Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Witness to a Wipeout

We use the phrase don't be that guy around our home an awful lot these days and for good reason. When we hear stories on the news about bad choices made or terrible actions taken we say Don't be that guy. Every now and then one of the kids will tell a tale on another kid who acted inappropriately and hopefully, before we get to the point of judging the person, someone will cut the conversation short by saying..."Just don't be that guy!"  When we see less-than-honorable behavior as we are living our lives outside of our home, the return trip in the car involves the don't be that guy warning.

Highlighting choices poorly made teaches powerful lessons to my children and to me as well. Watching a teenager in a grocery store treat her mother with disrespect teaches my teen how terrible the action is much more vividly than me telling her that she should be respectful. Nearly being sideswiped on the interstate by a young man driving too fast and texting and then hitting the guardrail in a dangerous stretch of road screams to my soon-to-be driving son, don't text and drive! far more effectively than the well-intentioned TV commercials.

Calling attention to the What Not To Dos is a good plan but I also know that following good examples of folks who are living life skillfully is a vital practice too.  I often forget to note the honorable, the good, and the worthy that happens all around me because ...well, because I've become a lazy noticer of good and noble and worthy, choosing to focus instead on that guy I don't want anyone to be.

I am the mother of a noticer however, an active noticer and I was reminded of that today.

This morning as the kids and I were leaving our homeschool co-op we began to notice that the parking lot was a bit icy. It had rained while we were all in class and when the rain hit the freezing ground ice happened. The older kids were walking ahead of Molly and I and I'd been squalling warnings sweetly cautioning them lest they fall on the ice. The five of us were alone in the parking lot except for a friend who was taking a load of supplies to her car and then was heading back inside to feed her kids lunch and then, I think, to teach her third class of the day.

I grabbed Molly's hand to keep her upright and then I went down kersplat. I landed on parts of my body that the Dear Lord saw fit to equip me with...abundantly. From my wet seat on the ground I told Molly, who was looking down at me screaming, that I was fine. My friend had seen it all and was coming my direction to check on me but I was already to my poorly shod feet (I'd forgotten to change my shoes before leaving home earlier in the morning and was wearing little more than slippers!) and I told her I was not hurt. She asked once more and I assured her I'd landed ... skillfully.

Once we'd achieved safe entry to the van Meg said, "Mom at least if you were gonna fall, Mrs. _______ was the perfect one to be the only one to see you. She's just so kind."

We carefully headed home and then I went to lunch at a friend's and the kids and my Man went for haircuts and lunch on their own and eventually the kids and I were all home again together and they finished school and...and... and... the day rolled on and I forgot all about my short-lived career this morning as a figure skater.

My friend from the parking lot had not forgotten. Just after dinner I got a text from her making sure I was ok. I wasn't surprised. Neither was my noticer. "See Mom, I told you she was the perfect one to witness your wipe out."

Yes, I thought to myself, to be thoughtful and kind and attentive and to be SO much those things that it's what a teenaged girl expects of me...
I want to be that guy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Different Kind of Snow Day

I asked lots of teachers at church Sunday if they were excited about the possibility of snow days this week. The great majority of them said no, explaining that it generally complicated things for them and their students later on in the year. 

Others asked me a similar question as they headed out the church door, "Do you give your kids a snow day when all the other kids get one?" I often do not give my kids snow days as our school generally prefers to take its weather days when the weather turns sunny and warm such as on those chance days in April or early May when it would be impossible to focus on our math or science studies. 

Yesterday, however, I didn't want us to miss out on the specialness of the snowfall and so we did school only halfway. I took a few subjects off of the kids' must do list and declared that they were to read as much as possible from some books of their choosing.

Throughout the morning the little girls had to be threatened with "a full day of school" if they didn't sit and read but by afternoon they'd figured out that I was serious.

It is always fun to sit near by as the kids are reading and listen to them talk to or about their books or, since we've still got a new reader in these parts, often I'll listen to questions whose goal is to confirm the proper decoding of a word.

"Mom, what's this word? L U G G A G E..."

"It's luggage. Like your suitcase."

"I know WHAT it means Mom. We have read that word in so many things."

Every so often, I'll hear a comment like the one above which insures that far, far into the future there will still be reading in our little world, both aloud together and to our own selves, no matter what is happening in our days whether the sun is shining or the snow is flying! 

Wishing you the warmest of snow days and the most loveliest of stories!

NOTE: What we are reading from under our blankets...

My Man: Dancing on the Head of a Pin by Robert Benson
Molly: Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. 
~Mason Cooley

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How to Help a Sensitive {Read: FREAKING OUT} Child

I'm leaning some very interesting things from the book Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

One of the most enlightening things I've discovered is that I live with a "highly sensitive child" as Cain labels personality types like Molly's. She poses that there are some in the world who are more affected by outside influences than others, causing them to react a little differently to situations because they feel things more deeply than most.

I knew my youngest reacted differently than the other children after being out in a group for an extended amount of time (she needs a nap afterward) and I've often watched her slip away from a group of kids to spend time on her own, but I didn't quite understand the extent of the "sensitive" part.

As we were in the midst of the cleaning up process in the kitchen I saw proof after proof of Molly's "high sensitivity." The day the crew came to remove the kitchen carpet and detach the cabinets and sink from the floor to allow it to dry off Molly broke down into tears time after time. "What's going to happen to our house? It's all broken!" We reassured her time and again that these folks were helping us and making our home better but she was still a mess. Finally we sent her to her room to sleep which is often a good reset for her. After she'd rested a bit and spent some time in her room on her own, she returned to us in much better shape.

When her Pappa arrived to reset the cabinets and sink, Molly broke down again, first thing in the morning, I was perplexed. Surely she knew Pappa would make things better.

"I just feel like our whole house is going to fall down flat!" she wailed. I was lost for a solution so I reached deep down and turned to the source from which I'm confident every Christian mother and definitely every pastor's wife draws...

"Molly," I said taking her face between my hands, "what kind of house did the three little pigs build when they wanted to be the very safest that they could be?"


"Yes, brick. What is our house made of?"


"Yes, brick. See we are safe and sound!"

{Tears began fresh once more.}

"Molly, go get your Awana book and let's look at some verses."

When she returned we looked at the verse that said, "Give thanks in all circumstances..." and I explained that what was going on in our kitchen was definitely a circumstance and that we were to be thankful.

It helped a little.

Molly turned some more pages in her book saying, "There's another good part back here..." She pointed out Psalm 23 which she'd learned the month before. We watched her calm as she read about her Shepherd and as her Daddy and Pappa continued their work putting things back together.

I was thankful for the bit of reading I'd done which helped me to understand what was going on in my kiddo's heart but I was beyond thankful for the reading she had been able to do that actually calmed that heart and gave her stability in the circumstance that had made her little world feel like it was crumbling.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Kitchen Chaos!

"I hope that when I grow up and get married that I DON'T marry a man who likes kitchen carpet. But probably most men like kitchen carpet so maybe that won't work."

Molly was, in her way trying to process all that has gone on in our little world since we returned home from our vacation and things very much involved our much maligned, much spilled upon, much despised, green kitchen carpet. Later in her life, when it comes time for marrying I hope that the issue kitchen carpet is not still on Molly's list of suitable characteristics but if it is I can assure her that few people in the first world would choose kitchen carpet on purpose.

Ours came with the house.

But it is here no longer and that's a good thing. The event that caused the carpet to be a thing of the past was an alarming thing and it happened while we were on the first part of our two day journey home. Despite the best, most diligent efforts of the kind folks who were house sitting for us and who babysat our touchy pipes in the frigid temps while we were in the sunny south, a piece under our dishwasher cracked and a neighbor drove by and noticed the flood coming from our home into the street...he called the church and the church called us and we called our house sitters and they got in and turned of the water and dried things up the best they could.  The next day, before we arrived home, they left us a warm cozy meal of homemade soup and bread with all of the fixings.

The water did quite a job and therefore...decisions have to be made...specifically about the kitchen carpet. So far...the carpet has been removed and the floor beneath has dried (thanks to the help of another wise friend and his crew).

We spent the last few days eating from a make-shift kitchen we assembled in the basement ...

...and yesterday Pappa arrived to put things back in useable order. 

{Picture taken in 2010 at the completion of the bathroom makeover Pappa accomplished.}

I'm so happy to have the sink and that pesky dishwasher back ready to be used and the thought of some kitchen changes ahead is both daunting and exciting.

So this weekend we work on a plan and celebrate (?!) the demise of the kitchen carpet that has been soaking up sticky KoolAid for more than a decade.

I might miss this reminder of when the Boy was younger and he knocked my iron off the ironing board...then he ran to get me instead of picking it up... sister suggested that I frame it but I don't think I'll miss it that much

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What I Think About When I Fear the Kids are Growing too Quickly

My baby girl is in first grade. She reads and writes notes to me. She makes up jokes and has an encyclopedic memory of every season of her favorite TV shows. She can pray down heaven and can out maneuver me often in sneaky attempts to avoid her school work. My heart aches a little sometimes because she seems to be getting older faster than her siblings did. Some days I just want to hear that little voice again and hold those little pudgy hands...but then I remember what those little hands used to do...often...

{From the archives January 2010}

It's all because I was a Girl Scout.  I know how to build a campfire using two different configurations of wood, how to make and use a sit-upon, how to make a fire-starter out of dryer lint and paraffin, how to fry an egg on a coffee can, how to sell a bunch of fine tasting cookies, how to apply basic first-aid, and of course, how to lend a hand.  Girl Scouts are honor bound to "do my best to serve God, my country, and mankind and to live by the Girl-Scout law."  

I was in the service of mankind or "mother-kind" as it were.  I was setting my sites on preparing dinner for the gang when the phone rang.  It was my Mom looking for a nearby outlet mall.  She'd gotten a little turned around and since my Man and I are shoppin' fools surely I could give her a little help.  Not a problem. I gave vague directions and moved to the computer to get the specifics.  After giving aid, I hung up the phone and returned to thoughts of supper.

"Mooooommmmm!"  the voice called from my bedroom.  "Molly...oh Molly...Mom look at her."  

"What 'cha got there Molly?"

L'orael 892, Raisin Rapture. 
Oh Raisin Rapture, you did the job.  You were my "purse tube", always there for me when I needed a touch up, never too dark, never too deep like my regular stuff.  Oh, Raisin Rapture, I'll miss you so.

Her sibling almost caught her in time to prevent the damage that was sure to come at that hand.  Almost but not quite...

Look at that cute little lipstick hand print on my bedroom carpet.  There was one to match it on the light tan bedspread.  I wasn't that enRaptured by the color and therefore ran to the computer for help after tossing "Mary Kay" into the bathtub under the watch of her brother.

Googling "lipstick stain removal" yielded many results, most of which involved alcohol and dish washing soap.  

Perhaps they meant for me to take a swig of the alcohol before using the dish soap on the lipstick, because the alcohol applied to the stain itself did nothing.  Unfortunately, the dish soap wasn't the solution either.  

"Goo-Gone," said my Sister.
"Goo-Gone," said my Mom, "then use the dish soap to get the Goo-Gone out."  (My Mom was our Girl Scout leader for a year or two, can ya hear it in her voice?)

We keep this orange oily cleaner around for the supreme task of removing "sticker guck" from our books after the price tags have been removed.  Who would have thought to attack Raisin Rapture with it?  Goo-Gone was indeed the ticket.  Goo-Gone for the carpet, Vaseline for the baby.  

Oh Baby!  

I'm blaming this episode on Grandma, who distracted me by calling and asking for directions, 
(even though I'm the one who left my purse in reach)!  
The Girl Scout Pledge says nothing about assuming responsibility for one's own mistakes!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

In Which I Almost Let Down Ups!

{From the archives 11/29/12}

"Oh," said the new-to-us UPS lady, when I answered the door, "I was told that..." her voice fell away, uncertain.

"They told you a child would answer the door?" I guessed.

"YES!" said she sort of leaning to peek over my shoulder into the house.

"The children are eating lunch right now and today, for the first time in months I've gotten to the door ahead of them." I explained with no small bit of pride.

Unimpressed and visibly disappointed, she handed me the electronic clip board and said, "I was hoping to meet Kate."

Baffled that she knew Kate's name and unused to signing for deliveries, I had taken hold of the clipboard in error and was attempting to sign the little window upside-down.

"Here," said the UPS lady, turning the gadget around in my hands, "you've got it wrong...Kate would have known that I bet."

"I'm sure she would have," said I chuckling and a little shocked that Kate seemed to be such a rock star down at the local UPS warehouse. Taking the package from her hands, I thanked the lady and promised to send Kate to the door to accept our next delivery.

Then, remembering all of the times the patient UPS delivery folks let Kate practice writing her four-letter name on their clipboards through the years as they delivered book after book to our home, I yelled for Kate...

"Kate, please lean out the front door and tell the new UPS lady that you are Kate and tell her to have a nice afternoon." With that, my child, who will not be lost in the crowd that is our family, whizzed past me, eager to make a new friend.  I stood watching out the window as the brown-clad lady outside grinned brightly and waved heartily at my famous-at-the-warehouse daughter.

Yep, I thought, that's logistics!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Remembering Our Vows...

This week my Man and I celebrated 20 years of marriage. We married after we'd known one another for two years and so, as my Man loves to say, we have known each other for over half of our lives. It seems that we were celebrating 17 years together not so very long ago when I posted this...

Happy 17th Anniversary to my Man...

If our marriage was a person, it would be a teenager with car keys

If our marriage was a car, it would be a junkyard dweller by now. 

If our union was a house, it would be time for some needed renovations. 

If our marriage was a grandma-crafted quilt, it would just be getting good and soft and maybe a little frayed about the edges. 

If the time marking our togetherness marked instead, the age of a book, that book would not yet be considered a classic. 

If our marriage was a clothes dryer ... well, we'd be on our second one! 
Our marriage is none of these things of course...
our marriage is a marriage...a seventeen year old one. 
A seventeen year old marriage that has, in its lifetime been...
full of faith,
 full of wonder, 
full of trust,
full of expectation,
 full of serious conversations, 
full of growth,
full of belly grabbing laughter, 
tinged at times with...
 worry and 
...but not for too long...
Later we filled it with...
more laughter,
a couple of babies,
lots of diapers,
new adventures,
old struggles,
new challenges,
a few more babies,
a lot more diapers,
and sprinkled in...
 lessons well learned
and some not so well learned
a wrinkle or two
and some aches (just a few!)

Our marriage has been full of all those things we vowed to one another that winter evening when we were so 
very young,
 and unwrinkled,
 and un-grey, 
and unafraid,
 and oh, so na├»ve
...all of those things we vowed and THEN some!
I love who our marriage has become over these seventeen years. 
If our marriage was a motorcycle...
I'd be so tickled to be your sidecar!

~All my love...
...and then some~

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