Tuesday, December 30, 2008

For the Love of Despereaux

I know, I'm a bit hung up on this mouse. Not merely because the book was so enjoyable, but because Zane has developed such a fascination with this little rodent.

It's funny that my children have yet to associate Despereaux with the two mice we took out just last week. Like the Cook in the book, I do not want mice in my kitchen. And unlike her, I will not be sharing my delicious and very legal Italian Wedding soup with any little creature with whiskers and the ability to bend its body like a young Cirque du Soleil performer with the intent of invading my house through the tiniest crack. Sorry fella's. Enter, George, to do the dirty work. Spit spot. Mice gone.

Zane went to bed talking about Despereaux and woke up this morning talking about Despereaux. Having seen the movie preview, he has now taken it upon himself to act out lines from the film.

I have been instructed, directed, even, to say, "Are you a rat or a mouse?" To which Zane replies, quite dramatically, "I am a gentleman", complete with a little bow of sorts.

I could freakin' faint on the spot.

After some review reading tonight, I'm afraid that the film won't live up to his expectations, but seeing as I've never really followed reviews, unless of course they referred to me as being "charming" in a show, (to which I quickly abandon my former belief and agree that the critic is right on the mark . . .), I'm sure we'll enjoy it well enough. Maybe, it will serve as a reminder for Harper and Zane as to why their Mom is always pushing books on them prior to seeing the film.

We finished Book 4 of Despereaux tonight. An hour of reading. Hot chocolate in hand (mine with a little added, ahem, "kick" of something special) and some cupcakes we made today. Having spent the entire day inside waiting for the furnace guy to come for the clean and check, we needed some entertainment. It's amazing how calm this winter break has been. Reading, baking, writing thank you notes (Harper helped), Wii (Lego Star Wars is Harper's fav after Wii Sports), and, yes, a little bit of homework for Harper everyday - I'm so mean.

It's been fantastic.

I really enjoy my kids and while my not working a true part-time job has definitely taken a financial strain on us, I think there is a reason for my being home while they are home.

Because I love them. Just like Despereaux loves the Pea.

Because I love them.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Come on. Admit it. You know you like having stuff.

You have stuff everywhere.

In the front hallway, the kitchen counter, on the reading chair or sofa, in the closet, the junk drawer, the attic, the crawl space, the dresser drawer, the sideboard, the shed, under the bed, on the wall, on bookshelves, in file drawers, all piling up in an endless accumulation of items which will ultimately turn out to have very little impact on the quality of our lives.

A wise friend of mine once replied to her child who had just stated, "Oh, I just love that such in such!", with "We do not love things. We like things. We love people."

Well said. I've taken that statement to heart.

My friends may find me a bit extreme on the subject, but secretly, they want me to come over to clean and organize their offices for them (shout out to Trish). And while they secretly want me to come and clear out the unnecessary clutter, they would certainly have a conniption over every tossed item.

Fess up. You know it's true. Purging, if you are not accustomed to it, is very difficult.

Our house has a rule.

If we haven't touched or used or spoken about a material item within the year, we give it away (shout out to Jason and daughter Linnea who are loving their "new" rocking chair), consign it (shout out to Monica at Hand Me Downs), or donate it (shout out to Junior League Thrift House).

And lest you think that my children would rebel against this type of thinking, take in these words by Zane, as he did a possession review (shout out to Angie) on Christmas Eve of all days.

"Mom, I can give this box of blocks to a new kid. I have so many other blocks."

See, we've been doing this since they were babies. It started with a mountain of stuffed animals that had taken over Harper's bedroom as a toddler. We would hold up a stuffed and furry item (as long as it wasn't Snowman (shout out to Raymond Briggs), or another for which she had developed a true affinity) and ask, "Keep? Or go?" Harper would then decide the fate of the said stuffed creature.

Frankly, my kids do not have a lot of toys. Of course they have their favorite toys - those stay put. But the stragglers? The one's they've outgrown both in age and interest? Buh-bye. And they have even less from our clean-out the day before Christmas. For standing in the hallway is a large box filled with toys that they, THEY (not Mom), have decided to donate. Yes, I oversaw the process with my traditional, "Keep? Or go?" questions as I held up items. And yet, I respected their answer by either returning the item to its place or dumping it in the donation box.

It can be done.

We started early.

A yearly possession review is, and I shudder to think that I am about to quote Martha Stewart, "a good thing."

But wait. I'm not trying to get all high and mighty or uppity on you. My kids rooms are a mess. Harper's desk is a frenetic, scattered mess of stickers and papers and little chotskies, leaving no room for it to be used as an actual desk. I wouldn't dare touch those special items. Zane's room is a dangerous terrain of blocks, matchbox cars, and action figures with sharp weapons that seem to camouflage themselves until a parent's shoeless foot comes into view.

So, no, I'm not announcing perfection here.

But let's help our children make choices and decisions about their possessions while they are young. For maybe, just maybe, their generation will make wiser choices with their spending then ours has.

Despereaux and the Pea

I'm on my second reading of the The Tale of Despereaux, the first taking place just a few days ago between Christmas Day and the day after Christmas. The second happening over the past 3 nights, with the exciting conclusion, which is being talked about with great anticipation by Harper and Zane, planned for tomorrow evening.

For my kids know their Mom's rule: No movie until we've read the book.


The Tale of Despereaux is broken down into 4 "books", of which I've been reading aloud one a night. And while I got lost in the story while reading it to myself, reading it aloud has proven to be even more exciting. Even I am excited to see the film on New Year's Eve.

Zane, who has sat through many a novel, is thoroughly enjoying this one. Particularly any part of the book that has to do with Despereaux, Princess Pea, and love. He always surprises me. I think he's not comprehending what I'm reading, or paying attention, when 'lo and behold, I am proven wrong. Terribly wrong.

"Mommy, I am Despereaux. You are Princess Pea."

"Ok, Zane. You are Despereaux and I am the Princess Pea."

"Yes. Because I love you. And Despereaux is in love with the Princess."

I kiss him.

"No! You can't do that! People don't kiss mice! Because they have icky skin!"

"Oh. I'm sorry."

"You can kiss me again when I am Zane."

We then gathered around the computer to watch the preview of the movie. Zane decided that we should all be characters. Me, the Princess, Zane, the brave mouse, Daddy, King Philip (as Philip is his middle name - although Zane misunderstood this thinking that "King Philip" was George's middle name), and Harper, well, we just couldn't imagine her as the Queen (deceased), or Miggery Sow (she was just appalled, and rightfully so, at Miggery's plight beginning with the death of her mother, to her being sold into slavery by her father, to the "clouts" at the hands of her "Uncle"), so we all agreed that she would be the Princess Pea's beautiful white horse.

Before bed, Zane just couldn't stop talking about the story. And as I exited his bedroom and closed the door, I could still hear him muttering aloud to himself, "A mouse who loves a Princess. How can that be?"

We're planning a reading of The Indian in the Cupboard next . . . and of course George is still reading them The Hobbit. We are really looking forward to finishing that one so that we can once again see the animated movie that we remember from childhood.

I am thoroughly loving this winter break.

We may have no food in the house, but we happily gorging ourselves on books!

No Extra Credit for Aldi


I can hear you warning me.

"Be careful about what you blog! As the most current company with whom you have taken issue may find the post and call you out on it, and ask you to remove it, and then you'll have to grapple with your convictions about forgiveness and reconciliation and relationships, and, well, you know, all that stuff that you struggled with the last time this happened."

But, reader, this time, my gripe is not with a local business concerned about retaining their reputation so that they can actually remain in business in this awful economy, but rather a large international company, that doesn't offer one the ability to even call a customer service number to share comments and complaints. Seriously, I've combed their website. I can write in, as in U.S. Postal Service write in, but email, phone call, fax? Nada. Nope.

Aldi's prices are cheap because they sell "off" brands of many goods, (although one can also pick up Tyson chicken as well - antibiotic free even), do not offer free bags (I bring my own), or free carts (one needs a quarter to borrow a cart), nor do they take credit cards or personal checks. Cash? Yes. Debit cards? Yes . . . er, well . . .




Yes, unless their machine can not read the customer's card.

And so there I stood, after shopping for 45 minutes with two kids, staring down a really long line of customers, (isn't that always the case when there is trouble at the register), and a full cart of groceries waiting to be bagged, only to find that the machine wouldn't read my debit card. My debit card which I had just used in another store. My debit card. The only way I could pay for my groceries at Aldi.

To his credit the cashier did attempt the old "wrap the card in a plastic bag and swipe" method.


"Can you just enter it manually?"

"No. It's illegal for me to enter it manually."


As in, against the law?

Ok, I'm no law enforcement officer, or lawyer, and perhaps in this day and age of identity theft, there could be a small sliver of truth to this statement, but isn't that why a cashier would then call a manager? To get "Manager Approval" or "Override" or whatever the term is that allows at least one employee to enter a number into the system so that a purchase can be made?

Apparently not. He turned and started ringing up the next customer.

So we turned to leave.

But not before Harper got her quarter back from the shopping cart rental. She wasn't leaving without it.

I guess Aldi did stand up their promise of saving me money, as the $90 allotted for groceries is still sitting in my checkbook.

But I'm pretty hungry.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gifts Fit for a King

The wise men brought him spices and perfumes.

Just last night during our Advent reading, Zane shared, "I would like to give Jesus the gift of my love."

I think this is a perfect gift for the God who has everything.

Harper also had a gift for God. It was a little different.

"I will give God the gift of questions. I've got a few!"

I immediately asked her if she would share what she wanted to ask Him.

"Ok, I'll tell you, but you can't answer. He needs to answer. How is it that he gets up there 'on high'?"

We're thinking of having a "Question Notebook" handy for her to jot these questions down from time to time.

Love and questions.

Wrap 'em up and check God's name off the gift list! He's not getting socks this year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This Could Get Ugly

Oh, Sophocles. Thanks for nothing.

For now, each time my adorable little Zane shares, "Mommy, I'm sad. I'm sad because Daddy already married you and now I can't", I am faced with Oedipus Rex. A lovely feel-good family tragedy.

And don't even get me started on Freud.

My kid simply loves me. Ok, so he wants to marry me - he's three, well, pretty much four, and thus I'll allow him to lament that the girl of his dreams has already been taken.

Wallow away little man.

And keep those hugs and kisses coming.

For I don't really care what the oracle said.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Apparently, this approach really does work.

The term layoff is horrific when referring to employment.

But attach it to the subject of potty training, and I say, "Bring on the pink slip!"

My son needs to believe that he is in control of using the potty. He needs to think he is in charge of this. And wouldn't you know that he has been accident free for 2 days now. And that includes EVERYTHING, people. EVERYTHING. I think the boy has actually shocked himself.

I only began this new approach on, what? Tuesday?

No, no, no, I certainly don't believe we are done. We have however, turned a corner. Today we actually traveled down an entirely new street.

I am calmer. Zane is more calm. George is more calm. Everyone has just calmed down. We don't focus on it. And, as a result, potty training has lost its "power".

Quite simply, Zane just took himself to the bathroom each time he needed to go today. He then washed his hands, announced that he had gone, and visited the treasure box. I said a very subdued "good job", told him what a big boy he was, and then dropped the discussion and went about my business.

I shut up.

I shut up and got out of his way.

I laid myself off.

I look good in pink.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Silent Night

Our family, like many, has an Advent tradition of gathering together to read various stories, scriptures, and devotions every night during the month of December. It is true that the kids like to rush through this portion of our tradition to get to the second:

The Advent Box

which holds, behind each tiny door, a chocolate coin, or Santa, or tiny toy (which used to thrill Harper who now comments, "Why are all my toys made in China?"), or a slip of paper with a note that says, "The ban on TV watching on school nights has been lifted for the Charlie Brown Christmas Special!" and "This certificate gives the bearer one Itune download!". I try to be creative.

It was easy to find 24 tiny gifts when Harper was into rock collecting.

Zane? Chocolate. Shoot, I could fill every one of his compartments with 1 chocolate chip. He'd be ecstatic.

Harper, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult now. Someday, I'll fill her box with charms for a bracelet, as I attempted to do so last year, only to find that the interest wasn't there on her part. The Advent Box forces me to be very mindful of their personalities. It makes me stop and think about my children - their likes (Zane=chocolate) and their dislikes (Harper=chocolate). In doing so, it also reminds me of their love language.

Zane's love language is hot chocolate.

Harper's love language is not a charm bracelet. It's time. Quality time.

During our reading time last night, I pulled out a book about how the beloved Christmas carol, Silent Night, came to be. The book was long. Well, not long as in chapter-book-long, but rather, long in topic. I just didn't think it would capture or keep her interest. Whether she enjoyed the story or not, I did know that she would remain throughout the entire reading as long as it meant that the two of us got to stuff ourselves, side by side, into the same reading chair in the living room. Time together.

We read through the entire story, and upon reaching the last page, we found the very music to Silent Night.

"Sing it, Mommy."

Ok, this is the kid who tells me that I can only sing with the band at church. Not in the kitchen, not in the bathroom, and certainly not in the car or God forbid in front of her friends. Sing? Did I hear her right?

So, I began. As I started the second verse she asked me where I was in the music. I showed her and continued.

And then it happened.

Suddenly, on the third verse, my solo became a duet WITH MY DAUGHTER! It was one of those moments where I just had to hold it together or lose the moment. While the words of the song were coming out of my mouth, the words in my head were saying, "Don't make a big deal out of this or she will stop singing!"

She has never sung with me. EVER.

Ok, the kids may want to rush to the Advent Box portion of our yearly tradition. But not on this night.

Not on this night.

This night was calm, bright, tender, mild, heavenly, peaceful, and silent, accept for Mother and Child lightly singing the last verse of this beautiful and simple carol.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth "

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Rebel Resistance is Strong





No more diapers!


Back to Pull-ups.

More Pull-ups.


Back and forth and back and forth. And up and down and down and up. And yes. Nope. Got it. Don't.

The US Gov't should use potty training a 3 year old boy as a means of torturing our enemies. Forget water boarding. Want to break a terrorist? Order them to potty train Zane. It'll reduce them to tears and make 'em talk.

Toilet Training Resistance. What is it? Really, do I need to go into a formal definition? For the sake of time, let's just state that THIS is the problem with my son. Zane is clearly winning the battle for control and power.

And after combing the Internet and talking to mothers, teachers, myself (scary), and Zane, I've decided to take a completely new approach.

I will shut-up.

I will transfer all the responsibility to Zane. I will not lecture. I will not remind. I will not scold. I will give incentives . . . today we made a "treasure box" full of small items from Constructive Playthings - LOVE THAT PLACE - that he chose. We decorated the box, poured in all the toys, candy, and STAR WARS POSTCARDS, closed it up, placed it on the dining room table, and voila! His choice. He can either have something from the box or not.

I will not lecture. I will not remind. I will not scold. I will, however, help, and reward.

I've got a whole other list of suggestions, from a pediatrician, on how to handle resistance. And mainly, they caution ME about running my mouth too much about it.

I had one last talk with Zane today, as suggested. I told him that he was going to be 4 and that he could make the choice whether to go in his pants or in the potty. I told him I loved him, that I would help him, and that I would enjoy opening the treasure box for him whenever he goes.

A few accidents later, plus a few trips to the treasure box, and everyone is more calm. No fighting, no "Why, Zane?", just "Oops, accident! Let's get you cleaned up" and "Great job! Let's get the treasure box!"

We'll get there.

We'll get there.

We'll get there.

Ok, I'll shut up now.

Feeling Flushed

I finished the 21 day "flush" or "detox" or "purge" or "cleanse", depending on what you prefer to call it, on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving weekend I drank coffee, (not the enormous amounts of which I was used to prior to the program), had cheese and crackers, ate stuffing, pie, etc. The regular Thanksgiving fare.

I didn't feel horrible afterwards, but I certainly didn't feel as great as I had over the prior 21 days. I don't think the occasional indulgence at the holidays is going to be retired altogether, but I will definitely be taking steps to watch the overload of dairy, gluten, and sugar, on a weekly basis. I do not have an allergy, which is good, but I do have a sensitivity, and my body is just happier without those pesky items.

I'm down to one or maybe two cups of coffee a day, and a ton of herbal tea. I love green tea with mango.

My head is clear. Not just the brain - but the sinuses also.

I'm able to multi-task with energy. A must for any mom to be sure, and yet, it's changed from a frantic, whirlwind, tumbleweed on speed pace, during which I forget things, misplace things, and even bump into things, to a calmer, manageable flow that doesn't leave me completely whipped and exhausted at the end of the day. I am accomplishing more and wasting less time.

My children say I am goofier and more fun.


George has experienced other perks.


The laundry still isn't done, but everything else is smooth.

I feel really good. 21 days took 7 pounds off my frame, got me used to eating more fruits and vegetables then I've ever eaten, has me experimenting with making my own salad dressings, introduced me to Larabar, helped me to habitually take a multi-vitamin and omega-3 oils daily, and . . . has my husband asking if he thinks that coming off of dairy would be a good thing for all of us. Even Zane, I fear, has a problem digesting milk. How do I know? Trust me.

Our grocery bill has increased . . . unfortunately buying fresher and more often can do this. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

I recently found out that I can use the walking track at Weber in Skokie without being a member of their workout facility. This, my friends, is the next step. Why I didn't know this before last week drives me crazy. Never would have bought (only to sell) the elliptical had I known I could walk/run indoors for free all along.

This was definitely the kick in the pants that I needed to jump start me to a new way of eating, thinking about eating, shopping, and preparing meals.

And as for any concern I had about seeing a chiropractor? My chronic neck and upper back pain has not reared itself since this entire process began. I didn't buy a fancy new pillow or a new office chair. No new contraptions for the neck. I have been getting adjustments every week - cheaper than a weekly massage - since, well, he's treating me for free. This is the longest I've gone without have some sort of even the tiniest lingering pain.

I'm glad I challenged myself.

Now, I want to learn to cook and bake with more whole foods . . . bought some fresh small artichokes this week. Anyone have a good recipe for them?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Exclaimed loudly, during a silent moment in church last weekend as I attempted to remove my "Little Chewie", Zane's new adopted nickname for himself, from the service:


Well, my petite Chewbakka, refrain from squirming and squawking like the Wookiee you presume yourself to be, and your Dad will draw whatever you like.

It's official.

He's completely hooked.

Next up . . . Zane's magnadoodle depictions of Jabba the Hutt.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Anyone wanna win this really cool printer?

Check out this link and enter for your chance to win!

Epson Giveaway

Although, just so you know, even though you may enter, I will win.

I will, I will, I will.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pants Shmants

Zane is totally into Start Wars right now. We're finally up to watching Episode 6: Return of the Jedi.

Zane wants to be a Jedi.

He has several obstacles in his way.

First, we only own one light saber.

Secondly, potty training involves the stripping down to the skivvy's while hanging out around the house in order to make things easier to manage.

This second obstacle does not sit well with the young master Zane.

"MOM! I can't be a Jedi without pants!"

True, my young apprentice.

But, I also believe that Jedi's do not poop in their underwear. I'm fairly certain about this. Pooping in one's drawers is only done by those who have joined the dark side. Is that what you want? To join the ranks of the dark side?

I think not.

And thus, you will overcome these obstacles.

A second light saber we can obtain.

Continuing to be known as the pantless Jedi?

The choice is yours.

Use the force little man.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thank you, kind Sir!

I'm currently in a really good place.
Sure, the purge is helping. No doubt.

I'm more active.

My mind is clear.

Clarity is a great substitute for fuzziness.

I feel good. Like James Brown good.

And on Tuesday, I was just blessed. Simply put. Blessed. By random acts of kindness. Yeah, yeah, the kind that Oprah has probably gone on and on about because of some book.

I don't think we're wired for kindness.

We're wired to receive it.

But, I'll go out on a limb and say that we're not quite wired to give it. We do, of course. But more often than not, at least in my case, I tend to think about myself before I think about others. It's hard to look that truth in the face. I challenge you to stare it down.

Anyway, back to Tuesday. It's as if it was, "Show Joline a little kindness day".

On the way out of Great Harvest, which is just chock full of kindness by way of free bread slices, I ran into the father of a former student who is now, gasp, a senior at Northwestern. How can my students be graduating from college? That's another story.

Anyway, we spoke and caught up as we walked to Starbucks so I could grab some tea, and Zane some chocolate milk.

Well, this gentleman just wouldn't dream of my picking up the tab for my drinks. He purchased my tea and Zane's drink and then we walked back to our cars. It was such a "chance" meeting, as he doesn't live in Evanston, but was just down for the day visiting his daughter.

Very sweet.

I visit a great market on Dempster every week, as I just can't stand the enormity that is the Jewel or Dominicks - although I do shop there, I tend to prefer the smaller market. So Tuesday, as I was putting Zane in the car, a lovely older couple came over to the car, saw me loading all the bags and Zane into the car, and said,

"You've got your hands full. Is this your cart? Let us return it for you. You do so much."

It's the little things.

But wait! The blessings continued. Even if the next one is sure to kill me.

Out of the blue while I was making lunch, I hear the most glorious little voice, and turn to look into the most glorious blue eyes,

"Mommy, you are beautiful."


"Are you going to cry now?"

Um, yep.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

21 Days

This used to be me.

Ok, maybe I'm stretching the "used to be". It's only been 3 days.

I'm not convinced that I'll be completely giving up my literal cuppa joe after my 21 day dietary detox comes to an end, but I may have to adjust the amount I drink every day.

So, for the next 18 days just refer to me as Cuppa Tea.

How is it going?

Glad you asked.

Day One: I was plagued by a day long headache which felt as if an anvil had been dropped on my head and someone was proceeding to pound on the anvil with a jackhammer. Yeah. It was bad. Dizzy. Light headed. Foggy. The feelings you would expect to experience while on a starvation diet. Funny thing was, I was eating every 3 hours. The program allows me GREAT food. Whole foods. No processed junk. Plus, no gluten, no dairy, no sugar, and no coffee. So, just imagine this bagel buying, cheese chewing, sugar salivating, coffee craver going cold turkey (I can eat cold turkey). Not even delicious fresh fruit smoothies, steel cut oatmeal (yummy), amazing salads with tons of veggies and chicken, plus snacks, helped. This was an immediate clue to the fact that my dietary habits have been affecting me more than I have realized. Afterall, shouldn't healthy whole foods make one feel good? Well, yes. But, for me, on Day One, they didn't. Popped the Advil and thought to myself, "I can't do this."

I am also using some supplements grown on an organic farm up in Wisconsin that uses their vegetables to make supplements. I use their shake powder (who knew that brussel sprouts and collard greens could end up in a smoothie powder), extra fiber tablets, and next week, will begin taking a whole food supplement.

Day Two: Woke up feeling FULL of energy. Got up at 6:15 to make my very large breakfast which consisted of a shake, with the supplement powder as the base, and a banana, blueberries, strawberries, and flax seed oil. Also had a hard-boiled egg and steel cut oatmeal. Seriously, breakfast prior to Friday's start had always been a cup of coffee and some bacon. Got through the day just fine. No headaches. I really do enjoy making "garbage" salads for lunch: salads with every chunky veggie one can find, plus lean protein. I'm also making my own dressing. Olive oil, balsamic, spices. Can't wait to experiment with grapeseed oil, lemon, or apple cider vinegar. I have ideas. And making my own dressing is so much cheaper! Dinner? George made a chicken in our clay pot (we LOVE our clay pot) and I made sure to eat just the white meat with some broccoli and red bell pepper on the side.

As a result, guess who are also eating more vegetables? Hint, one uses Nutella.

Day Three: This was the day that would really show whether I was truly feeling better or just feeling a placebo effect. I led worship this morning and had to be at church by 8:00, ready to rehearse and sing for two services. I was up early and feeling fantastic. I had a huge breakfast and found that I wasn't even hungry until around 1:00 when we arrived home from the morning. The other interesting development is that I felt less congested when I awoke - which is rare. I almost always have some nasal/vocal issues in the morning, regardless of whether I have a cold. Not today. I just feel better. And I'm waking more easily - no hungover feeling.

Lunch was my "garbage" salad again (threw in avocado and hard-boiled egg this time) and for dinner I made turkey burgers and veggies. Which reminds me that I need some good recipes for artichokes.

I have also been enjoying a variety of green tea's (the only caffeine I can have) and decaf herbal tea's. That, combined with a little over 64 oz of water day, has me leaping to the rest room more often than normal, but hey, that's all part of detoxing the body, right? Flush it out baby.

My energy level is HIGH. I have been able to handle general household stressers (messy kitchen, the laundry monster, potty training - not myself - I make it to the bathroom just fine) with more ease. George is wondering who has invaded my body to motivate me to actually fill and empty the dishwasher.

Fuzzy brain? Not so much right now. I'm just handling things better.

It's only Day Three, so I don't see any external changes, but I do, without a doubt feel a difference inside. But I do need to incorporate exercise. George has been great about exercising every morning, so maybe I'll try and join him tomorrow - if I have time - I have alot to eat for breakfast and that may not leave time for working out . . . :)

Before I began this process, I had my weight and fat % checked. It will be interesting to see how this changes as of November 27th. Thanksgiving Day.

How appropriate that my 21st day will be Thanksgiving Day. Did I plan that well, or what?

Friday, November 7, 2008

You Mean It Was This Easy All Along?




Zane has been using the potty successfully for about 3 days now, due to a new found love of Target Practice.

I remember reading somewhere that little boys need help with aim. Well, Zane's aim has always been fine. His issue isn't with hitting the target, but rather just wanting to use the target in the first place! Sooooo . . . the other night, as I was gently prodding him to use the potty upon realizing that he was a tad bit wet, I had blinding flash of the obvious.

Throw funny things into the toilet (of the flushable and floatable variety) and turn training into a game.

We've now learned that Cheetos and elbow macaroni float. Zane has a container of targets in each bathroom and can grab one, drop it in, and then go to town. The reward, of course, being Halloween candy.


I know that Cheerios are great for this, but Zane doesn't like them, and thus, there is no allure to throw them in. Cheetos and pasta, however? Perfect. I hear there is a product one can buy - shapes that dissolve in the toilet . . . but isn't it so much more fun to find things in the kitchen that can float and be flushed? Complete silliness.

And Nutella. Who knew that Nutella tasted great on carrots, red bell pepper, and other various vegetables? Well, I don't, as I'm on the 21 day detox and thus I didn't even lick the Nutella off the spoon after putting some in a bowl for Zane. But Zane knows. He loved dunking carrots and apples in it today.


So, targets . . . good for successful potty adventures.

And, Nutella . . . good for successful vegetable adventures.

And a big Mom DUH!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Countdown to Detox

If you follow my blog, (and thanks if you do), then you know that I am pretty transparent. I have no problem sharing my honest innards. You may find this pretty crazy, or self serving (a need for attention). I find it freeing.


Many of you have also watched the process we've been through with Harper since Kindergarten. You've watched us move through confusion, fear, frustration, evaluation, prognosis, and treatment. She has come out of the entire process with flying colors. In fact, we are now in the stage of giving her "vacations" from medication on the weekends. I've written about how much she has grown in previous posts, so I won't rehash that. Simply put, she's doing great. If you have read everything I've posted about Harper and then happen to meet her for the first time, you might demise that we are delusional regarding her ADHD. Sometimes I even wonder if she is still struggling underneath her incredibly humorous, brilliant, and vivacious outer shell.

You have also watched me, in an attempt to adapt to the happenings of the last two years, leave behind a coaching business, open a home business, communicate my heart and soul through writing, and attempt to regain a "normalcy", only to find that "normalcy" is a fallacy. If we keep hoping for normal, we reject the present blessings that God has given us each day. I trust and believe that "His mercies are new every morning". And yet in my attempts to find strength and power in our "new normalcy", I have struggled abysmally.

Harper has been doing great now for 6 whole months.

I however, have never returned to the optimum health that I lived in 2006.

Eating healthy? No. Consistent exercise? No. Organized house? I know, I know, many of you think it's ridiculous that I would describe myself as disorganized, but I am. Memory loss? Frankly, my short term memory has had some scary little dips. Spiritual life? Actually, pretty good thanks to Moms R Us and singing in the band, but my personal devotion times have been a constant struggle. Fellowship? Yes, but many times I'd rather just stay home. Retreating from getting together with people or leaving behind activities that were once fun? A little. I probably have the lingering effects of a non-diagnosed bit of depression. The days exhaust me. I'm irritable. Impatient. My brain and my body are fatigued.

I will be 40 this year.

Thank you. I don't think I look it either.

I will be 40 this year and I will NOT enter this year in defeat. I will return to optimum health. But, doing so will take a hefty commitment and a change of lifestyle. I need to break out of the terrible habits that were adopted over the last two years.

And thanks to an impromptu comment from a friend of mine - whose comment I truly believe was voiced through the Holy Spirit - I will be embarking on a journey to seek health by unconventional means.

Beginning on Friday, with the help of a new Doctor (a chiropractor/acupuncturist/nutritionist) who has a commitment to treating Pastor's and their families for free, I will be starting a 21 day detox plan to begin purging all the muck I feel inside. What muck?

Little do you know that I wake up feeling "hungover" every morning. Without caffeine I can't get going. Period. I am in a constant fuzzy or scattered state. I have developed chronic neck and upper back pain. My hip joints hurt. Playing anything physical with the kids knocks me out. I am exhausted by 5 or 6 and don't want to leave the house. I have sinus infections and what I believe to be undiagnosed allergies - and I really don't want to resort to merely taking allergy med's, as I think some natural remedies will actually be of more help. I struggle over making healthy meals and end up binge eating. It's like I'm ADD. Seriously. This is no way to live. At least, not for me.

This is not me.

So, I will enter a 21 day detox, during which time I will most likely remove gluten, sugar, and who knows what else. Yep, it's a flush of the entire system. Should be really pretty. I will also be meeting with the Doc weekly for adjustments and stretching.

All free.

It is such a gift. It's unbelievable that my friend even mentioned the guy - as we weren't even talking about health at the time. And it's no surprise, as the Holy Spirit just loves surprising us, that after this conversation came a second similar one with another friend, completely unrelated to the first. She too shared her remarkable results through a 21 day detox program. Maybe unconventional methods are catching.

I am excited. Really excited. I don't feel like me and I need to feel like me again. I think I am most excited to have someone else developing a plan for me rather than attempting to do so myself. I'm a pretty good rule follower and will follow a plan that is handed to me. I do not, however, have the patience to create one for myself.

What can you do to help? Support it. If we're out and about and I refuse to eat or drink something, don't press me with "Oh, come on. One little bite can't hurt." This is not helpful. Just be supportive. I can pig out with you some other time. Hold me accountable. Take it seriously with me.

I'll keep you posted on the results . . .

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Ok, it's no surprise that Evanston is otherwise known as Obamaland.

Don't be fooled by the photo. George and I are voting for Senator Obama.

But what does a parent do when their kid, while trick or treating, walks up to a door, and refuses to knock on that door because it is sporting a McCain/Palin sticker, and thus turns, and leaves the property?

I don't need a parent manual to tell me that this is not good.

I told Zane he needed to be bipartisan and march up to that door. He was rewarded with a Milky Way. Too bad for you, Harper.

Yes, Harper has been learning about both candidates in school and has registered to vote in her classroom on election day. She, and her classmates, have also written letters to whomever will be our next President.

And while we have also discussed the election in the house, we have told Harper that she needs to read the informational brochures on each candidate, (child friendly material), and vote for the candidate of her choice.

"Yeah, I already know I'm voting for Obama because McCain stinks!"

Um, wait a minute.

"Where did you hear that"?

She shared that a few students in her class had mentioned that McCain was no good and stunk. My heart broke. Broke. I have failed. No awards for Mom in this house today.

"Harper, speaking about Senator McCain that way is completely disrespectful", said the mother who dissed Palin verbally early on . . . I've redeemed myself . . . "and I hope you understand that both Obama and McCain love this country and want to do the best job as President. They just disagree on how to do so."

We then discussed the issues in her handouts. As much as one can actually discuss the issues with a 7 year old. I was surprised, however, by her questions, and her conclusions as they pertained to each issue highlighted in the brochure.

"Mom, why are we in a war with Iraq"?

I stumbled through explaining 9-11 (having previously touched upon the events of that day after reading a book from before 2001 which still showed the towers standing, two skyscrapers which Harper mentioned interest in visiting one day) and how after the attacks we believed that Iraq was possibly protecting terrorists, like the ones who hurt and killed many Americans on 9-11, by allowing them to stay in that country, and that Iraq also had really bad weapons, or RBW's, that could threaten us. I then shared that these weapons were never found.

"So why are we still fighting with them?"

"Harper, I do not know."

"Did they find the people who hurt our country when I was a baby?"

"No. But they think the person who planned the attack is in a country called Afghanistan." I told her his name. (Updated on November 2: I really didn't want to explain suicide missions to my daughter and thus, I told her that the people hadn't been found.)

"So, why don't we go there and get him?"

"Well, Harper, it's difficult."

"Well, I think that if we keep sending Americans to Iraq then the war will just keep getting bigger and go on longer. So I disagree with it."


We talked about education. Harper didn't like the word "compete" when it came to schools competing for the best teachers. In her young 7 year old mind, she took this to mean,

"So will all the best teachers only be in a few schools, then? What about all the other schools?"

I realize that all this is watered down and that Harper can't possibly comprehend the entire scope of the issues, but she came to these conclusions on her own - at least she is beginning the process of thinking critically.

She also decided that "all children should be able to go to the doctor".

Now, I know that she can't really make an informed choice at 7 years old, and that she is completely influenced by the fact that Obama signs have become yard ornaments around here, but I am really glad that we are talking about the election. I'm glad that there is material out there for parents to use when discussing the candidates with their children.

I do hope, however, that parents are actually having discussions with their children and are not simply telling their child that one candidate is better than the other, end of story. This does nothing for their ability to think critically. These men are not deities, and don't encompass true "hope" and "truth", so I feel quite comfortable discussing both candidates with Harper. And truth is, she's hearing stuff in school, from other kids. I can't ignore that this is happening. It's like a discussion about sex. Can a child this old really understand it? No. But if she came home repeating something of a sexual nature that she picked up on the playground, then I best be ready and available to discuss it.


I felt compelled to apologize to Harper if I had said anything to make her think that McCain "stunk". She assured me that she had heard it at school.

I wiped my forehead.

Still, after her comment from last week, and then her refusal to trick or treat at the house of a McCain supporter, I really needed to discuss respect. Both my respect for both candidates, and, well, ok, their running mates as well . . . and her respect for the candidates.

She is 7.

What was I doing when I was 7?

Discussing politics?

I don't think so.


Caramel Apples Are Good For Families

Wanna guarantee a great after-dinner dialogue between parents and children?

Make caramel apples. It's a long enough process to get everyone involved, and eating them takes time, thus insuring that no one will be darting away from the table in a flash.

Our evening was so good, that seriously, I don't even know where to start here. All I know is that caramel apples, as much as they are just down right horrible for teeth, are fantastic for families.

At least ours.

We spent the second half of the day at home. We needed a day at home. One of those lazy Saturdays where you just hang together. No agenda. Well, other than making caramel apples after dinner, an activity which you keep dangling over the head's of your children as a bribe throughout the day, in order to make the day run smoothly.

After dinner, we began the process. And what we thought would just be a fun family activity turned into one of the best family gatherings around the dinner table that we've had all year.

It began with Zane.

"Mommy! You are sitting next to me! Because you love me!" Zane is all about the love. The saying you love, the showing you love, the hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the snuggles, the rolling up into a ball and curling up in your lap. It never gets old.

And then, Zane, who is mesmerized by all things four, "because I'm going to be four", begins telling us how when he is big, he will be a doctor.

"When I am big, I will be a doctor. A doctor for children. To make them feel better."

"That's great, Zane! When did you decide to become a doctor when you grow up?"

Zane looks straight at us. His face clearly reveals that he is dead on serious.

"God told me I am going to be a doctor."


Things continued. We broke into a spiritual discussion during which Zane basically ingrained in us that Jesus is God and that sin makes Him sad and that He is alive. After he finished preaching we asked the kids how they know that we love them.

Harper responded first. "Because you tell us and hug and kiss us all the time. Too much."

To which Zane jumps in to defend our honor with an emphatic reply, "NO! IT'S NOT TOO MUCH!"

Ok, then.

The evening began to wind to a close by Harper inviting us into her room for a surprise. She had her light pointed at the ceiling as a spotlight and asked us to either sit in the balcony (up on the loft), or on the floor. Zane and I chose the loft. George took the floor. Otherwise, as Harper told us, he would block the spotlight. Such a lighting technician.

And. Then. It. Happened.

Harper busted out into a very well choreographed, "Gettin' Jiggy With It". And I'm telling you, putting all "mommy lovin' her child no matter what" aside, that her moves were in time, very creative, and actually fit the music. She left the room for a moment afterwards at which time George and I had a brief moment to share a "what was that" moment - completely non-verbal. We were in disbelief. The girl can dance. I mean, really. Dance. I told her that taking a hip hop class was kind of like taking a tennis class . . . minus the racquet and balls and net and everything tennis. My point being, that just as she tackled a tennis class where she knew no one, I would help her take a dance class if she had any inkling to do so.

Then Zane pops in again. The doctor who knows God, points at a painting in Harper's room of the feeding of the five thousand and states, "THAT is a God picture".

I have always said that I love my children so much that it hurts.

And tonight, sitting around a dinner table, sharing caramel apples, and just simply talking, reminded us why, every now and then, we just need to be the four of us with anything to do on a Saturday afternoon and evening.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Second-Hand Rose

I am a true second-hand shopper. I love consignment shops and thrift stores. I find it more enjoyable to pick through a full rack of shirts, sweaters, and pants of all different colors, styles, brands, and, well, former owners, than shopping in "real" stores.

Except for undergarments. I do have boundaries. I'm not wearing someone else's skivvies where the sun don't shine.

Shopping second-hand is also essential for my budget. I simply can't afford to shop at regular department stores. I mean I'm a regular Joe Six-pack with a Main Street Joe the Plumber standard of living. True middle class, baby.

Although I admit, I do take the occasional escape to TJ Maxx to scour their clearance racks where this weekend I can get a $10 clearance blouse for 25% off! They are having a sale on their clearance items this weekend!

Second-hand stores and clearance racks. Yep. That's me. Things are tight right now.

And then I saw this. At first I was merely checking out the hip outfit so that I could go and duplicate the fashion at one of my favorite clothing haunts.

But then I looked more closely.

Let me say that I think Piper is darn cute. And frankly, I like her name. How couldn't I? I named my girl Harper.

But this is pitiful.

I mean, come on. McDonald's? Yuck. What is this teaching our children?

McDonald's? Please. Let's get the girl some food with nutritional value. Can't they afford to feed her properly on the campaign trail?!

Ok, I admit, I do take my kids to McDonald's once or twice a month, but I think the Republican National Committee can afford to spend a little more on Piper's diet.

It's wrong. Really wrong.

Oh, and one more thing.

Can I have the Louis Vutton bag when they donate it to charity?

Is there a list of some sort where I can jot my name down to be considered as its next owner?

I mean I really like the bag. Oh, I realize Piper is 7, so really I should give the bag to Harper, my 7 year old, but I kind of want a Louis Vutton for myself. My 39 year old self.

But, that's ok, I can just wait and see if one pops up at the local Junior League.

I found a real Gucci once.

Maybe I'll get lucky again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hey, Boo.

If you know me well, then you know that I am obsessed with Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird". It was the first book I remember reading which made a lasting impression on me. And while I wanted to name my first born Scout, I just couldn't, as Demi Moore had just done so, and I was sure that people would think I was attempting to go Hollywood.

It was Andrew Bernstein, my neighbor when we lived in the condo on Monroe Street, who actually gave us the idea for Harper's name. I think it went something like this,

"Why don't you name the baby Harper if it's a girl?"

It was perfect.

Now, my Grandma's name is Lee, but seriously, could I really name my first born Harper Lee? No one would even believe that the middle name was her Great Great Grandmother's name. No, they would just see . . . Hollywood. And, out of respect for Harper Lee herself, who would find it absolutely ridiculous that one would even name a child after her, I decided against Lee as the middle name. Instead we went with Ella, after George's Grandmother.

I've told Harper how much I love reading and have shown her the card, above, which is actually in her baby book - a vision of a quality I saw in the daughter I carried. A painted prayer, if you will, that my daughter would embrace reading as I do.

So, you can imagine my glee when Harper came home from school today with her very own paperback copy of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone".

"Mom, look what I bought at the school bookstore!"

Harper has an account so that periodically throughout the school year she can choose and purchase the books of her choice.

"Honey, we have all the Harry Potter books", I answered, secretly excited that she had chosen the books (as she also picked up "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"), but thinking more about the money wasted on books we already owned, rather than the fact that Harper had made her own choice.

"Yeah, but they are too big and heavy to hold."

She had a point.

She then ran upstairs, settled into the beanbag chair under her loft and read Harry Potter.

I found her in bed later that evening finishing Chapter One.

The funny thing is . . . I first began reading Harry Potter while pregnant with Harper. In fact, I remember clearly my father purchasing one of the books for me the summer of my pregnancy with her.

And now? She's hooked.

I am awestruck at how much she has grown since February when we first began to investigate options for helping her. She has had an incredible inner growth spurt this year. Incredible. She's vivacious, inquisitive, enthusiastic, funny, effervescent, imaginative, and becoming more and more of a risk taker.

Many have told met that she's a new kid.

Nope. She's my old kid. Returned. As all those adjectives above actually described Harper at age 3 and 4. They just quietly disappeared around 5, and have now begun to resurface.

And wouldn't you know, that after all the discussion I've had with her about my favorite book and my favorite line in a book, she now knows that she can just tug at Mom's heartstrings by simply tilting her head, staring at me with those huge, expressive blue eyes, and muttering, "Hey, Boo."

I love that line. Scout discovering Boo for the very first time and yet realizing that even though they'd never actually met until that fateful night, she had truly known the real Boo all along.

Hey, Harper.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Name Game


I'm not sure I've ever sung The Name Game with name of a presidential candidate in the lyrics.

Obama's name is perfect for this song. Apparently, the folks over at Lowercase Tee thought the same thing - before I did - thus cashing in on it.

So, we're singing it the other night while enjoying one of our favorite Evanston traditions of eating pizza at a window seat in Whole Foods while waving to people on the street who seem like they need a lift, hoping our waves will get a smile and a wave in response, when my hilarious daughter goes deadpan and says,

"I like that song. You just can't rhyme McCain."

We decided at that moment to take the kids to the local democratic office so that they could see how volunteers help with a campaign.

There were people on the phone, buttons being made, posters everywhere. Even an Obama clock.

That was a little much.

I would like a bumper sticker stating, "I'm voting for THAT GUY".

And Harper found that McCain could be rhymed. With "the same". McCain: more of the same.

Walking into that office was a far cry from 2004 when I marched into the Republican Office to share my support of Bush after passing someone on the street wearing a t-shirt that said, "Bush is a terrorist".

I've changed.

And my children are going to witness history. Incredible history - for a nation, which, in my opinion, is still racist.

Harper will be having an election in her class, so I am currently hunting for material that states the candiates platforms in a language she can understand, for even though we are an Obama household, I'd like to see who she would choose on her own.

I think Obama has the edge, though. Afterall, he's got the cool song.


Recently, George began reading "The Hobbit" to Harper and Zane. They are really enjoying it.

Not to be outdone by my husband, I decided to begin reading the Harry Potter series to Harper. Zane listens while playing with blocks or Lego's on the floor, and just like when we read "Prince Caspian" is actually catching the major themes of the story. This is evidenced by his outfitting two kids at the park with magic wands (sticks) at the park today.

I love reading chapter books to my kids.

Yes, they really do sit and listen.

No, they don't constantly ask, "Where is the picture?"

Harper and I have read "Little House in the Big Woods", "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", "The Incredible Journey of Edward Tulane", "Prince Caspian", "Because of Winn Dixie", etc. In fact, Harper has become a fan of Kate Dicamillo, and is now reading a series she's written about a pig named Mercy. It's cool that she is finding authors that she enjoys. Her ultimate favorite has got to be Mo Willems. She is really coming into her own with reading, even enjoying a A to Z Mysteries which she'll read while curled up in bed at night. I have this vision of her staying up completely passed her bedtime reading under the covers with a flashlight. Yes, I'd be overjoyed if she were that kid.

I've always prayed that my children would have a love of reading. And for Harper, that spark has really been ignited this year as her confidence with reading has grown.

And, now, I get to read Harry Potter again! WITH VOICES! And I get to delight in my son coming down the stairs covered in a blanket proclaiming to be Hagrid, "who is a giant".

What I need to find are stories about robots for my little man. And beavers. We're still on beavers. In fact, we're on to being robot beavers. He's my little imaginative robot beaver.

Thank you, my dear treasures, for allowing me the ultimate pleasure of reading great books to you.

And thank you for finally allowing me to do the voices!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Quotable Zane

"Mommy, you are so cute."

"No, Mommy, you are actually so sweet."

"Well, actually, Mommy, you are CHOCOLATE SWEET."

Now that is a compliment. Especially from Zane.

And lately, my son has been completely into beavers. Being a beaver. Talking about beavers. Sharing everything he knows about beavers.

And where did he suddenly pick up all this valuable information?

"I learned about beavers in school. With my mind."

School for Little Children is indeed an ivy league in early childhood education.

And the study of beavers.

And I'm sure more quotable moments are coming down the pike. George is currently reading The Hobbit to the kids, Zane just watched the first two Harry Potter movies, and is now, at this very moment, watching the second Star Wars film.

As much as I kind of hate to admit it, Zane likes "scary" stuff, and robots, (and beavers), so any concern I had about him listening to The Hobbit or watching these particular movies, I've replaced with actual conversation about what he is hearing and seeing.

So, yeah, for such a brilliant mind, one would think he could just use the toilet on his own.

Ha. Yeah. We can only hope.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Little Wise Guy

Just look at him. Snuggler and cuddler one minute, and master manipulator the next.

After listening to Zane play for an hour and a half in his bed, during what was supposed to be naptime, I enter his room to ask him if he even tried to sleep.

"Zane, it's naptime! Did you sleep?"

Pause. Cute eyes. Sweet cheeks.

"Well, I did put my head on the pillow."

Head tilt. The non-verbal equivalent of saying, "Aren't I irresistibly adorable?"

Dumping in the Pull-Up
I'm thinking that Zane has done his daily unload, and yet I'm not sure. Rather than checking, I ask him, point blank, whether he has gone, as we are working tirelessly on teaching him about telling the truth and lying.

"Zane, did you poop in your Pull-Up?"


"Zane, are you telling Mommy the truth?"

"Yes. I didn't poop."

"Good. I won't be mad if you pooped. But I will be angry if you are lying."

"Well, lying IS a problem."

Glad he thought so. He missed out on movie night due to lying. A mother's nose knows.

Upon entering his room after a long nap. His, not mine - are you kidding?

"Oh, here comes my cute Mommy!"

Aw, cut it out, will you?

Friday, October 3, 2008

I Have a Bow and Arrow and I Know How To Use Them!

Dear Indian Scout punk,

Yeah, I know all about how you were smitten by my daughter last weekend. Your little Indian Scout cronie ratted you out in the buffet line at dinner. I wasn't sure I overheard the exchange correctly when he yelled, "Hey, girl in the red tank top! He likes you!", but a member of my tribe confirmed that she indeed had a suitor.

Hey, pal, how old are you anyway? 8? 9? Are we seriously in the "liking" stage at this point in your development?

So, what was it about Harper that had your heart all up in a-twitter?

Was it the fact that she could match you arrow for arrow on the archery range?

If so, I should warn you.

So can her mother.

I know there is a stereotype about the actual Indian Chief of the family, dear old Dad, being the one going all back-woods crazy over a boy coming a callin' on his daughter. And that may be true. For most families.

But in this family? It's Mama who can wield a bow and arrow.

And while I don't own a compound bow (yet), acquiring one is only a Craig's List click away.

Whiz . . .

Missed you on purpose. This time.

Here's to your natural development,
Harper's bada*% Mother

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Has green living created a class system? Of sorts?

A world where we all take on different shades of green to reveal just how earth friendly we actually are?

Think about it.

Are there green snobs? Those who wear a darker, richer shade of green than others?

I'm just asking.

In our home we use the right light bulbs, recycle, attempt to compost in George's handmade composter, have replaced paper towels with microfiber cloths, have reuseable water bottles and won't buy bottled water, purchase recycled toilet paper, use green cleaners and rechargeable batteries, own one car, donate unneeded belongings and try to repurchase second-hand in order to cut down on waste, and are doing our best to make changes that better our lives and our environment.

And yet, we're not totally there.

Zane wears disposable pullups: although I am delighted to say that while wearing underwear in the house today he took the initiative to do the deed on the toilet. I like my skin care products: they are not all natural or organic or paraben free. Alot of paper doesn't get recycled: just check the trashcan under my desk. Food gets thrown away every day: I didn't polish off the entire box of macaroni and cheese today - the last remaining bits found a new home in the trash. I can't afford to go organic and shop exclusively with local farmers: Whole Foods is out of my league. And yes, sometimes, I throw away plastic bags.

Does this make me light green? I ask because sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, I feel sub par when in the presence of the kelly green's of our world.

Maybe it's just me, but I sense the lingering scent of an "us" and "them" mentality.

Is it just me?

So, what shade of green are you?


a work in magnadoodle

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hunger Pangs




My Mom's group is currently studying a DVD series entitled "Organic God". It isn't about how God would choose to shop locally at Farmer's Markets, or would choose foods without additives - although I do have a hunch that he would have. I just can't see God munching on a fruit roll-up. I think He'd just eat an actual piece of fruit.

No, this series is encouraging us to strip the toxins from our relationships with God. The toxins that can invade and taint our walks with God, thus restoring our relationship to the freshness that we desire.

Toxins? What? Well, I don't know what your toxins are, but mine are a bunch of nasty chemical's called "shoulds".

I should have an established quiet time every day. I should pray a certain way and have a really long and organized list to show for it. I should, I should, I should.

And, actually, I should . . . but not in the manufactured or contrived way that I can fall into just as easily as I blink.

The idea of praying for a spiritual hunger is prevalent throughout the series, and I must honestly say that this idea startled me a bit. I have indeed experienced a time in my life, prior to having my precious children, where I tore into the Bible and scribbled furiously in a journal every morning while planted at Newport Coffeehouse - my stop on the way to work at Trinity every day. I read and wrote and wrote and read and prayed and pondered and drank coffee, and discovered incredible nuggets about God that left me full up inside. I never prayed for spiritual hunger. It just . . . was. It was natural.

Times change and life phases change and with those changes come a shift in how we meet with God. Gone are the 60 minutes with Bible and journal and pen in a coffeehouse every morning. Arrived are the spits and hurried moments where God still graciously meets me. In these fractured and scattered attempts to seek Him, He continues to share with me the way He knows I learn best: in black and white.

So today, as the women shared together in small groups, I realized that perhaps I should be praying for a new spiritual hunger. Should - in a good way, rather than a pressured way. I want to. I'm not feeling obligated to, as if doing so is merely an errand to be checked off on a list of other random "to do's", but rather, I'd really like to see how God will respond to my asking this of Him for myself. And for George. And for the kids.

I realize that all too often when I need an escape or relaxation, I default to getting lost on the internet, in my blog, on facebook, or on-line newspapers. I default to another cup of coffee. I default to reading. I don't necessarily default to God when I need refreshment. And it's not that I want God to necessarily be the default . . . but I must wonder why He isn't even that for me on on a daily basis. Why do I not escape with Him? Even for five minutes?

I don't want a hit or miss relationship with God. I want true refreshment, where I can actually sit down and enjoy a meal, rather than settling for a quick snack while standing at the counter.

I would like to see God become my "go to" rather than my "resort to".

God is no spiritual rebound guy.

As my small group then pondered loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, He spoke to me. Clearly. A picture of a pumping heart entered the movie screen of my head. Not a red Valentine's Day heart. An actual beating human heart. Pumping blood throughout the body. And then. It slowed. And stopped. The body went cold. With the stopping of the heart, the soul vacated, the mind quit firing, and all strength was gone.

Yes, we should love the Lord our God with all of our being, and yet, for me, right now, God is saying, "Love me with your HEART. For if your HEART fails, all else fails. Without a beating HEART there is no soul, there is no mind, and there is no strength. Soul, mind, and strength leave the physical body when the HEART stops beating."

And this thought made me hungry. Hungry to rekindle my emotional relationship with the one God who gave His blood for me.

So, this is now my prayer for myself. And for the members of my family. And for my friends. I pray for a new spiritual hunger. A hunger which finds refreshment and fullness from deliberately seeking God, rather than merely resorting or defaulting to Him as an afterthought. A hunger which starts in the beating heart and pumps life giving blood to the rest of the body. It's a simple thought, really.




"Organic God. It's like falling in love all over again."

Out With the Old, In With the New

On Saturday, we celebrated what we like to call "Bed-O-Rama". With the help of our friends, Myron and Alyssa, (or as Zane likes to call them: Myron and Syron), we successfully dismantled Zane's crib, which was then handed over to soon to be parents, Myron and Syron, moved Harper's twin bed into Zane's room, and built Harper's loft.

I say, "we", but I missed most of it, having spent the first half of "Bed-O-Rama" shopping for bedding with Zane, who chose a Transformer's theme for his comforter and sheets. No, truly, it was George and the Crockett's who did the heavy labor, and then I came in for the finish. And by finish, I mean finish. Every detail. I was whipped into an organizing fury. I wanted to make sure that every piece of both Harper and Zane's room was set for Night One in new beds.

We had a wonderful afternoon with the Crockett's: recycling never-to-be-used-again baby gear to these first time parents to be, eating way too many homemade cookies, moving toys, clothes, and furniture, watching a little football over lunch, and then putting the finishing touches on the rooms so that the kids could walk in and give me a big 'ole "WOW!"

I got the response I wanted. Zane was so enthralled and actually slept all night without a peep. Harper, home from a neighbor's block party, went absolutely ballistic, and spent the rest of the evening in her "nook" under the loft reading an A to Z Mystery.

And me?

I cried.

Seriously, the last of the baby stuff goes to consignment next week.

And while I do not desire to have another baby, there is definitely a feeling of intense closure happening in my gut. Just seeing Zane snuggled down tight in a bed twice his size, and Harper reading independently in her cool new digs, gives me a tiny sense of loss and makes my scar sting a little.

And as I think upon the words Zane shared as he crawled in his new bed for the first time, "Um, Mom, my legs can't reach the end", I can only imagine how very quickly his legs will be able to reach the foot . . . for zero to three flew by me. Thank God that this boy loves to snuggle.

Sleep well my treasures! Enjoy your new rooms. And yes Harper, Mommy will still be kissing you every night - a ladder can't stop me. And congratulations on losing that upper front tooth tonight!!!!!!


Tearing up.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Village? A Little Help Here . . .

There's kind of an unspoken rule at the playground.

Or so I thought.

I have always believed that when at the playground, one doesn't only keep a lookout for their own kid, but also the well being of other children.

If a kid trips at your feet, you help them up.

If a child can not find their parent, you assist.

If a little one is about to run into the path of moving swing, you either physically stop the swing, or the child - whichever you can reach more quickly.

I've been attempting to open my circle a bit by getting out to parks with Zane more frequently and striking up conversations with mother's and/or nanny's I've never met. As I have found that way too often I have met a new parent and shared a quick chat without ever really properly introducing myself.

Today, I had the good fortune of bumping into a parent who had taken my toddler tunes class with her daughter. She introduced me to her friend and we began a conversation about music classes in the area. I glanced over to see Zane playing with a broken branch - climbing it, etc. It was big enough for climbing, having been broken from a nearby tree during last Saturday's storm.

I wrote the name of an area music class that I would recommend on the back of my card and handed it to the mom I had just met for the first time, and then looked up to see that Zane was no longer on the branch. I turned. Turned again. Spun in a circle.

I couldn't find him.

I began jogging back and forth, glancing every which way.

I couldn't find him.

My two friends immediately branched out. The park was crawling with children, parents, and Nanny's, so I was certain that he was still in the area and that I just couldn't see him, but the painful fear that struck my core was almost paralyzing. An inner mantra of "Find him. Find him. Find him," ran on a continual loop as I realized that I needed help. So, I stood in the middle of the playground and yelled loudly, "Everyone! I can't find my son. Please start yelling, Zane!"

My two friends continued looking. A Nanny began to look. And the others?

They looked up. And then looked back down. No one else moved.

A dad even chuckled and apathetically "hollered" Zane's name.

I'm running back and forth, in and out of equipment, and up and down ladders, while the world just goes on.

Oh. My. God. Help me. Jesus. Please. I can't find my boy.

Finally, one of my friends said, "There he is! He's in that tree".

And sure enough, my son, dressed in brown's and sage green (brilliant fashion choice for a fall day), was in a tree - not very high - not even out of the playground vicinity, but definitely camouflaged by the brown bark and greenery of the tree. I doubt he could see or even hear the three of us running around and yelling . . . he was having too much fun and there was a lot of other playground noise to drown us out. It wasn't even a situation where I could scold him. He was completely in range. I just couldn't see him.

My friend came over.

"Are you ok?"

"Yeah. But I feel like my heart was just ripped out of my chest".


She continued. Softly.

"Why didn't anyone else stop and help you?"

"I don't know. I just don't know."

I thanked her.

I turned around and very pleasantly, (although I was seething), announced, "Um, thanks everyone! We found him. It's all good!"

But it's not all good.

The playground is where we encourage our children to try new challenges. It's where imaginations turn tunnel-slides into boats, or in Zane's case, into a dog crate at the pet store. It's even the place to climb a tree. It's one of the developmental hot spots for children. It's their scene! It's also a tiny village: a gathering place for parents or caregivers and their children. It's where we teach our children to play nicely, take new risks, share, take turns, and respect others. Collectively. Parents working together.

I think we adults may need a refresher course in the village mentality.

And I'll be dressing Zane in bright primary colors for our next park outing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Willy, meet Zane. Zane, meet Willy.

And how do I know that Zane has a bit of a problem with chocolate?

Hmmm? Let's take his after-(non)nap snack for example.

I do allow a cookie or sweet everyday. Nothing extreme. Nothing overboard. Today, I only had mint/chocolate biscotti's. He tried one. He liked it. He practically hissed at me when I suggested he dunk it in milk. That would get the chocolate in the milk! And, oddly enough, Zane doesn't like chocolate milk. Would I seriously suggest that he turn a yummy treat into a chocolate-less, mushy, soggy mess?

Sorry. Must have lost my head for a moment.

And then? When it was all gone? Finished? Traces of chocolate lingering on his face?

He has the nerve to ask for a second.

The answer is no.

Harper suggests an apple. I suggest some crackers. Harper suggests "regular food".


Um, yeah. We hear you loud and clear, Augustus. Have a great time in the chocolate river, son. We'll meet up with you at the end of the tour.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Punch Line

My children.

Providing me with laughter. Daily.

Exchange with Zane:

"Zane, did you eat all the candy in your Batman Pez doodad?"

"That doesn't rhyme!"


Exchange with Harper, who is chewing on a miniature plastic bowling pin:

"Harper, stop it! What are you? A puppy?"