Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oh Well

I've found recently that I've been less stressed and more content. I first noticed it the other day when someone flipped me off while driving. Normally, I would have gotten angry and/or defensive, wondering what I had done to deserve such a thing. Instead, my thought was, "Oh well".

Learning to say "Oh well" is the best thing I could have done for my sanity, my health, and my overall spiritual well being.

Brooklyn squishes her Cheerios into the carpet right after I vacuumed? Oh well. It was going to get dirty sooner or later. Xbox Live not working so I can't watch Netflix? Oh well. I can read. Or get on the computer. Or watch a DVD. Brandon doesn't get home til 7 at the earliest because of baseball practice and games? Oh well. He has a job which pays enough for me to not have to work out of the home, which I should be thankful for.

I just decided that I was going to stop letting things get to me. Maybe I stopped fighting against God for once. He does ask us to just bring everything to Him and let Him take care of it. So I finally did. It's amazing how I thought it was so hard my entire life and all of a sudden I decided to just give it up. And how much easier life has become.

Try it. The next time something happens that you can't prevent, can't change, and can't do anything to fix, just say "Oh well", and move on with your life. You'll smile more :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Failure at Laundry

I'm kind of a failure at laundry, which is a shame because it's one of the only chores that is uniquely mine. Brandon hates it. Acts like he's allergic to it. That's fine, because I don't mind doing it at all. I'd much rather do laundry than dishes. Brandon would rather do dishes. Match made in Heaven.

The problem I have is that I can't ever seem to do laundry on time. I can put the clothes in the washer and when it turns off switch them to the dryer. Then the manage to sit in the dryer for... days? An unspecified number of days. Then of course they are completely wrinkled beyond all repair, which only leads me to dry them again, then try to iron and still end up having wrinkles in all of our clothes.

I love Brooklyn's clothes because right now they're too small to get wrinkled. They just are... existential. That's it- babies clothes are extremely existential.

My clothes and Brandon's clothes however, have wrinkles imbedded in them. Irons are useless. I have one, but I'm convinced it doesn't work. I must be doing something wrong, because when I try to iron khaki pants I feel like I'm in a Chaplin film. I iron the back of leg one, back of leg two, turn over the pants and iron the front of leg one, and back of leg one. Should be good to go, right? Wrong. Immediately after I turn the pants over it's like the wrinkles just stick their tongue out at me and return to exactly where they were before. I promise you the most successful that iron is ever going to be is if someone breaks into the house when I'm doing laundry. I'm not afraid to hit some burglar upside the head, I tell you that much.

So, like with most things that I am not good at, I hate ironing. So I'm trying to do something else to keep my clothes from looking like I slept in them for days on end. And guess what I've learned in the process? I've been folding my clothes wrong my entire life. I fold my shirts in half hot-dog style and then in half hamburger style. And now I hear you're supposed to fold the sleeves under and then fold them so that there's no crease on the logo of the shirt. Hmm. Makes sense. Also you're supposed to hang up fancy pants folded in half along the iron crease. I don't exactly know how to do that since there are no iron creases in our pants (see previous paragraph).

It's ironic that I'm taking the time to write this now, because there's a pile of whites waiting to be folded. Guess I better get back to work.

Monday, January 23, 2012

In My Life

Last night as my husband was flirting with me (yes, it still happens, to my surprise some days) I asked him, "Why am I so attractive to you?"

His answer: "Because I love you."

And within this simple exchange of words the problems of the world's relationships are revealed. How many girls grew up accepting the opposite?

Girl: "Why do you love me?"
Boy: "Because you're attractive."

See the difference? So many relationships are built on outward beauty, on physicality... on things that will fade away in time. To know when you've met the one you're meant to spend your life with, you don't base your love on something as conditional and fleeting as looks. If Brandon had married me only because of the way I look, he would currently be divorcing an overweight chubby-faced Mom. But no, he thinks I'm attractive BECAUSE he loves me. Love goes deeper than outward appearance. When you really love someone you see past their physical flaws; you don't care if they gained a few extra pounds, or if their acne flared up.

I wish I had learned this sooner.

I looked good in high school. No super model by any stretch of the imagination, but I was cute. I get pictures out and see now that I didn't realize how skinny and pretty I was back then. And the funny thing is- it doesn't matter. None of that matters. Because when I looked better, I was a worse person. I did things I regret. I hurt a lot of people and I hurt myself too. It took someone coming in my life to remind me that God doesn't look at the outward appearance, but rather judges the heart. I knew I had some changes coming my way.

I changed my attitude and ironically, my shape changed too. I finally went to a psychologist and eventually got some medicine for my anxiety. New medications can bring about weight gain. So can being pregnant, and not all of us lose the baby weight while nursing. Especially if you're a short pregger and gained 50 lbs in the process.

And guess what? Go read the first thing I wrote in today's blog again. Go ahead, I'll wait.

"Last night as my husband was flirting with me"

That's real love. We've been together since August of 2005, and he still flirts with me. He teases me and tickles me and kisses me in front of Brooklyn to make her laugh. And he could care less what I look like. If you told me when I was in high school that this was possible, I would have written you off faster than I can say, "Are you serious, Clark?"

Nevertheless, this post is dedicated to my wonderful former students at Needville High School who may be able to learn a valuable lesson before I did. If I can teach you anything, I hope it's this:

1. Don't date someone because they are attractive, or allow someone to date you because they think you're attractive. It's shallow and will lead nowhere but pain and heartache. If a relationship is based on how each one looks, eventually one of you will slip up and not look so good one day. Your self-esteem should NEVER be based on what you look like. You are a child of God, and He is the KING, making you all princesses! 

2.  Don't date someone unless you could picture yourself being with them forever. Flings are pointless and will end up making you feel cheap and used.

3. Don't have sex until you're married. I hate to quote Ashton Kutcher, ever, but he puts it simply in the film "Just Married" when he says "We've got the rest of our lives to have sex". It's true. And it's worth the wait.

4. Don't settle for anything less than you deserve. If you're not being treated right, don't wait for them to change and start treating you better. Go out and find it. Do not stay in an abusive relationship for any reason- whether it's physical or verbal, you don't need that in your life and you need to get out immediately.

5. Don't live in the past. Don't date someone and keep dating someone even though their priorities have changed and have become a different person. Don't love the innocent one you fell in love with in 8th grade when they're now the life of the party and treat you like dirt as an 11th grader. And never stay in a relationship because you think "But I've invested so much in this relationship already... if we break up now I'll never hear the end of it". I wasted WAY too long with that mindset and almost missed my opportunity to find Brandon because of it. Don't stay with someone because you don't want to hear your family and friends say "I told you so". A thousand "I told you so"s are better than marrying one person you're married that you don't love.

I had to go through a lot of this before I realized my mistakes and remedied them. I'd like it if just a few of you could learn from this and live better because of it.

I had a hard path and a lot of difficult lessons to learn before I landed my man ;) But I've got him now. And it's real love; the kind of love God wants for a husband and a wife. I couldn't be happier.

"In My Life"
-The Beatles

There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more
In my life-- I love you more

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Simple and Complex

Anyone know what this is? It's Brooklyn's first craft, and proud mommy She's graduated to a big girl class on Tuesdays when I'm at Ladies' Bible Study, and she made this today :) She's never really made anything before, and I'm actually a little heartbroken that I had to fold it to bring it home. Sure it's only foam blocks that are glued on construction paper, but my baby made it :) I just love her!

While Brooklyn was making her creation, I was sitting in the first day of Trisha Clark's class called, "Being a Woman of Simplicity". We went around the room and introduced ourselves, telling each other why we decided we wanted to be a part of a Bible study about living a simpler life. People talked about anxiety, having a mind that just races, identity crisis, and trying to live up to what we think people expect of us.

It was a good introduction to our semester's study, and it made me think of a theory I came up with in high school that defines what kind of a person each and every one of us really is. I call it the "Simple and Complex" theory, with the basic premise of this being that each of us has two parts of ourselves: the part we show to others, and the part we keep hidden. Who we are at a first impression may not be the real person we are once you get to know us.

There are four categories that you can belong in:
Simple Simple- you appear to be a very easily understood individual and in actuality you are very easy to get along with and know.
Simple Complex- you appear to be a very easily understood individual but in actuality you have some complicated issues in your life that you choose not to show until you know you can let your guard down.
Complex Simple- you come off as a very complicated person perhaps as a defense mechanism against others but are really a person who can be simplified to just wanting or needing a few things in life.
Complex Complex- you come off as a very complicated person perhaps as a defense mechanism against others and are really a very analytical and complicated individual who often remains a mystery to those around them.

FYI: the law on blogs is that all I write is my journalism and it is naturally copyrighted, so watch it. If I ever decide to go get my PhD, this is my thesis.

To help clarify, here are some examples from literature and film:

SS- Forrest Gump, Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird), Peter Pan, Scarlet O'Hara (Gone With the Wind)
SC- Severus Snape (Harry Potter), Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings)
CS- Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany's), The Phantom
CC- Lisbeth Salander (Millennium series- Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.),  Holden Caulfield (Catcher in the Rye), Sherlock Holmes

With an SS, you get the straight story. Atticus Finch is the real deal through and through. Hides nothing, tells it like it is, and we love him. Peter Pan is forever a child at heart and speaks his mind accordingly. Forrest Gump is "not a smart man", but he knows what love is. And Scarlet O'Hara really is a southern belle snob. She never changes in the hundreds of book pages or the three hours+ of film.

With an SC, to quote an old MTV show, "you think you know, but you have no idea". You think they have nothing to them at all. Snape is a jerk, right? Wrong. But we're led to believe for the first 6 books of a 7-book series that he is purely evil and not to be trusted or liked. All of a sudden in the 7th book an entire backstory is revealed to us, showing the motivations for all of his actions we misinterpreted. And how often during LOTR is it revealed that there is more to the hobbit Frodo than meets the eye? On the surface he is just the size of a child- what can he do? And yet he triumphs again and again, proving everyone wrong about his simplicity.

With a CS, someone appears very complicated until you realize they were putting up a front to shield themselves from pain or scrutiny. Holly Golightly pretends to live her life as a gold digger, as she ignores her humble beginnings of farm life. Only when she falls in love do we see that that's really all she wanted in the first place, and she only complicated her own life by trying to follow her wallet instead of her heart. The Phantom is on the surface a very scary character. He haunts the opera house and the star along with it. Few know if he is alive or dead or who he used to be and where he came from. Obviously scarred and hurt, it becomes clear that the only thing he wants is to love and be loved. Incredibly simple after all.

And lastly, with a CC you guess at the beginning and you're still guessing at the end. I've seen all three Swedish films with Lisbeth Salander and I've seen the American remake of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", and I cannot tell you a thing about that girl. She's just... she's a psychologists dream, but of course, she doesn't talk to shrinks, so there you go. Complexity at its best. Holden Caulfield is another example. I love reading "Catcher in the Rye". It cracks me up, and yet I cannot tell you whether I love or hate Holden. He fascinates me, which can be a very dangerous thing. I'd also call Sherlock Holmes a complex-complex character. From the start you are guessing how he deduces his conclusions [(Elementary, dear Watson!) <--- he never actually says that, either] and thinking "what kind of mind can figure out such mysteries?" Then you add his obsession with the violin, his addiction to cocaine, and the inexplicable instant trust and friendship he makes with Dr. Watson, and beats me who and what Sherlock Holmes really is!

Like I said before, this is a theory I came up with while I was in high school as I tried to figure out how I got mixed up with some of the people I did. The answer? CC's attracted me. If you were intriguing, I spent time trying to learn all about you, your motivations, your background, your reason for being, sometimes your reason for not wanting to be, and I was fascinated. Fascination, I contend,  is not a good thing. Like a moth being drawn to the light, when you're fascinated with something, you're slowly walking to your death without even realizing you're being swallowed up. For me, fascination turned into wanting to fix. I had many "projects" growing up. These projects were people: complex-complex people who I wanted to help. I wanted to simplify their lives, and it took me years and many failures to realize I couldn't.

I used to call myself a complex-complex personality. I shut people out and had a lot of issues. I kept things inside and didn't want people to really know me. Now, through my wonderful husband (who is a simple-simple, no doubt), my daughter, my friends, my church and a further understanding of God, I'm beginning to have a more simple life. I try to be simple-simple: I want to be free and allow everyone to see me transparently. I know I'm still way too analytical to get rid of the complex label of my personality, but we'll see.

I'm really looking forward to learning how to live a life of simplicity, because I think I really need it; we all really need it. No one needs to act tougher than they are or shield their issues. God listens. He wants us to relax and He wants to give us rest. Life is not meant to be complicated. For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. <--- That's simple, and that's it. Nothing else matters.

So here's to living simply, and simply enjoying living. Cheers.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blessings Upon Blessings

So I spent a good hour and a half sending out emails to new people who volunteered to help out the children's ministry at church. Part of me wants to scream out, "I'm exhausted. I only got five hours of sleep last night. Then I had a play date of 9 babies at my house. Then I drove to College Station. Wow. What's wrong with me?"

And then it hit me: umm, hello, this is nothing to complain about! These are a thousand reasons to be singing praises and giving thanks! I have blessings upon blessings in my life- we all do, and yet we treat them as burdens and whine about them, when we should be glorifying God for them!

I got five hours of sleep last night. I know some pregnant women who are getting less than that right now. And if I were in the hospital I'm sure I would have gotten less. I got five hours of sleep last night. Thanks, God, for five solid hours.

I had a play date of 9 babies at my house. NINE BABIES! It was tiresome! It was epic! It was awesome! Nine children from 15 months down to Michael Felts (3 1/2 months maybe?) and all of their mommies crammed and jam packed into my little apartment living room. Talk about cozy. And how cool is it that there are 9 of us who have the ability to stay home and raise our own children? Not everyone can do that, and I'm sure not all of us will be able to do it forever. THAT is a blessing in and of itself. We can afford to stay home and play. And we got some adult mommy time and adorable pictures. Was it a little hectic knowing that 18 people were going to be in my house? A little. Did I break a plate and a glass in the chaos? Sure did. Was it worth it? Always!!

I drove to College Station. Yeah, an hour and a half drive was really tiring after my night and day, but now the blessings: I have a car to drive. I have family waiting in College Station for us to arrive. Brandon's grandmother is out of the hospital and back home, which is the reason why we're going to College Station in the first place. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

And maybe the funniest of all is that I almost complained about having to email volunteers. I laughed out loud at myself when that thought crossed my mind. There is NOTHING a nursery coordinator loves more than volunteers. I don't want to force people to serve, because then it's not service. I don't want to ask people to step away from church or Bible class, their worship time, to help with children if they don't want to. So for people to willingly say, "Use me whenever and wherever you can", I just want to kiss their feet and say BLESS YOU CHILD! Even if all they want is to show up one hour a Sunday one Sunday a month, hallelujah praise Jehovah! Every little bit is welcomed!

I've always known the phrase, "God loves a cheerful giver" to be related to monetary giving, but tonight I realized it's so much more. God loves a cheerful giver of anything- their money, their time, their ability, their patience... God loves all of the people who are serving "the least of these". Man, call me biased, but I think people who work with children are visions of Jesus on earth.

Maybe it's because I'm giddy with excitement that I finished my work and I get to go to bed. Maybe it's because I finished reading "The Shack" today and just feel awesome. Whatever the reason, I'm just feeling extra blessed today.

And I didn't even mention Brandon or Brooklyn. Don't even get me STARTED on how blessed I REALLY am :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Children's Songs Revisited

I've ranted about the bizarre words of children's songs and nursery rhymes before, but it's time to revisit this topic.

It's raining cats and dogs outside, so when Brooklyn woke up today we went outside and stood on the porch to watch the rain. I said, "What are some songs we know about the rain?"

The itsby bitsy spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

She loves this song, but today it reminded me of cockroaches and the nuclear holocaust. Morbid? Yeah, but really, if it's raining enough to make a lake outside of our apartment, I really hope the spiders don't survive and continue to climb the water spout, or any other part of the building for that matter. I thought only roaches can live through natural traumatic events like this.

Then there was this one:

It's raining, it's pouring
The old man is snoring.
He bumped his head when he went to bed
And couldn't get up in the morning.

Umm... he's probably in a coma. Sounds like he hit his head hard enough to give himself a concussion, so if it's not a coma, then the reason he can't get up in the morning is that he's dead. I don't really want to sing songs that imply death comes after it rains.

And while we're still on rain songs, does anyone know the rest of the words to:

Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day

Is that it? Pretty lame excuse for a kid's song if you ask me.

But as usual, no one asked me.

Friday, January 6, 2012

"Good Girl"

Brace yourself, I'm going to brag. I'm a mom. I'm entitled to brag on my child some, and I don't think I do it enough, so here goes.

Brooklyn has done SO many things the past few days that have impressed, surprised and excited me. I'm not saying she's a wise old sage or even that she's more advanced than others her age. For goodness sake, the kid tried to brush her teeth with her hair brush tonight, so I'm obviously not teaching distinction well enough. A brush is a brush, right?

But still. In the past couple of days Brooklyn has done so much more than she was able to do even last week. She can identify Elmo, Big Bird, Count, Grover, Cookie Monster. She can point out cats, dogs, birds, lions, monkeys, ducks bees, and more that I'm forgetting. She showed me that she knew what books, baseballs, ears, eyes, teeth, noses, hands, and feet are. All from me asking, "Brooklyn, where's ____". She holds up her feet when I tell her we need to put her shoes and socks on. When Brandon wakes her up from a nap she starts stretching to remind him of their routine. Yesterday we couldn't find the Xbox controller, so we asked Brooklyn, "Where did you put Daddy's Xbox controller?" She walked into the living room and pointed by the recliner- exactly where it was. She can say the words mama, daddy, cat, go, uh-oh, mud (weird, yes, but it's in a book and she repeated it), thank you, hi, bye, night (as in night-night), no. She can sign all-done, daddy, milk, more, and ball.

And tonight she showed me the sign for "who" and "shh". So when I was really proud of her and called her a good girl, she one-up'ed herself, signing "girl" while repeating "good girl". I picked her up in my arms and she laid her head on my shoulder, giving me a hug and saying "good girl" over and over.

Even as I write this, my eyes are welling up with tears.

I don't care if she is top, bottom or middle of her classes in school. I don't care if she is off the charts gorgeous or plain jane. I don't care about any of that, because I know that I have a "good girl", and to me that's all that matters.

I'm going to share a song with you. It's a Beatles song that I didn't know before my sister got married 7 1/2 years ago. It's one of the sweetest songs I've ever heard, and has become one of Brooklyn's lullabies. We sing this to her constantly.

"I Will"

Who knows how long I've loved you?
You know I love you still.
Will I wait a lonely lifetime?
If you want me to, I will.

For if I ever saw you
I didn't catch your name.
But if never really mattered,
I will always feel the same.

Love you forever and forever.
Love you with all my heart.
Love you whenever we're together.
Love you when we're apart.

And when at last I find you,
Your song will fill the air.
Sing it loud so I can hear you.
Make it easy to be near you.
For the things you do endear you to me.
Ah, you know I will.

I will
Love you forever and forever.

If you've got a "good girl" or a "good boy" in your life, tell them how much you love them, and praise be to God tonight and forever!

Monday, January 2, 2012

CVS Band Aids

Got a little story for you, Ags.

We drew names for Christmas presents this year. It turned out to be extremely humorous when I bought Ruth Ann things she already owned and Patrick bought me Black and Decker tools. Long story short, we made lists on Facebook of what we wanted (I obviously ignored Ruth Ann's and thought I was being clever. Ha.) and I listed "rotary cutter" as one thing I would like for Christmas. Patrick, bless his heart (you can say whatever you want about a person as long as you say "bless his/her heart" in front of it), thought he was buying me the right thing. He even called Brandon to try and make sure that was really what I wanted. From what I was told later, the conversation went something like this:

Patrick: She said she wanted a rotary tool but that it was supposed to be only like 10-15 dollars. This one is like 30.
Brandon: Well, maybe she was looking at a cheap one when she looked.
P: Maybe. Or maybe she was talking about the accessories that go with it. Those cost 10. I could get her the tool and the accessories. Would she like that?
B: Yeah, that'd be great!

So on Christmas when I opened it and was dumbfounded and had to ASK what I had received...

Patrick: You wanted a rotary.
Me: A rotary cutter... it's a quilting tool.
P: Oh. Well, I didn't know. Brandon thought it was the right thing too.
B: If you had told me it was Black and Decker I would have KNOWN you were wrong!

Anyway, as neat as a real rotary is, I don't do much handiwork around the apartment. And since Patrick was gracious enough to leave me the gift receipt, I swapped it for the tool I wanted.

And let me tell you: that thing is COOL! This 45 mm blade cuts through fabric like nobody's business. I'm finally starting my t-shirt quilts, so I cut up all my old favorites yesterday as step one. I also, however, cut my hand in the process. And let me tell you: that thing is SHARP! I don't even want to admit that I cut myself with a sharp object. It's akin to Ralphie finally saying, "Oh no, I shot my eye out!" at the end of "A Christmas Story". You don't want to prove all the wise men right. But yeah, I wasn't careful with my new toy and gave myself a nice sliver of a cut.

Rotary cutter- very neat tool. Very useful for my project.

CVS band-aids- absolutely worthless. You cannot even drink from a slightly sweaty cup without soaking up the stickiness and making it fall off. And don't even THINK about washing your hands or any dishes. Uh uh. No sir. I have gone through literally 1/3 of a box of these stinkin' band aids just trying to keep my tiny cut from being aggravated. I can't stand when a product works perfectly well and then someone goes and makes the knock off, which we cheap folks buy, and then are seriously disappointed by when they don't work. Welcome to my soapbox on corporate greed. Everyone wants to turn a buck so they take other people's great ideas and make them suck because people will buy them if they're cheaper. Here's some honest truth: some things are worth paying the extra money for. Pampers work. Cheerios and Toasty O's do not taste the same. Next time I'm shelling out the money for REAL Band Aids. And also I'm probably going to just be more careful with sharp objects.