Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mommy Challenge #1: "Don't you let them"

A couple months ago, my hubby and I were crunching the numbers -- as we do often, being a family of 4 and living on 1 income -- looking for areas where we could cut back.  Time and again during prior number-crunching ceremonies, the issue of cutting cable had come up, but we always nixed it, owing to our need for entertainment for the kids and escape time for us.  This time when the issue came up, however, we really looked at each other.  Could we do it?  we mused aloud.  We could at least give it a try, we agreed.  So, rather reluctantly, we (literally) pulled the plug the next day.  (Side note:  cable guys who come out to unhook your cable when you're not in obvious throes of moving look at you like you've just plunged off the deep end.)

I have to admit, I suffered classic, unmistakable symptoms of withdrawal.  I felt lost, I felt unmoored from the world and the remote seemed to taunt me.  What if we missed the greatest episode of "Chopped" ever (as in, what if there were eagle eyes or pig brains in the basket?  If you've ever seen "Chopped," you know exactly what I mean...)?  What would I do without the voyeuristic comfort of "House Hunters" every night?  What about "Will and Grace" in the mornings, when the kids were finally enmeshed in their play and I could grab a second cup of coffee?  And for heaven's sake, what about "Project Runway"???

These were my initial thoughts but I'm also going to admit something else.  True confession time:  I love junk TV.  I mean, I really *love* it.  Give me a Real Housewives of Wherever and I'll sit and watch it in utter fascination.  Getting a chance to watch how the priviliged and elite live (and waste their money and ruin their marriages)?  Uh, yes please!  It's the best and truest example of watching the metaphorical train wreck -- that state of being unable to look away. 

But suddenly I was forced to look away.  Because there was nowhere to look, nothing to look at!  I didn't quite get into cold sweats and trembling hands, but I was pretty miserable at first.  Then, slowly, I began to notice there was far less noise in my head.  When I was loading the dishwasher I wasn't thinking about Josh from "Million Dollar Listing."  I wasn't wondering who stomped off had a heated discussion on "The View" that morning.  Even getting a break from the benign influences of Ina Garten and Paula Deen was a huge relief.  I could just cook a meal and not worry about whether I was using "good" olive oil!

So.  Fast-forward to now.  I've been clean for a couple months and honestly, I just could never go back to watching cable like I once did.  In addition to saving quite a chunk of change each month and having that blessed relief from all the brain noise, I also seem to have gained hours in my days.  Naptime for my babies now seems to stretch ahead of me with all kinds of possibilities, and isn't just a matter of two 1-hour shows.  Life is measured by other rhythms, my mind filled with clearer thoughts, our money saved or more wisely spent on better things.

You know, I've heard TV described as "soulless."  And how true is that?  Do you know there are people who sit in conference rooms, discussing how to get you glued to a show so they can get more and better advertising dollars, so they can pad their pockets and *get rich off you*?  I'm reminded of the lyrics in James Taylor's song, "You've Got a Friend":
...People can be so cold.
They'll hurt you and desert you.
Well, they'll take your soul if you let them.
But don't you let them.

So here's my challenge to you, dear readers:  Consider cutting cable.  Think about it.  If not, just think about majorly cutting back on your viewing time.  Please don't think I'm preaching to you...I'm a self-admitted former junk TV junkie, after all!  I just know what it's like on the other side of things.  And I highly recommend it.  I know what I've gained:  time, money, peace.  I also know what I've lost:  I don't keep up with the Kardashians.  Weep for me if you must.  *wink*

Note:  This is the first of a post series I'm beginning called "Mommy Challenges."  Which isn't at all meant to be limited to mommies only, but is geared toward mommies who want to live better lives for themselves, their husbands, and especially their children.  "Better" meaning simpler, fuller, richer, more focused lives.  This is my goal and I would love to encourage you to join me!
Another Note:  We still offer our kids plenty of entertainment, which I plan on cutting back as well.  It's too easy to buy Nick Jr. DVDs at Target.
Final Note:  "Project Runway" is available on within a few hours of original episode airing.  There's simply no need to live without Tim Gunn (perish the thought!).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A prayer

As I walked through the house tonight on my usual trek of checking and double-checking locks (thanks for this habit, Daddy), I had to move Puppy's new Cozy Coupe out of my way.  Except when I saw it, I didn't see it.  Instead I saw the delighted face of my sweet son, the expression he wears every time he crawls inside, shuts the door oh-so-carefully, and then begins to turn the key and spin the wheel around.  In his little mind, Will is driving off to parts unknown, exploring the world and having adventures.  I realize this and my heart breaks just a tiny bit.

Lord, it's going too fast.  Slow it down, slow it down.

Then I remember earlier today when Will was zooming several of his cars across the landscape of my desk while I sat at my laptop.  He was moving cars up and down a red ramp and must have dropped one and bent to retrieve it because I heard a sudden bump and the telltale shock-cry start up.  I looked at him over the desk and our eyes met and there I saw the tearful, unspoken plea:  "Mama, I'm hurt and I need you!"  As quickly as I could I rounded the desk and scooped him up and rubbed his head and whispered in his ear that he was okay, it was okay, it was just a nasty bump, and Mama has a mean ole desk.  I held him until he was calmed and as I began to release him, he held on tighter.  I squeezed him back.  And then I whispered "Mama loves you.  I love you very much."  And we kept squeezing and holding for another few minutes.  And my heart broke just a tiny bit.

He won't always want me to hold him.  These baby arms will grow and mature and change and reach for other comforts.  Should I have been at my laptop?  Perhaps I should have been playing with him, seizing every moment of his babyhood.  I have to play with him more.  Lord, it's going too fast.  Slow it down, slow it down.

And earlier tonight, as I reached down to lift him from the bathtub, I could hardly register the wet weight of my big little boyWhen did he get so big?  I took him to his bedroom and toweled him off and we worked on learning another vocabulary word.  He pointed to my elbow and said "ball," as he has done often before.  I shook my head and said "No, Puppy, 'elbow.'  Say it with Mama, ellll-booow."  He looked up at me and said confidently, "bow."  I shook my head again but this time with an encouraging smile, "Close," I said.  "Look at Mama's lips:  ellll-booow."  He watched my lips carefully as I repeated myself, then with the sound of a question in his tone, said "ehh-bow?"  YES!  I shouted and clapped for him.  Yes, sweet boy, yes.  You learned a word.  You're learning this beautiful language that your Mama loves so much.  But not nearly as much as the sound of it coming from your precious mouth.  I hear it and my heart breaks just a tiny bit.

One day we'll talk.  We'll have so many conversations, my son and I.  We'll be great pals and hopefully he'll love coffee and we'll drink it together and we'll have chats and he'll tell me about his life and his plans and his dreams.  But please, Lord, not yet.  Lord, it's going too fast.  Slow it down, slow it down.

Link Love

Here's another recurring post that I want to get going:  my favorite recent posts from around the blog-o-sphere.
  • A post on potty-training a little man.  (My guy is nowhere near ready at 24 months, but maybe in another 2-3?  Even if it's another 6 months, that's okay with me.  But I like what Whitney says about waiting to have a gut feeling that your kid is ready.  Good advice!)
  • A great website for couponers and deal-mongers like myself!  Just found it today (through a friend on Facebook) and I've already bookmarked it.  LOVE this.
  • I'm linking the "Best Of" from this site because I just love Rhoda's thrifty and "you are unique" approach to design and decorating.  Take a gander around her site; soooo lovely!
  • The Naptime Chef.  Need I say more?  Well, I'll let her speak for Kelsey's "About Me" page and you'll want to adopt her approach to meal-making.  I don't know that I'll do this every naptime (since I love a good nap myself) but I love that someone else has figured out some meals I can whip up during that time.
  • Just because she's more in love with France than I am.  And that's saying somethin'.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Daybook

And so it returns!  This recurring post was perhaps my favorite to do on my other blog(s).  I'm so happy to be blogging again...

Outside:  Looks sunny and hot right now but I'm hoping for a return to the weather we had last night.  We went to the park and pushed the babies in swings and just really enjoyed being outside and not miserable!  It was still somewhat warm and humid, but this particular park has trees that are probably 200+ years old, so there's a wonderful canopy.  I loved watching the babies swinging with dappled sunlight highlighting their hair.
Thinking:  About competing in a writing contest.  Should I?
Thankful:  That my kids are both playing happily right now.  Lucy is playing with a block puzzle and cooing/singing to herself while Will is playing with letter blocks and counting (although he never gets above 5!).  So often I have to pull Lucy off a very irritated Will because he can't play in peace.  I'm trying so hard to get Lucy involved in her own play; I'm hoping the new toys she gets for her birthday will accomplish this.
From the kitchen:  More aspirations than actual meals this week.  We've been doing the easy fare (hot dogs, breakfast for dinner, pasta) but I'm going to make a big grocery run this weekend and try out some of the recipes in Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook (thanks again, Honey!).
Creating:  I'm working on homemade decorations for Lucy's "Paris Princess" birthday party.  Wish me luck.  I'm not exactly crafty.
Going:  Back to the park tonight!  Looking forward to that.  Also, probably a new church this weekend.  A bit anxious about that.  (Am I the only mom who struggles with leaving her precious babies in a nursery with strangers?)
Reading:  I just finished Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner (I think this was my third of her books to have read?).  I love her.  She can be very irreverent and a teeny touch too much in places but her stories are always heartfelt, funny, and insightful.  Now I need a new book, and I'm always looking for recommendations!
Shopping:  I've never actually purchased anything from Anthropologie, but I'm thinking now might be the time.  They have such beautiful tops on sale right now, like this one (paired with white jeans and some brightly colored flats, ooh la la!).  I love anything loose, breezy, and romantic (okay, and forgiving of my had-2-babies-in-2-years body).
Hoping:  For some good news.
Hearing:  Bee Smart Baby Bumblebee Vocabulary Builder DVD playing for the kids.  In the space of time it's taken to write this post, I've had to redirect my kids about 3 times each and Mommy needs a break. 
A favorite thing:  Coupons that come in packages of diapers.  (I'm mildly obsessed with couponing; I plan to write more about that soon!)  The fact that Marty can come home for lunch.  Lavender-scented Downy.  Netflix!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thought for the day

"Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them." ~David Hume

(photo credit here)

Monday, July 25, 2011

My first Multitude Monday...#1-10

Thankful for:
  1. BBC movie adaptations of 19th century British novels, but mostly a husband who enjoys watching them with me.
  2. A rainshower that somehow provides emotional relief.
  3. The prose of the Apostle Paul's words:  " the beginning, the firstborn from the dead"; "Be not moved away from the hope of the gospel"; "The mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints." (Colossians 1)
  4. Little hands that reach up to touch my cheek or my ears or my chin for comfort's sake as they drift off to sleep.
  5. Cheetos.
  6. The thrill of planning to buy up the bargains advertised in this week's Walgreens circular. 
  7. Naptime. 
  8. A friend who instant-messaged me this morning to say "I love you" and "I'm thinking about you today."  (Friend, you know who you have no idea how you have encouraged me today.)
  9. The simple allure of olive oil, mushrooms, green peppers...Pasta with homemade sauce for dinner tonight.
  10. Thinking about the charity I want to provide at Christmastime this year; it lifts me up to think about what I'll be giving.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

On my mind...and no, it's not Georgia

I wanted to create a recurring post theme to capture whatever happens to be swirling around in the ole noggin' on any particular day, and almost went with "Random."  Since so many of my thoughts, both in reality and that which I'll be expressing here, are uber-random anyway, that wasn't sufficient.  So, without further ado, here's what's "On my mind," installment uno:
  1. I'm quite late to the party, but tomorrow I'll be starting my own sequence of One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp's dare to chronicle God's daily gifts.  My dear friend Kate is already 500 or so into her listing, and I always enjoy what she finds in her life to give praise for.  I love this.  Can I dare everyone out there to do the same?
  2. Speaking of daring, can I dare everyone I love to start blogs?  My purpose in asking is two-fold:  1) I think it's the best way of keeping up with someone (especially when you live far, far away from everyone you love, like me), and 2) this will get me away from The Social Network some more.  I'm really over Facebook but I keep getting sucked in because I log on to see how my peeps are doing!
  3. I keep thinking about getting new shoes.  I don't necessarily *need* new shoes but oh, golly, how'd I love some little red flats with bows, like these?  How cute would those be with dark denim and cardies in the fall?
  4. And yes, I confess, I'm thinking about fall.  As a frequent haunter of Hobby Lobby, how could I not be?  Those pumpkin spice candles lure me into the aisle and before I know it, I'm smelling woodsmoke and hearing leaves crunching and curling deeper into a sweater because of that delicious bite to the air...
  5. Marty and I are also already talking about Christmas gifts, but that's not because we want to rush headlong toward the season; it's really the only economical way to "do" Christmas well -- spread out the buying as much as possible.  So we logged on to American Girl's website today and saw with dismay (like every other parent) the price tags on the dolls.  We looked through the options and we'll probably end up getting Lucy one of the dolls and then add accessories as she gets older (rather than getting several dolls, because you know, if I could afford that, then I could afford to fly to my private island in the Bahamas to celebrate Christmas).  I think for this Christmas, though, we'll go with one of their Bitty Baby dolls, which are much more reasonably priced.
Well, even though I have much more on my mind, I'm outta time!  Be back tomorrow with lots of gratitude.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thought for the day

"Be polite to all, but intimate with few." ~Thomas Jefferson

(photo source here)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blog hiatus, over

Longtime friends, go ahead and roll thine eyes.  Yes, it's *another* new blog.  I guess I'm just trying to find that perfect layout, title, what-have-you.  Here's hoping that this one sticks around longer than its predecessors!

So much to come.  I haven't blogged since February and well, that's a long time for this girl to keep herself from chatting up the Internets.

Be sure to check out the tabs/pages at the top.  More of those to come, too!