Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Just Roll With It, Baby

When I was a girl, I had my life mapped out.  At five, I was going to grow up and be Lynda Carter.  After all, she was Wonder Woman and who has a cooler gig than that!?  After I realized that Lynda Carter got to have the job of being Lynda Carter (and wasn't actually Wonder Woman in reality), I decided that I wanted to be a police officer.  That more realistic goal lasted into my college years when I met my husband, and his wonderful, godly, homemaker mother.  My desires changed, yet again.  A homemaker's role was what I craved.

Even in my Wonder Woman years, which were complete with WW Underoos under my clothing in case I was needed post haste, I wanted to be a mother. I could easily fly them around with me in my invisible jet, no problem.  I had plans.  I would live near the water that I loved so much, teaching my babies to waterski and crab, like I had been taught.  There would be five of them (check!) running around my cottage-style-arts-and-crafts-cape-cod house mansion. We would have dinner together every night, recalling amusing stories of our day and, It. Would. Be. Awesome.

Zoom through the Wonder Woman years, through the "almost a police officer" years, to present day homemaker status...

My eldest child ate a quick dinner this afternoon at 3:45 before we ran errands, which included dropping him off for five hours of jr. firefighter training at our local fire department.  Dinner consisted of three out of the seven of us around the table, as the beautiful spring weather had my younger children begging to eat outside on the driveway, in their chalk drawn home.  There were no rousing anecdotes around the dinner table to be had.  My cookie-cutter-builder-grade-style house is landlocked in Pennsylvania, so there is no crabbing nor waterskiing to be had.  My invisible jet was downgraded to a very visible minivan.  But here is why it's all good...

Throughout the years I have been led to just roll with it.  Some years I went kicking and screaming, but I still rolled with the flow.  You know what I got in return?  A life I could never imagine being without.  People and children that make this life full and wonderful.  No phenomenal sunsets over the Patuxent River, but a gorgeous view of the historic Reading Pagoda, when I am driving near my adopted city. Children who get to draw on my driveway on a warm spring day, and explore their interests in becoming a first responder.

Back in the days of Nebuchadnezzar those who were still in exile from Jerusalem received this encouragement:

"This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters. Take wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper."

And then...

"For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you..."

I am in no way exiled here in Pennsylvania, like those from Jerusalem were in Babylon as described in Jeremiah 29, but my life has thankfully been taking the turns the Lord had planned for me, and not the ones I had initially desired.  Plans for my welfare, not for disaster, to give me a future and a hope.  Rolling with that has given me hope and longing for what He has in store for me, no matter my expectations.  No invisible jet required and, It. Is. Awesome.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Imagining the Past

One of the benefits of homeschooling that I really love is that we can often venture down rabbit trails.  We were talking about farming and southern plantation life during the Civil War era, when one of my kids asked where we would fit into society if we had lived during that time.  I easily answered that realistically we would most likely live in town and be a business owner.  Maybe shopkeepers?  Lawyers, coopers, or printers perhaps?  We would absolutely be acceptable in our own social circle, but much to one of my daughter's chagrin, we would not likely ever be invited to any events held at the plantations.  My eldest daughter grumbled, but I assured her that we would have made sure she married well.  It got a good laugh from her siblings.  As I surveyed the laughing faces, it struck me.  Not all of us would fare quite as well.

Mr. Clean with his handsome Viking features and icy blue eyes would fit right in.  Xena matches her father in looks and sports blonde locks.  K.Z. has my father's native look and bone structure, but with his freckled skin still looks like he could walk right out of my mother's native Scotland.  Carisa also matches my father, but if we keep her under a large brim hat and out of the sun, we can keep her light winter shade.  But my youngest boys?  Where would they fit in during the Antebellum years?  My heart sunk.

I decided to get real with the kids and be honest about how our family would actually look.  Eazy, my nine year old has the prominent look of Spanish aristocracy, but with an olive complexion.  His dark hair and eyes help to give away his hispanic heritage.  My baby, the seven year old Das, has the look of his Puerto Rican ancestors and more resembles the Taino tribe that historically inhabited the island.  As a baby he was a paler version of himself, but as he has grown his melanin has found its perfect level, leaving his skin a gorgeous copper brown.  That reality would have made my youngest boys very unequal in society in our imaginary Antebellum family scenario.

We talked for a while about the way just even by boys would have been treated differently from one another.  Eazy would have faired much better, with his features looking more European, despite his Spanish complexion.  Das would most likely have been treated much worse.  More than likely they would have been free men, but certainly not held as part of "polite society".  

I had never thought about how my boys would have been treated historically, but I have thought a lot about their futures.  Right now I can protect my boys from the nonsense the world can throw out there because they are darker than their parents.  I hope I can equip them to deal with any of it they may deal with as adults, out there on their own.  I pray that by that time, it won't even be an issue.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Happy Momma Moments

Every Thursday morning, my husband takes my eldest child, KZ to breakfast before he attends classes for the day.  They are usually up and gone by 06:30, which for me is a tad early.  Last Thursday, Mr. Clean had to be at a client's site early and could not take KZ to school, so it was up to me.  Initially I had planned to crawl out of bed, shower, dress, and drive KZ the fifteen minutes or so to school, simply making sure that my eyes, blurry from my permanent "night owl" status, stayed open.  KZ had a different thought.  He still wanted to go to breakfast.

Honestly, my first thought was, "ugh."  Not only did I have to get up early to drive him, but he wanted me to get up even earlier to spend money on him and take him to breakfast?  Cheeky kid.  I agreed, because he really seemed like he still wanted to go, despite his dad not being able to take him.  Seriously, who wouldn't want to hit Chick fil-A before hitting the books?

My alarm went off at 06:00 and I wearily got out of bed.  Surely after a shower, I would be ready to face the day.  It helped.  Sort of.  It wasn't until we got to the restaurant that It struck me that this was no obligation, this was a privilege.  I got to spend thirty minutes or so just hanging out with my boy.  Only my boy.  Not five kids, a husband, two dogs, three gerbils, and the dust bunnies that live in my house.  

We chatted as much as a sleepy mom and a fifteen year old can at 07:00, even laughing a bit.  I enjoy my kids and love spending time with them.  It amazes me how much more man-like my little boy is, and I am seriously proud of that man he seems to be morphing into.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Fresh Perspective

I have never been a huge fan of tweens and teens.  Until tonight.

Don't get me wrong.  I like some teenagers, and I like some tweens.  As a matter of fact I have some of both, and I adore them.  However, I have never been drawn to that age group.  Give me pukey babies, temper tantrum throwing toddlers, or the goofy young elementary sect, and I am good.  Anybody older than that, under the age of 18 or so, no thanks. I'll pass on the drama, and raging hormones. Normally.

Tonight I got to spend the evening with over a dozen young teens while they held a dinner for local veterans.  Any veteran was welcome, from Afghanistan to WWII, and we had a phenomenal span.  I watched as these young men and ladies sat with, spoke to, served, listened to, and cleaned up after the men and women who had proudly served our country.  And they were excited to do it.

I watched my own son and daugher carefully plan what they would wear for the event, to look their best.  I watched my daughter plan and execute making part of the dinner and a dessert.  I saw students prepare art work to decorate the venue.  I listened as my kids excitedly talked about the blankets they were making with their classmates as gifts for each veteran that attended.  I watched as these middle school kiddos helped set up and tear down the venue, making it as nice as possible for their guests.  I listened to the conversations in my van on the way to and from the dinner with the teen friend that carpooled with us.  I watched as they served and showed love to the ones who served us.  I saw individual young people who cared.

I saw this age group with new eyes, and I enjoyed them.  What a great honor it was for me to simply watch them at work.  They are a great group.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Stranger, Friend...

I just watched a YouTube video of a man in, I believe, Istanbul standing on a busy street blindfolded, arms outstretched, and behind a sign that read (paraphrasing), "I trust you, do you trust me? Hug me."  I wanted to jump through the screen and hug that man.  In the beginning of the video, people were cautious, only one or two dared to do it, but by the end of the clip people were lining up for a chance to show some love to this stranger.  They were getting nothing more from it.

It reminded me of the Christmas Truce of 1914, when during "The Great War" (WWI) soldiers from both sides put down their weapons, ventured into No Man's Land and spent Christmas playing games with one another, exchanging small tokens and shared stories.  They sung together and hugged one another before going back into the trenches to get back to the dirty job of war.  The fact that they were alleged enemies didn't matter for that short period of time.  Their nationalities didn't matter, their religious beliefs didn't dissuade them, their jobs and social classes made no difference; they were simply men.  Sons, brothers, fathers, uncles, and friends.  

Isn't that so much easier?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

365 Busted

You want me to build you a birdhouse?  Okay!  It may not be level, and it may look like a crooked little squatter's den but I'll do it.  How about knotting a fleece blanket?  Sure!  They may not be exactly even squares, but it will keep you warm.  Let's go bake a pie!  That crust may burn a little, but it will be edible.  Why not?  Let's do it.

I will do a hundred things I am not so great at, and have no personal attachment or commitment to at the drop of a hat.  If I goof them up, no worries.  It won't bother me a bit.  But something that I love and enjoy doing?  If I can't make it sound the way I want it to, look the way I want it to, or read the way I want it to, I avoid it like the plague.  I hate that part of my personality.

I revamped writing here a little bit ago.  I committed to 365 days of writing; preferably in a row.  I have not been quite keeping up my end of that commitment however, and I'm frustrated.  I will write in my head at night and love the ideas.  When I start to type the next day, the flash of inspiration from the night before, or even hours before in the shower or while brushing my teeth, just doesn't land.  It doesn't sound right.  It doesn't have that feeling I felt when I was writing in my head.  It just... doesn't.  So, I abandon it.  And then I get annoyed with myself.

So it's time to get off of my self imagined high horse and just do it.  Get thoughts typed even if they do not match what I had originally conjured.  Let them take their own twists and turns, even if sometimes, I am not sure where they will end.  Like today.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I Want A Do Over

This week has been one for the record books.  On Wednesday we had a gorgeous day here in PA.  The weather was mild and warm for the first time in a while.  On the way home from our homeschool co-op we had the windows rolled down and took our time getting home.  It was wonderful.

Later that afternoon, I discovered that our wee gerbil Sally finally lost her battle.  C'sa was busy jumping on the trampoline and playing outside, so I brought Sally into my room, found a box for her and decided that the knowledge of her death could wait in the kids' world.

Breaking the news to C'sa was hard.  I knew she would take it badly, and she did.  She loves deep, so loss cuts deep.  For the next couple of days she would break into intermittent sobs.  It broke my heart to have to try and soothe those wounds.

Friday afternoon her wounds became tangible.  While jumping on the trampoline with my oldest son, they accidentally collided and fell into a heap on the trampoline's canvas.  Her glasses broke, and so did her clavicle. She was in immense pain.  

We took her to an urgent care facility and had x-rays done. They trussed her up in a harness and a sling, and sent her home with a prescription for pain and instructions to follow up in a week with an orthopedist.  After 24 hours hours post break, I doubt she can last a week.  She is still in serious pain and can barely move.  Prayers are coveted, an immediate Monday morning appointment craved.

We will grow from this week, we will heal; but I wish it was one we could just try again, with much different results.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Well, I'll Be...

Yesterday it appeared that one of our little gerbils was ready for that Big Gerbil Wheel in the sky.  I promised my sobbing daughter on Sunday that I would make an appointment for her with the vet if she made it through the night on Sunday.  She did, but I could not get an appointment until today.  I knew I wasn't going to have to keep that appointment.  I prepared my girls for the inevitable last night.  We have experienced a gerbil death before, and the signs were all there.  Except she decided to hang out another night last night.

I got up early to go check on her, fully anticipating that I would need to remove her body so the girls would not wake up to that scene.  I snuck into their room with my flashlight and checked the tank.  Not a gerbil in sight.  Our sick little one, Sally, had been lethargically living her last days on a bed of cotton we had put down for her, and hadn't been budging, yet now she was nowhere.  I couldn't even find her sister, Lucy.  Panicking a little and imagining a lifeless Sally buried somewhere amongst the pine shavings and paper pulp, I shined my flashlight into the wooden house that dominates the glass tank.  Two very annoyed and tired eyes reflected the light back at me.  I think I jumped three feet into the air.  Sally, looking at me a tad perplexed as to why I was shining a light in her eyes, turned away and rested her head back down.  I breathed a little sigh of relief that she had lasted the night.

Later this morning, she had taken refuge once again on her cotton palette and was looking worse.  Her labored breathing had slowed way down to shallow gulps.  I was ready to call the vet and cancel the one o'clock afternoon appointment I was pretty confident she would not live to see.

Zoom ahead eight hours, and I am wrestling my wee friend to try and stick a syringe full of antibiotics between her teeth.  She is not happy with me, whatsoever.  The vet is hoping that she simply has an infection.  I never imagined I would actually have to keep a vet appointment for a gerbil.  In the last few hours, the sweet docile Sally girl has bitten one vet and one vet assistant necessitating a bandage for both, ran around her tank inspecting it for change while she had been gone at the evil aforementioned vet's office, completely demolished, by chewing her way through, the cardboard of a toilet paper roll, and dug so furiously, had she been in actual dirt, she may have made it to China.  She is now asleep, and I am exhausted.

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring for our girl, but I can bet it won't be what I plan for. In either direction.

Monday, March 2, 2015

For His Eye Is On the Sparrow...

Three years ago my girls got three little rodent sisters as pets.  Although not my first pick for a pet, gerbils seemed like a good salve to put on my eldest daugher Xena's heart after our cat died.  We didn't want another cat, so after four or five years of her mourning him and begging for another feline, we decided to put her focus on something else with fur.  Welcome our little desert rodents.

I must admit I fell in love with them right away.  I could often be caught staring at the gerbil tank, just watching them play, dig tunnels, and scurry around their home.  I even would take them out to croon at them in that silly voice reserved for babies and puppies.  Last summer we had to deal with one of the sweethearts getting sick and dying.  It was Xena's gerbil that died and it was a tough time for her.  She was heartsick.  I asked her if she would take over the care of "my" gerbil Lucy.  She gladly accepted, and life kept moving on, in that way it tends to do.  Life, is once again gearing up to give us another blow.

In gerbil years, three is considered elderly.  C'sa's little gerbil friend Sally is fighting the good fight, but I fear she is going to lose that fight very soon, if not tonight.  I have spent the last day and a half stalking their tank, checking her breathing, hand feeding and watering her, and just stopping to gaze.  I have tried to brace my tender hearted girl for the stark reality of what is coming, but this evening it became too much.  My baby girl was in a puddle of tears at the simple thought of her gerbil dying.  

This is what love looks like.

I reminded her that the Lord created every living thing and cares for all of them.  His care extends to the lilies of the valley, the sparrows, and the little desert rodents.  As much as she loves Sally, Christ loves C'sa a gazillion times more.  So much that He sacrificed His life for hers.  A God that big wouldn't forget His smallest creatures.

I hope I reassured my girls that their little friends were loved by the One who created them.  They can trust Him to see to every detail, even the furry ones...

I sing because I'm happy
I sing because I'm free
For His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Today was an extremely uneventful day in our house.  One might argue that is the best kind of day.  I concur.  The day was full of wrestling matches, clan wars, friends, Legos, book reading, laundry folding, tickling, and electronics.  Church was ultimately canceled today because of the early morning slick roads, which allowed us a late start to the day.  Two of the children never even got dressed.  It was a pajama lounging type of day.

It was also a day of that quiet affirmation that is sometimes hard to hear.  The small, still voice that assures your entire soul that the path you are on is the right one.  The job that you are doing, the struggles you are fighting, are being done well.  It was a day that "just being the momma" was akin to being adorned in the Crown Jewels.  

Before she went off to read tonight before bed, my eldest daughter and I stood side by side in front of a mirror.  She wanted to see our height difference (I still win... for now).  I took the time to take in our semi-matching faces.  Her beautiful golden hair against my dark mane. Our matching blue eyes and freckles.  I looked at this person, and simply the act of seeing her face reflected in a mirror made my heart happy.  

This is what it is all about.  This was the job I wanted.  On the days it gets tough, I want to remember today.  The "uneventful" one.  The one I want to repeat a million times over.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Full On Narcissist

The other day I was stewing a bit over a made up scenario in my head involving a friend.  Mind you, it wasn't even a real scenario, but I was getting indignant anyway.  I just knew I was right, and that Friend A had done something nice for Friend B; something that neither had ever even offered to do for me...

Again, imaginary scenario that I decided must have happened that day based on shoddy evidence I had gathered.  I was basically back in jr. high school in my head (and maturity level).  It was a tad pathetic.

Have you ever been there?  Decided that just because someone did not do something that you would have done, they must be snubbing you?  Did it hurt?

It occurred to me right that very minute that perhaps the act of service I was stewing about (again, alleged) was not even an act of service that Friend B would have ever thought about offering.  After all, we all are not created to serve in the same way.  It wasn't even something I have ever needed, yet I felt slighted not getting it?  No wonder we need Christ's humility as an example.  I was in full on narcissism mode.  Wince.

I have friends that would move heaven and earth to help me figure out logistics in my day.  I have others who are great listeners.  I have some who love me enough to tell me when I am being too snarky, silly, or sensitive.  I even have one that will cover all those bases.  I can't even fill all those roles for someone else myself, but my friends take me for what I can offer.  They love me where I am.

So perhaps the next time that cheeky, immature, bratty version of me gets indignant over what someone else doesn't do, she will instead be grateful for all the other things they have done and will do, and humble herself a little. And love them right where they are.  Isn't that what Christ did for us?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Reveling in the Little Things

Mr. Clean was out of town last night with work, and I had big big plans.  I was going to rendezvous with a couple men I haven't seen in a while.  I figured that I could alternate my time and attention between Mr. Selfridge and Doc Martin, but those pesky children of mine had other plans.

The three youngest wanted a sleepover.  In my room.  I am certainly cultured enough to know one simply does not have men in her room when the children are about, so I changed my plans and let the kids camp out on my floor.  

I thought about how cool it was that I still had kids that wanted to spend time with me.  Wanted to just be in the same room I was for the night.  Even if it meant having to decide who got Daddy's side, and who had to grab a spot on the floor.  It was heartwarming.  So I put up with the whispering (I'm not sure how they forgot that I have the power of hearing), the sporadic snoring, the flip-flopping next to me, and the sleeping bodies blocking the path to the bathroom, to just revel in the fact that I had some of my babies super close for the night. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

If It's Worth Doing, It's Worth Doing Well (Here's Praying Anyway!)

This is my eldest son's last year before high school begins.  The big leagues.  When, as he would put it, "school starts to count".  Insert big sigh, since school has been "counting" since the womb, or I would not have read, "Go, Dog. Go!" exactly 8,932 times when he was a toddler. Well, give or take a time or two.

So tonight, I got to sit and chat with an amazing mentor, and one of my son's teachers/partners in his educational journey.  We were talking about the future of his education and the scary high school years, since they apparently "count".  In the homeschool world, this can be even a bit more intimidating.  You simply do not want to goof this up.

While gleaning from her and her eldest daughter (also an awesome teacher; I am soooo buttering these two up as much as I can in preparation for the next four years, but their reputation and skill precede them, so while buttering I am still speaking the truth...), she shared with me something my son said to her.  She had commented on his skill and talent at drawing and asked him if he loved doing it a lot.  

He responded (and I am paraphrasing the both of them here, I am the 40 year old mother of five, therefore my brain capacity is limited, at best) that he did not necessarily like it, simply because he was very good at it.  Another friend and fellow writer was also in the room, and we all got a good chuckle at his sage fourteen year old insight, and that it would make for great blog fodder.

I thought about that on the way home.  This fact that seemed so obvious to him, was an eye opener for me.  However, it took a different turn.  For the most part I love having my kids home for their education.  I enjoy teaching them (save Jr. High math; it should be outlawed).  My astute nine year old commented today how I learn with them.  He is so right.  It's probably a dead give away, granted the number of times I say, "That is so cool, I didn't know that!"  

When push comes to shove, I can be good at coordinating curriculum, modifying it to what I want it to look like for my kids learning styles, organizing work, and envisioning projects and trips.  But there are many days, I don't like doing any of it.  I want to sit on my duff and just read a good book.  Educating kids at home can be hard work. Just like my wise old son, I want it to be easy.  But as the saying goes, "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort..."

If my kiddo graduates remembering nothing else this entire crew backing him has taught him, if he simply remembers that, he will do just fine.  As for me?  I still want to do some serious duff sitting with that book.  Something about old dogs and new tricks, or the like...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Monday or Bust!

I don't usually like Mondays.  Sundays are nice; we worship with our church family, head home for some serious goof off time, and generally relax.  But Monday's shadow always starts to creep in on Sunday evening when I start to think of Mr. Clean heading to the office the next day, or out into the field to see clients (some of which might require an overnight trip).  School gears back up and I think about how much we didn't accomplish off of the carefully charted spreadsheet the week before.  I think about the obligations on the calendar.  I start thinking too much.  It's burdensome.

Tonight was different. We were invited by a very special brand new seven year old to come and share birthday cake with him and his family this evening.  He is my dear friend's son, my own seven year old's partner in crime, and a member of a larger family that I long ago adopted as my faux family here in PA.  Whether or not they know this isn't relevant.  I love this family and like a good barnacle I have attached myself. Fortunately, they have yet to see me as a nuisance and scrape me off the haul.

So tonight we happily went to this sweet boy's house, and sat around the table with his grandparents, parents, aunts, uncle, and cousins, while eating cake and ice cream.  Presents were opened, a cup or two of tea was ingested, stories were told, and laughter was abundant.  

And ironically, it changed my perspective on Monday.  Mr. Clean has to travel, we are expecting a couple inches of snow, and we are still behind on that school spreadsheet.  None of it ranks high on my "fun factor", but tonight reminded me that just as a simple birthday get together can either be the highlight of the day or just another thing on the calendar, Mondays will be exactly as I choose for them to be.  A chore or a chance to enjoy the day.  

I'm looking forward to tomorrow.  Have a wonderful Monday!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Trendy and Tiny, But Seriously?

Have you heard of the tiny house movement?  Does it intrigue you?  I am humored by it, because it seems as if it is now trendy enough to be extremely popular amongst the upper middle class.  If you haven't heard of it, it is fairly self explanatory.  People are giving up larger homes, purging the majority of their possessions, and moving into what can only be described as circus travel trailers from the early 1900's. Some of these are under 200 square feet. 

Don't get me wrong, it's a quaint idea.  Mr. Clean and I owned a travel trailer for several years and loved taking off in it with the kiddos on weekend trips and vacations.  It had a kitchen, small bathroom with a tub/shower combo and a bunk house.  We loved it.  Even the dogs enjoyed it.  But living in it full time?  We could do it, but it would take some serious patience.

Seeing this trend explode humors me because this extreme living is a cool idea, but why so extreme in the first place?  Why not backtrack sixty or seventy years when a family of four could do just fine in a spacious 600 square foot house?  With only one bathroom.  And feel like they had a mansion.  It's all perspective.

I am, quite frankly, guilty of it myself.  Our first home was a town house with about 1000 square feet. We fit quite comfortably in it. When we bought our next home, it was enormous to me.  At 2400 feet (not even counting the basement) we more than doubled what we had been in before.  I wasn't sure how to even use all of the space, and we considered downsizing after just a couple of years.  Fast forward eleven years later, and I have used every inch of space.  My basement is a scary place to me.  I own everything down there.  I caught myself mumbling the other today that if I simply had more storage space...  I quickly glanced around to make sure no one caught that statement.  It was an, "ah-ha" moment.  I was being absurd.  Completely ridiculous.

It's is time to start purging this lot of mine; taking inventory and sharing with others the bounty over which I grumble about not having space to store.  We are in no position to move, nor do we really want  to, but maybe we should just start thinking about the grandeur we live in compared to the simple but wonderful houses of our grandparents from a few decades back.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Nature vs. Nurture

The other day I was scrolling through a social media site and happened upon a question posed to a large group. The question was simply, "How many kids do you have, and are they adopted or biological?".  Now, this question was not put out there with any malice whatsoever.  I got the intent.  I have five kiddos.  Three of them spent 40+ weeks using my womb as a jungle gym, while the other two were adopted, sparing my body more labor yet filling my heart with even more momma joy.  I am proud of all of them, and the way they found their way to our family dynamic.  The author of the question was probably an adoptive mother herself, and we like to know others who have similar experiences.  But this question got under my skin a tad.

It's an innocent question, and bear with me here because I promise I am NOT going to post one of those, "Ten Things You Never Say to an Adoptive Parent" blog posts (they kind of drive me nuts), but it got my attention anyway.  And the wheels in my brain started to turn, as observations of my kidlets started to emerge.

Mr. Clean and my babies

In my house are five uniquely different kids, simply because they were created that way.  However, a few of them have some distinct similarities that has absolutely nothing to do with the level of melanin in their skin, nor their genetic make up.  I find this fascinating, and quite cool.  My eldest daughter and my middle son have the same learning style, get easily frustrated over the same things, and are quick to please.  If you are happy, they are happy.  My eldest daughter and my eldest son on the other hand, look alike, but have absolutely nothing in common at this point in their lives.

My youngest daughter and middle son are like twins.  Except one looks like me, and the other is the spitting image of their biological father.  We even call them, "the twins" despite being 21 months apart in age.  They naturally gravitate to one another to play.  They can even finish one another's sentences.  Yet, they share no matching DNA.

My baby and my oldest sons have a fire in them that is infectious.  They are busy all the time.  They hate having nothing to do and love being physically active.  They are quick witted and can be terribly snarky at times.  They are also the first to dispense hugs to the momma, and help without being asked.  They wrestle with each other and enjoy one another, despite the almost eight year age difference.  One proudly sports a fair face full of freckles, while the other has the smooth, caramel, Carribean skin of a boricua.

All of my children have different and unique relationships with one another.  They share similar facial expressions, display emotions "just like so and so", and have inflections in their voices that match each other.  They are all wonderfully made and unique as well, but there is no denying that they have been raised together as siblings.  The origins of their bloodlines DO matter, but not in the everyday interactions within the family.  Quite honestly, to me the biological vs. adopted question is irrelevant.  I don't mind sharing the story of our journey at all, but it does not divide my kiddos into categories.  Ever.

So, I didn't answer the query, even though the writer of that question was simply excited to share her family dynamic, and find others that are similar.  I like finding that as well, but this time I decided to keep our family's differences close to the cuff and simply marvel over how very alike they are.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How Could I Refuse?

I have a full plate.  I don't say that to complain, just to let all the other moms reading this know we are all at a similar starting place in life at the present.  It's a blessing and a curse all at the same time.  Mostly because it is mainly my doing.  I say, "yes" a little too often. The things I do however, I genuinely enjoy doing, or I just really like helping out if there is a need.

Unfortunately the flip-side has little room for the other things.  The, "you only get one shot here" things that come up.  Usually I have to decline due to another obligation, work, or a kid appointment.  Squeezing things into the calendar can get tricky.  But there are times when the silly things seem extra important.  Those that involve the kids, I try and grab as often as I can, but the ones that involve the world outside of the immediate Mr. Clean family biosphere can often get missed.  I. Hate. That.

Today I am taking a trip.  For just over 12 hours, and it will involve over four hours of driving, arrangements for my kids, and skipping our weekly small group Bible study (that Mr. Clean leads... wince!).  But waiting for me will be an evening of fun, music, family, and friends.  Who could turn that down?

So in a few hours I am off to Maryland to have dinner and to see a Big Band and Swing musical review; one of my all time favorite styles of music.  Someone I love and who knows that I would hate to miss this chance decided to just ask.  She knows I live in the middle of semi-controlled chaos.  She knows that I homeschool.  She knows it's a Wednesday.  She also knows I would love, love, love this show.  So, how can I refuse?  Sometimes these little things, are the big things.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dreams and Drywall

I love architecture. I love good bones on a house, and lots of moulding.  I love history and personality in a property.  When I was six years old, my mother and step-father bought a really cool over-sized Cape Cod that was built in the the late 30's to early 40's.  They took this gem and shined it up.  They painted, remodeled, and decorated top to bottom.  It was gorgeous.

When my husband was a kid, his parents' first house was an older house a block or so from Long Island Sound, in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.  They did the same thing to their house that my parents did to theirs.  Both Mr. Clean and I grew up with a love of all things construction.  We could discuss plum lines, window glazing, and drywall tape.  I can walk into almost any building and find the original lines vs. the remodeled ones.  Quite often I can even peg the decade the building was constructed.  The sight of a purple chalk line just makes me happy.  We both wanted all that for our future first home.

When the time came to house hunt, Mr. Clean decided that ease of living while building up his career was a tad more crucial than being coated in drywall dust.  Any house with oil heat was out.  I was heartbroken.  I wanted radiators and picture moulding.  Squeaky hardwood floors, and hand carved newel posts were the top of my list.  Easy to maintain became his desire.  I saw his logic, but my heart still wanted a house with a story.  We bought our first home in 2000; it was a great little townhouse with nice hardwood floors, but not much more personality (unless you count our original, off-white, 80's style fridge and dishwasher).

Fast forward nineteen years and we are living in a cookie cutter, traditional, builder grade home, in a really great neighborhood.  My house is a mere fourteen years old, with carpet covered plywood subflooring and standard, big box store issued, round newel posts.  I am extremely grateful for my house, and loved imagining our future when we first looked at it, but my childhood love of architecture is still alive and kicking.  I have a laundry list of what I want to change in this house.  And each project requires serious power tools and lots of drywall and moulding.  Oh, and cash.

Tonight I left the home of a friend. I adore the friend, and her seriously killer log cabin home that was probably frequented by Daniel Boone, back in the day.  That house has some major personality.  I drove home in the bitter cold, pulled into my garage, and walked into my family room with the builder grade, fourteen year old carpeting and oddly placed soffits (I hate soffits).  

There, sitting on the couch were all five of my kids, next to Mr. Clean in the recliner.  There, were my babies, kept cozy and warm by the modern upgraded heating system in my house.  There, were the six pieces of my heart that make my house a phenomenal home.  I sat down on the couch cuddled between two of my offspring and found my happy place.  And it had nothing to do with newel posts and moulding.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hoping to Obtain Maturity

I might as well get it out of the way right now; I am a conservative.  I always have been.  I idolized Reagan when I was a kid, and turned my nose up at the thought of anyone choosing to be a Democrat.  Silly peasants.

I am also very conservative in my beliefs.  My faith is top priority.  However in my younger adult years,  my socially conservative views would often trump my religious views.  With the exception of my best friend whom I adored (and, well, my parents), my friends were very conservative Jews, Muslims, and other like minded Christians.  I would have rather spent time with an extremely conservative atheist than a "fuzzy" Christian. Self-righteousness reigned supreme over actual Christ-like love in my life.  I didn't hang out with my Jewish, Muslim, or atheist friends because I cared about their salvation, but because they thought like I did on all worldy and political matters.  I liked them, some I even loved, but the fact that they thought like I did was the most important part of our friendship.

Even just typing all that out and re-reading it makes me cringe.

Fast forward quite a few years.  I am still a conservative in my political and religious views (although there has never been a politician to replace my "Gipper", and I have matured enough to know that it isn't all so cut and dry), but the person I described above annoys me to no end.  I would not be able to hang out with her for more than a few minutes before the rhetoric and propaganda just plain wore me out.  And it was my own rhetoric for years.  

There are still certain subjects over which I will not budge.  What they are doesn't matter anymore.  The Lord knows where my heart stands, right or wrong, and He will deal with me on it if I need convicting.  My God is that big.  I am not smushy in my faith; I am interested simply in the Gospel, biblical truth, and showing Christ's love, but it is no longer necessary for me to bash others over the head with it.

And those Jewish and Muslim friends?  I love them even more now, but it has nothing to do with my pharisaical moralist approach to life anymore, but a deep love of people.  Even if we come from differing points of view.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day 11 - Technology Fail

I just typed up a post on Blogger's handy dandy IOS app.  I went to look up the proper spelling of a word, went back to the app, and poof... gone.  I was wrapping up the post, and it was. just. gone.  To say I was frustrated is an understatement.  It was almost like being thrown back to the early days of word processing, before "auto-save".  The thought of starting the post from scratch was scowl inducing.  Why couldn't Blogger design an app that would instantly save your work when you went to the home screen?  Where is the logic?  Where is the justice?  Am I really this ridiculously shallow?

This was probably the biggest inconvenience of my day.  The lack of auto-save.  And I was grousing over it.  And now publicly admitting it.  Kind of absurd, aye?  

I work part time with people who are separated from their children. Quite possibly forever.  I turn on a faucet and water magically flows out, while people in other countries fight over clean water.  I have to creatively find ways to fit food in my pantry because it is too full, while mommas around the world watch their babies starve.  And I have to resist the urge to not throw my iPad across the room because an app didn't save my words?  

Humility hits hard. Very hard. And I am so very glad it does; especially on the days I grumble about the things that really do not matter whatsoever.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Just Keep Breathing...

I am one of those annoying people who can belt out a song for any situation.  It can be VeggieTales or Phantom of the Opera, it doesn't matter.  I love music.  

I come from a musical family. My grandmother was an amazing pianist who loved hymns.  My grandfather blasted big band at every given opportunity.  My mother had music playing constantly; anywhere from Al Jarreau and Lena Horne to The Monkees.  We had it all.  I started singing young and loved it.  I sang in church, school, choirs, choruses, plays, anywhere. It was my therapy.  

I still believe the best therapy for me is to drive somewhere alone and sing until my stress is gone.  I did that today.  It was a rough school day for one of my offspring, and I was simply drained by the evening.  I found myself at one point alone in my Momma mobile while running errands, listening to music.  

And then Plumb came on.  Tears welled up a little and I felt the stress leave me as the words bounced around in my heart and my head.  This is my current homeschool anthem right now for one of my beloved kiddos...

Well, everybody's got a story to tell
And everybody's got a wound to be healed
I want to believe there's beauty here
'Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on
I can't let go, I can't move on
I want to believe there's meaning here

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that still small voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise

What an amazing God we serve.  He knows what we need and exactly when we need it. I am so thankful for that.

I will sing to the Lord all my life;
 I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Psalm 104:33

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fruit Pies and Polyester

Have you ever eaten something simply due to nostalgia?  Something you probably wouldn't touch with a twenty foot pole if it were not for history?  I did that the other day, and was swept right back to being a five year old who had stars in her eyes for her daddy.  I was food shopping and my eye caught a fruit pie.  The kind that is individually wrapped and looks like a flat misshapen football.  I couldn't resist, so I bought it.  I didn't eat it right away; I actually forgot about it for a while and rediscovered it later when I put the groceries away.

Polyester chic 1978/79
The first bite swept me back to the late seventies.  I was immediately clad in plaid polyester pants and a halter top (I was a very stylin' five year old), with my equally cool young father with his jeans and t-shirt, always complete with a pack of smokes in the pocket or rolled in his sleeve (in the 70's smoking apparently couldn't kill you, so thankfully he quit before it could).

My mom refused to buy me junk food.  She was always feeding me things like couscous or salmon from a can.  Pies in a "paper/plastic/I have no clue what material it actually was" wrapper did not pass muster.  But my daddy... he was the one to sweet talk.  My father didn't eat junk food either.  Actually my father rarely ever ate much during the day.  He started off with coffee, drank more coffee, had coffee for lunch, and then ate as if it was his last meal at dinner. I however, had the power to con my father (while I was still young and cute) into letting me eat all the nonsense he wouldn't touch, and Hostess fruit pies were on the top of that list.

So zoom back to 2015, a time when smoking AND wearing polyester is hazardous to your health, and I am eating the pie.  Frankly, it's kind of gross.  I am kind of understanding exactly why my dad wouldn't touch them back then.  Maybe I should go grab some salmon instead.  Canned, of course.

Sliding In Under the Wire

At about 23:56 I realized that I hadn't written anything today, and the day was rapidly ending.  Much faster than I could get anything published.  I was going to blow it a whopping eight days in.  My 365 day challenge was going to tank.  I am calling a technicality however...  In Portland, OR it is still Wednesday.  In Nampa, Idaho it is still Wednesday.  Even in Nashville, Tennessee it is still Wednesday.  And there are people that I love in all of those places, so I am good to go.  Besides, everyone knows that the rule for when tomorrow begins is after a "sleep".  I haven't slept therefore it isn't tomorrow, and I have not failed my challenge.

So after all that justification and logic twisting, I am going to bed and calling Wednesday complete.  And I wrote something.  Even if it will shame me to no end tomorrow.  Which hasn't happened yet.  Because it is still today, and I have not failed to write something today.  Happy sleeps!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hot Stuff

As much as I am confused by the workings of the brains in my kidlets' heads, I adore them.  I like spending time with them and enjoy seeing them interact with each other.  But the teen boy brain, I will never, ever, ever understand.

My father likes super spicy food.  The kids dared him once to down a packet of hot sauce while we were at Chick fil-A having lunch.  He obliged without even a twitch.  I am convinced he has long since burned off every single taste bud.  This feat of grandpa greatness has become a thing of legend in our house.  Every once in a while talk of upping that ante comes up.  No one has been brave enough to try the same thing.  Until last night.

K.Z. finally got the nerve to challenge the Tabasco King.  He grabbed a shot glass, filled half of it with the evil brew and after quite a few fearful false starts, downed it.  For a few seconds he thought he was home free.  Then the tabasco peppers, vinegar, and salt kicked in, and kicked back.  I am pretty sure he was going to implode.  I almost felt bad for him, and tried to hide my impending fit of laughter while I offered helpful advice on how to ease the burn straight from the bowels of hell (most of it I made up; I hate spicy food).  He lived through it, and I was fairly certain he had learned his lesson.  However, he is a teen boy, so the lesson lasted less than 24 hours.

Today he decided to challenge his best friend to "man up" and do it again.  I am fairly certain that downing Tabasco Sauce does not make you a man, but perhaps he grew a chest hair or two from the first experience.  This time though it was a full shot, and because his friend has just as many "fourteen year old brain cells" as my son, he took K.Z. up on the challenge.  Two idiots, two shot glasses.  What could go wrong?

I am quite happy to report that both boys survived the challenge (albeit with runny noses and teary eyes) relatively unscathed.  It is left to be seen if they have sprouted any chest hair, but I am fairly sure they have burned off a few taste buds.  Well done, boys.  Way to "man up"?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Y'all Just Settle Down Now!

I decided to give the kids the day off today.  Their friends were home from school today, and although I have heard many times that the best way to honor Dr. King's legacy is to work as hard as he did, I took the, "It's a National holiday" way out of doing school today.  You know what? I didn't even feel guilty.  For me, this is a major accomplishment.

For those who do not know our educational journey, we were homeschoolers wayyyy back in the beginning of my oldest's school days.  We started right at Kindergarten.  I ordered my very expensive complete Sonlight curriculum (which I loved) and faithfully checked off all the boxes each day.  The girls got their trickle down learning while K.Z. and I set off on the homeschool road, and later their own curriculum.  We crashed the homeschool vehicle on that homeschool road.  By third grade he went to a private school.  I was convinced they could do more for him.  The girls wound up eventually following.  Naturally, after we adopted Eazy and he hit Kindergarten, he went as well.

For years I had that nagging feeling that I wasn't doing what I was called to do.  I wanted my kids home, but homeschooling was stressful. Fighting with my oldest about school work was stressful.  It didn't magically stop in private school.  He came home and we battled over homework.  More stress.

We made the decision for various reasons to pull the kids from their school at the end of one year, and commit to the homeschool path we had set out on earlier.  It just felt right.  I was petrified, yet excited.  But this time, I didn't want to create school at home.  I just wanted my kids to learn, and enjoy it, no matter what that looked like.  I had a distinct feeling that it looked nothing like the "school at home" setting I had created before.  The problem with that plan was their uptight mother.  The one who loves to check boxes, and sees progress through completed curricula and filled in workbooks.  The one who could easily crack a whip while yelling, "You're gonna learn and you're gonna like it!"  Shudder...

I don't want to be that mom.  I don't even like that mom.  I decided this time would be different.  I am trying extremely hard to make it different, so I am trying to take a more relaxed approach, and guess what?  They are learning.  On Friday I put some of the books aside and we dove into learning more about manta rays from the previous days's lesson.  We watched educational cartoons about the Revolutionary War.  We used YouTube and Netflix.  And we learned.  All of us.  And we enjoyed it.  

I don't have it down yet, by any stretch.  I have cried buckets of tears over my perceived failures over their education.  I have doubted my curriculum choices, and fretted over their futures.  I have bent many a friend's ear and blown up their e-mail accounts with my worries. Despite all of this, there is a deep flowing peace.  It is palpable.  I just need to settle down and enjoy this journey, because I have a feeling if I just relax a bit, it's going to be a great one.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I Like My Honey Like I Like People...

I love honey.  Yep, I have finally admitted it.  I am a honey junkie.  My addiction started at a very young age, and it is all my mother's fault.  She introduced me to the honey and peanut butter combination on a sandwich.  I will dip almost anything in honey, eat it right off of a spoon, or add it to a drink or recipe.  Honey on a biscuit.  A piece of fried chicken dipped in honey.  Honey in my tea.  The list is endless.  Oh, have mercy...

Recently a friend picked up for me the biggest container of honey I have ever owned.  It's a thing of beauty.  A twelve pound container of heavenly gold.  My eleven year old C'sa was just as excited about it as I was.  The love of honey does not fall far from the tree.  Hmm, that doesn't quite do it. The honeyed apple doesn't fall far?  The bee doesn't fall far from the hive?  Yeah... never mind.  We will move on.

Anyway, as we opened the container, we stood in awe of the gorgeous raw manna within.  Because the honey had settled, there was a clear top layer that looked like typical store bought refined and heated honey.  However, underneath that layer, it was obvious that there was so much more depth.  A wonderful murky depth that was visible, but held a vast history.  I like my honey like I like people.

I love people.  I enjoy chatting with them, people watching (not in the creepy stalker way, just in the "observe from a park bench" way), and gleaning from a various dynamic of individuals.  I enjoy them more if they are like raw, unfiltered honey.  People who are refined and completely clear seem a bit shallow to me, with no depth to them.  But the people that are transparent like that first layer of raw honey allowing you to see their depth, are the people that I love getting to know and spending time with.  In that depth contains the grit that makes them fascinating and real.  The bits of their lives that when shaken up will rise to the surface to complete who they are. Their successes, their failures, their joys, and their fears.  Its all there, and they are not afraid to show it.  Be raw.  Be unfiltered.  Be sweet.  Be you.  Especially with all the bits and pieces.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saying Thank You

I have a thank you note to write, yet I keep putting it off.  It is an important "thank you", to an important person in my life but the words won't come.  It isn't a lack of desire.  My heart is full of this particular thank you, but my brain simply cannot form the words that would match what my heart feels. And there are some days that the words "thank you" seem cheap and meaningless.

I have noticed that "thank yous" are thrown around easily nowadays, but without a lot behind them.  Surely the people speaking the words mean it, but it doesn't feel very solid.  Kind of like the obligatory, "thanks" hastily muttered when one holds a door open for you.  Its automatic.  Still polite, but not completely genuine.

I want this particular thank you to be authentic, genuine, and well received.  The gift it follows was planned, well thought out, and unique.  It was more than a gift, it was a hug sent in the mail.  A well planned hug from someone for whom a hug is tough to give.  But I got one, and I need to reciprocate.

So pray for me to be able to send a timely note of appreciation with my entire heart attached.  This "thank you" needs to hold weight.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Wonderful World of Siblings

I am an only child.  I am also the oldest, the youngest, and smack dab in the middle as one of six.  I will wait while that sinks in for a bit.  You are probably thinking that I have lost my ever-lovin' mind.  You are probably right, but on this topic, I am confident of my "non-place" in the sibling hierarchy.  Psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman (author of, The Birth Order Book) would have a field day with me.

Due to my unconventional and sometimes lonely childhood (I have two half brothers, two step-brothers, and a half sister; none of which I lived with full time while growing up), I always dreamed of having a gaggle of kids.  Five was the number I set my heart on at the ripe old age of nine, to be exact.  I never wanted my children to lack a playmate, best friend, or confidant.  I imagined their days spent inventing silly secret languages, playing with dolls, trucks, mud, bats and balls, the gambit.  My daughters would be bffs.  My sons would fight and slay dragons to defend their sisters' honor and integrity, all while never failing the brotherhood code of ethics.  It was all very neat and clean; quite idealistic.  And then the precious little darlings were born.

Initially all was going just swimmingly.  K.Z. adored his brand new sister and wanted to constantly play with her.  When little Xena was 21 months old, our third child C'sa came on the scene.  Still pretty copacetic.  Even when we started to foster our little guys, all was well.

And then... puberty.

I am not ignorant to this strange phenomenon.  I am pretty sure I only survived it by the skin of my teeth, and the fact that I had younger and cuter siblings to soften the blow of my hormone induced teenage psychosis.  But simply conquering puberty in one's own life can never really prepare you for the day when you watch your own beloved cutie pies morph into the wretched heathens they will become.  It goes from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood right to Lord of the Flies, in the blink of an eye.  And they start to get snarky with one another.  And fight.  And hate one another.  And the silly secret language of the cute days is replaced with what can only be described as a demon possessed Linda Blair like presence from The Exorcist.  My dream world of hearts and roses crashed and burned.

Now I do understand that the prefrontal cortex in the strange teen species does not develop fully until somewhere in their early twenties, but there are days I swear there must be tumbleweeds and crickets chirping in the space where all that good adult brain will someday form.  And frankly, it baffles me.  There are GREAT days with these offspring of mine and I do generally like them, but I miss those sweet babies, and look forward to the cool creatures that will emerge from these teen bodies.  That is if I actually survive it (if they survive it).  Do they make "Teen Survival Kits"?

Someone send chocolate. It's gonna be a long few years coming.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I'm Cheating... A little

Today is day three of my challenge to write daily for the year and I, um well, didn't.  Not officially.  So, in the sprit of the challenge I am posting today, but this wasn't written today.  This was written this year for our women's quarterly newsletter at church.  Call it a re-run of sorts...

Disco and grenades

Imagine this scene, I am a mother of three young ones, finally getting to take a much anticipated shower for the day.  I finish up, wrap up in a towel...  Wait!  Scratch that. Imagine nothing.  I will save both of us that embarrassment by just telling you the rest of the story.  Let's try this again.

Back before there were five kiddos running this place, there were just three.  A six year old and his two sisters, ages four and two.  They were good kids, but kids nonetheless and subject to fits of, "kid stupidity"; hence I never left lighters laying around, nor live grenades, etc.  Sometimes even just escaping to take a quick shower could lead to trouble, so I would leave my bedroom door wide open and take the fastest shower known to all humanity, all with one ear finely tuned to the three cherubs innocently watching PBS, downstairs in my family room.

Once clean and happy (a shower for me is like the strongest cup of java you can imagine, it is my boost for the day), I would proceed to get dressed in my room, door still standing wide open.  This took finesse.  I had to listen for said cherubs and maneuver the towel strategically while getting dressed, in case one of the kids should suddenly pop up unannounced in the doorframe.  I have always valued my privacy, even with my young ones involved, so if you will, picture the most awkward disco dancing on the planet while a towel is held to your chest with only your chin.  This is what I must have looked like getting dressed with my door wide open, trying to maintain a shred of dignity and decorum.

After about a half gazillion times of doing this, it finally dawned on me... close the door.  Yep.  Walk the whopping ten feet from the dresser to the door and close it.  It would take me nanoseconds to get dressed sans the disco dancing towel, and the children would be just fine while I did so.  After all I am a mother, and mothers can get dressed faster than the speed of sound if need be.  Just close the door.

Following this grand epiphany, I took pause.  It is just like our lives as believers and followers of Christ.  We live in a world of chaos, where sin is just waiting to pop up in the doorframe and enter our world, as we dance and maneuver behind towels to try and avoid it.  What if we just shut the door?  What if we simply did not allow all that sin and chaos into our lives and the lives of our families?  We deal with it enough on a daily basis, so why invite it in?

I don't know what may pop into your doorframe.  It may be a certain type of musical influence, or media.  It could be a relationship that could spin out of control and become inappropriate, or an influence taking you away from worshipping your Savior.  It could be weekend sports that give you no time for Sunday morning fellowship, or just one more goal to obtain that steals your time and focus from your family and friends.  My list and your list will be different, but they are both very real.  Pray about what may be influencing you in a way that is not Christ honoring.  We need to learn to shut the door on the world and simply stop hoping it will not saunter in, because it will.  No more awkward disco dancing to circumvent possible grenades.  Make the decision to just shut that door.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Day Two

I have been challenged. Challenged to do something that I love, have always wanted to do professionally, and dreamed about doing as a young child (well in between spinning as fast as I could in circles, in a vain attempt to turn into Wonder Woman; I still try sometimes, but thus far, no luck).  I have been challenged to write every day for the entire year.  Every. Single. Day.

Now the requirements of this challenge are not insurmountable.  After all, just by typing this I have met the requirements for the day, but somehow, it isn't quite enough.  I write constantly in my head.  In the shower or in the car I have "written" some thought provoking pieces (well, at least in my own mind), at night my brain works overtime forming sentences, and even making dinner while trying to block out the dull roar that is my life with five kidlets, I can be quite creative.  Yet now, with a quiet house and a keyboard at hand, my brain betrays me.

I guess that will be the norm on some days.  I want to try and carve out time that I can just write, but that may not always happen.  You might wind up getting my latest tirade on who left gerbil food in the bathroom sink (this happens more often than I can even describe), but I promise (umm no, of course my fingers are not crossed behind my back... gulp!), I will do my best to write something each day. Anything.

Now for a couple quick spins as fast as I can.  I refuse to give up that dream of the golden lasso and cool bullet reflecting bracelets.  A girl needs some bling in her life...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Home Again

Fran drags a big glass.

The frog slips in the mud.

The clam is in the grass.

I haven't written in a while, because THIS is my life lately. Fran and her big glass totally ignore the clam in the grass and the frog in the mud.  Fran is a snob.  At least in my version of the reader that my seven year old is sounding out at a slow pace.  At a staggering, mind numbingly, slow pace.  So, I have to jazz this story up in my mind, or I just. might. lose it.

I must admit that teaching children to read is lower on my "enjoyment scale" than having plaque scraped off of my teeth, stepping on Legos, or navigating my way through the back yard before the kids have picked up the all the dog bombs. I find it that painful.  So I am extremely thankful that this is my last child that needs to learn the basics of reading.  For someone who adores reading and writing, this may seem odd, but it is my reality.  I have a dear friend who was an elementary school teacher before she had children.  Teaching young ones to read is her absolute favorite educational activity.  Secretly, I think she sniffs Elmer's School Glue when no one is looking.

But alas, this is actually the life I begged for, prayed about, and coveted.  My kids are home with me again after a few years in private school and a year stint with a cyber school.  They are learning in their individual styles. We are figuring this traditional homeschooling route as we go along.  And it's all good.  Except for Fran.  Fran with her big glass, is a punk.