Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tantrums

My sister in law, Chip, and I are both mothers of 2 year olds who have been testing our limits lately by throwing some pretty good tantrums. Chip, whose 2 year old is her oldest child, told me yesterday that she finally understands why some people call this age "terrible": it is frustrating, to say the least. Chip also posed an interesting question to me yesterday: do you think that Jesus threw tantrums?

We know that Jesus was 2 at some point in time, right? We decided that Jesus probably did throw tantrums, just like any other child asserting his independence, trying to figure out where the boundaries lie, and not having very sophisticated communication skills. After all, the whole point of Jesus coming to the world as a human, as a baby, was for him to have the complete human experience, the good parts and the not so great parts. And I figure it's impossible to really be fully human until one has thrown at least one tantrum. It's hard to imagine the God of the universe kicking and screaming on the floor, but to tell you the truth, it makes me feel better to think of poor little teen-age new mom Mary dealing with 2 year old Jesus throwing himself down and screaming his head off.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas greetings

Week 4
Yes, I felt the need to add a third ruler. Hubby told me, as I was taping, that he has a yardstick I can borrow...Anyway, you can't really see, but it's now up to the 5 (+12+12=29). Crazy tall. We're interested to see how big it can get before it collapses
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We sent about half of our Christmas cards electronically this year, in an attempt to conserve resources (those of you who read this blog regularly are getting a little extra something with yours, so yours are coming snail mail, that is, if I can ever get to the post office to see if they require additional postage). I've experienced a side benefit that I wasn't really anticipating. Recipients are clicking "reply" and we're hearing from people that we haven't heard from in years :-) And they're actually taking the time to tell us what they've been up to. Fun.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Snuggle

One of our family's Christmas traditions is to count down to Christmas by reading books with winter and Christmas themes. I wrap 23 of our books (in old newspapers, which we'll be recycling anyway), and we open one each day, and read it, until December 23. On the 24th, we unwrap the Bible and read Luke 2. This is a great tradition for a number of reasons: we get to read all of our Christmas books every December (if we just left them on the shelf in general circulation, we'd forget to read some of them), we can see that Christmas is getting closer, as our stack of wrapped books diminishes, and the kids don't go insane with waiting to open a gift--they each get to open one every 3 days.

The other night, as we were all snuggled together on the couch, with Scott reading the Christmas book of the day, I thought to myself, "who does this?" What a joy it is to be in a family, and what joy it is to sit quietly together at the end of the day, reminding ourselves what all the craziness is really about at this time of year. In that moment, I wished for someone to take our picture, so I could remember that feeling forever. I guess I'll just have to tuck that mental picture away in my heart for the future.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mittens

Bubby will not keep his mittens on. This is not such a big deal when it's warm out, but when it's 5 degrees, you kind of need to have your hands covered if you're going to be outside for any length of time. Poor Bubby. He loves to be outside, but gets so upset (understandably so) when his hands get cold, and they inevitably do, because he refuses to wear mittens. And I've discovered (I know you're going to be shocked by this one), that 2 year olds won't listen to reason, and have little regard for cause and effect. We even tried those mittens with the long sleeves on them--Bubby takes even those off. The issue is lack of independent finger control. Bubby wants to be able to move his fingers individually for a better grasp on the shovel or truck or whatever. The only hand coverings the kid will keep on are those little knit "magic" gloves. Better than nothing, but not much. He now has three pairs of them, so we can switch them out when they're wet. We looked and looked, but surprise! they don't seem to make waterproof gloves that small. I did find some fleece gloves that claim to be wicking to stay dry, but I'm a bit skeptical, and even those are too big for him. *sigh* Anyone in the market for some cheap toddler mittens?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day!

Week 3
My husband laughed at me when I added the second ruler. Its numbers aren't as easy to see, but the plant is up to the 9 (21" tall).
* * * * * * * * * * *
I was awoken this morning at 5:52 a.m. by my phone ringing (playing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"). I managed to pull it together enough to answer the phone (the phone in our bedroom is not in easy reach to discourage a certain 2 year old from calling who knows who when we're not looking), and was told by a recording that school was cancelled today due to inclement weather. Sure enough, there's about 6 inches on the ground and more coming. It's blowing, too, which I think must be why they decided to cancel.

Here are some pictures of my favorite boys enjoying the snow.The man in black... Bubby's first time in snow pantsCode-man shoveled a race track Bubby's wearing gloves this time :-)
We set up a snack and hot chocolate station in the garage

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I should...

I find myself saying, "I should..." a lot. I should wash the dishes. I should vacuum. I should fold the laundry. I should play with Bubby. I should make lunch for Hubby. I should buy a gift for [fill in the blank]. I should stop playing with my kids and make supper. Do you do that? I've realized that all of the "I shoulds" in my life leave me feeling empty, and, at the worst of times, worthless. There are so many things that I should be doing, but only a finite amount of time in which to accomplish them all. I simply cannot do all of the "I shoulds," nor do I want to.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered a helpful tool for dealing with the "I shoulds"--replace them with I choose, or I choose not. I choose to play with Bubby. I choose not to fold the laundry at this time. "I should" degrades; "I choose" empowers. "I choose" returns control of my actions right back to where it should be--with me, rather than handing control over to some vague sense of guilt-induced duty. "I choose" makes me responsible for my actions and attitude; "I choose" enforces my values, as I choose which activities are most important to me. I doesn't seem like changing one little word in your self-talk would make such a big difference, but it does. Try it--it works.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The MOPS meeting that almost wasn't

I went to my MOPS meeting this morning. I almost didn't. When I looked at the clock and realized that I had to leave right then if I wanted to be 5 minutes late, and Bubby wasn't even dressed yet, I thought, "I should just stay home. I can't do this today." The drive gave me some time to calm down and think about my morning, and I realized that not everything went wrong that could have, but it was definitely not a happy morning.

First of all, I slept until 7:04, when Bubby woke me up. Now this might sound like a good thing, to be able to sleep until 7, but it really isn't, not on a school day. Sleeping until 7 means that I don't get a shower in the morning, and a shower is pretty much essential for me to have a good day. It also wasn't good because Bubby waking me up at 7:04 meant that Logo and Code-man were not yet awake either. Especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when they take a shower, L & C need to get up at 7 in order to get everything in and not have to rush out the door to the bus. Then Logo was upset about showering, Bubby decided to knock over my bowl-ful of milky rice chex (which I optimistically poured thinking perhaps I could gobble it down while L & C were in the shower--nope), and then proceeded to throw Code-man's corn and rice chex in various directions to see what would happen (he's quite the scientist).

My goal is to have the kids out the door by 8:05, so I have them brush their teeth at 7:55, then go put their shoes, coats, hats and gloves on. But with the trouble in the shower, that meant Logo had 7 minutes to eat. Logo doesn't do anything fast, most of all, not eating. So at 7:58 I'm screaming at the older boys to brush their teeth, and by 8:02, I'm saying, forget it, just get your shoes on. They rushed out the door at 8:07 and 8:08 (the bus comes at 8:10), and (you knew this was coming) Bubby got his hand slammed in the door. I don't really need to go on here, do I? You're getting the feeling for the kind of morning I was having? I missed the bus (I assume the children made it, because when I finally got out there, I didn't see them), I still wasn't showered, Bubby wasn't dressed, and there were food and dishes strewn about haphazardly in the kitchen and dining room, but I hadn't eaten. It was just one of those days, when you feel like you should just lie low and hope that something good happens eventually.

But you know, in that moment, when I was deciding not to go, I realized that today, of all days, I needed to go. After a morning like I had, I needed to remove myself from that situation and just be. For those of you who don't know, MOPS is an international organization that celebrates and supports Moms of Pre-Schoolers (and before someone says, but you don't have a preschooler, Scarlet, pre-school means they haven't started school yet). Today I really needed that support from other moms who have been there. I needed to not be a mom for a while and just be a grown-up, a woman. I am so thankful for that group of women, who I don't even really know all that well--what I do know is, we're all moms and we're all trying our best and sometimes messing up. I am so glad I decided to go--it is such a blessing to be able to feel that love and acceptance from my peers--it's like a soul re-charge.

Well, I did eventually get a shower, got Bubby dressed, and only ended up being 15 minutes late for the meeting. I ate brunch at the meeting, and there are still food and dished strewn about (in fact, Hubby, don't be surprised if it's all still there when you come home :-P. And my day has gone so much better than I could have imagined.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Week 2

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Hubby and I accomplished a flurry of Christmas shopping on Monday, both in stores, and online. Now I know what they mean by Cyber-Monday. That was us! It got me thinking about gifts again (gifts are never far from my mind, anyway, you know). I know I've said this before, but no one has ever given me a satisfying answer, so I'll say it again: at Christmas, we're celebrating Jesus' birthday, so how come we get all the gifts? I don't believe that I've ever gotten a gift on any of my children's birthdays, even though it probably is more appropriate to give gifts to the mother on those days, don't you think? I've never gotten a gift on Lincoln's birthday, or MLK's birthday. I've never gotten a gift for anyone else's birthday...unless you count Brandi, Karen, and George H.W. Bush, who happen to share my birthday.


So what are you going to give Jesus for His birthday this year?


Well, when I give a gift to someone, I think carefully about what I know about that person--their likes and dislikes, what they've said and done, and then I try to figure out what they might like as a gift, based on that information.


Let's see...

Jesus healed the sick--we can donate to charities like the American Cancer Society, donate vaccines through organizations like Samaritan's Purse, or volunteer at a hospital or for meals on wheels

Jesus fed the hungry--we can donate food or volunteer at a food shelf, or serve a meal in a shelter, or prepare meals to be sent to hungry children elsewhere

Jesus gave sight to the blind--we can donate eyeglasses to the Lions Clubs to be used again

Jesus urged us to care for orphans and widows--we can take care of their children while women who have fled abusive situations take parenting or job skills classes, give clean blankets to people who are homeless, or adopt a child through Compassion International or World Vision

Jesus freed us from our prison of sin--we can live a life of gratitude, so that grace and Christ-love ooze out of our very being into the world


Hmmm. Seems like, what Jesus really wants for His birthday this year, and every year, is for us to be His hands and feet in the world.


Don't get me wrong--I love gifts, both giving and receiving--any occasion will do. But I think that most of us have lost sight of why we're celebrating. It's become, for many of us, all about the gifts. It's tradition. It's expected. Feelings will be hurt if we don't come through with gifts in the way that we always have before. And that is so far from what Christmas should be. True to form, we humans have sinfully distorted yet another beautiful gift that God has given us.


I guess the take-away message here is, in your Christmas celebrations this year, please be deliberate in everything you do--be sure that all of your actions and thoughts are holy and pleasing to the One whom we celebrate. Be sure that everything you do and say in this season is done and said not for man, but for God.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Caught!

I caught him...
pink footed!

Soul Collage

Week 1
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Last week, my Sunday school class completed our soul collages. You can see mine below. Just a few words of explanation: two Sundays ago, we met and cut. We were instructed to just cut out anything that struck us, and not to listen to our "disapproving rabbit," (that part of us that tells us not to cut something out because it's....whatever disparaging thing the rabbit comes up with to discourage us). It was really a lot of fun. We got to gab while paging through magazines, and it was strangely calming. Or perhaps not so strange, since it was an enforced break from our hectic everything. A lot of images struck me, but only one made me gasp--that one below of the hole in the mountain--so I knew that one had to make the final cut and be in my collage.

The next week, we glued. The finished collage is only about 5x7 inches, so we really had to be thoughtful about which images to include. Some of us made more than one, so that none of our images had to be discarded. I say we had to be thoughtful, but it was really more intuitive than thoughtful. I just started arranging the elements on the page until it felt right. As I was arranging my images, I noticed that, apart from the dancing people and the four background images that I cut out, everything that I cut out was natural (not surprising, since I love being outside, and feel closest to God in nature), and everything was round--not everything was perfectly round, but everything was round (which symbolizes eternity)."I AM" is, I think, my favorite name for God. I think I blogged about it, but just to recap, to me, "I AM" means that God is who and what God is regardless of how I, or anyone else, perceives God. Just because I think God is...fill in the blank...doesn't mean that God really is. God simply is. God doesn't need me to define Him. The hole in the mountain reminded me of that song that goes, "there's a God-shaped hole in all of us..." I love the dancing people, because I strive to dance in my life (a la "I Hope You Dance"). And I included a selection of three (does anyone see the Trinity?) of my round things, because it just felt right: a twig ball, raindrops on a leaf (which remind me of tears), and a sunflower (which reminds me of joy). I'd also like to point out that my collage spilled out over the edges of my 5x7 card, again, because it just felt right.

So after we finished our collages, we had a little conversation with them, journaling the responses--this is where I hit a block. Some of the questions we were to ask our collage were, "who are you?" "what do you have to give me?" and "what do you want from me?" I had no idea what this card was trying to say to me, but then, I had a breakthrough.

My card told me that it was messy, but perfectly made, just like me. It gave me the realization that I am imperfect on purpose, that God is the author of my imperfections. And it wanted from me, just acceptance. This soul collage symbolizes to me that, just like God, I am who and what I am, regardless of how others perceive me, or even how I perceive myself. I am who and what I am, and that is beautiful.

It's really amazing to me that this little collage of images, put together with not much thought, can be so meaningful and transforming--I guess all that's required is an open spirit to accept the message.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You are so blessed! and Take time to...

I went to the dentist the other day. When the dentist came in to do his 30 second token appearance, where he pretends to be checking my teeth but really he's just poking a couple places in my mouth with a sharp pointy metal thing, he said to me, "what a beautiful day...and you have such beautiful kids. You are so blessed." Well, I agree that I am blessed, but I must admit that I was taken aback by his bold declaration. Plenty of times, I've heard people say that they themselves are blessed, and I've also been included in a general we are blessed, but I don't think anyone has ever told me that I am blessed before. And why does my dentist think he knows enough about me to know that I'm blessed? To tell you the truth, my first gut reaction (in my head, because 1. I agree, and 2. I didn't want to be rude, and 3. the guy's hand was in my mouth) was, "you don't know me. You don't know my life. How dare you say that I'm blessed? How dare you judge me?"

I've sat with this for a while, and I've come to realize that my dentist does know enough about me to declared me blessed. He knows it was a beautiful day. He knows I have three beautiful and (mostly) well-behaved boys (when they're in his office). He knows that I can afford dental care. He knows that I live in one of the most prosperous countries in the world. He knows that I am a child of God. In fact, I'm pleased that he noticed my blessedness, and I am grateful for the generous reminder.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
The other day Bubby and I drove to the state park closest to our house to walk down to the waterfall and up the steps to the overlook. It was another gorgeous day, and we really enjoyed ourselves. On the way down, Bubby was counting squirrels. We saw a huge red-headed woodpecker, pecking, and then turned toward the river side of the path to see a bald eagle sitting in a tree 20 feet from us. I love that waterfall, and I love being outside. The people who passed us on the steps to the overlook were suitably impressed that Bubby was walking up by himself. We spent some time just looking and exploring, and then we headed back up the trail toward our truck and home.

It's a short path, around half a mile, but it is very steep, and the leaves on the paved part of the path made it quite slippery. I was having some trouble pushing the stroller, so I stopped to rest, and of course Bubby took this as his cue to exit the stroller. Ok, I thought. I'll rest and he can play. Good. But then I was ready to go on and Bubby wasn't. Bubby was busy scooping the fallen leaves into a pile and then jumping in them. Bubby was busy gathering armloads of leaves and then throwing them at me. Bubby was busy throwing leaves into the air and then running under them. I was annoyed. I was done with the waterfall, done with the path, done being outside, and ready to get to the truck and get home.

And then I realized. This was my agenda for the day. This, being with my big baby boy and experiencing the joy of playing in the leaves. That's why we went to the waterfall that day, not to check it off on our to-do list, but to enjoy each other and being outside . And while I was ready to be done, Bubby wasn't, quite yet. It's not like I had to be anywhere; it's not like I had anything better to do--in fact, all I had waiting for me at home was the endless piles of dirty clothes and dirty dishes. So why not? Why not take time to play in the leaves? It's one of my favorite things to do in the fall--how can I deny my little guy that pleasure? All that's required is that I let go of my agenda, my plan, and be willing to live fully in this moment, instead of always planning for the next.

So many times in life, we're looking forward, worrying about what tomorrow holds, focused on what comes next, what our plan is, when we should be living this day, this hour, this minute. I think we miss out on so much that way.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10b

Monday, November 16, 2009

Anonymous

Hi. My name is Scarlet B, and I have parking anxiety.

Due to practical considerations, I drive a Suburban most of the time. Just in case you are not aware, Suburbans are big vehicles, much, much, MUCH larger than the little Toyota Tersel that was my first car. This summer I kept thinking, I gotta take the kids to the children's museum, I gotta take the kids to the science museum, but I didn't because I knew I would have to park in a parking garage. I have avoided THE MALL for the same reason. I've come to a point now where I'm fine parking in diagonal spots, but where the spaces are straight in, I must park in a pull-through location, even if it means I'm walking for a long time to get to where I'm going. This is progress.

My husband laughs about my parking anxiety, but I honestly think it's a good thing. After all, I haven't crashed in to anything yet. However, it seems like when you're arranging your life so that you will avoid difficult parking situations, it tends to be somewhat limiting. That's how I know I have a problem. I don't think there's a 12 step program for parking...yet.

A couple of weekends ago, my kids' school held their annual bazaar fundraiser. Hubby took the little car into the cities for a football game, leaving me with the 'Burban. I'm sure he was thinking it would be more comfortable for me and the kids, but he didn't take my parking anxiety into account (that's because my hubby has never felt vehicle or driving anxiety of any kind). I knew that parking would be difficult. There are exactly 4 pull-through spots at their school, and about 20 diagonal spots, in addition to about 24 straight in slots. I decided we wouldn't go. No way was there going to be a good parking outcome for me and my boat, with that many other people around. But Logo really, really wanted to go, and so, finally, I relented. I told myself that we could drive by and if there wasn't any parking I could just drive back on home. Don't ask what my plan was to placate the kids, if I had to bail.

I passed the first parking lot, the one with the pull-through spaces. No empty spots. In fact, people were already parked in non-spots: full. I drove along the road to the next lot. Several cars were already parked along the road, as well, leaving free only places where the ditch is very steep. I drove through the lot with the diagonal spaces. Nothing! I was ready to head for home when I saw Jack's mom heading toward a vehicle. "What's she doing?' I thought. She must be grabbing something from her car, because I know she wouldn't be leaving now. I drove back around, searching for an acceptable spot on the road. Nothing. I pulled back into the parking lot to turn around and saw...Jack's dad, backing out of their diagonal spot! My pulse quickened. I hoped I could get there in time...this was my one chance to salvage the situation and...victory! I snagged the spot.

It was a good outcome this time. We went to the bazaar and had lots of fun. Got lots of useless little prizes that are now broken or lost. But if Jack's dad hadn't left at that exact moment (Code-man told me later he was taking Jack to a hockey tournament), we wouldn't have. I've just done the first step, admitting I have a problem, so hopefully, now I can be on the road (ha) to recovery. This week, the school, next week, THE MALL!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One more thought

So I can tell this is a you had to be there moment, but it tickled me, so now I'm going to thrust it upon all you unsuspecting people.

I purchased a gift certificate for someone yesterday. It was an online gift certificate, and I had to enter information about the recipient, so the program could generate a print-able certificate for me to present to the lucky bestow-ee. This particular GC is going to a family, not an individual, so when I entered the information, I entered "The" in the space for first name, and "S____ Family" in the space for last name. I completed my purchase, and everything was good on the GC: it read "The S____ Family" as I intended. And then...I got an email. The subject of this email is "[this organization] gift certificate for The." If you are not currently chuckling, you are not going to get it, so I'm just going to stop here.

Odds-n-Ends

It's been a while since I've blogged, so today you're just going to get a mish-mash of thoughts that have been rattling around in my head for the past week. It's kind of like leftover night...

* * * * * * * * * *
It was my Dad's birthday the other day. Happy birthday, Dad!

* * * * * * * * * *
I find it amusing that after more than 14 years of marriage, there are still things that I don't know about my husband. For example, I've known for a while now that he considers himself to be a not very great speller, but what I didn't know was that when he is writing something, and doesn't know how to spell a particular word, he'll just try to think of a different word that means the same thing, and that he does know how to spell. I never knew that about him, although I suspect it's fairly common. And then, the other day, I commented to him about how someone we know never serves just plain vegetables--she always adds something or other to them (I think my exact words were something like, why does so and so always have to go and mess up perfectly good vegetables?) And hubby said to me, "I don't know, maybe that's why I don't like plain vegetables." What? All this time, and I never knew that my very own husband prefers vegetables with stuff in them. I just assumed that, like me, he is a purist when it comes to his veggies. *Sigh* So maybe now I know everything, but I suspect I don't. I suspect I never will know everything there is to know about my husband, but I suppose that keeps things interesting (or at least amusing).

* * * * * * * * * * *
An actual paraphrased (because I can't remember what I said 2 minutes ago, much less 5 days ago) conversation that occurred between my husband and myself.
Sawblock: Is there anything I can do for you tonight?
Scarlet: Sure. You can sweep the floor, put away the dishes, put away your clothes...
(pause)
Scarlet: Oh, can you please finish up the ice cream for me?
Sawblock: What did you say?
Scarlet: Can you please finish up the ice cream?
Sawblock: (incredulous expression) Well, how much is there?
Scarlet: There's kind of a lot, but I definitely think it's do-able.
Sawblock: Hmm. There's kind of a lot?
Scarlet: Yeah. It's OK if you can't, but I'd really appreciate it if you could.
Sawblock: OK, I'll try.
(Later)
Scarlet: (opens the ice cream container) Oh, this is totally do-able. No problem.
Sawblock: Yup.

Do you think I'm making unreasonable demands on my husband?

* * * * * * * * * * * *
The other day I was feeling so industrious. I noticed that the tire on our bike trailer was flat, and realizing that Hubby wasn't going to have time to repair it before heading off on another business trip, I decided to fix it myself. It's probably been at least 14 years since I've fixed a flat bike tire, because I don't get many flats, AND I have a husband who likes to do that kind of thing. So I fixed it Tuesday, and checked Wednesday and it was still inflated. Whoo-ee! I'm a do-it-yourself-er. I'm a problem solver. I am useful. And then today, I realized that it was flat again. So I'm no longer any of those things. Now I am a failure. I haven't yet checked to see whether my patch failed or if there is a new puncture. I did check the tire to see if there were any sharp things, but perhaps I missed it. What a bummer.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
I think it exasperates my husband just a little bit that when he is around and I find a bug in our house, I make him capture and dispose of it for me instead of doing it myself. So, Hubby, here's the deal with that. Every woman wants to be rescued. Every woman wants to be taken care of. And yes, I can kill my own bugs. In fact, I can kill other people's bugs (and became known for that in my one stint at Mountain TOP), too. Bugs don't bother me. But I do need a hero in my life, and honey, that's you. So every time I find a bug, I give you the opportunity to make me fall even more in love with you by letting you rescue me. And let me tell you, it works. I am more in love with you each day, because I know that you will do anything for me, even ridiculous things, like slaying bugs or finishing ice cream. Thanks for being my hero and friend.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Hmmm. I guess there's not really so much rattling around in my brain as I thought there was. Sure seems like there are more random thoughts in there...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Honor and the Case of the Missing Fuzzy Pink Slipper

My brother (aka the monster I created) has received a home brewing honor--he has been chosen MR Beer's brewer of the month. Check out his blog and the write-up on the MR Beer website. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this, but I think it's mostly proud :-) Good choice on who to drink your beer with, bro. I know the song says in heaven there is no beer, but I don't think that's really true.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
So I finally got tired of waiting for someone else to do it and bought myself some new fuzzy pink slippers on Friday. The old blue ones were really sad: they were literally falling apart and had holes in them where there really shouldn't have been holes. The new pink ones are so soft and comfortable, and only have holes where there should be holes. I wore them for the first time on Saturday morning, and my little toes were so warm and cozy. When it was time to go to the big boys' last soccer games of the season, I sat on the end of my bed, took my new, cozy, fuzzy, pink slippers off, put on my boots, and went out into the cool morning.

When I returned from soccer, I took off my boots and went into my bedroom to slip into my new, warm, pink, indoor foot-wear, only to discover my precious slippers were now missing. I wandered forlornly into the living area asking, "has anyone seen my fuzzy pink slippers? I know I left them right by my bed. Anyone?" They pretty much ignored me, but as I neared the kitchen I spotted a clue. One lonely fuzzy pink slipper was sitting there on the floor. I pounced upon it, and immediately put it on my left foot, hoping that the right slipper would soon be found. Nope. I spent the next 4 hours or so wearing just one slipper. I even offered a reward for the safe return of my other pink friend, but I saw no sign of it anywhere. Dejected, I went to bed Saturday night still not knowing if my little fuzzy scuff would ever return.

On Sunday afternoon, after Bubby had wandered off with half a peanut butter sandwich and returned a few minutes later with only a few small morsels remaining, Hubby asked him, "what did you do with the rest of your sandwich?" Bubby claimed, "I ate it," but we didn't really believe him. I said, "it's probably behind the couch--that's where he puts things." And that's when it dawned on me! Perhaps my poor lost slipper had somehow found its way into our family's own personal Bermuda triangle behind the couch...and that's where it was. The case of the missing fuzzy pink slipper has been solved!
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Our final applesauce counts are in: 32.5 quarts canned, 2.5 quarts frozen or consumed, and by Hubby's estimates, we've still got enough apples to make about 5 more quarts (I'm done, though, just in case you were wondering). Add that to the 10.5 quarts we have left over from last year, and you can see that we are well supplied with applesauce.

Apple rings! That's it, Sawblock! Apple rings! I will if you will...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bubby's birthday

Today is Bubby's 2nd birthday. Here's a picture of him celebrating with Aunt Chip, whose birthday is also in October (can you guess how old she is?)


And here's my 2-year-old, enjoying his gift from Uncle John this morning. Uncle John always gives the best gifts.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's that time again...

Guess what everyone's getting for Christmas this year.



That's right: applesauce for everyone! It's really yummy this year :-)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sisters

My sister in law made me laugh yesterday. She has discovered self-folding laundry. You see, if she just leaves the basket of clean, un-folded clothes in her bedroom, over time, the clothes magically disappear. She's certain they're folding themselves and putting themselves away. My laundry does this sometimes, too. I only wish it were just a little bit faster, but let's face it, folks, for inanimate objects, this is pretty good.

In an unrelated incident, my sister in law also made me cry yesterday. She made me cry in a good way--in a hug-from-God kind of way. I think part of the reason Chip and I are so close is because neither of us has a natural sister. What a blessing that God has given me two new sisters, my husband's sister, and my brother's wife, to laugh and cry with, to support and be supported by, to listen and grow and learn together. Chip and Buckwheat, I love you. This mommy stuff is hard, and I am so glad to have you by my side.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thes. 5:11

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cigarette Fund

For as long as I can remember, I've thought that since I don't smoke, have never smoked, and don't plan on starting, I should take the money that I would have spent on cigarettes and put it in a cigarette fund to use for vacations, or whatever, really. I saw recently that the brand names are up to over $5 a pack--that's $1825 for one year at a pack a day. More recently, I've thought I should take the money that I don't spend on fancy coffee and put that in my cigarette fund, too. Let's call that $4 each, 4 times a week: $832.

Over the past couple of years, I've fallen out of the habit of packing Hubby's lunch each day. I try, but there are so many other things to do that are more pressing, and unfortunately, because Hubby is an adult, his lunch usually falls to the bottom of my to-do list. And to be fair, there have been times when I have made his lunch, only to be told that he doesn't need one that day. You can see how that experience might weaken my lunch-packing motivation. So, this morning, as I was about to scoop some easy chicken and biscuit casserole into a smaller container for Hubby's lunch, I said to him, "now would be the time to tell me you don't need a lunch, if you don't need one."

He paused, poor guy. How do you respond to that potential mine-field of a wifely question? He decided to answer, "well, I could use a lunch today, but if you don't make one I can just go out." Good answer, don't you think? I said, "oh no, don't do that, because that would cost at least $5," as I scooped. And so, now I will be adding $5 to my cigarette fund every time I make my husband's lunch--I think this will do wonders for my motivation. Let's say, on average, Hubby needs a lunch 4 days a week*. He works around 49 weeks a year, so that's, potentially, $980 per year.

Are you doing the math? That's $3637 each year. That will do nicely for an annual spring break vacation to someplace warm...

*I figure 4 days a week is a fair estimate, because when Hubby was interviewing for this job, they told him it would be 10-15% travel, and 1 day gone a week would be 20% travel.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It is so disheartening, at the end of the day, to look around the house and realize all that I haven't gotten done*. Never mind all the things I did do (shower and dress, make my bed, wake the kids, make sure they bathe, find their snow gear, feed them, make sure they wear their snow gear, get them to the bus on time, with backpacks, get groceries, misc items and Bubby's fluoride prescription, attend story time, make lunch, change one set of sheets, play with Bubby, make 8 (count 'em: 8) casseroles to put in the freezer, plus one for dinner, sled with the boys, feed four people, supervise clean-up, help with homework while trying to keep the almost 2 year old from scribbling on papers or pushing older brothers out of their chairs, mediate not less than 10 arguments, read out loud a total of 45 minutes to three children, supervise bedtime routines, complete three loads of laundry, make cookies, wash dishes (by hand), empty dishwasher...oh, and I brushed my own teeth twice and Bubby's twice, too, and I flossed), as I headed into my bedroom last night to finally (finally) lay down my weary head, the computer's on-but-sleeping light peered at me accusingly. That's right. I didn't get to Quicken. *Sigh* I also didn't dust or vacuum or sweep or clean the windows, or the stove or the microwave. Double sigh.

A few weeks ago I found myself sitting in a waiting room, and not having to police Bubby, so I actually got to peruse a magazine. The cover of the October Woman's Day had a tagline that said something like, "clean your house in just 15 minutes a day." I can use all the advice I can get on streamlining the cleaning process, so right away I turned to the article. Online, the one article is broken up into two, but here's the link to the part I'm talking about.

All right, so basically, the idea here is (and it's shocking in its innovation): once your house is clean, keep it clean and then it won't take so long to clean the next time. I know. Who would have thought of that? So here's what we're supposed to be doing in those 15 minutes:

Step 1: Make the beds.
OK, if I make all the beds in the house, that's going to pretty much take up the whole 15 minutes right there. If I actually change the sheets, we're looking at more like half an hour, but OK, let's assume I'm just making my bed, because no one cares what the kids' beds look like (and they're supposed to be making their own beds, right?).


Step 2: Make sure dirty clothes are all in hampers. Do a quick room-by-room pickup, putting items back in place.
I don't know about you, but dirty clothes aren't really that much of an issue around here, however "putting items back in place" is another story. On a good day (as in, everyone's been gone all day, including me), I'd be able to fit that in. On days like yesterday, that's at least a 4 person, half-hour long process, with additional minutes put in by me after the little darlings are in bed and can no longer mess anything else up.

Step 3: Wipe dirty counters in the bathroom and kitchen.
Step 4: Put away all dishes.
Step 5: Sweep the kitchen floor.

In what universe is it possible to get all that done in just 15 minutes? I think that my mother in law would be able to do it (probably does), but not me (it occurs to me that with a magic "Step 6: everyone in the household cleans up their own messes," this could work).

So disappointing. I really thought that my life was going to be infinitely improved by reading this article. But, it doesn't stop there! There is also a weekly clean sweep: "either set aside a 2- to 3-hour chunk of time, or work in 15-minute increments throughout the week." So now we've almost tripled our 15 minutes a day to include our weekly clean sweep. And that is not all, oh no! Next we have 8 jobs to tackle monthly: "pick a Saturday to do all eight, or add two to each weekly session," followed by a year of "biggies," 12 annual chores, one for each month. Are you doing the math? This is WAY more than 15 minutes a day, in fact, it's shaping up to be almost a full-time job. And did you notice that nowhere in the article did they mention washing the dishes or doing the laundry?

So I'm a little disappointed in the article. It seems a bit like false advertising--it certainly gave me false hope. Nope. Nothing comes for free, and you cannot expect to be able to clean your house in just 15 minutes a day (unless you're Beaver-ly :-). The thing that I hate about housework is that it is literally never-ending, and oh-so-temporary. At no point in my life will I be able to say, "there, now that's done." Oh, I know that some day the children will be up and out, and then maybe I'll be able to do the 15 minute a day routine, too (and maybe the house will even stay clean for longer than 5 minutes), but I will never be finished. Until I'm dead. *Sigh*

P.S. Some of you may be thinking, well Scarlet, if you spent a little less time blogging, you would have more time for cleaning. And that's true, but then how would you all know what's going on around here? And blogging is a little less temporal than cleaning, especially around here.

*I feel a real kin-ship to Sawblock as I type this--I know he knows this feeling, well!

Monday, October 12, 2009

This is so wrong!











12

October 12, NOT 11. Oh, my brain!

Accumulation, Batman Returns, and Contagious

I am SO not ready for today to be the second accumulating snowfall of the winter. Oops. I guess it's still fall. Honestly, folks, it's October 11. There is about 2 inches of white stuff on the ground. My brain tells me that these two things oughta be mutually exclusive. The boys wore snowpants to school today, for goodness sake. Two weeks ago it was 80 degrees. And I love snow, I really do, but I'm just not ready!
. . . . . . . . . .
Batman showed up at our house again on Saturday! I'm telling you, he must reverse-migrate or something. He tried to fool me by wearing a TMNT costume, but I could tell it was him by the cape and the mask. I wish I had had the camera so I could snap a picture to prove it to y'all. He showed up later in the day, too, and it seemed as if he had shrunk. I think my brother mentioned this bat-phenomenon in his blog, but I didn't believe it until I saw it myself. It's true--Batman was less than 3 feet tall the second time I saw him (and so darn cute!). Maybe he diminishes in size when he uses his bat-powers and grows again when he gets some rest.
. . . . . . . .
So our church has a new "motivating vision." I'll just pause so you can digest that a minute.


Our motivating vision is: "Share the joy, live the faith, be the hope." Do you feel motivated now? I kinda do. Yesterday Ruth Ann preached about sharing the joy, and one of the things she said was that Christianity should be contagious. She said that when someone has the flu, there are clear symptoms--you can tell that person has the flu. And she said that the clear symptom of Christ-following is living the joy. That people should see us living in joy, realize that there's something different about us, and want to get some of that. And I agree. It definitely should be that way, but when was the last time you diagnosed someone as a Christian based on their symptoms? To tell the truth, I have met exactly one person in my life in whom I've seen that kind of joy.


I've given some thought to this over the years. You know the song that goes, "they will know we are Christians by our love." I've always thought that song meant it ought to be really obvious who the Christians are because we're showing all this love all the time. But it's not. There are so many loving, generous, kind people in the world, who do not profess Christ. And there are many who claim Christ and are hateful, stingy, greedy, and cruel. I know that I can't be perfect, but it disappoints me that no one call tell that I follow Jesus from the outside. And if I really want to be contagious, if I want people "catch" Christ from me, that special something needs to be crystal clear. It is one of my deepest desires to have someone tell me "there's something different about you. No, in a good way."


Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Indoctrination

Isn't this a cute outfit that Bubby is wearing today? I like it because it's super soft and seems warm and cozy for this drizzly dismal day. I thought Bubby would like it because of the bulldozer on it, but he wasn't so sure he wanted to put it on this morning, so I was trying to encourage him by saying, "do you want to put it on and show [Code-man]?" No, but he did want to show Logo (for some reason Logo is Bubby's favorite brother. Sometimes I wonder if it's because he learned Logo's name first. Or I suppose he could have learned Logo's name first because he likes him better). So we put on the bulldozer outfit, and went to show Logo. Logo loved it, but not because of the bulldozer or the coziness factor. Can you guess why? That's right: because "those are Michigan colors." Grandpa B, congratulations: you have thoroughly indoctrinated our children.

I am listening to Todd Agnew's "Grace Like Rain" right now. I love that song, and it is especially warm and fuzzy to listen to after what seems like days and days of non-stop rain: a very welcome reminder that God loves me and rains grace down on me to wash me clean each day.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I'm found
Was blind but now I see so clearly

Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, they're washed away

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, are washed away

When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We've no less days to sing Your praise
Than when we first begun

Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away

Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, they're washed away

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, they're washed away

Monday, September 28, 2009

Body surfing

video

I think this was the middle of three videos I took of Code-man body surfing a couple of weekends ago. Toward the end you can hear me wondering if they were going to make him get off the surf or if they would just let him keep going indefinitely. He was very good, much better than the average surfers that day. Later on, he got up on his knees, and I'm sure he would have done great standing, too, if they would have let him.

Little slugger

video

It appears that Bubby is a natural athlete. He is a fast runner, a great jumper, has quite a throwing arm, a strong kick, and well, you can see how good he is at batting. Now if only we could convince him to hold the bat by the other end :-)

Little helper

video

Logo paddling

video

Here's Logo paddling the kayak...and some other people, doing other stuff.

How to catch a tadpole

video

Long overdue, this video was taken during our July trip to Gooseberry Falls State Park. Catching tadpoles in the pools on the rocky shore of Lake Superior is one of our favorite things to do there.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rough

There's a golf course fairly close to our house, and as I drove past it today, I realized that there is a patch of corn planted on the golf course! Now that's what I call a hazard. Imagine trying to even find you ball in there, much less trying to drive it out!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Prodigal

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, "Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!"
Luke 15:28-30

Have you ever felt like the non-prodigal son? Like you're the one who has always done what you're supposed to do, plugging away, and you're not appreciated? You're the good child, the constant, the taken-for-granted one. I have. Not that I'm necessarily the good child in my family (not by a long shot), but just in life. It doesn't seem fair that the father would throw a party for the son who disrespected him and left the family, squandered his property in wild living and comes crawling back in disgrace. I've always thought the father should make him live as a servant for a while: make good and sure he's learned his lesson. But,

"My son," the father said, "you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."
Luke 15:31-32

The implication here is that we good children already have and enjoy God's good gifts. Every day. The prodigals among us, however, are living apart from God, and as such, are as good as dead--who wouldn't celebrate if their lost child returned to them? We should celebrate, too, when our lost brother or sister is found. And God certainly rejoices over us non-prodigals, too. Just because we've never been lost, doesn't mean that God doesn't love us as much. Through the years I've come to the realization that just because the distribution of God's gifts seems unfair, that in no way diminishes the gift I've received. Because guess what, friends? We all have been lost: through sin we've been separated from our heavenly father. Some of us have been more lost than others, but the fact remains that we have all been lost, and have all received God's grace and forgiveness. And I, for one, am extremely thankful that God doesn't give me what I deserve.

This realization has come in handy for me, because, after all, life isn't fair. Not even close. But knowing that I, too, have been given grace beyond fathom, immeasurable, infinite grace, makes that inherent unfairness easier to accept. After all, infinity times 2 or 10 or 1000 is still infinity (love you, Chip :-).

This week, I've taken this realization a step farther, for better or for worse. My life is difficult at times. My husband loves me (again, beyond what I deserve), but his job takes him on the road often: right now, more often than usual, and I end up feeling a lot like a single parent. I'm outnumbered by little people and shouldering the majority of the responsibility for caring for our children and our household, with few breaks, and this is not what I signed on for. I want and need my husband's support and assistance and presence. But every time I start to feel that way, my brain tells me that I shouldn't, because there are others who are in even more difficult situations than me. Like my mom, who spent 6 months at a time, more than once, with her husband, my dad, away and unreachable, as she cared for my brother and me at home. Or women who really are single moms. Or women who are homeless and trying to care for their children. And unfortunately, thinking that way doesn't make me feel one bit better, just guilty.

But this week, I've come to realize that it works both ways. Just because there are others who are in more dire situations than mine does not diminish my feelings in any way. Yup, there are other people who've got it worse than me, but that doesn't make my situation any easier. In short, I've given myself permission to say, yes, this is hard. Yes, this isn't what I signed on for, but I am a strong woman, and I will do what needs to be done, through Christ, who strengthens me. Much better than wallowing in self-pity compounded by guilt.

Let me be clear: I am not writing this to make my husband feel guilty or look bad. He works hard because he loves us, and this is what he needs to do to support us financially. His travel is as much of a sacrifice for him as it is for us, because he wants to be with us just as much as we want him to be here. As much as I fantasize about being able to be the one to "escape" through business trips, I'm sure my husband fantasizes about being able to stay home, as I am privileged to do.

Here's how Jesus put it, though the words of the owner of the vineyard in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, "Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?"
(Matthew 20:13b-15)

Geocache treasure

Code-man and Logo went geocaching yesterday. Look what they found!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Hungry

The church closest to our kids' elementary school has a backpack grocery program. It's meant to bridge the weekend food gap for those families whose children receive free or reduced price school lunches, but basically, anyone who wants it can sign up to get a backpack full of groceries for their child to bring home from school on Fridays. Whenever our principal sends home the form to sign up for the program, many families ask how they can help, so the church forwarded a meal list with needed food items.

Tuna helper is on sale this week, and I didn't have much on our family's grocery list*, so I decided to buy all of the items for two Meal #2s. It doesn't sound like much, and it isn't much: 1 lg box muffin mix, 2 cans tuna, 1 box tuna helper, 1 jar squeeze mayo, 1 sm. box Bisquick, 1 can pears. The items don't even fill the bottom of one paper grocery bag. I cannot imagine being in the situation where Meal #2 would be all the food I have for my family for a weekend. I cannot believe that there are families going to my kids' school, living in our neighborhood, so to speak, who are in this very situation. There is something so wrong with that.

We have so much more than we need, so much more than we deserve. Granted, my hubby works hard to provide for us, we live within our means (after all, my twin mottoes are "why buy new when used will do?" and "why pay full price if you don't have to? And let me give you a hint, you hardly ever have to"), and have built up savings over the years. But for most in our country, the best country in the world, it wouldn't take much to push them into a downward financial spiral. For many, it's already happened.


*Our family's grocery list didn't have much on it this week because we've been eating from our freezer. We've been eating from our freezer because Hubby has been working out of town a lot. In fact, I need to get geared up to start filling the freezer again, but since he's gone again this week, and next week, and the week after, I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to actually cook again, so that I can double or triple the recipes to freeze some.

Friday, September 11, 2009

You lie!

In case you missed it, someone called President Obama a liar in his address to the nation on Wednesday evening. I missed it. We had planned to watch Wipeout, but it was preempted for the president's speech, so the children decided to watch Qubo. The president is much too boring for them. I had to smile when I heard about it, not because I think it was a good idea for a member of congress to call our president a liar, but because it reminded me of my sister in law.

Once upon a time, we were visiting my brother and his family in Colorado. My parents must have been there, too, because the four of us, my brother, his wife, my husband, and me, were out and about on a date without children. There was a restaurant that we wanted to go to. I'm a little vague on the details, but I think that it kind of looked to us like people were waiting for tables, when we could see with our very own eyes that there were several open tables in the outdoor seating area. My sister in law was all set to demand that we be given one of the outside tables if they tried to make us wait. She was so geared up, that at first she didn't quite catch that yes, they were going to seat us right away. I guess you had to be there. Anyway, whenever I hear the phrase "you lie!" I think of my sister in law. Hmmmm...I wonder how she feels about that.

I must admit, when I heard that PO was going to be addressing my children Tuesday during school hours, my first response was, like many, I don't want that man spouting his socialist agenda to my children during school hours. It's not that I don't want my boys to hear him speak, but I want to be there to interpret his words with them. It's kind of like letting them watch a PG film--I need to be there. And I definitely consider PO to be a Parental Guidance kind of show. Not to mention that it appears, at least to me, that there is already a liberal bias present in our public schools. I distinctly remember being in 7th grade and thinking that communism sounded like a great idea, because that's how it was presented to me. And in theory, it is a great idea. In fact, that's how Jesus' followers lived. Everyone used their gifts to provide for the group and everyone shared what they had. In modern practice, we have seen how such a wonderful idea can and will be distorted into something horrible. And it will always fail, because we are humans: we are sinful, imperfect.

PO seems to be a very idealistic man. He appears to love this country and I believe that he believes that he's doing his best to do the right thing for our country. But I don't understand how he can think that socialism is the best way to run our nation. I don't understand how he can't see that all of his lofty plans and schemes will fail because there will always be people who are not willing to work within his systems. Not everyone is honorable. Not everyone is willing to work for the common good. In fact, most people are not willing to work for the common good if it means that they have to sacrifice. And there are always unintended consequences.

I do not, however, have a better solution, other than to let the market self-correct, which is also a great idea, in theory, but there are so many in our nation who fall between the cracks. Who can't afford health care, who live paycheck to paycheck, who sometimes need to decide between buying food or buying gas, who live in their cars. And while we could argue that for a good portion of them, it's their own darn fault, I really don't think it matters who is at fault. The fact is, there are people who are hurting and there are others who have more than they need. How can we ignore the fact that there are people dying in our country, in our world, because they do not have enough? See, I really am a socialist at heart; I'm not against redistribution of wealth, I just don't think that the government should be doing it.

Which brings me back to "you lie!" It is not my job to judge. Thank God, it's not my job to judge. It is my job to show Christ to the world, and the way I do that is to love. When someone needs help, I am called to help them, regardless of why they have found themselves in the position to need help. We all need help. We all fall short of God's plans for us. I choose to believe the best of everyone I meet, because God sees the best in each of us.

I know! That baby needs a haircut! We recently received a bunch of packing peanuts--I saved them and put them in a larger box for Bubby to play with. He is just too cute for words, sometimes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Supper tomorrow

OK, so what am I supposed to do with this? Hubby's out of town, and I actually made supper tonight. I know! That's so out of character for me, but for some reason after school isn't as frantic this year as it was last year--at least, not yet. Anyway, Code-man asked what we were having for dinner, and I told him, and he went, "uuhh." I'm not really sure how to spell that whiney oh-man-I-wish-it-was-a-different-answer sound. However it's spelled, it's very disheartening for a mommy to hear. Then he asked what we were having for dinner tomorrow. I told him I didn't know, but that it would be something from the freezer. Did he have any preference? "Can we have cereal?" he asked me.

I told you once before that it was a source of extreme mommy-guilt for me that I have, in the past, served cereal to my children for dinner three nights in a row because my husband was out of town and I didn't have the time or energy to cook. But what do I do when they're asking for it?

By the way, after asking for seconds of the casserole I prepared for supper tonight, Code-man said, "I like this. We should have it more often. Why don't we have this more often?"

I can see the future...

Five years from now, I'll be the only one left in the canoe. All of my boys will be strung out behind me in their kayaks. Oh, maybe I'll be able to get Hubby to take pity on me and tow me instead of the other way around, but it's going to be awfully lonely in there. On the other hand, I will have plenty of room to spread out.
We went boating on the St. Croix River this weekend. We had various combinations of people in each boat at different times, but for most of the time ended up with Hubby and Logo trying to paddle the canoe (mostly Hubby because Logo was tired) into a headwind, while I held a screaming, and then finally, sleeping, Bubby, and Cody was being towed (also paddling, but sometimes resting, and usually just as I had to put down my paddle and the wind hit us again) in the kayak. Just as an aside, when Logo was Bubby's age, he had no problem sleeping in the front/bottom of the canoe, but Bubby will not. He screams for quite a while if I try to put him down, and I know that most of you have never tried to paddle a canoe while holding a sleeping kid--not easy. I kept thinking, "This is supposed to be fun?" But it really was fun, and it didn't kill us, so I guess it made us stronger.

Here's a picture of Bubby and Hubby--doesn't Bubby look all grown up sitting in the middle seat all by himself? We discovered that our Tonka loader works great as a snack receptacle.Here are Code-man and Logo in the kayak. Logo did some kayak paddling this trip, and he did a good job, for his first time (and for being only 6 years old).We stopped for lunch just past this turn-y railroad bridge (it doesn't turn anymore, but it does railroad). We had been there for, oh, about 2 minutes before we heard a train approaching. Logo spent some time playing with this frog. I don't understand that kid. Butterflies scare him, but he has absolutely no problem pursuing and capturing frogs and other slimy and/or creepy things.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Here is a picture of Code-man and Logo on their first day of school. If you don't know which way our house faces, you can't even tell that it was taken at the end of the school day instead of the beginning. Whew! Tragedy averted. I'm not sure about Logo's teacher. She sent home a form letter, telling us how his first day of school went (which I was very happy about, since Logo immediately forgets everything he did in school the minute he gets on the school bus to come home). There are five complete sentences in the note, and it includes 22 exclamation points. This seems a bit excessive to me, but perhaps she was merely expressing her enthusiasm for a new school year. Yes, she is one of those teachers who is just so happy to be a teacher...not an all bad thing.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The First Day of School

I am such a loser mom, forgetting to take pictures of my children on their first day of school! Don't worry--the camera is now hanging on the door knob, where I will hopefully see it and remember to take pictures this afternoon. That's a long time from now, though...

In the meantime here are some cute non-first-day-of-school pictures:

Bubby wearing his "diaper hat"

Pack 168's newest Tiger Cub

Luke, Code-man, Bubby, Ua, and Logo (MC)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back to School Shopping

The boys and I went back to school shopping the other day at our favorite clothing store--the Bluefield Boutique. It's always kind of fun to go shopping there, because I never know what I'm going to find, especially since I can't keep it all in my head any more. I'm sure there must be others in the world who shop this way, scooping things up on clearance or used, and storing them until they fit, but when my sister mentioned going back to school shopping for her boys, it just struck me as odd that I don't back to school shop in the traditional way. Am I warping my children forever by denying them the full back to school shopping experience?

Now, of course, we're faced with the problem we have every year--lack of drawer space for pants and shorts, since it's that transition time when we need to have both available. Not to worry, though. We do have another dresser that we're refinishing, that will probably be done just in time for Bubby to move his clothes into it when he moves into his big boy bedroom (oh, right, that won't solve the Code-man and Logo dresser space issue).

I feel so unprepared for school to start this year. I'm sure it's a function of my brain being too full with accumulated stuff that I have no room for a "get ready for school to start" compartment. My efforts at preparation have so far seemed disjointed and disorganized. It's not even that I feel emotionally unready--I just feel like there's something important that I'm missing, that I still need to get or prepare. And then I think, oh well, it's not the end of the world if I really am missing something. It's not like they're going to kick our kids out of school for not having the right color folder on the first day. And that just makes me feel worse, because I'm the mom and I am supposed to be prepared! And really, people, tell me: how hard is it to get ready for school to start? Not very. I know moms who can do it with two hands tied behind their backs (maybe not their own hands...)

Even though I know that I'm far from perfect, can never be perfect, for some reason I still strive for that perfection. This is such a terrific example of how we women always, always have higher expectations for ourselves than anyone else in our lives does: how we set standards for ourselves that are impossible to achieve. And it makes me so mad that I am unable to give myself the grace to rest and say, good enough. Good enough.

Well, at least the kids have pants :-)

"And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good."
Genesis 1:31a

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Brownie mix recipes

I get in ruts in my cooking--previously, I mentioned a Mexican tendency in my blog--right now, it's cooking with brownie mixes. A delicious rut to be in. Following are a couple of recipes that I've tried in the past week or so.

S'more Brownies
I made this recipe for Code-man's back to school party because we weren't sure if we were going to be able to have a bonfire. Yummy! I think they were even better on day 2, because the graham crackers had a chance to mellow out and become one with the brownie.

1 (21.5 oz) package brownie mix
6 graham crackers, broken into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 c. mini marshmallows
8 (1.5 oz) bars milk chocolate, coarsely chopped (12 oz milk chocolate chips would work, too, and would be less expensive)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions (or make your favorite "from scratch" brownie recipe (for a 9x13" pan). Spread into a greased 9x13 inch pan.

Bake brownies until done, 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate evenly on top of the brownies, then place them under the broiler for about 5 minutes until the marshmallows are slightly toasted and the chocolate is melty. Watch carefully, as the mallows and grahams can burn quickly.


Brownie Mix Cookies
I made these because I had wanted to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (sometimes my favorite), but we were out of something. I bought the something and then we were out of something else. I bought the something else and then we were out of something else again (and I did check each time before I bought--other people were using the stuff up)--this whole ordeal took about 2 weeks. I finally gave up and decided to make cookies that I did have the ingredients for.

1 brownie mix (9x13" pan size)
2 eggs
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
1 c. walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 c. milk chocolate M&Ms candies (optional)

Mix brownie mix, eggs, vegetable oil and any add-ins until smooth. Drop by teaspoon-fulls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until done.

Enjoy!
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