Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is it the Weekend Yet?

It’s been a rough week as far as the kids’ behavior is concerned. A lot of bickering and fist fighting has ensued. Name calling, punching have been thrown in as well, you know, to spice things up. I have dreaded getting out of bed in the mornings, and have equally not looked forward to the witching hour. For our family that time of day is from bus pickup at 3:40 until bedtime at 7:30. From the moment they get off the bus, until the moment their heads hit the pillows (after they hit their brother's head with the pillow) it's just multi-tasking to the point of ADD. All the fighting from the morning has picked right back up again, but now dinner also has to be made, homework has to be completed, and laundry put away before all the piles are kicked over and sock matches are lost forever. Meanwhile, wreckity-girl has refused to take a nap so she's all cranky and whiny, and the cat has decided out of desperation to poop on the dining room rug, because someone has closed the basement door where his litter is kept, and although he's been meowing and pacing the house with his legs crossed, #3 child is crying, and #1 child is whining, so who could possibly hear the 13 year old cat with the puckered hiney? AAHHHHGGGG!

But even still, I am supposed to be a good Christian mother, so I cannot (should not) raise my voice, I cannot (should not) yell, I cannot (should not) spank out of anger, and I cannot (really should not) hide in the linen closet and try to find my happy place in the smell of lavender scented towels and hidden Peppermint Patties. Instead I must put on my Holy Mommy Armor and face the night ahead. Now in all truthfulness, if I was really being proactive, I should have put it on before I crawled out of bed, but better late than never, right?

So, first I will don my Helmet. Ephesians 6 it tells us that when we put on our Holy Armor, the helmet represents our Salvation. Oh and it is, my friends. Without the salvation of Christ and the Holy Spirit to guide you, you may as well just wave the white flag now, because you don't have a chance. As the most important part of your armor, your helmet protects your mind, your sanity, and it holds your thoughts captive. It muffles the high pitched whining and fighting and instead tunes you into the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit who is whispering covert instructions for winning the battle. It also helps your voice to simulate that of a very calm Mommy instead of the Incredible Hulk ---which is my preferred vocal pitch.

Next comes my Breastplate. It represents righteousness: doing what is right, holy, and just, so as to live without guilt or regret. Sign me up for 2 of those! I hate those nights when I lie in bed and regret my parenting failures of the day. My temper was too short, I skimped on hugs, I didn't play dollhouse because I was busy checking Facebook. I feel so guilty inside knowing that I messed up. Raising my children is a privilege, and shouldn't be wasted on selfishness. Instead we have been called to live a holy and upright life that follows GOD's will and leaves no room for regrets. By putting on righteousness, we are protecting our hearts from the hurts that poor decision making brings. So cover up with that Breastplate, friends, and get ready for the truth.

The Belt of truth, that is. Now, I love a great belt. It can spice up a dull outfit, coordinate with your shoes, and most importantly, keep the Hanes Her Way from creeping up. As mamas, we move ALOT during the day. We are constantly bending, lifting, reaching, and we need to know that when we are in the midst of all this activity, our pants are not falling down around our ankles. How interesting that GOD chose a belt to represent Truth. But you know, it really makes sense, because, knowing the truth of Christ enables you to freely live your life without shame and without embarrassment . It supports you, flavors your countanence, and just holds it all together.

How cool is that? I love when an accessory is multi-functional! And GOD not only calls us to throw on our Truth belt when it is fashionable (around other Christians), we are called to put it on daily. It's not to be taken off when it doesn't match what you really want to wear (um, those would be those runnning shoes of sin that help us wander way too fast away from where GOD wants us to go.) So, Belt of Truth, function over fashion, and perhaps skinny and black so it goes with everything.

All this shoe talk is reminding to throw on my sandals! In Ephesians our Sandals represent peace and readiness. Ah, peace. Nothing brought me more peace as a new mom than a nice walk with my sleeping cherub all nestled in his stroller----except for a nap. A nap, however, was not taking off the baby weight. So, I would reluctantly throw on my shoes and grumble all the way out the door. But in those walks, I found time to clear my mind, I found silence while the baby slept (most of the time), and I felt my body become stronger and more ready to face the rest of the afternoon.

Sometimes GOD lets us just meander through easy stages of parenting, but sometimes He calls us to lace up and follow Him up a parenting hill. Your strength will wain and your muscles will strain, and you may cry all the way up the mountain, but your mind will have the peace of Christ under all the pressure, and your relationship with your Father will grow as you trust Him on the path where He leads you. Whooo, I'd better lace 'em up tight, friends, because I haven't seen the view from the top yet; not this week anyways.

So let's see, we've got our helmets, our breastplates, our belts, our sandals, and now our shields of Faith. Oh, yes, give me 2 of these also!! Have you ever parented a little boy? If so, you know that during those toddler years you just brace yourself all day as they throw their bodies into you. They love you hard, they hug you hard, and boy oh boy, sometimes they fight you hard, too. And not just physically. They push you with their defiance and anger. They throw insults. But don't let down that shield! Stay consistent and know that your faith in JESUS will protect not only yourself and your decision making but ultimately your little ones as well. Keep your faith right up in front of you where everyone can see it and where you can be reminded by it as well.

I'll warn you, friends, it gets heavy sometimes. It may seem easier to just set it down and take a little break. But your children are always watching, always looking to see if you are really living by the Biblical rules you are teaching them. When you let that guard down and begin to doubt the faith that GOD has given us, they notice. Others around you will notice, too. So, don't keep your shield in the back of your closet with the skinny jeans you long to fit into again. Wear it proudly and hold it out in front. It totally matches the new belt and shoes you're wearing.

And finally, the Sword of the Spirit which is God's Word. I have to admit, sometimes it's late in the evening before I pull this one out. Sometimes it gets dusty from it's days spent unopened on my nightstand. Why? Why do I make it so hard on myself? I have a tool, a weapon even to counteract all the contention in my life and I leave it upstairs on my nightstand?! Sheesh, even I think I need to be in the naughty corner over that one!

I'm glad it's not too late to make things right! The Sword of the Spirit can diffuse anger, can provide wisdom, can help us fight evil influences that beat on the doors of our households on a daily basis----but only if we use it. Interesting that the Shield does not represent the Word of God. The Shield is something to just hold and use to block sin. The Sword, however, isn't going to do much use if it's just held out there in front. It must attack! It must battle the enemy. How so? By scripture memorization and meditation upon GOD's will and written word for our lives. We need to know what the Bible says in order to refute the lies of the world that are constantly trying to pierce our armor.

Over the weekend, we watched a show that taught us all about the spitting cobra. Hurray. One more reason that I love my country. It's bad enough that I have to get on my boys for spitting; I cannot imagine walking through my yard and having an animal spit on me as well. In my eyes for that matter, with venom. I digress. As we sat there watching this poor lion avoid getting his eyeballs burned out, I thought about the faceless moderator of this show and how "pro-spitting cobra" he was. How he positively raved about this amazing creature who shoots venom and all that stuff. How the creature should not be killed, but carefully captured and relocated if it ventured into some village or home. And on that note Mr. Moderator and I completely parted in our beliefs.

Just call me Mama Lion. If there is some crazy snake spitting poison into my babies eyes, I more than likely will not calmly remove and relocate the reptile. I will tear it apart. I will destroy it, even if it means my own blindness. I will not just take my baby cub and hide in the weeds waiting for it to find us.

So why I leave my sword on the nightstand while the spitting cobra is hurling poison at my kids, I have no idea. Or excuse. It's just easier to stay in my lazy mama pajamas some days than to put on my Holy Mommy Armor and be productive. But I'm making a committment, friends. I'm going to better, and things are going to get better, and eventually there will be peace once again in my household. So I will leave you with this:
Do you have on your armor? Some of it? Which piece do you find hardest to put on?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Sugar-Free Heart Healthy Imaginary Principal Day!

I am amazed at the way Valentine's Day has morphed since I was in elementary school. Instead of it being a simple classroom party with cupcakes and paperbag mailboxes, my kids now have jump-roping for heart health contests and vegetable trays. In fact, the word Valentine isn't even really used any longer.

The city schools refer to February 14th as "Heart Healthy Day", and those cupcakes are not on the guest lists. Truly, I support the schools' healthier cafeteria options and ban on sodas and fast food during lunch. However, as a parent who does generally feed my kids healthy meals, I resent the fact that I am no longer able to send in doughnuts for birthdays or sugar cookies for Christmas--woops, I mean Winter Fest.

I am now given healthy menu lists to choose from, with none of the items being terribly inexpensive. Vegetables and dip, orange slices, cheese cubes, whole wheat pretzel sticks. Throw in a bottle of chardonnay and you have an office party for body-conscious middle aged women. I have to wonder, too, about how many 1st graders are actually gnoshing on that veggie and cheese tray I so painstakingly prepared. Please, People, is one Valentine's cupcake really going to send everyone into insulin shock and subject them to a future of morbid obesity? I think not.

Maybe if little kids we're allowed to actually play outside after school instead of sitting at home behind locked doors eating Cheetos and playing Grand Theft Auto, we wouldn't have so many overweight children in our society. But why punish all responsible children (and parents), by subjecting them to miserable class parties? I love hummus as much as the next person, but give me some homemade fudge, and you've made my day. I LOVED Valentine's parties when I was in school---well up until the 5th grade. But before then, I couldn't wait to write my friends names on Strawberry Shortcake cards and put them into doily covered mailbags. I loved having my mom drop off Rice Krispy treats at my classroom and showing her the special card I'd made for her during craft time. And then later at home, I loved sorting my notes into piles according to levels of friendship. Oh shush, you know you did it too. BFF, kind of friends, not friends, & boys. You remember how it went.

I don't think teachers back then were so PC as to make sure everyone was given a Valentine, because I certainly didn't give most boys cards and the girls who were mean to me, well I just never bothered to sign my name. My kiddos have lists of 20+kids that they must send notes to. I can't even pronounce half of these names, but they painstakingly print out each 14 lettered alias and stash them away in their backpacks. It was during this portion of homework time that I learned the ugly truth about my daughter.

Some kids have imaginary friends, some even have imaginary pets, my daughter has an imaginary principal and homeroom teacher. WHAT?! She's 3 for Pete's sake! While the boys wrote out their Valentines, I helped the Wreckity Girl pick out a few cards for her "bestest girls"-- her little chicks from MOPS, and Sunday School, and Bible Study Childcare. Basically the same 5 Bestest Girls are in every class, since their moms are friends of mine, so they see each other on a pretty regular basis. We finished addressing her cards and then she announces, "And now I need one for Mr. Box & Mrs. Jenks." Um, who are these people? "They are my principal and my teacher."

Now let me inform you that the child does not attend preschool. She does not attend any kind of school unless it starts with the word Sunday. She stays home with her mama and does crafts and visits her Granny and goes to lunch with friends and does all the fun things that 3 year-old socialites do. I love having her home with me, and although I'd probably consider a 2 day preschool if funds were available, I think she's pretty well socially adapted and on her way to becoming ready for Kindergarten. That said, most days she loves staying home, but when she hears her friends talk about school, or watches her brothers get on their buses every day, she feels left out. She wants to join in, and suddenly going to Shortpump to play in the fountain doesn't sound so exciting. She wants a backpack with her lunch packed inside. She wants homework (tracing) to work on while the boys write spelling word sentences. She wants in on all the school action.

Cue Mr. Box & Mrs. Jenks. I've heard her playing pretend school with her babies and animals, but I was "unawares" that there were actual characters involved. Returning characters. With titles. I guess I should be pleased that she views school as such a positive environment. She really enjoys going with me to help with the Book Fairs or Holiday Shoppes. And she loves watching her brothers in their Spelling Bees and Concerts. So why do I feel so guilty? Because she would rather play with an imaginary principal than her mother? Because I'm keeping her from an early Harvard acceptance since I don't send her to preschool?

Fortunately for me, I don't hold onto regrets for very long. I think my Wreckity Little Girl probably has a case of keeping up with the Joneses more than anything. And although she loves to sit in assemblies, she can't wait to go home and read books, and snuggle with her ni-night and babies. And I won't feel guilty, because these years fly by way too quickly, and anyway, I'm a way better homeroom teacher than Mrs. Jenks.

"Singing her Alpha-bits"

Friday, February 6, 2009

To Freeze or Not to Freeze...

It's a sad morning, friends. Our beloved Brewstation finally gave up the ghost---in the form of about 6 cups of coffee that leaked across the counter and under the pile of dishes waiting to be washed. Sad, sad morning.

He served us well, little java machine. His mugs of muddy energy helped to drag our bodies to the bus stop, to church, and to the MOPS meetings that have taken over any ounce of free time that I used to have. What's sadder? That I actually considered putting a straw to the counter to sip up any amount of caffeine that was remaining.

Since my immune system succumbed to the nasty viruses that have been floating around, I've been congested and coughing and have had virtually 3 hours of sleep a night this past week. To say I am in need of a "pick-me-up" would be a vast understatement. Normally, I would just pack up the Wreckity-Girl and head to Mocha Mo's for a steaming sumatra with a shot of sugar-free raspberry syrup, however, this morning it is COOLLDDD! It is bitter, bitter cold and coupled with the fluish chills I have, leaving the house this morning is not even an option. Oh, I'm sorry, did I forget to mention the Man drove my car to work today? Yep, we're still running with 1 vehicle since his truck was totaled 2 weeks ago.

So what to do? Suck it up? Throw on my big-girl long underwear and make the 3 mile trip? Or whine on the computer while Wreckity-Girl (who is wearing a shirt from the dirty laundry) watches Diego and eats Craisins?

Um, yeah. Embarrassingly enough, the latter is winning over this morning. Any anonymous caffeine donations will be accepted---no questions asked. No brand turned away. Just leave it on the porch and I promise not to breathe on you.
Smooches & Lysol~e

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Uno, Baby

This is for you Suzanne. You asked and you have received. A record of the craziness that fills this family, recorded for generations to come. Because really, unless I tell someone, I tend to block out most of the nonsense that occurs here on an almost daily basis. Truly, who would believe it all unless their maiden name was Sawyer?

I can't promise how often I'll post. Maybe weekly, maybe daily. I mean how often does one need to read about the antics of this household? Trust me; it aint pretty. So, Suzanne, this is for you, and for Heidi, and for everyone who I really stink at keeping in touch with. I hope these musings will make you laugh and relate. Because I know we've all felt like the girl who just can't get it quite right. The girl who's just a little bit off. The girl who is constantly dodging the stones of criticism and accusations. But I hope you also feel redeemed, alive through grace, and though bruised---hopeful, and slow to cast your own missiles.

Welcome to my heart, and my little online home. Be sure to wipe your feet at the door.