Monday, March 29, 2010

Duct Tape, Anyone?

We are on Spring Break this week. The kids and I journeyed all day Friday up the interstate to spend a week with the grandparents in Alabama. I love coming here. My cell phone gets practically no reception. I spend very little time on the computer. The television isn't even on for background noise. My son has cousins to play with and my daughter has grandparents, aunts & uncles to snuggle with.

I went shoe shopping with my sister-in-law yesterday (without ANY children) and we found the most adorable pair of taupe colored snakeskin pumps you've ever seen. And they were on the clearance rack, and they were $10.00. We each bought a pair. We might have also high-fived and cheered in the middle of the shoe store.

Yes, this is a great way to spend a Spring Break.

But just in case I forgot for a moment that life has come a LONG way for the spring breaks of yore... my almost-five-year-old boy believes it's his duty to remind me that parenthood NEVER takes a vacation.

We've made due with time outs in back rooms and bathrooms, in restaurants and relatives homes. We've discussed the rudeness of burping, and we've sworn off sodas for the rest of our trip.

He's informed my in-laws (who do such a good job of choosing to speak words of affirmation and encouragement around the kiddos) that the Skittles he bought in a vending machine are "So good I think I'm going to die..." (I thought I might, too).

He's whined about finishing his dinner because he was absolutely convinced his stomach might explode, then managed to find room to polish off 1 1/2 smores and 12 additional marshmallows.

He's refused to wear anything but a short-sleeved shirt in the chilly 50 degree weather.

He's managed to bring up the topic of "Bad Words We Aren't Allowed To Say" at the dinner table twice. I used the opportunity to patiently remind him that I haven't changed my mind about the word "booty" and that no matter how sweetly he says it, that yes indeed, "Shut Up" is still a bad thing to say.

My husband (who joined us for a few days of our trip) was able to stop him before he "christened" my in-laws front bushes. Apparently, indoor plumbing is a luxury wasted on him.

Then again... indoor plumbing IS one of his favorite topics of conversation. Apparently, any joke is funnier when the punchline includes the word "Bathroom".

His lastest line has been, "Dude! Are you kidding me?" Don't worry, it comes off just as disrespectful in person as it does in writing.

But even as I shake my head in disbelief and pray for strength, I hear him saying please and thank you to his grandma. I see him trying new foods just because his cousin is. I watch him stop all his fun to give his baby sister a little love. And I gladly obliged as he asks me to carry him into the bedroom and tuck him into his bed.

I quietly type a recap of our day as my children sleep peacefully in the big bed I'll be crawling into in just a moment. I'll listen to their baby snores and wiggles... sounds I don't hear when they're sleeping across the house in their own beds at home.

And I'll fall asleep tonight thanking God for a wonderful break.... and praying for strength and a big old roll of duct tape.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Uncooked Side of the Pancake

This metaphor resonated with me. Bear with me while I explain.

I'm doing Beth Moore's Esther study right now (wonderful!) and in our video this past week, she describes how sometimes we (women) can be like a half-cooked pancake. One side all pretty and golden, cooked to perfection. The other side just a goopy, sloppy uncooked mess.

We get really good at showing our "cooked" or pretty side in public. At social gatherings. At church. We are adept at showing the pretty side of our family as well. We dress everyone nicely, threaten our kids through clenched-jaw smiles to remember their manners, prompt (nag) our husbands to do more or be more or just SAY more...

And we go to great lengths to ensure that no one sees the goopy, sloppy uncooked mess.

I have to admit: I ENJOY presenting the pretty side of the pancake. We recently got some family pictures taken at our church for Miss M's upcoming baby dedication. The proofs arrived via email tonight. I pored over them. Clicked through the images a dozen times. Everyone smiling. All the outfits coordinating. Children sitting idyllically in our laps. I want to jump inside that picture and live there forever.

But if I'm ever going to relate to another human being on this earth... particularly another woman or mother, I need to be more willing to let people see the "un"pretty side of my life, too.

I have to admit: I DO NOT ENJOY presenting this side to anyone. It feels very out of control. It's humbling. It requires me to trust another person with my mess. Don't get me wrong, I'll tell you about my messes, but I'd rather do it after they've been neatly resolved.

So, on Wednesday afternoon, about an hour after I listened to Beth Moore describe the pancake predicament on a video, I pulled my dirty, cluttered SUV into our driveway and began unloading the junk of the day. Diaper bags and backpacks spilled out onto the pavement. Drew began riding his bike as Miss M slept soundly in her carseat. Instead of waking her, I opened all the doors to the car and the back hatch, threw my keys onto the back bumper, and began organizing the mess in our garage.

After several minutes, Miss M woke up crying. I rescued her from her carseat and made Drew follow us inside with the promise that we'd only stay inside for a moment. I had to go to the bathroom and change out of my "Bible study clothes" (see above paragraph about presenting the pretty side). And the baby, I surmised by smell, needed a clean diaper.

I was almost into a pair of sweatpants when my phone alerted me to a new text message. This is what I read:

"Your car door is open.
I am in your driveway.
I am stealing your car.
Just letting you know."

It was my dear friend, Jessica (Please tell me you're a fan of hers already. If not, click HERE).

Anyway... Jessica happened to be driving past my house when she noticed my car sitting there with all doors and windows wide open. My personal belongings were still strewn about the perimeter. I was, however, nowhere to be found. And like any good friend would do upon seeing my keys sitting in plain sight, she threatened Grand Theft Auto.

I stood in my closet as I read the words of her message, laughed out loud, threw on the nearest top, and ran out to the driveway. The sight was pitiful.

I'm sure she was probably already worried about my well-being, but I really sealed the deal when I blurted out, "Friend! You're looking at the ugly side of my pancake!!!"

And even as I type this, the lesson is still teaching me. If my house had been tidy with my car parked neatly in the garage with the door shut and my children sitting quietly on my lap inside while I read them fairytales, my friend probably wouldn't have pulled in to check on me.

And I would have missed out on what turned out to be a really fun, spontaneous afternoon playdate with her beautiful little girls and my very excited little boy.

You know, I just might start showing off this side more often.

But I'm still going to wear cute shoes.
Just keeping it real.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Girl Talk just isn't the same...

... when you have to compete for conversation time with a very active big brother.

It strikes me, after watching this video, that my money was no doubt wasted on a fancy exersaucer for the girl.

I should just prop her up on some pillows in front of the 24/7 show called "Drew".

Untitled from mom2drew on Vimeo.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I Envy the Octopus

Drop Drew off at preschool.
Head to office with baby.
Have a work question.
Email accountant.
Call bank.
Go to bank.
Sit in waiting area.
Feed baby a bottle.
Wait while customer service rep researches my question.
Send frantic text to friend - "I'm late for preschool pickup!"
Call school and leave message to put Drew on playground.
Get told "no" by bank.
Call school again and leave another message that I won't be late. Please get Drew off the playground.
Pick up Drew from preschool.
Head back to office.
Drew has to go potty.
Manuever stroller through tiny office bathroom.
Sit Drew in front of television.
Jiggle baby while logging back onto computer.
Feel something warm and slimy.
Grab diaper bag, blanket, new outfit.
Dial new customer service number.
Put line on speaker phone to wait the 15 minutes or more I've just been promised.
Sit down on floor of office with baby, diaper bag, and supplies.
Call accountant from cell phone.
Give baby head-to-toe bath with wipes, change clothes all the way down to socks, talk to accountant, listen for my turn on speaker phone and answer Drew's questions about show he's watching.
Hang up all phone lines.
Return calls left on machine.
Rock crying baby.
Realize baby has fallen asleep in arms while rocking.
Put baby down in quiet dark room.
Wait for return phone calls.
Realize that son's just told me he's watching a movie I probably shouldn't let him watch.
Guess preschool shows are over.
Let it go.
Get the information I need.
Pack up baby, Drew, stroller, diaper bag, trash and head downstairs.
Go back to bank.
Sit back down in waiting area.
Feed baby another bottle.
Find another bathroom for Drew.
Get another turn with customer service rep.
Get what I needed in the first place this morning.
Hear Hallelujah chorus.
Remember that I needed to go to Sam's Club.
Alerted by car that I need gas, too.
Alerted by son that I haven't fed him lunch yet.
Pick up necessities at Sam's Club.
Feed son hot dog combo lunch for $1.60.
Hear Hallelujah chorus again.
Fill up car with gas.
Ask son incredulously if he REALLY has to go potty again.
Find cup in the car.
Head home.
Unpack car.
Feed dog.
Feed baby again.
Feed boy again.
Find baseball practice clothes.
Find gloves, helmet, shoes, hat and pack into practice bag.
Comfort crying son who just remembered the mean thing another boy did to him at last week's practice.
Get boy and hubby off to practice.
Take first shower in two days.
Feed baby again.
Try to remember if I've eaten since breakfast.
Eat dinner.
Sit on couch.
Realize baby has fallen asleep in my arms.
Welcome boys home from practice.
Realize I haven't considered their dinner needs at all.
Throw together dinner for two hungry men.
Send them off to the showers.
Read bedtime stories to boy.
Pass baby off to hubby.
Check on two sleeping kids.
Check two email accounts.
Check blogs.

And stare incredulously at my to-do list.
After all that, only one item can be checked off.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

She's Roll.....(Pause)... ing now!

The crowd has gathered for what promises to be a great show tonight.
Everyone is ready. This is sure to be the night.

The star of the show is brought out to center ring to the applause and cheers of the onlookers.

Propped up on her belly, she wiggles and fusses for a few moments. And then...

She begins to roll.

The crowd goes wild! They are on their feet!

She's almost halfway through her stunt.

"You can do it, girl!"

Wait, what's this? An unexpected turn of events.

It appears that she's taken a break. Yes, halfway through the roll she has decided to just stop and take a break.

Propped up on her right side she is now resting comfortably with her head on the carpet. The amount of balance it must be taking right now to just stay frozen in that position is an amazing feat in and of itself!!

Enraptured, the audience holds their collective breath. This may not be her night after all. You can cut the tension with a knife, until...

Oh wait~yep, it looks like she's moving again!

Almost there, keep it coming!

YES! She's done it.
Ladies and gentlemen, she has rolled over!

And now she's closing her eyes.
Show's over folks. Drive safely.
Good night.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You'd have to see it to believe it...

In keeping with the theme, I will attempt to share the wonders of what I SAW today.

If you've been keeping track, it all started when I decided to pay attention to each of my senses individually. A bike ride through the neighborhood brought the smells of families cooking, trees blooming. It was rather nice.

The next day, I decided to concentrate on my sense of hearing. It was a little less pleasant than the previous exercise.

And today... I must admit that if I hadn't SEEN the following incident with my own two eyes, I certainly wouldn't have believed it.

My eyes blinked several times and opened slowly. I saw the brightly colored walls of my son's bedroom as I awoke. Oh yes, I HAD finally found a quiet place to sleep - alone - after getting up multiple times through the night with one of my two children and their various needs. Why my son's little bed was the only place of solace is beyond me, but that's beside the point.

I watched Drew bounce to life as my little morning man always does. I observed his carefully selected wardrobe for the day and even complimented the spiky "up-do" he chose for his hair.

I looked on as he leaned out the car window, chatting with his friend while we waiting in carline at preschool. I watched him gather his lunch box and backpack and hop out of the car excitedly when we pulled up to the front.

I saw him hug his teacher as she and I exchanged "Good Morning!"s and warm smiles. I even observed him walk toward the hallway leading to his classroom.

And then... I saw that lunchbox... packed lovingly only an hour before... come hurtling back through the open window right at my face.

The next thing I saw was my four year old's tight grasp on the bottom of the rolled-down passenger window. In astonishment, I watched that child come completely undone before my eyes.

If I had not been a little late already for my Wednesday morning Bible study, the other mothers in carline today would have seen one determined momma and one mess of a boy park the car and walk straight back to the classroom door. At which point they would have observed me plant that child in his classroom after a stern talkin'-to.

Instead, I watched my son try to recompose himself and buckle his seatbelt as we pulled out of line and headed toward the church down the street. Several glances back in the rear view mirror assured me that he was pulling himself together quite nicely.

Bible study went fine... I watched Drew out of the corner of my eye as he sat in the back of my small group eating the lunch I packed and playing games on the computer I brought.

And tonight, as I watch these words come together on the computer screen, I am still pretty much at a loss as to what in the world could have happened.

There's no indication that anything particular set him off or is still bothering him enough to threaten to cause any kind of drama tomorrow morning.

He has promised me as much.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Brilliant. Yesterday, I decided to stop and smell the roses along our bicycle route. And because it was such an enjoyable experience, I just assumed that I'd be as equally inspired by a day of "Listening" to the beautiful sounds around me.

Just Brilliant.

I kept Drew home from school today due to a skin rash. He was feeling fine and bored out of his mind. So, the soundtrack to my day was whining, begging, cajoling, pleading, and just plain talking.

One thing I learned from all that listening is that my preschooler is a professional talker. He never stops.

That is, until his little head hits the pillow at the same speed his body has been running all day.

And - just like that... the chattering soundtrack abruptly screeches to a halt and is replaced with the lullaby of heavy breathing. He is sound asleep and all is quiet.

Right now... my ears hear the quiet clicking of my fingers against the keyboard... and "24" has just gone to a commercial break in the other room.

Perhaps, if I end this post quickly, my hubby and I can sit on the couch and listen to the quietness of a house all tucked in for the night.

Now that sounds just perfect to me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

You Got to Stop and Smell the Roses along the way

This evening, as the sun began to set and the cool winds replaced the GORGEOUS warm breezes of the afternoon, Drew and I hopped on our bikes for a quick ride around the largest loop of our neighborhood streets, or what we affectionately call "The Big Block".

I don't know why it dawned on me to do this. But as we circled and pedaled the streets, I began to make a mental note of the fragrances I smelled along the way.

A barbecue grill. Either steaks or chicken, I couldn't be sure.
Then the distinct and heavy fragrance of a magnolia blossom.
I'm no gardener, but the next few scents were from various blooms and bushes.
As we made our way around the bend, I detected the unmistakable smell of dryer sheets.
Ah, and another family had just begun to fire up the grill - the smell of charcoal lingered in the air.
Not every smell was pleasant - I got a few whiffs of car exhaust and garbage.

But this sensory exercise really made me stop and think tonight about how much goes on around me. And how much I usually miss.

There were no roses along our route tonight, but the fragrance was just as sweet as if there had been.

I think I need to get my other senses in on the action. Perhaps tomorrow, I'll try listening on for size.

Wanna play? I'd love to know if you've had a chance to stop and smell the roses lately, too!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

And "4" is still my favorite number...

You're going to love this.

Not just because Drew (#2) happens to be the cutest t-ball player out there.

And not just because you get to see him hit the ball.

And not just because his daddy's the first base coach and their interaction is adorable.

No, you're going to love this because you get to see all that PLUS "#4".

Take me out to the t-ball game! from Jennifer Dunlap on Vimeo.

A combination of talent and personal style. You gotta love it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday, Monday. Can't Trust That Day.

Good morning! Good morning! Good morning! Time to get up, buddy.
We have a lot to do!

Mommy just realized that I am supposed to bring your classroom snacks for the whole week today!
I know, how silly of me to forget, you're right!
We have to stop by the store on the way to school and pick something up, ok?
Yes, you can wear shorts sleeves and short pants today.
Yes, you can stay for lunch bunch. In fact, that's an excellent idea.
Eat your breakfast.
The dog is eating your breakfast!!!
No, you can't have an ice cream sandwich instead.
I know I let you do that one time, but in hindsight, it wasn't such a great idea.

OK, in the car everyone.
Yep, you're right. She DID just make a dirty diaper. Wait in the car, buddy. I'll be right back!
Alright, little one... clean and...
Oh, you aren't done. OK.
What buddy?
Oh, your lunch box for lunch bunch! I'll get it.
Back to you, little lady. That does it. Clean diaper and we're off!

Yes, Drew, I think we will be a little late to school, but we need to pick up some snacks for your class.
Of course we can buy snacks that start with the letter "T". Great idea.
Why are we turning into the store? Don't you remember. Snacks. Your class. Yes, how silly of you to forget.
Stay close, please.
Oh, look... Teddy Grahams DO start with the letter "T".
Let's just grab the milk and pay for the....

Where's my check card?
Hold on, I know it's here somewhere.
Nevermind, I'm assuming you'll take cash? Great!
Ok, everyone back in the car.

Ssh.. I'm on the phone. Yes, I need the listing for Chili's restaurant.
Hello, I was at your restaurant for dinner last night and think I forgot my check card.
Yes, my name is Jennifer and it's a blue card.
What bank? Uhhhhhh..... Well, yes, you're right. I really should know that off the top of my head. I'm assuming you have it, though? Great. I'll be by later this afternoon with a photo ID to pick it up.

No, buddy. We're definitely not the first ones to school today. We're about 20 minutes late.
Well, we're first in line because all the other cars have gone home.

Oh, look! There's your teacher!
Hi, sorry we're late today. I just have the class snacks here in the car and just need to hand them off to you.

What's that?
Oh, you don't say.
So, it's Cole's mom's week to bring snacks, not mine?
No, no! That's fine!