December 19, 2008

A Fun Meme

I woke up this morning feeling slightly more alert than usual. My brain normally takes about 3 hours to catch up with the rest of me once my feet hit the floor in the morning. However, I'm not awake enough to come up with any original ideas for a post-I had this idea set aside for a rainy day and since it's pouring, and my brain is only semi-alert, I thought I'd follow this meme I found at As A Parent, The Days Are Long.....

In your entire life, have you ever......

gone on a blind date? Yes, twice. Once when I was in high school I went out with a college student. He was already balding and he took me to the art museum. At the time those were two strikes against him. The next, and only other time I ventured into the world of blind dates I went out with a guy who was missing a few screws. He really gave me the creeps and boy howdy, was I happy when he dropped me off at my apartment. (I think my roommate set me up with him so she and her boyfriend could have our apartment to themselves for an evening.)

skipped school? Yes.

watched someone die ? Yes. I worked in a nursing home when I was 18. I was with one of the little grandmas when she died. I had to wash her body before the hospital staff could take it to the morgue. I also watched my mom die and was with my dad as he was dieing.

been to Canada? Yes, just once.

been to Mexico? No, but I peeked at it from across the border of New Mexico.

been to Florida? Yes, I actually spent an entire month there when I was 20.

been on a plane? More times than I can count....

been lost? Yes, but only one time was I really worried about it. I got lost in a nasty little area of London.

been on the opposite side of the country? Yes, up and down, east and west.

swam in the ocean? No. Does wadding count? I've done that...

had your booze taken away by the cops? No....

lettered in high school sport? Ha!

cried yourself to sleep? Definitely...

played cops and robbers? Not that I remember....

played dolls? Oh yes. That was my most favorite thing to play.

sung Karaoke? Are you kidding me?

done something you told yourself you wouldn't? More times than I can count.

cheated on an exam? Well, to be honest, yes.

made prank phone calls? Yep.

laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose? Only once or twice.

caught a snowflake on your tongue? Yes....

danced in the rain? No....but I've played in the rain and splashed in the mud with our sons.

written a letter to Santa Clause? not that I can remember

watched the sunrise with someone you care about? Oh yes....

been kissed under the mistletoe? Yes, but they weren't romantic kisses.

Ever been arrested? Nope....

blown bubbles? Yes....

gone ice-skating? Yes. Many times.

been skinny dipping outdoors? Another "Ha!"

had a nickname? Nutley and Jude

been to Africa? No....

eaten cookies for dinner? No, but I have 2 every morning with my coffee.

been on TV? Only if home movies count.

been in a car accident? Yes, but I was so young I don't remember them.

What is your Mother's name? Juanita Esther. How's that for a girl who was 100% German?

favorite drink? water

favorite alcohol? Well, when I was 9 or 10 my brother Jimmy used to take me to the bar with him so he could hang out with his friends and play pool. He would buy a Tequila Sunrise and plop me on a bar stool in front of it while he played. Is there a ten year old on the planet who wouldn't want to taste something so pretty? I loved them! Now the only alcohol I like is pink champagne.

birthplace? the windy city. (Chicago)

favorite vacation spot? road trips with my husband

favorite salad dressing? balsamic vinegar and olive oil

favorite pie? Apple or Derby. Derby pie is just a pecan pie with chocolate chips thrown in. It's so good I never make it because, well, I'd eat it.

favorite number? 18 or 22

favorite movie? A&E's version of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Master and Commander, Lord of the Rings Trilogy....probably others I can't think of right now

favorite holiday? Thanksgiving

favorite food? depends on the day but I do have an emotional attachment to Pizza Hut pizza

favorite day of the week? Monday

favorite brand of body wash? Prairieland Herbs Sugar Scrub-Rosemary and Mint. (Thank you sooooo much Rachel!)

favorite toothpaste? Crest

favorite smell? Baking bread, new babies, rain, mint, eucalyptus, patchouli, lavender, brownies baking, etc.

Do you have any tattoos? Ha!

body piercings? Only ears.

Do you drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? 4-door.

What do you do to relax? Read, blog, walk, hike, coffee with friends

How do you see yourself in 10 years? That's a gloomy picture. Our youngest son will be 17 and I'll be looking at a truly empty nest. I'm not going to go into all that right now.

December 15, 2008

We Should've Known Right Then and There

One afternoon, when my firstborn son was four, he climbed up onto my lap for some cuddle time. He was silent for a long time and I wondered what little thoughts were floating around in his head.

Is he thinking about the dinosaur book we'd just read? Maybe he's wondering what kind of snack he'd like? I bet he's wondering where his favorite plastic pony is....

Suddenly he took a deep breath and looked at me,
"Mommy, if I would've been born god, would you have named me Benjamin David God?"

November 18, 2008

One Thing

There are things that stir my soul....watching children, even children I don't know, perform in an orchestra, a play, or ballet moves me to tears every single time. Even if it's a "happy" performance.
People weeping cause my heart to bleed.
Once in awhile I've seen my husband put his elbows on the table and bury his face in his hands in complete weariness and hopelessness. That breaks my heart.
When I look at my sons and see stubble on their chins and exhaustion in their eyes I feel indescribable pain.

However, there is one thing that connects my heart to Jesus' heart in a way that nothing else does. Violin music.

When I hear a violin being played I melt inside. Have you seen the movie Anne of Green Gables? The long version that I think was made for PBS? Do you remember the scene where Anne and Myrilla are talking about prayer? Myrilla wants Anne to get down on her knees and say a bedtime prayer and Anne replies sort-of like this: "If I were to really pray, I would go out into a meadow, look up into the sky, and just feel a prayer."

That is what violin music does to my soul. I stop inside and just am. My heart is peeled back before Jesus, nothing hidden. I allow Him to look, dissect, instruct, hug, exhort or encourage me. Whatever He thinks I need. It's all there for Him to see anytime, but violin music causes me to willingly lay down before Him and expose it all. All my need. All my ugliness. All my desires. I literally feel a prayer to Him and weep before Him.

Is there anything that stirs your soul? That moves you to complete abandonment before your maker?

November 13, 2008

Not Again!

Well, I really need to hire an I.T. guy. Or at least a 9 year old to come over anytime I want to work on the computer.
I was trying to set up a new blog just for recipes and once again, I deleted the "About Me" from this one.
Anybody wanna write one for me? :-)

I will try and come up with something soon. This time I will print out what I say so I don't have to try and write it a 4th time!

While I'm here I have a question for any regular readers I may have. I've been thinking about changing the flavor or tone of this blog. I have some ideas I may or may not try. But I was wondering if anyone has any special requests? Anything you'd like to see this blog focus on? What have been your favorite posts? Which posts could you live without?
I have a family to feed so I better get busy-I hope you have a lovely evening!

November 9, 2008

Jesus' Saving Grace

Along with "Salvation" as in "Eternal Life", here's a list of 11 things Jesus has either saved me from, or is the processing of saving me from:
(Just in case you're interested)

1. bitterness

2. not respecting my husband

3. gluttony

4. death by drowning in the Colorado River and death from an ectopic pregnancy

5. idolatry

6. temporary insanity and panic attacks

7. self-pity

8. fear

9. a very strong will that demanded my own way

10. feelings of purposelessness

11. not seeing the importance of being in the Word every single day

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Phil. 1:6

November 3, 2008

The Simple Woman Daybook

Outside My Window it is dark. The sun isn't even thinking about getting up yet.
I am thinking about Being Still. Resting in Him. The Lord keeps whispering those words to me...
I am thankful for so very many things. One of the most special blessings of my week was attending a wedding on Saturday evening. It was the first time in my life I've ever danced "in public". That wasn't the special part though. The special part was being able to dance with our 2 oldest sons. It's a memory I'll treasure until I'm old and senile and can't remember their names anymore.
From the kitchen: I need to make granola and another batch of apple butter today.
I am wearing a pair of flannel pj's, a navy blue hoodie and a pair of slippers.
I am creating...nothing at present. I have several projects half started: a quilt for my youngest son, an advent calendar, and 3 scrapbooks. I really need to get busy!
I am going to stay home today and try and scratch off a few things on my to-do list. The problem with that list is that the very second I scratch one thing off, two more things magically appear down at the bottom of it.
I am reading Colossians and A Resilient Life
I am hoping our youngest son is still sick. Don't take that wrong. His piano teacher is supposed to come for a lesson today and he hasn't practiced all week. I didn't know I'd be learning piano with him when we took this on, but I am. I have to sit with him through every lesson and then make sure he practices every day. I was lazy last week and didn't do it and now she's coming. Agh! However, if he's sick, I'll have 7 extra days to help him practice before his next lesson....
I am hearing water splashing around in our aquarium, the hum of the computer, and the keys clicking on the keyboard.
Around the house...there are closets that need organizing, furniture that needs dusting, lesson plans that need to be worked on, etc.
One of my favorite things is getting up while it's still dark outside and the house is quiet. It's the only time I get to be alone and think uninterrupted thoughts. I do wish someone would refill that aquarium though. The splashing water is distracting...
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Other than the obvious things like cleaning, laundry, cooking, teaching school, ironing, planning a menu, and cleaning out the freezer, I want to help Barrett redo the bulletin board in our kitchen with a "Thanksgiving" theme. I also want to bake something "appley". We have a lot of apples that need to be used before they rot.

Last week I took a day off and went hiking with our 2 younger sons. Just the 3 of us. It was a wonderful day! The weather was perfect for hiking, the leaves were all changing and the colors were brilliant. We laughed and hiked and relaxed and talked. It was so refreshing! Here's just one of the many pictures my son took during the day:

Stop by The Simple Woman if you'd like to participate in the Simple Woman's Daybook.
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October 28, 2008


My mother-in-law was a wonderful person. Funny. Happy. Energetic. Creative. Ellen was just about the best mother-in-law a girl could ask for and I'm going to miss her. I miss her already.
She's the one I called when I ran over and killed my husband's dog.

"Ellen," I sobbed. "I just killed Mike's dog!" sniff, sniff.
"What do you think I should do? Should I call him now, while he's at work, so he has time to think about it before he gets home? Or should I wait until he gets home so I don't ruin his day?"

No matter what, she was always there for us. When we had financial disasters, she would mail a check. When we had sick kids, she would send little care packages to them and offer "doctorly" advice over the phone. If I happened to mention I was sick of cooking, she would surprise us with a check in the mail so we could order a pizza.

The most important thing she taught me was to slow down and enjoy my children. She never seemed to be too busy when she had little children around her. Ellen would simply drop everything to do a project with our sons, or read a story, or make a tooth decaying snack for them. She would play games with them, or paint, or just sit and listen when they wanted to chatter. Grandma just knew how to relax and have fun with kids....

What always amazed me was the way she could spend so much time with them and still cook a huge meal, keep her house spotless, the laundry done and her groceries bought. In a word, that woman was organized!

One spring she gave up a month of her life to come spend it with us. I can't remember exactly how old our sons were, but I think they were close to being 3, 7 and 9.

Anyway-one morning I woke up and thought I heard whispers and giggling coming from somewhere in the house. It was still pitch black outside and I was sure the boys were still asleep. I threw my bathrobe and slippers on and crept out into the living room, where I thought the giggling had come from.

Sure enough, I had heard the joyful sound of giggles. As I stumbled into the living room I saw our 3 sons standing in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace. Next to them stood Grandma. She was wearing a Daffy Duck nightgown, roasting marshmallows with them in the pre-dawn darkness.

Marshmallows for breakfast? No wonder they'd been whispering.

October 22, 2008

Wild Times While the Parents are Gone

All I can say is, mom will never leave her poor child under the protection of a particular brother again... 

Just turn your head sideways. I have neither the time nor the inclination to figure out how to reformat it :)

Judy's Firstborn Child and Joy of Her Life

PS Welcome home mom! I love you!

October 5, 2008

A Guest Speaker

Well, I sat down this evening to write a post using the Simple Woman Daybook idea. I obviously didn't get very far. My 7 year old son wanted to write his very own blog post. He plopped his little bottom down on my lap, adjusted his fingers over the keyboard, and began typing. Maybe I'll come back later and try again. In the meantime, here are the household observations of a 7 year old:

Outside My Window...a bunny is eating the apple peels mama threw out there for them to eat.
I am thinking... how do I write this post?
I am thankful for... mama
From the kitchen... I wish mama would make another cake.
I am wearing... a blue t-shirt and some shorts
I am eat some popcorn tonight
I am reading...Schoolroom in the Parlor
I am hoping... to get a new Lego set soon.
I am hearing... mama
Around the house...Daddy is making a green smoothie.
One of my favorite things...mama
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: I want to sew a pumpkin pillow out of orange felt and paint a pumpkin on a paper plate.

October 2, 2008

Happy 7th Birthday Sweetness!

Boring? Never!
Always curious
Raring to go
Ever busy
Totally wonderful


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September 26, 2008

A Riddle For You

What do you get when you cross a not-so-young-anymore woman with a computer?

A deleted "about me" on her blog and her "Mom" & "Barrett" files gone, completely and totally from the email section of our computer.
That means: all my favorite recipes
cleaning recipes
craft ideas for Barrett
school websites
emails I needed to reply to

They are all gone. I even had a website saved that I was going to tell you about that talks about how to turn your blog into a book. It's gone too.

I'm not interested in trying to write a new "about me" thingy right now. At some point in the near future I'll try and come up with something.
That is, if my brain ever returns from where it went. One good thing about losing your brain to middle age, it isn't painful. In fact, I'm almost giddy.
Can you hear me singing?
Kay Sera, Sera. Whatever will be, will be. I do wish my files I'd see. Kay Sera, Sera...

September 21, 2008

I Love You

Jimmy turned 12 just a few days before I made my entrance into the world. He was a wonderful big brother. Patient, sweet, quiet, gentle, a good listener. I felt safe with him. So unconditionally accepted. He would cheerfully give up other things to stay home and babysit his little sister.

I have very few concrete memories of him. I know he had curly hair and I think he had green eyes. He wasn't a very big person, at least on the outside. His heart and mind were of the deep and pondering sort. He loved to read and think and reflect. Even as a small girl those qualities made Jimmy huge to me.

My parents divorced when I was 7. I lost a lot of things when that happened. Our "family" was gone. Our traditions. Our closeness. Our laughter....
My dad remarried and started a new family.
In some ways my mom was gone too. She seemed to crawl inside herself to find safety.
We moved to Colorado shortly after The Divorce. So, there went my home, my friends, my school, the familiar neighborhood.
I was a "freak", (not the hippy-kind, just strange) when we settled out west. I was the only child whose parents were divorced. I actually had things called "half-brothers" and "step-brothers". I was the first one around to be a latch-key child. The kids in school had no clue what to do with me.

For a brief time, around this time, Jimmy was in the navy. When it was over, he too joined the ranks of lost people, searching for hope and purpose in LSD, marijuana and I-don't-know-what-all-else because I was thankfully too young to follow that trail.

Sometimes Jimmy would show up for a visit. Every time he came he would bring me a present. One time he brought a chess set and then sat with me every evening trying to teach me how to play. During another visit he brought a huge handful of plastic bead necklaces he'd picked up at a mardi gras parade in New Orleans. Once he arrived with a beautiful music box that made me feel grown-up and pretty.
I think the gift I really liked, more than all the others, was a book called The Phantom Tollbooth.

I still remember the moment he gave it to me. He had just arrived home and as he walked in the door he grinned and said, "Hey Jude! Here. I brought you a book. Where's Ma?" And that was that. It was said very casually, but the look and the book said, "I love you. There's more to life than what you're experiencing right now. Some of it is in the world of books..." That story, and the fact that Jimmy gave it to me, somehow made me feel like "Life does go on. It will be OK."

I was such a mess at the time. My heart was full of confusion, anger, bitterness, loneliness, and rejection. Jimmy didn't know Jesus. He was confused, lonely and angry too. But he never projected those things onto me. He loved me unconditionally and like I said before, I felt safe with him. I was not a "freak" to Jimmy. I was his little sister and he accepted me for where I was at and who I was.

Jimmy came for one of his fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants visits when I was 12. He stayed with my mom and me for a week or two and then left. I don't remember saying goodbye. I don't remember our final hug or watching him ride off on his Harley. I just remember a few months later the phone rang. The police in Florida were calling my mom to tell her Jimmy was dead. He'd been in an accident with a drunk driver.

That moment obviously changed my life once again. I learned that not only do people divorce, move away, run away, start new lives...sometimes they just Go Away and Never. Come. Back.

For years and years I wished I could remember my final words to Jimmy. Did I ever thank him for the gifts He'd brought me? The little presents that had told me his heart had carried his little sister with him wherever he'd gone? Did he know how much I adored him? Did he die knowing I felt safe when he was with me? As he'd walked out the door that final time, had I shouted, " I love you Jimmy!"?

I have no idea whether my brother came to know and love Jesus before he died. My heart hurts whenever I think about it. Just because he was a "good" person, and a wonderful big brother does not mean his salvation was secure.

One thing I do know is that I have a different perspective on scripture than others might. Is it any wonder God tells us to make things right with people immediately?
To forgive an offense this minute? It's not strange that He tells us to love others from the heart because love covers a multitude of sins.

I think He tells us those things because He is a Holy God. He is pure, and perfect and just.

However, I also think He tells us those things because He alone knows how many more minutes our friends and loved ones are going to walk the earth. He knows our hearts and He knows the regret we would feel if someone should walk out the door, never to return, carrying our anger. Carrying our resentment or perhaps a wound we inflicted. He knows the heartache we would feel if the words, "I love you" went unsaid and we had to carry that memory to our own End.

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion...
Psalm 116:5

September 14, 2008

Two Bits

A quick glance at my profile will tell you that I have 4 sons. When they were little we did what most parents do and potty-trained them. To the best of my knowledge, they are still potty-trained.

So as not to embarrass any of them, the protagonist in this story shall remain anonymous. (See Alex, I know one or two 4 syllable words!) (More than likely I'm using "protagonist" incorrectly, but it's the thought that counts, right?)

Anyway-when we were in the trenches of potty-training one of them, we tried a number of tricks to get "him" to "perform". We tried leaving some good books in the bathroom. Not tempting enough. We tried peanuts as a bribe. He laughed. Raisins got a snort. Finally, in desperation I caved and bought some M & M's. Wow! What a difference! That kid had to go every few minutes! He loved those M & M's.

After he had mastered #1, we moved on to #2. #2 warranted two M & M's every time he went. I've never seen anyone able to go on demand before, but this kid was able to figure it out just so he could increase his sugar intake.

One afternoon I was busy doing whatever it is a mom does, when my little guy came running. He was thrilled about something.

"Mommy! I pooped two bits! A big bit and a little bit!"

August 27, 2008

Little Green Drinks

I promise I'll be back soon with some "real" posts. My brain is almost up and running again.
My last post generated some fun comments between my son and one of his friends. She knows all 4 of our kids and tried to come up with what they might say to me after listening to me whine about my minor ailments:

Benjamin-bonics: It is my most fervent wish that you have reached a higher level of comfort and self-confidence in the area of personal well-being and appearance. Remember, beauty is subjective, and therefore, even if you feel as if you look unattractive, you may radiate a completely different essence.

James-bonics: Whassup, Moma? Is yo eye pickin' up what you puttin down?

Alec-bonics: Hope you're feelin' good! (maybe I should take a break off those shakes, too-just in case I might have a reaction like you.)

Barrett-bonics: Why is your eye like that, Mommy? Will it always be that way? Why isn't mine like that?

Alex hit the nail on the head with 3 of them. I wasn't so sure about the "James-bonics". So, this morning I asked him, as my one and only inner-city son, what he would say to my previous post. Here's his reply:

Momma, don’t be frontin’, them little green drinks be triflin’ and ya’ll tripping if ya’ll keeps drinkin’ them down jo throat!

Anybody care to guess what on earth that means?! (I guess I live a very sheltered life.)

Figure it out yet?

OK-here's the translation:
Mom, don’t try to make it look better than it is, those smoothies are gross and you’re crazy if you keep drinking them.

Your son.

I don't think I'd make it 5 minutes working with inner-city youth. He obviously has a calling.

August 24, 2008

Turning Over A New Oreo

I know when I'm beat, and I'm beat. When did I write that post about Green Drinks?
A week ago?
Well, I'm going to wave the white flag. I'm going back to scones. I'm going back to Starbucks. Hello meat, cheese, frozen pizza and Oreos! I am giving up The Color Green.

I woke up last Monday morning with a cold, two weeks AFTER I started drinking the green drinks. I literally cannot remember the last time I had a cold. We've had gross, icky flu bugs hurling their way through this house and I didn't get sick, and that was when all our kids still lived here!

Not only did I catch a cold, but it's taking its nasty little time leaving too. Our two younger sons caught it and sweetly passed it on to me, then they proceeded to get well. I'm not. I'm still stuffy, dizzy, and obviously whiny.

As if that weren't enough, I've now developed a strange rash under my chin. Little red, swollen dots all over that itch like the dickens and keep spreading.

Then, this afternoon, I made my Green Goo as usual. As soon as I finished it my throat started feeling all raw and scratchy. No, I don't think that's cold related. I've already passed past that part of the cold.

Now for the icing on the cake. Or should I say the Puff on the cream? When I woke up this morning I noticed my left eye was slightly swollen. As the day has progressed it's become fatter and fatter. The sun is getting ready to set and I can hardly hold my eye open!

So, now I'm a scratchy-throated, itchy-necked, stuffed-up-nose Eyegor.

I really don't think I'll give them up. After I drank my Green Goo I perked up-I had the energy to sit here and complain.

(In all seriousness, I think I must be allergic to one of the greens. I am going to quit for a few days, hide in my little house, let my throat, eye, and neck re-group and then slowly introduce one green at a time back into my diet. Hopefully I'll be able to pinpoint the culprit.)

August 16, 2008

Quote of the Day

Here's a quote from Edward Espe Brown, who wrote the Tassajara Bread Book:

"It seems such a shame that as a culture we don't teach our children about the basic things in life -- bread making, gardening, sewing -- and the value of work. At some point, all these things got to be beneath our dignity. If you can't work with your hands, you lose the richness of your life and the sense of being productive.''

August 11, 2008

Little House on the Prairie

A few weeks ago I went to a friend's house for what she called "Little House on the Prairie Day".
What, you ask, is that?
Well, since you asked, I'll tell you.

It was a day designed for females of all ages to get together for fellowship and learning, laughter and sharing.

About 2 months ago my friend sent an email to a gazillion women inviting them to her house for a day of teaching and learning. The day started at 9:00A.M. and went until approximately 4:30P.M. We started with a little free time so we could visit and meet new people, then at 9:30 we prayed and began the day.

Basically this is what the day was like:
There were approximately 21 women there and 35 children. Anyone could teach a "class", but if you didn't feel comfortable teaching you could just sit and learn. (That was my personal choice.)
These are just some of the classes that were taught:

-How to make goat cheese and yogurt
-How to bake your own bread/rolls
-How to plan a menu and why
-How to make a plantain tincture
-How to make English muffins
-Jewelry making
-A short lesson on herbs and their healing power

Each person that taught a class was given approximately 30-45 minutes to teach. Then we had a ten minute break before the next class began. Because there were so many people there and so many great teachers, we didn't really break for lunch. We just ate lunch quietly while we listened to one of the teachers.

It was a great day, and actually has been life changing for our family. (I'll write about that another day.)

I wanted to tell you about this special day because I could see it being the start of something wonderful. We don't sit on our front porches and visit with the neighbors anymore-thereby perhaps missing out on learning something new. Most people I know don't live down the road from Granny and therefore can't learn from her wisdom and experience.

We all bumble along in our own private, hurried bubbles; lonely perhaps, exhausted, stressed, wanting some advice on how to?....

This was a great way to slow down a little, fellowship, and ask and learn.

I've been thinking about some other ways you could use a day like this:

-Have a day called "Frugal Living". You could share the ways you've learned to stretch the not-so-almighty-anymore dollar in order to make your ends meet.

-Have an Empty Nest Tea where women can gather who are in the middle of the nest emptying, know the nest will be emptying soon, or already have an empty nest. I found a great book about the empty nest that has been a huge comfort and help. I just may make it after all!
However, it would be wonderful to sit with other women and laugh and cry and share face to face what this time of life is like and how to make it through with joy.

-Have a recipe swap. I'm always on the lookout for new recipes that are tried and true. It would be fun to sit with other women and share recipe and cooking tips.

-Or, you could just throw structure to the wind and have a "Little House on the Prairie Day". Just let whoever teach whatever and learn whatever. You may be surprised, as I was, what the Lord wants to bring into your life.

August 5, 2008

As You Begin

This one is for parents.
Especially parents who are fairly new to home schooling. I know a lot of our sons' friends stop by here and none of them are parents yet-maybe you can just take notes for future reference? :-)

Anyway...last week I spent a few minutes, (Ha!) reflecting on our lives and our home school experience to date. I was able to visit with a young mom who is just getting ready to start her first year of home schooling. Whew! I'm glad I'm not in her shoes! :-)
However, as I listened to her talk, and saw how excited and nervous she was, I was reminded of how I felt 17 years ago.

I was terrified. I was well aware that our son's entire life was in "my" hands and his education depended on "me". I wish someone would've come along side me and told me this:

Relax. It truly is the Lord who is in control. He loves your kids and has a plan for each of their lives. He can use your mistakes, your baggage, your impatience, and your ignorance to turn your kids into everything He wants them to be. You are one tool, not the carpenter.

I've said it before, but our sons were able to learn what they needed to learn each year under some pretty amazing circumstances: deaths in the family, moving, illness, a wild and woolly little brother, etc. We've seen the Lord fill in the gaps over and over again as we've plugged along doing what we could.

Focus on building a relationship with your children while they're young. Academics are cyclical-if they don't get it this year, they will next year or when they're in Junior High or even High School. To me, academics are the small stuff. Right now you need to be teaching your kids that they are loved, no matter what. Work on building a friendship with them. Of course you are the parent, but you can find ways to be a friend as well. If they know you love them unconditionally, they will trust you when you tell them Jesus loves them even more than you do. That will enable them to trust Him when the time comes and they're grown. And, once you build a solid foundation of friendship, love, and trust with your kids, you can really hit them with the books: Algebra, chemistry, biology, poetry, Shakespeare....

August 3, 2008

24 Years and Counting

On August 4, 1984 two kids got married. Here's their story to date:

We are from New Mexico and Chicago
meeting in the middle;
from a girl afraid of marriage
and a very patient boy.

We’re from “I am afraid to trust.”
and “I. Won’t. Leave. You.”
From "Don't trust men." and
"When your husband buys new underwear it means he's having an affair."

We are from years of pulling hard to make ends meet
and at least 2 babies waiting for us in heaven.
(Are they our daughters?)
From a girl who couldn’t cook,
furniture lovingly built by a patient man,
and whisker-roughened kisses on my not-so-whiskered cheeks.

We’re from a house full of boys, camo, dirt, sweat, and noise;
from gallons of Tide Laundry Soap,
mountains of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,
and Haines socks X 5.
We've lived through financial stresses,
a concussion, car problems,
emergency surgery, stitches, strange and numerous pets,
and 4 pregnancies.

We’re from fishing trips on hot, sweaty days,
camping trips where we thought we’d freeze to death
and hiking nearly every weekend every fall.

There are few traditions in our household
but love and laughter
still bounce around the rooms.

We are from
wrestling with daddy and hugging mom;
from a man who taught his sons to be gentle with
the only female in the house
and to treat her with respect.

We're from wondering if we've put too much into "them"
and not enough into "us".
By God's grace we've survived and our marriage has thrived.
I've had to learn how to respect him and he's learned to listen:
She doesn't always want things fixed?

We are from mistakes, bumbling along, prayer,
forgiveness, and determination.
The road has been filled with all the usual stuff:
joys, heartaches, stress, weariness, surprises, and
blessings beyond count.

Even though at times we drive each other crazy,
we're happy to be stuck with each other.

(This is my 3rd or 4th "Where I'm From" poem. See the December 10,2007 post if you're interested in trying one for yourself. For some reason I cannot remember how to "link" tonight and I'm too tired to try and figure it out.:-) )

July 23, 2008


I love to blog. I love to read other blogs. The whole blogging world is amazing to me. I've often thought about the loneliness of being a stay-at-home mom and have experienced my fair share of lonely days. Blogging allows us to "meet" other people who feel as we do, think as we think, have the same desires and struggles...It also opens up new worlds for us as we run across people who are our polar opposites. Sometimes I've been disgusted by what I've found out there. More often though, I've just realized how very tiny my thinking and my world is.
I've hardly thought about this blog all summer. I put it "away" with our school books. I want to write and share thoughts and ideas and my faith with others, but have really struggled all summer with the feeling that I'm not very articulate. My heart is full but I just can't seem to get those things onto "paper" as clearly as I'd like to. As I've spent time reading other blogs this summer that feeling has only grown. There are so many people out there who are deeper than I am. Wiser. More precise. They can share their feelings and faith in ways that I can only dream of. No, I don't think I'm having a pity party...I've just been wondering why I'm "here" in space. Should Midsummer Meanderings continue? (Please don't answer that question. I'm just babbling to myself!) There are so many other people who can say what I'd like to say-it seems like they can take the words right out of my mouth, perfect them and then blog them.
Anyway-while I'm pondering the future of this blog, I thought I'd share some links with you. I found all of these this morning. After you read them, I'd love to hear your thoughts on any or all of them! scroll down to the post called: "Have It Your Way".

July 15, 2008

How Do You Find A Wife?

Last week our 6 year old son made a pot holder for one of his big brothers. When he finished making the pot holder he handed it to me and asked me if I thought Benjamin (his big brother) would like it. The following conversation took place, and yes, everything our little guy said was said in all seriousness:

"Mommy, does Benjamin have a wife yet?"

"No, he lives in a house with a friend of his. I'm sure they'll both love the pot holder and will use it though."

"Well, should I make a pot holder for James?" (That's another big brother)

"Sure. James lives with another family now, but maybe they'll use it or let James use it in their kitchen."

"O.K. Um, Mommy? does James have a wife?"

"No...but he's looking for one."

"Well, how do you find a wife?! Is he walking down the street yelling for one?"

"No....not exactly..."

"Oh! Is he looking in the phone book and calling all the numbers in there?"


"Well, how do you find a wife? Is he going door to door knocking on all of them asking for a wife?!"

"No, I don't think so..."

"Well then, how do you find one?"

He finally paused long enough in his questions for me to answer him. I told him first of all you should pray for the right wife. Then you just live you life. You go where you go and do what you do and then usually there will be a girl who comes along who likes to go to the same places you do or likes to do the same things you do. You become friends and then maybe later she'll become your wife.
He looked at me doubtfully and just wandered away. Maybe he thought one of his ideas would get faster results.

July 10, 2008

L.A. Or The Bahamas?

Imagine you're sitting in your car during rush hour traffic in L.A. (Don't close your eyes to imagine this or you won't be able to read the post...just imagine while you read.)
O.K. Back to your car during rush hour. For some crazy reason your radio is stuck on "On". Not only that, but the station you're stuck listening to is a talk show. The host speaks in a hurried, shrill voice. She's whining, complaining, criticizing and seems full of anger over world events, rising food and gas prices, and her annoying husband and children.
As if all that weren't bad enough, the temperature outside your non-moving vehicle has risen to 93 degrees and the humidity is high. Suddenly your air-conditioner decides to quit. You sit there, stuck. You have no choice but to listen to the shrill commentator as she babbles on and on while sweat trickles down your back. You're stressed because you know you have to stop at the dry cleaners on the way home, then pick up something for dinner, and money is tight. You begin to understand how the talk show host feels. She's right. The world stinks. My kids are hopeless. How on earth are we going to make our ends meet this year? Lord? Where are you? I'm so weary and sick of everything!

Now imagine this. You are alone, sitting on a beach in the Bahamas. The waves are gentle and soothing and the sun is just setting. A cool breeze moves through your hair and caresses your cheek. As you sit there enjoying the silence you have an overwhelming sense of peace and safety. The Lord is near. You know He adores you and promises to be with you through everything you will ever experience. Refreshment reaches deep into your heart and you feel joy seeping into your bones.

Now I want to ask you a question. Are you rush hour in L.A. or a beach in the Bahamas? When people spend time with you, are they glad they did? Or do they tear themselves away from you feeling weary and beat down? Do they feel comforted and has their faith been shored up? Or are they dying to get home so they can crawl into bed and hide from the noise and stresses of life?

Last year I read a book called Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. Have you read it? One of the things I got out of the book was the question: What kind of woman are you? Are you "rush hour traffic" or a "beach"? Maybe that wasn't their point, but that's one of the things I took away from it, and I've been asking myself that question ever since. And praying about it. I want so badly to be a "beach". To refresh others. To sooth them. To let them know the Lord is near. Wouldn't it be wonderful to know the Lord had used you to shore someone up? To give them hope and joy? Do I drag others down or point them to the One who can lift them up?
I'm not looking for answers to these questions here. I am praying about them and asking the Lord to continue molding me into the person He wants me to be. I just thought about the book this morning and decided to share some of my thoughts with you.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:6

June 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time.
--C. S. Lewis

June 24, 2008

A Little Kid Named Barrett

I shouldn't take bloggy breaks. It's always so hard to get back into the swing of writing again. Does that happen to you too?
Anyway, I do miss writing, and I've been wracking my brain trying to come up with something to say that would be worth reading. Sometimes I feel like I've emptied the well and everything I have to say has been said, so what's the point?

Barrett took matters into his own hands and gave me another reason to write. Here's a conversation we had the other morning:

"Mommy? Do you know who King Martin Luther is?"

"Yes...." (I didn't want to correct him on this because I was wondering where on earth this conversation was going.)

"Does he know me?"

"I don't think so, sweetie."

There was a pause in the conversation. I studied his 6 year old little face and could see the wheels turning.

"Has his birthday come yet mommy?"

"I don't know. Why do you ask?"

"Well, I was going to send him a card."

"Oh! That's very sweet of you."

"Yeah, but he wouldn't know if I was a man or a kid, so I'd just sign the card,
'From a little kid named Barrett'."

June 17, 2008

Back By Popular Demand, or not....

Either way, I am back. What a week! We had so much fun and are now somewhat refreshed.
I have several things to write about, but for now I think I'll do a meme Ann @ More Questions Than Answers tagged me with. I enjoy memes so here goes:

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
1. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
2. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
3. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

Q. What were you doing five years ago today?
1. Wow. I can't remember that far back....
Probably freaking out because I was planning our oldest son's sssenior year of hhhiiigh sssschool and wondering about the core 40 and his transcript and helping him get ready to go to SUMMIT. (Which I highly recommend if you have kids 17 or older!)
2. Probably freaking out because I was planning our second son's sssophomore year of hhhiiigh sssschool and wondering about the core 40 and his transcript.
3. It's a long story, but we were also looking for a new home because our old home was no longer "available" to us.
4. If I remember correctly, 5 years ago I was also slowly walking into a time of anger, resentment, and rebellion in my relationship with the Lord and in my marriage.
5. On a lighter note, I'm sure I was enjoying our little guy-he would've been 1 1/2 at the time!

Q. 5 things on your to do list today.
1. Take our 3rd son to work and run some errands.(done)
2. Get my hair chopped off. (done)
3. Gather stuff from around the house that belongs to our oldest son; he moved out last night.
3. Try not to sob as I think about #2.
4. Bake cookies and make granola in our crock pot.
5. Our 3rd son is moving into the now empty bedroom that used to be our oldest son's.
That will mean a lot of organizing, painting, furniture rearranging, etc. I need to plan and start on all that.

Q. 5 snacks you enjoy.
1. Brownies
2. Popcorn
3. Chocolate Chip cookies
4. Nuts and raisins mixed together
5. Pretzels and an orange eaten at the same time

Q. 5 things you would do if you were a billionaire
1. Hire a financial planner/advisor
2. Buy a house out in the country where we could have chickens, Pygmy goats, a cow, etc.
3. Adopt a baby
4. Help our kids, families etc.
5. Save for our retirement and GIVE THE REST AWAY. (I don't want that kind of money!)

Q. 5 jobs you have had.
1. Hostess
2. Waitress (got fired from that job)
3. Reservations Manager
4. Photographer for a rafting company in Colorado
5. Preschool teacher

Q. 5 people you want to tag.
1. Hannah @ handing Him the pen
2. Michelle @ Morning by Morning
3. Grafted Branch @Restoring the Years
4. Wani @Wani's World
5. Jen @ Blessings

June 11, 2008

A Break

Hey all-
I don't know if anyone's noticed, or cares, but I'm taking a bloggy break this week. My husband took the week off and we've been trying to relax, galavant, talk, fall back and regroup as a "foursome", and maybe have some fun with our younger two sons.
Ann, if you visit here this week, I just wanted to let you know I'm not ignoring you. Thank you for tagging me for the meme! I promise I'll do it when our little "vacation" is over.
Don't ya'll forget about me in the meantime.:-)

June 6, 2008

Blue Funk? Or Maybe not......

The following was written by our 20 year old son. I stole it, (with his permission) from his facebook page. It was so encouraging and again, convicting, that I wanted to share it here. I hope you'll read it and be blessed!

Lately I, along with many of my close friends, have been going through a period of hard times emotionally, “an emotional rollercoaster” it has been called. It comes and goes without warning and doesn’t seem to have a consistent logical reason. One day it will be the fact that I will soon be moving out. While I am excited, I get depressed thinking about moving away from my parents whom I love so dearly. The next time it will be an “I am single” blue funk. Then frustration comes because of the fact that so much has changed with my ministry downtown. Of course all of it is because life just isn’t going the way “I planned it.” It is at these times that God intervenes, an understanding but sad smile on His face I’m sure, lovingly asking, “the way you planned it?”

God warns us against making plans without Him: In James 4:13, He tells us: “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.: Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.” When we make our own plans, we, (at least I) rarely want someone to come along and say “that’s really not a good idea, let’s try this plan instead. Because this plan doesn’t involve you messing up everything that I’ve been working on for the past 500 years.” They are usually made with one person in mind: Me, myself and I. Even if the plans we make are for the benefit of others, we often don’t want God to come along and tell us that it is going to happen His way. Because His way almost never makes sense – to totally depraved, obstinate and wayward lost sheep, (us). Of course, we have it all together, I mean… after all… I’ve been around for like twenty years… of course I know what I’m doing… yeah right! Whether you’re just a twenty-year-old young kid like me, or you’re fifty, or seventy, or nine hundred, we just don’t get it. We aren’t going to get it until Jesus returns in all His awesome glory and gives us resurrected bodies, bodies that don’t decay, don’t fall apart, don’t get sick, aren’t depraved…

It all comes down to our perspective. Are we focusing on what is going to happen today? Are we focusing on how we want the day to go? Are we focusing on what we don’t like about the day? Our life? If I get stuck behind that stupid school bus again, does God still name me as one of His beloved children? If I get a flat tire, did Jesus still die for me? If I lose my job, did He still raise Himself from the dead, proving that He has the power to raise us on the last day? If my car blows up and I am paralyzed, is Jesus still returning for me? If I am single for the rest of my life, does that mean I have to be lonely? If I flip out because the guy in front of me is driving ten miles under the speed limit, I cuss under my breath, and make it obvious that he isn’t on my top ten list as I pass, does Jesus love me any less? (I don’t condone raising a certain finger or make a practice of it you are wondering…) If I am His child, and I take my own life, is that sin covered by the cross? I will let the Apostle Paul answer: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

Jesus Christ loves His children through thick and thin, through hard and easy. Scripture says: “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” –Romans 10:9-10 The most amazing news? Sometimes we think about “judgment day.” Guess what? As Christians, our judgment day doesn’t exist! It’s gone! Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Now? Yes, the verdict has already been declared. “Not Guilty.” But what about my sin? Isn’t that going to be brought out? It was already brought out, and paid for. Jesus told Nicodemus the Pharisee “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” –John 3:18 We already have the verdict! Not Guilty! No Condemnation! But we may say “what about sickness?” When I get sick, or get cancer, or get hurt, or lose loved ones, isn’t that judgment? Isn’t that condemnation? The answer is an almighty “No!” I cannot put it better than John Piper does in a sermon I was listening to the other day: “What Paul is saying is that all of God's condemning wrath and all of his omnipotent opposition to us in our sin has been replaced by almighty mercy and omnipotent assistance. In other words, if you are in Christ Jesus all of God's action toward you is almighty mercy and omnipotent assistance.”…He also quotes Micah 7:8-9 "Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise [So there has been a temporary "fall"]; Though I dwell in darkness [so there is a season of darkness and guilty feelings], the Lord is a light for me [so the Lord who is angry with him is nevertheless his light]. (9) I will bear the indignation of the Lord [so the Lord is displeased, and angry with him -but it is not the anger of a condemning judge, but of a light-providing disciplining Father! He spanks the child and sends him to his room for a time, but he does not turn off the light of hope] Because I have sinned against Him [so there is real sin], Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me [so this angry God is FOR HIM and not against him. He will justify him and not condemn him!]. He will bring me out to the light, And I will see His righteousness." Piper explains that God uses pain in our lives, not to condemn, but to guide us ever back to Him, to punish us when needed, so that we will not fall permanently and thus be condemned. I firmly believe that such an awesome loving God is much more capable than we are of making good plans for our lives. Let's just stand back, and let Him, and praise Him all the while!What an amazing Father!

In this light, how can I be depressed? Praise be to our everlasting Holy Father for His never-ending love for us!

June 3, 2008

More Thoughts on Our Emptying Nest

Boxes are coming in, and items are disappearing off shelves and out of closets. One of our sons took his curtain and rod down this morning and those are gone. The room is starting to look "naked".
Junk is being sorted and pitched or saved or stored.
I can't stop crying. I'm the only mom I know who is losing 2 kids at once.
Sometimes our conversations are stilted or awkward-that's a new experience for us.
I hear things about our sons' lives from virtual strangers now. People that didn't change their diapers or teach them to read tell me what my sons did or where they went, who they were with or what's been going on in their lives. I feel like I've become the stranger. I'm trusting this is just a time of transition for the family....
We went to 4 high school graduation celebrations last weekend and I had the opportunity to talk to several people who have had kids leave the nest. Not one of them could look me in the eye and tell me they have stopped "hurting". The best they could promise me is that, "You get used to it."
I wish I were strong, mature, and brave, but I'm not. I hurt. I want to have a party for them and tell them I'm proud of them. That they are still my best friends and I love them and am so excited for them as they begin this new phase in life.
I want to tell them not to be afraid of my tears. They're just tears after all. They won't kill any of us. Women cry.
It seems like we should have a "Right of Passage" ceremony. Or? What on earth do modern societies do to mark Manhood?

Yesterday James, our second born son, and I were talking about this time of transition. I told him how much it hurts to see them leave and asked if he thought that meant I'd turned our family into an idol. (This is the second time we've had this conversation. I'm nothing if not a slow learner.)
Anyway-he said he thought there'd be anger at their leaving if they were idols. There wouldn't be sorrow. So then I asked him what am I if not their mother, and how on earth do I deal with all my emotions?
He said the following: (paraphrased because I can't remember what he said word for word.)
"Mom, we all have 2 callings. A primary calling and a secondary calling. Our primary calling is to glorify God and enjoy Him. Our secondary calling is what we "do"."

I have a feeling all my tears are not glorifying God, nor do they say, "Hey Lord, I enjoy You." So, yesterday that became my prayer. That I would enjoy Him and glorify Him through this time in our lives. Then this morning I read a great verse in Ecclesiastes. (Ecc. 5:20)
...For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.
The notes in my bible say this about that verse:
When a person recognizes the goodness of God, he rejoices and does not dwell unduly on the troubles detailed in the previous context.

So, I've been doubly rebuked/challenged. Once by my son and once by my Father.
I would appreciate your prayers if you've read this far. I do need to focus on enjoying the Lord, glorifying Him and recognizing His goodness. The pity party has to go.

One good thing that's come from our sons moving out-I think I'm going to get a lot of blogging miles out of it.

May 28, 2008

Of Mice and Men

Last night, as our 6 year old son was snuggling and getting sleepy, he asked his final question of the day:
"What color are fishes' veins?"

That question made me think. Do you know what color fishes' veins are?
This morning, before I'd even finished my second cup of coffee, these were the questions that same little person asked: (Please read this post all the way through to the end. You won't be sorry!)
Anyway-back to Barrett's first 15 minutes of the day:
-Why did Benjamin go back to bed?
-Where are my binoculars?
-Why do you always put them on the bookshelf by the back door?
-Wouldn't it be cool if flashlight light was really silver instead of yellow?
-Wouldn't it be neat if there really were light sabers?!
-Do computers sleep?
-Do TVs sleep?
-Did you see a Nuthatch last night?
-Did you see a raccoon last night?
-Do fish sleep?
-Do they yawn?
-Are Tufted Tit Mouses your favorite kind of bird or are Brown Thrashers?
-Did you just hear my foot snap?
-Aren't you going to sit with me and watch the birds?
-I wonder if the seeds in our garden are growing?
-Are there roots from the seeds we planted in the ground?

At this point I was ready to duct tape his lips together, so I ran to the bathroom instead. The minute my face reappeared, the questions began again:

-Why do the birds flip seeds onto the ground when they eat?
-Does it feel nice when you can hold a bird in your hands?
-Why do robins always try and find worms to eat?
-Where's my bird notebook?
-Don't you wish you could film dreams?
-What color are Cardinals' feet?

Shower! I can get a break if I take a shower! So I did. A nice long one. Then we ate and did some chores. I'm sorry, but I neglected to write down the questions asked during this part of my day.
Later we took Barrett's big brother out to see some friends. Left alone with my little guy, I resumed writing his questions. Please keep in mind, these are by no means all of them. They are in fact just a fraction of the things going through his mind. I can't write fast enough to keep up with him. I have NO idea how I'm going to keep up with him as his teacher. Anyway:

-Can babies eat olives?
-Can they eat fruit?
-Do cars breath?
-Wouldn't it be weird if fingers couldn't bend and were just stiff?
-Wouldn't it be weird if everything couldn't make noise except people?
-What color are Armadillos?
-I wonder if Alec is having fun bowling?
-I wonder if he lost?
-How come I never get invited places?
-What color are roadrunners?
-What's Grandma's favorite color?
-Have you got defeated by the card you were trying to make?
-Is there a color in the world I haven't seen before?
-Wouldn't it be weird if peoples' hands were colored all different colors in pretty patterns and each person in the whole wide world had a different pattern?
-Why does daddy always bring home the newspaper?
-What is a purple panteater?
-How come sugar tastes better than other stuff?
-Do you ever not like chocolate?
-How come ducks always look like their smiling?
-Doesn't ice-cream sound good?
-Are you sad Momma?
-Did Benjamin and James already move out?
-How come the feta cheese is in a square instead of little lumps?
-Are these seeds good for you?
-Is eggplant good for you?
-Are these breadcrumbs?
-Are there foxes where Grandma lives?
-If there weren't any seeds or insects wouldn't birds be dead?
-Wouldn't it be weird if seeds fell from the sky instead of rain?
-Wouldn't it be funny to watch the birds look up and catch the seeds in their beaks, swallow, and do it again? (This said while pretending he was a bird eating just that way.)
-How many times have we heard those fireworks today?
-Why do the dogs always bark?
-Why are the birds singing like that?

OK-here comes the grand finale.
This evening, our oldest son came home from work and started packing. He's going to be moving out very soon. When I saw my firstborn son sorting, purging, and packing, I couldn't help it. I had a meltdown. I blubbered all over my husband. I blubbered alone. I blubbered in our 16 year old's arms. I blubbered in our second son's arms when he walked in the door from work.(He brought on a fresh wave of tears because he is moving out in the next few weeks too.) As I was blubbering, Daddy was getting Barrett ready for bed. Story. Teeth brushed. Jammies on. Climb into bed. Prayers said.
I went in to kiss him goodnight, all teary, my red, shiny nose leading the way. Barrett took one look at me and said compassionately,
"Oh Mommy!"
I leaned over, put my arms around him and he tenderly kissed me and gave me a long, sweet hug. I had another meltdown, remembering certain other little arms around my neck, loving me. As I stood there soaking up his concern, I hear:
"Mommy, do baby mice ever get sick?"

May 27, 2008

The Emptying Nest

By "sheer coincidence", (which I don't believe in) our 2 oldest sons have decided to move out. They are not going to be sharing an apartment together. They both "just" found separate places to live at the same time. Places that will save drive time, gas, and wear and tear on their cars.

I know they are still alive.
I know I'll see them again.
I know there are worse things going on in the world.
I know they still love us.
I know they are men now and the last thing on earth a healthy man wants to do is live with his mother forever.
I know I still have 2 boys left at home. (That is like flippantly telling a paraplegic, "Oh well. You don't have the use of your legs anymore but you still have your arms.")

I've made lists in my head about "all the positives". Less noise. Less mess. Less cooking. Less laundry.

Those lists don't help much. Where did my little guys go? Yesterday we had these:

Today, these:

"You and I are like a pair of Ashton's twins, bound together in some unworldly way...sharing a spirit, we're so alike.
When we are parted, when you leave me, I believe that bond will snap and I will bleed inwardly and you'll forget me after a while..."

(Rochester talking to Jane Eyre)

That's almost how I feel right now; it's a little extreme, but I do feel like I've taken to bleeding inwardly. This is the end of our family as it's always been. Not the end of it always and forever. Just as it's always been.

Soak up your babies. Enjoy your kids. Even their noises, their messes, the cooking, and all the laundry you don't feel like doing.

May 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Blog!

My sister-in-law just reminded me that today is my blog's 1st birthday! In honor of that, I thought I'd re-post my first-favorite post:


You can imagine with 4 boys in the house pets would therefore follow. We've had a number of interesting, and not-so-interesting pets over the years.
There was one year in particular we had an absurd number of them.
Mortimer the goat
Lucy the pygmy goat
3 baby catfish
2 neuts
2 fire bellied toads
baby painted turtles
2 dogs-Apache and Sophie
2 cats-Tigger and Butterball
3 finches
tropical fish
blue gill
27 bantam chickens
and Rocky the snapping turtle
It was so rediculous that many of our friends would ask to come over just so they could visit our zoo. (Hey, it was free.)
There was one pet, however, we didn't buy, catch, or want. He just came to us of his own free will.
One evening we were sitting in our livingroom watching Antique Roadshow on PBS. Our then youngest son, Alec, (about 6 years old) suddenly chirps, "I wish I could see a bat. I've never seen a real bat...."
I promise you, not even 5 minutes later a bat swooped down out of the fireplace and started flying around the room!
Can you imagine the instant chaos? I shrieked. The 3 boys were thrilled! The room burst into action.
Suddenly there were 4 people in the house armed with butterfly nets running, clambering over furniture, jumping toward the ceiling swinging their arms, and all yelling "I got it!"
"I GOT it."
"Oh, it got away."
"Grab him! He's over there!"
"Where'd he go?"
I just stood frozen in one spot ducking my head and screaming every time the bat or a net flew past my head.
Finally my husband caught the terrified creature. The boys studied it for a few minutes and then he was released into the night. We thought that was the end of it. However, a few nights later I was peacefully sleeping when I felt a hand gently shaking my shoulder. It was my husband.
"Sweetie, don't move, and don't panic, but there's a bat in our room."
"What?!" I tried to sit up in order to shriek a little louder, but he held me down.
"Get him! I want him out of our room!" I hissed.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could see the shadow of the bat as it flew overhead. It would circle our room, gently hit the screen on the window, fly out of our room and then return a few minutes later. My husband got up and dressed, turned on the lights and went in search of the bat. Every time he'd turn a light on, the bat would disappear. Lights off: bat. Lights on: no bat. Finally he gave up and came back to bed. Needless to say it took me a long time to go back to sleep.
This scenario repeated itself every night for about a week. After a few days we were almost used to having a bat in the house. Even the kids got used to it. If anyone had to go to the bathroom during the night we would just duck waddle across the hall so we didn't disturb the bat's flight pattern. :-)
It was during this time my brother and his family were preparing to move across the country to Idaho. We spent alot of time that week helping them pack and clean their house and prepare for the move. When they left my husband was going to go with them to help drive and unload the moving truck once they reached Idaho. My only hope was that the bat would be gone before they left. I couldn't stand the thought of being alone in the house with 3 little boys and that nocturnal creature still on the loose.
Of course it didn't happen that way. My brother, his family, their belongings, and my comforting, safe husband all left and the bat stayed. I was not a happy camper.
Back to the old routine. Content during the day because I knew the bat was sleeping somewhere, and insomnia at night. Where was that blasted creature anyway?!
A few days after my husband left the boys and I got up to a beautiful morning. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and a warm breeze blew in the windows. We ate breakfast and I gave them some chores to do while I cleaned the kitchen. All of a sudden James starts screaming, "MOM! MOM! Come quick!!! MOOOOOMMMMMMMM!"
I went tearing down the hall to see what on earth was causing all the commotion. As I flew into James' room I spotted him standing next to one of his aquariums grinning and pointing. There sat Rocky innocently chewing on the bat's head. Apparently the bat had become thirsty and decided a snapping turtle's water would quench his parched throat.

May 15, 2008

Mother's Day 2008

This is what our Used-To-Be strong-willed son gave me for Mother's Day:

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever!
Romans 11:36

May 13, 2008

Some of Our Favorite School Books

Waaaaaay back in February my niece asked me about the books we use for school. I know that every family has their own "flavor". Each child is a unique gift. It's up to you, the parent/s, to decide what curriculum you'll use to best get into your child's thick skull (joke, people) what he needs to learn in order to be a productive member of society and be able to fend for himself.
However, If I were stranded on a desert island, or even a dessert island, there are several books I would not want to live without.
Alpha-Phonics by Samuel L. Blumenfeld
This book is inexpensive and was a very easy, practical way to teach our sons to read. There are 128 lessons-it takes less than 15 minutes a day to complete most of the lessons. Once the boys had completed that book I just checked out mountains of library books and had them read out loud every day as practice. I did try to check out books based on things they were interested in learning about.
Exploring Creation Series by Dr. Jay L. Wile
(Science curriculum)

A Child's History of the World by Virgil M. Hillyer
(A fun, easy to read book for elementary age students)

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick (for grades 4-8)

Science Experiments and Amusements for Children by Charles Vivian
(Elementary grades)

An Easy Start in Arithmetic by Ruth Beechick (grades K-3)

A Strong Start in Language by Ruth Beechick (grades K-3)

The Basic Home Schooling Workshop by Gregg Harris
(This is a wonderful tape series that will help you either get started or give you a much needed boost in your home school career)

A Mom Just Like You: (The Home Schooling Mother) by Vicki Farris

I've started, but haven't finished A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola and The Well Trained Mind by? So far those two books seem wonderful, encouraging, and helpful.

The Right Choice by Christopher Klicka

A Home Start in Reading by Ruth Beechick (grades K-3)

Geography Matters-Galloping the Globe by Loree' Pettit-this is a geography unit study for grades K-4

English From the Roots Up-greek and latin root words

The Mystery of History series by Linda Lacour Hobar

We also used KONOS as a guide because the boys love/loved hands-on projects. Boys were most definetly not made to just sit, sit, sit all day!

We start every morning by reading the bible together, outloud. The best way we've found to do this is to read a chapter a day-each one of us reading 3 verses at a time. By reading the bible this way the boys don't day dream-they know their turn is coming and they better be ready!
After we read the bible, I read a chapter out loud from another book. Sometimes we'll read a fictional story, at other times we'll read a biography, autobiography, or a book that may help them grow spiritually. I've listed some of our favorites:

Vinegar Boy by Alberta Hawse

Hinds' Feet on High Places
by Hannah Hurnard

The Screwtape Letters
by C.S. Lewis

Foxe's Book of Martyrs
(I didn't read this one out loud, but a couple of the boys read it when they were old enough to deal with the content)

The Hobbit etc.
by J.R.R. Tolkien (I was mean and rotten and would not let the boys see the Lord of the Rings movies until they had read all the books.)

Follow the River by James Alexander Thom
This book, and From Sea to Sea, should NOT be read by your children alone. They are wonderful books, and well written, but Thom goes into details about "certain things" that are not appropriate for little ears. It was easy to just "edit" those things out as I read. These 2 books are good for older kids-maybe junior high and high school. The book From Sea to Sea has been my all time favorite read aloud book. I learned soooooo much about our country's history by reading it with the boys. Patrick Henry's famous speech "Give me liberty or give me death!" moved me to tears because for the first time in my life I could see and hear and feel and practically taste what our founding fathers were feeling as they dealt with cutting ties with England. I just can't say enough about that book so I won't say any more at all. Please, please, please just read it! :-)

The Hiding Place
by Corrie Ten Boom

From Sea to Sea
by James Alexander Thom

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23
by Phillip Keller

God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew

The Chronicles of Narnia (I've been mean and rotten with this series too. Can't watch the movies til you've read the books!)

Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

**The tape series and the 2 books with the "*" are resources that have helped shape our personal home school philosophy and even our family goals.
That's it for now. I'm sorry if my grammar, spelling or punctuation are atrocious. For some reason I'm feeling really "foggy headed" today. If you have questions about any of these books please feel free to leave a comment and I'll be happy to give you more info.

May 10, 2008

The Good of A Mother

My mother was an interesting person, and that's putting it mildly. Complex, funny, simple, wise, foolish, intense, giving, needful, controlling, and whatever the opposite of "controlling" would be....those are all words that come to mind when I think about her. Having a child-mother raise me has complicated my own mothering; everything I say and do and think as a mother has to be sifted and sorted to weed out anything unhealthy that might stem from hurts or bad example or.....
However, I don't want to focus on those things tonight, on Mother's Day Eve. (Hey! Did I just create a new holiday for mothers around the world? If we were smart we could really stretch this holiday out! Ladies, we'll have to work on that one. We have Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, and now, Ta Da! Mother's Day Eve. Hmmmm...)
Anyway, I digress. There were many things my mom did right. One year for Mother's Day I made a list of everything I could possibly think of that I loved or appreciated about her. I cut the list up into tiny strips and rolled each thing up into a tiny "scroll". I then stuffed a quart size canning jar with those little scrolls and told my mom they were her "One-A-Days". She could only read one a day for however long they lasted.
Just in case you're wondering, I thought I'd share some of those things with you.

-She always told me, "Say yes to your kids whenever you can. Life is long and hard and will be full of "no's". Give them yeses every chance you get."
-She was a great cook! I've posted her spaghetti sauce recipe, but she also made the best chocolate chip cookies and bread I've ever had.
-She was adventurous. Always willing to try something new, or go somewhere new or even discuss something she knew nothing about just so she could learn something new.
-She set me free to try my wings. She encouraged me to "go for it" and not be afraid of trying new things. She encouraged me to make life rich with experiences and memories.
-She didn't try to pit me against my dad or be bitter toward him after my parents divorced.
-She never let go of her dreams. I think it took her 3 tries before she was able to pass the test that would give her a Real Estate License. She just kept plugging away at it until she did it.
-She taught me to slow down and appreciate the beauty of the mountains, a sunset, a bug on a leaf, or the way trees grew twisted and curled by the constant mountain winds.
-She was spontaneous and always up for a walk, a ride, or a Hot-Fudge Sundae at McDonald's.
-She was willing to love and accept everyone she met, no matter what they believed or what their lifestyle was.
-She taught me to appreciate and love music.
-She could make anyplace feel like home.
-She was an optimist.
-She was willing to laugh at herself and not take life so seriously.
-She had a never ending sense of humor and laughed often.
-She continually tried to learn new things.
-On my 16th birthday she took me to get my driver's license, then handed me her check book and a credit card. She showed me what they were for and how to use them and never looked back. In other words, she treated me like a responsible young adult and expected me to live up to her expectations. She trusted me.

Like I said, my mother was complex, hard to understand, and sometimes hard to live with. I do wish I could sit with her tonight and hug her. I would like to thank her once again for doing her best. In many ways she was more a friend than a parent, but I did learn a lot from that "friendship" and I'm thankful for it.

May 7, 2008

What Would You Ask For?

I am really ready for school to be over. We have a few weeks left and our 17th year of homeschooling will be complete! Even though this year has been the easiest one I think I've ever had, I'm still ready for it to be over. I just don't have the energy right now to be funny, spiritual, or even slightly interesting.
So, I thought it might be fun to give my bloggy friends a chance to "speak out".
I was puttering around the other day, reading blogs, and came across a great post at Living with Purpose. ( was posted April 20th) Colette asked her readers:
If God asked you..."What can I do for you?" like He asked Solomon, what would you ask of Him?
I'd love to hear your answers to that question! I asked my husband and a couple of our sons how they would answer that question- we've had some interesting discussions as a result.
(See, there are benefits to old age. Your kids get older too and you can actually have deep, meaningful discussions with them. They may sigh and squirm a little, but too bad. If you wait until they're starving and have just heaped their plates with food, they are stuck with you and your questions. At least until they're full.)

OK-I'm done babbling. What would you ask God for?
I'll even follow Colette's example and get the ball rolling. I'll go first. Here's the reply I left over at her blog:
I would ask for 3 years alone with Jesus. I think if I had that kind of time with Him, face to face, I'd "get it". Paul was given that gift and there have been many times where I've been jealous of him. His faith, his time alone with Jesus, his boldness, his fearlessness, his ability to live the big picture, his love for the lost, his compasion, his wisdom....I think he paid a very high price for those 3 years alone with Jesus, but I still think that's what I'd ask for.
How about you?

May 3, 2008

A Mother's Day Card....or not.

I've spent a lot of time over the past few days trying to make a Mother's Day card for my mother-in-law. I've "googled" and goggled until my brain cells were boggled.
I thought I'd finally found the perfect card for the woman who gave me her one and only son. It's beautiful. The card I was going to use as a template is actually a birthday card and it has the dictionary definition of "birthday" or some such across the front of it. No problem, thought I. I'll just change the word and put the definition of "mother" across the front instead. Well, when I picked up our Websters's 1828 dictionary and looked for "mother" this is what I found:

mother and mud
the womb
stark naked
the thick slimy concretion in vinegar
a hysteric fit
a ewe or female sheep
a mole
the female of the horse kind
mud, mold
a mother, and matter, pus
matter, stuff, materials of which any thing is made
the bed of a river, a sink or sewer
the channel of a river

Further down the page there are several more definitions:
1. A female parent
2. That which has produced anything (Believe me, there are times when I've wondered what on earth I have produced)
3. That which has preceded in time; the oldest or chief of anything (Yes, I feel like this at times-the oldest of anything and everything...)
4. Hysterical passion
5. A familiar term of address of an old woman or matron
6. An appellation given to a woman who exercises care and tenderness towards another, or gives parental advice (nag, nag, nag...)
7. A thick slimy substance concreted in liquors, particularly in vinegar, very different from scum. (Oh! What a relief that is.)

Moving on from there I picked up Webster's Elementary Dictionary-A Dictionary for Boys and Girls:
mother-A slimy substance that forms on fermenting alchoholic liquors (Hmph.)

I then thought, just for the fun of it, I'd look and see what good old Noah had to say about Fathers. From the 1828 dictionary:
to beget, to feed
1. He who begets a child
2. The first ancestor
3. The appellation of an old man, and a term of respect
Elderly men are called fathers; men venerable for age, learning and piety are called fathers.
4. The grandfather
5. One who feeds and supports, or exercises paternal care over another. God is called the father of the fatherless.
6.He who creates, invents, makes or composes any thing; the author, a founder, director or instructor.

Maybe I'll send her a Father's Day card instead...

April 30, 2008

A Kiss From Little Barrett

We used to start every single day cuddling together. Barrett would stumble out of his room, flashlight in hand, (to scare away any bad guys) find me, and we'd snuggle together until we both "woke up".
Lately that hasn't happened as often. I guess at 6 years old, he thinks he is getting a little too old to sit in my lap and cuddle. I've missed our mornings together. He is, after all, my last baby!
I was so happy this morning when he did want to snuggle with me. My smallest boy stumbled from his room, the flashlight sending rays bouncing everwhere. He crawled up into my lap and sleepily, but very sweetly, kissed my cheek and sighed.
"Mommy? Isn't it amazing that God taught us how to kiss?"
My heart is still in a puddle somewhere in the recesses of my chest.

April 28, 2008

A Rose is a Rose

I think my blog has the wrong name. I was feeling rather optimistic when I called it "Midsummer Meanderings", so I later added "or: A Mom in Midlife Crisis". That doesn't cut it either. Maybe I should re-name it "A Lady in Waiting"?
I've never heard of women going through a midlife crisis so when I started going through one I was rather dismayed. What is wrong with me? Women don't have these feelings. Why am I the only mom I know who feels this way? Is there something wrong with me?
For as long as I can remember all I've ever wanted in life was to be a wife and a mom. I think it started when I was 3. That's when my heat-up iron, plastic dishes and my little baby dolls came alive to me. I should've seen the writing on the wall at some point. I was always pretending my "babies" had contracted a strange new disease that would render growing up an impossibility. The doctors would sadly tell me that my babies were healthy and happy, but they would never change. They would never grow and talk and walk and learn to ride bikes or leave the world of diapers. I would pretend to be saddened by the news, but inside my heart was thrilled. Babies forever!
Finally the day came when I grew up. I put my baby dolls away, got married and within a short time started having real, honest-to-goodness babies, smelly diapers and all. Surprisingly, I was thrilled when they learned to sit up, say “Da Da”, walk, and started wearing "big boy undies". I was so proud of them as they learned to read, add and subtract numbers, and help with chores around the house. My heart sang as I watched their faith grow and they started to care about the world around them.
However, there did come a day when a huge grey cloud settled over my heart. Our first son grew up. He got his driver's license, a job, and started taking a few classes outside the home. His life changed and so did our family. He was busy and had more responsibilities. I started to feel like I was no longer needed. He was looking "Out". The nest wasn't big enough to hold him anymore.
As we made plans for his graduation and open house the feelings of “uselessness” started to invade my thoughts day and night. His diploma seemed like the beginning-of-the-end for me. Questions like: If I’m not a mom and a teacher, who am I? What is my purpose if it’s not to raise kids and be a wife? What will I do with my time when the boys are all grown? What other reason could there be for my existence? Am I depressed about this because I’ve made an idol out of our family? Our home school? My mothering and being a wife?
Quite frankly, over the last few years I've felt like Scarlett at the end of Gone With the Wind, "Rhett, Rhett! Where will I go? What will I do?!" Those feelings of "uselessness" only increased when our second son graduated.
People I've talked to don't understand these feelings. "You still have a 6 year old at home! It'll be years and years before your nest is empty!" I don't know how to respond to those things. I feel what I feel.
Not very long ago I stumbled onto a book by Gordon MacDonald called: A Resilient Life. I've only read a tiny portion of the book, but what I have read has been soooooo encouraging! On page 4 Gordon says, "Wherever I have gone and talked about the resilient life, I have insisted that one must anticipate that the greatest contributions God has for us to make will happen in the second half of folks under 40? In actuality, most of what you're doing now is simply running the first few laps of the race."
I don't know what the Lord has up His big sleeve for me but it doesn't sound like I'm an old cow ready to be put out to pasture quite yet.

April 22, 2008

He Stirs My Soul

A few months ago, probably back in January, I was looking for a bible reading plan that would be interesting enough for me to stick with throughout this year. I've read the bible through in chronological order several times-I was getting bogged down with that idea and needed something fresh to try.
I ended up at "John Piper" website. After digging around over there I found a short article written by John's wife, Noel. It was her bible reading plan. She said she reads the bible through every year, but doesn't read it through in sequence. She just reads one book at a time and reads approximately 3 or 4 chapters a day. By reading it that way she reads the entire bible every year. Noel went on to say that she reads with a highlighter in her hand.
She said the first year she did this she highlighted everything the bible says about God: His names, word pictures about Him, what He likes and dislikes, how He reacts to faithfulness and sin...Noel said her bible flyleaves are filled with lists. Lists of God's names, Jesus' names, and the Spirit's names. She also created a list of pictures the bible uses to describe God like: shepherd, potter, nursing mother, etc. One other list she's created is one that lists bible verses so beautiful she knew she'd want to find them again and again. I don't think she works on all these lists every year. I think, if I remember correctly, she focuses on one or two each year.
I loved that idea and jumped right in. I am really enjoying it! I had a blank journal and being the sanguine person that I am, I've started on 3 hunts through the scriptures for this year:

-Lists from the bible (For example: Mark 7:20-23)

-Wonderful promises (Josh. 1:5 Deut. 31:6-8 Heb. 13:5)

-My favorite list is the one I've called: Scriptures That Stir My Soul

Take a minute and read these verses!

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives.....
Ecc. 3:11-12

Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out!
For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?
Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to Him?
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better.
Ecc. 7:3

But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the Lord, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as He promised them.

Those verses really do stir my soul to trust Him. To worship Him. To be amazed by Him. Noel's plan has made the bible come alive for me again! I am really enjoying "the hunt". This idea has made reading the bible fun and deep and enjoyable and refreshing once more.

April 19, 2008

Pride Goes Before A Toe

Way back in the dark ages of my mothering, there came a day when I had to take my second son to the doctor; not for illness-just a "well baby" check and vaccine update. He was two years old.
I was feeling rather nervous about the doctor's appointment. I knew from experience that well-baby checks are thorough. So, that morning I made sure everything about our little guy was perfect. I gave him a bath. I combed every hair on his sweet little head and put him in an adorable outfit. I even clipped his fingernails and made sure his teeth were brushed. Finally I put sandals on his chubby, pink little feet and we were off.
After we'd been in the examining room for a time I started to relax. Everything looked good. Our little son was sturdy and happy and healthy. The nurse gave him the needed shots and as I held him and wiped away his tears I noticed she was watching, a look of tenderness on her face.
Finally it was time to go. I picked up my purse and reached out to grab my son's hand. As I did so the nurse said with a big smile, "Well, Judy, you're doing a great job. Keep up the good work!"
My heart, (and my head) swelled with pride. I marched over to the door, my little son in front of me. As I yanked open the door to leave, James suddenly started screaming. I looked down to see that pride had blinded me. I'd used the examining room door to rip his toenail off.