Monday, July 25, 2011

Love and Marriage...

When you read the title, you need to think it like the intro to Married with Children. I didn't watch that show, not my thing, but I have heard the intro enough times to think it while I type those words.

Anyway, this is a bit of a continuation from yesterday's post.

As I watched the wedding take place this past weekend, I thought of this young couple and the commitment they were making.

I thought about the twinkle in their eyes, the love in their smiles, the radiant glow around them as they faced one another to say those vows.

I found myself both smiling with them, yet with tears in my eyes.

If only every day of their lives could be like this day was.

But alas, it won't.

Some days you will wake up and roll over and think, "Oh, it is you again."

And sometimes life will seem overwhelming when a child (or two or three) is crying, the bills are scattered across the countertop, the dinner is burned on the stove.

And sometimes, oftentimes, he will let you down. And you will let him down.

At times, your heart will feel restless as you read about friends' adventures in travel or trips to the mall.

Some moments, you will feel your skin crawl as you step over yet another one of his dirty socks or hear that same joke for the hundredth time (which wasn't funny the first time around).

There will be days you will go to bed, two feet from one another, yet feel utterly alone.

And other times you will exist merely as roommates, or so it feels.

When those moments happen, and they will happen no matter HOW much you love one another, stop.

Stop and remember.

Remember this day.

Remember the love you feel at this moment for one another.

Remember the tenderness of your touch and how you feel when he holds your hand.

Remember the vows.

Remember the promises you made to one another.

Not promises to love each other only on the good days.

But a promise to love each other in sickness and in health. In good times and in bad times. In poverty and in wealth.

Till death do you part.

Hold on to those promises even when it feels like that is all you are holding onto.

Hold on to God's faithfulness for He will never let you down.

Hold on to your husband's hand even when you want to push it away.

Hold on to the love you feel for one another today, at this moment.


Don't hold on too tight.

Because with time, with commitment, with effort...

That love will grow.

It will grow bigger.



And 15 years later, that love you feel will be a giant oak compared to the acorn you felt on your wedding day.

I promise, it will.

Till Death Do Us Part...

More later,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

From This Day Forward...

Tonight I attended the wedding of one of my co-workers. Lauren accompanied me. (I had originally thought all six of us would go but due to the time of evening, I thought it was best to pare down our part of the guest list.)

I had a wonderful time. Several co-workers were there. Getting to visit outside of school in the summer is quite a treat. I just really do like the people I work with. We are all very different but that makes us a pretty strong team. A few of us even got up and danced (with myself, I use the term loosely :). It was just a beautiful evening. I wish I could have spent it with my husband too but he was home with the others (which includes the pup).

But this is not really what the post is about.

No, this post is about marriage.

As I watched my friends face each other tonight, her dressed in a beautiful white dress, him all "spiffed" up in his suit, so many thoughts came to mind. Almost fifteen years ago (in October), we were the ones standing before family and friends as we exchanged rings and vows.

I remember.

I remember feeling like a princess.

I remember feeling like we were the only two people in the room.

I remember feeling like my heart would pound out of my chest as I changed my marital status, my name.

I remember feeling like I was the most blessed woman in the world.

Now here it is fifteen years later.

I don't feel quite like a princess anymore. Maybe the ugly stepsister. Not that I ever truly had an hourglass figure, but what little figure I did is now hidden behind the flab that seems to come easier as I get older. There are wrinkles around my eyes and possibly even a gray hair or two. I just try not to look closely.

Only two people in the room? Not hardly. We now have four kids and a puppy with us almost all of the time. It is rarely quiet here and the conversations we have are often interrupted by quarrels and tattles.

My heart? I don't know if it pounds. I hardly have time to think about it. But I do know it still goes pitter patter. Maybe not every single time I see him. But when I see him unexpectedly, I feel it. My name? It has been my name for so long now, I hardly remember when it wasn't.

And the blessed part?

I still feel like I am the most blessed woman in the world.

So to my coworker/friends...

May the love you feel today continue to grow.

May God bless your marriage, your household, your future.

May you always remember today and truly believe it was one of the greatest days of your life.

From this day forward...

More later,

Friday, July 22, 2011

Long Overdue

As a mom, I realize more and more each day how much gratitude I should have had all of my life for my own parents. I mean, I have always appreciated them and loved them. But I don't think I truly grasped what they have done for me. And the "thank you" hastily written in Mother's Day and Father's Day cards is not nearly enough. There is actually NOT enough in the world I could do or say to show my gratitude. But of course, I will try. Here are some thank you's long overdue...

  • Thank you to my parents (mom especially) for allowing me to fill our house with friends, especially when I had giggly girls over for sleepovers. We just had our first "real" sleepover this past weekend for one of our girls. I was exhausted. (Getting the new puppy the day before was probably not the wisest move though she kept the girls entertained. :) I cooked and cleaned and cooked some more and cleaned some more. Then there is just the job of supervising, making sure everyone is safe and happy, etc. I wish I could be cool like my mom.
  • Thank you for getting us a puppy, a busy one at that, when I was in junior high. Now that I am a puppy mom, I understand how much work they are. Oh, my kids help, and I probably did too. But getting up in the middle of the night, diligently taking the dog out, etc. is NO easy task, especially while still being the "mom", wife, and housekeeper.
  • Thank you to my parents (dad especially) for the trips as a child. I remember trips to Disney World and to the World's Fair. I never knew how much work went into trips from reservations to mapping the trip (and back then without the aid of the Internet) to packing to the actual travel. And to my dad, I especially apologize for the giggling fits my sister and I would have in the hotel room when we were on the road. Now as a mom, I understand how tired you were not to mention how important it is to not disturb the people next to us.
  • Thank you for making it look easy. Or maybe I shouldn't thank you for that. :) You made parenthood look easy. I don't remember you ever looking overly stressed or reading parenting books. You just knew what to do. Unfortunately, that gene wasn't passed on to me...
  • Thank you to my mom for knowing how to get any stain out. I still call frequently for laundry and cooking questions.
  • Thank you for chauffeuring me to my various activities as a child. Spending time behind the wheel, driving all over the place, when you would MUCH rather be at home is a sacrifice. I didn't know that until now.
  • Thank you for answering my many questions and "What if's". I now realize exactly how much energy and brain power that took!
  • Thank you for not screaming every time you tripped over a pair of my shoes, swept the floor after I ate, found socks within a few feet of the laundry basket. I now understand how much willpower that must have taken.
  • Thank you for the family traditions you passed on. I completely understand passing them on and make every effort to do that in my own family but again, it is a lot of work.
  • Thank you for loving me in my most selfish days, on the days I was most unlovable, and when I thought I knew more than you.
  • Thank you for loving me for who I was rather than who you wanted to be. That doesn't come naturally (or at least to me) but I am thankful for the role model you provided so I (hopefully) do the same.
I know there is SO much more I could give thanks for, but I need to head to bed. This was a good start though...

More soon,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gimme a Break

I have said for some time that parenting is the toughest job I have ever had, even tougher than the year I cleaned houses for the summer. A lot of people think that teaching kindergarten is a tough job. And some days it is. But in many ways, it is MUCH easier than this whole motherhood gig.

At school, I teach these 20 precious children. I teach them academic skills like reading, writing, counting. And hopefully along the way I teach them some life skills like being responsible, self-control, and cooperation. Now even when it is evening, these students flash through my mind as I try to figure out how to help them be successful in the classroom. But overall, once 3 o'clock comes, they are no longer my "responsibility".

Now my own 4 precious children...they are ALWAYS my responsibility. Even when they aren't with me, like at school, they are my responsibility. I am responsible for every aspect of their lives...physical needs (for some reason, they like to eat), emotional needs (hugs, words of encouragement), spiritual needs (teaching about God, praying together), social needs (getting along with others), financial needs (school supplies, braces), character (patience, love, honesty), and the list goes on. That is a HUGE job. Times four!

Now, throw in one perfectionist personality, and all it equals is failure.

Yes, failure.

Try as I might, I cannot be a perfect mom.

I never call my children the right name. Ever.

I sometimes forget to turn in permission slips, lunch money, and other school notes.

I turn down camps and other social activities when I am feeling overwhelmed with all that is going on.

I sigh. Alot. See, I just did it. And there are times when I am being asked questions or hear "Mama" that I sigh. Loudly. Alot.

I also have been known to roll my eyes.

I sometimes turn on a movie for the kids just to have a little peace and quiet.

We probably eat out too much.

Most of my children do not eat veggies no matter what I try. One won't even eat fruit.

I require a "quiet" time every afternoon so I can take a nap (that only works in the summer and on weekends).

I sometimes nag.

And I sometimes yell. Not often but there are days I am at the end of my rope.

On occasion, I have called my husband and begged him to come home and help me deal with the masses.

And a time or two I have wished for a minor, painfree ailment that would put me on bedrest. In isolation would be even better.

I don't always know how to handle discipline/behavior issues.

My kids are not perfect.

I am not either.

And every night, I go to bed thinking about all of the "wrong" things I did. In my mind, they are mountains. I worry. I fret. I beat myself up.

A few days ago though I realized something.

I don't do everything wrong.

I think I have mentioned I am reading "Raising Your Spirited Child" which I plan to share more on later.

We have not one but two spirited children (and another one I would classify as "spunky".

Some days are challenging.

And while I don't always handle the things the right way, a lot of times I do.

Like calmly explaining the rules of the household which are the same rules we have always had...sometimes my children seem to forget them anyway.

Or responding to a screaming child with a quiet, calm voice even if I feel anything BUT on the inside...

Or when I am settling dispute #56 for the day.

Or answering question #675...before noon. With minimal sighing.

Or grabbing a few towels as my child spills his/her milk (right after I warned that child that it would spill if they kept playing...).

Or picking up scrap paper and craft items that just mysteriously finds its way into my living room or on my table.

Or even when I stick to my guns on a consequence even in the face of wailing and gnashing of teeth (in hopes that next time we will have a different outcome).

Or when my nice morning at home ends up being a morning of errands, all children related (appointments, camps, etc...).

I am not perfect.

But I don't do it wrong all of the time.

In fact, some days I am not so sure there are too many qualified for the job I have (with this crew anyway :).

I am learning to remember the things I do right.

I am giving myself permission to give myself a break.

How about you?

More later,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Freeze Frame

Yesterday was just one of those days.

It wasn't like it was an exceptional kind of day. We weren't in Hawaii or at DisneyWorld or even at a fancy restaurant. We weren't celebrating a birthday, an anniversary, or any major holiday. We didn't go on an incredible hike or spend the day on the lake (though my hubby would have LOVED that). It was just an ordinary day.

An ordinary day I would I could have frozen in time.

We got up, got to church, then came home. Ordinary.

While my big boys took care of our lawn, the little ones and I all had good naps. Ordinary.

I sure do love a good nap though, and I don't always get one.

Then we had dinner. I had some helpers. Lauren helped me wrap the shrimp with bacon; Maria helped me make the white sauce for the potatoes.

Dinner was delicious.

I have mixed feelings though about the fact that two of the four kids have developed a taste for shrimp. We have always grilled chicken for the kids, then we chow down on the shrimp. Well, Lauren and Joshua both have decided that shrimp is pretty tasty. That means not very much leftovers for Mom the next day (not to mention, Lauren was trying to put "dibs" on the leftovers before dinner was even over)!

Anyway, after dinner, we chilled for a bit (if that is possible in this crazy hot weather).

Then we made snow cones.

The kids somehow link "snow cones" and "outside" in their minds.

So we took our cool treats to the backyard. Mark and I enjoyed a little time on the porch swing while the kiddos played in the yard.

And occasionally their laughter and giggles would be drowned out by our own laughter; at times, I had tears running down my face. (In case you have never met my family, they can be quite comical and one in particular takes pride in being a comedian or a clown...)

Like I said, nothing extraordinary. Actually rather ordinary. And not even perfect...there were scuffles and quarrels throughout the day among the siblings.

But nonetheless, I wanted to freeze time.

I want to always remember how much love, how much joy, how very blessed I felt at that time just in case I ever forget.

Now where is that "pause" button?


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sanity Savers

Each summer, it takes us a little time to find our "normal". Of course, there isn't much normal during the summer. We are usually busy with things like camps, swim lessons, trips, etc. And that is part of the fun of summer. Not having a set schedule. But we still have to have a little order. Or for me, sanity savers.

So this year I am trying a few new things or at least new in a long while...

One problem we have had (or I have had) is that Joshua wakes up early. That is probably due to the sunlight that streams in his windows which have large open arches above them. And when Joshua wakes up, he thinks everyone should wake up. "Can I get up now?" we would hear as we tried to squeeze in a few more snores. I have taught the other children that unless we have somewhere to be, I should not see them before 8 a.m. The funny thing is I know when it is 8 because I hear doors opening. Until that point, they are to be in their room doing what they want QUIETLY.

While Joshua is a smart fellow, he hasn't figured out the whole time thing yet. I looked at some nightlights that would indicate when he could get up. There are some really neat ones out there. But I could not justify spending the money (did I mention I have at least three kids heading toward braces)? One day that light bulb popped into my head. A plan. And all it took was two pieces of paper and a sheet protector.

Green means go. If Joshua sees green paper peeking under his door, he can come out of his room. This applies in the morning and at nap time.

Red means stop. In the mornings, he can play in his room quietly but cannot come out if the paper is red. At naptime, it means he has to be on his bed. The funny thing is he stays in his bed in the morning even, though he may be singing or repeating lines from movies (word for word).
Believe it or not, it works. We did have to review the rules on the second day when he yelled (before time), "When is someone changing this paper?". But since then he has followed it to a T. I actually think he was distressed in Kansas because I DIDN'T take the paper! He is my routine kid. Oh, the nice thing is I can as eager siblings to turn the paper for me. They don't have to open the door (which will wake him up if he is sleeping), just slide it under. Who knew?

Another new thing for the summer that has been a sanity saver for me is the "daily schedule". Not really a schedule, but a highlight of the day. I realize it would be more "green" of me to write it out every day on a markerboard but it is SO much easier to type it and print. We do recycle though. :)

Anyway, each day I list the breakfast possibilities (they cannot have waffles every day...I cannot afford that), the lunch possibilities (I cannot endorse hotdogs daily which one child would eat), our dinner plans, and the chores of the day. When they ask what is for dinner, I simply say, "Have you read the schedule?" Another benefit I hadn't anticipated is that I list leftovers as a lunch possibility. For the first time, leftovers are getting eaten. One day they raced to the fridge for the leftovers from the meal the previous night. And Maria has become our leftover queen. It has also helped to have the chores listed. I used to forget whose turn it was to do what (empty the dishwasher, refill the dishwasher, take out recycles are the everyday chores). I have also started listing "additional chores" which is an extra chore, usually an organizational job (like find three stuffed animals you no longer want) or some household job to learn (like vacuuming). Something simple but it has freed up all of the times I used to answer, "What can I have for lunch again?" Oh, one thing I hope to add next week is a "Mom" time...each day a child will get thirty minutes of my time for whatever...reading a book, playing a game, etc. Not that I won't do some of those things otherwise, but this will be a little extra time, dedicated time. Hopefully it will help me ease some of the "Will you play with me?" requests I get all day long.

And finally, this isn't new but it has been a while since I have done it. Hunter and Lauren put away all of their own clothes and they choose their own clothes to wear each day. Maria puts away easy things like socks and pajamas, but I put away her clothes. I usually pair tops/shorts; we have a drawer for outfits I have created. That way, she can choose her outfit within reason. Well, the one child who had no plan was Joshua. Either Mark or I just went in and chose an outfit in the morning. The only problem is that sometimes he wants to get dressed when I don't feel like going in and putting together an outfit. But he wasn't ready for Maria's system because he wouldn't get that the clothes are folded TOGETHER. So, time to bring out the gallon ziplocks. I just put together outfits in there (leaving the nicer clothes in the other drawers to have for church and outings). Each day, he goes in, chooses a bag, and pulls out the outfit. He leaves the empty bag in the drawer so I can fill it later. It gives him some choice within reason and lets me have another minute or two reading the paper at breakfast...
So, thus far, these are my sanity savers for the summer.

What are yours?