The Clash's Report on The Underground Railroad


The Underground Railroad
by Theodore Cooper (a 6 year-old)


First, I am glad we are white people that are nice and we didn’t catch people and make them our slaves. If we lived then, and we hid black people, they would check every single house in Indiana to see if they were here…and then they would make them slaves again.

But…big Sissy kinda looks brown. Is that black? Is that the same?

A long time ago, slave ships took slaves here. I don’t remember what it was like on those ships. When they got here, they stayed here. They sold them. What does that mean? It means they sold them. Did you hear the air coming out of my mouth? That meant they sold them. Did the air sound like it said, “They sold them?” When I say they sold them, that means they sold them.

Life as a slave was hard because they were slaves. They were treated meanly. They got whacked with a whip when they stopped working. One whack with a whip would make me get moving alright, but instead, I would drop my stuff and run! But if I ran, they would chase me. And what would happen after they chased me? It would probably be bad.

Slaves wanted to escape so they could be free and have freedom. Freedom is something good which you can have. Your life would be betther—better—with freedom. They could get freedom at a place…at a place like Indiana. That’s where we live. They could get it here. For real.

Mommy, did you know that we need to let strangers that are walking far, far, far away—we need to let them stay in the house until the next morning?

The Underground Railroad worked by that girl—Harriet Tu….I just don’t know. She was a slave. She was a nice girl but having to be a slave. One day, she was working in the fields. Was she just a kid? She followed the North Star to get to freedom. She didn’t stay in freedom, she went back and got more people to take them to the freedom.

Slavery ended with George Washington’s statue.

I don’t know.

Nobody knows.

One thing that I do know is….it broke slavery. That’s all I know about it. So…..


~Gia
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A Report on Neil Armstrong by Theodore Cooper

Each week, the children and I read a new biography on a famous American. This week, I read one about Neil Armstrong. The kids LOVE this part of school. As I read to them and sip my coffee, they hunker down to the coffee table and color--sporadically interrupting with a bit of commentary or questions. When the book is all finished, we make a report to ensure they can tell me what happened in the book. Since Teddy is still in the process of learning to read and write, he dictates to me everything he remembers about the book and I type it for him. When it is finished, they get to turn it in to daddy. Theodore's reports never cease to be short of hilarious.

So, for your amusement, learn a bit about Neil Armstrong through the eyes of my 6 year-old son.

You're welcome.




My Report on Neil Armstrong
by Theodore Cooper


Neil Armstrong was an astronaut. He lived in the 1870's. He got trained by NASA. They made him go to the jungle to camp. They ate whatever they could find. I'm not sure why they made him do that.

Neil lived in a house. I don't know what state. He had a nice wife and kids. His house caught on fire. That happens when people don't like their house, but there is no reason you should burn it down. Right? Does a house just catch fire? They got out of the house and no one was hurt.

Neil had a daughter that died. He was very sad. I don't remember her name. Nelsie? Muffie? Muffie.

It was dangerous being an astronaut. He could have crashed on the moon. Do you think he was afraid? Probably. You have to be very gentle when you are close to planets. He ended up landing. Neil got out and said, "One step for Charles Lindberg!" On the moon he did fun things but dangerous things that only grown ups can do. You can't plant things on the moon. He left his ship though.

No one has been to the moon since. It is too dangerous. When he got back to Earth, he didn't get to see his family. They had to make sure he didn't take any germs from the moon. After that, he lived the rest of his life with somebody else. Not his wife. He was happy.


~Gia
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Why Gia Looks Like An Internet Troll

It's quite possible I am not completely using the term "internet troll" correctly, but oh well.

Here it goes.

Confession time. 

In the past, I've been told that not everyone understands my views and ideas about homosexuality, and so my strong defense on the side of homosexuals is confusing and generates some upset. Today, I lost friends over it. It wouldn't have happened if I kept my mouth shut. But my mouth seems to hate me. My fingertips hate me the most. Before I can even find a shred of common sense, they've both rallied to a cause that makes me feel it's okay to be a troll sometimes (though it is probably not).

Keeping my mouth shut is hard. And there's a reason it's so hard.

Roger has been in church ministry for ten years now. Obviously this means that almost 98.9% of all our friends are Christian. Over the years, this has made life with my controversial views a little more than difficult. I've spent a good deal of time awake in bed at night, unable to get people's words out of my head, soaking my pillow with tears, asking God if I have it all wrong, and begging Him to show mercy...

You would assume I have lots of gay friends, right?

Not at all. I don't even know very many gay people.

I only know my baby brother. 

I love my brother so much, guys. He looks like me...he makes me laugh...he giggles...he let's me borrow his sneakers and sweats when I am at home (my mom's home, actually) and don't want to wear church clothes anymore. He watches scary movies with me. He has cried with me. We've been scared together, messed up together, watched our mama cry...tried to fix all the wrongs in the world, gotten angry at each other, gotten angry for each other, and punched each other... 

He. Is. Amazing. 

So when the awesomeness (pffft) of social media sometimes appears to mock my very real struggle of how to figure out how Jesus and my gay brother can coincide in love, I get angry and my mouth (or rather, fingers) shoot off.

Over the years, I've had people tell me that if I truly loved my brother, I would tell him the truth of what Jesus says about homosexuality in order to save him from eternal damnation...

Really? Seriously?

Come on, folks. Let's be honest. That's the dumbest thing you could ever say to me. I'm a hot-tempered woman. You question how much I love my flesh and blood, and Imma loose my head.

That person deleted me from facebook. Or, I deleted them. I don't remember.

And then a few days later, another well meaning Christian friend posted something about homosexuality. Their anger and disgust was trying to be stealthy but looked more like a raging bull in a china shop...

When these things happen, my anger gets more place in my heart than love and grace. I totally morph into this ugly internet troll...bravely defending my brother's honor. I do it all wrong. I say all the wrong things. My emotions are clearly all over my sleeve AND the comments section. It's messy.

Because, you see my friend, this struggle isn't yours. Not even a little. You have no idea what you're saying...

And you have no idea how you just wounded my heart.

As fast as you click "post", I want to tackle you to the ground and force you to know all the amazing things about my brother: how awesome he is, how emphatic, compassionate, and caring...

But you don't know. You won't know. And you're quick little status update, or article share, or youngcons blib on equal marriage--Matt Walsh's latest golden words on angry gays--theblaze you shared just crushed me. But you don't know. You have no idea. Because my struggle isn't yours. 

And then an evening like tonight's happened. I was sitting by my brother in the living room. I could tell he was having a hard day right when he walked in. He started talking about how angry he was that a particular store he favored was piping in ultra conservative Christian hymns. I realized that he no longer associated me so much with the a-typical Christian because he knows I love him, he knows that I champion him, he knows that I want him to be treated equal to any other American human being in ALL ways. But...I also felt protective for Christians. It got awkward. Real awkward...

And now here I am...

Up too late in the night...

Feeling like the freaking world is rotting away with hate, anger, intolerance of the word tolerance, and ebola.

Things get heavy, friends. They do. And I really have no idea how to balance them out. 

So I ended up acting like a typical internet troll. The first social network friend that posted your run-of-the-mill God vs The Gays statement got my smarmy response (recently, Roger explained to me that it is 'smarmy', as I was putting 'swarmy', but when it comes to me and my reactions, it's one and the same).

I'm sorry for that, by the way. Really, I am. 

If you knew my craziness, you would have understood that I was fighting through this massive struggle I've had for years where I pick up this imaginary sword of mine and defend my brother...The Awesome Gay Dude...and try in the stupidest of ways to let the religious world know how foolish they are. I mean, REALLY foolish. Because none of their well-meaning tips and shares and verses and "Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin" slogans are helping anyone. Most especially me (because we've gathered that this entire post is all about me--and my baby brother--right? Man I suck). It hurts. All of it. It hurts. Because this struggle isn't yours. It's mine. It's his (unless you have a Super Awesome Gay Loved One, too, and then it's your struggle as well). And in all this nonsense, I am left standing in this super awkward place between the gays and my church friends (which is pretty much everyone but my brother). And you know what guys? It's a really uncomfortable place to be. No one likes standing alone. It makes you feel like the ultimate of losers.

I am sorry that I become an internet troll. If I've ever virtually punched you for saying something about gay people and Jesus, I am sorry. Sorta (I said I was being honest, remember?).

But now you know why.

It's my struggle.

Not yours.

And I love my brother. Massively. Even though I once pinned him down and spit in his face. I love my brother.

So does Jesus. 

Massively.

He even hung on a cross for Him.

No questions asked.

~Gia

2

Or Do They Explode?



Sometimes, the world is too big and all the wonderful things that are hidden in it seem too far for me to discover. I mean, there are so many things that I want to see and do, write and create, listen and taste...

And I'm just me. 

This whirlwind of thought causes me a small degree of anxiety. Well, perhaps not "small"...it might be a large amount--the kind of anxiety that is so staggering in size and scope that it leaves you breathless,  an eye twitching with each passing second. It's paralyzing, really.

Beignets in New Orleans...
Real macaroons in a cafe on the Seine...
Running my fingertips down the spine of MY published book...
Hearing what rain on a tin roof in Dhaka is like...
Sipping old-fashions in Capone's booth at the Green Mill...
Piloting a bi-plane wearing leather and wool...
Writing in a cottage where trees are draped with Spanish moss...
Spending the night in the trees...
Understanding how television works. I mean, REALLY understanding...
Shooting photos in the Rockies...
Sticking my toes on the shore of Africa...somewhere...
Seeing bald eagles in Alaska...
Taking a cruise with Mickey Mouse...
Finally painting all the paintings that are so beautiful in my mind...
Scuba diving (except the idea scares the Dicken's outta me)...
Listening to my husband play and worship in front of a sold-out crowd...his music printed on clear vinyl...
Finishing my home renovations...
Buying a vacation home in Tennessee...
Tea with a First Lady...
Being an old lady with my hand tucked into my old husband's...
Kissing that man in Ireland...
Laughing with him over pale ales in all of Europe...
Saving the world...
Rocking this world...
Making an impact...



My gracious! That's not even the tip of the iceberg! And how do I live it all?

I just can't. 

I wake up and have to push all that aside. I look into my baby's eyes and realize that I am sowing three mountain-sized seeds that will take hold of this world and life and drain every bit of adventure and passion out of it. I want them to know that I am squeezing, drinking it all up, living and loving, laughing and running, climbing as high as my Elvis legs will allow, and learning with them. I want to leave them a legacy to pass on. A legacy that says clearly: We may not to get to accomplish everything we want to in life, but--my gracious!--we will certainly suck the marrow from the bones we are given. 

Our dreams will not die. They will not explode...

They will bloom. 

They will outlive us.



~Gia
0

One Thing At A Time


You may or may not have seen the movie Arsenic and Old Lace staring Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane by Frank Capa. At the beginning of the movie, Grant and Lane are newly wed and on their way home (they grew up neighbors) to inform Lane's father and Grant's old aunts who raised him that they've just gotten hitched. They are going to pack their bags and head off to Niagra Falls for a romantic honeymoon (barrel ride down the falls included). Grant teases Lane, chasing her around a tree. Lane giggles and chastises, "But Mortimer, you're gonna love me for my mind too." Mortimer waggles his eyebrows and replies, "One thing at a time!"

Replace Grant and Lane with Roger and Gia...and you have what has been fourteen years of marriage. I feel as if we live that moment around the tree, everyday of our lives together, saying to everyone else, "One thing at a time." Or, at least, that's how we feel. It is how it should be.

But life happens. It gets full. Dead bodies turn up in crazy aunts' window seats (as they do in the classic flick). Life isn't perfect. We don't always make it to Niagra Falls, and sometimes, we're more likely to find ourselves staring into the murderous eyes of Boris Karloff than we are ideal and picture-perfect love.

There have been some really terrible times in the Roger and Gia romance saga. But should you ask Roger and I what the secret to a happy marriage is, we are likely to sit you down and tell you about all our "terrible" times. You see, it's the struggles that refined and made us beautiful. It's the struggle that has bonded, shaped, and is molding a beautiful future. It is the struggle that brings a great deal of value and worth to anything we do, including sharing our very lives with one another and with our children.

The thing I value most about my marriage is the determination to make it work and push forward. So many times, we have been faced with adversity and pain. But those times--those emotional moments--were the most precious gifts:

The moment I first told him "I love you", just a friend, holding his hand on a swing...trying to encourage him and make him see how amazing he was when he felt anything but amazing... 

The moment I accidentally kissed him, having meant to press a quick kiss to his cheek...

The moment when we learned that one simply cannot wash their laundry in the bathtub because they don't have quarters for the laundry mat...

The time we had to sign up for government assistance because Roger had been cut loose from his job--that humiliating moment was a gift, as painful as it was...

The time that we clung to each other during yet another ultrasound showing that our unborn baby was dead--that horrific moment was a gift...

The hug and goodbye before war; the months of long separations; the eating of MRE's because we were attempting to stave off hunger...

When he drove our beat-up Tracker for months using the emergency brake as the only brake because there were zero funds to fix the brakes...

The fear of losing our home...

And then the shock when we learned we could keep it...

The very second we heard Lucy draw in her first breath and they placed her on my chest...

The time that Teddy was so sick and in the hospital and the possibility of cancer was placed on the table...

The second that I walked out of the bathroom and locked eyes with Roger, tears of fear and shock exploding from me, a positive pregnancy test dangling from my fingertips...

All the times that Roger has gently reached over in the night and ran his fingertips down my back, knowing how much I love the feeling, doing it despite how it makes his arms go numb...

The terrifying reality that parenting is the hardest thing we will ever do--harder than war and loss...harder than poverty and growing up...

The night terrors and the searching for imagined snakes under children's beds at three in the morning...

All the puke. All of it. The puke and poop. Just, all of it...

The fear that chokes when a baby's' thousand-degree-hands from nightmarish fevers wake you in the dead of night...

The tears...

The giggles and awe when our babies begin to speak and "sing" and reach for us...

The very moment when you realize your baby has just told you that they love you...

Soaking pillows with tears because we feel like we are failing, both individually and as a couple...

The fights that rock the core of our foundation and last through the night before we give in and reach for one another...

That time when we saved a woman in Wal-Mart parking lot, risking life and limb, flying through the cars like super heroes...

When we almost ended up in jail together...

The moment when you are seriously wondering if you will kill for the other...

All the good moments intertwined with the bad moments have been gifts. 

We have fourteen years of married life together that feel like much more because of the amount of living that has gone into them. And I am so thankful for them. I would not trade a moment of it. Not for more money. Not for prosperity. Not for hopes and dreams to be fulfilled. Not for the promise that from here on out, it will all be smooth sailing...



I'll tuck my hand into the boy's that I fell in love with and take on every single thing life has to toss our way. It's an adventure. Every moment of it.

But the greatest gift of all of them...

Has been the home that Roger and I have become.

He is my home.

So...even when the world looks like it might burn in flames, you will find me on one side of a tree, giggling and jumping just out of reach of Roger--his eyes sparkling with mischief and love. Because no matter what lists or chores or meetings or diapers or children that need tended to line up and demand our attention, we will chase each other around that tree declaring, "One thing at a time!"




Roger,

We are, you and I, champagne and nachos. 


~Gia

And just for giggles:




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Fourteen Years

In a few weeks, Roger and I will celebrate our 14th year of marriage.

Whoa.



It really feels much longer than that. In a good way, of course. It feels as if his hand has always been just an arm's length away, nowhere far, always available to give mine two short little squeezes "I love you"...

And it has been a long time. Let's be honest. Today, fourteen years is a lifetime for a young marriage. When you're seventeen and eighteen when you say "I do" it's an eternity...and a miracle. But for us, it has been an adventure.

I tend to get sappy with sentiment when we near our anniversary. I suppose most people do. I don't know. But for me, I look back at all the ups and downs and marvel that the man beside me today is the same boy I met in high school. It is not possible. It's hardly even possible that I am that girl...the girl that had one heck of serious crush on the cutest guy in our group.

So, as we draw nearer to the big fourteen, I want to use this blog to pour out all the sentiment and sap, the tears and the giggles, the secrets and the confessions of what fourteen + years of mad love with Roger Cooper has been like.

You interested?

Pffft. Of course you are.

I like to start out my stories about my life with Roger, by telling people about the first time I ever saw him. It's a rather funny story, actually. You see, our co-op was having a school field trip to Washington DC for a week so that we could all get to know each other before my sophomore year of high school began. I was at one of these meetings about the trip, sitting beside my mother, very shy and awkward (I was the most awkward of all human beings when I was a teen), and I hear a boy start cutting up behind me. After a while, I just had to steal a peek and find out who this guy was. So, as quickly as I could, I turned in my seat. The boy was seated on the floor right behind me, wearing cargo shorts, legs apart, elbows on his knees...very casual. But I did not know this before spinning around and looking RIGHT DOWN HIS SHORTS!

Roger likes to tell people this is why I married him because the first glimpse I had of him was down his pants.

Pffft.

But for the record, I saw NOTHING.

So, though this might be the first time I "saw" my future husband, I don't think it counts. So, the second "first" time I saw him was when I arrived at the bus that would hike us all up to the capitol. I was a nervous wreck. When you are painfully shy, why in heaven's name would you want to go away for a week with a bunch of kids you don't know? You wouldn't. This is why the trip was a nightmare for me.

I think my mom had to coax me out of the car, my pillow and suitcase at my feet. There was a huge group of kids by the bus, and in the center of this group was a tall boy (man, he seemed so tall in that moment!) wearing a wife beater and black sunglasses. He had blond hair that looked just like Romeo from the popular Baz Luhrmann flick at the time. No joke. 

                 

But I will be completely honest about myself at the time. I was a lanky blonde girl that was shy and awkward, yes, we have covered that. But added to that mess, I stood in that parking lot with my lioness hair (it was and still is SOOOO thick) pulled into a pony tail held in place with a SCRUNCHIE, wide-legged jeans to hide my chicken legs, and a baggy t-shirt. I really wish I had a photo of this moment; you'd better understand how the two of us never should have ended up together. He was clearly the class cut-up and a bit of a ladies man (though he has always adamantly declared this to be a lie) and I was a skinny little dork. I am serious. Honest.


This is me...on that trip...with my cheeks full of grapes. Oh me. It's a wonder...

There should never have been a reason that Roger and I ended up together, but God knew that we were the only ones that could make the other happy, handle each other, challenge each other. But for a good while, we were not friends. I was a snob. He sat behind me on the bus, leaned around the seat--giving me a good view of those pretty blue eyes--and asked, "What's your name." As stupid as it was, even though I had made eye contact with the poor boy, I pretended that I didn't realize he was speaking to me. But I couldn't answer. No words would come out of my mouth. I felt a blush creeping up my neck because I knew, I JUST KNEW, he was making fun of me. Somehow. He didn't REALLY want to know my name. Right?

What a dufus!

Roger was a flirt. He was a little obnoxious but very funny and somehow found a way to be cool while being obnoxious--that takes talent. And when he started singing on that bus, I was won. That voice...

That's when the crush took root in me.

And so the adventure slowly began. In fourteen years, we've lived an eternity together...messy and beautiful all at the same time. You wouldn't believe all that God has forced us through as friends, as a silly dating couple, as man and wife, and as mommy and daddy. We have become something amazing, captivating, insane, falling apart, stitched back together, mismatched, and perfectly fit.

We've become the coolest couple there ever was. ;P More on this crazy story coming soon.

Now...enjoy the song Roger was singing on that bus. Hahaha! Doesn't this date us?



~Gia




0

Poop and Tears :: Nothing To See Here, Folks

When I leave the house, the world is diligent to let me know that my baby is the only one in the world that cries.

I am not joking.

This is not my crying baby, but it is a crying baby...proof that other babies cry.

To be fair, I have had the experience before kids--and maybe even after mine are no longer babies--where I am in the line at the supermarket and the persistent screaming of a little baby makes me think, "For the love that is all good in this world, would someone make that baby stop crying?!?!"

But when it is me and my baby, I just dare you to speak those words to me. I. Just. Dare. You.

The other day, I was struggling through the store with London and the two Bigs. London wanted carried, so I carried her and asked Lucy to push the cart (Lucy is quite capable of this chore). However, she wasn't cooperating and Teddy was no help, either. So, I hold London on my hip and push the cart one-handed. If you've done this, you know it is a HUGE pain in the butt.

Half-way through the shopping trip (Father's Day shopping), London has had enough. She begins to fuss a little before that's not enough to get my attention, and then full out screams bloody murder. So to the check out lane I go.

The two women in front of me have a little baby a bit older than London. The older woman speaks to the baby, as if I have no ears, and says, "Look at that baby! It's not happy! You're ALWAYS a happy baby. Tell that baby! Tell that baby you're always happy and always smile!"

Come on.

Always?!

Another crying baby that is not mine...

But then there's a family behind me. They're a couple--young--and they have one baby. Lucy and Teddy have chosen this moment to start bickering and demanding those stupid over-priced toys the managers put at the checkouts. My blood is starting to boil. I hear the couple talking about me behind my back. Literally. They are talking about me BEHIND my back...

And I have EARS people!!!

This is not my baby, either...

Still, the older woman is talking about my "unhappy" baby and how her's is ALWAYS happy. She rolls her eyes and the cashier joins in on the conversation. I am glaring at this point. I'm almost hoping that the woman dares to make eye contact so I can make it crystal clear that I can hear her and that I am not pleased. But she's smarter than all of that. That's when I realize she knows I can hear. She intends for me to hear.

And now there is smoke coming out my ears.

What I suppose their babies look like when mine is crying...

That same day, we go out to eat. No fast food junk for us, thank you; we want to sit down somewhere and enjoy it. So, we go to our local Mexican place. I am convinced the normal waiter there has us "marked". He barely speaks to us every time we go and never brings us our bill or checks on us. But when you live in a small farm town, they know--and we know--we have few options.

When the dinner is finished and Roger gives up and just goes to pay without our check, I stand to follow. I am so proud of London. She has been good as gold and sung the entire time. I pat her back and whisper, "Thank you, Baby Girl..." and feel something wet on my hand. I pull it away and look...only to find greenish-yellow poop in my palm. A couple guests avert their eyes as I pass them. What they see, and I have not yet discovered, is that the poop is not only in the palm of my hand, but running down my shirt. It is everywhere.



Roger and I haphazardly balance London on my thigh outside the van. We strip her down naked, using baby wipes layer by layer to clean the poop up as we go. She is just smiling, talking, singing at the birds. When she is clean and in a fresh diaper, I'm half tempted to just rip my shirt off, but that won't do. So we drive home with me pretending to have my seat belt on, as not to get poop everywhere else.

 So why am I sharing my rant? I really don't know. I guess it's because I want to whine a little. Maybe it's because I cannot think of anything else to blog about? More so, it's probably just to whine...

Make me feel better, folks! Let me know I am not alone in this craziness! Tell me how your baby cries in public and other humans act like it's a phenomenon. Tell me you've been bathed in beautiful, golden, breastfed baby's poop! Please?!?!

~Gia


0

There Will Always Be Pull-Your-Hair-Out Days

The life of a homeschooling mama is not easy. I don't care what amazing super woman you know out there that wears a vintage apron (that she sewed herself), get up at dawn and bakes the whole family (husband included) whole grain muffins with a side of melon balls, braids her daughters hair, has them all fully clothed, lesson plans color coded and oh-so-carefully organized, 30 minute bible studies WITH an accompanying craft...



I am not her.

Dude...

Not even close.

I do not get up before anyone. Unless, the times when I wake up to nurse the baby counts. If not, then the baby and I are usually the last ones to wake up in the morning.

Breakfast?

Cereal and milk. You pour it yourself. And not only do you pour it yourself, you clean it up yourself. Bowls rinses and put in the sink.

Not an accurate depiction of my kitchen. Promise.

Pfffft.

Who am I kidding? The bowls sit on the table until lunch.

My kids sometimes do all their lessons in pajamas and I only remember to ask them at lunch, "Did you brush your teeth yet, today? Yes? Good!" And the fact that they did and I didn't have to tell them, is a HUGE accomplishment in my eyes.

I'm not that amazing. Sometimes, the days go incredibly great and I end it with a content smile and feel that everyone should know I made it through the day and was a FANTASTIC mom the entire time. Then, other days (like today) it goes something like this:

"Lucy, sit on your bottom, please. Please? Sit on your bottom. Lucy! Your bottom! Sit on it. Seriously, child! That's NOT your bottom! Do you not understand? Lucy Danielle!!!! SIT ON YOUR BOTTOM!"

Sits on her bottom.

"Thank you."

Two seconds later...

"Lucy, sit on your bottom, please. On your bottom. SIT ON IT! Lucy, we don't need to sing opera while doing our school work. Lucy...can you hear me? Are listening to me? Stop singing, please. Lucy! SIT ON YOUR BOTTOM! LUCY! STOP SINGING!!"

Stops singing. Sits on her bottom.

Fives seconds later...

"Mommy, I have to go potty."

I growl. "Hurry. Up. Please."

Twenty minutes later...

Lucy walks in with a smile on her face. "Like my bangs? I cut them myself."

OH MY GOODNESS!!



"Lucy, you are...like...four years behind. You were supposed to experiment with cutting your own hair when you were a toddler."

"What?" She says, matter-of-factly, "They're not in my eyes anymore." And I know that her statement is actually meant to say: Mommy, it ain't my fault you're a slacker and haven't gotten me a haircut.  

Somehow, by the grace of God, we get through the day's lessons. I clean up the cereal bowls and replace them with sandwiches for lunch. Afterwards, I tell Teddy he has to go poop.

Yes. I have to tell my five year-old son to do this. If I do not, he will simply go his entire life NOT pooping.

So, he gets a pen and notepad and heads to the toilet. I don't argue about this. Whatever passes the time...because that boy takes FOREVER!!!!

Five minutes later, I go to check on him. I find him on the toilet with his hands twisted up in the front of his shirt. "Mommy, I dropped my pen in the toilet. It's okay, though, 'cause I used my hands to get it out and I'm drying it off now."

Again...OH MY GOODNESS!!



"Teddy! We DO NOT put our hands in the toilet!!!"

I'll pause a moment to tell you, yes, I know I'm yelling. A lot. In fact, I'm screaming inside my own head the very moment I'm screaming in real like, screaming at myself not to scream. But...sometimes, a woman's brain and emotions do not want to be friends with a good mommy's brain and emotions. Sometimes, you just can't get a hold of one tiny shred of common sense and self-control.

Back to the story...

Teddy begins to cry because I tell him toilets are filled with germs (I don't mention that they're cleaner than the kitchen sink because that's not important right now). I snatch up a towel and use it to  pilfer the pen and throw it away. When I come back to the bathroom, Teddy is still crying with both hands shoved in his mouth. "Teddy!!!! DON'T PUT YOUR HANDS IN YOUR MOUTH!!!"

He cries more.

I think I cry a little, too.

In the chaos, I notice there is a bit of poop already in his underwear. I throw them away. I don't feel like soaking them today. I clean the boy up and get him in the shower, scrubbing his hands. When he gets out, he sits on a towel and cries that it's cold. I tell him to get dressed and he won't be cold. He yells that he IS drying off. I tell him he isn't, he's just sitting on a towel.

After five minutes of arguing over if he would like to get dressed or go to bed early, he finally decides that getting dressed is the better idea. Fully clothed and looking clean, he walks by me and says (as if he's telling me that it's sunny outside), "Hey mommy! I don't think you got all the poop off my bottom. There's poop on that towel where I was sitting." And just keeps on walking.

So what did I do next? I cleaned the boy up...SOME MORE...and escaped to granny's house. I had to bring the kids, too. I mean, the sensible mommy in my head screamed at me not to leave them behind. I came out here, I sat in the sunroom (where a very scary centipede just crawled across the floor and I attacked with my flip flop...DIE YOU NASTY LITTLE THING!!!) and my grandpa made me a cup of coffee. The kids are running free outside, trying not to blow away in the wind. I've text my husband and asked if there was a permanent full moon this week (he said there was not).

Since there is no logical reason why my kids sometimes revert back to toddlerdom, or why coffee is not removing the sleepiness from my eyes, I will now just sit....and breathe...and remember that there's always hope for tomorrow. Right?


~Gia
0

I'll Murder The Easter Bunny



Holidays should not fall on Sundays. This makes Easter very difficult for me. And how terrible am I to say such a thing, right?

But here is the deal...

It is hard for a mama to get a house of kids dressed and ready to head out the door on any given morning. It's chaotic. There are bowls of cereal to be poured, puddles of milk to be wiped up, and toothpaste to squeeze out of the ends of tubes. There are clean underwear to find, hair brushes to wrangle, and matching socks to discover. There are children to pull out of bed and away from cartoons...babies to nurse and diapers to change...and...

Wait.

Hold up...

What about me?

What about my toothbrush, underwear, socks and cereal?

See what I mean. It's crazy!

I won't mention the snoozing daddy curled up under the covers that scream for mommy to jump back in. Oh...those mean blankets. They mock me...



Because of this, I am seriously considering outlawing the Easter bunny from hopping by my house next year. After all, Easter is not about baskets, right? It's about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior!

All the Easter bunny manages to do is steal mommy and daddy's extra money for those overly stuffed baskets full of plastic junk and sugar.  In five minutes, the living room goes from nice and tidy to a mess of confetti and blasted paper grass EVERYWHERE. Plastic halves of eggs are suddenly land mines. Aluminum candy wrappers are tossed on (no UNDER) every surface...and chocolate is melting in the one patch of morning sunlight filtering in through the windows.

Don't believe me?

Well...to prove it, this is exactly how my Easter morning played out:

6:30 am:
The house is quiet and everyone is sleeping. I hear the children's' bedroom door creek open and the sound of my two big loves whispering as they hunt for their baskets.

6:31 am:
Daddy gets up because he has to be at church super early for worship practice. He starts pulling on jeans tossed on the floor and tells me the kids are up. I know.

6:40 am:
I hear the kids start to panic. They can't find the Easter baskets.

6:41 am:
Lucy pops her head in our door and says pathetically, "The Easter bunny hasn't come here yet." Daddy asks if she checked the front door.

6:42 am:
Wild squeals of joy and surprise that the bunny DID come by. The sound of cellophane tearing open commences. I hear them declare with happy relief that they got the kites they had been hoping for.

6:50 am:
Lucy asks daddy to open her kite. Daddy says we are not opening our kites right now.

7:00 am:
 Roger has all his guitars and gear packed into the Jeep and heads to church. I climb out of bed, put the baby in the swing, and begin to curl my hair and apply my makeup. "Get some cereal," I tell my oldest.She unwraps a snickers.

7:30 am:
I walk out of the bedroom to start a pot of coffee. Lucy is on the couch and asks, "Can I open my kite, mommy?" I say no. After all, we can't fly it right now and the pieces will get lost.

7:40 am:
I head back to the bedroom with a cup of coffee. Teddy is running around naked. "Put some underpants on," I say. Lucy is on the couch...with the kite opened and pieces everywhere. O_O I take it away and put it up...clearly stating my displeasure.

8:00 am:
I have my hair and makeup finished and slipped into Spanks (Slipped? Impossible!). Lucy is dressed in her new Easter clothes. That's good. Now all she needs to do is brush her teeth and do her hair. I sit down to nurse the baby again and change her wet diaper. "Can I go outside?" I hear Lucy asks. I tell her no, she's in her nice clothes.

8:00 - 9:00 am:
I have no idea. I lose track of time. I think I accidentally zone out while I sip my coffee. I know I dug through the dryer looking for all the parts of Teddy's Easter outfit that I tossed in there to get the wrinkles out. When I find them, they're covered in lint. I don't have a lint brush. It walked off a long time ago. It never occurs to me that I am still only wearing Spanks (which are nude colored). My poor son will need serious therapy. Not to mention my neighbors who more than likely got an eye full when I dug around in the mud room (windows everywhere!) for shoes.

9:00 am:
Teddy walks into the bedroom carrying a huge board and asks if he can have it. "I want to build you something," he explains. This is terribly sweet, and I kinda wonder what he was going to build me, but I tell him no and ask him to put it back before he hurts himself. He puts it away. I try really hard to pick the lint off his blue trousers.

9:30 am:
I hear Teddy tear off through the kitchen. Then, I hear a thump before he falls to the floor . Next...blood-curdling screams. He put the board away...and then smacked his head into the corner of it as he ran through the kitchen. Now he is in my lap, screaming and shaking, a bit of blood oozing from two small scratches on his scalp.

9:45 am:
I am still trying to calm Teddy down as I dab away the blood, spike up his hair, and make his toothbrush him. The baby is screaming from the front of the house. On my way to soothe her, I catch Lucy sneaking in from outside. She sits down at the kitchen chair and pulls her tunic over her knees. "Stop," I kinda shout (yes...I stupidly shouted). "You're gonna stretch out your clothes."

"I can't stop," she explains....

And then I realize what she's done. "Did you fall down?" I ask, stopping dead in my tracks. I begin to put it together in my brain while the color of my face goes from human to volcanic. I can see her kite on the ground outside the window. I look at Lucy who's bottom lip begins to quiver and giant tears fill her eyes. She pulls her tunic up and green grass stains and mud are all over her knees.

I will admit that for the next five minutes, I cannot honestly say I kept my cool. The volcano erupted and everyone was running from the lava. I took Lucy's leggins off and began to scrub at the knees with Shout Out and warm water, tossing them in the dryer. London is still screaming from the front of the house. My heart is pounding. The heat in my body is hellish.

10:00 am:
Somehow, I am finally dressed. London is dressed. Teddy is dressed. Lucy is dressed (leggings back on and stain free!!). My mom walks in to pick us up. I can't find a pair of heels. She tells me my dress is a little low cut. I put on a layered, long necklace to camouflage the cleavage. I can't think about that right now. I grab the diaper bag and we're all on our way too church. Because, you know, I obviously NEED a risen savior. Desperately. My lava spews too often.

11:00 am:
I realize my dress really is low cut...and the milk building up is not helping. :( Neither is the layered, long necklace (it just draws more attention). Boo. Well. I need Jesus. Now we all now. For sure and for certain.



I will spare you the rest of the day. It was a good service at church. I didn't hear a word of the message, but I know it was good. We went to lunch for burgers afterwards. London was perfect...even if she pooped in my hand. It was still perfect.

The afternoon was filled with crankiness and attempted naps. The candy carnage was still all over our house, leftover from the havoc the Easter bunny brought. Bedtime was something mommy and daddy were grateful for...

But heaven help the bunny should he come to my house next year on Sunday morning. If he MUST stop by, it had better be on Saturday morning. Or else.


~Gia

PS: In the all the craziness, this is the ONLY picture I got of anyone in the family on Easter morning. It kinda speaks louder than words, right?

Oh, and in case you want a quick lesson on the history of the Easter bunny, you can check it out here.





0

Why I Am Superhuman...



More than a decade ago, I had a miscarriage (one of two). It was one of the most heart-wrenching experiences I have ever experienced. To add to the pain, I would dream very vividly of childbirth in the nights after the baby was lost. Each time, I would dream of drawing the newborn baby up to my breast so I could feed it. As strange as it is, I could feel it...the baby sucking...the milk flowing...

After that, the reality of truly breastfeeding a baby became my biggest desire. When I gave birth to my oldest daughter Lucy, nursing her was what I looked forward to the most.

Now, here I am, having just finished nursing London (my third baby) and I have to tell you a terrible, awful, monstrous secret.........

Ready?

...


..........



...................


I do not like breastfeeding.


I know. I know.

I'm terrible, right?

After all, breast is best, right!!!! Or so they say.

For women that breastfeed, there is a lot of pride. And why not? It certainly isn't easy. You would think it would be easy, though. Out running errands and baby starts screaming like it hasn't eaten 120 minutes ago? I mean, 120 minutes sounds a heck of a lot longer than 2 hours. And what is mother to do when she's in the middle of the supermarket somewhere between frozen pizzas and aeresol whipped cream? Why, just pull out the boob and pop it in the screaming baby's mouth. Easy? Totally.

Not.

Also, women that breastfeed save on tons of money that others use to stock up on cans of powdered formula. I mean, you don't have to stop nursing your child after 6 months, 12 months, or even 24 months. You can nurse that baby well after your little pumpkin develops the ability to unbutton your blouse on his own. Think of the money you'll save bypassing chicken nuggets, baby carrots, and squeezable apple sauce pouches! Dude. Those pouches cost a mint!


Lately, there has even been this war on anyone that dares to suggest that women cover up when publicly breastfeeding. In the UK, one woman was even called a tramp for refusing to cover up while breastfeeding. The offended mama was the one to fire the first shot. I'm sure you've seen friends of yours post on social networks of they themselves nursing their baby...a bit of areola clearly on display. It's natural, right? So why should it bother anyone? Breasts are not sexual parts!


Except...try to convince any red-blooded, straight man that he should not be sexually attracted to breasts. It just isn't happening. YOU CANNOT REPROGRAM MEN. Period. And if you're a lady, try to convince me you didn't just stare a little at Gosling's pecks...err, areolas.  Gotcha!

I breastfeed in front of others, don't get me wrong. But I work hard to keep my...milk bottles...covered up by a blanket, nursing apron, a scarf...something, anything...because my boobs are mine and I don't want you looking at them!

But it is a hassle.

 I don't like trying to be modest about it. It isn't easy! I can find a quiet little alcove and tuck the baby under a cover and get her to nurse, but all the while she screams and sputters (like I'm drowning her) and kicks and claws at the cover, doing all she can to expose me in front of the creepy dude staring from across the way. He catches me staring back at him (glaring at him, more than likely) and pretends to text, but I know he's secretly snapping a picture and texting it to his buddy: "Dude! Look at this crazy chick! Just waiting on the blanket to drop! Picture to follow if it does!" (That's actually too many words for one male to text to another, right???)

It. Is. Not. Easy.

And do you know what it feels like to always be wet and leaky? Or hear some strangers baby start screaming bloody murder from waaaaaaaaaay back in the store, only to cause a tidal wave of fresh white milk rushing down into your bra? There's no way to stop that. I mean, if you gotta pee really bad and a bit threatens to come out...kegels save the day.

A kegel cannot save your bra.

Suddenly, everyone in the store knows mama just lactated all over herself. 


Along with constantly digging in the bottom of one's diaper bag for the last two nursing pads you are HOPING are buried down in there, you get the honor of producing a very sour aroma. There have been times when I've pulled a nursing pad from my bra only to have it dripping wet and smelling suspiciously like beer. Beer?! Really!? Is there a sobriety field test for a two month old?

But then I wake up this morning and bring London close to me to feed. I'm so tired...and I lay there, thinking about all the things that I have to accomplish today. Yet, a soft little hand rubs against my skin and I look down...

A staggeringly beautiful set of enormous blue eyes are staring up at me and she smiles while eating, milk dribbling down her cheek and onto the clean sheets.

Suddenly, breastfeeding is something I hope I never forget the beauty of. I might smell bad (like soggy frosted flakes and sometimes...beer). I might be damp and ruin my shirts and change my clothes nearly as much as my baby does...

But...

No one can do what I can do for my perfect little baby.

And THAT...is why I am superhuman.

At least, it's one of the many reasons I am superhuman.   ;)



EDITED:
Last night after I posted this, my dear husband went on a wild goose chase of a shopping trip to find me Mother's Milk tea to help with my milk production. Lesson learned in all of this? Husbands tolerate A LOT for their wives! ;P Also, autocorrect is of the devil:


-Gia
0

If Mommy's Housecoat Could Talk...

I read a note that I wrote in 2010 that said, simply: What If Mommy's Housecoat Could Talk?

What...?

I mean....WHAT?!?!

In 2010 my oldest child was four years old and my youngest was two. I know I wasn't on drugs. I know I wasn't drinking. So...what in the world was I thinking?

And yet, here I sit...curled up on the couch wearing the very same housecoat, plus another baby to the fold.

So, what if my housecoat could talk?


I cannot remember which Christmas it was that my mom gave me this soft red housecoat. I know I've had it since Lucy was little. It came with matching red slippers that were amazing (but are now in a landfill somewhere). I don't know when I've washed it last. Yesterday, Roger told me I had baby vomit all over the left sleeve. I shook my head and corrected him with, "No...that's been there for a while. I don't know what it is." However, I investigated it closer later last night and I am almost eight-nine percent positive that it's the remnants of homemade salt dough...though I'm not sure why I was making salt dough wearing my bulky red housecoat.

My housecoat smells a little.

It has the faint scent of my perfume on it...

...the natural smell of my hair (and by "natural" I mean "unwashed")...

...it smells like milk. My milk...

It doesn't smell like baby spit-up. But now that I have publicly declared that, London will be sure to christen it with a tidal wave of half-way digested milk.

It smells a little like sweat. I mean...it just does. And why shouldn't it?

But if it could talk, it might say these things:

1. It does not matter if you wear me all day, so long as you were a good mom while wearing me.

2. I'm sorry you had to discover the baby had a blowout only after lifting your hand to brush hair off your face and wondering why your hand was all wet. It. Was. Poo. And now it's smeared across your face. I won't tell anyone.

3. Don't worry about your post-baby body. It is the body of a mother and I will always fit around it, even when it is nine months pregnant. Of course, wearing me then might make you look like Mrs. Claus, but I will fit you. That's what matters.

4. Wear me and read a book in bed when you need to escape. Just. Make. It. Happen.

5. I promise never to tell anyone how many Oreos you eat when the babies go to bed. It's our secret.

6. I know that they don't listen well, but don't yell at the kiddos. One day...they'll start listening. Maybe. And if not, still promise not to tell anyone about locking yourself in the pantry and binging on the Oreos.

7. I am not sexy. Do NOT wear me as lingerie.

8. Shop for lingerie. Unless you don't want more children...

9. You can write so many novels while wearing me. I make the brain work a little better. It's the snuggles.

10. I always feel better on you than blue jeans. And that's okay. But DO NOT wear me out of the house.


Yep. I think that's what my housecoat would say if it could speak. And if it could speak, it would speak to me in Tyrone Power's voice as Jamie Boy the devilish pirate. Oh...yes. It would.



PS: I washed my housecoat. I shouldn't have. Now it smells bad.


~Gia



0

My Jesus Is No Purple Dinosaur



I'm a sensitive person. Always have been. I remember as a little girl, my heart hurting so much from another child's cruel words (most likely a brother's). Everyone has heard the statement, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." We've all said it. We've all heard it. But me, when I said it, it was a lie. My heart was bruised every single time.

 There's an ugly trend that's taken root in the American church recently. It seems that Satan has gathered up every hot-button subject he can find, orchestrated them to ignite every nerve, and tossed them out there for Christians to pounce on. The words that are coming out of our mouths, being tossed back and forth between us and the unchurched, are staggering.


Recently, I happened across Matt Walsh's blog titled "Jesus Didn't Care About Being Nice or Tolerant, and Neither Should You". I couldn't get all the way through the blog post without feeling like I was going to throw up. The idea behind Matt's post is that some of us (and I would be one of those people) have invented for ourselves a blasphemous and perverted Christianity based on  the heretical false "Nice" doctrine. I don't know Matt, but the tone of the writing is a bit more than angry...

 

 Tolerant.

 I am HATING that word these days. I wish it would just die already. Drop off the face of the earth, disappear into the depths, and never return.

 tol·er·ant
ˈtälərənt/
adjective
adjective: tolerant

    1.
    showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
    "we must be tolerant of others"
    synonyms:    open-minded, forbearing, broad-minded, liberal, unprejudiced, unbiased,
    patient, long-suffering, understanding, forgiving, charitable, lenient, indulgent, permissive, easygoing, lax;
    
    
    In reality, as you can see, the definition isn't something so terrible, it is? 


"Showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions of behavior that one does not necessarily agree with."
    
    Hmmmm? Because where are you actually going to find a world where everyone's opinions line up with yours? And if someone happens to not share your opinion, what can you actually do to change it? Argue? Fight? Call names? Flip tables and yell? Consider physical force (as Matt alluded to in his post)? 




  
Come now. 

We're grown adults. We aren't literally going to stand in the room with another person and yell at them, flip the tables, and push and shove. At least, most people I know are not going to behave that way. But on the internet, it sadly appears that anything is fair game. 

But back to that four letter word: Tolerant.

 Some people might look at some of the synonyms above and cringe. Conservatives might read the word liberal and think it's a four letter word. Others might read open-minded or broad-minded and roll their eyes. But what about patient, long-suffering, understanding, forgiving, and charitable? Do those synonyms fall to the wayside because liberal was in the mix? They shouldn't. Those words are in my bible and have the fingerprints of God all over them...

    "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."
    ~Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)


    "The the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth...""
    ~Exodus 34:6

    
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

~1 Corinthians 13:4-7
     

"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins." 
~ 1 Peter 4:8
    
Matt Walsh mentioned various references to back his post, one of which was Matthew 10.  I spent a lot of time pouring over that chapter, so I will pause and throw my two cents in the ring.

Matthew 10: 34 (NIV) says, ”Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

I believe Matt is pointing to that verse as a reason to define Christ as a tough guy who would have been charging into battle right about now, flinging some strong words towards those of us that are touting the “nice” doctrine around and painting Jesus to look a lot like Barney the dinosaur (hey, that's what he said, but I can't stand Barney).
 

Yet, here’s the thing…there was MUCH more to that verse than that one simple soundbite.

Matthew 10 opens with Jesus introducing his disciples. He begins to outline for them what their life without him physically leading them on earth will be like. He teaches them how to conduct themselves during their travels as they carry out the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20). He even tells them that when they enter a town that will not listen to them, to shake them off like dirt on their feet and leave (Matt 10:14). He did not tell them to get angry and defend righteousness. He told them to simply leave. Jesus goes on to paint a rather painful picture of what life will be like for his disciples. He warns them that they will be persecuted and advises them on how to handle that.

“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (verses 22-23 NIV)

Note that once again, Jesus never tells them to fight back or defend their faith.

So, why did Jesus say he did not come to bring peace on earth, but a sword? I don't believe he is being literal here, and I don't think Matt believes that, either. After all, no where in the Gospels is Jesus seen unsheathing a long blade. Instead, I believe that Jesus was talking about the aftermath of his birth, his walk here on earth, and what the world would be like after his resurrection. He did not ascend into heaven and leave his disciples in a peaceful environment. All hell had broke loose and the Romans and the Jewish leaders were on the warpath to find them and kill them. They weren’t exactly safe. In fact, where did Jesus find them when he rose from the tomb? They were hiding out, scared for their lives—and rightly so. After Judas, all other disciples were martyred for their faith (with the exception of John who was exiled). 


Jesus did not come to bring peace on earth, that is true. The sword he spoke of was one of spiritual warfare; for when he was born, Satan raged and did all he could to hide Christ's light and keep him from the cross. After Christ’s death and resurrection, Satan continued on in his relentless battle to squelch and twist the truth of what Christ’s death and resurrection truly meant for mankind. That is the sword. That is the battle.

Matt goes on to point out several times in scripture where Jesus speaks out against and ridicules the Scribes and Pharisees. I think he was drawing a comparison between those that follow the “nice” doctrine and the Pharisees who didn’t truly know Jesus. 


I don’t know. 

I read those verses and I see Jesus reprimanding the hyper religious that had little grace for those around them. The men in those scriptures certainly weren’t being “nice”. So, for me, those points were moot.

In scripture, Jesus wasn’t reprimanding people that could be defined as nice; Jesus was correcting those that thought they knew what was right. Christ even chastised the disciples on more than one occasion. When he took the boy's 5 fish and loaves to feed the thousands, the disciples balked. He had to correct them when they were more concerned about the cost of the perfume Mary poured out on Jesus’ feet than the act of love she was displaying. But to those religious folks that knew their laws like the back of their hands, he put in their place. He called them all out when they tossed a prostitute at his feet and demanded that he allow them to stone her. He healed the crippled man in front of them, defying their strict rules about Sabbath…

Most of the times that Jesus spoke with even the hint of anger in his voice, it was not to sinners or those that chose to love him unconventionally (like Mary and her perfume), but towards those that supposedly were “good” and knew their stuff.

So Jesus isn’t nice. Matt Walsh is right. Jesus was kinda mean, at times. He was quick to jerk a knot in the tails of those that were sitting high on their self-righteous high horse. But, for the sinners, he showed compassion and grace. Yes, he pointed out their sin, but he did so in such a way that they did not feel the need to be defensive. Christ had all the right, careful, loving and graceful moves to reach the heart of those in bondage. For those that did love Christ but were more tender hearted, Jesus was nice. He also encouraged us to be kindhearted to those around us.

I am tolerant. I realize I have to live in a world with people who do not believe the same things that I do...but I can't get rid of them. I don't want to fight with them, either.

I am patient (well, actually, I am not…but desperately trying to be).

I strive to be understanding.

I am open-minded to the point that I know I don’t know everything, and most importantly, I don’t know everything about Jesus or the Bible.

I am kind (again, trying hard to be).

I want to be charitable, lenient and forgiving…

And I am holding tight to my “nice” doctrine, believing that my Jesus was very masculine, tough and a fighter. He would stand on a mountaintop and be tormented by Satan, tempted and persuaded, beaten, mocked and abused, whipped and publicly shamed…for me.

But he was tough. He endured it all. He was not weak.


My Jesus was angry when he needed to be and stood his ground. He did not allow the religious crowd to stone a sinful woman. He took her in his arms and protected her. He was strong, tough, and masculine.

My Jesus looked menacing when he overturned the merchants tables and yelled and screamed at those people mocking his fathers house. He was red-faced and violent. But he was also the same Jesus that was soft spoken and drew all the little children unto him, despite his disciples trying to keep the innocent—the insignificant—from his knee.

My Jesus…

He is a warrior filled with love and grace. He is beautiful. He is touchable, as the bleeding woman discovered. He was (and still is) approachable, as the children knew. He was fun and and not too proud, as the tax collectors, drunkards, and prostitutes learned.

He loved.

Maybe that’s why the nice doctrine is so hard for us to swallow these days? If we started acting like Jesus, we’d have to suffer a little, take the hard hits, be persecuted…but still endure it…and still do it all while loving those doing it to us.

Not too easy, right?

Not too nice.

But clearly the example Christ gave us.

Let us not be too quick to assume that we know exactly how Jesus would act today and how he would handle all these very sensitive issues. After all, the disciples were closest to him. They walked with him. They shared meals with him. They traveled the countryside with him. But after seeing him perform miracle after miracle, they did not recognize him walking out on the water to them. They mistook him for a ghost. 


I promise not to make my Jesus a purple dinosaur if you promise not to make him William Wallace dripping in blood. Let’s just try to behave like he asked us to…

And he clearly commanded us to love. Period. No conditions or stipulations attached.

Not easy to do, right? It’s much easier to yell.

I’m going to be pretty honest about myself for just a moment. As sensitive as I am, and as much as I desire to be kind to others, I am no tender-hearted, weak woman who trembles when someone gets a little angry. I am the woman that took off across a parking lot to rescue a woman being beaten by her boyfriend. Thank heavens my husband was quick on my heels, because I have no idea what I actually would have done when I got there. I am the same woman that got in a drill instructor’s face when he picked on my family in the Commissary (dumb move, by the way). I have yelled at a bouncer who accused me of underage drinking (I was NOT drinking!) and told him, “Shame on you for even believing I would do such a thing!” I’ve held grieving women in my arms. I am the little girl that took up a sword (not literally) and defended my brothers with every fiber of my being. And I am the woman, that should you dare try to mess with my husband or children, I will dig out the sword that is hidden and buried in my closet (yes, THAT one is real…don’t ask) and chase you with it until you beg for mercy. All bets are off when you mess with those dear to me. So…I am not a hippie, filled with love at all times. I am pretty mean. It is a chore for me to love those that are buttheads. True story. I'm actually quite vicious. I’d rather punch you in those nose than try and be kind to you. 


However…

I know the incredible power of words. 


It’s about time that we started caring about the hearts of all mankind and sacrifice our rights, laying them at the foot of the cross. Because if we do not, Satan gains more and more ground in this battle for mankind. We are building a huge wall between us and the lost with all our yelling. Isn’t that what the enemy wants? We need to be more careful with what we are saying, writing, and accusing others of. I'm no heretic. Neither is Matt. We just have a different idea of who Jesus is. But the bottom line...

We need to be shining a light on him for the world to see but all our stupid words are clouding the view.


~Gia

PS: I wrote this entire post just so I could use the Gatsby meme. ;P Oh! I also have a crush on Mel Gibson as William Wallace, blood free, of course.
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Receiving Lady London



It's been five weeks since Lady London made her way into the world, as slowly and patiently as you please. It's been five weeks since my last bout of acid reflux (literally, as I had to take Tums during labor) and five weeks since I wobbled around on swollen feet. Those last few months of pregnancy were near torture, filled with tears and frustration. Even so, I miss it...

I think that makes me insane.

Who would miss swollen limbs and a pelvis that feels as if it is splitting in two?

Or miss those sleepless nights when stomach acid volcanoes out of you, startling you awake with choking and sputtering?

The night sweats that felt like ice cold buckets of water were thrown over you?

The difficulty...*ahem*...in the bathroom (that's as far as I'm going to go with that one)?

The pee that escapes at the tiniest laugh, sneeze, and cough?

I mean, who would possibly miss the itchy stretched skin that may or may not rip right down the middle if you happen to gasp after you sneeze because the as-before-mentioned pee shot out?

Or even worse, you bend over and your belly skin rips like a pair of too-tight blue jeans (sound effects included)?!



But I do.

I miss it.

I miss my round belly and the feeling of her little body moving around in there.

I miss the furnace her little self turned my big self into.

I miss...and this is for real people...the table my pregnant body transformed my belly into. NOW WHAT WILL I REST MY CUP OF COFFEE ON?!?!

But all good things (and even good things that are sometimes viewed as bad things) must come to an end.

On February 11th, I got up at 4:20 am to take Teddy to the bathroom. When I lifted him from the top bunk, there was a sudden gush. My eyes grew wide and I thought, "This is it! My water broke, thank The Lord!!!" But the water stopped...

I wait the whole day for the "pop". I waited for the contractions to kick in. The contractions were there, but they were sporadic and not overly painful. We did our school lessons even though I felt so tired, and once they were finished, I took a nap. Roger came home early from work and we took a drive, dropping off our van to be worked on. We went out to eat at our local Mexican place where we ran into so many familiar people asking when I was going to pop. I wanted to cry. I just dodged the question, half tempted to shout in their face that I was never going to pop and asking me when I was going to pop was only going to keep my stubborn baby in there all the more!

But I didn't.

I did not shout at them.

I just sobbed hysterically inside my imagination.  Big, huge, body shaking, ugly cries.

The next morning, at 5:30, I woke up again from a little gush. This time, it was pink. Hmmm...

Yeah, this needed to be reported to the doctor.

I let Roger go on to work and never mentioned it to him. Instead, I showered, did my makeup, got dressed, double checked the kids' bags and my hospital bags and waited for the doctor's office to open so I could call. When I did call, I got a lecture about how I should have called the morning before. Pffft. They sent me straight to the hospital where they determined that my water had ruptured the day before and now I needed to get on pitocin right away (and antibiotics) and have my baby, pronto. Little did they know, London had not and would not do anything quickly.

Teddy tells me, "Aren't you glad your tummy isn't that big anymore?!"  :(


I cried a little. Mostly out of sheer exhaustion. I'd been having contractions for weeks and nothing. But now they were telling me I was TRULY going to have a baby. I was half tempted to have them draw up a contract and sign it in blood, promising not to send me home until a baby was in my arms. MY baby.
Our selfie after I carefully applied Marilyn Monroe red lips.


The strangest thing about childbirth is how inhibited a woman becomes. It no longer matters how many people come and go from the room when everything below the chin is exposed. But at one point during a particular tender cervical exam, I noticed that there were about FIVE men standing around my bed, all with their arms crossed (defensive and self-protection stance!!!) and staring at my...well...myself. They were all students, I guess...but the idea that there were so many took me off guard. When my doctor was finished feeling and prodding around, I giggled a little. "Sorry," I said to them all. "There's just way too many dudes and way too many hands feeling up in here." They looked shocked that I had mentioned it. One or two of them might have blushed. But they all quickly walked out of my room, mortified.

But hey! I was the only mother on the floor rocking contractions with her hair curled, her mascara not running and her red lipstick in place--which, by the way, is hard to apply perfectly when one has terrible adrenaline shakes. My anesthesiologist said he wanted a post-labor photo of me to see if I still looked as good after. "It's war paint," I explained, very seriously.

Not only was I the only woman laboring in red lipstick and curls, but I was probably the only one doing it to the background sounds of Mel Gibson leading the Scotsmen into battle as Braveheart played on the TV. The nurses would come in and frown at the sounds of blood spilling and flesh tearing open from the thrust of a longsword.



Childbirth is like battle, right??? Kinda? No? Just me?

"Aye, don't push and you may die (or at least feel like it). Run, and you'll live... at least a while (No, run and you will leak amniotic fluid all over the hospital floors!). And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies (your nurses) that they may take our lives (they better NOT), but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM (to push when we're ready)"

**Interpretation was all mine**

Things are just about to get serious after this picture


Later in the evening, I think the doctors might have been considering a c-section because London was simply stuck up in my bone structure. This labor was taking much longer than they anticipated. However, a young doctor was nice enough to give me three little practice pushes to see if I could move her down on my own.

Oh, puh-leeze!

Practice pushes?!

Stand back, good doctor. I'm a pro a this. Get your catcher mit because here she comes!

I rock at pushing out babies!!


After my "practice pushes" they decided I needed to cross my legs, hold my breath and wait for the other doctors to get in the room. They also had about a dozen (maybe not really) women from the NICU come down because London had pooped a little (she's a true Cooper) and wouldn't be allowed to take her first breath before being properly suctioned.

I'm not sure there are words to describe the moment they tell you your child is born. Mostly, I think disbelief sums it up. I sobbed, "Oh my God!" But not in a don't-ever-take-God's-name-in-vain kind of way. It was more just a huge rush of emotion so big and overwhelming that all you can do is cry to your Creator. And then I just cried and cried some more. I think I might have cried more upon seeing London than I did with the other two. She was just such a shock. I wasn't planning on her. I never pictured her presence in the grand scope of my family picture. But yet, in that moment, I suddenly couldn't NOT picture her in our lives.



And there she was. Scowling at us all.

Yes, my dear Lady London came our scowling with her brow all furrowed up.

Can you blame her?

Inside mommy, is was safe and warm. Now she had a bunch of ladies shoving things in her mouth and sucking out the possibility of poop in her mouth. I mean, come on! Inside mommy, she was a dignified lady who NEVER pooped. But now, this entire process of entering the world had managed to crush her dignity.

I wanted to snuggle her up close and tell her that it was okay, mommy understood. After all, I'd had all kinds of hands up in my girly parts all day long. I knew what it was like to lose one's dignity. But as it was, we were separated by suction, shots, eye drops...oh!...and the two men that were stitching up mommy. "Take this part here," I heard one doctor say, "and stitch it there. That will make it look kind of normal." Gee, thanks! Normal! Normal is good. At least I get that...

By the time I was finally able to hold London the adrenaline shakes had worn off. She immediately began to nurse and I was suddenly very tired. Everything, besides having to sit on a diaper filled with ice, was perfect.

She made the softest, most delicate sounds...


There's nothing easy about getting a baby. There's morning sickness right off the bat. I mean, isn't that they absolute worst way to welcome good news? "You're having a baby?! Congrats!! Now you get to puke your brains out for three+ months!"

Kinda dumb.

Once the wooziness passes, you get heartburn and back pain. Some ladies develop hemorrhoids from constipation. You skin stretches and itches like crazy. Your ribs feel like they're going to shatter into splinters. You get hairy...your face breaks out...you can no longer control if you will or will not pass gas...

Yeah. That's embarrassing.

But thanks to those prenatals, you have long hair and nails. So, that's something.

Yet, you finally have the baby and all of that yucky junk is forgotten.

Except, it's replaced with ice-packed diapers for mommy to sit on; nurses massaging your belly to force your uterus to contract down;  husbands helping you inch your way slowly to the toilet; a lengthy toilet routine that involved squirt bottle, witch hazel pads, itching/burning prevention spray, and some sort of foam that I STILL do not know what it was for...

But I have her.

I have my beautiful surprise.

And every little bit of it was worth it.

It was an adventure. From that first moment that peace finally washed over me days after the pregnancy test came back positive...

From that moment when I ripped open the shower curtain and puked into the toiled, hot water spraying everywhere...

Even that time that I peed at Steak-n-Shake while out to dinner with church friends, my pastor included (they didn't notice, though...until now...if they're reading this).

It was all worth it.

Receiving Lady London has been an adventure, a wonderful and scary surprise, a blessing beyond measure...and a moment I will treasure forever.



But thank you Jesus for getting her out of me! I didn't think it was ever going to happen.

~Gia





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