The amoebas are lovely under here

Judging by the comments, I perceive that you also like to talk about poo. And potty training. Thanks for all the comments, and Mom, don't think I don't know who you are just because you posted anonymously. (Your ideas are great, by the way.) I think that my real problem is the beans. The beans are something which I will forever regret. Oh, the beans.

We don't eat much candy around here. I'm just not into giving my kids a lot of sugar, and I love that they love fruit so much. (If you want to see them in complete and utter joy, just hang around while we are eating mango. Come to think of it, I'm in complete and utter joy when I'm eating mango.) However, I'm also not into being an extremist, so one exception I make to a no candy rule is birthday cake. I usually end up decorating the kids' birthday cakes with candy, since it's colorful and easy and fun. So, I had a little baggie of Jelly Bellies left over from YaYa's birthday, which, yes, was eight months ago. Obviously I'm not the biggest fan of candy myself, since that little bag of candy was still hanging around.

Anyways. I started to use the Jelly Bellies as rewards for potty success. Part way in, I realized that YaYa was getting a little more sugar than I normally like to give her (I realized this when I found her walking upside-down on the ceiling) and by that time, her little friend Bria had become addicted to the "beans" as Bria started calling them, too. Whenever Bria would come over to our house, she'd run to the toilet to pee, and then ask for a bean.

I wasn't happy with what I had done, so I just let the beans run out, and then replaced them with these little chocolate cookies that the kids love, that actually have barely any sugar in them at all.

She's holding out for the sugar high. I don't think that the treat bar is set high enough for her now. Ack. Ack ack ack. I think I may have to use a reward like Dora the Explorer undies (Candace's idea) or maybe some stickers or something, because those beans are not making a comeback.


On Saturday I woke up sick. It was a strange sickness, with no symptoms, really, other than the loss of the will to live. And also, a sore throat, swollen glands, achiness, and extra sensitive skin. (Please, someone tell me that they also have extra sensitive skin when they get sick. Chinua thinks that I have some sort of strange neurosis about my skin, but I DON'T.) I pretty much lay around moaning all day.

On Sunday I woke up feeling a lot better, but still yucky, and we had plans to be out for the whole day, leaving at 9:30 in the morning and getting back at around 10:00 at night. One thing that I don't really like about my mind is that my rational self never quite catches up to my raw emotion. So my raw emotion is laying on the floor throwing a tantrum and my rational self is sitting on her sofa, scratching her head and mildly saying, "I don't feel very well. I believe I'm overwhelmed and could really use a day off." I can't hear my rational self, through, because the tantrum-thrower is drowning her out. She's really loud. And crazy, she's crazy.

But, by now I know that this is what Superstar Husbands are for. And mine asked me gently when I was stomping around complaining about how sick I felt, if I would rather stay home with the baby while he took the kids with him, and I couldn't decide whether I felt sad or happy about not going (probably because my raw emotion was shouting in my ear that he was abandoning me and I couldn't hear my rational self stretching on the sofa and smiling while she said, "That's great, that'll be just the ticket,") but I decided to stay. And then they left.

I'll never get over the mystery of why now, at this stage in my life, I still count it as a day off when I have the baby with me. I wouldn't have felt the same if Chinua had left me with Kid A for a day, when Kid A was a baby. That wouldn't have counted in my points chart. But everything is in degrees, I guess, and it shows a certain amount of growth, I think. (Hooray! Growth! She's growing!) Plus, although Leaf makes a lot of noise, he doesn't talk, like the kids do. It's a big difference. It really had been a LONG time, though, since I had had a day to myself. I think that it hasn't happened since early October or maybe even September. Life has just been full, lately.

Which brings me to my point, which is that I think, for me, solitude is a way of getting out from under the microscope. I feel that one of the things that marriage and parenting has brought me is a magnified view of my flaws, a view that I just cannot get away from. As a perfectionist, I am sucker-punched in the gut with this view, while it is possibly the best thing for me. My life lesson is that it is not my effort that makes a difference. God through me can do something lovely, but my own tightly held breath and careful apologies won't even be able to begin. Everyday that I am with my children, my impatience is held before me like a new magazine. Everyday my interactions with my Superstar Husband bring to illumination my anger and my deep insecurity. It is the best thing for me. I'm not sure that I would ever have known the depth of my need without these mirrors, short and tall, all around me. We have our own private funhouse around here.

But it is exhausting. And yesterday I was able to get out from under the microscope and drink some coffee, read a little, watch a movie, wash my floors. I played with my Leaf Baby, listened to a great lecture on cultivating a healthy marriage (which was very inspiring and just what I needed) and sat, and thought, and got better.

Today I am back where I need to be careful of my words, need to keep my attitudes in check, need to be kind and gentle and take care. I will try not to be self-conscious, though, try to look around at the other things swimming around in here, notice that lovely light, that cell, that pattern that the little hairs on the paramecium are making on the walls.