just breathe

My sweet Tess is just a few days over 7 months. She has one little tooth. I have yet to see her really crawl, but she can manage her way across a room. I swear she can say momma although some people might say she is too little to know what she is saying. She is at the age where she seems to be learning a “new trick” almost everyday.

Owen is also learning all kinds of things. How to write his name, that blue and yellow make green and how to dribble a soccer ball.

I am amazed at what they learn, but it also leads to expectations. I wonder when Tess will crawl, or when Owen will read, or when Tess will let me get a good solid night of sleep, or when Owen will make it through his soccer game without crying.

I love my kids as close to unconditionally as humanly possible. But all these new expectations means that occasionally I am going to be disappointed. Or wonder if they are ok, or on track, or as smart or talented or ( fill in the blank) as the other kids. I hope that they will grow up to be smart and kind and happy. I hope that they make good grades in school, that they will not get mixed up in the "wrong crowd". I hope that they will graduate from college and find spouses and make me beautiful grandbabies ( in that order).

But just 7 months and 4 days ago ( or almost 4 years ago w/ O) all I was hoping for was that first cry. Just to know that the baby they pulled from my body would breathe. That she was alive.

I loved her perfectly and fully as she sat in the warming tray across the room before I could even touch her and squeeze her and count her toes. Before eating solids, or potty training or algebra.

One of my friends just had a baby yesterday. A little bitty bit of a thing weighing in at not quite 2 and a half pounds. I have seen a few pictures and he is pink and perfect, despite all the tubes that seem to get in the way of his cute face. She was short a few months to prepare. Do all the necessary things like buy a carseat, pack a hospital bag and pick out a name. She didn’t sit around and wonder if he would weigh 8 lbs or have blue eyes or score a perfect 10 on his Apgar test. Instead she skipped straight to the important part. She held her breathe and hoped and prayed for that first cry.

That cry where you instantly fall in love. A love that hasn’t been earned. Love that just is. Love that hopes to steal a glimpse before they quickly wheel him to NICU. Love that impatiently waits 30 long hours to meet her son for the first time. Love that doesn’t need him to sleep through the night, or kick a soccer ball, or clean his room. But the kind that just wants a glimpse or to grab his finger.

My God loves me like this. Not because of what I do, or how many friends I have or because I go to church but simply because He created me.

pink eye

The latest ailment in our house is pink eye. Yesterday Tess woke up with an oozy pink eye that was swollen up like she had been stung by a bee.
On the way home from school that day, Owen had some quesitons about her condition.

O: "Tessie gots pink in her eye?"
Mom: "yes, Tess has pink eye. So be careful not to touch it."
O: "Why not?"
Mom: " Because it is itchy"
O: "I don't want pink eye, I want blue eye."

I laughed.......but if there is such a thing as blue eye, O is bound to catch it!

laundry day

My rules for professional dress go as follows:
1. Sunday clothes = Monday clothes.
2. Iron, Smiron....it is just going to get wrinkled in the car anyways right?
3. Socks do not need to match. Don't waste your time trying to pair them up. If forget that their is an assembly and sit next to an actual grown up who happens to notice and comment on your Easter bunny sock on the right food, shock her speachless by flashing the St. Patricks day sock on the left. (those English teachers are so into details.)
4. Also completely unnessary to shave past the point of visibility. This is capri weather, so no need to go much above the ankles. But hey, no one is probably checking out your ankles so feel free to skip this rule altogether..
5. When all of your clothes are dirty and you desperately need to do laundry...then and only then, break out the dresses and skirts.
6. Nice outfits mean you can skimp on the hair or makeup. blazer = ponytail. People are so distracted by the fancy clothes that they do not notice the greasy hair.
7. Can solid black work out pants double as classic black chino. I think so!
8. Start the year by setting the bar low. Then when you stumble out of bed and walk out the door a few months later.......no one can actually tell.
9. Most important question to ask your self when walking out the door in the
morning...not: "Does this match?" or "Does this make me look fat?" or "what cute earings do I have to match?" or even "Did I button all the buttons?"........but "Do I still have time to get coffee?"
10. Tones that hide coffee stains well are also a plus. (see #9)

custormer service

I think my children are allergic to the phone. Not the actual appliance. That they push buttons on, chew, gnaw, hide, slobber over and Owen has been known to use as a flashlight to scare away monsters. It is only when it is properly in use that the allergic reaction begins. The second someone answers on the other end or I attempt to leave a message, someone has a breakdown.

Today, I realized that I never paid the credit card bill. It is usually due about now and I don't remember ever seeing it. I grabbed the mail basket, which Tess immediately emptied all over the floor and began to chew on some junk mail. I decided that a cd case was much more safe and seemed to occupy her for a moment.
After sifting through some old Christmas cards, a few coupons, magazine subscription renewal pleas and mounds of junk mail ...I find what I had been searching for. The bill. The one that is due tomorrow. Any other bill and this would be no big deal. Credit cards however will have a late fee equivalent to my balance. I realize that this is the 21st century and I can pay it online. No clue what the log in is but surely I can click on that box under login pass word and they can email it to me. Atleast after I tell them my pet's name, 3rd grade teacher and bra size.
One small problem, they need to know that little bitty # written on the back of your credit card. I don't actually have this card. It is in the lock box in the top of Shaun's closet ... for obvious reasons ( hey, the lock box is much improved over the ziplock bag of water that it used to be frozen in the freezer).
I decide to go with plan B and make my payment over the phone ( for a big fat fee......although still less than my late fee would be). I go to the bathroom, gather up snacks and find something good to watch on TV, knowing that I might be here a while. On hold, listening to corny music interupted every so often just to let me know that my call is important to them.
Shockingly after pushing about 50 buttons and only 5 or so minutes on hold......a person actually answer.
A person who for which English is not their first langauge. Flashbacks to Slumdog Millionaire flood my brain while I ask to make my payment, agree to their outrageous fee, and that NO I would not like to purchase additional insurance, a new watch or a magic bullet food processor.
Tess suddenly realizes that I am actually talking on the phone and her allergic reaction begins.
She discards the tasty cd case that she was chewing on and tries to eat the phone. I hear a click and fear the worst. That me and my new foriegn friend have been disconnected. I click flash and am relieved to hear this woman ( even if it is a struggle to understant her) still on the other line. I repeat my bank's routing #. Loudly over much screaming.
Genius on the other end takes this moment to point out that, " miss, I think your baby is crying".
Really. You think so. And I am suddenly aware that she just might be able to hear her screams all the way in India............even after I hang up.

Bluebonnet pictures

Thanks Rhonda for sneaking us in. www.snapshotsonlocation.com

gotta get through this

Lately that has been my mantra.
I just need to get through this.
This week.
This current sickness.
This icky stuff at work.
This deadline.
Through this period.
Surely soon there will be rest.
A pedicure, or at least a good eyebrow wax.
A nice glass of red wine.
A nap in the middle of the afternoon.
An evening of 8 solid hours of sleep.
A date night.
The only problem is that "this"
whatever it is that I am trying to get through
keeps turning into something new.
Some other "this" to get through.

It has been a rough patch.
But just getting through
is not how I am supposed to live.
Just getting through is not enough.
The dangling carrot of a nap or some other simple reward
should not be what gets me out of bed.

This is not enough.
Just drudging through means that surely I am missing the rewards.
The coos and giggles in between the projectile vomiting.
Memorizing all the words to Owen's new favorite book ( "I love you stinkyface").
Listening to Shaun read Hank the Cowdog (complete with voices)
everynight to him until he falls asleep.
While I slip out and run to the store to buy calimine lotion or children's motrin or pedialyte.
The way Tessie's face lights up when she sees her brother.
Her brother that I hope and pray doesn't give her chicken pox.
Counting her perfect 10 toes one minute
and praying please Lord, "just make her stop crying for 10 minutes" the next.

If all I did was just get through this ...
I would miss all of that.
So yes, we will get through this.
I say we because I can't do it alone.
I need my amazing husband who is always willing to shoulder more than his portion of the load.
My patient friends who meet me for coffee.
Watch Tess while I lay in bed with 103 fever.
Who order me pizza.
And my God.
Who doesn't mind my continal pleas for help.
Who is happy when I throw up my hands and admit that
No, I can not get through this by myself.
That this is too big. too much. and I am way way too tired.
Because then I am relying on Him.
Because then it is not about me.
Because then it really isn't about this anymore.
And I can take a deep breath.
And my chest doesn't feel tight.
And my stomach doesn't burn.
And I start to notice all of that.
The giggles and the coos and the stories and the smiles.
The good stuff.
The stuff I want to soak in and roll around in and not miss a second of.
Even if that means that nap I have been aching for
will have to be postponed
until summer.

pooped on

Earlier today I was walking back from my car and a bird pooped right on top of my head.Besides the fact that it was disgusting and that I had to drive the 20 minutes back home with it in my hair before I could shower, it sums up how I have been feeling. Pooped on.
Since Tess was born, our house has been one kind of sick or another. Mostly Owen. Yesterday we went to see the dr. with what I thought were hives or poison ivy and walked out with a shingles diagnosis. Shingles? Besides and icky oozy red rash over a good part of his face and head ( why not an arm or leg or something we could cover up?) he doesn’t seem to be too affected. Until he sees the neighbors playing outside, or I won’t let him touch Tess or even hold hands at the dinner table to pray. Kids with shingles can’t really give other people shingles……but they can pass on chicken pox. A vaccine that Tess is still too young for. So now we cross our fingers and pray that O’s rash crusts over quickly ( it takes 7-10 days) and that he does not share it with Tess.

Yesterday, before the doctor, I was up beat. I had a new haircut, a four day weekend ahead of me and no one has had to stay home sick in almost 2 weeks. It had been an extra rough week at work and I was just starting to shake myself off.
And then boom. Shingles. Pushed right back down again.

Yes, I know in perspective this is all really small survivable stuff. But it is wearing me out. I am tired of going to the doctor. I am tired of worrying that there is something terribly wrong with my son. I am tired of being afraid that someone else will get it. I am tired of not getting enough sleep. I am tired of trying to figure out who is going to stay home with one or more of my sick children. I am tired of my stomach hurting.

I desperately need a break. Each time I think this has to be it. We made it through the flu, and strep and pneumonia and stomach bugs and ear infections. This really has to be it. Things have to be looking up for us. But this time, my usually half full glass is feeling really empty.

I want to ignore my life and just go crawl in bed for a day. Rest up and then try again. But there is not time for that. Instead I go on about my business and try to entertain my in-laws ( who I also hope don’t get chicken pox or shingles) in the process. One of my weekend plans involved going with my Sunday School class to feed the homeless at a Spring Celebration at a park in downtown Ft. Worth. I came up with dozens of practical reasons not to go. Shaun’s parents were in town. I have a sick kid at home. But I got up and went anyways. Hoping that a dose of perspective would make me forget about my own woes for a little while.

Honestly and selfishly, that means that I was hoping that feeding homeless people for a few hours would make me feel better about myself. That ladeling out tuna casserole to a bunch of people with way bigger problems than me would snap me out of my fog.

The potential for that was there. There were hundreds of people waiting around in the park. They were dirty and hungry and yes, way worse off than me. Somehow this did not seem to cheer me up.

Instead I milled around slightly uncomfortably. I tried to chat up a few people but it felt a little forced. I poured coffee and smiled. I pet some puppies. I gave out a few Easter eggs. I attempted conversations with people who mostly just wanted to talk to themselves. Somewhere along the way I stopped waiting to feel better and actually started serving. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t do much. In honor of the Easter holiday volunteers were out in full force. I stood by the food and passed out a few plates. I forgot about the pit in my stomach and wondered how the single pot of green beans had not run out. Hundreds of people had been through this line. Some multiple times. And there was always more. I think I started smiling. God was so amazingly good.

Joy does not come from things going well or even looking up. Joy does not come from being better off than people around us. Joy does not come from giving up your Saturday morning to feed the homeless. Joy comes from God and how he chooses to reveal himself. Even if that is in a pot of green beans.

Sticks and Stones

As a teacher I realize the importance of words. I know that a careless comment can cause serious damage, and a well timed phrase of encouragement can change everything.
I know the power of words. However, so often I forget. I don't put the filter on. I let things pour out of my mouth without deciding what should go and what should stay ( in my head!). The back of the book quotes that we use "30,000 words a day" and encourages us how to make them count. 30,000 is a lot of words. Sadly at the end of the day -- I can only remember a few of them. Too often, I am remembering words that wish I hadn't let slip out. I agreed to participate in this book tour hoping for some good reminders and encouragement to be more careful. The book came through in that area.....but provided much more. I was expecting this short little book to just be full of proverbs about controlling our tongue and plenty of examples where praise changed someone's course. I was selling my words short! There is so much more crammed into this tiny book. It starts with ways to improve your self talk, stresses the importance of the written word, gives tips on how to say things ( good and bad), some etiquette for communicating with technology ( ok, so I should be keeping up with my blog better….sorry friends!), and even prayer.

Where to get the book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310282535
The author's website: http://acecollins.com/
Other bloggers on the tour: http://www.blogtourspot.com/collins-blog-tour/collins-blog-tour-stops/

making a comeback

I promise to hop back on the blogging bus this week. We have been sick and more sick in the last few months........and blogging got pushed to the back burner.

So this is the official comeback tour. Brittany style, excpet no one will be cutting me in half and I won't be dating a backup dancer.