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Rise and Shine (Or Not)

When our twins were babies, they woke before the sun rose.  Every morning, without fail, they were awake between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.  If we kept them up later at night, they woke up at the exact same time.  We never used alarm clocks because our twins were alarm clocks stuck on “too early.”

I am not a morning person, so this was a nightmare for me.  For a long time, my husband would get up with them while I slept a little bit longer, then showered, because when you have twin babies, you really don’t have a moment to yourself.  And I would die if I had to get up at 5:00 a.m. every morning.

The early mornings were the worst.  I would say, “Just wait until they’re teenagers!  I’m going to be vacuuming in their rooms at 6:00 a.m. for revenge!”

But the years passed and now they are teenagers.  And I’m sleeping at 6:00 a.m.!  And 7:00 a.m.!  They are sleeping at 8:00 a.m.  And 9:00 a.m.!  Earlier this week, I was downstairs at 7:30 a.m. (getting breakfast for my almost-4 year old) and I heard the boys’ alarm beeping.  It beeps for an hour before it shuts off.

It beeped the whole hour and they did not stir, not even to push the “snooze” button. 

They sleep like the dead, these teenagers.  This is the first summer that they have slept in (until 10:00 a.m. some mornings).  Which has been glorious in many ways. 

But now, it’s past 11:30 p.m. and they are awake.  (I broke up a fight about a blanket just a few minutes ago.)  They will be sleeping at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, I am sure of it.

And then Thursdays?  They have to be up and ready for school-at-home by 8:30 a.m.  (My third-grader has to leave the house by 8:10 a.m. . . . and his go-to-sleep time has shifted, too–I heard him in the bathroom at 11:00 p.m.!  He’s been sleeping in until 9:00 a.m., too, a remarkably late time for him!)

All the parenting magazines and advice columns say to gradually shift the waking up time of your kids so they are back on track by the time school starts.  I tried, I did, really.  But alas, Thursday morning they’ll be waking up after a rather short night because I have not been able to get anyone to fall asleep at a decent hour.

I have a plan, though.  Bacon.  I’m going to fry bacon at 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning and if I know teenage boys, they’ll be at the table, inhaling the greasy goodness of bacon faster before I can even say “Time to wake up!”

At least that’s my plan.

By the way, over the summer, each of my kids grew a whole inch.  And my son’s voice changed in the past two weeks.  I’m living in a fast-forwarded life and I think I might be missing the good parts.  Why is there no rewind button?

Time Ticking and Slipping (Away)

Two more days of freedom. 

Then school begins.

Four more days of having a three year old living in my house.

Then, she turns four.

My knuckles look bony and my hand-skin is saggy.  I’m turning into someone’s grandmother, only my kids are too young to procreate.  My timing’s clearly off.  First things first.  I have to finish raising these kids into decent grown-ups.  (Some days, I’m not up to the task.)

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll actually have something to say.  Or not.

Survivor Hype is Ridiculous

I must be missing something, because I can’t understand the fuss about the upcoming “Survivor.”  The plan, you see, is to divide the players into four teams, according to their races. 

And this is newsworthy

Last season, or maybe the season before, they divided the teams according to age and sex:  old women, young women, old men, young men.  I didn’t notice any outcry then.  Isn’t that sexist and ageist?  Is that any different that dividing teams according to race?

Would anyone care if people were divided according to height and eye color?  Or shoe size and ear-lobe shape?  Or weight and chin-size?

In today’s ultra-sensitive world, we are not supposed to notice any differences between people, especially in their appearances.  But good grief!  Sorting people into teams according to their race is hardly “segregation,” if you ask me, unless it was also segregation to sort them according to sex and age.

Here’s a newsflash:  “Survivor” is a game.  I sure hope that the media reaction (hysteria, always!) isn’t a reflection of real people in our country, who hopefully have more sense than the media implies. 

If anything, the new season of “Survivor” will show us all that race doesn’t matter at all (duh!) when you’re sleeping in the rain on a sandy beach for thirty-nine days trying to outlast, outwit and outplay fifteen other game-players. 

People To Whom I Owe Apologies

1)  My daughter, for my incoherent, sleepy bitterness at 7 a.m.  I was, perhaps, a little snippy.  I hope this is not your first memory.  Please stop waking up so early.  

2)  My sons, for my annoyance at 10 a.m.  I don’t know why the three of you must leave empty, sticky glasses on every surface in our house, but you do.  And when one of those glasses spills water on the floor, I know!  You don’t notice it and I shouldn’t yell.  And I am really sorry I used that old tired, “I am not the maid around here!” line.

3)  That pregnant lady in a wheelchair (a wheelchair!  what is wrong with me?) who wouldn’t move from her spot right in front of the picked-over jeans display at Gap Kids.  I was kind to you, but underneath my grim smile, I was thinking, “GET OUT OF THE WAY!”  I am the physical manifestation of impatience.

4)  Those two ladies hogging the tights display at Gap Kids.  Please.  Move.  Over.  My kid is holding my place in line and I just . . . oh.

5)  My kid.  Hey!  Sorry I spoke sharply to you, but I when I said, “Hey, stand here and hold my place in line,” I actually meant for you to tell me when it was our turn.  I’ve turned into one of those hissing mothers.  I’m sorry.

6)  My daughter.  I know.  You thought:  mall = merry-go-round.  I don’t know why, but I’m sorry.  The mall just meant clothes today.  And those jeans, the ones for $39.50?  Um, no.  Sorry.

7)  The marketing people behind the Gap empire.  People!  I criticized you in my mind, composing sentences describing the clothes you are selling in your store.  I used words (in my head) like, “Rumpled, clothes from 7th grade–in 1977–that we wore, scribbled on with ballpoint pens, washed until they frayed, picked at with nail-clippers, crumpled into a ball (unwashed), stuffed in a black plastic garbage bag and just recently discovered.”  WHAT ARE YOU SELLING, GAP PEOPLE?  Did you find my clothes from seventh grade?  Oh!  I would never buy those old ratty clothes!  (Except one pair of jeans for my son and two shirts.  But that’s it.)

8)  The pretzel guy and the donut guy.  You could not have been slower if you’d been trained by a comatose turtle.  I might have rolled my eyes at your lack of speed.  I apologize.  I should re-frame your slothlike movements as “deliberateness” and perhaps I wouldn’t be so toe-tapping, finger-drumming, heavy-sighing annoyed.  

9)  My sons, who apparently really were sick, which explains why you kept sagging as if your bones had suddenly turned to pipe cleaners.  I wish you’d told me you weren’t feeling well enough to shop (in one store at one mall).  Sorry I dragged you into that horror known as the mall.

10)  The driver of that little black car.  Hey!  You were in my blind spot!  Maybe you could NOT DRIVE WHERE I CAN’T SEE YOU.  I apologize for calling you an “idiot driver” when you beeped your horn at me so I wouldn’t bash into you.

11)  The bicyclist on the blue bike who took the corner too fast and slid into the road.  I probably shouldn’t have honked my horn at you in that “YOU ARE SO STUPID” sort of way, but really!  My heart almost stopped!  I could have killed you and then who’d be sorry now?!  Watch where you’re going!

So, I’m sorry, all of you.  When I’m irritable like this, you need to just stay out of my way.  Or shoot me.

Mood Swings

I had a delightful day off.  First of all, I shopped for school clothes for my 8-year old son (who responded to this news:  “Why can’t I just wear my old clothes?”).  Then, I saw “Little Miss Sunshine.”  I am not sure if my hormones influenced my reaction, but I laughed and I cried and then I laughed again and then I cried some more. 

Afterwards, I went to Value Village and Goodwill.  At Goodwill, I scored my best buy of the day, a brand new Pampered Chef stoneware deep-dish baker for $1.99. 

My boys are suffering from colds, so when I got home, I took my daughter to the park by the beach, which was mobbed with people attending a 10-year high school reunion.  My daughter threw rocks and sticks in the water for awhile, but then she wanted to play on the playground. 

We immediately encountered three children, two wild-eyed boys and a sneering girl, who went up the slide and tried to climb down the bars while my daughter was climbing up, so I said to them in my firm, mother’s voice, “Slides are for going down.”  They looked at me with that annoying, “You’re not the boss of me!” look and I wanted to pinch them in that spot under their arms and make them sorry for being belligerent and snotty and unsupervised.

Instead, I said to my daughter in a voice loud enough for the hooligans to hear, “Let’s go to another park where there aren’t so many naughty children.”   (Which we did.)

Yes, I am exactly six years old and I will not share a playground with rule-breakers and brats.  And please, tell me where were the parents of these children who have no respect for adults?  Probably peeing in the bushes and throwing beer bottles into the Puget Sound.

Signed,

PMSing near Seattle

Those Irresponsible Cats!

Here is what you do not want to hear first thing in the morning:  “Mom, the cats left the freezer door open all night.”

“The cats?” I said, not hiding the incredulity in my voice.

“Yeah, it must have been them, because, uh, it wasn’t me.” 

Me, thinking.  “Hmmm.  Didn’t you get a pizza out of the freezer for me last night?”

“Oh, yeah, but I told my brother to close it.  I said, ‘Hey, close the freezer!’” 

Only, his brother did not.  Nor did he.  (They blamed the cats, though, so you have to give them points for creativity.) 

So, today?  Meatballs, a lot of meatballs, are in the crockpot, cooking with barbecue sauce slathered on them.  And in the refrigerator?  Halibut thawing!  And for breakfast?  Waffles, waffles for everyone because, hello, did you see the thirty thawed waffles?  (Costco, how I love your super-sized packages, until, of course, they thaw in a household accident.)

Lucky for me, the freezer was rather empty.  I did have to toss two unopened packages of Skinny Cow ice cream bars, purchased on sale.  And quite a few melted popsicles, a giant package of vegetables, two pie crusts and a couple of frozen dinners.  The whole chicken and packages of salmon and cod were still pretty much frozen so I moved them to the small freezer in the kitchen.

So, I spent my morning letting the freezer defrost completely, wiped it out and now it’s cold and ready for new frozen goods.  See?  I am industrious!  I deserve a homemaking award.  (Just move aside that laundry basket on the couch and step over those toys and let me wipe off that sticky stuff on the table and by all means, come in, come in!)

If the kids didn’t leave the freezer door open from time to time, I’d probably never get around to defrosting that freezer.

This afternoon, my daughter is leaving (again!) with her little friend.  They’re going to run through the sprinkler at his house all afternoon.  While she’s gone, I’m going to clean her room, using my secret weapon, the large, black trash bag.  It must be large to handle the load, and it must be black to hide the stash!  Otherwise, children will reclaim items they haven’t touched in approximately 67 weeks.

Now, I’m going back to my Diet Coke and the newspaper so I can mentally prepare for the bedroom cleansing.

Stream of Consciousness, Kind of

And not only has my baby girl turned into a big girl who wants to leave my house without me, one of my thirteen year old son’s voice has begun to change!  How does this happen so suddenly?  One minute, he was four years old, the next, when he stands, he looks straight into my eyes–soon he’ll be peering down at me–and his little boy voice is gone.

Really, I can’t stand it.

On the other hand, I believe that all this means that one day, I will have more than approximately three uninterrupted minutes to myself.

*  *  *

Halfway through the day, I decided to sort through the bookshelf in my 8-year old’s room.  That pastime turned into a major overhaul of all his toys and books and containers.  I received a label maker recently as a thank-you gift and so, with great delight, I labeled all the drawers in a stack of plastic bins I bought him recently.  “Legos,” “Playmobil,” “Tinkertoys,” “Nintendo Games,” etc. 

I hauled three large plastic garbage bags full of toys, books, shoes and clothes out of there, plus a bag of trash and a stack of empty Rubbermaid bins. 

Meanwhile, the rest of my house collapsed upon itself and the kitchen sink filled with dishes.  If you stopped by, you would think I am the Worst Housekeeper Ever.  But, then, I’d show you his bedroom and you would bow down and worship at my label-making feet.  (Wait.  Did my feet make labels?  No matter, it’s late and you know what I mean.)

I took my daughter to the swimming pool tonight.  Only one other child swam.  The high temperature today was about seventy degrees, and even though the pools are heated, she was cold, so we didn’t stay long.

We returned home in time to watch “Big Brother.”  I exercised while I watched, then when it ended, I headed to the grocery store (at 9 p.m.) for some provisions.  We were out of milk and I ended up spending a hundred bucks on other stuff we needed, too. 

Only a week until the children are back in school.  Darkness comes so much earlier now . . . I wistfully bid summer farewell and look forward to fall with some bitter-sweetness.  The years with my children felt infinite at one time . . . now, I hear them ticking away, moment by moment, rushing like a stream heading downhill.

My Baby Left Me

My daughter was all mine for a long time.  On her first Thanksgiving, we went to my mother’s house a few miles away.  We planned to eat at precisely her nap-time, so I thought I’d nurse her and lay her down to sleep on my mom’s bed.

My daughter, after three months on earth, declared in her baby-way that she was not happy to see the strange faces–my brother and his wife, my sister and her family, my mother.  She revved up her engines, filled up her lungs and began to scream.

I couldn’t calm her.  Finally, exasperated and frustrated, I left my other children and drove home with her.  Once in a familiar environment, away from other people, she nursed and went to sleep.

From that day on, no one but my husband or I could hold her.  When church people peered too closely into her blue eyes, she screamed.  She cried if someone touched her.  She clung to me like a koala bear in a tree when people stood near.   

I hardly ever put her down because she’d cry.  I cooked with her perched on my hip, I ate with her slung across one shoulder, I carried laundry baskets with one hand.  A friend accused me of never putting her down saying, “She’ll never walk since her feet never touch the ground.”  (She walked at eleven months, though.)

No one could take care of her but me (and her daddy, though she’d whimper and ask, “Where’s mommy?” as soon as she could pronounce the right words.)  I didn’t spend a night away from her until she was three years and three months old.

She’s never had a babysitter, other than her grandma.  (She still won’t let her grandma hold her.)  She refuses to stay in the church nursery.  She’s never been to preschool. 

I would explain to people that she was shy, that she was slow-to-warm-up.  She was my fourth child and I knew that I hadn’t made her this way.  She simply was who she was.  Still, I know people thought I was coddling her and quite possibly, ruining her.

Today, she waved good-bye to me and–at her own request–went to her little friend’s house.  (Her friend is almost 2 years old–we have been babysitting him since he was a tiny baby.)  Yesterday, she went to her other friend’s house–they’ve been pals since they were a year old.  I couldn’t believe that my baby climbed into someone else’s car, buckled up and waved bye-bye.

Both times, when I picked her up, she whined and begged to stay.  What happened to my clingy baby?  Is she really going to go out into the wide world without me?  What is this?

I have such mixed feelings.  On one hand, it’s a sort of burden to be the sole source of everything for one small person.  The house was so quiet tonight without her constant demands.  It was strange to relax without being interrupted every three minutes.

On the other hand, hey!  Don’t you miss me?  Remember me?  Your mommy, the one who held you for hours on end and who woke up every two hours for eleven months to nurse you?

My baby will be four in a week and a half.  She’s growing up.  She’s practically registered her college courses, gotten a secret tattoo (against my wishes), earned her MBA and met the man she’ll marry.  Tomorrow, she’ll probably walk down the aisle and have a couple of kids. 

At least it will seem like it. 

Shameless Self-Promotion

I wrote a post about the start of school (in a week! where has the summer gone?!) at the LargerFamilies.com site.  (Click over there <-------------------- on that logo, then click on "blog" to read it.) 

And, as if you could forget, you can always go read my latest on The Amazing Shrinking Mom.  Click on the logo over there -----------> for that one!

By the way, I was accused of “shameless self-promotion” not so long ago, but kind of made me laugh because, if anything, I’m terrible about tooting my own horn . . . which now makes me sound falsely humble.  Which reminds me of the song: 

Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble

When you’re perfect in every way

I just can’t wait to look in the mirror

I get better looking each day

To know me is to love me . . .

(Something, something, I can’t remember the words . . . oh well, never mind.)

A Book Review for Discerning Readers (the website, as well as the people)

Way back, a thousand loads of laundry ago, I agreed to review two books for Discerning Reader.  I don’t know what I was thinking, as I have approximately eight dozen too many things to do at any given time, but I did.  Book-greed overtook me and so, I offer this extremely tardy and apologetic review of two really terrific books.

C.H. Spurgeon on Spiritual Leadership and D. L. Moody on Spiritual Leadership were both penned by Steve Miller.  (The back of the book informs me that Steve “has worked in Christian publishing for twenty years as an editor and writer.”  He lives in Oregon with his wife. 

A letter that accompanied his books (provided to me free of charge, just so you know) says that his “goal in writing these books was to help ‘inspire by example’ through the lives and words of these two great leaders.  These books are not academic studies; rather, they let the words of these two men speak for themselves in regard to the character qualities God desires in a spiritual leader.”

I have to say, Steve accomplished that goal.  I read the first book while hanging out at a game arcade waiting while my son attended a birthday party.  (It was a long party.)  I felt that I had glimpsed into the life and heart of Spurgeon who was a well-known minister in the 1800s.  (“Everywhere he traveled, crowds of 10,000 to 20,000 would gather to hear him.”) 

Now, if you didn’t attend Bible College (as I did), you might be unfamiliar with Spurgeon.  But he is a legendary minister who organized and ran a college, an orphanage, an “Old Ladies Home” (no political correctedness in those days!), and more.  He wrote books that sold millions of copies, including seventy volumes of sermons.

Really, this kind of man makes me despair about my own feeble efforts to follow Christ, but this easy-to-read book offers insight into the key qualities that stood out in his life.  The book is intended to “encourage you and give you ideas you can put into practice as you fulfill your leadership responsibilities.”  Owning this book is kind of like having a portable mentor at your fingertips.

The second book, on the spiritual leadership of D.L. Moody, is equally inspiring.  Steve Miller did an admirable job of weaving together quotations and narrative to illustrate the leadership of this nineteenth century preacher.  (Moody also founded Moody Bible Institute.) 

Now, although I graduated from Bible College and sat through more than my fair share of theology classes (and even one semester of Greek), I tend to shy away from “spiritual” books.  I know.  I feel a great deal of guilt over this glaring shortcoming–after all, I’m a pastor’s wife!  I should love theology and its relatives!

I make that confession to say that I liked these books.  I really did.  I hope that one day soon, my boys will read them and be inspired by these men of God who devoted their lives to serving God by serving people. 

(And Steve Miller is an eminently readable writer.  I hope he has more of these books on spiritual leadership up his sleeve.) 

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