Saturday, May 31, 2008


I attended a funeral today. Now I feel raw. I feel exposed. I feel violated, a little. Yet, I am incredibly moved. I feel changed. I am relieved.

The friend whose mother died and I have different cultural heritages. I'm white. She's black. I'm young, she's a little more mature than I am. Actually, I don't really know her very well. She's going to teach on my team next year and I felt that I really needed to go to support her. She's been dealing with her mother's illness for over a year. I saw her struggle under the weight of motherhood, teaching, and daughtering. She has tremendous strength and poise. I envy her and I want to be like her.

Now more than ever.

I've attended a few black funerals before, but none has ever moved me quite like today. While we were waiting for the processional, the other attendees approached the casket and whispered to each other or to the deceased. It was beautiful and scary. I, frozen chosen that I am, stayed firmly planted in my seat. Perhaps if I had known my friend's mother, I could have taken the same walk. Instead, I just stayed put.

When the family came in, they were lead by their minister. He began by reading Psalm 23 and continued through the Psalms as he lead the very large family to the casket. The family was openly grieving. They were crying out in sadness, crying out to our Lord, begging for mercy. One lady was being physically supported--her grief weighed her down that much. My friend and her siblings were clinging to one another, their spouses, their friends, their children. Their grief was difficult to watch. But it was a relief.

As the family walked past their mother, their sister, their aunt, their crying became wails. One sister couldn't leave her. The rest of the family hugged her and moved on. She needed more time with her sister. Her husband openly sobbed when he sat down. I've never heard such grief in my life. Yet, I was relieved.

The first words spoken after the processional were "It's okay to grieve. Cry out when you need to. Hug when you need to be held. Feel, brothers and sisters, feel." What a relief.

When the casket was closed, the wailing overwhelmed the sanctuary. That family was hurting.

During prayers, the congregation responded to the words of the minister. They participated in the prayer. It went beyond "Amen, brother" or "keep preaching" The prayer didn't cover them...they WERE the prayer. WHAT.A.RELIEF.

Their emotions were so raw. When the choir was singing, brothers and sisters joined hands and stood, praising our Savior. Even in the hour of their darkest grief, they praised our Lord. They were not afraid to be real--to cry out to God "Why, why?" "Hold me, Jesus!" They were not afraid to worship in the truest since of the word.

I can not begin to describe the emotions that coursed through me as I stood, sat, observed the service. Shocked...a little. Envious...very much. There were no pretenses. The family wasn't pretending that they were okay. I want to worship that way. I want to be REAL in my relationship with God, my family, my friends. I want to be raw. If it makes others uncomfortable, that's okay. If we were all like that, we would change the face of this world. I want to worship with tears of sorrow, tears of joy, tears of disbelief. Our God is SO big. He is SO mighty. He purposes every event to his own glory.

Shock to the heart. Yes, yes...I know God is sovereign. I believe that my God can do ALL things. However, during a funeral service, I was shocked to be touched to my very own core. God purposed my marriage, my daughter, my life, two miscarriages, my job, my friendships, TO GLORIFY HIM. To turn the glory back to the One that deserves it.

I feel like my very soul was opened up in that church. That others could see my pain, my longing, my desire, my sin. To see that turn the glory back to my God. That I question "Why me? What did I do?" It's not about ME! This life is not about Natalie. It's not about how well I teach. How well I mother. How well I keep the house. It's about living every single moment to honor God. I knew that...I knew it in my head. It's slowly sinking it's way into my heart.

What a relief. It hurts to be so exposed. To examine yourself this way. It hurts to be so raw. But it is such a huge relief.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Just to make your mouth water, here is the menu from last night.

Green pepper jelly w/ cream cheese, served with crackers
Grilled specialty sausage served with a variety of condiments

Main course:
Grilled steaks w/ au poive
Grilled vegetables (squash, zucchini, onion)
Steamed asparagus
Rolls w/ homemade herb butter
baked potatoes

White chocolate mousse w/ raspberry and chocolate sauces

I didn't do very well with the appetizers...I couldn't seem to keep my sneaky fingers away from the plates. However, I did great with dinner. I'd already used my starches for the day (plus the few crackers), so I didn't have rolls or a potato. Instead, I filled up with the salad and vegetables. Then I ate my steak. I only had the tiniest helping of dessert.

And for my (moderately) good behavior, I was rewarded with a 3.4 lb weight loss this week, for a total of 14 lbs! YEAH!!!!!

Have I mentioned that H bought us a Wii Fit last week? I can't begin to tell you how much fun we've had with it. We do it together most of the time and laugh like crazy. It's probably the most fun we have (vertically) together. We like to challenge each other in certain tasks. Most of the time he beats my behind, but there are a few tasks on which I tear him up. If you have Wii, I HIGHLY encourage you to get the Wii Fit. Trust'll love it!

Great success

Dinner was a great success!

Our sweet friends didn't leave until after 12:30. We are full--from delicious food and delightful fellowship. The dishwasher is humming away. I bid you all goodnight with details to follow tomorrow.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

45 Minutes

We're hosting a dinner for some dear friends of ours in just 45 minutes. The house is clean. The vacuum cleaner is already put up. I don't think this has EVER happened before. I won't be slamming the closet door as the doorbell rings.

More details later!

Monday, May 26, 2008

My Best Shot: Love of leaves

M has a love affair with leaves. In the fall, she collected "beautiful" leaves all over town. Our van was full of leaves and the crunchy remains of the once beautiful gifts from the treetops. Imagine her complete joy when we were in Savannah Friday evening and there were leaves on the ground! She found two leaves and danced around and around with them.

I can't wait to see what you are "leaving" on your blogs for MBS!
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quick Post

This is the last week of school. I'm not as excited about losing this class as I was last year's class, but I am ready for them to go. It's amazing how I feel that at the end of every year. Our time together is over and it is time for them to move on.

I'm moving on, too. I have lots of projects I want to complete this summer.

I need to get back to simplify. I've gotten better about not over committing (too much). I have NOT gotten better about decluttering. As soon as I get one hot spot cleared up, it's messy again. I do not want M to grow up in a messy, embarrassing home. I hope to get the house cleaned out and under control this summer. I want to hire a house keeper to come in twice a month next school year. That will help a lot, I think.

I need to scrapbook and make an effort to get caught up. I know I'll never be completely caught up, but I'd like to feel like I got something done. I've joined two scrapbook classes online that I am so excited about.

I need to be still and spend time with the Lord.

I need to get back to the gym (back to simplify!). I've lost 10.6 lbs on my diet. I'm beginning to feel much better. I'd like to train to run in the Labor Day 5K here in town.

I need to use some fabric that I bought to sew for M. I have lots of ideas, but no time right now. Hopefully I can do that this summer so she can enjoy her sweet outfits.

Not much going on around here other than exhaustion from the end of school. I am excited about my new diet and the progress so far. I'll show you before and after pictures when I lose enough to make a difference! M and I are leaving town for a few days with my family. I'll post again when we get back!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Project 365 (Not Quite)

Okay, so my dedication to Project 365 waned a little, but I'm back. All of these pictures were taken with the new camera. We have some kinks to work out in our relationship. She doesn't quite understand that I am the alph-female and she's to do what I say when I say it.

May 12: Sneaking a snack. In that bathroom, of course.
May 12: Sleeping in the car.
May 14: Snacks at the Strawberry Field.

May 15th: Did you know that wine is a product of New York? Neither did I until one of my students brought in this little prop to help teach us about New York.
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Project 365 (Not Quite)

May 15: The devestation after the storm.

May 16: What I REALLY want to be eating.

May 17th: Half of my mantle. I love layers.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Phrase Friday

My blogging has been sort of hit or miss lately.

Here are a few funny comments heard around the Benson household lately.

1.) Bandaid on my balls.

2.) "What are doing?"
Asked any time M wants to know what is going on.

3.) Yesterday (Thursday) we drove to a town about 30 minutes away to a fun book sale. M picked out a few new books and because she knew she had new books, wanted to read them on the way home. As I was speeding down the interstate, I picked through the bag and found three of her books. I gave them to her one at a time to browse through. When she went through all three of them, I started the cycle again. After round two, I thought I might be pushing my luck, but tried to give her one of the books for a third time. Her response? "Mommy, I daw-dedy (already) read this one!"

4.) Do a-gee-in (three syllables). Yep, I'm raising a true Southern girl. When she wants to do something again, she says, "Mommy, do it a-gee-in" in all the three syllable glory you can imagine. Bless her heart.

What fun phrases bring you joy this May?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Spur of the moment can be so fun!

This afternoon as I was leaving school, my dear friend extended the invitation to go pick strawberries. She's invited us and encouraged me to take M before, but something (hospital visits, miscarriages, life) always seems to get in the way. Today, I said "why not?" We didn't have plans. I had no idea what to expect.

M caught on right away. Grab those beautiful red balls and PULL until they pop loose. Each some, put some in the bucket.
Grab a strawberry and run away from Mommy. Run, run as fast as you can. Can't catch me, I'm the strawberry girl!

I can not begin to tell you how beautiful all the berries were. If I could post 25 pictures, I would. I've never seen strawberries so red, so plump.

M and I can both tell you that strawberries right off the plant are the most delicious.

Spontaneity can be so fun.
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No lie

Ten minutes ago, I had this conversation with my little girl.

Screaming, thrashing, tears running.
"M, what is wrong?"
"WATER IN MY EYE!" (Side note: water or shampoo in the eyes is the equivalent of a Cat. 5 hurricane in the Benson household.)
"Here, let me wipe your eye for you."
"NO! I NEED A BANDAID!" (Hardly able to understand over the screaming and thrashing, not to mention the two times I've used a bandaid in a time of real need, the bandaid caused more trauma than the injury.)
"I'm NOT putting a bandaid on your eyeball."
"I WANT A BANDAID ON MY BALLS!" (Said without a tear or a thrash in the tub. The water was eerily still. So quiet in fact, that H heard her scream this all the way downstairs and we heard his laughter.)

Yep. She makes her daddy proud. That's my girl.

Monday, May 12, 2008

MBS: My favorite snack

This, my friends, is my new favorite snack. And you should know that this is no small admission on my part. I'm a salt-a-holic. No chocolate for me. Give me chips and salsa, Cheezits, popcorn, salty seasonings on my meat. I'm a salty kind of girl. But things are a-changin' at the Benson household.

And these are the first two pictures I took with my new camera! She's my new best friend. I've already read the manual. See, I told you things are a-changin' around here! XSi and I are going to be real tight. In that intimate kind of way. The "I know your dirty little secrets" kind of way. The "you ARE going to do what I want you to do" kind of way. Oh, buddy, are we in for some good times.

For other MBS, grab yourself a cup of lemonade and spend some time at Mother May I? You might just find yourself enthralled. I always do.
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

All about My Man

Arizaphale over at Flaming Sword has tagged me for a meme. This one's called
All About My Man....

1. Who is your man? H
2. How long have you been together? 8.5, married 6.5

3. How long dated? 2.5 years

4. How old is your man? Eight years older than me (I'm 30)
5. Who eats more? Him
6. Who said “I love you” first? Definitely him. He knew before I did.

7. Who is taller? Him

8. Who sings better? Oh, definitely him. He's been asked to join the church choir. They kicked me out. Well, not at THIS church. And I didn't exactly get kicked out.

9. Who is smarter? Wowser! Probably him. But I would never admit that.
10. Whose temper is worse? Mine. No doubt about it.
11. Who does the laundry? Me. Usually. But he helps.

12. Who takes out the garbage? HIM! Garbage is the man's job. Garbage is gross. I only do it when I want to be really nice or I'm tired of asking.

13. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? Him.

14. Who pays the bills? Me.
15. Who is better with the computer? He can build them, I can use the software.
16. Who mows the lawn? Him. I'm no good in the yard.
17. Who cooks dinner? During the school year, he does the majority of the cooking and we eat very well. During breaks, I try to cook so he doesn't have to and we about starve. I'm a terrible cook.
18. Who drives when you are together? Him.
19. Who pays when you go out? Him 95% of the time, me sometimes.
20. Who is most stubborn? Oh, him. Definitely.

21. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? We're never wrong. Both of us are right all the time. Makes for interesting disagreements.
22. Whose parents do you see the most? Mine. Can't go into details on this one.

23. Who kissed who first? WHAT?? I have no idea. Probably him. I'm not assertive in that area.
24. Who asked who out? It was casual at first, so there wasn't a big first date.
25. Who proposed? Me. I'll tell that story another time.
26. Who is more sensitive? Me!
27. Who has more friends? Me.
28. Who has more siblings? Me.
29. Who wears the pants in the family? He thinks he does. I try to let him, I really do. Sometimes those pants just jump over on me before I can help it! Silly pants.
Is that it?
But you missed the most important question!!!!
30. How did you meet? YIKES! This is our private story. I'll tell it another time. Not now. It's too juicy to be part of a meme!

So now, to tag some poor unsuspecting types................

Andi , Colleen , and Rose. Tell us more about YOUR man!

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

It's 11:43 a.m. . M is down for a nap. H is across town. We're not at church. We've had quite a night.

Our mayor has declared us a state of emergency and is waiting to hear from the make it official. We were ravaged (only a slight exaggeration) with storms this morning from 5:00 am until 8:00 am. M is terrified of thunder and lightening now, so thankfully she woke us up at 5:20. Our house was rattling with the thunder and the lightening felt like it was in our backyard. The tornado alarms went off at 5:35--we spent an hour in the bathroom downstairs with pillows and blankets and a wound-up two year old. M was having a grand time jumping on H's back as he tried to sleep. Poor guy had some Starbucks coffee while we were out last night and didn't go to sleep until almost 3:00 this morning!

There were tornadoes all over town. Serious damage was done to the old West Gate shopping area (where Wal-Mart and Home Depot used to be). Parts of the buildings are gone, brick structures are left in piles, signs are mangled. H's office is just a few miles from there, so he's gone to check it out now.

Our house is fine, but you can tell where there is mysterious damage that maybe small tornadoes or strange winds did damage to several neighborhoods around us. The police and sherriff's deparments are asking everyone to stay home. Most churches in the community canceled services this morning to help keep people at home. Our water is out, as is one of the local hospital's and most of the homes in a fairly large area. Not sure why we are effected, but hope that will be resolved soon. We have no cell phone coverage because so many of the cell towers were damaged. We got in touch with most of our friends from church, but can't reach H's brother. Their house is fine. We hope they are with my sister in law's dad or hunkered down at home without power. Surely nothing is wrong--we hope.

If the cold front doesn't make it before late afternoon, we're to anticipate similar storms late this afternoon. Something about the warm area stabilizing the atmosphere and then cooling off or something. I'm not quite sure I understand that. If the cold front makes it here, we should be fine.

This is much more interesting than the snow storm in 2002. Or the ice storm in 2004. The news is on constant coverage of the damage. There are places that emergency crews can't reach because so many trees are down. Power lines are down all over town. In the middle GA area, some 32,000 customers are without power.

Maybe school will be cancelled tomorrow!

Happy Mother's Day!

Oh, I got the coolest gift: a digital frame! H has wanted one for quite some time, but we never splurged. I can't say that I didn't want one, but I wasn't yearning for one. However, now that I have it, I'm THRILLED. I can't wait to load some of my favorite pictures and plug it in.

Oh. One more piece of cool, eat-your-heart-out information. I got a new camera yesterday. I got the Canon Rebel XSI. YES! And a new lense to play with. More about that later.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Down and up

A sweet question.

"Natalie, how are you doing?"

A gentle hand on my arm.

The facade began to crumble.

I didn't even realize I had a facade. I THOUGHT I was doing okay.

And I am. But there is sadness. Much sadness. The more distance between those dreadful words and the moment, the more sadness there is. As usual, I didn't deal with the emotions at the time. I buried them deep inside of me. The problem with that is emotions won't stay buried. They fester and expand and become giants whispering in your ears.

If I hear one more person say, "It's God's way of taking care of _________ (fill in the blank)," I am going to tear off one of their limbs. Yes, I'm very well aware of God's sovereignty. I KNOW God is in control. But I want a baby.

"You're still young. You can try again." NO KIDDING. But I already tried. TWICE. Hearing the words that you either don't have a baby or that your baby is no longer TWICE is more than any ONE person should ever have to hear. And I know exactly how old I am. I'm thirty. But truly, right now, I feel eons beyond that. AND I WANT A BABY.

"It's not our time, but God's time." or "It just wasn't God's will." Thank you very much. Salt in the wound. I'm also perfectly aware that my life is not my own and that God works out his miracles on his time. But, come on, people. Do you really think that brings comfort to anyone?? Just because God's time and mine did not coincide does NOT make this any easier. Just because God's will and mine are different DOES NOT MEAN THAT I DON'T MISS MY BABIES.

I want, just for a moment, to wallow in the pain and loss of another baby. I want someone to throw down with me, beating their hands in the dirt, sobbing and begging for another baby. I want someone to UNDERSTAND that pain and not say some stupid phrase that they think will bring comfort.

A sweet question, a gentle touch will do the trick if no one is interested in meeting me in the backyard for a serious round of pity-party crying and screaming.

Oh, and on a good note. I've lost 5.8 lbs on a new diet I've started. That brings a slight smile to my face.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mommy guilt

After my post about my bi-polar toddler, I feel proud and extremely guilty to report that we've had the most WONDERFUL weekend ever.

As stressful as this time is with M, the joys are so many more.

Her language is EXPLODING daily. She's using words I didn't know she knew and using them in context.

To the dog, "Mocha, you my peshus puppy." (You're my precious puppy.)
About the dirt on the stairs, "Mamma, that's di-cust-ing." (disgusting)

The examples are too numerous to type.


She's beginning to pretend play. When you ask her more about the scenerio, she's thoughtful and insightful with her response.

Tonight in the tub she was filling up an empty tub-finger-paint container and pouring it into the bubble dispenser on the top of the duck that protects the spout. She kept saying, "Poor duck. You so sick." I asked her if her duck was okay and she told me that her duck had a lot of germs. She was giving it yummy medicine. I told her she was an excellent helper. She looked at me quizzically, thought for a moment and said, "I not a helper. I a doctor." I said, "Are you Doctor M?" "Yes," she replied. A few seconds later she said, "No, not doc-tor M. Dr. Swade." (her pediatrician)

H and I grilled out for dinner tonight. We constantly laughed at the things M said. She told him he was big and strong. She said I was beautiful. She whispered to the grass something about growing a lot and eating bege-tavles (vegetables).


Oh, and her sense of style is completely her own.

The other morning, she was dressed in a very pretty yellow flowery sundress. She had on ruffle socks, pink play shoes, and her fisher-man hat (to keep the sun out of her eyes: "Sun GO WAY me!"). On the way to school, she pulls her socks all the way to her knees and laughs hysterically. "Mama! My shocks is very wong!" (My socks is very long!) That is now her favorite way to wear her socks. I think I might have a fashion designer on my hands!


So, there are moments when we both want to pull our hair out, strand by strand. Maybe we even want to pull out each other's hair strand by strand. But that sweet giggle. Those sweet phrases erase every single moment of tears, stress, discord. I'll take all those rough moments for a fraction of the sweet moments I get.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

News from the doctor


My heart was racing. When we were sitting in the lobby, H looked over (my hand was GRIPPING his) and said, "Honey, you ARE nervous." My blood was pumping so fast through my veins that he could see my heartbeat in my neck.

Waiting in the exam room for a doctor with whom I am not very familiar, but said my favorite word: plan.

He knocks on the door, pops his head in the door and said, "I'm waiting on the path report to be faxed over. I'll be here in just a few minutes."

PATH REPORT? What in the world??? I know what THAT means!

Two minutes. Three minutes. Eight minutes. Ten.

Finally he comes back.

No path report yet, but let's discuss our plan.

I whip out my list of questions before he can even begin to discuss a plan for the future. I want to know why and how and what.

He laughed at me and answered my questions as much as he could.

My eggs are NOT bad.
No, the risk of another miscarriage is extremely slim. Possible, definitely, but slim. He's got a patient now who has a child, had three miscarriages, and is in the final term of a second very healthy pregnancy. He said, "It WILL happen for you."
He asked if we want to be pregnant. "YES!" we cheered. He asked us to wait two months to try again. My uterus was very swollen (another symptom of the type of miscarriage I had), so he wants me to wait two cycles for it to return to normal before making an effort to get pregnant again. His idea for birth control caused us to laugh out loud. All I'll say is POOR H.
I need to start taking a multi-vitamin.
The day we get a positive test, I need to see the doctor to start taking some hormonal medicine.

After all this, still no word about the path report.

We left the doctor without knowing any results. I did ask why in the world my tissue had been sent for path testing. The doctor said in very rare instances, this type of miscarriage indicates cancer. I showed absolutely no signs that that might be the case, but they wanted to make sure.

After a great lunch with H and a visit to a local chocolate shop, the phone rings with the results. Everything is fine.

I've sighed many sighs of relief today.

Everything will be alright.
(And my toenails sure do look pretty!)

By myself


I'm by myself today. In the past two years, 6 months, and 19 days, I can count how many times I've been in the house alone by myself. Not that I AM counting...I just could if I wanted to.

I've got a doctor's appt. today at noon. I debated about whether I should take M to school or just keep her with me. Last night she was talking about her friends at school, so I decided to take her today and enjoy a day alone.

YES! Best decision I've ever made!!!

I've been home 1 hour and 15 minutes and I have:
started a load of laundry
picked up the house
vacuumed the house
washed a load of dishes
folded a load of clothes
eaten breakfast

I'm going to take a shower (BY MYSELF!), go get a pedicure (some pampering is in order), run a few errands, see the doctor, and take a nap if I'm exhausted by the afternoon. Or I might clean up some more downstairs.

Why didn't anyone ever tell me about this little idea of shipping the kid off so I could actually GET SOMETHING DONE????