Saturday, December 25, 2010


I was recently inspired by someone I've known for a long time. I knew her in high school and when she thinks of me, she probably thinks of me by my maiden name and never by my married name. I'd call her a no-nonsense kind of gal, the kind of person where you never have to worry where you stand. Probably both honest and loyal to a fault. Like me.

Traits I can appreciate.

I admire her ability to set a goal and then freakin' do it. Her ability to make a list, take charge of things and then get it done? I want that. I think she'd make a great accountability partner. Now I don't want to be a control freak, just someone who can control herself.

Reading her latest post inspired me even more. Check it out: It's Okay To Put Yourself First

I am inspired and encouraged.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Daddy's The Rock Star; I Just Work Here

For reasons that can't be explained, or at least I'm too simple to understand them, Brian is the rock star around here. Every.single.kid. in this house prefers him over me. For everything.

I mean, of course, I'll do, in the event he's not here. They do seem to prefer me, well, to strangers. Sometimes. And I guess occasionally, it works out to my benefit. The kids wake him up in the middle of the night and slither their cold body parts onto his side of the bed. But I'm the one who takes them to the multitude of doctor's appointments. I'm the one who takes children to the ER at all hours. I'm the one who stays with them in the hospital, trying not to cry, too, as nurses restart IVs that have infiltrated and little babies are taken back to surgery and a girl sits patiently through yet another breathing treatment. I make sure their clothes and shoes fit. I successfully suction the noses of fighting, thrashing kids to help them breathe better. I can administer medications to those who'd rather pass.

I take them to dance and make sure there is money for classes and costumes. I sign folders and send cheese cubes to school and arrange play dates.

But that stuff is only important to mamas, I guess. Not kids. Kids like piggy back rides and being tickled mercilessly and being thrown up in the air. They don't like actually having to use soap when they wash their hands, or do a decent job of brushing their teeth. They definitely don't like going to bed or taking a nap or that I don't let them watch TV from can to cain't. They cry when Brian has to go to work and beg him to come pick them up, instead of me.

I know I shouldn't care. But I do. I know I should tell myself that they're "just kids" and don't know any better, but it's hard. For once, I'd like to be the hero. The rock star.

On Monday, I had 4 children home sick. Tuesday, I had 2 sick children. Today, it's 3. It's definitely the price you pay when you have several kids. I get that. I'm not asking for or expecting sympathy because my kids are sick this week. And last week. And last month. I just want my own kids to think I'm a hero. I'd just like a crumb or two, if possible. Something to keep from feeling so discouraged. To stop feeling like I am obviously in the wrong line of work.

I'd love to wallow a little longer, but the washer just stopped and the kitchen beckons. Life goes on when you just work here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Going To The Chapel

Tomorrow, December 1, 2010, will be my 8th wedding anniversary. Much to my surprise, I have actually stuck with something for 8 years. Brian and I got married on St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands, a US territory. Which is a good thing. Marrying in a US territory makes our marriage legal and our many children legitimate. Not that it matters. We've been calling ourselves married for so long, in the eyes of Texas, we're married, with all the perks.

We eloped. No family, no friends, no fuss. Well, no people fuss. Except for the people who didn't appreciate the way we were doing things. Or the way we went about it. Oops.

Just a side note: Mothers, when your daughter finally finds someone who wants to spend the rest of their life with her, and they start to plan a wedding, butt out. It is not your wedding. She should not have to elope to get you off her case. The End.

We booked a fabulous cruise leaving Saturday after Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving, we were one-armed paper hangers. Picking up a dress, picking up a tux, picking up rings, dinner with friends. All on opposite sides of town: Houston-town. When night fell, we collapsed into bed. Our flight left at 705am, the next morning. It takes a long time to fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Especially when you have a layover in Miami. And a traveling day feels very long when your wedding finery is a carry-on. Poor Brian carried that wedding dress all over 3 airports and stood in line at the cruise terminal with it. It was heavy. I was in charge of the tux. Much less heavy.

Boarding the cruise ship and getting our luggage to our room, we finally had a minute to breathe. (And rest our arms!) We attended a reception for people on the cruise who were either getting married or honeymooning. There was one couple there who had just married and had 700 guests at their wedding. I wonder if those folks are still married today. We had dinner at a one of the pay restaurants and I ate the best steak I had ever had and also got a bottle of complementary champagne. I set up an appointment to have my hair done with the veil. If I had had a traditional wedding, I would have had a couple of hair appointments: trial run with the veil, have bridal portraits taken and then the actual wedding. In this case, I just had to roll with it. I think it turned out okay.

On Sunday, December 1, 2002, I got up before Brian, took a shower and hurried on down the the hair salon. When I got back, he was ironing his shirt on the tiniest table ever. That's when I got nervous. What in the HELL was I doing? Married? Me? Today? Oh good grief. I ran outside to smoke a cigarette on our balcony and told Brian, "Do NOT talk to me!" If I hadn't gone through with the wedding, it certainly would have made the rest of the vacation a little awkward...

I want to move to the Caribbean because everything operates on Island Time. We waited in line to disembark the ship and to meet up with the wedding planner who was taking us to the courthouse to sign our marriage license. We were told to be there at 930am, but there was no guarantee the clerk was going to be there at 930am. Island time. While we were at the courthouse, it started pouring down rain and we got a little wet. Good for fertility, they said. As the first ceremony, we went straight over to the beach. The minister looked exactly like this guy:

This is Scott Glenn portraying Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs. The minister looked so much like this guy, I have no idea what I agreed to or for how long. It was so uncanny that we had just watched this movie a few days before! After the ceremony and during the pictures, Brian kept repeating lines from the movie and making me laugh out loud. Like, "PUT THE LOTION IN THE BASKET!"

It was so amazing being there, just us.

I was so thrilled to finally be Brian's wife. To dig my toes into the sand, feel the sun on my face, smell the sea air...a perfect day. Even with more rain. I kept staring at my engagement ring/wedding ring together. I remember thinking, "I'm the luckiest girl that this guys wants me." I really do still think that.

This is probably my favorite picture because I think it sums up what our relationship has been from start to now: him and me against everything else. A person I can count on when I don't/can't/won't count on anyone else. The other half to myself. My soul mate. A prince. And I should know. I kissed a lot of frogs before him.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ambition and Guilt

Lately, my blog has been full of my desire and plans to return to school and become a nursing home administrator. It'd be a fair assessment to say that working with and helping the elderly is a passion of mine. Becoming an administrator is something I've had in my mind for 15 years. As I've reported before, I feel compelled, to do this. To finally be moving forward, well, my excitement isn't easy to contain. The other day while explaining my plans, someone told me they sounded very ambitious.

And I knew it wasn't a compliment. Not for a woman, from a woman. At least it didn't feel like a compliment. It felt like a jab. But maybe it's because I feel guilty. Guilty because currently, I'm a stay-at-home mom of 4 children. And there are some people who would wonder why in the world I'm going back to school and making plans to go to work when I have all these Little People. They would argue that my calling is here, at home, to take care of them. Right now, I can't handle the little joke that I'm "abandoning" my children for my "ambition". There are those who might argue that ambition in a woman with children is misplaced. A bad thing. That her place is at home. Period. Paragraph. That God wouldn't have given her children if she were meant for any other thing.

But if it's a bad thing, why is it so fulfilling to me? Why do I feel so renewed when I'm working for the betterment of my residents? Why do I feel like I can mother better when I'm finished?

I did an informal internet survey by posting on my Facebook page this question: Is ambition in a woman considered a positive or negative trait? The two men who answered, answered unequivocally, that it was a positive trait. My husband was floored that I would even suggest that ambition was anything but a good thing. But there a couple of women who said it depended and a couple of women who said it was absolutely a good thing and even one person who pointed out that the aggressive woman is often labelled a bitch and the aggressive man is ambitious.

So is it a gender issue?

Does it even matter?

Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines ambition as 1 a: an ardent desire for rank, fame or power; b: desire to achieve a particular end.

Seems even the dictionary can't make up its mind. What do we really think of when we think of ambition? Is it the general desire to achieve a particular end or is the ardent desire for rank, fame or power? Does it even matter?

But I'm not going to feel guilty about it anymore, whatever anyone else thinks. I was lucky enough to hear a sermon this morning about being wired for passionate living. That it challenges, fulfills both me and others and sets me free from the burden of comparison. That through grace, I have been uniquely gifted, as an individual, and I am empowered by God. I know that through serving others in the way I am wired, I myself will be refreshed and renewed. That, if I am serving in the right way and in the right area, I will feel compelled and driven to serve. I won't have to be manipulated or shamed into doing it.

It was as if I had received a divine sign from God to press on and do what He called me to do when I was 20 years old. No more guilt, and if you say to me, "That's ambitious!" I'm going to agree. No matter how you mean it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Slight Change of Plans

Like most college students, I have changed my major. Actually, I have changed my major several times over the course of it all. I started out, all the way back in the Fall of '95,with a declared major of Political Science. Then it was English. With a French minor. Then it was Sociology. And more recently, Social Work. But I've got it. Business Management.

I've done a bit of research and checked out current job postings for the job I want. is currently listing 50 administrator positions open in the state of Texas. Fifty! Most facilities are for-profit pieces of a large corporate pie. They want someone who is business and budget-minded balanced with a dedication to quality resident care and positive employee relations. A hard job. Hiring entities want someone who can assure regulations compliance and has a proven track record for success. One listed asked for a "quantifiable" track record. They want proof. A Master's degree is preferred.

I have a plan.

January brings with it my return to school. I'm a little anxious. I'm registered for 13 hours. Most are re-takes from my previous attempt at college. Pretty sad, I know. But I'm 33, not 18. But I have a fire in my belly that I never had all those years ago. I feel compelled to do this. To get this degree and do the thing I feel called to do. So here we are.

I took 3 years of French in high school and still remember much of it. So I think Elementary French I will be, in fact, elementary. Je m'appelle Jacqueline. Je deteste le tennis. I was kicked out of French I my first foray into higher education and professor-placed into French III, Reading and Composition. I'm hoping for an easy A. Also scheduled is Fine Arts Appreciation, Texas State and Local Government and Principles of Financial Accounting.

The next step is to send the paperwork that is further required for my financial aid award, receive my aid and wait for the semester to start.
Rinse. Repeat.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

She Works Hard For The Money

My very first job ever was in a nursing home. I was 16 years old. My dad got it for me. I wanted to work at the pool. At first, working at the nursing home was very uncomfortable. I was a kid. Everyone else was grown. And smoking. Oh, the smoking breaks these people took. I made $5 an hour, which was way over minimum wage, and I got to work in the air conditioning. Not too shabby for a kid like me.

I didn't really like it at first. I was in the activities department. There were 3 full time people in the activities department, and then me. I didn't really have many specific things to do. I just helped out where I was needed. I passed out newspapers in the morning, passed out cigarettes at smoke time, passed out the mail. I talked to residents coming and going and helped feed those who needed help at lunchtime. Sometimes I helped by doing nails or passing out juice. Other times I gathered residents up so they could watch a program or hear a speaker. I also made copies, answered the phone and did "light clerical" work.

I began to find that I didn't really care for the people I worked with, my colleagues, but I really did enjoy working with the residents, even as one resident did offer to kill me with a vase. Even as a man who was enjoying a manicure from me jerked his hand at the last second and I cut his nail into the quick. Even as that same man threatened to tell my father that I was trying to kill him. Which he did. I always felt like I was doing something. I felt like I was making a difference.

In college, I saw a job listing for an Assistant Director of Activities at a local nursing home. I needed a job and felt qualified so off I went. And I got it. Twenty hours per week doing in-room visitation and facilitating small groups. In-rooms, as the name would suggest, meant I had a list of basically room-bound residents that I would visit twice weekly and offer sensory stimulation by reading, playing music, asking questions, doing nails, putting lotion on their hands. My small groups helped residents with their large motor skills and we would play games throwing balls and tossing bean bags and using a parachute. Sometime I would help out with other activities, too. I still wonder what's become of one of my favorite residents. I'm sure he's died by now.

Nursing home administrators are hyper-focused on one issue: the census. Folks in the beds means money in the coffers and when it's low, cuts will be made. Budgets get slashed and people can be fired or laid off. People like the Assistant Director of Activities. People like me. I was laid off and then offered a position in the kitchen as a dietary aide. You can bet I thought this was beneath me. Blech. It was summertime hot and I was preparing food! And cleaning up after it. Scraping plates. Washing dishes. I had to take a pay cut, but I had more hours. And I didn't have to worry about my next meal.

But I have always loved old people. Except for that time when I was about five that I told my great-grandmother that I hated old people (and she qualified). Oops.

I have volunteered to visit shut-ins at my old church. I am currently a certified(!) volunteer ombudsman at a nursing home in my city. I plan to start visiting shut-ins from the church we attend now. But I want to take it further so I'm going to back to school. For real. I'm so excited about it I could bust. I have an appointment on November 19 to start putting my plan in place.

UNT offers a dual major program in social work and applied gerontology. You receive 2 degrees. They also offer a Master of Science in Long Term Care Administration through their gerontology department. That's where I'm headed. But in the meantime, I'm going to be begin work on the double major this Spring. I am also really interested in state survey work and investigations, and since I'm in no way interested in becoming a nurse or an engineer, social work is the way to go.

It's funny, this is not the first time I've had this plan. I had a social worker/administrator route mapped out for myself years ago. Life got in the way, I guess. But not this time. I'm clearing the branches and the path. Onward and upward.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Lamentations of the Father, Repost

I found this a few years ago and thought it worth reposting again.

Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principles;

Lamentations of the Father

OF the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room. Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink.

But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching something, then may you eat in the living room.

Laws When at Table
And if you are seated in your high chair, or in a chair such as a greater person might use, keep your legs and feet below you as they were. Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon the table, for that is an abomination to me. Yes, even when you have an interesting bandage to show, your feet upon the table are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke. Drink your milk as it is given you, neither use on it any utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for that is not what they are for; if you will dip your blocks in the milk, and lick it off, you will be sent away. When you have drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the table, and do not bite it upon its edge and by your teeth hold it to your face in order to make noises in it sounding like a duck; for you will be sent away.

When you chew your food, keep your mouth closed until you have swallowed, and do not open it to show your brother or your sister what is within; I say to you, do not so, even if your brother or your sister has done the same to you. Eat your food only; do not eat that which is not food; neither seize the table between your jaws, nor use the raiment of the table to wipe your lips. I say again to you, do not touch it, but leave it as it is. And though your stick of carrot does indeed resemble a marker, draw not with it upon the table, even in pretend, for we do not do that, that is why. And though the pieces of broccoli are very like small trees, do not stand them upright to make a forest, because we do not do that, that is why. Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or the other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away. Heed me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into the syrup. And now behold, even as I have said, it has come to pass.

Laws Pertaining to Dessert
For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have dessert. But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall have dessert. But if you eat a lesser number of peas, and yet you eat the potatoes, still you shall not have dessert; and if you eat the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have dessert, no, not even a small portion thereof. And if you try to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around with a fork, that it may appear you have eaten what you have not, you will fall into iniquity. And I will know, and you shall have no dessert.

On Screaming
Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you are given a plate on which two foods you do not wish to touch each other are touching each other, your voice rises up even to the ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say to you, scream not, only remonstrate gently with the server, that the server may correct the fault. Likewise if you receive a portion of fish from which every piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal seasoning is loathsome to you, and steeped in vileness, again I say, refrain from screaming. Though the vileness overwhelm you, and cause you a faint unto death, make not that sound from within your throat, neither cover your face, nor press your fingers to your nose. For even now I have made the fish as it should be; behold, I eat of it myself, yet do not die.

Concerning Face and Hands
Cast your countenance upward to the light, and lift your eyes to the hills, that I may more easily wash you off. For the stains are upon you; even to the very back of your head, there is rice thereon. And in the breast pocket of your garment, and upon the tie of your shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a manner wonderful to see. Only hold yourself still; hold still, I say. Give each finger in its turn for my examination thereof, and also each thumb. Lo, how iniquitous they appear. What I do is as it must be; and you shall not go hence until I have done.

Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances
Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time. Neither drink of your own bath water, nor of bath water of any kind; nor rub your feet on bread, even if it be in the package; nor rub yourself against cars, nor against any building; nor eat sand.

Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? And hum not that humming in your nose as I read, nor stand between the light and the book. Indeed, you will drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the tape.

Complaints and Lamentations
O my children, you are disobedient. For when I tell you what you must do, you argue and dispute hotly even to the littlest detail; and when I do not accede, you cry out, and hit and kick. Yes, and even sometimes do you spit, and shout "stupid-head" and other blasphemies, and hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof when you are sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that no one shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has years of age, yet I would leave you there all day, so mighty am I in anger. But upon being sent to the corner you ask straightaway, "Can I come out?" and I reply, "No, you may not come out." And again you ask, and again I give the same reply. But when you ask again a third time, then you may come out.

Hear me, O my children, for the bills they kill me. I pay and pay again, even to the twelfth time in a year, and yet again they mount higher than before. For our health, that we may be covered, I give six hundred and twenty talents twelve times in a year; but even this covers not the fifteen hundred deductible for each member of the family within a calendar year. And yet for ordinary visits we still are not covered, nor for many medicines, nor for the teeth within our mouths. Guess not at what rage is in my mind, for surely you cannot know.

For I will come to you at the first of the month and at the fifteenth of the month with the bills and a great whining and moan. And when the month of taxes comes, I will decry the wrong and unfairness of it, and mourn with wine and ashtrays, and rend my receipts. And you shall remember that I am that I am: before, after, and until you are twenty-one. Hear me then, and avoid me in my wrath, O children of me.

Ian Frazier

Friday, October 29, 2010

Smells I Don't Like and My Medical Staff

I've been mulling this over for a while now. There are just some smells I cannot tolerate. One of them is the smell of fermenting garbage.

Back home, years ago [name that reference!], I was the backdoor receiver for a major grocery store chain. I loved that job. It had great hours for a single girl in her 20's. I was responsible for overseeing and checking in vendor deliveries at the backdoor during delivery hours and then managing the in-company deliveries making sure we weren't double charged, etc., for those. So you could say (and my boss also believed) that I was somewhat responsible for most of the inventory in the store. One thing I did not like about that job was the self-contained trash compactor located right outside my "office". Lots of times, the gaskets holding all the funk inside would start to deteriorate and the nasty would just drip right out onto the concrete penetrating all the vicinity air. *Blech* I mean, really. Gag.

Same thing with garbage trucks. Too much foulness just churning and leaking out and leaving a horrible gut-wrenching, trail of nauseating grossness. One time, when we were living in Stephenville, the garbage truck had to stop in front of our house in order to smash the load. And they left a big putrid mess right by the driveway. I ran into the house gagging, ordering Brian to do something about the smell and threatening to call the mayor and complain. It's just nasty.

Another thing: old food smells. Like cafeterias, lunch boxes, dining rooms of nursing homes(!), and break rooms that see lots of use. I can't explain it. I just don't like it. And this from a person who worked in a nursing home kitchen as a college student. I did not really care for that job, to be honest. It was gross on many different levels.

Moving on.

Next week brings us to Ear Tube Insertion #2 for Joshua. He just had the first set installed back in March. Already one tube is blocked and the other is on its way out. I wonder if we will get to go back and have this done every 6 months. I wonder about the cost of it all. Should I try to get a job at the hospital? Is there some employee discount, direct deposit thing I could work out? Which got me to thinking about our medical staff. We have a lot of doctors on our payroll. With the economy being what it is, I'd like to lay a few off.

Brian and I have a GP in Stephenville that we still go to, even though it's 45 minutes away. My OB/Gyn, which I only use for Gyn is also in Stephenville.

But it's the kids who employ the greatest number of physicians. We have the general pediatrician that we see at least 3-4x per month. When we're really sick, that may be 3-4x per week. Reagan and Joshua have a pulmonologist that works for us in Fort Worth. We only see him in the office every 6 months, but we see him regularly in the hospital during the fall and winter seasons. Reagan has a kind, but very busy opthamologist who just deals with little people and their eyes. Joshua has an ENT who inspects his ears and does us the favor of inserting tubes every 6 months. And then there's Darcy who has an allergist. A guy I can't even remember his name, but who spent a tremendous amount of time explaining how allergens affect the body and informing me of the futility of allergy testing my child.

It really seems like a lot, all these doctor's appointments and medical professionals. Oh, and the bills. They seem like a lot, too. I feel confident that as they get older they will outgrow some of this. I know they will outgrow a lot of this as they get older and their systems mature. Lily did. In the short term, I am grateful that Brian's insurance is good and that we can get our kids taken care of by good doctors. I'm also glad that none of them look like Patrick Dempsey or I would never hear a word they said...

Monday, October 25, 2010


It's been a while since I posted and not because I haven't had plenty to say. I have just been busy. Busy to my eyeballs. To the top of my head. Busy. A brief recap:

1. Bubba finally got into preschool. After being placed on the waiting list last April for his class and being denied entry in August because of his inability to walk, he is now walking well enough (holding a hand) that he can go to school. What this means: Mama gets 2 days to herself per week. Alone. With no children. Not even a teeny, tiny baby. One day, I was going to take a nap, but it got interrupted by a call about my nursing home.

2. Speaking of nursing home, I have completed my ombudsman internship and so the certification process is nearly complete. I started my training way back in May, and the end of September marked the completion of my 90 days of internship. Soon and very soon I will be receiving the official white badge instead of intern yellow. I love being an ombudsman. I volunteer, through the state, as an advocate for nursing home residents at a local nursing facility. I absolutely believe in informing the residents of their rights and insuring those rights are upheld by the facility. I believe it is vitally important for the ombudsman to know the law. I am always there on the side of the resident. I love being an ombudsman.

3. I ordered and received the boots. Yes, those boots. And they were straight from the pit of hell. I ordered the correct size, but apparently I have the foot of Drizella and not Cinderella. All the reviews said they ran large. But when I tried, I could not get those things on. They came on a Saturday and when I tried them on, they would.not.go.on. Period. And yes, I cried. I really, really did. And also pouted the rest of the day. A few days later, I decided I was going to try again to get those things on. After working mightily at it for about half an hour, they were on! In my mind, they just needed to be broken in. Unfortunately, I was the one who got broken in. After 3 hours of wearing, I had 2 massive blisters, that weren't just blisters, but open caverns where my heels used to be. Brian said to keep it up; the boots would fit before too long because they were going to make my feet smaller, one layer of skin at a time. Apparently, the best course of action is to send them back and use the money to finance my Thanksgiving trip to see Auntie Jo.

4. I actually completed the 2 lap quilts I had been working on for Christmas presents and hope to have them back in my possession in time for Christmas binding. My Christmas tree skirt is finished being quilted and is ready to be bound. My big queen-sized quilt that I started over 2 years ago, only has one more border to be put on before it will be ready to go to the quilter. And then I can start a new project with a clear conscience! Anyone need a quilt for a baby girl? Have a great kit ready to start but don't know who might want it? I get anxious when I do creative things for people other than my immediate family.
5. My scrapbooking business is taking off! August was my best month...ever. I had over $2600 in sales, #1 on my team. I even have a presence on Facebook. [Click on the Facebook link. I post my artwork and other happenin' things. Be a friend! Tell a friend!] November is going to be busy with 2 layout workshops, a gathering that I hope will turn into another monthly workshop and 2 Christmas card workshops....where I provide my lasagna as an incentive to attend (see previous post).

6. I've also been volunteering at church on Wednesday nights with....the youth. You know, teenagers. Junior high and high schoolers. I don't seem to serve a specific purpose, just a body. Taking up space. I have never felt more uncomfortable in my life. I thought kids' birthday parties represented the longest 2 hours of time. It's hard being in a room feeling like a complete and total outcast. With adults, when I feel like that, I act like I just don't care. Here, I'm supposed to care, even if they think I'm The Man. Maybe I should just stick to visiting the church's shut-ins. I don't think anyone but me wants to do that.

Okay, six things. You are ketch'd up.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

My Territory

Or, another character flaw brought to light.

Some people who have tried to get a recipe from me are well aware of my irrational need to be the keeper of my good recipes. I am extremely territorial about my recipes. It's a family trait and it's completely unattractive. My mother did exactly the same thing. In fact, there's a rumor I may have resorted to stealing recipes from her...

I do understand why I do it, although I'm ashamed to admit it. It's really pathetic. Say for instance, a person made an excellent lasagna. She might be known as the Most Excellent Lasagna Maker. And that might make her feel as though she received her value as a person from making lasagna. And feeling value as a person is a good thing. But what if someone had her recipe and could make it themselves? Would she still have value? Would she still be needed? Finding out the answer to that could be very painful...

I don't know if that was my mother's issue, but I know it's mine. So, at my therapist's insistence (me) in an effort to realize that my value as a person is not determined by my cooking (or my anything for that matter), I will be posting several of my favorite/most complimented recipes here, on the internet, for anyone in the world to have.

And supposedly, I'll still have value.

1# ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. basil
1-1/2 t. salt
2-6 oz. cans tomato paste
2 cans diced tomatoes
10 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked and rinsed (Cook 10 noodles from the box and that'll be exactly what you need.)
3 c. small curd cottage cheese
2 beaten eggs
2 T. parsley flakes
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. salt
1/2# grated Parmesan (I always double the cheeses, so I use a pound of both.)
1/2# Mozzarella cheese
Brown meat slowly; spoon off fat. Add the remaining sauce ingredients; simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, covered. Combine all filling ingredients, except the dry cheeses. Place half the lasagna noodles in a 13x9 baking pan. Spread half the filling over. Cover with 1/2 the Parmesan and 1/2 the Mozzarella. Pour half the sauce over contents of dish. Repeat with remaining ingredients to form 2nd layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 12. Freezes great!

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

1 pound smoked beef sausage, split and cut into 2-inch pieces (I use more--like 2 pounds and I cut the sausage into circles.)

4 pounds of chicken thighs

1/4 to 1/3 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup flour

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 medium green pepper, chopped

2 celery ribs, sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups of water or broth from boiling chicken

4 cup of chicken broth

1 tablespoon of Creole seasoning

2 tablespoons Kitchen Bouquet

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bunch green onions – tops and all, sliced

Hot cooked rice

File powder (about 1 t.)

  1. Put oil in Dutch kettle and brown sausage over medium heat. Remove sausage, reserving drippings in a pan. Set sausage aside.
  2. 2. Place chicken in a 5-6 quart Dutch kettle, cover with just enough water to cover. Cook chicken over medium to high heat until tender. Remove chicken set aside to cool. Save chicken broth if you are going to use instead of the water. Then de-bone chicken and cut into bite size pieces.
  3. Measure drippings, adding enough oil to measure ½ cup. Heat oil in Dutch kettle over medium to high heat until hot. Whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 10 to 12 minutes or until roux is medium to dark colored
  4. Add the chopped onion, green pepper, celery, garlic and green onion and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender. Gradually stir in 4 cups of water or boiling broth, and 4 cups of broth; bring to a boil. Add chicken, Creole seasoning, Kitchen Bouquet and thyme; reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add sausage and cook 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in file powder. Serve over a bowl of white rice, with French bread. Freezes great.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
2-8 oz. packages of cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 graham cracker crust
Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well-blended. Add eggs, mix until blended. Stir in 1/2 c. of chips. Pour into crust. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. of chips. Bake at 350 degrees 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

Fudgie Scotch Ring
1-6 oz. pkg. chocolate morsels
1-60z. pkg butterscotch morsels
1 can Eagle Brand Condensed milk
1 c. coarsely chopped nuts (I like pecans)
1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. nut halves

Melt chocolate and butterscotch with Eagle Brand in top of double boiler over hot water. Stir occasionally until morsels melt and mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat; add nuts and vanilla. Blend well. Chill about 1 hour. Place 3/4 of nut halves in serving dish, forming a ring. Spoon mixture in small mounds on top of nuts to form ring. Decorate with remaining nuts. Chill in refrigerator.

English Muffin Breakfast Strata
1-16 oz. pkg ground pork sausage (I use mild)
1-12 oz. pkg English muffins, split and buttered (Don't be confused...12 oz of English muffins is 6 total muffins. I speak from experience.)
1-10 oz. block sharp cheddar cheese; shredded
1-8 oz. block mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 large eggs
1-1/2 c. sour cream
1-4 oz. can chopped green chilies; drained

Cook sausage in a skillet; stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Cut muffin halves into quarters and arrange in an even layer in a lightly greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Sprinkle half of sausage, cheddar and mozzarella cheese evenly over muffins. Whisk together eggs, sour cream and chilies in a large bowl; pour evenly over sausage and cheeses. Top with remaining sausage and cheeses. Cover and chill 8 hours. Uncover and bake at 350 fro 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Freezes great.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Discussion of Flaws

For some reason, I feel compelled to write about one of my character flaws. Not that I couldn't fill a book with them all. But I had to rethink the title. At first, I was going to call this Character Flaw-No. 1. But I didn't want to send the message that I believed this was my Number One Character Flaw, The Worst of a Long, Bad List. Clearly, not writing thank you notes is no one's Worst of a Long, Bad List. It's just the first one I've felt inspired to discuss.

Thank You Notes.

I don't really understand this lack of courtesy on my part. Like the road to hell, I am full of good intentions. And it's not that I'm not thankful. I am very thankful. There are amazing people around me doing amazing things for me. But I have a hard time following through with my feelings in the form of a note, addressed, stamped and mailed. Not to mention I tend to pour my little, coal black heart into my thank you notes, as if I were charged with convincing someone exactly how thankful. I really strive to make them meaningful. And as a person who owns her own papercrafting supply business, I also feel as if I should send a card made by my own hands. Which I never do. Another problem I have is with elapsed time. Once I have failed to properly thank someone in a timely manner, I think it's too late to thank them at all. So a lot of the time, my gratefulness just stays in my coal black heart.

It's pretty embarrassing because there are some people who do pay attention to whether or not they received a thank you note. When you don't send them, those people often rethink whether or not they want to send you a gift or do you a favor ever again. Oh, how sad. Sometimes, they don't. And why should they anyway?

I did a poor job sending thank you notes when Lily was born, so I was too embarrassed to send birth announcements when Darcy was born. Not to mention that we were a displaced people group at that time as well. And since I didn't send announcements out when Darcy was born, I didn't do it when Reagan was born. Or Joshua. Oops. Lucky for me, some people knew we were having babies anyway, without an announcement.

I do like to receive thank you notes, and I do read them. I figured out years ago that everyone needs to feel loved, needed and appreciated. This one flaw aside, I really do consider myself a thoughtful person. I'm wondering if this is a big enough flaw to remove "thoughtful" from my list of positive traits?

As usual, I'm in the red with my thank you notes. (That's finance/accounting speak: I owe others.) But this time, I actually did hand make cards to send. The delay in this case was my inability to get the fullness and thankfulness out of my heart and onto paper. But however late, I'm going to go ahead and send them. I'm still very grateful and want those people to know that I haven't forgotten their kindness.

I'm going to do better. I really am know. Except for this.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Slow News Days

I've been having a slew of slow news days. Or else I am just uninspired.

Running here, there and yonder has left me tired.

Listening to my children alternately scream, wheeze, sneeze, cough and argue with each other has left me very tired.

Knowing that Brian is going to be home full-time for a while now, that I like. But I'm still tired.

I did attend Session 3 of the Love and Logic class. Now only if Brian and I could get it together to attend one of the 6 at the same time. Probably too much to ask. Although, implementing today's lesson could go a long way in ending some power struggles with some of my more strong-willed children: giving choices. As a general rule, I don't like putting the smack-down on the kids. I like it much better when we can all get along. I like it when I ask them to do something, and basically, they do it. That doesn't happen all the time. But giving choices, that makes them responsible for things, instead of me. And I like that.

I'm a fan of people being responsible for themselves. I think that's why I feel guilty about every little thing. I take responsibility for stuff that doesn't even concern me. That's probably just as bad as the people who refuse to accept responsibility. They're being enabled by someone like me. I want my children to learn at an early age that it's important to do your very best at whatever you do and to accept responsibility for whatever you do. It's a hard lesson and I'm not a good teacher.

In other news, I hope to finish 3 quilts by October 1 to send to the quilter. One of them has not even been started. I'll probably have a week to bind them all before Christmas. I think it can be done.

A smart person would have gone to bed about an hour ago...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Baby For Sale--Motivated

We've always been very lucky, fortunate, blessed, graced, what have you, with the kids. All kids were great nursers. Not one second's worth of trouble there. The babies slept through the night very early on, thanks in part to our dedication to sleeping through the night. I'm a fan of a loose schedule, but not for the reason many books suggest.

Several back-to-back years of parenting babies and reading books and trying things first one way and then another and talking to other parents who have done things first one way and then another, has brought me to this realization: I'm a fan of a loose schedule. Who knew it could be as easy as that little thing? Certainly cuts down on the husband/wife drama at 3am. We didn't have our own way of thinking with our first baby. We just read a book, decided it sounded like a good idea and followed it verbatim.

Oops. Still dealing with the ramifications of that.

Anyway, without a loose schedule, how else do you get more than one child to nap at the same time? Or how do you address the real point of the schedule: Mom's nap.

But luckily, we never had fussy babies like some people do. Seemed like each baby was more easy-going than the last. Then, of course, the girls became toddlers. One definitely tougher and more strong-willed than the last. I don't know where they get that from.

But Joshua is charting new territory for me. That of Screaming Baby. I thought at first he was deathly ill or an invisible person was actually cutting his throat with their sharp, invisible knife. Because beginning about last week, he would scream and scream and scream. Not fussing. Not whining. Those, I can just about tune out. At least that's the rumor. "Mama can't hear you when you're whining." But I began to notice that anytime he was in his high chair and I moved out of his eyesight, however brief, he would start in. Sometimes that only meant he was facing the table and I was behind him at the refrigerator. Sometimes, all I have to do is get up from my chair. The result? High-pitched screaming. Wailing. Gnashing his 4 tiny teeth together.

With Brian gone, the Witching Hour of 4-5pm became the Witching Afternoon/Evening. I would serve dinner, then start bathing kids, leaving Bubba in his high chair with a snack while I got the girls bathed. He never stopped screaming until I got him out of his chair.

Then he was fine.

Or I would put him in his bed, praying exhaustion the reason for his ire. He would then stand there or even lay there and scream until I rescued him.

Once released, he was fine.

I took him to the doctor last week. After a long wait and a short visit where I hoped for some easy identifiable, minor medical reason, I was told he was fine. Great. It was the worst possible answer: it's his personality. Right before my very eyes, he was changing from that of a sunny, happy, thrilled-to-be-here, 4th child, only boy pleasure to a set of screaming hot cross buns. Mama. Just. Can't. Have. That.

What to do?

I thought about what I would do if one of the other kids wanted to have a throwdown screaming fit. Everyone over the age of 2 knows screaming and whining and crying is okay at our house. But has to be done in the bedroom. As soon as the urge to throwdown passes, they are welcome back to GenPop. I decided we could do that with Bubba, too. Unfortunately, it's not always convenient to put him in his bed. Like this morning. Trying to get the girls ready and out the door for preschool was not a good time to put him in his bed. He had to stay in his chair and scream.

I'm very fearful of this screaming stage. It's very painful for me to stand there and listen to him scream, but the last thing I want to do is to create a big, spoiled monster of a boy who grows into a spoiled kid who thinks the world (and everyone in it) is there to serve his needs. An entitled boy who turns into a selfish, spoiled monster of husband with a wife who going to be cursing me later. And I think it all begins here. Joshua Peter (Bubba Gump) Welch has to learn here and now that I, nor his sisters, or his dad are here to serve his purpose. He is just one of 6 people in this group. Sometimes, Mom has to get up from the table. Sometimes other people's needs have to come first. Sometimes, you're just gonna be sad. But if you want to scream and cry about it, you gotta do it in your room.

Otherwise, Mr. Hot Cross Buns, as the rhyme suggests, I'll sell you "one a-penny". I'm motivated.

Friday, September 03, 2010

My Future New Boots

I love shoes. I really, really do. But I have a pretty large foot and since I'm the mother of 4 children, all of whom I have carried in my body, my feet are even harder to fit than they used to be.

All that aside, I want these boots. The burgundy pair.

I was very nearly panting over them. Not "panting" as in putting pants on so I could run out and buy them. No. I was breathing hard. Downright lusting. I told Brian that if I weren't married, I would definitely consider buying them a drink.

They're expensive. Yes. But I could wear them in the rain and keep my feet dry. If I could have these boots, I would even wear them to bed. Unlike my kids, when I buy a pair of shoes, it could actually be a life-long relationship. Oh, I really, really, really need these boots.

Oooh, maybe I can use my commissions from my best scrapbook-selling month ever to buy the boots.

Whatever it takes, gotta have those things.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Opposite of Rockin': Melting

The opposite of rockin' is probably melting. As in melting down. Just like the kids do!

A cold dared to invade our home. In and out, like a thief, taking with it, my happy, well-adjusted children. Oh, a sly cold, indeed. Making itself known while Brian is out of town and there is only me to do Every. Single. Thing. A diabolical, evil cold that left me with a baby who has cried very nearly non-stop for 3 days. A cold that entered 4 lungs rendering them wheezy and requiring generic steroid prescription that doesn't taste "dood" and breathing treatments.

Something must be very wrong with my sweet baby boy. I am so tired of his whining and fussing and crying; I would gladly sell him cheap. Real cheap. I just do not respond well to screaming that goes on and on with no discernible rhyme or reason. Like now. He's been screaming in his bed for at least 20 minutes. Not fussing. Not whining. Full-on screaming. He is teething and he does have this cold issue, but I don't seem to be able to make it better for him. Is there anything more frustrating that that?

Reagan is not feeling like herself either. She's obviously feeling froggy because every simple request from me gets an automatic "no", either verbally or she just stands there silently begging me to do something about it. When I get up to oblige, she begins her screaming frenzy. I love it when everyone screams at the same time. This morning we had the Screaming Trifecta. I can't think of a time where we've had more than 3 screaming and crying at one time, and only a few times where there was 3. Today, one of those mornings. Let's see, it was Bubba, Reagan and someone else. Oh yeah. Me.

I was very frazzled this morning trying to get everyone ready for school appropriately dressed with lunches made and where they needed to be on time. It did not help matters that Bubba only wanted to scream and Reagan made a very large puddle in her bed and therefore needed an emergency bath wherein she emptied the whole bottle of soap in the tub with her. Not really her fault since I'm the one who left it tubside the other night. Trying to get Bubba to eat when screaming was on the menu...just an exercise in futility. Of course I was irritated when Reagan spilled her whole cup of milk on the floor mere seconds before we all had to leave. I'm not gonna lie: it's still there.

Last Wednesday did not rock either. I usually reserve my meltdowns for Thursdays. In fact, for the last 5 years, Thursday is known far and wide as Meltdown Thursday. Wednesday cannot become the new Thursday. There is really no room for it there. Wednesday has its own set of problems. It is not tough enough to handle weekly meltdowns. Only Thursday.

I'd write more, but someone is still screaming...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Meeting Brian

This fall, we're closing in on 8 years of marriage, 9 years together. Hardly seems possible, unless you do the math. It's a long time for people like us. We met in November 2001, which I can only remember if I remember when we got married: December 1, 2002. For a long time, I had a hard time remembering what year! When I finally realized the year we got married was the same backwards and forwards, I didn't forget anymore.

We met on the internet dating site known as If you believe their hype, they have led to more relationships and more marriages than any other dating site out there. I guess that was true for us. Meeting guys on the internet was kind of a hobby of mine. On Thanksgiving 2001, home alone, I was sad because my family was out of town and the guy I had been seeing had issued a mercy invitation for dinner. I didn't go. I'd rather stay home, eat Jack in the Box and wallow in my misery.

I got an email from a hot guy in a Navy uniform. We exchanged a few messages within a few hours and then he sent his phone number. It probably seemed a little stalker-ish to call within 10 seconds. Oops. By the end, Brian decided to come and visit me from Virginia the next week as he began his separating leave from the Navy. I stewed and worried and fretted. Things were going so well on the phone, I was definitely afraid there was something very bad wrong with him. When he arrived, I refused to let him come pick me up at my house, instead insisting I would meet him where he was staying. I sat on the hood of my car and smoked a cigarette trying to settle my nerves. Didn't help. When I finally knocked, I had no idea that the guy, who would stand on a beach in four months and ask me to do him the honor of becoming his wife, was opening the door. All I knew is that the guy who I would later stand barefoot in the sand, on a Virgin Island and promise to love and honor, thought an introductory kiss was the way to go.

To say I was "freaking out" would be an understatement of gigantic proportions. I put my arm out and started backing up. Quick study that he was, he gave up the idea of kissing me and suggested we sit and have a cigarette which probably saved me from falling backward out of the window. Nothing but raw nerves, I chain-smoked, grinding the ashes into a fine powder. The few drinks I had at the restaurant loosened my tongue enough for me to go on, ad nauseum, about the last guy I had been dating. Way too much information. In fact, as I recall, I pretty much gave a complete dating history. I had also arranged for my best friend to, ahem, be at the bar we were going to next, where she and I whispered about him the whole time we played pool. We were as bad as a couple of high school girls. Except I was 24. And obviously, very mature. I do remember Brian telling me later that he was sad because we already had tickets for a Rockets game on Saturday and this was Thursday...and going terribly. Just down right awful. In fact, he told me he had "a headache" and I gave him some Tylenol.

But we had a moment. A point in time where we locked eyes over the pool table and like in a movie, everyone and everything else just disappeared. It was surreal. It was at that point the date finally started.

The next night, we had a dress-up night and had dinner in Galveston at Willie G's followed by drinks at a local watering hole, Big Daddy's. I just love Galveston. I love the beach, I love the water and I love how the wind is always blowing. Brian was looking very well turned out in his suit and I felt like Donna Summer's Hot Stuff in my black suit and high-heeled sandals. He opened my car door, lit my cigarettes, ordered for me, held my hand. I liked it. I felt safe and important. He thinks I fell in love with him on this night, but I didn't. At least I don't think I did.

At halftime, we stood outside the Compaq Center in the December wind, huddled together, smoking, talking and apparently, falling in love. We never went back inside. I remember the drive back, hearing Staind on the CD player. Anytime I hear "It's Been Awhile", I think back to that night.

I think I fell in love with him at that Rockets game. On our 3rd date. Except I wasn't sure and wouldn't say it until a month later because I was so damn scared. He said it 2 days later. I freaked out. Of course.

I loved that he drove a standard. He would send me flowers because it was Thursday and they would be these DIY arrangements that would arrive via FedEx. He would often pop into work and bring me Dr Peppers. I loved watching his smile go all the way to his eyes. I loved (and hated) that he would stand up to me. He probably loves and hates that about me, too. I love that he very readily gave me his heart. Honestly, I had his heart long before I wanted it. Our first Christmas, a month after we started dating, he gave me a pair of diamond earrings. I intend to give them to one of my daughters when she gets married. Brian had asked me one day what I thought about diamonds. As my mother's daughter, that's an easy answer. I'm for 'em. "But you only give diamonds if you're serious. Don't even ask about diamonds if you're not serious," is what I told him. He was serious.

My very favorite band is the Dave Matthews Band. My very favorite song of theirs is called "Two Step". When Brian and I went to see them, I told myself that if they played that song, it meant we were destined to be together forever. They did and we eloped the following December to beautiful St. Thomas. Almost a year to the day. Under my wedding dress, I was barefoot in the sand. And it rained some. Good for fertility, they said.

And here we are, some 8-9 years later.

I love that man.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why I'm Not Homeschooling

Putting Little People into school is not as easy as checking a box and it's over.

There was a time when I thought homeschooling was the perfect answer for my FEAR of exposing my children to God knows what at the junior prison they called a school. I can say with 100% certainty that I was operating out of a place of fear and a desire to keep bad things away from my kids. Certainly after all the work I put in getting them "trained" and on a schedule and obedient (just ask me how well that's working now) ...I did not want some stupid teacher (and other people's hellbound kids) messing up all my hard work. Homeschooling seemed the logical answer. I started having doubts soon after we moved to this area, 4 years ago. Some interesting discussions held on this blog about homeschooling during that time can be found HITHER, THITHER, and YON.

It felt like people who homeschooled viewed those who didn't as amoral, lazy, disobedient people who didn't really love their children very much at all to send them to the Public School Pit. And I couldn't understand it. I was trying to examine my motives and figure out what was going in my heart, in my brain. Homeschooling seemed like a measuring stick to judge how good a Christian someone was. And it began to rub me the wrong way. Homeschoolers seemed so sure they had found El Dorado, so to speak, and the rest of us were just too stupid to realize it. People didn't really seem believe that God could lead one family one way and another family another way.

I struggled deeply with trusting God with my children. Why couldn't he protect them at school the same way He could protect them everywhere else? Why didn't I trust Him? Oh, that was heavy on my heart.

Homeschooling seemed like a mark on a list of what I needed to do to ensure (insure?) godly kids. As I began to examine my heart and think about what the Lord wanted from me, homeschooling really had to exit the picture. My intents were not right.

Brian never saw homeschooling that way.

He has always been against the state. Period. He absolutely saw the school where Little People go to be filled with state-sanctioned tripe. His reasons never changed. Mine did. The more I thought about it, the more I felt burdened, drug down. I felt no peace, only guilt. I thought if I had to spend the next 20 years with these kids all day and all night...I honestly did not know what I might do. I felt locked into a life that I wasn't exactly sure I wanted.

Other people didn't just homeschool, they were inspired and on fire and from all appearances, doing it really, really well. Watching those families educate their children, it seemed like the very thing homeschooling was meant to be. I knew it wouldn't be done in the Welch household like that. Not only that, but I never had the desire. It was drudgery. I felt overwhelmed with a task that 1) I didn't want to do, and 2) I was completely ill-equipped to do. I found it completely and utterly boring. Mind-numbing.

There were fights. I wanted someone to say homeschooling wasn't so important that it was worth my sanity. My life. But he said "we would find a way." And I would die a little inside. It was a problem. Fine, I'd sigh. I'll do it. And things were fine again. Until the next time.

Lily turned 5 July of last year. I had really intended to homeschool.this.child. To get a plan. I ordered Handwriting Without Tears. I spent $200 on homeschooling books and resources. When I tried to read the material...I really just couldn't understand it. It was written for a freakin' teacher! I had a newborn. I had 2 other kids, plus a newborn, plus Lily. I had no idea how or when I was going to read the material and "figure it all out". And finally I decided, I just wasn't going to do it. That I just couldn't.

So we had a conversation.

And honestly, I really thought when I said I wasn't going to do it, I'd need to find a lawyer, too. I really honestly thought Brian was going to see that as the ultimate betrayal in our marriage.

Everyday, I had to get her to school by 740am. Pick her up at 245pm. Drag everyone else out, too. Make sure she had her lunch. Sign her stupid folder. Watch as they spent weeks on their colors. The alphabet. Numbers. Stuff she had known since she was 2 years old. Trying to figure out how to be involved at school with my 3 other children at home at the same time. It was not easy. But you know what? I don't regret it.

After my mom died, I was a wreck, and I didn't understand it. We made the decision for Lily to go to school, or rather, the decision was made before my mom died. If there had been homeschooling to deal with (something I absolutely did not want to do) at the same time I was dealing with these intense feelings of failure, worthlessness, etc., I don't know what I would have done. Literally. I was already thinking about shutting myself up in the garage. I was thinking about it a lot. I couldn't escape my life. A life that I was beginning to hate. And I desperately wanted to escape.

So, here we are...a week into another school year. I have a preschool on my staff now. Darcy and Reagan have class on Mondays And Wednesdays from 9-3 and Bubba can go as soon as he walks. I am really breathing a sigh of relief. I don't feel that pressure or that heavy, oppressive sense of failure right now. I feel really good. I don't feel like I want to permanently escape from my life. I can live with that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Draggin' It

Last week, I was rockin' it.

This week, I'm draggin' it.

All in all, I still feel like I'm doing pretty dang good. I'm just tired. Exhausted. Bone-weary. I've had several very late nights in a row and apparently, getting very little sleep takes its toll on the body. Yesterday, after a late night trip to the ER, I was "newborn mom" tired. Bedtime last night was 9pm. For me.

But I've had a busy week. After rocking the skating party, Meet the Teacher, Pei Wei and shopping last week, I didn't quite crash and burn, but by the time Friday and Saturday came along, I was fairly well interested in staying at home. I was so busy being totally awesome, that I didn't plan or execute my other duties very well and the results of that were very frustrating to me. I'm still playing catch up. With everyone starting school this week, and their extra activities, just organizing what time to load up and leave in the hopes of getting anywhere on time can be an interesting logistical challenge. At the very least I am keeping my skills sharp for when I return to the workforce as a highly-paid executive assistant. Now to only translate "successfully and consistently manages daily schedules of 4 entry-level executives" into language that employers will be impressed by!

Now here's an idea, just came to me. There are recruiting firms that help people exiting from the military match their military skills and training to civilian jobs. They help them find a job, give resume advice. The LucasGroup is one search firm who is a leader in that niche, among others. What if there were something similar for stay-at-home moms who have been out of the work force and are returning? I have 4 children, 3 of whom attend a school program at least 2 days per week and have extracurricular activities as well. Surely, I can manage the schedule of one guy. A guy who probably doesn't need me to brush his teeth or comb his hair and can probably get himself to work before he needs to be managed. I create, implement and have responsibility for our "annual budget" including accounts payable, accounts receivable and full charge bookkeeping of our 6-person "department". My "current job" requires proficiency in many other skills. Skills that transfer well to the work environment, such as materials procurement and mediation. I have a friend who could nurse a baby, bathe a toddler and talk on the phone, all at the same time. How effective could I be on the phone if I didn't have to take every important phone call in my closet? Anyway, it's just an idea.

Last night, I did find that the thread to which my sanity has been attached, was quickly coming unraveled. Apparently, I don't like to be interrupted multiple times by multiple people when I'm talking to others. I don't like it when I'm tapped, patted and touched a dozen times in lieu of being interrupted. I don't like it when people spill their water into their plate. I don't like it when I answer a question, only to have it either asked again verbatim or rephrased because the answer wasn't liked. I do not like it when my food is grabbed off my plate and thrown to the winds.

But I do like it when my husband comes home from being out of town and cooks breakfast for us. I do like it when Pinto goes to live somewhere else and I doing car pool.

We won't be quite as busy the next few days. Brian will be home until Sunday. I have a scrapbooking gathering on Saturday. A couple of kids will be visiting the pulmonologist on Friday. I have things well in hand. Supposedly. I want to go through some stuff that has recently been given to me, and get it off my counter. I'd love to actually clean my house this weekend (not that I actually want to clean) but I like it when it's clean and the c-r-a-p is held at bay another few days. I have some quilt "manufacturing" I'd like to do this weekend or at least have it ready to work on next week. It requires "attention to detail", an area in which I happen to excel...according to my resume.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

She Who Must Be Obeyed

I am rockin' it.

I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself. It's hard to tell people with a straight face that I don't "do" kids. That I am not a kid person. They roll their eyes to the heavens and sigh with disbelief that a woman who birthed 4 children in 5 years could not be a kid person. But it's true. I am actually a person who loves volunteering with nursing home residents.

Even though I am not a kid person, I'm rockin' it.

Yesterday, I took all 4 kids to Chick-Fil-A. By myself. And not through the drive-thru like I normally might. (And only if I were already forced to go out for another reason.) I went to Chick-Fil-A. On purpose. In fact, I had an invitation to go there. Someone actually called me up in the middle of the day, and asked me to do something. And for once, I thought, "What the hell? I can do that." So I did. There were friends there to help. But I also know a little secret. I could have handled it alone. I totally rocked lunch at Chick-Fil-A yesterday.

I am da bomb diggity.

Brian is already gone for a few days. There are many things on the agenda coming up while he is gone. Someone is going to have to rock it if it's going to be done. I just so happen to be in the rockin' business.

Tonight was a skating party for our Awana signup. I really did try to find a babysitter. I wondered how I would monitor my skaters and my Little People Not Skating. I wondered if I would be able to get the stroller in through the door! Oh, I really tried to find a babysitter. I knew that would solve my problem. But guess who rocked it? Three little skaters all falling down, probably all concussed, but I actually had things well under control. Well, except an out of control skater who was making mincemeat out of my flip-flop clad feet. (There is definitely some skin missing from my big toe.) And now, all Little People are in bed.

Tomorrow is Meet The Teacher night. I was hoping for a babysitter, but only could get one for a few hours in the afternoon. Can't rock my kids at the nursing home. Think of the stir that would cause. People might view me as a real person instead of the Shower Room Nazi. Can't have that. But I'm rocking the Teacher Night. After that, I'm going to brave some shopping in Fort Worth. With my kids. May even Rock.Out.Pei Wei. I am not scared.

Friday is another Meet the Teacher date for preschool, and I'm ready. Then more shopping and scrapbooking later at my house where I am going to be awesome. Because of all places, I can rock it at home. Saturday, I'm going to meet Brian at the outlet mall and finish up our shopping.

You may refer to me as She Who Must Be Obeyed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I don't know why it's so hard. To accept help, I mean. I don't know why it feels so. . .uncomfortable. Even writing about it is hard. I'd rather just pretend that things are just fine and dandy and there are no problems. *insert big, fake smile here*

I don't think it's a control issue. I have realized about myself that I'm not the kind of person who has to be in control. I work well within the system that someone has to be in control and as a rule, I don't usually want it to be me. I do, however, want the people who are in control to know what-in-the-samhill they are doing.

But help, I don't like that stuff. And I had to accept tons of it this past weekend.

I had a tiny, minor, carefully scheduled, anesthetized procedure scheduled for a Friday morning. Generally, this would not be a problem. None at all. My husband works 4-10s. It would just be a matter of finding someone to watch the kids in the morning during this procedure. Except Brian was actually out of town working bringing us to Problem #1. As much as I wanted to, I could not drive myself to and from the procedure. Then Problems #2, 3, 4, 5. What to do with the kids?

Thankfully, gratefully, fabulously, friends stepped in and solved most of my problems for me, volunteering to take kids overnight, even Bubba Gump. One family even took The Three Sisters overnight and most of the next day, even though those 3 together can be a handful, even for us. Although, I think they were in the best possible hands. But I had no worries. I can't say how wonderful it was to come home, take my pain pills and mercifully go to sleep, with no worries. Sleeping in a drug-induced coma while my dad was cooking up a meal fit for a king. Peace and quiet all through the house. No worries!

Of course, it all worked out. Four different families, plus my dad were immediately involved in making sure it logistically worked out. But I felt very vulnerable, and that isn't something I relish. But I am grateful, even if I'm uncomfortable.

I'm grateful my husband has the opportunity to work out of town and make the extra overtime, to show his bosses he's ready for bigger and better things.

I'm grateful that my surgery has been completed and all is well in my body.

I'm grateful there are people who are willing to help me, even though I am reluctant to ask.

I'm grateful to be feeling much better today.

Today, I am just grateful. My heart is full.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Some Women Shouldn't Be Mothers

I recently heard this statement applied to some women I know. And in academic theory only, I could agree with this assessment. Those women made the lives of their children miserable or continue to do so now that their children are adults. They emotionally and physically torment their children even into adulthood. Hugs and kisses and "I love you's" are virtually non-existent. There are blatant cases of favoritism and intentional familial division. Those children continue to seek approval they will never receive, still bearing jagged scars. And this isn't even the tip of the iceberg.

But were those women so bad at mothering that their children didn't deserve to exist? Because that's what it boils down to. Is this "bad mothering" a generational thing? Because in the case of these women, they are all related. So if it is generational, how can it be stopped and reversed? It's easy to identify which women were born mothers. It seems easy to identify those traits in others. But in ourselves, how do we know which one we are? A friend of mine is fond of saying, "There's no guilt like mother guilt." We always feel bad about something. So, is there a checklist, some set of criteria to measure against? Does the kind of mother we have had play into it? Could mothering be considered a "nature vs. nurture" event? Apparently, there has been a study done on this.

On an seemingly unrelated note, I was also recently interested to find out that the Catholic Church basically teaches that in-vitro fertilization is morally wrong because it violates the dignity of both spouses and the children created. Further, it was explained, many of the children created through IVF die or are frozen; some are even used for experimentation. I found this to be very, very interesting, although not an argument I hadn't heard before. I know of several children born to parents who tried conventional means for many years and were unsuccessful until in-vitro fertilization. Should those women have become mothers in that way? The Catholic Church says no. Does years of disappointment in bearing children make a better mother? Are they more likely to be patient with and thankful for their colicky baby who cries every night until 4am after waiting for years and years for the joy of a baby? Or, is it more likely they will feel guilty about any negative feelings they might have about their bundle of joy? Does that make them a bad mother? When does someone transition from a sad mother, an inexperienced mother, an undemonstrative mother to a bad mother?

It's been well said that there is no test or licensing required to become a parent, and there should be. But if there were, what would the criteria be and who would pass and fail that exam? Would it be a psychological exam delving into your wonderful/troubled/mediocre/mis-remembered/fill in the blank childhood? Or rather, would it be a skills test of bathing and dressing infants, administering first aid and potty training? The testing possibilities and subsequent opportunities for failure are endless.

Is mothering something that can be learned? Can someone in a cycle of generational "bad mothering" break that cycle? And if so, what would that look like? Where could she get help and not judgment? And frankly, whose opinion matters? Mine? My husband? My kids? Random people who hardly know me? And again, with what criteria? That my children are dressed, fed and at the doctor when sick? Who really knows? Who knows what goes on in the hearts of people?

I guess some women shouldn't be mothers. But who gets to decide?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Parenting Outside the Box

We used to be very punitive. Poor Lily. That child got a spanking if she took her barrette out of her hair. If she took off her shoes. If she resisted getting into the car seat. If she did anything we didn't want her to do. Anything. At the time, that seemed appropriate. We had an us versus them mentality. Children were to obey their parents. Clearly, we needed to punish for disobedience. So we did.

Then Darcy came along. And some point, it just felt like we were spanking her literally, all the time. She was so hard-headed. So unrepentant, it seemed, that we just kept on spanking her. Except what those books said would happen, didn't. She wasn't thankful for our correction. It didn't bring us closer. No way would that child lay still and "take" a spanking. It was UFC to give her a spanking. My heart started feeling burdened about the number of spankings we were giving and how they were not working. I started questioning the brand of parenting we had been using which was hard because we basically loved the results we had in one child, and couldn't figure out what we were doing wrong in another child.

What we didn't realize until later was the results we loved in Lily, were only the result of her deep-seated need to self-preserve. Not really what we intended at all. She didn't see the problem with disobeying Daddy's rules when he was at work because he "wouldn't know".

For years we have struggled with issues like this. Wanting to do the right thing, but really having a hard time knowing what that would be and what it would look like in this family. What a hard lesson for me to learn. Kids and families are not cookie cutouts. Even if my kids are (which they aren't), I most certainly am not. Most people would not describe me as warm or open or even sweet. I laughed recently when a friend actually admitted to telling someone else I was "sweet". She thinks I'm "closet sweet". Learning that there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to ANY problem is something I'm trying to keep in mind when I hear people managing their lives in a way that's different from what I would do.

A couple of days ago, I managed a bedtime/naptime issue very differently than I ever have before. I still have children who need a nap, but are at an age where they can just play around for a few hours and then naptime is over and they didn't have to take one. Bedtime is a battle. Up and down, up and down. Thirsty, need to potty, wants hugs and kisses. A nearly imperceptible injury. Scared. Et cetera. We might handle this variety of ways. We might spank them and hope that would settle them down enough to go to sleep. Maybe we would make them stay in their bed until they actually took a nap. None of these solutions were ever consistently effective. But Sunday, I went another way. Instead of trying to keep them in bed, I let them out.

I told them we were going to stay up and not go to bed! When the other kids went to bed and they were able to stay up, it hardly seemed like a punishment. Seemed like fun! Then 11pm came and our little people started getting cranky and whiny and heavy-lidded. Every few minutes, I would ask in a loud voice, "You guys aren't going to sleep yet, are you? We can't have that!" We finally let Darcy go to bed at midnight and Lily at 1245am. People who don't want to go to sleep, don't have to! Surprisingly enough, naptime and bedtime on Monday went off without a hitch. It just took a small reminder from Mom that if they weren't ready to go to bed, they could always stay up with me. I like staying up late!

Consequences of actions seem to have a better result than punishment. It takes me out of the middle and makes them responsible for their actions. This can only help them as they get older. I'd much rather my children pay a smaller price now and learn lessons than to pay a higher price later.