Fun Friday...Quotable Quotes

I'll get straight to the point.  These are actual conversations I've had with my family members of late.  For your reading pleasure. 

Ready, set, go!

Me:  (in bed trying to get comfortable) I can't sleep because I keep hearing this grinding noise in my neck.
Sam:  (with a smirk)  Maybe you should get some earplugs.

Me:  (in the car, just making conversation with the kids) What do you like best?  A cow, a horse, or a donkey?
Sarah:  Horse!
Abby:  Well, actually, a goat.
Ben:  Do I have to pick?
Me: (assuming he's taking his usual diplomatic stance on favorites) What is it, Ben?  Don't want to hurt any of their feelings?
Ben:  No.  I just don't like any of them.
(Clearly he inherited his mother's feelings about farm animals.)

While discussing Halloween costumes and explaining to Abby that I would prefer for her to wait to be a witch until we can borrow Grandmom's awesome hat (or really never, but you know) Sarah pipes up, "Why does Grandmom have a witch hat?  Did she have a coupon?"  (I think you really have to know Joyce to appreciate how perfect this comment was.)

Sarah:  I'm afraid of the dark!  I don't want to close my eyes.
Sam:  What do you see when you close them?
Sarah:  Bats.
Sam:  We don't have bats in our house.
Sarah: the alarm on?
Sam:  Yes, the alarm is on.
Sarah:  So bats and bad guys can't get in?
Sam:  Right.  And we don't have bad guys here.  They all live in California.  Sorry, Mrs. Sharon. 

(Sweet follow-up the next morning)
Sarah:  I didn't dream!  And I held Abby's hand and I stayed in my bed all night!

As we checked into our first hotel in Montreal on our trip, the kids went downstairs to look at the pool (apparently, the only reason to go on vacation at all)
Abby:  They don't have a hot tub.
Me:  Not all hotel pools have hot tubs, Abby.
Abby:  Do Canadians know what hot tubs are?
Maybe I shouldn't have laughed at this, but it's not like Canada is behind the Iron Curtain or anything.

Abby:  Mommy!  Sarah's sucking on her fingers again!
Me:  Sarah Katherine!!!
Sarah:  Mommy Sarah!!!

Sarah:  You don't fit through small doors because you have a baby in your belly.

Sarah:  When you bounce "up and down, up and down" the baby goes up and down too!  (Seriously though, there is very little bouncing being done these days.)

I was singing different tones to Leah at different pitches while I was changing her diaper and she was doing her best to copy me, but she clearly prefers the lower notes. I said to her, "You can't go high?" And she immediately smiled, waved, and said, "Hi!"  Duh, Mommy.  Of course I can say "hi."

(At the dentist after having two, pretty large teeth extracted)
Dentist:  Ben did great.  I wish all of my patients were as relaxed as he was.
Ben:  (shrug) I didn't even know they'd already pulled my teeth out.  I thought they were still getting me ready.  Ahh, to be blissfully oblivious like Ben.

Sarah:  Do we do "finders keepers" in this family?
Me:  I don't think so.
Sarah:  So..."finder NOT keepers?"

Sarah: We're having sausage for breakfast?! Yummy!!! (pause) Let's name the baby "Sausage!" 

And one final one for the road -with 4.5 weeks to go at the time of the photo:

"I didn't know I was pregnant."

Happy Weekend-ing to You All!  

As for us, we are having our first-ever yard sale.  Wish us lots of success unloading our excess.  And if anyone has any tips they're dying to share with us, I'm all ears.


Whatever You Do...

I'm not going to blame my Facebook departure on anything other than my inability to cope with differing opinions and bad news.  (For the record, I'm never particularly great at coping with these things, but pregnancy hormones are having a field day with my emotional state right now.)  However, if you'd like a small glimpse into one of the things I read that I can't shake, and if you happen to not have stumbled across it in your day-to-day, here is Matt Walsh's blog post entitled "You're a stay-at-home mom?  What do you DO all day?"  (Many apologies if you think I'm about to beat a dead horse.  That's not my intention!)

Let that be our starting point, and I will try to explain some of the thoughts I've had since reading it. 

When I first read it, I found myself nodding along.  The irony of this was not lost on me.  Five years ago, reading a blog post like this would have had me shaking my head (and probably my fist) as I thought things like, "How dare this guy demean working moms in this way?!"  Having entered the realm of "staying at home" nearly three years ago, however begrudgingly, (!!!!  Say whaaaattttt!?  Where has the time gone?!), I obviously have a different perspective on not only the task of being at home, but the title of working mom.

As I read it now, the words paint for me a picture of a man who values the work his wife is doing at home with their children.  It shows a respect for the vocations of wife and mother.  And it suggests (albeit not subtly at all) that these positions are worthy.  To stay-at-home moms who don't get performance appraisals, pay increases, promotions, or awards, words like these are invaluable.  Yes.  Even from a complete stranger.  (Note to husbands - they'd be even better coming from you.  wink, wink)

Thinking back on how I would have read it five years ago, I'd have heard a man who had no appreciation for my need to exercise my brain, use my education, set an example for my children by working hard and being successful in my career, and my adept ability to manage both a home and a career.  The guilt I was already told I should feel for leaving my kids in someone else's care all day long would have been compounded.  I would have felt devalued as a successful career woman. 

But...why?  Why would I have felt this way?

Because in my feeble mind, the only way to pour value into one thing is to rob it from somewhere else. 

Thank GOD, it doesn't work that way.

My God - the Creator of the universe, the One who knew me before I was conceived, the One who redeemed my sin with the blood of His Son - is the giver of all value. 

This is good news, folks.  Because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what Matt Walsh and his blog followers think of you or me.  Or what our Facebook friends think is true.  Or what the eye-roller at the grocery store thinks as you check out with your whole brood along for the ride.  Or what the mom at the coffee store drive-thru says under hear breath as you grab an afternoon pick-me-up for yourself and your coworkers back at the office.

There's only One opinion that counts.  And that opinion comes backed up with grace upon grace, who knows we'll screw up and loves us unconditionally anyway.

The problem is that our identities are tied up in what we do instead of who we are.  Our value doesn't come from accolades and performance, whether at our workplace or in our homes.  It doesn't come from a tidy home or a merit-based promotion.  Our value comes from the God who created us and loves us.

What does this have to do with "work," you ask?

Because we all work.  Men and women, white-collar and blue-collar, at the workplace and at home, earning six-figures or barely making ends meet.  I'm not going to suggest that one works harder than the other or has a more valuable job.  Our culture is good enough at that without one more person chiming in on the matter.

Instead, I want you to think of the last person you encountered (or anyone you've ever met) who embodied these verses:
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.  Colossians 3:23

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31
For me, it's the little old man at the dump on the eastern shore of Maryland who couldn't have been a day under 80, hopping around tossing reeking trash in the scorching midday sun with a smile on his face like I've never seen before.

It's the breakfast attendant at the Residence Inn in Amelia Island, Florida who not only walks around with her wet rag ready to sop up the syrupy mess my kids will undoubtedly leave behind but with a sheet of stickers and coloring pages to pass out to every child in the room simply because she loves bringing joy to their faces.

It's the janitor at our church who sings worship songs while he vacuums.

It's the hostess at Chick-Fil-A who literally will not let me carry my own tray or retrieve my own highchair.

It's the exhausted woman at the grocery store with a cart full of kids who patiently stands her ground with the one child who is pitching a fit, despite the fact that it would be easier to just put the box of Dora fruit snacks in the cart and continue on down the aisle.

It's the butcher who makes it a point to smile and chat with every single customer who walks in his store, and won't let you leave without a brown paper bag full of bubble gum for the kids and a personal escort to carry your bag of meat to your car.

The Bible says whatever you do, do everything in Jesus' name because we are working for God, not for men.  Our goal should be for our actions to bring glory to Him.  Sometimes it may not seem like we have a glamorous position in life, because our culture says that to be successful we have to put so many hours in, make so much money, have such-and-such a degree.  Sometimes it may seem like our credentials, our finances, our accolades merit more respect than others.  Sometimes we just need to extinguish the chatter of our culture, so we can hear the words of the one that matters.  On any given day, I may fall short of my best, but I can rest easy knowing that God's mercies are new in the morning.  I can pick myself up, dust myself off, and try again.  I think it bears noting that my best and your best are two entirely different things.  Let's do our own personal best.  Period.

God calls us to work and to work hard at whatever we do. 

I don't know about you, but I think that's an excellent place to start this day.
No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

If I'd Been on Facebook Today...

Perhaps the thing I will miss about Facebook the most is sharing the constant shenanigans (which, in retrospect is probably what I should have named this blog) that go on in my world - in real time.  Something about telling my Facebook friends about my minor snafus, quips from my kids, and other major randomness made me feel like I was providing a service, even if only in the form of someone else being able to read what I had written and say, "Better you than me!"  But all is not lost.  I still have this blog.  (wink, wink) 

So, if I had been on Facebook today, these might have been some of my status updates.

All of the maternity shirts that fit me at this point (which is to say, all five of them which will have to last these next six weeks because I absolutely refuse to buy new ones - even if only two of them are acceptable to wear in public) have stains on them. I'm dirty. And I'm okay with that. Quite frankly, I'm too tired to care. And too round to notice. You're the only ones who have to see the greasy spots on my belly.

My girls went "shopping" in their closet resulting a play grocery cart full of previously hung up/sorted clothing. Tell me why I haven't installed a lock on their closet door yet.

The neighborhood boys (Ben included) claimed a pile of scrap wood from the neighbors trash pile to build a fort. It's now in my front yard. Taking bets on how long it stays there before I flip my lid.

Sarah: Leah's awake. I hear her!
Grammie: You woke her up.
Sarah: Prove it!

My kids think it's perfectly acceptable to park their bikes on the porch directly in front of our front door. It's cool.  Sorry guests, just veer around the bike parking lot.

As I lay on the couch trying desperately to claim some long-overdue, much-needed sleep, I reached into the couch crevice and touched...a chicken nugget. It's okay though. It was a plastic chicken nugget. This time.

Anyone else get angry whenever an American Girl catalog shows up in their mailbox? No? Okay, then I'll spare you my cynical speech about excess and commercialism.  (No hate mail on this one, please.)

Pre-registered at the hospital for Shep #5's birth. The woman at the counter laughed right at me when she realized she didn't need to rescan my ID or insurance card since she'd just done it last year. That's right, lady. I'm a regular baby factory. (Okay, it actually *is* a little funny.)

Seem to be suffering from pregnancy-induced amnesia. As I set my cup o' joe in the cupholder of the car during errands, Sam commented, "That's good coffee." I looked at him and said, "What coffee?"

And these are just the ones I remember.  (See above re: amnesia.)

With that off of my chest, and with other, more blog-worthy subjects on the mind, I will be back.  I think that's a promise.  If, that is, I don't forget all of those things about which I intend to write. 


The Day the Addict Decided to Quit

Maybe it's the fact that I'm so seriously sleep-deprived that I might literally snap the neck of the next person who crosses me.

Maybe it's because I have the raging hormones of a woman nearing her 34th week of pregnancy and the most minor of things brings me to tears/violent anger/complete and total loss of speech.

Maybe I'm just tired of being inundated with opinion after opinion after opinion.  Shoot, even the ones I agree with are getting on my nerves.

See?  Grumpy.

I think, even if just temporarily, I have to take drastic measures.  For my sanity.  For my family's sanity.  I have to get the heck out of Dodge off of Facebook.

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.  Well, I have one.  What used to be a fun way of sharing pictures, keeping in touch with old friends, and (ahem) publicly laughing about my kids has turned into a chronic source of stress for me.  It's probably pretty pathetic that Facebook should have such a profound effect on anyone.  And that's why I have to take steps to remedy this.

How different will my thoughts be if I'm not wondering from my kitchen what so-and-so has to say about XYZ over there in the computer?  What if I spent the time I casually spend at the computer with my husband or my kids, or taking a walk, or (dare I say) doing actual housework?  What if by separating myself from the source of my anxieties, I spare my witness by refraining from saying things I shouldn't be saying (or thinking) in the first place?

This is just temporary.  I'm too weak to make a permanent move.  But just like my Facebook fast of October 2010, when I was steadfastly committed to studying for my PE exam, I have a goal in mind.  I want to see if a three week hiatus does anything for my soul.  It certainly can't hurt.

The reason I am posting this in a blog and not as a Facebook status is because I don't want to be an attention-seeking drama queen.  I just fear that if I offered no explanation whatsoever before disappearing that someone might send the police over to make sure I hadn't dropped dead.

Hey, maybe I'll find some time to blog again.  Silver lining, folks, silver lining.  (Or not.  Maybe you hate my blog posts, in which case, hahahaha.)  Check in here if you're missing me.  Don't flatter yourself, Jennie.

If anyone is absolutely desperate to get in touch with me, please do.  Email me, text me, email me so you can text me.  You can even try calling.  I might answer.  (Probably not.  I apologize in advance.)  And with that, I'm off to delete my FB app off of my phone and make some coffee.  Because I've been awake since 3:45am and I hear the pitter patter of little feet.  My day has officially begun
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

The Day I Flashedback, Fell Down, and Lost a Kid - You Know, the Usual

It started out like any other normal day, which is to say, I woke up at 5:30am when Sam left for work, ate my [ahem, first] breakfast, fiddled around on the iPad from the comforts of my bed getting all jazzed up over our country's current state of affairs, and by some miracle managed to doze back off to sleep.  I was then woken up by the thunderous footsteps of my two smallest girls traipsing into my room around 7am.  With their snuggles, giggles, and demands for a first-thing-in-the-morning beverage, my day had officially begun.

I went to bed last night with high hopes for today.  I determined in advance not to waste a moment of the day worrying about things over which I have essentially no control [like, ahem, our country's current state of affairs].  I was going to hit the ground running with school first thing in the morning, during breakfast even because, by golly, come baby-time in November I'm going to be ahead not behind already.

You know what happens when you make plans like that?  That pesky enemy always catches wind and does whatever he can to mix up those ducks you had so neatly in a row.

We had finished our history lesson over a breakfast of donuts and cereal [it's okay, healthy eating was not on my list of aspirations for the just can't do it all every day].  And since it was only 9:30am, I let the kids out back to enjoy the gorgeous fall morning.  Seriously.  We have to enjoy those when we get them.  Leah, being the precocious 19 month old that she is, insisted on joining her sisters on the back porch where they had set up a playdoh station.  After giving explicit instructions to keep her on the porch, I began cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast [fine, you caught me, it was really from dinner last night].  As I looked out our breakfast room window a moment later, I noticed a little yellow blob at the top of the stairs on our playground.  That would be 19 month old Leah.  Preparing to step down.  And in an instant I was transported back to the fateful day in February 2011 when 21 month old Sarah tumbled down those very steps, forehead-first.

And ended up looking like this -

This time, I found myself a full backyard away, sprinting as fast as a 33-week pregnant woman can, trying to sternly warn her "No, no, Leah!" without scaring her into tumbling.  In the pro column this time, however, was big sister Sarah who managed to grab her by the arm, just as she fell.  Forehead first.  Because Sarah had her by the arm she just mildly bumped the little noggin.  Scared her to death, and me too, but she walked away unscathed.  It was playground redemption for Sarah.  I was so proud of her.  (Abby, who led baby sister out to the playground and left her unattended, however, a different story.)

While relieved to have escaped potential disaster, I came back inside (with Leah, of course) and counseled Ben on his next assignment.  Leaving him to it (or so I thought), Abby and I sat down at the kitchen table and expeditiously knocked out all of her subjects.  In record time.  I went to check on the status of Ben's math assignment.  Nothing.  Hadn't even started.  He was on the computer.  What happened next was a combination of wills - his and mine, which resulted in a show-down (no comments from the peanut gallery on engaging in a battle of wills with a 10 year old boy, he gets it honestly from his stubborn mother).  Long story short, as of 2:30pm, he still hadn't started his math work.  Or anything else for that matter.

Cranky from the show down and from having read quite a few news articles that morning, I opted to take phone call from my sister to lighten the mood.  My possessed phone hung up on her no less than three times, including the time I know it was fully charged but claimed to have a dead battery.  In the process of plugging it in, and in an effort to rescue Leah from the booster chair in our kitchen that she repeatedly buckles herself into and cries inconsolably until someone lets her out of, I got up from my bed to move into the kitchen where the charger awaited me.  As I rounded the corner, my foot literally got caught in my own favorite, pink pajama pants and I fell to the ground.  Hard.  Because, let's face it, 33-week pregnant women cannot fall gracefully.  I landed on my knees and, somehow, the top of my foot.  I played it off so well Julie didn't even know it happened until I told her.  I think I'm okay, but my dignity suffered even if no one witnessed it happening.  As the day progressed, I swelled up and bruised, but Shep #5 is perfectly fine.  And that's really what matters!

At 2:30pm, I called a mulligan and loaded up the herd, including Ben and his math books, for a trip to Starbucks.  Drive-thru, of course.  I felt better already.  All it took to reset the ten year old was the promise of a day off if he not only completed his math for today and tomorrow, but two lessons worth of all of his other subjects as well.  Turns out, that kid lives for days off.  By 6pm, he'd completed all of his schoolwork for two days.  Amazing.

So, the kids all went outside to enjoy the awesome fall evening we were having as we waited for Sam to get home.  About 15 minutes after he got here, it started to get dark so I went out and called the kids to come in.  I spotted Abby on top of the mailbox.  Ben was in the yard across the street.  Sarah was nowhere to be found.  I called inside.  Nothing.  Backyard.  Nothing.  Front yard again.  Nothing.  Her bike was in the road, obviously unoccupied.  The cul de sac was empty.  Most of the houses were dark because it's fall break and the homes where she might possibly have a playmate are temporarily vacated.  Sensing my distress, Sam walked to one end of the street while I hastened down the other and the next and the next.  By this point it was just about dark.  I saw Sam walking back toward me.  Alone.  That's when I started to panic.  It's dark.  She's nowhere to be found.  And no one in the front yard saw where she went.  I checked the playground.  Visions from The Shack came to mind (they always do), and as I re-enetered the house I looked up and saw Sam.

"She's in her bed.  Asleep.  You didn't check there?"

Well...this is Sarah.  That's literally the last place I'd ever look.  I checked her room.  Yelled her name back there even.  But I didn't check under her covers.  Poor girl.  Must have been exhausted.  I can literally count on one hand the times she has put herself to bed.  And it's usually because she's sick.  (Let's pray she's not sick, okay?)

So I cried.  Because even though nothing truly bad happened today, it was just a drainer.  And "losing" Sarah was the final straw.

Since we were all accounted for, no one was permanently injured, and Sam was home, I was able to relax.  He even got me giggling uncontrollably over, of all things, twerking.  I asked him if he could do it.  He said, he was too old and he'd probably pull a muscle.  I said I was going to try it, but only after he left for Chicago next week because I didn't want him to watch me do it.  He said, "Be careful.  You can't even walk without falling down."  Boom.  Hahahaha.  Then he filled a head of lettuce with like a gallon of water and pretended he was the salad spinner and slung water all over our unsuspecting kids and kitchen.  It's pretty hard not to laugh at that.  Love that man.

So that's when I decided to blog about it.  Because, if I'm being honest, this is a pretty normal day in this place.  Crying, laughing, show downs, near disasters, you name it.

People sometimes say to me "I could never homeschool" and "I don't know how you do it" and "How do you manage it all?" 

Here's my reply - Yes, you really could.  I don't, not by a long shot.  And I'm covered by Grace.  Lots and lots and lots of it.

I'm ending today thankful for the whole mess of it.

Thankful for babies who love me and love each other.  Thankful for their strong personalities.  Their mischief.  Their will.  Their smiles.  Their propensity to fall forehead first.  Their unanticipated moves - like putting themselves to bed at 7:15pm without dinner and snatching baby sister out of thin air in an effort to spare her from stitches.  Thankful for a husband who handles with care the fragile emotional state of his very pregnant wife, and makes me laugh despite it all.  Thankful for a God who gives me so much grace I could drown in it.  All of these things, the sum total of which is madness, but somewhere...deep down...there is method in it.

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