big boy beds and bursts of blubbering

Moving Boxes

Sometimes it’s the pile of too-small clothes in the donation box that makes a parent cry.

Sometimes it’s breaking down the crib and carrying it out for the yard sale pile that makes a parent cry.

I did both of those things today without shedding tears.

And then.

Maybe somewhere between re-folding the stacks of yard sale blankets and picking up the 700th Hot Wheels car, I lost it.

It started small with pinched, down-turned corners of my mouth and squinty eyes.  That’s a pretty picture, huh?  Did you just try it?  Yup, it was that awkward.  So thankful that the kids were out on the river with my husband and not at home to see me twisting my face crazy ways.  Within about 5 minutes, irregular rhythms of previously stifled sobs and sniffles were bursting into the empty house.

Nobody’s going off to college; Nobody’s going for an extended stay in a hospital room.

I’m moving our girl out of the room she’s shared with middle brother for the last 2 1/2 years, and she’s only going on the other side of the wall.  She’ll have her own space, and baby brother will move to the bottom bunk.  I’m not too upset about being done with the crib (yet.)  I’m sad that moving her out probably means changes in her relationship with her brother. 

She needs her own space more and more as she is getting older, and there are several other great reasons that swapping rooms has to be done.

But the way they play together 80% of the time?  It’s precious, and I hate being the one to initiate changes that might mean they’re not as close.

My sister pointed out today that I don’t know what positive changes between them it might bring about that I can’t foresee.  She’s right.  And already tonight, I heard middle brother talking about himself in ways that sounded like he might be gaining some much-needed sense of maturation. Halleluuuu-yer! That brought tremendous relief, because I was seriously concerned about jealousy on his part, too.

In an odd way, the pain of moving on from one chapter in their childhood brought me joy.  There are days when I’m too busy or too self-absorbed to be the mom I really want to be, but having my heart break over 10 feet of floor space reminds me that God is slowly making me into who he wants me to be.

 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3, emphasis mine)

what i learned this week #5 {a family health-related edition}

whatilearnedthisweekIt was after I’d written all these down that I realized they were all about food and exercise.  I may have learned other things this week, but I think I’ll save those for a blog post that will stay trapped in my head for a good two weeks.  Maybe this Summer I’ll be able to write more frequently.

  1. Don’t bake with colored toothpicks.  The dye will come off around the holes where you punctured your newly Pinterested pesto-chicken-roll-up recipe, and while confetti cake is awesome, unintentional confetti chicken is not.
  2. Zumba makes me feel like one of the cool kids.
  3. This stuff should not go in your eye. bugrepellent It’s not the worst thing you can imagine, but it was probably the worst part of my Thursday.  It’s important to make sure that the pump spray is pointed in the right direction.  Oh, you knew that already?
  4. I’m the only one in this family of five who really, really likes kale.
  5. My husband likes golf enough to play during the same week that he breaks down and visits a doctor for a shoulder issue.  Hmm.  This I cannot relate to.
  6. My middle child’s love language decidedly is quality time. 5lovelanguageskidsWe rode our bikes and ran around the block together a couple of times tonight, and twice he looked up and said unprompted, “I love you, Mom.”
  7. Two of my kids are old enough and strong enough to help me train for a 5k.  My oldest can run like crazy, and she shocked herself – and me – with how easy it was for her to run 1.3 miles tonight.  She’s come a long way since February.  Now instead of thinking I can’t exercise because I’m with the kids, I should think I can exercise because I’m with the kids.  Hallelujah!

appendixless. {and how i learned what i’m worth to my child}

In 5 hours, we will have been in this hospital for 5 full days.IMAG1135bWell, my daughter will have been here all that time. I’ve taken three breaks, the longest being a 12-hour overnight stay at home while my mom took my place. You start counting these kinds of things a lot, trying to bring some kind of qualitative perspective to a seemingly infinite experience.

I’m not a big fan of taking self-portraits.  It’s not always an insecurity thing.  It’s a battle against narcissism thing.  But this one I needed to take:

IMAG1148bI will need to remember this week and that I was here with my chipped nail polish and desperately cheerful sweater for Gabby.

When she was born, my 24 year old self actually wondered, “What if she doesn’t love me?”

When she was 4, I asked my Sunday School class to pray for our relationship, because I felt it was too distant.  (Yeah, we’re old school.  No small groups.  Just old-fashioned Sunday School.)  As I grew as a mom, I learned how to connect with her better.

My girl is an independent thing, and she’s so mature and intelligent for her age that it’s easy to leave her alone too much.  She doesn’t show signs of needing Mommy as much as I’d think a 7 year old would.

This week (and the 5 days of sickness prior to them) have proven that even a girl like her needs Mama deeply.

It turns out that taking that night off at home caused me to miss the worst (read: most painful) moment of the week.  No one told me they were going to remove the drain from her side.  While they were snipping the suture holding the tube in and then pulling the tube through her incision, I was at Walgreens buying a card on behalf of her little brother.

I arrived to find my little girl sitting in a chair next to my mother, holding a scrap of paper to her chest on which I’d colored her name ombre style.  Through tears, she’d asked my mom to get it down from the bulletin board.  “Did your mom make that?” asked her Nanna.  She nodded.

IMAG1142b

I know it’s not my fault, but it still hurts.  Yes, I needed a solid night’s sleep to function better for her.  Yes, it’s okay for her to rely on other people.  Yes, it was great for my mom to get to be a part of the healing process since she lives almost 9 hours away from us.  It’s true that I had no heads-up that it might happen that day.  But knowing that you weren’t there when she really needed you? That sucks.

I’ve since promised I won’t leave the hospital until she does, and I mean I’m not even leaving the unit.  She’s stuck, so I will be, too.  Whatever we need can be brought in by someone else.

There have been other ways to learn that I’m still needed.  Her head rested on my shoulder while we sat in the bed together and watched TV.  She let me rock her when she was so frustrated that I wondered if she’d spawned another personality.  My girl’s eyes dart to me when someone is getting on her nerves and she doesn’t want to interact with them.  She looks for me first when she wakes up.  Her breath deepened when I told her I wouldn’t leave her again.

This is not only my experience.  This is much of what it means to be a parent.

There are times that one parent fits the bill of the day a little better than another.  I know there will be times when she leans more on her daddy, but I don’t ever want to forget the emotional lesson I learned this week.  I’ll need to have it rooted in my heart if she decides to go all “Leave me alone. I just want to listen to my music” when she’s 14.  Maybe I’ll be needed in a different way at that time, but I’ll be there.

the quinoa martyr

I’ve come a long way in my cooking, but I still get nervous when people come over for dinner.  Last night, I made the kind of meal that I think, “I wish Rachel or Megan was here right now.”  You know, so good that I would even be proud to share it with people who care deeply about what they eat.

I tried not to cry when my family hated it.

white wine sauce“Mom, did you put wine in this sauce?  I don’t like it.” [whiny voice:] Martha Stewart would have been proud of my roasted salmon and sauce.  (She wrote the recipe.)

The baby screams, shoves food around his tray, screams some more.

The improvised, perfectly seasoned Cheesy Broccoli & Mushroom Quinoa is tasted. Chins pivot this way and that. Eyebrows lift and then scrunch.

“I don’t like broccoli.  I’m. not. eating.”

I leave the table.

While in my room, I pout and sort my thoughts.  I pray for wisdom. I resolve to act maturely. I open the door, and there is my husband, apparently coming to smooth things over. Never mind the maturity. I have one last burst of 7 year-old and push past him without making eye contact.

Finally chilled out, I share at the table why my feelings were hurt.  It’s a big deal to me when I cook what I think’s going to be a delicious, healthy meal. (This does happen more than once a decade, contrary to how it sounds.) My emotions are high because a) I’m proud we’re not eating out and b) I’m really wanting them to enjoy the meal.

After I explain why I’m upset, my husband says, “I’m sorry.  I just don’t like quinoa.”  Oh.  He’s kind of shocked that I thought it was so yummy, too.  “Can’t we just have salmon the way you used to make it?” he asks.

This brings me to back to the wisdom granted in the hallway between the bedroom and the table:  I ask for help.  We brainstorm menus and get enough down for about 3 weeks.  Hallelujah!  That’s the hardest part of cooking!

idontlikeitI’m so, so glad I didn’t pretend their response didn’t bother me.  What would my kids have learned from that?  Not that I was thinking, “How can I model emotional honesty and healthy conflict resolution?” when I was walking away from the table, but hey – I’ll take them learning an alternative to unnecessary martyrdom any way I can get it.

Is there something that you chose to deal with head-on instead of pouting about it? Please share!

possibly too much pre-coffee irony

A few of you may have noticed that button over to the left that says something about mornings.  You may have groaned at the sight of it just because of the ‘m’ word, but it’s a heart warmer for me!

Columbia River Gorge at Sunrise, From an Elevation of About 7,000 Feet 05/1973

Here is an excerpt from an email that I sent to some other women who are taking the Hello Mornings Challenge.

#myHMCstory

I began this challenge back in January, when groups were assigned (randomly, I guess?) and I hadn’t met any of the participants.  The challenge started about a week before I went back to work after having taken a semester off.  A few weeks after that, I began experiencing odd medical symptoms that have had me back and forth to doctors all year long.  Weird symptoms, a stressful teaching environment, an infant who wasn’t sleeping well… It sort of seemed impossible, but it wasn’t!

Because of the Winter session, my heart is believing more and more that early morning time with the Lord is crucial Twenty more minutes of sleep isn’t going to make a difference in my symptoms, but twenty minutes of time with the Lord will make a difference in how focused and loving I am today.  And you know what else?  One of the people I have leaned on the most through these tests and doctor visits is a woman with a similar story that I met through #HMC11.  Think that was a coincidence for us to be put in the same group?  I don’t!

I sent that 2 days ago.  Then this morning, my youngest woke up crying 20 minutes before my alarm went off.  And I was so focused and loving irritated.  The irony is not lost on me.

Really, I was irritated because I knew he wasn’t going back to sleep easily (or maybe at all) and I just wanted the silent morning all to myself.  I’m selfish.  And that is exactly why I need the Hello Mornings Challenge.  I need some accountability – via social media – from other women who have the same thing in mind:  getting up earlier than the rest of the family so I can spend time with God (and maybe even exercise and plan ahead for the day!)  I’m a selfish woman who will become less selfish if she gets that all-to-herself time with God.  (Again, ironic?)

Taking on my days this way has impacted me so much that I decided to be an Accountability Captain this go round!  Being a leader makes me step up my game, so here’s to more consistency!

I’m linking up at Inspired to Action today and Kat (our fearless pre-dawn leader) asked if we have any tips.  I do.

Use a plastic baby utensil to stir your coffee, and you’ll never hate your silverware for being too loud.

i’m teaching for the money

I’ve been dragging my feet on this whole “next year” thing.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given some ridiculously vague answer to some person who I know well or don’t know well about what I may be doing with my time when the school year starts… or may not be.  You know.I snickered when I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page tonight.  We don’t even have to have that discussion today, do we? Fine. Short version. Most of us (except that handful of disheartening folks who need to find a different profession) don’t do it solely for the money, because the pay doesn’t come close to the value of the work when it’s done with passion. Good.  Glad you agree. And guess what?  If I go back to teaching this Fall, I’ll be doing it for the money. Ha!

Here’s my thought process this far:

1)  If I had no children of my own, I would go full-time, full strength back into teaching at the same school I’ve been at for the last few months.  After a semester of earning my stripes, I think I make a pretty decent maestro for those precious students.  My little ensemble would be putting on the Best Stinkin’ Musical Ever.  We’d be so good, Bev Perdue would have us performing to open the next session of the NC Legislature, and we’d make all the representatives cry and stand in line to hug us.  I’m feeling pretty good about us, me an’ them kids together.

2)  If we can squeeze it out financially, I would stay home full-time, and the Lutz kids would have SuperMom [trumpet fanfare!!!] to grow them into the best little Lutzes the world ever saw.  Gabby would have lunches packed with funny notes tucked inside them, Ben’s preschool teacher would never have to send another “ahem, your tuition is late again” note, and I’m certain Nate would be reading The Hardy Boys before he turns 2.  The boys would accompany me to sing at the assisted living home on Thursday mornings, and every neighbor of ours would know us as “that family that brings the awesome desserts” because I’d finally learn to bake while the kids tell me all about their day over a tall glass of milk.  I’m feeling pretty good about us, me an’ these babies together.

Time is so precious.

It’s easy to imagine that if I wasn’t dividing my time, I’d be so much better at the one thing on my proverbial plate.  However, I waste a lot of time as it is.  How much better a mom and teacher might I be if I was a little more organized, a little more focused, feeling a little better a little more often, a little… Yeah, that’s a quick way to beat myself up. No good.  Even if I tried to pour every bit of myself toward a single worthy goal, I’d still never achieve those pretty pictures I painted of perfection.  The fact is, we aren’t robots.  We aren’t designed to run at 100% efficiency, or with unlimited energy resources.

It’s not hard for me to know what I’d choose to do if money weren’t an issue.  I do have three very young children.  I’d go on most of the field trips with Gabby, and we would eat out waaaaay less because I’d be cooking gourmet meals to go along with our homemade pies.  I’d be more available for all the people who share the same address as me.

So in that sense, I do teach for the money.  If I teach during this season of my kids’ lives, it’s because I have to. But shame on me if I ever let my students – or my children – feel that I don’t want to be there with them.  In either case, that would be untrue.

What would you do if money weren’t an issue?

first guest post

Well, y’all…

Who has a blog full of 5 whole posts (just five, that’s right) and takes up a friend’s offer to guest post on her blog?  Um, that’d be this lady right here.

While I’ve been avoiding writing while struggling with the purpose of me blogging, I thought I’d author words for someone else’s blog.  Makes total sense.

I’ve known Cintia since 2000, when we were members of a praise and worship team.  We shared a bathroom for a Summer, and she gave me a pedicure.  I wonder how many times she shook her head at my ridiculous sleeping schedule.  It’s funny how Twitter can reconnect a friendship even after a decade of not seeing someone face-to-face.

Drew Barrymore 2 by David ShankboneCintia just gave birth to her third child a few days ago, and she often blogs about motherhood, so I thought I’d share about how Drew Barrymore made me have a nervous breakdown.  Makes total sense.

Join me at simplycintia.com, won’t ya?