Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Hymn- Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not:
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided-
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.


Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow-
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


An all-time favorite of mine, to play, to sing, to hum, to pray...

He is faithful, His faithfulness is great- if only I could be half as faithful as He is.
There is no shadow of turning in Him- unlike in me. I turn far too much.

He changes not- I wish I could say the same for myself.
His compassions, they fail not- oh, how many times have my compassions failed? Too many times, I know it, and I'm not proud of it. If I want to become more like Him, I need to become more compassionate. I need to open up my cold heart to the warmth of His compassion, working in me and through me, today, and every day...

As He has been, He forever will be- He has, after all, been perfect and good from the beginning. I, on the other hand, have not. I was born a sinner, so far from perfect and good, and I am glad that as I have been I will not forever be. I am changing. I am a work in progress. One day I will be made perfect and complete in His presence. What a day that will be!
Here is one of my favorite versions of this song. If you like a relaxing and beautifully played hymn now and then (or all day) to relax and bless your soul, I really think you will enjoy this one!


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Junk Out 2010

Let's see, this week I passed on another box of baby boy clothes to my youngest sister, and I came to the realization that the new duvet cover that I finally got onto my bed just wasn't as nice as it looked. It sure looked nice, and it sure was a great deal. That's why I've kept it this long, in my closet...

While cleaning out my closet, there it was. I remembered that shopping day, at Target, at least a year ago (nope, not kidding), maybe more. I wasn't there for a duvet cover. I was there for the usual things like diapers, toilet paper, and socks, because it seems like socks are almost as consumable as those other single-use items around here...

And then I saw it, sitting all nice and pretty on the end cap, clearanced at 75% of it's original price. A set with bed skirt (which doesn't work with out bed frame anyway...), duvet cover, and 2 fabulous and superfluous fancy pillow cases. Deep red with a gold and green paisley pattern. It was luxurious looking, and it was slippery. That was its downfall. It literally kept slipping off to one side or the other, and it sounded rather loud as it did. It was the taffeta backing. I've never really understood satin sheets, but taffeta surely must be worse. I even put a flannel sheet under it, because, well, we live in Minnesnowta and have a closet full of flannel sheets (2 sets). Taffeta still slips off of flannel.

My husband tried to appreciate the look of this beautiful piece. After all, his wife had finally gone to some extra effort to beautify the master bedroom, to make it the sanctuary of our home (that it should be! I need to keep working on that!), and he didn't want to squelch any of that. After a week of trying, he finally took it off the bed the other night and said it just has to go. "It's like sleeping under a windbreaker." You know, those lighweight, but really loud, jackets? I giggled, and agreed. It really was like sleeping under a windbreaker, a really pretty windbreaker, but a windbreaker nonetheless.

I hope somebody else will appreciate it. It's going to the thrift store.

I can't use it, so, to me, it's junk, and I need to get the Junk Out!

What else? It's also time to toss about 50 (ok, I didn't really count them) little girls' turtlenecks that have been worn by 4 girls for the past 5 yrs or so, and really just aren't in any shape to be passed on. They weren't in the best of shape to be worn by girl #4, which is why she ended up with several new shirts making the pile of older shirts even more unnecessary and downright cumbersome as she has this habit of emptying the entire bin of shirts every time she goes to pick out a new one. When the bin is stuffed full of hand-me-downs it makes for a big pile of shirts on the floor... Yeah, time to be done with that.

Baby clothes passed on, a bedding set thrifted, and a pile of overused shirts tossed. That's a good week for me, and I think I'll finish going through our youngest two children's clothes this afternoon...

How did you do?


Friday, February 26, 2010

What's So Ordinary?

"I don't know how you do it."
"You must be the most patient woman in the world."
"You must be so organized."
"You are one special woman."

I hear it all the time, often immediately following the frequently uttered, "Wow, you've sure got your hands full." Yes, I do, I think to myself, trying to remember to smile and nod in agreement. "It's a good full", I often respond.
When I hear "You must be busy all the time!", I nod and reply "Yep, it's a good busy", because it is. Life with many children is busy, even when nothing is going on, but it's a good busy, a busy I wouldn't trade for anything.

The thing is, I'm not the most patient woman in the world. I'm so far from the most organized woman in the world that it really isn't funny. Patience and organization are things I am always working on. I'm really not even that special, not any more than any other mother who tries, by the grace of God, to do right by her children.

I'm really quite ordinary.
I try, I fail, and I get up and try again the next day. I have ideals I don't always live up to, dreams I may never live out, and goals I may never reach, but I keep on keepin' on because it's really all there is to do.
I am a Mother.
I have children who wake up every day needing whatever it is I have to give, and then some. Every day they need guidance and direction. Sometimes they need their questions answered and sometimes they need to be pointed in the direction of finding the answers themselves. Sometimes they need help with doing something new or something hard, and sometimes they need further instructions and further encouragement in learning to do it themselves.
I have a job to do-
"Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 2:26
"And these words, which I command thee this day,
shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way,
and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
Deuteronomy 6:6-7
I don't feel qualified to do such a big job, remember I'm just an ordinary mom?
That is where He comes in.
He is my strength when I am weak
(weak in patience, weak in joy, weak in physical pain)
He is the treasure that I seek
("Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually."
1 Chronicles 16:11)
He is my all in all, and He is not ordinary.
He is extraordinary.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

IPs and Lots of Lists

Whew! There are a good many benefits to being married to an IT guy, like how he took care of the whole domain name buying thing and the setting it all up on the web server and entering all of the ftp path mumbo jumbo so all I have to do is hit "publish post"... Then there are the times that he has to do things like reassign IPs because of some new fiber loop and extras like the blogs go down for a bit and are not the 1st priority to bring back up when there are things like entire racks of servers that form the basis of what we hope to be our livelihood soon... and, well...

I had a couple down days. Well, that's not entirely true. I managed to get quite a bit done (I love Getting Things Done with the Autofocus System! and I need to start another notebook!), but the blog had some down days, which is totally no big deal. That being said, it's nice to back up and running.

The kids have been chomping at the bit and really working hard to get this week's list of schoolwork done so we can go on a play date tomorrow. It's so great to see them diving in and making the effort to earn the privilege. Even relaxed homeschoolers have some requirements, and I'm getting so much better at sticking to actually requiring them... (I used to be SUCH a softie!)

I've got another list to attend to and an audio book to pick out for the drive time tomorrow.

It's supposed to be a few degrees warmer here than it was yesterday, which is great, except for the fact that we're still not supposed to get above freezing, sigh... BUT, the sun is out again, and I just know that spring will eventually come, even to this frozen state. Eventually.

On that note, have an extraordinary Thursday!
eta: I'd love to see another link or two on this Saturday's Junk Out post! I know that there are more of you decluttering out there and that whole strength in numbers thing really is true! If you've got a corner or two (or a whole house like me!) to clean out and declutter, join in and take a pic or two if you're brave enough, and write about your progress, or even about your motivation to declutter, tips, or stories about blessing others with your excess!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Multitude Monday 281-290

281. releasing another several pounds of clutter

282. children who beg for more biscuits, some with sausage gravy, some with butter and jelly, some with butter and honey, some with peanut butter, some with just butter, all made with love and more helping hands

283. a week with more sunny days than overcast days

284. a good night's sleep for my husband and I, on the same night...

285. respiratory crud finally easing up again and making it through this round with only 1 ER visit and no hospitalizations for any asthmatics- I never thought I would be in a place to need to say that I'm thankful for months in a row without a hospital stay, but after the last 5 yrs, ever since our 5 yr old Hope was hospitalized with RSV at 6 weeks old, and the many hospitalizations that Grace and Hope have endured... now I'm in that place, and I'm thankful for every month without a hospital visit...

286. a husband who keeps encouraging me

287. personal character pruning, it hurts to go through, but I trust and love the Gardener

288. time spent holding a sister's new baby

289. a sister and brother-in-law buying their first home, not too far away, bringing the rest of my immediate family close together again (us, my parents, and now both of my sisters and their husbands, and of course their precious children, live within about 10 miles of each other!)

290. the urge to take down the snowflake decorations and start creating some springtime atmosphere in our home!


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Junk Out 2010

This week I didn't make the kind of progress I had hoped for. That's ok, I'm becoming a lot more comfortable with releasing things, and that is a huge step in the right direction. Huge. I passed on a ton of baby boy clothes to my youngest sister today without hesitation. I didn't take a picture, but when I say a ton, I mean a ton, or however much 2 very full garbage bags weighs...

It gets easier, I'm seeing that, but I still have a long way to go. I've realized that I am the type of person to develop an emotional attachment to just about anything I've ever touched, owned, or even seen. Ok, that could be a slight exaggeration, but it's not that far off.

I have single coffee cups that I never meant to collect, and that annoy me because there is no uniform-ness in my cup cupboard. Haphazard cups bumping into each other stresses me out, and yet I've kept them, even a few of the chipped ones. "You never know when you might need an extra cup, right?" "That chip isn't that big." Ok, the one that had the crack spread down the side and then started dripping coffee on me... that one went. You see? I'm not hopeless. I just have too much junk.

I have decorative plates that never get used. Some were gifts, and you know how that can go... I've never once been given a guilt trip by anyone (that I can remember) about not hanging onto a gift of some sort, and yet I have guilted myself into not getting rid of things that someone gave me for years and years. I've gotten better at it, but I do still have that Tabasco glass that one of my sisters gave us years ago. It's really cute, actually, but it sits up in a back corner of the cupboard just taking up space, mostly because it's a lone cup, and I have this thing for symmetry and pairs. It held pens for a while, but then I moved up to a bigger and wider pen holder, and back into the cupboard it went. It's a cute cup, but I don't need it and somebody else might get some enjoyment out of it. It's going in the box.

I have fabric I've never cut into, but that I had an idea for some time ago...
I have sewing pattenrs I'm sure I'll never use...
I have knitting books and patterns that I thought about using once upon a time...
I have boxes of papers that either need archiving or shredding...
I have games no one liked to play...
I have tablecloths that don't fit my table...
I have books I meant to read and school books I meant to use, before I changed my mind...
I still have clothes I never wear hanging in my closet, despite several purgings already...
I have pictures I've never hung...
I have small kitchen appliances that seemed like a good idea at the time...
I have unused Tupperware...!?!

I just keep finding things, things I don't need, things I never use, things I don't even like anymore, and a new feeling comes over me- the feeling like I can give, sell, or toss!

I love the decluttered corners that I've reclaimed, the order that has returned to my closet, and knowing that even an organizationally challenged packrat can find freedom from things- things that clutter the mind as much as they clutter the home.

I love getting the Junk Out!!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Proverbs and Parenting

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
Proverbs 17:22
(italics not mine, it's printed just like that in my KJV)

This has been one of my favorite verses for years. I love it and read it over and over again. I meditate on it as often as I need to, and that's pretty often.

You see, I have a long history of battling a very real depression. All of my looking for the good in things, the humor in things, the blessing in things, doesn't come naturally. It's a conscious decision, a decision that on some days is so hard for me to make. Those are the days when the decision to be merry or to find the merriment is even more important. For me, it's necessary.

Like so many things in life, especially hard things, it comes easier with practice. And so I practice, and I encourage my children to practice. We practice joy. We practice laughter. We practice merriment. We try to have fun, good clean fun, and it does our hearts good.

"but a broken spirit drieth the bones"- what happens to things that are dried? I've lost enough plants to know about dryness. Things become hard. They become weak. They become brittle. They break.
The opposite of dry is wet. (Brilliant observation, I know.) Really wet is saturated, and that's how I want so badly to be- saturated with joy, soaked through and through, to the bone.
It's how I want to be, for me, which is even more important because of my role as a parent, a Mother, a life and soul shaper. And so I set my mind on things of Him. He's teaching me joy. He makes me merry and it does my heart good. When my heart is doing good, then I am better equipped to be the Mother I strive to be. Then I can share my merry heart and it doeth them good as well. I want to do them so much good. By His grace, I will.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Simple Buttermilk Biscuits

Oh, how I love a good biscuit. So do my children. And so does my husband. It works out good that way.

The other day, on a whim, I decided to make our 10 yr old, Jaron, my little sous chef/baker biscuit apprentice. It was great fun. We should definitely do that more often. Soon to be 9 yr old Liberty has dibs on the next tandem baking slot.

We made 2 batches, 2 bowls working side by side. I demonstrated. He imitated. Everyone ate a hearty brunch of biscuits with sausage gravy, a little bit of southern comfort food on a cold Frozen Tundra* winter morning. So good.

*Minnesota, or Minnesnowta

I prefer to make these with 1/2 all-purpose flour and 1/2 freshly ground whole wheat flour. You can make them with all white flour, and they'll be tasty, sort of like restaurant biscuits, but they won't have much, if any, nutritional value, and may act sort of like glue in your intestines. Just sayin'. You can make them with all whole wheat flour, but they'll be a bit more dense and gritty, and you'll probably only like them if you're the real crunchy sort. I love them with 100% fresh ground whole wheat, but the rest of my family prefers 50%... I aim to please.

My recipe is similar to, if not the same as, many others out there. Some use shortening, some use 1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter, and some use all butter. I've written mine out to be flexible and listed the options right there. I believe in being creative and making things your own. What makes my biscuits my biscuits is that I almost always use at least half freshly ground whole wheat flour and all butter. I have an ongoing love affair with butter and wouldn't dream of making my biscuits with anything else. Not everyone feels that way, so wrote in the shortening option. You're welcome.

Without further ado, here is my recipe for our ordinary...

Simple Buttermilk Biscuits

2 c all purpose flour (or 1 c + 1 c whole wheat flour!)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter or shortening (I use butter!)
1 c buttermilk

Sift together dry ingredients and then cut in butter or shortening. Mix in buttermilk to make soft dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead/fold 4 or 5 times and roll out to approx. 1/2" thick. Cut with biscuit cutter, place on greased pan, and bake at 425˚ for about 15 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!

Perhaps the favorite and funnest part of making biscuits is the hand shaping of the last bits of dough. If the truth be told, and it should, those biscuits are my favorite biscuits! I always have had a soft spot for those 'different' ones, people and biscuits...

So how about you? White flour? Whole wheat? 50/50? Butter? Shortening? Biscuits in a can?


Monday, February 15, 2010

Multitude Monday 261-280

261. the beauty that is in our frosty land these days
262. a Friday field trip down "in the city" without a headache despite harsh sun while driving, cold air outside, parking too far from the museum and nearly getting lost in the skyway system, oh, and paying to much to get out of the ramp due to losing the ticket... definite headache material, and yet there was none... it was a good day
263. dry roads on Friday and Saturday while we were out and about and I was behind the wheel
264. overcoming my urge to wimp out and stay home on Saturday
265. meeting the sweetest alpacas
266. our first pair of snow shoes
267. 10 yr old son deciding to make our 2nd pair of snow shoes
268. coughing and wheezing, though not subsiding, is lessening day by day
269. more than 1 day in a row with sunshine!
270. finding a couple coupons I think I'll actually use
271. impromptu steak dinner with husband after kids in bed
272. sparkling peach juice shared with my love
273. another 4 yr old turning 5!! Our sweet and silly little Hope is growing up so fast!
274. children who think my cake decorating is g-r-r-eat! beauty, even cake beauty, truly is in the eye of the beholder...
275. sisters wrapping up things of their own to gift to their sister on her birthday! It touches me that our children always do that!
276. the calendar filling up a bit more as spring approaches
277. my husband who works long hours to provide for us
278. my husband who provides more than just money to pay the bills, but an example of hard-working responsibility
279. my husband who continues to tell me I'm cute
280. my husband who doesn't have anything to prove on Valentine's Day, because I already know that he loves me, every day, even on an off day, I still know it

Thank you, Precious Lord, for the many gifts You have seen fit to give to me, today, and every day. All I have to give back to You is my thanks, and my life, and my love- here they are, they're Yours.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Cold Hard Truth About Me and Minnesota Winters

If the truth be told, and it should be, I hate winter. Hate is a strong word, and I often caution my kids that they shouldn't just throw that word around carelessly, but I do. I hate winter. Usually.

I was born and raised right here in the Frozen Tundra. I have borne each of my children here and am currently raising them here, here in the cold and snowy state of Minnesnowta.

I detest being cold, though I do love a cozy sweater and I adore wearing knee-highs. Cold makes me tense, literally. My shoulders tense up and it moves up my neck. I have "a bad neck", so extra tension means extra pain, which often creeps right up to the base of my skull and beyond, leaving me with chronic severe headaches. Cold is not my friend.

I also despise the days and days and sometimes weeks and weeks with no sun. Cold and gray is an unpleasant mix which leaves me feeling sad and sluggish and a bit dull in the head. I require full-spectrum bulbs, vitamin D supplementation, and plenty of coffee.
I have been known to have some fun out in the snow, (though I would much rather be basking in some warm sun)- I used to downhill ski. I have enjoyed some cross-country skiing. I love a good sledding outing. I even managed to get out for a wintry walk this year. Like many Minnesotans, I grew up with a snowmobiling Dad, and will admit to enjoying the ride enough not to mind the fuel smell we walk in wearing when we're done. For a few minutes, then I mind. Unlike many Minnesotans, I have not, however, gone ice fishing, and I don't ever plan on doing so.

Living in Minnesota while not liking winter means that in this land of 2 seasons (winter and road construction), I would actually rather be stuck in slow traffic in a congested construction area than cold and surrounded by snow. I would. It's sad. I know.

Most of my children are much heartier than me and seem to be impervious to cold. That makes me happy. I adore their pink noses and cheeks. A pink (and often dripping) nose on my face is far less endearing. Trust me.

All that being said, even I have to admit that sometimes winter in this Frozen Tundra can be beautiful. Breathtaking. Amazing. Don't you think so?

A day like this now and then makes it a little more bearable... and then I wish it would all melt into spring.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Is For Again

"Read it again"
"Sing it again"
"Do it again"
"Can we play it again?"
Just as the sun keeps rising and setting , over and over again, day after day, so does a Mother the same thing, again and again and again.

Wash the dishes and the clothes.
Buy, cook, and serve, food prepared in love.
Change the diapers.
Tie the shoes.
Get the crayons.
Adore the pictures.
Brush out her snarls.
Get some more milk.
Wipe the faces and wash the hands.
Sing sweetly the songs of childhood- Twinkle, Twinkle, the ABC's, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, Jesus Loves Me, Amazing Grace, the list goes on and grows as they do...
We do it all again and again and again.

Bake the cookies.
Wipe the noses.
Tuck in the shirts.
Help ease on the socks.
Find the shoes.
Step on the legos.
Smile at another colored picture.
Make the snack.
Pull back the covers and tuck into bed.
Soothe fevered brows.
Clean up the sick.
Wash the hair.
Iron the Sunday clothes, ok, well, sometimes...
We do it all again and again and again.

Dry the tears.
Apply the band-aids.
Say "don't touch", "put that down", "get off the table", and "careful!"
We do it all again and again and again.

They grow and they flourish and we smile. It's all worth it.

Yes, some day we will miss it, all of the agains, and our hearts full of memories will need to carry us on.

May my memories be of the more joy satisfying "yes, we can do it again" and "okay, one more time..." than the disappointing "no, not right now, maybe later". Eventually, there will be no more later, that's when I'll miss it.
Tonight, I'll Mother with intention, again.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oral Steroids to the Rescue Again

I heard her sniffle.

"Mom, my eyes are watering, and my throat hurts."

Another sniffle, and a little cough, not a concerning cough, but then, when your child has asthma, isn't every cough concerning? They have become so, at least with this child. When she coughs, I listen, with my ear on her chest and back, and often with a stethoscope.

Sometimes it's nothing, and sometimes it's asthma. Sometimes there's a whistly wheeze, sometimes there's a crackle, often there is noise other than the simple rush of air I wish to hear.

The runny nose and watery eyes called for some Benedryl. At the first sign of the tickly cough, the Albuterol came out. Every 4 hrs is the standard protocol.

9 am on Sunday morning, she 'had a neb' before we left for church. Her next one was at 1pm, and all seemed relatively ok, except for the cough, it sounded more productive. By 3 (only 2 hrs) she needed another breathing treatment, as her coughing increased and her O2 level began dropping through the 90's. Below 95 is not-so-hot, below 92 for any length of time is not good, that has been the benchmark stat that her docs have told us is when she needs to get in on O2.

By 5 she was at 90%, another neb. She dipped to 89%, and got a second one, back-to-back. She lingered around 91-92%, borderline, but it was early, we've seen her drop her stats at night so many times.

More meds at 7 and again at 9, then she fell asleep on the couch, and dipped to 87%.

It was time to go in.

And it was snowing.

It ended up ok, one of those runs where the very act of getting up and walking out in that cold air actually helped her O2 stat come up a bit by the time we got there. She dipped some after relaxing, but only to 91%, so the doc ordered yet another breathing treatment. She had also developed a fever over the course of Sunday evening, which could have meant virus (as opposed to just a typical asthma/allergy type of event) or that she was already developing pneumonia, which she has done rapidly so many times.

Thankfully, her x-ray was clear! Beautiful lungs, and no antibiotics. She is, however, on yet another oral steroid 'burst', never my favorite, but, as I've grown rather fond of saying "a girl's gotta breathe"...

She was not admitted that night (thank you, Lord!), instead I drove home on a snowy night, oh so tired and barely able to see the road in front of me. The snow stuck to the road and I could see no lane markings. My only landmark on that pavement was the little bumpy grooves in the center that make your car rattle when you drift across the lanes... I was thankful it was after 1am and there were few cars on that rural highway that night.

Monday was an ok day, with breathing treatment interruptions every 4 hrs, long nebs with 2 meds, and the steroid behaviors kicking in along with the desired respiratory effects. Tuesday was even better, though she had a few coughing fits that gave me pause...

Tuesday was busy, though we had to get those breathing treatments in between the work and play. Our oldest started a speech class with other homeschoolers, which looks like it will be an excellent addition to our lifestyle of learning. We also made a Target run to pick out a birthday gift or two or three for our 4 yr old who is about to turn 5. There was an abbreviated afternoon of school work before the cake baking, and then the cake eating began. Games were played (the classic Operation- love that game!) and new puppy toy was played with. Pictures were taken and a couple short videos captured. Bedtimes were pushed back for a night while busy children laughed extra long, extra hard, and extra loud- we can never leave out the loud part around here.

It never ceases to hit me, when the asthma rears its head, how blessed we are. We have meds, we have good hospitals, we have good doctors. It wasn't that long ago that a child with chronic breathing issues wouldn't have made it long. We are so lucky to have her, except that I don't really believe in luck. She is a gift from God, and every day with her is a gift from Him. One more reason to keep on keepin' on, to do my best by my children, and not take them for granted.

Today is day 4 of the oral steroid (that started Sunday night) and I do think we have this round under control. She will stay on her inhaled steroid for some time after the oral dose taper, probably until we have our next visit with her pulmonologist. Which reminds me, I need to schedule that for sometime in March, which seemed much further away back in the first week of December...

Mr. Extraordinary scored some tickets to a local event tonight and will be out on a free date night, enjoying a night on the town, while my youngest sister is in the throes of labor (unless it goes fast! pray for fast!) as she is scheduled to be induced to deliver their 2nd son later this morning. If any of you praying Mommas out there would take a moment to offer up a prayer on behalf of my baby sister and her baby, please know you're appreciated! If we time things right, or if she times things right, or if baby times things right, we won't be all that far from the hospital in the evening... maybe we can sneak in for a peak and some pics!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sweet Sounds of Mercy

I love the way she says "Otay".

If I could bottle it up, to sip from, to quench my thirst for joy on a day, down the road, when my Mothering seems dry, I would fill a pantry. And then I'd bottle some more.

It's a paradox really, that our little Mercy, the child who has challenged me the most, would be the one who can melt my heart with her cuteness the fastest and the most completely.

It's a bit like how the more I realize what a challenge I must be to Him, the sweeter His love is to me. I said a bit like, because the analogy doesn't exactly work. I'm not quite sure that my cuteness melts His heart the fastest (in fact, I rather doubt it, my cuteness isn't all that cute), but I can rest in the fact that cuteness or ugliness aside (and I do have my ugly days, don't we all? I sincerely hope I'm not the only one), His heart has already melted. His love has already been given.

"For Gos so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life"
John 3:16
He loved and He gave. That's my example. I love and I need to give- give my love, my patience (and some of His, for I never seem to have enough), my time, my forgiveness, grace, and mercy. I love and I need to give of myself, knowing that part of who they become will be because of who I am, just as part (oh, I hope most!) of who I become is because of who He is.

She is a petite pumpkin and has definitely been my lightest 3 yr old (we breed 'em big here). She makes the most of her size and continues to wrap her arms around me and hang on for a ride, and I let her. I keep her close, right where she needs to be for now, so that one day when she's ready to spread her little wings and fly, she will be better equipped to handle herself as she learns to handle the world around her.

Mothering is work, and when the work is extra hard, the rewards are extra sweet. Like the way she squeezes me and the way she says "Otay".


Monday, February 8, 2010

Multitude Monday 241-260

eta: 7 yr old seems to have been hit with a virus, causing her asthma to act up suddenly, 3 hrs in the ER and another round of steroids, no pneumonia- today we're thankful for no pneumonia!

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of
our thanksgiving. ~W.T. Purkiser
241. safety on snowy roads

242. a minute or 2 more daylight each day

243. feeling the spring fever coursing through my veins

244. leisure time with friends

245. excitement for my youngest sister, nearing the birth of her 2nd son

246. the well meaning "how are you?"s, the ones when dear women make eye contact, and really want to know

247. modern medicine, yet again helping our sweet daughter to breathe

248. Cheetos dust, on the youngest of hands and cheeks, even when it leaves its mark on my clothes, when it's on my baby, even that staining orange stuff is endearing

249. knowing he's my baby, even though he's a whopping 15 months old, he'll always be my baby, right?

250. another stirring message at church

251. a heart in a place and condition to be stirred

252. knowing it truly is in Him that I live and move and have my being

253. a heartfelt hug

254. a genuine smile

255. shared tears

256. another day to get up and try again

257. another daily list to work through

258. a few stolen moments to plan my week

259. new resolve

260. resting in the peace that truly does pass understanding


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Deep Thinking Is Not For Wimps

The problem with deep thinking is that you think deep thoughts, at least I do. Deep thoughts can be the thoughts that inspire. I love it when that happens. I wish all of my deep thoughts were like that. Other deep thoughts can unearth our deepest fears, our deepest feelings of inadequacy, and when those are the deep thoughts being thunk (I can make up words, this is my space, wait, I just looked it up, it's a word), it's so easy to be consumed with fear, anxiety, and utter hopelessness, at least it is for me.

What am I doing?
Why can't I get this right?
Are my efforts all in vain?
Are my words falling on deaf ears?
How many times am I going to make the same mistake?
What have I gotten myself into?
Am I really doing my best?
What if I'm not?
Maybe I'm really just lazy.
Maybe I don't have anything better in me to give.
Maybe it doesn't even matter.
Except, it does. It does matter. What I do matters. What I say matters. What I think matters. I am a Mother. I am shaping little lives, little hearts, little souls, all day, every day, no matter what I do. I can shape them poorly or I can shape them well. I can stand by and let the world shape them, and yet, if it happens on my watch, while they're under my roof and in my care, then it's really me shaping them, by merely allowing the world to shape them.

Passive parenting will not do.

I have never thought that it would, and yet, as I think about my days, I can find times and ways in which my actions betray a lack of purpose, a lack of intention. It's not my best, and while I know that no one can actually be their very best in every situation in every moment (I'm pretty sure the only man who ever did was Jesus, the rest of us are fallen), I still believe the best should be my goal. To do my best should still be my purpose, my intention. And it is.

Sometimes I just need to remind myself. Sometimes I just need a good cry, and then I need to pick myself up, dust myself off, maybe do a jumping jack or two to get the bloop pumping good and strong again, and then I need to get up and get back in the game, with renewed purposed, and reignited intentions. That's where I am this weekend.

I grew up always hearing that the Peace Corps was "the toughest job you'll ever love". I never volunteered with the Peace Corps, but I'm pretty sure that this job, Motherhood, is a tougher job, and no matter how much I may have loved time in the Peace Corps, I know I love Motherhood more.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Another Benefit of Relaxed Homeschooling

3 yr old little Sparkler informed me- "If I get my shoes on, then I won't have my boots on."

Very true. She is a bright one, I'm telling you.

Twinkler turns 5 next week, and as hard as I find that to believe, she keeps reminding me of how fast these little minds develop. She recalls most letter names and sounds and is starting to blend them, while Sparkler eagerly watches on.

I was a little worried that the age difference between Dazzle, who turned 7 in late November, and Twinkler was going to be a hurdle in our homeschooling. 27 months seemed a bit much to be able to work with them together, but it has turned out to be just right. He knew it would be. Dazzle is getting along just fine, she just moves at a different pace, her own pace. She is one of those kids that needs more repetition than the next kid, so repetition she gets. A lot. More than would be possible in most school settings. For her, perhaps more than any of our other children, learning at home in a relaxed environment has been more than a preference, it has been necessary, and such a blessing.

Our 3 younger girls sit together, and as I work with Twinkler on her ABC's and 123's, practicing the sounds and the mechanics of writing, Sparkler gets some early exposure, Dazzle gets some reinforcement, and I get a sense that everything is OK.

Wanna know what my favorite part of relaxed homeschooling is? The part where I get to be relaxed. I don't worry about what the curriculum schedule says. We are not necessarily behind, we are where we are, and we are almost always getting more out of where we are than if we had only spent 1 day, for 50 minutes, in that spot. Our children move on when they're ready, and when they do, they have a more solid foundation to build on than some minutes of fill-in-the-blank worksheets and a memorized date or 2. They have an understanding, and relaxing has been key to getting it.

And they have time to play! Like this afternoon, after the math and reading have been done, when some friends come up to visit and play in the snow- oh, yes, more snow!

Sparkler will be thrilled for another chance to wear her boots!
eta: She didn't even head out with the big kids today, but she loves her boots! They're girly-girl pink, what's not to love?

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