Monday, November 26, 2012

The Ups and Downs of the Holidays

Tuesday evening, we drove to Utah to visit my in-laws as soon as my husband got off work.  Imagine my surprise when we arrived (after driving 6 hours) and my father-in-law was sick.  As a dog. Stomach Bug.  It obviously wasn't food poisoning, thus some sort of highly communicable death plague, I'm sure.

Wednesday morning, we dropped our car off to check out the transmission, since the last time we were at the shop for an oil change they said we had some leakage, but their shop wasn't equipped to work on transmissions.  Then, we took the kids to the park:

Afterwards, my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and I decided to drive to Ikea for Christmas shopping and fun, since we figured we'd be too busy to venture out the rest of the weekend.

First, we got a call letting us know our car repairs would cost us at least $1,800.  Then, on the way back, my mother-in-law got violently ill in her minivan...the stomach plague, er, flu, had spread.  The thing about this stomach plague was, unlike most stomach bugs, it doesn't just last 24 hours.  A person might only be vomiting for 24 hours, but they aren't able to eat real food for at least a week (my father-in-law got sick Monday night, but as of Sunday afternoon when we left, was still on a mostly banana, applesauce, and yogurt diet).  So, into her room my mother-in-law went, for the next 36 hours, pretty much.

Thanksgiving morning, my sister-in-law and I decided to soldier on.  It was Thanksgiving after all, and even though we were both a little sick to our stomachs from being in a car with a puking person, we were going to make it happen.  We did the math, figured out how much time the turkey would take, and decided to cook the pies first.

And this happened:

I guess, unbeknownst to me, the brisket which was cooked a day prior to my arrival had leaked all over the oven floor, and then caught fire when I tried to bake my pies.  Oops.

By the time the oven cooled down and we got the mess cleaned up, it was too late to put in the ginormous turkey and expect to have it done in time for dinner that night.  So, we had brisket for dinner on Thanksgiving.  I'd have been disappointed, except that it was phenomenal, and my mother-in-law and father-in-law were still so sick they wouldn't have been able to enjoy a real turkey dinner any more than the brisket.

Thursday night, my sister-in-law and I also had a very successful (and fun) Black Friday shopping extravaganza, so all-in-all, things had picked up.

Friday, I was still worrying about the fact that my car was going to explode on the drive home, or something.  I was actually pretty worried, and trying to decide if it was worth it to fix all the damage and hope for the best, or just move on.  Cam and I had been talking about buying a minivan for over a year, so Friday, when my in-laws felt better, we left the kids with them and went to test drive some vehicles.  We didn't intend to buy that day, just see what we liked in person, though I knew, on paper, I wanted a used Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna.

Long story short, this happened:

It was the most expensive Black Friday I could've imagined, but I don't have an ounce of buyers remorse.

Saturday, we got to enjoy a turkey with all the trimmings, and open up Christmas presents.

Sunday, we drove home.

People have told me for years that travelling with kids is so much easier with a minivan.  I thought it was a gross exaggeration, but I don't think that anymore.  It was by far the most pleasant trip home I could've imagined.  So, I think we can say, overall, it wound up being a great holiday weekend!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Why Do We Do What We Do (Did I Say Do-Do)?

I read something today written by a friend.  She really poured her heart out about, well, life in general, and it was pretty heartbreaking because I understood exactly where she was coming from. If you're not an introvert, you probably don't understand this, but we introverts "recharge by being alone." That's what she said, but it's totally true. It's not a matter of not loving our kids and our husbands, because we totally do, it's just that while we need "quality time" with our families as a whole, or just our husbands, or just our friends, sometimes we just need alone time. The problem with being a mom is: it's hard to get alone time. We don't even get to go to the bathroom by ourselves (please tell me eventually this will change).

For the most part we don't really set a time aside for being alone, partially because most of us don't even realize we need it, and partially because we feel guilty that we don't want to spend every waking second staring at our kids.  Our lack of a real break causes us to feel overwhelmed and eventually shut down, so we try to steal a "few minutes" here and there by being on Facebook or Pinterest or whatever and end up wasting a bunch of time, but that makes us feel guiltier.  Eventually we just break down to the detriment of our husbands and children, just like my friend described (though I don't know if she wastes a bunch of time doing nothing in a bad attempt to get alone time like I do).

I was discussing this phenomena of "alone time" with another friend today, and she said, "The worst is when you're a Christian mom and you are told you have to have a 'morning quiet time' to be a good Christian....when did we decide we had to do it this way?  It's not like it's a Biblical mandate to be alone in your closet first thing in the morning."  Sure, sure, morning seems like a good idea, there's a lot of people and blogs out there telling me why I'll be more productive and happy and the household will run smoother if I wake up at 4:30am so that I can get a half hour of quiet time before my kids wake up.  Uh, no.  I am not a morning person.  Waking up at 4:30am means a half hour of staring blankly at my coffee cup, trying to make sense of the words in my Bible which seem to fade in and out, and literally panicking when I hear the creak from the bedroom upstairs indicating that my son has crawled out of bed 15 minutes early, thereby decreasing my "quiet time" from a half to a quarter hour.  No thank you, been there, done that, terrible idea.  I'm glad that it works for some people, but just because it works for some people doesn't mean it works for me....speaking of things I need to have grace for myself about.

I think that's one of the biggest ways Satan keeps us from doing stuff is by convincing us we aren't doing it the right way, so we might as well not do it at all.  That's why I wasn't reading my Bible, somehow I bought into the lie that if I wasn't focusing (which, as you know, is hard to do either half asleep or with two kids running around) it wasn't worth doing at all.  And everyone knows you can't pray unless you have at least 30 kid-free quiet minutes to groan in travail.  Haha.  Right.  But, in the back of my head, I really think that, so I just skip it so much of the time.

We think, "well, I can't wake up at 4:30am to get a few minutes without the kids, so I might as well skip it.  I can't get in my prayer closet without a toddler trying to drive cars over my feet, so I might as well skip it.  I can't read my Bible because I can't really focus on it and write deep notes and highlight passages, because the last time I tried little Susie drew scribbles on John 2, so I might as well skip it."  We don't get the things we need because we can't figure out a way to do it the "right way."

I think we just need to throw out the "right way" and do it whatever way we can.  If that means reading our Bible in the living room while our kids watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (sans highlighter), so be it.  If that means locking myself in my bedroom with a book while the husband watches the kids, even if it's Saturday evening and we should be spending it as a family, so be it.  Who says what the "right way" should be anyway?

P.S.  I don't know about you guys, but most of my reluctance to leave my kids with my husband isn't because he's upset about it, it's because I feel guilty that I need time away from them.  Guilt just isn't a good reason to do or not do anything, especially if I'm the only one that cares.  I know this isn't applicable to all of you, extroverts or single parents or people whose husbands are extroverts so they aren't as understanding about "alone time" as mine is.  I'm just sharing what's applicable to me.  And the reality is, my husband cares less about me needing alone time than about me randomly freaking out because I'm totally overwhelmed because I haven't had a second without someone demanding my attention in weeks.  In fact, he even understands it, but since he gets solitary time at work he doesn't have fall-apart moments like I do.

P.P.S.  Preschool starting has helped me so much recently, that three hours, four days a week feels God sent.  Suddenly, it was like I could breathe again...and I didn't even realize I had been holding my breath.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Preschool Update

For those of you keeping up with our Preschool drama, here's an update!  We actually had our first Parent-Teacher Conference this week, and though the kids have only been in school about three weeks, their teachers touched base with me on the strengths and weaknesses they've seen thus far, and we discussed educational goals.

I really like both of their teachers.  They listen to what I have to say and actually seem to care about what I want the kids to learn.

Sam's teacher said that as he's getting more comfortable with the routine and everyone there, he's developing really quickly.  She said for only being there (then) two and a half weeks he's making really fast progress.  He's still obviously behind, but he can accept redirection and is starting to interact socially.

Jubee's teacher said pretty similar things about her, she even described Jubee as "mostly cooperative."  I asked if she was talking about a different Jubilee, because the Jubilee I know is never cooperative.  Haha.

I can already tell a difference in their level of communication at home.  They have a better vocabulary, and the words they do say are clearer.  In fact, we've even been able to have a conversation of sorts, a back and forth exchange of ideas.  That's never happened before, not until about a week ago.  I don't know if it's the higher level of communication or the fact that I get a break a few hours most days, but I can honestly say this is one of my favorite "phases" of their development.  Probably because they finally seem to be getting out of the baby "phase," which, for them, was a very, very long phase of me always having to guess what they wanted and needed.

I think, despite my initial panic, this preschool thing was for the best.  I'm feeling pretty good, and both of their teachers described them as being "happy" kids.

I was also a little worried about what they might pick up in school, but the worst thing Jubee's said so far is "suck it up," which I can be pretty certain came from me.  Uh-oh.

Our first non-traumatic family board game experience, c. yesterday

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sam's Prayer

Yesterday, at dinner, Sam asked if he could pray.  This is what he prayed:

"Jesus, (mumble mumble mumble) and Daddy and Mommy and Jubee, too.  (Mumble mumble), I love you, Amen."

That kid cracks me up.

Monday, November 5, 2012


I just realized that dinnertime at my house is an awful lot like dinnertime at Calvin's house.  Minus the tiger.

I guess the moral of the story is, I need to stop serving undead zombie brain mush for dinner.