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My Four-Year Old

My daughter thought 6:12 a.m. was a fine time to wake up.  I thought not, so I rocked her for two minutes and put her back to bed.  I think she woke up because she was cold.  She was cold because she refused a blanket last night because she is four years old and very silly.

She also plays in the backyard without a jacket, even when it’s less than fifty degrees.  How a child with absolute no body fat can stand the chill is a mystery I have yet to solve, but perhaps it has to do with her constant motion.  She is a child who cannot be still.

My other children were so easy to distract with the magic hynoptist, the television set.  She has no favorite show, though she does watch Spongebob every night before falling asleep.  I can’t depend on any show to catch her attention during the day.  My boys were a different story–turn on the television and they’d go into a trance when they were young.

When my daughter takes off her clothes, she is careful to take remove them without turning them inside out.  Then she lays them out on the floor, smoothing them flat and straight.  She even does this with socks and underpants, which is an endearing quirk.  (I also make sure my clothes are not turned inside out when I remove them.  What?  Doesn’t everybody?)

I love to call her “sweetie pie” and “baby girl” but she always corrects me and says, “I am not a sweetie pie!  I am Grace!”  She has no idea she has a middle name or a last name and refused to believe me tonight when I suggested the possibility.

She stopped napping for four months when she was a year old.  That about killed me.  She was the kind of baby who insisted on being carried all the time.  She did not tolerate bouncy seats or swings.  She did not allow anyone to hold her but me.  She cried when people looked at her too closely. 

The fact that she begs to go visit her friends or her grandma is something of an unexpected development.  I never thought she’d want to leave my side, even for a couple of hours.  Then again, I never thought she’d sleep through the night.

But she does.  And one day she’ll know her middle name and she’ll pierce her ears and go on a date and pick a graduate school and buy a house. 

When that happens, I am going straight over where I will ask for a banana, eat one bite and discard it on the coffee table.  Then I am going to yank all the cushions off the couch and jump onto them as if I am a world-class gymnast.  I will also wake her up at 6:12 a.m. and ask if I can watch television and then sneeze in her face and drink her Diet Coke.

Then, maybe, we’ll be even.

No, really? (And a note to Britney Spears.)

Britney is divorcing Kevin.  Big surprise, huh?  Suddenly, I’m a pop-culture blog, determined to be the first to mention it to you.  Ha.

p.s.  Britney, next time around, you might consider not sleeping with a married man who already has a pregnant wife and a child and perhaps even not sleeping with someone unless you are already married to him.  Having sex outside of marriage tends to cloud one’s judgment, if you ask me.  Not that you did ask me, but you should have.  Next time you’re thinking of tying the knot, email me.

Time to Build an Ark

I live in the Pacific Northwest but this is ridiculous!  We’re on our third straight day of heavy rain–all the rivers are swollen and threatening to spill over their banks, puddles cover roadways.  The meteorologists call it “The Pineapple Express,” which apparently means it’s raining cats and pineapples, or something like that.

No, really, it’s some tropical jet stream bringing rain straight from Hawaii.  Or something.

Personally, I enjoy listening to relentless rain.  I opened the kitchen window to the noisy gusts of wind.  I just don’t want to get wet, so I haven’t been outside all day.

The children came prancing into the room this afternoon, telling me, “Mom, we’re pretending to be someone else!” 

I said, “Oh yeah?  Who are you pretending to be?”

The four-year old boy twirled and said, “I am pretending to be a boy who can ride a skateboard!”

And my four-year old daughter pointed to her head and exclaimed, “And I am pretending to be a girl with a heart in my head!”

The boy said, “And I am a boy with a brain in his head!” 

Well.  Okay, then.

My daughter spent her morning taping things to her giant box.  I love how much peace a roll of Scotch tape can buy a mom. 



And then they all climbed inside to giggle and squirm.  This picture was taken in the middle of the day.  See how gloomy it is here?


And the rain continues to fall.  (For once, I’m happy I don’t live on a river.)

Gloomy Sunday Afternoon

It’s only 4:40 p.m., but night has crept in.  The gloomy skies are calm at the moment, but we’re told to expect raging winds and drenching rain.  Welcome to November.

(Down the street, some guy’s Christmas lights already shine in the night.)

My telephone just rang, but it wasn’t a political call.  My husband called from the church where he’s been since 7:30 a.m.  He’s preparing for a 6:00 p.m. meeting. 

I had no idea he’d be at the church all day–maybe he told me and the information slipped through my brain and fell onto the floor where someone kicked it under the table.  Who knows?  When he called an hour ago to let me know he’d just stay at church until his meeting ended, my fading hope of escape from my pleasant prison home evaporated.  (My daughter just chatted with him on the phone and told him it’s almost her bedtime.  The early darkness confuses her.)

I’m still telling myself with the petulance of a small child that maybe I can still go to a movie.  Or to buy some drain unclogging chemicals to treat our plugged-up shower.  Anything to get me out of this house before the door is nailed shut.

I look ahead to this week and feel suffocated and trapped–like an claustrophobic contemplating a long sit in a closet or a wild dance in a mosh pit.  My husband’s going out of town for three days, including Saturday (aka as Set Mel Free Day) and if you add in Judo on Monday and Wednesday, that leaves Tuesday night free. 

Look for me Tuesday out in public wandering the streets.

Oh, on a positive note:  only a half-day of school on Thursday and no school on Friday, so theoretically, I could take the children someplace on a pseudo-field trip and I would if I were Mother of the Year. 

But I’m not.  (I am, however, the reigning Lazy Mother of the Year, though.  My lucky, lucky kids!)  

[And just so you know:  yesterday, I spent three hours in the morning running errands . . . then I took my 8-year old to a birthday party.  After checking out the party-situation (a pool with two lifeguards and only party-goers in attendance), I went shopping for two hours.  See?  I’m just a big whiner.  It’s never enough, the time-off I have!  I want more!]

I already voted. Stop calling me.

P1010006_2.JPGThis picture does not illustrate my post, but aren’t they cute?

*  *  *

I brought home two refrigerator boxes for my kids to play with.  Last night, they built a hut out of a Papasan chair turned upside down and tonight they mentioned that they needed a way to make another room.  I thought of the refrigerator boxes I’d left at church when we didn’t need them for Vacation Bible School last summer.

So I went to church tonight to skulk around the storage room to retrieve the boxes.  They weren’t there, so I tried all the other nooks and crannies in search of them.  I ended up in the church garage and stood in one spot scanning in vain for the boxes.  Then, just as in a horror movie, I looked up and spotted the refrigerator boxes directly above my head, lurking like some monster in the rafters.

I’m a relatively tall girl, so I managed to finagle them down without breaking my neck.

My family room floor is now wall-to-wall cardboard and I can see that the weekend will be filled with flashlights and pillows and hiding spaces, which is a perfect way to spend a rainy weekend if you are a kid.

*  *  *

For the record, if I get another recorded political telephone call I may scream.  Why do politicians think they might influence my vote with a recorded telemarketing call?  I already voted anyway–in my district, we vote with absentee ballots.  So stop calling me!  I am also sick to death of political ads on television.  I can’t wait until the election is over.  At this point, I don’t even care about the outcome.  I just want the ads to stop. 

And with that, this comes to an abrupt end.  I am so happy the weekend is imminent, even though rain is destined to fall endlessly and I will spend two hours at a chlorine-scented birthday party.

Help me out!

Offer:  Up to half my kingdom for a Diet Coke, with or without lime in a ice-filled glass.  

My Talking Phone

My phone woke me last night at midnight.  Only it wasn’t ringing.  It talked in a bossy woman’s voice, something about resetting the time.  Earlier in the evening, we’d had a momentary power outage and that provoked the phone.  Sure, I noticed the blinking “CL”–whatever that means–but I didn’t think it would wake me up by speaking in a woman’s voice.  But it did.

I woke with a start and flapped around, slapping all the buttons, poking around at the handset and finally settling back to sleep.  Then it happened again at 3:00 a.m. . . . and I repeated my stellar performance, blindly swinging at the base before flopping back on my pillow.  I spent the rest of the night in anxious suspense, waiting for the phone to demand to be reset.

I read a book (Derailed) the last couple of days.  The story was fast-paced and sleazy, really, but what really bothered me was the author’s frequent use of sentence fragments.  For instance, he’d end a paragraph with something like this:  “Waiting for the train to pull into the station.” 

I find that sort of writing so distracting.  (Because I am such a famous published novelist, I can judge these things.  Ha.)

Anyway, it was a quick read.  I thought I’d improve my mind by reading Henry James’ “Portrait of a Lady,” but now I’m worried a little because the introductory notes are complicated and I feel like I’m a high school sophomore facing required reading.

All the same, I’m going to read on.  But not tonight. 

Tonight, I have muffled the phone–well, pushed a button that made the “CL” stop blinking–and hopefully, we’ll have a silent night.

November 1! Candy wrappers everywhere!

I woke up at 6:30 a.m., annoyed to be awake.  I don’t have to be awake until 7:30 a.m. and yet I opened my eyes and was awake.  So, I did what any self-respecting sloth would do.  I got up, peed, and went back to bed where I fell into a confusing dream and woke up exhausted forty-five minutes later.

I have not adjusted to the time change.

Empty candy wrappers appear on the floor, like magic.  I tend to think it’s better to let the children gorge themselves and then we can be done with it.  I’m going to sort and purge the candy stash tonight when everyone’s gone to bed . . . I can get rid of the sticky, hard candies no one likes and hide some of the chocolates away for Christmas stockings.  (I just read that tip in Rocks in My Dryer.)

I’m minus one extra kid today which makes today seem like a holiday.  No negotiating truces between four-year olds, no insisting that they be nice and stop screaming.  It’s funny how the addition or subtraction of one child can change the dynamic of a group–and it hardly even matters which kid it is.

November 1.  Happy birthday to my long-time friend Lisa, who doesn’t have a blog even though she is one of the most insightful and hilarious women I know.  (I ought to collect her emails into an anthology, publish it and get rich, rich, rich!)  I met Lisa when I was nineteen and in college, though we didn’t become friends right away as we were busy pining over the same boy who ended up being a waste of our time.  (But was so cute.  And tall.  And did I mention he was a drummer?)

Lisa and I were roommates the summer of 1985 when we both worked for Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Heritage USA in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Lisa did her best to transform our dorm room (a converted Motel 6, complete with aqua shag carpet) into a cozy place.  Her secret?  Lots of low-wattage lamps.  She has a flair for decorating. 

She has far better hair than I ever will and is willing to devote enough time to making it look perfect.  (I am lazy when it comes to my hair.)  She was the Queen of Hot Rollers back in college.  Such springy, bouncy hair she had!

Lisa is vivacious, energetic, passionate and hard-working.  She has three boys, roughly the age of my own boys, and meets the challenge of parenting with humor and persistence.  She juggles working and parenting and ministering with grace and skill.

One spring night in 1986, we borrowed a car from our friend, Diane, and went out for pizza.  While chatting and picking at the cheese, one of us suggested that we ought to drive to Tulsa from Springfield.  This was a three-hour drive and we had a curfew, yet we proclaimed it a brilliant plan!  We’d surprise the college men we knew who lived in Tulsa once we got there!  What fun, right?  (We didn’t even ask Diane if we could take her car three hours away.)

We arrived late, ten, I suppose, maybe later.  I called my now-husband and announced my arrival.  He told me later that he’d just returned home from a date (with another girl!).  He agreed to meet me at Denny’s.  Then I called Lisa’s now-husband, but not-yet-boyfriend, John, and asked him to meet me at Denny’s to discuss Lisa.  I told him I was very worried about her.  (A bold-faced lie!)

He met us there, too.  Surprise!  Surprise!  Lisa and I found our spontaneous appearance in Tulsa hilarious.  The boys?  Not quite so much.  But I did wrangle an agreement out of my now-husband that we’d date that upcoming summer.  (Oh, boy, long story there that I probably never told you and it’s probably too long to go into . . . . but let’s just skip to the summer of 1987 and say we lived happily ever after.  And Lisa and John were married the summer of 1988.)

(And yes, we totally missed our curfew–I think we simply stayed out all night and sneaked back in when the dorm opened at 6:00 a.m.)

Anyway, it’s Lisa’s birthday and I’m thinking about her today.  Her husband took her away to a spa until tomorrow so she can turn forty-five in peace and luxury.

Meanwhile, I’m also thinking about a nap.  These jaunts down memory lane are exhausting. 

Happy Trick-or-Treating


On Tolerance

So, let’s see.  I mentioned that I wanted to talk about the intolerance of people toward Christians.  This post linking to another post written by a woman who was dismayed (horrified?  discomfited?) to be attending a barbecue with a bunch of Christians (who had the nerve not to serve alcohol) sparked my reaction.  That, and the Joan Rivers “Before Melissa Pulls the Plug” comedy special I paused on while channel-surfing the other night.  (Then again, Joan Rivers says outrageous things about everyone, so how can anyone be offended by that?) 

I understand about being uncomfortable around people who are different than you, so the woman who spent her afternoon at the barbecue feeling out of place gets my sympathy.  After all, I live in one of the states where more people do not attend church than do. 

“The idea that Seattle or this part of the country is a bastion of liberalism and tolerance and open-mindedness is baloney,” Gallant says. “It is just self-absorbed and trendy. These people are, in fact, very intolerant to anyone who doesn’t agree with them. They want people of faith out here to be silent about their beliefs.”

The Rev. Bill Keeton, 48, pastor of the tiny, yellow-frame Chapel of Grace in Olympia, dubs secular Washington “downright anti-religious.”

“Charting the Unchurched in America,” (USA Today) says:

The majority of Americans, 81% according to ARIS, still do claim a religion. They represent a counterargument to the theory that the more developed a country — in education, occupations, science and technology — the more its people move away from religion, says Ronald Inglehart, who heads the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

Americans break the mold. Inglehart says, “Even if you look at the easiest measure of religiosity — church attendance — the USA has 30% to 32% per week depending on which poll you look at, but comparably wealthy countries in Northern Europe have 5% to 15%.”

So, eighty-some percent claim a religion (all religions, not just Christianity), but only thirty-some percent go to church.  (Far less than that in my region.)  I’m one of them.

I am accustomed to being mocked on television, on the internet, in print media.  Christians are accused of intolerance (and downright stupidity) by those who refuse to tolerate Christian belief systems.  It’s kind of funny, really, that those who claim to be tolerant of lifestyles and differing beliefs cannot tolerate Christians because of their perceived intolerance.

At least I find it funny.  And offensive on occasion.

However, I try not to take offense at the illogical meanderings of people who don’t realize how intolerant they are.  I assume those people have no idea what they are talking about, since most people are frighteningly ignorant of the overall message of the Bible and what a Christian is really like.  Joan Rivers wouldn’t know a beatitude if it hit her upside the head, after all, so we can overlook her insensitivity to Christians.  (Blessed are the meek.)

I really do believe actions speak louder than words, so I figure I don’t need to defend myself or other Christians.  But every once in awhile, my eyes roll so far back in my head that I have to say something lest my eyeballs get stuck in that position.  That explains this post.  My eyeballs were lodged way up under my eyelids.  This ought to shake them loose.

Some of you mentioned in comments that Christians are also very intolerant of other Christians.  That’s true, I suppose, though I think there’s probably a better word than “intolerance” to describe the differences between various Christian denominations and factions.  Sure, there are vast disagreements between Christian groups, but disagreeing with something doesn’t imply intolerance (“unwillingness to recognize and respect differences in opinions or beliefs”.) 

(Yes, I quibble about semantics quite often.  So?)  

I have been in Christian circles my whole life–my maternal grandfather was a preacher, my uncles are ministers, my mother met my father at Bible college–I attended church three times a week until adulthood . . . and seven times a week in college (mandatory chapel every weekday and mandatory attendance at church on weekends).  So, I have church-cred

And I’m telling you that the view from here, from the life of a pastor’s wife–who never, ever mentions that fact to strangers lest they suddenly begin to censor themselves and apologize for their language and start to look for an emergency exit–from here, it sure looks like those who champion tolerance can barely tolerate me.

Which, you have to admit, is irony at its finest.

You can accuse me of a lot things–setting back the feminist movement, for instance, by ironing my husband’s pants–but please don’t accuse me of intolerance or assume that because I’m a Christian I’m a party-pooper.  (I’m a party-pooper because I’m an introvert, which has nothing to do with my religion.) 

The tolerant among us should have no problem with my assertion that I am right because doesn’t tolerance demand that you tolerate me, even if you disagree with me?  Otherwise, that makes you intolerant, huh? 

I could go in circles forever, pointing out that people who cry “intolerant!” and point an accusing finger are intolerant of the intolerant . . . but it’s boring me.  So it must be boring you. 

The end.

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