Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
I was really annoyed at Dwayne the other day. He was cleaning off the bookshelf instead of doing ten other things I thought he should be doing at the moment. I confess, I should have been thankful that he wasn't just sitting on his butt, drinking a beer, watching the game, but that's not the point. My heart was in a really bad place at the time.
I was stressed because I felt like I needed his help changing the baby's stinky diaper, tending to the hot pots on the stove, getting the dish washer loaded and started, switching the laundry, getting ourselves and the kids ready for where we were going later that day, packing the diaper bag... I was thinking about all that needed to be done and trying to handle the more pressing issues on my own, while he was making yet another mess by taking things off the shelves in order to reorganize them.
I mumbled a thing or two at Dwayne about his bad timing. He didn't notice. I yelled. He ignored me (or didn't even hear me over the music). That made me even more cranky. So, I kicked a basket of toys. I just knew in my heart I was right about what Dwayne should be doing, so then I got prideful. I sat down in a huff on the couch and scowled. I was sitting down because I had remembered that I also needed to send an email before we left for the day.
While all this was happening, Dwayne is entirely oblivious to or at least, mostly oblivious to what I was going through. He was just cleaning off the shelves. I started writing that email I needed to write and a few minutes later, Dwayne walked into the room I was in. He was holding up $60 that he'd found hidden under a book on the shelf while he was rearranging some books. He said, "You can have this." and he put the money in my hand. I took the money and all sorts of thoughts and emotions were going through my head, but these Bible verses came to my mind as Dwayne went back to work on the shelf.
"Do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son." Hebrews 12:5-6
They seemed to be totally out of place in the moment and they seemed to come "out of nowhere," but, thinking about it further, I believe the Holy Spirit brought those verses to my mind as a way of telling me what God was doing at the moment. I was being prideful and angry that morning and that was my own problem, not Dwayne's fault for being "insensitive" to what I wanted help with. God allowed my loving husband to present me with $60 at just the right moment, to prove a vivid point to me and to show me the error of my ways. I can't think of a more gentle yet effective "rebuke" than this $60 (that I really needed) that wouldn't have been found if Dwayne hadn't been cleaning off the shelf in the first place!
God will not abide our pride and anger and I am thankful He won't. He won't allow us to continue in sin without trying to humble us (even if it's just a sinful state of mind.) It's uncomfortable at times, but I am grateful for God's discipline to me. It's not that God doesn't love us when He does this kind of thing, when He humbles us and makes us come face to face with how wrong we are. God loves me so... I had to humble myself and admit how wrong I was wrong and receive $60 from Dwayne that morning. God loves me so... He creates effective rebukes for me when I need them.
"The Lord disciplines the one He loves."
Sunday, November 28, 2010
When I brought this easel home from the store, I know I made a silent promise to myself that it wouldn't end up looking like this, like every other easel I had ever seen at someone's house, in the church nursery or at various garage sales. I thought I would train my kids to draw on the designated sections only. But, here it is years later and as you can see, things haven't gone as I planned.
Turns out, I have been too busy training Norah how to write her letters A to Z to train her not to draw on the easel legs. And, I've been too busy cleaning apple cores out of this chalk tray to ever actually clean up the chalk dust underneath the chalk.
These days, I figure if I can teach the girls to keep the chalk off the walls and the lids on the dry erase markers, I've done well. The words, "Pick your battles" come to mind. Older moms with teenagers would say those words in my presence when I didn't have kids and I just thought they were making excuses for their lack of parental zeal. But, now that I have kids, I get what they were trying to tell me (and what they were saying to themselves to comfort their own doubts).
Parenthood is much harder than I ever imagined it would be and I can't do it all, so I have to focus on what's most important. And, I suppose a lot of moms have come to the same conclusion I have, thus, every easel I've ever seen looks like ours.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
I took Norah to see Tangled last night. Wow! I loved it! It's right up there with Toy Story and Up in my book. The previews hadn't convinced me it was worth seeing. I wasn't sure it was anything but a ploy to get my money. But, a few friends went to see it and liked it a lot and then I read the review and that made up my mind that even if I didn't like it as much as some of the other films I had seen, it wouldn't be a total waste. But, I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed it.
The animal characters were hilarious. It was full of slap stick comedic action that Norah finds utterly hilarious at six years of age. The "romance" between the two main characters was just right, not to sexual. The animation was breathtaking. One of the parts actually made me gasp and start to cry (the part with the lanterns. If you go see it, you will know what I mean.)
Even the "dark elements" weren't that dark. Note: Sometimes the magic elements in Disney films are so convincing, I wonder if the animators take their jobs way too seriously and get in touch with the demonic realm before they create the scenes. (At one point during The Princess and the Frog, I actually picked Norah up and walked out until a scene was over.) But, in this film, there wasn't any of that. I thought it was an inspiring story of character growth and self-sacrifice. As I was re-telling the story to Dwayne, I choked up and cried as I told him the ending. It's a "must see" in my book.
And, while I liked much of The Princess and the Frog, I haven't bought the DVD and I never will because of the "dark elements" I talked about, but we will definitely add this movie to our DVD collection one day. It's fun and full of beauty and light.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Coffee is wonderful. So wonderful in fact that for the last 500 years it has grown to be one of the largest agricultural commodities in the world despite having no intrinsic substantive value. You cannot live on it like you can rice or beans, but it would seem we cannot live without it.
The process from the tree to your Venti Mocha Latte with a shot is a fairly complex one (sometimes including some unique steps), and like all production challenges, complexity means cost to you. That is why coffee costs so much. Since most coffee grows near the equator, most of it is grown in countries with significantly lower living standards. Call them third world, call them low income, these folks live in utter poverty in many cases. So the cost of the actual beans ends up fairly cheap.
Unfortunately, it’s a little too cheap. Most of the coffee we consume is grown and harvested at rates that do not allow the farmer or harvester to make a living wage. As a commodity, the price is often set , and the farmer cannot argue. Enter the Fair Trade ideology. Fair trade is good in theory. Be sure you are paying what is fair. However in some cases, even fair trade goes through a middleman and the farmer still does not see is living wage. The fair trade that works is the one that bypasses the middleman, and trades directly with the grower, but that is not very scalable. I cannot imagine how a Folgers or Maxwell House would tackle that problem. Starbucks tried, but even they fall short with only part of their beans being fairly bought. We have to change our world small and steady.
Let me introduce you to Land of a Thousand Hills coffee. Their name comes from the nickname of Rwanda, the country where they buy their beans. If you are not familiar with Rwanda’s history, watch Hotel Rwanda for an overview. It is the worst human genocide in recent history, and their now fragile communities are trying to rebuild. Here is a video of the owner of LOTH.
For every 130 bags of coffee sold through LOTH, a Rwandan farmer can feed, clothe and shelter his family for a year. A YEAR! We all love coffee. We all drink it. Why not know what you are supporting, and where your money is being spent when you purchase coffee. You can buy LOTH coffee on their website, or if you ask V or I, we can pick some up at Windows Cafe' in Bethel.
Drink Coffee, do good.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
You see, I don't like my bedroom. We have repairs to do in one of the corners of that room and those repairs have prevented us from ever painting the walls in there and since we have never painted the walls, I haven't ever been able to decorate, and since I haven't ever been able to decorate, I've never taken any pride in that room. And, so, I had also never been thankful for my bedroom.
I guess I was subconsciously putting off my thanks until the room was finished, until it looked the way I wanted it to, until it was perfect, naturally. But, as I was cleaning in there, I felt God's Holy Spirit urge me to, "Thank me for this room." I took heed of God's voice and tried to obey right away, but it was difficult to be thankful in that room because of the obvious eye sores where the repairs needed to be made, but I started finding reasons to thank God anyway.
For one, I was thankful because my bedroom is the place where Dwayne and I make love. I also said "Thanks" for the beautiful furniture we have in there. I thanked God for the years of memories as I looked at our keepsakes. I thanked God for all the changes in our lives as I looked at our photos.
Later that day, when I was thinking about how difficult it was to practice thankfulness over something I didn't really like about my life, I realized that people, in general, hesitate to give God thanks for something they don't like about their lives because they are afraid that if they thank God for it, whatever it is, it won't change.
At least, this was true for me in regards to my bedroom. I realized that sometime back I must have wanted God to know just how much I cared about my bedroom being fixed, so I was unwilling to budge about it, I was going to retain "control" and force God's hand by not giving thanks.
But, I am grateful for the Holy Spirit's gentle guidance to me over this. I realize now that by allowing my heart to remain thankless, even over something as trivial as my bedroom, I was actually refusing to be in right relationship to God over something (even something as trivial as my bedroom) and I was the one suffering for it. Thanklessness is dangerous. It can lead to bitterness, greed, lust, strife, anger...
That's why practicing thanks is so important. To get to thankfulness, we must force a change in our hearts and release our burdens to God. But, thankfulness is so critical because what comes immediately after we change our hearts and release our burdens to God is a renewed faith in God and a new hope from Him for the changes we seek.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
So, if all kids really want to learn, do kids learn most from what you read to them or from what they read to themselves?
And, if they learn the most from what they read to themselves, is the problem with formal schooling less about the large class sizes and the inadequate budgets and more about the fact that even the most well-meaning teachers succeed in getting in between their student's and the subject the kids want to learn about?
And, if teachers get in their students way at school, are home school moms who just try to copy what professional teachers do at home doing the same thing to their kids?
And, so, should I just try and stay out of Norah's way today?
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
I'm still letting Norah decorate the sides of Avril's Halloween sarcophagus. I will pull up some hieroglyphics online and display them on my laptop. Norah draws and then paints them in. We're planning to keep the sarcophagus on the floor and use it as a toy chest.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
The way ice floats (instead of sinking).
The way a tree's roots spread out and hold the soil in place.
The way seeds are designed to be able to travel away from a bigger tree.
The way a bird knows how to build a perfect, little, round, nest from mud and sticks.
The way a mother's breasts create milk.
The way a newborn baby already knows how to suckle.
That's just what I can come up with off the top of my head.
The list goes on and on.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20
Friday, November 19, 2010
This post is for adults only and you may want to put your coffee down, otherwise you might choke on it.
When I see Dwayne reading a book with our kids or folding the laundry or fixing something that's broken, I just want to wrap myself around him and kiss him passionately. He's never more attractive to me than when he's "being good" and every time he is "being good," I am glad a married a "nice guy."
Now, there was a time when I was foolish enough to be attracted to "bad boys" and to seek out their attention. But, I always ended up sorry that I did. And, I know there are still plenty of women who think they could never be satisfied in a marriage like mine, one to a "nice guy." And, maybe they're right. Maybe they wouldn't be satisfied in a marriage like mine, but if I were being honest, I would have to say that I think that would be their own fault because they're foolish and warped by their own sinful lusts.
Kids read my blog (and may still be reading this post even after I asked them not to), so I will try not to be explicit to the point of making the innocent stumble. But, I want to be bold and make a claim. This is something that I have felt needs to be said to this culture that is becoming more and more sexually impure in order to try and satisfy sinful lusts.
There is nothing I am missing out on in my marriage to this "nice guy." There is nothing I don't get from my pure marriage bed. When I read the magazine covers in the grocery line about "8 Ways to..." or "How to..." I just wish the women who are reading that crap for advice would read what I have to say.
God created us. He created marriage. He created sex. He created intimacy. He said it was good. He also said it should to be kept holy. He wants us to be satisfied. He loves it when we are free. He wants us to be able to really live. He wants us to acknowledge Him in all we do. And, so, having said that, I am fully convinced that I am one of the most sexually satisfied women on earth and I got that way by submitting my whole life, including my sex life, to God.
(I told you what I had to say was bold).
I do not claim to have a monopoly on satisfaction, however. I am friends with a lot of Christian women and almost all of them celebrate their marriages and just extol their husbands and their relationships like I do. We don't talk about details, as that would be very inappropriate, but we all agree that we are blessed in this way. In fact, I read somewhere that statistics show that married women of faith are the most sexually satisfied group of women in the country, as a rule. There may be exceptions to this. I've know my share of uptight Christian men and women. ;) Just kidding, of course. But, really, I think this statistic is generally very true and unfortunately, one of the best kept secrets of this sex-loving culture.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Norah said this during the course of a very long conversation she and I were having about a conflict she had with a friend of hers. I almost laughed out loud at what she said. It was just so honest.
"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Do they not come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God..."
Norah has a hard time letting her friends have their own way. She wanted her friend to come play on the castle. He wanted to play where he was already playing. She wouldn't give in and play with him where he wanted to play or leave him there and go play on the castle without him. So, she kept pushing and as a result, he ran away from her. She kept following him because she wanted to play with him and he kept running away, so her feelings got hurt because, "He's running away from me!"
I saw myself within her then. How often have I pushed her dad to do something he isn't doing or to be someone he isn't being only to have him get upset and defensive and then hurt my feelings. Then I have my feelings hurt over something that I started. But, I can't see that I'm responsible for the conflict at all, because, after all, Dwayne should do this or that or he should be this or that. It felt like I was talking to myself when I told Norah to "Just leave him alone." Things go much better when I just leave my husband to God. Norah started trying to force her friend to be a better friend. How often have I tried to force my husband to a better husband? Too many times to count.
"Do to others as you would have them do unto you..."
Norah seems to have a good understanding that her friends have a responsibility to play nice with her, but doesn't understand that she has the same responsibility to play nice with them. And, how often that's true for us, too. We adults have a conflict with someone and we say it's because they did this or that. We won't (or even can't) own up to how badly we've treated them because their responsibility in the conflict is always so much bigger than ours. Isn't it, though? Norah thought her friend should have been a better friend to her. She didn't even see how she could have been a better friend to him. How she should have let him choose what he wanted to do and whether or not he even wanted to play with her at all. So, we talked about this.
"Consider others before yourself. Each of you should not only look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others..."
And, once she finally realized her part in the whole thing, Norah said, "I did the best I could. I was the best friend I could be today." and she started to cry because she was broken over the fact that she was selfish and she wasn't the friend she should be, etc.
I told her, "I know. You're going to be learning how to be a good friend your whole life." and when I said this, my mind went to one or two unresolved conflicts I have with friends right now. I'm still learning how to be a good friend, too. And, I am not blameless in those conflicts, but of course, I'd still rather think about how much my friends are to blame.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? ...First, take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck in your brother's eye."
It seems like I am constantly talking to Norah about the subtle "rules" of friendship, like if your friend is hurt and runs away in tears, you should go after them and make sure they are okay, but if your friend is angry and runs away in a fuss, you should probably let them have their space, at least for a while...
And, all this is starting when I thought parenting Norah was going to be "easier" because she's finally capable of pouring her own breakfast cereal or cleaning her own room. It seems like the real "work" of parenting is only beginning.
And, I realize I can't teach Norah to be the person I am not. I can't just recite truths about friendship that I haven't really owned. So, my prayer now is, "Lord, help me to be a better person!" Because that's the only way I can be a better parent.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
But, she read,
A House for Hermit Crab
The Emperor and the Kite
The Funny Little Woman
The Two Trails
Thank You, Amelia Bedelia
Please Note: These are just the books I saw her reading. There were at least a few others that she read and put away before I noticed.
She also read Water Wonders for the third time and decided to make a frog out of cork. I suggested she paint the cork instead of trying to color it with crayons. So, she gathered the materials herself and did the painting herself.
She bundled up and went outside in the afternoon. She collected caterpillars and a slug off our rotten tomato plants in the garden.
She also worked on table manners at breakfast, lunch and dinner: using a napkin, sitting up straight, swallowing before talking and keeping her elbows off the table.
She made her bed, wiped off the table after every meal and picked up all the toys twice (because the house gets messy again and again throughout the day).
And, perhaps best of all, she had to practice saying sorry today. Once, she got really annoyed and threw her baby sister's toy across the room, making her cry. She had to get down, look her in the eyes and say, "I was wrong. I'm sorry." She also leaned in and whispered something really sweet in the baby's ear. I couldn't hear what it was, but the baby dove forward, giving her a big hug. They both laughed and everything was okay after that.
"I'm ashamed that so many of us cannot imagine a better way to do things than locking children up all day in cells instead of letting them grow up knowing their families, mingling with the world, assuming real obligations, striving to be independent and self-reliant and free."
- John Taylor Gatto
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I'd like to tell you what happened to me the other day as a way of bringing glory to God.
I've been collecting baby items for my pregnant friend. I haven't actually given my friend anything. Dwayne and I still want to have one or two babies of our own, God willing, so I'm keeping my baby stuff for myself to use again in the future. But, I do have a lot of friends who don't know this pregnant friend of mine who are completely done having kids. So, I've asked them to give me their baby items, so I can pass them along to my pregnant friend in turn.
It's taking a measure of self control not to be envious over the items my pregnant friend is receiving. And, like I said, I'm not done having babies and it would be pretty nice to go through the bags and piles and take out what I want for myself and pass along the left overs to my pregnant friend. But, I made a vow to God that if He would use me to meet my friend's needs, I would give her "first dibs" on everything I collected. The items would flow like water from my hands into hers.
And, so God is blessing her. She's gotten a beautiful vibrating baby chair, a high chair that attaches to a kitchen chair, a Bumbo seat, a box full of nice baby toys, a play mat that looks basically brand new, several bags of baby clothes, shoes and blankets, etc. These are all things she needs, things she has been able to tick off her baby registry, things she and I set out looking to God to provide for her.
On Saturday, my doorbell rang and a friend was here to donate even more baby stuff. After I collected it, I said goodbye to her and walked inside and sat down to email my pregnant friend to set up a time to drop off the new items. That's when my phone rang.
Another friend of mine was calling to let me know that she was downsizing, cleaning off her bookshelves and she wanted to give me her old home school books. I said, "Yes. Of course." and so, before I could even set up a time to give my pregnant friend the baby items I had collected for her, I had to set up a time to pick up home school books for me!
Now, you should know that I have been praying about books. I've wanted them desperately. As a rule, we can only really afford the most basic, most essential texts we use for home school instruction. Even those cost quite a lot of money. For any other books, any "extras," we have to use the library. And, we check out thirty books at a time, but still, there are plenty of books I'd like to own, medal winners, especially. I'd like to own Usborne and Eyewitness books, books about animals and plants with colorful, high-quality photos, the kind you and your kids can read and glean something new from over and over again.
I took the pictures above after unpacking four out of the six boxes of books I was given. Six out of ten of the books I recognize and I know that I will like. The titles that I don't recognize, I'll probably end up liking, too. Many of these are animal and nature books that seem to fit our need for science books right now and it seems like almost a quarter of them are medal winners.
And, so it happened, on the very same day I emptied my Jeep of baby items I had collected for my pregnant friend, I got to fill it with boxes and boxes of home school books that I've wanted for a long time.
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. The measure you use will be measured to you. ” -Luke 6:38
Monday, November 15, 2010
I apologize for not posting on my blog daily at midnight. I've never not posted daily at midnight, even after I had my last baby, even after I got injured, even after I had surgery...
But, lately, my posts have been more sporadic. I posted one day at 10pm, then skipped a day entirely, and I am writing this post at 9am!! I know it's crazy-talk.
I always have something to say, something to communicate, you know me. Even it is just a picture or a few words. I love my blog. None of that has changed.
But, I want to confess that I have found another love. She's the reason I haven't been posting every single day at the same exact time.
Her name is FlyLady and she's teaching me how to keep my house clean, clean enough to have friends over.
So, I've been busy with that, having friends over (and shining my sink).
And, it's been pretty awesome.
I am thinking of that verse, the one that haunts all us housewives, the one that always haunted me,
FlyLady helps me dominate that verse.
I thought I needed to be honest with you in case you were worried about me.
I'm just having some friends over later. I'll post something again soon, it just might not be every single day at midnight.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I didn't actually get a photo of the finished house before she tore it down to start a new one. :(
I know. I can't believe it, either. This is a huge oversight for a picture-happy mom like me.
But, here's a link to a blog post about her last Lego Club meeting. She took that house to Show and Tell the other kids in the group about it. The post does have one photo of her kneeling down and talking to the group about the bottom half of the house, but alas, there is not a photo of the entire house with the roof on. :(
But, here's a picture of the second house Norah is starting to build now.
Her dad and I spent some time with her the other night (after putting Avril to bed), totally dismantling her first house, organizing all the bricks, finding the pieces she needed and helping her lay the foundations for her new house.
Norah seems to crave this one-on-one time and attention of late, so it's nice that we have something to do together that we all three actually enjoy.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I saw the splashes on the sides of the mantis case, but I just thought the girls had splashed some milk or yogurt onto the sides of the habitat when it had been sitting in the middle of the kitchen table. But, when Dwayne tried to scrape his fingernail across one of the dried drops of white... something... to clean it off the side, that's when we realized the splashes were actually on the inside of the case. So, the splashes aren't milk or yogurt. As disturbing as it is, they are internal cricket juices propelled against the side of the cage when the crickets are squeezed in the mantis's death grip.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I decided to build on her current interest and teach her a strategic, efficient approach to puzzle-building, so she could have more of the joy and less of the fuss when building puzzles from now on.
I had her read and work through these steps to complete a new 100 piece puzzle in record time (record time for her).
Step 2. Separate all the pieces by color, texture, etc. (In this case, I suggested Norah start with two piles: one pile of pieces that are "in the water," looking for bubbles as a clue, and one pile of pieces "out of the water," looking for splashes as a clue.)
Steps 3 & 4. Start putting the main images together. (I encouraged Norah to build the three biggest dolphins first.)
Step 5. Connect the main images together with the remaining pieces. (The puzzle was so small, the rest of it just fell into place around those three main dolphins).
When Norah was done, she was ready to do another puzzle, so I took a few minutes and ordered her two more puzzles online before I forgot.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Norah used to play in the back of the Jeep like it was a play pin, but now she hardly even fits back there.
Now and then I like to compare my pictures, to see how quickly my kids have grown. This serves to remind me how quickly time flies, how what seem like insignificant minutes add up to hours, days, years.