Thursday, May 28, 2009

When bad things happen

One of the major themes in Wm. Paul Young's book The Shack is the question of why bad things happen to good people, or perhaps better put: why God allows bad things to happen. My understanding of this is that bad things happen because our world is broken. God gave us free will, to make our own choices, because God didn't want a bunch of puppet people to be his children. God wanted to have a relationship with each one of us, but more important than just the relationship, he wanted us to choose to be in relationship with him. Because free will has been given to everyone, bad people also can choose to do as they please. And so bad things happen. Because our world is broken, we have crime and disease and famine and war.

The question that kept running through my head as I read the book was not why does God allow bad things to happen, but how does God decide when to intervene? Because there are some children who get cancer and live and others who die. Does God love the ones who died less? Some people are in terrible auto accidents and walk away without a scratch and others are in much less serious accidents and die.

Today would have been my younger brother's 23rd birthday. He died suddenly and unexpectedly when he was 15 years old. And I was mad at God for a while. You see, when someone dies of a disease, you can blame the disease. When someone dies from a drug overdose or a drive by shooting or a car accident, there is a logical place to assign blame. But when a seemingly healthy 15 year old athlete dies of "natural causes" the only entity to blame is God. Why did you even send him to us, I screamed at God, if you were only going to take him away so soon, too soon? And I still don't know. Almost eight years later, I am thankful for the time we did get to spend with Jeremy. I think our lives are richer because he was with us for a time.

I remember the day my brother was born. My mom had been scheduled to go in for labor induction that day, so when my older brother and I woke up to find our mom and dad gone, we weren't surprised. We set about getting ready for school, and then the phone rang: my dad, telling us that we had a younger brother. We were so excited, we actually danced around the room, no kidding. Jeremy started kindergarten the year I started college, so after that I didn't spend much time with him. I really wish that we had had the chance to get to know him as an adult. I wonder where he would be, what he would be doing now, what could have been.

I don't know how God chooses when or if to intervene in our choices, our situations. But I do know this: God is love. Everything that God does or does not do comes from a place of complete, utter, unconditional, amazing love.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Garden update

So I know you've all been waiting with bated breath to hear how the garden plot is doing. Right now some of everything is up! The green beans are doing really well, which leads to my dilemma. You're supposed to plant them 3 inches apart and after they're about 2 inches tall, thin them to 6 inches apart. I don't know if I can bear to do that, though! Who am I to choose which bean plant should live and which bean plant should die? And I know that if I thin them, the ones that are left will be stronger because of it, but I still don't know if I can do it. I'll be thinking about what could have been...

It kind of reminds me of selective reduction in higher multiple pregnancies. A couple of years ago, there was a couple with sextuplets (I think) in this area, and when the babies were born, there was a huge firestorm of public outrage that the parents chose to continue the pregnancy with all the babies rather than to kill some of them in utero. The last I heard, five of them had died--I never heard if the sixth one lived or not, but I remember thinking that there was no way I could have done that either. Even though if they had reduced down to 3 babies, those three would have had better chances at surviving...

Anyway, I know that bean plants aren't quite the same as babies, but that's the way my brain works. I'm wondering if I should have planted more corn, since if the ones that are currently up are going to be it, I don't know if we've got enough for pollenization. I guess I'll just have to go out there with my paintbrush, pretend to be Mendel, and pollenate them myself. Only one green pepper plant survived, but there are around 5 tomato plants, the zucchinis look like they will do well (as if there was any doubt that the easiest to grow vegetable in the world would not do well), the pumpkins and watermelons are up, and we've got sunflowers and zinnias up for sure. I'm not sure about the cosmos, because I don't know what those are supposed to look like. The marigolds that I planted in our window boxes are doing well, and the lettuce I planted in a big pot seems to be sprouting (those of you who get the Kraft Food & Family magazine--I planted the seeds that were embedded in that paper on the back cover).

We also have quite a few weeds thriving. It's kind of hard to control them, because I can't really go in there to weed while I'm taking care of Bubby, and when Hubby's home, he's busy doing other things. So anyway, that's exciting news about the garden, right?

Guess what my children did yesterday. Go ahead, guess.

Well, within 5 seconds of each other, and within 30 seconds of when supper was to be ready, Bubby threw and broke a glass candle holder (my favorite one, by the way), and Code-man dropped and broke a drinking glass. And everybody was in the kitchen and nobody had shoes on. On the other hand, the MC scored two goals during his soccer game last night, and almost scored two more. His coach last night did a terrific job: he had 7 kids playing 3 v 3 and each time a new player came in, he would have them change the color of their jersey, so they were really all just playing together.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Surf 2

Here's Sawblock...they both said it was fun, but to me it just looks like a lot of work.

video

I forgot to add in Cody's that it's a little choppy because I was videoing from the canoe. After we left that place, we passed some people camping on the river bank, and one guy called out, "that little kid can kayak all by himself?" And then asked Code-man how old he is. I guess I never really thought about it before, but Code-man is the youngest kayaker I've ever seen, too!

Surf

video

And now that Code-man has had his first taste of surfing in the kayak, this is all he's going to want to do...Sawblock let Code-man go twice, 'cause he (Sawblock) wanted to surf in the canoe.

Look what I can do!

video

Logo said, "show this to Grandma and Grandpa." So here you go, G&Gs.

Jump!


video

All Code-man wants to do when we go canoeing on the St. Croix is look for trees to jump from.

No training wheels

Logo is a great biker--he just needed to be in a flatter place for him to realize it.
video

Gotta love that tongue!

Gettin' some air


video

Code-man is now confident enough in his jumping skill to let me take pictures

Paddling

Some pictures from the weekend:

Would you?

I have to blog while Hubby's out of town so he knows what's going on around here...

We went up north for Memorial Day weekend--that's what people do around here. And on the way, I noticed a billboard that said, "If you could improve a life, would you?" As we got closer, I saw that it was an ad for the Shriner's Hospital, but that doesn't really matter. You know, my immediate reaction was, sure! I mean who, besides a narcissist or sociopath, wouldn't? But how often are we given the opportunity to improve a life and we decline? I think we think that we have to do something huge to improve a life, but honestly, for me, sometimes all it takes to give me a lift is kindness from a stranger: a smile or kind word, or someone standing a few extra seconds by the door to hold it open for me and my stroller. Sometimes it's a letter in the mailbox, or an email at the right time. And each day that I have a positive outlook improves my life.

My point is, you never know what the ripple effects of your actions will be. Each moment of the day, you could potentially improve a life, or, on the flip side, degrade a life. So I think we should be aware of those opportunities and seize them, always.
I think that the most important lives I need to be improving are those of my children. So often, I get caught up in what they're doing wrong, rather than noticing when they do things right. I've heard that it takes someone saying seven (seven!) positive things to a person to off-set just one negative comment. Our jobs as parents are to raise our children to independence--a big part of that is teaching them how to behave in the world, and so much of that teaching seems to be negative. It's so hard to balance the correction, which we know they need, with the unconditional love and praise that we also know they need. I really, really don't want my kids to grow up thinking that they can do nothing right. I guess the key is, though, to always correct from a place of love rather than anger. Unfortunately, I'm not God, so that's often difficult for me. But who else in this world has as much of a vested interest in my children feeling loved and appreciated and accepted than me? Who else is going to do that, but me?


Now, obviously that sign was an appeal for us to send money, not necessarily an appeal for us to be nice to each other, and that's a big thing, too. Money. There was an article in our paper recently about giving, saying that the poorest 1/5 of Americans give away the highest percentage of their incomes. One of those poorest people said something interesting. He said that poor people give more money away because they are less worried about money. Isn't that crazy? Well, not really. Remember when Jesus said (talking about money) that man cannot serve two masters? The more money we have, the more concerned we are about losing it--money becomes, to many of us, an idol--our source of comfort and security. For where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also, and all that. We say we can't afford to give to every cause that comes along asking for money, but look at us! We are so prosperous. We are so blessed, with so much more than we need, and we can't afford to give a little bit away?

I say again, you never know what the ripple effects of your actions will be, what effect your little gift of surplus will have on someone's life, but when we are presented with those opportunities, our answer should always be a big, resounding yes! I will improve a life.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Business trip

Bubby decided that he wants to go with Daddy on his business trip to California and Colorado next week! He had to take out most of Daddy's clothes so that he would fit...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Introducing...

Introducing the newest addition to our household:"Red"
350 lbs, 48"
delivered Wednesday
. . . . . . . . . . .
So last weekend, while Luke was being born, my mom was celebrating the xxth anniversary of her 19th birthday, and the tractor was blowing out its engine (oh, right, that was the weekend before that), Hubby and Code-man were at Cub Scout camp. Code-man was being promoted to 1st year webelos (which stands for "WE BE LOyal Scouts), and Hubby (aka Sawblock) was having his inaugural camp-out as Cubmaster.

Here's a picture of the group at the chapel. Code-man is third from the left in the (sort of) first row.

And here is Bubby contemplating a tulip:

And showing off his rain boots.

Wednesday, Hubby had to visit a vendor about a two hour drive from here, and decided that he needed a driver, so he took Bubby and me along. After we returned, Hubby asked Bubby how the business trip was...

It was a real bear (or doggy, as Bubby would say)... About 12 miles south of the vendor's offices, there is a little zoo. This is Ms. Grizzly, giving us a look before resuming her lunch. It was hot, so she had just taken a dip in her little pool.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Introducing...

Introducing our new nephew, Luke, born Saturday:Just in case you're keeping score, that's 5 grandsons for my parents and 5 grandsons for my husband's parents...no granddaughters. I hear that mom, dad, Luke and big brother are all doing well.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Especially Fond

My small group at church is currently reading and discussing Wm. Paul Young's book The Shack. There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding this book, and I can understand why: it pretty much turns on its head everything you thought you understood about God. For many of the members of my group, this book puts into words some of the things we've been feeling in our souls, but could never quite voice, and never quite reconcile with the teachings of organized religion. It has definitely given all of us lots to think about.

One of my favorite parts of the book is something that Papa, the author's personification of God the Creator, says over and over: "I am especially fond of that child." She says it about everyone, each person, even those who have done unspeakable things, and each time I read that phrase, it's like getting a little hug from God. She says it as a loving mother or father would say about each of their children, loving them in spite of their mistakes. So my message to you today is that God, creator of the universe, is especially fond of you. Especially fond.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

OMG

That's oh my goodness, for those of you who didn't know. I have come to the somewhat appalling realization that Logo, my middle child, has exactly one pair of casual pants that doesn't have any holes or patches. To make things worse, 50% of his dress pants have a hole in them. That's right, folks, he has 2 pairs of pants that are whole. He had to wear shorts today, with a bus stop temp of 44, and a much colder wind chill, because I've been taking the holey pants out of rotation in preparation for re-patching. This is evidently a fairly common problem, since I have yet to talk to a mom of any boy aged about 6 to 10 who doesn't comment on how difficult it is to keep their son in pants. I find myself wondering what other moms do, since I don't think I've ever seen patches on any other kids around here. Do they throw the holey pants away and buy new ones? Yikes.

The good news is, Goodwill has redeemed itself, at least in part. I went there today looking for a scooter and scoping out the helmets for Code-man (who has decided that he needs a snowmobile helmet to bike in), and discovered Toddler Thursday, on which all children's clothing and toys are 50% off. So those $5 jeans were $2.50, and that spring jacket was $3.50. Much better. The bad news is, no boys' size 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 pants anywhere in the place...there was another mom there looking for size 8 jeans, too, and she even commented on the scarcity of used pants in that size range.

Poor Bubby. All that's going to be left when he gets that big will be rags...

And I am pleased to announce that Code-man scored his first goal of the soccer season last night. Way to go, Code-man!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Faith

So eight days ago, I put these dead looking things into the ground and started spraying the ground with water daily, thinking, believing, that something green would grow. And every day, I stare at that ugly bare patch of ground, and think, "when?" And I find my belief wavering. As each day passes and no new life emerges (or, rather, the only new life emerging is stuff I didn't put there and don't want there), I begin to think, maybe it won't grow. Maybe it was too much to believe that I could put this dead thing in the ground and have new life spring from it. Mind you, it's only been eight days; I'm a little ashamed that my faith would fade so fast.

On Friday, Bubby and I were in the garden enclosure. I wanted to pull out the grass plants that were the only green that I could see in there, and take a closer look to see if I was missing something. Bubby started digging in one of my pumpkin mounds. I was a little upset. I told him, how can anything grow in there if you're digging it up? So we left the rest of the weeds where they were, and I moved on to the hose portion of my day. As I was spraying, I noticed pumpkin seeds peeking out of the area in which Bubby had been digging. See, I told him, they're not going to grow if they're not underground. So I went back in to cover up the seeds (leaving Bubby on the outside, which he started protesting vigorously). And as I was covering up my little pumpkin seeds, I noticed little green sprouts growing out of them. And that, just that little bit of growth, was enough to remind me of my hopes and inspire me to believe again.

How many times in your life have you waited, and waited, and waited, wondering "when?" My answer to you is, just a little longer. How many times have you felt your faith waver? My answer is wait. And watch. And listen.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:14
Last week Logo and Code man had their first soccer games of the season. The U5/U6 (I'm still a little confused as to why my 6 year old is considered to be under 6, but I think it has to do with the fact that this the spring league) program has gone to a scramble format, so they don't have teams, each week they're divided up into groups of about 10 kids and sent to a field with a coach. All of the coaches are supposed to be doing the same drills and teaching the same skills each week and then after about half an hour of practice, the kids play 3 v 3.I heard that there were a lot of parents complaining about the new format before we even started. I was a little concerned about the coaches not getting to know the kids' names, and wondering how it was all going to work, but after one week I think it's terrific. All of the pressure to perform is off, for both the coaches and the kids. Since their team changes each week, they never get a chance to realize that one player is not as good as the others, and we parents don't have to worry that our coach isn't as good as the other coaches, because we'll have a new one next week. We're not supposed to keep score, but of course everyone does (those who can keep the numbers in their heads, that is), and we keep a running tally of wins and losses, even though we say it doesn't really matter. Now, it truely doesn't matter.

Code man is finally on a team on which he knows a couple of the kids...had to happen sooner or later, I guess.He really enjoys playing soccer, and I enjoy seeing him enjoying himself. It's a little hard to control my coaching from the sidelines, but one game at a time, eh? His team has 12 players and in his age group (U10--yes, the not yet 9 year old is under 10, but the 6 year old is under 6) they play 6 v 6, so the coach was subbing everybody out at one time, whether they needed it or not. I thought he was subbing a little too frequently, then I realized that he must be used to hockey, where they sub every 60 seconds or so. He's a likeable guy, so I won't hold that hockey thing against him :-) He said his goal was to not get yelled at by the ref.
And how could I not post this pic of my little man, Bubby?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009

Caution

I threw caution, and a few zinnia seeds, to the wind on Saturday and planted my small garden area. The caution was thrown on purpose, with deliberate forethought; the zinnia seeds are so light they accidentally blew away. It struck me, on Saturday, how much faith is needed to plant a garden. I mean, the seeds look dead. Those sweet corn seeds were all shriveled up and yucky looking, and here I am, putting them in the ground, giving them water, and, later on during the summer, some food, and expecting this little dry dead thing to grow into something I can eat. Am I crazy, or what? Nope, just faith and hope-filled, and itching to stretch my in-God's-image-ness by participating in the process of making something grow.

It was a beautiful weekend for the Wisconsin fishing opener. Sunny and warm. A little windy, but not too bad. Here's a picture of the boys with their catch from Saturday.On Sunday, Bubby and I decided we were going to go with them. It's getting a little crowded in our canoe. I can just see us, in a few years, driving down the road with two kayaks and a canoe on top of our truck. Scratch that. Two kayaks and a canoe on a trailer behind the truck.

I am happy to report that Bubby did much better in the canoe this time than he did last year. I think it helped that the life jacket wasn't quite as cumbersome now that he's a little bigger.

Here's a picture of Hubby with his first catch of Sunday.And here's a close-up, just in case you can't tell what species of fish it is.It's a turtle! Scott caught a turtle!

And here's Code man's first catch of Sunday.His is a bass.

Here's a picture of my four favorite boys fishing.I was taking pictures blind, since the sun was in my face. I know I should have put the back light feature on, but I couldn't see the screen to even do that. So, the pics aren't bad, considering...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Warning: Cute Kid Story Ahead

All right, so my perception of "cute" may be a little warped by almost 10 years of stay-at-home-mommy-hood, but this is definitely a "kid story."

So this morning, Bubby decided to get out of his bath quite abruptly, so abruptly that I wondered if perhaps he felt a certain tingle that made him uncomfortable, so I asked him if he wanted to use the potty. "No," he told me, while shaking his head. "No" is Bubby's automatic response to any question these days, but generally, when he combines it with head shaking, he really does mean no. So I told Bubby to go get a diaper, and he ran off, returning in a few seconds with the diaper, which he threw on the floor. Then Bubby ran off again before I had a chance to actually put the diaper on him.

I was cleaning up the bathtub area (I told you he got out abruptly...), when, two minutes later, Logo came in and informed me that "Caleb peed on the floor." Bubby followed Logo into the bathroom, snatched his diaper off the floor, and ran out with it (Bubby runs a lot these days). I went into the kitchen and yes, there was a yellow puddle on the floor (at least he did it on vinyl rather than on the carpet, right?). I grabbed a washcloth to start cleaning it up, and before I could get back to the puddle (here's the cute part), Bubby had started trying to wipe up the puddle with his unused diaper! I told him it was a little late for the diaper, but it's nice that he's willing to clean up his messes!
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