Thursday, October 28, 2010

My love/hate relationship with the frog

Last week when we were getting ready to go to Atlanta, I was doing some last minute cleaning up (my compulsion to frantically clean the house the day before a trip when I should be packing is fodder for another blog) and noticed our beta fish looking very contemplative near the top of his fishbowl.  Upon closer inspection, it looked like he had been dead for so long that his eyes had rotted out.  I am not kidding when I say I do not care for pets that live in bowls.

The fish belonged to Jack.  I was not mentally prepared for the weeping, gnashing of teeth and inevitable trip to Wal-Mart to purchase a new fish for me to neglect, so I did what every loving mother would do:  I threw the fish away, hid the fishbowl, and said nothing about it.  It has been ten days since I found the fish (who knows how long it has actually been dead) and no one has even noticed that it is missing.  Well, Emma knows, but she's been sworn to secrecy.  Now that I think about it, maybe she found it floating in the bowl.  I was mentally in packing mode, so I couldn't be bothered with fish death particulars at the time.

But this is not about the recently departed bowl dweller...this post is about he-who-must-not-be-named, our Frog of Uncertain Origin.  Will received him/her/it as a birthday gift three and a half years ago.  Actually he just received a frog certificate, which we mailed to Grow a Frog.  Our little tadpole showed up in the mail in a film canister a few weeks later.  We nurtured and fed the tadpole, enjoying all of his little stages of development, never realizing that we had a monster on our hands.  Yes, a monster.  He/she/it has subsisted for years on nothing...we don't feed it for weeks at a time, and yet it lives and thrives.  It resides currently in a fishbowl on our dining room table because it freaks Jack out at night when it is croaking.  I only clean the bowl water when I can no longer see the frog in the murk, because who knows what it might be doing in the unseen depths.  Growing, no doubt, into a Frogzilla that will someday overtake the world.  If you allow your finger to hover over the water, the frog will leap out and try to latch on with its creepy little froggy hands.  Justin says he's seen it jump out of the water and catch a fly that lingered to close to the water's surface.  Are you scared yet?  You should be.

One time last year I was cleaning the frog's water, and as I poured the water (and hopefully, the frog) into a stadium cup, he jumped into the sink, scooted around frantically, and disappeared into the food disposal.  For a minute, I thought about flipping the switch...but I didn't have the heart.  Instead, I stuck my hand in the disposal and blindly grabbed around for the slippery little sucker.  When I am initiated into the Mom Hall of Fame, I think this moment should be on the highlight reel. 

So I love the frog - in the sense that I didn't try to grind him into a bloody pulp in my kitchen sink - and I hate the frog, because he is a freak of nature.  He's probably a clone.  His instructions said he can't live outside of the water.  What frog can't live outside of the water?  He's not even an amphibian.  I'll dress Jack like the frog next Halloween.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stream of Consciousness Blogging

I need to walk around with a notebook in hand, because sometimes I will come up with an idea for a blog entry.  Then when it's time to sit down to the computer, I think, "Now, what was I going to talk about today?" That is me, today.  Will is watching Game 1 of the World Series, Emma is playing Jingle Bells on the piano (never too early, Halloween has almost come and gone), Justin is setting up the Wii downstairs,  and Jack is taking a shower.  Domestic bliss.

Well, it's late so I will just share some pictures from my mother-in-law's garden.  We took her and Gran-daddy K. home from their stay at the hospital last week and spent a couple of nights with them.
Mexican something or other and some roses in the background.  The kind that are hard to kill.  I can't remember their names either.

I think she said this is the "Hot Cocoa" variety.  Seriously! It had a brownish tint.
More mexican something or other with some mums.  It's a good thing this isn't a gardening blog.
Lantana!  I love the stuff.  It's the only thing I have identified so far.
A pink rose.  Don't ask me the variety.  I could make something up if you want!  "Boudreaux's Bottom", perhaps?  That is probably a bad gardening joke.
Hibiscus! Take that, gardening know-it-alls!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top Five Things I Hate...Currently:

Well, if you're grumpy, you've come to the right place.  Forget trying to stay upbeat! postive! empowered!  Come with me and wallow in self-pity.  It is a great place if you like sweatpants, stomach aches from too much ice-cream, and lethargy. 

Last night Will was complaining about having to go to school for the 1, 986, 458th time, and I suggested he remember the verse about not arguing or complaining.

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life …"
--Philippians 2:14-16a

My angel baby husband then suggested, that I, too, could stand to remember that verse.  Well!  I bit my tongue, but let me tell you, I was mentally making a list of some Scripture that he would do well to incorporate into his life!  This little exchange took the whole "spiritual battle" concept to a completely different level for me!  But, he does have a point.  I'm quite the whiner.  Anyway, I think we're supposed to battle evil, not our husbands.  Sometimes I get the two confused.

So where was I?  Oh, that's right, making a list of top 5 things I hate.  That's not complaining, is it?  Alright, it is, I guess.  Well, now I don't have a blog entry.  Here's some things I love instead:

1. Jack waving to me in the bleachers while he's supposed to be playing basketball.

2. Cardinals at the bird feeder.

3. Apples and pumpkins!

4. College football.

5. Fuzzy blankets.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Someone Finally Used the Bidet

When we moved into our house in August, the master bathroom came with an extra plumbing fixture which has since mesmerized our family and our guests; it is a bidet, and since we live in the southeastern United States, I will assume that you are not familiar with bidets.  Well, they're lovely, really; they sit right next to your toilet, keeping it company, and they are for...ahem...washing your bottom.  Apparently the folks in Europe (where bidets are common) were never let in on the invention of toilet paper. 

I would go take a picture of the bidet and post it to help you visualize the scene, but once again, the husband might wonder why I am taking the camera into the bathroom with me.  I'm trying to avoid suspicion.

Having never been owners of a bidet before, Justin and I have been at a loss as to what to do with it.  We have not embraced the bidet lifestyle, so it just sits and gathers dust.  More than one friend has suggested putting some plants in it.  Justin has offered the use of it to friends and neighbors based on a 50 cent admission fee.  I have thought about building some sort of shelving unit around it as a camouflage of sorts.  We are at a loss, or we were, until our 4-year-old niece Maddie came to visit this weekend.

She was using the bathroom frequently and we decided that she might like to try the bidet instead of having her mom wipe such a sensitive area continually.  Justin, my sister (her mom) and I stood around the bidet, trying to figure out how to operate it.  Justin adjusted the water temperature and turned a faucet and wham-o!  we had a water fountain that jetted straight to the ceiling, spraying him in his face on the way up.  We laughed and laughed; who knew bathrooms could be so much fun?  Anyway, Justin got the spray down to a more manageable level and Sam put Maddie on the bidet.  Maddie didn't want us to watch - a girl needs her privacy - but we could hear her giggling while we stood in the hall outside the bathroom.  She loved it!  She said it tickles and massages - her words, not mine. 

So now, the bidet has purpose, a reason to live.  And Maddie wants one installed in her house.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quick! Come visit!

The downstairs is clean.  Well, some of it.  Really, just two rooms, but I am basking in the glory of two clean rooms.  Not just clutter-free, mind you, but dusted and swept and all of the dirty bits thrown away.  Lovely.  And then there is another room in the house which is not clean, technically, but looks like it because everything is put away.  If one child walked through any of these rooms and even thought about putting a book or a piece of paper down, I appeared magically in the doorway and glared at them until they cowered in fear and began cleaning up messes they hadn't even made just to appease me.  Beautiful.  Oh, and the screened-in porch, while not inside the house, is also beautiful.  I have to tell you all of the places that are neat and orderly in case it never happens again.

I would take a picture - we live in a cynical age and perhaps you need photographic evidence - but the time is 10:36 p.m. and I would have to wake my angel baby husband to get the camera out of our room.  Depending on how alert he is, he might question my need for a camera at this time of night.  I do not want to see his sweet angel baby forehead wrinkled in confusion, or hear whatever sweet angel baby words might come out of his mouth, so you will just have to trust me on this.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hospitals = Not Fun

Hello Friends,

I am back from my father-in-law's surgery, which went wonderfully well, I am glad to say.  Justin and I left Wednesday night and came back Friday to enjoy a visit from my mom and my sister and her children.  My sister just bought a Honda Odyssey in anticipation of child #3 who is due to show up in January.  Plus her old Explorer made every trip to the grocery store an adventure - will this be the one when it gives up the ghost?  She never knew what to expect.  So I am glad that she has a gently used reliable minivan, and now she too knows the joy of automatic doors that spring open to welcome her sweet little babies in when her hands are full.  Those minivan engineers are geniuses, I tell you what.

I must admit, I had a twinge of minivan envy when I saw her 60/40 fold-down rear seat (we have the 100% fold-down model), and leather seats! heated, no less! a drop-down DVD player! Navigation system!  BUT I love my old Odyssey; maybe it is not as stylish, but it has seen us through 176,000 miles of traveling safely, so what's not to love?

When Justin's dad was in the surgery, we read and walked around the waiting room and then read some more.  It was a lot of waiting!  Justin's mom met a family whose loved one was getting a heart transplant; they just found out that morning there was a heart available, so there was a big rush to get to the hospital.  Another young girl - college-age, I'd guess - was there with a steady stream of visitors; her mother had suffered a massive heart attack and was still unresponsive.  Justin's mom met a man who had hit his head while running.  A lady taking her kids to school saw him lying on the sidewalk and got out and began to administer CPR.  Someone else came along to help her, and then someone else came and took her kids to school for her.  She rode with this man, whom she did not know, in the ambulance to the hospital, then came back to their neighborhood and started going door-to-door, describing the man and the situation until finally she found his wife, who didn't even realize he had gone running.  Can you imagine? I hope that if I ever am driving down the road and see a man lying on the sidewalk, I will be the one to get out and help him.  What if she had kept going?  He might be dead.

I did not like being in a hospital.  I have always had a lot of respect for nurses and hospital caregivers, but I don't think I could ever be one.  I would probably freak out if there was an emergency, or start crying if someone started yelling at me.  Nerves are very fragile when your loved one is in surgery and you feel so helpless, not knowing what is going on; a lot of people take their anxiety out on hospital staff.  In our case, all is well, and we are thankful.  Justin and I are going back to Atlanta to pick up Justin's mom and dad and take them back home on Thursday.  His dad won't be able to drive quite yet, and his mom's happy place is not behind the wheel of a car going 75 mph on an interstate.  She doesn't even pump her own gas.  So Justin will drive their car and I'll follow in the Silver Bullet (our minivan) and we'll get them back to Alabama, where they belong.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010



I will not be blogging for the next few days.  Justin and I are going to be with his parents as his dad has heart surgery tomorrow.  If you come across this post, pray for him and for us!
Feel better soon, Gran-daddy K!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Camping Con't there a better way to spend a beautiful weekend in early October?  Maybe  watching chick flicks and sipping hot toddies in a beautiful vacation home in the mountains with a few of your girlfriends while Merry Maids and a professional organizer work together to make your wreck of a house into a vision of cleanliness and neatly stacked sweaters?  While you are waiting your turn for a mani-pedi, a gift from your husband because you are so awesome? Yes, yes, I believe that would be better.  But that option was not offered to me, so I went camping.  Yippee! 

At sleeping bag #4,398, approximately two hours after our intended departure time, we seriously considered unpacking the van and catapulting all camping-related gear into the bed of the pick-up truck, but instead we just kept shoving and throwing things on top of the already buckled-in kids until there was only a minimal pile of unimportant stuff left forlorn in the driveway.

We drove up the mountain up a crazy curvy hwy 80 which I can't recommend to anyone prone to motion sickness and got to Black Mountain Campground right before nightfall.  Our friend had secured three spots all in a row for our three families, so we set up tents and thought longingly of supper.  We set up our little two-man tent for the kids, ate some hot dogs and s'mores and remarked at how much we loved a campfire.  I do love a campfire, my friend, and the brisk mountain air felt deliciously cool in my lungs.  We were loving it!  Even Jack the Anxious enjoyed playing UNO by lantern-light and burning marshmallows to a cinder, pawning them off on me.  Everyone knows moms like burnt marshmallows the best.

The Saturday morning wake-up campfire

The mob takes to a trail.

The leaves were just starting to change color.

The beautiful and talented Emma
That night our three brave kids slept by themselves in their own tent close to ours.  I took my Unisom, but it did not kick in, and I laid there listening to the owls hoot and waiting for someone to cry "Mom!" in fear.  But all of the pre-bedtime running around in the darkness had worked its magic, and I never heard a peep from any of them. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Tomorrow, we the Kendrick family are going camping in North Carolina with some friends.  We have not camped since we moved to Spartanburg, and Emma is very excited about it.  Just Emma.

The rest of us have our various reasons for un-excitement.
Justin:  It requires sleeping in a tent.
Susan:  I would be excited if all of our clothes and camping equipment could magically pack themselves and then set themselves up in an organized manner once we get to the campground.  And the food would magically cook itself, and then the cooking utensils would magically clean themselves.  And when I had to pee at 3 in the morning, a clean bathroom would magically appear in the tent so I didn't have to stumble around in the cold and dark night.  Apparently I want to camp only if Harry Potter is with me.
Will: Two words: College Football.  Are you kidding me?
Jack:  We will be outside.  In the dark.  There will be animals very close by, waiting to pounce.

Jack is seven years old.  He has a few anxiety triggers: fire drills at school make him nervous, he hates Halloween and all things spooky, and he does not like to be outside at night.  Hates it, in fact.  When we eat outside on the screened-in porch at our house with all of the lights on and the living room just a glass door away, he opts to eat inside by himself in the kitchen.  He will come out only to ask us to come back in with him.  Crickets chirping happily in the night freak Jack out, so the idea of raccoons or - dare I say it - bears tromping around in the wilderness, looking for something to eat, sends his little anxiety meter right through the roof.  He asked if there would be bears and frankly, we can't rule bears out, so we just said we doubted it.  Not exactly what he wanted to hear.

Justin and I hope that the fun of sitting around the campfire with friends roasting marshmallows and talking (please, do not even think about telling ghost stories) will offset the scariness of the Dark Outdoors.  He is seven, after all, and getting a little bit braver every day.  I am bringing some sleeping pills just in case the whole bravery thing doesn't pan out.  One for me and one for Jack.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I want to be Bezalel

It is 4:30 p.m.  In 2 1/2 hours, I will be teaching a study on prayer.  I do not want to.  It makes me nervous.

I keep reminding myself that God delights to use the weak, that His glory is made manifest because I can't do anything in my own strength but all things through Him who gives me strength, but I struggle with my inadequacies.  I want to be very good at something.  One of my very favorite stories in the Bible is when God names two men who are skilled craftsmen to create materials and work metals for the construction of the tabernacle (Exodus 31).  That is who I want to be.  I do not want to be Beth Moore. 

I want to be Bezalel, a behind-the-scenes worker who gives glory to God in artistic design.  I wonder if Bezalel had self-image issues?  I wonder if he ever looked at what he'd done and thought that it wasn't good enough, who was he kidding, thinking he was a skilled craftsman?  I don't think so.  I picture Bezalel quietly confident, working designs into metals and setting stones and carving wood and standing back and praising God through his work.

God can use me wherever he wants to.   Months ago I saw the need for a women's small group in our new church, so I headed it up.  I heard once that the need is not the call.  I can't decide if that is true or if that is just an excuse not to help out.  We can't do everything that needs to be done ourselves, I know, but if you see a hole and you are able and willing to fill it, is that the call?  Maybe it is, or maybe we're all serving miserably in the church because we're not doing that to which our gifts and skills lend us.  I don't know.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Supper: Green Stuff, Chicken, Rice, Carrots and Bell Pepper Strips

Jack tries to pick out the green stuff.

Will shows what he thinks of the green stuff.

I'm not sure what's going on here.

Jack tries to finish the rest of his chicken so he can get down from the table.

Justin shows the kids how to act like a grown up.
Will refuses to eat anymore.  Emma comes to the rescue and finishes it for him.
The family shows what Mama looks like at supper.

Friday, October 1, 2010


This morning I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to a horrifying realization:  I had not put the cold groceries in the refrigerator.  As I hopped out of bed and navigated the dark hallway, I began mentally tabulating how much money it would take to replace what would surely be room temperature food by now.  Here's what I got:
  1. two packages of fresh pizza dough @ $2.79 each
  2. 3 blocks of cheese @ $2
  3. six cartons of yogurt @ $0.50
           Total:  $14.58 worth of groceries.

That made me a little sick to my stomach.

Groceries make me crazy.  I am a reluctant coupon-er; I hate how much time it takes to deal with coupons, but I cannot argue with the results.

So at 4:30 this morning, I looked at the yogurt, cheese, and dough (which was trying to rise right out of its bag), and do you know what I did?  I put it all in the fridge, every last bit.  And fed it to my family today.  So far we all feel fine.