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It's interesting to look at your life, past to present, and think: "It has all led up to this...." And then wonder where it will lead to next.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I gave up new years resolutions years ago. I would still name one or two, but usually with another resolution to completely forgive myself should I fail miserably (knowing without a doubt what the likeliness would be). A good friend of mine had a really great idea. It's called goals. You set goals for the year, write them down on a big piece of paper and let them be visible to others. Share them with friends, read theirs. Make them realistic. Some small, some big. See what you accomplish in the end. I like this idea much better than one or two big new year resolutions. It's tangible and much less intimidating, which is funny since my list is much longer than the usual. Perhaps because these are things I plan to do anyway, might as well make them "goals" and feel good if I accomplish them.

Here is my list. In no particular order.

-CNA certification
Already took the class, just need to schedule that dag-gone certification test (and pass). This is way over due.

- Finish pre-req classes 
Basic math, microbiology, anatomy and physiology II.

- Apply for nursing school
Whether I end up going in 2013 or not, I intend to apply this fall. This is a decision I have been struggling with for two years now. No longer "if", but "when". I began the process in 2010, now I intend to pick it back up and finish it. Just 3 more pre-reqs and a couple tests, all of which are the least of my worries. My fear has not been can I, but should I. I am hoping God will give me my answer with a simple acceptance or rejection to make the final decision easier on me. You know, so I don't have to really make the decision... besides the whole studying my ass off and applying for it part, that is.

- Quote journal/letters to the boys 
I've decided I need to write down on paper Aiden's quotes (and Gabriel's once he starts talking). I also want to write them letters. I figure if I can write how I am feeling about them, and life, as it's happening, maybe they will better understand me and the things I do. Or forgive me the times I fail them when they see how much I loved them regardless. I have considered doing this for Aaron as well.

- Make running a part of my life again 
And all that that implies.

- Write at least one fictional story

I love fiction. I have this idea that in order for one to be a true writer, they must be capable of writing fiction. This task is almost as daunting to me as applying to nursing school (despite the fact that nursing could lead to a potential life-long career and fictional writing would simply be a hobby). The idea of writing fiction literally makes my stomach flip and my heart beat harder. A mixture of excitement and fear. I don't like starting things I know I must fail at countless times before even a chance of success.

- Start and keep a prayer journal
I communicate much better in writing than in speaking. I used to love to pray. Something happened. A lot of things happened. Prayer is difficult for me now. Last time I found myself in this place I wrote. It was hard to start, but my prayers somehow felt more genuine, and my mind didn't wander. Prayers in passing seem unfair, especially when they are the only prayers prayed. I want to write to God from my heart again.

- Get Christmas gifts done before Thanksgiving
I really like getting people things I know they'll really like. I also like making people gifts (and hope they like them). Only problems are, I procrastinate (this makes home made gifts difficult). I am not wealthy (so when I procrastinate I don't necessarily have the time to find that "perfect" gift for the price I can afford). I am not Martha Stewart (my hand made gifts take time, and even then don't come close). Bad combinations = not getting/making the gifts I'd really like to give to people. This year I plan to get gifts through out the year as I find them (making easier on the wallet), and should I decide to do hand made gifts, be able to take my sweet time on them. It's ambitious at the very least.

- Try a new trail once a month
I used to love to hike. I have not hiked in a really long time (since... before I was pregnant with Gabriel I think!). I live in a great area for hiking. I want to hike once a week, but I'd like to try a new trail once a month and catch up on all the months I've missed to explore new trails. This may have to start in the spring though...

- Print pictures
So many pictures... so few printed.

- Have a cleaning schedule, and stick to it
I used to have an awesome cleaning schedule that fit in with my daily routine and made keeping house a not so horrible part of life. I want that again. I like a clean and organized house. No, I need it. This will happen. No excuses!

- Date with my sexy husband once a week (even if just a walk!)
Ah my husband, how I miss our weekly dates. We will make it happen again this new year, and I look forward to it more than anything...

- One-on-one mother-son dates each month
I love mother-son dates. I had high expectations of doing this this past year, but it just didn't happen. At least not as often as I would have liked. The implication is, while I'm having one-on-one time with one of the boys, Aaron is having one-on-one time with the other. It's a good plan, and shouldn't be too difficult especially now that Gabriel is taking a bottle again and eating solids for that matter (hooray for little to none boob-reliance!).

- Limit TV to twice a week
I don't think this one needs much explaining.

- Limit desert to once a week
I like sweets sooooo much. It's almost ridiculous. No, it is ridiculous. I would like to conquer and control my cravings. Instead of the other way around.

I'm pretty excited to see how many of these will be crossed off by the end of the year. Now if you've taken the time to read through my long boring list, you can take the time to write your own (and I promise to read it if you promise to share it). Good luck to you all in this new year. May you be blessed, and bless others.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Let's Stick Together... Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

There have been many times in my life that I have literally yelled at God for making me a woman. From the time I was a very young girl, I could see the perks of being a male in this world (pee standing up, go shirtless on a hot day... have the last say) and felt deeply the complications of being female. Why, God?? I would cry (and sometimes still do). And other times made snide comments like, No wonder God chose to be a man when he came to this world...

I have been categorized, belittled, and overlooked based on my gender. Then told it's just the way it is. I have been sexually harassed in more ways and by more men than I can count. Then told it was my fault (in the wrong place, out at the wrong time, wearing the wrong thing... being the wrong gender). These things have hurt me and carved themselves into my identity in many ways. A lot of the time I fight bitterness. Other times I give in. But even as much as all of it enrages me, nothing makes my skin crawl, nothing makes my soul boil, as much as women turning on women.

Nothing aggravates me more than comments like, "I just don't get along with girls... they're so bitchy, and gossipy..." Nobody likes hanging out with rude people, but don't tag a whole gender with those labels. As though men are not capable of turning on each other, or talking behind each other's backs. Don't give into the lies! I want to scream. Don't you realize you are lumping yourself in that category??

The funny thing is, I used that very excuse my first semester in college. And it was true, there was a lot of gossip and I didn't want any part of it, but even while I was saying I didn't want to gossip, I was gossiping about the girls who were gossiping. And when you gossip, you attract others who gossip as well. I have spent a lot of time with guys in my life, and let me tell you, gossip is not just a girl thing. Here is my theory, the best way to keep away from girls (and guys) who are bitchy and gossipy: don't be a bitch, don't gossip. It can be done, and those that know it are out there, eager to be your friend.

I am really grateful to have a group of women to share life with who do not make a habit of gossip or back-biting. Seriously, I have never been around so many women who so effortlessly build each other up. It seems effortless. The truth is, a loving spirit is just as contagious as a spiteful one. It's a special thing to be able to spend hours talking with really interesting, fun, intelligent women. There are a lot of lucky men in this town.

There are so many wonderful things about women. Women are beautiful. I don't mean that in a materialistic or shallow way. We are just beautiful and there is no denying it. It's why people are drawn to us. We each have presence, whether we realize it or not, and it speaks louder than words. Sometimes it is overshadowed by insecurity and self-doubt. Sometimes by a whole lot of hurt. But even those things can be beautiful, when we accept the ugliness and hurt that is ours, and release it to God.

I hate that the unique features that God gave us have been taken by the world and turned against us. A woman's anger can be such a beautiful and powerful tool, used to build lives up and tear evil down. There are many types of anger. They are all shapes and sizes with different colors and shades. But no, if you are angry, upset, or even burdened, it is stuffed into a little intolerable box that is labeled "hormones." Hormones. Created to make wonderful things possible. Also known as, a woman's curse. I know people like to forget this small fact, but men have hormones too. (Yes, boys will be boys, and all that jazz) Either way, let's not take what was for good and use it to insult and bury dignity. Even the best of things come with negative side effects, that's no reason to throw the whole lot into the trash.

Women are "complicated", men are "simple." I don't know who thought that one up, but anyone who is married to a man knows: men are not simple. (And even so, why would "simple" be something someone would want to be?) Also, women are less complicated than one might think. If they took the time to think about it.

I am not a man-hater, as I have been accused of many times in my life (just because you value your own gender, does not mean you must hate the other). There are so many men I appreciate having in my life. I think men are fascinating. I can't wait to see how my boys grow up (or can I?). There is so much more I feel on this subject. So much more I could say. But really, all I am saying is... Ladies, we have enough going against us. Let's not turn on each other.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The deal with Santer...

Here's the thing (here she goes), I've never had a problem with Santa. He's been a little tackified (a little??), but other than that, he's ok by me (pssh). I'm a little sad that the original story is lost on so many (that instead this big red persona is used to deceive and confuse small children? The irony!), and the whole wait in long lines and sit on Santa's lap thing is not really something I plan to make a tradition (seriously does anyone even know who that old dude your kids are sitting on is? Creepy...). 

Now I've never tried to tell Aiden that Santa is real (he's a fraud! He's fake!). Honestly I didn't even think to bring him up till Aiden came to me a couple weeks ago already completely convinced that Santa was going to come down our chimney and give him presents (as if he could fit, so unrealistic). I told Aiden the story of St. Nicholas, although he lost interest half-way through and most of it went way over his head (kids today, ain't got no respect). I told him we now share stories about Santa in memory of St. Nicholas. 
"No!" he cried with his most serious tone. "Santa IS coming to bring me presents!" 
I told him that mommy and daddy bring him presents (why should the old geezer who sneaks in our homes and eats all our cookies get the credit?). He tuned me out despite my efforts. Apparently Santa is no fun unless he is real (he's fake! He's a fraud!). And apparently presents aren't good enough unless they are from Santa (geezer). 

So here we sit on Christmas eve. Aiden offering me wet pieces of candy cane from his sticky hands. Santa is coming (fraud). He is bringing presents down the chimney (sneaky bastard).  And by gosh there will be snow (I'd be ok with that)! 

Merry Christmas

I've had a love/hate relationship with Christmas since becoming an "adult" (I'm not sure why I still insist on using quotations with that word). I get really fed up with the materialism. Stressed out by the hype. And worn down by expectations. It's really, really, difficult for me to celebrate "the reason for the season" (and boy do I hate that line). Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas trees. And the lights! I love gift-giving. I LOVE eggnog, and almost all seasonal foods (except fruit cake- eghk!). I even like Christmas music. And mostly I love family. It's just all the rest of that crap is so much louder, so much more in your face, screaming at you like a freckled-faced, attention-starved child with anger issues, "LOOK AT ME! ME! ME! ME!"

One fateful year in college, I decided to take a road trip with some friends for Christmas instead of going home. I got a lot of flack and empty threats out of desperate anger from my parents, and shrugs with "you rebellious teen you" looks from siblings. But I didn't care. It had been a really rough semester for me and my friends. We needed to break free of our out-grown christmas sweaters and childish gifts, cut-loose from all things complicated (*cough* family *cough*). I was convinced that this would be the year I would finally understand the true meaning of Christmas. We were going to see places. Meet people. And best of all, we were going to serve at a soup kitchen on Christmas day. Details not important. This was going to happen. No gifts for us (we were selfless like that). Just service and the true Christmas spirit.

Well, we saw places. We met people. It was really exciting and fun and we have some really great memories. We didn't, however, serve at a soup kitchen. Turns out "that place" we heard of? Moved. Or something. It wasn't there, and we didn't have a plan B. Christmas came, we watched TV, sat around. It was actually pretty depressing. There were no parents around to force us to sing carols, or cook us food (we did eat some delicious bagels though, those things were good). In the end, I think we all just wanted to go home. Money was running out (well, technically mine ran out like the second day of the trip... but my friends were nice) so we packed the car and headed south again. I think we were all pretty happy when our families celebrated mini-christmases once we got home. I know I was.

I guess the main problem was that even though we stripped ourselves of the materialism of Christmas, we failed to make up for it. I didn't magically focus on "the true blahblahblah..." just because there were no presents or fancy food or annoying carolers.

I have completely lost wherever I was even going with this... I have been up since 3:30 this morning and I think it's hitting me now. I have just been so stressed. About a lot of things. Things that threaten to steal my Christmas from me. But then I can't stop thinking about my brothers and sisters in China, many of whom are celebrating Christmas in prison. Because they chose to celebrate Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas. That sounds so much more cliche than I would ever want it to. There are no words to describe what I feel for them. Reverence. Respect. Awe. Love. Those don't come close. I don't even feel I am worthy to call them my brothers and sisters. I want to learn from them.

Each year I try my best to balance it out. I haven't even gotten close to mastering it yet. We are a young family, we're still figuring out our own traditions. But I am convinced one day I will master it. One day Christmas will be everything it was meant to be, and I won't stress about what to get who, and where and when to spend what with who, and cookies will be baked, and ornaments and gifts will be made in good time (because in that world I am Martha Stewart). This will happen. And it will be good.

Or maybe it won't. And that will be ok. Because Christ was born. He came and made himself lowly, like me. His family didn't have it together. They didn't even have a sanitary place for their new born (who just so happened to be GOD incarnate). And that was just the beginning.

May the meaning of the birth of God's son resonate in your singing, feasting, and gifting. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Trust: The Never-Ending Lesson

As some of you may know, Haiti has become very dear to my heart. This did not begin with the earthquake (although I did not take much notice to Haiti before then), after the initial shock and a donation or two to "do my part", I returned Haiti's existence safely to the back of my mind. It wasn't until a few months after discovering the world of blogging last year (yes I am freakishly behind, I even came up with this idea a couple years ago and thought it was original! A little embarrassing...) when I found a few blogs written by families who lived in Haiti (before, during, and after the earthquake) that I began to see Haiti for what it is. Not just a far off land filled with disaster that we shake our heads and sigh about, not a country that "had it coming" because of it's lack of faith and idol worship (if that's how God works, we better watch our backs), but a country full of people in need of Christ's love, just like the rest of us.

A couple months ago a friend at church stood up and announced that he would be returning to Haiti and hoped others would join him on a trip to Mole St. Nicholas to build a fishing boat for the village and share the good news of Christ (the fisher of men!). Now Aaron and I have always been a tad bit skeptical of short term mission trips-- they usually either go really awesome or really awful. But even before Ryan finished his announcement, Aaron was whispering to me, "I want to do this..."

Fast forward two months: Aaron's busiest time of year, a lot of miscommunication, me offering to raise support (and then getting really depressed and not doing much of anything). And that brings us to last week. Thanks to some loving people, we made the November deadline with barely enough to buy Aaron's tickets. As weeks passed and no more money (or even much of a response at all) came, we were starting to get a little discouraged, with ourselves, and the lack of funding. Maybe it just isn't meant to be... I started to tell myself. We started talking about what would happen if we didn't have the rest of the money since Aaron's tickets have already been paid for. That same night we sat and prayed some simple, yet earnest prayers. God, provide... We decided not to worry ourselves and trust that He was capable.

Except, I don't know how not to worry. And I hate asking for money. Even for a "good cause", it feels so weird. I remember traveling the country as a kid, my dad preaching and then the churches taking up offerings for my parent's ministry and our family's livelihood. I felt so weird. So embarrassed. I also don't always know how I feel about spending thousands of dollars on short-term mission trips. Why not just raise that money and send it to the people in need? I've often argued. (In some cases, I would say that would definitely be a better idea). The other part of me trusts that God places short-term missions on people's hearts for very particular reasons. That He has placed this on Aaron's heart for a reason. I am beyond thrilled that he wants to go, and I believe whole-heartedly that God has plans both for the people who are going and the people they are going to serve.

I have heard it argued that when American groups go to poverty-stricken countries to serve, they are doing it for themselves, to make themselves thankful for what they have. That it just makes the locals feel bad that they don't have as much as the "missionaries", that they feel like charities, and there is bitterness. I am sure this happens. I am pretty sure I have witnessed this. But I think it greatly depends on the hearts of those going. If I learned anything while living overseas, people are not fooled by big whitened smiles and plump giving hands. No matter who you may convince in your own home town, the second you step outside, you become a clear plastic box. Your intentions are as bright and obvious as a sunlit sky. God's love in you will be over-flowingly evident, or lacking completely. There's not much room for in-between. He is there, or He is not. And they will see it. I have heard it said about people (even those who go bearing no good-willed gifts but the abiding love of God within them), "You came all this way... for me?" Because nothing speaks God's love like a heart over flowing with God's love.

The day after we prayed together, I got an email. Then a txt. Two people saying they wanted to give! God provides! I don't know yet how much closer we are to reaching the amount needed, but I do know: God provides. Each day I doubt myself. Others. Crumble inward. Reach up, only to realize I am still fallen. And God speaks. Even when I won't listen. Trust in Me, is never in vain.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Late night thoughts

Things have been a lot better the last two weeks. I still don't feel completely myself. I have moments of panic. Moments of despair. But mostly I feel like life is returning to normal ("normal" being, there really is no normal). Mostly I feel, I just need a break. Something substantial. A time to recover and regain all I've lost. Because it still feels like some of me is lost.

I miss feeling like God is close. We are on speaking terms. I'd say I love Him. I can't really look Him in the eyes though because I don't feel worthy. I can't get out of the rut where I believe He's disgusted with me, and that I have to re-win his favor. I sigh a lot.

We make daily outings, but the world feels heavy. I smile a lot more and my laughter is mostly genuine. Getting out of bed is a whole lot easier. But I am hesitant to leave my house. It takes a lot to get me to actually step over that threshold and enter the world out there. Even when "out there" is just my yard.

I get into heated conversations about things that don't really involve me because I can't help but be anxious and agitated with the way things are. I'm starting to want things again, but fear that holds me back is still there. The world feels large and scary, and I feel small and helpless. God feels distant. What I feel, although consuming, feels irrelevant.

What I need is rehabilitation of the soul.

When God gives you love, give it abundantly, but don't let it go.

Six years ago last Friday, I finally said yes to a very patient and determined young man who had been faithfully asking me out for 3 weeks. It seemed like the biggest deal in the world at the time. In retrospect, I guess it kind of was. After all, here we are 6 years later, married with two kids.

Now, I'm not the kind of girl who incessantly praises her husband. I don't post how wonderful my hubby is on facebook every time he surprises me with something special, or takes me on a date. I don't brag to my friends about how lucky I got. I probably don't even tell him often enough how much he means to me. It's not because I don't think it. I think about how awesome he is all the time. Honestly I think I just take life a little too seriously. I stress too much. I let "life" get in the way. This is one thing I absolutely love about Aaron. He reminds me how to enjoy life, even when stresses are high and spirits are low.

I love that he can turn a trip to the store into a family outing, or on the occasion that it's just us, a date. I love that he loves to take me out, whether it be for something special, or for no reason at all. I love that he still opens doors for me. That he never forgets my favorite things. I love that despite my insecurities, I always feel beautiful with him. To this day, nothing in me doubts that even when I was 9 months pregnant (and had gained 60 lbs!), he still thought me the most beautiful girl in the world. I love that he can work 15 hour days in the mid-summer heat to provide for our family and not even sigh a complaint (I complain plenty for the both of us). I love that he still explains processes to me (like rebuilding engines) like an equal, even though it goes way over my head. I love that he's a "guy's guy" but will still hold me in comfort when all I need to do is cry (even if it's just because I watched a sappy chick-flick or finished a beautiful book).

I'm not out to convince any one that my husband is perfect, or that our relationship resembles anything close to perfect. Frankly, I think that facade is a waste of everyone's time and leads to many disappointed young couples who actually buy it. (I don't think airing your dirty laundry is healthy either, but balance is always a good idea.) We have issues just like the rest of you (married, single, in between, issues are issues). The thing is, I love being with Aaron. Even in the moments that he drives me absolutely crazy, my love for him is still real, and I know I want to grow with him. The things I struggled with when I was single: loneliness, insecurity, spirituality, the unknown of the future... Marriage doesn't make any of that go away. But I am thankful for my best friend. Someone to learn with and from. Someone to meet anew over and over again. To fight with. To continue to fall in love with on deeper levels. Talk to. Dream with. Make fun of. Laugh with.

Thank God He knew what He was doing when he sat Aaron next to me in chapel. When he caused our paths to continue to cross. When he gave Aaron the courage to pursue me. And gave me the sense to say yes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Dog Days

I experienced an unintentional experiment these last two weeks. Last week I slacked off completely on chores. I spent any free time ("free time" = five minutes here, five minutes there...) reading, facebook stalking, or just sitting on my butt staring into space. This week I literally had no "free" time. I was feeling good so I decided to take advantage of that fact and try to actually keep my house in order. Between my kids not sleeping, out of town guests, and my sudden obsessive compulsive cleaning spree, my bum barely hit a seat before I was jumping up to get something for someone, pick something up, let the dog out, put baby to bed, change a load of laundry, sweep, change a diaper, vacuum, let the dog in, feed the dog, feed the kids (not an after thought, I promise), clean something else up, change a diaper, put baby to bed, play a game, change a diaper, put something away, sweep again, change another friggin' diaper... I could go on but I'll spare you. I was on a mission to get and keep my house clean each and every day because I function much better in a clean and orderly house and I thought it might keep me happy. So what was the difference between the week I did next to nothing, and the week I tried my hardest to do everything? NOTHING. Except I was a lot more tired by the end of the day, and a lot more annoyed with my kids (in particular the one who never stops talking). Each night I would still look around my house, every flat surface covered in items that didn't belong, kitchen a mess, floor in need of another sweeping. Seriously, despite my efforts I noticed no difference in the appearance of my house from the days I did nothing! I started feeling like a crazy person.

Conclusion: clean only when necessary. Necessary may not be as often as one might think.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

God is good. All the time.

The last few days are the first in awhile that I could see a substantial light at the end of the tunnel. I have felt like myself (whoever that is, I lose track sometimes). I have felt happiness, some passion, some motivation returning, without the impending heaviness of what tomorrow may bring. There is no guarantee that the worst is over, but I like feeling like it is.

Today I saw my life in perspective. Not as me, the terrible mother, wife, and person in general. But as a separate person altogether. I cut myself some slack (as I am constantly having to remind myself to do). I allowed myself to see my life as it is: complicated and messy. And me as I am: an imperfect, struggling human being who doesn't have it together, but also doesn't need to (even if I feel like I do).

On days that I am able I make an extra effort to feel good and "normal". I not only get dressed, but also shower, do my hair, make up, and even paint my nails (bright red, which I have found I love, even if it chips and looks like crap within a day). Some days I even brave my six month old's grab-and-yank habit and wear earrings. I let myself believe I'm beautiful and try to live it. I don't care what anyone says, looking good does help (even if just temporarily). I make play dates and do some desperately needed cleaning. I even get on facebook and like the hell out of things or comment on random statuses that have nothing to do with me (for the sake of being normal, of course). On occasion I even find it in me to write or have good conversation in which I extract meaning from the hard times (which on bad days I look back on and think, "How petty and small minded! It is obvious life has no meaning and there is no hope...")

Moments I can give my sons genuine smiles, I smother them with them. I tell them they are loved, hold them tight, praise them, shower them with kisses. I do all that I can to make up for the days full of tears, screaming, or distant numbness. I use what energy I can muster to express my love so loudly that it's not forgotten on the dark days. They are young still and don't hold grudges yet. I am thankful for that.

The thing I hate most about depression is seeing the way it effects the ones I love. The hurt look in my husbands eyes when I say something I don't mean. Or say nothing because I don't know what anything means. The shocked and confused look on my son's face when I lose all self control and hurl myself on my bed in tears. The adoring eyes of my baby, who doesn't know any better than to think I am the world.

God is good. Even when I can't feel it. So when I can I must proclaim it. GOD IS GOOD! Not because life always feels good. But because even when it is not, He is there. Even when I can't acknowledge His presence, much less praise Him, He is there. I always feel like God is just sitting there waiting to bring me down, put me in my place, show me how little and insignificant I am. But really, I don't think God's love is conditional. I also believe it has no limits. And if that is the case, no amount (or lack of) greatness or significance should have any effect on his love for me. This is good news for me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Here's to hoping the dark days away...

It's been a dark few months. Particularly this last one. Every year it starts around August, peaks in November, and slowly works its way through winter and then out of my system come spring. I get a lot of flack for my intense hatred for winter--I live in the South after all! I have to admit something: it's not just the cold that gets to me. I started noticing it around age 19. Each year I ran out of excuses for why I felt the way I felt and blamed it all on one little word: crazy. I was crazy. It's just easier to say that.

I haven't done much research on seasonal depression. Its more denial than laziness. Most years the colors of fall distract me enough to get by, until those last leaves fall and I slump into my coat of darkness for the winter. This year I didn't even catch but a glimpse of them. Did you know you can still smile when you're depressed? It doesn't mean as much. It takes more will power. But you can do it and no one knows the difference. You can still talk and walk around like a normal person. Because you don't go out when you can't.

It's hard to write about, because it's hard to explain. It's hard to understand. You get to thinking, Everyone goes through this... why can't I handle it? I have no good reason to feel this way. Why am I so weak? And at times you can grasp to the fact that you are weak, but God is strong. But there are times when God seems obsolete. You no longer turn to him because he doesn't even seem like an option.

It has felt worse this year. Maybe it's because there was a three year old watching my every move, sensing my every mood. Maybe it's because I now have two children that require so much, leaving little time available to turn inward, be alone, to try to recoup. I hid myself in books and movies, every moment of quiet filled in hopes on not hearing the darkness creeping in. TURN TO GOD! I demanded. But I didn't know how. I don't know how. I say prayers, but they feel empty. I think to myself and hope my thoughts reach his ears. Don't let me get lost... I can't turn to you... be patient... don't forget me while I'm here.

Those days feel forever. Days when your little boy asks if you're going to cry again today. When his eyes examine you when you enter the room, wondering if you'll be his mommy today, or that other lady who can't laugh or play because all her energy is working to simply hold it together.

It's not that you want to die. I could not even think of heaven or hell. But to not exist? That was appealing. Just make it go away. You think almost always.

Eventually the darkness starts to break. It's not that it's over, but more that you being to realize it will be over.

On good days I thank God that he is strong enough to handle this. Loving enough to love when I can't. Patient enough not to give up on me when I give up on him. Those days that were so few and far between are coming closer and more often again. Hopefully soon I'll be writing light hearted posts and wondering why it all felt so overwhelming.

Monday, November 14, 2011

When you get what you asked for... and then some.

I have been a little quiet here recently. It's hard to write publicly when you feel so vulnerable.

You know those times when you think, Wow. This is what it feels like to be humbled. And you think, Thank you for humbling me, God. Please don't do it again. But then you continue your never ending plea, Change me!

And He does.

Humility is good. Change is good. You know these things and yet it doesn't change the fact that being humbled hurts. Changing sucks.

In order to be humbled you must see yourself for who you are. I don't know about you, but for me that isn't usually a very pleasant experience. In order to change, all you know--the "comfortable", the "reliable"--all seems to be ripped away. Replaced by something foreign. Something you can't always grasp right away. It hurts.

Know that if you ask God to change you. To humble you. He will.

When you say, I can't do this on my own! I won't change if it's up to me! You do it!

He will.

And it won't be pretty.

I am in pain. Every ounce of me hurts. I feel torn. It feels unnatural. There should be medication for this kind of torture. I am anxious. Angry. Often times depressed. Occasionally on the brink of hopelessness.

And then I see it. A glimpse of what is being taught. What is being changed. Lies that are being ripped away. Truth that is replacing it.

I constantly question God. I doubt and pray for trust. I used to feel guilty for this. Parts of me still do. But those are some of the lies that are being stripped away. Is God not strong enough to handle my doubt? Not strong enough to teach me to trust? As though Him teaching me is second rate compared to me learning it on my own (as if that's an option or even makes sense!). That is what the enemy would have us believe. That it is up to us. That it is our job to learn to trust. Our job to trust and never doubt.

I cry out to God, Why is this so hard?? There must be an easier way! But what I am really saying is, I feel weak this way. I don't want to feel weak. Incapable. Helpless. I don't want to feel what I am.

And He says, Trust me.

And I say, But it's so hard to let go! I can't be a good person this way! I can't be a good mother! A good wife! Friend, sister, daughter... I am no good this way!

And He reminds me, I am good.

He reminds me that He didn't call me to be a "good person". A "good mother". A "good wife". Or anything else. He called me to follow Him. The decision that at the time I thought was the easiest I ever made.

Don't you say your burden is easy, your yoke is light? I question. So why is this so flippin' hard??

And then I realize what's so hard. Not so much what He's asking of me. But letting go of what I ask of me. What the world asks of me. I always ask God to change me. Change me against my will! Because I know my will is not really to be changed. But I never realized how ridiculously tight I've been holding onto the world. To lies. My sweet and even in-the-name-of-God lies.

In all He speaks to me, the words that resound each time I want to give up, are: Trust me.

And I realize that that is exactly what He is teaching me to do.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Crazy Stupid Anger

"It's all about hiding the crazy and pretending your the most confident girl in the room..." - Carla (Scrubs)

This has kind of been my mantra the last few weeks. Yes, from Scrubs. Don't judge. I've been a little wacky lately ("lately" haha... so funny), and it's taken a lot of effort to keep myself composed, or even just not-completely-crazy. I have failed miserably this last week.

I have struggled with anger for what feels like my whole life. Some of my first memories are of me screaming into pillows (or at my siblings...), punching walls, pulling my hair, basically being really, really angry. I threw toddler-like tantrums up until I was about 9 or 10 years old (and even a few others up to this day). It wasn't that I didn't know how to healthily express my anger, I understood the difference between the healthy and unhealthy ways to express myself. It was that I had so much anger, it was just too much to control. As I got older I found ways to handle it a little better. I danced. I wrote. I ran. I still screamed into my pillow. I still found myself getting really angry about a lot of things. My anger would consume me. I begged God to change me. Why?! I would curse and scream. I have always blamed Satan for my anger. I have blamed God for allowing Satan to control me with anger. Blamed him for allowing my anger. I can't change myself! Why do you let me be this way? Just force me to change! Make me someone else! Every time I thought I had over come my anger, it would spring back up and remind me how little I had really changed. I often worry I am going to completely mess my kids up. How can I raise normal, functional adults, when I am so crazy?? I know God can overcome and even use my weaknesses, but c'mon, this crazy girl has gotta be a little tough even for Him...

Nothing makes me more angry than injustice. Greed. Thoughtless consumerism and all the havoc it wreaks on our world. Power-hunger. Manipulation. Both in large and small forms. The thing that really gets to me: how guilty I am of these things. How easy it is to forget, or to push aside reality and live happily in denial. I get really angry. It consumes me. It effects every part of my life. I can't not talk about it. And if you know me, you know I can get pretty "passionate" in "discussing" these things (aka, me talking really loud, a lot, about a lot of stuff--I'm kind of a verbal processor). I have been told that I shouldn't read the news--basically because it affects me. I have been told I shouldn't feel as strongly as I do, that I need to distance myself from the pain and injustice of the world so I don't get so upset. So angry.

For the most part I agree. I don't like being angry. I don't like thinking about the hungry, dying, and desperate while I am trying to enjoy my comfy, lower-middle class, American life. I can't change it, so why let it consume me. Right? I have always ended those thoughts with a question mark. Should I not feel what I feel as passionately as I feel about these things?

This morning while rocking my sweet and innocent baby to sleep, I watched his eyes drift close, and wished each baby could rest as easily as he does. As I rocked and sang, I felt God speak. You know those moments when something just sits itself into your chest and you know God is there? It's not huge, moving, thunder, and shaking. It's quiet. Almost unnoticeable if you aren't quiet. I actually had a really good morning. I wasn't thinking about anger. I was just appreciating the quiet when I felt this odd realization. Maybe God gave me my anger. Not that I always use it correctly, but maybe He has been teaching me how to use it. Maybe He will use it. I wouldn't call my anger righteous. But perhaps my unrest, anger, passion, and discontentment are not all for nothing? After all, if I were simply happy and content with my lot, would I ever seek anything else? Would I long for Christ's return as strongly as I do? Would I want change so badly that I'd get off my butt and actually do something? Would I pray as earnestly as I have during these times? Cry out to God until my eyes and heart feel they had no more to pour?

I hugged and kissed my sweet, sleeping baby and put him in his bed with confidence. Maybe your mama is all crazy. God knows what He's doing. You'll be ok.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Moving and all that entails.

FINALLY both my children are sleeping... I am exhausted, but also hate to go to bed before my hubby gets home. Also, he has no keys.

Aaron is at our old place getting some of the last stuff together to make the rest of the move easier tomorrow (considering he has to do it in between work). Not to mention when loading the truck with the "essentials", we forgot to add our clothes to the lot. It's quite incredible how many things can slip your mind when you have so many things to do, and so little time and ability to do them. I need more arms. Or multiple me's so I can be in more places at once. Although I am not convinced we would have survived multiple me-break-downs, and there have been many me-break-downs the last few days.

I got a few things wrong in my last blog post.
1) Moving is never something to be excited about. Even if it's good in the long run. Don't waste your energy being excited about it. It's all about conserving every ounce of energy in order to come out the other side alive, sanity intact. (Although that last part is a little iffy regardless.)
2) I actually had ONE week to pack both houses. Not two.
3) Aaron was not available to help me pack. At all. I guess we had to keep the family tradition going and make sure I packed the whole house again. Keeps me sharp. Yes, apparently leaf season decided to drag my husband away just in time for this whole moving ordeal. He has done all the loading and moving though. I have not had to lift even a pillow. But due to his schedule, the move is taking three days, instead of the highly hoped for (and quite unrealistic) one.

This has by far been the worst move. Ever. And that is coming from someone who has moved so many times in her life she hasn't bothered to even count. Turns out, moving two houses in one week, with two kids (while watching an extra), and an overworked husband, are all terrible combinations. Who would of guessed?

It was beyond stressful, and to top it off, Aiden was having a really hard time adjusting. Can we blame him? He had lived in that house for over 2 of his 3 years of life. I knew he would have a little difficulty adjusting. What really tipped me off was the fact that anytime I packed something, if I left the room it would "magically" unpack itself. I left Aiden's room for last because of how much it was bothering him. I wanted him to feel secure in at least one room in the house. One of the last nights I was packing up all our paintings and instinctively grabbed the ones his Nana had painted for him that hung over his bed. Well, he didn't appreciate that and before I even realized he had left his bed, he had unpacked his paintings and hung them right back exactly as they had been. It was both cute and heart breaking.

Tonight is our second night at the new house, and much, much better than the first. Yesterday was chaos. Stressful. Filled with many messy melt downs--the kids even had a few. I felt like a monster. Then to top it off, Gabriel refused to fall asleep (for only the second time in his life), and Aiden threw a fit, demanding to return to our "real" house. Here I had been looking forward to this since what feels like forever, and our family was falling apart. All of us, adult and child alike, each throwing our own tantrum. Yelling, crying, being anything but happy. We tried to take a drive and cool down, but that only made things worse. When Gabriel finally fell asleep around 10, and Aiden remained awake and upset, I lay with him in his bed, just as frustrated and confused. I told him I was sorry I had been yelling so much. Moving is hard. Did it make him sad? He said yes. It made me a little sad too. But we had been focusing on the sad and hard parts of moving all day, let's think about what we love about this new house. We named a few. We loved that we could walk to the park tomorrow. We loved our yard. We loved how close our rooms were, we loved that Gabriel and Aiden would be roommates (as soon as we moved the crib...),  and that a lot of our friends lived close by too. We named everything we loved and ended up quite happy, snuggled up on his little twin bed, giggling and wondering what we had been so upset about. I woke up around 2 and made my way back to my bed. Gabriel woke up about every hour after that. But today was a better day. Tomorrow should be too.

Friday, October 21, 2011


For those of you who haven't heard, we are officially moving! And once again, I should be packing. But then both my boys are sleeping soundly at the SAME TIME, and I think, pack? I have two weeks, that's plenty of time! For me, two weeks would normally be plenty of time. I am used to this rushed, got to get it done, mentality. I can not start things ahead of time because once I start something I do not want to stop until it is finished. An unfinished task for me is a task that will never be finished, and I really hate the feeling of an unfinished anything (even though it happens a lot in my life). However, I really should be getting on it because I actually have two houses to pack. Reason being, the lady we will be renting from has been renting furnished, and we do not want it furnished, and she lives in Florida, so we have to pack up her house too. I said I was up for the challenge, now I just need to prove it. Here's where my life time experience of packing ought to come in handy. I should hope so anyway.

I am really excited about this new house, and many of you have asked for details. I would love to put up pictures, but I want to put up "before" and "after" pictures so you just have to wait on those and for now be satisfied with my written description. From the amount of excitement on my end you might think we're moving into a spacious, modern home, with a hot tub and lake front views... Not quite, but close enough for me. The house is pretty itty-bitty in terms of houses (750 sqft). It's an older ranch style home with red brick and pink stucco. Oh yes, did I mention our landlord is from Florida? 

The kitchen is the size of the average American's walk-in closet, the living room is the size of the average American bedroom, and the bedrooms, as you might have guessed, are much smaller. But with hard wood floors, a fire place, and an awesome screened in back porch, this place is so cozy and it has more than enough cuteness potential. The boys will be sharing a room right across from ours--which I love. The lay out in our current home is our room is on the complete opposite side of the house from the boys' rooms, and that's always made me kind of uneasy. Even though we're moving down in number of rooms, I kind of like that too. I want my boys to share a bedroom. Sharing a bedroom with my siblings growing up taught me a lot about sharing (sharing everything), and I want them to grow up learning that too. That and we're renting the house at a ridiculously good price...

The yard is awesome. She has an extra lot, so though the house is small, the yard is really big for this neighborhood. Although it will still be smaller than our current yard, it's flat, and there is no dangerous equipment around! Did I mention this will be the first time in over 3 years (of our only almost 4 year marriage) that we will live separate from Aaron's work? I'm pretty excited to see what that's like. And did I mention we'll be only 1/4 of a mile from a lake/park? That might be my favorite part. We could even walk to several friends' homes, the library, coffee shop, and another park from this house. I love walking. :) 

Ah I'm so excited! I will probably wait to write more till after I am done with the move and can post pictures. We'll see...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ready, Set, Go!

It's a Wednesday morning, but it feels more like a Saturday. There is a heavy, non-stop drizzle outside. It would be gray and depressing if not for all the colors still present on the trees. The kids who I have been watching are home because their mom is on vacation this week (wonderful surprise for me!). Aaron is down at the shop (aka easily accessible if I should need him), Gabriel is down for his morning nap, and Aiden is sitting next to me contentedly (um, yeah, probably because Sesame street is on). What a wonderful opportunity to get some much needed packing done!

Yes, you read that right, PACKING! I have never been so excited to pack! Notice all the exclamation points already? Yeah, I'm excited! It's kind of a leap of faith, starting the packing process already, because there is one little detail that still needs to happen. Finding a place. Ok, not that big. We basically have a place to move into, it just needs to be set in stone, which will hopefully happen today or tomorrow. The thing is, after cleaning out my entire closet, washing every piece of clothing we own (because of mouse droppings), scrubbing and cleaning EVERYTHING with a surface in my entire house, and then finding a huge mouse nest in my STOVE (fire hazard + trailer = disaster, not to mention really gross to have mice where you've been cooking, there was so much mouse poop and pee under there I'm surprised we're all still alive), I decided it was time to take action. Pack. Be ready. Because the second we're given a green flag, we're out of here! Also we're expecting snow on Thursday. Weird right? Snow in October... I am not looking forward to this winter, and don't want to be in this house when it comes.

My landlord is bringing an exterminator in on Thursday, we can afford to get slightly better heating this winter, and this house is in much better condition now than it was when we first moved in. So should we really move now? YES. No hesitation here. No doubt here. I have been praying for this for a year now (or whining about it anyway). I am ready to have some distance from Aaron's work. Have a yard I can let my kids play in unsupervised (or supervised, but not hovered over). A place in town where we can walk to the park. I am ready.

Now I have packed when leaving home for the first time, moving from one country to another. I have packed for college and for leaving college. I have packed as a couple. As a pregnant woman. As a mother of one child. I've have packed whole houses on my own multiple times (tends to happen when your husband works ungodly hours). Yet it feels like a completely different experience with two kids. Plus we've been in this house longer than any other (in my entire life actually). BUT lucky for me this is happening right between the busyness of summer and leaf season, so Aaron will be able to help me this time--which is so nice it feels like a miracle. Honestly, I'm so excited to be moving, I'd pack it all and even load it on the truck myself while taking care of the kids if I had to. I'm so ready for this!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Nights

Remember those friday nights you'd look forward to each week? Get all gussied up, meet up with friends for a night on the town? Now perhaps it's more like looking forward to sweatpants and any meal you don't have to cook? Or how about those awesome relaxed friday nights when you and your sweetie would just cozy up on the couch for a movie? Now its more of a "bad habit" you're trying to break? Can you relate? Or is it just me?

Maybe you're single and you can still go out on friday nights without the need of a babysitter (which these days is more expensive than the actual date). Maybe you are newly married and those nights on the sofa are still new and exciting enough that you don't feel bad for spending them in from the the TV. Or maybe you're married with kids and somehow you still manage the energy to get out and live up your friday nights.

Don't get me wrong. We still go out when we can, and we would a whole lot more often if we still had unlimited free babysitting (one major upside to having people live with you). I still love movie nights on the couch with my man (they just happen a lot more often now and with a lot more interruptions from little boys who should be sleeping). And I still like staying up late on friday nights because of the beautiful prospect of sleeping in the next day. Ha! Sleeping in... sometimes I'm so funny!

The best friday nights though, are the ones you spend facebook stalking people you don't really know anymore, blogging about nothing, and listening to the soft hum of your husband's snore next to you. Go ahead. Be jealous.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When Dreams Wake You.

Last night I had a dream:

I was living in an international neighborhood. There were a bunch of town home style houses, and we had just moved into one of them. Although all the houses were connected at their sides, our house was much larger and nicer than any one else's. Large glass windows, a huge library stocked with books, so much space I wondered how I would fill it. People were flocking to our home, staring through our large windows. In their faces I saw many different things. In some I saw awe, others curiosity, others resentment, and others a confused mixture of the three. I held my children close. I wanted to be polite, but I was a little scared of some of them. I wanted them to go away, to let me finish unpacking and setting up my house. Why can't they just leave and come back when I'm ready? I thought to myself.

As I walked down the street to get our car, I felt really out of place. Out side of my home I did not feel very welcome or at all comfortable, especially while an old lady who sat on the curb stared me down. We got in the car and headed some place (I can't recall where we were going). As we were driving I saw a body in the road ahead of us. I screamed for Aaron to stop the car. It looked like a boy, perhaps from Africa, had been hit by a car and left to die. I was scared. My first thought was, We didn't do that did we? And relief when I realized we didn't. Then we sat there awhile. We talked about how awful it was. The boy lifted his head revealing a mutated face, then laid back down. Was he going to get up? Get out of the way? These questions were asked, pondered. Suddenly panic hit me. Why weren't we doing anything? "Call 911!" I screamed at Aaron and whoever else was in the car. I suddenly realized I was waiting for Aaron to get out of the car and do something, and once I realized he had no intention of doing so, I was mad. I was also scared. I didn't want to see the boy's injured body up close, it was terrifying enough from a distance. So I started screaming at everyone, enraged that no one was doing anything for this poor boy. I can't remember anything after that.

It didn't hit me until I woke up from the dream that I didn't think to do anything about it myself. In the dream I had justified not calling 911 because I couldn't find my phone, but I don't remember even looking for it. I justified not getting out of the car because I was scared and I felt the other people in the car were more qualified. I was outraged by how little they seemed to care. Yet I did nothing myself.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Jordan is my fourth oldest brother. Number 4 out of 8 (we like numbers in large families). As a young child I was often tormented by Jordan. If I was the brunt of a joke or being teased, Jordan was the one who would laugh the hardest and try to keep the joke going as long as possible. He liked to make things up and share them as facts. He was so convincing that to this day I feel like I am still finding things out that were never true. As kids we looked alike. He knew I hated that fact because I thought it meant I looked like a boy. He would often say things like, "Wow Faith, we look so much alike. When I look at you I feel like I am looking in a mirror!" See what I am saying? Tormented.

Jordan has always been really cool. Handsome. Popular. Just plain cool. He was (and still is) the kind of guy you couldn't help but admire. Easy going. Hard working. Funny. You'd have to try to not like him. It's true, he is my older brother, I have always looked up to him, but everybody likes Jordan. He has a quality you can't fake or copy. Besides all that, Jordan had the gift of always looking cool. He knew how to take a style that was popular, and make it his own. Therefore always looking cool, and yet always standing apart. He tried to advise me in my wardrobe. I didn't realize at the time that wearing his hand-me-down pants and stretched out tees was just not cool and therefore didn't realize that he was simply trying to help me. All I have to do is look at old pictures to see he had all the best intentions.

A little over a year ago I got a phone call that Jordan was in the hospital. No one knew what was wrong, but they knew it was serious. Each day I anxiously waited for the daily call I would get from one of my brothers or my parents giving me the little information they had on what was going on. I remember I was sitting in Chemistry lecture one evening when my phone started to ring. It was my dad. I rushed into the hall, my stomach in my throat. I didn't know what he was going to say, but I knew it wasn't good. "They think it's Aplastic Anemia," he said.

You know those movies where when the character gets bad news and everything stops? Everything else fades, the camera zooms in, the person slumps to the floor, the music gets louder, everything is focused on the confusion and fear that the person is feeling in that moment. That's pretty much exactly what it was like. Except in real life instead of dramatic music, there is nothing but the ringing in your ears and the sound of your own breath. I thought this disease was supposed to be rare! There must be a mistake! No, yeah... he said "think", they don't know for sure... I had to think that. Just months earlier a friend had died from the very same disease. It couldn't be the same.

As the days passed and they confirmed that it was in fact Aplastic Anemia, my sister and I had to keep the fear that a friend had died from the same disease our brother was just diagnosed with to ourselves. We didn't want to alarm anyone. We had to be hopeful too. Not saying it out loud, made it a little less real. We put our focus on prayer and getting our blood tested to see who was a match for the inevitable bone marrow transplant. I actually can't remember how long this process took. It felt like months. Out of seven siblings, my oldest brother was announced as Jordan's match. Hearing that news felt like taking a deep breath before a plunge. There was a long way to go, but there was hope.

It wasn't long after that Aiden and I were stepping on a plane headed for California. My younger sister Jenteal was already out there helping Jordan and his wife Corie with their one year old daughter Gabbie. When I got there they asked me if I would like to go see Jordan. I did, but I was scared. This was early in my pregnancy with Gabriel, so I stalled with the need of food. I wanted to see him, but I didn't know if I could handle seeing him. I wanted to be strong, to encourage him. I was afraid I would break down and cry instead.  I looked at Corie and Jenteal. They had already been there dealing with all this face-to-face for a month. How were they so strong still? I wanted their strength to rub off on me. So I stalled. I forced myself to eat some food. I prayed. Then I went to see Jordan.

I didn't know what to expect. I was given hand sanitizer and a face mask and ushered into his small hospital room. My usually tall, strong, tan, charismatic brother was laying on the bed. He was pale from weeks of being indoors, thin from not being able to eat, weak from little sleep, never ending tests, and pain. I didn't know what to say, whether to hug him like I wanted to do, or stay back for the sake of germs (he was extremely susceptible, hence the face masks). Before this moment I hadn't seen my brother in 3 years. Yet as he saw me, he smiled, and I couldn't help but do the same. His body was frail and weak, but I could see God's strength still present in his eyes, and this above anything else gave me hope. I left feeling encouraged.

I only got to see him one more time in the ten days that I was there, but still I felt closer to him than I had since he left for college. It's weird how the threat of losing someone does that to you. The thing that stuck out the most to me during that time was how strong every one was. A time when they had most reason to be weak, to break down, to give up, they were strong. It was supernatural. Because Jordan has lived on the other side of the country, I had only really talked to Corie once or twice before this time. In those ten days I spent with her, I could see every reason he fell so madly in love with her. She was so patient, strong, and willing to give of herself even when she felt she had nothing else to give.

I don't think any of us could breath normally until Jordan was officially in remission. I don't think any of us officially relaxed until he had been home and recovering for 3 months. I don't think I thought it was possible for things to ever go back to normal after that time. Yet if you looked at Jordan now, you never would know all that he had gone through this whole last year if he didn't tell you. Of course, things have changed. Both subtly and obviously. Things internally and externally. None of us will ever really be the same.

When I think about Jordan, I think thankful. Thankful for Jordan. Thankful for family. Thankful for God. God is good. Faithful. Strong. I will forever praise Him for saving my brother's life.

I love you Jordan!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Halloween and Fair Trade Options

So what are we left with for Halloween now that we know most of the chocolate we know and love is fueled by child slave labor? I know it stinks. I hate this more than anyone I am sure. I kind of lived for cheap, easy chocolate. The kind that sits there in the check out aisle and calls to me sweetly... Lord it's hard to say no! That is, until I picture a child with a machete, far from home, lonely, and hungry. Or a village of people too poor to afford electricity, water, or enough food for their families. I don't know if you watched the documentary but actually the image that comes to my mind the most is when they give one of the boys and his friend each a kitkat bar and the look on their faces as they ate it. They had such a sweet and innocent delight in it. It made me feel guilty to witness such a vulnerable moment of strange irony. I can't really explain it.

Anyway, other options. Here are a few:
By the way, Nestle came out with a "fair trade" kitkat bar. Although apparently only 1% of their chocolate is fair trade, and I've read that they cut down on prices of the non fair trade farmers to make up for it. Not sure of the whole of it, but it's sketchy enough for me to not trust it.

Let me know what you find!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Waking up is so much harder than it seems.

I've been thinking a lot lately about all the stuff I own. All the stuff I want to own. Basically if it is anything cheap (or often even expensive) and trendy, it's probably made by a company who makes money by taking advantage of and contributing to the oppression of the poor. Meaning, I am doing that too. I've read articles that were written yesterday, I've read articles that were written years ago. This information has been here. How is it that I have not cared enough to know until now? No. How is it that I have not cared enough to know more and act?

The more I research, the more overwhelmed I get. The more I just want to stay inside, not buy anything, and hope it all disappears and none of the blame falls on me. I know many of you feel the same. So we play the guilt game, and once the shame wears off, we move on and continue living as we always have. I know this because I've heard these conversations for years, and yet I don't see any change. If people like you and me don't do anything to change this, it's not going to happen. There are only so many brilliant humanitarians on this earth, and only so much they can do. It's easy to look at the wealthy and the famous and think, do something with your money! Instead of giving hand outs,why not create a better system? But really, couldn't we demand the same of ourselves? Shouldn't we?

This is where I get overwhelmed. I am not a pioneer. I don't want to be. Pioneers have to work really hard with little to no pay back. They have to use their minds and hearts consistently and continually. They are often considered foolish and their work is often labeled as a lost cause. Worst yet, they are ordinary people, so none of it comes easy! I'd rather be told what to do. Float along doing what I am told, and feel good about it. As strong-willed as I'd like to see myself, I don't really want to have to use my mind that much. Perhaps feel like I am, or when I want to. But not have to. I sound a little dense, don't I? Well, I am. This is what has gotten our world into this mess in the first place. Purposeful denial. Laziness. Greed. The love of ourselves before all others. We all suffer from it. It's called sin.

God is bigger. That's what we sing right? I'd like to live that. Instead of letting limitations create the way I live, I want to live the way it really is. GOD is BIGGER! We are overwhelmed. He is not. I believe He loves it when we stand up and say, use me! You are bigger! Reveal Your strength in my weakness! You created me, lead me! I want my life to honor you! What does it mean to honor God? Think about it and then look at your life and see if things match up. I know in mine they most often don't. I want that to change.

Now of course, I am not a complete crazy person. I know that we can't change everything in an instant. The truth is, we can't change a single thing. Do you ever find yourself wishing for Christ's return, just so you don't have to worry about all this crap. Because you know when He returns, everything will change and it won't be up to you? But the same is true for right here and now. God is the one doing the work. Making things happen. When we are willing to admit that, I think we'll find our limitations diminish.

So let's take baby steps. I for one have been on this cycle for a long time and I know I am going to struggle greatly to allow or even want God to use me (even though I claim I do all the time, it's simply not true when I actually look at myself).

Prayer. This should be the starting point for all things. I do not pray as much as I used to, or with as much faith or fervor as I'd like to. Most of the time I don't feel like praying. Honestly, the only way I see changing that is just... praying. Let's pray before we research. During. After. Pray for open eyes. For protection against the enemy. For guidane. Then see where God leads us from there.

Please don't be limited to what I share here. Make this your journey.

Watch this.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Take a Stand.

Be warned. If you do not already know the following information, be prepared to have your world rocked and forever changed (it better be anyway).

Just yesterday I found out that most large chocolate-selling corporations are buying their cocoa beans from farmers that use child labor.

What, you mean that chocolate bar I just bought the other day was probably made from cocoa beans harvested by a 10 year old, machete-carrying child from Ghana who was kidnapped from his family to work for nothing? You mean I've been supporting that my whole life?

It makes you a little sick doesn't it?

And yet, why should this surprise us? I mean, I buy fair trade coffee for the same and similar reasons, to treat people fairly and give them an equal chance at living life. Why would it be different for chocolate? Or the clothes we wear? Those fancy shoes that sit in our closets? Those toys our children play with?

Have I overwhelmed you yet?

I really don't want to, even as I sit here overwhelmed myself, I don't want to drag you down and make you heavy with the miseries of the world. But we need to know this, don't we? We need to change this, don't we?

This is a big deal, and fighting it will not be easy. Research, sacrifice (a piddly sacrifice in the grand scheme of things), and spreading the word are absolutely necessary. As much as my sweet tooth tells me otherwise, chocolate is not a necessity. If I am not willing to buy fair trade, I don't deserve the luxury of eating it at all. What if that were my child? Stolen in the night, sold by a relative, now working long hours with dangerous equipment, no school, no family, no hope. It breaks my heart and makes me want to punch some faces. But that wouldn't solve anything. Boycotting might. Educating might. Standing up, speaking out, and acting might. Can we do this? Can you do this? The answer is yes. So be willing.

Please read the following blog post on this topic and watch the documentary. You will not regret it in the long run, even if it's hard to face at first.


For starters, how about we only hand out fair trade chocolate for Halloween? Spread the word people. Don't hesitate to do what's right.

Learn more about Fair Trade and what brands sell ethical chocolate here:


and here:


I will end with a quote from one of my favorite bloggers:

I hope and pray that my desire to worship Him is more than lip-service. I hope and pray that we are never too overwhelmed, or worse yet, too indifferent to act.  I hope we all find a way to actively and consistently  "Do justice - love mercy - walk humbly with you God". 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thankful For Two

Four kids 4 and under. How do people do it? In my opinion it should not even be possible. I've always wanted four kids. I've always wanted them to be close in age. But then I had one kid. And then another. Now I pray that God will bless me only with as many kids as I am capable of having while still maintaining my sanity (the little I have left). It can still be four... let's just space it out, ok?

This week I took on watching two more kids. A 4 year old girl and a 2 year old boy, four days a week from 8-5. It's almost sad how fast I realized I was in over my head and had made a horrible mistake. By day two I had to let their parents know that I could not watch both of them. Thankfully for me they were already debating on whether they wanted to put their daughter in school instead. I guess I kind of made that decision a little easier on them. Oops.

So how did it go? Well lets see. A needy 4 month old (so needy those little babies!), a whiny (too often overlooked) 2 year old, a rebellious 3 year old (sometimes I feel like after this year I will be completely prepped for teen years), and a very talkative 4 year old (who although has no issues with talking, hasn't quite gotten the hang of listening). And then me. A not very creative, patience-lacking, attempted over-achiever, who just can't seem to say no. The word "disaster" pretty much sums it up. Honestly, the only thing that kept me going today was knowing tomorrow is my day off. Only two kids! It's gonna feel like vacation.

And this is only after 3 days. Seriously, what would I do if they were all mine? I'm guessing it would be easier in the sense that they would in fact be mine. They would know my rules, I could discipline, and I wouldn't be going straight from two kids to four. BUT, they wouldn't leave at the end of the day. They would be with me all the time. There would be no getting around owning a minivan (and driving it too). I would constantly be torn. The ones who acted out would get the most attention, leaving me with four kids who constantly acted out!

Aaron was gone all day until 8 p.m. After watching 4 kids today, while sick and feeling awful, I then managed dinner, bath time, and bed time by myself (this can be hard when they both go to bed around the same time and one likes to nurse and the other likes his back rubbed and then one starts crying and the other starts playing). And though I painstakingly made sure Aiden did not sleep more than 15 minutes today so that he would be ready to sleep at bed time tonight (the kid is near impossible to keep awake and even harder to wake up once he falls asleep--in the day that is), he was still awake at 9p.m. (even though put him to bed at 7:45). I think he fell asleep sometime around 9:30. On his bedroom floor. What I am saying is, a night that normally would have been considered hellish for me, was instead considered not so bad. With out a 4 year old talking to me non-stop, and a 2 year old saying "Whyyyyy?" every few minutes, it really wasn't bad at all. Perspective people. This is what I've needed.

I love my kids. Thank you God for two. Please don't bless me with anymore anytime too soon!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Living. Loving.

I decided long ago that I did not want any biological daughters because I was afraid they would be just like me. I was kind of a terror-child. My siblings used to joke that I was demon-possessed. Sometimes I think they really believed I was. Sometimes I believed I was. Anyway, my plan had some holes. Apparently my genes can pass on to my boys as well. I guess I should have seen that coming. I knew there would be pay back one day.

It's been a really tough few weeks with Aiden. Feels like months. A lot of meltdowns, tantrums, and not a lot of sleep. Between that and fighting with my own crap and doubts and the cold, I'm officially worn out. However, for those of you who've asked, Aiden had a much better time at soccer this last weekend. And though it's true, he was the only kid who threw a fit and refused to join the team picture, after several efforts to keep his fingers out of his nose, he did get a couple really cute individual pictures. He even kicked the ball a few times. And hey it turns out when he actually kicks the ball, instead of tackling it or running in the opposite direction, he's got pretty good aim.

The older Aiden gets, the more he reminds me of me in so many ways. Of course he has mostly his own unique characteristics and personality, but I see me in there. Sometimes this is cool. It's edifying. I think, How cool that maybe I wasn't an all bad kid, because this kid is awesome and he reminds me of me. Other times it's kind of scary and I wonder what I got myself into.

Sometimes when it's been a really long day, and he's yelling no at me instead of obeying and all I want to do is yell back, I instead slump down in surrender and open my arms. So far, this never fails. He always comes running. He has yet to say no to being held in my arms. And never when I say "I love you" does he not immediately respond with "I love you, mommy." This makes the long days a little shorter. It makes the times when I think that if quitting were an option I might consider it, vanish instantly.

The funny thing is, even 6 months ago, I could not have imagined ever thinking some of the things I now think a lot more often than I'd like to admit. I couldn't imagine saying, "He's driving me crazy! Get me out of here!" Or saying no when he asked for me at bed time.

It's kind of like marriage. The first couple of years, even when things are bad, you know beyond a doubt that you are blessed to have that person in your life, and that thought surpasses all others. You have no idea that things can get so much worse before they get better. Then one day you wake up and you see your spouse for who they really are. Someone imperfect and sometimes down right infuriating. You can admit their faults without guilt. You can do all that and still fall in to their arms and know you want to be with them forever. That their faults are not deal breakers. Because though they see yours too, their arms are still open wide for you. That's how I know I can keep going no matter how hard this may get.

By the way, I know I have a flair for the dramatic, but if you could have seen my last few weeks, you would understand completely! I don't think it's so much Aiden's behavior as much as how different he is than he has ever been. It's hard to get used to, and I can't help but hope it's only temporary.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Good bye summer. Missing you already.

I feel bad admitting it, but I've hardly even noticed the leaves beginning to change. I don't know what it is about cold weather, but no matter how beautiful the day, it tends to make me feel kind of anxious and down. I don't know if it's because of the struggles we've had the last few winters, the sun setting so early, that it's harder to go out and about with little ones in the cold, or that I just don't like winter, but it never fails that at the first signs of cold, I get a little depressed.

One thing that has kept me slightly optimistic is that we are hopefully moving soon. There are a few things that need to fall into place, but I am trusting they will. Luckily, thanks to borax (and perhaps the cold as well) the ants are nearly gone. The mice on the other hand have multiplied since the temperatures dropped. Despite the fact that we have filled the holes (again) and placed mouse traps every night (have caught 4 so far), they don't seem all that intimidated. Yesterday I found a nest in my winter clothes that I was taking out of storage (luckily no mice present when I found it), another place behind the hamper where they seemed to be collecting dog food, and mouse droppings on our clothes that were hanging in our closet! I have no idea how they got up there, but I am now in the process of washing everything I own. I immediately called my landlord and expressed my serious concern. I think I can officially call this a health hazard (as if the fact that they were already on every other surface was not enough to count!). She told me all terminix would do is set out traps since we have a dog and children, so she brought me mouse repellant, moth balls, and these mint packs that are supposed to irritate mouse noses and keep them away and told me to keep setting traps. Still found fresh droppings today, but she says it will take time. I guess there is not much else to do to keep mice out of a house that is so easily nibbled through.

If you could join me in prayer that moving works out sooner than later, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Growing up as child number 6 out of 8 in a poor missionary family, not a day went by that I was not reminded that I was blessed, that I had much to be grateful for, that most people in the world did not have the provisions I had. I knew it was true, a lot of those people lived right around me. I am thankful for this in that I did not grow up feeling entitled. I didn't gripe and complain that my parents didn't buy me a car or pay my cell phone bill. I learned to work for what I wanted. But for some reason that thankfulness I was supposed to feel, just felt like guilt. Why did I have so much that others did not? And if I had more than so many, why did I want more? To this day I can not even buy a pair of socks or my weekly groceries without feeling guilty. Now I am not blaming my parents for this. Not all my siblings feel this way, but for some reason my mind has interpreted the want of anything into being something bad. Even blessings.

I know it isn't of God, and yet I can't seem to control my natural tendency to feel guilty. When I was young I thought that because I so badly did not want to be a missionary, God would certainly call me. Then I got older and wanted to serve God as an international missionary so badly, I thought surely he would call me to stay in America. I don't want to live in this house, so He will probably make me stay here. I don't want a big family, so He will probably give me 10 kids. I want to be a nurse, so He will probably call me to be something else. You see how messed up all that sounds? And yet no matter how many times I remind myself, that is NOT God! I can't help but believe it is.

Today I was listening to a sermon about the nature of God. The pastor said that God loves to bless His children, even though we don't deserve it. That it is literally God's nature to take pleasure in blessing His children. Why can't I believe that?? Why can I not trust that He placed the desires of my heart? That just because I may want something does not mean it will never be or that it is wrong? I beg God to change this in me. To teach me to accept His goodness. Yet so many times I am answered by this tiny voice that says I will never change.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Trouble with Sleep

No it's not my baby. It's my three year old. He has been having trouble sleeping. I have been thinking that like most frustrating things, it's just a stage. He plays, talks, has to go "pee", is "thirsty", "hungry". But it goes on and on and has only gotten worse over the last couple of weeks. Even if I ignore the the requests he can some how stay up until 11 p.m. (or later) and still get up around 7 a.m. and sometimes even gets up in the night. So I cut naps short. I cut naps out all together. I tried giving him a short nap and putting him to bed later. I tried putting him to bed earlier without a nap. Nothing was working. Nothing is working.

The fact that I don't really get to relax at night is not what has bothered me the most. It's the melt downs, tantrums, the screaming, and all the terror that has taken over my normally sweet son. I know part of it is just being three. Pushing boundaries, testing limits, practicing defiance. But it has become so extreme lately and no amount of discipline seems to have any effect on his behavior. I am getting worried that I might lose it if we don't get a break from it soon. I know he is tired. I just don't know how to fix it.

So today I implemented the nap again. I'm keeping them to an hour and half and then I am going to put him to bed earlier than we usually do. I'm worried he's been staying up because he's overly tired and maybe 8:30 is when his second wind kicks in. I don't know, but I have to believe that something will work because the little bit of sanity I have left simply won't cut it for long.

If anyone has been through this before and has advice, let me know.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Weekend

This weekend I got to visit one of my best friends from college. She is currently living in a refugee community in Charlotte where she and her husband minister to the families there. I have been trying to visit her since January and it just hasn't worked out until this last weekend. We've seen each other but I haven't been able to make it to her neighborhood. Even this weekend it didn't completely work out because they were house sitting and watching some friend's children who had just had a baby and were still at the hospital. But we at least got to stop by for awhile to pick up some kids to bring to church.

I LOVE this community. I remember the first time we visited them there, we pulled up and were immediately surrounded by children from all over the world. They immediately welcomed Aiden in their games, held our hands, and laughed as though we had known each other for years. I remember thinking, I could live here. Which is kind of a big deal considering I hate Charlotte (hate is a strong word, I know). Maybe it was because in that neighborhood it's hard to remember you are even in Charlotte.

We pulled into Birtchcroft, parked in front of their apartment, and made a loop around the neighborhood, stopping at people's doors to see if they would come to church. It was a Sunday morning, but already most people were out in front of their apartments, hanging out, talking, eating. Some of the kids could not come because they were going to a shoe drive that morning. Other's parents didn't approve. Four joined us (which was good because that was all we had room for that day). A little girl from Ethiopia named Sophia joined us in our car. Everywhere they walked she and Aiden held hands. She would touch his hair and face, smiling her big wonderful smile. Aiden loved the big sister attention. Even Gabriel loved having a friend in the back seat to smile at and talk to him. He sang his adorable baby songs and giggled the whole way. As we walked into church, Aaron by my side carrying Gabriel, Sophia and Aiden holding hands in front of us, I couldn't help but think, This feels right. 

The church was big. A lot bigger than what we are used to. It was also Baptist. We go to a Presbyterian church. I'm not much on denominations (I could really care less), but it was definitely a different experience. The first thing I noticed was the diversity; how many people were there from different countries, cultures, and different walks of life. The lobby was filled with TV screens displaying the service in the auditorium. When we went to sign the kids up for Sunday school we were met by a lady with an ipad who told us where they needed to go. I'll admit it, I was a little judgmental to begin with.

Aaron and I were both thirsty and tired so we went to the Church cafe to get some water and coffee. Once again I was skeptical at first, but it turned out they sell everything for a dollar and all the money goes toward building wells in Uganda. We were then told we could not enter the auditorium with drinks, so we sat in the cafe and watched the worship on the TV screens in there. "This is so weird." We kept saying to each other. A couple who appeared to be from Ethiopia sat near us. The woman was very pregnant and we had a conversation about babies while we finished our drinks. I'm learning that parenthood is very nearly a universal language.

The service itself was good. Not what we were used to (a lot of clapping, shouting, and amens), but I appreciated the enthusiasm. Despite the size of the church, most people seemed to know each other and there was a lot of fellowshipping after the sermon. Even the Pastor seemed to know most people. It seemed a very tight knit community for being so large. I was impressed and could see why my friends went there.

We were all sad to leave when it was time to drop Sophia off and say our good byes. The kids gathered by our car, touching Aiden and Gabriel, staring at us and smiling shyly. I reluctantly hugged my dear friend Heather good bye, wishing we lived closer. As we were about to drive away Sophia came to my window and said, "You come again and stay longer?"

I love the mountains. I like living in a small town. The community here is one we will probably never find anywhere else. But there is a big part of me that knows I would give it all up if God were to call us to a neighborhood like that. In fact, I can't help but hope he does.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Ask and it shall be given to you."

It is 4 a.m. and I can not sleep. My heart aches. It aches for the women and children around the world. For the women and children right here around me. For me and my children.

I have been thinking a lot about my hopes and dreams lately. I've been a little out of it. Lazy. Depressed. Neglectful. A little frustrated that things don't work out as quickly and smoothly as I would like. I let it effect my relationship with God. With my husband. My children. I get disappointed that I can't do all that I want to do. I get so caught up in it that I miss out on moments right here and now.

I'm done with that.

I know I will have my moments, but I have made a decision. God knows my heart, He knows my desires. Maybe its time for me to take a deeper look into His heart, His desires. Stop being so preoccupied with my own doubts and insecurities. Be willing to learn to let go and trust. I don't know how to be completely willing. There is always a part of me that wants to hold on to the controls. It's easier to try to carry everything in the world than to let go, don't you think?

Perhaps letting go is not a one time, final act. Perhaps letting go is simply asking God to loosen our grip every time we are tempted to hold on tight to anything other than Him.

Asking God.

It sounds so simple but I think I am only just learning to ask. I am always wondering--how do I do it? I think that's the wrong question. Maybe letting go is not something I am even capable of. Maybe it's simply asking God to do it for me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Me. Myself. And I.

Aiden is at school and Gabriel is down for his morning nap. I should be washing last nights dishes. Sweeping. Throwing in a load of laundry. Cleaning the crayon off my wall. But I can't stop thinking. Thinking about how much more I want to be doing, even while putting off the things I should be doing now. Sometimes I wish I could grab myself by the shoulders and shake myself, "Stop dreaming and live woman!" I mean I am living, but sometimes I think I live too much in thought life. Maybe because the future I dream about is more exciting than cleaning the house.

In case you hadn't noticed, I often struggle with being a stay at home mom. Why do I stick with it? I ask myself that question some times. It's not because it's my job. I could quit a job. For awhile I thought it was because of my up bringing. I was taught by anyone who was Christian that it is the mother's job to stay at home, raise her children, care for her husband, and then when of empty nest, then she can seek out other ways God may want her to serve. I think that logic is bull. Although my mom was a stay at home mom, she did a lot of other things. For awhile I even thought it was because of her I felt guilty for not wanting to stay at home because she believes so highly of it. However she did a lot of things outside the home. We were included in most of it though. I liked that. I would like that for my family.

In the end, I guess I choose to stay home because I want to raise my kids, not because I have to. Even though it's really hard. I am challenged in ways I don't like to be challenged. I have responsibility I don't always feel up for. Even though I know that I am not a perfect mother, or even close, I can't help but believe that no one could raise my kids as well as I do. I believe God placed our boys in our lives for a reason. Not because we are great, but because of all the beautiful things he teaches us through them and them through us.

It's not hard to be a stay at home mom because my kids are crazy or anything (although sometimes it's that). I mostly feel like I have it pretty easy. It's hard because this is a place where I don't get credit. I don't get praise. I don't get a paycheck. I have to teach the respect I do get. Nothing here is fair. I am asked of a lot more than I feel I have to give--a whole lot more than I get. I am forced to rely on God. For strength. For wisdom. Patience. Love. Honesty. Even rest. And trust that He is going to bring good things from my mothering. Not me. That's the hardest part, saying "It's not about me." And believing it.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I have recently been reading the blogs of two women who are a part of Heartline Ministries. I shared their links here a while back. Heartline Ministries is such an amazing ministry, helping women have and raise children who would otherwise die in child birth or have to give up their children. They explain it a lot better on their website.

You can also read about it here: http://allthingshendrick.blogspot.com/2011/09/calling-all-ags-help-us-give-life-to.html

Right now they are trying to get votes so they can receive a $50,000 grant to build a maternity center to help the women and families of Haiti even more. Please vote! It only takes a few seconds.

Vote here: http://givingoflife.com/browse/heartline_ministries/

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Today was Aiden's first day of soccer. Let me preface with I did not sign him up for this with any more intention than for him to have a good time. Maybe that's why it felt like such a fail.

Despite the fact that Aiden only took a 20 minute nap yesterday, he refused to fall asleep until 11:00 last night, then woke up around 6:30 this morning. By the time 10 rolled around he was already pretty exhausted, but it was time for soccer, so off we went!

Since we were about 10 minutes late everyone was already gathered on the indoor field as we rushed in. There were approximately 20-25 kids there, which meant about 50 parents/grandparents as well. It was pretty busy and more than a little chaotic. Aiden was not in the mood to follow instructions.

There were 4 stations where the kids could go to take turns practicing basic soccer skills. It was crazy, yes, but most everyone seemed to be having fun. Then there was Aiden. Kicking his ball in other people's space. Picking up the ball and running from Aaron (he liked the game chase a lot better than kicking the ball). Throwing himself on the ground when he couldn't get his way. Trying to balance on his stomach on the ball. Head butting the ball, Aaron, and the ground. It was kind of embarrassing because he looked like one of those kids you'd want to keep your kids away from at the park. He was that kid.

I had to swallow my pride and own up to being his mom when Aaron had his fill and I took over (when your kid refuses to listen and acts like a feral monkey, his behavior is not as embarrassing as the fact that you are the one who raised him). I pushed up my sleeves and mustered up all the enthusiasm I could gather. I brought him near the only kid he knew there and said things like, "Look at Ryann, see how she's kicking the ball? Doesn't that look fun? Let's try it!" And things like, "Let's pretend the ground is lava and the ball is on fire! You can't touch them with anything but your shoes or they will burn you!" in an effort to get him to actually kick the ball and stop rolling around on the ground. It worked for a total of 2 minutes.

On the drive home, I tried to convince Aaron that it wasn't a waste (I think he had even higher hopes for this than I did). He admitted that even though the last thing he wanted to do was push his own interests on Aiden, he was afraid he couldn't help it (Aaron played a lot of sports growing up, basically from the time he could walk, so its hard to imagine Aiden not doing the same). So I tried my best. It was Aiden's first time doing anything close to an organized sport, I explained. He's only 3 (just turned 3 at that). There were a lot of kids there, it was chaotic. He hardly slept last night, he was just really tired. All the things a good mother says in defense of her child.

Anyway, I think I got through to him because everyone was in a better mood by the time we got home. Aiden even seemed excited when I mentioned soccer next week. We'll see.