Day 55: Licensed to Kill

Today is Mike's last day. And it's his first day.

For the last several years, he has worked in a difficult work environment. And prior to that, he worked for the same company for almost the entire 30 years of our married life. He went from a job he loved to get up and go to every day to a job that he endured. And he did it for me.

He did it because I missed my kids. He did it because I missed Texas. He did it because I could not picture myself happy in Georgia. He did it because he loved me.

And now, it's my turn to support him.

Tomorrow, Mike will start his own pest control company, called Maximum Pest Management. He's well qualified for the work, considering he has a degree in Entomology (the study of insects), and he has been published in world renowned journals for his studies in the areas of residential insects. He's trained hundreds if not thousands of employees around the nation on how to safely and effectively apply pest control products. He has been recruited by the State of Texas and the Federal Government to serve on some pretty important pest management problems caused from little bugs that slipped into our country on big shipments. And if that's not enough experience to run his own company, he worked in management for a very large pest control specialty company for almost 30 years.

The one thing he hasn't had up to this point is the willingness to take a risk. You see, he's kind of ummmm . . . shall we say . . . risk averse. So this big gigantic step is a BIG GIGANTIC step for him.

But I know he's got what it takes. And we live in Texas, the home of humidity and heat (two things bugs just seem to love!)

All that to say, I'm living with a killer. And he's licensed to kill! (That sounds so mysterious and intriguing)

Day 54: All Aboard

I heard someone pray yesterday and their prayer went something like this, "Lord, help him land safely as he has jumped from one moving train to the next and he feels like he is in mid-air."

Oh how that resonated with me. I immediately had this picture of a very slow moving train, with hundreds of railroad cars attached to each other, winding through the mountain. And atop these cars was a man, jumping from one car to the next. On some of the cars he jumped easily, almost effortlessly, and then trotted down to the end of that car, ready to leap onto the next one.

At times, the gaps between cars was vast and he would have to back up and get a running start in order to be able to clear the gap and land on the next car. And on those occasions, he wasn't sure footed in his landing, but instead landed with a thud and seemed to be a rolling mass of flailing arms and legs. Eventually though, he stopped rolling, and just sat perfectly still, resting before moving on to the next car.

But here's the thing I noticed the most about him. No matter what he did. Whether he jumped or ran, or fell, or rolled, or sat perfectly still, his progress was exactly the same. He was never going to arrive to his destination any faster than the speed of that train.

I thought about that picture all day long. And I pictured myself as that man. And I pictured God as that train. I am constantly jumping and running and falling and rolling and eventually I have to just stop moving altogether because I am worn out. But no matter how hard I strive, I'm not going to arrive at my destination any faster than God intends for me to get there.

In the words of the Psalmist, "Why are you striving so hard?" Why indeed am I striving so hard. . . Imagine if I just allowed myself to ride the train.

All that to say, in the words of my two year old, "All Aboard."

Day 53: A Royal Pain

We are in the midst of potty training, oddly enough a place I never thought I'd be again in my lifetime. Oh the sense of humor the Lord has. :)

In preparation of said potty training, I took the girls shopping for potty chairs and big girl panties. They were very excited about the princesses on their panties and pretty pumped about Minnie Mouse too (though to them all mice are "micka-mouse" . . . including the mouse on the computer!)

The potty chairs that they liked, (mercifully also the cheapest ones!) are pink and purple and when in the open position, they look like a throne. Very appropriate for two little princesses!

The best feature about the chairs is that when the girls "do their business" the potty chairs make a noise. I call it a royal noise because I don't actually know what you would call it. But it's like the sound of a fairy godmother's waving wand or the sound of trumpets blowing a royal fanfare. It's very cute, and it's really nice because I don't have to stand over them WILLING THEM WITH MY LASER VISION to make something happen in that potty chair. Instead, I can go about my business, (not the same "business" as theirs in case you're getting lost) and when I hear the royal noise, I know they have done something, and I can go back into the bathroom.

It's been particularly helpful on those times when they have decided to go potty without telling me they were going. So when I suddenly hear the unexpected "royal sound," I can make a dead run for the bathroom. (I fear they might try to empty the potty on their own as well . . .ewwwww.)

Super awesome singing potty chair. Best idea ever.

. . .

On second thought, maybe not.

2:10 a.m. I hear the fairy godmother wand waving noise and it awakens me from a dead sleep. I think to myself, "Did Shortstack get out of bed, (which by the way is still a crib), and walk downstairs and use the potty in my bathroom?" In my sleepy stupor, that seemed like a possibility, so I got out of bed and walked into the bathroom and sure enough, no child.

I decided I must have been dreaming, giggled a little that I was dreaming about singing potty chairs, and I drifted back off to sleep.

3:30 a.m. I hear the royal trumpet fanfare. I bolt out of the bed, completely startled, kick the end of my bed as I round the corner, think bad words, lots and lots of bad words, and then once again see my dark empty bathroom. "I'm seriously losing it," I think to myself. "This potty training of twins is taking a toll on my mind."

4:42 a.m. The potty chair sings its third song, which is hard to describe, but it sounds like something they'd play when the queen enters the room . . . again, a "royal" noise.

At this point, I get out of bed, go into the bathroom, RIP the pieces of the potty chair apart because I don't know how else to make it stop singing, kick it for good measure just to show it who's boss, and go back to bed.

5:45 a.m. (I wish I was joking) I hear the fairy godmother wand waving noise, and I'm FREAKED OUT. I know I took that stupid thing apart and now it's SINGING AGAIN! What the . . .?

Turns out, Mike got up shortly after my 4:42 karate chopping round with the chair from hell, couldn't figure out why it was all torn to pieces, and so he put it back together! I think it waited an hour to sing again just to taunt me.

All that to say, I think my potty chair might be possessed. Or, I need a day off. Or both.

Day 52: Slack

"You might try cutting yourself some slack."

Sometimes the simplest sentence carries the greatest amount of weight.

So simple. Right? Why didn't I think of that?

Cut myself some slack.

The girl's psychologist said that to me today. He said, "I want you to look at these kids. Really look at them. They are happy. They are healthy. They are well-adjusted. They are content. They are joyful. They are loved. They are loving little people. Now think back to who they were a year ago. You have done extremely well under extremely difficult circumstances. You might try cutting yourself some slack."

Isn't it funny how sometimes just stepping back and putting things into perspective makes such a difference?

All that to say, I might try cutting myself some slack.

Day 51: Confusing Myself

From time to time, I struggle with my prayer life. I don't mean that I struggle in having one. I'm pretty consistent about that. I often find that at random times I have zoned out of my conscious mind and find that I am deep in conversation with God.

What I mean is that sometimes I struggle in knowing what exactly to say to God.

In my logical mind, I know that prayer changes things. I know there is scripture to support that Moses convinced God to spare His people whom He was planning to wipe out. So, if God was "intent" on wiping out His people and Moses convinced Him to do otherwise, then that does indeed mean that God changed His mind, right?

It's just that sometimes when I pray, I feel like I am telling God what to do, and that feels wrong.

Examples? "Lord, take every cell, every tissue, every ligament and every tendon, and heal them for your glory." Feels a lot like I'm bossing Him around. (I actually prayed that exact prayer yesterday.)

As I was walking up to my building yesterday, I realized I was praying and I heard myself say, "Lord, you need to just . . ." (I'll spare you the details of that prayer, but suffice it to say, starting a sentence with "you need to just . . ." is going to be bossing someone around, and in this case it was God."

Of course I have not reduced my prayer life to a list of things to ask God for. It's just aht when I do want to ask Him for something,I don't actually think I know HOW to ask Him. And that thought cripples my ability to pray. And once that happens, I begin to create a formula for my prayers. You know, just to be sure I'm "doing it right."

Is this just me? Am I the only one who struggles in this?

I often say that I trust God's plan for my life. And if that is true, then why do I need to ask Him for anything at all? He already HAS a plan. So then should my prayers JUST be adoration, confession, thanksgiving? I don't think so because Jesus said in the book of John, "If you remain in me and my word remains in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you." So clearly, there is nothing wrong in the asking.

All that to say, I confuse myself sometimes. Lord, teach me to pray.

Day 50: A New Beginning, Again

"I know a man named Michael Finnigan. He had whiskers on his chinnigan. He pulled them out and they grew in again. Poor old Michael Finnigan. Begin again."

These are the words to a children's song. You know, the kind that just keeps starting over and over and over.

Sometimes I feel like life is like that. Just a series of restarts.

This morning at 6:50 a.m., I awakened a sleeping baby to get her ready for her day, so I could drop her off at her little preschool and I could go to work.

When I woke her up, she squinted her eyes, smiled a sleepy smile and said, "What happened, Mimi?"

Oh little one. That just often seems to be the question of the day.

Just when it looked like we had things all figured out, just when life seemed like it might settle into an easier routine, then once again the routine of our life pressed "restart."

Begin again.

The nanny is no more. We are back to early mornings and hurried breakfasts and rushed trips back into the house to retrieve whatever article it was that got left behind, and so on, and so on, and so on.

But, as I gave myself a pep talk (trust me, I REQUIRED a pep talk this morning), I decided that I was going to be positive. So I put on a smile, talked lightly with the two toddlers in my backseat, and started my day, and restarted our routine.

As I dropped them off into their classroom, the squeals of delight from their teachers and classmates left me feeling a little bit happier. Shortstack said to me on my way out, "Mimi, I in cool!" (Mimi, I'm in school!)

All that to say, it's a restart. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing.

Day 49: The Lord Giveth . . .

On Day 37, my post was "I'm Lovin' It." A short 3 weeks later and my post is, The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh away. Alas, our nanny only made it three short weeks.

I thought about not blogging her exit, but I thought since I blogged her entrance into our family, and since I try to be as transparent as I can be with you, my faithful readers, that I would share that we are now nannyless. :( Boo.

I'm so torn about what to do. Clearly, everyone believes that private in-home care is better for them, but there is also the risk that ANOTHER new nanny will only make it for a few weeks, and then she, too, will exit their lives. And if there is anything in life they DON'T NEED, it is people exiting their lives.

So, here we are.

The girls were really just getting used to sleeping in, eating a leisurely breakfast, and all that accompanies NOT having to be awakened at the crack of dawn and hitting the ground running.

At this point, we will most likely put them back in their little day care/preschool. The owner there is so nice, and when I called to tell her what happened, she was so nice and gracious about us coming back.

All that to say, I do trust that God has plans and purpose in all of this. Sometimes, I just wished my road map showed where we were going, and not just where we had been. I guess that's why they say life is an adventure.

Day 48: A Miserable Job

I like to read. I love every kind of book . . . well, I don't really love biographies, but I try to read one or two a year just to broaden my horizons.

Anyway, one of my favorite books is a leadership book called, "Three Signs of a Miserable Job" by Patrick Lencioni. He writes his books in narrative form (he tells a story) as opposed to presenting a list of facts and theories that you should read and learn. It makes for good reading.

The premise of this book is that no matter WHAT kind of work you do,(this is for Stay-at-Home moms to CEOs of fortune 500 companies) you will most likely be miserable if the following three factors are not taken into consideration:

1. Anonymity - All human beings need to be known, valued and appreciated for who they are and for their unique qualities, by the person in authority over them. If they feel invisible, generic or anonymous, they will eventually not love their job, no matter what they are doing.

2. Immeasurement - People need to be able to measure the progress and value of their work for themselves. Regardless of how benevolent their employer might be, people will eventually be unmotivated if their only means of measuring success depends upon someone else's opinion of their work.

And lastly, and the most important in my mind is

3. Irrelevance - Everyone needs to know that what they do matters to someone. That in some way it makes someone else's life better.

I always say, "We need to connect the dots for people." We need to tell them that they matter, help them measure their own success, and remind them of why they do what they do.

All that to say, I hope you know you matter. I hope you see the progress of your life and of what you do in it. I hope you know that you were created with a purpose that was given to you by a Purposeful Creator. I hope you know that each and every day in which you awaken and take a breath, you have the potential to change your life and the life of someone else for the better.

Day 47: Celebrating

I will confess, I am not very politically savvy. I'm that girl, the one that Jay Leno would make fun of in his "man on the street" interviews. For example, I was in the doctor's office the other day reading an article about Hilary Clinton. In the article, they kept referring to her as Secretary Clinton. "Secretary Clinton?", I thought. Why do they keep calling her that?

Yes. I'm THAT out of touch! I remember her being offered the position, but I don't remember her accepting it. I remember her turning it down.

It's not that I don't care about political things, or world events. I guess I just pay attention to a different set of things. Some people are zealous about global warming, some about rescuing sex slaves, some about having clean water in the world, and some pay attention to political and world events.

They are all important.

Anyway, I find that I am somewhat unsure of how to respond to Osama Bin Laden's death. Perhaps I just do not understand the political ramifications of it.

I find it easy to believe there is justice in his death, but I find it difficult to celebrate his actual death. What set me on this path of thinking is that I called a family member this morning and when I asked her what she was doing, she said quite jubilantly, "I'm drinking coffee and celebrating Osama's death."

I've had many friends tell me that if I had lost someone in 911 I might not find it difficult to celebrate his death. But I just don't know.

All that to say, I think my struggle is in celebrating that someone, really ANYONE, would be spending eternity in hell. I just cannot find it in me to celebrate that.

Day 46: Good Medicine

When Zack and Jacob were little, they were just never interested in Band-aids. Well, technically Zack was disinterested. Jacob was downright phobic. When he would fall down and get hurt, if he saw blood, he would cry. Not because he was bleeding. Oh No. He would start crying immediately and say, "No band-aid please. No band-aid please." To this day, he still doesn't like band-aids. I don't think he fears them (I haven't really asked in years) but I don't think he likes them.

So, having two little ones who LOVE them is a new experience. Usually, when they bring me a band-aid (where DO they keep finding these things?!), I say, "No. We aren't going to pretend like we need band-aids. Band-aids are for when you are really hurt."

But for some reason, yesterday, I gave in.

This is one of those stories that is so much funnier in person, but I'm going to attempt to tell it.

So, yesterday I gave in. I opened the band-aid and put it on Shortstack's imaginary boo-boo on her shin. She trotted off quite happy with her treasure.

But then I put Nitro's band-aid on her imaginary boo-boo on her knee, and her reaction to the band-aid made me laugh so hard, I cried and then almost peed my pants.

I took her off my lap and set her down on the floor, and the second her foot hit the ground (the one on the "injured" leg)she started limping like her leg literally was going to fall off. Her limp was so impressive that the second her foot would try to take a step, she would IMMEDIATELY pick it back up. (Think of a cat with a piece of tape on it's paw!)

She even whined and whimpered like her leg was about to fall off. I mean, she had it DOWN. She gives a whole new meaning to the words DRAMA QUEEN!

Tonight, I let Zack and Christina witness this experience. And sure enough, once again, the "injured" leg became immediately unable to sustain ANY weight. They laughed until they cried!

Oh how I wish I had a video to show you! This retelling simply does not do it justice!

All that to say, laughter is good, good medicine.