Wednesday, January 30, 2013

You're Doing It Wrong

The quickest way to invoke a reaction from a teenager as a parent is to do anything that stands out against the norm. And I do mean anything. A sweet little girl stays with us on Tuesdays and Wednesdays now. She arrives during the school drop off time so Greg has been managing the morning carpool. According to Makenna and Lauren, he's not handling it well. They walked in the door after school yesterday begging me to make other arrangements because he can't understand car line and refuses to do it correctly. Apparently two teachers corrected him that morning and one asked Lauren what was going on with him, embarrassing her beyond measure. It was so hard to keep from laughing as they shared the details they determined were horrific. As they recounted their humiliating experience I kept recalling a line from an old movie I remember from my teen years called "Mr. Mom". The dad in the movie was suddenly out of a job so his wife went back to work leaving him at home with a few kids. He has to navigate school, the grocery and the running of the house. It's hilarious. During his first morning in car line at the school, the kids kept repeating, "you're doing it wrong" until a teacher confirmed that fact by rapping on the window and also stating, "you're doing it wrong".

The truth is that unless you are used to school yard car lines, it is a process that isn't easily understood but this man analyzes safety processes for the biggest shipping company in the country. One would think he could wrap his head around car line. In the mean time, Lauren is convinced she needs to drive so this embarrassment will end. Lauren always thinks driving will solve her problems and I can assure you we are only minutes away from flustering them again anyway. We are "those" parents. Insert sarcastic eye roll here. The teen years....we laugh when we can.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Rock Star

The older three girls were at odds all afternoon Sunday and I reached my limit with the bickering around 6pm. I sent them all to their rooms to write in the journals we use to correspond with one another. At times we journal regularly and then weeks will pass between entries. I love having an additional way to connect. This was the first time I insisted they talk to me about the underlying issues through the journals. Kate must have felt left out because I received a note on a plain piece of notebook paper today....

Dear Mom,
Makenna is allways mean to me eavin whin I am not mean to her. And Lauren is sumtimes mean whin I am not mean to her. And Erin is sumtimes mean to me eavin whin I am not mean to her.
Kate Ryan Baughman
Kate and the neighbors have formed a band. Kate plays guitar, Grady plays the drums and Mabry sings. Angels appear to be their theme and Mabry's written all of their songs. The funny aspect is how backward and shy Mabry comes across. She hardly looks us in the eye and won't speak very loudly, often prompting Kate to answer for her but hand that girl a fake microphone behind a closed door and sister can belt it like a rock star.

Good Day


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mommy's Time Out

The van is in really great condition given it's age and mileage. It has a high pitch squeal but only as I navigate the school parking lot or pull into a quiet neighborhood. The front passenger side wheel groans during right turns. The windshield wipers appear to be on Viagra and have stood erect for months but otherwise, it's fine. Sure it has it's quirks but it suits us. I keep saying I will drive it until the wheels fall off but am silently praying God doesn't actually allow that to happen.

So, I took advantage of Enterprise's online special and booked a compact, fuel efficient car for the weekend for $9.99/day. I figured I would save that in gasoline alone and wouldn't have to worry about any more issues on my day away with girlfriends. Greg mentioned how long it's been since I drove something new and suggested I not get attached to the feeling. I assured him a little wind up car would never appeal to me. Then they handed me the keys to the only vehicle available on the lot. A new Traverse. It's one of those cool mom crossover vehicles that qualifies as an upgrade from a mini van. Yep. I sort of panicked and said I wanted to save gas money so they threw in some free gas too. Greg should be worried. It is really nice.

Given all the life challenges we have faced the last few months, my awesome friends pushed for a lunch date in Cincinnati this weekend. They are pretty wonderful. This mommy needed a time out and these friends know how to make a time out relaxing and beneficial. It was good.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


When one of our children does something unusual, we tend to blame the spouse we think is responsible for that particular quirk. This may not be the healthiest way to communicate but it works for us. At 4:30 a.m. my son appeared in my bedroom announcing his blocks needed to be put away. I asked if he needed to go potty in response because that is usually what brings him into my room in the middle of the night. He went and then again told me his blocks needed to be put away. I assured him a few legos stacked on his lego table would be fine if left until morning. He disagreed. I finally consented with a half coherent, "suit yourself, I am going back to bed". Sure enough, he put away the legos before going back to sleep.

Greg walked into the bedroom this morning as my alarm went off. I told him about our night and took ownership. This time, Ty is all mine. Whether it is reasonable or not, once I know something needs done around here, I want it done immediately. An example of this would be addressing the water leak that is wearing me out. Living without hot water and knowing we still have a slow leak anyway does not make for a very patient wife. I know it is a process but I also know time is literally money on this one. We received a $415 electric bill yesterday because of the constant demand on the water heater until we discovered which line was effected. Our water bill will be around the $600 mark because our usage has doubled with the leak. I know this is a season of patience for me but there comes a time when it just needs addressed. Now is good.

Our plumber thinks he may have the leak isolated but it is a hide and seek game of sorts that involves jack hammering up my foundation in specific locations. It will be lovely and match the drywall we've also cut holes through beautifully. Or not. It's a mess but I am ready to do something....anything to stop the madness. Taking his time though may have had a benefit. Toney's been contacting other plumbers to discuss options and thinks he may be able to re-route our water lines through the attic with a product used in really cold environments that expands when it freezes. If it works, we will save thousands and reconstruction. Now, to get my husband and plumber to see the need to start ASAP? Please!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weeds in January

When I was a young mother, I prayed for patience until a more seasoned mom cautioned me, "be careful what you pray for". She was wise. The parenting challenges increased and I learned a lot during that season. Patience is still a virtue I struggle to embrace but along the way, God has faithfully walked me through tests to further increase my self control. Last summer I determined I needed to work on responding rather than reacting. In retrospect, I realize I basically stated I needed more patience. I am a slow learner. The last month and a half or so has been one curve ball after another and I am a mess. It is in the mess though that God can further mold me.

So, respond rather than react is the goal. My van rolled over to 180,000 miles this weekend and celebrated that milestone by groaning during all right turns. It is a unique noise. And not necessarily welcomed. Just as I was describing the noise to Greg, Erin called to report the truck wasn't starting while she was out looking for a job. Like weeds in the lawn in January.....not welcome.

Toney, our favorite plumber has spent quite a bit of time hanging out with us lately. Just as soon as he thinks he has a handle on our water leak, something new presents itself. At this point, jackhammers are inevitable. Bathrooms will be gutted too. My response with each revelation is something along the lines of, "just tell it to me straight, no need to sugar coat it". Poor Toney.

Shelby spent the weekend with us again. She keeps a toothbrush here now and appears to like that fact. We consider her a good luck charm of sorts given how beautiful the weather has been every weekend we've been able to keep her. I think we should move her in. We are ready for Spring! I took her to her uncle's funeral on Sunday and as I left, I drove past a White Castle sign that read, "For Valentine's Day reservations call (phone number I cannot recall)". I laughed until I cried tears of joy at the absurdity of that sign mixed with tears of frustration I also felt toward life in general at that moment.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We've got Trouble

So that whole "seeing the good in the hard" thing I mentioned Sunday? I'm working on it. Life has thrown me a lot of situations I can use to hone that skill.
I left my sweet husband a note informing him I turned off the water after discovering our leak had increased to over 200 gallons per day. At this rate, we will need our tax return to pay this month's water bill. It is always something. I do love this man but I have to say that discovering holes in arbitrary locations in our drywall when I returned from an hour long play date with the kids left me with an opportunity to work on my goal to respond rather than react. Ty joined in the search for the leak by grabbing his stethoscope and tools providing he cute factor I elected to focus on in that moment. Our plumber friend received two calls from our house today. I am praying he can stop my husband tomorrow. I was told jackhammers would be needed in my floors and now I also need a drywall repairman.
It's a journey.
Erin captured this one recently....see the Nutella?
This little boy in particular has had some adorable moments lately. "We've got trouble" is a line he's claimed and uses regularly. He is so serious when he says it too. Keeping a straight face is a challenge.
This morning he asked me for candy prior to breakfast. Before I could answer he informed me I have "got to stop saying no to candy because that's a problem". I said no anyway. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Finding Beauty in the Muck

Two little guys entered my Sunday school classroom this morning with arms crossed, deep sighs and intense scowls set on their faces. One wasn't permitted to wear his black shoes today. Another determined he was going to big church with his momma but was pushed into my room instead. As adorable as their four year old disappointment was to me, I could relate. How often is my reaction to changed plans similar? (Although, I am certain I am not nearly as cute in my objections). Another little man arrived looking as handsome as ever with his typical big grin and happy-go-lucky disposition. I asked him if his mommy had his new baby yet and he informed me his baby lives in heaven. My heart broke.
Shelby spent the weekend with us and I returned home from church to a message from Jennifer asking me to bring Shelby to her because she needed some time with her daughter. Jennifer's brother is now in ICU and the prognosis isn't good. Jenn and her family have been through a really rough season lately. Once again, I had a heavy heart. I was wrestling with my emotions on the way home from Jenn's rehab center, trying to find words to express how I feel. In truth, I desperately needed to see good in the hard; beauty in the muck. When I returned home, I discovered Greg and Ty were napping so I took off with my camera in the rain, not sure where I was headed but certain God would listen to my rambling as I searched.
Our neighborhood creek is overflowing today. It spent months stagnate, too still and lifeless. It struck me as I knelt down in the saturated ground to take some photos that there is beauty in the rain. It may not be as easy to see as the murky water churns, but in my life, God is more readily present in life's storms than calm water. The truth is that I am more open to seek Him when my life is churning. He is always present and so is the beautiful but I often fail to seek either.
God blessed me with His peace today. He even allowed some humor as I was discovered stooping in the pouring rain, wearing my daughter's polka dot rain boots photographing the creek. Anne laughed but seemed to sense immediately I needed to discover something beautiful, something redeeming in the brown and gray that was enclosing me. The truth is I won't recognize the beauty in life if I don't see the contrast. I won't appreciate the calm water and blue skies if I don't experience the churning of muddy water too. This bleak season only highlights the birth of new life in the next. I am grateful.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I Am An Athlete

I started seeing a massage therapist who is also an orthopedic nurse and physical therapist over a year ago. She is really affordable and has helped me out immensely. She determined all my knee and hip pain were associated with how hard I walk. Let that sink in a second. How hard I walk? The extent of my hardcore workout is walking in my neighborhood and I messed up my hip and knee doing it. I see her every couple of months now rather than every few weeks and have been able to continue avoiding arthritis medications as a result of her efforts. However, I woke up yesterday feeling stiffness in my lower back. Since I wake up daily with some stiffness in my body, I wasn't alarmed but noted it was a new area for me. As the morning routine wore on I started getting more and more uncomfortable. By late morning I had pain radiating through my thighs and tailbone. It was not comfortable and I conceded to ibuprofen. I couldn't comfortably sit or stand and ended up on the couch with a heating pad, losing an entire day and testing my kids ability to entertain themselves without destroying the house or getting hurt. It was a test in patience. I was racking my brain trying to discern what I could have done to my back. In the end, I remembered sitting on my bedroom floor reading two chapters of a book the night before. I SAT on the floor. Does this mean I have a reading injury? Seriously. This aging process stinks.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Glimpse

Ty exclaimed "chicken butt" with a look of pure glee on his face. He then quickly asked me if it was a bad word. I decided to test a theory and told him it wasn't. The expression on his face was one of absolute defeat. He was clearly disappointed. I had to hide my laugh. This little test was immediately on the heels of him informing me I couldn't be pretty because I am a mom. Thanks buddy.

Erin is taking four AP courses at school this semester. She is also taking a college course through Ivy Tech. She is well on her way to wrapping up her freshman year credits before the fall. Her high school determined this would be permitted on Monday when it was clear she had no other class options available at school. So we were in a mad rush to get her enrolled before classes start next Monday. It is always something.
It was a little bittersweet to have her taking care of business on a college campus this afternoon while I was at the grocery getting text message updates. We've started a new chapter in our lives.  I am glad we are easing into this season.
These two have had a lot of time together lately and it shows. They are either being silly or bickering non stop. Oh Joy. I had forgotten how exasperating the constant arguing can be. The older kids have outgrown it and I honestly thought these two were far apart enough in age to not need to engage in it. I.was.wrong.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Dance

She is seven. Caught somewhere between a little girl who plays with dolls and the desire to be a big kid who loves the mall and wearing the latest styles. Grandma visited this weekend and brought Christmas presents; baby-doll toys, clay, a tea set, perfume and play makeup. She was equally delighted by them all. Later, she joined the big girls' shopping trip with Grandma where she sweet talked her way into "kid bras". Three of them. Tonight, she begged me to do laundry because she needed a clean one for tomorrow. She's worn them all in 24 hours. She needed a shower after layering her new perfume only to send Loves Baby Soft drifting down the stairs within minutes again anyway. She is big and not.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Good morning

It appears I woke up on the grumpy side of the bed today. It was the side my son peed in overnight. Did I mention it was MY bed? That my friends is a rude awakening. Greg started Ty's bath while I stripped the bed and started laundry. There was a knock at the door noting the local water guy finally found time to stop by and discuss our outlandish water bills. It was 16 degrees and I did not invite him in because I was covered in pee. Greg joined him on the porch and I wrapped up Ty's bath while he screamed because he didn't want a bath. You smell like pee. I smell like pee. This is not okay by any mother's standards but most certainly not mine. You will be clean! There were protests about how I was washing his hair and using the wrong towel, etc. It was not my shining mother moment as I finished the task in silence because my brain was saying lots of ugly things. Given I had yet to ingest even a drop of tea, I believe my filter deserves a lot of credit. I will take the credit here because within minutes, that same filter would fail me. Greg reentered the scene once the bed was remade for him and offered to make a cup of tea. I took his head off for allowing the water to run until it was warm so he could make it quickly. You know the "liquid gold" we are trying to conserve? Yeah, that water. My head was spinning off my shoulders and I couldn't see straight. That poor man was confused. He just wanted to make his wife a cup of tea. He tried to agree with me about saving water where we could but then pointed out the method in which our teens do their laundry and my head started to once again spin so I walked away. After some deep breathing exercises I returned to find my husband had wisely just gone to bed. That poor man.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Recently Heard

  • I commented on the number of milestone birthdays our family will celebrate this year and Erin started celebrating her 18th early by dancing through the house. I burst into tears. I was exhausted from the week of the flu and was missing my family for New Year's. I get emotional about my kids growing up, even though it is exciting to see them blossom. It was a weak moment for sure. Erin left the scene, bewildered.
  •  One evening this week, Kate and I were sharing a salad when she looked at me and quite seriously stated, "you know, now that I am older I think the minutes go by faster".  
  • On two separate occasions, both Kenna and Greg mentioned Ty "needing" more Legos.
  • Out of the blue Ty yelled, "butt crack". I responded with my stern Mommy look to which he replied, "I just have to say it sometimes, Mom". 
  • Ty was having a meltdown and Erin suggested we get a padded shed outside to put him in when he's having a fit. This ladies and gentlemen is precisely why teens should not be parents.  
  • Ty cuddled up to me at bedtime and let me know he was never going to let me go. I told him I needed to go sleep with Daddy. Ty was quiet a minute and declared Daddy needed to be a big boy. 
  • I got a text from Jennifer today asking how I was feeling. I cracked up. She's not even supposed to have her phone and  she was texting me from Cleveland Clinic's ICU! I love her. Her leg was saved for now but she faces more surgery once infection is cleared up. Keep praying. She's awesome. And to answer Jenn's question, I'm fine, just concerned for her.