Our Family

Our Family
Our Family: Pops, Me, The Teenager, The Boy, The Freckle Faced Ninja, Miss Priss, Miss Sassy Pants, Madi-Lou-Who, & Dora the Explorer

Thursday, November 29, 2012

When God Calls Us to Hard Things

Some words just freeze in you.  They stick in your heart and soul and you will forever remember where you were when they were uttered.  All too often they are words of anger or fear.  

But sometimes...sometimes...they are words that express joy in the midst of sorrow; convict us of something; show us there is still sorrow even as we are experiencing joy.  And they change us.  

Last May was "National Foster Care Month" to show the reality of the children in our foster care system.  To highlight the need for more foster parents.  We just had Orphan Sunday recently to bring awareness to the 132 million orphans around the world.  Hoping to open hearts to loving a child not of their body.  Saturday November 17th was National Adoption Day.  

All these National Something Days.  They make me wonder what it is I should do.  What is God's plan for my family?  For your family?  To become a foster parent?  To adopt from Ethioptia, Haiti, Guatemala?  To love on the foster family or the widow down the street?  Sponsor a child in a 3rd world country?  

God commands us over and over to take care of the widows (I believe this includes the single mom's in our communities) and orphans, over and over again.  But what should I do right now?

As I wonder, I sit in my comfy home watching leaves float around on the fall wind.  The sounds of the dryer and of my children playing out side and the smell of fresh baking bread are in my house.  It is comfortable.  It is warm.  There is food.  There is at least 1 discontented child upset at being sent to their room.  :)  But over all, there is contentment.  

Last Saturday, National Adoption Day, we sat in a class for families wanting to adopt a child in foster care.  Some were adopting a family member.  Others were like us; they felt God leading them and they were following.  We were there to tell them our story and to answer questions as those who'd walked that path a little ahead of them.  We don't have all the answers, just some experience.  

Lydia was snuggled up in the lap of a friend who was leading the class when the question was asked, "What do you like about being adopted?"  She considered it a second and said, "I have a mommy and a daddy now."  

The words hung there in the air and Will nodded along with her.  Next to Lydia sat a beautiful woman whose heart was wounded as a child.  She is the other trainer for the class.  When they taught our class, I remember her telling a bit about her life.  Around age 13 she and her siblings were put into foster care.  I do not know her whole story but I can imagine the courage it takes to even utter the sentences.  She was adopted by someone who sounds like she has the patience of a saint and a heart full of love for hurting children.  

As my eyes caught hers, I saw simultaneously there, old pain and new joy.  The tears brimmed as she tried to smile.  She is still so wounded that sorrow came to her; But I could tell she also found joy that her work had helped a child be able to say they were an orphan no longer.  Joy and pain in such a short sentence.  

Those words, frozen in time, hanging in my heart, "I have a mommy and a daddy now."  

My first thought was joyful for my children but sadness that they could even remember a time when  they wondered who would be their parents.  Felt unwanted by parents who didn't fight for them.  Felt unwanted by a foster family who after almost 2 years didn't plan to adopt them.  How do you explain to a child that you care for them but that your home is not meant to be their forever home?  As adults we get that, but a wounded child?  

As those words kept surfacing, I began to feel sorrow.  For any who have ever felt that pain and not been able to heal from it.  For any who as an adult never had that forever family adopt them.  

Then the sorrow began to stir a discontent in me.  I feel a sorrow so heavy I cannot cast it off.  It is for the children who do not have a parent now, whether due to death, or neglect, or drugs and alcohol that have stolen that person from them.  

The orphans of Uganda and the rest of Africa who have not been placed in a loving foster home or an orphanage where they will get fed but instead wander streets looking for a way to eat.  

Orphans in some countries near Russia who are tied in their cribs until age 5 when they are placed in mental institutions and made to forage for food on the floor.  Most die withing months of arriving there.  

The orphans of Haiti and South America, living in dumps, being looked at as no better than the trash that belongs there.  

The orphans of America who see their parents once a week or less, who are continually told "you're coming home soon!" only to find out after a year that they cannot go home because their parents are still on Meth.  Or who are promised a "forever family" for years until at age 18 their disillusionment is larger than their hope for life.  

The ones who mark themselves with tattoos, piercings, and cuttings to make their outside match the pain within.

"I have a mommy and a daddy now."

A physical, living, breathing parent is not the same as a mommy and a daddy. Existing on earth doesn't count as loving and being a family.  And that is what we all crave.  Family.  A mommy and a daddy who love us no matter what.

It struck me last night how many stories and movies were about finding a family.  Sometimes they are disguised as a love story but that's not what they are about at their core. They are about having a place where you belong.  You are known.  You are accepted. You are loved.  

The Blind Side, Oliver Twist, While You Were Sleeping, The Proposal, Annie, Good Will Hunting,...

How many children are living stories, wishing they could utter that phrase, "I have a mommy and a daddy now?"  It sort of sticks in my throat.  The thought, 'what is God calling us to do about it?'  

Not as a society.  Not as the church.  We know the answer to that one.  The bible is quite clear on that point, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."  James 1:27. 

No, as an individual.  As a family.  What is he calling me to specifically?  What about you?

At times I have patted myself on the back that, because of us, there are 4 fewer orphans in the world.  But just when the sweet music starts to play in my head and the warm fuzzies get all warmed up, the hard part of parenting wounded children kicks in.  Before I can get too full of myself, I find myself on my knees begging God for help.  So can't I just rest on my laurels and be done?  I mean, haven't I done my part?

That's how we think.  I take a meal every Wednesday to so and so.  I made a blanket for that one family.  I served at Thanksgiving at the soup kitchen.  I direct traffic in the church parking lot.  I went on a mission trip a few years back.  Dust off my hands, I'm done.

But what if God's not done with us.  I'm not saying there are things wrong with all those ways of serving.  And I'm not saying we have to singly attempt to take every orphan in the world into our homes.  It just seems that we can get comfortable in our serving.  And I don't think God really likes comfort.  I haven't found a bible verse yet that says, "Enjoy all your comforts oh ye ones and rest in your comfort zone."

God seems to like to call us to hard things.  Growth and change are uncomfortable, yet it's what God seems to desire to see in us.  And boy does He change us when He calls us to something new.  Something scary.  Sometimes I wonder if He doesn't call us to hard serving, not for those we serve as much as for our own hearts.  My own selfish sins have certainly been revealed to me more and more as we've journey through the past several years since our adoption.  

Some of you are going to say, "I'm already maxed out and never able to say no as it is."  That's our challenge as women, jumping in to every request to make everyone happy.  But that's the thing.  Is that serving?  Is that the serving that God is calling you to?  Because God's serving isn't always fun.  It isn't always easy.  It brings us a holy discontent but it also gives us a deep inner joy we can't find anywhere else.  

While you may have the gift of hospitality, having your friends over for dinner parties and hosting baby showers, while nice and all, probably wasn't God's idea of how to use that gift.  Ever thought about using that gift in a ministry capacity?  Throw a dinner party for women at a half-way house?  Hmmm, that doesn't sound so easy now does it.

Some of us have the gift of prophesy but telling everyone what is wrong with their life, judging quickly, and then telling them how to live their life isn't exactly a servant's heart is it?  But what about mentoring a friend who is having a tough time?  What about leading a discipleship group of teens?  What about mentoring or adopting a foster child?  That isn't so easy.  

For many years Tony and I have felt that at some point God is going to call us to be foster parents.  To teens.  I have been relieved each time we talk about it, that He hasn't called us there yet.  Because that's hard serving.  And it's WAY outside my comfort zone.  I'm not excited about it.  But at the same time, I am.  Scared, terrified, and excited all at once.  Because shouldn't a 16 year old have the right to say, "Because I have a mom and a dad now."?  Don't they deserve that just as much as my cute young children?

I desire to live out God's heart for His children but wounded and hurt teenagers are just so...messy.  They are angry.  They are immature beyond belief. They are sometimes uncontrollable.  Sometimes unreachable.  Sometimes they are kind.  Sometimes they are determined.  Always they are God's children.  And He sees what we cannot, past the scars and behavior, to the child within.  The scared, but lovely creation He planned for.  

I read Katie Davis book she wrote about her community that she's immersed herself in, in Uganda.  I read her blog as she writes about being a foster mother in her mid-twenties to 13 young girls.  She expresses their pain and sorrow over being deserted or having parents die.  It's hard serving.  Living amidst pain and sorrow.  

Is God calling you to something scary?  Something that seems out of your control?   Something...messy?  Yeah, I know that fear.  I pray that God gives all of us the faith to follow Him down those messy paths.  I know He will supply the path if we will take the steps.  I know He will hold us up when things get hard.  

And I know that we will hear those words.  Words that freeze in the air and bring tears to our eyes.  I pray many moments like that for you.  Because they change us.  

Be blessed.    

Saturday, November 10, 2012

All You Need Is Love

So now that you have Paul McCartney's voice in your head..."Love is all you need..."  I have a question for you.  Do you believe you are loved?  

When you yell at your children for no reason at all other than you just feel irritated that they interrupted your plans, do you feel loved?  

When you realize you completely did something wrong at work, even though you insisted you were right, and have to not only redo it but own up to being wrong, do you feel loved?

When you exchange angry words with your spouse over something as inconsequential as which of you left something undone or socks on the floor, do you feel loved?  

And when you mess up, is love always enough to fix it?  Is it true, "all you need is love?"  Is there time when love falls short?  

I was pondering that the other day.  Our children weren't feeling particularly loved.  And I was misunderstanding.  I thought they were just feeling out of sorts.  Needed a bit of discipline.  

When I finally began to realize what was going on, I knew just how they felt.  We all feel unlovable at times.  Times when I KNOW that I was such a bad mom today.  How can the creator of the universe know the thoughts in my heart and the words of my mouth and still love me no matter what?  

And sometimes, when I feel unloved, the love of my husband, while wonderful, isn't enough.  Sometimes my love isn't enough to fix the brokenness inside.  Not enough to heal the wound.  

For some things, we cannot just love the problem away.  

A child who was abandoned, abused, disconnected from, wounded, taken away...they always sees it as their own fault.  They were not lovable enough.  They were "bad".  They feel responsible.  My kids connect with that and all the band-aids in the world won't fix it.  

But how can I show them that the God in Heaven loves them beyond all reckoning when in my heart of hearts I don't always feel lovable myself?  How can I show them how to have faith when my own often falls short?

I began to ask myself, I know I am imperfect; I know I am a sinner; But if I get past all that, do I grasp the enormity of God's love for me?  Do I truly feel I belong to Him?  

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. 
Ephesians 1:3-5

I am adopted by the God of the Universe.  He chose me.  He chose you.  He gave me my eye color, height, and extra long feet.  He gave you your skin color, your laugh, and your straight or curly hair.  Yet we look in the mirror and see flaws.  We don't see a loved creation.  We see fat, bald, irritable, imperfections, flaws, sins...

There was a girl.  She was a real girl.  She lived a normal life.  Her parents divorced, remarried, lived life.  She was a "good" girl to all outward appearances.  And when she looked in the mirror all she saw was...not enough.  Not thin enough.  Not pretty enough.  Not lovable enough.  

So she sought acceptance and love.  Starting in her pre-teen years she tried to fill the gap with boyfriend after boyfriend.  Continued into her teen years, added being sexually active to the mix.  In college she added alcohol to numb the fears.  

She kept seeking.  Looking for that "love" that was going to make her feel complete.  Each time the boyfriend turned out to be an empty promise, she discovered that she'd given a piece of herself away. Lost a little of herself.  Each break-up lowered her value.  And when she looked in the mirror she didn't see hair color or freckles.  She saw ugliness.  

And one day, tears streaming down her face, she murmured to the girl in the mirror, "I...hate...you."  

Years passed. Counseling helped heal, helped her move on. Try to bury the past.  The feelings lingered.  Marriage.  Children.  And then one day, she met God.  And all the feelings of unworthiness came rushing back.  How could He love me?

But He whispered into her heart, "You are MY child.  I love you no matter what has happened.  No matter where you have gone.  No matter what you have done.  You are not "bad".  You are MINE."

This story could belong to so many of us.  Change a few details and it could be your story.  It is mine.  

And no matter how often I replay that day and remember the love my creator expressed for me, I can still forget.  I can let that slip away and see only the ugly.  And I am surprised that no matter how much I tell my children I love them that they don't always remember it.  

The same being that created the stars, streams that flow down out of mountains, trees that display glorious colors as if they were on fire every fall, and placed the sun the prefect distance from this planet to support life...He is the same being that created you and I.  And we see flaws, sin.  

"In him we have obtained an inheritance." Ephesians 1:11

Do I believe Christ's willingness to die on a cross in my place?  In my being worth that sacrifice?  Do you?    

Would I give my life for Him?  If I were asked to chose between my faith in Christ and my life, would I offer my life for His?  I like to think my faith is that strong.  Like that of Richard Wurmbrand or Deitrich Bonhoeffer.  Strong enough to withstand.  In the comfort of my own room, my own safe home, it is.  But would it withstand a true test?  

God breathes into me his love for me, his creation.  The same creator who made mountains and breath-taking sunrises over them, planned for my eye color.  Planned for your hair color.  Planned every freckle on my son's face and the curls in my daughter's hair.  Planned who would be my children.  So why can I look at that sunrise and be in awe but look in the mirror and...eh, not so much.  And it shakes my belief in my own faith.  

And again I am surprised that my children don't always believe that God could think they are precious.  

Wounded children don't even have to look in the mirror to be less than awed by themselves.  They KNOW they are bad, wrong, less that adequate.  

We CHOSE them.   God CHOSE them for our family.  We want them.  And they see an unwanted, ugly being when they look in the mirror.  God wanted me the day I looked in the mirror and hated myself.  But I didn't see that I was chosen.  I saw ugly and unwanted.  Unworthy.  

Isn't that the way we are fooled?  So how do you and I, who are so often critical of our outer reflections and disdainful of our inner selves, convince a wounded child who sees nothing of beauty in themselves, that they are beautiful and loved.  That their heart is desired by that Creator and by me.  How can I convince myself of that?  

That's just it.  I can not.  I am not enough and neither are you.  We are woefully inadequate to stand in the gap that was meant to be filled by our savior.  I cannot be God and Christ for my children, I have to lead them to Him and let Him do the healing.  I have to let them see me open my heart to God in the same way I am asking them to.

I will continue to shower my children as much as I can with love in my imperfect way;  But more importantly I will implore God to heal their hearts and show them His perfect love.  

I will continually tell them how beautiful and special they are; But more importantly I will plead with God daily to show them how beautiful and special He designed and created them.  

If you are one of those who only sees ugliness, I am praying right now that God will reveal to you just how very precious and beautiful you are.  

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.   The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:4-7

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Day I Ate Dog Food

OK, this can only happen to a mom.  Or a toddler.  Because a normal person doesn't eat dog food.  Not on purpose anyway.  You've probably never done something like this.  If you have, you understand my reaction.  If you haven't, stop reading now and keep your innocence!  And if you're my mother-in-law, don't read another word.  This story will make you gag!  

So I'm eating leftover pizza for breakfast, standing at the counter, talking with my husband.  Yes, you read that right.  I still live like a college kid when I can, eating pizza for breakfast (at least I heat it) and cereal for dinner.  But don't tell anyone because I'm married to this health nut guy who thinks all problems are solved (I'm sure he's right but don't tell him I said that) with the right vitamins and exercise.  I recently told him my shin hurt from hitting it and he told me I needed to work out.  :)

Anyway, the kids weren't up yet, so not only was I eating pizza for breakfast, while my husband ate his healthy egg and toast, I was SNEAKING it.  Because they were gonna get Cheerios.  I'm also a bit immature and don't share well. :)

So while enjoying my pizza and early morning chat with my spouse, I dropped a piece of pepperoni.  Now I fully embrace the 5 second rule, or I did before this day, so I grabbed it and popped it in my mouth.  And it crunched.  Not the crunch of over-cooked pepperoni.  The crunch of something that did not belong in my mouth.   

At first my mind tried to make sense of it.  Then my mouth rebelled.  Because, while all I could taste in that first crunch was pepperoni, my mind remembered that I had just fed the dog.  In that very spot.  And I'd dropped some dry dog food on the floor.  

Apparently when I scooped up my innocently delicious piece of pepperoni, I'd also scooped up the small piece of dog food that was under it.  So I'm starting to gag.  

As I mumble something about having just eaten a piece of dog food and proceed to spit out my mouthful in the trash, my supportive husband just stood there and laughed.  Laughed!  

After rinsing my mouth out repeatedly for probably 10 minutes, I actually could not eat another bite.  Every time I looked at the pepperoni I dry heaved!    Literally.  So part of me was lamenting wasted pizza while the other half wanted to go brush my teeth 15 times.  I did 3 times. 

I know most of you have no idea what I am talking about.  Thank your creator.  I feel as if my innocence was lost and I can no longer wonder what dog food tastes like.  Because it tastes like it smells.  I have no idea how the dog manages to get it down but I now am more than willing to feed him table scraps!  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My left leg and other oddities

I have discovered something.  I'm right legged.  Over the past year or so, I've noticed that when we are standing during worship at church, that my right leg keeps time to the music.  My left leg is unable to keep the beat.  So I've come to the conclusion that I'm right legged.

Now, I know your attention never wanders during church.  This is no reflection on the music, service, or anything else other than my ADDishness at times.  Someone out there is shocked that I focus on my leg during church (others of you know how fitting it is!).  It's not a focus, more of a passing thought.  But it plagues me.  Every service.  This inability of my left leg to keep time. 

Now I notice other odd things about me.  I drive better with my left hand.  Especially if my right hand has a cup of coffee or a phone.  I cannot swap hands and be as proficient.  I'm liable to spill my coffee.  And that would be a tragedy!

I talk to myself when I'm alone.  Out loud.  In the car.  Sometimes I even argue with myself.  Sometimes I tell off someone who made me mad.  Of course sometimes people I know notice and tell me they saw me "singing" at a traffic light the other day.  Yup.  Beltin' one out!  That's not the odd part.  I think all of you do that too, you just don't admit it!  But when I talk to myself, if I say a word I wouldn't normally say in front of my children, I apologize.  To the empty van.  And to God.  Because they both care that I just said, "crap" in front of no one.  

Now I know some of you are thinking, "That's not ALL that's odd about you!"  Hush.  Some things just don't need to be said out loud.   ;)

I have a sarcastic streak in me a mile wide that my husband and children are privileged to deal with 24/7.  There are times when I am in a very sincere conversation with someone, that I have to really restrain myself from voicing the sarcastic thoughts that are flowing through my mind.  It's like some sort of curse!  Every once in a while Tony will suggest that we work on lessening the sarcasm around the house.  That's like telling Shrek to not be sarcastic.  I just tell him that's why he married me.  For my caustic wit! 

I take great joy things that are a bit odd.  The fact that our 25 lb dog is afraid of rain (not storms just rain), squirrels when it's dark, and getting his paws wet make me laugh probably harder than it merits.  I love when our teenager, who is brighter than me, uses words like "rhetorical", almost correctly, but not quite. (i.e. while reading Harry Potter, "How does getting bitten by a werewolf kill you?  That's probably one of those rhetorical questions.")  I love that when discussing superpowers we'd like, our 6 year old's would be to have a fairy. 

I have to restrain myself from rearranging the dishwasher EVERY time someone else loads it.  Wrong.  Because there is a right way to load the dishwasher just as there is a right way to put the roll of toilet paper (over).  I think I'm a bit like that crazy guy in Ace Ventura sometimes, "Laces OUT!"  There's also a right and wrong way to fold towels and I compulsively refold them after someone else does it.  Same with t-shirts.  My husband has actually been telling me for 17 years to stop folding his undies.  Yeah, good luck with that one!  

I order a large coffee at the drive through with 2 splendas and 10 creamers just to hear the reaction.  OK, I do love the creamer in my coffee but I love the, "How many creamers did you say?" reaction.  

I have to restrain my laughter when one of my kids asks a question loudly that embarrasses the other person about something dumb the person is doing.  Like, "Mommy if cigarettes are so stinky and kill you, why is that man smoking one?"  "Mom, why does that man have a ring in his nose?"  "Why is that woman in the store in just her bra?"  I know it's inappropriate and I am extraordinarily juvenile!  I do correct the kids before the person in question comes after us.  But inside?  I'm dying laughing. 

I check Face Book before I check my email. 

I always check the mailbox for spiders before sticking my hand in there!

I occasionally make raw cookie dough using splenda and justify it's "healthier", but I hide it from the kids! 

Sometimes I go in the bathroom, pretending I gotta go, and lock myself in just to get 5 minutes alone.  Usually gets me about 30 seconds. 

Well I'm sure most of you could add 50 things to this that are odd about me.  Just food for thought that I'm odd and still found a man to marry me and his family hasn't pretended not to know us yet.  That's always a possibility after they read this though!  :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Multiple Children

I remember listening to a Bill Cosby routine where he said he didn't think people with only 1 child were "real parents".  While I disagree with him on that statement, I know where he was going. 

When there was only one child in our home, she lived under laser focus from her parents.  She couldn't breathe sideways without one of us giving her encouragement, advice, criticism, pointers, consequences, etc.  That same child recently looked at me in indignation when one of her siblings committed a rule infraction that would have caused her serious consequences and my response?  "Oh well.  She won't die." 

No one could pick on her because she was never more than an arms length away.  Her father began teaching her shapes with flashcards when she was 2 1/2.  "Circle, square, parallelogram..."  Brilliance in the making.  Now her siblings are home schooled and she frequently asks with a hint of indignation in her voice, "Did you even DO school today?"  As I sit there, all of us still in PJ's and answer back, "Why yes, we did.  We were done by lunchtime.  Just in time for a nap!" I wonder why she asked that? 

The oldest child was always dressed perfectly, hair in cute little braids, shoes matching...at least she was until she developed an opinion about her clothes.  Her mother usually looked fairly neat at least and didn't leave the house without make up. 

The siblings, they started that way.  Efforts were made to have matching bows, cute shoes, shirts without holes, hair brushed neatly.  Somewhere it just got to be too much.  Now they wear their PJ's all day and beg the mother to put on shorts and a t-shirt.  The mother doesn't wear make up unless she's meeting someone new and frequently applies it in the car! 

The oldest child rarely got into trouble.  Not because she is so perfect.  Because she had limited resources.  It was just her and her imagination.  You put 4 kids together and you just quadrupled the trouble-making potential!  4 times the creativity, ideas, and, strength. 

For example, in our last house, the gate on our chain link back fence disappeared.  Just flat gone.  When I inquired if anyone had an idea of when it disappeared, because it had not yet occurred to me that my children would have removed a 3'x4' 30 lb metal gate, they told me "those people who live back there took it!  So I'm ready to call the police to report the theft when they followed it up with, "It was in our fort one day and gone the next so we know they took it!"

"Come again?  It was in your fort?"  That is the point when your mom voice begins to raise several octaves.  Kids frequently view this as mom going nuts but fail to see it as the danger warning that it is.  Apparently when some workmen bent it they heard me say, "I guess we'll have to get a new one" and assumed I'd just presented it to them as a gift!

Or there was the more recent moment when our 6 year old opened her bedroom window to holler at her siblings on the back deck below.  "Throw it to me" seemed like a logical suggestion to them so she pushed out her screen and they commenced a game of 'catch the dog's toy' while she hung out the 2nd story window.  I now understand why Bill Cosby said his wife would talk to herself!

Now the very supportive father of these darling little geniuses recently informed me that he can tell the kind of day the children have had by how he is greeted at the door. 

Smiling, talking wife means the children rose above all expectations and behaved.  All day.  And got along.  All day.  I think that's happened once or twice. 

Wife on Face Book, grunting hello means we've had a tough day and will you please put those monsters to bed while I veg.  Then fix me a glass of vino, por favor!

Then there's "Kari" mom.  That, he explained to me, is when he can tell we need a vacation.  He arrives home to find the children already in bed.  Usually been there since like 4:00.  Or lunchtime.  The wife greets him at the door a bit like Kari from the Incredibles greets the "replacement sitter" after 24 hours babysitting Jack-Jack the exploding baby!  This is when he realizes it's time to get his wife away from reality for a day or 2! 

What Bill Cosby described as "The same thing happens every night", bath time snafu, when I only had 1 child I really didn't understand.  Why couldn't they just follow mom's directions, bathe, and get dressed for bed?  How hard can that be?  Our child did it just fine.  Now I totally get it! 

For your joy, laughter, and sympathy, let me present to you the same skit of "The same thing happens every night" at our house: 

I am present for all bath time activities for all children under 10 in our house, mainly because I want soap and shampoo to last past 1 day.  So, I put it up where no one can reach it but me.  It has very little to do with insuring cleanliness.  On the rare occasions when the father is asked to bathe the children he has to come ask where I've hidden the shampoo.  I am present and chaos still ensues!! 

I line up the little people and bathe them one at a time.  The other 2 are supposed to undress, put their clothes in the dirty laundry hamper, then sit quietly waiting their turn.  Instead they begin to chase each other around, throwing dirty clothes like missiles, while I wash the 3 year old.  "Stop that, daddy is trying to get some work done!" I'd tell them, while the 3 year old would yell their names in my ear, trying to get their attention. 

I manage to get the 3 year old clean and dried off and call her 6 year old sister to get in the tub.  The 6 year old decides I want to play chase and won't get in the tub.  Finally I yell, they all freeze and look at me like I'm nuts.  She gets in the tub subdued while the 3 year old throws down her towel and goes over to dip her hands in to splash her sister, me, and the bathroom.  The boy child is standing in the doorway saluting when he decides to dance naked to entertain the now wet again 3 year old.  I make him sit on the toilet seat and tell the 3 year old to get her pajamas on NOW!  She dashes from the room to hopefully fulfill her orders.

I finish bathing the 6 year old, call to the 3 year old, "Are you in your PJ's?"  "Almost" she responds.  Hmm.  The 6 year old gets out and is not quite dry when her naked sister reappears wearing flip flops, a hat, and sunglasses.  Carrying a purse.  She has the nerve to look shocked when I ask where are her pajamas. 

I send them away with threats of a lifetime in timeout and commence bathing the boy.  He is telling me telling me how he can wash himself without help and demonstrates the "washed but not clean in 0-15 seconds" method.  Meanwhile the teenager appears in the bathroom door annoyed to tell me that 2 naked girls keep banging on her bedroom door.  I tell her to watch the boy wash over again and head out to do crowd control. 

Both girls are running around the upstairs naked, and when I say, "Go get your pajamas on!"  that just sends them in to Vector (from Despicable Me) imitations, "They're NOT pajamas!" they yell giggling and then they are dancing like Gru and Vector naked in the hallway.  At this point I usually blow my threats by laughing at them before I manhandle them into PJ's. 

Just as I get them calm the boy comes dancing in, still wet and naked, to tell us he's done.  The teenager, thoroughly disgusted that she had to watch her little brother shower, goes to hide in her room in protest.  I have begun banishing them to their rooms while one bathes in the interest of self-preservation!

Then there's the whole sibling thing.  I had no idea that a 3 year old could throw a punch but our 6 year old has the bruises to prove it.  Apparently you don't take back the barbie the 3 year old stole from you unless you are prepared to defend yourself. 

Of course the 3 year old learned everything she knows from that older sister who, when she was 3 would notice her barely toddling little sister look sideways at her toys and proceed to pull hair and bite.  She learned well. 

And the shrillness of a sibling who has had something taken from them is amazing.  I had no idea a voice could go that high and not shatter glass!

Going to the pool is like an exercise in preparation for a heart attack.  My inner lifeguard is still on duty and is quite uptight! 

The boy dives and flips where he shouldn't, runs on wet cement, and stays underwater as long as he can, all to make me think he is a second away from death the entire time we are at the pool. 

The 6 year old swims better than she thinks she can so she panics every 15 seconds and sometimes grabs on a smaller child thinking that will hold her up.  The other day she yells to my friend, "catch me" and swims away from the side of the pool in water too deep for her to stand in.  Now my friend already was holding a 2 year old and "catching" her own 6 year old.  It's a wonder they didn't all go down when the S.S. Lydia dove into them! 

The 3 year old spends the entire 2-3 hour excursion "jumping to mommy" and I spend the whole time wiping water out of my eyes to check on everyone else.  All 3 of them want me to watch everything they do so their yells of "Mommy" mingle with the other 25 kids yelling the same thing. 

All the while the teenager stands by my side wanting to tell me about something and I want to be present and listen to her while wiping the water from my eyes from catching the 3 year old and scanning the pool for the boy and the 6 year old to make sure they haven't drowned yet.  And my friends keep wondering why we don't want to go to the pool more often.  Give me a sprinkler in the backyard, thank you.       

It's funny how in the moment most of these experiences make me wonder whose neck to ring.  Sometimes I even wonder if God knew what he was doing giving me these children.  I wonder if we really should adopt more or just quit while we're ahead.  But in these rare moments of retrospection when all is peaceful, I think back and they just make me smile.  I guess we're having one of those rare days when everyone is getting along and hopefully daddy will be greeted by a smiling wife tonight.  Of course we did just go on vacation. ;)

Friday, June 15, 2012

This wounded heart

I didn't really want to write this blog post and make it public.  But some things are of God and when He presses...there's always a reason.  If this post strikes a chord in you, for someone you know, please share it with them. 

There is this heart who lives in my house.  It is a wounded heart, like so many others around me.  It silently cries out for me.  Hug me, hold me, show me you will love me before all others. 

But it cries out from behind this wall.  The wall is made of invisible bricks.  The bricks are built out of fear.  They are protected by a net of false bravado that attacks any who attempt to get too close.  I don't need you.  I'm the best.  It whispers.  I can survive on my own.  I used to have better than this.  My old family was better.  It repels me.  I want to walk away from it. 

But the silent cries.  They have arms.  They grab at me.  Desperation.  They pull me into the wall.  Are you going to leave me?  I don't trust you!  They left me.  Why won't you love me the most?  Are you going to get rid of me?  I know you hate me. 

The heart, it tiptoes, sneaks, hides.  Then it jumps out and asks for love with such desperation, all the while throwing this wall up.  Tossing the net over me. 

That is what it is like to live next to a wounded heart.  One that is not healing.  Closed for business.  Don't bother because you aren't getting close to me!  I will never trust you.  This is not my home.  Not my family. 

You cannot live with a wounded heart, instead you live NEXT to it.  It will not let you.  It is too wounded.  It wants you close, wants to be accepted, loved.  Yet it will not trust you to love it.  Does not trust that you will care for it.  The child who holds that heart in their chest, tiptoes around, trying to catch you being disloyal.  They desperately crave connection.  Communion.  But they will not open up to that connection.  Instead they will allow you next to them.  Where they can see you. 

They do not ask honest questions.  They are too gripped by fear.  What if your answer is another in a long line of perceived rejections?  Instead they hint.  They cajole.  They brown-nose.  They bribe.  They pretend perfection. 

This child's room is never a mess.  If more than 5 toys are on the floor they quickly apologize for the "mess".  Then ask 15 times if they need to clean up. 

This is one of the hardest parts of my motherhood.  I want so badly to be the most loving mother I can be.  But I am pushed away by my own child. 

And the desire wanes.  It's like being around a really clingy old flame that I no longer want to date. 

That stabs at my heart.  I feel I am failing.  Losing this little heart.  One day they will stop being desperate for my love.  Will they turn to other things?  Things that could destroy?  That thought chills me. 

I know this is reality for many wounded children.  Adults too.  Broken hearts are not broken arms.  They do not heal with a signed cast and 6 weeks of sympathy. 

I read all the books.  I was prepared for this situation.  I knew these behaviors we would see.  I knew how I would probably feel. 

I wasn't prepared for the distance.  The length of time.  The repelling. 

This is my hard parenting.  Out loud, I lament 3 year old tantrums, argumentative children, dirty clothes on the floor, and children who go temporarily deaf when I give them directions. 

But inside I am crying for this wounded heart that will not let me in.  The child seems happy.  Others comment on how well-adjusted our children are.  After 2 years, they seem so happy.  Look, so beautiful.  But in those brief glimpses they don't see. 

I have finally laid this heart, and the child who it belongs to, at God's feet.  After all, I am realizing that it is He, not I, who has the power to heal.  Maybe that's what God has been trying to tell me all this time.  I couldn't hear over the sound of banging my head on that wall.  My noise drown out God's voice. 

        He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds
                   Psalm 147:3

I wonder how often I have repelled God.  How often I've thrown up a wall of fear and bragged to God that I didn't need His help.  "I've got this Lord.  Who needs you!"  Lashed out in fear and anger.         The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit   
                      Psalm 34:18
Then tried to go around directly talking to God.  HOPING He was gonna take care of me.  Would swoop in like a super hero and save my day.  When I should have been praying, I pretended to ignore, while I listened for the sounds of His footsteps. 
        I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up

       the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong
       I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.  
        Ezekiel 34:16

How many wounded hearts have I stood next to and only seen their actions?  Repelled.  Annoyed.  Walked away.  Left them standing alone.  I wonder. 

I cannot heal them.  That is clearly the realm of a Saviour.  But did God place me there to give a kind word?  Encouragement?  A smile? 

This is not easy to post publicly.  To admit to being less than perfect is obvious to anyone who walks in my house.  But to show how far from even "good" I am is harder.  Sometimes admitting truth is done gritting your teeth.  And with a sigh of relief. 

This struggle is common to parents adopting older children.  Common to parents and care givers to someone who has experienced emotional trauma.  Happens in relationships where one has been hurt.  It is written about in books but out loud, only whispered about.  In shame.  

If you know someone who has adopted an older child, they may not want to share this struggle with you.  It is not one I would openly discuss with many.  But you can support them through it with  a lot of prayer.  Share the verses above with them, or any others that God lays on your heart. 

Do not feel pity for this struggle.  It is a battle we have willingly taken on.  But pray for our strength, that we do not ever give up the fight.  Even if it takes a lifetime. 

And if you are an adoptive parents struggling with this, I pray for healing in the heart you have been entrusted with.  I pray for trust to open up.  And I pray for God to knit your hearts together. 

I still have a seed of hope that He will knit all the hearts in my house together, healed.  And a seed of hope moves mountains.

God bless.


Friday, May 25, 2012

The stranger

So a week ago, some strange man walks into my backyard and invites my 3 youngest children to "come off the porch and go play with my kids."  There were no children in sight.  I was right there.  Looking out the living room window.  And I could not see where he stood, carefully out of my line of sight.  It still gives me chills to think about the might have beens. 

Not 12 hours before that, God had prompted Tony in the middle of the night to pray for protection over his family.  Right before they went outside, we had the "what do you do if a stranger comes in the yard talk". 

I truly believe God sent angels in response to Tony's prayer, to prompt me to have that talk, to prompt Lydia to say, "I think we should go inside", to prompt Will to take Madi by the hand and say, "Yes, we have to go inside."  That man ran away like he was being chased when they came inside.  Pretty sure he was. 

In the days afterwards, my concern was warning people in the area that a "predator" was out there, lurking.  I was ready to take a baseball bat to him if he ever came back in our yard.  We called the police, checked websites for registered child sex offenders in our area, showed the kids pictures to see if they recognized any of them...We were prepared to fight.

But this little thought began working it's way into my brain.  Who was this man?  Not just who was he so I can keep my children away from him, but who IS he?  And why?  What had created this compulsion in him?  What had been done to him?  He was a child once.  As a matter of fact, he still is.  God's child.  Here I am, a professed follower of Christ, passing judgement on this man because his intentions scared me. 

I had done everything but what I should have done.  I should have prayed for him. 

I cannot imagine the depths of sorrow a parent goes through whose child suffers at the hands of someone else.  And yet I can. 

One of my children almost died of malnutrition because a birth parent did not feed them.  Yet I pray for the salvation of that woman because I know she is a precious child of God, who loves her. 

One of my children still struggles to trust that there will always be food in front of them after having to forage for food in trash cans at age 3.   Yet I pray that God will keep those parents off the streets and safe. 

Several of our children fear that one day they will wake up and we will not be there.  And I pray for those birth parents.  I pray that God will make them hate rather than desire drugs.  I pray that He will bring their hearts close to him.   

But I pray for them because I know them.  Not personally, but I know their story.  Sexually abused as young children by family members.  Verbally abused by parents.  Physically abused.  I hate what my children have experienced but I understand why it happened.  Because it was done before.  The cycle continued.  I can pray and love them and understand.

But this stranger.  This man who invaded my world.  I do not know his story.  I never even saw his face.  It is easy to hate him.  It is easy to judge.  But that's not my job.  No one elected me God.  I don't get to judge him.  Yes, I should protect my children from harm, but that doesn't give me the right to hate. 

That's really hard though.  Love someone who had ill intentions towards me or mine?  I still really would like to hit him with a stick. 

I've always been in awe of people who can forgive huge crimes against them.  The parents of a slain child, while they want the perpetrator to go to jail to protect others, turn to God to help them forgive.  Man, I don't know if I could be that big.  I know, hate is really poison and forgiveness heals you know the other person.  I can see that because I began to see every strange man as a possible predator.  I saw dark everywhere.  I still don't know how I could have found forgiveness if he had actually gotten one of my kids.  Certainly not on my own.  Only with God. 

In the book, The Shack**,  the main character has suffered the loss of his youngest child in a violent way.  Since then he has turned his back on all happiness and lived this sort of half life, eaten up by hate for this person.  He has this sort of dream where he meets God.  The part of it that struck me is when he is asked to sit in the judgement seat for God and judge others, including the man who killed his child, he finds that God loves that killer.  He loves His child, despite the horrendous sin they committed.   

**Note: I'm not telling you to read it or saying I agree with the theology in The Shack - I don't.  Just a story with a fitting example.

Just as God loved the Egyptians that he washed away in the Red Sea to protect the Israelites.  Just as He loves the man who robbed some local banks recently.  Just as he loved the prostitute, Haggar, in spite of her running back to prostitution over and over.  Just as he loves the man who hurt his children in a rage.  Just as he loves the meth addicted birth parents.  Just as he loves my neighbor, who in her elderly years drives her car through my yard to say hello, almost running Madi over.  Just as he loves me when I yell at my children, don't follow through on what I will say I do, or one of a million other sins I've committed.  He loves the grocery store cashier who was rude and looks as if she's worked longer than she should, for more years than she should.  The one I judged because I wanted her to hurry up. 

And he loves that strange man who came into my yard. 

I asked God a while back to help me see people as He sees them; Love them as He loves them. 

But that was before this man.  I'm not sure I'm ready for that.  Because while I can try to love the grocery cashier, can I love a thief who steals from me?  Can I love an abuser who hurts a child?  Can I love a molester who steals into my yard with the intent to steal my child?  Can I look at them with love, not judgement?  Can I see inside to what has been done to them? 

Maybe they were the abused child that no one ever rescued. 

Maybe they were my son or daughter a couple decades ago and there was not social worker or foster family or adoptive home to find refuge in. 

I wrote the other day about not judging ourselves against others.  Not assuming too much about the perfection we see in someone else.  That's a lot easier than not judging someone we see as "the bad guy". 

I know I will protect my children to my last breath.  And most of me still wants to run into that man while I have a bat in hand.  But with all of my heart I will pray for him, that God will heal whatever has been done to him to set him on this road.  A road I am sure he does not want to travel, but may not know another path.  And I will TRY to leave the judging to God. 

For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one my receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Corinthians 2:12

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I can't go on Pinterest any more.  It stresses me beyond belief.  I see all these "easy, DIY" projects that I "pin", then go buy the materials for, then they sit half done in a closet.  I even had to ask someone what DIY meant because I thought it was a company!  Does anyone's house really look like the ones on Pinterest?  If yours does, I can not come visit you.  I can only go visit people who have crumbs on their table, dishes in the sink, and mismatched decor!  :) 

I read an article about feeling the need to 'keep up with the Jones's' in the mom world.  Pinning, couponing, parenting the best, dressing our kids in adorable outfits, homeschooling while doing 40 loads of laundry or being the room mom every year and sending in the best cupcakes, super mom in heels and a dress while working full-time...

We look in disbelief at Susie "Homemaker" who bakes all her own bread while raising 12 kids who all say "yes ma'am" or Joni "Works Full-Time" who has a perfect house and coaches all 5 of her kids sports teams.  And we wonder how they do it.  And why can't we.

Now, to add that insanity "Attachment Parenting".  Seriously?  Like I want my child "attached" to me.  I want to raise children who one day want to go out into the world and be the salt and the light.  They start sleeping with me now and what happens when they're 17?  Frankly my bedroom is my sanctuary and I love that my kids go to be somewhere else.  I love them but I love my peaceful place where I can read until 1 am and sleep without getting whacked in the mouth (Tony only rarely does that!). 

You know I've never had to make the choice to breast feed/formula, cloth/disposable diapers, and the tons of other things parents of infants have to choose, because my kids were past that when we adopted them.  But we've had to make (and defend) other choices: Preschool versus home daycare versus stay at home mom.  Dietary choices (we don't eat sugar 95% of the time so most of the free world thinks we're nuts right there).  Then there's the schooling choice...public school, private school, home school, unschool...critics abound.  Judgement surrounds.   No matter which one seems right to you, there is someone judging if it was the right choice and we are feeling guilty for not doing "enough", whatever that is. 

Can't we keep the house clean while doing all the other 50 things expected of us in a day?  Just drink more coffee, you can do it!  I look down at my floor that needs mopping over my sweat shirt with coffee and applesauce stains and wonder why I'm exhausted when I haven't left the house today!  I go to the park and marvel at the mom in her cute outfit, who obviously works out AND had time (and forethought) to apply make up, while I'm wearing a jogging suit for the 15th day in a row, not because I just came from the gym, but because the elastic waist is comfy! 

We watch the children at the park and judge our parenting based on the best behaved kids there.  Little Mary Jane plays like a lady, doesn't scuff her patent-leather shoes, and still has her bow in her hair when she goes home.  My 3 year old has pulled one pig-tail out before we even get to the park and we can't find her shoe in the car.  Little Johnny runs and plays nicely, sticks up for the little guy, and NEVER argues when mom says, "Time to go!".  Ever had your child hole up in the top of the slide and blow a raspberry at you when you say that phrase?  Lots of fun!

We judge ourselves when the other ladies we talk with at church talk about their "walk" and you realize that they get up at 5 am every day to read the Bible and spend an hour with God.  You were happy to get a 5 minute prayer in while you showered and that you read 2 pages of the chapter for your small group book study.  You swallow and decide you need friends with less ambition about them.  Or more reality!

Our husbands judge their value by how well they provide for their family.  Compared to Joe down the street.  Compared to a brother or dad.  They look at the neighbor's yard and judge the greenness of their grass as better than their own.  They look at their car, size of the house, career path....

Is that not what we all do?  Judge ourselves by our neighbor's measuring stick?  We judge others we see as less by looking down at them.  And we judge ourselves by those we see as better than us. 

I recently had someone tell me that they stay away from people who others lift up and praise.  At first they it sounded like they had disdain but as we talk further, we both realized it was an insecurity that kept me from speaking to or even developing friendships with those people.  Someone who could be a huge influence in our lives, we avoid out of fear of being judged.  Exposed. 

I think it might be time for us to ask God for His eyes when we look at those people around us.  Then I think our judgement yardstick would be turned upside down.  The mother whose house looks perfect, children act perfect, who we think is perfect, is dealing with a struggling marriage or a prodigal teenager.  The father with the perfect lawn is escaping  from an overwhelming problem at work or an seriously ill family member.  The jet setting single whose lifestyle we envy, laments that they may never find a soul mate to share their life with, or children to love beyond belief.  The strong couple whose kids are the delight of their lives have an estranged parent or one of them has gotten a cancer diagnosis. 

We have no idea of the challenges others around us are holding in their hearts.  We're too busy seeing the outside.  Looking each other over to see how everyone else is more perfect than us so we'd better shore up our wall around us.  Got to buff up the image of perfection.

But what about Christ's image?  Do we look for His image in those around us?  Look in their eyes, not at their clothes?  Do we buff up His image in and on us so others see His love for them reflected?  Pull down the wall and let others see we aren't perfect but we are loved, just as they are?

Not an easy thing.  To put aside our fears and doubts and love others as Christ loves us.  Sacrifice our pride as He sacrificed His life, maybe.  I hope that if you see me looking dressed up, on the one day that I have to be dressed up for something, that you will look past the ironed clothes into my heart and see that I think you are precious.  That when I look at you, I see a creation that God lovingly planned and sculpted long before he created the foundations of the earth.  And if you see me nervously approaching some perfectly manicured, in shape, woman who is dressed like she just stepped out of a magazine, know that I am hoping she will see my heart for her and ignore the stains on my jogging suit! 

Be blessed and know that you are loved.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Always Late

Trauma in the making right there, folks! 
Lifelong fear of bunnies started at age 2! 
Is there a term for 'a phobia of large bunny
costumed person'?
 I'm perpetually late.  It's common knowledge among all family and friends.  I'm late to meetings, late to play dates, late for lunch, late for doctor appointments.  It began with my birth coming 8 days late and has continued as a trend in my adult life.  Now I've never been 8 DAYS late for something... OK, that's not true.  I have.  More than once.

It all began with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.  I have come to view these fictional characters as my nemesis in life.  When Gabby lost her first couple teeth, I remember waking up and hearing, "Mom, the tooth fairy forgot to come!"  Tony and I would look at each other with that deer in headlights look (not a great way to wake up)! 

That was when I began my lying habit...see how one sin just leads right to another?  :)  We told Gabby we were sure the Tooth Fairy just had too many teeth to collect and would be here tomorrow night.  Next morning?  Second verse, same as the first! 

So once when she was really late, about the 3rd tooth or so, she left a note in minuscule handwriting about what happened.  Now it totally worked.  The problem is, Gabby kept the note.  Remembered exactly what was said.  Next time we forgot, she brought up the note and we looked at her blankly.  Oh what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive (always keep copies of fictional correspondence you give your kids!!).

So then comes Easter.  Gabby was about 8 or 9.  Easter had been a beautiful day.  We go to a friends house for dinner that night and they hand Gabby an Easter gift.  I broke out in a cold sweat as I realized, about 10 seconds before Gabby, that we had completely forgotten the Easter Bunny!  Now how in the world do you forget that, you ask?  No idea.  But we did!  I consider the day a success because Gabby didn't realize it until about 7:00 that night. ;)  So a week later, when the Easter Bunny finally made an appearance, he/she (not really sure about that one!) left a note describing how an unnamed bandit kidnapped him and he had to be rescued by Santa and the Tooth Fairy.  Once again we high fived each other when she bought it! 

At some point you'd think we'd have devised some sort of alarm system to remind us.  Do not ask me why it's those 2 that are so hard!  We never forget to prepare for a birthday or Christmas!  Can you picture us on Christmas morning..."Hey kids, we're guessing Santa got held up.  I'm sure he'll bring your gifts tomorrow.  C'mon, let's go eat breakfast."  Pretty sure we'd have a riot!

"Dear Tooth fairy, 
How are you?  We haven't heard from each other in a couple of years!!  Will you give me proof that you're the tooth fairy?  Like one of your shoes or something?  Can you give me lots of money too?  Thanks!
from, Gabby
It was almost a relief when Gabby realized that there was no Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny.  We got one whole year of reprieve.  Then came our little people. 

Between them, Will and Lydia have lost 18 teeth this year alone!  I mean really, for the love of Pete, give us a break!  Now I don't even bat an eyelash when I hear, "MOOOOM, the tooth fairy forgot to come!  Again!"  If I've had a cup of caffeine I answer sweetly to just be patient, she's very busy.  If not, I tell them to go back to bed, they must be dreaming. 

 Tony on the other hand has gotten very smooth.  With Will's last tooth, he said, "Are you sure?  You should look again." while leaning down, swiping the tooth from under the pillow, and depositing a quarter.  "Wow!  She is so fast!  She came while I was in the bathroom!" was Will's response when he looked and found the quarter 10 seconds later.  Yeah, Tony about dislocated something patting himself on the back with that one! 

When Easter rolled around this year, we pondered just telling the kids there was no Easter Bunny.  I mean really, we don't eat sugar so they don't get candy in their baskets.  We want them to focus on the actual meaning of Easter which is Christ, not on getting gifts in a basket from a large bunny.  But we remembered eating peeps, hunting for eggs as kids, and pondering the make-up of that goop inside of Cadbury Eggs; and decided to just go with it.  We were leaving town for Savannah the Friday before Easter, so my brilliant plan was to have it all ready and hidden for when we came on Easter night.  And then I forgot all about it. 

Easter Bunny attacks children for jelly beans!  News at 11!
Yep, you know where this is going.  So we're halfway to Savannah when I remember.  Easter baskets in some box in the basement.  Easter goodies still at the store waiting for me to purchase them.  Hmmm.  So I figure I'll get something while we're in Savannah and have Easter in the hotel room.  Nope.  Forgot about that too. 

Sooo, we arrive home a bit late.  Kids all wake up as soon as we pull in the driveway and immediately start looking for Easter baskets in the house.  Will decides they must be hidden somewhere.  Gabby replays the Easter Bunny kidnapping incidence with such brilliance that Lydia spends the next week worried about the Easter Bunny's safety! 

Everyday that week they got up and hunted all over for their baskets.  And every day I woke up and remembered that we'd forgotten to get them.  ARGH!!  So finally Tony stopped on his way home one night and hit the end of season Easter section of Walmart.  He only spent about $10-$15 on all 3 kids baskets and toys to put in them.  After that I've decided that all future Easter Bunnies are coming a week late!  ;)  Of course we had to hide them in places they hadn't looked yet to maintain the story!    

All I have to say, is the next time I'm late to meet you for coffee, just be glad you aren't one of my kids.  You could be waiting for the Easter Bunny a long time! :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Boys will be boys!

OK, I am learning. Nothing new there, I'm always learning something I thought I knew about but find myself really lacking.  But this boy thing.  It has really been a new arena!  I have studied up on parenting in general, parenting as a Christian, parenting foster children, parenting adopted children, parenting wounded children, parenting the adopted toddler...BUT the boy.  Somehow I neglected that.  

There is a vast ocean of knowledge that I missed!  I taught school for 14 years and wish I could go apologize to every boy I ever taught.  Sorry I didn't know!  

I didn't know that boys can't sit in a chair without falling out at least once a minute.  And they really aren't doing it on purpose (something about balance)!  They really can't help touching the wall as they walk.  Or jumping up on the base of every post, pillar, etc inside and outside the church.  Or asking if they can take the dog out, naked.  Him, not the dog!  

They cannot help asking you 50 questions in 5 minutes.  Even if you have not had a cup of coffee yet.  They really want to know EVERYTHING!  NOW!  And "ask your dad" is not a sufficient answer because each, "ask your dad" lowers my abilities in his eyes!

They cannot resist leap frogging over whoever just knelt down to tie their shoe.  Or asking you, "Would you die if you jumped from here?" While looking out a 4th story window, bridge over the interstate, or some other terrifying height that makes you immediately jump into an explanation of how, yes they would not only die but make you very sad in the process and if they ever did that you will kill them, so don't even think about it!

The number of times my younger brother impaled himself on something, needed something stitched up, or had a dislocated joint never really hit me until my own son climbed twenty or so feet up a pine tree and said, "Hey mom!  Look how high I am!  Sure would be cool if I could fly down!"  I almost threw up! 

I've never realized how much a boy enjoys being naked until I watched my son dance around with glee, without a stitch of clothes on, every night when I send him to take a shower.  I never knew it was a integral part of boyhood to make fart noises, not just under the arm, no, that is not good enough!  Any joint that hinges (knees, elbows) is seen as a challenge to make the best, most authentic fart sounds around.  And if you can teach your 3 and 5 year old sisters to copy you, all the better!

I never realized the inner need of a boy to sword fight.  I know.  I should have realized this one in light of my husband's draw to that kilt-wearin' warrior, William Wallace, in Brave Heart.  I suppose this, and the fact that said husband owns two swords "for decoration", should have been a dead give-away.  But I missed that.  I also missed the fact that the bigger the sword, the better.  A ten foot long branch that fell from a tree last night is apparently a perfect sword with which to attack your 5 year old sister who is holding your plastic ninja sword and swinging it with one hand while using the other to cover her eyes! 

When a boy says, "I didn't mean to"  what he means is, "I was doing ____ (fill in the blank...tossing your glass Christmas ornament in the air, throwing a ball at her head, etc...) just to see what would happen or because it was there.  I didn't mean to shatter that 35 year old ornament or to give her a black eye.  I don't know how that happened! 

I never knew how sensitive a boy is.  How they wear their hearts on their sleeve.  How, while they want to attack, jump, run, wrestle, climb; they also want to snuggle, hug, and know you love them.  No matter what they break. 

They may torment sisters.  And take great joy in potty humor, again teaching it to any who willing younger sisters.  But they are fierce protectors of sisters and all those weaker than them.  They will follow a toddling baby around a play area is they perceive it is in any danger.  And they will threaten any who villains who hurt their sister.  The same sister they had in a headlock and almost knocked out her front teeth just moments before. 

I'm learning a lot about this sensitive, sweet boy.  If you have sons, please share your wisdom!  In the meantime, I'm going to go read Bringing Up Boys.  And hide all breakables!  :)