Tuesday, September 30, 2008

October Eve

I AM going to go with the "breathe, blink, let my heart beat" goal for the month of October. But I'm still itching to make a list of some kind. I just won't make it "goals". Maybe "ideas?" "Suggestions?"

The new, no-pressure, lower-expectations-Teri is going to set myself up for success. Here goes:

In October, I resolve to stay home from Napa Valley. I will notice and affirm the cleanest parts of the house (i.e. the ceiling) rather than fret about the toilets and the crusty sheets. My children will receive my undivided attention as long as I'm not on the phone, the computer, the toilet, or a sugar high. If hubby and I don't get at least one date night, we will for sure watch "The Office" weekly. Maybe pop popcorn. And hold hands. If I can't remember the birthdays of friends and extended family, the least I can do is eat cake in their collective honor once this month - or ice cream, or several cookies, whatever. My Bible reading is going along at a snail's pace, and this is just fine. Should I not achieve the preparation of one new gourmet meal, I at least promise to refrain from making anything containing SPAM. Or trout. Or any fish, since the rest of my family hates it. BUT, if any friend, family member, acquaintance, neighbor, political candidate or church associate should invite me out to a seafood restaurant in October, I will go. I will not make any money this month. I won't wear out my clothes. I still won't be able to do a cartwheel. It's my intention to exercise. "Goal," as I've realized, is too strong a word - but it's my intention to exercise. I am a smashing success and athlete to be revered if I don the running shoes and get out the door. And I will blog.

I feel pretty good. I think I've set myself up for a winning month. I won't need to come back just before November to check in, you can be sure I will have accomplished everything above quite nicely.

What Have I Done?

Here it is the last day of September, so I went back to look at my beginning-of-the-month to-do list. Uh-oh. I have a movie still to watch ("Into the Wild") and some serious wallpaper border removal to do. All in the next 13 hours. I bet I could do it all if it weren't for the fact that I also have to go do John's portrait re-takes, pick up my kids from school, grocery shop, take my second-grader to his friend's house, prep and serve two meals for my family and straighten a few things out around the house.

Good thing I pulled off John's birthday this month, simply.
Didn't lose 4 pounds. Not even close!
I'll give some good thought throughout the rest of my day to what I'd like to accomplish in October. Perhaps "breathe, blink, and let my heart beat" are enough.

Monday, September 29, 2008

He's sleeping, I'm dreaming

Last night was the second night, in a row, EVER that John slept all night. In a crib, in a room separate from us. Actually, he woke up 2 or 3 times but cried for about 1 minute and went back to sleep. And I never had to get out of bed or nurse him.

I really expect any night now to get more than 4 hours in a row for the first time in a looooooooooooooooooooong time!

Last night, though my sleep was interrupted, it was nothing like the usual. He is officially night-weaned! And I woke up this morning and actually remembered a dream I'd had. That means I got enough sleep to actually have a dream and recall it. Funny, since it seems I'M LIVING a dream, finally having a baby sleep through the night.

Final little word on the weirdness of motherhood. Yesterday, after my first night apart from little John in 12 months of life and 9 months of pregnancy - I gave him a close morning hug. I kissed his cheek and said, "I missed you!" Then I heard what I said and found it odd since I was SO delighted to have slept and I thought for a second, "Do I mean that? Did I really miss him?" And I realized I really did miss him and at the same time I am really glad to be sleeping. What is that? Irony? Dichotomy? What? Whatever it is, my life as a mom of four children is FULL of it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Me and My Probiotics

Let's not talk about yeast.

Let's just say that years ago, my midwife told me to buy some liquid acidophilus and drink the stuff to better some health issues I had. I remember telling my R.N. Aunt Helen that it was like drinking rotten yogurt. She responded, "Well, essentially, you are!"

More health issues have arisen so I moseyed into Whole Foods the other day and made my way to the refrigerator in the supplement section. That place is STOCKED with all the happy bacteria you could ever use. I spent some time just reading labels and wondering what on earth some of those potions are good for. Then I picked out my 16-ounce bottle of "Blueberry Pro-96 Acidophilus Probiotic" and made my way to the check out counter to buy it-- along with a seventy-five dollar fruit snack Bethanie picked out (GEEZ-O-PETE that place is costy!)

So now I'm dosing on this stuff - about two tablespoons a day and I will refrain from reporting the effect it has. But I love the label, which I will quote for the benefit of any who have never tried this stuff: "At the time of manufacture, this potent probiotic contains billions of organisms per serving." A serving size is one tablespoon and, as I mentioned, this is a 16-ounce jar, so I can't even multiply that high! the number of organisms I'm ingesting is staggering! Go, little guys! Restore my healthy flora!!! (Ew.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008


It is quiet at my house right now. Kevin is at the store, and ALL FOUR children are asleep.

I crave quiet sometimes. I'd like a little extra right now. I must be leaning more toward my half-introvert side currently because I've been longing to go to Barnes and Noble and hide in a chair somewhere with a stack of books. The library might serve my purposes as well. Or... the ultimate in introvert --- go get take-out and eat it in my car.

Many years ago, I was on a summer mission trip and during our orientation, we had a "day of silence". We were instructed not to talk from the time we got up until - my memory fails now, but I think it was - bedtime? dinnertime? Anyway, it was a high point of the orientation for me. We had time to observe. I like to chat plenty, but I like to observe even more and it was wonderful, unimpeded observation time. What I observed about myself is that I felt safe. All my life, when I've been more on the quiet side, I've felt criticized for it. Not that day. Or, as I got "chattier" in my college years I ran the risk of annoying people or offending them. Not that day, either. And it wasn't a lonely silence. Back in the U.S., I've had prayer retreats or been part of extended "quiet times" - mostly when I worked with InterVarsity. But those were different - more isolated and therefore lonely. I got bored with the quiet or antsy and anxious to get back to talking with people.

What does this all mean now? Not sure. It's rare to have quiet minutes like now, and what am I doing? Chatting to myself in blog form. Perhaps when Kevin gets back from the store, I'll propose the idea of "Teri's Day of Silence" for myself tomorrow. Even if he agreed, I'm pretty sure the other four members of my family would not.

My favorite quiet:
*running in the early morning
*late night in the house
*an airplane at night (provided there are no screaming children - mine or others)
*the library
*a bookstore, removed from the coffee shop area (although I like that, too)
*the mountains, out on a trail away from crowds
*being out on a sailboat
*a cemetery
*the end of a sad movie
*right after the baby falls asleep

Friday, September 26, 2008

I've Been Around the Block...

...literally. How big is your block? We were sitting outside talking with the neighbors tonight. It became evident in our conversation about what a block is that I am the only one that defines it the way I do. (I know, normal people probably talk about politics and work stories...)

To me, a block is like an island surrounded by streets. If a city is well planned, a block is square and roughly a certain size. If you live in the suburbs, a block gets distorted by winding roads, shopping centers, and whatnot. Our block in Yucaipa was almost exactly a mile around. We used to "walk around the block" all the time. Here, the neighborhood goes on forever and has countless cul-de-sacs. But I've often wondered how long it would be if I followed it all the way around. (I know I'm sounding weirdo here, but this is the stuff I think about, for better or worse.)

On my most recent run, I did it! I took off down my street and followed it back and forth and in and out exactly ten cul-de-sacs. I had to pass a gated community since I can't hop the fence. Me and my iPod whizzed by a bank, a grocery store, a barber shop, a karate studio, drycleaners, pet supply, a doctor's office, a dozen or more restaurants, and a gas station! In essence, the block my house is on is a city in itself. I could do all the business a soul needs to do without ever crossing a street.

The distance? Almost four miles! And I ran the sucker. I've been around the block. How big is your block?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Show

It's 7:00 PST. Only two hours til the season premiere of my favorite show. I'm so glad it's an hour long - I need a Jim & Pam fix. Also, will the new HR woman figure out that Kevin isn't "slow"? What consequences will there be for Dwight and Angela's activities? Will Michael make it to the childbirth classes? My satellite guide says the episode is about weight obsession, of all things!

The kids are in their jammies and are trooping across the street with us to zonk at the Mayers' until 10:00 when we'll carry them back here. Key Lime Bars for dessert! (Of course they're sugar free.) (Of course I'm lying.)

I don't follow too many TV shows these days, so I don't want to be let down!

I'll come back with my review following the viewing.

Okay... A GAS STATION??? Did anyone think that was romantic? I didn't. Not even because it was a gas station, but because of the timing. Now I'm all stressed. I'm afraid this is going to be one of those "I really did love you but that was when I was stuck as a receptionist with no assertiveness and no self-esteem and even though you are a great match for me and a wonderful man, it won't matter anymore because I'm finally in art school and figuring out who I am WITHOUT a relationship!" Ugh! I know a show has to have this romantic tension and all, but seriously--- I was kind of enjoying them together even without tension.

As for the other characters - I love Holly! I love her dorkiness. I think it was hilarious that Michael ripped up the concert tickets. That poor idiot...

Dwight and Angela... oh, my! And Andy, surely one of my top three favorite characters on there - didn't you love, "Just like every little boy, I always dreamed of my wedding day..." Every time he talks I have to cover my face with my hands.

Not a lot of the Jan plotline. Loved the moment that Holly figured out Kevin wasn't retarded.

Note to Amy Wilhite: Did you see Holly's nameplate on her desk? Her real name is Hollister. Now THERE'S a unique name!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I'm a new Catholic, and I am so proud of my church. If that sounds cheesy, please forgive me. This website (named in my post title) has a video I loved watching. Maybe you will, too. I've been so discouraged at times during this election campaign, but watching gave me hope. I will vote!

Mothering After Croatia

My sister-in-law recently returned from a 10-day trip to Croatia. She and her sister planned a visit there to reunite with friends they know from a traveling dance company. I looked forward to hearing about the trip, and she shared lots of fascinating details. However, hours after our conversation, the things that stuck with me the most had nothing to do with anything touristy.

Rachel, my sister-in-law, has four daughters - ages 8, 7, 4, and 2. For this 10-day trip, they were in the care of my brother, a great dad. But my point is that they were NOT in Rachel's care. She had quite a "vacation" from everyday mothering. She shared with me that she had a lot of trouble readjusting to her role upon "re-entry" to the U.S. and to serving her four girls. As she described the trouble, I envisioned her walking around in sort of a daydream-ish fog. Daydreaming about the sites she saw and the experiences she had, and the break from crazy responsibility. Fog like the fog when you're awakened at three a.m. by a screaming toddler and can't shake off the sleep but have to.

Along with their hosts, Rachel and her sister visited a water park and had a blast. "It was so different!" Rachel told me. "Any other time, I'd be looking to meet the needs of my children and help them have a good time and keep them safe. But that day, I just went on the rides myself and had so much fun!" I could almost feel the fog rolling into my own brain and heart. I could totally imagine all the feelings she must have had once her trip was over. It's hard to mother! So... to avoid terrible re-entry scenarios - what is the answer? Never vacation? I don't think that's a good answer. I'm wondering instead how to work more fun into the days, weeks, months, and years of raising kids. Certainly some personalities are better at this than others. When Rachel described the water park outing, I recalled this summer when we went to the community pool and I got my two eldest children to go on the big water slide with me. Because I wanted to go! But in other situations, I think I miss out on some fun myself. Sometimes I just don't ask for the short, even 1- or 2-hour "vacations" that help me keep my wits about me and I NEED TO. Other times, I must figure out how to let loose more myself. And for the rare times when I get to jet off to Europe (when will that be?) I think there should be "re-entry" programs for moms similar to those I went through at the end of mission trips.

Returning to the U.S. from India, we had to be prepared to enter a grocery store, for example, with all its abundance and NOT flip into judgmental mode: "WHY do we need NINETY-FOUR kinds of cereal? They don't have enough GRAIN in parts of India, and here we are with FOUR FLAVORS OF CHEERIOS???" In a program to help moms return from long and luxurious vacations, we might need to ease them into a kitchen setting where dinner is cooking, the table is being set, the dryer buzzer just went off, baby is crying and two or more other children are all calling "MOM, LOOK!" simultaneously and calmly handle it all without longing too too much for a faraway fantasy locale. Come to think of it, I'd like that kind of training even if I don't get an actual vacation.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's a Mom's Life

Just returned home from our Moms' Group at church. The topic tonight was "Patience", and it sounds worn out and crucial at the same time. One thing I got from the talk (and a wise speaker) was that patience is suffering. I never thought of it that way, and believe me, I've thought a lot about patience.

So I have a lot to apply. A few things I'm thinking:
This morning I had half a second to read two chapters in Matthew. Bible reading first thing in the morning, while heroic, does not guarantee a holy day. Moments after closing the good book, I felt my blood pressure escalate when two out of four of my children woke up 45 minutes earlier than usual. I didn't respond as patiently as I would have liked, but maybe it would have been worse without the prayer/reading time?

Sugar contributes to my lack of patience. I'm cutting it out again. Say what you will, if I ever tame this beast, I'll become a saint. Like, instantly.

The fact that my baby boy (Joseph) is already almost 8 plus the fact that my real baby boy (John) just celebrated his first birthday proves to me that my time with my children is whizzing by. I'd rather mark my parenting with patience than ugliness and rage. (Duh, you say --- we all would --- but it's just good to be "reset" sometimes and keep affirming that I'm trying.)

Exercise also helps (a myriad of things, including my ability to be patient). I've had over a week off due to illness. Time to get back to it.

It was alarming that during a discussion time when we were asked to talk about someone we know who exemplifies patience, some of us couldn't think of anyone.

Well, I've been rambly, but I wanted to mark the significance of tonight with a blog post for posterity. Assuming I don't delete this blog on a whim, maybe I'll reread it when John is Joe's age now and see how far I've come by God's grace.

Monday, September 22, 2008

John's First Birthday!

It has been a day spent snuggling my little guy, remembering his entry into the world one year ago, and marveling at how fast the year went. Also, I'm celebrating the completion of the first year, always the hardest for me, and looking forward to mothering this wonderful boy into toddlerhood.

Here are some photos!

I had to buy the hat, of course. Big brother and sisters were in on it, too. But John didn't appreciate our purchase. He still looked cute, despite his reluctance.

I made not one, not two, but three cakes. I'm pretty proud of the cute little tiny round layer cake. That was the "let's give him his own cake and watch him make a mess" cake.

John's expression reveals that, unlike his mother, he is not sure what to think of cake.

"Maybe if I touch it, I can figure out what it is."

"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Apparently, this is the most horrible thing we could have given the poor guy. Perhaps he has an aversion to blue food dye. That could serve him well, I suppose.

John and me, we're a team. We're celebrating the anniversary of his marvelous birth last September 22nd, and thanking God for his life.

Happy Birthday, John.

If I had a job at the food lab...

... I'm fairly certain I would spend the bulk of my work hours trying to devise something that makes healthier food taste and feel like pumpkin bread. I have quite a bit of trouble getting my "5 servings of fruits and veggies" per day. Or "2 1/2 cups of veggies" - but I have no such problem finishing a loaf of pumpkin bread all by myself with no coaxing from the folks at nutrition headquarters.

So... guess what happened to me at Trader Joe's? I spotted this nifty little jar of Pumpkin Butter! It's a 10-ounce jar of goodness with the following ingredients: Pumpkin, Sugar, Honey, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Spices. To me, this sounds like pumpkin bread in baby food form. Or, like something I can spread on everyday whole wheat break and VOILA! -- pumpkin bread. Kinda. Without the baking.

I tried it on toast once I arrived at home and it was pretty darn tasty. Not quite as binge-inspiring as real pumpkin bread, but that's a good thing, I think!

Going back to my food lab daydreams, I'm now wondering if I can spread this stuff on broccoli and change my life!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Start

At the close of this lovely Sabbath day, I'm aware of a few things:

1) Love and mercy, the focus of the homily today, not my strong suit. I need some prayer especially when it comes to some extended family members. That's all I'll say lest you start charging me for therapy.

2) Fire ants are a lot like velociraptors. I saw Jurassic Park. I learned many things from that movie (it maybe should have aired on PBS). Raptors are intelligent. In one scene, the scientists were noting that the raptors would attack parts of their fences and when they found weak areas, they'd continue to attack. When they noticed stronger areas, they'd just move on. Well, yesterday Kevin re-caulked the entire East side of our kitchen counter, where the ants have been coming in. This morning we only saw TWO ANTS when we woke up for breakfast! That's about 419 less than usual! Take that, dumb ants! It was a refreshing treat to not have to wash their lifeless carcasses off my dishrag. But here's my fear. With their cunning little raptor-like brains, they are moving on to try new, weaker areas of our kitchen defense. Any day now, will they break through into the pantry? Start coming out beneath the cabinets? Seep through the window? I think I'm going to give myself nightmares.

3) Three years ago today my step-dad died. And tomorrow is my baby's first birthday. Time flies and all that stuff.

4) My only desire for this afternoon was to work on the ten-dollar rocking chair I purchased at a garage sale and am trying to refinish. It didn't happen. I did, however, get a birthday cake baked. Win some, lose some. Today is the day of the cliche, it seems.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday night tired

I have big plans to blog about topics like Croatia, the value in silence, and taking a walk around the block.

But I'm too tired. So my blog entry today is going to be a simple pledge, and I will leave my reason to your imagination.

I hereby pledge to NOT step foot inside the door of Peter Piper Pizza for AT LEAST one calendar year from this date: September 20, 2008. Furthermore, unless a relative or VERY close friend throws a party at Chuck E. Cheese's - I hereby pledge to avoid THAT rathole for AT LEAST another six months. Unless my cute kids really beg. Like really really beg.

P.S. It was a big day in the Love family for eating out. We're back on the envelope system with our budget, so eating out is rare, but we planned Peter Piper in advance and then my dad spontaneously took us to Red Robin for lunch. After lunch, he gave Cayna a nickel. I think this was supposed to make her feel better that he wasn't taking her to the airport with him and Joe. Then she ate the nickel. Then she cried her poor little head off in the Red Robin foyer. It was quite a day. I need to go to bed. Karen, I hope you sleep good tonight. Somebody really needs to!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Paint, Drive, Run, Stink

If you aren't into running, then I'll be happy to be the one to tell you that it's a really cool thing to form a relay team and take on long-distance races from places like Boulder, Colorado, for example, to, say--- I don't know, somewhere really far from Boulder, Colorado but equally as trendy. In order to do this, you have to be accustomed to sleep deprivation (moms of young children, we've found our niche!) and you have to have a hip support vehicle. This is the car/van/bus/whatever that essentially "follows" you on the run providing your own cheering section and a lot of Gatorade. It is also where you crash in all your sweaty glory while one of your team members is out on the road burning up the miles.

I have a GREAT idea about this relay vehicle. I want to buy a big old jolly bus. Then I want to enlist my children and any other children and let them paint the bus from top to bottom in bright and cheery "make-you-want-to-keep-running" colors. With the bus fully stocked, my relay team and I will set out for the start of the race. We will run like the wind, and our fun bus will be there, full of kids, non-running spouses, and probably a gerbil (every whimsical story like this involves a pet of some sort, and my kids are deathly afraid of dogs). The relay will last less than a week, but long enough that the bus will probably get kind of stinky. This is okay, because we will be enjoying the outdoors, the pursuit of bizarre American athleticism, and memory-making to the extreme.

I need some people to join my relay team. Are you in?

TV Genius

Genius, I say! We watched the rerun of the season finale of "The Office" tonight which aired last night. It's the best. I wish I was one of the writers taking credit for those PERFECT characters.

Only six days until the season premiere. I can't wait!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thank God the Firemen Didn't Answer

What would you do?

You are responsible for picking up hordes of children after school, and almost weren't able to safely drop them off because one offspring (who shall remain nameless) somehow wrapped the seatbelt on a crucial passenger seat around the seat and locked it there.

Well, what you would do doesn't matter to my story, since it's all resolved now, but next time, call and offer help, wouldja?

I need the seatbelt fixed. My faithful friend Monica suggested contacting the dealer, but I don't want to drive all the way over there AND possibly get charged. The owner's manual was no help. Apparently, Honda isn't aware that crafty kids can render seatbelts useless. Husband is in an all-day meeting with OSHA, but text-messaged me saying my idea to ask a firefighter for some help might not be a bad one. So I did what any desperate housewife would do - I drove to the fire station, parked my mini-van full of stains and walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell. Wait. Wait more. Tell three year-old that the nice firemen are probably not answering because they can see me on the security camera and can tell by my demeanor that my emergency is nothing more than a cat stuck up a tree. Leave.

Go to neighbor's house (thank God for InterVarsity staff - they rarely get stuck in OSHA meetings) and watch as he - read closely here, it's mechanical genius - tilts the seat back, thereby quickly and easily restoring the seatbelt to it's proper position. Mike knows I at least have half a brain. The firemen might have thought I conjured up this problem to get out of the house. I'm sooooooo glad they didn't answer their doorbell!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fun Family Fotos

Here are my two favorite scouts. Joe is now working on his wolf badge, and Kevin is officially a den leader! (Behind every good den leader is a helpful & detail-oriented Mom!)

Joseph was insistent on buying this "spin jammer" at the P.E. store at the end of last year. John likes to hijack it, and it's the cutest thing to watch him try to spin it!

John made it to the top of the steps all by himself, and was cheered on by the biggest fans anyone could hope for!

Bethie hid under this blanket oh-so-cleverly and whispered, "Daddy! Make sure no one finds me!"

Cayna was so proud to be the first "star of the week" in her class this year. She had a great time decorating her poster.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Book Club Substitute

I've shared a tiny bit here and there (probably more on my former blog, may it rest in peace) about this book I'm reading called Life Giving Love.

Tonight our book club (which I formed to have some group therapy as I "tackled" this book) is not meeting because I have a cruddy cold. But we were scheduled to discuss Section V. Loss of Life: Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Infertility, and Sterilization. Doozy of a topic. Truthfully, all the chapters in this book deal with doozies. And, since my "group" is not here to listen tonight, I'm blogging.

First. There is HEAVY mention of communion of the saints along with the apparent belief that unborn babies must be in heaven. Having had three miscarriages, including one set of twins, this means I have four souls in heaven with some connection to me. This isn't vastly different from what I learned B.C. (Before Catholicism) except for the idea that these children of mine can be intercessors for me, for my family right now. I'm still working at wrapping my mind around this and good luck to me - it's a big concept. Further, in consistency with celebrating that life begins at the very moment of conception, I've heard in a lot of Catholic circles (not just the book) that parents are encouraged to name their children even when they die while still in the womb. Even if I weren't Catholic, this makes good sense to me considering what I have learned about the grieving process and the mother/child bond.

In my mind, I named the twins years ago. I just gave them the names I had chosen for a boy and a girl. I don't know what came first, the names, or the belief that I carried one boy and one girl. Either way, I've always thought of them with these names.

But the babies lost right before Joseph and right before John have never been named. So... as I finished this part in the chapter I moseyed up to my husband and asked him, as nonchalantly as possible: "Do you think we should name our children in heaven?" (He gets these types of questions all the time, right? It helps that he knows what book I'm reading.) He nodded. If you know Kevin, this seems typical. I'm not going to spring some big question on him and get a formed reply until he has time to think. So, I got the nod. Immediately, Joseph takes interest in our topic. He knows there have been two miscarriages (he will someday learn of the third, but I'll save that can of worms for the future) and he asked if he could help. I said yes, Kevin nodded. "Noah!" Joseph says, which sounds great to me. And only seconds later adds the middle name James. It was eery (as if this whole thing isn't somewhat eery) how "right" those names sounded. So Noah James it is. "But what about the other one?" he asks. "Go for it," I told him, and he says he's thinking of a Bible name (ya think?). "What are the disciples' names again?" which was my consideration with this last pregnancy (now John). I start listing, starting with the juiciest: "Thaddaeus; Bartholomew..." and Joe just shook his head. As soon as I said "Matthew," he agreed. "Matthew! And what about a middle name?" Now I started coaching him: "Who are some saints you like?" And he jumped in with "Michael". So Matthew Michael it is! I really am okay with the looniness of all of this. It does my heart good, even after all this time, to have named Noah James and Matthew Michael. About twenty minutes later, Joe pops up with, "What if they were girls?" Good question, son. I'll add it to the list.

Since naming Noah and Matthew last night, I've barely made it into the infertility chapter. It's one of those books that I need more time to read, so that I can deal with all the heavy subject matter-- praying, meditating, reflecting... it's one of those lives.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

I know not all of my undertakings are true ventures, but I'm going to list some of my top fave "things-I've-tried" along with the gains (and losses).

1) Going Vegan (that's Vegan... as in: a vegetarian who omits all animal products from the diet --- not to be confused with going Las Vegan - which I might actually consider a venture as well... but we'll talk about that another day...) I desperately hate vegetables and got the bright idea that if I forced myself to eat more of them, I might change my tastes. It lasted two weeks.
What I gained: I learned to make a scrumptious artichoke dip. Before my vegan stint, I always dipped my artichokes in mayonnaise, but since mayo has eggs in it, and eggs come from a chicken, and a chicken is an animal even if it is bioengineered like crazy, I got a recipe online for vegan mayo! If you ever have a need for vegan mayo, don't fret, it can be done!
What I lost: just a tiny little bit of self-respect since it only lasted two weeks. Of course, I can't actually measure what I would have lost with respect to my marriage had I insisted on serving vegan dinners much longer.

2) Cloth Diapering. Three out of four of my children were cloth diapered. The factors that influenced this venture were: possible family history of allergies to disposable diapers; cost of disposable diapers; environmental concern.
What I gained: A lot of money. John-boy has never set butt in a cloth diaper, and every time I hand over the multi-million dollars a box of diapers costs at the store, I wonder why I don't bust out my cloth stash.
What I lost: The joy of a poop-stench-free house. We quit cloth-diapering when we put our house on the market. There was always a slightly detectable odor in the air around the laundry/downstairs bathroom. Also, I had an "incident" with the poop-sprayer toilet attachment that resulted in a LOT of trauma for me and a LOT of wall scrubbing.

3) Running. I credit my brother with introducing me to running. But then our relationship (me and running, not me and my brother) was on-again, off-again for years until I found the Couch to 5K program online (nowhere near the vegan mayo recipe, by the way). Since then, I have completed nearly two-thousand 5K races with no advancement into further distances. Somebody get me out of my rut!!!
What I gained: I'm in the best shape of my life, not counting a few (read: 10) extra pounds.
What I lost: Just a tiny little bit of self-respect when I realized that one of my favorite running songs is Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl".

4) Home Birth. Me and home birth were meant to be. I don't like drugs. I do like control. I do like going against the flow. I don't like egotistical doctors. I do like having a bite to eat when I'm trying to push 94-pound babies out of my body. I don't like knife-happy Obstetricians. I do like midwives. I don't like unnecessary interventions. Did I mention I like control?
What I gained: Only the best four births possible!
What I lost: I don't know. A c-section or two? A close friendship with an anesthesiologist? Some towels?

Those are the ventures which I find easiest to write about and kinda fun. Certainly world travel; converting to the Catholic Church; being open to "one more kid"; living in community; homeschooling; ministry; and simply being a member of a very dysfunctional extended family all qualify as ventures - but I can't always write about those with humor, so I'll wait to share details until I get a book deal.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Why Teri Blogs

I am not using first person in my title because I am stealing the idea for this post from a very eloquent writer over on this blog and I must differentiate my title. It is a FANTASTIC post that any mom should read. She links to other fantastic posts as well, so beware! Time flies online.

So, why do I blog? First let me show you a photo I took today:

Those are my journals from around 1989 to 1996-ish. Seven years-worth! I like to write, and I like to write about my life. Blogging is different in many obvious ways, but it's still sorta like journaling, only sometimes people read it and they can even comment! That's a journaler's dream come true!

Another reason I like to blog, is that it puts me in touch with other people who blog and we get to learn from each other and share experiences of all sorts.

I'll let this lead to the revelation of my "secret blog" as I've referred to it. My friend and fellow blogger, Rachel, told me about another blogger, a woman who lives close to me and lost her baby daughter to drowning just three months ago. Here was/is a woman who is going through the loss of her child - every mother's worst fear - and sharing the grief in her blog. I've called it "my secret" because I feel somehow guilty reading her daily posts - as if I am eavesdropping on her life and I can't understand why I keep going back. But this is an interesting phenomenon - it's entirely public! Probably hundreds if not more people are reading right along with me, and if you read what Stephanie writes, and the comments she receives, it appears that in sharing her life on her blog she is affecting so many people for good! Whether my blog posts ever touch lives or only lament the nuisance of fire ants in my kitchen, I still like this better in many ways (not all, but many) than the journal pile I keep shut in a drawer.

My "secret blog", actually titled "A Daily Scoop", can be found here. The photo of her daughter on the left sidebar links to the first post after the drowning.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chubby Runner

I am just not serious about losing weight. Thin and healthy does not equal steak and ice cream. And I want the thin and healthy along with the steak and ice cream. I know, I've seen all the overweight people just in my world - and they all want thin and healthy along with steak and ice cream. But there can only be one winner and steak and ice cream win the contest a LOT.

Gross. The more I keep typing steak and ice cream, the worse it sounds. For the record, I like both but never on the same plate.

I went to WW yesterday and I'm down over a pound. But this is by some freak blip in the system since I have NOT been following the plan.

Every day I hope that some extra motivation will suddenly dawn in my heart and mind, but every day I keep opting for a spoonful of peanut butter over the value of getting to my goal weight. I refuse to remove my weight-loss "sidebar" over there no matter how grim and revealing it is.

In other fitness news, my issue of Runner's World just came, and I'll read it cover to cover as usual. I am reminded that I have no up-to-date running goal. My most recent one was to make it through the hot summer still running. I did! But now with Fall and cooler weather approaching, I'd really like to choose a 10K or maybe even a 1/2 marathon. But I can't get over the image of myself running with this extra weight. I'll cross the finish line and you'll see me with the names of my sponsors written in neon green across my running shirt: Ben & Jerry's; Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips; Jif peanut butter; Omaha Steaks; Kellogg's Pop Tarts.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Not too twaddly

The movie, that is (see my previous post). It was good. It is quite different from the book. I discovered this is Helen Hunt's baby - she produced, directed, and starred - and we'll say she "took some liberties". Surprisingly, in this case, the "liberties" made the movie a better story, but I need some time to iron this out in my head.

As I watched, I tried to decide if this was an adoption movie. I certainly wanted an adoption movie, and there were several scenes where that desire was satisfied, but plenty more was going on. The main character had her upbringing, faith, family, marriage, career, desire for children, and ALSO her newly-introduced birth mom to contend with. Watching all the parts of this woman's life swirl together, I actually came to applaud Helen Hunt as the screenwriter. She presented this character in a non-compartmentalized way. If she had focused only on the adoption aspect, it would have been a documentary rather than a comedy/drama. Forgive my over-application to my own life, but if I was only focused on the adoption aspect, the rest of my life would dwindle from lack of attention if my fantasy came true and my birth mom appeared. Right? So April, the main character, deals with ALL the parts of her life and the resulting story is entertaining and even inspiring.

Oddly, my two favorite parts aren't even adoption-centered:

First, I like the scene where April goes to the E.R. with her new boyfriend and his sick child. It is the middle of the night, or maybe very early morning, and she is exhausted and looks it. It is a poignant picture of the tremendous burden involved in parenting. And yet there's a sense that "this is just what you do, and it's okay".

Second, at a vital moment in April's life, her mom asks her if she'd like to pray. April refuses because she is tremendously frustrated at God and confused about his nature. (The age-old: "I thought God was supposed to be good, but here I am suffering with...") With her mother's help, she considers God in a new and brighter light and is able to sing, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." (the Jewish daily confession of faith from Deuteronomy 6) LOVED that part! At a moment when she felt most vulnerable, and most in need of all the attributes of God she cried out in acceptance toward his true nature. If this amazing moment of realization was Helen Hunt's intention, bravo!

Admitting my twaddle

Lured by the well-arranged display of books at the GROCERY STORE of all places, I impulsively bought a book (just like they want you to) whilst "picking up" some milk and eggs a month or so ago. Then She Found Me is by Elinor Lipman and really didn't impress my socks off. I'll tell you why: 1) I'm an impossible audience. Being an adoptee myself, I have some fantasies in the area of "Being Found" and Lipman's characters didn't fit into my fantasy. 2) Since the book was recently made into a movie, this paperback edition sported a movie photo on the cover including stars Bette Midler and Helen Hunt. I like both actresses well enough, but there are many reasons Bette Midler especially doesn't fit into my "Being Found" fantasy. The whole undertaking of reading this book was jinxed from the beginning.

Tonight, in a display of just what a glutton for punishment I am - I have rented the movie. I will report back later with my review. Try to contain your excitement.

Since I spent some time on my good friend's blog today and read her mention of "twaddle" (see: Charlotte Mason - teaching methods) - I will share this review quote from the Chicago Tribune which tries so SO hard to lend the author some merit:

"If Jane Austen had been born about two centuries later, gone to Smith, then palled around with Fran Lebowitz, chances are she'd have written like Elinor Lipman..." Hm.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

RCIA - Hooray!

RCIA is the class you take to become Catholic. I was part of it in Yucaipa with some GREAT people (one of whom is married to one of my favorite bloggers) and that is where I watched ALL of my misconceptions about Catholicism fall apart. Then we moved and a year ago this month started RCIA "officially" at our new (and current) parish.

RCIA 2008-2009 just got started and now I'm attending as part of the team who coordinates it. I am LOVING it! I get to work with and know people who are coming to Jesus and his church and that is (and long has been) my favorite thing. Our first meeting evoked feelings in me that I recognized from wonderful years of involvement in college ministry. It is not necessarily fun to do the work and organizing needed to serve people in the church or in para-church work. But when an "event" comes together, it's a "high" of sorts. I love people. I love to meet them and hear where they're coming from and ESPECIALLY get bits of the story of how God is working in their lives. And to think I'll get to be sort of the audience for that as they grow, seek, question, grapple, and respond - I LOVE it! Thank you, God, for this opportunity.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Just wondering

I left our moms' group playdate with too little time to go home, but too much time to go sit at the school waiting to pick up my Kindergartener. Just the right amount of time to go to Saxbys and get a chocolate chip fro-latte. (Only 1 point on Weight Watchers.) (That was a lie.)

So I'm sipping my mood-booster and cruising around Henderson and I noticed the last name of an old schoolmate of mine (from VERY long-ago --- 3rd & 4th grade!) on a construction project. It got me thinking about those two years that I went to private school with a whole bunch of kids a whole lot wealthier than me. How was I shaped by that experience?

I remember a swim party at one kid's house. There was a swordfish over the fireplace in his living room. Seems he and his dad went deepsea fishing on some regular basis. So... this classmate and his father were out on a boat in the Pacific while I was washing the Datsun on our front lawn. Fascinating.

Also, my best friend lived in the Country Club in a 28-story high-rise complete with doorman. Her father was a former senator and her mother was a well-educated, VERY eccentric woman who served radishes and skim milk for lunch. I think I am a more well-rounded person for having had these people in my life, but in what way? It's more than just something to blog about, but I suppose it will take another wander-y drive and another caffeine-infused drink to figure it out.

Banana Shopping

In the produce section a few supermarket visits ago, I noticed a tiny dead baby bird under the bananas. I confess I didn't alert any personnel - I didn't feel like explaining it to my 3 year-old daughter at that moment.

But this is way worse!

Bad day(s) for bananas!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Ever get the feeling that you're overburdened by emotions, and the fix-it would be a long hike to the peak of some mountain where you could breathe deep and maybe yell at the top of your lungs for a minute or so? No? Me neither.

I told my mom today that I was still feeling bugged by my MIL's visit this weekend and my mom's response was, "are you going to see your counselor again soon?"

Still can't figure out babysitting to make it to counseling twice a month - but I gotta do it. Meanwhile... we had family prayer tonight, sent the kids to bed, and then I hopped in my friend Jenny's Volkswagen Jetta (so fun!) to zoom off for some frozen yogurt and an hour of free therapy with a friend. I was wearing my husband's 14 year-old baseball t-shirt and my Macy's jammy pants (complete with cheesburger pie spit-up around the ankle area), Old Navy flip-flops, my St. Catherine medal and end-of-the-day hair so I apologized to my professionally-dressed friend who just laughed at me. "As long as you don't see someone you know, right?" Problem is, every time I go to this particular yogurt hot-spot, I do see someone I know. Once I saw a friend from Weight Watchers, once my landlord, once a college friend. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, just after paying for my treat, about to plop down on the lime-green couch, I hear, "Teri!" and turned to see -- that's right --- my THERAPIST!!! My counselor! The woman I pay to listen to my issues now standing before me in the yogurt shop and smiling at me in all my casual glory.

I need to make an appointment, and soon!

Clinging to the cliche

I'm holding on to the whole "Every day is a new beginning" truth right now. Today I am eating well, trying to forget the weekend's "difficulties", and being thankful I got out for a run earlier. I won't think about tomorrow.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Five out of six of us are asleep upstairs right now. And John is in the big crib for the first time in big brother's room tonight. I can ask for a miracle - that he will out of nowhere sleep through the night, right?

It's been a long Monday following a long weekend of mother-in-law. I'm off to sleep. Here's to Tuesday!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Woman Who Smiled

Two weeks ago in church, our family was seated toward the front of the church as we always are, in hopes that if our children can better see what's going on, they'll learn and appreciate the Mass. John was squawking a little, but only sporadically, and not enough (in our opinion) to take him out of the service quite yet. A woman in front of me leaned over and said to her neighbor, "They should sit in the back."

I was so angry! Not only did I resent her lack of patience toward my child (or maybe children in general), but, as usual, I was already dealing with my own issues. I am part of a book group reading the book Life Giving Love, which presents and defends the Catholic Church's teaching on being "open to life", against contraception, and, just generally pro-kid. So here I am as a recent convert trying with all my heart to really understand and embrace these teachings which are new to me and somewhat difficult - but I do see God working in my heart and mind. Then I go to Mass at the DARN SAME CHURCH THAT TEACHES THIS STUFF and some rude lady wants to relegate my family to the rear of the church where we won't bother her!!! I wish I had swallowed my wounded pride and prayed for that woman, but I didn't. I told God I hated his church and I wandered in tears around the outside of the building with my baby in my arms until I realized that I didn't have my car keys and it was too hot to be outside. I spent the remainder of the service NOT participating in the Eucharist and roaming the hallways until John went to sleep in my arms.

Today, we sat up front in church, same as usual. Just after we were settled in our seats, John started jabbering and capturing the attention of everyone around us. A woman in front of me turned around and just BEAMED at my baby with the most lovely smile. After church, I put my hand on her shoulder and said, "I just want to thank you for smiling so nicely at us. That's not always the expression I get and it made my whole day." Of course, I'm tearing up like a basketcase by the time I finish talking, but somehow it was healing. She said a few nice words and that was that. Because of her (since I'm honestly not capable on my own), I can now forgive that woman from two weeks ago. I don't hate the Church. And I VOW to always smile at people in church - especially other moms and their beautiful children.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


You don't need to read about my weight GAIN of all things.

My revelation about authority issues is worth hashing through, but until I get some more sleep I don't think I can gather the thoughts.

And I really want to hear what you might think about this "secret" blog I keep reading, but I don't have the guts to share it yet.

So... inspired by Laura and her Erma Bombeck post, I want to list my favorite authors. If I ever fulfill my dream of writing something publishable (is that a word?) - these are the writers I would credit with being my role models:

Erma Bombeck (truly an idol of sorts)

Dave Barry (sorry, I'm no literary giant)

Jane Austen (maybe this will give me SOME credibility)

Judy Blume (it's hard to believe Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret didn't influence me in some way since I read it 243 times - plus you gotta love a censored author... kinda)

Betty Smith

Anne Rice (though I fought against reading her for a LONG time and will never read her pre-conversion stuff - it's just not my genre)

Shel Silverstein (yes, I'm serious)

whoever writes for Dave Letterman - (I have to admire anyone who can just pull crap out of the hat of their imagination like that and be big-network for sooooo long--- of course I realize this is not just one guy all this time, but it's a fun thought in my little head)

Jack Handey. If you know who Jack Handey is, you are my best friend. If you don't know who Jack Handey is, let me share a brief excerpt from one of his books (4 are on my shelf). You may have heard of him on Saturday Night Live, unless you are/were thoroughly offended by that show, which I can actually understand. Anyway, the excerpt: "Sometimes the beauty of the world is so overwhelming, I just want to throw back my head and gargle. Just gargle and gargle, and I don't care who hears me, because I am beautiful."

I know I'm forgetting some... many, even. But those are the standouts.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I asked Kevin what I should blog about...

...since I don't have any great inspiration. He suggested the riveting topic: "Igneous Rock Formations." I really thought he'd come up with something.

So this reminds me that on a secret blog I like to read, the writer's husband contributed a post. He observed that 1) lots of blogs are all about eating and/or are dedicated to recipes; 2) it's common to list random facts about yourself; 3) a lot of bragging goes on about kids with accompanying photos. I'm going to try all three!

1) My recipe of the day. I hosted a "first day of school" prayer brunch last week and my new friend Monica brought these muffins. They were delicious and are (relatively) low-fat so I asked for the recipe. Here it is:

Sweet Muffins

2 cups Bisquick
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup nonfat milk
Chocolate chips, or whatever sounds good

Combine ingredients and drop into greased/sprayed muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 13-18 minutes.

2) Random facts about myself:
I am much more a night person than a morning person and look forward to my kids' teenage years when they stay up late and sleep in late. I'll be right there with them.

Today I discovered I have big issues with authority (which is funny considering I just signed up for a church with a Pope) and I want to work through this issue. I think it might have ties to everything from my eating habits to anger issues.

I just don't get sick of "Friends" reruns. Or "The Office."

I've never had arthritis.

Songs on my iPod with cuss words in them make me run faster and with more energy. (Why is this, by the way?)

I really really really liked Ronald Reagan.

3) Bragging about my kids and accompanying photos:
Joseph will be singing a solo in church this Sunday! (His father's genes.)
Cayna only took 9 days of Kindergarten to start writing her name properly (not using all caps).
Bethanie has the most beautiful laugh in the universe.
John is so smart he figured out that biting Mommy is a big "NO!" so after he takes a chunk of my flesh he starts furiously shaking his head "no".
And here are the photos:

This is Bethanie playing intently on a small pier on the big Snake River. We were on our summer vacation in Idaho and the kids all spent MUCH time catching minnows and water spiders.

Joseph was proud of a few non-uniform t-shirts we bought him toward the end of the school year -- this is one of them. He is pictured here in the 70+ year-old log cabin we stayed in on our vacation. It was quite rustic, that's all I'll say.

Handsome John in a swing at the Bighorn Sheep park. I could brag on and on about what a wonderful little boy he is, but truth be told he ate some sheep poop soon after this photo was taken.

Cayna is a joy and a beauty. This is the best photo to share since she's wearing her favorite piece of clothing - a swimsuit. No matter the season, she almost prefers swimwear to princess regalia.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Is it too much to ask? (bit of a complaint post)

I really want to be able to leave a load of laundry in the washer for a day or two (or even longer) after it has completed a wash cycle without the black creeping mold on the doorseal getting so increasingly awful.

If I'm going to succeed in lowering my sugar intake, I'm going to need to find another breakfast besides sweetened cold cereal that is just as low maintenance in the morning when I am half asleep and not about to actually COOK.

Same goes for lunch, actually, when I think about it.

And dinner. Although I rarely try to serve my family cold cereal for dinner, it has been known to happen under certain circumstances.

For a bug service to actually RID MY KITCHEN OF FREAKING FIRE ANTS???????

My nearly one year-old could change my life if he would just sleep longer than 3 or MAYBE 4 hours at a time. Let's add this up: thanks to sleep deprivation while pregnant due to having to pee through the night; and crazy newborns who have to eat nonstop to maintain their 11-pound figures; then they stay in the habit througout the first year --- I have not slept through the night in AT LEAST 21 months, ladies and gentlemen. No wonder I'm a moody son-of-a-gun.

It is after 10:00. I gotta go to bed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Donuts Have Carbs???

This is one of my favorite stories and has turned into an inside joke with Kevin and me.

Our friend Jason's dad was overweight and diabetic. His health was in serious jeopardy and he went on the Atkins diet or some version of it. One day Jason walked in on his dad munching on a box of donuts and commented on the awful food choice. His dad, (I imagine donut crumbs falling from his lips) seeming surprised, responded, "Donuts have carbs?"

That kills me! That little three-word quote is our quip whenever something is PAINFULLY obvious, but somebody misses it.

Why am I telling this story?

I keep trying to cut out sweets. Not all carbs or flour - not that drastic, but still pretty crazy for me --- ice cream, cookies, cereal. It's difficult, to say the least - which is unfortunate since it makes a wonderful and noticeable difference in my mental state and patience level which of course makes a noticeable difference in my parenting. And in my marriage. And in my overall outlook on life. But I keep giving in after about two days.

Enter Kevin. He has decided to give up sugar with me. Dandy. Won't even have it in the house for ourselves. But we were all at Trader Joe's the other night and thought it was only fair to buy our children a box of cookies. They picked oatmeal dippers with an icing drizzle. Later I saw Kevin pick one out and eat it. I was shocked - he is the bastion of self-control (nothing like me). "Did you give up already?" I asked. This did not bode well for my commitment, I'm telling ya. But he answered, "No. Why? Do these have sugar in them?"


Well, fair is fair, so I had one too. Which would have been okay, maybe - all in the name of humor and Cheers to our old buddy Jason. But fast forward to today. I ate SIX!!! I made it all day staying within my Weight Watchers points and then blew it with the Sugar-free (NOT!) cookies. Ugh.

I am getting back on the wagon right now. I really do want to lose this last 10 pounds and I'm going to succeed and I'm going to post the success right over in my sidebar. But if you have a second, better pray for me.

Monday, September 1, 2008

September Dawns

If it sounds like I'm trying to be a tad poetic, I am. Looking at my good friend's new homeschool blog, complete with soft photo and poetry, I'm feeling breezy. (Okay, now to break out of that mode for a moment: I'm recalling the episode of friends where Monica leaves psycho messages on Richard's answering machine but tries to play it off saying, "I'm breezy!")

But here I am, another new month on the horizon. It's a birthday month in our family, as well as the month in Las Vegas that marks the beginning of more cool evenings and eventually days. Both of these are fun prospects.

I've had a satisfying day. I've been organizing and throwing things out. These activities recharge my batteries like little else. Since I'm a list freak, I'll consider some "to-dos" for September and come back in 30 days to see what I completed.

Finish removing wallpaper border in guest room

Watch "Into the Wild" directed by my fave Sean Penn

Form my opinion on new Republican vice-Presidential candidate

Lose 4 pounds

Start removing wallpaper border in master bath

Plan and throw 1st birthday party for John