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Sunday, December 30, 2007

If you...

If you find a puddle on the floor in front of the refrigerator during the middle of the day, you may assume it was just a melted ice cube and clean it up while making a mental note to reprimand the children for the thousandth time to throw the ice outside if it drops on the floor. While making that mental note to self, you will also remember that you owe a response from days ago to someone's blog topic and make a vow to get it done in the quiet of the evening. To ensure a quiet evening, you will decide to watch a movie with your husband even though he's a wee bit grumpy that the "to-do list" is still largely undone despite the fact that you both worked hard all day (except for a quick power nap that ended up being not-so-quick because no one woke you up out of a kind desire to let you rest, which sadly thereby guaranteed the to-do list remained unfinished.) If you've had a rather long nap, you will feel awake enough after said movie that you take on the pending blog project despite the late hour. If you take on the pending blog project you will realize how very much you have to say about the topic and in the end wonder if a) you should just have made it your own blog post or b) you made any sort of sense at all or c) you even remotely answered the question she asked. While you are pondering all this, you will decide you really should wrap it up since it's 12:40 AM. If you wrap it up at 12:40 AM, you will need to go get a glass of water to take your medicine and head to bed (and you will now be feeling very sleepy). If you are feeling very sleepy, and in need of a glass of water to take medicine and go to bed, you will walk to the fridge to get your water and find a small lake on the floor in front of the fridge. If you find a lake in front of your fridge, you will feel the need to confirm what you sickeningly know in your gut is true and will open the freezer door to find nothing frozen inside anymore. If you find nothing frozen inside your freezer anymore at 12:40 in the morning, you will need to wake up your husband. If you wake up your husband, he will first jump out of his skin, then groan, then come fully awake in mere milliseconds as you explain the situation. If he becomes fully awake in mere milliseconds, you will head to the kitchen to assess the situation. If you assess the situation, you will realize there is really NOTHING you can do at 1 AM to solve the problem, because my friends love me, but not THAT much. You will however waste precious sleep time trying desperately to reconfigure you kitchen in a way that places the fridge ANYWHERE but directly in front of the back door. If you waste precious sleep time doing that, you will head to bed exhausted but adrenaline filled at 2:30 AM knowing you must be at church at 8:30. If you have to be at church at 8:30, and your refrigerator is dead, you will skip breakfast and give your children permission to eat their body weight in dunkin donuts doughnut holes from the snack table. And then, you will hopefully find loving friends and/or family who are willing to take them home highly sugared up so you can go blow ridiculous amounts of money on a new fridge without having 4 kids underfoot. If you do manage to find "homes" for your kids, you will KNOW your friends and family LOVE you (at least the ones who don't have to go shoe shopping) and you will luckily find what you are looking for ON SALE and for right at what you had mentally budgeted to spend based on how much cash the money tree in your yard can produce overnight, LOL. If you find what you are looking for, within your price range, you will have a few dollars left from that pretend money tree to replace the FLOOR that is ruined from the puddle-turned-lake that led you to discover the dead fridge in the first place. And if you buy new flooring, well, let's just say now there's a whole NEW to-do list, and a very concrete time line to get it done in!

Okay, I could go on forever in the If/then style, but let me just say that the fridge can't be delivered until WEDNESDAY, but God is soooo good. Our neighbors across the street have an extra fridge in their garage and they are letting us use it to store what was not ruined in the dead fridge fiasco. We'll be eating a LOT of soup this week. I have NEVER had the freezer so full, of course, so now we have a lot to consume in a short amount of time. But the lack of ice...Oh, that is hard! You never realize how much you use ice until you can't just go to the fridge to get some! The fact that the fridge won't get here until Wednesday gives us time to deal with the floor. Our kitchen is highly dysfunctional-an old porch that was converted into a kitchen. It is 7 feet across and 20 some feet long (33 feet total if you include the laundry area). And it has two different sub floors-wood and concrete-depending on where you are. The people we bought the house from spared no expense and laid "3 for a dollar" peel and stick tiles, and they have really been looking YUCKY for about 6 years now (yes, we moved in 6 1/2 years ago). I have to clean them with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on my hands and knees to get them clean, and then one whirlwind trip through by the kids and all evidence of the cleaning is erased. The tiles were light colored and all of them were horribly cracked-some even missing chunks (like 2X3 pieces), so really I am thrilled to have a reason to replace them. AND some friends of ours had given us 2 boxes ($60 worth) of nicer peel and stick tiles that we were just waiting to use, so we bought another box today to be able to cover more of the area, and we will get to work so the laundry area and back door/fridge spot will be done before Wednesday. Exciting stuff, but HARD WORK. Luckily, cheap peel and stick tiles come up easy when they are soaking wet :-). Sadly, the floor beneath is grosser than gross looking.
Pray for us as we take on this project we weren't planning on having to deal with yet. I am totally willing to give over MY plans and acknowledge that this is GOD's plan for us, but it does take a mind shift and leaves us with some unfinished projects in other rooms that don't help the overall look of the house any (think gaping holes in the bathroom ceilings from where my husband has been diligently working on replacing the ventilation fans-but of course in an old home NOTHING is as easy as it should be.)
I'll be doing the happy dance though when I welcome in the 2nd day of the New Year with a partially new floor and a totally new fridge!
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Monday, December 17, 2007

So what exactly do you do...

when you look out your window and see people walking away with your stuff???
Okay, while that's a true statement, it needs explaining. Yesterday, I was walking in my house from the kitchen to the living room, and as you do that, you are facing the window, so I happened to be looking outside. And as I did, I saw a man walking with his 3 small children. Well, actually he and two of the children were walking...the other one was riding one of our ride on toys. And they weren't stopping. In fact, they had ridden it from our back driveway all the way around the corner to our our front driveway.
Isn't it amazing how many thoughts can pass through your head in a split second? Never was my thought, "These awful people are stealing from us" because I knew that that toy had been down by the road and as we had left the house earlier that day, I had made the kids get out of the car and move it up higher on the drive telling them that someone would take it if they left it there. I am not sure where exactly it was when the man and his children found it, but I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. My thought did include, in no particular order, see I told them this would happen, should I just let him go with it?, but Sari still rides it, but she has another ride-on, oh, yeah, the wheel is broken on the other one, did someone tell them they could have it, well if I am going to stop him, I better do it now. So I turn to my family, ask them if they knew someone was riding off on the toy, and when they all had no idea, I went outside to head him off

found his arms full of a super soaker and a LARGE, heavy duty bubble wand-both also from my yard...

Now we had moved from understandable confusion to blatantly taking anything he saw in my yard as I KNOW both of those things were no where near the curb.
And of course he did not speak english.
I HATED to make the young child get off the toy, but it was on the driveway because it DOES get played with, and I don't want to replace it when Sari is so close to outgrowing it. The dad kept asking "garbage, yes?" and I kept saying "NO, and neither is the water gun or the bubble wand" but it took a few times before he turned it all over.
So today, the wife, holding another baby in arms, and the three small kids (they must have had a kid a year) went walking by, and I wish there was not a language barrier. I probably DO have things I'd happily part with if they needed them, it just so happens that THOSE things were not them. But then, if they really NEEDED those things I probably would give them up too, but them being in my yard does not constitute them being garbage. It's like the time I found a neighbor in our yard picking our orange tree. If they had but ASKED, I would have gotten a ladder for them to pick with, but to walk up to the tree and just take...well, let me just confess that God still has a lot of work to do in me about my ideas about what is JUST.
I will say though, that if I can find the broken wheel to Sari's other ride on, and I can fix it, I will give them the one they wanted to take, the very next time we see them.
For now, I have no higher thought or greater insight to share...just that clearly I still have "possession" related issues :-). I will have a far greater problem if I don't sign off now and make dinner though!
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A Book I Can't Recommend Highly Enough

I recently finished reading The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. I picked it up from a friend at her book sell-off for .25, but the story is priceless. It is the "real" story behind The Sound of Music, actually written by Maria herself.
I won't disclose too much of the story here and ruin it for all of you reading this who should either a) beg to borrow my copy or b) borrow it from your local library post haste. But I will say, you must be prepared to feel a bit like a child who finds out their favorite pet has died or that Santa does not exist beyond the realm of imagination. I don't know what I expected, but it was NOT the great differences in the story that appear within the first half of the book. WOW! But it is the truth of the story, minus the hollywood packaging, that makes it so beautiful.
The Trapp family was amazing. If, 20 years from now, my family looks like theirs did (at least at the point the book ends in the 1940's) I shall be blessed indeed.
Theirs is a story of hard, honest work, real agape love, infinite trust in God and full assurance of His provision for them-just beautiful. Their faith is inspiring and its impact on their life and how they lived it is moving beyond words.
You really MUST read it!
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

You know you are a writer when...

you compose written thoughts in response to what you read in the newspaper, or while making cookies, or in the shower...It's just what I do in my head. Sadly, most of the time, inspiration strikes when I am otherwise occupied, and since I cannot remember 5 minutes ago, let alone some brilliant, scintillating musing, you guys get this dribble instead :-).
While making Christmas cookies tonight I had a whole thing composed about Christmas. Or actually, the debates that seem to go hand in hand with Christmas. Specifically brought about by the realization that my entire upbringing, we went to candlelight service Christmas Eve, but come Christmas morning, there was no CHRIST to be seen. It was all about Santa, and presents, and what we got. There was no reading of the gospel, no singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, no cake, just me, me, me.
That is clearly not what I desire for my children, but figuring out what to do to keep the focus where I desire it to be is harder than figuring out what I DON'T want to do. Years ago we went to just 3 gifts for the kids, just like the three Jesus was given. But Santa does their stockings (although I think the older 3 all suspect the truth, and I'll frankly be quite happy when they embrace it). Is that Santa thing bad? Well, in some of my friend's houses it is. And I get the whole, "why lie to my kids and create an atmosphere of distrust?" and "why tell them strangers are bad, but then ask them to be comfortable with one breaking into your house once a year?" and "Why focus on one day that 'Santa" is watching for, when God watches everyday, and demands our best behavior everyday." I "get" all that and more, but that is just not a stumbling block God has exposed to us and asked us to get rid of.
And then there is a whole group of people who think you should not celebrate Christmas at all. After all, and some of these truths may be hard if you have never been exposed to them, celebrating Christmas is not Biblical. In fact, the Bible does not even give us the date Christ was born, which surely God would have provided if such a celebration was commanded. The date of December 25th most likely has far more foundation in pagan customs than in the historical truth of Christ's birth. From what people far wiser than I know of sheep and shepherds, it's unlikely they were out in the hills in the middle of winter, which supports the idea that December 25th is way off. And Jesus was not likely to have been placed in the type of "manger" we all grew up picturing at all. So, extremists feel, why teach these untruths? What makes them any less harmful than "Santa", and why celebrate a holiday that God did not command us to and let fall by the wayside those that He did give His people? And I "get" all that too. And it is the "getting" it that causes much thought when one then tries to decide what to teach the children God has entrusted to you to train up in the knowledge and love of Him.
So as I debated all this while brushing glaze on my cookies, God brought to mind 2 passages of scripture. The first was "May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer." What are the meditations of my heart this time of year? Am I meditating on to-do lists? A cluttered house? All the places to go? People to see? Gifts to buy? Or, am I meditating on CHRISTmas? The celebration of the birth of my Savior and my Lord. Am I urgently seeking to share with my children WHY this day is so important. Not the actual, physical day of December 25th, but the fact that Easter may represent the fullness of God's plan for our salvation coming to a close, but on that special, Holy night in Bethlehem, the plan of the ages was begun in the form of God in the flesh as a helpless baby whose birth was likely in an animal stall, and whose bed was an elevated shelf used for storing feed. Do I share with them how thought-down-upon shepherds were in that time, but how God chose the lowest of the low as the messengers to the world of the best news mankind had ever received? And that throughout history He has chosen ordinary people, frequently those others would not give a second glance to, to carry out some of the most extraordinary parts of His plan? People like David, Ruth, Paul, Mary. People like you and me. People like my children. Do I meditate on the hope that Christmas gave over 2000 years ago, and the promise it still offers today? If I do those things, if I teach them to think on the things that are true, good, right, lovely, just, honest...things that have virtue, things worthy of praise, then I will have achieved my goals. Then we will truly be celebrating Christmas.
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Thursday, December 13, 2007

The closest we are getting...

to potty training these days is Sari sitting on the rolls of toilet paper while she watches Mimi make omelets :-).
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My Quilt

Can I just say I LOVE my quilt. No really. I could not love it more. My husband said, "Isn't it amazing that before you started (the Americana one over the summer) you couldn't even work your sewing machine, and now you've made an entire quilt." I think that sums it up. It's a "pinch me, I must be dreaming" sort of feeling that I actually made a quilt. You can't tell from the photo, but it is about 72" square-just right for 2 big people (or lots of little ones) to snuggle under, and backed with a yummy soft fleece blanket.

I have an extensive list of things I want to learn to do before I die, and making a quilt is one of them. I just feel like our grandmothers and great grandmothers could really DO so much that we have lost the ability to do. It's like we are, as a society, losing a beautiful culture of valuing handiwork. And more than that. We've lost our value in having a mother raise her own children. We've come to believe that having more, owning stuff, is more important than raising our own children, these beautiful gifts from God given to us to raise. Not given to us to give to others to raise. NO ONE will ever love and care for your children like you will. NO ONE.

It's so vitally important that we understand that, and more important that we value it enough to "sacrifice" the stuff money can buy and use that time to win the heart of the child. Mimi and I went to a Mother Daughter conference a while ago, and it was SO RICH with wisdom, I have not known where to start, but let me share this thought:

Let your kids know you think they are THE BEST kids in the world. If they don't get that encouragement from you, they WILL seek it somewhere else.

How scary is that? Do you want your child seeking to know they are valued? Do you want them turning to others to define their worth? Do you want them to grow up feeling that a life of owning stuff like a plasma screen TV was more important than a life that may involve the absence of cable TV, but DOES involve their mother's physical presence in their life ALL the time. Knowing she is there for them, encouraging them, loving them, as no one else can?

And that is why making my own quilt was important to me. It is like a thread running backward and forward through time sewing us all together. It is appreciating the work of the past generations of wonderful amazing women who gave selflessly for their families, learning to value and recreate that work and those ethics yourself, and then having acquired the skills, passing them on to your children so THEY can appreciate it for themselves. In fact, my next project is actually making a quilt WITH Mimi for her bed. We've picked out the fabric and the style, and I can't wait to get started. I want her to see the joy of producing beautiful things with her own hands. And I look forward to the time we will spend together doing it.

And, as I type, Scott is at the office with his daddy working along side him. Does it get any better than that? THIS is how we are called to live, THESE are the seeds we MUST sew if we want to reap children who love people and not stuff, love their God in a real and personal way, honor their parents as a wellspring of their hearts, not a grudging obligation.

Now I'm going to go, turn the AC down to freezing, and snuggle with my kids under our quilt-right after I finish the world's best omelet :-).

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Omelets for breakfast :-)

I LOVE that she can do it herself :-).
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Monday, December 10, 2007

The best thing about being the MAMMA???

You get to eat left over chocolate bread pudding for breakfast while everyone else has omelets :-). Actually, it was a sacrifice as there were only 4 eggs left, so I HAD to eat something else, LOL. At least I ate in private in the kitchen as I was cleaning instead of at the table in front of them.

I have to say I am TOTALLY blessed that both of my older children have taught themselves how to make pretty gosh darn good omelets and they delight in making them for us for breakfast. But, we are now out of eggs...and vegetable oil...and butter...and milk...and lunch meat... and, well, the list is endless, so I see a trip to Publix in our future.

Today though, we have piano, so it is full speed ahead to be ready for Scott's lesson (the last until January), so Publix will have to wait a while. Oh, and we have pictures tonight, so all the kids are getting their monthly whether-they-need-it-or-not bath ;-).

Looks like we may be inviting ourselves to Ann's house for lunch to have some of Presley's yummy Buffalo Chicken Dip-it's easier and more fun than going to the store! I'll bring dessert!
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Thursday, December 6, 2007

(Almost) Finished!

We've been passing an illness around our house...first my husband, then Sari, then me, now Mimi. Just one of those cold/allergy type things, but affecting each one just a little differently. Since Mimi was not feeling well today, I stayed home from church with her and I worked on my quilt while she watched TV. I'm happy to report that it's DONE! Ok, truthfully, it's done to the point of usable, and actually fully quilted on 1/4 of it, and I feel so accomplished. I LOVE it. It's soooo warm and snuggle-y, but best of all many of the people I love most in this world contributed to it. As I was quilting over Aunt Fanny's square, I thought, "here I am sewing over the same things she sewed." In some corny way, it is to me a physical representation of the knitting of two people together in friendship.
I will forever treasure this quilt, as it represents a real accomplishment in my handiwork that I would have never dreamed possible. And, it represents many of the friends God has so graciously brought into my life. I will think of them every time I look at their squares.

I'll post a picture after Sunday when we do our "reveal" for each other.
until tomorrow,
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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My Children succeed in spite of me!

Tonight, the kids had AWANA, and at the beginning of the year I was quite clear that, given all our other activities (cub scouts, girl scouts, 4-H, precept, church, etc.), if they were going to do AWANA, it was entirely their thing-I would not be responsible for helping them remember their books, bags, Bibles, verses, etc. (Okay, that sounds harsh, but I wanted them to OWN this if they wanted to do it.) I even said to my closest friends that AWANA for me represented a chance for my husband and I to have a "free" date night with only the youngest child in tow. Nope, our kids would definitely not be going out for Clubber of the month, this was just a safe Christian environment for them to have fun and us to have 2 hours a week to remember what it means to be a couple.
Mimi in particular has really embraced AWANA and learned at least a verse a week-sometimes two or three. TJ also has worked on his own to learn verses, as has Scott to a lesser degree (he has scouts and piano to keep him busy). I have been proud of them all and how they have really risen to the occasion and taken ownership of their success. Well tonight, Mimi and TJ got their reward. Yes, in spite of me, they were both voted Clubber of the Month. I'm so happy for them as they have really worked at it.
(AWANA must have shopped the "after Halloween" sales for gifts! Yep, now we have 132 little containers of playdoh!)
It is more than a little reassuring to me that they can succeed without me if they really want to. It makes me feel like they will turn out okay even with our laid back homeschool style :-). I've "suspended" them from school for the week, and we have continued our work on restoring the house to some semblance of order. The boys' room was today's project. Tomorrow we will finish up more of the detail work.
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