...because we all have our motley moments!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Finding Heaven

Disclaimer: This week, I am sharing a winding train of thought that has hijacked my mind. I promise, I am not trying to preach to anyone, but I am just sharing some of the things I have been trying to wrap my mind around.

When I was a teenager, Belinda Carlisle sang a catchy little tune called “Heaven is a place on Earth.” Despite my love for almost ALL 80s pop hits, I couldn’t listen to this song. I love the tune, but I was raised strictly Baptist, and I was pretty sure the lyrics were sacrilegious. If we couldn’t play cards in the church, listening to this song would require a lot of forgiveness. Contrary to what Belinda thinks, I do know Heaven isn’t a place on earth, but I don’t know much about Heaven at all.

Even though I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, I am still a baby in Christ. I am battling a lot of my legalistic teachings from my childhood and trying to learn about God and how he feels about me. Last week, I spent a lot of time debating this passage, which is one of my favorites:

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I can’t help but read this verse and wonder how it applies to people in dire circumstances? I believe God does carry us through the tough times, but how can my sister-in-law’s cancer be a light burden? Or what about my friend Chrissy, whose husband was killed in Afghanistan? Surely her burden of raising four small children on her own isn’t light?

To thicken the plot, my week began with startling news. On Sunday, our new pastor said that we would have to work in heaven! Can you believe that? Since I have never heard of this before, I had to run this past my fact checker, Matt. Matt is my good friend Carrie’s husband and is studying for his masters in Divinity. I knew he could either confirm or deny this shocking idea - not that his answer would change my mind. I still, of course, want to go to heaven, and I have always wondered what on earth we would do to pass eternity. Matt confirmed that yes; we would probably be working in heaven. He gave me a great answer, which is in part:

"If you look at the Garden of Eden, Adam had work prior to the fall – to tend that which God gave him dominion over. The fall turned this work into toil and added thorns and thistles. I think of it as an environment where everyone wants you to succeed, and wants to help however they can. There was a metaphor I heard for humility that might fit what work would be like in heaven. The metaphor had to do with creating the greatest cathedral the world has ever known, and then being just as pleased when someone else creates one that surpasses it. Think about it this way – when God created the heavens and the earth, he said that it was good. In fact He is the master builder, and so there isn’t anything conceivable that would be better. If that was the case when he made the world to begin with, then probably heaven won’t be totally different? Of course this is an area that you probably shouldn’t hold to strong of a view either way; it’s just up for wondrous speculation."

Later in the week, I was talking with my good friend Jody who is also very knowledgeable in the ways of God. I was wondering out loud about the irony of this passage in Matthew, and she gave me the answer I was looking for. The word yoke here, when translated from either Greek or Hebrew (she told me, but I forgot which one) means a double-sided yoke used to pull a team of oxen. Since I am not Greek, Hebrew, or an Oxen farmer, it is easy to see why I did not know this. Jesus uses this illustration to say that he will be pulling on the other side of the yoke with us. Holy Chicken Cacciatore! The girl is so bright!

As I am trying to sort this out and reconcile the idea of extreme suffering with a light burden, I begin to remember that being a Christian does not entitle me to a Christian Protection Program. For some reason, my mind keeps defaulting to a rule somewhere in my brain and nowhere in the Bible that says being a Christian is easy and comfortable. God never suggests this, and the Bible is filled with examples of the contrary. Jesus’ life was filled with persecution and suffering. The apostle Paul wrote Philippians, one of my favorite books, from a jail cell! Matthew 5:45 explains, “…He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Earlier in the very same chapter, Jesus teaches that Christians will be persecuted and rewarded eternally for their hardship.

Finally, this morning, I was able to make sense of all of my ramblings. I need to have a stronger vision of heaven. To achieve a goal, you have to know what you’re reaching towards. The problem isn’t with God or his teachings; it is with my limited understanding and short-sightedness. I loved Fawnda’s blog yesterday because it brought back memories of those early days with Alex. Having a child is the best TANGIBLE gift from God I have received so far in life. I love Alex so much, that I cannot imagine a better gift, but I do have a better gift – ETERNAL LIFE! When I wanted to get pregnant, I was acutely aware of the fact that God’s eternal life for me was unearned, undeserved and un-top-able. Philippians 3:14 states, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:20 goes on to say, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Somewhere along the way, I started thinking too earthly and not enough eternally.

So, Motley Moms, what do you think Heaven will be like?

Sunday, August 30, 2009


The other day while I was cleaning the bathroom I found a ball, along with other toys, behind the toilet. I laughed and thought about how different cleaning our house has become since the arrival of our little king. 10 months ago there were not toys hiding behind the toilet! Instead of being annoyed at it, I was thankful. I was thankful that I had a little boy to throw toys behind my toilet! (there is something I never thought I'd say). Not that I love to clean up all the time after my little king who throws toys EVERYWHERE, but I can be thankful for having a son who I love so much! It makes the cleaning a little bit better!

There are a lot of women who long to stay up night and rock a baby to sleep, to pick up toys after a toddler, to clean a poopy diaper. I was one of them. I don't want this to be a big guilt trip... I am offering a different perspective.

What are some unusual ways that you find yourself being thankful for your kids?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Health Care Crisis - Guest Post by Lita

A couple of months ago, I went to see the doctor because I had been feeling tired. What spurred me to actually go was the fact that I was going to be turning 38 in July. The year my sister turned 38, she was diagnosed with a thyroid condition. One of her first symptoms was fatigue. She had encouraged me to have my bloodwork done, since there is a genetic component to thyroid issues.

So after explaining to the doctor about my sister, and my fatigue, and the fact that I have two children under the age of 5 and I just know that’s the real reason I’m so tired, but I just have to find out for sure, the doctor gave me a prescription for lab work – a complete blood analysis plus check for folic acid and B12. I went to LabCorp with my prescription in hand at 6:45 am on Friday, July 3. The sign in the window read, “CLOSED JULY 3rd DUE TO HOLIDAY.” So I went back home and spent two more tired days at home until I could go back.

I returned on Monday, again at 6:45 am, along with twenty other people! Everyone quickly formed a line to sign in and proceeded to sit down and wait. Everyone was thinking the same thing, I’m sure. “This is going to take forever.” To pass the time, I picked up a dog-eared Redbook magazine dated sometime last year. As I waited, I could hear the elderly couple a few seats away debating if they were going to stay and wait or go to breakfast. I was hungry too, since fasting was required before the blood draw.

Considering the number of people she needed to attend to, the woman behind the counter was exceptionally efficient and friendly. She called us up quickly, one at a time, and confirmed what the regulars were there for and added information about the new patients to her database. Finally, everyone was seated.

Then a man came in and approached the counter. His hair was disheveled and he was very thin. It looked like he was ready for a flood because his pant legs were much too short for his lanky frame. A thin belt held up the worn jeans he had on. I couldn’t hear what he told the woman at the counter, but I did hear her say in her commanding voice, “I need you to come around and step inside please.” She then told him that before she could do any additional lab work today, he would need to pay his balance in full. I actually could make out his quiet response. He said, “But I don’t have that kind of money.” They stood there looking at each other for several moments, and then she said, “Well, I’m sorry I can’t help you.”

The man quietly walked out of her office door into the waiting room and headed slowly, outside. I could see him sitting on the windowsill outside of Pizzano’s. He pulled out a cell phone and called someone. Then he lit a cigarette. And then he walked away.

A few things went through my mind in those short minutes. One was, I wonder how much he owes the lab? Another was, if I asked everyone in this room (which now numbered probably close to 30) to donate $5 to help this man, we could hand him $150 right here and now. If I asked for $10, there would be $300. And it didn’t look like anyone at the lab that day was hurting too much. Then another voice in my head said, “You don’t know his story. He’s got a cell phone. He must have some money, some means to handle this on his own. Let it go.” But ever since that day, I can’t stop thinking about him. I wish I wouldn’t have let it go.

Years ago, when I was fresh out of college, I lived in Seattle with my then boyfriend who was in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Our circle of friends was made up entirely of optimistic young Catholics fresh out of college looking for some real world experience to put on their resumes. One friend in particular worked at a men’s shelter in downtown Seattle where panhandling was not uncommon. Rather than hand out money, which would likely go toward the purchase of alcohol or drugs, Adam handed out resource cards he made on the computer – listing shelters, emergency food banks, counseling services and their phone numbers. This young Republican insisted that there were plenty of agencies and programs out there that could help the needy and disenfranchised.

Well, on my drive home that morning I thought about Adam and his cards and I wondered what local agency or program would handle helping this man here in Lake Wales? I wish I had known. I wish I wouldn’t have been afraid to step out of my comfort zone, sitting there reading my magazine, waiting my turn so I could go back home to my home and my family.

When I got home, my husband said he sees the same scene on a regular basis in Orlando where he works as a firefighter. People who can’t afford health insurance or who don’t have jobs that provide it or those folks who simply have no means to provide for themselves (often due to drug problems) are very often the people they have to respond to in the middle of the night. These people have no network. They often have lost family and friends. They have often lost themselves.

So here I am, finding myself awake in the middle of the night asking myself these questions, “Am I my brother’s keeper? Is it enough to donate my time or money to churches or to causes? What kind of moral imperative do I have to answer to when we see strangers in need? What will I do the next time I am confronted with an unplanned choice in my daily life? Are non-governmental organizations and faith-based programs able to provide enough care to the disenfranchised without seeking the aid of our federal government’s dollars? Is health care a right for every American? What would Jesus have done?”

What about you? What will you do?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sea World

A few weeks ago, the tae kwon do school my family attends announced a trip to Sea World. Everyone would meet there, get the group discount, then go on their merry way to enjoy the park. At the time I thought, "Pshaw! Yeah, right! As if I would take my boys to Sea World by myself!" The day before the trip, though, I reconsidered. Some friends were going to a bounce house place in Lakeland and I had been invited and I knew my kids would like it, but...Sea World beckoned. Truth be told, I wanted to take them somewhere by myself. Most of the time I spend with my kids is what I call "maintenance." You know - feeding, bathing, changing, correcting, driving, etc. Play dates are fabulous, but I don't get time with my children. My kids play with others and I talk to the moms. Which is great, don't get me wrong, I just wanted to do something special with my boys. So I decided to go to Sea World.
We met at the tkd school and drove over in a caravan. On the way, the boys and I talked about what we would see there. I started a song, "Sea World, Sea World! We're going to Sea World! We get to see pen-guins! We get to see ott-ers!" Ethan took up the song, "And Sham-pooooo!" I suppressed a giggle. When we got to the park, I pushed Micah in the stroller and Ethan walked along with us, stopping every few steps to gaze at the roller coaster above us. We saw the penguins, we went into the Shark Encounter, we stopped to change a diaper and have a snack. We then went to the Shamu (Shampoo) show. Each time the whales dove underwater, Micah held up his hands and looked around as if to say, "Where'd they go?" We ate lunch under a pavilion - strawberries, turkey sandwiches, chips and salsa, with plenty of Sprite for Ethan and milk for Micah - their favorites. We caught the Elmo & Abby show, where both boys danced and Ethan figured out one of the mysteries before the characters did.
Then we went to the playground. If you've never been to the Sea World playground, let me tell you about it. It's awesome - steps lead up to a labyrinth of tunnels and nets. By this time Micah was asleep so I told Ethan, "I'm going to sit right here on this bench. Go ahead up and play." I didn't see him again for 30 minutes. I walked all over, pushing the stroller, then carrying Micah once he woke up. I even tramped up the steps, but I couldn't go in the tunnels or climb the nets holding the baby, so I went back down in a panic. Fortunately, there were lots of people in the park I know from tkd, so I called my friend Melany. She came right away and I climbed up, over, and through (getting an excellent workout, by the way), finally finding Ethan, who was none the wiser to my anguish. I bribed him to come down with a promise to ride the kiddie roller coaster. Melany was gracious enough to keep Micah while Ethan and I did this ("Did you like it?" "No! It was bumpy!"), then we decided to head home.
Halfway out of the park, it started raining. No, pouring. No, teeming rain. Melany was also leaving with her family, so she carried Micah while I convinced Ethan it was fun to stomp in puddles, like her son Logan was doing ahead of him. By the time we got to the car we were drenched. My dear friend helped me change the boys and we headed home in the storm. Micah and I "talked" about all we had seen while Ethan caught a short nap.
It was a great day!

A Strange Thing.

A strange thing happened to me today.

As I was about to enter the mall today, a guy came up to me and said he "needed help". He told me that his car was low on gas and needed my help. He didn't ask for money, but he acted like he wanted to speak to me about it.

Ok. The part that was weird was that it wasn't your typical scummy guy that just wanted a hand-out. This guy was neatly dressed in a newish looking polo shirt and khaki pants. He was very clean-cut and nice looking.

His look totally threw me off, but my internal warning bells starting ringing big-time and I told him that mall security would be here soon and he could get help from them. I then hightailed it to mall entrance and reported him to the mall office who in turn alerted mall security. When I left, mall security was out at the lot and the guy was nowhere to be found.

I found out later that he was also spotted at Lowe's and he asked a male friend of mine for money with the same story. My friend thought he was probably looking for some cash to feed a drug habit with. Who knows.

The reason why I'm telling this story is to remind everyone that danger doesn't always look scary.

This guy looked friendly and approachable. I even had my doubts as I walked away that maybe he really did need my help with something and that maybe I should have been more helpful. Then I thought about how women go missing every year in parking lots just like today's. Is this how it happens? A friendly-looking guy approaches them and they try to be helpful and then get taken away? Could be.

As I drove away from the mall, I thought about how it could have ended differently. What if I had walked toward him? What if he made me get in his car? What if something really bad happened to me because I just wanted to be helpful?

This happened mid-afternoon on an ordinary day. Girls, be careful out there and don't be afraid to be suspicious because it might just save your life.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nothing to fear...except sharks in the potty.

This weekend our son had his first experience with getting stitches. He slipped in the bathtub on Sunday morning, and he needed four sutures under his chin as a result. Thankfully we had a fairly empty emergency room and while we were there for about two and a half hours, it could have been much worse I'm sure.

The doctor and nurses were very sweet to him, and they "wrapped him up like a burrito" before they began the procedure. Our son actually climbed onto the table himself and let them do the wrapping without a single complaint. The doctor gave him the shot of pain killer around the cut, and he didn't even flinch. While the doctor sewed, our little guy talked to them about his favorite cartoon characters. My husband and I just stood there, shocked, and looked on.

Personally, I am a big baby. I ask for the small needle when I get blood drawn, and even then I hyperventilate a little before that first pin prick. I have to be sedated before dental procedures, and one of the best days of my life was when I discovered the flu "mist."

To recap, the little guy has no fear in the doctor's office. Honestly, he cried for about two minutes when the accident actually happened, so the whole event wasn't a big deal for him. Let's broaden the scope a little, though. Since we've moved into our new place, we've had a problem with spiders wanting to nest on the back porch. They worry me, and he thinks they're pretty cool. He isn't afraid to talk to strangers, and he will climb just about anything. We live on the edge of a heart attack every day, but the child could have a "No Fear" shirt made in his honor.

So, then, what baffles me is this: He is afraid of sharks. Not in the ocean, mind you, but in our new house. He says that we have sharks here. We don't even live close to a lake. He insists that the lights stay on as he sleeps at night because of them. The other day we were having a discussion about going to the potty, and visibly disturbed, he told me that he didn't want to go to the potty because he was afraid. There are sharks in the potty.

Hmmm--Is there a spray for that?

Have a great Tuesday, and best wishes to those of you sending your little ones to school this week!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Seussical Summer

“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.”
~ Dr. Seuss, One fish two fish red fish blue fish

After my heavy post last week, I thought I would try to post something lighter. Last week, I read a few of our Dr. Seuss books to Alex at bedtime, and I got inspired. If I were friends with Dr. Seuss himself, this is probably how he would sum up the last month with the Carvers.

A month ago we moved cross-state.
My husband didn’t hesitate
to drive this huge gigantic van
in the back of our caravan.
But soon after the trip began
we had to pull over and talk to the Man.
The state trooper was firm but kind.
DH was following too close behind.
That’s my wife, my husband said.
Oh said the Man. His face was red.
A warning was our souvenir,
and then my DH kept off my rear.

This one wants to ride the bus.
Every day he makes a fuss
when I put him in the car
to drive to school. Here we are.
But I must keep him safe you see,
from big mean kids who bully.
But this one is convinced he’ll see
Dana and Roy from Hoot, the movie.
It’s so hard when we’re young to see
what’s pretend and what’s reality.

Gaining Weight
You cannot trust your underwear.
This is a fact I’m sad to share.
They watch you eat and eat and eat
foods way too salty, fat and sweet
and then they grow and grow and grow.
They grow in silence; you won’t know
until it is to late my friend
with ten new pounds on your hind end.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We all scream for Ice cream... well, most of us anyways!

We went to Culver's today for lunch. My Hubby got a meal and a blueberry sundae. At Culver's they give you your drinks and ice cream treats first and than you wait for them to make your hot food. While we were waiting for our food our son saw the sundae and started saying "blueberry, blueberry..."(he is 18 months). Our son LOVES blueberries, one of his first words was blueberry. So DH put a little on the spoon and stated to try and feed the ice cream to our Little king. Our son shook his head and said "no no."

He must not know what he is doing... so we tried again this time saying "yum yum, ice cream, mmmmmmmm yummy"

He shook his head again and said "yucky" for the first time.

I knew the day would come when my son would tell me that some food was yucky.... I just did not think it would be about ice cream!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kindergarten? Already?!

Our oldest child is no longer a preschooler. I can't believe it. He starts Kindergarten on Monday and he's really excited. His backpack is all packed with glue sticks, scissors and folders and his school t-shirts are ready for the first week of school.

I feel really good about his school and his teacher. She is so sweet and loving. Just what KID 1 needs after a rather rough, stressful summer. And it just so happens I taught with her before I had kids, my mom taught at the same school, and my mother-in-law taught with her many years ago in Frostproof! I also graduated with her son. It's uncanny, really, that we have so many little connections with this teacher. I'm beginning to think it was God's way of smoothing this transition and easing my anxiety.

His classroom is bright and organized, inviting children to step in and find an activity. The school is welcoming, full of happy, energized teachers and administrators, and just around the lake from our house. I look forward to getting involved and volunteering on campus.

I know our son is ready for this new world of backpacks, new friends, reading, writing, and 'rithmatic. He will now spend the majority of his waking hours away from us, learning and growing in ways we may not even realize, for the next thirteen years. I'm not entirely sure that I'm ready for this.

For those of you who have seen your babies off to school, how well did you do on the first day? Was it hard to watch them walk down the sidewalk, dwarfed by their backpack and the older students striding confidently to their classrooms, knowing that this is just the beginning of your child's life away from you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rite of Passage

If you have a daughter, then you know all about the earring controversy.

How old should a child be before she gets her ears pierced? Is she too young? Is the hole in the right place? What method/place is the BEST to get the piercing done? Can she handle the pain? Can YOU handle HER handling the pain? Is it just a decoration or rite of passage?

I've been through it 3 times in my lifetime. First, with myself. I can't remember my ears getting pierced because my Mom did it herself with a sewing needle when I was about a few weeks old. That's how it was done back in the day if you had a Hispanic mother. I wore those 24K gold ball earrings with style I'm sure! There was no doubt that I was a girl with those things in my ears.

Because of my story, it never dawned on me that it was any big deal to get your ears pierced. I totally didn't understand why my pre-teen friends from middle school were so excited to FINALLY get the OK from their parents to get theirs pierced. I'm like, "Big Deal."

When I had my first little girl, I COULDN'T WAIT to get her ears pierced. I was however a little more civilized and had my doctor do it. My husband was absolutely horrified! He didn't stop me, but told me that he didn't think it was a good idea. I should have listened to him.

I waited until she was the ripe old age of 3 months. It was all good until the doctor came in and the nurses were all atwitter that he was going to pierce a little baby's ears. I started to have some serious doubts. I should have picked her up right then and there and made a run to the car! I didn't.

Well, this is what happened. Just about when the doc shot the gun into her lobe, she turned her head. The earring shot into the part of the ear where he hadn't put numbing cream! Needless to day she SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER! I was in a state of shock. I should have left again, but of course I didn't so he did the other ear quickly and SHE SCREAMED SOME MORE! I almost passed out. Then, he had to go back and put the earring in the first ear lobe and SHE SCREAMED EVEN LOUDER! That was when I noticed that they were uneven, but there was no way I could utter the words, "Can you re-do it?".

I felt like a murderer. I drove home in tears and just sat for 2 hours rocking her and telling her how sorry I was to let them hurt her like that. I then spent 2 years obsessing that I let my daughter have earring holes that were uneven. The only good thing is that she doesn't remember anything and they don't look too uneven anymore.

Well, daughter #2 comes along and there was NO WAY I was going through that again. That is until she started begging to get her ears pierced like her big sister. So, today was the big day for her to get hers done.

Needless to say, I was a basket of nerves. She knew it would hurt and thought she was ready for it. I knew that I was not. I tried to talk her out of it. No good. She wanted earrings badly.

It was much easier this time. I went to the same doctor because he uses disposible piercing guns and he did a fine job. Just one do over, but her ears were pretty numb so it was OK.

They look fantastic! I am estatic that it is over. The day I dreaded for years came and passed... and I survived.

I think the rite of passage was mine in this instance. I feel like I have crossed over and now have my two girls in "Big Kid School" and they both have their ears pierced.

True Confessions of a SuperMom and A Funny Story

Every now and then when I start to feel like I'm falling behind in this whole mothering thing, I need to give myself a reality check. As confession is good for the soul, I hope you don't mind if I use our dear Motley Moms as my sounding board! Here's what's on my mind today:

  1. I'm not actually a "supermom." I just thought that title was more exciting than, say, "True Confessions of an Average, Run of the Mill Mom." I apologize for any confusion.
  2. I don't like carrots and celery, and I don't expect our son to, either.
  3. Our son watches TV often, and sometimes he sits an inch away from the screen.
  4. I'm not so great at watching our son's every move. This, unfortunately, has resulted in The Great Baby Powder and Boudreaux's Butt Paste Catastrophe of 2008, The Lesser Baby Powder Disaster of 2009, and the Elmer's Glue Incident of yesterday. (Edited to add: The Sharpie Marker Episode of just now while I was blogging.)
  5. I don't like to share, especially when it comes to dessert. If you hear our son say, "That's MINE," he probably heard it from me, and he probably heard it during a situation involving chocolate.
I could go on, but that feels better for today! And now, for what I consider to be the funny story:

While our son was watching Max and Ruby last week (probably an inch away from the screen) he was inspired to make a "mud cake," just like Max's. He worked for several minutes filling his little bucket with dirt, and he brought it to his picnic table and dumped it out. He took his little "shubble" [shovel, for those of you who don't speak toddler], scooped a big chunk of the "cake," and brought it to me. He held the scoop up to me and said, "Here, Mommy, here's your cake!" Like a good little playing-make-believe partner, I got close to his gift, made yummy noises, and pretended to take a bite. His little face twisted into a scowl, and he shook his head. "Mommy, that's DIRT!" he cried with a tinge of disbelief in his voice.

Let's have a laugh today--do you have any funny stories to share? (Feel free to make some confessions, too, if you want--I promise it won't go any further than this blog!)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Girl at War

My sister-in-law Kyann is the bravest girl I know. In March of 2003, Kyann lived alone in Savannah, Georgia. Each day while she was working, her husband Earl was sleeping. For more than six months, she did all of the cleaning, all of the shopping, paid all of the bills, and took care of all of their dogs - all alone. They had only lived in Savannah for two months when Earl left, and Kyann was almost a thousand miles away from her friends and family.

Each night, when she went to bed alone, Earl would get up and set off again to drive endlessly across the open dessert. Earl's Cavalry Regiment was attached to the Army's 3rd ID (Infantry Division). The 3rd ID was the Army's first conventional U.S. unit to enter Baghdad during the 2003 invasion in our war with Iraq. Earl's Unit had an embedded report, so each night Kyann could watch the Bradleys (tank-like vehicles) trek across Iraq towards Baghdad.

Being the first land unit in Iraq brought many challenges. If the unthinkable happened, we would watch it on the news before my sister-in-law would be notified. We would know that something terrible happened before we knew for sure Earl was safe. Camps weren't set up. There were no places to shower, eat or even sleep, not to mention the obvious dangers Earl faced in combat.

Through all of this, Kyann was brave and independent. She wasn't negative and did not complain. I think I cried about her being alone and Earl being in danger more than she did.

Now six years later, Earl is home safe, but Kyann is fighting her own war. In late April, my dear sister-in-law was diagnosed with Stage III Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Just this week, we found out that the cancer is now Stage IV. Inflammatory Breast Cancer is very aggressive, and she is facing an uphill battle, yet true to her nature, Kyann is calm and positive. She never complains. She has not changed any of her daily routine or dished off any wifely or motherly duties. She rarely cries and keeps looking for ways to help others.

I talked to her on Thursday to get the details from her doctor's appointment. In the very same conversation, her good news was that she had decided to put together a team for Louisville's Susan G. Koman Walk for Life. Her example of strength and grace makes me think that God didn't allow this to happen to me largely because he wouldn't have wanted to hear me whine. So, in the spirit of Kyann, I will share with you some quotes I found to help encourage her and maybe me too.

"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are but small matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. " ~ Psalm 34:18

"If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell." ~ Lance Armstrong

"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass." ~ Maya Angelou

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

"Therefore we do not loose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16

Kyann reminds me of 1 Corinthians chapter 13. She is kind and does not envy. She is not proud and doesn't boast. She always protects, always trusts and always perseveres. She will probably be very embarrassed when I tell her I blogged about her. Kyann doesn't want anyone to fuss over her or worry about her, but she is a hero who needs our support. (BTW - The adorable little girl in the photo is her daughter, my one-year-old niece Bella. She looks like me, right?) Will you please pray for Kyann and her family? Please pray for God to guide her to the right treatment at the right time to beat this disease. Also, be advised that in the near future, I will be asking you all to sponsor me as I walk with her in October.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mornings with Beth

I have a 6 AM bible weekly study that meets at my house. When I was telling Karly that she said "Wait! Did you say 6 AM? as in 6 o'clock in the morning? Are you crazy?" Yes I am... it is nice to that cleared up!

Four friends and I meet in my basement each week for a Beth Moore Bible study. This is my first Beth Moore experience. We are doing Believing God. It is a study challenging us: Do you believe God? Or you do simply believe in God? For her studies you watch a video of Beth each week and there are daily "homework" lessons for you to do during the week. We are four weeks in,and I LOVE it! Beth (Can I call her Beth, is it OK to be on a first name basis with Beth Moore?) has a way of grabbing hold of the truth and after you hear her tell you about it, you think "That is what I have been missing!"

The mornings that I have Bible study with Beth I feel charged up! Like I can take on ANYTHING! In this series Beth has 5 principles that she wants us to learn:
  • God is who he says He is.
  • God can do what He says he can do.
  • I am who God says I am.
  • I can do All things through Christ.
  • Gods Word is alive and active in me.

Her whole point is, if we truly believed these thing in our hearts (not just in our heads), we would be living completely different lives!

I am working through the "I am who God says I am" set of lessons this week. I had finished reading about how God has "made us complete as ministers of a new covenant" (2 cor. 3:6) He has given us everything we need to be in ministry with Him. We are made to serve him. That is when I felt it... The nudge of God... it was very very clear! God said "Fawnda I have made you to love middle schoolers... what are you going to do about it?" (You see, I had been thinking about volunteering with the Middle School youth group on Wednesday nights, I know they always need helpers, but I was finding excuses not to: I am busy, what if I am not right for it, would the youth pastor really want ME helping out.) It was clar to me what God was talking about. So, I walked over to my computer and e-mailed the youth pastor that I wanted to help on Wednesday nights and pressed send before I could change my mind! : ) I got an e-mail the next day from our youth pastor telling me that I was an answer to prayer!

How exciting is that?!? I LOVED LOVED LOVED my youth group experience and it shaped me is so many ways. I am so excited to be part of that for these kids.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Being Karly's Younger sister

Karly is on vacation with her family again this week. This is Fawnda posting today. Being the younger sister that I am, I thought you might want to hear some funny stories about Karly from my point of view! She does not know that I am doing this... wont it be a nice surprise for her! ;)

I have to start off by saying that Karly was the BEST older sister I could have asked for. She is more than just a sister, she is my closest friend.

Ok on to the stories!

A Sweet One:
We shard a room for most of our childhood. I am very prone to nightmares. I was so bad, that I had them from watching scooby-doo (yes the cartoon). Often in the middle of the night when I would wake up crying, Karly would be there to comfort me. She would take all of her stuffed animals (she had a lot and they were all better than mine!) and place them around me and tell me they were there to protect me. Can you ask for anything more!

A Boy-Crazy One:
Karly has always been beautiful. Boys would always fall in love with her at first site. Let me tell ya, it was sometimes hard to stand next to the blond beauty! I can vividly remember a trip our family took to a local amusement park, Valley Fair. Karly and I went off on our own for a while (we were probably about 13 and 15 years old). We were standing in line for a roller coaster, the part of the line we were in was right by where the roller coaster would roll by to go up the big hill. While were were standing there, 2 boys starting yelling from the roller coaster "I love you... will you marrying me?.... hey you Blondy... look over here!" They eyes were locked on my sister. This went on for the the whole trip they were climbing up the hill. Do you think they even saw the brunette (me) standing next to her? I don't ether!

The One Where I Had to Break Up With Her Boy-Friend For Her:
If you ever talk with me and Karly, you will see that we have pretty much the same voice and use the same inflections. Often times, people would not believe we were sisters (She is blond with blue eyes and I am brunette with brown eyes) until they talked to us! On the phone it is even harder to tell the difference... my mom has confused us sometimes! So, Karly was going out with this guy. At first she thought he was cute and ok, but he turned out to be some-what of a loser. She felt so bad about breaking up with him, she didn't know if she could do it. So I called him up and pretended to be Karly and broke his heart. It was short conversation, but she owed me big time after that!

The One Where She Becomes A Goddess:
During a week at summer camp Karly came home and had met a guy names Eric, but everyone called him Zeus because he was so good looking he was a "god". Well, Eric found his goddess that week, yep, Karly. Her nickname became: Venus. Let me tell ya, Eric was VERY VERY good looking! (But nothing compared to My Husband of course! ) But, looks are not everything. Karly will tell you that he was cute but not a good looking as her husband, she is head over heels in love with her man!

The One When I knew He Was The One!
Like I said before, Karly was a blond goddess. I had guys talk to me in high school simply because I was Karly's sister. I even had a guy date me because I was her sister (we broke-up after I found that out!) If I dated a guy who did not know Karly, once they met her, they would be like "Wow! Your sister is Hot!" (High school boys are so dumb!) This was none of Karly fault, of course, but still not fun! So when I started dating my husband, I was a little nervous when it came time to meet Karly. I tried to prep him so that he would not be taken off guard and just stare at her. But after he met her is said "I don't see what the big deal is... you are MUCH more pretty than her!" I almost asked him to merry me right there! (He did not mean any disrespect to Karly!)

I will leave you with those... maybe Karly will think twice before leaving town without writing her motley post! : )

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Frozen Treats for the Last Days of Summer

The Little Guy and I decided to make "Cheerios Frozen Bananas" after after I received the recipe in my email (It came in the Dinner Made Easy newsletter from Betty Crocker). We had a blast making them, and he absolutely loved eating them. (Shhh...they're pretty healthy, too!)

We used strawberry yogurt and plain Cheerios. What I like most about this recipe is that there are so many options for the cereal and yogurt, and I can control which ones we use.

It was also a fun activity to do together--I was in charge of the cutting and yogurt dipping, and he was in charge of coating the bananas with the cereal. When they were finally frozen, he got to be the taste-tester, and he devoured one in minutes saying, "Mmmm...good ice cream," while he ate. He wanted it for his dessert after dinner. I can handle that kind of dessert!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Some Big Events For Our Family

In the past week and a half we have had some important events happen in our family!

The first, happened on July 31st. This was the day we had our court hearing to finalize our son's adoption. At 1:30 (or a little after) we walked in to a court room and sat before a judge and answered some questions (what are our names, where do we live, how long have we been married, have we lived in MN longer than a year...) Once we got all of our personal information settled, we were asked if we would love, care, and support our son... Of course we answered "I do" (kinda like getting married!) The judged than signed our Adoption Decree stating that it was in the best interest of the child! Once all the official stuff was done I ask the judge (very respectfully) if we could take some pictures. Here is the one with the judge:

So, now it is official... we are our little king's parents. We have to wait to get his amended birth certificate which will have our names one it, than we can get started on his citizenship.

The second thing that happened was on Aug 5th. It is our son's 9 month anniversary from coming home from Korea. This anniversary is a bigger deal to me than the others have been because our little king was 9 months old when we got custody for him. So, starting Aug 5th, I now have cared for him longer than anyone else. I can now say with confidence- I know him better than anyone else! And each day that passes will strengthen that!

The adotpion process is not an easy one, but each step is petty offical. I kinda like that about it. We were approved for our homestudy, which was like saying "we approve you to be parents". We also had a court hearing to be offically named our sons parents, a judge signed a decree saying it! So, when the hard days come I can look back and think "I have been approved and decreed to be a mom, these people belive I can do it, so I must be able to!"

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I knew moms could dish guilt and I'm sure I'll be guilty (ha - no pun intended) of that in the very near future if I'm not already, but I was not prepared for the amount of guilt I feel on a regular basis as a mother. Recently my husband's uncle died and he drove up to South Carolina for the funeral. He was gone 3 full days and during that time my good friend Lori came over to help me with the kids. Let me just say, having a live-in babysitter is great! One night I went to tae kwon do class while Lori put the kids to bed and the next night I went to kickboxing while she watched them and after I got home I hired a teenager to put them to bed and Lori and I went out with some other ladies for margaritas! The next morning I said to Lori, "I should mow the grass. Will you hang out for a little while so I can do that?" It was terrific, but boy, did I feel guilty. That's a lot of babysitting for my kids to endure. At the same time, my kids love Lori and she loves them. Same with Kelli, the teenager who kept them for Margarita Friday. Plus, I spend a lot of time with my kids. A LOT. I'm with them all day, every day. And by no means do I think working mothers who put their kids in daycare should feel bad about it, so why do I feel so guilty about leaving my kids with a babysitter for a couple of hours to go out with friends or my husband or to exercise, babysitters that they love and who love them?
Another thing that makes me feel guilty is when I deny my kids something so I can have something else. Not material goods, usually it's activities. My son loves to watch train videos on YouTube. I like to blog and waste time on Facebook. Still, sometimes I feel guilty telling him no, go play when I'm on the computer and he wants it.
Ugh, mother guilt. I never knew it was so bad on the other side.
Someone asked me once how I want my children to see me. I said I want them to think I'm strong, intelligent, and tough. So maybe I should stop feeling guilty. After all, what I show them when I leave them with babysitters are these things: It's important for Mommy and Daddy to spend time together without you; our marriage matters. Mommy needs to exercise; exercise is important for all of us. Mommy needs time with her friends; we all need good friends. Also, it is not safe for you to be in the yard while someone is using a lawn mower!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

School work

School is going to begin again and I am going to be ready for it!

I may not be doing everything right, but there is one thing that is working for me. I took the advice of some of those parenting magazines and set-aside a "working" space for each of my kids.

I love it!
They love it!

It is their place to color, write, read, doodle, whatever.

Here's a pic of them coloring at their respective tables this morning. The only trick to the whole thing is to have them keep their areas neat. If they can't find the table because of clutter, then they won't be tempted to use it to work on.
How are you getting your kids ready for school or homeschool?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dear Motley Moms...

I was all set today to share the story of my family versus the Brown Widow spiders on our back porch, but I need a favor instead. PLEASE HELP US! WE ARE LIVING WITH A PRESCHOOLER!

Our son is almost three, and it has been a crazy summer. We traveled for almost a month, and when we returned home we closed on our new house the next day, so since our return we have been packing and moving and shopping, etc. We have tried to keep our routines as constant as possible, but he has thrown a curve ball into the schedule. Our little guy has been a trooper throughout this whole ordeal, and his behavior has been amazingly stellar for the most part. The exception: When it is time to change clothes, change diapers, take baths, and do anything that requires our grown-up help, the charming little guy says, "Don't get me!" and starts running around our newly acquired living room furniture, laughing hysterically as he does so. When we finally catch him (he's pretty fast), he screams and cries, "Noooo, Daddy/Mommy got me!!!!" What follows can get pretty ugly.

We have tried playing along, standing our ground, trapping him between the two of us and the sofa...it's pretty exhausting and not a lot of fun. When we have a schedule to keep, such as getting to church on time, it's even less fun. These episodes, I'm ashamed to say, usually end in me yelling and him crying. Yet, he continues to do it. Every time. And we don't know what to do.

So, Motley Mommies, does this sound familiar to anyone? How can we express to our son that it's great to have fun and play games, but certain things like getting ready for bed and getting ready to leave the house simply can't involve a high-speed obstacle-course chase? I appreciate your feedback!

On another note, thank you for your patience the past two Tuesdays--I apologize for not blogging, but until the end of last week we had been completely without internet service in our house and blogging at the library with a two-year-old in tow was not my idea of a good time. Also, if anyone is interested in the spider story I can post it over at my personal blog--I know Pam will be disappointed to miss it. ;)

Monday, August 3, 2009

This week, for the third time in my life, I am packing up and leaving my hometown, Mattoon, Illinois. If breaking up is hard to do, cutting ties with my hometown has been even more difficult. I was born in this town at the old hospital. My dad and his sisters grew up here, so needless to say, my grandparents lived here. I was baptized here, and I learned to drive on these city streets. My first job was here at Kmart, one of the anchor stores of our mall. In 1991, I graduated from high school here. For 10 years, I worked here, and my parents and brothers still live here.

Each summer, Mattoon hosts Bagelfest, the world’s largest FREE bagel breakfast. (Maybe we should have our Motley Moms Retreat here one year. The festival is delightfully tacky, so it would give a whole new meaning to the term Motley.) We lived here when we were going through our infertility nightmare, and I began running to deal with the stress. I have so many great memories of early morning runs around Lytle Park and down Western Avenue. Lytle Park is home to our town’s swimming pool, which has a great kids’ play space, and it is beautifully landscaped. Western Avenue is lined with stately old homes and tall shade trees. Mattoon is also home to the ORIGINAL Burger King. They serve great thin fried hamburgers, and the guy who calls your order’s number has an instantly recognizable nasally way of saying “Forty-Four.” Even Alex can imamate him.

Mattoon is also home to my favorite pizza place in the whole entire world, Villa Pizza. When my friend Michelle moved to Texas, her family would freeze Villa pizzas to take to her, and I once drove home from Indiana to have Villa pizza on my birthday. It was totally worth the three hour drive. When I was in high school, my first date worked at Villa, and I think he still works there today. Tomorrow night, we will be eating Villa pizza for our last night in town.

Even though I have a great love for this town, I am certain I do not want to live here. I need to strike out on my own and live on my own terms. Maybe it is because I am a complex blend of an independent peacemaker. I want to do things my way, but I don’t want to ruffle any feathers while doing it. Maybe this just isn’t the place God has in mind for us. Whatever the reason, I will once again be leaving my town and my family. I think this time will be easier, and I really hope it sticks.

Exactly one year ago today, the three Carvers loaded our pets and the last of our possessions to move down to Florida. It was so sad to leave my family and friends, but we were filled with promise and excitement of a new adventure. God’s timing is so ironic. I would have never guessed our lives would be starting over again just one year later. This proves God has a sense of humor. I am looking forward to the new town and new possibilities, but thanks to my other Motley Moms, I don’t have to be so desperate to find friends. You girls were lifesavers when I landed the strange new world that is Florida. Thanks to your friendship that spans miles, I can always have girls close to my heart. I have learned so much from you, and I am looking forward to taking you with me on my next move! Maybe someday you will all decide to pile in a van and meet at my house. (I know it would take an act of God for such craziness, but stranger things have happened.)

So just like Willie Nelson and Charles Kuralt, this week, we will be on the road again. I look forward to sharing all of my motley-ness with you from the Pacific Northwest. OK, it’s not really the Pacific Northwest, but when you’ve spent the last winter in a tropical paradise, it might as well be.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Last week I volunteered at V.B.S (Vacation Bible School) at our church. I help run the preschool group and I am the "crazy skit lady" at the beginning of the day. Our theme this year was Crocodile Dock (swamp theme) I was Firefly Fawnda, each day I would introduce the bible point of the day by acting silly (most days it was by pretending to eat worms!) I also got to tell the preschoolers the bible story of the day. This year the bible stories were about Moses leading his people out of Egypt. It was a total blast!

As a kid, I LOVED VBS! It was so fun learning all the songs, making the crafts. making new friends. I am pretty sure that our mom signed us up for more than one VBS each summer and we thought it was because she loved us so much (now I know it is because she would get a little morning break!) I can still remember some of the songs that we would sing at our VBS's. I also remember when I became too old to attend VBS I couldn't wait to volunteer at it! It was THE thing to look forward to all summer!

Now that I am a mom, I still love it. I am so glad that I am able to volunteer at it each year. It is so great to be part of teaching God's word and message to kids! Every day the kids were so excited to be there. Because I was up front I became a bit of a "local celebrity" all week kids would come up to me and say "Hi Firefly Fawnda!" and they often would give me hugs goodbye too. If that doesn't make you want to come back for more I don't know what does.

VBS lets me channel to kid in me, unfortunately I live in an adult body that gets very tired! At the end the week I was glad that it was ONLY one week long, but we are already planning for next year!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Replaced by a Younger Woman

Until just this week, our son has always declared that when he grows up, he wants to marry his mommy. Despite the Oedipal implications, I've always secretly been flattered by his innocent wish. I kind of enjoyed being his "dream girl." But I knew it wouldn't last.

He met a new "friend" this week at Wee Woozles and is totally smitten! He came home and declared his love for Lilly, then began making her pictures, cards, and even play money. He hopes to get back to the craft shop so he can make her a leather bracelet with her name on it to match his own...apparently even 5 year-old boys have good instincts when it comes to wooing women! He says he realizes it's still very early, but he has a good feeling he will marry Lilly some day.

We, as most of you know, are from Florida. Lilly, unfortunately, lives in California. It might as well be Siberia as far as 5 year-olds are concerned. I don't have the heart to tell him that the vast majority of long-distance relationships just don't work out. They'll have to figure that out for themselves.

In the meantime, I'm just so glad that he's found a good friend here. It's taken him all summer to find one, and he's been missing his Florida friends desperately. Maybe I should suggest an ice cream date. He's been saving his ice cream money all summer, so he could buy. What girl could resist a sweet deal like that?