Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to the Grindstone

Today I threw my diet plan to the wind. I upped my intake for a couple of weeks, and I'm going to back to the lower numbers tomorrow. The lower numbers are lower than ever since you have to eat less and less to lose weight as your current weight goes down. For one day I decided that it would be okay to eat what I actually wanted to eat, and maybe even feel full. I know, I know... big no-no.

"Unhealthy food should never be used as a treat." You've probably heard this, but I think it's a bunch of bunk. First of all, I ate healthy food for the most part. I also had some cookies. Really, really good cookies, thanks to Megan. (Seriously, these cookies took it to a whole new level.) For the main course, I had taco soup. I added some cheese since it makes it taste much better, and I ate more than I would had I been counting calories. We also had corn bread. I don't normally "waste" calories on pure carbs. They aren't filling enough to be worth it. Today I enjoyed my corn bread. It wasn't exceptionally good corn bread, but it sure tasted good to my bread-deprived mouth.

Secondly, why not? Who gets to decide what a valid treat is? Why would God make food taste good if we weren't supposed to enjoy it? No, most healthy, low-cal food just isn't as good as the fattening, high-calorie kind. I don't know why, but I do think we should get to enjoy food occasionally. Why shouldn't we celebrate with food? I think the problem is more about using the "occasional celebration" excuse to overeat on a regular basis. I'd like to see Jenny Craig's plate on Christmas day. If being an emotional eater is defined as "finding pleasure in the taste of food", then I think it's pretty healthy to be an emotional eater.

Finally, I kind of needed the day off because I was getting obsessive about calorie counting. It's really odd to me, but I couldn't not count yesterday. I tried not to, but I still pulled out my trusty dry-erase board and counted every one.

As I said earlier, tomorrow I return to the oh-so-sad low calorie plan. In some weird way, I look forward to getting back on the wagon. One day off was may more than enough. Food isn't as good when you know what it's going to cost you.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Such High Hopes

Edwin did me a big favor and took the girls out to give me time to clean, really clean, do the things you keep noticing and then try to forget clean. I made out a list of what I wanted to get done. I decided that I would be happy if I got half of the list completed by the time Edwin and the girls got home. Then I prayed over the list. Doesn't that sound like something right out of the Christian Living section of Life Way?

I didn't eat; I didn't watch t.v.; I didn't even take the time to turn on the radio. I just cleaned. I checked the clock to see that I had thirty minutes before the earliest time that Edwin said he'd be home. That might just give me enough times to mop and put the rooms that I had cleaned back together. I hadn't gotten to the point of contentment that I had designated on the list, but it would have to do. Ten minutes into the mopping and putting back together phase, Edwin opens the door. Apparently the girls had gotten cranky. DeLaynie was asleep, but Ella was threatening to wake her with her famous grunting, which generally marks the beginning of melt down mode. Edwin held them off a few more minutes, but all was still not done.

My hopes were shattered, crushed, trampled and left to die. My house was only cleaner in the ways that most people, my husband especially, don't notice. (He did give me lots of comfort and compliments.) Feeling that I had failed, I lamented the day with the mantra, "I just can't do it!"

Tonight, in an effort to redeem myself, I decided to make some homemade baby food. I read about it on "A Year of Crockpotting", and thought I might feel better about my abilities as a homemaker if I could do this one thing, a thing that I deemed a task that only a Supermom would do. I was afraid that it might turn into another Play-doughgate, but it was going pretty well. Then B. Wa (that's my internet name for Brooke Waldrep) walked in, and didn't say a word about my incredible feat. Apparently she had done this innumerable times, and it was not such an amazing, or redeeming, task to undertake. I knew "people" did it, but I had no idea that people did it. So much for that!

Today was not a bad day. Everyone's fine. Things got done, even if it wasn't as much as I'd hoped. I was reminded of how human I am, but there are lots of things that are worse than that. It was a gift, a reminder from my King that I really don't have to be good enough. I'm going to fail. I'm going to make goals and fall short. That's okay. It really is. He's still there. He's still in charge. I belong to Him, and being His possession is immensely better than having it all together.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why I Stay at Home

I am not going to guilt-trip working moms in this blog. I respect every woman's "right to choose" in this area. It's a difficult decision, and we all do what we believe is best for our children.

I am not a woman that you meet and think, "Man, her kids are sooo lucky to have her at home with them." I'm not a fabulous cook, though my family rarely complains. I'm not crafty. The house is almost never clean. I am not a person that loves being a housewife. I don't plan to home-school, but not because I don't think it's a good idea. It's a wonderful plan, but I simply can't do it. I want to get out of the house and make some moo-lah in the future. I'm the kind of person who could use a physical reminder of the value of what I do.

Now, that's clear enough. With that part behind us, I want to tell you why it is that I choose to stay home. My mom made these lessons clear to me, though not by word, as I was growing up, and they have become a part of who I am now.
  1. I don't trust other people to raise my children. I've worked in daycares, above average ones, and I just don't want under-trained, under-paid people raising my kids. I can barely handle two, and they're expected to care for six toddlers per person. No matter how great the childcare, there is no way that they can love my kids like I do!
  2. No one can predict when the important moments are going to happen, and I plan on being there for them. Yesterday DeLaynie picked up our old camera and went around the house saying, "Cheese!" She even knew how to take pictures and turn it on and off. She's started singing and playing her keyboard.(Look out, Barlow Girl!) Ella started staring at the trees overhead with wonder as we were walking the other day. She was so impressed by them that even I had to look up and see what was going on up there. She was right; it was really beautiful. She's also pushing up, and she looks like she plans to start crawling fairly soon. Who knows when that will happen? I've gotten to be there for those happy moments, as well as for the sad ones, because I was here. There just isn't enough money in the world to pay for that.
  3. My kids aren't going to remember what I get them for Christmas this year. They aren't going to be impressed by my choice in car or clothing. They have never gone hungry, cold, or without any need, so we're doing fine financially.
  4. Finally, I stay at home because I haven't been called to do anything else yet. God hasn't moved me. He will when He wants to, if He ever does.
I love being a full-time mommy. This is exactly where I want to be for right now. This is the only job I want for right now. Every mom is different, and every family is different, but for me, at this place in time, I'm where I should be.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A (semi)Major Announcement

If you know me pretty well, you know that until very recently I've been a decidedly sedentary person. I don't like the outdoors; I don't like physical exertion. I like the couch. I like cheese dip and nachos. Somehow that plan ended up in obesity. After I realized that I really was obese, not just "a little overweight" as I had thought, I made a few changes.

I walk or ride a recumbent bike five days a week. I only count it as a workout if I walk three miles or ride eight. My goal is to walk four miles (pushing the stroller) or ride ten miles. I've slashed the number of calories I eat. I'd hate to know how many calories I was eating before. The thought makes me sad.

After losing 40+ pounds, I've reached my initial goal weight. I'm about ten pounds from my ideal weight. You'd think that I'd be elated. I am happy, but I'm also a little bored with the established routine because I don't have much of a goal anymore.

To combat this I have made a decision. I am going to participate in a charity race in Louisville. It's a 5k, (3.1 miles for those of you who, like me, are metrically challenged). That means that I need to learn how to really run, not just walk. It's a challenge. Edwin would like to run with me, if it works out. Either way, I'm going to do it. I could use some sponsors. Five $5 sponsors would be ideal, but I'll be thrilled if I get two. Let me know if you would like to be a sponsor.

I am going to admit something now. I can gripe about the exercising and the diet. I do miss the food, but I'm getting used to what I eat these days. The thing is... I like the walking and the biking and the crunches and stretching. I'm a little shocked by it. I'm glad to get that into the open. Confession, like dancing with your husband in the kitchen, can lighten a heavy spirit.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What A Little Ambition Can Do

Yesterday I got it into my head that I should be "my child's best first teacher" as PBS puts it. We had a sensory day. It began as a way to make DeLaynie stop crying when Edwin left. We pulled out our giant container of rice. DeLaynie sits in it and plays with the rice like it's a sandbox. She really enjoys the experience. After that I decided that if I was going to need to sweep up rice, I might as well sweep up blue play sand. I brought in her sand and water table, but I didn't put any water in it. I can't really figure out how to work the stopper so it leaks some.

This is where things get more complicated. I realized that we had done various things to work on touch, taste, sound, and sight, but not smell. I decided to make scented play dough. I looked up a recipe online. I didn't have any cream of tartar. I'm not even sure what that would be used for, other than excessively complicated home art projects. I decided to ignore it and move on. I'm not sure that it would have made a difference. I made two batches. One I made as directed. To the other, I added some oatmeal. I thought that it might be a nice way to add variety to the texture.

Mom tip: Play dough can go from "just right" to "completely toasted" very quickly when on a hot stove. I recommend making your batches consecutively, not simultaneously. I had to let the stuff cool and peel off the burnt parts after leaving it on the stove about two minutes longer than I should have. Live and learn!

I divided each batch into three hand sized portions. To one of the oatmeal portions, I added vanilla and no coloring. It looked like a nice vanilla color as is. I made another oatmeal portion kiwi scented with an organic form of Crystal Light stuff that I bought two years ago. I tried it and it was awful! I'm glad I kept it for this use, though. I made the last oatmeal one berry with off-brand KoolAid. I used KoolAid to make the others lemon, strawberry, and raspberry scented.The strawberry was one of those "undercover" scented ones. In other words, the color doesn't match the scent. It's a very unattractive shade of green. Oh well. I added a little extra food coloring to some of them. My hands looked like Rainbow Bright died a bloody death in my arms after kneading the coloring into the dough.

After all that, DeLaynie was too sensoried out to even play with the stuff. It's sitting in the veggie drawer of the fridge, begging to be used. We'll try it again sometime soon. I may shape them into some sort of odd sculptures and place them around the house as air fresheners.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Coffee and Lorna Doones

I started drinking coffee in the morning purely as a delivery system for caffeine. Most caffeinated drinks have a lot of calories, so coffee seemed like a good choice. Now I wake up thinking about it. The idea of sitting down and slowly sipping a cup of coffee is delightful to me. Edwin doesn't drink coffee. I make it, using the coffee maker and everything, just for me. Plus, with twenty-five calories with Splenda flavored coffee sweetener and fat free creamer, it's completely guilt free. It's a simple pleasure, I know.

I recently discovered the 100 calorie packs of Lorna Doone cookies. As Rachel Ray would say, "Yum-O!" They taste buttery. I'm not sure how much actual butter is contained in aforementioned cookie, but they are incredibly good.

Edwin brought home half a pound of fudge the other day. He went into the fudge shop to get fudge for a friend who had surgery, and he walked out with an extra half of a pound! Yeah, I ate most of it. I blame his treachery for the fact that I didn't lose as much as I should have this week. He was trying to be sweet, and they were having a "buy a pound, get half a pound free" deal going on. What was the poor man to do? He froze like I do at the salon. It's not like I could have done a better job. They probably would have had to call the cops to drag me away after I bit out a chunk of every single block of the incredibly fattening, wonderfully decadent temptation that they call fudge.

My place is at home, with a cup of coffee and a pack of Lorna Doones. I highly recommend them, but I shall always remember with great affection that block of fudge. (Thanks, honey!)

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Few of my Favorite Things

Edwin and I don't put much value in stuff. To be completely accurate, Edwin is anti-stuff. He is most infamous for throwing away all but four forks, four knives, and four spoons of the communal flatware while his roommates were in class. He's the kind who can get away with such actions.

I like things. They're nice to have around. I get especially giddy when in Pier 1 or Pottery Barn, though I can never quite reconcile the cost with the object.

I do own a few things that have special value to me. The first that comes to mind is the camera that Edwin got me for my birthday. It required sacrifice on his part, and that's what makes it so wonderful. I love the camera. I enjoy taking pictures with it, though I show very little special talent in it so far. I'm still working at it, and have great ambition to one day win a Pulitzer with its use.

The next is a little less sentimental. I first saw a pair of Brighton sunglasses when I was sixteen. I love Brighton. I'm not sure why, exactly, but I do. This Christmas I decided to take some of my gift money and buy a pair. The first few weeks after their purchase were cloudy, of course, but since then they have not been far from my head. They work well at keeping the sun out of my eyes, but I'm pretty sure that I like them for purely impractical reasons.

The final of my favorite material possessions, currently, is a stroller. It's the Hummer of strollers, except that it is a much better value and a more responsible use of plastic and metal in our current economy. The seats can both face in, both face out, or both face front. It has a car seat adapter so that I just click little Ella in. Bill and Cindy, Edwin's dad and step-mom, generously gave it to us with Ella. I registered for it, mostly just so I could remember which one I wanted. A couple of weeks after receiving it, someone made a comment about her double stroller, and how she'd only used it once since her second child was born. I got a little worried that I wouldn't use it enough to get the value out of it, but that has not been an issue. I use that darn thing four times a week, at least. It's one of those things that I find an excuse to use simply because it is so much fun, and I want to see how many different ways you can arrange the seats. I due much of my weight loss to its use.

Stuff is good as long as you control it, and it doesn't control you. The problem is recognizing when your stuff controls you. I seriously doubt that Edwin will allow me to be too overcome by any physical possession, no matter how tempted I am to allow it. If he fears that there is something leading me down the path of materialism, he'll probably just throw it away while I'm at the grocery store.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Special Dinner

My book had a lovely sounding suggestion to make dinnertime more special by playing music, posting the menu, and using fine china. I worked to get everything ready for this special dinner. Edwin has had a difficult week, so I was already planning to make his pork chops his favorite way (fried) and baking mine separately. That's no big deal. I used foil to separate the two so I didn't even have to clean extra pans.

Everything was ready. Josh Groban was singing in the background, and doing a wonderful job. May I say that the suggestion is a good one. It would have been a lot of fun, except for the girls having a particularly off night. DeLaynie developed a fever while the meal was in progress. She laid on Edwin for about half of dinner, eventually falling asleep. She feels okay now.

Ella recently grasped the idea that a fork is used to carry food, all of which is better than anything that she gets, from the plate to one's mouth. Each time I picked it up and lifted it to my mouth, she watched, eagerly hoping that Mommy would graciously choose to share. When I didn't, she cried. Every. Single. Time.

We got to talk a little after I put Ella down in her bouncy seat and DeLaynie fell asleep in Edwin's lap. It may not have been the family-centered meal time that I was hoping for, but it was nice. The plates and crystal looked really pretty, especially after I was able to get the bar code stickers off. That's right; after being married for four and a half years, we finally got around to using those plates. I guess we accomplished something after all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mom Guilt

Whenever I read non-narrative material, I tend to assume that the writer has some sort of authority. If it's a recipe, I take it for granted that the writer is a decent cook. If it's a Bible study, I assume that the writer and Jesus are pretty close. Today I'm writing about mom guilt, and the only authority that I have is that I'm guilty of it.

Mom guilt describes the negative feelings that mommies have without logical reason. Almost all moms have it in droves. Those that don't fall into two categories. Either they are not very good moms who should feel somewhat guilty but don't, or they are way more spiritual (and/or stoic) than I am.

Stay at home moms often have guilt because they don't pull in a paycheck, or their day isn't as structured as they like, or their house isn't clean enough for their standards. Working moms can feel guilty for not having enough hours with their children, or for the kids getting sick at daycare, or because their child is sad to see them go in the morning. Moms always seem to find a way to feel guilty.

Like I said earlier, I'm no exception. I feel especially guilty about DeLaynie's language problems. I know that I can't change how she hears and feels things. (Mom guilt is not logical.) I still can't shake the feeling that I should have noticed it as a problem before I did. I also feel hugely guilty about my home and its cleanliness. I never seem to be able to get it clean, never the less keep it that way. I've seen other moms do it. (They probably feel guilty for spending too much time cleaning, knowing mom guilt.)

I'm pretty sure that there is no actual cure for mom guilt in this life, just a treatment. That treatment is the knowledge of grace. When I remember that I really can't do a great job as a parent, but that God can fix it, I find that the mom guilt becomes more manageable. The more I think about the fact that God holds my babies in His truly capable hands, the less I think about my inadequacies. If I could just remember to turn to Him on a daily basis, and ask Him to keep me from dwelling on my own shortcomings and dwell in Him instead, I might just find victory over the mom guilt. The less power guilt has over me, the more power He has. The more power He has, the better of a mom I will be. I'm writing all of this so that I'll be accountable for doing what I know I should. Feel free to ask me how I'm doing in that area. If there's anything I should feel guilty for, it's relying on myself instead of Him. ;)

Monday, August 18, 2008

God's Provision in Relationships

We live in a small town. Small and rural. The closest WalMart is over thirty minutes away. A donkey lives down the street and feels the need to wake us up every morning. Our first few months here, my best friend while Edwin was at work was a puppy. After we were forced to put him down due to a car accident, I was pretty lonely, not to mention sad. It was only a few weeks later that God sent some special people into my world.

Edwin went to school with a girl named Brooke Sitton. She went to Auburn and married a man named Brian Waldrep. Her husband is a forester, a job that brought him to Fort Knox. They bought a house in Hodgenville, just a few minutes from our house. They ended up coming to our church at the recommendation of a mutual friend who was living in Florida at the time. They've been faithful members ever since. Brooke and Brian have two gorgeous kiddos. Their oldest is nine months older than DeLaynie and their youngest is thirteen months older than Ella.

Brooke has been a true blessing to me and their whole family is very special to us. Granted, she almost got me killed the other day. Well, I choose to blame her. We combined our yard sales, and she was selling her husband's weight bench and free weights, and she got a little bored. "I bet your arms are stronger than mine." Yeah, right. She went on, "I bet you'll kick my tail with the arm weights. I mean, my legs are strong, but your arms are way stronger!" Yeah, I almost died when I got a little too ambitious and decided to jump about thirty pounds up to attempt to match her. I think I might could out-run her if things go south, though.

Recently, our church has gained a new family. They drive all the way from Louisville to help lead us in worship. Our church hired Travis a few weeks ago, and his wife and daughter graciously join him for the trek every week. I've been impressed from the get-go with Travis and Megan's servant spirits. They're about as easy to talk to as any couple I've ever met, and that's saying something coming from me as I may be the least socially adequate individual in the state of Kentucky. I really look forward to getting to know them better. I know that Edwin has already been encouraged to have a partner in ministry.

People can be treasures in this life. If you're hearing the song "Friends" by good ol' Smitty running through your head, I apologize. I guess I just needed to add some cheese to this stew of a blog.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What I'm Reading

I'm currently reading two completely different books. When we were in Foley on the previously discussed vacation, we went to a Christian book outlet where almost everything was five bucks, so I bought three books. Both current reads are very good and helpful. The first is Who Got Peanut Butter on My Daily Planner? by Cindy Sigler Dagnan. I was more influenced by the subtitle, "Organizing and Loving Your Days as a Mom". I was feeling more inadequate as a stay at home mom than normal, so the title spoke to me. It's a very practical book, but it has Bible study sprinkled throughout. It is sound, for the most part, and it can push on certain things, like watching too much television. We've made changes in our watching time as a result. It's a good choice between heavier Bible studies at church or in your personal time.

I'm also reading Lord, I Need Your Grace to Get Me Through Today by Kay Arthur. I wasn't totally sure about my first choice since I'd never heard anything about the author, and it seemed like it may not be very meaty as far as Scripture goes. Kay Arthur is always reliable. I haven't been disappointed. The days are short, though. When I have time for a "real quiet time", I do three days in Kay Arthur or part of a chapter of Peanut Butter and a day or two in Grace. Don't be impressed; this doesn't happen very often.

The contrast is a stark one at times. Kay Arthur uses historical stories to illustrate her point while Cindy S. Dagnan uses quotes from secular authors and cute stories of her own family. Kay Arthur isn't very big on cute. The two blend well, though. I read about the various things that I need to work on as a mommy one day and the grace of God that will help me get there the next. I recommend both, though I have to admit that the price probably makes them even better.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Date Night

Edwin and I are going out tonight. We have a date about as often as we can, usually about once a month or so. It does cost quite a bit, though it helps that our babysitters work for much, much less than most do (and we really appreciate that). Still, we try to make it happen, even if the funds are not there. I have some friends that do not really understand the value we place on date night. I'm honestly just not sure how they manage without that time with their husbands. Edwin and I need time to sit and talk. During the week, the best conversations that we are capable of having center on such exciting subjects as "When was the last time you changed Ella's diaper?" and "How much laundry do we have left?" Actual conversations, the kind when you remember why you fell in love and who it is that you are married to, are few and far between. The fact that we do have to pay a lot of money to go out and have an evening together makes us use the time wisely. I'm grateful that God has placed this desire in both of our hearts, and has always provided the resources to fulfill that desire. I think that this time together is an investment that will pay off in the long run, for us as a couple, and for our girls.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pediatricians and Michael Phelps

Edwin's taking DeLaynie to the doctor right now. I know that doctors' visits are generally mommy jobs, but he can't feed Ella, and I'm not chancing it in a doctor's waiting room with her. De's been grumpy for a little while, and I'm desperately hoping that it's an ear infection because she's been pulling on her ears. An ear infection is, after all, infinitely better than a generally unpleasant child. We rarely give in and take her to the doctor. I'm always afraid of going in to the doc with a minor cold, and coming out with chicken pox. She doesn't get sick nearly as often as her other little friends, so I figure that my theory is working, or she just has a naturally high immunity and I'm taking the credit.

I discussed how Edwin and I are getting into the Olympics this year. Allow me to take a moment to make it publicly known that I am now a fan of Michael Phelps (who isn't?). Usually I choose to buck the system and pick out a total loser for which to cheer. But come on! He broke a world record without being able to see! I think he may just be an athlete who just can't receive as much praise as he actually deserves.

Edwin keeps saying, "I just hope he's not doping." He's been deeply affected by the fall of his baseball hero, Roger Clemens. Drugs do have a way of sucking the magic right out athleticism. I would be broken hearted if Michael Phelps were taking performance enhancing drugs, as most Americans would be. If he's clean, he is easily the most impressive swimmer I've ever seen, and just maybe the most amazing athlete of my short lifetime.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mommy's Little Helper

I've seen children who want to help their mommies. They pick up the crackers on the floor, get a diaper for their little brothers or sisters, or they "help" clean the windows. DeLaynie has never been one of those children. I'm pretty sure it's a combination of developmental delay and personality. I've tried to console myself by saying things like, "Toddlers just make more work when they try to help," but I never believed that.

Little De has come a long way. Today she wiped off Ella's mouth. It's become a normal part of her routine to wipe the spit-up off the floor, an inevitable part of each feeding. She's pretty good at it too.

I'm very proud of my helper. I think she's proud of herself too, since she'll tell herself "good job" after completing a task. She's never lacked confidence. And that makes me very happy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Plato and the Olympics

For whatever reason, athletic events bring out the philosopher in my husband, Edwin. The Olympics turn him into Plato, sort of. Last night we were talking about why he loves them so much. He had a few good reasons. The best of which is that he enjoys seeing just how small the United States really is. In a three hour procession of countries, the U.S.A only takes a couple of minutes. Some countries are represented by a handful of people, and others have hundreds of athletes. But they all count. Every athlete marches through a long procession, knowing that the world looks on, cheering or booing, they're paying attention.

Another reason Edwin takes such joy in the Olympics is that a Gold Medal represents true victory. No one in the world is better, or they weren't on that day. This adds a significance and intensity to such activities as swimming and beach volleyball that nothing else can. The world watches as a sixteen year-old girl dances and jumps and twirls on a mat. We all look on as a fifteen year-old boy represents the country in a pool, swimming faster than an electric car can drive.

Then my Plato brings up one of the other reason he loves the Olympics. He likes the time difference. Everything in the United States seems to be planned for the television, and he loves that a hugely important event can take place at nine a.m. or 2 p.m. Maybe it's not the deepest of insights, but he has a point. I'm not totally sure why athletic competition transforms my husband as it does. I'm glad it only occurs every four years, and I'm glad that it occurs.

Go U.S.A!!!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Yard Sales and Babies

Oops! I missed a day. I was working on getting everything ready for the yard sale we are having this weekend. We had our first day today. It wasn't too great. We've had more stuff than normal, but we didn't make that much yet. Friday is usually the better day, but maybe everyone being in school will mean that tomorrow will be more profitable. I have hope. Yard sales are my only way to pay for Edwin's gifts without using money from his job. I know, I know. The things I'm selling were mostly all bought with money he earned, but by this point, the two aren't nearly as connected as our checking account is to his paycheck. I also get that I'm earning money by staying at home, sort of. I still like buying him gifts (or at least putting money toward his gifts) with money that I earned by organizing a yard sale. This may turn into a debate later. Leave me comments if I have offended you greatly.

On a more mommy-like note, Ella makes me giggle. She likes it when I sing to her. DeLaynie didn't really care for it. Ella gets a big, cheesy grin on her face when I start to sing. Maybe she finds me funny, but I still like it. Right now she's fighting off a nap, although she's exhausted. Kids today! I find it strange that children who need naps don't want to take them, and adults who have no time for naps desperately crave them.

DeLaynie made a developmental stride today. She has had issues with showing enough possession over things. Today she threw a royal hissy fit because Sawyer wouldn't let her have both Buzz and Woody. I'm so proud. Yes, I know that bad behavior isn't good, and I did discipline her by taking Buzz away (Sawyer still had Woody, leaving her empty handed for a couple of minutes), but she needed to develop the attention span to want one toy (or in this case, two toys) for a longer span of time. It's a good thing for her to have her mind so completely set on something at her age. In other words, she should be selfish like the other kids. May I say, today she did an excellent job in that area!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

About My Family in Alabama

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was able to see my parents this weekend for one night. It just so happened that we were passing through on a Sunday evening, so I was able to go to my home church. My mom and brother (Micah, 19) teach discipleship training classes, and my mom (who lines things up for discipleship training) asked Edwin to speak to a men's class.

I went to my mom's class. It was the first time that I was in a class taught by my mom since I was in the children's program. It was a true joy. I rarely get to see my mom in situations where she isn't "just" my mom. I loved getting to see her do something else that she is called to do. And she did a great job at it. The lesson was on walking by faith, and not by sight. She mentioned how there had been a time in our family's history when money was tight, or completely absent. It was then, she said, that we had to walk by faith, and God used supernatural means to provide for us. I vaguely remember those times. I didn't particularly enjoy having so little, but I think more about how my parents did provide for us, even when it meant that they went without. I remember their faithfulness to give to the church. I remember how my mom did an amazing job managing our somewhat meager finances. I hope to learn more from her in that area.

I was also home about a month ago, and I snuck down to listen in on Micah teaching the kids' class. It was only the second time I got to hear him teach. He did an excellent job with the kiddos. He explained why David's mighty men were called mighty, and not just men. (Because of their faith, he said.) It was his first night teaching, but he was comfortable and clear. I was impressed.

Since my dad is a pastor, I also got to hear him preach, both this trip and the last one. I always love getting to see and hear my dad preach. It is his element. I don't know if he is ever as much himself as he is behind the pulpit. I don't mean that he turns into someone else at home, he's the same person, just more so. I remember going to college and beginning looking for a new church in Mobile. It was the first (and most likely, last) opportunity I had to actually choose a church. It was hard. I didn't realize how good of a preacher my dad was because I had never really heard anyone else.

I had no idea how many pastors preach sugar. There was one guy who had us hold up our Bibles, proclaim its power and authority, and then we closed them for the rest of the service. We went off of two verses that were projected onto the wall, and the sermon had very little to do with those two verses. He seemed like a nice guy though.

To this day, the only preacher that I like as much as Daddy is my husband. I'm sure I'm partial. Both are great men at home as well as at church, and they both love me with excellence. It's only right that I like them as much as I do.

The biggest recent news in our family is a new addition, Nicholas. Don't worry; he's fifteen. I'm very proud of my parents for opening themselves up. It isn't going to be an easy transition for anyone, but I think they're working it out very well. And allow me to say that I'm very happy to have a new little brother. Welcome to the family, Nicholas; it's a good one!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Home Again, Home Again!

Well, the day numbering was thrown off a bit, so I'm just going to let that one go.

I re-read the posts from the past week. I probably should've done that before posting. They came off pretty unhappy. I didn't think anyone was really going to read them, so it wrote them as if I were writing in my diary. Allow me to apologize. I should remember to check my mood before posting. Things really weren't so bad. In fact, I'm glad for the trip. I was able to read some, DeLaynie swam, and we all had some time to be together that we would not have gotten otherwise. After a couple of days, I threw the diet out the window, and I still didn't gain any weight. Now that's grace.

If we hadn't gone on this trip, I would have missed a great blessing. This blessing is pictured above. I've always been impressed by the effort and money some people put into having a distinctive mailbox. This one is my favorite so far. I just wish I could have heard the conversation that took place when the homeowners realized that they could have a giant manatee hold their mailbox. The manatee is, after all, the most noble of all the water dwelling mammals. He sure does seem happy to be of service, in spite of the giant crack in his head. What a trooper! I ran across him while walking through a neighborhood adjacent to the camp. He seems to understand what Paul meant when he said that he learned to be happy in all things.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Days 9-10: Still Camp Baldwin

I previously mentioned that I was considering making some improvements to our television schedule. I've been thinking that idea over, and I have decided that it would be a good one to implement. Ella's four months old, rolling like a bowling ball, and able to chill out all by herself. DeLaynie is fairly independent. We should be able to make this one work. I say "should" because I know that these types of things are usually not as likely to succeed as we would like. I'll give 'er a try.

We're getting ready to leave Camp Baldwin. Allow me to say that the facility is a lovely one. Our room was ridiculously clean, much cleaner than our home. The staff was helpful; the campus had plenty of activities. The camp itself was wonderful, but the experience was as difficult as anticipated. I know that other people have done similar things with children at similar ages, but they must be better at it than I. That being said, we survived, we learned some things, and the experience is now coming to a close. We're going to my parents' place for one night on the way home. I look forward to seeing them and allowing them to spoil our children for a few hours.

Days 6-8: Camp Baldwin

Ella woke up at 5:00 a.m. this morning. Since we're all in one room, so did everyone else. This whole one room thing makes me seriously question the sanity of the parents who share a bed with a few children all the time. I'm sure they are better at it than we are.

Going without television hasn't been too bad. DeLaynie watches videos on the laptop when necessary. If Ella would get happy for a few consecutive minutes, I might can actually read. Maybe she's tired. I'd like to give her her first lesson in consequences and not let her sleep until bed time, but that's more of a punishment for me than her.

Last night I was able to get some reading in. One of the things I read discussed the choices we make in television. I've been seriously considering cutting down on t.v. in our home. I'll let you know how far that resolution makes it. Well, Edwin's currently exiled to the room with both girls. It's a difficult place to be; I know because I've been there for about half this trip. It's good though. It makes me really appreciate simple things, like doors.