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Just another stay at home mom trying to do it all, save the world, and not run out of coffee.
My published articles: exm.nr/gkA1yp
Twitter: @CarolBruckmann

Friday, January 28, 2011

More Caitlyn theology

This photo and the video were taken in November. 
The leaf situation is still no better.
(Mom is outside raking leaves to no avail while 17 month old son Elijah plays in the playhouse. 4 year old Caitlyn shadows her every movement.)

Caitlyn: Let's play, Mommy. You be Jesus.
Mom: Umm, ok.
Caitlyn: (In her best acting voice) Help Help! My son Elijah is sick!
Mom: Oh, is he at your house? (Points toward house and says in her most Jesus-y voice) "Your faith has made you well!"
Caitlyn: It didn't work.
Mom: What? Why?
Caitlyn: It's a spell. A magic spell. You know, like the one on that Shrek movie we saw. Remember Shrek?
Mom: Yes, but don't you think Jesus could break a magic spell?
Caitlyn: No. It's like on Shrek. A magic spell. Remember?
Mom: Ah. So you need true love's kiss. (blows kiss) How about that?
Caitlyn: Okay that worked.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Overdramatic Much?

In the past I have been accused of being a bit over the top... melodramatic if you will. Perhaps it affects my parenting. One could get away with these idiosyncrasies were it not for the advent of modern technology and goddaughters with ipods capable of recording events at my house. It all started when we tried to teach Elijah to stop throwing his cup on the ground every time he drank from it. Judge for yourself...

Conviction Part Two

Today we read the "as you judge others, so will you be judged" section in Luke. As soon as I saw the heading I knew I was better off just skipping that one if I didn't want to do some self assessment. That is the sin I fight most strongly against. I am prone to make snap judgments about people's appearances and lifestyles (as if my appearance never left anything to be desired). I constantly have to remind myself to not be judgmental.

Case in point - I rarely if ever look to Oprah for any spiritual merit. Her brand of touchy feeling New Agey all paths lead to the same end spirituality does not appeal to me. However I happened to turn on the tv the other day to see that "octomom" Nadya Suleman was on as well as no nonsense financial guru Suze Orman. I watched the last half of the show, chuckling when Orman asked Suleman if she even knew all her children's names. But Oprah hit me in the gut when she reprimanded all the judgers out there who might just have one or two too many children themselves. A lot of people have another child because they are afraid their first one will be lonely, they want to fit in with everyone else, society expects it, etc. (Read a great account of an intentional one child momma here.) This hit me because I really want to adopt, but when I thought about it we totally don't have our lives together financially or otherwise to do that yet. I've since dropped the idea for now as a result because I hate to say it, but Oprah was right.

Of course now that the octomom is in the news again for a ridiculous baby fetish tape I am really having a hard time not judging. She has got to be either clueless or manipulative. (Sigh - there I go again..)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Funny thing about humility. Just when you think you've got it, you've lost it.

Caitlyn is constantly asking to hear a story. When she is going potty in a public restroom I usually have to be the Big Bad Wolf at the bathroom door while she (the little pig or Red Riding Hood) tells her part of the story. We have amused countless strangers across the country with our repertoire. Sometimes I tire of retelling fairy tales or making up stories, so at lunchtime I started reading from a kid friendly version of the Bible. It gives me a chance to shut off the creativity while also instilling our faith in my children. Usually I don't find this version of the Bible as enlightening as more scholarly versions, but today I was so taken off guard that I almost choked up twice.

In the midst of reading about Jesus breaking various Sabbath ordinations I came to the Sermon on the Plain in Luke, a passage I've read countless times. After the "blessed are the poor" section I read:
    But how horrible it will be for those who are rich,
          They have had their comfort.
   How horrible it will be for those who are well-fed,
          They will be hungry.
     How horrible it will be for those who are laughing.
          They will mourn and cry.
     How horrible it will be for you 
          when everyone says nice things about you.
               That's the way their ancestors treated the false prophets. 

In Bible Study the other week we talked about humility. We all agreed that we have a craving for people to say nice things about us and recognize us. It's something I struggle with as I have a natural tendency to want to be the center of attention. And my family is definitely rich, comfortable, and well-fed in comparison to the majority of humanity. I know the passage is more about attitude than gross income, but as a whole we are pretty self centered. Just following that passage I read the passage about loving your enemies, giving to everyone who asks you for something, etc. I was reminded of this week in Bible Study when we talked about service and how if you are to be a true Christian it must be a way of life, not an occasional thing. Last Saturday I drove as usual past someone holding a homeless sign with absolutely no intention of sharing my limited cash with someone who may or may not really need it.

Of course I am not advocating that all Christians live a monastic lifestyle and "sell all they have and give it to the poor". There is much scripture about investing wisely and taking care of your family. But just to hit it home a little closer when I told Caitlyn that if the tomato soup stain from lunch didn't come out of her shirt we would have to give it away she asked, "to people who know how to get stains out better than us?" I flinched and fibbed without thinking, "yes." The truth is that probably the clothes we donate are all stained or things I don't wear anymore. I should have just been honest. But something in me must have felt a twinge of guilt knowing that most of our "if someone takes your coat, don't stop him from taking your shirt" revolves around things I could just as easily throw in the trash.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Bedtime Story

(Mom returns home from an emergency trip to the grocery store, a bag of coffee grounds in each hand, to hear both children crying downstairs and her husband pleading, "Help!" Upon reaching the son's bedroom she is motioned by husband to handle the daughter first.)

Mom: What's wrong? Did Daddy read you a story? (Child nods head.) Did you pray?
Caitlyn: I'll pray again.
(Mom snuggles up to daughter & ad libs prayer.)
Mom: Were you crying?
Caitlyn: Yes. I don't want to sleep by myself. I want you to sleep wif me.
Mom: I'll lay down with you for a minute, but I am going to sleep with Daddy.
Caitlyn: Why?
Mom: When you marry someone, you usually sleep in the same bed with them.
Caitlyn: And you married Daddy?
Mom: Yes.
Caitlyn: Because you wanted to, and you paid him?
Mom: No, usually you don't have to pay someone to marry you. You just both decide you want to get married and you do it.
Caitlyn: But if you marry someone you don't know, then you have to pay them?
Mom: No.. well yes in some cultures... in America you usually just pick someone.
Caitlyn: Do you live in America?
Mom: Yes, we both do.
Caitlyn: So when I get bigger who will I marry?
Mom: Well, you will just know in your heart who you are supposed to marry.
Caitlyn: And we will pay them?
Mom: No... you don't usually pay someone to marry you.
Caitlyn: Oh! I know! I'll marry Elijah!
Mom: Okay. Goodnight. (Kisses daughter and goes to coax baby brother Elijah to sleep as well.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tiger Mother

Did anyone see Amy Chua, author of "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," on the Today show this morning? I haven't read the book, but it seems basically a story of the author's parenting philosophy. It's pretty strict by American standards - no playdates or sleepovers, computer games or television. The kids were expected to practice music 2 1/2 hours a day for goodness sakes. Any grade less than an A was considered a failure, and the daughters were expected to be top in their class. Even a plain birthday card given by the youngest daughter was once rejected because of the lack of effort therein. Crazy, right?

But on the other hand, don't we perhaps coddle our children too much? When I was teaching high school it seemed that many parents thought their children walked on water, and many students were happy just to do the little it took to pass a class. Teachers go through training after training to help us make learning fun so we can keep the student's attention. No child should be left behind, you know. Maybe we need to have higher expectations for our children. As the author pointed out in the interview children rarely have innate aspirations and beliefs that they can excel to the level they may achieve with a parental push. We worry so much about their self esteem, but we aren't always preparing them for the real world.

I don't think I would go as far as Chua did; we're a pretty fun family. But I do expect my children to be their best and do their best at whatever they achieve, and I am concerned when I see how sucked into TV and internet games many children are. What do you think?

Snow Daze

E in the neighbor's wagon so
my arms wouldn't fall off
Yesterday afternoon Caitlyn walked about a mile to the park with her dad to sled. I wasn't 100% for it, but I acquiesced. You see, I know how these things end up. So when I was halfway through making dinner and my cell phone rang I shouldn't have been surprised. He tells me that I need to come get them or he won't be back until eight with my precious frozen daughter, if they can make it back at all. He insists that I put Elijah into the car, drive up our unshoveled super-steep driveway, and try to pull onto the road in an effort to save them. Of course I did what any grown mother would do when faced with trying to decide which child's life to risk while super angry at her husband's lack of forethought, I called my mommy crying. Thankfully the length of time it took me to bundle up E, clean off my car while wearing my bathrobe (including knocking the snowman off my car), and get the annoying dog in gave me enough time that I wouldn't yell words at my husband that my children shouldn't learn if when I ever reached him. (Also it gave him time to call me and tell me that C had had an accident in her snowsuit.) When I reached the top of my driveway and the street was free of cars I prayed and went for it. There was No. Traction. At. All. Using my mountain savvy I swung the steering wheel from side to side, spinning my tires and praying to catch something that would propel me forward. Thankfully we swerved onto the road and made it to the park. Did he lavish me with thanks and praise? No. He strapped C in and then said "I'm walking to the store." Wisely when I opened the door and told him to get in and not do anything dumb he climbed into the Honda. Anyway, he swears he took pictures of the fun time at the park, but apparently they are invisible to me (as are the ones from after E and I came in today). So here are some fun pics of E and me in the snow with our neighbor Addison. E got cold (won't wear gloves) so we were of course outside for about half the time it took us to get bundled. And yes, our sled is a boogie board.

Addison sledding
E and me in the snow


Monday, January 10, 2011

First snow of 2011

For your viewing pleasure - a video montage of our morning in the snow

2010 Flashback - Caitlyn and Elijah's birthday party

When your family all live out of town and your children's birthdays are a few weeks apart, I think it's a bit much to expect people to come to both parties. So the goal is to find creative party ideas and themes that will let us squish both parties into one day. This year I needed something that would make a great smash cake for Elijah, so we went with a princess and the frog theme! I can't take credit for the cakes, that was my sorority sister Angela, but I was thrilled to pull off the cupcakes at least!

It was actually a crazy day. It turned out that my mom's parents both ended up in the hospital, so only my immediate family and Jamie's parents were there as far as family. Thankfully we had invited some friends as well as some of Caitlyn's friends from when she was in daycare. We purchased a $30 blowup pool from BJs for entertainment, and I stayed up all night filling up water balloons (and cleaning my house... let's be honest). The party was a blast, but the thing Caitlyn remembers most is everyone yelling for Elijah to "destroy the cake!"

In order to make their actual birthdays special we took Elijah to the mall on his real birthday to ride the train and carousel. I made what I thought were his favorite foods - fettuccine alfredo, applesauce, and vanilla ice cream. On Caitlyn's real birthday she woke up to a dollhouse in her room! After church our neighbor came over for lunch and playtime, and at dinner we ate on the fancy china. (Hey, when else am I going to pull it out?) She chose the menu - pigs in a blanket and macaroni & cheese. When I insisted on a vegetable or salad course she chose clementine oranges.

Hopefully I won't run out of themes before they hit the "slumber party" age!

More pictures can be seen by clicking here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Feliz Navidad - parte una

We thought we had a lot packed for our cross country Christmas campaign until we saw this truck.  ------------------->

They packed everything but the... umm, well, I guess they packed everything.

Anyway, the first leg of our trip was to my hometown of Roxboro, NC. Christmas Eve was spent bringing people to tears with my recreation of my Grandma Edna's fruit cocktail cake and having four perfectly good gifts stolen from me during the white elephant game. (The gift I finally won will be re-wrapped and put back into play next year, as usual.) Since the rest of my fam got in so late we decided to just open our Christmas pjs and go to bed to await Santa. Somehow the next morning I manage to entertain my niece until everyone else drug themselves out of bed. Elijah didn't quite figure out how to eat the orange in his Christmas stocking, but everyone seemed thrilled with their stash otherwise.

After everything was neatly piled to the side we headed over to my Granddaddy Harold's for our yearly brunch. (It used to be a breakfast, and still is for those not in my immediate family.) The gift given to most acclaim was a gift from my Aunt Jackie and Uncle Dennis to Elijah - a light-up car that NEVER STOPS!! A piece of tape strategically placed over the speaker made it a much better toy. No one can agree on the lyrics pumping from the car stereo - any ideas?

See more pics from the morning by clicking here!

Soup Nazi

Last year in an effort to pare down the giant pile of recipe magazines I had amassed, I ripped out all the recipes I would like to try and then write down to keep. I thought I had done alright until I pulled down an book, causing an avalanche of neatly cut recipes to rain down upon my head. Only slightly abashed, I organized them into categories, resolving to get through them this year. As there were FOUR different Mexican chicken soup recipes in the mix, I decided that tonight would be "Vote for your favorite soup night".

Caitlyn's vote - Soup #1 and Soup #3
Elijah's vote - ate Soup #1 and Soup #3 as suggested by persuasive big sister who influenced his vote ACORN style
Rebecca Ann's vote (texted in as she had to have take-out tonight due to Elijah's flu) - Soup #1 and Soup #3
My vote - Soup #3
Jamie's vote - "WHOA!!! This is CRAZY! Can we do this again? Did you tell your mom? (Grabs camera to make a video and calls his parents. Discusses how much in-laws love my cooking. [Duh, I'm Southern.] Discusses how I should open a restaurant.) I vote that we have them all again! But I guess it's a lot of dishes."

Jamie's soup documentary. Ken Burns you'd better watch your back.

He's a sweetie, but I only kept recipe #3. Better luck next time Mr. Bruckmann.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

CaringBridge update on my Dad (via my Mom)

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2010 12:20 AM
At this writing it is the last day of Christmas with family in Roxboro. God has so richly blessed us with wonderful families and it’s always wonderful to spend time here.

As with most people, the past few months have been very busy. Work has taken a huge amount of time for me and I just haven’t been able to make myself write an update in the late evening hours which seem to be the only personal time I have. That’s really pretty bad, because Ed and I know how much you care and support us with your prayers. Honestly, I didn’t realize it had been quite so long…

Bringing you up to date, Ed had chemo following the most recent episode - once per week for three weeks, one week off followed by three more weeks. He then had a scan of the abdominal area that showed progress from the treatments. The lung and chest area remained stable!  Since the chemo appears to be doing its job, the doctor ordered another round of chemo – same regimen. He completed another three weeks and had the week before Christmas off. The next scheduled treatment is this Thursday.

He hasn’t felt very well for the past couple of weeks. Appetite isn’t great, but he keeps “eating to live” as he told me when I asked for suggestions for dinner. Most of the time, food doesn’t taste like it usually does, which makes it harder for him to eat. He has also recently dealt with sinus problems, sore throat and congestion and all that comes with that package. That is better now, but the weakness continues to be an issue.

The clock in my parents den just said, “It’s twelve o’clock. Do you know where your grandchildren are?” I am pretty sure all of ours are sound asleep and with travel into a winter wonderland tomorrow, Ed and I better get some sleep, also.

Thanks again for being there for us and with us as we continue this journey.

Celebrate Life that is a gift from God through His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. This is the gift of Peace.

Ed and Marsha

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2010 9:31 PM
Let me be a few hours premature and say, “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Ed and I will be celebrating at St. Joseph Hospital in Asheville. (Actually, I’ll likely be sound asleep at home when the New Year arrives.)
As I mentioned in the last post, Ed hasn’t been feeling up to par. For the past week he just hasn’t had energy and stamina to do anything. We returned home Tuesday evening from Christmas with family. Wednesday morning he contacted the doctor’s office and they wanted him to come in. His labs were good except for the unstable blood pressure and dehydration. They gave him fluid in the office and ordered more fluid for Thursday when he was scheduled for chemo. He was waiting in a chair beside the elevator for me to pick him up. When he stood, he hit the floor. No one saw it happen, but a nurse came by right after and wheeled him down to meet me. Thursday he went for his chemo appointment, but the PA determined it would be best to admit him to the hospital and try to get to the bottom of this orthostatic hypertension. He’s been here since late yesterday afternoon. They did a heart ultrasound and a VG scan (to check for blood clots) yesterday. Those showed no abnormalities. Tomorrow morning they will do a stress test and at some point plan to check his thyroid.
The orthostatic hypertension has been going on for a few years and his internal med doctor just acted like it didn’t exist. I think he has someone’s attention now. About a month ago, it happened on a Sunday morning during the invitation as he was directing. He didn’t fall, but he was sinking and I knew he wasn’t quite with us.  I was sitting in the congregation and moved to the end of the pew, ready to make my move! A friend who is in the medical field said he was “ready to sprint!” Standing and walking quickly does not work out well for him. Although the orthostatic hypertension isn’t new, the increased exhaustion and this low energy level is.
Please pray that with God’s guidance the medical team will be able to determine what is causing this and will make the right call to correct it.
Trusting Him,
Ed and Marsha
P.S. Ed says that the hospital food is delicious; better than many restaurants. Bet you haven’t heard that often!

Shalom Seekers