Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude (Yeah, that IS my title)

So the title's a bit much...something off the shelf of a thrift store that's selling self help books for a dollar fifty a piece.  But, I'm gonna own it because there are few things in this life that I've found to be true.  One: recognize blessings and offer gratitude when they come because life is no roll in the hay and you've gotta say thank you when you get a reprieve from the everyday crap we get mired in. Two: Gratitude= Less Worry (totally swiped that off a church billboard.)

A few weeks back I was feeling a little bitter and not so very grateful for my current self image, a.k.a. mom who wears work out clothes everyday even though she rarely works out.  Basically, work out clothes for the elastic waistband.   I do NOT however wear pants that have elastic around the least not after 8 am.  That is a whole other level of asexual mom attire.  More important than than my apparel, I was feeling not so good about my lifestyle.  When you are a stay at home mom, everyone tells you, "You're doing the most important job ever!"  And somewhere in my brain, I understand and believe that.  After all, my choices today and every day determine how much money my children will one day spend on therapy.  Noooo pressure!  The thing is though...when you are doing the mom around the clock thing, you run the risk of losing yourself a bit.  One day you wake up and think, "Does anyone really care if I clean the counter tops today?  Couldn't we just have sandwiches for dinner one more night?"  Pretty soon, you realize that you don't care. 

You begin to feel like nothing you are doing really matters very much.

You see, I did not know I would feel this way.  This is my first time having children in school from 8-3 pm.  I imagined doing all sorts of important volunteer work and having lots of contact with other moms; the kind where we all pat each other on the back for being so great at this mom stuff.  At the end of each day, my husband would walk spiritedly through the front door and say, "Gee, babe! You sure are a good cook. That must have taken awhile!" Not so much.  

So I did what I do so well when I am desperate.  I began to pray!  On my evening walks with Mr. Freddy (the schnauzer) I asked God to use me here, right now, to serve His purposes.  To give me the kind of joy and peace that only comes with serving others.  I made the argument that although I am just a fickle woman who is not always attentive to Him, He could still use me.  Just look at all those hot messes He put to work in the Bible.  I was in desperate of need of a sense of purpose beyond my house and family. 

Why am I always amazed that there is someone out there listening?  You'd think I'd have a little more faith by now.

Here is what has happened in the last week.  I finally worked up the courage to introduce myself to the senior pastor at our mega church.  He immediately put me in contact with someone who heads up the music/production side of worship.  This Sunday at 6:30 am, I will be meeting the production team for the first time.

Next, I get an email from a local pregnancy center that needs client advocates who can give women pregnancy tests, talk to them about their options, attend their first ultrasound, and just generally love on them.  My friends know that I love to help pregnant ladies like Honey Boo Boo loves to put dresses on her pig, Glitzy.  I am really hopeful about this one.  

Finally, the music teacher at my daughter's elementary school asking me to come in every day to help teach the fifth graders their music for the Christmas Concert.  She is one of the greatest music teachers I have ever known and it is a privilege to help her.  This is a great connection to have if I reenter the work force as a music teacher. 

Who knows where any of this may lead?  Tomorrow I could be back at square one again, trying to figure out what to do with my life.  But, for today, even if it's only for today, my cup runneth over.  Thank you, God, for this moment, for this day, and for loving me enough to listen and put me to work.  

Matthew 7:7 
 "Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened for you." 

 "I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."  ~G.K. Chesterton

Here's hoping that you find find a little thanks and wonder in your day, friends.  Start with the tiny things and eventually the big stuff will come. 






Monday, November 19, 2012

Quirky is Cool


One day you are going to be sitting around, twittling your thumbs, thinking, "Damn.  I wish I knew 20 freaky things about Kate.  That would be a fun way to pass my time right about now."  

Well, say no more! Because now, the wait is over!  Whenever it strikes your fancy,  you can have access to 20 personal details of my life.  My mom is actually having a seizure right about now.  

I can not take credit for this brilliant idea.  Peach Prenni actually blogged about this recently, and I felt compelled to share my quirks with the world, as well.   This is about as exhibitionist as I get, so don't go looking for any smutty pictures online, okay?

1.) Nothing grosses me out more than having to dig wet food remnants out of the sink.  Like, the point that I would choose cleaning up poop (human or animal) over doing this job.  Ugh!!

2.) As a kid, I earned money performing at Disney World, singing in the Orlando Opera Company, appearing as an extra in commercials, and modeling for catalogs and text books.  My fame ends there.

3.) By all appearances, I am an extrovert, but secretly, I love my solitude.  If you show up at my front door looking for coffee and a chat, you probably won't make it through.  Don't get me wrong.  I love me some girl time, but I like it to be planned at least an hour or two in advance.  

4.) Favorite place in the whole world?  The used book store.  I love everything about it...the smell, the texture of the paperbacks, sitting on the floor reading covers,  talking about books with the salespeople, etc.  Absolute heaven.  

5.)  I am obsessed with Elvis.  I know every song he ever sang.  My Dad met Elvis and photographed him for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution when the King was in his early twenties.  

6.) I think my daughter's lisp in the cutest thing in the world.  I secretly will be devastated when she stops speaking like the priest from "Princess Bride".  

7.) I am drawn to bossy people with strong personalities.  All of my closest female friends have had very strong personalities and I am definitely attracted to tough guys #obviously, look who I married!

8.) My love language is physical touch.  Nothing makes me feel more special than a cuddle and a kiss.  

9.) I love geezers.  In fact, I think will start selling I HEART GEEZER bumper stickers.  This is probably b/c my Dad is an adorable geezer (sorry, Dad) and one of the men I admire most in this world.  Put me in a room with old men and I am practically purring.  

10.) My favorite reading material is trash; specifically, romance novels.  On any given week, I read two.  And I don't just skim for the good parts.  I savor every page.  It's the formula: boy meets girl, sparks fly, betrayal= oops, it was just a misunderstanding! , marriage and happily ever after.

11.) I am an old soul.  My music tastes run from Ray Charles to Patsy Cline to Little Walter to the King.  Love it all.  When I was 8 years old, my favorite shows were "Golden Girls" and "20/20".  Basically, the tastes of an elderly Jewish woman.  

12.)  When I was three, my favorite songs to sing were "Washed in the Blood of the Lamb" and "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed".  That contradiction pretty much sums up my life.

13.) I can yodel like Leann Rimes and sing opera in Italian, French, and Spanish (not so good with the German).  A fat lot of good that does me in the real world.

14.) As a tween, my female role models were Patsy Cline and Scarlett O'Hara.  I used to practice saying, "People in hell want ice water, but that don't mean they get it," with a southern twang. This explains a lot about my skewed world view.  

15.) I have a fascination (A.K.A. fetish) with rodeo riders.  There is just something about a man in tight blue jeans and cowboy boots.  The helmets they wear now kind of kill it for me, but I'm willing to make concessions for the whole brain injury thing.  

16.) I love the smell of pipe tobacco and cigars.  They remind me of my Uncle Frank and my Granddaddy.  

17.) My favorite sound is football on the T.V. on a Sunday afternoon...and I HATE to watch it.  Just listening takes me back to my childhood, snuggled up next to my Dad.  

18).  I believe in ghosts.   I saw two in college, both near train tracks in N.C. and don't care to ever see another, thank you very much. 

19.) I am a Civil War freak.  Need to know any useless facts about the Confederate army?  Got it all right here, baby.  Wanna know how John Wilkes Booth made his escape after Lincoln's assassination?  Look no further!  

20.)  I have A.D.D.  It does not define me but it has taught me to be more compassionate, organized, humble, and best of all, able to laugh at myself and the world around me.  I would not choose it for my children, but I would not change it about myself.  Frankly, I think it makes me more interesting. 

Alright, turnabout is fair play, so it's your turn.  Please leave a comment stating one freaky thing about yourself that not many people know. Come on, ya know you want to. Wave your freak flag! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Unapologetic Bitchin'

Today, you have the pleasure of being my therapist.  Hope you've got a big notebook.  I am having an attitude problem, some stay-at-home-mommy angst, if you will.  You see, my house if full of sick puppies; two little ones to be exact.  They are adorable, perfectly lovely a lot of the time, but they are actually quite toxic.  I scrub them clean, sanitize them, dunk them, Clorox the places where little hands like to roam, all to no avail.  Because five days a week, they hang out all day long with other sick puppies who pick their noses, put their grubby little fingers in their mouths and swap germs.  

And they bring those grubby little germs home to share with Mom and Dad. Their cuteness has grown on me over the years so I think I will keep them (the children, that is).  But something really must be done about our wretched illnesses.  Friends, I am a Georgia girl, through and through.  Chicago was a but a roadblock to my career as a southerner.  I'm one of those "American by birth, southerner by the grace of God" people.  Alas, as much as I love the red clay under my feet, Georgia does not seem to love me back.  

Here is a catalog of the various illnesses we have experienced since moving here:
Mono for Hubby and I (and no, we did not have any fun getting it).
Strep for the whole family (the family that suffers together, stays together??)
Recurrence of mono for me+ my poor mother-in-law
Pink eye (too many times to count) 
Flu that we generously passed on to my in-laws on their first visit
Too many drippy, disgusting colds to count
Unexplained high fevers for three or four days at a time
Numerous ear infections (now Nana has tubes)
Stomach virus for the whole family

Now lets just go over the last two weeks:
Stomach virus for Nana and Hubby
Cold for Nana and I
Strep for Lulu

At the risk of sounding crude.  What the f#@%?! 

I really do get that we are fundamentally blessed, in spite of all the germy crud floating around our home.  Truly.  But, lemme just say again what I've said before: this was not the plan I had for my fall.  At. All. I keep trying to tell God that I have some great ideas for my life, but He has yet to agree with me.  Rude. 

My day to day life is defined by who happens to be sick on any given day, and what they need from me.  This fall has taught me the true meaning of the phrase "good and faithful servant."  I do not feel so "good" or "faithful" when someone is screaming, "Why?! Why?! Do you do this to me?! I toooooold you that I want the red Popsicles because the green ones are DISGUSTING.  Gross!!"  


"Moooooommy!  I did a big poo poo and it's REALLY messy! Come clean me up!" 

Today, for instance, is day 5 of nursing Lulu through her strep throat.  You would think it was Scarlet Fever...more like Scarlett O'Hara fever. But, what can I say?  She comes by that honest (from her father, of course).  Truthfully, as crazy as she is making me (having nightmares about tiny serial killers and falling buildings), I am grateful that my little one is even well enough to be an asshole to her mother.  The two days when my listless child hovered around 104 degrees were just terrifying.  

A dear friend who is also a doctor, had some sage words of comfort for me.  She explained that we are not actually freak shows that need to be quarantined.  In reality, this can all be explained by our children's total lack of exposure to germs before we moved here.  My eldest daughter was in a preschool class with only eight other students and the youngest spent all of her time with Grandma and Grandpa while I was at work.  It is as if they are babies building their immune systems for the first time.  

Another friend gave me her two cents, as well:

Me: So...I am starting to feel a little bit crazy with all of this sickness.  I sit at home some days contemplating forming a band on Craigslist or turning my "I'm twenty!" tattoo into something much larger and more colorful... maybe my husband's face?  Do you think that's normal?"

Friend: Oh, Lord, yes.  If I had to sit around nursing people back to health every week, I'd probably shoot my face off!

Me: Oh, thank you!! That makes me feel better.  It's not just me!

*No one in this conversation is actually going to shoot her face off.  Relax.

So there you have it.  It is what it is.  It's not glorious or even particularly rewarding at the moment.  When you are a mother, there are no accolades to be had until much, much later in the game.  Only now do I constantly think of all that my own mother sacrificed to care for her little ingrates.  No one ever says, "Boy! Is she ever a wonderful mother!" 

But there are those moments during the day when you watch your children laugh and play, bursting with confidence and self assurance and know that they are that way because of your love.  And late at night, in the wee, small hours, there is the awe and overwhelming gratitude for the tiny, warm body that lies next to you, breathing softly on your cheek.  

And you know what?  It is more than enough.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Haunted Lil' House

  In the spirit of Halloween I thought I'd share my haunted Little People dollhouse story.  Don't laugh! It's legit, yo.  Let me set the scene for you.  Picture this. Early this morning, around 4:30 am, I was asleep up in my bed, all toasty and warm, snuggled up with Lilah and our schnauzer who was perched in his usual spot above my head.  We were sleeping peacefully.  When all of a sudden, there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter...sorry, wrong holiday. 

This is where it gets interesting.

I realized that a tune had woken me from a dead sleep; specifically, Brahms' "Lullaby," A.K.A. "Lullaby and Goodnight".   Groggy and confused, I thought I was dreaming.  The sound stopped.  Just minutes later, it began to play again.  By the third or fourth time of this, I raised my head off the pillow and began to search for the source.  Initially, I thought the tune must be coming from one of our cell phones.  Perhaps, Hubby chose a sweet lullaby to gently nudge him from sleep at 4:30?? It certainly seemed like an alarm clock, going off every three minutes or so.  But, alas, only one cell phone in the room and it was mine.  

So, I began to explore the floor of my bedroom, which was littered with toys because we don't use our perfectly, nice playroom.  Oh no! Mommy's floor is preferable. I sat motionless on the floor for a few minutes and sure enough, "Lullaby and Goodnight"... dee dee dee dee, dah dee dee.  Ah ha!  It was coming from the Little Peeps' House.  Little bastards!  

But here's the thing: in order to produce that tune, you literally have to push the shutters away from the second story window.  We have owned that dollhouse since Savannah was three and I can safely say, it has NEVER played by itself.  Not to mention, the thing has been on my floor for three pathetic months without so much as a peep.   It does not play by itself, period. 
Now, had I been thinking logically, I would have picked up the damn thing and shoved it in a closet somewhere.  But, NOOOOOOO.   I crawled back into bed, more than a bit freaked out.  A few minutes of silence passed.  Then, it played TWO TIMES in a row.  

I began to pray quietly.  Yep.  "Dear Jesus, please make it stop, okay?"  

Another TWO TIMES.  

Then, just to cover all my bases, I appealed to my Uncle Frank, who passed away a few years ago and I miss terribly.  "Uncle Frank,  if this is your idea of a joke, it's not funny."  

At this point, I searched for Hubby who predictably had fallen asleep on the couch.  

Me: "Pssst!  Wake up!"

Hubby: "Hmmm?" 

Me: "Get up!  The Little People keep playing their song. You must get in bed with us!"

Hubby: "Okay."  

Do I even need to tell you that once Hubby got in bed with us the lullaby stopped?  Well, it's true.  Freaky.  Needless to say, the Little People have been exiled like tubby, little refugees.  If I had more courage and a scientific mind, I would see if that sucker would play again tonight.  As if!  I have been known to enjoy an occasional ghost hunting show for a goof, but let me be clear.  Mama don't play like that in her house!  No thanks.  

Do you have a freaky-middle of the night-disturbance story?  Check out my cousin, Peach Prenni's,  Bride of Chucky experience.