Monday, March 21, 2011

Our Little Cabbage Patch

I will have you know that I am sacrificing my fitness, physical appearance, and sleep to bring you this blog post. Please shower me with comments saying how desperately you needed to hear from me so that my excuse for not exercising will hold a little weight (ha!). I can't just say that I'm lazy and, after two+ months of exercising regularly, I'm tired of it and just want to quit. Working out is fun for about two days when you're feeling like nothing can keep you from conquering the flab...and then the bed (or the computer) and a package of Oreos starts calling your name and you think, "Who am I kidding?" Ugh. I hate having a big belly and I hate exercising and I love dessert. Life's tough.

So, I am now going to try my best to distract myself from the guilt I'm feeling and the gut sticking out and the Oreos whispering sweet nothings in my ears, and you're all going to benefit from my laziness.

We just got back from a family mission trip to Helen, Georgia. As soon as I find more time when I'm trying not to exercise, I might give you a summary of it. Or I might never find the time and you'll have to live the rest of your lives plagued with curiosity about how we spent our spring break. I can't make any promises, people. I live a busy and exciting life...in my laundry room. The one thing I must and will tell you about our trip is that we went to Babyland General. You know, the Cabbage Patch store posing as a tourist attraction in order to get you to spend lots of money on funny-looking baby dolls.

It's really funny to me that numerous people have told us over the last several months that our very own little Sam looks like a Cabbage Patch doll. (Yes, I just said in the previous paragraph that they are funny-looking dolls.) I don't mean that once someone said it and then a few people standing around nodded in agreement. I mean that on many separate occassions, without any prompting, people will get a look of enlightenment on their face and proclaim, out of the blue, "I just figured out who he reminds me of! It's a Cabbage Patch doll."

So, when we found ourselves spreading the name of Jesus just around the corner from the famous Babyland General, where admission is free (unless you count the $40 doll your child is likely to talk you into buying), we HAD to take Sam there and get his picture made with the babies who he supposedly favors. I will admit that, though I think the dolls are funny-looking and that Sam is adorable, somehow they do look alike. And my first Cabbage Patch, Waldo, was completely bald with a big round head and bright blue eyes. And I feel like I'm back in third grade staring at Waldo all over again when Sam looks at me wide-eyed with just a hint of a smile on his face. And, yes, it's a little creepy that I've given birth to my Cabbage Patch doll in real life.

Here is the evidence. Can you tell which one is Sam? :)





And here are a few more pictures of our little baldy, just for fun.







Now I will go shove the mountain of clean laundry off of my bed and get a good night's sleep knowing that all of you got your cute baby fix and I got my Cheez-It fix, seeing as how I devoured half a box while I waited for pictures to download and avoided any physical activity. The things I do for my readers. You can thank me later.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Our Fill of Fun

Whew. The last two weeks have been so packed with fun that I'm actually enjoying a couple of days home with the two little guys and my washing machine. For those of you who know me, that is saying a lot. Not that I didn't enjoy all the fun we packed into the last couple of weeks, but a girl can only take so much with four kids trailing behind and chores piling up.

Since we do birthdays every other day this time of year (it seems like), last week it was time to celebrate again...times two. Our talkative oldest son, Jack, turned SIX! As with every birthday my kids celebrate, I can hardly believe it's been six years! But not just because he's "growing up so fast." I can't believe he made it six years and we're all alive to tell about it. Jack has brought us many smiles and much laughter, but he's been known to be a handful over the years as well. I always feel a little sorry for him, because he's the one that God chose as Mommy's little refining fire. If I were holier, God wouldn't have to use little Jack to teach me so very many things.

Really, though, we've become so proud of who he's become. He's as handsome as they come and such a good student. Nothing makes a parent beam with pride like getting kudos from teachers who have your children, whether at church or school or sports. He's a persistent little booger and a speaker of truth. He'll make a great preacher someday, which would thrill my soul. It seems he has learned to read overnight and can memorize some Scripture like nobody's business. And that boy has a mouth on him like you wouldn't believe...like I said, prime preacher material. With his passionate little personality, he can do great things for God if he so chooses.

Jack is even a self-proclaimed missionary. He evidently told a little girl in his class "what Christmas is really about" a few months ago. I can't tell you how rewarding it is as a parent when your child puts into practice something you have striven to teach him for so long. I've also been so thrilled, if a little surprised, at how much he loves Baby Sam. He is the first to come running when Sam cries and will sit with him and try everything imaginable to get Sam to hush. I love seeing a side of him who thinks of others before himself. I could go on and on about this little guy, but let's just say he's come a long way since that screaming Jumping Jack that about drove us to the brink six years ago. I'm rather glad that we stuck it out.


To celebrate these six exciting years, Jack had a mini-party the week before with two friends. We partied at lightening speed with a quick trip to Pump It Up and pizza at the house because we're pretty much the greatest parents ever and didn't have time for anything more. We shooed his friends out the door after a couple of hours because we had other things we just HAD to attend to. Chris had to go back to work (who said teachers always have easy hours?) and I had a very important bunco engagement. Priorities. It's what we're all about.

He did get a second family party at a local pizza place. It was pretty much the best day EVER because Chris hit the jackpot in the game room and they ended the day with over 1,000 of those little tickets. Translation: We came home with a bunch of junk that ended up in the garbage after 72 hours. But, really, the kids were thrilled. Oh, for the days when my day was deemed awesome by a handful of cheap plastic and suckers.

It was six years ago that my little brother lost his birthday hullabaloo to his crying little nephew. The day after Jack's big day is Matthew's day, but let's face it. When you're past 25 and a close kid relative has the birthday before yours, your party days are scaled way back. We celebrated with grilled meat on the bone and banana pudding. Now that's my kind of party. Forget ski ball and cheap toys. Seriously, we've been so blessed to have my brother and his super wonderful wife back on our side of the country. I have to pinch myself all the time when I think that they live no more than five minutes from our house. Yay, God! Matthew, sorry I had a kid the day before your birthday. At least I didn't wait 13 more hours.

This is getting too long, as usual, so I'll wrap up the Summary of Fun by saying I got to have a wonderful and rare weekend away, thanks to my sweet husband and oh-so-helpful mother-in-law. Sam and I went on a retreat with some of my Bible study ladies, and it was really wonderful. Sam was sweet, of course, but he did wonder all day yesterday where his other 21 ladies were that had been giving him non-stop attention for four days. Of course, it sounded more like, "WHAAAAAAA!!!", but I knew what he meant. I miss them, too, buddy. Really, I do.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Life Lessons from Dollar General...Who Knew?

There is little I hate more in life than a hassle. Like having to return the new, expensive six-year light bulbs that lasted all of one month in my house. Of course, pretty much anything I have to do with a 3-year-old and a baby in tow is a hassle, so there's no escaping it for me these days. (Not that the kids are a hassle or that I don't love them...but, you know. They make things that used to be a piece of cake about as difficult as passing a kidney stone.)

I am a girl who used to love to get out of the house. These days, I like the idea of getting out of the house until I actually have to start getting ready to leave, which is when I start asking myself, "Is it really necessary that we have more food available at our house than boxed macaroni and cheese?" It's just so much easier to stay home, but my family likes to have food and toilet paper around at all times, so leave the house I must from time to time. Today was one of those days. After deciding that toilet paper would be nice and eyeliner was an absolute necessity, I set about getting me and the little guys ready to make an appearance out in the real world.

Naturally, Luke promptly set about his apparently God-given task of making "getting ready" so difficult that I must constantly repeat, "We MUST have toilet paper" over and over to convince myself I cannot back down from this challenge. The whole task before me threatened to completely overwhelm me and render me paralyzed, but I kept my eyes on the prize...of toilet paper and eyeliner. After a little tumble down the stairs for Luke, we made it out of the house with everything we needed plus a new booboo on Luke's eye. Miraculous.

I'm all about saving some money, but my hate of the hassle usually keeps me from running from store to store searching out all the good deals of the week. My time and energy have a price tag, and it's usually higher than the $1.50 I'd save on contact solution by driving out of my way and unloading my kids from the van one more time. But today, I found a deal that I felt was worth the hassle, so I gave in and went to the local Dollar General, which is a store I've only been to one other time in my 30+ years, I'm pretty sure.

The hassle began before we even entered the store. I'm not sure how you're supposed to manage a baby carrier in a tiny store with tiny buggies and doors that do not open automatically. Fortunately, a kind lady took pity on this poor mother in her t-shirt and jeans struggling to guide an easily distracted boy and a giant car seat and buggy through the door. So, we make it in and then must navigate a crowded store with boxes and towers of cleaning products and Cheetos strategically placed on eye level with 3-year-olds to find that, shockingly, they are out of one of the two products that they so cleverly advertised and I gullibly decided was a fabulous deal. This is where I must ask one of the great questions of life...Why on God's green earth do you create an enticing advertisement with an unbeatable deal and then not stock the item in your store?? Is it your goal in life to send the stress level of young, bargain-hunting moms through the roof? If so, mission accomplished. So, I debate the advantages of doing the deal another way while repeating the phrases, "Luke, come here" and "No, we're not buying Cheetos" over and over.

So, we make our way back to the front of the store without knocking over any of the displays that seem to be smack dab in the middle of the aisle, and I ask the kind employees if there is any chance they have the desired item somewhere else. The guy goes and checks and comes back with the not so surprising news that they're plumb out. Then, in his bid for Employee of the Month, he looks at me and says, with a straight face, "Our truck comes tomorrow. Why don't you just check back with us then?"

Ha! There is now one thing I know for absolute certain about this man. He does not nor has he ever had small children. Come back tomorrow? Has he lost his cotton pickin' mind? It has taken an act of congress to get us all to this point today. There is no way I'm repeating this process tomorrow. I stuff all the sarcastic comments down my throat, look at him, and simply say, "It's not real easy to get out of the house. I don't think we'll be coming back." So, I decide to take the less than stellar deal available to me and call it a day. I console myself with the fact that at least I have a coupon until, whadya know, the coupon isn't ringing up. After two people look at it with a puzzled expression for at least two minutes and then inform me they have no idea why it's not working but they can't do anything about it, I am actually beginning to sweat.

Don't ask me why, but this whole thing has brought me to the point of perspiring while standing still in a climate-controlled store. And I'm not an easy sweater. (That would someone who sweats a lot, not a warm item of clothing that is simple to wash and/or wear.) At this point, all I want to do is leave that God-forsaken store, never to return, no matter how good the deal looks on the back of their next weekly flyer. They've taken this chick on the only ride she's going on for a while. I try to make the moment more bearable by vowing to myself that I will not be suckered into dragging my kids back there anytime soon.

In an attempt at optimism, I will say that Luke behaved remarkably well, and I did still get a decent price on toilet paper, so the trip wasn't a total disaster. However, as we pulled away and I calculated in my anal little brain all the savings I missed, I was forced to ponder deep spiritual things like, "God, why would you thwart my plans to save a few dollars and spend our limited salary wisely?" (You know, because it's not like He has bigger fish to fry or anything.) And, whadya know. I kind of got a deep answer.

As He asked me the question, "Will this matter in eternity?" and I was forced to say, "Most likely not," I realized He had given me an opportunity to focus on the eternal. I could wallow in my frustration and wasted money, or I could choose joy and an eternal perspective. Then I got to thinking...it's little, seemingly meaningless things like this that train us for the big stuff. If God can train me to react to the daily hassles and frustrations of life in a way that glorifies Him and refines me, then that's probably how I'll react when something much more significant comes along. Soldiers aren't trained by throwing them on the front lines of battle the day they report to boot camp. They're intentionally trained and faced with practice scenarios so that when they do go to the front lines, their reactions and behavior are so ingrained in them that it's second nature. They do the right thing without thinking twice. Maybe if I can look at the daily struggles, trials, and hassles of life as God's training ground, then my perspective will totally change and I'll be prepared for the bigger battles in life. Now, please remind of that tomorrow morning when I'm attempting to get 1001 things accomplished while listening to a screaming baby.