Thursday, December 29, 2011

toby is six

I forgot to sit weepily by Toby's bed Tuesday night, although it's my custom the night before his birthdays. I sit there by his sweaty little boy-self, mismatched pjs or sleeping in his jeans; and I think, "this is the last night you will be _." and then I cry a little. But this year, we drove all day and then I stayed up, staring resentfully at a giddy Tristan, tearing around my room until the wee hours of the morning.

I kind of felt like weeping when Toby came in my room like 6 hours later, but that was a different thing. Once I recovered from my daily crushing disappointment in being awake, I was so happy to see him, with his hair sticking up and his giant smile. We had a date scheduled for he and Brynn to go to Walmart with his Christmas money, and he was so excited about that that he forgot it was his birthday.

The highest aspiration of his life has been to have a Happy Meal. He had one once, when we randomly happened upon a $1.99 sale, and ever since then he's been planning on the next time. He was going to get one with his cousin, but then he moved away and so Toby picked Brynn to be the other recipient. They used their  OUTSIDE VOICES throughout the meal, to express their excitement in finding their own TINY FRIES BOX! AND APPLES AND A TOOOOOOOOY! I don't know if they ate anything, but it was awesome and totally worth my $7.00.

Then we took their Christmas money from a great-grandma ($25 each) to Walmart and they were hilarious as they looked through every toy, basically. They did awesome, choosing good things they liked and staying in their budgets. In fact, Toby spent about 2 hours and only spent $9. That's me, y'all.


At night, he gleefully climbed into his rightful place on the top bunk, having denied it to himself for over 6 months now. I love my happy little geeky rule-keeper. What a gift he is to me. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

the beach, and why I'm writing about not writing

I'm sitting in a hotel room, where it is quiet, except for the humming of appliances and the screeching of passing seagulls. We  had hotel reward points saved up and got a free room, which we will relinquish momentarily, once the MOG comes back from the jetties, where he is no doubt encountering God in a way that only happens here, by the ocean. I married a mystic.

As for me, I am just starting to feel relaxed. Somehow it takes me a day or so to let go of whatever I'm thinking about. I wrote an article for Moral Outcry yesterday, and then I read a story of a violet-eyed dance-hall girl turned goldminer, and how she found love instead of gold. Sometimes I wonder why I'm not writing books. It seems pretty easy, if you catch my drift. Maybe I'll write an Amish fiction series, about Elisabeth Yoder and the Englischer who saves her Mam's life and captures her heart, but he plays the guitar and has a rare blood disease. And BAM! I'm in.

And it's not like I really have an excuse. Women with much busier lives than me write books. Also, women who write books would probably have never let ^ that  sentence slide. It comes down to discipline and organization, I think. I think about this all the time, actually. How I could get organized and put my thoughts together and find something for the kids to do and then sit down and write something longer than 300 words. But then I just have a snack and do something else.

I will do it, you know, eventually. I take great comfort in the advanced age of many beginning writers, people who had their first book published in their latter years, which is not me- I mean, I am 33. Still a puppy. So soon, very soon, I will collect all of my books about writing books, and my special laptop tray and all of the other stuff I've purchased instead of writing, and I will write a book. And when I do, you better buy it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

for this I endured 4 months of labor


I read parenting magazines with this kind of detached arrogance. I mean, I think they're wrong about basically everything, but I would kind of like to know how to make a cake like a pirate ship, and it gives me a little boost of security to hear how some of their jacked-up philosophies are not working.

That's right, I'm a parenting judger. I probably don't judge your parenting, IRL friends, because I know we've all got some pieces of the puzzle. But in a magazine, heck yes I judge. And I seriously doubt anyone has ever done weight lifting and crunches using their infant as weights, for more than like a day. Yeah, you tried it once. Doesn't count. Judging. And after you leg pressed your 3 month old 100 times, you ate a sleeve of Oreos, so quit judging me for judging you.

Where I was going with this, is, one of the things I always roll my eyes at is when a parent (in a magazine) is all like, "What do I dooo? My 3 year old said they hate me and I don't know what to do! Should I buy her a pony?" And I'm always like, "Uh, you're the parent. It doesn't matter what your kid thinks. Be a man, lady." And I have these whole rants in my head about people who let their kids run everything and don't reign them in or parent them, because of their emotional need to be accepted by a FOUR YEAR OLD.

But then today I was super-parenting my way through a loaf of bread and a vat of peanut butter and such and some paper plates, Toby watches me yawn and says "I wish you'd sleep forever so you wouldn't bug me about my computer time." And I'm standing there making a sandwich for the little ingrate, and I am trying to think of what is the appropriate parental response to this. a) drop the knife and go on strike until he took it back or b) burst into tears and lay on the floor until he said he loves me and knows he owes me his LIFE.

In the end, I made some kind of vague comments about how much he'd miss me if I slept forever, and he looked stricken for a moment, WIN for me, until he said, "But I'd need my Webkinz code!" and rethought his plan to send me into hyper-sleep eternally.

One of these days I'm going to go check into a LaQuinta somewhere for 24 hours and watch Dr. Phil and Sandra Bullock movies all day and turn off my phone. Then we'll see how much everyone loves me. And I will take the Webkinz code with me. That'll show 'em.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Media fast day 5: Quitsville

Day 5:

I don't know if I went in with the wrong motivation... I just know I was done yesterday. It was a good fast, in that I had a difficult week and dealt with it in realtime, instead of my normal mode of dealing with it "later", which may or may not happen. It was totally worth it, because, come on, even if I took a week off entertainment and social media for NO reason, it would be a good idea every now and then.

Now, the MOG and I have done many fasts together, and I, being raised in church and Christian school, understand that breaking a fast is a greased slide to hell. He, being raised in a meth lab (this is a joke), understands grace and forgiveness, and also tends to go on random and ferocious fasts, which he then thinks better of and bails on. I barely ever fast, because once I commit to one, I tend to stay in it, even if I die.

So we rarely fast together these days, since I fear becoming a son of Hell and he has no use for legalism. But we did this one and then when I wanted to quit he said ok, probably because there was some documentary about underwater alien species and the threat of the scuba diver that he wanted to watch, I don't know.

So it's over and now it is CHRISTMAS. Texas next week, woot woot!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

day 4: quackers!

Housewife log, day something, losing perception of time


This is Day 4, I think. Wednesday night, as I'm typing this. I am becoming more sure as the days pass that social media is valid and valuable. I would have already argued that before, but now I seem more legit, right? Look at me, all legit.

Valid and valuable. A true form of communication and community with friends who live far away, or for mommies (or whomever) stuck at home without a car, whatever. It's a valuable tool to maintain long-distance relationship. But, like food, the fact that it is good and useful makes it good and useful to fast, too. I am coming face to face with myself, since my favorite form of technological  medicine is taken away. So I have to see I'm bored and lonely and lazy, and I have to deal with that. So, social media is good, and taking a break from social media is good. But I'm not becoming anti-networking, any more than fasting food makes me anti-fajitas.

Holy. Moly. Fajitas. I forgot all about you. My apologies. I will be in Texas in like a week and you will be mine.

I miss my friends. Even my friends who I've seen today. I miss the minutiae.

In other news, we had a baby shower today for Han and JM and baby Fridencrouserschniztel (names changed to amuse the semi-innocent). My attractive single friend Liz and I stepped on preschoolers all afternoon, as they felt the most advantageous location to be directly in the center of the kitchen floor at all times. It was a good party, now baby Friedinheimer can show up any time, as long as the grandparents have enough notice.

Day 4 in the can, 3 to go.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Media fast day 3: therapy

How many self-portraits can one take of oneself reading in 5 days? Stay tuned!
Day 3: Tuesday night

Tried depriving Tristan of sleep all afternoon yesterday in an effort to provide myself with a less angsty wee-small hour of the morning. It would have worked if it weren't for the 3 other kids. Brynn had a bad dream, and then I had a bad dream about her kicking me repeatedly, (in affection) and jumping in and out of my bed at o'dark: thirty, and then being carried, at first gleefully and then with growing horror, back to her own bed; and then R2 awakening the dawn with screaming for no discernible reason, 3 times, 15 minutes or so apart. All this woke Toby up, who obediently stayed in his room until 8 am, and passed the time by playing drums and practicing his rebel yell. Then Tristan woke up. So. No time for introspection.

Until 8, that is, when I went to my very first therapy session. Do not be alarmed, I am not in a deep depression or a crisis of faith. I've just run into my heart coming and going and somehow life got complicated. It was a great appointment, where she did psychologisty stuff like making me argue with myself until I agreed with Self 1 or 2 and it worked. I actually figured out how I feel and what I should do. Amazing.

So today was productive, what with the emotional relief and then some random sporadic cleaning, because, obviously, no internet. Also, I've started journalling again and I forgot how much I both love it, because I get to write my thoughts on a paper, and hate it, because someday my grandkids will read it and think I was a gripy, grouchy woman. Dear grandchildren: read this blog instead, where I mostly say upbeat things and never complain about your grandfather, whom I love. Oh, wait...

Is this thing over yet? I need to watch some Christmas movies.

Day 3 in the can, 4 to go.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

media fast, Day 2: lonely

Housewife log, day 2: Planet Your Mom


You know when it hurts? At 4 o clock in the morning, that's when. After I convince Tristan to go to sleep and I am lying awake in the dark, wondering if I'm failing the people that need me, if I'm destroying my body with Oreos, if I'm doing enough, saying enough, being enough. And my escape hatch is right there, a portal to a world full of beautiful things and funny people and people who think I'm funny, and I could click it and hear that I'm okay. And then I'd go back to sleep with a beautiful picture of a wreath made out of burlap in my head that I got from Pinterest and I will make it, one of these days.

But now I am on day 2 of an intentional media fast, and I keep running into my real self. That was the hardest time, that 4 am time, when I alternated between praying and worrying and listening to the rain. I talked to God, but there were no burning bushes, just the rain and the sound of my baby breathing and the ache.

Do you want me to write something funny? I bet you do. Maybe you should go on a media fast. I kid. Don't do it, it's awful. I'm probably growing and all, but at what cost? At. what. cost? Kidding, again. Kinda.

I drove around today, ate too many sweets, spent too much money. (relax, MOG, I just mean too much for me, not what normal people would call too much. what a lengthy disclaimer this is!) Here's what's developing in my mind. I don't think social media is a bad thing. I think it is a great thing. And everybody has their own vices... so I won't say this IS what's wrong with it. So don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. But I am realizing that I use it as a distraction, an escape, a crutch, and that's no good. The other side, where it is inspiration and encouragement and community and relationship in a global way that was never possible before, that's good. So. Can I have my Facebook back?

Day 2 in the can. 5 to go.

Monday, December 12, 2011

media fast Day 1: the shakes


Housewife’s log, day 1, Planet of Not Even Pretending To Know Star Trek Lingo:

The 7 of us residing in this house have embarked on a media fast this week, for a variety of reasons. The MOG has multiple spiritual quests, which I am also on, and in addition to that, I recognize that I am struggling with sadness, which typically plunges me into all-day Facebook refreshing and too much TV and movies via interwebs. I think it will be healthy for me to actually deal with my sadness instead of self-medicating via technology. The Artsy-teen-in-residence and all the miniclarks don’t have a choice, because we literally unplugged the internet.

Despite being raised by a techie geek and having most of my relationships and friendships online, I want my kids to learn how to live in an analog world. So maybe this week of misery cutting back will help us relate to each other more in a real way. Don’t be too quick to congratulate me on cutting off the virtual world, because a) this blog is on the internet and b) it’s just a week.

I’m writing this on Sunday night, end of day 1. I definitely feel a little jittery and anxious, and am continually picking up my phone to check Twitter or Facebook, wanting contact with somebody besides my immediate relatives here. I am so used to sharing my thoughts and pictures every few hours, it seems strange to talk to my kids or watch them play without making mental 140 character notes to be posted later tonight.

I’ve read 2 novels today and I imagine I’ll be mainlining some cookies in a minute, so it’s not like I’m filling the empty space with prayer and meditation. I have so many coping mechanisms, I’ve just cut off one, which has been my primary form of community and communication. Maybe I’ll make some progress there, I hope.

Day 1, in the can. 6 to go. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

checkmate, tree.

Every year, the MOG and I battle it out over the appropriate display and duration of Christmas cheer.

He would very happily skip decorating altogether and sit down on Christmas morning with non-seasonal music playing, for a peaceful exchange of gift cards, after which we would independently text holiday greetings to our family members who live 12 hours away. In fact, Richy, I bet you're reading this and thinking how nice that would be. 

If I had the money and the manpower, I would cover our entire roof and every one of our trees in lights. It would look like the Galleria in my yard, and I would have a chuckling life-size Santa on my porch to greet passers-by. Inside, it would be more lights and Christmas music and an 8 foot tree in the living room with a couple of smaller trees, like 6 footers, in various locations around the house. We'd put the trees up the day after Thanksgiving and have presents wrapped and stockings stuffed by the first week of December, and Christmas music would start and play continuously as soon as temps dropped below 70. Couple of dancing Santa dolls. Eggnog fountain. You get the drill. I'd dress the kids up in sweaters with snowmen on them and we'd get our pictures taken. Cookies for the neighbors. And then I'd teach the kids Christmas carols and make them put on a show, which I'd video and put on the internet. And then we'd drive to Texas for a week of reveling and salsa. 

We're lucky we agree on the important stuff, like honesty and Apple products. But every year, it's a battle, because it's cold outside, and trees are expensive, and sticky and poky and needles everywhere and you have to put them in the tree stand and water them and so on. And I always wail and say MY DAD IS DEAD, GIVE ME A TREE, which is the way a mature woman communicates her felt needs. And then we get one and put it up and it's great and beautiful. It's just the process that he hates. I guess. Or happiness. 

This year, the MOG is a cripple of sorts, as his back has slipped, and he looks kind of like a candy cane man from the side, leaning to one side with his hip all jacked out of place. 34 and 33, y'all, and we're all like, kidney stones and back failure. Maybe we should go to a home.

Anyway, we have plotted for days the way to drug him and drag him around, so he can stand long enough to get a tree, and so we executed the plan, arriving at Lowes exactly as he reached the pinnacle of his pain. So maybe we're not the smoothest planners, shut up. Then, Lowes was out of tree netting. yougottabekeedingme. So we hobbled back to the van and drove over to Walmart, who no longer carry fresh trees, and the MOG was strongly considering biting down on his arsenic tablet, and all the kids were like, are we going to get a tree? times one million and R2 was starting to get worried because now we a) ate dinner b) went to Lowes and c) went to Walmart, and he still wasn't getting a tree, which was concerning him very, very much, and he indicated this by pointing as insistently as possible at every Christmas-related item in the store, which were LEGION.

In the end, even though my DAD IS DEAD, I surrendered and accepted a fake tree. And I like it. A lot. It is very, very tall, and I don't have to water it, and it looks great, and everyone is happy. So, there you go.

Now, to pick just the right gift card...

Monday, December 5, 2011

maybe Jesus isn't into Christmas.

It's December, y'all. That means it is FULLTIME Christmas cheer from now till December 26th. In fact, I started early this year, and the MOG has offered only mild protests to the round-the-clock Christmas tunes pouring from the ol' iPod. He's weakening, see, because of these mini-humans around here. R2 has a black eye from beating his head into the bus wall, in an attempt to communicate frustration, but even with his Rocky face, he is giddy, jumping around everywhere and pointing insistently at the Christmas tree I drew on the whiteboard. And Toby and Brynn are just enchanted, by the music and the decorations and the plans. The MOG and the ATIR (artsy-teen-in-residence) make feeble little Scroogey statements but are silenced by the cuteness. So.

And I have this homeschool guilt that I haven't made Christmas that much about Jesus, although they know the Nativity story and whatnot. But I put most of the emphasis on decorating and family and tradition, and presents, (not gonna lie) and eggnog. But my relevant-slightly-hipster-question-everything-some-things side is all like, "Uh, does Jesus care about Christmas? Like is it His for real birthday and it hurts His holy feelings when I mostly use it as a year-end party for friends and family?" Because I don't know if He cares. You know?

I mean, His birth story is important, it's key to our whole faith. I just think sometime we make Jesus into this petulant man-child, sitting up in heaven with His feelings hurt because we get more excited about football than church. Do we have our priorities screwed up? Heck yes. Does He want to be God above everything? Yes. But is He sulking? I don't think so.

So what happens if I never make Him a birthday cake? What if I try to teach my kids to love Him, and to honor Him all year, and to love people, and to welcome them into our family, and maybe we water down the soup a little so more people can eat it? And we listen to each other, and we learn to honor each other and give gifts that build each other up and celebrate our differences? And what if we sit inside on a snowy night and laugh at the baby dancing, and drink hot chocolate and make traditions, because that's heritage, and history, and family? What if we learn to love like Jesus, to share like Jesus, to lay our lives down for others like Jesus?

I think that might be a party He'd come to.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Genesis and the white-trash element

I've started this Bible-in-90-Days plan, and I'm in Genesis, you know, because it's at the beginning and all that. Genesis is pretty Jerry Springer, y'all.

God made Adam and Eve. They were the beginning, and maybe you've got parents or grandparents or whatever, the stable ones. Maybe some other branch of the family, if you're the Black Sheep Family of the family, I don't know. But you have that stable branch of the family, who maybe sowed a couple wild oats back in the prehistoric era but they've been a model of decorum since then, you know? That's A & E. And they start having kids and all the sudden it is a trashy reality show.

We got some serious white-trash roots, y'all. And they probably weren't even white, considering how we turned out every-which color. Eve was probably throwing up her hands and watching the grandkids all the time, in between visiting the boys in prison and leaving a light in the window for all the runaway concubine daughters. I bet Eve had some regrets, I tell you what. I bet Adam was all like, "You had to listen to that snake..." and Eve was all rolling her eyes.

And then somebody'd get ahead, like Abraham with all his livestock and money and his hot half-sister wife and next thing you know, his corrupt relatives are picking a fight and running him off his land. And then him and Sarai get crazy and start bringing in sister wives and throwing them out and now we got all these Muslims, and then it just gets worse.

Back at Piney Woods Christian School, all of us were safely encased in hideous uniforms and 6-inch-distance rules. We were so square, every now and then a "bad boy" would come to our school to be reformed and try to tell us dirty jokes and we'd all laugh, but nobody knew what the heck he was talking about. "Song of Solomon 8:8", a note passed in class would say, and that was scandalous enough. But Genesis, with all its sex and violence, was allowed. I guess part of the logic is that it never really works out, because people were always getting leprosy and swallowed up by the earth and whatnot. It might be useful in abstinence training, actually. Food for thought.



Thursday, December 1, 2011

science fiction and multi-tasking

In some alternate universe, I'm a genuine multi-tasker. Now the MOG and all my sci-fi geek friends (looking at you, jennerith) are spitting out their coffee and being all like, "That's what you'd do in an alternate universe? What about *insert scientific fantasy concept*? Why wouldn't you do something like that? And besides, that's not how alternate universes work. Gosh." I acknowledge my lack of credible scientific knowledge, despite watching my dad watch Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Tobor and so much more all of my childhood. I am on the outskirts of this wormhole. (coffee spit break) Okay, so maybe that's not how wormholes work. 

Like today, for instance. I sit down to write a blog about multi-tasking, or something, I've forgotten now, and then I'm off on a tangent about sci-fi. You know what's the worst? Or pretty bad? When you're watching a romcom (romantic comedy, y'all) and there's some part where, you know, magic happens and they find each other again or whatever, and I'm squealing inside my head, "Love is alive! Magic! Flowers! Cusack!" and the MOG is all like, "Pfft. Yeah, 'cause that would happen." This from a guy who has no issue with people turning into mutants from bug bites or people who are part human, part machine or whatever. Ending up on the same airplane after not seeing each other for 20 years: possible. Having spikes inside your knuckles, flying, interplanetary teleporting: not possible. Who's the idealist here? 

So the challenge now, (remembered it! will continue as if I had written the post I planned) is how to figure out how to balance all the things I need to do well, as well as adding in the dietary, exercise and spiritual changes that need to happen, and make them all work without it killing me. It is possible, I know. Once a year or so, I make A Plan For My Life, in Excel, with color coding and 15 minute increments or whatever, or I buy a schmancy new planner, and I think, now, NOW I will get it all together. But then I get all stressed out looking at my chart and wondering where is my cookie/book/facebook hours? I can't live this way anymore! And so, before ever beginning my new plan, I am already suffering from corporate burnout. 

You know what I need? A radioactive insect. Imma go find one. Get ready for SuperHomeschoolBloggerActivistWifeMomAuntFriend! Also, flying! 

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