Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Today, I quit.  I quit doing what I thought I ought to do and instead just did what I thought might make life easier.

It all comes on the heels of the perfect storm, an intense grouping of situations that were bound to send this mom into meltdown mode.  A week of no school due to Easter.  Multiple days of house guests.  Hosting Easter dinner.  Lots of sugar.  A spring schedule that has meant way too many nights out past bedtime.  A husband who has a soccer tourneyment and jury duty over our Easter break.  Did I mention lots of sugar?

Then add in some specific behaviors.  A balloon experiment that involved a bathroom sink full of water.  (And a counter full of water.)  A child who thought her new squirt gun should be played with in her bedroom.  (Again, water, water, everywhere.)  A baby who has decided his naptimes should be proceeded by 30 minutes of crying.  Visits from Bil Keane's famous cartoon characters "Not Me" and "I Don't Know."  Overtired, fussy kids who scream at everything and everyone, who cry over a Lego being placed into the -wrong storage container or being asked to drink the last inch of milk that's in the glass.

By Monday, this lady was over it all.  (I probably should have known when I woke up to dog pee on the carpet and then within 30 minutes proceeded to clean up 2 spit ups and one cup of spilled orange juice.)  But oh how I tried to hang onto the belief that my kids could play together without fighting, that they could have a lot of unstructured time and stay out of trouble, that it was worth arguing over the little things.  I suppose I tried a bit to lower my expectations.  (We did start out Monday morning with a movie.)  But I still ended up being the mom who I don't really like, the one who yells and rants and raves a bit, and just in general doesn't help the situation.

Tuesday was a bit better.  But still not what I would call a stellar day.

So today, I put aside all of my normal "mom rules" and went against the grain.  In short, I quit being the mom who is a bit high maintenance, the mom who has high expectations and lofty plans.  We went to the zoo...despite the rain.  We ate lunch out...instead of packing a lunch.  And when we got home, I told all the kids to go play in the huge puddle at the end of our street.  And then we watched a movie.  The day isn't over but we might watch another...despite my usual thoughts that 30-60 minutes of tv time is plenty for a day.

Guess what?  Today has been better by far.  I think I've only yelled once.  (Over the already mentioned, misplaced Lego situation that caused the 3 year old to freak out.)  I probably ought to quit more often.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Blessing, Christ's Curse

"He is risen.  He is risen indeed."

Words that offer hope to Christians everywhere, words that matter much.  Because without a resurrection, Jesus is just foolishness, the Bible just babble.

However, that is also true of the cross.  Without the actual cross, without the weight of the world's sins wrapped across the Son's shoulders, the whole Gospel is but a lie.

The work at the cross is one of atonement which simply put is about this amazing redemption that reconciles us to our Creator.  Redemption is actually a word connected to indebtedness.  It is the canceling out of something you are responsible for.  In faith, it means we as man cannot measure up to God's standard of living a perfect, sin free life so God's justice demands we pay this debt.  And yet somehow, on the cross, Jesus says "I'll pay the debt.  I'll take on the curse."  Man is brought near to God and Christ, for a moment, is exiled.

Curse perhaps seems a strange word to use in the Easter story.  For most of us, a curse is something borne in a Disney movie, placed upon a pretty princess by an evil witch.   But for the cross and the resurrection to matter, Easter must be about not just a curse but also about God's blessing.

R.C. Sproul writes about this in The Truth of the Cross.  "If we were to study that [the vision of God, looking God in the face] carefully in all of its ramifications in the Old Testament, we would see that blessedness is related to the proximity of God's presence.  The closer one gets to the immediate presence of God, the greater the blessedness.  The farther a person is from the face of God, the less of the blessedness."
This rings so true for me.  The hard things in my life have provided me with a lot of time to think about God's blessings.  "My God who longs to bless me has allowed the death of both my mother-in-law and my dad.  That's a bit hard to swallow."  My God who is good allowed us to take on the role of caring for an ailing grandparent and walking with her in the last part of her life.  Why us?"  "The God who knows my daughter intimately has been silent while her adoption stalled.  Surely He's not using her waiting to teach us a lesson?  That just seems cruel."  Those are all things that I had to hash out with God, because not hashing them out would surely have pulled me away from Him.  Over time, I came to the realization that my good was not God's good and Sproul's words just reaffirm this.

So then what does this have to do with Good Friday and Easter morning?  It's because as Sproul writes, "A curse is the opposite of blessedness.  The curse of the covenant was to be cut off from the presence of God, to never see the light of His countenance, to be be cast into the outer darkness."

Christ's sacrifice on the cross, while about physical suffering, was perhaps more about spiritual suffering.  His Father saw my sin, your sin, the world's sin, and cursed His Son.  He turned His face away because those sins could never inhabit the same space as God's presence.  It's about the way Paul explains it, in Galatians 3:13, that "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us for it is written 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'"  Christ spent His entire life enjoying the presence of God, savoring His blessing.  But on that day, as the nails were hammered and the tree was sat upright, that blessing was pulled away.  His curse became my blessing, giving me the chance to be near to God.  My blessing, His curse, perhaps that's just as amazing as the resurrection.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Ugliest Marble Run Ever Aka My Big Brother is Awesome

Big brothers matter.  And Kenson is a pretty good one.  He loves babies and generally has a sweet heart towards his siblings.  He spent yesterday and today home sick though.  A rotten tummy ache all day Monday and Tuesday and then by Tuesday around suppertime a fever meant quite a bit of time just laying around.  But come Wednesday morning he seemed to be back to normal.  Since he had had a fever so late in the day on Tuesday, he still stayed home.  While he was waiting for Zeke to come home from preschool, he decided he wanted to build a marble run for Zeke.  (Because he had heard Zeke talking about a marble run that they made at school.)  He started with some cups, some spoons, an empty toilet paper tube, an empty syrup bottle, and the tubes from our xylophone.  I let him do his thing for a bit but eventually helped him settle on rolled up newspapers, the syrup container, a laundry basket, some pillows and quite a bit of packing tape.  He really wanted to have it ready by noon so it would be a surprise when Zeke got home.  It's super ugly but super sweet...

A few snapshots of Kenson with Kai

He adores him and is probably the one who Kai responds most to other than D or myself.  

Sharing a hat with the baby

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Color Fun Run 5K

Our middle school decided to host a color fun run for their fundraiser this year.  Kenson, Conleigh and Mom did it together.  D has been nursing a strained hamstring muscle for several weeks (ask him to see it; it is super ugly looking) plus someone needed to stay back and watch Zeke and Kai.  They did the runners in 3 groups:  sprinters, joggers, and walkers.  That was nice because there was no way I was going to run all of it, plus I needed a way to keep tabs on Kenson and Conleigh who wanted to run and would be ahead of me.    If you haven't done a color fun run, the general idea is that you run and along the course, powdered colors (much like crushed chalk) are thrown at the participants.  Wearing white ensures maxim color coverage.  The organizers do give you some tips prior to running like to cover your car seats before you get in, to oil your hair beforehand to help the color come out, and to wash your color run clothes as a single load when you are done.  I think Kenson's asthma was bothering him, either from all the color dust or just from a bit of an allergy flare up or cold.  He ran quite a bit of the first lap around and walked the second.  Conleigh, on the other hand, ran the whole way.  A 5K is just a bit over 3 miles so for a 7 year old, running the whole way is a pretty good accomplishment.  Sometimes it is hard to find things that she really "shines" at so seeing her do so well was fun.  (She does a lot of things well but isn't really a stand out at any one particular thing.  And while she is in great physical shape, she gets distracted easily during team sports or frustrated because she doesn't understand the rules or doesn't quite have the skill needed for hitting a baseball or shooting a basketball.)

I know all my friends who are mamas of brown babies are looking at this and just shaking their heads.   Really it wasn't too bad.  I did the double French braids to kind of help limit the amount of hair that was exposed to the color.  Then I oiled it with olive oil before we left.  At home, she rinsed once in the tub, then I shampooed it, conditioned it, and reconditioned it under the shower and I think we got most of it out.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to Go Spying

1.  Find oversized glasses to help you see better
2.  Use a headband to secure your pen to your head (for easy access)
3.  Grab a notebook to record any observations

Monday, March 31, 2014

"Wow! You're a Big Family!" Controlling the Chaos Tidbit #8-The Bathroom

The bathroom:  toothpaste in the sink, water drops on the mirror, and a toilet that well, looks and smells like two little boys use it.  I won't kid myself and say that my bathroom is clean for longer than maybe the ten minutes right after I have cleaned it.  But I do have a few tricks that help keep the messes down.

1.  Color coded poofs instead of washclothes
My kids do still use washcloths in the morning when they wash their faces but for bathtime, they each have a poof.  I hated finding soggy washclothes mildewing at the bottom of the bathtub.  (Okay maybe not mildewing but a sopping wet washcloth that sits in the tub for a day or so just grosses me out.)  And I hated that the kids couldn't figure out how to wring out a washcloth without making a mess.  So I bought each kid a poof that was the same color as their cup.  (See my post on breakfast.)  A few suction cup hooks on the tub surround and no more wet washclothes.

2.  Caddies for each kid
The boys currently share a caddy but that's because the caddies I have are made with two sections so they might as well share.  The kids put their personal supplies (toothbrush, toothpaste, and hair brushes) in each caddy and it sits on the counter.
These metal caddies are the ones my kids use.  I actually got several of them quite a few years ago when I was teaching full time.   They were Dollar General finds so they were really cheap.

3.  Travel size toothpaste
I think I have finally figured out how to solve the "my children are geniuses, but why on earth can they not squeeze toothpaste out of a tube correctly?" problem.  Travel size toothpastes.  For some reason, they are easier to squeeze than a large size tube and my kids don't goop toothpaste all over the tube and they seem to do better with getting the right amount on their toothbrush which helps with the big globs of toothpaste that end up in the sink and on the counter.  It's not the most budget friendly thing but if you can score a bunch of samples from the dentist or from hotel stays, it helps.  I just give each kid their own tube so I don't have to replace them so often.

4.  Over the door shoe organizers
This is probably my new favorite organizing trick.  I don't have a ton of storage in our bathroom.  The vanity is actually pretty spacious but it only has two drawers and the bottom is just a big open space that kind of turns into an abyss where toilet paper and the plunger go to get forgotten about.  So I grabbed a cheap shoe organizer and used it for all my extra bathroom supplies (like extra razors, extra shampoo, etc.).  It's easy to see what you have and they don't get lost to the abyss.
The only thing I don't love about this is that sometimes it gets kind of heavy and can "thump" against the door.
I think if I used some Command adhesive strips along the edges, I could secure it to the door and prevent the thumping but I've been too lazy to do that. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Linky Love-Perspectives on Birth Families and Foster Care

From Tona Ottinger:

"But to ask “who really wants these kids” is a generalized statement that sensationalizes and moves us to “pity” them. I bet their broken-hearted families do. Even if they are too covered in shame, embarrassment, addiction, or fear to admit it. I bet they want them. Deep in their hearts they wish they were free to live and love and provide for their kids. But they aren’t.

We need to reframe our thinking. We need to think about the bigger picture. We need to lay down our stereotypes of what good parenting is. We need to lay down racial prejudices that get in the way of seeing birth families culture and different ways of living as something that can be celebrated rather than judged. Not all cultures parent the way white evangelical parents do and that does not mean they don’t want or love their kids. (Feels good to finally say that)"

While the author wrote this regarding foster care, this truth is not just about foster care.  It's about teachers who teach kids who come from homes where the choices about tv programs or clothing or behaviors seem questionable.  It's about people who work with at risk kids through mentoring programs who aren't quite sure why Mom or Dad isn't stepping up to the plate.  It's about people who spend their days with kids in domestic violence shelters or homeless shelters who question how a parent lets this happen to their kids.  It's about those who see kids placed for adoption, be it domestic or international, who can't fathom how a birth parent could just "give their child away."

The bottom line is almost every single parent loves their kids.  Their choices may not be the same ones we would make.  Their lifestyle may not be reflective of what we think of when we think of a stable family.  Their actions may seem to indicate apathy.  But parents love their kids; they are loving them the only way they know how.  Even if it's not very pretty.  Even if it's downright ugly.  That waiting child, that messed up mom, that dad who is striking out-it's just not okay to take love out of their family equation.