Flashback Friday - Sleepy Edition

I guess I've got sleep on the brain.   This is because I've been getting lots of it lately.  At the age of 9.5 months, Sarah has finally decided to sleep through the night.  (I can almost hear a chorus of angels singing "AHHHH!!!!" in the background.)  I don't think I'm jinxing it to say it out loud.  She's done it consistently for the past week or so.

Anyway, sleep is an interesting phenomenon in our household.  The kids never want to go to sleep, no matter how tired they are.  So every. single. night. we have the same "argument" (if you will) about bedtime.  Yes, you have to brush your teeth.  Yes, you have to put your pajamas on.  No, you may not have more water.  Yes, you have to go potty one more time.  Ben has gotten a lot better about laying down and closing his eyes.  He's asleep in minutes.  (It might be a man thing.)  Abby, on the other hand, needs some time to unwind.  We allow her that.  (Because I know that's a woman thing.)  After we read the book, kiss, hug, and turn the lights out, we'll often hear her playing in her room for a few minutes.  Eventually she lays down and goes to sleep without a fuss on her own.

Weekends excepted, mornings in our house are rough.  No one wants to wake up.  (Although, for some strange reason, they are up and at 'em on Saturday mornings...go figure!)  I used to pick them both up and carry them into my bedroom (pre-Sarah) and let them slowly wake up.  Well, things are a little more rushed now, and Ben is just too heavy.  Back when that was the case though, I must've snapped a dozen different pictures of exactly that - them sleeping in my bed after a violent wake-up call from the mean mom.

So here's a small sampling of them and all of their sleepy glory:




How apropos for a Friday afternoon...as I not-so-fervently fight off the urge to take a nap.

Wishing you all the most restful of weekends!

This is the dawning of the age of entitlement

I was sad when I realized that I missed the Generation X cutoff.   These were the kids born in the "baby bust", a period post-baby boomer ranging from 1961 to the latest 1981.  (Okay, so I BARELY missed it.)  While I wasn't sad because I didn't get lumped into this stereotype:

The media played its part in promoting the Generation X stereotype by portraying them as grunge-listening, Starbucks-drinking, flannel-donning slackers who were quietly revolting against their overachieving, conservative Baby Boomer parents or older siblings. While the term Generation X has been used by a more punk faction of the generation, it has also labeled a group of musicians and actors represented by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Janeane Garafolo of the movie Reality Bites. While Gen-Xers probably feel passionate about some things, in general they have been portrayed as apathetic, disaffected twentysomethings with no course in life. -From wisegeek.com

I was sad because Gen X-er just sounds so much cooler than Gen Y-er.  The Gen Y-er's are known by these things:

This particular group has been called rude, retributive, and prone to childhood obesity and drug and alcohol abuse.   They are the first group to come to age just as the Internet began to completely flower. They are thus familiar, usually from childhood, with not only Internet surfing, but also all the gadgets that have come along with it. Cellphones, electronic organizers, cable radio, hundreds of television stations, and many more things folks born before this period would consider novelties are just the basic staples of existence for a Generation Y kid or young adult. From wisegeek.com

It just keeps getting...better?  

I'm an observer.  I'm one of those weirdos who is absolutely content to sit on the boardwalk and watch people.  Who cares about the ocean?  It's just who I am.  I watch people (in as non-scary a way as possible, I hope).

Anyway, these generational labels get me thinking about what my kids' generation will be called.  Based on my observations, they're on the fast track to becoming Generation Entitlement or maybe Generation Gimme It NOW.  

It's something that has come up several times in conversation lately, with various unrelated people.  (Maybe it's because I'm the common denominator and I bring it up, but whatever.)  And I think most people, especially parents, will agree.  For some reason children these days seem to think they are entitled to everything from the very little to the grandiose. 

Here's a little example.  We have several tubs of sidewalk chalk in our garage for the kids and the neighborhood hooligans to play with.  They run through the stuff like it's going out of style.  Part of the reason is because they just use it that much, but part of it is because they'll let a piece roll into the grass and leave it there only for it to be run over by the mower.  Or they'll let it roll under the holly bush and leave it there for an eternity.  Or they'll throw it at each other when they get bored with actually using it as chalk and it will bust into smithereens when it hits the sidewalk.  I commented to one of the neighborhood hooligans one day as I watched a brand new stick of chalk roll off the driveway into the grass that he needed to go get it.  He retorted with a "why", and even though I don't owe him an explanation, I told him that it would get run over with the lawnmower and if it kept happening eventually we'd run out of chalk.  His reply, "Can't you just buy more?"  

That's when I wanted to pick him up by the sleeve and throw him off a cliff, but, alas, there are no cliffs available in our neighborhood.

The point is not about the chalk.  It's about the expectation.  That child has no appreciation for the fact that he comes over and uses the chalk.  He takes for granted that when that when the garage door opens, there will be tubs of chalk available.  If for some reason, some day, he found the tubs empty, I'd be willing to bet 100 pieces of brand new sidewalk chalk, he'd probably complain about it.

My kids do it too.  I don't know where we've gone wrong, or if it's just a product of being born in Generation Entitlement.  If Generation Y considers electronic luxuries to be daily staples, what does this mean for Generation E?  Yikes.  I think part of the problem is that we have made life instantaneous.  That's the "now" part of Generation Gimme It NOW.  The "Gimme It" part is our parents fault.  (Sorry to do that Mom and Dad, I am happy to exclude you from most of your peers, as I don't think you are guilty of what I'm about to describe.)

As children of the Boomers, our parents generation overcompensated with their kids for what they lacked in their childhoods.  They made their parenting lives about providing their kids (us) with opportunities they missed out on because their parents weren't able to or chose not to (because it was frivolity) provide them.  We don't know differently now.  We run from baseball practice to dance to school to church with our agendas in hand, hoping we get there on time.  Now, our children call us up on their very own cell phones to say they forgot their cleats or homework and expect us to drop what we're doing and bring the stuff to them.

Apparently the school of hard knocks closed its doors a long time ago.  

I read a quote one time that went something like this:

We make life harder for our children, by trying to make their lives easier. 

And now they believe they are entitled to unlimited sidewalk chalk, delivery of items *they* forgot, dinner at a restaurant instead of a homecooked meal, a six-figure job straight out of college, healthcare, whatever.  We did this.  Our parents helped.

Now for the $64,000 (series of) question(s) - How do we undo this?  How to we make them appreciate what they have, the opportunities that are practically in their lap?

My hope rests in you, my fellow parents.  Let's help our children to realize how great they have it, not to take it for granted, and to reach their potential which will remain untapped in the present culture unless we show them.  We can re-brand Generation Entitlement.  I have hope!

#79 Learn to use my french press....check!

I've got a serious coffee addiction.  It's bad news, fellas.  It's so bad that I drink my travel mug of coffee before I even get to work in the morning, prompting a stop at the trusty Dunkin' Donuts while I'm already running late.  Then I spend dollars I don't want to spend.  I still don't have enough coffee.  It's just an endless cycle of wanting more coffee.  I settle for decaf in the afternoons.  It's a little mindgame I play on myself.  So far I'm buying it.

Anyway, since I'm on a non-list-related quest to stop spending so many of those dollars at Dunkin' Donuts,  it only makes sense that I turn to #79 on my list to help make that happen.  I needed to learn how to use my french press.

My previous attempts to use the french press were thwarted.  Mostly because my boss was here and for some reason, it feels pretentious to use the press as opposed to the traditional drip pot we have in our "kitchen" here at the office.  The real reason I don't use the drip pot is that I want to be able to make small amounts on demand.  The reason I want this is so that I can use the water cooler water as opposed to the bathroom sink's water.  Ick.

I tried to use a single serving drip maker that I got for about $5 at one of the more-than-just-a-pharmacy places around here several Christmases ago.  It wasn't worth the $5 and is now collecting dust on my side table. 

Before this gets out of hand, let me just say, I made coffee in my original Bodum french press today, and it was delicious.  Why I didn't do this sooner, I'll never know.  Dummy.  Here's to saving dollars, thwarting caffeine headaches, and enjoying a cup o' joe on demand!

(Just for fun - Here's my coffee collection.  From left to right, the unsurpassed Dunkin' Donuts Large, the travel mug that kind of looks like a disposable Starbucks cup, the French Press (my new BFF), and the terrible, awful, no good, very bad $5 drip "pot".)

#79 ~ Learn to use my French Press....check! 

the stuff that moms are made of

Despite the sweet intentions of your three year old, you've had to reprimand her for sharing food with your infant.  The likelihood of her sharing increases as the choking hazard of the food increases.  Among the things you've dug out of your infant's mouth thanks to your generous three year old:  popcorn, raisins, hot dogs, and chewy sweettarts.

You have at least one child who would subsist entirely on chocolate milk if given the opportunity.

Your usually very intelligent and articulate six year old son thinks it is hilarious to make animal sounds, screeching noises, and small shrieks at the end of every spoken sentence or as a reaction to directions from you.  You've found out that neither ignoring them or acknowledging them makes them go away.  And mocking them only makes it worse.  Find the solution to *that* in some parenting book for me, pretty please.

You don't own a fancy cell phone, just a functional one, because you know that it will inevitably become your infant's favorite chew toy.  And don't dare try to give a baby an old cell phone to play with.  Even they know how lame a dead cell phone is.

You've experienced this exact situation more times than you can count:  Kids 1 & 2 are playing next to each other, but not together.  Kid 1 picks up one of Kid 2's toys and starts playing with it.  Kid 2 notices and tries to snatch it back.  Kid 1 tattles on Kid 2 for snatching.  Kid 2 whines because "It's MY toy!"  You tell Kid 2 they need to learn how to share, Kid 1 had it first.  Kid 2 replies with, "But I was just ABOUT to play with it!"  Eye rolling ensues.

You have discovered that making your kids run laps in the backyard has proven to be an excellent form of discipline.

You feel the need to explain each of the bruises on the forehead of your newly toddling baby to everyone you see, as if people don't know that barely-walking babies fall a lot.

Pink blankets, hair bows, and dresses are apparently not indicative of gender because you have answered the question "Is that a little girl or boy?" way too many times.  You've seen this bib and think it would be cute for your baby girl to wear, but you make a bet with yourself that you would still have to answer the question, even while she was wearing it.

Your son chooses the short ride to school as the time to ask the some of the world's deepest questions including topics such as kidnappers, bank robbers, the banking industry in general, heaven, and anatomy of invertebrates, at which time you feebly attempt to answer him completely and accurately in three minutes or less.

You regret buying the Disney princess underwear for your two year old girl because you had no idea how passionately she would feel about which princesses she will wear and when.

Our Marriage has Turned to Rags

Back in August of 2003, Sam and I moved from our first apartment into our first house.  My mom came down to help with the move, and also to help with the arrival of her first grandchild who would make his appearance less than one week after said move.  It was an exciting time.  No doubts about that.

(And just to throw this out there, despite what people think, moving at 9 months pregnant is a brilliant idea.  At that point, if you work yourself into labor, no big deal.  But also, you have the perfect excuse to act solely as supervisor and be all crazy and emotional.  No one thought twice about it.  Or if they did, they wisely kept it to themselves out of fear of the irrational pregnant woman.)

If you've ever moved, you know that part of the moving process is deep cleaning; a type of cleaning that involves some hardcore supplies, one of which is an abundance of rags.  My mom was helping with this task, and asked me where we keep our rags.  I guess I got that look I get sometimes (and have apparently passed on to Ben & Abby), because she replied, "Oh.  I guess you and Sam haven't been married long enough to have rags."  And you know...she was right. 

We were blessed with more wedding gifts than a couple should receive.  We got everything we ever needed and more than we could have ever wanted.  Our friends and family are amazing.  (I hope they know that I think that.)  But no one gave us any rags.  We had lots of new towels, of all different varieties; hand, bath, beach, fingertip, kitchen.  Who wants to use those on the baseboards and that furry hole where a refrigerator used to be? 

I don't remember what we ended up doing.  I guess we sacrificed a few of our not-brand-new towels.  What I do remember is that when my dad came down to pick my mom up, he brought a bag full of rags to us.  It was a great present.

Flash forward to now.  Seven years later.  I don't know what the life span of a bath towel is supposed to be.  I don't remember my mom ever buying new towels in my entire childhood, but it might have been one of those things that children just don't notice.  Or maybe they made things better back then.  The point is, seven years later, our towels are nearing their end of days.  Most of them have either a bleach stain, a hole, or have lost the strong seam around the edges and are starting to tatter.  Some suffer from all of those ailments.  The closet in our laundry room is quickly becoming less and less of a supply closet and more and more a rag closet.  What's amazing is that most every time I pick a rag out of there I can remember what it endured to be demoted to the rag closet.  It might have been part of the infamous bathroom project, cleaned up a gallon of tea and not gotten washed quickly enough afterward, been the only thing within an arms reach available to serve as a dipstick wiper, gotten snagged in a car door and yanked out not-so-carefully.  Memories.

I envision the entire laundry room filling up from floor to ceiling with towel remnants.  Pretty soon I won't be able to even reach the washing machine.  It's going to be awesome.

Who knew that a closet full of rags would be such a sweet testament to a life spent together?  Looks like we've made it to one of our unofficial milestones of marriage; the filthy rags at seven years.

Maybe at ten years I'll get all weepy about having to replace one of our appliances.   Stay tuned.

#58 - Teach Ben to ride his two-wheeled bike...check!

I had mommy guilt over this task.  I don't know when it's "normal" for kids to learn to ride their bikes sans training wheels, but it seems like it might be sooner than age 6.  Ben spent most of last summer riding around on his scooter anyway, not doing much bike riding.  I took the training wheels off towards the end of fall with the intention of teaching him how to ride, but I had a tough time figuring out the logistics of it.  And I always seemed to do it when he was tired, I was home alone with him and the girls, or some other equally inopportune time.

This weekend, after what has been an unusually cold winter, we experienced a February reprieve.  It was in the upper 60's, sunny, and perfect for learning to ride a bike.

Ben put on his too-small helmet, mounted his two-wheeled bike, and he and Sam headed for the road as I followed closely with the camera.  (So, technically, I didn't teach Ben to ride his bike, but this is what I had in mind with the task so it counts.)  I think it took Ben all of 30 seconds to learn how to balance.  He mastered turning in the next 5 minutes.  Braking followed shortly thereafter.  In the next 30 minutes, he was trekking all over the neighborhood at greater speeds than I would have preferred (being the helicopter parent that I am).




Some say that potty training goes easier when you wait until they're ready and don't push it.  I don't know if that's true, but I'm using that argument for Ben's bike riding.  

So there it is.  Ben is riding a bike.  *sniffle*  Now, we can teach Abby how to ride his old bike.  The cycle continues...

The next Ben-related task is to get out the baseball gloves and play some good games of catch.  After all, tee-ball starts in just a couple of weeks!

Flashback Friday - 3/4 Birthdays

So I'm a math nerd.  Sometimes.  It depends on the difficulty level.  Before I digress before I even get started, let me just say that I love putting my less-than-one-year-old children's ages in terms of a fraction.

Sarah turned nine months old last Saturday, the day we played in the snow in central Georgia and the day before Valentine's Day.  So I took her picture, which I've already posted on this blog as the reason my shirts don't fit anymore.  Too bad.  You get to see it again.  This is Sarah in all of her nine month, 3/4 of one year old glory.


Since last weekend isn't a very long-ago flashback, you get to see what the other children looked like at nine months of age as well.  Honestly, I can't describe how much fun it is to compare and contrast how similar and strikingly dissimilar my kids are to and from each other.  Miss Abby, at 3/4 of one, was already walking (a sign of things yet to come) and looked like this:


And because the first shall be last, here is Mr. Ben at 3/4 of one (who was also already walking because we had put him on a vigorous exercise regimen).

At her official 3/4 birthday doctor's visit, we found out that Miss Sarah weighs 18lbs 12oz, and is 28.5" long. Of course, I referred back to the baby books and discovered that Abby weighed a pound less and was an inch taller.  (Of course she was.  She wins the title of "bean pole" in our house.)  Ben was the same height as Abby and, well, LOTS of pounds heavier than Sarah.  (I seriously had to stop myself from posting their respective growth charts here.  You're welcome.)  See, isn't that fun?  

I have learned in my six years as a parent of, now, three children.  You find new things to be excited about every day.  Even if it's math-related. 

A So-Called Christian

I don't know what this means.

Okay, so I understand the intent, but I take issue with the appropriateness/accuracy of it. 

My favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster, defines "so-called" this way:

Pronunciation: \ˈsō-ˈkld\
Function: adjective
Date: 15th century
1 : commonly named : popularly so termed
2 : falsely or improperly so named

Given the tone that typically accompanies the moniker "so-called Christian", I'm guessing the desired definition would be number 2.   
My real problem comes not with the term so-called, but with people's apparent perception of what it means to be a Christian.

Given the adjective-noun format of the phrase "so-called Christian", I will give you the Merriam-Webster definition for the noun form of Christian:

Pronunciation: \ˈkris-chən, ˈkrish-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin christianus, adjective & noun, from Greek christianos, from Christos
Date: 1526
1 : one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ

Well, Merriam and/or Webster, that is incredibly vague and incomplete.  That being said, I'll let the definition stand for the sake of illustrating my point.

The insinuation by the term "so-called Christian" is that the person claiming to be Christian is not acting as such.  By definition, they are not acting as though they profess belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

What has happened to the term "Christian" is that it has been dragged through the mud, spit on, and rebuked to the point that it's a dirty word.  To claim that you are a Christian, apparently means to non-Christians that you believe yourself to be perfect, without sin, self-righteous, superior, and in a position to judge everyone else.

As a Christian, I *try* to live my life according to the model that Jesus gave us.  I am not going to be perfect, nor can I expect perfection of others.  Jesus surrounded himself and built his nation not with the elite, but the common.  Given the choice, from the get-go Eve chose to disobey God.  Abraham didn't trust God to provide a child to him and Sarah, so took matters into his own hand and impregnated his concubine.  Moses was a murderer.  David was an adulterer and a murderer.  Rahab was a prostitute.  Solomon was a womanizer who ultimately turned away from God.  Peter denied Jesus.  The wonder of it all is that despite these shortcomings, we are the recipients of a great grace.  God knows we aren't perfect.  That's why he gave us Jesus.

In modern terms, this means that *even* avowed Christians are going to mess up.  It is the very nature of man.  When someone cheats on their spouse, suffers with addiction, drives recklessly, commits a white-collar crime, it doesn't mean they aren't a Christian.  It means they sinned, in a big, public way.  It means they have to confess that sin, turn away from the sinful behavior, and turn back towards Jesus.  This is the message of hope for us all.  There is redemption in Jesus.  He does not exclude anyone.  How wonderful is that!?

The following are teachings of Jesus Christ:

1.  There is not one single person (Jesus excepted) who is, ever was, or ever will be perfect.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

2.  There is a just penalty for sin (death), but we have another choice (salvation through Jesus).

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

3.  The only way to salvation is through believing that Jesus accepted our penalty for sin as a  sacrifice, only to defeat death and rise again.

That if you confess with your mouth*, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9

*Jennie's note - This is more then just "saying the words".  It is to believe and follow God's teachings, wholly and completely.

That is what it means to be a Christian.  I am trying to live a life that is pleasing to God, but I am not perfect.  I am going to mess up, no matter how hard I try.  I am not a so-called Christian.  I am a true Christian, just doing my best.

So, please, try not to be offended when I call myself one.

Smooches, hugs, and love.

P.S.- Please don't be offended if I tell you that I will pray for you.  I am doing it out of love.  It's the most powerful tool in my toolbox.

Mom Things - In a hurry because my hands are cold

Though you were totally the guilty party, at some point you have blamed flatulence and/or a spilled beverage on an unwitting toddler.  Just another perk of having kids...

You have learned that the incidence of injuries increases exponentially as your children get more and more tired.  Consequently you realize that early bedtimes aren't just for sanity's sake.  Safety first!

You have experienced the phenomenon of altered taste-buds during pregnancy.  For some of us this meant becoming a sweets person when we were previously a salty-snacks kind of person or vice versa.  For an unfortunate few of us, this means we became equally enamored with both sweet and savory foods (permanently).

You love your son's passion for reading.  But *sometimes* you wish he knew how to read silently to himself.

You know that there is absolutely no end to the questions.

In order to prevent yourself from pulling your hair out by the fistful, you have to keep reminding yourself that the inexhaustible questioning is how they learn.

By some cruel trick of nature, the kids wake up early and raring to go on the weekends, whereas on week days, you have to drag them to the breakfast table by their ankles.  And despite your best efforts, you now know that there is  nothing you can do to reverse this trend.

You wait until the last minute.  Because you know that getting the kids ready to go somewhere earlier than absolutely necessary is just asking for marker stains, drink spills, and potty accidents, thereby requiring a clothing change.

One of the best days of your life is the day that your child learns how to buckle themselves into the carseat.  The next best day is when the responsible oldest child learns how to unbuckle himself and all of his baby sisters.

When your three year old says either "I'm not hungry anymore" or "I'm full" after two bites of what's on her dinner plate, you know it's because she spotted the brownies you made for dessert.

The Dusty Corner of my Closet

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that all of the corners of my closet are actually dusty.

Phew.  I feel better now.

It occurred to me the other day, as I was getting ready for church, that I have only a handful of winter clothes into which I fit and about which I feel comfortable wearing in public.  I run through the mental inventory I keep, making sure I didn't wear the exact same thing around the same people a week before as a prerequisite to getting dressed.

(These are the things I worry about.  *shaking head at self*)

I don't know what made me realize it all of the sudden or why I didn't realize it sooner, but there is an excellent reason why I don't fit into or feel comfortable in the majority of my winter clothes.

Her name is Sarah.

This time last year I was proudly sporting my 2nd trimester belly.  As is often the case with subsequent pregnancies, I popped almost as soon as I got my big fat positive with Shep3.  There was no denying that there was a little bundle of joy growing in there.

Despite the fact that I am below my pre-pregnancy weight with Sarah, my body is not the same.  Motherhood changes your shape.  It shifts things here and there.  It can make your feet grow, your hips spread, your belly jiggle.  You know, all of that fun stuff.  For me, it apparently makes my torso grow, as almost none of my shirts seem to be long enough anymore.  (Either that or motherhood and "old age" has made me less willing to bare any part of my midsection even if only for a split second.)

(Look!  I found this helpful diagram to illustrate what a torso is for you all, complete with arrows!  All it needs are some words on the side exclaiming about its excessive length.  Maybe, "Dang girl!  That's a LONG torso!" or perhaps, "Whoa, make that girl a longer shirt!")

At any rate, the winter clothing section of my closet is rather dusty from not being used since the winter of 2007-2008.  

I reread my 101 list this weekend and remembered that cleaning out my closet was one of the items (#45 ~ Fit into or give away all of the clothes in my closet).  I am dreading this one, but am beginning to think I need to just pull the trigger and get it done (git 'er done?).  Would you believe I held onto some of my favorite pre-Ben clothes thinking I'd wear them again someday?  Yes.  It is most definitely time to Operation Clean-Sweep my clothes closet.  (Just in time to capitalize on end-of-winter clearance deals!)  Wish me luck!

P.S.- In the interest of full disclosure, I want to be absolutely sure you know that I hold no resentment towards Sarah (and Abby & Ben) for changing my shape.  I love the miracles my body has hosted and brought into this world.


A Sappy, Lovey-Dovey Top Ten List - Valentine's Day Style

One of my most favorite people in the world challenged me (well, not *just* me, but that's not super relevant) to create a Top 10 Reasons You Love your Mate list, claiming it is harder to be concise than it is to be verbose.  She is completely right.  I believe I could sooner type up a 101 list (which seems to be my number of choice) than a Top 10. 

In response to the challenge (because I love a good challenge!), here is my exceedingly long Top 10 List.

The Top Ten Reasons I Love Sam

1.  He is everything I'm not; patient, easy-going, rational, optimistic, exacting, persevering, and nerdy (okay, so we're both that one).  I get to say that we complete each other and truly mean it.  I'm the lucky one in that equation though...in me being everything he's not, he gets an other half who is impatient, high-strung, irrational, pessimistic, who "makes it work" & gives up easily.  Yikes.  (It's not too late to get rid of me, Sam!  No.  Wait.  It is.  Sorry.)

2.  He handles the finances with grace and ease.  I am the family tightwad.  I envision myself sitting down to pay bills and thinking, "Hmm...that electric bill seems pretty high this month.  I can't bring myself to pay all of that."  And proceeding to write a check for the amount that I think it *should* be.  You can see why that would be troublesome. 

3.  He is the Couponator.  Read that like "terminator."  And it's true.  He can find a coupon for ANYTHING.  And if he can't, he'll haggle it.  The motto is "NEVER pay full price."  And he doesn't.  And I truly love him for it.  (See #2 - the family tightwad loves his ability to do this.)

4.  He has the amazing ability to defuse any situation.  Much to Sam's chagrin (I'm sure), he is now the lone rational member of a 5 person family.  The rest of us seem to be much more emotionally unstable than him.  When one of us flies off the handle for any reason, big or small, it sets off a chain reaction.  And it's not a pretty one!  Along comes Sam and within minutes, there are no more tears, no more raised voices, and there may be some type of sweet treat involved to distract us from the issue.  Yeah, that works on me too.  (Sam, I know it's exhausting to be "The Defuser" all of the time.  I'm giving you credit where credit is due, and want you to know how much I appreciate you!  AND I'm a poet and didn't know it.)

5.  Back in the day, when you used to join groups instead of becoming fans of things on Facebook, I joined a group called, "Just Because I'm an Engineer Doesn't Mean I Can Fix Your Refrigerator."  Ironically enough, literally one week later, our refrigerator broke.  Even more ironically, Sam the engineer, fixed it.  (He replaced the motherboard.  Seriously.  Who knows how to do that?)  So, reason #5, he can fix anything.  And if he can't, he figures out how to (see #1, persevering).

6.  Sometimes as a holiday gift, but usually "just because", he recharges my Dunkin' Donuts gift card so I can enjoy a hot coffee without the guilt of spending money on frivolity.  (Again, I reference #2, the family tightwad.)

7.  He cooks.  They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  Well I must be a man. 

8.  There is no number he can't remember.  Checking account numbers, credit card numbers, electric company account number (I mean who knows THAT?), SkyMiles numbers, phone numbers, house numbers, middle school locker combination numbers.  He's got them all stored in that brain of his.  And it comes in handy more often than you even know!

9.  He implores me to relax and actually succeeds in convincing me to do so from time to time.  As a Type-A, this is not easy for me.  I am (very) slowly letting things go, and I think it is helping our marriage.  (But some things will never change, and I confess to loading and starting the dishwasher at 2am last night after accidentally falling asleep before I could get it done.)

10.  He gives me the courage to do things I wouldn't otherwise do without, well, encouragement...be it going to a new shopping venue, introducing myself to someone new, or just passing someone on a two-lane road. 

So there you have it.  A completely non-exhaustive Top 10 List about the love of my life. 

I wish you all a fantabulous, splendiferous, and overall sappy, lovey-dovey Valentine's Day! 

Flashback Friday - Snow? In Georgia?

It's not always an error in the weather forecast.  Last March (2009), a mere weekend after it was 70 degrees and we'd played in the park in our shorts and t-shirts, it snowed in central Georgia.

On the heels of consecutive blizzards pummeling my old stomping grounds in Maryland, we are anticipating a snow storm of notable proportions here in Georgia.  No.  It's not 30+ inches worth of snow, but if it actually sticks to the ground, it qualifies as notable.  Shoot, if it falls from the sky at all, it counts as notable.  We just don't see the stuff down here.

The forecasters say we could see 2-4 inches.  I'm skeptical.  My hopes aren't completely dashed, though, when I look at these pictures.  They serve as proof that it has happened before, so it could happen again.

Without further ado, I call this photo series, "The Great Snow of 2009 - Central Georgia Edition":

In case you are wondering, there was not a parking spot to be found at Kroger last night.  It's true.  People really do go a little (read: a lot) crazy with anticipation of snow here.  I promise I legitimately need milk, bread, and eggs! 

A Strange Dichotomy

Disclaimer 1:  I know that 30 is not old. 
Disclaimer 2:  I'm probably crazy, so if this doesn't make sense, well...there you have it.

All my life growing up, I felt older than I was.  Precocious, maybe?  I just always felt more mature and less silly than a lot of my peers. 

I got a nice lesson on what it feels like to be young when I got married at 19 and became a mom at 20.  (It didn't help that I didn't look a day over 15.)

So that's where the dichotomy comes into play.  I feel both old and young at the same time.  And while I'm no longer a 20-year old mom, I think I will always feel that way.  I am especially reminded of this when I go to functions at Ben's school.  Chances are, I will always be the youngest mom in his class.  It doesn't necessarily bother me that it is this way.  I think being young has its advantages.  It is just so far opposite of how I'm used to feeling.

So here I am feeling like a paradoxically old, yet young mother. 

I clicked on the little "events" calendar on Facebook and it took me to a list of all of my friends' upcoming birthdays.  Most of the list had a helpful parenthetical after the name with the age they would be turning on that date (so I wouldn't have to do the math).  That's when I realized...most of my friends are turning 30, or are dang near close to it (or well beyond it). 

So that threw another wrinkle in my feelings, and I suddenly realized I'm *not* a 20-year old mom anymore.  I voiced this to Sam, along with the shock that befell me when I realized it is almost time for our 10 year high school reunions.  I said to him, "I'm almost 30!"

Then he made fun of me because I'm 26.

And that was pretty much the end of that conversation.

I still feel old and young at the same time...though I feel a shift towards the older side prevailing in the short run.  Especially the way I was sucking wind after my short run this afternoon.

The Mom Things 02.10.10 - Who's with me?

The following are among the skills you can put on your mom resume:  Finding items that can double as a tissue, Creatively substituting your own adjectives and actions into "If You're Happy and You Know It" (i.e.-If you're grumpy and you know it, pout like *this*), and Convincing your kids that it's fun to clean up the playroom.

You pick your son up from school to find him wearing only his undershirt.  His response after you ask him where his shirt is:  "I lost it."  You ponder, momentarily, how one can "lose" a shirt, but don't even bother asking.

You subsequently head to the school's Lost and Found and leave with four other items that he "lost" at school over the course of the year, including his lunchbox, two jackets, and his spirit day t-shirt.

At that point, you mutter one of those granny-like cliches along the lines of, "You'd lose your head too if it weren't screwed on."

You start to feel less special about your daughter's frequent, random proclamations of love towards you when she starts frequently and randomly declaring her love for all sorts of more-trivial things including blueberries, the color pink, bananas, night gowns, and Care Bears.

People start asking you if your baby is walking yet, and you gesture towards the many bruises on her forehead and say, "She tries."

You introduce your kids to their new friends when they come over to the house.  It turns out to be an irrelevant formality because your daughter decides to call all of them "Katie" anyway.

It never used to occur to you, but now whenever you see someone in a less-than-savory career or playing a certain kind of character on television or even promoting some sort of questionable political agenda, one of your first thoughts is, "I wonder what their mother thinks of all of this."

You always thought bedtime stories were supposed to be calming and uneventful.  Your three year old feels differently and chooses this time to demonstrate her gymnastic skills, including aerial somersaults off the bed.  It's only a minor inconvenience after she lands on her head.

Similarly, you've always heard that a bath at bedtime as a nice way to unwind and relax before the rest of the nighttime routine.  You find out the hard way that baths at bedtime energize your kids almost as well as sugar wafers.

#7 - Write a letter to my congressman.

I did it.  I got mad.  After a newsless December (a treat I think I should give myself more often), I guess all of the hostility has been building up inside of me.

I've been listening to Dave Ramsey for a while now, and I would say that I've become a pretty big fan.  His philosophy on money and finances is biblically-based common sense.   Don't spend more than you have.  Don't borrow, so you won't have to owe.  In three words, debt is evil.  He is criticized by the more esteemed financial gurus for his "oversimplication" of all things money-related.  I think they're just justifying their jobs.  Simple is always better.  People just do not handle complicated well.  Those following The Total Money Makeover have paid off millions of dollars using his baby steps, in what is considered to be a proven method for debt reduction and ultimately a sure-fire savings plan.

So when I heard that House voted right along with the Senate to raise the debt ceiling, my "get angry" mechanism kicked in.  Essentially, I got a little bit sick to my stomach, my heart started palpitating, my blood pressure rose a few points on both sides, and my ears got red. 

Then I emailed my representative. 

I'll spare you the actual text, but in summary I told "the Honorable Jim Marshall" (as his email form refers to him) that I will not be voting for him in November, that his contribution to raising the debt ceiling made me physically ill, that the decision reached by him and his fellow "aye" voters defied common sense.  Furthermore, I promised to educate my fellow citizens on the asinine spending habits of my "representatives" to ensure that not one incumbent up for election, irrespective of their party affiliation, will be re-elected this fall.

Then my ears stopped burning, the pit in my stomach dissipated a little, and my heart beat slowly resumed an acceptable speed.  My blood pressure is still high, but that's life. 

It was so cathartic, I think I should make this a monthly task.  Or maybe just as I'm inspired.

#7~Write a letter to my congressman...check!

Flashback Friday - Something besides "just belly"

Just for fun, Sam and I didn't find out the sex of our number three before birth.  The amount of fun is debatable.  I thought it was a great idea, but I'm not sure Sam wholeheartedly agreed.  At any rate, we had a few motivations for doing it this way.  One of the primary reasons was that we were concerned Ben would be super disappointed in the event it was a girl.  He desperately wanted a little brother.  It might have been naive or overly optimistic, but we had this vision that even if it was a girl, when he finally *saw* the baby, it wouldn't matter because he'd be so excited.

As it turned out, he was excited long before then.  And he'd resigned himself to having a baby sister, just in case.  How little faith we had in him.

Sometime around the first of May, Ben's teacher emailed to ask me if May 12th was, in fact, the day that the baby would arrive. I replied by telling her that's the due date, but we don't have an induction or anything like that on the books. She said that Ben was pretty adamant that's the date, and has been working on an art project for the new baby that he just "had to finish by May 12th".

He brought it home on May 8th.

It was quite a montage of random things...pictures, letters, numbers, what have you.  I could tell with just one glance the amount of heart, soul, and hard work he'd put into it.

The best part is when he was telling me about it he said, "I wanted to make a picture of things for the baby about things besides just...belly. It would be boring to be stuck inside a belly for that long."

So here's the masterpiece. (Some might say Ben is gifted in the realm of abstract art.)

For the first few weeks of Sarah's life, we hung it next to the bassinet so Ben could teach "Shep #3" all of the interesting things this world has to hold.  When she moved to her own bedroom, we taped it on her bookshelf so she could see it from her crib.  When she got mobile and started pulling up, she ate a few pieces of macaroni off of it, so we moved it to the top of her bookshelf.  Whenever I see it, it brings a smile to my face.

Some say snips and snails and puppy dog tails, but I say love - that's what little boys are made of.

Mom Things - The Day After Groundhog Day

(In case anyone is interested, General Beauregard Lee has predicted an early spring.  I tend to believe that when it comes to Georgia.)

You live for taking your baby to their well appointments so you can find out how much they weigh and where that puts them percentile-wise.  Then, you go home and compare all of your children's baby books to see how they fall in line with each other's growth.  It somehow matters, if for no other reason than to confirm that they are all so very different from each other.

You make a mental note whenever another mom says "I will NEVER" so you can call them out on it some day (mentally, of course).

Sometimes, when your kids stop whatever they're doing to say "I love you, Mommy", you well up a little bit.

You know that no matter what you do, how you do it, or how well you do it in regards to parenting, there will always be room for improvement.  (You just keep praying that your kids will turn out better than most of those other kids you see out in public.)

You find your son reading by the light of his closet well after bedtime.  It's really hard to be upset with him over that.  After reminding him that bedtime means to get in bed and go to sleep, you let him finish the book he's on.  After all, the last thing you want to do is discourage reading.

You've learned that sidewalk chalk is not just for sidewalks.  It's apparently also good for  mailboxes, trees, the back of the van (!), and the bricks on the house.

You and your husband finally have a night without the kids.  Instead of going on a date, you go home, catch up on DVR'd shows, and take a nap.   Either that or go to the grocery store.

Children's literature is your guilty pleasure.

After one of your kids comes down with a violent stomach bug, you start placing bets on which of you will be next.  Hey, you've got to find the fun in it somehow.

Your mom used to say "they're earning extra jewels in their crown" when she would see someone doing a thankless job.  You feel that way about your children's teachers, and vow to make sure their amazing work doesn't go un-thanked.

Questionable Illustrations

I ordered some books from Abby's Scholastic handout.  I cannot resist buying books, especially awesome books at a cost of $3 or so.  Anyway, they came in yesterday, and instead of saving them for Easter like I had planned, I went ahead and let them read the books.  On the way home from school.  (I have no willpower.)

One of the new books was Llama Llama Mad at Mama.  We've read the Red Pajama and Misses Mama versions before, but this one was new.  Basically, Llama doesn't want to go shopping with Mama and pitches a fit.  The mom doesn't react appropriately in response, but that's not really relevant.  Abby was flipping through the book, narrating her own version of the story as she went along.  (When she reads, she assigns all boy characters the name "Ben" and all girl characters the name "Abby".)  She got to this page:

She looked at it for a while, then asked me, "What's Ben doing?"  Since I was driving, I couldn't really turn around and check it out, so I told her I didn't know.  She considered it for another moment and asked, "Why's Ben licking the toilet paper?"

It's a reasonable question, no?

My Heart

I would say that for the most part I tend to shy away from the serious issues on this blog.  All too often, I am guilty of trying to be Switzerland.  It prevents me from vocalizing my true opinions on issues about which I feel passionately.  I'm taking a chance here because something  has been weighing heavily on my heart and I need to put it out there.  As is customary when I venture into potentially controversial territory, here is my disclaimer:  This is what is on my heart.  I mean no offense to anyone.  And I sincerely mean that.

I was born with a natural inferiority complex.  No, I didn't put the wrong word in there.  I'm not sure if it's humility (which I'd consider to be a virtue) or if it's just insecurity (which is definitely a flaw).  I think it is part of the reason I have a hard time making new friends.  I automatically feel inferior to anyone I meet.  I'm flawed (or perhaps just a little bit crazy).  With my insecurity comes defensiveness.  They're like partners in crime, only they're partners in Jennie's character flaws.  I tend to feel a need to justify my choices, my actions, my decisions to everyone who differs from me, knowing full well that the only people that truly matter are me and my family.

And so here it goes.  I'm referring to one of the most recent and yet most primal "vs" matches in society; the stay at home mom vs. the work out of the home mom (and the work at home mom, a combination of sorts).

I will not debate which one is harder.  I will not refer to myself as a "working mom" because I find that term offensive.  I will not say that everyone should be one or the other.  I will not condemn anyone for their choice to stay at home or go into the workforce.

It's just that...lately...I've been feeling a little under attack for my choice to work outside of the home.  This is my feeble attempt to justify my decision to anyone who might not understand and to those who might judge me for it.

I do not consider myself to be a women's libber.  I do believe that there are certain roles for which each gender is better suited.  I believe we were built this way by God.  I do not think it's an inequality, but that men and women were created for different purposes to complement each other, and in turn build each other up and support each other.  I think that just as men are born with an innate desire to provide for their families, women (especially as they become mothers) are created in such a way that loving/caring for their their husband and children is their priority.

I can categorically say that, while I may be apart from my children during the day, aside from my Savior, my family is my priority.  I work because I feel like it makes me a better mother.  This is one of those abstract things that I'm not sure you can understand unless you're living it.  While I believe we were wired to love and care for our families, I think each of us has to find our own way to do so.  I work because when I come home at the end of the day, I have an overwhelming desire to spend time with my family, to revel in and soak up that time with them.  It makes our time together a joy rather than a burden.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my children are and feel loved. 

Our childcare provider isn't a babysitter; it is an extension of our family.  I defy you to tell me that I am letting someone else raise my children for me.  Of all the accusations against work out of the home moms, this one bothers me the most.  When looking for a daycare for our kids, we visited, toured, and interviewed countless places.  We didn't award the contract to the lowest bidder.  We prayed about it.  We felt lead.  And that is how we chose our extended family.  If, at any point, I felt that they were in conflict with my desires for my children, I know that I could pull them out.  Thankfully, I am completely at peace with our childcare provider.  They do an amazing job supporting our (the parent's) desires for our children.

In closing, I defer to Proverbs 31, the wife of noble character.  She is a model for all women; industrious, wise, loving, and one who does everything in her power to provide and care for her family.  We have the freedom to decide what is best for our circumstances. 

As a mother, I genuinely believe that our desire (as mothers) is to do the best we can for and by our children.  There is no rulebook, cookbook, or how-to book on the matter (actually there probably are lots of how-to books on this subject, but I digress).  If there is, it's irrelevant because no two mothers, fathers, and families are alike. 

My plea is this:  Be sensitive to mothers who make choices different from your own.  We are each unique.  And thank God for that.

The City that Never Sleeps, Part Two

Dang, it's only been over a month since we went there.  I need to hurry up and do this before I forget what happened that day (and in reality, I probably already have).  For those of you who didn't read it, feel free to catch up on Part One.

In the interest of preserving a memory and practicing my brevity at the same time, I'll try my hardest not to go off on tangents.  (Like the proposed $3.8 trillion dollar budget for FY2011.)

After a sweaty couple of hours at the uber-crowded AMNH, we decided it was time to eat "lunch" (or lunch and dinner as it turned out to be).  Being from Georgia, we are unaccustomed to walking in windy sub-freezing temperatures, so we opted for the closest restaurant we could find thanks to our trusty GPS.  Of all places, and however ironic it might be, we ate at Uno's Chicago Grill in the heart of New York City.  Deep dish pizza, ladies and gents.  Go ahead and scoff.

From there we boarded the subway (again) en route to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree.  Since it felt like we spent an inordinate amount of our day riding the subway, I wanted to commemorate it with a picture.  It turned out like this:

...and it embodies everything you think of when you hear the words "Scary Subway Man".

We walked through Rock Center to the tree.  (Interestingly, we passed a Shoe Shine place with a line out the door.  I didn't realize these places were [still?] so popular.  I don't think I own a single pair of shoes that can be shined.  Anyway, oops.  That was a tangent.)  We weaved our way through about 6000 people taking pictures so we could take our own, and ended up with these matching Daddy & Ben and Mommy & Ben shots:



We skedaddled on up to FAO Swartz.   (I dare you to find a New Yorker who says skedaddled.)  Of course, there was a line to get in.  I have to give credit where credit is due though.  I was so very proud of my little man.  He must have walked a million miles through even more people and did so with (very little) complaint.  He didn't quite understand why there were lines everywhere, but that was easily explained.  After all, we did wait until New Year's Eve Eve to go there.  

I'm not entirely sure Ben was as excited about the toy store as me, but again, it was smokin' hot in there.  We did get a few photos though:

One day when I'm rich, I'm going to design my own muppet.  Or maybe not.  It seems a bit indulgent, but I have to admit it's super cool.
Riding the escalator to the 2nd floor, marveling at the thousand dollar stuffed animals.
 Posing oh-so-excitedly next to the giant Lego Chewbacca.

Next stop, we traipsed on down to Time Square, or thereabouts.  We got close enough to take a picture.  We actually just went to Walgreens, apparently.

We took the subway once more from Time Square down to near the WTC stop so we could see the Statue of Liberty from the shore (we did).  Then we walked past Ground Zero, prompting an earnest discussion with Ben that would later bring about some hard questions.

Speeding this right along, we caught the Path, got to our car, paid the equivalent of a nice date night to the states of New Jersey and Delaware in tolls, and got back to my parents house around 11pm, only to wake up to a blanket of snow on New Year's Eve morning.

Oh, one more thing.  Is "top it off" a regional term?  I said this growing up in Maryland in reference to gas.  We stopped somewhere in New Jersey for a $1 Sweet Tea at McDonalds and when Sam asked the worker to "top it off" for us, she looked at him like he had three heads.  Is that a weird thing to say?

In the end, I was thrilled we were able to take Ben.  Sure, conditions were less than optimal, but it was all part of the experience.  I hope to go again someday.  Maybe in the summertime.  It's got to be cooler than Georgia in the summer, right? 

#19 - Save more than 50% on a grocery order at Kroger.

If you're a mom, you totally understand what a treat it is to go to the grocery store alone.  And especially without a time table.  It ranks right up there with being able to take a long, hot, uninterrupted shower. 

With Sam out of town, I seem to have elicited a good bit of sympathy from my in-laws.  They regularly checked in to make sure things were okay throughout last week, and my mother-in-law came as quickly as she could on Friday afternoon to lend me a hand for the weekend.  It meant more than words could express, and that was even after an inexplicably perfect week with the three kids.  They have simply been wonderful.  Clearly, prayer works!  (Thanks everyone.)

Saturday morning, Mrs. Lisa kept the girls while Ben and I went to basketball.  I got to sit on the sidelines and actually pay attention to the game.  It was awesome.  Saturday night, she kicked me out of the house.  "Go do something," she told me.  She was determined for me to have "me time", to do something fun.  What else was there to do, but grocery shop?  As I got my list, coupons, and reusable bags ready and headed out the door, she yelled, "Take your time!  Look at the makeup!"  Then she chased after me and said, "Wait!  I didn't meant it like that!"  (I totally didn't take it like that, but it did give me a good chuckle.)

I don't remember the last time I walked up and down the aisles of Kroger with less haste.  While I was there, I decided to make it count.  I checked off #19 on the list:  Save more than 50% on a grocery order at Kroger.  This task came with several unwritten stipulations that I had enacted.  The total grocery bill had to be over $100 for it to count.  I couldn't "cheat" and only get items that I didn't want, but were practically free.  I had to actually buy things on my list, and that we would use.  I also couldn't skimp on fresh items for the sake of the task.  (I really could have accomplished this task a lot sooner without the constraints.)  With the help of my new favorite grocery saving website, my mother-in-law, and Kroger's Mega Sale event, here is the result:

So there it is.  Save more than 50% on a grocery order at Kroger....check!
Back to Top