Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Are You Cereus?

Last night I encountered another one of those moments when I realize just how different my husband and I are. I had so many things planned for my evening. I was going to finish cleaning and pricing toys for a sale, post an entry on this very blog, work on an article I'm submitting for publication, and maybe do some cleaning (okay, knitting!)--all of this after folding and putting away laundry, cleaning up the supper dishes, and getting the kids to bed. At least, this was my plan.

In the midst of the kids' teeth-brushing and the putting on of pajamas, Kevin mentioned that our friends Josh and Katie were going to be stopping by a little later to watch the flower bloom. Huh?, I thought. I had forgotten that Kevin's night-blooming cereus, a strange organism that makes its bloomin' debut only once a year and in the middle of the night, was due to flaunt its stuff that very evening. "Okay," I said, thinking I might actually get more stuff done since he would be out on the porch with Josh and Katie.

A few minutes later, Josh and Katie showed up, and the kids--not yet in bed--got all excited. Still we managed to get the muchkins down, and I headed back to my chores while the other grown-ups headed to the exhibit outside. (In case you're wondering, Josh and Katie knew about the flower because Kevin sent out an e-mail to some folks about it. Only one other person responded, and he said he'd probably spend the evening reading his dictionary instead.) Content to wipe down the kitchen table and make price tags for our gently-used toys, I got to my duties.

And then Kevin came back inside.

He looked at me with those tender hazel eyes of his--the ones I so often neglect to simply gaze into, the ones that speak more love to me than any others--and asked me to please come out and join them in observing this special moment. He promised to help me finish my work the next day, although he had already done so much to help me clean up the house that afternoon (He was thinking ahead!). After an "Are you serious?" look followed by an explanation of all that I had to do--which did not include flower-gazing--, I reluctantly . . . very reluctantly . . . agreed to join them. Of course, I had to finish pricing those last few items before I could really release myself from my task-orientedness for the night.

Once I got myself to the back porch, it took me several minutes to become fully-engaged in relaxation. I get so worked up when I'm on mission! I went ahead and admitted to Josh and Katie that I was out there because my husband wanted me to be (Nothing against them.). "This is why we married each other," I told them. "He makes me stop and watch the flowers bloom, and I help him get things done." Kevin agreed.

The evening turned out to be really nice, of course. And I was glad Kevin made me stop what I was doing, of course. The flower really was remarkable; the company was enjoyable; the conversation was interesting and fun; and my soul was thankful. Oh yeah--and we had cheesecake!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oh, the Drama!

Yesterday Kevin followed through on a threat. He was trying to get the kids to clean up the living room, and of course, they were not excited about it. There was much whining and complaining and "Why do we have to?" (a question to which the answer never changes). We've been noticing that Katie, however, is a bit quieter in her method to avoid the work; she just mills around and tries to look busy without actually doing anything.

So Kevin was really on top of her yesterday. He told her that if she didn't pick up the toys off the floor and put them where they belong that he was going to throw them in the garbage. She just stood there and stared at him with those enormous blue eyes, silently daring him to follow through. And he did. He grabbed up one of the smallest toys on the floor, marched to the kitchen trash can, and disposed of it.

Well, you would have thought that he had thrown a newborn puppy in the garbage, the way Callie began carrying on. That's right--Callie, not Katie. Katie did get to work, mind you, but she didn't seem to be all that bothered by the discarded item. But Callie! She was wailing and accusing Kevin of not caring about any of their toys and how special they are to them, intermixed with barking at Katie, "Well, I hope you're happy!" This was followed by threats of retrieving the treasure from the garbage, even if it meant sneaking out and digging through the trash bag once it was put out by the curb.

We really tried not to laugh at the dramatic rantings by our seven-and-a-half-year-old, but it was hard. Really, really hard. And I'd have to say we weren't completely successful, though we didn't do it to her face. I asked Kevin if we should put a time limit on the theatrical piece, but he said we should just let her get it out. So on it went. (At least she was still cleaning! Granted, it was done in fear of more toys being done away with. But hey--mission accomplished.)

A few hours later--the rantings somewhat forgotten-- we were sitting in the living room with our Small Group (our church). While listening to the discussion, I noticed Callie sit down quietly near me and open up a folded piece of notebook paper. Looking out of the corner of her eye, she made sure I was watching. After she let out a deep sigh, complete with a heave of the shoulders, I decided to give in and ask her what she was looking at. She handed me the piece of paper, while maintaining the forlorn look on her face. Curiously I opened up the paper but then wasn't sure what I was observing. When I asked Callie what it was, she said--forlorn look still in place--, "It's a picture of the baby Daddy threw away." It was so hard to contain my laughter at my melodramatic daughter.

The irony of it all: What had been thrown away was a tiny, tiny (smaller than even Callie's little finger) plastic figurine of a little girl . . . and it was MINE. Oh well. I'll sacrifice an old toy for a lesson well-learned by my children.

P.S. Since some of you might find us to be cruel, unfeeling parents through reading this, I would like to invite you to visit our home sometime. There you can observe Callie's theatrics-- as well as the explosion of a multitude of little plastic toys--for yourself!

P.P.S. Those of you who find us to be cruel, unfeeling parents, I am going to guess, do not have small children and all their toys in your home.


I am really excited today. Kevin is making it possible for me to have several hours alone to work on my writing--something I always want to do but don't make the time/don't have the time/am too scared to do. As I said previously, he is the one who really encouraged me to start this blog, and I admit that it's something I am really enjoying. (Thanks for reading, by the way. It means a lot to me!) This is a good place for me to talk about all the random things that are going on in my head all the time and a good place for me to jot down some of my memories.

We are hoping to make this a weekly event, which is such a gift. I love that Kevin is so supportive of my dreams and does practical things to help me try to realize those dreams. I am also thankful that his schedule is flexible enough to make this possible. These days will be great for him, too, because he'll get to spend a lot of one-on-one time with Katie. And they might even head up to the school to eat lunch with Callie and Caleb. Very fun!

On the way to school this morning, Callie was commenting on the fact that I was going to work on my writing today. She wanted to know why I wanted to do it, and I told her that it is something that I really enjoy and that there are some people who like to read what I write. Then I told her that I would like to try to get published some day, like in a magazine or something. Then she says, "Don't you think it would get annoying to me and Daddy and Caleb and Katie if you become famous?" Ha! I told her she didn't have to worry about that but then asked her to explain why it would be annoying. She said she would get tired of people stopping me all the time to get my autograph. Double ha! I guess I should take it as an indirect compliment, though.

But since all those CRAZY FANS haven't started bombarding me with Sharpies yet, I'm going to sit here at Cups and enjoy my pensive, creative time alone. Thank you for these Thursdays, Kevin!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kirk Douglas

"Depression is caused by thinking too much about yourself. Try to think of others, try to help them. You will be amazed how that lessens your depression. That satisfaction is priceless."--Kirk Douglas

Last week when I was at the dentist's office waiting on Katie, I randomly picked up the latest Newsweek magazine and browsed through it. A biographical article ("What Old Age Taught Me") by Kirk Douglas really struck me--especially the above quote, as this is something I have discovered myself as well. Here's the link to the article. It's worth the read!


Musical Beds

Normally our nights are very peaceful. Everyone usually sleeps soundly all night long in their own beds. However, this was not the case in our home last night.

1:00 a.m.--Katie is crying. I go to check on her and discover she has wet the bed. I clean her up and change her clothes, pull the sheets off her bed, and put her in bed with Caleb.

3:00 a.m.--Callie gets up to blow her nose and isn't quiet about it.

3:30 a.m.--Callie gets up again to blow her nose and then comes to report that she doesn't feel well. She gets in bed with Kevin and me. We're too sleepy to tell her to do otherwise.

3:45 a.m.--Caleb comes to me crying that Katie is in his bed. I tell him why she's there, and he cries more, because he doesn't want Katie to tee-tee in his bed. I assure him she won't, but he says he can't sleep with her in there. So I go get Katie (who is, in fact, sprawled out all over Caleb's bed!) and put her in Callie's bed, since Callie's now in our bed, and Katie's sheets are wet.

4:00 a.m.--Kevin says that Callie is burning up with fever. I go to get some ibuprofen for her.

4:05 a.m.--Since three's a crowd in our bed, Kevin gets up and moves to the couch. He isn't thinking clearly enough to remember where to find a blanket, so he covers up with all the pillows on the couch.

6:00 a.m.--Kevin's alarm goes off. He's still on the couch. I turn off his alarm and am thankful that I still have a few more minutes to sleep.

6:55 a.m.--I wake up and discover that my alarm never went off, and now I'm running late in getting Caleb to school on time!

7:30 a.m.--Caleb wonders why he is the only one going to school today.

I'm glad these nights are few and far between. I'm beat!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Little Girl Baby

Just before Callie turned one, my mother gave her a baby doll, and that doll has consistently been Callie's favorite. Her name is Little Girl Baby. (Callie, like her mother, is very "call it what it is.") This doll has endured a lot, like Callie's gnawing on her little plastic hands, but she has also been well-loved. She sleeps with Callie nearly every night, and she goes on all our trips with us.

Last week Callie did something very meaningful. She asked Katie if she would take care of Little Girl Baby while she was at school. Since Katie knows how special LGB is to Callie, she felt quite honored that Callie would ask this of her. She immediately took the doll carefully in her arms and cradled her, smiling as big as she could. Callie knew that this meant a lot to Katie, that it was showing her little sister that she loved and trusted her . . . and that it would give Katie something to do while her big brother and sister were at school. I was really proud of Callie for being so thoughtful. And I was proud of Katie for being such a loving aunt. She made sure to feed LGB, put her down for a nap, and play with her. She even took pictures of LGB with her cousin, Baby Charlie.

This morning before she left for school, Callie swaddled LGB in a tattered pink blanket (the one Callie has had since she was born and which is now really just a pile of pink thread) and handed her over to Katie to care for for the day. It was very sweet.

It doesn't seem like it's been that long ago that my sisters and I were taking care of our own baby dolls and handing them over to their aunts for babysitting. I can remember some of the favorites. Julie had Linda, who had to be treated with extra care, since she was an old doll and could fall apart at any moment. My favorite was Alisha, a baby who had velvety skin and pretty blue eyes that opened and closed and had stiff black lashes. I guess I don't particularly remember Christy's and Laurie's favorites. We all took care of them, though. We would take them for car rides, using the couch as our car. I'm pretty sure Julie always got to drive, since she's the oldest. Many times we ended up at Claire's Restaurant (a.k.a. my mother's kitchen) for dinner. Once we even held a doll show in our backyard. We invited the other girls in our neighborhood to bring their dolls, and my grandparents were the judges.

Today my sisters and I live in four different states, but we still love on and take care of each other's babies. We call each other when we're feeling frustrated or worn out from motherhood and no longer have the luxury of putting the babies down to go play something else whenever we feel like it. We now pray for each other as we are raising these little ones, who don't stay little for long. We also like to tell each other's kids what their mommies used to do when they were little, which usually gets a few giggles. And of course, we like to point out to each other when our children are acting just as we did . . . or still do.

Being an aunt, whether it's to a baby doll or to a real live human being, is a big responsibility. I'm glad my girls are practicing now, and it's fun to imagine how they'll be with their own real babies one day. Of course, that would mean I was a grandmother . . .

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Most Important Day of My Life

Below is an essay that I just sent off to a contest in Real Simple magazine. The instructions were to write about one of the most important days in your life and how it affected you. I hope you enjoy it . . . and I hope I win.

The Most Important Day of My Life
By Carrie Bevell Partridge

The date was March 5, 1975. I don't remember what the weather was like that day or if anything particularly interesting was happening in the world. I do know that it was my grandfather's 50th birthday and that my dad was wearing a maroon warm-up suit. He had been running a basketball practice, but he came as soon as he got the news. I don't recall whether or not my sister Julie was there when it happened. My mother was close-by, though, and was crying. Everyone gathered around me in the sterile hospital room. I lay there naked, unsure, and scared. I was quite traumatized by the incident and was completely unable to talk. All I could do was cry. I didn't recognize anyone at the time, yet they all seemed to know exactly who I was. I was being poked and prodded by nurses, and they worked carefully to wash the blood out of my hair. I felt cold, and the lights seemed too bright.

I had been pushed. It wasn't an accident either. While everyone seemed confident that I was going to be okay, I wasn't so sure at that moment. Even my mother, through her own tears, assured me that everything was going to be alright and that she loved me very much. It took some time, but after observing everyone's smiling faces, I started to feel better about the situation. Though still unable to speak, I managed to blink back some tears and try to familiarize myself with my surroundings. It all looked and felt so strange. What had happened to me? One minute I was safe and warm and content, and the next minute I was thrust into a state of shock and confusion. What had happened? I was born.

Since that traumatic day more than 33 years ago, I have come to be grateful for it. I have even forgiven my mother for pushing me. After all, that day was just the beginning of an amazing journey. I have come to understand that had I not experienced the tribulation of the birthing process--literally being pushed out into the world--I would never have been able to experience all the joys and pleasures of this life, including pushing three of my own babies out into the world! I would never have known the beauty of a sunset, the joy of a good belly laugh, the serenity of a rainy day, the delight of friendships, the satisfaction of a good meal, the splendor of the mountains, or the sweetness of my husband's love. Granted, I also would never have known the pain of a heartbreak, the fear of being rejected, the disappointment of a dream that didn't come true, the frustration of injustice, or the grief in the death of a loved one. But these are all part of this life, too, and even the hard times play an important role. If nothing else, they help us fully appreciate the beautiful moments when they do happen. And they do.

If I had never been born, I never would have known how great it is to have lots of siblings and that those same sisters and brother I once fought with would later become some of my very best friends. I never would have heard the marvelous stories Granddaddy tells about growing up in the Bronx or about playing minor league baseball or about when my great-grandmother was scared to death the first time she saw an automobile (She thought it was a monster!). I never would have known how wonderful homemade ice cream is, especially after watching my grandfather labor over its making--back in the days when you had to crank it by hand. I never would have experienced the joy of learning to do things for the first time--walking, riding a bike, driving a car. I never would have seen that I'm like my mother and my father. I never would have played sports or learned to cook or write or sing. I never would have met Kevin Partridge and had three beautiful children with him. I never would have taught Callie to read or Caleb to work a puzzle or Katie to play dress-up. I never would have known how fun it is to travel and see other parts of the world and other cultures. I never would have known that knitting can be so creative and so therapeutic at the same time. I never would have known the healing effect of a hug or the power of kind words. And I never would have had the pleasure of serving God on this earth . . . had I never been born.

Now that I've been here a while, I wonder how the rest of my life will impact others. I can already see how it is affecting my family (Admittedly, it's not always good.), but I may never know how much a smile and a thank-you can mean to the lady at the check-out counter or how leaving a good tip says just as much about me as it does about the waitress who served me. Even the people standing around each of the gas pumps, as we're all filling up, can use some encouragement (especially at these prices!). Each of us leaves a legacy, and it's not just for our children. We leave traces of it everywhere we go and with every person we encounter. Now I'll be the first to admit that I am not always thinking of others before myself. In fact, I battle my selfishness daily even when serving my own family. However, each time I do consider others' needs and then act on it, I am always rewarded. I find that on the days that I am feeling down or depressed, if I will just do something to serve another human being--to really think beyond myself--that my spirits are lifted and things are put into better perspective. After all, this life is not just about me, and living as if it were will only lead to a great feeling of emptiness.

Every Christmas season while we're decorating our tree, my family and I watch It's a Wonderful Life. We snicker at some of the scenarios Clarence reveals to George--like that everyone is very mean or crazy or in jail and that Mary is a homely-looking spinster, all because George Bailey was never born. But it does make me stop and think about all the people I have touched in my lifetime, whether I realize it or not. I also consider the many roles I have played in my life thus far: daughter, sister, niece, cousin, granddaughter, aunt, wife, mother, student, employee, teacher, hostess, friend. Each of these is important, and each of these has provided an area of influence for me. The influence may be very simple, but it is there just the same. And on the days when I question my significance in the world (which can happen quite often in the life of a stay-at-home mom), I try to remind myself that God created me for a very real purpose. That purpose may not be to find the cure for cancer or to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and I might not receive a lot of recognition for my contributions, but they are a purpose and contributions that have been designated for me.

There have been many wonderfully significant days in my life--my wedding day, the days my babies were born, the day I decided to follow Christ--but the day of my birth started it all. I have heard the story of that day pretty much every March 5th since 1975, because my father recounts the tale, always beginning with, "Let's see. Fifteen years ago today . . . " (Obviously, the number changes according to my age.) He says that the details have become a bit hazy over the years, but I still like to hear it. It reminds me that my birthday truly is a day for celebration. I shouldn't moan that I'm another year older; I should rejoice that I have been given another year to live!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


My Katie got her very first haircut today, exactly one month before her fourth birthday. I have received many threats in the past about not cutting her beautiful hair, and many of those threats came from people not even related to me. Admittedly, she does have gorgeous hair. It is very, very blond and has beautiful loose curls and naturally swoops down across the left side of her face. Unfortunately, those curls have started to look stringy, and she hates having her hair brushed because of all the tangles. And then there was the green factor on the ends of her locks from all those hours at the YMCA swimming pool this summer. Yeah, that had to go.

My sister-in-law Jessie did the honors this morning. She required written consent from Kevin, though, because she knows how much he loves Katie's hair. Very funny. Katie sat very still, tuned into The Jungle Book DVD, and she grinned. She was excited about getting her first haircut. Earlier this morning, as we were saying good-bye to Callie and Caleb, I announced, "Everybody say good-bye to some of Katie's hair!" They all giggled and started waving, and then Caleb proceeded to kiss her curls. Very sweet.

Thankfully, the curls are still there, and her hair is still beautiful. She was very proud of it, just as she was very proud of her first visit to the dentist yesterday. My Goldilocks is growing up so fast.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Button

I'm gonna find it one day. The button, that is. It is hidden mysteriously somewhere . . . on my toilet seat.

I know that's crass, but it seems to be true. Somewhere on my toilet seat is a button that triggers an alert all throughout the house. An alert that says, "Warning! Warning! Mom has once again attempted to have a few moments to herself. Everyone drop what you are doing immediately and proceed to the bathroom door. Once you are there, you are to knock incessantly, call out 'Mom?!' no less than twelve times, and ask her if she can see all of your fingers and/or toes underneath the door. If the phone rings, you are to answer it and exclaim to the person on the other end of the line that 'Mommy is using the potty.' Then giggle. You must then wait right outside the door (preferably blocking the door) until she reemerges. This is your mission, should you choose to accept it. If not, don't worry--someone else will."

I lie to you not. This happens every single time I go to the bathroom. Okay, almost every time. In fact, there are many times when I test the system. I will wait until all three of my children are quite engrossed in a video, then tip-toe quietly to the back of the house, close the bathroom door, hesitate for a moment, and then think to myself that I have finally outwitted them all . . . only to be jerked back into reality with the sound of "Mommmmmmmmyyyyyyyy" coming down the hall. Good grief. I have even tried the no-nonsense approach of making the announcement, "I am going to the bathroom now. NO ONE follow me." That didn't work either.

Those of you who are mothers know this to be true, don't you? And those of you who are now grandmothers cannot resist the urge to laugh uncontrollably as you recall us doing the same thing to you thirty years ago. Go ahead and laugh. I'm going to look for that button.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Time for School

Well, the inevitable happened. My second baby started kindergarten. I did well, though; no tears this time. When Callie, my first-born, started school, my husband and I stood there bawling while we watched her wait patiently with the other littlest students to be taken to their classroom. You could tell she was confused, since we had been assuring her how great this was going to be! And it was. We were just overcome with the fact that our little girl was growing up so quickly. Hadn't we just brought her home from the hospital???

This time it was Caleb's turn to enter the big, bad world of elementary school. He was pumped, though, and so was Callie. Now she wouldn't be the only one going "out into the world" everyday. She was excited about showing Caleb the ropes. It helped, too, that Caleb has the same teacher that Callie had, so Callie knew all the right questions to ask him about his first day. All these things put our minds at ease a little bit, especially when Caleb came home and was excited to show us his work and made sure that I signed all the papers I was supposed to sign. He even announced, "I'm used to school now!" We're hoping that enthusiasm will last!

Meanwhile, Katie and I are at home by ourselves. She's already asking when she'll get to go to school. I'm trying not to take it personally.

First of Many (I Hope)

Well, here it goes. I am entering the world of blogging. It's a little scary but mostly fun and exciting, I think. I hope to share what's on my mind and in my heart about a wide range of topics, even if I'm the only one who reads it. Okay, Kevin has to read it, too. He's the one who encouraged me to do this anyway.

You see, I would love to be a writer when I grow up. I've tried only a handful of times to get published in magazines. So far it hasn't happened, but I've received very nice rejection letters. So this blog can be where I practice and "hone my craft." It will also be a good way for me to journal, since I basically haven't done that since sixth grade. Undoubtedly, many of my posts will involve stories about my children, since I am a stay-at-home mom, so you other moms will be able to read and relate and laugh or cry in understanding.

Thanks for humoring me by reading!