always assumed I was more of a "Bob" than a "Jillian" type of person in the gym. Be kind, that's all I want. Be gentle with me! But as they say, "You've got to be cruel to be kind."... Yes?
 I've made no secret about the fact that I've been slowly trying to claw my way back from a physical low point over the last few years. We talked about it HERE and HERE and HERE... and then I shut my mouth about it because generally I subscribe to the idea that no one really WANTS to hear you talk about your weight. It starts to sound obnoxious after a while. But I'm also a person who believes in keeping it real, and since I've so liberally shared all my defeats along the way, it seems only fitting to share the triumphs as well.
I've tried many different workout programs and DVD's over the years, (Winsor Pilates, P90X, etc) and my issue with all of them is this: NOBODY HAS TIME FOR THIS NONSENSE!
 As a mom who has two tinies who are at home with me %70 of the time, it's simply not realistic for me to spend 60-90 minutes rolling around on the ground sweating it out while my children whine at me, correct my form, beg for snacks, or try to "join" me in my efforts, thus directly thwarting my efforts. I know this because I have tried. It seems that unless I'm willing to get up at 5 am and work out before my kids wake up, (and let's all be real here- I'm not) it's pretty much a waste of time.
 So for years I have gone to the gym instead, which works well for us. They get to play in the kiddie area, I workout and have a smidge of time to myself,  and we all get out of the house- win/win/win!
  Other than a couple seasons off to tend to the minor business of growing and birthing humans, I've been pretty faithful at working out.
 But regardless of my continual efforts at the gym, I have been unsuccessful in reaching my goals. Or partially successful at best. And let's face it, after having two babies, one C section, and gaining and losing a total of 100 pounds (Yes. I said it) between both of them- I have my work cut out for me. Even after managing to lose the 50 lbs after my last baby, at my lowest weight, I was never strong. I had no muscle tone. I just managed to get thin enough so that all my soft bits didn't fold over onto each other.
 It's a good trick but it's a far cry from being truly fit. And it didn't last. As soon as I started to ease up on my diet and cardio, the pounds started slowly and inexorably taking up residence everywhere between my neck and my knees. Okay fine, my ankles too.
I think a big part of my problem has been that I tend to master one or maybe two major elements of health and fitness at a time, but I've never quite gotten a handle on doing it all at once. I have focused too much on cardio and almost completely neglected strength training over the years. In regards to my diet I  have yo-yo'd between utter vigilance and throwing caution to the wind.
 While Jillian's reputation garners both fear and respect in equal measure,  the woman knows how to get results. I will say that. Her workouts are legitimate. I decided on a whim one day to buy a couple of her workout DVD's, figuring that if I hated it, it's only $10, and if I loved it then all the better.
I have LOVED them. 
Specifically her 6 Week 6 Pack DVD. I committed to myself that I'd give it a real go. Why not?
 So for 6 weeks I worked out 5-6 days a week and ate very clean (very little carbs, sugar, or dairy, and lots of veg and lean protein every few hours).  In 8 weeks with Jillian I have lost 10 pounds and almost two pant sizes! It works! My God, it really works!
 Before it starts to sound like I'm tooting my own horn here, let me clarify that I still have a long way to go. I am barely over halfway to my fitness goal. There is still much work to be done. But I am so excited to actually be seeing results. The best motivation is seeing your body start to change.
For maybe the first time in my adult life, I am starting to see muscles in my arms, stomach, legs, and butt. Like, actually SEE them!
Here's why I love her all of her DVD's and this DVD in particular.
  1. It's quick and effective. Her workouts range from 25-45 minutes. Which is perfect because a half hour is about the longest I can keep my kids preoccupied.
  2.  It's SIMPLE! You don't need any weird bands or equipment. A small hand weight and room to move are all you need.
  3. It's just hard enough that you feel accomplished, but not so hard that you dread doing it. Each DVD has multiple levels of difficulty as well- so just when you start to get comfortable (or adequate) she kicks it up a notch.
  4. It's cheap!
  5. It WORKS. She uses HIIT (high intensity interval training) to help burn fat while building muscle. Double duty. Boom. 
I'm not saying it's magic, and I'm not saying it's the best thing out there. Just another tool to add to the toolbox. Just wanted to share my experience in case any of my comrades out there are looking for something quick and doable.
 I'm finally learning that I can't take any shortcuts. I have to eat clean AND do cardio AND do strength training to get where I want to be. Once I finish losing the weight I think maintaining is a whole different story. But to lose weight I just can't get away with any funny business.(Blurg.)
I still give myself a couple cheats a week, otherwise my head would explode. And my morning coffee with creamer is non-negotiable. Off the table.
 But I've got to say, as much as I miss my pastas and cheeses for now, if it spares me from feeling like a gelatinous busted can of biscuits, maybe it's worth it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Humorous Hubris

If it's true what they say-  that opposites attract, then Husband and I are one of the exceptions to that rule. We really aren't all that different from each other.
In the beginning as our long distance friendship budded into a long distance relationship, we spent hours nightly on the phone talking about our similar taste in music, movies, and people in general. We fancied all the same things. More importantly we fancied each other.
 This was it. He was my person. I knew it very early on. He was funny! Better yet, he thought I was funny, which made for a pretty good time. We laughed a LOT. And as I mentioned *here*, when it comes to other people, there are very few characteristics I appreciate more than a ready wit. He was clever and kind and good, and for some reason he wanted me. On top of all of that, he turned out to be possibly my only equal in remembering and appreciating movie quotes. The larger point there, being that he seemed to GET me.

Oh, I loved him almost instantly.  
He made grand romantic gestures. He stood outside my bedroom window with a boombox on his shoulder, playing that song- our song. (Thank you John Cusack for the inspiration.)
 After only one month of quickly growing closer despite the miles between us, he packed up his life and moved to Oregon, so we could be close in the geographical sense as well.
 He pursued me. I liked this.  Four months later we were engaged and six months after that we were married.

Clearly we are both amused by something here...although what, I can't be sure.

 Fast forward 10 years and here we are, still in love and still laughing. And now there are two tinies in the mix, which means we are riding that rollercoaster of joy and triumph, heartache and fear, bafflement and wonder. Having children seems to open up chambers of the heart that one never even knew existed.

It requires quite a bit of give and take for a marriage to be successful, and in our ten years as Mister and Missus we have become rather familiar with this idea of compromise. In fact, we get along quite well.  But throughout all the years, there seems to be one prevailing theme in our union.

Humorous Hubris.

We both think we are the "funny one" of the couple.
We can agree on where to live, how many children to have, where to eat, what movie to rent, -you name it. But when it comes to our perceived right to the title of "Funniest", neither one of us can seem to acquiesce.

Who cares, you might say? What's the big deal anyway? Can't we both be funny? The answer is yes, of course... just not EQUALLY funny. It completely messes with the natural balance of things! In a world full of chaos, shouldn't we be able to know exactly who we are, at least within our couplings?
I mostly jest, but in all truthfulness, Husband and I both staunchly believe we are slightly funnier than the other.

I often tease him that he's lost his edge. As a financial advisor and investment banker, he spends a good portion of his day sitting across from elderly folk who tend to be very serious when it comes to talk about their money. So it's not his fault, really. It's simply not an atmosphere conducive to an ironic sense of humor.
 Don't get me wrong- he's a big hit with that crowd. They love him. Especially the older gals, who are always telling him what a clever darling he is. (Sorry ladies, he's taken.)
I suppose he could say the same of me- that I've lost my edge, considering my main audience are our 3 and 6 year old children who tend to find my satirical commentary throughout the day...underwhelming to say the least.

The good news is, it keeps us both on our toes. On some level we are still trying to impress each other. We are both people who love to laugh, and who can find the humor in almost any situation, but
I daresay the highest level of satisfaction comes from getting a real and spontaneous laugh out of the other. If I can make HIM laugh, and laugh hard, then that is (insert Andy Samberg's voice impersonating Nicholas Cage) "high praise".

I realize in writing this I risk making us both sound like a couple of big jerks, but I don't think we are?  We may suffer from humorous hubris, or we may just be a good match. Either way, I like him and I'm keeping him.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Redeeming the Time

It's been all of 3 weeks since I decided on My One Word for 2013. Just a few short weeks since I've begun this process of trimming certain areas of my life and growing others. Isn't it interesting how a subtle shift in perspective can alter your view entirely? Like I'm standing in the same place, looking towards the same thing, but the picture looks suddenly different.

The things I'm looking towards- those that are of the utmost importance to me- my faith, my marriage, my children, my health- what am I doing to build them up? I mean daily? What portion of my time spent is a reflection of where my heart lies? When I look at my life through this lens, it suddenly snaps everything into focus.

 If what they say is true, that the grass is only greener where you water it, then why waste a single precious drop?

The truth is, I have been wasting a lot of time. Drops of time, they seem to slip through my fingers and disappear.   It's easy to SAY I'm going to grab hold of the time and make the most of each moment- you know, seize the day and all that.
  But the truth of the matter is that it's just like every other thing in life. It boils down to one fact.
 Whether it be physically, spiritually, or relationally, you can't neglect to put in the effort and then be surprised to find it's not thriving.  If you're building a wall, you've got to lay the bricks. One by one.

What is your wall?
What has God called you to?

I have been asking myself- asking God- this question a lot lately. And while there are a few different things I feel led to pursue at the moment, investing in my husband and my children will always be towards the top of that list.
 When raising small kids it's very easy to be swallowed up in the minutiae of the day. There are hundreds of little tasks that must be done. But all the little things, they add up to something very big. Life happens in the home. Values and relationships and attitudes and habits are all formed in the home. The lessons learned in the home, last the longest.

While every household has it's own rhythm, I long for ours to slow down. I want to redeem the time. My kids are only this age once. They are young for such a brief period of time. All I have is now. I don't get a do-over. Those tiny, tender hearts are only mine for the blink of an eye.

Ephesians 5:15-16
"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil."

I have been praying for opportunities to maximize the time. For chances to peel back the layers and dig deeper into our children's hearts. For enough wisdom to stop hurrying and to create a rhythm in our home that makes time for such things.

The thing about opportunity is that it often comes masked as inopportunity. What feels like a nuisance or an interruption might just be the exact moment I've been searching for and asking for.
Communication comes at a cost. Bricklaying takes work.

In the middle of a recent (and somewhat routine) display of dramatic emotion from our 6 year old, something in my gut told me not to rush through this one. Some undefinable check in my heart that kept me from indulging the temptation to speed through the steps of discipline and correction and teaching so I could move on with my day. Had I rushed, I would have missed an opportunity to communicate on a deeper, vitally important level. Her little eyes brimmed with tears in such a way that I knew it wasn't just drama unfolding, but a hurting heart. So I sat on the edge of her bed and scooped her onto my lap and started asking questions as she sobbed into my shirt. After weeks of feeling heavy hearted and somewhat disconnected from my daughter, here was a precious opportunity to discover what was at the real root of the problem. After all, the heart of the matter is almost always a matter of the heart, yes? What ended up being a wonderful, productive conversation almost didn't happen, because I almost didn't do the work by drawing it out of her.  Opportunity can be very easy to miss. I know, because I do it all the time.

So here I am, 3 weeks later, just barely getting my sleeves rolled up. There are a hundred other ways I want to redeem the time. There are books I am reading, friendships I am growing, weight I am losing,  recipes I want to try, new ways to discover of building up my marriage, and time of solitude to take- to just steal away with my coffee and my bible and my God.
 And while it can all start to feel like It's just too much to fit into 24 short hours, I think it's really... not.
It's more a matter of first things first. It's choosing to redeem the time and not just to spend it.
You've got to seize the moment before you can seize the day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013: My One Word

Hello my dear compadres! Happy New Year.
I hope 2013 finds you well.
I have been thinking and praying about my goals and hopes for this year and doing a little bit of rearranging of priorities. Pausing for a beat, to reflect on the most important things to me, and if my time spent is a true reflection of that. I spoke last year about my "One Word" (which naturally turned into four words) for the year, and how I wanted to use that one word as a springboard, a filter, a measure, and a goal. Maybe it's a bit corny, but it resonated with me nonetheless. Funny, how I carried on and on about my first two words which were "Content" and "Invested", and it ended up being my other two words ("Hospitable" and "Gracious") that were put to the test in my real everyday life this year. Or, not funny at all? Isn't that how God often works? Making us put our money where our big mouth is?

In the spirit of continuity, I decided to choose one word for 2013 as well. I have hemmed and hawed and thought and prayed and wrestled with choosing my one word. After all, I am not a decisive person. And I am certainly not a person of few words. In all of my soul searching and reflecting, I just kept coming back to this one word, this one thought.

This year I want to be UNHINDERED.

Hebrews 12:1
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

I am not exactly sure all that lies on the path marked out for me. I fear I have been meandering along, unwittingly collecting distractions and sometimes losing sight of the "race set before me."
So I am taking a bit of a timeout to rearrange my time spent and my priorities. No existential crisis here, or noble proclamations about striking the perfect balance in my life. I know better than to claim that grandiose of an ideal.
I just want to scale back a tiny bit. Take a timeout. I want to cultivate the relationships and the things in my life that are edifying- and adversely, to recognize those that are not. To shrug off the things that don't serve a purpose in building up my marriage, my family, my faith, or my health.

I think for me this means being less PLUGGED in and more TUNED in. A little less screen time and a little more face time. A little less social networking and a little more real life heart-to-heart networking- with my kids, my husband, my family, my friends. I am a very social person and I rarely go a week without fellowship of some kind, but I would like to cultivate this more in my life. I want to be unhindered and unhurried and less distracted in my daily life, so that I may "run with perseverance the race set before me."

How's that for grandiose?