...because we all have our motley moments!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Body Pump or Body Pummel? Why It Hurts to Drink Water After Strenuous Workouts

My whole body feels like I've been pummelled. Every inch of me hurts. But it's the best kind of pain...the pain of a new workout routine. Oh. My. Gosh. "Pump It Up!" does this to me every time I get back into it. It's been so long since I've been to class, I probably should have raised my hand when Stella asked if there were any newbies in the room.

I have lots of excuses for not going, most of them relating to the two preschoolers I spend their every waking minute with. It's hard to stay committed to a workout class when your kids get sick, first one, then the other, then your spouse, and just when you think you've escaped this latest nasty virus, your glands start to swell, your turtleneck gets too tight, and all you want to do is stay in bed! Ugh!

Well, apparently there is a solution to my dilemma on You Tube. Body Pump is a worldwide thing apparently. You can view workouts in lots of different languages, right in the comfort of your own home (or home office, if you have a desktop computer). Frankly, I'll probably never do this at home. I need the peer pressure of a room full of women my age and older (mostly older than me) doing every single rep of every single move. If they are doing it, then I can (have to) do it too! I just have to get there when I can, and when I can't, I need to pump up the cold prevention stuff. The Mayo clinic has some guidelines for cold prevention here.

In the meantime, I am hobbling around like a little old woman, carefully lowering myself onto the toilet and painfully getting back up. They say you should drink lots of water after strenuous workouts, but I dread the end result! They also say you should keep working out when you are sore, to warm and stretch your muscles...I purposely went to the Thursday class so I would have the weekend to recover! Maybe I'll go for a walk, or maybe I'll do some of my favorite stretches and curls: stretch out on the couch, in the recliner, or on the bed and curl up with a good book!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Our Newest Addition

Going for almost a whole month without a cat is too long for our family, so this weekend we went to the Humane Society and got Cameron, a female calico. She is so sweet; we are really enjoying her and she has adapted well to our family. Here she is, hangin' with Elmo:

Todd picked her because she's pretty, and he did a good job. It's blind faith, since they don't let you take the cats out of the cages until you're adopting them, which is a little scary. Then she didn't peep the whole way home and I thought she'd died or something. She had a family, but for some reason they took her to the Humane Society; she'd been there since early November - another reason Todd picked her. She still has a lot of kitten in her. The first two nights she woke us up meowing at 4:30 a.m. so we shut her out of our bedroom at night now. She sniffs the boys and rubs her face on their hands. She's not crazy about being chased by Ethan, but she adores Todd and likes to chew on my hair. We named her after Dr. Cameron on "House," one of our favorite shows. It's nice to not be quite so outnumbered by boys now. :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Facebook Fun

Can I just say how cool Facebook is? Since I've signed on, I've spoken to a bunch of old friends that I haven't spoken to in years. It really has been cool.

Today, I spoke to my aunt whom I haven't heard from in years. I've tried tracking her down in various ways and until Facebook, she was lost to me. I figured out that if I looked up my techie cousin Gabriel, I could track her that way. It worked!

Finding my Aunt Numa was huge for me. She is my mom's sister. To me, she represents my mom. My mom passed away when I was 19 and Numa was the closet person to her at that time. She is literally the only person in the world that knows both me and my mom from way back.

Anyway, the other people have been the ones that I've wondered "what ever happened to....". The crummy thing is that it also brings back memories of the less than mature things that I've done to/with friends in the past. So far, all has been forgiven or forgotten. Whew! I have some plans for asking forgiveness for a few things. Very cathartic. If I had a therapist, I think she would be proud of my progress thus far.

Now, how in the world do I keep up with the posts? I'll let you know...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

She Won't Grow Up

THE Princess has decided that she never wants to grow up. In fact, when someone asks her age, she says that she is three and that she is not going to be four. This all started last year at her annual doctor appointment. We talked about getting shots and that she might need some to keep her healthy. She was so happy when the pediatrician told her that you don't need shots when you are three, in fact you don't need any until you are four.

For months, she told everyone, "You don't need shots when you are three! Three is the best." I agreed. We have had some great days during three. Her birthday is approaching in March. It will be the first year for her to have a birthday party with friends. I've been asking her what kind of party she wants.

Princess? No.
Ben 10? No.
Art? No.
Faries? No.
Pink? No.
Tea party? No.
Sleep over? No.
Picnic? No.

This has more than shocked me, since her favorite thing to play is birthday party. In fact, she spends a lot of time making pretend cakes, singing the birthday song, and blowing out imaginary candles. I have had so many birthday parties that I am now officially 3,427 years old. Awesome.

So, when she started announcing that she was never going to grow up and didn't want a birthday party, I was stunned.

Then I thought it was because she has recently had a kind of addiction to Peter Pan. We have been reading the book and watching the movie quite a bit lately. She wants to be Tinkerbell. (I totally found her a brand new Tinkerbell costume at a garage sale last weekend - only $1! Whoot!)

Then it was revealed, she doesn't want shots. From a girl whose best game is birthday party. She is willing to give up her greatest joy. I am planning the party anyway. And, I am putting off her doctor's appointment until the next month so that I can take KOTJ and her together. Maybe that will help to deal with it. In fact, last month when I took KOTJ for his well-check, I told the doctor about our problem with the shots. He gave me his cell phone number and told me to have THE Princess call him.

And, I try not to bring up the "s" word. But, secretly, I don't want her to grow up either.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Say What...

I was lucky enough to spend some time last weekend with my college friend Jody. We had a great time clipping coupons, reliving memories and watching our kids play. More than once during the weekend, Jody said "snap" in the same way I use "shoot" or "darn," so I started saying "snap" in my head just to see if I could work it into everyday life. I finally had to realize that I cannot pull off "snap." Even worse, I realized that it had been a few years since I could pull off the latest street jargon. When I was in college, I used "my bad" correctly, and I think I did OK with "you go girl". My youngest brother is 12 years younger than me, so he taught me how to say "that's tight" or "off the hook", and the taught me when and how to keep things on the "down low". Apparently though not too many people say down low anymore. I think it has been replaced by "QT", which makes no sense to me. In my mind, QT should stand for quiet time, of which I am definitely a fan!

So it makes me wonder what happened to me and my youth. It seems like somewhere along the way, I have lost my ability to have fun and be cool. Did I just wake up this old one day? I have three plausible theories:

1. It seems like I have already forgotten a lot of what Alex and I have done in the last three years, so maybe I didn't really live it. Maybe during my sleep, I was transported through time.

2. For three years, I was an accountant at our local hospital. Maybe the other accountants were jealous of my youth, sense of humor, and zest for life. Maybe they kidnapped me and forced me to have a lobotomy that took away the fun part of my brain.

3. Our cell phone plan does not have texting. Maybe everyone in the US but me is getting texted with the latest catch phrases.

Don't cry for me, my peeps. There is still hope. I also heard Jody say, "holy chicken cacciatore" and I think I can roll with that one.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hello, old friend...

If you are a regular reader of our Motley Moms blog, you have certainly heard about our adventures in Once a Month Cooking. Since last summer several of us have gathered one day a month to, well, cook (hence the title Once a Month Cooking). On that day we prepared enough meals to feed our families for the month, and doing this saved us time and money.

For several reasons we have decided to skip cooking this month, and I was more than a little nervous when I realized that my normally full-of-dinner freezer would no longer be able to help me feed my family. Even more unnerving was the realization that I would need to begin actually planning our meals again. I have never been good at this. I always end up at the grocery store hastily grabbing things that look like dinner only to return home and discover that I bought sauce but no pasta or marinade but no meat.

Well, yesterday after a morning at the question-writing office, I grocery store-ed and produce stand-ed my way home to a kitchen just waiting for dinner prep. I took out our standard Saturday night spaghetti sauce and started browning some ground beef. I remembered the squash and zucchini I had purchased, and I reached into the drawer for my knife. My knife. I watched as she sliced effortlessly through green and yellow and left a confetti of little cubes to add to our sauce. I remembered how excited I was the first time I chopped garlic with her after bringing her home from the store on my birthday. The poor thing hasn't seen much action lately since my cooking has been so sporadic. We worked together to create a beautiful meal, and I felt like a Teppanyaki chef at his hibachi (though I probably looked more like the Swedish Chef on the Muppet Show). I was a creator of food, not just a cook, and it felt good to do that again.

So, I'm still not that comfortable with planning our meals, and I will probably still need to improvise when I forget a few ingredients on my shopping trips, but I am excited about using some creativity again in the kitchen. I think my knife is happy to be back in the game, too.

I must confess that we did chop so much that we were able to divide last night's sauce into two meals, one of which is happily waiting in the freezer for another night. Hey, you don't expect me to cook every day, do you?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Questionable Quote for the Day

Thought I'd share a quote from my week, which has been unusually cold and filled with lots of whining, sneezing, coughing, fevers, and mucous...gotta love cold season. It's the only time I have hypochondriac tendencies.
This was me, after a loooooong day of wiping noses...and I was serious as I probed under my chin:

"I can't tell if my glands are swollen, or my turtleneck is too tight! "

Paul and I just cracked up when I realized how blonde mom that sounded (no offense to my blonde mommy friends)! In my defense, I almost never wear turtleneck tops. Stacy and Clinton would agree, they really make me look like the turtleneck is the only thing holding my head up!

Have a terrific weekend! I have to run to the drugstore to restock our Cold Season Arsenal!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Love your body, love yourself

I weigh more than I should. Seriously. Like 15 pounds. My BMI is too high. However, my blood pressure is low and my good cholesterol so high it balances out the bad. In a normal week, I exercise for at least an hour 5 different times. Sometimes I take double tae kwon do classes and it's 2 hours or I walk at the lake for 30 minutes. At any rate, I am probably in the best shape of my life, cardio- and muscle-wise. Still, I'm flabby. It's been almost a year, but the baby weight is not completely gone. I have this thing sitting around my middle that hangs out over my jeans. And I weigh more than I should. I have excuses. I had 2 babies in 2 years. And what some of you probably don't know is, I had another "kind of" pregnancy in 2004 that was really just a blighted ovum, but made me feel pregnant nonetheless and I gained 15 pounds in 2 months. 15 pounds that I am still carrying around. Then I gained 60 (60!) pounds with each (each!) of my next 2 "for-real" pregnancies. I guess one way to look at it is that I've lost 55+ pounds in less than a year, twice. I wouldn't say I struggle with my weight, it's more that I struggle with my outlook on my weight. Yesterday I was at kickboxing class and I was looking at myself in the mirror while I was working out and instead of using the mirror as motivation like, "Oh, you're such a fatass, you better kick higher and faster to burn off those fat thighs," I tried to look at myself and like what I saw. Sure, I have a spare tire around the middle. And yes, I have large thighs and a big butt. But (haha - butt) again, I tried to like what I saw. Not that the spare tire can't vanish or the thighs get more toned and less cellulite-y, but I need to do those things for my health, not for what I see in the mirror. Yesterday I also did something strange (for me) while I was eating lunch. I ate until I was full and then...I stopped eating. I threw the rest away. Today after lunch I was still hungry, so I ate some more. I'm trying to change my outlook. Why do I kickbox, walk at the lake with my boys, and do tae kwon do? Because it's fun and good for my body, not to thin out. Why do I eat? To give my body fuel, to have energy, to feel good, not to look like someone else. No longer am I not going to eat when I'm hungry because I think by doing that the scale will say something different in the morning. And I'm going to try the eat-till-you're-full-then-stop thing more often. Maybe if I do this, I will lose those extra 15 pounds. Then again, maybe I won't. But my body and, more importantly, my mind and my outlook on myself will be healthy and that's more important than what the scale says in the morning.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

This may seem a little random. I am looking ahead to the summer months. The idea of no Cypress Gardens is really sad for me. My girls and I have made so many memories there. The nostalgia is killing me!


I'm sad that it closed.
That's all.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

I wish I was attending the inauguration today. I don't often admit it, but I am a political junkie, parading as a momma. I love to read TIME magazine every week. I get a kick out of political commentators. If I was in DC today, I would just HAVE to attend a couple of the balls.

But alas, I am working today (it's a teacher work day). I plan on having the inauguration playing on the TV in my room at school. The kids in our childcare (mine included) will be coming over to watch. And tonight, we are having our own version of the Children's Inaugural Ball at home. I have a few inaugural crafts prepared. We'll have a patriotic themed dinner. And we'll watch the news and talk about what an "inauguration" is.

My mom says that I have always loved politics. She tells me that one night at dinner while I was sitting in my high chair eating peaches, I announced that I was President Carter. In 4th or 5th grade, I wrote a pen pal letter to President Regan. I asked him if he could write back to me in his own handwriting so I would know he got my letter. I got back a form letter and a pamphlet about the President. I couldn't have been more thrilled. Thrilled because, in the pamphlet, it said that the President and I had the exact same favorite food, macaroni and cheese! It was meant to be, for sure.

In high school I decided that I would be "Bryssy - The Next Katie Couric/Connie Chung." I got invited to go and work in DC and "see what it's really like." Did I ever.

I got to interview senators, I followed Al Gore, I met Michael Duffy (Washington Bureau Chief for TIME Magazine), and I got to join the National Press Corps. I had a "beat" about the running of the program that invited me to Washington. I had 5 am deadlines every morning. I got my assignments at 4 pm the day before. I wrote every night, until the wee hours. It was thrilling. I toured all over the Capital. I ate lunch on the National Mall and enjoyed the Cherry Blossoms. The visited Smithsonian's, the National Archives, and I got to sit on the floor of the House of Representatives. I could write a book about everything I saw and experienced in DC during that time. The whole experience was thrilling.

It was also exhausting. And, it was then that I decided that politics and news was not the career I wanted. I wanted what I have now, a family. Children. And, working all day and night wasn't going to cut it if I was going to be a mom. So, I changed my plans. And, I am glad I did.

Now I hold election night parties for friends and their kids, make canditate puppets and host debates with THE Princess, make USA jello molds and cookies, and hold Inaugural Balls in my living room. One of the best memories I have about this last election is that THE Princess and I made paper dolls of each of the candidates and their wives and talked about the good and bad choices that they might make if they were the President and First Lady. Then we talked about the good choices that she would make as Princess/President. It's not exactly what I pictured for my life when I was 16.

I think it's better.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I can't help but wax politically today. The kids are out of school today observing Martin Luther King Day, and tomorrow, we will all witness an incredible day in history.

Most known for his "I have a dream..." speech, Dr. Martin Luther King inspires us still today. If he were still alive today, he would be 80 years old. Here are a few more of his quotes:

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. "

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. "

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase. "

In the spirit of Martin Luther King, let's all welcome a new motley mom to our group - Michelle Obama. Regardless of how you voted or what you hoped would happen, she will soon be moving into the White House and taking over the role as first mom. She will probably never post here or darken our doorways for coffee. We may not agree with what she wears or says or how she raises her two daughters, but we can still support her in our prayers.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Where flowers bloom so does hope.
- Lady Bird Johnson

Have a blessed Sunday and a
wonderful, hope-filled week!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dollhouse Horror Flick In the Making: Why it's good to let boys play with dollhouses

I fear our daughter will never play with dolls the way most little girls do...not with her big brother modeling such interesting scenarios as this, the ultimate clash of Christmas presents:

And the close up:


Thursday, January 15, 2009


I really should be packing. In fact, that's what my Facebook status says: "Liz Sebring should be packing." This weekend we are going to Alabama to visit my grandmother and it's going to be COLD. Today the high is 35, but it feels like 23. Since I live in Florida, I don't have a lot of warm clothes, and neither do my children. Riddle me this: How do kids know when you're busy and have a lot to get done? For instance, my youngest child refused to nap yesterday afternoon and was up for an hour and a half last night. He napped this morning but is currently in his bed, yelling and playing. He's almost 1 and onto more solid foods and rarely spits up; however, today he got choked on a fry at Beef O'Brady's and vomited on his (warm, long-sleeved) shirt. Then I gave him a bottle and changed his shirt (a warm, long-sleeved one) and he spit up all over that, as well as all over his (warm) pants. I had to go in his room, where my older son is napping, to get him another (warm) outfit, which he spit up on. And no, he's not sick. Some days he's just a little spitty. I left him in that outfit for his nap, which he better take today, or Mommy's going to have a psychotic episode. Anyway, I had all the laundry done but I guess I'll have to do more or Micah will be wearing a diaper and socks in 30-degree weather. Did I mention he also spit up on my jeans and I only have 2 pairs of jeans? 
I think I had a point here somewhere...
Oh, yeah.
I'm having an identity crisis. In fact, I've been having one for nearly 3 years. I used to be a teacher and I was good. I had a great rapport with my kids and got them to be (a little) excited about Romeo and Juliet. I did tae kwon do all the time and I was a little cocky about that and my husband and I went out often and went away for the weekend and my house was just-so mainly because we paid someone to clean it. But I didn't mind paying her because I'm not really a "housework and diapers" kind of girl.
And then we had kids.
And we (mainly I) decided to stay home with said kids and quit teaching.
I'm not complaining. We are blessed that I can be a stay-at-home mom. However (that's just a fancy "but," isn't it?), my identity is different. Teaching can definitely be a thankless pursuit, but there's an end to it. Pile of essays on my desk? Graded, done. Grades to be turned in? Done. With kids, though...it's not like you change their diaper and you're done. Or you feed them and you're done. Even when you put them to bed at night you're not done. You're never done! It often feels like an exercise in futility, like I'm Sisyphus rolling that stone up the hill every day. 
We stopped paying the lady to clean our house when I decided to stay home, but we have recently found ourselves in a situation of having extra money each month so my husband called her and she's coming back. I have mixed feelings. Of course I'm glad I don't have to clean my house so often anymore. But I finally figured out the best way to clean our shower. I know how to get the floors looking good. These are things that give me a sense of accomplishment that I don't feel when I'm taking care of my kids. These are things that I can get done. Truthfully, though, I don't have time to clean unless I don't take care of myself. I need quiet time during my children's naps. I need to work out. Every day. Not just because I'm testing for my third degree black belt in March, but because I have learned the hard way that regular exercise is the key to not getting depressed. Today my MIL was here and I told her that we're hiring the cleaning lady back again and she said, "Liz, that will be so good for you." She explained that she didn't hire anyone to clean their house until her kids were grown and that life would have been much easier for her if she had. I know not everyone can hire someone to clean their house. In fact, that's part of the reason why I hesitated about hiring her back - because I feel guilty. I feel lazy. I feel like I should be cleaning my own house. But I've been in therapy long enough to know that "shoulds" don't matter. Last week at MOPS we wrote down what we thought our priorities from God are. Mine did not include cleaning my own house. And who says I should clean my own house? Not God. Not my husband. Not me. 
My identity crisis is not over. I think I will be figuring out my identity for the rest of my life. I think I will have several "identities" over the years. But I'm happy. And I'm not going to give in to the "shoulds" in my head. The cleaning lady will not be doing my laundry or packing, though, so I guess I "should" go do that myself.
Note: After reading over this, I realize that I might sound a little whiny and you might want to say to me, quoting "Friends", "Oh, poor me! My fifties won't fit in my wallet and my diamond shoes are too tight!" Feel free to do so. But I'm posting this as is because I believe in brutal honesty and because, well, I'm motley for sure.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ode to Mrs. Z

Do you have any childhood memories of an adult (other than a parent) that made you feel really special? I do. Mrs. Z. From the ages of 4 to 6, my memories are mostly of playing in her house and backyard with her daughter Kristen and her little sister.

Their house was magical. We played for hours and I never wanted to leave. Kristen was my best friend and we went on many adventures without ever leaving her house.

I remember...
the bologna sandwiches on white bread with potato chips and cool-aid. That was a treat.
playing with earthworms and feeling the rich muddy dirt squishing through my fingers.
her grandma and grandpa also living there. They didn't say much.
her grandpa's mint vintage car.

Most of all I remember how I felt. I felt so included. Mrs. Z was always very sweet to me. She let us play without telling us how to do it.

Then, they moved away. I was heartbroken. I went to visit once and I went to her birthday party too. It wasn't the same. She had new friends and they all shared special jokes that only they knew about. I was jealous and sad.

That was the end of the friendship, but I still hold the special memories of my early childhood close to my heart. It taught me a big lesson early on. Special times are transient. You have to enjoy them without abandon. While you are still in the moment, don't mourn at the thought that they will end at some point. You'll have plenty of time to mourn later and then you will be left with beautiful memories.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Can Kids Have Too Much Praise?

I've been doing a bit of reading lately about the problem with too much praise in raising children. Too much praise? Is there really such a thing? I believe there is. I want my children to have freedom to really be themselves. I don't want them to feel as if they have to live up to my expectations of them.

I worry about this because I was a first child and an overachiever, as many firsts are. I pushed and pushed myself. My parents didn't care if I got straight A's, I did. They didn't care if I came in first, I did. And, to this day, I don't want to be good at something, I want to do it perfectly, for me. It can be a hard way to live.

As an infant, THE Princess, seemed to command praise. She would clap her hands and everyone else would, too. She identified the parts of her body, they cheered. Before I was a parent I would have laughed at that statement. Now, I know the power these little people hold. They hold our adoration. And, sometimes it is just too much.

So, I am starting, little by little. I am using the advice of Naomi Aldort, who says this: "For a young child, I suggest to simply stop dishing out the praise. If she asks, "Was I good?" put the power back in her lap with, "Did you enjoy doing it; do you like it?" If she insists on your feedback, you can say, "I love it because I love anything you do because I love you." Or, you can offer an older child feedback rather than praise. Ask the child what she needs to know: "Would you like to know if your leg was straight in the air when you jumped?" or, "Do you want to know if the blue stands out in your painting?"

Okay, I can do that. Right? It doesn't sound that hard. Give them acceptance. Don't make them feel as if they have to earn love through praise. I'm working at being purposeful about my words to my children. It's something I can learn to do, I'm sure.

It's not that I don't want to praise my children. I do. But, I don't want them to be something other than themselves because of my praise. My children are children of God. I want them to grow into the awesome people that God wants for them to be. My dreams for them are limited by my human nature and our flawed world. His dreams for them are greater than I may ever know.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Road Trip

Back in the day, I loved taking off on road trips with some of my good college friends. We would pile in a car, look for a good radio station, and car-dance our way down the road. Keep in mind this was before CD players were installed in cars; most people were just starting to buy CDs instead of cassette tapes. This was also before a Starbucks could be found every 30 miles or so down the road. Some of our favorite songs were by Cheap Trick, Prince, Madonna, and Paula Abdul. Since we were in college, we would start out bright and early - around noon or so. Even though we thought we were broke, we would stop at Taco Bell if we were hungry for a snack along the way. Our road trips would often take unplanned jaunts to somewhere interesting like Lake Wappapelo or the General Baptist Headquarters.

Now that I am a grown up, road trips have taken a turn for the worse. First, if I am not crammed in a car with friends who will talk to me, I apparently do not like to travel. I am also now chief guardian to a child who doesn't like to travel either. Nevertheless, all three Carvers set out on our road trip home for Christmas a few weeks ago. Just like in my college days, we brought along some good music to listen to - the soundtrack from the movie "Hoot". I can safely say we loved it the first 100 times we listened to it, now it is a little old. But Alex loves it, and it makes him happy. We thought Alex might sleep in the car, so we planned on leaving at 4:00 am. Important note: this would be the time we would normally get back from a college road trip. To save money, we packed a cooler and lots of snacks. Since some things never change, our road trip was also filled with unexpected detours. Picture yourself in the back seat of a Hundai Santa Fe. The back is filled with suitcases and Christmas gifts. Here is what your trip would have looked like:

Day One - leave Florida at 4:00 am
4:41 - Drag Alex out of bed and take him to car in pj's. Alex squeals with delight, "are we going to Grandma's?"

4:42 - (Me to DH) "Did you put the lunch meat in the cooler?" - Turning around and returning to house.

4:46 - Leaving our town only 46 minutes behind schedule.

5:02 - Alex is not sleeping. He grabs my face with his hands. "Look hun, it says five, zero, two," pointing to the clock.

5:03 - Alex again grabbing my face, even more excited, "Look honey, it says five, zero, three!."

5:28 - Alex says, "Mom, look is says five, two, eight. I miss Grandma. I want to go see her."

That day of travel only took us 16 hours.

Day Six - leave Indiana at 10:00 am
Our trip to Illinois was much shorter, only four hours, and we actually left on time. Alex spent most of his time taking pictures. Here is my favorite.

Day 12 - leave Illinois at 7:00 am
7:42 - DH to me in backseat, "Are we ready to go?" Me, "No," as DH backs out anyway. Me, crying as my coffee spilt - OK, not really crying, but sad for sure.

7:44 - backing out again.

10:17 - finally found a Starbucks inside a Kroger!!

12:18 - Metropolis, Illinois - we must visit large superman statue. It is, after all, only three miles from the rest area.

1:17 - Somewhere in western Kentucky, we catch a girl named Shishi on 100.3 - the Beaver.

1:20 - Hoot CD - again!

All in all, we were really pleased with how well Alex did in the car. It was a long trip, but a great trip.

Why can't I get anything done????

Sorry for not-so-fun article, but I'm feeling a little frustrated today. I've been working on a project for months (I write questions for an academic tournament), and I just can't seem to get the job done! I set a goal for myself of having written all of my questions by the day before Thanksgiving (so I could enjoy the holidays sans guilt), and as of today, January 11th, I have only finished 62% of them. Yes, I did spend a chunk of time making that calculation when I could have been writing, but I wanted to get a clear picture of where I stand...

I'm not really trying to whine here, but my "to do" list just doesn't seem to get any shorter! When I finally do come to the end of a project, I fill the newly-opened spot on my list with something else that needs to be done. Ugh...

So, here is my cry for help: "How do you do it???" Do any of you, dear readers, have advice on boosting efficiency without losing it? Or at least feeling better about your lack of efficiency?? If you don't, feel free to vent, too. I actually feel better after having typed this. Maybe I'll write another question right now...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Own Pandora's Box...Motley Musings of a Confused Mama

I am probably the wishy-washiest, most disorganized of all the Motley Moms. My house is mostly messy (I'm not just saying that...it's really true) and I let my kids dress themselves. Partly because I'm too lazy to assert any control over what they wear and partly because it's good for them to be in control of something in their lives...I can relate. Some days I feel like the outfit I choose to wear is the only thing I've been truly intentional about. The rest of it just happens. Other days, I'm totally in control, confident, and on top of things. Those days are pretty rare. I should start putting a shiny star sticker on the calendar on days when I feel in control, just so I can say for sure that it's hormonal or not.

I do a LOT of activities outside of my home, mostly things that directly or indirectly benefit my family. MOPS, Sunday School, Girls' Nite Out, Once A Month Cooking, playdates, etc. I love it, but it all comes back around to the good of my family. None of it is purely selfish.

We have recently made a huge decision, something that has been weighing me down for months...maybe even years. I've been so conflicted about which course would be the right course for our family. The question: Should we send them to school or homeschool them? Seems relatively simple. To many, the answer is obvious and simple, but for me, it has been severely complicated. I want to do what's best for my kids, and I often feel that I can personally provide that for them. I do provide that for them every day, with the support of my husband, who works so I can stay home with them. I'm creative, energetic, and I love spending my days with my children. It's fun! But it's also extremely draining.

If I homeschooled them, could I keep up this energy and enthusiasm for years while happily living on a painfully tight budget? I don't shop. I wear hand-me-downs. I cut my own hair sometimes. I cut my husband's and son's hair. We share a car. I clean my own house (or just let it be dirty for a few days until I feel up to the challenge). I walk everywhere that I can with the kids and only do activities that are free or dirt cheap. I don't get my nails done, I don't have massages, I don't wear brand names, and I don't pay for childcare.

But the car will soon need replacing. And our son just turned five, which means he needs to start Kindergarten in the fall. Change is on the wind here, and change can be good. We've had a long discussion, an ongoing discussion that we pick up during quiet moments when adult conversation can happen with only a few interruptions. He says he knows that I am capable of homeschooling the children, but is concerned that I will not do well personally. We feel we can supplement their education as needed and perhaps it is time for me to contribute to the family budget...that's hard to hear when you've been planning to be a stay-at-home mom indefinitely. But I want to get serious about my writing. I really think I have a book in me that needs to come out. Probably a book for adolescent readers, maybe teens...not sure yet, but I am so excited at the prospect of having some writing time. Wow...time for me to just think about ideas, be creative, and pursue a dream.

Now I'm asking myself, Is that selfish of me to want some time to myself? To prefer sending my child to a stranger for his education when I can provide an individualized education right here? Is this really for the good of the family? My husband thinks it is, and this is one of those times when I will happily defer to his judgement. He sees what a mess I am by the end of the day. I have nothing left to give. I don't want to be like that for the next 10 years!

So, after a sleepless night last night for both of us, we have concluded that a public education is truly what is best for us, as a family. I am relieved, but oddly disappointed at the same time. Kind of similar to the way I felt a few months ago when we officially decided that we are done having babies. If I could miraculously give birth to a 9-year-old, that would be great. We love having our 9 1/2-year-old niece over to spend the night...she's the perfect age to play with the kids without competing with them, she's extremely helpful, and completely verbal and potty trained! But, alas, popping out a 9-year-old is unheard of and probably not good for me...one can dream, though!

The thought of sending the kids off with the majority of the population for their education is somewhat soothing, yet scary at the same time. Conflicting, I know. But maybe I have to get over my over-achieving tendencies and give up a bit of control to God. He will provide. It's soothing me just to type it out and read those words. God WILL provide. I just need trust in Him.

My children will learn what they need to know and God will equip us to provide whatever they don't learn in school. God will guide us as we tackle the tough lessons they will learn from their peers, and our family will be their backbone and their faith will give them strength when they feel lonely and afraid. It will be hard, but I'm already excited about the possibilities in my future. And I have a short story that's just begging to become my first novel.

Now, which school should we send him to?...talk about Pandora's Box!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I tried to leave Lake Wales after graduation. In fact, I moved away without having a job elsewhere. I was not going to get "stuck here" like other Warner graduates. But, the only job I could get "elsewhere" was at a daycare and I was offered a teaching position at a high school here, so I had to come back. A few years later, I applied to grad school. I was definitely getting out this time! But, again, no job prospects. And, to be perfectly honest, I didn't try too hard to get a job. By the time I got my grad school acceptance letter, I had decided Lake Wales was an okay place, to "bloom where I was planted," so to speak. I deferred grad school, got excited to teach another year, and decided to take tae kwon do. How many 26-year-old women do you know who just suddenly take up martial arts? Especially ones who are pretty sedentary and klutzy, not athletic at all? Yeah, me neither. But I did it and it was embarrassing to be the only adult with a bunch of kids and the uniform felt stupid and there were all these moves that just didn't seem natural. Still, I stuck with it. I'm telling you this not to make myself look good, but to show you how God intervened in my life. In my early 20s, there were 3 lives I wanted to live and I couldn't decide which one was best. 1. I wanted to live with my roommates, who were like sisters to me, teach high school, and "play" on the weekends. 2. I wanted to move far away where I didn't know anyone, go to grad school, live alone (because I'm kind of a loner by nature anyway), smoke clove cigarettes, and scrounge for rent money every month. 3. I wanted to be a wife and mother. #3 scared me the most. However, it's obviously what God wanted and He definitely has the best plan. 6 months into tae kwon do the kicks and blocks were becoming more natural, but most importantly, I was in a serious relationship with a steady, handsome, intelligent, giving man. You know the rest of the story - marriage, 2 boys, etc. It's not that unusual of a story. Yet I am regularly amazed by how God worked to bring us together. Ladies, I married up. My husband is so thoughtful - he usually gets up with the baby so I can sleep in and for Christmas he bought me a book I really enjoyed and the other day he went to the bookstore just to buy me another book by the same author. I don't deserve the blessings God has put in my life. Sometimes I wonder, "Why am I so lucky?" I'm really not that great of a Christian. I definitely don't deserve my husband and sons, my husband most of all. My parents' marriage - well, it was iffy at best. I know that just having stability in a marriage is a blessing. But He has given me more than just stability. God has given me a soulmate, someone who shares many of the same interests as me and loves me for who I am, as well as for who I could be. We are truly M.F.E.O. - made for each other.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pandora's Box

To confirm this friend request, follow the link below:

Have you seen this yet? You probably have if you've opened a page on Facebook. I see it almost every time I log onto my email page. In case you don't know, Facebook is this amazing database of tons of people. You can look up pretty much anyone and find them easily. I am in total awe every time I go on it and search. I opened my Facebook account a couple of months ago and it has been a lot of fun to play with.

I have found one of my long lost bridesmaids from 17 years ago! Oh, yeah. I've also found, a former college roommate (Karly, be strong. Your roommate has probably forgotten/forgiven about the snooze button, I'm sure!).

The problem can be this. How do you choose your friends? Present friends, family and good old friends are the easy ones, but what do you do with the others? Who's going to pop-up from your past?

Are you going to choose to be friends with old flames? Frenemies? People you never really liked? I recently deleted a second request for a "friend". It went against my nature, so I still feel a little bad about it. This person was actually trying to reach my hubby. "I don't think so!" came to mind.

This is another instance where even though you can't pick your family, you can pick your friends. Also, do you post pics of your kids? Family? I have. I choose in my profile to only show these pics to "friends". I hope I'm doing the right thing.

So, how do YOU deal with Facebook issues?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Magical Christmas Tree

I've been tackling putting away the Christmas decorations. THE Princess has decided that we should keep them up so we are ready for next Christmas "in a few days." Ah, I love that time doesn't have it's death grip on her yet. Almost everything is "tomorrow" or "yesterday." How I wish I could revert to the days when my biggest worry was how many popsicles I could get away with eating before my mom figured out that I was on my fifth one.

THE Princess's first Christmas, it was just us. Her dad had split just before she was born. I was struggling just to pay the mortgage and going through a terrible divorce. My weekly food budget was $25, thankfully I ate with my mom often. I scrounged together $50 to buy a tree from the Care Center. It came complete with lights and all. They had ornaments for 5 cents and I got about $3 worth. That year, our tree was magic.

We would sit in the dark and look at the lights for hours. Many nights we slept on the couch or made a nest of blankets under the tree. THE Princess was about 9 months old and mesmerized by the lights and the glitter. I was mesmerized by her. It was a little bit of joy in our big old house. A house that seemed empty and quite lonely much of the time.

And that year, I left the tree up until her birthday in March. I didn't care who drove by and saw the lights in the front window in February. We just needed something. Anything. To get us through. The twinkly tree lights seemed to help.

Each year as I pack up the tree and it's decorations (we still use that same one from the Care Center)I think about leaving the tree up until March. Sitting and looking at it in the dark with my little one. The unadulterated joy it brought her. Our tree is magic, you know. THE Princess says so. Plus, we have to be ready for Christmas tomorrow.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I love the New Year!

I love New Year's! I love the parades. I love watching the ball drop. I love making resolutions even though I know I will not be able to keep them, and I love the chance to start over again. For many years, it has been my goal to read the Bible through in one year. As a result, I am an expert on Genesis. Nevertheless, the New Year is filled with hope. One of my favorite songs is "Long December" by the Counting Crows. "Long December and it's easy to believe maybe this year will be better than the last."

I have several resolutions - most are the typical eat less, sleep more, spend less, exercise more. My top two are as follows:

1. Learn to be happy in the present - to enjoy each moment.

2. Do what is best for me and my family.

You would think those would be easy, since I am a grown woman of 35. You would think I would have that figured out by now, but I do not. This is my year! I am hopeful that I can do these.

And as of yesterday, I am adding one more to the list. Pastor Jack's sermon yesterday was great. He explained (far more eloquently that I am going to) that God wants to grant our wishes on one condition - that we are bearing fruit for him. As a stay-at-home mom, I feel like I bear very little fruit for God especially since I loose my patience with my dear child at least once on almost any given day. If Jesus were me, I am sure he would always be graceful even when he is angry. So my goal for today is to uplift you and give share some joy with you. Maybe in some way, it could count as fruit for God.

Somewhere along my path in life, I lost the ability to dream. Lately, thanks to the counsel of some wise friends (Dale, Mickey Mouse, Jody and Pastor Jack), I am starting to think that I can have dreams. God can conquer anything we are facing. In the Old Testament alone he parted the Red Sea, made time stand still, saved Daniel from the lions den and protected those young boys from the fiery furnace along with countless other miracles. If God can do all of that, surely he can help us in our problems today.

John 16:33 - "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Don't you think there should be an exclamation point at the end of that? Now, start making your wish list and start looking for things for God to overcome!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Oompa, Loompa, Duppity Doo...

Whew! The holiday season is finally over, and now we can all get back to our normally healthy diets, right? All of those fattening family get-togethers loaded with greasy hors d’oeuvres and trays of homemade candy and baked goods are a thing of the past. Sure glad that’s over!

STOP!!! [sirens wailing, red lights flashing] We are in the middle of a dietary crisis season that most people don’t even realize exists and because of that many of us fall prey to months of sugar-shock and why-don’t-my-jeans-fasten-anymore syndrome. At this crucial time of year when so many people are struggling to keep their resolutions, utter defeat is a mere row of adjustable shelving away at their local grocery stores.

From the first appearance of the candy corn the day after Labor Day until the last Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg is sold, we are in what I like to call “Candy Season.” It happens because of the “Candy Holidays” and it encompasses two-thirds of our calendar year! Think about it—right now if you walk into any store that sells seasonal merchandise you will find the lonely clearanced candy canes on one side of the aisle facing the heart-shaped boxes of assorted chocolates on the other side. Yesterday I even spied a box of Cadbury Easter Eggs in the middle of Valentine’s Day stuff. There are no breaks in this madness!

It’s not just ordinary candy, though, and that’s the problem. I won’t give the normal candy aisle the time of day unless I know I need to buy something or I’m searching for coupons to use in the seasonal aisle. The seasonal candy, however, comes wrapped in glittery papers and molded into interesting shapes. It's pretty candy. A Snickers bar is OK, but a Snickers bar shaped like a nutcracker in a shiny blue wrapper, well, that’s just irresistible. The candy even comes in these amazingly original containers—I mean, chocolate-coated marshmallow eggs that come in an actual egg carton…they’re blowing my mind. I walk down the seasonal aisle nearly every time I go to the store just to see if by some miracle they’ve gotten something new that I haven’t noticed before. I’m flat-out enchanted by it, and I don’t care to admit it.

What’s the solution to this dietary death trap? Honestly, I don’t have one. A few years ago I tried to avoid the “Candy Season” problem by participating in Lent. I was a candy-free doll for the entire 40 days. Then, when I went to the stores during their clearance sales I stocked up on everything I had been previously abstaining from and ate chocolate-covered-coconut birds’ nests well into the summer. (Jettisoning the jelly beans, of course. Cute, but not worth eating in my humble opinion. Sorry, I digress…)

Last summer during the three non-candy-holiday months I missed the seasonal-sweets-aisle so much that I seized ten bags of the red, white, and blue star-shaped marshmallows when they appeared on an end cap. M&M’s didn’t sell their traditional patriotic candies, and I was so disappointed that I wrote the company a letter. I'm not kidding. My name is Rachel, and I probably have a problem, but surplus aisles of barbecue sauce, Kool-Aid, and potato chips do nothing for me. Give me my sugar, and make it pretty!!!!

So, keep your eyes open (in the aware kind of way, not the looking around kind of way or you'll probably just eat more) and watch your back(side) and before you know it this season will be over just in time for the other season that encompasses the remaining one-third of the year--swimsuit season. Think about that!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Christmas is Definitely NOT a Piece of Cake...

I feel like I'm starting the new year on a low note. I got sick this week right after Christmas...that darn Christmas Cold caught up with me after all. It's no wonder, though, when I reflect on the weeks preceding this one.

There was a lot of celebrating this month, but before the celebrating could start, we had a lot of anticipating to manage. For the entire month of December leading up to Christmas Day we have the formal countdown, technically "Advent." The first candle is lit as we go whirring past the Feast of Saint Nicholas, we bake, we eat, we read, we photograph the kids for the card (that never gets sent), we visit Santa. The second candle joins the first, we sing, we eat, we worship, we party and eat, we shop, we decorate; the third candle glints alongside the first two, we worship, we trim, we write, we wrap, we party some more; candle number four sets the whole wreath ablaze in anticipation, we worship, we visit, we dress, we read, we craft, we make reindeer food, we gather together. Oh, and through it all, we're fighting to keep the house clean and the laundry baskets from becoming buried under a mountain of dirty clothes.

It's Christmas Eve. We worship. We set out new pajamas on the lawn (racing home from Christmas Eve service before husband and kids so "Santa" could drop them magically on the lawn in packages marked individually for each child...amazing! And totally worth the effort for the look of wonder on their little faces as they discover their packages while feeding the reindeer a snack out on the lawn!).

We spend the week leading up to Christmas trying to repaint the pepto-pink dollhouse we ordered online a more gender-neutral golden yellow with blue trim...tedious. And Paul gets a flu-like cold, complete with fever and chills. It's all on me now. The kids are fine. They feel great and they act like energy is a renewable resource whether or not they take naps. By Christmas Eve my spirits are really sagging. I have expended more energy than I can generate, gone to bed late every night, and berated myself for all the things I did not do this year. Christmas Day does not include a birthday cake for Jesus, since (by now I'm cutting anything I deem extraneous) we will have to bake, decorate and eat cake three days from now for our son's birthday on the 28th...I'm just really over the whole cake thing.

We celebrate the birthday with a small family dinner, since his Wild Rumpus is scheduled for January 4th, when more of his friends will be in town after their Christmas travels. I spend the week preparing for the big party and trying to rest. This cold hit me hard. We celebrate the New Year quietly, with Chinese food take-out (tradition) and early bedtimes (new development since first child arrived). Happy New Year...

I'm tired. How about you?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

This Post Has Nothing to Do with New Year's

Let me tell you about my miracle cat. When my husband and I first starting dating, he didn't believe me when I told him I had 2 cats. Mia, the girl cat, was a shameless flirt, but Dakota never came around. Kota loosened up a little bit when we moved into our new house and when Todd and I married, the cat soon fell in love with his "daddy." The cat that hid for 2 weeks after I first brought him home began lying on the couch with us every night to get scratched. He purred; I kid you not, the cat didn't purr for 5 years, but he purred when Todd petted him. When my eldest son was born we were a little worried about how the cats would react, especially Kota. Turns out, Mia, little diva that she was, resented Ethan, but Kota adopted him. Kota slept by his crib and put up with having his tail pulled and being chased around the house with great patience. We lost Mia in 2007 to a congenital heart defect. Kota sat by the door for 3 days, waiting for her to come home. Enter Micah, who grabbed handfuls of Kota's fur and lay face-first on the cat, cooing. Still, ever patient Kota cared for his boys and waited until they went to bed to receive attention from Mommy and Daddy. It was a total transformation from the scared little kitten I adopted in 1998.
A few months ago Kota was diagnosed with asthma. The vet gave him a shot of cortisone and he was good as new. For about a month. I took him back, more shots, nothing. No change. Labored breathing. Coughing. Open-mouth labored breathing. Fear he was going to keel over and die in front of my son.
This is what happens with pets. They get sick, they get hit by cars, they die. They're not like our children - they don't outlive us. But it still sucks. Todd called the vet this morning and he confirmed what we already knew - it was time. So I loaded my baby into his carrier for the last time and took him to get put down. Todd offered to take him; he offered to go with me, but I knew it would be best if I went alone. 
First I had to sign some paperwork. Then I had to decide if I wanted the body. Yes. No, I don't want to do that. No? Then do you want ashes returned to you? God, no. Do you want to be in the room with him? Yes. Dr. Schotman sedated Dakota and left the room. I stroked his ears, his head, told him he was a good kitty, that I would miss him, that Ethan would miss him and Lori and Erica, my former roommates, and of course Daddy. I reminded him of the time he disappeared outside for 3 weeks and told him he would soon be with Mia again. Then the doc came in and administered the last shot and it was over. And let me tell you, the whole experience sucked, but I am so glad I was there with him until the end. That cat loved me and trusted me like no other human and I wouldn't have had anyone else be there when he left this world.
I told Ethan Kota went to Heaven. I'm not sure of the theological accuracy of this, but I like to think my cat is up there with my Mia and my sister-in-law's cat and my father-in-law and my grandma and my dad. And what else do you tell an almost-3-year-old? 
So that's my story. I had a great cat and now he's gone. I will mourn and then I will get a kitten. And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go drown my sorrow in a pint of peanut butter chocolate Haagen-Dazs.