Saturday, December 31, 2011

Is Today The Day?

I'm going to wake up every morning of 2012 and ask, "Is today the day that something great is going to happen in my family?"

Because good things come every three years for us.

In 2003 we got married.

In 2006 The Rock Star was born.

In 2009 The Little Buddy was born.

What does 2012 hold for us?

Only time will tell.

Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye

My parents, brother, and sister-in-law left at noon.

The boys got bunk beds for Christmas and I sold the crib tonight.

It's a sad day.

It's icky living away from family. It's the ickiest on the day they leave after a great visit.

My babies are all grown up and neither of them need a crib anymore.

Goodbye family. Goodbye crib.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rock, Paper, Scissors

As we laughed over games last night, my dad suddenly said, "You know what I never learned how to do?" We stared at him waiting for his answer. "I never learned how to play Rock, Paper, Scissors."

My husband, brother, sister-in-law and I blinked back in astonishment.

"I don't know how either," my mom nonchalantly mentioned.

"What? How do you make all your major life decisions?" My sister-in-law questioned comically and we all erupted into hysterics.

I offered to quickly teach them as this clearly falls into the category of things one should have learned in grade school. My mom, apparently feeling that this is a skill she does not need to master after more than fifty years without it, declined in favor of continuing to play the game we were already engrossed in.

I fully intend to hold them captive in my home until I'm confident that they can face the world with this important skill. I may have my five-year-old teach them. After all, how on earth have they been making all their life decisions?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mini Mart Santa

It just so happened that when my husband opened his stocking gifts, the first three were as follows:

1. A small bag of Doritos.
2. A bottle of Gatorade.
3. A small bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

After the third gift he said, "I think Santa forgot about me and stopped at a mini mart along the way." And it was hilarious. The way he said it and the fact that it was entirely possible given what he'd received made the rest of us burst into laughter.

Later he went on to open a t-shirt, a book, and several other less-Quicki Martish items but I think he might be on to something. Maybe next year Santa really will stuff a stocking with only gas station items. Any ideas? What's something really good that Santa could grab at the local Chevron?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I Celebrate

Merry Christmas!

May you all have a blessed day.

And the first time that You opened your eyes
Did you realize that You would be my Savior
And the first breath that left your lips
Did You know that it would change this world forever


And I celebrate the day
That you were born to die
So one day I could pray for You to save my life


-Relient K

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sentences

"I buckil mysilf."

"Daddy home!"

"I tell Santa I want toooools."

"Tick-o me, mommy!"

"Come ah brudda, let wessil."

"Dear Jesus. Tank you mama. Tank you daddy. Tank you Gahwit. Tank you Mahew."

Matthew's nearly three-year-old voice is one of my favorite things these days. I simply can't get enough of the sweet sound. He speaks in stream of consciousness, having just walked up to me with this:

"What dat smill? A cand-o? I smill it. I go uptairs and suck my fum in my bed. Okay mommy? I want my gamma here wite now!"

I hope that when I'm old and senile I can still remember the way my baby's sounded as they began to truly conquer language.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Daddy Touched the Elf

Oh these elves.

They're full of it.

Sometimes they steal the boys' toys during the night and are found playing with them the next day. Sometimes they're slurping on candy canes. Sometimes, one of them hides in a tree and Daddy turns on the lights and a certain five-year-old completely freaks out thinking that his elf is going to catch on fire.

Then Daddy touches the elf's face in an attempt to position him away from the light and all Christmas mayhem breaks loose.

Troy explained to Garrett that it was fine. He was saving the elf from certain doom. We thought he'd explained enough and that Garrett had let it go.

But then, Santa came to preschool.

When it was my son's turn, he hopped up on Santa's lap and immediately launched into what can only be described as a filibuster. Santa couldn't get a word in edgewise. After a good minute, I jumped up from my seat and said, "Garrett, you need to let Santa talk too."

"It's okay," Santa looked at me with a smile. "He's just explaining to me why his dad had to touch his elf. He wants to make sure everything is okay."

Apparently my son was harboring deep concern over what sort of punishment our family would receive for breaking the elfin rules. Santa assured him that all was well and that he was very glad that Garrett's daddy had saved his elf from permanent damage.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Church on Christmas?

Last night I posted.

A rambling I called Church on Christmas? It was up for about six hours so chances are, a lot of you had the opportunity to read it. After a certain paragraph prompted a response (by a long time reader of this blog) in which it was clear that I caused unintentional hurt, I ended up taking it down. When I went to bed last night, I began to pray that the post would be read and interpreted the way it was intended, as a defense of my Lord and Savior. Pretty quickly it became clear to me that I should take it down. That I might ruin friendships. That it really isn't up to me to pick up my sword and attack. In the garden of Gethsemane, Christ tells Peter to put down his sword. And in Psalm 64:3 we're told, "They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows." (Granted, that second part is out of context, but the inspired Word of God calls the tongue a sword, nonetheless.) In this case, I think what my fingers type is akin to what my tongue says. I felt like God was telling me to put down my sword. So I had my husband, who hadn't yet gone to bed, take the post down for me.

It's not that I don't think my points are valid, because I do. But I wrote the post from such a place of heartbreak over the American church that my ramblings could easily have been construed as hurtful to others. So I've eliminated the ramblings and boiled my thoughts down to four points.

The bullet points of the post go a little something like this.

-I disagree with church leadership canceling church on Sunday if they are a church that meets every other Sunday of the year.

-I think Christmas is actually the second worst day to cancel church, second only to Easter.

-This isn't a commentary on the church attenders choosing to stay home. (Or have valid reasons to not attend, like travel, illness, work, etc.) It's a commentary on church leadership.

-As a member of church leadership, I disagree with the notion that leadership needs the day off. We get Christmas off six times out of seven. We don't get days off from our faith and we shouldn't want them. Celebrating with your family certainly doesn't make someone any less of a Christian, but closing the doors to a church on a day that only exists because of Christ seems like a problematic contradiction to what we should be trying to do, which is reach the world with the Gospel of Christ.

That's pretty much it in a nutshell. I went on and on in last night's post. But it really isn't necessary. I'm disappointed in our nation. All around the world, believers are fighting for the chance to assemble together but the American church is canceling Christmas services--and on Christ's birthday no less.

But it isn't my fight. Our church will be open. The Lord doesn't need me to defend Him. He certainly doesn't need me to ruin relationships. I love my fellow believers and I should not stand in judgement of them. I just disagree with their choice on this particular matter.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Beans and Onions

My family is coming for Christmas. Well, my parents are coming for Christmas and my brother and sister-in-law are coming two days after. Although, their visit is a surprise to my boys. A surprise I am bound and determined to ruin. I wrapped their presents and put them under the tree. "Mommy, why is Uncle Jon's present under the tree?"

"So he can open it when he gets..." I got to this point in my answer before realizing my blunder. "Uh, when he gets it from Grandma and Grandpa after they take it to him."

Later in the week he asked me why we were cleaning the office. "Um. Well. Grandma and Grandpa are coming."

"Yeah," he answered. "But they sleep in the guest room."

"But they might bring a lot of stuff and need the office too." I lied through my teeth.

Today I took my oldest son with me to two grocery stores because I don't want to go anywhere near anything with a parking lot between tomorrow and Christmas. The Little Buddy stayed home with his daddy and The Rock Star and I took off.

Halfway through our shopping trip, Garrett called his grandma. He informed her that we were shopping for things she could eat while she was here. She asked him what we had in the cart. "Beans. Another kind of beans. Another kind of beans. And an onion!" He answered.

This was the point where my mom almost blew my brother's visit by saying, "Oh, Uncle Jon will be happy." She caught herself and the secret is still safe. For now. She got on the phone with me. "So, you're feeding us beans and onions, huh?"

"Well, you know, I'm on a budget. It's just beans and onions for you."

And, just for the record, we had way more than beans and an onion in the cart. There was also taco seasoning and disposable razors.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ban on Cell Phones

A federal safety board called Tuesday for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging devices while driving.
The recommendation is the most far-reaching yet by the National Transportation Safety Board, which in the past 10 years has increasingly sought to limit the use of portable electronic devices -- recommending bans for novice drivers, school bus drivers and commercial truckers. Tuesday's recommendation, if adopted by states, would outlaw non-emergency phone calls and texting by operators of every vehicle on the road.

This includes hands free devices. I just have one question for the NTSB. If the goal is less accidents, less distracted drivers, why not ban children from being in cars? Ever. I assure you that I am much more distracted by the sounds of my toddler screaming, my five-year-old talking incessantly, my toddler saying, "Yook ah me, mommy! Yook at what I doing. Yook. Mama? Mama? Hey mommy. Yook. YOOK!", my five-year-old whining because he dropped something onto the floor. 
I promise you that I am much less distracted by my cell phone than I am by my sweet little backseat crew. If we're going to ban cell phones, we really ought to ban kids. And eating. And listening to and/or adjusting the radio. We probably shouldn't have passengers in the front seat either.
I'm just saying.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Elfin Fun

I grew up with an elf. He came and stayed for the month of December, moving around the house at night while I was sleeping, checking on my brother and me, making sure we were being nice and not naughty. He magically went back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve and reported to Santa. 

And you know what? I wasn't scared for life. I didn't have trouble trusting my parents once I found out that the whole experience was basically a giant trick. And, wait for it, I didn't stop believing in Jesus when I discovered the truth that Santa--and his elfin minions--weren't real. 

I was discerning enough to understand that while there wasn't really a big fat man in a red suit shimmying down chimneys in what can only be described as breaking and entering, there was a Creator because, logically, how else did we all get here? Call me smart like that but I'm fairly certain most kids have the ability to realize that there is a God-sized whole inside of them that Santa isn't designed to fill. We need God and He reveals Himself constantly to those who seek Him.

I have no problem with parents who don't do the Santa thing. None at all. We don't do the Easter bunny. And before you go calling me a hypocrite for pretending to believe in Santa but not the rabbit let me explain my reasoning. St. Nicholas was a real life dude. He delivered gifts to kids at Christmas. We can tell our children about the truth of the person of St. Nick. The bunny has absolutely nothing to do with Easter. (Although, I certainly don't have a problem with other families having a bunny leave eggs at their houses.) I understand not telling your kids about Santa because I absolutely believe in doing whatever it takes to make sure the children understand the true and only real reason for Christmas.

But we do Santa here. (Always, always, first making sure that our children are being trained up to know that Jesus, in a manger, in Bethlehem is the only thing that really matters.)

And we do the elf thing.

Our elves showed up on the porch on the 1st of December. We have two because I want to be able to send one with each boy when they grow up and have children of their own.
Last year, my oldest son named his elf (the blue eyed one) Finn Mooserider. He wanted to name him Flynn Rider because he'd just seen Tangled. We settled on a compromise and his elf got a silly name that was not based on a cartoon. Matthew wasn't even two so I named his for him. Booker T. Elfington is the dark eyed elf.

My boys absolutely think these things are alive and well and reporting to Santa. Nevermind their lack of hands and feet. Nevermind their ridiculous flannel outfits. Nevermind the frozen expressions that never change. Booker and Finn are alive with the magic of Christmas.

And they have been up to no good. They've been found eating cookies and candies. They've confiscated Garrett's pirate boats and been found doing battle. They've been caught sleeping (with their eyes open, of course) in the bathroom, in a basket, tucked in under a hand towel. They are now suspended in a small toy food basket, from the light fixture in the kitchen.

Sometimes the oldest tells the youngest, "Be good, the elves are watching." I always follow this with, You should be good all the time because Jesus is always watching.


He swears he's seen them move.

And I remember that. I remember not even believing in Santa anymore but being just certain that the elves had blinked or nodded their heads. They're not real. I would tell myself. They can't move. Still, a part of me held onto that crisp excitement that there was the smallest of chances they just might.

One year, I crept up to the elf, knowing that it wasn't real, and touched it. I remember thinking, Huh. I guess it really is fake. He's made of plastic. But this was at least a few years after I stopped believing in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.

I never stopped believing in Jesus.

I hope that my children understand that some things we do to experience the pure joy of childlike Christmas fun but that God and His Son reign forever. I hope that they appreciate the excitement we had in watching the delight on their faces every morning upon discovering their elves.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Need A Silent Night

The Christmas season kicked off on December 3 with our Women's Brunch. Like a snowball spinning uncontrolled down a mountain, gaining speed and size, causing, perhaps, an avalanche, it hasn't slowed down since. I have your average, every day, run of the mill Christmas duties like speaking at another church's luncheon 90 minutes north and spending numerous hours directing the youth in the annual musical. Wait? Are those not every day commitments for most people? Ah well.

On top of that, the calendar is packed with other excitements such as birthday parties, five-year-old gatherings, cookie decorating at a friend's house with my sons wearing adorable hand crafted table cloth aprons, wrapping, decorating, baking, a baby shower, etc, etc, etc.

All of this despite the fact that I wanted to make a conscious effort to slow things down this year, to enjoy hot chocolate with my boys in front of the fireplace, to watch holiday movies snuggled up to my husband, to focus on the gift that was given to us on that day so long ago and not on the gifts under the tree. Each event is special and important and I have no idea what I would have cut out.

Still, I can't help but think that next year, something's got to give. Next year I might not be able to be at Boondock's on Thursday night, a three hour rehearsal on Friday night, get up again on Saturday morning to go to a baby shower, and be back at the church in the mid afternoon to direct a performance. Next year I am going to have to figure out how to strike a better balance between Christmas fun and extreme insanity.

Because, maybe at Christmas, this song shouldn't be on an endless loop in one's mind.


Or maybe, by next Christmas, I might have forgotten all about how crazy this season was and sign myself up for even more.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sleepy Hamburger

What stinks about this picture is that it's staged. It's a reenactment which doesn't even come close to being as adorable as the real thing.
(Notice his crazy car seat hair)

The last day of our Thanksgiving trip to California involved waking up at 5:45 and heading to The Happiest Place on Earth. My inlaws--who were also in San Diego--treated us to a day at the park. We needed to leave in the late afternoon because we were spending the night in the St. George area which is approximately seven hours from Anaheim. You know, with kids. Who take awhile to hoist themselves out of the car, use the bathroom, and get back in.

Needless to say, we were all pretty exhausted by the time we actually hit the road--especially the kids. All three of the boys fell asleep pretty quick into our drive--thankfully, I was driving--and so I pushed on to Baker before stopping for dinner. It was a very late meal and it was difficult to rouse The Rock Star from his slumber. We finally managed.

We filled up on gas, went to the bathroom, and bought dinner. As we drove off toward Vegas, Garrett was talking up a storm. "You need to be quiet and eat," we finally told him. Little did we know, the chatter was the only thing keeping him awake. Suddenly, it was very very quiet. I turned on the light and spun around in my seat--thankfully, Troy was now driving. My oldest son was sound asleep with his hamburger in his hand. He looked exactly like he does in the picture except that in real time his arm was bent at the elbow and he was somehow holding his hamburger up in the air. His head was also at a more uncomfortable angle.

Without having the presence of mind to take a picture, I woke him up and encouraged him to eat. He whined feebly, "I'm too tired to eat." We'd bought him onion rings--one of his favorite things--but had told him he needed to eat his burger first. Hearing the exhaustion in his voice I went back on our prior rule and asked him if he wanted the onion rings instead. He did.

Two onion rings later, he was nodding off again. I kept trying to get him to talk to me and eat a few more rings but it was mostly a futile attempt to get food into the kid. When he crashed back into sleep I think he'd had a third of a burger and about four small onion rings.

But he'd sure had a blast at Disneyland that day.

(We staged this photo after arriving at my aunt's house around midnight.)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tebow Time

My status update on Facebook reads, "To the doubters and unbelievers: There is a God and Tim Tebow has found His favor.


My brother wrote about the Tebow phenomenon and he said it better than I could.

If you know me at all, you know that I am a serious San Diego Chargers fan. I have been for about the last 18 years. When it comes to the AFC West, I want the Chargers at the top every time. I despise the Raiders and the Chiefs but I used to be able to take or leave the Broncos. Obviously I wanted the Chargers to beat them when they played each other but otherwise they could win or lose. It didn't really matter to me. Then the Broncos put Cutler at the helm and I added them to my list of teams to hate. I cannot stand Cutler. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a player I dislike more although, these days, Tom Brady is a relatively close second.

When I watched the draft in 2010 (if I hadn't already alienated 90% of my readers in the first few sentences of this post, I'm fairly certain I just did. I mean, really, you come here to read stories of my dirty boys. I regale you with vignettes about fecal matter and vomit. On occasion, perhaps, if I'm lucky, I challenge you to dig deeper into your faith. But sports. You draw the line at knowing that I watched the draft. I'm sorry. Please come back tomorrow.) I audibly cried out, "NO!" when the Denver Broncos drafted Tim Tebow. Why? Because I really like Tebow. And I had grown quite accustomed to hating the Broncos under Cutler. Even when Cutler was traded I still detested Denver simply for the fact that they had, at one time, employed him. I just knew that I couldn't hate the Broncos if Tebow was their starting QB.

In the past few weeks, I've watched this very scenario unfold. I needed the Broncos to lose today to bring my Chargers within one game of the lead in the division. For this reason, I was pulling for the Bears but when I saw the same overtime situation playing out once again, I couldn't help but know exactly how it was going to end.

God is using Tim Tebow. Do I think they'll win the Superbowl, not really. Do I think God is showing favor upon this man who takes every opportunity to shout the name of his Savior across the air waves? Yes. Yes I do.

Next week the Broncos play the Patriots. I need the Patriots to win if there is to be any hope at all of my Chargers making the playoffs (a ridiculous long shot at this point). But you know what, in all likelihood I am going to cheer for Tebow's team. Today, Tom Brady screamed at his offensive coordinator. He let the expletives fly as he sat looking like a spoiled brat. Tim Tebow praised the Lord that we both worship. As I grow up I realize that it's all about furthering the kingdom of heaven. Deep down, it is rarely all about the Chargers.

So next Sunday I'm a Broncos fan.

Go Tebow!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Speaking

I don't know where this speaking thing is going. I don't know if God will cultivate it into a full blown speaking schedule someday or if I'll never again have another church ask me to share. But I know that I am so thankful for the opportunities I've been given so far.

Today I had the chance to share the word of God at a church in Brigham City. I spoke mainly on Philippians 2:1-8 about making connections and how Christ came down and humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross. I talked about David and Jonathan and their incredible friendship. I talked about the baby Savior in a manger. And I plugged in Christmas lights and made an example out of them. Even though all these things sound like they're all over the place, I'm pretty sure it's what God wanted me to say. I'm pretty sure He blessed it. I'm pretty sure it worked.

I love (read: LOVE) the opportunity to meet and fellowship with like-minded, Jesus loving believers. I love the preparation that goes into a session and the journey the Lord takes me on while I'm writing, rewriting, practicing, and praying. I love to share my passion for my Savior.

I am so thankful that God led me to an event at a little church in Brigham City this morning and (hopefully) spoke through me.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Birthday For Jesus

I wrapped the gifts we bought for the boys and placed them under the tree. "Don't you think Matthew will open them all before Christmas?" Troy asked.

I hadn't really thought about that but I shrugged, "I hope not. I'll tell him not to in the morning and hope he listens." I then proceeded to strategically place the gifts so that he would have to go through all of his own before he got to his brother's. I figured that I'd hear the crinkling paper before he got all of Garrett's presents opened prematurely.

Neither boy really paid any attention to the gifts. At one point, Garrett did inform me that there were presents under the tree but they didn't even look closely at them. Last night, when I turned on the lights on the tree, Matthew followed me. He gently put his hands on one of the presents and started to pick it up.

I asked him to put it down. Then I dropped to my knees and pulled my youngest boy close. "Matthew, please don't open any of these presents until I tell you it's okay. Do you understand?"

He smiled sweetly and then put his mouth next to my ear. Whispering, he told me, "Mommy, doze burtday presins for Jesus." (Mommy, those birthday presents for Jesus.)

While I don't know that Jesus wants a pair of fuzzy Dinosaur Train crocs or a size 6 snow jacket, I was so happy that my youngest son, my not quite three-year-old, knows that Christmas is about Jesus's birthday. It actually warms my heart that he doesn't yet realize he gets gifts on the Savior's special day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thankful

Head over to Givin' In A Fishbowl and enter the contest for a free $25 Sam's Club card and a big box of Chex cereal!
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I am thankful that 9 years ago my husband and I went on our first date.

I am thankful that 6 years ago I first knew that my oldest son and I were both cohabitating in my body.

I am thankful for the joy that both of them have brought me.

I am thankful to the Lord for giving them to me.

And I am thankful for my youngest son who has nothing to do with December 7 but who I love just as much as the two boys that do.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Then & Now

Don't forget to enter the giveaway at www.familyfishbowl2.blogspot.com. Only four more days to enter. Lots of ways to win!
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My friend sent me a link to her sister's youtube page.

I can't believe this was Garrett just two years ago.


Although, I can't believe that this is Garrett now, either. I mean, six years ago tomorrow, I found out I was pregnant with him. He was the size of a pea for heaven's sake. He was nothing but a gray blob on the ultrasound with a tiny heart beating in the center. And now he recites poems.
video
He learned that for preschool. The assignment was to memorize a poem to get a button for their bags. These buttons are prized possessions. I found the poem online and read it to Troy. He chuckled and said, "That might be a little long for him since he wants to do it tomorrow." Garrett had it mostly memorized Sunday night and got it down pat Monday morning. When I picked him up from school, his teacher gave me the thumbs up.

"His poem was great!"

Six years ago, teeny little embryo. Today...well, today he's a big boy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Appyboneteet

Today at church, I let The Rock Star have a donut. He chose a particularly chocolaty one, lifted it to his mouth and smiled, "Appy Bone Teet!"

I laughed, "Do you mean bon appetit?"

"Oh. Sure. Bone appy teet! And yum."



Sorry! I accidentally posted my giveaway here. Whoops. I moved it over to the place it belongs. So head over to Givin' In A Fishbowl and enter already! (I think I moved all the comments as well, but you might want to check to be sure.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Giveaway

Guess what?

I've got a giveaway going on over at Givin' In A Fishbowl.

Who doesn't like free cereal and gift cards?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Peter

It seems like forever ago that Garrett started begging for a pet.

"You have a dog and a cat," I told him.

"But I really want my own pet that I take care of," he'd replied.

We kept saying no.

Over the summer, Garrett started going through a really annoying phase of sleeping in his room for a few hours and then sneaking into our room and finishing the night on the floor. It didn't matter what we did, we could not get him to stay in his own bed.

We treated the situation as tenderly as we could since both Troy and I were afraid of our own rooms at one point or another when we were kids. Still, it was something we wanted to try to curb.

We implemented a system where he would earn points by staying in his bed. For each point he got to put a sticker on that date on the calendar. When he reached a certain number he would get the reward he was working for.

The first reward was for three nights of staying in his bed. He earned a candy pop that he'd been eyeing.

After that he had to go ten days but the prize was a trip to Leatherby's for ice cream.

Then he asked for a pet. A fish to be exact. I was pretty thrilled that all he asked for was a fish. He didn't ask for a three-toed sloth or a python or a wildebeest, thankfully. Troy and I talked about it and decided that if he could stay in his bed forever or, like, two months, he could earn a fish.

With about two weeks left, I bought the bowl, the rocks, a net and the plant (for $8) and set them up. He just had to wait for the fish to be in it. When we got home from our recent trip we went to the pet store.

For twelve dollars we purchased the fish, the water drops, the food, and a small thermometer. All in all a pretty cheap pet since the food and water drops will last longer than the fish. (Although my betta in college, a one Moby Dick, lived forever so who knows...)

Meet Garrett's very own fish, Peter the Betta.
How did he come up with the name Peter for a fish, you might be wondering. "Well, Peter was a fisherman. And he also sunk into the water, just like a fish," Garrett informed me.

And of course Peter the Betta is a male. Of course he is. Because if anything else with estrogen came into our house, there's no telling what might happen.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Macaroni Mess

Matthew just learned the hard way that we do not throw half a bowl of macaroni and cheese over the table and down into the family room.

He learned the hard way that a lot of it gets stuck on the wall.

He learned the hard way that more of it messily plops to the floor.

He learned the hard way that while the dog will eat some of it, most of it will land on top of his hairy back and stick there.

He learned the hard way that when I see the mess, the best idea is not to look at me, laugh, and declare proudly, "I feeding doggie!"

He learned the hard way that while it might take a toddler just a few moments to throw macaroni all over the house, it takes him much, much longer to pick each piece up and put it in the the trash.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Firefighter

My parents have a very sensitive smoke detector. It's just outside the bathroom door and anytime anyone takes a shower she has close the door behind her when she's finished or the steam will set it off. With some degree of regularity, someone forgets to lock the steam in the bathroom when he leaves. Every time we stay here, the smoke alarm goes off.

On Thursday morning, the food was cooking, the house was clean, and a fire was crackling in the wood burning stove. For reasons I'm still slightly unsure of, the stove suddenly began billowing smoke from all of its nooks and crannies. It had something to do with my dad turning on the house fan. Several of us were in the kitchen. My mom kept trying to find the source of the alarm, checking the microwave, the toaster oven, all the different timers she'd set. I figured it was the smoke detector being screwy again. We soon realized that the entire family room was filling with smoke.

My dad turned off the house fan and began opening windows. Let me be clear, THERE WAS NO FIRE (other than in the stove, where it is supposed to be). There was only smoke. A lot of smoke. We all opened more windows and began fanning the smoke out. A minute or two later, my dad turned to go down the hall. That's when he noticed my son, fighting the "fire" that wasn't.

When he'd noticed the smoke, Garrett had run into the front yard, turned on the hose, pulled it up to the front door, and was spraying water through the screen and into the house.

The clean house.

The house that was eagerly awaiting guests.

The house that was not on fire.

Maybe we have a firefighter in the making.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Plans For The Day

I can't wait to tell you the story about my oldest son and his recent fire fighting stunt but it'll just have to wait because I have to go take a shower. My mom, sister-in-law, and I are all going to go have a shop 'til we drop kind of day.

There will be lunch.

And some kind of delicious drink from some kind of coffee shop.

And shopping.

Maybe tonight I can tell you about how my five-year-old likes to put out fires.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

I am thankful.

That I have a husband who loves me.
Holds me.
Gets me.
And two boys who are so much more than I deserve.

I am thankful for good parents--then and now.
For a brother I wouldn't trade for anything.
For grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and inlaws.

I am thankful for good friends.
Friends who laugh and share and converse.
Friends who pray.

I am thankful for food.
Fellowship.
The ocean
The mountains
The valleys. Yes, even the valleys.

I am thankful for
The Way
The Truth
The Life.
My Jesus
My Savior
Redeemer

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Can Anything Good Come From Nazareth?

I had a great lunch with a friend the other day.

We talked about Jerusalem and, well, everywhere else. Samaria. Even Nazareth. Because can anything good come from Nazareth? (John 1:46)

We talked about Utah and, well, everywhere else.

It's not easy being called to minister in Utah.

But He calls.

We answer.

Ministry is hard. But it is ever so sweet.

There were several new faces in church on Sunday morning. Jerusalem would be easier. But Christ has come to Nazareth, to Samaria, to Utah. We will preach the good news.

He saves. And I am thankful.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

National Adoption Day

Today is National Adoption Day. A day to advocate. A day to remember.

I remember.

I remember meeting his mother for the first time. I remember flying home to Utah and knowing that my heart was back in southern California, with my unborn son.

I remember seeing his face for the very first time. I remember how head over heels in love with him I was with just one look.

I remember feeling like my soul had been thrown into a blender. I remember trying to breathe and knowing that my heart had never hurt like that before. I remember memorizing his face, terrified that he'd be taken away from me, knowing that I couldn't forget a single detail.

I remember so many moments of those painful fourteen months. I remember sobbing over my child and begging the Lord to do whatever it took for Matthew to have the very best life possible. I remember the judge officially giving my son our last name.

Nearly three years after we first met Matthew's mother and a year and a half after we legally adopted him, I cannot imagine my life without him in it. Adopt [uh-dopt]: to rear as one's own child, specifically by a formal, legal act. But sometimes I forget that I didn't give birth to him. The heart pains involved in Matthew's adoption far exceed the labor pains I felt with my first born. (Granted there's no epidural for adoption--that may have helped tremendously.) I find myself wondering if he got a certain trait from me or his father before realizing that if it has anything to do with either of us it's purely nurture.

A few weeks ago, Matthew had his hands folded. Troy and I both cross our left thumb over our right so, naturally, Garrett does as well. Matthew was in my lap and I looked down at his hands. Left over right. I know he got that from his first parents but it made me so happy. He's just like us, I thought.

And he isn't. I know that. He's curly haired, nearly black eyed, and incredibly stout. But watching nature and nurture unfold is simply incredible. He will tell you that his name is Matthew and that it means gift of God. Not long ago our five-year-old nearly started crying in the car. "I want to be gift of God!" We explained what his name meant, To Watch or Strength of the Spear--like a guard. His middle name, John, meaning God is Gracious. "I want to be gift of God!" He said again, more emphatically.

"I gift of God!" Matthew exclaimed.

"You are both gifts from God," Troy explained. "But Matthew's name actually means that." Of course, they are both my incredible blessings from heaven.

Adoption is such an absolutely miraculous gift. So, today, on this National Adoption Day, I remember.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Home For the Holiday

I haven't been in San Diego for Thanksgiving since a few days before we moved here. (I haven't been home for Christmas either.) The first two Novembers that we lived here I cooked and we hosted my inlaws. Last year we went to Oregon. Thankfully, my inlaws have a Thanksgiving that is very similar to what I grew up with. The menus are nearly identical. I'm so glad that I didn't marry into a family that ate bizarre things or omitted the green bean casserole (oh the humanity!). These last three Thanksgivings have been wonderful.

This year, I get to go home. Most of my extended family will be there. I can almost taste the mashed potatoes, marshmallow covered yams, and green bean casserole. I can almost smell the turkey cooking. I'll wake up in my old bedroom, the one that still has a few glowing stars on the ceiling--leftover from my early teenage years.

Garrett is counting the days until our trip in sleeps. There are two sleeps left, to be exact.

And then I'll be home for the holiday.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Q Is For...

Both of my boys were, in my opinion, late talkers. The Rock Star only said about twenty words before he turned two. However, by two and a half he was speaking in paragraphs. One man shows. Novels. Non stop. The Little Buddy talked even later than his brother.

But now, he too, pretty much won't stop talking.

Last night I sat with him and we worked on vocabulary words. I showed him a picture and he told me what it was. On one side is a letter and on the other side is a picture and a word. I would say, "A is for..." and show him the picture.

"Ant," he would supply.

"B is for..."

"Banana."

And so on. There were some pictures that stumped him. He calls the orange a ball every time. For some strange reason, the J flash card has a picture of jeans. Really? Not J is for jam. Not J is for jug. Nope. J is, obviously, for jeans. So every time we go through the cards, Matthew tells me that J is for pants. I say, "Very good but these are actually jeans which are a type of pants."

Last night, when we got to Q, I laughed out loud. "Q is for..."

"God" Matthew exclaimed, stabbing a finger directly onto Washington's face.

I don't know if Washington's long hair reminds my son of Jesus or what but it sure made me giggle.

"It's a quarter," I explained.

"Oh," he nodded. "Co-dah. Not God."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Snuggle Time

Matthew places his two chubby hands on my cheeks. He pulls my face right up to his and gently puts his lips on mine. He makes a loud smacking sound well after the kiss is over. "Nuggle," he says, because he does not yet pronounce s's at the beginning of words. He wants me to climb into his bed and hold him tight.

I do.

This child, conceived in my heart, wraps his arms around my neck. I press my cheek to his and we stay that way for a few minutes. I try to leave and he refuses to let go. With his arms still firmly around my neck I begin to stand. His small toddler body lifts up, he hangs on. "Doh go, Mommy!" he whispers. "Nuggle mo-ah."

Unlike his brother, he won't fall asleep while we're cuddling. At some point, I have to go. "Matthew," I say, "it's time to go to sleep." He whimpers.

"I love you."

"Lub ew," he says through tears.

I pull the door mostly shut behind me and stand there for a moment. 

My whole life, it seems, is in bed behind that door. One miracle that I never thought I'd have and another miracle that I thought I was going to lose. It strikes me. I love them with a consuming passion. 

But God, He loves them even more.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Maudy

My youngest child has taken to calling both his father and me, Maudy. At first it was reserved for Troy and I assumed that, what with being around me all day, every day, he was just wired to say, "Mommy." And that, halfway through, he realized he actually wanted his daddy and changed the name accordingly.

Troy would, rather ineffectively, say, "Buddy, I'm DAddy."

Then, Matthew just started calling both of us Maudy. He still refers to us as Mommy and Daddy most of the time (or Mama, Dada, Mom, or Dad) but several times a day we get the more universal moniker. The way he says it is absolutely adorable and I would so get it on video if I had a clue when it was coming.

The other day, he switched it up on us. Toddling into the room in need of assistance, he looked at me and said, "Dammy, hep me."

I'll take Maudy over Dammy any day of the week.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Submission

I was head over heels in love with Troy and we were barreling toward marriage but if I let myself think about one subject in particular, I nearly broke out in hives. Troy was a pastor and had been since before I knew him. I pretty much figured he was going to be taking those pesky submission verses to heart. He'd never lorded over me before but that was my working definition of the dreaded word. To be lorded over. Ruled with an iron thumb. Stripped of one's former identity.


I wasn't that kind of girl. Submission was for weak minded women who wanted to be rescued. I was strong. Willed. I never backed down from a fight. I was bossy and assumed that, at least 50% of the time, I outta wear the pants. I didn't want to lose my identity somewhere under my husband's thumb.

One day, with trepidation, I brought up the subject with my fiance. And he took me through the verses, in depth.

Ephesians 5: 22 "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord." Yeah. I didn't much like that one. At that point, at the tender age of 21, I was still working through the part about submitting to the Lord. And He's perfect and His will for my life is perfect. Submitting to my husband, a fallible man? Preposterous. But Troy just kept right on going.

Ephesians 5:25, 28-29 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her...So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church." Hmmm. It was, at the very least, getting better. At least my husband was also expected to love me as Christ does. What a tall order. What a much, much taller order than simply submitting.

I remember Troy explaining submission and defining his role. "If I love you and respect you, I will never lord over you." He went on to explain that he chose a strong-willed woman. He wanted a wife who would challenge his thinking, debate, and stand up for her thoughts and feelings. He said that if we had a disagreement, we would talk about it, argue about it, whatever, and that if and when we reached an impasse, after careful prayer and consideration, he would make the final call.

It's never happened. Not in eight years of marriage. Oh sure, there have been times when, in the heat of an argument I've yelled sarcastically, "Fine! I submit to you! You're right. I'm wrong!" (This, by the way, is not submission. These, by the way, are not my finer moments.)

I can only think of one time when I said, honestly, "You decide. I submit to you." Troy didn't have to leave his ministry in southern California. He didn't have to take the job here. We went back and forth and around in circles. I prayed and prayed and never felt that God gave me an answer. So I made the decision that, since Troy is the one with the master's degree in exegetical theology, he needed to make the call. Because, without a clear word from the Lord, I never would have chosen to leave my life, my family, everything I'd ever known. He felt that the Lord was leading us here. I submitted to that decision and loaded my life into a U-Haul.

In eight years he has never told me to submit to him. Not once. That would defeat the purpose. My heart has to be willing for it to work.

To submit means, literally, to put under. To my 21 year old self this looked like an identity squashing at the very least. A heavy boot descending upon all that I was. To my 30 year old self, it looks like deep and abiding covenant love. It looks like protection. To put under as in, a protective arm around me. He will defend me to anyone every time. Christ gave Himself for the church and Ephesians calls my husband to do the same for me. I trust him. He takes the blame. He's held responsible. He gives his life for me, maybe.

This is submission.

I wonder what the world would look like if we lived Ephesians 5:21 "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Volume of Poop

I was going to try to write some thought provoking post on submission. That'll have to wait. In the life of a mom with young kids there are things that take precedent over writing about the biblical principle of submission.

Things like poop.

Dude. The day when I am no longer dealing with diapers simply cannot get here soon enough.

We've been putting Matthew in Pull Ups during the day and a diaper at night. This works well. Troy and I are very trained to take Matthew to the potty once every hour or two. I pretty highly doubt that he's actually trained but he is learning to hold it until we remind him to go--most of the time.

Unfortunately, the kid really enjoys pooping during his nap. I cannot find a single, solitary reason for this because few things would gross me out more than pooping myself in my sleep.

He had a really bad diaper Pull Up a couple days ago. It was everywhere. On his pants. From his waist to the back of his knees. It was nothing compared to the one I just changed.

Poop was E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. And each of those letters represents it's own sentence. It was that bad. On his pants. On his shirt. On his back up to his shoulder blades. On his legs. On the new bath mat. On the tile. The entire upstairs smells like a fecal matter factory. I don't think that's actually a thing. I hope it's not.

I sort of whimpered the entire time I was cleaning my child. He's almost completely verbal now. "Can you please start pooping in the potty? You need to tell mommy when you have to go poop," I explained. He nodded as though he understood. I'm sure tomorrow he's going to poop himself again.

You just don't realize, before you have kids, the astounding volume of someone else's poop you're actually going to be dealing with. There are so many things about my babies that I am going to miss.

Their poopy diapers are simply not one of them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Remembering

Sometimes I get to wishing that I could have the first year of Matthew's life back.

Then I look at this...
And I am reminded that it wasn't all stress and anxiety and tears and fear.


Thank you Bethany, for taking this picture.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vikings and Dragons

The Rock Star is still obsessed with knights and dragons and castles and swords and shields and vikings and damsels in distress. He wanted to be Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon for Halloween. Except for the shaggy brown hair, he was pretty much a dead ringer. He's just so scrawny. He could have been any old viking but, as we collected candy from the local shopping complex, kids continued to say, "Hey look, it's Hiccup!" Of course, he had his sidekick, The Little Buddy Dragon.
The best part of our trick or treating adventure was that Carl's Junior handed out free small fries instead of candy and Jamba Juice handed out mini smoothies. It was also the first time in all of Garrett's years of life that Troy was able to join us for the entire adventure. Usually he comes for a few minutes before returning to put the finishing touches on our church's Harvest Party. This year the party was held on Saturday night instead.

The funniest part was when a little boy walked by and said, "Look, a dragon!"

The mom replied, "It's a dinosaur."

When they were out of earshot, both Troy and I said, almost simultaneously, "It's a dragon."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Am I Normal?

Let's start out by saying that I have no idea what is going on in the background of this picture.
It looks like an album cover gone horribly wrong. Or a bad poster for a youth production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats. All that aside, The Rock Star said the most hilarious thing following his face painting at his friend's birthday party.

While the kids watched their friend open presents, my son scratched his face. I assume he got a bit of orange paint on his finger because, with a look of horror, he questioned, "Mommy! Am I normal?" He was frantically pointing to the spot he'd scratched. I think he was wondering if he had scraped off all his face paint, thus returning to normal.

Of course, not wanting to miss my opportunity, I replied, "Honey, you are definitely not normal."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Polar Bears

Yesterday morning, while we were still in bed, The Rock Star came in. He started telling us about a dream he'd had. Apparently, in said dream, we were camping. A polar bear started chasing us and Troy and I hid Garrett in the bathroom at church. We hid Matthew in one of the Sunday school rooms before hiding ourselves (TOGETHER!) in another room off the sanctuary. Because, logically, it makes total sense that we would hide our children separately while we cowered together. As Garrett was explaining the dream to us I was trying to sort it all out in my mind.

"Garrett," I said, "Did you really dream about a polar bear chasing us last night?"

"Yes."

"No. I mean, did you seriously have a dream about a polar bear?" I inquired.

"Yes."

Troy, confused by the inquisition, asked me why I was interrogating our first born. "Because I had a dream that a polar bear was chasing us."

I'd dreamed that we were living in Alaska. We had a house as well as a research building. The man I was married to was, apparently, working on some kind of bear documentary. I think it was supposed to be Troy but he was about twice as wide as Troy, half again as tall as Troy, and looked very much like Yukon Cornelius. Except, well, not made of a weird clay substance.

In the dream, there was a polar bear stalking my son and me. The child was, evidently, a combination of The Rock Star and The Little Buddy because he was about two--Matthew's age--but decided Caucasian--like Garrett. In the dream, I was desperately trying to protect the child from the bear but the bear was always one step ahead. I'd run into a room. The bear would be waiting. I'd run from the house to the research den. The bear would be waiting. I simply could not get away from the menacing presence of the giant animal.

I'm no dream analyzer but I think I have mine figured out. Still, how bizarre is it that my five-year-old son dreamed something very similar? Is this normal? Are we a family of freaks? Wait. Don't answer that.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shake It

Sometimes, what happens at the retreat doesn't always stay at the retreat.
This year, a couple of the girls got the bright idea that we'd all have to do something humiliating to receive our notes of encouragement. See, we have a basket that I take up (you can see it in the bottom left hand corner of the photo). It's full of blank note cards. Throughout the weekend, the women have the opportunity to give and receive notes of thanks, encouragement, and friendship. On Sunday morning there were a lot of notes to be distributed and it was decided that we would do goofy things in order to obtain what belonged to us.

Someone had to perform I'm a Little Teapot.


Someone else sang a song and pointed to various body parts.

A group of people performed a preschool song.

And then it was my turn.

The night before, a group of ladies had been playing Imaginiff. They were short a player so they wrote in my name. Then they had to choose which 70's dance I would be. One of the options was Shake Your Booty or Shake Your Groove Thing or something. The next morning they asked me if I could, in fact, shake mine. Turns out, I can. Independently of the rest of the my body, even. Although not particularly well when I'm not quite four days post biopsy. Not that the biopsy was in my butt. Um. Wow. This post has gone to Hades in a hurry.

Moving on.

In a nutshell, I declared that I could shake my, er, booty.

Naturally, an hour or so later, when it was time to collect my mail, the group decided that I needed to get my, uh, shake on.

So I did. And there are several pictures on Facebook to prove it.

On Monday night we took the boys to Chili's for free kids meals. The server brought us a large quantity of coasters which Matthew thoroughly enjoyed lining up and then declaring, "Yook! I made puzzle!" They were promoting 'Rita Fest and one side featured a picture of a margarita. On the flip side it says, SHAKE THAT THANG.

What with attending the Beth Moore conference in August, where all of us learned that thing is, indeed, pronounced thang, and then my shaking mine at the retreat, I think the Chili's slogan pretty much sums up women's ministries this year.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

He's So Funny

Garrett: Mommy, I don't think I'll get married when I turn 21. I think I'll wait a minute.
Me: Okay. How come? (Not that I've ever wanted my son to get married at 21. I just figured there was a reason behind his sudden decision.)
Garrett: I just think I'll wait for a minute because when a guy gets married, the girl always starts talking about babies. (Oh my goodness! Where is he getting this? I mean, it's probably mostly true but yeesh!)
Me: Oh. Okay. And you don't want babies?
Garrett: Of course I want babies! But when a girl wants a baby and God says, "Not yet," she cries all the time. (It might be time for me to amend the story I tell him about how he came to be. Maybe from now on I will say, "God told mommy to wait and mommy was the pillar of strength, stability and faith.)
Me: ...And you definitely don't want your wife to cry all the time?
Garrett: No. I wouldn't like that.
Me: Well, it's alright with me if you wait a minute after you turn 21 to get married.
Garrett: Okay. Good. How about 22?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Grudge

Nine years ago today, I called off my engagement.

He was a Kansas City Chiefs fan but that isn't why I broke up with him.

Still, when my Chargers play at Arrowhead, my skin crawls a little and I feel nauseous. When I hear their noisy fans and watch that sea of red, I can't help but cringe.

It might be my longest running grudge.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

The little one keeps tabs on the bigger one. One thousand times a day he asks about him. "Where brudder go?" "Brudder ah schoo?" "Brudder home!" "Brudder dowstair?"
And "Brudder" loves Matthew right back.

Oh sure, they have their moments. Sibling rivalry on an hourly basis. Garrett is a rule follower. Matthew thinks they were made to be broken. Garrett is bossy. Matthew is sensitive. Both spend their days vying for the alpha dog position. Even still, it's pretty much a coin toss.
I can't believe I lived more than two decades without evening knowing that these brothers would one day exist. Now I cannot imagine a day without them.

These are a few of my favorite things...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Obsessed with the Chest

Official diagnosis: Intraductal papilloma.

The bad news: Increased chance of breast cancer in the future.

The good news: The removed mass was totally benign.

On Saturday morning, when I woke up, there was still no visible bruising. On Saturday afternoon, when I took a shower, the whole entire...thing was an enormous bruise. The whole shebang. Black and blue and bright yellow. It looked like I'd been mauled by an angry wolf. That was six days ago. Today it's still bruised but hardly worth mentioning. When I went in for my post op this morning, the doctor said, "Oh, you have quite a bit of bruising."

I replied with, "You should have seen it on Saturday!" She apologized. It may have had something to do with the internal tissue exam she performed last Tuesday. Ya think?

We've decided that I am going to continue to be seen by her. Apparently, intraductal papillomas in thirty-year-olds are rare. Abnormal, she said. My tissue is compromised. Or something medical and scary sounding like that. It's enough to kind of freak a girl out.

But she didn't say the word carcinoma and she didn't say the word malignant. Instead I heard the reiterated words benign and papilloma and you're fine. And so I choose to focus on that.

I had a mammogram--at my request and for no good reason other than peace of mind--earlier in the year. I've had four exams, two ultrasounds and a biopsy in the past nine months. The doctor told me that it's great that I am so diligent about my breasts at my age. It was a strange accolade. I imagined a trophy inscribed with Most Attentive. The imaginary statue atop the trophy was inappropriate and made me laugh.

But we all need to be diligent. It doesn't matter if we're seventy or twenty-five. Apparently, I am going to live the rest of my life obsessed with my chest but maybe we all should be.

I can't stand breast cancer slogans like, Save the TaTas. That particular one literally makes me cringe. To me, to refer to them as tatas is disturbing at best and absolutely degrading and chauvinistic at worst. Save the Boobies is only slightly better. Marginally better. Hardly better at all, really.


Obsessed with the Chest--it could work.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

For the Birds

Imagine The Rock Star's delight when we received a package today from my inlaws. We opened it and pulled out sticker books, sticker crafts, cookies, Halloween candy and a decorative scarecrow. He was thrilled.

He wanted me to put the scarecrow outside.

It's clearly not an outside decoration.

I explained this.

"How will it scare away the crows?" He asked.

"It won't. Which is fine. We don't really have an abundance of crows," I reminded him.

But it got me thinking. Maybe if I did put it outside it would scare the misguided seagulls back to California where they belong. I only recently learned that the Utah state bird is actually the California Gull. I feel so sorry for those stupid birds. It's totally like the Israelites being stuck in Egypt. There they were, slaving away, trapped under Pharoah's rule--unaware of just how great the Promised Land really was. A land flowing with milk and honey, it was. They'd all been born in Egypt and that was that.

They're not called the Utah Gull. No. They're from California. They just don't know it because they were born here. Whenever I see them, I try to nicely explain that it doesn't get cold where they come from. The water--it just keeps going. Granted, the Salt Lake is bigger than one bird could ever hope for but it rather pales in comparison to the Pacific Ocean. And waves. Oh, those poor birds are missing out on tides! Abundant fish, too. I don't actually know what lives in the lake but the whole things smells funky so I wouldn't recommend eating anything that comes out of it. Poor gulls, fly back to your home.

But they never will. Even in California, gulls are totally stupid. And aggressive. They'll snatch an entire sandwich right out of your hand. Oh. Yes. They. Will.

So if I thought that putting the scarecrow outside would do any good, I would. But it makes for a super cute indoor decoration. And as for the gulls, well, on a warm summer day when I look up and see a bunch of them flying around I close my eyes and pretend I'm at the beach. They're like a little piece of home.

Interestingly, when I'm in California, I can't stand sea gulls.

This is not a metaphorical post about how California is the promised land and Utah is Egypt and I'm enslaved here. God led us here and I love our ministry. I don't want to leave right now for anything. It really is just a post about the birds.


Thanks Gary and DeDe for the package!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Power Of...

My husband is modest.

Much more modest than I am.

So he isn't overly enthusiastic when my boys run through the house shaking their naked tooshies and yelling, "Naked dance!"

He tolerates it for a few seconds, shakes his head and says, "Go put some clothes on!"

Last night Troy had a meeting at the church. When my boys were finished with their bath they both burst into their bedroom screaming, "Naked dance." I laughed. Then, Garrett struck a victory position.

He thrust one foot forward, pumped his hand in the air and shrieked, "The power of naked!"

I...just...I...don't...even...know...what...that...means.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Revelation & Belly Laughs

Have you ever played Telestrations? 
Have you ever played it at a women's retreat? If you haven't, you have no idea what you're missing. Unless you're a man. Then you really have no business being at a women's retreat. None. Whatsoever.

I was first introduced to this hysterical game at our retreat 13 months ago. Our speaker, who has since become one of my closest confidants, brought it with her. I was skeptical. Telestrations is like the love child of Pictionary and Telephone. I've never been good at Pictionary.

But we played. I laughed. I called my mom up and insisted she buy it for her own women's retreat which was approaching. I asked for it last Christmas. You cannot, simply cannot, play this game without laughing so hard you cry. Or injure a stomach muscle. Or both.

Yesterday, during our retreat free time, we played. One person gets a word. She writes it on page one of her dry erase booklet. She passes it. The next person looks at the word and then attempts to draw it. The next woman looks at the picture and writes the word or phrase she thinks it is. The next one draws it. And so on and so forth.

My friend, Christy, wrote the words "spin doctor" and passed it on. By the time it got to me, I read the words "surgical saw" and drew a guy on a table. Standing over him with an enormous saw was a stick figure with a surgical mask on. I drew an arrow to the saw. I also added a tray table at the end of the bed and intended to put smaller surgical tools on it but the tip of the pen was too fat. I passed my booklet on. 

"Vasectomy" is what my friend wrote before passing it on to another woman in our church.

She then drew a very, ahem, well endowed fellow and a giant pair of scissors. The next woman got it and guessed correctly (based, of course, on the most recent picture). Christy got it back, opened it up to the last page and began laughing hysterically. As she showed us each page, we were already giggling. By the time we saw the first "vasectomy" we were all laughing so hard we were crying. Then we saw the drawing. Kleenex had to get involved.

If this doesn't sound funny to you, I encourage you to play the game. I promise you'll laugh so hard you'll cry.

We do other stuff at retreat too.

We hear from the Lord. We fellowship. We eat way too much chocolate. We pray. We have quiet time with our Savior.

God's been rocking my world lately with the realization that I don't really know how to pray. I present my requests. "God, heal this person. God, heal that person. God, help with this. God, help with that. Amen." For several weeks now the Lord has been revealing to me that my requests need to come last. First, and foremost, my prayer life is about worshiping Him. Of course, our speaker spoke on this very subject last night. And I was impacted. Anything that brings us nearer to the Lord is good and worthy of praise. Even the bad stuff. We need to pray accordingly.

There is time for food and fellowship and chocolate and sleeping and snugly pajamas and conversation and making new friends and keeping old friends and there is, indeed, time to learn about our God. After all, He's the reason we do this every year.

But we also laugh. Deep, belly laughs with fellow believers, who endeavor to walk, every day, with the perfect and Triune God. I can't tell you how refreshing a weekend characterized by revelation and belly laughs is.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Biopsy

I sat in the chair, soft pink gown tied loosely in the front. The significance of the color wasn't lost on me. As I waited for the doctor to come in I contemplated my surroundings. Enormous bright light, jars of liquid, liberal amounts of gauze, needles, scalpels and a plethora of other stomach turning paraphernalia. I'd already sat in the waiting room for a good half hour past my appointment time. Now I was sitting in the office. Waiting.

When I'd pulled up in front of the surgical center I was doing alright. I'd prayed the entire way over that God would remove from me a spirit of fear and grant me courage in its place. It was courage I'd had as I boldly rode the elevator up to the third floor. It was courage I'd lost as I flipped through magazine after magazine and allowed the Father of Lies to use fear to permeate my thoughts. I'd finally been called back and my blood pressure was the highest I'd ever seen it. Thankfully, it was still well within normal. The nurse left and I waited.

I called my mommy. "Remember the Flu Shot Experience?" I was six. The nurse came in with the vaccination. I snapped. Berserk. Completely. I ran around the office and out the door, shrieking at the top of my lungs. It ended with my mother and the pediatrician holding me down so that the nurse could administer the vaccine. I had to write a note of apology. It wasn't my finest moment. 

I proceeded to tell my mom that I was seriously contemplating a repeat performance. I mean, it's been 24 years. I figured that maybe my time had come once again. She asked me if I could feel her hugging me. I didn't answer for a long time. She probably thought I was mute on account of the fact that I was wondering how I could feel a hug from 800 miles away. In actuality, I wasn't speaking because the lump in my throat was swollen with fear and tears. I knew if I spoke it would all come flooding out.

I'm just not a huge fan of needles. Or scalpels. Especially if they're going to be used on me. Especially if they're going to be used on my breast.

It all started back in April when I noticed a tiny lump just under the skin. After waiting a few weeks to see if it would change, disappear, or grow, I went to see my doctor. Based on its location, she suspected that it was a blocked duct and had me put hot compresses on it. I went back to see her a week later. The bump had not changed. Again, because of its place of residence, she sent me to a specialist. I saw her in June. After an ultrasound, the plan was to keep an eye on it for the summer and come back to see her three months later.

So last Monday I saw her again. She opted to remove it. 

Eight days later I found myself sitting in the procedure room waiting for her to enter the scene. My mom was 800 miles away but, thanks to technology, pressed directly to my ear. She talked me off my ledge. Or, at least, she talked me out of running around the doctor's office screaming like a total ninny. After all, it really wasn't even appropriate when I was six. I don't remember what she said to me but I loudly declared, "I know I'm not going to die!" And just as the second half of the sentence came out, the doctor walked in. All she heard was the declaration, "...going to die!" 

She quickly turned her head in my direction and said, "Are you talking to me?" I explained that, no, my mother was on the phone. I quickly hung up. She had me get on the table. Then she couldn't find a marker. So she left for another five minutes.

I hadn't been afraid of the procedure until two different people, on the same day, told me that the numbing needle was quite painful. I stared up at the giant light and pictured a torture prison where people routinely came at my breasts with enormous needles of death. She came back in. She told me that the first part was the worst part. So I've heard. I told her that I'd once run around the doctor's office in an attempt to avoid a flu shot. I'm nothing if not chatty when nervous. "It's just like having dental work done," she explained.

"I've never had a cavity," I replied.

"Get me the small needle," she said to the nurse. Oh good, I thought. I'm getting away with the small needle. I don't think her or her pregnant nurse had any intentions of holding down a full grown woman with a sudden and irrational fear of biopsies. The nurse handed her the biggest needle I've ever seen used on me and that's when I realized that it probably had something to do with width and not a lot to do with length. She plunged it mercilessly into my...self. Okay. She totally didn't. In fact, I barely felt anything. Really. It hurt less than a flu shot to be sure. Just after the initial poke I did feel a slightly uncomfortable push as, I assume, she went into tissue. "Is it horrible?" she asked. 

"No!" I almost shouted, annoyed that I'd lost nearly an hour of my life freaking out about this. I should have listened to my mom who kept telling me that it couldn't possibly be that bad. Note to self: Mother knows best.

Then she performed an excisional biopsy which I've come to realize is the same thing as a lumpectomy. I felt nothing except for weird tugs and pulls. The worst part was listening to the snip snip snip of the scissors and realizing that she was inside of my body cutting things out. It was just a little disconcerting. She pulled out a pea sized mass. Just as she began to sew me up my stomach began to growl. I started pushing on it with my available hand--the other one was secured under my head--and hoping that if I sort of massaged it, the protest might stop. In the middle of a stitch she asked, "Are you feeling this? Is this hurting you?" 

"No," I said. "My stomach won't stop growling." She then shared with me that her stomach often has dialogue as well. This prompted my sharing of the time my stomach distracted an entire group of students from the SAT at hand. She assured me it wasn't distracting her. "Good. I'd rather ruin 100 SAT scores than distract my surgeon," I answered. She laughed. 

She finished sewing me back together and put medical glue on the incision. And then I waited and waited. The nurse was standing there. The doctor was sitting there. I was lying there. Nothing was happening. Am I supposed to jump up and be on my merry way? I wondered.

She pulled the light closer. "The warmth from the light helps the glue dry. I want to to make sure it's dry before I put a bandage on," she said. "Otherwise you'd have to come back so that I could remove the bandage. Or live with it forever. Your choice."

I laughed. "I'd probably rather not have a bandage stuck to my chest for the rest of my life."

"Oh! The worst was when I did a rectal surgery. A few hours later the poor woman called me up and told me that I'd glued her, uh, cheeks together." Let me tell you, nothing makes you love your surgeon more than finding out she once glued a patient's butt together. "Thankfully she was a really good sport about it," she finished.

I'm really private about certain things. My health is one of them. I just didn't want to tell anyone, or for goodness sake blog about it, until I had an answer. I could barely stand the waiting myself and I didn't want to wait knowing that everyone else was sitting on pins and needles right along with me. So I came home and I kept quiet. Turns out, if you want to keep quiet, you need to tell your five-year-old the plan. He knew something was up so I explained to him that mommy had a bump taken out of her. I showed him my bandage. That night, Troy took the boys to the softball field. A man from our church asked Troy if he was on Daddy Duty. "Yeah, Lori's not feeling well," he answered. 

"Mommy has a band-aid on her nipple!" Garrett screamed. And if you think I didn't just try to figure out a more appropriate synonym for nipple to use in its place you'd be wrong. Because I totally did. But that's what he said. To a man my father's age. About that man's pastor's wife. Good times. The best of times, really. So much for keeping things quiet. One must have first birthed a quiet child, I suppose.

While that fun episode was occurring, I was at home, recovering. Oddly, I was completely at peace with whatever news the results would bring. I kept praying that God would use this to glorify Him. If breast cancer--at thirty of all things--would bring Him glory, so be it. If a clear reading would bring Him glory--bring it. If I've learned one thing through the trials of bringing children into my family, I've learned that God's way is Plan A. Every. Single. Time. 

"If I have cancer, God, so be it. May your name be lifted high!"

As it turns out, I don't.

The doctor called this afternoon. It was benign. 

To God alone be the glory!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hey Batter

The Rock Star just finished playing t-ball. He was on the Phillies. His little brother wanted to play.

In twenty years, when he's playing for the Phillies, should this be the photo they put up on the jumbotron when he's up to bat?


Oh, I think it should be.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Growing Up

In some ways, I think he still looks exactly like this...
Minus, maybe, the super chubby cheeks.

But I recognize the shirt he's wearing.

And I know it's in his brother's drawer now.

I love my little men.

But I think I might just always miss my babies.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wieners. Yep. I Went There.

"Mom," The Rock Star said from the backseat, "what's a wiener?"

I waited a good five seconds before responding. I thought about asking him to use it in context but then I would have had to explain context. Instead, I asked him to use in a sentence.

He raised his voice. "WHAT'S A WIENER?"

And I began to giggle, somewhat hysterically. He's smart, that one. I could just hear his internal monologue, That is a sentence!


"Okay. Well, it depends on how you're using it. There are different kinds of wieners." At this point I was speaking intermittently, whenever I stopped choking on my own laughter. "There are wiener dogs. Those are the ones that have long bodies and really short legs. They're called that because they look like a hot dog. Hot dogs used to be called wieners all the time. Sometimes they're still called wieners."

"Oh," he said. "So a wiener is a hot dog?"

"Yes," I declared. Then I asked, "Did you hear someone say the word wiener?"

"Yeah."

"Okay. Who?"

"My friend Bob*," Garrett replied. Bob is seven. He lives up the street.

"What was he talking about?" I asked. A hot dog. Make it be about a hot dog. I thought.

"The spot right here." He pointed.

I sighed. And then I got to explain that different people use different words for their private places. In our family, we call them by their medical terms. We always have. We always will. Because I don't want my kid walking in to the doctor's office and saying something about his wiener.



*His name isn't really Bob. If that wasn't already clear. Names have been changed to protect, in this case, the not so innocent.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What's The Difference?

By way of setting the scene, it's important to know that I'm participating in a Sunday school class on the book of Ephesians and a Bible study by Kay Arthur on Covenant. Each day I spend time in prayer and work on a section of one book or the other. Well, except for Sunday. On Sunday I generally ignore both books and, I don't know, read a Psalm or something.

So. Yesterday. I decided to work on my Covenant study. Garrett was playing in the backyard with a friend and Matthew was sleeping. I carried my book, Bible, and colored pencils (it's an inductive study which led to Garrett's friend asking, "Are you coloring?" with a tone that clearly expressed, Wow, lady, you are way too old be coloring.) up from the basement and sat down at the kitchen table.

But when I went downstairs to get the book I thought about what the study would be on that day. We'd already explored both the covenants between David and Jonathan. I thought, perhaps, Jonathan's son might grace the pages of my study.

"Oh," I said aloud, "maybe today will be about Methuselah." I descended the stairs. Wait. That doesn't sound right. "What's his name? Johnathan's son name is..." I know it. I know it. It's..."Mephibosheth." Now, because I talk to myself incessantly, I continued the one-sided conversation. "Who the heck is Methuselah? Oh yeah. She's the evil witch from Sleeping Beauty."

At that point I was standing in the middle of our office, completely confused. I picked up my work book. "Wait. No."

I began ascending the stairs. "Mephibosheth is Jonathan's son. Methuselah is the really old guy in Genesis. Maleficent is the creepy woman from Sleeping Beauty."

Can anyone else understand my confusion? Mephibosheth, Methuselah, Maleficent. What's the difference?

Friday, October 14, 2011

How To Be A Preacher's Wife And Like It: Part Three

"Be it ever so humble, your parsonage can be clean. A broom, mop, pail and box of detergent, plus an ample supply of elbow grease, can transform any dingy parsonage into a sparkling set of rooms. Keeping the woodwork and windows clean, the furniture in order and the toys picked up is a matter of bodily exercise, which the Apostle Paul says is profitable.

The habitual appearance of dirty dishes in the midst of an unkept kitchen is inexcusable. Parish duties should never come ahead of parsonage obligations. Your first responsibility is to provide a clean, well-ordered home for your pastor-husband and your family." Lora Lee Parrott

Oh. My. Goodness. I'm so far off the mark it just isn't even funny. I mean, there isn't anything generationally hilarious about this particular passage. Well, except for maybe the bit about dirty dishes being inexcusable. You don't want to see my kitchen on Sunday mornings.

On Sunday mornings I really believe that Satan sends his minions to thwart all of our plans to get out the door. Dishes are thrown in the sink to be tended to later--usually I'm just glad that the children have eaten anything at all. Cups, jackets, hair gel, Christmas play scripts, and tooth brushes are here, there and everywhere. Troy throws the kids in the car. I pat myself down to make sure I'm not missing any vital piece of clothing and run back in to grab somethingorother important thing that I totally need but darn near forgot. As Troy slowly drives down the street, Garrett yells, "Hurry mom!" and I dive in before my pastor-husband gets up to 25 mph. Okay, so that last part is an exaggeration...but not by much.

I would have failed miserably as a 1950's pastor's wife. I doubt I'm having much success as a 21st century pastor's wife but I have to believe I'm better than I would have been 60 years ago.

And, keeping the toys picked up, well, that task is simply futile.