Is two kids easier than five kids?

My husband took 3 kids with him on a mission trip this week. You math wizards know that means I was left with 2 kids. Two! It takes more letters to spell it than there are children! I have that many hands! Do you know what that meant? I'll tell you what it meant.

It meant only counting to two at the park.
It meant we fit as the "extra" on a friend's museum membership.
It meant only brushing teeth for 4 minutes.
It meant only buckling 1/2 a carseat all week ("I buckle my top! I do it!")
It meant only finding 4 shoes before leaving.
It meant fewer than half of the fights.
It meant only 2-3 different requests for meals.
It meant bringing one sleeve of graham crackers and 1 container of blueberries as an entire snack.
It meant I could take them for ice cream and not spend over $10 OR lose my mind.
It meant driving my little car and not my minivan-mom-mobile.
It meant I could say, "You'll get the next turn," Every. Single. Time.
It meant that several times this week, they were both occupied and I could actually get things done.
It meant I only had to sweep once.
It meant 2 loads of laundry.
It meant I had the energy to cook and clean.
And, it meant I had less to do in order to cook and clean!

#3 got the special cone because it was $1.50 difference instead of $1.50 x 5!  And that face on #5? That pretty much describes how I felt all week. "Look at this! Two kids!" 

I'm not saying it was EASY, but it was definitely loads easiER. (It might not have been if I had been thinking about them growing up with just the two of them. I really love that they have 4 friends for the rest of their lives.) I still was exhausted at bedtime, still said, "Mommy can't take any more questions right now!," and still thought, "SERIOUSLY?!" at least once a day. Parenting is never easy, be it one or fourteen kids. 

So, I came up with this fabulous idea. It's not that two kids is easy. It's that two kids is easier when you're used to five kids.  So, how do you get that when you've only ever had a few kids? Read on.

Here's the deal. For a low, low price, (yet to be determined, but probably equal to two weeks of a hotel + meals for the hubs and I), you will spend two weeks at my house, and take care of my 5 kids. It must be two weeks because that is what is required for a good vacation you to fully reap the exhaustion benefits of having five kids! You will be responsible for (remember to take your usual workload for your number of kids and multiply it accordingly):

  • feeding them all healthy meals (which includes meal planning and grocery shopping - don't forget the wine!) (P.S. Every single one of them eats like a horse!), 
  • bathing them all daily 
  • making sure they're all buckled up correctly when you 
  • take them on multiple outings each week, 
  • brushing their teeth every night (just checking the oldest two! bonus!) - 2 min each!, 
  • refereeing fights, 
  • keeping a mental count of who's turn it is on video games, 
  • and when they have to stop playing,
  • letting them snuggle and climb on you, especially when you're trying to do something,
  • making sure they get enough time outside, despite outside temps in three digits everyday, 
  • reading to them (sometimes different stories for each one), 
  • trying to understand Pokemon and Minecraft, 
  • and carrying on endless conversations about them,
  • choosing movies that make everyone happy (ha! it's a trick! doesn't exist!)
  • and doing all their laundry 
After these two weeks, you will return to your own home, grateful for the lightened burden of however many kids you have! You're welcome! 

Who wants to sign up? Did I miss any of the requirements?

I Need to Apologize

Thanks to a Facebook comment from a friend, I realized I need to make an apology about my negative attitude towards Christians and The Church, particularly the American groups of those.

I didn't realize I had been negative, so when she called me on it, I was a little shocked. I knew that I have been disenchanted lately, and upset lately, but I didn't think I had been overly negative. I wondered how much of my negativity has been on Facebook or other public scenarios, and how much of it had been on my couch. Did it even matter? So, I began to think: Is there a deep negativity inside me towards Christians?

As I introspectively brushed my teeth, I realized, yes. Yes, there is something there. And I realized it was anger. I am angry. I am angry that I was nearly 30 years old before I realized that Jesus wasn't a Republican (that's embarrassing to admit). I didn't think that Jesus was literally a Republican, but I believed if He were alive today, He would agree with the party line (that's not less embarrassing, but maybe more understandable?). I am angry that I spent so many years thinking that the only clear way to heaven was through a Southern Baptist doctrine, and that I thought I was very progressive for thinking that other denominations could go to heaven, but they'd have to not really believe some of their doctrines (that's embarrassing to admit). I'm angry that I spent years believing that bad things happen to people because of something bad that happened, even if I never articulated it into thoughts. I'm angry that I thought myself better, more intelligent, than the Calvinist who told me that aborted babies would fulfill their predestination, but tried to shrug off my conscience when I wondered how God would send entire people groups to hell because they'd never heard of Jesus (again, embarrassing). 

I thought and thought, and while there are a few individuals I'm angry at, the first and foremost is myself. I am the one who cobbled together those beliefs. I am the one responsible for the conclusions I made. 

I thought, "What is my goal when I share things like this or say things like that?" I know that my ultimate desire is to remind Christians of our origins of loving God and loving people. I want people to see Jesus the way He represented himself - as a servant, a compassionate man, a lover of all people.When people think of Christians, I want them to think less and less of people like Pat Robertson and Phil Roberts and more and more of people like Jen Hatmaker and Pope Francis. But, do my methods match my goal? 

Very quickly, I realized, no. My methods this week were exactly the method that I find so bothersome: post something on Facebook, and pretend it tells the world something they didn't already know, that they desperately need to know (do I even need to say it? that's embarrassing to admit). Worse yet, read something quickly, think, "Yes! That's what I think, so it's obviously right!" and post it, hoping to enlighten others and bring them to your way of thinking (wow, really embarrassing).  I guess old habits die hard. 

So, I'm sorry. I'm very sorry to have acted that way. Furthermore, I'm (obviously) embarrassed that I acted like such a tool. If that post, or any other even remotely negative post of mine offended you, I apologize. That was wrong of me. I'm still going to work to promote love for all people, and a Christianity that focuses on Jesus and his methods and actions. But I will not do so with anger and negativity. 

It's exactly what irks me about many "movements." Some Christians try to reach and convert gay people by telling them that God is sending them to hell. Some Atheists try to convince Christians by humiliating them with language they don't understand. Some anti-vaccine people try to convince the mainstream by calling them "sheeple." Some medical folk try to convince anti-vaccine people by calling them "Dr. Google." Has this method ever worked? Have we completely forgotten the phrase, "You'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"? I'm ashamed and very sorry for playing a part in that.

As with any hurt, I can't promise I won't react out of anger or hurt or embarrassment. But I can promise to do better, to try harder. That's all I'd ask of anyone else, and that's all I'll ask of myself. I have always felt like the main reason for writing this blog is to struggle publicly. To say, "You're not alone." I've felt a need for this for mothers, for Christians, for teenagers, specifically, but really for everyone. Part of that has to be admitting my faults and wrongs, and asking for forgiveness. That goes with the territory of making the struggle more public. So, that's why I had to write this. I could have apologized to my one friend alone, but I wondered if she was just the only one to confront me about it, and I wanted to make this part of my struggle available for all to see. 

I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I'll do better. 

Another Conspiracy About Frozen

Warning: Spoilers! (if you live under a rock or something, haven't seen it yet)

Most of you have, by now, heard that Frozen is not a beautiful film about real true love, but it is, in fact, a huge marketing ploy to make our children gay.

First off, I believe those people are entirely welcome to their opinion. I believe that we all bring our own bias to everything we encounter. We interpret these things through the lens these biases give us. If you're hyper-focused on how homosexual marriage is ruining America, you'll see gay propaganda. If you're struggling in your faith, trying to sort how the religious zealots claim to worship the same God who keeps telling you to love, you'll see a similar struggle.

So, if we're going to throw around theories that are entirely based on our own biases, I have a new one for Frozen

Elsa's curse is religion.

It's important to note that I'm saying religion. Not a denomination, not a belief, or faith, even. Religion. To me, religion is the rules, the specific doctrines that separate us into factions, the "shoulds" and "should nots." It's the thing that causes us to think we are the only ones who could possibly be right. In short, I think Religion is of the devil.

Near the beginning of the movie, Elsa was just trying to help her sister with her powers, and inadvertently hurts her. If we're honest with ourselves, most of us, at one point, have tried to help someone with our knowledge of their sin, or what they need, only to actually hurt them.

When Anna is taken to the trolls to be healed, Grampa Troll says, "You're lucky it wasn't her heart. The heart is not easily changed, but the head can be persuaded." [this is probably my favorite line in the entire movie]. This is how Religion affects us, when it's deeply entrenched in ourselves, when it's become a part of who we are, it's so hard to remove the negative parts of it. If you take religion, and bury it in your heart (not love, or Christ, but religion), define yourself and your worth by having chosen the right one, it's hard to separate the Lover of the Soul from that Religion. If Religion is just something in your head, it's easier to release, although still difficult. He also tells her that her power has beauty, but that it can hurt as well. I was not shocked by Young Elsa's fearful response. I was shocked by her parents' response though (well, except for the fact that it pushed the plot along). Why did they only see the bad? Why didn't they just teach her to use her powers and control them? Encourage her? Provide safe limits? So many times, Religious parents think that all they have to do is shelter their children, and they'll be safe. Yet, the sheltering itself can hurt, as we see for both Anna and Elsa. Anna leaps into the arms of the first person who accepts her, and Elsa shuns everyone. Our Religion can have different effects on different people. We need to teach and show our children how to work things out about their beliefs. Show them reliable places to look for answers; show them our struggles. We can't rely on others to show us how to define our own beliefs. They don't have our biases. They can't tell us how to think. We've got to figure it out on our own.

When Elsa realizes she "can't control the storm inside," she runs off to be alone, and revels in the beauty her curse/power can create. While it may be harmful to other people, she benefits from her powers. She abandons her community, before they have the chance to abandon her. She realizes it's a part of who she is, and if she has to be lonely to be true, then so be it. I've felt this. I've thought about how I don't want to hurt people with my faith or my Religion (when I was unable to separate the two), so I'll just keep it to myself. If it doesn't hurt anybody else, and provides me with comfort, and the ability to see beauty in a desolate place, then that's enough for me. Still, I sometimes don't let people in, just because I'm sure they'll shun me because of the faith, or lack of faith, I hold inside. I run to my hiding place and say "the cold never bothered me anyway" - I don't need them.

Then, when Elsa sees she hasn't escaped the curse of hurting people, she gets angry and sad, loses all control, and hits her sister right in the heart, accidentally. When all we know is religious rhetoric, and we that's all we have to allow us to relate to people, or to help them, we are unable to actually help them. We can only hurt.

Then, there's a search for true love, which is not in all the places Disney previously told us it would be. In fact, it's found when one person offers her life for another's. Hmmmm, where have I heard that theme before?

Suddenly, Elsa realizes the key to controlling this power is love. She unleashes her love, and uses it to temper her power. When she does this, she is able to use her power to help people, but she's not a slave to the power itself. She can hold hands with her sister again. She's not afraid to touch people for fear of hurting them. She can have relationships. She's no longer lonely. Oh, this! When we let Love temper our Religion, we take it from a big, powerful Proper Noun, and make it into a common noun, religion, available to everyone (can't help it. I'm a linguistics nerd). When we allow Love to flow outward and inward (because Elsa accepts herself in this moment as well), we are not lonely. We don't have to be afraid anymore. (is anybody else singing?)  Now, we can actually help people.

And, the bad guys in Frozen?

The bad guy in the story was not the one who was struggling, but the one who was greedy and deceptive. We see all along that Elsa doesn't want to hurt people. When Hans shows us his true nature, suddenly we see all his actions for what they were. ("I've found my place" ugh! jerk!) If only we had noticed it earlier!

The minor bad guy was the one looking for sorcery and evil, determined to find it even when it wasn't there. (side-eye at people who see gay propaganda in children's movies)

Oh, oh, oh! Have you heard of the huge hit song "Let It Go"? You know, the one with the line "be the good girl you always have to be"? Yeah, there's no way you can convince me that that isn't about being a good, little Christian girl. (Side note: when she lets go of that, she gets to wear cooler clothes! yes, they happen to be more revealing. big deal if you ask me! just more proof, honestly. "I don't care what they're going to say!")

Do I think any of this crossed the creators' minds as they brought Frozen to life? Perhaps. If they've had similar experiences to mine. At the same time, a gay person might think of when they decided to come out when they belt out "Let It Go" in the car. Or, someone who was abused could think of when they finally escaped their torture and chose to move forward. A creator may have felt the words of that song rang true for any number of reasons. That's sorta the point of music, and even movies, to an extent.

Obviously, this isn't going to be a perfect allegory. Mainly because I made it up.

We will always see what we look for. 

Do you have any other crazy interpretations of Frozen?