Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ripple Effects

Today I made our second grocery store trip of the pay period. Its the trip I detest because we are already out of everything, but can only buy the essentials without busting up our budget. I felt Dave Ramsey perched on my shoulder like Blackbeard's parrot eyeing my every selection. "Cubed cheese?," he chided. "CUBED CHEESE? Buy the 8 oz chunk and hack it up yourself, you lazy over-spender!" He carried on like this the whole time... it was terribly exhausting.

At the register I loaded up our stuff on the conveyor belt, keeping an item or two aside for emergency re-shelving in case I underestimated the total. A friend of mine got in line behind me and we chatted for a minute while we waited, though I was distracted by the increasing total on the register. When the checker finished I went for the scanner with my trusty debit card. Suddenly, I heard a "Wait, Don't run that!" from my friend. I looked up thinking I was mistakenly overcharged or something, but instead she gave the checker her card.

Girls, she bought my groceries. All of them.

"You don't have to do that!" I said, but I could see by her smile that it was a pleasure. I couldn't help it. I started crying right there in line at Super Target. THEN, the cashier started crying. I mean really, who goes to Super Target to be nice? I thanked my friend profusely and got all of our stuff in the car.

I was so stinkin' blessed, I had to call a few friends and tell them. Since I am usually complaining after I go to Super Target, it was a refreshing break for them. I dialed and talked all the way home. Here is the cool part: Everyone I told was inspired to do the same thing for someone else. I am getting chills just writing about it.

So, today, because of the overflow of love in one woman's heart, the ripple effects of blessing are as follows:

My boys
My mom
3 different friends (so far)
Unknown number of people who will soon be similarly blessed by those named above

And of course... you.

That is a huge return for a simple act of generosity. So, what could you do with $93.86?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Peach Fries

Not exactly Jessica Seinfeld, but who has the time to puree a gallon of steamed zucchini?

And... that's gross.

I sliced up the poor peach into unrecognizable strips. Sorry peach, you were beautiful the way you were, just inedible to a three-year-old. I stuck the strips in a plate compartment along side strawberry yogurt, because "dip" is half the battle.

I demonstrated.

"See! Mommy loves peach fries. Yum-yum!!" I overemphasized the deliciousness like the desperate idiot I have become.

He picked up the peach fry skeptically. He took a bite. He chewed as if it were a poop from the cat box. I smiled encouragingly, though inside I wanted to jam it down his picky little throat.

He winced. He whimpered. He pointed at the sink. I shook my head "no" and hoped he couldn't really muster up a barf.

Then... he swallowed it.

I. Am. Not. Kidding.

Peach fries. The ridiculously improved sequel of the peach.

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Prayers

God knows I love my boys.

I love my boys with painfully passionate longing.

I love them so much, in fact, that I find it hard to trust them to God. "God", I say, "Here they are, the very marrow from my bones, the very beat of my heart, the very best of me. I lift them up to You to protect and nurture because you can do it better then me." Then I don't lift them up because my hands are white knuckling their small, vulnerable shoulders and I just can't let go.

Someone told me once that when I feel the need to protect my kids, it is good to pray a special prayer for them instead. So, as I tuck them into bed at night I ask God to give them STRENGTH and give them WISDOM. Not to shield them from any harm or obstacle, but for the tools to overcome it.

How do you pray for your most sacred treasure?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dental Work

You should try it some time. Its really fun. I got some this morning and I was all like that was awesome right after my dentist made a porthole in my tooth deep enough to catch the men's water polo semi-final in Beijing. I'm just kidding. About it being awesome that is... I think he really did drill to China.

I made a preemptive strike this appointment. Normally I hide the whining, gagging, nauseous flincher that is me in lieu of what I want to be, which is tough. I have had enough dental work over the last few weeks that I suddenly don't care if the entire office staff groans when I whimper through their doors -- in fact, I own it. Yes, sweet dental hygienist I am "the one" who requires 8 pain shots plus several boosters throughout the procedure I smile confidently. Yes, I do want the happy gas, no, that is not too much.

By the time my dentist lowers his archaeological equipment into my mouth I can barely tell you my name. I tap my foot jauntily to the instrumental worship ballads as if it were Abba Gold. The room is spinning a little...no problem... this is probably what it felt like at Woodstock. Yes, Woodstock was a place of infinite love. I like love. I can handle love.

Okay, the room is really spinning and I feel like I'm losing consciousness. I open my eyes, which I didn't know were closed. A bright light that says Pelton and Crane in slanty cursive is two feet from my ever-loving face. Focus, focus. The talking I hear is warbled and unintelligible. Oh no! He's drilling a hole to China in my tooth and he is high on happy gas and lidocaine!

No, I am the only one high I say to me. I am nauseous. It takes all of my energy to not throw up all over the blue bib on my chest. Honey I am still free... Take a chance on me... I hear, but sung to the tune of Jesus Loves Me, elevator style. I tap my foot. I train my eyes on Pelton and Crane and think about the irony of advertising your company name in the face of a suffering, tortured captive. I think about love, Woodstock style. Andi, that is enough you are a pastor's wife.

Okay, all done he says after forever. I blink myself back to reality. I make intelligent small talk with the half of my mouth I can feel. The looks I get tell me there is nothing intelligent about anything I say, so I close my mouth. The half I can move, anyway.

There is no tidy conclusion to this story -- I am still a little loopy people. Maybe I should just give thanks to my dental office for pretending I am really no bother and never sighing or eye rolling to my face. For this I will forever choose your clinic over any other and any time you want to see the Olympic competition live, you are welcome to peek into my mouth. Tooth number eighteen.


Friday, August 8, 2008

My Son Is Not a Brat

Sometimes I find myself wandering around my life muttering this like a self-confidence mantra. Then I wonder, why, oh why is it necessary to tell yourself something is true every six minutes?

Self, don't answer that question.

Our good friends drop by just as Toby is waking up from nap. I hear him in his room grunting hung-over-and-starving-lion noises while we make distracted chatter in the doorway.

"I will get him up for you" the helpful husband-friend offers.

Actually, he is recovering from leprosy and a rare yet highly contagious strand of tuberculosis I should say before the man opens the protective barrier of Toby's door and unleashes the wild beast on the world.

"I don't know what's gotten into him. He never acts like this," I say with no conviction.

And then there are his "injuries". No real damage is required, but noise and flailing are non-negotiable. Even Charlie questions the necessity of this display. He watches Toby with a look that says why are you so weird? But Charlie will bleed all over the train table sans acknowledgement, so he isn't the best judge.

Toby's inspiration:
His Brother
The word "no"
Dead batteries
Holes in socks

Its not an exhaustive list. I mean, at the moment he is crying because his toast tore when he picked it up. Seriously.

I don't know how I turned a perfectly sublime infant into a yammering thespian. I'm sure it had to do with coddling, boo-boo kissing, and unflinching devotion. I can't really help myself.

Today I offer an apology to every mother I secretly blamed for her child's behavior. Moms, I exonerate you completely and hope you feel satisfaction knowing that I do, in fact, have an unruly pre-schooler, so your wish came true.

Those of you who have one too, the following is a list of excuses to deflect the angst of society. No one really believes them, but they are good one-liners to toss over your shoulder as you carry the screaming banshee to a private location.

He's running a fever (press cheek to forehead).
He missed lunch (dig in purse for crackers).
He's teething (only works early on)
Its nap time. (check watch regretfully)
He's one.
He's two.
He's three.

I could think up more but someones trains just derailed... any one else have an idea?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I have it lately. Maybe its my kids. Maybe its an immunization to caffeine from my increasing daily intake.

Maybe its five o' clock runs catching me in the middle of the day as I lay next to Toby looking at books before nap. I cheerfully narrate The Little Engine That Could, squeaking or bellowing each character's voice like good moms do. Then somehow, on our way up the mountain with all of the toys and cookies for the children of the village, Little Engine begins to chant I think I can I think I can until the words melt into a breathy slur.

This afternoon I made it through This Train, Freight Trains, and The Bear Detectives before my head lolled over onto Toby's choo-choo pillowcase muttering about "resting eyes". When Greg came home unannounced I felt like my hand was guiltily digging in the candy jar instead of rescuing the living room from Fisher-Price besiegement.

Staying home with my kids is the best thing I have ever done. But with all the tenderness and satisfaction I feel every time my lips rest on their puffy little cheeks, there is sometimes a haze of monotony draping its weary veil over me and threatening to suck it all back out. Everything I accomplish is methodically undone before I even acknowledge the success.

I fixed the boys lunch today. We stepped on the exasperatingly dull hamster wheel of meal selection. Our wheel only divides into thirds due to the most unadventurous palate God ever knitted in a mother's womb.

It is always the same. Always.

Should we have sandwiches? Nuggets? Fish Sticks? Fish sticks you say?... Great choice. I bake them. I blow on them. I plunk them in the big compartment of the Veggie Tales plate. I squish a sludgy dollop of ketchup into the smaller one. I chop up the tiniest piece of fruit and place it hopefully over Larry's green cucumber nose. Then I cut two fish sticks into a dozen and a half pieces for Charlie's high chair tray.

Today I offered Toby a trip to our prize box for eating the shard of peach.

He said, " I wanna go to the pwize box."
I said, "Eat your peach."
He said, "No."
I said, "Then no prize box."
He said "I wanna go to the pwize box."
I said, "Eat your peach."
He said, "I was talking to my chair." Then he walked around the kitchen saying "I want to go the pwize box" over and over to the patio door, the dog, the fridge.

He did not, however, eat the peach.

I thought about burying my head in the couch pillows. It is peaceful in there if you can ignore the grains of crunched up cheerio. I could catch a few winks while the boys whine and tug at my legs, and laundry goes sour in the washing machine, and chaos blows over our house in a dizzy wind.

I picked up the tiny shard of peach from Toby's abandoned plate and offered it to Charlie. He let me lay it right on his ever-loving tongue. Did he gag? Did he shudder? Did he grab his throat and drop to the floor? No, he did not. He flashed me a wide, toothless grin.

I made another latte.