Friday, February 26, 2010

Words, Words, Words from My Friend Patti

Note: This is today's second post. Please scroll down to read what Guest Blogger Hoover had to say in today's first post.

"May the blessings of the Lord chase you down and overtake you and tickle you until you are crying with joy."

This is how my online prayer partner and stamping friend Patti signed off an email she sent me this week. Isn't that just the BEST!

This Week's Guest Blogger: Hoover

Hello. My name is Hoover, and I am a good dog. I am also a handsome dog, don't you think? The Woman asked me to fill in for her this week because she has writer’s block. She told me to tell you that she loves you and will write for you again next week. She promises.

Between you and me, the Woman has been hormonal lately (I can smell the chemicals coursing through her body), and she suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder because it’s always gray in winter in Ohio. Needless to say, she’s a bit grouchy, but not to me. She didn’t even yell when I pooped in the basement yesterday. Hey, I had to go, and she was not home. What’s a dog to do? Do the doo and look innocent. Works every time.

Golden retrievers never suffer from SAD because we are furry and golden and carry sunshine in our hearts. Our whole existence is about spreading warmth and happiness to the world. Except to the UPS man or mail man. Or the schnauzers down the street. Or the vets who smell funny and do horrible things to us. We want to fry them with our warmth. Watch them run away from us! Ha, ha, ha!

We goldens don’t suffer any sort of depression, except when we don’t get treats or have to wear the cone of shame or our peeps leave us. Usually, when my peeps go have fun without me, they take me to a place they call “Dog Lady’s Pet Camp.” Huh. It’s not a camp. It’s a puppy prison. Except for the play yard. That place rocks, Dudes. One day, I was having so much fun in the play yard that I didn’t come in when the Dog Lady called. Ha, ha! I got down in a play stance and wagged my tail and said, “You can’t catch me!” That’s when I found out the Dog Lady is also the Rodeo Lady. She lassoed me with a rope and dragged my adorable furry butt back into the prison. Totally not fair.

The Dog Lady is nice enough when she doesn’t have a rope, I suppose, but she’s not the Woman. The Woman is my favorite human, and not just because she didn’t yell about the poop yesterday. She also gives awesome, totally radical butt scratches upon request. All I have to do is present her with my butt. She automatically reaches down with both hands and scratches the base of my tail vigorously until I just can’t take the joy anymore.

She also gives me peanut butter on a spoon. I love her.

But the Woman was not always my favorite. The Man was my favorite for years. I put up with the Woman because she gave treats and stayed up all night with me when I had kennel cough. But back when I was a young and frisky and furry imp, she was definitely not my alpha. She yelled at me when I peed in the house and when I ate a pillow and carpet and the Man's wedding ring.

When she called me, I would go the other way, unless she had food. When she told me to sit, I would think about it and only cooperate if I felt like it. Unless she had food. And sometimes not even then. She felt the weight of my disapproval, I tell you.

It was all because she loved the White Dog more than she loved me. The White Dog was my big sister who bit my lip when I jumped on her head. I ask you, was that called for? I didn’t think so, either. Anyway, the Woman laughed when the White Dog bit me, so neither she nor the White Dog was my favorite.

But I was still sad when the White Dog died. It was worth getting bitten for the fun of jumping on her head.

Back then, I loved the Man most. He took me running in open fields and swimming in lakes and ponds; the woman said I stank afterward and made me take a bath. Pond water is perfect; bath water is evil, evil, evil. I had lots of fun with the Man. Twice, in fact, I had so much fun that the Man and the Woman had to take me to the doggie hospital to have my paw pad sewn up by the Evil Vet Person who smelled funny and took my testicles away. That was bad. I had to wear the cone of shame and was so, so sad. But running on sharp rocks is fun, and pond water and open fields smell good. So good.

One January, after weeks of strange goings-on that I didn’t understand, the Man left home in the middle of the night with a bunch of canvas bags. He’d often left for a few days or sometimes a week, but he always came back, and I could jump and whimper with golden joy when I saw him again. This time, I knew something was bad because the Woman closed the door on the garage when he left and started crying.

Thus began the First Long Sadness. The Woman watched news channels all day and late into every night that didn’t show golden retrievers. Why are there not more golden retrievers on news channels? Instead, the new channels showed tracer bullets and bombs and other unpleasant, unfurry, loud things. The Woman cried a lot. I licked her tears and looked cute, but she was so worried and that made me worry, too. I started to wonder if the Man would ever come back.

Happily, he did, and the First Long Sadness ended. He smelled of dry, dry desert sand and jet fuel. I forgave him for abandoning me because I am a good dog.

Everything was normal for a few years. The Man took me on walks and loved me and petted me and let me get on the bed at his feet every night. But then, the unthinkable happened. He packed a bunch of bags and left AGAIN! What the hell was that all about? Golden retrievers can cuss. Did you know that? When the Man left me for almost five months, I had every reason to cuss. The Second Long Sadness began.

During that five months, the Woman did not cry or watch unfurry news programs. She missed the Man but wasn’t worried, so eventually, I quit worrying about the Man, too. The Woman fed me, walked me, picked up my poop, and let me sleep on the bed all night with her. She gave me butt scratches and tossed biscuits for me to catch. I gave her lots of happy kisses and shed my beautiful fur all over her dark clothes. People really do need more fur. I missed the Man, of course, but the Second Long Sadness wasn’t nearly as bad as the first, and by the end of it, I’d almost forgotten to be sad about the Man.

Then, the Man returned, smelling of salt water and beach sand. That was the final insult. He went to the big, giant, fun-filled, endless water I can only dream about, and he DIDN’T TAKE ME! Can you believe that? Neither could I. Oh, the betrayal!

Now, the Woman is my favorite human. When the Man calls me, I go the other way, unless he has food. When he tells me to sit, I think about it and only cooperate if I feel like it. Unless he has food. And sometimes not even then. Now it is his turn to feel the weight of my disapproval.

Since the betrayal, the Woman is my go-to person. When I need to get up in the middle of the night or wee hours of the morning (get it, “wee” hours! I crack myself up!), I go to her. She doesn’t yell at me when I flap my ears and woof quietly in her ear. She pulls on her robe because, sadly, she’s not naturally furry, and she walks down the stairs and opens the door. Sometimes, I need to be outside for a while, but she just waits for me patiently and opens the door as soon as I’m done.

After dinner, when the peeps are eating dessert, I go to her first because she will always leave a little ice cream on the popsicle stick for me to lick off. She also understands that I can’t jump on the bed anymore, and she gives me pills that make my bones feel better so I can sleep, sleep, sleep all day long, except when the Woman has food because if I look alert and cute, she shares. She loves me.

But really, it was the butt scratches that totally won me over.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gratitude Journal #34

Today, I am grateful for

*the words groovy and swell. I wish they would return to common usage.

*our local YMCA. Yesterday, it struck me how the Y has factored in our lives since we had children. What a wonderful organization!

*fish tacos, prepared by my personal Iron Chef George. Bobby Flay would have gone down in Kitchen Stadium last night.

*this fabulously optimistic song. I remember singing and dancing to this groovy number with my best friends Cam and Polly in their bedroom sometime in the mid-1970s. We did not have the styrofoam props or fun special effects, but we had a swell time anyway.

What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jack's Favorite Part

Jack: Thank you for playing ball with us, Daddy.

George: You're welcome, pal. I had a lot of fun.

Jack: What was your favorite part?

George: Spending time with my boys. What was your favorite part?

Jack: Whacking you in the head with the ball.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Words, Words, Words from Charles Kingsley

"We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about." Charles Kingsley

What are you enthusiastic about?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weekly Giggle #13

George and I recently saw a commercial for Old Spice that made me want to go straight to the store to buy Old Spice. Not for George to wear, mind you, because my grandfather used Old Spice, and that would be, well, ewwwww. No, I wanted to buy Old Spice simply because the commercial was so very, very funny, and I believe marketing like this should be rewarded. Here you go:

The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Days of Whine and Tears

Will the flippity-flip-flip-flap snow ever end? When will we get back to some sort of routine? Oh, the freakin’ white! Oh, the freakin’ cold! Oh, the freakin’ whining! Make it stop! Please!

I feel a bit better now. Thank you for listening.

You see, this is the first winter in memory when we’ve had snow on the ground and then received more snow, and then more snow again, on top of that. We’ve lived further north in Michigan and South Dakota, but I simply can’t remember this ever happening before. Of course, who am I to be astonished when our snow total is in the neighborhood of eighteen inches? It’s not the most snow I’ve ever seen at once by at least a foot. Besides, my sister and mother in Maryland have over thirty-six inches of snow. They have something to whine about.

So why am I whining? Because whining is highly contagious, and I just experienced two days trapped in my house with two little boys who whined and fought about every little blasted thing they could possibly whine or fight about.

I feel like Mrs. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice: “Oh, my nerves! If I could just get them married off, they would be someone else’s problem!” But they are seven and ten, too young for marriage, even by Mrs. Bennett’s easy standards.

I wanted children. I must remind myself of this. Frequently.

First thing yesterday morning, they fought over who got to pick a movie first. (“It’s my turn!” “You always get to pick first!” “Do not!” “Do, too!”) Then they fought over the movie picked. (“Not Thomas the stupid Tank Engine! You always pick that! I hate Thomas!” “Not Eragon! I hate Eragon! You always watch movies I hate!”). Then I said, “If I hear one more word of bickering about the television, I will turn it off and neither of you will watch a single movie for the rest of the day!”

That shut them up.

For five minutes.

Nick: You can’t eat ice cream for breakfast!
Jack: I can, too!
Nick: No, you can’t. You need to eat something healthy!
Jack: FINE! I’ll eat pretzels.
Nick: That’s not healthy!
Jack: Yes, pretzels are healthy. Mom, are pretzels healthy?
Me: No, Jack, they aren’t. You need to eat a bar, a banana, or cereal.
Jack: Nooooooo!
Nick: See, I told you, Jack. You have to eat healthy.
Me: What are you having for breakfast, Nick?
Nick: Goldfish.

And so it went. On and on. Nick actually broke down in tears and cried because…are you ready for it?…Jack ate the Starbursts Nick had been saving since Halloween. Can you believe the hideousness of the crime?!? Then Jack pitched a complete tantrum because George wanted him to put on his clothes before heading out to play in the snow.

Parents are so unreasonable.

There were moments of joy, such as when Jack caught a fish on Wii Play. They were cooperating and getting along, mainly because Nick was fishing for unearned time on the Wii. We make him read to earn limited time every day, a restriction explained to him in detail before the Wii entered our house. Jack, however, wants nothing to do with the Wii anyway. By getting his brother to play, Nick snuck some extra time because he was “helping” his brother.

This might not have been so bad, except that the last two weeks have been a Groundhog Day of whining and tears. Oh, the circumstances vary a bit when the weather permits us to make it out of the driveway, such as on Saturday when we spent three hours at the optometrist’s office. The happy conclusion of much whining there: both my children have 20/20 vision. Both, however, deeply desire glasses. Nick pretends indifference, but he malingered (a fancy medical term for lied), pretending he was both colorblind and couldn’t read the big E. When he thought Dr. Hampton had his “prescription” in front of his eyes, he saw 20/20.

Jack, on the other hand, walked into the exam room, climbed in the chair, and announced, “I’m ready for my glasses now!” Dr. Hampton asked why he wanted glasses. “I want to show my friends at school. My friend has glasses. I want glasses.” She had him cover one eye and showed him the last line on the chart. He read the tiny letters perfectly. He repeated this performance with his other eye. Oh, the tragedy of perfect vision! So many tears!

Other tragedies hit my house-bound children yesterday which provoked whine and tears. We ate all the brownies, and there were no more! They couldn’t watch movies or play the Wii every second of the day. Our firstborn had to shovel a path on the deck so the old, arthritic, crippled dog could get out into the yard to do his business. Nick also couldn’t have a play date with a friend who lives in another neighborhood. Jack couldn’t go on a nine-hour road trip to see cousin Rory or scream “Pikachu, I choose you!” over and over and over and over again.

Even over dinner, Nick whiningly insisted that he did not owe me extra reading for the extra time he snuck on the Wii. I swear that boy should be a lawyer when he grows up. I can see his television advertisement now: "Wish you were injured in the workplace? Talk to Raihala Law. We can make that worker's compensation happen for YOU. Malingerers welcome. I understand your suffering!"

George and I finally got the two whiny ones in bed, and we sat peacefully watching the Olympics while waiting for Lost to start. Lost is our one network-television indulgence these days. Nick interrupted the peace and called me upstairs, where we had the following conversation.

Nick: Mom, you’re probably going to say no, but I’m going to ask anyway. I don’t like the rule about having to read to earn time on the Wii. Can we just agree that I’ll read more but not have to read to play the Wii?
Me: No.
Nick: Please!
Me: No. You must read to earn time on the Wii. We’re done.
Nick: This stinks!

Oh, son, you have no idea.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gratitude Journal #33

Today, I am grateful for

*This goofy old dog who likes to wriggle on his back and then sneeze loudly:

*The Valentine lasagne my husband made, which was better than two dozen roses and a box of chocolate (although I still do love a good box of chocolate!)


*Friends far and near

*Snow shovels...still

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More Weekly Giggles

This week, I've got giggles galore!

A toadally funny picture from the Engrish blog:


Oh. My. Gosh. When did this happen?!?!

1950, actually. Poor David got unsexed when he was included in The Book of Knowledge, an encyclopedia for children that is just loaded with giggles, although I'm finding this particular image more disturbing each time I look at it. A fig leaf would have been better, don't you think?


I avoided any heady jokes about the previous photo out of respect for the great master Michelangelo, but I have no such respect for Mother Nature, who provides us with plenty to laugh at, including red peter peppers, an amazing vegetable brought to my attention by the fabulous Singing Farm Wife. A word of caution...if you are easily offended by garden-variety peter humor, do not click on this link, where you will find an educational article written by the grandmotherly Alice B, Yeager. My favorite line from Alice's article is "Peter peppers are not hard to grow." Too true, Alice. Too true.

(I bet everyone clicks on the link. How could you not!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Weekly Giggle #12: Two Giggles in One

I am from The South. For those of you who live in, say, Australia or Brazil or South Africa, you're really south. But in the United States, when you're from The South, that means you're from the southern states that caused a little ruckus we Americans call the Civil War. Southerners sometimes refer to it as the War of Northern Aggression.

Losers have to sop their egos somehow, I suppose. I personally deal with the associative guilt of being a Southerner by fervently believing that, in a former life, I was a Yankee Quaker helping with the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman and I were best buds.

Kevin Underhill's blog Lowering the Bar reports legal stupidity from all over the world, and his most recent post is about South Carolina, the state that started the War of Northern Aggression (work that one out for yourself). It's also the state that gave us Governor Mark Sanford, who let his little head drag his whole body to Argentina on important "business."

I'm sorry. Was that vulgar? We southern belles don't mean to be vulgar. Besides, I'm from North Carolina, which is in the south (I know, I know...South Dakota is in the north, and I've lived there, too). North Carolina gave us former Senator John Edwards, who cheated on his cancer-stricken wife. Power doesn't just corrupt; it goes straight to a man's head.

Back to South Carolina. The state legislature now requires anyone engaged in subversive activities, or anyone who is a member of a group which includes a person who is contemplating subversive activities, to register with the Secretary of State by filling out a form and paying a $5 fee.

I hope you're appreciating the historic irony of this situation. I sure do. It's a good thing I don't live in South Carolina because this law is giving me all sorts of subversively funny thoughts relating, oddly enough, to the French Revolution and Madame Guillotine. But I'll keep those punny jokes to myself. This post is getting a bit heady, and my mother's going to read it.

And now for another, tangentially-related giggle completely lacking in vulgarity: Terminology.

What are you giggling about this week?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

One Kind Word

A Japanese proverb states, “One kind word can warm three winter months.” Given the winter we’re having in the midwestern United States, I wish this proverb were literally true. But as a metaphor, well, it works just fine.

Let me give you a bit of back story, first. On the autism internet forums, a recurring theme rears its ugly head far too frequently: mean strangers judging parents whose children have meltdowns in public. Many children with autism have major tantrums that result from an involuntary fear response to what typical people would see as a benign stimulus. Maybe it’s a noise that scares them, or a flash of red in their peripheral vision. Maybe it’s eye contact from a stranger or the flicker of fluorescent lights. Whatever sets them off, it’s not like they choose to pitch a fit. Their bodies flood with chemicals they can't control. They are terrified.

Unless the child is small enough to be safely removed to a private place, parents have to make sure he can’t injure himself and basically wait it out. A mom or dad can talk calmly, hold the child or sit near him, but most often, the tantrum will end more quickly if it’s completely ignored, especially if it is the result of sensory overload. Grabbing or yelling at the child just adds to his confusion and fear, and drags the tantrum out longer.

Often, however, strangers misunderstand what is going on. They think the parent ought to pick the child up off the ground, whack his butt, and ground him for a month. And sometimes people go beyond throwing dirty looks at the "brat" and his stupid parent; they actually throw hateful words instead. One mom, whose nonverbal, cognitively challenged son was melting down in the produce section of a grocery story, actually had a stranger yell at her: “You call yourself a mother! Your son is screaming and you’re doing NOTHING!” Of course the mom was doing nothing. That’s what worked with her son. When I read her story, I wanted to crawl through the internet, find her, and tell her to her face that she is a wonderful mother.

One afternoon last December, I was at Barnes and Noble (surprise!). The clerk behind the counter welcomed me as a regular customer and then glanced behind me and said, “Some parents are useless.” I looked over my shoulder and saw a man carrying a crying two-year-old girl through the store. Nothing unusual in that. She probably just needed a nap.

I turned back to the clerk, who said, with righteous indignation, “My children never behaved like that in public. They knew what would happen to them if they did!” I was stunned and wondered what she would think about some of the things we do with our children, both of whom had the bad manners to cry in public at the age of two.

As I walked to my car, feeling colder than the weather, I thought how terrible words are when they lack the warm breath of kindness. And I thought of Jesus’ words, “As you judge, so shall you be judged.”

That’s the scariest verse in the Bible.

A month ago, while I was sitting in the waiting room at Children’s Rehabilitation Clinic, a boy of about five or six melted down in a hard-core, violent tantrum. The father sat on the floor just a few feet from me and held his flailing son. Very calmly, he said, “I will hold you until you stop hurting yourself. Then I will let you go.” A speech therapist came out to get the boy for his session but after briefly attempting to redirect him, she and the father wisely decided to give him the day off. The therapist told the boy, “Since you’re upset today, we’ll just wait until next week. Okay? I hope you feel better soon.” She walked away, and the dad stood there for a few minutes over his son, who was now lying on the floor, spinning and moaning but no longer hurting himself.

The father knew, I’m sure, that any effort on his part to quiet or redirect his child would not work and might provoke worse behavior. He sat down next to me to wait it out.

Before my experience at Barnes and Noble, I would have said nothing, thinking that politely ignoring the situation was best. But since all the action had happened four feet in front of me and I could imagine how sad this father must be, I decided a kind word was in order. I glanced up at him and said, “Nicely handled.”

He looked at me like I was an alien from another planet. Then he said, astonished, “Thank you. Thank you very much.” Every time I think about his surprise, my heart breaks. Why should kindness surprise anyone? Is it such a rare commodity?

This Monday, I was in the waiting room again, and the father approached me. He thanked me for my kind words and introduced himself. We chatted for a bit. He is a mechanical engineer who lost his job a year ago. He’s building a wooden go-cart with his son and coaches him in soccer. He told me his son rarely has meltdowns like he had that day. I’m glad of that.

One kind word can warm three winter months.

Let’s all commit some global warming.

If you need a little inspiration, listen to the Youngbloods sing Get Together. Smile on your brother, indeed.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gratitude Journal #32

Today, I am grateful for

*snow shovels

*the HBO movie Temple Grandin

*the indoor swimming pool at the YMCA

*my warm home


What are you grateful for today?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Words, Words, Words: A Random Collection

*Jack is going through a Harry Potter phase, and he's at this moment pointing his tinker-toy wand and yelling, "Eat snugs, Malfoy!" (For the three people out there who never read or saw Chamber of Secrets, the correct line is "Eat slugs, Malfoy!")

*"One kind word can warm three winter months." Japanese proverb

*"Basically a dog person. I certainly, though, wouldn't want to offend my constituents who are cat people, and I should say that being, I hope, a sensitive person, that I have nothing against cats, and had cats when I was a boy, and if we didn't have the two dogs might very well be interested in having a cat now." Incoming Missouri Congressman James Talent, responding to the question "Are you a dog or a cat person?"

*"O Winter! ruler of the inverted year, . . . I crown thee king of intimate delights, Fireside enjoyments, home-born happiness, And all the comforts that the lowly roof Of undisturb'd Retirement, and the hours Of long uninterrupted evening, know." William Cowper

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Weekly Giggle #11

Don't you wish all warning signs were this clearly written?

It says, "Danger. Do Not Touch. Not only will this kill you, it will hurt the whole time you're dying." I'm not touching. How about you?

To see the original, visit

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Life Is How We See It

I have a friend who went through a pretty serious depression a few years ago. Her life to that point had been all about getting tenure as an engineering professor at a prestigious university. Tenure is given based on contributions to the field through publication, teaching, service to the university, and (for sciences) bringing in grant money. My friend published, taught, and served beautifully, so beautifully, in fact, that her university granted an extension for her to grub some grants rather than denying her tenure outright.

She saw the writing on the wall, applied for a teaching position at a 4-year college where she wouldn’t have to grant-grub, and moved halfway across the country.

She felt like a failure, though.

Part of me understood what she was going through. I had wanted a PhD and didn’t have it, which sparked a minor depression on my part when I turned thirty-one. I felt like a failure then, too. I have a gift that’s largely gone unused for more than a decade, and it’s like a part of me died but its ghost hangs around taunting me with “If Only You Had….”

Two years ago, when I saw another friend dealing with a depression of the who am I and what is the purpose of my life type, I realized that I don’t listen to that ghost of the failed PhD much anymore. Interestingly, I was asking the same questions as my depressed friend—who am I and what is the purpose of my life?—but I wasn’t depressed. I was curious and excited and confident that I’d eventually figure it out. Why didn’t my friend feel the same way I did? Or, put another way, why wasn’t I depressed?

Then I noticed just how many people in my life were dealing with the same questions. Most of them were women in their late 30s, 40s, and 50s, and most of them were floundering in varying degrees of depression.

Wow. Middle age really kicks ass. So I started this blog in search of answers. And after 18 months I have some ideas. If you’re feeling ass-kicked at the moment, perhaps the following will help.

Self-talk is more powerful than you think. I kept telling myself I had to be a PhD to be happy and fulfilled. But I’d married George and the military, which meant we never lived close enough to a PhD program for my dream to come true. When the PhD didn’t happen, I had myself a little pity party, wallowing in my failure. But I eventually realized that I was the only one telling myself I had to have a PhD to be happy. Hmmm. Is it wise to limit oneself and one’s happiness so narrowly? Probably not. I started looking around for other goals—attainable goals—and found a whole big world that I didn’t know existed. I told myself that this was good. And it was.

Our problems are rarely as big as we think they are. My problem was that I didn’t have a PhD. But what did I have at the ripe old age of 31? A job (boring as it was) that put me in near daily contact with friends, a nice house in a cool city, a husband who baked bread, a dog who worshipped me, family that loved me despite how weird I know I am, books, a brain, my health. When I looked at the big picture perspective, was I really a failure? Was my life miserable? Or was I choosing to see it that way?

And that’s what saved me. I recognized that I had a choice. We can’t dictate the conditions of our lives most of the time (if at all), but we can choose how to look at our life. We can choose to talk to ourselves with encouragement and kindness and forgiveness and understanding. We can choose to take what we have and make the best of it. We can choose to do what we must, no matter how unpleasant or frustrating, and we can choose to focus on the big picture that makes those unpleasant tasks worth it. It's just so damn easy to forget that we have a choice.

I got here, to this happy place, the hard way. Now, I’m watching my son start this path, and he’s making all the mistakes I did. When he plays his Wii and the going gets tough, he pitches whiny fits and says things like, “This is the worst day of my life!” He’s expecting it all to be roses and clover and fun. He’s not yet learned the discipline of hard work for a worthy goal. A lot of that work isn’t pleasant or fun or exciting. It’s more like learning your multiplication tables or watching a deadly dull documentary on squids. Sometimes, the only way to entertain yourself is to wonder if you can escape a tedious job by poking your eye out with a pencil.

And that’s just not a good idea.

The work of a stay-at-home mom is often tedious, dull, uninspiring. There is also an alarming amount of poop involved. It’s also lonely. Who wants to listen to someone bitch about laundry or that pink stuff that grows in neglected toilets? There are days when I would gladly sacrifice a body part to get out of having to take Jack to therapy. I mean, how screwed up is that? It's not like sitting in a waiting room is that big a deal. But after three-and-a-half years of multiple weekly sessions, I’m just tired of it. When his physical therapist recently informed me that she will probably discharge Jack in March, my joy was not only for his progress but for my gaining an hour a month of freedom from the waiting room.

But life is how you see it. I’m making a home for two sweet boys who need me. I’m able to read great books while sitting in waiting rooms. I’m not the only cook in the house. I have good friends of the real and virtual kind who read my words and understand. I have extended family who will put up with occasional rants about toilets and waiting rooms, and remind me it’s all going to be okay.

I am not just folding laundry, running errands, and scrubbing dishes; I’m keeping my family dressed, taking care of their needs, and ensuring their health.

I’m also nice to myself, making sure I can do what I enjoy at least a little bit every day. Some days it’s just an hour of crafting after everyone else is asleep, but that’s okay.

If I look at it the right way, it’s more than enough.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gratitude Journal #31

Today, I am grateful for

*cold medicine and a family who let me lie on the sofa yesterday and do nothing


*indoor heating


What are you grateful for today?