Friday, March 30, 2012

Making Bad News Go Good

Please forgive the rather awkward and inappropriate song reference there.  If you missed it, good.

Last week I wrote about all the craziness.  Maybe that was this week? Actually, it was both!  We had sick kids and a cancer scare with my mom and another with Lynn and I had friends who were struggling with all kinds of things.

Oddly, this week many of the "bad" things came undone.  I'll share a few.

1.  Mom mom had an X-ray of her lungs that was abnormal, so she had to have a cat scan.  She'd been sick for three weeks and the doctor couldn't tell her what they thought the issue was over the phone, but when my mom asked about cancer, the doctor said they had to rule that out.  Ensue quiet panic!  The cat scan THANKFULLY revealed some kind of nodules on her lungs that she has to watch, but are NOT cancer.  We are crazy glad about that.

2. My great friend Jenna was told two weeks ago that she had Lyme Disease.  Being a total tick-phobe (is there a technical name for that?) she totally flipped out. That can be nasty if not caught in time. This week, she discovered that her doctor ran the wrong tests and had gotten a false positive.  She does NOT have Lyme or Lupus or any of the other crazy serious things they scared her with.  The original problem (her knee), has healed up and she is fine.  Whew!

3. Lynn had a check-up this week with her cancer doctors after a scare a few weeks ago when they thought she had broken her back.  The doctors found that instead of staying weak or weakening, the lesions in her bones are HEALING.  Insane!  If you want to read more about this, you can click on her Caring Bridge site HERE.

Lincoln also ended up being okay after the doctor ordered X-rays being concerned about his breathing, and another friend who had some serious issues with her child not being accepted to the only school in that area resolved the issue.  (She swears by leaving 14 voicemails in a day.)  Some things have not resolved: a derby friend is separating from her husband and moving back home to Illinois with their two kids.  Hard and sad, hard and sad.

But I am rejoicing in the great news all around and how one week (or a few days) can turn some of those things around in an unexpected way.

Now we just need to sell our house this weekend.

Sawyer On: Fatal Spankings

Sawyer interrupted me reading the story of Zaccheus to tell me this.

S: If someone ever gave a spanking with a bullet in their hand, then the spanking would be sharp and cu them like a knife and then they'd be dead and you could give them duct tape so we could fix them.

I tried explaining that generally, people don't spank with bullets in their hands, but he was not convinced. Maybe (just maybe) we are watching too much TV at our house??

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ye Olde Kitchen Sink Bath

The boys requested a kitchen bath today.  I didn't think they'd fit, but they did!  Ah, memories!  If you're ever torn between what kind of sink you want, choose a deep, double sink.  It's worth it.

Well, Shucks!

Taryn at Mama's Got Wanderlust included me as one of her top 15 Versatile blogs.  I'll take it!  Now I have to pick 15 blogs and share the love.  If I am including you in the list, it means I read your blog, even if I don't comment. Please link back here and choose 15 of your faves for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Oh, and include 7 facts about yourself in your post, if you choose to pass on the love.  I can only handle 10 blogs.  And if you get this award and don't feel like participating, it's okay!  I won't be offended.

(Also, don't be offended if you aren't on here.  I love many, many blogs.  But I get tired of linking and typing.)
I hereby award the following blogs with The Versatile Blogger Award:

1. The Geeful Gourmand.  Great friend, GREAT food!

2. Momconformist.  I have a hard time believing that I once taught THIS girl anything when she was in an eighth grade Bible study I led.  So wise!

3. Reflections.  Another graduate of the Kiki Bible study, Courtney has great honesty and humility and keeps it real talking about real life as a Christian.

4. Mother in Real Life. Speaking of keeping it real, check out Kelly's blog. Which also has TONS of great links to recipes and fun kid ideas.

5. Bombadee's Garden.  Home of my teammate and friend, Bombadee, this blog features my tiny drawing friend and adventures in parenting, from Slut Walk to my favorite post ever about Toddler Land.

6. A Yankee in Rebel's Clothes.  I heart MaryBeth.  She takes great photos and has a crazy dog and is one of the bravest people I know!  She also saw the advantages of living in the South vs the North. ;)

7. Thrifty Texas Penny.  I have never actually met this blogger, but love her posts with coupon match ups and on the idea of living a frugal life!

8. Nicole Unice.  We met, we bonded over inappropriate fabric.  I am challenged by her living on the edge blog posts and lifestyle.  Plus she's hilarious.

9. GrrFeisty.  If you love tiny, roller-skating mathematicians, this blog is for you!  Whether it's taking fab photos of her dogs or what she wore to work (both: ADORABLE), she's sewing dinosaurs with mustaches.

10. Roll the Maps.  I had no idea fellow derby player Wicked Sweet was so funny.  Until she started a blog.  LOVE.

Now.  Back to me.

7 Facts about Me That You May or May Not Already Know.

1. I have irrational fears of karaoke and also people dressed up in those mascot suits, outside of sports games.  Especially if they are bees.  And MOST especially if they are hired specifically for a party in my honor.

2.  I once stepped on a copperhead while not wearing my glasses.  At the last second I realized (when I could SEE it) and jumped.  It struck my shoe.  Crisis averted.

3. I'm not really into talking on the phone.

4. My biggest pet peeve is other people wasting my time.

5. When I was in fifth grade, I chose the longest book in the school library to read so that I could say I had read the longest book in the library.

6.  I have been proposed to twice.  I only said yes once.

7.  There was a time when someone threw my teddy bear.  Things escalated from there and I broke a coffee mug over that person's head.  It was very satisfying.

Chick Pea Salad

I have been having a love affair recently with chick peas, aka garbanzo beans. (It took me a really long time to realize they were one and the same.)  I created this not-so-creative but really fab recipe if you like them as well and want a little bit of pep.

Chick Pea Salad

1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
2-4 oz feta cheese
fresh lime juice from 1 lime
1/4 bunch of cilantro, chopped
6-10 cherry tomatoes, diced
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp (or more, if you're me) salt

Basically, you put all the ingredients together in a container, shake to mix, and let sit overnight.  I can't tell you how amazing that lime juice is.  I only used half a lime and needed more for sure.  I think also next time I'd try a shake or two of cayenne, just for some zing.

(Excuse my really terrible food photos!)

March = X-Ray Month

This has been a nutty month!  I already mentioned all the craziness going on with friends and family recently, and this week, my boys got sick.  Sawyer has really just had a cough at night, but mostly been fine, but the past two days Lincoln has been really struggling to breathe.  Today I took him to the doctor, who said his oxygen levels were good, but the difficulty breathing and the amount of energy it was taking and how fast he was breathing made her want an X-ray.  A few weeks ago we had one for him that showed pneumonia, so this was our SECOND set of X-rays for him this month.  She asked me if he swallowed anything, and it made me really paranoid they were going to find a Lego or something in there.

Thankfully, the X-rays were consistent with croup, which is a shallow, bark-y cough.  He hasn't been coughing much, but his breathing itself was super labored and bark-y.  They gave him an oral dose of steroids today to help him fight through.  Beware of toddler roid rage!

This week has been much better in terms of how I'm feeling about life, but in some ways harder in terms of not getting that time alone I crave when the boys go to school.  Linc will have to stay home tomorrow also, so this means a full week of school missed, and Rob is headed out of town for part of the weekend.  I have a ton of derby things Saturday, so though my attitude is fine, I'm ready for some down time.

Next month, maybe?

The other really good news is that my mom found out that the abnormalities in HER lung X-rays were nodules caused by infection, NOT cancer.  We were all pretty freaked when the doctor said her X-rays weren't normal and had been just praying that it wasn't something serious.  Though they want her to have another cat scan in a few weeks, it sounds like this will just heal up naturally.  Whew!

Whatever you do, don't play any April Fools jokes on me, okay? I can't handle any more than the actual reality of life right now!

When the Dr's office hands you gloves, make glove balloons.  (Gloves don't make very good lemonade.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Google Maps...with Turkey!

I'm not the only famous one in my family!  Check out my Dad, watering the grass. :)
Yard looks great, Grandpa Turkey!

Oh, the Humor.

Rob got this fortune today at a restaurant.  For real.  It's a SIGN!   Ha.


In addition to all the other things (like having no water, my mom having to get a cat scan for potentially scary stuff, friends with big stuff), we now have a sick kid.  Aaaaaaand my laptop died.

It's not just me!  My friend who is waiting to hear how soon they caught her Lymes Disease now has a stomach bug she caught from her kid.  Another friend's kid somehow got un-registered for her school so she has NO space in her public school, which means no school.  How does that even happen?!?  Plus, my mom's scan got pushed out because of insurance so she doesn't know when she'll get in to find out answers.

Great verse for the morning (and week): "When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul."  (Psalm 94:19)

I definitely feel consoled, but this is a lot in a week.


While writing this post, I forgot about my croutons in the oven, and this happened.
Ha!  Even the smallest of things are kind of stinking this week.  But I scraped them off and ate them anyway. :)

I Want to Paint It Black

My fireplace, that is.

I had a thought a few weeks ago that our fireplace would look better if I painted the inside black.  Our bricks are light and we've had so many fires that there was permanent soot and just generally ickiness inside of it.  My mom mentioned the idea as well, and I figured where there are two in agreement, it must be done.

So in my typical Kiki fashion, I painted it black an hour before we had a showing today.  Everyone loves the smell of fresh paint...right?

The fireplace before.
 And after.

Hm.  The photos were taken with a 35-mm and 55-mm lenses, so you can't really get the real effect.  Plus that weird glare that makes some of the bricks look lighter in the bottom photo isn't really there in real life.   Still, you get the idea, right?  Musty, dusty to clean and crisp.  

Mom says I now need a log or a fern to stick in it.  Ferns are on sale at Kroger, so I think we'll go with fern.  All our logs are burned up, thus creating the soot I needed to get rid of.

And now, for whatever reason, I have this line stuck in my head, to the tune of "Single Ladies," I think because it's 1am:  If you like it then you should have stuck a fern in it!

Google Street View...Now with Kiki

About a year ago, I was walking down the street with Lincoln and the Google Street View car drove by with the camera on top. I hoped that I made it on camera.  Guess what?  I DID!
I love how they blurred out our faces.  I feel so incredibly proud of this accomplishment, though all I did was walk down the street at the right time. :)


Our neighbor was kind enough to share bubbles with my boys and they basically begged me from the time they got up until 3pm to play outside with bubbles.  Here are a few photos...before they spilled most of them.

 You can see the bubble mix that Linc spilled in his hair. :)

Tex was NOT impressed.

A Week of Bad Tidings

This has been an odd week, with so many towers falling on people around me.  Here are some of the things going on around me this past week:

-while babysitting for one friend, another called needing a ride to the emergency room after blowing out her knee nearby
-a good friend found out she has Lymes Disease
-another friend's husband left her and their two kids
-my Mom had a bad chest X-ray and has to have a cat scan to rule out that six-letter word: cancer

That's a lot.  There are other things too: a pipe burst outside our house so we have the water turned off.  We had a showing today and still have fingers crossed (not that we believe in luck) and are waiting for some (any!) feedback.  Our monthly "miscellaneous" bill has gone through the roof and blown our budget to smithereens.

In the midst of the storms, I feel peaceful and even joyful.  Yes--I am super concerned for my mom.  I am waiting anxiously for the results of her test, and also the recommendations of my friend's doctor about Lymes Disease.  I am hurting alongside my friend whose husband left.  

I think of this verse:  "Even to your old age and your gray hairs, I am he, he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you.  I will sustain you and I will rescue you."  (Isaiah 46:4)  In the midst of the pain and waiting and worry, God is carrying.  He made us and he will carry us. Twice he promises to sustain us.

I will pray this over myself and over my friends.  In a week of bad tidings, there is the undergirding always of God's power and care for his people.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Smoking Pig Chili

Rob's youth put on a fabulous fundraiser today to help defray costs of their summer mission trip to Belize.  We had a chili cook off after church where we had something like 18 people bring chili for tasting and judging.  Fabulous!  The smell of church was mouthwatering.

While I didn't win, I LOVED my chili and plan to make it again.  It was pork tenderloin, so a little out of the box, and had a wonderful, smoky flavor--hence the name of my team, The Smoking Pig.  You can see my lovely painted sign, pig nose, hat, and my pipe.  What you don't see: the pink tablecloth I set on fire myself yesterday.  A fire on purpose!  Who knew I could light a fire with control!

Smoking Pig Chili

1 pork tenderloin
4 heads garlic (Really, I mean it.  FOUR.)
2 large sweet onions
6-8 jalepeno peppers
4 anaheim peppers
2 poblano peppers
1 yellow and 1 red bell peppers
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (found in your Mexican section of the store)
2 cans black beans
1/2 bunch cilantro
1/2 lime
1/2-1 beer (use something rich and dark and stout)
worcestershire sauce
brown sugar

Roast garlic and onion in the oven til soft.  (I wrap both in foil drizzled with olive oil, taking top off garlic and fully peeling onion, at 350 for 45 minutes.)  At same time, place pepper directly on grill on high heat. Let the heat scorch each side until the skin is fairly blackened.  You may want to just stand there with tongs so you don't burn up a whole pepper like I did. If you don't have a grill, you can do this on broil in the oven. When blackened, peel of skin and remove (most) of the seeds under cold water in the sink.  Drain or pat the peppers dry and pulse them a few times in a food processor or chop them.  The canned chipotle peppers usually come whole, so chop or pulse these in the processor as well, saving the adobe sauce for the pot.

Make a dry rub of brown sugar, cayenne, cumin, and coriander.  Press it into the pork tenderloin until covered and place at the bottom of the crock pot.  Dump in half to a whole beer.  I used a beer from the Chris (Rob's brother) collection of home brews.  He made an amazing oaky, smoky beer that was just perfect for this.  Since you probably don't have access to this, try to find a thick, dark beer, maybe one with hints of autumn in it, like a fall brew.

Add the pulsed peppers, onion and garlic (chop, once done roasting), and cans of beans and tomatoes and adobo sauce.  Season with a tablespoon or two of worcestershire.  Squeeze juice from lime into the pot and put the half lime into the whole pot until you serve.  Add chopped cilantro, stir and cover.

Cook on low for 8 hours, then taste to see if you need more seasonings.  I only added a bit of salt at the end. The flavor from the beer, peppers, and the rub on the pork really seasoned the chili so it was rich and dark and smoky and a little sweet.  It did have a kick, but not too strong.  If you don't want a kick, leave out the jalapeƱos.  But be aware (in case you didn't know) that the chipotle peppers are actually jalapeƱos.  The adobo sauce really added a smokiness, so you don't want to leave that out!

Again, I really wanted to keep my chili in the kitchen all day and eat it by myself.  I loved it!  It's always fun when I have an idea for a recipe and it actually WORKS.  Maybe I'll win next year.  But for now, I have a recipe to add into the rotation!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Straws and Bathwater

 Straws are good for blowing bubbles. And also drinking bathwater.

Bluebonnet Photo Fail

Every year, I try to take my kids out for photos in the bluebonnets, which only bloom for a few weeks a year.  There is a great spot by my house, which should make this easy (some people drive hours for a photo), but every year, we have the same experience.  It's hot.  It's too sunny.  My kids get cranky and don't want to smile.  I get cranky.  We all get heat exhaustion.

At least, this is the second year in a row of that.  Last year, we got a few really cute photos that I loved.  This year...not so much.  I was fooling with my camera settings, trying to adjust for the light. We found a shady spot in the middle of a super sunny afternoon (going at the time with the best light wasn't an option) and I adjusted my shutter speed for the light, but then would forget when we moved to other areas, so I ended up with some photos that were too dark and some that were too light. And some where the sun behind our kids made everything look a little foggy. Sigh.  I tried practicing with the settings before we left, but once we were there, trying to adjust while also trying to keep children from running amuck in the state flower was not really possible.

There was also the really funny moment when Sawyer spotted what he thought was a snake (actually a lizard) and I caught it to show the kids.  As I held him out to show the kids what a lizard looked like up close, the bad boy latched onto my hand.  Apparently, lizards bite and do not let go.  After a bit of silly screaming, I flung the thing about 20 feet.  I saw him run away, so I hope he's fine, but we all learned something about nature.

In any case, Kelly and I had some fun and got a few photos, most of which are silly.  A few I really like.  By next year, maybe I'll have perfected my camera settings.
 I liked this one, but would have loved for it to have the color of the next one.

 Lincoln decides he's done.
 But returns, grudgingly.
 I'm sure I wasn't biting my kid here.  Because I never do that.

 My favorite picture of the day, maybe--Kelly's kids.
 Actually, this might be my real favorite.  I love Sawyer's serious face.
 They also did a little wall-scaling, and almost climbed through a tunnel to find treasure.
 This was a super-cute moment with Saw and Eli.
 We tried again for a few shots...with a lollipop as bribery.

 Might as well give in to the ridiculousness of this whole idea.
Almost good--that's as good as it gets.

Thanks, Kelly, for being a good sport and heading out into the heat and bringing snacks!  It was definitely an event to remember.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Derby Roundup

I wanted to post a few more photos of the bout from last weekend.  The week after a bout is filled with me checking Facebook every five seconds to see when our photographers post photos. We have a number of professional photographers that volunteer their time to come and take photos for free. We use these in our art and advertising, and also just get to see really quality photos of ourselves skating. Yay!

One of my faves (mostly because I know him better) is Danny Nguyen.  He and I have a running joke where I always try to take a photo of HIM while he's taking a photo of us.  While skating this month, I didn't have a chance, so after the game he ran up and handed me his fancy camera and let me take a photo. I was so startled (and also a little fuzzy from the game) that I couldn't even work the thing.  He was lovely and patient and only laughed a little so that I could snap a shot of him.  Thanks, Danny!

There are also a few from other photographers and all have a little stamp on the side so if you want to see more of their work, you can!

 Though I'm sort of disappointed this is blurry, I also kind of thing it makes perfect sense.  (The ones marked are from Danny Nguyen)

 Some great Boss teamwork:  Lipstick Assassin and Becky Booty holding Mistilla the Killa.  (Photo by Steve Beard)

 Equipment check.  My have part of this is when the refs check your helmet and then, if they feel it's not quite tight enough, say, "It's your brain."  Very motivating thought.  (Photo by Christopher Michael)

 I love this moment with Shank and Booty.   I also love my new glitter helmet.

This is a shot of the crowd.  AMAZING.  We moved from our little home at Houston Indoor Sports (still our practice home!) to what was the Verizon Theater, now Bayou Music Center. I don't have the final numbers, but we had something like 2,000 people.

What a great start to the season!  Although a win would have been better.  It's hard not to replay all your mistakes when you know you made a lot.  Sigh.  I have two games in April, one with our B-Team, the Knockouts, and the other with the Bosses. Oddly, both are against Alamo City from San Antonio.  Hopefully I'll have more great moments and less mistakes to think about after.

BHBC Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Ever read a love story featuring a boy with one leg and a girl with an oxygen tank?

If not, you have sorely missed out on The Fault in Our Stars.  Though I only cry five times a year (okay, that number has grown to like eight), I never include in that figure the crying I do when I read.  Somehow unable to emotionally connect to tears in real life, I find the lives of fictional characters embarrassingly moving.

So when I tell you I cried through the whole second half of The Fault in Our Stars, don't judge.  Many of the tears were mixed with laughter--it was just THAT kind of book.

John Green's novel tells the story of Hazel Grace, a seventeen-year-old living with a terminal cancer.  A special (fictional) drug has given her some extra time, but she doesn't know how much.  With only her parents and an oxygen tank for companions, she spends time watching America's Next Top Model and Top Chef.   (See? We'd be friends.)  Her only real social activity is to attend a cancer support group for young people, which she despises.  In the opening pages of the novel, she meets Augustus Waters and thus begins a story of love and death and hope and adolescence and life.

What makes this novel so amazing is the vibrancy of the characters, specifically in their dialogue.  Green has an expert handle on this, and I am totally jealous of his skills.  Augustus and Hazel have a wisdom beyond their years because of their experience with cancer, yet the teenage attitude and emotions are spot-on.  A brief excerpt (that will give away nothing of the plot) to give you an idea:

He tilted his head at me, confused.  "Hazel has developed an issue with the ghettoization of scrambled eggs,"Mom said. 

"It's embarrassing that we all just walk through life blindly accepting that scrambled eggs are fundamentally associated with mornings."

"I want to talk about this more," Augustus said. "But I am starving."

This novel nails the significance of these battles against cancer and for life, but also where that big picture stuff hits the daily grind stuff, like eggs for breakfast.  Fabulous, wonderful--go read it.  If you want to take part in the BlogHer Book Club discussion, you can find that HERE.

This post was sponsored by BlogHer Book Club, but all opinions are totally my own!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Word about Blogging and Honesty

You guys know I like to keep it real here, right?  That means that almost everything--from poop on the walls to hard days to what I'm working on.  I like to be transparent in what I share here because I know people are reading that might find it funny or be encouraged.

As a general rule, I leave some things out.  I'm not going to talk about things that are super personal, or some struggles or hurts might remain off the web.

When I write about hard times in my life, it's usually because I think there will be some encouragement there, whether just in other moms knowing they are not alone, or in the hope I find despite hard days.  I don't want to have a blog full of complaining or a blog that is just me talking about the hard parts of motherhood or life in general.

I received some responses to my post about Circles that made me want to write this.  I AM OKAY.  Sure, this has been a week with some hard things and I am tired and wish I didn't have to vacuum so much.  But, as I wrote in the end of my post, I am learning to rejoice in these things--EVEN the vacuuming.

I totally appreciate concern and love that readers and friends and family have for me, but if I write a post about hard things, it usually means I've gotten to a place that I can share.  If I ever am REALLY depressed or really struggling in a serious way, I will not blog about it.  I would seek the necessary help and THEN blog later when I'm in a better places.

So...thanks for all the comments and concerns, but please keep this in mind when reading my posts! I'd like to hope it's clear enough in the words, but sometimes my words need MORE words to better explain. :)

The New Clean Routine

I appreciate the comments here and on Facebook about keeping things neat!  Clearly I have a lot to learn. A few things that have stuck with me these three weeks that I hope to carry on long term.  Generally speaking, our house has never looked so clean consistently for so long!

Making the beds.
Yup.  The mere fact that I mention this means that I did NOT make the beds before this.  Ever.  For real.  (Are you judging??) Now I make Sawyer's bed and Lincoln helps me make ours.  He likes to help toss up all those decorative pillows that Lynn made for us two years ago. Great to see them getting use!  I do still throw everything into Lincoln's crib, but that's okay for a crib I think.

Washing clothes.
Because I wash pretty much every color together (and if you're worried, they turn out FINE!), we have gotten rid of laundry baskets and I just throw dirty things into the machine and wash when it's full.  Ta DA!  This keeps me more on a schedule so I'm not letting things pile up.

Putting away laundry.
Though it still might sit on the guest room bed overnight (like last night) I do put it away more frequently. Lincoln helped with this, too.  If you're wondering how he helped, I generally don't FOLD laundry and only hang super important things, so I let him stuff all of his and Sawyer's clothes into a dresser. (Are you judging again?)  Washing the small loads as they fill up also keeps me from doing like 3 loads in a day, which I was doing before. So rather than 3 loads to put away, I have one.  Much simpler!

Keeping the sink clean and dishwasher emptied.
I made it a New Year's Resolution to make sure the sink was empty before bedtime, but I've taken it a step further by really and truly putting dishes away and washing them immediately after use.  It's not that hard, and I almost never come in the kitchen and feel stressed that there's a back up of dishes.  Rob has also been helping put away his dishes and the boys' dishes after dinner, which is a lovely tradition.

Clearing the counters.
From our bathroom to the kitchen, I have been working to keep the counters free from clutter.  A little extreme, really, as I'm not sure I'd take EVERYTHING off if we weren't selling our house, but other than the appliances in the kitchen (which I also do remove before a showing), I don't let things like mail or dishes or pens or my purse or crumbs stay out on the counters.  It makes the whole house feel fresh!  It also makes me find a place for everything, so if there isn't a place, sometimes it just goes in the trash.

Some of you may be surprised that these are changes, as these are all pretty basic things that everyone generally does.  Can I impress upon you again the idea that housekeeping is my bane?  And I WISH I could show you a photo of my freshman year dorm so you could see how far I've come in terms of being neat and organized.  If it helps you imagine, Ginny and I almost got fined at the end of the year because our room SMELLED.  Ew.

Do you have daily things that you try to keep track of in your house?  Or new habits you're trying to form?

Is My Life Just a Circle?

Warning: I'm having kind of a low day.

I've been staying up late to get things done, yet still not getting all the things done on my list.  So part of my mood today is fueled by exhaustion.  By 10am today, I had sent snippy emails, yelled at my kids, and hurt my husband's feelings.  All of which made me feel even WORSE than when I started out.  Like, it's not enough to have a bad day--I have to be a jerk, too?

This week (even though it's only Wednesday) has been one of those hard ones.  Again, I have a lot to do this week and can't seem to get on top of it.  Sawyer has also been having a week of bad attitude, talking back, lying, whining, and not being kind.  He and Linc have been fighting, so when they'd normally play contentedly, I'm having to deal with two boys pushing each other down and yelling.  Plus trying to keep the house clean and show-ready.

I was thinking this morning after vacuuming, then realizing I already needed to vacuum again, that my life feels like a bunch of circles.  Each day I do the same things.  I vacuum only to vacuum again.  I deal with my kids hitting each other only to have to deal with them hitting each other again.  I wash the dishes only to have more dishes to wash.  I feel like I'm going in circles.  Am I actually getting anywhere??

Depressing thought.

So I turned to the book of depressing thoughts: Ecclesiastes.  If you've never read it, it's a book of the Bible just after Proverbs, generally thought to be written by Solomon, a wise king of Israel.  The book is SUPER depressing.  If anyone had the cushy life to enjoy, it would be a king, right?  You have all the things you could have and all the money and the power you'd want.  You're at the top of your game, the pinnacle of all you can achieve.

He writes about trying to find meaning in life, through pleasure, wisdom, and work, and this is his (initial) conclusion: "Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after the wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun."  (2:11)

Yikes.  If a wise king can't find meaning in all his wisdom or all the money he could ask for or pleasures he could desire, then I'm probably in trouble.

Are you wondering why I turned to this book on a low day like today?

I do find a strange comfort in seeing someone else struggle to find meaning, even in a blessed life.  But more encouraging than that is his secondary conclusion.  If everything is vanity, then what can we do with our life?  I find a little more hope here: "I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil--that is God's gift to man."  (3:12-13) And, so that doesn't just sound like a license for self-indulgence (which he already said is vanity), he concludes with this: "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." (12:13)

Whether they are circles or not, I should take joy in my work from vacuuming to tucking a kid in at night to getting a chance to work on my novel.  God has given us life to live and work to do and food to eat and people to love-- I can take joy in that, even if I wake up tomorrow and do a full repeat of today.

That last conclusion of Solomon's might bring me back to depression again, though, especially thinking about yelling at my kids and hurting Rob's feelings this morning.  How can I keep God's commandments?  Clearly I fail at that every day, wake up the next morning and fail again.

When I'm feeling particularly dramatic, as I am today, I love this quote from Paul in Romans 7:24-25- "Who then will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord."  I definitely wonder who can rescue me from this body of death this morning, in my dramatic depressive mood.  The good news is that I've already been rescued.  Jesus lived a perfect life, because I can't.  He died on the cross to pay for my sins, so I won't.  If there is anything that can lift my spirits, it's this.

The spiritual life is much like my daily life: going in circles.  I draw near to God, thankful for his grace to me, then wander a bit and find myself in a wasteland, then am drawn back to that grace again.

After working through all this today, I am thankful for circles.  Without them, I wouldn't be able to come back for grace again and again and again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Linc Ness Monster

It's been one week since Lincoln stopped drinking milk from a bottle.  Which translates to Lincoln not drinking milk, period.  Just like Saw, once we took away the bottle, it was all water.  Though he does like juice more than Sawyer does.  We still don't buy it, so it's a nice treat at Gammy's or Mimi's.  Right now there are two gallons of milk in our fridge (thanks, Peter!) that Rob is going to have to guzzle. Or maybe I'll start taking coffee with my milk instead of vice versa.

This has really changed Linc's life.

For one, he seems markedly more cheerful and full of energy.  Bottles were our kids' pacifiers.  They didn't really attach to pacifiers, but the bottle was their comfort and what they did to satisfy that baby suckling instinct once nursing was over.  When Linc got tired or sad or just wanted to chill, he wanted a bottle.  Not that he had them all day long or anything, but often in the morning when he was just waking up he'd ask for one, or after dinner before bed.  Now, he wakes up dancing and running around with a giant smile on his face.  He has grumpy periods, but overall, he seems to have more liveliness.

He is also eating like a beast, hence the post title.  I don't know how much Nessie eats (and I DO believe in the Loch Ness Monster, for real), but I'd imagine quite a bit.  Not people though.  She's a good monster.

Here's an example of Lincoln's breakfast yesterday.  He ate the following:

-2 packages of oatmeal
-1 banana
-1 egg
-toast with jelly

That's ridiculous.  That's more than a grown man.  Definitely more than Rob or I eat.  He had a breakfast like that on Sunday morning, then as soon as we got him to church he said, "Snack?"

This has been a great transition.  No real crying, great adjustment to going to bed without a bottle.  (Yes, we also put our kids to bed with a bottle.)  I remember feeling like Sawyer suddenly became a big boy when we got rid of the bottle.  And I thought we got rid of it for him around two, but in reality, it was two and a half.  What!  I am pretty sure I can blame that on not wanting to have any more transitions after having a second child.

But now, after doing it twice, I would say to myself:  Self, get rid of the bottle sooner.  The doctors just might be right--it's a good idea to let them move on.

Hey, It's Okay Tuesday

I got this idea from Airing My Dirty Laundry, One Sock at a Time and SHE got it from Glamour.  Basically, if you want to link up, you can check out her post here, then post a bunch of things you can be okay about, good or bad.  

It's okay.

To stay in your pajamas on a rainy day. Or any day for that matter.  (And I know there are like 1800 popular books and blogs now telling women to get dressed in the morning. I'm sure they're lovely.  But IT'S OKAY for me to not listen to them.)

To drink a pot of coffee a day.

That I forgot to send Sawyer's lunch to school today. (Thanks, Dad for picking up something on the way!)

To really like your mom.  AND your mom-in-law.  Your whole family, for that matter!

To fall in love with a new house for sale every week and then have them all sell before my house does.

To still not fully know how to operate my fancy DSLR camera, even after taking a class.

To sometimes wish that I could go back in time, not to change anything, but just to enjoy those memories again.

To be excited for the Hunger Games, even though I don't want to admit it.

To not know what the Hunger Games are. (Shank.)

That I really wish I had the time to watch TV shows at night. I miss American Idol.

What things are you okay about on this Tuesday?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Clean House or Cheerful Mommy?

Lately, it's been a toss-up between those two things.  I simply can't seem to find the balance where I have clean house AND remain cheerful.

Shank told me recently that she read on a Facebook status this quote, which is wholly true:  Cleaning a house while you have toddlers is like shoveling the sidewalk during a snowstorm.  YES!  While I am straightening up one area, they destroy another.  Not being bad, just being kids.  I've tried getting them to help so I can teach them about being neat, and that a degree.  If it were just me, their version of clean would be fine.  I've made it simple:  I have nice baskets that go in all our storage things and bookshelves so they can just toss toys in.  Looks neat, but simple to do.

The thing is that we aren't cleaning for me.  We are cleaning for that stranger who will want to buy our house.  And I assume that stranger is a total snob who will be turned off at the sight of a dog hair or a stray lego.  I have seen some gross, gross homes recently while looking.  A stray lego would be fine.

I've gotten into some great habits about keeping things neat and orderly (which I must say is easier when half our possessions are packed and moved out of the house), but I can't seem to be clean AND be cheerful.  This cleaning thing pushes the limits of my patience.

So for those of you naturally gifted with the clean gene, how do you do it with little kids? How do you keep things straight without getting to the point of tearing your hair out or shouting at boys who are just being boys?  I need your wisdom and your tips!

Daily Disaster: Jelly Edition

Just before we had a showing the other day, this happened.

Daily Disaster: Sodium Edition

How much bad luck do you think this is??

We definitely like our salt in this family.  But maybe not THAT much.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Godfather, Derby Bouts, and the Black Hand of the Boss

If you're wondering why I didn't post much this week, it was spring break so I spent loads of time with the kids. Then at night, I had loads of time with derby to get ready for my first bout of the season last night.  Though my team lost (and I felt like poo out there), we had a GREAT bonding team dinner watching the Godfather (my team is the Bosses, like mob bosses) and our league really filled up our new venue downtown, Bayou City Music Center (formerly Verizon Wireless Theater).  I'll take a photo of my developing black eye in a day or two, but for now, here are some photos I took.
 Godfather style, we gifted the Sirens a stick-horse head.  (Leftover from my failed attempt to make Lincoln one, which you can read about HERE.)
 We also played Bingo, writing things down we wanted to accomplish.  You could put a sticky note with your name on what you did.  I'm not sure who the winner is yet.  I wrote this, and totally accidentally wrote what's in the second box down on the left, then had to change it. After lots of hearty laughter.
 On our dressing room door.
 On our dressing room wall.  Kellie Pickler was here!  We also found a piece of poop in the corner, which
 Here is Feisty.  I bet you can get a bit more on the night over at her blog, GrrFeisty.
 One of our rookies, Mommy Fearest, made these adorable goody bags with snacks in them.
 The track!
 Cool tattoo, courtesy of SyRenge.

 Those are some Bossy sweepers!
 Teammate Lipstick Assassin.
 Lineup caller Bombadee getting a hug from bench coach Chicken.
 I don't know what was happening here, but think someone needs to caption this.
 Bomb showing her St. Patrick's Day flair.
 Derek Chris P. Bacon, a ref-turned announcer.
 The look you'll get if you say, "Hey, Kills!"
 Travel Team coach Spanky helping the girls warm up.
 Lipstick Assassin posing by the track. Like a Boss.
Shank and I went with makeup inspired by Lord of the Rings.  You know, this:
Or this:

By the end of the night's skating (plus icing my face, which took a stray fist to the nose/eye), I basically had a face only a chimney sweep could love.  Overall, it was a great night, though I have to say that I got a little down thinking about all the mistakes I made and all the jammers that blew right by me.  It was one of those nights that things just weren't slow enough in my head, like everything on the track happened too fast for me to keep up and adjust.  That's how it feels as a rookie. Generally, by now, things seems slower to me. I know more what's going on and where to be.  It just stinks to practice one way and play another.  On the plus side, I did well when I jammed and I haven't been jamming a lot lately, so I felt good about that.  You have to have something good to hold onto!

Here are a few more photos from other people.
 This one from Ellen and Craig Brown, two lovely friends from church who came out sporting their Irish garb.  Too bad because I wanted to pinch them.
And here's a beautiful shot from Danny Nguyen, who takes lovely photos.  He even let me use his camera after the bout to take a photo of him because I always tried to get a shot of him when I was off-skates due to pregnancy.  Aw!  I'm in the back of this pack and would like to think I just made a block for my jammer.  But with the way I played...probably not.   As photos from our photographers drift in, I may add a few.  Our next bout is April 21st, so make plans to come out!



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