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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Give me a break...and yourself

Some days I feel like I blew it. Like I failed. At being a mom. At being a wife. At being a friend.

Some days, I yell at my kids (a lot). I snap at Joe (a lot) and I talk way more than I listen to my friends.

It's those days that make me lay awake at night and feel horrible about how mean I was to the kids. Or how unsupportive I was to Joe. Or how I totally screwed up the delicate "give and take" balance of friendship.

It's those nights that I hear that voice in my head telling me I'm  no good at this....this thing called marriage or motherhood. This thing called being a Christian. This thing called being a friend. I suck. I whine too much. I cry at the drop of a hat. I stress wwwaaayyy too much. I'm selfish.

I know I should call my parents because it's been a while. I should call that friend who lives far away and see how she is. I should get down on the floor and play with my kids more. I should be on the computer less. I should make an effort to reach out to the ladies at church more...and on and on and on...

It's those moments when I realize that I can't remember the last time I picked up my Bible...or even where my Bible is for that matter.

I wonder why I'm hangin by a thread and why God's voice is so far away...and then I realize it's because I'm far away.

I also realized something else tonight. I'm not alone in feeling this way. So many other women feel this way. Lots of moms. It doesn't matter if you have 20 kids or 1, the pressures are all there. The stress is the same. It's all relative. Just because I have more or less kids than someone else doesn't mean that I feel more or less of the daily stuff that gets us all down.

The key, I think (and who am I really?) is to take off the masks...get real with people. Reach out to others and let others reach out to you. That's hard for me. I don't know if it is for others (although I expect it is since so many of us feel like no one understands what we're going through.)

It seems like we put so much pressure on ourselves to be...something...something more than what we are, more than what we are supposed to be or need to be. Good grief, where does that come from??? Oprah? Dr. Phil? Looking at our neighbor who looks like she has it all together? I bet anything there are times when she sits in her bathroom and cries her eyes out because the weight of the world is too much. I bet we'd be surprised how many times our friend (you know...the one we all have who seems like she's got it all figured out) loses her temper, snaps at her kids, and gives her husband the cold shoulder.

I hope someday soon we can all let it go. Stop holding ourselves up to such unreachable standards and then acting as judge and jury to convict ourselves of the crime we, ourselves created.

Cuz living like that is draining. It's exhausting. It's unhealthy.

Yes, we are women, hear us roar, but more than that...we're human. We make mistakes. So, for Pete's sake...let's go easy on ourselves! If we treated any of our friends the way we treat ourselves, we wouldn't have any friends!


**This is especially dedicated to my friend...you know who you are!**

Friday, January 29, 2010

Let's talk diapers

If I may, I'd like to take the floor for a moment and talk about something near and dear to my heart...diapers.

If I had to list things I'm intimately acquainted with, diapers would be at the top of my list. I have been shopping for, purchasing and changing them for almost 5 years. It was only a little under a year ago that we finally potty trained R. At one point we were buying 3 separate sizes and pull-ups.

Just like the commercials say, in the beginning I bought the expensive diapers. Whoever worked in the newborn diaper marketing department should receive a hefty raise. It was the picture of the tiny baby on the front and the term "swaddlers" that sold me. I didn't give a rip if they were absorbent or not. They had the animals on them that matched our nursery theme. What more did I need to know?

I quickly learned about absorbency after several night changes and lotsa wet sheets later...


Then, a mere 12 months and 2 weeks after R was born, little L came along. Now we were buying twice the diapers and twice the formula, so we had to cut back a bit. I was almost embarrassed to *gulp* buy the generic brand. I felt like less of a mom if I didn't buy Huggies or Pampers. Surely the other parents shopping in the diaper aisle were whispering about me as I quickly grabbed the "Giant Eagle" brand off the shelf. (Actually, they probably were whispering about me, but not because I bought generic, but because I was such a spaz about it. I'm completely serious here...this is not me taking creative license (as I sometimes do!) Oh...to be a first-time parent again!

And guess what...I actually like the generic brands better.

There. I said it.

Not only do they cost less, but they also, er, hold more. Sure, maybe Pampers do smell like baby powder, but once they are *ahem* used, they just smell like baby powder scented poop.

Luvs were on sale today, so we went with them instead of the GE brand. And I have already had to change M and E twice--each--because they wet through. So now I have twice the laundry.

My favorite "generic" brand? Well, I'll try to be as unbiased as I can, but I warn you it will be difficult because: I. Love. Target.

Target's Up & Up brand is awesome. So inexpensive and fits well. We do have some wet throughs here and there, but NOTHING like what I had today with Luvs.

So, any comments? Any other brands I should try? We are always looking for quality at a decent price here in our house.

**By the way...I have not been compensated in any way by any of the brands mentioned here. These are just my personal experiences with different brands.**

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just a rant about things that annoy me

There are some things in life that just boil my backside...enrage me...make me crazy. Things that are so stupid, but, nevertheless, make me completely bonkers. Below is a non-exhaustive list. Feel free to add to it.

1. Typing an entire sentence (or more) only to look up and see the 'caps lock' is on
2. Seeing someone write or hearing someone say "I seen that."
3. Driving behind Mildred for 3 miles with her blinker on.
4. A cashier who chats it up with another employee while (v-e-r-y-s-l-o-w-l-y) checking me out at the grocery store.
6. Those same cashiers giving me dirty looks when my kids are screaming and throwing things out of the cart
7. Little boys who pee on the toilet, the back of the toilet, or the floor
8. Big boys who pee on the toilet, the back of the toilet, or the floor
9. Citimortgage
10. The guy on my street with "little man syndrome" who has 7 exhausts and a ridiculous bass on his truck
11. News reporters who can't speak proper english
12. People who stop right in the middle of the aisle to sort their coupons, check off thier shopping list, chat on their phone, or in the case of the shoppers around here, yell obscenities at their children who are 3 aisles away...
13. Asking someone how they are and getting an hour-long monologue of every ache, pain, and hangnail they have ever had.
14. Having someone say "I'll pray for you" and you know they probably won't. (I've been guilty of this.)
15. Being at a play area and watching other kids be rotten while their mothers are oblivious because they're too busy chatting it up.
16. Having your husband get mad at you for addressing said problem (#15) directly with the rotten kids
17. Citimortgage
18. People who pick their noses while driving...HELLO??? I CAN SEE YOU! THOSE ARE CALLED WINDOWS!
19. Moms who actually cook every meal. (okay maybe I'm just bitter)
20. Moms who come to get their child from nursery (who has spent the last 3 hours terrorizing the other children and teachers) and calls out in a sugary sweet voice, "Yoo Who! Look who's here, precious! Is that mommy's good girl/boy?"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In the wise words of Amy Grant...It takes a little time sometimes...


Joe and I have a little inside joke about when he leaves for work; he says that he's going off to work so we can be nice to each other. Ha Ha.


I don't know why we can be so full of lovey dovey, supportive, "you complete me" messages all day long...and then BOOM...he walks in the door and it's like we've been texting someone else all day. All the usual stuff gets in the way...

The kids are clamoring for his attention
I'm trying to clean up and get dinner on the table
The baby needs fed/changed/held
Joe smells like onions (he works in a restaurant, for pete's sake!)
I don't exactly look like I just stepped off the cover of a magazine
It's getting late and we know we have things we need to do (running for Joe, school for me)

*sigh*

Alas, all the flowery stuff is gone like a poof of smoke.

And then reality sets in...

It's hard to keep it alive, isn't it? When I was young and stupid naive, I used to laugh at those "wise" couples who said to "schedule" time together. "Schedule?" My much younger mocking self said. "That's ridiculous!"

Now I see...yes, it is necessary to schedule time together...

We are trying now to spend some time together in the evening watching some of our favorite shows. (Thank goodness we have DVR and can 'pause' constantly to go attend to the various needs of the children for about an hour...That is excellent exercise, BTW...going up two flights of stairs-from the basement to the second floor and back down-every time someone calls for us...)



We are actually having a bona fide, honest-to-goodness date night soon for our anniversary. We make sure we take one evening a year to remember why we fell in love in the first place. I actually dust off the makeup and put on something besides my "sensible" clothes. Joe gets to be in a restaurant where they serve him...Ahhhhhhhh. Can't wait!

Hmmmm
Wait a minute...
*scratching head and doing the math*
Our anniversary is once a year...
All of our kids are about a year apart...
I'm sensing a pattern here...

I'll have to think more about that later. Anywho...

Soooooooooo...how do you all do it? How do you keep the spark alive after kids and work and all the random craziness that makes up your day?


I can't wait to hear...just remember...keep it PG. This is a family place!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Help Needed


For all the silliness and light-hearted chatter I like to put on here about day-to-day things, sometimes, I do knuckle down and talk about some serious things. Today is one of those days.

It's no secret what has been happening in international news...Haiti has been decimated. Hundreds of thousands have died and so many have been trapped beneath the rubble. There are some stories of a blessed few being pulled-alive-from the rubble, but for the one story with a happy ending-there are thousands more without.


Now, what does a stay-at-home-mom living in beautiful Suburbia, PA possibly have to say about this international crisis? Well, since you asked...

I had to stop watching the coverage after day # 2 because I am an obsessive personality. I take things with me. I dwell on them and think constantly about them and then dream about them. You may call it burying my head in the sand, but I call it retaining my sanity. I have 4 little ones right here in front of me who need me to be pulled together--not a ball of emotion about something that's happened thousands of miles away where I can do nothing to help...or can I?

I have seen an amazing outpouring of love and community within our country for those in Haiti. Just the other night several television stations aired a celebrity-filled benefit for Haiti. Blogs everywhere are exploding with stories about local people who need help or are affected in some way. There is a heart-warming story HERE about a family who cannot find one of the beautiful children they are trying to adopt from Haiti. (This is a great story-please click the link and take a read!) The military is deploying our soldiers to help with the recovery mission.


It really shows the amazing spirit of giving we possess in this country, doesn't it? For all the bad, there is so much more good that we try to do.

Now...here comes my reason for this rant...I would like to challenge everyone who is so beautifully and generously giving to those in other countries to look around in your own communities as well and see who could benefit from your generosity.

I know TOO MANY families right here in my neighborhood who work so hard every day, pay their taxes, and still can't afford health coverage, to pay their mortgage or groceries to feed their families.


My neighbors just lost the home they lived in for 25 years. They raised 2 kids there. Because the husband lost his job, the bank forced them into a short sale before foreclosure proceedings were enacted. There was no help from the MHA (Making housing Affordable) Act or any other government program that was supposed to help people who lost jobs or fell victim to predatory banks (which both apply in their case) and couldn't afford their current mortgage payment.

I know of families who had to go to the food pantry to feed their children or do without necessary medical treatment because they couldn't afford the ridiculous fees. These are families who work hard-sometimes at more than one job, and still can't make ends meet.

My point in all this...and yes, I do have one...is to remember those locally who need our help while we are showing this terrific outreach to other nations. I fear that may make me sound unAmerican to some, but I think I am actually being ProAmerican by trying to help our country so we are ALL in a better position to help others.

If you don't personally know of a family who could use generosity (and many times it isn't apparent), maybe there is a church nearby or a local charity who does. You may be surprised by who needs help, because by all outward appearances they seem like they've got it all together...

Maybe even just babysitting for a harried mom so she can run some errands or bringing over a meal so she has one less meal to worry about, both financially and time-wise. I know I have been the recipient of these things and it was an immense relief. I could go on and on...

My sister told me about an amazing outreach she just learned about (and put into practice) to "pay it forward." If you come across any extra money (I know, I know...who has that, right?) buy some gift cards and have them ready for times when you encounter someone who needs it. We just received one in the mail! $25 to Wal Mart is as good as $1,000,000 right now! I can't say how incredibly blessed we feel!

I don't believe in "karma" per se as I believe that God is in control, but I do believe that we are blessed for the things we do. The Bible teaches in Deuteronomy 24 about taking care of the poor.

James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

I love the spirit of giving...I hope it continues...both locally and abroad.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What the what?


Has anyone else heard that little gem of advice that mothers need to "take time" for themselves. That is such a great idea. Isn't it?

In theory...but in practice, how does it happen? Here's a typical conversation in my head on any given day when I manage to eek out a few precious moments for myself:


"OMG these kids are driving me NUTS! I'm gonna lose it in a minute. Didn't I tell them to put their dirty clothes IN THE HAMPER?! Ah, look how cute they look all dressed up in their costumes. Ha ha, that E is such a bugger. SERIOUSLY?! CAN'T THEY PEE IN THE TOILET??! What should I make for lunch? No, R doesn't like that...Why does E always have marker on her face? These floors really need scrubbed. I should wash all the sheets. What time is it? *sigh* Wonder what time Joe will get home tonight. Ha Ha, that's so funny, that L! I love the things he says. Oh, M! Another 'up the back' poop?! I've seen so much poop already today...I am NOT scrubbing that onesie...in the trash you go...I have a paper due tonight. Oh for crying out loud, they're fighting AGAIN?! If I could  JUST HAVE 5 MINUTES TO MYSELF!!! Oh, I can go to the grocery store when Joe gets home. Oh good, he's home!..."


(walking out the door while all three kiddos press their noses to the glass and wave goodbye)

"They're so sweet. I miss them already. Ahh, why don't we all just go..."

Am I the only one who has that crazy problem? I swear, I can't get out the door fast enough, peeling little grubby hands off my legs, and then when I do...I miss them.
It's seems like that could qualify as certifiably insane. Am I really the only one who struggles with this? I dream, cry, beg and plead about time to myself and then when I get it, I feel so guilty leaving that my entire plan is hijacked!


I know it's necessary, but I am so wired to care for them, and I spend every waking minute so many hours a day with them, that when I'm away from them...it feels like part of me is missing. When I'm driving in the car alone I have to stop myself from pointing out every school bus (I'm like a tour guide for my kids. They love school buses..*shrug*) or asking if they saw the doggy we just passed.

Anyone else have this? Please do share...If you have been able to move past that self-guilt trip, how did you do it???

**By the way...those aren't really my kids in that picture. Yes, we do have a big family, but not quite THAT big...although, you never know with us! ;)

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Top 10 Fave Posts

It's time to tidy up. Clean house. I am picking the Top 10 Posts that I think represent me the best....

Click the title to view the post. And here we go...

1. Mommy Angst
2. Get Real
3. Livin' the Life
4. The Heart of the Matter
5. More About Nothing
6. Sigh
7. One of Those Days
8. Road Rage
9. Coffee Please
10. Cinderella

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My friend Crista


Allow me to introduce you to my friend Crista. She is an amazing woman I met at church last year when she and I worked in the same classroom on Wednesday nights.

She's quiet and laid back. My first thought when I met her was, "I bet she would be such a cool friend." I never dreamed I would actually get to learn that I was right first-hand!

Crista wrote a book called The Little Frog. It's a children's book that teaches us to:

Forever
Rely
On
God.


Although it's geared toward children, it speaks to people of all ages.

Crista also just recently found out she is having a second Little Frog book published called The Little Frog Learns the Golden Rule.

These books are great because they teach God's principles in a way anyone can understand.

Check out her first book by clicking on the link above/left or visiting her website: http://www.cristastewartslittlefrog.com/
 
(Yes, I am shamelessly promoting her!)
 
The message is just awesome! It talks about trusting in God when we don't understand things; like, in the Little Frog's case, being 'different' physically.

Love, Love, Love this book! I think you will too!! =)


One meal down...

...hundreds to go!

I have the first meal of my new self-challenge under my belt. It was virtually painless!

My first meal: Baked Penne

It wasn't any of the yummy baked pasta dishes that anyone sent me. This one was sort of haphazardly put together with the ingredients I had available. (I will still make the other baked pasta recipes I got from you all, though!)

Here's what I did:

1/2 box of Fit & Active Whole Wheat Penne Rigate
Whole jar (Reggano Traditional Premium Pasta Sauce (an Aldi buy. I prefer Heart Healthy sauces, but this was cheaper!)

3/4 cup Fit & Active mozzarella cheese
1/3 Morning Star Farms Meal Starters Grillers Recipe Cumbles
1 Box frozen mixed veggies (as a side)

I boiled the noodles until al dente,
poured half jar of sauce on bottom of casserole dish, added penne , little bit of cheese and crumbles, then more sauce and more cheese. Covered with foil.

I boiled the veggies-doesn't get any easier than that.

I popped it in the oven on 350 degrees for 20 minutes and voila! The kids LOVED it. R had 3 helpings and E ate every last bite. Keep those recipes comin'!

Maybe this cooking things is all it's cracked up to be!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Calling all Chefs




Okay, all my culinary friends out there...I am embarking on a challenge. In an effort to cook more, I would like to collect recipes from all of you. Not just any recipes, though...

Send me your favorite recipes that do not require any fancy ingredients. I'm a very basic girl. I require simple instructions and no frou-frou fixin's. If you could keep the cost low too-all the better!


As I make each meal (probably 1 every week or so) I will blog about it to tell you how it went. This could get really interesting.


Not exactly Julie & Julia, but close. However, there will be NO boning a duck here...

That's it! I'm excited to see what comes my way!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Call me Mrs. Frugal

I have finally discovered Aldi.

It took me a while to really buy into it (no pun intended) but I am now an official card-carrying member of the "we love Aldi" fan club. (Is there a facebook page for that??)

Joe and I conducted an experiment today. We rounded up the kids this morning after breakfast and strapped them in the sweet periwinkle minivan to go grocery shopping. (This included me putting E's shoes on the wrong feet and wondering why she was walking funny, but that's another story!) That in itself isn't too daring, but we had $160 to get groceries for a family of 6 (including diapers for 2 babies) and hope it lasts at least 2 weeks.

We started at the dollar store and loaded up on some snacks (or as our kids call them "ittle nackies") like crackers, chips, cookies, etc. All the things that cost hundreds of dollars at Giant Eagle. That was $24 right there...yes, that is a lot of snacks, but I also got batteries. Yay! They even had D batteries for Max's swing there: 3 for $1!!!

Next, we ventured on to Aldi. We paid a quarter for our cart rental (which I used to think was just so unorthodoxed) and spent approximately $69 there. We got tons of stuff. Last, we finished up at Giant Eagle for the things that we can't get at Aldi like the Eagle's Nest (what a life saver by that time because R and L were dangerously close to taking a trip into next Tuesday compliments of the end of my foot), baked chips and fat free cheese. =) Oh-also the milk is comparable to Aldi if not cheaper at Giant Eagle.  That total was about $57. We even have enough to splurge on a Little Ceasar's $5 carryout pizza for dinner tonight! =)

While I understand that my grocery shopping habits may not be that exciting to anyone else, I just had to share how cool it is to save so much money on groceries!

Any other tips from you savvy spenders out there? Any suggestions on how to stretch a dollar even further? I'm looking to make ole' George Washington cry.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mommy Angst


This picture is a little old, but like many moms, I seem to be behind the camera more than I'm in front of it. I obviously need a new shot of me with all the kids since E's just a baby in this one and poor M is nowhere to be found.

So yesterday was an amusing realization that I have a big family. The pediatrician's office called to tell me I'd missed M's appointment that morning. I looked at my calendar and saw there was no appointment (could this be the card I gave my new friend Heidi when we met at the grocery store?!) and we had  just been there for M's well-baby check up a couple of weeks ago. Nope. The receptionist said that we were supposed to be there that morning. Then, I told her I have it written on my calendar (aka: my lifeline) that M's appointment is the 25th. Nope again.

Okay. I was officially stumped. I had R run and grab my wallet so I could dig through pounds of useless junk and random paraphernalia until I found all of my appointment cards. I knew it! I found the card for M that said the 25th. Finally, the receptionist and I compromised on a new appointment in February. Done. I apologized again for missing an appointment that I don't remember making and admitted that I'm losing my mind; making up appointments and missing real ones.

After we hung up the phone, I started thinking...we were just at the doctor's office, but I could swear it was for M. Then I remembered, it was actually for E but since I had all the kids with me, everyone got a surprise flu vaccination while we were there. That's why I was confused. If I can't keep track of pediatrician visits, how in the world am I going to keep track of dance recitals, soccer games, football practice, and countless other extracurriculars??? Especially if I'm the one schlepping them to all these things???

How do you moms do it? Especially you moms who cook?! It's no secret that Joe is the gifted one as far as cooking in our family, but I'm already breaking out in a cold sweat thinking about having to cook healthy meals, wash uniforms for 4 different kids and get everyone where they need to go...on time...that's another of my weakneesses. The clock and I don't see eye-to-eye. I think it speeds up when I'm not looking, but my sister will tell you my "distance needed to be traveled and the time allotted to get there" expectations are not realistic.


To top it all off, we may be moving to a different part of Pittsburgh and where R will go to kindergarten is all up in the air. One area where we may settle has kindergarten registration starting FEBRUARY 1st!!!!!! Now, I know that technically you can register anytime, but this has me all stressed out. I like to know and plan, not play it by ear. If you have ever read one of my posts you know I don't deal well with waiting. You also know that I am not looking forward to the first day of kindergarten. The tantrums, the crying and pleading to stay home...it's going to break my heart. And I'm sure R will be nervous too. =)

So, moms...how do you do it? I know some moms who are just as sensitive as me and cried every day until school started (and then a few days after) and I also know moms who waved a chipper goodbye while drinking their morning coffee and making plans for lunch. I'm afraid that won't be me. Does it get easier? I imagine it will, but when?

What are some good questions to ask at kindergarten orientation? From those of you who share my Christian convictions, what are some issues I should address and questions to address? I would love some feedback!

Another question...how strict are the "no loitering" policies at most elementary schools for, say-- hypothetically speaking, of course-- a woman with her nose pressed to the window of the kindergarten room?

Well, I'm off for now. I have a play room that, once again, looks like a tsunami hit it. But I know I'll miss this in just a few short months.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In the weeds


My husband has this phrase he uses at work when they're really busy, He says they're "in the weeds." I've never understood it. He's tried explaining it.

I read Matthew 13:24-29 tonight and it's about weeds. I've read this verse before and never really got this meaning from it. I think it's kind of cool.

Here are the verses:

Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.

When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'

'An enemy did this,' he replied.

The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'

'No,' he answered 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them together to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' "




I know this is referring to when Christ returns and takes believers back with Him, but I got a whole new meaning from reading it tonight.

Could "weeds" maybe be the trials and struggles we have in life? Have you ever heard the phrase 'those things that don't kill us make us stronger'? Maybe it's along those lines. If God were to remove every obstacle from our paths we wouldn't be shaped and refined. We wouldn't have to build character and strength and endurance. We would be...spoiled. I get the most satisfaction out of things that I work really hard for and attain. The things that are handed to me don't hold quite the same value. (I still appreciate them,  but not to the same degree.)

I also think it's interesting that the weeds did not come from God, but the enemy. So those obstacles we face are not necessarily from God, but allowed by Him. Hmmm...

So...maybe God allows our weeds (whatever that may be for each of us) to sift out those who are tough enough to endure and persevere to the end.

Very deep and philosophical, grasshopper.

If you were looking for humor, sorry...I have my thinking cap on tonight!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Get Real

One of my all-time favorite Casting Crowns songs is Stained Glass Masquerade. If you have never heard it, lucky for you I am going to paste the lyrics below! You've never heard of Casting Crowns? *gasp* You don't know what you're missing! click here to hear the song and see the lyrics.

Stained Glass Masquerade

Is there anyone that fails

Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

'Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong


So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them


*Chorus*


Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade


Is there anyone who’s been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who’s traded
In the altar for a stage


The performance is CONVINCING
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart


But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be


Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay


Chorus x2

Well if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade


Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

Oh how I love this song! It really could have been written by me. (Note: when no one is around, I belt out the part after the first chorus like nobody's business! If I ever find this song on karaoke, look out!)

I got to watch a funny exchange last Sunday as I was walking through the parking lot at church. One guy was getting his two small children out of the car (I think he actually had one tucked under his arm like a football)and another was walking past with his own children. The second guy asked the first guy how he was and the first guy responded, without missing a beat, "Livin' the dream, partner." I don't know why that makes me laugh. I just laughed as I typed it. I laughed at the time, even. Out loud. Right in front of both of them. I couldn't help it. It was so obvious that it was said tongue-in-cheek.

And then I thought, don't we all do that? It doesn't have to be at church. It can be at work or school or the grocery store. It's not like we're going to (or should) launch into all of our struggles and headaches when the cashier asks us how we're doing, but sometimes I take it a step further and offer a huge smile with a hearty, "great!" Meanwhile, 5 aisles ago I was threatening E's very life if she threw her bottle out of the cart ONE MORE TIME, worrying I wouldn't have enough money to get all the groceries I need while simultaneously counting down the days until the next payday AND mentally tallying all the bills that still need paid.


So, no, I'm not "great." Yes, in the grand scheme of things I'm good-maybe even terrific because our family is healthy and we have our basic needs met, but why do I always feel like I have to pretend. Why do I feel obligated to put my best foot forward-even with close friends and family? I'm not talking about unleashing on my sister when she asks how my day's going, but to give myself the freedom to be real with those I trust; with those who are supposed to be there as support.

Our church family should be those people as well. Those people who support and encourage whether it's physical, spiritual or emotional struggles we face. Instead, it's sad, but all too often Christians shoot their wounded.

I've said it before and I will continue to say it because I want it to be second nature for me...I just want to be real.  I want others around me to be real. I want to make others comfortable enough to be real.

I've been met with mixed reviews about this blog. I actually had some anxiety about writing today because I know some people just don't "get" it.

I agree that my way of thinking or the level of sharing I do may be an acquired taste. Some just don't understand why I am making these random thoughts so public. First of all...it's terrifying...second of all...I don't completely know why!!! It just evolved from my blogging about the reading I was doing in Matthew to this. Whatever this is.

For those of you who have told me you enjoy the blog. Thank you so much. For those who don't enjoy it; Why are you still reading? Ah ha! Caught you!

Most importantly...Christ was real. There was no pretense with Him. What you saw is what you got.

I want to be that person. I want there to be no guessing if my character is gunuine or not. Won't you join me??? It's not easy, but I think it's so worth it in the end. We aren't perfect (And who am I kidding, I couldn't be further from it) but I also don't want to pretend to be anything other than what I am, what God made me to be.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Livin' the Life

So, the children and I are just sitting here doing crafts. I'm dressed in my freshly laundered and pressed chinos, white button-down oxford and loafers. My makeup is perfect as is my recently washed and styled hair and manicured nails.  R and L are wearing freshly pressed khakis and polo shirts with starched collars. E is in a flowing, ruffled, tulle dress, white patent leather mary janes, ruffled socks and a crisp bow in her shiny, clean hair. And M is sporting a cozy, soft burberry romper with nary a smudge of cereal, formula or spit- up to be found.


Everyone is chattering on peacefully. We munch delicately on the homemade chocolate chip cookies that I baked from scratch, after vacuuming and shampooing every rug, dusting every room, and scrubbing every hardwood floor on my hands and knees, of course. All of this is after I awoke at dawn, jogged 4 miles and then ironed Joe's clothes for work and packed him a healthy, nutritious, organic lunch.

We take turns reciting the alphabet, memorizing scripture verses and the periodic chart. R, L and E are sharing beautifully. Not a fist or voice is raised in anger. Not a toy is out of place. E is coloring perfectly in the lines. The boys replace every cap back on the markers before reaching for another. Not one bite of glue stick has touched their lips. Is that soft music playing in the background or is it the sound of angels singing?

No, it's the sound of reality rearing its ugly head.

Wouldn't that scenario be awesome??

Instead, what has actually taken place is: the playroom is a mess (make that a disaster), there are costumes all over the place and there are countless un-capped markers strewn about along with scissors, paper, matchbox cars and puzzle pieces. E has dry-erase marker all over her face and just threw her sippy cup at me because she's mad.

I'm still in my sweats, complete with spit up on my left shoulder (kind of a staple on every shirt I own.) The boys are...where are the boys? M is sleeping peacefully, although I don't know how.

It's almost 1pm and we have yet to eat lunch. I just remembered there's a dirty diaper upstairs in the hallway that I meant to throw away, but I can't because the diaper pail is full. Fur is starting to grow on the shower walls in the bathroom. And we are down to about a half gallon of milk.

However...E and I played with her ballerina costume, we put puzzles together and gave eachother butterfly kisses all morning. The boys took turns "scaring me" in their Spiderman costumes, cutting up paper with their new safety scissors and watching shows on Sprout. M played in his exersaucer and watched all of us with a silly, happy grin on his cereal-caked face before drifting off to a much-needed nap.

Yes, I am livin' the life.

It may not be storybook perfect, but it's mine and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Friday, January 8, 2010

As good as it gets

God is so good!

I wholeheartedly set out today to write a whining, self-indulgent, woe-is-me post.

And then God did His thing.

Here's how it originally started...

It's one of those days already...it's only 11:30am.


Unfortunately, Joe did not get the job. That's so frustrating. We prayed last night that God's will would be apparent and that the door would be unmistakably closed if it wasn't meant to be, but it still stings. This job just seemed like such a great opportunity for so many reasons. Now, my heart breaks for my husband who is so unappreciated in his current position by owners who are so lacking in their integrity and their ethics. I've had to watch too many times while he gives so much of himself (often at the expense of me and the kids) to people who don't appreciate it one bit...people who couldn't even be bothered to say "Merry Christmas" let alone give a card or a bonus, even though the company is making money. Makes me so angry.

I know, I know...I have already told myself all the things we have to be grateful for. And believe me, I am so grateful. I just need a moment to vent.

We have 4 beautiful children
Our children are healthy and happy
We are healthy and happy
We have a home that we love
We have a job, when so many don't
We have groceries
We have family who loves us
We have friends we can count on
We have each other
We have a wonderful church that has been there for us in so many ways
We have a God who knows what's best and won't leave us on our own-even when we think we can do better without His guidance.


I know all of these things and believe them...but when things like today happen.--the job fell through, bill collectors call, M has peed through his diaper about 3 times already, a glance at our bank account is depressing, and E purposely spilled almost a full box (our last one, I might add) of M's oatmeal all over the office--I just want to go back to bed. I want to call in sick.

But, God gives us just what we need. Oh how I sometimes wish he would lavish us with the material things that we want, but in my heart I know that's not what is best for us.

Joe asked me if he should try to pursue a lower position within the company he interviewed for. We talked about it and we wanted to research the pay rate a little more, so I googled it. I didn't exactly come across the pay scale, but what I did find was so much more valuable. It was a website that rates different companies based on location, salary, quality of life, respect, and other things. This website, with comments from current and former employees, painted a not-so-great picture of the company. It appears that if Joe had accepted this "dream job" he would be in the same type of environment that he's in now, and maybe worse.

Thank you, God.


I found this site after having a big ol' pity party for myself complete with tears and snot and plenty of "when will we get off this roller coaster?" comments to God. His answer was to show me that we would have been no better with this job. See...we really DO need His guidance. I firmly believe that.

And so...we are just going to stay put and see what comes our way, if anything. Waiting is the worst. I'm no good at it. But James 5:7-9 says:

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The judge is standing at the door!"


I am a professional grumbler. I excel at complaining. I am second-to-none in feeling sorry for myself.

Those are "honors" I'm not proud of.


I want to be content in all that I have and where I am in life.

And when I 'm honest with myself, where I am and what I have...is actually pretty darn awesome!

Pictures, Top -Bottom: 1)Joe and I doin' a cheesy self taken picture, 2)Our home, 3)Our beee-u-tiful babies, 4)Me and my sister Missy, 5)Me and my sister Mindy, 6) Me and my friend Theresa
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