back in the spokes-saddle

Phil is unveiling the fruits of his entrepreneurial endeavors and hard, relentless work in 2 weeks at the American Football Coaches Association convention in Nashville and I'll be joining the team as the face of the product. This is all very exciting for all kinds of reasons but I must get ahold of myself... there's a lot to be done. Script writing and memorization on the 'product' end, sprucing up on the 'face' end. (If you notice my mid-winter tan or catch a glimpse of me awkwardly teetering around in heels again you will know it's all part of the preparation... I'm not having a 1/3 life crisis.)

It seems like only yesterday that I said goodbye to the spokesmodel days and hello to Babyland, but it's actually been 4 years since I was hocking those Dodge gas guzzlers. The travel and erratic schedules, it turns out, would not be conducive to breastfeeding, and the dangerous combination of stiletto heels and turntables were certainly not compatible with a pregnant belly.

But I'm no longer pregnant, I have a husband who needs a product specialist and my mother-in-law is brave enough to take my children for a few days. So it looks like I'm back in the game, folks.

Wish me luck, and a speedy tan.

xmas recap

Oh my, what a fun Christmas we had this year. Ocean is finally at the age where Christmas is exciting and magical and he had a grand time opening his gifts. Iris fed off of his enthusiasm and the two of them were just hilarious. The holiday drama I anticipated was non-existent and, all things considered, the kids were fantastic for all the strange travel-related sleeping arrangements and lack of decent naps.

As for the gift assessment, Ocean loved everything, especially the Go Fishing game which I scored at Meijer for about 5 bucks. Iris loved the bows on the presents, so I know what she's getting next year. In retrospect, I should have anticipated the increase in my workload by purchasing a dollhouse. If it wasn't bad enough trying to keep one house clean, I now have a mini-version to keep tidy as well. I wonder if my cleaning lady does dollhouses...? Or Becky, if your elf is currently unemployed and looking for work I may have a sweet gig for him. Room and board included.


ho ho ho

As I was wrapping presents the other night, half-watching Glamour's Fashion Dos and Don'ts (besides the blatantly obvious no-nos such as not letting your undergarments be seen and never over-plucking or drawing on your eyebrows, I learned a little bit... like it's okay to wear white after labor day, and- praise the Lord- panty hose are OUT!) I had this brief moment of thinking that it was nice not feeling stressed out about the holidays. I'm very excited to watch my kids' faces light up on Christmas morning, and to make 'birthday muffins' for baby Jesus, and to spend time with family members whom we don't get to see very often.

Then suddenly tonight I found myself tossing and turning in bed with visions of potential snowstorms and incessant narcissism dancing in my head and I had to come downstairs to take a homeopathic sleep aid (I won't call it a sleeping pill because the FDA won't either). So now here I sit on the couch, continuing to stress about stupid things that aren't even a big deal and certainly aren't in my control anyway. I appreciate the perspective of my almost-3 year-old. The kid knows nothing of holiday stress. Each night at bedtime he excitedly cuts a ring off of his Christmas Chain, we belt out Christmas Carols in the car, we draw pictures of Christmas Trees for his friends... and just tonight he was running in circles yelling, "2 more days until Christmas! Jesus is coming!" (He's certainly right about the former; I just might need a little more time to prepare for the latter.)

So in order to end today on a good note before I end up passing out on the floor from this sleep aid that is seriously no joke, here is my attempt at positive self-talk in order to induce a pleasant slumber: Tomorrow is a new day. I will avoid the crowded insanity of the mall and I will finish wrapping these gifts that were thoughtfully purchased and I will not concern myself with weather problems or poorly timed Big Announcements. I will use caffeine and/or alcohol if necessary. Come hell, high water or Rudolph, I am vowing to be of good cheer, dammit.

And to all a good night.


snow day

We woke up to many, many inches of snow on the ground, and it was still coming down. There was no way any of us were going anywhere and two of us are bootless (ridiculous, I know) so I decided to make the most out of it and have an indoor snow day with the kiddos.

First, we did this:

I filled the kitchen sink with snow, Ocean and I put on our gloves and built tiny snowmen. When our fingers got cold, we did this:

A snow fort under the comforter. After a snack of "snowflakes" (popcorn), we made our own, and hung them in the window of the playroom:

We watched Backyardigans "Snow Fort" while we ate lunch, and the kids went down for a nap. Then Phil had his own snow fun:

We kept watching people get stuck on our street and after a few minutes of watching this guy and realizing he wasn't going to make it without some assistance Phil went out to help. After about 15 minutes, 2 carpet squares, a huge cardboard box and lots of muscle he was liberated.

Soup for dinner, warm baths and tea before bed and lots of wintery christmas carols rounded out our super-fun snow day. I think tomorrow we'll have a beach party... the novelty of all this cold, white stuff will have worn off by the morning.


wednesday beef of the meatless variety

1. Meijer U-Scan Cashier, I realize that it's late and you are almost at a shift change. I myself have worked a 14-hour day and am clearly still working, as I can think of about ten other places I'd rather be than standing in this U-scan line. I know I have a bazillion coupons, eleven of which need to be manually entered in for whatever reason. But really, it's not my fault that I'm getting 21 cents overage on each package of the frozen vegetables. If it's that big of a "problem" for you, oh rogue vigilante cashier, why don't you manually enter in the correct amount instead of getting sassy with the customer? I didn't report you to customer service, by the way, I was just buying stamps. Happy Holidays. Be nicer next time.

2. Underwear Model, if you would like to be taken seriously while quoting Gandhi on your social networking page, it may help if your profile shot isn't a bikini one. And also if you spell Gandhi correctly.

3. Bag Borrow or Steal, you are a bunch of dirty thieves. Dirty. Thieves. That is all.

4. Anonymous Blog Commenters, make sure you read a post c.a.r.e.f.u.l.l.y before hitting the 'send' button on your snarky response. You might have completely misread my post, and you just might make yourself look like a total jerk who is slightly illiterate if you write what you did. You also may want to "re-evalutate" your "excessive use" of "quotation marks".

5. Marijuana-Smoking Teenagers Outside the Mall, the 40-something professional woman in the kick-ass Charles David boots was right: we really can smell your blunt.

6. Hershey's Bliss Milk Chocolate, I love you but you are terrible for my complexion. I am getting a pimple. A PIMPLE, for Pete's sake. I feel like a 7th grader. I just wish I could quit you...



a christmas cleaning song

It's been a long time since I've written any music, but as I was cleaning up the playroom tonight I couldn't help but make a mental note of all I was picking up. Soon this little ditty was running through my head and I couldn't stop myself. To the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas", starring actual items in actual quantities that were in our playroom.

We'll start at the last verse and work backward... otherwise it will become entirely too cumbersome.

While cleaning up the playroom the last thing I did see
Twelve Megablocks
Eleven scraps of paper
Ten cups-a-molding
Nine DVDs
Eight books-a-laying
Seven snacks half-eaten
Six teddy bears
Fiiiiiiiive Wonderbras!
Four dirty towels
Three boxes
Two remote controls
and a dirty diaper (it was just pee!)

(No syke. Try not to judge me.)

cindy lou to the rescue!

My wonderful mother-in-law is coming to Ann Arbor tomorrow to save my toddler's life.

It was either Grandma come here or send him to live with her. Which he actually said he wanted to do at the suggestion, and immediately began gathering his things. I can't say I blame the kid... mommy has been grouchy. But in my defense, my brain seems to short-circuit after a week's worth of nonstop whining and crying (no exaggeration- NON. STOP.) from someone who is generally fairly effective at communicating by "using his words." Yesterday was one long time-out. Today hasn't been much better. I'm being broken down slowly and I can't take it anymore. It's like this. Except I'd trade the whining for a little Rage Against the Machine any day.


ocean thinks iris is a boy.

There's just no clever way to state it. For 12 months we have been trying to convince Ocean, to no avail, that he has a sister and not a brother. Finally we decided to just give up the effort and videotape the evidence. Enjoy.


nap lack

Today, for the first time in the history of my kids' lives, we forewent naps. If you know me, or my kids for that matter, you know what a stretch (and also how insane) this is.

However, our house is on the market and we had two showings back-to-back today, so we had to be out of the house from the time our cleaning lady got there at 11:00 until the end of the last appointment at 4:00. Iris refused her morning snooze by pooping 5 minutes after I laid her down so I pretty much knew I was screwed.

We grabbed lunch and then killed some time at the germ pit at the mall before heading to my parents' house; I was hoping against all hope that the littles would lay down for at least 45 minutes but it was a no-go. Mimi is just too much fun. Plus there were presents under the tree and Dragon Tales was on so you know sleep was not going to be any sort of reasonable option.

Shockingly, my little angels hung in there like troopers until we got in the car to head home. Iris was completely zoned, her pacifier hanging halfway out of her mouth, and she was gripping the string of the balloon that she scored at the mall. Ocean, on the other hand, was screaming, "I don't want food! I don't like food! I hit food!" I hadn't said anything about food, so I assumed he was just hungry and tired and a toddler. So I took a cue from Iris, zoned out, and ignored him. When he started crying, "Mommy, mommy... MOMMMMMYYYYYYY!" I thought he might actually need something so I said, "Yes, Ocean?" He wailed, "I DON'T WANT FOOOOOOD!" I increased the volume of the silly pop station in the speakers which in turn caused Ocean to yell, "I don't like music!"

"This isn't music, Ocean. It's Fergie," I said.

Silence. Followed by, "Ooooohhhhhhh..." He was quiet the rest of the way home, presumably contemplating the limits and parameters within which art is defined.

We got home and they ate the fastest dinner ever and were in bed by 6:12. I thought I was home free until 8:07 when they both woke up thinking they had just had a nap. Ocean was very confused as to why it was dark outside and Iris was just mad that I wouldn't pick her up. A stuffed puppy settled her down and a brand new pair of Thomas the Train big boy underpants over his pajamas lured Ocean back into sweet slumber.

This may have been the longest day of my life. As Fergie is my witness, I will never go napless again.


accidental awesomeness

We recently had a childless friend ask us how you learn to be a parent. It was an intriguing and loaded question but Phil and I both answered the same way: you totally make it up as you go along. I fail a lot. Occasionally though, a seemingly dumb idea ends up hitting the jackpot with my kids. Case in point...

Last week I bought gift cards at Whole Foods. They gave me these little mini-paper bags to put the cards in. Normally I wouldn't have taken them since I planned to use the gift cards myself, but they were just so cute and I thought we could do an art project with them.

This evening Phil had a meeting and I needed to go to the store. After dinner I packed up my very exhausted kids and started to head out. As I pulled my keys out of my purse I saw the little bags. I gave one to each kid and told them that they were our special shopping bags, and they could keep their coupons in them. Instantly the crankiness was gone and they were so excited. I stuck a coupon in each bag and they both held onto them the entire shopping trip. It was a stroke of genius (or desperation) that just happened to stave off a couple of emotional breakdowns. The shopping trip was successful... we got home and I put their shopping bags with our other reusable bags for next time. But first I took this picture:

Now if anyone has any ideas on how to get my child out of this "pockey shirt" that he's been wearing for 4 days, I'm all ears.


i must have pissed off the christmas decoration gods.

I always- I mean ALWAYS- wait until after Thanksgiving to put up my holiday decorations, you guys. Maybe it's the snow on the ground. Maybe it's the idea that Ocean will actually "get it" this year. Whatever the reason, I got all hopped up on hot chocolate and Christmas music and decided it was TIME.

First we lugged the tree up from the basement. This is our first artificial tree. We purchased it last year at Home Depot for $14 after Christmas. Huge. Phil cracked open the box and we got it set up in about a half hour. Not too shabby. Then the real fun started.

I went back to the basement to find our bins of decorations. I knew for sure there were two. However, I could only find one. Hmmm... since we've had four different addresses and two storage units since the last time we used them there's no telling where on earth (or in Charlotte, Ypsilanti or Ann Arbor) it is. Whatever... I figured we'd just string the lights and put up what we have. Except for one small problem. The lights were NOT in the bin that we had in front of us. Crappity crap crap crap. Off to Target I went at 8:45pm.

I was wise enough to check the sarcophagus to see what else we were missing, and made a mental note to pick up a tree skirt and some beads or garlands of some sort. But that's where the smarts ended, my friends.

I was gabbing away on my phone with Jessica, planning our midnight CVS run tomorrow and I grabbed two boxes of lights. Score. I also found two snazzy glass bead garlands. Awesome. Picked up a tree skirt, a roll of ribbon and a box of solid red ornaments and I was on my way. Got home and pulled the lights out of the bag, telling Phil, "I got two boxes of lights. They're 4 feet by 6 feet... wait. WHAT?" That's right... I bought a net made out of lights. The kind you drape over your bushes. NOT the kind that go on Christmas trees. I swore a little bit. Okay, a lot. Grabbed my keys and headed to CVS at 9:42pm.

I managed to get the correct lights this time. I did realize on the way there that I could have thrown together a deal to get them a lot lot lot cheaper but I also knew they would be closing in minutes so it is what it is, folks. I spent actual money at CVS. The shame.

Got the lights home and Phil put them on the tree. Fabulous. He was tired and decided to go to bed whilst I decorated. I poured myself a mug of hot chocolate and got to work. I opened the new garlands and realized that they were waaaaaay too short to make it even halfway up the tree. Add those to the return bag with the stupid net lights. Opened the ribbon and started to wrap the tree. Do you know that 25 feet of ribbon barely makes it around a 7 foot tree three times? TWENTY-FIVE FREAKING FEET. More cussing and a mental note to buy more ribbon when I return that other crap.

I opened up my ornaments and started placing them. As I was hanging the 4th bulb, I got all butterfingers and dropped it. It seemed to be falling in slow motion. I watched as it bounced off 3 branches and hit the side of the couch. I stuck my hand out to catch it and ended up swatting it down instead... right into the maple floor.

If I didn't have two kids who eat everything they find on the floor I would have left the mess for tomorrow. But I grabbed the broom and cleaned up the shards, wondering the whole time what the heck kind of curse I had called down upon myself for putting up my Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. If anyone knows how to undo the voodoo that I have done, please let me know.

Just as long as it doesn't involve going BACK to Target or CVS tonight.


should i open a therapy account for the kids now?

After Ocean gets disciplined for something, we always 'hug it out' so he knows he's forgiven and things resume as normal. But lately he's been asking me if I'm happy after he comes out of time-out, as if somehow I can only be happy once his transgression has been atoned for. Ugh! How do I deal with this? I want to explain to him that my happiness doesn't depend on his behavior but that's a hard thing to explain to a 2 1/2 year old. Usually we have a weird conversation that goes something like this:

O: Are you happy Mommy?
Me: Ocean, mommy can be happy and frustrated at the same time. Just like mommy can be angry with something you do but still love you.
O: And dinosaurs. Right?

I could say, "Yes, I'm happy," but would that reinforce his idea of conditional love and place a burden on him to people-please? I also want him to believe that I know best (most of the time. Okay, some of the time.), to trust what I say and to be obedient. So maybe letting him know that it does make me proud when he listens and does what I ask isn't such a bad thing.

This morning, after a brief lecture on staying in his seat at the table, he asked, "Are you happy Mommy?" I took the less philosophical way out this time and just answered, "Yes, Ocean, I'm happy." "Good, Mommy," he replied. "You're my sweetheart."


gobble gobble

This time, last year, my water had just broken.

I didn't know I was about to give birth to a 9 pound 10 ounce Thanksgiving turkey.



I love Christmas music. For some strange reason I usually forget to listen to it until the week before Christmas. However, this year I started right after after Halloween and it's really gotten me into the holiday spirit.

My sister gave Ocean a little snow globe that plays about a dozen Christmas carols and we were driving home listening to it play. As soon as I would start to sing along, Ocean would press a little button to switch songs, effectively cutting me off at the best part of the song ("Faaaaaaaall on your kneeeeeeeees..." or " Fiiiiiiiiive golden riiiiiiiiiings" or "Sleeeeeeep in heavenly peeeeeeeeace..." You get the picture. Severely denied each and every every time.) The only song he wanted to listen to all the way through was 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' and, uh, it's the only Christmas song I don't know the words to. So I'm all, "O little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie... above thy deep and da da da, da da da da go by... the little reindeer flying and snowmen all around... hmmmm...hmmmm.... ba-ba-ba... whatever. Skip this. Ocean, change the song!" But he just laughed and let it play out. I'm thinking my singing voice isn't much appreciated in this household.

Anyway, in the spirit of Christmas carols, I'd like to provide a list of my all-time favorite versions of some of those classic holiday songs. In no particular order...

Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams. It makes a believer out of me every time. ("Wow, it really IS the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Thanks, Andy!")

All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah Carey. Leave it to Mariah to put the sex back in Christmas. The little baby Jesus must be so proud.

Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano. You can't get more festive than that. Unless you add Margaritas. And a pinata. Then it's a party.

Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys. Reminds me of our Christmases in Honolulu, or better known as the good old days of Christmas yore.

Whitney Houston's rendition of Do You Hear What I Hear. That woman has some pipes. I'm so glad she's getting her life back together. Crack is indeed whack.

What Child is This by Stacie Orrico. Totally funkified.

Let It Snow by Boyz II Men. Cozy.

Doris Day and Bing Crosby: Baby It's Cold Outside. Classic.

Carol of the Bells. By bells.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. There are lots of great versions of this one, but I am partial to Christina Aguilera's rendering.

And last but not least, Christmas in Hollis by Run DMC. If this doesn't get you in the Christmas Spirit, nothing will.

What about you? What are your favorites?


where did a year go?

Iris turns one this Friday. ONE. I can't believe that much time has passed since she was born; I remember being hugely pregnant like it was yesterday (and "huge" is an understatement. I looked like Kate when she was pregnant with those 6 babies. No lie.) This picture was taken when she was 2 days old. Of course she looks like a 6 month old because she practically gestated for that long past her due date.

Despite the fact that she will have no memory of it, we're giving her a little family party with a puppy dog theme since dogs are her favorite right now. I'll post pictures afterwards... babies + cake always = a riot.


at least he's honest.

Phil and Ocean were laying inside the tent in the playroom today. Let me correct that... Phil was laying in the tent and Ocean was standing on Phil and then launching himself off onto a pile of pillows. After about a half a dozen times of this craziness Phil asked, "Ocean, do you always have this much energy?" Ocean was laying on the floor at this point, on his tummy. He put his chin in his little hands, looked Phil straight in the eye and with all seriousness replied, "Yes. Yes I do."


she walks.

When Ocean was almost a year old, I politely asked him to start sleeping through the night. As of that night, he complied.

So on Tuesday morning I casually brought up the issue of mobility with my 11 month old.
"Iris," I said, "will you please start walking today?"

Not 5 minutes later I was cutting up Ocean's breakfast when I heard a squeal of pure glee. I looked up to see Iris running across the room towards me. It took me about 15 mintues to get the camera; somewhere along the way she lost her pants and a sock, but she never lost the delight. See?


I am so happy. =)



I overheard the following conversation between Phil and Ocean this morning as I was getting ready for church.

Ocean: Where's Mommy going?

Phil: She's getting ready for church.

Ocean: She's going to work?

Phil: You're her work. You're her job.

Ocean: That's a hard job.


faith priorities

My Personal ‘Faith Priorities’ for this Election
by Jim Wallis 10-23-2008

In 2004, several conservative Catholic bishops and a few megachurch pastors like Rick Warren issued their list of “non-negotiables,” which were intended to be a voter guide for their followers. All of them were relatively the same list of issues: abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, etc. None of them even included the word “poverty,” only one example of the missing issues which are found quite clearly in the Bible. All of them were also relatively the same as official Republican Party Web sites of “non-negotiables.” The political connections and commitments of the religious non-negotiable writers were quite clear.

I want to suggest a different approach this year and share my personal list of “faith priorities” that will guide me in making the imperfect choices that always confront us in any election year — and suggest that each of you come up with your own list of “faith” or “moral” priorities for this election year and take them into the voting booth with you.

After the last election, I wrote a book titled God’s Politics. I was criticized by some for presuming to speak for God, but that wasn’t the point. I was trying to explore what issues might be closest to the heart of God and how they may be quite different from what many strident religious voices were then saying. I was also saying that “God’s Politics” will often turn our partisan politics upside down, transcend our ideological categories of Left and Right, and challenge the core values and priorities of our political culture. I was also trying to say that there is certainly no easy jump from God’s politics to either the Republicans or Democrats. God is neither. In any election, we face imperfect choices, but our choices should reflect the things we believe God cares about if we are people of faith, and our own moral sensibilities if we are not people of faith. Therefore, people of faith, and all of us, should be “values voters” but vote all our values, not just a few that can be easily manipulated for the benefit of one party or another.

In 2008, the kingdom of God is not on the ballot in any of the 50 states as far as I can see. So we can’t vote for that this year. But there are important choices in this year’s election — very important choices — which will dramatically impact what many in the religious community and outside of it call “the common good,” and the outcome could be very important, perhaps even more so than in many recent electoral contests.

I am in no position to tell anyone what is “non-negotiable,” and neither is any bishop or megachurch pastor, but let me tell you the “faith priorities” and values I will be voting on this year:

1. With more than 2,000 verses in the Bible about how we treat the poor and oppressed, I will examine the record, plans, policies, and promises made by the candidates on what they will do to overcome the scandal of extreme global poverty and the shame of such unnecessary domestic poverty in the richest nation in the world. Such a central theme of the Bible simply cannot be ignored at election time, as too many Christians have done for years. And any solution to the economic crisis that simply bails out the rich, and even the middle class, but ignores those at the bottom should simply be unacceptable to people of faith.

2. From the biblical prophets to Jesus, there is, at least, a biblical presumption against war and the hope of beating our swords into instruments of peace. So I will choose the candidates who will be least likely to lead us into more disastrous wars and find better ways to resolve the inevitable conflicts in the world and make us all safer. I will choose the candidates who seem to best understand that our security depends upon other people’s security (everyone having “their own vine and fig tree, so no one can make them afraid,” as the prophets say) more than upon how high we can build walls or a stockpile of weapons. Christians should never expect a pacifist president, but we can insist on one who views military force only as a very last resort, when all other diplomatic and economic measures have failed, and never as a preferred or habitual response to conflict.

3. “Choosing life” is a constant biblical theme, so I will choose candidates who have the most consistent ethic of life, addressing all the threats to human life and dignity that we face — not just one. Thirty-thousand children dying globally each day of preventable hunger and disease is a life issue. The genocide in Darfur is a life issue. Health care is a life issue. War is a life issue. The death penalty is a life issue. And on abortion, I will choose candidates who have the best chance to pursue the practical and proven policies which could dramatically reduce the number of abortions in America and therefore save precious unborn lives, rather than those who simply repeat the polarized legal debates and “pro-choice” and “pro-life” mantras from either side.

4. God’s fragile creation is clearly under assault, and I will choose the candidates who will likely be most faithful in our care of the environment. In particular, I will choose the candidates who will most clearly take on the growing threat of climate change, and who have the strongest commitment to the conversion of our economy and way of life to a cleaner, safer, and more renewable energy future. And that choice could accomplish other key moral priorities like the redemption of a dangerous foreign policy built on Middle East oil dependence, and the great prospects of job creation and economic renewal from a new “green” economy built on more spiritual values of conservation, stewardship, sustainability, respect, responsibility, co-dependence, modesty, and even humility.

5. Every human being is made in the image of God, so I will choose the candidates who are most likely to protect human rights and human dignity. Sexual and economic slavery is on the rise around the world, and an end to human trafficking must become a top priority. As many religious leaders have now said, torture is completely morally unacceptable, under any circumstances, and I will choose the candidates who are most committed to reversing American policy on the treatment of prisoners. And I will choose the candidates who understand that the immigration system is totally broken and needs comprehensive reform, but must be changed in ways that are compassionate, fair, just, and consistent with the biblical command to “welcome the stranger.”

6. Healthy families are the foundation of our community life, and nothing is more important than how we are raising up the next generation. As the father of two young boys, I am deeply concerned about the values our leaders model in the midst of the cultural degeneracy assaulting our children. Which candidates will best exemplify and articulate strong family values, using the White House and other offices as bully pulpits to speak of sexual restraint and integrity, marital fidelity, strong parenting, and putting family values over economic values? And I will choose the candidates who promise to really deal with the enormous economic and cultural pressures that have made parenting such a “countercultural activity” in America today, rather than those who merely scapegoat gay people for the serious problems of heterosexual family breakdown.

That is my list of personal “faith priorities” for the election year of 2008, but they are not “non-negotiables” for anyone else. It’s time for each of us to make up our own list in these next 12 days. Make your list and send this on to your friends and family members, inviting them to do the same thing.


called out

I was putting Ocean to bed tonight. After books, songs and prayers the following conversation ensued:

Me: Goodnight! I'll see you in the morning.

O: [looking confused] Where are you going?

Me: To clean up the playroom. I'll see you tomorrow.

O: Where are you going, Mommy?

Me: Where do you think I'm going?

O: [pauses, then grins]... Target?

That little stinker is on to me.


fun with food

This is Ocean's pumpkin. It is currently sleeping in the recliner in his bedroom. We're going to have a hard time explaining things when it comes time to eat it. He thinks the idea of eating animals and pumpkins is silly. "They're my friends!" he says.

Iris vs. Spaghetti.
Spaghetti won.



7 hours of sleep...
a real (non-nursing) bra...
a cup of coffee...

I feel like a new woman.


i feel better.

Thanks for letting me vent.

I've removed my original post because I really, really don't want to be divisive and I don't have the time or energy to defend my position. That is why I don't engage in political discussions beyond "I can't wait until this $#@%!#& election is over." ;)

Alysa, Jason and Candice, thank you for your kind words and prayers. XOXO


i blinked and they grew...

Ocean got a haircut today. This may not seem like a big deal but oh, what a big deal it was.

The first attempt at a non-mommy haircut a few months ago was a big fat failure ending in the longest, loudest, most volatile temper tantrum this side of the equator. I wasn't there to witness it but my typically cool, calm and collected husband was shaken for days. It was so traumatic for my little guy that we still can't drive past that particular barber shop without him screaming, "Don't want a haircut!" and dissolving into tears. It's taken this long to give it another go. And today we had success. He's so proud of his "football player haircut". (I have no idea what that means exactly, but it got him in the chair, didn't it?)

As for Iris, my little firecracker... I can't believe she's almost 11 months old! The bald head and toothless grin really throw people off, myself included. I forget that she's old enough to be talking, and talk she does. Yesterday she had a little gas and after a particularly noisy toot I said, "Toot!" She thought that was hilarious and repeated, "Too! Too! Too! Hehehehehe!" Later on when she was eating dinner she let out another little poot then yelled, "Too! Hehehehehehe!" I laughed, she laughed... it was so fun.

And I can't wait to tell this story to the guys who try to date her.


fat lips, and what does being mortified smell like, exactly?

Iris had her first bleed today. And it was a mouth bleed. The kind that has you keeping one eye on the car keys, thinking, "Should I take her in to get this thing checked out?" I'm a pretty laid-back mom when it comes to boo-boos but there's something about that first cut that makes the earth stop moving. I had to keep reminding myself that mouth bleeds always look a lot worse than they are. Best baby medical advice for maintaining maternal sanity that I've ever received.

It took about two minutes for all of us to calm down and realize she was fine, despite the puffy lip she was sporting. Then she went straight back to the scene of the crime... attempting to walk unassisted while simultaneously terrorizing her older brother. Don't let the big blue eyes and charming smile fool you. That girl is trouble... trouble with a swollen upper lip.


Ocean has entered the phase I have been dreading the most. It's the one where he says whatever is on his mind. I encourage Free Speech and open dialogue in this house but I have not been looking forward to situations such as the one that cropped up this afternoon...

We were in Lowe's searching for house numbers. Ocean was riding in the big basket of the shopping cart, Iris in the seat up front. In one of the aisles we passed an older woman and her adult daughter who both smelled like cigarette smoke. Just as we went around them Ocean pinched his nose and bellowed, "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew! What's that SMELL?!?!"

I can't really fault the kid. To be fair, I wanted to say the exact same thing. But I still couldn't help being embarrassed as I changed the subject: "It's the smell of us going faster! Zooooooooooooooooom!" And we booked it out of there.


live green, save green

I'm going to start updating my enviro-savings blog regularly so if you want to stay up-to-date make sure you bookmark it!

i feel pretty, oh so pretty...

Ocean is quite the little flirt today. He was playing while I was getting Iris dressed and out of the clear blue sky he abruptly stopped his activity, sidled up to me and put his little hand on my shoulder. "Oh, Mommy!" he gushed, "You are sooooooo beautiful!" I returned the compliment (as I was grinning from ear to ear of course) by saying, "Thank you, Ocean. YOU are so beautiful." He responded, "No, I not a grill!" (interpretation: grill=girl.) I corrected myself and told him he was handsome. He seemed satisfied with that and went about his business.

Then this afternoon I met my sister at Old Navy and we were trying on some clothes. She was playing with the kids while I was in the fitting room. I came out with a dress on and Ocean ran to me gushing, "Mommy, you look GREAT!" I don't know how it actually looked on me or how much it cost, but I bought it. In fact, I bought ten.


there's no place like...

Our vacation was awesome. Definitely the best one I've had in years. I managed to read an entire book, which I haven't done since 2001. Phil and I celebrated our 4th anniversary while we were there, and were able to go out to dinner while the kids ran my parents and sister ragged. (Thanks, guys!) 

There is no place more relaxing for me than the beach. There was eating of popsicles while floating on rafts in our pool, body boarding to the delighted chorus of "Again, Mommy!", watching pods of dolphins playing in the surf daily (they were SO close to the shore!), laying out in the sun, eating sand (guess who?) and lots and lots of sleep. Phil tried his hand at photography (pretty good, eh?) and caught a few fish (the flounder really freaked him out). The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves and Ocean is already asking to go back. I think that can be arranged.

I'd say this was what we all needed. Refreshing, peaceful and centering. 


we're back

Home... aaaaaaah. Came home to a new washer (ours broke three days before we left), a freshly stained porch (thanks, Elysium Painting!) and a vegetable garden overflowing with goodies. Additionally, it appears as though the new Whole Foods has *finally* opened up by our house. (Can anyone confirm that??) 

The kids are nestled all snug in their beds after a 14 hour drive. They were simply amazing in the car and I am so, so fortunate to have such wonderful kids. I will post more about our trip in the next couple of days but for now I must head off to wrap myself in slumber as well.


i did it.

I started yet another blog.

I wanted a place to post great deals other than on my family blog, and I also wanted a place where the green and healthy deals could be consolidated (those are sometimes the most difficult to find). So click here for the unveiling...



taking a break

We are at the beach until next Saturday so I am actually *gasp* taking a break from CVS this week, even though there's one just down the road.  

However, I threw together this quick scenario for anyone who still wants to roll their ECBs starting tomorrow, 9/14:

(1) Excedrin Express Gels (20ct.) @ 3.99
(1) Aleve Sinus & Headache @ 3.99
Any item(s) totaling $3 

Your CVS card =)
Your $2/$10 CVS coupon
This coupon for the Aleve

Pay with your 5.99 ECB from the Loreal deal last week, pay 1.99 (+ tax) out of pocket, earn back 6.99 ECBs.

You're more or less breaking even but you'll have more ECBs to roll next week (which looks to be more promising, anyway.)


they really should have just let me take the tylenol.

Here's what I got at CVS this morning for a little over $3 out of pocket:

- 3 Newspapers (it's a good coupon week)
- 4 deodorants
- 1 face cleanser
- 1 infant Tylenol drops
- 3 nail polishes
- 1 protein bar
- 3 packs of chocolate covered peanuts

All I really needed were the newspapers and baby Tylenol; I had to work everything else into my transaction in order to get it for (almost) free.

If I'm stuffing your stocking this year, you will be getting nail polish and chocolate covered peanuts.


start 'em young

 The kids and I walked down to see the marching band before the game today, which was a lot of fun. Ocean was a little nervous about the loud music but the cute cheerleaders with their sparkly pom-poms made it all better. (This kid knows how to attract cheerleaders.) On our walk back home, the beer girl at the Miller Light tent handed me this lovely little bauble and said, "Here's something for your kids!"



cvs newbies

Here's your CVS mission for next week, should you choose to accept it. But you MUST shop on Sunday or Monday for this particular deal!

Print another copy of the $2/$10 coupon I talked about last week.
Print this coupon for Loreal Skin Genesis.
Print this coupon for Chex Mix.

You will purchase:
(1) Loreal Skin Genesis @ 5.99
(1) Revlon Nail Enamel @ 3.99
(1) Chex Mix 4.5-6 oz. @ 1.00
(1) Right Guard Sport,  Soft & Dri or Dry Idea deodorant @ 2.99

(NOTE: If this is your first week, do NOT buy the deodorant.)

Give your coupons in this order:
-CVS card to be scanned!
-Your 7.99 ECBs that you earned last week.

You will pay .98 + tax, and you will earn back 10.99 in ECBs. Congratulations, CVS just paid you to shop.

If this is your first week, you will pay 5.98 out of pocket, but will earn 8.99 back in ECBs. They print at the bottom of your receipt.

A couple of people have said that they don't use these products so it's not worth it to make a trip to CVS. I respect that... however, they make great donation items to shelters or Single Moms Ministries. And also consider that you will start earning $5 off $25 purchase coupons immediately. Those are the best... I get free diapers/pacifiers/baby necessities, Burt's Bees products and household necessities (like toothpaste, toothbrushes, trash bags and dish soap) on a weekly basis thanks to those coupons. CVS also carries groceries, including dairy products (not much in the way of organic though, so no go for us) but this is a great way to get free groceries for your family as well. If anyone gets a $5/$25 or $4/$20 coupon, let me know and I'll help you work out a scenario to get free stuff (or at least really cheap stuff) that you actually need.

Also, if anyone is actually doing this, please leave me a comment so I know to keep posting scenarios. Otherwise I'm taking up precious blog space that could be better utilized telling you how Ocean calls helicopters "opticotters" or that Iris is finally cutting her first teeth. =)


good deals this week

Okay, so if you bought Sunday's paper and are wondering what to do with some more of those coupons, here are a couple of ideas:

-Select Covergirl lipsticks are on sale at CVS, Buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO). There was a coupon in Sunday's paper for BOGO Covergirl lip product. At CVS, a BOGO coupon and a BOGO sale will get you two free items. Basically the store pays for one item and the coupon pays for the other. So you get two free lipsticks and just pay tax. Pretty cool, eh?
-While you're in CVS, look for a little price-checker kiosk. When you scan your CVS card it spits out coupons. This week there are some GOOD ones! If you get a coupon for $2 off 2 Gold Emblem Nuts (I have been getting them every time I'm in there), there are .99 packs of cashews by the cash registers, and also some chocolate caramel peanuts in the candy section. So they will be free with the coupon. If you have questions about how to best use your specific CVS coupons leave a comment and I'll try to help.

-There is also a coupon in the paper for $1.00/2 Bounty products. This week at Kroger, Bounty Basic paper towel single rolls are $1. This makes them .50 each with your Kroger Plus Card and the coupon. I rarely use paper towels but I like to have a roll or two on hand for those highly disgusting, gag-inducing kid spills that you don't want to revisit later when you're laundering your cleaning rags.

-There's a new "loadable coupon" feature on the Kroger website. Just fill out some basic info including your Kroger card number and download coupons which will automatically be deducted when you purchase those items using your card in-store. The best part is, they can be used in conjunction with manufacturer's coupons. So for example, this week Tide Total Care is on sale for $5.99. There was a $1/1 coupon in Sunday's paper, and there is also a $1 loadable coupon on the Kroger site, making the detergent just $3.99 (a great price for Tide!).
-Here is a printable coupon for .50 off French's mustard. (Click on the "Save Now" button, and register with that alternate email address I talked about earlier.) French's is on sale for 1.00 at Kroger again this week, and .50 coupons automatically double, making the mustard free.

-Assorted varieties of Aunt Millie's bread are on sale at Meijer this week, buy-one-get-2-free. This makes it 1.00 each. We eat a lot of Aunt Millie's (no high fructose corn syrup) and it freezes really well so at 1.00 a loaf I like to stock up.

-Also at Meijer, Huggies wipes (64 ct.) are 2.00 each. While they weren't in last week's paper, there are some .50 coupons floating around out there. If you happen to have a few, now is the time to use them since they double, making each tub just a dollar. Keep in mind that a lot of Meijer stores only double two like coupons per transaction, the rest will go through at face value. 

This week is not super-awesome in terms of deals, at least in my area, but I wanted to give you some ideas if you're itching to get started saving some money.



Within the last week I have gotten the following for free at Kroger and Meijer, simply by matching store sales with newspaper coupons:

4-roll packages of Cottonelle toilet paper
French's Mustard
Land o' Lakes spreadable butter
20 bottles of Sobe Lifewater
Colgate and Crest toothpaste
10-item packs of Bic Twin Select razors

For the skeptics out there, it really is easy to cut your grocery bill in half. It just takes a little planning and a shift in the way you shop for groceries. It's not uncommon to get free items every week. If you can't use it, someone definitely can.

Plus, it's super-fun. Who doesn't like free stuff?!

getting started at cvs

For those who have expressed interest in getting started at CVS, this coming Sunday (8/31) is a good week to begin building those Extra Care Bucks (or ECBs) for very little money out of pocket. 

First you want to sign up for an Extra Care Card at CVS. (It's free!)

Next you will need to hurry out first thing Sunday morning and buy the paper. If you're in the Detroit area I recommend the Free Press (more coupons than the Ann Arbor News).

This week you will need the following coupons:
$1/1 Cover Girl lip product (from the 8/31 paper)
This printable coupon for Colgate (I created an email address that I use strictly for coupons and offers so they don't come to my personal account.)

Go Here. Click on the first link, then scroll to page 30 of the magazine. There is a $2/$10 coupon from CVS. Print it out.

Now you're ready to shop. =)

Go to CVS and purchase the following (don't forget to hand over your card to be scanned first!):
1- Covergirl Wetslicks AmazeMint Lip Gloss @ $5.99
1- Colgate Total Advanced Toothpaste (4 oz.) @ $2.99
1 or 2- Item(s) totaling at least $1.02 but not more than $2 (a couple of candy bars should work)

Then give these coupons in this order:
Cover Girl

Your total will be around $6 plus tax; pay this. When you get your receipt your Extra Care Bucks will print out at the bottom. You will have earned $7.99, essentially paying for your purchase (including your newspaper!). This $7.99 works like free money on anything in the store (besides prescriptions, tobacco and alcohol). You can spend it on whatever you want/need, or hang onto it, check in next week and I'll give you another scenario to spend it in order to earn more ECBs... but next time you will pay for your purchase with the $7.99 you already earned, so you won't have to pay more than tax out of pocket, and you'll earn back at least the $7.99 so that you can keep "rolling" those EBCs and getting free stuff. 

It sounds confusing, but I'll keep doing the leg work and you'll get the hang of it. Now get to CVS and sign up for the Extra Care Card so you'll be all set for Sunday morning!



Here are the kid-related highlights of the last two days:

*I yawned. My darling two year old stops playing, looks at me incredulously and asks, "Are you tired, Cassie?"

*Ocean was carrying around his crayon bucket. Iris wanted a crayon. Ocean screamed, "NO! MY crayons!" After a few moments of trying unsuccessfully to mediate, Phil and I decided to let them work it out. I know, probably not a wise choice in hindsight but we were exhausted and it ended up being totally worth it to witness the following exchange: Iris kept after the crayons and Ocean just kept getting more agitated. Finally, she grabbed a crayon out of his hand. Ocean grabbed it back and let out a frustrated yell. Iris then grabbed the crayon back out of his hand, got an inch from his face and screamed. LOUDLY. Ocean immediately started crying. Iris started eating the crayon. I haven't laughed that hard in weeks. Baby Sister, One. Big Brother... Zilch. (In case you're wondering, the bad parenting ended there. We took the heavyweights to their respective corners to cool off and eventually sharing happened. It was beautiful. But not quite as entertaining.)


out of the ashes

I have deleted my latest 'woe is me' post.

We're moving forward in our journey. If you want to come with us, here is the new blog address.

Spilled Milk will remain our light-hearted family blog (with some gratuitous CVS deals thrown in for good measure).

Thanks for all your love, thoughts and prayers. 


it almost feels illegal.

This is all the loot I got at CVS this week. I paid $1.46 out of pocket and walked away with everything you see here, plus $16 in coupons for my next trip. Total savings: $74.63.

While it feels illegal, I promise you that none of it was stolen! I have my CVS secrets which I am happy to reveal to those who are interested in playing the game... and who also promise to leave some deals for me!

As for the goods, most of it will be donated to the Single Moms ministry at church. All but the M&M's... those are my reward for a job well done. =)



Our friend Adam, Photographer Extraordinaire, took some pictures of us a few weeks ago when he was in town. He posted them to his site today. I'm shamelessly posting the link here because he's insanely talented and I want him to get as much business as possible. But also because, let's face it, who doesn't love showing off their kids?!

Click on the link below, enter site, then select Client Lounge. Password is brabbs.


My son and his buddy at the strawberry patch. I think Ocean's the one on the right.


it's a sickness.

My newest obsession: Coupons. And especially at CVS. There is a whole new world that has been opened up to me and I will never be the same. And I may never have to spend pre-tax money there again. It's all in the Extra Care Bucks, man.

Yesterday I spent 98 cents at CVS. I walked out with two boxes of Cheerios, two bottles of Listerine, two bottles of laundry detergent and $20 in coupons to be used on a future purchase of practically anything in the store. Essentially they paid me twenty dollars to shop there.

At Meijer last night I saved $80 off my total bill. EIGHTY freaking dollars. Of course people looked at me like I was a crazy woman when I walked in with my coupon binder and printed lists. And naturally the woman behind me got annoyed when I had a zillion coupons that needed to be scanned. But when my total grocery bill was lowered 40% I had the last laugh. Oh yes I did.

Phil says I'm finally speaking his Love Language. I'm just excited to finally have a hobby. I've already got the sweats waiting for tomorrow's newspaper to come out.

They tried to make me go to coupon rehab but I said no, no, no.


you can be anything you want... except maybe that...

Ocean informed me tonight that he's black. Though we've never discussed race and he has yet to ask questions about ethnicity. At any rate, the conversation went like this:

O: I'm black mommy.
Me: What?
O: I'm black.
Me: Did you just say you're black?
O: Mmm-hmmm.
Me: Awesome.
O: Yeah.

I don't think he had any idea what he was saying. But it was pretty awesome.


blog not, lest ye be judged

I never, ever, ever engage in online debates. It is a waste of my precious time and requires emotional energy that I do not have. That being said, someone for whom I have a lot of respect was recently being trashed on a blog by someone calling himself a Christian and so I felt compelled to gently throw in my two cents on the matter, which happened to be a religious matter. I should have guessed that my character would be the next to come into question.

One of the things thrown at me was, "You must not have done your homework on XYZ religious matter, because if you had you would know blah blah blah."


Here's the thing. Throughout my life I have done plenty of "homework" on spiritual matters. Only I find that the more I pursue God, it seems the questions on the test keep changing. I am wary of any stance which believes they have all the answers and have everything all figured out. I am especially turned off by those who use jargon such as "I say this in love" when what they really are saying is "I use the guise of 'love' as an excuse to judge you."

What if, when we get to the pearly gates, there are no pearly gates? What if there's a single mom, a homeless guy, a convicted felon, an inner city teenager, a prostitute, an abused child, a drug addict, your neighbor... all asking, "What did you do for me?"

What I'm saying is, there has been a lot of emphasis placed on 'heaven' or 'hell' or what happens when we die instead of how we're living now, and the power we have to change the lives of other people. Especially the less fortunate, the down-and-out, the hungry, the hurting and the oppressed. I personally believe the church in America in particular has completely missed the boat and it's beyond agonizing for me. This is why it has become so difficult for me to call myself a Christian... because the voice of mainstream western Christianity today is laced with venom for anyone whom they deem to be outside the club. (No Jesus fish on your car, no admission.)

So maybe I'm back on the prayer list and my salvation has come into question (again). Thank you for praying for me, even if piously, because I'm far from perfect and can certainly use plenty of assistance. In the mean time, I'm going to figure out how I can love Jesus and love people not just in word but in deed. Jesus was the man when it came to genuinely seeing people and meeting their needs. I'd rather follow him and his example than criticize those who walk a different path.



Man, the last couple of days have been rough! I think we're all sick of the cold weather (and yes, people at the park in shorts, it IS still cold even if it is almost June). So after a particularly dodgy evening Ocean is finally in bed. I just went up to sing him a song and say prayers. I said, "Dear Jesus, please bless..." and tonight Ocean offered the following prayer:
"Bless Cole and bless Daddy and bless Mommy and bless Ocean and bless Mikayla and bless Sophia and bless park and bless soft (his blanket) and bless Quack (his duck) and bless Mommy and bless wagon. A-a-a-a-a-a-amen."

It really is the simple things in life that bring us so much joy. Like our kids showing love and gratitude for the people and things that are important to them.

And wagons. Can't forget wagons.


grocery store shenanigans

Sigh. I'm now officially the proud-ish parent of a bona fide two year old. We've fully and robustly entered the "terrific twos" (as Phil and I promised to call them back in our idealistic days... oh how I long for those days...).

Have you ever taken a two year old to the grocery store? In the cart, out of the cart. Wanting to push the cart, wanting to ride in the cart, wanting to crawl under the cart. Putting things in the cart. Screaming, "APPLESAUCE!" every time he saw a jar of anything. And the final straw... when I asked him to put the ball back in the corral (parents, you know exactly the dirty, dirty marketing tactic I'm talking about) he smiled sweetly and said, "No, Mommy."

Stunned silence.

Followed by lots of wailing, screaming and tears (his, not mine) as I wrestled his little fanny back into the cart and finished my shopping to the chorus of Hems and Haws from the uppity single (and no doubt childless) folk in the produce department.

Capped off by lots of wailing, screaming and tears (mine, not his) once we got in the car.



photo booth fun

Ocean loves to look at himself on Photo Booth. We spent a half hour taking pictures the other day... here's some of the aftermath.


holy cuteness, batman

So here are the cute moments of the last few weeks.

Our first nominee is Iris who fell asleep in mid-play, still clutching her toy.

And her challenger is Ocean, whom Phil walked into the kitchen one morning to find sitting in a drawer.


Perhaps I should be flattered that every time I leave the room, Iris starts screaming. Not crying, but more of a shrill, ear-piercing, peel paint off the walls type of banshee scream.

Great, she misses me.

I might be able to deal with that alone, except that when Iris begins her crescendo Ocean chimes in with a, "NOOOOOOOOO IRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS!" at the top of his mighty lungs. This, in turn, causes Iris to startle, and she begins to actually cry. Ocean hates to see his sister cry, so he starts wailing, "NO CRY, IRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS!" The louder he yells, the louder she screams. The louder she screams, the more he yells. My 16 second bathroom break turns into the likes of a playroom prison riot and my eardrums feel like they might start to bleed.

Maybe one of these days, with a little luck, I might actually go deaf.

Keeping my fingers crossed.



Yes it's true. Every new stage of your child's development is your favorite. But honestly, this one really is my favorite! Ocean is talking a lot now and he's much easier to understand so we've been having the most hilarious conversations as of late. Here are the most recent:
Me: Ocean, what do you want to do today?
O: Hmmm... (tapping his chin with his index finger). Call Daddy.
Me: You want to call Daddy? What if we call one of your friends to come play. Which friend should I call?
O: My boots.
*We checked out a DVD at the library this week and there's a very excited butterfly in the program that says, "Somebody pinch me!"*

Ocean wiped out on the bottom step and landed on his tush. He put his head in his hands and cried, "Somebody pinch me!"

We were at the park later that same afternoon and I picked a dandelion for him. As I handed it to him he smiled and exclaimed, "Somebody pinch me!"

On our way home from the park the stroller ran over some very uneven pavement and it jostled him quite a bit. He furrowed his brow and mumbled, "Somebody pinch me."
O: What's that? (Pointing at a fly on the window)
Me: That's a fly.
O: What's that?
Me: A fly.
O: Mommy, what's that?
Me: That's a fly, Ocean.
O: What's that?
Me: What do YOU think it is?
O: A dragon.
O: What's that, Mommy? (Pointing at a port-a-potty en route to the park)
Me: That's a potty.
O: There Mommy's potty.
Me: That's not really Mommy's potty, but it is a potty.
O: Mommy poop in that potty.
Me: Mommy doesn't need to go poop.
O: Mommy go poop in that potty!
Me: *sigh.*
Whenever he hears an unfamiliar noise he cocks his head to the side and says, "Something hearing?"
He and my dad were playing with a ball. Ocean threw it and said to my dad, "Go get it, T-Bone!" (one of Clifford the Big Red Dog's puppy friends)


estrogen is the bestrogen

My sister dropped by this afternoon. My sister is awesome. She's beautiful and brilliant and has a whip-smart wit. She's an English major so she has words. Lots of them. And she's a women and gender studies minor so she has opinions too... and we share similar philosophies and world views so I always expect good talks when we're together. We talked while the kids slept for a little while. And it was the most intellectually stimulating conversation I've had in months. After 2 hours of discussing sexism, classism, racism and any other kind of -ism you can imagine there was a bit of a lull and my sister sighed, "You know what I wish? I just wish I would wake up tomorrow and..." There would be world peace? Nope. We'd find a cure for cancer? Nah. "I just wish I would wake up tomorrow and every white man would be pregnant. And I wouldn't have an ounce of sympathy."




I've been thinking lately.

I've been thinking about the fact that I've been thinking.

For the last five months I haven't been able to form a cohesive, independent thought apart from WhoIsScreaming or What'sThatSmell. I'm not sure if it's the sunshine and fresh air that's clearing away the remnants of the triple threat of postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder and a lingering sinus infection, or just that time really does heal all wounds but I'm thinking. I'm beginning to feel human again. I'm beginning to feel like ME again.

The last five months have been difficult. Lots of change, lots of challenges. Life has been draining... emotionally. Psychologically. Draining. And dark.

I'm learning that I am a good mom. Despite my shortcomings and failures as a human, I love my children and daily give my life to them so that they will be sensitive, compassionate, competent people. There are days that I have doubts about my parenting, when we're 2 hours into the morning and the house is a wreck and I've already given a dozen timeouts, or when I just don't feel like playing the same game for the umpteenth time in a row (so I don't). I'm learning to push past the self-imposed Mommy Guilt that we all chain ourselves with, suck it up, and go to the park (or indoor inclement weather alternative, as the case may be).

Sunshine helps. And sleep. Or coffee. And laughter with friends (or Friends). And hired help. And writing... of course, writing. And being able to think about things like gender issues, social issues, environmental issues. Any issues but my kids' issues.

I'm fairly certain I will not look back at this moment in my life and care about how frequently I used cloth diapers or how well breastfeeding was going. More likely I'll be grateful that I survived and that I will never, never have to learn these hard, hard lessons again. And of course I'll wax nostalgic about the tininess and utter dependence of my babies "back then", but I hope I can also appreciate wherever it is that we have ended up and the roads we have taken to get there.

And sleep. I hope I always appreciate sleep.



I was bending over to change the CD in the CD player and Ocean points at my tattoo.
"Heart," he says. "Yes, that's right," I replied.
"Flowers! One, two, three!" He exclaimed, pointing at my back. "Yep, three flowers," I said.

He then grabbed my butt, a cheek in each hand, gave a few good squeezes and gleefully shouted, "Squishy!"

If that's not motivation to work out I don't know what is.


big brother is watching

I've heard it said that kids are like sponges. Here's proof:

-When Iris cries in the car, I call out, "We're almost home!" Now when she begins to fuss, no matter where we are, Ocean wraps his arms around her and says, "Awwww, come here. Almost home."

-Ocean pauses to pat Iris on the head as he runs busily by, admonishing her with a, "Good girl, Iris."

-We've all come down with colds this week and I've been suctioning Iris's nose quite a bit. She was getting really irritated with me and fussing. Ocean looks over at her and says, "I know, baby."

-This afternoon I was getting ready to nurse Iris. I gave Ocean a glow worm doll and asked if he would like to feed his baby while mommy fed Iris. He gave me a weird look, grabbed his toy basketball and held it up to his chest. Then he held the glow worm up to the basketball... like it was a breast!

I guess I should really start watching my language...


loaded questions

We were eating dinner and Phil got up to get some water.

He asked: "Do you need anything?"

What I wanted to say:
"I need to pay bills. I need abdominoplasty. I need 5 seconds of peace and quiet. I need a housekeeper. I need sleep. I need to do 8 loads of laundry. I need a haircut. I need to get the kids in bed. I need a good laugh. I need to write thank you notes. I need to stop singing "The Backyardigans" theme song. I need to check my voice mail. I need more hours in my day. I need to respond to Karen's email. I need to buy baking soda. I need more iron in my diet. And I NEED A VACATION."

But it was a long day and I was tired.

What I said: "No."


saturday funnies

-I was changing Ocean's poopy diaper the other day and I said, "Ocean, you had a big poop!" He looks down at the diaper, raises his eyebrow at me and says, "Crazy burger!"

-Earlier in the week I was putting Iris down for a nap. Ocean was playing upstairs and I kept hearing crashing sounds. I realized he was throwing toys downstairs. I headed up the first flight and was about to round the corner when Thomas the Train came flying through the air, slamming against the wall and nearly missing my face. I heard a faint whisper from the top of the stairs: "Almost."



From an article in TIME magazine. Read it with an open mind; this is fascinating stuff from one of the most well-respected Christian thinkers of our day. If true, this changes everything we thought we knew about life and death...

N.T. "Tom" Wright is one of the most formidable figures in the world of Christian thought. As Bishop of Durham, he is the fourth most senior cleric in the Church of England and a major player in the strife-riven global Anglican Communion; as a much-read theologian and Biblical scholar he has taught at Cambridge and is a hero to conservative Christians worldwide for his 2003 book The Resurrection of the Son of God, which argued forcefully for a literal interpretation of that event.

It therefore comes as a something of a shock that Wright doesn't believe in heaven — at least, not in the way that millions of Christians understand the term. In his new book, Surprised by Hope (HarperOne), Wright quotes a children's book by California first lady Maria Shriver called What's Heaven, which describes it as "a beautiful place where you can sit on soft clouds and talk... If you're good throughout your life, then you get to go [there]... When your life is finished here on earth, God sends angels down to take you heaven to be with him." That, says Wright is a good example of "what not to say." The Biblical truth, he continues, "is very, very different."

Wright, 58, talked by phone with TIME's David Van Biema.

TIME: At one point you call the common view of heaven a "distortion and serious diminution of Christian hope."

Wright: It really is. I've often heard people say, "I'm going to heaven soon, and I won't need this stupid body there, thank goodness.' That's a very damaging distortion, all the more so for being unintentional.

TIME: How so? It seems like a typical sentiment.

Wright: There are several important respects in which it's unsupported by the New Testament. First, the timing. In the Bible we are told that you die, and enter an intermediate state. St. Paul is very clear that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead already, but that nobody else has yet. Secondly, our physical state. The New Testament says that when Christ does return, the dead will experience a whole new life: not just our soul, but our bodies. And finally, the location. At no point do the resurrection narratives in the four Gospels say, "Jesus has been raised, therefore we are all going to heaven." It says that Christ is coming here, to join together the heavens and the Earth in an act of new creation.

TIME: Is there anything more in the Bible about the period between death and the resurrection of the dead?

Wright: We know that we will be with God and with Christ, resting and being refreshed. Paul writes that it will be conscious, but compared with being bodily alive, it will be like being asleep. The Wisdom of Solomon, a Jewish text from about the same time as Jesus, says "the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God," and that seems like a poetic way to put the Christian understanding, as well.

TIME: But it's not where the real action is, so to speak?

Wright: No. Our culture is very interested in life after death, but the New Testament is much more interested in what I've called the life after life after death — in the ultimate resurrection into the new heavens and the new Earth. Jesus' resurrection marks the beginning of a restoration that he will complete upon his return. Part of this will be the resurrection of all the dead, who will "awake," be embodied and participate in the renewal. John Polkinghorne, a physicist and a priest, has put it this way: "God will download our software onto his hardware until the time he gives us new hardware to run the software again for ourselves." That gets to two things nicely: that the period after death is a period when we are in God's presence but not active in our own bodies, and also that the more important transformation will be when we are again embodied and administering Christ's kingdom.

TIME: That is rather different from the common understanding. Did some Biblical verse contribute to our confusion?

Wright: There is Luke 23, where Jesus says to the good thief on the cross, "Today you will be with me in Paradise." But in Luke, we know first of all that Christ himself will not be resurrected for three days, so "paradise" cannot be a resurrection. It has to be an intermediate state. And chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation, where there is a vision of worship in heaven that people imagine describes our worship at the end of time. In fact it's describing the worship that's going on right now. If you read the book through, you see that at the end we don't have a description of heaven, but, as I said, of the new heavens and the new earth joined together.

TIME: Why, then, have we misread those verses?

Wright: It has, originally, to do with the translation of Jewish ideas into Greek. The New Testament is deeply, deeply Jewish, and the Jews had for some time been intuiting a final, physical resurrection. They believed that the world of space and time and matter is messed up, but remains basically good, and God will eventually sort it out and put it right again. Belief in that goodness is absolutely essential to Christianity, both theologically and morally. But Greek-speaking Christians influenced by Plato saw our cosmos as shabby and misshapen and full of lies, and the idea was not to make it right, but to escape it and leave behind our material bodies. The church at its best has always come back toward the Hebrew view, but there have been times when the Greek view was very influential.

TIME: Can you give some historical examples?

Wright: Two obvious ones are Dante's great poetry, which sets up a Heaven, Purgatory and Hell immediately after death, and Michelangelo's Last Judgment in the Sistine chapel, which portrays heaven and hell as equal and opposite last destinations. Both had enormous influence on Western culture, so much so that many Christians think that is Christianity.

TIME: But it's not.

Wright: Never at any point do the Gospels or Paul say Jesus has been raised, therefore we are we are all going to heaven. They all say, Jesus is raised, therefore the new creation has begun, and we have a job to do.

TIME: That sounds a lot like... work.

Wright: It's more exciting than hanging around listening to nice music. In Revelation and Paul's letters we are told that God's people will actually be running the new world on God's behalf. The idea of our participation in the new creation goes back to Genesis, when humans are supposed to be running the Garden and looking after the animals. If you transpose that all the way through, it's a picture like the one that you get at the end of Revelation.

TIME: And it ties in to what you've written about this all having a moral dimension.

Wright: Both that, and the idea of bodily resurrection that people deny when they talk about their "souls going to Heaven." If people think "my physical body doesn't matter very much," then who cares what I do with it? And if people think that our world, our cosmos, doesn't matter much, who cares what we do with that? Much of "traditional" Christianity gives the impression that God has these rather arbitrary rules about how you have to behave, and if you disobey them you go to hell, rather than to heaven. What the New Testament really says is God wants you to be a renewed human being helping him to renew his creation, and his resurrection was the opening bell. And when he returns to fulfil the plan, you won't be going up there to him, he'll be coming down here.

TIME: That's very different from, say, the vision put out in the Left Behind books.

Wright: Yes. If there's going to be an Armageddon, and we'll all be in heaven already or raptured up just in time, it really doesn't matter if you have acid rain or greenhouse gases prior to that. Or, for that matter, whether you bombed civilians in Iraq. All that really matters is saving souls for that disembodied heaven.

TIME: Has anyone you've talked to expressed disappointment at the loss of the old view?

Wright: Yes, you might get disappointment in the case where somebody has recently gone through the death of somebody they love and they are wanting simply to be with them. And I'd say that's understandable. But the end of Revelation describes a marvelous human participation in God's plan. And in almost all cases, when I've explained this to people, there's a sense of excitement and a sense of, "Why haven't we been told this before?"


what happened to the village?

I have met quite a few mommies lately who are struggling to keep it together. We all want to be supermoms but some days my biggest accomplishment is just getting my kids in bed at the end of the day. The more I experience the frustration of feeling like I'm going it alone the more I realize that I can't be the only one who feels this way.

It's more complicated than just getting together with friends, though... logistically, it's hard to meet up with people when we all have kids who nap, and usually at different times. And then there are some of us who work outside the home, and some who work at home only. There's also the issue of distance... a lot of the people I want to hang out with live at least 15 minutes away from me, and that doesn't include the time (and extreme effort) that it takes to get everyone bundled up and in the car. I mean, this morning it took me and the kids 45 minutes from the time we started packing up until we were all actually in the car. By that time *I* was ready for a nap! It's so much easier to stay home... and therefore, to remain isolated.

Last night we had our awesome friends over for dinner and I realized how starved I have been for good company and solid friends (who live in the same state!). I wish I could be around good people all day long; it totally recharges my batteries and provides a great buffer for when I'm struggling with my kids. I mean, that's why people used to have such big families, right? Because family members lived close by and everyone pitched in. Now we stop at 2.5 kids because we can't possibly handle more than that on our own.

I have no problem admitting that I need help with my kids, even just day-to-day. How awesome would it be if our neighbors actually became a community of support for one another? That might be enough to make me consider having another kiddo... one day...