Friday, December 9, 2011

An Interesting Evening

Two days ago, I started having lower back pain.  I know that back pain is normal in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, and I remember having it quite a bit at the end with Gabriel, so I didn't really think anything of it, except that it was an annoyance, and really quite painful, more so than I remember with the others.  Yesterday, however, when I realized that this back pain was accompanied by contractions that came every time I got up and moved around, I started to get a bit concerned.  I mean, I am only 32 weeks, and as anxious as I am to meet the little guy, he really needs to stay in there and cook up a bit more before he makes his foray into the great big world.  

So, last night, after dinner and after the little guys went to bed, we left Elizabeth nestled on the couch with the phone at her side with the strict instructions to get in bed at 10, and Jimmy and I headed off to the hospital because I was having continuous contractions. 

Without going through all the details, I will just say that the upshot of the whole thing was that I am 'doing too much' and if the contractions don't stop when I am moving around, well, then, I'll just have to stop moving around. 

Hmmm...is that possible?

I was told that although the contractions are not strong, if they continue even as light as they are (they feel like Braxton Hicks, only they don't stop) they will eventually set off full labor, and it's not time for that.

I guess if it is necessary, it is do-able, but how does one just tell everyone 'Sorry.  I'm out of commission for the next month or so.'?  (That will bring me to 37 weeks.)

And how does one live?  I mean, you know the old axiom, you don't work, you don't eat...well, I've been pretty hungry lately...

So, in my attempt to cut down on what I am doing, I stayed in bed til 8:30 this morning, (after climbing in at about 12:45) and am dutifully sitting with good posture at my desk. 

And I am hydrating.  But to hydrate, I have to get up and go upstairs to get water or whatever when I finish what I have, which can bring on contractions....

And what exactly is 'too much'?  I mean, I don't FEEL like I am doing too much.  I am living like any other mom who has a job and responsibilities.  And I certainly did a lot more when I was pregnant with Jo.  I worked as an overnight manager at a warehouse, driving the forklifts and up and down ladders for 10-12 hours a night.

Of course, she was only my second, and that was about 5 years ago.

(Does that mean I'm getting old?)

Anyway, the good thing about last night was this: 

They did a sonogram just to see how the baby was and to see if I was effaced or anything yet, and it turns out that the baby is head down now!  Great news! 

In fact, he is SOOO far down that they had to put the reader thingy practically on my leg to see the top of his head. 

So thanks for the prayers guys; they definitely worked and got him in place.

Now, just to keep him in there for a little while longer and to stop the contractions! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Things 'Round Here

I have not been on here for a while because my computer was out of commission for a week at Thanksgiving, and then things seem to have been moving at break neck speed!

Elizabeth got straight A's on her report card but has confessed to being bored in most of her classes. 

So...she signed herself up for Science Olympiads and a special French program that culminates in a competition in the Spring.  Maybe that will keep her busy for a while.

Jo is going through a rough time with lots of crying and carrying on.  So much so that I sometimes wonder how we are going to make it together next year!

Gabriel is having a blast with the Christmas tree and looking at all the decorations.  But, in pure toddler style, he was looking at a Santa on the tree this morning and turned it around and announced 'Ewww...poopoo!'  Ah, yes, the potty training days are still upon us.  Although he uses the potty and knows exactly what it's for, he is not consistent, so we are still washing diapers.  I was hoping to get one out before the next one goes into the diapers, but i don't think it's going to happen.

Jimmy is working hard to catch up on everything that he needs to know about the business for when I leave, which is coming soon!  At the end of this month, we have inventory, and then I only have about a month left!

I am getting steadily bigger, but still feeling well.  The doc has said that the baby is in breech position, which if he stays that way means a C-section, but I am keeping positive thinking about how there are still about 10 weeks left for the little guy to change his mind and turn around.

My Pampered Chef business is also growing steadily.  Thank you to all of you who have supported me in this!  It is a crazy time what with working full time during the day and then working shows and festivals on the weekends in addition to keeping up with the kids and their schedules! 

Jimmy and I have also been researching homeschool curriculum and just how to go about making everything work out.  I am not so worried about Jo as I am about Elizabeth getting the right stuff so she can continue at the rate that she needs to.

Speaking of which, I told my mom and sister that we were going to homeschool Elizabeth next year.  It didn't go over quite as badly as I thought it would, although I am pretty sure that I can't really expect any support from either of them. 

But in the good news, my mom has invited Jo to go the harbor to see the ice display there.  That's a first.  I guess Jo is getting to be of the 'acceptable age' now.  I just hope she can hold herself together and behave or it may be another 3 or so years before they want to do anything else with her!

I need to post pictures of our tree!  It is up and has our mangy assortment of ornaments on it.  Think Charlie Brown's Christmas tree BEFORE the other kids decorated it!  But it's ours and we love it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why I Love It

People often ask me why I would want to sell Pampered Chef.  They say that they would never like to sell it, nor buy anything from the catalog nor host a show.  They say they 'can't cook' or that they 'hate to cook'.

And I say

You're missing the whole point!


The whole point, at least in my mind, to Pampered Chef is not just to give people who love to cook access to great quality reasonably priced cooking tools, but rather to get those of you who can't or don't like to cook into the kitchen and having fun!

Let me explain.

My husband, Jimmy, grew up in El Salvador.  His main diet was chicken and rice and tortillas and chicken with rice and tortillas.  Oh, and some eggs in there, too.

And when he and I started together, there was not much that he could really cook, or rather that he wanted to cook.  Me either, for that matter.  I mean I cooked, but it was boring stuff and the same stuff over and over again because I had no inspiration, and the tools I was trying to use were pretty ridiculous.

But then, when I got into Pampered Chef, I realized that if I stocked my kitchen with the right tools, it made it that much easier to cook, clean up and be inspired in the kitchen.

Jimmy, too.

So now, although our diet does consist of a lot of chicken and rice and beans and eggs, Jimmy has been known to just decide that he wants a treat and he will just get up and go to the kitchen, look through a cookbook and make what he wants.

(Which can be interesting actually.  He wants to do it all by himself, but let's just say that while I earned the decorated spoon in Home Ec in high school...well, he didn't.  But he doesn't ever want to show me the recipe that he wants to make.  He will just read out the ingredients

Butter?  yes
Eggs?  yes. But it says 3 and we only have 2.  That should work...
Flour? yes
Baking soda?  umm...no.  We don't have any.
Well, that's ok.  It only says to use a little.  I don't think I'll need it.

And it goes on like this until I am absolutely petrified to try the resulting product.)


But sometimes, actually most times, what he makes is a success and we all can't wait to try some!

Tonight was one of those times!

 Now, I must say that I usually don't want to be in the kitchen when things are happening because they can get a little scary...
Yes, that is a pencil that he is using to make the designs and cut outs on the cookies...

And things usually don't turn out the way that I would have made them...

Yes, that one on the top is Sponge Bob, and the one in the top left corner and the bottom right corner are 'angry birds' made for the benefit of Jo...

But the results were delicious and didn't last long! 

And so, Pampered Chef, my hat is off to you who gets my husband and daughter into the kitchen to produce wonderful tasting goodies!

In addition, of course to helping out with our every day recipes!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Encouragement

Our family has quite a few pretty big life changes coming up here soon and as much as I am usually a very upbeat and positive person, every once in a while, something will happen that will slip me into a little bit of a funk.

This was one of those things on one of those days.

It started out great, but then something happened, and my little smiley-head light that runs constantly in my head got switched off for a moment.

The drapes in my brain dropped down blocking all light and not allowing me to see the glow of my faith in things to come.  I knew at that moment, that nothing was going to work out as it should and that I should really just give up right then, change all plans back into something that none of us wanted but that seemed inevitable and just keep plodding down the bleak course where I seemed to be heading.

When out of the blue, the phone rings and it is a woman on the other end of the line.  This is a woman who I have only met once in my life and who I had called a few times to see if she wanted to order anything from Pampered Chef because she had first said that she did, only to be told that no, she found something better elsewhere and she would not be ordering from me.  Which is fine, but why was she calling me?


She told me that she was calling me to place an order with me because her mother had reminded her that she did want something particular but not just because of that...

She was calling me because she had liked my attitude and my respectful persistence in calling her in order to farther my business.  She, as a business owner herself, said that my attitude made her rethink what she was doing in her own business and made her realize that not many people followed through on what they said that they would do.  She said that she hoped and expected that my business would go far.

I was surprised and pleased at this.  And, instead of just taking the order and hanging up the phone, I thanked her specifically.  Her words of encouragement came at just the right time.  I told her that I had been feeling a little down and that her kind words were a blessing to me, and I know that made her feel good as well.  

After hanging up with her, I thought about the whole encouragement thing.  How many times do we actually stop and say, 'You're doing a good job' or 'I appreciate you'?  Do we say it enough to our husbands?  Our wives?  Our friends? 

Our children?

But why don't we do it more often?  Giving encouragement to someone helps not only them, but ourselves, too.  How can you feel negative when you are honestly seeing and praising a good quality in someone else? 

So, I am making this a challenge for myself...

Tomorrow is Sunday, the beginning of the week.  I am challenging myself to purposefully and sincerely say something encouraging or write and send an encouraging note to at least one person every day this week. 

And by blessing other people, I know that I, too, will feel as equally blessed.

Anyone want to join me?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Grow

Today is Friday, which means I'm linking up to Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday.

The rules?  Write for 5 minutes without stopping to correct or edit.

Today's topic?  GROW!

Ready?  Set?  GROW!

It starts with a cry and waving fist, uncontrolled and unsure.  Angry or hungry or tired or wet and the fist opens and grabs a finger, unknowingly clamping around something that's just its size.

Then there are the damp finger prints left on pants right around your knees where they run to hug your legs.

But in not too long, there is the pat on your belly and the hug right around your waist with hands clasped behind your back determined not to let go.

Then you bend so that they can hug your neck and you can bury your face in their hair that smells of outside and sweat and play.

But before you know it, there you are...looking eye to eye and putting your arm around their shoulders without having to stoop.

And you wonder...how did this happen?  Where did the time go?  How long ago was it really that you cradled your bulging belly in your arms awaiting their arrival?

But you look into their eyes and see wisdom and strength and you know that even as you miss their little hands and sticky fingers, you have done your job and they have done theirs...

Because in the end, they all must

grow.

STOP!


Come join us!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Homeschool Trepidation

I have been reading every book on home schooling that I can manage to get my hands on, and by now, I am realizing that all of them pretty much say the same things.  You can homeschool, there are many reasons as to why people homeschool, different states have different laws...all that kind of stuff.

Now, then, while all that is great to know, what I am coming up against is curriculum.  There seems to be so many out there to choose from!  I am not so worried about Jo, since she is just starting kindergarten, but what about Elizabeth? 

What happens if we try it with her and it doesn't work out and we want/need to put her back into school?  How will we be sure that she will have taken the right classes to be on level with her peers?  I am not so much worried that she will not learn as much as that if she doesn't take the classes in the right order, if she does end up going back to public school, she may need a class that most of the other kids have already taken in previous years, meaning that she would be in a class of students much younger than she would be.

I guess all I really need to do is to find out what the curriculum is of the public school and pretty much follow that path of learning, but even then, there seems to be so many choices of what books to use and what methods to use.  I am feeling a little overwhelmed, and I have barely even scratched the surface!

But in all reality, that is not really my main issue.

You see, next week is Thanksgiving.

What THAT means is that our family will get together with my family.  Meaning that Jimmy and I will load the can up with all the kids and take them to my parents' house where my sister and her husband and my brother and his girlfriend will be and then we are all supposed to sit down and eat a happy meal together without whining or crying that we don't like the food and without flicking sweet potatoes in our grandfather's hair (or lack thereof).  You see, I am the only one in the family who has kids, so of course that means that everyone ELSE in the family knows much better ways to raise and train children that Jimmy and I do, because of course if THEY had kids, THEIR kids would NEVER be allowed to                   (fill in the blank as you see fit). 

But even THAT is not the main problem that I am facing here, and the main fear that I have is telling my family that our family has decided to homeschool both Jo and Elizabeth. 

You see, that will not go over well. 

I do not really think that anyone will really care about Jo, because, like I said, she is 'only' going into kindergarten.  But Elizabeth is a different story. 

Looking at it from a purely academic viewpoint, there is really absolutely no reason for her not to continue in the public school system.  She is in very advanced classes and she gets straight A's.  All the time.  Every time.  And so, even though there are holes in her education, the public school does not see them, and since they teach to the test, even to the SAT's and ACT's, I am sure that Elizabeth will ace all the tests with flying colors and go on to graduate very high in her class.

But for Jimmy and me, that is not the only side that we are looking at.  We also feel the pull to keep her closer to home for other reasons, such as, as I have mentioned before, to patch up the holes in her education, to help her develop a better relationship with her siblings, to offer her opportunities that go along with her long term goals that are not available in the public schools, and to be able to take these last four years with her to continue to train her up and give her a firm foundation in God's Word and His desires for her life.

But the thing is, no matter how you slice it, they are still my parents, and I still respect and listen to them, and they still have the power to make me feel like I am doing it all wrong and that everything that I am doing is purely for my own selfish reasons.  So, even thought it is not necessary for us to tell them now, over Thanksgiving dinner, I really don't talk to them any other time, so it's kind of now or over the Christmas roast beast, so I'm kinda thinking along the lines of 'now'.

Elizabeth is not really helping too much, either.  She vacillates between wanting to stay home and wanting to go to school, with a leaning right now of continuing school, just not where she is.  She wants to go to ANOTHER school.  Which she would be, anyway, but in reality, it is really just a lot of the same.

Like today with the whole lunch table issue and who sits where and who is offended and who got dumped by their boyfriend and why and who is going to steal whose seat tomorrow at the lunch table so who's going to go off and sit alone...

REALLY?!?!?!  And they are supposed to be able to concentrate on learning with all this drama going on?  Now Elizabeth is stressed by this whole issue, and yet she still has to concentrate on her studies and her tests. 

When I think of those things, I feel firm and secure in our decision, but while looking at my dad across the turkey plate, I'm not so sure I am going to be able to hold with my resolve.  Especially when they ask Elizabeth what she wants and she will say that she wants to go to a different public school...or she will say, in a canned sort of way...I know that this decision is the best for me and my family.  I want to do what is best.  Ummmm....right.  Grandma wasn't born yesterday, and she was the principal of a middle school for years, and Aunt Cassie AND her husband both teach middle schoolers. 

So, yeah, not looking forward to it.

BUT...on a lighter note...


We in our family are always on the lookout for a good way to save some money.  Since the colder weather is coming on quickly, some people would begin to think of pulling out the old wipes warmer for their little babies' tushies...

not us!  No siree!

We have something much better and totally FREE!
Our own personal DIAPER WARMER!

Yes, folks, that's right.  He really DOES serve a purpose...after all those years of kitty kibbles, we have found a good use for Little Boy.  Warm those diapers, buddy!  You gotta earn your keep around here!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Unexpected

Today is Friday and *gasp* I am here to participate in Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday!

The rules?  Write for 5 minutes without stopping to edit or correct.

Today's topic?  Unexpected

Ready?  Set?  GO!

It really wasn't unexpected.  I mean, I KNEW it would happen even though I don't think that Jimmy really believed me.  I TOLD him it would happen, but I don't think that he thought that I really knew. 

But it did...

and here I am, 6.5 months later with a baby due in February.  A baby boy, none-the-less.

(I TOLD him...not the boy part but the baby part...he didn't believe me.  Maybe he will now...)

Anyway, like I said, THAT part, at least for me, was not unexpected.

What WAS unexpected was the rolling snowball of events that began happening and decisions that were made AFTER it happened.  As in, after Jimmy actually believe that I knew what I was talking about and realized that yes, honey, we ARE going to have another child.   Yes, honey this WILL be # 4, and yes, honey, I TOLD you...

The first decision that was made was that I would stop working at my present company after the baby is born.  That is a first for me because I have worked basically full time since I was 14 and a lot of babysitting and housecleaning before that and not stopped...ever...for anything...ever...never.  It will be hard and interesting to see how I 'handle' it.

Then the next decision was that I would bump up my Pampered Chef business because I really like it, and we will need SOME kind of extra income.  So that means that I am pretty busy most evenings and weekends, and days and nights and afternoons and well, you get the point...because I am still working full time with the other 3 kids to chase after all the while trying to build a business up from the ground...or perhaps you could even call it a hole since I had a pretty good start last year but totally let everyone slide away after my brother-in-law passed away and Jimmy and I had to tend to that and be sure that his mother could go to El Salvador to be with her family there.

THEN...we decided that since we are not happy with the public school where Jo will  be going next year for kindergarten, we will keep her home and home school her there since I will be home anyway...which is an idea Jimmy and I had been toying with anyway.

THEN...Elizabeth was having some issues in school (granted, this was while everyone was super stressed becauase my mother-in-law was in the hospital so Liz had to come home every day right after school to watch the kids while my father-in-law went to the hospital and then she get dinner ready and then she had homework and soccer and choir and everything else that a teenager can get involved with.)  So, we started discussing home schooling with her and she seemed to take to it a little and so Jimmy and Liz and I started investigating and praying about it and now we are pretty sure that it is the route we are going take.

THEN...my mother-and-father-in-law realized that if I am at home that they would not be 'needed' (are you kidding me!?!??!) so they have decided that they may leave to go back to El Salvador...NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!  So, she and I, well and Jimmy, too, are trying to figure out how they can stay with us at least for a while longer while making enough money since we won't be able to pay them for childcare anymore since I won't be 'working'.

So, the snowball gets bigger and bigger...

all be cause of the 'unexpected' tiny little unborn baby.

Ummm...so I think that was more than 5 minutes.  I mean I was typing fast, but...

anyway, that's what I have to say about THAT little word!

Come join us!  Link on up right here!











Sunday, November 6, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Remember

Today is Sunday, so I figured it would be a great time to link up to Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday.

The rules?  Write for five minutes without stopping to correct or edit. 

The topic?  Remember

Ready? Set?  GO!

I remember back when I was little and I had blind faith.  I just thought that it would all work out and that I would be safe, and sound and protected.

I remember when I used to walk in front of the strip mall with my dad and he would put his hand on top of my head and I would close my eyes and he, with his hand on my head, would lead me around the poles and trash cans and people. 

Until one time he forgot that I had my eyes closed.

And I ran into a pole.

And it hurt.  It hurt my head, and my pride.

Things are different, now though.  I still wish for that hand on my head, and I still wish for that gentle but firm guiding from my dad, but it's not like that anymore. I know that no one can do that for me.  No one can be constantly vigilant and watch my every step.

And so, for the longest time,  I tried to put my own hand on my head and close my eyes and lead myself.

But you can guess the outcome of that!

So I have now turned to look at another Father.

I know that my father still loves and cares for me, but he is not here, right here, right now. 

And my blindness leading my own self just wasn't working.

And besides, when I hit that pole, and it hurt, and I fell, this hand on my  head couldn't hold me up, because I was the one who holding the hand up on the top of my head.

But now, I have a Father who puts His hand under and around me and not only guides me, but holds me up and watches not only where my head goes, but where my feet go, also.

STOP!  Wow that was a fast 5 minutes!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Relevant

So, it's not Friday anymore, but oh, well.  Here's my Five Minute Friday, linked to Gypsy Mama

The topic?

Relevant...

Ready?  GO!

Hmmm....Relevant.

It is relevant that I have complete writer's block recently and can think of nothing to say on here that anyone would want to read? 

Is it relevant that it is Tuesday and I am just now writing Five Minute Friday? 

Or is it just enough to be on here and to let my mind and my fingers loosen up to get the juices flowing?

Things are happening, time is flying...

My mother in law is home from the hospital and my Pampered Chef business is doing well.  I am very happy with both things, but are they really relevant?

Elizabeth is going back and forth between wanting to home school and wanting to go to eh public high school.  But is THAT relevant?

Does it really matter what she thinks or wants if Jimmy and I truly feel that God is pulling us in the direction of finishing off her years of education before college here at home?

Is it relevant that my parents will not like the idea?

Or is it only relevant that we point ourselves upward and outward, in that order, so that we can help our children fulfill their God-given life's work?

Of course, the answer would be that only what is good, right and holy is what is relevant, but that is so hard to see and accept when there is so much opposition.

But then maybe the opposition is more in my head.

Urgh.  I told you.  Nothing much coming from these tired fingers and this worn mind today.  Maybe tomorrow. 


I hope you'll find me more relevant then.

But I did see a home video today of a little girl playing with her daddy who had folded his tall frame to the floor to take her in completely and wholly.

THAT was relevant to me

Because it made me smile.

Cheers!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

An Interesting Turn of Events

As some of you may know, Jimmy and I have been seriously considering homeschool for our youngest daughter, Jo.  She will be entering kindergarten next year, and our community school is not a place where we want to put her, and as we thought and prayed about it more, we felt the pull to keep her home and train her up, if you will.

Our oldest daughter, Elizabeth, is in 8th grade this year, and is slated to go on to high school either in the community school or, if she gets accepted, a really great, challenging school that focuses on math and science.  She has already done the preliminary application for that school, and took a class over the summer to help her prepare for the entrance exam. 

In all honesty, though, we have all accepted the fact that the likelihood of her getting into that school is very slim.  Even though she has great grades and I believe that she will do well on the test, she had not  had a lot of science or math experience outside of school.  She has not gone to science or math camps over the summer nor participated in any extracurricular activities that involve math or science.  This puts her at a disadvantage because a lot of the kids who want in this school have been involved in those things.

But, for the past while, (years?) Elizabeth has often mentioned that she does not feel that she has a good support group in school.  She often feels lonely and misunderstood.  She dresses differently than the other girls in the school (she dresses modestly when most girls don't) and she upholds high moral values that are not valued at all in the public school.

Recently, with the added stress of my mother-in-law being in the hospital, things seemed to get a lot worse.  On one particularly rough night, I mentioned to Elizabeth that homeschool could also be a choice for her.  I mean, I will be home with Jo and the little guys, anyway, and Elizabeth is a mature, self motivated learner, so I thought, why not present the possibility.

Well, much to my surprise, she has actually given it some thought and seems to be leaning toward the homeschooling option.

I never really thought about homeschooling Elizabeth.  She has been in the public school system for her whole educational career, and I thought that she would not want to leave and that since she seemed to be doing well enough, why change things.

But then Jimmy and I got into analyzing things a bit more, and after prayer and study, this is what we have come up with:

1.  There is nothing that the public school can offer that Elizabeth can't get from homeschooling either online or through tutors.  I am sometimes intimidated by Elizabeth's levels in math (she is in 8th grade but taking a 10th grade course) and science, which I love, but I'm not sure I could teach especially without labs but upon research, I have found some wonderful programs that can help with that if I get in over my head.

2.  We are specifically told in the Bible to train our children up in the way of the Lord so that they don't stray from it.  It doesn't say anywhere to pass your kids off for 6-8 hours a day to a teacher to teach them.  I know that this works for some, but it seems that after she is gone from home for so long and then Jimmy and I get home from work, eat, spend some time with all the kids and then put the little ones to bed and Elizabeth does her homework, there doesn't seem to be any time left in the day to study God's Word and to pray together.  Maybe if the kids were closer in age it would be easier to sit with them all and work with them together, but as it is, it just doesn't work out.

3.  Because Elizabeth is 9 years older than Jo, about 12 years older than Gabriel and will be almost 14 years older than the coming baby, if she is away all day at school just to come  home and do her homework, how will she be able to develop a relationship with her siblings?  She has 4 years left at home, if she decides to go straight to college away from home, so that does not leave her much time to bond, and I don't want her to just be the unknown 'big sister'.

4.  We have been told that to keep Elizabeth home for high school is wrong because this is real life and she shouldn't be sheltered from it since she will have to deal with negative influences in the future.  Well, um...sorry, but I don't buy that.  I mean, I know that it is true, that life is hard and you have to be strong, but teens are notorious for making bad decisions, not because they are bad people, but because their judgement is not fully developed.  That's like telling Gabriel that he's going to have to learn to bathe on his own sometime, so just throwing him in the tub full of water to fend for himself. 


5.  Like I mentioned before, after this year, we have 4 years left with Elizabeth before she can go off on her own to college and be out from under our wings.  That means that we have only 4 years left to teach and train her!  Only 4 years left!  I know that she will always be our child and our daughter, but 4 years is going to fly by! 

6.  Lastly, although this list could go on and on, Jimmy and I have realized that Elizabeth's education has so many holes in it!  Her spelling is horrible, she knows nothing of geography, hasn't memorized her times tables, can't read or write cursive (which I know is becoming obsolete, but she still needs to be able to read her grandmother's letters!), can't tell me the parts of speech of various words in a sentence, has read very little 'good' literature...the list could go on and on.  But Elizabeth is an A student!  That means that her spelling passes through, and she has mastered everything that the teachers are teaching her!  That means that she just hasn't been taught stuff...a lot of stuff!

Anyway, we are now considering homschooling Elizabeth, too.  I think that it will be hard to homeschool a high schooler and a kindergartener at the same time, especially since I have not done either before, and I am nervous about it, but it is something that we are praying about and researching.

Do any of you have any thoughts on this? 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Etched in Sand

This past weekend, 30 women from our church went to the beach for a Women's Retreat.  I was one of those 30.

Reach out and touch

Feel the pain,

Feel the joy

Feel the recovery.

The waves crash to the shore as we women stand facing the endless ocean with our troubles in our hands as so many stones.

Toss them away from you to be washed by the cleansing waves, we are told.

And so we stand, prayerfully, to toss the stones

one by one

into the great abyss that is the ocean.

We toss our cares away from ourselves, our puny, weak selves,

into the ever powerful waves of the ocean...

Into the ever powerful arms of God.



Sitting on the shore,

my bare feet feeling the coolness of the fall tide-wet sand,

I reach down with my finger and trace the words that have haunted me

the sins to be confessed and erased

and my fingers flit and glide through the soft substance

until my deepest hidden thoughts come to the surface.


And I see this word here, staring at me so deeply etched.  So raw and plain for all to see.

What do I fear? 

I fear failure

I fear the unknown

I fear the past, the present

and the future.

I fear that it all rests on my shoulders

This great burden of family,

This great blessing of family

This blessing that gives and gives but also

takes and takes

so very much.

Who am I to stand up under this weight alone?

As my head sinks to my knees in quiet supplication

In tearful pleading with the One who can handle it all

I see my fear for what it is

It is not a thing that can be handled or subdued by me

It is a lack that needs to be filled

It is the lack of

Trust.

My toes clench,  feeling the grainy sand between them.

And my hands touch

gingerly

the rough edges of my FEAR feeling the grit of it under my fingernails.

And in the touching, in the probing,

the word starts to fade.

As I search my FEAR

And as I begin to accept it for what it is

a LACK

that must be filled with

FAITH

in the One who is EVER FAITHFUL

I see this FEAR, this word, this feeling

Disappear

Raising my eyes to the never ending waves of the ocean

Infinite power,

Set in place by an even more Powerful One

I confess my fear

And allow it to be nothing but what it really is

Nothing more than a word

etched in nothing more than sand.

And in its place

there is

Peace

because through confession, my slate is wiped clean

daily

by the One who calms me


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Things About Me

So, it's not Tuesday, but I'm writing this anyway.

Here is my list of 10 for the week.  I figure that since I am going to the Women's Retreat this weekend (YAY!) and I will be staying in a hotel room with some ladies that I know but don't know, you know, that I would let them in on a few things about me.  So, here we go!

Ten things you might not know about me:

1.  I don't like to shop.  This is for 2 reasons.  The first reason that I don't like to shop is because I don't have any money, so it's kind of frustrating and pretty boring to look at stuff you can never get.  And the second reason is because...

2.  I don't like crowds.  Really.  I don't.  I don't get afraid in them, or panicky, I just don't like them.  I don't like it when I can't walk straight ahead at the pace that I want to walk, which is usually pretty quickly, and I don't like standing in lines.

3.  I am the only one in my family (brother, sister, mother, father) who is bilingual.

4.  Our family is very small.  My husband only has one sister who has 2 children, who live in El Salvador, and my brother and sister have no children.  My mom is an only child, and my dad only has 2 nephews.

5.   I don't like onions.  In any form.  Which means that I don't think that I have ever bought an onion.  Ever.  In my life.  Of course, that also means that the kids don't eat onions, either.

6.  The ultrasound showed that the baby's a boy!!! That's not really something about me, but still...

7.  I used to want to be a boy.  I mean, this was a true deep desire.  I think that it was because of my brother and the preference that he received (and still does!) in our family in all things.  (But not to worry...I am completely content to be a girl now.)

8.  I'm secretly glad that the new baby is going to be a boy.  I was a little afraid that with Gabriel being the only boy, and with him being just so darn cute, that he would receive preference in the family, too, and leave little Jo out.

9.  I love to drive, just not in traffic.  This comes in handy since I am the only driver in the family.  And actually, I love to drive big vehicles.  We have a small 2 door job for running around town, but my favorite is our big van, loaded with kids or family and gear.

10.  I love to travel.  I love to get out and try new things and see new places.  My next dream destination is France.  Elizabeth is studying French in school and informed me that now that she 'knows' French, she is ready for us to go there.  (and she referenced a certain someone's open invitation...I hope it still stands!)

11.  Ok, so I'm going over the 10 limit, but I just have to add this one in.

I do not like camel crickets.  They are gross.  They leave their legs around and they hop really high and if you squish them, they are gross and meaty and pop.  (Ok that's just gross and I'm eating lunch.)



So, there you go.  Not too exciting, I guess, after reading it over, but still just some tidbits about me that maybe you didn't know!

Top Ten {Tuesday}

Monday, October 17, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Catch

Well, so I know it's not Friday, but I really wanted to blog and I have well...about 5 minutes in which to do it, so here I go!

The rules?  Write for 5 minutes without stopping to edit or correct.

The topic?  Catch

Catch.  Catch my breath.  Catch a nap. Catch some time.  Catch a kiss from my man.

What can I catch?  A slippery right from the tub little boy who loves to run naked.

What else can I catch?  Ahhh...But I will tell you something that I can't catch.  The doctors at the hospital where my mother in law is staying again.  Those are the things that I can't catch.  Any of them.  Ever.  I am ever in the dark.  She does not speak English, and they, although they are supposed to, do not take the time to find an interpreter. 

So, that is something that I would like to catch but can't.

But what I love to catch is the sight of the two little ones playing together on the floor.  The way that Jo shows Gabriel how to blow bubbles in the bathtub. 
I love to catch the sight of Gabriel's face when he first sees Elizabeth walk up the drive from the bus stop. 

Pure joy.  Pure delight in his oldest sister coming unsuspecting up the walk and his little self hurling willy nilly into her knees.

Because he knows that she will

catch

him. 

And why?  Why does she catch him?  Every time, without fail?  Because she loves him and in her own way waits for him just as much as he waits for her.

So I lean back and catch my breath and catch the peace and calm at the end of the day and I know that tomorrow will be another day to try and catch all the things that I might have missed today,

but for now, I will hold in my heart all that I

caught

today.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving

The hands reach and grasp and I feel their pull on my heart and on my legs and on my time.  I look down into their faces and see wants and needs and a vast unquenchable thirst for attention and love.

And I feel like I am at the edge of an abyss.

Blackness ready to suck me down.

My belly swells heavily before me, and my heart pounds wearily inside of me as I look around the house at the little and not so little shoes, socks, and sweaters strewn all around.

The promise of coffee in the kitchen is a distant comfort as I see the dishes piled in the sink and the laundry on the line through the window with the whir of another load finishing up in the machine.

I can't do this.  I can't go there to that job and leave this here waiting for me when I get back.  I can't walk through another day like this.  I can't run household and hold my position at the company where I work as well and struggle to get my home business off the ground.

I am weary and weak.

The night before weighed so heavily on me.  Pictures of the baby girls in China in dying rooms kept floating through my mind.

What can I, one person, do for them when I can't even keep myself together?  Can helping one child even make a difference for the thousands of other little girls who are abandoned?

Where is GOD?

I pull my husband to me and cry to him the pain that I see in the pictures and hidden camera videos and I ask what can we do?

He knows my heart, and he wraps his arms around me.

I know your soul is aching, he says.  God hears your cries.  God, too, knows the desires of your heart.

When the time is right, in HIS perfect plan, the answer will come.

Yes, you are right.  When the time is right, all will come together.

Take today, take now and give thanks in who you are and where you are.

So I look with new eyes and I see my oldest bending to pick up the stray socks

And I see the dirty dishes that pile in the sink because we have eaten well

And the linens flapping on the line because we have a place to sleep

And the diapers whirring to an end in the machine because we are blessed with strong healthy children.

And so I look down into the soft brown eyes of the little ones and kiss their upturned faces knowing that while I am gone, they will be well cared for by their grandmother, who loves them as I do.

And I know that this is just for a season and that the line of this day, this week, this month is but one small thread in the tapestry of the plan that God has for my life.

Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ.
  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pineapple Upsidedown Cake

I just realized that it has been more than a week since I have written on here.  Wow!  Time flies!  It has been pretty crazy around here with trying to keep up with school things for the kids, full time work for Jimmy and me, my mother-in-law in the hospital for 10 days (she's home, now, and resting to regain her strength and fully recover), and trying to get my Pampered Chef business off the ground...as well as juggling dentist appointments (Jimmy had another wisdom tooth pulled!) and prenatal visits...

Which, by the way, I wanted to let all of you know!!!!

Jimmy and I went in for a sonogram, and even though I didn't really want to know, I had promised Jimmy and Elizabeth that this time we would find out the sex of the baby and it's going to be another...

(drum roll, please!)

BOY!

Gabriel will now have a brother to bang around with, and Jo will now be outnumbered when Elizabeth is away at school!  Poor Jo!  She's getting tougher, though, and Gabriel just absolutely adores her, so I'm sure it will all work out.

Anyway, my life is kind of resembling the title of this post:

A pineapple upsidedown cake!  Everything baking up the way that it should be, but just feeling all mixed together and crazily upside down!

What made me think of that was yesterday when Peter came over and I threw him into the kitchen to bake a cake.

Yesterday was my Pampered Chef Open House, and everyone who came had so much fun cooking in the kitchen and they all wanted to try out all the new tools and toys, that we didn't get through all the recipes that I had planned.  Actually, I had quite a few recipes, and I let the ladies pick the ones that they wanted to make and so we made strawberry smoothies in the Manual Food Processor, and pizzas on the Stoneware (which a lot of is 20% off this month!) and potato chips using the Simple Slicer, to name a few, but we didn't get to the Pineapple Upside-down cake, which is what Jimmy was hoping for.  Since he was away all day helping a friend of ours move, I decided that I would make it for him anyway, but after being on my feet all day, then getting dinner together, I didn't really have the energy.

Elizabeth wasn't game for it, either, since she had been up since early in the morning babysitting 3 little boys and then home to help me, so when Peter arrived on our doorstep, he was enlisted to bake the cake.

He actually did quite well.  I was very impressed seeing as his only previous experience in the kitchen was to put little pizzas in the oven. 


He approached it much like a science experiment, which he is very good at doing, and which, in fact, is what cooking really is.

First he gathered all the ingredients with Gabriel and Jo's help:
 although most of what they gathered wasn't needed and ended up on the floor...
 at least the little tubs of spices didn't open!

This is what Peter gathered:

1/2 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1 can pineapple slices, undrained
5 maraschino cherries, drained and halved
1 package of yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 c vegetable oil

Then the oven got turned on to 350 degrees and the butter was melted in an oven proof 12 skillet
When that was melted, he stirred in the brown sugar until it was well blended.



After that, the pineapple was drained, and the juice set aside and the pineapple was arranged over the brown sugar mixture in the skillet, and the cherries were set in the center of each pineapple slice.  Ok, not each one because Jo came in and ate half of the cherries, so then there weren't enough to go around!
When that was done, and Jo was stopped from taking a cherry out of her mouth to replace in one of the pineapple slices, enough water was added to the pineapple juice to measure 1/3 c liquid and mixed with the cake mix, the eggs and the oil.  This was all whisked until it was smooth.


Next is always the question of where to put the whisk while you dump the cake mixture into the pan, but Jo and Gabriel took care of that problem.


When the cake mixture was dumped over the pineapples in the pan,
then whole thing was put into the oven for 35-40 minutes
(Yes, that is mud on his pants.  He was being chased around the yard and apparently tackled by Jo and Gabriel and ended up in the mud.)

until a wooden pick inserted into the center came out clean.

After that, it came out of the oven
 and left to sit for 5 minutes.  Doesn't it look beautiful!

Finally, it was time to turn it out onto its plate.  I said these specific words to Peter...

"Peter, it's going to still be really hot.  Use the hot mits.  Don't touch the pan or you will burn yourself.  Peter, it's hot."

He looked right at me, so I KNOW he heard, and he even said, 'ok' and looked at the pan and I said again, it's hot...

and can you guess what Peter did?

Yes, he did.  Grabbed the pan with his bare (bear!) hands. 

And I KNOW that he had heard me because he didn't say anything about that it burned him other than to let it go and grab the mits.  It wasn't until later that he showed me his hands, which were burned all the way across. 

Anyway...

The cake finally got turned out onto its plate

 (notice the hot mits?)
and it was beautiful! 

This is what was left after about 2 minutes:
And by the end of the evening, the plate was clean, washed and put away.

Great job, Peter!  It was delicious!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

See You at the Pole

I wanted to let you all know how it went last Wednesday at See You at the Pole. 

In case you don't know, this is a world wide event where students all over meet around the flagpole at their school before school starts to pray for the school, the leaders in their school and in their country and basically to pray for whatever they want to pray about.

Elizabeth wanted to participate in this, but she was also nervous about 'sticking her neck out' and telling other kids about it.

Her excuse was that other than the 2 other girls that we take to church with us who attend her school, there is no one else in her school that is a like-minded Christian who is willing to stand up in front of the school and by doing so proclaim their faith.

In our church, we as a whole congregation are doing a study about how God is big enough.  To this end, the church has made rubber bracelets with the words 'God is Big Enough' on them so that we can wear and share them to help spread the word and the idea that God is indeed big enough for anything that we can possibly come across. 

I know that it is legal to hold a prayer meeting at the school, as in the kids can't get arrested for doing it, but to be safe, Elizabeth asked the principal of her school if she was allowed to gather at the pole and pray on Wednesday morning. 

The principal responded that she would have to check.  It too her until Monday evening to find out whether the kids could gather or not, and her response was that yes, they could gather, but they couldn't make posters or fliers about it because that does not fit the school's image.  (Of course, they can make fliers about dance competitions and drama shows and such, just not this.) 

So, Elizabeth had one day to spread the word by mouth.

Her friends Annie and Renee, who go to church with us, also spread the word.  Elizabeth was nervous on Tuesday morning about talking to her friends.  She said that they wouldn't come and they wouldn't care.  W talked about how that was not her choice.   She needed to only spread the word, and let God take care of the rest because as we have studied, He is big enough and much bigger than her or the distances that she can personally reach.

So, she went and spread the word.

Wednesday morning I agreed to drive Elizabeth and Renee to school to be sure that they would get there in time, and 5 minutes before we had to leave, it started pouring rain.  I mean POURING!  It was coming down in sheets!  We got soaked just looking out the window! 

But we headed off anyway, and by the time we got to the school, it had pretty much let up. 

The girls got out of the car and we all went to the pole and waited for the buses to unload.  One girl came by to see what we were doing, and when the girls told her, she stayed for a while, but then wandered off.

Then the buses unloaded and 2 more girls joined us.

Because Elizabeth had never done this before, we had printed out a prayer to read so that no one would be shy and so that there would not be just awkward silence.  So, Elizabeth passed out the prayer that she had gotten from the church and then modified to fit the situation, and the girls read the prayer.  Then a youth pastor from another church that had been going around to the various schools prayed over the girls and the gave them donuts. 

I bet if more kids knew that there would be donuts, more would have showed up!

Then, Elizabeth passed out one of the God is Big Enough bands to each of the girls.

I was so proud of them all! 


(I was a little bit afraid to take pictures at the school with all the kids there and parents and buses unloading.  I don't know what the rules are about 'unauthorized' pictures of kids at public schools.)




All of the girls knew each other except for one who knew some but not all.  In total, there was only 5 girls who stayed through the whole thing, but it's a start!

I just had to hug them all!  They were so sweet standing there communing in prayer and asking their Lord to bless them and their school. 

So, it may not have turned out very big, but at least these girls got together and made other people ask questions like 'what are you doing out here in the wet???'

And Elizabeth now knows one more girl who is like-minded.

So...the next thing that is happening is that Elizabeth has to do community service hours for an assignment for school. 

Of course, with Jimmy and me being the mean and cruel parents that we are, Elizabeth is not allowed to do what all the other kids do - library duty, help a teacher, pick up trash around the school, help in the nursery at church - oh, no.  We want her to dig a bit deeper and find out how to find people who need help.

So she asked advice from some great friends, and went a the missionary fair that was at our church picnic. 

Since she is a minor, her choices are somewhat limited, but she found a place where they ask for kids to make Christmas, birthday and housewarming cards for lonely people and people in shelters. 

So, we are collecting ribbon and stickers and whatnot so that we can have a card making party.  Elizabeth now has one new friend to invite!  (The one she didn't really know who came to the flag pole)  Who knows if this new girl will be able to come or not, but I am so happy that Elizabeth is having a chance to make her circle of believing friends just a little bit bigger. 

At Elizabeth's age where things can be so difficult, the more support she has the better.

And, I also firmly believe that it Elizabeth's age, where things can be so difficult, it is very important for the kids to work with other people who are younger or who will look up to them and who they can teach...who they know will be disappointed if they 'mess up'.

So our guest list for our card making party is slowly and thoughtfully being made, (there are only but so many kids who can fit in this house...especially now that the kids are bigger...they just take up more room!)

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Table Grace

It's been so long since I have last written, I don't even know where to start.  That happens to me sometimes.  I have so many things that I want to write about and I can't really figure out how to say it all so instead, I end up being silent!

But let me start here by saying that it has been really crazy around here the last few days.

My mother in law is sick and in the hospital, and has been there since Saturday and we are not yet sure when she will be able to come home.  She is curable, but she is just in a lot of pain right now and it will take time for her body to heal. 

When she is gone, I realize even more just what she does around here...and let me tell you, I miss her sorely!  She is always the one to just quietly pick up the loose ends.  She has not been doing as much since she was working, but even then, just every once in a while, when things got too hectic, I would come home to an empty sink and a clean kitchen.  Or a clean bathroom.  Or 2 bathed little kids.  Or a load of clean diapers.  Or the trash at the curb. 

Just the little things that seem to make such a difference.

Elizabeth went to Awakening Fest on Saturday with the Youth Group, and they camped out overnight til Sunday and come home super muddy and super tired...and in my van.  It is great having a large car.  I get the opportunity to drive the kids around and talk to whoever is in the front seat.  I recently found out that this was a coveted seat not only because it is 'shotgun' but because of the 'interesting conversation'.  Nice.  They think I'm interesting!  What a compliment coming from a group of teens!  (Right?)

But...

I have other exciting news to tell you!

Look at this:


This is our dining room table.  Yes, I know.  It's horrible.

But if you remember a few weeks ago, I made a resolution to do 2 things:

1.  Clean the table off every night for dinner

and

2.  Have a veggie at every meal

And know what?  I have, with the help of our resident cook, Elizabeth, and our wonderful table-cleaner-offers Jo and Jimmy, we have been able to do these 2 things every single night!

So, yes, there is a table under all that and yes, we DO see it every night!

So...

what is my next goal?

To reduce the plastic use in our house.

We tend to use a lot of plastics.   We have plastic plates and bowls for the little ones, a few plastic cups left and a lot of plastics that we use to pack lunches in.  And we also tend to use plastics in the freezer and in the fridge for left-overs. 

Honestly, for us, I do not think that it is possible for us to completely eliminate plastics from our house since we have to buy our own meats and cheeses and they always come in plastics.

But, I have been wanting to use something else in the freezer and for leftovers for a while now for a few reasons.  For the issue of food in plastic, but also because I get tired of using and washing out those gallon ziplock bags, and I don't like to wrap in wax paper and then foil all the time because it seems like so much waste.

But to buy those glass containers at the store can get expensive, and a lot of them can't go in the oven.

And then I found a solution!  I am so excited!!!!!

Pampered Chef has come out with glass containers that will go in the fridge, freezer, microwave and oven!  (Maybe I'll tackle the microwave next...)

Take a look at these guys!  They are so fun!  I already love and use the one and two cup Prep Bowls for EVERYTHING...even giving Jo snacks out of them instead of plastic bowls...and they go from freezer to oven, too, and now I have some glass storage containers. 

Of course, since I am a consultant for Pampered Chef, so I get them for a great discount, and since this is my blog and I can do what I want, I am shamelessly going to put in a plug for myself and say that you, too, can get them (or anything else you want) at a HUGE discount or even free if you host a show...and for those of you who live far away, you can do a catalog or online show and I'll still give you the full cooking show benefits just 'cuz I love you guys. 

Ok...that's enough self promoting. 

But seriously, I am really excited about these glass storage containers.  There are also removable labels that can go on them, too, which is another thing because if I write on the bag, then it wears off eventually, and if I use sticky tape, then I can't get it off to relabel.

So...how shall I set this goal?  I can't really say that I will get rid of all plastics by a certain date, but how about I say that I get rid of at least half my plastics and only use glass in the fridge and freezer except for packing meat in the freezer, which I will continue to wrap in paper. 

That sounds like an achievable goal. 

I also have made it my goal to reduce the use of plastics to feed the kids.  So, I am on the hunt for another option.  Jo is using almost all glass now, but Gabriel still makes me really nervous because he is just learning the whole fork thing and sometimes scoops his whole plate onto the floor.

So I'd love to know...what solutions do you have for getting plastics out of your kitchen...or do you think it doesn't matter?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Torn

I just got back from Elizabeth's Back-to-School-Night.  For those of you who do not know, that is the night when the parents go to the school usually without their kids armed with their students schedule and run through a 'day' of school...with the class bells ringing and the parents all looking like kids on the first day of school...happy to see other parents they haven't seen, rushing through the super crowded halls with their schedule in hand looking for the next class and hoping to get there in time. 

The idea is that we parents get an opportunity to go to class, experience the school, and meet the teachers in 10 minute increments.  (No, we don't stay there as long as the kids do, the 'classes' are only 10 minutes each.)

It was strange for me to go this year without Jimmy, but he had to stay home with the little guys because neither one of them had slept all day (!) and my mother-in-law is sick and wasn't up to watching them.

But that's not my point.

As most of you know, Jimmy and I have decided that when the baby is born in February, I will stay home with the kids.

Jo is in preschool now, headed for kindergarten next year. 

She is slated to go to the school in our area, which I am not fond of for various reasons, this being one of them, but not the only one.  This school also does not have the advanced program that Elizabeth went through and did very well in and which set her up well for success now that she is in the higher grades.  I could try to place Jo in the school where Elizabeth went, but since there is a new principal, things are very different there now, too, and the classes that Elizabeth got are no longer run the same. 

So, there is the option of applying her for Spanish immersion at a different school, but there is no promise that she will get chosen, especially since we speak Spanish at home.

Private school is completely out of the question.

So homeschool has come to mind. 

This idea has been percolating for the last few years, actually, ever since I really started to read about it and realize what it really was...that it's not just a bunch of overprotective moms keeping their kids in the house all day(a common misconception)  as much as a chance for parents to teach their children what they need to know in a safe environment and be actively involved in choosing what they are exposed to and lots of other really positive things.

But going tonight to Elizabeth's school made me see a little bit of a different side to things. 

For example...

Elizabeth's geometry teacher is a professed math nerd.  He makes his own website and updates it with the kids' homework just for fun.  He is the head of a competitive math club and he does math stuff at home in the evening because he just plain likes it. 

I don't particularly feel that way about numbers.

And her science teacher is a crazy science wizard who loves all types of science and has a science club, too.  He tosses the textbook out because he says it's boring and outdated (it is) and instead makes his own plans and teaches the kids in a very hands on way that still gets them the end results.

Her French teacher speaks to the kids only in French...from the very first day of French 1. 

The band teacher's husband is a professional tuba player and may be helping Elizabeth out on the tuba since the teacher is the one who saw her talent and wanted her to play the tuba.

So Elizabeth will be (and has been) receiving many different teaching styles from many different personalities throughout her public school career. 


And that is a good thing.


But sometimes that is a not so good thing.


And Elizabeth has used her school as a mission field.  She has invited 5 friends to come to church with us and 3 of those are still regulars who has gotten baptized and accepted Christ.


And she is one who stands up to others and dresses modestly when others don't and who doesn't use bad language when others do.


She is a witness in who she is and how she acts and what she does in school.


But with that, she has to put up with inappropriate comments from teachers and bad behavior from students.


But Elizabeth is strong enough to withstand that and continue in her trec and has talked to the principal of her school to see if she can organize something for See You at the Pole.


So, what is the right thing to do?

If we are to raise our children in the way they should go, isn't that way the way of a disciple making life?

But as parents, I believe that we are also to protect them and train them and keep them innocent and, yes, sheltered...as in protected from storms, in a safe place where they won't get hurt.

So how does one know the 'right' thing to do?

In many blogs that I read, there is a legitimate 'reason' to homeschool. 

Too much homework than what is necessary to learn and therefore is bogging the kids down.

Too long a bus commute.

Teachers teaching their pupils to talk down to their parents.

Dangerous schools in dangerous neighborhoods.

But I live in one of the richest areas that has some of the best schools in the country. 

And there are a lot of programs and outlets for the kids.

The school in around the corner...walking distance...hollering distance from my house.

So where does Jo go and how does one know the answer?

Not all kids are created the same.  Elizabeth is her own child and has done well in school both academically, emotionally and spiritually.

But Jo is a completely different person.  How will she do?  How will we know...before it's too late?

Let me give you an example.

Ever since Elizabeth was little, I would take her with me when I would go shopping and she never asked for anything.  NEVER.  EVER.  She knew that by asking, she got nothing and by NOT asking, occasionally, she would get a treat.  Very very occasionally.

But not Jo. 

I have done the same with her and with Elizabeth.  You ask, you definitely DON'T get.  You don't ask, you may get something, but probably not. 

But all we have to do it drive by a store and Jo will say, 'Mommy, I need some of those pink tennis shoes that have the laces in them.'  Why does she say this?  Because she saw a picture in a store window.

She doesn't watch TV, so she doesn't get ads there, and we rarely shop anywhere for anything other than food. 

But she asks.

Where did she get that tendency?  You know, the one where she compares what she has for lunch with the other kids in her class, or the one where she doesn't want to wear certain clothing even if it fits just fine.

Elizabeth was not like that.

Jo is.

Is Jo more impressionable, then?  Will she be more easily swayed by culture and society?  Does she need to be under the protective shelter of our house and our wings a while longer? 

Or will she outgrow it? 

Or is her drive to announce her wants merely an expression of her forwardness and her outgoing self who knows what she wants and will not be swayed?

HOW DO I KNOW?????

Where is the 'right' place for our children? 

And, of course, the shoe is not one size fits all...

so, how DOES one know?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Does this ever happen to you?

All of my children are 'good' children.  They say please, and thank you, and yes ma'am and no sir and they sit at the table and eat with a fork (usually!) and they do their chores and mind their elders.


BUT....

Rarely, yes, very rarely, but sometimes there comes a time when they turn into little hooligans who do not do what they are told, and they wake the baby and they don't eat their dinner nicely and they fight with their siblings and they throw things and scream and kick and yell and holler and create such a fuss that I wonder whose child they really are because they certainly can't be mine!

And so, they are sent to their room and told that it is bed time.

They put on their pj's and brush their teeth and go potty and wash their hands and face.

And they don't let Mommy or Daddy say their bedtime prayers because they scream and holler and yell and kick and so I stand at the door and say 'God bless my little one and give her peace' and I shut the door.

And then this child, whom I love dearly, screams and cries and I say to her that she needs to stop because she is going to wake the baby again and she still cries and screams.

And so I tell her she needs to stop NOW and that I am going downstairs and if I hear her and if I have to go back upstairs, then she will have to get a spanking.

And she says she doesn't want a spanking and she repeats to me what she has to do to NOT get a spanking and so I leave the room and make my way back down the stairs only to hear the weeping and gnashing of teeth continuing to come from her room.

And so I have to go back up the stairs and make good on my promise because what weight does a promise hold if you do not follow through with it? 

And so a fanny gets swatted and more tears get shed and a firm get in bed is said...again...and the door is closed and my weary bones slink back down the stairs and I hear...

Quiet.

Nothing.

Snores, perhaps?

The sawing of logs?

Peace.

But why?

Why does this sweet child of mine push the envelope so far?  Why is it necessary to go to the most base levels of discipline in order for this child to find her peace and rest? 

I do not beat the child.  I swat her fanny with my hand so that it probably stings a bit, but no marks, no red welts, just a smack.

So why does she need this?  Why do hugs and calm words of I love you and Sleep well, my love and Let's try again tomorrow not work?

So maybe now, just to ensure a good day and a good night, I will smack her a good one every morning upon arising and every night before bed...you know, just for good measure. 

I'm kidding, of course.  I would not do that.  I do not punish with no crime.

(Although my mother used to say, if we swore that we were not responsible and that we should not be punished for whatever crime it was that we were being accused of, that perhaps we didn't do it this time, but that she was sure that there were plenty of times when we did stuff that we got away with so it all evened out in the end.  Well, I must say that MY end didn't agree with that...)


Anyway, I just don't understand this offspring of mine.

Does anyone else have encounters like these?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Joy

Seeing as it's Friday and I have about 5 minutes to dedicate to my blog today, I do believe that I will participate in Gypsy Mama's 5 Minute Friday!

The rules?  Write for 5 minutes without stopping to correct or edit.

Today's topic?

JOY!

Ready?  GO!

Yesterday was a hard day.  I am not sure why, but it ended the evening with a broken down spirit and tears threatening to spill over, frustrations, anger, and disappointment.

And that was just me.

A lot of that can be attributed to the fact that I am pregnant, hormonal and we are about to make a HUGE family change.

But today was different.

Why?

Jimmy and I had a heart to heart, we both admitted our misgivings and fears about what we are about to do, and we had a good time of connection.

And he mowed the lawn.

I didn't realize how much that meant to me until it was done.  The back is still left undone, but we seem to spend most of our time in the front and while he was finishing up and I took the little guys out to play for a little while and to watch him (and find a dead bird that the cat had caught and gifted to us and that then someone had then accidentally squished so all its insides were spilling out...so then we had to pull out the science book and look at what the different parts of the bird that we were seeing were) I felt pure

Joy.

The kids were happy to be in the lawn that was not up around their knees (OK.  I'll be honest.  Up around their belly buttons...the lawn mower has been broken for a long time!) and I was happy to see them play together and laugh and squeal with

Joy.

Pure, giggling rollicking, roll on the ground

Joy.

And so I was infected with that joy not only because the lawn was finally getting mowed, but also because my husband knows me well enough to know that it would make a difference so he lugged a mower over here and after a long day at work worked even harder to get it done for me because he cares.

And I know that it will work out.  I know that I am on the winning team of God, Jimmy and me and nothing, not even tall tall grass will hold us back.

And that brings me

Joy.



Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Decision Made

The baby kicks
A fluttering reminder of the new life
That will soon join ours.

I sit and think in wonder about this little child,
This little being who has already changed our lives tremendously

Jimmy and I together have decided, with our boss at work, that after this baby is born, I will not return to work. 

I am so excited.

and terrified.

This is a HUGE decision.

I have never ever been a stay at home mom.  I have been a involved-my-child-in-my-work-at-home-mom, running a child care center for school age children in my house, and I have been a take-my-child-to-work-with-me-mom, when I worked at the school and Elizabeth was my sidekick, and I have been a work-at-home-mom, working at the computer while my mother-in-law watched the kids in the other room, and I have been a leave-my-kids-at-home-while-I-work-mom, but I have never been a stay-at-home-and-focus-on-my-family-mom.

Not that I don't focus on my family, but perhaps some of you out there know what I mean.

That means that I have 5 months left to work.

And 5 months left to train Jimmy to take my place at my job. 

Five months is a long time.

Five months is no time at all.

I am a wreck of hormones and stress. 

We have never left the kids home with any one other than family...until this last week.  My mother-in-law got a job outside the house and so we have had someone come in and watch the kids.  I love her.  She is an awesome lady and the kids seem to really like her,

But she's not me

and she not their Gramma Uita.

So I go to work everyday with my heart and my mind sitting on the front step, looking in the windows while I am trying to concentrate on getting my work done and being sure that Jimmy is understanding what is being done. 


John, our boss, has agreed to let Jimmy try to take my place, so that he can pay him like he pays me now, but he has said that he has his doubts. 

That means that we are cutting out two-thirds of our family income and hopingpraying that Jimmy will aleve John's doubts and prove to him that he deserves to be paid as much as I am getting paid now. 

And if not?

Well, let's just not go there right now.

But...

If things go well, this could really be an exciting time of change for the company, as well!  Jimmy is much better than me at some of the things that I am expected to do, and I know that there is the perfect marketing person out there just dying to work for a growing company like the one we work at.  So basically, the bottom line is that I am good at what I do, and I believe that I do it to the best of my ability.  And there are some aspects of what I do that Jimmy just won't be able to do.  But since I am CAPABLE of doing things, I end up doing them even though I may not be the BEST person for it simply because there is no money or reason to hire anyone else right now (like marketing and the website). 

You see?  With Jimmy doing better at the things that I'm not as good at, like the website, he can help increase sales there, while the things, like marketing, that he can't do, will HAVE to be done by someone, so this will force the company to find the right guy to do that...which will mean...GROWTH! 

And all of this comes at the tail end of a profitable contract with the new Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial, which should give the company enough cashflow to be able to hire someone else to market.

This also means that our other part-time lady, who wants/needs to be full time, will be able to take Jimmy's spot in assembly and get the hours that she needs, and we will be able to hang on to her rather than lose her to a different full time job.  She is an excellent worker and if she left, it would be a great loss for the company.

And I have been wanting to be at home for a long time now. 

But that doesn't mean that I am not afraid.

Of what?

Well, the loss of income, for one,

But also, I am afraid because I have never done this before, and it is a total different mindset to be at home than to be at work.   Can I do it?

I don't even know how to put this into words right now. 

Do any of you who have experience in this have any words of wisdom to share with me? 

(Jimmy would appreciate it)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Eco-What?

Around here, we do things pretty eco-friendly.  I mean, we don't really use the AC, keep the heat down pretty low, hang the laundry out to dry and use cloth diapers.  We usually have more recycling to put out on the curb come a Tuesday morning than trash, and we generally try to keep good ole Mother Earth in mind as we make decisions throughout the day.

But I still feel like there is so far to go!  

I cook with non-stick pans, have plastic plates and cups in the cupboard (even after purging a few months ago!), still buy, eat and feed my kids processed foods, drive an ancient van that doesn't get the best gas mileage, and use conventional cleaners, soaps and lotions...oh the list goes on!

But then I ran across this blog called Eco-Novice, Going Green Gradually, and I thought

Hey!  

That's me!

I can be an Eco-Novice, too!

Then I ran into a particular blog of hers about how to avoid eco-hysteria, and I knew that this was one that I had to read.  It seems like every time I turn around, someone or something somewhere is telling me what I should or shouldn't do, eat, touch, let around my kids...argh!  

Where's my protective bubble when I need it????

But I like this lady and her blog.  I like her idea of avoiding all the hysteria and just picking a few things that can be done relatively easily, cheaply, and within the constraints of your family.

'Cuz after all, like she says, a sane parent is also important to my child's well being.

SO...

Here is my list of things that I am resolving to do to make our family happier and healthier.  It takes 21 days to make a habit, right?  

So in 21 days, you must ask me these questions:

1.  Are you eating veggies with every dinner?

2.  When you eat dinner, is everyone in their own chair, eating their own food with the table cleaned off except for the dinner stuff?

If I can answer, why, yes, of course!  Then you know that I have succeeded in the first 2 achievable steps in getting my family on the right track toward healthier living.

Now, I know that those 2 things don't really have to do with eco-stuff, but they do in our house!  

Elizabeth often makes dinner.  So, she calls me and chooses a main dish off our list of dinners we have the ingredients for and she makes it.  And that's great!  And she's an awesome cook.

But...inevitably, when the dishes hit the table, there is something missing.  

Uh....Elizabeth...what veggie did you choose tonight?  

Ooops!  I forgot again, Mom.  

And by then, everyone is hungry and no one wants to wait the extra time to prepare something else so it gets looked over...again.

So now, the main dish choices are paired with veggies on the list.  The 2 go hand in hand.  

We'll see if it works.  (But her favorite veggie is peas...and I don't like peas!  But I have a solution for that.  We always seem to just not quite have enough peas to go around, and so I have to sacrifice and pick another veggie.  Oh, the things mothers do for their children, right?  I think Elizabeth has caught on by now!)

And the second resolution, if you will, is to keep my sanity (by cleaning all the day's detritus off the table before we eat dinner) and to let Jimmy get at least some of the food that is on his plate!  Gabriel had gotten accustomed to sitting on Jimmy's lap and eating off his plate because he soon realized that big boys don't sit in highchairs.  But now that he is older, he is eating more and will clear the whole plate!  So, he must be regulated (and strapped into!) his booster seat and eat off his own plate!   The kicking and screaming usually stops once he sees the lovely green peas on his plate...

So far, so good. 

We're two days in.  Check back in with me in 19 days....