Friday, November 11, 2011

I'm so very sad

You know the Scripture that starts out, “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”?

Yeah. I feel that way right now.

Hey, King Solomon said these words. You know, the wisest man that ever lived, the Son of David (the man after God’s own heart)...so if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.

Don’t get me wrong. I am SO over depression. There is nothing in life worth getting so down, so isolated, so irreparably sad that you feel you can’t go on. However, I do still get sad. Normal sad. I get bothered by things. Deeply moved by things that I know just aren’t quite right (people fighting over petty things). Or very, very wrong (a Somalian child dying of hunger).

I just don’t know how I got here…finalizing a divorce…with two sweet, adorable, smart little girls in tow.

Grrrr. I know how I GOT here. I chose the wrong path and made the wrong decisions 19 months ago, three years ago...10 years ago. And the ball started rolling faster and faster until it ran over everyone in its path.

Who am I kidding? It was more like a boulder…going downhill...covered in snow and bits of debris shards of glass and ticking like a time bomb.

But now, there is nothing I can do! I’m sober, (I’ve been sober for over 19 months now). I’m wiser. I’m not so trivial about life, love, marriage. I am working, living on my own, raising a baby….SOBER. And I am so averse to wild, rebellious living that I’m downright boring.

Seriously, I’ve always been known as a free-spirit and although I am still creative and love to create, I am so disinclined to have adventures that my friends think I’ve had a lobotomy. I guess in a way, I have. And I’m not sorry for it. I NEEDED to change. I had to change. So I did change. I, at least, like myself now. That’s all that matters. Self-loathing is an unbecoming trait. Besides, I’m still fun. I laugh out loud and I truly love life.

I just wish there was something I could do to mend things that I broke. Not necessarily put the pieces back together…because, let’s face it…when I broke IT, I broke it so badly that you can’t just glue it back together. No. This is something God would have to re-form. He would have to sweep up the ashes, put them in warm water, and re-mold it. It would look completely different than it did before. I’m all for that.

I, however, can’t be the only one.

That is the reason I am so. very. sad.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

AMMENDMENT: TO TRAIN UP A CHILD Part Deux

OH the joy of being put in my place!

Tonight I had the pleasure of watching my 15 month-old neice and my 9 month-old for a few hours.

After dinner, I decided the mandarin-orange-splattered, turkey-stick-smelling monkeys sweet darlings could play in the bathtub for a while.

Let the madness ensue.

It started off great. Lots of giggling and swapping of toys and bare tooshies gliding along the bottom of the tub. Then my 9 month-old began trying to stand up.

There are few things I jump on as readily as my kids being in danger, so I immediately helped her back down and told her, "No, no, honey. Sit down."

What does she do? Yep. You got it. She stands back up.

This is where World War III a bit of a battle begins...

Stands up. Tap, tap on the rear, "No, sit down." Help her back down.

Stands back up. Tap, tap on the rear, "Sit down." Help her back down.

Stands back up. Firm tap on the rear, "Sit down." Help her back down.

She begins to cry in protest. (PROTEST. Not pain.)

Stands back up. Still light, but firm pop on the rear, "Sit down, sweetie." Help her gently back down.

Begins to SCREAM angrily. (This is a NINE MONTH OLD, people. Do not be deceived. She TOTALLY knows what is going on!)

STANDS BACK UP!!! Pop on the rear. "Baby, sit down." Help her back down.

Not even hesitating, defiant and MAD, she begins to stand back up while howling like a banshee.

Then...

She slips.

She falls and turns over and gets water in her mouth and begins bawling crying. This scares my neice who begins to cry and stand up.

I help my little one and hold her for a moment and make sure she's OK while also comforting my neice.

The rest of the bath??? Where I actually have to bathe them? HAHAHAHAHA

They were both standing up, holding on the side of the tub and me. Sniffling. And babbling happily.

Game. Set. Match.

SCORE:
Me: 0
Babies: 2

To Train Up a Child

Oh. Dear. Me.

My little one is 9 months old today. What does that mean? Well...lots of things.

It means she joyfully laughs at something she finds funny that has nothing to do with me. It means she is cruising on everything. I means she can (and is) mimicking sounds such as the "b" sound for "baby" and "ball" and the "p" sound for "potty" and "puppy." It means that just the other day, she was signing "puppy" and as I pulled toy after toy off the shelf to see which one she wanted, she aptly shook her head "no" at each toy. (Of course, I never did get the right toy because after a couple of head shakes, I think it became a game.)

It also means I am losing time to train this child in the way she should go.

Don't you gasp at me! My 9 month old is mastering the art of manipulation.... What, yours isn't???

Those of you that are parents, answer me this.... How many times has your little one thrown her sippy cup to the ground after you've repeatedly told her 'no?' What great contortions can your baby get into to get out of having his diaper changed? How loud has your angel screamed when you took an object away that they wanted?

This is called defiance. Rebellion. And it is a weed that can destroy the whole crop.

Listening instead of judging now, are we? Well...I hope so.

I would much rather train a baby to have self-control than a teenager.

A baby can have self-control, you ask? Yes, they can. I've seen it. And not only is it a joy to watch, but the immense peace the CHILD gets from delaying gratification is breath-taking. I kid you not. Ask yourself which is better...

This is the scenario:
You have warned and corralled your baby away from electrical sockets. One day, you have been charging a phone/iPod and forget to recover the socket. Your baby (6 months+) sees the uncovered socket and happily finds something else to play with, looking for your acceptance of her obedience (and hopefully getting it!). (YAY!) Or, do they, seeing the free-will chance to 'explore,' begin to stick their precious finger in the socket? Maybe you catch her before it's too late. Maybe you don't. 

Hearing those screams of pain isn't cute.

Neither is disobedience.

So, what was the difference in these babies? Why would one stop and the other one go for it anyway, despite your repeated warnings? 

Consistency. (It is ALWAYS the parents/caregivers fault if a child gets away with rebellion.) You have corralled her a hundred times, perhaps smiling as you've done it. When she screamed to explore the socket, you've endured it. However, have you ever thought about making the exploration (actual TOUCHING) of the socket, unpleasant? Truly unpleasant?

A 'pop' with two fingers on the back of the hand isn't going to kill them or even bruise them, people. And if you start out like this, you will not ever have to pop them harder than this or raise your voice. I have an almost four-year-old that can attest to this. Most of the time, a firm, quiet "right now" will get Ham moving in no time. If it doesn't, as silly as it may seem, a little pop with a debit card or tongue depressor will sober her up.

In training a child, you must make disobedience, rebellion, or physically dangerous things MORE unpleasant than the act of defiance. And don't kid yourself, sin seems fun! Especially when there are no immediate consequences. 

However, never let them get away with it. Don't let that 'one time' go. That 'one time' will turn into 50 times and you'll have a three year-old who walks all over you. Don't blame them! It's what you trained them to do!

Let me reiterate. A child throwing a tantrum is not a bad child. He is only doing what he was taught! If you get $100 every time you throw a tantrum, wouldn't you keep doing it? Doesn't make you BAD, it makes you TRAINED!

Likewise, having a child that throw tantrums does not make you a bad parent. You just need to tweak your training a bit. Tantrums should be as unpleasant to the child as they are to all of us watching.

If a child throws a fit for attention, what do you do? You ignore them.
If a child screams for a sucker, what should they get? Definitely NOT the sucker! If they are older, they shouldn't even get a cracker! Screaming shouldn't reward them ANYTHING.
If a child hits their sister to gain a toy, what should happen? They don't get to play. Period.

Like learning to maintain finances, this is easy stuff to KNOW. It's implementing it and delaying our OWN gratification that is the hard part. We are the example. Isn't it nice to have a bank account with money in it? I don't want my child to start out with a deficit in life because I'm too impatient to teach them the joy and peace of self-restraint.

You can unsubscribe from my blog now. :(

If you'd like to see where I get some of my 'hair-brained" ideas, check out To Train Up A Child and The Bible

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why Quality Over Quantity?

DISCLAIMER : All artwork shown, I sketched myself. However, the cartoon characters are the sole property of their creators.
***I claim no ownership of these characters.***
I was looking at some cartoon characters today and noticed how very rudimentary a lot of the most popular ones are right now. Especially those that inhabit the Cartoon Network.

Many of them are reminiscent of Ren and Stimpy, but more so, these days I see a lot of them following in the footsteps of Scooby Doo.

I took out my sketch book and started seeing how easily I could recreate the most popular of these cartoons (I wanted to make sure I only took seconds on these things, so they are not perfect, by any means)...I was surprised.

(I uploaded them and darkened them up a bit.)
I will say this. I had the most trouble with Winnie the Pooh. I am not sure if it was a mental thing because I have loved Pooh all my life, or if his proportions messed with me. The second hardest was the GINGA character from the Beyblade cartoon. I am not familiar with manga-style artwork, so the proportions on that one took a few minutes to figure out, as well. The others took seconds to draw.

I am not saying I am so much better than these artists, but it amazes me that so many of us kill ourselves trying to make entertaining AND quality art, and here are these people mass-producing elementary artwork. (And making millions off of it in branding items for children.)

Then I began to question WHY these cartoon characters are drawn in such simple formats? I came up with a few ideas...
  • The simplest drawings can be reproduced by just about anyone. They can have a team of artists on board who can draw any given character to mass-produce this stuff.
  • Cost-effectiveness. For the most part, this is not Pixar (Pooh and Phineas & Ferb are Disney, though). These cartoons are mostly owned by Viacom and although successful, they aren't a multi-billion dollar company staffed by the likes of ~150K people.
  • The creators are focused more on the writing. (I cannot believe some of the stuff that comes out of these cartoons sometimes. I don't even know how kids follow some of this humor.)
  • They are easy to draw so that kids CAN reproduce them! (Hey, if you can get kids to draw this stuff all over their notebooks, they become walking advertisements!)
There are probably many reasons.... You aren't paying $10 a ticket to see a two hour movie with these characters (except Pooh). I think it's more about the writing and mass-producing.

Still, stinks for me. I want to create quality work, but because of that, it takes so much more time and energy and therefore, costs a lot more if I want to sell it and make any kind of profit.

Ah, well. Back to the drawing board. (Har har)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Wordless" Wednesday is Back!


Happy Baby smiling for the camera
  
Big Girl holding her sippy cup and eating all by herself!

Ham 'taking a spin' with Momma on Uncle Bud's motorcycle

Taking a different kind of spin.
TWIRLY SKIRTS ARE AWESOME!
Smooshy loves her cousin and Aunt Jen

Momma, I'm so funny!

Drooling like a Rancor about to get its next meal

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mountian Top Experiences

Since becoming a Christian (accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, not just believing in God), I have heard the term, 'mountain top experience' at least a hundred times. I know what it means. I know what is implied when someone says they have had one. I also know that they don't last long (in this case, thank GOD).

You aren't meant to live on mountain tops. The view is great, but the wind is fierce, it's often far from water, and usually people have a hard time adjusting to the high altitudes and cold. It's just not logical or practical to live on a mountain top (and I'm speaking strictly of the peaks, here, not some nestled valley within two peaks).

For the last 16 months, I've lived in a combination of valleys and even lower valleys. I have definitely tasted fresh, mountaintop air, but it's a far cry from what I experienced when I was a new Christian. The giddy, mountain top breathlessness of my youth is nothing like the deep, cleansing (aka stripping my soul of sin) breaths of the treacherous peaks.... Which, at first, made my lungs feel like collapsing in pain.

In the worst of times, when my faith was stretched the farthest, I began to hyperventilate and shudder. (Which, coincidentally, is exactly what happens at high altitudes when you aren't use to them. Go figure.)

No, these brutal gasps and pants, I have found only with spiritual growth this time around. Of course, I had to be coerced up the mountain a bit in the first place...

Again, one cannot live on the mountain tops, and for that, I think I'm grateful. At least, I know my peaks have included jagged crags (fear), slippery slopes (temptation), falling loose rock (other's sin) and many encounters with the indwelling wildlife (my own ugliness). And I prefer to keep these frail human legs on soft grass...even though the peaks are exhilarating once conquered.

I prefer to say, "Woot-woot!" and then slowly climb back down to lay peacefully among the fragrant heather on the side of a hill.

See? Doesn't that look nice?
 
I dunno, doesn't it make sense that all the real fruit comes from the valleys? Not a whole lot grows up on those peaks.

I just pray, Lord, that when I'm in the valley, just hanging out with You, that I remember Your plan is good. Your will, perfect.

And that I'm never, ever alone.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

TA DA!

Introducing......
SMOOSHY
video
Make sure you at least watch minutes 2:00 and 3:00

When I began really getting to know Ham, I honestly thought I could never have a child more dramatic than her.

Then I met Smooshy on Novemeber 30th, 2010 (she even made her entrance a little early). She is about the most social, in-your-face baby I have ever met. I love it. And...sometimes I am almost sure that I am going to sell her to some Norwegian gypsies...if any ever come this way.

Of course, I may have chosen Norwegian gypsies so that I know I won't ever sell Smooshy, because let's face it...she's just so darn cute!

Sometimes she just busts out in a dance like she hears music playing in her head. I don't know WHERE she learned to dance like this, but this child already knows how to move.

You Know Your Child's Father is a Programmer When...

There are many different reasons you can be completely shocked and embarrassed by what your kids say.

Reason #1: Your child tells anyone standing still long enough about some intimate detail of your life (i.e. You still suck your thumb; you pick your nose...and eat it; you wear holey underwear; all you feed your kids is McDonald's, etc.).

Reason #2: Your child repeats something she's heard from a t.v. show you watch religiously (or a movie you saw on Netflix)...Or she tells people WHAT you watch by saying, "Momma loves when so-and-so make out after a big fight." Eeep! (People, DON'T let your kids watch adult shows, please. I won't get into whether or not I think ADULTS should be watching some shows....)

I digress...

Reason #3: Your child repeats things that come out of YOUR mouth that shouldn't be said OR repeated...(Unless you have the unfortunate experience of your child bursting out to your pastor, "Momma said the 's' word!" And you have to explain that the 's' word is 'stupid,' hoping he believes you-BECAUSE IT'S TRUE, NOT BECAUSE YOU ARE LYING TO COVER YOUR TAIL!).

Then there are times when you are shocked that something comes out of your kid's mouth because it's genius.

If you have ever read my blog, or you decide to back-read it, anyway, you know that Ham is a genius. At least, I think so. She's a clever little girl, at any rate. And it's apparent that her daddy THE Genius has explained a bit about computer programming (one of his specialties) to her.

Here's the scenario:
Ham is dancing around the living room 'holding' her 'brother's' hand (her new imaginary brother). At one point, she begins looking around and says, "Oh, Brother is not here anymore!" She flits over to my computer and sees a drawing (Poog) I was working on minutes before she got to my house and says, "Oh, there he is!" And at this point, she pretends to grab her brother's hand and lead him out of the computer.

My sister and I smile at each other and my sister asks, "How did your brother get inside the computer?"

At which Ham nonchalantly says, "Oh, he coded himself into the computer."

My sister and I about fell out. He CODED himself....

All the sudden my sister and I were having flashbacks of The Matrix.

Brilliant. Baby. Girl.

Still such a HAM!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I See...Birds

Here's my newest creation. His name is Poog. He is a bird. Of some sort.


One day I was looking at the ceiling while nursing Smooshy and began to notice patterns in the texturized ceiling. I focused in on one spot and sat smiling as the image of a little bird appeared.

The next day, I noticed it again and began to think that may be I should draw it.

I went about my business.

The third day, I felt that I just had to get it on paper...and Poog was born.

The first of the three images above is what I saw. I just made up the other two to give him a little more personality.

Yes, I am fully aware that Poog looks like a duck and blue jay combined.

Hey, I draw what I see in my head. Not sure why he doesn't have wings.

May be it's because he likes to do this...


RABID POOG


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When Doctrine Gets Dirty

Highly recommended series
Ham (my 3 1/2 year-old) and I went to the library yesterday to get one of her favorite videos. She wanted to share it with Smooshy (my 8 month old), which in and of itself, is just precious. (I am constantly amazed at how thoughtful Ham is when it comes to other people.) Sometimes, however, her observant and curious personality comes back to bite me.

I guess 'fate' is getting me back for when I was little and asked my dad questions like, "Why is 'y' a 'y?' Why isn't it a 'b?' I mean, who decided that it was a 'y?' Who decided that blue is actually blue? What if blue is actually green? What if we've got it wrong?" (That was when I was 8 years old) Later, it was, "How can 'x' equal anything? A letter is not a number! An 'x' is an 'x.' I'm not doing Algebra. I hate Mathematics." My poor parents.

So, as we are checking out her video, Ham notices an unusual-looking coffee cup on the librarian's desk. Unprompted, she looks over at it and says, "That's coffee. I know what that is. But why is there no handle on that cup?" I look at it and notice the inside is a green enamel, like the old depression-Era green. On the outside, it's stainless steel.

Any guesses?

The point is, the librarian explained to us that her father had passed away at 93 years old and left her this special cup. Ham asked why he had died. The librarian said he was sick and old. I watched her to see how she'd react to that, and Ham seemed to take it in stride.

Once we walked outside, however, she wanted a recap.
"Her daddy died?"
"Yes, honey."
"Why?"
"She said he was sick and he was old. God gives us these bodies and one day, our bodies get old and we leave them here, we die, and our new bodies go to Heaven."
"Our new bodies? How do they get to Heaven?"

Hmmmm. OK. At this point, I stop and wonder if this is supposed to be a theological discussion or just a matter of geography. I decide to approach the theological side...because honestly, I can't even describe where Heaven IS. How do you explain a fourth dimension or a parallel universe? And I don't even know that those explanations are accurate.

"When your body dies, and you believe in Jesus, you go to Heaven."

No such luck. She wanted the geographical answer...

"But where is Heaven?"
"Well, Heaven is beyond the sky. Beyond the stars, even."
"So, how do we get there? Do you have to have a parachute?" (Brilliant baby girl)
"No, not even a parachute will get you there. We have to have our new bodies to get there."

At this point, she's crawling up into the car and getting in her car seat. She looks down at her Baby Dance video, and very thoughtfully asks, "Why do babies wear diapers?"

FINALLY, a question I can answer with confidence and brilliance!

"So their poop doesn't fall on the floor."

By the time I got in my seat and was buckling in, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Ham starting to giggle uncontrollably. We giggled all the way home about it.

I love being a mom. 

Answer to what kind of 'cup' Ham discovered:


Vintage Stanley Thermos


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Peter Pan

Oh, let the imagination fly! My Sophie Anabelle has fully discovered Disney movies. Not all of them. It only took one, actually. 
Peter Pan (Pee-tah)

Apparently, Sophie had the pleasure of watching Peter Pan over at her Memaw's and Papaw's house not long ago. Since then, she is obsessed. OB-SESSED. She runs around sporting a British accent (a very good one, I might add) looking for Peter (Pee-tah).

 My dear 3 1/2 year-old went from playing "Ressurection" (complete with her reclining across two chairs as the 'tomb' and asking someone to roll away the stone to see if she's risen) to running around calling, "Peee-tah. Where are you Peee-tah! Come back! I love you, Pee-tah." Oh. D-d-d-d-d-dear.

Of course, I have to admit that she makes the perfect Wendy. Complete with a soft-spoken accent, calling Tommy "George" or "Faah-tha" and me "Mother." She's dainty enough and girlie and well....flitty...enough to also make a good Tinkerbell, but she lacks the raging jealousy.

Besides, she looks a bit like Wendy, anyway. Don't you think?






Thursday, March 10, 2011

Paper Dolls and other activities



Playing Paddy Cake
 I had a wonderful time with Sophie today. I got up early so that I could get ready while Lily was still sleeping. (I am finding that I MUST begin appreciating mornings now that I'm living the life of a single mother.)

These are glorious times. I love being a mommy. Tuesdays and Thursdays are precious to me. I get to watch my three-year-old play make-believe, love on her, chase her, take walks with her and see how much she loves being around Lily.

She and Lily are so cute together. Lily already adores her big sister and has a ready grin on her face when Sophie talks to her. Sophie, however, can also make Lily cry like no one else. Sophie doesn't mean to do it, but sometimes she is just overcome with the need to act like a tiger, bear, lion or some other creature that growls really loudly. When she does this in Lily's presence, usually in Lily's face, Lily immediately drops her bottom lip as low as it can go and lets out a pitiful cry. (Sometimes, I wonder if Sophie inwardly enjoys the impression she makes. I mean, WOW! What a reaction Lily gives to that scary growl!)

At this point, Tommy and I try not to laugh too much at Sophie's back-tracking, "Lily, Lily, it's OK, it's just me. It's me, big sister!" or poor Lily's astonishment. (We usually fail pretty miserably.) These are good times. Times it feels like it's supposed to...like a family.

Today, I embarked on a new activity with Sophie as Tommy worked his magic by getting Lily to sleep.

I made some paper dolls for her...












You see, right now, Sophie is really into using sissors to cut paper and create pictures by pasting the pieces on black paper. (I have acquired quite a bit of scrapbooking paper and it makes for wonderful art.) As I was cutting out flowers and whatnot for her to paste, I began creating little people. After I had cut out a momma, daddy, brother and sister, they needed clothes, of course. Hats, shirts, pants, you know. Then I cut out a dog and Sophie insisted that it needed to be on a leash.

Once I was done, Sophie was off in the World of Pretend.

This was such a joy to me! It was a simple and pleasureable thing to do for her and I was taken aback when, after completing the family, Sophie looked up at me with genuine gratitude and said, "Thank you, Mommy." Such a good girl, she is!

What a priceless thing to share with her!











After a wonderful day, I went back to my house with Lily (always a sad time that requires much reflection, praying and occassionally, provokes some tears) and laid her down for a nap. I was not only given a special little gem like Sophie, but I have been blessed with TWO tiny treasures.

When Lily woke up from her nap, I walked in to see her peeking up over the side of her bassinet, looking for me. I laughed and ran to get my sister who rejoiced with me at the cuteness of it.
This sweetness is enough. I know God's love in these times.

Friday, March 4, 2011

It'll be so boring without it!

Typical scenario at my sister's house (Leaving for church):
Aria (5 yrs old) comes running in as my sister is trying to haul her 9 mos. old out the door.
Aria says, "I need to get something."
(Her target: My sister's lipstick.)
My sister, "You are not taking my lipstick to church. You already lost my lip liner."
Aria, "But Momma, it will be so boring without it!" (Starting to cry.)
My sister, "It'll be boring without it?"
(Aria's beginning to cry pretty hard. I begin to chuckle pretty loudly in the other room.)
My sister to Aria, "I said, 'No.' Now go get in the car."
(Turns her voice toward me, "Don't you laugh! Your day is coming!")
Oh man. I keep forgetting....

      ARIA                    MY  SOPHIE
aria

Oh. My. Gracious.