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Letting Go

3 Aug

Whine: I’m feeling a little lost today. I have more to do than I am humanly capable of and I keep waiting for the movie-style montage where I just knock it all out, complete with a motivational soundtrack.

Cheese: I found some chocolate mini donuts and locked myself in my bedroom to eat them. Thank God for Hostess and Kwikset.

The sweet gum tree in our front yard is dead. Last year’s heat bonanza combined with some benign neglect on our part sealed its fate. Early this spring, a few optimistic tendrils ventured out from the middle of the branches, but by the time we returned from vacation, we knew it was time to do the humane thing and take it down.

So we’ve got a guy coming next week to do the deed. He came by the other day to make arrangements. Unfortunately, Big Sis caught wind of what was going down and immediately registered her displeasure. She spent the better part of an hour running through the stages of grief. Bargaining, blame, violent and random bursts of hysteria.

I sat and tried to talk her through it all. At one point, she looked at me and with a plaintive tone befitting an overacted made-for-tv movie, asked, “Mom, why is letting go so hard?”

The irony of the whole episode was that by the time the man comes to cut down the tree that stands in front of our house, we won’t even live here anymore.

Because we’re moving.


Today. Next week. In a few months. It’s complicated.

We’re moving into Kiki and Papa’s house this weekend, clearing all our stuff out next week and putting it in storage. Then Mr. Dad’s brother and his buddies will move in and we’ll look for a house and move in. Hopefully.

It seems cattywumpus and overwrought, but it’s actually a pretty good set up for us. We get to keep our house and the boys will pay us rent and we’ll take our time finding a house that will fit this three-ring circus a little better.

Except we are now at the stage of the game where I actually have to deal with the fact that it’s happening. Which means facing two things I really, really hate: packing and saying goodbye.

I’ve been cycling through my own stages of grief. Bargaining, blame, violent and random bursts of hysteria. (I wonder where she gets it from?) I got in my custom-made shower yesterday and couldn’t distinguish between the water and my tears, sobbing, “This will be the last shower I ever take in here.”

Mr. Dad is completely befuddled by the whole thing. He keeps trying to tell me that this is what we decided to do because it’s for the best and that everything is going to be just fine. Which is when I tell him that I KNOW that because this whole thing was my idea but it doesn’t stop me from crying hysterically through the (last) bedtime stories and goodnight kisses.

“They’re just feelings,” I tell him, “and they have to come out. ”

“Feelings?” he asks blankly.

It’s a good thing he’s so handsome.

So I got to thinking about why all these tears were ekeing out at odd and inopportune moments and I realized that the letting go thing isn’t so straightforward.

First, there’s the sadness of saying goodbye to the house where I brought all my babies home to. This house has been our only home as a family. And it’s hard to picture making new memories anywhere else.  Not to mention saying goodbye to my neighbor and her sweet little girl, who my kids love with the love of a celebrity stalker, waiting at the window for her car to pull up in the driveway.

Second, there’s the fear that this is the worst idea in the history of ideas. (Which is saying something since someone invented the Pajama Jean.) I mean, we love this little house. What if there’s no other house that we ever like and/or agree on? Or what if there is and it’s more than 1.2 miles away from our relatives? How will I ever borrow sugar/cake pans/spare ovens if we’re so far away?

Third, and this is where it gets really difficult, I found myself with a whole slew of regrets. All the dinner parties I didn’t host because my house was never clean. All the announcements from Brother Bear’s birth that I just found, addressed and sealed but not mailed. All the times I let the kids’ brains turn to jelly in front of the tv instead of making more memories because I was just overwhelmed by it all.

And I think that not having a new house to visualize is actually good. Because instead of projecting a “better, more productive, more organized future” onto a new space, I have to come to terms with the reality of the life I’ve lived in this house the last nine years. Let’s just say that most of it wouldn’t be featured on Pinterest.

So what is the measure of my house the last nine years? Is it my junky medicine cabinet filled with expired Baby Tylenol? (The contents of which conveniently just got relocated to a sink full of water today by Brother Bear.) Is it the closet full of unfinished craft projects? Is it nine years of constantly battling my raging disorganization and pack of occasionally-feral children who couldn’t find a dresser drawer if their lives depended on it?

It is. Because that was part of our life.  We played here. We made gigantic disastrous messes here. We came up with some of our worst ideas here. We lived here.

And I hope that in the process of moving and unpacking (and my kids getting older and less destructive) that we find our ways of living  to be more conducive to civilized company. But I also know that wherever we go, I want our house to be lived in, loved in, wrestled and tickled in, created it, fought in, read in, and been together-ed in. And so I guess I’m not too worried, because if they’re going with me, I think we’ll be fine.

Kitchen Floor Campout

Tension Headache

18 Aug

Whine: My shower and I had an altercation yesterday. I’ve got a pair of goose eggs and a big ol’ scrape on my forehead to show for it.

Cheese: You should see the other guy.

Well now my head hurts and the only 60 minutes of the last 10,080 that I’ve had alone I spent scraping my dizzy and crying self off the floor of my shower. Go ahead and laugh, I know you’re going to.  It IS a little funny.

After I called and scared the you-know-what out of Mr. Dad “Hey honey, I’m home alone and I blacked out in the shower and hit my head and I’m bleeding [sob] but don’t worry about me I’ll be ok [sniff] I pulled myself together. OK, fine, I called My Mommy, too. But then after she came and kissed it and made it all better, I was really, really mad. I wasted all my kid-free time icing my stupid lumpy head.

I was really mad about those precious 60 minutes because I don’t have any to spare. I love having my kids at home with me all day every day for summer vacation even though I still have to work at an actual job that does not have a summer vacation. It’s very hard to plan lessons and stamp out playdoh at the same time. Not impossible, but difficult. And messy.  So can you see my problem?

That’s good. Because my vision is still a little blurry.

I’ve spent the summer negotiating, bargaining and just plain making-it-work. I’m working at home, working at night, working while small people are climbing on me like a jungle gym. I’m not sure this was what my boss had in mind when she said I could work Flextime.

But we also went camping yesterday. We pitched our tent between the foot of my bed and the dresser and waited for the bear attack to come. It did eventually come, but it was a very polite if not somewhat distracted, bear, followed by a bear cub who just wanted to tackle everybody on the floor. Then we caught and fried up some fish for snack–our stream spawns the orange whole wheat kind. I cooled off with some refreshing water from my sippy canteen.

Then I slipped away from camp to a place where there was good cell reception (South Living Room) and made a few calls. I had just enough time to shoot off a few important emails before they found me and dragged me back to the woods.

And that has been my summer in a nutshell. Play, work, lock myself in the bathroom, repeat. One minute I’m racing my kids around the house inside my suitcase and laughing my head off, thinking I’m a pretty fun mom with really fun kids and hoping summer will never end. The next minute I’m breathing into a paper bag because I have about ten deadlines and the stacks of unwashed dishes are  mocking me from the kitchen counter and there’s no space or alone time in sight and school doesn’t start for another three weeks how in the blue blazes am I going to survive three more weeks????

And when that day finally arrives and I ship Brother Bear off to his first day of preschool don’t you think I am going to feel really sad and have second thoughts because he’s so fun and just a little guy, after all? And when Lil’ Sis run straight into her classroom with her friends and forgets to kiss me goodbye, don’t you know that I’m going to be imagining that this is how it’ll be more and more every year until it’s college and she won’t need me at all?? And when I walk Big Sis in that door and I suddenly realize that I am sending my baby to kindergarten, don’t you think I am going to ABSOLUTELY FREAK THE HECK OUT AND POSSIBLY MAKE A SCENE IN FRONT OF ALL THE OTHER PARENTS?

Then I will wipe off my splotchy face, pull myself together and head to the first staff meeting in months where none of the agenda involves turning on Veggie Tales or distributing animal crackers. (Although my boss does get cranky around snack time. Oops, that’s me, not her.) I’ll sit at my desk and complete actual tasks without too much juvenile interruption.  And then I’ll feel really, really guilty because for the first time in a long time I’ll feel like the non-Mommy version of myself. And I’ll like it.

But then I’ll pick them up and see their faces and hear their stories and squeeze them as hard as I can and be really glad they’re home. Until tomorrow.

This whole I’m-a-mom-and-also-still-a-person thing is a real pain. When I’m not 100% mom 100% of the time I feel guilty. When I’m not getting my work done the way I want when I want, I feel guilty. When I’m sitting on the couch watching DVR and sipping a glass of red wine, I feel guilty (but a very relaxed guilty.)

It’s a hard balancing act. One that requires dedication and flexibility. Skill and grace. Whine and Cheese. No wonder I have a headache.

Gratuitous, Part 2

27 Apr

Whine: There has to be a way to get through Target without Brother Bear alerting every pitying grandma and bewildered stockboy that I am violating his 8th Amendment rights. Because half-an-hour (ok, maybe it was an hour) in Target is the cruelest form of punishment.

Cheese: By the time he had hollered his way through the store with me carrying him and pushing the cart and spilling out my whole purse in the checkout line, one of the managers came over and said “Hon, you’re gonna need a carryout.” and called a handy little teenage boy over to shove all my groceries into the front seat of my car (although there was only frozen food this time, so I was left to weigh the pros and cons of eating the taquito still frozen.)

gra·tu·itous  \grə-ˈtü-ə-təs, -ˈtyü-\

2 a : given unearned or without recompense b : not involving a return benefit, compensation, or consideration c : costing nothing : free

No cheese was harmed in the making of this photo. Right.

As far as baby gifts go (and I’ve gotten my fair share in the last five years), I’ve come to realize that nothing says “Welcome, Baby” quite like a cheese plate and a bottle of wine. A plate filled with hand-selected cheeses, just for me, I mean, Brother Bear. For a coupon clipper like me, a cheese plate feels sinfully extravagant. Each piece tastes a little bit like guilt as it smoothly melts into my mouth and I wash it down with a sparkling sheraz.

This last month has felt a little bit like a never-ending cheese plate. Wonderful. Decadent. Embarassing. 

Every few days the doorbell would ring and someone would be standing there holding grilled chicken fajitas or sesame beef and broccoli or homemade mac and cheese still hot and bubbly from the oven. There would usually be a salad, with the tiny grape tomatoes sliced in half. Who has time to wash tiny tomatoes, let alone slice them in half?? And the brownies, we could talk all day about the brownies. And the cookies. And the pound cake. 

As I would let each day’s fairy foodmother in to drop off her bounty, she would step over the wet towels in the entryway and the laundry baskets in the living room and would shove the open chip bags aside to find counterspace for the feast she had prepared for my family, I was struck with a sense of guilt. These people have lives. Kids, babies, full-time jobs, papers to grade and/or to write, much more urget things to do than make sure each and every enchilada has enough cheese (and yes, they sure did!). Yet here they are serving my family.

It’s hard to accept help. To know that if it weren’t for some blessed woman making chicken parmesan amidst ankle-biters tearing apart her living room, my family would be eating a frozen pizza, again. Heated up if I was feeling generous. It’s hard because when I let someone help me, I feel like maybe if I had it all together I wouldn’t need to inconvenience them with my ravenous appetite.

So mixed in with the immense gratitude and the deliciously full belly and the relief that tonight’s dinner does NOT involve pepperoni, there’s a dollop of guilt, with just a pinch of shame. I shouldn’t need their help. I should be able to do this alone. But the truth is, I do need help and I can’t do it alone.

Presents keep showing up at my house, too. Books and magazines to read while I nurse the baby. Tiny little shoe-socks. Diapers galore. And money, too, because apparently people who have had babies realize these things ain’t cheap and feel sorry for me. The tooth fairy even stopped by one day with this, which is not baby related but very useful:

Cheaper than a root canal. Trust me.

This is my third baby. I don’t expect anyone else to be as excited as I am. I don’t expect anyone to help me. I don’t expect presents, although I do really like them. So all this hoop-lah has been fantastic and refreshing and appreciated, but I’m not quite sure what to do with it because I didn’t earn it. I get the uneasy feeling that I don’t deserve any of this.

And I don’t. Not because I’m a bad person and I’m unworthy (although I’ve got record high score at “I’m not worthy” the arcade game), but because true love and compassion and friendship don’t come because I deserve it. That would put me in the driver’s seat, always trying to earn more, always looking for my next handout of kindness. And deserving everything I get would rob me of this small little feeling that bubbles up from inside every now and again, this little tiny part of me that feels thankful instead of embarrassed or indebted.

After blessing upon blessing, help and handouts and electric toothbrushes, I’ve found myself heading to a new place. A place of gratitude. I’m pretty sure the friend who brought the king ranch chicken would rather me serve it with a pinch of gratefulness than a side of self-loathing.

So since this is my blog and I haven’t quite managed to write a single thank-you note yet, I want to say a very big THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR EVERYTHING. And not just for the dinners and presents. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog or for calling me repeatedly until I answer or forcing me to go to the park and even just reading this blog, because getting one more reader might be the most productive thing I do in a day. Thank you for being excited about Brother Bear, and fighting over who gets to hold him (even if you do live a thousand miles away) although he mostly just sleeps and eats and hollers in public. I can say this honestly, the last five weeks have been better because of you.

The Beauty of Baby Steps

18 Mar

Whine: I got puked on last night. I’ll spare you the chunky details.

Cheese: I got to snuggle a puny-feeling Lil’ Sis for an hour. Which is 59 1/2 more minutes than I usually get her to be still and on my lap. The price we pay for love, right?

I admit that Google Calendar has changed my life. I put all my important dates into it and it sends me a handy email reminder. Things like birthdays and credit card payments don’t sneak up on me quite as often anymore. So pretty much I’m in love and would run off to Tahiti with it in a heartbeat.

Except not so much yesterday. Because Google Calendar apparently does not know that under no circumstances do you ever, ever email a big ol’ pregnant lady to remind her that it’s her due date. Unless you want to die a slow and painful death. It’s a good thing I’m not an intrepid hacker/virus-designer or Google Calendar would have rued the day. Rued the day, I tell you.

And so we’re still here waiting for this kid to arrive. Every week when I go see my doctor, she measures various not-suitable-for-internet-reading things. And after a week of aches and pains and lots of not sleeping, I’ve progressed another centimeter. A measly centimeter.

But then I got to thinking about centimeters and the fact that when you’re in my condition, you only really have to get to ten. I know, I find the math versus the reality of a human baby very disconcerting, and I’ve already done this twice. But in the end, if you’re lucky, ten is your magic number. And very often you don’t go from 1 to 10 in just a few hours. (Although Lil’ Sis did her darndest to set a record — 5 centimeters in less than an hour. I don’t recommend it. Did I mention the two epidurals I had with her??)

No, most often you change a centimeter at a time. And then I thought about how babies grow from teeny tiny cells. One centimeter at a time. And how, like labor, I’m pretty glad they don’t start out at 9 1/2 pounds from the beginning. Imagine lugging that around for 40 (or 41, if you’re really lucky) weeks.  And even once they come out they change in minuscule little increments. Because how would we delicate Mommies stand it if they were in 0-3 month onesies one day and 2T the next? It’s hard enough to pack up the outgrown baby clothes after they’ve had a few months to wear and stain and get pictures taken in them. What if they just went to bed one night little and snuggly and woke up the next morning grown? It would be too much to bear. And a little creepy.

But still, it’s hard to wait for those exciting baby milestones. Giving birth, witnessing first steps (or second, because they always save the first ones for when you’re gone, don’t they?), or going to the park without anyone wetting their pants. Or other, non-baby but equally exciting ones. Paying that last student loan payment,  losing that pesky baby weight, or after five months getting your DIY project of a master bathroom back.

I’m tempted to look at my situation, especially my body and think that nothing is happening. I will be pregnant forever. FOREVER. I’m convinced that I will be the first woman in history to carry a baby in utero for 41 years. Although I could milk the pity I get from waddling around with a belly this big for quite a while. I mean, if I had to.

But deep down I know that change is inevitable and it’s happening right now whether I see it or not. In fact, if I knew how much was changing both in my body and in my kiddos right now, I’d probably freak out.  I bet Big Sis is secretly learning Chinese and Lil’ Sis is training for a triathlon this summer.

There’s beauty in the baby steps. Agonizing, heart(or back)breaking beauty, but beauty nonetheless. The longer I wait and the harder I work on those baby steps, the more I can appreciate that final moment of arrival. The moment I hold that little guy I’ve been growing  and talking to and carrying around without having to strap into a car seat for 10 months will be one of the best of my life, I know it. 

But in the meantime I can slow down a little bit (mostly because I can barely walk anymore) and snuggle my kids as they try to find space on my lap. I can eat one (or two, or three) more spicy meals without having to get up to nurse/rock/change an impatient baby. I can admire the hard work this body of mine is doing, whether I see it or not.

In the end, I’m grateful for the baby steps. For time to let the anticipation build, and to be really proud of finishing something that wasn’t easy. And for time to stop and smell the roses (or Johnson & Johnsons shampoo) on the way. But mostly I’m glad for baby steps because I’m pretty sure that if I had the option to take big giant steps through things I would, and as big of a baby as I am, I’m pretty sure it would kill me.

For some other people’s (much deeper) thoughts on beauty, click the button below and follow the rabbit trail. Enjoy.


The Sisterhood of Wearing No Pants

26 Feb

Whine: I went from a deep, dreamy sleep to being jolted wide awake in an instant this morning. I’d forgotten all about the joys of pregnancy charlie horses. I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to move my leg, as it had decided to freeze itself mid-spasm, right at the peak of the pain.

Cheese: Thankfully, Mr. Dad wakes up a lot less crabby and a lot more coherent than I do and showed that charlie horse who’s boss.

In the weeks and days before the arrival of Lil’ Sis, there was much anticipation. Big Sis was excited to meet her new little sister. Excitement turned to awe when she met that squirmy little red-haired baby. But the awe quickly faded to disinterest when she realized that babies don’t do anything. I distinctly remember the disappointment in her voice one day when she said, “(Audible sigh) She’s asleep, again??”

But the disinterest turned into irritation the minute Lil’ Sis got mobile. Her only objective, it seemed, was to be in Big Sis’ space and destroy whatever it was she was building. I spent the better part of a year encouraging one sister to acknowledge the other’s existence and schooling the other on the concept of personal space.

And then one day, it happened.

I looked over from my perch on the couch to see them playing. In the same vicinity. Almost together. I held my breath, afraid that any sudden movement on my part would break the spell and I would be back to officiating another round of NO! That’s My Most Valued Piece of Carpet Fuzz and You Can’t Have It!

As the days and weeks passed, I noticed more and more of this erratic, illogical behavior. Instead of 100% fighting, 0% cooperation, they had moved on to 99.9% fighting and 0.1% cooperation. I was ecstatic.

You can imagine my shock this morning to walk into the bathroom and see two kids with no pants on. At first I was truly alarmed. But once my heart rate slowed, I realized that Big Sis had not only used the bathroom herself, but had assisted Lil’ Sis in removing her Pull-Up and using the potty chair. AND THEN she was emptying the potty chair and rinsing it out without making a mess. Talk about heart failure.

In that moment, I saw family. Big Sis doing what big sisters are made to do and lending her Lil’ Sis a hand. Teaching her the ways of the potty. Being kind and gentle and encouraging without having a glaring mother forcing her to do so.

Just a few minutes later, Big Sis had been banished to timeout for refusing to share her toys and for yelling at her sister. Incidentally, as I was trying to explain to her why she had been disciplined, she turned around on the chair and mooned me. I suppose Big Sis should have been a child of the 70s, using civil disobedience (and nudity) to fight The Man. Well, I am The Man. With difficulty, I suppressed my grin and swatted that bare little bottom. (FGTKY anyone?)

So Big Sis sat in timeout, sulking and pondering the injustice of having to share her toys. And what do you know? Lil’ Sis wandered over and started offering toys. The next thing I know, they were snuggling in the chair together playing and chatting like best buds. 

In that moment, I saw grace. Even though Lil’ Sis had just moments earlier been the victim of Big Sis’ maniacal tirade, she has a short memory for that sort of thing. And in the end, she likes her Big Sis so much, she’s willing to put up with some ugly parts to get to the good stuff. Stuff like jumping on the furniture together, making a two-headed ghost out of what is supposed to be fabric for the baby’s quilt, and, most importantly, ganging up on Mommy.

Moments like these give me hope that my girls will grow up and be friends. Not just the kind of friends who share jeans (although noone around here seems to like wearing pants, so that may be a non-issue) and lip gloss, but the kind of friends who hang out on the porch swing and talk, just because they want to. The kind who jump in and lend a hand when their sister needs help. And who have short memories for petty arguments and bring peace offerings to heal the wounds of battle.

Speaking of battles, I’d better go. I think the now one-headed ghost is terrorizing her other half, who is running for her life.

Proof of the 0.1%.

I Feel Your Pain

8 Jan

Whine: My psychic dream was partly true. At my actual dr. appointment, I did gain my fair share of weight this month. Enough, in fact, to put me at 30 weeks where I ended up last time at 41 weeks and shortly after gave birth to a nine and a half pound baby. I’m pretty sure the one in there is not weighing in at nine and a half pounds yet. So I’m probably carrying a nine and a half pound food baby along with my three pound actual baby.

Cheese: I ended up on the bottom of a kiddie dog-pile yesterday. All three of my kids managed to land on top of (ok, one of them was inside of) my belly. Guess it’s a good thing I have all that extra padding. Although the padding was not as helpful when I tried to get up. I writhed around like a topsy-tury turtle until Big Sis stopped laughing at me long enough to lend me a hand.

As much as I hate to admit it, I need other people. As much as I’d prefer to say that I can handle my life by myself, anyone who has read this blog knows that I wouldn’t make it very long without someone stepping in and lending me a hand. In fact, I’m pretty sure most of you wonder how I make it through a day unsupervised, what with all the getting stuck climbing in windows and lost with no cell phone in strange towns in the middle of the night and accidentally lighting things on fire (that’s a story for another time.)

The long and the short of it is that in my life I have been on the receiving end of millions of acts of compassion, both teeny tiny, almost unnoticeable ones, and blow-your-mind, over-the-top generous one. Compassion is a funny word. When you see my sorry, pathetic state and feel sorry for me (after you stop laughing)- -that’s not compassion. That’s pity. And that’s ok. But when you see my sorry, pathetic state, feel sorry for me (after you stop laughing) and feel so moved as to lend me a hand- -that’s compassion.

Like the time when I went to Subway to order some dinner after a hard day at work (that was before I had my own children and knew what “a hard day at work” could really mean) and the friendly sandwich artist kindly asked me how my day was. To which I replied “Horrible.” and burst into tears. There was something about the genuine way in which he asked the question, the first touch of humanity I’d experienced that day, that undid me. And then he was so gracious as I sobbed/ordered my sandwich, handing me the highly-coveted Subway napkins (have you ever noticed how stingy they are with those things??) to dry my tears, and nodding as I tried to explain my awkward outburst.

Or the time my freshman year of college when I was happily sleeping my way well into morning after a long night of studying, and my sweet grandpa-aged German professor called me on the phone to remind that the final I had been studying for was, in fact, happening right then. To which I loudly swore, in English, it was only German 101 after all, and began throwing clothes on and running out the door. Oh yes, I almost slept through one of my first college finals. Had it not been for sweet, compassionate Herr Ziefle, that A- in German would have almost certainly been a much different letter.

Or the time when the man in the mall parking lot changed my tire because I was obviously out of my league. Or when some anonymous person gave me a large check because things were not going so well for me financially. Or when a friend sent a bag of peanut m&ms and a case of diet coke, just because I was having a hard time.

But sometimes, as much as we might feel someone’s pain, there’s not a lot we can do. Like when I’ve decided that instead of a woman I’ve transformed into a hippopotamus (ok, that was yesterday.) No one can make those pounds disappear for me, right? But a good friend might feel my pain and tell me that she, too, turned into a hippopotamus once upon a time and that her life didn’t end. In fact, she might say that she managed to lose all the weight after all, and that I, in fact, do NOT look like a hippopotamus.

Kind words can go a long way. I remember agonizing over a relationship with a friend, always feeling like the biggest loser (and not in the NBC primetime kinda way) and worrying about my potential for being perpetually annoying. Another friend had the kindness to say to me, “Well, Sarah, it’s not a sin to be annoying.”  which made me giggle, and is actually quite true. She may have also mentioned that she personally didn’t find me annoying, and that helped, too.

A few years ago, I was freaking out over my (lack of) health insurance coverage. I sent out an SOS email to a few close friends, detailing my woes. Amazingly, none of them had an extra $5 grand lying around to send me. And none of them had a cousin named Tony who could go up to the insurance company and break some knees. But each and every one of the emailed back that day with a hilarious response, most of which are not appropriate for mass internet publication. Let’s just say in one of the emails I received this picture. It’s a long story as to why, but in short, it made me feel better.

I try to be a compassionate person. I’m not likely to be the one changing your tire or writing a huge check. I’m more likely to show my compassion through a homemade raspberry-fudge torte or an aptly-timed Hallmark card. I’m probably not going to show up pull you out of a window or give you directions (with my sense of direction, that would just be mean). I’ve got to stick with what I have to offer, with who I am.

I’m reading a new book right now, called Simple Compassion. In each chapter the author (a Wheaton grad!) details a different aspect of compassion. And the first chapter, oddly enough, is about the power of a well-timed word. At the end of the chapter, she challenges her readers to spend the week looking for an opportunity to show compassion by simply saying something. Something encouraging, something challenging, something loving. 

So now I’m challenging you, my awesome readers, with your own personality and circle of influence, to feel someone’s pain this week and take a minute (or two, or three) each week out of your hectic January to think about how you can make a difference to them. And if you’re really, really brave, I’d love to hear your stories! Leave them in the comments or email me at alittlewhineandcheese AT

If you’re curious about this Compassion Challenge, which is going on all over the internet with the release of the book, check out some of the other sites below.

Admissions of a Suburban Philosopher
Be Your Best Mom
Bell Whistle Moon
Blog Tour Spot
Book Nook Club
Carlybird’s Home
Deus E Fiel
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
i don’t believe in grammar
J’s Spot
Lighthouse Academy
Mary’s World
Musings by Lynn
Paper Bridges
Ponderings by Andrea
Real Women Scrap
Scraps and Snippets
The 160-acre Woods
The Prairie Maid
The Unadorned Book Review
The View From Here
Word Up Studies
Writer for a Reader

Since You Don’t Have a Baby Book. . .

10 Mar

Whine: Been fighting a major case of the Weepies all day. (see below)

Cheese: A year ago today (at exactly this moment, in fact) Lil’ Sis (finally) made her long-awaited (and long-overdue) entrance into our world and our hearts.


SPOILER ALERT: This post may make you cry. Especially if you are a Mommy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


I have to admit, I’m using you guys. It’s true. While you folks at home are sitting there thinking that I blog for your entertainment, I’m sitting here thinking that maybe if I blog enough of what’s going on, it’ll ease the tidal wave of guilt I feel over neglecting my children’s baby books. At least Big Sis has something written in hers besides her name. I’m not even sure I’ve written Lil’ Sis’ name in hers. 

So this little blog is my place to keep track of which kid did which thing when so that some day when they ask me those all-important questions like “what was my second-favorite toy when I was thirteen months old?” I can possibly throw together an answer with at least a kernel of truth in it. I have a deep-seated fear that one day they will all end up in therapy because I didn’t remember/write down/scrapbook enough of their childhoods for them.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I’m probably not doing this for them. At least not mostly. I’m doing this for me. I need to chronicle every little hysterically-funny thing they said. I need to desperately hold onto ever picture of every outfit and every glance and gesture. I need, in some form or fashion, to commemorate what this rite of motherhood is doing to me. To my heart.

It’s breaking it.

They make you love them so much you think you might actually just implode from all the sweetness. But then in a moment, they’ve changed. And each change brings a new side to this little person, this little part of you, that you never knew before. And you’re so happy to celebrate the milestones: the smiles, the coos, the walking, the talking, the throwing food onto the floor seventeen times in a row. But you kinda miss the old stuff from yesterday, too, even the spit up and long nights and washing mashed peas out of hair, again. And all the new stuff just serves to remind you that you don’t get to keep them after all. That if you do your job well, they leave. So forgive me if today I’m just a little bit melancholy, my baby just turned one. (Does Hallmark make cards for that?)


For Lil’ Sis on your first birthday:

I love that “passive” labor with you took 10 hours and “active” labor took 45 mintues and TWO epidurals.

I love that when you were born, you were the biggest baby in the maternity ward that night. (9 lbs 8 oz; 22.5″) and my OB congratulated me on the birth of my “third grader” and had to flip the end of the bassinet down in order to stretch you out and measure you. 

I love that you look exactly like your Daddy.

I love how for the last twelve months, you’ve been content to ride around on my hip in a sling (even when we went bowling.) 

I love that you lunge out of my arms in a fit of squeals and giggles when you see your Big Sis.

I love your sideways grin and that you say “cheese” for the camera.

I love the way your red-hair curls just a little in the back (especially when Big Sis styles it with a little bit of Elmer’s).

I love that you attack me with kisses when I least expect it.

I love that your first word was “bath” and that you will crawl to the tub from any room in the house upon hearing the word. 

I love reading books, singing songs, taking walks, feeding ducks, playing chase, and having snuggles with you.

I love to see how God designed you. The way you look and think, the things you like and don’t like, the person you already are all show me a little side of him I had never known before.

I love to see how you are growing and changing into who you are and will be.

Thank you, Lil’ Sis, for coming into my life and turning it upside down. I love you.


Chloe's First Day

Sideways Cheese