Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just for the Record...

When you ask my opinion, be ready for my opinion.

Or, as my friend quite eloquently put it the other day: If you don't want the truth, don't ask me. If you want something sugarcoated, go eat a donut.

'Cause here is what you are going to get:
1) an opinion shaped by tons of down-in-the-dirt, real-life, been-there-done-that-regretted-it-wish-I-could-take-it-back experience.

2) an opinion shaped by my glorious Lord's WORD*. My opinion may not be in vogue, may run contrary to "popular" opinion, may call into question your own actions or the actions of those you love, but I'll gladly sit down with you and my Bible and we can talk through WHY I believe what GOD tells me is the TRUTH.

3) an opinion that is MINE. Like it or lump it.

But, if you are asking my opinion to use it to hurt someone else with my words, I am going to end our conversation immediately. I don't roll that way and I don't respect people who do.

Sometimes, in this world, we have to wake up, put on our big girl panties, and figure out what WE BELIEVE. All by ourselves.

Yet, if you still think I'm worthy** of asking an opinion of, fine. I'll gladly help you sort through life. But remember: I'm the queen of opinions, maker of NONE of the rules, and one of the biggest sinners you'll ever meet.

And, yet, I am forgiven. Multiple times a day. Sometimes multiple times an hour. Because I ASK. It's that simple.

And, as most of us who've made mistakes, lived to talk about them, and lived to ask forgiveness know, there is nothing (NOTHING) worse than someone who tries to judge our experience without the same experience under their belt.

Yet, there is room in this world for knowing the truth, being grateful we didn't have to go through the horrible experiences others did, RESERVING judgement and extending GRACE***.

So, when you ask my opinion, I will back it up, based on my experience and the Bible, to the best of my ability, IF you won't blatantly try to throw me under the bus for your own purposes and in an attempt to put a wedge between me and someone else or try to paint me into a corner because you think you can.

Because you know what? Baby don't like to be put in the corner****.

And she won't go there.


*If you want a scapegoat when you get mad because my opinion rocks your boat, you get to talk to the Big Guy upstairs.

**Whatever. I'm not.

***And, FYI: just because people express "unpopular" faith-based opinions doesn't mean they are judgemental. It means they have an opinion based on history, that has proven itself.

****A blatant attempt to add levity to this post by referencing "Dirty Dancing". Are those crickets I hear in the background?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Is That Calendar RIGHT?

I had to double check to be sure it wasn't Friday the 13th because, before 7a.m., the following occurred:

1. The Babe discovered he wet the bed. No big until he went to finish the pee-pee job in the bathroom, while holding his wet clothes, and dropped his Spiderman undies and matching pants in the toilet.

There just ain't enough antibacterial goo in the world.....

2. Mike decided to give the dogs some love and discovered fleas.

Two baths later they were running around like banshees on crack....

3. Hooman's fish, Mr. Guppy, decided to go to the big fish tank in the sky. As if that wasn't bad enough, both of the other boy's fish tanks needed to be cleaned, so they were in full view of the Hooster for the rest of the morning.

I think someone is going to the fish store this morning....

On a positive note, we now have the Jesus Mii on the Wii. The jury is still out on whether our house will be struck by lightning for creating this.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Being Eaten Alive

Editor's note: I'm talking to myself here, too, lest you think I'm preaching without realizing this applies to me, too.

Have you ever noticed, when you are REALLY angry with someone, that when you finally come clean with them, whether it be minutes, hours, days or years later, that the other person often

1) had no idea you were mad/had no idea why you were mad
2) wasn't even aware that you were giving them the cold shoulder
3) didn't lose any sleep over what you considered grudge worthy*

Doesn't that just burn your butt? I know it does mine.

But it also is a gentle reminder that, unless you are willing to communicate with people and be honest, people can't read your mind.

Honestly, you wouldn't want them all up in your cranium most of the time, anyway**. But, that's the only way some people could honestly know what's bugging you about them and your oh-so-wrong behavior.

And, unless you are willing to go all John Travolta and live in a bubble for most of your life, you are going to run across people who are going to say or do things that aren't going to sit well with you. And, because you are closest to them, they are likely going to be close friends and family.

In my experience, most people aren't out to intentionally harm anyone. They don't wake up thinking of insults or making up gossip about others or trying to figure out how to steal someone else's spouse. In fact, most of the time when people say or do something that you consider an offense, they didn't even know they were doing anything wrong. But, we are all human and we all make mistakes. And, sometimes, those mistakes are going to get under your skin.

That's where forgiveness comes in. In order to get to the point where you can be honest with someone and let them know you were hurt, first you have to have some vague idea that you are willing to forgive them. Then, you can approach them knowing that, even if they aren't one bit apologetic, you've done your part to move past the breach.

Life is complicated. So are people. We deal with past hurts, failures, and experiences every day. And sometimes we are let down by those we love.

But, it is incumbent on us to figure out how to live in this world, trust others (even if they hurt us), and forgive.

If we refuse to do this, we might as well go ahead and order that bubble.

*And over which you had lost tons of sleep and spent so much time worrying that you start dreaming about said incident. ARGH.

**Earlier today, had you been in my mind around 5:30pm, you would have experienced the following (in technicolor): "I'm tired. Why isn't there a "instant dinner" button in my kitchen, attached to the microwave? That reminds me of Jane Jetson. She had one of those cool buttons AND perfect hair AND a cute, hour glass figure, even after giving birth to two kids eons apart! I think I just developed a minor hatred toward that woman. Why isn't some scientist on this button thing? Like now. (minor time gap) I'm soooo tired."

A Joke for the Men (and the Women Who Love Them)*

During a commercial airline flight an Air Force Pilot was seated next to a young mother with a babe in arms. When the baby began crying during the descent for landing, the mother began nursing the infant as discreetly as possible.

The pilot pretended not to notice and, upon disembarking, he gallantly offered his assistance to help with the various baby-related items.

When the young mother expressed her gratitude, the pilot responded, "Gosh, that's a good looking baby..and he sure was hungry!"

Somewhat embarrassed, the mother explained that her pediatrician said that the time spent on the breast would help alleviate the pressure in the baby's ears.

The Air Force Pilot sadly shook his head, and in true pilot fashion exclaimed,
"And all these years, I've been chewing gum.

*Can't claim this as mine but I thought it was too funny not to share.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This Side of Heaven

How many times have you heard people comment that their loved one is watching over them from Heaven?

Like me, probably a bazillion?

So, when we use this phrase, which is generally meant as a measure of comfort, we imply that our loved one (s/he) has the capacity to do this.

Yet, Biblically, I'm struggling to back this up, even though I've heard this same phrase used countless times, as long as I can remember. And, I'm sure, I've used it before, not really putting much brain-power into what I was saying.

I question the statement, based on the following:

Praising God through song? It's in there.
No more weeping? Check.
The end of pain/suffering? You betcha.

I've read that God weeps with us over our Earthly pain. Family that is deceased? As best as I can tell, not so much crying going on. LOTS of God-worship. LOTS of light. LOTS of praise. But, no tears*.

I think the fact that our pain and suffering end when we leave the Earth would imply that we disconnect to a great extent from the suffering of those who are still here. And, if that is the case, how could those in Heaven look down on a broken person they left behind, in the midst of their grief, and not suffer??

For some reason, the thought of Mom "checking in" on me doesn't bring me as much comfort as thinking of God, who created me, showing interest 24/7/365(366)/my lifetime.

And, maybe, that's the point? Once we lose someone we thought we could never get over losing, God plugs that hole. Slowly, maybe. But, if we let Him, He stands in the gap with us.

He, I know for sure, IS watching.

And those times when "coincidentally" the song comes on the radio that reminds me of Mom**? Or when I asked God for a sign Mom was with Him and I felt butterflies (one of the things she loved) "fluttering" all over the inside of my body? That, too, was God. It's almost like He's winking at me, reminding me "HEY! I haven't left. I'm still around. And so is the memory of your Mom. She's safe with me."

I won't know for sure if my theory is correct without more "research". And, even with tons of time to look into this issue, the answer may still be blurry. Try as I might, the Bible isn't clear to me all the time. And, sometimes, I interpret things wrong. Or just don't think they apply because I've never applied them that way before***.

But, I do know that, once I'm home in Heaven, I'll have the answer to the questions I ask.

And for now, for me, that is enough.

*Johnson and Johnson Baby Shampoo is on to sumpin'.

**Driving to the hospital for the "last" time, taking all her clothing, shoes, and jewelry to the church for their women's garage sale, and before Zachary's confirmation. Too much "coincidence" for me.

***Bonus points for proving me wrong, people! Send me your comments.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Little Prayer for All of Us

Lord, protect our children as they return to school. Keep them safe as they are away from our care and help them gain the wisdom you value so much. Provide them with patience, calmness, and a heart for their fellow student.

Protect us as parents, as we trust that our children will develop healthy friendships, receive worthy praise, and grow further toward becoming the men and women you have in mind.

Protect the teachers who are guiding our children. Help them to see the best our kids have to offer, even through the tears, selfishness, and over activity that may beset them on some days.

Protect the administrators, that they would have a good pulse on their schools and know when to make appropriate decisions and changes for the betterment of our children.

Protect our country and our world. Help us to make it the best place possible, a place we can be proud to leave in the hands of the children whom we send to school in the next few days and weeks.

Thank you for being our shield and protector in all times and in all situations.

We love you Lord! Amen.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Bitter and The Sweet

We are T-minus 15 hours and counting to "school year '10-'11" for the two youngest of the Nowell boys.

The are both beyond excited to return to Shelton. The Babe seemed to embrace his entrance into "big school" this summer in a way most kids wouldn't: it was an adventure. So, returning, is simply an extension of his previous journey*.

Hooman is simply thrilled to have the top locker in the third grade classroom on the second floor of the building. Even though his bestest pal isn't in his class this year, one of his previous Kindergarten friends is, so already we have the ball in our court.

I've been to The Container Store and purchased BPA-free plastic containers for all the wonderful lunches I'll be sending.

I am in process of readying clothing.

I will create the "cafeteria-style" menu and devote it to paper after dinner. It will probably create one last, necessary trip to the grocery store.

But, there is still a little hole in my plans for the "best return to school ever": Mom isn't around for me to call after the first day to celebrate how much the kids like their teachers and classrooms and being back at school.

In some way, I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief. We've almost made it through the first summer without Mom. It wasn't without its incredibly painful moments, lessons to be learned, and tears. And, we've hit the milestones of our first fourth of July, my birthday, and our first family trip without her. Grief, if nothing else, is relenting in its calendar-like evil.

But, we march forward into school knowing that a little more pain it is about to be in the history books. Pain that, hopefully, will project us all forward.

Of course, if you caught this earlier, I still have one more Nowell to send to school.

Yes, one more week for Nickels. He drew the luckiest card ever: construction on the fifth/sixth grade classrooms at his new school, Covenant, lingered a tiny bit longer than expected, and, with it, the original start date of Wednesday got moved to the following Monday.

You can imagine my absolute joy at THAT email.

But, I'm trying to look at the positive side: the next task on my list is to paint the laundry room** and I'll have a helper!! Bonus!!

And, I've asked Mike to take a day off so they can spend some quality time together. Given the fact that Mike has traveled about 25 of the last 35 days, I think I might actually get my request.

Maybe that will be the day, the one day all year, I lie in bed, watching TV, eating over-priced chocolates and calling girlfriends whom I haven't spoken to since I had three kids and a husband.

Then again, maybe not.

Except for the part about the chocolates.

*I swear, if his teacher gives him any more compliments, his head will explode off his body. I need to, tactfully, tell her to back the heck off.

**Yes. One more task on the never-ending remodel....

Friday, August 20, 2010

Chips, Anyone?!

I have become increasingly convinced that all children are born with a God-designed, impossible-to-detect, slowly disinegrating, micro-chip-type mechanism inside their bodies that causes them to bicker, hit, scream, cry, and throw fits.

Some unfortunate parents see an early denegration of the chip. If you had a colicky child, experienced the terrible twos or threes, or suffered through early independence when your four or five year old was convinced s/he was going on sixteen, I'm sorry. You got the short end of the stick.

If you had a child who refused to bathe, obey, sleep, nap, or couldn't stop talking, blame the chip. Stand in line with the short end of the stick parents. You can whine together.

But, just when I had given up hope that anything could solve these early chip issues, I noticed that the beginning of summer seemed to heal the chip in my children. And I began to ponder this and realized "I think it might just be the sun."

You see, my children could have been crowned with jeweled headpieces the week or so after school ended and the weather was in the 80s. Nobody was fighting, everyone loved each other, and they could entertain themselves with a piece of string and a rubberband for hours.

Then, we added heat to the equation when the temperature rose into the 90s. And, as July approached, I realized we were in for a long period of chip-issues. Sadly, I was right.

The pool in our backyard? "BOOOORRRRing."
Playing board games? "Huh uh."
Reading? "UM. School's out?" (with a subtle hint of "DUH" on the side)


Hitting our brother(s)? Check.
Screaming about someone touching us? Yup.
Shaking our booty and slapping it, all rap fashion? Covered.

I think, in the presence of heat, the chip starts to fritz and you get all these temporary, odd behaviors. When the day ends and the thermometer has reached a cool 88 degrees and the children get settled in bed*, the chip renews itself and, by morning, is ready for the next day. But, a little worse for the wear due to all the heat**.

By August, the heat and humidity cause the chip to start to accelerate at alarming rates. Even sleep doesn't seem to "cure" the chip of its issues. It's a virtual melt-down.

And then I realized: The whole summer cycle? It's all for Mommy.

(Blog reader commentary: "MOMMY? Have you lost your cotonn-picking mind, woman?")

(Blog writer response: "No. Just go with me for a second.")

Yes. For Mommy.

Because, at the beginning of summer you think: "WOW! I must have been a little pre-menopausal last August! Why would I have wanted these lovely children to go back to school? They are such a JOY to have at home. Maybe I should home-school them next year." In other words, you are delusional.

But, by the end of August, you have regained your clairty and are ready to pinch the heads off your whiney, bored, heat-stressed children.

And there, looming in the distance, is the biggest defender of Motherhood-mental health ever: SCHOOL!!!

That's when chip issues are relegated to after-three-pm hours and you can feel sorry for the teacher and be sure to shower her with fattening treats and yummy-smelling body goods for the trouble you're SURE she is enduring due to chip malfunction in your child.

And, even if you are a little sad to see summer end and to send little Joannie/Johnny to school, you realize there will be order back in your house. A schedule. Real bedtimes. SANITY!!!

So, buck up! School is approaching fast.

And, if my theory holds true, only a scant few weeks before the weather cools off and those chips stop acting all crazy on us.

*Can I take a moment to tell the federal government that they can shove Daylight Savings Time where the sun doesn't shine? Because, if the sun weren't shining, I wouldn't have to deal with the ridiculous argument "BUT. The sun's still out (whine). So why do we have to go to bed?"

**And God help you should you live/visit some place with REAL humidity. Like Houston. Holy cats. By 10am the chip is about to explode.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Coin for Your Thoughts

One of the funnest water activities for the boys this summer has been "coin diving". I know: an oldie. Probably one of the oldest in the book.

But, when the kids get sick of the pool, a stack of anything that has been minted and made shiny gets them swimming again.

So, on Monday, the entire Nowell brood and their male cousin had wearied of swimming. After only 15 minutes.

As this was NOT on my schedule*, I decided nickels were the coin of the day.

I threw in four nickels for every boy, the idea being that each would return their nickels to me and I'd throw them again. And again. And again**.

This plan worked for about 90 seconds.

My eldest son has done this somewhere short of a billion times. But, this time, he had an IDEA! A GREAT idea. And, it went like this:

1. Retrieve coin.
2. Place in mouth.
3. Repeat.

You can guess what happened next.

One water-soaked, freaked-out, nickel-ingesting boy appeared out of the deep, clutched the ladder, and started panic-talking to me, desperate because he had just swallowed not one, but TWO, coins.

His younger brother was in stitches, trying hard not to laugh-aloud, but only containing his "pleasure" with a cheshire-cat grin.

I, on the other hand, having determined he wasn't 1) choking 2) choking or 3) choking, realized he just needed to be called off the edge of the balcony, back down to reality.

Later in the day, over dinner, when the subject of "How will I know when the nickel is actually starting to kill me?" began again***, I relayed a story I had recently read.

It turns out, one pre-fiance man, determined that putting his beloved girlfriend's ring in a champagne glass was a good idea. He didn't factor in that she was a "chugger". And, you guessed it! She "drank" her ring.

So, I took off my wedding ring and showed my boy how much bigger than a nickel it was. And I explained that, later, the newly engaged girl, "found" her ring again. In the toilet.

You can imagine the "EWWWWWWs" that eminated from all the boys at the table. Middle son was completely freaked out that the ring was cleaned and then worn****. And there was lots of laughter about "watching poos" for the next few days.

But, probably the greatest thing that came out of this? A new nickname.

Not original, but the always-remember-august-of-2010, NICKELS.

*Read: I had no other plan for that hour of the day. They NEEDED to stay in the pool and entertain themselves.

**Suspicously like dogs retrieving sticks.....

***There was no amount of Mommy logic that could convince him these nickels weren't going to be the end of him.

****He has, obviously, never PRICED engagement rings.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dipping the Skinny Way

Overheard at breakfast (which included three Nowell boys and their male cousin):

Nowell #1: "Have you ever gone skinny dipping?*"
Cousin (nervous giggle): "No."
Nowell #2: "It's SOOOO fun!"
Nowell #3 (enthusiastically): "Yeah."
Nowell #1 (who, obviously, moonlights as a scientist): "When you don't have clothes on, you swim faster."

I'd dearly love to call the Olympic Swim Team and suggest that maybe, just maybe, they are wearing too much clothing.

I think it would be fun to watch all the crazy, spasmodic, red "modesty" dots trying to keep up with the frantic pace of Michael Phelps. That would definitely go down as one of the world's hardest jobs.

Hey, NBC! Wanna make for one of the most watched Olympics in history? My boys have a plan.....

*Note to my sweet brother- and sister-in-law: we will NOT be trying this at home. Or at the splash pad.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Commentary on my Sad, Sad Life

You know your husband has been out-of-town on business way too much when the Allstate commercial guy, Mr. Mayhem, starts to look appealing*.

*Actually, his name is Dean Winters, and he was born the day after I was two years earlier and he plays opposite of Tina Fey on 30 Rock, which, obviously, I have been neglecting to watch and will have to DVR upon arriving back at Casa DeNowell.

Either that or my husband has to start staying home more often so I stop watching late-night TV.

Friday, August 13, 2010

To Pee or Not to Pee...

As a "reward" for doing a good job during reading training today, The Babe and I decided to take on "Cat and Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore".

I knew I was in trouble the first time I saw the trailer and the nod to the James Bond, pre-pubescent, not-at-all-predictable-but-totally-despicable sub-title Pussy Galore. All announced in a cigarette-laced, deep-voiced, trailer dude's voice.

And, after it was all over? I have to say it was about as original as the ripped off title.

But, maybe that is just the "I wish I could see an adult movie of my choice sometime before 2015" part of me talking?!*

The best part of the whole theatrical experience, though, occurred as we were about to find out if cats or dogs would rule. The Babe hopped over to my lap and announced he had to pee but he didn't want to leave before the show ended.

So, we stayed and he held on for dear life. Literally**.

And, once the credits had rolled, he stood up and started down the stairs yelling "Look out! Captain Pee is coming.*** Pee. Pee. CAPTAIN PEE!!!!****"

I guess I really deserved that after ditching Mike last week when Captain Poo was in the building and I practically ran to the door of the restaurant.


**What is it about kids that they think (accurately) that they can "stem the tide", just by grabbing their bodies?

***Captain Pee? Note to self: no more action hero movies for him.

***Thank goodness for loud music.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Joyous Moment

Comment from The Babe, upon hitting the entrance to the hotel tonight*:

"This is the best day of my life. No brothers to bug me. No weird sounds from the brothers."

I wish I could hit the LIKE button on the "no weird sounds", but I'm with the kid who thinks spontaneous barking and yelling and burping, with a side of gassy-farting, is cool beyond words.

*It's just the two of us this weekend.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sarcastic Quote #1

The female version of readers will appreciate the following quote. Men-folk may just scratch their heads in wonder.

"That was SO MUCH FUN it should have come with sock-covered stir-ups." MommaJ

Monday, August 9, 2010


Here's a handy-dandy, just-in-time, school lunch tip for you to nosh on...

A friend of my sister-in-law got tired of her kids complaining about receiving the same lunch stuff day after day*. When the friend looked at the cafeteria menus at the school she realized two things: a) there was NO WAY her kids were eating the junk they were serving and b) school menus repeat themselves every few days.

So, she invented a plan. And, it worked! So, today I'm passing along to you the "plan" I am about to implement. It's almost too simple not to work and certainly worth a try for the first few weeks of school.

1. Poll each of your kids for their "Top 5"** favorite, portable entree-type foods (PB&J, turkey sandwiches, etc).

2. Ask for the "Top 5" in the fruit, veggie, and chip/cracker/snack catagories.

3. On a weekly grid, lay out each of the fav-fives. Wah-lah! Your own "cafeteria" menu!***

One of the great things about still having a couple of weeks before school is that you can still venture to the store and try out some new lunch items on your kids.

After all, you'll never know if your kids will touch hummus/pita chips with a ten-foot pole if you don't try. Right?

*PB&J and an apple was my daily grind.

**Of course, you could do the "Top 7" or "Top 10", but if you have picky eaters, you'll be lucky to get five items. Same issue if you have restricted eaters.

***And, if your kids still are craving that pizza/corn/potato chip/strawberry milk lunch? Treat them once/week or month. That's one less meal you'll have to stress over!

Saturday, August 7, 2010


An excited boy came running through the restaurant, toward his Mom and Dad, who were finished paying the bill and were within 10 feet of the exit.

He couldn't contain his excitement as he screamed, right in front of two booths of diners, "DAD! I have to poo!"

His Mom, who was about to explode with laughter, raised her chin to avert the gaze of the patrons and moved a little quicker toward the exit, leaving her husband to deal with the embarrassment.

And, if you guessed that Mom was me?

You'd be right.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Smooshing 101

Today, as we were pulling into the car wash building and the car was getting its scrub down before the big blue cloth octopus arm attack, I heard the following from the back seat:

"We're married! Now we have to smoosh." And then? A LOT of giggling.

I looked in the rearview mirror and saw two smallish brother boys, lip-locked, shaking uncontrollably because they were laughing so hard.

According to them, after you get married, you do a lot of smooshing. The older of the two even protested when his younger brother pulled away because "I need the practice if I'm going to have a girlfriend and smoosh with her."

Never, in a million, billion, trillion years, would I have EVER thought of grabbing my brother to rehearse kissing*. I'd have rather given up my Teen Beat and Sean Cassidy posters than even THINK about planting one on him.

So, it came as quite a shock to me that my boys would find the need to get in some early training. Somehow, in my female brain, I thought it was only the girls who accosted pillows and teddy bears in search of the perfect pre-kiss try out pad.

My one consolation is the fact that, if they tell anyone they practiced "smooshing", the other party will crinkle their forehead in confusion.

After all, I've heard you can "smooch" and I found out you can "osculate" and "buss", but any merging of all these terms still doesn't yield a defintion of kissing that equals "smoosh".

I guess that's true, unless you are a Nowell, need a little pre-girlfriend lip action, and don't have a handy stuffed animal to prey upon.

*No offense, bro. But, ewwwwwwwwwww.