Sunday, May 30, 2010

Altar Call?

Wherever we go, whatever we's always good for a laugh, or a sideshow.

Back in the day when I was a mom of 1, I nearly died of embarrassment almost every day over fairly minor stuff. (An infant crying in public was surely a sign of my inadequacies as a parent.)

Fortunately, my skin has gotten thicker and my sense of humor has gotten broader. :0

To be clear, I would never ignore the boys' misbehavior, especially if they were bothering others. We try very hard to teach them respect for others. (That's my disclaimer.)

Today in church...well...I could have died of embarrassment but...I've gotten tougher over the years. ;)

There was no one in the nursery and although I didn't have my usual bag of tricks to keep *I* entertained, we decided he should, at almost 3, be able to handle 45 minutes to an hour sitting on one of our laps, drinking juice and eating goldfish.

He was a bit chatty, but not too loud, I don't think. There are adults that are louder sometimes. (Honest.) We'd almost made it to the end of the service when I turned to ask *N* not to do something. That was the opening *I* was looking for. He crawled under the pews headed for the front. I caught up to up to him and cut him off about four pews away.

I guess he was moved by the spirit. Lutherans aren't usually known for their altar calls :)


Friday, May 28, 2010

The Summer Plan

It's a holiday weekend..almost.

Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died in military service to our country. Thank you for that ultimate sacrifice.

To me, this weekend always symbolizes the beginning of summer. I know summer doesn't officially begin in 2010 until June 21st, but the season feels like it begins with this long weekend.

My kids don't finish with school until June 22nd so we still have time to plan what the summer will look like. The Husband and I have been talking about how to make the summer pleasant for everyone.

I am ashamed to say that my kids don't really have set chores and I haven't always been the greatest about enforcing rules on screen time etc. We want to build a schedule that feels good to everyone but doesn't leave me feeling like a short-order cook, maid, chauffeur and one very overworked, underpaid, ticked off woman. :)

I think we will start building a chore chart this weekend. I also want to institute a set reading time. I am not big on tight schedules but I realize that certain things make the house run more smoothly and at some point I will get through these very bright but stubborn children's heads that if they pitch in, Mom will have more time to play games and will be a whole lot less cranky.

You know what I dread? The whining and arguing that is sure to come with the new order. This morning I told them I would not be cooking lunch for two hours every day during the summer because everyone decided on a different meal of their choice at a different time. Immediately the chief negotiator, *N* started in with, "Well what about if I make it myself?" "What if I just have cereal everyday?" My response, "What if I make a menu and that is what you have?"

It's going to be a tough breaking in period but I know we'll all be better off. I just hope I have the patience and the creativity to make it work without it turning into an enormous battle of wills.

I believe that part of the success will hinge on having set consequences. Maybe I'm over thinking it. I just know if I feel I've given them the expectations and consequences it will be easier to enforce things. I'll let you know if that pans out. :)

This summer has the potential to be really enjoyable...and this weekend will be one step on that path.

I pray that this will be a season of new growth in our family as well as in the garden (Which we hope to get planted this weekend :O). I pray that we can nurture one another and find joy in simple things. I pray that we will find contentment in each day. I pray these same prayers for you.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Making "Cookies"....

"Can't you bake cookies?"

In July of 2009, my oldest (eldest? I never know which I should use no matter how many times I look at the "rules") son went to New Orleans for the ELCA Youth Gathering. It was an amazing experience for him. 26,000 young people and chaperones descended upon the city for worship and work...they were there to use their hands to help rebuild after Katrina's devastation. *J*'s group helped rebuild a therapeutic riding stable....he said it was the hardest he has ever worked, and it was "awesome".

Each evening the entire group was at the Superdome hearing amazing speakers and musicians. Through the glories of livestream, we were able to watch some of the goings on too. We found ourselves incredibly moved by these speakers...but one of them touched my heart and got me to thinking (and I'm still thinking...I tend to over think things. :) )

This is a snippet of what Viola Vaughn said...

The program she runs is called 10,000 Girls. Look it up!

That Youtube video doesn't have the part that got me thinking. What began as homeschooling her own grandchildren grew into educating lots of girls and when she told these girls they would need to raise funds to keep things going one of them said to her, "In America, don't girls sell cookies?" She told them yes, they do. The girl responded, "Can't you bake cookies?" And bake they did! They have a bakery now and they're learning life skills and how to support themselves. How awesome is that?!

And I thought: I can bake cookies. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what my "cookies" are going to be...but I recognized that I need to do something to make a difference. I over think the logistics and legalities of things until they feel overwhelming and undoable.

Not the case with a woman that attends church with us though. She saw a story on the news about local children who could not attend school because they didn't have shoes. She began collecting clothes, found a place to store them and began reaching out to local schools and agencies..and she is meeting a need.

I believe each and every one of us has gifts we can use to "bake cookies". The key is figuring out exactly what our gifts are and how to use them...and not being afraid to try. (As with just about everything, I'm working on it. ;) )


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Plan

I listen to the radio. I don't have an MP3 player in the car, haven't got the patience to hook the ipod up to something in the car and the CD player stopped working long ago. (That seems to be a theme with this van...I'm just thankful it gets me from point a to point b. :) )

The Husband (and the children too) will tell you that in addition to listening to the radio, my finger is perpetually on the "scan" button because I don't want to miss a good song by hanging out with a mediocre one. I've been tempering my button pushing urges when I'm riding with others though. I'm at least trying to be considerate. ;)

However, when I'm alone and can scan to my heart's content...I often find myself stopping on talk radio, particularly faith-based sermon type things, especially by women. And that's how I came to remember this verse, one which I had been holding onto quite tightly but seem to have lost lately...

"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope."
— Jeremiah 29:11 (NRSV)

Someone was using this verse as the point of reference and I thought, did I let go of that lifeline? Because that's' what it is...a reminder of hope and a plan even when my own plans seem to be floundering (or totally lost).

It's so easy to forget that my own plan might not be the best plan. It's so easy to get angry and frustrated and look for a person (or persons) to blame. That is not what getting up each day, expecting God to show up is about. And that kind of attitude is not keeping Jeremiah 29:11 in mind. But it's human as human can be...and I'm pretty human.

So while it's easy to worry and get frustrated, to wonder why and how...I am working to remember that God does show up in ways I might not anticipate.

If I keep an open mind, I have a better chance of actually seeing the miracles and opportunities. If I keep an open heart, I will feel the joy and experience the wonder.

Praying that your mind is open to the possibilities and that your heart is open to love.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Morning Run?

See this? I'm not sure how many of my neighbors did this morning. :O

The not-quite-3-yo *I* has learned how to open the front door, deadbolt and all and I had to chase him down the front walk. I was maybe 15 feet away when he made his getaway, so don't go thinking I was being negligent. ;)

I hope that imagining a 26-week pregnant woman chasing a fleet footed preschooler while trying to keep her bathrobe closed makes you laugh. I can laugh about it now, now that I'm not scared spitless that he's going to get into the street.
(My neighbors might wish they had never had that image burned into their retinas, though. ;) )
You'd think that my 8 yo, *N*, the boy nicknamed Turbo by his baseball coaches and teammates for his lightning speed, would have helped me out, but apparently he saw something sparkly and was a little slow getting out of the starting gate.
We know we have to make adjustments to the doors to keep the little man safe but we're hesitant to put any sort of lock up too high for the other boys to reach..just in case. Not to mention, this child is a climber...I think he might be part spider or mountain goat or something. My immediate solution (while I work on teaching him limits, rules and not to run outside without an adult while still watching him like a hawk) is to buy more doorknob covers. They seem to work...for now...or at least they'll slow him down. (Kind of like the gates acting like speed bumps now.) :).
This is the fifth child and we've never had this particular issue arise. Just goes to show all kids are different. He's keeping me on my toes. Maybe it will help me to keep some of the weight off. (Fat chance..pun intended.)
To see him now, you'd never know the boy I described above is the same child. He's hanging out on the couch sucking his thumb. Maybe his attempt at "breaking out" (and the hour sitting in his stroller eating Goldfish and coloring at Mommy's OB appointment) wore him out.
I am thankful that his little trip outside was uneventful. Thanks be to God for that! And if it provided a little comedy for the neighbors...I do what I can. ;)

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's How You Get There...

With all the baseball being played (or rained out) at our house, you'd think I'd be more focused on winning and losing. I'm not. Don't get me wrong, I get excited when one of the boys plays well, scores a run, makes a hit and yes, when their team wins.

However, I'm not a win at all costs kind of gal. I never have been. I guess competition just isn't in my blood. In fact, I avoid competition about as much as I avoid confrontation.

Last week there was story on the news about a local high school baseball coach who was suspended after admitting he had made an error in judgement. He instructed a pitcher to try to "bean" an opposing batter. When the pitcher refused, he was removed from the game. The next pitcher also refused. The pitchers had to stand up to adult authority to do what was right and in the end, the coach admitted his lapse in judgement to the athletic director. In the end everybody did what was right....but wow.

I hope that if or when my boys play high school sports, when their dad or I aren't right there acting as the good angels on their shoulders, they have the strength of character to do the right thing (if there's a question). Right now, they're all blessed with coaches who follow the rules, want the boys to build skills and be good sports. The motto is, "Do your best and have fun. " (Winning is more fun. ;) )

Every once in a while you come across "win at all costs, you must be the best, winning is everything" people. I'm hoping my boys are not among them...whether it be on the field, in the classroom or living life in general, I want my boys to do their best, but not at the expense of another.

I do believe there are some costs not worth paying in order to be the best. Unsportsmanlike behavior, hoarding resources (ever know someone who takes out every book on a subject when a paper is assigned so none of their peers have access?), not slowing down to offer help to someone in need...worrying so much about my own well being that I neglect to see the glaring, urgent need around me...those "me first, too bad for you" behaviors all have a cost. The cost might not be immediately seen or felt, but it's there...kind of like mortgaging a piece of your soul..and the interest..wooo weee!

Some say, "Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser." I don't think so. It's great to celebrate the win, but it's also important to recognize that loss doesn't always equal failure. Being the best isn't always as important as the accomplishment you feel when doing your best. How you get to where you are...that matters far more.

I think a phrase from "American Dream" by Casting Crowns says it pretty well...."He used to say, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins" But if he loses his soul, what has he gained in the end?"

It's more fun to win. It's a bigger ego boost to be at the top of the class than struggling to get a "C". It's more comfortable to have the big house and the fancy car. BUT..what I do on the far more important than the (temporary) destination.

Prayers that your struggles be few, that your successes be measured by your behavior on the journey and that each day you can say, "I did my best".


Friday, May 21, 2010

Regaining Focus...In a Soup Pot

So I have this friend. I've mentioned her before. I call her the most amazing prayer warrior I know. She really is, too. (And as far as I know, she has no idea this blog exists, so I'm not saying this for her benefit. ;) )

I always feel uplifted and convicted when I talk with her. Both of those are good things. She is amazingly faithful and honest. She really speaks the Truth with love and knowledge. Yet, she isn't judgemental (though I definitely know what she does and does not approve of). She's not shy about sharing the Word with people. (That's something I really struggle with.)

She called today and let me tell you, I was so annoyed that the husband kept phoning (I was ignoring the call waiting :O ) and finally he called on my cell so I got off the call with my friend to hear what I already knew....getting his car inspected has become a bit of a nightmare.

My friend, her husband and their five amazingly polite and pleasant children moved to the country on a few acres and recently they've gotten goats and chickens. This is all new to them and she was telling me about the goats' digestive issues and the chickens bullying one of the others....and oh my!

She's busy, but she's focused and she is living life following their beliefs and dreams. How cool is that?

I want to do that, live life according to our beliefs and dreams but it feels like there are so many roadblocks in the way. I'm not sure how to climb the brick walls anymore. Sometimes the car inspections or the kids' poor choices (or mine) or other random things pile up and get in the way of what really matters.

And today that's what I realized after speaking with my friend...I had lost focus. Even when we're talking about vet house calls I can feel the Truth shining through her and I realize I've gotten off track. I'm not envious of her life but I do admire her.

So you know what I did? I made some soup. :) All that chopping and stirring and simmering (and eating) are like meditation. It got me back to center, to basics, to the present. Cooking brought me back to something I can do instead of what's not working or going smoothly. It's a small thing but it's something.

So after my too brief conversation and a pot of tortilla soup, I can see clearly now.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lazy? Spring Evening

I wish I had had my camera. It would have been fun to catch the evening on the memory card (Is that what you say now, because we're no longer using film?) But if I had had my camera, *I* would have been that much harder to catch every time he tried to dash out of the yard or into the neighbor's house.

We played outside in the glorious spring evening. The Husband and *C* were at baseball practice. *N*, *E* and *I* played with the little boys next door while the mom said over and over, "I don't know how you do it." Honey, neither do I, but I do and evenings like this...remind me why. :)

The boys had a blast playing with footballs and darts (with suction cups not pointy metal tips) and climbed trees. It was good fun (except when *I* made a break for it.) Sometimes I forget that they just need to let loose and be loud and run around and be wild. You'd think I would know this by now, but I'm so used to trying to keep them in line so they don't disturb others, make a scene or otherwise call attention to themselves (and me) that I forget that sometimes they just need to run free.

Yesterday I realized that I have been making a parenting mistake I thought I had conquered. Long ago I made a decision not to parent my children to please others. I want them to be respectful and follow rules, don't get me wrong. My desire to "not stand out" (like we can blend in with 5 boys...unless we're at an all boys school...I'm clearly being delusional) has made me want to reign them in a lot more than is (usually) necessary. I realized yesterday that in my desire to be a "good mom" I was trying to micromanage their behavior in the hope it would reflect positively on me.

Maybe instead, I should give everyone I meet a lesson on self-differentiation (And do a refresher myself) and make t-shirts for the family that read, "I am not a puppet. I make my own choices. Sometimes my parents are proud and sometimes they cringe. That's life."

Yesterday, I was proud of the boys. I only cringed once, I think..maybe twice. I am going to embrace their energy and maybe some of it will rub off. :)

In case you're wondering, no one seems to have been traumatized by the lemon square incident. least no one woke from a night terror screaming about lemon squares or mommy crying in the kitchen. ;)

I hope you have a glorious day!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Undoing...

The lemon squares made me do it. No really, I sort of turned into my mother this morning and it was over a pan of lemon squares.

I've made them before but not in a long time and in a flash of *ahem* "brilliance" I decided they would be the perfect thing to bring to MOPS this morning. Umm, no. They taste delicious but the crust was really crisp and when I tried to cut them they looked a little rough around the edges, if you get my meaning.

So there I stood at the kitchen counter sobbing over lemon squares. I couldn't bring those things to MOPS (no matter how good they tasted) and I had too much to do before I left, and I'm as big a house, and every other "crisis" this morning added on top of it and Mama lost it...over the lemon squares.

Such a shining example I was this morning. I feel terrible that I was in mid-crisis when *C* left for school, such a great way for him to go off and face the bullies on the bus (another thing to worry about).

My mom used to get very stressed when she cooked. She didn't cry over food, to my memory, but she got rather unpleasant. ;) There are few things that cause me such distress in the kitchen. (I no longer try to decorate fancy cakes for the boys though, because it was one more way I worked myself into a tizzy and the Husband said, is it really worth it?)

If I made the lemon squares for the family, the outcome would have been fine. If the birthday cake wasn't going to be surrounded by people and covered with candles and pictures weren't going to be taken, I wouldn't stress so much about that either. BUT...the lemon squares were for others and so were the birthday cakes ...and they weren't perfect.

I don't claim to be perfect, but I don't want to highlight my already glaring inadequacies either...and that's what failed lemon squares and imperfectly decorated birthday cakes signified to me. Sometimes I feel like everyone else can manage everything else with such ease and grace, and I'm waddling along (feeling sorry for myself) and being sub-par.

And then it hit me...I was so focused on the appearance that I missed out on what really mattered. Yes, some might judge me by the lemon squares and find me lacking...but others might take a bite and enjoy their tangy deliciousness.

My heart was definitely not in the right place this morning. I missed out on making the best of my lemons (and lemon squares). The teachable moment with my kids...probably taught them the wrong way to handle something that turns out poorly. (Does that mean a double fail? Sigh.)

So this afternoon when I see my boys, I'm going to apologize for my tantrum. I'm going to tell them that sometimes things don't work out but having a meltdown over it isn't going to fix it or make you feel any better. Instead, I usually feel worse because in addition to whatever didn't work out I also feel badly about my reaction.

Sometimes you have to take a deep breath, shrug your shoulders and figure out plan b. Today I was undone by an 8 x 8 pan of dessert. Talk about sweating the small stuff. (Go ahead and roll your eyes...I wouldn't blame you.)

By the way, the lemon and key lime tarts I bought on the way were delicious.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

We sat and sat and sat and sat...and you know what happens the more I sit and wait? (No this is not about potty training :P ) The more I waited for my appointment with the maternal-fetal specialist, the more anxious I got. Well, I guess I was more antsy than anxious.

The Husband was there beside me and a dear sweet friend stayed at home with *I* (and vacuumed my living mother rolled over in her grave, I'm sure, that my living room wasn't picture perfect...but I thank my friend from the bottom of my shame-filled heart.)

My appointment was at 11, I was supposed to get there at 10:30 for admission...and I finally got called back to the room after 12. I paced a little bit while waiting (and started to make plans if the waiting went too much longer as far as childcare etc. because my dear sweet friend had children to get off the bus.)

I did not, like another waiting room resident, go out to the hall and start asking everyone who passed by when she was getting called and so on..I'm not sure whether someone finally took pity on her and called her back or she gave up. (The husband suggested to me that maybe she was getting impatient because her appointment was at 9 ;)...He's good for comic relief. :) )

I thought about leaving, but seeing if everything was OK with the baby girl was too important to me. I did wish I'd brought my knitting though...there are only so many baby magazines I can must have this (overpriced) gadget (ummm, no!), wear this outfit (not with these arms, thank you very much).

So after pacing the waiting room and worrying for the past three weeks....the baby girl looks "dandy". That's exactly what the Dr. said. We even have a three vessel umbilical cord. :) The tech at the radiology office evidently made an inconclusive statement which is what got us the level 2 u/s...and here I was all panicked for 3 weeks about something that wasn't even an issue. Do you hear the angels singing Hallelujah? I kind of thought I did. There were no visible issues. Those are my words, no one else's. (The Dr. did say everything look normal, my word is visible.)

I guess what I'm saying is that while I am walking on air and letting myself get excited about my daughter (because we got confirmation of the gender too) I recognize that we still face unknowns with her, just like we face unknowns with our boys... ourselves too, for that matter.

Some say the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. I look at it differently. I am 100% sure, no matter what, God is walking alongside. No matter what else I face, faith gets me through (especially when I have people who model God in my life.)

I am so thankful for the kindness and prayers. We're truly excited to welcome our baby girl into the world (even if they did move my due date back a week or so :P).


Monday, May 17, 2010


Woo! Busy weekend! But, really who doesn't have a busy weekend..or a busy life? It's part of the joy of it, right? No seriously, I've been thinking about this. I was listening to the oldies station on the radio (80s is oldies...ach!) and Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp (I think that's what he was going by when that song came out???) came on..."Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone." So if you have the patience to read my babble about our weekend of suburban parental stuff...I'll get around to my thoughts on thrills.

Saturday there were errands to run (oops *E* had a Birthday party to attend and Mom left the gift shopping until last minute...just like something else she needed to pick up, *C* needed a pick up from a sleepover, *N* had an 11 am practice, *E* had that party at 1 and then there were baseball games at 6.) Fortunately the Husband and I combined forces, split up the kiddos and headed out to get it all done.

Sunday we all had a hard time getting out of bed but made it to Sunday School. After lunch *J* got his hair cut and I dashed to the craft store to search for some scrapbooking paper before my friend picked me up at 2 for five hours of scrapbooking. (I did five pages of when *E* was 2004).

So I'm driving down the road singing along with the oldies (shudder) and started really thinking about those lyrics... My life is pretty boring. I mean I have friends who take fabulous vacations and live what I consider very sophisticated and interesting lives. They go places and do things. Me? I'm doing laundry, stepping on Legos, changing monthly scrapbooking day is about as wild as it gets. ;) (Unless you're thinking about my beasties and yes, they can be wild. :) )

Don't think I'm complaining....I'm not. This is the life I chose. I'm content; happy even. But I started thinking about what the things are that make life worth living. Maybe I'm just not a thrill seeker? I don't think the big thrills are what it's all about. That right there probably explains so much about me. :O

Or maybe I find thrills in small stuff...a successful trip to Target (meaning by the time we checked out, I did not want to tear my hair out. :) ), hearing that my 10 yo played his best and hustled on the baseball field, teaching Sunday School to pre-kindergartners, eating meals as a family, getting all the kids to bed, watching a movie with the Husband...I do confess that sometimes I am envious of my friends' interesting lives, but we all have our unique lives and the grass is always greener....

But if the thrill of living is gone...does that mean we're only in it for the big stuff? The first date, the first kiss, the first anything? Is that what always needing more and bigger and better and keeping up with the Jones' is all about? Is it about constantly trying to find the big thrills? If it is...I think we're missing out on something. Correction...we ARE missing out on something. All you have to do is spend just a little time seeing things through the eyes of a small child to recognize this.

So while I get to live my mundane life, I have the privilege of seeing the small stuff and appreciating it. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the busyness and getting whatever done (am I being Mary or Martha?) that I miss things and when I miss things I forget about what life is about and the "thrill" of all the small stuff that means so very much.

I hope that somehow, I can model for my kids that the thrill of living is not about the big stuff and it's not something external. The thrill of living is in the actual act of living and breathing. It's a gift not to be taken lightly.

I pray you can find big joys (thrills even) in the little, mundane parts of your day.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Feeling the Love

I did not run away yesterday. Whenever I joke about it, the Husband says he would find me. I think he'd be fine raising 5 boys solo, but he seems to find my presence necessary to keep things running what passes as smoothly. It's good to be needed...and when someone values your worth and what you do.

I was reading The Power of the Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian the other day. In it she was talking about how feeling valued and loved helps you to let the negative comments of others roll off more easily. In other words, if my kids feel valued, accepted and loved at home, they will be less likely to take it to heart when someone says something hurtful or demeaning.

I think that for the most part it is true. I don't think it means we affirm them always, giving false praise and an inflated sense of self-worth so that they begin to think they're the center of the universe, and that's not what she was suggesting either. Instead, it's about that unconditional love we try to give as parents. It's listening and taking an active interest and saying "I love you" and being emotionally present.

I think the reason I can be the person I am is because I have the partner I have. I could not be as at peace with the other struggles if I didn't have a man like the Husband walking alongside through it all, to affirm and value me as a woman, a wife and a mother.

I'm not perfect. I've said that before and I'll say it again and again. We don't always agree. BUT I know that no matter what else, I am valued and loved by him. The Husband does a pretty good job of loving me as Christ loved the church. (I, however, am not so good at following the first part of that statement. )

I pray that you feel valued and loved and that you can share that with your family too.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

You Can't Quit

My motto is, "Those who turn and run away live to fight another day." (I don't know who said it.) In other words, when the going gets tough, I'd gladly run in the other direction or bury my head in the sand. I'm not proud of it...but if I'm being honest....I am a bit of a anti-confrontational wimpy type. (I can still hear my mother saying, "That's it, run away" whenever there was an argument in the house when I was growing up I would go upstairs. They were never violent, I just don't like the confrontation.)

Today I realized that while sometimes being a parent is painful, I can't quit, run away or bury my head in the sand. I have to advocate when something is not quite right. I have to address the issues. I need to be a big girl.

To use one of my 5 yo's phrases, I don't love it.


But, really, I can't just pick up my Barbies and hit the road, ya know? Their dad and I are entrusted with their care. I kind of have an obligation here. God gave me this privilege and I need to do what I was called to do, regardless of how hard or easy it is.

Fortunately, along with the privilege God gives me the support. When I feel worried or sad, I need to turn it over to God. While I might not always be able to fix the boys' problems, I can be present to say, "I love you." I can remind them that they are Children of God and that they are to be examples of God's love even when they are facing adversity (or unreasonable people.)

So I can't just run away....and I never would. But sometimes, I'd like a little vaca from the worry and the stress. I know what I need to do is fully turn it over to God...I'm working on it.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Obstacles...Or Not.

Scrrrrrrrrrrrch. Scrrrrrrrrrrrch. Any guesses what that sound is (supposed to be ;) )? Do you give up? That would be the sound of a chair sliding across the tile kitchen floor. I turned to see *I* sliding the chair across the floor. He was watching me to see my reaction.

I didn't move. I waited and watched. You see, I have learned that if he is caught in the act and I respond immediately, he abandons his mission and I was really curious what he was going after with this chair. He wasn't in immediate danger so I waited him out while he watched me all smiles and innocence.

His objective was a pastry box on the counter. He had no idea what delight might be awaiting him, but this box was new and must be investigated. (At least I assume that's what he was thinking ;) )

I am no longer surprised by my boys' problem solving skills. For many years I have observed great feats of engineering and creativity to achieve their objectives. Fortunately, no one has been injured in these attempts...yet. (I have to say "yet" and knock on wood too, lest I jinx myself. ;) )

I am glad they have such skills and I hope that as they get older, they can use these skills to scale any "brick walls" that someone may place in the way of their (honorable) goals, whether they be the brick and mortar walls or intangible obstacles.

The boys also have the valuable trait of determination. Well, it's mostly valuable..sometimes it drives me bonkers. Sometimes pushing hard for something you want is a great thing, but there is also the whole "be reasonable" thing.

When *J* was 3 or 4 he wanted to go to the moon and he was EXTREMELY angry that he could not hop the next rocket ship to get there. Pretending just didn't cut it. No matter how much he begged, cried or yelled, we weren't going to be able to convince NASA to send our preschooler into space. (Although after this tantrum, I would have signed the consent...maybe.)

Not everything they are determined to get is as "unreasonable" as a trip into space. Sometimes it's something we don't have time for or cannot afford. Sometimes it's unsafe or inappropriate for them. That doesn't matter to them. They WANT it.

I think that's why I love this quote so much. "Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable, inasmuch as he has the fountain of reason in him not yet regulated." Plato

They're bright and tenacious and great at solving problems, but they aren't always reasonable. It's our job as their parents to be that voice of reason for them. It doesn't always make us popular but that's part of the job description.

We often have to make our own judgement calls about when to let them "problem solve" and when to shut down the operation. Sometimes I don't catch the determined "trouble shooter" in time and they make a bad choice...and then there are consequences. But, God uses all things for good, even the consequences. :)

This morning..there were no "consequences"...and being the softy I am, *I* got a taste of the pastry. :)


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lullabies to Monopoly...

"May God bless and keep you always. May your Wishes all come true. May you always do for others and let others do for you. May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung and may you stay forever young." Bob Dylan wrote Forever Young, and I grew up hearing Joan Baez sing it.

I used to sit for hours listening to my mom's Joan Baez albums and Simon and Garfunkel, Jim Croce and Charles Aznavour too. (The Aznavour albums are a special memory because they were in french and my mother would translate some of the lyrics.)

Forever Young is one of the songs I used to sing to my babies as a lullaby. I would sit in the rocking chair and rock and sing and they didn't complain if I was off key or forgot some of the words and hummed instead.

It's good to remember those days when just being mom was enough. I didn't embarrass them by existing, as long as their needs were met they were happy. (We have to explain the meaning of need and want these days. ;) )

Now that personalities, likes and interests have emerged, we have different relationships. I am still their mom, not their friend, but I need to find those common things we can share. The Husband has found it easier to bond with the boys because they all share the interest in trains, baseball, Monty Python, Star see where I'm heading with this?

I can show interest in their interests, but it's not the same as bonding over which train line runs where or baseball stats..because it's not stuff that is part of who I am. So I find it easier, more natural, to bond with them over nature hikes, books (the middles and I read Farmer Boy and the Adirondack Kids series together last year and it was wonderful) and games. I also like to surprise them with homemade cookies or other little treats like that. (*N* wrote in his Mother's Day paragraph about me that I'm smart because I know recipes for things like Sugar and Spice cookies and French Bread. :O )

So, like I shared the music with my mom, I find other things to share with the boys.

It gets more complicated than lullabies as they get older, but as I watch them grow I only hope they stay "forever young" in how they see the, accepting and with childlike faith.


Monday, May 10, 2010

The Other 364...

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a beautiful Mother's Day full of those special moments that make you say, "aaah, these children are so wonderful. This is what it's all about." I know many people did. I saw their happy facebook posts about their perfect day.

My day...well, I got cards and thoughtful, loving gifts. I got hugs and lots' of "I love you, Mom"s. BUT the truth is, if you have to say something to the effect of, "I don't care how much he was kicking, elbowing or annoying you, it is never, ever okay to punch your younger brother [in church]" your day probably isn't going the way you'd like it to. Do you get my meaning? So I cried a lot yesterday. (Who am I kidding, I cry a lot anyway. ;) )

Today is a new day. I won't get cards or gifts. There will be no repeat of yesterday (and not just because we won't be in church.) Today I am changed. My heart feels bruised.

Like last Monday, I'm starting the day thanking God for this new day, expecting that He will "show up." I know I have lots of little things to get done. None of my chores is as important as caring for my children.

As I told the boys yesterday at lunch, it's not the cards and the "I love you"s on one Sunday of the's how they behave toward me and each other (and others too) every single day of the year that matters to me. Lip service one day of the year isn't what I'm looking for. I'm hoping and praying that I'm raising boys that love God and each other...that are there for each other, that care for each other, that will honor and respect each other and the others they come in contact with.

Honestly, that's what being a mom is about for's not about them loving me...I didn't have kids so they could love me. My prayer is that they will be, and continue to grow into, people who share God's love with others.

I hope that everyone had a marvelous yesterday and that today and tomorrow are just as filled with love.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day Eve (Morning)... I Admire....

Do you know who I admire? People who can be open about their fears. People who can be open about their troubles. People who can let others see their vulnerabilities. People who have grace and dignity. People who always look put together.

Please note, I said admire not envy, because the two are very different and I'm working very hard not to be envious of what others have. I recognize that I am not equipped to handle what others have or what they do not have. (I read that sentiment somewhere and it made an impression.)

I harbor no illusions that I appear to be totally together. I probably look flustered by my life more than I actually feel flustered. (And I do spend a great deal of energy acting like I'm not bothered by something my very human children are doing.) I am rarely (if ever) "put together". I harbor no illusions that people think I'm "Super Mom."

But I'd like to at least appear as "together" and confident as the people around me..or at least as "together" as I see them. :) My biggest struggle is being open about my fears and struggles. I can be open with some people some of the time. However, I'm careful about who I share with.

Do you want to know why? Because I am afraid that all people will really be thinking is that I probably wouldn't be facing these issues if I didn't have "all those kids". (When I was pregnant with #3 someone close to me said, "You should have thought of that before you had all those kids." when one was sick and I had morning yes, I fully expect it to be what is running through anyone's mind when I have a problem.)

But, you know what? Other than having more kids playing baseball or more kids complaining about what's for struggles aren't very different than someone with one or two kids. I have the very same fears and worries, hopes and dreams.

I admit that this might be all in my head. A chip on my shoulder. An expectation of covert, if not overt, judgement of our choices. So I use these chips to build a wall to protect myself from the hurt that comes from those who make the "off the cuff" comments that cut so deeply.

BUT...when I can let myself be open that I'm hurting or scared or could use a "little help!" and I get the acceptance and support I so dearly need...whew! That is awesome! I am going to take some lessons from the people I admire and be more open about my fears. (The worries we have about the baby have helped me grow in this area already and I am thankful for the prayers and support I have received.)

So on this Mother's Day weekend, I wish every mom of one or many a wonderful day and a life full of supportive people to help them achieve their goals as moms. I pray that we can be open with our weaknesses and not need to feel like super women completing a huge list of daily accomplishments to see our value. Sometimes just being a regular old human mother, leaning on some other humans for pretty super too.


Friday, May 7, 2010

"Mom! Mom! Mom!"

A few years ago, right after *I* was born, I cut a Baby Blues cartoon out of the newspaper and hung it on the refrigerator.

The comic is in three frames. The first frame is labeled First Baby and mom is saying, "Can you say Mommy?" over and over. The second frame is labeled Second Baby and baby #1 is saying "Mommy!" over and over while mom is saying to baby, "Can you say Mommy too?" The third frame, labeled Third Baby, has the two children saying (yelling?) "Mommy!" over and over and the mom is saying to baby, "Say anything as long as it's not Mommy."

Obviously I identified with this comic when I cut it out. Today, *I* has been saying "Mommy" over and over and over again, whenever he picks up a toy, whenever he does anything. To be honest, while I am very thankful for his growing abilities, hearing "Mommy" over and over and over starting to wear a little bit on my nerves.

And then I remembered..not only this cartoon, but something that was said at MOPS the other day. A sweet woman was talking about how sometimes the little things about being a mom are what wear her down and one of her friends suggested that instead of thinking of it as "I have to do X,Y or Z" think of it as "I get to do X,Y or Z."

I had a light bulb moment while standing at the kitchen island struggling with the battery door on a train while listening to the "Mom" refrain from one sweet little voice. I GET to hear "Mom" from that sweet little voice. And it's a privilege I shouldn't take for granted. I don't, in the grand scheme of things, take my children for granted. I look at each of them as a unique blessing. But sometimes I crave a little bit of quiet, some space for concentration and introspection. Sometimes I just want to complete a task in peace. ;)

I get to spend my day with this little guy (and I miss all the other beasties when they're away at school.) I get to learn a lot from these little guys. Things like how to really listen, how to multi-task, how to focus and how to be patient.

I get to watch each of these children learn and grow. Some days feel a little louder than others. Some days I say I'm changing my name. But each and every day I need to remember that the "Mom" refrain will eventually fade. While it might be a little wearing at times, this is a season I will remember fondly.

Hearing "Mom" over and over is really quite a special gift...and while I might joke about changing my could never change who I am, who I get to be.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Today I'm...All Over the Place.

Today...I'm wondering...why every time I do "pay-at-the-pump" at the gas station I still have to go in to get my receipt. Why can't they have a little paper is empty light or something. Seriously I would go to a different pump just for the convenience of not having to remove *I* from his car seat to schlep in for my receipt. I mean it kind of defeats the whole convenience factor, don't you think? (Can you tell this really irritated me this morning? ;) )

Today..I'm thankful...that I went to the grocery store and bought the food I wanted/needed. I could take it for granted, but I don't have to look very far to see people struggling for basics. I know that many people are one paycheck or personal crisis away from hunger and maybe even homelessness. To take a saying from my Mom, "There but by the grace of God go I."

Today...I...opened two e-mails from women with whom I have the privilege of attending MOPS. Both of them expressed to the whole group something that I feel every time I go to MOPS...Thankfulness for the support and friendship. Thankfulness for the knowledge that we can each come as we are on the inside (where we might be feeling stressed and flustered and overwhelmed by life) and on the outside...(where I personally feel like a big ol' pregnant mess and yet these women say how great I look even though they're all polished and beautiful. :)) I love them for stroking my fragile and hormonal ego. ;) grateful for the wonderful friends I have made and the terrific family I have.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Knit With Love

This is the sweater I'm knitting for baby*M*. I think it's going to be sooo adorable! I can envision her wearing it with bright pink tights (or maybe some coordinating babylegs) and a skirt. :) *C* suggested I knit her a hat to go with it too. :) I'm thinking something kind of jaunty like a beret. What do you think?
I'm using this pattern and self-striping sock yarn. The yarn the creator of the pattern used had different striping, but it's been discontinued. :( The back panel has been completed and the front panel is in progress. I was almost done with the front panel when I dropped a stitch and it kept getting worse and worse as I tried to pick it up so I frogged it. It's not like I don't have time. I mean she's not going to be wearing this until October, right?
The needles in the picture aren't the needles I started with. I was doing this on a size one circular needle even though it's done flat. BUT last week *I* tried to pull the knitting from my hands and snapped my needle. (Mommy was not happy. :P) The store was all out of size one circular needles soooo feeling desperate to knit, I bought a set of double points and some point protectors and it seems to be working pretty well. Actually, I think it will work out better for attaching the sleeves using a 3 needle bind off (whatever that is...Google will be my friend when I get to that step.)
My mom taught me to knit scarves when I was little but I never got any further than that. When we went to seminary, many of the women were knitters and I decided to pick it up again. Between some generous help and what I read in books and online, I'm willing to try most any pattern. I mean, if it doesn't look right you can just rip it all out, re-roll the yarn and start over. LOVE that.
Knitting relaxes me and feels so productive. I love feeling the wool or silk or alpaca (not a fan of artificial fibers and the way they feel between my fingers). I love the colors and the creative process. It feels good to take a hank of yarn and make something useful out of it. It challenges me too, because I'm learning something new.
Would it be easier and cheaper to just buy a sweater, hat or scarf? Maybe. But when I knit something for someone, I'm knitting it up with prayers and love.
And as the song goes..."Cant buy me love."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Those Days...

Do you ever have one of those days? No, not the bad, everything is going wrong days. Do you ever have one of those days when at the end of the day you feel refreshed even though you're exhausted... Where everything feels right with the world?

Those days leave me with a deep-down contentedness that gets my attention every time. I actually stop in the midst of the feeling and think, "This is what it's all about." (Not the Hokey Pokey. ;) )

Saturday we didn't do anything special. We went out for lunch. We took a long ride. We grilled...We spent the day together..And before baths and showers, we roasted marshmallows and played outside. It was just the perfect ending to a low-key day...and I was thankful. Thankful for the Husband and the children and the time spent together.

It's so easy to take these little pieces of everyday life for granted. They don't require elaborate planning. They're not flashy. But these days are what life is mostly about, don't you think? I mean we can live life for the big vacation once or twice or however many times a year (which are terrific, don't get me wrong), or we can experience each day as an opportunity to build relationships and experience the simple joys of living.

I forget that sometimes...Appreciating the simple joys. I'm not proud of it. Sometimes I get wrapped up in what isn't happening instead of what is. Not the greatest example for my kids, I know. But, like so many things, I'm working on it.

Thankfully, after a wonderfully simple but joyful day, I am reminded, at least for a little while, of what makes me truly deep-down to the tips of my toes happy.

Monday, May 3, 2010


"You've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world, all the love in your heart. Then people gonna treat you better, you're gonna find, yes you will, that you're beautiful as you feel." Carole King, "Beautiful"

I love this song. I can remember listening to my sister's Carole King album when I was a little girl and singing along. Then, I remember having this on a mix tape in college and later the Husband bought me a Carole King CD.

I thought of this song again when I was reflecting on the sermon yesterday. We had a dynamic guest preacher who gave a wonderful message, or at least one that I really needed to hear. He was talking about waking up every morning expecting God to show up. Not in an "End Times" kind of way, but waking up in the expectation that God would be there with you. I think he called it " The expectation of the anticipation of God's manifestation." (My apologies to The Reverend Coplin if I got it wrong.)

I wake up believing that God is with me, but I also tend to wake up praying that something bad won't happen instead of expecting something good to happen. Kind of like the difference between going through life with a smile or a frown, don't you think?

So yesterday I decided to walk into situations expecting the best and not allowing the negatives to even get a foothold. A big undertaking considering my propensity to cup half-empty thinking. BUT...this is something I'm determined to work on. (With God's help.)

After all, how much of my life do I waste worrying about possibilities that never happen. And how many beautiful things do I miss when I'm on the lookout for the other shoe to drop. Too much and too many! So today is a new day. The Husband has this outlook, do you think he's going to take it personally that I had to hear it from a total stranger for it to sink in? I guess it's like when my kids believe what their teacher says even if I've told them a zillion times. ach! :)

So on this new day, I am going to work harder to walk in God's ways and clean up my act...and expect God to show up. Yes, He might show up to carry me through trouble (because God doesn't promise a life free of trouble, he promises we'll never be alone in it)..But He's going to be here and that frees me to smell the flowers or appreciate the raindrops...and live in the "Expectation of the anticipation of God's manifestation."