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.