Friday, December 31, 2010
Recently, my son took it to a whole new level. He built a digital camera out of legos. After snapping my picture, he turned his camera around and showed me the resulting image. The entire experience was basically an exercise in make-believe, but I played along. As convincing as my performance may have been to my son, inside, I was laughing. Who could have imagined, when I was a child, that children of the next generation would be building digital cameras out of legos and proudly showing their photos to anyone?! And how precious to see a child who can barely even talk asking to "see" the scenes captured by an older brother on a fake digital camera.
What an adventure it is to raise 21st Century kids!
To paint the scene, picture someone not quite two crying, a feverish four-year old boy jockeying for position on Daddy's lap, and five other kids trying to figure out where to plant themselves on the couch. Finally, we gave up on the baby, deciding to record for all history only those who were cooperating with the process. Then, a younger sister blocked her sibling's face with a glass of sparkling cider and that sibling hit the younger sister on the arm while everyone else tried to get out of the way. Tears and trauma ensued, all serenaded by the wails of a very unhappy toddler.
Finally, after addressing the behavior issues and the attitude issues and again quieting the baby, everyone was reassembled on the couch (minus the baby, who was on Mommy's lap). Before counting to three, I told everyone to plaster on fake smiles. Then, I snapped the picture. It actually turned out better than I would have expected, considering the circumstances. But, looking at the photo in the future, I won't see just the smiles on faces, I'll remember the sounds, the sorrow, and the chaos that preceded it knowing just how "happy" the experience really was.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Because we homeschool, we have the flexibility to refocus our studies depending on the time of year. So, during the holidays, we focus on home economics. We've been baking, making candy, and sewing, as well as working through budgets for gifts, figuring out how much has been spent and how much we have left, and taking extra time to read aloud as a family. It has been wonderful.
As I was describing our focus this month to a friend, I began to realize that I am beginning to reap some rewards from my years-long investing. Girls helped make Thanksgiving dinner, one of my girls regularly helps me out by making dinner (and she does a fantastic job), another girl cleaned out the refridgerator WITHOUT BEING ASKED! and organized the whole thing. And, my girls completely manage our laundry. At times the laundry room is being overtaken by Mt. Washmore or Mt. Foldmore, but still, the girls are doing the job. And they are doing it well.
There have been days when I thought I'd never get past wiping noses and changing diapers, when the words "What's for dinner?" filled me with dread, and when I didn't have the energy to even read. My days are still very full, but I'm beginning to see success, and I'm very encouraged. Best of all, I really enjoy spending time with my children! They are really turning into neat young people. So, I guess you could say I'm getting a good return on my investment. I'm certainly happy with it!
Friday, November 26, 2010
Instead of trying to complete all the assignments and check all the boxes in my teacher's guide while preparing Thanksgiving dinner for fourteen people, I decided to focus on enjoying my children and truly celebrating the holiday. Wednesday morning, we did math in the kitchen, measuring ingredients for pie crust. Wednesday afternoon, our science lesson included experimenting with what happens to hot liquid if you add corn starch to it while making cherry pie filling. We tried another version of the same experiement when we made apple pie (from scratch) and included corn starch - both fillings got thicker!
Thursday, we focused on home economics and turkey preparation. While I supervised, two of my daughters went through the steps to prepare turkeys for the roaster. We did two turkeys because of an economics lesson (it is cheaper to buy a smaller turkey when you already have one in the freezer) and a lesson in preparation (smaller turkeys thaw faster, which is helpful when Thanksgiving sneaks up on you) or what happens when you aren't prepared.
Both days were delightful. Everyone got in on the educational experiences - even my 22 month old daughter. She loved playing with the pie crust. My son reveled in his position as taste tester, though he would much rather of actually been a pie maker. While the turkeys cooked on Thursday, some kids played games with their papa while others watched a movie with their dad. It wasn't hectic, chaotic, or stressful. I relaxed (with my feet up!) and read the paper, getting a head start on my Black Friday shopping. And, when we sat down to the meal, I could honestly say that one of the most precious reasons I had to be thankful was my children. What a gift. This year, I am especially thankful for Thanksgiving, and the gentle reminder to be who God designed me to be.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Since we had the Suburban, we were able to accomplish most of our tasks with little or no interference from the weather. Not being a "weather" person myself, I wasn't watching the satellite radar all afternoon. I just knew it was cold. Fortunately, I didn't' need to be watching the satellite picture; my husband was. He began celebrating shortly after 4pm, when he showed me on the National Oceanography and Atmospheric Administration website (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/) the forecast for a blizzard. His comments have been over and over, (with great delight in his voice) "I've never been in a blizzard before!"
About 9pm, much to my husband's dismay, he noticed the moon shining through a break in the clouds. We hadn't had enough snow yet!! We were supposed to get inches, not just a dusting. Well, as I head to bed, it is snowing quite well outside, the moon is no longer visible, and my husband is almost as excited as a school boy on the first day of vacation. That is a very good thing. Let it snow!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Our son, four years old, isn't necessarily very good at putting down the toilet seat. He doesn't always remember to flush. He doesn't even hit the bowl every time he goes to the bathroom. But, this afternoon when the toilet roll as empty, he knew just what to do!! He replaced the roll!!
Now, if that isn't a reason to hang in there with parenting, I don't know what is. Tomorrow, when the toilet hasn't been flushed and the seat is up, again, and toys are strewn from one end of the house to the other, I'll still be able to remember that my son replaced the toilet paper all on his own.
My favorite parenting verse comes from Galatians, and says (in Marchauna's Revised Edition), "Do not grow weary in well doing, for in due time you will reap a harvest, if you do not lose heart." Today was a harvest reaping day!!
Monday, November 15, 2010
This morning was a particularly difficult morning. Though I awoke at 5:30am, I tossed and turned until after 7am, too tired to get out of bed any earlier. Then, before I could brew a cup of tea or even brush my teeth, girls were asking me to help them with homework, to check final assignments, and to sign off on papers for the co-op we're part of. Without enough time to even eat breakfast, and with full recognition of my failures, yet again, we headed off to school, late.
As God walked beside me through the challenges, He gently reminded me that His love is not dependent on my performance. With the fog clearing and my mind was not completely absorbed in my failures, God's Spirit whispered in my heart the words from Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me." ESV
Sinking into my heart, the words brought to mind a song from Steve Green's "Hide 'em in Your Heart" series. The song is basically Philippians 4:13 set to music. As I repeated that song over and over in my head, I didn't do "all things." Instead, it became easier to do what was needed; simply do the next thing.
It is true. With Jesus, I can do all things! I don't need to do them all at once. I will never be "super mom." But, I can do the most important thing. I can keep putting one foot after another.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
My only son, who turned four the beginning of October, has finally been given the privilege of chewing gum. It has been, in his mind, a very long journey that should have ended quite some time ago. In my mind, it is still a scary thought and one I'm not really ready for. In the end, my son is chewing gum.
As a result, we are, of course, once again going through the process of training a child the rules of chewing gum. If you have ever tried to instill into a child the rules of gum chewing, you know that one of the most important is keeping the gum in your mouth. In my experience, the best way to instill a respect for that rule is to take gum away when it comes out of a mouth. It is a technique that has worked quite well, until now.
After reluctantly giving my son a piece of sugar-free chewing gum, I noticed he was playing with it. He received a warning, then was instructed to put the gum in the garbage, which he did. Later, I noticed he was again chewing gum and playing with it. So, I told him to put it in the garbage, again, to which he replied, "But Mommy, I already put it in the garbage two times!"
Apparently, I needed to give my son further instructions. Not only was he supposed to put his gum in the garbage, but he needed to LEAVE IT THERE!! Obviously, I have a few lessons to learn about training boys. And, this experience has given a whole new perspective to the phrase "Already Been Chewed Gum!"
Monday, October 11, 2010
Today was very full, with co-op classes, a dentist appointment, a trip to the library, and a much needed stop at the grocery store. Out of absolute necessity, I found myself at the supermarket with all seven of my children.
The fun started in the parking lot. Before I'd been able to put my keys in my purse and get out of the car, three of my children had already run over to the shopping cart "keeper" and were climbing on it! They quickly responded to my call but before I could direct them to all put their hands on the cart, my youngest, who was sitting in a cart, was pushed across the lot to the next row of parking spots! Yikes; it didn't look good.
Over the years, I've learned a few things about navigating a supermarket with a bunch of kids. Today, it worked like a charm. Each kid had a different list (though not everyone wanted a list), they went and gathered their specific items, then reported back to me. It worked smoothly, except that we got stuck in the candy isle (oops) where the little ones kept up a constant chorus of "Can I have this? What about this? Please, Mommy, will you buy me this, please?" Even with the miscalculation in destination, we made it through the store in record time (30 minutes from start to finish), and without completely descimating my budget! It felt like a major victory, once I knew I had survived.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Well, I have proof that some of my training has at least begun to sink in. As you will see in a few minutes, however, a bit of additional instruction is needed.
Recently my son and his next older sister (who is almost exactly three years older) were playing in the living room. As normally happens, my precious six year old provoked her brother until he hit her. To hopefully discourage such behavior in the future, both children got in trouble.
As the three of us walked together into the kitchen for consequences to be administered, my son, who was in front, piped up. With pleading eyes and in a sweet, somewhat desperate though very sincere voice he said "Mommy. Mommy, wait...Ladies' first."
It was very difficult not to burst out laughing! The poor little guy was so sincere! And he really was trying to apply the lessons his mother had been teaching him. Something had sunk in. Obviously, however, we need to modify the training this future man has been receiving.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
But, amidst the tears and trauma, drama and disasters, one of my kids came and gave me a big hug. No reason - they just loved their mama and wanted me to know. Before that hug, I was in desperate need of a Calgon escape and might have considered letting my kids go join the circus. Afterwards, though, Calgon no longer needed to take me away, and no circus master was gonna have the opportunity to look twice at my kids! I was renewed by the power of a hug.
My husband knows the same power. He found me trying to dig out from under the clutter in the pantry. Knowing how frustrated I get with the pantry's tendancy towards breeding chaos, he smiled at me (he has a great smile) and called me to him, then wrapped me in a wonderfully relaxing, soothing, and nurturing hug. The craziness of the pantry suddenly didn't seem so overwhelming. Actually, all the problems of my day got smaller. All because of the power of a hug.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
None of the topics seemed terribly difficult. The basics of football are the same whether you are coaching grade school kids, or leading a team to the Super Bowl. Football is football. You can fill in the blank, but most tasks are really the same; every one has access to the same basic pool of information. Somehow, though, certain people excel, and others either get by, or crash and burn in failure.
So, what is the key? Honestly, I don't know. The conclusion I've drawn, however, is that rocket science (or brain surgery), are pretty straight forward. They may be complicated and difficult, but certain aspects can actually be easy. The anatomy and physiology of the brain are a constant, making it easy to know what or what not to do (like what you don't want to cut). Though I don't know for sure, I'm guessing that certain aspects of rocket science also contain constants. It is, after all, a science. If you mix the wrong compounds, the rocket won't get into space, but pieces of you might. And, if you don't have the math right(which is very exact), you will definitely be very sorry.
Parenting, on the other hand, or coaching (or leading in any situation, really), is much more of an art than a science. There are some basic truths, but how to apply them can be a huge mystery. So, the next time you think, "Well, how hard can this be? It isn't rocket science!" remember that while rocket science is difficult, it is a science. Life is not. It is much more difficult!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Homelessness is a hot topic. Many people have strong opinions on what the causes are and what should be done about "the problem." Most everyone in America has driven past a homeless beggar holding a sign, usually on a freeway on-ramp or off-ramp. And the problem seems to be getting worse.
We struggle with the question; should we give homeless people money, or not? If we do, how do we know they won't use it to buy drugs or alcohol? If we don't, how do we deal with that nagging voice in our head? A few years ago, the local news station did an investigative report on street beggars, revealing that they can actually make hundreds of dollars a day. So, do they really need the money or are we being scammed?!
Picture holding a precious baby in your arms. Now, picture that baby all grown up, hungry, cold, and alone in a very dangerous and hostile world, homeless. Is that a life you want for your children? Is it the life their mamas wanted for them?
The way I look at Scripture, the homeless are our neighbors. We're supposed to love them as we love ourselves, and I doubt anyone reading this blog would choose to be homeless and hungry if they had an option. How will you answer the question, "If I were homeless, how would I want to be treated?" For me, it means packing up my kids and driving down to the mission to devote some time to serve lunch with a smile and kind word. I don't know what it means to you, but my challenge to you is; think about it.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Tonight, as I was helping him get ready for bed, I noticed that my son had a certain faintly familiar aroma. It smelled vaguely like my husband's deodorant. When I asked my son if he'd used his daddy's deodorant, it was obvious that my question made no sense. So, I investigated.
Sure enough, my son's armpits smelled just like his daddy's deodorant! My son, though no where near old enough to need deodorant, had copied his daddy by putting it on. Obviously there is a little something lacking in the copying, because Daddy doesn't usually put deodorant on at night, but who pays attention to such things when you are only three?
It was so cute and I, of course, burst out laughing. My son responded appropriately, grinning and looking shy (like he does whenever he isn't sure what is going on but definitely likes the attention) but obviously pleased with himself and my response. I'm afraid I've created a monster; as the sixth of seven children, he'll do just about anything for attention! But, whatever happens, I'm pretty sure he'll smell good =>
Saturday, April 10, 2010
For everyone's first game, wouldn't you know, my husband was out of town. Three girls were playing soccer on different fields at different times. It required me to figure out how to be two places at the same time. The game start times were staggered, and two girls were playing on the same field, though at different times. If that wasn't bad enough, all three girls needed shin-guards.
So, I drove the first girl to the soccer field, dropping her off while I ran to the store to pick up shin guards. Unfortunately, the store was having a huge sale and the door we went through (normally the quietest part of the store) was crazy busy!! Wouldn't you know it!
Though slowed down a bit, we were able to get the shin guards, drive home, load the remaining children into our van, drop the youngest and oldest girls off at the second field, drive back to the first field, leave the last girl with her coach, catch a glimpse of the first girl running up and down the field before rushing back to the second field to watch the youngest girl chase up and down the field, though she didn't have a clue what she was doing.
In the end, my baptism into soccer mommyhood was actually not too bad. Everyone made it to their respective games on time, someone was at each game to watch children play (even if it wasn't necessarily me), and we didn't forget anyone anywhere. I think we've figured out a pretty good game plan for future Soccer Saturdays, and my kids had a fantastic time. In the final analysis, that is what truly matters.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Recently, we were in a situation where my daughter was in desperate pain. She didn't know for sure what she'd done or how, but she knew she was in pain. It just so happened we were away from home, out having fun with some friends. It also just so happened that one of our friends is a medical provider who has worked in family practice and knows how to treat backs.
But, remember, this young lady is 14 years old. So, of course, no one knows anything. All the advice we gave, all the ways we tried to help, all our attempts to get her comfortable were of no avail. She refused our suggestions, fought our efforts, resisted our attempts. I was so frustrated at that point that a comment I've heard before made total sense - I now understand why some creatures eat their own young.
Well, my daughter's back pain did not improve much between Saturday and today. So, we took her to the doctor. I was totally prepared to force her to cooperate with the doctor, based on my experience with her over the weekend. I didn't know what it would look like to force her, but she was going to listen to the doctor and do what he recommended.
Wouldn't you know it - I didn't have to force her at all!! She was very cooperative, even submissive and compliant. I was amazed. When I asked about it afterwards, expressing my surprise, do you know what she said?! She told me that "I knew you were right, but I didn't want to do what you said because I was afraid it would hurt." Then she said, "I knew you were paying for the doctor." Can you believe it? Even though she had a medical professional, who knows just as much as the doctor, telling her the same thing as her very own mother, she didn't listen to us because it didn't cost anyone anything!! Oh my goodness!
You know what will really be funny? When this 14 year old daughter grows up and has a 14 year old daughter of her own. She'll (hopefully) remember this experience when she is expressing her frustration. If she doesn't, I'll be sure to remind her.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
By God's grace, our neck of the woods is really a piece of Heaven on earth. We get to enjoy four seasons (you know; baseball season, fishing season, football season, and basketball season). Though we have some nasty creepy crawlies (like Brown Recluse and Black Widow spiders) and snakes out here aren't too friendly (the famed and feared rattlesnake doesn't want anyone to forget it was here first), in general, it is pretty safe. We don't have hurricanes or tornadoes, and we're fairly well protected from tsunamis in most places.
Over the course of our recent history, though, we've had a few exciting things. A volcano has blown its top. And, earthquakes have shaken our foundations a time or two. Never very seriously, but enough to say we'd been in an earthquake. Actually, I've been in at least two.
A couple of my daughters and I were actually very close to the epicenter of one during our recent visit with friends in Moses Lake, WA. It was pretty minor (3.2 on the richter scale), and we didn't even really feel it. All that really matters is the fact that it happened. One interesting piece of information the news cast left out, though. Just about the same time the earthquake was registering, a bunch of very exuberant little girls were running down the second floor hallway of a local hotel on their way back from playing in the pool. A coincidence? I don't think so!! And, for the purposes of discouraging such behavior in the future, this mom thinks the timing works out quite well. Next time my children think about running, I can warn them not to, they might cause an earthquake!
Monday, February 08, 2010
When my kids ride in a car, they ALWAYS ride in seat belts or approved boosters. I was even told one of my children needed to NOT be in a booster because she was too big. My one year old daughter still rides with her carseat facing backwards, because it is safer.
Every one of my children wear helmets when they ride their bikes or scooters, period. I used to have trouble with my husband. He'd make comments about how he never used a helmet when he was growing up. But, after a helmet saved the life of our third daughter, he was convinced.
Now, I've discovered just how powerful examples can be. Our three year old son has a very cool bike - it is a Tonka bike. Unfortunately, he doesn't get to ride it nearly as often as he would like to, because we live on a relatively busy street and I'm overprotective. But, I recently told him he could ride his bike on our walk.
After giving my little guy permission to ride his bike, I proceeded to finish getting my youngest daughter ready for our walk. In a few minutes, I called for my son, to let him know it was time to get his bike out. I couldn't find him ANYWHERE! I checked for him upstairs, downstairs, and in the back yard. He wasn't anywhere, but I did discover the garage door was open.
To my horror, I found my son riding his bike up and down the street!!
Though he'd never been shown how, my little three year old unlocked and opened the garage door all by himself, put his helmet on (backwards), and pulled his bike out of its assigned spot. All learned simply by watching the example of others.
It is easy to forget just how powerful our example is, and how much training is going on simply by the example we set.
I wish I always set good examples! I wish that I always made the right choice. Because I always see, in my children, the results of the example I've set. In this case, the example was good. I wish it always was.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Being the dutiful homeschooling mama that I am, it seemed appropriate, after reading a book on what to do if you catch fire, to practice. So, we did.
It was simple enough, so after reviewing the steps, we were ready. We milled about the room for a few moments, then I announced, "Oh no. You're on fire!" Immediately, everyone in the room stopped what they were doing, dropped to the ground, and proceeded to roll with great enthusiasm and giggling (it is, after all, quite entertaining to be rolling around on the ground pretending to be on fire). The problem was, we didn't roll the same direction.
You can imagine what happened; kids rolled into each other and into furniture. In just moments, pandemonium broke out! Two kids simultaneously burst into tears. Then the baby, sure something terrible was going on, added her shrill cry to the cacophany. How, I asked myself, could a lesson on safety go so wrong?
Then, almost as quickly as it began, the rucus was over. Cuddled in the safety of Mom's lap, with comforting arms around them, the three youngest kids were soon consoled.
It was a very memorable lesson, though I think I learned more than the kids. One thing for sure, the next time we practice safety techniques, I'll be sure to coordinate our response and clear the area of furniture!