Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bits and Pieces of Family Life

  • My dear six-year-old told one of the after-school-program workers this gem the other day:  "I can spell ZOO with my eyes closed!"  I always knew she was a genius! :)

  • Son #1: "You bought normal juice?  Who are you and what have you done with my mother?"
    • Me: "It was on sale for 90 cents!!!"
    • Son #2:  "Oh.  She's back." 

  • My elder daughter, musing about how unfair life is, particularly relating to how we make the children pay for their phones and their service:  "By the time you get to K (younger daughter), you're going to give her a solid gold iPhone for freeeee!"

  • Fifteen years ago, when I had a wee little baby girl, our parents bought us a new dishwasher.  For about 13 years, that dishwasher served us well.  For about the last 2 years, the dishwasher has been on my hit list.  It was old and yucky and needed to be replaced.  Today a new era in dish washing has begun in our house -  a new one was installed!  Considering I run 1-2 loads a day, it's an appliance that is well treasured in this house - perhaps you can imagine my excitement!  And when the old one was pulled out, I was able to look behind the dishwasher, and found all our names written on the wall.  When we remodeled in 2007, I had painted our names and the date back there, and seeing it today made me so happy.  I quickly took a sharpie and wrote all our names (including our last daughter, who wasn't yet born in 2007) and the date today.  Someday, this dishwasher will bite the dust and I will be so happy to read the wall once again.

Friday, November 13, 2015

True Blue

Not long ago, I was part of a discussion about friends.  What it means to be a good friend, how to be that friend to others, and how important friends are to us.  And as I pondered qualities of true friendship -- encouragement, acceptance, companionship, laughter, confidence, I  kept coming back to this one basic tenet of friendship:

A true friend would never speak ill of you.

That sounds like a fundamental principle of friendship, doesn't it?  But maybe you'll agree that sometimes that isn't how friends treat us at all.  Perhaps you've been hurt by hearing what a friend said about you behind your back. Maybe you've heard through the grapevine that a friend was putting you down.  Or even on the most base level - maybe someone else was maligning you, and your friend didn't stand up for you.

It hurts.

To me, a true friend would NEVER say a negative word about me.  If I've done the craziest thing imaginable -- something with seemingly no plausible explanation, and my actions are wreaking havoc around me, I hope a true friend would still not put me down.  She might seek to find out what happened from me, and maybe speak hard words to me if they were necessary.  But to others?  I hope a true friend would always try to be positive where I am concerned.

Have I always been this true friend I desire to have in others?  Definitely not.  I have most certainly often and frequently hurt others with my words and actions.  I continue to try, try again when I fail.  In a similar vein, years ago I ran across these questions, which I thought were spot on:

Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?

Exactly.  If I am speaking of someone (a friend, an acquaintance, or even a stranger!), I need to remind myself of these questions.  Am I speaking the truth? Am I speaking in kindness?  And the last is just as important - is it necessary?  I often tell my children that someone else's story is not theirs to tell.  Wonderful news of a coworker's new pregnancy?  It is true, and it is kind, but is it necessary?

How do you define a true friend?

A true friend loves at all times.
Provers 17:17a

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tell me about your baby

I was in Walmart.  I had three children in tow, trying to grocery shop.  My youngest child was in a baby carseat, tucked into the cart with his apnea monitor, feeding tube, and oxygen tank.  I'm sure I was a spectacle.

But my baby was quiet and content, and I made my way through the grocery section, my other two young children following behind me.  People noticed us, and sometimes someone asked me about him.

This was eleven years ago, but one comment still stands out in my mind.  A gal about 10-15 years older than me came up to me and said, "Tell me about your baby."

My heart was warmed immediately, and I indeed told her about my baby.  I told her about his birth and NICU stay, and concerns about his future.  And she listened and didn't make commentary, and was loving and compassionate.  As we stood by the frozen foods, she made me feel normal.  Our life felt crazy and scary and precarious in those days, but her listening ear and gentle demeanor soothed my anxious heart.  As we spoke, she shared that she too had a child with special concerns, and she understood our situation to some degree.

I have never forgotten her kindness to me, and her thoughtful phrasing, followed by truly listening to my story.  While I know I certainly don't handle every situation with such grace, I strive to be that kind of person to those I meet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Jeans and Chips and Recorders, Oh My!

The other day the whole family was loading into the burb to go to a small group gathering.  My husband got into the driver's seat last, and as he approached the burb I noticed how handsome he looked in his Dr Pepper T shirt and jeans.  When he got in, I told him he looked good in my favorite jeans.  From the backseat a youngster piped up, saying, "He's wearing your jeans?!"  Good gracious.

After school today as usual, my ravenous children tore apart the kitchen on the wild hunt for junk food to consume STAT.  One of my children opened this bag of tortilla chips (Aldi brand for the win of course!), only to find an unexpected visitor hanging out in the chips:

As Anne of Green Gables would say, "I suppose it was a rather romantic way to die, for a mouse Sonic character".

Our dear Shadow, who most days can be found lounging on our bed like this. . .

. . .is not always as innocent as he may appear.  He is quite naughty in the snatching-things-up-and-darting-away category.  He seems to have an insatiable desire to chomp all toys, socks and the like whenever we are home.  We have tried many a technique to get him to release the objects, with varied success rates.  The other day, however, we seemed to have found our ace in the hole.  My youngest daughter was playing lovely music causing our ears to bleed on her older brother's recorder.  I noticed Shadow nearby whimpering pathetically.  I quickly told her to stop, and after a moment he stopped whimpering.  While the sound was not exactly melodic, I was surprised at his reaction.  Perhaps the high-pitched sound was even more unpleasant to him than to us.  Being the quick thinker I am, I wondered if the recorder would help us remove forbidden objects from his jaws.  Sure enough, he was soon chomping on something an hour or so later.  One of the kids quickly grabbed the recorder and gave one quick toot on it.  Almost immediately, a blue plastic toy came shooting out of his mouth like projectile vomit.  We have used it twice more with the same results.  I have told the children to hold off on all screechy recorder playing (I would assume a euphonious recorder concert would not offend him) and reserve it solely for removal of verboten objects.  I sincerely hope our new secret weapon continues to be victorious!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Parenting Is Not For Weenies

Man.  Parenting is not for the faint-of-heart.  This is not brand-new information to me, and if you have kids, dear reader, I'll bet it's not new info to you either.  We have to make hard, unpopular decisions regarding their upbringing all the time.  And rarely do they understand that these decisions are for their own good (in fact, they grow to hate that expression!).

Several topics lately have reminded me of the title of this blog post.  First, we have PG 13 movies.  I've blogged about this rating before, and the challenges it brings. I fear the frustrations we all feel about this rating aren't going away anytime soon.  Here's how it goes:  we think a child under 13 is most likely too young to watch a PG 13 movie.  Most of our children under 13 feel they are completely mature enough to watch a PG 13 movie.  I have mentioned to the kids that if execs in Hollywood of all places think 13 is the magical age, it should probably actually be much higher, since Hollywood's track record for morality and ethics is not exactly stellar.  We remind the kids that what they see cannot be unseen; that we don't want their minds cluttered with violence, sex, bad language etc.  But of course they don't understand - they are children after all and just want to watch what everyone else (so they report) is allowed to watch.  "We're the ONLY ones who can't watch this movie!" they wail.  Not without compassion, I remind them this will not be the first time they feel this way under our roof.  My husband and I can commiserate - our parents were also careful with what we saw and listened to, and we didn't get it either at the time!  But now we appreciate their vigilance.  God-willing, our children someday will too.

In a similar vein, the word suck is also taboo over here.  I know everyone truly is saying this word, but I really, really don't like it, and I don't let the kids say it.  I think it is crass and crude, and by golly, I just can't stand to hear it come out of their mouths.  Pick your battles, you might say (and I very much believe in that parenting strategy, more on that in another post).  But I'm not kidding you when I say that this a battle I think I should pick.

And finally, violent video games.  Similar to PG 13 movies, this is a hot button subject around here.  One of the boys said to me the other day, "You're not going to let me play it, because dad is a pastor!".  Ummmm, no.  I am going to research the ratings and the violence level because I care about your heart and mind (see above!).  Dad could be an accountant or a Target manager or a CEO and we would still care about what you see and hear.

Sigh.  It's not an easy gig, is it?  We try our best as parents and hope that God's grace covers the rest.  I fail them daily and pray that God uses me anyway,  though my mistakes and shortcomings abound. God chose us to raise these children, gifted us with this responsibility.  We know that He will be with us every step of the way!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Child:  "I'm gonna head to bed.  My phone's at 3% and so am I."

PSA to everyone in a 20 mile radius: Don't hang out on my deck these days.  You can get seriously hurt out there and we can't afford to be sued.  The trees are not simply dropping acorns, they are hurtling them at alarming speeds, and in great numbers.  The dog keeps barking at the pounding, and is afraid to step out on the deck in a stiff wind.  In other news, the many squirrels in our yard are in heaven.

Last week, my husband got gas at Costco and texted me the amount to record on the debit card.  Later that day, I stopped and got gas too.  While it was pumping, I leaned back into the burb to answer a text.  When I got back out, I stopped the pump and as I was putting it back, I noticed the total. Dear reader, it was the same total as my husband's was an hour before. $44.28 for both of us!  I texted him immediately and told him it proved we are mfeo.  Because truly - the same total?  Proof.

Last Sunday we were able to participate in a confirmation rite with our 11-year-old.  During the rite, we made the sign of the cross on his ears, his eyes, his mouth, his shoulders, his heart, his hands, and his feet.  At the beginning of the rite, our son was smiling a bit and feeling self-conscious.  But somewhere around his heart, I started to get choked up (which surprised me at the time, but of course is not surprising whatsoever).  As my husband's and my hands traced the cross on his heart, my mind flashed back to his body in the NICU, hooked up to machines keeping him alive.  It's hard to reconcile those early memories with the strapping, healthy boy he is today.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Big Purple Dinosaur Haters Unite

Our dinner table the other night:

We were eating quickly because we had to head back to church for confirmation, youth group and various Bible studies.  We were trying to do high/lows in quickly, and things were getting crazy.  Before long, several children were singing various renditions of the Barney song, including this gem, sung at rapid-fire pace:  

I hate you, 
You hate me, 
Let's chase Barney up a tree,
With a knife and a sword and stick of dynamite,
Nanner, nanner, nanner-ite.

I gotta say, the rhyme basically falls apart at the end.  But I was really starting to crack up.  The older kids were trying to tell the younger sibs the proper (albeit still inappropriate way) to hijack the Barney song and everyone was gasping for breath.  I looked over at another son who had both red potholders on his hands, cupping his cheeks with what looked like giant lobster claws, and I stepped back from the scene mentally and soaked it in.

It was beautiful.

True, Barney was being blasphemed to make it happen, but I loved the camaraderie and hilarity around me. As the kids age, they are able to interact with each other (and us) on new levels, and sometimes those levels are deep and serious, and sometimes they are uproarious.  Regardless, I love watching our family come together in laughter or even sorrow - rooting for each other and sharing life together.

Sorry this time it was at your expense, Barney!