Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Snow Adventures

Within the last eight days we've had two snowstorms here, each one dumping a good eight to twelve inches on the ground and everything else.  The first snow had started out as rain, and since most of the trees still have their leaves, they froze.  Then the snow weighed them down, and limbs started breaking off everywhere!  And just when that snow had melted, and everyone had barely gotten all the fallen branches cleared from their yards, another snowstorn hit last night, making everything look like a cake with extra thick icing on it. 

The boys, of course, have been thrilled by all the snow, as all kids are.  But for adults snow tends to be frowned upon as problematic.  It keeps us from all the things we have to do, creates more work, makes driving anywhere take longer, sometimes even causes power outages.  I refuse to fall into that category!  I will always love the snow! 

That's why last week when it snowed, I put the baby down for a nap, got everyone bundled up in their snow gear, including myself, and we all went out and built a snowman.  We even took the day off from homeschooling!  And that's why today, when I had to go to the bank I decided to drive by Glenmere Park to see what it looked like covered in all that gorgeous white stuff.  When we got there, I couldn't resist!  I pulled the van over and we all got out (except Lily) and went tromping through the piles of wintery wonderfulness.  It was so much fun!  Then we quickly had to get back in the van because the boys were cold and we weren't really dressed for playing in a foot of snow because I thought we were just going to the bank, not going on an arctic expedition.

For me, it was a much needed moment of letting go.  Going through the daily grind, doing what needs done, and trying to keep the peace, I sometimes feel like I have lost the fun-loving girl of pre-mommyhood.  I find myself barking orders, feeling stressed out, losing patience, and sometimes even wanting to go hide in a hole, far too often.  I'd love to be that mom that embraces the chaos, but most the time I feel more like some kind of grouchy dictator, a happiness Nazi, if you will.  Then God gives me these rare moments where I just forget all the "shoulds" and I just enjoy life with my kids.  It's like sunshine breaking through the clouds, beautiful and warm.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Izzy's Puppet Show

My four year old decided to put on a puppet show for me while I was sitting down nursing the baby this afternoon.  His puppet was a crazy haired head cut out of blue foam with wiggly eyes and a pom-pom nose on top of a popsicle stick.  He had a captive audience ;)

Izzy (as the puppet): What's the question?
Me: What's your name?
Izzy: Mr. Choo Choos.
Me: Do you like trains?
Izzy: No! I like helicopters.
Me: Can you fly a helicopter?
Izzy: Yes.
Me: Who taught you to fly helicopters?
Izzy: The soldiers.
Me: Oh, are you a soldier?
Izzy: Uh-huh.
Me: How long have you been a helicopter pilot?
Izzy: Thirty years ago.
Me: Oh, you're not a pilot anymore?
Izzy:No.
Me: Why not?
Izzy: They shot me down!

(Pause)

Izzy: Okay, you want me to do a new show?
Me: Sure!

(New Show)

Izzy: What's the question?
Me: What are you doing?
Izzy: Once I was in the Army and I got killed.
Me: Oh no! What happened?
Izzy: The doctors fixed me up.
Me: Did they have to resuscitate you?
Izzy: No, they had to shoot me down!

(I laugh and tell Aaron what he said)

Izzy: Want me to do a new show?
Me:Okay.

(New Show)

Izzy: What's the question?
Me: How do you bake a blueberry pie?
Izzy: No, ask something more sensible!
Me: Okay...what should we do about the deterioration of our economy?
Izzy: Punch each other in the face!
Me (laughing): Oh, so you believe that boxing is the key to economic recovery?

Izzy just giggles, he has no idea what I just said :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Everyday

I struggle sometimes with the "everydayness" of every day.  After a while, it all starts to look the same.  Yesterday was the same as today, which is the same as tomorrow.  My husband goes to work, my kids wake up earlier than I'd like them to, we eat, we homeschool, change diapers, play, eat homeschool, change diapers, play, sleep...an endless cycle.  It's not exciting.  It seems like there's not much to look forward to.  And on the surface, maybe there isn't.

I have to remind myself to hold on to the little things, the "moments". 

I hold on to the few minutes spent in the van on the way home from buying groceries that Aaron and I get a chance to talk to each other--before the kids are in bed! 

I hold on to the three minutes of listening to a song together that says exactly how we feel about each other before we are home and have to begin the process of bringing groceries in, getting kids to bed and putting everything in it's place. 

I hold on to the precious moments when, after screaming in a way that only a baby can, Lily is soothed by Mommy and smiles at me like I gave her the world. 

I hold on to how impatient I feel waiting for Malachi to cut something out for school when it would have only taken me five seconds, knowing that this moment is important too, because he's learning how to use scissors, and I'm learning to let him do it himself (though no matter how hard I try, I can't always resist trimming the edges, I confess!).

When I think about these things, it makes me smile, and it makes me feel like I do have something to look forward to tomorrow after all. 

I look forward to seeing what funny thing Izzy might do, or finding out that Simeon knows morer than I realized.

I look forward to finding a way to spend time with Aaron, and a way to make the evening fun for the whole family (except maybe Lily, who doesn't really care about "family time" right now--she'd much prefer to have Mommy to herself) even if we just stay home and do normal stuff. 

I look forward to what God might do tomorrow that I'm not expecting, how He might speak something to me, or use me to show His love to my kids.

Maybe "everydayness" isn't so bad after all.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Into the Unknown

Currently, I am planning on homeschooling Malachi this year.  I am getting a late start looking into everything because first of all, I am a terrible procrastinator, and secondly, I just had a baby in May so it's been a little crazy.  Things are finally starting to feel somewhat balanced again, so now I am finally doing what ought to have been done months ago, which is looking into curriculum and making a plan. 

Right now, since we are in the early stages of education, I could probably just sort of wing it and do my own thing, but I feel like I need a curriculum that will help me to be structured, since on my own I'd probably end up being really anal and overwhelmed about the whole thing and having a meltdown.  Self-motivation isn't necessarily my strong point unless I'm really excited and confident about what I'm going to be doing.  At this point, I am more like semi-excited, somewhat doubtful, and nervous.  Not promising.

I've been looking into a curriculum called Sonlight, and from what I saw on the website, I think it could really be a good fit for me.  It sounds like it takes care of a lot of the planning, but is very involving when it comes to actually interacting with your children.  I find that very appealing because I tend to not want things very involving, and it will be a stretch for me.  But when it comes to the kids, it's the kind of stretching that is good for me, you know? 

I believe that this is definitely where God is leading me, us, our family...which, as usual, feels a lot to me like how Abraham must have felt leaving everything he knew to wander around in the desert looking for the promised land: expecting and believing for great things but also feeling a little bit like, "Oh crap what have I gotten myself into?" and basically knowing that God has to come through for you or it will all fall apart.  But I like that.  I want to live my life in such a way that I need God.  I don't want to be able to do it all on my own.

So I go forward into this with much trepidation, but also much expectation and hope.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mini Road Trip

Last night Aaron had the idea to take a road trip to a small town and find a little diner or cafe to eat dinner.  We all piled into the van and proceeded to drive all the way to Eaton (which is roughly nine miles from where we live). 

We weren't sure what was there, so we continued on to Ault, which is an exciting distance of four miles from Eaton.  Unfortunately, we had gotten a late start, and small towns being small towns, all the cute little diners and cafes in Ault were closed. 

We then proceeded to traverse the grueling four miles back to Eaton, and soon settled on eating at a little place called "Steven's Grill", which has been there, apparently, since Aaron was a kid. 

We ordered up burgers and fries and cheddar potato soup because it was on special, and all sat around a small metal table together.  Malachi took to the soup, Sima just wanted crackers and the french fries from my plate, even though I did give him his own, and Izzy was mostly preoccupied with mixing together ketchup and mustard for his fries.  Aaron and I ate as quickly as possible, as we have learned that once the kids are done eating, it's best to make a quick escape before they start wreaking havoc upon the restaurant.  The food was actually really good--I'd take it over McDonald's any day.

When we were all done, we went across the street to Eat'n Ice Cream and had dessert.  We sat outside at wrought-iron tables and chairs and ate our ice cream, enjoying the quietness of the small town and marveling that the main street of Eaton was less busy than the street we live on in Greeley.  At one point, three teenage girls were riding their bikes right down the middle of the road, not a single car in sight.  If our boys tried that, they'd be in big trouble, because there is really no time of day that our road is without cars. 

We walked around the block afterward, and the boys managed to find an anthill, which we quickly removed them from so they wouldn't get bitten.  It was beginning to get dark, so we headed back to the van to go home.  By the time we had them all in their seats, it was a quarter to nine, and the quiet and peaceful part of the evening was over.  Simeon was crying because an ant bit him, Malachi was crying because his toe mysteriously hurt, and Lily was crying because she's an infant and that's what she does.  Izzy was the only one not crying, probably because he was too busy adding to the problem by pinching Malachi and bugging him, as only a little brother can. 

Nine miles seems a lot longer when you have a van full of crying children. 

The funny part was when I realized that Simeon was crying mostly because Malachi was crying.  He would repeat everything he said, even that Izzy pinched him, which I knew wasn't true since Izzy couldn't reach him.  I held his hand and sang to him, which miraculously quieted him and everyone else down for about three minutes.   And then they all started up again. 

By then we were back in Greeley, and soon home, so it was all right. 

All in all, it was a really great night together...but I am glad we were only nine miles from home.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What I Would Like

Growing up, whenever I would complain about anything, my mom would say, "Well, life isn't fair."  I would often get mad at her for not sympathizing over my teenage woes, but as an adult, I realize more and more that it's true; we don't always get what we want.  Sometimes I am reconciled to that fact, but at others it is a slap in the face and everything in between.  Since I have this nifty blog, I thought that today I would make use of it, and put down on record how I'd like for things to be.

I'd really like to not have to get up at 5:30 and change a dirty diaper.
I'd like to be able to sit and eat a bowl of cereal without someone thinking I should share it with them.
I'd like it if when I took the time to make eggs, the kids would all actually eat them.
I'd like to be able to sit and hold my baby for as long as I need to, without anyone asking me for juice or a snack, even though they just ate twenty minutes ago.
I'd like it if I could put Lily in her swing without worrying that one of the boys was going to climb into it with her.
I'd like a little more privacy.
I'd like it if I didn't feel like I was speaking a foreign language to my children since they so often seem to not even hear what I'm saying.
I'd like it if I could feel like I knew what I was doing.

I'd like a lot of things, but as I mentioned before, we don't always get what we want.  And that isn't necessarily bad.  It helps me to learn to "be content in all things", and it forces me to stare my lack in the face, and recognize that I need God.  Because there's just no other way I can get through life on my own.  I am desperately in need of His grace and peace.  All the time. 

And what I would really like most of all?  I'd like to learn to rely on Him, instead of constantly trying to do it all myself.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Slice of Life

I have four children.  Sometimes I hear myself say this and it surprises me.  My oldest two will turn six and four this weekend. 

Malachi is ready to be six.  He's ready for anything.  He's getting tall like his Daddy, and also like his Daddy, he will talk to anyone.  He is conversationally fearless!  He's really into pirates right now, so he has his sword at the ready while he watches Muppet Treasure Island and Pirates of the Caribbean.  My mom and niece made a treasure map and sent it to him in the mail.  I'm pretty sure he has it stowed away in his bed somewhere, as though the map itself was buried treasure.

Israel (a.k.a. Izzy, Iz Niz, Zoo Bear, and the Spiceman) is also getting tall.  In fact, I am a little worried that one day he will be taller than Malachi.  This will be great for him, but will drive Malachi crazy.  At almost four, he is on the precipice of being potty trained.  What that means is that he can go potty just fine on his own when it strikes his fancy, but most often he can't be bothered with it.  This morning it struck him as a good idea, so he went.  Then he called me in to help him wipe, only to refuse to let me do it, so I stood by watching as he insisted on tearing the toilet paper into individual pieces.  It was a severe test of patience, let me tell you!  And no one can test my patience like Izzy can.  Sometimes he is as immoveable as a mountain.  He also makes me laugh the most, though, like when he was going around the house singing, "Oooh, you and me, and our smock-atility vehicle."  It was supposed to be "sports utility".  We can thank Veggie Tales for the reason he was singing about a sports utility vehicle in the first place. 

Simeon is my baby boy, although, he's actually pretty big.  He just turned two at the end of March, and he's really starting to talk now.  For a long time, he would repeat things we said without really knowing what he was saying.  Now he is responding instead of just repeating.  A great example of this happened the other day when he tried to ride Chi's bike.  When I told him it was too big for him, he said, "No, it's mine!"  "I'm pretty sure it's Malachi's," I told him.  I thought he was just going to repeat me at first, but instead he declared quite decidedly, "Pretty sure it's Sima's." 

Lily is the real baby, and the only girl.  She will be two months old tomorrow.  For a while it seemed like all she did was sleep, eat, and cry, but now she is becoming more interactive.  She likes when I sit down and talk to her.  I hold her in my arms and we have a little conversation.  She smiles at me a lot, and sometimes she will try to join in with a little "Coo" or "Aah".  Think what you want, but I know she's talking to me.  She has the most beautiful blue eyes, and I am crossing my fingers that they will stay that color!  My dad has blue eyes, so it's possible, even though her Mommy and Daddy have brown and hazel, that her eyes could be blue too.

All of this is just a glimpse, just a sliver out of our lives.  Lily is so small now, but before I know it, she'll be the one asserting her independance over what belongs to her, and Simeon will be the one meticulously separating toilet paper.  Izzy will be starting school, and Malachi will be...well, I don't know yet.  I do know that I don't want to forget what this moment, what this day is like.  It seems like I should remember all these little details forever, but I am already surprised by the things I forget.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Little Plants

Yesterday I was talking with a friend about my middle child, Israel.  I'm not sure if it's his age or his personality, or that infamous "middle-child syndrome", but I tend to have more trouble with him than I did with Malachi.  Israel has made more messes, gotten in more trouble, and been more stubborn about the simplest things.  He also makes me laugh more, is cuddly and sweet, and still sucks his thumb when he is feeling insecure. 

As I was describing some of the trouble I have had with him, I mentioned that usually if I can take a little extra time and have a little extra patience that things go better, but that there are also times when I can tell that I'm going to have to spank him and that's just all there is to it.  She told me, "That's right; he wants to know, 'Do you love me enough to enforce the boundaries?'"

For some reason, what she said struck me.  I already knew that children do bad things sometimes to get attention, and that we discipline the because we love them, but for some reason, something just clicked when she said that, and it made me see things more clearly.  So many times, I don't spank him or delay spanking because I love him and I feel like I want him to have a chance to just be a good boy and obey without that.  I don't like spanking him, so I often don't want to.  And right now, being largely pregnant as I am, sometimes I don't feel like I have the energy. 

I realized, however, that if I love him, I will spank him.  First of all, he isn't old enough to be given the responsibility of "just being a good boy because".  Secondly, he needs to know I love him enough to do what I say I'm going to do, to enforce the consequences of his actions, and to set boundaries.  As strange as it sounds, I believe those spankings sometimes say "I love you" more clearly than any words or hugs or second chances ever could.

I was talking to Aaron this morning, and he compared having children to having a garden.  Our children are like plants we have planted in a garden.  We know how to garden, we know what we need to do to keep those plants healthy and make them grow.  The question is, are we willing to get our hands dirty?  Are we willing to actually pick up the shovel or the hoe and dig in the dirt?  Are we willing to grab ahold of those weeds and pull them out? 

Many times, I feel like I am sitting by that garden in a lawnchair with my iced tea, and it's hot and the sun is beating down, and I think, "I don't feel like pulling those weeds today.  I don't feel like geting my hands dirty.  It's too much work."  I want my plants to grow.  I want them to be healthy plants, and thrive.  I want them to reach their full potential and produce big, ripe juicy tomatoes, or strawberries, or green beans, or whatever it is that God made them to produce.  But I want that to somehow just happen without my having to put effort into it.  However, as with so many things in life, that isn't possible.  Those plants need care, they need work.  Just like children.

Now I am not saying that it will always be hard or unpleasant, because there will be many days that cultivating those little "plants" will be enjoyable.  There will be many days when just seeing how they've grown and improved will be a joy.  There will be days when it's bright and breezy and the weeds are all easy to pull. 

But there will also be days when I won't feel like doing it and it will be an effort that feels like too much.  There will be days when I feel frusterated because even though I've been putting in a lot of time and energy, it looks like my little plants are not growing at all, in fact they may even look a little worse. 

There will be days when I come away with blisters and achy hands from pulling all those stubborn and deep-rooted weeds, days when I am pierced by thorns.  And there will be days when there are thunderstorms and rain, and I will worry about my little plants.  I will wonder if they are going to survive the storm, and there won't be anything I can do to help them except pray.

In the end, whether you are gardening or raising children, it comes down to trusting God.  Our efforts are important, and when we put in the work, it makes a difference.  Yet there will always be things they need that only God can provide, and we can only trust Him and pray.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wait for the Wind

Recently we bought a kite for the boys at Sam's Club.  It's this great big kite that looks like a robot, and the boys were brimming with excitement.  All we had to do was wait for the right day with some wind. 

One evening after Aaron got home we decided to go for it.  We weren't sure if the wind would be strong enough or not, but we had to try!  Malachi was especially looking forward to it.

We drove over to Bittersweet Park, where there is plenty of room for kite flying.  The flags at the monument were waving bravely in the wind, and we hoped that meant good things for our endeavour.  We warned the boys that there might not be enough wind, but that we would try.

We released the kite from its box and put it together.  Aaron tried first to see if he could get it into the air.  Time and time again, it would fly for a minute or two and then come crashing down.  There was wind, but not quite enough to keep it alfoat for a long period of time. 

After several of these tries, Aaron decided there was not enough wind and we took the boys over to the playground.  Izzy and Simeon were perfectly fine with this turn of events, but Malachi was heartbroken.  He so wanted to fly that kite!  We tried to explain that there just wsn't enough wind, but he desperately wanted to have a turn flying it.  Finally Aaron went back out in the open field with him and tried to give a few short-lived turns with the flying robot.

Before long it began to get cold and the sun began to set and we were getting hungry; it was time to go.  Even though Aaron had tried to accomodate Chi, he was still very disappointed with how things had gone.  He had been able to fly the kite a few times, but it just wasn't quite enough for him.  What's more, he blamed Aaron for all of it.  Somehow it was Daddy's fault that the kite would not fly.  As we pulled out of the parking lot, he was in tears, and nothing we said, from comforting words to telling him to just be thankful for what he got, could help.

Today Aaron and I were talking about it again, and it struck me how similarly we act with God sometimes.  We have a beautiful new kite and we want to fly it.  We want to fly it now!  So we take it to the park and we try our best, but there isn't enough wind.  And we blame God.  Nevermind that we are attempting to fly the kite in the wrong conditions, somehow it is God's fault.  We want what we want, and we want it now, and God should just make the wind happen when we want it to, we shouldn't have to wait until the right time...right? 

How often do we blame God for situations that we have gotten ourselves into?  We didn't ask Him for guidance, or if we did, we didn't wait for an answer.  Or maybe we got an answer, "There's not enough wind right now, you need to wait," and we didn't like it, so we did what we wanted anyway.

This hits home for me.  This is one of those moments when my children exasperate me with how they act and then I realize that I do the same thing.  It's rather humbling.  There have been many times when I wanted it my way and didn't care if it was the right time or not.  But if I would have waited, I might have found my kite flying high instead of crashing to the ground.  I might have found the result to be joy instead of tears and frustration. 

In the end, I'm encouraged.  I'm encouraged to trust Him, and to be thankful for what I have, even if it isn't always exactly what I want. 


Monday, January 31, 2011

I Live in His Grace

"For He has delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling."

Psalm 116:8

Last night before I went to sleep, the crazy notion entered my brain to read my Bible.  I saw it sitting there on the dresser, and thought that maybe for once, instead of reading a novel or my baby names book before I go to bed, I ought to read the Word of God. 

I'm sure that most of you reading this, being the excellent and super-amazing Christians that you are, read your Bible every day anyway.  But I will be honest and say that I don't. 

At one time, I did.  Back when I was single, going to school, and had very few responsibilities.  I read it then.  I read it a lot then.  And now I am so glad I did, because it is all still there in my heart, and the Holy Spirit reminds me of what I've learned and what I've read, and it feeds me.  It was feasting time then; now it is famine. 

For these days, these crazy days of screaming children and messes, bills, dirty dishes, and dirtier diapers, these days it is rare to have enough time to even settle my mind enough to have a "quiet time" with God. 

These days, I live on His grace and His goodness.  And I have found that He meets me right where I am. 

In the same way that my husband and I now have to schedule an actual date night, and take the few minute snatches of time to talk and reconnect instead of spending hours and hours together every day, I have found my brief meetings and dates with God to be so much more special and meaningful now than ever before. 

So last night, when I read this verse, I knew He was speaking to me.  He was telling me that He has me. 

There is an anguish of the soul that can feel like death, but I need not fear it.  He has delivered me from it. 

And all those tears I have cried feeling like I can never be enough or do enough, that I am a failure?  He has delivered me from those as well. 

All the times I stumble and fall, when I mess up and I cringe because I did the wrong thing again?  He's got it covered. 

Yes, I live in His grace--and His grace is sufficient.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Severe Lack of Inspiration

I fully intended to revisit my New Year's Resolution of 2010 and write a blog every day.  Yet here I find myself six days into 2011, and I am just now writing my first blog.  So much for good intentions.

Right now I am suffering from a severe lack of inspiration. I am not inspired to write something amazing, charming, or perhaps even particularly interesting.  There are stories I could tell about the kids, about the holidays, about my trip to Ohio to visit my family and my trip to Michigan to go to a friend's wedding.  But, to be honest, I just don't feel like it. 

My lack of inspiration isn't limited to writing either.  I'm also having trouble with what I should make for dinner later, in spite of having a whole list of potential meals on my fridge which I planned at the beginning of this week.  Nothing sounds good, nothing sounds right.

Of course, it doesn't help that I am constantly being bombarded with requests, "I need a snack, I need a drink, I need a paper plane...I need, I need, I need....Mommy, he hit me, Mommy, he stinks, Mommy, he took my paper plane!"  It just never ends. 

Some days things like that, while frusterating, just seem like part of the day and I deal with it and move on.  Other days, like today, I find these constant conflicts and demands to be epecially wearisome.  Today is a day where I need some extra grace...and a nap probably wouldn't hurt either! 

Don't get me wrong, being a mom is great, and I love it, and I know it's exactly what I'm supposed to be doing with my life right now.  It's also repetitive and tiring and hard sometimes.  That's life.  Despite what the movies tell us, life isn't always fun and sometimes the happy ending are few and far between, or if nothing else, the really good moments are the really small ones, not big, climactic ones.  Some people have this figured out and they sort of take life by the horns.  Then there are people like me who have to keep reminding themselves that this is real life, that it isn't nearly as ideal as they thought it was going to be, and that it's okay. 

I'd like to end on a deep and philosophical note, but I just don't have it in me.  However, I do hope my lack of inspiration has been inspiring to you :)
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