Thursday, June 25, 2009


Still having trouble writing anything I like, so I thought I'd do some rework of an old poem to pass the time. I think it's better now and suits me better now, but still not perfect. (So... maybe it really is me)

Pins and needles.
The unknown
becoming un-numb.
Realizations thawing and
drip, drip, dripping
into my consciousness
until my old thoughts are swirling and gasping for air.
held at bay by waves
of self-doubt.
No longer adrift,
but still searching.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Making Up for Lost Time

I hate that feeling like your brain is going to explode. I'm really trying to be very aware of what I say and how I say it. I think it's good for me because the more aware I am of these things, the better able I am to make adjustments to communicate more effectively. I still have moments where I just start talking and I'm not really thinking about what I'm saying and then I realize how confused I must sound to people who don't know me (and even to some people who do know me, although the ones who count have developed that oh-so-important sixth-sense of being able to interpret my ramblings into something that makes sense. At least to us.)

So while I think it is a good exercise for me to be purposeful and aware of what I'm saying. The results are mixed and the symptom is that I feel sometimes like my brain could explode. The negative side-effect has been that when I sit down to write, all the stuff I've been mulling over in my head gets jumbled up with all the stuff I haven't said out loud, with terrible results in my writing. I have several drafts written and they are all one big BLEH of nothingness. A few sentences here and there make sense to me, but when I read it all in context I have no idea what I'm trying to convey. I want to write about some of the things I'm learning about myself and my faith, but it all sounds crazy when I look at the words on the screen. I guess I could make the argument that if you're learning about a crazy person, whatever you discover will likely be crazy as well, but that seems like a sorry excuse.

The other reason I haven't posted the drafts is that what I've written about my quest to this point has caused alarm in some of my friends. I thought I was doing an adequate job of explaining where I'm coming from -- that this is a good journey for me at this point in my life, no matter how frustrating. But apparently, I'm just doing a good job of making people concerned for my mental and emotional well-being. I know I joke around about being crazy and feeling like I'm losing it, but I don't mean it in a clinical sense. I really just say those things about myself because I realize that while other people have learned to sit up straight and put on a normal face for those around them, I have not. All my quirks and oddities are just out there for anyone to see because I have not learned to hide them behind an 'I'm Normal' mask. Maybe it's because I was homeschooled....
(Kidding. Kind of.)

I realize this post isn't very cohesive, but it's the best I can muster right now. I needed to write something to get over the bleh. I was just waiting for it to pass, but I started thinking that the longer I let it go on, the worse it was going to get. I'll end with a little excerpt from another Caedmon's Call song, 'This World.' (So, yeah. Maybe I can't stop listening to my old, old, old Caedmon's Call CD. I'll get over it eventually.) I love the last part especially, about making up for lost time. In a way, that's what I feel like I'm doing. It's stressful and frustrating, but also exciting and liberating. It's all part of unraveling... in a good way.

There's tarnish on the golden rule
And I want to jump from this ship of fools.
Show me a place where hope is young
And a people who are not afraid to love.

This world has nothing for me,
And this world has everything.
All that I could want
And nothing that I need.

This world has held my hand
And has led me into intolerance.

But now I'm waking up,
And I'm breaking up,
And I'm making up
For lost time…

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Requires Additional Sorting

I am tired of picking sawdust, wood chips, and grass clippings out of my clean underwear. Before your mind goes somewhere weird, let me explain. My husband has become a project addict. When we met he was that laid-back guy who did well enough in school without really trying and worked a part-time job so he could have money to go out with his friends and to play golf. Not lazy, by any means, but certainly not a highly-motivated overachiever.

After we graduated college and got married, he went back to school and we rented one half of a duplex my parents own. When he had to quit his job to finish school (classes during the day and then radiology clinicals at night and on the weekends), my parents let us live there rent-free until he graduated, in exchange for us keeping up with the yard work for both sides of the house, doing needed repairs, and completing some unfinished projects my dad didn’t have time to finish. We helped remodel the bathroom, paint the old (and quite ugly) cabinets in the kitchen to a bright and pretty white, re-painted some rooms, hung new trim…. you get the idea. The place looked way better when we finally moved out than it did when we moved in. I’m not sure if that is where the project madness began, but… possibly.

When we built our house, we used a company called U-Build-It (totally cheesy name, but not everyone sees the value in creativity, I guess). They are basically a consultant and resource to you, allowing you to act as your own general contractor. The fee you pay is much less than you would pay a GC and they provide you information and schedules and a network of sub-contractors/vendors so you can manage the project of having your house built. It was stressful and challenging, but with the help of family and friends we were able to do quite a lot of the work ourselves and save a bundle of money. We did all the wood floors, tile, trim, doors, painting, insulation in the garage, and numerous other little projects, preventing us from having to pay labor cost for all of those things.

The house has a full, yet unfinished, basement. Ryan has big plans for this basement, on hold until we win the lottery (no, we don’t play) or miraculously come in to some money (although we have no wealthy relatives so that is also unlikely). For the first two years we lived in the house, when we did have some money not already assigned to some other expense, he would purchase some lumber and bit-by-bit worked on framing out the walls for his dream basement. And that is how it looks today. The rest of the materials he needs to finish it are just too expensive. I think he got tired of working on something that would be years to completion and went looking for another fix.

This year, our third in the house, he has completed several big landscaping projects, re-seeded/fertilized the front and back yards, built a custom built-in bench/cubby/hook thing in our little front-hall alcove, and when all that was finished he went ahead and did a custom shelf/wine rack in the little alcove in the dining room too. In between these projects, there have been other mini-projects, most of which also involve things that create saw dust, wood chips, and grass clippings.

I must say I’m completely impressed by the fruits of his labor. It all looks amazing. Yet, he throws all the clothes he wears for these projects in with the rest of the dirty laundry. Yes, I’m grateful he doesn’t just throw them on the floor, but discovering the hard way that you’re wearing a sock or pair of underwear with a wood shaving entangled in the fibers is quite unpleasant. I have tried repeatedly to wash all his work clothes together, but I have yet been unable to prevent cross-contamination. It seems that somehow a sawdust encrusted sock always makes it in with the non-work clothes or a pair of my unmentionables always ends up in with his work clothes. I guess I should get a special hamper for work clothes only and even then try to be more diligent about separating the laundry piece-by-piece prior to throwing it into the washing machine. Just one more thing in my life that requires additional sorting out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Time We Went to Chicago

Ryan and I love Chicago. We've only been there a few times, but we still thought it was amazing. We'd wanted to go to Shedd Aquarium on our last trip there, but never made it. When we decided to go to Moline on vacation, we thought "Chicago is only 3 hours from Moline and could kind of be on the way home, so why not include a stop there on our way back?" The answer for this question should have been "Because we have never before traveled with small children!" but we pretended the answer was.... "Yeah. Why not? Let's do it!"

One of the issues of with traveling with kids is that you have to go to bed when they go to bed because you are in the same hotel room with them and they need sleep and will not fall asleep with the TV, lights, music, laptop, or anything else on. In Moline we had a room with two queen beds so we decided to divide and conquer when it came to bedtime. I slept in one bed with Owen and Ryan slept in the other with Luke. This seemed most reasonable to keep them from killing each other in the night.

After our second night of going to sleep by 9PM, waking up a million times for fear the child in our bed would fall out as he tossed/turned/kicked his way through the night, we got up insanely early to pack up and head east. The hotel we stayed in offered a 'free' hot breakfast (how is it free when you know they just include it in the cost of the room?), so we ate before we left. Well, three of us ate. Owen, the two-year-old, was on hunger strike for the entire trip. I desperately tried to get him to eat something -- anything -- to lessen the pain of the three-hour trek to the Windy City. He ended up eating, with a spoon, eight little containers of Smucker's strawberry fruit spread. Ah.... strawberry extract and high-fructose corn syrup gel. The breakfast of champions.

We headed across northern Illinois, planning to go to the Aquarium first, as our check-in time at the hotel in Chicago wasn't till 4PM. We were going to stop to get lunch prior to arriving in the city so the boys could eat in the car and be (we hoped) happy and well fed for our time at Shedd. However, we did not know that for the last 20 exits prior to arriving in the city there was not so much as a McDonald's (or even a gas station snack shop) in sight. It was all asphalt plants and train yards and constructions sites. Great. The boys were thrilled to see all the construction equipment and trains, but we were not so happy knowing we were going to have to spend triple the amount of money on lunch as we'd planned.

We arrived at the aquarium and all the signs along the road were apparently for pedestrians. They all direct you right up to the drive in front of the building so we had to drive around the circle drive in a long line of other tourists who have done the same thing and get stuck in that traffic before driving forever and paying a crazy amount of money to park in a garage that is far, far away from the circle drive and building. At this point I was totally annoyed that we forgot to pack the stroller (not that Owen would have sat in it for more than 15 minutes anyway), because at least I wouldn't be trying to carry him everywhere since his little legs are so short and he walks very slowly when he knows you're trying to hurry.

Once we finally got to the entrance, there was a line just to get inside the museum to pay for admission. At 11AM on a Wednesday. Seriously? So we stood in the line and Ryan went to get us hot dogs and a bottle of water for lunch from the hot dog stand conveniently located near where the line forms. We spent $18 on a lunch we could made at home for $1.98. Awesome. Owen, of course, took one bite of his hot dog and refused to eat the rest. So I stand in the line for 30 minutes holding the stupid thing, trying to get him to eat it. Why didn't I grab more strawberry spread and stash it in my purse at breakfast??

Shedd aquarium is amazing.... from what I remember. Luke looked at the map and wanted to see the penguins first, which were as far away from the entrance as you could get. Everything between there and the penguins is pretty much a blur. We tried to get him to stop and look at other things, but he was on a mission and just kept pulling on us to keep going if we stopped at any other viewing areas. Of course, once he got to the penguin exhibit, he was done. We had paid too much money on admission to just leave at that point, so we did try to make it to all the other exhibits, but the boys were tired and hungry and cranky (and to be honest, so were we).

After checking in to the hotel, we decided to walk to Giordano's for some delicious Chicago style pizza. On the map it looked about three blocks over and one block up. In reality it was about a mile away. Why don't they show all the streets on maps instead of just the main ones? Overall it was a good experience. The boys loved taking in the city and Giordano's has the best pizza. Thankfully, we sat in a booth near the window so the boys could look out and see the city going by. They were completely fascinated by the buses and taxis and people on bicycles. The evening ended with me falling asleep on a pull-out sofa between the two boys (who were trying to kill each other in the night because we decided they should share the sofa bed since we were tired of sharing sleeping space with them).

By the time we left Chicago I was completely exhausted and felt like it was only a moderately successful visit. Yes, it was adorable when Owen kept saying the Chicago skyline looked like a castle and how much he loved the buses and had to point out every single one. It was cute that Luke got so excited about riding in the hotel elevator and helping Owen spot the buses and just taking in everything about the city. It was fun to see them looking out the hotel window and exclaiming over all the things they could see from up on the 11th floor. But it was frustrating that we spent all that time and effort and money to go to the aquarium when they really couldn't have cared less.

So.... what is the moral of this story? The things your kids are going to love are most likely the things that are free. If your toddler/pre-school -aged kids aren't the kind who can sleep anywhere and everywhere with no trouble at all, they will likely be tired for the duration of your trip. They won't want you to try to make them stop and look at certain things you want them to see. They won't care that you just paid $17.95 for them (and $24.95 for each of you) to see all the wonders of the Earth's rivers and oceans. They will just want to walk in the park and point out the things that interest them, like buses, trains, the boats in the lake, and the beautiful castle that is the city skyline. Just go with it. Enjoy the short period of time in which they want your undivided attention and save the costly field trips for when they are no longer enthralled by the day-to-day goings-on of a busy city.

It does kind of look like a castle...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Breathe In Deep

More lyrics I love right now. (Caedmon's Call, on their 1997 self-titled release.)


When I'm cold and alone
All I want is my freedom
and a sudden gust of gravity.

I stop wailing and kicking
Just to let this water cover me, cover me.

Only if I rest my arms, rest my mind,
You'll overcome me
and swell up around me.

With my fighting so vain,
With my vanity so fought,
I'm rolling over.

All the time I'm thinking,
Wondering how it would be
to breathe in deep.

I guess I need to be careful
when I ask for a drink
(Just might get what I ask for).

And I know just what
You'd say to me,
That's why I don't ask You.

What would I ask You?

An awful lot of talking,
I don't leave You much to say;

You didn't ever leave me-
And my greatest fear was
You'd leave me here.

A long time back
my feet could touch the bottom.

It probably makes more sense if you listen to the song, but I think it has some really great lines. I especially love the last line. I guess with my own last line and ending issues, I have a soft spot for really great ones.

I think this song, and especially that last line, describes how I feel right now. Just a few months ago, my feet touched the bottom, but now I mostly forget what that feels like. I don't think that, had someone asked me back then, I would have said that I had everything figured out. I'm smart enough to know I never have. But I think that looking back, I felt I had enough figured out. That I knew what was going on and that I knew what I thought about most things. Now I'm exploring and thinking and mulling over and trying to swim. Despite that it is unfamiliar, it's much better than just wading in.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Second Hand Distraction

I've been thinking a lot about how many people (myself, specifically) tend to remember things the way it helps them make sense of their present day. Not that this is negative, just part of human nature... I think. It's difficult not to apply new filters to things that happened in the past, since, if we are striving toward any goals in our lives, we should know ourselves better now than we did before. I don't think it's prudent to dwell on the past, but I do think examining from time to time where we've been, can help us move forward.

rear view condensation
obscures until
wiped clean by Musing's hand.
memories revived,
yet altered by contemporary bias.
second hand distraction amplified
as history increases.
glancing back induces
unfamiliar focus.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Time We Went to Moline (The Home of John Deere)

I'm really not sure why we thought it would be a good idea to go on a road trip with a 2 and 4 year old. I guess it's the crazy. Starting the night before, the 2-year-old wouldn't sleep because he was "Ready to go for our trip" as he reminded me for hours every time I went to his room to tell him to go to sleep and that we couldn't leave for our trip until he fell asleep and woke up when it was light outside. Of course an hour into the trip, both boys were saying they wanted to turn around and go back home.

We finally made it to Moline, which is a very strange town. It seems they have more bars there than any other type of business and anything that isn't a bar, hotel, or John Deere seems to be for sale or lease, even the court house. Everything is under construction and there are very few signs indicating where you are or how to get where you want to go. This is not the least bit stressful or irritating when you have two kids in the back seat yelling various things about having to go potty or wanting food or wanting to sit in another tractor. We even accidentally ended up on an active military base just trying to get across the river because the sign that tells you it is a military base was about the size of a speed limit sign with three paragraphs explaining it was the bridge to the base and what you needed for access and there is no way a normal person could read it all while driving up the on-ramp by which it was posted and trying to merge with traffic. At least we weren't arrested at the guard post, since this is (shockingly) a very common mistake. The boys seemed to enjoy most of the things we did, despite that Ryan and I were stressed and tired most of the time. They loved seeing all the John Deere equipment and the Mississippi River and riding in the hotel elevator and swimming in the hotel pool.

Although this trip was really for the kids, but we had a great time too. Before we had kids we stopped in Davenport, IA on our way back from Yellowstone and had dinner at this cute little brew pub there called The Front Street Brewery. Since Davenport is right across the river from Moline we did get to have dinner and some beer (well, just dinner, no beer for the kids) there one evening. We sat outside on their patio and talked to the boys about our Yellowstone trip and about how we would all go there and to the Grand Canyon someday and it was nice.

The strangest thing about Moline was the volume of retiree-type persons we encountered and how very rude and unfriendly they were. I understand that not all people like children and that doesn't usually bother me. Typically, these people just ignore kids or at least attempt to be polite if they absolutely must interact with them. Not the old people of (visiting?) Moline. These people did not even try to hide their contempt for kids. We had people give us dirty looks just because our kids were near them in a public place. Mind you, we are not those parents who let our kids run around crazy and get in the way of other people or disrespect that others are sharing a public area with us. We keep them close to us in public and remind them to watch for others and if they do happen to get too enthusiastic and run in front of someone we always apologize and remind our kids of the behavior we expect from them. None of that mattered. We had people sneer at us. Sneer at our kids. Cut in front of us in lines as though we didn't exist and hadn't been waiting patiently and quietly with our two energetic kids for our turn. People in general were not that friendly there, but the behavior of the older persons was actually shocking. It was bizarre. Not that any of this ruined our trip, it was just too odd to not mention.

Both of the boys loved Moline, but I think Owen had the most fun. He constantly walked toward a huge tractor or combine or other heavy machinery with his arms outstretched shouting "It's giant!" His favorite thing to say now is "I want to go to the John Deere place." He is actually in bed saying it right now, even though it is an hour past his bedtime. Maybe he can retire to Moline and visit the John Deere Pavilion every day and be rude to the families with little kids who come there.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Why #1

I have lots of questions. It's not that I don't know the answers to any of them. The issue seems to be that I have a difficult time getting those answers from feelings to comprehensible thoughts, and from comprehensible thoughts into intelligible conversation. In order to address this, I'm going to try to start asking myself questions and trying to formulate some good answers. I have a list I'm working from and I probably won't post all of them on my blog, but I think this is a good place for a kick-start.

Why do I write and why do I write the things I do?

I write because I can. Because it is a good way for me to get thoughts out of my head since I seem to have so much trouble saying out loud what I actually think. I write because there isn't anything else I feel I'm good at. (Okay. I give pretty good hugs and I can make my kids laugh, but neither of those things are really a hobby.)

I write this blog because I decided I needed to get back into the habit of writing. I could have done this in a journal or notebook, but I often tell myself I will do something, but then I get busy and don't do it. I figured if I started a blog and told a few people about it (people I knew would check it), then I would be more likely to write on a regular basis. I've realized how much I need to practice writing and practice expressing my thoughts.

I also write this blog because I enjoy it. I never really read blogs before, but then my friend Sara started one and I realized they weren't all mommy blogs or food reviews or teenage angst. Once I started, I really liked doing it. One thing that surprised me was that I really wanted other people's opinions on what I was writing. I think it's nice to have feedback -- good, bad, or indifferent. I know some people who read this blog disagree with about half of what I write, but that doesn't bother me. I appreciate that they still take time to read it.

I write poetry because I like to play with words to see if I can get them to form a thought or thoughts in different ways. I write the kind of poetry I write because I want people to know what I meant when I wrote it. I do like to read abstract poetry. I like to think about it and apply my own filters and experiences and I enjoy thinking about what the person meant or was thinking of when they wrote it. But when it comes to my own poetry, I purposely try to be less abstract. I like the thought that something I write could mean something completely different to the person reading it than I meant when I wrote it. But, since I'm also trying to convey a certain thought or feeling with my poetry, I don't want it to be too abstract. I guess it could have something to do with my desire to communicate effectively.

So there you have it. Nothing great. but I think I could explain this to someone out loud. That's what I'm going for so I think this is a decent start.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Lately I've been feeling extremely discontent. Like I'm coming apart. As though I'm watching myself unravel and there is nothing I can do to stop it. It's quite disconcerting. I really feel as though there is something wrong with me. 'Unravel' is the best word I can find to describe it. When I find a word I like that seems to perfectly describe something, I like to look it up and see if it has other meanings I wasn't aware of or had forgotten. Unravel is my perfect word right now.

un·rav·el [ un rávv'l ] (past and past participle un·rav·eled, present participle un·rav·el·ing, 3rd person present singular un·rav·els)
1. transitive and intransitive verb: undo knitted strands, or become undone: to undo the knitted or woven yarn, thread, or other strands of something, or become undone by having the strands come apart 
2. transitive and intransitive verb become or make something understandable: to make the complexities of something clear and understandable, or become clear and understandable

I am a reasonably intelligent person. Not genius or anything, but smart enough to do well in school despite holding down two or three jobs at a time and volunteering and spending time with friends. I've managed to get decent jobs since I graduated, some impressive (but ultimately meaningless) certifications at work that require passing difficult tests, and I think most people who know me would say 'yes' if asked if they think I'm smart.

But, for the first time I can remember, I feel not smart. I feel like I've missed something really important and I hate (yes, hate) the thought of it. At what point did I start just making decisions and not asking myself a million questions first? For example, when I stopped going to church after college, I had decided that there were things involved in going to church that I didn't want to be part of my life. I didn't want to judge people and treat them badly because they didn't live up to my ideals. I didn't want to be narrow-minded or fake or hypocritical. Looking back, it's as though I said to myself, "Great. I have it figured out. I will just not be those things."

And since then it's like I've just been coasting. Yes, I've been reading my Bible and other books and started going to church again. But I've also been making decisions about this or that based on how I feel and trying to not be the things I don't want to be. I'm not sure how I was okay with that. Not to make excuses, but I guess I was just so busy with life and being an employee and then a wife and then a mom that I completely overlooked many of the questions I should be asking myself about the things I do. Well... no longer. I might be unraveling in the sense that I feel like I'm coming apart, but I am not going to continue that way. I'm making an intentional effort to unravel the complexities of my life, faith, and decisions into something clear and understandable. And I am going to work on becoming clear and understandable in my conversations.

I Peter 3:15 &16 reads, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience..." It is unacceptable to me if I can't give an understandable answer for the things I do, in regards to my faith and otherwise. Yes, it may be difficult for me to talk to someone in person without seeming like a complete dork, but that doesn't mean I can just hide behind that excuse and resign myself to being unable to communicate effectively. It will take practice and determination, but I'm hoping it will be worth it. I'm going to keep unraveling until I make sense.