Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Season of Thanksgrumbling

**In searching for this graphic, I found out something very cool about this verse. It's listed word for word in the Bible several times. 1 Chronicles 16:34, 2 Chronicles 20:21, Psalms 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 118:29, 136:1 and Jeremiah 33:11. That's EIGHT times. Wow!

I'm sure you've all seen the barrage of "thankful" posts on Facebook. The ones where, for the 30 days of November, people post what they're thankful for. This is a great practice, ...  that completely bugs the crap out of me. Maybe to me it feels like bragging? That I'm so bah-humbug I don't want to hear about all the good crap in someone else's life? That I'm not very thankful? Or maybe that I think people should do it in private? All year long? I'm not sure exactly what about it bothers me. I've thought about it. It's probably all that stuff. And I'm sure it points out a blemish on my own heart.

You can probably imagine my delight when reading through my lovely little devotional this month, each day - again - focusing on being thankful. I've been having to put in a MUCH more concerted effort to concentrate and get through these two little paragraphs. But I'm persevering. Sometimes. 

Strangely, *cough cough*, it's a lot easier for me to recognize these things in someone else, the Negative Norman's and Nelly's, than in myself. sigh. I guess the self-improvement continues. :)   Haha! Yeah, totally joking. The self-improvement will go on for  f.o.r.e.v.e.r  over here. (and I'm totally ok with that. I think.)

So when I read this little passage, I instantly thought of someone (or two) I know. After reading it about 12 more times, I think, it "could" be for me to consider and apply, too. ahem.

A constant focus on adversity defeats (you). (You) walk through days brimming with beauty and brightness seeing only the grayness of (your) thoughts. Neglecting the practice of giving thanks has darkened (your) mind. ~Sarah Young**

Let me repeat that: A constant focus on adversity defeats you. Hm. Ok. Yeah. I can see that. In me? Oh.... well. Yeah, I guess. "Your day is brimming with good stuff but you focus only on the bad." Pshhh. I don't feel defeated. Oh, wait. Yeah I do. gulp.

I was talking on the phone today, grumbling, about how people want to rush into Christmas and almost rush right over Thanksgiving, with the sales, putting up the tree, yadda yadda. Why can't they focus on the good of this season? On being thankful, on being with family, on extending a generous hand or invitation, on eating good food and relaxing?

Wait. Did "I" just say that? Why can't "they" focus???

I have a lot to be thankful for. Healthy, happy children, a loving, hardworking husband, a warm home, cars to drive, safety and protection, a cat I like even if he does pee on everyone's shoes (shhhhh. don't tell the hubs.) and money to pay the bills and cover all our needs. I have great parents, brothers I have grown to love as adults in ways I never thought possible as a child, great friends, a community of fellow believer people - friends - who send me cards of encouragement **IN THE MAIL**  when I have down days. Lots. to. be. thankful. for. I guess my speech needs to reflect that. My children need to hear my speech reflect that. I.... I need to hear my speech reflect that. And I need my dismal, critical, down in the dumps outlook to take a back seat.

Amen to that! ^^^ 

And a big thanks to those friends of mine who "let me" to see not only the speck in their eye, but the log in my own. ;)

 **Jesus Calling, November 26, please pardon my "alterations".

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Unexpected outcomes

I have had the amazing experience lately of watching my girls. Something's changed.

Normally you would think of summer being filled with friends and fun. While I did my best to create fun times this summer, it would not be honest to paint any kind of rosy picture of what our summer looked like. I'm not entirely sure why, but that's another post to ponder. (and to ponder later - I'm still recovering from all the madness.)

We live in a great small town where kids can freely "roam" and play, and I don't really worry about their safety. The roads don't see a ton of traffic, there are no drive-by shootings or dealers on street corners. Everybody knows most everybody (except me, I don't know anyone). You'd think this would be a great recipe for hanging out with friends, but small towns also tend to be part of consolidated school districts and rural living so alas, most of my kids' friends don't actually live in our town. For the girls, they do have friends close by, but various circumstances and schedule conflicts prevented them from playing together very often. This, by default, left my girls forced to play with each other. They had to find companionship right here at home. 

For someone who never had a sister, this sounds like a dream, but things haven't always been smooth between the two of them, mostly due to the odd jealousy of the older one. She didn't like being copied (idolized) or having to share her space (the air she breathed), her interests (anything girly), her tastes (right down to not having the same kind of fruit or sandwich at lunch), the color pink, or even her outgrown clothing. And she most certainly didn't want to have to play with her. Oh, the horror! I suppose this is the bi-product of the two-year age gap. But like it or not, there's a sister and she just had to get over it. We were constantly talking to her about their relationship and her (less than stellar) treatment of her younger sibling. I'm not sure if it ever made any difference.

Imagine my surprise when I would wake up summer mornings to hear them laughing together, before they were even out of bed. More and more often they would play games or dress-up, make up dances or whatever imaginary fun they were having, and there would be much less bossing around, much more camaraderie and sharing, and much, much more love. It has made my mama-heart swell to see my girls becoming friends. I love love love seeing that they enjoy being together, having their own special secrets, seeing kindness reciprocated, standing up for one another, and the list goes on. You're sisters for life. Isn't it so much better if you're friends, too?

If this is the one good thing to come out of this summer (ok, there was more than one good thing, but there were plenty of challenges that tipped the scales), then I would say this summer was a success. I realize that there may be ups and downs, as there are in any relationship, but to see the upside FINALLY come - basically for the first time - has been wonderful.

And in case you were wondering, my girls have deemed September 25th Annual Sisters Day, forevermore. Let the giggling and bad eyeliner sharing begin.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


To say that parenting has been challenging this summer would be an understatement of the century. In my experience with kids, there's that summer "initiation" process of new rules, new boundaries, who can do what that they couldn't do last summer, extra freedom, and always ALWAYS pushing of the envelope. Yeah, that just hasn't ever ended this summer. Add to that some other lovely behaviors (some of which could be traced back to mine - dontcha just looooove it when your kids mirror you??? It's fan-freaking-tabulous), negative attention getters, terrible two's tantrums (again with the mirror here), and problems of epic proportions with neighborhood children... uffda. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

I've been trying to keep it fun with activities like dance classes, swimming lessons, tae kwondo, picnics, parks, ets. But with all the driving (and bickering from the backseat), I need a break. It'll have to wait til September 5th when school starts. 

Long story short, I get to the end of the day, (or sometimes the middle of the day, or, other days I make it til mid morning) and just don't think I will make it, that I'm not cut out to be a parent, that I'm screwing my kids up more than helping them grow. And sadly, I often times get to the point that I really even have a hard time enjoying them. I work at it, because that makes me feel bad, but a lot of times I'd just rather flee. I don't want hugs, or bedtime stories, I'd rather they pee out the window than to come downstairs so I have to see/hear/deal with them one more second or 90. 

Tonight was one such night. The whining, complaining, pestering, hitting, etc had caused a general overload of my senses and my parenting abilities. Actually, these happen often.

What I usually do is eat, think about intoxicating myself - though mostly I think that just thinking about drinking is enough of a stress reliever that I don't actually have to do it and then deal with the morning after bit - and vedge out on FB. It's a FB and chocolate night tonight.

I'm sure I could be so much more productive during this time to make my life easier for the rest of the time, but that's some wishful thinking at this point. I'm decompressing. And tonight, FB conspired to make me cry. Dangnabit! (Crying, btw, is a great decompressor.) But... in such a good way.

I watched this video (or actually, one that was set to "My Redeemer Lives" but I can't find that one and MercyMe gets the job done too). Then this one. So as I was sobbing away, and continuing thru my FB feed, a friend posted this one of her son. 

So from these videos and songs, this is what I took away:
  • "I know my Redeemer lives. The very same god who spins things in orbit, runs to the weary, the worn and the weak. And the same gentle hands that hold me when I'm broken, they conquered death to bring me victory. And I know, my redeemer lives." - Nicole C. Mullins
  • "I can only imagine what it will be like, when I walk, By your side, I can only imagine, What my eyes will see, when your face, is before me. I can only imagine. Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel, will I dance for you Jesus, or in awe of you be still, will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall, Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all?" -MercyMe
  • A video of a man who loved his son so much, who sacrificed, and worked, and I'm guessing he never complained or grumbled about it but instead felt honored to be able to do so. Something I certainly can't boast of.
  • The shining, exhilarated face of a man crippled and disfigured with cerebral palsy who was ALIVE, happily so, on a race he couldn't run/swim/bike himself but who lives with the motto "I CAN." His video ended with the scripture, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
  • And as the tears are streaming down my face, having been reminded that HE strengthens me, and that I CAN be a good parent, through Him, I watched the last video of another sweet, special needs boy (I think he's about 10 yrs old?), who himself was moved to tears by the song, the sentiment, the haunting emotion of the song "Halleluja."  "And even though, it all went wrong, I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Halleluja...." - Leonard Cohen.
Halleluja, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Thank GOD that He does. Because otherwise where would I be? Thank God that He and FB conspired against me, made me cry, made me take a deep breathe and release a whole lotta pent up anger and frustration, spoke to me that He has my back, and my front, and up, down and side, humbled me, and gave me the ability to say, I'll try again tomorrow. I'll love them a little more tomorrow.

And may I just say, parents of special needs kids have gifts I don't have. More than just a special kid, but a special capacity to love that I'm not sure I'm capable of. It blesses and humbles me to know such people. 

God Bless.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Here's your sign

We live in a nice, quiet, little town in rural America, where the children can play outside without worry of guns, drugs or kidnappers. Granted, there's also not much to "do" here. A few parks, a grain elevator, a bar, a diner and a gas station. Oh, and let's not forget the volunteer fire department. But we like the quiet. We like the safety.

There is a park across the street from my house, which is great because it's almost an extension of my yard. My monkeys are over there, along with many other kids, at any given time of day. People even come from out of town to play at this park. It gets a lot of use. We also happen to live on the corner of "Main Street" and a county highway that runs through our sleepy little village. The highway sees traffic from semi trucks hauling grain and pigs, people going from one village to the next, motorcycle groups doing (barhop) "rides" and even a bicycle race every summer. While the highway turns before the park, the road in front of the park still gets a fair amount of traffic from residents and errant motorcyclists who missed the sign.  Though there is a stop sign at the end of the block,  people often drive faster than they should, especially given that there's a park full of children there. (Never mind my 2 yo escape artist who has been known to take it upon himself to sneak out and go to the park on his own. I could write a whole post on his escape tactics, they're that impressive.) We've heard cars hit the brakes before.

One of my neighbors, who's children are grown, really has a bee in her bonnet (rightly so) about how fast people drive here, and has tried to get a removable speed bump put up. The most surprising thing is that the speeding offenders are often  parents of younger children. Go figure. While the council thought it was cost prohibitive to put up a speed bump, they decided on putting up some extra signs.

The first of such signs was put up yesterday.

Our lovely town cop placed a small stand-alone sign (as seen at the top) in the middle of the street right as you enter our block.

After about half an hour (no exaggeration), a young mom, talking on her cell phone, comes cruising around the corner and SMOKES the sign. (Kong was there to witness this whole event.)  Since she had a street sign jammed under her car and windshield washer fluid pouring everywhere so she didn't have much choice, she stopped, got out, and proceeded to get mad about "who puts a blankety blank sign in the middle of the bleeping street??" My husband was quick to point out that at least it was a "blankety blank sign and not a blankety blank kid." "Huh. Yeah. No kidding," she said.

Guess it proves the point that it needs to be there.

Here's your sign, sweetheart. **rolls eyes** Heeeere's yer sign.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Kelly's Easy Meatballs

I have this recipe for meatballs that is Deee-LISH!

My secret ingredient? FRESH bread crumbs. Take 2 slices of bread and toss them in your blender or processor (I have a processor attachment for by blender that is aWeSoMe! Very handy.) I use the bread ends for this. So do that. No need to toast them. The freshness makes the meatballs nice and moist. Trust me. Once, out of laziness, I used store-bought, dried out bread crumbs. Gross. 

And because I wouldn't be me without 21 adaptations to every recipe I use, and because I have a larger family, I often "stretch" the recipe by adding in ground turkey. The kind from Aldi that comes frozen in a tube. It's about $1.69 for a roll. Price of hamburger these days is like, what? $3.99 / lb some days? On a super sale $2.50? So yeah. Turkey. BUT!!! Don't use more than 2 to 1 (one lb hamburger, 1/2 lb turkey, unless you use the better quality ground turkey maybe) cuz then the texture gets... weird. Another bonus: the turkey makes them healthier. Oh, and I use 85/15 burger. I would not do 93/7. Too dry. Too flavorless. Blech.

Ok. Enough blabbering.

Easy Meatballs

1 lb hamburger
1 Tbsp parsley flakes (you could use fresh too for some serious flavor)
1 Tbsp Parmesan
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder, or fresh, if you're feelin' jazzy
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs

Mix burger and spices, plus egg. Add bread crumbs in last after all other ingredients are mixed. Roll into balls 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Cook in med to large pan over med heat. Turn and cover. You could also bake in oven at 400 for 20-25 minutes, or 350 for 30. 

These are so delicious they don't need sauce. My kids often eat them with Parmesan buttered spaghetti, cuz certain picky kids don't like sauce. 

Oh, and if you add turkey, make sure you up the rest of the ingredients too, including egg. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Special Person

Winter Dance Recital - Feb 2013

In the Kindergarten classes here in our town, each child has a week when they are the Special Person, or, Star of the Week. It's a great chance for the kids to share just a little extra about themselves, show off some special things, and also hear what the other students think makes them special.

This week it was Miss Cheeks' turn.

A few days old - January 2007
A few months old - June 2007 
We filled out her questionnaire, gathered some pictures, and a few other things for her to take to school. Some time during the week, that child gets a special time to talk about the things they brought. At the end of the week, in the Kindergarten News newsletter, a summary of that child's "stuff" is given. I love reading these. Five year olds are fascinating, hilarious, and certainly imaginative. What will they come up with?

August 2010

Here is Cheeks' summary: (and yes, I've been waiting all week to read it!)
Miss Cheeks was the special person this week in Mrs. TheBestKinderTeacher's classroom. Cheeks has 3 brothers, George, Boots and Huggyface, and 2 sisters, Koko and Schweetheart. They live in OurTown. Cheeks and her family vacationed at Wild Mountain. She especially liked the water slide. Cheeks likes to visit her Grandma and Grandpa's house where they have tea parties. She showed us her pretty dance class outfit and all the patches that she has earned in Girl Scouts. We were very impressed that she can do the splits. At home she helps out by cleaning her room (really?), doing dishes (hm... must be secret dishes), and shoveling snow (well,... ok, kinda). Taya likes the secret handshake that they have. Wes thinks that she is a good runner, and Elle says that they play school outside. When she grows up, Cheeks would like to be a cake decorator, ride horse for a hobby (never mind that she's never been close to a horse), and live in the country. (I have no idea what her reasoning is for this. But it's interesting. And I agree. :-D )
January 2011

Most often the answers from classmates are things like, play at recess, good at math. So secret handshake? Love it. I'll have to ask her about that. Runner? I laugh. Because she's a total klutz  often tripping over her own feet or even running into walls. (which also makes me laugh. Is that bad?) The careers question is interesting too, though there are many who answer farmer or some such occupation that a family member probably has. No one EVER picks to live someplace exotic like New York, or Africa. They're all pretty much wanting to live right where they live now.

The other kid? Wants to be an election judge (now that's a unique one), swim for a hobby, and live in the same house he lives in now. (See?)

*pics are some she chose to bring to school. And she was very specific about not wanting ones where she was naked. I wonder why? ;)

Easter - March 2013

Well, Miss Cheeks, you are definitely special, 
and you're certainly a star in my world. 
Your sweet spirit and bubbly personality shine very brightly!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Spoiler alert: You are about to see my kids' Valentine's.... BEFORE Valentine's day. GASP! ...or whatever. 

For some strange reason, let's blame Pinterest, I decided that this year I wanted to make the school Valentine's. Not that there's anything wrong with box Valentine's. I've done them before and will do them again. But I always appreciate something creative, something not the norm. However, my "appreciating" doesn't always make me able/capable/organized enough to actually do something out of the norm. Hello! Five kids does not allow much time for putz-y artsy craftsy fun stuff. Nevermind that it's about 75 somethings I would have to make. And, crafty stuff isn't always cheap.

Introducing.... my wacky Valentine idea. :D

The little Chinese symbol means "friendship." (I thought "love" was probably a bit much for Kinder, second and third graders.)

I get my best ideas while washing dishes. Don't ask me why. Dishes were my second to least favorite chore while growing up. Now, it's my thinking time. A few days ago, as I was cleaning the kitchen, the idea suddenly came to me... Fortune Cookies! The teachers often times would rather you give something besides candy, but you can't make anything edible homemade. Fortune cookies, however, are not normal school holiday fare, aren't sugar laced, and offer a bit of fun with the fortune. AND, I could use a play on words in the nice little Valentine's message - Fortunately. (Ok. I'm a nerd.)

I have a really great friend with a really awesome scrapbooking program on her computer. She uses this thing to make all sorts of super cute stuff on all the time, and texts me pics all day of her adorable creations. After googling and experimenting unsuccessfully for over an hour, I called her. In minutes, she had exactly what I wanted, created on this program, and she texted me a picture. Woohoo! Send 'em to the printer, baby!

Before supper, I squashed my need for perfectionism let the kids sign and cut out their own hearts, then I stapled on the wrapped fortune cookies. Very easy. You could wow this up in a lot of ways with a contrasting paper backing, or filling mini take-out boxes, adding ribbon, glitter, or cello bags with other Asian inspired treats. 

This worked perfectly for my budget and desire for something "outside the (Valentine's) box." One box of cookies was $1.42 for about 13. That equaled out to less than $2.50 per class for the treats. The pack of card stock (50 pgs) cost about $3.50. Print. Cut. Staple. And if you staple it just so, the heart will stand up like it's on display. 

Now, hopefully, the kids' classmates will think it's as cool as I do. Or, at least I hope they won't think it's lame.

Happy Valentine's Day. 

Hope you have fun loving on those near and dear to you (romantic element not a requirement).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sweet six (thank God it's not -teen)

Today we wish a Happy Birthday to our sweet Cheeks.





Adores her sister. 

Always thankful. 

Easy to please. 





Finger sucker. 

Blankie hugger. 

Great big smiler. 


A true treasure.

On birthdays, I usually still pause to remember the day each of my children were born, if I'm given a minute (not always). My biggest baby by 1 lb 6 oz and yet the shortest delivery of the first three, Cheeks weighed in at 8 lbs, 5 oz, a birth weight shared with her youngest brother in a tie for biggest baby. (You notice that mere 1 pound +. Trust me.) As a baby, she was a super eater, and the most content out of them all. The kind of baby that gave people pause to consider maybe having another. Easy going, quiet. Snuggle bug. Happy to watch what's going on around her. If she didn't like something or needed something, she'd let you know. Six years later, she's still very much that way.

She loves school, and her eagerness to read and write and do math is brought home as evidenced by the, ahem, "artwork" that she places everywhere (walls, freshly painted door frames, dressers, purses, suitcases, storage boxes), and many many conversations revolve around how to spell something or how much 100 plus 100 equals. She is often seen carrying around paper and pen/pencil/marker, doodling away.

She's growing into such a beauty. Gaining poise and grace. (We still need a lot of work on that last one, though.) The  baby-ness of her face and shape is gone, replaced by a girly-ness that makes my heart both swell and quiver nervously. I have considered taking daily shots of her outfits, put together all on her own, combinations I would NEVER in a MILLION YEARS come up with, but she totally pulls it off, and it completely expresses who she is.

For her birthday, her topping her list was nail polish, real nail polish in red, purple and blue. (No, I'm a party pooper and din't get her any in fear that little brother might get a hold of it, but someone else might jump in on that, in which case I can't say no. Right?) She loves to be fancy and pretty, but nothing of the diva of her older sister (thank GOODNESS).

We celebrated quietly (or not) at home, just our family, with taco salad and cake and ice cream. And it was lovely.

Pink, of coarse.

Happy 6th, girl. I'm enjoying watching you grow and bloom. Just, slow down a little, please. :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013


So Koko says to me...

We were talking about getting out the Easy-Bake oven.

Why do parents buy these dumb things? They take up an awkward amount of space and they're a total hassle to get out or store, the cakes aren't great, the mixes are super spendy, and they make such a minuscule amount of cake that it's ridiculous.

But... it's a little girl's wonderland of cake baking. Cake. Frosting. Sprinkles. What's not to love, right?

Clearly it's apparent that I hem and haw when it comes to the girls asking to get it out. Frankly, I just don't want to be bothered with all the mess. So the other day I told Koko that.

And her response....

... Well mom, I'm responsible enough.

Hm. I'm responsible enough, huh?

The thing is...she probably IS responsible enough. But *I* am not entirely sure I'm ready to admit that, to give up that control, to chance it.

Ahhhh, parenting.  Growth is not just for children. :)

**Note after the fact: She is not responsible enough. Clearly we need to have lessons on "reading directions" and "how to measure".

The unwanted helper, who got up from his nap an hour early MUCH to my dismay.

No children or cakes were harmed during this cake baking torture session experiment. Cake baking (and real cupcake baking since we needed something we could actually eat) was done in an effort to raise the spirits of one small brother who did not get to attend the Monster Truck Rally with certain older brother and father. Next year all mothers will be spared of "Easy"Bake cake baking torture and will proceed directly to Monster Jam for loud and expensive entertainment. By comparison, it will probably be money well spent to spare mothers from harm, er, breakdown.

Friday, January 18, 2013

New toys

Got a new toaster today !!! 

Not what you were expecting when I said 'toys'? But isn't she niiiiice??? Can hold FOUR slices. For a family of 7, this is much needed over our previous 2-slicer.

Getting a new toaster is quite an event if you knew anything about my toaster issues for the past, oh, say, 5 years... at least. Why did it take me so long to get a new toaster? Good question. Hopefully, we will no longer be burning the first two pieces of toast every morning. Woohoo! (And if we do, I'm taking the sucker back!)

As I unpacked the toaster, Boots laid eyes on the box the toaster came in and claimed it his. He spent over an hour and a half playing with it. Right away he imagined it as his boat, and set about coloring it, taping it and whatever else needed to be done to make it a boat. (Stapling it, I see now.) But when he finished, he decided it was a fire truck instead.

No problem, buddy. It's your imagination.


Firehouse dog?

Love it!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Grace for mothering

There are days when I lack the desire to mother. Days that are long, filled with tears, whines, complaints,  dirty socks and dumped out blocks. Every job has rough days. Mothering is not to be excluded. 

Plans can be made, intentions be set, lists to check off, but bubbles in the turtle tank, feverish babies who want to be held, quick trips to the store for forgotten class snacks, can derail the best laid plans in exchange for sickies on the couch or unplanned 3-hour aquarium cleaning sessions instead. 

Sometimes, at the end of days like that, like this, and sometimes in the midst of it, I feel guilty for dreaming of far away lands where no one is demanding my attention, my energy, or my patience. Where no one complains of the meal I'm making or that their pesky brother is still talking and won't be quiet 63 minutes after bedtime. I feel guilty because I wish that I could just snap out of it and be the cheerful, patient, energetic mom with fun up her sleeves and supper on the table. I feel guilty for not living in the moment, for knowing that time is fleeting and I will never get these moments back. I know there are people, I know people, who wish for this, the pitter-patter of feet that sound nothing like pitter-patters and more like rowdy buffalo stampeding. They long for someone to need them, for the cries of mama for the umpteenth time to get more juice, for never ending stories about all the amazing character traits and powers of 567 different Pokemon dudes. 

Am I ungrateful, I ask myself? Do I not value these precious gifts? No, I am not ungrateful, and I do value the children I am blessed with. And while I suppose I could be more grateful and spend more time reveling in the multitude of ways I'm blessed, the thing is... I'm human. I'm human in my need for solitude, for re-energizing, for the need to not be needed for just a little while. 

If there's one thing I've learned as a mother, it's that I need to take time, to make time, for me. It's not selfish, it's survival. Even Jesus sought time to be alone. The marvelous thing about taking that time, is that the next day, I'm a much better mom. I can listen to the Pokemon business and even manage to feign interest (sorry, Pokemon, it's unlikely you'll ever win my affections), I can hug and cuddle without the urge to flee far and fast - no 'I don't want to be touched' syndrome. I can tickle the way out of a tantrum, and I can listen and watch and participate with much more enjoyment, not just mere tolerance. I can be wholly thankful for the precious lives I tend and direct.

God, I ask that you would grant me grace for myself in knowing it's ok to need a break, and grace for those days, weeks or months when it's just not possible. Lord, help me to be the best mom I can be in all moments, and may the moments that are scratchy and jagged, void of the overflow of love, be moments where you rise up and shine when I do not. Amen.