Saturday, January 30, 2010


Tonight at dinner we were discussing the relative merits of spiders. Well, mostly we were all bemoaning how icky spiders are, regardless of their food-chain necessity. Hannah made the astute observation that what really bothered people was the fact that spiders suck blood.

Leah was the first to comment. Bear in mind that earlier in this same conversation she made the rather outrageous statement that she LOVED spiders.

Ewwww. Yeah, that's icky. I don't like that.

So, you don't love spiders anymore, Leah?

Well, what I really don't like are the flying spiders that land on you, here (points to her arm), and then eat your blood. You know, torpedos. 

Leah continued eating her dinner. The rest of us all stopped, staring at her with a mixed expression of bewilderment and humor.


Yeah, torpedos.

You maybe mean, mosquitos?

Oh, uh huh, mosquitos.

She never stopped eating, and when Christopher and I erupted in laughter it was her turn to stare at us in bewilderment. I will never again look the same way at a mosquito.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Is That Entirely Necessary?

After 6 children Christopher and I decided it was time to purchase a baby bottle/toy sanitizer. Best not rush into these decisions too quickly. Actually, the impetus came from ongoing complications I experienced while nursing Josiah. I must use a special piece of equipment for nursing because of unsustainable milk supply issues. The product, called a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS), is a life saver for moms like me. However, it contains incredibly small tubes that must be cleaned regularly. This is so much easier said than done. I contracted thrush with Josiah, and simply could not get it to go away because I could never get these tiny tubes consistently clean. I ultimately had to wean in order to fully care for both me and Josiah appropriately.

I was determined to not let that happen again.

So, Christopher and I strolled through the Babies R Us across the street from the hospital, pushing our tiny 5 day old Phoebe in the cart, and spending a few quiet moments as a family of three before heading home for the rest of our lives while we looked for a home sanitizer that could clean my SNS parts. We found the perfect model, easily used for pacifiers, small teething toys, and most especially my long SNS tubes.

There is only one problem.

The designers of this model recognized, rightly so, that parents would probably wish to be notified when the sanitizing cycle was complete. In order to accomplish this feat they assigned red, yellow then green lights to come on during the different times of the cycle. Perfect. Now what would be really great, the developers thought, would be a beep that could alert parents who might not have the time to sit and stare at the progression of lights. Again, perfect. They then outsourced this single task to a man who sits in a small dark room, alone, and with nothing to do but test the sounds of different beeps. He long ago came upon a favorite one that had never really been given its time in the sun. He was saving it for the perfect project, knowing it would be something too special to waste on a microwave, the preheat function of an iron, or even a cell phone menu. I know this because the individual who programmed our sanitizer chose to alert parents through a beep that sounds 16 times.

Sixteen times.

It takes a full 60 seconds for the beeping to finish alerting every adult in the neighborhood that my SNS tubes are sanitized.

I am happy to report that I have not experienced a lick of thrush through nursing Phoebe. I do believe a lot of this has to do with my new management of the the SNS tubes. And I am utterly thankful for the 16 beeps, which keep me in the know every time my sanitizer is finished. I was really concerned that I might miss the moment it ended, but am so relieved to find that the designers took all necessary precautions.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

Ha! You thought I forgot, didn't you. It's okay, you can admit it - I have ignored you for quite some time. So, what tip could I have for this Tuesday?

Put your meal plan on your calendar - preferably the one you carry in your purse.

I always knew the value of a meal plan was practically limitless. It relieves stress, gives your shopping some guidance, allows you to make use of coupons or sales more efficiently... really, you could just add up all the pros right here and the list would be way too long for this blog. I was once again reminded of the need to have a meal plan by my very helpful husband who, while being entirely willing to help in so many areas, really can't stand walking into his house after work and finding there is no dinner in sight. Better even than that is when he is met with, "What should I fix for dinner, babe?" Yes, I need to honor his time, and our family's 9 bellies better.

However, there is a con. Two to be precise.

1 - making it.
2 - keeping it.

I tackled the first over a couple of days, pulling out the ole pen and paper to once again write down our meal choices that everyone generally likes, are easy to make, and fit with our finances. I assigned each to a day, rotated through a 2-week cycle, and even provided some easy "outs" for nights when things just might be a little too crazy for Duck a l'Orange. Great! I sighed contentedly at my accomplished piece of work before realizing I had only won half the battle.

A help for the other half of that battle (where I traditionally fail) is this Tuesday's Tip.

Keeping a meal plan is about buying your groceries in a way that makes sure you have all the items in stock when it comes to Thursday, and meatloaf is on the menu. Ingredients, side dish options, perhaps dessert all need to be handy if the value of pre-planning is going to pay off. Otherwise you are stuck with more stress. Now, instead of throwing something together with little fuss you either: a) cheat, and use another day's menu, for which you have ingredients, thereby creating editing/grocery work in your plan for the remaining week or b) you feel the compulsion to make a last minute dash to the store in order to fulfill the menu plan. I am sure we can all relate to how thoroughly pleasant last-minute, dinnertime grocery shopping is.

So, I literally wrote down every day's meal plan from now until kingdom come in my personal calendar. This isn't as impressive as it sounds. I use an iTouch, and I just repeated the meals indefinitely. The reason I did this is because I often find myself coming or going from one errand or another, and stopping in at the store isn't any skin off my nose. Now I don't have to rely on always having a prepared list before I can dash in and grab a few things for upcoming meals, saving me from the dinnertime blues!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Fat Chance Plan

Caleb: Mama, I have a plan and I'm not going to tell you.

Mama: Fine, don't tell me.

Caleb: Okay, I'll tell you.

His word is like oak.

(By the way, the "plan" involved using his new Nerf gun in the house during the wee hours of the morning before anyone else awoke.
Repeat after me: Fat. Chance.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just a Little Off The Top

I noticed Leah walk through the kitchen as I started to prepare for dinner. Something was amuck with her hair.


Huh? (She paused long enough to scrunch her face into its characteristic look of questioning - nose crinkled, mouth half open with one side drawn up towards her cheek. It's not the prettiest thing you have ever seen, I assure you.)

What is wrong with your hair?


Come here, Leah. (I wait for her to come to me before noting that there is definitely a thatch of bangs no longer attached). Is your hair cut?

Um... (begins to cry) yes!

Leah! What were you doing cutting your hair? (No answer. More tears.) You need to go to my room and wait for me.

I must confess that the pathetic look of pure misery, coupled with her new do were enough to make me start laughing right then! I had to hide my chuckles behind a cupboard door for fear of being found out. Moments later I was composed enough (read: dinner prep was at an appropriately "pausable" place) and I went to get the whole scoop from her.

Leah, what happened?

Caleb cut it.

(Oh, this was better than I imagined...)

Caleb? Caleb cut your hair?


Did you say, "No!"?

Uh huh. I told him I didn't think it was a good idea, but he did it anyway.

(It just keeps going! Leah is trying to convince me that SHE was the voice of reason behind her brother's unsolicited assault on her hair. Classic.)

Alright. You stay here while I go talk to Caleb.

(As I left the room I felt pretty good that my threat of actually talking to the accused would send shivers up her scape-goat using spine.)



Did you cut your sister's hair?


You cut Leah's hair?

Uh huh.

(I am baffled. Caleb is standing in front of me, batting not an eye lash while revealing the darker workings of his mind.)

Where did you cut it?

In the garage.

What did you do with the hair?

I stuffed it under the shelves.

Did she tell you not to?


(At this revelation I am stunned, for to have Caleb agree that Leah did in fact tell him not to means it's the gospel truth - and my daughter actually made the right choice... for once.)

And you did it anyway?

Uh huh.


Um... I guess, because I wanted to.

Son, did you have permission to use the scissors?


Did you have permission to cut her hai - nevermind. (These are the things you say before you really think about what you are saying!) You never have permission to cut someone's hair, or cut your own. Do you understand?

Uh huh.

(Now what to do with him. After all, in most cases the victim of hairstyling crimes is also the perpetrator, and the several months it will take to renew a look of normalcy to their tresses is enough to saturate the point of, "Thou Shalt Leave Well Enough Alone." This was different.)

Son, you will be given a special haircut by Daddy when he gets home. I hope this helps you appreciate what you did to Leah.

I personally think he got off easy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Love Languages

I read a book some time ago called, The Five Love Languages written by Gary Chapman. It revolutionized my understanding of receiving and expressing love. The concept is very basic, but nevertheless incredibly difficult to actually realize. The main point is that we each are wired to receive love in a specific way, generally categorized into one of the following:

Words of Affirmation
Physical Touch
Acts of Service
Quality Time

I think these categories are pretty self-explanatory - nonetheless, here is a brief description of each. GIFTS: Bethany is a classic Gifts. She makes little treasures for presents constantly, and even the smallest token, given as a gift, means the world to her. WORDS OF AFFIRMATION: Caleb couldn't be more transparent with his need for encouraging words. Telling him how proud we are of him, how much we love him, or how well he accomplished something sends him over the moon. PHYSICAL TOUCH: Leah loves to cuddle. She climbs up into our laps, Nana's lap, Jill's lap, even the laps of complete strangers. Holding hands, giving kisses, and being in close physical proximity are a must for her. ACTS OF SERVICE: My kids know that to bless me is to take care of stuff around the house - trash, vacuum, dishes, laundry, you name it... if you do it, I love it! QUALITY TIME: Hannah loves nothing better than to spend time in togetherness. Anything from conversing over recent events to a rousing game of Sorry can be used to satisfy her desires.

Of course there are nuances that create layers and diversity among these generic five. And there are also differences in how you relate to different people. For instance, I enjoy Acts Of Service from my children, Quality Time from my husband, and Words of Affirmation from my mom (don't bother me with Gifts... they mean practically nothing to me).

This was all incredibly illuminating the first time I was exposed to it. Christopher and I have very different love languages (Quality Time/Acts of Service v. Physical Touch/Words of Affirmation). This required some real work to specifically chose to do those things which meant value to the other. It is much easier for me to stop everything and participate in a discussion than to launch into a verbal treatise on all the ways I value and appreciate my husband. He can rub my back for hours but can't wrap his head around my need to talk.

And this is true with our kids as well.

Recently I found myself explaining the concept of love languages to Hannah. You see, if we don't consistently get what we need to feel loved then we tend to shut down, become angry or even bitter. The sad thing is that often it is not a matter of someone not loving you enough, but rather the means of communicating love missing its mark. Remember me and my husband? He could bring home flowers, a card, jewelry and symphony tickets every other week but I would still feel neglected and unloved! Why? Because I need him to sit across from me and genuinely ask me how I am doing. I need him to spend time listening to me and sharing with me more than anything else. When he does I am so much more capable of doing those things which mean the world to him.

Hannah and I are on very different planes in this season of life. She desperately wants Quality Time from me while I really want Acts Of Service from her. She doesn't want to do those little extras that speak love to me. They are boring and unrewarding. I don't want to spend another 30 minutes a night engaging with a child after a whole day of it. It is evident that neither one of us is working to serve the other person, and both of us are getting testy.

It was good to be reminded of the different ways people give and receive love. And my hope is that it empowers Hannah to better understand herself, and me as she grows older and more mature. I think it is a real asset to recognize that everybody is not wired the same as you. But, I am still the adult in our relationship - and the buck stops with me. So I have committed to spending time each day interacting with her in concerted ways. I know that as she grows more secure in feeling loved by me it will become easier for her to respond in kind.

It just never gets easy.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Christopher and I have never felt personally attached to missions. We see the importance of them, and our church strongly supports them, so we kind of figured we would simply trust our church with our tithe and live vicariously through it. That all changed a few months ago when we met Jeff and Heidi Frazee. They have a heart for the Mali people in Africa, and just recently left after their commissioning service in San Jose. We are thrilled to see what God has in store for them.

Our attachment to them wasn't because of their desire to serve in Mali - we didn't know much about these people, or their needs. But rather there genuineness and willingness to be upfront with the uncertainty of what exactly God was doing with them. Jeff has a degree in visual art and uses the mediums of photographer and video beautifully. Heidi is a stay at home mom with her 5th baby on the way. They homeschool their small children. In other words, they aren't the missionaries we often see coming through First Baptist Church, Monterey. They struck us.

Christopher and I are now supporting the Frazees outside of our church giving. We have connected with Jeff and Heidi personally, and feel almost giddy with the prospect of being in their back pocket as they travel to France for a year (learning French) before continuing to Africa. Our heart to support them has obviously been communicated to our children. What a neat thing!

Hannah mentioned to me yesterday that she thinks she wants to be a missionary to Africa. I asked her why, and she simply replied that she, "just wanted to." Kenya was her nation of choice, and we chatted for a few minutes about the possibilities of this occupation. Then Caleb chimed in from the backseat.

I want to be a missionary too - to North Carolina.

Oh yeah, Caleb?

Yep. I am going to go there as soon as I learn the language.

Well, you let me know how that goes for you.