Saturday, November 24, 2007

Abundant Blessings

If you have ever attended a traditional church or if you are in the least bit religious, then the words to the Doxology will probably be familiar. It starts out, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." It is a song whose history I'm unfamiliar with and not real motivated to investigate, but one I've heard sung more times than I can count, especially growing up going to church. This year, though, as we geared up for winter by digging out the snow clothes, trying on snow pants, jackets, gloves and boots to see who needed what, that song was going through my head.

As a mother of many, managing clothes is a logistical nightmare, especially because my children not only grow quickly, but they are much larger than other children their ages. It is an on-going struggle to make sure everyone has pants or skirts that are long enough, shoes that fit, and a coat that doesn't leave some part of them exposed. More often than not, getting ready for church on Sunday mornings finds at least one person who has something that doesn't fit! Needless to say, trying to take advantage of off-season sales is a bit difficult, because I'm not really sure just what size a kid will be by the time the season for such clothes rolls around.

That is why I was so blessed and had the words of the Doxology running through my mind. Winter clothes I purchased last spring actually fit! Jackets I'd forgotten about fit kids that didn't have jackets. Boots fit kids that needed boots. Our son had already grown into his 3T snowsuit (but it does, by God's grace, have growing room) and one of my daughters is wearing a pair of snowboots I outgrew two years ago!

So, I do praise God, from whom all blessings flow! Not only for the snow clothes that keep my children warm as they play in our white (or almost white) winter wonderland, but all His abundant blessings. At the time of this writing, we've been given two different turkeys (one of which we ate for Thanksgiving), nine grocery bags full of food, including basic staples and supplies for making goodies! It is amazing and I'm in humble awe of God. From Him blessings do flow, and from Him comes all I need for health and godliness.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

No More Almond Rocca

Having been a mother for more than 12 years, and as the mother of five very energetic girls, you'd think I'd have figured this out by now. Alas, I'm only just beginning, and even so have MUCH to learn. Especially when it comes to caring for my son. This 13 month old bundle of energy has an innate ability to get into things no matter what I do to protect either him or what it is I don't want him in. Case in point; the litter box.

Bootsie has been part of our family for more than nine years. She has survived more trauma than a normal cat should have to endure, and she has done it with grace. We love Bootsie. But, as she gets older, certain parts of her life are becoming worth protecting a little bit more. So, I found a great little box that (in theory) is suppose to be great for cats AND keep little tikes out. Like I said, that is a theory. In reality, it doesn't work!

This morning, as we were taking care of breakfast (leftover pancakes instead of our staple oatmeal) Caleb walked into the kitchen with a knife and a spoon. The knife was immediately deposited in the garbage by my 10 year old daughter. Noticing the swift movement, I inquired as to the reason; little did I know how much I didn't want to find out. "The knife was covered with cat poop so I threw it away," came the animated reply. A quick check of the spoon proved that it, too, had been used for foraging into the previously-assumed-to-be-childproof litter box as well. The evidence was not only on the spoon, but also on clothing and hands. Though it appeared Caleb was chewing something, thorough investigation proved fruitless. Visiting the laundry room, where Bootsie's litter box is, was not so fruitless.

Caleb had, somehow, managed to propel his small body on top of the litter box, after procuring a spoon and knife (from our picnic supplies) and balanced precariously on his belly (with his feet OFF THE FLOOR) while reaching his hands, the knife and the spoon into the deposits left by our cat. YUCK!!!!!!!!! After checking with a doctor friend about the health hazards of consuming cat poop, and having to chuckle with her at the antics of my young son, I was able to clean up the mess and block, for the time being, any pediatric access to the litter box. My friend's parting piece of advice; never give Caleb almond rocca!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

She's not a baby anymore

I am the mother of a jr. high age kid. This is taking some getting used to! And no, it is not just because I am getting old; I'm NOT! Ok, I'm getting closer to being 40 than to 30, but that really isn't the problem. The issue at hand is, my daughter is old enough to be in junior high.

Now, you have to understand; I had four children in five years and I've been pregnant 10 times in the last 12 years. So, I've spent lots of time being pregnant and holding babies. I remember clearly the struggle of getting out of the house when I had to buckle four kids into carseats and make sure I had diapers and changes of clothes for at least two of those kids! It hasn't been that long since I could go nowhere without taking into consideration the needs and challenges of my large young family.

But, I no longer have only, or even mostly, young children! It is strange; nice - I'm really enjoying this change, but it is kind of strange. My oldest daughter can babysit, and she does a good job. I can trust her to manage portions of my job, quite successfully. She is still very much a child, and I'm not expecting her to be all grown up now. Quite the contrary, I'm enjoying this stage of her childhood very much. But, with the new pleasure of having a daughter who is old enough to babysit and bear more responsilibity is the challenge of having that same child go to youth group and do the "young adult" thing! This is just so strange. I have to change my mindset! Hopefully she doesn't mind that deep down inside, I'm really just an overgrown teenager and plan to share this adventure she is embarking on! Because, like it or not, we're both in for a wild ride. I guess I better hang on tight, too, since this adventure isn't going to be over for a long time.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

How (not) to Win Friends and Influence People

We have a friend who has worked for the last eight years with a non-profit organization in China developing programs to meet the needs of physically or developmentally handicapped children and their parents. She is in the US for a short time, and was able to visit. In anticipation of her visit, and because it was generally needed, we tided the house. Having arrived home from a meeting literally minutes before our guest, I knew the living room was presentable, and figured the rest of the house didn't matter - we'd just stay in the living room.

After enjoying a wonderful visit, and just before leaving on the next leg of her journey, our friend used the bathroom. After exchanging hugs and waving goodbye to our friend as she drove away, I went to use the bathroom. It was then I discovered just how much the rest of the house mattered!

One of my children (who is not yet old enough for school) had had an accident. Wet little girl panties were laying in the middle of the bathroom floor. A small yellow puddle graced the floor right in front of our toilet. How long it had been since the accident I had no idea, but I knew one thing for sure. My guest and friend, who is very proper and gracious, had gone into what I thought was a clean bathroom, and said nothing to me about how very improper and unclean the room really was! Ahhhh! At least she is already a friend! Even with a friend, though, that isn't the kind of influence I want to have. Guess I won't be giving any of those seminars anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Red (and not so red) hot peppers

On Tuesday afternoons, I pick my niece up from preschool. This week, someone set out a box of jalapeno peppers, chili peppers and tomatillos with a sign that said free. So, we took one of each; we're studying Mexico right now.

The peppers were setting on the counter this morning when my girls decided they needed to see how hot they really were. I warned them not to try it, but you know how much Mom knows! So, my sweet, precious, very sensitive 6 year old took a bite right off the tip of the pepper, seeds and all.

Didn't take long for that sweet, precious, very sensitive 6 year old to recognize her mistake, but it was too late. The fire was already kindled. To the refrigerator she ran, grabbing the milk and quickly filling a cup with the white flame retardant. To her credit, she didn't cry. That was a big accomplishment, since the last time she tasted a hot pepper, she cried for 20 minutes!

Before the morning was over, I'd also tasted one of the peppers. Though it was hot, I only touched it to the tip of my tongue, I didn't bite, chew or swallow. So, my experience was very brief and relatively painless. But, when Dad returned from work, the girls greeted him with a report that Mom had tasted the pepper.

I've been accepted into the Rodgers' Red Hot Pepper Club! And, I learned a very important lesson; when you touch chili peppers, DON'T TOUCH YOUR EYES, NOSE OR MOUTH! Needless to say, I learned that from personal experience! Whatever it is that makes them hot (the capsaisin?) gets on your fingers. Yikes. Those peppers are HOT, and they just keep giving, and giving, and giving. But, at some point either my eyes and nose will become immune to their effects (from frying the nerves in said areas) or the hot stuff will wear off my fingers. Hopefully that happens before it is time to take my contacts out tonight!

Just consider yourself warned, though. If you come to our house in the near future, you will be offered a pepper, whether it is on the menu or not. It will be hot, and an innocent, precious six year old will say, "Please bite it. I did." Just say no!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Day of the Dishwasher

Just days after my husband left to work away from home for six week, our automatic dishwasher quit. Completely overwhelmed with the challenge of trying to find a new one (and not really wanting to shell out $500 either!), I did the next best thing; nothing! Being the mother of four school-age children, I figured we could wait until my husband returned home to solve the dilemma. While we were waiting, those school-age children would wash dishes the old fashioned way, but hand.

During the time we were without an automatic dishwasher, it wasn't really a big deal. Girls rotated who had the washing job and who had the putting away job. Dishes were done after every meal. The kitchen actually started looking tidier for some reason. I seriously considered taking that space and putting more cupboards! But, wisdom prevailed, as did my desire for not only clean-looking, but santized dishes. Instead of extra cupboards, God provided a new (to us) dishwasher and someone to install it.

My four girls sure have learned to appreciate dishwashers, though! Actually, so have I.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Don't Covet

"The Bible says not to covet, even if it is your friend's trip to Africa," were the wise words a friend told me earlier this year. One of my dear friends, who happens to be married to my husband's cousin, making her not only a friend, but family, was moving to Africa as a missionary, and I was very jealous. So, why was I coveting my friend's trip to Africa, you may wonder. Well, let me tell you.

As a jr high girl, I read The Star of Light by Melissa M. St. John. It is the story of a missionary nurse in India who cares for street children in a very large city. A brother and sister (who is blind) run away from a terrible situation at home, in search of this nurse. The story recounts how the boy learns about Jesus and what happens both to him and his young sister, who is blind. It captured my heart and set my direction for the next several years, until I completed my nursing degree, even determining my summer plans for three different summers. For most of my life, it has been my dream not only to work as a registered nurse, but to work as a registered nurse as a missionary in Africa.

Somewhere between graduating from nursing school and getting married, I got off the road I'd so carefully planned. Instead of heading to the foreign field, I ran into road-blocks. Honestly, I don't remember what they were, but somehow I didn't make it to Africa like I'd planned. Then, when I met this increcible man and fell in love, it suddenly wasn't just about me anymore. My husband had his own set of dreams and desires. Not only that, but I totally under-estimated his determination and desire to do something besides go to Africa!

So, instead of going to Africa and working as a nurse, I stayed in the US, busy with a different kind of nursing. My husband and I joined the staff of a large non-profit organization and began working as life coaches focusing on the spiritual needs of college students. It is a wonderful way to invest my energy, as is pouring myself into raising my children. Yet, part of my heart still yearns to go to Africa. Thus, when I came face-to-face with my dear friend's immenent departure, I was overcome with heartache, disappointment, and (though I hate to admit it) jealousy!

My sweet friend noticed my tear-streaked face, and after inquiring as to its cause, gave me her sage, and sound, advice not to covet my friend's trip to Africa. Unfortunately, it is much easier to know the right thing than it is to actually do it. An update just arrived, via e-mail, from my dear friend, describing the trip to their East Africa location. I'm coveting their trip to Africa! Ok, not any more. But, I did. It was, of course, in the most honorable of ways. Still, it was coveting. Yuck.

The commandment not to covet was written a very long time ago, when the world was a much different place. But, it still applies today, in the 21st century, where people like me can covet things never imagined by those around when it was written. The general idea is exactly the same; don't want what God has given someone else. God is helping me recognize that I'm wanting what He has given others, while at the same time helping me appreciate and want what He has given me. Not easy, but it is a very good thing.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Burning coals

Proverbs 25:21 and 22 says that if you are nice to your enemy, then you will heap coals of burning fire on his head and the Lord will reward you. Romans 12:20 says basically the same thing. At first, it sounds like God will reward you for doing a bad thing! Heaping coals of burning fire on the head of anyone, in our culture, is definitely not good. But, if you look at the cultural and historic context, the perspective changes greatly.

I've been told that in the culture and time when the verses were written, it was actually a very good thing to heap coals of fire on some one's head. If you remove our 21st century conveniences like central heat, ovens with timers and thermostats, and sources of heat like electricity and natural gas, all of a sudden fire becomes much more valuable. Though I've never studied the context or details out myself, I've been told that to heap coals of fire on some one's head is like giving them coals to start a cooking fire or to get heat going in their cold tent. It is a very good thing.

Recently, I had the opportunity to experience the benefit of heaping coals of fire. Fortunately, the coals were not on my head! My folks were visiting, and we decided to head down to a local river to swim. When dinner time arrived, we had everything for the cookout, except charcoal. The little grill in the park next to our picnic table, though, did have a very small pile of coals, left over from some other cookout! Being the resourceful mother of many that I am (and you know, necessity is the mother of invention), I gathered handfuls of twigs from the ground and used the left over coals to start a fire. It worked great! We had hot, tasty food, without any charcoal, matches or lighter fluid, all because some one left a heap of burning coals.

Since that experience, the verse in Proverbs has come to mind often. As I've reflected on my adventure with coals, I realized I've learned a couple of lessons. The first lesson is how very much I take for granted the modern conveniences I have!! If I want to cook, all I have to do is turn on my stove and blue flame leaps to life. If I want to bake something, the digital read out on my oven tells me when the oven has reached the right temperature. If it is cold in my house, with the flip of a switch I can make it warm. Such conveniences have only been available for a relatively short time in the scheme of human history. I have much for which to be thankful!

The second lesson I've learned is how vital it is to understand the historical and cultural context of a passage of Scripture. Without further background on Proverbs 25:21, I thought God was willing to give a reward for a bad thing. Instead, it has become very clear from my experience that God is honoring kindness and generosity to an enemy instead of recognizing an action that could only be considered spiteful and unkind. The Bible can seem to mean very different things depending on your perspective, but looking at the context limits the interpretations significantly.

If there is a moral to this story, it is up to you to choose. One last piece of advice, though. If you find yourself at the park ready to barbecue without any briquettes, see if another grill has coals still burning. Just make sure the people who lit the fire are actually done using it. That way you won't find yourself actually experiencing the transfer of burning coals to your body!

Monday, July 02, 2007

With wings like eagles

Usually, what gets written here is funny. I like to focus on humor, because as so many of you know, life is hard and you can either laugh or cry. Laughing is easier and much more fun. But lately, I haven't had lots to laugh about. With my husband traveling a lot for his work this summer, I've been a single-mom and life has been CRAZY!

With only one of me, and six of my children, it is very much like a six-on-one sports match. I'm definitely running my tail off. Too bad I'm not burning calaries like I would playing a sport all day. Instead, I'm tired at the end of the day! Many things remain unfinished, and things I thought had been completed often are not. Case in point; early one morning, my son's diaper leaked as I nursed him in bed. I pulled the sheets off and got them to the foot of Mt. Washmore in the laundry room then rushed off to fix breakfast and manage my home for the day. Some time after 10:00pm, it was bed time for the baby boy and I was ready to drop. But, I still had to make my bed! At least I had clean sheets (though the wet ones were still down at the foot of Mt. Washmore). When my son is grown, I'll have to pay for his counseling, but with no option other than to let him scream, I left him contained and put sheets on the bed.

The amazing thing I've discovered, though, is that God's promise in the Old Testament book of Isaiah (Isaiah 40:31; you can read it at http:// is true. He says that if I wait on Him, then I will run and not grow weary, I will walk and not faint. Now, I'm not running or walking in the literal sense, but I'm definitely running my feet off! And I'm tired, but not worn out. God is giving me the strength I need every day to keep going.

Some days have been more difficult than others. When my son woke up sick, the police chief of our little town called to ask me to pick up our dog from City Hall (yes, it is a small town, and the last time the police chief called about a dog, we got a $150 fine!), and the dishwasher quit all on the same day, it was really hard. When I got an early morning call from camp to let me know that my daughter was throwing up and needed to be picked up, my whole day was pretty much shot. But, life goes on, and I was not completely overwhelmed by it!

The other night, a few women had gathered in my living room to talk about the Psalms. Our focus for the evening was Psalm 59, which David (the second king of Israel) wrote after his father-in-law (the first king) sent men to his house to kill him. And you thought you had in-law trouble! David had a choice what he was going to focus on, and he focused on the God who created both him and his father-in-law, instead of just his father-in-law. When asked what lessons had been learned, one woman said, "The world won't stop for you, but God will." That made me stop and think! The world doesn't stop for me, even if my life is falling apart. But, the God who created me and the rest of the world DOES stop for me. He is concerned about what I'm concerned about. He knows my weaknesses and He helps me. He knows I am made of dust, and He treats me accordingly. It is a wonderful gift. You might say it keeps me going.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Major Multi-tasking

As a mother of many, I've gotten used to multi-tasking. It doesn't look the same as it might in the corporate world, but it is multi-tasking all the same. Recently my ability was challenged as it has never been challenged before. Yes, it happened in the bathroom. For some reason, most of my funniest moments are either in the bathroom or related to something that should take place in a bathroom.

We were visiting my parents when one of my girls called me to, you guessed it, the bathroom. The finicky toilet was acting up and Mom needed to fix it. Recognizing that the toilet wasn't just acting up, but that it was rapidly filling up, I lifted the tank lid to try and stop the water flow. It didn't work! With the water line fast approaching the rim of the toilet bowl, I carefully moved the heavy porcelain lid (with one hand!) and set it aside. Then I grabbed the toilet plunger and went to work on the toilet. Soon, the water was moving the right direction and disaster was averted.

So, you say, where is the multi-tasking in all that? Well, let me tell you. I was not alone as I saved my mother's bathroom from certain destruction (ok, maybe it wasn't that bad). My infant son crawled in just about the time I removed the toilet tank lid. He then crawled up to me and stood up between my legs. It was quite entertaining trying to plunge a toilet with an 8-month old baby alternately reaching for the toilet and pulling on
my jeans!

The trials and triumphs of being three

My youngest daughter is three. She has mastered the art of communication; you know when she likes or doesn't like something. She has mastered the art of motation, no longer walking, or even running to get where she is going. The prefered mode of transportation for my youngest daughter is hopping, like Tigger, every where she goes.

Well, almost every where she goes. Having been born into the 21st Century, she doesn't hop around in the car like those of a previous generation. No. She is buckled into an approved child safety seat. Having reached the whopping weight of 35 #, this little bundle of energy can be buckled into a "booster seat" with a belt-positioning back, so that if we are ever in a crash, all the parts of her that are currently connected will stay connected. It is a good thing. Or at least it is a good thing if you are the mom. If you are the kid, it can be a drag.

Last Sunday, we were on our way to rural Idaho to speak at a church. Though we were on a fairly busy state highway, my husband noticed a deer grazing just off the road. Naturally, he wanted to share this memorable occasion with the rest of the occupants of the vehicle. This was one of the times it was a drag to be in a high-back booster seat. The littlest girl in our car couldn't see past the back of her booster seat; she couldn't see the deer. Then, she demonstrated just how well she'd mastered the art of communication by commencing to bawl, loudly. We quickly got the message she wasn't happy.

Thinking maybe my little girl would be distracted from her plight and laugh, I asked if she would like to have everyone in the car cry with her, to see if maybe then she could see the deer. You and I know that such antics won't make any difference in the past, even the very recent past. My three year old didn't. She somberly nodded her head in response to my question. Being the amazing man that he is, my husband immediately started making appropriate noises. Then he rallied the rest of the car, except for me, to make very loud crying sounds. I wasn't making any sounds, but the tears of laughter streaming down my face were testimony to the fact that I participating as much as possible. As the noise continued, my husband glanced in the rear view mirror and caught a glimpse of his youngest daughter. While the rest of the occupants of the car (babies excluded) cried their best cries, she struggled to peer over the side of her car seat, to see she could glimpse the no-longer-visable-deer.

In the end, my efforts paid off. My little girl was distracted from her plight. We were all greatly entertained, even if it didn't help anyone see anything for us to all cry together for a while. We'll have to wait and see if the family who cries together sticks together, or if we just get sticky.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A New Take on Training

Today, a child at my house used the back yard as a toilet. Though this is not a new or heretofore unknown phenomenon, it hasn't happened for a long time; I was hoping it would never happen again! But, alas, it has. Now, I get to embark on yet another adventure with toilet training. The reason I am embarking on yet another adventure is because each of my four older children have, at one time or another, tried the same toilet-testing technique.

Many years ago, when my oldest daughter was but three (and I had two other children, in diapers), my husband had a brilliant idea. If our very-recently-toilet-trained three year old couldn't make it to the toilet, she could go outside in the bushes. Boy, oh boy, talk about a license to kill. All of a sudden, our little girl had NO accidents, but our grass had lots of brown spots surrounded by lush green rings. She even showed a visitor's son how to leave his mark on the great outdoors.

Of course, having told one child (even though we changed that directive, QUICKLY) she could go outside, each child has gotten the first message without the second. Hmmm? Wonder how that happened? Don't tell me! Now, with two three year olds (my sister and niece are here) running around, yet another "generation" of kids are challenging my sanity.

So, now for my new take on toilet training; if you rub dogs noses in their pxxp when they leave deposits in the house, will it work to rub a kid's nose in it when a kid pxxps in the yard? I'm not sure it will work, I'm pretty sure I don't want to clean up the resulting mess, and I'm not brave enough to try it. But, it is something to ponder. If I rubbed a little girl's nose in her mess in the back yard, would she try making a mess in the backyard ever again?!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Path of Least Resistance

You've undoubtedly heard the saying that water takes the path of least resistance. Over the years I've learned that other things also follow that pattern; men, children, clutter, things like that. Recently, though, I had a startling realization; mothers also tend to follow the path of least resistance, or at least this one does.

Now, don't get me wrong. My children will let you know without a doubt that I am not a pushover when it comes to issues of discipline or character development. A few of them will tell you how mean I can be. While by no means perfect, I most certainly strive to give my children what they need, just simply what they want because it is easier. But, in certain areas, I have chosen the path of least resistance and only in hindsight do I see the consequences.

From my earliest childhood, my dream was to be a nurse. Yes, I know, that is very typical and traditional, but it was my dream. My other dream was to go to Africa or India and take care of orphans and peole who needed medical care. I wanted to save the world, one bandaid at a time. Somewhere along the way, I met Mr. Incredible (no, not the super hero, but a real super guy), fell in love and started having babies. After my oldest daughter was born, I went back to nursing, but only for a few months. It was just too difficult to have someone else telling me what my daughter was doing; I didn't want to miss out on her milestones just to do something with the letters behind my name, no matter how hard I worked for them. So, I quit. Since then, I've let go of many aspects of my dream; not only am I staying home and out of the hospital, my nursing license is long-since expired, and the only hope I have of going to Africa is to visit friends who are ministering there. Not only that, but my second career as a spiritual life coach is on hold indefinitely while I focus on ministering to my family. The path of least resistance was to let go of dreams, then just stop dreaming.

Over the course of years that I've been focusing on letting go of dreams, God has fulfilled some dreams I didn't realize I had. I am beginning to enjoy the opportunity (instead of the burden) of making my house a home, creating a safe haven for my family and others that is more than just a place to eat and sleep. Having children was never on my list of things to do before I die, but I would miss out on SO much in life without my blessings, and they are blessings! My oldest daughter dreams of writing (rather like Anne of Green Gables, in many ways), but I never really did. It is only in hindsight that I realize how very much I enjoy writing, and how many opportunities I have to do so (we publish a monthly newsletter and send a weekly e-mail update for people who invest in our non-profit organization). As a result of opportunities to speak to different groups, I've discovered God has gifted me and given me a desire to do more public speaking; again, one He has already been filling. Today I was invited to a meeting of the parents' association where my girls go to school. Though feeling very much like a third wheel (and not unlike a child sitting at the grow-ups' table), questioning why I even came, it went well. In the end, several others in attendance said they really appreciated me coming and felt like I contributed a great deal to the meeting. It was a totally new experience, in a completely unknown territory, but it was fun!

I've taken the path of least resistance, pursuing and then letting go of my dreams. I'm only beginning to realize that though the territory is unknown and the dreams not yet dreamed, I can enjoy and embrace the dreams God has for me. (For more information on a personal relationship with God, visit Only God knows what the future holds, but He is beginning to open my eyes to the fact that He truly loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life; one that doesn't include just sacrifice. It looks different than I expected, but it isn't quite as bleak as it first appeared. The lesson I'm learning, though, is that it requires much more effort from me to embrace new hopes and dreams, to explore new territory and take on new challenges. This mom is no longer going to settle for the path of least resistance.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Ultimate April Fool's Day Prank

Ok, maybe after having five girls, I'm a little excited about having a boy. Maybe I'm even proud of my son, feeling very special that I can finally dress a baby in blue. Until last Sunday (April Fool's Day), though, I didn't have any idea it mattered to me so much. How, you may wonder, did I make such a startling discovery? Well, let me tell you. It has to do with our time-honored tradition surrounding April Fool's Day.

April Fool's Day at our house has taken on epic proportions. It is, in a way, our favorite holiday. Girls plan for months to pull off the perfect prank. Two years in a row, we were tee-pee'd, by our own daughters! One year, the girls even tee-pee'd us in our bed! Ok, I admit, we played along with that one a litte. And Chris played along with the girls when they put parchment paper over the toilet bowl instead of plastic wrap. This was the first year in many that I wasn't the one soaked by the rubber banded kitchen spray nozzle, only because I didn't do it! But, the prank pulled by my older daughters has got to be the best April Fool's Day prank ever in the history of our family. The girls dressed my son in pink!

Now, to really understand and appreciate the success of this prank, I have to give you the whole story. First, I dressed my boy, as I usually do, in appropriate boy clothes before heading downstairs. Since it was a Sunday, he was dressed for church. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of green eggs and ham (yes, we really ate green eggs and ham, like in the book) before loading into the car to head to church. As I was wrapping up final details from our mornings' adventures, I asked my oldest daughter to buckle her brother in the car. She quickly responded she'd buckled him in already; that should have been my first clue. A last minute scramble to cover the baby with a blanket drew a little curiosity, but not enough for me to figure out something was up. Not until a final check by Dad did we discover the reason for the above described behavior; the baby boy was dressed in pink!

If it had only been a pink dress my daughters dressed their brother in, it would have been funny, but not the prank of all-time. What takes this prank up several notches is what happened in addition to the pink dress. Every detail was covered! The diaper bag had been completely transformed; the wipes container was princess pink instead of boy blue, an extra dress (purple instead of pink) took the place of the pants and shirt, even a bonnet, EVERYTHING was girly! Because the discovery was made before we left home, I had time to grab a change of clothes before running out the door to church. What I did not count on was the creative energy my daughters would exert to make sure their brother arrived at church in pink. They hid the extra clothes! That's right; my daughters (they all collectively take credit) hid the extra clothes I grabbed, so their brother had to go into church wearing a pink dress! A few people commented on how cute my baby girl was, too!

When the pastor asked if anyone new was visiting, my husband stood up to introduce his new "daughter." Everyone howled with laughter! Even a week later, people were still laughing, asking for details. Thankfully, before the experience was over, I was able to see the joke and laugh. I must admit, though, it took a while to embrace the humor. You see, I'm very proud to have a baby I can dress in blue. But, maybe not quite so proud as I was. After all, what is April Fool's Day for if not to make a fool of someone, especially your mom, in front of dozens of people. This is definitely the best April Fool's Day prank ever pulled in our family!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ode to my Mother-in-Law

Everyone is familiar with mother-in-law jokes. You know, the stuff that folks laugh at on sit-coms and other places. If you believe the jokes, mothers-in-law make outlaws look good, and the only thing worse is a trip to the dentist for a root canal, without any drugs. Well, I want everyone to know that my mother-in-law is NOTHING like the women you hear about in the jokes!

My mother-in-law is an amazing woman! She raised five children, a good part of it as a single mother! Each of her children graduated from college and are successful, kind people. Yes, of course I'm biased, but it is true.

The real reason my mother-in-law is an amazing woman, though, has less to do with what she has accomplished (which is noteworthy, indeed) and more to do with her heart. While we are very different people, my mother-in-law loves me just the way I am. It is difficult to put into words, but oh so precious in my heart.

Probably the biggest difference between me and my mother-in-law is that she plans ahead, and I don't. It isn't that I don't want to, I just don't get around to it. My mother-in-law is organized the way I want to be, but never quite seem to achieve. She is ready and prepared for almost everything, almost always. I, on the other hand, am rarely ready for anything, ever. I'm usually tieing up loose ends to the very last minute, with all the chaos and confusion it brings.

Here is where the amazing part comes in; my mother-law loves me anyway. She could look down her nose at the woman her son married and wonder why I don't shape up and fly right. She could let me know, either bluntly or subtly, that she wasn't sure I qualified to raise her grandchildren. Instead, she tells me she thinks I'm doing a great job! She encourages me and helps me grow. It is a gift I treasure and a blessing I thank Jesus for almost every day. It is such a gift, I had to share it! I have a wonderful mother-in-law!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Diapering Disaster

Last night, through the night, I got wet. My infant son was sleeping beside me so that I could more easily attend his needs; like Dr. Bill Sears, we have a "family" bed. It usually saves me trouble and allows me to get back to sleep quickly after 4 am feedings. Usually. Last night, I got wet. This morning, I had to change my pajamas, my pillowcases, and my sheets, because the reason I got wet was a leaky diaper.

I'm a mom. I've been changing diapers for 12 years, and with six kids, that's a lot of diapers. My oldest daughter, who has been around for most of those diaper changes, is a huge help at home. She can fix a simple meal if I need her to. She can run to the corner grocery or pick up mail. She can even watch her siblings for short periods, freeing me up to work on things she can't do. My oldest daughter has even changed her fair share of diapers over the years.

Last night, though, my oldest daughter was no diapering expert. She put the diaper on wrong! Somehow, she didn't get the diaper on straight or something, because the diaper stayed dry and everything around it got wet! You may be wondering why I didn't realize earlier in the night that I had a problem. Actually, I wonder that myself! When I finally discovered that the diaper was leaking, it was an "ah ha" moment. Unfortunately, that moment didn't come until my brain actually had the capacity to have such a realization and by then, the night was over and it was too late.

It could be worse; much worse. I could live some place without disposable diapers. I could lives somewhere without diapers. I could live some where without washing machines. So, in the grand scheme of things, if my oldest daughter isn't a diaper genie, I can live with it. What I can't live with is a world without children, even if it means my son soaks me instead of his diaper. There are much worse disasters.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Mommy: Its who I am.

I love being a mom; I really do. It has defined my life for the last 12 years, and will continue to do so to one degree or another for the rest of my days. Now, certain aspects of motherhood don't rate as highly on my list as others. Diaper duty is not a favorite. Cleaning up after children who have been sick with the flu definitely is not an activity I'd volunteer for outside of motherhood. Even the challenges associated with dressing and doing hair for five daughters is less than desirable in my mind. But, none of these challenges can outweigh the blessings and joy my children bring.

Recently I saw a mom who had two young children with her at the grocery store. The little girl, probably two, was cranky and fussing. When I commented to the mom that her little girl must by tired, trying to commiserate because I know what it is like to shop with a tired two year old, the poor woman was not encouraged. Her level of frustration and displeasure was so obvious it made my heart heavy. Parenting is never easy, but it doesn't have to be miserable! Children are a blessing from the Lord! Even challenging children (and I have a few) are blessings and bring joy!

Sometimes it can be difficult to see the joy. I've had days when Calgon couldn't take me far enough away! More than once I've wanted to hand in my resignation to anyone who would take it (no one would), feeling completley inadequate for the task of raising my children. Motherhood is not convenient. It requires giving more of myself than I knew I had to give, and it certainly doesn't work on my time schedule. But joy in motherhood abounds, if we just look.

I found joy recently in a hug from my three year old. As she wrapped her arms around me and put sticky fingers on my clean shirt she said, "Mommy, I love you sooo much." So the shirt had to go in the laundry. I have to do laundry anyway. I also found joy after a rare nap. While my husband and I were sleeping, our two oldest daughters were busy not sleeping. Instead, they set up a table in the Family Room (where we host large dinner parties - just push the couches out of the way), with places for two, and lit candles to eat by. It was wonderful. Now, dinner was not gourmet. It only consisted of one course, and it was a pretty simple course. But, my two oldest daughters worked together to give my husband and me a date. How much more precious can you get?! Focusing on the efforts to bless us, and not on the mess left behind in the kitchen or the candle wax on my linen table cloth made it possible to treasure the gift from our daughters.

Never having planned to have children, I know God laughs every day as He watches me function (barely) as the mother of six. Still, He has instilled in my heart a passion for being a mom that I never imagined I could have. I LOVE being a mom. I LOVE having children. I even love what is required to have six children, though laundry will never be a favorite activity. If only more moms understood how precious their children are, and how quickly they will be gone; even toddlers who are hungry, tired and cranky.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

One Day at a Time

Where does time go? It seems like only yesterday, I had three babies in diapers, and the mountain of laundry in my basement threatened to lift the house off its foundation! Some how, amidst the long days filled with tears and triumphs, dirty laundry, dishes, burned dinners or pots boiling over, girls with mismatched socks, or not socks because piles of unfolded laundry cluttered every piece of furniture in the family room, kids grew up.

I still have little kids, so life continues to be rather chaotic at times. But, most of my children can buckle their own seatbelts and get dressed by themselves. I change diapers for only one, and even have lots of help with that. Other people can do the dishes and put a load of clothes in the washer, so it frees me up to take care of other details, like working on my blogs. I still have little ones around, but recently I've begun to notice how short my time is with my older girls!

Not too long ago, someone made the statement that the days are long, but the years are short. It is SO true! This is not a new or profound statment, but when you begin to see the reality in your own life, suddenly it takes on a whole new significance. My children are growing, one day at a time.

The dishes are piling up, clutter still rules my laundry room and things I started before Christmas still aren't done. But instead of being anxious about things that won't matter in ten years, I am seeing how vital it is to enjoy making memories that will be precious for a lifetime. I still struggle with the ghost of June Cleaver, the phantom "perfect mother" who lives next door, and the tension of trying to keep a clean house while investing in the hearts of my children. But, each day that brings me closer to that perfect clean house also brings me closer to the empty house. And, just my older daughters "got big" somewhere along the way, all my children will leave home someday. If I can embrace the days, maybe the years won't fly by quite so fast.