The Post Deluge

I feel so behind on the blog, like I have so many things I want to tell you but I only have 10 minutes in which to do so.

(Do you ever have that I'm-going-to-burst feeling when you go out to lunch with a really good friend that you haven't seen in a while? Like you have SO MUCH to catch up on that it will probably take 20 hours just to cover the basics of life? And you only have a babysitter for an hour?)

(I realize the few men that read this blog just shook their heads in total disgust. Sorry guys.)

I have stories from camp, pictures from Natalie's 7th birthday party (including the flip-flop cake), a Bible verse that has been stepping all over my little need-a-pedicure toes. (Both those statements are true, by the way. My toes are freakishly itty-bitty. And a pedicure? Oh my word. I go barefoot every moment in the summer, and my feet show it.) I want to finish up my Sabbath Part One post. I have a struggle to share with you about church in the summer.

I have little bits of paper all over my house with pieces of posts on them. (That's right. I'm so desperate to get these thoughts out of my brain, I've resorted to writing on actual paper. Which is saying something, because I type at roughly the speed of light, and I write at roughly the speed of a second grader, thanks to the carpal tunnel.) (Which means me writing on paper usually starts out with me scribbling really fast, with a concentrated expression on my face, and quickly degenerates into me getting more and more frustrated as my hand cramps up like a swimmer who ate lunch and then went swimming anyway, and I end up throwing the pencil down in disgust and muttering to myself that I should never, ever try to write without my computer. And in the end, I can't read what I've written anyway, because hello, remember what I said about second grader? I wasn't joking. Penmanship is not my strong suit at this stage of life.)

Why, hello stream of consciousness. Nice to have you around.

I guess what I'm saying is -- I have a lot of stuff to post. And I hope to get to it in the next day or so, and regale you with tales of hither and yon. With pictures! And maybe even a video!

But right now? I'm still in my pajamas. The baby is on her third outfit of the day -- and it isn't because she's on "What Not To Wear," if you catch my drift. It's still fairly dark outside, thanks to a storm system that's moving through the Upper Midwest. (Sigh. Do you think a TV station would hire a mid-30s SAHM to be a fill-in meteorologist? Oh weather, I love you so.) My husband is coming home for lunch, after which we have the much beloved swimming lessons. (There's another post! ARGH!) And the kids are still watching Noggin.

I guess what I'm saying is -- my life is deluging me with stories to tell you. But the living -- it's giving me no time to tell them!

A conundrum for sure.

Maybe we can all just meet at Starbucks -- before they close? Because -- oh, did I not tell you? -- my neighborhood Starbucks is on the closure list.

Sigh. Guess that's another post to add to the list.

Link Love

I just spent the better part of the last 90 minutes catching up on my blog reading, and good night folks, there are some good writers out there.

So because it's now 11:30 PM, and I have lost will to post thanks to the brilliance of the blogosphere, here are a few great posts you should read if you haven't already.

Smoke from a Distant Fire - The QC Report
Remember that "Friends" episode when Phoebe couldn't destroy the fire detector that kept beeping for no reason? This is funnier.

Typical Baptist - Shlog (Shaun Groves)
I can't stop thinking about this one. Not only did I grow up in a Baptist church that didn't use the word "Baptist" in its name for fear of scaring the neighbors, but I went to a Baptist church in San Diego, and it took me about three years to acknowledge the full name of the church for fear of being associated with its Baptist-ness.

Confessions of a Politically Correct Journalist - Crunchy Con
Fascinating article (and discussion in the comments) about how the West should go about helping Africa, if at all. (HT Amy's Humble Musings)

A Cow and Some Chocolate
One of my favorite authors, Karma Wilson of "The Bear Snores On" fame, writes beautifully about why she supports Compassion.

Home(life) Improvement - Bean Paste
Ever wonder what lurks in the dust beneath your fridge? Melanie has the inside scoop.

A Pregnancy Fear I Never Expected
- 5 Minutes for Parenting
I literally can't stop shuddering at this story from Veronica. Warning: It involves a wolf spider.

And with that, I'll sign off. Pleasant nightmares!

At least it's easy to clean.

I just asked my children -- who were playing quietly together with a few of Natalie's birthday gifts -- if they wanted me to turn on the TV.

Because without "Max & Ruby" hypnotizing entertaining my children, they would hear me on the phone, and I desperately need to call Toys R Us to inquire if they have any Kipper DVDs or Easy Bake Ovens in stock. Without an audience.

Such is the double curse of a tiny house and a loud voice.

Because Her Heart Is Also Mine

Teyla's six-month check-up was yesterday, and I'm sorry to say, the shots weren't the worst of it.

During the routine physical check, our wonderful pediatrician took an abnormally long time listening to Teyla's heart. She would stop and say, "Hmmm," and then listen some more. (Nothing like that to stop a Mom from breathing.)

In the end, she said she's hearing a "swish-thump" instead of the typical "thump-thump." Not really a murmur, just a different sound. It could very well be nothing, but as this is the first time she's heard it in Teyla, she referred us to the pediatric cardiology unit at our local children's hospital to have them check it out.

My first thought is that Teyla may have inherited a bicuspid aortic valve, which is heart defect present in my Dad. My understanding is that a bicuspid valve -- versus the normal tricuspid valve -- allows blood to
leak backward into the heart's pumping chamber. It may also cause a narrowing of the artery. While it's something doctors certainly want to be aware of, it's not life-threatening. My Dad has lived with his 60+ years now. At some point, it may need to be replaced. But so far, so good.

Right now, we have an appointment with the pediatric cardiologist on Monday, August 4. Our pediatrician said they will most likely take an in-depth listen to Teyla's heart, and if they feel it's warranted, they'll do an echo cardiogram, which is non-invasive. (Whew!)

It's always scary to think something could be wrong with your baby. Certainly I've hugged Teyla a lot more since yesterday's appointment, and my stomach continues to do flip-flops when I think about the unknown. (So far, I've resisted Googling the symptoms. Plus one for me.)

But as many wonderful friends on Twitter said, heart issues are somewhat common in newborns, and they often turn out to be nothing. And as our pediatrician said, the fact that Teyla is pink and healthy and happy and growing well indicates it's not an urgent issue.

So we'll wait. But I covet your prayers -- for all of our hearts. In the end, only God can give Corey and I the peace we crave, and only He knows exactly what's going on.

I Just Need A Moment Here

I love being a stay-at-home mom. Really, I do.

But some days, I would give a great deal of money just to have a moment alone.

Take today, for example. I only had one item on my to do list: write my post for 5 Minutes for Parenting. Straight-forward. Simple. I even had some topics swirling around in my brain.

But when I sat down this morning to sort my thoughts, Natalie was bored, Connor was picking on his sister and the baby wasn’t happy unless she was being entertained.

So I set the computer aside. I found a project for Natalie, warned Connor that annoying his sister is not an acceptable activity, folded some laundry while making silly faces at Teyla and then put her down for a nap.

Finally. A break.

But ‘twas not to be. The kids stormed in. “We’re bored! No one’s home! We can’t play outside! There’s nothing to do! We’re hungry!”

I could feel the frustration in my shoulders, but I figured it was best to tackle this thing head-on. So we trooped downstairs, ate an early lunch, brainstormed the menu for Natalie’s birthday dinner this weekend and cleaned up the kitchen.

All was quiet. I started my post.

Then, “Mom, I’m still hungry! Mom I want a treat! Mom, Connor’s hitting me! But Mom, Natalie started it by acting like she was hitting me!”

I shut the laptop and herded them outside. “I will come out with you so you can play. But I need 30 minutes of time ALONE. Do not bother me. Do you see the steam coming out my ears? It’s not because it’s hot today. Mommy needs to THINK!”

I set up my chair, they got out their bikes. Two minutes later, the cries began again.

“Watch me, Mom! Look what I can do! I’m thirsty! Can we have a juice box? I want a Popsicle. There’s nothing to do! I’m bored! I need to go to the bathroom! Will you come with me?”

Rinse, recycle, repeat.

Times like this make me wish for family that lived nearby. How lovely to be able to call someone and say, “Please come watch my children, lest I beat them over the head with my computer.”

I’d settle for a babysitter, but ours lives 90 minutes away (one-way), which means it takes a tremendous amount of coordinating (and money) just to get her here once a month for a date night.

And Corey, bless his heart, works like a fiend and has been on the road this year almost as much as the Presidential candidates. I can’t dump the kids on him when I need a break, because I know he needs a break just as much as I do.

So then. The situation, as I see it, is fixed. It’s me and them, them and me. No matter how you toss the dice, it’s meant to be. The only one for me is them and them for me. So happy together.

(Sorry. Since I wasn’t allowed to listen to rock and roll as a teenager – clearly, the beat had Satan in it – I listened to a lot of oldies music. It comes out at the most inappropriate times.)

I’m not one to throw a huge pity party. I’m an optimist. I like to fix things, to move on, to find a solution. (Which means I might not be the best friend to call when you just want a listening ear. I’m really bad at that.) Onward and upward, pip-pip, cheerio and all that rot.

If I can’t get away from the kids – legally, anyway – and yet I need to get away from the kids to preserve my sanity, I will probably have to take drastic action.

I will need to start getting up early if I want some guaranteed alone time, maybe even arising by 6:00 AM.

You have no idea how horrifying that is to me. I am NOT a morning person. Not. I was happiest when I worked on the 11:00 PM news. I got up around 10:00 AM, went to work around 2:00 PM, got home around 12:00 AM, had ice cream around 12:30 AM, went to sleep around 1:00 AM. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

So getting up – on purpose – around 6:00 AM?!? It hurts. Ow. Ow.

But I see no other solution. (Do you?!?) And my sanity will thank me. (Right?!?)

*Forgot to add: Staying up late isn't really an option, since my husband likes it when I go to bed with him, and I'm trying to respect that. But maybe he and I can work something out.

Warmed Over Coffee ... With Peppermint Mocha Creamer

I'm going back in time with this one, to July 2007. I was pregnant with Teyla, still in my first trimester, and that bone-numbing pregnancy exhaustion had me in its grasp. (Still there, by the way.) (Just kidding. Sort of. But there are some days I wish I had an excuse for my weariness, other than, "Mommy couldn't bring herself to stop reading blogs last night.") That also explains why I'm posting a repeat, by the way. Enjoy.

So today, when I finally managed to drag myself into the shower around 12:30 PM and then needed to take a nap from the gargantuan effort of all that sudsing and rinsing and repeating, I decided some coffee might be in order.

I normally [heart] coffee. It's my friend. I drink some every morning with a splash of flavored cream and thoroughly enjoy the smell, the taste and the energy it brings.

Until I'm pregnant. Then the aroma of freshly brewed java becomes anathema to me. It's like the smell of fresh vomit. Utterly repulsive.

Given that, I haven't been drinking much coffee for the last few months. My poor husband keeps trying, especially on the weekends when we would normally split a pot of French press. "Are you sure you don't want any coffee?!?"

Ummm. Yes.

Until today. When I woke up at 1:45 PM and remembered that:
a. I needed to clean my house ASAP so it would be ready for a potential showing this week.
b. I have two children...
c. ...who hadn't eaten anything all day besides a bowl of cereal and...
d. ...the three-year-old might have had an accident while I was sleeping, due to the appearance of a large wet spot on his shorts, which were now firmly deposited on my computer chair.

Energy needed. Immediately. Form of -- coffee. Wonder Twin powers, activate.

I found some day-old Starbucks Sumatra in the thermal coffee pot. I poured it into a glass, threw in some ice and turned to my fridge to find some cream.

And that's when I saw it -- the gift from God. A brand new container of Coffee-Mate Peppermint Mocha cream. As you might guess, it's a "seasonal" variety of flavored creamer. (Want to take a guess at which season?) It was a tad past its sell by date, but seeing as most Coffee-Mate creamers have nothing natural in them, I wasn't worried. No dairy, no spoilage.

I splashed some in and brought it to my lips.

Mmmmm. It was good.

So I drank the whole glass. And then had another for good measure.

Thus, I am writing an entry on my blog at 12:41 AM. When I should be sleeping.

It's just so hard to be still under the covers when my legs won't stop twitching.

The Irrefutable Logic of a Four-Year-Old

Subtitled: Who's Fixing A Snack On First.

Overhead this morning in the Love Well household:

"Mom, I want a snack

"OK, buddy, what do you want?"

"I want you to get it for me."

"Ohh-kay. But what do you want?"

"I want a snack. I want you to get it for me!"

"Buddy, I need to know what you want for a snack. I’d be happy to get it for you, but you have to tell me what you want to eat."

"I don’t want to tell you. I want you to know! And if you don't know, I'm not going to tell you!"

Wow. Good thing we grow out of that stage.

A Quick Note from Pitiful Central

I'm over at the new place today, thinking about birthdays and looking for suggestions on how to make the actual birth date special when you've already had a party.

In other news (wow, those broadcasting skills sure do come in handy), Teyla woke up at 1:00 AM with a fever. Even with Tylenol in her system, she's hot and whimpery. I think I'm going to spend the rest of the day playing mattress.


I ate pizza for dinner.

Three-day-old pepperoni pizza, with shreds of tin foil stuck to the bottom.

Need I say that Corey is on another business trip?

We ate “dinner” while the baby screamed. I think I heard her sob, “Teeth are not worth this! Fie on life in general!” But I could be wrong.

Dinner was pinched and weary. The older kids and I ate our soggy meal in strained conversation, even after the baby ended the crying jag.

Then, without warning, the evening turned.

The kids ate all their carrots and grapes without whining, which earned them a treat – ice cream, of course. I settled Teyla back into the high chair so she could sample oatmeal cereal and pureed apples. Connor laughed hysterically at her screwed up expressions. She, in turn, beamed at him, her favorite big brother.

I suggested we load Teyla into the stroller for an after dinner walk. We grabbed stale hamburger buns to feed the geese that sometimes loiter at the neighborhood pond and hit the sidewalk.

It was a perfect summer evening. The air felt like a down comforter – warm and snuggly
on my skin. The sky was cloudless, the setting sun throwing stripes of peach and fuchsia in the azure sky. The kids laughed and nibbled on the geese’s bread as they walked. The baby gazed around at the world with knowing eyes. “Ahhh, yes. Paradise. I remember it well.”

And just like that, everything was right with the world again.

Six Months

Several of you commented on Teyla's picture on this post. "Is that really the baby?" "She's all grown up!"


Yes. 'Tis true. Teyla is growing up -- and at lightening speed, it seems. She just passed the six-month mark, and in many ways, she seems older.

So, since no one can resist pictures of a cute baby -- especially on a Sunday night or Monday morning, when most of us are looking for an excuse to linger over the computer -- I give you the pictorial celebration, "Teyla: Six Months."

(Sorry. My wicked titling skills are a little rusty. At one point, I was able to write headlines like "Head Deadhead Dead" when Jerry Gracia died. My proudest editorial moment. Oh how the mighty have fallen.)

Teyla remains a sweet, happy baby. But as her unique personality emerges, we're learning she's also a go-getter. For example, a few weeks ago, I heard a weird sound over the baby monitor around sunrise. It sounded like static. Or maybe a quiet waterfall. I went to investigate and found this:

Teyla was chewing on the antennae.

The baby monitor is out of the crib now.

Besides, it's largely superfluous at this point. Connor and Natalie sleep in the room right next to Teyla. They almost always hear her wake up before I do, and they race into her room to witness those first morning smiles.

She's mastered the art of sitting unassisted, which has opened new doors for her. For example, she can now ride shotgun in the stroller.

Continuing the family tradition of using the stroller tray as a chew toy. Do they flavor those things or what?

She's also able to sit in restaurant highchairs now.

That came in particularly handy at camp.

Of course, the fact that she's joined us at the dinner table means she's more pitiful than a puppy begging for table scraps. "Please, sir. Can I have some more?" At camp, we kept her busy by giving her orange wedges (which she loved).

However, those juicy oranges weren't her first taste of people food. In mid-June, we went to a parade in a neighboring city. It was such a perfect night.

The parade participants kept trying to give Teyla candy and other paraphernalia; such is the vortex of her cuteness. Which is how we ended up like this.

"Take a picture, honey! It's her first solid!"

In my defense: She's our third. We're tired. I figure by the time she's 16, we'll just hand her the keys to the car and say, "Have a good weekend in Mexico, honey. Remember not to drink the water or eat too many street tacos."

I kid, I kid. You can never eat too many street tacos.

Anyway. She gripped that frozen confection like it was pure sugar. Which it was. I ended the night covered in a sticky, banana film.

So, of course, at camp we had to up the ante.

Ice cream. Yeah, baby.

Wow. I'm getting off track. And hungry. Where was I?

Oh yes! The really big news this month is that Teyla is mobile. She's starting to crawl; in fact, she's already perfected the army crawl. (Which, honestly, just cracks me up. It's like being treated to an infant version of "Saving Private Ryan" each night as I make dinner.) She can spin 360-degrees on her tummy. And I'm already having to rescue her from corners and table legs and other obstacles that have the audacity to get in her way.

(No moving pictures for this one, but you can see she's up on her knees, right? It'll have to do for now.)

Other big news: Her first tooth broke through on July 4. ("Freeeeedooooom!") And its twin made its debut today. (I think I will call them Knox and Vivienne.)

All in all, we're still in love.

Corey adores her.

Connor adores her.

Natalie adores her.

(Hey, come on. With all that hair, she's just screaming for some accoutrement from her big sister.)

And I adore her. How could I not?

Teyla, you are sunshine in our world. I can't wait to see what God has in store for you.

I just hope His plan doesn't include walking at eight months.

Right Lord?


Six months ago today, I was lying in a hospital bed.

I was sore, I was exhausted, I was re-training my legs to move without wobbling like Jell-O, thanks to a kick-butt epidural.

But I was also giddy and energized maybe even a little delirious over the sweet little girl lying next to me.

Giving birth is like that. It's hard work and heavy breathing and sweat and tears and then -- boom -- the baby arrives, and labor suddenly seems worth it.

Ironically, I didn't spend most of Teyla's six-month birthday yesterday (does Hallmark make a card for that?) staring into her twilight blue eyes or tickling her taut, round belly or counting the creases and dimples in her chubby arms and legs.

Well, OK. I did that a little.

Mostly, I spent the day laboring on a different baby. Or, better said, I spent the day as a digital doula, cheering on Stephanie of Adventures in Babywearing as she birthed the brand new site 5 Minutes for Parenting, one of the new sister sites of the uber-popular 5 Minutes for Mom.(And she's going to do it again in 10 weeks, seeing as she's currently 30 weeks pregnant with a baby girl. Go take a nap, Steph!)

As managing editor, it was Stephanie's job to put together a team of writers to contribute to the new site each week -- and I'm incredibly amazed and honored to tell you, I'm part of that team. Also on board -- and here's where it gets crazy -- are Beck of Frog and Toad are Still Friends and Veronica of Toddled Dredge and Megan of Fried Okra (in addition to Stephanie, of course). And if you don't already know each and every one of those bloggers, go right now and spend at least 20 minutes reading their sites, because they are super talented with unique voices and strong story-telling skills and humor to boot. I have no idea how I ended up on the same team. Maybe they need someone to play right field?

So come on over to my new home-away-from-home and give everyone a shout out. I'm excited as can be -- and this time, I didn't even have to wear a hospital gown.

I love the sisterhood of motherhood.

Is there a Word for Phobia of Children?

Good gravy, yesterday was tough.

My brain is still numb, my shoulders still clenched in an upright and locked position. I just now realized I forgot to call my sister back last night. (Sorry Em!) And I do believe I didn't go to the bathroom yesterday until I was getting ready for bed. (I developed a bladder with camel-like properties when I was working in the newsroom. Because if there's breaking news and you're in the control booth calling the shots, potty breaks are not an option.) (Too much information, perhaps? I can't tell anymore.)

But as grueling as my day was, it was worse for my good friend Mindy.

While I was sleeping in Saturday morning, trying to recover from a week of camp that was crowned by BBQ and fireworks as soon as we unpacked the car, Mindy was driving across Wisconsin, with the plan to spend a week visiting friends and family in Minnesota.

Then, life turned. Her tires snagged on an uneven shoulder. She over-corrected. Her car rolled like a tumbleweed, eventually coming to rest in the highway median as a tangle of shattered steel and glass.

Miraculously, neither she nor her kids sustained life-threatening injuries. Her two-year-old walked away without a scratch. Her six-year-old only had scratches and abrasions from her seat belt and flying glass.

Mindy escaped without any broken bones or internal injuries. But it took about 60 stitches to close the gashes in her face and arm, and she's sporting more bruises than a peach shipped from Georgia to Wyoming by USPS.

Her sweet husband, who wasn't accompanying his family on this trip, rushed to the scene. I first heard about the accident from him. Rightly horrified, I offered to help any way I could.

Thus, I found myself parenting five children yesterday.

Let the chaos begin.

First, I want to say that Mindy's kids are absolute delights. They are sweet, creative and compliant. Her six-year-old and my six-year-old would be best friends if they lived closer. And her two-year-old boy is like a towheaded package of love; he's just a snuggle-monster with a smile to melt your heart.

But having them here yesterday reminded me -- with startling clarity -- that I would be the worst child-care provider in the history of mankind. When
I'm responsible for other people's children, I'm a nervous wreck. I'm jumpy. I can't focus. I feel completely out of my comfort zone. I find myself stalking the clock, willing it to move faster so I can discharge my charges.

It's the reason I never babysat, why I'd rather clean the church bathrooms with a toothbrush than work in children's ministry and why I adore my sister. (I would say worship, because it's close to that. But it seems sacrilegious, somehow.) Emily is like a Pied Piper of children. Ever since she was in middle school, kids have followed her around the church hallways, vying for her attention. Cries of "Emmy! Emmy" echo off the walls. When I was 15 and she was 9, I passed off all (read: two) of my babysitting jobs to her. And I think the parents involved in those situations were more than grateful. Today, Emily works in the children's ministry department at our dad's church, a job which perfectly fits her skill set and passion.

And then there's me -- the woman who has to fight the urge to hide in the laundry room while other kids play like angels with her own kids in her own home.


I've felt guilty about this for years, and the guilt only intensified when I had my own kids and was amazed to find that I actually enjoyed them and my new role as mother. Shouldn't I be able to deal with all kids now that I understand, on some level, what a gift they are?

But I've come to realize, we all have different gifts. Children aren't mine. I can certainly step up when I need to -- and watching Mindy's kids yesterday was a blessing to me, because it's what I could do to help her in a teeny-tiny way. I also signed up to work at VBS this year, which terrified me from the day I signed up until the day it was over. And I survived. Since I wasn't the primary teacher for our class, I even enjoyed myself in the middle of the week, for a few minutes.

So I try not to guilt myself. But some days, I just can't fight the angst. Am I the only freak out here who is kid-a-phobic?

Meanwhile, Back at the Townhouse

And ... we're back! Thanks for enduring that 10-day intermission. I wanted to have cheesy muzak playing for you in my absence, but then I remembered that I like you. So I resisted the urge.

Family camp was unspeakably fun. Which is a bit of an oxymoron if you know me, because I can't help but speak if fun is being had. A more complete wrap-up is coming later this week.

Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite.

Also, as you may have noticed, I survived my week-long Internet fast. More on that to come, as well, as I have a tempest of thoughts swirling in my brain from my Corey-motivated self-imposed break.

What's new with you?