Monthly Archives: November 2009

No, I’m Not Gonna Call and Here’s Why

Wow, where to start. I was sitting here watching some random Ben Afleck Christmas movie when a disturbing commercial came on. I think the goal of the makers of the commercial was to disturb me in a slightly different way, but I am disturbed all the same. With a backdrop of a weepy Sarah McLachlan song followed by Sarah herself coming onscreen to make her plea, I was appalled and here’s why.

This commercial was in support of animal rescue and protection. Obviously, I am not against this by any means and even though I am not an “animal person” I do not think it is okay for animals to be mistreated. However, to have an entire minute plus dedicated to telling me about how I can be involved in “rescuing animals from abuse” makes my stomach churn. Kind of like when I was riding in a van in Mexico and had the person sitting next to me say, “Oh look at that poor little dog,” without bothering to see the naked, two year old little girl sitting beside it in the dirt. All life is valuable, yes, but using what resources we have to ensure the safety of a cat over a child is wrong. To think of someone donating $100 to Sarah and her pets instead of putting that $100 toward assisting the children of Uganda to escape being child soldiers, a country where 50% of the population is under the age of FOURTEEN, or about a million other human justice issues is extremely frustrating. I appreciate that Sarah is trying to raise awareness for something she is obviously passionate about, but man, think of what could be done if she would shift her interests or channel her obvious passion for justice toward and even greater cause?

I know that I am probably giving some of you a physical reaction, and I get that. I know that there are animal lovers out there, or some of you who think that animal life is as valuable as human life. I don’t and in any situation if there is a choice between helping a starving child or a starving dog I am going with the child. I mean, wouldn’t you? Even if we focus on our country alone, how can we possibly begin to worry about taking care of neglected animals when we are neglecting thousands of children? There are many in our communities who suffer daily feeling ignored, unloved, lonely and rejected by their families. We live in a world marked by injustice. Sitting back and pretending like it doesn’t exist isn’t an option. I just hope this Christmas, if you are considering giving away some of your financial resources that you might consider the child prostitutes around the world, the daily rape of women in Darfur, the kids in your city who go to bed hungry, or the children in Africa who could avoid malaria by the simple purchase of a mosquito net before giving to your local animal shelter.

Hate me if you want, write a scathing comment if you must, I’m fine with it all. I respect that you love your animals. Really, I do. Maybe if I went out and got a puppy my opinion would change…well, not likely, but perhaps it would soften me to the animal lovers of the world. At any rate, keep loving your pets and the animals of the world. Be a vegetarian if you must. All creatures of this earth should be treated with respect and injustice should be passionately fought at all times. I’m going to continue to buy cage free eggs, meat from cows who spent their lives grazing in the grass, and chickens who weren’t hopped up on hormones and drugs. But I will continue to live as an omnivore, to call those who take care of animals “owners” and not “parents,” and when given the choice between rescuing an animal or a person, I’m going with the person. That, my friends, is just how I roll.

The Calendar…

Ladies, boys, pets and anyone else who might read this, I am super sorry for the LATE posting of my calendar for the 25 Days of Giving.  I am a slacker and I apologize.  I hope that it is helpful and would love to hear all of your ideas.  If some activities change, I will let you know since I have a feeling some days what I have planned won’t be what actually happens.  Funny how that tends to happen with the little ladies around.  Okay, at last, here goes.
The numbers represent the actual calendar days of December, btw.

1.  Assemble of a care package for Scott Syme, who is serving our country in Iraq over Christmas.  He is also the dad of rock star Captain Haus.
2. Make gifts to send to the girls’ two great grandmas
3 & 4. Christmas cards for the staff and young men of The Micah Project We will spend two days on this project since there are lots of wonderful people we don’t want to forget!
5. Day of education and prayer about Honduras
6. Christmas cards for our church’s homesteader of the week (translation is that each week our church gives the name of one elderly person who is homebound so that we can send letters or notes of encouragement.)
7. A trip to the store so the girls can purchase a toy each to donate to The Doc’s work’s community outreach program. The toys will be given to homeless children involved in a program affiliated with the hospital.
8. Baking treats and brewing coffee to take to our church staff’s weekly staff meeting to say thanks for all of their hard work.
9. The Doc works each week at the senior health clinic so we will be making some cards for him to take to work to give to his patients.
10. A day to sort through the girls’ toys to find some to donate
11. Write a letter and make cards to send to our sponsor child Milimo in Zambia.
12. Day of education and prayer about Uganda
13. Christmas cards for our church’s homesteader of the week
14. Assemble housewarming baskets for women being resettled after leaving a situation of domestic abuse with friends.
15. Crafts, cards and thank-you notes for BQ’s teachers, the girls’ Sunday school teachers, the milkman, and mailman. Whew, might be a busy day!
16. Makes cards and a gift for Great Gpa (he is the cutest 85 year old man EVER).
17. Bake cookies and treats and then take them to those serving at our local fire station.
18. Clean and set-up our home for company. (BIG day)
19. Day of education and prayer for Honduras
20. Christmas cards for the homesteader of the week
21. Make/finish Christmas gifts for family members
22. Go to the grocery store to put together a meal to donate to a family in need
23. Serve as a family at a local food pantry (I don’t have the date nailed down, so this might move to a different day).
24. Wake up early to make breakfast for our family (my Mom, Dad, brother and his girlfriend will all be here- so fun).
25. Celebrate Jesus’ birthday by giving him the gift he wants most- our hearts

So there it is. Is it simpler than you thought? Probably. That’s the best part though, because we realize just how simple it is to do small acts of service each day. Another component of our month is that for each day that complete our activity, we will save a dollar. Hopefully at the end of the 25 days we will have saved 25 dollars to donate to an organization or cause of the girls’ choosing. Can’t wait.

One more thing that was mentioned in the comments by a friend is to modify the 25 days into maybe 2 or 3 things a week. Great idea. We are all at different stages of parenting and if I had a little baby around I would most likely not be trying to tackle 25 days this year! So take that into consideration if it all seems daunting.

Okay, there it is. As I’ve said before, are you in?

25 Days of Giving…Revisited

So I’m back to talk about the 25 Days of Giving because yes it is that cool and yes you really do need to join me.  🙂  I am hoping to have my calendar nailed down by the end of today, so be on the lookout for a post regarding the specific activities we will be doing each day.  One reader had a great question regarding what exactly we are planning on telling/teaching the girls during the time, and I figured I would respond here rather than in the comments section.  So, here are some thoughts.

First of all, I try to say that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday every time it comes up.  Since the word “Christmas” means about as much as “Mouse-ca-toodles” to a three year old, I figure it’s helpful to connect the two.  Plus, we all know that kids can relate well to the concept of a birthday since it’s something they personally experience.  Once the fact that Christmas is established as being the celebration of Jesus’ birth, I have started to talk about how Jesus doesn’t want presents like we do for his birthday.  Therefore, to celebrate him and show how much we love him, we choose to love other people and love him through acts of service.  Our gift to Jesus is our willingness to give of ourselves.

So far I have found for BQ at 3 1/2 this makes sense.  Molé is sort of along for the ride this year.  But hopefully in the years to come as the girls understand more and more about the kindness of God, the sacrifice of Jesus, and the undeniable call to give of ourselves they will find joy in the simplicity of a service oriented celebration.

Make sense?  Remember, it’s not to late to join us!

25 Days of Giving…Are YOU In?

I have been meaning to write about something that the girls and I will be doing this year for Advent. My friend Andrea (who I tend to reference frequently on here) is leading the way with her three girls and I am inviting you and your kids to join us! In order to teach our children more about Jesus than santa, we are choosing to use the first 25 days of December to give. Each day we will be doing a different activity with the goal of blessing others. Some of our ideas include sending homemade Christmas cards to the housebound elderly in our church, making a care package for my friend’s dad who will be deployed in Iraq on Christmas, making Christmas cards for our dear friends in Honduras at The Micah Project , taking treats to our local fire station, spending a day learning and praying for the people of Uganda (The Doc will be spending a month there in February working at a clinic), taking canned food to a food bank, giving away toys the girls don’t play with anymore, and the list goes on. There are millions of options. I have used a big piece of easel paper to make a calendar so that each morning the girls can come out and I can read what we will be doing that day. Once I get all of the dates filled in, I’ll post a pic as well as a list of our activities. I would love to hear your ideas and hope your family will consider joining us!

I find myself already becoming quite nauseated with all of the commercials about shopping and all of the excess that comes with the holiday season. Even the word “holidays” makes my stomach turn a bit. Doc and I watched a documentary the other night entitled “God Grew Tired of Us,” which was about some of the Lost Boys of Sudan and their experience coming from a Kenyan refugee camp to the United States. One of the young men talked about his utter confusion regarding our celebration of Christmas. He asked “who is santa?” and why do we celebrate him? He then explained what a huge celebration they had back home, all for the purpose of celebrating Jesus’ birthday. I found myself wondering along with him why something that in its simplicity is so marvelous, has been lost and covered up by culture. Sure we could tell him the story of Saint Nicholas and explain how those in our country who do not believe in Jesus choose to celebrate him on Christmas day. The problem though, is that many of us who say we believe in Jesus have also lost sight of what it’s really about and have made santa, buying big on “Black Friday” and hosting the perfect party our main goals. If my family’s Christmas celebration looks the same as my atheist neighbor’s than something is terribly wrong!! It is fine to include santa in your day, but making him the central figure is not okay. If the first question you are inclined to ask another child on Christmas morning is “What did santa bring you,” that might be a sign that your priorities are out of whack. When BQ, after hearing nothing from Doc or I about santa, asked me last year if Christmas was santa’s birthday I was horrified. But, how I can I expect her to draw a different conclusion when all she sees in the world around her are men in costumes at the mall, cards with the jolly guy’s face, and people asking her on a daily basis what she wants santa to bring her for Christmas. This is where I feel the burden to teach her that we, as people who love and know God, must choose to be different. What are your thoughts? How are you and your family going to celebrate this year?

And so the 25 Days of Giving emerges as just a small way to try and refocus, reenergize, and restart our hearts to focus on that day long ago when the God of all creation humbled himself, taking on human form, and met us here on earth. Not because he had to, not because we deserved it, but because he really is that good and that great. Why in the world would we ever need more to celebrate than the most ultimate gift of all?

Potty Party

I don’t know about you, but somewhere around 18 months I get tired of diapers. I mean, DONE with them, over them, so ready for them to be gone that I am fidgety done. Luckily with BQ by 20 months she too was evidently tired of these soggy soakers of human waste. She still needed them for sleeping, but those days of ten wipe diapers and physical reaction to the sight and smell of diaper contents were gone. I never in a million years thought that I would luck out the second time around with Molé. I will admit that I had grand plans of training her around 18 months, but due to a birthday party, illness, and my lack of focus we quickly stopped. I decided to wait until December when BQ would be out of school and we could hunker down at the house until she got the hang of it. Well, yesterday someone else decided not to wait and has been using the potty ever since. I could not be happier. I cannot believe that she is really out of diapers, though I did already pack up half of my G’s!! Pooping is still not her strong suit, but she has totally mastered going pee. (wow, read that sentence again. a great example on the important of context). But, for now I am going to savor the fact that I no longer have to bring bulky diapers, little baggies to bring home the soiled treasures, or that little plastic container of wipes everywhere I go!! Oh the space, the luxury of a purse with room for who knows what. Maybe I’ll start carrying gum again, who knows, it might get crazy. Of course I will need to save space for an extra pair of really cute little undies, pants, shirt, and socks (beware if you have never potty trained when there is an accident the socks are involved 99% of the time) just in case things don’t always go according to plan. But for today, I am going to savor the flavor, put it in my pipe and smoke the reality that is two sets of bunsies in big girl panties. Way to go, sweet Molé. You made your Mommy’s day.

Parent Teacher Conference

Um, wow. I don’t think there is any possible way to deny that I am in fact a grown-up. That’s right, I just returned from my very first parent teacher conference. And I was the parent. I know that this is just the first of what will be a countless number of such meetings throughout the girls’ educational years. But the first one was definitely momentous (at least to me that is). We are extremely blessed to not only have an amazing preschool for BQ, but the two most incredible teachers for her Frog’s class as well. Not only are they fun and engaging with the kids, but they truly love and care for the children. As I sat and listed to them talk about our little girl, I was amazed at just how well that have gotten to know BQ in two short months. Everything they said was personal, specific and pretty right on. What a gift to have others love and know our children. As we look ahead to our cross country move in June, I cannot help but feel nervous about finding BQ a new preschool. She only has two more years before kindergarten (GASP) and I want to maximize the time, not simply put her into a daycare-esque environment. (NOT meant to be a slam on daycare, by the way. Preschool and daycare are different and both serve their own purpose). The bar has been set high with our current school so hopefully I won’t be too hard to please!

At any rate, I guess I really and truly am a grown-up. And you know what, it pretty much rocks. Being the parent at that conference today was a great feeling (even though I did have to bring both of my children to the “please leave children at home” meeting). I cannot imagine my life any other way and at 31, I am pretty darn content.

Recent Happenings

Since I am feeling slightly brain-dead, you will have to indulge me as I once again partake in the lost art of writing down ramblings. Never heard of it? I guess if you hang out with me you are simply audibly bombarded with these ramblings, theories, and the like in person. Usually it is the poor Doc who bears the burden of such information. So, a little reprieve for you, Love. Anyway, a little taste of life these days.

Bronchiolitis isn’t much fun, but medications like Prednisone and Albuterol that help children to breathe normally once again are.

If a disposable diaper gets really full overnight, but does not leak as to alert you to said fullness, you may experience a gush all over your pajamas, hands, and body when picking up said child. Picture the swim diaper effect. Who knew a disposable could contain a mini pond of water just floating around without being absorbed, secretly hiding within. Amazing. Just another reason I’m a cloth girl. When those puppies are full, you are definitely gonna know it.

Rainy Saturdays with the husband away at work for 12 plus hours don’t have to be horrible. Popcorn and a Diego movie coupled with some rocking craft projects can make the day actually enjoyable.

Um about that Prednisone…it can make a small child feel better yes, but it can also make that child act, um how to say it, CRAZY! The doctor said it might make her a bit “energized” or extremely hungry. Hmm. The terms manic, wired, keyed up, and bouncing off the walls are slightly more accurate. Wow.

Finishing the last dose of a ten day antibiotic that your sweet baby girl almost gags when taking is a victory. How I long for the pink stuff that we were denied. Dang you amoxicillin resistant bacteria! Here’s hoping the ears hang tough.

Bathtime midday on a rainy day is a very, very good idea.

Cancer still sucks, so get used to me saying that regularly.

Sometimes Easy Mac is a good choice, no matter how toxic it might be for your body.

You really can have a good time out and about as a family for under $10 in the winter, when it’s dark by 4 p.m. and you live in a very expensive city.

My girls are growing up really quickly. Too quickly. I just want to gobble them up.

I am so grateful that these sweet girls have each other. What a gift. I love watching them together.

Knowing someone who has died of H1N1 is nothing to be happy about.

Crying at the pediatrician’s office isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Walking in with a child who was struggling to breathe merited tears. Leaving the office with a perked up (or hopped up since she had taken some prednisone at that point) child who was just slightly wheezing is tear worthy as well. Just the other kind of tears. 🙂

I am so happy to be a mom. So blessed to have these sweet little girls. Even on the really hard days, I would never in a million years want to go back to life before children. I am being refined through motherhood in ways I never knew possible and it is hard. But, don’t the hardest parts of our life always develop into some of the sweetest, richest, and biggest blessings of all? I think so.

I am feeling sleepy. So on that note, and since my children are napping, I am off to dreamland as well. What are the thoughts swirling around in your head today? Grab some paper, and write them down. It’s always fun to see what you find.

Hug a Vet

No matter what you believe about the war, today is a day that is about the people behind the political controversy. It’s about recognizing those who have seen the horror of war firsthand, who were willing to give up the comfort of home, and made sacrifices on our behalf.

Both of my grandfathers were in the military. My maternal grandfather actually snuck into the Army (I am pretty sure it was the Army, right mom?) at the age of 16 and served in WWI. My paternal grandfather never had to fight in a war, but served in the military and even completed his medical training at Luke Air Force Base in AZ. Since my mom’s dad passed away long before I was born, I never had the chance to ask him about his war experience. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be so young, far away from home, and in such a volatile place. I must say, though, that while I have had family members in the military, the reality of the sacrifice of a soldier was still very impersonal until the first day of my freshmen year of college.

BTW, you are going to have to indulge me today, because this post is really in honor of one of my favorite people in the entire world. And, I have decided that she needs to know just how amazing she is and that she is totally post worthy. 🙂 So, if she’s the only one who reads it, I am totally not offended. Okay then.

Captain Haus (like your little blog nickname :)) was my next door neighbor in the dorm. We became fast friends. She was also a freshmen, but in addition to being a college student with me at our small liberal arts school, she and a couple of other students would drive across town daily to a larger University where they participated in their ROTC program. I remember seeing her polishing her boots, slipping into her BDU’s, and heading out every afternoon. I wasn’t really sure what she did exactly, but I knew she worked hard. Sophomore year, we roomed together in the Babe Cave (I’ll tell that story some other time) and I got an even better idea of just how hard she worked. In addition to her classes, she would have intensive field training exercises throughout the year, during which she had the pleasure (NOT) of eating MRE’s the entire time. I actually remember her bringing home an extra one time and us attempting to “cook” the spaghetti. I think it had the same amount of flavor as a jar of baby spaghetti. Back to my point, daily her alarm clock would go off at ungodly hours so that she could wake up and go to PT (physical training) and return just as I was just starting to think about getting out of bed. I remember being amazed by her strength. She never complained and when she was in uniform it all made sense.

After graduation, she went into the Army full time. There were many people that didn’t really understand her choice, because not only is Captain Haus a strong woman, but she is also intelligent, creative, beautiful, and talented. There were a million things she could have excelled at in the civilian world. I think it is hard for people to understand a woman’s choice to join the military and to be honest, I don’t think I really understood it either in the beginning. But, the more that I listened and learned through our friendship, the more I began to carry a deep, deep respect and admiration for her choice. It didn’t seem crazy as many seemed to think, but amazing.

My admiration grew the first time she headed off to war. I’ll never forget listening to the radio on the morning of September 11th as I drove to work. I was stunned, as we all were, that something so horrible and unthinkable had just happened. When I arrived at my job, at The Mall of America, I was met by officers turning me away, as the mall was completely shut down. For a place that only closes 2 or 3 times a year to close its doors per a government mandate for security purposes was frightening. As I drove home, the tears were pouring down my face. I wasn’t worried about more attacks, or if my family would be safe. The only thing I could think about was Captain Haus and what a war might mean for my dear friend. Would she be sent to fight? Would she be okay?

As you can guess, my fears did come true and she was deployed. Not once, but twice. I remember the phone often ringing at 1 a.m. during her first deployment and practically jumping out of my bed in hopes of getting to hear her voice. Each time we would hang up, I could not help but cry. I knew she was good at her job, well trained, and that whatever her mission, she would excel. But I was still fearful. When she came home, I was so relieved. So selfishly glad that my friend made it home. Time passed and then it happened again. She called to say she was going back. This time, I felt not only sadness, but anger, because not only would she have to leave her husband, but her baby boy as well. He is only three months older than BQ. It’s one thing to know that soldiers have to leave children and spouses at home, but it’s another to have to watch a friend go through the reality of being separated from her family. Her bravery astounded me. Thankfully, she again came home safely. (A big shout out to her awesome hubby who also sacrificed much while she was gone in caring for their son and supporting her so faithfully.) And now, she has two little boys to love. She is an amazing soldier and an even more incredible mom.

She has taught me what it means to live out what I believe, to be faithful to my promises even when it means self sacrifice, and to put the needs of others first. I am so proud of her and so thankful that there are others like her who serve and give to us all each and everyday. And even though this blog post is a day late, because it took me two days and some tears to write, I just want to say to you, Captain Haus, thank you. I celebrate you not only today, but everyday. Thanks for teaching me cool Army lingo, how to cook an MRE, and how to properly apply camo (can you imagine how rockin’ our Friday nights in the dorm were. yah, that cool). I love you and you by far are my most favorite Vet.

Not One of Those, But One of THOSE Days!

Do you ever have days where you seriously cannot get enough of your kids? They say the cutest things, give you kisses at every turn, snuggle a little closer during story time, and thank you without prompting. Today I found myself wanting nothing more than to just be with my girls. The Doc got home early tonight and I was able to relax a little bit after dinner while he did some wrestling (as well as some other game involving water being dropped on their heads- it was evidently a big hit) and even though he could have easily put them to bed by himself, I didn’t want to miss it. We had a gloriously warm day today and spent it playing in the leaves at the park. The girls brought their babies and strollers and could not have been happier. After building a “house” out of sticks near a tree, we decided to have our snack. As we ate, BQ turned to me and said, “Does God have us all in His hands?” I grinned as I affirmed to her that yes, He does.

I have to admit that I usually try and find another mom and her kids to go to the park with, because it allows the girls to play with friends and for me to have some adult conversation. But today, I am so glad it was just the three of us, creating our own fun, being girlfriends. I know that our snack time, sweet conversation, and adventure would not have been the same if we had been with others. I don’t ever want to miss out because I am too busy with the things that I think will be more fun. How could anything be more fun than watching these beautiful ones learn, laugh, explore, and delight in life!?

To encourage anyone who had the other kind of day, hang in there. I was reminded by a friend today that the times when we feel we want to run away most from our life as a mom, are the moments in which we need to dig in deeper. It’s amazing what happens and how God can return to us the joy that we were so desperately seeking through a simple act of loving our children. So dive in, build a house out of sticks at the park, and choose to read your kids a book rather than popping in a video. I promise you won’t ever regret the investment.

How I love these little ladies.