Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sticks and Stones

One, two buckle my shoe.........a tisket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket.........London bridge is falling down.........ring around the rosie, we all fall down. I never put much thought into childhood riddles, rhymes, and songs. It was just a sweet part of how we played. I grew up with my 2 siblings, 2 cousins, and the neighbor boy. My mom had a daycare, and this was my childhood group. We ran around the farm singing, playing, chasing, dodging, teasing....having a great time; learning from each other, helping each other and growing up together.

Sticks and stones

Most of my early childhood memories involve those 5 kids...and they are amazing memories. What I also remember, and now notice as a mom, however, is that once a child goes to school, those innocent childhood songs and chants can become taunting and hurtful jeers coming from children who are supposed to be our friends. I grew up saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." And I've even said that same little chant to my boys. But the truth of the matter is.....that names do hurt. They have the potential to hurt us for a lifetime and scar us deeply.

may break my bones

I still see a "four-eyes" when I look in the mirror, and I've never been comfortable in a swimsuit ever since my "best friend" said I had baby fat and then patted my tummy. A lot of my "friends" in high school would call me "bookworm" and get mad at me if my grade on a test was too high because it would "throw the curve". I would always laugh it off, but underneath my smile, my heart ached. Words hurt, and they replay in our minds over and over and over and over again. Broken bones and scratches heal, but words have the potential to stick with us forever.

but names will

I think about that every time I am talking to- or disciplining- my boys. I don't ever want a negative or hurtful thing that I recklessly say through anger to replay in their heads. What bothers me the most, though, is that I have no control over what is said on the bus or the playground. When my son calls home crying because the neighborhood bully has targeted him, yet again, calling him names in front of the other kids, my heart aches and that hurt little girl being called "four eyes" on the playground that cowers inside of me doesn't know how to respond. What do I tell my son to do when the mean girl at school constantly showers him with a barrage of hurtful words spewing out of her mouth uncontrollably. We very quickly label the bully who is physical with others, but what about this new form of bullying that is running rampant.

never hurt me.

I know that teasing, bullying, joking all come with the many lessons of growing up but we have to remember what it was like to be that kid. Yes, my friends, words hurt. We need to stop telling our kids that words will never hurt them because they do...and they will. Cyber bullying, text message bullying and whatever else kids can think up are out of control, and it is scarring a generation full of greatness that is yet to be discovered. It is our job as the adults to help kids, teach kids, and build them up. Maybe we need to listen more and talk less. Maybe we need regress to simpler times. Maybe. I'm not sure what the answer is but I know that words are very powerful; they can give us hope, they can give us motivation, they can make us laugh, they can make us cry.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names most definitely hurt me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Adventures- Rookies Need Not Apply

Sale! Sale! Sale! Early bird opportunities abound for those brave enough to weather crowd, dark of night, and turkey hangovers in order to partake in the after Thanksgiving sales that launch the holiday shopping season. Deals lurk around every corner of every department store as the wishful shoppers search for their treasures and stake their claim. Everyone is hoping to find and conquer the deal of the day and claim the title of "Best Gift Giver".

Regrettably, I have never attempted to negotiate the Black Friday sales events...always tapping-out last minute in fear of the expedition and an unsuccessful hunt. The gamble of playing and losing is too much for this shopper to bear. Although, the idea of saving money and scoring big has always beckoned to my inner shopping diva. Unfortunately, the hubby is allergic to spending money and is a vocal non-supporter of the Black Friday shopping extravaganza.

Uncharacteristically, hubby allowed - encouraged actually- me to sample some Black Friday sales in 2007. Honestly, I think he was still hungover with victory from his volleyball team's recent state championship the weekend before. He knew not what he was encouraging and agreeing to. With hubby's approval, I ventured out to partake of the great sales event. However, an early-bird I am not. I didn't venture out until well after the morning crowd had dissipated....or so I thought. Rookie mistake #1.

My first stop- Victoria's Secret- no "needs", just "wants". And the "wants" were definitely fulfilled- free tote with purchase and everything! Starting to get the hang of this Black Friday thing, I ventured to store #2 in hopes of scoring some new fancy sheets and towels. Much to my disillusionment, women were frenzied over the discounted sheets, comforters, and pillows. I was coming into the event unprepared without list, plan, or previous Black Friday experience (Rookie mistake #2), and the chaos and haphazard spending of the seasoned participants was contagious.

Mob-mentality took over this self-confessed rookie shopper as I found myself sucked into the frenzy of the moment; grabbing whatever everyone else was grabbing (even if it wasn't on my non-existent list) because it must be amazing if all of these women are tripping over each other in hopes of scoring those fantastically discounted pillows! In my nonchalant quest for new sheets, I found myself barely able to carry my loot of pillows, towels, sheets (2 sets), and comforters to the checkout line...only to return moments later for another look (and purchase!) of items throughout the store. The sales had to be great deals right? I wouldn't want to miss out on these money-saving items, right? Rookie mistake #3.

However, by this point, I was a shopper out-of-control off to my third store. With nothing specific to be searching for, I successfully purchased on-sale toy items that my children obviously needed to unwrap on Christmas morning, and new wash clothes and candles just because the sale was so amazing! I was drunk with my apparent spending savvy and delirious in the frenzy of grabbing, snatching, scoring, and excitedly-participating holiday shoppers!

With my treasures loaded in my vehicle I ventured home to show-off my rewards earned from 2 victorious hours of shopping. Hubby wasn't as excited as I had envisioned, and not nearly as thrilled with the new bedding as I had hoped. Although, he was quite approving of the Victoria's Secret purchases. And much to my chagrin, those highly coveted and extremely expensive pillows were horrible. We hated them! They have now been passed down to whichever kiddo can tolerate them. And I have learned some very valuable lessons in regards to Black Friday shopping. You must start with a plan. You must approach this adventure as if on a mission....that involves a very specific list. Rookies should not be allowed to attempt this alone...they should be accompanied by a seasoned Black Friday participant. And NO ONE needs $50 pillows!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

Sitting here Thanksgiving eve at my mother-in laws house, I find myself contemplating the start of the Holiday season. I love the holidays....the spirit, the snow, the music, the cheer, the nostalgia...all of it warms my heart and speaks to my soul. I love the house filled with family...cousins playing, Grandma's loving, and Papas getting into trouble with the kids. It's a feel-good moment.

The kids are winding down, getting ready for bed, anticipating the turkey, gravy, potatoes, and pie that they will indulge in tomorrow. Grandma is preparing dishes, ingredients and the such in the kitchen. And my hubby and I sit here looking out the window at the frozen tundra. All seems right...all seems complete...all seems joyous.

But in the quiet of my heart, there is a stirring...one that continues to disturb my sleep and haunt my days. No matter which house I spend Thanksgiving at next year, something- or someone- will be missing....my hubby; my boys' daddy. He will be spending his Thanksgiving- his second one- in a foreign country fighting for and defending our freedom. It's an honorable mission.....but my heart aches for his absence already. My soul is angry and bitter that we have to make this sacrifice.....again. Yes, it is his duty, and he answers the call gracefully and courageously. But my heart doesn't care about the glory in the mission. I want him here...with us. When you send a soldier on deployment there are many sacrifices that the family endures both big and small. The holidays are lonely...sad...nostalgic...and scary. There is no guarantee that your soldier is coming home. But as I sit here in the quiet of my mother-in laws family room....I can't help but wonder.....but worry...but give thanks that God allowed him to come home after the first war.....give thanks for the beautiful children he has made with me....give thanks for the amazing extended family that has welcomed me as one of their own....give thanks....and a couple prayers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Sign Of A True Champion

In a world that idolizes victors, emulates champions, and glorifies the elite; perfection, championship and victory reign as the ultimate goal to be achieved. We strive to be the victor leaving our blood, sweat, and tears on the practice field and share our hopes and dreams with the teammates who shoulder that same desire. Championship, indeed, tastes sweet.

So the goal is set. The practices are planned. And the hard work that the team has undergone is visibly obvious when they achieve success during competition. Those victories are celebrated; chanted about by elated fans, and accolades are granted by local media. Confidence abounds...both inside the ranks of the team and throughout the supporting fans as the prospect of championship grows more desirable...and attainable.

But what becomes of a team-of those young athletes- when circumstances, performances and luck doesn't go their way? What is the answer when victory- championship dreams- are shattered with a game gone wrong? Disappointment, frustration, tears, heartbreak all overtake the once hopeful and determined team. After all, no stories are told and retold of the team that didn't win; no victory chant for the team that didn't capture the championship.

In those moments, heart and character of the athlete are revealed. To be a champion one must not only know how to win...they must also know how to lose...how to humbly congratulate the victor and come back tomorrow determined to do their best, give their all, and play with heart. I witnessed this display of a champion this weekend as our beloved volleyball team suffered great loss, painful defeat, and then redeeming victory. We placed 7th in a championship tournament we all believed we would conquer as victors. Heart breaking to say the least- my 4 sons were devastated when daddy's team lost; believing with all their hearts that daddy and daddy's girls deserved to win.

Lessons in winning and losing are tough. We all love to win...and hate to lose. But in the sting of defeat, I saw champions rise up holding their heads high, joining together even tighter as teammates and supporting the opposing teams as they powered on to the desired victories. My boys learned more in that loss than we would have in the victory. Our girls maintained to be positive, upbeat young ladies with humble spirits and hopeful hearts. And I dare to say.......that they indeed emerged as champions.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Isn't it Ironic? Don't Ya Think?

My hubby and I have had our fair share of ups and downs accompanied with varying degrees of unfortunate luck. None, however, have been quite as memorable (or scarring!) as the "event" which occurred on our anniversary several years ago. I now lovingly refer to it as "The Anniversary of 2005".

Hubby had been home from Iraq for over a year...a very rocky, tumultuous year (trust me...that is an entirely different post). His December guard drill had always been a family Christmas party where the soldiers could bring spouses and children to introduce, show off, mingle, interact...play nice (not always my strong point...again, best saved for another time).We had never attended it with him before mainly because his unit is stationed hours away from where we lived, traveling in South Dakota winters with little kids isn't always pleasant or safe, and I don't particularly care for meeting new people! I like to stay at home in my nest with my dudes, and I find idle conversation with strangers, well- painful!. Never the less, the amazing wife that I am, I agreed to join hubby on this cold trip through the frozen tundra with our kiddos in order to make hubby happy.  He is so lucky to be married to such a pleasant wifey-poo.

Our trip was basically uneventful...the kids played nice with the other military kids, mommy played nice with the other wives, roads weren't terrible and the drive there was good. Sunday morning we packed up our little family into our vehicle, started a movie and set off on our 4-5 hour drive across the frozen state. Did I mention this was our anniversary? So we chit-chatted, almost a hope-filled conversation, on our drive....about where we've been, what we've been through, and where we hope to go. Maybe that was a little too much for fate to handle...a little too much joy and far too less drama for fate to turn a blind-eye and let our anniversary drive go smoothly without any unfortunate events.

About 2 1/2 hours down the road we stopped in a little town for a bathroom break and to get some snacks and drinks for the kids. Everyone back in car seats and seat belts, movie started, and we ventured off for the second half of our trip. Just outside of town something went wrong. Our vehicle was struggling...to move! Hubby revs the engine...nothing but high RPM's and a lot of noise. Do you know that feeling? You know...the one where it's 20 below zero, no cell phone coverage because it's the middle of nowhere and the can-you-hear-me-now guy hasn't made it to our remote area yet, my babies are in the backseat unaware of the dilemma we faced, and the car......won't.....move! Plus it's our anniversary!!! "Happy Anniversary babe! We most likely need a new transmission, I don't know how we are going to get our family home, and I think we are going to get an overdraft charge for that candy and soda we just bought. We don't have any extra money for Christmas presents...let alone a vehicle repair. We charged the gas for this trip. And I can't possible afford a card, let alone a gift, for our anniversary. But I love you!" It's not the most secure and confident in my future that I've ever been, to say the least.

Oh, and here is the irony in the whole situation. The town we are now stranded in, the town that we are indeed finding ourselves penniless and without a moving vehicle, the town that now symbolizes what our lives have been like post-war; that town's name is.......................... "Faith". Yep, "Faith". At the moment I didn't find any humor, or comfort for that matter, in the name. I actually thought it was s sick twisted way for the Lord-my savior, the One I am to put all of my trust into-to make a point. I realize everything happens for a reason and blah, blah, blah. But our reality at that point was zero money, zero transportation, a struggling marriage, and lots and lots of tears threatening to emerge.

Luckily, another soldier and his girlfriend were also traveling our way. They generously loaded us up into their vehicle and carted us back to our abode leaving our vehicle parked in "Faith". It was a long, silent drive home with fears, concerns, worries all racing through our heads. We weren't even making ends meet....it was more like we were getting them just close enough to bob our heads out of the water to catch a quick breath before being pulled back under again. Needless to say, it was a disheartening position in which to find ourselves.

When you have nowhere else to go but up...up seems to be the most logical direction to head . However, sometimes "up" requires help, prayer, and a little faith. My parents offered the help paying for our vehicle to be repaired...and they answered our prayers by getting our boys some Christmas gifts (including those from Santa) because they weren't getting any otherwise. And "Faith", although our lowest point, seemed to put us on the direct path to "up" where blessings abound, post-war turmoil ended, and happiness was reinstated.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tunnel Closed. Use Alternate Route.

I've had 4 kiddos...so my ob/gyn is well versed in the very personal idiosyncrasies of my female anatomy. By the pregnancy of #4 it's really "been there, done that" for both of us. I mean, he's already seen and explored more than possibly my hubby has, and he's definitely discussed and examined more of my "areas" than I would care to remember.

Pregnancy is such an invasion of privacy. My delicate areas, I soon learned with baby #1, were no longer mine...indeed, they were now property of the medical team. Property that needs to be examined, felt, touched, maneuvered, pulled, stitched, checked, checked again, checked again (seriously, I just had a baby; I could use some sleep!) and in 6 weeks checked again! You tend to lose some of your modesty with each child that you are blessed to bear.

As I had said earlier, my doctor has now been privileged to investigate my "tunnel" on several memorable occasions. I'm sure it was just as meaningful to him as it was to me. And after 4 pregnancies, I had learned to somewhat detach myself from my tendency to be Prudence McPrude, and started to view my appointments as social time to be enjoyed rather than dreaded. Of course, I still made sure my girl bits were in tip-top shape and always presentable. One still wants to make a good impression! I mean, I don't want my doctor to think I'm letting myself go or anything...I definitely don't want to be the one he laughs about at the OB/GYN conventions! 3 babies may have already shot out of this tunnel, but it's still valuable property, and I treat it as such.

Now, I'm sure you have all been sitting in that paper gown with nothing but your full glory underneath when the nurse comes in to ask if the medical student shadowing your doctor can be present during your appointment. This is the point where my butt-crack starts to sweat, my heart beat thuds so loudly I can't hear myself stutter, and even the baby starts to wiggle with a little apprehension which is now giving me the urge to fart. I don't generally introduce myself to strangers with this particular area of my anatomy...I mean, "Hi. Nice to meet you. You look about 17 years old...would you like to check my tunnel!" So from somewhere inside me I mustered the strength to say, "No thank you" with an uncomfortable little chuckle and awkward smile. To my relief, the nurse leaned in close and said, "I wouldn't either" . Whew! So I'm not the only crazy lady out there that doesn't say hello with the glory of my vagina!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day

Since hubby is in the National Guard, we receive a magazine for the national guard soldier and family called, "Foundations". The November/December issue had something I would like to share on this Veteran's day. Regrettably, it isn't written by me, although I truly wish it had been. Nonetheless, here is the:

 "Recipe for an Army Wife"

1 1/2 cups  patience
1 lb. adaptability
3/4 cup tolerance
1 tsp. courage
A dash of adventure

Combine above ingredients. Add two tablespoons elbow grease.
Let sit alone for one year.
Marinate frequently with salty tears.
Pour off excess fat and sprinkle ever so lightly with money.
Knead dough until payday. Season with a lot of
international spices. Bake for 20 years or longer, until done.
Serve with pride!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This Path Is Not Easy

No, this path is not easy. Accepting the Lord as my savior was freeing and full of grace and mercy. However, following and being bound by my faith proves to be strenuous, difficult and even hurtful at times. The call of a christian is not an easy one. I think many view it as a protective umbrella that we "Christians" use- lip service, if you will. We throw the label of "christian" around so often and in such a general way that it has somehow lost its power. I, too, used to view the "Christian" as simply a belief system that provided me with a little fire insurance-a way of having asbestos lined underwear, you might say, to insure my safety from the fiery pits of Hell.

No, this path is not easy. I have come to learn that carrying the load and responsibility of the position of "christian" is not always comfortable, is not always appealing, is not always rosy. By walking this path, I have opened myself and my family up to ridicule, heartache, and constant defense of our beliefs. Is it not easier to hate than to offer forgiveness before it is requested? Is it not easier to spat the ugliness and anger of how we feel justifying the validity and worth of our emotions and point of view than it is to be still and silent and guided with our words through prayer? That which makes me human, which makes me fallible and sinful in nature, is what I am called to resist, to overcome, to rise above.....all the while knowing that I am a sinner and will fail...daily.

No, this path is not easy. At times we walk alone, against the flow of society, in a different direction of those we love. But if we are following God's plan, His laws, and His voice then we see the light beckoning us from our sin. But at times, does it not sound condescending when we hear someone say, "I'll pray for you" or "God doesn't give you more than you can handle"? That very lip service too which I alluded seems disingenuous and far less than empathetic. I know. I've felt that way...I've said those phrases...I've rolled my eyes at that "christian" who spoke of a "changed heart" and "never being the same". But until I knew-really knew-Jesus and walked and talked with Him I couldn't possibly understand what being a "christian" meant, entailed, required....offered.

No, this path is not easy....but I choose Him, I choose to humble myself and rise above my pride and my sinful tongue to touch the feet of Jesus. I choose to be chastised for my beliefs from ones I love to bow before my Lord when He calls me home. I choose to defend my decisions with Bible verses to spend eternity praising my Father. I choose to teach my boys to overcome evil and stand up to bullies in order to hear "well done good and faithful servant".

No, this path is not easy....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Middle Of The Night "Service"

The experience of your first baby is always...life changing. It doesn't matter how many baby, nursing, new mommy/daddy classes you attend, nothing truly prepares you for the jolt of reality about to smash you in the face when you bring baby home....no nurses or nursery, no adult to take over the night shift, no magic cream to make your nipples stop hurting, no yanna beninee spray to make your "area" feel better, and no secret weapon to make that baby sleep! Your on your own.

I was falsely lead to believe that daddy and mommy should share the responsibility of waking with the baby from the hours of midnight to 8 am. It seemed very logical to me that we would take turns even if I was nursing the young Prince. In my mind, it only seemed fair for daddy to bring baby to mommy (I'm super sore, remember) and burp and change him in between nursing on each side. Daddy could then help get little man back to sleep and into his crib, and we could crash into bed together once that was accomplished. Even as I am saying it, I feel sorry for the rooky who has this belief. What....a....load....of....crap!

Baby......is mommy's job especially in the wee hours of the night. Needless to say, I didn't take too kindly to this way of thinking. And on more than one occasion I'm sure I "accidentally" woke sweet sleeping hubby during the process of attending to baby; especially since I rescued my newborn from daddy's slumbering comatose body one of our first nights home. Baby has NEVER been in our bed since!

I woke in the painful hours of the night to crying baby and brought him to our bed to proceed with nursing, burping, changing, nursing, burping, lulling to sleep-it's quite the process! Daddy, however, was not in the bed which was puzzling. We had a tiny apartment (we were 19 and 20 people!); there wasn't anywhere for him to go to escape middle-of-the-night baby noise. But playing hide-and-seek with daddy would have to wait. Baby demands attention NOW!

Once I had successfully gotten baby satisfied and sleeping sweetly again, I went on a hunt for hubby (actually, we weren't married yet; so technically I was searching for my baby-daddy). I tiptoed as to not...make...any...noise to our living room -  first-baby mistake a lot of rookies make  - where I find my baby-daddy fully reclined in the lazy boy (indeed!) "au natural", TV blinking in the darkness, sound asleep. Of course, it was my duty to wake him from that sweet sleep and demand to know what he was doing. He was clueless as to how, why, what, and I was too tired-and annoyed-to bother. As he stammered clumsily to the bed he did an about-face and headed toward the bathroom. Whatever, I'm going to bed.

He made a lot of noise in there with the drawers and sounds of objects being moved, but I didn't bother to see what that fool was doing. I finally heard the toilet flush, and he came stumbling to bed. I didn't give it a second thought as to what he could have possibly been doing in the bathroom...other than the obvious.

However, in the morning I was enlightened as to the extent of my soon-to-be-hubby's craziness when he is awakened from his slumber! The contents of my bathroom drawers were lined up neatly along the edge of my bathtub....and there in my empty vanity drawer.....was my baby-daddy's pee! Yes, pee! Not only did he remove all of my things (thank you for that, though), pee-ed in the drawer, but then he flushed! I remember the flush in the middle of the night because I thought it was going to wake my precious Prince that I just got back to sleep (remember this is my first baby and when he slept NO NOISE was made). That fool pee-ed in my drawer and then flushed the toilet!! 

Of course, he doesn't remember any of it...from me waking him from his in-the-buff slumber in our chair to the urinating in my drawer...none of it sparks any part of his memory. This is not the last time that he will be crazy and inexplicable in the middle of the night but those experiences can be shared on a later date. I, however, have learned to make sure he is good and awake before requesting his assistance, movement, or otherwise "services" in the middle of the night.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Things That Make Me Go Hmmmmmm

* Where do the missing socks go?
*  I am the only member in my family who seems to get my dirty clothes into the laundry baskets. Maybe they truly are invisible. And maybe I really do have super powers.
* I put that precious item in a place I knew I would never forget.....and for the life of me I can't remember where that unforgettable place is.
* Didn't I just pick up these toys?
* Someone must be hiding the dirty underwear because it's never in the laundry.
* A little person inevitably needs my assistance the moment my naked posterior is placed onto its throne.
* This is also true when I am desperatly trying to watch "my show".
* A freshly scrubbed floor demands a spill.
*  A family picture always has an unhappy participant.
* When we are in a hurry or running late, chaos and mayhem lurk around every corner.
* The new recipe I worked on all day is "digustin".
* On the weekends when you can actually sleep in, the kids get up earlier than they do on school days.
* When it rains..........it pours.