I Want a Church

I want a church that loves and embraces people AS THEY ARE, no strings attached.

I want a church that doesn’t just put “You are SAFE here” on the walls of the foyer in bold, painted letters, but actually lives it.

I want a church that cares less about the shape of the bodies and style of the voices on stage and more about experiencing the ONEness, the UNIFICATION of the body of Christ through music that only singing together, loudly and without apology, can bring.

I want a church that boldly places people of every color, shape, gender, and orientation on stage and learns from a diverse range of voices.  That listens to lessons learned in different accents.  That doesn’t see its women as unworthy of teaching based on their biology alone.

I want a church that I can bring my gay family and friends, my turban and head scarf wearing family members, my single mom and single dad friends, my tattooed friends, and my loved ones of all hues, shapes, sizes, and ability levels WITHOUT seeing the entire congregation go bug-eyed and give themselves whiplash.  One that will go up to them, embrace them, tell them that they are GLAD to have them in their midst to worship together.  One that will not try to fix any perceived flaws, but simply walk together with them.

I want a church that will help me teach my children the truth of walking with God.  That it is messy.  That it is hard.  That it is worth it.  That will teach them what other people who have walked with God for centuries have learned.  That there is gray area.  That we can be filled with light, and that if you are truly filled with the Holy Spirit, you don’t have to be a know-it-all jerk with the “right” answers sent to enlighten those who have had different experiences.

I want a church that will STOP telling people that they are going to Hell multiple times each day.  That doesn’t focus on human depravity first and foremost.   That will instead focus on a loving God who plucks us from our darkness and fills us up with light.  That sees the Divine stamped on us all.  That focuses more on nourishing the spirit and body as one while they are unified during our lifetimes.  That focuses on the messy work of LOVING instead of converting.

I want a church that will join hands with me and pray WITH me, not AT me when I’m struggling.

I want a church that I can show up to without a stitch of makeup and still be embraced and spoken to like a human being.

I want a church that doesn’t treat me as my husband’s subservient other. That recognizes that we are completely equal, completely one in leading each other through this life.

I want a church that is committed to loving and cheering on every member of the human family who has the courage to walk through the door.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be?

Why the heck is it so hard to find?

So I Got an Electric Car

My faithful 2003 Buick Regal started to show her age about a month ago in a big way, and we realized it was time to get a new vehicle.  I hate car shopping.  We aren’t in the best place to be buying a car right now anyway, and I just wanted my Buick to magically get healed and run forever, but I could see big mechanic bills in our very near future if we didn’t do something fast.

I have loved the idea of an electric car since the EV1 came out when I was a kid.  Bryan asked, “What kind of car would you get excited about?”  I think mostly out of desperation that I totally didn’t care about any of the cars he was showing me online.  “You want me to be excited about a car?  Get me an EV,” I answered, pretty confident that’d be the end of it and I’d be driving home a Camry in a few days.

To my shock, he was totally into it!  We test drove quite a few over the last month, and landed on a 2013 Nissan Leaf in great condition.  The range will get me from work to home every day before it needs to recharge, and I’m going to have to get used to a few things.

I was so excited to hop into my new car this morning (which I named Autumn.  Cuz she’s a Leaf).  My excitement dropped pretty rapidly, however, when as I cruised on the freeway down to work (my commute it about 20 mi each way), I watched the battery level drop much faster than I expected.  It was already at 55% when I got to work.  On my drive back home, I had about 5 mi of freeway commute left when the low battery level lights started flashing at me.  It was then that I learned what “range anxiety” was all about.  Holy cow.  I was just convinced that we had made a terrible, very expensive mistake.

But I made it home just fine with 14 mi left showing up in my range display and plugged Autumn right back in.  I haven’t added the daycare stop yet, so that will have to wait for another day.

I didn’t realize what a fully life changing experience I was signing up for when I drove the car home yesterday.  My trips and errands will have to be very carefully planned.  I signed up for the 3 major companies that make charging stations in our area, and have 2 apps downloaded to show me their locations.  If we have a day where we need to shuttle everyone around and do lots of driving, I’ll need to swap cars with Bryan.

Despite the reality that hit, I’m still excited about life with an EV.  It’s a comfortable, cute, quiet little car, and it looks great charging under our solar panels 😎

When the school year is in full swing, things might get interesting.  I’m researching grants to get charging stations installed at my schools.  There’s gotta be something, right?  🙂

Stop and Snuggle

This past week, our 4 year old got really sick. I got the dreaded call from Preschool, and I admit, my first thought was, “Oh boy. What has he done now?” (side note: last week’s reports included 2 dumped out water tables and 1 dumped out sensory bin. Calls from preschool are not uncommon). He had seemed perfectly fine that morning, but the director let me know that he had sort of slid slowly into lethargy all morning and was practically falling asleep in the office, registering a fever of 101.4 f. Poor kid.

 

So I alerted everyone at work and headed out to get my baby. We snuggled, we watched movies, we made “special tea” for his sore “froat” and did all the things you do when your kid feels crummy.

 

I’m a teacher, and we were just days away from our summer break, so taking multiple days off was really tricky so close to the end of the year. My hubby stayed with him the next day. When I came home, he told me that all Parker had wanted to do was to snuggle, but that there was just so much to do for our business and for his day job that he didn’t. He made a nest for him on the floor of the office, and Parker watched him edit video.

 

Our little guy was a trooper, and my husband is a great daddy, so read the next part knowing that I have every confidence that our kid knows he is loved. But I also think this story is such an important reminder, and I want to share with you what I told Bryan after he relayed that story.

 

Just snuggle. Just walk away from the video for 10 minutes, pick up your sick kid who needs a hug, and give him the snuggles he wants. He’s only 4 for another few months. Soon he’ll be 6. 10. 15. 23. His childhood is already slipping through our fingers. I still remember the weight of his tiny body against me as I cradled him and he nursed. I remember the ease with which I scooped him up as a toddler. Now, it’s hard to figure out what to do with those long, lanky arms and legs.

 

But sometimes he still wants to be picked up like a small child. Sometimes he really needs to cuddle like a baby. His growing heart needs it. And his body is only going to continue to grow, his mind to expand, his childhood to slip away.

 

Parenting is hard work, guys. I feel the frustration, anxiety, stress of it all. But don’t forget- take a deep breath. Soak in the sweetness of it, too. Enjoy them while they’re small.

 

Stop and snuggle.

So My 3 Year Old Got Suspended from Preschool

We were sitting around the dinner table, having a fairly normal family conversation- me “reminding” my children to eat their veggies, my husband trying to tell me about his day in between- when he switched topics on me rather suddenly.

“Taz had a rough day at preschool, didn’t you, buddy? We need to tell Mommy what happened.”

And I expected to hear about a potty accident, cutting a friend in line, maybe pushing a friend on the playground- typical preschool transgressions.  Nope.

“I can’t go to preschool if I can not follow what teachers say,” my little guy said with his eyes on the floor.

“I got a call at the office.  They told me to come pick him up because he wasn’t listening,” my husband clarified.

I was stunned.

My heart dropped into my stomach.

“Wait, what?” I asked, “What on earth happened that he was sent home?”

“Apparently he hit a teacher and was spitting, and they agreed that he couldn’t stay if he wouldn’t behave.”

First of all, as a teacher, let me say right up front that I completely agree that the behavior was unacceptable.  Spitting and hitting are not OK, ever, and need to be dealt with.  Got that, mkay?

Secondly, HE’S 3!  So, he shouldn’t be hitting, but come ON.  Suspend my kid for undesirable, but entirely normal boundary pushing 3 year old behavior?

I dug a little deeper later on after Taz was in bed.  It seems that he had been a total pill all day for teachers- not listening, not willing to be redirected, running away and laughing when asked to transition to new activities, laughing when consequences were named.  By the time they called my husband, they were just straight up done.

Also, the laughing thing.  Ugh.  It’s a relatively new thing for us, and it’s totally infuriating.  It’s pretty much impossible to redirect him when he gets wound up like that, but I have learned a trick that seems to keep it at bay…. don’t let him get to that point.  Something triggered the obstinate behavior.  Some warning was going on that he was getting out of hand, and there is a window- sometimes a brief one, but always a window- to catch him before he’s too far gone.  I’ve found that the times he gets that way with me are when he’s 1) hungry 2) tired 3) in need of attention.

Solutions:

1) Acknowledge the feelings, “Taz I can see you are making some choices that make me sad. It seems like you are feeling____”

2) Offer alternatives: “I think you need help.  Can I give you a hug/ snack/ different activity?”

3) Name natural consequences, “If you choose not to listen, you can’t join your friends for ____.  It would make me sad to see you left out of something fun.”

4) Just keep on talking and talking until you talk him out of the funk, “Oh my goodness we have the most fun day planned.  I woke up this morning and said to myself, ‘You know what I’ll bet Taz would like today?  Playing with cars!  He LOVES cars! Don’t you love cars?’ ” Etc.  Keep going until he’s fully engaged in conversation with you and ready to be directed.

My husband said he took Taz back to work with him and had a man to man talk in his office about his behavior.  The message had sunk in deep that preschool was not an option if he was going to be so rude.  After he was settled, he actually fell asleep under a desk.  My hubby said it was pretty obvious that he was exhausted.

I’ve been at the end of my rope both as a teacher and a mom.  I know that I’ve got a seriously high energy, strong willed first born.  I know he can be difficult sometimes.  But, to me, the consequence was completely inappropriate.  He was hitting and spitting, but he IS only 3, so the damage he was causing was not severe.  He was not placing anyone in danger- he was being a defiant little kid.  He needs to know that he HAS to respect the authority of his teachers, and going home is not on the table as an option.

As a mom, I need to know that the people I entrust my child to during the day can handle him on his good days and his bad ones.  Tall order?  You bet.  But I know what I’m asking- I have several hundred families ask the same of me every day in my job.

Something I’ve learned in handling many different “difficult” kids across a very wide age spectrum is that misbehavior is always a cry for help.  I’ve learned to switch it all in my head from “She’s a bad kid,” to, “She really needs some extra help today.  What can I do to make her feel safe and ready to learn?”  I’m not perfect, I’m not always successful, but I sure as hell try.

I’m grateful for a teacher’s schedule.  It means that I can spend the next 8 weeks addressing the behaviors that need some aggressive one on one intervention.  I’m grateful for the bonding time.  I’m grateful for the chance to enjoy my kiddos all day, every day, all to myself.

But I also need to know that when it’s time for me to go face another school year, my bright, creative, exuberant, active boy is in strong, capable, loving hands.  That ease lets me do the same for the parents of the children in my care.

Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net by sattva

Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net by sattva

Book Reviews: What I Read in March

I went back to work full time this year, which somewhat explains my absence.  It was kind of a last minute decision.  I was intending to be part time for another year, but we became short a teacher at the beginning of the school year, so the administration asked me to take over a new position- librarian.

I do not have a Library Science degree, or any previous experience as a library media specialist, but I do love to read.  And I love to teach.  I was rather daunted by the thought of learning everything I needed to manage such a monumental task back in August, but now I’ve fallen into a comfortable rhythm.  I have a small army of junior librarians and parent volunteers adding new books to the system, making sure books get checked in and re-shelved, and I love planning fun library events!

Even more than that, I have re-discovered just how much I love to read.  I really missed reading when I became a momma.  Now that my kiddos are a little older, I have a little more time to indulge in an old favorite pastime.  I joined a book club, and started picking up new titles for the library.  In addition to the incredible amount of kid and young adult lit that I have read this year, I have enjoyed some grownup titles as well.  March was a pretty good month for me in terms of books I’d recommend, so here is my brief review of the four titles I’d happily pass on to friends:

A Good American by Alex George

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I picked this title up at the Dollar Tree, of all places.  As a musician, I was intrigued by the cover with the trumpet.  I know- books and covers and all that- but it’s the honest truth.

This book is the origin story of an American family that has become deeply rooted in the small town of Beatrice, Missouri for four generations.  It begins with two German lovers who find themselves in a bit of a fix when she gets pregnant out of wedlock, and the couple hastily boards the first ship out of the country to America.  They land in New Orleans and gradually find their way to a town that they can call home.  Along the way, they encounter the complicated mash of humanity that makes up the United States- the music, languages, flavors, races, and cultures of everyone completely swirled together.  They have to make sense of their new country.  The book is thoughtful, sometimes tragic, often very funny, and overall very entertaining.  I loved the nods to music throughout the story- opera, ragtime, jazz, blues, and barbershop all make cameos.  I have to admit that some of the guy humor had me rolling my eyes from time to time, but hey- the male perspective is a legit one, right?

http://www.amazon.com/A-Good-American-Alex-George/dp/0425253171

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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This one was on the shelves of my school library, and had often shown up on lists of books to recommend to young adult readers.  I had heard of it before, and know that it was a beloved American classic, so I took it home with me.  I loved it.  Another story of an immigrant family finding their way in a new country (the unintentional theme of the month), this book follows the lives of the second generation born on US soil.  It is a beautiful coming of age story, an inspiring book about the power of education to lift a family out of poverty, and a testament to the power of female friendship.  The women in the family hold everyone together, and fight for their daughters to have better lives than they did.  It’s one of those novels that I thought about for weeks after I put it down.  It’s now at the top of my recommendation list for my eighth graders.

http://www.amazon.com/Tree-Grows-Brooklyn-Novel/dp/0062096958/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428425661&sr=1-2&keywords=a+tree+grows+in+brooklyn

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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I read this one for my book club.  Wild was recently turned into a movie, and I think that may have been the primary motivation for our club choosing this book for March.  It was a good read- moved at a quick clip- and was an emotional memoir of a trying time in Cheryl’s life after the death of her mother.  Her world fell apart, and she decided that the way she would put it back together was by dropping everything and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  I had trouble connecting with Cheryl.  We are very different people.  I found myself frustrated with her at the beginning when she was making terrible choices and sabotaging everything good in her life, but came to understand as the story unfolded that it was how she had to live out her life.  It’s a book about growing up, the importance of and fluidity of family, and self love.  The book was a good one for a group discussion, and I’m curious to see how the movie is.

http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Found-Pacific-Crest-Trail/dp/0307476073/ref=la_B001HCXFIE_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428425696&sr=1-1

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The-Immortal-Life-of-Henrietta-Lacks

I picked up this paperback at Costco after having heard about it from a number of friends.  It is by far the most riveting piece of non fiction that I have read in a long time.  It tells the true story beginning in the 1950s of a loving woman who died from an extremely aggressive form of cervix cancer at a very young age, leaving behind five children.  During a surgery at Johns Hopkins that was supposed to save her life (3 months before she died), the surgeon, without patient or family permission, took a sample of her cancer cells and placed them in a petri dish to send to the lab.  They had been trying to grow human cells for years with no success.  For reasons that were never fully explained (I’m not sure the scientists know still today) her cells grew at an incredible rate. Her cancer swept through her body rapidly and took her within just a few months of her diagnosis, but her cells continued to thrive.  Soon, her cells were being sold all over the world for medical research. Named HeLa cells after the first two initials of her first and last name, they became the cells that were used to develop a vaccine for polio, sent into space to see how human cells would react to the environment, exposed to nuclear waste, and overall became the standard human cells used in research for almost every major medical breakthrough in the last 60 years.  Her family had no idea for nearly 30 years.  Henrietta was African American, and this book has much to say about racism and the misuse of men and women by the medical community.  I so badly wanted to talk about the book after I finished it that I made Bryan download it on Audible (can’t get him to read hard copy books), and gave my copy to the science teacher at school and demanded that she have it read after spring break so we could discuss!

http://www.amazon.com/Immortal-Life-Henrietta-Lacks/dp/1400052181/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428425738&sr=1-1&keywords=the+immortal+life+of+henrietta+lacks

Happy reading!  I know some of the 5 people on Earth who read this blog read, too.  Post your picks in the comments!

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease… SUCKS

Warning:  Gross pictures of hands and feet covered in yucky, painful blisters included.  Not for the faint of heart/ easily grossed out.

 

My kiddos brought home Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) from daycare two weeks ago. I had heard of it from parents and received a notice from church the year before that a kid had it and done my research. Supposedly this is a “mild” “childhood” illness and there’s not a lot that can be done. Everyone agreed “it’s just a virus that needs to run its course.”

 

Daycare spent the day after the first kid’s mom figured out what he had and pulled him bleaching everything and notifying us. By then, my guys were lethargic and both had fevers. They spend all day, every day climbing over everything, so I knew something was up. But what I read on the Internet said it wasn’t a big deal, so I gave them some Motrin, got lots of cool liquids in them, and we blasted through our woefully inadequate Disney movie collection. Several times.

We also ran through every quiet game idea I could think of.  Lots of play dough and coloring.

 photo

HFDM: Kid Edition

 

Day 1: Fevers, lethargy, complete disintrest in food.

 

Day 2: More of the same.

 

Day 3: Fevers broken, red spots visible beneath the skin on hands and around mouth

 

Day 4: Spots friggin everywhere. My baby didn’t get it too badly, but poor Taz had spots from head to toe. He looked like a teenager with terrible acne.

 

Day 10: All blisteres scabbed over and on the mend.

 

Day 14: Spots nearly healed up.

 

So all in all, not too bad.

 

But I’m writing this post for ME, and for all the poor adults out there who are lucky enough to catch this disease. There is NOTHING on the Internet about adult HFMD. Every resource is geared towards taking care of the kids. The pediatrician told us, “Adults usually don’t catch it. “ Every website I found echoed that statement.

 

Well, I better go out and buy that lottery ticket, because honey- I caught it.

 

I knew I was in trouble when I was reading to Taz and he turned in my lap to ask me for milk and sneezed right in my face. Ah, the joys of parenting a 2 year old.

 

My recovery is still rolling right along, but in hopes of helping a desperate adult out there trying to deal with this horrible, painful disease, here’s my timeline.

 

HFMD: Adult Edition

 

Day 1: Right as my kids are starting to feel better (of course), I wake up feeling like I want to die. It didn’t cross my mind yet that it could be HFMD because “adults rarely catch it.” I had a fever of 102f, complete with chills. I was drenched in sweat and couldn’t stop shivering. My head felt like It had been hit with a hammer. Every muscle and joint in my body ached, and my throat was swollen and sore. I dragged myself to the doctor, hoping to get a strep diagnosis, as that was the only thing I could relate it to. She swabbed my throat, and though it came back negative, did a culture, wrote me a script for penicillin, and said she’d call if the swab was negative, but that it looked like strep to her. Oh, how I would totally trade this for strep.

 

Day 2: I woke up feeling better. The fever had broken, but my thumbs were itchy. Sometimes my skin dries and cracks from all the diaper changing and hand washing I do, so I thought it might be doing that, but it got worse. By the end of the day, the doctor hadn’t called, but I was horrified when I realized I had caught HFMD from the kids. I stopped the penicillin because I knew it would be useless. My hands were on FIRE and red blotches started to show under my skin. The pain continued to get worse. Nothing relieved it. I tried steroid cream, calamine lotion, ibuprofen. Nothing helped except for ice. I laid on the couch all night and just held bags of ice. I managed an hour of sleep holding bags of ice that night.

 

Day 3: The burning lasted all day. I pulled out my numbing stuff from my after-birth stitches recovery and got an hour nap by covering my hands in Tucks pads.   Heat is unbearable.  Washing hands in anything other than cold water or preparing anything on the stove is out of the question.  That night, no more sleep. I held ice again.

 photo 4-4 photo 3-7 photo 2-7

Day 4: My hands were better today, but they burned every time I touched anything. It was a relief to not be in constant myhandsareonfire pain, but I have to touch a lot of things between two kids still banned from daycare and a house to take care of. Typing was out of the question. My feet caught fire that night and kept me up for the THIRD night in a row. I soaked them all night.

 photo 5-3

Day 5: My hands are now completely numb. I feel like I am wearing rubber gloves- there is very dulled sensation in my fingertips. The spots are less red and angry today, but my hands look like they have aged 60 years. My feet are no longer on fire, but burn with every step. Blisters are between all of my toes. My mom freaks out that I don’t have any feeling in my hands and sends me back to the dr. I get in to my primary today, and he confirms that it’s the worst adult case he’s ever seen. “You look like a dermatology textbook worst case scenario.” He sends me home with a script for painkillers. Thank the Lord, with their help I manage to sleep that night.

 

Day 6: The pain is greatly lessened today.

 

Day 7: The peeling begins. After a day of relief, my hands are shedding like crazy, coming off in big chunks. I don’t think I’ll have fingerprints after this is over. And I’m slightly horrified because I’ve read that some kids shed their finger and toenails. Please, God, don’t let that be me. I have too many people to take care of.

 

I’ll keep updating in hopes that it helps another suffering mama out there find SOMETHING that says YES. ADULTS CAN GET THIS AND IT IS HORRIBLE. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone, and I’d trade giving birth naturally again for it ANY DAY.

Defeating Costco with 2 Under 2

The first time I went grocery shopping with 2 under 2, I practically had an anxiety attack on my way to Costco. I really had no idea how I was going to manage the kids.

With one kid, I had a mini crisis every time I got to the check out line. My crisis was- do I send my son in the grocery basket on the other side of the belt, or take him with me on my side. Looking back now, it seems ridiculous that I ever thought sending him not even 4 feet away from me, in absolutely full view of myself and other shoppers, strapped in safely to the grocery cart ever gave me feelings of apprehension. I always thought people were judging me for sending my baby through with the 72 pack of Coca-Cola. Now, I don’t give a CARE what anyone thinks when it comes to such small stuff. But anyway, that’s not why you’re here.

You’re here because you’re as worried as I was about how the HECK you get grocery shopping done with 2 under 2, so here goes.


 

8 Tips for Grocery Shopping with 2 Under 2

Newborn + Toddler edition:


 

1.  Feed yourself and the kids right before you leave.  Nobody does well when they’re hungry.

2.  Do it as early in the day as possible, working around toddler’s nap schedule so he/she is less likely to melt down.  Going early helps you beat the crowds, too, so you can get in and out as quickly as possible.

3. Park NEXT to the cart corral in the parking lot. Even if you have to walk further from your car to the store, it’s worth it because a) you can load your toddler into the cart immediately from the car and b) you don’t have to be the jerk who leaves their cart in the middle of a parking space for everyone else to trip around later.

After the trip, you don’t want to have to unload groceries, then agonize over whether to put the kids into their carseats first, leave the car doors open while you RUN to return the cart, leave the cart (see B above), or return the cart with the toddler in it and then hope he decides to use his relatively new walking skills to help you get back to the car while you have your newborn strapped to you. So save yourself that stress and just park next to the corral.

4. Wear the baby. It makes everything easier. Please don’t clip your infant car seat to the child seating area (trigger warning- link mentions infant injuries and deaths).  And make sure you know how to wear your baby safely.  If you have a  good carrier, then baby is usually happy to be snuggled up next to you, and you have both hands free!

5.  Know your plan ahead of time- this means going with a list, IN ORDER of where the items are located in the store.  I know the layout of my Costco really well, so I can visualize where the items I need are in the store before I go.

6.  Don’t forget to go to the bathroom and have the kids in clean, new diapers and doubled up stretchy pants before you go.  Trust me on this one.

7.  Put a cooler in your trunk for frozen items.  The first few times you go, you’ll be amazed at how long it takes to unload the groceries and kids when you get home.  You won’t want to be worried about the ice cream melting.  And you have 2 kids under 2, so you freaking need the ice cream.

8.  Just take a deep breath-  you can do this.  All of it.  And soon enough they’ll be a little more independent and a little easier to manage.

 

And big enough to reach behind the kids’ seats and throw your hamburger patties right out of the cart.

 

So there’s that.