My Trash Can Has Superpowers

So it seems my trash can has supernatural powers. Namely, the ability to turn invisible.

A Now You See Me, Now You Don’t kind of thing.

For example, when a family member needs to throw something away, it appears. Even if it’s full, it’s there to accept just one more Jello cup.

But if said family member walks by that overflowing lid on the way out the garage, POOF!

It’s gone.

As if there is no full trash can to be emptied at all.

Much to my disappointment, I am apparently immune.

The full trash can sits there in all its slovenly glory, completely visible to me at all times.

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What I was not immune to this past week was a nasty sinus infection.

The kind that completely incapacitates you. During the day, it fills your head with a haze of confusion like you’re the walking dead and feels like a vice is pushing on your brain. At night, it shuts off one side of your nose so you can only breathe in half the air you need and then sends coughing fits that suck out that bit of air from your lungs.

Oh, yes, it was fun.

I wasn’t completely out of it, though. I still noticed the shifty things in the house.

Like the trash can’s ability to disappear.

The dishwasher seems to have some cloak and dagger skills as well.

It sat full of clean dishes for two full days, while the dirty ones kept filling the sink.

I’m thinking it has a motion sensor on its ‘clean’ light. When someone walks by, it shuts off, undetected that there is something to be done there.

Then, when someone might entertain the thought of adding a dirty fork, it glows green again, indicating an untouchable clean space.

Just like the trash can, I am immune to this. I guess it knows it can’t fool me. After all, I’m the one who fills it and starts the cycle.

Household chores can be a touchy subject in marriage, can’t they? Who should do what? Who does more?

I thought being down for the count would make a difference. That hubby would automatically take care of the trash and the dishes. After all, he’s the other adult in the house.

But it didn’t happen.

Now to be fair, hubby stayed home from work a day and a half to help. He kept the boys busy so I could die rest on the couch. He ran to get us food three times because I hadn’t been to the grocery store before I was attacked by nasty germs. He reminded the boys to be quieter so my head wouldn’t explode.

I just wished the other things would have been done.

But that was the problem. I was wishing when I should have been asking.

I think after doing certain things non-stop for several years, you sometimes forget it doesn’t have to be done by you. You also don’t see what someone else always takes care of. Habits are hard to break.

Like I don’t really notice how long the grass is because I don’t cut it. It doesn’t bother me when it snows until I have to get out of the driveway, but it’s cleared before I’m even up.

Hubby wasn’t purposely ignoring the trash. It just wasn’t on his radar.

And Moms don’t get sick, right? Well, we typically keep going like the Energizer bunny even when we do get sick. Part of our problem sometimes. We’re bad at shutting ourselves down, even when we have no choice.

But here’s what I was reminded of.

With all of the duties we assume day-in and day-out, we forget to ask for help when we need it.

I needed help. I wished I didn’t need to ask for it. But sometimes you just need to ask.

And when I did, the trash was removed and the dishes put away.

It’s the same with our Father in heaven. When we need help, He wants us to ask. One difference is…He knows perfectly well what we need help with. But He still wants us to ask.


     “Ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find; knock, and it
will be opened to you.” 
                                       Matthew 7:7


So…we need to ask Him for help even though he already knows what we need. And we definitely need to ask the hubby, because he can’t read our minds.

Mind reading would be convenient, though, wouldn’t it?

Like I could tell him dinner is ready without shouting down to the basement.

Or silently ask that he come close the bathroom door – because pee wee left it open – before all my shower steam leaves the room.

Superpowers could come in handy.

Too bad I can’t make myself invisible once in a while.

Mom, I can’t find my shoes.

Mom, where’s my sweatshirt?

Mom, can you get me some milk?

Mom!

Where’s Mom? 🙂

Which items in your house have superpowers? I’d love to hear your cloak and dagger story!

Role #226: Stress Ball

I was lying in bed, debating whether to get up or give myself 5 more minutes, as my toddler headed to the bathroom.

That’s when I heard the sound.

Not so much a tinkling in a small pool of water like I was expecting.

More like a hose spraying the side of the house.

Oh yeah.

A groan escaped me. I went to investigate. With a click of the light switch, there it was. A lovely pool of yellow on my tile floor with a thorough spray spanning the wall.

Someone had missed the toilet…completely.

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Mind you, this is highly unusual. I have just about the best 3-year old pee-er in the universe. How do you spell pee-er? That’s probably not a word, but I want to use it. 🙂

My toddler never fails to lift both lids, meaning he even lifts the seat. Bless him. He always flushes. And get this…he even uses a small tab of toilet paper to wipe the rim. See, he should get a reward or something!

But this morning went a little awry. Maybe he was tired, maybe he had to go too quickly. I don’t know. But there was a mess to clean up before I even got out of bed. Ugh.

After clean-up, I noticed the toilet was now backed up with too much toilet paper. Oh, did I do that? In fact, it was near the rim, ready to overflow. So I grabbed the plunger. It’s one of those rubber kinds. Have you ever had the rubber part flip the wrong side out? Yep. That happened. And when I tried to flip it back, can you guess what came next?

Toilet water sprayed all over the same wall. I had to clean it twice.

Stress.

It can take on many forms.

Now this potty accident didn’t really stress me out. It just wasn’t a great way to start the morning.

But countless things throughout our day can create stress.

Some days it’s a true battle. It can feel like the world is on our shoulders. Not the whole world, but our own little worlds – the worlds of our families. And we “moms” typically have a hand in most of it.

For example, we’re often the planners, schedulers, and timekeepers. Do you ever feel like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, constantly checking his pocket watch?

When I pick you up after school today, we need to move quickly to get to your haircut appointment and then make it home in time to finish dinner before 6:00.

Honey, I’ve ordered the cake from the grocery store, the balloons from Party City, and sandwiches from Subway. We need to pick them all up on Saturday before the birthday party. Can you help with that?

Those are just 3 roles we take on – there are countless others.

CEO. Nurturer. Teacher. Personal Shopper. Nurse. Maid. Seamstress. Mrs. Fixit. Referee. Personal Chef. Accountant. Judge. Head Cheerleader. Taxi Driver. Mediator. Speech Specialist. Vacation Coordinator/Tour Guide. Secret Keeper. Errand Runner. Family Therapist. Laundry Operator. Search & Rescue (for lost things). Event Coordinator. Safety Patrol. Bodyguard. Wardrobe Stylist. Personal Assistant for the whole family…

I’m not sure the list ends, really. The good thing is most days we don’t realize all the roles we play. They just all get wrapped up into our awesome Mom-ness.

But I recently added a new one to the list, one I’d never considered before. Not until I looked at the world from someone else’s perspective.

Stress Reliever.

We tend to focus on the stress we have. But recently I stopped to think about the stress in my child’s world.

As soon as my oldest wakes, he’s on the clock to get ready to go out the door. Did you brush your teeth? Don’t forget your snack. Please double check that I initialed your assignment book.

Each day at school he’s learning brand new things. At the same time, he must navigate expectations…from the teachers, his friends, and me.  Remember to take the sign-up sheet home with you tonight. Make sure you find me on the playground. Don’t forget to look for your lost boot.

After school, the learning and reminders don’t end. At home, we take our role of teacher pretty seriously, wanting to prepare these young ones to become the well-mannered and conscientious adults we wish them to be. Treat your brother the way you would want him to treat you. After dinner, you need to do your homework. Do you have gym shoes for tomorrow?

So often I feel like such a nag. Do you?

After a full day of being instructed, guided, scheduled, and reminded – don’t we all need a break?

When you think about it, our kids are doing battle every day, too. It’s just a different kind.

Part of our job is to offer a place to relax, refresh, and recharge after a stress-filled day – it’s called home. And here’s how I’m going to help de-stress my kids.

Hugs. Home starts within our arms. It’s a place of comfort and safety. In fact, I read that children need a minimum of 8 touches a day to feel connected. So I’m going to dish out the hugs as often as possible.

Off time. There needs to be time to slow down. I’m going to omit things from the schedule when we can; after all, some of it is by choice. And while there’s value in order and routine, we can benefit from breaking up the schedule, too. Like when I spontaneously went strawberry picking last year. BTW, Best. Afternoon. Ever.

Music. Stress releases cortisol in our bodies, but too much can tax other parts of our body, like our immune system. Music has been studied to bring our cortisol levels back to normal. While it hasn’t been confirmed, I think many of us would agree that listening to soft music or nature sounds can offer relaxation. So when I think our brains are on overload, it’s time to change the channel to some tunes. And don’t discount the stress relief of an impromptu dance party!

Empathy. When I’m stressed out, I rely on my friends. They listen with true interest, offer advice, or just let me vent. Our kids haven’t quite developed these types of relationships yet…where they can let their true emotions show. But we can be that ear and shoulder. Empathy for what they are experiencing will let them open up rather than bottle it up.

As much stress that falls on our shoulders, we have the power to lift it from our kids.

With more “grown-up” demands than ever, kids today need us not just to teach, guide, and mold. But also to learn how to shut things off. Use silliness to release tension. Find stillness in this world of constant stimulation. Slow down enough to open up about fears, worries, and sorrow. To just be ourselves. Without demands. Without judgement. Just be.

By creating a haven at home, we can help lift their stress as we lift their hearts.

So come on, boys, give me a hug! Didn’t you hear? I’m your personal stress ball. 🙂

 

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Is it just me?

Or is laundry a bunch of spiteful beasts?

Those socks are taunting me. Hee hee. We got separated so she couldn’t pair us up.

It’s the same clothes every week. Despite the variety in the kids’ closets. Oh, pick me, pick me. You wore me just yesterday, but no one will remember.

The clean clothes mix with the dirty. Let’s go for a swim, boys. She’ll never know we didn’t need to be washed again.

When I get tired of washing clean clothes, I start smelling them. I smell something that looks clean and…phew! Okay, that’s there for a reason. Made you smell us. Made you smell us.

Laundry – how many of you hate it?

What I love is having all the clothes hung in the closets and folded in the drawers. I love seeing a stack of fresh towels in the bathroom. I seriously love sliding into cool, clean-smelling sheets at night. But I never win the battle of having it all done at once. Because laundry is this cycle that never ends.

But this post isn’t about the fight with laundry.

It’s about the fight with myself.

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More than laundry, I hate my bad habit of raising my voice in anger. And it’s a vicious cycle. It goes from me…to kids yelling back…to kids yelling at each other. A game of loud dominos.

And I can be a spiteful beast with myself like the laundry. I criticize. I tear myself down. I say things like…

What’s wrong with you?

Why can’t you just stop yelling?

They deserve better.

You are not being a good mom right now.

When are you going to fix this already?

I visit with friends and see endless patience. I watch the helpers in Sunday school and cannot fathom a harsh word ever escaping them. These moms can’t possibly lose their patience like I do. Their buttons either aren’t being pushed, or they have an ultimate control pad over those buttons with a seventeen-digit letter-number-symbol password the kids can’t crack. Despite my very active imagination, I can’t picture any of them with angry faces and loud voices.

Is it just me?

I feel like I’m on the spin cycle. Except I’m not getting rid of this horrible smell. This horrible feeling. This horrible habit. So I just keep spinning. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

When does my fluffy, fresh-scented Mom-ness get folded and put away for good?

I tell myself every day, Just love them.

Show compassion. Use tenderness. Even when they disobey. Even when they speak hurtfully. Even when they start to yell. Share your understanding before the lesson. Without frustration.

I understand your brother annoys you. That’s normal. But if you want him to treat you well, then you need to treat him well.

Before getting mad about him taking your toy and yanking it from his hand, ask him to please give it back. Would you want it yanked out of your hand, or for him to ask for it nicely?

Love is the root I want behind every interaction. But there have been so many days where my lost temper is like a spot on a lovely white shirt. And despite the rest of the shirt being beautifully white and clean (and full of love), that spot stands out from the rest.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s even a stain remover strong enough to eliminate it.


     “The Lord helps the fallen
and lifts those bent beneath their loads.” 
                                       Psalm 145:14


Yes, love can lift up that stain as it lifts me up. Some days I do feel it lifting me up.

Other days I slide right back down into the hole I’m in.

With all of my own harsh judgement, I’ve forgotten something.

To love myself.

Love can’t penetrate that stain if I’ve forgotten to soak in it.

If I keep tearing myself down, how will love be able to lift me out of the hole I’m in?

I have no answers for this one, except to keep trying. To not berate myself as I go.

Is it hard? Yes. I won’t lie. I cry on those bad days. I feel like a failure. I have high expectations of myself. I want my calm, patient Mom-ness to be there every minute of the day, and I am impatient with her tardiness. I never expected this angry mom to show up in the first place. Who invited her anyway?

Maybe it was those darn socks! 🙂

Is it ever this hard for you?

Or is it just me?

Time Should Be Wasted

Time is a precious thing. There’s never enough of it.

I manage life like each passing minute needs to be tackled. Gotcha! I knock it to the ground, clutch it in my sweaty hands, ground it together with the other minutes I snatched, and hope I can get a full ½ hour to vacuum and mop the kitchen floor until it gleams like an ice sculpture.

Not buying the gleaming floor? Yeah, I just want to remove the crumbs I keep picking up with my bare feet. Ick!

I took some extra time from work while school was out. I dreamed up all the things I could get done.

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The house would be neat and tidy for full consecutive days because I would have time to keep up with it. Did I really think that?

I’d place wonderful new meals on the table. Everyone would come running, take a whiff of delicious aromas, and mumble ‘Thank you, Mama’ while stuffing their faces. But they like ham and cheese sandwiches.

The laundry would be completely caught up, folded, and put away. With just one or two things added to the basket each day, I could forgo the next load of wash for at least a week. Yeah, I’m still laughing at this one, too.

I realized I wouldn’t get these wishes for Christmas. But I did have extra time. What could I cross off the to-do list? What could I catch up on? What sense of accomplishment could I achieve? How best to use this extra time?

Waste it.

Yes, you heard that from me. Just like many of you, a woman who never has enough time to get things done. And when she finally has a little extra, she wants to waste it? Yep!

I wasted a couple hours watching APL’s River Monsters with my older son. We both found the episodes on eels and sawfish interesting. It was finally some down time from the decibel levels of play, and I got to witness his brain at work as we wondered about the things we saw.

I wasted more time looking through old home decor magazines. Even though I saw them before, I still enjoyed the eye candy. And now I get to treat a friend to them next.

I took my time on a new project: designing a desk for my son. I hand washed the plastic drawers I bought at a garage sale last summer, removing the old sticky labels with Goo Gone. I used the lazy action to visualize my design and work through how best to execute it.

There’s so much I should be doing. Catch up on the Shutterfly albums I’ve neglected. I’m over a year behind right now – ugh! Figure out why some of the basement lights aren’t working. Look for more recipes to try with the family. Find ways to promote my blog.

But I didn’t feel like it. In the words of a friend of mine that very week, “I have a huge case of the, I don’t wanna’s.” I felt the same, and I think I know why.

Rest is a basic need. It’s next to air, water, and food at the base of Maslow’s hierarchical triangle of fundamental needs.

Without doubt, our Father knows how important it is.


     “In vain you rise early and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep
to those He loves.”
 
                                       Psalm 127:2


I get two things from this verse. First, that when we live a life with God, He will give us rest when we need it. And second, that we should take it. He’s giving it to us for good reason.

It’s not just physical rest that we need. Possibly even more important in today’s technology-driven world is the mental rest we all need. Our brains need the down time.

Time to let our thoughts wander, work out problems, or dream of new things. Time to connect with Him to make sure we stay on track. Time to connect with our loved ones to make them feel what they are..the most important part of our lives.

Even time to do nothing.

Or what seems like nothing, but is actually something.

Like write out a pretend check to the wildlife store to buy two cute little bear cubs and take them home to raise myself. Their idea, not mine. Thank goodness they’re already potty trained. 🙂

And then build a nest of fur and grass with a fuzzy green blanket to put my little bear cubs down for a nap like they asked. Bummer! It was only a pretend nap.

What seems like wasting time to us is the time our kids treasure most.

It’s back to the grind now, where I’m snatching time to get things done in the midst of work, school, and everyday routine. So now’s my chance to waste some of it.

In fact, I think the bear cubs need some air. We’ll surface from the den and slide down the driveway a bit. Then I’ll waste some time frying up some salmon from the river. Good thing they like Goldfish crackers!

How will you waste time this year?

Keeping Up (Whew!)

I will be age 59 when my youngest graduates high school.

Technically, that’s old enough to be his grandmother. Somebody’s grandmother. I have a friend my age who just became a grandmother. And I have a 3-year old.

Yes, I’m one of those parents. Old.

Hubby and I were married 10 years before welcoming our first child. No particular reason, we just waited. And when we started trying, it took a little time.

In a single day, my age was proven 3 times.

  1. I rose from my office desk, only to stop. I was forced to adjust my hip joint as it went out of whack. And then had to explain the loud pop to my cubicle neighbor.
  2. I had to ask my colleague to blow up the Word doc on her laptop so I could read the text. Otherwise, I would have had to crawl in her lap to see it.
  3. That night, a tiny piece of my front bottom tooth chipped off. WHAT??!? I’m pretty sure the soft burrito wasn’t to blame.

I’m falling apart. Where’s my proof of purchase? Can I trade parts like Wall-e? There’s still so much I want to do. I have a 3-year old, for goodness sake. How am I going to keep up with him?

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Physically keeping up is one thing; mentally is another. I had hoped that with age came experience, wisdom, and insight. But there’s so much about today’s world that I don’t understand. And I’m not sure how helpful my “wisdom” will be when I don’t know what I will end up seeing in this world…and what my kids will deal with.

Let’s face it, there are scary things out there. Of the human-kind. But I’m not treading that water, because that ocean’s too vast and deep.

So let’s look at just one aspect – technology. I can barely keep up with tweets, instagrams, and snapchats. What will it be like in 5, 10, 15 years? (In case you’re interested, here’s a cheat sheet of the top-used social media – http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/social-media-user-cheat-sheet/501627 – which I’m sure is already out of date!)

Technology brings so much into our homes, and not always what we need or want. At this age, I’m still trying to protect their innocence, give them a sense of security and comfort. Focus on teaching them values, beliefs, and morals to counteract the violence and hatred in the world.

Putting it into perspective, I should worry less about me growing older, and more about the outside world that is changing minute by minute.

I’m pretty sure my kids will forgive me if I can’t run around the bases without gasping for breath. I also hope they show patience as they try to teach me how to use the latest technology…maybe my new ApplePants where I surf the web with pocket sensors and view through a transparent eye patch. Just saying.

It’s not that far off. I read about a new smart garment that takes your measurements and uploads it to a website to ensure you’ll order the clothing size you need. It’s called LikeAGlove. Hopefully, it doesn’t talk, too. As you’re surfing a trendy shopping site, click on a pair of capris that look fabulous on the pictured model, and hear from your SmartPants, “Oh, honey, you’ll never fit into those.” 🙂

I can’t count on keeping up with technology. What I can count on is keeping up with my kids…through my heart. What will matter is how well I listen to their worries, how warm my hugs are, how much I care about what’s happening in their lives – and how the world impacts that – and how I securely plant them in God’s love.

We have no idea what the future holds. But God does. There is good around every corner of bad. He won’t give up on us, so I won’t give up on him. I must rely on him for the wisdom and truth I – and my kids – will desperately need as times change.


     If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you
must believe and not doubt, because the one who
doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed
by the wind. 

                                       James 1:5-6


In the meantime, I’m connecting to my busy boys’ hearts through play. I’m building (and crawling under) tents in the living room, riding bicycles up our inclined driveway (and welcoming going down), and dancing barefoot in the living room to the soundtrack of Home (despite my toddler stepping on me).

I’m getting in as much playtime now as I can. Before my pants tell me to get my butt off the floor because I’ll crack a hip!

Hands Free Mama

Letting Go...To Grasp What Really Matters

Butterfly Heart

life in progress

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