When Pinterest Perfect Goes Kablooey

I’d seen the ideas and gotten excited.  I love pretty.  I actually love perfect pretty.

They were on Pinterest.  They came in Better Homes and Garden.  Heck, my creative girlfriend even sent me a picture.

So it was settled.  Despite the most frentic work pace of my life, I had all five of us home the Saturday before Easter which meant I could go nuts.  Set a beautiful table.  Bake til my heart exploded.  Decorate!  (Yes, we pulled our Easter decor out the WEEKEND of Easter!)

My plan was to host a couple of families along with our own for an elaborate Easter brunch.  We couldn’t spend it with Bray’s family as we normally did because of my hectic travel schedule but that wasn’t going to stop me from entertaining in high style.

Until, first, little bit got sick.  Really sick.  High fever sick.  She had 104 this afternoon, her fever ever climbing even though she’s been sick since Thursday night.  Which meant all the invitations got rescinded on Friday because there’s nothing worse than visiting a friend only to catch their kid’s contagion.

Unfazed, Saturday we gathered around the family kitchen table to decorate fun and festive Easter eggs.  Mercy.  There were dye and glitter and stickers everywhere, and the durn eggs wouldn’t take the color and they got dropped and cracked and, well, you get the idea.  This is the platter of the eggs that made it, and I’m not posting it on Pinterest.  (You won’t get many followers if you do… Not that I actually post anything of mine on Pinterest. Ever.)

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Next up, the kids wanted to HELP in the kitchen Saturday.  Y’all, I appreciate the joy that should bring me, but three five year olds baking is just not a joyful experience for me.  And I consider myself a relatively joyful person.  The baby particularly wanted to help, so I agreed to put him to work.

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(He is clearly joyful.  This may have been captured when he ordered me to let him lick the knife since he’d been relegated to sorting candy melts.)

Three things had to be baked Saturday.  The zucchini bread (which is a classic for me) with a twist – dark chocolate.  (Feel free to ooh and aah, this actually turned out, just slightly undercooked.)

Next were these little chicks made out of Oreos that I saw in BH&G.  The problem was I couldn’t find the yellow candy melts, so we improvised with mixed color Hershey melts (see above sorting project), and I couldn’t find the white beads for the bottom so I made the executive decision green sprinkles would look as good.

It was not the melts or the green that tanked this project.  I have found that if you use candy eyes for any project it tanks itself.  Y’all, sorry to use Texas-twang twice in one post but this is a grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-shake-you kind of a y’all, why do they make candy eyes?   I guess if they looked realistic you’d feel weird eating eyes, but candy eyes are FREAKY!  Plus the Oreos wouldn’t stay together.  Plus the melts were so sticky that half the jelly beans beaks got covered by the melts so the noses are in weird spots.  And the green, well the green clearly didn’t have the same effect.

Here’s project number two (you can see the magazine image at the bottom; ahem, I have a bone to pick with the editor):

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Finally, project three were whimsical butterfly cupcakes.  They looked adorable and super easy.  I have made a zillion cupcakes.  The kids desperately wanted to help, but I desperately wanted to have one of my Pinterest-y ideas turn out so I only allowed them minimal involvement: they inserted the pretzel wings and put some of the heads on.  Aside from the candy grass I had to use as antlers (do butterflies have antlers?  what are those things?  those little antennae?), because who sells black licorice (and really, who should?  it’s gross. why I am using a zillion parentheticals today?), I followed the instructions to the tee.  I did make every row have one different butterfly (see the third butterfly?  i’m just embracing the parenthetical. go with me.) because I meant to illustrate a big life lesson about how we’re all different but still beautiful and delicious, but I was worried that might just make me sound like Hannibal Lecter plus I was really wiped from all the failure.

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Where was I?  What was the point of this post?  All the slang and parentheticals have me off my game.  Oh yes, how my life is REALLY far from perfect pretty.  But you know, it’s pretty all the same.

We have weird crumbly Oreo chicks and sick kids and butterflies with antlers, mercy, but it was good.  (I won’t even go into how BREADY our beautiful Easter brunch full of Pinterest-y recipes was.  Seriously with the bread in everything.  What happened? Where was the MEAT?!?)

And little bit is still sick.  She rallied from Easter egg hunting in the dark, since our kids wake at 6 am and spy the eggs and cannot be contained inside.  You can see the poor thing has a cool pack on her head.

Easter

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After mommy melted down because the team didn’t LOVE the coordinating Easter outfits I had so lovingly selected for all five of us, we all headed out to church to celebrate what Easter is really all about (the Passion, not the Pinterest).  She went downhill fast during the service though.  You can see from picture one, taken at 10:30, to picture two, taken at 12:30, how she tanked completely and her fever spiked again poor thing.

 

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They’re off school tomorrow so she can get the first appointment with our pediatrician and maybe the insane amounts of sugar in our house will hold her over until then.  I have a hard week, a really hard week, with work and my first of six speaking engagements this month, but I know God is good all the time and this season will teach me something just like my Pinterest kablooey reminded me what this weekend was really all about.

How Could I Ask For More?

So the trees were all there dancing in the breeze.  Rustling their leaves above the noises of kids playing well below their branches while the moon looked on and the sun fell.

I stood still.  Scared any movement would frighten this moment away.  I struggle living in the moment.  But the moment had me wrapped up in its tangles and I was in no rush to break free.

Our Lenten gratitude ribbons danced on the gate in their blues and greens and pinks and yellows and inspired little bit to her own free-form, wind-blown dance.

I felt such utter gratitude, in the deepest marrow of my bones, as I breathed it all in.

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Grateful for little tee-ball players rounding their first bases of the season.

Grateful for snatches of real conversation held with friends so dear to me over the melee of children’s banter.

Grateful for a church committed to the neighbors on their street and the ones all the way over in Kenya.

Grateful for a husband home safely smelling of the land and sporting three day stubble.

Grateful for the first swim of the spring and the pink cheeks reflecting hours soaking up the sun.

Grateful for children who listened and obeyed and laughed and played and helped and worked and slept and swam and ate and danced and prayed.

Grateful for even the bloodied lip because it meant we were alive and dirty and playing and falling down and getting back up to do it all over again.

 

A song played on college radio two decades ago, and it ran on repeat in my head tonight.  It’s all I could think.  It’s all I can say…

There’s nothing like the warmth of a summer afternoon
Waking to the sunlight, being cradled by the moon
Catching fireflies at night, building castles in the sand
Kissing mama’s face goodnight and holding daddy’s hand
Thank you, Lord, how could I ask for more?

On Bones, and Wood, Down Here At The Farm

He picked up the bone muddied with wear, “Is this wood?”

“No buddy, that’s from a cow, probably his leg.  But it sort of looks like wood after being out all this time in the weather.”

“I sure wouldn’t want wood in my body, mom.”  I agreed and we wandered through a conversation about historical artificial legs made from wood.

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The wind whipped our faces, a reminder that the day wasn’t as harmless as the sky led us to believe.

Our feet crunched on the gravel road as we picked our way back from the hay barn to the main farmhouse.  As boys are prone to do, he discovered another interesting artifact largely obscured by the clover.  He held it up proudly for my inspection.

“Set that down.  It’s sharp and rusty metal, we don’t want to have to go in for a tetanus shot.”

It’s rare this time, just he and I.  One brother was feeding cattle with daddy on the tractor.  Sister was settled into grandmother’s art studio over the hay.  We talked about the time daddy had to get a tetanus shot in the emergency room and about where we might find the crayons to make a picture and about all the clovers that peppered the cold acreage.

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The children had danced in all day with fistfuls of clover flowers which began to overfill the little glass we used for a vase.

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Grandfather happened by on the four-wheeler, and as his offer was a ride to feed the cattle, I lost out and found myself making the last leg of the journey alone.

There was a bi-plane in the distance.  Wind you could hear blowing through the trees.  A cow mooing.

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Alone feels good here.  Restorative.

I had a call on Friday that unsettled me.  I sat with the unknown and found tears leaking out late into the night.  I thought I’d be more scared of the quiet, but here I stood craving it.

I heard his refrain, “I wouldn’t want wood in my body.”  I imagined I wouldn’t either though I’ve certainly settled for a heart of stone, head full of nonsense and eating trash.  But wood?

I imagined those men of old, losing a leg to war or disease, and grateful for the wooden part fashioned to help them balance and walk.  And I could hear Jesus saying to those listening to Him speak, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me…” (Mark 8:34)  I wonder if there’s not some balance that worn old cross would give my life if I took up that wood and followed Him wherever He set out each morning?  I wonder if the longer I took up that cross if my bones might begin to look more like wood too?  If someone wandering by might look over and say, “is this wood?,” and I could reply with eyes dancing, “Yes, yes it’s the cross.”

I don’t know about a body full of wood, but a body relying on the old wood of the cross might be exactly what we should crave.

Seeing Red

Happy Monday!  I didn’t know how to capture all the good, and less good, from the past few days and seeing red seemed to sum it up.

First up, drum roll please, a NEW FRONT DOOR!  I have wanted a new front door since I moved into this house in May 2006.  We have a gray house with black shutters and less than inventive landscaping.  Our black door with an inset glass middle featuring a 1980s style etched palm tree drove me bananas.  But new front doors are expensive.  And my dream door was impossible to find.  Why my darling hubby finally agreed to a new front door this Christmas, after years of asking, I’ll never know (though I think that his father may have helped), but I sure am grateful.

I found the slab at a home building company that was the style I wanted.  From there, I selected the black hardware I wanted for the door as well as the cherry red I’d wanted all these years.  It took several weeks for the handyman we hired to sand, paint, and install the door but HERE IT IS (molding still to be finished)!  And just in time for our fourth neighbors table; literally, he was cleaning up the porch as neighbors began to arrive for our Valentine’s celebration!

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Next up, while Bray and I had a nice dinner out Friday night, the gift card I had for the restaurant was declined!  I was furious and seeing a whole different kind of red.  A company here in Houston owns several high end restaurants, and I was told the card could be used at any of their establishments.  Yet when we went to pay the bill (I’d picked this particular restaurant because we had the card), they said that it could only be used at the place it was purchased.  What!?!?!  Yes, I’m on a mission with their corporate headquarters today to fix what fast became a dinner pricier than we had budgeted.

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Bray headed out Saturday morning, and we woke to a festive Valentine’s Table.

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The festivities didn’t last long; the eldest took a serious turn for poor health.  Every symptom you could have, he got it.  Fevers and shakes all day, throwing up to the point of dry heaves on the way to Texas Children’s Saturday night, headaches, back aches, stomach aches.  The doctor was wonderful.  She ran every kind of test and saw how pitiful he was just laying there.  We couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but she got us on zofram for the nausea and called in Tamiflu because he was so flu symptomatic even though the initial test came back negative.

This was my Valentine’s date:

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I joked that I spent Valentine’s Day like I did when I was 16 – at home with my mom, except this time I’m 30 pounds heavier and have three kids :)  Thank heavens she came so that the other two weren’t completely neglected.

Finally, we decided since Valentine’s Day was such a bust, we’d celebrate on the 15th.  We couldn’t go to church since the eldest was still contagious, so we did church at home and then made a big yummy lunch (the big guy had so quickly improved my Sunday morning that I never even started the Tamiflu), and we baked a cake and the kids decorated it.  We were seeing red with our big red sugar heart in the middle.  We played outside before the rain hit and ate well and redeemed the weekend.

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How about you?  How was your weekend?

Mommy Madness

I had a long weekend.  A sweet precious wonderful weekend but also a hard one.

No matter how good things are with me and the trio over the weekend, I end up losing my temper because they don’t listen and disobey.

I come from a long line of temper losers.  And actually, my long line was worse about it than I am.  So I’m sort of improving on history, but mercy do I have a long way to go.

I don’t talk to any people in my life like I talk to my kids.  I love on them and hug on them and affirm them regularly, but I also get overwhelmingly frustrated and then I yell.  I actually tried to use other words for it that sounded softer, like raise my voice, but it’s yelling.  Maybe bellowing even.  Sigh.

We have good days, like today, where really the only shouting was the zillionth time trying to get the boys to stay in their room after bedtime and when we were crossing a busy street at the grocery.  But Friday I was fried and probably drained from a long work week, and my frayed emotions let small things that the kids did pick at me in a way that it shouldn’t have.

It seems to me, and maybe I’m wrong, there’s a lot of mommy madness going around.  I talk to my girlfriends who are struggling with it.  I read blog posts about different moms takes on how to be better, and I really do read and try to incorporate those suggestions.  Heck, there’s even a whole website devoted to one mom’s work getting over her temper with her kids.

I think it’s because so many of us mommies today are plum worn down.  Wiped out.  Spent.

So many moms like me have to balance a career, pressure to stay fit which requires time to work out and shop for organic kale (bleck), time for your husband, time for your kids, time for your extracurricular activities (seeing girlfriends, serving the community, etc.), time for your kids extracurricular activities, etc.  I just got a master family calendar so we could see who was doing what when.  And that is with the hard and fast cap on only one activity per child (just so happens this semester they all picked a different one) and significant limits on what we accept by way of outside invitations (we decline dinner parties, birthday parties, etc.).

I don’t have a ton of wisdom to offer yet because I haven’t mastered the art of how to love better and yell less.  But this is what I’m working on:

1.  State their age.  There is tremendous power when you speak it before you lose your temper because you realize they are 2 or 13.  This week I said to one, “would you stop whining and act like a five year old.”  I wasn’t yelling at the time and still it stopped me in my tracks.  Remember, he is still just five.  Five year olds whine.  You shouldn’t let him whine all the time or no one will marry him, but cut him a little slack

2.  Say you are tired (if you are).  I started saying recently, I am really tired and trying super hard to help you color your picture and make dinner, but it’s wearing me out.  Can you let me finish this one thing before we move to the next thing?  Fill in whatever it is, that’s just an example, but somehow it helps your kids realize you aren’t superhuman and that you’re doing as much as you can as fast as you can.

3.  Take a break from being called mommy.  You can’t do this often, and it’s only for moms of littles, but it ended up cracking us up and lightening the mood.  With all three yelling mommy, mommy, at the top of their lungs, all wanting something different or ratting the other one out, while you’re trying to pull clothes out of the dryer and check on the chicken in the oven and pull on some shorts lest the mailman see you in your drawers, well it’s all too much.  So I told them, “you can continue to speak to me but you may not call me mommy for five minutes.”  I just needed FIVE minutes without the whining of my name.  They kept talking, but I got everything from “Gindi” to “hellooooooo,” and it made us laugh a little and realize each one of us might need to relax.

4.  Laugh.  If there is any possible way you can break the tension with a joke or a silly face, it sure serves as a wet rag on a fire about to blaze out of control.  We try to create a funny moment just before things reach a boiling point.

I get it wrong every day.  I’m always praying for patience.  (That’s a terrible thing to pray for by the way.)  As far as resources go, there’s a lot of insight in Lisa Jo Baker’s 10 Things to Do Differently Before You Lose Your Temper.  I love her acknowledgment of the apology which I use often, but I want to get past having to apologize.  Not all the time, but I’d love to go a week without having their five year old impatience trigger my own.  The Orange Rhino set her goals much higher than that, and her website is filled with wisdom from when she set out to stop losing her temper for a full year.  I am reminded by Ann Voskamp that a parent must self-parent first before running all helter skelter judging her child.  And we’re all just a work in progress.

So cut them some slack.  Cut you some slack.  And try to work in a family nap.