Fluffy Flub

My husband is great. He really is. He helps with the baby. He knows how to cook and clean. He works his rear end off to provide a wonderful life for Chuckles and me. But, alas, he has a flaw. He is a guy after all. I think this disorder is common among most men. I am speaking of the foot-in-mouth disorder, of course!

I started thinking about Hfoe’s unfortunate choice of vocabulary a few nights ago when we were sitting on the couch watching TV once the nugget was asleep. He was being sweet, rubbing my back as I was working on my computer. He shifted the back of my shirt and I flinched and pulled it down. He said, “what?” I told him, “nothing. I just don’t want my flub hanging out.” He laughed and said, “You don’t have any flub. Maybe just fluff.” WHAT?!! Not better, my friend! How in the world did that sound good in his head? At this point in our marriage, though, I know the intention was a good one. I can almost translate what he ACTUALLY meant. I THINK that was suppose to mean something along the lines of, “Baby, you are nowhere near flubby or flabby or fat or chubby or any of the other words that scare me. You are beautiful and I love the soft woman you are. You are perfectly attractive to me so stop being self-conscious.” I think. So, in my internal conflict between believing the intention and repeating the actual words, I chose to laugh instead of cry.

Earlier in our marriage, though, I was not so resolved to laugh it off. My favorite misguided remark came when Hfoe and I had been married about 9 months and we were moving into our very first house. Hubs had to work on moving day so it was up to me and the moving guys to get every last piece of furniture down three flights of stairs from the old apartment and into the single level house. I was relaying the events to Hfoe when he came home from work that evening. At one point I showed him how I had moved a certain heavy piece of furniture all by myself. He said, and I remember it like yesterday, “That’s great babe! You sure are husky!” Just let that one sink in for a sec. The only two definitions of the word “husky” I have ever known were the hairy, Siberian dog and the “fuller-figured” version of little boys jeans. Neither descriptor seemed the least bit flattering. I think “husky” fits into the same category as “hefty” and “burly.” It ain’t pretty! I choose to omit my response to him at the time, but I will say it was not so graceful as that of few nights ago! I have learned since this unfortunate event that he was genuinely trying to give me a complement about being strong. I still haven’t figured out what word he SHOULD have used there.

Another really fun comment was the time, not so long ago, he called me his participation trophy wife. I am giggling out loud remembering that one! There have been times where he has inadvertently said another girl is attractive and I have taken it to mean “more attractive than me.” He has occasionally said the wrong thing about my cooking, my clothes, the house or something I do regarding the munchkin. One thing I have learned over the last four years, though, is that the weight is in the INTENT! He means well, he just doesn’t filter well. And that is his “flub,” his thing he maybe doesn’t want me to see, but it’s there and I love him despite it.

Hfoe told me once, when I was in a particularly bad place about my weight, something that really stuck with me. He said that the thighs that are highlighted by cellulite to me just look like legs to him. The belly that is a disgusting image in the mirror staring back at me is just a part of the beautiful person that he loves. He told me that it isn’t until I point out the lesser pieces of myself that he even notices a little hangover on the pants waistband or jiggly “hey Helen” arms. So, basically, if I stop being so down on myself, I don’t even have to think about him being down on me, because he won’t notice!

This is where my sweetly oblivious, sometimes ill-speaking, often unfiltered hubby redeems himself. The unfiltered truth about the woman he loves is a way better reflector to my self-esteem than the mirror displaying the flub.


HE loves ME

Today was one of those days that left me feeling abundantly blessed.

Most Sundays, Hfoe, Chuckles and I lazily stumble out of bed at 7 and increasingly begin to rush as the minute hand creeps closer to 8am. I have to say, I am reminded on those Sundays that I LITERALLY have the BEST hubby on the planet. Somehow between brushing his own teeth and adorably dressing our daughter, he always manages to bring me a piping hot cup of coffee to sip while I put on my face for the masses at church. His wardrobe choices for the little, although not always what I would have selected, usually elicit ooh’s and ahh’s from whichever of our female friends happens to be working the nursery on the day. Then, to top it off, he manages to look handsome himself AND he always compliments me, no matter how many Sundays in a row I have worn my hair in the mom pony tail. I love the guy. What can I say?

This Sunday…Hfoe had to work. Sooo, Chuck and I did our normal lazy routine, except as 8 am rolled around, we were only half painted. AND, I had no coffee. Lame.

We managed to make it to the 8:23am service! Though I was very impacted by the topic, “The Cost (of following Christ)”, I am always disappointed if I don’t hear the music. Worship music speaks to my soul. It opens my heart and mind to fully embrace what Jesus wants to say to me. He whispers and He yells through worship. I NEED worship and He requires it of me. So, C and I left our normal service and I was longing for more.

I happened to see on facebook last night that one of my friends from my old church had posted about the speaker at said old church for today. He is one of my all time favorites. This guy is the definition of inspirational. I have seen him speak twice before and each time I see his passion for the Lord grow. As he reaches people in far away lands with his testimony, it’s as if he reaches further depths of his own relationship with Jesus. Nick Vujicic; if you don’t know about this guy, look him up. You won’t regret it!

Anyway, so I made a snap decision that I would take a bonsai trip out to Westlake Village to see Nick speak and as an added bonus I would get to see some folks who have meant so much to me through the years! For sure, this was a great decision! My friend, J, and her baby, A, from our church home wanted to join the impromptu party so they met us out there.

We made it in early so we got great seats….this is important at a mega-church with thousands of attendees. You could end up seated behind Stretch Armstrong and despite the jumbo-tron screens, your view is impacted. But, we lucked out! The music, oh the music! Beautiful! Inspirational! Dance worthy! Chuckles is usually already in the nursery for worship time at our home church, so this rare treat  for her was met with enthusiastic dancing! It made my morning!

Chuckles gets down to the tunes!

Then, Nick came out. To give you a little back story, the guy has no limbs. No arms. No legs. It could take you off guard if you aren’t expecting it. What could shock you even more than his lack of limbs is the ease with which he moves without them! He hopped out of his specially designed wheelchair onto a platform and immediately opened with some joke about not being the one to play the piano because “he wasn’t warmed up.” The congregation snickered and everyone settled in for what would surely be a highlight to their day.

And it was. As I sat and listened to Nick talk about hope and healing and hurting and conquering that pain through Jesus, I thought about my own hurts and healings and hopes. I looked around at this room where so many of my memories lie. This place took me in when I was a child in Los Angeles. I moved to this crazy city with $2000 to my name and no real plan. The people under this roof loved me and sheltered me and gave me the answers for which I was looking. Through my involvement in the drama ministry, I was plugged in to a deeper connection with the Lord that saved me from making some pretty bad decisions as a rookie Angelino. I had many cry-fests for my pre-Hfoe relationship in this very room. Yet, it was healing. The shoulders that I cried on for those break-up months were some of the same smiling faces to whom I had just introduced my amazing, beautiful daughter. Wow! At that thought I was whipped around once more to the understanding that my God really does have a plan for me. Specifically, for me. Not some grand scheme that I somehow fall into. But a perfect, hard, simple, beautiful plan…just for me.

 He LOVES me. HE loves me. He loves ME.

And that was Nick’s message. Almost 200 people accepted Jesus as their personal savior this morning after hearing Mr. Vujicic speak. It was incredible. J just kept saying “wow!” It WAS “wow!” I don’t think it is in my future to speak to a room of thousands, or even to reach the hearts of hundreds for the Lord with my wit and testimony. But, I do know that whatever He deems, will be. If He can shine His glory through a limbless man to the giant crowd at an affluent church, I suppose He can use my tiny life to break hearts, too.

So, as I sat in this giant room holding so much of my past, staring at the most beautiful face of my present and considering the possibilities for my future…I felt abundantly blessed.

Proverbs 16:9, Matthew 6:31-33,

She calls me Mama

I finally had that moment that every new mother dreams about from the second she sees the two pink lines on the First Response! It took 16 1/2 months, but it happened. It hasn’t happened again, but IT HAPPENED!

She called ME “mama!”

I know, I know…in my motherly sense of pride I have claimed that “mama” was, if not THE first word, it was one of them. And, I suppose that is true. Mama the ball, mama the dog, MAMA the food that she wants more of, mama the Dada, mama the syllables she is screaming at the top of her lungs as she protests nap time….All these “mama’s” counted to me. They counted because I am with her for 24 of 24 hours in a day. They counted because I am the one that continually does the diaper laundry and comes up with creative ways to make raisins, orange slices and sunflower butter into lunch. I am the mama who annoys myself with “no-no’s” and “don’t touch that’s” and I am the mama who is always searching for new phrases to replace them. I am the mama who cuddles her through teething fevers and I am the mama who entertains her with silly dances when we hit the 4 pm wall. I am the mama who took her to doctor’s appointments and had to hold her down while the lab coat man drew her blood for the ump-teenth time. I am the mama who held back my tears as she looked at me searching for why I would betray her. I am the mama who had to tell those big, pleading blue eyes “no, baby, I can’t nurse you” when we were prepping her for two days before her colonoscopy. And I am the mama who hugged her daddy, sobbing, as we waited for our nightmare to be over. I am also the mama who was waiting on the other side for her with a big smile and a warm embrace. I am the mama who got right back to the routine of things as if none of it had ever happened. This mama wipes snotty noses, poopy hineys and sticky high chairs about a 100 times a day. I am the mama who has scoured books, websites and wiser mama’s opinions for answers to sleep issues, feeding issues and milestone issues. I am the mama who has cried herself to sleep thinking I was doing a horrible job and I am the mama who, on occasion HAS been doing a horrible job. I am also the mama who does a great job! I sing songs and read books and create imaginary mermaid pools in the backyard.

I, like every mama before me, do these things because it is my job. I love it and I hate it. I am the master of it and I am a total apprentice, all depending on the day. I play, discipline, laugh and bite my tongue with absolute frustration every day. And every night, when she has been in bed all of ten minutes, I miss her. This is because I am her mama.

And today, as if affirming finally that she recognizes who I am to her, my tiny girl called me by name. Of course, in pure Chuckles style, it wasn’t TO me, but rather to a photo of 20-something me. I find it so ironic that the photo of the girl she recognizes as “Mama” didn’t even WANT kids, let alone for anyone to call her “mama.” Now, here I stand today squealing with joy and wiping tears from my eyes that my kid KNOWS me!

So, I guess today I get to join the ranks of all the other crayon-drawing, dinner-cooking, block-building mama’s who are so blessed to be called by name. I like it!


Sisterly Love

Hfoe and I have had THE conversation exactly one time. We beat around the bush and make innuendos, but actually laying it all out there? Just once. And the result of that conversation was that we would revisit the topic again at a later date. The exchange I am talking about is of course the “do we want to give Chuckles a sibling” conversation.

I think we are so conflicted because of how head over heels in love with this kid we are! On one hand we can’t imagine that it would be possible to love another little being as much as we love her. But, on the other hand, if we love her this much, how amazing would it be to have two? Logistically speaking, two scares the bejeezus out of me. One screaming, pooping, destructive, dog-chasing, food-throwing, NON-SLEEPING kid? Bring it! Continent hopping, shopping, eating out, navigating air travel, packing, road trips and creative play with and for one? I got this! Sleep training one? Well, I still haven’t figured it out, but I haven’t gone completely insane yet!

Plus one? Forget it. You might as well board up the house because I know for sure I would never be able to leave. I picture my eyes with bags deep enough to pack my closet and my house in a constant post-hurricane state. Chuck would surely be neglected and I bet I would leave the new baby at a store on the one outing I actually manage because I forget in my sleep-deprived condition that I even HAVE two kids!

This manic fear is interrupted, though, on days like today. Today was a day that I need every now and then to remind me that siblings are the best gift any parent could give to any kid.

I am the oldest of five kids…kind of. I was raised as both an only child and as the oldest in a large family. Divorce and blended families will do that. Through pain and confusion often come major blessings. My blessings were born in the form of three brothers and a baby sister. When I was 12, my one full biological brother, D, moved to my dad’s house for good. So, from that point on, at mom’s, I was it. Only Child status had it’s perks! No sharing, kid brother stink, noise or pesky annoyance when my friends came over. But, it was also lonely and quiet. I had no one to conspire with on a daily basis or commiserate over shared grievances. I always got to watch what I wanted on TV, but then there was no one there to laugh with at the cartoons I always chose.

At dad’s it was a different story. It was noisy and busy and usually someone was annoying someone else, mostly ending in tears. I rarely chose what we watched on TV or what we had for dinner. BUT, it was the farthest thing from lonely! My littlest siblings thought I was pretty cool because I was so much older and I became like a second little mama-ish. I enjoyed changing diapers and making bottles and I learned how to do it all well!

Because of the fact that I was so much older, I felt a little outside the box for years. I had siblings, but not the traditional sibling experience and relationship. I could relate to friends’ conversations about having to share and teasing with their brothers and sisters, but not necessarily about their close, intimate, silly, evolving relationships with their siblings who were close in age and with whom they shared a home growing up.

That is, until the last few years! I am 30 and May is 17. We live 2000 miles apart and talk a few times a month, but she is one of my best friends! When she came to visit last year, we both sobbed when she had to get on that plane to leave. When I visited last month, we had a girl’s movie night where we giggled and cuddled and sang along to “Pitch Perfect” all while my little Chuckles laughed at us like we were crazy! Today we had one of those silly, nonsensical text conversations that would really mean nothing to anyone but us. And I loved it. It made my heart smile to know that I have a best friend who shares my blood…never mind the 13 1/2 years between our births. My brothers are just as amazing! We can all come together after not seeing each other for months and it’s like no time has passed at all.

I want that for Chuckles. I want her to have built in buddies. I want her to know that no matter what, she has someone she can give a knowing glance to from across the room at Christmas dinner and they will instantly “get it.” I want her to have the closet-raiding, toy-stealing, annoying-the-crap-out-of-her experience that I didn’t have growing up, along with these amazing adult confidant relationships I have now with my siblings. I guess Hfoe and I have to have THE conversation again at some point. Just…not yet.