Monday, April 27, 2009

Just Another Manic Monday (With Zombies! And Swedish Meatballs!)

Mondays always find me in a bit of a zombie state. Not in the undead, looking for human flesh to feast upon sense, but in the blank stare, monosyllabic one.

Sundays, for obvious reasons, are busy days for us. So by Sunday night, I am exhausted. This weekend, that was exacerbated by the fact that Jason left last Wednesday for a conference in New Zealand, so I was flying solo with the kids and preparing to preach on Sunday. In all seriousness, it's something I truly love to do (public speaking, not single mom-ing) but it can also be a physically and mentally draining process.

Today, all in all, was a good Monday, despite my fried brain state. The morning after I speak, I always re-run stuff I said through my head and cringe a bit. Like, why did I say that? What was I thinking? Fortunately this morning, while brushing my teeth, I only had 2 or 3 forehead slapping moments. Okay, maybe 4 or 5. Then, the kids and I went to playgroup and enjoyed our first real, crisp autumn day.

Then, this afternoon, the homing chip that is implanted in my body switched on. The fact that I must have a secret microchip somewhere is the only way I can explain my sudden, random urges to go to Ikea. Must. Go. Ikea. Must. See. Karlstad. Sofa.
I texted Jason, who had just arrived at Sydney airport. "Take the train to Ikea!", I wrote, "We'll meet you there." All trains lead to Ikea, you know. And what better place for a family reunion?

We embraced, we dropped the kids at Smaland (free childcare!),we browsed, we all feasted on Swedish fare. Daddy is home and life is good.

And to top it off, I am reasonably certain that I didn't say anything heretical yesterday! Yippee!

P.S. Thanks, Mai and Jen--for helping out with the kiddos!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Paging Dr. Freud...Hello? Anyone?

I found myself having a conversation with Nate this week that I realized is distinctly above my pay grade.

(Really, have you recently seen a more beautiful boy? But anyway.)

So we (read:he) were finishing up a trip to the potty recently, and Nate decided to tell me all about how he wishes his, um, boy parts were bigger. (I'm trying to spare you too many details as he'll read this someday, and I think it'd be nice if he still talks to me after.)

He said in such a wistful, contemplative tone, "Me wish me had peepee like Daddy. My peepee little." So of course, I do my best to reassure him that his parts are just the size they ought to be--you can imagine how that went. Wow, I'm thinking, does this sort of thing really start this early? Feelings of inadequacy and comparison?

Memories of Freudian theory from my Intro Psyc classes and scenes from Oedipus Rex flashed through my brain.

Great. So, now he's an adorable three year old. (See above photos.) But soon, according to theory and ancient Greek playwrights, he'll start overcompensating by driving cars too fast and then he'll be trying to kill his father to establish his own dominance in the family. Just great.

I don't have time to deal with patricide! I have laundry to do, people. I've got a sermon to preach tomorrow. Sheesh.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How was this even Remotely appropriate?

Quick post, y'all. Just saw this on

"Baby Shaker" App Pulled From I-Phone Store

Yeah, it's as appalling as it sounds. Apparently it was feature briefly as an Iphone app and then yanked after people and child protection groups protested that it was offensive and dangerous. Offensive? Ya think? Here's how the site that created the app promoted it: "On a plane, on the bus, in a theater. Babies are everywhere you don't want them to be! They're always distracting you from preparing for that big presentation at work with their incessant crying. Before Baby Shaker there was nothing you could do about it.

Someone is asleep at the wheel at the Iphone store. Or appallingly insensitive. Or dangerously stupid. Or both.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Somebody Stop Me...

...From reading this book incessantly.

Dost thou know of the character Jack Reacher? This is pure, escapist, fun, kick-butt fiction. My sister first introduced Jason and I to Lee Child's books a few years back, and we are hooked. I figured it was okay to read them--seeing as how Becky's a literary GENIUS at all. I mean, anyone who reads 18th century French novels must know somethin' about books, right? Anyway, Gone Tomorrow is the newest installment, and I am loving it! Jack Reacher is so competent, so capable, so willing to open a can when a can needs to be opened, that it's a totally cathartic read! Like, why don't I know how to head-butt someone? Why can't I look at a city map and use my deductive skills to guess which seedy motel the bad guys are hiding in? Who needs pasty vampire boys when you can read about that? Anyway, I've been spending too much time reading it lately!

...From being a pack rat! I promise, I don't keep stuff out of fear of lack or sentimentality, mostly it's just plain laziness! I guess I'm in my "nesting" phase now, much to Jason's amusement. Yesterday and today, I've cleaned out the kids' closets, and our linen closet--AKA "The Place Where Old Baby and Maternity Clothes Go To Die." I was gonna take a picture to show y'all how much stuff I gave away, but I'm embarrassed to. Too. Much. Stuff. As my uncle Johnny would say, I don't need another cotton-pickin' thing. I am hereby placing an embargo on all incoming merchandise. Especially given the need in the world, I couldn't believe how much clothes were hidden away in there! Like, how many onesies did one baby boy need? Apparently, 837. Phew!

...From eating chocolate frosting out of the can! I know--shameful. I had several spoons' worth out of the can yesterday while the kids were napping. That, I believe, is just one level above spraying whipped cream directly into your mouth. Which I probably woulda done, if we'd had any. I know!! Then, that evening, Jason was cleaning out the fridge, and said, "Hey--should we just throw this frosting out? We don't need it for anything." And I was all, "Oh wow--yeah, I forgot that was in there." How stereotypical is that?? Have I become a caricature of myself? But, dang, y' was goooood.

It's still calling my name...

Well, there you have my last two days. A closet-cleaning, chocolate frosting out-the-can eating, thriller reading girl. I mean, I been doin' other stuff. But those are the highlights. (Life is pretty nice.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009


We've been having lots of conversations with Ava lately about God. The penny is starting to drop for her and she has a lot of questions about Jesus, heaven, how do we love God, how "big" God is, etc. In a way, it's encouraging, cause you spend years talking, reading together, praying, but you don't always know what's sinking in.

(Lest you think I'm always hiding from my kids!)

And other times, you wonder exactly what has sunk in! Some concepts are apparently still too abstract! Last night, we were driving home from a friend's house and she started asking about what God could do. Could He be in the car with us even with all the doors closed? Can He fly? Is He the strongest? You get the idea. (It's hard to explain this whole omnipresence thing!) Yes, we told her, we suppose that Jesus can fly if He wants to--he can do anything, after all.

"Yeah," she says contemplatively, "I guess Jesus is kind of like a boy fairy." Jason and I both almost got whiplash from looking away to stifle our laughter! I think Jesus probably did too. (We told Ava that Jesus was always with us, so of course he was in the car.)

I don't think He minds being thought of as a boy fairy for now. God is a lot less uptight than we think He is.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Celebration of My Cat-Like Reflexes

Scene: My house. Two days ago, mid-morning. Status: The kitchen was a wreck, there was much laundry to be done, the living room carpet was becoming its own rich ecosystem, and there were several emails to answer. Me: Feeling a bit overwhelmed, trying to break these tasks down into bite-sized chunks. Kids: Running around, playing.

Then the magic happened. No, there weren't any furry woodland creatures that came and helped me with my housework. (Dang that Snow White for getting my hopes up!)As I was unloading the dishwasher and emailing, I noticed something. The kids had not come into the kitchen, screamed, cried, or yelled for me in the last ten minutes. I stopped to listen. If I could've, I'm sure I woulda cocked one ear like a puppy. I realized that they were playing happily in the next room. Without being aware of me.

And that's when I went stealth.

If you're a parent, or if you've been a caregiver, you have surely learned the art of making yourself invisible to contented children. At this point in my pregnancy, I am not exactly petite. I am not fleet-footed. But when I realize that I have a chance to work uninterrupted, my stealth capabilities rival the most top-secret military technology. I am the wind. I am a whisper. I am a lampshade. (I needed a third thing--sorry.)

Here are the time-honored, tested rules of parenting stealth.
1. Do not enter the room in which your children are playing. If you have to walk by, do it quickly.

2. Go about your work quietly. If you need to make a phone call, go to the other end of the house. Superfluous noise? Are you insane? What is happening in your kids' room is sacred. It is bigger than you. DO NOT MESS WITH IT.
3. If your kids happen to enter the room you are in, do not make direct eye contact. This says to them, "I am doing something I really need to do--come stop me." They can smell productivity and will act to put a stop to it. Become a piece of furniture. Nothing to see here, kids. Move right along.
4. If they do call your name, don't be so foolish as to answer on the first call. What are you, some kinda rookie? It may be a fleeting thing, forgotten in the next moment. Perhaps they're playing house, and calling each other "mom" and "dad". Wait. Listen. You are the air. You are a shadow.
5. And if all else fails, distract them with chocolate. Give them some leftover Easter candy and then suggest an outdoor picnic for them. Then, run! Run and hide and wait for the sugar rush to hit.

I believe that we all have something valuable to offer the world. This may just be my piece of the puzzle. No, no don't thank me. If what I've shared allows you to answer one more email, do one more load of laundry, or drink a cup of tea in peace, well that's thanks enough.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Foldin' and Thinkin', Thinkin' and Foldin'

I am taking a breather from folding laundry. I think our neighbors must be sneaking in and leaving their dirty clothes in our house. Cause I can't figure out how we could possibly have so much laundry to do. This is about a tenth of what I'm working on tonight.
I think this new baby will alternate between two outfits. Or can I buy some disposable clothes somewhere?

I actually (sometimes)like folding clothes cause it's mindless enough to give one time to think. Yesterday, Easter Sunday, we got a phone call at about 6:30 in the morning. A lady in our church had passed away from cancer. The family had begun attending church at the beginning of last year, a few weeks before her diagnosis. So over the last 14 months, our congregation really got involved. It was amazing to watch this woman's faith develop, strengthen and grow over the last year. I know from talking to her that when she died, she died with a greater trust in God and peace in Him than she'd ever had as a healthy person. I guess to many people, that doesn't make sense, in the light of such a grim prognosis. It's an apparent contradiction. I guess it doesn't always make sense to me, either!

I can't and wouldn't presume to understand why she died, why our prayers for her healing weren't answered on this side of heaven. Sometimes it's tempting to think that faith will package our lives neatly and in understandable units. I've come to realize (at the venerable age of 32) that faith sometimes makes us okay with the messiness of it all. There is a life beyond this one, there is a hope that outlasts it all, there is a love greater and more powerful than all our fears.

My good friend Holly lost her husband suddenly three years ago, while she was 6 months pregnant with their third child. It was a terrible shock to all of us. Months after he died, I remember her telling me that, in his death, she'd faced one of her worst fears and lived through it. She told me that it had strengthened and emboldened her to live differently. If what she'd feared most hadn't destroyed her, she reasoned, then what could? To me, that's the hope that comes from faith.

So that's what I'm thinkin' about as I fold an endless pile of towels and underwear. (That and this really lame Jennifer Aniston movie on TV.) I think Jesus put it best: (imagine that!) "You don't have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all."

I am not someone who welcomes adversity. I am the first to ask for an Ibuprofen or an epidural! But it comforts me to know that my ability to face trouble does not rest on my own merits, but on the One who offers life and hope in the here and now. Some may call that belief a crutch to get through life, but I happen to believe that we were all born with a limp. So bring on the crutches--I'll take two!

Anyway, such are my laundry-folding, Easter season, hormone-tinged musings. Hope all is well where you are. Now, speaking of adversity--back to matching endless pairs of socks! Next time, you might just see a photo of me in those aformentioned mom jeans, so stay tuned, peeps!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Really, I Don't Think You Wanna Waste Your Time

My brain is a bit fried after a busy couple of weeks, as well as some tough situations we are dealing with. So, y'all mind if I share a few random, all-but meaningless, disjointed thoughts with you? Sweet!

1. I was driving home tonight after having dinner with a friend, and the CD player changed over to an REM CD. It's a "Greatest Hits" one that I bought at Borders for half price awhile back. I have fond memories of REM--I associate it with my preteen years, I think. Anyway, I'm listening to the songs, skipping through to the ones I know, and then I realize. I really have no idea what the HECK any of these songs are talking about. Man on the Moon? The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight? I mean, let's be honest--it's like they took one of those poetry refrigerator magnets and just strung some words together. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, MICHAEL STIPE? And can you just get over yourself, anyway? Why have we all pretended that we get these songs? Is it just me? Perhaps it is my issue--as you know, I tend to feign competency.

2. I have loved getting to know the other moms who have kids in Ava's class. They really are a lovely bunch of women. The other day, one of them brought me some maternity clothes to borrow. I hadn't even asked, she just thought to do it on her own. I find that, after a few years here of being "new on the scene", that I really appreciate when people go out of their way to make me welcome. Often, people who have always lived in one place just aren't used to thinking about what a newcomer might need. Does that make sense? Anyhoo, I was touched by that.

3. I'm pretty sure I'm out of the running for Mother of the Year again. Last week, I took the kids out for ice cream after picking Ava up from school. We dutifully went to the bathroom, did the potty thing, and washed our hands before eating. It got to the point though, where it was beyond time to get in the car and go home, and I was rushing the kids to that end. (Warning: what follows may be an overshare.) Well, my Nate is still getting the hang of this whole potty thing, and after we get to the car, get in the car, get in car seats and all buckled up, he chooses to announce that he has to go #2. In fact, he has already gone #2 some in his underwear. (Sorry--I did warn you.) You woulda unbuckled him, unbuckled Ava, grabbed your diaper wipes and hustled your cookies back inside to clean him up, wouldn't you? Well not me! I told him that we'd roll down the windows and that he could finish when we got home. Yes, I made him sit in it. Figured what's done is done, after all. Thankfully, Nate didn't seem to mind so much.

4. You know, I really wanted to have a list of four things. Three seemed too little, five just beyond my reach. But I am racking my toasted brain, and can't think of anything that would fit in the spirit of this post. Perhaps you would like to submit a #4 of your own? Don't be intimidated--as you can see, my standards are pretty low. Anything you have to add will certainly elevate the level of content. So, please be my guest.

Next time, I'll talk a little about Easter and the Resurrection,and the power of hope and stuff. And not about poop. Well, maybe a little about poop. You just never know.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hot Cross Buns: Another Reason to Live in Oz

So I was at my local shops today and was reminded that I wanted to give a few words in praise of these.

If you're one of my American readers (Doesn't saying this give the impression that I have a vast, international audience? May we pretend it is so?), you may have never had a hot cross bun. May I take this opportunity to extend my most heartfelt sympathies? Okay, go back to your Twinkies now. Others of you who live in Commonwealth countries are well familiar with these. However, they're relatively new to me and a real treat at Easter time!

Our first Easter here, I noticed hot cross buns for sale everywhere in the shops. I vaguely remembered some antiquated British nursery rhyme about them, but there my knowledge ended. Hot cross buns are yummy, soft sweetened buns, usually with currants in them. Traditionally, I think they were eaten on Good Friday, and like most medieval traditions, meant to ward off evil spirits or somethin'. Whatevs--all I know is that they are gooood.

Maybe some of you can educate me as to how they're meant to be eaten. I like to heat them up and add a little butter. After all, I am Southern, which is another way of saying, "If you can't deep fry it, slather it with butter." Sometimes I add honey, too. Gasp, say the purists! However, I am a firm believer that most things are made better with a generous portion of butter or honey.

So, there you have it--Hot Cross Buns at Easter. De-lish. One more reason life in Australia is pretty darn good.

Now, if I were like one of them fancy mommy bloggers, I'd include my own special recipe, perhaps with a photo of me lovingly instructing Ava and Nate as we make our own special batch. I can almost see the dusting of flour across their cheeks. Lovely.

Ha! I think you know me better than that by now. What's more likely in my 32 weeks preggo state, is that I will take my store bought hot cross buns and add a heaping scoop of cookies 'n cream ice cream on top. I am Southern, after all, which is another way of saying, "If there is a conceivable way of adding sugar or fat to this snack, I will find it."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Something to Ponder

Updated to add: "So, take...these broken links!" Fixed 'em--sorry!

And now on a more serious note, (I KNOW--me?)I been thinking about stuff. At the women's conference I just came back from, a major emphasis was on social justice and concrete ways to make a difference in the world.

Perhaps you are aware that there are some problems with the global economy? A few news programs have recently carried stories about it, I believe. So you might know about that. One aspect of it that has not been so widely publicized (at least, that I've noticed) has been the meltdown's effect on the developing world.

The CEO of Compassion International spoke and said that in effect, the buying power for the average worker in developing countries has been at least halved. When you make $45 a month (not a bad wage for that part of the world) and a 10 kilo bag of rice (about a 2 weeks' supply of food) goes from $15 to $35, you got problems.

He said that mothers in Haiti are feeding their children mud cakes. Mud cakes. And that in Bangladesh, many are subsisting on what is called "rat rice". This is rice that has been snatched by rodents and ferreted away into their nests. People go looking for the nests or rat holes, to get the rice back so they can eat it themselves. He says HIV rates are rising and will continue to, because as currency is devalued, people will trade sex for food.

Compassion, is basically a child sponsorship program that is run through local churches in developing countries. Besides education, food and medical care, sponsorship also provides job training and counseling for the parents of the child. We've been sponsoring a couple children for a few years now, but I am really thinking of how we can do more. I think most people's tendency in times like this--ours included, is to cut back on their spending and their giving, but I've been wondering how that will ultimately effect the poorest of the poor.

It's a big world, and there are hurting people in rich countries, too. But on my worst days, I don't have to steal food from rodents to feed my kids. If you look up "sobering thought" in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure this would be an example given. Why am I writing about this? Well, it's just been on mind, it's been challenging me to reach out and do more, and I thought I might pass it on. Not a guilt trip, but an awareness one.

But this I know--God is good. God is love. He cares about the least, the last and the lost. He pays attention to how we treat them. And I don't wanna be ignorant of what's going on in their world. For info on child sponsorship,go here. Or here.

And now, a cute picture of Ava and Nate to cheer you. Mwah!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

She's Just Not That Into Me

Hey, y'all. I've just returned from spending 3 days in downtown Sydney for a women's conference. My dear, fantastic, capable Jason took care of the kids so that I could go and stay with some girlfriends in a REAL HOTEL. Without worrying about portable cribs and naptimes and where to find chicken nuggets. I adore my little munchkins, but I am not one of those moms who can't bear to be away from their children for 24 hours or more. I can bear it! I promise! Here--let me show you!! It. was. awesome. And the conference was great too! I have lots to say about that, but I'll reserve it for a time when my brain isn't quite so overloaded. Deal? 'K.

I was inspired, though, by my sister Becky's recent post on the etiquette surrounding Thank You Notes. Go read it and then come back. She basically discusses the phenomenon of writing a thank you note to someone who's written you a thank you note, thereby prompting them to respond in kind. Like, "Thanks for thanking me." She calls it a "Gratitude Death Spiral". (She is hilarious.)

But it got me thinking about etiquette and well, social expectations in these crazy times we live in. Specifically as it pertains to email. Yes, I'm about to explain. So at this conference, I ran into a woman that I met almost two years ago in a local park. She was at the park with her kids, I was there with mine, we struck up a conversation. At the time, we really connected. When she asked the dreaded question and I told her I was a pastor, I found out that she is in ministry, too. So we had a lot in common, and it was a pleasant surprise to have this random encounter turn into something significant. (Or so I thought. Sniff.)

At that park day long, long ago, she gave me her email address and mobile number and really went out of her way to invite me to get in touch with her. I mean, really. Well, alrighty, I thought. I just made me a new friend.

So later that week I emailed her, and she did email back within a few days. I basically did the "hi, it was nice to meet you, it would be fun to meet up sometime" kind of email. I mean, I don't wanna look desperate, so I thought I'd ease into it. You feel me? But after that one response from her,and ever since, nothing. I have emailed her several times and seen her at various ministry conferences 2-3 times and she still never answers my emails.

When I see her, as I did a few days ago, she immediately recognizes me and comes to chat--like we are buddies. And I kind of don't know what to say. Like, does she know I've been emailing her and she hasn't been answering? Cause if she does, that introduces a certain level of awkwardness to the conversation, even if we don't talk about it. Or, has she forgotten, in which case me bringing it up would be slightly sad and lame. Isn't this starting to feel like seventh grade? Who am I gonna eat lunch with?

So I didn't bring it up. My feelings aren't hurt or anything--I hope that by now I am secure enough to not take things like this personally. I know there are probably a myriad of things that pushed my emails to the bottom of her inbox where they were forgotten or overlooked. Whatevs, right?

But here's where my etiquette question comes in. At what point do you give up and stop emailing occasionally? I am all about giving people the benefit of the doubt,and sending a follow-up-in-case-you-meant-to-reply-email, but I don't wanna be a stalker or anything. And is it appropriate to mention that you've been emailing when you see the person? Cause I didn't.

I think that in the past,like in the last century, letters or messages were pretty much always answered. If they weren't, then it was a deliberate message to the sender that their correspondence was undesirable. This was a clear, unambiguous response that both sides understood. It isn't that way anymore, which introduces a whole new level of nuance and confusion.

So what's your rule of thumb? How much do you follow-up before you give up? Just wonderin'. Oh, and do you wanna hang out sometime? I'm really nice and fun to be around, I promise.