December 26, 2007

New Quote of the Day-Motherhood

"To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. "

G.K. Chesterton

December 20, 2007

A Little Child Won't Be Leading Us!

Last night as Barrett and I sat and read some books together, I asked him a question.
"Barrett, if Christmas is Jesus' birthday, how come we get the presents?"

"Hmmm. I don't know, Mommy."
He thought about it for a moment and then said,
"Maybe because He likes to watch us open presents!"

I was pleased with that answer. At least it showed that Barrett thinks God takes pleasure in our joy. My momma pride was short lived, however. As I was studying Barrett's sweet little face and thinking about his answer, he was busy thinking of another question.

"Mommy, do you think God worships us on our birthdays?"

December 19, 2007

passing from life into Life

(Thanks to Rachel, I changed the name of this post....)

Yesterday morning I woke up and just couldn't get out of bed. Barrett was cuddling with me. It was still dark outside. I was toasty warm. I was comfortable. My shoulder didn't ache. My knees didn't hurt. My back didn't ache. I felt good.
I started thinking about what a great way that would be to die. Just to lay there, warm, cozy, and comfortable, until I leave this body.
That cheerful thought led me to imagining my men/boys around me as I go. What would they really say and do if I were leaving this body?

(I can't imagine leaving Barrett yet, so I'm going to leave him out of this.)

Mike would quietly, patiently sit by my side, praying for me and our sons.

Benjamin would say, "Mom, quit crying. We'll be there soon. Dying is just a part of living. Get over it..." And then he'd pick up the latest book he's reading on philosophy, one that would be way over my head on a good day, read it out loud to my shriveling brain cells, and literally bore me to death.

James would sweetly hold my hand and tell me stories about his day.

Alec would come up with some wild, sarcastic comments like, "Gee mom. You don't look half bad for a woman who's half dead!" I'd start laughing and get well.

What I hope they would do is this:

I'd like Mike to sit and quietly read the bible out loud to me.

I'd like James and Mike to come and serenade my going with their gentle, soft guitar playing.

Benjamin should come and preach truth to me. Seriously. I need it.

Alec can come and just be himself. He makes me laugh and laughing would be the perfect way to go.

I also want Mike to kiss me sweetly on the lips. (Provided I don't have something contagious.)

On most days Benjamin and James kiss me on the head as they rush out the door. I love and treasure those kisses and I hope I get some on my head as I leave them for a change..

And of course, I want Alec's hugs. They nurture the mom in me.

After all that, I want them to set up a card table in the corner and play cards. I love, love, love to listen to my guys tease each other and banter, pick on each other, preach at each other, laugh at and with each other, and talk together.

Yep. That would be the way to go.

December 17, 2007

Higher Ground

Toward the end of the summer a young man at our church started a group for young adults. It's called: Higher Ground. They meet every Friday night. Our 2 older sons love it and have gone almost every week. This group is treated like a secret meeting of the Masons, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, or the KKK. The group leaders have made it very clear that anyone younger than 18 or older than 29 is not welcome.
We've always been picky and very careful about who our kids hang out with, but as they've grown into adulthood we've "given them their wings" and let go. We try and remember that they're in the Lord's hands and "remind" Him that He needs to take care of them now. (I know, I know. HE doesn't need reminding!)
Anyway-as some of you may remember, I am a curious person. I was dying to know exactly who our sons were hanging out with and what they were up to. Did the kids they were hanging out with love the Lord? Were there strange initiation rights they had to go through in order to join? I won't go into detail, but my imagination worked overtime tormenting me with ideas about our sons' new friends.
(Just a side note-I'm not happy about being old enough to call people in their 20's "kids". But they are kids.....)
Anyway-earlier in the fall they finally decided to open the meeting up, for one evening, and allow parents to come see what Higher Ground is all about.
Needless to say, I went. I had a great time, and all my fears were put to rest. As a bonus prize, my son later told me that I was voted "Coolest Mom" after I'd left!
The "Kids" start out their meeting playing pool or ping pong, listening to loud, annoying, headache-giving music..Did I just say that? I mean inspiring, awesome, life changing music.
Later, they gather together and spend some time in worship. A little later they sit together and share prayer requests, talk, laugh, have an "announcement" time and then pray together.
Even later in the evening it's back to the indescribable music and more games and laughter.
I imagine they were on their best behavior because it was after all, "Parents' Night", but I was so impressed with every one of them. They were mature, they love the Lord, and it's easy to see that they all are "considering how to spur one another on toward love and good deeds."
(Hebrews 10:24)
By the way, it was easy peasy for me to win the "Coolest Mom" award. I was the only parent that showed up.

December 12, 2007

Better Than Chocolate?

Yesterday was a bad day. I won't bore you with all the details but I will tell you this:
it involved:

  • a stalker

  • conviction from the Lord about how enamored I am with my blog and myself

  • having to go to my husband's office party and make small talk, when basically I am a shy person and have no idea what to say to those people

  • the sudden realization that Christmas is only 14 days away and I've so far only sent 5 cards and haven't even thought about what to get some people, let alone finished crafting and shopping and baking.

  • my house is NOT clean, which proves that my post on housecleaning was a sham. Now everyone knows I'm a hypocrite.
In lieu of all that, I need some comfort. So.....I'm going to give myself "The I Gave Myself This Award Award."

And I'd like to thank Big Doofus and Misssniz for sharing it with me.
(Feel free to give yourself this award if you'd like to.)

December 11, 2007

A Guest Speaker

For language today I had Alec, (our 15yr old) write the same poem I posted yesterday. Hope you enjoy it!

Where I'm From
by Alec
I am from Computers,
from Vitamin D milk & Delicious Starbucks’ hot chocolate.
I am from the small cozy home with many chairs.
I am from the Spider plants and the apple tree.
I am from Thanksgiving feasts and Sarcasm,
from Mom and Dad and four grandparents.
I am from the Spontaneous and the Weird.
From “Hang you by your toes in the apple tree” and “Wash your hands!”
I am from God is there no matter what, Even when you sin.
I am from a little town in Indiana,
from Germans, Italians, Dutch and Norwegians.
From Long Conversations and Deep Discussions,
that are not always exciting.

December 10, 2007

Where Did That Come From?

I found the idea for the poem in the last post here:

If you try writing one, would you let me read it? :-)

Where I'm From

I am from sawdust under my dad's table-saw,
from Tang, and frozen pot pies.
I am from a quaint place called Sunnybrook Lodge:
the crick, tiny rental apartments, and wet snow falling on my hair as I wander at night.
I am from the mountains,
the pine trees,
wildflowers, and elk.
From ma's mostachioli & homemade bread,
pride and independence,
from Richters and Rinellas and 3 big brothers.
I'm from the people who have an answer for everything,
this too shall pass, and don't freeze your gee gee.
I'm from be careful how you pray, you might get what you ask for
and God helps those that help themselves.
I'm from Chicago, proud Italians
and stubborn Germans.
I'm from chocolate and gin & tonic,
a dad who liked to hunt and fish, fish and hunt,
and a mom who pushed on despite everything.
Her treasures were her children and grandchildren,
now scattered between heaven and earth. Her
family was priceless.

December 8, 2007

The Strong Willed Boy Part 4

A few weeks ago my son and I had a particularly bad week. We could hardly talk to each other without arguing. I started thinking about his 2 big brothers. We had never related to each other like that....I couldn't figure out what the difference was. (Other than the fact that no 2 kids are alike and therefore your relationship with each one is going to be different.) Then I realized that I'd been putting myself on his level and acting like a 15 year old instead of The Parent. My pride would be injured when he talked to me sarcastically or disrespectfully and I'd "react", talking to him in angry or sarcastic tones myself. This is something I see happening between Alec and our 6 year old all the time. Good grief!

So, I dug around in my memory and tried to figure out how I'd related to his 2 big brothers. In the first place I always tried to maintain my status as The Parent instead of a sibling. Disrespect was just not tolerated. However, because Alec is way more stubborn than his brothers it's sometimes hard to know how to handle this.

Here is what I'm trying right now.

First of all, I'm putting myself in his shoes. I see so many of my weaknesses handed down to that boy. Stubborn. Strong willed. Wanting control.

I'm also trying to remember what it was like to be 15. There is NO amount of money, scrapbooking supplies, or chocolate that could get me to go back to that time in my life. You are at your most vulnerable, in my opinion. Not only are you hormones going crazy, but you're becoming an adult and letting go of childhood. Alec is trying to figure out who he is, why he is, where he's going, and who his heroes are going to be. I see him trying to be like some of the guys he works with and his big brothers. I'm so very thankful he has those examples-the guys he works with and his 2 brothers all love the Lord and want to serve Him. We're very careful about who he spends time with and hangs out with. We want him to look "up" not "across" at someone his age who is just as vulnerable and confused as he is.

I can clearly see him analyzing everything we've taught him about the Lord, the bible, his relationship with God, and even God's love for him. Is it true? Do I want to go that route? Am I willing to give up my control and trust that God? Our prayers for him have increased tremendously, needless to say!

Second, I'm focusing on our hearts. What I mean by that is this. When the dr., midwife, or taxi cab driver put your baby in your arms for the first time, there were thousands of tiny strings tied between your heart and his. Every time you talk to your child in an angry, sarcastic, or patronizing way, you cut one of those strings. My mom raised me on guilt trips and reverse psychology. This did not create a very strong sense of trust in our relationship! Harshness closes a child's spirit. If you persist in that, after years of relating like that, all the kid will want to do is get away from you.

On the other hand, every time you encourage your child and build him up, you're tying more strings together between your hearts.

Right now, today, I am setting the tone for a relationship with Alec that will last the rest of our lives. I need to remember that. I'm trying to talk to him like the young man he is....this week, instead of reacting, I've been asking, "Sweetie, you seem really uptight. What's going on? Would you like to talk?" And you know what? We've been talking. It seems like he's trusting me a little more and is willing to be a little bit more open with me about the things he's thinking about.

I'm trying to focus on his strengths-I need to see what his gifts are and then tell him I see those things in his life. I want to build up his relationship with the Lord and show him what his abilities and gifts are and ways the Lord might use those later in Alec's life. It seems like my major focus is on his faults. I'm like a harpy, "Change, for crying out loud! Mature! Quit acting like that. Don't talk to me like that...." On and on. I wonder how he would finish the sentence,"My mom thinks I'm....". (At this point I'm afraid to ask him!)

One other thing I'm trying to remember is that the bible says children are like arrows in a quiver. I once heard a study on that. There is so much detail work that goes into making an arrow. It takes hard work and time to make sure the arrow will fly straight and true. To get the point sharp. If the feathers on the back are crooked or twisted the arrow will miss it's mark.

We're only given 18 years or so to perfect the arrows the Lord has placed in our quiver. I don't have time to jump in and act like a half-made arrow myself.

(Some of these ideas were passed on to us at our local home school convention a few years ago. I went to a parenting workshop given by David and Shirley Quine of Cornerstone Curriculum. Those two parents have been blessed with soooooo much wisdom!)

December 6, 2007

We Rented A House

For seven years we lived in a tiny duplex. As our family grew, so did our desire for a bigger home. Then an amazing thing happened. We were given the opportunity to rent a house. It wasn't just any house though. We had 3 growing boys and here's what the Lord blessed us with:

  • 23 acres of woods and a small meadow
  • a large front field full of long, wild grass
  • 3 acre pond
  • an apple tree in the front yard
  • berry bushes thrown in everywhere around the property
  • 2 row boats
  • ducks, geese, herons
  • fish to catch
  • turtles to catch
  • beaver to observe
  • microscopic creatures to study
  • ice skating
  • sledding
  • deer to watch
  • leaves, leaves, leaves to rake, jump in, and collect
  • nests, cocoons, insects, pine cones, seed pods, and acorns
  • bonfires and s'mores and hot dogs
  • antique bottles buried into the side of a hill to dig up
  • paths to chase each other through
  • a loooooonnnnnnnggggggg driveway to shovel in the winter
  • bird feeders with hundreds of birds to categorize
  • watching squirrels gather nuts
  • beautiful wildflowers surrounding the house
  • the house was large-HUGE living room with a fireplace, 3 large bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and large windows in every room

A couple special memories we have are:
  • watching the boys play "Lions in Africa" in the tall grass in the field in front of the house
  • playing Frisbee, volleyball and flying kites in the same front field
  • one Autumn we watched a squirrel frantically spend his days gathering nuts. He put them in an old hollow tree right outside our living room window. One morning we got up and a raccoon had moved into the food-filled tree. We never saw the poor squirrel again. (I'm sure there's a spiritual lesson in that somewhere.)
  • My mother-in-law came and spent a month with us shortly after we moved into that house. One morning, at the crack of dawn, I stumbled out into the living room to find her standing in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace, our 3 sons were with her. All 4 of them were still in their jammies and you know what they were doing? Giggling and roasting marshmallows, laughing, and talking!
  • Every spring we loved to watch the geese returning from the south. The pond would still have ice on it when they came. It was so fun to sit in our warm, cozy living room and watch them come in for a landing on the slippy half-melted ice. They'd slide and fall, and tip-toe around like drunken old sailors.
  • Except for the summer months, when it's hot and muggy out, Mike and I sleep with our bedroom window open. One morning, late in the fall, when it was still dark out, we woke up to the sounds of crunching and munching outside our bedroom window. We went to the front door and peeked out. There, under the apple tree, were 3 deer, feasting on the apples that had fallen on the ground. The really strange thing was this: one of our cats was out there with them, weaving around their legs and rubbing up against them as only cats do!
  • Every once in awhile the boys would find an enormous snapping turtle they just had to show me. To this day I have no idea how they would get the turtles into the row boat, but somehow they did. Benjamin, our oldest, would row the boat across the pond with James sitting behind him keeping a sharp lookout on the turtle. If the turtle tried to move toward the front of the boat James would whack at it with a stick.
  • Because the pond was "comma" shaped, I couldn't always see the boys when they were out in the boats. It's only natural that at times I'd be worried about them and want to make sure they hadn't drowned at the back end of the pond. So, good old mom would use her "football game whistle" to call them home, just to make sure they were still alive and well. After rowing and working and sweating their way back around the pond to the house they'd call out, "What mom?" "Oh, nothing. I just wanted to make sure you were OK."
  • Our youngest son was born in the living room of that house.

We've since moved on from that house.....the memories we have are priceless........

December 4, 2007

A Midlife Crisis Moment With jan

I'm tired. Very tired. I woke up this morning I think even more tired than when I went to bed.

We've lived in this house 4 years and for some reason our bathroom ceiling has started to mold.
Mike's checked the roof, no problems. He's gone into the attic-bone dry.

Saturday Barrett slipped while climbing around on his bed and fell. His head crashed into Alec's turtle aquarium and broke the glass. Thankfully Barrett just got a couple bumps on his head! However, their room now smells like a cross between wet, moldy carpet and poopy turtle water.

2 of our appliances are dying.

I used to be able to pay the boys 1 cent for every grey hair they plucked. If they pulled out my greys now I'd look like a mangy dog.

My skin is losing it's elasticity. When I pinch the skin on my hand it stays pinched.

Our house is so tiny we are literally going to have to put one of our livingroom chairs in the back of our van for a few weeks if we want to put up a Christmas tree.

Petty stuff, I know. I know.

How about this? In the last week we've seen all 3 of our older boys going through very hard, intense things. We've spent hours talking with a couple of them about their struggles. Mike and I both feel like Charlie Brown's teacher must've felt. We talk but the words just end up in their ears like, "Wawawawa wawaaa wawa......."
What's the point in going through hard things, and learning life lessons if even your kids won't listen to you?

I just finally have accepted the fact that parenting is like marriage. It's an "until death do us part" proposition.

The hard part is surrendering them to the Lord, like you have to do with your spouse. It's up to the Lord to teach them and take care of them. My problem is control. I want to solve their problems. I want to make them comfortable. I want them happy, not struggling.

Alec doesn't come by his stubborn, strong-will mysteriously. Surrender.

It's SO much easier to live with Barrett. With him all I have to worry about is if those gagging noises he's making while he eats his brussel sprouts are going to result in puking on the kitchen floor. Even that would be OK. The floor needs to be mopped anyway.

December 3, 2007

Help! It's Monday!

It's Monday. That's a very good reason to post something funny, isn't it? The start of another looonnnngggg week. I left this as a comment on another blog, but then decided to post it here too. Hope it gives you a little laugh as you start your week.
When our second son, James, was little, he couldn’t pronouce his “R’s”, so when he talked he sounded a lot like Elmer Fudd. The summer that he was 2 or 3 we attended a family reunion. One evening the entire family decided to go to Pizza Hut for dinner. Our son was seated at the end of the table in a high chair. Everyone was talking and laughing and ignoring the little guy when all of a sudden his voice bellows: “WHERE’S MY FORK AND KNIFE?!” Only it didn’t sound like that because of the “R” problem. It sounded like,“WHERE’S MY F****** KNIFE?!” Not only did our entire family stop and turn their heads, so did everyone else in the restaurant. I wanted to crawl under the table I was so embarrassed. Then suddenly the room burst into laughter. James is 19 now and is still to this day being teased about his "foul" mouth.