Nailing Jello To A Tree

Parenting is a lot like trying to nail jell-o to a tree!

Nailing Jell-o is Going Global

lescayes

We will fly into Port-au-Prince Haiti and travel by van to Les Cayes, Haiti.

In June, DH and I will be traveling with a team to Les Cayes, Haiti. Historically Haiti is one of the poorest of the poor countries of the world. Access to healthcare and potable water is quite limited. The severe earthquake several years ago made the situation even more precarious throughout the island. Here at Nailing Jell-o, we will be working in a tangible way to help improve the lives of those living in Les Cayes.

It has long been a dream of ours to use our talents and education to give back to the underprivileged nations of the world. We were able to make a few trips before kids, since kids we have served homeless and those less fortunate locally through meals, transportation, lodging and more. Now we are excited to return to the field and looking forward to using my newly acquired nursing skills to bring medical care and more to an extremely poor, under-resourced community.While we are on the ground in Haiti, we will be working to set up water filtration systems, provide necessary medical supplies, as well as serve in a medical clinic and assist with any necessary construction and street ministry.

A trip of this magnitude is not cheap. We still need to raise an additional $2,500 to make this happen. Will you consider partnering with us and help us get our boots on the ground in Haiti?

Donations can be made through Paypal. 100% of all proceeds will then be deposited into a special account, designated for Haiti.

Throughout our trip, we will be keeping you updated of what is happening and the work that is being accomplished.

How Do I…

There are a million things that the instruction books don’t teach parents to prepare them for parenting their new bundles of joy. And every day, a new challenge arises that we are forced to face without instruction.

For example, when we came home from the hospital with the first one, we walked in, sat the infant carrier carefully on the floor, looked at each other and said, “Now what?” We honestly didn’t know what to do. Not with her, she was fine.  But we felt like as first-time parents we should be busy and well, she just slept. Hmmm…wasn’t prepared for that.

No one ever really tells you what to do when your child won’t stop peeing in their bed at age 5. Or how to get them to wipe themselves clean, when at age 6 they still want you to wipe their butt after “going #2”.

No one prepares you for the first moment they sit down in the middle of the sidewalk and refuse to walk one step further. Do I pick them up? Should I let them sit there until they decide to move again? Is there any resolution to this situation where I come out the winner? Let’s face it, there’s not a lot a parent can do to make a toddler walk who refuses to stand back up and take a step.

There’s not an instruction manual for 3 a.m. projectile vomit: 15 foot arc from a supine position to the wall across the room. Perhaps the best teaching would be how to get puke out of carpet.

How does a parent teach a scared child to stick their face in the water for the first time? How do we know when to let go of the bike we’ve been running alongside for what feels like miles and miles? No one teaches us, we muddle along hoping we’re getting it right. Eventually, they jump in from the deep end and swim away happily. Eventually we let go and they don’t fall off their bike again.

And now, a new hurdle. How do I prepare my tween for the loss of her beloved guinea pig? How do I tell her that her pet of nearly 5 years needs to be put to sleep? How do I balance a pet that is living in pain and a caregiver not ready to let go? How do we ruin her day, her week, her month, her life? She’ll remember this moment for a very long time. She’s already been waking up for hours at night crying because she is worried about her beloved pet, and rightfully so. How do I make a decision to make her nightmare a reality? How do I prepare her to say goodbye? How do I act strong knowing I’m going to miss “the fat rat in the corner” too? 

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Christmas…now that the trauma is behind us

For a mom, Christmas can be a very tough day. We spend weeks preparing, planning menus, hoping each child likes their present, and dreaming of a magical day with no fights to break up, glistening lights on the tree and perfectly wrapped presents under it. (Even though she sucks at wrapping presents). reading-family-7307 copy

That’s really what it comes down to: we work hard to create a magical day of joy and peace, spent with the very one’s who annoy the crap out of us the rest of the year. And for those of us who don’t live near family, we get to spend the entire day with the same 5 people we spend every day.

We picture the kids sitting down to an elaborate spread and for once spending more than 7 1/2 minutes dining with the family. Visions of cloth napkins placed in elegant rings fly through our heads. And we imagine the delight on their faces when they arrive at the table dressed in their Christmas best and politely passing the overfilled bowls of plenty round the table. Instead they begin complaining 2 hours before meal time that they’re already starving, despite the big special Christmas breakfast they couldn’t bother to eat. They sneak snacks from the pantry, ruining any chance of eating mom’s huge feast and spend the first 5 minutes fighting over who took the biggest piece of ham. While another one is gagging because she doesn’t like ham. And #3 is complaining because there is no green bean casserole. Then 7 1/2 minutes later they dash off, making mom wonder if Pizza Hut would have been easier.

Yes, we raise the bar high on Christmas day. Trying to create a magical day, with magical moments and magical kids who magically behave and treat one another with love and respect. And then we’re crushed when the kids fight, the toys are tossed aside, one child cries because they don’t think their gift is as nice as the others got. By the end of the day, the gift wrap is somehow pulled back out of the trash and strewn across the living room, the fridge is full of leftovers no one wants to eat and the kids are off happily playing with the toys they already owned. And mom is left staring at the egg nog wondering how her mom survived before Skype and Facebook.

Anger

Getting organized

lego

My son has Legos. Pounds and pounds of Legos. We bought them in bulk at yard sales, eBay, etc. he has long ones and short ones, thick and thin, and every color imaginable; windows, wheels, doors and angles, tubs and tubs of Lego’s, just waiting for his mind to imagine a store, plane, or Jedi vs. Sith made-up board game.

And then he has Lego sets. Anyone very interested in Lego’s knows about Lego sets. Each one is a specialty set, filled with specialty pieces, designed to build just one special thing, be it house, car, helicopter, Millennium Falcon or Jedi Knight. The sets are special. Sets are expensive. Sets are fun to build because they come with a colorful book showing each and every step and the beauty is in the fine details.

Sometimes when He has tree house sets, Star Wars sets, Batman, cars, helicopters, planes, etc. and each one of them, has a Ziplock bag it is supposed to live in, all carefully organized by me with the set number written in marker on the bag, and the instructions safely tucked away inside. But the most important part of any Ziplock back is the zipper. If it’s not shut the careful organization fails. And so it is with expensive, fun, specialty Lego sets, when they’re separate and each set is carefully organized with all the parts and they are placed in a bin or on a shelf above his big bin of Lego and young son doesn’t bother to utilize the zipper, the sets become mixed in with the bulk Lego’s and all the precious organization is lost.

Sometimes, when I’m laying in bed at night, I hear the specialty sets crying because of the chaos. Crying because they have been reduced down to a big mixed pile of bulk Legos, relegated to being just another brick in a lot. And they beg me to sort them, to set them free and build them back into their glorious calling set forth by their creator. Weeping in the night because an inconsiderate little boy allowed them to become less than special.

When the crying becomes too loud and I can no longer stand their pitiful moans, I answer their cry. Driven to organize and separate out all the little pieces and return them to their former glory. Hours are spent digging though the thousands of miscellaneous bricks, finding each and every piece that exactly matches the part required, no substitutions will do, the set must be perfect. And so it is, that this January has found me building Legos for days on end, sorting, sorting, sorting, leafing through booklets in step-by-step precision, bringing back to life the glorious creations for which much monies have been spent. Like Gheppetto building with love each toy in his shop, these precious sets are rebuilt.  Ahhh…the precious sound of organization at work.

I miss back when

This week has been a rough week in the parenting realm. There isn’t any one thing I can point to that has made it so tough, but I feel like I’ve been pecked to death by a duck. Constant refrains of, “Get along with your sibling” have been echoing down the halls of our house. So I’ve chosen to focus on the good old days; the days when the three of them were 3 and under. Yeah, I’m that crazy mom that gave birth 3 times in the span of 157 weeks. This is what I remember about that time:

-          Dipping their pacifiers in all kinds of crazy tasting foods, just to watch their funny faces. E.g. lemon juice, spinach, vinegar. The faces they made were priceless. #2 would take it out, look at it, put it back in, take it out, look at it, put it back in. He never could figure out what was wrong with it sometimes, but by golly he was a curious boy.

-          Plucking one of them out of bed at 10 p.m. because “mommy needed a snuggle”. And then sitting with them asleep in my arms for an hour for the “free” therapy it provided. Visions of the creepy mom from “I’ll Love You Forever” should now be entering your mind.

-          Reciting every single word of “Barnyard Dance” without every turning a page. #1 liked the pictures on the first page best.

-          2 ½ hour naps every afternoon. Enough said!

-          Falling in bed at night with 23,500 words remaining of my 24,000 daily quota. And almost always using them up on DH on the spot and then lapsing off into a coma, leaving him wide awake from my chattering. For the record, spending all day repeating “No” or the names of the colors and shapes does not count toward the daily allowance.

-          Loading all 3 of them into the van, driving to Walmart and walking the aisles without buying a thing, just to get out of the house.

-          Making up funny names for the different types of pushes on the swing. A traditional push from the back was a bum blaster; we also had tummy tucks, rocket launchers and many more. This exasperated DH at night when they begged daddy for a special push he had never heard of.

-          7 p.m. bedtime. Again, point made! J

-          The new coffee shop 2 blocks away with a drive thru window.

-          The eldest begging to feed the youngest every chance she could. Back when they liked each other rather than viewing the other as a threat to their food supply. Now they just act like ravenous dogs fighting over the bone.

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A feeble attempt to get family pictures back when…

Reposition...again....
Reposition…again….

You called me a what?

You called me a what?

Ok, just play and we'll shoot pictures around you,

Ok, just play and we’ll shoot pictures around you,

Too much everything…

I have a secret. I don’t like myself, more specifically, I don’t like my body. I’m too short. I’m too fat. My mouth is too loud. My eyes skinnyare always red and puffy. I can’t wear make-up because I’m allergic to every. Single. Thing. On. The. Planet. I don’t like my smile. I don’t like my short stubby hands. Certain body parts have always been saggy as long, as I’ve been aware of having them. My thighs rub together. My feet are always dried out and crusty looking. I’m not pretty. I’m just too much everything….fat, loud, short, ugly…

I’ve done a complete inventory of myself and always disliked what I see.

Recently it really hit home when I saw a picture of myself. I’ve put on about 12 pounds since starting nursing school. I’m a stress eater. Now not only do I see all those other “flaws” in disgust: now I see even more fat, more tight clothes, more weight I’ll have to work again to get off.  I hate my body. I hate that I can just watch a thin person eat and I gain weight. I hate seeing the size 2’s pig out on the candy bowl and try to remember the last time I had a piece of candy.

So, I’ve thrown a big huge whopper of a pity party. Poor me! I have slow metabolism. I have no thyroid. I cannot afford to surgically fix all the saggy, droopy body parts. Even when I lose a lot of weight, I still look short and fat. Poor me!

What I’ve learned is that these thoughts can easily translate into feelings of frustration at God. There, I’ll admit it. I think: THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE made a mistake when He made me. (If David can be a man after God’s own heart even while committing adultery, I think I can complain a little about my body.)

I know I’m not alone in these thoughts because ten’s of thousands of magazine’s world-wide are devoted to the topics of weight loss, body building, looking thinner in fat jeans, dressing for body type and much more. The American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s reported that in 2010 13.1 MILLION minimally-invasive, surgical cosmetic surgeries were performed. That a ton of nose jobs, boob jobs, liposuction, lip enhancements, etc. all for people wanting to look different than how they were made.

Recently I was re-reading Psalm 139.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

And I realized I’m not feeling it. I’m not really buying it. And I’m certainly not experiencing satisfaction with His amazing creation, my body.  Somehow along the way, I lost focus on the truth of God. Somewhere, I began to devote all my time and attention to all the things that are wrong with me, rather than focusing on the fact that the very God of all the Universe, accept no substitutes, the One and Only, Alpha and Omega, made ME! From scratch! He picked me, picked my parts. He picked my nose (Ewww – not what I meant), He picked the length of my legs. He put this smile on my face and 10 fingers and 10 toes on my hands and feet. Just like a builder, building a house, He picked every detail to be exactly what He wanted it to be. And He knew, He knew when He picked these legs that I would complain about being short. He knew when He picked this metabolism that I would complain about being fat. He knew when He put antibodies in my body that I would complain about my allergies. Because He wrote my entire life story, word-for-word, beginning to end.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to get from point A to point B. I don’t know how to move from complete dissatisfaction with my weight, my height, my allergies, etc. to praising God that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that His “works are marvelous”. Some days I’m not even entirely sure if I believe those verses in my heart of hearts. But I want to. I want to cling to them with every fiber of my being. I want to look into His eyes and see what He sees. I want to stop measuring myself next to my friends and their seemingly amazing perfect bodies. I want the glorious, resurrected body described in the Bible, but I want it here and now on earth. I don’t think that’s too much of a request for God.

At the end of the day though, what I want more than anything, is to believe what David wrote about God’s creation in Psalm 139. I want to praise God and believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And that when I was in my mother’s womb, He created me with loving thought over the selection of each and every body part.

A middle school what?

This moment has arrived way too soon. # 1 is asking to go to a Middle School dance. How the heck did we get to this moment! Just yesterday she was riding bike around the neighborhood asking if she could play with her friends and now a dance?!

As it happens, the dance is on our 16th wedding anniversary, so I thought maybe we could work a little date night/dance-a-thon/chaperoning action into our wedding anniversary.  And so I asked, “Can your father and I chaperon?” Apparently she thought I was joking as she very politely told me that it was only for students and staff. I’m guessing high school is when the eye rolling and “as if” comments begin. (Do tweens still say “as if”?)

Fearful images of dark, hidden recesses behind the bleachers filled with hormonal tweens wrapped in each other’s arms leapt to mind. But

she aptly erased those worries when she pointed out the school rules which expressly forbid kissing at school dances. Whew. That’s a relief. If they hadn’t made a rule against it, I would have spent the evening worrying about my impressionable, innocent, little girl being pawed over by hormonal, crazy pre-teen boys.

My next concerns are most certainly the same as mothers everywhere. Are any of your friends going? Do you know how they’re dressing? Will the gym be lit with a bazillion kilowatt fluorescent bulbs, illuminating all corners of the room? Will they lock all the doors, exits, bathrooms, closets so no one can sneak anywhere? Can I hide a camera in her corsage and mace in her hairpiece and spray any boy who comes within 10 feet of my baby? I wonder if a shark cage could be turned into a snazzy costume….

Pardon me. I have a baby to protect. An 11 year old, going-to-her-first-dance-in-less-than-a-month, baby. My baby. If you need me, I’ll be in the corner chewing Xanax like Smarties and trying to get this heart flutter back under control.

dance cartoon copy

Time to fight!

I am angry. I’m sick to death. Screaming mad. Ready to fight to the death, furious. I’m tired of taking it. I’m tired of hearing it. I’m tired of weddingaccepting it. Frankly I’m ticked off. No, it’s not the kids. It’s the marriages all around me failing. FOUR of my close friends have separated in the past 3 months alone! Not to mention all the others I vaguely know or have a passing relationship with who also separated or finalized their divorce this year. These aren’t newly married who didn’t make. These are couples who have been together 10 to 20 years!

When are people going to stand up and shout, “Not in my marriage!”? When are people going to fight for what they believe in? When are Christians going to scream, “Not in my church!”? When it’s too late? When marriage is just an institution? Now that divorce is equally prevalent in the church as out? When? Now that more than half of all marriages end in divorce, do you think anyone will stand up and take notice?

I’m sick of shows like Roseanne, Two and a Half Men, King of Queens, Modern Family and more, where the dad is either non-existent or a bumbling idiot. You want a better marriage? Stop tearing down your husband and men in general. Stop saying things that plant seeds of discord and doubt. When men have become completely emasculated and are incapable of leadership, will that be enough for us to stop accepting it?

Here’s some shocking statistics for you:

  • 41%-50% of marriages end in divorce now AND the marriage rate itself is down (Maybe that’s for the best)
  • As of 2003, 43.7% of custodial mothers and 56.2% of custodial fathers were either separated or divorced.
  • In 2002, 7.8 million Americans paid about $40 billion in child and/or spousal support.
  • In 2002, the percentage of married people who reach their 5th, 10th, and 15th anniversaries are 82%, 65% and 52% respectively.
  • Percentage of married people who reach their 25th, 35th, and 50th anniversaries are 33%, 20% and 5% respectively.

Here’s what you will never hear/see in our house:

  • Joking about divorce or leaving one another. That’s not funny.
  • Either one of us tearing the other down to anyone else. If we have a problem, we address it with each other. If we need to talk something through first, we have safe people we can talk to who will tell us if we’re tearing them down or working things through.
  • Either one of us watching, reading or participating in ANYTHING that tears down marriage. Our kids are included in that category. No t.v. shows where mom is best and dad is stupid.
  • Either one of us ever alone with a member of the opposite sex. (AT&T guy coming, I have a friend over too or DH comes home from work. It’s that simple.)

Here’s what you will hear in our house:

  • Respect – First and foremost we treat one another with respect. (Ask yourself, would you talk to your best friend, the cashier at Wal-mart or anyone else the way you just spoke to your spouse.)
  • Laughter – It does the heart good. It breaks up fights. It keeps us sane.
  • Honesty – sometimes this is hard, but we tell each other everything. Admit our faults!
  • Prayer – this probably should have been first on the list. But we pray together as a couple Every. Single. Morning!
  • Talking – We talk to one another. Every night after dinner during “our time”, texting (sexting), phone calls, emails, etc. We stay in touch.

In October we will be celebrating 16 years of marriage. Going strong and never ending. DH’s parents celebrated 36 years together before his mother died from cancer. My parents will be celebrating 45 years of marriage in November. My grandparents had marriages long into the golden-years before passing away.

This family isn’t going to take it. When tough times come knocking, we draw closer together. When we feel stressed and discouraged, it’s date night. I will fight to the end to protect my marriage. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and watch it destroy my friends or my church. It’s time to rise up and pray. Time to gather the prayer warriors and stand guard over our lives. It’s time to look the devil in the eye and say, “not here, never here.” Are you in? Will you fight for your marriage? Will you fight for the marriages of those around you? Will you take a stand?

Random, More Random, Morest Random

Why do vacuums have headlights? Who is this super mom that vacuums in the dark? Is she doing this while her kids are asleep? You know what I do in the dark while my kids are asleep? Watch t.v. shows they can’t watch. Have adult interaction with the hubster. Facebook, Amazon and eBay. Study. SLEEP! That’s what I do in the dark. My vacuum doesn’t need a headlight.

You know what I love about Supermarkets? Bad market research! They put the sugary cereals at what they presume to be “child eye level”, the bottom shelf. Only they made one tactical error, they forgot to actuallygo shopping with a mom and observe her behavior. Do you know where the shortest kids are in a supermarket? In the cart! 2 rows of cereal above “child eye level.” Do you know where the taller kids are? Standing 2 shelves above “child eye level”. My kids never noticed the sugary, awful stuff. They like raisin bran, granola and mini-wheats.

Do you know why our local Toys R Us has 12!! premium parking spots for pregnant women? They’re hoping that in her pregnancy addled brain, she’ll be so eternally grateful for the parking spot and the fact that someone cares how she’s doing that she’ll pay the outrageous R Us prices for the cribs, bassinets, bumper sets, mattresses, diaper genie, changing table disposable covers, wipes warmers so the little guy/gal doesn’t get a cold tushy while being changed, wall hanging basket for stacks of diapers, stuffed teddy hammock to keep stuffed animals safely away from little munchkin and trash bags made just for their precious cargo’s dirty diapers. All items she could have driven on over to Wally World for, walked 10 feet farther and got for 50% less. And in case you haven’t had kids recently, the diapers rarely make it out of the case into the hanging basket before they get used. The stuffed teddies end up thrown onto the floor. And the kid sleeps like, well, a baby, in whatever $10 sheet you toss across his/her mattress. Which is to say, you’re still going to be trudging across the hall to answer their little cry, whether you’re headed to a $750 crib or a $100 special.

Know what else is a PITA for moms? Radio commercials. Once your munchkins are old enough to pay attention to what’s being listed, there’s no end to what they ask for. Last week my son asked if he could get a mammogram. Guess they sounded like fun from the radio ad. In his defense, they were advertising a mobile unit and “ladies night out” mammography. I took my daughter, age 7, to the Keith Urban concert. Before you get your knickers in a knot about paying that much for a little kid, rest assured, I’m not really that nice of a mom, they were free tickets. On the way home she asked if I would take her to City Limits Saloon for the after party! Ummmm…I’m going with “No!” and maybe it’s time to change the radio station. I hear classical has no commercials although the scary golf announcer voice of the DJ gives even me nightmares.

vacuum

What I imagine I look like when I vacuum

The Waves

We stood at the edge of the ocean preparing to go out beyond the breakers. She whispered, “I’m scared, mommy.” My heart said, “Me too.” She was afraid of the waves. I was afraid for her.

It feels like the end of her childhood.

She was afraid of the rough waters she had to pass through to get to the calm seas. I was afraid of the rough waters ahead in her life. Middle school will chew up and spit out even the strongest kids. She was my baby.

She was afraid to swim into the surf. I was afraid to watch her learn to swim through the quagmire of tween years. She completed 5th grade. Now on to middle school. 2 weeks ago I walked her to children’s church for the last time. Last week I walked her to middle school youth church. Next week she goes to youth group with the big, scary high schoolers.

She was afraid to go in too deep. I was afraid of the deep “sex” conversation we’ll need to have this summer to prepare her for middle school.  I don’t want to. I want to protect her innocence forever. I want her to keep thinking it’s not possible to have a baby unless married. But I don’t want her to learn about it from a friend at school either.

She was afraid of the fish that might swim near her. I was afraid of the boys that might take notice of her. I don’t want anyone else to have her heart, or come anywhere near her.

We stood there. She stared into the surf. I stared into the seeming end of her childhood, knowing the tumultuous waters ahead for her. I took her hand in mine and said, “Trust me. We’ll go together.”

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