Friday, June 29, 2007

In the kitchen of my inlaws' cottage, there is a little sign that sums them up perfectly. It cracks me up because it is so sweet and so awful at the same time. it says...

I'm so miserable without you,
it's like having you here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Real Mommy Wars...

Forget stay-at-home mom vs. working mom. Forget breastfeeding mom vs. bottle feeding mom. Cry it out vs. co-sleeping? not even close. The real Mommy Wars?

Wet Mom vs. Dry Mom

I take the kids several days a week to go swimming at my inlaws. They have a couple of cottages on this country club (when you think country club, think country as in surrounded by cornfields.) where they have a 9 hole golf course, tennis courts, pond for fishing, swingset, and a swimming pool. It has a nice little pool with a kiddie section complete with "beach" and a deeper end that goes from 3ft-6ft. The kids have a great time and it really is like the summers of my childhood where I swam on our swim club's team, and spent the entire day in my swimsuit.

Now, I've always had a bit of difficulty in the complicated world of women's social circles. I've never really found my niche. Even in high school, I was well liked by pretty much everyone but was still never a member of any social circle. I'm still that way. I don't quite fit into any one group and spend most of my time on the periphary of all of them. In someways a bit envious, wishing I had the comfort and identity of a circle, but mostly thinking the whole thing is just too silly and too complex for me to bother with. (yes, that was my haughty self-righteousness rearing its ugly head.)

So, back to the Real Mommy Wars...everyday at this pool there are two types of mothers. "The Wet Moms" and "The Dry Moms." The Dry Moms are the vast majority of the moms at the pool and have a few different sub-groups. You have the solo Dry Moms who lay on their loungers and read their books, sometimes completely oblivious to the behavior of their children. (Usually, a 12 year old child with anger issues rough housing in the baby pool.) Then you have the Dry Moms who are actually outside of the pool area doing other things. And then you have the Dry Moms who sit around in a group in the area between the two pools, drink margaritas, gossip, and occasionally yell at (without following through, of course) their various children.

The Wet Moms also have a few sub-groups. You have the Wet Moms who sit in the baby pool with their babies getting wet up to their butt. You have the Wet Moms who stand waist deep in the deeper pool, sometimes pulling children around on floats, and yell at their children (or your children, for that matter) for splashing them and getting their hair wet. And then you have the Wet Moms who sunbathe on the beach of the baby pool, drink margaritas and leave very little room for actual babies in the baby pool.

Now, I'll leave you to judge who is the better Mom. The one taking much needed time for herself while her children play happily in the pool, or the one who is more involved (maybe over involved?) in her child's life and uses the pool as quality time well spent. I can't be bothered. I'm too busy getting disapproving looks for splashing pool water into the maragritas while I win (hands down!) the Cannonball contest.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

*sigh* I love summer...

whole lot of nothing to do.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's not the's the hair

I now realize that the vast majority of annoying comments come from generally very sweet, well intentioned people commenting on the color of the children's hair. My favorite encounter was at a nearby playground.

Man: Wow. You have quite a lot of blondies there.
Me: Yep. We sure do!
Man: I don't think I've ever seen such blonde hair.
Me: (laugh politely)
Man: No really, I've never seen hair that blonde. And I'm from Sweden.

Ok. wow. that is blonde. Hair so blonde on The Meatball and Porkchop that it's practically translucent. When Porkchop gets his hair wet, he just looks bald. Jellybean has a touch of red to her blonde and Ladybug seems to be heading that way as well. we'll see.

Today we were walking back from the pool to Chowder's parent's cottage at this "country club," when someone made a blonde comment. Jellybean gave an exasperated mumble under her breath, "Yes! We have blonde hair!" I smiled at her and explained it was a compliment and that it was pretty cool that they have this special similarity that ties them together. It helped for now, but we'll have to see in the future. This doesn't help when several of the African American youth in our church have to constantly be touching their hair. It's gotten better for them, but the touches still come no matter how covertly.

My biggest problem is that I don't have blonde hair. I'm a total outcast when I'm with the kids. I'm constantly asked where they got the blonde hair from. I'm always thinking, well let's go back to high school biology class. I don't have blonde hair so chances are their father does.

But, this summer I've decided to dye my hair blonde. That's right. When I go in for my next haircut and color, I will no longer be the freak of the family like this. ...not much I can do about the brown eyes.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I'm sorry. I feel like such a rude hostess. Making an inside joke or something. I realize now that I have many new readers (where did you come from? welcome.) but oddly enough I now have fewer comments (what's that all about?). I made reference to my other blog and I received a few email asking about it. That was rude of me, and I apologize.

I only wrote about this other blog once and promised to never link to that blog again, though you can get to it in my profile. Again, I warn you. It is not a pretty place. It is where I try to shed all of my obsessive morbid thoughts. When I hear a news story about children being harmed, I just kind of freak out. Not, just a little. But, carry it around with me for days. weeks. months. So, if you are sensitive to child death and abuse, don't go over there.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Journey is too much for me...alone

So as those of you that peek in on my other blog may have noticed, I'm posting there alot more often again. I'm trying to piece together what may cause my OCD flare-ups and what exactly settles them down. nothing like a little good arm chair self-analysis. There was a nice period that I didn't feel paralyzed. I thought it was because I was taking the Ambien and getting to sleep instead of wallowing in my obsessive morbid thoughts.

But, I'm still taking my Ambien. And it's starting all over. One thing I think I need to avoid is the TV. Comedies are great. But, it seems the dramas are having to go further and further to scare and shock us. Well, it's working for me. I'm more scared and more shocked. It used to be that crimes against children were untouchable in those series. Now, it seems to be every other episode. Even the news programs on TV are designed to scare us and shock us. Again, it's working for me. Granted, I know I'm especially susceptible to these anxieties, but I have noticed it in other mothers as well. I'll stick to getting my news from the NPR. The radio is good. it has no images to seer into my memory.

Chowder and I are also in a rough spot. Some financial things that had been neglected are really piling up on us now. Nothing terribly dire, but very stress-inducing. And I'm still having to overcome some bitterness about the whole thing. We will be fine. But, we have to get there, first.

It all reminds me of my favorite scripture verse 1 kings 19:7

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa The angel of the LORD came back a second time
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand touched him and said, "Get up and eat,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafor the journey is too much for you."

So folks, I need to continue to get up and I need to continue to feed myself on God's word and promises. For the journey is indeed too much for me. Thanks be to God for his angels.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Shoe fetish...

I couldn't care less about my own feet. I have never had any longings for super expensive ridiculously high heels. I do have a weakness for well crafted boots, but nothing I actually splurge one.

Baby feet are a whole other matter. I can buy baby shoes. I love baby shoes. I love the baby feet that go into the baby shoes. Just look at these adorable feet in these crazy adorable shoes.

I mean for crying out loud people! I cannot be stopped!

Where's Skaterboy?

You know what I hate most about the teenage's getting you ready for the grown-up years. The splitting away. The seperate life. It's not big stuff. Just wanting to go to the YMCA and hang out with the kids at the skatepark. Normal stuff. Reassuring in many ways. but it makes me begin to feel like I have two different families. I begin to get too many pictures like this...

wait no. like this

yes, the picture is crooked. The camera was balanced on the hood of the van. and yes, my hair is awful. I'm trying to grow it out. It will grow...someday

Sunday, June 17, 2007

For Chowder...In honor of Father's Day and Our Anniversary

I just found this tucked into my bible. It is dated October 16, 1998.

hey i thought i might tell you a story

one beautiful sunny and breezy october day
two young lovers went for a walk in shaw's gardens.
they raced through the maze and
splashed in the jumping waters
they lay down and talked to the koi on the
then they finally found a nice cozy spot
in the japanese garden
and sat down on a rock
away from the people
next to the temple sculpture
and he asked

how long have i known you
and she said
for eleven years i have been your best friend

and he said
we've done alright

yes, she said
we've done good

well then i want to know if you'll
and he pulled a small box from his pocket
and put the beautiful old ring
on her
old tired finger

and she cried
and she said


Friday, June 15, 2007

Welcome to Cakesville...population 7

well...8 if you count the dog.
and, we do.

When we were living in Northern Minnesota, we lived in a small town. a very. small. town. Population 1,100 people. 1,300 if you included all the surrounding villages and scary backwoods places. It was also situated on a beautiful lake that attracted a lot of recreationers. Basically, we were a resort town.

Because we were a resort town, and because I was one of the town's 3 pastor's wives, I was a pretty frequent tour guide of sorts. Sure, there were questions about the antique stores and the coffee shop etc, but I got most of the questions about what it was like to actually live there. year round. Some people were interested because they thought it would be neat, some people couldn't believe we were crazy enough to live there because we seemed like such normal people, some people wanted the town's history, some people were rudely curious (that typical American Tourist). And as official Pastor's Wife, I was generally a pretty friendly guide. But, sometimes, I just wanted to answer, "It's like living anywhere else but with lots of snow and TOURISTS!" Luckily, I never did yell that at anyone...outside of my head.

Shaz's comment on my last post got me thinking. When I worked at Borders bookstore, there was a 40 something year old African American woman who worked with me. Her name was Chris and I liked her a lot. For some reason she liked me a lot, too. We would talk about all kinds of things, but I would always end up slipping in some sort of cultural question. Genuinely interested (especially because of our urban ministry), genuinely needing help trying to avoid or fix a miscommunication, genuinely trying to understand cultural differences and perceptions. She was always very nice and gentle in her explanations, but one day I realized I was forcing the "Tour Guide" role on her. I apologized and she laughed and said it was really ok, to ask.

In many ways, we are all tour guides. Tour Guides for our way of life. Sometimes by people genuinely interested, sometimes by people trying to prove how crazy and wrong we are, sometimes by people who incorrectly feel they deserve an answer. But, how we respond tells as much about us, as what we say. The tour guide, rightly or wrongly, represents the place.

Chowder and I now get asked lots of really funny questions by our church's African American youth. And sometimes we need them to be tour guides, too. I find myself calling on others to walk me through their cultures, sometimes I have to stop myself because the timing is all wrong or it really is none of my business. But, sometimes I go ahead. And then I learn how to tell when a Mango is ripe, how to get the curry just right, I get to see the beauty of the fabric in a woman's sari, and understand why a symbol has such importance. And these are good things to know and learn and appreciate about each other.

And as I learned while I was living in that little town, sometimes being asked to act as tour guide gives me a brand new appreciation for my way of life. I point out things I had taken for granted for so long, I think about questions I never bothered to answer for myself, I get a chance to look at the big picture through another's eyes and see things I hadn't noticed before.

So Shaz, I thank "you" for being so kind to me when I asked about the age women start covering their heads when we were in Target the other day. "You" were a very friendly guide to a very silly girl.

Somebody tell me what I am supposed to look like...

Encounter #1~We were at the zoo, my 3 were running around being silly. They kept hugging and kissing each other to the point of annoyance. It's a very popular game in our family. This one little girl was sitting at a table nearby and I heard her tell her mother that she wished she had a brother or sister. The mom was very snappy in her retort telling her child loudly enough for mine to hear her, that she gets her own room and doesn't have to share clothes or toys etc etc. I was about to come back at her, but God made me hesitate and I heard her daughter mumble she'd rather have a sister.

I stopped and looked at the woman and said, "They were from IVF." I don't know what made me say that so randomly, but it was exactly the right thing to say. She started crying and apologizing to me. She said she had just gotten a negative the day before, on her third IVF cycle to give her daughter a sibling and she didn't know what they were going to do next.

I was so thankful I had hesitated at the moment. I was so thankful that I had gone through all I have gone through to have my children, so that I could understand what was happening at that moment. And I am so thankful beyond reason, for my glorious family.

Encounter #2~ I was at Whole Foods tonight getting some produce. At the checkout line, the woman in front of me had three small children. The were tired, cranky, and clearly done. After she leaves, the checkout girl looks at me conspiritorially and starts talking about how 3 children is just too many that it only makes sense for people to only have two otherwise you're outnumbered and they clearly act out from lack of attention. When she was done she looked up at me. I smiled. "I have 5." Her jaw dropped and her face went pale. She followed up with the classic..."But, you don't look like you have 5 kids."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Chowder wanted to get the kids one of those expensive wooden playsets to keep them occupied in the backyard.

Silly boy. Kids apparently just need an old board and a large, plastic flowerpot.

You should have seen them later when one would climb inside the flowerpot while the other two would roll him/her around the yard.

This is in the middle of the backyard renovation. I'll post pics of our almost finished yard soon.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I think I might be addicted to Redemption.

I was talking with Chowder about what it is about us that we can't seem to stick with things that we know are good for us. Not just know are good, but that we actually physically, mentally, and spiritually reap huge rewards from. Whoever said that 6 weeks of something forms a habit, has never met me. Right around 3 months is when I throw in the towell. That was the absolute hardest time when I quit smoking. You get a little complacent. You think you have it all under control, so one little slip won't that big of a deal because you can just hop back on the wagon. and then, it's all over.

As I finished my laundry, I went to open the drawer in the kitchen to get a bib out for Ladybug. And lo and behold, there was a bib. A little wash cloth to wipe her down? a neat little stack of them sitting right next to a similar stack of bibs. How easy. How convenient. How much more smoothly mealtime went. needed placemats to set the table? A whole drawer of the buffet filled with crisp ironed table lines. Or this morning when the kids went to get dressed? get this. They opened their drawers and chose some clean folded clothes, made their beds with all of the right sheets on them, brushed their teeth and went downstairs. ingenious.

You see the last few weeks have gone more like this...get up and go into the laundry room, dig around in the pile of clean laundry that's on the laundry table and then through the dryer searching for clothes for the kids. Decide that my son wearing girl's underwear for a couple of hours is not that big of a deal and throw the clothes from the dryer onto the pile on the table and then realize that the washer has gone sour so I re-wash the clothes in the washer and throw in a couple of pairs of Porkchop's underwear. The same looking for bibs. The same trying to be creative looking for something to act as a dishtowell. etc. etc.

Obviously scenario 1 was much, much easier. My life was much calmer. much more in control. It lead to everyone having a better, easier day. So, what is my problem? Why can't I keep it up for longer than 3 months?

Same with cooking.
Same with money.
Same with prayer.
Same with exercise.

As I thought about this, what is the big payoff for my "sin?" What am I getting out of this cycle of behavior? I realized I am a Redemption Junkie. I love the redemption. The honest truth is I get a huge rush from taming the chaos. I switch into manic mode and I redeem myself. I redeem my finances, my laundry, my soul. I get to wipe the slate clean. get a fresh start. I'm all Prodigal Son coming home.

Think this is too far a stretch? Don't think for one second that I didn't mentally kill the fattened calf when I went from this to this. Because I can tell you people, I did. And Chowder killed me a fattened calf, too, when I cleaned our room. Even my absence from people's lives. Sure, I need to retreat sometimes, especially when my OCD is acting up (which it is), but isn't there part of me that is just a little brat loving you all killing the fattened calf for me? for my homecoming?

But, let's face it folks. The older son is boring with a capital B. Yes. yes. Slow and Steady wins the race. But, don't you think that the Tortoise is eyeing the Hare and just wishing he could have so much fun? I know letting things slide into mayhem is hardly whooping it up. And I know I didn't fall into a bout with wine and prostitutes (well, with prostitutes, anyway). But, didn't I "squander my wealth in wild living?" Didn't I know that God's life of order is best, simply because it is the easiest way to live? So, how do I find that rush in the simple maintenance of living? How do I live the life of the older son without the need for tangible redemption? How do I make it past that 3 month mark?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

How's Everybody?!

Have I waited long enough to drive all of my readers away? Have you all given up and gone home?

I think I'm back. I'm feeling very refreshed. I have lots to tell you about. (We have almost completed renovating Urban Blight! Wait till you see it!) Stuff I'm doing. (I'm teaching myself embroidery?! What is that all about?) I have some new prayer requests. Chowder is interviewing with a church back in Minnesota. (YAY! but we are both weirdly at peace with the whole thing. Whatever comes.) I want to throw my almost 16 year old son out the window. (wait a minute, that's not new.)

Things had slipped way out of hand, but I am now gaining back control. I'd say we have this fire probably about 80% contained. I lived quite happily in denial for a little bit there while things piled up on top of me. Mostly laundry and bills. We totally began to ignore our money, set some bad stuff into action, and tonight spent the evening talking about what happened and tomorrow we have a date with our budget...and a bottle of wine. Hell this might take 2 bottles of wine. Paper piles, floors (which I am only washing, I admit, because Ladybug is all over the freakin place. Feisty little monkey.) So, the 1st floor, the laundry, and meals are completely back on track. The 2nd floor still needs a good full day's worth of work. My bedroom is the Cakes Family Dump. no lie. I keep after the kids to keep their room picked up, and they walk into mine and scold me. And it's a well-deserved scolding. It all falls apart behind my bedroom door. I need to pick a day next week that Chowder can distract the children while take back the 2nd floor.

And you know the story...when your house starts to slip, your children's behavior is very quickly behind it. So, we are getting back on track there as well. Porkchop is my child to bear. He will make you lose your mind. Sweet as sweet could ever be, but with a wild streak I've have never seen the like of. Our main conversation right now....

Mom: Porkchop. Are you a wild animal? Do you use that brain God gave you? Because if you don't, you're the same as a wild animal. If you're going to behave like a wild animal, you'll have to go outside. I can't have wild animals in the house.

Porkchop: No, Mommy. I'm not a wild animal. I am a civilized little boy.

Mom: What do civilized little boys do?

Porkchop; When they think about doing something naughty, they tell their bodies, "NO! Don't be naughty."

Mom: mmmmm...and you can be this civilized little boy?

Porkchop: Yes, Mommy. Do you still love me mommy?

Mom: Good Heavens, Little Goofus, of course Mommy loves you. You can't make Mommy not love you. I just love you too strongly for that. But, I might have to hurt you if give it a try.

and finally my prayer request.
We have been blessed with getting reacquainted with some old friends of ours. This time has been such a wonderful thing. And we are so thankful for it. They have been coming up for two weeks at a time every two weeks. You prayer request is for the little boy in the hat. His name is Owen. He is four years old and is fighting lymphoma. At this point in time the chemo has completely zapped the tumor and he is being called "in remission." He still has another round of chemo to go in a couple of weeks. Please pray for complete healing. Please pray for his little brother George, who has to be shuffled around alot. Please pray for Chris and Heather. For strength and perseverence.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

well then...

She's gone.

a week ago actually.

This week has been a flurry of family in and out. My brother, who I rarely get to see. Aunts, uncles, cousins. cousins of cousins. You know, funeral folk. She died last Sunday. Chowder came home from church around 8:30am, which he never does. He walked into the kitchen where I was making a cup of tea and told me mom had called this morning. That my grandma had died. He quickly clarified which grandma when he saw the panicky confusion on my face. You don't think you would be surprised when a woman of 90 dies. but I was.

Now, funerals are done. luncheons are over. and all of the activity of death has come to a close. and yet, I forgot. Tonight, I was looking at my calendar to plan my week, and I forgot that she had died. Tomorrow is Monday. Lunch with Grandma. Dammit it's right there on the calendar. In bright pink marker. every Monday.