Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thursday, Thursday

Not quite the same ring as "Monday, Monday," I admit.

It's weird yet a huge relief to know that I do not have to be in a classroom right now getting ready for school.  I am not saying that to be obnoxious, teacher friends.  Part of me does miss the excitement of planning out new curricula and thinking about the kids I'd be working with.  But another part of me can think only of the overwhelming amount of work to do…and the fact that I seem to be incapable of doing the daily tasks like keeping things clean…and I know it's best for all involved that I'm NOT trying to get a classroom ready to go.

I stayed up wayyyy too late last night.  2 AM, to be precise.  What am I, a college kid?  My husband's alarm went off at 5 AM and Ben was up at 5:30 AM and wanting to play.  I got him to doze off for a little while but the other two came in at 6:30 and announced their dire need for breakfast.

Haven't made coffee yet, but I'm thinking that's a must, or I'm going to collapse. Here's hoping that I make it till nap time and that the kids all actually take naps!

I realize this post is not very interesting, but I do want to point you towards my post today at Real Housekeeping.  It's a Real Review, wherein I try out a popular Pinterest pin to see if it works as well as it seems to work.  Last time I reviewed the "PAM cooking spray dries nail polish" pin; today it's the "fabric softener detangles doll hair" pin.  Please go and check them out, and if you don't mind, share them around.  Sharing is caring (about my writing).

I hate to go and call myself a writer (it feels like a bad luck jinx waiting to happen), but that's my "job" at the moment.  It's an unpaid job for now, but someday I hope to make a little bit of money from writing work.  I don't have delusions or even desires of being a world-famous author or a big-time blogger, although earning money from something I can do from home is very appealing.

But in this day and age of things going viral, it seems that the truism, "It's not what you know, it's who you know," has become more important than ever. The good news?  It's very easy to reach lots of "who you know" people via social media.  The bad news?  It's easy for you…and everyone else.  Competition is both non-existent (anyone can start a blog/self-publish) and stiff (only the good bloggers/writers see lots of readers).  It's a very interesting time for writing, especially with the decline of brick and mortar book stores and even of "brick and mortar" books, so to speak.  Ebooks seem to be where it's at.  Interesting possibilities…

And you know what?  It's Small Success Thursday, and by gum, I'm going to link up.  My small success is writing this, doing some editing work for a friend, and having put up two articles yesterday at Real Housekeeping (today's and next Thursday's).  And by the way, a little plug: next week all the articles at Real Housekeeping are going to be addressing routines that everyone works into their lives, and we'll have representatives from the stay-at-home mom contingent to the working full time outside the home moms with kids from baby age to preteen.  Should be a great week…I'm talking about our favorite routine, bedtime stories, and I have books to share :)  Please do drop by and say hi!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

It's been one of those days...

…where you wonder if sending your children on a nice long vacation to Grandma's so you can lounge in a vat of Frappuccino is actually a viable option.

I say that in a "my kids are wearing me the heck out" kind of way.

We've got terrible twos and ferocious fours and nobody wants to take naps except mom around here, even the 10 month old baby, for crying out loud!

We've got tantrums and whining, arguing and saying, "I don't love this," to anything that doesn't sound just peachy.

And I've got s-t-r-e-s-s!

As I held my writhing, wriggling, screaming, "let me go" toddler for about ten minutes until he calmed down, I tried to remember wise words I read years ago in a book on positive discipline called "Taking Charge" by JoAnne Nordling.  To paraphrase,

Picture yourself as a huge rock in the sea.  Waves crash against it unceasingly, yet the rock is unmoved.  Thousands and thousands of parents have lived through the stage of life that you are in now; you are the latest in a line that has stretched on from the dawn of time.  Plant your feet and weather the storm.

"Oh yeah?" says my voluble self.  "What about erosion?!"

Nonetheless, the idea of allowing the waves to beat against you and knowing you are the stronger reminds me of when I gave birth to Ruby, the only birth so far where I was pretty actively involved with the birthing process (seeing as the boys were both c-sections).  The contractions were also like waves, coming regularly and with an intensity that seemed crushing and unbearable in the moment.  The only thing to be done was to breathe and know that it would pass, and that they would not last forever.  I remember what it was like, and I remember that there was pain, lots of it; but I can't physically recreate that pain right now.

I suppose (and hope) that the same can be said twenty five years from now, when my children are grown up.  I will remember that there were tantrums and fights and battles of seemingly iron wills locked in mortal combat.  I will remember that it was hard and emotionally wearisome, but it will have faded, like curtains or upholstery that's had the sun shine on it every day for years.

The wisdom of St. Teresa of Avila comes to mind:

Let nothing disturb you,

Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

As I was holding Max as he flailed and wailed, I thought about God the Father.  I wonder, does He often hold us in a grip that feels so tight as we kick against His love?  The times when God seems absent because of our pain…could it be that, far from being absent, He is so close to us and holding us so tightly that we feel the same effect of powerlessness as we would if He were nowhere to be found?  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tuesday Tribute: Allen

Another Tuesday Tribute at last!  This week, I’m paying tribute to a very special someone, to whom I was espoused five years ago (our anniversary is August 8th): Allen James Cook.
Look at that little cutie!  Looks like Max, I think.

What can I say? Where to begin?  Allen has lots of wonderful (and sometimes unusual) qualities that certainly set him apart from the rest.  I’ve talked about his resourcefulness, his desire to treat me like a princess (on more than one occasion), and his strict sense of what it means to say “a few”  vs. “several.”  

I guess I’ll do the somewhat cliched elementary school move and say some of my favorite things about this fine man via acrostic.
Allen with our old kitties
A is for Animating. He’s not into the art of animation (that would be his brother), but rather animating in its most original sense: breathing life and courage into me.  Not to say that I was just a hollow creature before we met, but I do have a lot of timidity.  Over time, Allen has, by his bold example, brought out more tenacity and courage in me.  He is spirited and passionate about life and his beliefs, and it rubs off on me (in a good way).

L is for Loyal.  I cannot imagine Allen leaving me.  He has said on many occasions that he can’t imagine going back to a life without me.  His own dad left the family when Allen was a teen, and it is not an action that Allen wants to repeat in his own path as a father and husband.  

L is for Loving. Of course, I have to include loving in this list!  Allen loves to do nice things for me, especially getting me little gifts.  When we were dating, it was buying me a Starbucks drink and walking to my house to leave it on my car before I went to work, or picking me a bouquet.  Being married, it’s coming home with my favorite brand of lemonade, or an encouraging card, or something from a free pile that he knew I’d like (lately that’s included cool glass apothecary jars, a outdoor baby play yard, two great drying racks, and flower seeds).  He also helps with my least favorite household chores and, you know, renovated a whole house for us to live in.  No bigs.  

E is for Educated.  Even though Allen has had to take his education more slowly because of needing to work full time to support us, it has been very important to him to make sure to get his degree.  First he finished his Associates at Portland Community College, then went to evening classes over 18 months to finish his Bachelors at Warner Pacific College.  Now he’s done with year one (out of four) of evening classes for his carpentry apprenticeship.  Can you think of things you’d like to do after you get home from work besides go to school and do homework?  Me too...and so can Allen, but he plugs away at it anyway.  

N is for Neat, but he loves me anyway.  He’s tidy; I’m messy.  He likes things to be organized; I theoretically like things to be organized.  He can’t stand clutter; I’m the queen of piles.  He’s a natural Montessorian (a place for everything and everything in its place); I’m fine with that, except that everything is in any place.  But, as I said, despite this difference, he loves me anyway *and* helps keep things tidy.  
Allen and brand new Ben

C is for Christ-follower.  Allen’s been down some pretty rough roads in his life, and he’s learned that when you’re at rock bottom, you can either “curse God and die” (in the word of Job’s wife) or you can plead for help.  He chose the latter, and it’s made all the difference.  Jesus is his king, and he wants to follow him whither He leads.

O is for Oh-So-Good-Looking. Even in work clothes that are covered in sawdust and sweat, with a wicked farmer tan from his work uniform and being in the sun a lot, and hands roughened by lots of work and way too many interactions with harmful chemicals...yeah, he’s a good looking man.  

O is for Observant.  Allen has a secret notebook where he writes down things that he’s heard me say I’d like so that he won’t forget them for future birthdays, holidays, or date nights.  He learns best by observing and doing.  There were a few areas of remodeling that he didn’t know a lot about when he started this project, but by watching friends do them he picked up on the methods quickly.  

K is for Killer Athlete.  Allen is a do or die soccer player. He’s in great shape, and he is fast.  He’s an asset to his team (this is the second season they’ve won the championship) and in a few weeks he’s going on to play the champions from Seattle.  I’m impressed by his athletic achievement and his love of “the beautiful game.”  

Those are just a few of the traits I value in Allen.  He’s been there for me through thick and thin.  Having just been away from him for two months, I realized that I really took him for granted.  It was hard to be a single parent without him to help balance me out.  Even though we talked on the phone every day, it wasn’t the same.  I just like talking to him and hanging out. 

It’s my year to plan our anniversary celebration, and although I don’t think it’s going to be anything spectacular (we need to get work done on the house still), I’ll be very glad to be with him and appreciate all of the things that make him a gift from God to me.  

I love you, Allen!

Life in the Cookie Jar