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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Daily Life in Wabo

I have been enjoying reading some other blogs lately, especially this great parenting blog: Up the Spout Again which taught me the importance of a daily schedule, and we have tried to stick to one since reading this interesting article: Flexible Family Schedule.

Here's what our typical Week-day Life Family Schedule often looks like:

- Take big kids to school, 7:05am, just John, while I sleep in until the babies wake up around 7:30
- Feed babies bottles, then breakfast (eggs are not as big a hit as I had hoped)
- Eat breakfast/have Bible study
- Play with babies (otherwise known as giving lots of kisses, allowing ourselves to be human jungle gyms, wiping noses, changing diapers, taking pictures of their hilarity, repeatedly chasing them around the house-indoors and out-, taking away non-toy items, or preventing falls, and saying "No Babies!" and "I Love You" often)
- Give babies bottles, then put them down for first nap, around 11am
- Try to fit in all of this while they nap: pick up baby toys, exercise, shower, eat lunch, do some laundry, prep for dinner, maybe check e-mail/facebook/blogs. We feel like we've accomplished a lot if 2 or more of those things are done before they wake up. If we're totally exhausted, we take a nap during this time, or watch a movie, but that happens less than once a week.

- Feed babies 'lunch' when they wake up
- Try to finish the things we started while they were napping
- Pick up big kids from school
- Give babies bottles, then put them down for second nap (unfortunately second naps don't always occur at the same time as each other - but the days that they do, we are able to focus more on the big kids)
- Enforce/Help with Homework time

- Make and eat big people's dinner
- Feed babies dinner
- Have devotion and prayer
- Chores
- TV/Downtime for big kids
- Bedtime for little kid
- Bedtime for big kids and babies
- John and I have a little bit of alone time to watch TV/play on our computers
- Bedtime for grown ups

All of that happens on weekdays when we don't go anywhere.  It doesn't look like much in a list format, but believe me, that kind of day really wears you out! Wednesday nights we go to church, so we have to be very rigorous about the babies' nap schedules in order to fit both naps in before going to church.  Other nights if we want to take the kids somewhere we usually try to make a big early dinner and then go out afterwards, bringing the babies' bedtime bottles.

Recently, our sweet pastor's wife has been approved to be able to come over and watch the babies for us while we go somewhere, and this has been the biggest blessing!  One day a week she comes over and watches the babies for us so we can get away and do something together, just John and me.  We've gone to Hattiesburg and Laurel most of the time.  It's so extremely pleasant to just be alone.  It's also been exciting to find this little gem of a place - New Yokel in Hattiesburg to buy some organic produce, butter, and other healthy foods.  We've also done a little shopping, since we have been successful in losing weight.  One day we went to an "Asian Massage" store and got rubbed.  I chose a neck massage, and John got his feet massaged until he fell asleep. Oh how we adore our one day away! It's almost like the days before we had kids, or like when we used to have babysitters in Memphis and we could go on dates.  We have to be back in time to pick up the big kids from school, so by 2:40.

On the weekends we do try to plan an outing for either Friday night or Saturday.  Outings are not easy packing the diaper bag full of bottles/food/diapers/emergency clothing changes for the babies, and then having enough room to pack either the double jogger stroller, or both individual strollers.  However, we know the older kids need to do things outside the house too, and if necessary we bring two vehicles so I can leave early to bring the babies home if they are just going balistic.  Sometimes John just takes the big kids somewhere and I stay home with the babies if it their nap time anyway. Our most common outings are going to the Wabo Walmart and surrounding stores, or going fishing at one of the big ponds around here, or going to Meridian, Hattiesburg, or Laurel to the malls in those towns.  A kind older couple at our church told us we could come fish at their pond anytime we want, and it is huge! They also have a 3 tiered building with a roof but no walls (I don't know the official name for this type of structure), that has some porch swings, rocking chairs, and is kind of like a little dock on the edge of the water.  We bring a rug and the babies' play pen and set it up in the middle of this, and I hang out with them while John fishes with the big kids.  The babies can only take about an hour in the play pen though, before they are crying and fussing and Jonah is trying to bite Other baby.  Then I load them in the double stroller and walk them around the lake.

Our boss is interviewing 2 other couples right now to hopefully complete this campus! It would be so nice to run this ship with a full crew! Please pray that goes well.  If it does, they may be here for the summer, which would be much easier than 24/7 with all 5 kids by ourselves.  However, plenty of other moms seem to manage their households well alone, and I have very much enjoyed reading Hello from the natos and Take Heart and Pure of Faith when I get a chance to sit down, during babies' naps, or after dinner and chores.

Yep, I emptied every book from the second shelf!
I can't tell you much about the kids here individually, but please continue to pray for them and their situation.  They have adjusted well to us, however, they would like to go home, or to family. Please pray for their salvation as well. Also pray for John and I to have the right heart attitude about them, even when we would rather lash out in anger, or hide for a moment's peace.

Haha! They're just so fun to play with!
Jonah is a joy.  He's almost walking.  He is taking 2-5 steps on his own, and then just sits down hard on his diaper-padded booty.  He can say dada, mama, dog-dog, and uh-oh in context. He does call most animals dog-dog though he is also learning to moo at the cows, and he blows raspberries at the horses, trying to imitate their snort as we pass on our run.  He gives kisses more freely, although they are open mouthed, he keeps the tongue in, so that's a plus.  He has finally begun to sleep better again since teething.  He still wakes up during the night, but if he's half-asleep I can sometimes just cover him up again, and pat his back until he falls back asleep.  However, if he is standing up in the crib crying, it will require work to get him back to sleep.  If I have enough energy I rock him and put him back to bed.  If I am tired, I just go the easy route and stick him between us in our bed.  He likes that a lot and goes straight back to sleep, and is very cuddly and cute when he wakes up in the morning, giving kisses and hugs.  We followed the "Baby wise" techniques when he was little, but I really think that our highly varied daily routine during his 3-7 months (moving/vacations/starting this job/having some breaks/driving 5 hours rather often) made it difficult for him to develop good sleeping habits.  Then when we tried to transition him to the crib, and started weaning, we tried to teach him to sleep in the crib but every single time he'd scream cry until he threw up and still continued to scream cry, not going to sleep at all, so it just all when to pot.  He goes to sleep with a bottle and being rocked now.

He prefers to stand on the baby motorcycles,
rather than ride them.
The worst part of teething seems to be over and has resulted in 8 teeth now, 4 on bottom, 4 on top. Unfortunately, he isn't a fan of using them to eat, and would rather still have pureed baby food textures than solids (unless the solid is a puff, or something we're eating, which he will crawl over and beg like a puppy to taste). He is a fan of using his new teeth to bite though, which is frustrating, and we are constantly popping his little mouth, saying, "No biting," and moving him away from people when he tries to bite.  Other than biting people, he's usually pretty sweet.  He is very active, climbing on things, pulling everything he can reach off a shelf, off the table, off the couch, inspecting it to see if it looks like food.  If something resembles food he will try to eat it, if not, he will try to tear it apart.  Silence is scary when the babies are awake, and we run to find both babies, because it usually means they are getting into something not allowed. Things in the "not allowed" category consist of them playing on our phones or laptops, pulling out all the napkins and place-mats, or pulling out all of the baby wipes.  This is probably their favorite sneaky silent activity.  Other baby pulls out one and then Jonah pulls out one and they alternate like that until the wipes container is empty.  Once empty, Other Baby tries to eat them, and Jonah tries to pull them apart into little shreds.

Hot, sweaty, and grinding his teeth
Trying to climb into the walker

He loves the Nick Jr. baby TV series "Curious Buddies" and we bought several DVDs from amazon, and he claps and dances while watching them - usually only one every 2-3 days, when we really need him to be occupied, or calm down.  He really loves being outside, and is happy to play on the porch swings, on the ground, or be pushed in a stroller, or his little car, or the wagon. I cannot believe he is almost a year old already.

Some days are easier than others with this job/ministry.  On the worst days, when I feel totally useless, frustrated, and exhausted, I know that at least I am getting to spend time with my precious boy and watch every minute of his growing up. For that, we are grateful and blessed. Although, sometimes it does make us feel like this Parenting small children article.
Looking out the window - favorite staring spot

Monday, April 15, 2013


John rented the movie "Lincoln" from the redbox yesterday.  We began to watch the movie after the kids went to bed, but the babies were still awake and so we had a rather distracted beginning.  (*On an unrelated totally proud mommy note - Jonah is trying to learn to walk, so he kept standing up and we'd try to take a video of him in case he took more than one step!) Then after putting the babies to bed, we were both too tired to focus with all the dialogue early on, so we decided to go to bed and finish in the morning.  This meant that the babies were up and in the way again, so although I feel like I understood the movie, and technically "saw" it, I have to admit to being frequently interrupted and distracted.  However, it really made me think about the Civil War, and to understand more deeply the Emancipation Proclamation, and the 13th Amendment.  I do believe every high school History teacher should include this movie when teaching those subjects (probably over the course of 3-5 days, because they should be stopping periodically to discuss and explain events with the class, keep students engaged, and to foster deeper learning and interaction).

I learned so much more about Abraham Lincoln! For example, I had no knowledge of Lincoln's personal life and during the movie, I spent quite a bit of time researching his family so I could keep up with the conversations he had with his wife (Sally Field does an excellent job of portraying her in the movie).  The poor man!  He had four sons total.  The first son was the only one to reach adulthood.   The second son died at age 4, during the same year the third son was born, before Lincoln was president.  This third son "Willie" was a household favorite, and said to be very precocious and much like his father, only more attractive, and he died at age 11, while the youngest son was also very sick, the first year Lincoln was in office.  This article about Willie's death and funeral is so touching and brings insight to the Father's heart that Abraham Lincoln had.  What great stress this man was under as our nation's president to be enduring the heartache of losing a second child while trying to navigate a war and changing history! Wow! The devil was so actively opposing him that he was taking this man's children.  His youngest son died years after his father, so Lincoln did not have to endure that one.  However, it drove his wife, Mary, almost insane (understandably - the death of 3 sons and your husband has got to be just horrible).

I also had no idea that the 13th Amendment (to abolish slavery) was such a struggle to pass!  I mean, the Confederate states weren't even voting, and it still took so much work to get enough of the Union people to go along with it!  I'm not sure who Tommy Lee Jones played in the movie, but that man was also very wise.  Slavery was so evil for so many reasons on so many levels.  This movie does not depict the evil of slavery at all, but it brought to mind what I know from classes and reading books, and personally researching in college.  Some will say "Not all slaves were treated poorly," but being considered a slave- property - is poor treatment of a human being in my book.  There is a movie about the author of the song "Amazing Grace" that I remember watching, and then the movie "Amistad," and all the great books about the Underground Railroad, and Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth, that share about the horrific experiences many slaves were put through if you need reminding or want to look it up.  Slavery at it's root, was an evil invention of man to put other humans in bondage.  All people now recognize this as being wrong today.  No one argues that we should return to a plantation-run agricultural system and again enslave an entire race of people.  This is not a political issue anymore because people realized the inhumanity, the evil behind it. Thank God! People should not be slaves, forced to work like animals, and treated like machines. People should be treated like people!  This is our history now - but are we already allowing an even greater evil?

As I began to think about how evil slavery was, and how hard some people fought to preserve it, I wonder why the issue of abortion has not caused a greater fight?  Abortion is just as evil and wrong as slavery.  The age of the human should not matter.  Slavery captured a person and made them become property.  Abortion murders a person before they have the chance at life and freedom.  This is a very educational article about what Late-Term Abortions really mean.  This article in USA Today about "late-term" abortion is especially horrific to me.  I don't understand why this is not viewed as just as evil as slavery.  The mindset that a baby in the womb is not a person with rights is so crazy.  I really believe that if abortion was a political issue during the same time as slavery that Abraham Lincoln would have opposed it just as radically, and fought just as hard for abortion to be illegal as he did for slavery to be illegal.  I also believe that many people would agree on this issue and say that abortion is wrong.  However, they aren't doing anything about the flip side of the abortion coin - the orphans who are left.

This is the very hypocritical part of it all.  If you say "Do not have an abortion," then you should be saying, "This is how I will help to take care of your baby if you can't." I'm not saying every single person should adopt, but a lot more people could be helping with orphan ministries, and they aren't.  Adoption is the best way to help, after that, foster care, but many will say "I'm not called to that." Well, then giving financially or in other ways to families who want to adopt or be foster parents can be a way to help.  Volunteering your time to be a tutor or babysit for parents of multiple kids, giving away your kids' clothes they've grown out of to a place specifically for orphans, and offering to bring over a meal to a family who just got some new members is always helpful!  Finding out about the ministries in your city/town that help kids is a good place to start.  When John and I got married, we always planned to work a few years, then have some kids, then adopt some kids.  We never factored foster care or being house parents into our "life plan."  However, we were open to God's call when we moved to Memphis.  When we heard someone give the astounding statistic that "Over one thousand children are in the foster care system here every day, needing a permanent home," we just looked at each other and knew it was time to start helping.  From the day we started training, to the day we were "approved," took about 7 months.  The very next day, we were placed with a child.  They are that desperate for foster parents there, and probably in your town too!

As I think about learning history in school, and how insanely awful slavery was, and so it took a war to end it, I wonder what it will take to end abortion.  I wonder if our country is just going to continue to allow it.  I wonder if in two hundred years Americans will look back at the abortion issue the same way. "People actually murdered fetuses in the womb, and it was legal until someone stood up and put an end to it." Who will that be? When will that be? How could it be possible? I believe that if more Christians stood up to adopt unwanted babies, there would be fewer abortions, whether it was legal or not.  The Underground Railroad functioned only because some people thought slavery was so evil they were willing to risk their lives to give freedom to others. I know taking care of orphans is hard work - I've been doing it and researching it for the past three years.  It's literally putting your own selfish goals and desires to the side and saying, "I want to help this other human being."  If you are a Christian - it's part of what Christ calls us to do.  Religion that our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this, to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unpolluted by the world. - James 1:27  Adoption is the essence of loving others, and it shows a picture of how we are adopted in God's family.  The book Adopted for Life is a wonderful resource if you are even considering adoption, or if you have adopted.

What if it was so easy for children to be adopted because so many Christians were ready and available to take a child?  How amazing would it be if common knowledge was that abortions were more expensive and physically damaging than just going full term, delivering a baby, and giving it to waiting, willing, loving parents?  How cool would it be to look back in just fifty years and say, "Yeah abortion used to be a really booming business until Christians got involved and started adopting all those babies!" ? How many times have you told someone that abortion was wrong, but then never thought about all the orphans who are not aborted, who need a home? What if churches large enough to have separated preschool ministry, children's ministry, and youth ministry, also had an orphan ministry that reached out in that city to orphans and those taking care of them and went on mission trips to orphanages, or an adoption ministry that encouraged and taught people in the congregation how to adopt?  It's easy to say you're against abortion.  It's harder to get involved and actually help orphans.  However, Jesus never said it would be easy, He said, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. - Matthew 16:24 Pray about how God wants YOU to help an orphan.

I don't usually blog this close together, but I've spent the entire babies' nap time today working on this because I felt like it was that important to share.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Triumphs Through Sickness

Recently I've been experiencing several new life lessons through illness in our household. It has occurred to me that all sickness results in only two final outcomes: healing or death.  I fully believe that it is your faith, hope, and relationship support system that will determine the length of either outcome being reached (of course, modern medicine helps a lot too).

For example, I haven't been able to write a blog about my dear sweet Granny Em yet, but I can tell you that she fought stage FOUR breast cancer for over TWELVE years, and was Vanderbilt's longest living Stage 4 cancer patient.  Her sickness resulted in eventual death - but her strong faith in Jesus Christ, and hope that her life was still worth living, and the many relationships she was a part of (from loving her husband and children, to grandchildren, friends, and church family) - kept her alive and kicking for much longer than anyone would have ever believed.  She went to be with God when Jonah was 10 days old and we still miss her very much.  Her sickness, that nasty stuff called cancer, taught us all so much about living life with no regrets and loving the people around you unconditionally.  I will tell you more about her one day... For now, I'd like to share some ways God has been humbling and teaching me lately as our household has passed around a nasty cold/sinus virus.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to share this post or not, because I am embarrassed and more than a little ashamed.  However, it would be very cruel of me to only post and share my good times, when I actually get it right, or when I want to ask for help.  So, here is me, a flawed human, being transparent, sharing my sin in hopes that it may help someone else.  Please, don't judge too harshly.

I made a huge, grievous, mean mistake.  I was viewing many people in my life as more of a task, a chore, a job that needed "doing," rather than soul, body, and spirit who needed loving.  As God revealed this to me, I realized that it's not the first time I have done so.  When teaching got tough a few times, I viewed my little six year old students as more of a job than a group of little humans.  I have also connected that when I pray for a person by name, call out to God on their behalf, I am kinder, more patient, more loving, and I do not make the great error of mentally placing them in a "to do" list.  However, the day I stop praying for that person/those people, my fleshly mentality takes over, and I become the important one on a mission, and instead of viewing people in my life as part of God's mission for me to love, I view them more as obstacles to overcome.  When I prayed for each student by name daily on the way to work, I was a better teacher.  When I pray for each person in my household by name daily, in the morning, I am a better wife and mother.  My prayer to remedy this has become

John 3:30

New International Version (NIV)
30 He must become greater; I must become less.”

Oh God.  Please forgive me.  Please help me to stop doing this.  Please show me instantly when I begin this selfish thought pattern.  Remind me to love like you do.

Bonding with Baby
This is what both babies looked like for several days.
Minus being adorably Asian.
Pretty much just the snot and tears describes my babies.

We have a group of kids here at the Children's Home, the same group since we began in late September.  This group includes a baby who is slightly older than our baby, Jonah, but there is less of an age gap than would be possible naturally (they are less than 9 months apart).  I have tried to explain how odd/difficult this is before, yet many parents of "stair-stepped" kids still seem to think it's the same situation.  We had babies 10, 11, and 12 months apart before during foster care.  That is a reasonable age distance and is possible biologically.  10-11 months apart is much easier to deal with than 4-9 months apart babies.  When babies are unnaturally close in age they aren't far enough apart yet to understand that one baby is younger and needs to be treated more gently.  They aren't far enough apart to understand that the other baby is another little human instead of a pet.  When you have a child 10-11 months older, usually they are walking, eating solids, drinking from a sippy cup, understanding lots of basic commands, etc.  When you have two little babies who are not the same age but both under one - it is more difficult to feed them/bathe them/set up a sleep schedule for both of them because they have very different needs.  For privacy reasons, on this blog I call the other baby simply that - Other Baby, or Baby with an uppercase B for short :) .  Well, Other Baby was very difficult when the kids first arrived.  Both babies were much younger, and it was stressful. We were originally told we would not get kids under age 2, so it was also quite a shocker that once again we'd have 2 unnaturally close in age babies like we just had in Memphis.  I have to admit, I didn't really appreciate Other Baby very much because it made life far more complicated and difficult.  Of course, we took great care of this child, but did not feel particularly close or affectionate.  The older siblings were very playful with the child, and it got lots of carrying around from us - but not a lot of kisses back then.  A few months in, we were able to get Other Baby on a good routine sleep schedule and when it began costing us less sleep, it was easier to love.  Other Baby went from really wanting to pluck out Jonah's eyes any time we left them alone, to hitting him on the head with any object/toy available.  These were two difficult stages as well.  Now Jonah is finally old enough to start to hold his own, and even pulls Other Baby down to the ground sometimes as they fight over toys. Since Jonah is almost 11 months, and Other Baby is over one, it has gotten much better. All that to explain why my flesh viewed Other Baby as a difficult part of life.

About 3 weeks ago Other Baby got very sick.  Other Baby usually keeps a runny nose off and on, but nothing more.  After John and Jonah getting very sick, it was inevitable that Other Baby would too.  One afternoon this kid just quit playing and wanted to be held all afternoon/evening.  The next morning Baby had a cough and a rattle sound while breathing, and a fever.  We made a doctor's appointment for that day.  When I took Baby to the doctor they did a chest x-ray and said Baby needed to be seen by a pediatrician (yeah, this little town is so small there are NO pediatricians here), and treated aggressively.  I took Baby to Laurel ER where they said Baby had pneumonia in both lungs.  I held Baby on my lap, leaning against my chest sitting up in a chair for the first 3-4 hours.  Then they had to put in an IV and take blood, and that was pretty pitiful. Around 10pm I laid down on the stretcher/hospital bed with Baby laying on my chest and we both slept off and on.  We were finally admitted to stay overnight around midnight.  At 1am they moved us upstairs to the pediatric floor.  There is just something about holding a sick child to your heart for over ten hours, that softens you.  The sleepless nights, the long days of trying to protect Jonah from little fingers and big blows, the great annoyance of not being able to go places because its such a hassle to get two babies out of the house and off their nap schedule, all faded away.  I realized that I had viewed Other Baby as more of a trial to be persevered than a little baby to be loved.  As Baby lay against my chest, Baby began to grow in my heart.  God used pneumonia to bring us much closer together, to help me to love this Other Baby.  Kisses began to abound, lots more cuddles and hugs, and as Jonah is learning to call me "Mama" finally - so is Other Baby.  This was not my intention though, and I keep saying my name clearly like "Kel-Lee" whenever Other Baby calls me "Mama" because I do not want this to offend the siblings or the birth mother.  No matter what I am called, I can see a new love in Other Baby's eyes, and I return it. I asked God to forgive me for having a hardened heart toward this little one in the beginning.  I felt like He said, "Baby doesn't remember it, and now neither do I."  What a mighty God we serve! He loves us all the time, even when we're unlovable.  He casts our sins "as far the east is to the west."

I know that two antibiotics and a steroid helped that little body.  I also believe that me holding Baby and loving on Baby more than ever before over the course of 4 days straight (between the hospital stay and the next few days at home), also helped the little body to heal so quickly.  Baby was up and going at full speed, no snotty nose or anything, just 3 days after leaving the hospital. When we feel loved and at peace, we heal faster.  Many studies have shown that People with Positive Attitudes and Happy Relationships and a Practicing Faith in God do have fewer health problems and recover faster from the illnesses they do get.  Who can you heal with a little extra love today? Who do you need to view as a soul to love instead of a chore to be completed?

Finding the Bright Side of Sinus Congestion
Then, just when everyone else started to feel better and I was priding myself on staying healthy, I got sick too. Pride DOES go before a fall, my friends!  However, I didn't get a fever, just incredibly painful sinus pressure and nasal congestion to the point that I felt like my cheek bones, nose, and brow bone were about to explode every time I leaned forward.  I couldn't taste or smell anything for about 4 days straight. (My only consolation was in changing the nasty poo-poo diapers from both teething babies - I couldn't smell them at all!  Poo is really not that bad when you can't smell it!) I felt yucky and tired every day and my throat hurt from drainage. Because of all the stupid Meth-heads down here, it is actually illegal to purchase Sudafed in the state of Mississippi - no form of pseudoephedrine is available unless you have a prescription.  I didn't want to go to the doctor until it got really bad.  I went to the doctor on Day 9 of feeling like my face may fall off the next time I bend over to pick up a baby, because by then I was worried it was a sinus infection.  The doctor offered me a steriod/decongestant shot, and I declined, only because the more I research and learn about healthy/holistic living, (from educational blogs like Mama and Baby Love and The Healthy Home Economist) the less I want to put different chemicals into my body. I requested just some good ole Sudafed, and went straight to Walgreens to pick it up.  I know, that's a lot of chemicals too, but seriously, I was desperate.

Despite all of the ways I felt like I should probably just stay in bed and drink hot tea and chicken broth, I was not sick enough looking/acting for the rest of the household to think I deserved any special treatment.  I was very upset that I had to continue all of the normal daily tasks and duties although I felt sick and exhausted.  I became pretty bitter about this and began to be grouchy and rude to the people around me (Yes - just days after the realization that I need to pray for them all more and view them as people not chores - watch out because that flesh jumps back to take over so quickly!).  I didn't feel like exercising, but I wanted to go for a walk one day just to get outside because the weather was nice.  I pushed one of the babies and prayed. It's always on these wonderful nature excursions that I am able to pray and listen to God the best.  As I poured my heart out with my little pity-party, I felt Him saying,

"This cold is not an excuse."

What??? I'm sick! I'm tired! No one cares! I took care of them and babied them all back to health last week, and now no one is helping ME! I have a right to complain and be grouchy with them!

"You NEVER have a right to complain or be grouchy to anyone." Whoa.  Now, I'm not sure why I was expecting my Heavenly Father to pat me on the back and say 'There, there, it's OK.' But I was not expecting this.

That ever-so-helpful Holy Spirit brought these verses immediately to mind:

Phil 2:14 - Do everything without complaining or arguing.

It does NOT say "Only when you feel healthy and good and are having a good day should you not complain or argue." It just says "Do everything without complaining or arguing." Period.  No matter how you feel. Once again it comes back to love being more of an Action - less of an Emotional feeling.

Rom. 12:9 - Love must be sincere...

How sincere is my love if I only give it when I feel good?

Then multiple images from the movie "The Passion of the Christ" we watched with our kids just a few weeks ago flashed through my mind and I felt like God was saying,

"You have a cold and you think that gives you the right to be grouchy and mean.  When my Son was being tortured, beaten, and nailed to the cross, He had more of a right than anyone to be grouchy and mean, but was He?"

I cried a little as I pushed the stroller.  No, God, no Jesus didn't complain.  He didn't get angry.  Instead, He said,

Luke 23:34 - Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

"Exactly.  Stop complaining and start loving them."

Yes, Lord.

Since then, I have been working very hard to stop complaining in general.  It's not helpful to anyone. It is really tough to stop complaining though.  It's a super hard habit to break!  I'm also trying to remember to pray for them all individually instead of just a general "The kids" type of general prayer.  Who can you pray for by name today? When can you complain less?

This is what God is working on with me right now.  Did this help you at all?  I'd love to hear how God is working on you.  If we haven't talked in a while, please call me or send me a message or e-mail! I'd love to catch up! I am trying to improve all relationships in general.  I hear it's good for my health... ;P