Monday, February 28, 2011

The Invisible Mom

Not long ago, I asked a question on my Facebook status. "Do you ever feel invisible?" I was actually feeling a bit invisible because I had sent some texts and some e-mails to different friends that had gone unanswered. But really, don't we all feel invisible at times?

The next day one of my cousins posted on my Facebook page that I needed to read this. I tried to find an author but all I could find was "author unknown". The only thing I can guess is her name is "Charlotte" based on this essay. So to Charlotte, wherever you are, thank you for saying this for the invisible moms (and dads) of the world!

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’ Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England .. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .

I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

  • No one can say who built the great cathedrals; we have no record of their names.
  • These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never saw finished.
  • They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
  • The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.’ And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make everyday, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.’

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my child to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, ‘You’re gonna love it there.’

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

I can't figure out how to go back to the margin I had at the top. Oh well. This is Reba speaking again...

I just loved this when I read it.

Sometimes as moms, we do feel invisible. Or at least I do. I do all of these things like handle the kids' schoolwork (which can take a long time), plan birthday parties, buy Christmas gifts, plan Valentine's treasure hunts, etc. And often, it feels like it goes unnoticed. Just like I know that I have missed many of the things my own mother has done for me (though I recognize those more and more).

I won't lie. On occasion, I don't mind getting a "thank you". (Even Jesus appreciated that after healing the lepers) Or having my husband compliment me for something I have done.

But in the end, it is okay if my efforts go unnoticed. That is not my purpose.

My purpose in life is to build great cathedrals. Or at least give the four that I am building a good foundation.

It is okay if nobody else notices. God does.

And for me, that is what truly matters.

More later,

Sunday, February 27, 2011

So Much to Say, So Little Time

We had a very busy day, from our daughter's basketball game this morning to another beautiful weather Saturday spent on the hiking trail to a yummy family dinner (spaghetti...Mark's choice). And of course I have so much I want to share (and even more, remember) but it will have to wait until tomorrow.

It is time for night night.

But I did want to share one more thing.

Or rather two.

I started a couple of other blogs!

No, I am not totally crazy. Neither blog will be too time consuming (I hope). And I will definitely not be posting on them regularly like I do on here or on my Bible Study blog.

No, these are fun (for me).

One is a hiking blog. It is called "A Walk in the Woods". I will still share some of our hiking experiences on here because this is the closest thing I have to a scrapbook. But I can describe more and post more photos on that blog. I often have people ask where we hike. There are many good books out there about hiking (Tim Ernst is a wonderful author of Arkansas hiking books). This will just be one person's perspectives on the trails we explore...especially with a family of six.

The other blog is going to be a recipe blog. Cooking with the Clouds. I just plan on sharing favorite family recipes. I will confess. I have no recipes on there yet. This week. Please note I am not attempting to be The Pioneer Woman. Those shoes are way too big for me to fill (not literally...I have no idea what shoe size she wears :). I was encouraged by my friend C. to do this, so here it is...or at least soon will be. :)

And that is about all I can do in one day.

I will share more about the precious gem of a hiking spot we found on tomorrow's post...


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Lamp and A Light

I mentioned yesterday that I started another blog about my attempt to read the Bible through in a year.

When I began creating the blog, one of the first things I had to do was come up with a name. Well, that part was easy. A Radical Experiment. But then I had to come up with the name that will be in the web address. That part was tougher. I tried a few related to "radical experiment" and "reading through" only to find they were taken.


What to do, what to do.

Then it came to me.

A Lamp and a Light.

Why, you ask? (Okay, just pretend that you ask...)

Our youngest.

Right now his favorite song is "Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet."

Not long ago at church, he pointed to his feet and told me there was a light on it. It took me a minute to make the connection.

When he is in his room playing, he finds his Veggietale CD and pushes the buttons on the CD player until he finds this song.

Then he sings it as loud as he can.

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

I hope those words stay with him. Always.

More later,

Go With My Gut

I rarely check our on-line banking account. I get an alert each day about what our balance is. If there is a big discrepancy, I check it out. Otherwise, I don't get on unless I am looking for a check to clear or trying to find a transaction.

Today I just felt the urge to check on a check we had written. I was curious if it had cleared or not.

So I signed into my online banking.

My first concern was that it asked me about getting alerts, then had a message that my alerts were disabled. would that happen?

When i saw the current transactions, I had more concerns. I started seeing all of these small transactions for places I was pretty sure we hadn't gone. When I googled one such place, I found out that it was based in South Africa.

Of course, my dear hubby wasn't home. He was coaching basketball for Lauren. So I couldn't double check with him.

I just had to sit and wait.

That was hard. Especially when I saw one of the "suspicious" transactions process in front of my eyes.

As soon as I could, I spoke with Mark. I found out what transactions were his for the day, and which ones weren't. Like the Ritz-Carlton. And a movie theater in South Africa.

Armed with my information, I called the bank. I had to "hold" for a really long time but finally we had a hold put on the account. And we will receive reimbursements.

Still, as much of a pain as it was (and it was), I am thankful.

Thankful for those gut feelings that nudge me to do things like check a bank account.

Thankful that not much spending was done.

Thankful that as of now, it seems to be fixed.

Thanks, God!
PS I started another blog (because having one isn't enough :) about my experiment reading through the Bible...don't feel obligated to read it but just know it is there if you want to!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Playing Favorites

I am really tired which is funny since I didn't actually teach is my intern's solo week. I was plenty busy though.


I needed a light topic for tonight, so I thought I would share some of my favorites in life. Feel free to share yours...

Favorite Drink: I am sure you can guess this. Mountain Dew. Not Diet. I want the real stuff. If I can't have that, my second favorite is a Coke from McDonald's. I don't know what they do to their Cokes but they are better than any other!

Favorite Nut: Pistachios. I eat a handful (or two) every morning. I about cried tonight when my dear husband pulled out his almonds and knocked my bag of pistachios on our dirty floor (a side effect of melting snow...mud!). I lost some good nuts!

Favorite Car: I do love my Odyssey, but my favorite car ever is still the Honda Accord. I loved that car. It loved me. We were happy together. (Unfortunately, three in the backseat was a tight squeeze, and four would never have worked...)

Favorite Comic Strip: Probably Baby Blues, though Zits follows closely. I love For Better, For Worse too though they are rerunning those these days. I still miss Calvin and Hobbs terribly. I got Calvin. I think I live with him (in the form of a J-man...).

Favorite Bible Verse: Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. That about covers it. :)

Favorite Flower: White lilies. I can think of nothing more lovely.

Favorite Getaway: San Francisco by far. And the beach. I never turn down a trip to the beach.

Favorite Stocking Stuffer: This stamp that stamps nonsense letters. I use it to cover up our address and names on magazines and bills we is so handy!

Favorite Color: Navy Blue.

Favorite App: Words with Friends. It doesn't take long to play but it makes me feel like I am truly thinking. And sometimes I win. :)

Favorite Gum Flavor: Cinnamon, though I really don't like chewing gum.

Favorite New Dessert: Chocolate Lava Cakes. My family begs for them.

Favorite Muffin: Pumpkin. Yum.

Favorite Exercise: A walk outside if it is nice. Inside, my elliptical or some time on Wii Fit Plus.

Favorite Soap: Warm Vanilla Sugar by Bath and BodyWorks

Favorite Pet: Dog. Other than the whole allergy thing. :)

Favorite Insect: Ladybug. I do like dragonflies though.

Favorite Metal: Silver. Used to be gold.

So, what kind of random favorite would you like to share? :)


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday

So many thoughts running around in my mind. So many unwritten posts. (I know, disappointing as it is...) Yet so little energy. This is the first week I have worked a full week in a while. :) (And then, it was full time plus overtime with conferences :)

So what better thing to do? Remember what I am thankful for...

  • Like a daughter who sent us (her dad and I) on a scavenger hunt on Valentine's Day (not sure where she learned that one :)
  • Having all my parent/teacher conferences done and accounted for. I really enjoy meeting with parents and sharing successes with them. But I will admit, it feels good to sign off on the last conference. They make me tired! That and it is less time at home...
  • Cooking Valentine's dinner with my sweetie. Pan seared steak, fingerling potatoes (some of them were purple...that was wild!), some cheesy garlic bread from the bakery. I am pretty sure I could have eaten the whole loaf for dinner happily. Caesar salad. And chocolate covered strawberries for dessert. Yummy. And fun. And with my man. (Just him...the kids had Chick Fil A earlier that evening) The best combination.
  • Getting at least 15 texts on my phone from my main man telling me what he loved about me...
  • Getting these from my main man too...wasn't expecting them at all.

  • The beautiful weather we have had recently (it is amazing to me that one week ago, we had two feet of snow. Today, we have sunny skies and warm temps.
  • The breathtaking sunsets we have been having.

  • My co-workers.
  • Celebrating a dear friend's good news with a "girl's night out". Yummy food, delightful company.

  • Having school this Friday. We were originally going to have an inservice day but due to all of the snow, we are having school instead to make up at least one of our "snow days". I am happy to have a full week with my kiddos.
  • Outdoor recess. So very thankful for outdoor recess.
  • That I get to see my sister this weekend. A rare treat, especially during the school year.
  • For my own children's conferences. It is a joy to find out that they are learning and making progress.
  • My oldest son's generous heart.
  • Our youngest's infectious smile and silly laugh.
  • My main man. I want to give him a post of his own, but I will say that at night, I just think about him and how very thankful I am that God brought him into my life.
I could add many more things to the list, but it is time for me to get going for the day (because this turned into a drawn out post...).

What are you thankful for today?

More later,

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mama Mia!

No, not the movie/musical, though it is showing here at our local arts center. I actually have yet to see it. I really need to.

It just came to mind because I have been thinking about food. And when I think about food, "Mama Mia" comes to mind as the chef kisses his fingertips (and hopefully washes them promptly before cooking anything else).


Oh, dear food.

What is it about being home, in my sweats, all day long, that makes me think about food?

I dread weigh in next week (as I sit here and type rather than exercise like I should).

Let's just look over the last week and a half...

Hmmm, last Tuesday I think it was (first snow day), I had a hankering for Mongolian Beef and Fried Rice. Yes, healthy I know. It sure was yummy though. Of course, then we had to have a little Chocolate Lava Molten Cake to go with it...

Then one day last week when I was done being home and cooking, we picked up pizza. Have I ever mentioned how much I love pizza? Then, one week later, we had pizza again...

My sister mentioned something about homemade donut holes (using refrigerated biscuits and a Fry Daddy) on Facebook last week. I had forgotten about those. We used to make those when I was little. I mentioned it to Lauren, my eternal sweet tooth child. She was ready to go for it. So we did. We have had that twice.

Miracle Lasagna. I don't know why it is called that. The only miracle will be if I don't gain a few pounds from eating it.

Hopping John and fancy little ham sandwiches for Super Bowl Sunday.

Pumpkin cake with caramel sauce.

Apple cinnamon muffins.

Chocolate lava molten cakes again after our dear neighbor traipsed through the snow to deliver the one egg I was missing to make this dessert after I mentioned I was missing an egg on Facebook. Yes, Neighbor of the Year! (My children actually broke out into a cheer when the egg arrived. Not joking at all. We are a sad bunch.)

Baked potato soup.

Pancakes and bacon.

I think child 2 has made two batches of brownies now. She loves cooking and baking (did I mention her sweet tooth?). She is using mixes but she makes them all by herself.

Several batches of hot chocolate. Okay, I didn't drink any...I don't drink hot drinks. But my kids are going through it like crazy!

Deviled eggs.

The newest recipe: Cheesy Chicken Marsala. Oh yum. I had to stop myself from licking the dish clean. I love Marsala sauce.

Catfish Hole. How could I forget Catfish Hole? Best hush puppies in the whole world. And crab legs. Yum.

I know, I know, I am doomed.

But it sure has been yummy!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Land of Opportunity

Recently there was a debate in our legislature about whether to change our motto from "The Natural State" back to "Land of Opportunity". When I was young, Land of Opportunity was our state motto, then it changed at some point. Of course, now that we have been out hiking in this state, the Natural State seems to suit us just find. I love living here but not really sure what kind of opportunity we have that other states don't...I am also not totally positive why that was so important on the agenda, but I am not a politician.

Anyway, I digress. Yes, I know I do that alot...

So before I really get into my post, I felt like I should explain my "NO SNOW" policy. I do think it is pretty (sometimes). And my kids love to be out in it. But it completely interferes with school. Usually this is my favorite time of year to teach but right now we go for a day then have four days off, which doesn't lead to a very conducive learning environment. I also know that the more days we miss now, the fewer days we will have for our summer vacation. And I would much rather spend summer vacation outside with the kids then snowy days cooped up inside. I know that a lot of places get more snow, but that is part of the problem too. We don't (usually). I am not joking when I say 1-2 inches of snow can shut down our community. We aren't prepared for this weather. When there is a chance of snow, our news channels go into frantic mode. The shelves of the grocery store will be wiped out. And once it starts falling, the school cancellations start.

Now that I have explained myself, I will get to today's post.

So when I went to bed last night, I checked outside to see if the much anticipated "blizzard" had started. There were several different "forecasts" out there with many different "anticipated" precipitation levels. I was trying to be positive. A dusting. 1 or 2 inches. 6 at the most.

When I awoke, I first checked to see if I had an e-mail about school. Canceled. I scurried across the house to look out the front window. I couldn't even see the road. At all.

I would have loved to sleep in but by then my adrenalin was flowing. And the kids seemed to just "know". They were raring to go early!

About mid morning, I decided to take some pictures. I opened our back door and found this...

It is estimated that we got about 24 inches total. It snowed until mid afternoon. I have lived here a long time and never seen snow like this. I think we broke some state records.

Crazy stuff around here.

I could belly ache some more. There is one more day of my Christmas break gone. Well, probably three. We are already out of school for tomorrow, and I doubt we will be back on Friday.


I could look at this as an opportunity.

An opportunity to enjoy being with my kids (and husband...he couldn't get out either. They actually closed the Wal-Mart main office for the first time ever, if that tells you how bad the roads were! Tyson Headquarters were closed too.)

An opportunity to exercise some time before 11.

An opportunity to nap. :)

An opportunity to make baked potato soup and then chocolate lava cakes for dessert (thanks to our sweet neighbors who saw something I put on FB and delivered a much needed egg).

An opportunity to get the Valentines for school signed and labeled.

An opportunity to finalize our summer/beach lodging plans.

An opportunity to catch up on laundry.

An opportunity to learn more about my new phone.

An opportunity to catch up on light reading (a.k.a. magazines).

An opportunity to laugh at the many fun comments on Facebook. That has just lifted my spirits in a big way!

An opportunity to finish up some needed professional development hours.

An opportunity to organize and simplify our belongings.

I know there are many more opportunities, but those were just a few of today's. I wonder what kind of opportunities tomorrow will hold...


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy, Happy

Nope, not about the snow in our forecast.

Or the fact that I just ate way too many calories.

Or the idea of a shorter summer.

Or that I am trying to figure out how to handle a very impulsive preschooler.

Or deal with the drama of a preteen girl.

Or handle the constant bickering or even worse, the "wrestling" that takes place and always results in someone getting hurt.

Nope, that is not why I am so happy.

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I had a friend who had some happy news.

I can share it now...because she shared it.

More soon,

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Heart is Smiling...

Ever have one of those days when your heart is just smiling?

Like the fact that I got to be a teacher today?

And almost all of my kiddos were at school today?

And I got to see my co-workers? I miss them when we aren't in school!

That we had our kindergarten Valentine program? The kids were too stinkin' cute, even with really only one practice all together.

That my dear friends J and A have a new son?!?

That I came home from the kindergarten program and received my Valentine's gift? (My i-Phone!)

That another friend texted me with happy news that I won't share yet but I am dying to? :)

That one of my children was struggling in a school subject (temporarily) and seems to be figuring it out thanks to a devoted teacher?

That our youngest son got into the car after his week "vacation" from school and announced that it was a great day?

That I have a God who loves me in spite of who I am?

Why is your heart smiling today?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Fine Print

Please know that what I am about to type is mostly written tongue in cheek (with a touch of reality). I am on day three of snow days, holed up in the house with four very energetic, very demanding children. And guess what tomorrow is? Another snow day. Oh joy!

Anyway, today I wrote something on Facebook about how I was done with dealing with children's bodily fluids. I won't go into details, I will just say that it was not a fun morning. My next comment was "I did not sign up for this." Of course, then my mom reminded me that I did...when I had kids. That got me to thinking. Did I? Oh, it must have been that fine print.

Early this morning I was on Verizon's website trying to get an i-phone. Yes. I am moving up in the world of technology. My "touch" phone no longer responds to touch. So I really did need another phone. Or at least really want. Anyway, I went through all of the steps once I got the website up and running. The last step is of course to read the fine print and then say I read and agree with it. My husband (who so graciously stayed up with me) noticed me skimming the fine print. He asked, "You aren't really reading that, are you?" I admitted I was. After all, I wanted to make sure I wasn't giving my firstborn away or anything...of course, after the past few days, I would have had to think about that one. :) (By the way, is it being dishonest to check the box on those things saying "I read and agree to them" if you don't truly read every word???)

This really does tie together with the beginning of the post. I promise. Give me a minute.

So the fine print. When I was having children, I pictured these cherub faced, sweet little children cooing at me and thinking I was the grandest thing in the whole world. Did anyone ever tell me that some days I will be standing over the overflowing toilet plunging out toilet paper or wiping up blood from a very bloody nose after two children collided? Nope. Nobody tells you that stuff. It must have been in the fine print.

What else is in the fine print that I missed?
  • That I would not have a hot meal for several years. As soon as I sit down, somebody suddenly remembers that they need something else to eat or drink right then.
  • That the only movies I would go to for several years would involve cartoon characters, a mother who is likely killed off, and talking animals.
  • That my dishwasher and washing machine/dryer would never be empty. Ever.
  • That I would have baskets of toys in every room.
  • That I would go in to take a hot bath only to find little cars and Clifford books lining my bathtub.
  • That any plans of weekend trips would be put on hold due to a daughter's basketball team playing every single Saturday (meaning no sleeping in either :)
  • That I would rarely get to make any muffin, cookie, cake, etc by myself again because I would have so many helpers.
  • That as soon as I sat down to try to do something productive, a little preschooler face would appear with yet another book asking me to pwease wead it to him...
  • That there might be days I want to change my name (from "Mommy" to something else...)
  • That sometimes you will be stuck at home on your fourth snow day just praying it is warm enough for the kids to get out and play
  • That I would read other people's status updates, finding out how much they have gotten done over their snow days, reminding myself that if they had a J-man in their house, they wouldn't get much done either...
  • That I would have to save my book reading for vacation days because when I do read, I totally forget I have a life or children in this house. I have to wait until we can tag team. :)
  • That I would find myself falling in love over and over again with my husband when I watch him in his role as a father and a husband.
  • That all of the fine print in the world could never prepare you for the love that fills your heart when that snotty nose kid yells from his room "Bless you, Momma" when I sneeze...even though he is supposed to be sleeping!
What fine print did you miss? :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

So, How Much Did She Cost?

If you are an adoptive parent, you will probably identify with some of these things...

More later,
Reba (in a very cold Arkansas)