Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On the Hazards of Being Sick While Pregnant

First trimester = sicky all the time.

I gag at the smell of coffee, can't stand the thought of eating chocolate, and can only handle a small sip of water at a time. Everything I do manage to eat has a terrible, bitter aftertaste. Even when I don't eat there's a bitter taste in my mouth that only seems to get drowned by Big Red or by hot sauce.

So. Hot sauce on everything.

That's right, hash browns, burritos, on my sandwiches. Whatever it takes to BURN the awful taste out of my mouth.

And then, right around the 8 week mark I came down with a lovely stomach bug that my kids gave me so generously. And then I was preggie-sicky AND sicky-sicky.

Some of the highlights of that weekend:

1. Just before the rest of the family got sick, I was giving the youngest her "after-sicky" bath, ran out to the kitchen for a minute and came back to find that the little monster had gotten out of the tub, grabbed EVERY single towel off the shelf: washcloths, hand towels, bath towels, and threw them in the tub, where she happily jumped back in to "swim with her friends". Of course, when the other kids started throwing up that night and the towels were still in the wash, this made clean up all that more... fun.

2. Somewhere between when the older two got the bug and when I got the bug, Emmy managed to get a hold of a nice bright shade of pink fingernail polish and decorate the bathroom with it. Luckily, fingernail polish remover DOES remove polish from porcelain. It also removes paint from walls. Just so you know.

3. Emmy also decided, on the morning my stomach was at its worst, to take my husband's cologne and spray it on the cat. Yes, it may be my favorite "Date Night" cologne, the cologne he wore the day we got married, but I am quite certain I will never feel the same again about this cologne.

So yes, that was a lovely time in my life right there. The morning sickness returned as soon as the puking let up.

There has been something about this pregnancy that makes me wonder at times if it's ever going to end - the sicky part, I mean. Of course I know how the pregnancy will end - with pain, agony, and hours upon hours of back labor! Even though I'm now in the second trimester, it hasn't quite let up yet.

Maybe it's just the cold weather. It seems to make the nausea that much worse. I can never seem to get warm, no matter how much I bundle up or how often I hug the stove. It's like the shivering starts shaking up the juices in my tummy and next thing I know, I'm gagging over the kitchen sink.

And apparently I'm a loud gagger. The kids think it's hilarious.

"Are you puking again, mom?", they ask between giggles.

It's like someone is reaching inside and wrenching out my insides. Why is this funny?

And the kids - they're like sharks. They smell blood. They know I'm not on top of my game, and boy do they love to take advantage of it.

Take for instance, this past weekend - when I came down with a sinus infection. (what IS it with me and being SICK?!)

After two days in bed, trying to recover some energy before the week started, I finally ran out to the store to get a few needed groceries. I thought about sending Colby with a list, but I really didn't want to be left alone with the kids. I knew they'd think up some devious way to take advantage of the situation.

Little did I know.

I came back to find my husband outside happily wielding his snowblower on the driveway.

Hmm.. I thought. Wonder what the kids are up to.

I walked inside to find puzzles and games spread out all over the living room floor and kids helping themselves to a snack of apples.

I barked at them to clean up their mess while I brought in the groceries. Colby was still smiling from the back of the snowblower.

After putting away the groceries and overseeing the cleanup in the living room, the kids went upstairs to play and I started getting dinner ready - an hour later than usual. By then I was tired and ready to go back to my nice warm, snuggy bed and forget about dinner altogether.

I looked out the window. By then Colby was chopping our week's supply of wood and stacking it in the back room for me.

Normally I'm really appreciative of all these things he does for me, but that day I was just savagely chopping the vegetables and grumbling under my breath about him not helping me where I needed it the most that day.

And then... from somewhere above me I heard the unmistakable sound of Emmy.



Now, don't get me wrong when I say this, but... she has a tendency to...overreact. A lot. I don't always jump and run whenever I hear her cry. It's almost always a false alarm.

But this time there was a little bit of something that sort of sounded like - PANIC!!

Oh dear, I thought, as I ran up the stairs. What on earth could it be this time?

And there, perched precariously at the top of the stairs, was a duffle bag and next to it were standing TWO of my children. Muffled screams were coming from the bag. Quickly glancing over the situation, I saw exactly what the problem was: where the zipper should have been, there was a big clump of HAIR.

I grabbed up the bag and carried it down the stairs, reassuring Emmy that she really was okay and I was going to fix it in a jiffy. I set her down in the living room and ran for my sewing scissors, then snipped off the big clump that was keeping the zipper stuck.

Zoop! Out she came, hot, sweaty, and very badly needing a big hug. She was scared. They were all scared, and after a stern bit of consequences for the one that zipped her in there, we all had a long talk about the seriousness of putting yourself or someone else in a situation where they could get trapped. I think I got a few more gray hairs just talking with them about it.

In my tired state of being, I set them up with a video before finally realizing I had food still on the stove. Burnt by now, of course.

Colby came in right about the time I was starting to cry, and went in to check on the kids. I hadn't even told him yet what had happened with Emmy when he walked back in to the kitchen with my sewing scissors and a clump of hair.

"Honey," he said, "leaving scissors out is not a very good idea."

My first thought was that he'd found the clump of Emmy's hair I'd cut earlier. I was just about the snap at him something about not needing to talk to me like I was a simpleton just because I am pregnant and sometimes cant find my brain.

And then I remembered I'd left the scissors RIGHT THERE on the couch! Oh.

"Elayna was cutting her hair..."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Moses and the Stay at Home Mom - Part 2

Ah yes. Moses.

How on earth will this be relevant to me?, I thought as I flipped open the new lesson study last quarter at church. I've read the stories of Moses and the children of Israel to my children hundreds of times, read the boring liturgy of begats and statistics over and over, and well, I was hoping for something a little more... thought provoking.. than a study of the book of Numbers.

Boy, was I wrong. As my husband is an intermittent teacher of the adult class, we found ourselves often spending hours studying, debating, and learning. And the more I learned, the more I wanted to know! Suddenly its relevance was so startlingly transparent I wondered where my mind had been for the past 30 years.

Moses had, indeed, humble beginnings. We all know the story of the basket boat and the daughter of Pharaoh that discovered him - leaving him ultimately with his own mother until he could come to live with her in the palace and begin his education.

And WHAT an education!! He was favored by Pharaoh himself and was primed to rise to the role of successor to the throne. Pharaohs were not only rulers, they were also believed to be gods! How rough! The people saw him not only as potential ruler, but potential god to be worshiped. And so his education left nothing to be desired. Egypt at that time was the most advanced civilization then known to the world, the most powerful force with riches and armies to prove it. He was an apt student, beloved of the royal family, and of the men he led in battle as General of the greatest army in the world.

At 40 years old, he was in the beginning of the prime of his life. Unmarried, physically fit, highly educated, and in direct line for the throne, he must have been quite a catch and I'm sure attracted a LOT of attention from the ladies. Respected by his peers for his mental abilities and his prowess at leading the men in battles, his life, I'm sure, was filled with accolades, recognition, praise, you name it.


Pride grew somewhere in his heart, took root, and gave him the illusion that all he needed to be the leader God wanted him to be was given to him in the training of the courts and palace halls, in the connections and the military training he already had.

Boy, was he wrong.

But how? How could a man with that kind of training and education NOT be ready to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and to the promised land? What was missing? What could POSSIBLY be missing?

He was soon to find out.

His pride led him to presumption, and he found himself soon so far removed from his world of comfort and popularity that it must have seemed like a horrible mistake. But it wasn't a mistake at all.

For the next 40 years, long enough to make him think he had probably been mistaken about his calling to free his people, he herded sheep. In the wilderness.

There were no servants to dress him, clean up after him, or inform him of the latest advances of the army. No women chasing him, no doting pharaoh to make him and everyone around him believe he could do no wrong.

In fact, for the first time in his life, he probably had women snickering at him as he blundered around with trying to herd the sheep those first few months. Survival became more of a day to day reality. No pampering, no food and water waiting patiently for him whenever he came home.

Talk about humbling.

He spent the years, seasons in, seasons out, learning to gently lead his sheep, become a husband and father, survive in very simple surroundings, and rely ONLY on God for his true needs.

He doubled his age. 40 years of education and training, 40 years of learning the rest of the lessons God needed him to learn. Humility. Self-sacrifice. Humility. Patience with those weaker than him. Humility. Long-suffering. That popularity means nothing in the eyes of God.

Then, and ONLY then, was Moses ready for God to use him in the capacity necessary for the job at hand. Both his early education and his later education were led by God, for specific purposes. God's timing was not what Moses, or his mother, or what we today would expect, but nonetheless it was perfect.

Think about it. How often do we, as modern women, place so much value on our education, our book learning, our image, our ability to present ourselves as learned and intelligent beings in front of our peers, that we forget that our time in college may not be all God has in store for our education.

How often have we heard from other people that those of us who choose to stay at home with our children instead of pursuing a fulfilling career elsewhere have "wasted our potential". Yes, I have heard those very words used to describe my own life. And coming from such a dear person as they did, it was incredibly hard for me at times not to BELIEVE them.

Now I KNOW I have not wasted my potential. There is no harder job to do than to raise children to have self-respect, to love their neighbor, and to serve God with their whole hearts. I often make mistakes. There is hardly an employee handbook to follow word for word, though keeping the Word of God open and in use is a good start! Even Moses at times flung his hands in the air and wished he could take a break from the constant whining of his "children". Even Moses made mistakes. And if he could do so after such thorough education and humility training over a span of 80 years, I'd be crazy if I thought I were always going to be the perfect parent.

Now I know that there is more to learn that what is available in all the books of the entire world. Maybe what God needs me to learn is more patience, more self-sacrifice, more humility. For certainly there is humility in performing the necessary duties of this life with faithfulness. Especially when they are incredibly, mind-numbingly simple. It doesn't stretch my mind to wash the dishes when I've done it a million times before. There is no mental stimulation in the folding of the laundry, or the changing of diapers.

Now I know there is much, much more to life, to salvation, to education, than stretching my mind and expanding my realm of influence and status in the world. Sometimes there is just the strengthening and fortifying of the soul through humbling acts of service to little people who cannot know or appreciate the self-sacrifice that goes into each and every stroke of the broom, swiping of the rag over a dirty table, or careful hanging up of a little church dress.

Yet my example in the faithfulness of these little things is of utmost importance to their little hearts and souls. Through example they learn. How humbling is that knowledge? To know that even the mindless things I do, that make me scream inside for the stimulation of an adult conversation when I've been cooped up for days in the winter with small children, has eternal consequences.

Yes, now is the time I feel like I am wandering in the wilderness, wondering if my education has gone to waste, wondering if I will remember how to think when I again have the opportunity. But now I feel blessed, secure that I am exactly where God wants me to be, learning the things He knows I need to learn.

This IS the continuing of my education. And education is NEVER wasted!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Moses and the Stay at Home Mom - Part 1

When I was a kid in school, sometime around 6th grade they started this program called "I'm Okay, You're Okay". And yes, it was as hokey as it sounded. It was all about the importance of self-esteem. My parents were less than thrilled, yet it was hard to put a finger on exactly what was wrong with the program when all we did was go on field trips and do 'team work' exercises and sit around talking about how we felt.

Now we have books about how detrimental the "self-esteem" movement has been on our society. As one author, Jill Rigby, so aptly put it in her book, Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World, "We replaced Self-Respect with Self-Esteem".

What's the difference? According to Abraham J. Heschel, "Self-Respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself."

In today's world, our generation has traded self-respect for the fleeting impostor of self-esteem and seems oblivious to the way this effects their feelings of contentment and well-being. Instead of a sense of self that reflects their place in God's family or even their carrying out of responsibilities and how they conduct themselves in the world and within their significant relationships, they base it on the praise of others or worse yet, their level of popularity.

And why not? We PAY the people who win the popularity contests. We pay them millions of dollars to entertain us with their popularity.

So where, in this world of popularity contests and screaming for recognition and attention, does the stay at home mom fit?

It's like a square peg in a round hole, let me tell you.

There is no paycheck at the end of the week. No overtime accrued. No bonus at the end of the year for what you've contributed to the company. No medals awarded for going "above and beyond".

There is no boss to give quarterly reviews, raises, or awards in front of a clapping audience of colleagues.

The moments that strike you as measurable progress in your job are so few and far between it's nearly impossible NOT to get discouraged at times.

Instead, there is monotony. And for most, that quickly turns to drudgery.

The dishes that must be done, and done again, and again, and again. The same goes for the endless laundry, the toilets that get amazingly dirty in incredibly short amounts of time. There is breakfast, lunch, and dinner EVERY day of the week.

There are no vacations. EVER.

There is no one to say, "Good Job!" When you don't run screaming from the room when you child smears poop all over the walls.

There is just... this deafening silence in the place of all that praise, recognition, and feedback you've learned to expect.

So very many women can't handle the silence. I can't blame them. If it weren't for an incredibly supportive spouse that is as committed to my job here at home as I am, I'd be crazy by now.

It is so very lonely. Much more lonely than I every imagined such a busy life could be.

I'm always looking for ways to learn, grow, content myself with where I am now, but always remember that it is fleeting, these days here with the monotony. My kids will be taking care of themselves before I know it, gone will be the baby days, the cutting up of the food, and the round-and-around struggles with potty training.

They'll need me in a totally different way, and will I be ready for that? Probably no more ready for that stage than I was for this - but I have to try!

And how does this relate at all to Moses?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

An Amazing Story to Share

I felt, at the time of Joshua's surgery, that we had all been through the ringer. It was a difficult time for the whole family, and it took us a while to come to terms with the changes in our life and for our son.

He had been through major surgery, known real pain and fear for the first time in his life, and aside from the recovery and meds he was on for a time, he also lost a great deal of his control over his vocal chords. That change was permanent. His bones healed, his meds were eventually stopped. But his voice will never be the same. The bright, vibrant tone was gone, and in its place was a breathy, hard-to-hear ghost of his former voice. I missed his loudness. I missed his singing "Jesus Loves Me".

But as time passed and the memory of his little boy voice faded, his strength returned greater than before, his meds were discontinued as his checkups returned a clean bill of health, and I realized how very, very blessed we are that his heart condition does not require constant monitoring, constant meds, or constant care.

Today I was catching up on some online reading and researching and came across a link to this blog: It is the story of a mother who gave birth to her second child expecting perfect health and was surprised by a special needs baby.

And I counted my blessings all over again. I can relate - as a mom, as a mother of a boy whose health was not perfect. But in reality, I relate to her only on a baby scale, only in the tiniest of perceptions.

This mother's story is powerful, evocative, and inspiring. Get out the BIG box of tissues - and get ready to be inspired.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

There We Were

So there we were, flying through the parking lot of Wal-Mart, when the thought struck me: is THIS something that could get me on

I guess I have to back up a little ways.

I've always hopped on the back of the cart when we leave a store with a cart full of stuff and ridden it down the parking lot to the car. Even better if there's a bit of a slope and I can reach down with one foot and "paddle" our way to an even faster ride! The kids love it. Somewhere in the back of my mind I realize that I don't actually see other mothers doing this in parking lots, but usually I don't give it another thought. It's totally their own fault if they can't see the little ways to make life as a mom a little more fun!

But on Tuesday, I noticed out of the corner of my eye something flying behind us as we rode down Aisle "B" of the Wal-Mart parking lot. What in the world? I thought.



As I hopped down to come to a stop behind our car, I furtively glanced around for any tell-tale signs of a cell-phone camera being pointed in my direction.

Thankfully I didn't see any. But you never know. People can be pretty sneaky with their cell phones.

So.. about the feathers...

Earlier that morning we were hurriedly getting ready to take Josh to school. His school day starts at 7:30, and it takes better than 20 minutes to get there, so we always leave well before dawn.

And in that pre-dawn darkness I hadn't noticed that my littlest had gone to "get warm" by the stove after I'd put her coat on her and had stood just a teensy bit too close.

And melted the back of her coat.

Freeing hundreds of thousands of little bits of goose down.

The goose down took their opportunity at freedom and ran with it. Throughout the house, in and around everything, and danced around the broom every time I'd try to sweep them up.

But that was much later.

Because at first I didn't notice the hole. Or the feathers.

Out the door we went, hustling the kids into the car and into their seatbelts. I grabbed up little Elayna and plunked her into the car seat, and it was the cloud of feathers puffing up from behind her that made me pull her back out for a closer examination.

Hmm.... well, there was nothing I could do at that moment to remedy the situation before we needed to leave. I thought about duck tape, but didn't have any close by, so, I buckled her in her seat, feathers flying and all, and off we went.

Later that morning we switched around various hand-me-down coats and headed off to do our errands and hit up Wal-Mart.

We now have a SUPER Wal-Mart, which means I can go to ONE place and get my groceries AND cheap Pull-Ups! I kinda miss Target, though.

Anyway, after chasing the goose down around the house for an hour and finally wetting the broom and attacking each piece trying desperately to escape me, I realized as I buckled the girls back in their seats that I had neglected to clean the feathers out of the car.

Hmm... great.

Oh well, I'm not going to do it now, I thought to myself, it's not THAT bad.

I regretted that a bit as we left bits of goose down throughout Wal-Mart. I tried to brush it off the back of her, but there was always MORE! And MORE! Where are these things COMING from?!

I really thought I'd gotten it all by the time we left, surreptitiously depositing them in various aisles and not all in one place, but the stream of feathers as we flew through the parking lot said otherwise.

Ah... Freedom! Cold snowy air blowing on my face as I ride the cart down the parking lot, girls giggling in front of me, feathers flying behind me...

I may not be able to go back there for a while.

Eh, oh well! I guess that day my redneck side was showing. At least there wasn't duck tape on the coat, people!

P.S. Please let me know if I show up on peopleofwalmart, okay?


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