To all mothers who are building cathedrals

I didn’t write this, although anytime I come across something poignant and well written I wish that I had penned it first! A dear friend sent this to me years ago and it has resonated with me ever since. I was cleaning out my email folders and came across it and even though it is a little late for Mother’s day I feel it is appropriate for anyone who is in the midst of parenting. I also have been somewhat of a sentimental fool lately as I have been scanning and archiving old family photos and my dear, sweet, wonderful grandmother, Avril, will be turning 93 years old on Saturday. She is a lovely woman whose parenting set the standard high and when I read these words I can’t help but think of her because her family is her cathedral and it is such a blessing to be one of the small birds carved into a beam. Enjoy!

Invisible Mother…..*
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’
Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??
Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone!?
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’
In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it. And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, ‘You’re gonna love it there.’
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

*The email gave no credit for who wrote this piece but a quick google search told me a woman by the name of Mary Lynn Plaisance is the author. I am trying to give credit where it is due but be aware that the internet is a crafty creature and is not always a reliable witness.

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Patience is a virtue

When my first son was born I never felt overwhelmed at the task of being a mom. Caring for an infant seemed practically foolproof: love them, feed them, change their diapers, let them sleep. Pretty straightforward. I always felt sympathy for the moms who second guessed every move they made when faced with the daily routine set by their newborns but I couldn’t really relate. Well, the anxiety and the feelings of doubt that accompany raising children have come crashing down into my reality as of late. Turns out the likelihood of really screwing things up with your children increases as they get older and their memories get better and they can recall every single time mommy boarded the crazy train, with a seemingly one-way ticket, instead of employing all the rational parenting techniques she read about in the lobby of her OB/GYN’s office while waiting to be seen during  pregnancy.

 I happen to live in a house with three young boys who are rowdy and loud more often than not. They are, in fact, so high energy, that in comparison, most other children look to have the activity levels of hermit crabs. I have become a yeller mostly just to be heard but it easily bleeds over into yelling from frustration or anger (insert mom guilt). I just read that one can experience a “yelling hangover,” a combination of losing your cool and the ensuing guilt from doing so. Been there–and now I know it has a name, and not a very desirable on, either. This has led me to make many proclamations about how things are going to change around here. Mostly that I would have more patience or the next time I feel like I need to yell I will whisper instead because that is more effective at getting your children’s attention (Note on whispering: when one’s child is screaming and throwing dog food down the stairs, the other is trying to pee in the corner trumpeting his ability to “potty” and the other is in the next room discovering he CAN get the lids off the paint, whispering is not the answer, locking yourself in the bathroom with a pound bag of m&m’s, or a bottle of wine, or both, is much more effective if one is trying to refrain from yelling.) It feels like patience is never within my reach when I really need it, when things get chaotic I have a hard time backing off the edge of crazy. I cannot, although not for the lack of trying, figure out how to grasp something so elusive.

“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

I have read this verse many times but it recently has been more impactful in two ways. One, it contains the attributes I desire as a parent, love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control. The things I feel are forgotten in my frustration or in my selfishness as a sinful human who is trying to raise other sinful humans. Two, I am humbly reminded that no matter how hard I try or how much I steel my resolve to do and be better I am still coming back to myself. The fruits laid out in scripture come from the Spirit and the only way I can grow in these is to lay down my self and pick up Christ. No book is going to tell me how to be a better mother or wife (although, some may have some great practical tips) the real change is going to come when I am transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. I have to continually remind myself of this when I am torn up inside about my impatience or sharp words or anger and frustration, that I, too, am continually being sanctified. All I can really do is pray that God will show me how to be obedient in parenting and I am so thankful for one more day with my children and that in my growth I can show them, practically, what it looks like to be under the grace of God.

The Ignorance of Strangers

A few weeks ago two things happened to me that helped set the course for my upcoming year.  I encountered a stranger, who was either lacking in command of semantics or was a master, and I also took my children to the Omaha zoo. It is hard to imagine how these two events could come together to form some kind of palpable teaching moment but I am amazingly adept and connecting seemingly unrelated things.

One: The Stranger

The weather has been unseasonably warm in Nebraska this last month which prompted a family bike ride one Thursday morning. While we were stopped for a water and trail mix break (where my kids pick out all the M&M’s so I am left with only the healthy raisins and peanuts to eat) a woman comes by walking her dogs. We make some small talk about the weather and other “safe” subjects when she asks me if we are on spring break. I told her that we home school so, no, we aren’t on break. Her reply, “Oh, so school is always out for you.” I must admit this comment kind of got under my skin mostly because my philosophy on education is that, especially for us, school is always in. I try to never let a learning opportunity pass by without involving my boys in some critical thinking so it kind of irks me that someone would assume that our day involves mostly field trips to zoos and theme parks and, when not doing that, we are just watching TV (educational, of course!). Not even close.

Fast forward to our trip to the zoo (I know how it looks!)

Two: Henry Doorly Zoo

If you have never been the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE, is really quite amazing. We bought a membership this year so on a Friday we loaded up to head to Omaha to see what we could see. I, by nature, am a shameless eavesdropper. I can’t help it! I have supersonic mom hearing and part of listening in is how I keep constantly aware of my surroundings (this is what I tell myself anyway but I digress). Besides, I am completely convinced that the zoo is one of the top places where the ignorance of the American public is very blatant. Case in point, we are standing at the fence of a lovely African animal, namely the Okapi. An animal that most people are not aware of if not for an American zoo, in fact. With a brown upper body and zebra stripes down the back haunches its a striking and interesting creation. We are standing next to a mom with young children, not so different from myself, who is questioning out loud what kind of animal they are looking at. “I have never seen one of those before. I am not sure what it is. It must be some sort of hybrid animal…it looks like maybe a deer mixed with a zebra. It definitely has to be part zebra, look at its stripes.” This mostly one sided dialog with her child went on for quite some time, too long, in fact. It seems to me that it takes more of an effort to fabricate a story about the origins of an unidentified animal than to back up 15ft and read the very information sign that the zoo provides at every animal exhibit. But maybe she wasn’t headed in the way of the sign. Too bad, it is a treasure trove of knowledge.

Then, a little later in our zoo outing, we come to an exhibit that contains reptiles from the swamp in the American south: alligators, gar, a variety of turtles, etc. In one corner of the tank, up against the viewing glass, two alligators are biting at a turtle…barely. A woman in the crowd is in hysterics, looking up the zoo telephone number to report it and trying to usher her children out of the building so they won’t witness anything “horrific”. She did stick around for a few minutes, though, commenting to anyone who would listen that, “They are eating him!” (To which my five year old is countering, “No, the aren’t! It would be way more exciting if they were”) and “I can’t believe they would put animals together that could eat each other” (To which I am countering, “Why not? Nature does all the time”) By the time she got out of there we had quite an audience listening to our inadvertent comedy routine!

So there is a point, right? Barely.

After the barbed comment on home school and zoo experiences I really started thinking about education. Although I am a proponent for home school and really love how it works for our family, I don’t view it as superior to educating your child outside the home. What I really think is critical is how parents are involved in their children’s education. Do they actively “teach” when opportunities arise? Or do they completely delegate that responsibility to an outside institution? More than memorization of facts are we teaching our children how to think critically and how to find information they don’t know? The mother at the okapi exhibit doesn’t have me convinced. Are we nurturing curiosity so that learning something new about our world is fun and exciting or are we shielding them from anything we can’t, or won’t, explain? The mother who had obviously never seen an episode of Wild Explorer doesn’t give me much confidence.

For me, raising critical thinkers who try to seek out logical progressions and new information when they want to know about something is more important than being able to answer ten questions on a multiple choice standardized test correctly. In that week, the zoo and a stranger confirmed for me that I want to take on homeschooling for another year because I really don’t think that someone else could do it better than me at this point. This is true for ALL parents, no one is more effective at teaching your child than you! Don’t let the formative years pass by while you wait for them to be “school age”. There are always opportunities to learn something new and if you don’t take them you will end up in someone’s blog or as a facebook status. Just saying.

Stepping off soap box now…..

Seoul travel

I was going to name this post, “Springtime for Kim Jung Il” but was worried that The Producer’s reference would be lost on most of my readers but I had to throw it in there because I like to think of myself as wildly clever. Instead of a play by play account of our time there, I am just going to list some of the highlights. Also, the photos included here are just a brief insight to what we saw. I will have a more detailed album up on my facebook page.

Best food in Korea, in three parts:

How could I not start with food? I could travel the world by through its various cuisine and I envy Andrew Zimmern that he actually gets paid to do so. Korean food is pretty much awesome and, aside from some sort of gray crab paste concoction, I enjoyed eating everything. In fact, I pretty much ate to capacity every single day in order to try as much as I could.

Traditional Korean: We had Korean BBQ which is basically meat cooked over coals in the center of your table and lots of kimchi. We ate some delicious soups, my favorite being a spicy kimchi soup. We also tried a dish called bibimbap, which is a rice dish served in an incredibly hot bowl that actually continues to cook your food after it is served. My favorite traditional restaurant was a place that served a seven course meal all revolving around duck, smoked duck, grilled duck, duck corn cakes that looked like hushpuppies. Then for the dessert they brought out a whole pumpkin stuffed with rice, nuts and raisins. Best part of the meal was sharing it with my brother and my beautiful sister in law and a few of their friends!

Eating duck on our last night

Street food: Street food deserves its own separate mention, for sure. We went to several markets and walked around eating from numerous stands. Steamed mondu (like a wonton), fished shaped cakes filled with red bean curd, another fried pocket filled with vegetables and noodles, roasted chestnuts, rice cakes, waffles with cream and honey. My favorite was hotaek, a pancake like sweet that is filled with a cinnamon sugar mixture and fried. I even bought a few hotaek mixes at the grocery store so I can make them from the comfort of my own kitchen. One thing I didn’t try, and was told by a few people that it wasn’t even worth it, were the fried silk worms. They didn’t really look appetizing and my friend Steve said that if we wanted to know how they tasted we should just smell them…..ummm, not so much. It would have to be a desperate situation for that to go down!

Making hotaek in the Suwon market

Other asian food: My brother took us to a traditional Chinese restaurant where they made fresh noodles as you ordered them. It is awesome to watch the exponential increase the noodle maker halves and stretches his noodle compound. We had fresh made sweet and sour pork and I promise you that nothing I have tried in America even comes close to eating fresh sweet and sour with made from scratch sweet sauce! Superb! We also had some Thai food (green curry, coconut soup and the likes), gourmet pizza (including a honey gorgonzola creation), and some pho and that was my favorite. Probably because I haven’t found a really good pho restaurant here so it just tasted that much more delicious.

 

The DMZ

We took an all day tour up to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) and some other places that are associated with it. Starting with a bus ride and a History Channel movie that gave us he basics of the Korean War, North Korea’s stance on government and the ensuing cold war that is best demarcated by a 150 mile long by 2 mile wide line of barbed wire, fences, and mine fields. We visited Imjingak which is a memorial to the Korean War and to the pain and grief it has caused the nation. One of the most impacting relics there is a rusted out train engine littered with bullet holes. It was the last train to cross from the north to the south as the rail line was destroyed by bombs during the war.

After leaving Imjingak things began to feel more serious to me. We crossed through a few checkpoints which were heavily guarded by soldiers and the once busy traffic slowly became a few cars or tour buses on the road. Our next stop was to Tunnel #3. A tunnel running from North to South Korea, obviously built for infiltrating the south, but held by the North Koreans to have been on old mining tunnel (the evidence of this is less than convincing). We hiked all the way down and then up to the blockade that had been placed there by South Korea. We were told that about 20 of these tunnels had been discovered and blocked but that there is believed to be many more.

There we also saw the memorial statue that symbolizes the reunification that is actually desired by both the North and the South. The only problem with this is that the North only wants to reunite under its communist terms and that doesn’t sit too well with the South.

Next we traveled to Dora Observatory and got a panoramic view of the DMZ and the two cities, Tae Sung Dong (Freedom City) and Kijong-dong (also called propoganda city because no North Koreans actually live or work there). Last we actually entered into the Joint Security Area inside the DMZ, and after a briefing by US soldiers and signing a waiver basically saying we won’t sue the government if injured in a war zone, we were taken to see where the North and South meet to discuss politics. Inside one of the buildings we were able to cross into North Korea, a very unsettling feeling to say the least! I much prefer the free side of that line!

Seoul:

We spent a whole day in Seoul, riding public transportation into the city. That in itself was an experience! Each stop we made more and more people crammed into the train, at one point pressing us into the door on the opposite side. There are an incredible amount of people in Seoul, I believe about 20 million, and the whole country, which is about the size of Illinois, contains about 60 million people.  We met my friend from college, Steve, in the morning at Gyeongbokgung Palace and walked all around the grounds. The palace belonged to the Emperor but when the city fell at one point the Emperor fled. The people were so mad they destroyed the whole palace so everything there has been rebuilt.

Next we went to a market district called Insadong where we bought a few trinket souvenirs, then to Seoul Tower. From high on the hill we could look out at all the city and the surrounding city, the city really doesn’t seem to have an end. Up at the top you could also purchase a padlock (or bring your own), write a love note on it and hook it to the fence. The whole fence was covered in padlocks proclaiming people’s love for each other. They called it Locks of Love, not to be mistaken with the American organization where one donates cut hair to make wigs!

Best Korean Experience: The JimJilBang

The JimJilBang, or the bath house, was my favorite thing that we did. Men and women are separated and you strip down to relax in a variety of hot tubs, cool tubs, and saunas. People will spend all day there! Lounging the communal area, watching tv or taking naps. I wasn’t sure quite how to navigate this place but I put on the bravest face I could muster being completely naked where no one spoke English and having to watch those around me to get a feel for what I should do (which was very awkward, in and of itself!). Calling it a bath house is not a misnomer, either, people really come there to get clean, really, really clean. Most of the women were in a corner of the large room at individual seated showers in front of mirrors scrubbing every inch of their skin. I chose to pay for this luxurious scrub down (only about $15) where I laid on the table and a middle age woman in a black bra and underwear started sloughing my skin with what felt like a scotch-brite pad. The experience wasn’t painful, but was for sure intense at times. Now, I bathe regularly….okay, maybe not so regularly since I became a mom, but on this trip I had no kids so I was bathing quite regularly….and I scrub myself in the shower but the dry skin that was coming off my skin was more than disturbing. I heard the Koreans believe that Americans are dirty and now I know why, what was coming off my skin I would have only believed could come off a pioneer crossing the Oregon Trail after months without a decent bath if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. I have since bought my own scotch-brite quality pair of gloves to keep in my shower because the way my skin felt after all that exfoliation was amazing.

Best thing I will only see in Korea: This Photo!

Shout out to all my breastfeeding mommas! This was the photo on the front cover of a lullaby cd right in the grocery store. You would never see this in America. How obscene, a baby eating! Koreans love breastfeeding. Two women, actually asked me if I breastfed my own babies and one wondered how I could even be away from my youngest (who is almost 18 months) because I should still be breastfeeding him.  I had to put this in here because it was so impactful to see a culture that embraces the most natural way to feed your child, of which I am also a huge proponent.

The best, best part of our trip:

With all we saw and did in our too short time the best, best part was spending time with family. I love any opportunity to get to hang out with my brother and know him more and the same is to be said of his wife who I feel is my long-lost sister that my brother finally found and made officially in some capacity. We love you , Cam and Ada , and can’t wait until we all get to be closer some day! Also, just to have some one on one time with my husband was more amazing than even I could have imagined. What a great reminder that we actually like to hang out with each other and can have fun together when we aren’t so occupied with keeping our children from running off to pee in corner or be snatched by a stranger, or dealing with sleep deprivation that could break even the most hardened criminal. I always tell my husband that if we can make it through raising small children then we can make it through anything. So thankful for the opportunity to take this trip with my husband! And it wouldn’t have even been possible with out the mad babysitting skills of my dad who had our boys for the whole week. He did such a great job they didn’t even miss us!

And that’s it. The briefest account of a trip overseas you might possibly ever read.

Giant Baby Step

Recently I was asked if Dave and I had ever been away together, just us, no kids, a romantic getaway to a tropical location or even just renting a room at the Super 8, whatever. I honestly replied, No. Oh sure, we have date nights and every once in a while we stay awake long enough to watch a movie after the kids are in bed but as for going away together, overnight? Not once. This is the response I got, verbatim:

“I figure I share my thoughts to you about this in private and not out in the open. Do you strive and enjoy being in that position of being overwhelmed with that many kids all the time? me and [my wife] always plan for the grandparents to have our kids over night at least 3-4 times each year. We think it keeps us from getting burned out.”

Wha?! Maybe it’s just me but it sounds like I am being judged for NOT leaving my children enough. If it’s not one end of the spectrum it’s the other.

Mostly we have never been away due to circumstance. We haven’t ever really lived close to any grandparents or family who can take our children overnight and when you are having babies every two years it isn’t really feasible to leave an infant who is dependent on your for food or a  young baby who doesn’t sleep through the night with a well-meaning and underestimating family member. I mean, who wants to volunteer to wake up several times a night with a non-sleeping, needy child or warm up breast milk bottles for 8 feedings a day? Anyway, part of me really wanted to fire back (I sent a polite reply) but here is the rest of the story.

This last week was a big one for my husband and I. We bought tickets for our first trip together since we have had kids (so if you can’t do basic math or don’t want to, we have never been without kids, just us, for about 5 years and 5 months!). Now most people would take a weekend trip the Kansas City eating cheesecake on the Plaza and staying at the Marriott or to a quaint bed and breakfast where you can feel “away from it all” but still have internet access the first time they ever leave their children…but not us! No, we are travelling to Seoul, South Korea, roughly 6000 miles from our children and across 14 time zones, a giant baby step to say the least! And even though my brother assures me that the country has developed far beyond rice paddies and donkey pulled carts, I still can’t help but feel that we really are going to the other side of the world, really….it’s really the other side of the world.

So there are two things that I have been thinking about regarding this trip and the discussion that preceded it.

1. What causes burn out? Because honestly, even though we have never been away I generally don’t feel burned out because of my kids. I am not saying that there aren’t days when I am praying that God will speed my clock ahead to bedtime so we can all go to sleep and just start over tomorrow. But overall I am happy with our family and with our situation even if it doesn’t mean vacationing with my husband three to four times a year (which, by the way, I feel is a lot. I don’t know anyone who gets that kind of time away). Mostly, this is because I don’t rely on “me time” or “us time” to keep me full. Only God can truly keep me full and his portion is always more than enough. Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Anything else is self-deception because nothing else is truly fulfilling so we end up needing more and more. That is the myth of “me time”, it doesn’t really satisfy. Psalm 131 says,

” My heart is not proud, LORD,
   my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
   or things too wonderful for me. 
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
   I am like a weaned child with its mother;
   like a weaned child I am content.

    Israel, put your hope in the LORD
   both now and forevermore.

How many times have sat with my children, holding them, rocking them, loving them, giving everything I have, all my attention to quiet and comfort them? It is what the spirit of the Lord does for us and it resonates so deeply with me, especially as a mom, to know that I will never run out of things to give to my children because the well that I draw from is infinitely deep!

2. Taking this trip has really put my focus on trusting in God. Many times in the execution of this trip I have felt a panicky flutter in my chest, thinking, “What if?” A whole slew of things can go wrong and we will be so far from home. I mean any trip that I have to update our living will and create a power of attorney so our children can receive prompt medical attention tends to lead ones mind down the trail of “Worse Case Scenarios”. I know, rationally, that anything can happen at anytime but somehow I think that my chances of surviving a car crash while in the continental United States are far greater than clinging to life if we crash into the Bering Strait (which, surprisingly, I give my self about a 5% chance of survival. Let’s just agree that the number is optimistically high). I know that everything I do is in God’s control and that he is sovereign in all things (Romans 8:28).

So that is where I am putting my focus, trusting in God because he is my hope and security and relying on him to sustain me and that is where the giant baby step really is important because it has given me the opportunity to walk in obedience and step out in faith.

The Mom Friend

Making friends is hard once you are past a certain stage in life: no longer sharing the social situations that school affords, it can be challenging to find people who share your interests and experiences. Especially for moms (although, not limited to them) where living in the daily grind of raising kids severely limits your contact with the outside world making it tough to connect with other women who also are limited in the same regard. Despite the odds, that are seemingly against me, I have stepped outside my comfort zone to find a “mom friend” to commiserate with, laugh with, cry with and, basically, share an adult conversation with.

Finding a friend is no easy task.

First off, my husband’s job requires that we move around about every two years. Usually what this means is that just when I have found some really good women friends, who I am just getting comfortable with, we have to move. Sad, I know, but the positive side of this is that I carry with me their friendship wherever we go and through the magic of facebook I always have someone to talk to, even when they are far away.

Secondly, I tend to gravitate towards women who have at least as many kids as I do, if not more. So my three and her three + can end up being slightly chaotic when we get together. The logistics of planning a meeting that takes into consideration everyone’s nap schedules, lunch schedules, activity schedules is enough to frazzle the steeliest of nerves. Never would we consider meeting at anyplace out in public that did not include a playground, a fence, a restaurant with a  menu that contains items for one dollar or an enclosed ball pit. Conversations are never uninterrupted, they contain subject matter that would bore the average person, and thoughts are almost never expounded on, or even completed! Man, is it worth it though!

Thirdly, I am never sure what is appropriate when approaching a new friend. Have you ever met those people who you are just drawn to and you know you could be good friends? I never know how to let them know of our friend potential without coming off as too forward. Somehow, “I really like you and I think we could be really great friends if you would just get to know me” sounds far too desperate at this age (at any age, really, once you are past 6). So here I am finding ways to talk to new moms I have met and shamelessly using my children for an excuse for the adults to get together (which is WAY more desperate than the too forward approach), hoping they will like me, too, and praying they will never find out how completely thrilled I am that we are friends until it is past the point when that kind of full disclosure it completely appropriate.

Lastly, once we have moved past the stage where the moms just  hang out with the kids it is inevitable that we take things to the next level where the parents hang out with just each other. This always proves be a hangup as the women that I like have husbands that my husband is lukewarm with and the guys he really likes come with wives that I sometimes can just tolerate (this makes it sound like there is a 50/50 hangup issue here, but really my husband could probably hang out with anyone and I tend to be the much less tolerant half).  The step up from “mom friend” would be the enviable, and much sought after, “couple friend,” which I am pretty sure had a whole episode of “King of Queens” dedicated to it so you know it’s a big deal.

Recently, I have run into some very promising prospects for “mom friends” that I will be actively pursuing but I am always open to applicants.

Obligatory New Year’s Post for 2012!

I feel like I need to have a specific post to ring in my blogging new year even though I don’t really see January 1st as any different from any other day (other than it takes me forever to remember to write the new year on my checks!). I don’t really make resolutions so much as goals for things I want to accomplish. I am already a list maker by nature and goals fit perfectly in the broader scale of the year. So here is a look forward to some of the goals I have for 2012.

1. Try to create a new post for my blog once a week. Of course this is effective immediately and not from the first of the year (or else I would already be one post behind!). I don’t know if this goal is going to back me into the corner of forced creativity but my husband sure thinks I have too much too say so he will probably be happy if I can vent some of it into print form (that way he has the option to actually read it, wait, he already takes the option to listen or not….hmmm).

2. I am going to try to enjoy my kids more. Who doesn’t want to do this? Not enjoying your kids can be such a bummer. What with all the yelling and whining. I think that enjoying your children is a practiced art because mostly what we do with children revolves around the daily grind of taking care of their needs which can definitely be a drag on the fun scale. It’s better to work on finding joy, for sure.

3. I am going to read through my bible in the year. Although, I have read a substantial portion of this book doing complete read through will insure that I touch on all the more obscure passages that I may have missed in the past. More than just a to-do on my list I am reading it prayerfully that the Lord will keep my growing in Him and the knowledge of His Word, not just to “know” it but to apply it in my life.

4. I am also going to finish reading the BBC’s Top 100 Book List. I only have 36 books left to read which is about 3 per month (I hope there are some short ones on the list still).

5. I am going to complete my second triathlon. Why? Just because….and because I feel pretty amazing when it’s over. A lot like having all my babies completely drug free, pushing my body to do physical things outside my comfort zone makes me feel like I can do anything. I am not even talking about Iron Man lengths here, just a sprint through the swim, bike and run, a mere 15 or 20 miles. You should try it!

I guess since I don’t smoke and I am pretty happy with my weight I can skip those cliches (I probably could drink more, it might chill me out a little. Just kidding….kind of !) So here we go! Posted to the internet, no excuses now. Happy New Year!

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