one christmas

Recently me and Shaun took advantage of the fact that we were paying for childcare over the 2 week Christmas break whether we were using it or not.
The kids went to school.
We went to a movie.
Movies are very rare these days. Well at least ones with out talking cars or robots.

We saw 4 Christmases with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon.
Mainly because there weren't very many good options at the time ( it was before all the Christmas day releases.) We wanted something light and short and funny. Besides we like all those dysfunctional family Christmas movies.....like the "Family Stone", "Dan in Real Life" and the mother of them all "Home for the Holidays". In case you haven't seen the movie...let me give you a brief synapsis. The main characters have plans to spend Christmas on a beach somewhere, but their flight is canceled. They are busted and end up committing to spending Christmas with their families. All 4 of them. Both of them have divorced parents and they spend the day hopping from one dysfunctional family to another.

We split holidays between our parents. They do not live close enough to try and do both. My family is in BCS, Shaun's is in Pampa. There is at least 9-10 hour drive between the two. This year Thanksgiving was with my family, so we spent our Christmas in Pampa.
It was just the 7 of us. Us, Shaun's parents and his sister. We didn't leave the house all day. I stayed in pjs until late afternoon. O only took his off, to put on a clean pair before bed.
There was a knock on the door around 7 pm, just as we got into a round of Apples to Apples (great game by the way!). It was Shaun's cousins who live nearby. They were inbetween Christmases. The seemed exhausted as we dealed them in and served them up a bowl of cobbler. His cell phone kept buzzing while we played our game...co-ordinating even more Christmas events. They are newlyweds still trying to appease all sides of the family and step families. They asked about the rest of our Christmas plans and we said this was it. It then clicked in their heads that both sets of our parents were still married, and they reminded us how lucky we were. Thanks mom and dads.

Earlier that day I called my house to wish everyone a merry christmas. They were about to sit down to a big crazy meal ( and my dad is an amazing chef). My family Christmas is always a zoo ( with 8 gradkids)....and many more showing up. The table usually fills out with well over 20. I missed the crazy, the cooking and the wine. Being passed around on the phone isn't quite the same.
But I wouldn't trade it for my quiet Christmas on the couch.
Rest.
good food.
dragging O kicking and screaming into the living room ( he was afraid of Santa).
not wearing make up.
board games.
a nap.
just one Christmas to revel in and remember Christ.
rather than trying to squeeze in 2. or even 4.

Christmas letter

I love going to my mailbox this time of year. Usually it is only filled with junkmail and bills. This month it is filled with friends. Their faces and letters make me smile.
The Christmas letter has always baffled me a bit. I love reading them and getting to catch up on people's lives. But I have never quite known what to see.
Most of these letters seem a bit too polished. I don't mean grammatically.......more like some of the stuff of life has been left out. One of my good friends has always joked about writing a REAL Christmas letter. Starting out with something like, " This year we filed for bankruptcy" or "we managed to stay married for another year" or "my son is failing half of his classes". Imagine the response those would get!
So I will attempt a REAL letter. Some of the highlights as well as some of the lows. My tendency is to be super wordy.....but I'll do my best to keep it to a reasonable length.

When I reflect on the year...my first thoughts are of our newest addition. Tess. Or according to Owen, Owen's Tess. Our year began in January with 2 suprising pink lines ( a positive pregnancy test). Yes we were going to start trying for baby #2... but were aiming for late Spring. Tess apparently was impatient even before conception. Owen had mixed emotions about having a sibling and mom-to-be threw up a lot. In the doctor's office sometime in May, the sonographer announced that it was a girl ( or maybe a boy, well...probably a girl). Owen threw himself on the floor and shouted "no baby sister". Despite his initial reluctance she warmed on him ... even before her arrival. A few weeks before she was born, Owen decorated my belly with Star Wars stickers ( dozens of them). Just the other day, he told me Tess could be Princess Lea. Owen loves his sister and is always asking to hold her. So far he has only dropped her on her head once.

Tess arrived on September 25 and has taught me that me and Shaun are not the parents we thought we were. Owen was pretty easy. We kind of knew that, but mostly we thought we were just really good at it. He slept through the night early and was so content because of things we had done. Tess blew that theory out of the water. We could tell even at the hospital. Don't get me wrong, she isn't extra difficult. She is probably normal. But normal is really hard. She hates to be set down and is already very opinionated. She is creeping up on 3 months and still isn't even thinking about sleeping through the night. But she smiles big and coos cutely and smells so good, and I kind of savor holding her all the time.

Owen is 3 learning new stuff every day. He's got his letters, numbers, colors, shapes and all that preschool-y stuff down. He has mastered the tricycle and even knows a little Spanish. He also has learned a few new words such as shit, damnit and the latest new phrase "what the hell?". Not only does he look and sound exactly like his dad but he has also developed his dad's love for Star Wars and legos.

We took 2 great vacations this year. One to Colorado where the fishing stank, but the bears abounded. While we were there we made the trek to the Great Sand Dunes. These were amazing. While driving up we saw a few cute dunes with large towering brown mountains behind. Driving a little closer we realized that the large brown mountains were actually the dunes. We were amazed and dazzled, until we got out of the car and were sandblasted beyond recognition. I was cleaning sand out of my teeth for weeks. We also hit the beach with my family. Owen played with his cousins and ran and out of the waves until he was silly. Dad suffered from second degree burns. Not only did we travel to the mountains and the beach but we also made many trips to the ER...one involving a 2night stay and another ending with a few staples in Owen's head.

In addition to our trips (and Tess) some of the other highlights of the year were: Owen watching ( and re-enacting) the Olympics, many summer days at the pool ( even if I did have to wear a maternity bathing suit), some good weekends at the lake, watching Owen with his sister and if you asked Shaun he would throw in the Texas Tech 10-1 season.
The lows would have to include the great flea infestation of June, ending our every-other week cleaning service, the plumbing incident that costs us a few grand and split our driveway down the middle, my November paycheck of 4$ ( teacher maternity leave stinks) and once again if you asked Shaun the Tech - OU game.

Overall it was a good year. A new baby, a new tattoo and we recently re-enstated the cleaning service. We hope the new year brings in lots of needed rest, that I can fit into my skinny jeans again and to go an entire week with out one of my kiddos getting sick. So I wish anyone reading those same things. A healthy and restful new year ( in skinny jeans).

free to conspire

maybe some of you have noticed that i have taken a break from blogging for a while. a month.
an entire month has gone by since my last post.
i didn't even take that much time off after delivering a baby.
my absense has not been due to lack of material.
i have plenty.
not even necessarily lack of time.
although it is in short supply these days.
i just haven't.
i have been decorating cookies, and looking at christmas lights, not sleeping and occasionally grading papers.
it is probably the attempted balance of 2 and going back to work and sick babies.
...but.....
instead of trying to do more this Christmas, i have tried to do less. buy less presents. send out less christmas cards.
only slightly less. it still isn't like me to skip a party. but things like blogging, laundry and pictures with santa have been put on the back burner.
time just passed. email went unchecked and the dished piled up in the sink( ok...the dishes part isn't so abnormal for my house).
maternity leave has left my paychecks seriously lacking ( last month's check was 4$) so the gifting had to be seriously trimmed. I have also had this icky too much feeling lately. I look around my room and see so many clothes ( all on the floor). I look around my livnig room and see so many toys. How much more do we really need?
And then I watched this video:


I can't say that it has been my inspiration for slowing down and spending less. My motives weren't quite as pure ( lack of sleep and money). But this is it. This is the better picture of Christmas than the one I can find at the mall.....or even my beloved Target.

Tess month 2 stats



2 month appointment today. Apparenlty if you are 10 minutes late they really will reschedule you.
10 lbs 12 oz.
23.25 inches
and super cranky after those 4 shots.

The Great Thanksgiving

I was raised in (and recently returned to) the Methodist church. Methodists celebrate communion on the first Sunday of every month with an “open table”. I have always loved communion. When I was small it was primarily for the grape juice. I heart grape juice and my parents had an official ban on all red liquids in our house until I graduated college ( I kid you not!). Later of course, I started to understand that communion is a precious holy thing and is to be endeared for much more than the forbidden delicious beverages served.

The church I grew up in had a very traditional service. Every first Sunday after a slightly abbreviated sermon we would turn our hymnals to the back. The parts where the preacher would read his part and the rest of us would read the boldface sections outloud in attempted unison. The communion liturgy we read every week was entitled “ The Great Thanksgiving”. For years, I wondered what the connection was between bread and grape juice and Thanksgiving. They sure weren’t handing out turkeys up there. I was a pretty clever girl ( and still am) so I thought I had it figured it out at the ripe age of six. I assumed that communion was the first Thanksgiving. I’d seen that picture of the last supper. I wasn’t really sure where Pilgrims, funny hats and buckle shoes factored in……but that was a minor detail. Kid logic is funny.(Kind of like how Owen thought Indiana Jones was somehow related to Pilgrims and Indians that partook in the first Thanksgiving dinner and was disappointed ot learn that Mr. Jones would not be attending ours.) All it took was a few social studies lessons to throw a wrench in my explanation.

Apparently the section in my hymnal entitled “The Great Thanksgiving” and turkey and stuffing dinners aren’t really related.

But maybe I had it right back when I was four. What could we be more thankful for than what Christ did on the Cross. And what we remember at the altar.
"Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.Do this in remembrance of me."

The Great Thanksgiving: http://www.revneal.org/communionlit1.html

alternative uses by Owen











We have toys strewn across the house. Toys that light up, or make noise, or build things. All kinds. Some of them expensive.




Of course.........O just wants to play with random stuff like boxes or paper bags but this one was new for me.




If you can't tell it is a breast sheild ( the business end of a breast pump).




Apparently O thought it made a better megaphone for his one man parade.




Let them Eat Fruitcake


Consider this a commercial break. Blog tour book review take 2.


Melody Carlson's Let them Eat Fruitcake


Are you having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit? You know, well before Thanksgiving. This year they didn't even wait until Halloween to start putting up all the Christmas goodies. If you don't want to break out the tree just yet or start addressing Christmas cards.......you can start with this fun light read.

The basic premise: Four twenty-something girls sharing a house between the timeframe of Thanksgiving to Christmas. Each have their own mishaps, doubts and/or disfunctions.


The good: Maybe I am just in the Christmas spirit.....but I mostly have good things to say. It was light and fun because who has time to read anything serious during the holidays. It reads really fast and is perfect for any holiday travel....if you have a car/plane ride ahead of you. Assuming you are not the one driving, although I did catch myself reading it redlights (yes, I am that girl!). Each of the girls is a bit of mess ranging from way out there to the girl who seems to have it together but doesn't. It makes you feel a bit better about your own family dysfunction (assuming you have it....like the rest of us). I think this book is the second in a series.....but it made perfect sense without the first. It is also manages to be "Christian fiction" without too much cheese factor.


The bad: It is chick lit so if you are looking for some serious life changing reading you won't get it here. Occasionally predictable with slightly too tidy endings......well 3 out of the 4 at least.


The contest: Not that I have have heard of anyone actual eating fruitcake but...........if you leave a commnet on this post (or any other blog review of the book) you will be entered into to a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to the Collin Street Bakery. The Collin Street Bakery is world-famous for its - you guessed it - fruitcake and will deliver your baked goods almost anywhere in the world.

Find more info at.......

the author's website:http://melodycarlson.com/


the other bloggers participating: http://www.blogtourspot.com/Carlson-blog-tour/Carlson-blog-tour-stops/ ( hint this is how you can increase your chances of winning!)

thanksgiving and the temple of doom

Today when I picked up O from school he was coloring a pilgrim. I tried to tell him some of the Thanksgiving story as we loaded him up in the car.
I gave him the gist about Pilgrims and Indians and the first Thanksgiving dinner. I thought he was getting it and told him that it was about to be Thanksgiving and that we would have our own feast.
He got all excited and said "Indiana Jones is coming to dinner!"
He was very disappointed to learn that Indiana Jones and Indians aren't quite the same thing or even slightly related. And that no actual Indians would be coming to dinner either, although I am a smidge Cherokee.

Note to self, ask Dad what kind of "cartoons" they have been watching.

severe weather warning

On Monday we had some nasty weather. There were even tornado warnings in some neighboring counties.
O's school decided to take the oppertunity to be extra safe and practice their tornado drill. So some brave 3 year old class teacher rounded up all her classmates into the bathroom and tried to explain the why.
When I picked O up that afternoon, he told me that we needed to hurry home.
the "Mato" was coming.
"tornado?" I asked.
"yes, mommy. The tomato is coming. The red tomato."
I cracked up as I rushed home to beat the storm, and kept an eye out for falling produce.

seeing the big picture

Yesterday me and Shaun got an early Christmas present. A new large flatscreen TV. It isn't quite as big as some of our friends...but it does dwarf our old one. Owen, in true male fashion, is in love with this piece of electronics that is as long as he is high. Everything, especially Diego, is better on the big screen.

This morning I checked my email and read one of those messages ( or comments) that just irks you. The kind you worry about and spend an hour working on your response. The kind that you make into a much bigger deal than it really is. The kind I spent a good portion of the day trying not to think about.......but still managed to take up alot of my thought time and energy on what is probably a non-issue.

So I am trying to take a cue from my new big TV. I am going to trying and think of the bigger picture. In the bigger picture this minor issue that is stressing me out really doesn't matter (much). It does make me aware of how quickly and easily we can get derailed. How much time we waste re-playing conversations or worrying about things we have little to no control over. Issues that don't mean much when I take real stock of what is important to me. Besides, if I am going to waste that kind of time.......I'd rather be watching McDreamy on the big screen.

the elephant in the room

......or donkey.
last night i stayed up listening to amazing speeches letting the newsanchors convince me i was watching something historic. shaun even almost voted.
oprah in tears was a little too much for me though.
maybe she was crying about the lack of good material for saturday night live now that election is over. kidding.
i jest. but i was moved. i was hopeful, and I didn't even stay awake long enough for obama's speach.
i knew this morning would leave a lot of texans unhappy. i have tried to brush off their comments for the last few months. most of them assumed i felt like they did.
i didn't.
i woke up to watch obama's speech on tivo.
then i stopped to fill up my car, and cringed to see a truck flying a giant confederate flag from the back with horrible things shoepolished on his windows.
i started to doubt that any progress has been made.

then breakfast with a friend who had some very passionate opinions a few days ago. i mentioned staying up late watching cnn but we ignored the elephant in the room.
i started to worry a little bit more about the unrest.
currently as i type i am listening to a news special on how gun sales have doubled overnight.
the people interviewed are trying to convey their great fear on not being able to buy assault weapons in the near future. now, that is a scary thought.

but then i got online to check my usual friends blogs.
they are addressing the donkey in the room.
with hope and unity and love.
so i applaud all the appeals at unity.

the bigger question isn't who you voted for yesterday.....but how you choose to live today, and tomorrow and the next.
check out this you tube video promoting Shane Claiborne's book Jesus for President. This book will completely change how you look at politics http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfLdVazh33E

A quote I love from a local pastor I respect..... http://akalt.wordpress.com/
"It is a king and a kingdom that have my vote. While I will vote in our current election, I will pray for our leaders, and I will strive to help bring change and hope to “the least of these” in our world - I will never place my ultimate hope in any flag or country or man."

My Monday by the numbers

7 games of solitare
2 games won.
63 pages read ( dave sedaris rocks)
2 hours of bad daytime tv ( bonnie hunt and crossing jordan)
8 phone calls telling me to vote
0 actual people on the other end.
3 number of times I was almost asleep only to be interupted by a phone call telling me to vote
25 percentage of my day spent with a child attached (literally)
2 number of times I was spit up on enough to warrant changing shirts
o times I actually changed shirts
3:36 time I put on clothes other than my pjs
6 level of bejeweled I made it to before Tess's cryings insisted on prematurely ending the game.
4 numbers of diapers changed before lunch
8 number of loads of laundry waiting to be done
1/2 number of loads actually done ( only half because it sat wet in the washer for 2 days before I finally transferred it to the dryer. Still haven't hung any of it up).
3 recipes I looked up online to make for dinner
13.84 the dollar amount of my dinner order at taco casa
5:36 time Shaun pulled up in the driveway.

Don't worry my Tuesday and Wednesday were slightly more productive and social. I even got dressed before lunch.

Halloween 08

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Dress Up

Owen just scooted out the door for the day dressed as spiderman. His school is having a halloween party......but I am not sure he was supposed to show up ALL day in costume. I also considered the fact that they are serving lasagna for lunch, and the outfit is a one-piecer making "potty time" a nightmare. I thought maybe just taking his costume to put on at party time would be a better idea. However, I could not convince my child of this.

Before leaving he asked me a question that has stuck with me ( well maybe because he asked it about a dozen times in a span of 5 minutes).
"Who are you going to be today mommy?"
First I tried responding with something easy......"Owen's mommy".
Apparently that was not exciting enough.
Then I tried to appeal to the superhero in him with "super woman".
Apparently they don't show that cartoon anymore so there is no such thing if you are 3.
I started to get desperate and told him I could be "Dora".
He considered this a bit longer before declining.
He finally agreed with an old classic......."a ghost". He looked around for a sheet.......but settled for a few "boos" before he was out the door for a day filled with future cavities.

I am still in my pjs and don't plan on dressing up as anything.........but it's not a bad question to ask yourself first thing in the morning.....and not just on halloween.
So, who are you going to be today?

evangelical campaigning

All this last minute campaigning is getting to me. It is the ugly kind with attack ads and robo-calls. When my phone rings, I think if this is another campaign call I will scream. Someone ( or usually just a recording) goes on about their candidate. If it is a real person they end with the same question, " Can we count on your support?". The first (and only) question and chance for interaction in this conversation. Usually I have hung up by then.
I think we can learn a few lessons about how to express our faith....from politics.
1. cold calls don't work. pretty much stop handing out tracts and tell the bullhorn guy to shut up. People might care what you have to say if you just have a real conversation, not an agenda. Opinions, votes, ideals and even souls are changed in friendships and relationships NOT random phonecalls or signs in your front yard ( same goes for bumber stickers...)
2. getting nasty only turns people off. Nothing turns me off to a candidate more than a nasty campaign or attack ads. Same is true for judgemental Christians. We are all hypocrites....so I am not talking about that...but we should be expressing love not looking for faults.
3. not respecting the opposition. I have a few friends that I try REALLY hard to avoid politics with. Mainly becuase they can't seem to have a conversation without implying anyone who doesn't agree with their party lines or specific issue is an idiot. Even when I agree with this person I still try to avoid the topic. Others make statements like you can't be a Christian and a democrat ( or republican depending on who you ask). When conversations about politics (and religion) gets ugly it is because we act like anyone who doesn't think like us is wrong and ignorant. You don't have to agree with someone to treat them with respect and listen to what they have to say.
4. passion. This is a good thing. Alot of people are really passionate about their party right now. They want to talk about it ( even if it leads to some heated discussion). They want to convince you how great their guy ( or gal) is.......and lots of people are at least trying to make informed decisions ( although it is hard with all the nonsense out there). I get at least a half dozen phone calls a night and piles of junk mail about it. It litters the news and commercials. It sneaks it's way into most conversation. Why doesn't our faith infilitrate our lives in this capacity??

pictures from friends

These are from my friend Tina
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To see more great pics of Tess check out my friend rhonda's site www.snapshotsonlocation.com, click on view my session, login Tess, password pictures

ear plugs

I have a housekeeping secret that I am about to reveal. About 30 minutes before Shaun gets home I like to start a load of laundry and/or dishes. That way when he gets home it "sounds" like I have been domestically busy all day.... instead of just watching daytime tv and breastfeeding.
So yesterday while moving the wet clothes from the washing machine over to the dryer .....I notice a weird squishy object. Upon further investigation I discovered that they were earplugs. I thought it was a bit odd....but just figured Owen had been playing with them or occasionally Shaun has to wear them on site and maybe he left them in his pocket. Case closed.
Until about 4:45 am and my daughter is making crazy night noises so loud I can't sleep. ( really she sounds like a lawnmower.. it isn't even snoring more like perpetual grunting). By 5:15 am (still awake) I start to connect the dots ( all that daytime law and order) and suspect that my sweetly snoring husband might be smuggling these into bed. I start to wonder if I can find the ones I fished out of the dryer.....but only make it as far as the couch for a few more hours of my own slumber.
I could still hear her from the living room by the way!

10 more minutes

This morning, early, I could hear Tess waking up. I wasn't quite ready to start my day or provide breakfast. I remember thinking....just a few more minutes of good sleep. I reached over to the side table and attempted to hit snooze. I wasn't being funny. I meant it in that sleepy state. Turns out babies don't come with that button.

Mickey D's

My favorite restraunts include: Uncle Julios, Pirahana, Bonnells. O's favorite is easy and much cheaper. McDonalds. He could care less about the food...it is all about the toy inside the Happy Meal. He can spot the golden arches about a mile away. He thinks it is so great that there is even a song written about it. You know, "Old McDonald". Last time we drove past Owen said he wanted Old McDonalds. I laughed, and asked him if Old McDonald had a farm. He replied, matter of factly, "no he had french fries".

sleep does the body good


This morning as my husband woke up around 6:30, I was just taking Tess into the other room for breakfast. He looks at me puzzled for a moment and asks if we slept somewhere else. I say no, and return with a puzzled look of my own. He responds, "but I slept".
We all got some much needed sleep at our house last night. Of course I was up for atleast an hour around 3 am, but that is nothing compared to the dozens of times we were up the night before. This is the first time in months ( yes I know she is only 3 weeks old, but I swear she was keeping me up long before her birthday!) that I have gotten 4.5 hours of continuous uninterrupted sleep. Who needs 8 hours. 4 feels amazing. We almost feel human. I just might shower before noon. Cross your fingers that this trend continues.
I think we will keep her after all.

costume party





We were invited to a big fun costume party last weekend. The party is always a bunch of fun and I was excited for Owen to go. He has been wearing his spiderman cosutme for weeks now already.
Me and Shaun were struggling to think of costumes. Until I stumbled upon a few wigs.
I was Hannah Montana and Shaun got the mullet wig and could go as Billy Ray. Owen thought we were hillarious. Most everyone else needed an explanation.
Tess was a skeleton......mainly b/c all the baby costumes seem so big and I refused to have her be a pumpkin.
The next night we had a Sunday School social. I told O we needed to get ready for the party and he got all excited and ran to get his spiderman outfit.....again. I took some serious explaining that not every party from now on required costumes. I tried to convince him to go as Peter Parker......It seemed to work and we got to leave the mask at home.

4 walls

I spent most of the last 36 hours enclosed in my room. On Saturday night me and Shaun had devised a plan that would give us almost 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep each. I was proud of the plan and eager to double my sleeping allotment. My shift started at around 2 am. If I went to bed at 8, after feeding Tess. Shaun could give her a small bottle when she woke up then bring her back to her bassinette in the bedroom. Around midnight, I woke up to Owen coughing. I didn't remember anyone giving him his asthma medicine and thought I'd give him a puff before going back to sleep ( I sitll had 2 more hours!). He immediately projecttile vomited all over the couch.
Shit.
We can not be sick.
102 degrees says we are.
So the 6 hour of sleep plan was thrown out the window and it was revised into divide and conquer.
Shaun got Owen ( and to clean up the icky mess) and I got Tess.
I closed my bedroom door and made it the germ free zone. Sort of. I probably got the easier end of the deal but by mid afternoon my 4 walls were closing in. I took Tess and we made our getaway to Borders. She must be allergic to public place because after our first step in the door she started screaming.
I purused slighlty faster than usual and checked out and headed back to my room.
Now not only do I have great big-dark-lack-of-sleep-circles under my eyes, but I am pretty sure I am getting bedsores.

real pants

On Thursday I put on real pants for the first time in months. No, I have not been running around pantless.....but I mean real pants. That zip and button and everything. No stretchy waisteline, no belly band and no draw strings.
No, I am not one of those girls who wore her skinny pants out of the hospital. My belly is still a bit jelly. I still have a sensative incision and actually haven't been brave enough to rip off all the steri-strips ( think of about 30 mini bandaids over c-section incision). But there are a few pairs of fat pants that I can fit into. Usually I would be all for pj or work out pants for all occasions ( something I never outgrew from college). Putting on real pants and blowdrying my hair are amazing feats these days and suddenly make me feel like a person again.
It's funny. There are these baby milestones coming up, like smiling and rollig over. All the magazines and websites give you expected dates for this to happen. I think there should be new mom milestones as well ( extra time added for repeat new moms). Here is my list:
1. Real pants - 2 weeks
2. Memorizing the daytime TV schedule - (2-3 weeks)
3. First meal out - (2-3 weeks)
4. First meal out you are able to enjoy without worrying about screaming or a warddrobe change ( 2-3 years)
5. A decent night's sleep - (2-3 years)

I could go on with my silly list....but am too tired.

Big Tex

I love the fair. Corn dogs and carnies and lemonade and rides and the foul smell of livestock. Shaun took Owen yesterday......and it was so hard for me not to go along. Owen was totally wiped out when he got home!

Click to play State Fair
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Introduction

On Monday night I ventured out for my Monday night bible study. I managed to read the right chapter and take a shower and was eager to get off the couch and away from daytime TV for a few hours.
Tess slept in someone else's arms the whole time. I tried to hide my yawns, and to be honest I missed most of the conversation. I may have read the chapter, but very little of it sunk in.
One thing that did hit was they started by doing introductions. But not the normal kind. Not Hi, I am ..........., I am a teacher, a mother, a friend, etc. No titles were allowed. We often describe ourselves based on titles. What we do, who we are to other people. But who are we when those are stripped away. Kind of like Job.
I liked the idea of the assignment. I like to write and figured as soon as I started typing some kind of profound answer would stream out.
But I am struggling to find any words.

I am a child of God. That is something that can't be stripped away. That is about all I can come up with. And quite possibly all that matters.

fair

Sometimes we want God to be fair.
We look around and see everyone else getting a break.
Lately I have been the girl getting the break. My life is good. I just had a baby girl with the right amount of fingers and toes. My husband is a big help. And in the middle of all this economic mess, both of us have stable jobs.
I have friends who always seem to be hit pretty hard. Marital stuff, job stuff, kid stuff, money stuff. All of it. All at once. And all the while things seem to be going so smoothly for everyone else around her. It has started to affect our friendship.
Some people would say, but you don't really know what is going on. People who seem to have it together -- usually don't. I won't pretend to have it together, but sometimes I wonder when the roles will be reversed.

God doesn't work that way. We don't really want him to. If he was fair, if we got what was coming to us......well we would all be in bad shape. Some of us get more, some of us less. Some of us experience trial after trial. Others seem to have it easy. God's main concern with what goes on in our life is how we respond. What we do with it. Do we cling to him? Do we help others if we have more or have been there before? Are we becoming more like him?

God isn't fair, but he is good.

family of four

Today we went out for the first time. All four of us. We filled up the car. It was weird to look in the back seat and see 2 car seats. Both filled. Both ours. The plan was to go to the store ( Owen wanted green juicy juicy...which I imagine he meant to be apple juicy juice). Owen wanted to go to the pet store ( otherwise known as the Mansfield zoo). Shaun wanted to run into Lowes and I was craving a meal out. 3 and a high chair.
We pulled into the parking lot. Shaun got O out, I slipped Tess into her sling and we made our way across the parking lot. I beamed at the ease of this. No big ass stroller to lug around. I could handle two after all. We wandered through the Halloween aisles picking out candy and contemplating costumes. Tess started to fall asleep and O, although he refused to ride in the cart, still stayed pretty much by our side. We headed to the baby section and I started to feel tired. Owen started to stray. And I was ready to go home even though we only had 2 items in our cart and none of the things we had come for. We found the juice boxes and turns out WalMart does not carry juicy juice. Tess still slept, but I was fading fast. I informed the boys that they needed to pick out there lunch here -- there would be no eating out today. We grabbed a few more snack items, I took Owen to look at the lobsters ( that is close to going to the pet store right?) while Shaun perused the frozed food section for his lunch. I had to choose between chasing Owen down or letting him push the cart (into people and things). I went with option B and apoligized along the way. We checked out. The entire outing had taken maybe 30 minutes but I was through for the day. We headed straight home. No Lowes, no pet store, and frozen pizza for lunch. 2 seems like alot even if one was asleep and at my hip the entire time. 3 and a high chair will have to wait.

breastfeeding nazis

They are out there in full force.
When you are pregnant people feel free to touch you, comment on how you are "carrying" or how wide your hips are. This is odd to me, but not nearly as odd as some of the comments you get after the baby gets here.
It starts when the lactation consultant walks into the room. The birthing/hospital experience is humiliating enough w/out some granola woman squishing my boobs, rubbing lotion on my nipples and showing me over and over how my newborns lips should be flush against my chest. She does all this with no concern as to how many people are in the room. She talks fast, I mostly just say yes. I know not to question or argue with this woman. What follows is about an hour long conversation about the merits and ease of breastfeeding with my mother-in-law. I disagree.
Every nurse and/or doctor seems to ask 2 questions before going any further. The first one is "When was your last bowel movement", and the second is "are you breastfeeding" or some slight variation. Both are questions I could do without.
On one of my first outings, someone commented that my shirt ( buttons down the top half) was perfect for breastfeeding, and you are breastfeeding aren't you. Then proceeded to tell me how great and easy it is.
So. Here it is. I am breastfeeding. I have shed my shirt in front of doctors, nurses, all family members, and a few friends. So far in only one public place.....but I am sure that number will increase soon. BUT, and this is a strong BUT.....you can't make me like it. Yes, I will use pacifiers. Yes, I will pump and let my husband give her a bottle. Yes, I will occasionally give her formula.
No it is not "easier". It sucks. It hurts. and it is kind of embarrassing. I did it for a little over 3 months with O and was so glad to have my body back. Happy with my small deflated chest. To not spray the mirror when I got out of the shower or leak or let down anytime I heard a baby cry. Owen thinks the breast pump is the funniest thing ever and I might agree if it weren't my body hooked up to it. Did I mention I hate milk. Milk is gross and I am not happy to be a producer of it. It stinks. Like sweaty socks. It really is just really fancy sweat anyways.
So for all you breast feeding nazis out there, back off. I will do it. This time for even longer. Not b/c of your persuading or pamphlets. I'd rather not talk about it or have you ask if my nipples are cracked. (yes). Don't shame me if I break out the formula or fully enjoy the process. It is good for the baby. Good for me. Did I mention it is free. And if I have to be awake in the middle of the night. It helps to have a cute little baby curled up in a ball on my shoulder after a feeding.

Who is Who?



Neither of my children have come out looking quite like I expected. Not like anyone expected. Owen had a full head of dark almost black hair. He looked like Shaun in almost every other way ( as long as you don't ask his mom).....but the hair totally threw us off. I was expecting blonde, or atleast light brown like mine.

Tess, was about 9 days early and a girl so I was expecting at least a pound smaller than Owen. This time I was prepared for the dark hair.....and was hoping for just as much as Owen. She came out bald on top. With lightish, and occasionally orangish looking hair. No eyebrows, no eyelashes and big full cheeks. She topped the scales over 8 lbs, and an once more than her big brother made his appearance at.
I couldn't place her. She had some aspects of her dad. My hands and feet......but I couldn't really tell who she looked like.

When I looked at Owen's first day pictures they look almost exactly alike.
I am amazed at how quickly they change. Not how fast they grow. That is expected, but how different they can become. The alsmot black hair turned blonde, almost white. The blue eyes turned deep brown. So now that she is here and we have gotten a good look and about a million pictures......I sitll wonder how she will become. Next month, Next year, Next decade.

The top picture is Tess.
Bottom picture is Owen.
Both on their first day.......

Tess Hospital Album

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The basics






Tess Harper
8 lbs 2 oz
20"
(thanks to my talented friends tina and rhonda for the pics!)

humiliating belly shots






One of my best friends is a photographer. A really good photographer. I usually take advantage of her services all the time. However, I won't let her anywhere near my belly. I have never been a fan of maternity pictures. I'm not saying that pregnancy is gross (well lots of it is) or pregnant people aren't beautiful. They can be. I am just not a fan. Some maternity pictures I have seen are really neat ( that is the best adjective I can come up with)....but what do you do with them? Really, I am not hanging those things in my house.
That being said. I do want to document (at least a little bit) the giantness of this belly I lug around every day. Especially since it should be partly gone in less than 36 hours :)
So here are some funny shots me and Owen took.

quantum mechanics

Since I am supposed to have a baby Thursday morning, Wednesday is my last day of work for about 8 weeks. I have been working really hard to get ready so that I don't have to "lesson plan" over my maternity leave. I got through the first 3-4 weeks with ease but hit a major bump with quantum mechanics. This isn't something most people get. I'm not even sure I really get it. A video or worksheets won't cut it. I wasted hours trying to figure out the best format for notes, practice, etc. Nothing seemed to make sense or like I could leave it with a sub. Electron configurations, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and orbital diagrams take lots of explanation and hand holding.
And then I remember something they told us way back in one of my education classes in college. I don't remember what class it was, or probably most of what I was taught. But I do remember the professor saying this: "80% or more of your students will learn the same amount with or without you." I don't remember if they were trying to take some of the pressure off of us babies or inspire us to seek out those 20% who need us.
But for right now it reminds me that most of them still probably won't get it even if I was there. That it doesn't matter. This has no little to no impact on their life. I can stop stressing.
It is not about me.
We do this as Christians. We think we have to ___________________________ to have significance, to "save" our friends, etc.
It isn't about us.
Sure God calls us to do His work, but we can not take any kind of credit for the results. We should still strive to do our best at work or be obediant. I think that is all God cares about. Not the end result. He is responsible for the full 100% of that.

politics

I start to wince whenever someone ones to bring up the coming election in group conversation.
Don't get me wrong. It is important. It should be discussed.
I just don't like it.
I don't always no where I stand.
This registered Republican is considering voting in the other direction. But truth be told, I haven't done my research. I'm still on the fence.
As always it seems there are no good options.
Do I go with certain moral issues? Do I go with what I think is best for the hope of the country? Or who will be best at foreign policy? Or who will be best for my bank account. Shaun's no voting philosophy is sounding better all the time ( don't lecture me in your comments.... I will vote)

Being a teacher makes you liberal even if you don't want to be. Reading Shane Claiborne doesn't leave you much choice.

But secretly I still harbor all these conservative things.
Me and Shaun are responsible. We have good health insurance. We are saving for our retirement. Part of me thinks I should be rewarded for this. Why should I have to pay for people who aren't responsible like me? Sure they of course should have some basic rights and services, but shouldn't they do something for them. Shouldn't mine be better.

And then I think about all those troubling parables Jesus told. He paid the workers who worked one hour the same as the ones who worked all day. He didn't care so much about fair. About responsible. About giving people what they were due. He loved.
The early church didn't care so much about 401Ks or portfolios or social security. They took care of each other. I'm not sure that concept is entirely democratic either. What the bible has to say about politics doesn't fit neatly into either party. It dabbles in the moral right, and lingers to the bleeding left.
I'm not even sure Jesus would vote.
You might argue with me and and say these things I am pondering are church issues not government ones. And to that I agree. Sort of. But only sort of.

Before I vote, I promise to do my research. But I will still squirm when the topic is brought up in large groups. When someone makes a snide comment. In either direction.

faces

I guess this post is probably a week after the fact.
But maybe it is more timely than i think.
A week is about as long as it takes for us to forget. For the next headline to take over.
About this exact time last week, I was making a run to WalMart for water, flashlights and peanut butter. Just in case we lost power.
A hurricane was heading our way, well it would be just a tropical storm by the time it got to DFW but still possibly strong enough to knock out the power for a little while. I also tried to fill up my car with gas before the gas prices went up too much.
Those closer to Galveston had a lot more prep work.
My brother. My friend Laura. My friend Julie.
This is Texas. Plenty of people we know live that way.

Friday night I went to hang out with some women from church. One of the women works at our mission center and was saying how rough it was to see them stream in all day. It isn't like watching Katrina on TV. That was half a day away. Houston is just down the interstate.

Saturday morning. Still no hurricane. Mainly because it was camped out over Houston and just dumping on them.
It could have been worse. My brother had power back on in almost 24 hours and will need a new roof. My parents in College Station lost their fence and a tree blew into my sister's house ( not through just against). My friend Laura won't have power for weeks.

Our version of the storm was pretty lame. A little rain. A little wind. We established that the power wasn't going out and hit the mall to buy some birthday presents before Tess gets here. Oddly the parking lot was packed.
O was crazy hyper and we thought maybe some time in the toddler play area would do him good. It was full of kids too. Many of their parents were on cell phones calling friends and relatives saying that they made it out of Houston. Were ok. Were having a hard time finding a hotel.
These people had faces. I could overhear their conversations. I wasn't watching them on TV. They were stranded. I wanted to do something but didn't. I didn't have any money or an extra room. So I just got in my car and went home slightly rattled.

Monday around lunch I started having contractions. Steady ones that took my breath away and made my back hurt. I taught my last block. Stayed late getting a few things ready just in case and finally made it home and hit the couch. Contractions kept coming.
I tried drinking water, laying down and eventually gave up. (these are the tricks that usually make my braxton hicks contractions go away). At about 5 minutes apart we took O next door and headed to the hospital.
We were the only ones in triage. The nurse did not think I was in labor but wanted to monitor my contractions for at least an hour and see what was happening. It was calm and quiet and all you could hear was the baby's heartbeat on the monitor and my quiet cussing through contractions.
And then in a frenzy a young hispanic women comes in. She is carrying twins and about to deliver them right there in triage. She is from Houston. Displaced and in labor times two. Already at a 10. The nurses rush around. Page doctors. Any doctor since hers is out of town. They try to keep her from pushing until she gets across the hall. Me and Shaun suddenly get quiet. She is alone and in the wrong city. Shaun goes out and slips some money in her mom's purse in the waiting room. She makes it across the hall and delivers two boys before my hour is ever up. She had a face, even if I never saw it through the hospital curtains. I definantly heard it. I heard her cries of pain. Her social security number. What she had for lunch and her fear. I do not know what she left behind. If she can go back yet. If she has power or not. But she is not some picture on TV or in the newspaper. Or even a phone call to a friend or relative. She was lying in the bed next to me.
Obviously, me and Shaun did not have a baby that night. After about an hour they gave me a shot and sent me home. The contractions stopped around midnight. But I did not stop thinking about the girl who had come in after me. Faces. Real faces make it hard to ignore tragedy. When they are crying next to you they are not so easily forgotten with the next headline.

race

I forget that race is still very much an issue.

I hate to be reminded.

Yesterday ( I teach highschool), our spirit "dress up" day was Hip Hop Day. As I walked into the school I thought how fun and original. Lots of students and even teachers participated. They were in their warmup up suits. Crooked hats. Big chains. Jerseys. Big pants. Adiadas. And of course shades. I wanted to bust out with some Run DMC as I walked down the hall. And then I got to first period. It only took a few minutes for me to notice some major tension. Mainly it was the white kids who dressed up and participated. Most of my black students were not amused. They felt mocked. Despite the seating chart that they usually sit in. My kids were now arranged into a white side and a black side. The white kids didn't really know how to respond and the tension increased. At first I just told them to be quiet. Then I tried to ignore it. Then I finally had to address it. I think I even botched it.

This current election is bringing out ugly race issues ( and gender issues) that I thought most of the people in our country had moved passed.

I have a friend who was looking into adoption. White babies cost twice as much and take 3-4X as long to get. Black and mixed racial babies are half price. That makes me angry.

I don't have an answer. I know the process is slow. I know that it gets better with each generation. But this is not fast enough.

in training

I go through phases where I like to pretend that I am a runner. Unlike some people who truly run....I usually have to have a purpose. An event or race that I am training for. A challenge to beat Shaun or finish under a certain time.

I haven't been able to run for a while. Yes, I know a person who ran like 10 miles the day before she delivered. I am not that girl. The most running I do is to the bathroom. Too much activity gives me contractions........and trust me I want this baby to stay put for exactly 12 more days.

My body howeve is apparently in it's own training routine. She is training me to get used to waking up all night. I pee at least every two hours ( I hope she doesn't want to eat that much). At least every other night I am up for an hour or more. Just awake. Wide awake. Sometimes I lay there. Pray. Lesson plan. Count backwards ( my equivalent of sheep). Sometimes I give up and get out of bed and read or watch tv. I've discovered that 5 am is a great time to go to WalMart. If you can make your way around all those stockers.

Last time I remember waking up around 3 am, not being able to go back to sleep and watching old episodes of things like Full House and Saved by the Bell on TV. When Owen got here......that is exactly when he would wake up for his nightly feedings. I don't know that I can prepare or train for all my sleepless nights ahead.....but my body is sure trying. It is at least getting used to being awake when I shouldn't. Learning the middle of the night TV schedules. It amazes me that my body does that. That it knows and gets ready, despite my reluctance.

This race has no true finish line, but in less than 2 weeks I won't be spending these sleepless hours alone. This is what I have been training for.

That's all for now. I'm off to WalMart before the rest of the world wakes up.

2 more weeks to speak like a grown up

My friend offered to lend me this velcro belly thing they gave her in the hospital that she swore helped her with her c-section recovery. I looked online to check it out. I found a few for sale and it was named the "swelly belly band".
I may borrow it from my friend, but refuse to call anything a swelly belly band.

I also have a "boppy".......which if you don't know is an essential U-shaped pillow used for nursing, tummy time and various other things. There is a slightly different brand with a little mroe stuffing, called "my breast friend". I absolutely refuse to buy or use anything called my breast friend no matter how great it is. I would tell you to google it but am afraid of the images that might pop up.

People often point to my belly and refer to me in terms like "preggers" and "prego". Not a fan of being called anything that shares a name ( or at least a spelling) with spaghetti sauce brand.

For right now, I like to ignore or roll my eyes at this kind of talk. But soon all kinds of ridiculous talk will be coming out of my mouth. O got called pretty much anything that started w/ a p as a baby. I wasn't sure why.....but nonsensical names just tumbled out of my mouth. He was my little papya, popcorn, porkchop, pumpkin.....you name it. We picked up his paci off the ground and drank from his baba (bottle...not my own pep name for my boobs) and wrapped him snugly in his blankie. I will speak primarily of events involving orafaces. Spit up and dirty diapers and detailed descriptions of each. This doesn't even include breast feeding.

Now, about the silliest word I use is asking him if he has to go "potty". Sometimes I even say I have to go potty. About every hour or so these days.

As much as I don't want to be pregnant anymore ( and how is cankles for a funny word).....I will relish in my last 2 weeks to talk like a grown up. To talk about the metric system and movies I want to see ( and might even get to....Burn after Reading), food that I don't produce and I even speak semi-fluent StarWars with Owen.

flu shots

Me and O just came from getting our flu shots.
He has a Tazmanian devil bandaid, I have Bugs Bunny. My arm is already starting to feel a bit warm and heavy and I am hoping to not feel bad in the morning. It will be well worth it if it keeps me and Tess from getting the flu this year.
Vaccines are kind of interesting.
The flu vaccine for example….people in the CDC “predict” in Jan or Feb which strains of the virus they think will be the most prevalent. Grow those viruses in chicken eggs. Kill the virus and use it to make the vaccine.
One shot that just might prevent me from a week of achy fever and chills.
They might be wrong at the CDC. Sometimes it mutates. Sometimes we get sick anyways………but……….with the vaccine it isn’t usually as bad. Last year O was the only one in our house to get a shot. We all 3 got the flu. O happily played and watched cartoons after his does of Motrin to deal with the fever, while me and Shaun wanted to curl up and die.
I am kind of amazed that a shot of tiny dead viruses can keep me from getting sick, or at least sicker. It is all based on our immune system and it’s memory.
I wish I handled sin like that. That I remembered. That all it took was one dose of mistake and my mind could fight it off next time. Even better, if it was dead ( like the virus in a vaccine) to begin with. Expose myself to just a little bit……to pride and selfishness and envy ( I could go on here)………and my heart would some how know how to ward them off better next time.
My heart often seems to have no memory defense system. I think God tires of me making the same mistakes over and over.
And I guess he does.
So even though there is no vaccine for my heart, I am thankful that at least he does not tire of just ME.

buying in bulk

We tried to the Sams thing once. I just couldn't do it. I like the idea of having a year's supply of toilet paper in my garage, or never running out of paper towels...but I had serious difficulty in dropping 20$ on toilet paper. I would much rather purchase my 8 roll pack every few weeks or so. Actually I prefer the 4 roll pack because it actually fits in a bag and isn't so awkward to carry.
When I order contacts, I usually only get a 3 month supply. Shaun gets his for a year.
When gas prices were up close to 4$ a gallon...I refused to fill my tank. I wasn't saving any money. If anything I was wasting it......along with my time......but I didn't want to see the price column click up into the 80s. Sometimes I just didn't want to wait for it to fill up. Sometimes I was hoping it would drop in the next few days. Regardless I always drove off with my half full tank, and would have to return sooner than I wished for another half tank.
Gas dropped a bit and I started filling up again.
Shaun's work gave him a Costco card.
Costco is far superior to Sams and I have been really trying to buy bigger. I don't think I am saving much dough on the actual purchases......but the less trips I have to make to the store....possibly the less random things I will buy. I am also starting to feel more conviction about my wastefulness. If I buy one big bottle of detergent, rather than 3 little ones......I cut the plastic wastes in at least half.
This is a slow process for me.
Today I needed dishsoap. I like those cute little gel caplets. It was 6$ for 20ish.....or 15$ for 60. I will be doing lots of dishes in the next month ( bottles, bottles and more bottles) but I still put the small container in my cart. Who spends 15$ on dish soap! A few seconds later, I went back and traded my little container for the big one. I tried not to look as the checker scanned it a few minutes later.

I know this connection has been made dozens of times already......but I can't help thinking about a song about getting your 5$ fill on God that week. ( It was written when you could almost drive on 5$ worth of gas for the week). Not enough to cost you too much, just enough to get you through the week. I have to admit that sometimes I show up on Sunday for my 5$ fill up.

Do you think they sell Jesus at Costco? I want him in bulk.

made

I like to play that twisted game w/ shaun when something is new. I ask him if I look different. He stares at me blankly......I assumes goes through the checklist, is her hair shorter, a different color, is that outfit new, etc. Last weekend I asked him that questions. I got the blank checklist stare and finally he settled on "did you get more freckles?".
uh, no. I got my eyebrows waxed. No major change. Although it is my favorite 10$ makeover.
Teenagers seem to have this dramatic difference down. One of my students from last year swung by my room and asked if she looked different. I didn't have to stare blankly or go through a mental checklist. Everything was different.
Last year she sported chains, spikes, chunky shoes, dark colors and rainbow jewlery. I am pretty sure every item in her closet was purchased at Hot Topic. She was often seen walking down the hall holding hands with a different girl every few months.
The day she asked me this she was wearing a preppy jumper, cute little flats, and plain boring hair. I said yes of course she looked different. It seemed like her new wardrobe also came with a new set of goals and study habits and I tried to encourage her in those. Later that after noon, I had to tell her to add a little bit of space between her and the boy she was almost mounting in the hallway.
Amazing what kind of change can happen in 8 short weeks.
As a grown up I resist this. Sure I like a new haircut and a new outfit or maybe even a crazy nailpolish color.......but I wouldn't even know where to begin making over my entire image.
I would like to think that this is because I know who I am ....and there isn't any reason to wake up different.
The truth is, my identity should reflect Christ. And hopefully occasionally it does. Mostly I think I just look like me. To be more like Him - we all need to make some changes. Often I think they are too hard or too dramatic or costs too much. A true life of love and service involves a lot more than a 10$ eyebrow wax. Maybe I need to learn a few things from my newly prepped out ex-student.

Generation Hex



This blog is all about 2 things I don’t usually do.
1. Blog tours. Despite the fact that my friend Tina runs some of these, and you often get free books ( I love books). I have never done one. Is it like selling out? What if you don’t like the book? That kind of thing.
2. Read books with titles like Generation Hex: Understanding the Subtle Dangers of Wicca. Makes me a little scared. It is either going to be over the top conservative or just weird over the top. ( I was pleased to discover it was mostly neither).
So two things out of my comfort zone…..here goes.

Like I said I was a bit reluctant to get into the book, but was surprised to learn that Wicca is actually one of the fastest growing “religions” in the US, especially in teenagers. I teach high school and started to realize maybe there was a little more here for me than I had first thought.
I did have to struggle through the first few chapters about Harry Potter and Halloween, but as soon as I hit the first interview with a 16 year old Wiccan I started to picture some of my students. Wicca, or “the craft” isn’t something usually discussed or thought to be widespread but I now have a suspicion that I have more Wiccans sitting in my desk than Buddhists or Islamic followers combined. Goth doesn’t necessarily equal Wiccan but most people put labels on those kids. 9 years of teaching has made me realize that dark clothes, odd make up and slightly different “outside reading” doesn’t make for a bad scary kid. These students are often quiet, kind and extremely smart. I also can’t help but notice that they are usually hurting and searching which might be what led them to Wicca.
The authors do a fabulous job of pointing out what draws people, and is continuing to draw people to this set of beliefs. As a Christian we should be wise about what is appealing about another religion and what our beliefs say about it. For example, there is a very large draw of women and teen girls into Wicca. Part of what is attractive is the strong role of women and focus on some of those feminine traits. Both Jesus and Paul spoke of women in a more elevated role than they currently had in society. God is traditionally seen as male, but the truth is he is neither male nor female and all of the above. A more balanced perspective might help some of the women seeking that aspect of God, rather than finding it in the Wiccan goddess.
The thing that I like most about this book, wasn’t specific to Wicca but just good tips on how to deal with ANYONE with a different belief systems than you. It stressed
1. Education – a good portion of the book was just devoted to what Wicca is, what it is not and how it compares to Christianity.
2. Kindness and respect – listening, not showing up with an agenda, not taking jabs or making jokes, arguing or pushing. Both authors were very respectful in their interviews and research.
3. That we have something to learn from them. This must be balanced carefully with the truths of the Bible. For example, Wiccans have an amazing respect for creation and the Earth. As Christians many of us could apply some of those practices ( though not the belief systems).

If you would like to learn more about the book, Wicca or the authors ( Dillon Burroughs and Marla Alupoaicei) please check out this website: http://www.blogtourspot.com/genhex-blog-tour/genhex-media-release/.

first date

I have been dating Shaun for almost 11 years now. It has been a long time since I have had a first date.
The first few days of school are as close as I get ( or want to get). It is like a week of 150 first dates. It is an odd comparison I know, and no bad jokes about "dating" my students please... ( ick and I want to keep my job). Bare with me and I'll try to make the connection.
They stumble in on that first day. We are all shiny and new and wanting to impress. There is an awkward eagerness( even from the teacher). Some of the kids ( just like some first dates) are trying too hard to impress, a few......the ones sleeping are not trying hard enough ( actually I think they might be trying to appear like they are not trying.) Some are too wrapped up in themselves to care what I have to say. Others are just trying to see how far they can get. (use the metaphor here...not literally of course).
For the most part we are on our best behavior. All teachers are really good teachers the first week. We don't sit down or show movies or "wing it" just yet. We haven't fallen behind on grades and our room is clean. Most of the students show up on time, with supplies ( even better than flowers!) and gasp...even their homework. The conversation flows awkwardly. The class is still getting to know each other and only a few are confident enough to join in discussion. We are still pulling teeth. In a few weeks I will not be able to shut them up. We will get comfortable. Our guards will go down. The need to impress has worn off. We will run out of new clothes and new tricks and our honeymoon will be over. Issues and conflict will arise, but so will the real business of learning.
I would kind of like to stay here for a bit. While we are all still on our best behavior. But it doesn's work that way. Just like I can't refuse any 2nd or 3rd or 100th dates with these kids. They are mine for better or worse. At least until May.

ignoring the obvious

Less than one month to go on the baby countdown. ( let me preface this rant with the fact that I am super grateful for this gift and thankful for a baby.....just not a fan of the belly or the attention that it brings).
Now that school has started though I kind of want to draw less attention to it.
I mean, random people rub my belly. Kids I don't know walk by and point it out. And everyone wants to know how I "feel". I say fine or good....which is no where near the honest truth......but I don't think the secretary really wants to hear about my hemroids ( nor, probably did anyone reading this). People stop and tell me how "cute" I look .....but when they say cute they don't mean that my hair or outfit looks great -- but that my belly button is sticking out.
Some of my kids look on in fear.......not because I am lighting the desk on fire but because they think I might drop this baby any second. Right there on the lab room floor. And sometimes I feel like I might. I better not, childbirth was not covered in the safety video.
I am thankful to only be on the second floor. I still try to not sit down ( like any good teacher in the first few weeks). The bathroom ( well the staff one) is so far away that I try to ignore the fact that I have to pee every hour and just pray I don't sneeze. When I drop something, I actually bend over and pick it up. I usually insist on it......even though this is excrutiating. Today, I helped unload books. Oddly, no one even tried to stop me. I even managed to be talked into dancing in a pep rally. First of all I don't dance in public period ( well not without liquid encouragement), much less 9 months pregnant. Apparently I have one week to learn how to "walk it out"... I think it might be more like "waddle it out". I run into desks and tables and even kids because I don't quite realize how big I am. I swear I even caught myslef sucking in once this week.
I am a bit puzzled by my behavior. Like pretending and acting like I am all full of energy and fine makes me tough or better or more of a woman....than the other whiny pregnant women in my building. When I get home I don't care about tough. I turn on cartoons for Owen, get him whatever un-nutricous snack he asks for. Make something really easy for dinner ( thank you costco)....and put my swollen feet up and usually talk Shaun into rubbing them. I like to be in bed by 9:30 so I can wake up at 5:30 and pretend all over again.
Maybe part of this act is to convince myself. Complaining and indulging will not make the time pass faster. It won't make me teach any better.....although it might get me a little more sleep and less back pain. Next time someone ( besides Shaun) offers to pick up or carry something for me, I will let them. I will sit down, even for just a little while in every class. I will pee between classes.....even if it makes me late. I will try not to flinch when someone tells me how cute I look, or starts rubbing, or uses words like "prego" or "preggers" or asks me if I am about to pop. I will still tell half truths when they ask how I feel......and I just might even stop concentrating so hard on not waddling as I walk down the hall.

27 pounds

27 pounds has been on my mind lately. A welcome heaviness.
No that is not the amount of weight I have gained in this pregnancy ( at least not yet).
It is the weight of my blonde three year old little boy. This is on the small end for his age ( as in we are still under the 10% percentile), but it is starting to feel like a lot.
My c-section is scheduled for almost exactly one month away ( Sept. 25). Owen is starting to get harder and harder to pick up and hold. Not that he usually wants me to or anything. He tries to be quite the independant one, which is usually good. But there is occasional required lifting.
Like when he falls asleep in the car after swimming and I hope and pray I can get him inside to actually take a nap.
Like when I lift him on the counter so he can help me cook dinner.
Like when I lift him into the shopping cart at the store.
Like when he is hurt or scared and I want to hold him.
Like when I set him on the toilet in the morning because he is too tired to stand up and pee.
Like when I sneak in his room in the morning and lift him out of his bed ( or tent) to bring him into mine so I can sneak in some snuggling before heading off to school.

My belly is sticking out enough that people try to not let me lift or carry things. Light things like a stack of papers or grocery bags. So far, my mom has been the only one telling me not to carry O so much. I of course, have not asked my doctor if there should be any limitations here. I know the wise thing to do would be to stop or severely limit picking him up now. Partly for my own back, and partly for Owen to get used to it. I have never really worked that way. That would be like eating healthy right before going on a diet to try and "ease into it". No thanks. I'd rather soak in all 27 of those pounds while I still can.

After a c-section you are not supposed to carry anything heavier than your child ( as in the one just born) for 4-6 weeks. I can't imagine an entire month without the weight of those 27 pounds in my arms. My arms will be full with something pink and perfect and smelling of dreft. But they will be about 20 pounds too light. I will miss that heaviness and possibly even the ache in my lower back.

hot and sweaty

This summer has been hot, with only smoe minor releif ( thank you tropical storms) in the last few weeks. Playground equipment is too hot to touch. Most of our time has been speant indoors or at the pool. Normally I like hot. I have a pretty high tolerence for it. I am usually cold. I am the girl that keeps a hoodie in her car for restraunts, movies and other public places that think below 80 is an acceptable room temperature. If I am hanging out at your house, and you happen to have a throw blanket on a chair or the back of your couch......I will probably cover up with it. I have all the AC vents in the car pointed away from me ( or closed). I sleep with multiple covers even in the summer.
This summer has been a bit of an exception. Maybe it is the extra baggage I am carrying around. When I was pregnant with O, I just felt normal ( as opposed to my usual cold). That was before very pregnant meets Texas July and August heat. I wake up sweaty. I sweat in the shower. One night I even took kitchen shears to my pajama bottoms and turned them into shorts. I had to seriously resist the tempation to do that to every full pant item I owned with a stretchy waist band.
If you think this blog is just a whiny pregnancy symptom rant. You are wrong.

See, last night.....our AC went out. No one can come out until atleast Monday.

I thought I could manage. The highs are only hitting mid-90s. This is nothing compared to 3 weeks ago. I thought about staying with friends or springing for a hotel but thought I'd rather be sweaty and in my own home than cool and somewhere else without my stuff.
24 hours later however, I am pretty sure I could ring out my clothes. I have escaped the heat by hanging out outside, at a neighbors, at school and borrowed 5 fans. Currently all 5 are running and I can't hear a thing. Owen has explored rotational motion by dropping things into the fan. The oscillating kind really amazes him. I have had to say the phrase "keep your hand out of the fan" and "Owen, stop playing with the outlets" more times than I would like today.

Lets add Shaun is sick, O got his staples out last night and had the cranky headache to go with it all night, school starts Monday, and we still owe a bit on our last major home disaster (the plumbing issue).

Shaun has been trying to fix it all day. But his temper is escalating with the temperature in our house.

I can't help but wonder about the timing. Everything seems to hit at once. I was just starting to relax about money and the baby and now I am wondering where the 4 grand for a new unit will come from ( unless Shaun manages to fix it).

I call a friend to ask her what AC service she used last and her life unfolds worse than mine. Major problems seem to be piling up on her end ( ones that make a little hot and sweaty and a few grand look like nothing).
On my way home from getting a snowcone, I see the homeless fellow I bought water for last week sleeping outside an abandoned restraunt in the heat of the afternoon. I at least have a roof right?

So I am pondering 2 things here:
1. a little perspective can go a long way.
2. (the lengthier one). I wonder something I already know the answer to. Why does God do this. I swear there is some verse about God never giving you more than you can handle.......but it sure seems like he likes to pile it on all at once. To get really close to what we can't handle. The answer I already know, and don't like to be reminded of so concretely is our need for utter dependance on him. Not dependance on the value in my savings account, or my husband's ability to fix it, or a nice comfortably cool home. But on him, and whatever he decides to throw my way.

copier ettiquite when there is a long line the Friday afternoon before school starts

1. Make only what you need for that day ( or in this case for Monday). Do not make copies for 2 days from now or 2 weeks from now or 2 months from now.
2. Have your stuff together. This is not the time to cut and paste with your scissors. White things out or copy multiple single pages from a workbook.
3. It better be useful, like your syllabus. Not 175 cartoons or color pages or recipes that you just happen to want to try.
4. Packets of more than 5 pages will have to be made later. Like in the middle of the night or something.
5. Sure you can sneak out of line to pee, or buy a soda from the machine. NOT go to Starbucks and come back adn expect your place to still be there.
6. Be kind to the copier. Use it gently, make sure the paper is straight ( and loaded). No stray staples or taped up originals. Nothing that can potentially jam the machine is allowed. If it breaks on your set, be prepared to run. Fast.
7. Do not under any circumstances walk away from the machine while it is making your copies.
8. Do not walk into the copy room, see at least a dozen people waiting and ask if you can sneak in that you only have a few. Wait at least 2 weeks into school to start asking for cuts.
9. Usually, proper copier ettiquite says copy for 10 minutes, then get back in line. First day of school changes those rules a bit. Mabye 20 minutes. One hour is not acceptable and not the way to make friends at a new school.
10. Be ready for quick changeouts. If it finishes a set. Run do not walk to put your next set down. Also not a good idea to ask the person who is waiting on you to finish your billion copies to do it for you because you don't want to get up.
11. Now would be a really really good time to go green. Save trees and a few hours of your time and decide maybe not everyone needs their own personal copy of that anyways.

peer pressure

When people talk about highschool and/or teenagers they often mention peer pressure. Like this is something we grow out of. Like we hit college and suddenly people can no longer talk us into things or influence our decisions. We are grown ups and can make good rational decisions for ourselves. Right.
Not so much.
I like to think that I am pretty confident in who I am and can think for myself.
And then school starts (at least for the teachers).
It is like I am back in high school rather than teaching it.
No one is trying to talk me into smoking anything, spiking the punch,or to make out with them in the backseat. (well not yet at least).
But........
I find myself complaining, making jokes and sighing along with the rest of my crowd.

Go to an elementary school the week before school starts and you will find teachers about to explode with excitement and positive warm goodness. Go to a high school and you will find a bunch of whiners.
Most school districts start the staff year with a district wide convocation....translation....grown up pep rally. The elementary and middle school teachers are all wearing matching sparkly shirts. They have cheers, occasional props and are willing to do any song or dance that the presentor asks of them. The high school teachers often show up late ( and most of us consider skipping it all together), try to sit in the back and stand there stiffly when asked to participate. God forbid you ask us to dance. More often than not the presentors are fabulous and try to empower and encourage us. The elementary teachers leave glowing. The high school teachers look at their watch and wish they were working in their rooms.
I tend to be a pretty positive girl. I like my job. I don't like to create problems. I like to pretend that things will work out like they are supposed to and then deal with the problem once it occurs. I do occasionally like to vent, but usually my glass is half full. My natural tendency is to think that our new software will be better and easier, not automatically assume it will be a pain in the ass. Now, I don't like to sing or dance like those crazy elementary folk. I don't own apple jewelry or a broom skirt. I'm no cheer leader. I am not full of pep. But I am not the girl I have been all week. This girl acts like she doesn't want to be here even when she does. This girl gets there just in time and sits in the back. This girl sends texts messages rather than pay attention. This girls joins in with the whining. If you are positive or excited people look at you like a leper.
Now in defense of all the negative....there is nothing like 3-4 full days of inservice to suck the life and energy out of you.

What is a little bit funny is that all these whining negative teachers will have on a whole new game face on Monday morning. They will still bitch and moan at lunch but most will get there early and honestly be excited whether they want to admit it or not.

Staples

I love love love office supplies. Usually back to school means trips to Office Max, Office Depot, WalMart, Target and of course Staples. I buy good pens, pretty colors of dry erase markers and all things to get me pumped up for a new school year.
This year, I have managed to avoid the school supplies.....so far. I am only going back for a month or so at first anyways.

Last night, however, I bought 2 very expensive staples. They didn't come from one of my favorite office supply stores.....but instead the ER.

O had a run in with a chest and lost. We were up at a sunday school party and I had just left him playing upstairs with a few other kids. I told Shaun to go check on him in about 5 minutes.....
30 seconds later we here a big crash from upstairs followed by some screams and crying that I am sure are coming from my kid. I take off running upstairs to kiss whatever boo-boo he has.
I pick him up out of a slightly scared teenage girl's arms and start consoling him when her face wrinkles and she says there is blood. Coming from his head. O's hair is almost white at this point of the summer and there is suddenly bright red streaks near the back. I don't see a big gaping wound anywhere......and truth be told he has had bloody lips that bled more than this so I don't totally freak out. I hand him off to Shaun. ( I don't do well w/ blood) and head into the kitchen for ice and paper towels.
Shaun moves him outside and inspects his wound and says we probably need stitch or two. We load him up in the car, which causes a new fit ( he did not want to leave the party) and head for Care Now or the ER.
O has calmed down and mostly stopped bleeding so we slightly reconsider the need for a trip.....but figure it is best to get him checked out.....or at least see how crowded the ER is.
Ther ER isn't too bad, so we decide to wait. I am a little out of sorts and write the wrong name down on the forms.
They triage us within 15 or so minutes. I half expect the nurse to tell us to go home......and ask her this flat out. She looks at his wound, and says no that they way it is split will require a few staples. STAPLES...not stitches or super glue? The nurse assures me that they use a topical anesthetic and he won't feel a thing. I then ask her what kind of anesthetic they will be giving me!
We know our way around ER waiting rooms...mainly that they are lengthy stays... so I decide to go and pick up the things we left at the party (like O's shoes and our dinner) and swing by Sonic to get drinks and a grilled cheese for O. Besides the ER makes me nervous and O is playing happily making paper airplanes out of all the forms I was supposed to fill out.
I get back to the ER in time to wait another 30 minutes.........before being called back. We wait in our little room and watch the Olympics for a good hour before anyone comes to see us. I joke that they are just waiting for Phelps to race and that the dr. will come around after that. I was kidding......but 5 minutes after the race the dr. (or actually a PA) shows her face. It is well after 10:30 and I am exhausted even if Owen is still wired. She says he should get a staple or 2 and that she can do it fast. She can numb it w/ a shot first ( which will hurt and piss him off) or just do it quick (same pain factor as the numbing shot but less time).
Shaun holds him down and I hold his hand but I swear the first staple sounded like it went straight into his skull. He screamed. I cringed and she wasn't quite fast enough w/ staple number 2. Lots more screaming.......until she returned with a popsicle.
We passed on the catscan ( no way O was sitting still for that and I didn't want to sedate him).....waited on our paperwork....finished the icecream and were finally released.

Owen, atleast, will be heading back to school tomorrow with a few new supplies. Even if they are in his skull rather than his cute blue lego backback.

the back stories

I am almost olympic-ed out. That being said, I have to force myself to go to bed every night.....usually well past my usual hour and the first thing I do in the morning is check the medal standings.
Owen watching the olympics is my favorite part. While watching archery, he stood on the bed and pulled back his pretend bow and arrow every time someone on TV did. During swimming, he plopped down on the floor and swam madly on the wood. Diving was a bit scary as he poised himself perfectly on top of a table and "dove" (feet first thankfully) into the chair and crumpled like he had hit water. Last night when track started he just took lap after lap around the living room.
My second favorite part of the olympics are all the personal back stories. You know where they are killing time between heats or races and focus on one athlete. They give you their history, tell you about their hometown or struggles that they have overcome. Suddenly, I find myself pulling for this athlete ( who I had never heard of 5 minutes before) in their event. Even when they aren't American. Something about knowing their story makes you want to root for them. They are no longer just another athlete in the pack, but now you are connected.
I wonder what would happen if we took the time to learn the "stories" about the people around us everyday? Not just your friends. You know their stories....but that elusive neighbor who never mows the lawn or that annoying co-worker? It is hard to not at least be a little more understanding when you know someone's story. Who knows....you might even start pulling for them.

head gear


One of my friend's little girls needs a helmet. Ok, that isn't the technical term. It is a DOC band or cranal technology or whatever.....but it is basically a helmet. It helps to reshape a skull that is no where near round. Both of our kids came out this way, and was probably due to some muscle tightness and positioning in the womb. Most kids heads get a little bent out of shape in the birth canal ( O never made it that far) or slightly flat on back before they can sit up. But turns out your skull is pretty flexible and usually rounds itself out. What can I say, my kid even came out hard-headed.

Owen wore one for four months. Four long months of doctors visits in North Dallas, physical therapy, stinky sweaty helmet head, stares, stupid questions, unwanted sympathy and a little boy who barely noticed after a few days.

Looking back....I almost forgot. It was about less than 2 years ago but feels like eons. Owen's head is mostly round again. People only stop us in the store to tell me how cute he is, not to ask about his headgear.

When I look back at pictures......I even almost think it was cute. Now.

It is funny this huge event seems like nothing, seems like something a look back to almost fondly. almost but not quite.

The whole time I do remember struggling with the temporary-ness of it. Every one wants a healthy normal kid. Sometimes I even wonder if it is ok to pray for this. Like praying for this baby that I am carrying is healthy and "normal".......somehow makes less of a kid who isn't. Like I will love her less if she has some kind of problem. A big serious one or something minor like a crooked skull.
When learning about Owen's initial treatments ....I remember sitting at the computer crying....and then feeling guilty about this. This was temporary and cosmetic ( mostly) and would pass. Other people I know have kids ( or their own ailments) with conditions that do not pass. It is more than a 4 month battle. Or a few nights in the hospital ( O's asthma).

Now, that I am looking back and rehashing all this for my friend.....I really want to remember one thing. How quickly it is we forget. How quickly things pass. How sometimes re-shaping heads ( or grown up hearts) hurts or is inconvient or causes a few stares......but that one day I will look back and it wasn't so bad after all.