Friday, October 28, 2011

24 Hours as a Mom

You might be a mom if sometime within the last 24 hours...

You find a McDonald's Happy Meal Barbie in the crisper bin of the refrigerator.

You have to give the reminder that a stuffed lamb's hygiene does not warrant brushing teeth with real toothpaste or applying body lotion.

You overhear at lunch, "My feet are tired of eating."  "Your feet are tired of eating?"  "Yes, because the food is going all the way down there."

You may or may not have forgotten to start the dishwasher because you were interrupted by 1.  a girl who is eating cooked broccoli and alfredo noodles with her fingers 2.  a boy who is in the bathroom doing number 2 but feels compelled to use this down time as an opportunity to share about his school day.

You wake up to a little body snuggling in next to you saying, "I just want to sleep like this for a little bit."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

At least we're not picky....

Earlier today I tried to convince my two to go outside and play.  The October sky was clear, the sun warm, and the day seemed to be perfect for playing in the leaves, on the swing, or in the sandbox.  When I suggested that it was indeed beautiful out, I was met with disgust from Conleigh.  "No it's not.  It's not beautiful out!"  she insisted.    "There aren't any rainbows!"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Different Side of Orphan Care

After my trip to a couple of Romanian orphanages in 1997, my heart was singed by God.  I walked away forever changed.  The documentaries that were coming out of Eastern Europe regarding orphanages were true.  Babies in row after row of metal cribs with industrial fencing on the ends and edges to help keep the babies in.  Handicapped children who spent almost every hour of their lives untouched, forever scarred by the lack of human contact.  Gypsy babies with liquid eyes and wispy brown hair who most orphanage workers considered "dirty" and then questioned how anyone could kiss or hold them.  A poor country crushed by the pervasiveness of Communism, so pervasive that the government literally said it was a woman's duty to have as many children as she could, despite her inability to feed those children.

While I can't say that orphan care is always at the front of my mind, it is there often.  I used to be incredibly frustrated by the way most Americans were oblivious to what was going on with children in the rest of the world.   And then for some reason, orphan care became a trendy topic in churches around the U.S..  More and more people are aware of the way most women and children live.  However, it sometimes seems like the awareness stops short of being a true agent for change.   The focus narrows and often comes to rest on things like Samaritan's Purse Operation Shoebox or adoption.

I'm thankful people give and I'm thankful people adopt.  But unfortunately, those type of programs are not change mechanisms.

If you created a flow chart of sorts that portrayed families in crisis, the path to becoming an orphan, and the causation behind it, you would not find that the lack of an Operation Shoebox gift prevented the child from becoming an orphan.

And yes, it is true that adoption, prevents children from spending their lives alone as orphans.  But adoption or not, that child is still an orphan in his first life.  My kids, no matter how harsh it sounds, are orphans.  Have they been redeemed to some degree?  Yes, but their hearts and lives have been irrevocably changed.  Had we not been waiting, they may have stayed in orphanage care all of their lives.  But the real issue is not that they might have stayed in orphanage care.  The real issue is that they were even in orphanage care.  Even if a million families signed on to adopt, the reality is those million waiting families do not impact the process of how children become orphans.

Orphan care initiatives must do more than address the care of an orphan.  Instead, we as a church, as a community of people, must change our thinking and expand our label.  We need to be focused on orphan care and prevention.

Orphan care without prevention reminds me of an ER room.  Pretend for a moment that in that ER, you watch as patient after patient comes in with severed fingers, each one relaying to you how they had borrowed Joe's circular saw to do a home improvement project and that saw was missing it's safety guard.  How foolish would we be to bandage their wounds yet ignore the bigger issue of the saw?  Or what if a large number of people came in complaining of stomach pains, all of whom were uniquely tied to a family reunion and Aunt Maud's potato salad?  Unless the potato salad is removed from the buffet line, people will continue to suffer.  Of course, we can give them medicine and restore their health but wouldn't it be better to avoid the sickness?  Orphan care without prevention is like watching hurting people, attempting to repair what you can, and then doing nothing about the reason for the hurt.

While there are many reasons for why families fail and are unable to care for their children, a major one involves the health of the women within the families.  Women are historically the providers of care within a family.  When the women are unable to care for the children due to death or sickness, it places a heavy burden on the men.  All sorts of things play into this from AIDS/HIV to malnutrition, but one of the leading causes of death in women in the developing world is child birth.  The Livesay family serving in Haiti in a ministry that is tied to women's health recently reposted these statistics.

Worldwide the leading cause of death among women age 14 to 44 are complications from pregnancy and childbirth.

15% of all pregnancies result in a potentially fatal complication during labor and delivery. Women in the developing world rarely have access to emergency medical care.

More than half a million women die in pregnancy and childbirth every year - that's one death every minute. Of these deaths, 99 per cent are in developing countries. The lifetime risk of dying in pregnancy and childbirth in Africa is 1 in 22, while it is 1 in 120 in Asia and 1 in 7,300 in developed countries. (Source:UNFPA)

I have personally seen many fathers in Kenson's orphanage who lost a wife during childbirth (or shortly thereafter) and consequently placed their child in the orphanage.  

Head over to the Livesay blog and read their post on maternal care in Haiti.  Imagine your wife, sister, yourself giving birth in a country like Haiti and then consider how many women do give birth under such dire conditions every day.  Get involved beyond a project that is just about orphan care.  Step up and get involved in orphan prevention.  Vote for the Livesays.  Provide a financial gift to them.  Pray for the women they serve by name.  Don't be a bystander and don't just hand out some bandaids.  Choose prevention.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Call me a rockstar

Quite awhile ago, Passionate Homemaking had a post on how to be a rockstar with your kids. It involved visiting for school lunch and a pink tablecloth.  I think I just loved how the post simplified life, that our kids long for us to treasure them and do things that show they are treasured.  Small things, little things, things that seem very insignificant.  To be rockstar parents, we don't have to be perfect or invincible or able to conquer everything.  But somehow life gets busy and we find ourselves in the trenches, slipping and sliding into ruts as our kids' behavior frustrates us, the laundry vexes us, and the dirty floor laughs at us.  It is unfortunately all too easy to let the day go by and realize while sitting in the quiet that only comes after the kids go to bed that you did not do a single activity with them that involved face to face, "you are a blessing to me" time.

This week, I chose to be a rockstar.  It was not complicated.  It was something I stole from Pintrest.  Say hello masking tape roads!  Of course, I was hoping my kids would fall in love with it.  To be honest, I'm a bit surprised they haven't been more enamored.  (I was hoping for hours and hours of playing.  I think I got 30 minutes.)  But we'll leave it out another day and who knows, maybe, just maybe it will be loved as much as I love it.

Got a plan to be a rockstar this week?  Guess that gives me a valid reason for wasting time online.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Girl....

Apparently supper is a dangerous thing.  Or my cooking is dangerous.

Tonight, amid the pulled pork sandwiches, sweet potato fries, and green beans, Conleigh told me she was having trouble eating it because "it might be poisonous."

Where does she get this stuff?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sugar Cookie Bars

Can I tell you how awesome I am at not buying junk food while grocery shopping?

Can I tell you how not awesome I am at making something fattening?

Last night, I saw a recipe for Sugar Cookie Bars.  (The recipe is smack in the middle of a post featuring oodles of other yummy looking bar cookies.  Things like Marshmallow Blondies and Smores Cookies.)  So of course, tonight, I had to make them.  They were wonderful in a lot of ways.  One of the things I like least in a cookie are sandy, dry cookies.  Sugar cookies, when done wrong have a tendency towards the dry and sandy.  These cookies are not that.  They are slightly underdone but not in a bad way, just soft.  My other gripe about sugar cookies is that they take forever to prepare.  Even if you are not cutting out shapes, they still manage to be a time sucking project.  Not so with bar cookies.  And this recipe makes a large batch.  I did two 8 x 12 pans full.  I did mix some cardamon into my batter and made my frosting with lemon juice and lemon zest.  The photo with the recipe shows a lot of frosting so I went that route but if I were to do it again, I use less.  I thought the frosting almost overwhelmed the cookie.  I let the kids decorate them so we had rainbow sprinkles on half and purple sugar on the other. (Mostly even but clumped up in a few spots.  See the photo evidence.)

Butter, sugar, sprinkles, some footie pajamas...what more could a kid want.

Monday, October 10, 2011

One Heck of a Layover

On one of our trips to Haiti, D and I got stuck in an airport due to a missed flight.  We actually weren't stuck in the airport since we did receive a discount coupon to a local hotel.  (Thank you for the generous $10 off, Mr. Big Airline Company...)  But it was still frustrating.  The circumstances were beyond our control.  While sitting on the tarmac waiting for our plane to take off, we knew we were going to be running late.  We arrived at the airport to make our connecting flight and raced hopelessly to the right gate, knowing that we had probably missed the flight but still hoping it was not true.  And then the reality set in and we realized we were going to have to do something with our whiney "I just want to be at home!" attitude.  Home would have to wait, at least for one more night.  We watched other travelers, walking calmly to board their planes, smiling and laughing with each other.  We saw things that reminded us of what we were missing by not being home, things like $5 Diet Cokes and vinyl covered chairs.  We knew that the next day would be about a night of little sleep and crunchy, already worn clothes.  

I read something a few days ago where a blogger reflected on his trip to visit his dying sister.  He wrote of the way the layover in one city smacked of the grief process that had already started, how it was about leaving one place and being stuck in another while waiting for the inevitable to happen.  

Reading his words, I was reminded of my own layover experience, where I just wanted to be home but was stuck.  And I quickly saw how grief is like that.  

How I really just want to be in another place but I'm not.  

How I'd like to be past the place where I'm teary every day.  

How I'd like to be at a place where I confidently say how wonderful heaven will be because I will see the people whom I love...without silently thinking in my head something about how much more I wished they were actually here on this earth.  

How I'd like to be in the place where I don't have to recognize that I get to walk away from my folks' house (and the in your face way death has invaded there) while my mom and brother deal with the aggressiveness of it all.  

How I'd like to be in a place where my kids are not cheated by so many losses.

How I'd like to be in the place where I see the eternal implications for the untimely deaths of my mother in law and dad, instead of just the big gaping holes.

In a lot of ways, I know that I will get to those places.  But the reality is, I'm not there nor will I be there soon.    

In the last few weeks, I have been the outsider as two friends have lost loved ones.  One cared for her sister -in-law as she died from cancer.  One lost a spouse due to a sudden stroke at a crazy young age.  I hope they know that it is okay to be stuck.  That stuck is part of the process.  That at some point, they will hopefully get unstuck.  But to get unstuck you may have to sit in an uncomfortable place, a place that is stiff and unfamiliar and full of injustice like the $5 soda.  You may have to whine and jealously want what others have.    You may have to take the crappy hotel voucher with a slightly fake smile, while thinking less than gracious thoughts inside your head.  You may have to get less sleep and just not be as put together as you'd like.  But the place where you just want to get to is there.  I know it's there.  Maybe it won't actually be the place where I think I am going but Our God promises it is there.  The God who keeps my tears in a bottle, the God who has engraved me on his palm, that God says it is there.  

""This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." Lamentations 3:21 - 23

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkin and Apple Time

Last weekend, we headed to one of our favorite fall spots:  Martin's Hillside Orchard.  It's a perfect, smallish place that features apples, raspberries, and pumpkins.  I love that I can get apples for $1 a pound.  I love that they have about 15 varieties including my beloved Honeycrip.  I love that it's more about homespun, simple fun than a big fancy production.  From picking your produce to the corn maze to the straw tower and pedal tractors, it is just simple but fun.  My kids delighted at running through the corn maze in a game of hide and seek with a partner, then tip toeing to a hiding spot and trying to contain their giggles while they waited for the other grown up/child pair to find them.  And they had slushies!  Apple cider and raspberry lemonade flavored ones.  Quite delicious.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Summer Catch Up

These photos are from our June or July trip to Kansas.  (So long ago that I can't even remember when.)  One of the little girls from Conleigh's orphanage is only a few hours away.  I love that we can see her and her family.  Last summer, they had a trip planned that took them north so they came to our house to visit.  This year, we made plans to go there.  Even though it was a hot trip with temps well over 100, it was a very nice, low key day with lunch and the kids playing and the grown ups visiting.  The kids especially had a grand time.  They just played so well together.  From there we headed to a hotel for the night.  I was thrilled to eat at a diner that happened to have gooseberry pie.  (My granny had gooseberry bushes in her backyard which I loved to pick with her.  She also made pie with those berries and she loved to take turns asking the grandkids and great grandkids what kind of pie she should bring to the next family gathering.  Gooseberry was always high on my list.)   We decided we'd tour the Rolling Hills Zoo and Museum near Salina the next day.    It was a great zoo for our family.  The actual zoo is very spread out with beautiful lakes and walking paths.  It's not as big as the Henry Doorly in Omaha but it still has a fair amount of animals including many different primates, giraffes, and rhinos.  Right next to the zoo is a fully animated museum.  The robotic displays featured different eco systems/time periods.  The kids were a little spooked by the robots.  (Insert sad face...)  Even with the kids uncertainty, it was still fun be very close to gigantic stuffed polar bears, a life size elephant, and some very hairy buffalo.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

You might be in trouble during the teen years if...

your 4 year old comes into the kitchen with her notepad and points at the paper while uttering the words, "This note says it's not my turn to help put away the dishes."

Let's hope it's not a foreshadowing of things to come.