my writings and thots

Singing in the Rain

It’s been raining these past few days, raining a lot! It’s like April in May or something like that. Either way, it’s a lot more than we’re used to and it’s bringing some challenges with it. I’m aware that there is flooding in some areas, but thankfully it seems to be under control now.

Of course, it means some adjusting on our part, too. The girls have a newspaper route that they do on a weekly basis, with my help. Normally, we’d go by bike and get it done in about two hours. This week, the delivery of the newspapers was a day late, so we had a late start. By the time we were packed and got about a third of the way there, it started to rain. I’m not talking about a few drops–we’ve dealt with those before by sitting it out under a roof–this was a full blown storm. Lightning flashed, and it began to pour within minutes. We quickly turned around and made it back, drenched to the bone. We laughed the whole way home, feeling about as close to monsoon as we have in a long time.

The next day, CC and I decided instead to go by bus to the destination and walk the papers in case it started to rain again. It was dry when we left, but after about half of the route, it started to rain again. This time it wasn’t so strong and we had to complete the distribution, so we just kept going. It wasn’t long before we were pretty wet again, thankful that it wasn’t all that cold and that our coats kept us relatively dry for most of the time.

By the time we were done with the route, we were drenched, though. We had a 15 minute wait for the next bus, so we shared headphones and sat down inside the bus stop–thankfully completely dry inside–to pass the time. But this was CC and I in a situation that just begged for some crazy. We were tired, cold, and wet. There was no way we were going to just sit there and quietly think about our situation. Within a few minutes, we were singing out loud with the music and laughing as we tried to drip dry whatever we could. The bus eventually came and everyone turned to stare at the two wet girls grinning from ear to ear.

We made our merry way home, but needed to stop at the store for groceries before going home. Again, we were quite the sight, coming in there so wet our shoes were squeeking! We grabbed what we needed, laughing at anyone who stared and enjoying our moments of fun. As we walked back home, rain still pouring down, I had to break into song again. This is the neighborhood we live in, so I’m afraid I may have embarassed my daughter just a litte, poor thing. But since I try to say “I don’t no” more lately, I had to give in to the need to belt out a song. I added arm movements and did a bit of a double step as we crossed the street.

We warmed up quickly, I did get sick–thankfully not too sick, my body is fighting hard, but the experience was one of laughter and fun. It could have gone differently, we could have ended up getting negative about how cold we were, complaining about the squishy feeling in our shoes, and cursed the clouds for dumping on us. But we didn’t. We had fun, we created our own atmosphere and laughed, sang, and even danced a bit. It was a joyful experience in the end.

my writings and thots

Stress

One of the g-pigs is stressed out. What? That’s exactly what I said, too!

We had to take them to the petstore to get their nails clipped and asked the kind ladies there about the one g-pig losing hair. I thought it was a spring-time thing, nothing to be too worried about, but it turns out she’s losing more hair than normal. While it could be a lack of vitamins (I seriously doubt it, she eats fresh stuff like, well, a pig), it’s more likely that it’s stress related.

I had no idea little animals like that could feel stressed. I looked at them all comfy cosy in their cage. It gets cleaned out for them, fresh wood chips and hay for a bed. Cherise is meticulous about making sure it doesn’t smell bad and that they always have a fresh bed. She makes little toys for them, and they have a box to climb in and around. Food is delivered twice a day, including special treats and their favorite snacks. There is always fresh water. I mean, couldn’t be less stressful if you tried; it’s not like they have to work for their food and board, there are no preditors, and they have each other so they’re not lonely.

As ridiculous as it sounds to have stressed animals, I started to think about my life of late. Insomnia is such a part of my life, it’s almost routine. I find myself getting frustrated that I can’t get everything done in the time frame I want it done in. I worry, a lot.

But when I think of it, isn’t it also kind of ridiculous. I mean, I have food, a place to stay, my work, my kids, and wonderful friends all over the world. Of course, it’s important to have dreams, to want to better life in some way, and hope should never die. But maybe I need to rethink if I’m not being like a silly pet who doesn’t understand that everything’s in control. I know God’s in control, it’s something I tell myself all the time; but do I live it?

I think it’s time to step back and just relax a bit.

about the kids, My favorite quotes, songs and stories

Happy Mother’s Day

I’ve often said I celebrate Mother’s Day differently now that I’m a mother myself. Today, I’m glad I have this amazing piece to feature here, because, let’s face it, intense, constant pain doesn’t go well with writing amazing pieces. At least not for me. So without further ado, here’s a tribute to Mother’s Day from Stephen Larriva:

I was standing in line at the supermarket. Behind me in the line was a mother with her two teenage children: a boy about 13 and a girl maybe 15. The boy was sulking, arguing with his mom about some item that he wanted her to purchase for him. The girl was feverishly texting and at the same time nagging her mother to let her go to a party. Words like a dumb and old-fashioned were being used repeatedly on the poor woman. Everyone who was standing in line became increasingly uncomfortable with the way these two teens were treating their mother. I couldn’t take it anymore. I turned around and looked at them squarely in the eyes and said “This woman (pointing at their mother) at great personal expense,” I paused for affect “Pushed you both out of her vagina. Your arguments are invalid.” There was silence. An elderly gentleman stifled a cough. The cashier cleared his throat. Then laughter started and spontaneous applause. The old man slapped me on the back the tears streaming down his face in laughter. The cashier whispered in awe “Dude, you’re totally like, my hero.”

Then I woke up.

While it is highly unlikely I would ever actually do this in real life. (I admit it is fun to think about) it really got me thinking about how much we take for granted the tricky job of motherhood. Perhaps because women have been doing the difficult job of motherhood for thousands of years with such amazing grace and breathtaking finesse it’s easy to forget how hard it actually is.

For starters, just being a woman difficult – and not just metaphorically or historically, although both of those are very valid point in cases of how difficult it is to be a woman. The just the physical transition that a woman must endure to become a mother is mind bending.

I’m the first to admit that, as a man, I’m about as qualified to discuss this subject as an auto mechanic who has never owned a car. But I have assisted in a few births (and by assisting, I mean watched) and once delivered a baby when the midwife didn’t show up on time. (I’m still extremely proud of myself for not fainting.) I also have attended a Lamaze class as well as having repeatedly viewed all the drawings in the very end of the “144 basic book” during my teen years.

For those of you who may have missed sixth grade Sex Ed – and by missed I am specifically referring all us guys who actually attended the class but at first mention of the word ‘vulva’ started giggling like Japanese school girls in the back of the classroom and never heard another word that the teacher said. You can imagine my shock when I attended my first Lamaze class (which is basically sixth grade Sex Ed while you sit on the floor) where it was all re-explained with the use of flash cards and a video of a birth starring two completely nude and surprisingly hairy individuals. For those of you who may have missed Lamaze class I will do my best to recount what I learned.

First I would like you to take a deep breath, in through the nose and exhaled slowly out your mouth, as we take a moment to talk about the uterus.

The uterus:

The uterus is described in medical textbooks to be the basic size and shape of an inverted pear, a statement that uteruses worldwide resent immensely. In the months that follow conception, this little ball of inter woven muscle will increase its size by about 600%. After nine months the uterus starts to figure that looking like an inverted pear may not be so bad after all. So in a matter of hours it contracts, causing the cervix to dilate and forcibly expelling a fully formed human. Men cannot experience this. And that is a good thing. For if we could, the human race surely would have died out long ago. Here is a link for a video of 2 men who gave it a try. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A44oEcmDn1c . It is interesting to note that these guys simply had electrodes stuck to their stomach muscles so it was the equivalent of a couple hundred sit-ups. Not exactly the same as a disgruntled baby expelling uterus, but I feel they deserve a thumbs up for the noble attempt. While we’re on the subject things that women have that men don’t, let’s take a moment to talk about:

Ovaries:

Ovaries are about the size of your thumb and are considered by the medical community the practical jokesters of the female anatomy. When they are not busy producing copious amounts of estrogen they take turns producing eggs. For reasons that science has yet to explain ovaries somehow have been left with the impression that it is one of their responsibilities to influence the woman’s behavior. For the most part they are fairly well organized. For example, one may take full responsibility for producing the acquiring new shoes hormone, while the other focuses effort on chocolate acquisition. Normally this works fairly well. Until a woman becomes pregnant. This upsets their schedule of egg making and throws the rest of the little ovaries planning totally out the window causing them to rebel and retaliate by making the woman’s feet swell so that she cannot wear shoes and forcing her to crave strange things like Marmite flavored gummy bears or peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.

I could go on and on because as I understand it there is at least a dozen other things that happen in a woman’s body when she becomes pregnant but I can’t remember right now because at some point in the presentation the Lamaze instructor said the word “vulva”.

Here’s the part where it gets really crazy. Pregnancy and birth is the easy part! That’s right the EASY part! Because after you have a baby it becomes your responsibility to actually care for the child.

How mothers do it is a mystery to me. Sleepless nights and poopie diapers, colicky babies and ear aches. Colds and coughs, tummy bugs and projectile vomiting, scraped knees and visits to the emergency room. Potty training and teaching to read. Meals cooked, dishes washed, mountains of laundry folded, of hundreds ouchies bandaged, thousands of tears kissed away…

Sure, there may be a tiny hiccups from time to time. A slip that gives you a glimpse into how difficult her job really is. She may occasionally make the same thing for dinner two nights in a row. Or perhaps skip eating her dinner all together and go straight for a glass of wine. Or for a brief moment forget a child’s name and work through the list of names of all her other children before getting it right. But these inconsistencies are so short and infrequent that if you blink you probably will miss it. And she goes right back to soldiering on, picking right up where she left off in the endless list and duties and responsibilities that she carries so bravely.

To be a mother takes superhuman strength. I have no clue how they do it, but they do. Day in day out with a grace and beauty and elegance that I find impossible to put into words. Watching a mother be a mother I think is kind of like watching a ballet. They make it look so easy, so effortless. And even though in theory we know it must be difficult you never really know for sure unless you actually try it. If you ever curious to give it a try, let me know, I will let you borrow my pink tutu.

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Happy Birthday to my Princess

If there was ever a little girl who deserved the Princess title, it would be Cherise. When I first found the name and looked up the meaning, I found that it meant royal, little princess, and I felt it right for her. Now it’s hard to know what the real meaning is for a lot of names, as different sites will say different things. One meaning I found is Precious One, which I find equally fitting.

Cherise is prim and proper about how things are done and has decided that she is no longer a little girl. This year, she asked that no toys be given on her birthday and instead she got notebooks, art books, a purse, wallet, jewelry, and other “big girl” items. However, she’s got the cutest, childlike giggle that will make me smile every time. She retains her innocence while desperately trying to grow up.

Things need to be done her way and she’s the one to be very vocal in how that’s done. She is capable of talking a mile a minute and is rarely quiet for more than a few minutes at a time. She can be very good at showing empathy, and feeling for someone who is suffering actually hurts her. While she’s sometimes oblivious to her surroundings (she’s a princess, after all), when she does catch on, she’s quick to take action to help.

Here’s to another year of chattering, tender hugs and prayers, and wanting to be “big”.

about the kids, my writings and thots

Enjoying more moments

When my kids were babies, the sage wisdom was told to me often: “enjoy them while they’re little, they grow up too fast.” Many older mothers lamented not having taken enough time to enjoy their children while they were young and coached me in not just tending to the physical day-to-day care of the children, but in taking moments with them whenever I could.

As a young mother, I wanted to do my best to do this with my kids. I reminded myself often that they wouldn’t always be this young, that time would pass and I didn’t want to be one of those mothers that wishes she had been all there when her children were young. Sure, as a stay at home, sometimes working-from-home mom, that meant I was with my kids almost all the time. But really being there, that meant being there in my mind and not just with my presence. I wrote about the moments that count and that launched the beginning of my writing and blogging efforts.

Today, things couldn’t be more different than they were when they were little. I feel like I’ve joined a debating society. Everything is questioned and reasoned and has to be completely understood before embarking on anything. Clothes are changed over and over until the right outfit is found; by the time they leave for school, it looks like they’ve teleported out and left their shoes and clothes behind!

Now I get to buy deodorant and teen bras and Star Wars Lego. There are no more Barbies in the house; instead there’s a skateboard, bicycle helmets, and lip gloss. Life needs to be explained from a more mature point of view, and explanations about what is Playboy and define girlfriend and no, you may not dye your hair purple.

They’ve also become more responsible and capable. They all have things they can cook and like learning new things all the time. The girls have their first job distributing newspapers in order to up their allowance. Less time is spent teaching them how to clean their rooms; more time is now invested in decorating and crafts. They all have their alarm clocks to wake them up in a time frame they feel they need to get ready for school.

It’s a different phase right now and I’m enjoying it as much as I’ve enjoyed every year so far. Things change all the time, and this seems to be a ‘switch’ time from childish to teenager for all of them. I’m enjoying the ride and still enjoy the fact that they do talk to me, I am still able to guide them as much as I can, and I pray every day that they’ll grow up to be responsible, happy adults.

about the kids, my writings and thots

The Flower Project

Last week, CC was working on a project at school that required several sessions of work. It’s a beautiful flower that is made up of many smaller flowers, all folded in an intricate way. This is totally CC’s type of art project. She can be creative and artistic while following directions at the same time.

One day she came home from school, and from what I understood, had the majority of her individual flowers stolen. Apparently, they all have a box they can keep their projects in, but 8 out of the 12 flowers she had made disappeared from one day to the next. She was pretty upset and didn’t really feel like remaking the flowers in order to complete the project. She felt that since the teacher already saw her make them, that would be enough and she could quit then and there.

We had a discussion together and I talked to her a bit about life and the stuff it throws at us sometimes. Sure, it’s not fair for someone else to get credit for work she’s done, but there was nothing she could do about it anymore as the teachers couldn’t even find the culprits. She’s my daughter after all, we don’t quit.

In a way, that’s one of my strong points. I get pretty low, pretty darn close to giving up, but I always manage to pick myself up again and figure out how to go on. This is something I really want to impart to my children, because set backs are a part of life. It might be, like in CC’s case, something that someone did to us, or it might be something that is out of our control, like paper work that takes forever to complete.

She said that the teacher had given her the option to team up with a classmate and help her finish her project as she was a few flowers behind. “Better than giving up”, I said as she determined to still make something out of what she had left.

I was pleasantly surprised when she came home on Friday with a complete flower, all the little flowers done by her—again. She had taken the time to refold all the flowers, and didn’t opt to team up with the classmate after all. Something else I keep trying to teach them seems to have sunk in: If you’re going to do something, do it right and do it all the way.

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I’m proud of my kids when they put into practice something I’ve tried hard to teach them. I also had a chance to check my own life and see what things I needed to focus on in order to complete properly. I’ve dropped so many balls in my life, I sometimes am a little unclear on what I need to pick up still. But step by step, and bit by bit, I’m picking up the pieces and hopefully, the artwork of my life will be something I can be proud of in the end.

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Holding on

It’s been a rough last few weeks. And when I say rough, I mean really rough. I did my best to smile, to put my best foot forward, and to go on with life as much as possible “as usual”. But my kids tend to see through me far too easily. CC wrote this for me today. Things have slowly been getting better; anyone who knows me knows I don’t stay down for long and I fight hard to never go back into the pit of giving up. But what she wrote expresses so well, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

Sometimes all you want to do is run. Run and run and keep running. You already feel like you are; running, running, running, you cant stop, you can barely breathe. Your heart is screaming so loud and yet you are swallowed up in an impenetrable silence. You can’t let go and you can’t hold on. Tossing and turning, shaking your head as hard as you can, hoping that that will make the monstrous thoughts inside your head disappear. You clench your fists and try to hold back the tears that are burning your eyes with frustration and doubt, so much doubt; so much fear.

Just let them flow, don’t be afraid of those tears. Let them heal you. Just close your eyes and know that He is there. Beside you, like a waterfall of cool, clean water. Let His peace rush over you, unlike anything you’ve ever felt before.

When you are just lying there; inside your head and heart a war of confusion and pain is waging. But you are too weak to scream. His hand is there for you. You hold onto His hand and don’t let go. He’ll get you through it.

And just keep telling yourself, “it’s going to pass. Its going to all be a memory soon.” And memories can’t hurt you. Once its over, its over. And even if one day it comes back to haunt you, that will pass too. If you can hold onto Him, He will get you through it. And then it will be over and you can have peace. You just got to hold on for one more second, one more minute, one more day. You can do it, He will help you. He has promised to, and He never, ever breaks his promises.

So when you feel like a black sea is trying to swallow you, and you are just too weak to fight. You are too tired to move and your heart is too broken to beat. Just reach out and call His name.

Every time I do, He comes, He calms me; he tells me that everything is going to be OK. And most of the time, I do not believe Him, I don’t see how things could be OK. But every time, every time, they are. Everything is OK in the end. He keeps His promises. You just have to believe, because if you don’t believe, what do you have left to hold on to?