Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ho ho ho

The play is over! The play is over! Hooray, hooray! This past weekend we performed a musical version of It's a Wonderful Life at my church, and it near killed me in the process. It was a behemoth that almost got away from me, but I conquered in the end. Bwah, ha ha ha! (Sound of crazed laughter) And now I have resurfaced, and looked around my house and said, egads, this place is a sty. So, as I said when Don asked me what I planned to do today, I'm trying to "make headway." Little by little, I'm trying to cross off the ridiculously long list of Christmassy things to do, and also take advantage of this silly 60 degree weather we've had yesterday and today. Big Wheels in December! Yippee!
I've also made the quasi-dangerous leap into Ebay sales this past couple of weeks. I've managed to sell about 20 things out of the attic, and make a total of perhaps, $40. I say quasi-dangerous because I'm a little addicted to the thrill of watching things get bid on. (Sorry about that grammer.) But throughout the process I've learned, if nothing else valuable, that the Post Office will sell postage online, you can print the label on regular paper on your own printer, and then you can schedule them to COME TO YOUR HOUSE AND PICK IT UP FOR YOU!!!! I think I'm never going to the post office again. Why did I not know this before? If only they'd install a drive through window at the grocery store, I'd be in 7th heaven.
The heathen are melting down in the kitchen, so that's all for now!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks

I am thankful for:
The health of my children - that Cinderella didn't suffer a much worse eye injury when hit in the eye with a hanger - that I have two jobs that I love, most of the time - that Don has a job - for our nice big house - for the view of the Ohio river from my bathroom window - for my family - for my friends - for my health - for chocolate - that the Christmas show seems to be coming together well - for the support of my husband in all my crazy endeavors - for the hugs of my children - for warmth and safety - for sunshine - for my children's inquisitive minds - for the glimpses of the adults that they will someday be - for visiting family - for good shopping deals - for my computer - for Christmas coming - for music - for the grace to let go - for God's sustaining peace - for pizza - for the look in my children's eyes when I snuggle them at bedtime - for so many things.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 13, 2006

So I'm going to count on a new week starting Wednesday

This past week has been one of major crapitude around here.
Wait, before I even get into it, let me just acknowledge that the kids are all relatively healthy, since the strep and the pinkeye technically occurred last week, a week which I'm now considering to be a good week. Everything truly is relative, or, in the words of the Churkendoose, "It depends on how you look at things."
Wednesday last, I found out that some good friends of ours, John and Sandy, and their two kids who are the same ages as our own, are moving to Ohio. (Browns territory, of all places!) John is the youth minister at our church, although he's always hated that term. He prefers leader of student ministry. He is one of the wisest, most well-adjusted, yet totally crazy and spontaneous people I know. He was a college football player, a parole officer, and a counselor before coming to our church ten years ago. He's the kind of person who can go from a serious discussion about the direction of your life goals to covering a co-worker's office with post-it notes. COVERING it. Every surface. One of his most infamous activities was showing up at a kid's house at 3:00 am in a Darth Vader suit and dragging them out of bed while videotaping their reactions. This happened frequently. He's had a tremendous influence on both Don and myself, our kids are friends, and I'm going to miss him enormously. I am very sad about it, and find myself tearing up at random times throughout the day.
Also on Wednesday, my friend Deb's dad had heart surgery. He's doing fine, recovering at home, thank God.
On Thursday, I found out that we are not allowed to perform the show that I've been rehearsing for three weeks. I began rehearsals on the assumption that it would be no problem acquiring the rights, and I just got smacked in the face for assuming. It was a bad judgment call, and a lot of people are being very inconvenienced by it. I found another version of the show and we are getting the new scripts and license next Thursday. It will all work out, hopefully, but it's been a pretty major cause of stress over the last couple of days.
Friday, a man from our church who's been struggling with colon cancer for several months passed away. I didn't know him very well, but many families in our church were close with him, and there was a lot of heaviness in the congregation over the weekend.
Also, the glasses I ordered on eBay for my murder mystery Christmas show came in and they're the wrong color.
Today, I found out that they may not be hiring me at the high school for the musical this spring, since they've decided to do Little Shop of Horrors, and there's really no choreography in it. I've made myself available to help, but that's a pretty big source of income that may not be coming in this spring.
Finally, a little girl of about 13 that I knew from Rhema school died of leukemia this weekend. She had been in remission for a couple of years, and then it just reared up again and took her in a couple of months.
I'm sad, and I'm tired.
I'm looking forward to the holidays coming up, and seeing family, and having some time away. Sorry for the downer post, but I'm hoping for an upswing soon. Surely, this week will end and we will begin again.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Trick or Treat

Are these not the three cutest trick or treaters you've ever seen? Even though by the end of the night, Cinderella's crown was drooping and her ponytails were dripping wet, she marched like a trooper the whole time and enjoyed every minute. The boys, who are old pros by now, had trouble keeping up with her! Hope it was drier where you all are. Now, how to get rid of all this leftover candy???

Friday, October 27, 2006

Tonight's project

No, they're not really naked, it just looks that way. It started off as shirts being removed to keep the pumpkin off them, then it just went crazy. Thanks to Uncle S. and Aunt H. for the Halloween stuff! It was very well received. We were supposed to go to the town parade tomorrow am, but with 40 degrees and rain, my new plan is to stay home, snuggle under blankets, and watch the Princess Bride.
Don hit a deer with the old van yesterday. Busted out the front passenger lights and put a pretty good dent in the door. Took out the deer too. But at least Don's okay! Stupid Bambi.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

For Melissa

Dorrie the Little Witch is a whole series of books by Patricia Coombs
There are about 20 in all, published from 1962-1992
I've read a couple to Scooby, and they're still great!

I remember that plastic-y mask smell too. You had a princess one, and Steve had a devil. (No irony there, huh?)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Laundry and Halloween

They were actually sleeping! And to think I was wasting that potential nap time by surfing the computer! Oh, well.

Today is catch-up on housework day. Change the sheets, do multiple loads of laundry, sort, fold, and put away, vacuum the stairs (somehow they catch as many dust balls as Don's bellybutton! Sorry, probably too much information...), encourage Scooby to finish his book report book...

And then I have a show tonight. Thursday's went well - Don's friends were late because of traffic, so that stressed him out a little, but I think he enjoyed the show, and it went well. On the way to tonight's show, I'm going to try to stop at Red White and Blue Thrift store and find a white button-up shirt for Scooby's magician costume (the only one he has is the one he wore to Steve and Heather's wedding, so it's a little small!) and a pair of "pedal-pushers" and a gray 1950's suit for myself, for the Christmas show. It's supposed to be a 1950's variety show, and I play the wry, side-kick writer. Kind of like a 50's Tina Fey. I'll also be looking for cats'eye glasses. Mom, you don't still have yours, do you?

So Halloween's coming up fast. As I mentioned, Scooby wants to be a magician, so sometime this week I need get out to Party City and get him a black hat. We've got the cape, pants, bow tie, gloves, and wand already. Even some tricks that he wants to carry around with him and do at EVERY HOUSE. I'm trying to figure out how to discourage that idea, without discouraging HIM. Tarzan wants to be a skeleton, wearing the same skeleton PJ's that Scooby did a couple of years ago. The bones are pretty worn by this time, but he says it looks like someone hit them with a hammer and they crumpled, so he likes them that way. Cinderella wants to be Tinkerbell, and I think I can get her to wear one of the many ballerina type dresses we already have. I told Tarzan I'll paint his face like a skeleton, and Cinderella that I'll paint fairy designs on hers. She wanted to try it out today, but I think we'll wait. We have a neighborhood parade on the 28th, in the morning, then Granny's going to take them to a costume pumpkin patch at her church that afternoon. On the 31st, Scooby has a costume parade at school, and then there's trick-or-treating that night.

What are some of your favorite Halloween costumes/memories? My three most memorable were the years I dressed up as a Dutch doll, and wore the authentic wooden shoes trick-or-treating. (Ouch!) The year I made a "Missing Link" costume out of a cardboard box...not the genetic missing link, the puzzle that was popular the same time as the Rubik's Cube, with the colored links that you'd have to slide into place. While making the costume, I cut out the head hole first, and then tried it on, without thinking to cut the arm-holes first. Of course, I fell flat on my face. And finally, the year I was Snoopy chasing the Red Baron, wearing a ten pound airplane on my shoulders that my Dad made out of an old barrel, and a paper mache mask on my face with limited visibility. I'm lucky I survived the night. I have to say, I was kind of relieved when I grew too old to trick or treat. So how about you all? Any fun memories?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Life update

I'm an Aunt again! Don's sister delivered a baby girl last night, 3 weeks early. She's tiny - 5 lbs. 7 oz., but healthy and cute as a bug. It's always good to pass on good news, I believe.

I have a show at Rock Bottom tonight and Don and a couple of his friends are coming. I hope I don't mess up in front of them! I'm going over right from teaching the 4-7 year olds, so I also hope traffic isn't too bad.

We started rehearsals for It's a Wonderful Life - the musical. They're going really well - although it's a big cast so there will always be people missing from rehearsals up until the show, probably. But the leads are fabulous, and I'm having fun so far.

We discovered during the deluge on Tuesday that our windshield has started leaking again. I got to sit in a wet spot all day. We need to take care of that before it gets too much colder. But it's so hard to be without a car and have to cart around 3 little ones!!

It's suspiciously quiet upstairs right now - either Tarzan and Cinderella are sleeping, or there will be some sort of mess up there when I go check. I've managed to waste the past 20 minutes or so flipping around to different web pages and accomplishing nothing. I'm almost afraid to go look, but I'd better...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Zoos and stuff

Everyone (except Don) had Monday off for Columbus Day, and it was a gorgeous day here, so we decided to go to the zoo! It's been a couple of years since we've gone - I think Scooby way 5 and Tarzan was 2 - Cinderella was just a wee babe in the stroller. Tarzan and Cinderella were apprehensive about seeing lions and tigers before we went. I tried to explain the whole concept of them being in cages, but it didn't seem to be getting through. After we got there, though, they liked it just fine. The tiger came right up to the glass and laid down with his back to us. The daddy lion roared REALLY LOUDLY right before we got up to their enclosure. I thought it was a recording. Shows how dumb and jaded we are! I had no idea a real lion roar was so loud! Tarzan enjoyed the monkey house, although since lots of other people had the idea to go to the zoo on their day off too, it was pretty crowded. And smelly. The bat cave was a big hit, and so was the meerkat tunnel. It was pretty funny - the kids crawl underneath the cage and there's a plastic tube where they can stand up and look at the meerkats right up close. From the parent standpoint, the kids popping up looks just like the meerkats popping up! Then we went to the naked mole-rat crawling tubes and played for awhile (just like the ones in McDonald land, really) Then we ate some hotdogs, and Tarzan and Cinderella went into the 2-5 year old play area while Scooby finished up. About 3 minutes later, I go over to check on them, and Tarzan is gone. I retrace our steps back to the naked mole-rat tubes, and try to find him there. Nothing. Well, lots of other kids, but not him. I get Scooby and ask him to go into the tubes to look for him. It's been about three more minutes now. Not long, really, but long enough for all the news horror stories to flash through my head. But then I turned around and he was at the food counter, talking to two zoo employees. When I ran over to them, he was telling them his brother's name, and that he was 7. After giving me a few dirty looks, the zoo ladies released him to me. I hugged him and asked him where he'd been. He said he'd gone back to the tubes and then couldn't find me, so he found someone that worked there and said he couldn't find his mom. I was so proud of him!!! I hugged him and told him he'd done exactly the right thing. I then told Scooby what he'd done, and as the big brother, he congratulated him too. Scary for a few moments, but nice to know that the lessons have sunk in.
We've been keeping pretty busy here. I've been doing one or two shows per week with the murder mystery group, and preparing a message which I'll be speaking at church this weekend. We've also been trying to locate and destroy a bees nest somewhere outside the attic windows. That involved moving many boxes and vacuuming up lots of dead bees. We then had to bring up all the air conditioners, and Don decided to seal the attic windows with plastic for the winter. That involved moving more boxes, and discussing thoroughly the contents of each one, and did we really need to save all those baby clothes? Don also replaced our kitchen sink faucet, which had rusted completely through and squirted water in every direction when turned on, and the handle to our dishwasher, which broke off the other morning. He's been quite the mister fixit!
We're working on night training with Cinderella. Not a whole lot of success so far. Scooby made a chart for her though, with rewards listed for each level of success. He's getting frustrated that he can't check off boxes on the chart, but no more frustrated than I am with the changing of the sheets every night! Oh well, we're almost there.
Oh, and totally random - one of my new favorite shows is Studio 60. Check it out, if you haven't already. It's funny, smart (although sometimes a little too self-consciously smart) and it deals in a really healthy way with some tension between a Christian character and the rest of the characters. I recommend it. (The show, not necessarily the tension!)
Peace out!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

(*&#&$#*)(@ Snack Day

I can handle learning lines for seven murder mysteries and being asked to perform any one of them on a moment's notice. I can handle directing a show with a cast of 20 people and coordinating all their schedules and trying to create something of artistic integrity with very little to work with. I can handle picking up sick kids at school and keeping my car running and folding five loads of laundry and signing permission slips. But SNACK DAY kicks my butt. Every time. I always forget until the last minute when it's someone's turn to bring in the snack and end up either buying something at midnight the night before or throwing something together. Today, Tarzan brought in a gallon sized zip-lock bag filled Cheerios, Kix, pretzels, goldfish and raisins. He glared at me and said, "Well, I'm only going to eat the Cheerios. Everything else is yucky." Who's the Mom of the Year? That's right...ME!!!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Emotional Therapy

(found on another blog)
List ten things you want to say to people you know but you never will, for whatever reason. Don’t say who they are. Use each person only once.

1. Stop whining so much.
2. You are the smartest person I know; now figure out a way to enjoy it.
3. I envy your happiness.
4. Yes, I do think you talk too much.
5. You're allowed to not be funny all the time.
6. You're not as smart as you think you are.
7. Appreciate him, because he won't be around forever.
8. Get over it...the world doesn't revolve around you.
9. I'm disappointed in who you've become.
10. I hope you realize how lucky you are to have her.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


landslide video

I'm not used to posting links; so see if this works. Click on the video link above and find the video called "Workers try to remove debris on Rt. 65". Then press play and wait patiently through the commercial.

This is about 2 miles from our house, on the road that passes directly in front of us, just on the other side of the railroad tracks. This particular section of the road doesn't affect our travel that much - I only go that way a couple of times per week, not every day. But as of tonight the traintracks are shut down!!! Blessed silence. Hey, you've got to look for silver linings, right? Of course, after they reopen, it will probably be all trains, all day long, 24/7, to clear up the backlog. But, I shall sleep well tonight.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Stupid Primetime

The whole reason I don't usually watch Primetime, Dateline, or those other "pseudo-news" shows, especially when they have stories about children, is because they always make me walk away hating the world in which I'm bringing up my babies. Last night's Primetime was about Mean Girls on the Internet...how they write horrible things to each other in chat-rooms and on message boards; how they doctor others girl's messages to make them seem crueler; how they post slutty pictures of themselves and their friends. And the clincher was a story about a middle school boy who was incredibly sweet and gentle, and also a little developmentally delayed, so of course he was called gay, and a loser, and bullied mercilessly by girls who used to be his friends. He hanged himself when he was 14. Now does this kind of programming make me want to send my little ones proudly out the door to the schoolbus? No, it does not. Already my kids are frighteningly computer savvy - although their usage is currently limited to PCGames on CD or websites like NickJr and PBSkids.org. But who knows what they'll discover next? They will not be allowed to have computers in their rooms, and I will totally be expecting Don to hack into any email accounts or online journals or blogs that they have. It's just one more thing to worry about, and who really needs that???? I'm so concerned about raising healthy kids, and smart kids, and responsible kids, and active kids...but what I really care about most is raising NICE kids, GOOD kids, CARING kids. I want them to love themselves and their friends, and to stick up for the kids who are being picked on. I want them to be secure enough in themselves to step away from the crowd when they need to and to reach out to those who are outcasts. Now, how do I do that?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Just stuff

Oh, yes. We're definitely back in school. Cinderella's had strep, and the boys both have runny noses and fevers. They haven't complained of sore throats, so I haven't had them strep tested yet. I hope I'm not being that "carrier" mom who spreads it throughout the whole school! Unfortunately, I have to go in for a staff meeting today, so I have to drag Tarzan in with me, even though he feels like crap. If the Tylenol kicks in, I'll send him to preschool (which is at church anyway), and if not, he'll have to sit through staff with Cinderella and me. The staff loves me, let me tell you!
I went to the Halloween store yesterday and bought a Cleopatra type headdress for one of my murder mystery characters. I also bought some face paint crayons, because those are hard to find other times of the year. And you never know when you might need to paint someone's face! With the amount of money I've spent on costume pieces, this acting gig hasn't earned me a whole lot of money yet, but I'm sure having fun! I also just agree to teach a class on Thursday afternoons for the next six weeks. It's for ages 4-8 (so yes, they'll all be coming with me) and it's something about dramatizing poetry. I have no idea what the curriculum will be yet, I don't even know if they have something for me, or if I have to create it. Should be interesting!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Back To School

Only brief comments today, and then some pictures. There is no turning back now...never again will my babies be not-yet in school. They have boarded the education train, and she's rolling down the tracks. Also, Cinderella is already feeling better - I love pink drugs.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Off to the Doctor

Well, I'm taking Cinderella in to the Doctor this afternoon. She's still acting weird - really lethargic and crabby, and it's been almost a week, so she's going in. Hopefully it won't be too traumatic. She started preschool yesterday with a 50 minute "phase-in" session (don't get me started on the phase-in process...so stupid!) and did fine, so she'll probably act completely fine in the Dr.'s office too and start complaining again as soon as we hit the parking lot. Tarzan starts his phase-in today - he's very excited! First day of school pictures coming soon!

Later...well, she tested positive for strep. So it's not some kind of weird brain injury, which is good, and I should have taken her in sooner. Bad mommy. And no preschool tomorrow. Bummer. But, on the plus side, the amoxycillin (sp?) is PINK! Her favorite color! And apparantly doesn't taste too bad either. Tarzan had a great time in school and was reportedly very kind to a new little boy who was nervous and missed his mom.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Time to Grow

Our pastor this weekend gave a message on it being "Time to Grow". The summer was our time of abiding, he said, and that it was now time to grow. (The scripture reference was "I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in me will bear much fruit, but apart from Me you can do nothing" That's a loose translation)
He said our lives need to be approached with intentionality, and that it was time to refocus our the areas where we need to improve and develop. Now, I completely agree that we need to live our lives intentionally, and one of my personal areas of focus is currently trying to identify those times when I'm letting my life slip by me while I'm making other plans (or zoning out in front of the TV, or mindlessly surfing the net...) and to refocus on the life before me. To pay attention, in other words. And I also believe in identifying areas of our lives where we need to cultivate change. Right now, one of those areas for me is being more disciplined in my writing...Not to say that the writing will always be cogent or worth the time it takes to read, but that the act of writing itself is good for my brain. It helps me to focus, and to be present in my own life. However, I took issue with being told that it was "Time to Grow." Surely growth is a natural outcome - something which occurs when the conditions are ripe, and cannot be forced to occur simply because of someone else's wishes or desires. It's like the story in Frog and Toad, where Toad tries to grow a garden, and every day goes out to the patch of dirt and shouts "Grow, seeds! Grow!" When they don't immediately shoot up, Frog tells him that he may have scared the seeds out of growing. I can't grow simply because I'm being told it's time. What I can do is make sure that I'm being nurtured - back to exploring what those things are that bring me life. That I'm being cared for, by myself and others. That I'm being challenged and inspired. Then, hopefully, growth will happen.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Ha ha!!!! I found it! It totally does not translate as funny as hearing it sung, but here are the lyrics anyway. It's from a show called Songs for a New World. Enjoy!

Artist: Jessica Molaskey Lyrics
Song: Surabaya-Santa Lyrics
I was just seventeen
When you rode into town
Just a girl full of fantasies and longing
I saw you
I knew I had to be with you

Then you looked in my eyes
And you asked me my name
And I trembled before you like a baby
Then gently I kissed you
Who could resist you?
You took my heart and soul

And before I had a chance to take control
We retired to your palace on the Pole
Where we only had ourselves
And the reindeer and the elves
And a lot of things we never said
About the life I could have led
If I had had the sense to stay away

But here we are Nick
And so Nick
I know it's time for you to go Nick
I know by now I'll never claim you for my own
I've been resigned to spend my Christmases alone
And so au revoir Nick
It's grand Nick
I don't pretend to understand Nick
I saw you look at Blitzen long and lovingly
The way you used to look at me

I have sat twenty years
In this drafty retreat
As the latest in the line of Mrs. Clauses
I've sat here
And wondered what you want from me
But you sit by yourself
On the couch in the den
And you watch "Miracle on 34th Street"
You get sad and dreamy
Can't even see me
Won't even say, "Hello!"

Now you tell me that it's time for you to go
Sling your sack upon your back and "Ho, ho, ho!"
And what matters most of all
Is to sit inside some mall
And you never think of me
While I am pining by the tree
But never mind
I will survive
While you are gone

I set you free, Nick
Goodbye, Nick
Go ride your reindeer through the sky, Nick
I don't suppose you'll ever want me by your side
I know you now
You want a plaything, not a bride
So on your way, Nick
Shalom, Nick
Don't feel the need to hurry home, Nick
Should I want comfort in the cold and bitter storm
I've got the elves to keep me warm

Oh, oh, Nick, I didn't mean it. I'm just going crazy all cooped up in here! Oh, Nick, I mean, come on, I'm not even German.
Please take me with you. Please! I'm your wife damn it. Isn't there one once of human decency buried beneath all those layers
of fat? You disgust me! Oh yes, It's so easy to judge, isn't it? Deciding who's naughty and who's nice? Well, who died and
left you God, Mr. Claus? Hmph.

But never mind, Nick
Okay, Nick
I hate to keep you from your sleigh, Nick
When you return I will be many miles away
I'll have my lawyer call your lawyer
New Years Day!

That's all from me, Nick
Gain way, Nick
I'll miss you less than I can say, Nick
Have fun with all the little boys along the route
I'll get the mansion and the factory to boot
I will not wait until the snow beneath me thaws
I will escape
Your Santa claws!!

It's all fun and games until someone puts their eye out

I went to a cabaret type fundraiser last night and heard a friend of mine sing this fabulous song...and now I can't remember what it's called!! It's sung by Santa's wife, and it's all about how she's leaving him because he seems to prefer the reindeer over her, and it's marvelously funny. I'm going to try to find the lyrics and post them, although it won't be nearly as effective without hearing Becki's performance of it. She's one of the funniest people I've ever met in my life, and she has an incredible voice - chest voice, head voice, musical theater, legit, funny accents, she can do it all. I met some really nice people, and had a great time.
On the down side, something's bothering Cinderella. She fell down a couple of days ago and bumped her nose on the side of the computer. There was a small scratch on the outside which bled a little, but it didn't look serious, and she stopped crying after a couple of minutes. Ever since then, though, she'll rub her nose and start crying, saying it hurts. It's not the side that had the scratch, so I'm wondering if she did something to the inside. She's also been really tired and crabby ever since then. I hope it's nothing more than the "three's". I'll watch her for a couple of days, and if she's still complaning about it, I'll call the Dr., who can then force a flashlight up her nose, and poke and prod it with his hand until she's totally freaked about the pain and doctors in general, and then tell me he can't see anything wrong. Kind of like what happened with her ears when she was a baby. She still doesn't like her ears being looked at. Plus, she just had a well-child checkup the morning before this fall! She weighs 28 pounds now - only 3 behind Tarzan! I told him he'd better start eating more, or she'll catch up to him and start beating him up.
Oh, someone also sang "The Scotsman" at this cabaret - I didn't know there was another verse at the end...J, you've been holding out!!!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Happy Birthday, Cinderella!

My baby girl is three years old! I can hardly believe it. It really is true that while the days pass slowly sometimes, the years fly by. Even though you have two brothers, and most of your playmates are boys, you are definitely a girly-girl. You love to dress up in shiny clothes, you love to dance, you love necklaces and rings and purses and hats. You are the Princess of the family, and you relish that position. Like most three's, you have a highly independent and stubborn streak, and aren't above physically making your demands known if you need to. You don't let anyone push you around! You really love playing with your babydolls, your dollhouse, and coloring. You have a great attention span when playing with little toys, and you also love to swing, climb, and ride your bike. You love to give hugs and kisses, but get very hurt when your brothers have had enough of them and want you to go away. You're starting preschool next week,
and you're very excited. You've been working hard to use the potty and wear big-girl pants so you can go to preschool, and I'm SO happy about that. You love Dora the Explorer, and have been suckered in by the Disney Princess franchise.

You stink at taking naps, but you sleep pretty well at night. You already know how to flirt, and pose. You are everything I hoped for and feared in a little girl, and I love you SO much. Happy Birthday, Cinderella!!!


What things bring you life? What things drain you? These are questions that I've been asked a couple of times in the past few weeks by different people...sometimes it seems that's how God works to get my attention - He'll hit me over the head a few times by having totally unconnected people talk to me about exactly the same issues. Fall, back to school, back to work, it always seems to be a time of reflection and self-evaluation for me. Much more so than "New Year's" Day, which seems to be a pretty random time of year for re-invention. But this time of year, the kid's are all starting new schedules, Scooby's in 2nd grade, Tarzan in 4-year old preschool 3x per week, and Cinderella's in 3-year old preschool 2x per week. I'm starting new projects at church and in the theater group, we're back to getting up early in the mornings. (Okay, we got up early all summer, as I've been cursed with early riser kids, but now we're actually showering, dressing, and going places early in the morning.) It's a time for shaking off the summer laziness and getting serious again. Blech.
So what brings me life? Conversations with a certain few people in my life. Being near the ocean. God, I miss the ocean out here in the land of the three rivers. Rivers just aren't the same. Singing on the worship team. Reading a good book. Getting outdoors and running, or even walking. Rehearsing the mystery shows. When the kids are sweet to each other - helping each other out, or hugging each other for no particular reason. The fact that Cinderella's almost pottytrained! (Hooray!) The beach.
What drains me? Conversations with other certain people in my life. Having to call just about anyone on the phone. Cooking dinner when I know it's going to be met with whining and complaining every time. Getting up in the dark. Trying to gather people together to "form a community" artificially. (Part of my job at church which I'm trying to change) Playing with Little People toys. I don't know why, I should like it, but I don't! Being so far away from my family. Being so far away from the ocean.
There seems to be a theme here doesn't there? Now if anyone can tell me how to pick up my life here and transfer it to the ocean, that would be much appreciated.
I'm going to try to make writing more of a discipline for myself. It won't always be blog writing, but hopefully sometimes it will. I didn't start a blog to have it hanging out there reproaching me with it's lack of entries. So, for the time being, I'm back, and trying to hold on to the things that bring life, amid all the scheduling and readjusting to things.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Oh, the squalor

There is a fly that has taken up residence in my kitchen for the past four days. It's not a big fly, or even particularly bothersome, as far as flies go. The trouble is, I can't find the fly swatter, and any fly in my kitchen AT ALL makes me feel as though I'm living in total squalor. Somehow, the very fact of the fly highlights the sticky spots on the table, the crumbs on the counter, the week-old spaghetti sauce Rorschach pattern on the stove. Without the fly, these things seem tolerable. With the fly, total trailer trash. Can't explain it, really, but there it is.
I've really been dragging the past couple of days...I don't know if it's the muggy rainy weather, PMS, or some kind of bug, (perhaps some kind of intestinal kitchen fly!) but it's been making me feel like a squeezed out sponge. I'm going to try to get out and run (or at least walk with enthusiasm) tomorrow morning, and maybe that will help. It's supposed to be at least partly sunny tomorrow, and that may help too.

Overheard today in the car - a song by Cinderella:
"Oh, I'm luv marshmallows, and goldfish,
Oh, I'm luv marshmallows and goldfish, and fishies,
and I'm have toenails,
Oh, the sun and the moon, Oh yeah,
I'm going peepee.....on the potty,
And I'm luv marshmallows, and cups, and signs,
Oh nanooo, ooo, nah....the sun...."

Is this how Bob Dylan started?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy Birthday, Scooby!

It's still birthday season here. We had another party on Monday, and the weather cleared up in time for a hot, sunny, raucous little boy birthday party. We celebrated with a baseball theme this year, in honor of Scooby's newfound passion for the game (although not for the Pirates, unfortunately, as they are very difficult to root for!!)
We made baseball picture frames, played pin the hat on the ballplayer, had a relay race with spoons and balls, and lots of yummy treats to eat. I think he had a really nice time and it was especially nice to have Grandma and Grandpa AND Granny all here to celebrate with us.
So Scooby, you're a big seven year old now...big front teeth, goofy grin, and all. You are my creative thinker, my storyteller, my craft-maker. You have definite visions for how you want your world to be, and plans for how to get there. You have great ideas for stories, games, projects, contraptions...you love to see how things work and try to replicate it yourself. You're a thinker - you're big question has always been "Why?" (Just as Tarzan's has been "What if....?" and Cinderella's has been "What are you doing?") You're a cuddly snuggler, and capable of being extremely silly and goofy - all good qualities to have! You are my firstborn, my long awaited beloved son, and I'm so grateful to have you in my life. Happy Birthday, big boy!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I have a preference!

Okay, I definitely prefer the noisy non-napper to the stealth bomber. Yesterday, Cinderella managed to cross a threshold that I thought I had escaped...and had, so far, with the boys. Yes, she finger-painted her new big-girl bed with poop. The mesh side rails, the white comforter, the pillow. And did she feel bad about it? Was she afraid to tell me? No. (Her) "Mama, my hand poopy." (Me) "What? WHY is your hand poopy? What ELSE is poopy?" (Her) "Oh. My bed." As if to say, oh, that old thing? Funny you should ask. And today, I find out that she has peeled off all the decorative flowers, sequins, etc. that were on the letter "E" that Grandpa had made for her and hid them under the bed. Um, E for Cinder-ELLA, of course. She is by far the most destructive of the three, and so freakin' quiet about it.
When she's not weeping loudly for absolutely no reason, of course. (Me) "Why are you crying?" (Her) "I (sob) don't (sob, sob, wail) know!!!!"
Looking forward to Grandma and Grandpa coming to visit this weekend...unless of course they change their minds after reading this!!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Tarzan!

Well, you're 4 years old today. You woke up with a smile and said, "Today I'm lucky!" Of course the big party was yesterday, so you're a little bleary eyed, and wanting to play with all the new toys at once - for 3 seconds at a time. Favorite gifts so far - a scooter, and a spiderman chair that folds out into a futon. Last night when you went to bed, I said, "Tomorrow when you wake up, you'll be four!" And you said, "Really? How will I change?" "You probably won't feel any different," I said, "But you'll really be four." And this morning, after feeling lucky, you said, "You're right, Mom. I don't feel any different. But I think my laugh grew." Which is probably very true. Your laugh gets bigger every year. And so does the rest of you!. You're starting to leave toddler-hood behind, and entering the world of a fully developed PERSON. Of course, you've always been strong of personality. You entered the world with feistiness and determination, cried through your first 12 weeks, and emerged...fiesty and determined. Some might say stubborn. But with a huge sense of humor, a highly contagious giggle, and a definate cuddly streak. You are my clown, my performer, my acrobat. Although a middle child, there's no danger of you being left out or not getting enough attention! You are an action hero come to life - last year you had a Spiderman birthday, this year a Batman one. Running, jumping, tumbling, swimming, wrestling - you only stop when sleep overtakes you, and that's always a fight too. I'm so proud of you, my little man. Keep on fighting for your place in the sun. Keep on making everyone around you smile with you. Keep on enjoying your life. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Girls are sneaky

Tarzan was never a good sleeper from day one. He fought sleep loudly, voraciously, and firmly. He often still does, although he's gotten a little better at it...I like to think we've worn him down with our firm, consistent parenting, but more likely, he's just more tired since he usually doesn't nap anymore.
Cinderella, however, was always a good sleeper...until we removed the pacifier.
Since then she has napped...twice.
And now that we've moved her into the big-girl bed, she can be mobile while she's not sleeping.
Unlike Tarzan, however, she doesn't stand at the top of the stairs and yell, "MOM!!!!!MOM!!!!MOM!!!" for 15 straight minutes. No, she is a girl, so she is sneaky.
Yesterday I went into my room after "naptime" and found a row of clean washclothes lined up on the floor, like some kind of bath-themed firing squad. Had I heard her in my room? No. Did I ever find out the reason for the elegant procession of washcloths? no.
Just now I went up to check on her, opened her bedroom door, and lo! She was not there. Again, she was in my room, looking very suspiciously innocent. No washcloths lined up this time. Perhaps she was just beginning to plot the demise of another laundry item, or maybe she was doing something completely different that I haven't yet discovered.
Which is better? I kind of like the quiet of the sneaky non-napper, but it was nice to know exactly what was going on with the noisy one. I guess time will tell.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

They're growing up too fast!!!

Tarzan had his last day of preschool today. He won awards for 1st place in the Basketball Throw, and second place in the Penguin Race. He stood right in the front of the class and sang all the songs and then made funny faces until everyone laughed. All the kids wrote prayers for their teachers and collected them in a prayer jar. Tarzan's went like this: For Ms. Cheryl - I pray that she will be good. She is very nice. She is silly. For Ms. Lynda - She has nice hair. She puts on the clean-up song when it is time to clean up. I pray that she will not be sad when Ms. Cheryl is gone.
Scooby's last day of school is tomorrow. He wrote a poem about his school because they are renovating it next year, and he will be bussed to another school 20 minutes away. He wrote: "Osborne is being changed. Osborne is getting better. Osborne is my favorite school. Even though it will LOOK different, the memories will still be in the walls. Goodbye school! See you in third grade!" He also had his first orthodontic consultation. Dr. Forrest says it's not a matter of IF he'll need braces, just a matter of when. He said we'll let the roots grow a little more, and we'll come back in October for a "spacer".
Cinderella is graduating into a "big girl" bed. We repainted her walls yellow, and I stenciled an ivy border across the top. She's getting Aunt Melissa's old canopy bed, and it should be all ready to go by tomorrow night. Sigh.
I miss my babies.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Today's bit of narcissism

I copied these questions from a bulletin board on myspace.com. I actually have a myspace...space, but I don't know how to do anything there. So I copied it over to here, where I know how to do stuff. I don't know all the official "blog language", but if I "tag" everyone who reads this post, why don't you answer it too? (Except Becki, since she's the one I stole this from on myspace!)

Where did you take your default pic?
Okay, I don't actually have a default picture on this site, but on myspace, it's one of me in Aruba with the big stuffed gorilla in a hammock.
What exactly are you wearing right now?
Blue velour sweats and pink breast cancer awareness shirt.
What is your current problem?
Damn kids won't nap.
What makes you most happy?
Lots of sleep, good books, great sex. (Sorry Mom)
If you could go back in time and change something would you?
Yes. Many many many things.
Name something obvious about you:
I need to run more often.
What's the name of the song that you're listening to?
Nothing right now. The Grey's Anatomy theme song is running through my head, though.
Any celeb you would marry?
I already married George Michael. Or at least someone who looked a heck of a lot like him when we met!
Name somene with the same birthday as you:
I dunno.
Do you have a crush on someone?
Can you tell these are myspace questions? Not really.
Ever sang in front of a large audience?
Once or twice.
What do you usually order from Starbucks?
Grande no-fat no-whip mocha latte.
Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity?
I used to hear Natalie Wood, but that was a long time ago.
Do you still watch kiddy movies or kiddie TV shows?
Um...all the time. Not necessarily by choice...
Do you speak any other languages?
Used to speak some French, and all the Spanish one can pick up from Sesame Street, Maya and Miguel, and Dora the Explorer. "Come on, vamanos!"
What magazines do you read?
Parenting, Reader's Digest, Architecture Digest, Redbook.
Have you ever ridden in a Hummer limo?
No. This is a dumb question.
Has anyone you've been really close with passed away?
Do you ever watch MTV?
No, but Don does, so I catch some of the stupidity that flashes by.
What's something that really annoys you?
Umbrellas bumping the top of my head.
Chapter 1:Middle name:
Current location:
A chair in the blue room, Sewickley, PA
Eye color:
Chapter 2:Do you live with your parents:
Do you get along with your parents:
Yes, totally.
Are your parents married/separated/divorced:
Married 40 years! Yippee!
Do you have any siblings:
Older sister, Younger sister, younger brother
Chapter 3:FavoritesIce cream flavor:
So many to choose from...chocolate chip cookie dough and white turtle
Late Spring/Early Summer
Head and Shoulders (yes, I admit it) and Pantene
Chapter 4:Do You ...Sing in the shower:
Not really.
Write on your hand:
Call people back:
Only if I have to. I love email!!!!
Believe in love:
Yes, and He's a person.
Sleep on a certain side of the bed:
Yes, the side that's not Don's. He's very picky about it.
Have any bad habits:
No. Absolutely not. Ha ha.
Chapter 5:Have You Ever ...Broken a bone:
Yes, arm at Higley.
Gotten stitches:
Taken painkillers:
Just aspirin-type things. Even during/after childbirth. Yay me!
Gone SCUBA diving:
No, but I did snorkle twice!
Thrown up in a restaurant?
I don't think so. Cars are my barforama of choice.
Sworn in front of your parents:
A little, but they started it!
Had detention:
No. But I was suspended for a week. Totally undeserved.
Been sent to the principal's office:
For the above mentioned suspension.
Chapter 6:Who/What was the last ...Person to text you?
Nobody texts me.
What did it say:
See above answer.
Person to call you:
My mom.
Person you hugged:
My son Tarzan.
Person you tackled?
My son Scooby.
Thing you touched:
Besides the keyboard? My son Scooby's new book that he's insisting I look at RIGHT THIS SECOND!!!
Thing you ate:
A piece of Easter candy from my kid's stash.
Thing you drank:
Thing you said:
"You do not have to go potty!" and "Just a minute!"

The End.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mother's Day Message

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!!!

Mother’s Day Message - May 2006

Before I say anything else, I want to introduce myself. My name is Amy Dunlap and I’m the Director of the Drama Ministry here at St. Philip’s. But more importantly, I’m the mother of (Scooby), age 6, (Tarzan), age 3, and (Cinderella), age 2. I love being their Mom. They are my pride and joy, and I love them more than life itself. I think it’s important for me to say that first, and you’ll understand why as I progress with my message.

So we were sitting in our creative team meeting a couple of weeks ago, and Eric (our pastor) says, "Mother's Day again. I've preached on Mother's Day so many times. What else is there to say? What do mothers need to hear?" Let me tell you, my response was instantaneous, and visceral...right from my gut. "We need to hear we don't stink as Mothers!" Actually, I used another word than stink, but I don't feel comfortable using it in front of you all. Eric and the other men in the room were surprised by the vehemence of my response, but the other Mom in the room knew exactly what I meant. The feeling of failure as a parent, and the guilt that accompanies it can be practically immobilizing. It can defeat you, plunge you into depression, and make you completely ineffective in God's Kingdom. Do these phrases sound familiar to any of you? "If I were a good mother, my children wouldn't talk back, fight, or whine. Good mothers have better discipline. Good mothers have more patience. Good mothers don’t yell. Good mothers have clean houses. Good mothers cook nutritious dinners every night. Good mothers don’t forget when it’s their turn for snack day. Good mothers have theme birthday parties and hand-sew their children's Halloween costumes." Any of this sounding familiar? I could go on and on. I could go on because these feelings are all mine.

So because I was so emphatic and passionate about my response, Eric decided that I should be the one to get up here and talk about this to you all. But please know, I'm not here as an expert with all the answers to this issue. I'm here because this is probably the biggest struggle in my life, with the deepest roots, and the most far-reaching implications.One of my favorite television shows is Grey's Anatomy, which is about new interns in a surgical residency struggling to maintain a balance between their personal and professional lives. In one of the early episodes, the five interns are seen sprawling in various stages of exhaustion after a grueling day, where they never seemed to know enough, and where the stakes are literally life and death.

One of the interns, George, blurts out "Who here feels like they have no idea what they're doing?" And every one of them raises their hand.Well, if I were to ask that question today in a room full of parents, I'd bet that if folks were being completely honest, a whole lot of hands would be raised into the air. There are many, many moments in my day when I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. In fact, there are many moments in my day when I feel like a total and complete failure. I’ll give you some examples.

Now, it’s not like I have this big dramatic story to tell you – like leaving my kids in the car in 90 degree weather while I go and drink at the Seashell Lounge. It’s really not that dramatic at all. It’s more like Chinese water torture…drip after drip after drip, until you feel like you might go crazy. There was the time when my two year old had a complete meltdown in Barnes and Noble, and I had to carry her under my arm, screaming at the top of her lungs, out to the car, where I then had to physically hold her down and force her into her car seat. I was completely covered with sweat by the time she was buckled in. It doesn’t seem right that such a little body can exert so much force! Or when my middle child was a newborn, and pooped on my friend’s brand new off-white shag carpet while I was changing him – right after I had declined her offer for a towel to put under him. Or when I found out my first grader had cheated on a spelling test. Or when I gave the kids peanut butter and jelly for dinner again, and my son asked me why we can’t ever have a real dinner – like Granny cooks. Or the many times when I have been so overwhelmed with frustration and anger that I’ve found myself shaking, and red-faced, and screaming at the kids like some toothless, flip-flop wearing Jerry Springer guest. More than once, I have cried myself to sleep at night because of the shame I feel from failing my children.

And as if the sometimes overwhelming struggle to simply get through each day isn’t enough, when I consider the fact that I am also responsible for spiritual formation of these young lives and how great my sphere of influence is right now, and how short a time I have…I want to crawl under the covers and hide. It’s just too much! The very job sets us up to fail. It's impossible. I asked my own mother this week what she thought a Mom’s job was. She said, “To love unconditionally – no matter how rotten the kids are.” I don’t know why she would say a thing like that to me, her perfect daughter…but even that is impossible. Sometimes I don’t feel love for my kids. Sometimes, I don’t even like them very much. And I’ve only been doing this for seven years – I can’t imagine what the teen years are going to be like. Actually, I told Don he gets them as soon as they hit puberty. He likes hanging out with that age, so he can have them. I got the diapers, he gets the hormones.

And you know what? I guarantee you, I am not alone. I have talked to other Moms about this, and the response was universal. We all feel guilty for failing our children, and we all feel like bad mothers, at least some of the time. In fact, when I went online and Googled the phrase "Mother Guilt", there were over 15 million hits that matched. 15 million! That gave me some confidence that I’m not the only one to struggle with this.

Now to be honest, I started to get a little ticked off with God when I realized just how universal these feelings are. Why would he put us in such an important position and give us such enormous responsibilities when there's no possible way that we can do it? Those feelings of guilt and failure? Well, guess what. They're accurate. It's true. When I try to fulfill all the expectations of others and of myself in my own power, I am a failure as a mother. And so are you. But wait, don't leave yet. There's more. Here is where the kingdom of God comes in, and turns everything upside down. Which is so God, isn't it? Let's look at the reading again.

2 Corinthians 12: 7-10"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

After describing a pretty amazing and unusual spiritual experience, Paul then reveals how God allowed a thorn in his flesh to prevent him from becoming proud. Scholars don’t all agree as to exactly what this “thorn” was, but it is generally believed to be something physical in nature, perhaps having to do with Paul’s eyesight. Whatever it was, however, it was troublesome enough that Paul pleaded with the Lord three times to remove it. God said no. Not only did He say no, He said that His grace is sufficient, now and forever, and that His power is made perfect in weakness. Do you hear that? Not only that God will give Paul the strength to eke by, to struggle though the times of hardship, to just barely make it over the mountain, but that God’s power is made PERFECT in weakness. What are the thorns that God has allowed in your life? For me, one of them is impatience. I can’t stand it when I feel like someone’s holding me back, or not moving at my pace. It’s why I can’t get through a weekday morning without raising my voice to my first grader. Why does it have to take ten minutes to brush his teeth? Why? Why does it take everyone so long to get their shoes on? Or take a bath? It drives me crazy! It’s a thorn in my life. And it keeps me humble, because I continue to struggle with it, again and again.

See, what God is doing here is giving Paul, and the rest of us, a message of grace. We often think that without human strength we are destined to fail and without personal courage we are bound to falter. But even though strength and courage are good things, having too much of them can cause us to seek self-sufficiency and not God-dependency. God shows us how weak we are in and of ourselves because He wants us to trust in Him - not in our gifts or abilities, our experience, or our spiritual reserves. Just about the time we feel self-confident and able to meet the enemy, we fail miserably. And our weakness enables us to experience the power of Christ.Grace is God's provision for our every need, when we need it. The grace of God transforms our weakness into God’s perfect power. The weakness isn’t just replaced, but transformed into a gift - a blessing.

God has ample grace for our every need, but He doesn’t give it in advance. Hebrews 4:16 says we come by faith to the throne of grace "that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help us in our time of need." Our time of need – not to greedily fill up our pockets in advance, so that we can meet our own needs when the time arrives. It’s like when the Israelites collected the manna in the wilderness. The manna was there every morning, sufficient for the day. But if they tried to horde it or save it, it went rotten. They were forced to trust in God’s mercies anew every morning.There’s a great example of this in The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. The child Corrie is concerned about not having the inner strength she will need to face the future. Her father reminds her that when they go on a trip to Amsterdam, he gives her her ticket right before they get on the train. And likewise, our Heavenly Father, in His wisdom, gives us what we need on our journey at the very moment that we need it. See, we would much prefer that God would orchestrate our lives so as to prevent those moments of weakness from ever occurring, but what He does is wait until we discover that we can’t do it on our own, until we crash, until we need Him, until we ask for Him, and then He says, “Look. Look what I can do with even this.”

I mentioned earlier that our weakness and failure can be transformed into a gift, and I’d like to unpack that just a bit. There are three ways that failure can be a gift. Failure is a gift to us because it reminds us that we are not God. Now most of you are probably saying, “Hey, I know I’m not God. What kind of conceited freak would think they were God?” But really, don’t we sometimes try to be God to our kids? Don’t you sometimes feel that if you did your job right, as a mom, that your kids would always be happy, healthy, smart and popular? Don’t you want to heal every wound, make straight every path, and give them all the wisdom, knowledge and experience they need to succeed in life? And doesn’t it feel good when you get a little adulation back? I was in the car last week, driving home from preschool, and I had neglected to pack the sippy cups in the diaper bag. Of course, whenever I forget, that's when the kids are dying of thirst. And as I'm sure you all know, it's really impossible to reason with a two and three year old about the distance between here and there, and how long it will take, and the amount of forbearance necessary to tide you over. Instead, all I heard was "But I'm thirsty! I'm thirsty, Mama! I'm thirsty NOW!" Finally, in exasperation, I said, "Well, I can't make water for you out of nothing. I'm not Jesus!" To which my daughter replied, in all her toddler wisdom, "Mama, you not Jesus, you Mama!" See, she gets it. Too often, we try to be Jesus to our kids. We try to meet all their needs - spiritual, physical, emotional, and we can't do it, because we're not God! Failure reminds us that there are things and people that we cannot control. There are things we can't fix or manage. There are areas of our kids’ lives that only God can touch. And we are not Him!

Failure is also a gift to others, to tell them that you are not God. It’s part of the human condition to look for someone to heal your wounds and your brokenness. And many people are disappointed when they look to a leader, whether a corporate, political, or spiritual leader and that leader doesn’t meet their expectations. Or maybe it’s a relationship; a spouse, a parent, even a child who is expected to fill up all the emptiness and need. But as C.S. Lewis says, “Human beings can never really make each other happy for very long.” Salvation never comes from the side – from another traveler along the road – only from above.And children especially need to learn that their parents can not meet all of their needs, that their parents are not perfect. When we blame ourselves as mothers for our children’s failures or sins, when we take on guilt that isn’t ours, we are attempting to take Jesus’ place in their lives. My kids don’t need me to be their Savior – they need Jesus. They also don’t need a perfect Mother, to settle every argument, discipline every stray word and tame every rebellion. They have a Heavenly Father for that. And they need to learn to rely themselves on the Holy Spirit of God, and not expect me or their father to be able to meet their spiritual needs.

Finally, failure is a gift to God. When we offer our failures to God, we allow the Redeemer to redeem. We allow His power to become perfect. When we die to ourselves, God's resurrection power can go to work. God's power neither displaces weakness, nor overcomes it. On the contrary, it comes to full strength in it. Not that we are to cherish our infirmities. Weakness in and of itself will perfect nothing. But when the human vessel is weak, Divine power is especially evident.2 Cor. 4: 6-7 says "For God who said 'Let light shine out of darkness' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” Isn’t that a beautiful picture? The all-surpassing glory of God, this incredible treasure, being contained inside feeble, fallible, coarse, utilitarian vessels like us. The bizarre thing is, we get so busy trying to fill up our jars by ourselves – with relationships, recreation, work, anything to fill that emptiness inside. But God desires that emptiness, so that He can fill it with Himself. When we are too full of ourselves, we don’t leave any room for God.
Listen to these words by Sir Thomas Browne:
“If thou could’st empty thyself of self,
Like to a shell disinhabited,
Then He might find thee on the ocean shelf,
and say, “This is not dead,”
And fill thee with Himself instead.
But thou art all replete with very thou
And hast such shrewd activity,
That when He comes he says,
“This is enow Unto itself – ‘twere better let it be,
It is so small and full, there is no room for me.”

Our weakness is what will enable us to empty ourselves of ourselves, and make room for God’s power.

It is not our place to try to redeem our failures as parents, or the failures of our children. It is our job to develop a relationship and an intimacy with the Redeemer, Christ himself. Anytime we focus on our behavior and working harder, and running up the hill faster, and being better at what we do, we have already lost the battle. We need to focus instead on Christ, and on the battle He already won on the cross. Christ is the one who takes all our mistakes, sins, inadequacies, and failures, and changes them into something beautiful. He’s the one who takes our old messy human hearts, and replaces them with His perfect one. When we get out of the way, and let the Holy Spirit work in ourselves and our children, He can bring change, and conviction, and love, and joy. Then he can make us all vessels that will glorify Him.

God doesn’t look on us with disdain or contempt when he sees our failures. He looks on us with compassion and mercy. God desires to perfect His power in our weakness and to shine His light through our muddy jars of clay. Why don’t you offer up those areas of weakness to the Father right now? Maybe you’ve failed as a parent. Maybe your failure is in your relationship to your spouse, or to your own parents. Wherever it is, stop holding on to it and stop trying to hide it. Bring it into the light, and let God transform it into a blessing.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Better Day?

Today I began my slow, limping run again in the morning. I walked on Monday and Tuesday and took Wednesday off...and today I actually ran a little bit. My knees aren't happy, but it felt good to do it again.
Tonight is the first time we're trying Cinderella with no pacifier. I thought she went to sleep, but I hear her crying up there again now. I've been putting it off, but our dentist finally yelled at me, so here we go. This was hell with the boys...I'm hoping she'll be a little easier!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Well, I was right about the Gene Kelly nominations. Not a one! Bummer.
Also, Scooby has a cavity and he fell off a chair in school today and bruised his entire right cheekbone/eye socket. He looks like he was in a fight.
Cinderella has scrapes on both knees, an elbow, and two fingers from "playing" outside.
Tarzan, miraculously, is fine!
I'm working on my Mother's Day message which I'll be delivering at church this weekend. I think when it's done I'll post it on here - but don't feel obligated to read it. It's kind of long!
Here's to a better day tomorrow...

Monday, May 08, 2006

I'm Ba..a..a..ck!

The 2006 Spring Musical season has officially ended! I am now able to remove my seatbelt and move about the cabin. And a very unkempt and dusty cabin it is. I foresee some major spring cleaning in my immediate future. Yippee.
However, re-entry is taking some adjustment on my part and on the kids. They each asked me separately tonight who was going to babysit them. They didn't seem to believe me when I said I wasn't going anywhere!

Godspell, which I directed at my church, was completely wonderful! The show really came together well, the actors were funny, and sang great, and developed some real relationships with one another, both onstage and off. I got to reconnect with a dear friend, who agreed to act as Musical Director for us, and I made a couple of new friends in the cast. We're having a barbecue next week to all get together and hang out. In addition, we had almost 900 people come to see the show over the three nights - which is really an amazing turnout. I couldn't be happier about it!

Honk, Jr., which I directed at an elementary/junior high school came out fine. It certainly wasn't the same caliber as Godspell, but the kids did a good job, and it came together better than I thought it was going to last week. And now it's over!

Bye Bye Birdie ended about a month ago, but I've been waiting to hear if we were nominated for any Gene Kelly awards. (The High School musical equivalent of the Tony's) The nominations were supposed to be announced this weekend, but I didn't hear anything yet. Which probably means we didn't get any. I've previously won awards for choreography for Grease and for Pirates of Penzance. (Not to toot my own horn, but....well, I guess it's too late. I already did!)

I still have a couple of rehearsals scheduled for the Mystery Dinner Theater shows, and I have three shows lined up. Two in June and one in August. One is called "I Spy Five Spies...Well, Four Spies and a Detective", in which I play Mata Horny - a cross between Mata Hari and Carol Burnett's Nora Desmond character. Another is "The Tragic Demise of Alfred the Squatty" in which I am Brunhilde, Queen of Gothland. Think Xena crossed with Rosie O'Donnell. And the third is "Star Trek XII: The Search for An Original Idea", where I play Dr. Pusher. I just got that script today, so I can't really describe the character yet. It has been a lot of fun rehearsing with my old friends, but a lot of long hours too. They take their comedy very seriously in this group. Which is nice, but I'd like to get a couple more shows booked to make it worth the time I've put in.

The kids are doing fine...Scooby had his first T-ball game on Saturday, which I missed because of Honk, but Don took some pictures and video, and I took some before he went. Tarzan had his preschool presentation at church on Sunday, and absolutely stole the show with his cuteness. Even with the nose picking, he was by far the cutest one up there. And, as he said, "I had to pick my nose, because everybody didn't want to see boogies!" Cinderella had a massive splinter in her finger tonight which required the other four of us to hold her down/distract her while it was removed. THAT was fun.

Oh, other fun things? My dishwasher quit working and I had my first fender bender this afternoon. I backed up into some rich Sewickley lady's freaking expensive SUV and broke her taillight. I've always considered it my job to maintain a pristine driving record to counteract Don's on our insurance, but I guess I blew that today. On the plus side, I have the cutest kids in the universe.

This is Scooby's T-Ball uniform. He plays for the Giants. I don't think any irony was intended. Notice the "Big Ben's Beef Jerky" sponsorship.

Tarzan's Cowboy outfit from his Preschool Show.
Cinderella, just hanging out.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Still Here, Really

I know, I know. How pathetic am I for the small amount of bloggage. I'm still here. One show down, two to go. Bye bye, to Bye Bye Birdie. Yippee! Although Cinderella does occasionally break into a chorus of "we love you, Conrad" But it's very cute when she does it!
Four more weeks, and I'll be back to "normal" life!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

All Hail the Wee Folk

Well, I caved. Maybe it was the chocolate chip cookie he left the leprechaun yesterday. Or maybe it was this morning's note: Dear Leprechaun, Plese leve me one just one piece of gold. Form: D.D. For Leprechaun
I crumbled the cookie, took the note, and left a polished rock painted with a gold glitter shamrock on it. Maybe I've crimped his creativity, but he'll sure be happy in the morning.

Holiday Traditions

How necessary is it that I, as a mother, participate in/encourage my children's desire for holiday traditions? We already have quite a few. We do the whole Santa thing - stockings, leaving milk and cookies, writing a note, listening to the bell from "Santa's sleigh" to see if we really, truly, beleive. (Thanks Polar Express)We do an Easter egg hunt, and the Easter bunny leaves cutout paper footprints from the kids' rooms to the baskets in the morning. The tooth fairy visits and leaves not only money, but a sprinkling of fairy dust, and sometimes a note, depending on the difficulty of losing the tooth. We make Valentine's for each other, and the kids sign their names to the store-bought Batman and Scooby kid valentines. Really, there's quite enough to fill our days with nostalgic joy and fond memories.
So why do I feel so much guilt about refusing to enter in to Scooby's latest fascination/obsession: St. Patrick's Day.
Wait, you say, St. Patrick's Day is over. Shouldn't we already be thinking ahead to Easter? But no, St. Patrick's Day cannot yet be truly over, as we haven't been visited by a leprechaun.
Scooby is very adept at craft making. It's just about his favorite thing to do. So for St. Paddy's Day, he made a leprechaun house out of paper and tape, and put it outside. He also made a trap - digging a hole and covering it over with leaves - to catch the leprechaun (I guess if the house wasn't a sufficiant lure)He fully expected to find SOMETHING in either the trap, or the house on the morning of the 17th. Perhaps a leprechaun. Perhaps a pot of gold. Or at least a ribbon. (Why a ribbon? Your guess is as good as mine!) But there was nothing. Why? Because me, BAD MOMMY, didn't play along and provide anything. Really, I thought. We do enough. And he'll forget about it soon enough. Wrong! Today, March 21st, 4 days after St. Patrick's Day, he went outside before catching the bus to put a cookie in the house. Maybe THAT would lure the little green folk.
So, do I just keep waiting for him to refocus on the next holiday, or do I give in and go stick a ribbon in the paper house? Which is more important? Limits, or encouraging imagination and fantasy?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Internet stalker

Okay, most of you already know I'm an internet stalker. I like to google people and find out if they have a presence on the World Wide Web. I don't really do it to be intrusive, I just think it's fun...and if anyone out there posts a resume, or a blog, or a livejournal, for instance, I think it's pretty much fair game to be read. Well, last night I found my high school boyfriend. I had pretty much assumed that he was either dead in a ditch by now, or at least shacked up with a relative somewhere in Lowell, but apparently he moved to Wisconsin, completed a master's degree in piano performance, and is teaching private lessons while - get this - acting as Music Director for a church! Those of you who know who I'm talking about probably need to take a moment to pick your jaws up off the floor. I even found a picture, and while the past 20 years have treated him about the same as they've treated me, and he does have considerably less hair, he looked peaceful and healthy. I'm so happy for him. I'm considering further stalking to try to find an email address. Yes, Hubby knows I'm doing this, and it's just for friendly inquiry, so don't freak out, Mom. It's good to know that people can change. I know I certainly have, and I don't know why it's so hard to recognize that in other people as well, instead of holding a frozen image of them from a previous time. So here's to change. And stalking.

Friday, March 10, 2006

A Day Off

Today I went nowhere. Except for a walk around the block pulling Cinderella and Tarzan in the wagon. I did spend a strangely exhorbitant amount of time on the phone or email, doing work-related stuff, but the kids were unusually cooperative and it really wasn't painful at all. The same day that I lost a cast member of Godspell, I gained a potential new (possibly better, in that he's a guy which is what I really needed for the part anyway) one. I folded two loads of laundry and put away a total of 5 - there were three that have been waiting for a couple of days. I played Superheros in the backyard,and snuggled Scooby and Tarzan on the couch while watching educational television. (Although I really do find Arthur entertaining, and architect Frank Gehry was the "guest" for this episode, teaching the kids about treehouse design. It was pretty cool. Sidenote - how do you do that when you're already in parenthesis, LW? Did any of you see last weeks entry on Bringing Up Ben and Birdy? Very thoughtful and somewhat disturbing references to another Arthur video. I really recommend reading Catherine Newman's blog, and book "Waiting for Birdy")
Where was I?
Oh, yes. We had chocolate bananas for dinner and squashed grapes in a strainer to make our own grape juice. (Scooby's idea) Everyone had a drizzle. I talked to a friend for an hour on the phone after the kids were in bed. I sorted Cinderella's clothes and put the ones that were too small in the attic, and packed a box of borrowed ones to mail back to their rightful owner.
I put Cinderella on the phone with Grandma and Grandpa and got to listen to her say "Hi-yo, Pa Pa! Hi-yo!" for about 5 minutes at full volume.
I wore sweats and slippers all day.
Yes, my life is nuts. Yes, the pressure is all still there.
But today was a day off.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


I usually pride myself on handling stress pretty well. I don't hit my children, swear at strangers driving by me, or smoke cigarettes. Sure, I may eat an occasional tub of cookie dough, but I rationalize it by drinking skim milk with it. I also try to get a healthy dose of sleep, (which is totally dependent on whether the kids decide to get a healthy dose of sleep, but that's really out of my control) and to maintain a spiritual awareness. Why I felt it necessary to test out the full range of my stress management potential, I'm not sure, but apparently I did.
I work in theater. Therefore, my work is totally cyclical, and inconsistent. Sometimes I'm doing NOTHING work related (and by work here, I'm using the loose definition of expending energy to receive a paycheck, no matter how small, in return. This doesn't include the everyday highly demanding work of raising three kids and a husband and a cat) and other times, like now, I'm completely inundated. For the past 14 years, I've worked with the local high school, choreographing their musicals. This year we're doing ByeByeBirdie...and I've so far managed to avoid poking out my eye with a fork from hearing WELOVEYOUCONRAD 9,000 in a row. Project #1. After a three year hiatus, I've returned to the Christian Elementary/Middle School to direct Honk, Jr. The musical story of the Ugly Duckling. Project #2. I've also decided to direct Godspell at my church - a huge undertaking which barely qualifies as "work", based on my above definition, since I'm only drawing my regular staff salary and not being paid any additional money for taking on a full-scale musical. Project #3.
So what am I currently contemplating? Project #4!! Some old friends of mine run a murder mystery dinner theater, and have asked me to read for them to understudy a couple of shows. Sounds easy enough, right?? Except there are 7 rehearsals scheduled during the month of April, which is already booked pretty solid with Projects #1, #2, and #3. I haven't been able to say no yet, though, because they are friends whom I would LOVE to work with, it is an ACTING job, and it would be really really fun. Plus, it holds long range potential for the dead time which will be coming after the others are over. So do I try to work it out? Do I go for it? Or do I just drink some more coffee, eat a cookie, and focus on the current commitments to insanity?
I'd love to keep writing, but it's time to wake up Cinderella and go get Tarzan from preschool.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pajama Day

It's pajama day at Tarzan's preschool today. They get to wear PJ's to school, bring a sleeping bag and pillow, watch movies, and eat popcorn and homemade pizza. How cool is that? I don't remember getting to do that in school. He "got dressed" in his school pajamas at 7:00am, and has been running around the house like a crazy person all morning in anticipation. Ah, to be three again.
On a more existential note, Scooby came downstairs a couple of nights ago shortly after going to bed, in tears because he was "thinking about that, when I'm dead? I'll never ever ever be alive ever again. And it makes me sad." Well, hell, it makes me sad too! So I gave him the speech about being with Jesus when he dies, and that everyone he loves will be with him forever when they die, and besides it won't happen for a long long time, probably, because Mommy and Daddy love him so much and will take very good care of him. Then we snuggled for a couple minutes, and he went to bed.
I, however, didn't sleep for a long time.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Cry if I want to, cry if I want to

OMG! She just did it again! It's 12:45 am and she was just crying in her crib butt naked, with wet sheets and blankets!!!
She has promised me, however, hand upon pacifier that she won't do it again.
And she gave me a very cute, "Sowwy, Mama."
I may start stapling her clothes on.

Friday, February 24, 2006

It's my potty and I'll cry if I want to

So I put Cinderella up for her nap later than usual, expecting her to fall right to sleep, like she usually does. 30 minutes later, she's still up there yelling, "Mama! Not sleeping, Mama! Not sleeping!" I go in to check on her, and she is completely naked in the crib. Never done that before! And she's extremely pleased with herself. "Yook, Mama. I nakey!" So I pick her up and she says, "Oh, I wet too. I go pee pee." I asked her where, and she pointed to the blanket. "Right dere, Mama. On byanket." So after changing all the blankets, sheets, and stuffed animals (it was a remarkably large pee area) I put on a clean pull-up and new clothes. Ten minutes later, she's wet again. Nothing totally remarkable about any of this, I know. At least I know why she wasn't sleeping. And at least it wasn't poop. A friend from church still tells the story of when her daughter was a toddler (she's graduating from high school this year - and loves to hear this story repeated, I'm sure) and she pooped, took off the diaper, and fingerpainted with the poop all over the kitchen stove. Which was on. So the poop baked onto the front of it and filled the home with a lovely poo-pourri smell! (Sorry) I'm just so over the whole diaper thing. It's times like this that make me think three kids really will be enough for us. (And to those of you who are incredulously wondering if it's really taken me this long to think that way...just keep it to yourselves, thank you very much!)
On the lighter side, though, if you ever want to have a really good laugh, just combine one semi-naked preschooler, washable markers, and a big giant hat. Thanks Uncle J! See results below!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mother has complained that now that she knows how to access the blog, I haven't updated it yet! I spent the weekend in the following ways...I sang at church for 3 different services. We have a worship team and we try to keep the same singers consistent for the weekend, so we don't screw up the cool harmonies we come up with in rehearsals. I cleaned my dentist's office - which we do in exchange for dental care...we have much the better end of that deal, believe me! Let's see...I re-read Crystal City, which is the 6th book in the Alvin Maker series by Orson Scott Card. I read it about a year ago, and was disappointed in it. I like it better on second reading, but it still feels like Card's editor fell down on the job and he tried to write too many stories in one book and didn't really see any of them through to an emotional satisfying climax. I also read parts of a book called Off Balance, about the seamy underworld of ballet. It was pretty old and repetitive, so I didn't really finish it, but it did make me feel a little better about my very definately NOT ballerina body! I also started Stephen King's newest, called Cell. It's very creepy - more along the blood and guts line of some of his horror stuff than the suspense stuff that I prefer, like Bag of Bones, which is my favorite. I have lots of work to do for the three musicals that I'm working on this spring, but I was procrastinating by reading. I also watched Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy on Sunday night. I love Grey's Anatomy, but I'm really pissed off that they have Meredith sleeping with George this week. That's just wrong. At least our cars didn't break down this weekend, but the cold has brought out some brand new noises! I'm hoping they just go away.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A Side of Rice

I have asked the children to come up with nicknames for themselves, so that I can refer to them in this blog without revealing or compromising their identities, in case of future political aspirations. Oldest son (6) has asked for Scooby Doo. Middle son (3) has requested Tarzan. Youngest daughter (2) has emphatically chosen Cinderella.

Tarzan's preschool has a rice table. It's like a sandbox, but it's up off of floor level, and filled with dry rice rather than sand...the theory being that rice is easier to clean up, and harder to get lodged in one's eyeball. In addition to the rice, it has small buckets, shovels, funnel-type things, little trucks, etc. It's a great favorite for playtime, which comprises at least the first 15 minutes of preschool. Cinderella loves the rice table.

So on Thursday, I brought them in to drop Tarzan off. We go in the classroom, hang up his coat and backpack, and get his nametag. While Tarzan and I've been doing that, Cinderella has zoomed over to the rice table, wedged herself in the corner in between two other kids, and is playing very happily. I let her play for a couple of minutes before I began my first attempt to get her out. She refused, so rather than deal with the kicking and screaming that would follow a forcible removal (I know, I wimped out) I let her play awhile longer. Next time I look, one of the very motherly and solicitous three year olds has helped her off with her coat, and informed me that "This preschool is really for three AND two year olds." The teachers were fine with having her in there, so I hung around during clean up time, and song time, both of which she fully participated in.

Finally, the teachers told me to just leave, since she seemed to be enjoying herself so much. I went over to the church office next door to help them fold some stuff, so I could come right back over and remove her if she decided she'd had enough higher learning. Well, she didn't. She stayed through the entire class, participated in everything, and proudly showed me her worksheets and puppet craft when I came to pick them up! From now on, I think she'll be staying in the car when I drop off Tarzan!

Here's the gross part.

We came home, she took a nap, and it was about three hours later that I checked her diaper. At first, I didn't know what the small white things were - my first fleeting thoughts were maggots? Some kind of worm infestation? I was EXTREMELY grossed out and am very proud of myself for not screaming and throwing her off my lap and across the room. So I pull the diaper off, and a shower of rice falls onto the floor. It must have been a least a handfull. And not just loose in the diaper either. There was rice wedged into place that certainly would have made napping an impossibility to me!!! I don't know how it got there. But the princess and the pea, she is not!

So go enjoy your dinner now! Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine Flowers

THE ACT - Carlos Williams

There were the roses, in the rain.
Don't cut them, I pleaded.
They won't last, she said.
But they're so beautiful
where they are.
Agh, we were all beautiful once, she said,
and cut them and gave them to me
in my hand.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Importance of comfort objects

So we all understand how important those "lovies" of childhood are...the blanket, the pacifier, the clown, whatever. But now, I have discovered the true reason behind the significance. No, it's not the psychological benefits of transference, it's not the physiological comfort of something soft to hug. No, it's much more basic and scientific.
Tonight, my six year old's "lovies", Kitty and Pillow (the very imaginatively named stuffed cat and pillow he sleeps with) were, even to his nearly-immune nose, stinky. He requested they be washed. Unfortunately, it was about 20 minutes before bedtime when he made the request. Apparently they were really smelly (I refused to verify the smell myself, choosing instead to take him at his word) and he decided that he could try to go to sleep without them if we promised to bring them up as soon as they were dry.
About half an hour after we left the room, he came down to tell us that when the blanket was on him, he was too hot, and when it was off, he was too cold. Don went up to try to get the correct balance of blanket vs. non-blanket. After several frustrating minutes, he says, "See, Dad, this is why I need Kitty and Pillow. They help to stabilize my temperature."
Who knew?
Kitty and Pillow are now clean, dry, and smell like fabric softener. They are safely tucked up in bed with a slightly sweaty, but sound asleep, future lab scientist. Or perhaps, meteorologist.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Having also been tagged, even before I created a blog:

Four jobs I've had:
1. Nurse's Aide at an elder care home
2. Ballet teacher
3. Touring actor for school shows about chemical dependency (my favorite part was the "walking addiction" - dressed in black robes and white masks - kind of like the killer on Scream, before Scream existed
4. Choreographer/Director

Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. Parenthood
2. It's a Wonderful Life
3. Dirty Dancing. (I know, I'm pathetic. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!")
4. True Lies

Four places I’ve lived:
1. Westford, MA
2. Wilkinsburg, PA
3. Aliquippa, PA
4. Sewickley, PA (Okay, so the last three aren't really much different, unless you're from Western PA, but if you are, they're significantly different. Really!)

Four places I’ve vacationed:
1. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
2. Norwood, NY
3. Aruba, St. Maarten, Curacao, and St. Thomas (all on the same trip)
4. Westford, MA (yes, for me it is a vacation spot. Hey, my parents have a pool!)

Four of my favorite dishes:
1. Pizza. Any kind, and brand. I love pizza.
2. Does chocolate count as a "dish"?
3. French Onion soup
4. Chicken Caesar salad

Four sites I visit daily:
1. msn.com
2. quistilton.blogspot.com (yes, daily. So write more!)
3. stphilipsonline.org (Not every day, but a lot. It's my church. Go there to see my picture!
4. slate.com

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Somewhere in New England, closer to my family
2. Aruba
3. Virginia Beach
4. Asleep