About Me

I am a proud wife and mother, and a born again Christian. I work from home as a writer while taking care of Miss N, our six-year-old, Miss M, our four-year-old and Miss C, our newest bundle of joy. Life is crazy but so much fun!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Like Mother, Like Daughter?

When I was a little girl, I loved summer.

I remember making habitats for rolly pollies (pill bugs) in the cracks in my grandparents' patio. I remember digging for hours in the ant hill behind my house looking for the queen aunt with Jessica, the little girl across the street. I wanted a real, working ant farm, and was so disappointed that the ants I got with the kit did not include a queen. We were going to start a "bug club" with the other neighborhood children, just like it said in my library book.
I remember my thrill when we found our first caterpillar, Natalie and me, last summer. We watched it for a while.

This little girl, my beautiful, growing up way to fast daughter:
She is nothing like me. Well she is like me in many, many ways, but not when it comes to the creepie crawlies.

We found a couple of fireflies yesterday on a walk. I caught one and told her that she could hold it if she wanted.

Her response?

"No thank you, I'm never ever ever ever ever going to touch a buggie. Never ever."

Sometimes raising a true girlie girl is interesting, to say the least.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Feed Me Books - Feed Me Kisses!

This video shows one of Miss M's favorite books, Counting Kisses by Karen Katz. I'm not a huge fan of counting books, even though I know that they are developmentally helpful, but I do very much enjoy interacting with my baby. She usually melts into fits of giggling by the end of the book. That didn't quite happen here, but you can see how much fun we are having. This is my first vlog. I decided to get over my insecurities, because this book is best seen read. I'm not the best vlogger, I don't have editing software, and I didn't take the time to add a bunch of makeup, so here we are as we always are in the Harms Household.

This post is part of Feed Me Books Friday at The Adventure of Motherhood. To learn more, click the link below:


To do Therapy, Or Not to Do Therapy

Megan had a hearing test yesterday. She passed. I’ve been concerned with her hearing because of her many ear infections as a baby and her poor speech.

Natalie was a slow talker. I had her evaluated by the early intervention program at Miss M’s age and she would have qualified had she not been a preemie. Now, she talks like she’s sixteen. Miss M qualifies for speech therapy because she wasn’t a preemie.

I am having a hard time figuring out what to do. Part of my heart tells me she’s fine and just a slow bloomer like N. But part of me has some very real concerns. There are certain sounds that she just doesn’t make, and she’s made up words for some words. Instead of saying wa-wa for water, she says “ung.” That doesn’t sound like water, nor use any of the sounds in the word water. There are other words, but that’s the most obvious.

Her teachers at Mom’s Day Out have expressed concern. She is picking up a lot of new words this month and starting to put together even three-word sentences, but all of those words are within the same syllable sets.

I need to call the case worker for the speech therapy program. I was honestly hoping they’d find a hearing deficiency so I could justify the therapy. I don’t want to waste time on it if she doesn’t need it, but I don’t want her to struggle.

I have spoken with moms who did therapy with their kids, and they all swear it was the best thing ever. I have spoken to moms who had slow talkers who are fine now. They don’t see the reason for it.

I don’t know what to do!

I sort of want to give it six months and see where she’s at, but there is a shortage of speech therapists in IL and the program runs out at age three. If I wait six months and she’s still struggling, we may not be able to get help. The process takes a long time – they have to do the evaluation, which you have to wait for, then they have to get you on a list until a therapist is available.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My World Changes Forever - First Grade

Hello! I'm participating in a fun project called Mommy's Piggy Tales, where we record our youth in 15 posts. This is post three. You can read Post 1 Here and Post 2 Here. For more information, click the button at the bottom of the post.
(Cabbage Patch TWINS with one that HELD A CRAYON - Can you tell how excited I was? I still have these dolls. . .)

I don’t remember much about first grade. Trying to think of a highlight was difficult. Let’s see. . .
The end of kindergarten, beginning of first grade marked a huge upset to my little only child, mostly only grandchild world. See, when I was 5 ½ (I turned 5 in the January of my kindergarten year), my brother, Joey, was born. I remember little about my mom’s pregnancy and the birth of my brother. I do remember people asking me what I wanted the baby to be, and I answered, “I don’t care, as long as it is healthy.” I think I must have heard my mom saying something similar. But, secretly, I wanted a sister. Someone to play ponies and Barbies with. Instead, I got a brother who wanted to play ponies and Barbies by ripping out their tails and pulling off their heads. Honestly, I wasn’t all that gracious about sharing the limelight with this little bundle. My true selfish nature showed through marvelously in those early years as a sibling. Now, I am thankful for the godly man my brother has grown into, but then, I think I would have preferred life as an only child.
When Joey was about to be born (which I guess technically happened in kindergarten), my parents decided to ease the “blow” of adding a sibling by getting me a puppy. Looking back on that, I think my mom was CRAZY! She was about to have a brand new baby, and she wanted to add a puppy to the mix? A puppy, mind you, that would have to be potty trained! But, we did live in California, so the puppy could stay primarily outside. Maybe that was her reasoning.

Regardless, I remember distinctly going to the kennel or pound (not sure which) and choosing my very own puppy. There were only a few enclosures that had actual puppies. I chose a golden colored one that looked much like a German shepherd pup. We were assured because of her coloring and the size of her paws that she would be big. I named her Rachel. My parents said I could not name her Rachel. We had just seen Lady and the Tramp, so she was renamed Lady at my mother’s suggestion. Interestingly, I had numerous people as me over the years, “Is Lady a boy or a girl?” Really?

Lady was my companion throughout my growing up years. I remember waiting breathlessly after a cross-country flight to see if she made it through safely. I remember snuggling with her after nightmares. I remember tying her to the front of my bike to pull me faster (which mom quickly put an end to). Those huge paws and shepherd like coloring turned into a small dog, about the size of a small Beagle, with huge paws and unique, black and brown coloring. I know there is a picture of me and Lady floating around somewhere, but I don’t have one.

Here is a picture of her and me with some friends when we were a little older. Lady died when I was in college, after living a very long, mostly healthy life. She is most of the reason why, in spite of the hair and messes, I am passionate about having a dog while my kids are young.
(Don't you love that couch - we had it FOREVER! So ugly! But it must have been in fashion at some point! I'm in the purple sweatsuit outfit staring at the TV, not the camera. Not sure the occasion for this picture, but it's the only one I have here of Lady.)

First grade was also my last full year living in California. We had so much fun, visiting Yosemite National Park, taking trips to Disneyland, spending weekends at Marine World. Every weekend we went out as a family to see some sight or go to some event. While I am thankful for God’s hand in moving us along to a new location, I still think being a young child in California was a lot of fun.
Want to hear more women's stories or participate in the next round? Click the link below to find out more!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lacking Discipline

Why do I lack discipline?

I need to lose weight. I’ve been REALLY (really) good about running at least three times a week, and for me that’s HUGE, but it’s not really translating into weight loss, and I find that discouraging. Total, I’ve lost three pounds since I started running. But, when it comes to food, I simply can’t seem to be disciplined. It’s not that I sit and pig out all of the time. But, the foods I do eat are not the healthiest. I never dreamed in my life I would be as heavy as I am, but alas, here it is. I am tired of hating the way I look. I am tired of not being able to find clothes that don’t make me look like a moose. I am tired of being overweight. I am tired of my four year old asking me if there is a baby in my tummy (there’s not, for the record). Yet, all of this being tired doesn’t stop me from picking up the junk food or downing a pop.

I need to get our family back on a budget. Preschool is starting in just a couple of months, and I need to figure out how we will pay for it. I need to stop the financial bleeding and get us out of debt. Yet, when it comes right down to sitting down, planning, and implementing a budget, I never seem to find the time or energy to do it.

Why am I so undisciplined?

Anyone been where I am and figured out how to kick it into gear?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Preschool: Life Changing Years

I have been thinking since last week about what to write when it comes to preschool. I am participating in a fun project put on by my friend Janna at Mommy's Piggy Tales. Check it out!

There are so many options.

I could write about my imaginary friend, Polk-a-Roo, who I was actually a little afraid of.

I could write about losing my favorite My-Little-Pony, Firefly, in the sandbox when some mean boys buried it at preschool.

I could write about my only child, only grandchild years before my brother came along.

I could write about my first “best friend,” the girl across the street (Klaire), who I sobbed over when it was time to move away.

I could write about all of those things, but the truth is my preschool years are some of the most important of my life.See, my parents wanted me to be a “good person.” To reach that goal, they started going to church.

Not long after they started attending church, something happened that would change the course of my life forever.My parents, through the preaching of God’s word, came to realize that they were sinners. See, Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

They also realized that sin was a problem, for Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” Yet, the second part of that verse says, “But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

They accepted what Romans 5:8 says, “But god commendeth (showed) His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

But Christ didn’t stay dead. Because he was God, He took our sins on Him, died on the cross to pay the punishment for them, and then rose from the grave in victory. They chose to accept the gift of atonement from sin and allow His blood to cover their sins, taking that gift of eternal life.

Here is a picture of the tree they saw on a family drive the day they both came to the realization that this was a decision they needed to make. Providentially, they saw what appeared to be a man walking carrying a cross that day. Could it have been an angel? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was just a coincidence that they came upon a reenactment or even something completely different than what they thought they saw. I don’t know, but I do know that God used that image to speak to their hearts.

But that was not the only decision made during my preschool years. Not long after my parents accepted salvation, we were having family prayer time. I wanted my parents to approve of me, and I had learned much in our new church, so I prayed, “Dear God, forgive my sins and come into my heart.” My parents were thrilled.

Yet, I knew something wasn’t right. I prayed that little prayer to please my mom and dad. Probably a year later I was playing in my room around the age of four or five. Suddenly, I became fully aware that the “decision” I had made had nothing to do with me, it was all about my desire to please them. In tears I went to my mom and told her that I needed to be saved, that I had prayed earlier to please them, not because I wanted Christ in my life. She called my dad, and over the phone I prayed to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior.

Perhaps you are reading this skeptically. After all, it is easy to get a small child to do or say something. I know that all too well. I could coax my own four-year-old to pray a prayer that means nothing to her.

I have heard it said that the power of the Gospel is its ability to change a life, that you see true conversion by changed lives. Yet, at four or five years old, what did I really have to change? I hadn’t committed any heinous sins!

Not long after that time, overwhelmed with guilt, I took a small horse to my mom. I had told her that I won that horse at preschool for being good, but the truth was that I had stolen it. With the Holy Spirit now part of my life, I had a desire to make that right. I begged her to take it back to the school (which I no longer attended). I’m not sure if she ever did, but I felt right by being honest.

That decision, to accept salvation, has molded who I am as a person and a mom. My highest desire now is to see my own children come to that realization. Yet, I do not want to push them so they make a false prayer. It needs to be their decision drawn from the moving of the Holy Spirit within their own hearts.

Dear reader, if you have read this far in my story, thank you. Even if you do not share my beliefs, I appreciate you taking the time to read them and better understand me as a person. To my girls who may read this some day, I pray continually that you will join me on this journey of the Christian life, so we may all praise God face to face someday in heaven.

If you are interested in joining in on the fun and reading about other wonderful women, visit Mommy's Piggy Tales. Just click the link below.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Handling Disappointment

(Pictures were taken by Dan Moore of Dan Moore Designs)

Disappointment. It’s something we all regularly face, yet never quite learn to like.

Today, I had the opportunity to ponder how to teach my oldest about disappointment.

Our church is running Vacation Bible School. Part of the program involves kids getting tickets for good behavior. While Miss N was not behaving badly, she did not get chosen today for a ticket. It’s just the way these things go sometimes. Children also earn prizes for bringing visitors, but since the program is technically open to those leaving kindergarten, and our friends are all in preschool, that won’t work either.

At the end of the session when the children who earned tickets were lining up for prizes, I could see the tears starting. Miss N LOVES candy and stuffed animals, which were the main prizes being offered. Being only four, she really didn’t understand why just some of the kids got candy.

(Dan Moore Designs)

Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to handle her tears. She wasn’t having a fit, but she was truly sad. I hurt for her, because I know it is a hard lesson to learn. I remember one time when I was little like her, and my parents were helping in the Junior Church program at our church. My mom’s job was to pick the “quiet seat” child. I tried so hard to be good, but of course she couldn’t pick me, her own kid. Afterwards when I was crying, she took me to the store to buy something because I had been good.

I wasn’t sure what to do for Miss N. While I don’t think my mom was wrong to buy me a toy in that instance, I also don’t want to start a precident. After all, N is usually very well behaved in classes and at church things, and she won’t always get the “quiet seat” prize. I can’t be buying her candy or toys every time someone else gets a reward.

I resisted the urge to get her a candy on the way home, although I wanted to. I just let her cry, and calmly explained she could have another opportunity to earn a ticket the following day. I also assured her that I did see that she was being a good girl, and that she needed to try to be a good girl again tomorrow. After she was fed and no longer crying, I explained how the program worked and what she could expect. I should have done that beforehand. It just didn’t occur to me.

Maybe I will pray tonight that she gets noticed tomorrow. :)

So, mommies, how do you teach a preschooler to handle disappointment? It’s not a skill I have fully mastered as a grown up, so how can I expect my very young child to master it? Perhaps her response was fine and just letting her cry for a bit out of disappointment was the right answer. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Story Begins

I am participating in a really fun project that is the brainchild of my friend Janna, who regularly blogs at The Adventure of Motherhood. Her project, entitled Mommy's Piggy Tales, encourages moms to blog about their childhood in 15 weeks. Here is the button if you want to learn more or consider joining.

My dad, my mom, and me. My daughter, N, has that quilt now.

Every year for Christmas my brother and I received our very own holiday ornament. Starting with the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament, these ornaments usually reflected something we accomplished or did during the soon-to-be-past year. For example, the year I got my driver’s license, my ornament was Daffy Duck in a shiny new car.

Every year we enjoyed putting “our” ornaments on the tree. It was a wonderful time to reflect back over our lives and the memories we had made. Sometimes we asked the reason behind the ornament, and learned a little more about our histories.

When I married, I got a box with my ornaments in it to start my very own tree. As we were packing up the ornaments for me to take to my new home as a new bride, I came across one of my favorites. The ornament was one I remembered from early in my childhood, and one I always enjoyed gazing at as we decorating the tree. It had a little boy gazing out of a window pointing up to the sky. In the window he saw Santa coming down from a start to alight on his rooftop. The ornament was titled something like “Waiting for Santa.” I loved it because it was a glass (well, plastic) ornament with this little scene in 3D inside.

I happened to ask my mom about that ornament, since it was one of the only ornaments she kept that had Santa on it. We sort of weeded out our Santas over time as the true meaning of Christmas became more and more relevant to our family.

For the Christmas of 1980, my mom was very (very) pregnant with me. In fact, the doctor told that he was going out of town for the holidays, but that wasn’t a problem because she would be having a baby before Christmas, even though my due date was 12/29/1980. She dutifully bought a Baby’s First Christmas ornament for 1980.

As she counted down with her advent calendar, I continued to wait to make my appearance. My mom says that I had completely dropped and she was 100 percent effaced all through the holidays. She says she had so much pressure she thought I was going to fall out if she didn’t hold her belly up! Christmas came and went, but no baby. So, the day after Christmas, or sometime afterward, my parents took back the Baby’s First Christmas ornament, and in its place they purchased the Waiting for Santa ornament. It was fitting, as they spent the entire Christmas season waiting for my arrival.

New Years came and went as well. Six weeks after the doctors told her I would come any day (yes SIX WEEKS ladies!) my parents were watching football with friends on playoff Sunday. They returned in the evening to fix dinner. My mom sneezed and she felt a small amount of moisture. Not sure what it was, they did decide to go to the hospital. She says that a cardiac nurse got called to the OB ward, so it took a while for the inexperienced nurse to decide that yes, indeed, her water had broken. Due to an outstanding health condition that could have been passed on to me, I was born via c-section at 8:15 p.m.

Today I think that’s crazy – they let her go two weeks past her due date and six weeks past when they thought I would come, only to have a c-section! Why not schedule the c-section and be done with it (although I must say I am sort of glad I am not a Christmas baby).

So arrive I finally did, on January 11, 1981. So this coming year I will turn 30! My parents named me Nicole Aretta. Aretta, my middle name, is a family name. It’s also my grandmother’s middle name, and my hope is that if Natalie has a daughter, she will pass on the name too, giving it an every-other-generation tradition.

After spending six weeks smooshed up against my mother’s pubic bone, I wasn’t the prettiest baby in the maternity ward. I was rather bruised and squished, to be honest. I remember my dad telling me once, “When they brought you to me, you were all squished and bruised, but I didn’t care. You were the most beautiful baby in the entire world.” I don’t remember the context of that conversation, but now that I am a mom I understand. No matter what, my children are the most attractive children to me, and I think they always will be, junior high acne years and all.

Tomorrow I will post her words so that I have them recorded. Thanks mom!

The other crazy part about my birth story is the lack of pictures of me as a newborn. The only one we have is a horrible, overexposed shot of me in an incubator (jaundice) under the lights. So the pictures posted here are a few months of age. If you know my mom, you know how crazy it is that they didn't even own a camera when their first child was born!

How Is This Appropriate

I'm mad.

And a simple Facebook status update is not sufficient.

Today we went to the park for Natalie's YMCA sports class. A grand time was had by all of the preschoolers. It's really a great program. Next to the field where they play is a playground. On the playground a daycamp was playing.

When we were done with class, we headed over to the playground, as is our ritual for this class. While Natalie was swinging, I watched a boy, maybe nine or ten, lay down on the ground. A girl around the same age kneeled next to him and gave him quite a nice, long back massage (they were still at it when we left). Another boy saw this and ordered a girl near him to do the same.

Ok, I am a bit old-fashioned when it comes to boy-girl interactions. I went to a college where we had the "six-inch" rule between dating couples, and I remember chanting "No PC at TC" all the time in High School (you will only understand that if you went to my high school, and no, I'm not going to explain).

But how in the WORLD is this appropriate????? Even if I though that lots of touchy-feely is appropriate among high school dating couples, these were KIDS! The teachers just sat by and laughed (the teachers were a bit too busy flirting among themselves actually).

Alright, moms, what do you think? Should nine and ten year olds be coupling off and giving each other long back massages? Am I off my rocker? It seemed COMPLETELY inappropriate to me. Completely. Ugh.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Blogosphere and Mommy Guilt

EDITED TO ADD: I just want to say that this post is not about other bloggers, it's about me. While some bloggers I've read do seem to put on a front, a friend graciously reminded me that most are just moms like me doing the best they can. This post is intended to be a reflection on what the blogosphere does to me as a mom by amplifying the inadequacies I already feel. It's not bloggers' faults, it's the nature of the media, and perhaps my own personal problem. I feel the same way reading some mom's Facebook posts and twitters (when I used to do Twitter). Upon re-reading my post for the umpteenth time, I realize i might have come across wrong. For instance, I have no problem with blogging conventions, minimal problems with Twitter, and those who attend/use those venues. If a professional blogger read this and felt offended, please forgive me. I have much respect what you do, even if sometimes I wish I could see on your blog a messy house or tantrum-throwing toddler, just so I could know that my house is pseudo-normal. For those who do post those pictures. THANK YOU! From a normal, struggling mommy, it really does help me. This post was primarily about me and what the blogosphere does to my emotions. I guess I got a little emotional partway through.

Mommy guilt. Maybe it’s as age-old as motherhood itself. Sometimes I envision Adam and Eve’s great, great, great granddaughters sitting around the watering hole washing their laundry and having this conversation:

Mommy 1: Look at this garment I made for Little Adam Junior. It only took five days to complete. I hiked to the tallest mountain to find the palm leaves for the little sleeves.

Mommy 2: It’s just darling. Look at Eve Junior’s dress here. I spent a whole week on it. It took even longer because Daddy had to travel past the Red Sea to get the hide for the bottoms.

Mommy 3: Those are both great. I know I don’t have time to sew garments like that because my kids are so busy helping me cook these healthy, organic, trans-fat free meals that taste like something from a five-star restaurant. And look, here’s a step by step guide with photos of how we made it, and notice there are no crumbs, spills, or strangled children in the picture!

No? You don't think it went like that? Ok, maybe the conversation wasn’t quite like that, but I do imagine that “Mommy Guilt,” that feeling of inadequacy when faced with the doings of other mommies, is not a new thing.

But, I do think the blogosphere amplifies it.

When I started this blog, it was simply a place, pre-Facebook days, to stick pictures and quick stories for my extended family who live all over creation. In most ways that’s still what it is. I simply don’t have time or the desire to be “a blogger.” Blogging conventions? No way. Spending hours following people, twittering away my life, and growing my follower’s list? Not for me. I’m happy with my little blog that gives me a place to write down memories that I am forgetting so quickly.

The “blogosphere,” however, is an interesting phenomenon. I spend a fair deal of time online, and I have several high school and college friends whose blogs I read to see how their kids are growing. From time to time stumble across blogs of other mommies that I don’t know. This is where it gets scarry.

See, a mom who runs a blog for money has to have constant posts, and it seems some of these mommies make it appear they have it all figured out. Sure, they talk about “keeping it real,” but they don’t post pictures of themselves at the end of the day when they’ve dealt with an almost two-year-old refusing to wear a diaper while a four year old sobbed “mommy she’s screaming too loud nad it’s hurting my ears!” They don’t post pictures of the post-tornado scene that is their house while they sit and blog. No, they make it look like everything is hunky-dorey in their little online world.

How quickly can they pour on the Mommy Guilt! One post talking about “Why I Homeschool” on a particularly “big” mom’s blog made me feel like dirt because I don’t want or have the ability to home school right now. She went on and on about “I just really like my kids and want to be with them,” and “life is already all about learning so why do we need to send them away to learn?” So, therefore, those of us who do NOT want to have our kids home with us must not “really like our kids.” I know that’s not what she meant, but that’s how I felt after reading it. I honestly cried.

Other moms do this “Tot School” thing. It’s basically a very structured homeschool (for not long periods of the day, but still planned and structured) for toddlers and preschoolers. They talk about “pincher grasp,” and other fine motor skills, and all of this stuff I learned in college.

We don’t do “Tot School.” We don’t do any type of structured learning. We’re just a mom and her two kids doing the best we can to love each other, enjoy the world God created, and carve out enough time for mom to make money to pay the bills.

Sometimes all it takes is, oh, five minutes of reading some stranger’s blog to feel like the worst mom in the world. My house is a mess. (For the record while I type this it’s not, so I’m not wasting cleaning time right now, just in case you wanted to know) My kids aren’t in structured “school” in my home, and next year I will send my eldest out of my home to go to preschool.

Yet, without the blogosphere, would I feel this much guilt? Probably not. Sure, I would have friends who “do it all” better than I do, but it wouldn’t be so overwhelmingly obvious how “bad” of a job I’m doing.

There is the principle found in II Corinthians 10:12, where it says, “but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” I am not these other people. I am not raising their children. I am me, and I am raising Natalie and Megan. I need to focus on what needs to happen in their little lives, in our little house, and in our little family.

So, I am contemplating swearing off mommy blogs. Yet, there is something that draws me in. Perhaps I’m just a glutton for punishment. Maybe I enjoy the mommy guilt too much? I think maybe a hiatus would be good for me. I’m still thinking though. No promises from this pseudo-blogger!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Feed Me Books: Two Library Favorites

Last month when we were in KC for an extended visit, we raided my parents' local library for some books to read. Here is one we really liked:

Princesses Are Not Quitters (Princesses Are Not...) (affiliate link) tells the story of three princesses who are bored. They see the servants, and think "They have all the fun, out there in the fresh air working." So they order the servants to change clothes with them, and they take on the role of servants for the day. Of course, being pampered princesses, they are horrible at working. But "Princesses are NOT quitters." so they plug on, in spite of missing all meals and working LATE into the night, they kept plugging on. The next day, they realize how hard the servants have it, and make a proclamation that ends up making their kingdom (or princessdom) the happiest in the land. Oh, and they learn the value of hard work.

Since we are in major princess mode with our four-year-old, this hit the spot! Good lesson learned, beautiful dresses, and a non-disney princess story (a big plus for me, because as much as I love Disney I shudder at how commercialized it has become sometimes).

Here is another I have been wanting to share for a while

A Carousel Tale (affiliate link)

A Carousel Tale tells of a little alligator who loves to ride the dog on the park carousel. When the carousel closes for the season, he finds the dog's tail on his way home. He is so sad that the dog lost his tale. The carousel worker tells him he can take care of the tail until the carousel opens in the spring. Over time, the little alligator thinks his tail is bored, and he transforms it into a beautiful bird. When the time comes to return it, he doesn't want to. He has come to love the bird. He thinks about hiding it (stealing) but in the end he does the right thing and takes it back. The carousel worker sees how much he loves it, and they come up with a solution that works for everyone.

The book is beautifully illustrated and just a sweet story. There's a great (natural) interaction between big sibling and little sibling (loving, but realistic). I liked that the alligator made the right choice even when he didn't want to.

I am participating in Feed Me Books Friday over at The Adventure of Motherhood. Click the button to join up.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Healing After Emotional Abuse

I realize I promised a series on emotional abuse, and then sort of stopped. Life got busy, and honestly I was having trouble putting my thoughts into words. I do want to finish it, even if no one is reading, so here are a few thoughts. If you are new to this discussion, start with the first post here and the second post here.

I am realizing that healing after emotional abuse is not easy. I have said a few times since this has been brought to my attention that I honestly think emotional abuse is more damaging, or at least equally damaging, as physical. I think more because the physical abuse we readily admit is wrong. Deep down many abused women may think they are provoking the abuse, but they likely know that hitting, etc. is wrong. Emotional abuse, on the other hand, is more subtle and less obvious.

Because of the deep scars that emotional abuse causes, healing is not easy. I think many assume, “Good, she is away from her abuser, she is fine now.” This is NOT true. In talking with those I love who have suffered from abuse, I am realizing that getting away is just the start of the healing process. The emotional abuse can continue through contact with the spouse, and the woman’s emotional state is quite battered. It takes tremendous support and encouragement and prayer for her to once again recognize her worth. If the spouse cut her off from any spiritual venues she loved during the marriage, it is going to be even harder.

So, if you are friends or a relative of someone who has dealt with abuse, how can you help? Honestly, I’m not sure I know all of the answers here. Each woman is going to be different in her approach to things. Here is what I think:

  • First, do not push too hard. Let her share details when she is ready. If she is willing for you to ask lots of questions, she will let you know.
  • Second, do not be afraid to ask how things are going, but only ask if you really want to know. The casual “how are you?” that we all are guilty of asking is less than helpful. She may need someone she can really open up to, so do not ask if you cannot be that person.
  • Third, do not give her advice on how to fix her marriage. Unless you have been there, you DO NOT understand what she is going through. You DO NOT understand what abuse does to someone. You DO NOT know how to tell her to be a “good wife” and “respond to her husband well” (This one gets me a little riled up but that is a whole ‘nother post.)
  • Fourth, talk about other things. Abuse is an ever-present situation, and the friend may want to talk about normal life. Are there kids/hobbies/a job? Ask how those are going. Let them talk about their non-hurting life. Do not be afraid to talk about your life, even if it is going well. The person is your friend and needs to see that life can be normal. I know for me it is sometimes hard to talk about my blessings when I know someone is hurting, but it’s OK to do so.
  • You must remind her that she did not do anything to cause the abuse. Often abused women feel like they sinned, they upset him, they did something to cause this. They must understand that the abusive nature, the problem, lies with their husband. It is a deeply rooted part of who he is as a person, and she did nothing to cause it.
  • Be willing to offer practical advice IF IT IS ASKED FOR. Do not butt in and try to run your friend’s life, but if she needs help thinking through the next step and asks you for it, then by all means, help. She will likely be facing some pretty big decisions in the immediate future after leaving her spouse, and may need a sounding board.
  • Finally, and this one is hard for me, listen to her talk about her abuser, but do not start tearing him down. She needs to know that the behavior is not normal and is not ok, but if she is praying for reconciliation, tearing down the man she wishes to reconcile with is not going to help her, and may make her shut off from you. When she tells you things that seem so crazy, it seems to be ok to mention that that is sin and that is not normal, but proceed with caution.
If she asks your advice, give it, but do not attempt to think that you know what is best for her. You might think that reconcilliation is the best option, but that requires major change on the abuser’s part, and pushing for reconciliation before it is time is opening the door to more and even more dangerous abuse. You might think that divorce or permanent separation is best, but it is not your place to tell her this. Allow her to heal at her own pace, and most imporantly, be there to listen to her.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lots of Firsts

As the parent of two children under the age of five, I'm living in the land of "firsts." First teeth, first steps, first friends, first time at the zoo. Lots of firsts.

I'm not one to sweat the firsts. If I miss one, it's sad, but not too sad. I can move on. There are so many firsts.

I do love seeing them though.
We had two firsts this week.

Miss M moved to the "big girl" bed. How different life of the second child is. With Miss N we moved her bed into her room so she could "get used to it" for a few days. Then we let her choose which one to sleep in before finally putting her in the other bed and moving the crib out. This after much deliberation as to whether or not it was "time."

Miss M, on the other hand, had little pomp or circumstance. Tim and I discussed over instant message at lunch time whether it was time after something rather unsafe happened in the crib, moved the bed up, and plopped her in it at bedtime. I wasn't even home! Here she is in her new bed:

She did great!

This week was Miss N's first sports class. I signed her up for a program for preschoolers that introduces five sports. She didn't like it at first. She told me, "I'm nervous. I don't know how to play baseball." After some cuddles, encouragement, and watching time, she finally jumped right in and had a blast. So here is Miss N playing baseball for the first time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Psalm 61:2 "From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

I know I'm not the only mom to ever feel this way.

But sometimes I feel overwhelmed.

The pressure to be perfect is tremendous. For example, today I read an article about how sunscreen probably causes cancer, but not putting on sunscreen also causes cancer, so then what is a mom supposed to do?

I have a very successful home-based business. No one ever told me that running a home-based business meant your home would be a disaster and you would be constantly tired.

In an effort to rid myself of unwanted pounds and get myself in better physical shape, I've taken up running. I love it. But it's yet another thing on my "to do" list.

This morning I read my friend Janna's blog post entitled Then Things to Remember During Responsibility Overload.

Her list is great. The last one got me thinking, though. How do you take out a rock when all of your "rocks" are necessary?

My "rocks" are:

  • Bible reading/prayer
  • Child care/nurturing/training
  • Caring for my wonderful hubby
  • Cooking, grocery shopping, couponing (so I can afford to do the shopping)
  • Cleaning and maintaining my home (failing)
  • Working my job (done during school mornings, at nap time, after bedtime)
  • Paying the bills/creating the budget (failing at this one horribly)
  • Being somewhat active in church (I feel I should do more but there's just no time!)
  • Staying physically fit through regular exercise. (done at home - no time to go to the gym, but this is an important priority right now for my level of physical fitness and health)

While in KC, my mom, the girls and I were all playing outside. My brother came out for a minute then went back in to "finish my work" (he was writing a song). Being behind on my paying work for the day and looking at a midnight bedtime, I sighed and said, "When do I get to finish my work." My mom lovingly pointed to the girls and said, "This IS your work." She was right. But so is the other work. It's so overwhelming!

I've been told to prioritize, but how? These rocks are all necessary. You can't prioritize paying your bills over spending time with your family. Both need to happen. Sure, the house cleaning isn't as important, but as the mom of girls I feel a responsibility to teach them to be tidy. Not only that, but dirt and germs need to be cleaned.

What do I do for "fun"? Not much, really. I exercise while watching TV, so that is my "down" time. Once a month I try to scrapbook. I spend a lot of time online between work projects, so I guess that's something I could take out. I've cut down tremendously on the blogs I read. I rarely comment, do not engage in "forum discussions," and only click over to facebook between assignments to clear my mind from one project to another.

So what can give? My spiritual walk suffers because by the time I stop working and crawl into bed for quiet time, I'm so tired I can hardly think straight. Tried getting up earlier in the AM and then the baby just woke with me. Like Janna's post says, when you are tired, you are spiritually vulnerable, but what choice do I have? I stop working nightly around 10, shower, read, pray, and go to bed between 11-12. The kids are up between 6-7. I LIVE tired.

I'm not even sure why I'm posting this. Probably should use the time to do something profitable, like, oh, unpack my living room full of luggage. But something has to give. I'm just not sure what. Any suggestions?

Right now, I simply feel like a failure. A very tired failure. Time to meditate on Psalm 61:2 again.

Signs of Abuse

Do you think abuse is obvious? Do you think you would know if your close friend or relative was regularly being abused? I did, and boy was I wrong!

In my continuing desire to open our eyes to verbal abuse (if you are late to the discussion, click here for the first post), I want to briefly blog about some of the signs I saw. I am keeping this vague to protect the privacy of those I love, and also remember that I am drawing from two situations.

Here are some signs I as an outsider saw, and sadly did not recognize:

  • Unnatural desire to do what husband wants – As wives we want to please our husbands. However, when that desire becomes too strong or the wife does something she would normally never do or feels is wrong, there may be an underlying cause. In this case, she often seems uneasy or frantic when he asks her to do something because if she is not fast enough or does not do it correctly he will get angry with her.
  • Change physical features for husband – Not "because he thought it would be cute" but because he desired it strongly or he would make fun of her if she didn't do it. I can tell you from experience that a loving spouse overlooks outward flaws. That's real love.
  • Extreme lack of help around the house/with children – Most men are not the best at helping out on domestic tasks, and in many homes these are primarily the woman's responsibility. What I am referring to is absolutely no help. We're talking no chores, never or hardly ever even interacting with the child, that sort of thing.
  • Constant public "teasing" – In one situation, remember thinking "if this is how he treats her in public, what is it like at home?" and "If my husband ever talked to me like that, we would have serious issues!" – Oh WHY didn't I see it????
  • Obsession on the part of the wife with being "better" – reading countless books on marriage trying to be a better wife.
  • Excusing away husband's behavior – Constantly excusing bizarre, mean, or wrong behavior.
  • Looking for confirmation from me that husband's behavior was "normal" – Trying to compare my husband to hers to confirm that what he was doing was just what all husbands do.
  • Extreme insecurity
  • Husband isolating the wife – Refusing to attend family/friend events, keeping wife from church, severely limiting her friends (basically to just his friends, if she can have any at all).
  • Husband controlling the wife – Not just being leader, but being "in control" regardless of wife's wishes
  • Money issues when there shouldn't be any - Especially wife not having money for her needs/wants, but husband always finding money for his.
  • Wife's interests become husband's interests – The wife suddenly has an interest in something that is so unlike her, yet rarely pursues any interests of her own.
  • Wife wanting family to tiptoe around husband's needs or wants – Family events suddenly become planned around the abuser.

This list comes from my own observations. Looking back on it (you know what they say about hindsight), I realize that, while one or two of these things may be part of normal "growing pains" of a marriage, the combined signs I saw are not. If I start seeing these things again in someone else I love, which I pray I never do, you had better believe I will be asking more questions.

So what do you think? Have you noticed other signs of abuse in people you loved or your own life?