Thursday, May 27, 2010

God and Me-Lots of miscellaneous

My brain is kind of full of spriritual hodgepodge, most of which seems to be disconnected and unrelated. But nevertheless, here's what been on my heart.

-One of the KLUV radio personalities has been challenging listeners to take a 30 day, no negativity, no complaining, no grumbling challenge. Hearing this immediately brought to mind a couple of verses like "Do everything with complaining or grumbling" and "Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is useful for building others up according to their needs." Unfortunately, such things do not come easily for me. If you really stop to think about what that 30 day challenge might mean, it's a little frightening. No words spoken in frustration, like the little groans that slip out when your 3 year old drops her hamburger mayo/ketchup side down onto her father's coat which for some reason happens to be on the ground under her feet. No quick comments said under your breath when your husband does something in a way you don't understand. No complaints about a dog that was left inside too long in the morning and piddled on the floor. And if it just stopped there, I'd probably consider myself blessed. Good challenge though, definitely something to think about.

-My kids have been really excited lately for quiet time in the mornings. Kenson is completely in love with the "Talking Tree" story aka Moses and the burning bush. Conleigh only wants to hear the song Father Abraham. Watching them be excited about the great stories of our faith, to know that they are soaking in a rich history of faith is just one of those fill-you-up-with-joy kind of things. It also really encourages me to think about how much I love those stories. To be truthful, while I don't always love spending time with the Lord like I should, those old old stories are like comfort food to my soul. They are comfortable and familiar, full of God's faithfulness, strung with a thread that connects an ancient culture to a risen Redeemer and then to a highly intimate and intensely personal relationship on this side of time.

-Our church's women's ministry has regrouped and is meeting in small groups throughout the summer. My group of 6 ladies met on Tuesday for the first time. I am very thankful to be starting and thankful for each person in my group. Time spent with others in small groups just nourishes my soul. Praising the Lord for my friends, Brenda, Heather, Bev, Denise, Nicky, and Wanda.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Simple Math

2 children + 1 sand and water table + 1 sunny day = fun

2 children + 1 sand and water table + 1 sunny day - any adults = soaked clothing

1 Mama who said "too bad, I'm cooking supper, you'll have to stay outside in your wet clothes" + 2 wet kiddos = a suprise like this:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wedded Bliss

Yes, my kids are stinkin' cute! We spent our weekend wrapped up in wedding festivities for our friends, Jorge and Amanda. (Jorge helps D coach soccer. He takes stats during the regular season and then also helps with summer and indoor teams.) Anyway, Kenson was asked to be the ring bearer and D was a groomsmen. The wedding was at site of these immense historic columns some of which are upright and some of which are laying on the ground. The upright ones are just off to Kenson and Conleigh's right. You can see that Conleigh had decided that she was unhappy when I tried to get a good photo of her with Kenson. She was unhappy because she thought the tall columns were going to fall over on top of her. Ah the joys of 3 year old thinking!
We really did have a busy busy Friday and Saturday. We had a quick, light supper right before the rehearsal at 7, then we headed to the rehearsal supper around 9 but didn't eat until closer to 10. Then home around 11. On Saturday, we woke up and we all started getting ready so we could eat lunch by 11. Then I took the kids and tried to get them to fall asleep for a quick nap before the pre wedding photo shoot. I ended up enforcing complete silence for the last 20 minutes of the drive to the wedding locale as they were both singing as loudly as they could trying to fight taking a nap. Kenson finally fell asleep; Conleigh never did. D drove separately so I could take the kids home early from the reception if needed. Photos were at 1, with the wedding at 3. The reception and dance followed and we were home around 8. Conleigh actually fell asleep during the father/daughter, mother/son dances.
Kenson did great and walked down the aisle with no problems. He passed off the rings and was supposed to come sit with me right away but did try to do a few spins at the front. What an amazing thing for a kiddo who used to be very shy and unsure of himself. He followed all the directions and cooperated with the photographers and his parenst. Most of the time....we did have to move from the front chairs at the wedding because he would not whisper. We only had one moment of near disaster when Conleigh almost licked the top tier of the wedding cake which the cake people had set on the head tables, in front of the bride and groom. Why it was sitting there during the dance, I don't know. Of course, once we got in the car to leave, we had major tears and screaming but all things considered, in the car, out of public view is okay by me.
And for the record, D did his job just fine too. Followed the direction, obeyed his wife, cooperated with the photographer...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Still time to give...

When was the last time you raised more than $32, 000 ? For Paige Livesay, the answer is um, now, I'm doing it now. She is currently raising money to help rebuild the lives of families in Haiti, specifically by giving familes that have land the ability to put a house on the land. Here's the kicker: she's 15. If you have not given to her half marathon fundraiser, you should. Because I'm bossy and I said so. Because God is working and you can be a part of it. Because your $5 gift snowballs when you put it with other $5 gifts. Because there are matching grants that will make your donation go further. Just head over and check out her progress. (Left hand side fundraiser graph) She still has a bit more than two weeks left before race date. That's lots of time to raise lots of money.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

First days of summer

I just saw someone become a Facebook fan of "Welcome to Nebraska, the land where you can experience all four season in one week." Funny how that showed up this week where it's been rainy and cold with a few spots of sunshine. We still managed to enjoy some summerish weather. My kids just figured out how to blow dandelions; fun times until those seeds become new weeds in my yard.

We also had lots of graduation receptions/graduations to attend. We've had our fair share of pork sandwiches and cake. D wanted to attend the high school graduation and I would rather pull my toenails out with a butter knife than take two three year olds to commencement. So we split up for the actual graduation on Saturday. The kids and I got a few groceries and then picked out some treats to enjoy before playing at the park. Best kept secret in town? Paraiso's. It's a local tienda Latina on the corner of 13th and Main. They have a cooler full of ice cream novelties which is kind of a rarity. Strawberry, mango, lemon/lime, vanilla, coconut, my personal favorite of pineapple with chilli powder...lots of choices. And they also have a little bench right outside of a major intersection. A perfect spot for two three year olds to sit and watch the traffic.
D will be done with students on Wednesday and completely done with school on Friday. Grandma and Grandpa are going to be around on Thursday/Friday. And we have a wedding rehearsal/wedding that D and Kenson are going to be in over the weekend. Dandelions, ice cream, graduation, and weddings: sounds like summer to me!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

God and Me-Grateful

This week has been long. Maybe it's been the weather-grey, gloomy, drippy, drizzly. Maybe it's been sick, crabby, couped up kids. Maybe it's been me and my sin nature. I'm kind of voting for the last one, influenced by the other things. That's one thing that no one really enjoys talking about. My sin nature. It just sounds weird. It can easily roll off your tongue as you fall into the "Christianese" that sometimes makes its way into Sunday morning Sunday school conversations. Or it's one of those words that you quickly edit out of your vocabulary as you talk with someone who you think probably would hear those words and look at you like you had four horns growing out of your head. It's just kind of one of those words that never sits quite right in my mouth.

Regardless how I choose to articulate it, the truth is I have really felt controlled by my own sin this week. It's that whole "what I want to do, I do not do and what I do not want to do, I do" business. Paul so nailed it. I have really struggled with loving my children in gentle ways. It is much easier to harshly discipline or harshly react. It's easier to yell or have hands that are a bit too rough instead of gentle and tender. I've also found myself seeing lots of angry words coming from one child in particular and then wondering if that is a result of what I'm modeling. And both of my kids have just struggled this week with repeated disobedience for the same things over and over. As I have kept saying the same words about disobedience making God sad because it hurts our hearts, I have found myself growing weary of those words, wondering if it really matters what I say because it all seems to leaving their little heads as fast as I say it.

I also struggled a bit with knowing my role in my husband's life as I have been praying for him to choose to do something with the boys who will be graduating from the soccer team. We've often talked about doing something like a book study or a small discipleship group but I haven't been sure of my role in encouraging him to do that. It kind of came to a head this week in my conversations with him. I've been trying to not say much and to instead pray for him to be convicted by God. But by last night, I had felt like I had pushed instead of encouraged and that I had overstepped my boundaries in our relationship. Another sin issue. Me pushing to get my way, to get my husband to do what I want him to do. (Even though it is really more of an issue of me pushing to get my husband to do what I think God wants him to do. It's still an issue of me putting my desires first.)

But today the grey drearyness of both the weather and the heart things I've been wrestling with have started to lift. I got to spend yesterday with three other three year olds and their moms. It gave me some much needed perspective. I needed to see other moms training and retraining and training some more, to see that my struggles with my kids' disobedience was not unique. I think that helps to alleviate some of the frustration and that helps me be gentler and more full of grace as I discipline.

And today as I spent part of my day wondering if my husband was choosing to pursue a ministry opportunity with senior boys because he was relenting to my pressing and not the pressing of the Lord, I saw God at work in the book my husband decided to use with this group. D revealed his plans tonight at the soccer banquet and without knowing it, picked a book that a popular and respected football coach at the high school has read and relies on. As D announced his plans, his assistant coach stood up and shared this information about the football coach and several of the soccer boys started shaking their head in agreement that this book was an important book. And D had 6 boys sign up. They'll join us for snacks at our house on Sunday afternoons, probably some soccer, and some discussions about life and purpose based on Jim Tressel's The Winners Manual. We weren't even sure if we'd have one boy sign up because let's face it, what high school boy who has just graduated once to come talk about a book, especially one that might be a bit "deep" in thought. It just seemed like a God thing, where I'm not sure if God was validating the conversations I had with D or not but that God was reassuring us that He wants us to get where He wants us to go more than we want to get there. (Love that quote from Mark Batterson.)

So today I'm thankful. Thankful for a God who hasn't left me despite my shortcomings. Thankful for a God who is an ever present hand at my back, urging me to press on but coming back to help me regroup if I make a wrong turn. May you feel that same hand too, believing that no hole is to deep for God to not climb into it with you.

God and Me-Back to the Basics

I haven't posted anything with a God and Me tag in a while. Let me explain why: our regular PC crashed. I know, that makes perfect sense.

The things I post as God and Me stuff actually sprang up out of a trip D and I took to Lima, Peru where the church we worked with was just so authentic in their faith. They were so passionate about the condition of one's heart. It sparked in me a desire to be this way, to be transparent in who I was, what I was dealing with, and to be very conscious of the state of my soul and those around me. Out of this desire came a weekly email, sent by me to my friends. (My blog didn't exist yet so the email format was how it went out.) I simply said "here's what God is doing in my life this week."

I'm sure some people just hit delete as soon as the email hit their in box. But it wasn't really for them. It was for me. It was me saying "here's my life, lived within the arms of Jesus. Take it or leave it, but here's what it looks like." Those emails really provided a lot of depth to my relationship with God. Every week, when you sit down and start saying to yourself, "What is God doing in my life? Have I lived as someone whose identity is in Christ? Have I fallen down a lot? What was good? What was cruddy?"...when you make yourself do that and then share it, suddenly the stuff that happens in between the Sunday church service and the night when you are writing means a lot more. The words you might have read just the day before but have quickly forgotten are once again in your face. I thought a lot longer and deeper about some of the things God had been putting before. It just made me more aware of the spiritual nature of my life.

Lately though, I've been out of touch with that. A computer crash has made my email address book inaccessible. I've used that as an excuse to not reflect on what God has been doing in my heart.

And then there's just life. Adding a new person to your family means changes in routine. I finally think we're getting a routine down. But truthfully I really struggle to get in quiet time every day. (Even as I type this, I haven't set down with God yet today.) It seems like I can shower and eat breakfast, or shower and do quiet time, or exercise and shower, but it seems like I rarely am able to exercise, shower, eat breakfast, and get my quiet time in. It's that having to choose between things that are necessary, things that are good for you, and things that should be most important.

So here's the deal: I'm getting back to doing what has been good for me in the past. And truthfully, if you haven't ever challenged yourself by making a committment to share with others what God is doing in your life, on a regular basis, consider yourself challenged. It doesn't have to be flowery or lovely; in fact I think a lot of what comes out is exactly the opposite of that. But it will certainly change you. Introspection always does.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

There's a Hole in the Street...and other drama...

A few years back we had a leak in our yard from underground pipe. Upon digging things up, our plumber discovered a lead fitting which connected our water supply to the city main. Under government regulations, this needed to be replaced. So our plumber replaced the leaky pipe as well as the fitting which attached our pipes to the city water main. This included sections of pipe and the fitting that were underneath the city street. According to our city's policy, the homeowner "owns" all water pipes up to the main, even if those pipes are under the city street. At that time, we paid $1500 to have the necessary work done.

At the end of last November/beginning of December, we received a call from the city saying that we had a leak in the street coming from one of our pipes. In the street, there was water squeezing through cracks in the street. not a lot of water but water nonetheless. We contacted the plumber who did the original work and he said he didn't know if it was our pipe or the city's that was leaking but that he would put us on the calendar for the next week to come out and use a camera to see what was leaking. It snowed later that week (like a lot of snow) and he never came. We weren't too worried about it seeing as there was snow everywhere. The city did call again probably ten days after their original call and I told them I had contacted our plumber and was waiting for him to come out. I contacted the plumber again and he said he would be out but not to get too worried unless the leak started to leak in a different way. Two days before Christmas, about three weeks from the first phone call from the city, we were getting ready to go out of town and noticed that the leak had now moved to a different spot in the street. I contacted both our plumber and the city and told them this. The plumber said it would be fine, to not worry about it. The city continued to say it wasn't their problem. We then went and did our Christmas traveling, returning a few days later, and find sawhorses and a hole in front of our house. Someone had come up and worked on the leak. No one called us to tell us they were going to do the work so we didn't know who it was. We called our plumber who said it wasn't them. So we called the city who had indeed come up and done the work. They told us that it was creating a mess and so they had to do the work on Christmas Eve. I spoke again with our plumber expressing concern over the city doing the work and that this was probably going to create a problem. The plumber told us not to worry about it until we got a bill. Two months go by and we finally receive a bill from the city. For $1008. $1000 in labor and $8 in parts. 5 men working at $25 an hour. 5 men digging one hole who apparently needed to use a backhoe for 5 hours to dig that hole. (Which is still has not been backfilled or refilled with cement.)

I then contacted both the city and the plumber saying the two of them needed to get together and discuss what was going on with this situation. After a month of twisting arms to try to get the plumber to go look at the part and determine if he was responsible, I finally heard from the city that the part simply failed and that the plumber was not responsible. Or it could have been pitted when the backfilled the dirt but who really knows. I placed multiple calls over a three week period to our plumber asking for him to verify that this was his position but he never returned my calls. I then contacted our attorney. Who told me that neither she or her partner could really help us as she was the attorney for the plumber and her partner was connected to the city. They referred us to someone else who referred us to someone else who referred us to someone else all because each attorney had a conflict of interest in helping us. We finally ended up with an attorney who we did not know who said he would look into it. 3 weeks later, after several calls to him, he finally calls us back to say that he spoke with the water department manager of the city and that the man is unwilling to budge on the bill. The attorney feels like he can't help us and that the only avenue left is to try to prove the plumber's negligence in small claims court. Which I don't know that I can do because the part may have just been defective. Obviously, if he had come out sooner the city wouldn't have gotten involved but I'm not sure this is negligence/shoddy work.

Anyone reading this want to scream? It is beyond maddening. We have the city who came out and simply performed a task with no notice that they were going to do so and then bills us an outrageous amount. We have a plumber who is absolving himself of any responsibility in his initial work and then in his failure to act on the second problem in a timely way. We have a bunch of lawyers who all are connected to the city or the plumber and are unable to give even simple advice. And us? Well we have a $1000 bill and a big hole in front of our house. I find myself in one of those situations where I'm not sure what the right thing to do is. I am not looking for a fight. I'm not trying to be difficult. I simply want other people to do the right thing by us. What's the godly response, the one that is not vindictive or spiteful but doesn't allow yourself to be taken advantage of?

We're now onto contacting the city attorney and contesting our bill as well as contacting our city council representative. (Who I don't even know who it is. How bad is that? We're "outsiders" in this town so we just don't know all of the ins and outs and to be honest, that's one of those things we should know and don't.) As to the plumber, I'm not sure what we can do. Anyone got any ideas? Anybody else been in a situation like this, where you feel like you're being treated unfairly but don't feel like you have a lot of recourse?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Adventures in Dining

If you have not had the joy of eating with two three year olds, you should consider yourself invited to our place for a meal. It's an adventure to say the least. Here's my lunchtime recap from today. I call it "Cirque de Peanut Butter and Oranges."

Two children, sitting, prayers said, one orange rescued from someone's mouth before said prayer. Children start happily and quietly enjoying their peanut butter sandwiches. For about ten seconds. First child holds half a sandwich up to his ear and starts talking like it's a cell phone. Second child follows suit. (No need to wonder what mystery gunk is in their hair; today I KNOW.) Children told to put sandwiches down. One child does and picks up her orange sections, which she pokes holes in and slides onto her fingers like rings. Child told to just eat her oranges. Other child has now poked a hole in his sandwich and is trying to wear his sandwich like a ring as well. When told to stop, he holds the hole up to his eye and pretends to take pictures with his handy dandy all in one sandwich/camera. In the meantime, child number two has taken the orange sections and jammed them into holes that she made in the top of her sandwich, like a some little Dutch boy plugging a dike. Orange/peanut butter combination is ignored by the adult; sandwich used as a camera is not. Boy decides he is done with his sandwich after eating a half, is reminded to try his oranges and washes his hands. Girl attempts to extract the peanut butter from the sandwich (still stuffed with oranges) by using only her index finger to scoop out the peanut butter from between the slices of bread. At seeing the boy go wash his hands, she decides she too is done. Until her mother breaks her heart by telling her that she has eaten hardly any of her sandwich and must come back and eat at least two more bites. Somewhere in between all of that, leftover Sesame Chicken was consumed in a much more orderly way by one woman who is hoping that her children's table manners will improve before they go to kindergarten/pre school.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Apparently, nothing says "Happy Mother's Day!" to two three year olds like peanut butter because that's what they told D that I would like. (Actually, I believe they really wanted to get a peanut butter toy but he talked them into a jar of peanut butter.) I love that D lets them get whatever they really want. It's so funny to see what their little brains cook up.

Regardless, happy mother's day! There's a quote about well behaved women rarely making history. I'm thankful to have grown up in a a family full of history making women, women who rarely behaved. From my own mom to my granny to my grandmas, I have been blessed by their presence. I've since added women to the ranks of our family including my now departed but celebrating from heaven mother-in-law and two birth moms, Juislene and Bernadette, who both made choices that kept their children safe, healthy and well fed in a country where plenty of moms don't make those choices. Joyfully celebrating a mother's day with both of my kids in my presence, thinking fondly of my mother-in-law and wishing she were here, gratefully aware of the impact of the lives of many other women on my life....

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fantabulous Dulce de Leche Carmel-1 Ingredient Slow Cooker Recipe

As I write this, I'm enjoying a wonderfully ooey gooey snack of carmel and chocolate animal crackers. Actually I've been going at it a bit like fondue pot. Pretzels in carmel. Apples in carmel. Celery in carmel. (Not really, but I'm guessing I could probably eat this carmel on just about anything.)

Seriously good and here's the kicker...super easy. Buy sweetened condensed milk. (However many cans you want.) Leave it in the can but remove the label. Put it in your crockpot/slower cooker with enough water to completely cover the cans. Plug your cooker in and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Open and enjoy. It's a actually better if you are patient enough to let the carmel cool down in your fridge overnight. But we ate it semi warm last night for supper and managed to choke it down.

I can't believe I didn't know about this before....

Monday, May 3, 2010

3 Months

It has been three months since Conleigh was released to our custody. How all of our lives have changed in that three months! It never ceases to amaze me how much my kids have had to process in their first months home. It tears me up every time to consider how upside down their lives must have felt that first day, first week, first month. How upside down their lives still may feel from time to time.

Conleigh is a totally different child than Kenson ever was. As in, why does the first child never prepare you for the second? But that's exactly how God created them both. She is so much braver and more confident. I don't mean that she is always confident, because she's not. She definitely still shrinks into herself when overwhelmed. But she has a better handle on who she is and what she wants. She has a lot more spatial awareness and knows how to manipulate her body to get it up onto things. She also came home talking in phrases. Her language seems to almost always be added in phrases, rather than single words.

We are seeing great improvement in her behavior. She does listen to our redirection and has started to stop with just a verbal cue. Not always but much more than when she first came home. She will sit on the stairs for time out with minimal complaining. She no longer cries the entire time she has to sit and doesn't spend her time trying to get up. She is much more compliant in general.

We are still struggling with sleep issues. Our schedule has been a bit inconsistent due to soccer games but the regular season will be finishing up this week so we should be able to get back to normal. With late night soccer games a few times a week, one would expect her to sleep later the next day or take a longer nap or actually sleep through the night. The only one that has happened as been the sleeping through the night. She slept through the night 3 nights in a row this week. But the rest she was up in the middle of the night. The week before that, not even three nights. The lack of sleep really manifests itself in overreactions. She overreacts to just about everything. Kenson brushes up against her? Screaming and loud wailing. The dog gets too close? Screaming and loud wailing.

And the best part? (Truly one of the sweetest joys of adoption.) Watching her real self emerge. Seeing the layers slowly peel back and seeing her real personality come out. She's a tomboyish dare devil who can hang with the toughest of the long as she's in charge. She is shy and quiet around new people but if they do something she doesn't like, you can be certain she will break her silence to tell them "Don't do that!" A stern look and a finger wag usually accompany those words. She is a domestic diva in the making and loves to diaper her babies, wash the dishes, and make all sorts of pretend food dishes. (Give that a few years; I'm guessing she won't be so inclined as a teenager.) She is stubborn at worst and determined at best. She is curious, always having to be in the middle of whatever is going on. My mother says I'm raising a child who is a lot like myself. (And for some reason, she thinks that is really funny.) Regardless, I'm looking forward to the next 3 months, excited to see what those months hold.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tidbits from the week

*After a quick q and a session with Kenson about the letters in the dog's name, I overheard him tell the dog, "You hear that, Bo? It's B-O." Said with complete confidence in the dog's ability to remember and apply the information.

*And speaking of the dog, we no longer have the dog. He made a dash out of the gate on Friday while I was going to the car with the kids to get groceries. I quickly made sure the kids were locked in the back yard and took off after him but after chasing him 3 blocks decided I really had to turn back since I left two three year olds unattended. We got in the car and looked but never did find him. He has tags so maybe he'll turn back up. (One can hope, can't they? Especially since Kenson asks about 20 times a day "Where's Bo?' Also, it would have been nice of the dog if he had let me know his intentions of running away before I plopped down $80 in shots.)

*Both of my kids have slight umbilical hernias (outie belly buttons). Combine this with 3 year olds who don't quite have a solid handle on body parts and body part functions and you have a little girl who, upon watching her brother go potty, tried to use her outie belly button to go potty.

*Conleigh went with D to soccer practice on Saturday. She decided she would water the grass with the ever popular squat and potty method. Of course, D didn't see it until someone pointed it out to him. At Doane. On the turf.

*Conleigh's been diaper free during the day starting on Friday. So far only one accident. Wearing "unnahwahr" is a huge motivator.

*Kenson has been fighting some allergy type gunk and has a constant drippy nose and a cough. =(