When the Laundry’s Finished

Yesterday as I was rushing to throw in one more load of laundry before I had to get the kids from preschool, a sudden thought came to me: “Did I do chores before I had kids?”  I’m sure I did, but I honestly couldn’t recollect a consistent rushing around to get tasks done in the house.

I don’t remember doing laundry.  I know I did it because I wore clothes every day, but I don’t remember laundry holding a steady place in my week.  My guess is that laundry was reserved for the weekend.  Matt and I probably had a hamper that started to overflow, so we’d throw in a few loads when we were running low on underwear or socks.  When I was in the Air Force, we dry-cleaned most of our clothes, so remembering to take and pick up my uniforms from the cleaners was my most important laundry responsibility.

I do remember that I loved hosting Bible studies in our home because they forced me to keep the house clean.  Once a week, I would give the house a good once-over–vacuuming, dusting, mopping, scrubbing–and the house stayed relatively clean until the day had come to start over again.

While I was placing diapers on the rack to dry yesterday, I smirked remembering how casual and disorganized my life really was back then.  I was always tired as a new teacher, yet once I came home from work, I really didn’t do much in the house besides make dinner.  How life had changed!

Now, I feel like all I do is laundry and clean, yet the house is never clean, and I’m always behind on laundry.  As before, I don’t mop the floor that often but for a very different reason: Now, I get disillusioned when I scrub the kitchen floor only for one of my children to spill milk, drop peanut butter and jelly, turn over the dog bowls, etc., less than 24 hours after I finish the job.  It’s more time-efficient to spot clean.

I sighed thinking how wonderful life would be again one day to have only two people’s clothes to throw in the wash.

It would be quiet…

…and I’m not sure I like the quiet.

After all, if it’s quiet, and I’m only doing laundry for two, then I’m not looking at these adorable monkeys every day.

And I want to keep these monkeys around for as long as I can.

The Crazy Old Bat and Football

Many people assume the children were to blame for making the old lady crazy, and while they did their part, there were other factors.  Genetics surely came into play, as there were some nuts on both sides of the old woman’s family. However, there was one more culprit that people were quick to overlook–the old lady’s husband.

Mr. Davis was a good man, and one would be hard-pressed to find another who disagreed.  The old lady loved her husband very much, and he loved her, and they shared a marriage full of joyous memories.

When Mrs. Davis thought of her husband, by no means did she picture a stoic man.  He was always affectionate to his children and could laugh at a good joke.  However, the crazy old bat would never say that Mr. Davis was emotional.  In fact, due to her own penchant for drama, she would sometimes wish that he were a little less self-controlled.

For example, on her wedding day, the crazy old lady secretly hoped that the beauty she radiated as a new bride would produce such a wellspring of emotion in her new husband that he would not be able to contain the little tears that would pool in his eyes.  Yet on that day, the old woman (then young, of course) did not get her wish.  As she walked down the aisle, her soon-to-be-husband smiled, clearly delighted that his betrothed kept her promise to be his bride, but he was not moved to tears.

The crazy old lady wasn’t disappointed; after all, everyone reacts differently to different situations, but she was certain the birth of their first child would overwhelm her husband.  She had a difficult labor, and when that little boy finally emerged, the only tears came from him and his mother.  His father looked emotionally spent, probably from worrying the last few hours but, again, did not cry.

Perhaps Mr. Davis would cry at the birth of his first daughter.  This labor was uneventful, no worrying necessary, so he could enjoy her birth and allow the happiness of his little girl’s arrival to wash over him producing that single tear.  When the little girl entered the world, Mrs. Davis glanced at her husband and again noticed a smile but no tears.

The crazy old lady was not crazy yet, so she knew better than to look for tears at the birth of their third child.  Mr. Davis and she rejoiced at the speedy surprise that was their second little girl but kept the dramatics to a minimum.  In fact, the only thing dramatic about this birth was how quickly the entire labor and delivery happened.

So given her history with Mr. Davis, the crazy old woman was a little bewildered on January 1st of 2010.  As she was cleaning up in the kitchen, she happened to look over at her husband who was red in the face and whose eyes appeared to be watering.  She followed his gaze to the T.V. and noticed the montage of football clips that he was watching.  She must have missed something.

“What’s got you so emotional?” she asked, not knowing if there were a good story behind one of the players that just flashed on the screen.

“I don’t know,” Mr. Davis replied.

Mrs. Davis’s gaze let her husband know that she needed a better explanation.

“Year-in-review college football reels always get me emotional.”

At that moment, one of the synapses in the crazy old bat’s brain sparked and fizzled out forever.

10 Signs That You Are Sleep-Deprived

10.  When the doctor tells you that your son’s fever should be better in three or four days, you ask him for the exact day–any math is too complicated.

9. When the dosage for your son’s medicine does not automatically correspond to one of the lines on the medicine cup, you wait for your husband to get home to measure it.

8. You have resorted to asking your three-year-old to remind you to give him his medicine.

7. You have yet to call any of your children by his or her correct name all day.

6. On your rare date night out with your husband, you hesitate to pick a movie with a start time later than 8:00 for fear of falling asleep after the previews.

5. You’ve gone upstairs three times but have yet to come down with the item for which you made the trip.

4. Your husband handed you a coupon and less than one minute later you have no recollection of this incident taking place.

3. When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night crying, you find that you’re crying harder than she.

2.  After your baby goes back to sleep you’re still crying.

1.  You tried to watch the Disney classic Snow White with your children without falling asleep, but the movie is just too long–and you’re under the age of 70.

Taming the Tantrum

My daughter is beautiful and sweet and cuddly and everything anyone could hope for in a little girl, but she’s also a lot more.  Inside that cute, chubby body is a bag of terrible; after all, she is two.

Hannah Grace gives the best hugs I have ever received–she wraps her arms and legs completely around me like we’re two koalas–and then she finishes with a kiss, and it’s not little by any means! She is extremely affectionate.  The other day, she caressed my mother’s face while saying, “My beautiful, my precious.”

Hannah Grace also gives the best tantrums I have ever seen.  I was not aware that a child could muster up the strength or energy to have a temper tantrum for two hours straight IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.  I am not exaggerating–two hours.

Let me paint a quick picture for you:  I am stirring in my bed somewhat as Matt has gone to check on Hannah Grace who has summoned him.  All of sudden, I sit upright, startled, as I hear a fire engine wailing down our street in our neighborhood.  Oh, wait; it’s just Hannah Grace.  And to make sure that Matt and I know that she is really the one screaming the most obnoxious sound you will ever hear, she continues the tantrum by attempting to kick down her door.  Well, her half of a door.   Her daddy sawed her door in half so that we could lock the bottom portion yet still see her through the open top portion.  That’s what happens when naughty children won’t stay in their beds!

Obviously, Mommy was not happy after a few nights of listening to these types of tantrums, so she had a talk with Hannah Grace before bedtime last night:  “Hannah Grace, listen to me.  If you wake up in the middle of the night, I want you to squeeze your bear, and go back to sleep.  Do not scream for Mommy or Daddy or kick your door.  We will not come.  Now, if you wake up, and it’s still dark outside, what are you going to do?”

“I kick my door.”

“No, Hannah Grace.  Do not kick your door.  If you wake up, and it’s still dark, you are going to hug your bear, and go back to sleep.  What are you going to do if you wake up?”

“I going to kick my door.”

“No, Hannah Grace.  Do NOT kick your door because I will not come for you.  You are going to go back to sleep.  What are you going to do?”

“I go back to sleep.”

I got the answer that I wanted, but I certainly was not reassured.

At four A.M., I hear a quiet call for me: “Mommy?  Mommy?”

I was panicked.  My little angel was awake.  “Okay, Hannah, I hear you.  Give me a minute.”  I really had to go to the bathroom, but I was hoping I wasn’t making a big mistake.  After taking care of my business, I quietly walked down the hallway to Hannah Grace’s room.  She was lying on the floor in a ball right in front of her door–NOT kicking or screaming.

I was so proud, and at her request, I lay down next to hear on the floor for a couple of minutes.  We snuggled together until I thought she was asleep, and then I got up to leave.  “Two more minutes?” she softly petitioned.  “Okay, Hannah, but after two minutes, I’m going to go.”  She nodded her head in affirmation as she closed her eyes.  About two minutes later, I heard heavy breathing assuring me she was asleep.

As I snuck out of her room, I had to smile.  My little girl had actually practiced restraint.  She quietly called for me and then trusted that I would come if she did not kick or scream.  She had tamed her tantrum.

And on that same walk back to my bedroom, I had another thought: “If a two-year-old can tame her tantrum, why can’t you tame yours?”  Sure, I don’t literally try to kick down a door in the middle of the night, but I could pick my words or tone more carefully during the day.

When the kids or Matt don’t behave, how do I react?  If I don’t get my way, do I pout, or do I deal with it?  Am I overly critical with those I love most, not giving them the grace that I give strangers?

Aarghh.  Why do these thoughts come to me in the middle of the night?  I REALLY hate learning lessons from my kids.

But the reality of the situation is, when I’m terrible, I’m just not nearly as adorable as they are!

It’s About Relationship

I took Caleb to the doctor today AGAIN.  I’m not positive, but I believe I may have taken one child or the other or the other (or possibly two at the same time) to the doctor every week for four weeks.  But who’s counting?

My poor boy has sported different shades of gray over the last six days, and his big, beautiful eyes haven’t carried their normal twinkle.  He looked as if he hadn’t slept for days with dark shadows underneath his big saucers, and the rims of which were lined in a more bright pink.

Today his color shone brighter, but his eyes still were not right.  In fact, his eyes actually looked a little bloodshot.  So, given the fact that he had a 103.6 fever last night and eyes that didn’t look like they should, I decided to make another appointment.  Of course, right after I made the appointment, Caleb ate three bowls of cereal and asked to run races around the house.

Well, I’m glad I kept the appointment.  Apparently, Caleb does not have the flu as he was originally diagnosed on Friday.  Instead, he has a flu-like virus that often ends in an ear infection, and as luck would have it, Caleb has both an ear infection AND pink eye!  What kind of Satan-inspired virus starts by causing one to feel like he’s been run over by a truck and ends with pink eye?!!  My poor baby!

I had asked the doctor if we were safe from this virus since none of us had caught anything yet.  His answer was not reassuring–no, we could incubate the virus for six days, so we aren’t in the clear until the middle of next week.  As I was sitting in the parking lot of the pediatrician’s office, a slight panic swept over me.  How was I going to prevent the other four of us from getting pink eye or this horrible virus?  I was barely able to stay on top of my normal chores much less attempt the hard-core, virus-killing, deep-cleaning required to kill all of these nasty germs.  My other two kids were too little to battle anything like this bug, and if I got sick like Caleb, how would I handle my three kiddos?  Thinking about it made me nauseas.

At that moment, I started to pray, “Dear God, please don’t let…,” and I stopped.  I didn’t want to bother God with my request.  There were more important, real problems in the world.  And almost immediately after I stopped, I felt God prompting me, almost as if He were saying, “Finish the prayer.

I’ve had this problem before–I don’t want to say my prayers because I’m afraid they’re selfish.  While I’m asking God for patience to deal with my kids, another lady is asking God why she isn’t able to have kids.  It doesn’t seem right, and, yet, God wants me to tell Him what’s on my mind.

When I talk to my mom, I tell her how I feel.  I’ve told her this week how tired I feel and like I’m going a little crazy having been stuck at home since Thursday.  Well, God is my heavenly Father, and He wants to know how I feel, too.  The beauty of Christianity is that it’s not a religion with a distant god who will weigh our good works against our bad deeds when we die.  Instead, because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we have a God who doesn’t see our bad deeds and wants to mold us to do good while we live.  But we need to remain in a relationship for that to happen.

And that means I need to have a true relationship with God–I need to pray honestly.  Of course I don’t want my kids to get sick!  Last night, Caleb woke up hysterical, Chloe was up three times before 11:30, and Hannah Grace wandered into our room around 10:00 eating a pear. That was our night with only one confirmed sick kid!  Matt and I are exhausted, and for no one else to get sick, we definitely need prayer!

There is definitely a balance that needs to be achieved.  God is not a genie in a bottle here to grant my wishes, and to treat Him as such is irreverent.  However, He wants to hear from me, and to withhold my honest prayers because I think they are insignificant is also irreverent.  God doesn’t need me, but He wants me FOR me.  I need the relationship, and any good relationship starts with communication.

So as I sat in the parking lot, I finished my prayer: “Dear God, please keep us from getting sick.  I’m scared of us catching this virus or pink eye because I don’t know how I can keep the kids away from each other.  Please protect them. Please protect Matt and me.  I’m afraid of feeling as miserable as Caleb was and having to take care of the kids.”

As with any prayer, God may answer mine with ‘no.’  He may let nature run its course, and in two days I may be looking through the slits of my gunk-filled eyes.  And if I am, I will ask God for the endurance to get through the day.  I’ll never tire of hearing my children share their honest concerns and prayers, and neither will my Father tire of hearing me.

In a Funk

If you decide to read this post, beware.  I don’t really have a plan for where I am going with this entry, but I needed to write.  I’m feeling a little sad today, and writing always helps.  Since it’s only 11:15 A.M., I want to start while I still have time to fix my mood and salvage the rest of the day!

I don’t think there is one thing in particular that is making me sad but a lot of little things piling up.  For one, Caleb is sick with the flu, and in the process, I found out that I am not the compassionate person that I always thought I was.  I hate seeing my son sick, but apparently I don’t deal very well with incessant whining and dramatics, either.  Being stuck in the house since Thursday only leaving to take Hannah Grace to preschool and Caleb to the doctor has caused me to go a little batty.  Well, being stuck in the house probably wouldn’t make me go batty that quickly, but being stuck with the incessant whining  and dramatics has apparently done me in!

So…going batty has made me a little sad because I want to be sane, and not having compassion for a three-year-old who is sick makes me feel like someone should slap me (I have had compassion at times, just not the whole time).  Please don’t slap me, though.  I’m in a fragile state.

The battiness (and my freewill) also caused me to be mean to my husband last night, so I feel bad about that fact this morning.  Maybe I can make it up to him by putting on some lip gloss.  It’ll complete my outfit of a red sweatshirt, red pajama bottoms, multi-colored fuzzy socks, and crazy hair.

My sleep deprivation keeps getting worse, and I know that doesn’t help me with my mood control.  My children have been conspiring again, and each of them were up during the night, but of course, at different times.  Chloe woke up at 11:30 and 2 or 3 or 4–I really have no idea–screaming.  She didn’t need to eat but needed comfort, so I am fearful that she may have an illness brewing…or maybe some teeth.  Either way, I know my sleep will be limited over the next week.

Hannah Grace, true to form, had two full-out, kicking-her-door-in temper tantrums in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, and as I stated previously, not at the same time when I was already awake with Chloe.  She came after Chloe’s first spell but before the next.

And in one of my better moments of showing compassion, Caleb woke up requesting medicine, after bounding in our bed a few hours earlier.  Maybe the heat from his fever contributed to my sweating through my shirt, soaking my sheets beneath me, causing me to change shirts in the middle of the night but  not being able to change the sheets since my two boys were sound asleep in bed.  I was freezing all night.

On top of the illness and sleep deprivation, I’m a little depressed at the condition of my home, for which normally I would give myself a pass given the circumstances, but our realtor is coming on Wednesday (if Caleb is better) to assess our home before we put it on the market.  I can only weep inside.

Yes, these are the reasons I’m feeling a little blue, but alas, life goes on.  My baby is up from her nap, a little boy wants to watch more TV (Hey, he’s sick! I’ll give in), and my girl wants a snack.  A mommy has to deal and go on, right?  Writing is such good therapy!

Dear God, thank you for the grace and compassion you have for me every day.  I’m so thankful your supply doesn’t run out the way mine does.  Can you please send me some more to deal with my children and everything that will happen today? Thank you! Amen.

The Haircut

I debated whether or not to write this post.  I mean, what’s so interesting about a haircut?  But this event hasn’t left my mind since it happened three nights ago.  When a thought stays with me this long, I know either God is trying to tell me something, or I have another writing topic brewing.  Obviously, I decided I had a topic brewing.

For Christmas, one of the gifts from my mom was a set of kids’ hair clippers.  Initially, I was a little surprised.  I didn’t ask for hair clippers, and I wasn’t sure if she were insinuating something.  Yes, my son’s hair was covering his eyes and, frankly, was kind of a mess, but in a cool way, of course.  Once I decided how I should feel about this present, I made use of it (my mom assured me that she wasn’t insinuating anything.  She thought they would come in handy since I had a son and was always looking for ways to save money.).

After learning everything I needed to know about cutting hair from the ten minute video, I proceeded to give Caleb a trim; however, his hair was too long for the clippers.  I went straight for the scissors and did a decent job.

Feeling confident and anxious to try the clippers (I watched the video twice–I was an expert), I told Matt I should cut his hair.  He needed a haircut, anyway, and I would save us money.  He agreed.

So a few nights later after the kids were in bed and all the chores were finished, Matt sat down in a chair in the kitchen with a bright blue smock around his neck.  Matt proceeded to explain that he wanted a ‘fade’, and we discussed the strategy for cutting his hair.

I looked over the written directions for this particular style and contemplated whether or not I should put back in my instructional DVD.  After going over the plan with Matt a couple more times, we decided I was ready.  I let Matt adjust the guard setting and got to work.

As I moved the clippers up the back of his head and watched his hair fall to the floor, I was gripped with a sudden realization–I didn’t know how to cut hair.  I felt a twinge of panic as I looked at the clock that read 10:30.  If I messed up, Matt had no recourse.  He would have to go to work in the morning with whatever style I gave him.

Matt must have already dealt with this scenario in his mind because he did mention that if I messed up, he would completely buzz his head.  This option was not one that I was willing to accept.

An hour later, with some guidance from Matt (he grew a little weary of my apprehension and aggressively used the clippers on himself at one point), I finally achieved ‘the fade.’  We played with different guard settings, and I used the scissors to trim and blend until I was satisfied that I had achieved the look.  Or to put it more accurately, I cut until I was afraid to cut Matt’s hair any shorter.

I have to admit that I did a good job.  Matt’s hair looked normal, and I had reached a milestone in my life.  I could now give my family haircuts.

However, this pride was not the feeling that has stayed with me for the past three days.  Instead, gratitude has consumed me.  When I think of last Sunday night, I can’t help but remember one of the thoughts that entered my mind: “Matt and I are truly a married couple.”

Many times when I have said, “Well, you can tell we’re married,” I wasn’t paying Matt and me a compliment. We may have been snipping at each other at the time, or I was commenting on our lack of romance as we fell asleep on the couch for the seventh Friday in a row.  What I felt Sunday was different.

Here I was cutting my husband’s hair when I didn’t know how, yet Matt trusted me.  Or maybe he didn’t, but he was giving me the chance to try.  It was really strange, but I felt that we were sharing an intimate moment as I ran the clippers across his head.

I’m sure Matt will read this post and think that he has a crazy wife.  It was a haircut, not a religious experience, yet for me, it was more.  I felt comfort in our marriage and knew that we had moved beyond the early years when we were still trying to figure out how to live in this new union, still slightly embarrassed to make a mistake in front of the other person.

Let’s be honest–had we been just dating, this incident would not have occurred.  I have to have complete trust in a person in order to let him or her cut my hair.  In fact, I experience a case of nerves any time I try a new stylist, so I feel privileged that Matt let me experiment on him.  I, also, have to have complete trust in a person to willingly set myself up for failure.

The last three nights that Matt has come home I couldn’t help but look at his hair and smile.  I am grateful for a partner who is willing to let me fail, and on his own hair, no less, and I am blessed that we are “truly a married couple.”  Maybe God has been trying to talk to me after all….

And, no, Matt.  Even though we shared this intimate moment, you may not cut my hair next.

From Their Lips to My Short-term Memory

You may remember that a few months ago I wrote a post called “Forget the Baby Book” as a way to record and remember all of the precious gems that leave the mouths of my kids.  If you did remember, I am impressed.  I can’t remember my own kids’ names much less what you posted to your blog a few months ago.

You think I’m exaggerating?  Two weeks after Chloe was born someone at church asked me her name, and I couldn’t remember. I stumbled around, remembered that Elizabeth was her middle name, but was in a panic that her first name had escaped me.  I stalled by making a joke until I could remember her first name is Chloe.  I blame this lapse in memory on the fact that she was almost a full day old before we named her.  Also, I have discovered that with each baby I have pushed out I have also pushed out precious brain cells.

I digress.  I sat down at the computer today to add more delightful quotations to my on-going post called “Forget the Baby Book.”  I smiled to myself throughout the last few weeks as I would purposely concentrate on the sentences they had uttered so that I would not forget when I got the chance to sit at my computer and type.  So tonight was the big night.  I had a catalog in my mind of what I was going to type and the order, and, you guessed it–I sat down to type, and my mind went blank.  I never even smoked marijuana once, and I can’t remember a darn thing.

After a few minutes, some of the kids’ cuteness did come back to me, and I typed away furiously before those memories escaped me forever.  You can read their quotable lines here.  I’m sure when I’m in bed at three A.M. I’ll remember the rest.