Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Happy 11th Birthday *C*!

Today we celebrate the birth of our second son who effectively put the kabosh on us going out for New Year's Eve.

However, we have never gone out for New Year's Eve, even the year we were engaged, we got Chinese takeout and watched movies. I assure you that celebrating the birth of our sweet, funny, creative, imaginative son is a pretty great way to ring in the new year.

So today I will remember that day 11 years ago with it's joy and humor and love and I will wish him another year of growth and learning and joy! We love you *C*!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pack Up Your Troubles

"In an old Kit bag and smile, smile smile." From a WWI marching song, used in many instances, or so says Wikipedia.

This morning I was "singing" it as I thought about our basement..except I was singing "Pack up your troubles in a great big box.."

You see, our basement is full of boxes, some half-empty, some overflowing, some falling apart and All. Over. the. Basement.

It's ugly down there folks. And we've only live here since August 2008! We sort of unpacked as we went and the kids *ahem* helped. Whenever they decided a toy was missing they started opening boxes.

But there are boxes down there that just plain need to go. There are troubles and unhappy memories and unrealized goals packed up in those boxes and I do believe they're getting in the way of progress.

They're also getting in the way of the train table to built as one of *N*'s Christmas gifts.

But really, they're getting in the way of moving forward. I would go down there and clean it out. When we lived in OH I would go downstairs a couple times a year and whip things into shape, tossing and stacking and putting things in order.

This time there are heavy things I cannot move blocking in the messes and boxes. I just don't have the physical strength to move them. I have commented, suggested and yes, I have nagged at the Husband to address this issue. He goes down, sorts, and throws away a bag of trash and I cannot see a difference.

Maybe he can. I cannot. And to be honest, I cannot get to the things I am trying to get to. Things like bins of children's clothes and my books. I can see the bins, but I have no place to stack them so I can get to the ones on the bottom.

It occurred to me this morning that these big boxes and stacks are a symbol of other things going on. The stuff is a problem, but there is some emotional baggage packed up in those great big boxes. If it's packed away, we can smile for a while but we still have to deal with it, don't we?

Do you have some stuff weighing you down. Is it anchoring you to the past and keeping you from moving forward?

Lord, I pray that each of us can lean on you for strength as we break old habits and toss off the burdens of the heavy baggage we carry. We can give it all to you Lord and stand up tall in Your mercy and grace.

May this new year before us be one of renewal and growth, of tossing away our boxes of troubles and finding some new goals in the cleared spaces.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Today a friend asked a question on Crackbook Facebook about how much time people spend actually doing things with our kids as opposed to existing in the same house with them. My wiseapple answer was, "you mean when I'm not folding their clean clothes, putting their dishes in the dishwasher or playing short order cook?"

I think I spend a decent amount of time with my kids. You know I write about them a lot. If I'm being honest, I could be doing more with them. Every night I go to bed thinking of missed opportunities and every morning I wake up thinking that today I will focus more on the kids and less on other things. Then I repeat the previous evenings regrets again at bedtime. It's a vicious cycle really.

I have heard all the "quality v. quantity" arguments. I think it's just one more way for moms to compare themselves to others in that gloriously evil way we do, either building ourselves up or putting others down, or a combination of both.

The truth is, we all do the best we can in the circumstances we're living in. I am not supermom, or super housekeeper, or super wife. I am just me, human Stacey, doing the best I can with the gifts God gave me. I do what I enjoy doing; baking (sometimes), knitting, reading and sharing these gifts and other gifts and interests with my family and those I meet along the way. We play games, do puzzles, build with Legos, color...all that jazz. Just not all the time.

Sometimes instead of playing trains or scrubbing the toilet I need to spend 30 minutes reading a mystery or knitting or even on that addictive social networking site catching up with my peeps. ;) That is OK. (Or I'm just trying to make myself feel better. ;) )

At any rate 40 years ago my mom didn't spend hours playing board games with me or coloring and to be honest the only adult I remember sitting down to play with me is my dad occasionally. My mom and SIL taught me to crochet, knit and needlepoint, but I was playing on my own and I think overall, I turned out OK.

So my humble opinion is that we all should just do the best we can living the life God gave us. Enjoy your time and try not to measure yourself against another person's standard. Some people might do things differently but it's not better or worse, it just is. Do what you love, love what you do, love God, love's all good. :)

Praying that I use my time wisely or at least without regrets. I pray the same for you.


Monday, December 27, 2010

And Now We Can Breathe..Sort Of.

Well, December 25th has come and gone. The gifts have been opened, the wrappings tossed away and I am pleased to report (knock wood) that nothing has broken yet.

The boys were all so thrilled with what Santa brought and what they received from mom and dad too. We heard, "This is the best Christmas ever!" more than once which was very nice.

On the way to church Friday afternoon *E* said, "I don't care about presents, I only want to celebrate Jesus' Birthday." Saturday morning he obviously felt differently after opening three clothing gifts in. a. row. He got over himself though. ;)

It feels like the month of December has just flown by and I cannot figure out where the days went. (Other than my time suck that is Crackbook Facebook.) I know I was doing things; shopping, wrapping, baking, getting my grad school financial aid squared away, playing chauffeur, washer woman and socializing on Crackbook Facebook, oh and making lists of everything I should be doing.

I am going to spend the next few days evaluating how I can be a more organized and intentional person in the coming year and beyond. I am not usually big on the resolution thing but I do want to change up a few things and now is as a good a time as any.

Do you have any changes you're hoping to make in the future? Baby steps or major overhaul?

My friend S says that each day she wants to do a little better and that is what I'm hoping for also. I just need to think about how things relate so I can actually do what I need to do. (Another friend, B, reminded me last week of what Albert Einstein said, "Insanity [is] doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.")

So I'm going to take a deep breath or 40 and relax a little, at least as much as a mom of 6 who has a son turning 11 on the 31st can. I am going to try to get control of my time suck and try to make some more happy memories and change things up in a good way. It wouldn't be good to be all insane. :)

Wishing you peace and love and the strength to change things up if you need or want a different result.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Whether I get everything on my "to do" list done or not, Christmas is still coming. Isn't that Marvelous?!
Babies come whether you're ready or not.

Highlight of my day so far, the boys singing carols to Miss M while she was fussing so I could make the meatballs. I'm sure there will be more...while we frost sugar cookies, sit together at church (probably providing the sideshow entertainment for those around us), and while we listen to the Husband read, "Twas the night before Christmas...".

Wishing you peace, joy and the greatest of the gifts...LOVE, today and everyday.

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Block Towers

Do you ever build with blocks? Or do you remember what is what like? You stack the blocks taller and taller without proper engineering strategies or a building permit. You can only go so high before the whole thing falls.

Sometimes I feel like I'm living my life like that. Adding things, trying to please everyone, make people happy and be what equals a "good mom" in my own imagination.

Yesterday I was thinking about how *J* used to love doing a gingerbread house and we haven't done them in a few years for a number of reasons. Yesterday I started thinking that if he got to build one this year, maybe he would find some of the Christmas spirit that he seems to have lost in being a teenager when the magic seems a little more evasive.

The problem is that I couldn't just get a kit for him because the other boys would want to do it if he did one. (I do not predict that all of them working together on one little house would go well.) It's not just the cost of 5 kits which would be done with varying amounts of care and interest (although everyone would have to have one) or that some competition (which I detest) would follow.

The problem was that I didn't want to go in search of the blasted kits on Christmas Eve Eve Day. In my head I was trying to figure out how to manage it. Who would I bring with me? Who would I leave home? What if I had to go all over town with 10 stops before finding enough?

Do you see where this is heading?

I was getting in a tizzy about something I thought might bring some joy but in thinking about it I was stacking more blocks on my tower and it was starting to teeter. In fact, the more I felt like I had to find these kits and put on my "patient mom" hat to help the younger ones, the more I felt my tower of blocks starting to tilt dangerously to the side.

I have a lot to do, but so does everyone else. I want to have fun and enjoy the time we have together. However, I need to stop and breathe and perhaps not add more blocks to the tower but be happy with the blocks we already decorating sugar cookies on Christmas Eve like we always do.

And I also need to be sure the foundation of my tower is strong and that comes from remembering the reason for the season, the birth we've been waiting for.
That will happen whether I make gingerbread houses or not; whether the house is spotless or not; whether I've created a picture perfect image of Christmas or not.

In other words, I need to get my heart and soul in the right place.

Praying we can all keep our towers standing..and if we teeter, we can lean on others and on God for support.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Filling the Tank

What fills your tank, feeds your soul, gives you comfort and peace through the days?

I'm not talking about your Love Language although I could. I've read the book and I can tell you that mine is words of affirmation (so when people leave comments it totally makes my day. :) ).

What I'm talking about is getting recharged. According to the personality tests, I'm an introvert. I recharge in solitude and get exhausted by the social stuff. Overall, that is true. Walking into a room of strangers, or even acquaintances can fill me with dread, fear and all sorts on insecurity complexes.

However, if I can get past it and find a groove and a comfortable conversation, it feels wonderful and I feel wonderful.

Last night I went to a cookie exchange where I knew many of the women in attendance. They're all great ladies and it's a blessing to know them. Let me just tell you that I almost didn't get there. I very nearly turned around twice on the way. Once when I missed the turn (I keep saying I need a GPS, preferably one that says, "Hey lady, turn left here!") The other was when I turned into the wrong (long) driveway and had to do a 97 point turn to get out.

To be fair, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed by life all day and when that happens tears are often close to the surface. (They almost bubbled over a few times. :O )

When I finally got to the right house, I saw smiling faces, heard lots of laughter and happy chatter. It was good and nice. While it took me a little bit to relax from my inner stresses, it was wonderful to see friends; women who build up those they come in contact with. What a blessing to have these women in my life.

I left that evening after laughing and talking and eating and felt happy and relaxed and ever so grateful that I was able to go.

Maybe I'm being greedy, but I wish I could have those kinds of evenings (mornings, afternoons, whatever, I'm not picky) more often.

So last night I filled my sanity tank. ;) I felt prepared to de-clutter, tame the laundry beast and finish all the holiday preparations. (Of course I woke up this morning and realized the Cleaning Fairy had missed my home again and all my resolve turned to, how will I ever get this done?)

Praying that you find ways to fill your tank today and everyday. It might not always be an evening of cookies and conversation, but any little thing that will refill your "running on empty" tank.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rolling Cookies, Holding Tongue

Do you ever just get annoyed with someone? They say or do something that ticks you off but you know you can't call them on it so instead you find someone else to vent to?

That happened to me today and I tried to call two different friends to voice my frustration. To say, "Would it be so hard ...?!" "Do you think they could...?!" Then they would agree with me and I would get to feel all self-righteous and have a little banner that said, "I've been wronged" to go along with my crown. (I am the queen of the castle, don't you know. ;) )

There was no answer at either number so I left "Just called to chat" messages and decided to get to work on my list.

I started rolling the devil's food cookies. That dough is sticky, even after chilling overnight. I scooped out little clumps of dough, rolled them into balls then into granulated sugar before placing them on the cookie sheet. The dough needed to go back in the freezer between baking because it becomes impossible to work with unless it's very cold.

I had time to think. At first I was ranting in my head about what ticked me off. As I worked with that sticky cookie dough my self-righteousness began to melt away, replaced by a few realizations. I know that venting never makes me feel better but it does feel good to have a friend tell me I should be angry. I also realized that like I need to take time between batches of cookies (when I'd much rather be working like a well-oiled assembly line machine) I need to take time before responding. The knee-jerk reaction from hurt would be more likely to make everything sticky, but a cool-headed response, taking my time and holding my tongue (with not only the person who upset me, but with others too) would be a much more appropriate (and Christian) response.

I may not have gotten validation for my anger, but that's not what I needed anyway. Instead I have a sense of peace because I remembered not to gripe. I guess the Husband's "Accept others where they are" attitude is rubbing off.

It's sweet to know that while my heart wasn't in the right place at first, some time allowed me to cool down before I got into something sticky.

Wishing you time to reflect before you react in this Advent season and always.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rice Cereal Made Me Cry

OK, cry might be an exaggeration. Teary may be a better description.

And I didn't even have to eat any. (Blech! That stuff smells like offense to rice cereal lovers. I won't even tell you what I think of green tea. LOL ;) )

No, the girly is 16 weeks old tomorrow and she's getting to that time when we start thinking about starting her on solids. I was standing the the Tarjay aisle looking at baby spoons and bowls and the dreaded rice cereal talking on my cell phone to the Husband. (Don't you hate it when people do that? I think almost everyone in the Tarjay had a phone to their ear.)

Me: "She's getting to that age, do you think I should buy her some spoons and bowls for her stocking?"
Him: "Sure, why not. She's ready for cereal."
Me: "I want to wait until she sees the ped next week."
Him: "Why? We're going to have to start sometime."
Me: eyes getting moist "But I'm not ready for that yet."

I bought the stuff, but I'm not saying we're starting yet. I mean I know all the readiness signs and she could start but it's not like she needs it...yet.

I wonder why these milestones impact me the way they do and why different things hit me differently with each child. I get teary when the oldest performs in concerts. I get teary when #2 gets an academic award, when #3 has a great baseball game, #4 performs in a Christmas pageant, #5 brings me a catalogue and says, "What do you want for Christmas, Mom?". And yes, I get teary when #6 outgrows a dress.

I know that my goal is to move them on to the next step in life. I will always be their mom and they will always be my babies, but they will eventually not need me in the same ways. I'm OK with that but it doesn't mean that watching them grow up isn't sometimes painful.

One of the interesting things about having 6 kids of varying ages is that I know "This too shall pass, " whatever it is. (I admit that I am less secure in this fact regarding the oldest child because this is still new...he's like the test-case child. ;) )

So soon enough the girly will be enjoying (??) rice cereal and I will be more comfortable riding in the passenger seat while the 16 yo is behind the wheel (maybe?!). I might get teary about the milestones, but not because I don't want them to come. I get teary because I am thankful for each stage and phase and opportunity. Each day and experience is a gift. I might not enjoy all the gifts equally, but I do need to remember to look at them as gifts and take nothing for granted.

Thank you, Lord, for these moments when I recognize the little (and big) milestones even though sometimes I am the one feeling the growing pains.


Friday, December 17, 2010

The Bible Makes Them Cry

The other night after the young boys were all tucked in, *E* came into the hallway in tears as the Husband was heading downstairs.

I heard snippets of conversation and I heard the Husband go back into *E*'s room before coming downstairs a few minutes later.

"He's so sensitive," the Husband said, clearly moved by the exchange.

*E* was reading his Bible before going to sleep and the story of baby Moses being put in a basket to float off upset him so much that he needed some help. The Husband tucked him back in and together they finished reading the story, with daddy assuring *E* that Moses was safe and had lots of people to love and care for him and that his own mother was even able to care for him.

When I think about that story, I admit I get a little ball of hurt in the pit of my stomach too. Count those types of things among the things I don't even want to try to imagine.

13 years ago another boy in our family was attending his first Sunday School class in a church we had just begun attending. He was 3 and he heard the story of the Widow's Mite. That little boy was in tears that day and ended up sitting on Mrs. B's lap, so upset was he about how the widow would survive with no money. How would she get food? (The teacher came to tell us about it, because she said all she could think was, "they're a new family, they'll probably never come back." But we did. :) )

Those Bible stories took on new meaning for me when I read them through the eyes of my children. They were opportunities for them to learn of God's faithful provision and for me to be reminded of it. Their compassion and caring touched my heart too (and whenever the 16 yo is being particularly cranky, it helps to remember those times when his compassion wasn't overshadowed by teenage bravado. :) )

The children lead me and teach me and help me grow.

Wishing you opportunities to learn and grow through all times and places and perhaps with unlikely or unexpected "teachers".


Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Just Don't Know...

When the kids ask me something and I don't know, we look it up. Isn't the internet grand?!

When we're making decisions about our family, the Husband and I discuss it, weigh pros and cons and usually we find an answer using our logic and understanding.

There are times when what logic says and the world say do not always sync up with what my heart and soul tell me.

We talk a lot about giving things up to God, but it's usually really REALLY difficult to totally surrender. People will follow bits and pieces of scripture but if it's uncomfortable we can all justify why we pick and choose what we're going to follow hard and what we're going to say is cultural or historical or somehow just doesn't apply to me here and now.

I struggle with it. I talk about it with the Husband. We have a lot of theological conversations and I think that's a good thing.

When making decisions, when walking through life, I try to pray first and act second but I still wonder if I'm following the proper path, making the best choices and doing the right thing.

Right now, as I embark on a new adventure I wonder if it's the best thing or if I should maintain focus on my family without the outside distractions. The truth is, I feel perpetually distracted by any number of "sparkly things" every single day. I wonder if I'm trying to juggle too much and dropping every single ball? I question, if I am following God's plan (or trying to), why aren't things coming together? Why does it feel like things are harder than they should be?

Don't misunderstand, I know that giving things over to God doesn't mean a life of sweetness and roses, but instead that I won't go through the difficult times alone. However, sometimes I wonder about where all of these brick walls and mud puddles are coming from, you know what I mean?

I guess I have a lot of growing and learning and refining to experience. As *E* used to say, "I don't love it." It makes me doubt myself and my decisions. I don't doubt God. Wonder if we're having communication issues? You bet!

So sometimes I just don't know. Fortunately, God is forgiving of my "listening" troubles and I'll just keep trying to get on the right track.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Makes a Mama Proud

You might think that my children make me proud often, mostly because I write about those proud moments more often than the times when my children make me want to crawl beneath a very large rock.

This is for two reasons, one is my own pride. The second reason is that I have attempted not to write anything here which could embarrass them now or someday in the future when my blog is famous and they're applying to prestigious firms where they will earn buckets of money which they donate to various charities while living austere lives, and giving me grandchildren (note I said in the future and I mean the far distant future.) ;)

Are you done laughing? You may now read on.

Yesterday the boys were watching a Christmas cartoon with a common theme, if Santa's bag or sleigh is lost, if Santa is ill or just in a funk, Christmas will not come.

*E* our 6 year-old ran into the kitchen and said, "That's not true mom! Christmas will still come. It always does because it already happened." "Why is that?" I asked. "Because Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth and that happened a long time ago." (I kid you not, that is what he said.) I told him he was "absolutely right" and I felt like my heart grew three sizes. (By the way, The Grinch is unable to steal Christmas from the Whos down in Whoville so at least they got it right. :) )

It is in these brief moments when I see that they are really listening and taking in what they are taught about God and faith and Christmas. We do not take all of the credit. We are thankful for all of the adults who model and teach this in big and small ways; their Sunday School teachers, and youth leaders and Godparents.

If you are one of those people who model your faith and share your love of God with my kids formally or informally, I thank you. You might not always see it, but you're definitely making a huge impact.

Wishing you joy in this season; joy that no Grinch can ever steal..because like *E* said, "It already happened."


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Don't Mention.. and Memories

When I was growing up I watched the show "Fawlty Towers" with my parents. (What were they thinking?!) There was an episode about not mentioning the war in which John Cleese was funny in a way only he can be. That scene became something of a family joke, particularly between my dad and I.

When I graduated from high school many years ago (gah!) we processed into the auditorium/gym and I happened to walk right by my dad as I walked in. My dad, a very quiet "don't call attention to yourself" man, leaned into the aisle and whispered, "Don't mention the war." Any nerves I felt that evening melted away.

Today I sat in a much larger and more ornate auditorium to watch my son sing in a Holiday Choral festival at his high school. The Men's Choir always processes in to "Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel" and the Concert Choir always processes in to "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Personant Hodie". Before we left for the concert I asked him which aisle he'd be coming down so I'd be on the proper side to see him.

He was the first man (Man? when did that happen?!) to enter for the men's chorus but in the concert choir he was farther down the line and when they paused as they do for introductions, who was standing right beside me, but my very own young man.

I did NOT lean out and say anything at all. I knew that would bother him because he takes his membership and performance oh so seriously. But I did think about my Dad and that June evening so long ago and I thought of how proud my parents would have been to see and hear him. And I know that when *J* stepped up to the microphone and sang "You're a three-decker toadstool sandwich.." my mom would have told everyone nearby, "that's my grandson."

I am very proud of my kids. They each have their own talents, quirks and gifts. I am so very thankful that I am able to see them grow up. I know that my parents are able to see them too, but not here on this earth with me. I wish I could share these moments with them so we could bask in the glow and also when things aren't so glowing, they could tell me it will be OK.

My parents may not be here to dote on them, brag on them and possibly embarrass the daylights out of them, but I think I have made it very clear to them that Grandma B and Grandpa G would be very proud of them.

May you always share the memories of those not with you as they live on in your hearts.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Ask Me When You're Serious"

That's what I said 18 years ago today. I laughed when I said it so it shouldn't have been any big surprise that my parents laughed when I told them I was getting married.

You see, the Husband and I hadn't know each other all that long, not quite 2 months and one day we were talking and he said, "Marry me, Stacey." and I laughed and said, "Ask me again when you're serious."

He was serious. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

And I said, "Yes." I wasn't really hesitating because, you see, I knew he was "the one".
I just knew. I guess not every one feels that way, but it was fairly early on when I knew we clicked.

18 years ago people started laughing when we told them we were getting married.

The Husband, a singer of show tunes (I know), will sometimes break into a few verses of They All Laughed when we talk about those days of sharing our news.

Here we are today, still together through ups and downs and all arounds. We've had 6 kids, lived in 4 states and had our share of joy and disappointment. We don't always agree and we don't always see eye to eye. One thing we do do...laugh.

Praying that you find lots of joyous things to laugh about and when life isn't very funny, I pray that you can find just a little bit of helps through the tough times.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Realizations in a Waiting Room

This morning I had the exciting task of getting blood work..and a tetanus/ pertussis booster.

Part of going back to grad school, at least in the fine state of New York, is proving you've been immunized against certain communicable things such as Measles, Mumps and Rubella. When I read the form in the mail I had an itsy, bitsy bit of panic because I don't have my immunization records and I couldn't even tell you who my Dr was when I was a teen and probably had to prove these things for college the first time around. I did call the fine institutions of higher learning and I give them credit for not laughing (in my ear, out loud, at me) when I asked if they would have the immunization records of a student who graduated in 1992.

I visited my very nice Dr (who has the most amazing hairstyle and I wonder how she has the time to look so darned nice every day...yes, she does have kids. My friend K recommended this Dr and warned me of this phenomena. ;) ) I got orders for blood work to prove my immunity and as a bonus, I got the booster shot because I have a baby at home and cannot remember when my last booster was etc. etc. (She did say my arm would be sore and this should give me a pass from dishes or laundry through the weekend...Did you read that, honey? ;)

I slathered on hand sanitizer in the waiting room before I saw my Dr after I read a magazine. I slathered it on when I left the office and then I slathered it on at least twice more in the lab waiting room. I am not usually a germophobe but something about being in places where sick people congregate, hearing the coughing and sniffling got my germophobia up. (Realization germy-radar is heightened.)

I didn't expect a long wait so I neglected to bring a book (and I already mentioned touching the reading materials was creeping me out :O ) or some knitting so I was looking around, not staring at people, just noticing what was around me.

I saw a few older couples, one accompanying the other to their tests or visits. They were comfortable together, supportive and companionable. It made my heart smile.

And I thought..that will be the Husband and I someday. I'm not eagerly anticipating ailments. I was thinking about our relationship and how, to some extent, we have that easy companionship now.

Sometimes I complain about him. Sometimes we disagree and he gets on my nerves and I don't think he's perfect. The other day I could have listed his faults in painstaking detail with subtopics to highlight the really little, particularly annoying stuff he did that ticked me off.

But...on all the big things and in all the major ways he is a very good guy. Life isn't always a hot, romantic movie. Sometimes it's the quiet (or what passes for it around here) comfortable moments of just being content with each other that highlight what is good about our relationship. (Realization #2-it's not a handful of rock star moments that make a great relationship, but how things are in all those other millions of everyday moments.)

Wishing you handfuls of rock star moments surrounded by millions of everyday moments filled with peace, contentment and love.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Somebody's Mom...

Today I logged onto the Internet while I was heating up dinner.

The teenager was doing homework in his room, the baby was sleeping in her bouncy seat and the other 4 boys were building with Legos, playing with Hot Wheels or a combination of both. The Husband worked late.

I read the very sad news that a very graceful, classy woman had died from cancer. Out loud I said, "Oh no." My heart sank and all I could think was...she is someones mother and daughter and friend.

I know what it's like to be the daughter left behind and my heart aches for her children. I think too, of my friends who have also lost their moms or dads or siblings or children or spouses and I wonder how they're doing at this time of year when holiday memories can be bittersweet. I hope they have people to talk to, to share the joy and the sorrow when the need arises.

Today I ache for the family grieving their mother, daughter, sister, friend. They are in my prayers.


Parenting Awards and Cookie Cutters

Yesterday I was reading the paper, actually, I browse through it and read stories with headlines that catch my eye. (My journalism teachers said having catchy headlines above the fold were important and apparently they were right, at least for this reader.)

I digress.

On Monday there was a syndicated column by a psychologist whom I respect and admire. Yesterday I discovered he would probably give me an "... Awfully Ludicrous Parenting Honor". Ouch. The only reason it's "probably" is because I haven't garnered media attention, which he says is a requirement as qualification for the honor.

What did I do? I pay my children for good behavior, specifically I have been known to pay them a dollar for behaving well in church.. This expert says that paying them for expected behavior "makes a mockery of teaching children to do the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do."

Whoops. Well, I guess he has a point. I do tell my children they should help pick up around the house regardless of whose mess it is because "it's the right thing to do" and "you're a member of the family."

I'm not mocking being good for goodness' sake. I embrace it and do it myself. We emphasize the common good and helping others. We try to teach the kids about respect for self and others and just being an all-around good person.

Sometimes though, when in a pinch, a little extra muscle in the form of very germ-ridden, specially imprinted paper helps. Call it "spin" but I consider the extra incentive positive reinforcement for behaving properly and it works better than, "If you don't behave, you're losing all your electronics for the day, week, month, your lifetime."

Just like everything, the experts may not have all the answers for every particular situation. The experts don't always agree, which just goes to show that there is more than one way to raise up a child. (The column I read yesterday was actually written in response to a column he had read by another parenting columnist about the values (pun intended) of paying for good behavior.)

Our kids aren't all cut from the same cookie cutter and neither are our families. While some things may be universal, temperaments and family dynamics are vastly different. I see it even within my own family. One child will feel the impact of losing a particular privilege far differently than another. When I try to make "the punishment fit the crime" I also take into account the motivation and motivators of the beastie in question, fair and equal treatment does not always equal identical treatment.

Because the star cookies and the tree cookies..I don't usually frost them the same either.

Prayers for wisdom through daily adventures, whether addressing the behavior of the kiddies or baking your cookies, one size doesn't fit all. Thankfully, God's love does.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh the Weather Outside..

is frightful? Maybe not that bad. It's snowing but not like last week when 3 feet got dumped on us. It's coming down at a good clip though, and windy and cold.

I am thankful to be snug and warm inside my little home snuggling with the two littles and especially thankful that the Husband waited at the bus stop with the boys, particularly since *E*'s bus was 20 minutes late because of traffic. He's a good guy. I had water boiling so he could have a hot cup of tea before heading off to the salt mines work.

Monday is always a tough day, but after a 4-day week-end it's really tough. When you add in snow and cold who wants to get out of bed and get moving?

Apparently, today I did. And I feel like I've already gotten so much accomplished. Laundry is going, dishes are done, I even tidied up a bit. There's always more to do, but every little bit helps. I am trying to eat this elephant that is housekeeping in my home one baby bite at a time and keep a positive attitude. Yes, there is always laundry to do but if I complain about it what purpose does it serve? Better to make it a positive.

Sometimes I try to pray for each person as I fold their clothes. Not every pair of socks gets a full blessing, but filling that mundane repetitive task with something good certainly helps me finish up in a better frame of mind that grumbling about the person who doesn't turn their socks right side out before tossing them in the hamper.

I count the blessings of this laundry just as I can look outside and see mounds of snow and find blessings in that. (Although If I was stuck on the highway for a day in the snow, I might be struggling to count very many! My heart goes out to those people stranded last week.)

I think the key to counting my blessings is to try to do the whole "bloom where I'm planted" thing. I can do the best job with the laundry, be thankful for the people who wear the clothes, the ability to do it etc. or I can grumble about it. Which is going to leave me feeling better afterward? Complaining? Not so much. I can look at the snow and see beauty, water for the earth and remember happy times or I can grumble about it, but either way it's still going to fall from the sky.

Today I choose to be thankful for the Legos on the floor (that's a common theme here), the laundry to be folded and the dinner to be planned. I have creative (if messy) kids, we all have clothes to wear, and food in our pantry. Talk about an abundance of riches!

Wishing you abundance in all the things that truly matter and that you may find joy in the little things.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Thumbs Up

It was a thumbs up kind of day which doesn't explain my crabbiness at all, but upon reflection it was definitely a day of good moments....

The first thing *C* said to me when I came downstairs this morning was, "I love you, mom."

The husband dug out the cars again, helped a neighbor get out of her driveway because she couldn't see over the snowbanks. Then...he stayed outside to play in the snow with the boys. And he took them out again later in the afternoon even though he is "hurting" from all the shoveling.

*N* went out to help the Husband shovel.

*E* picked up his Legos without being asked.

*J* was hanging Christmas lights in his room and *I* was absolutely enthralled and wanted lights "Just like *J's*." *J* took the second set of lights that he was going to hang in his room and surprised *I* by hanging them up in his instead.

Today after dinner *I* ran to get the books we use for the Advent Wreath readings. He's three and after 5 days he knew the plan. :) LOVE that.

It was a day of little things for which to be thankful on this 3rd day of December.

Wishing you much


Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's Beginning to Look..

A lot like Christmas.

We got a bit of snow yesterday through this morning. I am very thankful to not be among those trapped on the roads, stuck on the highway for hours. Wishing them a safe and speedy return home.

My little (bwahahaha) family is safe and sound at home. We have food and diapers (phew) and power.

And I LOVE THIS! I love snow. There, I said it. Don't feel sorry for me. It is marvelous to look out my window and see the drifts and the bare tree branches swathed in white. The air is so crisp and pure.

I grew up in the Adirondack mountains and in the winter, in my mind, it is supposed to snow... A LOT. People always say where we live now gets tons of snow, but since we moved in 2007 our town has always missed the snow band, leaving me feeling cheated.

Not today. :)

To me this snow ushers in the season and brings me back to my childhood when the snowbanks were like mountains to me. Aaaah.

Wishing you a safe and blessed day. If you love the snow and you don't have it or if you have a bunch and don't love it so much, I hope that you can find some joy in your present circumstance.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lack of Proper Planning..

Yesterday I was feeling a little behind in my mental "To Do" list. I realized that I was thinking of everything as it needed to happen instead of thinking ahead. Planning ahead is necessary for time-intensive or time-sensitive things, don't you think?

It was then that I thought of a phrase I first heard from my then 15 yo who heard it first from a teacher. "Lack of proper planning leads to poor performance." I cleaned it up as the instructor used an expletive as an adjective. :O

So, I feel as though I'm not performing as well as I could in my roles as wife, mom, co-coordinator, friend....the list goes on. Suffice it to say that I am feeling rather "less than" in my performance ratings these days.

Maybe it's a case of "jack of all trades, master of few", but I don't think so. I think I'm struggling with poor time management and prioritizing. I also think I have a case of procrastination.

I resolved to get some things done. I decided to stop over thinking and make decisions. And then I read a few stories, played some board games and well..I decided to embrace the season for what it is..a waiting game...waiting for Jesus, that is.

You see, on Sunday we did put the Advent Wreath on the table and we did do the readings and pray and sing. It was our first step in the right direction as we enter this season of preparation.

As I focus on the "To Do" list and the shopping list and the school prep and everything else I should be doing, I smile when I think about waiting for the birth of that very special baby so long ago.

I will still be shopping and baking and hoping to see joy-filled expressions on the faces of my offspring...but when I remember why we're celebrating, it comes into perspective. I recall that much like awaiting the birth of my baby, the plans I try to make when awaiting the birth of The Baby won't really impact the outcome. What matters in it all is what condition my heart is in...and a joy-filled, thankful and loving heart will override any plans I do or do not make.

Wishing you much Joy and Love in this beautiful season.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

The best laid plans of mom...go awry when she gets the stomach flu the night before Thanksgiving.

I thought that 1. the mom wasn't allowed to get sick and 2. that if mom did get sick it would be after the children. This mama is crossing her fingers that the kiddos and the Husband avoid the sickies.

I am so very thankful today for a gracious and loving God, a wonderful husband, amazing children and tremendous family and friends. I am thankful to have this forum to share my wandering thoughts and I am thankful for people who read and comment. I hope that at least once in a while those who read it get a little nugget of something good.

Prayers for a safe and blessed day, week, year for you all.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When You're Lost..Stop.

I'm a planner, a list maker, a thinking-out-loud kind of person.

I function best when I have a plan but I have a hard time making decisions, perhaps because once I decide something, changing my mind, well would that look like I made a mistake? (Appearances, you know? ;) )

A lot of people have been writing in blog land lately about setting goals. Writing things down, most agree, helps you realize the goals. It's like a commitment to yourself which prods action. I tend to agree. I also know that until I told people about my plan to go back to grad school, I was putting off the application. (I could get a job thinking up excuses. Do you think there's a living wage in it?) )

One day I mentioned it in front of a friend who offered to encourage me to get it done. Best thing I ever did. She also offered to proofread a goal statement. I valued her opinion and I appreciate the time she invested helping me to achieve my goal.

The other day I was talking to someone near and dear to me about goals and dreams. I asked, "If you could do anything, what would you do?" The response, "I don't even know anymore." My heart sank. Those 5 words said so much, some of it quite possibly not even realized by the one who spoke the words.

It's difficult to discern the way you should go sometimes. Sometimes all the noise of the world; the stress, the unrealized dreams and unanswered prayers can rob you of your vision and the detours in life might make you lose all sense of direction.

Stop. It's like being lost in the woods. Stop. Pray to God for guidance and strength. Blow a whistle. Reach out to your friends. Rescuers will find you. People will listen and care and might even have solutions or suggestions.

Most importantly, know that you are never alone in any of your struggles whether you're lost in the woods or have lost direction in your life, God is with you.

I struggle with my decision about going back to school, whether I should do it and where to go and could I juggle it all. I found all sorts of excuses and "noise". Only when I stopped and prayed and looked for guidance did things become clear.

Praying for you as you walk through life; whether you're lost in the woods or strolling leisurely on a well-marked path, may you find peace and purpose.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

New and Exciting, Not Better or Worse

Oh how I ADORE these shoes. They were a gift for Miss M.
Even the boys think these are cute. It would just be wrong to work her whole wardrobe around these shoes, wouldn't it?
Baby girl clothes are new and exciting to me after 16 + years of buying little boy things.
I feel guilty about that though. Back in the day when I had one or two or three boys, I put a lot of effort and thought into finding the perfect Holiday outfits for them. Now I've gotten to the point where I'm making sure they have dress pants and shirts that fit and the littlest guy...sometimes he doesn't even have dress shoes. They usually all have ties though, because those get passed down and shared...and don't usually wear out. ;)
Part of it is economical and part of it is philosophical. I've realized that the perfect outfit isn't all that important, for me or for them..which is why the whole family portrait thing threw me. It's not necessary to spend hundreds of dollars on the perfect outfit to be worn once for 2 hours. (You'd think these things could be passed down, but they all seem to hit different sizes in different seasons. :P)
This is the first time I have the privilege to dress a baby girl. It's kind of neat to get to pick out dresses and coordinating tights and well, you saw those shoes. ;)
I just worry that the testosterone club might feel like they're being slighted. I don't think they do, but I worry about it. I mean they're all pointing out girly things in catalogues and on TV and insisting that we should buy whatever it is for Miss M and when I opened those shoes...I was not the only one eager to see how they looked on her little feet.
I don't think appearances and packaging are what it's all about. That would be shallow. But, this whole train of thought got me to thinking about how I interact with each of the kids and to be conscious of treating them each as special gifts, because they are.
Whether my first boy or my 5th boy, they are incredibly unique and precious blessings. Right now I enjoy picking out the girly "wrapping paper" but I just realized that the boys...they get to choose their clothes (even the three yo) and I honor each of their senses of style..fortunately nothing too crazy going on there yet. :)
I am thankful for each phase and stage and opportunity to be a parent. Sometimes what is new and different is exciting, but not always more important or more special...
But I still say those shoes are too cute!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Don't Follow Directions.

I don't do well following directions.

I can follow a recipe (mostly). Yesterday that may have been seen as debatable as I ruined my first batch of gingerbread muffins. Big FAIL. I thought the batter was pale. Maybe they'll darken more than I expect in the oven, I said to myself. Umm, no, not unless I burned them. When I pulled them out of the oven I looked at the recipe again and saw the ingredient I missed. Molasses, I forgot the molasses. The rest of the batter went down the drain and the muffins are feeding some wildlife (they tasted as bland as they looked.)

I can follow a knitting pattern. Now. I finally learned not to skip the part about knitting a swatch to test gauge because it is as important as the pros say.

However, when it comes to putting together those toys on Christmas morning, that's all the Husband's job. Because I do not follow the directions. I look at the pieces and expect it to be intuitive and then...I mess it up because sometimes what looks right isn't. Sometimes there's a reason piece 27 needs to be snapped into slot B before piece 12 gets snapped into slot f. (I didn't even know they were numbered because I didn't read the directions.) The Husband has had to save the day more than once because I think it should be intuitive.

The Husband (AKA Mr. Safety sometimes) reads the instructions..he even reads the whole thing through before beginning just like the instructions say. (He even reads all the fine print before he signs anything...and everything.)

Life should be intuitive, don't you think? There are times when all you can do is trust your gut. But...there are other times when what feels right or good or easy, just isn't the right way. Sometimes we have to look for and read the instructions. Sometimes we have to listen to what older, wiser and or more experienced people have to say on the subject.

Otherwise we'll end up getting stuck in a bad spot..just like when I got those primary-colored plastic pieces put together wrong. Sometimes it's easier to fix than others...

I know what to do when I mess up a knitting pattern, rip it out and start over. We can't always hit the rewind button on life that way. BUT...we can ask God and the people we've impacted for forgiveness and mean it. We can turn to God's Word for direction and we can get forgiveness and grace and move on and try to do better the next following the directions.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Actions Speak Louder...

I cannot speak. Well, technically I can. It just is a raspy, squeaky sound and sometimes my voice cuts out like a cell phone without bars.

Last night the Husband went to a budget meeting at the school (if you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem) and *E* had a meeting at church for the pageant. I also brought along *N*, *I* and Miss M, while the *J* was in charge of *C* at home.

The home front was quiet while I was gone but I had quite a fun time. Miss M was fussy, *I* was overtired and a wild man and *N* managed to fall out of his chair in quite dramatic fashion. I tried to corral them but it doesn't go down in my book as one of my proudest mom moments.

So we came home. *I* fell asleep but *N* yelled "We're home" as I was carrying him in which woke him up. At bedtime I repeated (in my raspy whisper) at least 10 (no exaggeration) times that it was time to go upstairs and one was moving. They heard me they just chose to ignore me.

By the time they went up stairs I was pretty angry. I said a raspy whispered "good night", told them they could say their prayers with each other and firmly shut the door. (Ouch.) (Then I had another coughing fit because by this point any speaking was followed by violent coughing.) *E* dissolved into tears and *N* said, "You're scaring us." Really? I didn't yell or anything. I was very quiet.

(Interestingly, these same children who are thrown into trauma by having to say evening prayers without me say Grace at dinner at such a rapid pace it's unintelligible and could care less if everyone's bottoms have hit their chairs before rushing through "God is great...")

I was frustrated and pretty angry at their total lack of respect but I walked away. (Mom needed a timeout..which she used all 3 minutes of ironing the 16yo's shirt. "Did you do my shirt yet?" probably did not help my mood.)

Did they quietly retreat to their rooms? Did the 9 yo or the 10 yo recognize that mom is not feeling great and we have been really disobedient and we should probably just leave her alone? Noooooo. They harped on me through my closed bedroom door while I ironed.

But my silence freaked them out more than any amount of yelling. Change their behavior? Not is evidenced by the fact they did not go to bed but stood in the hall nagging me for being "mean". Yes, folks, trying to"speak" less because my voice was shot and saying anything was sending me into a coughing fit was "mean". No, I was not giving them the silent treatment.

This is not a glowing example of a warm evening at home is it? Another flop on my mom chart, no gold star for me. I realized that my not following our normal evening routine was very upsetting to them even if I wasn't yelling or threatening the loss of video games.

After I had ironed and taken a deep breath I went in and told them I was sorry for upsetting them but that I was upset too. I gave them hugs and told them how much I loved them.

Maybe today they will go to bed when told so that we can all have our normal evening routine, because clearly it wasn't what I said that made a difference but what I did (and didn't do.)


Saturday, November 13, 2010

What to Wear?

I hung up the phone and felt fear gripping my stomach.

I need to get my hair cut. I looked into the living room and saw two boys who desperately need haircuts too. And what would I wear? What would we all wear?

Yes, you guessed it. We're meeting the Queen.

Done laughing? All this worry over...getting a family picture taken.

We haven't had a professional picture taken since 2002. Our little family has grown by three since then. The last time we all wore something in the Christmasy red and green and it looks very festive.

This time I don't want to look like a Holiday display and while I'd like us to coordinate, we don't necessarily have to be all matchy matchy but I have no idea what to dress everyone in. (Feel free to offer suggestions, PLEASE!)

If it was an outside photo shoot, I think it would be easier, but it's not. We're going to a studio where I got a great deal. They think I'll be sucked into a $200 package but they're soooo wrong. I'm taking the special and running for the hills, baby!

When the Husband got home I told him of the appointment and of my concerns regarding appearance. The man who starches his shirts to within an inch of their life looked at me like I was a little ummm nuts.

He said we should just go as is because that's who we are and no one needs a haircut and we can all just wear whatever.

What is wrong with this man I married?! Hasn't he seen all the gorgeous family photos people have in coordinating clothes? Does he not notice that one of the boys has some serious mop head going on? Has he not noticed my hair is doing an annoying mushroom-shaped thing lately? ("I am getting my hair cut! " I said to him, waving my finger in the air.)

This is a picture he wants to put on our Christmas cards. (His idea.) Doesn't he want us to look perfectly coiffed and outfitted and put together?

Apparently he doesn't see the value in looking "just so". He sees the value beyond the varnish. He always has. Sometimes I think that if he were a little more critical of my appearance I would still be the woman I was when we met; nails always polished, swimming in a carefully coordinated size two. Instead he loves me just the way I longer a size two, nails rarely polished, hair looking like a wild mushroom.

I am mostly content this way...but sometimes I look in the mirror and wish for what I was...on the outside. On the inside I have grown so much since we met (and not just in the waist and hips). I know that I am stronger and wiser.

I'm just not wise enough to realize what the Husband already does..the beauty of our family is that the kids act their age and we function better as a unit when we go with the flow, not when we try to put on a (false) show of the proper Stepford family.

(Should I put in a disclaimer that I have nothing against the "just so" families I know? I admire and envy you, honestly. This isn't sour grapes either. I am happy that you have it just isn't in my nature to be that way, I guess.)

I still want a good picture though, and not good in a "Funniest Home Videos $10,000 winner" way either.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Once Upon a Time....

Once upon a time there was a dad who told his children stories.

This dad began telling his stores when there was only one little boy and one favorite stuffed animal to be the stars. As the family grew, the stories evolved and there were more little boys and stuffed animals who became part of their adventures.

Not long ago, the dad was telling some of the younger boys a "Once upon a time..." story and the oldest boy stopped at the doorway to listen. "There's no village!" he said. The dad said, "There is now." The oldest boy sputtered and said, "But that's wrong!" It made the mom and dad smile at each other, because this boy obviously had fond memories of the stories. Perhaps they took him back to a younger and simpler time in his life.

Today I overheard this dad telling his daughter a "Once upon a time..." story. Today they were picking flowers. Yet another way the story is evolving.

Sometimes I listen to the stories too. It makes my heart all warm and fuzzy.

Sometimes one of the boys will say, "Dad can we have a story tonight?" It's quite a treat. Sometimes the dad will say, "I just don't have a story in me tonight." The boys will beg and plead and often the dad will find a story in his heart to please his sons.

The dad loves sharing this special time with his children. You know what fills the dad with joy and pride? When he overhears one of his sons telling their own, "Once upon a time..." story.

I think this is one of the ways this dad is like the Father. God gives us the lessons and stories and is glad when we share those stories with others, spreading the Word.

Praying that each of us can share stories of love and joy, hope and peace with our own words and actions and by spreading the Word too, with both actions and words.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's All Good

Yesterday I was letting some of my worries get the best of me. I told a friend or two and I told the husband. I put on a grin for my kids because that's what you do, right?

Today I had an appointment with my doctor. I have had some interesting moles and this patch of skin and after reading a story in the paper about someone with a "suspicious patch of skin" that ended up being a very bad thing...I was letting the "what ifs" get to me a little bit... or a lot.

My Dr. came in and looked at my worries...and it's all fine. Nothing concerning. Phew. Because, you know what? In my mind I had created a very scary scenario...fueled by my long ago love of tanning oil and that big fiery orb in the sky.

I can cross that worry off my list for now. I can be careful and keep an eye on things but I have addressed it, done what was necessary and I am going to trust that the answers I got are accurate. (Because second guessing is going to get me nothing but a tension headache.)

I can also thank God that all was well. The other things stressing me out..well they are still always possibilities but I could walk out my front door and an anvil could fall on my head...if I lived in a cartoon world. But you get my drift, right? I can worry about a bunch of "what ifs" or I can just keep living the best life I can.

I recently told a friend that when I get overwhelmed by worry I stop and think, "What in my life has changed so much that this worry is overwhelming me right now?" Usually there has been no change to make whatever I'm concerned about more pressing..except my own thoughts. That reality check helps me cope with worry.

Then I turn it over to God and I focus on something right in front of a 3yo with glue stick on his hands.

I pray that you can find peace and comfort from your worries,whether you are facing very real battles or are thinking of what may happen.


Monday, November 8, 2010

How Am I?

A friend asked me after reading my last entry..and I told her.

I bet she's sorry she asked because what she got was a list of my current stresses and worries. All those things I should just turn over to God I gushed to someone who probably wishes she didn't know now.

And I sort of wish she didn't too...but I also needed to "say" it to someone. Instead of doing the "Grin and life's great" I needed to list all of my worries and be more vulnerable than is comfortable because..I guess I didn't feel like glossing over it and it's so darned easy in an email...maybe because I don't have to hear myself saying the words and if I share the worries, that makes them a little more concrete.

Nothing horrible or anything...if I keep it in perspective so many more people have so much worse going on...but these are my feelings and my experiences and how I am doing is not always supposed to be held in relation to what another person is going through. I'm not in a "You think you've got it bad, listen to my troubles" contest.

But today, how I am doing is...kind of up and down and I guess I felt like sharing my stress. :P Hopefully it's not contagious.

As I finished up that email. Miss M needed to be fed. I sat on the couch feeding Miss M with *I* snuggled up next to me and in that time and space was peace and contentment and love. I was just present and it was, to use my friend's word, delightful.

How easy it was for me to get wrapped up in troubles and fears that may or may not become big problems and forget to embrace what is right here, right now and is good.

Thank You Lord, for taking on my burdens. Thank You for friends who listen and offer support. Thank You for the good things I so often take for granted because the tiniest troubles are often louder than some of the greatest blessings.


Friday, November 5, 2010

How Are You?

That's become one of those standard "throwaway" greetings, often used in place of or in addition to, "Hi."

Last week I was talking with a friend who was telling me about something stressful in her life and when someone walked by and said, "Hi. How are you?" as he walked by, she put on a big smile and said, "Great!"

We then laughed about how you just grin and bear it because people don't really want to know, it's just a part of the greeting. We joked about it. Because, really, have you ever wished you hadn't asked that, when you are really only greeting in passing and someone decides that they're going to tell you everything going on in minute detail. (That happened to me several years ago and I learned my lesson...I try to only ask that question when: 1. I want to know and 2. I have time to truly listen. )

Anyway... a couple of days ago I was talking to the Husband about this "grin and say it's great" phenomenon and he said that in his mind, people should be honest in their answer and that if you ask you should be prepared to listen to people. He thinks it's a shame that so often people pull away from anyone who needs to talk or is having problems.

Fascinating for me to hear from him. You see, I don't think I need more than the fingers on one hand to count the number of times he has gone to a friend with a struggle he's having. He keeps it all inside. No matter what it is, he just doesn't ask for help. He suffers in silence..which considering how much the man amazing. ;) (Love you honey.:) )

That being said, I know that if he asks how someone is and they do the "grin and 'life's great' " and he thinks they're giving him a line..he will find other ways to let them know he's not buying and he's willing to listen without being intrusive or pushy. I think that is one of his great gifts and one of the ways he acts as God's hands and feet..that and he makes terrific wings and spritz cookies. ;)

Fortunately, we can always turn to a loving and caring God with our worries, struggles and problems. God is always there and God is sincere in His care for us. It's good to know there are people who do want to know and do care to listen, but when we don't have the time or space to open up to them, God is always present. For that I am thankful.


Thursday, November 4, 2010


Sometimes I procrastinate. I admit it. I own it. I am not proud of it, but it's who I can be.

I am particularly prone to procrastination when I am nervous about how things could turn out, particularly if I'm afraid of rejection or making a mistake.

I am in the process of trying to go back to school and the only thing left hanging over my head was a personal goal statement. I sat and sat and sat and sat (sounds like the potty training book I've been reading the 3 yo) but I just couldn't get anything worthy down on paper. And I say "on paper" because our lap top's hard drive died and trying to write something so important on the desktop in the living room with my entourage whining and squealing and whatnot wasn't working for me. (Kind of like it isn't right now.)

I tried on Saturday but I couldn't do it. I got some ideas down on Sunday but nothing gelled.

I was letting my fear of not writing it well enough, my fear of not doing it "right", get in the way of doing it at all and I could find lots of distractions to become my excuses--laundry and dishes and errands oh my!

But last night I was itching to do some holiday knitting and I decided that I would not, could not, knit until I had written my first (only? wishful thinking. ;) ) draft.

So after Miss M was fed for the night and the other children were tucked in, I locked myself in the bedroom with a glass of water and a legal pad, I reread the guidelines and I wrote and wrote and wrote. And when I was finished...I had a few pages that spoke of my personal goals.

Oops..I left out one very important step. I prayed for focus and wisdom and not only that, I asked others to pray for me too. I do believe it helped.

And then...I dug through my yarn stash and pulled out a pattern for a miniature stocking and some yarn and happily cast on that 25 stitches knowing I had met the goal I set. I don't think knitting was an enormous incentive, but recognizing that I had to prioritize and could not keep procrastinating about something so important deserved to be rewarded.
The big reward will come if I get accepted which is truly the only incentive I need, however, I guess I needed an incentive to stop procrastinating and get it done.

I pray that as you go through your day, you realize the goals you set for yourself whether large or small, and when you do follow through, I hope you find positive ways to reward your success.


Monday, November 1, 2010

A Helmet? Bubble Wrap? Both?

It all started yesterday, during Sunday School. 3 yo *I* fell and hit his head on a rocking chair (that's the best anyone can figure..and the Husband was in there..on the other side of the room but still...)

He walks out of the room carrying *I* and then *I* turns his head and I see the big lie it was as big as a quarter and sticking out of his head at least a cm. I sat down and started doing that breathing I learned to do during labor...because I felt dizzy.

*I* refused to let the Husband put ice on it and he was acting fine sooo...we kept an eye on him and decided he wasn't any more lethargic than he had been during worship. (Yes, he sat quietly during worship..that should have tipped me off...)

Last evening we did the annual walk around town knocking on doors and asking strangers for candy. *I* got clumsy as he got tired but nothing serious (although my heart jumped when he decided it would be better to jump down people's front steps rather than see what we're dealing with?).

Today *I* was mellow all day, quite an unusual thing but after his wild evening playing the king of the jungle, who could blame him? Yeah well.. I took his temp after dinner and it was 102 (perhaps he was coming down with something and that's why he sat so quietly during worship?)...gave him some medicine and as soon as it kicked in he was off and running..and apparently jumping...because...he fell and hit his head on the corner of the bookshelf in his room.

The screaming sent me running in and then I saw the red stuff oozing from his head and I yelled for the Husband and traded him a bleeding child for a baby...and did more of that breathing I mentioned earlier.

As I type the Husband is sitting with *I* in an ER waiting for our little man to get stitches.. a first for any of our kids...

So I'm going to go order that bubble wrap and the helmet now.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No Thanks, I'll Pass.

Something feels strange. Is this willpower?

I have been strangely uninterested in sweets, dessert or snacking. In fact, the other day I got out the cookies and took two out...*I* asked for one and I put the other one back. I just decided that I really didn't need or even want a cookie. I wasn't hungry and it just wasn't calling my name...and that feels good.

Growing up I was always fairly thin. I'm vertically challenged at a whopping 5' 3" (well, a smidge under, if I'm being totally honest) and on my wedding day I weighed 92 pounds. No lie and no diet. It's just the way I was.

Fast forward 17 years and 6 kids..yeah, I don't weigh 92 pounds and I'm not a full-disclosure kind of gal, so I'm not telling you what I weigh now.

I never had to watch what I ate growing up and exercise and I have a love-hate relationship. I love to think about it and hate to do it. Through the years the scale has crept (and jumped) up and I haven't really made enough changes to account for my (apparently much) slower metabolism.

This weekend I read something about lifestyle changes and it clicked for me...finally. And I am ready to make the changes-- eat better and yes, I will even exercise.

But right now I am just excited that I can have candy corn in the house and have no desire to touch it. Not. One. Kernel. It's not calling my name. Neither are the Oreos or the Halloween candy in the cupboard.

It's just plain strange. I'm sure at some point I will have a craving and I will probably cave in...but three days without even wanting to touch the stuff..I'll take it.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's Your Story?

Perspective changes things.

When I was in seminary, people would talk about their stories, their life and experiences. It was just the word people used. I liked to hear and read about peoples stories and what makes them tick, and I still do. (That must be why I like to read blogs.)

Shortly after graduating from seminary I had a brief stint as a mental health case manager. On my first afternoon I was meeting with a client in a hospital setting. I was supposed to be with another case worker (I was brand new and I was supposed to be shadowing her) but she left and I was on my own with someone I was warned was a tough guy with serious issues.

As we sat across the table from one another, I wasn't afraid of him. (The woman pacing back and forth ranting because someone had changed the TV station away from Judge Judy, yes...the big tough guy across from me, not so much.) I was filled with compassion and part of my job was to talk, so I said, "Tell me your story."

What I meant was, "Tell me about yourself." What he heard was, "You're going to lie to me." His response was, of course, "I'm telling you the truth." Whoops...perspective and life experience loaded that word story with so much meaning.

I had totally forgotten about this story until I was reading about what the word faith might mean to someone who doesn't have faith in God. Faith might sound illogical if you don't view faith as trust in God. I think trusting God is perfectly rational as I have seen God work in my life and in the lives of others. I believe in God because of what I know to be true.

How many other things do we look at through different lenses because of our experiences and knowledge? How often could we avoid our own pain and avoid hurting others if we remember that we all see things from a slightly different point of view.


Monday, October 25, 2010


Do you ever wish you could freeze time? Or do you wish it away?

I remember when I was younger, the days...hours...minutes...would drag on and on and on. A school week was FOREVER.

I swear, days are passing by faster in direct correlation to the slowing of my metabolism...and that is just plain wrong, don't you think?

I thought this weekend was going to crawl by. The Husband was away at a men's retreat, called, appropriately enough Mantime and I was solo with the kiddos. I encouraged him to go but I did face his departure Friday evening with a certain, healthy (from a self-preservation standpoint ;) ) amount of trepidation. One mom + six kids = could go either way.

Other than one minor injury (3 yo cut his finger with safety (not so safe?) scissors) and one hour of torture (me insisting they clean up their toys from the living room Saturday night) we had a very nice weekend. We didn't do much-- got pumpkins, took a pleasant ride and just hung out.

But it went fine and instead of me staring at the clock and doing the, "He will be home in 18 hours 32 minutes 7 seconds +/-" countdown, I was pleasantly surprised to see he was home "already". (The kids kept asking when he'd be back...maybe they love him more than me?! ;) )

Time did not slow down for the weekend and time does not slow down for the growing up of the children either. The baby girl is 8 weeks old first baby boy is learning to drive and the other boys...well they keep growing too.

Sometimes I look at the clock and wonder where the time has gone and others I will the minutes to pass (is it bedtime yet?).

I guess the key is to embrace every day and live it to the fullest. Life goes on (Oh blah dee oh blah that song ;) ) and we can choose to smile our way along or frown our way through, to be beacons of joy and love or ..well crabby, hopeless folks.

I pray you choose hope, even on gray days that drag on...or when they fly by and you think you blinked and missed it.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Do you know what today is?

Repost from this date last year...

October 22nd is International Stuttering Awareness Day.

If you didn't know, that's o.k. I wouldn't have known if the leader of the stuttering support group my son attends hadn't put out an e-mail.

There are a lot of things I didn't, and still don't, know about stuttering. But, I am not alone because there is a lot that the experts don't know about stuttering either.

What I do know, is that *I* cannot fix it for him. I can help him get the tools he needs. We can be patient and be his advocate. We discovered that many speech therapists have limited experience with disfluency. We learned that each therapist had a different belief about why J stutters. The most important thing we all learned is that therapy isn't about "fixing" the stutter, it is about J becoming comfortable enough in who he is so that the stutter does not stop him from doing things like participating in class or placing his own order at McDonald's. Chris Heximer, the Clinic Superviser At Buffalo State is responsible for teaching us this incredible lesson. Thank You, Chris!

Like any mom, I worry about my son. I cannot protect him from people who are trying to help but instead hinder. (Thrusting a pad of paper and pen at someone because you're too impatient to wait is so uncool.) I try to educate people about stuttering without being hyper-confrontational. My husband is great about going to open house night at school and touching base with the teachers. (Please don't think you're doing my kid a favor by NOT calling on him...that just ticks him off.)

And, because I am who I am, I pray. Do I pray that he would be fluent? Yes. But I also recognize that this is a part of who J is and while I want him to be able to comfortably communicate with people, I understand that God made him this way and it can be used for good.

I'm not comparing my son to Moses, but many believe that Moses stuttered ... There is a great Ginny Owens song called I Am that talks, in one verse, about God calling Moses and I get teary when I hear it. "Oh Lord, he said, you've got the wrong guy. Simple conversation gets me tongue tied. And you're telling me to speak to a maniac king, could it be I've lost my mind...That's not your problem, God replied, and the rest is history. There's a bigger picture you can't see. You don't have to change the world, just trust in me. 'Cuz I am your creator, I am working out my plan. And through you I will show them, I Am.")

I Love that. Not because I think my kid is going to be leading anyone out of Egypt, (although I heard that he did a good job helping his group find their way around NOLA this summer). I love it because the artist emphasizes that we don't know God's plan but we do need to listen to God's call. And, while people might not always respond the way we (or God) would want them to, it's all good. God is able to work through (or around) our humanity, to carry out his great plan. Moreover, God created each of us, so while some things might be seen as disabilities, God has a plan. What will we learn or teach someone through what others might see as our disabilities and weaknesses? And how will we use the gifts God gave us to be His hands and feet in this world?

In closing..a few pointers for you to remember if and when you are speaking with someone who stutters...maintain eye contact, don't try to finish their sentences and be patient. You might learn something.

-Peace and Blessings

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back When I Was...

Memories back when I was bold and strong...

Yeah, not so much.

I love the song Better Man by Pearl Jam, but to be clear I DO still love the Husband and I really don't think I could have married a better man. While we have disagreements and sometimes he totally ticks me off, we've gone through many life stresses that could have hurt our marriage, but ours has been strong for 17 years and I think it's got many more years to go. ('Til death and all that jazz.)

I have always loved the lyric I quoted above...I would say back when I was bold and thin though. ;)

But you know what I realized today...I am far bolder and stronger now than I was when I was younger (and thinner ;) ).

When I was younger I hid my weaknesses (or tried to) and thought it made me strong. It didn't. Aloof maybe. But what I've learned is that when I ask for help, that is showing strength...and wisdom, which comes with age.

I don't think I was bolder when I was younger either. I was far more timid about approaching people and about speaking up. I'm still a work in progress and have a lot more opportunity for growth, but I am heading in the right direction.

I guess it's all part of, "If I knew then what I know now." Looking back, I don't see a bold and strong young woman. I see a young woman looking for acceptance but perhaps not in the best ways or places. I see a young woman afraid to be rejected and afraid to make decisions.

I still fear rejection and I still want to be accepted, but I've learned where to look for those things. Most of all I know that I get all the unconditional acceptance I could ever need from God. When I remember that, it makes being bold a whole lot easier.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Greeting Cards and Elephants

This weekend I was card shopping. I needed "Thank You" notes and a few cards of encouragement for a friend going through something really tough.

Who knew it would lead to tears? My own--- as I felt the hurt for her and her family deeply and as I struggled with whether these cards would say the right thing.

You see, I wanted to convey, "I'm here for you" (even though I'm hundreds of miles away), "I care about you" (even if I haven't stopped by with a meal or a coffee or a hug-see above), "I want to know what's going on" (but I'm trying not to ask too many questions or call too often) and most of all, "I love you".

I found myself thinking, "what if she gets this card and it makes her feel bad because it reminds her?" As if she is walking around totally forgetting and my card would bring it all up again?

I was treating what she is dealing with like the proverbial elephant in the room. I do that a lot. Not because I don't care or don't want to face it myself, but because I am afraid to pry, to seem to be insinuating myself into someone else's pain. I want to walk alongside her and her family and yet...I don't want to intrude or fill her voicemail .

How many times have I held back from offering friendship or a caring word because I am afraid to intrude, because I think I may not be welcome? Because I fear rejection?

What if, instead of fearing, I reach out in love and not worry about the reaction? What if I follow my heart and just act in kindness and love without worrying if someone will doubt my intentions or sincerity? What if I just be myself and let someone know I care about what they're going through (good or bad) whether I have known them since we wore fingerless gloves and sang Material Girl at the top of our lungs in high school or we just shared a table at a MOPS meeting once.

So I resolve to take the risk and jump in. To reach out in love and kindness even when it might slap me in the face. (Trying to follow What Would Jesus Do here.) To not tiptoe around but to boldly say, I'm here and I care. Maybe my gift isn't coffee or meals but an ear to listen and a heart to care and, of course, prayer.

And I did find the perfect card..It actually says, "I'm not sure what to do, I'm not sure what to say. But one thing I can do for sure is pray."

Praying that we all can face our elephants instead of trying to slipcover them to match the furniture. They're kind of loud and eventually they'll make themselves known anyway..and sometimes that can get messy. ;)


Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Just Need ...


Yesterday I was feeling overwhelmed and unwell and just plain crummy.

The thought of trying to find a dinner that would please at least 3 of people in my house literally brought me to tears. (The finicky eaters are my own fault, I own it, am not happy with it but it's the way we're operating right now.)

After retreating to my room I told the Husband I was on strike and not cooking dinner because it was such an exercise in futility to spend time preparing meals. I then kicked him and the 6yo out and had a little cry.

A few minutes later I went downstairs to see the Husband fixing a variety of meals (we should open a diner, I swear!) . I'm not asking for suggestions on how to "fix" this dilemma, we know, we know, we know...

He apologized for not picking up more of his share of things around the house.

I went out for a futile and depression-increasing clothes shopping trip by myself. And in the car I realized, it's not the house work that is getting me down. (Though I do confess to thinking, "Would it kill him to throw in a load of laundry when I'm out?!)

I miss my husband. He goes to work , gets home helps with homework and dishes and by the time the boys go to bed we're both fried. (Miss M hangs out with us but she's pretty low-maintenance. ;) ) We rarely can have 5 minutes of uninterrupted conversation when someone doesn't need something or they aren't bickering before one of us is ready for sleep, usually me.

I miss the days when he worked different hours and we would occasionally go browsing the bookstore with just the littlest kids, maybe hit an antique store or watch a DVD in the afternoon.

I don't want or need a date night..I just want a little bit of time to hang out with him, even if a 3 yo and a 6 week old are tagging along.

So last night I said, I don't need you to do more around the house, I just need your attention. I need an adult conversation (because there are days when I don't have any..except for the 5 minutes or so with him.)

The Husband is a terrific father. He is always there, present and interested in what the boys, make that children whoops, are doing. He is also a great husband, but finding a balance between parent and spouse seems to be difficult for us these days.

This morning he came home for a few minutes after his dentist appointment and we chatted and that was...perfect. It wasn't a trip to the bookstore or a lunch out, but it was nice to have the time and attention.

Give me the laundry and the dishes and give me a little less-divided attention. That was exactly what I needed from him.

May you find the things you really need in the midst of your day.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Working Out

Things have a way of working out...unlike me who really needs to make an effort to work out. ;)

Last year I bought the book by the Duggars and in it they tell the story of their daughter wanting a pink blanket but they didn't have any pink blankets and being on a strict budget they couldn't justify buying one when they had many other perfectly good, if not pink, blankets. Well, someone left one in a car they were selling and so there was the desired pink blanket..for free!

I am not that good at sticking to the budget, though I'm getting better. I remember reading the story and thinking, "Really? Buy the blanket!" fast forward to this fall and I had bought Miss M some girly receiving blankets but I just hadn't bought any fleece ones. I couldn't bring myself to spend the money when I had other perfectly good, though blue, blankets.

Guess what?! Three different people gave us beautiful and girly fleece blankets for her. Wow. I wasn't expecting them and I didn't ask for them and I was oh so very appreciative of their thoughtfulness.

Things have a way of working out.

I had plans to cloth diaper Miss M. I have all the supplies and I thought things were going well...until Miss M got a rash which wouldn't go away. I tried everything and finally when I was switching to heavy duty cream to try to get rid of it we switched her to sposies..and I called the ped who told me to try Neosporin to prevent infection...and she got better right away.

That weekend a very kind grandmotherly neighbor stopped by with a case of disposable diapers. In the back of my mind was "we use cloth" but I was thankful and said so and thought, "Wow, now we have lots of diapers and if she outgrows them before she wears them I can donate them."

Miss M went back into cloth diapers which had been stripped and rinsed several times so there was no residue etc..and within a couple of hours, even with being changed as soon as I knew she was wet....she was rashy again. Evidently she has a very delicate behind...she really is a princess. ;) And there sat a free to me case of diapers when I really needed them.

Things have a way of working out.

There are so many times, if I truly think about it, that things work out in ways we could never anticipate.

We intended to live here for one year while the Husband was on internship. Well, after internship ended there was no point in going back to school (long story already explained and we stayed here because he got a "job" offer and there was nowhere else to go home to.

This is our home now. We're building relationships, have a church home we love and cannot imagine living anywhere else.

Things have a way of working out.

I've said it before...God has a plan. Sometimes the plans we make aren't what's best for us, but God knows best. Sometimes things come up to intrude on our plans but God provides. Sometimes God puts people in our path to be His hands and feet when we need a helping hand.

God has a way of working things out.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Everyone Needs...

Everyone needs... a mentor.

Really. I believe this. For our kids that is usually us and other trusted, responsible (I hope) adults.

Adults in all phases of life would benefit from mentors too. The problem is, sometimes mentors aren't so easy to find. Sometimes because we don't have people around us who can give us beneficial guidance and sometimes because we are afraid to ask or to share our struggles, concerns, lack of knowledge or our"weaknesses".

A mentor doesn't have to be someone older than me, just someone insightful and with experience...or perhaps someone I respect who is walking the same path. Maybe that's not the technical definition, but it works for me.

I think this is one of the greatest things about MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers). Knowing I have a great group of women around me who I can turn to for advice, moral support, friendship and a good laugh is an amazing gift and blessing. And, while we have more experienced moms who serve as mentors, I think in our own ways, we each serve that purpose to each other too, by listening and praying and sharing.

It's not always easy to ask for or listen to advice, but with trust and in love we can do both and become better, stronger and even more amazing people...because we are created to live in community.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And I Know I'm Not...

The song above is pretty much the whole point of my is a family-friendly song and not the one I'm writing about below.

Today I was driving to MOPS and a song came on the radio that I probably wouldn't play for family dance night but I like it a lot and when the middle boys are in the car, I probably wouldn't turn it up and sing. It has lots of references that are not things I would say are good examples or influences or anything else...and I really REALLY wouldn't want the kids to sing it out loud and proud in public.

But I like the song and when I'm alone I do turn it up and sing and it's on my mp3 player too. (A bad example, I know, but I am not influenced in my choices or values by this song on the radio.)

A few weeks ago it was just the 16 yo and I in the car and I said, "I like this song and turned it up." He looked a little horrified. "Mom! Have you listened to the lyrics?!" Umm yeah. How does he think I can sing along? ;)

Today I thought of that exchange and realized he sees me in a particular way..a mom type way which is, kind of like "mom jeans" if you know what I mean. He would never think that I was hip or cool or 'gasp' did anything wild. And that's OK because I am his mom and he doesn't need to know every poor decision I've made...and learned from.

I'm not who I was.

However, I do hope that all of the children (typed boys, had to edit whoops) will realize that I have certain opinions and wisdom to share because of the life I've lived up until now. I made mistakes and hope that I can prevent them from making the same mistakes.

While I am in no way able to give them eternal life like Jesus did when he died for us, I do hope that I can save them some of the struggles because I struggled.

But...I also am not the same person I was then. I don't think it's just about maturity. I truly believe it's because of my growing, active and alive faith in God that I have become the person I am. That and the freedom and forgiveness I receive because of that faith.

It is my hope, my prayer, that my children will make better choices because of their faith (and ours) ...they know (or at least hear repeatedly) that God loves them and that everything they have and are and can be are gifts from God.

Knowing that has made all the difference in my own life...and I pray it does in yours too.

I'm not who I was.