Saturday, July 31, 2010

Where's the Line?

I wrote recently that baseball season for my players had ended.

I lied. Maybe I should say that things changed after I wrote that. That's not lying, it's going with the flow.

Later that evening we got a phone call inviting *N* (8) to play on our league's 8 and under team for a local tournament. Our league is coach pitch, their competitors were accustomed to the pitching machine. Our kids were a bunch of kids from different teams while their competition were from travel teams that have been playing together for probably a month.

But they're all kids 8 and under. (Although seeing the size of some of them I thought maybe we should be checking birth certificates. ;) )

To say that my son's team is getting walloped would be accurate. It's a new experience for them and they're learning. I know that it's hard to struggle on the field. I know that they're all doing their best. I am thankful their coaches aren't screaming at them.

To be honest, hearing the way some of the coaches on the other teams are screaming at the players..ummm yeah, I'm glad my boy is playing where he is.

I know that we've lucked out with my boys' coaches through the years. They focus on sportsmanship and skills and having fun. Guess what? They win most of the time. (Well, when they play in their league they do.)

I have respect for the coaches my sons have played with. I don't know if I could respect someone who was screaming at the kids one minute and in the next breath was telling them to relax.

I hate to say this folks but, "It's only a game." As my husband (who is passionate about sports, trust me) tells the kids, it's "Play ball not work ball." For the record, it drives him nuts when I say, "It's only a game." ;)

That being said, I hate to see my kid lose. I hate to see the ball roll by as someone stares at it. I sit on my hands mumbling, "Go get it." I wonder if we should be offering my boy who eats, sleeps and breathes baseball a different kind of experience.

Then I remember, he's only 8. He will learn much more and get much better and he will do all of this because of who he is as a person and because he is passionate about the game. Having coaches that are screaming at him won't make him better. Having coaches that stretch the rules to suit their own team won't teach him about ethics or fair play...make him decide he's had enough and it's not fun anymore? Yes. Want to get better and work harder? Probably not so much.

The line between wanting them to do their best and winning at all costs is a fine one and apparently is blurrier for some than others. I want *N* to have pride in a game well and honestly played...and also humility because every single thing he accomplishes, that anyone accomplishes is done by the grace of their God-given gifts and abilities. And I'm pretty sure that God wouldn't want anyone misusing His gifts.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Woman Versus Mop..Mop wins!

Picture this...woman wakes up at 6:30 am with nothing on her mind but mopping her kitchen floor.

That says either this woman is a cleaning fanatic or the floor has gotten to the point where she just can't take it anymore because her feet stick to it whenever she walks past the refrigerator. (The fact that she walked past the refrigerator does deserve kudos though. ;) )

This woman bought a new mop because they no longer sell replacement heads for the mop she bought less than two years ago. New mop shares a brand name with a popular cleaning product brand, she even buys replacement mop heads. She does not know where the receipt is. (Yes, this is important.)

Woman sweeps floor picking up Legos, magnetic letters, and the stray silly band. (Meanwhile 5 yo refuses to help pick up toys found on kitchen floor but whines at her about being hungry. Having very little sympathy she growls about how much longer he will wait because he refuses to help out a little.)

She fills her bucket with steaming hot water and the environmentally friendly cleaner. She takes plastic off mop head, everything looks right, plunges mop into steaming water pulls it out and pulls the lever to squeeze....and the mop head flies off.

What?! After manually squeezing the very hot water out she puts roller mop head back in. She tests it before putting it back in the bucket...Good thing because it goes flying. She looks for secret catches and mechanisms and finds none. Mop head flies out whenever the mechanism to squeeze out the water is engaged.

36 week pregnant woman is starting to rant a little bit about how all she wants is a clean floor, She is teary but not sobbing..yet.

Ranting brings down the Husband wondering what she is upset about. Husband attempts to find the problem and says repeatedly, "this makes no sense." Husband stays remarkably calm. (Clearly a sparkly kitchen floor isn't as important to him as it is to the hormonal, pregnant (nesting?) wife.)

The Husband saves the day. He doesn't find the secret trick to the mop. Instead the man starts mopping then wringing out the mop with his hands.

Woman now has a clean floor. :)

She still feels an intense desire to clean the rest of the house...but she's not mopping....until she buys a new mop. (She's dreaming of a steam mop but doesn't want to spend $100.) She is willing to vacuum but just mentioning that word sends the 3 yo running upstairs sobbing because he is so afraid of the device...woman wonders if that is always such a bad thing. ;)

Are you wondering why this woman and her husband couldn't get a roller mop to work? Me too!

*** update: the woman phoned the "800" number on the mop packaging. She explained the issue to a very pleasant customer service agent who is forwarding the information to "Quality Control" and sending a whole new mop system. The woman is pleased with the outcome and will stick with conventional mops for now...especially after reading some less-than-stellar reviews of steam mops online.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Do You Want Me to Stop This Car?!

A friend wrote recently about keeping the children from fighting in the car.

I think most people deal with it from time to time.

I know the old, "If you don't stop, I'm going to pull over!" routine but really, I've discovered that the person with the most invested in getting wherever we are headed is usually not involved in the fracas...usually it's me, the driver and "keeper of the peace."

(Peace being relative, of course. ;) )

I have "threatened" to make the loudest offender ride on the roof. (I picture having them strapped to the top of the van like Granny in her rocking chair a la The Beverly Hillbillies.) One of the boys takes it literally and thinks it would be cool, one of them tells me I would go to jail...sometimes the mere mention causes the distraction everyone needs to bring a sense of (relative) calm and order.

The potential for discontent and the need for elbow room are one of the reasons we want to replace our current (limping and wheezing, but still getting us where we need to go) 7 passenger van with a 12 passenger instead of going for something that seats 8. I've been keeping my eyes open for something affordable (aka cheap) that will get the job done.

A couple of months ago I thought I saw the van that would solve all my problems. A local "Mom and Pop" car lot had not one but two bigger passenger vans that were, according to the numbers written on their windshields, a REALLY good deal.

The following day, the husband and I took a ride over to look longingly at them. It was very interesting...there was lots of steal, and I don't mean the body. They had mesh/fencing covering all the windows and between the front seat and the rear of the van. The light bulb went on...we were looking at used prison vans. (I do think this would have been a little extreme to deal with bickering, don't you?)

I wondered aloud how much it would cost to get all the mesh removed but the reality is that I couldn't see myself transporting my sweet little darlings in such a van. (It's all about perspective isn't it? They might sometims fight like cats and dogs, but it gave me the heebie jeebies thinking about strapping my "innocents" (go ahead and laugh) in there.)

A limo with that privacy glass between the driver and passengers...that I maybe could deal with. ;)


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On the Fence...

I read this and thought "Yes!" because in so many ways this speaks to the yearnings of my heart. Maybe I read it and felt validated because I enjoy doing all sorts of "domestic" things at home with my passel of children. Who knew such things were so "radical"?!

While I don't see myself ever raising livestock though because I am a big ol' chicken, there are parts of homesteading that sound downright appealing. To be honest,though, there are certain creature comforts I just "need". The Husband could tell you that the way I whine about my van's lack of working A/C is well, let's just say I could give a two-year-old a run for his money. I just don't do well in the heat, I guess.

But...the concepts of sustainability, of social justice, and of doing things from scratch...they speak to the part of me that yearns for a patch of our own land where we can grow a big garden and the boys can run free. I love to knit and have been wanting to learn to spin for a while.

I have pieces of expensive paper that say I've studied hard (or at least studied), but what I really yearn to do is be home with the boys and cook things from scratch, knit their socks and hats and sweaters and be their primary educator. I crave the ability to chuck most of the consumerism. ("Most" because I do still find myself drooling over other people's stuff...there's still a part of me that longs to spend with abandon and engage in "retail therapy.")

Even though there are days when I think that I surely will go stark raving mad fromthe shrieking (theirs, not mine...mostly) or that I will be highly qualified to be a bouncer at a biker bar after breaking up so many brawls, I long for the homeschooling experience and responsibility. (I also fear that we'd drop the ball horribly and prevent our kids from reaching full potential.)

I guess what I truly yearn for is the courage to truly live my convictions...I think. It's easy to romanticize a "simpler life." The truth is making everything from scratch is not easy. Growing your own food and knowing it has to sustain you is a lot of hard, sweaty, dirty work. (Right now we simply do not have the space. Excuse or reality? Your guess is as good as mine.)

I live in a culture of convenience and I have enjoyed the spoils, mostly. There's a difference between baking a loaf of bread when the mood strikes and knowing that if I don't knead it, it won't be there when I want it. When I'm craving a sweet treat, if I haven't planned ahead, that craving is going to have to wait until the butter softens, the oven heats and the cookies are cool.

For now, I will be content to bake the bread when the menu warrants or the mood strikes, to knit up the sweater or socks as a special thing and have the pleasure of working through the boys' homework or interests while they still attend public school. I will operate on a case by case basis and recognize that nothing is in stone.
While I'm not really as "radical" as some, I am inspired by their stories and also self-aware enough to realize that I can't go quite that deep yet or ever...but I never thought I'd have 5, almost 6 kids either so what the future holds is a mystery.
I guess when it comes to the simpler life, I'm on the fence...

I pray that we each can find the strength, opportunity and balance to live our convictions and our dreams.


Filling the Void

"I lift my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2. NIV

Sometimes I feel like saying, "Little help!" Hellooooo anybody out there?

I was reflecting on this today as I was feeling a wee bit sorry for myself. Maybe it was the migraine that greeted me as I awoke, maybe it was something else. Whatever it was, I was feeling really annoyed by some things. I was starting to fester...

Then I remembered the song "Praise You in This Storm" by Casting Crowns which highlights this verse from Psalm 121 and I was reminded that my help and my support first and foremost come from God, that God can fill a void no human could ever fill.

Disclaimer [No Husband, this is not directed at you. You are my companion through this loony life and I cannot expect any more from you than you already give. Although you are 100 % human and I will not be nominating you for sainthood anytime soon..although living with me might qualify you as a martyr. ;) )

So anyway...I was festering which is never productive. Like venting, it just fertilizes the pot of bad feelings and allows them to grow and get a life of their own. Whatever void I'm feeling, I certainly don't want to fill it up with a big bunch of festering yuck.

Sometimes it requires a little mental stop sign. I have to slam on the brakes. Adjust my expectations. Remember that I will not be fully fed by other people just as I cannot fully feed anyone, even the children God has blessed me with. I can give them food and shelter and love but it will never be enough. Only God can give them (and me) everything needed.

It's much easier to accept human foibles when I remember this.

Praying that you can feel full today and every day.


Monday, July 19, 2010

The End.

It's the end of a boys' baseball season.

Last night the 5 yo and 8 yo both had the privilege of playing on their respective All-Star teams and had a great time. This was *E*'s first year playing and *N* is just finishing up his third season. *E* enjoys it, but for *N* it's a passion. He is so enthusiastic and he hustles and at the risk of bragging on my own boy, he is pretty good, and constantly striving to get better. *N* has had the same coaches for two years and last year they gave him a nickname that still sticks..."Turbo". Did I mention the boy can run like the wind? ;)

*N* is also a fan of the band Casting Crowns and in particular a song called "The Voice of Truth". He likes to listen to the song on YouTube. There is a version of it that incorporates parts of the movie Facing the Giants. It's an incredible movie about or lose, give the glory to God. Noah has been asking to see the whole movie so it should be coming form Netflix soon. (We're kind of slow getting through the queue.)

*N*'s team is good but they had their own minor Facing the Giants game this season against an undefeated team. The first time they played them, their third baseman managed to catch a ball and throw "Turbo" out at first. (Wow!)

The second time they played we were hopeful but a little nervous. Younger brother *E* got called up to play in the game so they'd have enough players. This is a common practice in our league and becomes more common later in the season with vacations and such.

*N* played well and made some awesome plays in the field and some great hits too. *E* did his best in the field and got great support from the coaches and the team...and when our t-ball player (3 pitches then to T) got up to hit... he hit the ball from the pitch every single one of the 6 times he got up (last in the line-up) and was responsible for 6 RBIs! Not because anyone gave him mercy but because he got up there and did his best...and the undefeated team was no more because as a team, even with a 5 yo, their team faced their own giants and won. (Much rejoicing!)

Now I'm pretty sure the coaches didn't give them a "For the glory of God" speech before the game (although *N*'s coach teaches amazing sportsmanship which impresses me)...but I hope that our boys have heard the Husband and I harp enough about sportsmanship and doing your best and everything we do being a gift from God that maybe just maybe, my boys realize that when they get out on that field they're Children of God and their main goal is to show people what that looks like through actions and words. (And to have fun too. :) )

I will not lie to you, I have called this the baseball season that never ends (many rain outs = many make-up games.) I have grumbled about messed up dinner schedules. But, last night watching the joy and pride with which my boys played their last games....makes it worth the minor inconveniences.

I am thankful they have the ability to enjoy this game...and when I say ability, I don't mean major league worthy skills, I mean the ability to participate at all. I am thankful that we can be there to watch them. I am thankful that the Husband is there to encourage them and their teammates. I am thankful that there are lots of other responsible and caring adults willing to put forth the time and energy to coach.
It's such a simple thing, this game (and I do say it's just a game) but it can teach so many great things, not just skills but life lessons about winning, losing, how you behave in those situations, how you work with someone different than you...lessons that hopefully these kids will take into daily life with them. (And I think the adults in their camp chairs can learn a thing or two as well.)
We all face our giants in life and I pray we can all remember that win or lose, we give the glory to God who is always with us.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

If Patience is a Virtue...

Then impatience is...a vice, right?

There are so many ways to be impatient. I lose patience waiting, I am not always patient with others...I want things when I want them, I sometimes resent the work that goes into a finished product even when I know the outcome will be totally worth the effort and the wait.

We live in an instant gratification society. I like it. Too much. ;) I recognize that. I realize that there are issues with getting everything exactly when I want it and without effort or thought.

I am learning to wait. If there is one thing I have learned from my children, it's waiting. The oldest was 15 days late, the second was 11 days overdue and the third kept us waiting for 4 days. After that I had a new OB in a new place and well, they liked to schedule things, which worked for me. :)

I have no idea how the Dr here feels about it. I'm a little anxious about it, but also very content to wait.

I am in no hurry. I know that shortly after Miss M is due to arrive the boys will be returning to school and as much as they can make me batty, I will miss them and be waiting anxiously for their return home.

I am relaxing into waiting, realizing that as much as I desire a plan, a date and time and a schedule, it's not up to me so much. I am not rushing to prepare, but I am starting to lay the groundwork.

Life has a way of rushing by me, particularly when I'm lacking patience. I miss things. It's like when you take a hike and you walk swiftly with your head down, trying to get to the end. I don't want to walk through life that way.

I'd much rather take it a little slower and see the details. That's something else I've learned from my kids. It's much better to view things through the eyes of a small child. When we're outside *I* will say, "I hear birds" or point to flowers or bugs. At 3 he understand life is about the journey, perhaps because he hasn't got his head down on a mission to reach the destination, a destination he might not even be aware of .

And any of us know what our destination really is or will end up being? We think we do, but life has a way of happening independent of our plans. Patience and observation while on the journey can help us the appreciate our destination.

Thankfully, we're never walking on the journey alone. I love that as I walk through life, I can open up my heart to God and express my impatience. I can express my fears and worries and lack of understanding to Him. I know that if I am open to growing along the journey, if my eyes and heart are open, I will find many reasons to be patient and even awestruck along the way.

My children, in all their imperfect glory, are leading me and teaching me and being the hands and feet of God to me each and every day. (Sometimes it's a little more undercover than others. ;) )

Wishing you pleasure and patience along your journey. We might not always understand the path we're on, but in the long run may you find...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Necessity...The Mother of I Never...

They say "Necessity if the mother of invention." I say, "I'm the mother and by necessity we will try something new." I'm just full of new things this week. :O

First I'm feeding the boys ice cream for dinner and then I'm...calling for family rest time.

Wednesday night I didn't sleep well and I was tired and a little bit (or maybe a whole lot) crabby. I decided that I would lie down with *I* as he was the only one I worried about being downstairs without supervision. The others were involved with Legos and mind wasting activities which should have, in theory, kept them occupied for a few minutes.

No sooner did we get upstairs than the middle boys started bickering and running around and shrieking. (Teenager was in his room doing schoolwork...because you know you can't have the summer off, you have to have a bunch of reading and papers to do for the coming school year.)

So I went to the top of the stairs and said, "That's it. Everyone upstairs to their own beds for 45 minutes. (Because if you don't specify there's sure to be a party. ;) ) *I* and I snuggled up and fell asleep. I woke up about 45 minutes later with the 5 yo standing beside my bed to tell me what time it was. :) But they listened and I got some quiet and rest. :)

I have friends who do rest time for the family. I don't think I would do it every day and I am fairly certain it will not become a tradition in anyone's mind, not even mine. But yesterday, it worked.

Learning what works and what doesn't isn't a static, one shot thing. Life doesn't work that way either. So I am continuing to think outside the box, admittedly I'm still hanging out right on the edge. I cannot predict what a given day will bring, and I am learning to embrace that.

I could try to plan and control everything, but that leaves me frustrated and disheartened. Instead, I am learning to go with the flow. There's a fine line between "letting go and letting God" and becoming complacent. I guess the key is to focus on God and not on myself. I've found when I do that, the other stuff seems to work better...even when it's not my view of perfection or exactly what I envision...I can feel a lot more content where I am.

I pray that each of us can find rest and contentment in the times when we need it most.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Never..

I have never played "I never". But that's not what I'm writing about.

I'm going to confess something I did for the very first time ever in my mothering career tonight.

Drum roll...

OK it's not really drum roll worthy. It's not even a big deal, to be honest.

After grocery shopping with the 4 youngest boys (who behaved wonderfully) and doing lots of laundry and the husband working a double, I had to take *N* and his brothers (minus the teenager) to baseball practice at 5:15. Up until this point I was cruising along with no problems or stress. I knew a crash was coming but I didn't know what would send me over the edge.

It was sunny, in the mid 80s and a little humid but it felt like we were roasting out there. I got them all packed up in the van to head home and we were all sweaty and tired and I was cranky.
The thought of making dinner filled me with such dread and misery (there's the edge I knew was coming) that I said, "How would you like a special treat for dinner?"

A chorus of "Yays!" filled my ears. Then, "What is it?" I said..and here's the thing I've never done before..."What would you think about having ice cream for dinner?" Yes, folks, I became as cool as a rock star in that moment ..for just a little while. :) (OK, probably not a rock star, because none of them are into rock stars cool as Phineas and Ferb, maybe....)

So my children enjoyed ice cream and Popsicles for dinner. They also ended up eating cereal and crackers. It's not a regular thing and it made my evening soooo much more pleasant. No cooking, no pots and pans and a much less harried mom.

Sometimes thinking outside the box means pulling out a box of Popsicles. Sometimes getting through a day means making a less than stellar choice just this once. (Although I expect that at least one of my boys will insist that ice cream for dinner is a post-practice tradition..because we did it once and that makes a tradition in their minds. ;) )

I pray that you can find ways to make those stressful times a little more bearable once in a while. It might not always be about popsicles and ice cream but being flexible and open to doing things a little differently.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yes, I Would Like Some Cheese With My Whine

I'm partial to extra sharp white cheddar and I am not allowed to have certain soft cheeses because of my delicate, or is it enlarged, condition.

And while we're on the topic of wine...In a couple of months...I'm thinking a nice cold chardonnay will go with that cheese quite nicely. (Hold the black flies, thank you, that would be too ironic.) ;)

I don't like going on big ol' pity parties. Sorry about that. I just get overwhelmed sometimes by life in all its glory.

What the reality of life sometimes does is help me to really, truly appreciate the life I do have. What ifs aren't going to help because life isn't usually worst case scenario. (Thank goodness for that!) The solutions I might devise in cranio might not be the best or most helpful or might not be outside the box enough to work.

Planning is good, don't get me wrong, but sometimes it's the bumps in the road, and the unexpected events that can bring the most incredible growth experiences.

So, I apologize for whining. So unbecoming. The funny thing is that while I write my whines down for y'all to read, I probably wouldn't say it aloud. Now don't you feel lucky? ;) Not!

So I will now go eat my cheese and sip some water with lemon (no whine or wine) and enjoy this time at home.

Wishing you peace and joy in all the little things..because like grains of sand, those little joyous things can fit in all over the place.



I've lived almost all of my life in the northeast, and never south of the Mason-Dixon line, but sometimes, Y'all just feels like the best word to address a group. Does that make sense?

Like if I say, "Y'all...yesterday was one of those days." it has a different tone than if I were to say, "Yesterday was one of those days." Maybe I'm imagining it, but it sounds more familiar or friendly or less serious or something...

So Y'all, yesterday was one of those days. The Husband stayed home from work because he was up most of the night with *E* who was having stomach issues. (All better by lunchtime yesterday and the Husband got some rest in the morning.)

After lunch I started feeling like my heart was racing and I was feeling dizzy so I went to lie down. After an hour, I was feeling no better so I called my Dr. thinking they'd just have me come into the office.

Lesson learned, don't call office with question/concern unless I want to spend several hours in L&D feeling foolish. My bp was slightly elevated but other than that there was nothing wrong. The senior resident ordered an IV suggesting I was dehydrated but I wasn't. Sometimes you can see these things. ;)

So we decided that while I was waiting for blood work, an EKG and to get an IV the Husband might as well go home, feed the boys and get *N* to his baseball game (which was evidently the best game of his life...he later told me he hit one of his triples for me..aaaw).

I was lying there feeling silly (making several mental notes not call the Dr. any more). I never did get the IV because after two tries the nurse couldn't get it and she got permission for me to drink tons of water instead.

I got released with no issues found and waited for N's game to be over before the Husband came to get me.

Y'all..I just missed my kids and am dreading being in the hospital away from them when I do deliver Miss M. I have already determined it's going to be lonely because the Husband will have to be home with the boys most of the time and I just cannot expect the 15 yo to take on that much.

Also, as it stands now the way the rules are, the 15 yo will be the only one allowed to visit and unless we find someone to watch the younger boys, he won't be able to visit either. (This is doubtful, the Husband won't ask anyone, we've been through this before and he hates to ask for help). Cross your fingers they change the visitor rules which are in place because of the flu outbreaks last year.

Yes, I am whining. I'm sorry, y'all.

The bright spot is that *J* watched his brothers for almost 7 hours yesterday, other than dinner, and he did fine and it sounds like they basically listened. They responded well to the situation...and I got lots of hugs and snuggles when I got home. I know that it will only be a couple of days away and I can use that time to rest and bond and just hang out. And...since they have WiFi, I can bring the laptop. :)

So that's what I did yesterday. It gave me lots to think about (and worry about) and I really REALLY hate feeling like I am wasting people's time with non-issues.

I also learned that I am getting old, because the residents looked really young. :O


Sunday, July 11, 2010

It Is Finished

The sweater I started for Miss M in April is finished. Well, it still needs buttons but it's done.

It was fun...and painful. This pregnancy has brought on some carpal tunnel which slows down the process. I wish the self-striping had striped a little less randomly but that is part of it's charm, right? (This is where my perfectionist streak really comes out. ;) )

As I was knitting it, I imagined what Miss M would wear with her sweater. I'm thinking some bright pink tights and a denim skirt. :)

I also remembered a project I made while in college. I was doing a counted cross-stitch for someone. I remember the boy I was dating asked why I would spend so much time on it, couldn't I just pay someone to do it. I guess he didn't understand that the process was part of it, that the work of creating it was an act of love. I told him I didn't want to pay someone because I enjoyed doing it.

Yesterday I was window shopping online (using windows.. ;) lame joke, I know) and saw very cute little cardigans in Miss M's future size for $16.50. I thought, look I could have bought a sweater for less than what it cost to buy the yarn, not to mention the time. But, I'm pretty sure that the machine that made those sweaters wasn't praying for Miss M while it mass-produced those sweaters.

The love and care and time we put into things we make; whether it be food or sweaters, scrapbooks or crayon pictures....that is what gives them their true, real value. Now, everyone doesn't have the time or desire to make or create and I'm not judging. I'm just saying that sometimes the time we spend in a task is well worth the end product, even if we could buy it ready made for less.

Miss M will probably not remember this sweater, unless it ends up on a doll someday. I will though. It was the first thing I did just for her. Because although I've never held her in my arms, I love her to pieces and she's a part of our family.
Praying for you and your family today, that you will feel blessed as you bless others by the work of your hands and heart.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

I Made a Mental List

I woke up this morning around 5 and started thinking of all the things I needed to get done to get organized around here and get everything ready for Miss M.

Unfortunately, I was kind of trapped in my room. You see, we let the 3 middle boys camp out in the living room last night. *C* had wanted a friend to sleep over but since the boy could either come over at 4:30 when he was invited (umm not close to prepared for a visitor) or not at all, *C* was horribly disappointed but he understood. So being the softies that we are, we let the three middle guys camp out together in the living room.

In order to get anywhere else in the house I would have had to tiptoe through the living room and I decided that cleaning out my bedroom closet would have been....inconsiderate to the slumbering Husband at 5 am.

Soooo....I started making mental lists (I also didn't have a pen or paper handy. :P).

Clean closet, move cabinet into boys' room, find out if we still have all pieces to bassinet/playard, set up Christmas tree (we had a minor water problem in the basement this week and the box with the tree...we have allergies, don't judge wet so we need to be sure it's dry and in decent shape). I also need to get some girlie type clothes for Miss M and when I think about Miss M's arrival I realize it coincides with back-to-school shopping and I start to hyperventilate thinking about the hundreds of dollars of school supplies plus sneakers and clothes that we will need to buy.

Hyperventilating wakes up the Husband. He does not hyperventilate. Instead he suggests we make a list later today and then figure out the essentials on said list. (He doesn't realize that on my lists there are no non-essentials. Or perhaps he doesn't realize that our criteria are very different. ;) A Mars and Venus thing, I'm sure.)

And then...I hear the door to *I*'s room creak open (we didn't WD40 it specifically for this reason. It's good to be aware of wandering 3 yos. Crafty, aren't we?) In runs a smiling 3 yo to snuggle...until he decides he's done with that and he heads downstairs..and then comes right back get his blanket and pillow so he can drag them over his brothers' faces to camp out with them...succeeding in waking them all up.

And at 6:30 all but the teenager are wide awake and raring to go. Well, the under 39 set are raring..the oldies in the bunch are kind of bleary-eyed and stiff.

Fortunately, I've gotten over my intense desire to clean the closet. Maybe the Husband and I can work on that list though. ;)


Friday, July 9, 2010

Want a Good Laugh?

That deep down in the belly, laugh 'til you cry, face hurts laugh?

When's the last time you did that? A few minutes ago? Yesterday? Last week? Can you even remember the last time?

I can't. It's not that I want to be the voice of all things serious. I suspect my issue is that I'm not open to funny or not looking for it. I'm sure I could find excuses but really, what excuse is there to not be laughing?

My life must be full of potentially highly humorous moments. I mean if you saw the goofballs I live with... And I can laugh at myself, in theory. I mean I think it's funny, whether I guffaw out loud is debatable. Yet, I seem to find more reasons to get upset with myself over the flubs and cry rather than see the humor and laugh.

Yesterday I made the Husband a birthday cake from scratch. The blasted thing would not come out of the pan. I did everything you're supposed to and still left a lovely layer in both 8" round pans. I could have laughed, but I didn't. I got cranky and cried and when the Husband said, "it will still taste good" (Always the cup half-full annoying sometimes!) I told him, through my tears, to "shut up!" Because I am my mother's daughter and it didn't look perfect and it was his birthday and the fact that the Ace of Cakes wouldn't be impressed by my creation somehow negated the effort and love with which it was made. ("Shut up", on the other hand, is both a wonderful example to my children and a little known way of expressing affection and Birthday wishes....) [Insert eye rolls here]

It would have been much better to see the humor in the cake mess and laugh and joke, but I am not always good at the lemonade from lemons thing. I want to be. I dream of it in much the same way I want to love camping because it's such a great experience for the boys but the dirt and heat and bugs..yeah I just end up feeling grimy and grumpy.

So I need to laugh more and rant and cry less. If life would just be what I wanted, it would be easier. But that's not really the way it works, is it? It's about attitude.

When I started writing this last year, I posted a picture of a sign in a restaurant that read, "If you can't change your situation, change your attitude." Well, I think I need to work a little (or a lot) harder on a better attitude and then perhaps the situation will turn around too...and I will laugh over flubbed cakes and not bite everyone's head off when things don't go my way.

I hope you can find some funny things in your day that make you laugh until you cry. I think we all could use them on a regular basis.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Promise

I think this picture of the double rainbows in the header is beautiful. I just love the double rainbows.

When I saw the rainbows, I immediately thought of a phrase from the book Water, Come Down! by Walter Wangerin, Jr. : "So after the rainstorms, dear child of mine, Whenever you see it, that rainbow's a sign That God is with you; and God is kind: He'll never let you go."

The book is about baptism and it has beautiful rhythm, vibrant illustrations and is truly a pleasure to read aloud.

On the day that I took this photo, when that phrase came to mind and I remembered the promise of a rainbow in the story of Noah, it was one of those moments when I felt like God touched my heart and said, "I'm with you through the rain and storms and I'm taking care of you."

We had a beautiful hike here in Letchworth State Park that day..even if I was 32 weeks pregnant and totally unprepared to do 3 + miles with some inclines. ;) The gorge and waterfall where I took the photo is breathtaking. (I also have great pictures of my family looking over the stone wall at the falls.)

The beauty can draw you in and make you want to get a closer look. It can also lead to a false sense of security. The first time we visited this park in 2008, we saw adults and children standing on the stone barrier to pose for photos. We are the safety parents so that wasn't happening in this family (and *J* got antsy if his brothers even leaned on the wall to look down the steep incline..)

Unfortunately, not everyone obeys the barriers and this park has been the site of at least one fatal accident each year, including one last weekend. How very sad...and preventable.

The accident served as an opportunity to explain why we are so strict about following safety rules and staying on the right side of the barriers. (It also gave *J* an opportunity to say, "See...")

As I walk through life, there are lots of things that draw me in...make me want to get a closer look, a more intense experience Some are harmless, others...not so much. God is always walking beside me, but that doesn't mean I can run headfirst into things without thinking, because there can be consequences...some unintended and quite unexpected.

Of course, I don't always think everything through as I should and there are some things I could never predict. But when there are safeguards in place, it's my job to follow them and to teach my children why they should too. And than I can hope (and pray) that they're listening.

Just like I hope the boys have listened each of the times I've read this book to them. I wonder if any of them thought, "...Whenever you see it, that' rainbow's a sign That God is with you; and God is kind: He'll never let you go." when they saw those rainbows?

Do you remember that promise when you see rainbows?


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It Doesn't Matter a Hill of Beans...

It's perspective.
It's reality.
It's recognizing what really matters....and what doesn't mean a hill of beans in comparison.

I can moan and groan and "poor me" about stuff that feels big to me, but sometimes my eyes are opened to the things others are going through and I feel like I've been punched in the reality.

It's at these times that I feel overwhelming compassion and empathy...and shame. Shame for feeling so sorry for myself about such superficial things when others are experiencing real, true crisis, grief and pain.

I want to reach out and hug them, even when they may be strangers. I want to find a way to ease their pain, even when I am miles away. All I can do is pray for their peace and for their comfort, even when I cannot imagine anything could be comforting. I know that prayer is the most powerful thing I can do, and yet sometimes I wish there was something tangible I could do.

Somebody needs to do something...and I know people are. And I will pray for them. You see, I recognize that I cannot be everywhere doing everything. I will pray that others will find the strength and compassion and love to walk beside them. And I will remember to keep my eyes open, to see the opportunities which may be right in front of me to walk beside others in crisis, even though it might be scary or painful or uncomfortable.

One thing the Husband learned when he was a chaplain in a Children's Hospital, one of the things he shared with me about his experience, is that sometimes the best thing you can do is walk beside someone so they know they are not alone.

Because really, my little problems don't matter a hill of beans when another is truly suffering and if I can walk alongside, just be present....maybe then I can do something.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010


It's amazing how feeling useful and productive can impact my mood!


Now, you might think that having 5 kids (+1 on the way) and a husband would make me feel useful and productive. Somehow, it doesn't fill that hole in my life in the way you'd think. Or maybe it's that I have been something of a slacker.

Yeah..I think I'm a bit of a slacker. I don't mean to be but there's only so many times I can clean up a mess to find it reforming behind me before I give up and want to go on strike. (Or maybe I do go on strike?!) ;)

So last night I got a couple of non-drudgery things accomplished after the boys went to bed and it recharged me. (Non-drudgery means I did not clean closets or the basement, both of which are screaming for help but....I keep hoping someone else will jump on that train...fat chance, but hope springs eternal. ;) )

First, I looked over some things that someone had asked for my opinion about. It was fun and I used my brain and whether she agrees with me or not, having someone other than the Husband or my kids ask what I think was a wonderful feeling..and I intend to tell her so.

The other thing I did, after a long and enjoyable conversation with the Husband (a rarity) was start putting together little Miss M's sweater. I still have a bit to do especially since I won't knit the collar until the rest of it is sewed together. Hopefully, I'll finish the sewing tonight.

It's amazing how much I can get done when I make a choice to do something productive. It probably doesn't sound like I did a lot, but to me, it was something I wanted to do and needed to do. And these things were out of the ordinary...I mean doing the laundry and scrubbing the bathrooms are just daily tasks that need to be done but don't really lead to a sense of accomplishment for me. Although, I do feel like I deserve a pat on the back after the baths are done..really.

I plan to be more intentional about being productive throughout the day. I will continue to do the daily things that keep the house running, but I plan to use my time more wisely so I don't go to bed feeling like not only are there Legos all over my living room, but I got nothing else done to justify the mess. ;)

Of course increasing my time with God helps me to accomplish this goal. I have been more intentional about doing that through the day too, recognizing that I can spend time with God (and probably need it more) when it's loud and crazy. Adjusting my focus in a positive way, finding those things which I can do and just taking peace from God...definitely productive.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Only Wanted To Fold Some Clothes....

All I wanted to do was fold 4 baskets of my room.

Noooo. Instead, just as I finish basket one I am told that 3yo needs a diaper change. He promptly runs in and jumps onto my bed..where I have been neatly piling folded clothes, organized by person and get the picture.

I was NOT happy. I growled at him about staying off the bed, got him cleaned up and sent him downstairs with his father aka the Husband...after a little rant to the Husband about how I can't have a minute's peace, can't get anything done and never get to do anything I want to do.

Not pretty.

After I shut the door behind them I decided to take a break and wash my grimy-after-walking- outside-barefoot feet and read a little more of Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa Terkeurst. You see, the last chapter I read was about getting bogged down in negative thoughts (or choosing not to) and I definitely needed a little more of that perspective. (I highly recommend this book and while I borrowed it from a friend, I think I may need to buy my own copy.)

After soaking my tootsies in some yummy bubble bath, slathering on some lotion and putting on some cozy socks, I was ready to finish folding that laundry and I had renewed my appreciation for my mundane daily life. I was no longer in "poor me" mode.

And then I got to thinking about the story of Mary and Martha...and how when Jesus came to Martha's house, Mary sat to listen to Jesus and Martha was too busy with work. When Martha complained that her sister Mary wasn't helping her at all, Jesus told her to focus on what was most Mary was doing.

I realized that not only in my chores but in my griping, I'm focusing on the wrong things. Yes, we all need clean clothes and we need to eat, but am I so focused on these tasks that I lose sight of what's truly important and do I miss out on moments that will be fleeting, never to be recaptured? When I focus on that which I do not have, am I losing sight of all the things I do have...which are things I should be grateful for?

I hope that my attitude adjustment has some lasting power and doesn't wear off like foot cream. I hope that I can count the blessings and appreciate them...even when they mess up my nice, tidy piles of freshly folded clothes.

Praying that you can embrace your Martha..and I don't mean you walk through each blessed day.


Happy Independence Day

What a tremendous day, not because of anything spectacular we've done, but because of what this day is all about.

The Husband is a big fan of American history, particularly the Revolutionary War period. (That's what he studied in college.) He is quite gifted at bringing it to life, explaining it in a vibrant and fascinating way. (He talks about going back to school to get certified to teach it but with the way things have been going education budget-wise in our state...)

Today we happened to be flipping channels and find the movie 1776. Certain members of the family were absolutely mesmerized. At the end, when they were signing the Declaration of Independence, the Husband pointed out to the boys just how brave those men were. If we had lost the war, each of them could have been put to death for treason. I confess, I'd never really thought about that.

It's about standing up for something...isn't it? It's about bravery and conviction.

It's not always easy to stand up and be counted, even when what I'm facing isn't death but just "standing out in the crowd." I avoid making waves most of the time, in fact when the Husband spoke at a school board meeting this year, I was mortified...and I wasn't even there. (I guess *J*'s peers told him his dad was "cool". LOL Shows what I know. ;) ) So I don't know that I would have been supporting the Husband signing a document that could get him hung for treason. Just saying. I guess I'm a wimp.

And then...I think about being a disciple of Jesus when He was crucified. Would I have said "Yes, I was with Him." Or would I have said, "No way. No way. No way!"

Interestingly, Jesus gave us Freedom too...freedom from death. So in my fear, out of my fear, if it was up to me...I could very easily have missed out on Freedom.

Thankfully, through the ages, there have been people far braver than I willing to take those risks so we can all be and later.

A Big THANK YOU and God Bless to all of our brave women and men who are serving or have served in the United States Military.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Not In My Backyard

Do you ever see or read something and get that feeling in the pit of your stomach? You know, the one that tells you that maybe you have some things you can and maybe ought to change?

Yesterday I read this (I didn't watch the video) and I started thinking.

What got me was the question of what if there were no landfills and everything we needed to dispose of had to go in my backyard....?

What if that was the case?

The first thing that came to mind was the BIG bag of cloth diapers I have in my closet that fit *I* but that I haven't been using. It's not difficult to cloth diaper, in fact I will tell anyone who will listen how great, easy and convenient I think it is. So will the Husband for that matter. But now that the little man is older, I've gotten lazy. But if all those sposies were sitting in my very own backyard.....???

I pulled out that big bag of diapers and started him back in cloth. Well, actually, I also restarted the whole potty learning thing, so he's in his underpants this morning. (Yet another thing I haven't been pushing but that he needs to master.)

When I pulled out the bag of cloth diapers, I found some baby things in boyish blue and red, things I was planning to replace with feminine and frilly pink and floral. I started thinking, does she (or should I say I) really need pink blankets and bedding? Or, could she use the blue and red that we already have?

Then, last night as I was snuggling *I* to sleep (in his Thirsties fitted and cover) I remembered that *C* has been asking me to get some gum off his comforter for ages. I keep forgetting and a couple of days ago when he asked again I actually thought about just buying him a new one, he's had it forever, I justified. After *I* was in dreamland, I retrieved the comforter for the floor in *C*'s room and, armed with an ice cube and a butter knife, I got that gum off. Now it's clean and dry and good as new. And he is all smiles.

These choices are frugal (which is essential for us) but also better for the earth. Because if I had to dispose of all this stuff in my backyard....

Everyone is going to make different choices. I know that cloth diapers aren't a comfortable choice for everyone. Neither is being a vegetarian. (We're not.) Everyone makes the choices they're comfortable with. I think that when we move toward thoughtful choices we're headed in a better direction.

God gave us dominion over this planet. I don't think He meant for us to use it up and trash it (literally or figuratively). I believe that by giving us dominion over it, God planned for us to care for it. The resources aren't infinitely replaceable. We aren't infinitely replaceable. We each are an important part of the world, each with gifts to share.

I pray that each of us can use the gifts we have to make our world a kinder, better and more loving place for others, now and in the future.