Friday, December 30, 2011

Not Christmas

I should be blogging about Christmas. After all, we have had three. One Crocker Christmas in Jersey, one Chambers Christmas in Pubelo and one Ross Christmas in Denver. They were all awesome. We were blessed beyond reason. My children had a blast and have loved all their new gifts. And, really, that is all I have to say about Christmas.

This year I felt rather grinchy. Matt was no better, which is unusual, since he LOVES Christmas. We put up a tree and some decorations, but I didn't make the massive amounts of cookies and treats that I usually do because I didn't really have anyone I wanted to give them to. And there was the root of it.

I love Christmas because I love the excuse to spend extra time with friends and family. I love the parties. I love the having people over for dinner and making treats for those I care about. I love being part of a church family who strives to shower those in the community with love. But this year, we didn't really have that. Yes, we have friends in Jersey. My kids were part of plenty of Christmas festivities, parties and celebrations. But the soul of Christmas just wasn't there. The really close friends who have known my children from birth, the aunts and uncles, grandparents of several generations and the cousins we all absent.

At this point some might be ready to mount the soap box about the "real" reason for Christmas. I have strong memories about that in my childhood. Christmas was a season of guilt. Every time I got excited about the presents and the parties, the pretty dresses and decor, I was reminded that none of that mattered, it was all about Jesus. This was traditional sledge hammer Christianity, never miss the opportunity to wallop someone with "truth" and "God" while smacking all the happy out of them. On a side note, I think this is why I have always loved Thanksgiving, all the family and treats and none of the guilt for not feeling and thinking the "right" things. After all, only the pious actually understand Christmas. Those little children who feel nothing but joy are just missing the point, being worldly. Sigh. We will have to pray for them.

And here I am faced with yet another parenting delema. We have chosen to forgo, AWANA clubs aside, the traditional Christian rhetoric with our children. Our goal is not to raise well churched kids or Evangelicals who sign on the republican party line. But while tossing out this bathwater, it seems so easy to send the baby flying. I don't ever want my kids to think they are Christians because of our Sunday activities. I don't want them sorting out the world into the "us and them" and thinking that we are the ones who have it all together. I want to take the sledge hammer away and replace it with the humility of love and gospel of truth. I want the good, hard conversations to happen naturally from doing life with my kids, not as a set apart "family bible time" or anything contrived, but something that flows from who we are.

As Christmas came around, we didn't have the whole church thing to fall back on. I would love to be able to say that teaching my children truth is the Sunday school programs job. But I don't buy it. How do we raise up children who respond to truth out of senscerity of heart, not out of guilt or habit of behavior? I want my children to celebrate Jesus' birthday like they do everyone elses who they love. I want them to be happy about the cake, the presents, the festivities. I want them to believe in Santa, because if there was one dude out there who really nailed the idea of love and celebrating a birthday of a king, he was the one! I want Christmas to be joyful without being an excuse to sneak in extra bible lessons just to keep my kids pious. And I don't know how to do it.

This year I wasn't at my best. Sure, we played with our nativity, read the Christmas story and had (coffee) birthday cake for Jesus. My girls know why we celebrate. But they also know about why the Jews celebrate. So maybe this is a blog post about Christmas after all. But it is also about living authentically, parenting, failure, and grace. Grace, which I am constantly seeking with wisdom, prayers that my children will turn out ok in spite of me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hair

Every so often I get a wild hair and decide to grow out my hair. It is never a good idea. I don't look good with long hair. This is part due to general laziness on my part. And, it really just doesn't look good on me. So I chopped it off. Top is the before pic, bottom is the after.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

High Rollin'

Since Matt worked remotely for old company (read: in his jammies in the basement) We missed a lot of the whole "corporate" life thing. Part of that is good. Matt got way more done out of the office without all the meetings and politics. Part of it was sad, we missed all the celebrations, which at old company were few and far between. Apparently, they like to party at new company.

Matt had told me weeks ago that there was a Christmas party that we had reservations for. He mentioned he thought it might be a big deal. I started planning some cute slacks and tops I had on hand. Three days before the party, he sheepishly informed me that it was a black tie event. Awesome. Nothing like being several month pregnant and having to look good in a dress. I told him I was wearing strategically placed bows.

I ended up finding a cute dress that fit both over the bump and bust, without either spilling out. Matt had his 3 piece pin stripe suit cleaned and pressed. We call up the baby sitter and headed out for a night on the town. And what a night it was.

Open bars, table after table of amazing food like prime rib, a whole roast pig, and oysters. And that was just the cocktail hour. We were then moved into the ball room for dancing and dinner of salmon or steak, salad, more drinks and palate clenseres. And just when you think you couldn't eat another bite, another room full of tables of desserts. Ice cream, cotton candy, chocolate fountains, dessert shots, oh my.

The night was a lot of fun. It isn't often we get all dolled up and hang with grown ups all evening. Alright, it is often FOR ME! It was fun that our friends were sitting at the same table as us and that everyone was dancing. If you have never seen a room full of Korean execs dancing to pop music you haven't lived.

My friend Amy and I, so nice that they were at our table!
Our buddy Brian, often found on Sunday evenings on our couch watching football and eating snacks with Matt. Who knew he cleaned up so well?
Matt and I. He looked so handsome in his suit. I might make him take me out to fancy places more often just to see him looking so dapper.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas in the City

You can't live this close to New York City and NOT go in to see all the Christmas hulabaloo. This weekend, we packed up the girls and braved the madness. And oh.my.word. was it MADNESS!! First stop was the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. To give you an idea of the insanity, they actually CLOSE DOWN STREETS. Annabelle and Addilyn were in the stroller for the ride, Eliana was holding my hand. I picked her up so she could see.
The tree was beautiful, as were the lights and decorations around the city. Next stop was the American Girl store. Three big stories of over priced dolls and about 500 people. Elie and Addilyn loved it. Annabelle put up with it as long as we kept feeding her snacks.
Then off to the worlds biggest Toys R Us in Times square. Also three stories, with a massive Ferris wheel in the lobby. Of all the things we saw, I am pretty sure my girls were most impressed with the T-Rex in toys are us that moved and "roared". With small children spent, we headed back to our car. We parked in an underground lot and were charged $50 for special event parking. Still not sure what event was the special on. Christmas? Oh well, nothing say "Merry Christmas from New York" like getting ripped off.

I am glad we ventured into the city. Despite the cold, the crowd, the cost, it is nice to check off the list of cool things we did while living on the east coast.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas in the Village



We live in a very quaint little Village, complete with main street, library, post office and town hall. They are big on celebrations here. For Halloween they closed down the street and had all the shops open booths. For Independence day they do a huge parade. And for Christmas, a tree lighting. Main street is a short walk from our house, so we went to check out the festivities, complete with the high school choir and band and Santa's arrival in...get this...a FIRE TRUCK!

We invited some friends to come along for the fun. The girls thought it was a kick and us grown-up's enjoyed the walk on a cool December evening. Mrs. Clause was there passing out candy canes along with an elf (in Nikes) There are some benefits to living the small town life.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

A our house

- We have 2 light triggered puzzles, one that is farm animals and one that is musical instruments. At any given time, they randomly start playing the violin or meowing like a cat. Disturbing when you turn out the lights in the evening only to hear paino music and a moo.

- I am much to aware of the rest of the family's bowel habits. Why is it that I seem to be the only one who remembers to flush?

-We go through cups at an alarming rate. I am pretty sure there must be a very thirsty elf hiding somewhere drinking copious amounts. My dishwasher is full every night with cups and Matt and I are the only ones tall enough to reach the cup cabinet.

-I washed a least 2 dozen pairs of little girls underwear this week. I do laundry, all laundry, every week. Which of my children is doubling up on the panties? By my count I should only be washing 14 pair a week.

-I find legos in the dryer, ponies in the bathtub and puzzle pieces between the sheets. Yet I can't find two matching socks. How can this be? I am not throwing away socks, so they must be here somewhere. When ever I find/wash sock, I put them in the drawer. The same Elf who is using my cups is stealing my socks.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Food

In a given month, the Crocker family goes through:

6 gallons of whole milk
8 dozen eggs
6 lb of banana
10 pounds of cheese
3 large containers of yogurt
8 lbs of apple
6 lbs of pairs
12 packages of frozen veggies (corn, peas, spinach, Brussels sprouts, mixed)
3 lbs of baby carrots
3 lbs of applesauce
2 large containers of cottage cheese
4 loaves of normal bread (2 of gluten free)
1 giant tub of peanut butter

Today, I am greatful for a husband with a good job and Costco.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Baby Belle

When your children are born, you have grandiose ideas of who they will grow to be. A percosious toddler charming those at the local bookstore while your husband and you quietly sip coffee and read the New Yorker? A mild mannered pixy who bats eyelashes shyly from behind your leg while waiting in line at the store? The beautiful child in a stroller who people stop to coo at?

Motherhood is a reality check on so many levels. I have learned to never say the words "oh, we won't EVER do that with our kid". God has a sense of humor that is a little off color. While you hope your child will be blessed with you and your mates best attributes, the mix doesn't always come out so...tidy.

Belle is my third kid. You would think I would have been humbled enough at this point to better roll with the punches that parenthood delivers. Tiny but vocal from the very beginning, she was not to be overlooked. She somehow didn't get the memo that if you are going to be high maintenance you should have been born first. The picture above pretty much "captures" our youngest.

Annabelle is her own person, thankyouverymuch!! Not one to be told what to do, she isn't interested in making friends and doesn't think your teasing is in the least bit funny. Sweet and easy going while living a predictable life at home, she is quick to let the world know if they have messed up her grove. No, she doesn't want to go to the zoo, a parade, a friends house. No, she won't smile nicely at the librarian who knows her by name. No, she won't wave to the little old lady who thinks she is cute. Don't even think of laughing when she is mid-fit or you will suffer her wrath.

At the age of just-turned 2, she sings the ABC's and speaks in full and understandable sentences. She counts to ten. She loves to sing and play with her sisters, pretend to be a mommy, help in the kitchen, fold the laundry. But don't mess with this little package, don't get in her space, don't try and be her friend because she is not interested. I worry about different things with each of my children, with Annabelle it is that she will cold clock someone at the age of 4 and learn to flip off her teachers in kindergarten.

Chalk this kid up to another lesson in parent humility.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Solo

I was told by my mother when I was a teen that my curfew was midnight because "nothing good happens after midnight". If that is true at 16, I am pretty sure that "nothing good happens before six a.m" is true for my current station in life. Some may argue that it is always true, but not Annabelle.

For the last few weeks, the babe has been up before the sun. It isn't exactly the fault of the whole "fall back" time change, but that didn't help matters. Normally this is annoying, but not really my problem as Matt is the one on call as the sun rises. Alas, Matt is in Korea and I am flying solo, desperately missing my morning wing man.

I am not ashamed to say that in the wee hours of the morning I told my not-quite two year old that I was not getting up yet, tossed her some toys and dry cheerios with a sippy and told her to play quietly. I stumbled back to my still warm bed knowing I bought myself about 15 minutes to clear the cob webs from my brain and attempt to fix my black attitude.

Fifteen minutes later, Eliana was up too. I mumbled to Elie to take her sister downstairs and feed her some grapes as I searched for my errant slipper and sweatshirt least I catch hypothermia in my attempt to make breakfast in the pre-dawn hours. Within twenty minutes all three children were happily munching boiled eggs, bagels and grapes and I was sipping on some strong and much needed coffee, trying not to feel too guilty about the unborn who was also drinking strong coffee. Sorry kid, your number four, mama's got to be able to function.

Single parenthood isn't pretty. My house is messy, and by messy I mean messier than usual, which is a state bad enough to appall my grandmother but not so bad as to be condemned by the city. My dishes pile up because my kitchen is separate from the rest of my house and if I am in there I have no idea that the baby is crying or who caused it, and I hate dishes with almost the same passion I have for mornings. I spend my days doing mundane things like folding laundry, sweeping up crushed cheerios, feeding the dog and attempting to locate lost lovies. By the end of the day my patients is thin, my brain is an oozing pile of mush due to lack of grown up interaction and my house looks even worse than when the day started despite the fact I spend most of my day picking it up.

Isolation is the crazy-making of motherhood. If it gets done, it is because I did it or bossed around a little person until they did. I walked by my half eaten dinner, cold and gelatinous, not quite remembering why it wasn't eaten. Was I getting someone more milk? Did I forget the napkins? Mopping up whatever was spilled? It doesn't matter, I scrape it into the trash.

The big girls are giggling upstairs and I am going to let them. I could go in and be the heavy, but when parenting alone, I have already been the heavy enough to day and I just don't have the heart to end their day being in trouble with mom. The babe has decided she isn't as sleepy as she thought or I wanted and is calling to be rocked. I make the closet thing to a deal with the devil as a stay at home mother can, I bargain that I will snuggle and rock for 2 minutes but then she must go to bed with no fits. I think we both know how it will end.

I scoop up the tiny person from her almost-big-girl bed and sit in the rocking chair. Her feet hang over the end and she fills my lap. One hand holds a ratty pink hippo and the other reaches to stroke my face, looking for a kiss on the palm. As I plant a smooch in the middle of the fingers, she smells of peanut butter despite the repeated washing. I smell the bubble gum toothpaste on her breath and the diaper cream on her buns, a mix of big girls and baby the betrays to speedy passage of time. I sing to her a favorite song and melt a little as she sings along, words mumbled by the binky clenched firmly in her mouth.

As I head downstairs I mentally make a list of all that needs to be done before I can put an x through this day on the calendar. I pour myself a glass of chocolate milk when what I want is a glass of wine but a mother can handle only so much guilt in a day. My house is quite except for the strange hiss and pop of the steam heaters that I have yet to become accustomed to.

My husband is starting his day on the other side of the globe. A long night spent tossing and turning on a uncomfortable bed, trying to convince his brain that it really is night and his stomach that that really was his dinner. Matt works hard for our family and I am so grateful. Because of his trips, I put my children to bed in clean jammies under warm blankets. Our home is filled with toys and love, food and pets, blessings beyond number.

I sip my chocolate milk and decide to forget doing the dishes until the morning, instead I will make cookies. My melancholy fades as I beat the eggs with the butter and sugar, knowing the pleasure fresh cookies will bring the girls. And because when the cats away, we may just eat some of these cookies for breakfast, as the sun rises and I drink a stiff cup of coffee, grateful that I get to spend another day with these so dear to me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Rod

I have my panties in a wad about something, so if you are not in the mood to hear me rant, please move on. I read this, and oh boy, did it get my blood hot.

I am a huge fan of "to each there own". I parent my children one way, because of who I am, who they are and what I believe to be true about children. I do not expect others to parent the same way I do. I am not raising your kid, and as long as your kid is turning out ok, more power to you!

We are not really a spanking household. My girls don't usually require it, it isn't that effective and the few time my kids have been spanked I think it was as much to make me feel better as it was to get the desired outcome.

What gets me mad is the idiot Christians who follow other idiot Christians in the misinterpretation of the bible and use it as an excuse to beat the crap out of there kids! They often quote the scripture that says "Spare the rod, spoil the child". Lets look at that a second: first, we must acknowledge it was written in reflection of shepherds and sheep. Shepherds carried rods that were a multi-purpose tool. One of the things they did with said rod was guide a wandering sheep back on to the path with a nudge. They also used rods to free sheep from bramble, there is a great story about a good shepherd rescuing his sheep with his rod. Here is what shepherd DIDN'T do with there rods: whack sheep. Funny thing, when you hit an animal with a big stick, animals then RUN from you when they see you with said stick. Not real conducive to keeping a heard together when all the sheep are running for there lives in fear of the shepherd.

"And they will know you are Christians by your love". Or, you know, by the fact they smack their kids with sticks. That too.

I want to see large churches STAND UP and say "we don't believe he is right!!". I want church's to actively teach parents healthy parenting. While you might be able to make a case for a hand swat to the hinney on occasion, there is NEVER a reason to starve and beat a child in the name of Christ.

I believe "Jesus wept" over these children.



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankful

I have a confession: I have a bad attitude. Not about everything, all the time, just lately, about a lot of things. I am grumpy that I just found out 2 of my good friends are expecting (one of them is having twins) right around the same time I am and yet here I am, stuck in Jersey, with no one to be pregnant with. I am surly about Matt leaving for Korea for 8 days. I am always cold in this stupid house, with high ceilings and absolutely no insulation and the cold winter days haven't even started yet. My kitchen is the worst and my kids eat all the time so I am always in my kitchen and always frozen, despite the many layers and slippers. None of my clothes fit me and I look like I have been hitting the Twinkies a little too hard. People in Jersey are rude and grumpy. I have to take several highways to get to my grocery store.

It is easy to forget to be thankful. I don't want to be grateful for what I have, I want to sulk and be grumpy. I want to stomp my feet and crawl back into bed. I want to flip the world the bird and put on my headphone and forget about everything and everyone. But I can't. I have 3 little girls who watch my every move and know my attitudes well, 3 little girls that I want to grow up with a little perspective. Perspective that I seem to have lost.

So here it is, my perspective, my attempt at an attitude adjustment. These are things that DON'T make me grumpy, things that I have been blessed with.

-Annabelle's singing. It is incessant. Her cheerpy little voice singing a made up tune with whatever words happen to be on her mind.

- Eliana's helpfulness. I love that she gets the baby dressed, sorts the laundry, empties the trash cans, puts away her (and everyone else) toys, she washes dishes and mirrors, sweeps the floor. All of this usually with a great attitude.

-Addilyn's willingness to laugh. About anything. Ready to tickle and wrestle, dance a silly dance and cheer up the baby.

-Matts understanding that I need grown-up conversation. Willing to talk politics, sports, education, you name it, anything but Dora and kid stuff. He is happy to pour a cup of coffee for us both and sit with me to keep my brain from rotting and oozing out my ears.

-The fall colors are beautiful out here.

Sorry, that is really all I can come up with right now. Yes, I know there is more to be grateful for: health, family, food, shelter yadda yadda yadda. But really that is all I can come up with. Guess the whole "attitude change" didn't pan out.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Redeemed

I swear to you, if Eliana asks me one more time "how long until Halloween?" I might just duct tape the calendar to her forehead. We have counted the days, looked on the calendar and yet she still feels the need to ask several times a day.

I find it irritating that Halloween is so controversial in the Christian community. As if THAT is the "hill to die on". A holiday where children celebrate by playing pretend and eating candy evokes such a strong emotion and ends up making Christians look like petty idiots. World poverty? The orphan crisis? No sir, it's a 5 year old dressed like Mickey and Snickers that we get all up in arms about.

In our family we handle Halloween differently than many people do. I am a firm believer that some of our reactions to things we don't agree with often stem from fear driven by a lack of knowledge. In our house, we talk about Halloween a long time ago. How the Celtic people of long ago celebrated there new year on November 1st along with the end of harvest. The Celtics knew winter was a long, hard time of year a long time ago, and this made them afraid. They also believed that spirits came back from the dead and caused trouble. To our girls we explain that we don't believe this anymore. We know God is in control and that when people die, their spirts go to heaven to be with Jesus, so we don't have to be afraid.

In our house, Halloween is used to celebrate fall. We celebrate that God has set us free from the fear that the people long ago used to live with, because we know truth. We talk about how winter is still very hard for some families and how we can help them to not be afraid. We donate canned food to the food pantry and take jackets we don't need to the shelters for those who might. We don't dress in scary costumes because we know better and wouldn't want to scare anyone who doesn't. We meet our neighbors, celebrate fall with the street festival and by decorating pumpkins at our local library. We build community by handing out candy and chatting with the parents of trick-or-treaters.

For a group of people who have been set free from fear by love and redemption, sometimes us Christians sure act like a bunch of scaredy cats. We think that if we dress up, people won't see Jesus in us and we won't be recognized as different, as if the costume was what was holding us back. We are afraid that if we let our children see the darkness in the world, the truth of love won't be strong enough to combat it. We act as if we don't give evil it's fair respect, that it might just sneak in and snuff the light of Love straight from our children's hearts.

But not our family. I won't teach my children that we need to be afraid, I will teach them to be more than conquerors. I will teach them truth, how love overcomes fear, and how we can celebrate being redeemed from what used to scare us.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Babysitting Instructions

I am a mediocre homeschooler. I don't have a time of day when we put on our "school hat" and sit and do worksheets. I consider making pancakes math for the day. We are reading Charlotte's Web together and that is vocabulary. Science is usually when we google something, often pictures of what new baby is looking like today. Or when we find an exceptional worm in the back yard and Eliana wonders why she can see through him so we grab our magnifying glass. We do practice handwriting but I have yet to do anything about the face Eliana is confusing b,d and p,q, she will figure it out.

The other day Eliana informed me that she was the mom and I was the babysitter. She was going out for a nice dinner with her friends and it was just for grown-ups and it was my job to watch the babies. She then handed me my babysitting instructions.

Just in case you don't read 5 year old, let me write it in "grown up":
Be home at 1o
at first
feed them
Dinner
then clean up
Then put on
pjs
Then read
then put to
bed

I love her spelling, it is so much like mine. I love that she chose to write this by herself instead of doing a worksheet of some type. I guess I am not screwing her up too much. Maybe we will make it through this home schooling thing after all.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Our House

It occured to me that I have never posted pictures of our house. Or at least not the inside. Sorry for the random order, I put them in a normal order and blogger shuffled them all around. So you are starting in our upstairs hallway.

To the left goes downstairs and the stairway to the right goes up to the attic and guest room.
This is Eliana and Addilyn's bedroom. Not a great picture. Bigger than there room in Colorado with lots of floor room to play and almost NO closest. Not great for two little girls with a TON of dresses.
Our room. Also not much closet space. I use under the bed roller drawers for some of my stuff and you can see a closet rack for Matt to the right for Matt's stuff.
Annabelle's room. Very tiny but somehow just right for her. A very large closet to the right of the rocker that we use for...well...everything. Linnins, extra bathrooms stuff, nice dishes, it all ends up in that closet because it is the ONLY closet.
This is the view from the front door if you look right. Stairs to upstairs bedrooms.
Kitchen. One day I will own a gourmet kitchen, but it won't be at this house. By-fold doors at the end left are to the laundry room and downstairs bathroom.
Living room. This is the view from the front door looking left, the stairs are behind me. Don't mind the basket of laundry, we can pretend it isn't usually there, but I am always doing laundry.
Family room. Door to the left goes into front entryway. Door to the right goes into dinning room. Most of the toys live here. Fireplace isn't working, which makes me sad.
Dinning room, more toys. Door to the left goes into the kitchen and to the right into the family room. Another door to the far right goes into the living room. And that is our house. Except I forgot to take pictures of the guest room and attic. I will get on that, it should only take me another couple of months.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Octoberfest

A few weekends ago we decided to celebrate like the Germans and ring in the fall with Oktoberfest! We drove up the Palisades parkway, enjoying the view, into New York and to Bear Mountain State park. The day was cool, but beautiful. The park was full. The beer was good (so I hear) and the German Food was...well Germans are not exactly known for there food, now are they. A great day was had by all.
Matt with his "who drank my beer?!" face.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dear Women's Ministry

I didn't write this, not sure who did, but it totally captures how I feel.

Dear Women's Ministry:

The world can give me cute cupcake designs and decorating tips, scrapbooking parties, casserole recipes, and other ways to pass the time. But truly, with my respect and love, may I be honest? If I wanted to learn how to decorate cupcakes, I would take a class in it. If I wanted to be educated on strategies for decorating my home inexpensively from Winners, I would just, you know, go toWinners. Or Pinterest.


But I'm here with you tonight because I want what the world cannot give me. We're choking on cutesy things and crafty bits, safe lady topics, and if one more person says that modest is hottest with a straight face, I may throw up. We are hungry for authenticity and vulnerability, not churchified life hacks from lady magazines. Some of us are drowning, suffocating, dying of thirst for want of the cold water of real community. We're trying really hard--after all, we keep showing up to your lady events, and we leave feeling just a bit empty. It's just more of the same every time.


The women of our world aren't looking for a safe place to cry about housework and ooh-and-ahhh over centerpieces. We're not all mothers, some of us work outside the home, some of us have kids, and others don't or won't or can't. Is womanhood only about wifehood and motherhood? What about those among us that are not wives and mothers? We're not all in the same season of life.


We are - or should be - diverse image bearers of a Divine God. We need Jesus. We are seeking deep spirituality. We are seeking fellow travelers. We are hungry for true community, a place to tell our stories and listen to another, to love well. But above all, point me to Jesus--not to the sale at the mall.


You know what I would have liked tonight instead of decorating tips or a new recipe? I would have liked to pray together. I would have liked the women of the church to share their stories or wisdom with one another, no more celebrity speakers, please just hand the microphone to that lady over there that brought the apples. I would love to wrestle with some questions that don't have a one-paragraph answer in your study guide. I would like to do a Bible study that does not have pink or flowers on the cover. I would have liked to sign up to bring a meal for our elderly or drop off some clothes for a new baby or be informed about issues in our city where we can make space for God. I would like to organize and prioritize, to rabble-rouse and disturb the peace of the rest of the world on behalf of justice, truth, beauty, and love. I'd love to hear the prophetic voice of women in our church.


Please, may we be the place to detox from the world - its values, its entertainment, its priorities, its focus on appearances and materialism and consumerism?


So here is my suggestion: Please stop treating women's ministry like a Safe Club for the Little Ladies to Play Church. We are smart. We are brave. We want to change the world. We run marathons to benefit our sisters, not so that we can lose weight. We have more to offer to the church than our mad decorating skills. I look around, and I can see that these women can offer strategic leadership, wisdom, counsel, and even, yes, teaching. We want to give and serve and make a difference. We want to be challenged. We want to read books and talk politics, theology, and current events. We want to wrestle through our theology. We want to listen to each other. We want to worship, we want to intercede for our sisters and weep with those who weep, rejoice with those that rejoice, to create life and art and justice with intention.

Let's be a community of women, gathered together to live more whole-heartedly, to sharpen, challenge, love, and inspire one another to then scatter back out to our worlds bearing the mandate to be women that love. Idelette McVicker wrote:

Let us RISE to the questions of our time.
Let us SPEAK to the injustices in our world.
Let us MOVE the mountains of fear and intimidation.
Let us SHOUT down the walls that separate and divide.
Let us FILL the Earth with the fragrance of Love.
Let us be women who Love.

Thanks,

Christian Women

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friends

Friends. We had a lot of them in Colorado. Mommy friends. Family friends. Friends who are related to us. We were never in want of company, someone to head to the park with, camp with, go on an adventure or just try the new fro yo place. Friends were one of the many reasons it was so hard to leave Colorado.

I generally don't have a hard time making friends, or at least acquaintances. In Jersey I have found it a little harder. First of all, many if not most families are two income, meaning moms are not availible during the day. Even MOPS groups meet in the evening. This leaves me and the nanny's at the parks in day time hours. I have nothing against nanny's, having been one, but I don't speak Russian. Or Spanish.

The other day I felt as if I stumbled into an episode of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" as I was waiting for Eliana to finish her class at the library. A group of women, thickly accented, discussing things that were just not really part of my life. From manicures to wanting there daughters cheer leading coaches to work them harder to days spent at Asian spas, our lives just didn't look much alike.

Despite the slim pickins' we have managed to make some meaningful connections. Brian and Amy and their two daughters often accompany us on weekend adventures. Tia and her two kids know all the best places to go and are always up for fun.

But I miss my Colorado friends, my family and my sisters. I hate that we are missing my favorite time of year in a beautiful state. I am not unhappy, just realizing that sometimes you don't know how good you had it until you don't.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Surprise

Blogger is being stupid so I haven't been able to up load this video, so here is the link instead. Forgive Annabelle, she is hollering "I see, I see, I see!" because she wants to see the picture on the camera.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU3GSwtUqRI

Monday, October 3, 2011

Woman

I wasn't going to blog about this. It somehow feels deeply personal, though it isn't really. It isn't yet a complete thought in my head, it is still messy and scrambled. Writing sometimes helps...and sometimes doesn't. Consider yourself warned!

My dad has this great "mission statement" for his life. He works hours on getting the meaning right, to sum up what he believes into a great statement that encapsulates his life. I love the order of that, the neatness, the ability to bring every other choice under this one statement. I have yet to be able to achieve the same.

First, a little bit of theology. This is my thoughts, and I am in no way saying it is "truth" or that you must subscribe to what I think, but I feel a little clarification is necessary before I move on. God created man in His own image. But He didn't stop there, he went on to create woman too, also in his image. He made us different, yet both in HIS image. There is something divine in femininity. I believe one of the ways I am in the image of God is I am created to be a life giver.

In the very root of who I am is the role of woman, a reflection of the divine. Weather or not a woman is also a mother, in the very core of who she is, she is able to give life. God did that, gave us this amazing roll in humanity that men will never truly be able to understand. I believe it speaks to more than reproduction.

I have lately been caught up in the idea of God as love. So often I feel like the idea of love is misconstrewed in our culture as something that is fuzzy and feel good, when that simplicity is not at all who God is. Some how I feel like saying "God is the life giver" brings a little more clarity to His character.

Giving life is painful. It requires giving of yourself to a level so deep it requires healing. God did that, out of love, for us. As women, we do that. From birthing children to working hard to build a loving relationship with our husband, we give life and it causes us pain. When we choose to put others needs before ours, we pour life into a relationship, our love costs.

This isn't a call out to all women to martyrdom. There is nothing life giving about a "woe is me" attitude or self sacrifice for the sake of "holiness". It is a call to live a life bigger than avoiding being uncomfortable. Do your choices honor the very root of who you were created to be as a reflection of Gods life giving nature? Do my words breathe life into my relationships? Do I cultivate a home environment that encourages love or do I cause conflict?

I may or may not ever come up with a great life mission statement, but if I did it would have to reflect who I believe I was created to be, a reflection of my creator.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Museum of Natural History

We took the girls into the city to visit the museum of natural history. We loved it! We did even see a fraction of it and look forward to going back.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Carnival

Eliana was so proud of herself, this was her first time by herself on a roller-coaster and she LOVED it!
Annabelle was mad that she was too little to ride on some of the big girl rides that her sisters got to ride on.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Van Saun Park





This park is so cool! It is within about 20 minutes of our place. It has an amazingly huge playground, a great carousel, a nice little zoo and even a train. It is a great way to spend a morning.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I smell a rat

I pride myself on not being a huge wimp. A little wimp sometimes, but generally a moderately tough chick. I kill spiders. I set and empty mouse traps when the occasion arises. I pick up worms to show my children. I have been known to hold a snake. I have a strong dislike for crickets (they are sneaky!) but am otherwise unfazed by generally creepy things.

The other night we had a guest for dinner, Matt's ex-boss and a friend of ours. We had a very nice evening, we talked about Jersey and other parts of the country we would rather live. We discussed the house and all its "character". As we sat enjoying conversation, our guest politely pointed out that a mouse just ran under our dinning room table. Awesome. I know how to leave an impression.

The next night we spotted the little fur ball while we were watching tv. But something seemed off to me. We have had mice before, I know how they scurry and I know how little they are. This guy didn't scurry and was a bit...large. I tried not to think about it when we set traps.

They next night, same time, same place, I saw the little mongrel again. This time there was no mistaking it, he was a RAT! I didn't freak out, exactly, I just told Matt in no uncertain terms that this rodent would be taken care of in the next 24 hours or the girls and I would be relocating until the problem was addressed. Off to bed I went, leaving Matt setting traps and figuring out a solution.

I was almost asleep when I heard a loud BANG! At first my sleepy brain resisted this as the trap going off but as my wine logged synapses started firing I realized that was much to loud a noise to be a trap. I scampered downstairs to see what it was.

I found Matt staring into the corner where the rat had been seen, he looked slightly befuddled. At this point in the story it might behoove me to mention that Matt and I had split a bottle of wine while watching a movie earlier in the evening. I asked Matt if everything was ok. He said it was and that is when I notice the rat under a Tupperware. I am proud to say I didn't freak out. But what was the bang?

Apparently, the rat sniffed at a trap and it went off and didn't catch him (he was too big for the mouse traps) but it stunned him. Matt, hearing the noise and curious if we had been victorious, came to see the carnage and found the rodent sitting there, dazed. He first thought was to grab a cast iron pan and see if he could drop it on the back of the rat and break its neck. Because it seems so logical to kill pests with cookware. With the benefit of hindsight and a little less alcohol, the fallacy of this plan would be easily recognized.

When he dropped the pan and missed the rat entirely, it was time for plan b. Shooting from the hip as he was, he grabbed one of the kids toy Tupperware and smacked it down over the rat. We now had a slightly bloody, disoriented rat trapped on our floor, Matt in his boxers, me in my pajamas, all of us wondering what the hell just happened.

Matt started to fold a piece of cardboard to slide under the box so we could pick him up and flip it. At this point it occurred to me that Matt really had no plan. Neither of us wanted to kill the rat with our bear hands or really any other way, and it seemed silly to toss him in the back yard.

I suggested Matt take him down to the river but he said he didn't want him to get out in the car and it was a little late for a half mile walk. I genitally reminded him that, in his obvious foresight, he had the rat in a Tupperware that had a lid, so we locked up the rat and Matt took him for a drive.

My house is now free of all things ratty. I would love to have a clever life lesson, qwippy remark regarding our adventure, or some deep insight on the whole situation. I don't. Rats are creepy and I never want to see one in my house again. Fixing the cellar door is now number one on the "to do" list.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Naughty" in cookie form

I have a 'thing' for chocolate. And I have a 'thing' for baked goods. When the two meet, it can be a little crazy. Well, if you think "suburban mom with a sweet tooth and expanding waste line" is crazy. It is around here. I will consider the utter pathetic-ness of that statement at a later time.

I had a gf brownie mix burning a whole in my pantry but didn't want to go the whole "make a pan of brownies" route, because you know me, I like to get a little wild. So I googled brownie mix recipe ideas, got some ideas and adapted as I saw fit. And, oh my goodness, I nailed it and because nothing is more irritating than having skinny friends, I am sharing the wealth with you! You will need:

1 brownie mix (mine was GF Betty Crocker, I assume any one that makes a 9 x 9 would work)
1 egg
1/2 cup of butter
1/4 cup cream cheese

Mix all of the above together. Should make a soft cookie dough.

1 cup of peanut butter
3/4 cup of powdered sugar

Make into a playdough like consistancy

Scoop chocolate cookie dough into balls and flatten a bit. Make large marble size balls of peanut butter mixture and squish slightly on top of chocolate dough balls. If you like your children and don't mind messes, this is a great job for little people to do. Bake on parchment paper covered cookie sheets for 8-10 minutes at 350. Let cookies cool on rack. While they cool mix

1 cup chocolate chip
1/4 cup heavy cream

Mix together and microwave on low until melted. Spoon over cookies. Sigh deeply. Lick spoon, bowl and everything else covered in chocolate. Wash smudges off of forehead.

These cookies rock. They seem fancy but come together quickly. The chocolate ganache sets up on top so you can stack them. I am not sure how long they would last because they disappeared quickly at our house. I blame it on the fact we had guests and I am sure the both had at least 2 cookies each.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Character is over-rated

Many years ago, when Matt and I were house hunting, I was hooked on homes with "character". Old houses with back stories, brick and hardwood, fireplaces and history. My dad has one. Matt and Amanda had one. But then we found our Colorado house. I must say, it was never a "love at first sight" type thing. It was a "what a good deal in our price range" type thing.

We looked at a lot of houses out here. Big ones, small ones, expensive ones, close to work and further away. I told Matt that if I had to live all the way out on the freakin' east coast, away from everyone and everything I loved, I was going to at least live in a house I liked. This means a house with, you guessed it, character.

I wasn't very old when I discovered the phrase "it builds character" was synonymous with "it really sucks by you might end up being a better person if you make it through". I quickly decided I don't really want character, the price tag just isn't that appealing. And really, is it so bad to go thorough life "character-less?".

Recently I have discovered that there is a lot in common with houses with character and character building situations. Basically, if you survive it, you might be a better person because of it. This occurred to me as I was standing in the shower watching my neighbor mow his lawn and his wife cooking dinner in their kitchen. All from the shower. Because nothing says "character" more than a randomly placed window in your shower.

Unless it is the fact my toilet flushes with hot water. Free hiney steam bath with every flush! And if you, like me, generally use the toilet before your shower, be sure to adjust the temperature accordingly. I can't tell you how many times I have jumped shrieking, damp and naked from the shower because the toilet tank was done refilling (with hot water) and the temperature of my shower just suddenly increased by 20 degrees. Note to self: flush after the shower.

Character also means that there is no such thing as "level" in this house, which, of course, saves time when hanging anything on the wall. Don't bother using a level, it will just make the straight picture look crooked if it is hanging straight in a crooked house. It is fun for the girls, you don't even have to push your hot wheels car to make it roll across the floor, just choose the highest corner in the room!

When heading to the basement, be sure to watch you head. Don't spend too much time down there or you will have to visit the chiropractor for the crick in your neck and the emergency room to fix the gash in your forehead from the exposed pipes or random bare wires that hang down. And I sure hope your remembered to put on your shoes before you went down, it always feels a little nasty to step in the stream that runs across the floor in bare feet.

The random wet spot that shows up on our bedroom floor every time it rains is a great conversation starter. No, there isn't a leak from above nor is the ceiling below it ever damp. There is no pipe below and and isn't wet all the way to the wall. Its a real "character building" head scratcher.

Nothing like randomly leaking pipes and clogged plumbing that pops the main line cap to keep you on your toes, and everyone knows you can't build character flat footed! Having to keep matches by the stove since my ignite never works reminds me to always be prepared. Have no closet space keeps me thinking outside the box (and under the bed). The funky smell in the carpet on the stairs helps me remember that while pets may come and go, their stench remains.

I have learned that I am not really as big of fan of character as I once believed myself to be. Character, like life, is messy and unpredictable. I will never again take for granted that just because an outlet exists, that it works. I will be able to say that I once lived in a house over a hundred years old, but I will say with pride that we were smart enough not to buy it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wrath of God

I swear I have been good. So yeah, we haven't found a church yet and really don't plan to, but come on! A earthquake and a hurricane? Is there a volcano close by I should know about? Locusts? A plague? Remind me again why people choose to live in Jersey.

To prepare for the insanity, the girls and I hit Costco yesterday, along with about 500 of our closest friends. We got some water, non-perishable food and stuff like that. Today Matt is heading to Home Depot (with, no doubt, 500 of HIS closest friends) to get a tarp to cover the cellar.

Oh, didn't I mention? The cellar has no doors, and for those of you who are not familiar with cellars, this means it is open to our basement. Well, there is an interior door at the bottom of the stairs, but it is so warped from weather and moldy, it doesn't shut. It just seems like a bad idea to have a lot of rain+ gaping hole in your house= big mess to clean up.

This afternoon will be spent moving anything we wish to keep dry up from the basement, taking everything (mostly kids stuff) from the back yard and putting it in the garage, buying ice, getting gas and cash and trying to be prepared for the storm.

I will keep you posted on the Apocalypse.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Feelings

I am not sure where it is written that the mother of the family must always be in a good mood. But today I am not and there is little as guilt inducing in motherhood as being crabby. My children have done nothing wrong but they bare the brunt of my crankiness. Matt quickly escaped to the haven of his office.

I am not a yeller. Even when feeling blue my default is quiet and introspective, not loud and abusive. Matt might disagree, but not to my face, not today.

There is no one reason for my mood. I am just sick of living in the in-between. Even now that we have a house I don't feel settled. Nothing about this place feels like home except the half-eaten blueberry coffee cake in the kitchen. My children's needs don't get put on hold just because I have 10 billion other things to clean and organize, and my home remains unsettled.

I am so excited to start the adventure of school with Eliana and feel like I don't have the time to devote to the planning of it like I would like to. It isn't planning I have to do, but that I want to do because I enjoy it, yet everything else takes priority to me spending several hours pouring over books and sitting with my laptop.

And now, the irony is not lost on me that the time I could most use a good friend in my life, I am thousands of mile away from them. What I wouldn't give to watch my girls playing with there cousins in my dads back yard while the grown-up sit and drink wine and talk. Hy heart longs to meet a friend for coffee or at the park for lunch while our kids play, to have my in-laws stop by for the day just because they can or have my mom over to have a tea party with my girls. Now is when I need to be meeting friends for happy hour to talk about how hard it is to leave everything that matters to you, when I need to be able to drop my kids at a friends while I figure out where my eye doctor or grocery store is. But there is no one.

My children know me enough to read my mood. This makes Annabelle clingy, Eliana ever-present and trying to please and Addilyn chatty. And I want space that doesn't exist when your a mother of three. I want to sulk, pout, bitch and moan, but instead I make peanut butter and banana sandwiches and tuck babies is bed for naps.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jersey 101

We are finally feeling like the concept of "settling in" might be within our grasp. After almost a month of Gypsies living, we have a house and a learning a bit about our new home state. Here is what I have discovered:

- Everything is expensive out here. The power company wanted $700 to put the bill in our name.

-People out here take everything very seriously. You can imagine how well that goes over with someone like me...who takes nothing seriously. The next time I have to listen to someone lament about how someone "disrespected" something or someone I am not sure I will be able to keep the snarky comments to myself.

-I actually heard someone use the phrase "Fo getabout it". I had to suppress a giggle.

- I saw a woman at Target with big hair, a glowing "tan", daisy duke denim shorts, a net top over a leopard print bra. I so wanted to snap a picture, but couldn't figure out how. And she was remarkably fast in her 4 inch platform stilettos.

- Good hair days don't exist for me out here. My normally "fluffy", slightly curly hair that I can straighten with little effort is unmanageable here. I am considering shaving my head. I put Carrot Top to shame. If I had no pride I would post a picture of the insanity.

-What they say about people out here being rude is true, sadly. No one makes eye contact or smiles. Cashiers don't even acknowledge you with a "hi". People don't bother with common courtesy's like returning carts, granting "right of way", or picking up their own trash in the park. On the other hand, people are responsive if you are friendly, so maybe there is hope.

- I take 3 different highways to get to Ikea, which is less than 10 minutes away. I get on a highway to get to my grocery store, which is less than 2 miles away. I have no idea how people navigated this state before GPS.

-I am pretty sure the people of southern New Jersey have nothing in common with the people of Northern, where we live. Which explains my Colorado friends Jen and Jodi who are formally Jersey girls of the southern variety.

I will keep you posted with other lesson I learn in this state :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Budget

I am beginning to think that I might just be an anarchist. It isn't just my general disdain for authority, it is my general annoyance at stupidity. Never have I met a company as poorly run as the American government. It would have been out of business years ago if it didn't have private funding. Oh yes, ever dollar spent must first be taken from the hand of someone who earned it with there hard work.

Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of paying taxes. I love our country. I am happy to pay for my freedom, protection from those who wish to take my freedoms. I love that our country happily educates all who are willing, I am glad to drive on roads that are cared for, I love our national park, library's, monuments and other things my tax dollars fund. I also have nothing against helping out those who find themselves in a tight spot. The government does a lot of good things.

Here is the kicker: we can't pay for it.

When Matt was finishing up school and we were living in Missouri, we were broke. Shopping with $20 for a week of food broke. Scrounging up change so we could share a slushy for a date broke. We had lots of conversations around the kitchen table about how to spend what we had. We had lots of good things we would have loved to do like give to missionary's, help pay for stuff at the church, buy from local farmers, all good things. But if we had chosen to do those good things, we would have found ourselves in a bad place, much like today's government.

When looking at our budget, I find we lose money on the small things. Matt and I are not really the type to go out and refurnish our house on a whim, but we will go out to dinner. Or buy a shirt. Or take the kids to the museum. Or all of the above. This adds up. The government does the same, slowly leaking money. Read this if you want to be really mad. Our government is past the point where the slow leak is the problem, it is now at the "sell your stuff and move into a smaller house" point.

When looking at the American budget, it is good to understand where your money is going. Let me break it down for you in bite size pieces:

You pay $100 in taxes and it is spent as follows:

Social security, welfare, unemployment: $22
Medicaid and Medicare: $20
National defense/public safety: $20
Education: $16 ($12 would go to primary and the rest to college and library's and such)
Cost of running government: $4
Interest on loans: $9
Miscellaneous: $10 this is your roads, parks, and everything else the government has its hands in

Defense spending is equal to the expenditure of 15 of the next top spending countries, but our GDP is higher than theres too. Our spending makes up 47% of the worlds military spending while our GDP makes up only 21%.

I am the one in our family who works the budget. This in no way qualifies me to figure out the national budget but here are some things I would do:

-Reduce time limits for welfare and public assistance from 5 years to 3.
-Empty prisons of anyone who isn't a US citizen. Give there counties notice that they will be shipped back in 30 days.
- Make the food stamps program more like the WIC program. Coupons for a few, specific, healthy types of food. No other.
-Put a 2 year halt on defense development spending.
- Up the retirement age
- Stop all bail outs, you can't give away money you don't have
- No more "stimulus". To much spent and to little to show for it.
- Make a 30 day time period where illegal immigrant can become citizens just for showing up at a Social Security office with the understanding that they can not get any public services (Medicaid/foodstamps and such) for 36 months. Digitally finger print everyone so there can be no fraud. We are now collecting taxes on thousands of new citizens!
-Sell off all the empty buildings the government holds and pays to care for. Money made in the sale and no more paying to keep them up.
-Responsibility. If you are in charge of a program that wastes money or commits fraud, your required to pay back every penny times 2. It comes from your states budget.

A wise man once said "you can't borrow your way out of debt any more than you can drink yourself sober". So true. Stop passing the buck, everyone added to this problem.
The last year of president Bushs' leadership the debt was 1/10th of what it is today, with tax cuts and while funding 2 full wars. But we kept spending like we had money to spare. Time to start digging.