Friday, May 29, 2009

The Saboteur

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I called Doug (our social worker) yesterday. It's been two weeks since he came over for our second home study and we haven't heard boo from him. Turns out being our social worker isn't really his primary gig. He writes policy and whatnot. I know this only from his last visit because he sure didn't call me back.

We have no clue where our certification stands. On our last visit, Mamaw tried desperately to sabotage the adoption. When interviewed she said she wasn't keen on the idea. Now mind you, we have been talking to her about the adoption for SIX MONTHS and never once during that time did she voice concern. In fact, she was like, "that's awesome, wonderful, I'm so happy for you guys!"

But then Doug shows up and she said she was worried about us not being able to take care of her if we have another child. She also said that she believes in spanking kids and has swatted Bear when she throws a massive tantrum. That was a bad idea because there is nothing that she loves more than her grandchildren and now, based on Doug's recommendation, she will not be able to be with the kids (when the new boy arrives) without supervision. Basically everything blew up in her face because she won't be able to babysit and Doug recommended that she get her own social worker so that she can get assistance with grocery shopping and bills, etc...

She was not happy. Neither was I. In fact, a couple of days later she left for her summer vacation in Pennsylvania. I haven't called her once. I'm just still a little pissed off because I felt like she stabbed us in the back. I totally understand her concerns and she has every right to feel that way but why didn't she say something earlier? Why didn't she let us iron it out within the family? Was she really trying to put a kibosh on the adoption?

Anyway, it's done and there's nothing we can do. They have to do more evaluations of her to see if her blindness affects anything. Even though Doug said it wouldn't, besides a little extra paperwork, it still bothers me.

Just a few months ago, the department was up our butts about our paperwork and doctor's reports and inspections. They were in this huge rush which made us think that we were in for a quick process. Now I'm not so sure. It's like they wanted us to hurry up just so that we could wait. It was like being in a car going 100 miles and hour and then slamming to a halt. It's jarring.

In all truth, I'm not in a giant hurry. It would be nice to have one last summer with my three kids and soak them in as much as possible before a new person is added to the family. I would enjoy that quite a lot. But it's also hard to be in limbo, to not know what's coming and worse...to drag the process on. Between the certification, placement and adoption, we're talking TWO YEARS and we're only 6 months into it! How do I plan? Do I plan at all? It's out of my control, so I'm just not going to worry about it. It'll happen when it happens.

I just have to lend myself to the process, surrender to it. It's not easy because I know this is totally going to shock you but...I'm a bit of a control freak. I know, I know...I could hear the collective gasps. Especially from those of you who have seen my linen closet with my obsessively folded towels. The control thing must come as a huge shock to you :-).

On a side note: it's the 29th of May and the high for today is 65 degrees!! Yesterday I wore a sweater! What the? It's supposed to be like this all weekend. Part of me is annoyed and the other part is crossing my fingers that we won't have to turn on our AC until August!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Tasty Treat

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I'm itchy. Everywhere. I'm not exactly sure what bit me. Perhaps mosquitoes, or maybe a hungry spider. Whatever it was bit me twice on my arm fat, once on the side of my hand, on my head, chest, legs and back.

I can't go outside without being swarmed. Howie and the kids can be outside for hours. They can be without repellent, covered in honey and sprinkled in sugar granules and the bugs won't bite them.

I step outside covered in Off spray, wearing a garlic clove around my neck while holding my breath and they will swarm me like a pack of rabid wolves.

I'm starting to wonder if I have strawberry milkshake running through my veins as opposed to blood. Whatever it is, it's sweet and apparently the talk of the bug town.

I swear they form a line outside my bedroom window like it's a giant fast food drive-thru. They're just looking for a way in.

The other night I went to bed covered head to toe in clothes and wearing repellent and wrapped cocoon-like in the covers. I got bit repeatedly. Howie slept half naked with the covers kicked off. He didn't get a single bite. Because he is simply not as tasty.

Because some of the bites look different, I'm thinking I got bit by a spider. Just the thought of it makes me cringe. I mean seriously. There I was sleeping, minding my own business and a spider was crawling all over me, taking yummy little bites out of me here and there. I hope I rolled over and swashed his furry little ass!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Gift of Giving

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In our attempt to teach Birdie about the spirit of giving, we asked her to fore go getting birthday presents from her party guests and instead ask them to bring personal hygiene items which she could then donate to a local shelter.

She did it and to her credit, she did it without complaining.

She collected toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, combs, tooth brushes, deodorant, feminine products, razors, soap and lotion.

Last night we dropped off the stuff at the shelter. I know that I promised you all photos and whatnot and you can boo and hiss all you want but the truth is that when we got there and started unloading the stuff with the help of the residents, I thought it to be ostentatious to then take pictures.

It just felt weird. It seemed that by taking pictures, I was wanting to take credit for doing something nice when that sort of thing should be done without a pat on the back. Plus, it would have put them on display. It was just wrong, so I didn't do it.

As I said, one of the residents helped us take the stuff inside because the bags were dreadfully heavy. I explained what Birdie had done and the woman looked right at her and said, "you know, I didn't get to wash my hair this morning because we didn't have any more shampoo so you just made my day. If everyone would do something like this, the world would be a different place."

Birdie smiled.

She got to see the inside of the building which was institutional and dark and cold. It's where the unfortunate live their lives, only minutes yet light years away from where we live. It's a place where hope can be found, but only in very trace amounts. This particular shelter was rescue housing for adults who are homeless and trying to get their lives back on track. They are trying hard to overcome whatever situation made them vulnerable to homelessness and they are looking not for a hand-out but a hand-up.

I've said this before and I will say it again. If you want to experience true unbridled happiness, go help someone in need. It's one thing to write a check to a charity. It's another thing to go face to face with the needy. There is no way that you can look them in the eye and go home and live your life without being changed. The reason is that when you shake their hands or smile at them, you form a connection- a bond. They stay in your mind and heart and you become compelled to do something.

It's not always easy but the reward is something words cannot explain. The feeling of happiness is intoxicating. Birdie and I were on cloud nine last night and while I know she doesn't get the whole picture, I know she got a glimpse of it.

It made me feel like a wonderful mom. Because I know that I did something great, I took a giant step in teaching her to be a caring, giving, compassionate person. She learned in 20 minutes of practice what may have taken years in preaching. It's a lesson I fully intent to keep beating into her head :-)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day Seven - The Challenge

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So how exactly do I presume to apply all of this gain self awareness? Well...

My goal is to do something consistently for others. First on my agenda, I plan to organize a fundraiser: an enchilada dinner to raise money for World Vision and Simply Smiles (an organization that is currently working to help children living in dumpsters in Oaxaca, Mexico). I spoke with the president of Simply Smiles who offered to be a guest speaker at our event. I'm going to try to get some raffle items as well and hopefully have a good amount to donate. I'll keep you posted.

Last week was my daughter, Birdie's birthday. This year instead of presents, we decided to ask her party guests to bring personal hygiene items for a local shelter. She collected an entire bag full and will be dropping them off this week (stay tuned for the blog with pictures).

Our church is holding a hair-washing event at the same shelter and I'm going to make sure they get some shampoo and towels as well as join in their monthly soup kitchen volunteering and organize some of my friends to go over and work a day as well.

Next week, Birdie and I will be walking in our local Race For The Cure. It's a cause that's near and dear to my heart and there is something so uplifting about being surrounded by so many survivors!

I have sponsored a child through World Vision. Her name is Madalena and she lives in Mozambique. She is 11 years old and lives with her family in a community severely affected by the AIDS/HIV crisis. I strongly encourage you all to consider sponsoring a child. It's one of the easiest things you can do and costs just a little over a dollar a day. You can do so by clicking here.

In the long term (within the next year) I also plan to go to Mexico to help build houses and what not. I've been eagerly looking for an opportunity to get back to my roots and culture and what a better way then to go to Mexico and help people in need. I would love to continue to do that and bring my kids along when they are old enough!

Of course, this is not all. It's only the beginning. I'm excited to see what all I can accomplish and I will be sure to keep you posted.

And here is my challenge to you...what can you do this month to help someone? I offered this challenge to some of my friends and have been happily surprised at their responses because they have some crazy good ideas. One offered to work at soup kitchen and/or organize clothes at our local shelter. Another said she has a passion for parties and wants to throw parties for homeless children.

What can you come up with? Just in case you don't feel creative, here is a list of ideas for you butt I would be really excited to hear some of yours:

1. Become a big brother/big sister.
2. Call your local heating/electrical company and offer to pay a needy family's bill.
3. Visit the elderly in a nursing home. Play the piano, read books, call bingo.
4. Buy $25.00 in extra groceries and drop them at your local food bank.
5. Offer to cook for a local shelter.
6. Donate your extra clothes.
7. Sponsor a child somewhere in the world.
8. Before you shop online, go to goodshop.com. Then buy from participating retailers and the site donates a portion of your purchase to the charity of your choice.
9. Donate old cell phones to victims of domestic violence for emergencies (go to ncadv.org and click "donate").
10. Send a DVD or video game to hospital-bound kids via childsplaycharity.org.
11. Give blood.

Okay, I could go on and on, there is just simply so many to pick from. What will you do?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Day Six- The Lesson

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Last night I got sick. Very sick. Sicker than I ever remember being. My body was screaming at me. My stomach had had enough and decided to wage a war from the inside out. It carried out a full blown digestive attack that left me in cold sweats and made me seriously consider a visit to the ER.

I conceded. I ate a single portion cup of applesauce. My stomach readily accepted the treaty. This has been harder than I ever expected it to be. It has pushed me on so many levels: physical, emotional, mental. What a huge learning experience.

The main thing that keeps coming up over and over and over again is my inability to consistently see the blessings God has bestowed to my life and how I don't full appreciate everything I have.

I complain too much. Perhaps not outwardly but in general I feel put out by various obstacles in my life. My house is too dirty (yet I have a home to live in). The bills never end (yet I have money to pay them). My kids drive me crazy (yet I have beautiful children to love). My husband is a pain in the ass (yet he's a wonderful man).

And on and on...

I have to defrost the chicken for dinner (yet I have food). The doctor recommends I drink 8 glasses of water a day (and I don't even have to walk ten miles to get it). I don't like the way my body looks (yet it's healthy).

In general, I don't appreciate my life enough. And in the end, is that not all I have? Why am I complaining my time away? What could I possibly have to complain about? In the large scheme of things I am going to feel like such a fool to complain about anything, especially when things are so good. I am young, healthy, vibrant, loved and blessed. Why would I choose to be anything but ecstatic about that.

This week's deprivation has taught me to see things through another perspective. Water tastes better, my house seems more comfortable, the flowers on my front steps seem more colorful. I feel renewed because I have a passion for happiness. I'm grateful and joyful about my life because I'm so lucky.

For me, the first step in trying to live my life to help others is to recognize my blessings. Because if I'm too busy feeling sorry for myself, I won't have time to think of others. If I accept my life; however, and stop worrying about the small things and bask in the many rewards I have, then I feel content, fulfilled. And once I am fulfilled, I can look outward and upward. I can stop looking at myself long enough to see others. I can stop worrying about myself long enough to worry about others.

I know it might not always be easy to remember this but boy howdy am I going to try. It's going to be a struggle to change my way of thinking permanently and I'm sure to have a few set backs.

I have learned oodles and as much as I try to put it into words, I just can't. My goal in doing this week long food deprivation was to learn and blog and in doing so, share that insight with you all. I hoped that through my sacrifice we could all experience an enlightenment. I hope I have done that. I hope I was able to express what I've felt and thought and learned. And furthermore, I hope you will all embrace it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day Five- The Hunger

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I can't even begin to describe how hungry I am. Hunger pains are my constant companion, along with the headache and the growing lethargy. I feel lightheaded and weak and tired. I want to sleep. Standing up is exhausting. Walking is debilitating. I have lost 14 pounds, undoubtedly most of it water weight. I have slow reflexes and I'm nauseous.

I am eating the cornmeal but it's difficult. I still struggle to force myself to eat but I don't come even close to eating enough to satiate my hunger. I have to overcome the nausea before I can eat and that's no easy task. I'm also trying very hard (sometimes in vain) to get enough fluids. It's taking me longer and longer to drink a glass of water. It also takes me a long while for my body to swallow the cornmeal.

It's weird. Normally when I eat it's an easy venture. I put the food in my mouth, I chew, I swallow. It's not so easy anymore. I put the food in my mouth and even if I want to swallow, I'm having a hard time actually making it happen. It's not always from the nausea, it's like my body is refusing the food.

I can't think straight and I'd go as far as to say that my judgment is cloudy. You know how you feel when you're almost asleep but still have enough consciousness to think you're awake. When you feel awake but then try to will your body to move and it won't? I'm there.

Or how bout when you're drunk but you don't think your drunk. You don't have real control over your body. Same thing.

I have two more days after this and I just can't wait. This has not been easy. It's starting to break me. The only thing I can think about is how I only have to endure this for a week. I have something to look forward to. I know it will be over soon.

I can't imagine knowing that there is no relief in sight. I can't imagine embracing the hunger pain as my life long companion.

My brain is mush and I keep making typos so I am going to leave it at that. Woop, I think I'm getting dizzy. Time to log off.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Day Four- The Excess

3 comments:
I have to tell ya, when you've been been without any type of real food for three full days...the cornmeal starts to look appetizing. It's not that it looks delicious, it's just that when I know that the bowl of cornmeal is the only thing that will pacify the hunger pains, it takes on a whole new perspective. I still gag from time to time and I still have to resist the urge to not eat at all but it is getting better.

I have technically "cheated" with some fluids. I drank some orange juice and a cup of milk. I am also looking forward to brushing my teeth everyday, just for the taste of the spearmint. The main reason is that I can't help but burp from time to time and when I do, you can imagine that it's not the most pleasant aroma.

Just last week I was complaining that there was nothing good to eat in my refrigerator even though it was overflowing with goodness. I was also complaining about eating so called "health food". How horrible it was to skip the toast or to do without the sugar. How awful it tasted to use the low calorie dressing or skipping the pasta in lieu of an extra cup of vegetables. What I wouldn't give for that diversity right now. I would go without bread for the rest of my life if I never had to eat the cornmeal again. Same goes with the sugar. I would eat a salad and wouldn't even ask for dressing at all! I will never look at food the same way again. In particular, I will never look at my excessive eating in the same way again.

I now know that it's not a matter of me not being able to control myself. I have proved that I can. It's more about me not wanting to control myself. It's about over-indulging and excess. I always seem to want more. More food, more clothes, more stuff. Why is that?

I'm drowning in my excess. I spend my days picking up toys that the kids don't need and washing too many dishes we don't need. I spend hours washing and folding laundry that we don't need and paying bills for things we bought that we don't need. We have books we don't read and shoes we haven't worn in a year. We store crap that we forgot we even had and have bins full of junk we'll never use.

I'm surrounded by excess and sometimes I feel like I'm suffocating in it. My life is excessive and I don't own expensive purses or wear sparkly jewelry. I don't pay attention to labels and I try my best not to be wasteful.

I'm not like one of those people featured on daytime TV who have their houses filled from floor to ceiling with useless shit. But there is stuff. Stuff that I have to clean and wash and organize. Stuff that I have to put away. Stuff that I have to make room for. You should see my linen closet. I must have like twenty towels in there! Why do I need so many stinking towels? Howie and I take one bath a day. The kids take one every other day. By rights we should own like 5 towels and that would be more than enough! Because I could wash them every other day and we'd still always have a clean towel! And paper....oh lordy, the paper in this house! School projects and lunch menus and bills and shopping lists. I mean really, if a meteor were to crash through my roof right now, the only papers I would really need could fit in a small manila folder. So why do I have two file cabinets full??

Why do I keep all this stuff? Why do the kids have so much clothes? Why do I? They could get by with a third of what they have. And so could I. If they had less clothes then it would mean less laundry strewn across the floor and less washing to do and less water to use and less time to waste and less stress in my life. Just think about how much I lose by having so many clothes!! And for what?

And what about the dishes? What if we only had what we needed? I'd spend less time at the sink, we'd save money on soap. We'd use less energy and water not having to run the dishwasher. I'd have more time for my friends, my family or even myself!! I could get by with doing the dishes only once a day *GASP*.

I also waste a lot of food. I buy what I think is what we need for 2 weeks at a time but it's grossly over estimated. I most always end up throwing away a couple of carrots or a long forgotten cucumber. Some of my lettuce is left to wilt and I can't tell you how many left overs have been tossed.

So I need to clean out my linen closet and my pantry and closet and my refrigerator. I need to sift through my dressers and my kitchen cabinets. I need to dig through my basement and weed through the toys.

Something tells me that though I will have much less, I will gain more than I ever imagined in terms of peace of mind and insight. I think life will be easier, slower, simpler, less stressful somehow.

I'm starting to learn that I don't need much to get by. I don't need much food to survive. I don't need many clothes. I don't need most of everything I have and yet I don't always acknowledge them as such privileges. Really all I need is a little food and water in my belly, some clothes on my back and a roof over my head. When I really think about it, my general needs are pretty limited.

Everything else just bogs me down.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day Three- The Mother

2 comments:
So far so good. Amy saved me yesterday by cooking her version of the cornmeal which was much less vomit inducing. Disgusting yes, but palatable. Compared to what I have been eating, it was a porterhouse steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes!

I'm not nearly as sick to my stomach which means that I'm getting hungry. I never realized how much I graze throughout the day. It's so hard not to take a bite of an apple or pop a few grapes in my mouth or eat the left over cereal in one of the kids' bowls. Last night, the family had pizza that Howie brought home. I stayed upstairs and waited for their feast to be over. I couldn't bear to be in the same room. I've yet to cook an official meal because I'm afraid that the smell of it will send me over the edge and I will throw myself down on top of a piece of grilled chicken and start to dry hump it.

This morning was like any other morning. After the older kids were off to school I started cleaning the kitchen. I was busily loading the dish washer when I heard Bear call for me. I got her, changed her and asked her the same question I do every morning: "Are you hungry, baby?"

"Ye-up", she said in her raspy little voice. For those of you that don't know, Bear sounds less like a two year old girl and more like a 60 year old chain smoking man.

I got her a banana and some cottage cheese and I wondered: how must it feel to not be able to feed your children? What if she woke up and I had nothing to give her? How would it feel to watch your child starve?

I shutter at the thought.

I complain if I'm out of an ingredient and have to shlep myself to the supermarket. I sigh and roll my eyes when I have forgotten to defrost a gallon of milk.

What must it be like for a mother to not have a home for their child or not be able to clothe them or give them water? What must it be like to have a sick child and not be able to make them feel better? Heck, if my kids scratch their ears for more than 5 seconds, I take them to the pediatrician to make sure they don't have an ear infection. I absolutely hate it when they are sick. I hate to hear them cough. I hate to see them vomit. I hate to hear them cry in pain. When Bubba was a baby and had to stay in the hospital for jaundice I cried for nearly two days. Because he had to wear tiny little goggles and sleep under a light like a little chicken, waiting to hatch. He wasn't suffering but he was just away from me and the thought of it was unbearable.

The reason is that I love them and don't want them to suffer. I don't want them to be in pain. I can't imagine how I would feel if I were right now living in a shelter and I couldn't provide a home. Or what it would feel like to put my child to bed knowing that they will be bitten all night by mosquitoes carrying malaria that will eventually kill them.

Can you imagine the helplessness?

It breaks my heart. I can't think of it without crying.

I try to imagine that it is my child. The child that I carried in my body for most of a year. The child that I nursed and comforted and watched grow. The child that I sheltered from harm and love more than words can even describe.

Imagine your child. The innocence in their eyes, the fragility of their tiny little bodies and how they cling to you when they need you the most. The way they look to you for love and comfort and nourishment.

And what about the mother-less children. The 15 million children around the globe who have been left orphaned by AIDS. The thought of that many children out there in the world trying to get by is staggering, overwhelming even. I try to imagine my three kids fending for themselves if it were me. I can't even see how they'd survive, which in many cases they don't.

As a mother, I can't sit by and let this go on without acting. While the problem seems gargantuan and I know that I myself cannot solve it, I have to do something. I can't sleep at night knowing that I tucked my children safely into bed wearing their comfy pajamas and with full bellies and be okay with doing nothing to help the mother-less.

I'm a grown woman. My mom died when I was 32 years old and the pain that I felt was excruciating. I felt alone and scared, like the life preserver that I had been clinging to was ripped from my arms and I was left to flounder in this great big world alone. And I was an adult who has family and who could care for myself. How must it feel then, to be a child in that same situation? To be ten years old and watch my mother die, to bury her with my own two hands. How would I care for my brothers and sisters? How would I carry such a burden on my tiny little shoulders?

Again...it's impossible to think of it without crying.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day Two- The Excuses

8 comments:
I've been eating very slowly. It takes me nearly an hour to eat one cup of corn meal. I take a bite, shiver and then wash it down with a gallon of water. I have peed forty times today. Lord help me, this is not easy. I even skipped lunch yesterday and starved in lieu of eating it. I'm not a fussy eater as evidenced by my giant behind. Why can't I eat this? What is wrong with me? Am I that selfish? Am I so ungrateful that I would rather starve? Why am I so weak?

The first bowl took forever to eat because I had to stop and breathe before every bite. I would breathe, brace myself, slowly bring the spoon to my mouth and then stare at it for a minute while I cursed at myself under my breathe for doing this and then finally put it in my mouth. The initial bite isn't so bad. It's the aftertaste that comes when you start chewing. It's gritty and tastes like sand wrapped up in rotting flesh and deep fried in camel sweat. I'm telling ya, post nasal drip goes down better than this stuff.

Then I thought that I should just take giant bites and get it over with. You know, pull the band-aid all at once. It didn't work. The giant gulps were even more nauseating and I came very close to throwing up. I forced myself not to because I knew that if I vomited it would all be over- there would be no way I could eat it anymore. So, on Amy's advice, I'm going to water it down and eat it slowly again. But all this slow eating gives me time to think and I've been thinking about excuses. My excuses.

I make A LOT of excuses about why I don't help people. I never realized that before. When I see the commercials on TV that show the little kids with bulging bellies and flies glued to their eyes I change the channel because first of all, it's hard to see. But it sticks in my head and I walk away thinking about it and wondering if I should do something. I think I should do something but then end up talking myself out of it with excuses.

"But I have to pay my bills! I can't afford it! My money would probably go to some fat cat business man anyway. Will my dollar a day really make that big of a difference? I'll do it next month. Man, I'm hungry...I'm gonna go have a snack." And then I forget about it.

The truth is, my bills will get paid (eventually). I can afford a dollar a day and if I'm really that worried about the trustworthiness of an organization then I should do research and give my money to someone I trust. I could buy food and drop it at a food bank. I could take food to the shelter, cook the food and see it go right into people's bellies. And doing it next month? It never seems to happen. Excuses!

And what about that guy I was talking about yesterday? The guy holding the hungry sign that I ignored on the street? I wanted to help. It hurt my heart to see him but I didn't. Why?

"But what if he's crazy and pulls a knife on me? He's probably an alcoholic trying to score his next bottle. Even if I give him food now, it doesn't solve his problems."

But the truth is that I could have had Howie give him the food if I were scared. Even if he's an alcoholic doesn't mean that he's not hungry and since he's clearly lost it's even more important that I help. And if I didn't want to give him money I could have at the very least given him a bag of food and that would have been something better than nothing. Excuses!

There are all these things that I keep meaning to do. I want to build houses for Habitat for Humanity. I want to give blood. I need to volunteer at the nursing home. But where will I find the time? I have three kids and a dirty house and a demanding mother-in-law. I have school obligations and shopping to do and bills to pay and dinner to cook. I have errands to run and play dates to attend. I have laundry that needs folded and weeds that need pulled.

"I just don't have time to do any of it. Maybe someday when the kids are older and when I have more time on my hands."

The truth is that I could find an hour here and there if I really wanted to. I could have someone watch the kids while I help build a house. I could donate blood when Howie gets home from work. I could take Bear with me when I volunteer at the nursing home. The kids will survive without me for an hour. A clean house is grossly over-rated and besides, it only ever stays clean for 2.5 minutes before it's trashed again so what's the point? Mamaw can take a chill pill and I don't need to feel guilty for it. I can accept help from friends and as for the laundry and the weeds- who am I kidding...I was never going to get to that anyway! Excuses!

I think the truth of it is that I'm selfish. I hate to think of myself like that because I don't really think I am. I give a lot of myself to everyone around me. How can I be selfish? I am because I'm not always willing to make myself uncomfortable in order to help others. I do what what's easy. I write a check, I drop off clothes at the food bank when I think about it. The difference is that there is no commitment. I just do it when I feel like it. When I can fit it in.

I need to make it a priority in my life. A part of "A Hole In Our Gospel" sticks out at me. It talks about how the poor, the sick, the week, the old, the young...that is where you find God. And he asks us to take care of his smallest, his most in need. In the end, will we not be judged for what we did to help the least of us? Did we clothe the naked? Did we feed the hungry? Did we bring water to the thirsty? Did we comfort the dying? Did we give direction to the lost?

I don't want to get to my judgment and be all, "well...I had every intention of doing those things and I did some every once in a while but my life was more important. It was more important for me to buy that extra black shirt because it was the only thing that would go with my khaki pants. And as for the hungry, well...I wanted to help but after I had that lasagna, I was too stuffed to move. It was more important for me to drink bottled water than help bring water to the thirsty. I would have comforted the dying but it's their own fault for smoking too much or putting themselves in danger. It's not my place to give someone my direction and besides, I couldn't stop because I was already late to my hair appointment."

Man, when I lay it out like that it sounds HORRIBLE. Yet, those are typical things that I say all the time. I make excuses that at the time seem reasonable but in hindsight look incredibly selfish. For some reason, I feel entitled. I feel like my life and all of it's mundane glory is somehow more important. What's worse is that I get caught up in packing lunches and ironing clothes and driving to dance class and getting a new pair of flip flops. And the truth is that those things are okay. They are part of my life and there is nothing wrong with them. It's just that I can't and shouldn't let them take over my life so much that it's filled to the brim with tiny useless details that in the end bring no fulfillment to my life. They are a part of me but they shouldn't define me or crowd out what's important and even worse, I shouldn't use them as an excuse to not give.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day One- The Jackass

5 comments:
I made the cornmeal mush this morning. Let me just say that while I have good intentions, I am in no way EXCITED about eating this stuff. It looks disgusting and I have to say- it doesn't smell much better. The smell made my stomach turn and right then I had an epiphany: I'm a jackass.

I'm a jackass because people will walk miles and miles in oppressive heat without water or shoes and they are grateful to eat this stuff. It might be disgusting but what it lacks in flavor it makes up for in nutrition. I wonder if I am every as grateful for any of my meals as they are for every one of their meals. I don't ever really look at my food and appreciate it. It's just there. And I eat it. I don't appreciate that I'm not hungry. Or that my children aren't hungry. I mean, I do- I just don't ever really think about it.

I'm eating it right now. It's not pleasant. What the heck did I get myself into??? A week? I have to eat this stuff for a week? Seriously? Is it too late to change my mind? My friend Shari says that she doesn't want to see me all week because I will by trying to gnaw my way through her thigh by Wednesday afternoon.

I can tell you right now that the hardest part of this week's journey is going to be cooking for the rest of family and then not being able to eat any of it. I have to chop the vegetables and smell the chicken as it cooks and serve it hot and piping to my family. Then I get to watch them eat it.

So I wonder if people who are starving have an awareness that there are people in other countries who are eating steaks and fruit and vegetables and big macs. I wonder if they know that we waste thousands of tons of good food every single day in this country. And we sit here with our food and prefer to throw it away and let it decay and cause noxious gases to fill our atmosphere rather than giving it to them, the starving people.

Is it just me or does that not make ANY sense at all? It's such a waste. I wonder how I would feel if I were that person with a growling belly. I would know that there were people all around me who were not only well fed but throwing away their food. And there I would sit...starving. I think I would be angry. I would feel forgotten and not just un-cared for but hated even. Why else would people do that to me? Am I worthless?

This isn't just the problem of people in far away countries. Did you know that right now, 35.5 million people are hungry in our country...12.6 million of those people are children. This reminds me of something that I'm very shameful about. Every time I went to the supermarket this past winter, I would see a man standing at the stop sign that turned into the store. He held a sign saying he was hungry. I drove by him every time. I could have (should have) gone into the store and bought him some bread and cold cuts and a bag of apples. I should have done something. I shouldn't have put my groceries in my car and try to ignore him as I drove past. How would it feel to be ignored by society like that? I'm so ashamed that I didn't do something, anything. Even the smallest of gestures might have made his life easier, if even for a day because it would have not only nourished his body but also his spirit to know that someone saw him and cared enough to stop and help. I truly am a jackass!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Hole In Our Gospel

2 comments:
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine (Amy) suggested that I read a book called "A Hole In Our Gospel", written by the Richard Stearns (CEO of World Vision- an charitable organization that helps the sick and poor). I did and have to say...I cannot remember a time when I felt so compelled, so moved and so ashamed.

It's an inspiring book I recommend you all go out and buy a copy, read it and then share it with your friends and family. The book is basically about how most of us consider ourselves "Christians". We go to church, we pray, we tithe and we have faith. We try our best to live our lives in a way that would please God which means that we try our best not to lie or cheat or steal or kill and for the most part, if asked we would each say that we do a pretty good job at being good people.

We try to do good things by donating money to the Special Olympics or giving blood or offering our support for breast cancer by walking in the Race For The Cure. And all of those things are good; however, they don't exempt us from a continual commitment to give to the poor, sick or weak. It's not enough to do a little bit here and there. We must weave the giving of spirit into our daily lives and give consistently.

I was one of those people who would say, "well...I give to so many charities and do so much for the community. Nobody can say that I don't care or do enough." But my responsibilities to give were not even close to being met. It wasn't okay to go to church and say a prayer for the poor and hope that somebody does something to help. It wasn't okay to forget about it during the week or close my eyes to the problems by changing the channel on the TV when a commercial about starving children was aired.

The book has inspired me to make giving and concern a part of my daily life. To think about it frequently and find ways that I can give back. We were not all called to give up our entire lives and move to Uganda and devote our lives to the poor and dying. But we were all called to give back, to do our part...all the time, not just once in a while.

This means I have to think of ways to go out of my routine, to sacrifice money and time and anything else required to do my part. I kind of started this back in January by saying that each month I was going to do something for us and our family to somehow contribute to the world. My family volunteered at congregate center, we adopted a homeless kitten, we donated clothes and money to children living in dumpsters in Mexico. That's all great and good but it's not nearly enough.

I believe that the best way to contribute is by using the gifts that God gave us and applying them. The book challenges us to do something because once you are aware, there's no excuse for not acting. For me, I am blessed with the gift of gab and ideas. So I will be applying them to inform people, to inspire people and to do something creative.

Amy did the same thing. She created a website called Cornmeal For A Year. Every weekday for a year, she will be eating a cornmeal lunch, the same cornmeal stuff they airlift into impoverished countries. She will put away the money she would spend on her lunch and at the end of the year contribute it to World Vision. Now, there is no way that I could last a year so I will be doing a full week (starting tomorrow) of eating cornmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I will then put away the money and sponsor a child ($35) for a month. Not only that, I think I will learn a lot and I will be blogging it over the next week...what I feel, what I learn.

We are also going to organize a luncheon so that we can inform people about World Vision and hopefully make some money to donate as well. I have a few more ideas in the works but they are still in their infancy so bear with me.

It's just impossible to think that everyday, thousands, THOUSANDS of children are dying of hunger. Imagine the town you live in. Imagine lining up a couple of thousand of your children and watching them die in front of your eyes. Now imagine that nobody cares about it.

But it's not just dying children, there are people in need all around us. Could you donate some of your clothes? Could you volunteer at a soup kitchen? Could you offer your time at a fundraiser? Could you visit someone in a nursing home? Could you sacrifice a week's worth of coffee and donate the money to a great cause? Of course you could!!

You might be thinking, "but I'm just one person, what difference can I make?" Well, you're right. You are ONE person who can help ONE person, today. If everyone helped ONE person everyday by doing something kind, imagine how different our world would be.

This next week, I will be blogging intensely about this. Please do me a favor and read it, even if it's uncomfortable. Challenge yourselves to think and feel and learn. Come on this journey with me and lets see what we can accomplish!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Bright Smile

7 comments:
Me: "It's time to go to bed now, did you brush your teeth?"
Birdie: "Yes I did and they are squeaky clean and super bright and fresh."
Me: "Let me smell."
Birdie: *haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa*
Me: "Minty fresh. Alright, lets head to bed. Man, it's kind of dark in here."
Birdie: "Don't worry. My teeth will lead the way."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fire In The Hole!

6 comments:
I made mention a while back about how Bear was rounding into the terrible twos...otherwise known as that phase when small people go batshit.

Living with Bear is like living with an alcoholic, bi-polar, menopausal woman who has forgotten her meds. One minute she'll be peachy king and then next minute she'll be a slobbering pile of crazy writhing on the floor.

The slightest things set her off. It's like playing Russian roulette. And every time I pull the trigger and nothing happens, I open my eyes, take a deep breathe and thank God that I lived to see another day. And if something does set her off? Well, lets just say that I hope the bullet gets me right between the eyes because that means I'm dead and I don't have to listen to her choke on her own spit until she turns red in the face. So far, the bullets have not put me out of my misery but simply grazed my temple. It's not death but it definitely causes permanent damage and trauma.

This morning was a typical morning for us and she was in an unusually pleasant mood. I found myself tiptoeing around her trying not to say anything or do anything that would cause a change in her mood. I walked into her room and sang her the customary "good morning song" but she pouted so I stopped. My stomach went into knots when she said she wanted to wear her Cinderella wedding dress which I wasn't about to allow. I said "no" and quickly covered my face to protect it from the shrapnel that was about to explode all around me. She didn't react. Whew! I was nervous at every turn. Would she let me brush her hair? Would she freak out if I brushed her teeth? Would she insist on wearing her snow boots that are two sizes too small?

We made it through the morning including breakfast without any meltdowns. I was feeling good about myself. As I packed up, she played happily and smiled and giggled and sang. She's a good girl.

Me: "Okay baby, it's time to go."
Bear: "Alright." (She really does say that, and she says it like a game show host that's about to offer you THE BEST DEAL YOU COULD IMAGINE.)
Me: "Get your teddy bear". It's at this moment that I realize she is wearing a toy electric guitar.
Bear: "Take betar."
Me: *oh shit* "No honey, you can't take the guitar." *grit my teeth. Stop, drop and roll*
Bear: "Noooooooooooo, betaaaaaaar."

I debate whether I should just let her take the stinking "betaar" but then decide that it's a matter of principle and that I must stand my ground as treacherous as it may be. She stomped her feet, she threw herself on the floor and flopped around like a dying fish. She screamed so loud that a blood vessel burst in my brain.

I picked up her limp body and carried her to the car where I strapped her in all the while resisting the urge to strangle her. She told me that she hates me and then she put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger. Okay, she didn't actually do that but if looks could kill it wouldn't have been a pleasant death!!!

I lived through it. But heard it again when I wouldn't let her wear my glasses and also when I told her that she couldn't watch "Toy Story" because the dvd was scratched. When it started to rain I about cried because I knew she would want to hold the umbrella and I can't even begin to tell you how unpleasant that would be!

If there is any silver lining to this situation, it's that while the bomb explodes quite frequently, the blast radius is pretty small. The tantrums only last a minute or two. I think she's slowly learning that nothing will come of the hysterics so she may as well put a cork in it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Hater

9 comments:
Everywhere I looked today there were flowers and cards and family parties. There were happy families and beaming mothers.

All I can say is this: Mother's day looks a lot different when you've lost your mother.

I've kind of been dreading Mother's Day because it makes me sad. And angry. And bitter.

I'm like one of those single people who has a bad attitude about Valentine's Day because everywhere they look there are hearts and flowers and people kissing except they don't have anyone to heart them or send them flowers or kiss them. That's me. The Mother's day hater. I didn't get to spend an hour carefully reading mother's day cards until I found just the right one. I didn't get to call her or send her flowers.

In church today, the pastor asked for grace for all of those who have lost mothers. I didn't get enough of it because I've been everything but graceful. Crazy, yes. But the grace was lost on me.

My eyes are puffy from the crying. But I found a card sent to me by my friend Monica. It was a sympathy card she sent shortly after my mom passed and this is what it said: "think of this when you are missing your mom: you have all of the good in her. You have a way of making people special, laughter always surrounds you and your heart is too big to measure."

Honestly, I think that card is one of the only things that got me through the day. That and Bear's giggles. And Bubba's hugs and Birdie's kisses.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ketchup

5 comments:
It's funny how often I underestimate how many people read my blogs. I say this because I haven't written in a week or so and I can't believe how many people are wondering if I am alive. "Are you okay?" "Is everything alright?" "Have you taken a mis-step and fallen into crater and now you are trapped somewhere deep in the center of the earth?"

Just so you know, I'm okay. I'm good actually because for a while there, I disconnected myself completely from the internet which I have to say, is quite freeing. I got a lot accomplished. Just so we're clear, I am still buried under a to-do list the size of Texas but I did accomplish a lot.

So I'm going to attempt to catch you up on the goings on of the last week:

1. I think I have some of the best friends in the world. The other day when I was crying like a pansy ass that my house was out of control, my friend Amy came over and did the unthinkable. She cleaned my bathroom. Now, my bathroom is my dirty little secret. It's the one part of the house that I never seem to get to because by the time I get to it I have spent 14 hours cleaning the rest of this monstrosity and when I finally get to the bathroom it takes all I have in me to crawl into my dirty shower and run the water so nobody can hear me cry. So it's filthy. She came over and scrubbed my floors on her hands and knees and then she stuffed herself into my disgusting showered and sweltered while she scrubbed it to a gleaming shine. She also folded my underwear which means that the only way we could be more intimate at this point is if we exchange bodily fluids. She clearly loves me.

2. I have been feeling slightly better. My cat scans came back normal and I saw an ENT who said that I have perfectly good looking sinuses. He suggested that I may have migraines that are brought on by my horrific allergies. I concur. He gave me this incredibly disgusting spray for my nose. It's very effective except it tastes like I've just swallowed a combination of battery acid and stinky old lady perfume. You can always tell when I've just sprayed my nose because I walk around sticking my tongue out while I gag. But I have to say...a combination of the claratin plus two nasal sprays, plus Tylenol, plus the netti pot, plus jumping up and down on my left foot seven times before going to sleep with my head facing due east seems to work really well.

3. Bubba is completely obsessed with two things: poop and boobs. It's all he talks about. Because he thinks both topics are hysterical. He is constantly seeking an opportunity to use either one of those words in a sentence. And if he doesn't get the opportunity he just starts chanting the words..."poop, poopy, poooooop, boob, boobs, boobies, booby boobs." This is how our conversations go:

Bubba: "Do cows poop?"
Me: *rolling my eyes * "Yes, they do."
Bubba: *giggling* "I bet they have big poop."
Me: "I guess."
Bubba: *incessant giggling* "Do they have boobs?"
Me: *deep sigh* "Nope."
Bubba: "Yes they do, they have big boobies. Boooooooobies. Boobs. *giggles*"
Me: "Stop saying that!"
Bubba: *trying to cop a feel* "Boooooooooobs."

I shiver to think what goes through that boy's head!

4. Birdie has played in two t-ball games. She has a heck of a swing on her but she doesn't pay attention. She never keeps her eye on the ball and will start picking flowers or spinning in circles. When Howie tells her to get into position she does so. The only problem is that she never faces home plate which means that she is often times facing the outfield. This is exactly the reason why she got hammered in the leg with a fly ball. It's a miracle the thing didn't smack her in the head! Watching them play is hysterical because Birdie is not the only one with a short attention span. Imagine ten 6 year olds wandering the playing field doing things like picking their noses and doing the pee pee dance. Although, I have to say...it does get boring when it takes the batter THIRTY MINUTES to hit a ball. Seriously, I think Mamaw would have better hand eye coordination that some of those kids!

5. We have finished all of our DCF classes. We had our second home study today and we're pretty much all set. Doug came over and checked all of our windows and doors and looked in closets, presumably for weapons or other suspicious paraphernalia. I think he's just nosey ;) It's kind of weird having someone go through your house with a fine tooth comb. Lucky for us we like Doug. He's a really cool guy who indulges Birdie when she offers to give him a 15 minute tutorial about Pokemon. We offered him some home-made pizza but he said that social workers can't accept any kind of offering during because it could be perceived as bribery. He wouldn't even take a glass of water. Man, it's a sad state of affairs when giving someone a glass of tap water can be perceived as offering them a bribe.

6. I don't know if you saw my 365 post about our carpenter bee problem but I said something like we were going to have our house sprayed, preferably by a young male with bulging biceps who wears short shorts. Well, apparently Howie read that and decided to show me who's boss. The guy showed up today. He was 50 and balding with a beer belly, Bermuda shorts and black socks pulled up to his knees. I guess I had that coming.