parenting

weekends are for estate sales, adventures and mud.

Thursday afternoon isn’t technically the weekend, but our 11 year old finished up his first session of Ninjutsu and enjoyed it very much.

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Friday night Dear Husband and I went to the Bonstelle Theatre in Detroit to see our oldest dance in the annual spring concert.  We had to leave early because out youngest was ill at home.

We found a couple of estate sales on Saturday after determining that youngest was feeling well enough and we set out on a very muddy adventure.

We can home with some fun finds.

Some useful kitchen knives as well as other silverware because we tend to run out before they all get cleaned.

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a spice rack that needed some serious cleaning.  Here are the bright shiny bottles ready to be filled up.

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A meat slicer that really brings back some not so pleasant memories of slicing lots and lots of meat in the cafeteria of my dorm at MSU.
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A meat grinder.  Doesn’t everyone need one of those?  :)

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Our herbs finally germinated.  Basil and Cilantro.

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Before we left on Saturday freshly belted Ninjutsu boy managed to wrestle with some barbed wire and got a nice cut on his scalp which resulted in a tetanus shot on Monday. It’s about 3.5 inches long, but not deep at all.

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On Sunday we decided to make a trip to the new Cabella’s Outpost store and to check it out.  On the way home, driving 70 miles per hour on the freeway our youngest cut himself on a multi-tool.  Good and deep.  That one required a side-trip to the ER.

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So, we waited…and waited.  Realizing that it was going to be awhile, Dad went home with the rest of the boys and I stayed with the little one.

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The floor is the best place to be when you don’t feel well.

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Even after getting all bandaged up…the floor is still the best option.

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This injury did require stitches, unlike the head wound.

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Our weekend kind of spilled into Monday.  With yummy stuffed shells for dinner.  This was an experiment that turned out well.

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This was before baking, I didn’t get any after baking photos because we were all too hungry to stop for a photo.  They turned out very yummy.  No cheese, just ground beef and brussels sprouts.  Topped with pasta sauce.

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And finally to round out the weekend the boys just couldn’t resist the call of the wild just once more.  That hole they dug in the backyard becomes the most awesome mud pit when it rains.

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Today, they will be spending a bit of time rinsing out their clothing so that it can safely be put into the washing machine.

Quite an adventure this weekend. I’m ready for some quieter days myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekends are for vet visits, sledding, pizza and gardening

Our weekend began with my dear husband leaving for a men’s conference with some friends for the day on Saturday. After my prayer time with my cup, ok, entire pot of coffee, the rest of us headed off to the vet with our lame little bunny.

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If you have a squeamish tummy you may want to skip the first few photos of his abscess.

This is what it looked like before the vet saw him this time.

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This is what it looked like after he removed the “necrotic flesh” and some of the infection.

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Yeah, it’s kinda gross, but the prognosis is good.  More antibiotics and another visit scheduled in the middle of this week.

When we got back we got all ready and headed out to meet some friends for an afternoon of sledding.

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I didn’t get a ton of photos or very many “quality” ones because I was having too much fun sledding myself. :)

We then shared pizza and hot cocoa with the gang of us.

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Once the husbands/fathers returned we all had dinner and shared stories and fellowship until well after dark.  Wonderful day!

We spent Sunday morning beginning our planning of a veggie garden.  I took some measurements with a super cool tool that I borrowed from my neighbor.  This was SO much easier than using a short tape measure all by myself.

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I found a great idea on the web to start seeds in the window using a binder page designed to hold collector cards.  I placed an order for a bunch of heirloom seeds, but the haven’t arrived yet and I had these seeds in the garage, so I thought I would at least begin with them rather than just tossing them out.

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Here is the first round of broccoli and Cabbage all hung up and ready for the magic to happen.

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Perfect beautiful day for planting seeds…lol  Can’t wait to see some green sprouts in there!  Also can’t wait for my load of heirloom seeds to arrive and for my husband to get my wonderful raised beds built.  Guess I should start looking around for where to get a whole lot of good dirt and compost.

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One of my sweet little boys slept with some silly putty on Saturday night.  Needless to say we have a mess on our hands.  After some research, I discovered some suggestions for getting it out of his shirt and his blankie.  I instructed him, so he put on his headphones and listened to his PlayAway audio book and went to work.  I must admit that there were tears and attitude before I suggested the book.  Brilliant suggestion!  Worked like a charm.  Must remember that one for the future!

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That wraps up our weekend.  I will keep you posted on the growth of our garden/compost/rain barrel experiments as the season approaches.  I am sure we will make plenty of mistakes but I’m still hoping for some delicious home grown veggies and fruits this year.

What are you up to?

 

 

 

The Joy of the Mundane

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Most of the time it seems our lists and chores and errands are just something to get done and get out of the way.  They aren’t joy-filled, or joy-making.  We view them as joy-destroying.  Endless drudgery that must be done over and over and over again and no one cares and no one notices.  I have felt this way, and will probably sink down into it and feel it again, but I won’t stay there.  Not after what I have learned.  I have learned to find hope and joy among the laundry and dishes.

I want you to find it too.

It has to do with the lenses which we use to focus on the mundane drudgery that is part of our daily existence.  We create mess every day.  We must prepare meals every day.  It can seem like a life sentence confining us to endlessly repeat the same tasks over and over again and never make any progress forward, for as soon as the hamper is empty, someone puts something dirty in it.  As soon as the sink is empty, someone puts something dirty in it.  We feel emptied by the work and then we put something dirty in it.  Dirty thoughts of hopelessness, drudgery,  not being appreciated or loved, taken advantage of, used up and useless all at the same time…and so many more.  This is a vicious cycle and this is what women have railed against for years.  ”We need only think of how the gift of motherhood is often penalized rather than rewarded, even though humanity owes it’s very survival to this gift.” (John Paul II, On the Dignity of Women).  But there is more to it….there is beauty and purpose in it. There is something that those who belittle this vocation and womanhood have missed.

We have been tricked into looking at our life through the wrong lens.

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We were created by a loving and generous God in His image and He said that we are good (Gen1:27-31). God’s first instructions to man and woman was to work…be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth, til it and keep it. (Gen 1:26, 2:15).  Work was not a burden in the beginning.  It was a sharing in the creative work of God.  Blessed John Paul II talks extensively about the dignity of work and the worker, no matter what the work, or where it’s done and that this work is what makes us even more human.  Work is the mark of a family…”the mark of a person operating within a community of persons”.  He calls the family “a community made possible by work and the first school of work within the home for every person.” (Blessed John Paul II, Laborem exercens)  Including us moms.  If we think about it, we are always being “schooled” in the areas of housework.  There are so many books, blogs, websites, articles in papers and magazines on housekeeping, cleaning, organizing, parenting,…the list goes on.  So, from the beginning and without end our “home”work is learned in our homes, every day.  We, as mothers and wives, are the primary learners and teachers of this “home”work.  If it is such an important part of our family and our world, then why is it so difficult and wearisome to our spirits? What about our lens?

“Awareness that man’s work is a participation in God’s activity ought to permeate….”the most ordinary everyday activities.  For while providing the substance of life for themselves and their families, men and women are performing their activities in a way which appropriately benefits society.” (Blessed John Paul II, Laborem exercens).  So,the first filter we need to attach to our lens is that of work having purpose in the life of man.  That work was created for man, after man was created.  That work is important to the very fabric of our world.  With only this filter, we can see that there is a need for work and that God told us to do it, but it still isn’t quite clear.  We work out of innate human-ness and out of obedience to God.

But there is still  more.

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If we look to our Lord, Jesus Christ, He had some things to show us and to tell us.  Both Matthew (20:28) and Mark (10:45) tell us that Jesus, the greatest of all, came to serve and not to be served.  If the one who can do all things came to serve us who can do nothing without Him, then we too should be here to serve and not to be served.  I have heard it over and over again that if you are feeling down and sad, serve someone; if you are feeling lonely and your life pointless, serve someone; if you are feeling guilty and angry, serve someone.  Service to others is not only a way of following Christ’s example but it lifts us up inside.  It actually makes us feel good.  So, in practice I can see this when serving in the community or serving those in need, but it is hard to see our work in the home as service to someone in need.  When we look through the filter of expectations and return for investment, we don’t get lifted up, because our family is not applauding us for our work.  We are tired and worn down, but if we turn and look to Jesus we hear Him saying:

“Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Here, Jesus says he will help us bear the burden if we go to Him.  So, we turn from our worldly expectations of applause and thanks, we turn from the world that John Paul II stated is often looking down on the vocation of women as mothers, we turn from our own disillusionment and go to Christ who will be our help.  Just as God made woman to help man, so Christ promises to help us.  We are to be Co-workers with Christ.

Wow!

Suddenly I”m not doing this alone, in the darkness of my own despair.  Jesus is with me! In me! and working through me!  And what is Christ, if not love?  “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” (1John 4:16). God is love and He is in me!!  I have Love right there inside of me…what do I do with that love?  “…let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” (1John3:18).  So, love isn’t a feeling, love is a doing!!  I must DO in order to love. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph 5:1-2).   Christ told me to learn from Him, to cast my cares on Him, that he would help me, that He is love and I should imitate and share that love, by imitating Him, by making my work a unified sacrifice with Christ and therefore a fragrant offering to God.  My laundry can be a bouquet for God the Father through Christ and with Christ!  That definitely brings a different filter to add to my  lens.100_3730

“When the laundry is for the dozen arms of children or the dozen legs, it’s true, I think I’m due some appreciation.  So comes a storm of trouble and lightning strikes joy.  But when Christ is at the center, when dishes, laundry, work, is my song of thanks to Him, joy rains.  Passionately serving Christ alone makes us the loving servant to all. ..The work becomes worship, a liturgy of thankfulness.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts).

We are given the choice to share lovingly in the work that Christ came to do by enduring the toils, and hardships of work and collaborating with Christ who was crucified for us to help redeem the world.  Our work is redemptive when united with Christ’s work.  By carrying our cross daily in the work of our home and family we show that we are disciples of Christ and that our work can be a means of our own holiness and a way of bringing the Spirit and love of Christ into the ordinary activities of everyday.  We have been endowed with the “Genius of women” who by way of our ordinary life we “reveal the gift of (our) womanhood by placing (ourselves) at the service of others in (our) everyday lives.  For in giving (ourselves) to others each day (we) women fulfill (our) deepest vocation” (Blessed John Paul II, On the Dignity of Women).2008 Florida 042

Which lenses will you choose today?

Today I choose Joy!  (if only I remembered to pick up the right lens every day!)

 

 

 

 

What are we really saying “yes” to?

What are we choosing when we say “yes” or “no” to: “Mommy, can I play xbox/wii/computer?”

What do our consents, denials, or non-answers like “I don’t care”, or “I suppose” really lead to?

When I give permission for games and television that’s exactly what I get…my boys don’t opt out on their own. So they are sucked in to generally mindless entertainment.  Even if I allow only educational programming, games, and websites, part of the child’s system really does check out when he is absorbed by visual stimuli.

If I don’t agree to electronics, but don’t give a clear and direct “no”, the default for them is…you guessed it, electronics.  They are drawn to them, they are stimulated and entertained without much effort.  Even when they get frustrated with the outcomes of their actions in their games they still stay.  Being a “non-gamer”, I really don’t understand that behavior.  But I don’t truly have to understand the underpinnings of motivation to see that too much time in front of a screen is detrimental.  They are less relaxed, more irritable, less creative and imaginative, more frustrated and less patient to name just a few outcomes when they spend too much time drawn into computers and devices.

They aren’t as happy and they aren’t as much fun.

I am not one to eliminate games, movies etc from our home.  I really do believe they have a place in our lives.  I do applaud those who are happily living without some of them though.  To own and use the many options for electronic entertainment and information is a personal choice.  It’s the overuse that causes problems in our home.  And I believe “over use” has a personal threshold.

What truly surprised me was the realization that saying “yes” to electronic entertainment really meant I was saying “no” to other things.  Since my boys, by default, are drawn to this type of entertainment, by saying “yes” too often I was removing other options that they wouldn’t have discovered if I had said “no”.

By denying the privilege of  games and movies I was saying yes to so much more!!

I was saying yes to: Continue reading

Change is in the air

Saturday we were preparing for a family to come over and spend some time with ours.  We have children sprinkled in between each other and they all get along quite well.  A big boisterous bunch of kids (I would have said boys to keep the alliteration going, but she has a couple of girls to throw in the mix-who are just as boisterous and fun), running, playing, jumping…they are like a big pile of puppies so excited to get together and play they are just a mob falling and rolling and laughing.  It truly is amazing to see.  The unbridled joy and seeing each other and anticipating all the fun they can have.  Even the preteens are young again, and can let go of that big girl/boy air about them and just wallow in the fun and joy of friendship.  Needless to say, we were all looking forward to the night.

There had been some miscommunication between us moms though.  It turned out she came alone with the kids intending to babysit while hubby and I went on a date.  We weren’t prepared for that, but decided to rejoice in her generosity and head out together for some alone time.  We had already eaten dinner, and there weren’t any movies playing that we wanted to see so we used our old standby-bookstore with a coffee shop inside!!  Yes!!  One of our favorite places.  The name on the door doesn’t matter as long as there are books to browse, wifi to utilize, and coffee to consume. Continue reading

Weekends are for India, Vikings, guns, and picaken!

This weekend was just as full as the last one I do believe, but in good ways.

We went to the World Fair fundraiser for the local school district.  The elementary school transformed several of their rooms into experiences from different countries.  The kids enjoy going and seeing how the rooms transform.  They like to see their teachers and their friends, and to do any fun hands-on activities.   There is  food to sample from the different countries (this was mom and dad’s favorite part), usually some artifacts of some type, sometimes a demonstration and almost always a craft.  My boys like crafts, but prefer those with a purpose or when they are in the right frame of mind (read bored, and feeling creative). Continue reading

Weekends are for Parties and Projects

We had a wonderful opportunity on Saturday to celebrate a first birthday with our nephew/cousin.

We don’t see them often enough and it was so nice to connect and celebrate.

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Celebrating one year!!  What a cutie!  He enjoyed his day very much.

His older sisters also had a great time playing with their cousins. Continue reading

Chore Strategy

We are big on chores here in our cozy stuffed full home.  We believe that it takes a family to make a house run and that children are chore list on refridgeratorintegral in running a household.  The kids have a separate set of chores for morning, after school, and evening.  They know what they are supposed to do and when it is supposed to be done.  They even have an understanding of why it is important to complete their chores (at least intellectually) as members of a cohesive family.  But, as with many of us adults, they have  difficulty with follow-through.

The usual way of getting through this thrice daily chore time has been rather painful.  It has evolved into something ugly and unsatisfying for all involved.  It has become something that no one in their right mind would want as part of their daily, let alone three times a day, routine.  I believe I must bear the brunt of the load when it comes to figuring out how this happened and why it continues, and ultimately how to mend it.

I have been a bit of  a curmudgeon (actually angry and frustrated with ugly words and sounds) when it comes to chore time and the natural tendency to rebel against that type of parenting has become the modus operendi for our family.  This is what it looks like.

Mom says, “Chore time”.  Kids all scatter or ignore mom and go play, wrestle, read, fight, whatever happens to pop up.  Mom follows and tells them they must do their chores.  They state that they are sorry, and with sad faces begin with something on their list.  Then they start playing, fighting, reading, etc.  This time mom comes and yells and threatens with punishments and removal of privileges and sometimes even outrageous threats that we all know are outright lies and kids respond the exact same way..apologies, sad faces and half-hearted attempts to do a chore.  This again devolves into “not chores” and mom just raises the frustration response and attempts to force with ugly words the act of “doing chores”.  This process is repeated until we are all tired and frustrated and unhappy. Then, if they haven’t done them properly I also have a habit of just finishing it up while they are at school, or outside playing.  So, they really aren’t learning any personal responsibility or motivation other than keeping mom happy, and that doesn’t seem to be much of a motivator either.boy scrubbing stove

Their chores are not unreasonable.  They are pretty much personal chores which involve taking care of their own bodies and their own belongings; getting dressed, picking up their toys and anything else they have left lying around the house or their rooms, homework, showers, brushing teeth, putting their clean folded laundry away and their dirty laundry in the hamper etc.  The usual things that any reasonable parent expects their children to do.  Then they each have a “pay chore” to earn their spend/save/give money.  This is one particular chore per child such as -taking care of the pet, washing dinner dishes, taking care of trash and recycling etc.  Reasonable tasks, and if they truly don’t want to do their pay chores they don’t have to, but they won’t earn any money at they end of the week. Continue reading

Bowls, Bunnies, and Bullies

My rabbit, the house kind that just hops around all the time and doesn’t even have a cage to call his own, seemingly doesn’t like his food in a bowl.  We put it in a little plastic dish intended for a small animal and he dumps it in a heap then grabs his bowl and throws it across the floor.  I have been known to sweep that food up and put it back into his bowl, only to have him repeat the spilling and throwing again when he wants to eat.  I believe it’s easier to find the tastiest little pieces when it is all spilled out on the floor, and it’s a more natural form of grazing.  It’s the way God created rabbits, to snuffle over the ground and find the tasty bits to munch on.  The confined walls of his bowl only frustrate this behavior because they don’t allow the searching.

This little seemingly insignificant behavior led me to think of my son, my all-spilled-out boy.  That’s what he is….he doesn’t hide much of himself and you can’t really find his “place” in the house because his stuff is everywhere.  He just drops stuff all over as he moves through the house.  If I didn’t insist that he pick up all those things and put them in the proper places we would be searching through all the piles for the pieces that are needed or wanted.   He bares himself naked all through his day-the naked raw emotions of the entire spectrum.  He sprawls and drapes himself where ever he settles.  He is physically, mentally, and emotionally all-spilled-out.  Does he need a container? Probably, but only to help him find what he needs, to label his mental and emotional states, and then move on to the next spilling out.  It’s like the rabbits bowl, he needs that bowl in order to find where his food is placed, because unlike a dog, he really doesn’t do a very good job of finding all the little pieces and eating them.  He could be lying right next to a favorite piece of food and not really even notice unless he happened upon it by chance or it was pointed out to him, so putting it all back in his bowl brings the important things together so he knows where to find them, and so he can spill them out again.  And so it goes with the all-spilled-out boy.  He needs order and structure to bring the things together that he needs so that he can spill out again.  It’s a dance. A beautiful life-affirming necessary and sometimes frustrating dance. Continue reading

New Beginnings

A new adventure awaits and I hope you will join me in seeing how it all turns out.

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I am excited and nervous about this new beginning as a blogger.

Looking forward with anticipation to the new world ahead and to sharing my little slice of the world with you.

A little anxious to jump out of my “nest” and to stretch my wings and learn to fly.

It’s difficult to try new things and learn new things….which is what we ask our children to do frequently.  I forgot how difficult that can be.  Stepping out of my own comfort zone helps me to remember what they must struggle with often, still being relatively new in this world to which I have become much more accustomed as an adult.

I love how, when we stop to think, we are given new chances to remember what childhood was like and how it was a struggle in ways that we often forget.  The ability to see that, and to use it to understand our children is a gift.  A gift of gentleness and understanding.  A gift of love and patience.

As I begin this new story I am thankful for the chance to remember what it feels like to step outside of the usual routine, to learn new things, and try new things.  I am thankful for those who have blazed the trail on which I am about to embark.