Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's an Honor Being Nominated

On two occasions, I've received chain letters in the mail.  The premise is that if I send a pack of stickers to the child at the top of the list, add my child's name to the bottom of the list, and mail the list to six of my friends with children, then my child will receive thirty-six packs of stickers in the mail within mere weeks.

Now, stickers are great.  My children adhere them not only to paper, but also to toys, walls, floors, windows, sinks, cabinets, car interiors, and people who happen to be sedentary.  They find copious ways to use stickers, so technically, getting thirty-six free packs sounds great.

Except that I can't muster the energy to do chain letters.  I don't mind sending stickers, but I dislike the idea of introducing six friends to one more task that just might throw them over the brink.  (What!  I now need to send stickers?  Stickers?  I can hardly even remember to buy groceries, and now I need to get stickers?  And mail them?  What's she going to do next?  Invite me to a party where I get guilted into buying makeup or scrapbooking kits or kitchen tools that I don't really need?  That's it.  I'm never sending Robin another Christmas card.)

I can't do it.

So, poor little Ethan who was at the top of the list that I received, I must confess that I broke the chain.  You probably won't receive your thirty-six packs of stickers, and it's entirely my fault.  I hope this life setback develops resilience in you.

Now, I've said all that just to say this:

Last week I was emailed not once, but twice, from fellow mom bloggers who told me that they had nominated me for an award.  Now, these do not appear to be "real" awards, just pretty icons that circulate among bloggers in happy, congratulatory circles.  Still, isn't it nice to know that someone thinks highly of you?  That out of all the blogs in the world, that they picked yours to nominate?

Yes.  It's very nice.  I'll take it.

The one catch is that I must nominate other bloggers, who then must nominate other bloggers, who then must nominate other bloggers until all bloggers in the world have received these awards, making the blogging community even closer than the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.  Ultimately, this means that I must ask other bloggers to join in the chain, which is the online equivalent of asking them to mail stickers and then contact six of their friends to do the same.

There's the rub.

So, I'm breaking the rules.  Admittedly, I will let the awards stop here.  But not before I do two things, which I am happy to do.

One, I'd like to thank Lisa at The Golden Spoons for nominating me for the Liebster Blog Award, which is designed to garner more blog traffic.  Traffic is only good if it pertains to blogging.  I prefer my streets with very little traffic, why thank you, but my blog?  I'll accept superhighway traffic.  I'll take Capital Beltway traffic during rush hour.  Bring on the traffic!  I have Things To Say and I love that readers read these things.  More traffic, please! 

Two, I'd like to thank Dawn at Whispers and Shouts for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  This title alone makes me appear cooler than I am.  Versatile?  It's as if I were a trendy little blazer: "This versatile piece can be dressed up with a sleek button down for a polished look at the office, made casual by throwing it over a simple tee, or be ready for a night out on the town when layered over a shimmery tank."  I love being versatile! 

Truly, thank you, Lisa and Dawn.  Now, even though I'm not formally nominating anyone, I ought to note that there are other blogs out there that I truly enjoy.  In no particular order:

One great blog is It's Almost Naptime.  Missy mixes humor, snark, poignancy, and faith masterfully, and I've come to enjoy her posts and style immensely.  She's honest and real, which I appreciate.  I could enter her blog archives and not surface for hours.  She gets more blogging traffic in a day than I do in a week, I bet.  Maybe a month.  Add to her traffic; she's great. 

The Mom Chef writes a food blog that gives me a glimpse into a life that I someday hope to emulate, but realistically never will.  When I read her posts about trying Cauliflower Risotto with Brie and Almonds or her adventures with Soy and Ginger Shrimp en Papillotes, I think things like "I'm an outsider -- a cold, lonely outside -- looking into a window of culinary domesticity that I will never attain" and "I just noticed that I'm hungrier now than I was just a minute ago," and "What's a papillote?"  If you like food, check her out.

I also like Bunkers Down.  Ami is seriously funny.  I'm a relatively new reader to her blog, but my enjoyment was solidified when I read this thought by her: "The longer you stare at a word the more it looks wrong.  Just in writing this post I’ve stared at a word long enough that I had to get the dictionary out just to prove to myself that the word actually exists."  I can relate to a person like this.  In fact, I wish I would have written those sentences myself.

Jon Acuff's blog offers great insight on writing, speaking, and casting vision.

There are tons of other wonderful blogs out there, but these several are worth mentioning.  Happy reading.

All this being said, if this post were an awards' acceptance speech, now is the point where I'd be grossly over my allotted time.  I'd be whipping out tired cliches as the music was cued for a commercial break. 

It's an honor just being nominated.

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Go on, click it. Pull the trigger finger. You can do it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Joy of Being Prepared

I've been contemplating purchasing rain boots for a while now.  To be accurate, I've been contemplating this for the past five years.  (Obviously, I wasn't moving too quickly on this impulse.)  But I finally took the plunge, bought myself a pair, and then waited for it to rain.

Do you know how nice it is to walk in the rain when you're wearing rain boots?

It makes inclement weather much more pleasant.  When I wear my rain boots, I feel prepared.  I feel protected.  I don't need to tiptoe around puddles or worry about the hem of my pants being saturated when I come back inside.  I can plow right through, not a care in the world.

This past week I was off work for Thanksgiving break.  In between family gatherings, I've played a little bit of catch-up with my life.  I organized a few closets and sorted the girls' clothing.  I browsed our digital pictures and printed some copies of my favorites.  I sifted through paperwork and tended to correspondence.  I made legible to-do lists and updated our calendar so I know what's ahead for the next few weeks.

I wouldn't say that I'm caught up, but I'm hoping that I'll be a step ahead when I return to the regular routine tomorrow.  I'm hoping that I'll feel prepared, rather than frazzled, hanging on by a thread, living-on-the-edge as if everything will collapse (myself included) if one more obligation is added into the mix.

Getting caught up on the little things actually is a big thing; it enables you to be prepared.  When birthday presents are bought and wrapped days -- not minutes -- in advance of a birthday party, when the dishwasher is emptied after dinner instead of picked through the next morning before breakfast, and when I know what dinner will be before I actually arrive at dinner time, I feel like I'm bringing my A game.

It's like wearing rain boots.  I can handle the rain when I'm prepared.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks for the Youngest Child

Little Kerrington, you're not so little anymore.  You're already 18 months old.  In a moment of bad math, which happens more often than I'd like to admit, I calculated this milestone to be halfway to two, but no, oh no, my little one, you're halfway to three.  How you've grown up in front of me remains a mystery, but I suspect it has something to do with that simultaneously rapid and painstakingly slow "one day at a time" deal.


Kerrington, you have wisps of curly hair, and I can't get enough of this.  I often nestle my face into your hair, breathing in your smell -- sometimes lavender shampoo, and sometimes a scent entirely unique to you: a hint of Cheerios, a whiff of peanut butter, a trace of oranges, a nuance of last night's dinner.  This is due to the fact that you rub your your hands across your head when you've finished eating, as if your hair was a napkin.

You'll outgrow this.  In the meantime, I sometimes immobilize you and rinse your head directly under the kitchen spigot right after meals.  Yes, I have used dish soap.  Someday if you have three children of your own, you'll understand this completely.

Kerrington, you spend a lot of your time singing.  Although you don't have many words yet, you are brimming with thoughts and ideas.  Songs bubble forth from you, and you sing.  Oh, my dear, you sing, and when you do, I almost cry with how beautiful it sounds.

You're learning to explore books, and I hope that you come to love them as much as I do.  You sometimes sit in front of our bookshelves and pull every single book onto the floor until you're surrounded by piles of them.  (I'll be okay when you pass this stage.)

You wake up happy, you go to sleep happy, and you spend the bulk of your day happy.  Recently, you've learned how to climb on top of our kitchen table, and you love this.  You stomp and clomp and laugh as if you've found the best stage in the world, and we lower you to the floor again and again because, despite your enjoyment, dancing on a table is not a good habit to form.

You've also discovered markers and how useful they are for coloring on your face.


You're the caboose, Kerrington.  I'm letting you grow, but in my heart I'm clinging to each of your first lasts, writing these memories in my thoughts and my heart.  We are so thankful for you this Thanksgiving, precious little one.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks for the Middle Child

My sweet Brooke, you are such a precious little person, and we are so thankful that you're in our lives.  You're the middle child, and as such, you're engaged from all sides all day long.  In the pecking order, you're both one who pecks and one who is pecked upon.  You handle it with intermingled toughness and sweetness.  Sometimes you're sneaky, too.

Child, you have no internal thermometer.  You'd be content running throughout our house all winter long wearing just a tank top and tutu -- or less -- and I doubt that you'd ever feel cold.

Your imagination cannot be rivaled.  You play for hours with Play-doh, shaping and cutting and sculpting.  You immerse yourself in the world of Strawberry Shortcake figurines, creating elaborate scenes and adventures.  You empty a bucket of Legos, building houses and trees and puppies and people.

These characters have discussions with one another as you swoop them through the sky and across the table.  You take it in stride when the pieces crumble, adding dialogue in your remarkable voice like, "Hold on, puppy friend, my legs just fell off."


Whenever we play at your toy kitchen, you already show culinary flair.  Just the other day you were my waitress.  I ordered pizza.  Moments later you appeared carrying a plastic tomato, a piece of cheese, and a slice of bread on a tray.  I was impressed.

Each time I order tea from your kitchen, you warn me that it's hot so I don't get burned.  The tea that you serve always is too hot.  Despite your impressive imagination, you cannot seem to imagine tea at any other temperature than scalding.  Not even when I blow on it.  Not even when I add imaginary ice cubes.  In essence, you serve your customers molten lava in dainty tea cups.  I do not know why.

Brooke, my sweetheart, I will love you always and forever.  This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for you.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks for the Oldest Child

Do you know what else I'm thankful for?  I'm thankful for my oldest daughter who lives life with such candor and passion.  Dearest Reese, you were created to jump into piles of leaves.


As a true force to be reckoned with, you've made your presence known since birth.  You've climbed onto countertops, leapt off trampolines, cried when your favorite pizza shop closed, shrieked in laughter, and created more than your fair share of mess.  You've mastered monkey bars and practiced karate chops on your sister.

Your curiosity is insatiable.  You dissect seeds, pull apart flowers, and embark on elaborate nature walks throughout our backyard.  You see things that others would miss.  You're mathematical and scientific, able to understand how things work and fit together, traits that I someday hope to possess.

Your secret spy book, a small wire-ringed notebook, is filled with cryptic notes about important observations and events in your life, like the tantrum that your little sister threw or the treasure hunt that you're staging.  Your letters, large and written heavily in pencil, capture these moments for posterity.  I wonder if you'll journal when you grow up.

Reese, you've rescued baby birds and befriended the child who doesn't have many friends, actions which show me you posses just as much sensitivity as you have shown strength.  You're maturing right before my eyes, and I couldn't be any more proud of you.

Until tomorrow, that is, when I'm sure I'll be prouder still.  Our sweet and mighty Reese, we are so thankful for you.  We love you.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Giving Thanks for the Small Stuff

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I'd launch a brief series on Things for Which I'm Thankful.  Of course, many of these things won't be things at all, but I'll save some of those "non-thing" things for later posts.  Today, I'll all about the small stuff.

In no particular order, I am thankful for...

When I wake up in the middle of the night and realize that I have more time until my alarm sounds.  Much more time, like four more hours.  Even in grogginess, I'm able to realize that four hours provides substantial opportunity for more sleep.  This is so much better than waking up fifteen minutes before the alarm, which only generates foggy, frustrated thoughts about why alarms have to go off in the first place and laments that people (as in, me) cannot sleep until the hour that we (as in, I) would wake up naturally.  But four hours?  Four hours is gold.

When the dishwasher is entirely empty.  This is a good 52 seconds.

When the cashier who runs the self-checkout lane in our grocery store makes a point to dole out stickers to my daughters, even when I never use the self-checkout lane.  My girls now flag him down by name.

When I can pay for something with exact change.

When a recipe calls for two eggs and, despite the fact that it's been awhile since I've done legitimate grocery shopping, I check the refrigerator and find eggs.  Two of them.  (Note: "legitimate grocery shopping" is code for when I return home from the store with groceries that will combine to form actual meals, rather than those runs to the store that yield miscellaneous items that find their way into the cupboards and refrigerator, but do not form actual meals.  There's a difference.  Hopefully I'm not the only one who understands this difference.)

I'm thankful when a cup of juice is dropped, narrowly missing the carpeting, and lands on the linoleum instead.

When the parent of a prospective college student stops me on campus, asks for directions, and then asks, "So, what year are you?"  This is rare, but when it has happened I've wanted to dismiss social protocol and hug this stranger.  Did you just think that I'm in college?  You just thought I still was in college, didn't you?

When I catch a whiff of a wood burning stove while jogging in the fall.  (This is as good as catching a whiff of neighbors grilling dinner while jogging in the summer.)

What are you thankful for?

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Excellent Communication

The microphone sits prominently on the table in front of me, and the only thing I can focus on is an intense desire to repeatedly clear my throat.   I'm in a panel interview about excellence in communication that's being recorded for a University podcast, and, in my own mind, my mere presence seems entirely incongruous.

I'm the woman who less than twelve hours ago asked my oldest daughter to please take her plate off the kitchen table and put it in the washing machine. I'm the woman who confuses my husband with ambiguous requests like, "Could you pick up that thing and put it on that other thing?" I'm the woman who regularly is corrected by my three-year-old when I call breakfast dinner and dinner lunch. I'm the woman who starts verbalizing a thought, gets partially through it, and then bails, as if my words were autumn leaves dropping off tree branches, careening through the air on unseen winds, plummeting to their descent in swirling unpredictability.

And I'm the woman who's discussing excellence in communication?

The irony doesn't escape me.

I fold my hands in my lap.  Focus, Robin, focus!  This is for posterity!  With each response, I work to avoid backing myself into a rhetorical corner, making up new words, or inserting malapropisms that will demonstrate the incoherence that I so often demonstrate during my interactions around my own house.

And I made it through -- without even clearing my throat.  I haven't brought myself to listen to the entirety of the podcast, but I'm pretty sure I was just fine.  Articulate, even.

Good thing, too, because when I returned home I asked my children to put their feet on their shoes so we could run errands that morning.  I mean, that afternoon.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What I Learned from a Health Screening

Recently I completed an online health screening for my insurance company.  In addition to questions about my diet and my exercise habits, the screening asked about my mental health.  My answers (and my eventual results) were notably different from when I had completed the screening early last summer and had selected the box: "I have had a baby in the last three months."

The year before, I had to answer "some of the time" to categories such as "I have been anxious or worried for no good reason," "I have felt scared or panicky for no good reason," and "Things have been getting on top of me," "I have felt sad or miserable," and "I have been so unhappy that I have been crying."

The year before, I had been met with a pop-up message in enlarged red font advising me to discuss the signs, symptoms, and treatments of postpartum depression with a medical practitioner.

I already had.  During my six-week post-delivery check-up, I had taken a different screening test while waiting for the doctor.  Both the nurse and doctor talked me through my results, which were borderline for treatment.  Given that I had a great support network in place, an understanding husband, and prior experience with the ups and downs associated with bringing a new baby home, I had known that I was going to make it through alright -- which was something that I desperately had needed to know when I came home from the hospital with my firstborn, simultaneously in love, overjoyed, and blindsided by sudden surges of tears and waves of emotions.

I've written about this before, but it bears repeating:

Whatever its degree and whatever you call it -- baby blues, postpartum depression, loss of hormonal equilibrium, temporarily losing your emotional fortitude -- those early weeks home with a baby aren't always easy.  You're recovering.  You give all that you have during the days, and you still face long nights awake with the baby.  You're deprived of sleep.  You're hormones are surging.  And the most beautiful, precious little life you've ever seen has been entrusted into your care as you're in the midst of it all.

Admitting that the transition into motherhood (or the transition into mothering more children) is difficult does not make you less of a mother.  It does not suggest that you don't love your child.  It's doesn't mean that you're a pessimist.  It is not a sign of weakness, a lack of faith, or an indication of being unfit to parent.

Last year, my online insurance screening was followed up with bi-weekly emails with the phrase "Managing Your Depression" in the subject line.  I had cringed a little each time one of these emails arrived in my inbox.  I had wanted to react, "But don't you know how ridiculously positive I am?  Don't you realize that my default facial expression tends to be a smile?"

Despite this, I knew that I'd benefit from these emails.  I reminded myself there was no shame in seeking help or admitting that you're not entirely alright, even if you're often smiling on the outside.  Perhaps, especially if you're often smiling on the outside. 

So, I read each email.  I talked with loved ones, journaled, prayed, and worshiped -- all of which help me to process emotions and tap into my relationship with God.  I aimed to make good decision with the food that I was eating, the exercise that I was engaging in, and the rest that I was getting.  And it got easier.  I found sure footing again.

This issue is dear to my heart.  I want to reach out to new mothers, wrap them in my arms, and remind them, "You're going to get through this.  It's a wonderful time of your life, yes, but it's also hard.  Know that it won't always be this hard."

New mothers, not just new babies, often need to be swaddled, too.  Not in blankets, but in support, through awareness, and with love.

If you're a new mom, know that it's not always going to be this hard.  Take this to heart.  Then please go take a nap.  That'll do wonders, too.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Why I Love Our GPS

Although some people -- those people who love maps and those who innately are directionally inclined -- may frown at this declaration, I love my GPS.  This past weekend I embarked on road trip to visit friends, and one of the most remarkable features of the drive was a voice.  Not my own, but that of the GPS woman.

She's so insistently friendly.

In what other situations does a happy pinging sound mark every time you've made a right choice?  In many ways, I felt more validated during my four-hour drive than I've felt in months.  Ping!  You're going the right direction.  Ping!  You've successfully merged onto the correct exit.  Ping!  You've arrived at your destination.

I'd love to have this audible support in regular life.  Ping!  Way to go, Robin, on navigating that disciplining with just the right balance of firmness and grace.  Ping!  Yet again, a successful lesson taught where student comprehension skyrocketed because of your masterful handling of instruction.  Ping!  Disaster averted because you, amazing woman, remembered to a sign permission slip, pack a lunch, and return library books in one fell swoop.

I need a life GPS.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

When Icons Fall

Just moments after stepping off the bus, entering the door, and dropping her jacket on the floor, my six-year-old daughter asks, "Dad, why was Joe Paterno fired?"

We immediately glance at one another, and my husband pauses to find the best response.  When he speaks, each word is slow and deliberate.  "Well, he was fired because he didn't make the best possible choices."

In her innocence, she seems fully satisfied with this simple answer.  She continues toward the family room, flopping herself over the arm of the couch unaffectedly.

For me and for thousands of others, however, it's been impossible not to think about the tragic scandal at Penn State.  This unfolding coverage isn't something that we can turn off with a click of a remote; it's where we live. 

This morning while walking to my campus office, I choked back tears over how the unspeakable actions committed by one man, Jerry Sandusky, coupled with the inaction (or incomplete action) of other men -- a university president, an athletic director, an administrator, an assistant coach, a head coach, a janitor -- has uncorked such a groundswell of pain.  I choked back tears over the misguided rioting, as if physical destruction could actually restore lost innocence, repair wounded hearts, or redeem tarnished reputations.  It cannot, and it's foolish to think that it could.

While my hope is that justice will be served, I recognize that there never will be any winners in this story.  I follow the media coverage with mounting weariness and sorrow, yet I seem unable to draw back from the reports.  Everyone weighs in with their thoughts, working to process the many questions that currently have no answers, if they ever will.

How could something like this have happened, and how could it have been silenced?  How could people who have done so much good -- people who appeared to be so good -- make such poor choices?  How could icons fall?

Amidst the anger, confusion, and overwhelming sadness, these are questions that are being asked right now.  They're valid questions.  But the question I'm asking is this: Why are we so surprised that this could have happen?  Why would we think that the prestige of an excellent university would intrinsically be enough to save anyone from misjudgement or wrongdoing?  Why couldn't icons fall?

It is easy to point fingers and say that different actions ought to have been taken.  And, I'd agree wholeheartedly; different actions should have been taken.  In fact, I have to believe that those involved in this scandal are wishing in hindsight that different actions had been taken, yearning that they personally could go back to take them and undo the misery that has transpired.

Regardless of their individual level of culpability, which eventually will be determined as the investigation continues, these men were not infallible.  We cannot act as if they were.

But neither can we mount a high horse of moral superiority and act as if we are infallible.  While we ought to be heartbroken and disgusted at the horrible reports of molestation, we cannot automatically assume that we would have handled things perfectly had we been in a similar situation, even if we certainly hope that we would have.

The truth of the matter is that over the course of my life I've made several poor judgments -- some due to sheer ignorance and others due to a lack of wisdom.  Those poor judgments have yielded regrettable mistakes.

Even more unsettling is that I've been presented with opportunities to do right where I've remained inactive.  Or, when I've had opportunities to do wrong, and against my better judgment I've headed straight toward them.  You might argue, But your wrongdoings can't be on the same level as some other people's wrongdoings.

And perhaps, you're right.  But that's not the point.  The point is that we all sometimes make terrible choices unintentionally, and even worse, we all sometimes make them willfully.  The point is that the propensity for wrongdoing is the battle of the human condition.  Romans 3:23 expresses it better:  "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

We all have sinned.  Every single one of us.  We've all done the wrong that we shouldn't have, and we've all neglected to do the right that we should have.

Does this make sin excusable?  Because everyone does it, does that make us exempt from the penalty of it?  Not at all.

It makes us equally in need of a Savior as the next person, whether that next person is an icon or not.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Losing Teeth Twice

Transcript of a note that was left on Reese's nightstand in black.  
Additional commentary in blue.


Dear Ms. Tooth Fairy,

Reese lost the same tooth two times today.  The first time was from her mouth, which was a relief to Reese's mother because exceptionally loose teeth that jut out of a child's mouth and can be twisted entirely backwards tend to make her queasy.  The second time Reese lost her tooth was when, despite ample warning not to play with it, the tooth slipped from her hand and went down the drain.  Judging from the tears shed, the theatrical collapsing onto the floor, and the loud, pained yelling that immediately followed the event, she feels badly, so please forgive her and still pay her for her tooth.  If you would like the tooth, you can retrieve it from our bathroom sink.  We sure couldn't.

Thanks,
Reese's Dad (Joel)

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Short and Sweet: Two Types

An observation in 100 of fewer words:

In the most basic sense, there are two types of people in the world.  Type One makes the bed faithfully every morning.  By chance, if they ever noticed that their bed somehow remained unmade later in the day, they'd still be compelled to make it before sleeping in it -- even if they were going to bed in less than an hour.

Type Two does not and would not.

Inevitably, Type One's and Type Two's marry each other.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sometimes Days Are Dark

Sometimes situations get a little worse before they get better.

Like when all three of your children, who seem to be recovering from the stomach flu, instead plunge into round two of vomiting a few days after their first bouts, which really, is entirely unfair on so many levels.  And when you join their ranks by succumbing to the stomach flu yourself, resulting in several hours of misery in the dark hours of the night, the details of which are unfit for print and better forgotten.  And when your husband happens to be away for the night when all of this is going down.

Yet, in the midst of this, I had the ever-pressing thought: "God loves me."

Even when circumstances are less than desirable, which our latest circumstances certainly have been, I never will question God's love.  That's been settled.

Sometimes days are just dark.  Thank God that he's still with us as we walk through them.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Nervous Laughter

Yesterday I sent my friend an email including a sentence which started like this: "Speaking about vomit..."

It's never good to need to start a sentence this way.

Nothing is humorous about throwing up.  Nothing.  Yet, as I stood in the bathroom with my sick child at two o'clock last night, rubbing her back, softly whispering it'll be okay, and holding her hair away from her face, I had the absolute worst parental reaction.

I started laughing.  Not oh-this-is-so-funny laughing, but rather a uncontrollably pained and nervous laughter that bubbled up despite the fact that nothing was even remotely humorous.  In hindsight, I have to chalk this up to some twisted coping mechanism.  Like, if I wasn't laughing, I would have been crying.

I'd be entirely unfit for the medical profession.

In the last several days, all three girls have gotten sick.  Two of the three have thrown up multiple times throughout the nights -- the type of groggy, confused, scared vomiting that drains their energy, ends up on pillows, and results in hallway lights abruptly flicked on and squinting, disoriented parents ushering crying children to the bathroom, hoping that they'll make it to the bathroom linoleum instead of hitting the hallway carpeting.

We've done more laundry, used more Chlorox, and scrubbed more floors than I would like to report.

Oh, I so hope that we're on the upswing now.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to Organize: Winter Edition

I inspect my fingers as they move across the keyboard, and I notice signs of the cooler weather.  My hands, reddened around the knuckles, already showcase the effects of cold, dry air and more frequent handwashing.  Even though I'll faithfully slather them with lotion for the next several months, they'll likely remain this way until spring.

My hands aren't the only things serving as an indicator of the pending winter.  Our house shows signs, as well.  Currently, we have more hoodies, windbreakers, and jackets migrating throughout our home than is reasonable for a family of five.  Jackets multiply to the point that I can't tell what belongs to who.  They get draped over backs of chairs and dropped onto floors.  They are stripped off when we enter any establishment, only to be wrangled back on when we exit.  They end up being carried -- by me -- in the interim.

Eventually, as the temper plunges lower, we'll add hats, gloves, and scarves into the mix.

It's forced me to brainstorm the most effective way to organize our winter paraphernalia, which leads me to today's How To post.

We have a small closet near the door to our garage.  (We rarely enter our house by the front door.  Does anyone who has access to an attached garage ever enter their house by the front door regularly?)  In this closet I've hung an inexpensive plastic shoe organizer.

Each pouch is the perfect size to hold a pair of gloves, a rolled up scarf, or a few warm winter hats.  Our items get placed higher, while the lower pockets are reserved for the girls so they can find (and hopefully, stow away) their own things.

It looks organized now, which is solely due to the fact that the weather hasn't been cold enough to use most of these accessories yet.

It will come.  Oh, it will come.

And then, the organizer will appear more like a disorganizer with scarves dangling from the pouches like garland and mismatched and mateless gloves haphazardly jammed together.  Still, it beats the alternative, which is having these things scattered across the floor.

The best part?  It's a closet.  You always can close the door to a closet.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sigh of Relief: Halloween Is Over

I, for one, am glad that Halloween is over.  I'm not a huge fan.  If we had to express this as an analogy question for the SAT's, it would look something like this:

Halloween: Robin ::
a) Tax Day: US Government
b) Christmas: Scrooge
c) Easter: Jesus
d) Valentine's Day: Russell Stover

The answer would be a resounding B.  I'm the Halloween bah-humbug equivalent, whatever you'd call that.

For one, I have a low threshold for fear.  Halloween thrives on themes of darkness and morbidity that I choose not to embrace.  I'd rather meditate on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and excellent, why thank you.  Plus, as a mother, I don't appreciate entering a store and needing to shield my children's eyes from ghastly props and costumes.

Although less of a value-stance, my second reason for downplaying the event is that I have precious little skill in costume creation.  We're talking zero.  Zip.

Do my children dress up?  Yes.  Do I sufficiently think ahead to create impressive costumes?  No.  Do they still look crazily cute?  Absolutely.

I have no issues with dressing up.  I simply scrounge throughout the house to discover what's on hand.  The girls are refreshingly simple in this regard.  This year, I slapped a pair of bunny ears on Reese's head, painted three whiskers on each cheek, and dabbed her nose with pink lipstick.

Brooke was even easier.  She wanted to be a butterfly schoolgirl -- a costume that entailed wearing butterfly wings and carrying a backpack.

Kerrington wore a sheep costume that we had been given as a hand-me-down, and gosh, the child was so adorable that I suspect a few neighbors plunked an extra Kit-Kat in her bucket for the simple pleasure of viewing her little lamb sweetness.  She'll wear it again next year.

Still, now that we've entered November, I'm glad that the Halloween displays will be put away for another year.  In the meanwhile, I'll secretly pilfer my children's candy.

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