Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Trials, Tribulations, and Hope of the Young

As much as it broke my heart to see Peter's suffering the other night, it has been gratifying since then to see Romans 5:3-5 worked out in the life of a two-year-old:

He has been asking, with sincere devotion, to pray before bed. We'd not been saying bedtime prayers together before this. I always felt like it was something we should do, but somehow we never did.

Though we talk about Jesus on a fairly regular basis, this is the first I've seen it take on personal meaning for him.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve 2008


We celebrated the 4th Sunday of Advent by purchasing a Christmas tree. (Actually, Lowe's almost paid us to take it.) We'll decorate it after church tonight, then I'll tell the kids about St. Nicholas as we hang stockings on the fireplace.

At present, my folks are on their way in town. Nana is looking forward to decorating a "Happy Birthday, Jesus" cake with Peter.

I'm particularly excited about our celebration this year, even though Tom will be working 90% of the time. It's the first we'll spend in our own home.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Night Fright

Being able to put Peter to sleep quickly and without incident is no longer a luxury. With Charlotte to take care of (and her evening fussiness), it's a necessity. Yet it broke my heart to leave his room last night.

"I want you to lie with me longer," he had said.

"I can't," I said. "I have to do my chores."

"I don't want to fly in the sky," he said.


"I don't want to fly in the sky," he repeated, in a pitifully small voice.

I realized that he must have had a flying dream recently, and that it scared him. Weissbluth warns that at this age, when kids have a developing imagination but an inability at times to distinguish fantasy from reality, bad dreams can be a true source of terror.

But I don't need Weissbluth to tell me that. I remember it vividly. Between the ages of three and four, I used to lie in bed practically trembling with fright. I wouldn't admit my fears to anyone, not wanting to be thought a baby, but many nights I'd seek refuge in bed with one of my brothers.

Peter has no big brother to crawl into bed with.

"Did you know that Jesus is with you, all the time and everywhere?" I asked. "We can't see him, but he is here, and he is watching you and taking care of you. He will watch you while you sleep. Would you like to pray to Jesus to help you sleep well tonight?"

He did, and we prayed. I also told him that Mama and Daddy were watching over him tonight, and Daddy came back to give him an extra goodnight kiss.

Peter woke happy and well-- and said that he did not fly.


But I've got an extra crib mattress in the garage, and I'm ready to put it on my floor if his fears overwhelm him. Solitary sleep is fine when my child knows he is safe, but when doubts creep in... I'm just not going to force the issue.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Life's Little Pleasures

By the grace of God, since the day we brought Charlotte home, she and Peter have taken their big afternoon nap at the same time. Since she still stays up later than her brother at night, this is the only time right now that I can count on unadulturated peace.

How do I spend it?

The same way, every day: first, my computer time. Then I eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich, with whole grain chips on the side and Smarties for dessert, while I watch Little House on the Prairie. I watch through two episodes, working on my embroidery after I eat.

Sometimes Peter wakes up before the second episode is over. Since he doesn't get much tv besides football, this is a pretty big deal. He calls it the "horses" show. And he's right: there are horses in every episode, in almost every outdoor scene.

I've uncovered some interesting facts about the real Ingalls-Wilder families on Wikipedia. Did you know that some consider Laura and Almanzo's daughter Rose to be the founder of the Libertarian Party?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hanging Head in Shame

I'm sure this is wrong on so many levels, but I'm desperate:

Peter will soon be eating dinner with a timer. If he doesn't finish before it goes off, too bad. Off to the bath.

For almost a week, he's been stalling over dinner. Like, really stalling. He spent thirty-five minutes tonight eating a pile of rice the size of his fist. It was one thing for him to eat one grain at a time at ten months old. It's another thing when he is using a fork.

Is he trying to avoid a bath? Enjoy table time with his dad? Or simply push my buttons? I don't know, don't care, and don't want to hear what the experts say. I just want to have a peaceful meal unpunctuated with, "Peter, eat... Peter, keep eating... Peter, you should be finished by now... Peter, it is getting late..."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rainy Day Activities

It's been raining for a month of Sundays, and there's nothing but rain in this week's forecast. And next week's forecast. To top it off, Peter's last day of school is today, his regular babysitter is out of town, and I'm not wanting to do a lot of public outings with a newborn.

Ordinarily, this would have me in sheer terror. Peter too, because never in his life has this child been content to stay indoors all day!

Yet we both seem to be taking this in stride. He no longer expects that we are going out, and with some recent maturation in his imagination, enjoys his toys more than ever. His cars don't just roll. They go places. To Mimi's, to Belks, to the Hospital. It cracks me up to sit and listen to him play.

Nevertheless, I've found that giving him a special activity sometime during the morning prevents monotony. Here are some of our tricks:

1) Rice Play. Pour a bag of rice into a roasting pan. Throw in some spoons, cups, scoops, even a funnel. Let him have at it. Hint: Put this on the floor on top of a blanket. This way, when he's finished, you can shake the blanket over the garbage to clean up stray rice.

2) Make Play-Dough. Yes, yes, I know: play-doh can be cheaply bought just about anywhere. But making it at home brings new life to an old activity. The internet has tons of recipes. I'd share my own, but I discovered that it molds upon storing.

3) New Toys. What mother introduces new toys right before Christmas? Yet giving Peter the $20 train track I happened to see on sale at Target is The. Best. Decision. I've. Ever. Made.

4) Build a Car Track on the floor using painter's tape. (Thanks, Keriann!)

5) Build a Fort. Retailers will try to convince you that your child needs a $50 indoor tent in the shape of Thomas the Train or a giant frog's mouth. True, kids like small places. But I remember too well the joys of fort-building not to give my child the opportunity. Peter's too small to do this on his own, but he's learning from an expert.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

You Get What You Pay For

Almost a year ago, I decided that my hair needed shaping. I found a new hairdresser who gave me what he calls the Angel haircut (think Victoria's Secret). Oh, the perfection! I felt like I had satin sheets billowing behind me for the rest of the day.

It would figure that I find the best hairdresser in the world several months before I left town.

Yesterday I attempted to replace him. I had asked someone with great hair who she sees and made an appointment. I mapquested directions to the shop. I enlisted my husband's help with the kiddos. And with optimistic anticipation awaited the moment of truth.

Well, mapquest let me down. At least, I'm fairly certain that the shop is not located in an unmarked shack in a... "questionable" neighborhood. But with childcare in place, and in dire need of a haircut, I did what a mother has to do: I went to a strip mall.

Mean Lady cut my hair. Her way of initiating conversation was a gruff, "We close at 5:00" (it was 4:30) followed by, "So what do you want?" I explained my layers and the fringe about my face and asked her just to take off just enough to lose the split ends.

As Mean Lady brushes out my hair, and begins to cut it dry, she turns up her nose. "Your hair is just all different lengths." Duh. Didn't you just hear me say "layers"? Then she notices the shorter length underneath. "What is this?"

"Well, my old hairdresser thinned my hair from underneath, so it would still be smooth on top."

More turning up of the nose. "I sure wouldn't let that person cut my hair again." At this point, I'm ready to get out of the chair.

Instead, I say, "It was the best haircut I ever had."

Meanwhile, Mean Lady has no idea what to do with my hair. Not that it stops her from cutting. Over and over I watch her brush out a lock of hair, pull her fingers to the end, get that confused look on her face, then snip. I'd have had more confidence if she didn't look so clueless every time she cut. I wanted to get up and say, "Nevermind"-- but I didn't know when I'd have childcare for both kids again. So I just sat there trying not to cry.

I'm not sure what made her decide when she was done. She was pulling up locks of hair so randomly, and never touched the shorter layers (particularly around my face), I guess she just decided it was getting close to 5:00 and stopped.

My husband could have done a better job. With a chainsaw.

But at least it's helped me sort out my priorities. If I can go to the Big City once a week for prenatal appointments, I can certainly go there every couple of months for a haircut.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Speaking of Evenings

I've pretty much given up on accomplishing anything after 5:00. Or at least, counting on it. And though a neighbor just dropped by some homemade spaghetti sauce, and I've got a couple of leftover meals in the freezer, the dinner brigade from friends is over. It's all me.

So I'm turning to the crock pot, and a friend just led me to the blog of a woman who is crock pot cooking every day of the year. What a goldmine!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Evening Fussiness

I cherish holding Charlotte, even though old voices die hard (you know, that voice that says I'll "spoil" her if I hold her all the time). The thing is, she sleeps three hours in the morning, three hours in the afternoon, and has a good 4-6 hour stretch for the first part of the night. Since she's sleeping so much, having her awake is somewhat of a novelty. I love to hang out with her on the couch, balancing her on my knees as we make faces, throwing her little monkey body over my shoulder, reading a book as she nurses. Peter plays with his toys through all this, and he has yet to show anything less than enamoration with little sister.

Evenings with Charlotte are another matter. She's a fussy, cluster-nursing machine. I'm able to write this only because she finally went down for an evening nap. I'm hoping she'll sleep through dinner so I can eat with both hands.

I hoped that Kellymom might solve my problem, but all she really had to say is that I'm in good company.

The great thing, though, is that I have the perspective of life with an almost-three-year-old. I know how fleeting this period is. I know that Charlotte will be past this before I can blink. And so what I'll do tonight-- as I have most every night-- is settle on the couch with Miss Priss, find a good movie on tv, and nurse, love, and cherish my newborn babe.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Caught It!

Not her first smile, but her first one on camera:


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Signs You Have More Than One Kid

When my child had a 30-minute tantrum at the door today after his babysitter left, my only thought was, "Well, at least he's occupied."

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Pacifier...

In the history of great inventions, I place it somewhere between the wheel and toilet paper. It's the only reason I'll never be able to practice ecological breastfeeding.

Before my milk came in, Charlotte agreed. Since then, it's been a battle. If I were less determined, you'd hear me saying "My baby just won't take one" by now. But, man, even though I don't mind comfort nursing, there are times that a pacifier really comes in handy.

As if I didn't need more inspiration, Charlotte's thumb has actually found it's way to her mouth a couple of times. Cute for now. Not so cute in five years.

Tomorrow I'm going to stock up on some different brands and see if we have more luck.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


So here's what's up in my world. I'm sure I'll return to blogging one of these days.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It is Well with My Soul

It has been a long week with Peter. He is not sick. He has gotten plenty of sleep. Yet he has been absolutely contentious from morning until night. I'm irritated and exhausted with the whole thing, and when he had three tantrums before 7:00 a.m. this morning, I was ready to shut myself in the bathroom and not come out.

Then I went to church, where we sang "It is Well with My Soul." Knowing that this hymn was written by a bereaved father after the death of his four daughters put my trial in perspective. If he can find the peace of God, then certainly so can I:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come

Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

My sin, 0 the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but in whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, 0 my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul

Friday, October 24, 2008

Move Over, Jackson Pollock

You'd think, as a former art major, that I might have pulled out the paint for my own child before now. But the cobbler's son has no shoes.

I'm a nut for homemade Halloween costumes, though, so it was fun to involve Peter in the making of his Indian costume. Final product soon to be displayed.


Monday, October 20, 2008

A Mother's Weaning

It is my goal to get Peter out of his smocked jon-jons by his 3rd birthday, four months from now. It certainly doesn't help me that all his longalls from last winter still fit. As incentive, I've made Peter a slew of long sleeve t-shirts with smocked inserts and matching pants. Ironically, though, my favorite new ensemble for him is an applique top and pants that I made to go with a sailboat sweater I saw on ebay.

Here is GQ Junior:


Much as I like this, it still broke my heart seeing him off to school this morning. Tall as he is, he looked like a four-year-old when he turned his back. Sniff...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Pleasure of Disagreement

We're starting a new phase.

"We're going to the park this morning," a statement that would usually be greeted with glee, is met with, "I don't want to go to the park."

Oh, really?

"Okay," I say, "We'll just stay home."

"I want to go to the park," he responds.

In the past 72 hours, we've had this same conversation about 20 times, just insert a new subject into the blank.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thoughts on Temperament

In a lot of my reading, I've noticed that most authors seems to take either a positive or negative approach to personality traits. Either a child's strong will is seen as something to be conquered or it's viewed as the persistence that will enable that child to one day cure cancer.

As a Christian, I agree and disagree with both viewpoints. All of us have tendencies that lead us to sin, and those same tendencies can be used for God's glory.

Yet at times it has been hard to believe that. In his first six months, Peter's perseverance against my determined efforts at sleep training seemed nothing more than a thorn in my side. His perseverance in refusing solids until almost nine months seemed nothing more than a thorn in my side. His perseverance in crying for the entire duration of my absence every time I left him for his first year and a half of life seemed nothing more than a thorn in my side.

But lately, finally, I am seeing his perseverance used in a positive way. At church recently, his Sunday School teachers were impressed that he spent fifteen minutes helping them clean the room, while his peers got so easily distracted. While subbing in another one of his classes, I noticed that Peter focused on the teacher for the entire duration of Circle Time, while other kids were easily distracted by nose picking and the velcro on their shoes.

Peter can stick to a task. When it's learning a new skill or following through with a teacher's instructions, it's awesome.

Of course, when that task is throwing a tantrum, it stinks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Operation Time Change Update

Dare I jinx things by sharing that, for the past three mornings, he's slept until 6:20? I'm going to keep the alarm there until the end of the week, then try and get to 6:30. And I've now decided that 6:30-- which will soon amount to 5:30-- is the perfect new wake up time for introducing a new baby. It doesn't seem quite as early as 5:00, but it will allow us an extra 30 minutes in the morning.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I can hardly bear early Christmas talk, but with a baby due in November, I'm shopping now. As in, tonight. And I'm riding the Etsy train.

The prices are great as far as handcrafted items go, since you take out the middle man. My favorite store is Grandpa John's Wooden Toys, with Clickety Clack not far behind.

As for the new baby, I'm inspired to make some toys of my own, sort of like these.

Monday, October 6, 2008

5:00 a.m. is Awfully Early

And if I can't get Peter to sleep later, that's what time he'll be waking when the clocks change on November 2. Two days before my due date.

Since putting him to bed later has always proved fruitless, and putting him to bed earlier a la Weissbluth fails us too, my magical solution was to re-train him on the alarm clock. Rather than waking himself up, the alarm would wake him up. I started at 5:55, then added a couple of minutes every day. I even sweetened the deal by telling him that he would get a prize for staying in bed until the alarm goes off (each day he gets a car or truck cut from a fleece scrap).

This worked great for over a week. I considered myself a genius. We made it to 6:15.

But for the past three days, he's regressed. I hear him wake at 6:00 and sing to himself until the alarm goes off fifteen minutes later. Impressed as I am with his ability to wait things out in his bed, that is not the goal. And I'm all out of ideas.

So we may just be waking early this winter, as we did last winter. It may even be for the best. As it is, with Peter waking at 6:00, we have just enough time to accomplish all we need to do-- and at a leisurely pace-- before leaving for school. But once the new baby is here, I'm going to have one more mouth to feed, one more bottom to dress, one more person whose needs I cannot fully fathom now. The extra hour may serve us well.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Praying with Peter

For the past couple of months, Peter has sat on my lap while I pray through the Lord's Prayer, adding my own intercessions under the appropriate "category." While I don't invite him to join in, Peter does sometimes suprise me with his own interjections. A few weeks ago, when I said, "Forgive us our trespasses", Peter said, "tantrum at Mrs. Barrett's house."

This morning, when I said, "Thy kingdom come," he added, "Thy kingdom come in Curious George's life."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Raising Jane

I had read that European gentry used to loan out their babies to country wet nurses, but it brings it home to read of it happening to a particular person. I'm reading Claire Tomalin's biography Jane Austen, and she describes in great length how the practice occurred.

Newborns were generally nursed by their own mother for the first one to three months, after which they went to live in the mud-floor cottage of a peasant family. Some families visited their infants. Others did not. After a period of time, anywhere from eighteen months to three years, the child was then plucked from their foster family and returned to their biological one.

Not long thereafter, sometime between the ages of four and eight, the child would be packed away to boarding school.

I'm not sure whether I'm struck by the resiliency of the human child or certain that I've discovered the origin of the emotionally detached English gentleman.

At any rate, I continue to be fascinated by the vast differences in child rearing around the globe and throughout time. Compared to Jane Austen's mom and dad, who of us doesn't practice attachment parenting?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Solving the Energy Crisis

My two-year-old son on a hamster wheel.

It might not be enough to power the nation, but I'm certain there is one of him in every town.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Living Room

Last to be completed, most to be used, the living room. I put more thought into this one than any other.

I am unapologetically traditional, and I like a little formality in the living room. Yet I am absolutely practical, so I wanted a living room that we could truly live in. So I covered the chairs in the same faux-linen, wipeable outdoor fabric as our dining room chairs. The chairs also have casters so they can turn easily for tv viewing. I kept the trim on throw pillows simple, since I've discovered how much babies like to chew on trim.

For the couch and ottoman, we used velvet-- which is nothing more than corduroy without the ridges! The nap hides stains easily, and you'd never know that Peter has already vomited on the sofa. The ottoman provides storage, extra seating, and has no hard edges for toddlers to hit their heads on.

Our television is behind the Chinese panels. The wires go through the wall to the buffet below, where we keep the cable box, dvd player, and have room for extra toys. Our computer is inside the armoire across the room.

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Now I can have a baby.


There are three things I have always wanted:

1) a husband
2) a child
3) a wall full of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

I can die now.

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Children's Corner

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AFTER (it doesn't usually look this neat):
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Entrance Hall

Needs a rug! I'd like something natural, neutral, but of the indoor/outdoor variety that will be highly durable:

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Laundry and Bath

I'm not sure the pictures do this justice, as the heart of this room is texture: splintered wood frames, furry polka curtains, a shaggy rug. It's actually one of my favorite places in the house:

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Nothing is Ever Perfect

One of these days, I'm going to photograph Peter's face when Miss Mary, his teacher's assistant, comes to get him out of the car. He grins so big, you could stick a tennis ball in his mouth.

I've no doubt that he is enjoying preschool, judging from his excitement when he finds out it's a school day and the way he talks about it when he gets home. I'm also realizing, though, that even positive experiences have tension.

Peter has been sticking his fingers in his mouth. It's not sucking, but more of an absent-minded gnawing when he wants to relax. It's appearance has coincided with his return to school this fall. At first, he might have been imitating someone in the class, but at this point, the habit is his own.

It makes me sad.

It makes me realize, too, that his breakdowns when I come to pick him up aren't just that he doesn't want to leave. I think part of it is that he needs an emotional release. His teachers continue to tell me how well-behaved he is-- but knowing what a firecracker he can be with me, I know that he has to be repressing a lot at school. I almost... sort of... wish that he would feel comfortable enough to misbehave, just a teeny-weeny bit, when he is with other people.

Of course, the first time I get a bad report, I'm sure I will take all this back.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We "Won"

Is that what you call it, when you win a football game with a hockey score and your offense nets 1 point? When your star running back is carted off the field? When you fumble three times in five minutes? When even the announcers lose all decorum and suggest that your offense punt on third down?

The last five minutes was like watching Dumb and Dumber.

But kudos to the defense.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Nursery

You'll see our real girl and boy names for the first and last time in this post!

My take on the gender neutral nursery isn't green and yellow. It's simply to throw a bunch of girlish and boyish stuff together. The color, pattern, and mural are more masculine; our furniture, curtains, and chandelier are more feminine. I figure it'll work for any kid up to age 3-- in which case we'll hopefully be moving in another baby of either sex. Of course, this is coming from someone who still sends her 2-year-old to church in more lace the Queen Victoria.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Boy Names

Let's just say our boy name for the upcoming baby is "John." It's not, anymore than Peter's real name is Peter, but my husband has a thing for Bible names-- particularly the 12 disciples-- that governs the naming of our male children.

Fine, I can live with that. But I also don't mind a strong family name used as a first name. After all, it's different. So I thought.

Until I got the roster of my son's new Sunday School list. Here are all the boys of the class, no lie:



At least, I think these are the boys. As you can see, I may be wrong on a few.

Maybe Peter and John will be distinct after all.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I Want Her for My Own

All politics aside, what American doesn't want to take home Piper Palin, feed her cupcakes, pinch her cheeks, and give her a pony?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Long Walk Home

Our neighborhood backs up to a park, a river, and a wildlife refuge. This morning, we finally braved the 3-mile bike trail lining the water. On foot.

The first half mile was pure bliss. Peter ran ahead of Tom and I with a picturesque abandon. Then he wanted to see the ants, pick out rocks, and look at various leaves. Any good mother would encourage this hands-on learning experience, giving her two-year-old time to explore and concentrate. I certainly pictured myself to be this sort.

But pregnancy hormones do little for my patience. I quickly grew tired of prodding him along. To his great despair, we loaded Peter into the umbrella stroller which we'd lugged along for just such an emergency. Tom had been carrying it strapped to his backpack.

So, pushing a stroller on such a level bike trail poses little problems. Except when you and your spouse are both tall, and you have to hunch over to reach the handles. I'm sure that fancier strollers have adjustable handles, but when you rarely use a stroller... well, you don't buy the fancy one.

Of course, we could invest in an ergo (more supportive than our old mei tai) in which case Tom-- who is not 31 weeks pregnant-- could comfortable carry Peter on his back. But we've hardly worn Peter in the past year, because A) he'd rather walk "all by himself" and B) letting him burn energy is highly desirable. So investing in a fancy carrier doesn't make much sense either.

Where does this leave us? Oh, yeah-- hunched over our $20 umbrella stroller for the next mile.
Halfway through, we spread a blanket for a breakfast of hardboiled eggs, blueberries, and cheese. This made it all seem worth it, and we contemplated making this a Saturday morning tradition.

For the next half mile, Peter walked peacefully holding my hand. This would be a Saturday morning tradition for sure. All we had to do was hold hands, right? But then Peter, who had been watching Tom push the stroller (which he decided was less cumbersome than carrying it on his back), decided he wanted to push it himself. Since we were down to 1 mile, why not?

A half-mile later, I knew why not. Keeping a stroller-pushing two-year-old on the path is tedious. The tantrum he throws when you insist he ride in the stroller for the rest of the ride home isn't much fun either.

I'm not sure when we'll do this again. Whenever it is, we'll turn back after one mile.

I miss the days of throwing Peter on my back as I went about my business, not loaded down with a stroller, and hardly hearing a peep as my child so contentedly took in the sights.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Life without Babies

I just finished teaching an art class to a family of homeschooled children. I truly love teaching, from art to Bible study, and it has been so long since I taught anyone besides Peter. I'll be doing this every Monday while he is in school.

When you have a kid who is gone all morning and then comes home and naps, that's some real time on your hands. Of course, it will all change when the new baby arrives. I won't be teaching classes then, at least for the near future.

I'm cool with that, but days like today remind that one day, I will have a life without diapering, Wee Sing, playdates, and the intense physical demands of a toddler. How will I spend my day? Assuming that God doesn't bonk me over the head telling me to homeschool, I could...

- become an Olympic equestrian. But that would probably mean more money going out than coming in, and that's never good.

- become the next Beth Moore or Kay Arthur. Now that really appeals.

- become the best homeroom mother in the world-- not for my child's class, but for a low-income school.

- become a writer. Not the occasional freelance stuff I've done in the past, but write every day and hit the markets hard core.

I always knew that I wanted to be a mother when I grew up. Now I wonder what I will be when they grow up.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Parents and Children

If there are two things that I rarely like, they are

1) Topical Bible studies, since they often remove verses from their context and pass them off with meanings never intended by the original authors, and

2) Christian parenting books, since they often take our distinct cultural practices and argue through Scriptural manipulation that these are somehow "God's will."

Yet while rifling through my parents' bookcase this summer, I came across a topical Bible study on parenting of all things-- and loved it. So I will do something I rarely do here and highly recommend
Parents and Children by Navigators.

What makes it so great? It sticks to the basics while leaving application to the parent. The Bible is clear that children are a gift, that we are to teach them to obey, and that we are not to exasperate them. While hammering these mandates, this study does not add rules on top of them. Instead, it forces the parent to examine her heart toward her child-- and only then to consider how the basics apply in her particular circumstances.

It also treats parenting as a relationship, not a battleground. It makes clear that if I have a sinful attitude toward my child, my spouse, or my God, this relationship will falter.

Unlike parenting books that provide all the "answers," this one has put me to my knees in prayer.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dining Room

I wanted to create something elegant enough for dinner and comfortable enough for breakfast. The furniture and lighting are on the formal side, but the small size of the room keeps things cozy, and I hope that the murals warm things up.

Before anyone calls me crazy, let me say that the chairs are covered in what looks and feels like white linen but what is actually outdoor fabric that wipes clean. So far it's held up to pizza sauce and chocolate icing.

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The murals were completed under the influence of performance-enhancing drugs. Caffeine sensitivity has it's advantages. While my work could stand some editing, I can live with this for now, and I'm proud to have completed it even in the midst of Peter's break from school.

I worked from pictures of the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham. At first, it was just because I thought they were pretty. As I painted, though, I realized how these gardens represent each segment of my life for the 14 years I spent in that town.

I came to these gardens as an art student in college-- and for the occasional bridesmaids' tea. I came here when I was single in the city for brisk walks and long talks with girlfriends. I came as a mother when Peter and I just needed to get out of the house.

Most significantly, though, it is where Tom and I walked one November day in 2002. We had been dating for several months. As we talked in the Japanese section, the one which I chose to paint, I decided that he was, in fact, the man that I wanted to marry.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pregnant Grumblings

Piggly Wiggly, would you like to know why I will not shop in your store? Because you line the cereal aisle with toys, as if directing my child away from Sugar Loops and Sugar Flakes and Sugar Pops weren't tough enough.

Where do I go? Kroger, which has a glorious natural foods section in the middle of the store with cereal that won't rot your teeth and no toddler temptations along its aisles.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Humble Access

Determined as I have been to find a home in a liturgical church, we've got something less traditional on our shortlist. At communion this morning, I missed the Prayer of Humble Access.

Of course, even if we stayed in the Episcopal Church, we likely wouldn't say the prayer. Most ministers choose to use the Rite II service, which omits it. Why? Maybe they figure it's bad for one's self-esteem. Yet I can't imagine any news more wonderful than that which is proclaimed in these words. This message is the very reason I go to church:

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Peter has never transitioned well from favorite activities. In other words, we rarely leave the park without a flaming tantrum. I've tried a number of measures from preventative (warnings that we are leaving and what will come next) to positive ("help Mama find her car") to punitive (you don't want to know).

The only thing I've avoided is bribery. Yeah, I know, a lot of mothers do it. And I certainly don't believe that I'm better than them, God forbid! Just more intelligent, clever, creative and informed. Eventually my two-year-old would abide my wishes for the pure joy of making Mama happy, because that's just how gifted a mother I am.

I forget that God loves humiliating-- I mean, humbling-- me. Carrying my screaming and kicking child away from a public activity is not what mortifies me. It's the simple knowledge that I have failed to be Supermom. At six months pregnant, I give up. It's no longer safe to be wrestling a violent toddler into his carseat.

And so, meet my new best friends (thanks, Jennifer):


How easy it was the other day at the pool to simply lean over the water and say, "So, Peter, want a snack treat?" We calmly dressed and strolled to the car.

Failure can be so sweet.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Guest Room

If you come to visit me, here's a look at your digs. This is my childhood bedroom furniture, which had originally been my mother's.

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You'll have to hang your clothes in the hall closet (don't worry, it's right outside the door), because I've turned this one into a sewing nook:

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Hall Bath

If this house didn't have toile somewhere, it just wouldn't be mine.

BEFORE (yeah, more pumpkin):
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One Month to Kick-Off

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Peter's Room

Since I expect Peter to be sharing this room with a sibling of unknown gender in about two years, I went with a neutral barn theme. (The wallpaper is gingham, though it's probably too small to see in the pictures.) Nevertheless, this has turned out quite masculine. Painting the furniture white would probably help, but I can't bring myself to do it. The bed and chair were made by his great-great-great-great grandfather, the tin front to the pie safe was hammered out by his great-grandmother, and the dresser was made by his grandfather.

I wish I could show you the dresser, but next to it hang Peter's real name, and I'm a freak about internet privacy. Above the dresser is a mirror made from an antique horse harness, passed down from his grandmother's barn. Most of our knick-knacks, in fact, come from Mimi's barn. She'll be retiring it when the last of her horses die, and her eagerness to clear things out has timed well with our room decorating!

So even if it's more masculine than planned, the sentiment of this room is high, and I don't think I'll be changing it any time soon:

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Master Room and Bath

The previous owners really liked pumpkin. I guess I really like creme and wheat.

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