Friday, February 27, 2009

My Triannual Emotional Meltdown

True confessions time: Yesterday I was trying to cornrow Anna's hair, which still takes me too long and frustrates me too much because I'm just getting the hang of it, and the movie of choice was not holding her attention. As she started to wander off in the middle of a row again, I yanked her back toward me hard as I barked "Sit down NOW!" loud and mean enough to scare us both to tears.


And that was the good day this week.

Okay, I exaggerate; it hasn't been that bad. But it has been a long week.

Last weekend we had a lot of fun time with friends, but it was busy. Saturday we re-perfected the house for the house listing photo shoot. Then I tried to work at the pizza place--hey, it's not bad, it has an ocean view--and a freaking Miley Cyrus birthday party broke out. Nothing nurtures productive concentration like seven-year-old girls prancing around with fake microphones shrieking "I wanna be a rock star!" They are lucky the pinata they smacked five feet away from me did not resemble Ms. Miley herself, or I would have beat the snot out of it myself. Needless to say, I did not get as much done as I'd hoped, and I went into the week tired.

Sunday we had Frontline. Monday we had Young Life. Starting Tuesday Aaron had a problem with his blood thinners, apparently, that had him anxiously waiting to get in for a test and wondering if he should cancel a youth event. And since just the thought of blood and doctors is enough to make me woozy, I was anxious too. I've realized I've been tense and clenching my jaw enough to give me the splitting headache I had Tuesday.

And so it was that on Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 'round about suppertime, I had my Triannual Emotional Meltdown. I am usually quite even-keeled, but at a certain point I break and go batsnot insane. My husband is fortunate that it does not happen more frequently, because it is not pretty. It is almost as ugly as my Semi-Annual Murderous Anger Explosion of Doom.

The EmoMelt consists of a tsunami of tears occurring in unpredictable rise and retreat cycles. Since the tsunami is triggered below the surface of the unstable female, few signs and warnings indicate to the hapless husband that he should shut the heck up and, if possible, retreat to higher ground. The aftershocks may last as few as fifteen minutes or as long as 36 hours. Fortunately, occasional occurrences over the last twelve years have led my husband to develop a fairly sophisticated warning system, leading him to flee the kitchen area with little one in tow, saving him from almost certain death divorce.

The good news is that I did feel better after my EmoMelt, my later hair outburst notwithstanding. But these days are still busy, busy, busy and the future very uncertain, and I sometimes catch myself clenching my jaw or losing my patience or blinking for upwards of five seconds while reading, and I know I'm not yet winning the war for a balanced life and a peaceful soul.

But recognizing an emotional meltdown for what it is and learning to let it come and let it go--knowing that sometimes you'll feel better if you just have that cry instead of trying to hold it all together--for me, sometimes that is half the battle.

The other half is not causing too much collateral damage to unsuspecting family members along the way. I'm thankful I have a husband who gives me plenty of grace (and a wide berth) when I am overwhelmed and a daughter who swiftly demonstrates forgiveness through hugs and kisses and an insistent tug on the finger to go jump on the bed again.

As Lent began this week, I saw again how far removed I am from who I'm supposed to be. But I'm hoping to gain a little ground each day, even if only three steps forward, two steps back.

And I hereby declare: I'm giving up emotional freak-outs for Lent.

Jesus and my husband will be so pleased.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Deep Thought

Do you think my two-year-old will understand if I tell her she's giving up Elmo for Lent?

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, February 23, 2009

Early Intervention Results Show

Okay, it's not a show, and I won't drag it out for an unnecessary hour like a certain Idol pursuit. But I know some of you have been wondering how the Early Intervention evaluation went last week.

First of all, how can you not love a person who comes in and immediately starts playing? And brings her own toys to share? Anna is a fan already. "Dr. Jill," we'll call her, basically (1) explained EI to us, (2) played and talked with Anna to see what she can do, and (3) asked us questions to evaluate Anna. Even though we were only concerned about speech, they do a basic assessment of all areas of development.

Hey, guess what? She's normal or high in every area except "expressive communication," which is basically speech (as opposed to "receptive communication," i.e., hearing and understanding).

Recognizing pictures in a book? No problem, one of her favorite pastimes. Push buttons? Easy. Body parts? Know 'em (just don't say 'em). Eating, scribbling, tooth brushing, following directions, taking off clothes--check to the fifth power. Running? Umm, yeah. She runs laps around the house for fun. Jumping, a three-year-old skill? Yes, we'll see you her hopping all the way across a room getting major air and raise you her doing a cheerleading routine in rhythm. (Dr. Jill thought the Irish Rumble was pretty good!)

The next day Dr. Jill called to say that yes, the evaluation scored out as she suspected, and Anna qualifies for services in expressive communication (only). That means that next week she will come back with her partner, who is an actual speech pathologist, and do more in-depth evaluation more specific to Anna's language abilities. Then they will write up a plan for what they/we should do to work with her.

I'm glad (like any proud parent) that Anna is doing so great in so many areas but I'm also glad she qualified for speech services. I'm actually surprised how glad I am. But I'd rather her qualify than have her score borderline and still wonder if she's really okay or if she is being held back by something. I'm interested to see what we learn about how she learns that can help us to help her throughout her development. Pretty amazing what grants and tax dollars can provide.

And how did Anna follow up on this visit on Saturday?

"Hi kitty."

"Hi Dada."

Yes, she was echoing my "Say 'hi kitty'" instructions, but she did do it several times, like it was clicking in her brain that she can say two words together.

Maybe that was "Wolf!" that she cried?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Anna Saying Naooooooooow

Anna finally started saying no a few weeks ago. She says it most adorably, like a cat pronouncing the word now. Aaron likes to ask her dumb questions just to get her to say it. Here for your amusement is some video of her thinking we're morons for not knowing this is Pooh, plus other adorable overdose material.

(Aren't you glad I finally figured out that adding video is easy? Duh.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For Sale Sign Is Up!

It's official.

And suddenly I feel like everyone's staring at me.

We had the place looking great inside when the real estate agent came on Friday. Not a book or a dish or a Mr. Potato Head part out of place. But he didn't take pictures. So I had to keep the joint spotless for a full 72 hours until our Monday morning meeting. I know. But apparently it's possible. He still didn't take pictures (too rainy/dark), but that allowed me extra time to clean up a few more things and hang curtains to cover the back of the room-dividing bookshelves upstairs--the curtains I bought a year and a half ago. Wow, this place is just like I want it. I could live here forever for another five months.

I don't expect a flood of buyers right away (okay, at all), but I'm going to try to keep good habits in case someone wants to look on short notice. I guess that means no more putting clothes "away" on the closet floor or pretending not to see the dishes that need to be hand washed. Good thing we have a little helper.

Too bad she also spreads small plastic objects around like a preschool full of Tazmanian Devils.

If you know anyone who would like to relocate or invest in a charming beachside community on the gorgeous central Oregon coast, let them know:

3 bedroom, 2 bath
Open floor plan, high ceilings
Large master suite loft with office area and deck
2 car garage, storage shed
Dog and cat negotiable

Monday, February 16, 2009

What's the Gesture for Highfalutin?

Ah, this explains everything.

Baby's gestures reflect family's wealth
Infants with parents of high socio-economic status have bigger non-verbal repertoires, a study shows

New evidence suggests that the better a baby is at grasping the meanings of these hand gestures, the better his or her vocabulary will be by preschool age - which is itself a known predictor of future academic success.

The new study out of the University of Chicago, which appears today in the journal Science, also found that children from higher socio-economic backgrounds have a distinct advantage over those from lower-income backgrounds. They gesture more as babies and have larger vocabularies at age 4½.

So my baby girl's not a tiny mime because she's at all developmentally behind in her speech. It's actually because we are rich, demonstrative snobs.

Someone forgot to tell my checkbook. It's acting all lower-income again.

Of course this is just one study and the comments on this article bring up some good points as to why I wouldn't put too much stock in it. But it will be interesting to hear what the Early Intervention people have to say about how gestures and speech relate. They come to evaluate Anna on Thursday morning. I fully expect her to start speaking in long paragraphs on Wednesday night, just to make me look like The Parent Who Cried Wolf.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Toddler Bed Time

Aaron converted Anna's crib to a toddler bed last week, sort of on a whim when he realized it wouldn't be too hard. She cried/whined more than usual at bedtime, but shockingly, she did not get out of bed. She stayed in it the next day at nap time too, even as she protested her nap at great length and volume because she was overtired from a busy morning. It's like she hasn't figured out yet--thankfully--that she could just get out and play with toys or try to escape the room. We're keeping our ears close to the monitor for when she does, though!

I always check on her before I go up to bed to make sure the room's not too cold and put a blanket over her. That first night in her "big girl bed," she looked so small when I went in, instead of like a giant sprawled across her crib. My tiny baby, a big girl!

No babies Only one baby fell out during this transition

"Wakin' Up Is Hard to Do"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

So Tired. Period.

There's this old worship song that starts "I am so tired..." We are singing it--stopping there.

So tired. Period.

Aaron has his usual busyness plus he is preaching this week. Friday is usually his day off but he thinks he still needs to polish his sermon a bit.

I have lots of editing work calling, but I have been cleaning the house top to bottom. Scrubbing cupboards. Touching up paint. Washing windows and sills. Organizing closets. I even found an old oak desk under stacks of paper in my office. Who knew? Archaeological analysis indicates the surface may have sat untouched for two to three years.

I still have to clean up our bedroom and clean out the closet. Blaaaaaah. I will probably do it tonight, though, because a real estate agent is meeting us here tomorrow about getting this place listed. I mean sold! He told me on the phone that sales are down about 45 percent from last year (in volume, not price), so we have to be competitive if we want to sell it, not just list it. And we need to sell. Thus my compulsion to make a good first impression on him and every potential buyer.

Meanwhile, I have determined that we need to either move or have an adoption home study every two years. It's the only way this place gets whipped into shape!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

P.S.: My mother made me those pants circa 1978. They are corduroy and yes, a little flared. And very, very groovy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Pre-Sale Blues

Where have I been all your life? Well, much of the last few days I've been painting a wall. Yep, just a wall. We have this crazy open floor plan and barrel-vaulted (now doesn't that sound fancy?) ceiling, and that big main wall was rather dinged up and dirty. But because much of the house is connected, with the walls and ceiling sloping way up to the loft, to paint the whole room would require scaffolding, patience, and bravery which we do not possess. Thus I decided, after perhaps one too many decorating shows, that just one wall could be painted. It's now an accent wall (now doesn't that sound stylish?).

View from the loft, before/getting ready to paint:


Yes, I hate those black ceiling fans with a burning passion. See scaffolding problem.

This was the only other "big thing" I really wanted to get done before getting our house on the market; the rest is basically cleaning, organizing, touching up paint. But there is quite a bit of that stuff to do and unfortunately my recent flurry of motivated activity was short-lived. I've got to get back to making my mornings productive. But today the phone guys were here (rewiring so our phone and DSL work right when it rains--kind of handy in Oregon) and I spent way too long doing hair, and tomorrow I have an appointment. Not sure when we'll get a real estate agent out here but hopefully soon. Then I will have no choice but to get to work before buyers start coming.

Or I'll be really depressed if they never do. Ack! Let's not think of it.

Friday, February 06, 2009


First, the good. I thought these triangle parts I did a while back turned out cute. Easy enough, too.

This first attempt at cornrows . . . not so much. Must be my extra thumbs.

I know practice makes perfect, though. I'll have to keep trying.

Anyone have links to a good cornrow tutorial with pictures and/or video? How did you learn? Teach me, O skilled ones.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Like Cops, Only More Embarrassing

Great Moments in Youth Ministry

We had about 30 teenagers here for the Super Bowl last week, as is our custom. We project the game on the wall—now in 3-D!—and even have balcony seating (in the loft). Aw yeah, this is a party house. (And it could be yours! For sale!)

Monday we had perhaps the greatest Young Life scavenger hunt ever: Mattress Madness. Four groups of about eight kids, each group carrying a mattress around town on a photo scavenger hunt. Leaders drove around trying to catch them; they would lose points if they were tagged not all jumping up and down on their mattress. Like idiots. Highlights:
  • I got to ride shotgun with a night vision video camera and a ten-thousand-jiggawatt spotlight (I'm sure that's legal).
  • In an attempt at a spy-vs-spy -style sneak attack, I jumped out and sprinted two blocks with a Mag light, alarming some guy who seem unsure if I was robbing him or being robbed.
  • One kid got yelled at by a grumpy cop for running into the street to flag down the cop car.
  • One group got eggs thrown at them; one girl got hit in the head.
  • The Post Office and some banks will see one heck of an entertaining show if they look at their security camera footage.
In short, it was awesome. It was like Cops meets . . . a bunch of idiots jumping up and down on mattresses.

Alas, all photos are currently undergoing forensic examination to see which groups cheated (most). But I'll long treasure the memory in my mind. And in my calf muscles. I really don't do sprinting. Ah, the things the love of young people adrenaline and sugar can compel an old person like me to do.

Overheard in Youth Work:

Impulsive Cop-Chasing Student: "I said we need our picture with your car and he said, 'You're about to be in my car!'"

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Monday, February 02, 2009

Making Goals: How Alive Am I Willing to Be?

"You can't make footprints in the sands of time if you're sitting on your butt. And who wants to make buttprints in the sands of time?"
Bob Moawad

As I've already mentioned, last week I wrote up two things: (1) my To-Do List of Doom and (2) ongoing and specific goals for various aspects of my life.

The first is pretty much what it sounds like: things that have to be cleaned up, cleaned out, fixed up, organized, and checked off in order to get our house on the market and get moving toward moving, as well as some paperwork type things like readoption and taxes and--oh joy! welcome back to my life!--FAFSA forms.

My personal goals are a revival of what FunnyWriterMommy and I used to work on together when we had our pseudo-accountability (pseudo because who are we kidding, we were still slackers) and writing times together. We'd taken ideas from a couple books we'd read and made it into this process of writing personal goals for all aspects of our lives: spiritual, physical, relationships, vocation, use of time and money, and so on.

Some of these goals were ongoing every day, week, or month: drink so much water a day, take a sabbath day each week, go on a date with husband once a month. Some were more specific tasks to be done in a certain time frame: this month I will finish reading X book, make gift for so and so, clean closet and donate old clothes, outline X writing project.

Then every quarter we'd get together and admit how much we sucked at meeting our goals.

So I figured, hey, I don't need FunnyWriterMommy around to suck at meeting goals!

Last week I finally actually sat down and thought through those areas of my life and prioritized some goals. And wow, do I have a lot of room for improvement.

I'm trying to trim the fat from my body and our budget.

I need to get the house ready to show, get control of my inbox, and get more productivity out of each day.

I'm confessing that I'm a freelancer who doesn't market, a writer who doesn't write, a youth worker/youth pastor's wife who hardly ever reads the Bible, a stay at home mom who barely plays with her child more days than not.

Hey, I'm a picker, I'm a grinner, I'm a lover, I'm a sinner . . . and I bet you are too. We pick and choose what "disciplines" we adopt. We grin and say everything's fine when we meet those acquaintances in front of the store, even if we're overwhelmed by what we left behind closed doors. We love to be loved, and we sin to be sinners, because the truth is we really like that truism that everyone has their weakness, because we really love having ours.

The thing is, a discipline is not a discipline if you only do it when you feel like it. That's a hobby. As my crazy drill sergeant math teacher would bark, "Discipline is doing what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it, even if you don't want to." It's that last part we all make an art form out of denying.

But confession is good for the soul.

Discipline is good for the life.

I confess I've had too little of each, but I'm starting over again.

And I'll need you to help me do that again too. Again, and again, and again.

Because to fail at my goals? I can do that on my own. But to move forward, I can't walk alone. And I want to live a life that's not just keeping up but really going somewhere, whether I can see what's ahead or I'm feeling stuck in between.

"How alive am I willing to be?"

I wanna see miracles
To see the world change
Wrestled the angel for more than a name
For more than a feeling
For more than a cause
I'm singing 'Spirit, take me up in arms with You'
And you're raising the dead in me

It was a beautiful letdown
When I crashed and burned

When I found myself alone unknown and hurt

It was a beautiful letdown
The day I knew

That all the riches this world had to offer me
Would never do . . .

Easy living, not much like your name
Easy dying, you look just about the same

Won't you please take me off your list

Easy living please come on and let me down

We are a beautiful letdown,
Painfully uncool,
The church of the dropouts

And losers and sinners and failures and the fools

Oh what a beautiful letdown

Are we salt in the wound

Let us sing one true tune

lyrics from Switchfoot, "Twenty-Four" and "Beautiful Letdown"

*quote from Anne Lamott

It Burns, It Burrrrrrnses!

Warning: If you are allergic to Visine, don't put it in your eye.

How will you know, you ask? Ah, funny thing about that--you can't know until you've already put it in your eye.

But don't worry. It's only a scratchy, burning sensation and lids swollen like you've been crying for hours (with one eye).

Take it from me, ol' Puffyface McRedEyedWetzel, who found this out last night and still looks like she was punched in the face.