Saturday, June 30, 2012

saturday sillies and sweet stuff (episode 6)

Just a couple of happy highlights from this week:
  • A request for me to sing "boogie boogie" ... took me awhile to figure out Bubby wanted to do the Hokey Pokey 
  • Bugaboo can stand at the coffee table or couch if we help him get up there. He will stand for quite some time and even cruise a little bit if he's in the right mood.  
  • Some Bubby quotes: "Excuse me, woman." (said to me in a sweet, not hostile, voice) and "CupCAPEs are my favorite!"
  •  I asked Bubby to do me a favor. Apparently I have yet to use that word with him because for some reason he thought he was getting a present.
  • When we were entering the house a few times this week, Bubby yelled out, "No buggies. Stay outside. Don't come in!" He also yelled this when we got into the car.
  • At the end of a snack of chips and salsa, Bubby felt the need to lick the remaining salsa off of his plate. 
  • Bugaboo woke up pretty early one morning the rest of this week, which enabled us to get some snuggle time in with him before big brother woke up. Rare for a second child.
  • I'm incredibly thankful that so far the boys still get along really well. Bugaboo adores Bubby, and Bubby really does try to play with and to help his little brother as much as a three year old can. The other day they had such fun "wrestling" each other (with much mommy supervision). Only a preview of the years ahead, I hope.

Friday, June 29, 2012

parenting, spirituality, and a lot of rambling

Sometimes it hits me really hard that I am responsible for two people other than myself. And my decisions affect not just the here and now, but eternity. We currently attend a type of church that I only attended until about the age of seven. Lately I wonder - do I want to raise my kids in this? And I can't just look broadly at denominations, but also the idiosyncrasies, pros and cons of the local church. All churches have them - so what are the things we should overlook and what are the deal-breakers? Every family must decide this for themselves.

I do not want my kids forced to believe anything, but on the other hand, I do not want to neglect my spiritual responsibility for them. I was lucky in that I went to church by myself as a teenager. I chose to go. Alone. No one made me do it. So I can confidently say all my spiritual decisions and beliefs are truly mine. (Although I was raised in the early years with certain attitudes and beliefs - some of which I held onto, and some of which I dismissed.)

Why all of these questions today?

Because I struggle living in the Bible-belt. This is the hardest place to be a follower of Jesus, I think.  Since I currently live in the Mecca of the Assemblies of God plus find a Baptist church on every corner here, it is easy to grow cynical about Christianity and the hypocrisy we find within its people. I want to shield my children from that, and at the same time I want to strengthen them in such a way to fight against it.

I am discouraged today. I could write pages about why I just want to walk away. I could give names and specific conversations and accusations over recent weeks, but it won't matter. People will often believe what benefits them rather than the truth. All of this makes me want to walk away from this thing called Christianity. This thing each of us has made it to fit our molds rather than us being shaped into Its mold.

And despite this discouragement, I hang onto the encouraging words I heard last week from several people. I cling to the way I see older saints and young adults love my kids at church and outside of those walls. I think of my friends who commiserate with me over coffee or via e-mail, and I remember I am not alone in this loneliness, in this frustration turned sadness. I am thankful for people who share a different perspective but still see my heart, who don't jump to conclusions. (I pray I learn to be more like that.)

So where does this all lead me? And what does that have to do with parenting? Probably everything and nothing all rolled into one because just want to know how I am supposed to raise my kids in this crazy world.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

when friendship is like my favorite pair of jeans

Many refer to the city I live in as the black hole. Those of us who come here for college or seminary try desperately to not get stuck here or sucked back in. I left for parts unknown after graduation, only to be sucked back in a couple of years later for The Hubs to go to school. And seven years later we. are. still. here.

As hard as that is to accept some days, living just a couple of miles from my alma mater has it's advantages. This week one of my college friends is in town for missions training, and another friend decided to drive five or six hours to come visit us.
What is it about old friends that make you feel completely at ease?  Lunch and the conversation was like putting on my favorite pair of jeans. Nine years post-graduation and just some facebook messages and a few visits in between, we picked up where we left off. These are the girls with whom I would go on ice cream runs with at ten o'clock at night in the freezing rain. These are the ones with whom I chatted with for hours in our mint green painted dorm rooms  eating Papa John's and listening to the beloved Sara Groves sing about life and faith and questions.  These are the girls who have prayed for me and with me, who have made me laugh when the tears were too much and made me laugh so hard I would cry on a pretty regular basis. We had seasons where we drove each other crazy, attitudes and behaviors that rocked our relationships at times, but we have been shaped and changed for the better.

On Saturday we sat at Ruby Tuesdays eating salad. I couldn't help but think how much we had changed and yet how much we were still those nineteen year old girls, asking the tough questions and laughing at ridiculousness.  I saw beauty and depth and strength and wisdom in my friends this weekend. I remembered our hopes and dreams for our days on Walther 2nd South, and over lunch I breathed in our questions and aspirations for the days ahead.  I wanted to box it all up and take it home with me, to open whenever I needed reminding about who I am at my core.

They say you can't go home again, but this weekend was pretty darn close.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

saturday sillies episode 5

Missed last week, so here's two week's worth of funny stuff from my boys
  • "My peas are stinky." (avoiding eating his vegggies)
  • "See you later, Mike." (to The Hubs as he left for work one morning)
  • My son's vacuum obsession continued. My friend who helped with the preschoolers at VBS told me Bubby was using a tube balloon as a vacuum and saying "vacuum! Vacuum!" as he played
  • On the long ride home from VBS one day, Bugaboo was cranky and crying.  Bubby said, "It's okay, G----. We're almost home."

  • Bubby's prayer one night, ""Thank You for Starbucks. Thank You for Eli. Thank You for chicken. Thank You for poke in the eye." 
  •  Bugaboo had beef jerky for his morning snack (recommended by the OT and speech therapist). So funny watching him chew, chew, chew.
  •  Mike: "Where do pork chops come from?" Bubby: "From the kitchen."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

it's VBS week

It is VBS week here. Bubby gets to go for the first time, and he is doing pretty well, considering he is the youngest kid there (since he is only a few weeks into being three). Yesterday he made it most of the day without having to come up to my room/station, and today he made it all day.  It helps that a couple of my friends are in the pre-school area, and Bubby is a big fan of Miss Amelia, Miss Charity, and Pastor Melia. (aka as Miss Mee-yah, Miss Cherry and Pastor Mee-yah).
Me? I'm loving working with the elementary kids - twenty minute segments at a time to watch a short video and then have some discussion and prayer. Some of these groups really impress me with the way they pray for each other and what they share. One little guy even prayed for Bugaboo today (when his Crew Leader had asked me to share about my boys).  And Bugaboo? He is enjoying getting lots of snuggles from one of our favorite nursery volunteers.
All of this excitement on top of yesterday's schedule which also included physical therapy and today which included BOTH boys boycotting naps makes for one exhausted me. So this may be the only blog post this week.
I leave you with a video of Bubby saying his memory verse or his Wednesday night class. This is his first memory verse ever - and only a week in --- not too shabby.  :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

five minute friday - Path

Joining with The Gypsy Mama's group today to write for five minutes without editing on the topic "path."


Right now my two boys sit on the living room floor making a path out of brio train tracks. My youngest just pulls things out of the train basket while my oldest creates and destroys and creates again a path for his trains and cars.  He doesn't have very many tracks in his set yet, but I remember his uncle, my brother, creating paths all over the house, when he was just a couple of years older than what Bubby is now.

Who would have thought our paths would take us where we are now? My brother became a numbers guy - a responsible fellow with a wife and dog fixing up a house in our hometown after a brief stint in a town he swore he would never visit, let alone live in. My path went through some stops in various places, and is currently stopped in the land of mommy-hood.
I look at my babies with their wooden toys sprawled out before them, and I wonder, what does the future hold for them? For their friendship? For their education? What paths will be paved in front of their feet?


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I cried in front of strangers today

Grady had his OT and Speech evaluation this afternoon. I answered all of the questions, they observed and played with and evaluated him.  He is low-tone (which we knew), and he has proprioception and sensory issues (which we figured). The OT was concerned with his vision (which we were in the "early days," but after two appointments to the pediatric opthamologist we kept being told he was fine...grrrr!) - and they gave us the name of an optometrist that is excellent in town. His eyes are probably healthy, but the low tone appears to be causing vision issues. I am thankful for the insight and the referral, but frustrated that the previous "expert" just brushed us off.

They gave me a lot of information as they shared the results of the assessment.  In the end it turns out my eighteen month old is developmentally 8-10 months old. We still do not know all of the causes of these delays, but the issues we do understand we are going to tackle and pray that they improve. The therapists were so kind and gracious, and they explained how we will proceed once all of the paper work and such is taken care of.

I tried to stop myself, but the tears just quietly poured out when they explained things to me.  I felt exactly how I felt three years ago in the NICU with Cole, when we had a big setback, and they took him off his food again. I remember sitting at his incubator just crying, and the NICU OT, Ashley came over and just let me cry with her, an almost stranger. The same sinking, can't hold back the tears any longer moment happened again, this time over my youngest and in front of two strangers.

The thoughts pound in my head and in my heart. Why is what I have done as his mommy not enough? It is so disheartening today to know that I have done "my job,", but that it is still not enough. We read, we sing, and we don't watch very much tv. We go to the park and the zoo. We snuggle. I nursed him for fourteen months. I have pushed for every referral/appointment I could get without looking like a crazy mom (and even still pushed when I was doubted). I have investigated any potential "diagnosis" that I think may fit so that we can have the most early intervention possible.  It feels like I have failed somewhere, even though I can see the facts on paper.

The tears still flow too easily right now, taking the place of the words that are scattered and awkward and not enough.

Monday, June 11, 2012

what I have learned after two weeks of Zumba

The last two Mondays I have been able to go to Zumba at The Barn (aka where I go to church on Sunday mornings). Most of the other ladies have been going all spring, but The Hubs' schedule has just recently changed to more daytime and less evening hours. Hence, my newly free Monday evenings, and a chance to exercise and get out of the house. So here is what I have learned after just two classes.

  • My A/G friends can move. That is all I will say about that.
  • Sometimes I feel like my 13 year old self in class - all awkward and unsure. Unlike my 13 year old self, though, I am not sitting on the sidelines  trying to figure out how to get out of class.  I have discovered I have to learn by doing (which is very much outside of my comfort zone - always has been). Of course, our Zumba leader is not mean like my middle school PE teachers either, so that helps.
  • I don't think I have the right Zumba clothes. I have frumpy clothes, old yoga pants and a t-shirt from my first year of teaching.  These are not cute workout clothes. But on the upside my yoga pants have seen more action than ever before. I think I hear them in a state of shock saying, "What's going on, Amanda? We aren't being used as pajama pants? We aren't going on a Wal-mart run? You aren't bumming around in us until the Physical Therapist arrives, at which time you will change into real pants?Who are you and what have you done with our owner?"
  • According to facebook, some people come home and make a smoothie after class.  I am not one of those people. I come home and eat a piece of cake.
  • My hips do not move like they are supposed to. I can get my arms and legs moving, though not always at the same time or at the right moment. The hips, not so much.
  • I still have unresolved issues with my parents never putting me in a dance or gymnastics class. Perhaps they would like to make it up to me by enrolling me in one now. (Please do not reference the vault experience from high school, Mom. Yes, I know you are laughing right now.)
  • It is fun. I hate exercise in all forms, and I do not hate this.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

be holy

be holy

it ties my stomach in knots
as I recall the times I have
misrepresented Him

in my efforts to defend myself
I found myself the attacker
and saw glimpses of my foe in the mirror

in the guise of showing mercy
I have kept my mouth shut
when it should have shouted out painful but necessary truths

in my perpetual mess He still calls me
He still tells me, "be holy,
you are loved. you are chosen.
be holy."

He does not show me my evaluation
nor hand me another checklist
instead I receive an engraved invitation

and with tears of sorrow and joy,
relief and release, I accept

Saturday, June 9, 2012

saturday sillies and sweet stuff episode 4

  • While driving to a friend's house today, I told all three of my guys in the car I loved them.  Bubby replied, "I don't love you right now, Mommy." I stifled a big laugh because it was his way of telling me he didn't want to talk at the moment.
  • Loved watching Bugaboo in a friend's pool today. He.Loved.It. Bubby - not so much. He stayed pretty much around the edge most of the day with his life vest on.
  • One day this week we were talking about animals. Bubby informed me, "Chickens eat chick-away" (aka Chick-fil-a. Bubby loves Chick-away.)
  • Bubby is now referring to himself at various times as "silly monkey." I don't know if I called him that or one of our friends did, but now everytime he climbs on something he says to himself, "Get down little monkey." Or "What are you doing silly monkey?"
  • Bugaboo is starting to notice when big brother is not in the room and then repeatedly says, "Buh-buh-buh-buh..." He's made huge gains in interacting this week. Lots of smiles and his crawling is getting fast. Now we keep plugging away at trying to get him to say some words.

Friday, June 8, 2012

some additional thoughts to the last post

In case you were offended by my last post, ask yourself if you really should be.
  • My thoughts on the "mommy wars" can be found here.
  • And some thoughts on what I really want for my children are here.
  • For the record, I was raised by a single working mom for a large chunk of my growing up years. My mom always encouraged me that I could be anything I wanted to be, and she told me I did not have to be a wife and a mom to be happy/fulfilled.
  • I understand that some moms have to work. My questions come from witnessing many moms who put their careers/goals/personal fulfillment ahead of their children. There are stay-at-home moms who do not prioritize their children either.
  • My last post featured my thoughts, my questions, the issues I wrestle with. I do not claim to have it all right or to have all of the answers.  I think if more of us were honest about the things we struggle with, the world would be a better place. If my transparency is an issue for you, I suggest you not read my blog any more.

pondering mutuality/egalitarianism

This week Rachel Held Evans is doing a series on mutuality/egalitarianism. After a great conversation with a friend today, I thought I would try to post some of my thoughts on the topic.

When I was sixteen or so, I remember having Sunday dinner with much of my mom's side of the family. Somehow the topic of women in leadership  came up, and a middle-aged man at the table was very much opposed to women being pastors (even though he was part of a denomination that ordains women). Always one with an opinion on things, I piped up, "Paul says there are no males or females in Christ Jesus," and before I could even finish my thought, that relative told me I was "reading too much into the Bible."

I still get angry when I think about this conversation. As a result of it, as well as other issues I have with domineering or absent or jerky men, I have spent much of my Christian life with the attitude, "I am woman, hear me roar." I questioned my youth pastor's wife about "wasting her degree." I even remember when I was getting to know my (now) husband, I made sure he was okay with women in ministry. I wasn't going into ministry, but I knew I couldn't be married to someone who thought such a thing was wrong.

Over the years I have been a part of different churches and different denominations. I know of A/G pastors who won't let women preach from "their" pulpit (even though the denomination allows women to be pastors), and I personally know a Baptist pastor who wants his denomination to change its stance on the issue (and said so from the pulpit in a very respectful way). My favorite pastor, who happens to be female, dedicated my first born, yet I find myself annoyed at the way some women want us all to "fight" for our rights to be heard. I read Mark Driscoll and John Piper, and glean from them even though I do not agree with every thing they say on every issue. I don't agree with a lot of what Rachel Held Evans writes either, and yet I still find things from her blog that encourage and edify me.

Being a stay-at-home mother (by choice) has only added to my questions about egalitarianism.

Can I be an egalitarian when I believe a woman who chooses to be a mom  should put aside their career goals and concentrate to the best of her ability on raising her kids?
Can I be an egalitarian when I struggle with liking women who I see put their family's needs, wants, and best interests on the back burner for more degrees, more accolades, more opportunities?
Can I be an egalitarian when I believe that no matter how awesome of a dad The Hubs is (and he is awesome), I would hate it if he was a stay-at-home-dad because I feel it is my "job" to be the main caregiver for our young children?
Can I be an egalitarian when I think the double-income-keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality we have in our society is a cause of so many of our problems in our country, and  when I think things would be better if there were still more families willing to live off of one income so that moms could stay at home and able to be VBS teachers and room moms and such?

If not, that is fine. But I don't fit in the complemenetarian camp either because...

I don't think women are just called to work in the nursery or the church kitchen.
The Hubs used to be the one who did more of the cooking and cleaning when he was in school and I was working full time.
I do know of a few working moms that I admire, like my aunt-in-law - who have raised fabulous kids and have made them a priority and make me think that it could be possible for me to work and be a mommy if I had to do it.
I take out the trash. Not every week. But it's not The Hubs' job. It's the job of whoever remembers it's Monday morning.
I have an advanced degree that I was encouraged to get. And it was not a waste of time or money.
My husband is not the boss of me. (Nor am I the boss of him.) We may argue about things sometimes. We may not always agree. But I cannot think of a time in our marriage where he has played the "because I'm the man" card. We make decisions together.

See? Once again I do not quite fit anywhere. But labels are highly over-rated.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

fun things about which I have an opinion

Thought I should lighten it up a bit after that last post. Not so much for y'all, but for me. Sometimes having strong opinions about things is stressful. I have eaten a whole lot of junk today in response to the stress. Or maybe it is  because I fear one day I will no longer have the right to consume cookie dough or vanilla Dr. Pepper.

So here are some more things about which I have an opinion, most of them fun, I hope
  • Peanut butter should only be creamy - crunchy is just gross
  • Speaking of nuts...Do not put nuts in baked goods. Nothing ruins a good cookie/brownie/muffin/piece of fudge like chopped nuts.
  • Toenails - if you choose to have your toes exposed in the summer, please either polish them or take all of the polish off. I hate feet anyway, and funky speckled toes make me gag.
  • Pride and Prejudice - The Keira Knightly version is not P&P (of course, if I am honest here, I only made it through about thirty minutes before I got angry and turned it off). The best version of P&P to watch is the one with Colin Firth. Yes, it is five hours, and there are a lot of dancing scenes, but it. is. worth. it.
  • After this week's first attempt at Zumba, I am utterly convinced that my parents should have spent money on some dance lessons for me instead of piano lessons.
  • Church music - variety is best. Please play some hymns, please play some new stuff. But feel free to leave out the cheesy stuff from the late 80's and early 90's. Also, please never ever play Come, Now Is the Time to Worship, especially if you play it for song #2 or #3. I am already there worshipping. It's redundant. And I really don't like that song.
  • I really wish we would get another Target in my town - one on the northside or at least the west side. One is not enough. I'm a Target girl living in a Wal-mart dominated land.

in which I share an opinion

If you are my facebook friend, you know I am riled up about a ridiculous vote we had in Springfield. Most people thought it was about second-hand smoke because that is how one side of the issue presented it. However, it was about freedom and business owners' rights. I am a big fan of freedom, even though I am not a big fan of smoke. I do not need Springfield to be smoke-free because I can choose to go to many smoke-free venues because many business owners make their businesses smoke-free already. Plus the legislation that was in question didn't repeal the restaurant smoke-free mandate anyway - it applied to other venues. But freedom lost last night. Sigh.
One other side note on that - I find it sad and frustrating that so many people speak about the right to health by infringing on business owners right to choose, yet these are the same people who speak loudly about abortion and the right to kill a baby. Yep, I went there. (And yes as a miscarriage survivor and a mom of two-preemies, I know that what was growing in me was a living human being.) I guess I just don't get the inconsistency - no one has the right to "make" you smell their smoke because that could harm you, but I had the right to "get rid of" Bugaboo and Bubby anytime before forty weeks gestation (which neither of them made it to, but they were clearly alive human beings when they arrived, even arriving very early). Sigh.

We lack so much personal responsibility in America.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

saturday sillies and sweet stuff episode 3

A week filled with birthday cards and cupcakes, FedEx packages and weather that couldn't make up its mind. I want to cram it back inside a box, tie it with a string, and be able to unwrap it over and over again.The Hubs and I found ourselves saying on more than one night before we drifted off to sleep, "I can't believe we have a three year old."  It seems like yesterday we were saying, "I can't believe we're going to have a baby."

 People who have had near-death experiences say their lives flashed before their eyes. I find that happening to me almost daily - my life flashing before my eyes. Time has to keep moving forward, but I want to be able to travel back to these moments and precious moments from seasons ago. I want to hold on, yet I want to let go and really live.

Attempting to wrap up some moments by writing them down... Saturday sillies and sweet stuff, episode 3

  • "...on the farm he had an elephant.  Va-ROoohh. EIEIO ... And on the farm he had a helicopter. EIEIO ..."
  • Bubby's new thing is to say, "Mommy," after most phrases. "The turtle is in the water, Mommy." "I cook in my kitchen, Mommy." "We go in the van-car, Mommy."
  • A pesky fly landed on our napkin holder at lunch the other day. "No! Don't take the napkins out!" And when the fly landed on Bugaboo's bowl, Bubby continued reprimanding the fly, "That's one. That's two. That's three. Go to the rug."
  • Bubby has stopped saying "Larry the Cucumber" and now refers to him as "The Giant Pickle." He also thinks it is hilarious when Ricky Gervais sings Elmo a lullaby.
  • Bugaboo deciding to spend most of his Friday crawling around very happy. It was his best crawling/interaction day I think we have had. Not much else got done around the house because he was "working" so well with me.
  • "Bugaboo is STUCK!" Bubby said, running into the kitchen where I am prepping dinner. Yep - somehow G was COMPLETELY under his crib, in a weird semi-sitting up position.
  • Me: "Do you want a drink of milk?" Bubby: "No, I fixin' my kitchen now." (new birthday present from Babu that he has played with pretty much non-stop.)
  • Bubby: That's a garbage truck over there. Me: Yes, it stinks. Bubby: It's stinky! There's poop in there!