favorite child.

just enough dysfunction to make you funnyFirstHusband is out of town, so finding a fresh pot of coffee when I came downstairs this morning was a nice surprise.

Me: “Someone made coffee?”

PinkGirl: “Me.”

Me: “awww. You’re my favorite daughter!”

PinkGirl: “I would have preferred ‘favorite child.'”

FavoriteSon: “What do you want?”

PinkGirl: “nothing!”

FavroiteSon: “umm. hmm.”

I’m not your “fun” friend.

I know I’m not your “fun” friend. I wouldn’t make a good Bunco buddy. I prefer conversation over television. And without exception, I will choose talking about your goals and ideas and struggles over spending two hours in a dark movie theater not talking at all. I know I’m not the first person you think of when you want to get together with someone and laugh your butt off. I know I’m not one of the friends you invite out for happy hour on girl’s night.

And I’m okay with that.

I would be completely miserable at happy hour.

For me, happy hour is like reading fiction. It’s a diversion from real life. And usually much too loud.

I can’t do it.

(I have my reasons, which I’ll get into in the next few posts, but let me start out by assuring you I’m not like this because I think I’m better than other people. You’ll see. I have “issues.”)

I know I’m different. Some would say, not normal. Some might say annoying. exasperating.

You either get used to me or you avoid me.

But when you need to talk, I’m the friend who wants to have coffee with you. I’m the friend who can handle hearing about the things that keep you awake at night. I’m the friend who wants to hear about the things that keep you awake at night. Without judgement. In confidence. And be prepared for me to pray for you. Right then and there. Out loud and in front of whoever happens to be looking. (well, not so loud I break a confidence)

Sure, we can talk about surface stuff; logistical stuff, like what mechanic we trust, what we love and hate about our phones and data plans, a good (but easy) recipe or maybe even gas prices.

but not for long.

I don’t have a lot of patience for surface talk. It’s like a magazine. Little chunks of uncommitted browsing.

I prefer books. I want to spend a little more time and dig deeper.

While there’s time. Because it’s later than I think.

FOLLOW-UP: Here are two of my “issues”:
Why I’m Not Your Fun Friend. Issue #1: Saturday Mornings
Why I’m Not Your Fun Friend. Issue #3: Death

I didn’t shave my legs for nothin.

Yesterday, I went back to yoga for the first time since tearing my MCL on December 2nd. My knee has been feeling pretty good, so I intentionally put on yoga shorts that morning. As the time to leave the house got closer, I debated. I was on a writing roll. If I stopped, I would lose momentum. and the coffee was so good. (Joffrey’s Jamaican Me Crazy)

LazyMe: “I don’t wanna go. I’m comfortable.”

AnnoyingMe: “Come on. After class is over, you’ll be glad you did it.”

LazyMe: “ehhh.”

AnnoyingMe: “What is it you always say? That you’re ‘striving to be a good steward of the body God has blessed you with?'”

LazyMe: ” It’s early. I’ve got all day. I can be a good steward later.”

AnnoyingMe: “Did you shave your legs for nothing?”

LazyMe: (sigh) “alright. I’m goin.”

Last night, I was really feeling the after-effects of this pose (below).
My whole body hurt – from holding it perfectly still for a total of just a few minutes.


Tonight, I’m feeling it even more.

There’s only one thing to do. Go back tomorrow.

conversations with myself.

(Some of you know I’m writing a book. Most recently I’ve been focused on accountability. Don’t know how much will make it through final edits, but today, this is what came out of my memory and my fingertips. Note: (1) This was many YEARS ago. (2) I do NOT really talk to myself like this. That would be crazy.)

I have a collection of coffee mugs that completely fills the kitchen cabinet I’ve designated as the “coffee mug cabinet.” So far, when I get a new mug, I’ve been successful in getting rid of an old one so the coffee mug cabinet stays full, but doesn’t overflow into another one.

I also have a collection of CHRISTMAS coffee mugs that completely fills the same cabinet.

You see my problem.

When I first started collecting coffee mugs, I didn’t pay attention to how much space they took up. I saw a coffee mug I liked and I bought it. Eventually I got to the point where all the mugs didn’t fit into the space, so I started packing up the Christmas mugs and storing them in the attic, only taking them down during the month of December.

In December, my cabinet overflowed.

Then a few years ago, I had a long overdue epiphany. When I UNpacked the Christmas mugs, I PACKED the everyday mugs in the same box and instead of putting an empty mug box back into the attic for the month of December, I put a full mug box into the attic.

There’s a lesson here. Just in time for the chaos of the Christmas season.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until I’m dead:

You CAN have it all, you just can’t have it all AT THE SAME TIME.


Choose on PURPOSE.

Everyone knows someone who’s schedule is overloaded. Someone who has said “yes” to too many things. Someone who tries to do so many things, they do none of them well. Someone who is a job hog. You may even BE one of those people.

I used to be one of those people, until I had a long, honest, humbling talk with myself:

FedUpMe: “What is your problem? WHY do you keep doing this?

MartyrMe: “what?”

FedUpMe: “WHY do you keep saying yes to everything?”

MartyrMe: “Well, they asked me. They NEED me.”

FedUpMe: “They need you. They need you? Are you sure you don’t need them to need you?”

MartyrMe: “Of course not! I’m doing all this out of the goodness of my heart. Because I’m a good person and I want to help.”

FedUpMe: “and you get nothing out of it.”

MartyrMe: “NO! Most of the time people don’t even appreciate all I do for them.”

FedUpMe: “Of course they don’t. Nobody appreciates a half-%&# job.”

MartyrMe: “I do NOT do a half-%&# job!!! I work my butt off! Look at my schedule! I don’t have ANY time for myself! EVERYthing I do is for other people. I don’t even have time to work out! I run on coffee!”

FedUpMe: “This is me you’re talking to.”

MartyrMe: “But…”

FedUpMe: “Save it. You’re not selling that load here. Look at everything you do. You don’t get anything out of it personally? How many of these things you’ve committed to come with lots of people telling you how great you are? How many times do you tell people about all the stuff you do so they’ll tell you how great you are? (mocking voice) ‘Oh, I just don’t know how you do it all!'”

MartyrMe: “I can’t just quit. There’s nobody else to do it.”

FedUpMe: “Are you really that arrogant?”

MartyrMe: “If I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done.”

FedUpMe: “Are you sure about that? Are you SURE that you’re not hogging a job someone else wants? A job someone is just WAITING for you to give up so they can have a shot at it? A job you really aren’t suited for? Are you afraid someone else might do it better? Because I’ll tell you now, they probably could. Because you do a half-%&# job.”

MartyrMe: “shut up. I do NOT do a half-%&# job. I’m doing my best.”

FedUpMe: “You did not just say that. (pregnant pause) What is your favorite Churchill quote?”

MartyrMe: “shutup.”

FedUpMe: “It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.”

silence. brooding. arrogant brooding.

MartyrMe: “I never liked you.”

FedUpMe: “There are a lot of people who don’t like me. And yet I’m still breathing.”

MartyrMe: “You’ve got issues. and you’re bossy.”

FedUpMe: “duh. I’m YOU.”

MartyrMe: “I can’t just quit. I’m already committed.”

FedUpMe: “Yeh, well, you’re gonna be committed if you don’t find some balance in your life. Look. Start by figuring out two things:

First, what’s important to you? What are your goals in life?
Second, what are you good at? What talents has God blessed you with and which ones are you actively developing?

Be brutally honest with yourself, but more importantly, ask other people for feedback and give them permission to tell you the truth. Then you’ll know what to let go of, what to keep in your life and what you need to improve on. If you want to do something and you aren’t very good at it, then GET good at it. Learn. Practice. And don’t forget. There are seasons for things. Just because you want to do something, doesn’t mean you have to do it NOW. You don’t have to do everything at the same time. You CAN’T do everything at the same time. Not well. Rotate your commitments.

Like Christmas coffee mugs.

I hope I can shut up.

10:00 a.m. – I have until tomorrow to submit lyrics & track for the two songs I will be recording on Friday night. As I listen to song after song after song, I’m praying that God would lead me to the two songs HE wants me to sing – to the lyrics & melody that He can use to reach someone who will be present in the recording session that night. I want more than a great session, I want to be an instrument of His grace.

10:36 a.m. – The songs I wanted to try don’t have tracks. Walking away from the computer – and the list of backup choices – to sit on the loveseat with a cup of coffee, my Bible and my prayer journal. I hope I can shut up long enough to hear what the Lord has to say about this.

St. Augustine, you did not make a good impression on me today.

PinkGirl’s 4th grade class went on a field trip to St. Augustine today and I had to drive because she was in a charity performance for Toys for Tots tonight and she had to be at the theater earlier than the bus was returning.

I think I’m all set and then, last night around 6pm, one of the teachers sent out an email:

“If chaperones want to drive we can’t stop you; however it is a big problem in that the trolley tour that leaves from the Old Jail does not return there. It drops us off at the fort, and you will not be able to get back to your car.”


So I Googled St. Augustine and found a map From the fort to the Old Jail . . . it didn’t seem that far to me, but I didn’t know, so I emailed the teacher back:

“What are my options if I need to get PinkGirl back early? From your email, it sounds like driving my own vehicle would leave me stranded. I’ve never been to St. Augustine and it sounds like you know the ropes. Any suggestions?”

His reply, at 6:16 this MORNING:

“I am sure there are a few parents driving. Maybe you can catch a ride back to the jail or miss the trolley tour and just drive from the jail to the fort. Parking for the fort is at the welcome center across the street. Sorry, but there is no easy way that I know of.”

I’m thinking, they all sound like easy ways to me, unless you can’t WALK. I’m thinking all my treadmill time has prepared me for this. Little did I know.

So PinkGirl rides the cool bus with TVs to St. Augustine and I drive my van and park at the Old Jail with all the other parents who drove. We tour the Museum (GREAT tour guide) and the Old Jail. Here’s my facebook posts during the tour of the Old Jail:

“Trying to stand where the authoritarian tour guide tells us to stand. Got in trouble 3 times already.”

and then,

“Got in trouble with the cranky tourguide again. Now I’m standing as far back as I can to listen to the tour guide behind me. He’s funnier.”

oh. she was bossy. FirstHusband says I have a problem with authority. I say I just tend to ignore bossy people.

But here’s where it all started to go downhill fast. While we were in the Old Jail, it started raining. Did I mention it was COLD? I was wearing three layers and leather gloves. PinkGirl is wearing two layers and gloves, but she’s running around more. And then it started raining.

Not good.

We had lunch on a small porch. All three 4th grade classes and a bunch of parents.

Then on to the trolley ride. So NOW we’re all in an open trolley, in the cold, in the rain and traveling at least 30 miles per hour.

Not good.

By the time the tour was finished 45 minutes later, we were soaked and very, Very, VERY cold. And we had 45 minutes of “free time” until the tour of the fort. The mom I was hanging with was on a quest for coffee and I was right there with her. I hate shopping as it is and there was NO way I was going to shop while I was soaking wet.

After a latte for me and a hot chocolate for PinkGirl ($9.00), we walked to the fort and stood around waiting for that tour to begin. In the rain. I asked our tour guide about options to get back to our vehicles at the Old Jail and he quickly pointed out the trolley stop right in front of the fort. Supposedly, the trolley schedule was every 15 minutes.

umm. hmm.

So PinkGirl goes on the fort tour with her class in the care of my fellow coffee lovin mom and I walk over to the trolley stop with two other moms to wait. and wait. and wait.

Forget it. It’s RAINING and I’m freezing and if I’m going to be in the rain, I’m NOT going to stand still while I’m getting soaked. I’m at LEAST going to be moving toward my destination. We were decked out in some seriously attractive complementary rain ponchos from the trolley company, so my thought was that if we saw a trolley coming our way, we would look pitiful and step out into the middle of the street and flag… okay, maybe not. But the “look pitiful” part worked after we walked about a half a mile. Since the rain ponchos were covered in the trolley company logo, a BUS driver (NOT a trolley, but a WARM, ENCLOSED BUS) pulled to a stop right in the middle of the road and opened the door.

My favorite person of the day, and I don’t even know his name.

I get the van, drive it back to the fort and go looking for our group. They are on TOP of the fort, overlooking the water. And now it’s cold and raining and WINDY.

This is not my happy day.

PinkGirl, however is having a GREAT time. weirdo.

But the SECOND the tour is over, she says, “Mom, can we go now?

Oh, honey, you do NOT have to ask me twice. I have a vehicle and I’m not afraid to use it. We were outta there so fast! A quick pit stop at McDonalds and we were on the road. PinkGirl fell asleep within 20 minutes and stayed asleep till we got off the highway in our little hometown, about an hour and a half later.

My next facebook update:

“I dont know how PinkGirl is even still standing, much less performing in a show tonight. We had to be at school at 6:30 am, we spent most of the day freezing and soaking wet and she fell asleep in the van on the way home from St. Augustine. Her dad had to carry her into the house so she could change clothes for the show. She’s sleeping in tomorrow, I can feel it.”

Then, later:

“PinkGirl just got home from the show – she is TOTALLY wired. But when she crashes, it’s going to look like this. (at the 2:43 mark)”

mom coping strategy #1: sleep.

Tina has inspired me again. A few weeks ago, she wrote a post on a Bible study she was doing and what she gleaned from it.

“Being kind is definitely something I struggle with. Not with the rest of the world, but with my own children. I get impatient, frustrated, short-tempered and unkind. And I really SO do not want to be that mom. I am praying now for a gentle spirit. I’ve always admired women who have that….godly women that love the Lord and seem to just live and breathe Proverbs 31. Believe me, my children don’t, as a rule, arise and call me blessed.”

My daughter sure as heck doesn’t arise and call me blessed. Often, she’s a crank in the morning until after we give her some orange juice or Ovaltine and her blood sugar levels out. We OFTEN wake her up with a no-spill sippy cup in our hand. (Try it, you might be amazed at the difference in your kiddo’s morning attitude and cooperation.)

I write about my parenting strategies and my perspective, and it may seem like I’m getting it right, but I need to clarify. I fall off the “good mom” wagon all the time. I just get back on as fast as I can. AND, I used to fall off MUCH more often when my kids were home with me 24-7. AND I know some of the reasons why.

PinkGirl and I have our moments. MOST of the time, I can give her grace when she has a blood sugar dip and starts crying for no apparent reason. But sometimes, I find myself asking her, “WHY are you crying NOW?” and saying my standard, “Handle this differently” or “Solve your problem.” in a frustrated, impatient tone of voice instead of my encouraging, reminder voice. Sometimes, when she is “disagreeable,” I completely forget to calculate when she ate last and I react with what is to me, a lack of empathy and a toneless voice. What SHE sees is a mom “who doesn’t care about me when I’m upset!” (and she tells me exactly that.) Instead of responding with grace and providing her a complex carb/protein combo before continuing in a reasonable conversation with her, I react immediately and escalate the situation. The whole episode steals time and energy and peace from our day. It’s a waste. And I know it. I don’t like it. So I try to take my own advice and “Solve my problem” by “handling things differently.”

When find myself impatient or frustrated with my kids, I start by looking for the root causes so I can fix my real problem. Physiological, psychological, spiritual . . . I always start with the physiological. (I’ve got my fair share of problems, but today I’m only focusing on ONE of the the physical problems.) I do a little self-check.

  • Am I tired?
  • Am I hungry?
  • Is my iron low because I keep forgetting to take that stupid pill?

Until I “fix” these physical issues I can’t consistently parent intentionally or well. Unfortunately, “fixing” isn’t an instantaneous, one time thing. Often I have to make consistent changes over time to completely get RID of these problems rather than just trying to manage them. If I’m not careful, I could end up like this: (the first two minutes)

But back to fixing my (physical) problems and handling things differently. Let’s start with “tired.”

I sometimes have trouble getting to sleep. Sometimes I don’t get enough sleep. So I’ve made a few changes:

  • First, I now take Ambien when I need it. Not every day – only when I can’t get to sleep. I started with Tylenol PM. One was too much. Half was just enough. When both my GP and my GYN heard I was taking it, they both suggested Ambien instead. I started with 10mg control release. Too much. I need to wake up when a kid needs me. Then I went with the regular 10mg. Too much. Drowsy the next morning. I now take 5mg.
  • I also intentionally GO TO BED earlier. Sometimes (not often) as early as 10:00 p.m. I’m a night owl. Sometimes I’m not sleepy at 10:00 p.m. If I can’t get to sleep, I take some Ambien. My goal is to go to bed the same day I wake up instead of wake up the same day I go to bed.
  • When I read in bed, I only read fiction. I don’t need to be learning when I’m trying to calm my mind. Even when I read a devotional, I find my brain ramping up when it should be ramping down. To make sure I don’t slip up, I don’t keep any non-fiction books in the bedroom.
  • The low iron can make me weak and tired too, so I take a prescription iron supplement. (But I’m fixing that too.)
  • No coffee after 1:00 p.m. or so. Enough said.
  • Back when PinkGirl was a baby, I would nap when she napped. I read this over and over again when FavoriteSon was a baby and I rarely followed the advice. When PinkGirl was born, I was older, with more on my plate and more tired. I kinda had no choice.
  • Sometimes it was the kid’s sleep cycles that threw a wrench in mine. When a kid won’t go to sleep or wakes up in the middle of the night, what are you going to do? Sleep anyway? Not likely. I’ll write another post on overcoming kid sleep problems. We had to do that too.
  • I removed things from my “To Do” list. Some jobs get harder the longer they are delayed. Like dishes and laundry. But some jobs take the same amount of time and effort each time you do them, regardless of whether you last did them yesterday or last week. Like vacuuming, cleaning the toilet or dusting. So my house wasn’t up to white glove standards. big whoop.

So, given my history and challenges, I have a question for moms like Tina and I who sometimes get, as Tina put it, “impatient, frustrated, short-tempered and unkind:”

What kind of sleep are you getting? Supposedly, a sleep cycle is 90 minutes. I know that when my sleep is fragmented or I don’t get enough of it, I’m predisposed to a lack of patience and frustration. It doesn’t take much to push me off the “good mom” wagon.

Yes, when I get more sleep, my day is shorter. I have less time to accomplish all the things I “need” to. But when I get more (and better) sleep, my day – and my family’s day – is BETTER. And all those things I “need” to do? Some get done. Some don’t. Some jobs I keep doing. Some jobs FirstHusband handles. Some jobs the kids take care of. Some I decide not to do anymore.

You CAN change your situation. Even minor changes can add up. We have choices to make every day. When you say to yourself, “I HAVE to do (insert urgent, important task here).” Rethink it. Do you? What’s the worst thing that would happen if you didn’t? What things can you let go of? What things can you allow others to take responsibility for? Maybe the person who picks up your slack doesn’t do things exactly like you would. Is it THAT important that something be done your way?

I used to think I had no choices. But I was confusing “no choice” with “difficult choice.”

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer

freakish kitchen organization

Shannon, over at Rocks in My Dryer is hosting a themed edition of Works for Me Wednesday. Today is all about kitchen organization! Since it’s Whale of a Sale time and I’m sorting hundreds of books and alphabetizing by author until I literally can’t remember how to spell, I’m maximizing my time (cheating) and highlighting previous posts about my kitchen.

My favorites are:

the good, the bad and the ugly (kitchen cabinets)

veggie box (our key to 5 minute meal preps)

freakish coffee station

freakish junk drawer

five minute sink (two of my biggest strategies for getting things DONE.)

lunchbox flatware (no more missing place settings)

AND, Shannon’s theme has also prompted me to organize my “recipes” page, above. It was missing quite a few posts but now – I think – it is up to date! Just in time for Thanksgiving pumpkin soup!

freakish coffee station.

Being “freakishly organized,” I followed the Underwear Principle and created a coffee “station” with all the supplies needed for coffee located in one spot. It’s a tiny bit of counter space next to the stove and it’s where we keep EVERYthing coffee related. (Thanks for the coffee pot recommendation, Lisa Writes!)

coffee station

The three cannisters hold creamer, Benefiber and Splenda. We used to keep all that inside the cabinet above, but they were annoying to access. I picked clear glass cannisters so we could tell at a glance when they were running low and we now keep them on the counter because it’s the most convenient. When we remember, we add Benefiber to our coffee. It’s a simple way to sneak in extra fiber. We can’t taste it and it doesn’t change the consistency of the coffee at all.

In the cabinet above are the coffee mugs, travel mugs, coffee filters and creamer refill. I bought identical plastic containers to store coffee in the freezer door (right behind this spot) and marked one of them “decaf.” I even decorated this area by purchasing multi-opening frames, finding, typing and printing coffee and tea “quotes” on pretty card stock and framing each one.

One of my favorite quotes is: “A man without a mustache is like a cup of tea without sugar.” (FirstHusband has had a mustache since I’ve met him.)

I especially love the quote by Cher in Moonstruck: “You make good coffee . . . you’re a slob, but you make good coffee.”

coffee art

(Please forgive the sideways photo.)

It’s very handy to have everything in one place. It’s easy for guests too. When I host my ladies circle, I set my “backup” coffee pot (with decaf) on the flat stove top, right next to the main coffee maker.