Friday, September 2, 2016

High School Memories

I'm in the midst of another clean and purge....  I do declare, how is it I get rid of so much stuff and our house is still so cluttered??
This round brought me across a box of my old journals.  I've kept a journal since childhood.  Sporadically, for the most part, except in the midst of my teenage years.  I was pretty faithful to journal about all of the teenage angst and ecstasies I was experiencing.
So I have wasted a lot of time over the last two days, reading those old notebooks.  Some were fun, like the journal I kept when Paul and I started our relationship.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading my thoughts and emotions, and I was so happy to see that none of it has changed.  I still love him, and admire him, and am excited to be around him.  Who says those feelings don't last?  They have for us.  All I can say that God has blessed us.
But reading the journals from my teenage years were not so pleasant, because they brought back all of those emotions.  I'm sure all teenagers feel them.  The feelings of suffocating uncertainty, unrequited love, and the need to feel special to someone, but having no one interested.  And I do mean no one.
I was a confusing teenager, I'm sure.  On one hand, incredibly brash and outgoing, but when it came to other things, painfully shy and introverted.  Walking controversies.  Even within my journal entries - "He likes me!.... He can shove it."  Adding to the loud, feminist exterior, was the fact I was a good couple inches taller than most guys I knew, which made me a formidable female to approach, I'm sure.
Yet I had a deep desire to be special to someone.  And the fact that no one was interested, despite all my silly crushes, made me very familiar with the feelings of rejection and loneliness.
As I read through my journals, I could see God's hand guiding me toward the future He had prepared for me, even though I was totally unaware that my future was right by my side as I was living all of this.  (Paul has been in my life for nearly 30 years!)
The only boyfriend I had, I loved as much as a 17-year-old could.  But after 10 months together, I got the undeniable realization that God wanted me to break up with him.  I undoubtedly heard the silent yet audible voice of God in that matter, speaking right into my mind and heart.  I'm glad I was a sensitive teen when it came to spiritual matters, and I listened to Him.  There was no reason not to marry my high school boyfriend.  He was a really good guy from a nice family.  But that wasn't God's plan for me.
And it shattered my heart and confused me.  Why would God have me break up with him, only to face complete singleness (for 3 years)?  I know my self-worth is found in Christ, but I think women need to know that they are special and beautiful to a man. I had a need to be loved by a boy, but again, this  personality God gave me protected me.  I was too shy to go looking for love.
Even after I fell in love with Paul, he didn't return my emotions for almost two years.  And that was probably the deepest hurt I ever received.  I know now that God put that deep love in my heart for Paul, but during the time he didn't care the same way for me, and I couldn't make myself stop loving him, I was miserable.  I still get choked up remembering how I felt.  Even some movies that are supposed to be lighthearted teen movies remind me of that rejection, and the emotion I can still feel surprises me.
But I know the road God leads us down is for a reason.  I see that now.  And it makes me wonder how to protect our daughters from the same emotions.  I think it is somehow built into women to need to be someone's special person - Zadie already asks who she will marry - but heartbreak doesn't have to be part of the road to happily ever after.
Part of how I want to protect them - all of my kids, but especially my daughters - is from the boyfriend/girlfriend pressures that surround them, even as young as preschool.  (!)  I absolutely refuse to tease Zadie or let her be teased about the boys she plays with.  The result of having two older brothers means she is around a lot of boys.  And she is really good buddies with one of them, but it is so sweet and innocent.  They are both clueless.  And I want it to stay that way.  I don't want him to get teased about "his little girlfriend" and start being a jerk to her.  So I jump all over any of the kids that even hint at anything "lovey" between them.
So we start the journey with a new generation, and teach them from our failures and successes.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Time to Vacuum

When your baby rolls over, and her back looks like the top of an "everything" bagel, you know it's time to vacuum.

(The quote isn't original to me, it's something I saw on Facebook once. And am probably mis-quoting.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Faux Antique Bread Box

(This post is over a year old.  I have no idea why I didn't post it when I typed it up.)
For several months, I've been contemplating the purchase of a bread box.  I trolled Amazon for a style that would fit two loaves of bread.  (We have to buy loaves two by two, as one round of PB&J's will wipe out a half a loaf.)  I found one that kind of sounded like it would fit the bill, and was in my price range ($20), but wasn't convinced enough to order it right away.
After buying bread yet again, and having the mess of new loaves, a partial leftover loaf, plus various homemade items laying in the "bread area" (invariably, one of the children lays something heavy on the loaves of bread, or decides to climb on the counter and puts a knee into it.), I decided.... It was time.
Time to build one.
I had seen these on Amazon, but besides the $100 price, the reviews on how big they were dissuaded me.  It didn't seem like we needed all that space.  But looking at the mess on the counter, I thought.  Yep.  We'll use it.
Call in the talent.  (I could do a lot of these things myself, it's just faster to let him. ;) )
I gave Paul the picture I printed off.  He made some notes and went to work.  And this is how it turned out:
Hand-punched tin (made out of salvaged tin from our old return-air vent). 

I did a punched-tin project once in high school and figured I'd try it again.  I googled patterns, printed it out, and taped it on.  This one was supposed to be the practice run, but I was quite happy with how it turned out!  It took maybe 2-3 hours after all the mommy interruptions.

It really does fit a lot of bread!  In this pic, there is two brand-new loaves of sandwich bread (longer loaves), another half loaf, a couple hamburger buns, and some leftover biscuits.  Fits perfectly!  And looks so pretty and neat all closed up.

Total Cost:  $6
Wood:  scraps laying around
Nails:  on hand
Tin:  scrap
Stain:  on hand
Knob:  $1 (for 2-pack)
Hinges:  $5

Much better than the $100 price tag for the one on Amazon.  And we [could have] got it done faster than waiting for shipping.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Managing My Household

Something I've been struggling to figure out is how to manage my household.  Proverbs 31:27 says, "[A virtuous and capable wife] watches all that goes on in her household, and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness."
I like being lazy.  But I also like a clean house.  So I'm torn.
But now, with the balance of power shifted in favor of messy small people, something must be done.  The house can go from "not that bad" to completely destroyed during the preparation of one meal.  And I've decided it doesn't have to be my job to pick up those messes.
What does a manager do?  Constantly checks on things and delegates jobs.  And "managing" the house is going to require doing something about those areas I avoid because I don't want to deal with the filth - the kids' bedrooms and the downstairs bathroom.  And it takes a lot of my time.
I'm trying to figure out ways to "manage a household".  I've researched online, and found several ideas, but most are in favor of strictly scheduled days and checklists.  I like the idea of this (if I write things down, I can't forget them!), but I hate the strictness.  There are some days that it's okay to be lazy.  When Daddy has worked 7 days straight, and we have a day at home with nowhere to go and nothing to do....  Throw out the schedule!  But then I feel guilty that I didn't do anything and follow my own rules.
So I'm trying to figure out what works in our house.  Each house is different, made of up different personalities and different work and school schedules, so it's taking a while to figure ours out.  Especially since school hasn't started yet.  But I'm trying to get everyone used to keeping the house clean daily before we start that.
I read Proverbs 29 to the kids tonight.  Two verses speak to mothers, children, and discipline.  "To discipline and reprimand a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child." (v 15) "Discipline your children, and they will give you happiness and peace of mind." (v 17)
There are two kinds of discipline.  Discipline can be appropriate punishment, and discipline can also be self-control and responsibility.  And that's something I am in charge of teaching my kids.  When they don't have discipline, it may result in discipline.  I want them to have the self-control to not destroy an entire room, and the discipline to clean up after themselves.  But it takes constant attention and tough love.  Because children are naturally oblivious and selfish.  They don't think the "mess" of their beloved toys is a big deal, and they think Mommy is here, so she'll wave her magic wand and make it disappear.
So we're working on it.  And trying to keep the house clean daily.  And considering what type of list and schedule we need to remind us and keep us sane.

A First Time for Everything

Well, there's a first time for everything.
We are under a "mandatory boil order" in our area until further notice.  A water main burst in town on Saturday night.  I don't know if it was just the fact that it broke, or that it broke during a giant rainburst (2 inches in an hour), or that it broke just outside of the water sanitation plant - overflowing poop ponds? - which spurred the boil order, but we got the notice on our cell phones' "emergency" alert text.  We aren't on city water, but our rural water district purchases their water from the city, and the next day we got a call that we are on a boil notice, too.
So we are boiling water for a household of 7.  Do you know how much water my kids waste each day??
In July, I splurged, and bought two of these for our annual 4th-ish of July Party (it's rarely on the 4th; depending on Paul's work schedule):
They're 2.5 gallons each, and they've been quite handy in our current situation.  I have one on the kitchen counter for drinking, and one on the bathroom counter for washing.  Luckily, what I read is that during a boil order, it's still safe to shower, as long as you don't drink the water.  My kids decided tonight was a good night to go play in the garden, so we needed showers all around.

And thank goodness the water can still be used for laundry!  I guess I can be glad it's an issue of water safety, not supply.  I'm not ready to go all pioneer woman and haul water.
We had 2.5 inches in an hour on Saturday, on top of at least 3 in the week prior to that.  The garden is a giant sink hole, and I'm pretty sure we're going to lose our entire crop of fall beans (which have loads of beans on them, but there is NO WAY I can get to them), and our tomatoes, too.  This is the second time they have drowned this summer; the last week of June just about killed them, but they put on new foliage and came back.  With September just around the corner, there won't be time for them to put on another crop.
During all this, I'm dealing with an infected incision from a surgery I had a month ago.  I knew the main incision wasn't healing right, but I thought it was just a matter of bad closing.  (It looked like they had closed fat into the incision line.)  It has been scabbed over, while the laparoscopic scars healed beautifully, within a week, into thin pink lines.  The incision is only about an inch, and the infection is less than half of it, so I put it off. But over the weekend, it started oozing pus (disgusting I know).   I finally went to see the doctor today, and he said that the infection is because my body is rejecting the dissolving stitches.  The stitches aren't on the surface, but my body is pushing them to the top, like when you get a splinter.  So I have to take antibiotics 3x a day for a week until this stops, along with warm packs (increases circulation) and peroxide every other day.  Lovely!
So this is our exciting beginning of the week!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

I Stopped Caring

One of the best things - and biggest challenges - about having so many young kids, is that it's made me focus on what really matters.
Which means I've had to stop caring about a lot of things......

I used to care that my kids were dressed in nice, new-looking clothes any time we went to town.  I didn't want to look like "one of those" low-income families.
Now I'm just happy if they are wearing clothes at all (Gideon), or at least have clothes on that don't have holes and stains.

I used to think I needed a closet full of nice clothes so I would have choices when I go out.  After all, having lots of clothes shows the world I am classy.
I go out so little, I could wear a different outfit every time I go out, and not repeat for a year.  So bit by bit I'm paring it down to only clothes that I love.  (And having to finally retire my 20-year-old t-shirts.)

I used to pride myself that I was "green" before it was cool.
Now I see that sometimes it's okay to make life easier for myself, and do things like use disposable diapers.  (After all, which is worse - throwing a few paper diapers in the trash every day, or wasting so many gallons of water washing tiny, incomplete loads of laundry several times per week to keep the flies from infesting the diaper pail?)

I used to care that my kids be "perfect" at church, so everyone would know what a great mom I am.
My boys' shirts are always untucked, with crooked collars.  Zadie's hair is usually doing some crazy thing, and I have to pull them down out of a tree when it's time to go home. (Usually while they're simultaneously staging an army invasion with toy guns they smuggled into the van.)
Now I see that the illusion of perfection doesn't matter.  What people see of my family is how we are all the time.  Imperfect but real.

I used to want my kids to have a chance to be involved in all those things that kids "have" to experience:  sports, reading clubs, 4-H, homeschool co-ops.
Now I see that the "home" part of "homeschool" is more important than anything else.  What values do they learn by being herded to the van constantly?

I used to want all my kids to be proficient in a musical instrument.
But forced daily practicing and arguing was killing our love for music.
Now I see that having kids that sing their hearts out in praise to God is more important.

I used to care that my kids would be the brightest, most-advanced student for their age.
Then we had a delay in reading.
Now I see that there is so much more to life and learning than what is learned in the schoolroom.  (How many 8-year-olds do you know that can build a deck, frame a room, and hang sheet rock?)

I used to care that my house was perfect whenever anyone came to to visit.
Now I want people to know that I'm real.  My house isn't always perfect.  I try to make an effort, as a way of honoring our guests, but my house always looks lived in.  Lived in by 7 people.  It will never be a Better Homes & Gardens feature.  But people know that they are welcome in our home any time.

I used to want my kids to just blend in.
But now I want them to be spiritual leaders and be willing to take a stand.  I want my boys to be men, and my girls to be feminine, and not be ashamed of how God made them!

I used to worry that everyone would think my kids are weird.
They are weird.
But so are all of us.  Yet many of us shove our true selves into a box, so that the rest of the world doesn't think we are weird.  I don't want my kids to be cookie-cutter kids.

I used to think that families need to go on vacations every year.
But even though vacations are fun, memorable experiences, do they really make kids better people?  I'd rather teach them about saving and spending money responsibly.  Which means admitting to them:  vacations cost a lot of money, and we don't have a lot of money right now.  So we do things fun and memorable and free - like fishing in the neighbor's pond, and searching for geocaches.

I used to care about our "stuff."
Now I see how little stuff we actually need.  (Did you know you don't actually need a toaster?)

I used to think I needed - deserved - "girl time" and "me time."
I don't remember the last time I had girl time. My "me time" consists of watching non-animated television while folding clothes or balancing the checkbook.
But I don't miss it.
I am living the life God called me to live.  That includes my family.  Do the kids drive me nuts sometimes?  You bet they do.  But I love spending time with them when all of us can be home together.  It is when I feel most complete.  (But I do still love those rare, deep heart-to-heart chats with true friends.)

And finally.....
I used to care what people think about me.
I still do.  I want people to like me.
But I know that what God thinks about me is more important.  As long as I'm following Him, living my life according to the way He's convicted me, it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about me.  I don't answer to them.  I've lost friends and had people reject me because of this, and that has truly hurt.  But I can't change that.  I have to live my life for the One that matters.

So sometimes it's a good thing to just stop caring.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Where Has Summer Gone?!

Isn't summer supposed to be slow and lazy? Ha! Despite having no plans at the beginning of summer, we have rushed through like a freight train!
What all have we done? Let's see, just off the top of my head.....
  • Two garage sales in under two weeks. Not a complete bust, as I made about $60 between the two, but hotter than Hades and disappointing traffic. I'm convinced the weekend before Mother's Day is the best and only weekend to do garage sales.
  • My sister moved. Not that I was able to help nearly as much as I should have and wanted to, but it still took a bunch of time from my abundance of free time. Keith and Lurenda and girls are settling into their new home in the country that's in the perfect location for them!
  • I turned 34. I'm actually feeling less old than I was a few months ago. Sleep does wonders!
  • Nathan and Jacob took a vacation with my parents to Colorado. Mom's aunt and uncle were celebrating their 50th anniversary. There was no way Paul and i could get out there, so they invited the boys. They had a blast, having a "solo" adventure, and my parents said they would have made us proud with their behavior.
  • Doctors's appointments! With having a baby, we knew we would meet our deductible for the year. So we decided I would do something about these horrible varicose veins! (We started the process 4 years and 3 babies ago.) So I've had 3 appointments with the vein doctor, and one with a gynocologist to address some dermoid cysts they found on my right ovary. So I'm having surgery July 27 to remove that. 3 of the last 5 years are July/nursing baby/surgery. We'll start the process with the veins in August.
  • Emergency room. I can't believe we made it to child #4 without going to the emergency room. But it doesn't surprise me that Gideon was the first..... It does surprise me that it took this long for him to land there! Gideon fell getting out of the van and cut his forehead on the bottom of the seat frame. He got 3 stitches, making for an exciting Father's Day evening. (Unfortunately, our "smart" phones gave us wrong information, and told us urgent care was closed, so we'll pay double what was needed.) He's supposed to keep the scar covered for the rest of the summer to keep it from turning purple from sun exposure, so we've been having fun with the "pirate hat."
    • Swimming lessons! This is the first year we've done this. (And if public school running, running, running is like this, COUNT ME OUT!) I've been meaning to look into it for several years, but it has ranked pretty low on my priority list, sadly. Mom encouraged me to enroll them, after watching them in the hotel pool on their trip. So they're learning, and loving it...... And we get daily sobbing from the other two who want to go, too.

That's a brief rundown. From my smart phone, so I apologize for grammatical and proofing errors. It is randomly underlining, etc, as I type. Not to mention the blasted auto-correction! But nursing + computer aren't compatible, so we'll see how I do from my phone.

I'll see if I can attach a few pictures...... I won't even attempt to order or caption them from a phone!

g completely