Friday, November 11, 2011

radical parenting

I've noticed this wave lately of what I'm calling "radical parenting," at least among the people I know. Maybe they've always been this way, and I'm just the one catching up. I don't know. But the idea is very simple: the parents are the parents. The kids are the kids. The kids will be respectful and obey, or there will be consequences. And the kids will also learn how to live with much less of the stuff they think they can't live without.

A friend of mine from church has recently taken away all screen time during the work week. They may watch tv and play on the computer on the weekends.

Another friend of mine online doesn't have a microwave.

These are the only two concrete examples I can think of at the moment, but they form a theme. Kids do not REQUIRE screen time. An attitude of "I must have my chicken nuggets in 30 seconds or I'll explode" is simply unnecessary and untrue.

They're things that I've noticed are EXTREMELY scary at first, to think about, but then afterward...not really a big deal.

In our house, we also no longer have a microwave. Not actually because I was taking a giant stand against instant gratification, but that is a giant side-benefit. It was actually because 1) our microwave was starting to get old and the display unreadable and 2) because it looked hideous sitting up on top of my newly-acquired old farmhouse cabinet. (My microwave was BIG.) But when I used to think about getting rid of it, I'd always say, "oh, no. That's not for us. Maybe someday, but not yet. I have toddlers. They require chicken nuggets and hot dogs. And I have leftovers."

And can I tell you? It was honestly DAYS before my children noticed it was gone!!!!!! I'm not kidding. Because, it turns out, we don't have that many leftovers (hubby takes them with him to work the next day, and I only make enough for dinner and his lunch). And my kids were almost never in the kitchen while I made the chicken nuggets or hot dogs, so I would make them in the oven or on the stove and they'd never know it. I honestly think it was at some point where Miss 8yo said, "well, can you just warm them up in the microwave?" and I said, "no." She asked why, and I said, "because we don't have the microwave anymore." And she actually said, "yeah, we do -- wait, what?? Where'd the microwave go??"

And that was that. I explained the principle of cooking on the stove and in the oven, and although it wasn't received the same way a new puppy would be, they've gotten over it, and I've only heard a few comments since. (Miss 8yo's biggest grievance is that the ONLY way she likes eggs is from the microwave. Oh well.)

I haven't been as brave with the screen time. However, today I shortened their screen time from an hour a day to a half hour a day. I only got one complaint as I said it. (It might have been an inspired idea that I told them while they were lost in the tv. I did make them answer me, though. Oddly enough, the only one who answered me was the one ON the computer at the time. Weird.)

Now I'm moving on to an issue that has plagued me for months, and that is the issue of SNACKAGE.

I buy things like granola bars and Cheez-its and cheese crackers. A side issue may actually be that they're growing big enough now that one of these items - the current allowance - is no longer enough to satiate them during any particular snack time. (Miss 13yo especially. I recognize that. I'm trying to think about that separately and allow for it.) Another side issue is that my boys wake up very early in the morning, and are hungry immediately, but I'm busy making Hub's breakfast, and thus the rule is that I will feed them when I'm done with that. So, in the meantime, I've let them have one of said snacks.

So, in one day, one normal day (when Miss 13yo isn't home from school), there should be roughly maybe 7 snacks being eaten. (It's a rough estimate, allowing for whether or not Mr. 2yo has one of those snacks which he doesn't always, and the before-breakfast snacks.) So one would think that if I buy 20-something snacks in a grocery trip, they should last us several days. Right?

Clearly there's a pilferer among them. Because it's way too easy to reach into the snack drawer quietly when Mom's not in the kitchen. (This was an idea I came up with so I didn't have to constantly get up to get them a snack at the time. This idea may be revisited.) And we're going through so many snacks, it isn't funny. Nevermind the days when Miss 13yo is home. And hungry. And could probably eat something close to a meal at every sitting. (Those teenage appetites, even budding ones, can be scary. I'm so grateful every day that my boys aren't there yet. I'll need to figure out how to make more money by then.)

So I need a solution. I need ideas of snacks the kids can have that will actually fill them, and some way to keep them from just grabbing one whenever they feel like it, or whenever I'm not around.

I had one thought - ah ha! Buy snacks they don't like! Well...for about 1/32nd of a second it seemed like a good idea, but with further investigation, proves itself to be a bad idea. Because they won't eat them, and I'll have to listen to it. (Not to mention wasted food.)

But I think I have landed upon an acutally feasible idea. Buy foods that they like, that are good for them, and filling, but not necessarily the ones they'd go for FIRST. These would be foods like apples, bananas, raisins, etc. This way they are healthy, filling, and will be eaten ONLY if they are ACTUALLY hungry, and not just because they want the chocolate chips out of the chocolate chip granola bars.

Anyone tried this? Thoughts? I may try it. :)

Just another step in the radical parenting process. Another attempt at creating less.

Monday, November 7, 2011


"You carry me. You lift me up. You raise me."

I've heard these words a thousand times and they seem very boring now. Empty and meaningless. Rote in the day to day. How do those words help me with the apple juice spilled in the very dark corner where it's hard to get to without unpacking the entire room that I should have cleaned before my son decided not to finish the juice he poured, leaving it for the two-year-old to knock over?!?!

God defines the words for me as I listen to the song again.*

You lift me up - from that which I'm having trouble treading
When I am weak - I'm failing
Your arms wrap around me - you comfort and console me, not encourage me to keep going
Your love carries me - you do the work for me
So I'm letting go - so I can stop struggling and trying and wriggling and beating my head against a wall and trying to continue finding the solution on my own, and just let myself
be carried,
be still,

*song taken from "Lift Me Up" by The Afters.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

grace and mercy

This grace, it's a funny thing.

It wasn't grace because I did something good. It wasn't grace because I was the bigger person and humbled myself to make the connection.

I came to the computer, gave Hubby his information, and then got lost in other words of grace. (That music doesn't play fair, by the way. It's mesmerizing.)

And so I sat, checking the clock from time to time...

"If I went up now, we'd have just enough time..."

But I don't. I don't go up to reconnect, to patch things up, to make ammends, to cut her slack. I let her sit upstairs. And I let me sit downstairs. (Any other time I might say I was hiding. This time I'm in plain view.)

I should've gone up. Things might've worked out. They might not've. I figured that would be the grace, that she decline my invitation, say she's more in the mood to read now, and we leave it good.

But no.

She comes down early, announces she's done, and that she's going to bed, because I'm on the computer, despite the deal that she'd get the computer when she's done.
I reiterate the deal, saying I'm only here waiting for her, she can have it... We discuss, she decides to go to bed anyway.


Here I am. A quiet night. Facebook/Pinterest/Blogger at my beck and call.

But I wasn't the bigger person. I didn't take the first step.

Is this grace anyway, the getting of something we don't deserve?

Or is this mercy, the lack of getting something we do?

Monday, October 24, 2011

my alter ego

Do you know what "alter ego" means? I didn't. I still kinda don't. I mean, I had the general idea, but I wondered - is it the version of yourself that you'd most like to become? Like your dream self? Or is it the version of you that is most opposite from who you are? (In my case, this would be an extremely outgoing goth people-person. I know that seems to be a contradiction, but trust me, that would be my opposite.)

I finally looked it up and it said "the other self." Well, thank you, that's most helpful.


Well, due to a chance meeting with a pretty little kitty outside my door tonight, I've decide who my alter ego is. It is the me that I think I'd like to be, the person that I will begin praying to become, the person I wonder what it would be like to work toward becoming.

Let it be said: I am not a cat person.

I mean it. I don't understand them. They're snobby and expect to be served and hide from people and I just can't read them and their litter boxes smell awful. They look all cute and then they'll swing around and nab ya. (I know: I've had the rabies series to prove it.) I love dogs. I get dogs. I get along very well with dogs.

But this kitty... It was like almost 11pm! I was just headed to the convenience store to buy tortilla chips for Hubby. Isn't it just like God to give us divine messages in the most mundane things?? (My last experience like that was while deep-scrubbing the bathroom. In God's defense - not that He needs it - it was a task that required much prayer and praise music.)

It was a pretty little white and orange kitty. Often when we exit our house late at night, we'll hear rustling in the leaves over by the trees, and we wait a second to make sure that the skunk/possum/giant squirrel has a chance to move on before we freak it half to death and turn it evil. But as I heard the rustling this time and paused, I glanced over and saw a lighter colored figure, and then the glow of two little cat's eyes. So I did what I, not a cat person, always does when running into a cat unexpectedly.

I said, "oh, hi, kitty!" and mowwwed at it. (For not being a cat person, I do a pretty good "moww.")

And this kitty came over to me, and looked at me, and stood with me, and I scratched the kitty, and it's hesitancy lasted about 3 and a half seconds, and then it purrrrrrred at me, and wagged incessantly at me, and arched at me as I scratched its back, and it followed me to my car.

I told it that it would make the doggies yell. I told it I had a dog and it wouldn't work out. I told it we couldn't be together, even though I was 5% worried (hoping?) it might try to get in my car with me. It almost seemed like it wanted to play (where, admittedly, my rabies vaccine experience kicks in and I decide I shouldn't find out; I don't really know how to initiate play with cats, or where their too-far point is).

But as I drove to the convenience store and back, I revisited the idea with God about who I'd love to be, and began to investigate the idea to see if it's someone that might look like me.

And I decided it didn't. Not now, at least. But the now is practice. I have a bunch of kids, one of which is a psycho teenage daughter. That's got to be training for something.

So I decided this new woman would look something like this:

She would lose all her icky body weight so she can easily move around her several-acre plot of land, but she would still be soft enough to give good hugs. She would be the keeper of the Orphan House - her home, where any animal or baby or child in need of love and a warm bed would find its rest. She would own a good comfy pair of cowgirl boots and a good pair of tall rainboots. She would read her Bible like it's her very breath. She would hang Bible verses around her house to remind her and those around her from whence their strength comes. She would gather her passle of girls on her bed and they'd read (and watch) Jane Austen and Anne Shirley and learn about beauty and chivalry and romance, and she'd work outside with her passle of boys, fixing trim and building lean-tos for said creatures who ambled through their lives. She'd homeschool so that she could be around to be needed, and people would show up on her doorstep - a long front porch attached to a rambling farmhouse - and say "got room for one more?" and she'd never have to say no.

I'm praying for that woman. I hope to meet her someday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

i tend to get in trouble...

...when I go to this:

book for keeping track of things in the house

...before going to this:
Book for keeping track of things in life

Friday, October 14, 2011

Five-Minute Fridays: Catch

I'm linking up with Gypsy Mama for her Five-Minute Fridays. Write. Write for five minutes. Don't stop. Don't edit. Go.


I admit, I had to think about this one for a while. (I have to think about most of Gypsy Mama's prompts...usually because my head is swimming with everyone else's stories that I've read.) I thought...catch...catch what? Catch a moment. Catch a memory. Catch up. Catch a minute. Catch a break. It makes my mind spin. But it is what she was saying in her original blog; it's what we're all trying to do. Some days we've got it. Other days we're just replaying in our minds what we've missed or messed up. We're supposed to catch moments with our kids, make memories while we can, don't miss a moment, they'll grow so fast. But while we're making memories with our kids - however much we love it - the dishes pile up, the laundry gets dirtier (because, let's face it, the kids aren't 100% in the moment, and somehow dishes still get used, even during memory-making; sometimes especially during memory-making). So we try to catch up. And at the end of the day, we might have memories, we might have clean houses (might), and we're left - if we're lucky - with a silence that speaks to us in whispers of "now what? who are you? what would you want to do right now, if your head wasn't full of meal plans and daily schedules and grocery lists?" And the answer goes back "....I don't know." We try to catch a minute for ourselves, whoever ourselves are.

All in all, at the end...just trying to catch a break. A happy, mom-inspired, kid-filled, this-is-how-life-is-and-it's-not-so-bad-after-all break. Wipe the sweat, and sigh happy.

STOP. (plus a few seconds)

Come see us - all of us! - at Gypsy Mama's Five-Minute Fridays! Or sometimes it's fun just to read everyone else's. :)

it's a pretty button...

There. Finally. I've made a new button to match the new blog. Yay!

Please feel free to grab it over there................

And if you had it before, please replace!

Much obliged.

Oh. And once again, I was assisted in the process by this blessed little page: Oikology 101. It's fab. I'm grateful.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

it's october

Fact: It's about quarter to twelve. (Midnight, I mean.)

Fact: I am not in bed.

Fact: It's October.

Fact: That is WAY too late to be researching homeschool curriculum!!!!

My head is spinning, y'all! I now know what some of you were going through over the summer, except that I should have already finished this and been teaching this by now!

Oh, my goodness. This company for this subject, that company for that subject, or one company for all subjects?? Spend close to $200 for almost all subjects, or spend more for the whole deal??

Well, Amazon, I think we'll be getting to know each other a whole lot better in the next couple days. (I may lose a little familiarity with my bed, though. Boo.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I just wanted to take a second to give a quick shout-out to some people... Apparently, I've had a couple visitors here from Russia! I'm so honored and I'm glad you're here!

(and thank you, google translate, for your help)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

what i do all day

This morning I was talking with hubby about groceries. "I will probably end up running to Walmart today if you need anything." "Why?" "Well, we're almost out of bread...we're just about out of need deodorant..." (This last item was something he actually requested a few days ago, not a commentary on my part.)

We have recently gone from weekly pay to twice-a-month pay. Talk about nuts. It's crazy how long it's taken to get back on our feet from switching our schedule. In that process, we're also trying to go grocery shopping less. We have a BJ's membership but never use it, but are planning to now, so that we can make fewer trips. That means buying more at once (obviously), but that also comes with deeper planning.

So we sat and talked about snack foods, and how many granola bars per day we would need, etc.

My husband BUILDS LISTS at work. My husband does LEAD GENERATION. These are big words and big ideas. He throws around terms and abbreviations that I have no idea what they mean. (I also don't ask. I'm grateful I've learned how to take the context.)

Meanwhile, I throw around terms like "12-count box" and "non-fat milk powder." (This last one scared hubby, but I told him it's for the bread machine. Then he was okay. But it came with a stern warning.)

I started trying to explain to him how I feel sometimes when I have to go over this stuff with him. Not all the time, but if I'm in a particularly vulnerable mood, or if I'm quiet enough to hear my undercurrent of thoughts while talking, I can admit that I feel inferior at these times. He has stress at work, and the things he does there are miles away from any kind of home happenings. And if he needs to not think about home while working, in order to concentrate, so be it. His job is not to do both jobs at once. That's what he has me for. You'd think that would make me feel important. And I do. Still...

Sitting with me and doing the math of "how many granola bars come in a box?" "8...or 12." "Probably should go with the 12." "Yeah, I do" is not, I imagine, how he'd choose to spend his 6AM hour. I told him, I feel like he thinks that kind of conversation is pithy. boring. mundane.

And maybe it is.

But it's still important. I need to know when he won't be home for dinner. I need to know how fast we'll go through a case of toilet paper. I need to know the ratio between when the away soccer game bus says they'll get back to when they will actually get back. I need to make rules like "one granola bar per day." I need to know where the crayons are that will fit in the spiral of my 2yo's handy-dandy notebook. (Can you say crisis?!?!)

And here's a reminder to me, and anyone else who's identifying: these things ARE important.

They are vitally important to the success and smooth running of our households. The conversations might be mundane to our very hard-working hubbies. But that doesn't mean they think them unimportant. It's just not their job. So the pride is ours to take in our work. We're growing little people, after all.

What odd-to-the-world-outside-of-mommihood things do you find yourself in charge of? Is there anything you do during the day that makes you say, "you know...if I wrote a book...this would totally go in it..."?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

just gotta say

Well sometimes my life just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big and my faith just seems so small

So hold me, Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul, I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me, Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep, it makes my resistance seem so thin

So hold me, Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

I'm singin' hold me, Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

(God bless you, Rich Mullins. "Hold Me, Jesus")

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

prayer hang-ups

Here are my prayer-related issues, in a nutshell:

1) For some reason, I feel like you have to work your way up to a real good pour-your-heart-out. My brain keeps saying, "you haven't prayed in a while...I don't think you're allowed to just dive in with some I'm really worried abouts...start faithful with a little first..." Like what, God will be more inclined to listen to me, to grant my petition, when I've shown myself to be a frequent shopper? That I've been faithful with my daily prayer responsibilities, so He can trust me when granting a really big favor? This keeps me from praying about what's really on my heart. I don't feel like I've shown myself worthy of major air-time.

2) I'm one of those people - I actually believe the crap that you have to be clean before you arrive at the Throne! Hear me - I know I'm wrong. But my little legalistic brain hears
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
it believes it. There's not a lot of room for argument. And that right there is enough to bog me down and keep me from even trying. But if I did try, if I literally found a list of sins in the Bible and thought through each one to see if I remembered committing it lately, so that I could be as blameless as possible before God, I swear - I actually get so annoyed at the time that would take, and I don't have it! Besides which, if I actually have a real good pour-my-heart-out that needs doing, all that research is only going to either put it off, or make me forget what it was entirely.

So, I end up not praying about what's really on my heart because I don't feel like I'm allowed to start with something big, and because I'm thinking, "there has got to be sin in there, so if God's not listening anyway, what's the point?"

I'm not actually despairing. I know I'm talking baloney. But anyone want to tackle either of these anyway? Encouragement is appreciated. Grace, too, of course. And if "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness," I'll take any of that as well.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


So my friend Stacie mentioned on Facebook that she has a new goal to check off one Pinterest activity per week, and asked if anyone would like to join her.

I got giddy.

I thought of all the lovely things I've pinned, and how much I want them in my house, and how this was the perfect motivation for me to make one of them become a reality!! Eeeee!

Then I started looking through my boards. Narry one of them could I make without doing some sort of shopping first.


Oh...but save one! BEHOLD!

Wanna play????

another good reason for a list

I have to figure out a good time to be on the computer.

Does that exist?

I end up coming back to it all the time because I never get done what I want to in one sitting. The kids constantly need something. And I feel like they're getting the picture that I'm ALWAYS on the computer, when really it's just that I'm never finishing anything.

I want to find a set time, and then make it a rule that it's mommy's work time. I should probably even keep a list of the things I think of during the day that I want to do while on the computer, and then I won't get distracted but random, shiny things on the screen.

(In fact, I probably need two times. One early, to check in on things for the day, and one later - to accomplish all those things on the list that gets created.)

The rest of the time I need to be disciplined to be up. Up, busy, available, productive, and attentive to them.

THEN, when I have been attentive to them and their needs, giving the face time and full attention, I can sit down to be productive at the computer, and confidently say, "No, sweetie. You're all set. You don't need anything right now, and Mumma needs to work. Please go play with your trains, and I'll be done in a little bit."

And my children will learn that the computer is a tool, a gift of technology to be used and respected, and not a means of passing mindless time, to get lost in when there are other things to be done.

Friday, September 23, 2011

it's pinteresting

I've gone a little pin-crazy tonight. Fair warning: those who use Pinterest will understand this blog. Those who don't, won't. (But should try it out. I have invites.)

Reasons I'm pinning:

1. I admit it: I love that anticipation of finding a picture that makes you go "oooh" or "awww!" or "yep. nice."
2. I like organizing my thoughts and wishes into happy little "boards." My life isn't so organized, but the pictures that represent things I want in my life...are. (And I do not want more boards than fit on one page.)
3. I like finding people who like the same stuff as me.
4. I like getting ideas of stuff to put in my house.
5. I like getting nifty ideas for things that will make my life simpler. (Things that will actually make my life simpler, not just something that someone says will, but in practicality, will take me a while to figure out, will be too expensive, or will take more time/talent than I have.)
6. I like finding signs or pictures with words that either say what I think, or that I'd like to hang in my house sometime.

I find it "pinteresting." Haha.

This is not a very deep blog post. But looking at pictures of the things in my head brings me happiness.

Especially on a night that I CAN stay up late because finally...FINALLY!...tomorrow morning I get to sleep in.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

kermit makes any day better

This song randomly popped into my head this morning.
Happy almost-the-weekend, and enjoy singing it the rest of the day. :)

smells like wanakee

It's foggy this morning. And rainy. And it's beautiful.

Standing at the door when hubby was leaving, I was breathing deeply. Hub said, "they need to bottle this smell for cologne. That'd be a sexy smell." I said, "you'd just make all the girls wanna go camping with you." He laughed and said, "just one girl." [grin]

In some of our circles we have a saying - "smells like Wanakee" - which is the church summer camp we've all gone to growing up. It did often smell like this, especially in the morning. But I have come to learn that it is not a smell necessarily specific to camp. (Maybe it's the farther away I get from my camp years.) We just have so many trees that you breathe in and smell leaves, pine needles, wet grass, tree bark. A recipe for serenity.

(It's an allergen's paradise, really, but in the moment, we don't pay attention to that.)

Mr. 5yo is still sick. Last night, he hit 102.8, and he doesn't do fevers well. He sleeps often, but not well, and fits the delirium profile exactly. This morning he's at 101.8, which is still high but enough of a dip that he thinks he's feeling much better. There was very little sleep last night. (And the night before.)

I am so grateful for these morning-quiet moments that give me a chance to (literally) breathe in something outside my own situation, to pull me back heavenward for even 20 seconds, a memory I can pull out of the card file later for a moment of closed eyes, deep breath, and reminders of grace.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

new every morning

Provisions abound! And they may not be monetary, but they sure do restore my soul.

#1: We have more toilet paper than I thought! I knew we had about 3 rolls, but it's questionable how long that will last. This morning I found about 3 more behind those! File under "It's the Little Things."

#2: Mr. 5yo is sick. This is not the provision. However, it eases a tricky situation I would have had to field this morning, and it also means he will probably miss picture day tomorrow, such that we can catch re-take day when we will have the funds to buy them!

#3: After a night of being up every half hour from 11pm to 5am [no exaggeration] with said sick child, he slept soundly from 5-8:30. This meant:
- hubby was willing to get himself and Miss 13yo ready for work and school, and let me sleep
- when I came downstairs, I found several more dishes from last night lovingly put in the sink [heart swelling]
- Mr. 2yo, who woke up at 6:15, was very happy to let Daddy fill his bottle and turn on Blue's Clues for him, and then leave me alone until 7:30 (when he arrived in my bedroom with the jug of milk) = since Miss 7yo wasn't awake yet either, he entertained himself - happily and safely - for about an hour!

I love my kids.

And finally, #4: I had a mind-opening brainstorm about how to do the week's laundry, that - although completely different from what I've been trying to do for years, and goes against what seems to make sense - might actually ease my work load a little. I may do a trial run.

Four provisions, and it's not even 10am yet!

His mercies are new every morning. Even if we're not quite awake enough to notice.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

preparing for rain

We're in a bit of a bind. One that we've been in before. And God always brings us out.

Yesterday, I had bit of a pour-out session with God. He gave hubby a lovely raise over the summer, trusting us to use it wisely, and we haven't really done that. Oh, our intentions were good, certainly, but our practices left much to be desired. God has given us enough for everything we need, but because we have not been timely in the paying of our bills, we are left with nothing. So, so wrong.

So here we are in this pickle again. Totally, completely our fault. Yet God is still gracious. He has gotten us out of these binds before (even when it doesn't make sense that He should), and I believe and am trusting that He will deliver us from this one, too.

It is in that spirit of expectation (I'm "preparing for rain," so to speak) that I am deciding to chronicle the deliverance this time. It has already begun, and in my new attitude of gratefulness and proper stewardship, I want to consciously notice and remember what He does.

"In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly." (Psalm 5:3)

Yesterday, we decided we have two major bills to fit into the remainder of our paycheck (the next of which is still a week and a half away). I'm still unsure of the actual amount of one of them, but if my memory serves, our bank account was really close to that total yesterday.

Enter Provision #1: my mom paid us her half of the cable bill, which should put us up to, if not a few dollars over, what we need for those two bills. (I'm choosing not to get caught up in the detail that I have yet to figure out what that second amount is, and if it's higher than I remember, we're screwed again. I'm choosing to trust it will work out.)

Another issue was that with those two bills, there would be nothing left over for any gas in my car next week, or the diapers I was sure we'd need by then. Provision #2: when I went upstairs to get a diaper for Mr. 2yo this morning, I found I had a good chunk of diapers left in his basket, and two fresh packages in the box, yet unopened! Praise God!

That realization was really when I decided to start keeping track. I went upstairs for the diaper, saw the extra diapers in the box, and continued on like nothing had happened. It was a few minutes later that I realized this was an answered prayer! And I decided I wanted to be much more intentional about noticing when God answers my prayers!

Now I write in expectation, waiting to see how else God will prove Himself worthy!

And this time, rather than simply selfishly expecting God's grace,
I am watching for it, waiting for it, with reverance and gratitude.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I am overwhelmed.

I have several things I need to do, and they all need to be done right NOW.

I am currently typing literally around several items on the desk that are making it hard to move, and should be cleaned off before something disastrous happens to hubby's desk. (Fortunately, there is no liquid present.)

Daughter wants toast.

Son is eating peanut butter crackers because I haven't had time to make him breakfast.

I have to call our cell phone company and pretty much beg them (cajole and guilt if I have to) to work with us to get our service turned back on and change our pay date, after getting so screwed up with them that we're almost always late in paying.

I have an issue with my car insurance that must be resolved just about immediately.

I'm trying to pray more money into our bank account (including adding in a trip to the bank to deposit cash) so we can accomplish all this.

The dog is stealing son's peanut butter crackers because his "hands are full" if he holds them all instead of setting them down on the couch. ("Then perhaps you should eat at the table. It is a privilege to eat in the living room.")

Hubby cleaned out his car yesterday, which means there is a LARGE pile of things on the couch, where the children cannot sit, and thus they are on ME (because, of course, there's no other logical place to go).

And, as always, dishes and laundry are waiting. (Unfortunately, they're waiting in the middle of the floor.)

And school will happen in the afternoon again. (I am thankful for homeschooling again. And because my lovely children gave me an extra fifteen minutes this morning to lie on my bed to get rid of a headache without bothering me.)

This is not a pretty picture to me, because it's just about all my fault as the keeper of the finances. It's ugly really. (How do you resist shame when it really does rest on you??) We are not the best at keeping our finances straight (and it is utterly AMAZING to me how utterly L  O  N  G it takes to even out after a pay schedule change), but we are working on it.

I need someone to take my children this morning and let them run in circles, jump up and down, do somersaults, and watch train and racecar videos with them so that I can do all this alone. But that won't happen, and somehow - with an unbelievable amount of grace from God (which I confess I have selfishly come to EXPECT instead of keep a healthy fear of) - it will all get done, and I will still love my children.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

bless the rains down in africa

My boy is in my head. Again. Still. Always, of late.

A morning of listening to the director of my sponsor-kiddo's orphanage, who was so blessedly able to visit our church this morning with almost no notice.

The kids are good. They're healthy. They're happy. They're learning about Jesus.

The price of food over there in Ethiopia has sky-rocketed, so they have to cut other things from their budget to feed the kids. Things like shoes.

On their New Year, they usually have a big feast, but the kids came to him this year and said they didn't want the feast...they needed shoes. How do you not just write over the remainder of your bank account to them?? And then I got to hear a little more of his story (including how to pronounce his name correctly!), how he got to the orphanage, how he's already advanced to a new grade, and how he has a gift for agriculture. He sometimes cares for the chickens. He knows when and where to plant. [so proud]

I wish he could come teach me.

And he's the most handsome 14/15 year old on two legs. (And, for clarification, that there is his own handprint on his shirt, with MY FAMILY'S names written under it, by M. himself. Heart melting.)

And how I (again...still...) just want to clear out so much junk from my house. I sat there in church with my icey latte, and then sat down to a lovely luncheon supplied by all the sponsor families....and my boy just needs shoes.


I'm off to go pour out my heart to the One Who is with my boy right now, and can let him know I love him...even thought it can take weeks for the letter telling him so myself to reach him.

Friday, September 16, 2011

on how i'm NOT making crazy new changes

I'm inspired to write something amazing. I've been reading a few new amazing blogs (new to me), and I'm inspired to write another post.

Problem. I don't have something amazing to say. I read a post last night of a lady I love and admire, who simply vented in a worthwhile way that she was overwhelmed and out straight and felt way too busy. I feel exactly the same way. And I thought, well, if she can post about it and not come out whiny, maybe I can, too. So I was going to...and then got interrupted, and then didn't feel so whiny anymore afterward. Guess that's a good thing...but it kinda took the wind out of my bloggy sails! [hehe]

I just started this, my second blog. I thought it would be a venue of new attempts - creating less in my house, in my world, and maybe actually daring to make goals for myself, beyond just getting the laundry and dishes done each day. (Which, really, should be more of a goal, because they don't always get done each day.)

But rather than new and exciting tryings in life...I'm trying to homeschool without curriculum. We're still cleaning up our finances from hubby's change in job and pay schedule over the summer. (It's amazing how long and far-reaching the effects of a pay time schedule change can be!) My 5yo is in afternoon kindergarten, which has made me feel like I'm living my day literally backwards. It doesn't work for me, and it's not entirely the best fit for him, and quite frankly, it bugs me that the school doesn't take that into account when placing the kids. (And YES, I want to be the one family that they make the exception for. So there.)

I'm trying to fit in school for the girl, housekeeping, errands, to-and-from school for the boy, keeping the 2yo's mind entertained (he doesn't default to tv when he's bored yet, and I'm trying to keep it that way!), keeping myself calm when fielding 13yo drama, parenting on two different childhood development levels, planning school for the girl, actually SEE my husband now and then (face to face, not just next to each other, him on the couch/computer, me on the couch/computer), and GET TO BED EARLIER!

I don't yet have amazing moments in homeschooling to write about. I haven't made a Life List. (Actually, I have about three items. Maybe.) I don't have pictures of decluttering projects, because I haven't decluttered since the yard sale we had last weekend, which you can't even really tell happened. (We got rid of LOTS of stuff! How can you not tell?!) And I don't have grand, motivational speeches about how well my exercising is going, because I haven't met with Jillian in about two weeks, and I have skipped pilates class twice (because if I went to that without having met with Jillian for two weeks, I'd be crying my way through class).

I'm wracking my brain for how to end this positively. [hehe]
1. I do have bins again for my children's stuff in the hallway! And they are immediately full, of course. But they will start taking stuff to their rooms today. And the bins are simply plastic file crates, but they were $1 at Walmart, which is just exactly my price range. Later I will attempt to find something like galvanized buckets or old hen laying crates, as bestie suggested. (Note: old hen laying crates are much easier to find where she is in Arkansas than they are here in Maine. Though I admit I haven't actually searched yet.)

2. This Saturday (tomorrow) is hubby's last busy Saturday! Last Saturday was our yard sale, so it wasn't his fault, but all in all, I have not had him home on a Saturday since before Pennsic in early August. (I am tired of assuming the dump run job. But I do it, because the alternative is unacceptable.)

3. I AM seeing the joys of homeschool, and enjoying my horizons being broadened as to just how many different ways there are to incorporate learning into life. Wonderful and amazing. And as busy as I've been, there's always some way to eeeeeek some kind of learning out of the day, even if it's just running the latest five books of the Bible in the car on our way to wherever. Gosh, I thought I'd have so much more down time when we started homeschooling...but I think it's just that now I have more time to do so many other things!

4. This one is just for Crystal - I am living sans microwave. HA! Who would've thought it possible. [hehe]

5. I have two new amazing farmhousey chairs! Already painted off-white, cane-seated, ladderback chairs. Gor. Geous. They were 2.99 a piece at Good Will. Our Good Will isn't the best, but it's finds like this that do make up for all the other frustrating, empty trips.
Ignore the mess in the background. It's not there anymore. Mostly.

6. Hubby came home from the church youth group kick-off barbecue with eldest with a brand spankin' new GIANT sweatshirt with the youth group logo. It's been so. long. since I've worn a good sweatshirt (in weather than warrants it), and I've absonded with it and worn it almost every day since. (And I like that it's not just a sweatshirt, but a sweatshirt with a message.) I might let him borrow it back...sometime.

7. And most of all - IT'S COLD TODAY. It makes me come alive, this fall weather. Earlier this week, it was still hot and muggy, but finally it rained (always a good sign of weather changing in Maine) and today it's almost frigid. YUM.

Yesterday, I bought chocolate, caramel apple, and pumpkin donuts. You should've smelled my car.

Monday, September 12, 2011

morning quiet

I got up this morning, tired per usual, but with the ability to get up and function. In the quiet kitchen, I made hubby's breakfast and coffee. I love the wood floors, and the beginnings of less, so I can see what's there, what I need to do, what I have. It even makes the overflowing weekend's worth of dishes easier to think about. And a moment of grace - eldest's glasses...assignment papers...water bottle. First thought: well, I'll tell her they're there, but if she doesn't take them, it'll be lesson learned. But if it were my own blood-born? I'd help. I'd gather. So I help. I gather. They're put into a neat pile on the corner of the table for her to see and easily put in her backpack.

Breakfast and coffee made, hubby descends to the first floor. No more self-quiet, but still we-quiet. First-light discussions of finances, lunch, later-in-the-week hobbies. Peacefully. Eldest decends - dripping hair, packback strapped way too loosely, panicking from running late, doesn't have time to move soccer stuff from backpack to soccer bag (doesn't need the soccer papers, she says), but wants to take time for me to scrounge for gum (didn't brush her teeth). If no time for soccer bag, no time for gum. Running late.

A quick ("just the facts, ma'am," the way she wants it) reminder - if you don't want big arguments, it begins in the small everyday willingness and lack of attitudinal answers - and they're out the door. Love you. Have a good day. See you tonight.

And a vacancy in the house. I stand at the front screen door, smelling the cold morning air (my favorite). Bailey comes and stands beside me. "Hi, puppy." I watch the car across the street pull out and drive off. A vacancy in that house. I think about the person in that house cleaning up from making breakfast, putting prep things away, now taking the time to make their coffee, listening to the quiet, cold morning.

Oldest boy comes down, sleepy 5 year old "hi, mommy" snuggles. Finding markers, practicing L's.

And off we go again. God, give me the grace to keep this early morning quiet in my attitude all day, even later when it's very bright and very warm and very loud.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Let's get this party started.

So I had this new idea for a new blog, and here it's taking me forever to actually get it going.

We're having a yard sale on Saturday that I have made great headway on, but I'm not done. I have two days left, and at least one major area yet to sort.

I have yet to go grocery shopping this week. I was supposed to go Tuesday. Dinner's are getting interesting.

I've done two days of homeschooling, and my daughter is feeling bored and unchallenged. I'm using hand-me-down curriculum (nothing wrong with that), but I don't think it fits her.

I've lost track of my children's bins for the hallway, so I have nowhere to throw their stuff which seems to be multiplying in my living room.

And I have a Classical Conversations family meeting this morning which will chop up the day even more.

My 2yo got up at 6am this morning, instead of his usual 7ish.

My 5yo tried to feed the dog this morning and announced that there was no more dog food. Another stop to make in the day.

I had a dream last night that my hubby was being inhabited by something. The something was very nice and kind, and my hubby was still present, but it just wasn't the same, and I was tired of sharing him.

Busy much? Anyone relate??

"My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9

But I am not dispairing.

I have made great progress in my yard sale project. I've even bought poster boards.

I'm looking forward to looking through some new curriculum online, and I have some really good suggestions and preferences from my dear homeschooling friends. And I'm hoping really desperately praying that maybe the CC meeting this morning will give us a little more direction. And since I have no Bible curriculum whatsoever, I'm building lessons as I go around our memory verse (Psalm 119:11), and my kids are getting it. It's going well. And they have wonderful ideas and thoughts and commentary as I talk to them about it. (And they remember it for at least part of the day. "Elijah, is kicking the dog a white heart or a black x?" "A black x." "Could you figure out how to turn it into a white heart?" "Sorry, Bailey.")

My 2yo was perfectly happy to sit on the couch and watch PBS while I got hubby and eldest child out the door, instead of hanging on my nightgown, whining.

There is money in the account for dog food, and (if I can find it) I have a discount card left over from my mother-in-law when she worked at Petco.

And hubby immediately understood my dream, and said, "It's been busy." I think we might get to slow down at the end of September.

"Enough is as good as a feast."
Mary Poppins

So this here's my blog on my attempts to create a whole lot of LESS. Even in the midst of the crazy busy schedule of things that must be done, it seems a good time!!

Aside from the schedule right now, there is simply TOO MUCH. Too much stuff, too much busy-ness, too many distractions, too much worry. Not enough laughing, playing, worship, learning, prayer.

"Better is a little with the fear of the Lord,
than great treasure and turmoil with it."
Proverbs 15:17

I'm cleaning house, baby, in more ways than one. Will you join me? "Reality meets grace," and there's more than enough grace to go around.