Saturday, December 31, 2011


I look around me and see stuff. Lots of stuff. Not a Hoarders amount of stuff, but a real lot of clutter that has no home except my home at large. I open my pantry and I’m stressed out. Once, there was order in there. Now there is not. I open my fridge and I cringe—how long ago did we make that penne pasta? Last week? Last month? The plastic-ware in the kitchen is crammed into cabinets, with lids and cups falling on you as you open the door. Dishes pile up in the sink because nobody cares to look in the dishwasher to see if it’s empty, because if it’s not then we’d have to take the time and energy to empty it before putting the dirty stuff in there. It’s just easier to pile them in the sink.

The living room is usually pretty clean—wait are those ants carrying off the latest toddler crumbs?—except for the toys. Lots of toys. Toys that stress me out because there are so many little parts. I want to get rid of some of them, but I think maybe another child of mine who is not soon to be present will want to play with them…someday. And for some reason, that’s enough to keep the blasted toys and the books that I hate to read.

Up the stairs, there’s a door to the right that remains closed. Always. The spoken reason for this is so that the cats don’t get in there and put their “predator scent” on the hunting stuff. The unspoken reason is because the “office” is a storage closet of randomness—office supplies, musical instruments, boxes of stuff from our closets from when we lived in...Waco? Surely not. It’s overwhelming at best.

The master bedroom is another matter entirely, and it’s really my fault. I’m a piler, people. When I don’t want to deal with things, I put things in piles. And then I put those piles in boxes, and then I stack the boxes out of sight, out of mind, in Elsie’s “big girl” bedroom. That worked until it was time to make the spare bedroom a place for a person to actually sleep, and then I moved the boxes into our bedroom, into the little sitting room nook, where they’ve sat, basically untouched, since I moved them months ago. The toddlers help to unpack them, piece by piece, leaving junk everywhere. We then ignore the mess like it doesn’t exist, until we step on it in the middle of the night and say made-up curse words as we hop on one foot into the bathroom. Stress and overwhelmedness have nothing on whatever constraining feeling has a hold of me when I think about the “sitting room” in the bedroom. If the mess that I try hard to ignore is even brought to my attention, my first instinct is to get defensive. Look people, I work full time, have two toddlers, and no spare time. I CAN’T DO IT ALL! But I know that only I can remedy the situation because it’s MY junk.

Just so you can get the full picture, I need to tell you about the rest of the house. The master bath is now clean on the surface. It feels like the cabinets and drawers are full of junk—haircare products, first aid supplies, never-used makeup, random samples of hygiene and cosmetic products--but if they all stay closed, I can forget that it’s a problem. Until the toddlers go drawer-diving and come up with stuff they shouldn’t have (please hand over my deodorant, and quit eating the Chapstick). The walk-in closet is usually maneuverable, just so long as you can step around the giant pile of dirty clothes in the middle.

The kids’ room is clean, except for more toys. But the dressers are empty. The closet is full of boxes of newborn clothes that Elsie outgrew over two years ago. And the rest of the clothes—those that currently fit, those that will fit, and those that will not fit again—are in the bedroom at the end of the hall. On the floor, on the bed. A room FULL of clothes. And I need to go through them and put the ones that currently fit in the dressers, get the ones they have outgrown ready to sell/give away, and box up the clothes that will fit next season. But it takes time and motivation, two things which have been lacking recently.

And then there’s the garage. It’s actually not that bad. But there are boxes of memories in there, and I’m not sure what to do with them right now. And there are recyclables that need to be taken to the recycling center. And currently there are various and sundry things left over from our garage sale blocking one side.
So why have I given you the run-down of my cluttered life? 1) Because I want you to feel better about yourself, if possible, and if not, just feel okay that you and I have something in common. 2) Because in my effort to be a transparent wife, mother, friend, I want you to see that appearances aren’t entirely reliable (the oatmeal smeared on the shoulder of my shirt is 100% authentic, though). 3) Because once people know about how I live from day to day, I hope that I will be motivated to fix the problem—not from shame, but from accountability.

Look, I’m not insane. I know it’s not going to fix itself overnight. I was doing well with the FlyLady while I was on my own last spring, but once Eli came back, I got lazy again, and lazy breeds lazy. I make excuses:

“I don’t have time.” Right. But somehow I have time to blog? To cruise Facebook? To read others’ blogs? To watch full episodes of USA Network shows on Hulu? To watch House Hunters International? But somehow I don’t have time to take care of my environment. Wrong. I’m just not using my time well.

“I can’t do anything with the kids around.” I admit I use this excuse a lot. The kids “help” me, and most times it is counterproductive. It is definitely easier to get stuff done when I’m by myself, but let’s face it. I’m a mom. I can’t even use the restroom by myself. So, if I’m waiting for all this elusive “alone time” I’m dreaming. Besides, if I do get precious alone time, I’m not really keen on cleaning. But the little ones have to sleep sometime, right? All kidding aside, I am going to try to do more with their “help.”

“I’m tired—I just want to veg out.” Every. Night. From wake-up to bedtime, I’m wife, mother, teacher, and with each of these comes its own responsibilities. From bedtime to wake-up, I’m exhausted.

“I’m so busy.” This goes back to the time thing. Yes, we are busy. Yes, we have to set out our weekly schedule at the beginning of the week to make sure we aren’t two ships passing in the night. But it’s a choice, I know. I think I’ve come to accept that we are just at a busy time in our lives, and if I use that as an excuse, then I’ll never do anything. I have two children, a husband, a full-time job, some friends who I rarely get to see, and a church family we are devoted to. We’re going to be busy. I have to get over it.

Well, guess what? I’m tired of making excuses. I’m tired of being overwhelmed. Just like our debt situation, I’m not going to face the whole hog at once—it’s too much to swallow. I’m going to break it up and take care of business. And I hope that by this time next year I will be able to say that I’ve “trimmed the fat” around the house. I don’t know what this will look like, exactly.

I turn 33 this coming year, and I acknowledge the blessings I have received from my faithful Father. I’m going to try to be a better steward of them, Lord willing.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Potty Training, Day 3 (Updated with Photo)

At some point in the night, I heard a child cry out, and I thought for sure that Elsie had either peed the bed or awakened needing to go potty. I rushed into the bedroom and...she was fast asleep. It was Oscar talking in his sleep. But while I was in there, I checked, and she was dry. That was at 3 a.m. So, she went at least seven hours dry.

And then, because I stayed up too late watching the Baylor game, I snoozed through my alarm, and jolted out of bed when I heard a child cry out at 7 a.m. I thought for sure that it was Elsie again. But, alas, it was Oscar, awake. Elsie stirred, and informed me that she needed to change her jammies. Then she refused to stand so that I could strip her down. She wanted to lay down and cried to me that she wanted a diaper again. I told her no, and went and put her on the potty. She turned into spaghetti and wouldn't stay, so I let her get off. Then she remembered the chocolate, smiled at me and said, "I want chocolate," and went and sat on the potty on her own. But she didn't do anything.

And then, the rest of the day:

10:15 a.m. -- PEE IN THE POTTY -- Elsie was watching TV in my room, stood up and took off her panties. I said, "Elsie, you need to go to the potty! Hurry!" And she went and peed.

Noon-ish -- Fashion Diva -- Elsie decided that she didn't need to use the potty, but that she wanted to wear flowered underwear instead of what she was wearing. Um. We don't have any flowered underwear. After a minor tantrum, she settled for stripes.

::whistling to pass the time:: And the day continued to wear on. I kept reminding Elsie to tell me if she needed to go potty, and she'd say, "Okay."

3:45 p.m. -- PEE IN THE POTTY -- Finally, since it had been five and a half hours since she peed last, I may have mentioned something about the chocolate in my pocket when she asked for an apple. She went into the bathroom and peed on the potty.

4:45 p.m. -- PEE IN THE POTTY -- We were playing in the kitchen, and Elsie said, "Mom!" So we went to the potty, and she peed some more.

7:30 p.m. -- PEE/POOP IN THE POTTY -- Bath time. Elsie gets in the bath and then we realize that she needs to potty. So, she sits on the potty and pees, and then has a little bit of poo, too. Yeah!

So, no accidents today, aside from the nighttime wetting. All human waste went where it was supposed to. There's a part of me that is ecstatic. Then there's a part of me that thinks it was too easy--I must have done something wrong, and she's going to relapse. Which she may.

So, is that it? Is she potty-trained now, you know, aside from night-time?

I will continue to remind her to tell me, and I'll make sure I have a spare set of clothes for her on hand. And we'll work on the night-time stuff.

But really. Is that it?

It just seems so anticlimactic...

::knock on wood::

So, yeah. We'll enter the new year with a child who uses the potty. Peasy.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Potty Training, Day 2

Well, the day started earlier than expected. I knew that Elsie would probably wet the bed without making a noise (that I heard), so I went to sleep with a spare sheet, blanket, pillow, set of jammies, and underpants at the foot of my bed so that I wouldn't even have to think when I finally heard her.

And that cry came at 4:15 this morning, accompanied by a pleading child who very badly wanted a diaper. I told her no. [It was obvious that she had peed some time earlier just in the way the items on her bed were situated. She had moved her pillow over the wet spot and was curled up on top of it.] Stripped her down, sat her on the toilet, and put a blanket around her shoulders so that she wouldn't be too cold while I did my magic. Fresh sheet, fresh blanket, fresh pillow, fresh jammies, fresh underpants, and she went right back to sleep.

As a result of this early wake-up, I scrapped my 5 a.m. plan and just slept. At seven sharp, I heard a sound and rushed in there ready to whisk her to the potty again, and she was asleep, but Oscar was smiling up at me from his bed, so I got him instead. Elsie stirred and then informed me that she wanted to sleep, so I let her.

She got up on her own at 8:30, and she was still dry (!) so I reminded her to tell me when she needed to use the potty. So, here's the daily recap:

9:45 a.m. -- Little accident (pee), to which she said, "I have a poopy diaper." She was a little wet, but not enough to get past the undies, showing me that she exercised some sort of control which was evident when we rushed to the potty and she peed and peed and peed. And then wanted some chocolates.

10:30 a.m. -- Accident (BM finally!) in underpants. She was just playing, no noticeable interruptions in her talking, and I look over to see that her undies were shaped strangely in the back. So we went to the potty and put the poop in the the potty and sat for a while to see if there was anything more. (There wasn't.)

(Again, no nap today. I hope K doesn't kill me next week.)

1:00 p.m. -- PEE IN THE POTTY -- This was the beginning of success, I hope. She was sitting on the floor in the kitchen and looked up at me and said "Mama!" in an urgent voice. I whisked her to the potty. She was dry, and she peed and peed. And then wanted chocolates. I had reminded her about ten minutes before to tell me if she needed to go pee since it had been over two hours and I was ready for it. It still took me by surprise.

2:10 p.m. -- PEE IN THE POTTY -- Jill was here and asked Elsie to see her new potty seat and show her how it worked. Well, it worked like a charm. And she wanted chocolates.

5:30 p.m. -- PEE IN THE POTTY -- I was getting dinner ready and it had again been over two hours since her last visit to the Dora potty seat, so I asked her. She went. The 3-day method doesn't want the parent to ask, but to remind the child to tell the parent, but I was afraid that I would get busy with dinner and we would have an accident.

7:45 p.m. -- Accidental discovery of skid mark(?) and then PEE IN THE POTTY -- We were getting on the potty before bedtime and she had a little bit of poo in her panties. So we put it in the potty and finished up with a lot of pee. Otherwise her undies were dry. We put on pajamas and she insisted on going right to bed. No rocking, no singing. Her one request was for some water, which I obliged (but only a little bit).

For tomorrow, I'm going to push fluids a little more. She didn't really drink much today.

And since I gave her water tonight, I may try to wake her up to go potty again after the game tonight.

And now how about some Baylor football??

Sic 'em, Bears!!

UPDATE: Dang it. Each night I have read through the potty-training e-book and realize all the mistakes I am making (playing next door yesterday, not being as completely focused on Elsie as I should be). The good news is that I can get better tomorrow. We'll see how tomorrow goes. :)

Go here for day 3.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Potty Training, Day 1

So, I have three days with nothing else on my schedule, so I decided that this would be an excellent time to finally get Elsie to use the big girl potty. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew there was a magic number three, and something about potty seats, potty watches, panties, and M&Ms.

A friend pointed me in the direction of the 3-day potty training system, so I stayed up late reading the book last night and want you to know that even before I woke up this morning, I was skeptical. One, I don't think I have the focus this is going to take. I'm not ADD or anything, but watching Elsie's *every* move for 72 hours is really more than I can bear. Two, I'm not perky enough to pep up a toddler. I mean, I tried, but she saw through it, telling me, "You're not so happy." I took that to mean, "You're faking it, Mom." Dang it.

Anyway, this is Day 1. I'm going to give it a full three-day shot.

We ate breakfast this morning and then I put Elsie in a tank top and panties, and I told her to keep them dry, and that she needed to tell me when she needed to use the potty. We played upstairs in the morning, and then next door in the afternoon when Oscar woke up from a nap. Yeah, Elsie didn't nap today. And I'm the failure here, I'm sure. Not Elsie. So, here's the recap of how the day went:

8:00 am -- Put Elsie in panties.

10:30 a.m. -- Accident (pee) while playing in her bedroom, while wearing three additional pair of undies at her insistence. She yelled "Pee!" at me, but it was too late. I may have been otherwise distracted.

12:45 p.m. -- Accident (pee) while playing in downstairs bathroom sink. She also alerted me to this, after-the-fact. I was right outside the door. O was asleep, I was otherwise distracted.

2:30 p.m. -- PEE IN THE POTTY -- but only because I told her we wouldn't go next door until she used the potty. And she peed a lot. I thought we would be good for another two hours or so, since this was her pattern heretofore. Oops.

4:00 p.m. -- Accident (pee) while playing at the neighbors. The irony was I was looking right at her taking a picture of her playing with our neighbor to send to Eli and had no idea. Right on the linoleum. This is how I know this is a mommy fail. See the picture? I'm a nitwit.

EDITED TO ADD: That is a plastic hot dog on the floor to the left. Thank you, Dad, for requiring clarification.

[And I feel I must clarify here that a child peeing on the linoleum is not a big deal next door, since the other cutie in the picture is also potty training right now..]

5:50 p.m. -- Accident (pee) after dinner at the neighbors'. She was in the living room and yelled to me that "I have a poopy diaper!" Um, you're not wearing a diaper. Oh, crud. Turns out it was pee. It was just a little bit, didn't get on the carpet or anything. But it was a killer for morale. [Right here I should mention that I'm wearing my AmeriCorps hoodie today with the pocket full of M&Ms and spare panties so that I'm prepared whether we are upstairs, downstairs, or next door.]

7:00 p.m. -- PEE IN THE POTTY -- Elsie is actually still in the tub, and I'm rocking Oscar to calm down the maniacal screaming that commenced the second I took him from the bathtub and continued while I diapered and jammied him up. Elsie gets quiet and starts grunting. I nicely throw O into the crib and rush in there, and she is hunched over, concentrating. I snatch her up and put her on the potty, wrap her with a towel, and she pees a lot. Grunts a little, passes a little gas. But nothing else.

By 7:37 p.m. she was asleep in her panties and pajamas on my bed. She wanted me to hold her hand as she went to sleep. It was small and warm, and it she was so sweet.

So, the plan is to wake her before 9 and have her potty again before putting her back in her own bed. And then I'll get up around five and put her on the potty and then put her back in bed. I'll have to set an alarm.

Anyway, she only asked to put on a diaper once today. She told me many times that she didn't want to go to the bathroom (many, many times I would tell her, "Don't forget to tell Mommy when you need to potty" and this was the response). And she told me a couple of times that she couldn't go to the bathroom. I'm not sure what this means.

Should I be concerned that she didn't have a BM today when she typically has several in a day? I don't know.

I'm glad I wrote down the details of our day because while I feel like a failure today, I think that armed with this information, I'll know more about what to look for tomorrow. I have no doubt that tomorrow will go much better than today. Positive thinking, people. Positive thinking!!


UPDATE *9:00 p.m.* moved Elsie to her own bed with a pit stop at the bathroom. Nothing but big, wet tears. Setting alarm for 5 a.m.

UPDATE -- Go Here for Day 2 Recap.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bah humbug?

If you were to come to our house right now, you might think that we don't celebrate Christmas. That is, if you measure the celebration of Christmas by the amount of decorations on/in the house.

This year, we don't have any exterior decorations. (Have we ever? Maybe a paper wreath or two...)

We do not have any interior decorations. Not even a tree (second year of no-tree-having).

In fact, the plastic tub of decorations is still in the attic. So, we don't even have stockings out.

Some years, I cut out snowflakes and hang them on the windows. I made a fleeting effort this year and was thwarted by a toddler who wanted to use the scissors to make her own "snowflakes".

There have been a few moments when I felt like I *should* have something festive out, particularly since I love Christmas decorations, but honestly, it's just not worth it this year, not with a child who pulls tablecloths off of tables (Elsie) and a child who shreds anything made out of paper or paper-like materials (Oscar). And I don't even want to think about the monumental effort that would be required to keep the ornaments on the tree with the two of them running around.

And then there's the expense of decorating. A tree costs money. Lights on a house and on a tree cost money in addition to the regular electric bill (though LED lights are less-costly). And if you have stockings, you need stocking stuffers--that cost money. We still have a bag of nuts from last year's stockings somewhere, so I guess we could recycle. Ha.

Some day, I will have wreaths to hang on my exterior windows. Some day, I will have beautiful winter linens for the tables (when I don't have a little magician around). Some day, my house will be beautifully decorated for Christmas, Southern-Living style, with a white cake under a dome waiting to be eaten.

Some day. But not today.

Not this year.

This year, we'll enjoy other people's decorations and trees.

And this year we'll celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus with the minimalism (albeit, American minimalism) that greeted our Savior those millenia ago.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Gray Debate

I'm going to generalize and say that most women probably come to the point in confronting their age that they must decide: to dye or not to dye?

For me, the decision was made long before I ever had a single gray hair on my head. After watching other women that I know and love color their hair to cover the gray, I decided, probably in high school if I remember when, that I would "go gray gracefully." That is, when I found my first gray hair on my head, I would not dye my hair, but just let it go.

The summer after my junior year in college is when I found it.

I was sitting in my air-conditioned car, taking one last look in the mirror behind the visor before dashing into work at Sylvan in Fort Worth. I moved and something on my head glinted in the wake of the hot Texas sun. What?!? My first gray hair. When I originally made this pact with myself, I didn't figure that I would find a gray hair until I was thirty, at least. I mean, that's when I would finally be old, right?

To be honest, at that time, I also didn't ever anticipate teaching middle school, and I feel quite certain that this is the source of the other gray hair that has grown meanwhile.

I have not dyed my hair since that summer of 2000. In fact, I remember that I dyed it last on 9/9/99. I went to my friend Megan's apartment to do it. I'm a numbers person with a random memory.

I'm a little OCD with my hair (and I'm pretty sure I meet the clinical definition), so to say that I practiced great restraint in not removing any of the said gray hairs manually is an understatement. Eli's time in law school was a stressful time for me, too, for various reasons, and at some point during that year, I broke down and spent some time in front of a mirror extracting gray hairs. There weren't that many. I mean, I was maybe 28. And thus it began.

If I found a gray hair on my head that was long enough to get a hold of, I would just pull it out. Voila.

Something this last year has changed. Suddenly, my temples are more and more populated by the silver dust, fine and shiny. They have crept up on me. And they are too numerous to remove. So I'm at a crossroads now.

Do I continue to try to removed what I can, ending up with the accursed "unicorn" gray hairs sticking straight up on the top of my head but eluding removal? Or do I just let it go. Let my gray hair grow and be a part of the rest of my hair. At 33, is it time to start being graceful?

I wish that I could sit behind myself at church, and stare at the back of my head during the 40-minute sermon to see exactly how things really are. I can't tell much from the front-view in the mirror, in the light of the bathroom mirror.

I don't know what I'll do. Probably the latter option of letting it grow. We'll see...


Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I just got home and should be asleep, but I need to write this.

Tonight was the choir concert at school. I had planned to go for a while, and I have been very excited about it. I got to sit in and listen to the choir one day while I was getting my observation (we have to do one peer observation each semester) out of the way and that sounded fantastic, enough that I wanted to hear the whole repertoire. I was not disappointed.

After the concert, I headed over to the downtown pub to have an impromptu, last-minute night out with the girls from church. I tell you, I crave this interaction with other women and I honestly don't feel I get enough of it. So when I received a text message this morning about it, I was ecstatic because I was already scheduled to be out of the house for bedtime for the concert--I would just tack one more thing on.

I sat at a table with seven other women and there were multiple conversations going on at once. I was so encouraged by the openness and honesty of these amazing women. Hey, you know what? I am not alone. These feelings I have about being busy, about balancing work and motherhood and having friends (or lack thereof) are not unique.

I'm not the only one cycling through three pairs of pants because none of my clothes fit me. I'm not the only one who feels awkward when hanging out with people, even people I know. I'm not the only one who feels busyness that is overwhelming. I'm not the only one who feels lonely at this motherhood thing. I'm not the only one who is exhausted at the end of the day. I'm not the only one who considered not going tonight because of the aforementioned exhaustion.

It's so strange, but I feel like a burden has been lifted. Could I even go so far as to say that a veil of conspiracy has been lifted--the conspiracy to isolate women/mothers? Well, yes. I could say that, but honestly, I think we do it to ourselves. I know I do. I don't want people to know that I'm not perfect. I don't want people to judge me, my clothes, my children. I don't want people to reject me--the new me, the identity I've found in my new role. It's just easier to stay home, right?

Easier. But maybe not best?

I am not alone. I am deeply encouraged.

And it's with these two refrains that I say a prayer of thanks to sweet Jesus, and then put this weary girl to bed.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Body by Beaver

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking up the hallway at school on my planning period and a parent who had been at a parent-teacher conference with another team was walking back down the hallway toward me. She was a cute, waddling, pregnant lady. I smiled because I couldn't help but smile at the way she was glowing.

And then the bomb dropped.

As she passed me, she rubbed her belly and said, "Looks like you're doing the same thing I am."

Uh. What?

And then I realized that she thought I was pregnant, too.

Boom. The bomb exploded.

I don't remember if this was before or after my nurse friend the nurse assumed the same thing and then went on to chat about the pros and cons about belly fat, but does it really matter when it happened?

Then the weather here changed, and I pulled out my heavier winter-wear: sweaters. Unfortunately, sweaters cling more than the baggy shirts I've been wearing, so more than once I've had students ask me if I'm pregnant (even though I've explained to them that the courtesy is DON'T ASK). No, kids. I'm not.

Last Saturday, I dragged Eli to our teachers' Christmas party even though he was feeling rather unwell (he's such a trooper). He ended up in the TV room upstairs munching on Chex mix and watching the football games on TV with most of the other males at the party. I stayed downstairs chatting it up those who were not interested in football, and in walks a teacher we used to work with that has since moved to another position in another building. We started talking, and she said, "When are you expecting?" She gestured vaguely to my mid-section. I'm not sure exactly what came out of my mouth--some form of verbal diarrhea--trying to tell her that I am not pregnant, but in my mumbling, fumbling, embarrassment, she still didn't get that message, and I finally just said, "I'm not pregnant." She was mortified (though not so much as me, I'm sure), apologized and changed the topic quickly. And then I eased away into conversation with other people in other parts of the house.

I tell you these extremely embarrassing recent encounters because yesterday I got a different message. It's a drill weekend for Eli and one of the other JAGs was getting married, so he was a part of the saber guard. The kids and I drove down to Troy for the wedding and reception (possibly more on that later). At the reception, Elsie was a rocket, firecracker, endless ball of energy, running around, running away, dancing, spinning, turning, making laps around the whole ballroom. Do I even have to mention that I didn't get to eat dinner? She tried to get up on the stage area with the head table, and I had to pull her down. One of the older ladies there was trying to tell me that it was okay if she went up there. I told her that it really wasn't because Elsie would try to jump off the stairs. She laughed and said, "No wonder you're so small--I'm sure she keeps you busy!"

Now, to her credit, I was wearing all my gut-sucking undergarments under my dress (Thanks, Spanx!). But still, the compliment was unexpected.

I have never been a person with negative body image issues. Never. I've never even been on a diet in the fad sense. I have cut foods out (like the time I was able to cut out sodas and drop 10 pounds in six months while simultaneously Jazzercising), and exercised so that I could eat whatever I wanted (when I took up running and training for a marathon--before I was pregnant with Elsie). I've watched my weight peripherally over time, and by that I mean that I don't even own a scale and that I just make a mental note when I got to the doctor for various things. And yes, I've watched it go up, mainly.

And these recent encounters (prior to yesterday's wedding) have caused me to pay more attention. Look--I'm not fat, or overweight, or obese. I know this, but the shape of me is all wrong, and it doesn't help that I have terribly bad posture that emphasizes my shape. "Thick around the middle" would be a good descriptor at this point, but you probably could have guessed that based on all the preceding stories. I don't really have any clothes that fit or flatter me. My clothes are either too big or too small. I bought the big ones to fit me last year when all my clothes were too small, but I've since lost some inches (not sure about if I've lost weight) and I'm in between somewhere. My belt doesn't have enough notches, so my pants are a little droopy.

So here I am, almost 33 years old, and I finally have a complex--let's call it the spare tire complex. I know that I don't have to pay someone to tell me that I need to eat better and exercise more, while paying special attention to those problem areas. And I have plenty of excuses about why it's still a problem, even after the first person mistakenly assumed I was pregnant. And then I filled out 2 pages of a survey that one would fill out if they were going to a physician's weight loss clinic, about eating habits and weight gain, and I forced myself to answer the questions. And I didn't like the answers. Again, I don't need to pay someone to tell me to eat better and exercise--I just need to do it.

I've always been a "group exerciser" and don't do well on my own. So, I've talked to the librarian at school whose baby is a little younger than Oscar, and we are going to be accountable to each other in the spring semester, working out after school. Another friend recommended the book Made to Crave and I think I'm going to get it. Anyone read it yet? From what I understand, it's a Bible study of sorts, and it's supposed to be really good.

Now, all this to say that I'm looking around and am not happy with what I'm seeing--with my body, with my environment. And things need to change. Soon. Or I'm going to go crazy.


Friday, December 9, 2011


In the last week, I had the opportunity to interview for an international studies initiative that sends teachers from Lee County to Korea for a couple of weeks in the summertime to study Korean culture and education. The Korean car industry is king in this part of Alabama, with Kia just a few miles up the insterstae toward Atlanta, and Hyundai about an hour away, just south of Montgomery on I-65. Ajin USA has funded this grant as a way to mutually benefit the school systems and the families of their workers.

I did not get chosen, though the odds were good with only four people interviewing for two spots for my school district. I figured that I may not be chosen since I already have a lot of international experience, so I'm really not all that disappointed. It was going to be a lot of work, and I was overwhelmed thinking about it, but I couldn't have regrets about having an opportunity to apply and not even try!

The reason I'm even mentioning this at all is that I want to look back and reminded that God is faithful. Why I need that reminder, I do not know, since he is faithful all days in all way, but I admit that I'm human. I forget.

So, when I was feeling overwhelmed, like maybe this was not what I needed to be doing, I prayed that the Lord would make the decision very clear--if I was not supposed to go that I wouldn't be chosen for the initiative--since my discernment skills when it comes to something that I want (waaaaah! I'm a big baby) are rather poor.

And you know what? The Lord is faithful. I knew that.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Debt Update

Last month was a good month with some extra income to get us to a third of the way through our first debt thermometer.

First 10K Chunk, started 10/1/11
fundraising ideas
Fundraising Thermometer

We paid off $2234 in debt last month. Looking at the big picture, it seems like nothing. But looking at the small picture, the debt thermometer, that's almost a quarter! And that is exactly why we are using the debt thermometer system. Small victories! Our current debt-load (not including mortgage) is $47,514...and shrinking!

This month will definitely not be as successful, but it's exciting to see that number drop no matter how much debt is being paid off!!

On another happy note, we're in talks with our church elders about offering Financial Peace University at our church. I'm so excited! I hope they let us lead a class!


Friday, December 2, 2011

2.5 and 15 months (a month late)

I've blinked and time has passed so quickly. Oscar is now as old as Elsie was when he was born.

Wait. What?!?

I remember that feeling of bringing O home from the hospital only to realize that E was not a baby anymore, and that she probably hadn't been for a while--I just hadn't known! It's easier for me to see with O because friends are having babies, and he is such a BOY.

We went to the doctor late, so at 15 months and 3 weeks and Oscar was 29 inches long and 21 pounds 2 ounces. Can't seem to find Elsie's stats anywhere to compare, but I know I have them. I'll keep looking.

At 15-months, Elsie was meowing like Coco, saying no (at least, she least she learned it just as my family left after O's birth), and she said "Hi" to everyone--familiars and strangers alike. She was (is) a very outgoing child, and she loved (loves) people.

Oscar is not Elsie. He's not what you would call outgoing. He mostly doesn't mind if other people are holding him, particularly if they have some sort of food in their possession, but he prefers the familiarity of his mama and his daddy (but mostly his mama). He is only saying a few words still ("Ball!" for the first-word WIN for over a month now, "Co Co" in two separated syllables for the cat, "Mo!" with the occasional "Mo! Peeeeeeee!" when he really really really wants something. He hasn't said "chicken" again, but he did it twice in one day. One time he kept repeating "Lie!" and pointing up at the lights, but he hasn't done that since. And the caretaker swears he says something akin to "juice" but I haven't heard it. And within the last two weeks he's starting crying "Mamaaaaaaaaaa"...but only when he cries. He may have picked that up from Elsie's wailing in the mornings. He understands a TON, though. Tell him we're going upstairs, and he heads for the stairs. We're going to take a bath, and he tries to climb into the tub. That's trash, and he puts it in the trash can. The boy loves to eat. Oh yes. And he still loves to shred tissues to pieces. What a weird habit. Still has head issues, but it's been a full two weeks (wow!) since he had some unsightly lump on his forehead.

And Elsie?

Elsie's started screaming the phrase, "I want my mommy" when I'm dropping her off at daycare, or when Eli tells her no. Yeah. So. It begins.

I'm pleased to reflect that 2.5 is much better than 2.0 as far as age is concerned. There are still tantrums, but they are fewer, and more easily tamed since Elsie has access to so much more language. Oh, the language. Something amazing is happening and I can't even quite put my finger on it. Adjectives? Adverbs? Prepositions? Objects of the preposition? Pronouns? Language acquisition is amazing.

And Elsie's memory is just downright amazing. She remembers things she's only heard or seen once or twice and pulls them out WEEKS later. She associates family members to each other even when they are not anywhere near each other (to Ms. E: "Where's Jacob?" [her son who was not even present]). She associates houses with people when she's only been there once or twice.

She's fascinated with whether someone is a boy or a girl, and she'll just start listing people/animals off and categorizing them. "Mama is a girl. Daddy is a boy. Oscar is a boy. Elsie is a girl. Coco is a...girl? No. Coco is a boy. Mimi is a girl." And so on.

She loves birthdays. Candles automatically signal birthday and require extinguishing.

She senses when things are out of the ordinary. At sunset a few days ago, she was astonished that there were pink clouds. She kept repeating it over and over, "Mama, there pink clouds!" Finally, she got funny. "Where blue clouds? Where purple clouds?"

She loves pointing out the moon when it's visible during the day. And if she doesn't see it, I'll hear from the back seat, "Where moon, Mama? Where moon?" And if we turn a corner and she can suddenly see it: "There it is! I found it!"

I've started talking about the drive home like it's a Dora adventure since we make the same drive every day. "Under the bridge, over the train tracks, turn on our street." And she remembers! One day we approached from a different way and she was upset that we didn't go under the bridge, but was appeased when we went over the train tracks and turned on our street anyway.

And a final cuteness story (maybe? ::cuts eyes at husband::) I left for three days to go to Phoenix to visit D, so the car seats got moved into the Subaru, the loud, turbo charged Subaru, so that Eli could haul the kids around out to the hunting camp, to church, etc. The Monday after, instead of moving the seats back, I just drove the Subaru to daycare and then to work. When I picked the kids up, Elsie was adamant:

"Go fast!!! Turn music up!!"

Ah. When the cat's away, the mice will play?


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bama Babies

The first (of presumably many) Alabama football games for the kiddos. Great weather, good game. Nice to be with the Beavers..

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hello, November..

Yup. It's November 2. And I've decided not to participate in NaBloPoMo no mo. At least not this year. I have a ton of other things going on that take precedence. You know, like survival. This is a busy month where we are going to travel at least 3 of the five weekends. One of them I'm headed to Phoenix to see DJ, another we're headed to Tuscaloosa to take Elsie to her first Bama game day experience (and maybe game?) and then we're heading to the ol' motherland for Thanksgiving, planning to see my sister in a musical (I'm jealous) and possibly go to the Baylor game at Jerry World. Ah, we'll see.

I do have a special project I will be working on this month. More on that to come, but first I wanted to update you on how our debt thermometer is looking:

First 10K Chunk, started 10/1/11, paid off as of 11/1/11
fundraising ideas
Fundraising Thermometer

After this month is over, we should aaaaaaalmost be halfway there. And then things will slow down considerably. We did have a yard sale, so that's fun. Didn't make too much, a little over $100. Our yard sale philosophies were a little different (Eli: get rid of stuff, Me: make money to pay off debt), so the next time we do it, we probably need to meet in the middle. Oh, well.

My projects for this month, about which I will write more in depth later, are:

1. Complete our Legacy Drawer (a la Dave Ramsey)
2. Complete the Holiday Control Journal (a la FlyLady)
3. Complete the Regular Control Journal (also FlyLady).

One and two are my priorities...


Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

Honestly, I had already decided not to do Halloween costumes this year. There's been so much going on that I just didn't want to stress myself out about it. But, the daycare provider wanted the kids to come in costume for a little party, so I looked around. In a box of boy clothes that Aunt Bev had sent, I found a Spider-Man costume. Score! Free costume. Then a friend at church mentioned that her son was going as a cowboy since he still had his hat from Elsie's party, and I thought, hey, that's not a bad idea. So this year, no family theme, just Spider-Man and the cowgirl, and Daddy Sheriff. We went trick-or-treating to a couple of the neighboring houses. Elsie loved it. People gave out SO MUCH candy to a 2-year-old. I wanted to scream, "Are you CRAZY??" But then, I knew that the adults would eat most of it, so it was okay. Haha.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jack-o-Lantern Lane

Last year we went to the Farmer in the Dell pumpkin patch out highway 14 toward Loachapoka. It was nice, but it was dusty and there wasn't a whole lot that was friendly for the little little ones. This year we tried a new place. We went out to Jack-o-Lantern Lane in LaFayette, AL. It was a hit. They had an inflatable park ("I wan play!" -- Elsie), train ride, tractor ride, petting zoo, and pumkin patch. We might go back there again next year. It was definitely worth the drive.

I'm sorry, but...

No one held a gun to my head and made me take out student loans. In fact, going to a private college was my choice when public universities wanted me to go for considerably cheaper. I understood that I was going to be paying on those loans for a long time after I graduated--and I chose to sign my name anyway. I could have gone to a public school, 2-year, or 4-year. I would have had less debt. But I didn't. This decision had many consequences:

1. I didn't drop out of school when it got hard. I knew I needed to see a return on my investment.

2. I worked at least two jobs all through college, until my senior year when I could only contractually work the one.

3. I valued all aspects of my schooling more, because I was paying for it. I didn't waste meals on my meal plan, and I didn't blow money on stupid stuff. I didn't party, and I didn't join a cost-prohibitive sorority.

4. I spent two years working for AmeriCorps, away from the man I was going to marry, getting my feet wet in the field of education, with the bonus of an education credit to use toward my loans or toward graduate school (I used it for both). I worked extra jobs on top of my 50 hours a week of volunteer-work, not because I *had* to, but because I wanted to. I knew that I had to make a dent in my debt-load at age 21. And I did.

5. I paid double payments on my loans from the very beginning of repayment, even when I only made $700/month. When we got married and joined our finances, this was a non-negotiable. Double payments. And so, within seven years of finishing my master's degree, I was rid of those dang loans. Thirteen years early. Because that is what I CHOSE to do. I could have spent that extra payment-worth of money buying lots of stuff that the Jones' have, but I DIDN'T.

This whole Occupy Whatever seems to be a lot of blame-shifting. Yes, there's corruption in government, but I'm going to share a secret with you. Shhh.. Don't tell anyone: The government is PEOPLE!! It's PEOPLE!! (Think: Soylent Green). People are sinful, corrupt. So, therefore a government of the people, by the people, and for the people cannot be and should not be expected to be perfect.

I am NOT a victim. I am the product of my choices through God's will and grace in my life. I will not blame anyone else for my situation, because there is no one else to blame. I will not judge others in their choices, but I will not listen to their false cries of victimization. I will continue to pay my taxes and let Caesar use those taxes to do what he will. I will continue to vote to convey my preferences for how my taxes are used. And I will continue to give to God what is God's. (Ref. Matthew 22:21).

And there is no such thing as lucky or unlucky.

That is all.

Friday, October 28, 2011

In over my head

So, I've failed at blogging for the last...2 months? I'm still not going to succeed too much tonight, except to tell you all that we are busy. Too busy. Whenever we drop an activity to salvage some sanity (goodbye Kaplan, being greeters at church, working the nursery), another one creeps into its place (hello kickball, Coast Guard, eLearning classes, church dinners, small group, church committees, worship team). No, really--did anyone else notice that we dropped three activities and replaced them with..SEVEN? It's a sickness.

Eli's work schedule has been hectic with trials and dockets, etc. My schedule has been exhausting, and I'm still not getting everything done that I need and want to get done, including updating the blog. Unfortunately, this season of life is not soon to pass, and our internet is not soon to get faster, thus uploading photos takes forever.

I do have a phone again (thanks, Mom). But I'm having to rebuild everything from my SIM card that was stolen. So, I probably don't have your number anymore. :( Five years on that SIM card. Five years. If you're reading this and you have my e-mail address, I probably had your number in my phone. Can't hurt to send me an e-mail and give me your digits again, right?

So, what's been happening in my otherwise-charmed life?

I went to the dentist. I have three cavities that need to be filled early December. The dentist and hygienist made a joke of me (not about the cavities, about my response to if I floss--yes, but I ran out and haven't replaced it because it's not in the budget this month) and wouldn't let it go. But I did get an extra free sample spool of dental floss and was told that when I run out I can come back and they'll give me more. Thanks. I'm never eating sugar anything again. And I might switch dentists.

A friend from church came up to me while I was holding Oscar and touched my belly and asked, "Another one in the oven?" No, just fat. And then she started talking to me about belly fat and recommending some books. I'm never eating carbs again. (She's a nurse, so I'm not that offended. To her credit, I do stand with my hips pushed forward as my natural posture, and for some reason, it's exaggerated when I'm holding a baby on my hip. Oh, and I have belly fat.)

Oscar ran into the table at daycare and has a shiner. It's an O around his eye. Just like in the movies. Who knew?

Elsie has been a two-year-old, but believe it or not, it has improved as she's made it further into her third year on the planet. More words and communication mean fewer tantrums. More sass, but fewer tantrums. I'll take what I can get.

On the flip side, O is all about the instant gratification. And when he isn't instantly gratified, our eardrums border on rupturing from his pathetic screams of injustice. It's a put-on, because once he gets what he wants, he gives this little half laugh ("heh heh"). But I sure hope this phase passes soon, because it's just not cute. I also noticed tonight that he looked at me when Elsie pushed him, waiting to see if I noticed (I did), and then he started his crying, looking right at me and conjuring enormous crocodile tears. Ugh. Toughen up, kid. Welcome to your life as a little brother to Hurricane E.

So, yeah. We're here. Keep us in your prayers. :)


Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Day at the Park and the Playground

Town Creek Park

Dean Road Recreation Center Playground


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Many Faces of Dr. No (also known as Elsie)

We went to Guthrie's before Oscar got his hair cut. Ignore Elsie's hair. It had been wet, and then it dried. Mostly, she was just hamming it up while we ate. She cracks us up.