Monday, December 29, 2008

I am the Hero

Of Guitar Hero, that is.

Who knew that a woman who knows nothing about rock-n-roll music would LOVE Guitar Hero? Dream of those little buttons and the strummer?

Y'all, I ROCK at Guitar Hero. I think it might be my favorite Christmas present.

We all love it. I went out to dinner with some friends tonight. When I got home, I could see H playing through the window and my heart was warmed.

So, I've asked myself. What is H's favorite Christmas present? Probably not the socks I got him. Most definitely not the bag of coal that was the gag gift for the year. Maybe his remote control helicopter. Then I realized. His favorite gift is the same as mine--and he gave it to me! He loves Guitar Hero as much as I do!!

M couldn't care less about Guitar Hero. Her favorite gift depends on the moment. She loves her playdough and will play with it for almost an hour. We're mean parents and only let her play with one color at a time. She loves her new books and has read each one several times. She loves her new kitchen and has cooked many a meal, prepared many a drink, many a snack in it. Then again, she's so proud of her new little dresses, particularly the one that matches her little cousin's. Or maybe her favorite gift is her UGA crocs from her uncle. She wore them today and was so proud.

So, it's hard to say around here. We're a pretty satisfied little family.

Any one want to challenge the Hero?


As I signed on, I realized it's My Best Shot Monday. I have tons of pictures to share, but they are all on the camera and I've got too much to do to take the time to upload and edit them, so they will continue to just sit on my camera. Maybe next week.

My life has been a little like that lately. A day late and a dollar short. Too much to do, not enough time. Not enough patience. Not enough quality time. Too much laundry, too many dishes, too much remote control button pushing.

I'm home with M again this week. I have the entire week off to spend time with her. My goal is to turn off the TV and engage with her! Have her help with the chores, have her play with the play-dough while I clean the table. Talk to her, sing with her, cuddle and read with her.

And catch up in this place, too. In between snuggles, of course.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


For those that know me, it's okay to stop laughing now. Yes, I actually cooked tonight. Not dinner, but other things.

Let me list them for you:
1. Homemade hot chocolate (Spiced Orange Hot Cocoa, to be exact--and something's not right. H is on the way to the store to buy something to fix it)
2. Tiger Bark
3. Bourbon Brown Sugar Mustard (from scratch--GO ME!!!!)
4. Breakfast Casserole for my teaching team
5. Cheese Spread
6. Cheese biscuits (My grandmother's recipe. It just doesn't feel right to make something that my grandmother is famous for!)

It only took me a record 4 hours to do all of that.

Tomorrow is our last day of school before the holidays. I always take goodies to the teachers on my floor. They are getting some Tiger Bark and Hot Chocolate. We're all bringing something yummy to eat so I made the breakfast casserole for us. Tomorrow is also Family Tradition day. That's why I made the cheese biscuits.

The mustard is for our family meal Saturday. The cheese spread is for H's Christmas party tomorrow night.

I'm going to bed now.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another Hurdle

At 12:30 today I got heard the diagnosis that I thought surely I would not hear.

"Left, yes."

Loooooong pause.

"Bilateral, yes."

How could I have been so wrong? The guilt is wrapping itself around my heart and squeezing until I almost cannot breathe. I'm the mother. I'm supposed to KNOW these things about my child.

I feel so melodramatic on top of guilty. The guilt is making things razor sharp. Every raindrop feels like a pin prick. Every light seems a thousand times too bright. Every noise vibrates painfully inside my skull.

Today, M had her VCUG. I can not tell you how many people I told I was having the test run to satisfy the doctors. "She does NOT have kidney reflux," I told a million people. "I would know. I mean, she was 2 1/2 before she had her first UTI."

My stomach is still lying on that radiology floor where I heard the news. I wanted to pick M up and run far away from there. I wanted to whisper in her ear how very, very sorry I am that I didn't think she had it. That I've put the test off for so long. That if only I'd had the test done sooner, she wouldn't have had her UTI in October. I'm so sorry, sweet girl. Mommy was so wrong.

My reaction is bigger than the actual problem. We are waiting to hear from the pediatrician, who will send us to a pediatric urologist. We happen to be going to the big city next Tuesday to see M's orthopedist, so I am hopeful we can see the urologist that morning. I don't know if it will happen, but I am hopeful.

The first treatment (and perhaps the only treatment) is antibiotics. They will keep the bacteria from growing as the urine is returned to the kidneys from the bladder. Kidney reflux is a condition that most little girls outgrow.

I am so glad I requested (maybe even demanded) sedation for this test. Even in a sedated state, M fought that catherization with every cell in her body. It took several tries to get it done so they could even begin the test. The radiology lady who was doing the test looked up and said, "I am so glad she's sedated. I can't imagine trying this if she was conscious!"

I'm going to quiet my guilt, send it back to the closet where Mommy Guilt lingers, waiting to rear its ugly head.

And then I'm going to get on the phone to make appointments for my sweet little girl.

Friday, December 12, 2008

We're here

Just a quick update:

We're here.

M is doing great. She has a dr's appt Dec. 23rd to have her cast removed. She'll have her VCUG on Tuesday, December 16th. She's just as sweet and sassy as always.

I'm doing fine. Busy, busy, busy and looking forward to Sunday when I can finally spend some quiet time with M. Maybe we'll take naps together! Special treats for both of us!

Oh, speaking of special treats--well, actually this is a digression. I'm going to TRY to get rid of the paci during our trip to my parents' house for Christmas. I told M the other day that we're goign to leave her paci at home when we go to Nona and OB's house. There was complete silence on her part, then she hesitantly said, "OK." When I told her how big she is now and how proud I am that she takes all her naps with her paci, she got a little more (umm...less hesitant?) interested. I dropped her off at her cousin's house yesterday and I said, "M, tell Aunt A what you're going to leave at home when we visit Nona and OB." She said, "I'm going to leave my paci in my crib at home." So, maybe this is our big break! We'll see. I'll give you an update in a few weeks.

That's it for now. I'm off to paint some cow spots on a bean bag toss. It might be a few days before I get back. Not that cow spot painting takes that long. Just that we have that much going on for the next few days.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


or The Mother Who Should Be Ashamed

It's been 15 days since the surgery. Guess who's doing great? M. Guess who is at the end of her rope? The mother.

Since she can't use all her energy moving around, she uses it all talking. NON-STOP. And I can't take it anymore. I want to hide in the bathroom, soaking in the tub and drinking an entire bottle of wine.

"I want donuts.
Did you hear me?
I want donuts
Mommy, are you going to buy me donuts?
Mommy, the donuts are NOT this way. They are DAT way.

Well, actually. I might have said that, but kiddo, you sure didn't hear me BECAUSE YOU NEVER TOOK A BREATH.

My response was this:

Does anyone see a pattern here?

Let me give you another example.

M: "Mommy, what are you looking for now?"
Me: "Chocolate syrup" (Oh, we're on the pancake syrup aisle)
M: "Mommy, there is syrup. There it is RIGHT there. Do you see it? Mommy, you are walking past the syrup. The syrup was back dere. It is not this way. You are going the wrong way.
Mommy, you are still going the wrong way. Mommy, do you know where the syrup is? It was WAY back dere. You need turn around. Turn around RIGHT NOW."
M: *when we finally find the chocolate milk* "Mommy, you tricked me. You DID know where the chocolate syrup is! OH!"

Or this:
On our way out of the grocery store into drizzly rain.
"Mommy, I not allowed to get my cast wet. Do you know where our car is? I don't see our car. Do you remember where you put it? Mommy, are you listening to me? Do you hear me? Don't let that rainy sky get on me. You need cover me up. Put those foods on my leg so the water doesn't get near it. Find our car NOW. I NEED GET IN MY CAR. DO YOU KNOW WHERE OUR CAR IS? Put me in my car before you put the foods in the car. I wait QUIETLY. GET OUR CAR. YOU LOST OUR CAR. I TELL DADDY YOU LOST OUR CAR. DADDY GET MAD AT YOU. PUT ME IN OUR CAR NOW!!!!"

My aggravated response:
"Daddy will NOT be mad at me. He is going to be upset with YOU for being so unkind to Mommy. You need to use KIND WORDS TO MOMMY. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?????? Mommy doesn't want your cast to get wet either. I'm hurrying AS FAST AS I CAN (to get us home, I think to myself). You need to be PATIENT."

As I shove humble pie in my own mouth. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Perhaps I should be patient. Oh, and maybe talk a little more to her. The conversation might not escalate if I responded to her a little earlier.

I'm going to pour myself a hefty glass of wine to have with my humble pie. And I might decorate the Christmas tree when I'm a little calmer.

Only 19 more days. I can do this. I CAN DO THIS.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Good News

I just got a phone call from M's pediatrician's office. I'm hot and cold with them. I always like the ped and wish he would leave to open his own office. The office staff is iffy most of the time. I usually like the nurse who takes calls for him, but the rest of the staff...ah, give or take them. Ahhh, but I digressed because I'm so excited, in a weird, only mom could be excited sort of way.

WAAAAAYYYYY back in April when M was in the hospital with the UTI problem, they wanted us to have a test called a VCUG to make sure M doesn't have a kidney reflux problem. I refused the test. I thought she just had a UTI that we didn't clear up, etc., etc.

The other MAJOR reason I refused the test is because it requires that M be cathed again. The mother in me IS.NOT.GOING.THERE.AGAIN. My sweet girl was cathed at least 4 times, if not 5, in a span of less than 6 days in April. She screamed every time I changed her diaper when we got home from the hospital. I couldn't do that to her again.

Fast forward to Halloween evening. Remember the phone call at 7:30 that evening claiming that M had yet another UTI? Sometime between that evening and the scheduling of her surgery, M's pediatrician's office has called several times. They tried to schedule the VCUG at the same time as her tendon transfer surgery, but we couldn't coordinate that.

Monday evening the nurse called from the ped's office. She wanted to see if I'd schedule the VCUG and she'd somehow missed it. No, I replied. I then asked if there is any way we can sedate M when she has the test done so she's loopy and out of it. When I explained the situation, the nurse completely agreed with me. Today she called me back and....

*drum roll, please*

THEY WILL SEDATE HER FOR THE VCUG! Our nurse said she'd NEVER heard of them agreeing to this before, but when they heard about our situation, THEY AGREED! It will just be some relaxation medication, not general anesthesia, but that is fine with me. As long as M is comfortable and not completely aware of reality, I'm fine with this!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas Card Photo Shoot

On a whim (actually, a hope and a prayer!), I took M to meet some friends at a local collage to take Christmas card pictures by the lake. The sun was setting, so we were SHORT on time. Thankfully, M was cooperative. I think I took about 60 of her playing around. Too bad I had the incorrect white balance for atleast 20 of them!

I LOVE this picture. I really like it in bw, but it lacks some depth. It seems rather "shallow" when I convert it. If I crank up the contrast, the lightest portions blow out and the darker portions become too dark. I'm going to keep working on it.

Another favorite, but my white balance wasn't right, so it's too dark. When I work on it in PSE, it helps, but I'm not crazy about the technical aspects of it.

M has had ENOUGH picture taking. Actually, not. She was playing around. I've seen this face a lot recently, though.

Just wanted to show off the cast. Many people didn't realize how encompassing the cast is. Thsoe are her sweet little piggies poking out of the bottom and the cast is nearly up to her hip.
A sweet story: When we were done taking pictures, an older couple walked by. I'd left M on this bench while the other kids and I took some pictures on a bridge several feet away. We all walked toward M together. The older lady noticed her and commented on her cast. She asked what happened (in a kind, not nosey way) and I told her she'd had some reconstructive surgery on her foot. I was going to leave it at that, but I noted that the lady wanted more information, so I proceeded to explain about the club foot, blah, blah, blah. Well, it turns out that her husband is a retired orthopedist! He knew all about club feet, the surgery, everything! He even knew one of our previous orthopedists! This is a small, small world.
I might post pictures of the other cute kiddos tomorrow, with their mommy's permission. It is certainly much harder to capture two than it is one!

Monday, November 24, 2008

In Love

I am completely in love with something new.

Not completely new.

Probably not new to you.

Actually, not new to me either.

Wanna know what it is?


Yeah, yeah, okay. So, you, yourself, have probably bought something important like your house or your car or even your spouse on e-bay. But I'm an e-bay novice. I've never really been good at it before. I would get caught up in the moment and before I knew what I was doing, I spent WAY.TOO.MUCH. on something that I didn't even really need.

Until this weekend.

H wants a items for Christmas. Not that one or even two by themselves would be so bad, but almost every single thing on his list is over $50. Sorry, buddy, but that adds up a little too quickly in Natalie's already-stretched-to-the-max budget. I knew he was looking at e-bay for some kind of ear-talkie-thingie for our new cell phones (blue something?). So, I thought I'd check out e-bay for a few of his Christmas gifts.

Did you know that you can buy NEW things on e-bay? Not every thing is used!
Did you know that you can get some KICKIN' prices on e-bay if you are patient? That's not one of my stronger character traits, by the way. But I'm working on it.

Within the past 18 hours, M has scored herself three new dresses--for less than $30, INCLUDING SHIPPING!!! One is a precious hand-made pillow case dress for Christmas. One is a totally cute Gymboree sweater dress. And the last is a smocked House of Hatten dress that is TO DIE FOR. I can't wait to get them in the mail. I bought some fabric today to make M another pillow case dress if I can figure it out from the one that is coming.

I know you may be wondering about H. Not to worry. I'm staying mum on those, just in case he decides to check our family blog. I never know if he's checking this or not. Every now and then, he'll say, "So, you wrote about ----- on the blog?" IF he scores anything great for Christmas, I'll post about it on Dec. 26th and not one moment before.

Better run. One of my auctions is almost over. I might be winning something else!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Making History

**Warning! Warning**
This post is NOT a patient update on the Queen of the Benson Household! (Although she is doing fine and has not had any pain medication today!! Praise the Lord!)

H and I are making history over here at the Benson household. We are almost done with our Christmas shopping. *collective gasp of shock*

Yes, friends, I know it's a never-before-heard-of phenomenon. We're the last minute kind of people. I know this year will be no different--we'll still be picking up treasures at the last minute. But the BULK of it...most of it...almost ALL of it is done.

Now the debate is this: to get up early on Black Friday or not. To shop or not to shop. That is the debate. (For my friends who are not in the US: Black Friday is the day after our Thanksgiving. It's one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, shopping day of the year. Most of the stores in the US have huge sales that start before the sun considers rising. Some people stand in line for hours before the stores open to get the best sales.)

What are YOUR plans on Black Friday?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Patient Update

Frustration set in this morning, as we all knew it would. We weren't sure when it would hit, but we knew it was coming.

H was sweet enough to get up with M this morning so I could sleep in a little. A little turned in to 2 extra hours of sleep for me! Thank you, H!!!!

When I finally emerged from my slumber, M was...agitated. We couldn't really engage her in anything. She was tired of watching TV, but when I turned the TV off, there was a temper tantrum. She asked for a cinnamon roll, but when I gave it to her, she was screaming because that's NOT what she wanted.

After we were done with the cinnamon roll she DID NOT want, I brought her a few toys to play with at the table. That lasted for a little while, but not very long.

I put her on the floor. Truthfully, I wasn't really sure what else to do with her. She didn't want me in her face trying to engage her. She wasn't really interested in her toys.

"Can I dance?" she asked.
(insert Mommy's heart breaking)
"No, sweetie. Your cast is on and you can't dance."
"Oh. Can I go in there and listen to my music louder?"
"Sure. Want me to carry you?" my voice trails off as I watch her scoot herself across the floor toward the office where the music is playing.
"No, Mommy. I take myself there."

Ahhh...frustration dissipated just like that. She found a way to move herself! She doesn't have to ask me to move her every time she wants to move. For the past hour and a half, she's happily (did you read that...HAPPILY!) moved herself from one quiet activity to another. She's worn out now and asked for a snack and a movie. As much as I want to turn the TV off, I know her stamina isn't very high yet. And darnnit...she worked hard for over an hour! If she wants a snack and some snuggle time, I think she earned it!

After naps today, we're going to try to run a few errands. If she's up for it. If not, they can wait. But it might do us both good to get out of the house for a couple of hours.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gritting Teeth

Whew...24 hours post op care under my belt! What an interesting day!

M had a GREAT morning. She hung out on the couch. When she was ready to move to the chair and sit up , she screamed at me, "Mommy! CAN YOU MOVE ME TO THE CHAIR, PLEASE?" Not a big deal, but I was only standing about 2 feet away from her. Really. There was no reason to scream at me.

She wanted to color in her new book from Nona and OB, so I brought her bag of crayons to her. Again, I was standing about 2 feet away from her (granted, my back was turned to her) when she decided to draw "smiley faces" all over herself. Each cheek was covered, her chin was covered, she even drew them on her chest. To those of us that are not 3 year old art critics, it looked more like a huge green mess than smiley faces, but then art is in the eye of the beholder. (Pictures coming of this). When I asked what in the world she had done, she replied in her sweetest voice, "Mommy, I just drew smiley faces all over me!"

I decided it was time for bed tonight when I was holding M. Out of nowhere, she grabbed my ears in her fists, put her face in mine with nice nose to nose contact, gritted her teeth and said,

Drugs make kids say the darndest things. I just hope they make her sleep well tonight.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Today was truly a medical miracle. God orchastrated a perfect day for our family. We left home this morning at 9:30, ready for whatever the day held. I was calm (for the first time in many days), M was in a precious mood this morning, H was anxious, but laid back.

We arrived on time at 11:15. Just a few minutes later, we were registered. A few minutes after that, we had a room. M asked for a snack a few times, but was easily distracted.

What did we do while we waited?

We played with Bear--who had a matching bracelet!

We fed M's new baby. She was particularly hungry, so she had "Watsa bottles, Mommy! Watsa bottles!" (I think she meant lots of bottles!)

We wore M's new "doctor hat." Does she look like an anxious child? She was like this ALL morning. Smiling, sweet, cooperative. If the surgery hadn't been looming over our heads, I'd venture to say it was one of the best mornings we've ever had!

The nurse came in around 1:15 to give M some "happy medicine" to make her less anxious and send her to a la-la land so she wouldn't mind leaving us.

1:30: They came to take her away. She did great. She climbed right up in the bed, covered herself up, put her hat on and let them take her away. I was told she would come back about 3 hours later.

2:50ish: The doctor came in to tell me everything looks great.

What do you think? I think she looks great! They brought her back to me around 3:50. She was doing marvelously! She was inquisitive, sweet, cuddly. We played a few games of memory, fed her baby a few more bottles, ate a popsicle, drank two box drinks.

M isn't too keen on her cast. Her nurse asked her to wiggle her toes, which she did. When the nurse left the rom, M said, "I wiggled my toes. Take this thing OFF me." A few minutes later she told me it was too tight. Then she tried to push it off with her other foot and told me, "It TUCK. MOMMY! IT TUCK ON MY YEG!!!!!"

During one of her vital checks, her heart rate was a little elavated, so they gave her some more pain meds. Next check, it was back down. We were dismissed around 5:00.

Here she is! Practicing her Queen-Mobile pose. Our wagon here is decorated. Check out the green/red cast! My kids at school gave me the idea of a decorated cast. I'll have to share that sweet story soon.

The ride home was the worst part of the day. We were about 15 minutes away from the hospital when M started vomiting. We pulled over to clean her up and get re-situated. She threw up several times on the way home. She was so brave and strong, though. Whenever she thought she was going to be sick, she grabbed the cup. After the first big mess, she didn't mak any more messes! The saddest thing is she threw up all over her snuggles. Aunt L, she is sleeping with the sweet green blanket you made for her when she was a baby!!!

I'm going to have to buy her some nightgowns. She's always been a pj kind of girl, but her cast is too big to fit in her pjs! When I was changing her for bed, she started grabbing the cast, saying, "Take it off now, Mommy. I go sleep. Take it off me." She was NOT happy with me when I put her to bed with it on! She told me she couldn't put her leg down. All is quiet in her room now, so she must have figured something out.

Thank you so much for your prayers today. We wouldn't have made it through the day without your love and support. M was a model patient, H was laid back, and I was fairly calm. God certainly answered all our prayers.

ETA: It's 4:09 a.m. on the eastern coast. M woke up a few minutes ago crying for her snuggles, which were still in the washing machine. I'm waiting on them to dry now. Poor girl. After I pacifid her with a baby blanket, she said, "My yeg is all hurting. Take this hard thing off!" I gave her some of the good stuff. I think she's drifted off to the land of nod once again.


We're home.

Will post more in a few hours.


Sunday, November 16, 2008


M has three freckles on her face.

Completely irrelevant. I know.

As I stare into the face of this scary (for me) surgery, I'm focusing on the most irrelevant things.

Three freckles on her face.
Where to spend the night post op.
How to decorate her wagon (aka The Queen-Mobile).

I'm scared to ask what this "head in the sand" mentality says about me.

Oh, and I'm completely obsessed with my mother's colonoscopy tomorrow. They live three hours away. My mind is racing, "Should I be there? Do they need me? Should I pack a bag in case I need to go quickly?" Irrelevant!!!! My dad is perfectly capable of handling this. My mother is amazing and will handle this with grace and dignity, the way she handles everything.

Did I mention M has three freckles on her face? One between her lip and her left nostril. One above her left eye brow. One near her left ear.


I sure would appreciate your prayers right now. I'm having a hard, hard, hard time letting go of this and RELYING on The One Who is in Control. He is stronger and bigger than my worry, but I can't quite seem to go to Him. I'm holding on to this real tight right now, clutching it to my chest.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Anxiety Update

I'm trying so hard to remain calm about M's upcoming surgery.

Right now my heart is RACING. I feel light headed. There is something about being the mommy that makes me want to control every single aspect of this surgery. And I'm not in control at all!

Tonight at 6:40, my phone rang. Oh, I mean, MY CELL PHONE rang. As we were on our way to the local pizza parlor (you know, the one with all you can eat and a bazillion out-of-control-kids) to support my school, the phone call that I expected before 5:00 came in. Didn't occur to me that these nurses worked all hours of the day and night calling and returning phone calls to explain to and calm down parents of upcoming surgery patients.

"Mrs. Benson, this is the nurse from ----Children's Hospital. I'm calling about M's surgery. You are mom, right?"

(Insert heart in throat) "Yes, this is Natalie. I'm M's mother."

"M's surgery is scheduled for 2:00 in the afternoon on the 19th. You'll need to be at the hospital at 11:15."

WHAT???? (Out of control Mommy here)

"Ma'am, do you mean 11:15 in the morning? As in, I've got to bring a little kid who HASN'T EATEN since midnight the evening before?"

"Yes, ma'am. It's not going to be an easy day for you all. Do you have another adult you can bring with you to help you?"

And then we proceeded to talk for about 20 minutes about the surgery, the post op care, spending the night in the city the evening before vs. the evening after, how do we try to get to spend the night at the hospital, tips for entertaining her at the hospital.

She was one of the nicest nurses I've ever talked to. She must be a mom, because she anticipated my questions before I could ask them. She gave me some great ideas--get her a new toy to play with while she's waiting. Bring her snugglies so she can have them when she goes into the OR and they will be there when she wakes up. She gave us a pretty good idea of how long we'll be there post op.

Now, friends, help us decide. I'm torn about what to do post op. The hospital is right at an hour and a half away from our house. Should we make arrangements to spend the night near the hospital AFTER the surgery or should we just tough it out and come home? We might leave the hospital as early as 6:30, but it could be considerably later (as in several hours). What do you think? Part of me thinks we should just come on home. Part of me hates to put her through the car ride home after such a long day.

Be still my racing heart.

Trust with all your heart, mind, and soul. Know that He is in control.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


"I need go bathroom."

"Okay, go."

"Can I close the door?"


"Can I close the door?"


"Can. I. Close. The. Door? I need my PRIBACY." with a three year old.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


At 10:40 am today, God completely convicted me of my lack of faith in Him. I was all worked up because the surgery coordinator had STILL not called me back. People, we're talking surgery on MY BABY here. Let's get this ball rolling! My co-teachers encouraged me to call the surgery coordinator again, despite leaving two messages.

When a voice answered on the other end, I was almost speechless.

"Hi, my name is Natalie Benson and I'm calling--"

"You must be psychic! I am holding your daughter's paperwork right here in my hand. I was going to call you when my phone rang."

Guess who's in charge here--NOT ME!

"When do you want to schedule this thing?" she asked.

"I'd love to do it before the end of the year because we've already met our deductible for M."

Silence. Longer silence. "Hmm...let me see." Snapping of fingers. "I know! I just took a patient off the books for November 19th. How does that work for you?"

Speechless, yet again. I'm never speechless so to be that way twice in less than 30 seconds is pretty unusual. I was so dumbfounded that I couldn't even think of what day of the week November 19th is! "Yes, yes," I stuttered. "We'll take it." (like it's a prize offering!) What if I HAD spoken with her yesterday? The November 19th patient might not have canceled their surgery yet and there might not have been a slot for us. God is in control. He is sovereign.

I proceeded to tell her about M's little UTI problem and our needing to have the kidney reflux test--was there anyway we could do it all at the same time she's asleep?

God answers prayers, people. He really and truly does.

This lady, who bore the brunt of my anger yesterday, called the children's hospital to find out how to set it up. She then called me back, with specific directions on how to proceed.

I've talked to M's pediatrician, who supports my decision to try to have it all done at once and is trying to coordinate with the hospital to make it happen for us.

Did I mention the hospital and orthopedist are in another city, nearly an hour and a half away? And we're trying to coordinate two very different procedures to happen at the same time???

Miracle. Real life, present day miracle.

Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

When things were easier

Do you remember a time when things were easier? Perhaps childhood when you knew to head home when the streetlights came on? Perhaps in college when you just had to study, attend class and hang out with friends? Life before kids? Life before marriage?

At this point in my life, I'd give anything to head back to that place where things were easier.

"No, NO!" (fingers pointed, voice emphatic, confident even) M's version of easier. When we were trick-or-treating Friday evening, if something frightened M, she'd point her finger at it and proclaim, "No, NO!" The first No a bit timid, the second NO with conviction.

I'm finding this approach doesn't work as well for me.

At 7:30 Friday evening, my cell phone rang. The caller ID indicated the call was coming from M's pediatrician's office. Yes, at 7:30 ON A FRIDAY EVENING. As I hesitantly answered it, I heard the words I dread every time we head to the peds office. "Mrs. Benson, we just got the results from M's urine sample you dropped off this morning. It seems she's got ANOTHER urinary tract infection."

My response? "No, NO!" I'm frightened. I'm upset for her. I'm super thankful we just happened to drop off a long overdue urine sample that very morning, before she was symptomatic and hurting. I want this to go away and never plague her again. I don't want to deal with this when we're dealing with an upcoming foot surgery that I barely understand.

I called the orthopedist office not once today, but twice, and haven't heard back from them. I was told to wait one week to call to schedule the surgery to make sure the surgery orders arrived on the surgery coordinator's desk. Did she call me back today? (Dearest surgery coordinator...if you happen to read this blog, forgive me and don't hold my apprehension against M and postpone her surgery.) NO, SHE DID NOT. What??? That's HER JOB. "No, NO!" I want to tell her. Don't make me wait any longer to schedule this. We MUST do it before the end of the year because we've already met M's deductible. Not to mention, I've prepared myself emotionally for this. Let's get it on the books before my apprehension REALLY takes over. We don't even want to talk about how we've been preparing M for this. Let's get this show on the road.

I only wish "No, NO!" worked as well for me as it did for M. Each time she said it, she became a little more sure of herself and a little less scared of the world.

I wonder what would happen if I stared muttering "No, NO!" under my breath when I needed a little confidence?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hurry up and wait

Today was the big dreaded doctor's appointment. All the dreading was for nil. It was the biggest anti-climatic appointment I think I've ever had. And it was for M!

Today, I thought we would have a big meeting to discuss surgery, plan surgery, plan post-op care, etc, etc, etc.

H took off half the day to go with us because we had to travel to meet with the doctor at his main office.

Surgery is not scheduled. We have to wait one week to CALL and schedule the surgery date. Um..why did no one tell me this when I was rearranging the schedule of half the United States of America to go see the doctor today????? Why didn't we just schedule the surgery when I called for this appointment??? Oh, well. I really, completely trust this doctor, so I feel that there is a reason for the hurry up and wait.

Do I really understand the surgery? Not so much. I know the doctor is going to rearrange a tendon and attach it with some type of arrow-device to a bone. She will have this device for the rest of her life, but it will not interfere with anything and it will fix her club foot.

After that, I don't really know much at all. She'll be in a cast from her foot to above her knee for 3-4 weeks (I believe he called this a permanent cast), during which time we'll transport her in a wagon or her stroller. Fun times are comin', people. REAL.FUN.TIMES. Then, we think we understood the doctor to say she'll spend 3-4 additional weeks in a temporary cast, which we hope will allow her to walk. Then she'll be back in regular shoes!! Oh, how I dream of brown and navy mary janes!!!!

After the surgery, no physical therapy, which is good. He did say, "Look at her. She's so healthy. There is no way you'll be able to keep her down." That's a huge compliment to us and to her. As apprehensive as I am about this surgery and the next few months, I know, in the end, this is the best thing for her. Taking care of this residual club foot at 3 years old is going to be MUCH better than ignoring it until she's 7 or 10 or forever, and preventing her from doing all that she wants.

So, we are a little disappointed by the appointment--just because we wanted to know more, to be closer to the end. Instead of taking one (or five) steps forward, we just took a sidestep. We are not closer, but no farther behind.

We'll just hurry up and wait some more.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Best Shot(s)

After many weeks away, here are my best shots from this weekend.

Technically, the most fun. I'm always a tad envious when someone captures an unusual "pose" or angle. I was excited when I got this one. I LOVED that M wanted to wear her giraffe boots with her party costume. I love the pumpkin at the bottom of the picture to always remind us that this was the pumpkin fall festival party. I love the orange tutu peeking at the top of the picture. I think this is one of my recent favorites.

What's not to love of a birthday girl who is LOVING all the attention? Everyone was singing to her and she was glancing around like a queen on parade. If you look closely, you can see food smeared all over her chin. About 2 minutes after she blew out her candles, she said, "Can I PWEASE take off this coshtume NOW????"

There is nothing technically great about this image, but I LOVE that my entire family was here and we all took a picture together. It was really my parents' idea. I was too braindead by that point in the day to have many ideas at all, much less a good one like a group picture. But I was able to set up the tripod, set the timer and capture a few good pictures. My favorite one from the family photo shoot is the one I grabbed when I was setting up the image. Zach, my brother directly to my right was texting on his cell phone. My mom was looking at the baby. Lindsay, my sister-in-law (in the blue) was fixing her hair, Trey, my brother on the far right, wasn't paying one bit of attention, H, beside me, was standing at attention, like a good photographer's spouse. It's hilarious.
Give me some feedback on the first image. I'd love some technical help. Any PSE ideas? Photographers advice? Try it in b&w? Layer it with some texture? I'm ready to explore my photography again and really spend some time improving my limited skills.
For other (more talented) MBS, visit Tracey. Maybe she's got something fun brewing over there. I've set aside a good hour Monday evening to indulge in some blog surfing to see what everyone else posts. I hope you'll join me!

Set your TiVo or DVR

M has a doctor's appt in Atlanta Tuesday (all prayers would be SO appreciated, but more about that later), so we'll be setting our DVR to record Oprah.

I'll admit that I loved Oprah in my pre-motherhood days. I would rush home from school to catch it or stay at school and watch it while I worked. Now, I rush to pick M up and get on with our day.

But Tuesday is super special. Eliot's story will be aired Tuesday. Matt and Ginny, his parents, had the privilege of raising an amazing son for 100 days. Oprah is doing an episode on Miracle Children. Eliot is the only child who is no longer alive, yet he is included. His story is a miracle. Matt and Ginny, who is a sorority sister of several of my friends, have faith that will bring you to your knees. I encourage you to read his blog. Read Eliot's story.

So, please set your TiVo or DVR or sit down and watch it live.

Oh, get a box of kleenex first. You'll need it, trust me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Reap what you sow

Preparing for a birthday party takes hard work.

Hard work by Daddy and birthday girl.

Hard work by Mommy (and dear friend Susie--a million thanks, Suz!)

But every single second of the hardwork was worth it for this moment.

The birthday party was a great success. M had a great time and was doing great until it was time to open presents. She even got a few open before falling apart. We bribed her to finish opening them, which she did. This afternoon and evening, she had a great time looking through all of her new stuff.

I think her friends had a good time, too. We had games set up like a festival. When the children arrived, they made their goodie bags at the bottom of the driveway. The games were set up on one side of the yard. As they finished playing the games, they earned prizes for their goodie bags (caramel apples, chocolate suckers, bubbles and toys). After they played the games, they played in M's play area, ate lunch, sang happy birthday and had cucpakes (seen above--made from scratch!!!!). Most left while we were opening presents. I'm proud to say that we stayed mostly on schedule.

I'm glad birthdays only come once a year. We had fun getting ready, but it was SUPER hard work. This weekend marks the end of our busiest month in a long, long time. I'm looking forward to some down time for everyone around here.

Thanks for all the well wishes as we prepared for the big day. You were right: it was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Had a good day?

So glad to report that my sweet M is back, although three is turning out to be a tad more difficult than two was. There is more limit pushing, more sassiness, more "big girl" behaviors. It sort of takes my breath away.

We're frantically busy around here as we prepare for the big birthday party this weekend. I doubt I'll be posting or reading much until next week. I hope all is well in your bloggy-world and in your reality. I look forward to catching up when all is said and done and we've had long naps.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Had a bad day?

You know that song, "Had a Bad Day?"

M had a day like that.

Today was a huge Jazz Festival that I've been preparing for all week. As in, enlisting the help of multiple friends to cut fabric, watch my child, sitting at the sewing machine for hours, asking H to cut dangly thread. You get the idea. (Pictures and more information about the Jazz Festival will be posted soon)

All week, I've been talking to M about how I needed her help today. How she was going to be such a big girl and help sell some of Mommy's fun sewing. ETC, ETC, ETC. She acted so excited at the thought of being my helper and doing fun things.

Apparently, the Jazz Festival wasn't so fun for her. Someone (thing) came in the middle of the night and took away my sweet, easy-going, most-of-the-time-obedient child and put in her place a demon-child.

Friends, let me tell you. It was UGLY. U.G.L.Y. UGLY. Uglier than ugly. She pulled on my clothes. She screamed my name whenever I spoke with ANYONE. She needed to visit the port-a-potty twice in less than 10 minutes. She spilled hot chocolate all over herself. She insisted she was hungry, but when given food, threw it away. She was told not to mess with my sweet friend's jewelry, but then messed with it NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE. (We're talking more than touching...bending, moving, flipping over) She tried, repeatedly, to crawl under Aub's table to hide, or play with the beads on the table cloth, or whatever it was she was doing on the ground. She put my jacket on the ground and stomped all over it. She put HER sweater on the ground and stomped all over IT. She threw everything that was in my chair on the ground, curled up in and it and told me she was tired. When I walked over to her to comfort her, she screamed at me, got up and marched off. We had to make a trip behind the bushes for some corrective discipline.

M had a bad day. Mommy had a bad day.

I'm praying that overnight, my sweet M is returned to me. That the demon child that inhabited her little body today is gone and my sweet girl is back in a few hours.

Monday, October 13, 2008

7 Years of (bitter)Sweetness

Seven years ago today I said, "I do" to my one-and-only, my greatest man, my heart throb.

How in the world could I have predicted this roller coaster we've been on? I wouldn't trade one single second of this breath-taking journey. Not a single nanosecond.

Despite my actions, every single day, I'm glad I'm married to you. There is no one else on this earth I'd rather spend my life with.

Seven years ago, could you have imagined all the joy we've had together? All the moments of laughter? All the little secrets that only we know? All the forgiveness? Did you imagine our lives with M? I didn't. I couldn't.

Our lives together have been so much MORE than I could have imagined. I couldn't imagine the late nights playing games and laughing until I hiccuped. The moments of complete togetherness when we just know--whatever it is that we know. The highs have been so much higher. We are capable of so much more, together, than I ever dreamed we would be.

Our lives together have been so much harder than I thought, too. Struggling to find the money to pay the bills in the early years. Struggling to align our steps with each other. I never thought I'd lose two of our babies. I never thought we'd struggle with misunderstanding each other in our grief. I never imagined pain so deep that lasted so long. I never imagined door-slamming, screaming arguments. The lows have been so much lower than I imagined. But, my sweetheart, I wouldn't want to find comfort in any one's arms but yours.

Seven years. Did you think we'd make it this long? Did you REALLY think we could? Seven years ago, I remember meeting someone, casually, who had been married 10 years. I remember thinking to myself, "Ten years??? That's possible?" Ten years sounded like a lifetime. Now that seven years have passed so quickly, I see that ten years is nothing. We're going to make that--and so many more.

We have so many memories yet to make. We have so many experiences just waiting on us. On us to do them together, hand in hand.

Grab my hand--we've got some things to do. Happy 7th anniversary, H. I love you a so much more, so much deeper, today than I did 7 years ago. I can't wait to see what the next 7 bring...and the next 7 after that and even after that.

I love you.

My Best Shot

My little M had a big birthday yesterday. We took her away for the weekend to "her mountain" where there is a little village, a train, and a historic town complete with a petting zoo with sheep and goats. M was so excited to see the animals. It was all she could talk about. It was another story when we actually got in the fence. She would have NOTHING to do with the animals. Then she discovered this little guy. He stole her heart. They whispered secrets to each other for quite a while. She wouldn't pet him, but she sure enjoyed talking to him. I have hundreds of pictures I could post for MBS, but I just love this one of a heart-to-heart between a goat and my child.

I can't wait to see other MBS.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

3 Years Older

Dearest M,

Three years ago today, right this moment, you were 4 hours old. You were the tiniest, squeakiest, squishiest, most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. Today, you are the most animated, funniest, opinionated 3 year old I know. I'm amazed by how much you've grown and changed. You're in a strange place between baby-hood and little-girl-hood. You still want your snuggles at nap and bed times. You still want to be held and carried. You still want to drink out of a sippy cup. On the other hand, you say things like, "Mom…(long pause) I was talking to Daddy." Or "Mom, I don't like (fill in the blank)" as if I should know and realize this particular thing about you. "I can do it myself" is a phrase your daddy and I hear ALL THE TIME around our house.

Today when people asked how old you are, you responded, "Three years older."

How did you get this way? How is it possible that you changed SO MUCH in just three short years? I tried so hard to savor each moment with you, yet somehow, so much has slipped by, unnoticed. When did your vocabulary become so diverse? When did you learn so many songs? When did you decide what you like and don't like? How did I miss all that? How could I possibly miss that baby I knew morphing into this amazing toddler who knows so much? How in the world can I keep up with who you are becoming?

I love you, precious girl. I love every single thing about you. I love the never-ceasing talking. I love that sweet singing. I love the bazillion questions…even the ones I've answered 100 times.

I love you when you're like this.

And I love you when you're like this.


Mommy (AKA Mom)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hibernating in my busy-ness

Seems strange to say hibernating in my busy-ness, but that's what I seem to be doing. Wrapping it around myself like a cozy, comfortable blanket. So much has been going on. I'm aware of how much just by listening to the Presidential Debate going on behind me. I'm so out of touch that I'm truly not even worried about the economy right now. I'm too busy to be worried about money I don't have-and most definitely will not have if this economic crisis continues!

Along with this cozy busy-ness wrapped around myself, a heavier blanket of sadness is wrapping itself around me, suffocating me, almost. When I arrived at school Monday morning, I learned the devastating news that one of my former students died. I can not begin to describe how my heart breaks for her mother and her younger sisters. I'm reminded over and over again that this life is NOT OUR OWN. Every day that we are granted is a blessing from above.

It pains me to say God is in control. God ordained this. God decided the precise moment this precious child would take her last breath. Just as God knew how long each baby would live in my womb. I don't want to acknowledge that God designed those things for His own glory. I want to fling every imaginable items on this table at the walls and scream about injustice; about pain; about LOSING SOMETHING YOU LOVE; about SUFFERING; about yearning for something you can never have again. I can not, for one single second, tell you how much it hurts me to admit that my God, my Heavenly Father, the God of LOVE, knows how much we hurt and yet allows us to do so. In our darkest hour of pain and suffering only He can sustain us. I know this moment is not about me. I know that my pain and heartache is not the nucleus of all of pain and suffering in this world. But from my own hurt, I understand the heartache of a mother who just lost her oldest daughter. It is because my own mommy heart has cried out in the agonized cry of loss that I carry the tiniest burden of this other mother. From the core of my own sadness, I cry for this mother who has loved her daughter for just 3 weeks shy of 15 years.

It might be a few more weeks until I can shed these blankets in which I am cocooned. I'm living in a place of lists right now. Ordered tasks that must be completed before moving on. Simplify is not happening at the Benson house right now. What is the opposite? Busy-fy? Over commit? Fill-every-moment with must-be-dones? Tonight, for 2 hours, I put everything aside and made castles with blocks on the floor with M, threw the ball with the dog and laughed until I cried at the funny things M did and said. That is the only thing that makes the busy-ness and sadness bearable.

Oh, and when you're having one of those hectic, too busy to really live moments (or months), feel free to make up your own words, too. It lightens the load a bit!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sigh of Relief

Today was supposed to be another packed, every-moment-there-is-something-to-do kind of day. Then through a series of unrelated events, it's turned out to be a quiet, stay in your pj's all morning kind of day.

I've got some stuff to do around here and then some shopping (I hope) to do. My parents will be here around lunch time, so we're just going to hang out, play some games, relax--exactly what this family needs after several weeks of whirlwind activities.

Just so you don't forget what sweet M looks like, here are some SOOC pics for your enjoyment. This is her "Mama's gonna take a picture and I don't like it" face. Nice, huh?


I hope you are sitting in your pajamas right now, relaxing, and enjoying a quiet Saturday with your family.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


We teach M biblical and theological truths by teaching her catechism questions. We're working on a question "Can God do all things?" The response is "God can do all his Holy will." In Sunday School, we teach that all things happen according to the will of the Lord.

Yesterday M said, "Mommy, I'm going to get a baby at my house."
Shocked, I said, "You are? Where is that baby going to come from?"
"Well, from God."
"You are right. God does give families babies to love, but only in His perfect time."
Sigh. "Yes, Mommy, I knowed that. But God's Holy will is for me to have a baby at my house. And he's going to sleep in my crib and I'm going to sleep in my big girl bed. And he's going to wear baby diapers, but not me because I a big girl now. And I read my fravorite stories to he." (and on and on and on)

Out of the mouths of babes.

Later, I asked if this baby was going to be a boy or a girl, a brother or a sister.
"Oh, he's going to be my very own baby shister."

That's right, friends. God is going to send us a baby boy that will be M's little sister.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Having difficulty simplifying

When you were little, did you spin around and around until the world continued to spin even when you stood still?

That's me right now. I'm standing still watching the kaleidoscope of my life spin around me: motherhood, wife-hood, school, friendships, hobbies, responsibilities. I'm having trouble finding joy in any of it because there is SO MUCH OF IT. There is not one moment to sit and cook with M. There is disciplining to do, teach-able moments, hush-and-let-me-finish-this moments. Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork to do at school. Then there is the school program and sewing for it. And then there is...on and on.

H and I need to sit down together and prune away some of the excess. We need to find time to be together as a family without outside pressures. We need to find a way to connect again.

I'm always surprised when I find myself in this situation, where my life is overrun by, well, by life. When the down time arrives at 11:00 at night and not one moment before. When my feet hit the feet running before 7:00 a.m. and the day stretches before me, screaming for every minute. I'm always surprised when I look at the calender and realize that EVERY SINGLE EVENING HAS BEEN BOOKED for more than 3 weeks.

And I wonder why M misbehaves??? She wants her mama!

The kaleidoscope is most definitely beautiful. The colors and textures are most pleasing to the eye. But it's time to slow down. Time to be still. Time to focus on only one thing at a time. Time to decide what is important and give that some attention.

Until then, I might be a bit spotty around here. I've got some important matters to attend to. In fact, she's calling my name right now.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pity Party

I'm having a big, ole', huge pity party. Feel free to join, but you must bring your own violins.

Right now I'm sipping on a delicious caramel coffee milkshake from my favorite chicken nugget place. If you don't know which one I'm referring to, you are seriously missing out on some goodness.

The problem with this indulgence is that I lost 2 lbs this week. A breakthrough! I finally busted through that 20 lb road block. And I'm sure I'm gaining every single ounce back with each suck on the straw.

But, darn it. I need a little love party tonight. Why? Did I hear you ask why? Or was that you clicking away to a more upbeat blog?

Oh, well. I'm still going to tell my story.

By 8:45 this morning, I realized I probably should leave work and just go back to bed. As soon as I walked in the door, the sweetest employee at our school informed me that I'd royally set off (that's southern for PISSED OFF) one of my parents.


I just typed out in detail both instances, but there is no way I can publish them. They would give away too much detail. There was much backspace pushing.

Trust me when I say that I'm working myself to death for these students. Last year I was completely burned out. At the beginning of this year, I felt renewed and excited, like my old teacher self. I was ready and eager to get the year started on the right foot. If there is ONE thing I hate as a teacher, it is conflict with the parent. I truly, honestly, only want the best thing for the students. Sometimes that means being truthful about the day the child had. Sometimes that means correcting student behavior. But it's only because I want the children to be successful academically. If a child doesn't have self-control or accept responsibility for this actions, how can he do his personal best in the classroom? If she can't keep up with her materials, how can she be successful? I work so hard to develop relationships with the children and their parents. I want my students to love school, for pete's sake. They've only been in school a few years. The very last thing I want is for them to hate school for the next bazillion years because they had a rough year with me. On the other hand, I expect them to work HARD. To show what they know. To be obedient and diligent in their work. I don't go to bed thinking of ways to ruin their child's day or to make life difficult for the children. I'm too tired. by the end of the day, I need sleep to renew myself to give everything I can do the children the next day.


And to think that I'm going to gain those 2 lbs back over this. That makes it stink even more.

I hope you're day was much better than mine.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A letter to Miss Independence

Dear Miss Independence,

Welcome to our home. Since you've arrived, it's becoming increasingly clear that you will not be going anywhere for the rest of my sweet daughter's life. In fact, you are probably just beginning to show yourself.

Let me make it perfectly clear that I welcome your arrival, but not the extra friends you've brought along. Your friend fussiness can move on out. I understand that when you aren't allowed to fully express yourself, you find it necessary to invite your friends to wreck havoc on our home. HAVOC is NOT welcome in the Benson household.

Let me give you a very specific example of what I mean.

Just today my sweet M wanted some water. For the past two years, whenever she wanted a drink, SHE ASKED FOR IT. But today...did she ask? Oh, no. Miss Independence, you whispered in her ear and gave her the specific directions necessary for fulfilling her desire for water. Everything was going fine. I was perfectly aware of what she was doing, but was sitting back, waiting to see how far she'd go. She got her cup. She set up the step ladder. She pushed the button for the water.

Enter havoc, stage left. Oh, he was stealthy this time. Just when M pushed the water button, she got distracted (he probably pinched her or something). Instead of water going directly into the cup, it went all over her clothes, in her face. on the step ladder, dripping on the floor. In her panic, M did not release the water button. So water continued to spew in all directions in our kitchen. Now I had to clean up a humongous mess and calm down a screeching, dripping, writhing toddler and it was barely 9:00 this morning. Thanks a lot.

Miss Independence, in that moment, I wanted to pack your bags and put you on the streets.

Our day continued with smaller, less significant issues similar in nature. They are usually preceded or followed by comments such as, "I do it myself." or "My can do it, Mommy!" or "Wet me try all by myself." I am thankful for the desire for independence. M is taking care of most of her potty-ing needs by herself. She feeds herself. She plays by herself. Today she even dressed herself, mostly. For those accomplishments, I am forever thankful to you, Miss Independence.

But when I don't allow you to fully expose yourself, Miss Independence, the tantrums are monumental.

Isn't there a better way to do this? Can't we find a way to allow you to slowly assert yourself without your friends, fussiness, havoc, and tantrum, involved? Truly, I do welcome you to our home. Let's just find a compromise that works for both of us.

I know we both have M's best interest at heart.

M's Mother, Natalie

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ugly, ugly Ike

My deepest prayers are with those who are being affected by mean ole' Ike right now. I can't imagine the fear, the worry, the stress that he is causing.

He is having a tremendous rippling effect. As I was driving home, I noticed two gas stations seemed rather busy. Then I noticed that the price of gas has spiked up in the past twenty-four hours. I decided that M and I would run to our regular gas station to top off the tank. I knew the station was busy before I could even turn into the massive parking lot where the station is located. Cars were lined up, literally bumper to bumper, to get into the shopping center. When I was close enough to see the gas station, we were the 7th car in line for the first pump. Each pump had that many or more cars lined up. I noticed 4 relatively well-dressed men wandering around, stopping periodically at cars. I thought that was strange, but didn't pay a lot of attention. Until I realized they were the managers of the grocery store, helping out at the gas station. They were completely there for crowd control. I've never in my life seen anything like that before.

Most people were well behaved. Most. There is always one or two that will act out in a crowd, showing their true colors. Imagine pump 1, pump 2, and pump 3. (Oh, M and I had moved to pump 3 by this time...a good 20 minutes into our waiting). Pump one and three are facing the busy road, pump two drivers are facing the parking lot. Got the visual image? Well, some fancy-pants decided she was going to use pump 2, so she drove in, FACING THE ROAD--backwards from all the other people who were waiting in line FOR THE SAME PUMP. Because, obviously, she was above waiting in line like the rest of civilization. I'm not sure if the managers noticed right away--they didn't head over immediately. When the sweet (I'm assuming) lady who was pumping her gas was finished, she was...guess what--BLOCKED IN. Not enough room to head forward and definitely not enough room to go back. (I was wondering what all the people in line behind her were thinking.) So, the managers--smart men that they were--headed over in a pair to handle this volatile situation. Oh, I forgot to mention that the lady was creeping closer to the pump, further blocking in the lady who was done pumping. Because I am my father's daughter, I memorized every moment of this exchange. I'm not sure what the managers said to the creeping lady when they approached her, but it set her off good. She punched it in reverse (I was worried about the car in front of me), and cut in between two cars at pump 1 and raced off.


All other interactions seemed tame. It was hard to manuver my big ole' van, but people were kind and one young man reversed enough that I could squeeze between two cars. I'm pretty sure the cop was sweating it as I came barrelling pretty close to him. But I was able to stop and reverse before there was a catastrophe.

If only Ike could do the same thing.

Christina, I hope you and your family aren't in the direct path of Ike. Please let us know.

ETA: Kyla and her family have evacuated. KayTar is sick, BubTar is bored, Josh is calm, Kyla is worried and should be studying. They have a limited amount of KayTar's meds, which are specially made at a local pharmacy. Please say a prayer that their home is safe, that they can return quickly to the comfort to which they are accustomed, and that KayTar gets over her illness quickly.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Got nothings

Friends, sometimes I'm all dried up. I've given too much away. This week is about survival. Tonight and tomorrow night (ahem, yes, that would be AFTER teaching all day), I've got two events on the schedule. That's right. Four IMPORTANT events crammed into two nights.

So. What am I going to do?

Taking a little bloggy break this week. I miss you. I'll catch ya later.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sleeping Beauty wakes up...


"Daddy, why wet?"
My ears perked up.
", I'm not sure. Nat, can you come help us?"
I put my brush on the bathroom counter and walked into M's room.
I was accosted by the smell of urine. Lots of urine. Where could that much urine come from?
"M, are your pajamas wet?" I asked.
H answered, "Soaked."
"Through her diaper?" I asked.
Deathly silence.
"Diaper? Oh, God. I forgot to put a diaper on her before bed last night!"

I laughed so hard. Super dad who NEVER makes a mistake (according to him) forgot to change M out of her underpants and into her diaper last night! She was soaked in urine. Her hair was wet, her pjs were wet, her bed was SOAKED. We had to strip her crib, wash everything in it. She had to have a bath, including a hair wash. There was much screaming about both of those things (me about the bed, M about the bath first thing in the morning!).

Monday, September 1, 2008

MBS: Away with friends

Memories from being away
(with no kids!!!)
Actually, I'm the only one with a young child. Two of my friends have children that are in college (or older) and the other friend has high school aged children. As they liked to point out after several tropical drinks, they are all old enough to be my mother!!
Somehow, friendship defies age.


Reading and tropical drinks

Bright colors dotting the beach

Flapping canvas in the wind

MBS: Friendship

For other MBS, visit Mother May I.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sneaking out

It's 6:10 am on the east coast. I've been up for almost half an hour. If you know me well, you know this is HIGHLY unusual. But today is my big day.

I'm sneaking out.

I'll be gone before M wakes up.

I'm going away by myself for just under 48 hours.

I'll give you all the delightful details when I get back.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Update on being frantic and Phrase Friday

I took the afternoon off. Not from my teaching job. From life. As in, I checked out.

H picked M up from school.

I ran a few errands.
I got a pedicure.

To be honest, I didn't care who needed me. I didn't really care who wanted me. I had two hours and they were all about me.

Then I met H and M at our favorite restaurant for a special dinner. I think H can tell I'm at the end of my rope. My energy ran out and I'm running completely on fumes. He's trying really hard.

After dinner, I wanted to run in Dilliards to get a wrap. I not only got a wrap, but a wrap, three fun headbands, two pair of shoes, and a dress. My entire bill was less than the original price of the dress.

Now on to Phrase Friday.

M gets a sucker when she makes poop on the potty. She's pooped on the potty at school several times, so I teasingly said we owed her teacher a sucker for helping M.

We took the suckers today. On the way there, she said, "Mommy, cher-berry is my fravorite flavor."
"Cher-berry? Do you mean cherry or strawberry?" I asked.
"Not chewwy or twaberry. Cherberry."

Um...couldn't argue with that one. How can you argue with that? Cherberry must be a new toddler flavor that no one else knows about.

Have you ever heard of cherberry?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The relief in heaviness

Who knew that relief from stress would bring it's own heaviness with it?

I realized after my frantic post earlier this week that there is a reason I'm cramming entirely too much STUFF into my life. There are things I don't want to deal with. If I'm so busy, so stressed out, so full of extra stuff, then (consummate avoider that I am), I don't have to deal with any baggage.

Particularly the baggage of wanting another baby.

Last night at Bible Study, I had the absolute honor, delight, privilege, thrill of holding a chunky, sturdy, fill-your-arms 14 week old and rock him to sleep. Right in the Starbucks. That little camo-clad guy just snuggled right in and took the quiet road to the land of nod. Nothing, other than holding M, has EVER felt so good.

My arms ache today with the yearning to do that. To hold my very own baby and sway him (or her) off to sleep. To have my own child snuggle in and drift off.

I know if I continue to have so much stress in my life then there is no way I'll be able to get pregnant. I know that stress doesn't prevent pregnancy, but when I cram every waking minute full of my to-do list, I think the chances grow slim.

My goal is in September to quietly whisper to myself, "Be still and know He is God, Be STILL.... BE STILL... BE EVEN MORE STILL... Natalie, you are not being still enough" until the unthinkable happens. I become still. I live in the moment. I enjoy the now, not the "when I get this done."

I stopped by my favorite yarn store today. I treated myself to two luxorius skeins of yarn. One to knit a little scarf for M and one for myself. For what? I don't know. I saw a basket of delicious pink yarn with a sign that said Project Pink. When I read the sign, I signed up right away. Yes, one more committment, but one that will make me slow down. The yarn store is giving volunteers a skein of the most delicious pink yarn if they commit to knitting a 48 in scarf and donating it to the store. Mrs. Knit, the owner, wants to wrap our city in pink in October in honor of breast cancer awareness. How could I resist? I love to buy yarn, but am really not talented enough to do anything except scarves. Really, how many scarves can one person have? (Um...don't answer that.) This project is right up my ally. On top of that, I can sit quietly and knit away. I can think and knit. I can pray and knit. I can listen to my music and knit. This is good. This is exactly what I need. I can be still and knit. Perhaps my arms won't ache so much.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Could someone please come bang on my door and scream "SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY" at me?

I'm overdoing it. As usual. Saying yes when I should say no. Agreeing when I should decline.

Why do I do this? I'm not eating well because I'm too busy. I'm definitely not sleeping well because I have too much on my mind.

Wanna know what's on my list?
1.) Make some baby gifts.
2.) Tag M's old clothes for consignment.
3.) Go to WM to get the things I need to do both of those things.
4.) Write lesson plans, grade papers, actually do a little teaching some time.
5.) Track down some e-mail address to get in touch with some friends.
6.) Grocery shop so we can actually eat healthy around here.

And on, and on, and on.

Does anyone notice anything about spending time with M? How about H? How about cleaning up the house? Doing laundry? Running the dishwasher? Throwing the ball with the dog? Vacuuming our house?

I was reading something over at Marie's and this unbelievable yearning came into my heart. Just throw it all away. Pack up the family and GO. Find a quiet place. Find a place where family is the only thing, the most important thing. Don't meet the neighbors. Don't register for a telephone. Don't forward the mail. HIDE. (That's not at all what I'm suggesting Marie did. I just yearn to be where she is!!!)

But the reality is that I can't do that. Running away is not in my future. I love my job. I love my friends. I love my family--my parents, my brothers, H's family.

So I need to find the balance. The balance between the tug and the pull. The "I need yous" and the "these are your responsibilities." How is it possible that one woman has so many RESPONSIBILITIES?? For those of you with children in school, PLEASE thank your child's teacher tomorrow. Teaching has the ability (capability) to suck the life out of the teacher. If we don't control it, teaching can overtake our lives. The reality is that I'll never be caught up. There will always be more to do, more to give, more to plan, more to grade, more, more, more.

I'm not having a pity party. I just needed a place to get all of this out. To see it in black and white. To remind myself that my priorities are within these four walls. My family comes first. Everything (E.VE.RY.THING.) else comes in second or fifth or tenth behind H and M.

Sometimes I feel desperate. Sometimes I need someone else to help shoulder the burden. And when these sometimes come, it feels good to have this place. And it feels good to shake with the responsibility of it all while saying I WANT TO RUN AWAY. I don't want to be responsible. I don't want to be what I am to all these different people. I just want to be me.

So I will continue to strive to simplicity. To come home and play instead of work. To cuddle instead of sew. To whisper instead of run.

Simplify. Simplify...I hear it in the distance. It's calling for me, wanting to embrace me and wanting me to embrace it honestly and truly, for once and for all.

Edited to add: I finished tagging all of M's clothes for consignment. I'll work on toys tomorrow or Wednesday. What doesn't get done, DOESN'T GET DONE. It feels GREAT to say that. The clothes were the most important thing to get ready. Did I mention my husband ROCKS? He went to WM for me and helped me hang all the clothes. It's raining now. I'm going to snuggle with H and go to sleep.

My Best Shot

At the end of a whirlwind trip to Savannah, M became a little whirlwind. My parents got her this sweet little get-up and she loved it from the moment she put it on. Perhaps there are dress-up days in my future. I'm not sure how, but my finger was in front of the flash. I ended up liking the result. This could definitely use some editing, but it's not too bad SOOC.

For other MBS, visit Tracey.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fall Carnival

I'm reaching out for some ideas here.

M's birthday is October 12. I know, I's actually a little shocking that I'm thinking about it more than a week ahead of time. BUT. I want this birthday to be super special.

Her first birthday was just fun.
Last year was AWESOME. We did pumpkin decorating. I want to do something a little different. That was fun, but I want to change it up a bit.

I'm thinking about a fall carnival/festival type party, with different "stations" or games or activities for the kids to do. I think the kids should wear their halloween costumes. I know I don't need to plan TOO much because they are little and they will just want to play.

I want five or six organized types of activies. What do you think about this?
1. pumpkin decorating again (but if they are wearing their costumes, is this a good idea? We painted the pumpkins last year)
2. bean bag toss (earn a goody)
3. some type of craft. At school, I make the kiddos clean out their desks and throw their paper away in a brown paper bag. We close it with a rubber band, paint the stuffed part orange and the top green so it looks like a pumpkin. Again, there's the paint issue.
4. the funny donut game where powdered donuts are strung on a string and the kids eat them off the string without using their hands.
5. some type of fishing game where kids earn a goody by hooking a fish (how can I make that fall-ish?)
6. I have no idea.

I hate doing goody bags. I want the kids to make something (hence the pumpkin decorating was great!) or "earn" it by doing the games. I thought I'd make caramel apples as one of the goodies and maybe one little bag of candy.

Help me here...any good ideas?

I just found this link. Some of the games sound awesome!


All is forgiven

Dear sweetest M,

Sometimes I find myself at the end of my rope. Sometimes I don't know what else to do. Sometimes I fuss and discipline when maybe I shouldn't. Sometimes I'm not perfect.

Honey, I love you so much. You bring so much joy to our family. God designed us perfectly for each other. He took almost 28 years to prepare me to be YOUR mama. Sometimes I fail you both, but I sure do try hard.

It's okay that you had three accidents yesterday, despite being offered the potty each.and.every time. It's okay that you didn't make any tee-tee for over eight hours today. I was frustrated yesterday when you made an accident in your friend's room. I was worried today when you wouldn't tee-tee for her.

I really and truly know that you won't wear diapers to kindergarten. I wouldn't push this if you hadn't asked for big girl underpants. I KNOW you can do this. I love your big smile when you do use the potty. I love giving you suckers when you poop in the potty. I love hearing your sweet voice say, "Mommy, I got to make potty!"

And truthfully, no matter how tired, frustrated, upset I could I stay that way when I see this sweet face?

Or this one...where you look JUST LIKE YOUR DADDY????

Oh, sweetie. It doesn't matter, really. You are my girl. I love you, accidents, whys, millions of no's...I love you.

Your imperfect mommy

Monday, August 18, 2008

What would your child do?

What would your child do while you were checking all the backlog of blog posts from being disconnected for a week?

This is what my child did:

M was washing her hands, innocently enough. Perhaps I should have checked before it came to this. When I discovered her antics, all I could do was laugh. No anger over here, just laughter.

The sink was about 2/3 full of water. The bubbles were taking over the entire bathroom. She was having a grand time playing in the bubbles. Her dress was soaked. The counter was soaked. The roll of toilet paper was soaked.

But she had fun. And we laughed.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

MBS: Summer Fun

This is the face of a satisfied little girl. After having dinner on the deck, M and I chased each other around a tree in the backyard until we fell down exhausted.

Sweet, summer fun.

I'm working on a new computer here. I don't have access to our old computer, so if anyone would send me the code for posting a link in a comment, I sure would appreciate it!

For other MBS, stop by Tracey's.

Up and running

Oh, bloggy world have I ever missed you!!!

We've had a problem with our computer for several weeks now, with the ultimate coming sometime last week. Our harddrive was fine, but we could not connect to the wonderful world wide web. Our house flooded because of the tears I shed!!!

Truthfully, our regular computer is still down. H agreed to let me buy a laptop yesterday. We are the proud owners of this delicious piece of technology. You have no idea how my heart sings when I turn it on!

The only unfortunate thing is that there is so much information I need from my other computer. when we get it back and I can transfer all the information, I'll feel one hundred times better.

I'll be participating in BSM in a while and I can't wait to get around to read about each of you. I've sure missed you!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Phrase Friday (early) and other stuff

This post is heavy on the "other stuff" side of life. If you're only here for phrase Friday, feel free to leave after giggling about M's antics.

M loves to read in the car. The pocket of the passenger seat is full of interesting material for M to peruse as we drive around town. Tonight she was REALLY into one of her books. When we arrived at the last intersection before we get to our neighborhood, she cried out, "Daddy, YOU LOST THE CHURCH!" H and I busted out laughing, realizing immediately what happened. Our church is on the previous corner--she was so involved in her book that she didn't notice we passed our church. We tried to explain to her that we'd already passed our church. No avail--she was sure we'd LOST our church.

On to the other stuff.

I'm exhausted. Today was the first day of school. I've never worked so hard to get ready for my students. We had five (yes, five) days of pre-planning, so I worked, cleaned, disposed, organized, created, disposed, disposed, disposed, and disposed some more. I'm so thrilled with my room this year. I KNOW this is going to be a great year.

My kids are full of personality this year. I'm sure I'll have stories to share. I've got a funny one today, but it would give away too much information, so I'll keep it to myself. Protection of privacy is important.

We're going to meet our new niece this weekend. I'm sure MBS will contain that sweet little baby girl. I just can't wait to hold her and kiss her--if I can get to her before M. M has already proclaimed, "That's MY baby Raegan!"