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Even love can use some training

You name me a discipline method—other than corporal punishment—and I have tried it. I have punished for being bad and I have praised for being good and I have tied allowance to behavior and I have set marble jars on the counter (good deeds put marbles in, transgressions take marbles out) and I have overreacted and underreacted and just plain REACTED over and over again.

And any parenting book I could write, at this point, with ten-and-a-half years of experience under my belt would read like this: “Pray. Then buy rum. The end.”

This is to say that I think my kids are going to turn out alright in the end, but more through dumb luck and sheer perseverance than through any sort of remarkable parenting on my part. And particularly when it comes to my oldest, I am fond of observing that all of the behaviors which will make her a FABULOUS ADULT are the ones that make her a TRYING CHILD. (more…)

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Getting what we deserve

One of the things that inevitably happens when you spend time with a friend who’s known you for a long time is that you talk about the past, right? It happens to all of us. And it’s inevitable that when I spend time with Kira, we cannot help but marvel about what a long, strange trip it’s been.

When we first started talking, four years ago, we were both in a place of grim determination, I think. I know I was. It was emphatically NOT a place where we’d overcome adversity and knew that a better life was coming. It was more of a place where we’d overcome adversity and we were just hoping that it wouldn’t always be quite so HARD, all of the time. We were okay, I guess (some days we were more okay than others), but it would be a stretch to say that we were HAPPY. We were… MANAGING. Some days we were even HOPEFUL. But comparing life back then with life now is less apples and oranges and more moldy bread crusts vs. a ten-foot-high chocolate fountain. A CALORIE-FREE chocolate fountain. (more…)

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Love keeps growing

We’re just past the halfway point of the kids’ first week away this summer, and truthfully, the days are passing at a tolerable pace. It helps to have a major catastrophe to tend to, I guess, to take my mind off of other things. LUCKY ME!

Oh, I kid. The whole computer failure and subsequent retreat into the fetal position has only occupied a tiny (gigantic) sliver of my time. Actually, I’ve been quite busy with my little container garden out on the deck. And that’s because I love to garden! Oh, wait. Actually, I think it’s because some sort of mystery bug is eating through my banana pepper plants. I spend a lot of time out there trying to find the culprits, and shaking my fist at the sky, and watering, and pinching the basil, and just generally fussing over my plants because my children aren’t here to fuss at. Don’t judge me. If all YOU had was lemon verbena, you’d spend more time with it, too. (more…)

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Love blooms in its own time

Things have been a tiny bit tense around here lately; I don’t suppose you’ve noticed. To say we’ve all been a little stressed out would not be inaccurate. And while I can’t speak for the kids, obviously, I know that I personally feel a lot more angst when my children are having trouble getting over a hump and I can’t seem to help them.

Both of them are struggling right now with different things. I am left feeling like what I do is never enough and that if only I could find THAT THING that would fix it all, we could all heave a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, THAT THING is completely beyond my grasp; whether because it’s imaginary or because I’m a moron, well… sometimes it’s hard to know. Nevertheless, some days life feels more like a struggle than a journey. And some days I wonder if hoping for change is foolhardy. (more…)

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The one where I realize: I’m happy

Joshilyn arrived yesterday afternoon with Sam and Maisy in tow, and Monkey and Sam were LITERALLY engrossed in a discussion of the finer points of various Pokemon beasties before the door had even shut behind them. For a couple of glorious hours, Joss and I got to sit and relax and chat while Chickadee dressed Maisy in a variety of her outgrown clothing and generally led her around like a wee and precious pet lamb, and the boys bounced off the walls upstairs (where we could hear them but not be overly disturbed by them).

I dished up dinner earlyish (Chris’ most excellent chicken curry with sweet potatoes and coconut rice, which if you have not tried you must go make RIGHT NOW because it is THAT GOOD) and the children regaled us with riddles as we ate, then we left the children and their pajamas and a movie with a sitter, and headed out to Borders.

Joss gave a great appearance, as usual, and as usual I had to restrain from blurting out to anyone I saw there, “She’s my friend! Isn’t she awesome?” Heh. (more…)

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Into the woods, a little while longer

I may have mentioned that I accompanied my daughter’s class on a field trip on Monday. There’s really no way to describe heading into the woods with twenty-four fourth graders, some of whom believe that nature ends at the edge of the playground.

Chickadee is turning ten soon, and I keep asking her, “So, when do I become an embarrassment? When will the very idea of me daring to show my face within a mile radius strike fear into your heart?” Make no mistake—I’ve already started becoming stupid. Very, very stupid. And demanding. [Insert huffy sigh here.] But so far, she laughs at the idea of my mere presence being horrifying.

She loves to have me come into her class. She’s proud to have me along, while the other kids cluster around and ask to see my nails, my phone, my shoes; they ripple with shy happiness when I remember their names; I am a rare and exotic life form in the classrom, and it never ceases to amaze me. Still, my days are numbered. (more…)

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Sometimes love is a laughing cow

I have a pretty complicated relationship with food, for a non-eating-disordered normal-weight female. I always used to joke that I was a fat girl trapped in a skinny body. Once I became post-menopausal at the ripe old age of 33, I had to stop saying that—my metabolism no longer allows for the wanton consumption it once did. (Alas.) But there’s no denying that I see food as way more than sustenance.

What do you see in this picture?


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Exposing him to his fans

Regular readers of this site have developed quite an affection for my father, who often leaves comments so funny that he totally upstages me. Even now, he’s still badgering me about that damn pony, and my suggestion that adding “clean up pony poop in the yard” to his to-do list would be less than thrilling will not dissuade him from the notion that HE DESERVES A PRIZE. And you know, he probably does.

So here we go, people. Today is your day to love on my dad. I’m going to tell you some important things about him, starting with the fact that today is his birthday.

(And no, I STILL haven’t bought him a pony, because I am a rotten, rotten daughter.) (However, I have it on good authority that having produced children is more or less a “get out of jail free” or—more accurately—“have your past sins forgiven by your longsuffering parents” card.) (more…)

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Gains and losses

Here’s the thing about being FINE FINE FINE in the face of a steady stream of stress: Eventually, something breaks.

When those people came into my house and broke the soap dish off the wall yesterday, maybe if everything else was dandy that wouldn’t have been a big deal. But there’s a lot going on, and so many changes happening, and as a result, it was a big deal. It was a very big deal.

I broke. First I was angry and indignant, as I repaired the tile last night, and as I tossed and turned in bed, trying to sleep. And then this morning, as I tried to pry open the tube of caulking and it squirted everywhere and I needed to start getting ready for church, I just sat on the edge of the tub and wept. (more…)

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Love unfolds

Tonight my children bounced off of one another and careened around the upstairs and generally behaved with good—if somewhat frenetic—cheer. When I flopped down onto my bed and asked if we would be reading tonight, Chickadee rushed to my side.

“No,” she said, putting her hand over our book (which was still sitting on my nightstand), “I don’t want to read tonight.”

“Really?” For my kids to say they don’t want to read is akin to declaring that they’re not in the mood for oxygen. It never happens. “Why don’t you want to read?”

“I would rather have some quality family time,” she replied, while I swallowed my tongue from the effort of not laughing. (more…)

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