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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Delightful Bits of Random

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When I was a teenager, if I had used either of the words “delightful” or “lovely” someone would have smacked me for being intolerably lame. As it was, I was barely tolerably lame, so I’m glad I didn’t find either of those words so useful as I do now, when they are so much back in popular usage. But today, I can use them with near impunity, and so I will.  Therefore today’s post is a delightful collection of random. Which I find to be lovely.

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Is it just my children that turn into little wrestling/poking/punching magnets of  intra-sibling torture in any type of grocery store, but particularly Costco? I mean seriously, people, I have all kinds of conflicting feelings and strong opinions about motherhood and parenting and discipline and the use of Nerf guns and how often you should allow repeat outfits on sequential school days, but in my heart I believe I am a good mother. I am, I am a good mother!

So WHY must there be wrestling/poking/punching even though I have quietly and firmly forbade all types of such behavior prior to entering the store, and I have clearly delineated the consequences that will result, and in fact do regularly enforce said consequences? WHY can’t they just keep their hands to themselves for 15 minutes for the love of all that is good and holy in this world? Is it me? Have I failed already? Is it too late?

Tangential sidenote: if you ever see me shopping alone in Costco, humming wildly to myself with a giddy look in my eye and a gleeful skip in my step, just let me have my moment. I’ll be fine.

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We are fostering six kittens for a local cat adoption organization. Their cuteness is off the charts, and watching live kitten TV is great fun. I’ve noticed that their reflexes are not too well-adjusted yet, and if any of their siblings walk, twitch or breathe in their line of sight, they seem to not notice who or what, they just need to pounce/attack/nip. Hmmmmm…..I’m sensing a corollary here……maybe I should be glad the boys do not wrestle/poke/punch the Costco Irish cheese snack lady, or the grumpy man in front of the frozen foods.

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Watched the finale of American Idol last night, and LOVED IT ALL. Well, almost all. I really, really don’t get Lady Gaga. She is vaguely disturbing. But if I can raise my boys to accept an award like Scotty McCreery accepted his title, I will be a proud, proud mama. And I can be a fan with a clean heart, because I’ve fully confessed to my husband that my fondness for Scotty was directly related to the fact that he bears a strong resemblance to a college boy on whom I had a serious crush, a boy who toyed with my affections before confessing he was dating the girl who led my Bible Study. Scoundrel.

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Well, thank you, that was just delightful. Lovely. G’night.

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I’ve Got Worms! I’ve Got Worms!

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Oh, wait. That doesn’t sound good. No, I’m fine, no parasitic infections here. Instead, imagine post subhead “Unexpected moments of grace.” (Won’t it be cool when I actually figure out how to do stuff like that? You know, fancy things like subheads?) I supposed another subhead could be “Don’t worry, I don’t need medicated for this.”

I actually could have shared this particular good news with you earlier, but I didn’t want you to think I was weird. Weirder. At least not before you knew me a bit better. But it IS good news, honest it is.

You see, I’m a vermiculturist. Or at least I wanted to be last year after my dad and I went to the Big Garden Show, otherwise known as “All the Pretty, Pretty Flowers, Buy Some More Pretty Flowers.” We met this CRAZY enthusiastic dude who composted with worms. Big red shiny earthworms, which would turn all of our table scraps into beautiful, beautiful dirt. Now, right here, I know you’re probably thinking “Worms, Tara, worms? You got excited about worms? Are you SURE you don’t need medicated?” But he was SUPER excited, and besides, do you know what I have in the ground in my yard?

Clay. Red, hard-packed, thick, sticky clay. Not conducive to growing much at all, except apparently slugs. And the worms were going to turn scraps and leaves and my junk mail into beautiful, nutritious black earth. It all seemed very eco-responsible and exciting and, you know, earthy. I admit it, I got caught up in the worm excitement!

So my dad and I bought big special plastic worm bins and special coconut shreds for worm bedding and Dad found himself a worm wrangler and one day showed up at my house with my pound of special red wrigglers. ‘Cause you can’t use just any earthworm, I guess they aren’t all equally well-behaved in captivity. The wild ones must long too strongly for the great outdoors, something like that.

All last summer, I fed my worms, first with great excitement, and then with less excitement, and then with a touch of duty. Classic me, really. Get all excited about something new, learn about it, jump in with both feet. And then come fall, I was feeding the little guys with a bit less consistency, and I couldn’t find a great place to put their bin. My hubby had been more than patient with having them in the entryway for 2-3 months, but I had to agree it didn’t really give the whole mid-century/Crate and Barrel/Pottery Barn/Whatever as Long as It Isn’t Worms Decor message we were going for.

The worms got moved to the back deck, school started, we got really busy, and in late November I realized I hadn’t fed them in a week or three. Then we had a really cold snap. A good hard freeze, and I thought, “well, Worm-Sicles for sure.  Guess I screwed that up.” The guilt was crippling. OK, the guilt was perfectly manageable. But I still beat myself up pretty good about the wasted money and how my dad would be disappointed (funny how you still think about that even though you’re a grown person), and how dumb I’d been not to be more consistent with them. So there they sat, all winter. Never touched them. Hadn’t fed them since.

But on (slightly guilt-laden) prompting from my dad a couple of weeks ago, I checked my vermiculture bins, and glory be, I still have a number of very happy worms, and a crop of baby worms!

I know, it’s just worms. But it’s moments like this when I get a little glimpse of the undeserved grace in my world, grace that has no right or reason to be, grace that permeates far more of my moments than I recognize. And for one moment, I am humbled sufficiently to see that grace, and it is good, really good, to have worms.

How about you? Any moments of undeserved grace lately, with or without worms?

Helpful tips for my children

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Dear Children:

Come on, gather ’round. My apologies for not offering you this helpful information before today. Add it to the list of things I did not realize I needed to specifically coach you through and teach you. (This list includes classic parenting omissions such as “Don’t shut your little brother’s head in the door,” and “if you eat all of the marshmallows from the Lucky Charms, mommy will not buy Lucky Charms anymore, because mommy knows that she should not buy them in the first place but they are really good and we eat a lot of vegetables and we all know that justification is inherently weak.”)

If you need to tell someone that your brother hit you on the head with a lacrosse stick, or that your brother kicked the game pieces you’d been playing with, or you are bored and no one will play with you, please utilize the following decision structure in deciding which parent should be notified:

Assumptions: one parent, to whom we will refer in a gender-neutral manner as parent A, is downstairs playing computer games and drinking too much diet Dr. Pepper; the other parent, again referred to gender neutrally as parent B, is in the shower.

Decision factors: First, determine if your critical parent-telling issues involve blood, exposed bone fragments or other ER-worthy injuries. And please be clear, I do not mean just a little blood, a scratch, or a perceived wound of injustice.

Second, are there flames?

If the answer to either question is yes, then by all means feel free to interrupt either parent with as much urgency and passion as you can muster.

If, however, the answer to both questions is no, then I would strongly recommend that you limit your interactions to parent A. Because parent B has only been in the shower for a few minutes, she will only be in the shower for a few more minutes, and all she wants for the loveofPeteistotakeadingdangSHOWER!!!!!!

I hope you find these suggestions helpful, because I love you and I wish you the best in life, and I would like you to survive to get to go to middle school.

Love, Mommy

Tired. It is my Kryptonite.

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Honestly, I have no idea if I’m supposed to capitalize kryptonite. It just looks more threatening as Kryptonite, doesn’t it? And if I go off Googling the proper spelling and capitalization procedures for superhero anti-superpower substances, I’ll just wind up watching episodes clips of Wonder Woman while wondering why she isn’t getting a movie this summer like Thor and Captain America.*

So Kryptonite it is, then. I have come to a mature understanding that sleep is air to me, it is a bedrock condition of optimal Tara-atic functioning that cannot be messed with. We’re talking 8 hours minimum, people, and 9 is not excessive. On a weekend, 10 hours is entirely expected. I will never be one of those noble, long-suffering “oh, I just need 4 or 5 hours” types.

Ah, the sleep, the beautiful, beautiful sleep. With it, I have boundless superpowers, and no, not all of them involve talking. I can also read the minds of little boys, find misplaced objects I’ve never actually seen, and create fabulous dinners for five from ketchup, tortillas and pickle juice. (OK, that’s just a lie right there, but it would be funny. And I think my kids might eat it.)

If I am well-rested, I am ridiculously productive. Oh, my powers are great on such a day, indeed, and the Perky I can wield, the Very Perky Perkiness is a thing of wonder. But woe is am me I done is on a day like today, when various factors have conspired to deprive me of my sleep and sap me of my powers of Perky and All Things Pleasant. (Various factors = American Idol AFTER Bible study + kids up too early + husband ignores alarm + neighbors work crew hammering far too early.)

Sleep-deprived, I am slow of speech, hesitant to even name to those mysterious small loud people in my house in case I am wrong, mad at all of everyone, and just ….dumb. I spent several hours today just absolutely baffled as to why I was so mad all day, really at a loss to explain my irritability. Until I remembered, oh, yeah, I’m really tired.

That’s when I need to avoid my bed at all costs, avoid even the bedroom. Cause I’m here to say, dear blog readers, it talks to me. It’s true. My Bed Talks to Me. I probably shouldn’t admit it, especially when we don’t know each other all that well yet, but it’s true. Even on a good day, I’ll just be strolling by, on my way to do laundry, or find earrings, or what have you, and it whispers… “Tara, Tara, look at me, aren’t I cozy? Aren’t I pretty? Don’t I look….soft?”

But on a day like today when I am staggering around, trying just to stay vertical, oh, it calls to me. That shameless bed will call to me, “Tara, come here, just lay down for a minute, just a minute, you can get back up any time you want.” It knows I’m weak, that my personal Kryptonite of exhaustion has pummeled me, weakened me, and at moments like that the bed seems to make sense. “Well, yes,” I think, “I bet I could make dinner lying down in bed. Let’s see, I wonder if we have any pickle juice?”

Think I’ve already over shared on the bed issue? Cause I got more to say. I am actually wondering where the line is for creating an idol. ‘Cause that bed, with the fluffy down comforter and the high-thread-count sheets and the feather pillows, the memory foam topper, oh my the Memory Foam, It Is So Great. And then came Christmas, and the heated mattress pad.

You want to know what makes you feel REALLY old? When your favorite Christmas gift is a heated mattress pad. I didn’t even know I wanted one, but that’s what my mom got my husband and I for Christmas this year, and it is a wonderful thing. So wonderful, I fear it may have taken my bed and I across some theological line, and all the while I think I’m trying to walk the life of a faithful modern Christian woman, my bed is whispering to me, pulling me in with sweet nothings about preheated glorious comfort and blissful sleep, oh blissful sleep. Is it my golden calf, am I an idol worshiper, or can I cleverly use its powers for good, recharge and strengthen myself for yet another day?

Me, I’m definitely going to try to get a good night’s sleep tonight. How about you? What’s your Kryptonite?

*I couldn’t resist the Googling. I found references to red Kryptonite, which had nearly opposite effect on Superman; and a terrifying article on how too much sleep may kill you. I’m definitely going to bed. Right after I watch American Idol.

Which Parts are My Mother’s Fault

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It’s true, you got me, I didn’t make big plans for Mother’s Day with my mom, and this post about my mom is in part intended to make up for that. Consider it a public Mother’s Day card, with fewer cheesy rhymes.

That isn’t the only reason for this post, however. I also thought that it would be good to make some early clarifications regarding my mom and the mothering I have received, since I predict that future posts may occasionally reference angst regarding My Own Role As A Mother.

Most of that angst stems from my own Overly Analytical Over Thinking of Things (I call this life approach OAOTTS. Catchy, I know. ) and not from anything that my mom ever did. Let it be clear that my mother is a loving, great mom. In fact, what often saves me from leaping off the Cliff of Over Thinking Everything into the Abyss of Parenting Despair is my own mother’s calm voice in my head, telling me to get over myself and get on with it. If my mom ever had the angsty self-doubt about her mothering that I have, she never showed it.

That does bring us, however, to the parts which may be my mom’s fault.

For instance, I never questioned as a child whether I could choose to work and still be a loving, involved, effective mom, because my mom did it with such grace.  She made it look easy.

I never questioned whether I would have a marriage in which both partners stayed together and invested in each other, in their kids, and in their faith, because my mom and dad just made that look like that was the way it was done.

I never questioned that I would have a career in which my skills and talents not only fulfilled me, but they also really mattered. I was raised in a community full of people who entrusted their first graders to my mom, and she in turn relished teaching them to read and add and subtract and sit in a circle and generally act like civilized little members of society. She made it seem obvious that I should expect to seek out a similarly rewarding career that also made the world a better place.

Making all of that look easy, that part is clearly her fault.

And there’s more. If you come to my house and my laundry is living in baskets in the hall and say, my baseboards are a wee bit, um, dusty, well, that’s her fault. Because she raised me to believe that as a mom I have permission for those  things to come second to road trips or spontaneous family adventures. Or, quite frankly, to putting my feet up on occasion and reading a book with no socially redeeming value. If I’m reading that book while propping my feet on a pile of more books, that’s also her fault. If I am someday officially diagnosed with an addiction to magazines, that’s also completely her doing.

And if you come by my house and you catch me chasing my boys with ice cubes, popping them down their shirts despite uncontrollable giggling protests, well, that sort of mothering is absolutely her fault.  I clearly remember the day a friend and I, probably in late elementary school at the time, were in my kitchen with my mom talking about doing gymnastics. My mom promptly dropped to the kitchen floor into the splits, shocking both of us beyond words. In her book, being deeply, randomly silly was a core part of the mom job description.

If my poor children are raised with the currently counter-cultural belief that they are not the center of my universe, well, that is also my mother’s fault. For example, if as a child I demanded attention on any given evening and the nightly news was on, my mother most certainly did NOT drop everything, turn off the news, and come sit on the floor and play educational games with me. Oh, no.

She told me in no uncertain terms to go find something to do in another room of the house, and let her watch the news for 30 minutes, for Pete’s sake. My brother and I were very clear on the fact that while we were deeply loved, and were very important parts of my parents’ lives, we were not the center of their lives. Thus, we were never entrusted with the entire burden of my parents’ happiness, or the success or failure of their existence, and we were free to make our own mistakes and our own way in the world.

If my boys are blessed with the stability and freedom of knowing they are an important part of my life but they are not my life, well, that’s her fault. If they know I am good at word games, but not good at regularly dusting for cobwebs, well, that will also be my mother’s fault. If I win at water balloons and lose at sock folding, if I teach them to do what they love and not what pays well, if they choose to seek out strong women who stand up for what is right instead of tolerating what is comfortable, well, I’ll know who to blame.

Those parts will all be my mother’s fault.

From the bottom of my heart, thanks a lot, Mom. And Happy Mother’s Day.

Guaranteed not perfect

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I believe a person should always deliver what they promise, and I promise that the title of this inaugural post not only reflects the contents of this post, but also the entire blog and indeed its author. So now you know. The pressure is off and we can get to know each other. Well, at least you can get to know me. I hope there IS a you, and that you will comment, and I’ll read it, maybe reply, and we’ll text, and maybe we’ll become friends, and then do lunch? Or you know, whatever, I’m still new at this.

Just to make sure no one gets lost and you’re in the right place, let me offer a few clarifications. This is not a travel blog (much as I wish it was), definitely not a crafting blog, or a political blog, certainly not a blog on My Achievements in Perfect Christian Parenting while Putting Up the Persimmons I Grew in the Yard. Oh, no.

While many blogs are quite topic-specific (Photography! Quilting! My Study of Rare Hats!), that would not be true to who I am, and I probably couldn’t pull it off if I wanted to. My interests are too broad and my attention span too short.

Anyhow, welcome! I hope you’re comfortable. I’m still fixing the place up, maybe some new colors, new fonts, I haven’t decided yet. But I’m really glad you’re here, and if you need anything just let me know. If you are the curious type, you may want to start with the About Me link. But you may like a bit more mystery in your blogging experience, in which case you may want to just stay right here.

Either way, I hope it’s fun. My goals are for this blog to be a forum for me to:

  1. Share my adventures and attempts in becoming the woman/parent/wife/critically thinking citizen/modern-post-modern Christian I think I’m supposed to be, while occasionally getting a good laugh out of it. ‘Cause if we can’t laugh about it, really, what is the point?
  2. Share observations and deeply held opinions on random current events, elements of popular culture,  new movies, television shows and favorite snack foods.
  3. Occasionally indulge in bad grammar, poor use of apostrophe’s and overly long sentence structure. Cause life is short, too short, and I love me some overly long sentences.
  4. Highlight cool organizations  and interesting people who I think make the world a better place.
  5. I hate lists that are even-numbered, unless there are 10 things in the list, and what kind of overly ambitious and arrogant new blogger would I be if I had 10 goals? Five is good.

Remember when you had final exams, and you’d been studying and studying, and you were so worked up about it and exhausted that the night before you’d thought it seemed like a great idea to get your pajamas on and study in bed, and then you woke up that morning and you just wanted it to all be over, for the love of Pete, just let it all be over?

Until just now, I’d kinda made myself feel that way about starting this blog. But this was fun! Thanks for stopping by, see you soon, I hope…..

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