Category Archives: home-making

Nothing Left to Give

Sliver by sliver they carve off a piece of me.

From my heart. And my time. And my energy.

It’s an all you can TAKE buffet.

They need cleaning and feeding and calming and leading.

They need talks and rides and hugs and hi-fives.

He needs reassurance and affection, and he deserves perfection.

I should meditate and pray and examine all my ways.

But there is scrubbing and mopping, with no sign of stopping.

Work needs focus and insight, to get it done right.

I want to keep in touch, but it’s already too much.

There’s only so much to go around,

and I’m done.

April 017

Nothing left to give.

I distract myself with things that require nothing,

Silly books and tv and internet and food.

But they are empty and give nothing back.

I’m as depleted as ever.

Nothing left to give.

Then I notice, the people and tasks that take so much,

give so much back as well.

If I take the time to receive it.

If I slow down long enough to appreciate.

Just a little space to notice, to accept,

and I’m renewed!

A sloppy kiss, a snuggle in my arms, filling my heart with their sticky charms.

Without being asked they lend a hand, turning out better than hoped or planned.

A willing partner, a listening ear, a hand in mine and I’ve nothing to fear.

A still, small voice that whispers “peace”, not one more person I have to please.

A place to hide, my own retreat, messy but mine, and that can’t be beat.

Knowing and learning, measured success, giving purpose, letting me be my best.

Family who walk beside me, even far away. Friends to cry with and laugh and play.

There’s more than just me to go around,

and we are strong.

photo project 001

I’ve been given so much.

They aren’t my burden, they’re my blessing.

So here’s me, tired, but so grateful for my babies, and my big kids and my partner in crime.

For my faith, my home, my calling, my family and my friends.

It’s not an easy life, but it is a good one.

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When Life Goes into Overload

They call me the “One Trip Wonder.” A shopping bag hanging off of each finger and one wedged beneath my chin. Wrangling uncooperative bags with my hands while body checking the trunk closed. Beckham’s got nothing on me, as I dribble the extra-large package of (extra-large) pull-ups up the driveway with my feet. I bellow through the front door from someone to open up and give me a hand. Not to brag, but opera singers wish they had my lung capacity.

An overflowing cart of groceries carried into the house in ONE LOAD. That’s a crucial 47 seconds in valuable time saved! The crowd goes wild with applause! They’re amazed. They’re impressed. They wish they could be like me.

groceriesThey’re the imaginary audience in my head.

The actual, real people in my life just shrug and ask if I remembered to get crunchy peanut butter this time. They sigh weary sighs when asked to carry the food into the kitchen. They gripe about the broken egg and the misshapen bread.

Nobody appreciates my genius.

I’m Queen of the Grocery Overload!

Unfortunately, I’m not quite as competent when it comes to handling an overloaded schedule. Every once in a while we find ourselves facing a week of extras. Extra challenges. Extra events. Extra work.

Common sense dictates that this is the time to buckle down and plow through.

Deer-in-the-headlights, Overwhelmed, Procastinating Perfectionist suggests curling up into a fetal ball and crying like a baby.

Guess which one I usually choose?

February has had a few days of overload (much like January, and December of course, oh and the whole year before that). We truck along quite happily until a few extras get thrown into the mix. And then it seems like too much. Of course, the worst part isn’t the actual workload. Or the unsettled children. Or the break in routine.

The worst part is the anticipation of busyness beforehand.

When push comes to shove, I take busy and make it my b…. aby. But the pre-show isn’t pretty. Instead of getting MORE done, because life is about to ramp up, I seem to accomplish less than ever. I moan and complain and sit around feeling overwhelmed.

But this year I have a secret weapon.

This year, I’m not responsible for tomorrow or all week long or the rest of the year or however many days I have left on God’s green earth. This year, I’m responsible for TODAY. And the rest I’m leaving in God’s hands.

The days I remember this, it makes all the difference.

So here’s me, and I’ve had a few Overwhelmed Fetal Ball episodes, but remembering my One Word has helped. And this week I am facing a midterm, a school project, a sick child, a visit from in-laws, a family outing, a trip to the States, several meetings, Glen working evenings, baking 6 dozen cupcakes and pulling off a large Gotcha party for our boy and 50+ of our closest friends… but I’m feeling pretty cool, because I can handle TODAY and TODAY alone.

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Unstoppable?

I’m awfully fond of breathing.

Usually my lungs and I are on the same page about this one, but today we are at odds. My “lingering cough” has taken a turn for the worse. When the hacking gets so bad I’m sleeping on the couch each night and I have to hang up the phone mid-conversation because I’m unable to get a word out, even I have to admit it’s more than “just a cold.”

There’s never much time for Mom to see the doctor. It falls down the list along with “pull out the refrigerator and dust the coils” and “back up computer files.” Something that really does need doing, but isn’t causing immediate problems and can just as easily be done another day. Or the one after that. Or never.

Except when it starts causing immediate problems. The kind where I have to cancel plans.

Like taking the ferry to Vancouver Island last weekend to hang out with my cousin (and longtime bff), her 5 kids and 11 newborn piglets. I was SO excited to show off my new son and enjoy a day of big-city-cousins-run-wild-on-the-farm.

Or our plans today to meet the daughter our dear friends just brought home from the Philippines. We’ve been praying for her and oohing over pictures for months. I couldn’t wait to finally meet her and have a long been-there-done-that “adopting a toddler” discussion.

Or the playdate I JUST set up yesterday with the little boy we’ve chosen to be our son’s new best friend. They haven’t met, but he’s so cute and we love his parents and it’s just meant to be. I had decided I would definitely feel better by Friday, so why not?

This is a problem for me. I hate cancelling. I hate it.

Not only do I miss out on the activity, but I have to rearrange my plans and change my expectations. I hate that too. But the worst part is: I have to admit my weakness.

I can’t do it. I can’t blame the kids or the weather or the economy or the politicians or even my husband for being unreasonable (as he is wont to do when I overcommit us). I have limitations and I’ve just run smack dab into them.

I HAVE to get better at noticing those ahead of time. Apparently acute bronchitis doesn’t need to get this bad. If only I would slow down and rest. You know, BEFORE coughing up green and sticky all the way to the walk-in clinic. I’ve had pneumonia more than once and that’s where I’m headed if I don’t slow down.

There is a time for pushing through and getting things done. There is a time for rest.

There is a time for making plans. There is a time for cancelling and rescheduling and just letting things go.

There is a time for doing, making, cleaning, teaching, writing, talking, fixing, helping… There is a time for breathing.

So here’s me, *hack, hack, hack* and it’s time to rest, even if it kills me. Because in the long run, it’ll kill me not to.


Context is Everything

This year my husband bought me an exercise machine for my birthday.

I wonder if the Craigslist sellers thought he was an enormous douche. I probably would’ve. What kind of birthday present is that for your wife? What message does it send?

Likewise, when he bought me a steam mop for Christmas.

He didn’t buy them because I’m fat and the house is dirty (insert self-deprecating remark about how this is nevertheless true, which he will edit out while getting after me for writing something absurd).

This is why it is okay. Because he’s my biggest fan, whether I deserve it or not. Because he isn’t trying to change me or improve me. He’s only trying to make me happy – by giving me what I want.

Believe it or not, I wanted both the elliptical and mop very badly. I researched them. I talked about them. I fantasized about all the ways they would make my life better: once I had them, an immaculate house and instant skinniness would no doubt ensue. I wondered out loud when we might be able to afford them.

Context is everything.

At the right moment, with the right intentions, it is a win. Encouraging. And helpful. And thoughtful.

But it could so easily go wrong. Marriage is just as much about tact and and understanding and supportiveness as it is about honesty and pushing each other to be better.

The best part isn’t a kitchen floor you could eat off of (and the littles often do). Or the 268 calories I burned while watching YouTube the other day (ameliorating my Halloween candy angst for about 10 minutes). It’s the fact that, occasionally, he listens when I talk.

So here’s me, not necessarily WANTING to work out or do housework, but since I need to, I might as well do it in style!


From Precipice to Poopy Diapers

A life hangs in the balance. Literally.

Stretched to the limit atop a precipice, men form a human chain, intent on saving the one who has fallen over the edge. Their strength begins to wane. They are slipping closer and closer to gruesome death. Dangling over the edge, the last man realizes what is at stake. With a sigh of resignation and a look of absolution, he lets go; plunging to his death, rather than risk the lives of his comrades.

“NOOOOOO!” Cut to primal scream of the main character.

I can think of half a dozen movies with this scene. Change a few details, rearrange the sequence, tweak the wardrobe… it’s a classic bit.

Sometimes it’s a bullet. Sometimes it’s a bomb. Sometimes it’s a grizzly bear. Sometimes it’s a burning building.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13)

We replay it in the media over and over again, because it resonates. These hero stories appeal to us. Like Christ, who sacrificed himself to save us all. We want to believe that sacrifice like this happens. We want to believe that WE would do the same thing.

When push comes to shove comes to the edge of a precipice… I like to believe I would. Especially for my family or my friends, but even for a stranger. In my daydreams, these Messiah moments are bold and dramatic, with a stirring soundtrack playing in the background.

But it’s not a likely scenario. The closest I’ve ever come is the time I fell down the stairs with baby in arms and turned to take the brunt of it on my back while holding her out of harm’s way. That was maternal instinct, and over in a split second.

The really great love, the kind our world needs more of, is not as glamorous and sexy as those cinematic scenes. It is giving up myself to help someone else in a thousand small, everyday ways. It doesn’t feel heroic, but it is.

Not running into a burning building, but listening to that elderly relative tell the same story for the third time in one phone call.

Not fighting off a rabid grizzly, but scrubbing the bathroom, doing the laundry and making dinner.

Not throwing my body on a grenade, but mopping up vomit, changing the sheets and putting on a sympathetic face.

Not throwing myself in front of a bullet, but calmly handling one more screaming tantrum, knock-em-down-drag-em-out fight or weepy confession.

Not sacrificing my life, but sacrificing my time, my energy, my comfort, my sleep, and maybe even my chocolate (gasp!).

In some ways, it’s a lot harder than the big dramatic exploits. I’m pretty sure I could make the impressive gesture, if given the opportunity. But the daily grind kind of sacrifice… mine is not an Oscar worthy performance EVERY time.

I whine. I get frustrated. I am consumed by my own performance. I overlook all the heroes around me. I resent.

But sometimes I love. Sacrificially. Heroically. Not anything they’ll make a movie about. Not anything people will notice or applaud or hand out awards for. But that’s kind of the point of sacrificial love, isn’t it?

Scroll down to the comments section. How many acts of sacrificial love, that will never make a movie trailer, can we think of?

So here’s me, wondering if diaper changes would feel more heroic with the right soundtrack in the background. Next time I’ll play this song:


The Great Root Beer Debacle

I realize that this blog has gotten pretty schmaltzy lately. All misty-eyed posts about my sweet, soon-to-be baby boy and the miracle of adoption… That’s bound to continue, so brace yourself. But today I will share a not-so-sentimental moment in my day.

It was supposed to be a special treat. C picked out pop for our Mother’s Day picnic: a 12 pack of Vanilla Root Beer Float. Yes, it was every bit as sweet and disgusting as you are imagining, and I LIKE root beer. But the kids were thrilled. And halfway to sugar coma by the end of a can. And prepared to crown Dad the shopping King of the Universe.

The real problem was finding a place to keep the rest of the case. We never seem to have quite enough shelf space in the kitchen. As I played pantry jenga to find a spot, disaster struck!

I lifted the box above my head and started pushing it onto the top shelf, when the box broke. One by one the cans fell down, hit me in the head (ouch) and hurtled to the ground. As they hit the floor, several burst open, skittering around the entire room, spraying root beer everywhere. All over the floor, the cupboards, the walls, the ceiling, and yes, me!

My children have never moved up the stairs so quickly. Apparently “Girls, dinner’s ready!” does not have the same draw as “Aaaaaaahhhhhhh! Noooooooooooooo!”

As I stood there covered in a sticky film, looking at my white floors and cupboards, now speckled biege, with a small sea of soda in the corner, I had two choices: laugh or cry.

I did both.

My children simply laughed until they cried. In the end, I’m pretty sure they cried only because all but one of the cans of root beer were wasted.

Perhaps this is housekeeping karma coming to collect. I don’t wash my floors nearly often enough. I had to mop the kitchen three times to eliminate the tackiness (in retrospect, the steam mop was a bad idea – it just evenly distributed the sticky).

At this point, I generally insert a “moral of the story” here. Something profound and spiritually meaningful. Today, I’ve got nothing.

Into every life, a little root beer must fall.

So here’s me, realizing that root beer isn’t as great for the skin as you might think. I now have a rash on my legs. I’m itchy, I’m tired and my kitchen is STILL sticky. But it’s a good story, and I’m always in the market for one of those.

Do you have a good story of things gone terribly wrong? I’m eager to share the misery…


How Do You Find The Time?

It’s a question I’ve asked many times. I ask people who garden, people who decorate their homes, people who floss… How do you find the time?

It’s also the most frequent question I get about blogging. How do you find the time? The answer is simple.

You don’t.

Time does not spontaneously appear when you say the magic words. (Unless they happen to be “we-don’t-really-need-TSN-in-our-house”, because I’m sure my husband’s free time would grow exponentially at that point.)

Time is a limited resource, and often one that feels out of our control. I’ve always admired those buttoned up, disciplined souls who manage their time with military precision. I’m an orderly person, but trying to emulate them leaves me exhausted, cranky and desperately unhappy. Usually I find myself somewhere in the middle – enough routine to keep life moving, but margins for the unexpected (and the occasional hour of blissful uselessness).

Whether you wing it from one moment to the next, or plan your day down to the minute, we are all subject to the same limitations.

86,400 seconds

1,440 minutes

24 hours

Each day, everyday, it’s all we’ve got.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. In this day and age, we can do almost anything, but we can’t do everything!

When I choose to make something a priority, then I am going to have to sacrifice somewhere else. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with this necessity. No one has it all together – even if they look the part. Look at Martha Stewart. She has a large, talented staff and a bazillion dollars to help her get things done. But even she drops the occasional ball along the way. Her foray into white collar crime wasn’t terribly successful.

This is why my backyard looks like the set of Jurrasic Park. Who decided grass was the superior weed anyway? Dandelions are cheerful and prolific, plus my kids love them. This is also why I have boxes of pictures in the garage, not from our most recent move, but from the one before that nine years ago. I’m honestly working on the flossing thing. My brother-in-law is training to be a dentist and I don’t want him to know that I’ve had five cavities in the last year. Shhhhhh.

You don’t find time for the things that matter to you, you make it. In my busy life stage, this tends to be in bite-sized pieces scattered throughout the day. We pray in the van on the way to school. While driving, I’ve also found time to discuss important issues with my kids – like sex, work ethic, the value of money and whether American Idol is better with or without Simon Cowell. I talk on the phone while I fold laundry. I write my blog posts anytime, anywhere… there are notebooks all over my house, in my purse, in the car. I have written entire posts in blue crayon, because that was all I had at the time.

This is my very first blog post.
Written in my daughter's My Little Pony colouring book.

Right now:

Mount Clean Laundry is mocking me from atop my bed.

Life-Span in Human Development is taunting me from the kitchen table.

I can hear echoes of crucial sibling posturing in the hallway.

So here’s me, quite happily blogging away. THIS is how I find the time.

How do you find the time to do what matters to you? What are you willing to sacrifice?


10 Ways to Celebrate Leap Day

Sometimes it’s more of a curse than a blessing to have a child with a long memory. My, now 11 year old daughter clearly remembers celebrating Leap Day last time, when she was 7. Those were my homeschooling days when I spent a lot more time coming up with fun and “educational” things to do everyday.

Today, I have a sick child at home, 2 papers due for school (now that I’M the student) and a backlog of household chores that make me want to cry. But I’ve decided that they will still be there tomorrow.

February 29th only comes around once every 4 years. It hardly ever happens. I’m always complaining that I need more time, and here I have a whole extra day! Of course, it usually gets eaten up with the ordinary hustle and bustle. Just one more day in the rat race. What a shame! What a waste!

Why not take advantage of this bonus day to do something special?

Or, if you can’t think of something special, here are 10 silly ideas the girls and I came up with to celebrate Leap Day:

1. Play Leap Frog. The girls remember doing this last Leap Year with our friend Shannon, who was quite pregnant at the time. They were impressed!

2. Sing and Dance to “Jumping Songs”. If you have children, you can let them join in too!

    • 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
    • If You’re Happy and You Know it Leap Around
    • Jump Your Jigglies Out
    • Jump for my Love – Pointer Sisters
    • Jump Jump – Kriss Kross (remember them!)

3. Declare this to be EXTRA day – and give everyone extra. But only the good things: extra hugs, extra game, extra ice cream, extra Wii time…

4. Hide frog gummies all over the house. These are always fun, because you find candy in weird places for months to come.

5. Buy a box of EXTRA gum and hand it out to everyone you know.

6. Serve food that LEAPS: Kangaroo Steak, Bunny Tail and Jumping Beans for dinner. I suggest steak, mashed potatoes and green beans, but you can be as realistic as you like.

7. Watch Annie and try to work “Leaping Lizards” into every conversation.

8. Make a frog cake, then sing “Happy Leap Day to you!” Or you could be like me and buy an ice cream cake instead!

9. Write letters to yourself for next Leap Day, then put them in a time capsule to be opened in 2016. Futureme.org allows you  to e-mail letters and photos to yourself, and will send it to you at some future date. You can even include pictures. This is so much easier than trying to keep track of it myself!

You can even get an app for your iPhone or iPad – only $0.99!

10. Watch Larry’s Leap Year Lesson. I must admit that I floundered when they asked me why we have leap year, something to do with the earth’s rotation and how we calculate the calendar… Larry the Cucumber cleared it right up for me.

 I’m always looking for more ways to build memories and embarass my children. How do you celebrate Leap Year?

So here’s me, celebrating my made up holiday, because that’s how I want to use my extra time. I wonder what my kids will remember 4 years from now.


Christmas Countdown: Fair Trade Style

We are a family that counts down. We start young with “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, We’re Going To The Moon,” and it never stops. Ask my husband, at any given moment, how many days until a long weekend, our next family holiday or the massage his doting wife promised him, and he can tell you accurately without a moment’s hesitation. One wonders what he might be capable of if so much valuable brain power wasn’t constantly engaged in keeping track of the minutes and hours… but I digress.

So, advent calanders, ya – we’re all over that. We hang a tiny little ornament on the quilted tree Oma made each night. The girls faithfully cross the days off their calanders. And we fight about which daily christmas devotionals we are going to use for the month. Right now it’s a throwdown between the cheesy, but beloved “Adornaments” and “What God Wants for Christmas”.

But the MOST crucial countdown of all is the cheap cardboard chocolate calander we get each year. I’ve been informed by experts in the field (a 9-year-old girl and her Dad) that it is not really Christmas without it.

One of the very first wails of protest when Mom’s fair trade crusade began was about this very important issue.

I was tickled to learn that there are, in fact, fair trade chocolate advent calanders to be had (Divine). Not only that, but these contain ACTUAL chocolate to pop out each day. As opposed to the brown coloured, chocolate scented ear wax we are used to. Not a bad option.

But as committed as I am to my family’s happiness and the end of child slavery, there is another virtue very near and dear to my heart.

I am cheap.

At $8-12 each, these are not unreasonably priced. BUT when each member of the family (including the one with facial hair) must have their own, that’s 8…16…24… way-too-expensive-for-mom-to-swallow Dollars.

This is not a blog where you will learn how to turn a shoebox and 4 pennies into a fully functioning shoe rack. I cannot tell you how to create the perfect turkey dinner for under $10 – I have never even roasted a turkey at all. But this is one crafty/home project that fits my profile: simple, fast and foolproof. So here it goes:

I bought this advent cupboard on impulse (it was on sale and I’m a sucker for deals I don’t really need). But a stack of envelopes would work just as well. There are SO many amazing advent projects that it is overwhelming. I say, keep it simple. Who need another reason to Grinch out this Christmas.

In each “day” I put:

  • a mini muffin cup
  • filled with 5 Cadbury’s FAIR TRADE chocolate buttons (1 per person)
  • an advent verse and/or prayer (free printables)
  • a fun family activity, outing or service project for that day (written on a strip of leftover wrapping paper)
Glen and I had fun brainstorming simple things to do as a family to honour Jesus and teach generosity, without driving us to drink (well, anymore than usual).
  1. Call GiGi (great grandma) and sing her a Christmas song.
  2. Christmas party tonight – have fun!
  3. Decorate the Christmas tree.
  4. Bake Gingerbread Men with Mom.
  5. Collect as much change as you can find around the house to give to the Salvation Army Santa at the store (winner gets hot chocolate to share with everyone).
  6. Drive to Candy Cane Lane to look at the Christmas lights.
  7. Go to the store and buy food for the Food Bank.
  8. There are 12 cherry Candy Canes hidden throughout the house. Ready, set, go!
  9. Draw a picture/write a letter to our sponsored children (World Vision and Compassion).
  10. Create an e-vite and invite friends to our New Year’s Eve party.
  11. Make Christmas crafts with Aunt Judy!
  12. Everyone give a foot rub to someone else tonight.
  13. Christmas Shopping date with Dad.
  14. Paint your own pottery at the ceramics store – make a special gift for someone you don’t normally exchange gifts with.
  15. Celebrate Grinch Night – everyone wear green, eat all green food and watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Invite the neighbours to join us!
  16. Pick a project from the World Vision Catalogue to donate your charity money to (our kids save some of their allowance each week to give).
  17. Plan games and food for our New Year’s Eve party.
  18. Create a “Welcome” banner for all the family that are coming to stay with us – especially your brand new cousin.
  19. Pack for our trip – we are driving to the timeshare today. Pick your favourite carol to sing in the car (even Dad will join in) (Dad’s Note: he will??? Doesn’t sound like something he’d do.).
  20. Movie night with the Aunties – wear pajamas, eat cararmel corn and watch Sound of Music.
  21. Choose Christmas e-cards to send to Grandma Lindsay every day until Christmas.
  22. Play Christmas song charades.
  23. Chowder Party at Oma and Opas.
  24. Build a Gingerbread house with Uncle Miguel
  25. CHRISTMAS!

Advent Box – $20.00

Muffin Cups – $1.00

Cadbury’s Buttons (2 packages) – $8

This is the part where I should say “Advent family fun….ah…priceless!”

But it was actually $29.00 plus tax, which is a pretty good deal in my book and can be used for years to come.

So here’s me, 18 days until I get to snuggle my brand new nephew for the first time, 32 days until I pack it all back in rubbermaid containers and 366 days until we start it all over again.


Middle of the Road

20111102-141639.jpgIt had such a promising start. For the first time in… let’s be honest, ever… I sent my daughter to school with a thermos full of delicious, homemade vegetable soup. Homemade – by me, and not just the kind where you open a packet and add a few things to feel like you’re somehow contributing to the process. I cut all these vegetables with my own two hands. Eat your heart out Betty Crocker!

I’m afraid the day didn’t live up to its potential. According to my nine-year-old, it will forever be remembered as one of the worst days in the entire history of bad days. It wasn’t the math quiz or even the science test she forgot to study for. It wasn’t post-Halloween letdown or friend drama. It was the soup.

It’s not what you are thinking, really! I know I have repeatedly decried my ability as a cook, but this is ridiculously yummy soup. I’m eating some right now.

The problem was a SLIGHTLY loose lid on the thermos. Just loose enough to let the liquid seep out and pool in her bag, soaking books, gym strip and a collection of Very Important Things that she apparently carts back and forth to school each day: a mirror, a pencil sharpener shaped as a bear, a clip from the chip bag, an old paintset, an umbrella, a special bag of kleenex, a single glove and several broken pieces of pencil lead (which she diligently collects and counts; she is now up to 2,382). At this point my little hoarder-in-training began to notice a certain stickiness down her back and legs. When she opened her backpack – soup everywhere.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, gym class that day consisted of a run around the field. Wearing her everyday shoes instead of runners, she slipped and ended up face down in the mud. So much for that new hoodie. I’m not quite sure why she chose not to call home for a change of clothes (and some more soup), but I’m proud that she tried to make the best of it.

Some kids are quite resilient to this sort of thing; it just isn’t that big a deal. But my little C is not one of those types of people. Spending an entire day sticky, muddy and smelling like vegetable soup was quite the dark night (day) of the soul for her. And it was entirely my fault… mea culpa, mea culpa.

And I know just why I did it. You see, last year I had a bit of thermos problem. Since my girls don’t really like sandwiches, we tend to use them a lot, and I’ve always been kind of paranoid about potential spillage. So I put those lids on with extreme prejudice. Unfortunately, the whole point of the thermos is that it can also be opened – by tiny, little hungry hands. More often than not, they would have to get a class moniter or teacher, and occasionally even trot down to the office to find someone to open it. As if that isn’t embarassing enough, there were times NO ONE could open it. By the third time one brought home an unopened, uneaten thermos of lunch, I knew I had to change my ways.

So this year I bought new thermos’ and vowed to use a light touch. I wish I could say the soup incident was the first of its kind. This year my kids are bringing home soggy lunchbags and damp backpacks. In trying to fix the problem, I over-corrected.

Last month we spent a weekend in the mountains with my in-laws. The timeshare had a games room in the basement; all kinds of arcade games, free and unlimited. I became obsessed with “Long Haul Trucker”. I can’t blame the kids either, since I snuck down there without them one night in my pajamas.

I am bad at it – really, truly terrible. By the end of the weekend, I had made it to the first checkpoint only once. I would watch my brother-in-law calmly drive down the middle of the road and blow past checkpoint after checkpoint. When my turn came, I couldn’t seem to maintain balance. As I drifted too far on one side of the road, I would swerve to the other and before I knew it I was all over the road – veering first one way and then the next. Once again, I seem to constantly over-correct.

I do this in life too. When faced with a problem I often react by veering to the extreme. Sometimes it is a reaction to my upbringing. My parents are very easy-going and take life as it comes, but I feel the need to schedule and plan everything I possibly can (and some things I can’t). Other times I am trying to replace a bad habit with it’s polar opposite. This is why, all too often, my diet attempts end in a sugary blaze of shame, then back to a week of rice cakes and cabbage soup, and so on and so on.

Take a deep breath. Release that white-knuckled grip on the wheel (or thermos). And remember that most of the time, the best path to where I’m going is the middle of the road.

So here’s me, packing sandwiches from now on.

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