Monday, October 28, 2013

What Good Wives Don't Do...

We'd had another loooooooonnnnnnggggg Wednesday. My Man and I were sorta cuddled up on the couch decompressing after shooing the older kids off to bed. I was reviewing school plans for the following day and Darrin was alternatively texting a friend and attempting to read an article that he'd found in his Twitter feed. We'd turned the TV on for noise. You'd think we'd had enough noise for the day, but no, we were needing to fill our ears with pointless drama just to make our evening complete.

Soon, we'd provide our own pointless drama.

"Ahhhkkk," said my Man, disgusted and tapping his smart phone to no avail.

"What's wrong?"

"I lost this article I was reading through Twitter."

"Just go to Safari, maybe it's there."

My Man did not take my suggestion. He continued his Twitter torture.

"Really, honey, try going to the Safari app, it'll probably be there."

Again, he ignored me and continued on with Twitter.

"If you go to Safari, you'll get there faster."

Hufffffff. "I want to try this my way, OK?"

Hufffffffffffffffffff. Scooting to less cozy spot on couch. "You couldn't just appease me and do it my way?"

"Sure I could, but I'm gonna do it my way." Finds elusive article. Reads article. Turns my way.

"I'm off to bed. So beat. Long day." Leans in for good night kiss...receives instead THE LOOK.

"What on earth is the matter?"

Explanation of the issue and allllllllll related issues follows.

The sorting out of the matter took upwards of an hour. An hour that neither of us had the energy for. Truely it was worth digging down deep to discuss all of the finer points because it was of life changing import...cause you know it was over TWITTER and SMART phones and at that moment it involved two worn out tired sinners who really should have been grown up enough not to get into a fight that looked like something we'd refereed earlier in the day between OUR CHILDREN!

"Mom! He won't let me butter my own bread."

"She's doing it all wrong!"

"I know how to butter bread."

"She's not doing it right."

My Way. His Way. His Way. Your Way.

Really, the bread and butter fight made more sense, if only a little. (Who doesn't enjoy a nice clean, unplundered-by-the-plastic-knife-of-a-five-year-old tub o'butter? I fear I'll never know what that looks like!)

Later I wondered why oh WHY had I not just let it alone. Why did I need to even care which button my Man pressed on his very own phone? WHY did I persist way beyond the point of reason? Next time I'll do it better. Next time I'll just let it be even if I possess the very assistance he needs, I'll let him figure all of these new apps and screens and updates and bells and whistles out for himself. It is the best way to learn things...

Tonight the scene on our couch began to repeat itself...except it was no longer Wednesday night, it was Saturday night and we were not seated on the couch, we were at the table in the dining room working. OK, one of us was working. The other of us was trying not to get caught taking pictures.

"Ahhhhhhhkkkkkgggggg!" Click, click, snap, clop.

"What's wrong?"

With headphones in ears, "this sermon I'm listening to won't work." Clack, click, clop.

"Would you like help? (See what I did there?) Or can you handle your technology tonight on your own?"
Grinning..."I think I can handle this."

Crisis averted!

It was touch and go there for a moment, folks!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eleven Kinds of Crazy

"Molly, I brought your magazine, would you like me to hand it to you for the trip?"

"No, Mom, I'm already occupied back here."

We had piled into the family van to accompany my Man as he made a hospital visit late in the afternoon. He had been out of town for the weekend and we were riding along to make up for lost time. The plan was for my Man to make the visit and for the rest of us to wait for him in the car. Knowing the visit would be a lengthy one, we loaded up on activities (read: lots of books) to keep us occupied while we waited.

Outside of the facility we bid our fellow a fine farewell and settled into our reading material. Shortly a  voice in the back expressed an urgent need for a bathroom so, putting the van in drive, we drove straight to  happened upon the local donut shop where many pressing needs were met. As we scarfed down a half a dozen donuts we returned to the parking lot of the medical facility and recommenced our wait.

It was at about this time that Curious George almost became our undoing. Molly, deep into her kindergarten literature studies, has fallen in love with the ornery little monkey and the library's copy of the book came with not one but TWO audio CDs of the story which, under normal circumstances are quite charming.

Normal circumstances do not, however, include a car full of children coming off of a pumpkin cheese cake donut high, nor do they include two teenaged students who are trying to complete their assigned reading of Jane Eyre.  Eventually, Curious George became too much for the Jane Eyre crowd and they decided that a parking bumper in the lot outside of the car was preferable to the monkey noises coming from within.

Our waiting time counted upwards of an hour and when my Man returned to us, it seemed he had experienced as much adventure inside as we'd had outside. On the road again, we compared stories and shared a donut and continued onward to get a treat (read: slushies) at the nearby Sonic. There's nothing like placing an order for six cagey characters who've been cooped up for way too long.

It went something like this...

Darrin: OK, kids, be thinking about what you want.

From the back and simultaneously: I want a mango strawberry slushie. I want a peach vanilla. I'm gonna give raspberry another chance. Get me a strawberry with raspberry and make it a LARGE.

Darrin: Molly, you are not getting a large. (To the drive-thru speaker) Yes ma'am we're ready to order. I'd like a ...

Kate: Dad, I need to change my order.

Molly: Strawberry...large? Strawberry with mango...raspberry. Large.

Darrin: No large, Molly.

Me: I'll have a diet Coke with cranberry.

Darrin: Large?

Me: No, extra large...have 'em put it in a bucket please.

Kate: Strawberry with mango...medium. That's it...or not...make it mango with strawberry or strawberry, I think. with strawberry for sure.

Ordered and twitching, we stopped at a store to check out some fall clothes for yours truly.

With four kids and slushies... and me and my bucket. Who'd been sitting in a car for almost 2 hours. As dinnertime approached.

The crazy only you'd imagine.

At one point, I had become  smitten with a polka dotted sweater that I felt particularly spoke to my inner being. It needed non-baggy pants to go under it and so I was led (by my teenager) to the rack holding "modern skinny" corduroy pants.

With a shaking hand (and a hubby whispering in the background "those are gonna make you mad") I grabbed the biggest number that the rack had to offer and headed, with great trepidation, to the fitting room. There I discovered two things: first, that although the cords zipped and buttoned successfully they made me look neither modern nor skinny. In fact, there was a real danger of me starting a fire as I walked from the fitting room to model the ensemble.

Second, I was reminded that words intended for  praise can instead turn into quite the opposite even with the purist motive. As I walked from the fitting room clad in the sweater and cords my daughter said, "Wow Mom! They amazing! I'm shocked." We'd had a similar experience in a fitting room years earlier but that was when she was lots younger and cuter and when I too was lots younger and very tender and she'd loudly said, "I'm surprised those fit Mom, I'm surprised anything in this store fits you cause, you're FAT!"

Really, though, I'm over it. Honest.

I parted company with the cords and the sweater, and turned my sights on some "safer" selections and left the store with my family and my self esteem mostly intact. Mostly.

We returned to our home after a visit to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner where we polished off no less than 6 baskets of chips and three helpings of salsa and consumed our spicy entrees with sheer delight. We'd laughed, we'd fussed, we'd slushied, we'd shopped, we'd visited, and we'd read and had even been entertained for a while by a curious monkey.

Our day was eleven kinds of crazy and it won't even stand out in our collective memory as even close to the craziest. Could it be that crazy days like this one are becoming our normal way of life??

"Gretchen! Those modern skinny things aren't made for real women!"
~wise friend of Gretchen~

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I'll Scratch Your Back...

Learning to read is a difficult task. The further into the process a young reader progresses, the more difficult it grows. The words become longer, the vowels get a little squirrely, punctuation marks appear and must be heeded and then come all of those capital letters and words that sound nothing like the sum of their parts. It's enough to drive a five-year-old back to her recently forsaken naps.

As Molly gets into the more tedious portion of her reading lesson each day, her little hand works its way around to her back, just at her waist where she will begin to tug at the hem of her shirt. 

Often I am more focused on the page than on the student and I miss this signal, for that's exactly what it is. She is making sure that I know that the reading is getting more difficult and please, will I scratch her back to assist her in completing the challenge.

Often I place her hand back on her book and place her finger under the word with which she struggles and tell her to keep working. There are days though when it just seems best to give a little scratch and ease her work, not everyday mind you, I won't be there when she's in college doing research to scratch her back and make it all better, but today, and maybe next week, I'm happy to lend a hand.

When I begin scratching that little back, the words being sounded out begin flowing freer and more fluently. The voice that was weary under the weight of the task becomes light and eager in its doing. 

I suspect that we're all a little like Molly. We face our own sorts of challenges, all having goals toward which we strive. Some days, we motor along just fine in the direction of success, enjoying the sights and sounds along the way. On such wonderful days learning to read is a breeze. Every word sounds out just like it should and the story makes complete sense.

Other days are full of heartache, unwelcome surprises, and nasty words hurled about that whether aimed at you or not, achieve their mark with unfortunate accuracy and stick like tar to your soul, oozing into your long term memory.

Tough, miserable days come like the box cars on a freight train, day after day pulling a heavy load of discontent and discouragement that travel with such speed with such noise that the sights and sounds on the way to reaching our dreams all but fade beneath the clatter and bang of boxcar after boxcar after boxcar of defeat. On days like these, the sounding out is difficult, all of the "special words" have appeared on the page. The ones that break the rules that I've been learning and practicing but that today no longer hold true. The words and the stories just don't make sense to me and my hand begins to creep around to my back...

Three hundred and fifty reading lessons into my teaching experience and I remain amazed at what a little bit of encouragement, sincerely given, can accomplish. Three hundred and fifty reading lessons into my teaching experience have also shown me the vicious power of impatience and fault-finding and pride. 

As the reading teacher, I have a choice. As a child of the King, I have a command...

{Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29}
That tomorrow I would choose to give a little scratch of edification when the words don't sound out easy for those in my home and to friends with whom I worship and to every tar-splattered soul God sends across my path whether they cross it well or whether they stumble over that long "e" sound again.

Join me won't you?
 I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine. 
Sound good?

"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."
~Proverbs 16:24

Thursday, October 10, 2013

When Molly Prays...

"Lord Father..."

I hear that unusual combination of words when Molly prays. Over the last few years the blessing has been all mine as I've gotten to listen to the growing prayers of my growing girl. Many times as Molly prays, I am humbled by all of the needs and ailments of our families, both by blood and by faith, of which she is aware and about which she fervently prays.

My grandma, her Granny, has been a permanent subject of Molly's prayers and remains on Molly's list even posthumously. "Lord Father," she prayed tonight, "Lord Father, please help Granny be safe on her trip to heaven." For a family friend who passed away this summer Molly asked God to "help her have fun in heaven."

Like most 5 year olds, Molly's life includes its share of bumps and bruises, and scratches and scrapes all of which she celebrates because, I suspect, it gives her a chance to be the subject of her very own prayers.

This summer on vacation, she swam and played so hard at the pool that she wore painful blisters on the bottoms of her toes. The prayers for those toes communicated that nothing was too small to merit a place on Molly's prayer list.

Molly's "Pappa," my Man's father, recently underwent back surgery and she is on the case praying for Pappa at every opportunity whether it be a meal time or at bed time, and I suspect during Sunday School prayer time.

Tonight, after praying about Granny's trip to heaven, Molly continued...

"Lord Father, thank you for giving us the Bible so we can know about you. I'm very impressed about that. And Lord Father, please be with Pappa and help his back to get better. And thank you again for the Bible, I'm so impressed about that. Ahh-men."

"Prayer is not a hard requirement - it is the natural duty of a creature to its creator, the simplest homage that human need can pay to divine liberality". 
~Charles H. Spurgeon~

Monday, October 7, 2013

Makin' A Stink

"Ewwwwww," she squealed backing away from the stand, "there's a BIG bug!"

"Is it a stink bug?" Cole asked from across the room.

"I don't know," she answered, moving closer to the creature, "let me sniff it."

 A lesson on stink bugs soon as the teenaged teacher stopped laughing!

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