Monday, October 4, 2010

diet hell

Ben and I began a new program last week called Take Shape for Life. I've been asking the Lord to show me ways to honor my husband, and when he wanted to try this weight-management program, I thought, "Hurray! What a great opportunity for me to show him how much I respect and honor him! This will be fabulous and life-affirming and team-building!"

Oh, golly.

We have survived almost one week on an 1100-calorie-a-day diet of basically really horrible food (no offense, Medifast) that brings us absolutely zero pleasure. I've been lethargic, exhausted, fuzzy-headed, depressed, irritable, and HUNGRY. So, so hungry. Five seconds after I finish a "meal," I'm starving again. When we're not feeling suicidal or homicidal, we're just bummed, and thinking about food. I'm told that one of these mornings I will wake up with an amazing amount of energy and motivation and will know that I have entered the mythical "fat-burning" phase of the program, and that my pesky ten to fifteen extra pounds will begin to melt away, and that I will no longer feel insatiably, unconsolably starving. I'm clinging to that promise.

I am learning some things. I'm beginning to understand my rather unhealthy relationship with food. It appears that I took enormous pleasure in food, because there's a significant hole in my life where cheese and ice cream used to reside. I'm beginning to think about eating deliberately and purposefully, which is new. I've never struggled much with my weight (which is wholly the blessing of good genes), but I was becoming an extremely undisciplined eater. If nothing else, going through this experience should help me to make better choices when it comes to my health.

But seriously... I want a cookie.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

falling short

Every evening, before I go to bed, I imagine that the next day will go something like this:

6:30 Rise and shine! Have a half-hour of intimate Bible study and worship followed by an invigorating workout. Shower, get dressed. Maybe a cute sundress, jewelry, sandals. Do hair. Put on makeup. Take many vitamins.

8:00 Greet children warmly and cheerfully. Take Eli to the potty, dress him in real underwear, confident that it will be the only pair he wears today. Get children dressed.

8:30 Make nutritious breakfast - maybe blueberry pancakes or oatmeal and whole-grain toast. Fresh fruit, of course. Give Eli a cup of plain milk, which he will happily drink. Empty the dishwasher and reload the breakfast dishes. Be thankful that I took the time to clean the kitchen the night before. Marvel at how efficiently my morning is humming along.

9:00 Take completely prepared diaper bag and neatly dressed and groomed children out to the car. Run five or six errands with great efficiency, using coupons and reusable grocery totes. Listen to upbeat Kids' Mix on my ipod and enjoy as Eli sings along to every song. Dispense one - only one - nutritious snack. Make multiple potty stops, and marvel at how Eli is dry at every one of them!

11:30 Make spontaneous stop at the playground. Fountains? No problem! Grab pre-packed "Park Bag" from back of the car, stocked with sunscreen, swim clothes, towels, and snacks. Lazily talk on the phone with sister-in-law while the boys happily play in the fountain and the play gym. Smile proudly as Eli plays nicely with other children, although of course, I'm not surprised. He's raised really well.

12:30 Home for lunch! Whip up a healthy lunch of whole-wheat pita chips, hummus, cucumbers and fresh fruit. Eat with my children, while Eli regales me with joyful tales from the park and tells me about numbers, letters, colors, and shapes. Which he knows. Weave important life lessons into the conversation, which are instantly imprinted into his mind and heart.

1:00 Nap time! Smile approvingly as Eli poops in the potty in two minutes flat. Put children to bed. Clean house (according to well-prepared cleaning schedule), check email, read several chapters of an engrossing novel, and paint toenails. Marvel at how wisely I am using my time.

3:30 Get children up from naps (warmly, again). Engage children in any one of the following enriching activities: Art Time (from the well-stocked Art Time box), Pretend Play, Outdoor Play, Nature Walk, Letters and Sounds, Tumbling and Fitness. Approach impending dinner time with complete calm and ease.

5:00 Time to make dinner! Feel absolutely no panic as I consult my weekly menu, find all necessary (fresh!) ingredients in the refrigerator and pantry, and whip up an innovative and nutritionally dense meal that the whole family will love. Take a few moments to sweep through the living room and put away toys, and touch up hair and makeup in the mirror, in anticipation of hubby's arrival home.

6:00 Welcome husband home with warm smile, inviting hug, and a cold beverage. Sit down together to enjoy delicious meal and stimulating conversation about our day. After dinner, quickly clean the kitchen.

7:30 Bathe children and get them ready for bed. Read a variety of books together, then spend several minutes in prayer, enjoying how much Eli loves to pray on his own. Put children to bed, knowing that they will go to sleep immediately and sleep soundly in their beds.

8:00 Spend an hour with hubby, enjoying our favorite tv show. Eat one single ounce of dark chocolate, and marvel at how much it satisfies me. Glamorously drink a glass of red wine.

9:00 Sweep and mop kitchen floor, start dishwasher, and clean out and repack diaper bag and all "just in case" bags for the next day.

9:30 Wash face thoroughly. Use luxurious eye cream to pamper my tired, puffy eyes. Read in bed for half an hour, turn out the lights, and fall into a deep, restful sleep.

Sounds nice, doesn't it?

Here's how it turns out:

6:30 Through drug-like fog caused by taking a sleeping pill after tossing and turning half the night, hear alarm go off. Hit snooze twice. Turn alarm off and determine to get up early tomorrow.

8:00 Hear Eli pounding on his bedroom door. Stumble into the bathroom, brush teeth, and pull hair into a ponytail. Begin praying for strength.

8:15 Greet Eli with a half-smile and barely-open eyes. Whisper, "Are you poopy?" The answer, of course, is yes. Change poopy diaper while Eli screams for his diaper rash medicine. Drag him, kicking and screaming, into the bathroom to pee in the potty, which, he claims, he cannot do. "My penis is broken, Mommy." Put on his underwear. Make mental note that he is running out of clean underwear. Again. Determine that tomorrow, we will stay home all day, every day, until he finishes potty training. Get Lucas.

8:45 Take kids downstairs. Struggle to open eyes while slicing a banana. Give kids cereal and bananas. Give Eli juice because milk is simply not worth the battle. Determine that starting tomorrow, he will not whine about juice. Eat my cereal in the dark, on the couch, half-comatose. use couch cushion as a shield to hide behind. Continue praying for strength.

9:00 Begin getting ready for the day. Dress in sweats and a tank top. Put on running shoes and hope that people think I was just working out. Try to make bangs work, give up, and pin them back. Put on mascara so that people don't wonder if I have lazy eyes. Listen to Lucas cry downstairs and wonder which type of bodily harm Eli has inflicted upon him. Determine to buy the perfect book about three-year-old aggression and put it into practice. Pray for patience.

9:15 Pick outfits for the kids. Try to make presentable outfits out of what clean clothes I can find. Remind myself to start the laundry before we leave the house. Immediately forget. Get the kids dressed and unruly hair tamed. Spend thirty minutes scurrying around the house, packing the diaper bag, forgetting items to pack into diaper bag, making multiple trips upstairs for things I've forgotten. Sit down halfway through and try to make a shopping list, but keep getting distracted by endless whining, crying, brotherly beatdowns, time-outs, and loving lectures that seem to bounce right off my brick wall of a child. Finally get kids into the car, make two or three trips back inside for things I've forgotten, and hope that no one calls the police while my children wail in the car. Feel like I've already lived six days in one morning. Pray... for everything.

10:00 Leave to run errands. Get coffee and marvel at how utterly addicted I am. Wait expectantly for caffeine to kick in (will still be waiting for this hours later). Run three of seven planned errands, due to whining, meltdowns, lack of planning, and total lack of energy. Know that I should stop at the grocery store now, even though I feel like I'm going to drop dead of exhaustion, but make the wholly unwise choice to "just go after naptime."

12:00 Make spontaneous stop at the park. Spend half an hour chasing Lucas, playing referee, giving firm-but-gentle reminders not to hit, giving firm-and-not-so-gentle reminders not to hit, wishing I'd brought snacks, wishing I had more patience, praying for more patience. Realize after half an hour that I forgot to put sunscreen on the kids. Watch as kids get soaked in their clothes because I forgot to put their swim clothes back in the Park Bag. Marvel at how Eli cannot seem to relate to other children on the playground, and swear under my breath at the woman who tells me that I have an adorable baby and a beautiful daughter. Consider tattooing "I AM A BOY" on Eli's chest.

1:00 Drive two naked children home for lunch. Feel hours of mounting frustration settling into my neck as Eli yells, "MOM WHAT IS THAT YOU HAVE TO TURN YOUR HEAD MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM!" for the tenth time in five minutes. Yell at him. Feel terrible for yelling. Pray for a guard over my mouth. Get home and briefly consider leaving them in the car while I take a nap. Throw together any food-like substances I can find that require less than three minutes of preparation, while Lucas cries in his high chair and Eli finds new ways to hurt him. Send Eli to time-out three times in the course of a ten-minute lunch. Sit on the couch, hide from my children, and scarf down a bowl of cereal so that my stomach won't growl during my nap.

1:30 Dump Lucas in his crib and shut the door on his crying. Argue with Eli over using the potty before nap time. Marvel at how he can sit for twenty minutes or more without pooping. Give up and put him to bed. Think about all of the things on my to-do list while I crawl under the covers and pull them over my head.

2:00-4:00 Nap, putter, half-heartedly clean something, watch tv, read trash on the internet. Think about working out. Think about reading my Bible. Think about reading something from the giant stack of overdue library books. Do none of the above. Stare into space. Begin to panic about dinner.

4:00 Get children up, clean up more poop, and spend the next hour playing cars, chasing, wrestling, blowing bubbles, and stare off into space in a daze. Lose my patience with Eli five or six times. Pray for more patience. Marvel at how I can feel so mind-numbingly tired, day after day.

5:30 Realize that it's five-thirty and I have absolutely no plan for dinner. Haul tired, cranky, hungry kids to the grocery store, rack my empty brain to come up with something edible. Spend too much money on one meal because I didn't plan ahead, again. Think about carefully organized coupons, sitting at home on the counter.

6:30 Feed kids frozen corn dogs or chicken nuggets while I start dinner for Ben and me. Eat my dinner alone because Ben has to work late. Take kids for a walk to kill the time before bed because I think if I try to sit down and play with them that I will fall asleep. Or cry.

8:00 Get kids ready for bed. Try to read to Lucas and give up because he won't sit still for two seconds. Let him crawl around Eli's room while I read to Eli and hope that he's getting some of the benefit. Continually remind myself to treasure these days while I try to keep my eyes open. Say a one-minute prayer and marvel at how Eli still refuses to pray on his own. Put Luke to bed. Put Eli to bed, knowing that he will be out of it again in a heartbeat, and will be crying at the door within an hour with a poopy diaper.

8:45 Watch TV in our bedroom while Ben works out in the living room (a good thing, really). Sit and talk with him for a few minutes while he eats his dinner. Get ready for bed, skip washing my face because I'm too tired. Read for five minutes before I can barely stay awake. Attempt to fall asleep without any medication. Feel a migraine coming on, take medication, and fall asleep knowing that I will still feel exhausted in the morning.

This is, generally speaking, how my days unfold. I am amazed at how often and how spectacularly I fall short of my own expectations. Some days are better than others, of course. Most days I accomplish something; every once in awhile I accomplish a lot. I do spend a lot of time with my kids, and I do engage with them - I actually love to play with them, read to them, take walks with them. I know I'm a good mommy, and a good wife, and a "good" Christian. It just feels like I always fall short - a little or a lot. I'm never as organized as I want to be. Never as prepared as I want to be. I never have enough energy - or anywhere near enough. I am always tired. I have headaches every day. I have joint pain and back pain and neck pain, and I feel weary and old. I struggle with my three-year-old's mood swings, battles of the will, aggression toward his brother, and constant - constant - noise - questions, commentary, whining, demands. I struggle with my one-year-old's neediness and dependence. I long for moments to myself, but when I get them, I don't use them well enough. I feel like I waste an enormous amount of time. I know moms with with young children who seem to use every day so productively - they homeschool, they make huge batches of meals, they freeze enough fruit for an army and still make time to put together scrapbooks. I know moms who tackle big projects and see them through to the finish. I never finish a project. I am a serial project-abandoner.

Some days, I feel like an absolute loser. I look at my flabby belly, my messy house, my kid throwing a fit on the floor and think, "Why can't you just get it together?" But I am gently reminded of a God who loves me, and accepts me, in all of my miserable states. In my weaknesses, my shortcomings, my failures - as overwhelming as they may sometimes feel - even when I feel totally worthless, He sings over me. The God of the universe looks at my pitiful self and delights in me. Best of all, He gives me permission to try again. Tomorrow.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Summer has finally arrived in Portland, so we've been taking advantage of our new friend the sun. Lots of trips to the park, playing in fountains, late evening walks, and homemade ice cream.

We took Eli fishing for the first time this weekend. We went to a funny little place called Horning's Hideout in North Plains. It's basically somebody's old house with a giant pond and rambling property. But for $3 you get a pole and some bait, and the "lake" is well-stocked. We brought home seven big, tasty rainbow trout.

Eli tried fishing with Daddy, but he was about as patient as you'd imagine. He was more interested in catching salamanders with the net. Or himself.

Summer makes me so happy. I love every season and I'm so thankful to live in a place where we experience all four. But summer is special. The sounds, the smells, the experiences bring back a flood of happy memories from my childhood. I was raised in rural Idaho (I know, what other kind of Idaho is there?), and I spent summers outdoors. My parents were both teachers, and they loved to travel. We spent weeks at a time traveling the country in our RV. We camped in the beautiful Idaho mountains, fished and swam in the rivers and lakes, drank hot cocoa in our pajamas around the campfire. Something about camping is just... magical.

Close to home, most of the summer days were spent outdoors. We had a big, above-ground pool and I was an absolute fish, swimming and diving and splashing for hours. I've always had a thing for swimming, for bodies of water in general, and chlorine is still one of my favorite smells. We played in the sprinklers and dug in the dirt and took long, late walks in the waning evening light. As a teenager, I loved driving home through the country after dusk, the windows rolled down and the fresh breeze blowing through my old clunker car. The scent of mint and onion fields still transports me back to those lovely summer nights.

As my children grow, I realize how much I long to raise them to be nature lovers. Parks and playgrounds are amazing, and we are blessed with an abundance of them here. But in reality, they are man-made, still an artificial substitute for real, wide-open spaces. It is certainly easier to stay home, watch TV and play in the yard. But I trust that the hassle and effort of planning, packing, hauling, driving - everything it takes to get our family "out there" - is well worth it. I think we are raising our boys to love the outdoors, to find beauty and adventure in tall grass and jagged mountains, in crashing waves and gurgling streams, in ladybugs and snakes and bluejays. And, oh yes, in post-adventure sno-cones. Most definitely in sno-cones.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I stumbled across something yesterday. Completely insignificant, it nonetheless represented a small personal victory. I wanted to share it.

But it was snarky and catty and downright mean.

So I kept it to myself.

All day, I fought the temptation to tell someone. My sister, my husband, my best friend... surely, sharing it with one little person wouldn't matter. Right?

But the Holy Spirit made it clear. No.

As I lay in bed, I almost turned to my husband and blurted it out. "You won't believe --"

But then I thought of Mary. And I decided to "treasure these things in my heart," instead.

And then I smiled in the dark with self-satisfaction.

And then the Lord reminded me that that's really not the point of the verse. And also, that I should probably repent. And then pray for that person. Sincerely.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

a peek inside

A friend recently mentioned that she is sometimes discouraged by "perfect mom" blogs. "Sometimes?" I thought.

So as proof that this blog is written by the most imperfect of women, a sample of my thoughts today. Don't ever be fooled... it is only by His grace that I do anything.

* * * * *
I'm not reading enough with Lucas. I'm not playing enough with Lucas.
He's never going to talk. Or walk. But I should be helping with the talk.
Poor Lucas. Good thing he's cute.
He's not as photogenic as Eli. Sometimes he looks like a really ugly baby in his pictures.
I didn't say that.

Eli won't poop on the potty. A year later, he still won't poop on the potty. I suck.
No, I don't suck. He sucks.
I didn't say that.

I should clip coupons.
I should make a shopping list so I might actually use the coupons.
I should plan meals so I could make the shopping list to use the coupons.
I should get the paper so I would get the coupons.
I spend more on the paper than I save in coupons.
I hate coupons. Screw it.

Where is my Bible?
How I can not know where my Bible is?
When did I last read my Bible?
I really do love God's word.
No, really. Like, I love it.
So why do I find it so stinking hard to read it every day?
Lord, thank you for always showing up.
Thank you for always feeding me.
Thank you for meeting me where I am.
Even when where I am is miles from where you want me.
Even more miles from where I want to be.

I'm not going to read US Weekly ever again.
I'll read my Bible instead.
Maybe I can read it after I read my Bible.
For crying out loud, Alisa. Read a book.

Is there anything good on the DVR?
No. Darn it.
I should clean house instead.
I should fold the laundry. I've dewrinkled that load of t-shirts five times already.
No, I should clean the kitchen. And put away toys.
And organize the toys.
And organize the office.
And clean the bathrooms.
And behind the stove.
Can I even move the stove?
I've got to get up and get busy.
Oooh... Top Chef!

There's the stupid dinosaur book I've been looking for all week.
Eli will be thrilled.
When did the dinosaurs live? I should look it up.
Bless you, Wikipedia.

Eli still doesn't know his colors. Or letters. Or sounds.
And he can't write his name.
Some great teacher I am.
Doesn't matter. He can't go to preschool if he won't poop in the potty.

Lucas is awake. I should get him up to play.
Sometimes I hate playing with my baby. I get bored.
I'm a terrible mother.

I should exercise. As soon as we get home, I'm going to exercise.
When's the last time I exercised? Last Tuesday? Man, that's sad.
Maybe if I exercise, I can have some ice cream.
I should buy some ice cream. Then I'll be motivated to work out.
Or just eat ice cream.

Oh, God, thank you for your grace. I would be lost without it.
Hopeless without it.
Helpless without it.
I can barely function with it, for pete's sake.

Crap, it's five o'clock. What am I going to make for dinner?
I hate cooking dinner.
I love to cook, but I hate cooking dinner. Weird.
No, not weird. Normal. My mom says so.
My mom is great.
I should call her.

Eli's awake. I bet he pooped.

* * * * *

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

confessions of an unfit mother

I came across this article tonight All I can say is, "Finally!" Thank you, thank you, thank you, mystery woman, for being a mother I can relate to. You see, I am That Mom. I am the mom who has left her two young children in the car, doors locked, alarm armed, to go into the grocery store for FIVE MINUTES and buy milk... and have returned to find my car surrounded by several Very Concerned Mothers taking down my license plate number and yelling at me about Who Do I Think I Am?!! Yep, I'm that mom. I'm the mom who doesn't freak out when her baby eats a little dirt, the mom who lets her three-year-old ride his tricycle without a helmet (heck, without shoes), the mom who would let her kids play in the front yard by themselves... if only the neighbors wouldn't call CPS. I'm a mom who insists on "Yes Ma'am" and "May I please?" I'm a mom with spanking spoon.

Don't get me wrong. I am responsible. My kids wear their seatbelts. They sleep on their backs. I hold their hands when we cross the street. They wear helmets in the bike trailer and eat organic fruit and sit far, far away from the television. I am caring, engaged, and conscientious. I am, in fact, a really good mom.

And I, too, am sick of irrational fears being shoved down my throat. The way Nancy Grace tells it, with her nightly BOMBSHELL news, there is little hope that my children won't be abducted and sold into slavery - that is, if I ever let them out of my sight. I realize how much the world has changed since I was a kid, but I desperately want my children to have a taste of the sense of freedom I had. I want to send my son on his bike to a friend's house on a summer evening without immediately playing scenes from The Lovely Bones in my mind. I hate feeling so afraid for them. But I hate even more the pressure that I should feel ten times more afraid, the damning judgment from other mothers who are, clearly, so much better suited to raise my children.

So if you ever see my poor little boys trapped in the car in front of the coffee shop, please, just shake your head and walk on by. You can rant about it later on your blog.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

birthdays, etc.

We celebrated our boys' birthdays in April. Lucas turned one and Eli turned three (and I turned 25, again) within days of each other. We threw them a joint birthday party in the park. We had to reschedule the party and move to a new location at the last minute, so we were thankful for flexible and understanding friends. The theme of the party was Up!, my favorite animated movie ever.

My darling husband, who is known for fairly elaborate birthday cakes, upped the ante by about 150% with his Up house cake. He stayed up all night before the party (with the help of his brother - thanks, Matt) to bring his grand vision to life.

It really was amazing. If orthodontics doesn't work out, I think he could give the Ace of Cakes guy a run for his money.

It's such a cliche, but it really is so hard to believe how quickly my guys are growing. Eli is at a really fun age. Full of questions (and questions, and questions), developing a real sense of humor, learning and understanding new things at lightning speed, and saying so many funny things that I have to jot them down in my phone to share them with Ben every night. Eli loves to read (WIN), and loves to play outside. The kid would live in our driveway if he could. Since our acreage leaves a little to be desired, we spend lots of time park-hopping around the west suburbs. Our favorite parks are Bethany Meadows ("Pirate Park"), Magnolia, and Rood Bridge. One of the greatest things about the Portland area is the amazing abundance of parks, playgrounds, and green spaces. There seems to be a park of some kind on every block. Eli got a tricycle for his birthday and loves to ride it (although he prefers scooting to pedaling). We also gave ourselves a family birthday gift and bought a bike trailer, which has quickly become an oft-requested activity.

Luke's first year of life flew by. He is crawling, pulling up on furniture, babbling, and getting into everything. Lucas is a pretty happy baby, but decidedly more high-maintenance than Eli. He wants to be held and played with all the time. Eli was always content to play by himself for long periods of time - Luke, not so much. The evenings (and by evening, I mean from the moment he wakes up from nap until the moment he goes to bed), he cries this really annoying, fussy, whiny cry any time he isn't getting attention or food. Sometimes I feel like a zookeeper, tossing food at him to keep him happy while I cook, clean, entertain Eli, and occasionally try to talk to my husband. Lucas is a very sweet baby, though, and has a darling smile and laugh. It's been especially fun to see Eli start to play with him, rather than just on top of him. Someday, I remind myself, they will be the best of friends.

A couple of other random notes on life:

I am THRILLED to see warm, sunny weather emerge after months of gray, cold, rainy days. I've struggled with low energy for years, and I was beginning to think I might never "rise and shine" again. I'm amazed at how differently I feel and how much I accomplish just because the sun is shining. The Pacific Northwest in the spring and summer is breathtaking, and well worth the lousy weather we see from November to April. Looking forward to camping and trips to the beach this summer.

Some great friends came to visit us a couple of weeks ago from Idaho. Erica's been a dear friend since we were little girls, and her husband Scottie and Ben are two peas in a pod. We had a great time with them, spending time at the beach and playing Rock Band late into the night. They loved our church (and who wouldn't?) and our adopted hometown, and I loved having my kindred-spirit friend in town to indulge in some much-needed girl talk over the world's greatest chai (apparently). Erica is a wise, Godly woman with four kids and a great sense of humor. Win, win, win.

I am training for the Portland marathon in October. "Training" might be a stretch. I'm trying to run two to three modest runs (4-5 miles) a week, with a longer run on the weekend. I'm only up to seven miles, so I'm glad to have several months still to train. The biggest challenge is definitely finding the time to run, since I can only run with the kids in the stroller for a couple of miles before I collapse and have to be rescued by helicopter. I'm discovering how much I love to run, which is a nice surprise. Even with 80-year-old joints (seriously, my knees are a disaster), I feel so happy and well and
alive when I'm running. That's a God thing right there, folks.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


If you came to my house today, you would find:

A dishwasher full of clean dishes and a sink full of dirty ones.

Clean laundry sitting in the dryer, patiently waiting for Dewrinkle Cycle one of six before finally being folded and put away.

Toys. Everywhere. Everywhere.

One child watching television, spinning in circles, making messes, beating on his brother, getting into mischief, giving hugs and kisses, and pooping in his underwear.

One child crawling on the floor, playing with small objects, being beaten upon, whining, fussing, crying, and laughing.

Occasional non-violent interaction between said children (win).

A mommy with a headache, half-ignoring her children, completely ignoring the mess, closing the blinds to the brilliant sunshine and lazily blogging on her computer.

Not my best day. Not my worst either.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

at least he's funny

Eli has been in a Mood lately. Or a Funk. A Snit? Whatever it is, it had better be a Phase. And it's causing Mama to want to Drink Heavily and Take a Vacation.

Fortunately, in the midst of arguing, talking back, disobeying and being generally cantankerous, he is also saying some funny, funny things. A few of my favorites:

"You better change that attitude, Mom. That's a bad attitude." (it often is)

"It's the law, bud." See also: "It's the law, bud. Opa said so." (his reason for whatever he's doing that he shouldn't be, or in order to get his way)

"That's not for you, Mom. It's yucky. It has sugar in it." (his reason for needing to take my coffee for himself)

We have to laugh, mostly so that we don't go crazy.

And he's cute.
Good thing.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

even if

I had a wonderful encounter with God yesterday.

In an ordinary moment, He caught me by surprise. He met me where I was. He heard my cry. He spoke truth into my heart.

We are going through a deep, dark valley, facing a personal battle that has turned everything upside down and inside out. I am praying, praying, praying - for healing, for deliverance, for grace, for strength. It is the hardest season we've walked through in our twelve years together - and if you know us, you know that we've had our share of hard seasons.

Yesterday, I needed to be with other believers. I was drained. I needed to share my burden and be lifted up in prayer. I needed encouragement and nourishment from God's word. So, I left my sick children at home with Ben and went to our wonderful House Church.

Our leader took us into the book of Daniel, and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Inside of such a familiar tale, God brought new revelation that spoke so clearly to my need, I could hardly contain myself. If you don't know the story, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that all of the people bow down in worship before an idol. Three of his officials refused to do so. When he threatened them with certain death in his fiery furnace, they responded:
"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Dan. 3:16-18
It was the last verse that pierced my heart. The words that are still repeating in my mind: Even if. Even if. Even if.

Even if we never get our dream house...

Even if we never make it to Europe...

Even if Ben's business fails...

Even if our children fail us...

Even if I'm never healed of migraines...

Even if we get cancer...

Even if our circumstances never change...

Even if we don't get out of the valley...

Even if our lives fall apart, we will not turn away from God. We will not forget his promises, his faithfulness, his goodness, or his mercy.

We will not be abandoned.

We will be whole, and loved, and provided for.

We will have Jesus.

Even. If.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

happy heart day

i love these boys.

and this one, most of all.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Last weekend we went to see Phoenix perform at the Crystal Ballroom. If you're not familiar, they're a super cool Indie Rock band. You can check them out here: It was awesome, one of the best live shows I've ever seen.

However, the opening act. A band called Soft Pack. Horrible. Horrible, horrible, horrible. A group of random misfits including two old boyfriend lookalikes and a hobbit. First of all, someone needs to tell them about microphones and amps. When sixteen-year-olds are plugging their ears, you are too loud. I know a lot of people like their punk rock loud, fast, and way off key, but I am not one of those people. Every song sounded exactly like the one before it. The lead singer was particularly self-satisfied, and with no good reason. If I can master your song on Rock Band, it's too easy. I had to feel for them, though - when they announced that it was their last song, everyone cheered.

The Crystal Ballroom is a general admission, standing-room only kind of place. In good citizen fashion, we had arrived early to secure our spot toward the front of the crowd. A few people squeezed their way up during the opening act, but it was nothing unreasonable. As soon as Phoenix took the stage, though, a huge group of kids started pushing their way up to join their friends. You want to bring a couple of friends up to join you, fine. But a dozen? They were, of course, loud, drunk, and obnoxious. Suspiciously full of energy. And proudly proclaiming, in unison, "FRESHMENNNN!"

Remember being a college freshman? Man, life was easy. Wake up, go to class (or don't, it often didn't matter), eat cereal for lunch, play flag football, go to a party, watch a movie in the lounge, sneak onto the boy's floor after hours, get busted, bake cookies for the boys' R.A. as atonement. I spent my freshman year in Seattle. It was such an adventure. I took the city bus to my part-time job downtown. I went to bonfires at Alki Beach and drank Strawberry Boone's. I learned the hard way about balancing a checkbook. I studied (really!) and got good grades and loved my classes. I worked as a' writing tutor in the library, and spent hours trying to edit the Asian students technology papers. I took step aerobics at five in the morning and ate Ben & Jerry's almost every day (I blame you, C-Store, for my freshman fifteen). I made wonderful friends. I made not-so-wonderful friends. It was absolute freedom and independence and adventure, and I hope that my children will get to have the same sort of freshman year (minus the Boone's and the overdrawn checking account, maybe). But I digress.

Back at the concert, I realized that I am officially Not Young. Not old, but I have definitely crossed beyond the boundary of reckless youth. As my toes were crushed by the spastic moshing of the young people (did you know that the youth are still moshing?), I ran a silent dialogue through my mind. At one point, I used the phrase "paid good money" to justify my indignation at their behavior. I think that's enough to prove that I'm getting old. Also to that point: I was constantly distracted by my too-tight shoes and the thought that we were going to be late for the babysitter.

Fortunately, Phoenix put on an amazing show. They sounded great (not always the case with a live performance), and most importantly, they were obviously having a blast. I'll still see shows at the Crystal Ballroom... but it might be time for the balcony.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

sunday stuff

I suppose I'm a fickle blogger.

I really want to write daily. I have the itch. I have the ideas. It's the time and the energy that seem to be lacking.

My sort-of-secret dream is be a "real" writer. As in, published by someone other than But I know that takes more dedication than I currently seem to manage. In the meantime, I'm here today.

(By the way, today is Stream of Consciousness Sunday. Didn't you know?)

I am a bit of a worship music junkie. Is that a contradiction in terms? God bless whoever created modern worship (it's got to be either King David or Keith Green, right?). My taste in music tends to run to the indie/alternative bands, but I try to listen to worship music as much as I can. I absolutely believe that what I feed myself with (music, TV, movies, books) affects my emotional and spiritual health. Anyway. A few songs on my current worship playlist:

Everything - Tim Hughes
With Me - Chris Tomlin
Desire - Phil Wickham
Alleluia, Sing - David Crowder Band
My Soul Sings - Delirious
Sound of Melodies - Leeland
Now Unto the One - Evan Wickham
Beautiful King - Danyew
Birmingham (We Are Safe) - DCB
You'll Come - Hillsong United
I Will Wait for You There - Phil Wickham
How He Loves - DCB

Just a sample. I also recently discovered Seeds Family Worship, which are scripture memory songs for kids. Basically GT and the Halo Express, but slightly cooler.

I am dying for a vacation. Ben and I were vacationing fools when we were kidless and had lots of pretend money. Since Eli was born, we've spent one night away, just the two of us. ONE. Our tenth anniversary is coming up this summer, and I want to go somewhere. And while I wouldn't say no to a free trip to Fiji, I will happily take a couple of nights out at the coast.

Speaking of Fiji... I have a problem with daydreaming, I think. God is working on that with me. I daydream a lot. I mean, a lot a lot. I imagine the things I want to be and have and do, and sometimes it gets me down about what I currently am and have and do, and that's when the Holy Spirit steps in to remind me about contentment. I am thankful to be loved by a God who takes me the way I am and makes me into something better.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

ten things i have never done

1. Gone skydiving. 2. Eaten mussels. 3. Mailed in a self-addressed, stamped envelope. 4. Picked up a hitchhiker. 5. Seen an opera. 6. Ran a marathon. (Yet!) 7. Slept outside on the ground. 8. Darned a sock. 9. Swam in the Indian Ocean. 10. Had an operation.

Friday, January 15, 2010

a project runway color commentary

That's what they call it in football, right? Yeah. I know some stuff.

Project Runway is back! I'm a little apprehensive about watching the premiere, because last season really let me down. I mostly listened to the first half of this show while doing other things, but here is what I thought of The Show (runway, of course).

(I realize you may not be watching the show at exactly the time you are reading this, although I recommend that you do. Go back in time and record it. Or just imagine the looks and enjoy my brilliant writing.)

Dear Heidi Klum: We all know you're hot. We know you know you're hot. Don't feel as though you need to wear see-through clothes to prove it to us.

Michael Kors looks exactly the same way Michael Kors looked in the first episode of the first season. I know the man has a trademark look, but come on. Try some color. Heidi's got an awesome green see-through shirt you can borrow.

Nina looks suspiciously perky.

Nicole Richie is an odd-looking gal. A little Fraggle-ish. I hope she doesn't read this, as it would probably give her an eating disorder.

Let's start the show!

Jonathan has good glasses and a whole lotta self esteem. His dress is kind of design-y, I guess. Not a fan of giant belts. Definitely not a fan of the peekaboo crotch. "Hey everyone, guess where my crotch is? It's right here."

Seth Aaron looks like Liberace. He gave his model a very predatory look when she came out. His dress has zippers and looks like something you might buy at Forever 21 in 1998.

Poor Model Britney. Looks like she was swallowed by a snake backstage, and had to chop off its head and stick her feet through its neck to hit the runway because the show must go on! Oh, and she made a special collar out of the leftover snake, because she is crafty. Or took a little off her left boob. Or maybe, Jesus (the designer, to be clear) just made a crappy dress.

Huh. When did Mrs. Jetson get into modeling? The designer reminds me of Thom Yorke, but not enough to redeem the dress.

I lovelovelove the top of the next dress. The oversized belt is kind of cute, but has too many poufs attached. Oh I'm sorry, that's a skirt? No wonder Heidi looked so excited. We all know how she loves the mini.

The next dress is pink. I like pink. This dress is PINK. And odd.

EMILIOOOO! Oh, how I love you and your adorable circley stripey confection of a dress. Please make one in my size and mail it to me. I promise to look much less intense than your model when I wear it.

So, the next dress came out and I did one of those little puff-of-air-through-the-nose-laughs with a half eye-roll. It's totally Naughty Caravan Fair Fashion Show.

Ping Wu is very excited about her outfit. Ping Wu is delighted with her outfit. I had to rewind three times to take it all in. There is so much going on here, and none of it makes me as happy as Ping Wu.

Christiane's dress makes me want to go on a Carnival Cruise.

At first glance, Amy's dress is kind of adorable. I love the black-and-white checkered skirt with the accordian style pleats. However. What is happening with her boobs? I think she forgot a step in her sewing, because one cup is very structured and thickly padded and the other is almost transparent. But since Amy is giving no indication that a mistake was made, I guess this was part of her design. Odd.
p.s. did you notice how i used the term "accordian style pleats" so effortlessly? it's because i
made it up.

I actually quite like Janeane's design, but why oh why must our shirts be see-through? Heidi Klum LOVES it. She is going to tear it right off the model and wear it for the rest of the show.

I am in love with the jacket on Mila's model. I officially covet. The rest of it, meh. But oh Mila, make me some jackets.

Anthony is like a cartoon character. What's more over-the-top than over-the-top? His dress would be a cute little number if you took off the voluminous ruffles on the side. He just said, "I like the volume on the saahhdd..." Is that irony? I'm never sure.

Anna Marie is precious and twelve. She didn't actually make her dress. She bought it at Anthropologie. And I would buy it too.

Maya has amazingly long lashes and a dress with many, many, many ruffles. The ruffles are brownish, so it actually looks like one of those potato tornado things you can get at the state fair. Which is not a bad thing. (Mmmm... fried food...)

And that's it! Let's see if I'm as completely off-base as usual. It seems like Heidi is calling names for ten minutes. I always forget how many contestants there are at this point.

Well, I get a couple of points.
The judges like Anthony's dress okay, but hate the hip bubble.
They are eating up the plaid number with all the many zippers. Way to go, Vancouver WA!
They actually love Ping Wu, and Ping Wu loves them loving Ping Wu. I just like to say Ping Wu.
Snakeskin Britney is a no-go.
They don't care for Christiane's fabrics, but not for the same reason. Seriously, nobody else is thinking cruise ship?
And finally... Hurray for EMILIOOOO! and his super awesome adorable dress. I am sending him my address. And a coupon for Tillamook cheese, because I have no money.

Until next time... auf wiedersehen!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

this just in: motherhood is freaking exhausting

I spent the entire day out with my two darling children. It was Errand Day.

Errand Day always falls on or just after the most important day of the month: Pay Day.

I had three errands on my list when I left the house this morning: Drop off rent. Target. Grocery store.

On the way to Target, I decided to get coffee. I unloaded the boys and got my favorite drink - medium-triple-iced-vanilla-2%-latte - in decaf. Somehow, I really thought it would have a placebo effect and I'd be bursting with energy in ten minutes.

Not so much. And it tasted different.

Pulling into the Target parking lot, I called my doctor's office (hands-free, of course) to see if maybe-just-maybe I could get an antibiotic for what I absolutely knew was a urinary tract infection. We women know when this little delight comes calling, don't we?

Nope, had to be seen first. Could I be there in twenty minutes?

We drove back across town to the doctor's office. Is there anything better than peeing in a cup with two hungry, cranky children in tow?

Guess what? UTI.

After the impromptu doctor's visit, I decided we should have lunch with Ben and his assistants. We met up at a very popular Vietnamese restaurant. We squeezed into the only available booth - all six of us. Lucas screamed. Ben fed him with one hand and maneuvered chopsticks with the other. I performed the Dance of the Distracted Child with Eli and tried to get my food into my mouth without being able to raise my elbows. I wondered why I thought this was such a great idea. The staff probably had the same thought.

After lunch, we beelined for Target. A trip to Target always involves the question: ride or walk? Eli is old enough to hate riding in the cart, and generally is good about staying with me. I chose to let him walk this time, and decided that we would just take our time and mosey. We made it through the entire store - including the toy section - without a single tear, screech, or whine. Just as we were leaving, Eli discovered a spinning airplane candy thingie that he absolutely Had. To. Have. I gently instructed him to put it back.

He stuffed it down his shirt. Visions of juvie danced in my head.

I needed to pry the toy from his death grip without making a scene. I tried the lighthearted approach: "Heh heh, you funny little shoplifter, let's put it back now!" I tried counting to three. I tried being matter-of-fact: "This is NOT OKAY."

I tried the Get Up Next To His Ear and Threaten Bodily Harm While Keeping A Pleasant Countenance So No One Calls Social Services method.

Finally I just yanked the damn thing away and stuffed it into a random box of candy.

Eli collapsed on the floor in a puddle of weep. Heartbroken sobs. Oscar-worthy, really. I scooped him up and carried him - sob, sob, sob - out the door.

Back in the car, Eli apologized ever so sweetly. He asked my forgiveness. He asked for a hug.

My cold little heart melted and I told him that if he would get into his seat and be very quiet while I unloaded the cart, I would give him the special treat I had picked out in the store. He was pumped.

I told him to close his eyes and hold out his hands. I placed the handpicked gift in his little hands - a Valentine's Day book about puppies. He opened his eyes.

He threw the book on the floor and yelled, "I WANT A DIFFERENT TREAT!!"

I almost left him at Target.

Oh, and after that we still had the grocery store, the dry cleaners, and the pharmacy.

And I never did pay my rent. Crap.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


There has been so much sadness today.

An old friend received unthinkable news from home. Her life is turned upside down in an instant.

An elderly woman is losing her beloved husband. Even in old age and sickness, how do you say goodbye to the person you've built your entire life with?

My dearest, closest friend, is watching her father die. It is unbearably slow and painful. She is so strong, so steady, but I know how loudly her heart is breaking. My heart aches for her.

Haiti. This tiny, massively impoverished nation, crumbled. Literally torn apart by the ground beneath them. It's impossible to see why God would allow this tragedy to fall onto such a defenseless land. Of all the nations of the world, why Haiti? It feels immensely unfair.

My own life: richly, abundantly blessed. And still, I am facing down giants who refuse to surrender. The trials seem to be relentless. It weighs on me. Wears me down. Wears me out.

I am bent today, sending up prayer after prayer for crisis after crisis.

Running through my mind all day, the words to a favorite song:

I can choose to ask why. I can choose to be angry.
I can wrestle when life is not what I thought it would be
I can wish that all the pain would simply go away
And at the same time I can choose Lord to trust You

Do you see me I can't do this on my own
Are you near me just let me know I'm not alone
I prayed, had faith that you would answer me so differently

To trust Your ways are not my ways
To know there's purpose in this pain
To trust that you will bring my joy again
But I'm still asking why...

One day, I promise, we will know.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

rainy day musings

I took the plunge today, friends: Grocery Outlet. I drove past one and then when I saw another one on the way home, I decided that God was asking me to be humble and buy some stinking cheap food. I expected to feel ashamed and dirty, wandering aisles of outdated, generic food like a supermarket leper. But actually, it wasn't bad. No different than the dollar store, really. I found my favorite sandwich bread, half-price, and it tasted perfectly fresh in my pb&j. I found some Dole canned fruit, very fresh bananas, and Spaghettios - all dirt cheap. God is teaching me to be humble... and humble some more. Go, Grocery Outlet!

Somehow, I can always tell when I've forgotten to lock Eli's bedroom door after putting him down for a nap. Even before he escapes, my Spidey sense starts to tingle.

I am seeing a new doctor in the never-ending quest to rid my life of headaches. This gentleman instructed me to stop taking Excedrin (which I gobbled like candy), stop taking Zoloft (which I was considering anyway - I'm not exactly postpartum any more), and stop using caffeine (whoa there, pal). I've followed his orders and have to admit that my headaches are already improving. Granted, I have zero energy and am massively irritable, but that should sort itself out over time.

I am excited for a new season of Project Runway. I am addicted to a show called Make It or Break It. It's about teen gymnasts. It's ridiculous in its angst and cheesiness, and I heart it. American Idol? Meh. Bring back the Gleeeeee.

I wonder if there are actually women whose homes are not in a perpetual state of disarray? Let me rephrase: I wonder if there are actually mommies-of-young-children whose homes are not in a perpetual state of disarray. Seems like I'm forever re-organizing a closet or cupboard or bookcase, and every time I think it's going to stay permanently organized because my organizational skills are just so darned organizey. Not so much, though.

I am ready for spring. Leaves and flowers and sunshine and warm weather and going outdoors.

I could really use some coffee.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

dear oprah: this is why I deserve a free vacation

It's no secret that my Eli is a little mischievous. Behind that sweet disposition and those angelic blue eyes lurks a little rascal just looking for something to get into. But this week has been one for the books.

Tuesday. In a fit of housewifely ambition, I decided to clean the oven. I forgot about the leftover fire extinguisher residue from New Year's Eve. The house quickly filled with toxic fumes. I opened every window and packed the kids out of the house for a few hours of good, clean oxygen. When we returned hours later, I put the boys down for their naps. Completely forgetting that Eli's windows were still open - only a bit, but open. Yes, I am officially a Very Bad Mother.

I wasn't feeling well and decided to lay down for a little while. I could hear Eli playing in his room, as he often does before he goes to sleep. About twenty minutes later, I found myself... stuck in the bathroom. Suffice to say, when my dog started barking, I couldn't immediately investigate why.

When I did manage to get downstairs, I noticed that the front window was still open, and our neighbors were standing in my driveway. "Of course," I thought. "Molly's barking because the neighbors are outside." If only.

I went to close the window and heard, "Oh, thank goodness you're home!"

I opened the door. Sitting on the front porch was a pile of my son's clothes.

I peered around the corner to see my two-and-a-half-year-old son perched on the ledge of his second-story window, gleefully throwing all of his worldly possessions out on the roof. He had pushed the windows open and pushed the screens out.

The neighbors said, "We thought maybe you weren't home! We were so worried! We called Ben and left a message for him!"

(Excellent. Because this couldn't possibly be a "what Daddy doesn't know won't hurt him" situation.)

Eli said, "Hi, Mama! I'm coming out!" Huge grin morphing into terror when he saw my face.

"DON'TYOUDAREMOVESTAYTHEREIAMCOMINGTHANKYOUNEIGHBORS!" I managed to yell before dashing back into the house and up to Eli's room.

Eli was already sobbing, "I sorry Mama, I sorry Mama!" as I scooped him up and gave him three - yes, three - good spanks.

Then I burst into tears and rocked him on my lap until we both calmed down.

Then, we had a Very Big Talk about not trying to escape out the windows.

How did I feel at that moment, you ask? Mortified. Terrified. Furious. Thankful. So, so thankful.

Did I mention, MORTIFIED?

I imagine the neighbors now have CPS on speed dial.

So that was day one.

Wednesday. I put Eli in his room for a little "rest time" so that I could take a shower. Twenty minutes, tops. I opened the door as he excitedly exclaimed, "Look, Mommy! I painting wif wotion!"

Sure enough, he found a bottle of baby lotion tucked in his dresser drawer and smeared most of its contents around his room. On the floor, the walls, the toys, the books. Inside the stereo. Lots of lotion inside the stereo.

Ironically, none of it on him.

"At least lotion is better than poop!" proclaimed my mother-in-law's encouraging facebook comment.


I heard Eli stirring. I was out of bed and into the shower immediately. Not giving him the chance to get into trouble again.

Ten, maybe fifteen minutes passed while I speed-showered and got dressed.

I opened my bedroom door and smelled poop.

I opened his bedroom door and saw... poop. Lots of it. Everywhere.

Eli, happy as ever, greeting me. "Good morning, Mama! I awake!"

Huge grin morphing into sobs of terror and regret. "I sorry Mama, I sorry!"

I didn't hit. I didn't swear. But oh, I yelled. I stormed around gathering cleaning supplies and hollering. "CAN'T I JUST LEAVE YOU ALONE FOR FIVE MINUTES IN YOUR ROOM WITHOUT YOU WREAKING HAVOC?!!"

I dumped him in the tub, where he let me scrub and rinse without a fuss. (Oh, you better not fuss, kid.)

Then, being dried off, he looked at me with great seriousness. "Mommy, I forgive you," he said. And gave me a hug.

Well then.

"I forgive you, too," I said.

I hugged him back, kissed his head, cleaned poop for half an hour, and we went on with our day. Because that, friends, is life with children.

Monday, January 4, 2010

uncle matt

Ben's brother came to visit us for the first time since moving to Portland. He hates to fly, so we had to persuade him with Portland tales of microbrewed beer and cute single hipster girls. We spent a wonderful week showing off our fine state (Campaign Make-Matt-Move-To-Portland is in full effect). Eli fell completely in love with his Uncle Matt and I think Uncle Matt is pretty smitten with his nephews.

Lucas and Matt
Eli and Matt
Cannon Beach

Snuggling with Luke at Timberline Lodge, Mt Hood

Oregon Coast

Friday, January 1, 2010


Last snow of 2009 was the first snow of the season. I laid down for a nap at 2:00 with a handful of tiny flakes falling on bare ground. An hour later I woke up to an inch of snow covering everything. It was beautiful.

fire safety

Note to self: The next time something bubbles over in the oven, clean it up.

Oh and also, no matter how briefly you use a fire extinguisher, the stuff will get on everything within range. Everything.

Our New Year's Eve started with bit of a fire in the oven. Real flames and all. Poor spring rolls never had a chance.

Thankfully Ben knew how to use the fire extinguisher, and after some minor smoke inhalation and a complete kitchen wipedown we were able to usher in the 2010 in style.

Happy New Year!