Thursday, September 26, 2013

Disgruntled Customer

I got to watch my friend's funeral today, thanks to modern technology.  

I couldn't help but wonder how many of the tears we shed at funerals are really about ourselves.

It is terrifying to think that we are so vulnerable and small, and that we could simply drop dead one day, with no warning, before our babies are grown and safely navigating the waters of the world.  

Listening to the commonly-spoken words of the pastor offered no comfort to me.  

"Jesus has conquered death."  Yeah, except no.  Because my friend is dead and her son doesn't have his mother any more.

"Your mom will be with you all the days of your life."  Yes, everything she imparted will be there, but there is still going to be a cavernous void where a loving mother should be.

"She is home where she belongs."  Yeah, except no.  Mothers belong with their babies.  Children need their parents.  Frankly, if I die before I get to see each of my children safely grown, I will be one seriously disgruntled customer!  I will not be home.  I will have been painfully severed from my home and my heart.  Honestly, I cannot imagine heaven being good enough to warrant calling me off the job of motherhood.  I am already doing what I was made for.  Eternity can wait for me.  I'll catch up eventually.

"She has started *her real life*"  Frankly, if someone were to tell my children that I've gotten to start my REAL life once I was removed from them, I would be pissed.  THIS IS MY REAL LIFE.  This is the life God gave me.  This is what I do.  It is real.  Really, really real.  And it matters.  It matters a lot.  The here and now is our space, people.  Why are we encouraged to think otherwise?

I think that, though well-meaning, so many of these sayings end up diminishing the incredible loss that people have experienced.

A child is now motherless.
A man is now a widower.
A sister has lost her sister.
Parents have buried their child.
Friends are left with a huge loss.

No talk of "our heavenly home" can diminish the depth of the loss.  I feel concerned that perhaps the children of dead parents hear these things and feel that their loss doesn't really count, in light of eternity.

Honestly, hearing cliches and platitudes at funerals make me think that if I die young I better DIY like I always do, because that's the way I roll.  "If you want something done right....."  Seriously....everyone would walk into my funeral and they'd get a big screen of ME telling them what I actually think.

Death stinks.

I have not had enough time.

At the very least, I want to finish the job with my kids.

I am a disgruntled customer.  I want my money back.

Heaven is great, but I would have rather been on the 90-year plan for getting here.

Now, if I do get to be on the 90-year plan, I'll be ready with a different message.  OK?

Sunday, September 15, 2013


After our terribly sad news of our friend's death, it felt even harder than usual to push on with school.  Particularly since we don't really want to be doing this type of school any more.

We had a gorgeous fall day.  While we had one child just about spitting nails over his Latin assignment, my husband whispered to me,

"What if we ditch school and go to the apple orchard?"

You're talking my language, honey!

We loaded everybody up and headed out.  

It felt great.  This is what life should look like.

Not crying over stinkin Latin.

Tomorrow we will "pay the price" for our day of fun and our busy/relaxing weekend.  I don't know if we will be able to get everything done.  -sigh-

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mothers: Love Your Kids With Wild Abandon.

Someone posted on facebook about her child losing a tooth.

Someone else responded that her child had just lost his first tooth.

She told how she had told him to wash it in a bowl of water, but the child had instead tried to wash it in the faucet, and the tooth had slipped away down the drain.  She proudly told how he had cried for two hours over his loss, and she had no sympathy for him whatsoever.  Instead, she made him write a letter of apology to the tooth fairy, saying he was sorry for disobeying his mother by not washing his tooth in a bowl.

My thoughts?  Not very charitable.  And they included a not nice word for the mom.

This mother was a major Ezzo/Babywise enthusiast back in the day when she was pregnant with her first child.  There was a lot of fallout in the relationships at our church due to that crap.

So it was not surprising to see that, just as she was taught to be disconnected, rigid, and cold with her babies, she continues to do the same with her children as they have grown.


Another friend on facebook was asking for suggestions of mean things she could do to her daughter to make her get up more quickly in the mornings.

Suggestions like: ice cubes, loud music, jumping on the bed, putting her hand in a bowl of warm water, strong lighting, etc.

This is a homeschool mother.  I assume they don't actually have an emergency need to get out the door by a certain time most days.

While many people gleefully added their cruel and rude suggestions to the list, I told her my belief:

For all of my parenting career I have held the belief that I want every day to end with peace and love and security, and I want every day to begin with the same.

Therefore, I have never been willing to have my children cry themselves to sleep, and I do not allow people to be rudely awakened in the mornings.

Amazingly, my older children have been able to get themselves up and out the door in the early mornings without any help from me at all.  The younger ones don't need to yet, but I trust that when the time comes, they will be able to as well.

My goal is for home to be a safe, loving place where people feel accepted and cared for.

Not everyone wakes easily in the morning.  Different ages and stages require different amounts of sleep.  Homeschooling allows us the freedom to be gentler most of the time, and that is a beautiful thing.  But even without homeschooling, you can allow people the opportunity to wake up in a way that isn't rude.

Children deserve our respect, just like everyone else does.  You wouldn't wake a visiting guest with an air horn or ice cubes.  Why treat your precious children this way?

Sadly, the ice-cube-wakeup-mom is also an Ezzo/Babywise supporter.


I strongly, STRONGLY believe that the way we approach welcoming pregnancy, birth, and nurturing our babies informs our parenting through all the ages.  Sure, you can make changes and improve (and don't we all need to, on some level?!).  But, the mother's heart (and father's heart) that you have for your children, and the relationships and trust (or lack of) and memories and goodwill are all forming the foundation of a lifetime (and for generations!) with your children.

My oldest child is 21.  I still see the power of the love and attachment between us in our relationship.  He has traveled around the country, lived away from home for quite awhile, paid his own bills, gotten good employment, and had healthy and successful relationships with others.  Extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, not letting him cry it out, not sending him away to school when he was young....none of these things seem to have done anything but build positive things.  He exhibits none of the nonsensical traits that people like the Ezzos warn will come of parenting with deep love and attachment.  I am seeing the positive results of loving with wild abandon, and choosing to not violate my own conscience in my parenting choices.

I'm on the tail end of my parenting journey now.  The "baby" is 10, and we'll be seeing 5 more of our chickadees flying from the nest on a regular basis over the next 8 years or so.  It is good to have so few regrets.  (and exactly -zero- of those regrets come from loving with wild abandon.  They come from the few times that I allowed someone else to sway me into something I knew instinctively was not right for us.)  I wish other parents could feel the same.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My friend died

My friend died last night.

It was sudden.  There was no warning.

I'm in shock.

Reminders of our mortality can be so harsh.

One of the things I am thinking about is:

If I knew I was living my last days, am I spending it as I would wish to be?

That's a tough question, because there is so much about going onward in our everyday lives that isn't necessarily charmed or inspired or especially meaningful.  We go to work to earn the paycheck to pay the bills.  We do the school to get the education to go forward from there.

This school year has already found me feeling at odds with what I feel I must do, and what I really want to do and feel would be better for us.  Today's news of the loss of my friend brings this to my mind again.  It makes my everyday life feel like a gamble:  If I stay the course, if I'm fortunate, eventually we will be through this season and free to do something that we'd rather be doing.  If I don't stay the course and jump ship now, some money would be "lost" but freedom would be gained.  It would also be unsettling for some of my kids, though also a blessed relief for others!

If I knew I was coming down the home stretch of my life right now, I like to think we'd ditch the schooling situation we're in and head to New England to see the fall leaves, and I'd spend time with the kids bundled up in cozy blankets around the living room while reading them Little Britches, Kildee House, and Sign of the Beaver.  We'd finally get around to having that Harry Potter movie marathon day, and the LOTR movie marathon day.  We'd play Guitar Hero, and I'd remember to buy the replacement Wii remotes.  We'd take a school day to go to the apple orchard and pick apples and buy cider to fill the downstairs fridge.  I'd have time to cook nicer meals, and we'd get out Gram's china plates and enjoy having everything look nice, and we'd talk around the table more.

Unfortunately, most of us can't really "live like there's no tomorrow."  If we did, tomorrow would eventually be a shambles.  I guess the trick is to find ways to continue to focus on the important things, to live with purpose, and to enjoy the blessings that we have all around us each day.

I know my friend would agree.  She was a really special person.  What a huge loss for all who knew her.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

10 years ago this is how I felt

When my kids were all fairly little and I had multiple babies, I had a vivid dream one night that I was driving across a bridge near our home, except I was trying to drive two cars simultaneously.  Of course I had all the kids with me.  The car with all the kids in it went over the bridge into the river below.  I went with it, and as the car was underwater I was wrestling to get car seats unbuckled and get kids to safety.  Some of the seats couldn't unbuckle for some reason, so then I somehow had the strength to just wrench the whole entire car seat up out of the car and bring it to the surface.  So, I single-handedly saved all six kids, got them to shore, and we sat there shivering til my husband arrived.  I told him what had happened and he was like, "Well, it's not really *that* big of a deal.  Let's just go home."

That pretty much sums up how I felt about my life at that time.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Missed Opportunity

"Any prayer requests?" was asked, almost as an afterthought at the end of our quick tutor meeting this morning before CC.

I don't think there has ever been an opportunity to share prayer requests before in any of these meetings, but today there was, and one person had one.

While setting up her classroom that morning she had received a call from her doctor's office, saying that they needed to follow up on a recent mammogram by getting additional images of one of her breasts.  While this may be totally routine and insignificant, it felt scary and threatening to this woman.

As she told us this and started to cry, I was kind of shocked to see that although all the caring women in the room were certainly looking sympathetic, nobody moved toward her.  Sure, the two gals sitting on either side of her started patting her arm or whatever.  But all I could think was


but nobody did.  (We prayed for her, but we didn't gather around her.)

And then I sat there questioning myself.  Most of the women in that room know her better than I do.  I wasn't sure if her personality is such that she would find a group hug helpful, or just opening a floodgate of tears right before she has to walk out to teach a class full of children.

I could understand so well that thing that people do when they don't know what to do when hard things are happening.  I was doing it.  And I did very little.  She sat and cried, and I felt like she must feel so alone, and nobody was making her feel safer or less alone.

So I learned another lesson today:  Taking action to show tangible evidence of care and concern will not be regretted.  Taking little or no action will be.

I wrote her an email this afternoon and told her that I'm sorry that I missed the opportunity to show her more clearly that I care.

Next time I hope to do better.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Many Varied Wishes

As I've recently had some time to spend on my various business ventures, I've been reminded of how much I enjoy it.  Like so many things in my world, when I'm *into* something, I'm really into it, and when I'm not, I'm not.  (As in, sometimes I can barely remember why I was ever doing that other thing in the first place.)  Stuff that is on my front burner is often really important to me and making me happy in some way.  And stuff that is on the back burner?  I don't even remember to look.

So, good news!  I like what I do.

Here's the catch: I like to do lots of things.

Tonite we picked a laundry basket-full of June apples.  They are sitting in my kitchen now, smelling lovely, politely waiting to be turned into applesauce and juice.  Maybe tomorrow, I think to myself.  Though I didn't get any business work done today, so how can I let tomorrow go, too?

My mom tells me that there are zillions of wild blackberries all along the creek at her house, almost ready to be picked.  While blackberries are not my very favorite, how could I turn down the opportunity for FREE, ORGANIC berries of any sort?!  I can't.  That's what.  So I have no idea when I actually have time for this, but someday soon we are going to get our Snake Boots* on, gather up our buckets, and go get us some berries!

Some days I feel like I could happily spend my time baking, picking apples, freezing and canning food, and staying otherwise occupied in home and hearth activities.

Other days I feel like I want to go back to using Sonlight and reading books to my kids every day.  (and while away from CC I have a hard time remember what I love about it.  Thankfully I *can* remember that I do think it is a great program, and have decided to just stop arguing with myself about it since we're all paid up for the coming year and that's what we'll be doing. Right now I feel like I will be going through the school year with a critical eye of evaluation on everything, cataloging it away for future decision making.)

I'd like to curl up with some good books and have days and days and weeks and weeks to read.  I'd stay in my bathroom and never wear a bra.

I'd like to stay up late, take liberal naps, and sleep in every day til whenever I wake up.  I'd like to have the freedom to completely screw up my sleep schedule, never need to make my hair look presentable, and rarely leave the house.  I have an eccentric hermit fantasy inside of me, yes I do.  Maybe one day.....

*why Snake Boots?  Because they don't call it Copper Creek for nothing!
**Am I scared of the snakes?  Yes.  But I think if we mow the area first, watch where we're stepping, and bang around some sticks or something, we should be ok.
***I am becoming concerned that we might be risking our lives for berries.  Which seems stupid.  (How much are the organic berries at Trader Joe's???)
****Now I am re-thinking the entire venture.  Hmmm.......Doesn't really seem worth it, does it?  Assessing risk vs. benefit....

Sunday, July 07, 2013

The Trials and Tribulations of Getting Out The Door To Church

Attempting to go to our regular church this morning.  Already have been faced with:

--"I can't find a shirt and my brother is being too bratty to let me borrow one of his."  (from the child that can't seem to get the hang of washing his laundry when he's out of clean, seasonally-appropriate clothes)

--"I don't have any other pants to wear, except these here with the hole across the knee."  (Apparently we are castaways)

--"I'm stinky and need a too-long bath."  (from the kid who never wants to take a bath, but this morning decides he must)

--"Ninnies!"  (said by me, to children who are behaving as if they have never had to gird up their loins and leave this homestead before)

--The Barrette That Won't Stay Clipped, plus The Hair That Doesn't Look Nice  (from the woman who stayed up past midnight in order to *do* her hair so it would look decent in the morning so she could be ready to leave without a fuss about hair.  Now, Plan B does not want to cooperate.  Of course.)

I can tell you that none of this would be an issue if we were staying home.

But, alas.....9 minutes til departure.....

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Little Bit Down

It has been about three weeks since the kiddos left.  I have done my best to put myself in a position where I could let go and move forward.

Unfortunately, today I got thrown off-balance a bit when my mom told me that she had been chatting with her sister (their grandmother, where they went to live) and was told a few things that were upsetting/disappointing to hear.  It gave me the strong impression that my concerns and reservations about this sudden re-interest in them having the kids back might not be for the best.  Already there is conflict between the grandparents about things like putting in the effort to take the children to activities, and there is also some flim-flam going on where the children may be allowed to go with their mother for an extended period of time, which I was told would "never happen."  If they have only been back less than a month and there is already insufficient motivation to drive kids to VBS or to keep them safely away from negligent compulsive liar criminals and drug addicts, then I just do not know how this can go well in the long run.

Very hard to hear.

I asked my mom to please just not even tell me stuff like that any more.  It's too upsetting.

Monday, June 24, 2013

I Quaked Today

I visited a Quaker meeting today.

This meeting was the unprogrammed sort, which means that there is no music, no sermon, no agenda.  Instead there is silence until someone feels like they have something they should share with the group.  (and if nobody shares, everybody sits in silence for the hour)

So, imagine a circle of chairs, with 12 adults sitting quietly, many with eyes closed. They sit and breathe and pray or think or meditate for an hour.  (I think some people fall asleep too....)

Two people spoke in the group, each for maybe 2 or 3 minutes.  Both said things that resonated with me.  The distillation of what I got from these two things was the challenge and beauty of learning to love without control.  Since much of the past 7 months of my life has been strongly themed with the words "I don't know" so I could very much appreciate this message and what it means to live it.  I have gotten rather comfortable with loving and living without knowing or expecting a particular outcome.  I have been continuously put into a position of open heart, open hands, and waiting.  It has been hard and it has been good.

I gave personal meditation a brief attempt back many months ago, but let go of trying once the new kiddos came to us.  Sitting for an hour of silence made me think it would be worth getting into again.  Whether I do or not, I can see that there could be benefits to removing myself from the noise of life to slow all the way down to silence and peace for an hour.  I can see how this could be part of an actual day of rest.

Yes, I guess I could be silent at home, but I do not think I would.  There is that pressure within the group to be still and quiet.  No phone-checking, no getting a mint out of my purse.  I can't replicate that at home.

I enjoyed being in a service where I wasn't having any reason to mentally push back at anything.  At our regular church I have an internal dialogue going the whole time, and in reflecting today I realized that it's a lot of negative.  I'm usually unhappy with the music, disliking feeling pushed to socialize with people in a way that seems too surface-y to be enjoyable, disagreeing or disliking the sermon, and whatever else.  So it was nice to instead be listening to chirping birds, seeing trees and plants swaying in the breeze, and just chilling out.  I will admit that I had a Macklemore song running through my head almost all of the time (despite the fact that I purposely didn't listen to the radio at all on my drive), so there was that weird thing, but I just accepted it and carried on.

After the hour was done, the children and teens returned to the meeting room and then everyone went around and introduced themselves, and some shared something about their week.  It was very pleasant.  There were also announcements, all of which were given in a way that felt unique in language and delivery, and all of it came across as very peaceful, non-pushy, open-spirited, and relaxed.  It was nice.

I liked it that it seemed like nobody had to stress to prepare much for the meeting.  Surely there were people who cleaned, prepared coffee, and planned for the children's meeting, plus undoubtedly other things I'm unaware of.  But there was also no sermon, no music, no usher schedule, no nursery workers.  It was a level of peace and relaxation that seemed sustainable.  That was nice to see.

From what I have been reading, it appears that Quakers vary some in their beliefs and practices, but that a large part of what they believe is that God is at work in each person, and will speak to that person and guide and direct them personally.  So, there doesn't seem to be a strong need to teach, direct, sermonize, or in other ways get the group to conform to a particular set of beliefs.  It seems that there is trust that God is at work and the individual can respond and live according to that and their conscience.  I'm sure the community probably plays a role in encouraging discernment, etc. as well.  Apparently there are opportunities for actual discussions as well as just silence.  It is appealing to me to be in a community that has that level of trust in God at work.  For years now my beliefs have shifted away from what most mainstream evangelical denominations teach, and so I have been sitting there disagreeing with a lot of what has been said in church.  It is nice to imagine a scenario where I can feel more like I fit in with what's already been happening--I live according to my beliefs, and continue to learn and grow.  I have long since passed any need to convince others of anything, and indeed I don't even care to discuss my beliefs.  I know what they are and that's been enough for me.

It was a positive experience today.  I am still processing it.  I don't know yet if I will go back.  I am not sure that the rest of my family will be open to trying it out.  I am still doing a lot of thinking about what we need and what makes sense for me and my family right now.  I'm not sure that I would continue to be willing to drive a half hour to sit in silence for an hour.  I don't know if it makes sense to make new connections with another church group that is also impractical in distance.  (Right now all 3 of my church options are 30 minutes away, each in a different direction.)    I also asked myself today why I felt the need to keep trying to find something, when I already know that my husband and I both feel almost entirely *fabulous* about staying at home on Sunday mornings.  (The only non-fabulous part is the niggling question of whether we are doing the right thing for our kids. Other than that, taking Sundays off has been wonderful for us and we have no regrets.)  My friend that I go walking with said something to me the other day that simply reminded me that it has only been a few weeks since the kids left, and we are still walking out my husband's recovery from his heart surgery.  She was pointing out that there is probably still a lot of recovery to go for me and all of us, and I'm sure that's true.  So maybe expecting to have answers and not feel like we need a Sunday rest is unrealistic.  Certainly worth considering.  Of course, the thing is, this summer break is as relaxed as we will be....until next summer break!  Once school starts and marching band starts and basketball starts, Sundays will quite literally be the only days that we have for R&R.  So, if we aren't going now, I don't see much chance that we'll go then either.

All points to ponder for another day.  I'm satisfied that I woke up with enough time to get to the Quaker Friends meeting today and that I had a new experience and a small adventure.  I enjoy having new and interesting things to think and learn about.  It is an inexpensive form of entertainment and is life-enhancing.  :)

Monday, June 17, 2013


It has been about two weeks since the kiddos left, and in that two weeks I have been kind of detoxing/shaking-it-out/recovering from all of my emotions and exhaustion that accompanied the experience.  For the most part, it has been mostly self- (and family-) preservation, but not that much sad stuff.

And then today it happened--I was going through some of my pictures on my computer, and there were their super cute faces, and I remembered sweet and good things and moments of grace that encouraged me, and I felt pangs of sadness and loss.

My little cuties!  
They were here, and now they are gone.  

I love them. 
I cared for them. 
I tried so hard.  
And they were taken away, lifted from my arms.  

I knew that sooner or later the sadness would come.  And here it is.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I Don't Want To Go To Church, part 2

I was brought up going to various evangelical churches, and that is what I have continued to do as an adult.  However, I find that I have an increasingly wide distance between my beliefs/practices and those of my church.  This has left me wondering what churches I might actually line up with in beliefs.  It seems like the Episcopal church might be a fit of some sort, but I am skeptical about whether or not I will even care to attend a church that I do agree with.  I've always been an independent thinker and a person that has no problem with standing alone.  It is not important to me to be surrounded by people who agree with me.  In fact, I don't even care to discuss most of these issues.  I feel comfortable with my beliefs, they make sense to me; when I want to learn more or be challenged I read a book on the subject, and in the meantime I live my life without needing to advertise everything going on in my head. I'm not sure that I even feel a need to invest my time, money, or energy into any church at this time.  I think that life is so very, very full already, it just seems sensible to focus on those things that are in front of me and carry on.  I'm tired, and so is everybody else in this family.  Are we somehow obligated to keep pushing ourselves for some church-y cause?  If so, says who?

I do ask myself, from time to time, if there is value in removing oneself from the regular daily life and become immersed in something spiritual.  I suppose the answer could be yes.

When I read about the church schedule that some of my Orthodox friends follow, I find myself feeling very turned off.  There is -nothing- in me that would want to run my life around church, church, church, and more church. It sounds exhausting and brutal and as if it would take the place of much of the home and family life that I value so highly.  I accept that this may be beautiful and deeply meaningful for many people. I also accept that I am probably not one of them.

We have enjoyed some home groups over the years.  When we were first married we had a group in our neighborhood that met.  In nice weather we pulled lawn chairs out into the lawn, sat in a circle, and had an informal church experience that was really nice.  We've been in some good groups and some less-serious groups as well.  Connecting with people like that, and having a discussion atmosphere has been satisfying in many ways.  However, having evolved quite a bit in my beliefs, I'm not sure what group I'd fit into any more.  And like I said, I'm not sure I feel the need for one.

Mainly I'm concerned that my kids get what they need, and a growing part of me suspects that this is one of those questions that will only be answered in retrospect.  Church will always be there, I suppose, and I do believe that God is capable of doing His work in spite of my mistakes or shortcomings.  That's a bottom-line comfort.

I Don't Want To Go To Church, part 1

I don't want to go to church.

There.  I said it.

This isn't really a new revelation.  Other than a few scattered years when we went to churches that we (temporarily) really, really enjoyed, or when our kids actually liked to go to church, the rest of our 22 years of marriage have mostly been with us being maybe half-time church attenders, if that.

I don't have a chip on my shoulder about church.

Nobody hurt my feelings, offended me, made me feel judged, or seemed like a hypocrite.

I just don't see the value in it.

Every week when we go to church this is what happens:

-We all drag out of bed when we don't want to (often on our only possible day that we could have slept in and rested).

-We struggle to hurry up.

-The kids complain (because they don't like going to church either....and our church considers itself to be really *fun* for kids.  ha)

-We drive a half hour to get there.  The music is disappointing.  The kids go to classes that they don't enjoy.  We see some people we like, though mostly I feel like it doesn't really matter if we show up or not.  We hear a sermon which is practical, but often very much like a self-help article that is not nearly as enriching as something I could have read in my Oprah magazine at home.  We drive back home, or go buy pizza and then drive back home.  And it feels like the day has been rushed and pushed and not nice.

Why do we bother?

I like our pastor.  He is a good guy with good ideas and I enjoy his talks.

We have some really high-quality people in our church that are very nice to be around.

I trust the adults that work with our youth group.

There really isn't anything "bad" going on.

I just don't care.  There just isn't enough there to make me want to go more than I want to stay at home.

If we're honest with ourselves, nobody at my house wants to go to church.  Ever.

So, why fight it?

And why is the "correct" answer among today's church-going people that we should busy ourselves with going to church and keeping the church machine running, instead of things like having a day of rest, that was apparently considered a priority from the beginning of the earth, before church existed?

I do not see my kids getting anything super great out of church attendance.  Indeed, though I was raised in churches that did encourage me to memorize Bible verses and the Romans Road and such, I mainly credited my growing Christian faith on the good stuff I got from my Christian school that I attended.  Call me crazy, but I sort of think they will benefit more from what we are living, what we are talking about, how we are treating people, etc. rather than being stuck in classes that leave them tuned-out.

My idea is that church should be some sort of catalyst in my spiritual life.  I don't think that has really been the case, though.

Other possibly good reasons to go to church:  corporate worship (which is also super disappointing at our current church, and is so distractingly bad that I cannot get past it), and fellowship with other Christians.  I can sing along to KLOVE in the car for a better worship time any day of the week, and feel that I make zero meaningful connections with anyone while I'm at church.  So....there's that.

And lest I be accused to only being concerned with myself, I will also add that I do not believe that God is really concerned about where I'm spending time on Sunday mornings either.  What good does it do God for me to drive over to church to endure it for an hour?

Sorry.  I'm not drinking it.

If I didn't have still-young kids, I wouldn't even consider going to church at all.  It is only my parental responsibility that right now makes me grapple with this at all.  I do wonder if a decent family devotional would be an improvement over whatever it is that they do in their classes at church.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A letter to myself

Tonite I wrote out a bunch of ugly, hard, junky stuff that I'm feeling about all the things that have been going on inside of me.  I let it out even though I felt like I might hate to read it in the future.

And then I thought about the compassion I deserve, and I decided to write myself a letter, from a friend, to a friend.  In it I said everything that I would say to any other friend, even while knowing all the gunky and complicated crap that goes along with being on the inside of it.

I said all of the positive and admiring things that nobody else has said to me while I've weathered both the two-extra-kids thing and the my-husband-is-having-open-heart-surgery thing.  I said all of it, because I know it's all true.  I showed up fully for two incredibly difficult assignments that ended up running simultaneously, and I knocked them both out of the park.  

So what if it wasn't all perfect?  Who could expect that?  I am proud of myself and I am at peace with the full range of emotions I have and am continuing to experience about all of this.  

It's good to have a friend in myself.  And I'm not even joking when I say that.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: Mother's Day

Tis the season when we see many article decrying the way Mother's Day is handled, and how it hurts those who have lost children, who haven't been able to have children, and so forth.  While I certainly can appreciate this and would hope that churches and other organizations could learn ways to somehow be more inclusive and less upsetting to these women, I have a few feelings about this myself.

For years I have attended a church that does nothing for Mother's Day.  No mention.  No carnations.  No honoring.  Nothing.

And you know what?  It hurt.

I'm a mother of six children.  I have busted my butt for over 20 years to do my job as a mother and do it well.  I have sacrificed greatly in order to take care of my children in a way that seems right to me.

So now I'm supposed to feel bad if my church honors me in some way on Mother's Day?  My church is supposed to feel bad if they want to honor moms and dads on their respective holidays? Does everyone else's loss negate my turn at having something?

And it's not just me that I'm talking about.

I think of my friends who planned carefully for the right time to have a baby, then lost their first baby to a miscarriage that rocked their world. These sweet and lovable people had pretty much everybody that knows them cheering them on as they finally did have a precious baby boy.  I know I am not the only person at church that has cried a little while seeing this couple snuggle and love their little son.  Other than myself, I can't think of a couple I was more excited to see have a baby. This woman deserves the fullness of her Mother's Day, not to have it quietly swept under the rug because someone else might be reminded of their pain.

Motherhood is part pain for all of us.
It may be a struggle to get or stay pregnant.
Many of us have lost babies to miscarriage and stillbirth and illnesses and accidents.
We all have pain to bring our children into the world, whether through our bodies or through even more difficult channels, such as adoption.
Many suffer to breastfeed, or to not, the sleepless nights, the broken hearts (both ours and our children's), the injuries, the hospitalizations, the difficult choices about their educational paths and their futures.
We. All. Have. Pain. related to our journey as women and mothers.  Life is beautiful and life is painful. They go hand-in-hand.

Can we not celebrate and honor those that have something to celebrate and honor?  Do those that have emerged from some pain to have children to show for it also have to give up having some special treatment because someone else is sad?  Can we mothers not even have one stinking day a year where society says, "Way to go!  We could not do it without you!  You are so important to us!"without having someone else make us feel like we have to give something up for someone else?

Yes, I do think that there is a way to both honor mothers as well as not hurt those for whom motherhood is a painful subject.  I'm just tired of seeing so much about Mother's Day turned into a focus that leaves out all the women who do have children.

Completely politically incorrect, I'm sure.  For better or worse.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: A life without myself?

I've been thinking lately about this strange and wonderful trip we call motherhood.

I don't have to list all of the ways that it has been wonderful.  That much should be obvious.

The strange part is that I find myself looking around, 20 years into my motherhood journey, wondering where is the space for ME in my life.

There are 8 more years til my youngest is an official adult, and realistically there will be several more years beyond that where I will be needed as mom.

I look at the things I have spent my life doing for 20 years, and by and large it is all about my children (and husband, to a lesser degree).  Yes, I've had my business ventures, and I'm thankful for that.  But even business is largely impacted and constrained by motherhood and family priorities.  The almost imperceptible growth is all about motherhood.

I know that some women manage to keep themselves in a starring role even while being a mother.  I, however, have not.

I'm looking toward the next decade, both in anticipation of enjoying the final push of my mothering years with my children, but also wondering how I could better take care of myself and make space for myself to do some of the things that I would like to do.  It has been so long since what I would like to do has even mattered, I'm not even sure what that is.  I was watching a video with the kids today.  It was about throwing pottery on a wheel.  It looks so appealing, I found myself wondering if I could take a pottery class somewhere, and then of course How would I have time for this? and on and on with the regular objections that accompany all non-essential possibilities.

I have made a start.  I booked a reservation to go away and visit with a friend.  More daring:  I have only met her in person once, and then have been facebook friends ever since.  She is always posting interesting things and I found myself thinking that she would be a cool person to go hang out with.  I told her so, she thought it was a great idea, and now here we are with a trip planned for the end of June.

I'm hoping to make myself more of a priority.  I'm not sure that 30 years of living in mom-mode only is good for any of us.

And, yes, I realize that this is in contrast to my recent posts about wanting to take time to smell the roses with my kids, about my enthusiasm for upcoming homeschooling opportunities, and about my desire to pour out my best upon my family.  That's the funny thing about motherhood.  I love it deeply and fully, but I am also needing some space to fill myself back up so I can keep giving, and also so I am not overwhelmed by the demands and sometimes smothering aspects of  constant service to others.  I do not need a lot, but I do have needs.  What can I say?  I want more.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Homeschool Wishes and Dreams

I am looking forward to continuing to homeschool my boys.  I have been reading The Writer's Jungle and am feeling very inspired.

Now that we have done one year of Challenge A, I feel like I have some better ideas of how to help my next Challenge A student do well with it.

I am dreaming and wishing to do so many things with them:

Art projects (I discovered while tutoring that I was actually capable of leading cool art projects and creating cool art!  Now I'd really like to do more.)

Real music and art appreciation

Writing in many ways, using the Brave Writer ideas as well as some IEW methodology

Reading:  Once we started with CC two years ago we stopped doing Sonlight.  I miss the books and would like to get back to reading to them.  There are some wonderful books that I read with my older kids but the youngers would not remember.  Kildee House, Sign of the Beaver, and others keep calling to me.

Discussions:  There are so many books that I would like to read through and discuss with my boys.  I have The Fallacy Detective on the shelf (where it has been for years, unopened) and it seems like it would be interesting to work through with them.  Devotionals, skills, ideas--they are all getting old enough to have some pretty cool conversations with.  It's exciting!

Going places:  We have a very energy efficient car that I can fit into with my four boys, so that makes going on interesting field trips less daunting.  We haven't done much this past year for educational outings.  I would like to revive that.

Better at CC stuff:  I am understanding more ways to help us gain skills that we work on in CC and will help us in future endeavors.  Blob mapping and better memorization skills will hopefully be coming up next year.

It is fun to think about all of the possibilities.  I am hoping that I can map out a (somewhat) realistic plan that we can accomplish in the coming school year.  And, heck--even if I only get some of the stuff done, it is fun to think about, some can spill over to the next year, and life will continue to take shape.  It's all good stuff.

1 Minute Memoir: Mission Accomplished

My Don't Hurry, Don't Worry day was a success.

I don't think I got to sit outside and enjoy the breeze, but everything else that I wished for did happen.

When was the last time I can remember doing almost everything on my To Do list?  Too long ago to remember.


5 Minute Memoir: Don't Worry, Don't Hurry

Several years ago I came up with this saying:

Don't worry, don't hurry.

I am hoping to live that today.

Yes, there is a lot to do, but it will all get done (or not) and life will go on.

I am going to

enjoy my kids

enjoy folding laundry

enjoy having some friends over for dinner

read some more of The Writer's Jungle (which is wonderful and inspiring)

take a shower and wash my hair and just enjoy it and not feel rushed about it

hand wash dishes (because the dishwasher has died) and just enjoy it

sit outside and feel the breeze on my skin (just did that last night and thought to myself that too often we discount the luxuries that nature provides!)

make homemade lasagne for dinner

do what I can and not worry about the rest.

It is going to be a beautiful day.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: Living It Well

I heard it again yesterday.

I was talking to a friend and we were discussing possible times to get together.  "Friday is a possibility for me," I offered.  She then launched into how crazy her Friday would be, since her two daughters would be attending their first prom.  Hair, nails, makeup, and special dresses would be taking up most of her time and attention that day.

And then she said it:  "I just wish it would all be over!  I'm so busy!  It's too much!"

I heard myself in that comment.  I mentioned that to her, too.  This thing that keeps happening to me, where life is going on in the form of birthdays, special events, holidays, concerts, games, and so on, and for some reason we keep finding ourselves feeling strung out, over-burdened, and too busy to be able to enjoy it.

We just want it over.

So we can get on with whatever all that other stuff is that isn't extra special.


I am wanting to find a way to make consistent space in my life for all of the special times.  I am sick of feeling like I just want to get this over about so many things.  My babies are growing up.  One is already out flying in the world, and the second one just turned 17.  The third one pointed out to me, just yesterday, that in a little over a year he'll be driving.  Heck, my 5th kiddo was just asking me, "So in 4 years I'll be driving, right?"  Um.....yes......

In the next 8 years I am going to have 5 children become adults.  I am suddenly in the final stretch.  I want it to count!  I want to live it all and not be so often overwhelmed and unprepared and run down by the demands of life.

We only get to do this life once.  I want to live mine well.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: A new lesson

Today I successfully pulled on my Big Girl Pants and stood up for myself.

I mentioned how put-upon I've been feeling.  Well, I had an "opportunity" to speak clearly about my needs in the situation.

It's funny how even when I'm being completely reasonable, it feels difficult to say no to someone.

Years ago I discovered a valuable thing:  Bad behavior thrives in situations where everybody will pretend it doesn't exist.  When you dare to call someone out on their bad behavior, so often they no longer have the balls to keep up with it.

I am wondering now if this put-upon thing is the same.  If people ask me for stuff that I don't want to do/feels unreasonable/is just too much for me to take on, if I tell them straight-up my limitations or problems with their request, will they try harder next time to think before asking?

I have read that saying about how we teach people how to treat us.  Obviously I have done a great job of teaching people that they can ask for anything without regard for anything else in my life.  I can no longer give to that level.  Time to teach a new lesson, I guess.

And I started today.

5 Minute Memoir: Work in Progress

It's a little bit amazing, I think, that for so many years I have been learning the lesson that I can trust my gut, and yet I am still learning this lesson.

One might think that I would have arrived by now.

The one thing I can say for myself about this particular case, is that I knew it was happening, but I was afraid to fully trust my gut.  I was so afraid and the stakes were so high that I kept going even though something inside of me said, "No!  Something isn't right!  Something doesn't make sense about this!  This is not going to end well!  You are going to get hurt!"

I have always tried to be a woman of conviction and a woman of my word.  If I commit to something, by crackie I mean to stick with it!  But this time it was almost as if I was having an out-of-body experience; an observer of myself.

On one side, everything seemed right.  The situation.  The prayer.  The opportunity.  The unity.  The answers outside of me kept saying yes, Yes!, YES!  It was as if a force was propelling us toward action.

Inside I felt alone with my questions and cautions and concerns.  I felt like maybe my gut instincts were broken, because I seemed to be the only one that was feeling the No!  Wait!  Caution!

I don't know.  Maybe it was all meant to be this way.  After all, there was earnest prayer, open-minded seeking of counsel, agreement with our path even from those that we did not expect to receive it from.  All of it brought us to today and to a strange and unexpected place.

Except that I knew.

I told my husband a few months ago that I felt something like this would happen.  I predicted it right now to the month.

I was scared to follow my gut all the way.

I am a work in progress.

Monday, April 29, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: Tired of Being Put Upon

I bend.

It must be obvious to everyone around me.

I have these people who don't hesitate to ask for more, impose, and smoosh themselves into the middle of my life without any regard for me or my life or my family.




always nibbling, biting, asking for more

And these aren't even the people that I'm actually responsible for!

For so long I have been in the habit of trying to be able to say yes, trying to accommodate, making a way to make others happy, finding a way to suck it up rather than tell someone else NO.

It's not good.

Something has to give, and it has to stop being me all the time.

New skills needed, pronto.

Side Trip

The children are leaving.

What can I say?

We got into this believing that nobody else was willing or able to do the job.

We felt that they were put into our path because we were meant to help them.

We did not know how it would all work, but doors opened, things happened, and then they were here with us.

And immediately there were unexpected boulders in our path.

First the sheer difficulty of behavior issues and exhaustion issues and mothering with hyper-vigilance that threatened my sanity.

Next the lawyer reversed every piece of advice she had given us to begin with.  If we had gotten her second round of advice, they never would have come to our house in the first place.  We grappled with the implications of what she was saying, consulted others, and decided to stay the course and follow through with what we told the children they could look forward to in the short term:  Staying with us, being homeschooled, and getting to be in basketball and cheerleading for the first time ever.

Then we found out my husband was sick.  And the lawyer quit on the same day.  That was a special day.

From there we plunged into a month of medical appointments, waiting for diagnoses, worries about lung cancer and lymphoma and open heart surgery.  And my husband took to his bed in exhaustion, fear, stress, and feeling ill.  I soldiered on with the homeschooling, the work, the teaching, and all of the children and their practices and games and meals and bedtimes.

Next, some answers:  A manageable lung condition.  Two in-patient surgical procedures needed.  Open heart surgery needed.

Homeschooling was largely put on hold for a few weeks while we prepared, had procedures and surgery, experienced an 8-day hospital stay, and then the long recovery.

Work was ramped up in a new way, intensifying life yet again.  I have had so many opportunities to ask myself, "How much more am I supposed to take?!"  The answer kept coming:  More.

And now things were starting to level out.  We are past the acute phase for recovery.  CC is done for the year.  Everybody is meshing pretty well.  My husband is about to go back to work.

And there it is:  Now the grandparents want the kids back.

Apparently in their time apart they have been able to reevaluate their level of desire and commitment to raise these children.  Suddenly, with no warning, there it is.

What can I say?  We aren't going to fight them over this.  We took the kids in believing that the grandparents were convinced that they could not do this job.  Now they say they can.



I feel like I have spent the past 5 months climbing Mt. Everest with a tribe of people on my back, and now that I have done the work and borne the burden, others are ready to swoop in and reap the benefits of my sacrifice.

Their grandfather has commented on how much improved their behavior is.  YES!  I want to scream now.  YES!  THEIR BEHAVIOR IS BETTER BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN BUSTING MY BUTT FOR MONTHS UNDOING THE CRAP BEHAVIOR THAT YOU AND YOUR WIFE GOT THEM STARTED WITH!

(I can't help but wonder how short a time it will take for them to revert back to business as usual.  Grrr...)

Well, there is a lot of emotion. Of course.  I could go on and on with ranting and raving and commentary and saying stuff that lets you know that I am sad, mad, offended, relieved, confused, hurt, and just plain exhausted of being used up on this mission. Some moments have me wanting to yell WHAT WAS IT ALL FOR?! 

Truth be told, everyone is going back to their regularly scheduled life.  We have lived this out, in all of its good, bad, sad, confusing, lovely, sweet, inspiring, exhausting, encouraging, discouraging, scary, tough reality.  

We did what we did.  We may never know what all the purposes were for us to have gone through this, but at the very least this is one more side trip in life that has taught us a lot of lessons, and that ain't no small thing.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: My Deepest Wish

Way back in 2003 I wrote the Mothering Manifesto I have included below.  It continues to beckon to me and be the cry of my heart.  So much has happened, I feel pulled out to sea.  The idea of being able to earnestly invest in my home and family, to the exclusion of everything else, sounds like an almost impossible dream.

As I examine my situation and the things I would like to disentangle myself from, but feel unable to part with, it always comes back to money.  I do not quit my job because we need the income.  I do not quit business ventures because we need the income and the potential they represent.

I do not know of any way out of this at this time.  I must do my best to find contentment within my situation, and to be aware of the dead weight in my schedule that I could continue to purge.  I do not know it will turn out or when I will make my way back to a more simplified life.  I am reminded that everything is a trade-off.  No job means less money, which means more work and more stress in other ways.  Get a job means some measure of financial ease, but then life has to accommodate the never-ending responsibility of the employment.

Ah, well, this is life.

"Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest: Homekeeping hearts are happiest..."
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."
~~Thomas Moore

"There should be a certain amount of order, because you cannot really rest in a disorderly place."

~~Elsie de Wolfe

"Take time for all things."--Benjamin Franklin

"He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home."
--Johann von Goethe

HOME should be the place where we love the most and love the best. Our FAMILY should get our best attention, love, support, and respect.

I want home to be the place we give our best. Our best love, our best energy, our best creativity, our best patience and attention. I want our home and family to be the recipient of my talents. I want to use my time wisely and pour out my BEST STUFF on my family and those I love in ways that will make a difference both in daily life and in the long run and in eternity. I want to drop the extra stuff and just concentrate on being the best I can be right here in my home and with my precious family.

What to do about the frustration of not being able to make very much progress? Well, let’s see….. Make a way! Be more creative. Ask hubby for help in figuring this out. Pray for the Lord to show me how I can improve. Stop telling myself that this is too hard. Start reminding myself of how much I LOVE MY FAMILY and then ACT on it! Turn my heart toward home!!

5 Minute Memoir: Wildly Subversive Thoughts

What if I could just

stay home

feed my children and husband

homeschool my kids

clean, organize, decorate, garden, and make a home...

and not blog about it

not instagram about it

not pinterest about it

not write a book about it

not teach anybody about it

not speak at retreats about it

not monetize it.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: An answer

After months of living in "I don't know" land, the end is in sight.

Yesterday was a tough day.  So many fears, feelings, and questions were in the forefront of my mind.

I journaled about it all, too vulnerable to share on the internet.

At bedtime I was gifted with a moment of grace that gave me hope and encouragement that I could carry on even through difficulties and unknowns.

And then moments later, there was the answer, in the form of a message.

I didn't see it coming, but there it was.

An answer.  A resolution.

It isn't an easy answer.  It is going to hurt some.  But it feels like the right answer.

I have learned some big lessons.  I have learned things about myself that I did not know.  I am both better and worse than I imagined I was.  It has been tough.

I am thankful to not feel in limbo any more.  I am thankful for an answer that feels ok and not like a disaster or a punishment.

Monday, April 22, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: Pruning

I recently watched a documentary called Back to Eden.  It's about gardening.  In it is mentioned that God prunes (cuts away) in order to have greater productivity, and that nature works the same way, though mathematically it seems as though it should not work.

I immediately thought about my life and wondered what I could prune.

I am over extended.

Too many things feel like they are dragging me down.

I feel tired and like life is not as enjoyable as it might have once been, or at least not as enjoyable as I would like it to be.

And so I am thinking about this and wondering what I could prune.  What things detract from the better stuff in life?  What things are weighing me down and don't deserve even a spot around my neck?

I have been making some lists.  I took one step today.  More will follow as clarity comes.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: I Don't Know

It seems that the most commonly uttered declaration I have used so far this year is

I Don't Know.

I didn't know what we were getting into with open heart surgery, a long hospital stay, and a very long recovery time.

I didn't have any frame of reference for what it would be like or how to plan or prepare for it.

I do not know when my husband will be all better.  I do not know when life will seem entirely normal again.  (whatever that would be)

The same is true with our situation with our new kids.

I do not know if we will get to adopt them.

I do not know if the damage done by the loss of their chance at ever living with their mom is greater or less than the damage done if they end up going back.

I do not know if broken hearts are greater or less terrible than broken homes or mental health issues or poverty or patterns of domestic violence.

I do not know if restoration to a very-much-less-than-ideal living situation is preferable to a much-more-ideal living situation, when it's the difference between getting what you think you want, and getting what others think you need.

There are so many things I do not know.  As I told some friends at church last week, this is free-falling with God.

My prayers contain very little by way of agenda.  Helpful friends will say, "I will be praying that you get to adopt them" and I always say, "Just pray that God will make a way for whatever He wants to have happen."  I do not know what that is.

Friday, April 05, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: Full Spectrum

My husband commented to me that I had been "growly" to him lately.

It's true.

There was the day that he placed a huge crock pot full of 3-day old non-refrigerated cooked beans on the deck and let the dogs eat them, and then left the house, and the dogs proceeded to come in and puke all over the floor.

And we were out of paper towels.

There was the day that I had to be gone til 4pm and asked him to pre-cook some chicken before I got home, and he assured me that he had it all under control, but then I got home and found that it wasn't cooked and the casserole that was to be made (for company!  for a birthday!) was set back by 30 or 40 minutes.

Yes, I was growly.  Sue me.

While it is true that I probably would not enjoy it if he growled at me for something I did, I feel like growling about bone-headed nonsense is a reasonable response.  Don't you?

I thought about how often I am reminded that people don't really want to deal with a full spectrum person.  Society tells us (especially women) all the time that there is an acceptable range of emotions, attitude, or responses that are ok.  If you step beyond that boundary, you are a bitch or irrational or have PMS and are to be ignored.

In talking to my daughter yesterday about a problem she had with a friend, it was revealed that she did not feel free to speak truthfully to this girl, even about something as simple as, "I would like it if you would not bring your TV and single-player video games to my house when you sleep over for my birthday."  She did not feel that she could tell her friend, "I would like to go out shopping with my mom alone."  She has learned what all of us learn--it is too risky to be honest.  People may ---e gads!--- think you are a *bitch* if you do not appease them.

Heaven help me break this cycle for my daughter!

I have sometimes had to remind my husband that if he wanted a robot for a wife, he made a wrong turn long ago.  You got yourself a full-spectrum woman here.  With the same voracity I can cook up the bacon, fry it up in a pan, bounce a baby on a hip, run a business, manage a home school, and never let you forget you're a man, among other things.  So, yes, after 4+ months of the pressure of trying to adjust to having new children, after 3+ months of caretaking and doing a huge, HUGE job while tending to a sick, in-hospital, recovering-open-heart-surgery-patient, YES it is true that some things may cause me to growl.  Yes, sure, it is not nice.  Because guess what--nice is not all I have to offer.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: Sentimentality

For years I have chafed at the poems, articles, and various confessionals written by parents who can't seem to cope with the fact that their children have grown up.  Just the other day I heard a poetry recitation on this subject that left me feeling like this is yet another area where a mother of many is different from others.  While a mother of two children that are just a few years apart will likely experience a sudden empty nest and a long wait until the chicks return to the nest with spouses and children of their own, the mother with six or eight children, spanning 10 or 14 years will not.  For this mother, one is an adult, employed, dealing with life's big questions and challenges, plus there are teenagers, pre-teens, and then little ones who still need help learning to read and do their math.  By the time the youngest one has flown the nest, I'll have children in their 30s.  I certainly do not expect to have an empty nest syndrome at any point in the next many decades, thanks to this.

Also, having had so many children, I feel like I have done every stage A Lot.  I do not cry over leaving the stages.  I did each one so many times and for so long that I have paid all my dues and don't have a whole lot of care when we move out of them.  Onward and upward!  Enjoy where they are at and don't be sad about what is done.

But every so often, like today when my daughter turns 17, and yesterday when my preemie turned 13, I get a little sentimental.  I think the one thing that does grab at my heart is when I think of them as little tykes, and although they have been transformed into older, bigger people, it feels like a loss.  It feels like that little cuddly stinker has dissolved into thin air.  I will admit, I get teary thinking about it.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: Full Heart

I got to snuggle with my new little guy for awhile tonite.  He was supposed to be getting into bed, but his roommate wasn't ready yet, and he came out into the living room with his blanket to tell me that he feels really lonely without someone in there with him.  He is often hesitant to let me hold him, so when I sensed an opportunity, I took it.  :)  I invited him up into my chair and onto my lap.  He jumped in right away and cuddled up with me so nicely.  We took a series of pictures together with my phone, too.  It was simple and really good.  Made me feel like a real mom to him, which is a good, good feeling.

Speaking of moms, their mom is supposedly coming to visit us soon.  She has not seen the children in 8-9 months.  Not only does she want to visit them, but she wants to finally meet us, see where we live, and talk about adoption plans. (Assuming she decides that things look good enough here for her to go through with it.)  It will be interesting to see how it goes and what happens.  I feel worried about the kids and how it will be for them.  They seem to be settling in so well here.  They call us mom and dad.  I feel like when their mom shows up they are going to not know what to call us in front of her.  They have been told for years that they would get to go back with their mom, which isn't likely to be possible anytime in the foreseeable future.  I hate to drag up a bunch of stuff for them.  Hopefully it won't be too rough.

This is an unusual and tricky situation as far as adoptions go.  After all the years of looking into adoption, this is one scenario I never expected to find myself in.  However, this family is in God's hands, so I will trust that it will all work out ok, one way or another.  For right now, I have peace in the midst of many unanswered questions and many unknowns.  Thank you, Lord, for that.  And for snuggling little boys that call me mom.

Monday, April 01, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: Good things

I have a job that allows me to still be with my kids, homeschool, plus help my children learn to serve and better understand a person with special needs.  This is cool and awesome and something to be really, really thankful for.  I don't know any other moms with lots of kids that can also do what I do.

Though we have ups and downs, I am having more days and moments of feeling more connected to and in love with my new kiddos.  This process of bonding to each other is not straightforward for any of us, but it is very encouraging to feel and see it happening.

CC has been great this year.  I have loved being a tutor.  I have loved the kids in my class.  I have gotten some really nice feedback from the kids and parents and I know that they appreciate what I do for them.  I know I'm doing a good job and that feels good.  Tomorrow I get to proof another Memory Master plus hopefully at least one more student for the Bible memory award.  Good stuff.

I bought a new globe for our home.  We had one years ago and it got trashed.  Globes are kinda pricey, yo, but I coughed up the funds and got one because I thought it was worthwhile and important. Already the kids are enjoying finding places that they have learned about this year.  We do a lot of map work in CC, but all of it is flat.  I'm happy to have a globular version of the earth to share with them as well.  :)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: Blessings

Tomorrow my mother-in-law is hosting dinner for the whole extended family in our area.  She is always willing to host, plan, cook, and clean up for these big events, and I sure do appreciate it.

I have two children with birthdays next week.  My preemie will turn 13, and my oldest daughter will turn 17.  As cliche as it sounds, it is hard to believe.

I had my husband by my side on this beautiful spring day while we hid dozens of Easter eggs for our children to find.  Two months ago he was just coming out of the post-surgery fog after having open heart surgery.  I remember feeling very alone at the time.  I am thankful that he is recovering so well.

7 of our kids hunted high and low through the yard to find eggs.  It was so nice that even my almost-17-year-old wanted to participate.  I am already thinking of ideas for a grown-up egg hunt for future years.  :)

My husband and I got to go out to buy some special cupcakes, some area rugs, and a few other items today.  We ended up stopping by my mom's house.  I am so thankful that she and her husband now live close enough for us to see them often and share support through all that life brings.  With new children, multiple surgeries, chemo, car accidents, and many other things going on between both households, support and comfort of family is a blessing.

Friday, March 29, 2013

5 Minute Memoir: Attitude

So I have been doing quite a bit of thinking about mindset and attitude lately.

Several things in my life can feel quite overwhelming, scary, and frustrating.  When I find myself getting upset and feeling down about it, I am reminded of the ideas presented in the book The Power of Now.  Is anything happening right now that is a problem?  Typically the answer is no.  Nothing is happening right now that is bad.  Most of what I am feeling upset by is the what-ifs.  I don't know what will happen in the future.  Some difficult stuff has happened in the past and maybe it will happen again.  Maybe it will be worse next time!  

When I feed those negative voices they grow in strength and soon they are strong enough to pull me down into a funk.

Mission:  To feed positive voices.  To starve negative voices.  To be more present and less worried about things that have happened in the past or might (or might not) happen in the future.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

5 Minute Memoir

Good things today:

1.  I actually read a book for pleasure today.  As so often happens, I randomly plucked a book off of my shelf and got into it, and serendipitously found that it addressed some of what's happening in my own life.  The message I got was a confirmation that I am not alone in feeling conflicted about some of the things in my life, that putting words to them is not shameful, and that feelings can grow and change.

2.  This children played well together today and were less clingy than some recent days.  It was a helpful respite from recent family dynamics.

Bad things today:

1.  My husband had made a crock pot full of soup beans a few days ago.  He forgot to put them away, so then they sat out.  His disposal method?  Set the crock of old beans on the deck.  Where the dogs would eat it.  And then they would vomit.  Repeatedly.  In the house.  And there were children waking up who didn't know what was going on, who would see the dogs by the back door and would let them back in, and then they would barf again.

And did I mention that we were out of paper towels?

This was not a nice way to start the day.  Though it is very nice that I now have several children who are old enough to clean up dog barf without assistance.

2.  One kid peed their bed last night, which resulted in quite a bit of laundry.  This kiddo needs to not only be reminded to pee before bedtime, but you actually have to stand outside the bathroom door to listen to be sure he actually goes.  Good times!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Radio silence ends.

In November we added two children to our family.

In January my husband had open heart surgery.

I am going to try writing for 5 minutes at a time, to get some stuff written down and see what happens.

I may only get around to doing it this once.

I have now wasted one minute of my 5.  So here are some random things I have to say:

Adding children to the family has been harder than expected.  I also did not expect to have this experience reveal so many areas of my character that need improvement.

Has it been a good thing?  Yes and no.  I don't know.  I think it's too early to tell.  It is hard.  Sometimes I think it is too hard.  Sometimes I think it is mostly hard in my mind, where I feel the burden of wondering where this will lead/what will happen/have we made the right choices/will everything be ok?

In reality, days go by and everything is ok.  

Compounding the experience of adjusting to new children with special needs while also having a husband with major surgery and a l-o-n-g recovery time certainly has multiplied the stress level way, way high.  I keep trying to encourage myself that we have been through an awful lot of wacky, stressful, intense stuff in the past 4+ months, so nothing is expected to have been easy.  It'll get better.  Or at least I hope so.

Time's up.