Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I've been ruminating on the topic of excellence, or thriving versus surviving, for the better part of the month, and I think it's time I finally get it out into words. Forgive me if I'm a bit disorganized, but hopefully what I'm trying to get it will still be apparent. There seems to be two currents running in modern society about what a woman should be. The first is the classic post-feminist Superwoman who does it all with aplomb and style. Then there's the inverse - the woman who is constantly being told by her fellow women that it's okay to have a messy house, disheveled appearance, unorganized life, and chaotic role as home-tender. I think that started out as merely reactionary, allowing us a respite from the incredible pressure of doing it all, all the time, perfectly. But I think it's now become a more common state of perpetual being and a trap that we women fall into and use as an excuse to lower our standards and demand less of ourselves than what we are capable of. As Christian women we have a calling to excellence - we are, after all, shining lights for all the world to see, and earthly representatives of Christ's kingdom. We are Christianity's "movie trailer". We must, in the daily mundane existence we all share, capture the attention of our non-Christian peers enough so that they want to know more. They see and admire something in us that gives us an opening to witness. I remember hearing once that the wisest missionaries minister to the physical body first - providing food, shelter or whatever necessities people need, and then they have created a basic trust that gives them an opening to mentor people spiritually. I think we run-of-the-mill suburban wives and mothers are everyday "missionaries" and that one of the best ways we can witness to our peers (probably the hardest group to reach - successful, comfortable people don't tend to think they need God as much as the poor and broken down) is by pursuing excellence in our everyday lives and our little kingdoms (whether that be at work and at home, or, for the stay-at-home mom - exclusively at home), and displaying the results of that pursuit with greatest humility. Now, that doesn't translate into a Martha Stewart-ready home at any moment, perfect hair and makeup before you even step out of the master suite, and candlelit gourmet dinners with fresh flowers on the table. You have to find out which things are important to you, your spouse, and your child. You can't do absolutely everything all the time. Don't ever confuse excellence with perfection. One is humanly impossible and will lead to constant failure. Instead, prioritize those things which are important to you, and, many times each day, just push yourself to do a little bit more than you feel like doing. That is excellence, always pushing yourself beyond what you thought were your capabilities, and I truly feel that that is what God demands from all Christians. Thankfully, He willingly and continually provides His strength and perseverance to all of those who ask Him for it in prayer. Isn't, at the end of the day, that always the answer? Prayer, prayer and more prayer.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's Hard

I don't remember a whole lot about my pre-teen/early teen years, but I'm sure it was hard at times. Hero struggles too - it's such a challenging time to navigate. Growing up, but still needing to rely on others to do so many things for you. I think Santa was positively brilliant with his guinea pig idea. Having a pet, for some kids, is almost like therapy. Cinnamon really brings out the nurturing side of Hero, and he's also good company when she's been sent to her room for an infraction. It's hard to sulk with a cuddly, silly critter running around. I don't know that there is a place in the house he HASN'T been yet. Hero was talking one day about how she graduates in 5 years. 5 years?!?! How is that even possible? It really opened my eyes to the fact that we have precious little time to be her most important influences and do our best to ensure that she grows into a responsible, kind-hearted, ethical, Godly woman. What a Herculean task in this day and age - only with the help of God can we hope to achieve it!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A New Picture

I added a new picture gadget to my blog design. I may change it periodically, or I may not - I haven't decided yet. But I have to say, the moment I saw the picture of Jesus holding the child, it struck a deep chord in me. I've looked and looked for a place to buy a print of it, but to no avail, so it seems, for now anyways, that I will have to enjoy it here, on my blog. My reaction to the picture was based upon a number of things. First of all, Jesus looks exactly how I picture him in my mind - gentle but strong. Sometimes I think the masters painted him to look too gentle and frail, as if the slightest wind could knock him over. That, to me anyways, doesn't jive with Christ the teacher, rebuker, and, let's not forget, the Christ filled with righteous anger at the temple moneychangers. Secondly, there's a child in the picture - and not some idealized, blonde ringleted toddler. It looks as real as any child. My favorite part of the picture is the way in which Jesus is holding her - it has a very deep personal meaning to me. Every night since Cecily was an itty-bitty baby, I have held her and "danced" with her in her room. She has a Sleeping Beauty clock radio that plays a portion of the Sleeping Beauty Waltz. She always reminds me that we need to dance, and she lays her head gently on my shoulder EVERY time. Sometimes we sing the song together, sometimes we just sway to the music. It is absolute, pure love. Thinking of Jesus loving each of my children, and James and I, THAT much (and more) each and every day is the most comforting thing I can think of, ever. It is more powerful than any storm, any doubt.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Random (But Not Really)

I don't usually have the television on when I'm working on the computer, but, for some reason today, I decided to turn it on. Instead of turning it to the Top Hits type station I usually have it on, I turned it to The Spirit, a Christian radio station. Despite being engrossed in my work, the words of this song managed to catch my ear and I had to stop and give full attention to it. And, one of the wonderful things about the internet - I was able to find it on YouTube and share it here. I love the message and it resonates so deeply with me, as the classic stubborn Christian who had to be torn down to be rebuilt in Christ.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Last Day of My Trip

Time to finally finish up my trip account - after a late night on Saturday, Sunday was a lazy day. We hung out, visited Barnes & Noble (it is a requirement for me to bring a little something back for my kids, no matter how short the visit) where Mom got me a beautiful violet and lime green suede Bible cover to replace my leather one with the broken handle, and, most importantly of all, had Cheesy Brat Stew. This was the BEST cheesy brat I've ever had. So smooth and the brats were perfect - if it had been possible to transport the leftovers home in my luggage I SO would have done it. In fact, I feel a craving coming on for it right now. Maybe it'll make it into my next menu... Elle found a new love in Wisconsin, the cats' sleep sack. It was soft and fleecey, so she declared it her second "Bumper" (to make a long story short, that's the name of her special blue and orange blanket lovie) and it travelled to Appleton, stores, restaurants and everywhere. Luckily we were able to distract her from it long enough on the morning of our departure that it was returned to its rightful owners.

James and I have been staying up so late, that we are later getting up in the morning than we like, which means we do our Bible reading with the kids around (sometimes I think that's good, but sometimes it can make it hard to focus). This is a habit that's SO hard to get out of, with James working at night. Yesterday, for example, he left the house at 7:30am, came home for a 30 minute lunch, and then came home for about 30 minutes before leaving for Outback at 5:45 and being at work until 10:30. When he gets home we have stuff that needs to get done, and before we know it, it's midnight. Being gazelle intense is tiring! But, we are being faithful, and I know that God will (and does) reward our efforts!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mardi Gras = Sinful Delight

I totally set you up with my headline, sorry. My post is not controversial or even very interesting, but I hooked you in now, didn't I? I've never been to New Orleans and I've never been a big partier (unless that party involves Trival Pursuit and/or football), so Mardi Gras has never been a "thing" for me at all. But, I did chance upon a recipe in our local newspaper for beignets (similar to a fried doughnut), and I figured, why not? It actually served as a good segueway in to discussing the meaning of Lent (I miss growing up in an area with a strong Catholic tradition, because I love the meaning and deep sentiment behind Lenten traditions). My recipe was for Praline beignets with Cafe Au Lait icing and man - they were delish. Not pretty, at all, but positively scrumptious. I'm usually the pastry/dessert queen, but I limited myself to one, and James was the one who fell for them the hardest. And, on to my accountability report - today was a day where I felt more connected to the particular passages in Job that we read. Chapter 28 speaks about wisdom. As someone who prides herself on being conventionally smart (ha, that sounds arrogant, but bear with me) - it was positively a revelation to read verse 20-28.

Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding swell? It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from the birds of the air. Destruction and Death say, 'Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.' God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells, for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters, when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm, then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it. And he said to man, 'The fear of the Lord -- that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.'"

How comforting to be able to place my fears, worries, confusions, and doubts (and I'm a very doubting, analytical, look-at-it-from-all-perspectives type of woman) in God and know that wisdom is as simple as fearing the Lord and shunning evil. I can do that! Or at least I can try hard to, every day, and know that the rest is covered by grace.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Day of Leisure

Saturday in Wisconsin was our big "relaxing" day. The day of arrival was exciting but stressful, and then the day before you leave is always fraught with a bit of sadness (this is the last time she'll sit in her high chair, this is the last time my parents will get to kiss her goodnight, etc, etc). So Saturday was the day to just revel in the cozy familyness of at all (unfortunately Ryan and Liz couldn't be there, but we did get to spend the day with Troy and Becky). Dad had already made tentative plans to take Mom to Appleton for, what else, shopping, and we were completely fine with that (hello, shopping? you can take the materialism out of the girl, but you can't take the pure joy of shopping). The six of us rode in Dad's truck (of course I had to be in the back next to Elinor, thank goodness - three adults do not fit well across the front bench of even a big truck) for the 90 minute drive. We hit the mall, which was crazy, and I got some Packer apparel (a "Teach Me How to Raji" shirt for Colin, which, unfortunately, people are at loss for what it means in Idaho) , a much needed pair of shoes, and to hit my favoritest clothes store - J. Jill (we don't have one here in Boise). Afterwards we visited TJMaxx (our favorite store for just browsing and finding "fun" stuff) and then Dad and Mom treated us all to Outback for dinner. It's such a strange sense of deja vu to be back at the Appleton mall and Outback, since that's where James and I spent the majority of our short pre-children days together as a couple and then newlyweds. Dad was a trooper, despite not feeling well, but he did hit the sack early after arriving back in Wausau, while Mom and I stayed up until almost midnight chatting. The only picture I have from the day is post-ginormous scrambled eggs and bacon, toast, and cinammon roll breakfast (even with no notice of the visit, Dad's a champ at keeping us well-fed) - Dad playing with Elle.

Really, Melissa, Really?

Oh shoot - I forgot that I promised to do a daily accounting for my Bible studies. Drat it all - not a good way to start my better week (I only remembered when I happened to reread my SOS post). But, on a positive note, we have done our Bible readings both mornings this week. On Monday it wasn't such a challenge, but today it was. We stayed up too late (confession time: it was because we were watching DVRed episodes of Little House on the Prairie) and we did not wake up with refreshed spirits (especially when we wake up to out and out fighting by our two sons outside our door, grr). But we made a valiant attempt, despite continuing distractions (the kids just could not be quiet, and Job is a book that requires concentration - we'll have to get up earlier tomorrow). I'm going to reread the three Job chapters this afternoon, just to let it sink in a bit more. Now, in the book we are reading, it talked about the importance of expositional preaching, and that was a new term to me. The more I heard it explained, the more I wondered if that was the kind of preaching I heard growing up. It seemed like the sermons in the Lutheran church I grew up in were long on personal anecdotes, gentle humor, and topicality (deciding on a topic and then gathering Scripture to support your views on that topic, rather than picking a section of Scripture, and allowing God to take it in His direction). They were, as much as I can remember, more often like devotionals, rather than preaching. It makes me groan inwardly a bit to think that when I first started attending the church we attend now, I used to complain that the preaching was more like a Bible study than a sermon. How odd that sounds to my ears now. What else SHOULD preaching be but biblical study? It never ceases to amaze me, the amount of growth I have to do in my spiritual walk. In some respects, it's similar to being a parent. The more children I have and the more years under my belt, the less I feel I truly know (and not in the sense of basic childcare tasks, but in the sense of the awesome and terrifying responsibility to mold and train another human being to take his or her place in the world as a contributing, hopefully Godly human being). Maybe that's the quality of humility. I hope so. I aspire to be humble - it isn't something that comes naturally to me.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Party Time

And to resume where I left off, finally after the long wait, it was party time. Troy and Becky picked us up from Uncle Mike's and we headed off to Pinewood with the gigantic cake in tow. We arrived about 10 minutes before the guest of honor, so I got a chance to see the surprise on the faces of friends and family, which was so much fun! I love my Wisconsin family so much, and miss them more than I like to let myself dwell on. My youngest brother Ryan was most surprised that I didn't let him in on the surprise, but I think he was still happy to see us. Elle froze up for a while in light of the crowd (I think there was about 50 people there) but after dinner got more friendly. Everybody sang happy birthday as my Mom walked in and I just kind of hung back, lost in the crowd (I AM short, after all). I got towards the end of the line to wish her happy birthday and, when she finally saw us, she kind of jumped back. My dad's reaction was priceless, though - he fell back against the door with his mouth gaping open and stayed that way for a full minute, I'm not even joking. Dad does not like surprises, but this was a good one. At first Mom thought Dad was in on it, but Troy and I were like little kids - "look Mom, I did it all by myself" LOL. We enjoyed a nice dinner, nicer visiting, and speechifying (I begged off with the excuse of jet lag). I knew that it was going to be my only opportunity to visit with friends and family because my visit was so short, but I soaked it in (hence the lack of pictures).

Sunday, February 19, 2012


It is in stumbling on our walk that we grow the most, I've heard, and I hope that's true, because I feel like, this past week, I tripped over a few little rocks (being sick, getting behind a day at work, and getting behind schedule on household duties), fell and promptly started to roll down the hill of life. The force was strong with Satan this week, let me tell you. We missed morning devotions all week, and boy, how that sets the wrong tenor for the rest of the day. I was grumpy, unmotivated, and a sluggard. James and I shared more sharp words over the course of this week than we had over the course of the last handful of months. I gave sin an inch, and it took a mile, as always. Here is my pledge for this week, and I'm putting it out there so that you all hold me accountable - there will be no missed Bible devotions this week. No excuses, no bellyaching about how tired I am or how sick the kids may be. May God renew my spirit and restore me to the path of the Proverbs 31 woman. This week my focus will be on verse 27: "She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness". Carbs and laziness - my twin demons, to be sure! But in all seriousness, I will give a daily account of how I've grown in this facet of my personal self and womanly duties this week, so that I may claim the closing portion of the chapter: "Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate".

Friday, February 17, 2012

Survival Tools

I have two main ingredients in my diet survival tool chest right now. I don't know that I need to get out and write any books about it, as I've only lost 10lbs so far this year, but when you find something that works you stick with it, am I right? My first is an old friend - Diet Coke. I love you, DC. You are my friend, out of a can or from a fountain. But never in a bottle, unless I'm desperate. I love how the picture makes it look like the cup has kind of a halo around it. That's SO how I feel about my Diet Coke. My second is a new find - Strawberry Shortcake flavored gum. I know, I know, it sounds gross. That was my first thought too. But I got bored standing in the Walmart checkout line one day and figured, why not? I tell you, the first bite of that gum stick is like a little slice of heaven. My brain can literally be tricked into thinking it just got to eat a big ol' helping of Strawberry Shortcake. For that, I thank you, odd little snack product.


The hardest part of our trip was the waiting. We arrived in Wausau around noon, but the party wasn't until six, so that left a pretty big time space to fill. To complicate matters, Troy and Becky were expected to go see Mom prior to the party. So, after taking us out to lunch at Culvers (yum! I only "borrowed" two fried cheese curds from Troy though, so I do have a modicum of self control LOL), they sprang us on Uncle Mike. My poor Uncle Mike - he had no idea he'd be getting unexpected houseguests. Luckily, though, he's about as easy-going as people come and he was happy to have us for a few hours (he even let me borrow his washer for Elle's poopy clothes). Elinor was fascinated with their "Rory" (her term for any dog - and they have a white toy poodle, so it does resemble a small version of the real Rory), although she generally stayed out of Elle's reach, and with their bird. She did manage to take a 30 minute nap directly on Aunt Becky in between and we had a nice visit, the five of us, for an hour or so.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Request and a Traveller's Tale

I want to start out my blog with a selfish request - if you are the praying kind, please send a few prayers my way. I'm just really struggling with not feeling well and managing my household, my jobs, and my children. It's causing me to be snappish and short with my family, and I'm having trouble controlling it on my own. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now, on to my post - my Dad called back in January to tell me that an invitation to my Mom's Surprise 50th birthday party was in the mail. He just wanted to make sure I didn't spill the beans (my Dad has such confidence in my reading comprehension skills, eh? just kiddin', Dad). But that immediately started the wheels churning. What if I actually DID show up? I called my brother, Troy, who was in charge of accepting RSVPs and asked him, on a whim, if he would be able to pick me up if I flew in on the day of the party. At that point I still didn't think it would actually happen, but it was fun to romanticize about it. I didn't speak to him about it for several more weeks, but I did broach the subject with James and cursorily looked at the cost of plane tickets. Finally, as the 21 day purchase window (where airfares are generally at their cheapest) loomed, with James' okay, I did it. I purchased the plane ticket! I decided to bring Elle with me, since she's still free as a lap traveller. Troy and his wife Becky agreed to pick me up at the airport on Friday, and all that was left to do was wait. It was SO hard, too, because I talk to my Mom quite frequently on the phone and it's tempting to just let little things slip, like why I knew what the weather was supposed to be like that weekend, and why she hadn't received her birthday cards in the mail yet. But we managed, and with a bit of trepidation (plane rides with infants/toddlers might qualify as a special representative of hell on earth) Elle, James, and I woke up at 3:50 so that we could make it to the airport in time for our 5:30 am flight on Friday, the 10th (party day). The plane ride to Minneapolis was not fun at all. I don't care to relive that episode ever again. But we arrived safe and sound at the Minneapolis airport and, for the first hour of our layover, at least, Elle charmed her fellow passengers as she played politely on the floor (see the pic above). And then I noticed the tell-tale stain rising above her waistband. I'm thinking "oh no she didn't" while knowing that yes indeed she did. She had a MASSIVE F5 level poop blowout. It was everywhere, and she stunk to high heaven. I managed the diaper change in the airport restroom as best I could (and of course airport restrooms are very busy and the changing table is not hidden in a stall but is right out in the open where everyone can see and smell it. It was so bad, I just kept apologizing to anyone who walked in. I was mortified, but really, what are you going to do? Luckily I had my carry on with me, as I didn't check any luggage, so I was able to change her from her beautiful party outfit into a sleeper. I'm not one of those uber-prepared moms who keep a change of clothes in her diaper bag. I emptied out her ziploc bag of toys and replaced it with the poop-covered clothes, prayed to God that the seal would keep the noxious fumes from overwhelming the plane, and we were back. You know how it us with a blow-out, though, the smell still kind of lingers until they get a complete bath. God took mercy on my fellow travelers though, by ensuring that the seat next to us on the commuter flight to Central Wisconsin was empty (our only empty seat out of four flights).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'm Back!

I have so many pictures and updates from my weekend trip (which I had to keep mum about on this blog so that it stayed a surprise) that I can't wait to share, but I'm sick and still trying to recover, so I'm going to start back in with a simple and sweet post. You know you have a wonderful, loving husband when he tells you, on Valentine's Day that he prayed for you while you were gone. I love that man more than I did when we first met, 15 years ago, and I'm so thankful that he's my Valentine. I'm not a huge Valentine's Day fan, so we tend to keep it low key. James got me cards, roses, and some Ghirardelli chocolates, and I got him a small basket of khaki socks (he always seems to need more of those), a Reese's Peanut Butter Heart, and Lindor Lindt balls (milk chocolate, of course). I made the kids personalized cupcakes from Grandpa and Grandma Plautz, and they also received a card and McDonald's gift certificates from their aunt, uncle, and cousins in Nevada - so all in all it was a pretty good night. After the kids were in bed, James and I headed to Fred Meyer to buy some cold and flu medicine and lotion kleenex (as I said, I'm really, really sick) and then we went to Applebees and had drinks (a beer for James and a caramel appletini for me), appetizer and dessert. It's always lovely to get to spend time together, regardless of the occasion.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Allegra in Heaven

Allegra is a born performer and loves the spotlight. That made her big adventure last Friday with the Maple Grove choir a dream come true for her. Papa was kind enough to take her (James was working) to the Idaho Stampede (in the NBA development league) basketball game, where she and her choirmates sang the national anthem prior to the game. They enjoyed all the festivities, including food, and she game home with lots of tales to tell and a whole bunch of signatures on her Stampede calender (from a random assortment of folks including players, the mascot, a cheerleader, her music teacher, and someone who was working as a vendor that night who attends our church LOL). It's hard to tell, but she's in the middle row, close to center, with the yellow headband.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

High Chair Time Fun

As I was looking over my pictures figuring out what my next post should be, I realized that my current batch of pictures have a theme. Elle acting up (or out, as the case may be) in her high chair. I have mixed feelings about that little plastic chair LOL. On one hand, I HATE cleaning out the food that gets stuck and crusted in the little cracks and crevices (and admittedly, it's not as clean as it should be and I pawn that chore off on James frequently). I also will enjoy regaining that corner as a spot for an extra dining chair (so it can be pulled out of storage in the laundry room and because it's a handy spot for coats and bags). But we've NEVER been without a high chair in our house since I was pregnant with Hero. It will be a sure sign of the completion of our family, which is bittersweet moment at best, and something I struggle with and pray over frequently. But forgive my meandering and back to the pictures. The first ones were originally intended to showcase Elle's crazy hair, but she was having none of it, so instead you primarily notice her full-on temper tantrum. The overarching theme is that the girl is obsessed with her head. She loves to rub food all over in her hair, or don a hat, or anything that can be used in a remotely hat-like fashion. My favorite for cuteness factor is the pull-up.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ian's Day

Ian turned 8 on February 5th. It doesn't seem like such a big jump from 7, so I'm okay with it (yes, I'm deluding myself into thinking that I have a modicum of control in these matters). He chose to go to Golden Corral for his birthday lunch (which happened on Saturday, due to church) and he was most enthused about the chocolate fountain and cotton candy. I was most enthused that we got out of there without any broken dishes or spilled cups (okay, that makes it sound like our kids are the terrors you hear about running through restaurants, screaming, and throwing food - that is not at all the case, but we did have a broken plate once and spilled cups do seem to happen with too much frequency). On Sunday, lots of church folks wished him Happy Birthday, and then he got to spend the entire afternoon (while his parents cleaned, his sisters skated, and his little siblings napped) playing Wii. This might sound like no big deal, but he's been on Wii quarantine for less-than-stellar chore performance for the last two weeks and the entire month of February and was given a special maternal dispensation to play on his birthday. After being in Super Mario Bros heaven, we went over to Nana and Papa's house for birthday festivities. He choose a Star Wars theme and, get this, all he requested for his birthday supper was Ham and Cheese Salad (pasta shells with chopped up Colby cheese, ham, and mixed with mayonnaise and miracle whip, with a dash of celery salt). I kept prompting him to think of something else, but that's all he wanted. So, we had a dinner of Ham and Cheese Salad, followed by -his choice- a funfetti cake with funfetti frosting and cookies and cream ice cream. He was so excited about his Darth Vader alarm clock/radio, Uglydoll, DS and Wii games, Mario chess set, and gift cards. He's his father's child, in that respect - easy to please on his birthday. Not like me at all, right James? ;-P

Monday, February 6, 2012

Must See TV

A true must-see movie (and goodness knows, we are not movie watchers) for any family, and especially parents - Courageous. I've heard nothing but good things (well, with the exception of a secular review that didn't feel that the acting was up to snuff - but really, that's not the point) from people, so James and I rented the DVD this weekend. We had to wait til Sunday night, post-Ian's birthday activities to watch it, but it was worth staying up late for (we even let Hero stay up to watch it). It was a powerful, powerful movie and, as it speaks very strongly to Christian fathers and their duties, James especially was impacted by it and thanked God at our Bible study time this morning for bringing it into our lives. So I wanted to pass it on to others, as the good women who recommended it to me did.

SOS - Luminosity

Faith is a bit like romantic love. Some days, especially in the very beginning, but even after a long while of being together (if you are blessed with a fine marriage), faith feels like early love. It's all-consuming and exciting. You feel positively lit from within - like a radiant joy inside you that is there for all to see because you couldn't possibly hide it even if you wanted to it. I love that state of luminosity - don't you? I pray often to God to allow me to experience that more frequently. But I wonder if the meat and bones of faith is in the more quotidian days; like the days in your marriage where your love is more an act of conscious will and service than an inspired, exciting wash of emotion. The first blush of love is easy. There's very few people who haven't experienced it, and many people have experienced it multiple times. But carrying on when that feeling is at an ebb is something that a significant number of people have never learned - both in marriage and in faith. It's hard to learn how to do that in marriage, but, for me personally, even harder to be strong in my spiritual walk when I'm feeling anything BUT lit-from-within. As I'm trying to come to terms with a week that started off in luminosity but fizzled into uninspired parenting, housekeeping, and just plain "being", it brings me comfort to think that those types of days are tests that forge my faith and draw me closer to God.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Elder Care

It's not either of our parents yet either. They are getting up there in age, but I wouldn't classify them as elderly yet (although 50 IS pretty old, Mom ;-P). I'm talking about our cats. Our five cats are most definitely elderly. Tabatha predates even our marriage. We adopted her on a visit to Idaho back in January 1998 and flew her all the way back to Wisconsin with us. She was 6 months old then, which means she was born in summer of 1997, making her 14 years old now! It's pretty darn rare for a cat that was an indoor/outdoor cat to live that long. She's a strange cat, to be sure, but man, do I love that animal. Our "younger" four are between the ages of 12 and 13. I can't imagine what the odds are to have five indoor/outdoor cats (although, for the last several years, they are almost exclusively indoor cats - they don't venture much beyond the end of the driveway anymore) living into their teen years. Anyhow, in the break between Christmas and New Years, Bart, one of our orange cats, suffered a stroke. We prepared for having to put him to sleep, as he could barely get around and was extremely disoriented. The vet wanted to try a steroid shot and a 24 hour waiting period, just in case it wasn't a stroke, but head trauma from a fall or something, so we brought him back home and babied him (he's always been a rather anti-social cat, so this was a very strange turn of events). Well, the steroid didn't fix anything, but the 24 hour waiting period made it crystal clear that Bart was not ready to give up on life. He has adjusted to his new disability and can get around (he walks with his head dipped and tilted to one side, and can be kind of unsteady), has a hearty appetite, purrs when you pet him, and still seems to enjoy a decent quality of life. I don't know how many cats adapt to an altered, post-stroke life, but we are now the caretakers of one. I'm glad we have some more time with him.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hint Hint

The question of the day is "Does my husband read this blog?" Here's to hoping, because I really, really want this for an anniversary present. I've seen it done a few times for children/birthstones, and I've always admired them, but I'd look like either a bag lady or a poker fanatic with six of those around my neck. I happened upon this one today and thought it was absolutely perfect. You've got until May, James - see, I'm a good wife.

My Flowers

To be sure, I have to credit an online acquaintance for sharing this Mother Teresa sentiment (it's not a direct quote, but a paraphrase), but as soon as I heard it I KNEW I wanted to share it here.

How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers!

Anti-child sentiment seems to be running pretty high these days. I think it's mostly a product of our society. Our cultural catchphrase could be "Convenience is King". It seems that nearly everything is being remade to fit more streamlined, efficient models. I could be totally behind that, if the purpose was to get the busywork of our days out of the way and focus on the important things - family togetherness, fostering a sense of community spirit, service, and meditation. But this is convenience for convenience's sake - to make space in our lives for more technology and consumption. But I digress. Children are the ultimate inconveniences, are they not? They take our thoughts and time away from work and entertainment. They have little respect for our schedules, indelicate habits at the most inopportune times (why does there always seem to be a covert poopy diaper operation just as you're trying to head out the door?), are terribly demanding and covetous of our me-time (that phrase drives me absolutely mad, by the way, but that's another blog post) and require a monstrous investment with, at times, questionable returns. It's no wonder, I suppose, that there are a lot of people out there that certainly love their children, but view them more as part of a natural life progression/stage that is to be endured bravely, enjoyed on occasion, and then checked off in life's little checklist - right between "get married" and "professional success!". I want to reject this modern mindset. I want my children to be the flowers in the garden of my life.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Month, Old News

I'm still playing catch-up, but at least I've moved on from Christmas. I know, I know, it's already February. This year was a low-key birthday for Allegra. We went to the restaurant of her choice mid-week for lunch (Chinese Buffet), and then on New Year's Eve we had a party with balloons, a random assortment of requested food (pizza, cheese fries, macaroni and cheese - do you notice a theme of tan-colored food?), party games, presents, and an angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. James had to work that night, so the first half of the evening was spent with Nana and Papa and Aunt Jennifer and Oriana. Allegra was very patient, since she had to wait until 10:30, when James finally got off, to open her presents. She was so excited about turning 10 - the double digits are apparently a big thing. She started off her birthday in full-on Allegra mode, wanting to do a "photo shoot" in a new outfit. She's such a ham!