Monday, January 31, 2011

Morning Thoughts

I'm waking up to another quiet morning in our home, and it is rather a nice thing after a busy Sunday.  The children had another spend-the-night party at their grandparents' house last night (Thank you, T. and Big Daddy!).  A friend of mine has a quote on her blog that I am going to have to steal for this morning:  

"Good conversation is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after." 
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh - 

As I was lying in bed after midnight trying to go to sleep that popped into my head.  KJ and I enjoyed a fair amount of stimulating conversation last night, conversations that I then mull over in my mind that spawn new thoughts and ideas.  I like conversations like those, but they do tend to steal sleep.  And THEN, I woke up at 6:30 and found it quite hard to go back to sleep again.  It makes me feel slightly annoyed to wake up early when I have the opportunity to sleep in, but it doesn't stress me out quite as much these days, because James has been sleeping a solid twelve hours every night since the end of September (Thank you, Lord, [and KJ]!).  Since I'm not normally sleep-deprived anymore, a night of less sleep here and there doesn't bother me as much, and for that I am SO thankful.

Yesterday was a really good Sunday.  (The fact that I am saying that is another testament to nights of uninterrupted sleep.)  I mentioned memorizing Philippians earlier, and we are studying  Philippians in Sunday School as well.  I have enjoyed getting to be a regular part of Sunday School again, and I sure do love my Sunday School teacher.  Perhaps I'm partial, but I think KJ is an excellent teacher.  

A recurring theme throughout the first chapter has been love for the church and the importance of forging deep relationships with the Body of Christ.  We've been so blessed in recent months to be able to do that very thing.  A few weeks ago KJ asked the question, "Do you have people that you thank God for and pray for with joy whenever you think about them (Phil. 1:3-4)?  Are there people that you 'have in your heart,' that you 'long for with the affection of Christ Jesus?'"  I'm so thankful to have had several people like that in my life, and I'm so thankful for the people who are filling that need for community right now.  

I've observed to KJ a few times in the past that all the comings and goings of life would be so sad if we didn't have an eternity of uninterrupted fellowship to look forward to together.  I'd be remiss not to close with a hymn.  (Smile.)

Blest be the tie that binds
our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
is like to that above.
- John Fawcett -

Addendum:  I think I really like the phrase, "kindred minds."

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Happy Day

Since I wrote about a day when I didn't feel good, how about a post on a day when I DO feel good?  The kids unexpectedly spent the night with KJ's parents last night, so we had the house to ourselves after our couples' Bible study.  It's so strange to have the freedom to be as loud as you want in your own home.  I don't think we've ever felt that freedom completely because before we had kids we lived in apartments, so we tried to be conscientious about running the vacuum cleaner and playing music late at night.  And as long as we've had our own home we've had kids, so having an empty house at night is not something we're accustomed to having.  But we enjoyed the time alone last night AND this morning.  It was so nice to be able to eat breakfast and read, wash a few dishes and feel ready for the day before the kids got home.  

We had a great morning together and since the day was GLORIOUS took a trip to the playground.  

James spent most of his time alternating between the toddler slide and the baby swing.  Ella enjoyed the swings but for some reason avoided slides today.  She used to love them.  I guess we do become more cautious as we get older.

I didn't get a chance to let Ella take any pictures when we were at the playground (she got busy playing with a new friend), and I was busy chasing after James when he wasn't enclosed in the swing, but I let her take one of James and I when we got home.  I wanted to remember being a part of their day, too.

"Not a bad day..."

A First

Guess who had their first haircut today!  My big almost 16-month old!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Hiding Place

From the outside looking in, today wasn't such a bad day.  It was productive.  I cleaned a bathroom and James' room, played the Wii with Ella, and dressed Mrs. Potato Head with Ella and James.  I don't think I really snapped at my children, and Ella was as good as gold.  Yet, despite checking items off my to-do list and my check-list for being a good mother I felt so dissatisfied most of the day.  I think I was feeling kind of lonely.  I wanted to play and have stimulating conversation.  My mind felt dulled by the endless round of changing James' diaper and fixing him drinks.  (I am not kidding.  That boy drinks ALL day long.  He is constantly whining at me to fix him more "ga-ga," which for some reason means his cup and whatever's in it.  It also just occurred to me that his countless drinking results in the countless sopping wet diapers.)  

Some days it is so satisfying to take care of my home and children, and other days it is so NOT.  I did all the right things on auto-pilot, feeling bad that I wasn't more enthusiastic.  I don't think it showed too much, though.  Ella told me I was "the best mom in the whole world" on two different occasions today, and I enjoyed my time with her but still felt so off all day long.  I guess everyone who has ever been an at-home mom on full-time duty 355 days out of the year understands the dreariness at times and how the sound of a baby crying for the hundredth time that day can make you want to run away in tears.  

KJ's away teaching College Bible Study tonight, so I was putting Ella to bed alone.  Sometimes I have family time with her when KJ's gone and sometimes not.  I was leaning toward NOT having it tonight, but she said, "Let's not forget to have family time," in a very sing-song voice as I was picking up toys in the den, so down we sat.  KJ had bookmarked our spot in the book we're reading last night, so I opened it to find this:

"You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble."
- Psalm 32:7 -

Sometimes when you've had a really rough day, you'd like to find a hiding place.  A place where no one can find you.  A safe place where you can rest.  A shelter from the storm.  Maybe it's in a secret room no one knows about.  Or maybe at the top of a tree in your yard.  Everyone needs a hiding place sometimes...The Lord is your hiding place. With Him you can feel safe from your enemies.  You can feel secure.  He will guard and protect you.  If you are afraid, He calms you.  If you are sad, He lifts you up.  When you feel like you need a safe haven, don't run in panic.  Run to your hiding place, the Lord.
(from "Knowing God" by Stephen Elkins)

I'm glad we had family time tonight.

Splashes of Color

These beauties have been hanging out on my fence and brightening my day.  If it weren't so cold I might sit very still and try to capture them larking about together, but as it is, I took these through my back door window.  I didn't want to startle them.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Just for Fun

Ella had a play-date today with a friend whose mother is a photographer.  She showed me how to do a few things on Photoshop, and making color and black and white layers was one of them.  Don't make fun of me if this is old-school to you; I was excited to learn something new.

It's not perfect, but my children are clamoring for my attention, and I thought I would post it anyway.  I really loved the color of Sandy's roses.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday, Monday

"There are so many responsibilities
on a person's mind when they're
keeping house, isn't there?"
- Anne Shirley,
"Anne of Green Gables"
by L.M. Montgomery

Today's Schedule:
  • Breakfast
  • Play time
  • Bathe James
  • Dress James
  • Snack for James and Ella
  • School work for Ella, Movie time for James
  • Nap for James
  • Snack and Reading Break for Mommy
  • Ella play, Mommy Shower
  • Clean up House
  • Lunch
  • Grocery Store
  • Put up groceries
  • Nap time for James
  • Movie for Ella, Mommy Read
  • Clean up the house
  • Make Supper
  • Clean up from supper
  • Play time for kids
  • KJ come home
  • Clean up the House
  • Put James to bed
  • Play with Ella
  • Family Time
  • Put Ella to bed
  • Work out with KJ
  • Breathe.
Just in case you wondered.  (Which of course, you totally didn't.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Morning Workout

The Problem of Evil

Some friends let me borrow a book I've been wanting to read for a while, Randy Alcorn's, If God is Good.  I've shared some quotes from his book, Heaven, before, and I'm sure I'll have to do the same as I read his new book.  Poor KJ.  Whenever I read a Randy Alcorn book I usually end up rehashing it for him point by point.  But his writing is just so good. There's my excuse.  Plus, he always quotes my favorite authors and books.  I was greeted on the opening page with the following:

"What is the meaning of it, Watson?" said Holmes
solemnly as he laid down the paper.  "What
object is served by this circle of misery
and violence and fear?  It must tend to
some end, or else our universe is ruled by 
chance, which is unthinkable.  But what end?
There is the great standing perennial problem 
to which human reason is as far from 
an answer as ever."
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 
"The Adventure of the Cardboard Box"

As Alcorn put it, "Even the world's greatest fictional detective couldn't solve the mystery of evil."  After reading the first two chapters I am encouraged to continue reading.  Alcorn writes, "Most of us don't give focused thought to evil and suffering until we experience them.  This forces us to formulate perspective on the fly, at a time when our thinking is muddled and we're exhausted and consumed by pressing issues.  Readers who have 'been there' will attest that it's far better to think through suffering in advance."  As one who has been spared much suffering thus far, I think that he is right.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Progress of the Gospel

A couple of weeks ago I joined about 26,000 other people who have accepted the challenge to memorize the book of Philippians in 2011.  I'm not following the exact plan but doing it at my own pace, and I'm happy with that.  It's been a couple of years since I worked on memorizing Scripture, and it has been such a happy return to that discipline.  I'll confess that I was not excited about starting.  I thought, "I don't even read my Bible every day now.  How can I do this?  I can't even finish a complete thought without being interrupted with requests for juice."  But I found it to be just as I expected.  Once I got started, I was so glad that I was doing it.  

So, today I have been adding Philippians 1:12-13 to my arsenal, and I was reminded of a suggestion one of my professors at UM made.  In talking about meditating on Scripture, Dr. Younce suggested thinking on a verse one word at a time as you said it to yourself.  He was actually suggesting it as a good way to fall asleep at night, but I was thinking today that I couldn't help doing that as I tried to remember today's verses.  Muttering the same phrase over and over to myself made meditation easy and natural.  

Now I want you to know, brethren, that my 
circumstances have turned out for the 
greater progress of the gospel...

I had a couple of thoughts.  First, even if Paul's circumstances (i.e. prison) had been different, the gospel was going to progress.  Nothing could stop that.  "The word of God is not imprisoned" (2 Timothy 2:9b).  I also thought about how different these words sounded after memorizing the verses previous and going over them in the same repetitive way.  It sounded like Paul was having an "aha" moment like we do so many times.  You know how sometimes you think, "This isn't what I wanted to happen, but I can see how it's better or how good things are coming out of it."  My second group of thoughts were about the "progress of the gospel" as it relates to my own life.  Are my circumstances effecting the progress of the gospel?  If I really believe that God is in complete control of my every circumstance and that His end goal is that I be "conformed to the image of His Son," then they ought to be.  

Prison was not a happy place to be, and I thought back to a sad circumstance in my own life, and I was happy to find that it had indeed been used for the progress of the gospel in me.  An essential part of the gospel is Christ's resurrection from the dead and the belief that I will follow Him in that, and I thought about when I miscarried, and how all of a sudden the hope of the resurrection got a lot more personal.  I really believe and put my hope in now that because of the resurrection, there's a little boy or girl enjoying the presence of the Lord now that I will get to meet one day.  And I can see that the circumstances of my life turned out for the greater progress of the gospel in me.  And that made me glad.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Thanks, Mom."

Introducing new foods to my daughter has long been a trial in our household.  From the moment it was time for her to start eating table food, meat and vegetables were the bane of her existence.  We overcame the meat hurdle a couple of years ago by bribing her with Hershey chocolate bars.  "You eat your hamburger and you can have some chocolate."  It worked.  She now eats hamburger and chicken and pretty much any meat as long as she can dip it in ketchup.  Last year we tackled cooked vegetables.  We kind of had to use force on this one, but corn goes down without a fuss and sometimes green beans now.  

Last week I told her she had to try three bites of mashed potatoes.  Now, to be fair, Ella has never liked mashed potatoes, but I figure everybody should, and she's just being difficult, so I made her do it.  She made it through the first two bites, but she ended bite three by gagging, and...well, I'll let you imagine what happened next.  Suffice it to say that I decided I wouldn't make her eat mashed potatoes again.

A couple of nights ago KJ was coming in late, so it was just the kids and I sitting down to supper.  I made some hamburger and some green peas that I put on mine and James' plates.  For some reason, I just put hamburger on Ella's plate.  I guess there was a part of me that didn't want to fight the battle, and she had just had some crackers, so I thought the meat would be enough for her.  Ella said good-bye to some friends that had come to play and came to the table.  I was still fixing drinks when she said, "Thanks for not giving me peas, Mom.  This hamburger looks great."  

That sweet girl.  She was overcome with thankfulness to be spared the trial of eating unknown vegetables.  I kind of know how she feels.  I'm really grateful when I don't have to deal with those little things that try my soul.  Aren't you?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Birthday Weekend

A friend told me this weekend that he thought my 29th year would be the best yet.  Perhaps it will be. It is certainly off to a good start.  It was a weekend filled with many celebrations.  It started a day early with the first coat of paint on my dining room wall.  Finally!

My kitchen and dining room walls have long been in need of a paint job.  Flat paint definitely doesn't work in a kitchen where juice and chocolate milk get splattered on the walls.  We really needed something that could be wiped clean.  We're not completely done yet, but things are looking pretty good around here.

Hillary's birthday is two days before mine, and she came into town to celebrate and help with childcare.  We had a good morning Saturday watching It Happened One Night and keeping the kids out of the painting project.  KJ and I enjoyed a night out with my family at the Cheesecake Factory.  It's always so much fun to be together, and it was my first time to eat there.  The Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake was indeed very delicious.

Sunday was a good day at church (made especially so by Hillary rocking James to sleep so that I could stay in the service and listen to the sermon).  KJ preached a short sermon Sunday night so that our congregation could join with others in our city on Sanctity of Life Sunday to listen to the testimony of Gianna Jessen.  Though we would have loved to hear her speak as well, KJ and I went to hear a friend preach his first sermon at his church and enjoyed a sweet time of fellowship there.  The kids spent the night with KJ's parents, so we were free to go out to eat and to a movie afterwards. (Thank you, T!)  It was a really great night.  It always refreshes my spirit so much to be free of motherly duties for a few hours, and not just to be free, but to have a really good time gives an extra boost to my spirit.  By the end of it, I am ready to get my children back, and they have a much happier mommy.

SO thankful for these college students
 (and the ones who left before the picture was taken AND the one taking it)

The celebrations continued yesterday with lunch at the Keith Pugh Seniors. 


SO- a pretty eventful weekend, and I must say I am glad for the quietness of my home today and the return of day-to-day duties, i.e. grocery shopping, laundry, and the like.  There's no place like home.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

You just never know.

Tomorrow is my 29th birthday. Wow. I know that in the big scheme of things, that's not so old. But from the perspective of my 18-year-old self, that was pretty old. I couldn't imagine being that old. I take that back. I'm sure that I could have imagined it, but I never tried.

As I've been approaching the last birthday in my 20s it made me think back to the first birthday in my 20s. I remember it very vividly. I wonder if I would remember it so vividly if events in my life had turned out differently. I wonder this BECAUSE the morning of my 20th birthday was the first day back to school after Christmas break, and when I left my dorm that January morning the first person I saw on my way to my 8:00 class was KJ Pugh. How about that? We were only friends. Not a word had been spoken yet about anything more. But there he was, the first person I saw at the beginning of my 20s, and he'll be the first person I see tomorrow morning as I start the last year in my 20s.

On the morning I was thinking about this I had just heard from some friends that may soon be living close to us. I thought about how 10 years ago as we were starting college together in Mobile, we couldn't have imagined all the events the following years would bring, and then to end up in a completely different place at the same time is pretty crazy. Pretty crazy? Or just the work of the God who "made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:26-27).

I didn't know on the morning of my 20th birthday that by my 21st birthday KJ and I would have been in love for over six months, that on my 22nd birthday we'd be engaged and just a few months from our wedding date, that on my 23rd we'd be living in our first apartment in Louisville, that on my 24th I'd be pregnant with our first child, that on my 25th we'd be making plans to move back to Alabama, that on my 26th...well, you get the picture. Here we are.

And I've just been thinking, we just don't know all the plans God has for us. We don't know where that new friendship may end up. We don't know what wonderful things may be in store, what friends from the past may show up to play a role in our futures. And in thinking about these things I just couldn't NOT think about the season one finale of LOST. If you're not a fan, it's okay to disregard the ending of this post, but I love the way art illustrates truth (I've got some good quotes to share from a book on that topic). The passengers on Oceanic Flight 815 got on a plane that morning having no idea what the next 108 days would bring. And the writers and producers did such an amazing job of illustrating that at the end of the first season. Who is that person that just sat beside you on a plane or that you happened to run into on your way to class? You just never know what part they may end up playing in your life. It's kind of exciting.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Murphy Boys

Adventures in Changing Diapers

Warning:  This post uses potty language.

It's always been an adventure (usually a messy one) changing James' diapers.  Knowing I was having a little boy made me nervous about changing his diaper from the get-go.  My nerves would be on edge waiting to be sprayed in the face, but my fears from that end were completely wasted.  It never once happened.  The few times that it did happen, James only succeeded in spraying himself in the face (and once my freshly painted wall) due to my having his legs tilted back while changing him.  But it was what came out of the other end that should have had me worried.  In those early newborn days I would smell something suspicious and like a good mother would quickly go about cleaning up my baby.  I would wipe that little bottom clean, and BAM!  I would be hit with breast-fed baby, yellow liquid poop EVERYWHERE.  And I do mean everywhere.  Once at 4 a.m. I found myself with a naked newborn on the floor of my den and my couch, rug, and pajama pants covered in poop.  There was only one thing to do at that point: "KJ!!! Help!"  

After the first six weeks things got better.  There were a few blissful months where changing my baby's diaper was simple and commonplace.  Then we reached the wiggle-worm stage.  You know, where your baby wriggles from side to side while you change them, kicking their legs, and rolling over.  I gave him a little grace.  He was learning new tricks; he couldn't quell that desire to move.  After a while it just became ridiculous, though.  Instead of getting over that spell of wriggling, it became an all out battle to change his diaper.  James would holler and carry on, I would holler and carry on.  James would roll over, dragging his poopy diaper with him.  This was no longer cute or acceptable.  Enter leg pops.  "No, no."  Tears of indignation.  How dare we tell him no.  But he has learned pretty well.  He will usually be still, pressing buttons on the remote control long enough to be quickly and adeptly changed.  Don't dilly-dally about it, though.  

Now we have a new problem.  He has dry skin on his lower back, upper bottom area, and every time we attempt a diaper change his little hands go back there and begin clawing himself.  He has horrible red scratch marks.  This can usually be taken care of quickly with only a wet diaper, but guess what happens when the diaper is dirty.  You guessed it.  Hands everywhere, me saying, "No, no," very sternly amidst  James' cries of indignation.  It is a veritable circus.  Ugh.  And yes, I do attempt, and would attempt, to moisturize his back more frequently if only he would be still long enough for me to do it.  You should see how quickly he races from his bedroom after his bath.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Winter Day

However much I might have desired it, the "Winter Storm of 2011" failed to deliver too much at our house.  We enjoyed about 20 minutes of snow fall that quickly turned to freezing rain and ice.  Even though we were denied a chance to play in the snow we did enjoy a quiet day at home together.  I have been completely spoiled by having KJ at home the past three Mondays.  Here are a few of our activities on a quiet day at home.

Ella and I enjoying our few minutes of snow on Sunday

KJ and I are on Day 11 of P90X.  I took a picture of him lifting some dumbbells, but I doubt he would appreciate me posting it, so I'll refrain.  

James built a tower with the blocks he got for Christmas.
He likes to make it as tall as possible and then knock it down and start over.

Ella wanted to pose for a picture.

Ella and I also practiced her reading yesterday.  She read a list of -at words, -an words, -ap words, and -ig words.  I was so proud of how well she read.  The words were all mixed up, and she did a great job sounding them out.

After James' afternoon nap the kids had some snuggle time with Daddy.

We ended the evening with a little playtime at Cinderella's castle.

Today promises to be almost as quiet as yesterday.  KJ went to work, but I'm not sure if we will venture out or not.  I'm thankful for days of quietness like these.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Family Worship

I don't remember exactly when we started having family worship with Ella every night, but I'm pretty sure we did it for the whole of 2010.  "Family time," as we call it, has been really fun lately.  We've been going through a great book KJ's brother and sister-in-law gave to us for Christmas, The Church History ABCs.  It introduces children to people who were important to church history in a fun way and has really great illustrations.  We've been reading two letters a night and are really sad about it coming to an end.  Ella has shown off her impressive memory skills and can tell you that Anne Bradstreet and John Donne wrote poetry, and she especially loves the illustration for John Knox's page:  "Knox, Knox, who's there?"  That is now her favorite joke.  James ripped out Zwingli's page; I'm not sure what kind of statement he was making in doing that.  

Tonight we read about John and Charles Wesley and learned that they wrote over 7,000 hymns.  That caused us to look through The Baptist Hymnal to see which ones were there.  Ella had so much fun looking through the hymnal.  Our search brought us in the way of William Cowper's wonderful poem, God Moves in a Mysterious Way, and we ended the night singing it.  I couldn't help but want to write the words down here for those who haven't read it.  And even if you have it's so good to read again (and again and again).

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
and rides upon the storm.

You fearful saints, fresh courage take;
the clouds you so much dread
are big with mercy, and shall break 
in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
but trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
and scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
and He will make it plain.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Like a Weaned Child With Its Mother

Last night James woke up around 11 p.m. and refused to be put back down.  He stood in his bed, crying and wailing for several minutes.  I decided to try rocking him again, so I picked up his little slobbery, wet self, put him on my shoulder, and sat down in the rocker.  He nestled his little head into my shoulder, and his little body shook every few seconds as he quieted down from his fit of screaming.  I love the way it feels to have the power to quiet my babies just by picking them up and holding them.  As I sat in the semi-darkness rocking my baby my mind wandered to this psalm (or perhaps the Holy Spirit within me directed my mind to His Word?).

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother; 
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
- Psalm 131 -

It is a stress-relieving reminder to still the million questions about the future, the guilt over the day's failures, and every worry in my heart because the LORD is good.  He is in control of the future, His grace is sufficient for me, and He desires that I be anxious for nothing.  He wants me to put my hope in Him, to nestle down at the end of the day and quiet my soul like a weaned child with its mother.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Are you ready to be a parent?

I'm not sure who Brenna Gray Foster is, but a friend of mine posted a link to this note she wrote on Facebook today, and I wanted to share it.  I think these things are especially applicable to parents of younger children, and everyone who has been there before and is living there now can laugh.  It has made me feel a lot better on this afternoon of constant interruptions and repeating every single thing I say to Ella five times.  To those of you who who are not here yet, rest assured that all of these things are true.  

Lesson 1

1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...
1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.
Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...
1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4

Can you stand the mess children make? To find out...
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.

Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.
1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment.
Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7

Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8

1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine- month-old baby.

Lesson 9

Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street , Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking What's 'Noggin'?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 10

Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11

Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

This is all very tongue in cheek; anyone who is parent will say 'it's all worth it!' Share it with your friends, both those who do and don't have kids. I guarantee they'll get a chuckle out of it. Remember, a sense of humor is one of the most important things you'll need when you become a parent!