Chasing Contentment

Sunday, September 30

This is for Mandy, who says she misses our crazy stories.

We decided to be lazy today...skipped church, had homemade waffles at 10, and watched the last game Craig Biggio will ever enjoy as a player. Mike's got the grill going, some chicken smoking, and we're all liking the lazy.

Until I showered late in the day and discovered my ankles covered in water. It's a deep shower stall... short though I am, my ankles should never been plunged into water with near-empty shampoo bottles floating past.

So I called Griff from his homework to call Mike from the grill so Mike could come look at my little flood and make an unhappy face. As it turns out, apparently, all of our pipes are connected in some unhappy little collaboration under the house. And our daughter seems incapable of using the bathroom without a half a roll or so of toilet tissue.

Which she discovered wouldn't flush. And she was so excited about the prospect of water coloring her feet while Mike was grilling (a whole other story) that she didn't bother mentioning that to anyone.

So Mike leaves the grill, grabs his trusty snake and heads outside to do his plumber thing. I slipped the stained glass aside to open the window (pretty, isn't it? My late grandmother gave it to my mother who didn't like it, so she gave it to me. How could someone not like this?!) and out jumped a tiny frog. A frog in my bathroom!

Mike stops working with the snake to work with Griff to get the frog out of the bathroom (an unsuccessful endeavor to this point... if I squish a frog under my foot in the middle of the night, I swear I'll snap).

Now... Mike's snaking pretty much any drain in the house, and he's got me pouring boiling water into said drains (how eco-friendly is he?!). Of course, before I could do that to the toilet in the kids' bathroom, I had to arm myself with huge trash bags up to my elbows and remove the offending ... ahem, items, as it were... along with massive amounts of toilet tissue. Ick.

The chicken burned, of course, and I've ordered pizza.

What was Eliza doing during all of this?
Yep, that's my baby with a green, plastic collander on her head talking on her cell phone in the tub. You know, to get the water colors off her feet.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, September 30, 2007  ]

Thursday, September 27

Fourth grade is kicking our collective tushies. Monday, Griff had a rough draft due of a report on WWII weapons. Tomorrow, he has a science project on the water cycle due, and in between, we've had to learn his spelling words.

Which are...atrocious, rotten, lousy, wicked, villianous, fiendish, diabolical, beastly, barbaric, awful, shameful, slanderous, outrageous, monstrous, desperate, disgraceful, and backbiting. These are not easy words!

And all the while, I've been trying to watch new tv. For Jessica, here's my latest tv update...

Loved "CSI:NY" and I can hardly, hardly wait for tv tonight. The new "CSI" along with "The Office" and "My Name is Earl." Yum-o tv, in the words of Rachael Ray.

And while I said I wasn't going to add any new shows this season, I may have been wrong. I really liked the pilot for "Chuck."

Gotta go... my CSI anticipation is building.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, September 27, 2007  ]

Tuesday, September 25

Jessica asked what I was watching on tv... silly girl. So I'll tell. But everyone should bear in mind that I am WELL known for watching bad tv. Now, some of my choices are FAB, but some are just guilty pleasures. So she asked & I love tv, so here goes...

Sundays, we don't watch anything. We catch up on TiVo stuff we didn't watch through the week or Netflix movies ... or we could do something crazy like read.

Mondays, we watch CBS stuff. We watch "Two and a Half Men" and "CSI: Miami." The first is crude and rude and not at all family-friendly. But we laughed so hard, I thought I'd spit Diet Coke. And that is the least well-done and most cheesy of the CSI shows. But I kinda like cheesy.

Tuesdays, we watch "House," though we missed it tonight while we were at the PTO meeting. The plan is to watch tomorrow night. And then, we watch "SVU." I know... I'd think horrible things were going to happen less often if I watched that less, but now I can't give it up.

I'll update you with other shows as the week goes on. We also fill in with reruns of "Designing Women" and lots of Discovery with Griff. We watch "Cash Cab," "Dirty Jobs," and "Mythbusters."

I'm slow to add new shows... I've got plenty of 'old' shows. But I may add "Heroes" for a bit because Kristen Bell is on it now, and I LOVED "Veronica Mars."

I may also may watch some "Without a Trace" while James Marsters is guest starring. He was Spike on "Buffy," and I spent every Tuesday night for seven years watching "Buffy."

You don't do that without being a tv junkie. :)

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, September 25, 2007  ]

We had the first PTO meeting and open house at Griff's new school tonight. We've got to be the only parents of a straight-A, 'gifted' student who left more worried than when we arrived.

Fourth grade is really hard in general, but we've added all of these concerns about Griff's physical development, and it can be a little overwhelming. I'm meeting with the gifted teacher, his regular teacher, and the occupational therapist (I think) on Thursday, so I'm hoping we'll get some better direction at that time.

We really just want to help Griff to be as comfortable in school as he can be socially and as successful as he can be academically. So often, it's felt like he's got way too much for a little boy. Between the allergies and the asthma and the toe-walking and the moving and the... on and on.

But we know it's our job as parents to make this home as happy and comfortable as safe as possible so that he's content with who he is (which he undoubtably is, for better or worse), and it's also our job to make sure that we do all we can to help him.

He's gonna be this amazing man when he grows up (Mike says he didn't really come into his own until college... which is, of course, when I met him). We just have to figure out how to get him from nine to grown-up with his heart intact.

... and so I don't leave on a sad note, here is a sampling of his haikus. (Bear in mind that in his entire school - pre-k through sixth grade - there are only about 10 gifted kids. In the entire fourth grade, there are three... Griff and two girls. The girls' haikus were about butterflies and birds and such.)

Gross! is the game
I am disgusting, Uh-huh
Yes, oh, yes! It's BLEH!

Some little kid songs
Can get inside people's heads
And drive them crazy.

I can sing Poison
But not very well. Gypsies
don't sing well at all.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, September 25, 2007  ]

Monday, September 24

It's season premiere week... for a tv junkie like me, it's just fall heaven. Mike and I had about a half a quart (whatever measurement that might be) of strawberry italian ice from my new favorite place, and we're watching tv. We'll be here all week... watching tv.

I do love tv.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, September 24, 2007  ]

Thursday, September 20

My little brother is seven years younger than I am, and not so little any longer. Like all of us, he's all grown up with a family of his own. He's an artist masquerading as a banker. He's funny and sweet and way responsible.

One of the on-going topics of our teasing is that he's the 'golden boy' of our family, the child who could do no wrong. My parents rarely speak with me and not give me some glowing report of something exceptional he has done. (Me, not so much. But that's another story.)

The thing is... they are completely right. He's got this fabulous life going on, and he's turned into this wonderful man with this wonderful wife and son. I admire him.

He and his family are in the midst of a very difficult situation, one in which many people would respond from the gut and move in a completely emotional state. And those would be completely understandable responses. But he's working so hard to make sure that all of his responses are pure and Godly. And I am deeply impressed.

And I pray that a touch of 'golden' works in his favor this week.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, September 20, 2007  ]

Tuesday, September 18

First, to get the big news of the day out of the way, as Eliza and I were on our way home this evening, we were in an accident. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and everything is going to be fine with the van. And for the record, that van is cursed.

We've had three accidents in the van in the 14 months we've owned it. And in our married driving history prior to that, we had not had a single accident with any of the five vehicles we've owned. Cursed! There's this big black cloud over the van.

But it is a black cloud with a silver lining, as in two of those three accidents at least one of the kids was with me, and no one has been hurt yet. We are certainly blessed.

So, that's my excitement, and here's my insight for the week.

At work, the administration (actually some idiot management intern, but that's probably beside the point) has implemented a new system which has taken something that takes a fair amount of time from our days and made it so that it takes about three times as much time (sounds like a Dilbert strip, doesn't it?). So it's not been a good week thus far.

And everyone's upset by the changes, and the atmosphere isn't good. And this is not just the best work environment anyway. And at some point along the way, I realized that I'm probably never going to manage this job in a way that will get me promoted. I will most likely never really excel at this.

And I think that may be the point. I think the point of my being there may not be for me to be really good at my job. I think it may be for me to have a calm and gentle spirit in the process. (I'll wait a moment for those who know me well to stop laughing after the 'calm' comment.)

For the first time ever, I am the odd girl out... because I've only been married to one man, have kids who live with me, have two jobs, a house... I'm a walking model family stereotype and didn't know it. But I know people are watching me. I can feel it. I can sense it. I can hear it in the things they say to me and about me.

And it seems that, thus far, I'm coming off well. I say that not to brag because I'm really not a bragging girl but to point out that God is in this. Because these are really hard days, and I rarely feel like I'm doing very well, and yet, people are pleased with me.

And so I think that my task for the moment is to be able to maintain a joyful (or at least not pissy) attitude in the midst of this. And that feels more manageable to me than, say, having to get a good rating.

I do worry, though, that my refusal to do the extra work required to get that good rating will lead to less than kind opinions of me by my supervisor and/or team. I'm the only one in our team of six who doesn't go in early or stay late or work weekends routinely.

I hate feeling torn between doing a good job and being a good employee (which I have historially been) and doing what I need to do to be a good wife and mother. I always pick the wife/mama choice, and I don't apologize for that.

A co-worker recently asked me why I didn't just come in at 6 a few mornings a week to get those extra hours. "Eliza's daycare is open then, right?" For me, the issue isn't whether or not the daycare is open at that time of the morning. And I have no problem with families who are in positions where they don't have a choice about leaving children that early.

But I do have a choice. And my choice is for Eliza (and me!) to still be in bed asleep at 6 a.m. My choice is for her to not be penalized in any way by the demands of my job. And I'm not quite sure my co-worker understood my answer or my reasoning. But I stated my reasons, and I left it at that.

And I pray that by making these choices, by making these decisions the way I do and by explaining them simply and without apologies, people will see me choosing the priorities that are best. And I hope that will factor into who people see me to be.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, September 18, 2007  ]

Monday, September 17

I'm glad for the sermon last week that encouraged me. Last week (and today) was really difficult at work, and I've been tired and tense. I've had lots that I've thought about writing, but I just haven't managed to do so. And in all honesty, I still feel too tired for it... but I didn't want people to think I'd run away. Not yet. :)

[  posted by Chel on Monday, September 17, 2007  ]

Sunday, September 9

Oh! I nearly forgot... I got an award. How groovy is that?! Lizzie at A Dusty Frame nominated me for a Nice Matters Award, which is so sweet (I rarely think I'm all that nice, so it's good to know other people do.).

I believe the award began over at Bella Enchanted, at least that's what Google tells me, and I can Google anything, you know. (Now, Mike hates Wikipedia, so we only trust Google.)

Thank you, Lizzie, I am honored.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, September 09, 2007  ]

As a quick follow-up to Thursday's post, thank you to those who left (and emailed) such sweet comments. I appreciate the encouragement.

I knew that because last week was really hard at work, I would need to go into the office this weekend, but I really didn't want to. I stayed home yesterday, and we weeded the front flower beds (no small task as we were beginning to look like we were promoting some sort of free-growth jungle theme) and then we all headed out to the library and to this groovy new place near us for Italian ices.

Mike grilled these fabulous fish fillets that I turned into even better fish tacos which promptly gave Griff the worst allergic reaction we've seen in quite some time (note to self... only buy fresh fish, not frozen).

So, when I woke up this morning, I knew that I didn't so much want to go to work today. Sitting in the service this morning, the minister spoke from the 23rd Psalm. He talked about how our society is so riddled with worry and fear (lucky he didn't ask for a show of hands or I'd have had to raise both of mine), and he reminded us that God says to be anxious for nothing.

It's my choice to be afraid. I have to remember that sometimes. He talked about how the words "goodness" and "mercy" stood for other things... that God's goodness means He will provide for us, supply us with all our needs and help us always and that His mercy means He will pardon us, soothe and heal us. I often long for soothing, and I suspect I find it lacking because I'm not always looking in the right place.

And as I was dreading going to work, feeling a renewed sense of hatred for my job and annoyance at being stuck in it, he said something that reminded me again of why I think I'm where I am now. He said that we are all God's gift of grace to those around us.

A co-worker said last week that I always seem so happy. I often feel like I'm not the best Christian representative in this environment, but I think that if I seem content, I'm doing okay. And I'm going to stick up a little note in my cubicle that says "GRACE" to remind me of why I think I'm there.

I'll put it next to the cute little picture Eliza painted in daycare, the Hallmark Mandy sent me that makes me laugh and the quote from Jim Halpert in "The Office" ("Right now, this is a job. If I advance any further, this would be my career, and if this were my career, I'd have to throw myself in front of a train.").

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, September 09, 2007  ]

Thursday, September 6

It's been an overwhelming and difficult few weeks here, what with HR and workload issues at work and all of the information and updates on Griff at school. I've got all of these lovely blog posts in my head, but by the time I manage to get to the computer each evening, I'm way too tired to write.

I feel quite certain I'm in this current job for a reason. I believe that if God didn't have a purpose in putting - and keeping - me there, I would have gotten other interviews and offers. And I find it interesting that the friends I have made are not friends I normally would have had. And I hope that God is using me in the lives of the people around me.

It's nice, now that I've been there a year, that I see familiar faces on the elevator and that there are people who know my name and who are pleasant to chat with in the walkways. There's such a comfort for me in familiarity.

The girl I am closest to is someone who, God bless her, asked me to lunch one day, despite the fact that we have far more differences than similarities. She's at least a decade younger than I am, with no children, no college degree, and newly married. But I am so glad to have a friend!

The people around me are not Christians. The only girl who readily admits her Christianity pushes it, and she's not generally respected for it. Now, I know people who believe that's the way to go, but I'm more comfortable with a less-is-more approach.

And there must be something about me that works, that assures or reassures people. I'm not at all sure what that something might be.

When we were in our training class, a little girl who is much younger than I am (I say that a lot, don't I?) pulled me aside one day and asked me a very personal question. She and I were not overly friendly prior to that... or really, after, come to think of it.

When I took over my desk and began sitting next to a lady my age, I had only been there a few days, when she rolled her chair over to my desk and burst into tears, telling me that her husband had quit his job.

And when I moved to the desk I'm at now, I had only been there a few days when the girl I sit next to now rolled over and told me that her husband wanted to have another baby. Both of these are things I wouldn't tell to a relative stranger if it was me.

And yet, I've had the opportunity to share a bit with two of these girls about my faith. That can't be a coincidence.

An old friend of mine is having some problems in her life right now, and we've been in contact more than usual. This happens to me sometimes. I don't mind, but I was asking Mike the other day if he thought I was a 'conflict girl.' You know, someone drawn to conflict, to being needed.

God bless him, he said he thought it was more than I was comforting. I hope so.

Yesterday, Val mentioned me on her blog, Purple Valley, as someone who has become a friend, entirely online. I was so touched! She gave me some groovy "Blog-i-licious Love." And she even did this neat photo collage of me and Mike. How delightful that someone who knows me entirely through this venue trusts and values me.

There's gotta be something about me that works, that assures or reassures people. And whatever it is, I'm grateful for it.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, September 06, 2007  ]

Wednesday, September 5

"You can't depend upon your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain
It's been a pretty unimaginative week or so here. I'm already longing for the weekend.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, September 05, 2007  ]

Saturday, September 1

One of the lovely things about sharing with friends is that often, I get fabulous positive reinforcement and support from other areas I hadn't anticipated. My friend, Linda, called today to tell me that the son of a mutual acquaintance has dysgraphia. I knew this boy - who is now in high school - and his family, and he's smart and well-adjusted. And that's so encouraging.

And everyone I've shared the symptoms with has said the same thing... I never would have thought those characteristics would add up to something like this, but the description of the symptoms is like reading someone's descriptions of Griff.

I am very encouraged by all of this.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, September 01, 2007  ]