Monday, November 30, 2009


Today was a great day in a lot of ways, though things went a little south after 3:00. Evan was fussy and very difficult to console, and I was pretty frazzled by the time I dragged myself to the mall in the pouring rain to pick up David's new suits for him before he leaves. As I dragged out the stroller, trying to keep Seth from getting soaked while putting him in, with Evan strapped in on my chest, and the wind blowing rain in all our faces, I took mental inventory.

My pack mule status was a little ridiculous. I couldn't even open the mall doors for myself, what with the umbrella and the stroller and the backpack and Evan and Seth. And I was wearing an outdated maternity shirt, jeans that were sagging on me that used to belong to Mom, no makeup, and slightly crooked glasses. I had two boys hanging on me and an armful of suits before I left. But now they are in bed, and I'm thinking of this story. Enjoy...

From the THE VELVETEEN RABBIT by Margery Williams...

"The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else.

For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it."What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit."Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Smile, all you beautiful, tired mommies out there. You are becoming "real."

Not-that-dried-out-potluck Macaroni and Cheese

Ahhh, back into the routine. And my fervent prayers yesterday were answered with a baby that slept WONDERFULLY last night. I know he must've hated sleeping in my parent's laundry room. =) Usually it takes him a few nights to get back into his good sleeping routine after we've been away, but God was gracious...

And since things have been going so well this morning, I decided to try a new recipe that Terri got from her friend, Beth. This is not potluck mac n' cheese where the cheese is all dry and it tastes mostly like noodles. Nope, this is very creamy and cheesy and EASY!

Beth's Oven Mac' N' Cheese

1 c. uncooked macaroni noodles (I used whole wheat)
1 1/2 T. flour
1 t. salt
generous dash of black pepper
1-2 T. butter (I used the canola oil and butter spread I keep in the fridge, and that was fine)
1 c. water
1 c. milk
1 c. cheese (sharp cheddar is wonderful)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 2 qt. casserole, and dump everything in it except the cheese. Stir, cover with foil or lid, and then bake for 45 min. Stir once halfway through so the macaroni won't stick. After times up, stir in cheese until melted. Put in the hot oven for a minute or two if it hasn't completely melted from stirring. That's it! It's just that easy.

I buy blocks of cheese, slice them all at one time, then wrap them in paper towels and put them in a plastic bag. I just pulled out some slices, broke them up some, and filled up the 1 c. measuring cup I'd used for everything else. Worked like a charm.

This isn't as cheap as a Kraft box mix, and its probably not as cheap as Annie's either, but it's a whole lot better and far more natural, and it reheats well. We eat a lot of mac n' cheese around here, so this recipe is great! It also doubles easily, and you just use the same 2 qt. dish. If anybody ever breaks down the cost, I'd definitely be curious, so please comment and let me know what you discovered.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

- We got back this afternoon from Thanksgiving at Mom and Dad's. It was a nutty, pleasant whirlwind. I loved it, and now I'm loving that its over. =) There were 4 children under the age of 4 there, and the activities included lots of eating, very little sleeping for everyone, and tons of hanging out and trying to keep the kids happy and entertained.

- I've decided that Family Picture Day needs to be banned. It's quite stressful, and I personally do not think its worth the final product, especially with this many tiny kids. Inevitably, by the time everyone is dressed and ready to go, the whole morning is gone, and at least two of the kids are melting down. I do it because I love my mother, and it means a lot to her, and since she has made many sacrifices on my behalf, I will continue to do it. But I don't like it.

- By the time we'd left Mom and Dad's, the children had all been ranked by order of demandingness. We got the honor of having the outliers deemed Most Trouble and Least Trouble. Can you guess who got which honor? Doesn't take much guessing, does it? He also got the award for Least Likely to Sleep Longer At Night Than 3 Consecutive Hours. What has he won? Fistfuls of his mother's hair. Praying very, very hard that we get back into a good sleeping pattern... starting now.

- I think I've been starving my baby. I should've started him on baby food a month ago instead of a couple of weeks ago. He is finally eating oatmeal after rejecting rice cereal for a week. I'm going to put him on baby food at every feeding pretty quickly now that he's actually swallowing something. I looked at him this week and saw a tiny baby who's getting longer and not bigger around. Yes, he's developmentally on track, and he has no interest in a bottle of formula after he's nursed, but he's just sooo tiny. I'm a little worried about my milk supply, so we're shortening the feeding schedule again until he's eating more baby food and I feel better about things. I swear he burns up my milk like rocket fuel.

- Terri shared a great book with me called "A Praying Life." I think I'm going to get a copy soon, since I didn't get to finish it. It made me take a good hard look at my cynical attitude toward life and childlike prayer. He was brutally blunt about the reasons that we don't pray, and I loved that he put it right up front that one of the reasons that we don't pray is that we're tired of being disappointed when God doesn't answer... so we don't ask. Saves a lot of hurt feelings, right? Well, maybe, but it also keeps us from developing a close relationship. For more... go get the book. I think the author's name is Paul Miller.

- David is going away again this week, Tuesday through Friday. I will be doing a lot of praying for good attitudes and patience.... especially patience. And good sleeping. And patience again. And no disasters. And patience. You probably see a pattern emerging here.

- I just got a wonderful magnetic advent calendar. It's my big decorating splurge this Christmas, but I think its going to be worth it. You open each little box, and there's a magnetic part of the scene. One day a star, another day a shepherd, etc. I'm going to love doing this with the boys for years to come. I got the one from Kurt Adler on Amazon. It seems to be very sturdy and well made.

- And now I'm going to watch House Hunters. This is purely so I can feel morally superior to people who insist that their house must have pot lighting and granite countertops. =) Good night!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Last night out was just what I needed. I've known Sarah since we were 8, and sometimes it still surprises and delights me to realize that we're experiencing another phase of life together, just another of many. We laughed until we cried, and I stayed out longer than the 3 1/2 hours I have been stuck to since Evan was born. And he went to bed without that final feeding and slept, and slept, and slept. It was a lovely night in so many ways...

It's a blustery day in my neighborhood. We got out into the sunshine and wind and went to the local park. Seth is getting good at climbing all the little ladders on the play structures, and he's very proud of himself. He still loves to swing, and I still love to push him, Evan strapped snugly to my chest with my jacket zipped around him to keep his tiny hands warm...

And Sarah helped me figure out the answer to Evan's recent frustrating behavior. It's time for another schedule change. A light bulb went off while we were talking over Mexican, and I felt like such an idiot. This is when Seth went to a 4 hour schedule, too, and he also stopped napping well then. So, today, I pushed Evan's nap off for 30 min. longer than I usually do. Lo and behold, he's napping well, twice today already!

Seth helped me make potato soup while baby napped this morning. We had no tantrums and hitting like yesterday. All is right with my world. =)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here."

He replied, "You give them something to eat."

They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd." (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over." Luke 9: 10-17

Being a mommy is the hardest job I've ever had. The most rewarding... but definitely the hardest... I need constant wisdom that I don't have, and patience that I don't have. This job brings me to my knees faster than anything else could, I think. Today I've felt overwhelmed, thinking about Seth's tender heart and his recent interest in Jesus, and in my pathetic inability to show him the glory of Christ.

But part of my CBS study today was on Luke 8, the feedings of the 5,000. See, the disciples go to Jesus, and they tell him that the people need to leave and get food. And he says to them, "Why don't you get them something to eat?" Whoa, Nelly. See, now he's just placed a huge responsibility on their shoulders, one they can't possibly fulfill on their own. I understand the burden.

So they come up with a half baked solution, going to buy some food for all the thousands. Never mind that they have no money; they're trying to come up with something. They're probably feeling a little desperate. Been there, felt that.

Jesus then gives them something to do. It's something small, but it's a start. He asks them to seat the people in groups of 50. It's manageable, it's a first step, but they don't know what's going to happen next. They just go and do, and then they wait and see.

And then Jesus does the rest. He breaks the bread and fish, and he prays, and a miracle happens. He's doing the real heavy lifting, the only things that really make a difference. They just have to take the first step with him.

That's how I feel about raising my boys to love and serve Christ in the midst of the frustration and chaos and spiritual lukewarmness that I sometimes feel. I know my pitiful inability to raise them to love Christ. I know it all too well. I feel like he's asked me to make food out of thin air for a stadium full of hungry people.

But he just asks me to get started. Read the Bible stories. Sing the songs. Pray with Seth for patience and kindness and help when he's losing his temper. Just do it, even if your mind is on the mess you want to be cleaning up, even though it shouldn't be. And He'll do the real miracle.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

11:19 p.m.

Rough day. Rough last few days, actually.

Evan is not an easy baby. And he's started sleeping like a newborn again. He's up some nights 3-4 times, and its been a lot of nights for the last few weeks. Not really sure what to do about this, since Seth never did it. He's such a long, skinny thing that I don't want to deny him needed food if he's having a growth spurt or something. But that makes for a tired mommy.

Napping also isn't going well during the day right now. I might get an hour and 15 minutes out of him in one stretch... tops. And its not like he's super contented when he's awake. He wants to be held... or he'll cry. And since I get tired of listening to the crying, I give in and hold him. Sometimes I put him down for a nap, and he'll sleep, and sometimes I put him down, and he won't. No amount of letting him cry it out works if he's really in a mood... believe me, I've tried.

I'm worn thin today. I went from having 3-4 hours a day when I could get things done and hear myself think, unencumbered, to having about an hour each day. I was spoiled with just Seth. And I miss the time and the peace. I miss having time with just Seth to play and talk when I'm not trying to recover from being frazzled because of Evan's fussiness or listening for him to cry any moment.

And have I mentioned that, while Seth has peeing in the potty down cold, he will not poop in toilet? 'Nuf said.

This is me, venting. And hoping that tomorrow and the next day are a little easier. Sarah and I have a date with some Mexican food and no children tomorrow night, and I can't wait...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gratitude for...

... gurgling, babbling, flailing baby with his tiny hand on my arm...

...getting better at small talk and enjoying the work cocktail party last night...

... being able to wear jeans to the party, since we're out of the law firm world now...

... sleeping in this morning... clean, oiled kitchen cabinets that smell like lemons...

... suit pant picks lovingly repaired by my mom's skilled hands... clean showers and tubs...

... having ingredients for chicken curry on hand for tonight...

... David taking Seth walking while I got Evan to nap with me this morning...

... Seth's delight over one of my favorite childhood books on sharing...

... a husband's sacrificial love.... snuggles and giggles... sunshine after rainy days...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Typed with Evan on my lap...

A cozy, fall evening. Evan is gnawing a dark, wet spot on my sleeve and making spitting noises at the computer. Big brother is upstairs, sleeping off what I have finally decided is the most cheerful cold ever. Wish I was that happy when I'm sick.

This weekend was nice, but busy. Among all the little errands, household chores on my list just didn't get done. Last night, I tried to reconcile myself to that. Fortunately, it worked this time. =) Since we've had Evan, there is ALWAYS more to do than time to do it. And how did the laundry triple? Huh? Explain that to me! I used to be able to fold and put it away before the hampers were overflowing again, but not anymore.

Amidst it all, I'm feeling peaceful. Evan is now going down for at least an hour and a half in the mornings and has another one of those naps, usually two, in afternoon and early evening. I'm having more one on one time with Seth, and his cuteness just grows every day. His vocabulary is exploding, and so is his imagination. All of a sudden, I find that I have a little conversationalist. Today his play involved having his toy dinosaurs coming in and out of the house, climbing on the train table and then getting punished for it, etc., etc. It was sooo cute.

A friend who has twin toddlers asked me the other day who I was having over these days. The answer is... mostly nobody. We aren't having as many people over for dinner, and we're not doing small group once a week anymore. (Everyone had another baby, and it fizzled in the ensuing chaos.) But I don't feel a loss. We're busier than ever, and we're making each other top priority right now. With David's recent job busyness and Evan's changing schedule, it's been a good time to circle the wagons and I'm ok with not feeling up to doing a lot of entertaining. If we want to see friends these days, we call and offer to bring ice cream and waffle cones over for an hour of conversation before kids go to bed. That's our speed these days.

And today I did a little bit here and a little bit here. That's how you tackle a mountain of chores. Just one rock at a time. At least I didn't let the pile of rubble intimidate me into procrastination, like usual.

Oh, and I'm not sure if I mentioned it in this space, but the "potty train" came to our house. Seth was asking to learn, so we got started. (He's 2 and 9 months now.) We used "Toilet Training In One Day." He taught the doll how to go potty, and then he learned himself. He had the idea in one day, and he did go in the potty. But the few days after were definitely a lot more... wet. Now he's been going consistently in the potty for more than a week. We've had a few days go by with NO accidents, and that's huge. He's still using the training potty and emptying it himself, and pooping in the potty isn't quite as consistent, but we're on the right track for sure. He's telling me spontaneously when he thinks he needs to go, so that's pretty thrilling. Diapers for naps and at night until I can see that he can stay dry, but that's ok. I'm proud of him. This ended up not being as huge of a deal as I thought it might be.

Ok, now time to sign off and cut up the potatoes for roasted potatoes. We're having that and leftover pork chops tonight.... Mmmm.

Oh yes, and if you live in the Raleigh area, I didn't realize this until yesterday, but Noodles and Company is now at Cameron Village. I am sooo excited. I LOVED that place when we lived in Arlington. I've got to go sometime this week, and then I'm going to harass them to put one around the corner from me so I can go there every week. =)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Heal the Wound...

First, go here, and get this playing.....

This morning, I realized that God has now put someone unexpected in my life that I can help with the pain of infertility. I want to protect her privacy, but let's just say that there aren't many opportunities in the circles that I run in in our large church to meet someone struggling with trying to have their first child. (If you're a young married couple with a couple of small kids at our church, that's who you tend to know and spend time with primarily.) God, however, had other plans for me and for her. And I feel honored.

Despite all the ways I fail Him all the time, He hasn't given up on me. He's showing me ways that He wants me to reach out and share the compassion and hard fought healing that I've received from Him. I'm not too damaged to be a blessing for Him. Don't we all need to hear that sometimes?

This morning in the service, our high school girls' group sang this song. I hadn't heard it before, but I teared up when I did. I feel like I will carry the scars of infertility for many years to come, but I can turn that scar into a testimony of how far God has taken me, and the many things that He's shown me along the way.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Rockin' roller coaster...

Oh. My. Goodness. We were at a birthday party this morning, and they had this in their sloped backyard. It was AWESOME! Seth rode it over and over again, and he kept pushing it back up the hill every time. Great exercise. There are little grooves for the back wheels at the top, so it doesn't slide down as they're climbing on. Kids as old as 5 and 6 were riding it. I think I know what Evan is asking for for his birthday this year. =) Or maybe Seth. =) Or maybe I won't be able to resist and one of them will get an early birthday present. We have a sloping backyard with nothing in it, so this would be great. Oh, and its by Step 2. You should see the coaster for bigger kids. I think it would frighten Seth out of his mind, but maybe in a few years. =)

I cleaned up at a yard sale this morning. It feels like such a blessing to me. Basically, I decorate my house almost completely with yard sale or thrift store finds. I don't really care if things don't match or go together, and my current mantra is "If I wouldn't have it in my house exactly the way it is, I ain't buyin' it." (Though I may have a spray painting party with Terri over Thanksgiving.)

So at this one yard sale, I got: 5 oriental red rugs and hall runners, a green hall table, a kid's plastic step stool, a Lands End brown and black diaper backpack, a spring wreath, 3 picture frames, a Bob the Builder playset, 2 large soft plastic dinasours, several board and picture books, a basket, a wonderful easel with chalk and dry erase boards, and boy's sandals.... all for $15. I put out the rugs in the hallway and set the table in the hall and added some candles and flowers. It makes the hall look really... finished and nice. Pictures to come probably...

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I did all my Bible study for the week yesterday. True confession. =) But I did half during the day and half about 11:30 p.m. last night, while I waited for my pumpkin cranberry bread to cool enough to put on the orange glaze. (Yes, I'm holiday baking already.) But... it was a big whammy to the conscience all at once.

This week's lesson was on Luke 8, and there are several parables included there, like the parable of the sower and the seed. There are many times in my life where I feel like I'm the seed that fell on shallow ground who withered when hard times came because she had no root. When I see how much my faith took a hit by the hard time of infertility, I know how shallow it really was and is. And I feel that. Too often.

One of our cross references in the study this week was Matthew 25, the Parable of the Talents. Go here to read it. Got it? Good. One thing that both of these parables have in common is that they highlight the fact that we're supposed to do something with what God has given to us, grow a crop, invest in the kingdom of God, etc. And... if we don't invest, what we have will be taken from us. That's a big kick in the pants.

See, I can think of some things that I don't have anymore because I stopped investing in them. I took piano lessons for 6 years, but I've barely played for more than 10 years. I didn't use my talent, and I essentially lost it. I stumble and bumble all over the keys now. It's pathetic. So I see what God is saying when he says what he's given will be taken from me if I don't use it. But it still stinks.

See, sometimes, I'm like that worthless, lazy servant. I say to God, "Hey, God, you're a hard man." That's what the servant called him. What I think he's saying is, "Hey, God, I don't like you very much. I'm afraid of you, but I don't really want to do what you say because I'm ticked at you. So, since I'm afraid of screwing up, and I don't like you right now, I'm not going to do anything much." And God's response isn't too encouraging. As the servant might have predicted, he gets angry and throws him into the darkness.

So where does that leave me, a person with puny faith trying hard not to be angry at God sometimes because of the things He doesn't explain to me? It leaves me feeling like I'd better exercise my talents, or else, and also like maybe, if I did use the talents that He gave me a little better, maybe I wouldn't be so confused, frustrated, and angry sometimes. Maybe I would have more faith through the working out. Maybe, just maybe, I'd produce a much better crop. But I sure hate having my soil tilled to make it take seed better.

Last night, after I did my week's lesson, I played around on the computer, looking at blogs. And I stumbled across this. Bingo. A way to use the talents God has given to me, though I don't know why some days. I may have a puny amount of faith, and I may get angry sometimes, but I do still believe. I have to. And here are people asking questions, and I could answer them in my pj's from my own computer screen. Is it a coincidence that I ran across this right after that big kick in the patootie? I don't know. Maybe I'm the last person someone asking questions about God needs to hear from. I've got plenty of my own. But maybe this would help me remember all those verses I memorized years ago, help me remember why I believed it all in the first place, remember when my faith felt newer and fresher and more exciting... I don't know. Please pray for me that I will do this if its what God wants to me, and that I'll pass it by if it isn't.

Because I am God's field. What will I yield?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Custom shirt on the cheap...

This is my first attempt for DIY day at A Soft Place to Land. I've really enjoyed checking out the great projects, so I thought I'd dip my big toe in the water now. =) I have a 5-month-old, and I'm trying to lose baby weight. That means that a) very few of my clothes fit and b) I don't want to spend a lot on them right now. Enter the frugal customized shirt.

Here's how you do it. Go to Walmart and buy a shirt for $6. Count yourself lucky that it's not tummy hugging. Do a little cheer, and then go to the craft section and get a couple of colors of embroidery thread for $0.25 a piece. Pick up a cheap embroidery hoop and some needles if you need them. Straight pins are a good idea, too.

Take it all home, and get busy. Take various sized cans out of your pantry, trace around them on printer paper, and then cut out. Pin the circles on your shirt, playing around with the design. (You can see how I've done it above.) Then put your little hoop around each circle, and embroider around it. I used what is essentially a basting stitch because I'm lazy. =) It took me about an hour to do the whole thing.

I wore it to MOPs, and nobody could tell this was a DIY job. Pair it with some dark jeans, boots, and a scarf, and you've got style!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Our Halloween...

Last year, we didn't do anything on Halloween weekend... other than move all our belongings from one house to another. =) Yep, this weekend was the first anniversary of being in our new house. It seems like just yesterday that we moved in... until I think about all that has happened in my heart and life since we signed the contract.

This year, we decided to check out the harvest festival at church. Seth was a lion, and Evan was a 5-month-old punk rocker. I had originally planned for him to wear his baby bear winter outfit, but the high of 82 that day nixxed those plans. So I put him in a belly shirt that said "Party in my crib- 2 a.m.," striped pants, gave him a baby mohawk with gel, and put a cross earring on one tiny lobe with eyeliner. He was a Christian punk rocker after all. Ahem.

I have mixed feelings about Halloween. I don't want Seth and Evan to be involved in anything that glorifies death and evil. I don't want them celebrating blood and gore and guts. My family didn't do anything for Halloween when I was little, so this is new territory for me. But David's family did do some non-scary Halloween stuff, and he has much less mixed feelings about it. So, we went to the harvest carnival, and then we went trick or treating in the neighborhood.

I didn't live in a neighborhood growing up, so I'm still learning that dynamic, too. But walking around and knocking on the neighbor's doors, knowing they would be glad to see us, was a nice idea. Lots of lights were on, and there were plenty of glowing pumpkins on porches. Older neighbors that I'd never seen out before were on their front porches. And I didn't see any scary costumes. It was all little kids out in our neighborhood. And I realized something definitely good about Halloween. Unfortunately, there aren't many times in our American communities when people come out of their houses and welcome each other warmly. This is one of those few times, and I'm glad I didn't miss out on it. I don't know how we'll handle scary Halloween as the kids get older. That's still unexplored territory, but we found a way to do it that I can be comfortable with for now.

I sure would hate to miss out on the cute costumes entirely. And then there's the candy for Seth. He got to collect it, and we get to eat it. =)