Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I believe all we have is the result of what God has given us. He is the giver of all good things, and the one responsible for all we have. What we have been given is ours to share with those around us. What we have been blessed with, we use as a blessing to others. I believe this with my whole heart.

Then, there is the side of me that really struggles as I watch the the neighborhood kids play rough with our swing set. Take bits of it apart and damage it. I watch them come to our backyard and grab the scooter to ride it without asking. I watch them walk right through our front door without knocking and look at me and say, "I wanted to play with the skateboard." The first thing out of one of the kids mouth on our block is, "Can I have some apple slices or peanuts and raisins?"

It's just take, take, take. Then I am robbed of the blessing of giving. It starts to turn my heart cold and distant because I don't feel seen as a person. Who we are and what we posses gets taken advantage of. What's even harder is I know that this may be the only time this kid gets fruit for the day, and I want to bless him with that, but my attitude has been hard to deal with lately.

It was interesting after the tornado, everyone was taking. Wires down? Take them and get money for it. Metal, copper, fences, wood, you name it, people were coming in to take it and get what they could for it. I understand this place. You have to fight for every thing you have and if you aren't fighting for it, than you will end up without enough. It's a scrappy little world we live in here in N. Mpls. (As I assume it is the same in other places as well.)

At some point only so much can be taken from you until you grow numb to it.

Today while I was preparing dinner, I watched out my back window as this truck pulled up and a gal got out and started digging through my compost bin and garden. She started harvesting my summer squash. I'm not a big one for confrontation, especially in the ghetto, but I had hit my limit of people just taking from me. I had this overwhelming feeling of surprise that someone would be so confident to just take and harvest someone else's garden in broad daylight. Who does that? I was ticked and offended and hurt.

I walked outside.

I repeatedly said Hi as I walked up to this young gal with her mother looking on from the driver's seat. Turns out it was Rachel, a great lady I met who lives down our block. I met her after the tornado and we chatted even more on national night out at our block party. She felt really bad as I greeted them in the alley.

Here Rachel thought she was harvesting our abandoned neighbor's veggies. (which is a little weird since its directly in our yard, but whatever.) Her daughter quickly gave over the summer squash and apologized and then I felt bad for all the things I was thinking and feeling. They didn't want such great food to go to waste, so they were making sure it got used. Rachel looked at me and said, "I hope you never get to the point of needing to harvest strangers yards for food."

Compassion pulled at my heart. I want all we have to be a blessing to others. On the other hand, fruits and veggies are the primary thing my family eats. Growing our garden vegetables is our most economic way of making it work financially. We need that food. And yet, here was someone who was desperate enough to scrounge in a compost bin and garbage almost. I was humbled, and so we shared. We kept a squash, and they took a squash.

I still don't like being taken from. I would wish to give instead.

In the end, the difference is knowing someones story. They most likely function in a different set of rules and guidelines, and we have the opportunity to invite them into ours. A way of love, blessings, and giving.

Mostly I pray that God can resolve the tension in my heart to be one of trust. To trust him enough to let go, to defend when needed, and to give always.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A bit of mourning

I love tradition. Almost to a unhealthy point. The fall starts five months full of wonderful traditions that my family does. (State Fair, apple picking, pumpkin patches, harvesting the garden and canning, Halloween, Thanksgiving, baking bread, Christmas, the first snow, looking at Christmas lights, etc.)

When I am nostalgic and think on these things, all of these strong memories are intimately connected to food. Food is the key ingredient to my memory. The smells. The tastes. The making food in my kitchen with my kids.

My heart is sad today as I think about all the things I can't eat this year.

Catching the Ice cream truck one last time before he's done for the season.

At the State Fair there won't be any Annie's cookies, Cheesecake on a stick, hot dog, lemonade, Carmel apples with ice cream, sugared almonds. The list here could go on and on.

Apple picking always boasts of cinnamon donuts, apple cider, apple crisp, and old fashion licorice.

In the fall I used to bake a batch of fresh bread once a week. It was simply divine. The smell, the taste, the warmth. My mouth is watering now.

Fall also boasts of candy corn with peanuts. Mmmm. I love those.

Fall also brings the best craft shows and with them some really yummy delicious baked goods to enjoy while you shop. It's the only way to do a craft show.

Halloween. We love trick or treating. Enough said.

Bonfires with roasting marshmallows. In our house we have a bonfire almost every weekend once the sun starts going down earlier. We loved roasting marshmallows.

In Nov. I have a tendency to bake all sorts of speciality breads, and warm pies. Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same without pumpkin pie.

The month of December is probably when I bake and cook the most. Christmas cookies, pies, treats, soups, etc. And the candy canes. And Christmas candy.

Wow, looking at all of it written down, it's a lot to give up.

However, when I read what I'm giving up, most of it is donuts, candy, cookies and pie. I can feel my extra 5-10 pounds each Jan that I swear I won't get next year, but always do.

I also understand that there are some of these sweet memories that I can still do, just in a healthier form. Apple crisp with honey and GF oats or GF cookies (maybe not as many varieties, but that's OK). I also understand that there are GFDF breads out there I can make. I think if ever there was a time in our life when giving up all these things, we are in the best time. There are dozens of recipes and websites out there to help those of us who eat different still thrive in our world.

I also have to remember, that my children don't have 32 years of expectations in their hearts and minds. I am the one that thinks, "I've always had pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving." We are able to start our own new traditions and expectations for the different seasons and all they bring.

The last thing I have to remember is that not everyone approaches holidays and seasons like Americana's do. We over indulge and maybe go over the top in regards to decorations, sweets, treats and food that is hard on our bodies and hearts. Most of us feel guilty or know we shouldn't eat half the stuff we do during holidays, just ask your local gym and see how their memberships rise in Jan.

I have the opportunity to create good and healthy traditions for my kids. It will consist of less cookies and maybe popping popcorn to string on the tree. It will consist of having a bowl of nuts and carob covered raisins out instead of candy corn. Its bringing Hot Chocolate while cutting down our tree instead of cookies. It's finding healthier ways to create the memories that I hold so dear. I don't have it all figured out just yet, but I will.

Today with the hint of fall in the air, I started to crave my traditions and all their goodness. Then I remembered, my life is different now. Healthier, happier, with children who posses more joy and self control. That will make these next five months worth it.

I just hope I can make it through the fair. One step at a time I guess. Tearing down old habits and creating better, healthier ones.

And yes, my children will go trick or treating, we have a plan for that, but that's for another day.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

worst mom ever!

We joke that middle is our magnet head. He seems to always incur the hurt, scrape, bruise, bloody torment. Rough is his middle name.

What's odd is that he is the only one in our family unscathed at the moment.

Three days ago, middle had an incident with little coming off a bunk bed. Little bit her tongue, and the inside and outside of her lip. There was a brief moment of potential stitches. The bleeding finally ceased and it looked like we were in clear. Two cuts instead of all the way through her lip.

Whew, we got away with that.

Then two days later while the boys were acting as secret agents and were looking for a place to hide, Big was crawling on the floor and smashed his face into the corner of the table. (Guess those table edgers are worth something.) I didn't think it was anything, then I saw the blood seep through his hands. His cry told me it was bad, but when he pulled his hands away and I could see muscle through his skin on his forehead above his eyebrow, I threw up a little in my mouth. He was screaming and we got him cleaned up, called dad, got the kids in the car, said a prayer and got two stitches. Big did amazing! No crying while they stitched him up. He breathed like we taught him to and I was one proud mama. (except for the fact that my other children were dissecting all other medical tools while I was trying to take care of big.)

So now I have a child with a scraped nose and cut lip and one with two stitches above his eye. Tonight we went to Big's family picnic to meet his teacher and other classmates. It was going great. Out on the playground I let little run far from me as she pushed our stroller exploring the area, and as she climbed to heights way past her age, but heights that she has mastered and can control. She is physically far beyond her age and thrives on adventure. Then I lost sight of Big and picked up little to go find him.

I had her in my arms, and then I felt it. I jammed my toe on a lip in the sidewalk and I was falling. I'm crying even as I write this. I watched my daughter fall/fly/or get dropped out of my arms as I fell to the ground. The image of her face breaking her fall will forever remain in my mind.

She flew right to the ground and right on her face. I couldn't breathe. I watched her climb and run and slide and she was safe. Then in my arms where she should be safest, I crushed her face. All I could think was, her nose has to be broken and her teeth missing. My daughters face just broke her fall. I scooped her up and there were cuts, scratches and bruises already forming. Her lip was fat and there was blood there. I picked her up and turned in a circle twice trying to figure out what to do. I sat on a bench and just held her and cried my eyes out.

Yes that was me on my son's first introduction to his school and all his new friends and teachers. His mom dropped his sister on the concrete and cried like a baby. All I could do was cry. The last thing any parent wants is their child hurt, and now I had done the hurting, even by accident.

Two mothers came up to me immediately and comforted me and little, getting the school nurse. They were kind and full of compassion telling me it happens to everyone. I doubt that, but their kindness eased my pain as I held her and tried to ease little's pain.

I don't want to post pictures because there is something in me that tells me that I shouldn't. Little's right side of her face has scrapes and bruises and a fat lip. There are no broken bones or missing teeth. She will heal just nicely and in a few days. Granted I shouldn't take her out in public until then though. People might be suspicious. After about an hour she was back to her more normal self that we were expecting. Big is doing amazing with his stitches and you can't even tell. My toe is fat and swollen and it hurts. Every time I feel it throb, I think, I almost broke my daughters face.

The scrapes and scars will go away, but my heart right now feels very wounded at all the pain that was in my house the last few days.

I guess the Tietjen's aren't safe anywhere right now. Please stay away from us, and when you read this, feel better about the kind of parent you are to your children. For some reason the hospital let us take ours home. Oh dear.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A moment to freeze in time

I had all sorts of plans for the day.

Laundry. Dishes. Bank. Store. Bike ride to the Library. Sewing. Phone calls.

Truly, it was going to be a big day.

But the kids were in a good mood. For the most part they were really getting along. We were all laughing and playing this morning (with a moment or two of learning in frustration). Then when I wanted to leave, the kids just really wanted to go outside and play baseball. They wanted me to pitch to them and play catch.

It's hard to say no when there is no real reason for the rush out the door. There wasn't anything on our schedule today that can't be done tomorrow. So we played.

It was beautiful out this morning. Perfect weather. Sunny with a small chill in the air and the promise of a perfect fall day. The boys and I were playing baseball and having such a wonderful time. They were doing amazing and laughing at their hits and misses.

Lu was pushing her truck all over the yard barefoot. It was quiet except the sound of my kids laughing.

Then the trucks rolled in to pull out stumps along our street. It was exciting and we all stopped what we were doing to watch. While I sat on our sidewalk watching our children my heart just swelled with wanting to make time stand still.

My son starts school in a couple weeks and I am mourning the time we won't have anymore. My children at their small, young ages still want to play with me, have fun, giggle at silly jokes. Our lives are still intertwined and we aren't stretched across the country. I can in small ways still protect my kids from things that scare them. I can make the pain go away. This won't always be the case. Soon I will be watching from the sidelines, that's how it feels. The one thing all parent's agree on is that the time goes by way to fast. I am already starting to feel that pain and sadness of seeing my kids grow to fast before my very eyes.

I know there are so many good things to come and I am excited to know my children as adults, but today...I didn't want today to end. I wanted to hold it. I never want to forget the way my children looked today. How carefree they were. How full of joy they were. Much of the sadness that the world can hold hasn't touched them yet and I was thankful for that. I held two of my children in my lap watching the trucks, the sheer excitement of a backhoe picking up a tree. I could feel their pudgy hands in mine. Squeeze two of my children in one hug. They are still so small and so trusting. It was a wonderful moment. One I hope don't forget.

We didn't accomplish anything on our list today, but we had fun playing all day.

What do you eat?

People often ask me this question when they hear that we don't eat gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/pork. I get it. It takes alot of choices out of what's for dinner or a snack really.

There's part of me that enjoys that. I don't need a thousand options. There are fewer ingredients in my house and that makes it helpful in preparing dinner and more adventurous to figure out a new way to cook something.

I have watched in some people's faces as they hear our restrictions and they feel sorry for us, or they wonder why when only Noah has such a strong response, and Caleb a smaller response that we would all partake in the diet.

The thing is, the more we read and talk with people, we understand the danger for all of us in eating these other things. We are really enjoying the diet. The only struggle comes when all the things that we can't eat are brought to us, offered to us, driving by in the ice cream truck, etc. When we are at home and in charge of our meals, we want for nothing. We eat and are completely satisfied.

Last night we had dear friends over for dinner. We drank wine while we prepared the food.

We had corn chips and homemade guacamole mixed with salsa to munch on. I would have taken a picture if my child hadn't eaten it all. It was delish.

For dinner, our friends brought Steak! What a treat for us! We sauteed garlic, onions and mushrooms in wine to top our steak to replace A1 sauce.

We hit the Farmer's market on Saturday and bought Ground Cherries, then picked mint from our garden and made a watermelon/Cherri/mint salad.

Noah and I also found the smallest red potatoes at the market and decided we liked those best because then we didn't have to cut them up and they were much prettier to eat. We picked oregano from the garden and drizzled Olive Oil over the potato's and added a dash of salt and pepper. So yummy!

We were blessed with Iowa sweet corn from Paul's grandparents and decided to pull that from the freezer and enjoy that along with asparagus drizzled with Olive Oil and pepper.

Our dinner was full of flavor and color and was so simple to prepare. The potatoes and asparagus just baked in the oven and the corn cooked in a pot. The men grilled the steaks and presto! Dinner.

For desert, (sorry I didn't take a photo, we were too excited to eat it!) I bought a wonderful berry juice without sugar, poured it in a bowl, and stuck in the freezer. After a day it was frozen, I dragged my fork and spoon over the top, scooped it out like sorbet and topped it with strawberries. So fresh and tasty. It was cold and filled our treat bank in the tummy. We all have a treat compartment, don't lie to yourself. This filled it perfectly.

After dinner the kids played, then got baths and the adults were able to enjoy great conversation in the quiet of the house.

I noticed after the huge amount of food that we all ate after dinner that I felt satisfied. I didn't feel full and sluggish or felt guilty at all I ate. It was wonderful. It was satisfying and it didn't leave me feeling guilty or tired or wanting to undo my top button of my pants. (I actually wore a dress, so that doesn't count, but still.)

We don't eat this extensive meal every night. But the formula is the same. Paul and I are actually going to nail down our week meal plan tonight. We plan on eating the same thing every week with a few exceptions with what's on sale. This will help us with our budget and my stress of figuring out what to eat. If you are curious, you can check back tomorrow and see what a "Joy Free" diet looks like.

Be forewarned, it is anything but joy free.

***Disclaimer. When I read blogs like the I am posting I often have this image of the family I am reading about. They are all homey, clean clothes, laughing and peaceful in the way they treat each other. I hear garden and I think full and thriving plot of land where the gardener spends hours of her time tending to the needs of the plants. I hear they had friends over and I think their house is clean and orderly.

This is not my life. We threw all our crap in our bedroom so our friends wouldn't see it. My garden, if you can call it that, is mostly hidden under weeds and shingles that have fallen from our roof. My mother did an amazing job helping me at least find most of my plants this weekend and pulled a bunch of weeds. My kids were playing in the water and were drenched when they came to dinner. We ate outside amongst all the neighborhood debris and we have never owned an outside dinner table. Everyone had to hold their plates in their laps and we watched as our children and the neighbor kids fight and decide who they were friends with. It was chaotic but wonderful. Dirty, messy, and wonderful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Noah's story continues

I have been meaning to write this blog for quite some time. In my dreams, I would have links to famous doctors and authors who are on the cutting edge of research. I would have solid proof that what I want to tell you is real and legit. I want article after article proving all the claims I want to make.

But I can't.

I haven't had much time for cooking and cleaning, let alone blogging and then researching. I browse and I talk with others and get my information from them, but my research is just beginning.

My research might just be beginning, but my proof already exists. In my son.

Another reason I haven't posted in awhile about Noah's progress is that I didn't want to write it too early. I didn't want to make any claims and then have it turn out not to be true. It's been three months now, and I feel confident that though I can't give you medical proof or explain all the ins and outs of dietary restrictions, I can share my story and what I know so far.

Disclaimer**** I want to put this here in the beginning instead of at the end, in case you don't make it that far. I am not a medical professional or an alternative health specialist. I am a mom whose son has not been diagnosed with anything but leaky gut right now. I have not done all the research, but have seen the dramatic effects of food in relation to behavior. (he had no strong physical reaction to anything like stomach aches, headaches, throwing up, etc.) In this blog I am not diagnosing your child or sibling or self saying that if you have similar issues, you have food issues. I will state that if you carefully watch your child, sibling or self in what you eat, you might be surprised. If you are in doubt or wonder if your child might have more issues than just being strong willed, take a chance with the diet. We started the diet change in a place of doubt, but we are firm believers now. Changing your diet is not a cure all for all ailments, but I stand on the side that I think it changes and improves almost everything. And truly, you'll never know if you don't try it. You may be missing out on a more peaceful existence if your courageous enough to try. And your child could be released from an emotional/behavioral prison if you give it a chance.*****

In my last blog about Noah I explained that we went to Wyndgate Health in St. Paul and Noah got tested for Gluten and Dairy allergies, along with discovering his low levels of certain vitamins. We went GFDF immediately and saw a difference within days.

What do I mean by difference? One of my husbands favorite moments to share is when he took Noah to a T-ball practice. When they pulled up, Noah was adamant that Paul had the wrong field. He was supposed to have a game at a different field, not practice. He was angry, confused, and yelling with tears that dad had it wrong. He was growing anxious and terrified that he would miss his game. We felt this was a bit over the top response for a T-ball practice. You can be confused, but yelling and crying and shouting and calling your dad a lier is a bit much for an almost six year old. Paul pointed out to the field, and showed him his team practicing. They still needed to call me to confirm it, and once that happened, Noah calmed down and went out to practice.

My favorite is that our family has a rule that you have to stay in bed until 7am. We are loud so you can read quietly in bed till then if you wake up ahead of time. Noah woke up one morning at 645am and I told him he could grab a book but he had to stay in bed. He got so angry with me. He was crying and thrashing in his bed, (this is when I really knew something was wrong.) He couldn't stop. This went on till 7am. I told him he couldn't come out until he found control and could stop. It went on for another 30 min. He couldn't understand or make a choice to stop and realize that he could come out. He was slurring his words. He was thrashing around in the bed. He was lost to us in a state of utter and complete despair and anger. he was full of rage and hurtful words.

These things would happen randomly even though most of the time, everything else was a battle, or a discussion, or debate, or frustration for the fact that he didn't like what I had to say, or someone else for that matter. He couldn't join Karate because he was too emotional. When he got upset, which was often, he would start to tense every muscle because he couldn't control the emotion and rage starting to build. His eyes would be so angry. His words would be so hurtful, and he would always need to hit something. Hit something or throw something, or kick something. Anger and rage and tears. So many tears. And lots of yelling.

These episodes stopped within days of cutting out gluten and dairy. If he was upset with me, it lasted for no more than two minutes. And even after that he was extremely sorry. Most of the time after cutting these two things out of his diet, he could comply really easy to what we were doing.

Pause*** I understand that food allergies and intolerance's have become one of the leading ways to help curve/curb/cure ADD, ADHD, Asbergers, Autism, Sensory issues, and other issues that fall in this line. I didn't really see any symptoms lining up with this list in regards to Noah. I just had what I considered a normal kid who was really sensitive and hot tempered like his mom and dad. I considered it genetics so I wasn't really looking.

Well, we adhered to our new diet for two weeks and then the tornado hit. For about a week, something was still off. Noah was doing so much better. SO MUCH BETTER I didn't want to complain, but when he would still get mad at me, his eyes changed.

Parent's pay attention to the eyes!

They would fill with hate and rage, even for the briefest of moments. For two minutes max. I thought, well, its a ton better, maybe this is normal behavior? How am I supposed to know? But something still felt off.

After the tornado, Calvary Lutheran church where Paul used to work in Golden Valley rallied around us and helped us so much. They knew we were on a restrictive diet, and one of the congregation members volunteered to bring us food. He name is Dawn and she is a Naturopath. She brought bags of groceries and we sat and talked for a little while as the kids played.

It was great to pick her brain and I felt comfortable enough to discuss my small concerns about the diet not working as well as I thought it would. She started talking about mold build up and creating enough enzymes in his body, and I started to feel overwhelmed. She told me to come to her office in Golden Valley and she would test Noah for some other issues to see what else was going on.

Mold issues? More allergies? Tornado stress? Sleep deprived?

I felt lost and confused. I was standing in this place where all my walls got pushed down already. The way were eating had already changed so much. I mean, really? No sandwiches ever?! Come on! Now there might be other things. I started to find myself not knowing anything about food anymore. I didn't know what I was looking for when assessing my son's behavior. I didn't know what was a food thing, or an emotional thing, or a spiritual thing, or a physical thing, or a behavioral thing. Why was he acting up? What was he upset about? Was it really him, or was his body processing poison?

I wanted to scream that I didn't know anything anymore! How can you parent your kids or take care of them if you don't know what's going on with them? Man I felt lost.

We came home from the wedding in St. Louis and went to NewDawn clinic. There we discovered through an electric computer testing program that Noah wasn't just allergic to Gluten and Dairy, but ALSO

Soy/High Fructose Corn Syrup/Sugar/White potato's/Pork and all kinds of barley and wheat.

It started to make so much sense. To overcompensate the things we were taking out of his diet, we supplemented other fun things like juice, bacon, ham rolls, homemade french fries and fun candy for treats.

All the things he shouldn't be eating. So even though his body wasn't getting pounded by poison, we were still unknowing shoving it in. So ever since Memorial weekend our family has been Gluten/Dairy/Soy/potato/sugar free. We have traveled the country and it has been a challenge. Almost once a week my husband and I look at each other and we say, "Is this worth it?"

Then we look at our son. We remember all the previous things I have written about. Now our son stops and thinks before he freaks out, most of the time. He looks at me and at my request, says, "Yes Madam. OK mom." The sweet boy that everyone is used to, is my son most of the time now. Don't get me wrong, he is still six. He is still a sinner. He is still learning. He is still a kid. We have issues. We have breakdowns. We still struggle to share. We still struggle to listen. He's still six is what I'm saying. But there is more peace in my house now more than ever. Where we were feels like night and day from where we are now. The extra bonus is that my kids are eating healthier than ever before as well. All we eat is fruit and veggies and lean meat and lots of eggs.

Another strong benefit is that we are enjoying our son more than ever before. I feel like I am really getting to know him all over again. We can talk about stuff and he can listen. Again, he's still Noah which is a boy who loves to run, climb and dive into impromptu dance parties. He talks all the time and can't wait to share all he knows. He still has the same amount of energy and spirit and life. The difference is his capability to stop and think and make choices.

So, yes, the Tietjen's are on a huge diet. Paul likes to call it the joy free diet. Ironically, we have more joy in this house than ever before.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rhythm and Discipline

My life is in serious need of these two things right now. We are feeling the very negative effects of vacation and lazy days of summer.

My life is lacking rhythm. I take that back, there is always rhythm to life, but I'm not a fan of how mine looks right now. It's all reactive and none of it is proactive. All I do is play catch up and I don't want to plan our days so we are busy. We've been busy this summer and I want us to just wake up, do our morning routine and then find adventure in our yard or house or whatever. I like the idea of days on end with nothing on the calendar, but it's not working for us. I need something on the calendar or I need to make a fun activity feel impromptu but have it already planned for the kids.

When I'm already tired and there's nothing on the calendar, I get lazy. Down right, look at the house and ignore it lazy. I start disengaging with my children because they pose so many demands on me and then I grow tired by the minute.

I'm tired of eating baby carrots, grapes and banana's but too tired to cook.

When my rhythm of life is out of whack, I lack discipline to do the healthy habits that make me feel alive and ready for life. Eating right, exercising, showering regularly, sleeping, reading scripture. I haven't had the discipline for any of these life building activities, but that is going to change. I can't keep going on like this. I need to be proactive in changing the rhythm of my life.

These are my goals:

Wake up every morning at 6am before the kids and three days a week go for a run. The other four days to read and journal and pray. My soul is parched and in dire need of refreshment.

Stick to a strict bedtime of 1030pm. 11pm if Paul is home.

Create a chore schedule so that I don't feel overwhelmed and can tackle just one job a day.

Create one fun puzzle or game or activity for the kids and I per day.

That's all I can commit to right now. I have grand ideas of meal planning again, coupon clipping, pre making meals and freezing them, but frankly I can't think that much still. I'm still trying to survive and hoping just these few things will help.

A toast to better rhythm and bedtime soon! Yay!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


(Here is a short little bit I wrote while in the black hills of SD.)

It never fails. I always have them even when I try really hard not to.

This is our third year attending family camp at Outlaw Ranch in SD and we love it! Paul does music for the week and we get to tag along. We try to prepare, we enjoy the ride out and do all sorts of adventures during the week.

This year has proved to be a year of unvoiced, unknown, unmet expectations.

We have three kids this year which has proved a whole different ball game. A harder one at that too.

Here is a list of all the things I wasn’t expecting that has changed our experienced here at camp:

The boys having friends here that they have seen the last three years and wanting to play with them instead of us.

Our family sitting alone at a table because of our dietary needs, having a baby and generally just being really loud messy eaters makes us unapproachable to strangers.

Having a baby that needs to nap during our family outing time.

Heading to the cabin for bed time while the rest of camp sets off to campfire. (one of my favorite things ever!)

It being 110 degrees so our family can’t go out and enjoy the hundreds of hiking trails along the way.

Wanting ice cream and not being able to have it.

Being in a cabin far from the bathroom and having children that need to use it multiple times in the middle of the night and day.

Paul and I thinking it was a family vacation but only seeing each other to pass off children or responsibility. Our famous line is, “tag you’re it”.

Paul’s grandfather passing away this morning.

Forgetting to bring pillows and sheets for Paul and I, because apparently we only think about what the kids need. Blankets and clean clothes work wonders for a pillow.

Thinking I would have tons of time to read while I stay in the cabin with children, and instead being so tired I just sleep.

Thinking that all my expectations would be met.

What I have to come to realize is that if you have expectations, they will get you every time. They will disappoint you, level you and leave you feeling empty and hurt and sad.

When we live in expectations we only see what we want to see and only expect others to live the way we demand them to. When they don’t live up to our expectations, then we are left disappointed and we can no longer see truth, only hurt.

Camp started out rough. Letting go of expectations and accepting our week for what it was and my children for who they are and not who I want them to be.

After letting go of my expectations, the week was amazing.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My kids know too much

I have yet to figure out why I share these less than admirable moments with all of you, but here goes another one cause I laughed really hard on the inside.

Today I looked around my house and saw the piles of laundry, the limited clean dishes, the toys and food on the floor and the bills piled high. I saw it and then decided to take my kids to the park. (I told you I have a hard time coming back to normal life after a long vacation. I wasn't kidding.)

On our way out the door we packed up a lunch and headed out. We were meeting friends at 10am and it was 955am. The park is 20 minutes away. Big was riding his bike and middle wanted to ride his scooter. He got it out the door and hopped on. I told him we needed to head to the car and this is where chaos started.

Since the day middle was born he has had an ear piercing scream. Only one scream for all things. It's a life and death cry. It's loud and it's annoying. And it hasn't changed.

At the instant of saying he couldn't ride his scooter, I heard the cry. I was walking to the garage with big to put his bike away and the cry followed us.

Mistake #1 - I didn't really care about middle's feelings, I was distracted by how frustrated I was that early in the morning by the crying. So I started to approach my son, not with grace and help, but from a place of selfishness and frustration.

We entered the garage and he was crying about not getting a chance to ride his scooter and he wanted to bring it with us. I told him he couldn't because we were going to the playground to be with his friends. He kept crying saying he wanted to bring it with him and that he didn't get a chance to ride it that morning.

I told him once more he couldn't bring it and we had to get in the car. He said he wasn't moving. He wasn't going.

Mistake #2 - Middle was in the garage and I was outside the garage holding little. I told him nicely we were leaving now and started to close the garage. I was holding three bags and a baby and my middle kid was not cooperating. I needed to him to hurry, I didn't want to discuss this with him and help him understand. I just wanted him to obey me. So in an effort to get my way, I scared my child to think that I would lock him in the garage. I am not proud. I am actually very sad that this was my response. However, he came right out.

The kids and I make it to our car parked on the street and everyone is getting in except middle. I have little buckled in, all the bags in and big is in. I hop in the driver seat and middle is looking at me from outside the car on the curb crying to me that he wants his scooter. He looks at me and shows me that his scooter can fit under his feet and Noah's bike could fit in the back if I would just move the stuff around.

(That's kind of the point middle, I don't want to take the time and be even later and move all the stuff around so you can throw a temper tantrum and get your way.)

I nicely told him no and it was time to get in the car because we were all ready. He looked at me and said with all defiance,

"I will come with you. I will stay right here." and he shut the door.

Mistake #3 - (I can't believe I am admitting this.) I drove two feet in the car away from my son. I couldn't believe I did it when I did, and the look on his face made my heart ache. He truly thought I would leave him, but that is what I was communicating to him. I stopped the car almost immediately and he opened the door. He was crying and he said one more time, all I want is to bring my scooter. Please mom, can we bring my scooter?

I told him to get in the car. I realized at the moment that it didn't matter if we were late that is a park, and the other kids would be playing till we got there. I wasn't sure why I didn't the bike and scooter. There was no real reason. So I went to the alley and we got the scooter.

Before I got out of the car, I looked at my middle child and said, "You know mom doesn't support whining, and if you throw a temper tantrum you never get what you want. But I should have listened, and there is no reason not to bring your bike, so you can bring it. Next time instead of crying and screaming, please just talk to mom."

I was very cool about it. I never yelled or lost my temper. I was just calm.

Once we were all loaded in and we started to drive away, my middle child said,

"Mom, I'm gonna pray for you."

Big said, "Caleb can you say it quietly so I can hear too and pray for mom?"

My thought was, Are you kidding me? We're praying for me and its you two who can't handle the temper tantrums!

So middle prayed. This is was his prayer to God almighty who hears all we say.

"Dear God please help mommy and her temper tantrums. Take her temper away from her. Amen."

Big, "Amen. Good prayer Caleb."

Wow, sold out by own kid. Well, two can play at that game. I said.

"Caleb can I pray for you?" (oh yeah, you know where this is going.)

Me, "Dear God I thank you for my children and this day we will have together. Lord I ask that when Caleb and I disagree that you would help us communicate better and that when he is angry with me, he would use his words and talk to me instead of screaming. Lord help him to surrender his temper to you. Amen."

Mistake #4 - using prayer as a weapon to teach my kid a lesson.

I thought, that will teach him. I believe scripture says, before looking at the speck in someones eye, take the logo out of your own eye.

Did you hear me middle? That's right, scripture says to work on yourself first.

Oh, wait.

The bird and the soilder

by: Jake Erkens

Joy gives you wings
In difficult circumstances;
The problems don't go away,
but you can rise above them

Joy is not just a feeling or emotion
Joy is the pleasure of life
Life in itself cannot be life without Joy
Life is hard, but Joy can overcome it

Joy is only there if you accept it
Joy can be found at any time of the day
Say Joy were an angel, it would save you
Say Joy were a demon, it would haunt you

However, Joy can be anything you like or love
Mainly Joy comes to help you through life

Times of trials comes
Times of sadness comes
Joy is in the heart
Joy is bigger then sadness

Joy gives you wings to live another day
Joy is the reason why people smile back at you
Joy is Joy when you accept it

Instead of being the mom who was in charge of everything today, I got to go to a friends house and swim and enjoy friendship all day.

While Lu slept, I had this precious 45 minutes to play with my boys. To really play and laugh and make up silly jumps off the diving board.

That's all we did, jump off the diving board.

I'll be honest, I had this moment of not wanting to do it, but I thought, this would be fun to do with them, and I should do it. So I forced myself into the pool and into their world.

Moms rarely get to play. They are too busy taking care of the baby, holding the baby, preparing for a meal or cleaning up from meal. They are organizing all the activities, or changing diapers, or wiping butts or putting band aids on. Or to be totally honest, if everyone is busy, just sitting down and talking to another adult without interruption is the best thing in the world, so you sometimes you don't want to join the fun, you just want to sit.

Today I got to play and it filled my heart with joy.

When I play with my kids it gives me the opportunity to fall in love with them all over again. It shows me their laugh, their silliness, their imagination.

Playing with my kids reconnects me and strengthens the bond I have with them.

I am so thankful to my friend who provided the house and the sitter and the meals for a wonderful day away. A day away from responsibility and all the things that prevent me from playing with my kids.

Being reminded of that kind of play and joy has helped remind me to find it in my everyday life. To make the time to play. To force myself to be aware of the joy. I don't always have to be the rule enforcer, and dinner can sometimes wait.

I want more joy in my life.

Caleb's best jump was the bird where he pretended to be a bird even drowning in the water.

Noah's best jump was the solider.

I think mine was a flip since I'd never done one before! Yay go me!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Tutors

I am currently slightly addicted to the Showtime TV show, The Tutors. OK, I lie, I am REALLY addicted to it. If you get past the flesh of the show, it just gets me thinking about so many things, the primary one being the station of women.

To be given in marriage with no consent.

To be given into an affair with the blessing of your father to further your family's standing.

To watch your husband have elicit affair after affair and you can only sit by and watch because if you have an affair, there is no way to prove that the child you carry is your husbands which is critical for survival.

If you can't bear a son, you are nothing.

You are rendered useless once you have born a son. You have done your job and there is now no use for you.

You are not seen for who you are, but for what pleasure you can bring a man.

The woman has no voice, no vote, no opinion, no say.

If you were born a girl and not a boy, there was immediate disappointment. You were unwanted right from your birth.

My free American brain can not conceive these ideas, these limitations, this slavery.

I have an opinion about almost everything.

I have an avenue for my voice to be heard in multiple arena's.

I met a man and fell in love and got the joyous opportunity to marry him by choice.

My heart is saddened and heavy when I watch period pieces. It makes me so grateful, and thankful and indebted to all the men and women who fought for me to have this voice. All the time, energy, money, and lives that were sacrificed for me to have this voice.

It also makes me very aware that there are thousands of women who still live in prison.

Who have no voice.

Who have no choice.

Who have no one to listen.

Please pray for all the women and children and men who live in emotional, social, and political prisons.

OK, now I have to continue watching the next episode. I just can't help myself.