Things That Re-direct my parenting style…

Ruthie: MOM! We’re playing hide and seek, but Thomas won’t stop counting!

Me: Did you ask him to stop?

Ruthie then turns to Thomas and begins screaming at him to stop (mind you, we are in the car).

Me: But you need to ask him without screaming at him. That’s not okay.

Ruthie (in a horrifically matter-of-fact tone): But mom, I have to scream at him because he’s not stopping.

At which point I smirk quietly to myself as Bryan throws his head back in that deep, bellowing, from-the-gut laugh that I love (but only when it’s not at my expense), and he says, “You are SO BUSTED!”

God bless Ruthie for being the mirror God uses to show me my own parenting flaws.

Things that Keep Me Dry

I lost a bit of blogging momentum over the busy holidays. I didn’t have much time for focused writing, and now that I’m getting back into the swing of my daily routine I’m not feeling all that compelled to dig deep just yet. So bear with me, Dear Internet, as I continue to bore you with photos and antidotes.

Last week brought a stretch of sunshine and, more importantly, no rain, which brought a crew of roofers in by the truck load. In less than one day the entire mass of them had stripped off three layers of shingles, cleaned up, and beat feet out of there, leaving nothing but a muddy mess on my back deck. And by ‘entire mass,’ I’m not exagerating. Those guys were EVERYWHERE – in my yard, on the street, milling about, looking up and pointing – there had to be 10-15 non-English speaking laborors, ready to take on my house.

(Oh, and the only reason I point out that they were non-English speaking, is that it took me having a conversation with 3-4 of them before I clued in that they were merely nodding at me, and not actually acknowledging what I was saying. So I finally asked for the foreman and they all pointed – all at once – to the truck across the street. They were very snap-to-it kind of guys.)

The next day two guys returned – one to stay on the roof, and the other to hand him sheets of metal – and they had great weather all week. Until yesterday and today. These poor guys are now working in the pouring rain, and it does not look fun.

Here is a shot of the roof we used to have, the moss and leaks into our stair well not fully visible:

Old Roof - South Side before

And here is half of our sexy new metal roof, in a lovely shade of blue-ish teal:

New Roof - North Side after

It may look a little out of place at the moment, but picture a new coat of paint in the near future to brighten up the whole look.

And most importantly – no more leaking!

Things That Remind Me…

The pictures of the snow storm in Denver reminded me of a similar snow dump when I was growing up in Minnesota in the 1980’s. School was canceled and drifts were up to my waist. Gordy shoveled snow off the garage roof, creating HUGE drifts along the house that we had fun jumping into.

Here’s mom and I on the roof of the garage:

3 foot snow drifts on the roof

Me jumping (check out those moon boots!):

Jumping off the roof into a snow drift

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Bryan’s plane landed safely and he was home by midnight. We snuggled on the couch for awhile as we listened to the wind and watched David Letterman, then we went to bed. We live in a 1910 Craftsman, and our bedrooms are all on the second floor. We have no large trees around us, and only one window on the South side of the house where the wind was coming from, so I wasn’t too worried about severe damage to our home.

As the house rocked and the windows shook, my little family gathered around me. Scout, who normally sleeps in the dark and quiet basement, nosed her way into our room and paced lightly until settling on the floor next to the bed. Ruthie came in asking what that sound outside was. I started taking her back into her room, selfish for the limited space in our small bed. But as I entered her room and heard the gusts against her slanted walls, I remembered it was my job as a mom to protect my children and make them feel safe. So I snuggled her back into bed between Bryan and I where she slept for most of the night, oblivious to the storm in the safety of our bed. I layed awake until 2 in the morning, listening to the gusts, hearing objects drag down the street, feeling the bed shake. I was not afraid, but I was in awe.

We fared well compred to most. We never lost power. No trees fell on our house. I had gas in my car. Many people in the area will not see power until Wednesday or later – a full week after the storm. Here are pictures of the minor damage done to the outer parts of our home…

Remember this pretty deck with my new pretty lights?
New Outdoor Lights

Here’s what it looks like now…

All the lattice was blown down and shredded in the wind.

IMG_4675

IMG_4677

What is left of our shed (with the lawn mower still standing!)…
What's left of the shed (with the lawn mower still standing!)

At least we know the lock will hold!
The still-intact lock broke from the shed.

By the way, did you notice the tree behind the shed? How all the leaves on it are dead, yet they didn’t blow off in the high winds? I find that creepy.

Things I Rant About

I am tired of hearing people say that online communities are not real communities. Sick. and. tired. I know many people believe this because they think it is easy to hide our true selves online and put forth a façade of how we want others to perceive us. But here’s the thing, isn’t that a HUMAN NATURE problem? Isn’t it HUMAN NATURE to hide behind the mask we want others to see?

Every person in the universe can hide any aspect of themselves that they want to – at work, at school, at home, and hell, even in Christendom. A person can sit in church every Sunday and make conversation with the person next to her, attend a weekly bible study, and have lots of friends – yet that same person could be abusing her children, or contemplating suicide, or having an affair, or watching porn addictively.

But we put on a good face and show you what we want you to see.

That was the beauty of Mr. and Mrs. Smith (I know – HOMEWRECKER!) – that as long as they were keeping secrets from each other their marriage was lifeless and distant. But as their true identities surfaced they got all hot for each other again. Truth brought intimacy.

I think The Church in general is very far behind the times in terms of technology and the internet. It is ignorant of the blog world and does not take advantage of blog-like formatted websites like this one from The Landing, a new shopping center developing near my home. It is a great example of a corporate website with a blog feel. It doesn’t just provide information – it invites conversation. Churches should embrace this.

I also think The Church is slow to embrace the idea of asynchronous gatherings. Do we have to be in the same room to have meaningful conversations? Absolutely not. My children connect with Bryan in meaningful ways during the weeks he travels because we communicate with our web cams via Sight Speed. Ruthie shows Bryan her art work from the day, Thomas gives him ‘nucks, and they both kiss and hug the computer every evening. Ruthie has even tried to feed Bryan a bite of her dinner through the computer screen.

Using technology has kept our family connected, so we could feasibly also lead a community group through our church using this same technology, allowing Bryan to teach and participate even on the weeks he is traveling. The use of blogs can also assist the creative process amongst the writers and artists of churches, creating a place to post pieces and receive feedback – especially for those who have schedules that make it difficult to attend workshops in person.

Mars Hill is a church in the area that has chosen to accommodate its increasing attendance by creating satellite services with its pastor’s sermons piped in via a live feed on the internet. At first I was offended by this concept because I thought, who are THEY to take over the World? But the more I think about technology and The Church, the more I realize that Mars Hill is embracing technology and using it to share the Gospel. They believe that meaningful conversations can take place asynchronously. And THAT is a concept I can get on board with.

I realize, though, that I may be preaching to the choir. You are reading my blog, which means you not only know what the internet is, but you are connected with what the latest trends are for communicating. So you are likely thinking, yeah, I get it. So maybe this is just a rant. Technology and the internet is not something to be feared. It is a tool. Like money. It can be used for good, or it can be squandered. I just want it to be represented correctly.

Things I Enjoy

I feel like this blog has reflected the darker side of my life lately, as I have used it as a way to process through some difficult thought patterns. To the outsider (read: those who do not know me outside of what I blog) it may seem worse than it actually is. Because of my Recovery process I’ve been unusually introspective, as most Recovery programs unravel things in that way if one truly dives in. I know I’ve said this before, but my writing is pretty boring or non existent when things are going well, or when good things are happening. These things don’t need flushing out, or interpreting, or dissecting. They just Are, like fresh air or a sunny day.

Bryan gets on me about that. When he does something nice for me he says, “Are you going to blog that?” It’s tongue in cheek, but it’s also his way of reminding me to reflect on the good times – in writing, so they can be remembered. Because if we are fighting it’s easy to forget that we really do love each other and have a lot of fun.

Many years ago when I was going through a period of depression (though I didn’t know it at the time; only recently have I come to realize this), my best friend and room mate, who is very visual, helped me map out the peeks and valleys of my life.

On a timeline she drew with crayons, blue lines were difficult times and yellow lines were good times. On the linear trail there were often peeks and valleys. For instance, during a blue-line period there may have been yellow-peek events, and during yellow-line periods there may have been blue-valley events. Seeing my life in the perspective of color-code was encouraging during a time when I could see nothing but blue.

As of late my life has felt like a blue line, but there have definitely been many yellow-peek events along the way. In the droning on of my woes, I don’t want to lose sight of those things that have brought me joy.

Good Times
For one thing, Seattle experienced a beautiful Indian Summer, well into October. The sun and the warm temperatures provided many opportunities to play with my kids at the park, get my fall pruning done, and take walks with my family after dinner. This is my favorite time of the year and I am taking full advantage of it.

Good Imagination
I’ve been enjoying the budding imagination of my daughter. She loves to play rescue, taking turns as to who is in trouble and who does the rescuing. She’ll dangle from the slide in our back yard, her toes only inches from the ground, and cry out with exaggerated drama, “Help me! Help me!” When her friends don’t understand (or care!), she’ll stop suddenly and say, “Noah, you have to come rescue me.”

The other evening while eating a gourmet meal of Wendy’s chicken nuggets, Ruthie stacked three on top of each other like a tower, then tipped her empty cup over and covered them up. “Ladies and gentleman,” she said in her best announcer-voice, waving her hands frantically around the cup, “you will now guess which cup these chicken pieces are hiding under…” and on she went with her magic trick.

I was flabbergasted that seemingly over night my toddler has turned into a real person who pretends that all the world is her stage. I am proud of her imagination, and pray that I never do anything to squelch it.

Good Humor
The other day I took my friend’s ten year old son with me to the dog park while Ruthie was in preschool. He has a very mature sense of humor, and I was looking forward to my day with him. While sitting at a stop light and the car was quiet with my own contemplation, one of those double dump trucks passed by, the ones with the long metal rod that connects them. After it drove past, Tony deadpanned, “Sometimes I wonder, why are they so long?” Maybe you had to be there. Or maybe you have to know Tony. But his timing and tone of voice were beautifully funny, and he made me laugh.

Good Music
This has been Year of the Concert for the Zugs. We have seen Over the Rhine, The Mountain Goats, Matisyahu (me only), Bruce Cockburn, Paul Simon, and Sufjan Stevens. I’m sure there’s more, but I feel so decadent just naming these. I have come to love discovering new music that inspires me or helps me cope. I made a ‘mix tape’ of songs I listen to when I miss Gordy, and one for road trips, and I’m about to make one for worship. It’s exciting to see someone perform live, because they are who they are. Most of the music I love now was introduced to me by Bryan. You might say he rescued me from the mediocre Christian pop culture.

Good Friends
I am surrounded by people who ‘get me,’ and who have history with me. As I’ve been meeting other mothers at preschool and at the park, I am realizing how isolated the average mother feels. I am blessed with many friends who are in the same stage as myself who understand the trials of raising small children. And because we help each other out, I rarely pay for babysitting. I came across a quote once by Shakespeare, “I am wealthy in my friends.” I feel I am the wealthiest of them all.

Good Husband
He may not believe me what I say this, but I really do like Bryan. It’s because of him that I write, that I have more confidence in my art, and that I appreciate good music and good movies. He knows how to have a good time, and most of our evenings are filled with wine, and loud music, and dancing. We dance while making dinner. We enjoy our life in ways that many married couples forget about. He has continued to ‘woo’ me even after we’re married.

Things are looking up. I feel as if I’m climbing out of a hole. After yesterday’s initial disappointment, I did manage to have a good afternoon in spite of myself. I wrote an essay while the kids napped, we went to the park, and we walked to the store. I was bitter at first, but after writing about it and getting over it, I actually had a great evening. Cari is right, I am slowly breaking free of my vices. And it feels good to feel like I’m starting to deal with life in a healthy way.

Things That Happened Today

Today I fell on my ass in the middle of the street, and when I did, the digital camera I was holding hit the ground. Despite the fact that I was in pain and in danger of being run over by a car, my first reaction was to check the camera for any damage.

It was knocked into a different setting (I was walking while trying to take a picture, which is the reason I fell), but seems to still be opening, closing, and taking pictures.

Whew.

Bryan passed the Concerned Husband test, though. When I told him what happened his first question was, Are you okay? Then his second question was, Which shoes were you wearing? because he hates a certain pair of my shoes and I’m sure he wanted to blame them for my fall.

Mom and I sat in on Ruthie’s preschool class today, which is a Spanish immersion preschool. Today they counted (in Spanish), and practiced holding a pencil, and traced lines, and learned about the color amarillo. On the way home I asked my mom what she thought, and she said she liked it but wondered if maybe the teacher spoke too much Spanish?

I thought that was cute.

Things That Keep Me From Blogging.

Some friends came over to the House of Barbeque on Friday night, and one of them mentioned that she’d missed my regular blog updates. Aside from it being a busy week with Bryan home (he likes that attention, you know), I’ve been having some interesting health issues that have created a lot of fatigue. I’ve been doing a whole lot of NOTHING (including NOT cleaning my house) and going to bed early.

For about four or five years I’ve had very stiff legs and feet. When I am still for a long time, like while at a movie or working at a desk or even while sleeping, my legs and feet can barely hold my weight when I stand up. Every morning I hobble out of bed, give my legs a few minutes to get their bearings, then head down the stairs while leaning heavily on the hand rails.

I’ve always loved stretching and have tried to remain nimble, which is why this condition has irritated me. It seems no matter how much I stretch, or what kind of expensive therapeutic shoes I purchase, my legs and feet still feel painful and stiff after being still. During and after yoga I feel great, but even when I practice three times a week I am still stiff in between classes.

This weekend I became concerned as my whole body now feels stiff and achy, and my skin has that prickly tingly sensation when you touch me, almost like I have the flu. Only I have no other flu symptoms, and I feel fine other than I’m really fatigued. Ibuprofen seems to make the achiness go away so I can function, but I’m not a big fan of around the clock medication if there’s another way to treat the problem.

I finally went to see the doctor last week. I have always dismissed the pain and stiffness as side effects of my pregnancies, and then I attributed it to my depression, and then to my struggle to over come my anger problem. But now that I’m getting my mental ducks in a row and the problem seems to be worsening, I’ve decided to wage war against my decrepit body.

Decrepit. That’s really how I feel – old and decrepit. I can’t move quickly, and can’t get up and down from the floor easily, and I’m always tired. It occurred to me one day that if I feel like this at nearly-35, I’m screwed if I make it to 70. Both my parents and most of my grandparents have had healthy and active lives with very few health problems, and I’d like to continue that trend.

So, that’s an update and explanation of where I’ve been. It’s sad, really, because I have about five posts drafted either on the computer or in my head, but I haven’t had the energy to think. Hopefully I will feel better soon.

Things That Bring Stillness

I’ve been attending a yoga class at the gym once or twice a week for the last month, and today is the first time that I felt strength and confidence through the process. I’m getting the hang of it. My shoulders are feeling stronger to hold my weight, my calves are limbering up as I stretch, and I’m able to hold more of the difficult poses.

Today I was getting so into it, that as I breathed and stretched, I actually felt the urge to cry. This is not unusual for me. I often feel like crying after a good massage or a chiropractic appointment – I think it’s my body’s response to a release of tension.

I think in light of the emotional stress my own anger problems cause me, yoga has actually been a more beneficial exercise for me than a regular aerobic workout. It slows me down, causes me to be patient and content, and brings me into focus. Yoga is not a competition, or a task to complete, or even something I can do while reading the gossip magazines. I can’t multitask yoga. I have to be still in body and mind.

I’m not losing any weight, but lately none of that seems to matter, because yoga doesn’t seem to be as much about the end goal as it is about the discipline of just doing it.

Things to Have Checked Out

I’ve been having some uncomfortable digestive issues lately, which I won’t go into detail about here because I think we’ve had enough poop talk this week. But the first line of action my doctor suggested was to go on a B.R.A.T. diet to see if that eliminates the symptoms. I am also taking digestive enzymes.

Those of you without children who puke may not know this, but B.R.A.T. stands for Bananas, Rice, Apple sauce, and Toast. That’s a whole lot of NOTHIN’ to look forward to eating all day, so of course the first thing I wanted last night was chocolate chip cookies. I have never craved chocolate chip cookies SO MUCH as when someone tells me I can’t have them.

Having recently had two friends my own age diagnosed with Colon Cancer and Chrone’s Disease, I’m a little paranoid about what could possibly be wrong, especially since I have not changed any of my eating habits.

Nope. Still eating the same old crap.

But one thing did occur to me, and that is my symptoms first appeared after we spent a week camping and swimming in a lake. Is it possible a microscopic parasite leached its way into my blood stream and lodging in my intestines? Gross. But in light of Colon Cancer and Chrone’s Disease, I can only hope.

Things You May Not Have Known About Me…

Occassionally I like to use tactics to draw out my blog stalkers and try to meet the people who are reading my outer monologue. Will you induldge me this time, dear Internet?

My friend sent me this meme – she doesn’t have a blog so I can’t link her. I don’t usually do these, but this one seemed fun in a get-to-know-you sort of way. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours! Post your answers to the questions in the comments, or if you have a blog, answer them there and link to it from my comments.

Here’s mine…

Things you may not have known about me….

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Mom and wife (yeah, it’s a job. I get paid in sex, tequila, and phat electronics)
2. Assistant to … a certain swearing pastor of a large church in Seattle.
3. Assistant to … the director of a certain mentoring non profit in the area
4. Personal assistant to a family on Mercer Island (are you sensing a theme here?)

B) Four movies you would watch over and over:
1. Steel Magnolias (laughter through tears – the best kind).
2. To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (and I HAVE watched it over and over because it is so. hilarious.)
3. Strictly Ballroom
4. Any of the Pixar films (out of obligation – the kids insist)

C) Four places you have lived:
1. A certain suburb of Minneapolis which shall remain nameless for purposes of avoiding premature judgment of who I am on the inside.
2. Queen Anne, Seattle WA
3. University District, Seattle, WA
4. Where I live now.

D) Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. Entourage (HBO)
2. What Not to Wear (TLC)
3. Lost (NBC)
4. The Shield (FX) – OMG CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT SEASON FINALE???

E) Four places you have been on vacation:
1. Portland, OR – Okay, not REAL adventurous, but we stay at the Kennedy School every year WITHOUT CHILDREN, so it’s high on the priority list of vacations.
2. Cannon Beach – we go in the off season to the annual kite festival
3. Victoria, BC & Vancouver
4. where ever my family lives because they are all over the country and demand we visit once in awhile.

F) Websites you visit daily or often:
1. My bloglines.com feed because it tells me who has new posts (shameless plug – I’m not even getting paid for that) – but I’m most faithful to the blogs of people I know, the people I met at Blogher, and the people I meet through my comments and emails. I don’t really even read Dooce anymore (gasp!).

G ) Four of my favorite foods:
1. cereal
2. chocolate
3. margarita (does that count?)
4. the chocolate éclair from Claim Jumper

H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1. The Red House drinking wine and eating too much cheese
2. The Kennedy School with Bryan (See E above)
3. The Met drinking coffee and surfing the web with their free wifi
4. On my deck roasting marshmallows with all my friends

I) Friends I think will respond
1. Maryam
2. Cherie
3. Alecia (not really, but I’m daring her)
4. Stephanie

J) Favorite songs/music: (it changes all. the. time. but here’s what’s hot now)
1. India Arie
2. Bruce Cockburn
3. The Mountain Goats
4. Jack Johnson

K) Favorite Colors: (hm, the colors in my house?)
1 eggplant
2. chartreuse
3. chocolate brown
4. Red

L) Favorite Author:
1. Honestly, I don’t read anymore. I only have time for one hobby at a time.
2.
3.
4.

M) Moments I will never forget (not in any order):
1. on the phone, standing in my laundry room, hearing that Gordy had died
2. my son shooting out of my body before the doctor could arrive
3. spending the night in the hospital with a friend who needed me
4. noticing that Bryan, then a single man I had not yet met, brought an impressive mandarin almond salad to a pot luck, beating out all the yahoos who brought KFC buckets or McD’s cheeseburgers. Or nothing. The rest is history.

TAG! YOU’RE IT!

Things That Are Life Changing

About a month ago I posted about my friend who had given birth to a baby girl in need of a new heart. Zoe was born on July 2nd, and has been on the transplant list to receive a new heart since shortly after she was born. The family learned of Zoe’s heart condition at Zoe’s 20-week ultrasound in February, and in the months that followed it was determined a heart transplant was the only option for Zoe.

This evening they recieved the call they had been waiting for – a heart for Zoe has become available.

PLEASE, dear Internet, stand with me. If you pray, please pray. If you meditate, or think positive thoughts, or light a candle to remember, please do so with me as Zoe goes into surgery tonight to receive a new heart. In your thoughts and prayers, please consider these things:

– Peace for the Faultner family as they rush to prepare for this life changing event.

– Strength for little Zoe to endure the very lengthy surgery.

– Strength and wisdom for the doctors and the other medical staff, as they perform this complicated surgery.

– The donor’s family, as they are experiencing a tremendous loss at this time.

Beyond these facts, I’m a little overwhelmed at the moment to write any more. I am truly amazed at how such a thing is even possible, that two forms of life can be fused together to support each other. I will keep you posted.