Friday, January 29, 2010

Going Through the Gate

A little historical/sociological exposition...stick with me, it'll all make sense (I hope). Disclaimer: I am a writer, not a historian. My hubby is the one who likes to watch the history channel-by choice. So any 'facts' are through my slightly tilted lens!

Back in the day, in a galaxy far far away, or a time long long ago, people didn't live all sprawled out everywhere. The center of the action was in cities. The bible talks about the cities in terms of walls and gates. Certain gates where for certain 'traffic'. To get to the next area of the city for commerce, worship or life, one had to go through gates.

The aramaic word for gate in the bible is most closely associated with the idea of a squeezing, narrow place. The gates in the cities weren't wide, letting any old nomadic riff raff through. Rather, they were narrow and required a 'paring down' of stuff to only the important things towards doing business on the other side of the gate.

Still with me? Good.

Gates are a good metaphor for those 'squeezing' places in our lives. It is the place when we are right at the end of our selves, our resources. Gates are the place were we have 'pared down' anything extraneous or distracting. We are right at the place of breaking through to the other side. On the other side is new opportunity, support or healing. The other side is, well, greener.

A friend shared in church on Sunday something about gates that still is messing me up-in a good way.

He said that even if he is maimed and crawling, HE AND HIS ARE GETTING THROUGH THE GATE. He and his have gone through no less than a complete paring down in every area. YET, he stood up, before God, the church and whoever and made that proclamation.

I have decided this morning to make a similar declaration. My husband and I are facing another paring down, this one is close to the bone. No matter the circumstances, or cost-I AND MINE WILL GET THROUGH THE GATE.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Fit Mommy Fun Mommy

Wii Fit Plus is AMAZING!!!!! Video games has never been my forte. Even when they were the bleep-bloop, slow, one-dimensional kind, I was awful. The 'boys' (i.e. Daddy, Pappy and Ian) usually play, trash talk and harangue one another on a regular basis while bowling on Wii. I am on baby control duty. They play. I facilitate. Today that all changed.

I was given Wii Fit for Christmas. It sat, in the basement, taunting me.

After a night of good conversation and pie, I wondered why I didn't just go for it. It's a game. A video game. It isn't politics or a screenplay or a baby.

So, I hooked it up. With only my six year old and two year old as witnesses, I jumped on the balance board. Did I turn into a video game genius? Was I a secret Wii savant? Nope. However, the baby laughed so hard at my penguin chomping at fish that he fell off the couch. My son couldn't wait to play. With me.

Too often I am the caregiver, the almighty organizer of all things domestic. Fun is oftentimes an elusive commodity for me. Not today. And probably not tomorrow. I am committed to making my little Mii character a little less pudgy (The animated character-Mii-is representative of your real BMI and weight-oy). I am also committed to watching and laughing as my little guys flap their wings and giggle at animated penguins. I am committed to being a fit and fun mommy.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Language Liberties

At one point in my life I could cuss like a longshoreman. I come from a long line of women who can turn a phrase nastier than the Hudson in the summer. Then I had kids. I don't, so much, anymore.

As a writer, I pay attention to words and the crafting of a phrase. I make my kids respond appropriately and with real words. "Yeah," isn't a favorite, and neither is, "Uh uh."

There are times, however, when cuteness trumps appropriateness. Take for instance Hermie the Crap.

For Christmas, we promised our oldest a replacement for his first hermit crab. Appropriately named Hermie, the first crab only lasted a week or two before I discovered the 'body' (or rather the legs popped off and I ran screaming to get Ron).

This time we were going to do things right. We read the book. We prepped the cage. We spent $40 getting a habitat ready for this creature. We welcomed Hermie the Crap into our home.

Hermie the Crap (as the baby calls him), was at first a 'buggie'. Now he is just, Hermie the Crap. Under his breath I heard the baby mumble, "Hermie the Crap....eeeew."

I should correct him. I should help him to say Cra-B. But it is so just darn funny that we have all taken to calling the weird, shell moving thingy-Hermie the Crap.

It came back to haunt us. While visiting our friends, it was mentioned that Caden talked so much about crap while in the church nursery. My husband and I laughed out loud. Apparently, Caden was excited to share about his newest pal-Hermie the Crap.

Hermie the Crap. Love it. Love taking language liberties with cutie, sweetie two and half year olds.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Straightened Out

This morning, hair straightener in hand, I was sobbing. Weeping, not at the state of my greys and the dire need for a haircut/color, but at the footage unfolding on my t.v.

Haiti is enduring the aftermath of a deadly earthquake. I have been avoiding the 24/7 news coverage. I can't watch. I can't watch and know I can't do anything. I can't see babies bloodied and bruised and not long to soothe their wounds and sing away their tears. This morning, though, I tuned in.

Alli and Jamie McMutrie refused to leave their devastated Port Au Prince orphanage until all the children were sent to their adoptive countries. They stayed with over a hundred children in a concrete driveway. With intervention from the Governor and UPMC and others, they were able to bring the children to the U.S. 54 landed today with Alli. Jamie stayed behind to make sure the other children were sent to their adoptive nations.

The young woman, disheveled, exhausted and overwhelmed by the media attention and the tragedies of the past days was an inspiration. She's young. Very young. Her life has already made a difference in the lives of these babies. And she has so much more time to do so much more, as I am sure she will.

I wept because I wanted a home large enough to bring in one of those beautiful, brown skinned angels. I wept because I wanted to help people like the McMutrie sisters have all they need to do all they can. I wept because I was feeling a little sorry for myself.

I was straightened out this morning, as I straightened out my hair. I didn't lose everything in an earthquake and have to live in a driveway. I didn't live in a country built on corruption and keeping it's citizens in poverty and ignorance for the sole purpose of control.

My family is intact, even if my bank account isn't. My home is intact, even if I don't own it. My faith is intact, even when I don't serve the One who put it there.

I may not be able fly 54 orphans to safety and a new home. But I can skip a treat or two and put a buck or two in the offering. And I certainly am able to straighten out my attitude.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First Love?

Deep breath. Here's how it went down tonight.

"Mom, I bowled a 233 on Wii!"

"Great job bubby!"

"But I can't call girlfriends about it."

Sound of screeching brakes-in my head of course.

"What do you mean? Call girlfriends?"

"You didn't tell me at what age I have to be when I can call my girlfriend."


"Do you have a girlfriend?"


"What's her name?"

"Bella. Come on Mom you know her."

Keep breathing. Stay calm. He's only 6 1/2.

"We haven't kissed yet."

O-h m-y g-o-o-d-n-e-s-s.

Calm voice. "I don't think kissing is really appropriate at your age."

"Mom, can I have another cookie?"

I had another cookie or two while I mulled this over. Whoa.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter Quick Bits

The following is a pictorial essay offered to fend off the snow madness I am currently experiencing. At least while wearing wool socks 24/7 I can't see how desperately I need a pedi, the dog smell has faded from my woobie and the new pellet stove is wicked warm.

Men in Steeler Snow Gear

In my neck of the frozen tundra, Stiller gear (i.e. Steeler football emblazoned clothing) is oft considered haute couture. However, I didn't realize how handsome men are in cold weather gear. Here's dad and the hubby after freeing us out of the latest snow squall.

All Season Porches

Dad installed a wood pellet stove on the uninsulated back porch. The idea was to create a space for the children to play whilst the adults luxuriate in toy free space in the living room. What has resulted is an all season porch with a pile of toys in one end and a 'man cave' in the other. As Pappy headed to bed tonight, he asked my 6 year old what the one rule was, "No toys in the man cave." As it gets upwards of 85 on the porch, the heat escapes through the uninsulated ceiling creating the most spectacular icicles.

Snow Blower Facial

My son thought it was a good idea to follow my brother around the yard while he snow plowed a track for the dog to go to potty. Yes, we snow plow a track for him. He's a miniature dachshund so when the snow reaches a certain amount he takes his genital life in his paws. Ian followed Michael until he realizes that snow in the face actually hurts after awhile. Hurt is an understatement, snow burns. Hugs and moisturizer were provided.

Snowy Kid Memories

We can only get out for a few short minutes at a time. It's below zero with the wind chill and, frankly, I am a cold wuss. Apparently, so is my little fella. He wasn't pleased to be in the snow. Thankfully, soon his natural cheerful, adventuresome self came out.

Recipe for Snow Cream

Big roasting pan.
Two little guys with mixing spoons.
2 c. milk
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
Lotsa snow.

Mix milk and vanilla. Dissolve the sugar fully in the vanilla milk. Trudge outside and fill the pan with snow. Mix and mix some more. Clean up what the baby sloshed all over the floor. Mix and then eat. Surprisingly it is really really good!

Recipe for Snowy Memories

There were weird snowprints leading up to the front door and back. I talked it over with the sitter, and she mentioned the neighbors saw bear. Dad confirmed there is bear in these here parts. A bear. In my front yard. Really? Turns out to really be a large rabbit that lives in the bushes.

My six year old looked out the window watching snowflakes. He commented on how every snowflake was different. We talked about how fun that is and how fun that Father God makes no two people alike either. MLK would be proud.

It's only January, so the winter quick bits we have had will continue. I'm glad. Now, scoot over and make room under the woobie, I'm cold.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Giving Up

My smart, handsome and very perceptive brother came to visit for the holidays. It was delicious. We cooked. We laughed. We played way too much Wii. We drank gallons of coffee.

He said something that I have chewed on longer than my late night snacky. It began as we installed a pellet stove onto the back porch. The process entailed much cleaning, organizing and moving of furniture. It was already a wreck. From the wreckage we created a two zone all season room. On one side is the man cave. On the other is the kids play area.

In the process, he asked me when I had given up. When I had given up on organizing and cleaning. He observed, with no malice or criticism, that I had never had such an unorganized life.

At first, my tough broad hackles rose. How dare he? I work full time, have two energetic boys, a dad and a very busy life. Who cares that my floor isn't clean or that I can't find anything--usually.

Instead of getting crunchy and telling him where to stick it. I just moved on with the day. And I thought over what he said and what he meant.

I didn't give up. Not when it was really bad. Not recently when it was kinda bad again. Not at all. I think.

Except, he was right. Somewhere along the depression highway I picked up certain baggage or at least began to recognize all the luggage I was tugging around. I think I also dropped some bags too.

I dropped the pretty purse with the secret compartments containing little notes. Notes written in the whispers of dreams and aspirations. I set aside the bucket for cleaning out the chaos and confusion. I forgot to fill my sippy cup of hope.

He was right. I had given up on some things. I needed to pick up and stop giving up. It doesn't mean I'll have a clean kitchen floor or always know where everything is. It just means I'm going to start giving again.