Family 2015

Family 2015

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Thankful for my struggles...

That's a weird title 2 days before Christmas.  This is the most exciting time of the year!  The kids are bouncing off the walls, the presents are almost ready, the menus are planned, the parties are about to begin...this is not the time to think about struggles!

Well, I can't help it.  I'm not depressed or anything, quite the contrary -  I am caught up in the moment just like the kids are.  But, as I sit here on this early morning, babysitting the cooking turkey while everyone else sleeps, I can't help but think about the journey of my life so far.  I actually feel like I have lived 4 or 5 different know, the "growing up" life, the "young adult" life, the "newly married" life, the "young kids" life and now I'm in the "many kids of different ages, going back to school" life. ;)

I can't say that my life has looked like I expected it to when I was 18 and just spreading my wings.  I expected it to be easier, more cut and dried.  I expected a lot more choices to be black and white and a lot more events to be predictable.  I expected to always be understood and appreciated.

But, I have realized something along the way.  Every time I run into a situation that is not what I expected, I have a choice.  I can freak out or I can just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I can bemoan my idea of what should have been or I can embrace what is.  I can be disappointed or I can be excited.

Because the truth is, no matter what comes my way today, I am alive and breathing.  I am blessed immeasurably by the wonderful people in my life and I have, everyday, the chance to craft a legacy.  Think about the people whose lives we love to remember.  Do we say of them, "they had it easy.  Everything they had or accomplished was handed to them.  How inspiring!"  No.  We all love the stories of those who had to overcome so much to stand where they are.  We love those stories because they give us hope, because we see ourselves in their shadows.

I wonder, is it always necessary to start with ashes before one sees beauty?  Maybe not.  But, I do know this, beauty that springs from ashes is magnificent indeed.

Merry Christmas, wonderful friends.  I am glad I get to journey with you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Little Break to Say...

So, this will be brief because I'm doing homework, but I had to take a break to pass on these few thoughts.

I'm writing a paper right now and the research that I am doing for it is, on the one hand, breaking my heart and on the other making me feel proud of what I am able to offer my kids.  I know that parenting is often accompanied by heavy doses of guilt and wondering if you are doing a good job.  It is always a relief to have someone tell you that you are on the right track.  So, that's what I'm going to do. :)

Here's a question.  Tonight, do your kids have a place to lay down and go to sleep that is stable and familiar to them?  I don't care if it's a fancy sleigh bed in a mansion or a well-used bunk bed in a mobile home.  Do they have a place to lay down and go to sleep that is stable and familiar to them?

If you answered yes, congratulations!

That one thing in the life of a child is SO important that it almost cannot be overstated.  For your child to have a stable place that they come home to at night does so much for their psyche and well-being.  It gives them the courage to spread their wings and launch out when they know that they can always land back in the nest.

So, whether your nest is fancy and full of the all the latest gadgets or simple and basic, the fact that it exists for your child is a wonderful gift.  They will draw much strength from it in the years to come and it will help them to become healthy and functioning adults.

There is some good news for you, my friends. :)  Now, I'm off to finish my paper...

Happy Thanksgiving in case I don't see you before then!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wow - it actually is November!

I was joking when I said, in my last blog, that I probably wouldn't see you all until November.  But, what can I say?  October was a very full month indeed.

Over the last month, the spirit of blog has floated around me a few times, but he understood when I had to shoo him away.  Last night, however, he came to me in earnest while we were at the dinner table. So, although I still need to grade papers before we start school this morning and I have 3 hours of class today, I will comply. :)

Much of what I have been studying in school up to this point has been either material I already knew or at least had heard of before.  It hasn't been terribly tricky in terms of content, but I have to say it has had its way with my heart.

I know that the image of a social worker is someone who sits behind a desk and hands out government aid (that we pay for!!) to lazy people who just want to leech off the system.  But.  There is so much to this profession.  It encompasses hundreds of fields and there are social workers in nearly every walk of life.  Schools, prisons, hospitals, adoption agencies, nursing homes, just to name a few.  The reach of social work is broad and the rules and ethics that govern it endeavor to wrap their arms around humanity.

But, even the profession of social work - with how far-reaching it is in scope - acknowledges that the best thing would be if humanity didn't need it so much.  The best thing would be if the children in our society and every society would get what they needed from their nuclear family.

It was this knowledge that was swimming through my brain last night as we gathered around the table and ate our chicken and mashed potatoes and corn.  The kids were laughing and telling us stories from their day.  I was engaged, but I was also sort of hovering above the table in spirit and thinking about how very grateful I was for it all.

Grateful, that though I am no gourmet cook, I had that food to prepare and my kids bodies were being nourished at the same time their souls were.  Grateful that, with God's grace, we have managed to create a family unit that is generally supportive and loving toward the other members, a place we all belong and feel safe.  Grateful that everyone is getting a good education.  Grateful that my kids have so many mind-expanding and enriching opportunities.  Grateful that they have a father who is involved in their life.

I look forward to one day (I try not to think about how very far away that day really is) being able to use the tools I am being equipped with to reach out and help humanity in some small way.

But, in the meantime, I will continue to gather my family around the dinner table and know that that is equally, if not more important, than what I will accomplish one I have a degree.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I Miss All of You and Other Musings

It is nearly the end of September - how in the heck did that happen???  Of course I know that is the way of the passage of time - slow in the moment, lightning quick in retrospect.

I have enjoyed, really enjoyed, these last few weeks.  Homeschooling is going surprisingly well. (homeschooling older kids is easier, friends.  subjects are harder, but it is immeasurably easier).  The boys are settling into their new school and, for the most part, loving it.  I am really loving that my  brain is engaged again. Don't be offended, stay at home parents of preschoolers, I am not saying you don't use your brain.  I'm just know what I'm saying.

Anyway, I realized last night, that as much as I love my "new life," I miss the old one too.  I know that this is cyberspace and I'm not even really sure who reads my rantings, but sharing them does make me feel more connected to the world.


I'm going to make an effort to keep blogging atleast once a week.  Now that I've said that, you probably won't hear from me again until November, but I am going to try.  :)

For now, I will leave you with this.  I like all of you.  A lot.  I like hearing about your days and your kids and your jobs and your struggles and your victories.  And I like sharing mine.  Living life without sharing it almost feels like not living it.  So, please, keep me updated and don't be offended if I go a few weeks without returning the favor. 

I think that when we all get to the point in our lives that we are not so busy (that time does come, right??), we will be glad that we walked the road of life together.  Even if we walked it using our fingers on a keyboard.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Schizophrenia, or What I Should Have Done in the First Place...

When I got the word a few weeks ago that Kennedy and Reagan would not be allowed to attend Goodrich, the thought of keeping McKinley at home as well crossed my mind.  It entered briefly and was quickly shoved out the other side of my head by the sheer force of my fear.

"I wasn't going to homeschool anyone this year," I reasoned, "I am going back to school!!!  I would never have decided to do both at the same time!  I have no choice about the older 2, but McKinley has a spot!  I simply cannot school all 3 of them and do everything else."  Case closed.  Yah, right.

The first 5 days of school haven't been awful or anything, but here is what I discovered.  I leave the house at 7:20, drop the boys off and then have to drive to Goodrich and kill a half an hour before I can drop McKinley off.  I rush home and don't get there until 9:00.  On Tues/Thurs that leaves me just an hour to get Kennedy and Reagan started with school before I rush off to class.  Same cycle in the afternoon.  Leave at 2:20, get home at 4:00.   Rush off to dance.  On the night I teach, I have no time to give the older girls any additional help until after I get home.  When I'm exhausted and crabby...and have homework of my own. 

Also, McKinley was having a bit of a rough time.  I didn't think about the difficulties of breaking into a 5th grade group that has mostly been together since Kindergarten.  Not to mention, do I want her making tons of close friends in a community that is that far away?  Do I want to have to drive up there multiple times a week when she is older and has sports/band/football games/dances?  No.  I don't.  It would have been different if all 3 girls were there and the oldest could have started helping with the driving next year...but, as it stands now, doesn't make sense.

So, I will add a 3rd child to our homeschool starting tomorrow.  (When I finally arrive at a conclusion, I don't waste any time).  I will gain two hours in each and every day.  I will save hundreds of miles on my vehicle and hundreds of dollars in gas.  I will have more time to actually teach and much less time to sit in my van waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. 

I will enjoy this year with my girls and we will wait and see together what next year holds for all of us.  And next year, when crunch time comes, I will listen to my heart and not my fear.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Of Pooh Bear and Empathy...

I really enjoy the differences in my kids.  It is truly astonishing to me sometimes that all 5 of them are the product of me and my husband.  I mean, we are the same 2 people, how are the kids so vastly different??  But, they are.  And it is fun.  :)

I think sometimes about the age old question of  "nature or nurture?"  That debate must go on and on and on and on because there is not one correct answer.  Sure, I like to think that some of the qualities my kids possess are because of the environment they are being raised in, but some of who they are has obviously been stamped on their DNA since before they ever laid eyes on me.

I have a couple of kids who are particularly empathetic which is wonderful, but also very, very difficult for me.  It's not that I don't want them to care about others, I do!  I just don't want it to be so hard on them to see other people struggle.

I'll give you an example.

Last night, the boys watched the Bee Movie which Pierce had never seen.  There is a part in the movie when a character shoots Pooh Bear with a tranquilizer dart so they can steal his honey.

 Pierce was devastated.

He said to me through his tears, "But now, Pooh Bear won't have any honey.  And he will be hungry.  Why would they do that??  They were so mean to Pooh Bear!"  They he wiped his eyes and tried to stop crying.  It took a good 20 minutes before he was over it.

Oh, my poor, sweet boy.  I shudder to think what will happen when you realize that there are people in our own country who don't have enough to eat.  :(   Kids you know that don't have the support of a loving family.  Kids in other places who are getting sick because they don't own a pair of shoes and worms get in through their feet.

It gives me pause.  He has that heart for a reason and I know it.  Perhaps when he is older he will champion the cause of stamping out hunger  Or maybe he will go to other countries and put shoes on the feet of those children. 

I have no doubt that a heart like that is a gift.   I know that empathy is a strength. 

But, wow, I'm really glad I have a couple of kids that can just laugh at Pooh Bear and get on with their day.  :)


Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Amazing Day.

Well, actually, it didn't start out as The Amazing Day.  It started out as The Pretty Damn Awful Day.  Here's the story of the metamorphosis.

I found out Wednesday that my 2 older girls were denied administrative release by the city of Flint.  This means that although I have busted my hump and jumped through hoop after hoop since April in order to get them accepted by the Goodrich Schools, that they will not be able to attend there in the fall.  Flint just said no. We won't let them go.

It does not matter that my children have never attended Flint schools and never will.  It does not matter that I gave birth to them and have cared for them everyday that they have been alive. It does not matter that I own a home and pay my taxes and am generally a good, law-abiding citizen.  The people sitting behind the desks at the Flint District, who have never laid eyes on my children, still have the power to keep them from going to the school I want them in. 

However, as completely outrageous as that is, it is not what this blog is about.

This blog is about beauty from ashes.  It is about small miracles.  It is about finding a way where there seems to be no way.

For several hours after I got the news, I was pretty despondent.  The girls in question are going to be in the 8th and 10th grades.  Homeschooling them is not going to be as easy as it was when they were in Kindergarten and 2nd.  Teaching phonics was a piece of cake.  Teaching French won't be, especially since I don't speak it.  Helping them master the multiplication tables was easy.  Chemistry?  Oy.  Not to mention, I am going back to school in the fall.  Double oy.

I immediately started researching online charter options, which was unbelievably depressing.  I finally laid my head down on my desk and prayed.  It wasn't an awesome, flowery, confident prayer.  It was more along the lines of, "Oh.God. Help. me."

Then, I lifted up my eyes and turned to the comfort of facebook.  Imagine my surprise when I saw a message from a homeschooling friend asking if I knew of any homeschooled highschoolers that might be interested in taking a French I class?  I messaged her immediately, "Yes, Kennedy would!!!"  I briefly relayed the story to her of what had happened and she shot me another message.  "Oh, there's a homeschool Chemistry class too!  And I have an extra set of books!  Also, I have an Algebra II text and Teacher's manuals - could you use those?"

It was like a thousand ton weight was lifted off my shoulders.  In a matter of minutes, I could see how it would all work out.  What had seemed impossible just moments before now seemed entirely possible and maybe even a little bit fun.  With those two major hurdles out of the way, the rest of the planning will be relatively easy.  Sure, it will still be a challenge, but we can do this.  We may even love this.

You can say it was a coincidence, but I know it wasn't.  I know that I know that in that moment God looked down on me and had compassion and reached into the middle of my struggle and provided a solution.  I know there is still a lot of work to be done and it will indeed be a challenging year.  But, the gift of a new perspective is priceless.

It really was The Amazing Day.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

One Day at a Time...Sweet Jesus.

What?  This title sounds familiar?  Well, I guess that could be because this is the story of my life.

I have a lot of things, many things, a plethora of things in my life right now that require the "one day at a time" mantra.  Nic's school, my school (gulp), the kid's school and various activities (gulp times 5), work, house cleaning (ha), cooking, paying bills, trying to have fun while doing it all...these are all things that need to be done over and over and over and over for many years to come.  It is way too overwhelming to think about the ultimate goals.  They are way too far away and way too much has to happen between now and then in order for them all to be accomplished.  I need some caffeine in order to muster the brain power to fathom it all.

No.  I will only allow myself to think so far down the road, otherwise I will spontaneously combust.

So, it pays to remind myself, all the time, that the joy is in the journey.

The joy is in the journey.

The joy is in the journey.

Ok.  So, today I will just rejoice that I completed a math boot camp and then tested out of my math requirement completely.  I will rejoice that Nic has year 1 of his master's under his belt.  I will glory in the fact that my oldest kid has completed driver's ed.  That all of my kids are potty trained. (!) 

And I will remind myself that I get to do all of this with the people I love most.  That's what matters anyway  :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Communication - at 1 AM.

My husband is a GREAT communicator.  No, he really is.  I have often had conversations with friends where they express frustration that their husband isn't good at talking to them, they have to drag things out of him, he doesn't even LIKE to talk, etc.  I love to encourage people about their marriages, to be able to say, "Hey, I understand... this is how we handle that... yep - we've been down that road" and stuff like that.  But, in regards to encouragement for this issue, I got nothin'.  Your husband doesn't talk much?  I can't relate.

So, it shouldn't surprise me, then, that my youngest son - aka my husband's "mini-me" - inherited this trait.  He also inherited his Dad's night owl which will be a huge battle come Septemeber 4th, but I digress.  Anyway, Nic is currently out of town for a week of residency at his master's program and so I am enjoying having the bed all to myself.  Sort of.  Last night, around 1 am, Pierce crawled in bed with me.  He hadn't been asleep yet (I am not lying about the night owl business) and was needing to talk about his "nervous."

I am not a night owl.  At all.  But, in keeping with trying to be a good Mom and all that, I made myself wake up and listen.  "What are you nervous about, buddy?"

"Well, I just don't think I'm ready to handle Kindergarten.  I mean, what if there are bad kids in my class?  I will probably miss my teacher from young 5's.  How will I buy lunch if I don't have money?  Who will I sit with at lunch?  What if I don't want to play what the other kids are playing at recess?  Also, even when I tell my heart that you will pick me up pretty soon, it still misses you."

OMG.  I am GLAD that I never have to wonder what is bothering my son, but are you kidding me???  At 1 am???  7 weeks before school starts???

But, I could hear the earnestness in his little voice, so we talked.  About all of it.  By the end, he seemed reasonably comforted and was finally able to fall asleep.

But then I was wide awake and just laid there for a while listening to him breathe.  It is a tricky business, this parenting.  That is a PERSON laying there next to me, and 4 others sleeping peacefully at other places in the house.  They are so intricate.  So individual.  So amazing.  So complicated.  It is so overwhelming to try to guide them.

It drives me to my knees and makes me so grateful that I'm not trying to do this alone.  Nope, the creator of the universe is also the creator of each of them and He will show us the way.


Monday, July 9, 2012

The Silver Lining

I'm sure if we are friends on facebook, you already know about the "Great Power Outage of 2012."  But, I'm going to talk about it anyway.  :)

We took a little family vacation up to Caseville last week and returned home Thursday around 11:00 in the morning.  The family that watched our house had already texted me to let me know that there had been a storm and the power was out.  I was mildly irritated, but was doing a pretty good job of keeping my happy on.

We got home and unloaded, got Reagan off to start her first day of dance intensive and then I called Consumers.  "Our best estimate of power restoration is Sunday, July 8th at 11:30 pm."  I did a mental double-take.  "Sunday night?!  As in 3 1/2 days from now?!!  It's supposed to be 100 degrees for the next 3 days!!  We all need a shower!!  All of our laundry is full of sand!!  I want to make some coffee!!  Waaa, waaa, waaa!!"  Of course, the automated person at Consumers didn't care about my need for coffee and presumably didn't mind that we were all covered in beach funk.  That's the nice thing about electronic people, they don't judge.

So, I tried (probably unsuccessfully) to break the news to the kids gently.  Then, I broke out my phone and griped to the one place that might care - facebook.

We went out for dinner and when we returned, I had a fb message from a friend I had seen one time in the past ten years.  "Come over!!  We have plenty of room!  And a big washer and dryer!  And A/C!"  Now, this friend has 4 kids.  We have 5.  Did I mention I have seen her ONCE in the last 10 years?  But, no matter, we packed up our kids and dirty laundry, left the dogs plently of food and water and headed out to their house.

I can see the wheels in your brain working over-time.  "I can't believe you did that.  Wouldn't that be so awkward?  What if your kids, who have really never met, don't get along?  That's kinda crazy."  Well, maybe you have never come home from vacation in 100 degree weather and had no power.  It brings out all kinds of crazy, let me tell ya...

But, here's what happened.  We had a wonderful time with them.  They have a son who is right in between Carter and Pierce in age - the 3 of them took off like old pals and we literally almost never saw them.  Our girls meshed nicely with theirs.  Liz and I and Roger and Nic took up like we had just seen each other at church last week.  We felt perfectly comfortable, welcome and were sad to go when we got news that our power had come back on Saturday afternoon. 

It was an amazing silver lining in that cloud.  I will always have fond memories of the "Great Power Outage of 2012," and, from now on, we will certainly make the effort to get together with the Conn's more than once every 10 years.  :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

I think Summer is FINALLY here...

Yah, yah, we have been out of school for two weeks already, but what a 2 weeks it has been!  We were just as busy, maybe busier, than we were at the end of school.  But, life happens like that sometimes and you just have to do what you have to do.  I have been soooo looking forward to today though...the beginning of relative quiet and calm for a few weeks.

Once when I just had the girls, I heard a Mom of older kids make the comment that she wished her kids were little again so she could actually stay at home and get something done.  I smiled politely, but inwardly I was seething.  Apparently, she doesn't remember what it's like to have a gaggle of small children at home, I thought huffily.  Get something done indeed!  I can't even go to the bathroom by myself! 

Now, I get exactly what she meant.  During the school year, it is unheard of that I stay at home all day.  It literally never happens and often I have to pick up and leave the house 3, 4, 5 or more times to get the kids where they need to be and keep up with all that is required of me to run this house.  Let me tell ya, it is HARD to focus on finishing a task when you are constantly required to stop and leave the house.  So, I apologize to that Mom so long ago for my internal snarkiness - you were so right, dear lady.

So, summer is amazing for me.  I only work for 2 weeks out of the summer and those 2 weeks don't start until the middle of July.  I am blessed with kids who sleep in - and I mean until 10 or 11.  I actually have extended time to just be quiet, to reflect, to pray, to get myself ready for the next marathon (school year).

I am really trying to impress this idea on my kids too.  Yes, we do some fun things during the summer, but I bristle at the notion that they need to be entertained every second of every day.  Actually, I think that is an awful idea - for anybody, but especially for kids.  They need to learn to think their own thoughts, to be comfortable being quiet.  They need some time to think about how they fit into the universe and to be amazed at grass, flowers, the sun, the breeze.

"I am bored," is rarely heard in this house; not because nobody ever is, but because they know they won't get any sympathy from me.  No.  They will hear, "Good.  There's nothing wrong with being bored.  Go lay down and think. Pray. Just be." 

Life in this day and age is busy, there is no way around it.  It is so important to take those moments of peace and reflection whenever you get them.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Gift of Education

So, I'm starting to fill out the reams of paperwork that I will have to fill out for 4 out of my 5 kids to start new schools in the fall.  Sure, it can get pretty monotonous to fill out the same info over and over and over again, (how many times do I need to write my address??) but mostly as I write, I'm just grateful.

The education system in America gets a bad rap, but my experiences with it thus far have been 95% positive.  I do not regret the homeschooling that I have done, and there could be another year or two of it for this child or that one in the future; but it is an amazing thing to be able to enroll my child in a school.  As a young homeschooling Mom, I was pretty sure that the public schools were on their way to becoming big brother, but I now I view them as a HUGE help to me in my job as the educator of my children.

Yes.  I am still the educator of my children and I recognize that the responsibility of their education falls on my shoulders.  Actually, that thought is part of what brought me to the place that I put my kids in school.  I did an assessment of what I was offering them at home and realized that in some ways, they were missing out. 

*Disclaimer*  I know many of you who read my blog are homeschoolers.  Please know that I completely respect and support your decision to homeschool and am sure that your kids are getting what they need.  That was not a statement about homeschool in general, it was a statement about me.

I am just not that Mom.  You know, the super creative one who has all kinds of great ideas about how to make learning fun.  I enjoy being with my kids, but the added responsibility of being the only one to make sure they are getting the 3 R's is a bit much for me.  I am all about helping with homework, as long as I'm not the one who assigned it in the first place.

Not to mention that schools teach so much more than the 3 R's these days.  As we were touring McKinley's new school yesterday, the principal took us into the media center and proceeded to explain that they broadcast  morning anouncements into each classroom  on a t.v. screen every morning.  The KIDS run the cameras, act as the anchors and broadcast the live anouncements.  I was astounded.  I can't wait for her to get to be a part of that.

As we did a visit of Carter's new class last week, we discovered that each year the kids in that particular class raise salmon.  They also care for a guinea pig and a garden.  They do math in such a way that each student works at their own level.  And they took in excess of 20 field trips last year - one of which had them spending the night in a tall ship.  My kid gets to do this?  For free?  Sign me up.

Then, there was the staggering list of offerings at the new middle and high school the older girls will be attending.  I was so excited about all the opportunites that it almost made me cry.  Education is a gift indeed.

So, I will fill out form after form after form after form...and I will be happy to do it.  :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pre-Emptive Heart Breaking..

I don't know what it is with me, but I have the tendency to do some seriously premature emotional preparation for things.  For instance, when Kennedy was about 10 weeks old, we attended a wedding.  During the Daddy/Daughter dance at the reception, I bawled my eyes thinking of her upcoming marriage - you know, in 25 years or so.  With that one, I could get away with calling it "post-partum", but that excuse isn't going to work for this one.

Over the last several months, as is customary for us and just about every other family on the planet, I have been getting ready for school in the fall.  Around about January the questions start.  "How has this year been?"  "How is everyone doing?"  "Is anyone going to need to be homeschooled next year?"  "Do we need to make any changes?"  And so on.  Now that it's May, we pretty much have next year mapped out, and so I am done with the research/planning part and ready to move on to the reality part.

Wait, you say.  It isn't even summer.  Why are you thinking about the fall??  *sigh*  I wish I knew.  It's just the way I roll.

Anyway, we were driving to school this morning - me and the 4 older kids - and everyone was rejoicing that we only have 19 days of school left!!!  Then, all of a sudden I felt like crying.  Because, in the fall, it will be me and all 5 kids driving to school in the morning.  My little red-head won't still be sleeping in his bed at home waiting to be awakened around 9:00, putz around the house, watch some shows, play with some toys, eat lunch and go to "school" for a half day at 11:30.

No, he will join the ranks of the others.  Backpack with a lunch box or lunch money ("how will I buy lunch, Mom?"  he wondered the other day.  "I don't have any money.")  Gym clothes and shoes.  School supplies.  Friends.  A little shredding of the apron strings.  Get me a kleenex.

Sure, all of my other kids have crossed this milestone already (although 3 of them didn't do it in Kindergarten...), but if you're a Mom, you already know that when the baby crosses it, it carries a little more weight in your heart.  (To my other kids who might be reading this, don't take that wrong, you all carry the same amount of weight in my heart - it's just a timing issue.)  :)

I suppose it could be the gift of God to me that I have this propensity.  You see, by the time September 4th actually rolls around, I will be ready.  I will have gone through all of my grieving and self-reflection. (Is this the right choice?  Can he really handle it?  Will Kindergarten turn him into an axe-murderer?)  I will then be ready to be be strong for him, and for the rest of my kids who all have big changes coming in the fall.  When they have a rough day, I'll be able to encourage them that it's just a bump in the road, that it happens to everyone, that they are up to the challenge, that they can do it.

I guess it's good.  But, today, it doesn't feel like it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sacred Cows and Why We Like Them.

I have a theory on why we, as people, hold so tightly to our sacred cows.  The flavor of cow doesn't matter so much as the reason we hang on so tightly; so I'm not going to address any specific cow, but just their existence in general.

I think that we go through a bunch of stages of growth, not only in our body, but also in our minds.  Ok, I know that we do.  What I think, is that I'm starting to see some patterns.  We start out knowing nothing and in our early years our opinions and attitudes are formed largely by those who take care of us.  We learn from them because they love us (hopefully) and we have no reason to not believe what they tell us.  They seem to have life all figured out and we assume they know all the answers.

It doesn't take long for this to start to change, although the change happens gradually.  First, it is the realization that we are our own person.  Second, the somewhat scary notion arises that perhaps, our caretakers don't have all the answers.  Third, we figure out they have none of the answers (know any teenagers?)  Then, we step out and begin to explore on our own.

I really think that the attitude with which this exploration is met is pivotal in our later handling of sacred cows.  If, for instance, you have an authority figure, parent, teacher, etc who encourages your personal discovery, you are less likely to have a strangle hold on said cow.  But, if you are made to feel ashamed or if your exploration is met with fea or anger by those guiding you, then the cows take on a life of their own.

Why?  Because we all want to be accepted.  If exploration of different ideas about things is reacted to in a very strong negative way, many people will back off and simply adopt the cows common to their culture for the sake of belonging.  Then, when another person tries to kick the cow down, or even just give it a good once over, the owner of the cow feels that their very security is being threatened. 

So, to state it simply, we protect those cows because we're afraid.  We're afraid that if they get knocked down, our whole identity and security goes down with them.

This is what I have discovered.  I am not one with my sacred cows.  I am a person in my own right and whether I cling to the cow or not, it does not define me.  I may have grown up feeling very strongly about something - because those guiding me held certain convictions - and come to find out that I actually feel exactly the opposite way about it.

This is ok.  It is not a slap in the face of those who raised me and nurtured me.  No, it is actually a testament to their bravery and lack of fear as they carried out that job.

Question away, Mihailoff kids, I'm not afraid of your questions.  Your place in my heart is quite secure whether you like my cows or not.  :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

One For the Dads.

A neighbor of mine posted a link to a new movie coming out that's called "What to Expect When You're Expecting."  It brought one word to my mind.  OFFENSIVE.

Seriously, if society expects women to be the perfect parent, it equally expects men to be bumbling idiots in that area.  It's a stereotype that needs to be retired.  We have learned that women can be just as effective as men in the workplace and now it's time to admit that men can be just as effective as women with the children.

I live across the street from two very capable stay at home dads.  I see them doing all the things a stay at home mom would do.  I see them playing outside and taking walks.  I see them managing to get their kids in the car and go places.  I don't actually see what goes on inside the house, but I do see their children being dressed, obviously well-fed and cared for and looking pretty damn happy.  Also, both of the dads still look exactly like men.  Imagine that.

This might sound hypocritical coming from someone who has been a stay at home Mom for the last 15 years, but let me explain why it isn't.  I have been a stay at home Mom by choice, not because it was some mold I was expected to fit into.  My husband has been very supportive of this and is now equally supportive of the fact that I'm going back to school and will eventually have a job outside of the home.  He also hasn't used the fact that I'm a stay at home Mom as an excuse not to be a parent.  He is just as able as I am to care for our children and has never given me the feeling that what I'm doing is "women's work."

When I was pregnant with our 4th child, I had a condition called placenta previa.  Basically, my placenta attached down too low and was covering my cervix.  This is very dangerous for obvious reasons.  From 20 weeks on, I was being very closely monitored and at 27 weeks, I had a pretty big bleed.  It was 2 days after Christmas and our girls were already asleep for the night.  My Mom came to sit with them while Nic took me to the hospital.  The verdict was, strict bedrest until our son was born. (With this condition, once you have the "really big bleed," you have 5 minutes to get the baby out - whey they say "strict," they're not messing around).  We both knew there was no way I would be able to stay on strict bedrest while trying to care for our 6, 4 and 1 1/2 year old daughters.  So, I stayed in the hospital until Carter was born...on February 18th.

Yes, you read that right.  I was in the hospital for 56 nights.  The entire time I was there, Nic worked full time AND took care of our 3 girls. (Yes, he did have some help from family and friends, but he was on the clock all the time).  He fed them.  He bathed them.  He put their mattresses in our bedroom and they slept in there so they could feel secure while I was gone. He even took them to their dance classes.  Also, there were only a handful of days that he didn't put all 3 of them in the van (in the middle of the winter) and drag them up to the hospital to see me. Bumbling?  Incompetent?  Hardly.

So, here is to all the dads who feel irritated and frustrated by society's image of them.  Don't worry what "they" think.  We know the truth.  And we think you're awesome.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

15 years ago...

I was about 2 months away from becoming a Mom for the first time.  When I think back to that time, it feels like it was almost another life.  So many things have happened since then (not the least of which has been my becoming a Mom 4 more times) and I have grown so much as a person that I almost don't recognize the me of way back then.

One thing you don't count on as a first time parent is that your own personal growth and change will affect the way you parent.  I have been blessed, very blessed indeed, to have been a stay at home mom for this last decade and a half.  I would not trade, for anything, the privilege of having been the sole care giver for my children.  But, the last 15 years have also added some thoughts to my brain that maybe weren't there yet when I was 24.

I couldn't see, back then, that there would come a time in my life that the kids would all be in the process of growing, not be as needy and demanding as babies and toddlers can be, and that I would once again have the time to think my own thoughts.  I couldn't see that part of what I was doing was helping them to get to the point that they would be increasingly more independent.

I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean to imply that I think my kids no longer need me.  No indeed.  I know that's not true, but the physically demanding part has lightened up considerably.  This year, they were all in school and even though it was only half days for Pierce, it was the first time since 1997 that I could count on some time to myself each day.

And I realized that somewhere along the way, I have done a lot of growing up.

My vision of life and the world has been expanded.

I've come to understand that although I still have a long ways to go, there will come a time when my kids will be grown and have their own lives.

And when that time comes, I am not the kind of person who will be happy passing my time at the gym and salon.

How could I be?  How could I go from doing what I feel is one of the most important jobs on the planet to doing not much?  I won't be able to.  So, it's back to school I go.

I'm quite certain that this will be a very long road for me.  I have maybe 10 college credits to my name and what I'm after will require a Masters.  Also, I have these 5 amazing children and this great husband and I have no intention of being so busy that I'm unavailable to them. But, I am going to get started.  I am going to commence with "baby steps" and "eating the elephant one bite at a time" and all of that.  I am going to embrace the beginning of a new season.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Myth of Super-Mommery

I feel like my head is about to explode with this today.  There is a lot in the old brain that I want to get out, so this may take a few days, but I hope you read and comment and consider what I'm going to talk about because it is a real problem.

There is no such thing as a super Mom.

It's interesting that the reason I started blogging in the first place always comes back around.  I think it's because it is such a huge issue in our society that I often feel like we're all held captive by it.  When I see the pressures that Moms put on themselves it makes me want to curl up and cry for them.  Or slap them.  Who has convinced us that we must Do It All?  That we, in fact, are able to Do It All?  That it is good for our kids if we Do It All?

I, for whatever reason, have always had a pretty clear picture of my limitations.  I don't mean that to sound like I am down on myself.  I'm not.  I just generally know what I can and can't do.  I can get up early and be pleasant and help pack lunches and get my kids off to school.  I can't put on a happy face and read stories and be cuddly and wonderful past 8:00 at night.  My kids got a morning bird for a Mom, that is just the way it is.  Will this mean they need therapy when they are older?  No.

I can make sure that everyone has clean clothes.  I can't make sure that they are always folded and put away.  Will digging through a laundry basket for socks make them feel uncared for?  No.  I can cook dinner.  I can't be Rachel Ray.  I can help with English homework.  I can't help with science homework.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I can only be who I am.  It is not necessary for me to morph into some sort of demi-god in order to be a "good" mother.  Indeed, a mother is just a person who has produced an offspring, not a savior. 

I try my very best to do what I think is best for my kids, and that is all that I can do.  It is self-defeating and a little bit crazy to think that the littlest thing I might do or say wrong in a day has the capacity to ruin my child.  Please, please, don't drive yourself crazy trying to make every decision into "right" or "wrong" or to elevate everything in a child's life to the level of life or death importance.

Yesterday, we were getting ready to go for a walk and the boys were wearing their superhero outfits.  They went outside first while I was getting my shoes on and finding the dog's leash.  A few minutes later, Carter came dashing into the house in a frenzy and grabbed a pair of scissors.  Nic followed him out.  Pierce had hopped onto his bike and taken off like a rocket only to be stopped short by his batman cape getting all wound up in his bike tire.  He was crying and gagging and his lip was bleeding and Carter was valiantly headed out with a pair of very sharp scissors to cut the cape.  Off of his brother's neck. 

This is the stuff of modern-day Mommy nightmares.  I could almost hear the accusing questions and comments flying at me through the atmosphere.  "Why didn't he know he shouldn't wear his cape on a bike? (and, by the way, where is his helmet???")  "How could you let him run out like that without knowing what he was up to?" "His brother is running with scissors??"  "I knew 5 kids were too many, look at what has happened because there's not enough of you to go around!!"  "A good Mom would never have let that happen!!"

It was enough to make me cry, but then, I laughed.  Laughed my head off.  Because I am just a Mom, not a Savior.  I do not possess the ability to control every little thing that happens to my kids.  I do not have the gift of foreknowledge.  I don't have a special hook to hang the dog leash on so that we never have to look for it, AND because Pierce was fine.  And it was funny.

Pierce didn't need me to stop that from happening.  He needed me to pick him up and hug him and wipe the blood off of his lip.  He needed me to say, "It's ok, buddy.  You really shouldn't wear your cape while you ride your bike, but you're going to be fine."

Just be who you are, Moms (and Dads), that's what your kids need.  They need someone to help them swim, not someone to part the waters.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why We Do What We Do.

So, I've been involved in an online conversation this morning and it got me to thinking.  The conversation was actually about "homeschooling," but all I could think about was "motive."

Seriously.  I really do think that why we do things is equally as important, maybe sometimes more important than what we actually do.  If I do something (like homeschooling) because I feel it is expected of me, because I worry about what others think, because I am afraid; but my heart is not really in it - I would argue that is a bad choice.

One of the measures of growing up is learning to trust yourself and be ok with who you are as an individual.  Isn't this one of those things that teenagers constantly struggle with?  Don't we, as parents, continually come against the "herd mentality?"  Can't we be heard to say things like, "Well, if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do that too??"  Yes.

So, doesn't it follow then that if we're still making sure all of our friends are ok with our choices when we're 40 that we might still have some growing up to do?

I am not at all trying to say that we should never seek another's advice or procure opinions.  Of course we should.  But, I am saying that when we feel strongly about something, we need to have the ability to follow our own heart and not the crowd.

I'll use myself as an example.

We have 5 kids.  I have always known that I wanted a big family, and it is one thing that my husband and I have agreed on since we started talking about marriage.  There have been times (many actually), when the "wisdom" of us having several children has been questioned, and I'm sure that from the outside looking in it hasn't always looked like a smooth road that we're walking.

Luckily, the only other opinion that has ever mattered to me on that score has been my husband's (and God's of course).  I have never questioned our choice no matter how difficult it may have been along the way.  Kennedy, Reagan, McKinley, Carter, Pierce...I can't imagine not having one or two or three of them and I'm really glad that I was grown up enough to not stop having children when it made other people comfortable.

I'm really glad that I homeschooled when I did, and I'm also really glad that I was grown up enough at some point to realize that even if a lot of my friends felt strongly about it being "the way" for a Christian to educate their chldren, that I didn't share that conviction. 

I'm really glad that I have been able to be a stay at home Mom for all of these years, and I'm also really glad that I am grown-up enough to admit now that I like my part-time job.  To realize that taking care of me and doing things that feed my soul actually make me a better Mom.

I want this for my kids.  I know they have a lot of growing yet to do and that there will be some bumps along the way, but I pray they are learning to trust themselves little by little.  I pray that they will be courageous enough to give the world what only they can give.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Being a Grown-Up

My kids, like most other I'm sure, are very curious at what point they will finally be a "grown-up."  I usually give some vague answer like, "Well, according to the law, you will be a grown-up when you turn 18, but....that isn't always the case."  This is a confusing and frustrating answer to them.  But, I'm not really sure how to change it to make it more concrete.

It is true, that years ago in America, one could be reasonably sure that by the time a young person reached 18 they would be ready to strike out on their own and one could also be reasonably sure that they would make it.  This does not seem to be the case any longer.  Am I right?

I heard the other day that 25 is the new 18.  While my knee jerk reaction was to say, "Whatever.  These kids just need to grow up!"  I realized in the next beat that that was simply not a fair assessment.  I do think it's true that kids are maybe not given as much responsibility or expected to grow up as fast as they used to be; however; in their defense, growing up in 21st century America is a bit complicated.

First, I would like to compare it to what it would be like to grow up in a less progressive society.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm awfully glad that I have electricity, running water, and a car.  But, what if I neither had those things or knew they existed?  What if the age of maturity occurred when a child had arrived at puberty and could hunt a buffalo or prepare a meal?  I am just pointing out that raising a child in those cultures is a bit of a simpler affair.

Getting a child to adulthood in America, or any of our counterpart countries, just feels daunting sometimes.  There are so many obstacles they have to maneuver around, so many things are expected of them, and they have to know how to do SO MUCH before they can make it on their own.

Then, there is this concept of "educational inflation."  50 years ago, really even 25 years ago, a high school diploma meant something.  Now, it really is just what you need to get into college.  I know there is the odd person who makes it in today's world without post-secondary learning, but they are few and far between. (Take it from my husband, who is pursing his Master's degree at the age of 46).  I remember, as a kid, looking so forward to the summer after high school because it meant FREEDOM!!!!  In fact, I spent the summer at home and then the fall after I graduated I jumped on a tour bus with 29 people I didn't know and proceeded to tour the world for 3 years with a dance production.  It was the best of times.

I am afraid that for my kids, the summer after high school just looks like the break between high school and "who knows how much more school."  I can understand why they sometimes seem despondent about the whole thing.

But, I give them pep talks and I encourage them and I let them know that we will be their biggest cheerleaders throughout the whole process.  I tell them over and over that they are smart, that they can do it, that God will help them too, that He has a plan and that He knew all along that they would grow up in this time and this place.

I don't think it's possible to overstate the above - growing up in America in this day and age is not for the faint of heart.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Gatekeeper

I'm going to springboard off of a conversation that I was just having with a couple of other women.  All of us are Moms and so, we were talking about - surprise - being a Mom.

Our conversation went in many directions, but I was kind of having my own internal conversation as we jumped around.  I have been thinking a lot lately about what the role of a Mom in the home really is....and you know what?  It's a big deal.

Moms are, in the truest sense, Gatekeepers.  We, more than anyone else, are in control of what we allow into our homes and into our kids.  Don't worry.  I'm not here to down on Harry Potter or descry the evils of know me better than that.

But, I am here to say, Do you know how powerful you are, Mom?  Did you know that the role you play in the lives of your children and your home is the most important one you play?  Did you know that although society has tried to tell you that just about anyone could do your job, they are dead wrong?

The other day, I was driving Pierce to school and from the backseat he said, "Hey Mom, so did God build all the stuff that's on the world?"  I said, "Kind of.  He made man and the animals and all the plants and then he gave men the wisdom to invent things like buildings, cities, streets, cars, stuff like that."  "Oh, I get it, " he said.  He went back to his snack, but my mind kept on moving.

I was stunned at the simplicity of the exchange.  I don't know why, it's not like I haven't had a million or so similar conversations since I became a parent; but this one just hit me.  He just takes me at my word.  In his mind, whatever I tell him is true.  For a few years, whatever I write on the slate of his heart and mind just goes there without question or filter.

That is an amazing privilege and responsibility.

I will fill up that slate in the most measured and pre-meditated way that I can.  He will know about faith and about love and about responsibility and about kindness and respect.  He will hear and see me affirm him in his uniqueness AND experience me letting him know that unique does not mean "without boundaries."

When our kids are grown, their hearts will always carry the indelible first print that we leave, let use our wisdom and prayers to make sure it is print that will serve them well.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On why it's called "practicing" medicine....

I am not a hater of doctors.  On the contrary, I really like them.  I think they bring a wonderful gift to humanity and anybody who is about the business of trying to make people well is ok in my book.

They are not all created equal, however, and I really wish there was a way to pick out the really good ones just by looking at their name and their credentials.  No such luck.

One of my daughters has sported a significant hearing loss in one of her ears for most of her life.  When she was 4, she had an x-ray that showed her inner ear bones were slightly overlapping.  Since that x-ray, we have seen 3 ENT's.  They all told me (based on the x-ray) that they would need to do pretty major surgery to open up her ear canal and file the bones down.  However, they said, the bones may grow apart on their own at some point or the surgery may not correct the hearing loss.

A major surgery that involves opening up my daughter's head for something that may or may not work or may correct itself eventually seemed like a pretty drastic step to take.

So, we have waited.  For 9 years.

Now, I don't mean to imply that she can't hear at all.  She can.  But, she often needs to be seated at the front of the class in school, she often needs to ask others to repeat themselves; and I'm sure her dance teachers have, on more than one occassion, wondered why she completely ignores them if they try to talk to her from across the studio.  It has been a very big frustration to her and I have questioned whether or not I should just give the surgery a go more than once.

Anyway, yesterday we met with ENT #4.  Imagine my surprise when didn't even ask about the existence of any x-rays and simply pulled out an instrument that looked like a tuning fork.  He smacked it against his own leg to make it vibrate and then held it up to her good ear.  She immediately pulled her head back from the high pitched tone.  Then, he held it to the other ear, she didn't move.  "Can you hear that?"  he asked.  "Not really."  she said.  He turned it around and touched it behind her ear.  Once it made contact with her head she immediately said, "Oh, I can hear it now."

He turned to me and said, "Pretty simple, Mom.  She has a bunch of fluid in her left ear, probably because her eustachian tube is immature and it needs to be drained.  My staff will set up the appointment for you at the hospital, it takes about 5 minutes.  Any questions?"

I was dumbfounded.  He was so matter of fact.  Why didn't those other ENT's have a tuning fork?  I was wondering.  Don't they know about that trick?  Has my daughter really dealt with this for NINE YEARS and a simple 5 minute procedure will fix it?

I was ecstatic and furious at the same time.

Today, I am mostly ecstatic.  In less than a month, this problem that has plagued her most of her life will be history.  And I will always remember why they call it a "practice."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A devil behind every bush

Have you noticed that people obsess about why things in their lives are the way that they are?  I have.  Also, I have been guilty of the same.  There must be an explanation, and if things are not going my way; there must be a reason and I must be able to fix it.  Right?  Um, no.

This is a tricky one for me sometimes because I certainly do believe that God is involved with mankind in gneral and with my life (and yours) specifically.  As a way of deflecting some arrows before they are launched let me tell you what I don't mean by that.  I don't mean that I think everything that happens on this earth is God's will - seriously, what kind of a crazy God would orchestrate all of the events that we see around us???  Men have free will.  Also, we live on this imperfect orb.  Sometimes things just happen.

Which brings me back to my original point.  I am starting to think, as I get older and hopefully wiser, that life is much more about how I react to things and much less about why they happen in the first place.  For example - should I waste my time wondering why the power went out and grousing about how unfair it is or should I just get busy and find some candles? 

This is a tricky one to pass onto kids.  I mean, am I not admitting that I'm just starting to get it?  Kids have their "it's not fair" and "why me" meters set on ultra-sensitive.  Everything that doesn't go their way is seen as a conspiracy.  I have argued and argued against this notion in my kids' brains, but many times my arguments fall on deaf ears as I can almost literally hear them thinking, "Yah, yah, but why ME?"

Well, Mihailoff children, be warned.  This conversation is not over.  "Why me?" is the wrong question, and I am making it my personal mission to replace that question in your brain with "what now?" 

'Why me' is reactive.  'What now' is proactive.  'Why me' is the question of a victim.  'What now' is the question of a leader.  'Why me' shows immaturity.  'What now' shows that we are growing.

Yep, "what now" is what I'm after.

Monday, February 20, 2012


I cannot believe it has been almost 2 weeks since I last wrote...where exactly did those 2 weeks go??  How is it that time so quickly evaporated??

It is a strange phenomenon, the passage of time.  There are moments when it seems to drag on forever, like when you're at the dentist; and times when you can scarcely believe that a new day has already arrived.  I am discovering that the older my kids get, I have fewer and fewer "dentist" days and more and more "where did that day go??" days.

Seriously, babies and toddlers are sweet and marvelous and amazing and... mind-numbingly boring.  I can remember so many days of endless diapers, Blues Clues, fruit snacks and naps - days where I longed for meaningful adult conversation and talked the ears off of  unsuspecting grocery store clerks whenever I got the chance.

Those days don't really exist anymore.  For one thing, a few of my children are now quite interesting conversationalists.  We have graduated from, "I love you, but if I have to read  'Goodnight Moon' one more time I will spontaneously combust" to "Tell me what you think about this.  How do you think this should be handled?  What are your feelings on...?"  It's terrific, let me tell you.

Also, I rarely stay at my house all day.  That is shocking as I used to rarely leave my house.  You might think I'm kidding but I'm not.  A little outing to the store when you have to pack a diaper bag, buckle 5 car seats, work around naps and then navigate potential meltdowns is not as fun as it sounds.  I would usually elect to do all of my errands well after bedtime meaning that I spent most days in my house.  Now, my days are completely broken up by getting everyone everywhere...on time.  It's not exciting, per se, but it does make things seem to move a little more quickly.

So, all of that to say, wow!  It's been two weeks! 

In my defense, I did have 2 kids that had birthdays and one that went to the hospital, so I have been a little busier even than usual.

Still.  I love to write and I love all of you, so I will try, from now on, to not let time get the best of me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Full Circle

So, I seem to remember that about the time I started this blog was the same time that Pierce started speech therapy.  Now, he's done.  "He has made great progress," said his therapist today, "all his goals are met, he's a hard worker....and, I don't need to see him anymore."

Hearing her say that was like a sucker punch to the heart.  Sheesh, what is up with me???

If you know me well, or probably even if you barely know me, you have figured out that I'm kind of the analytical type.  I'm a woman, yes, but I'm not known for making emotional decisions, having major emotional breakdowns, or even really caring that much about emotions.  I have'em, sure.  But, what good are they?  They change as quick as the wind and they are not good indicators of the reality of any situation.


I have not really ever been the type of Mom who can't stand to see her kids cry.  Wow, that sounds cold.  But, that's not what I mean.  Of course, I don't LIKE it, but even in the moment that they are upset; I can usually keep a pretty cool head.  I can assess WHY the tears are there and respond without getting all caught up in the moment.  You know, if they're hurt - fix it.  If they're throwing a fit - walk away.  If someone is being mean to them - talk to the people who are in charge.  If they are upset, hug them, encourage them.  But, I've never seen the need to join in or panic.

So, that is why today was such a shock to me.

Here is this lady, who at the beginning; I was feeling a little antagonistic towards; telling me that my son is done.  He has accomplished all this great work.  I should feel proud.  And, I do....

But mostly, I'm trying real hard to swallow the lump in my throat and hoping she doesn't notice that my eyes are misting over with tears.  Done??  But, he likes you!  I have gotten used to coming here on Tuesdays and you feel like a friend to me now.  I enjoy my lunch date with my boy after speech therapy and before school...I don't WANT to be done. means that time is marching means that even as I enjoy these moments with not just Pierce, but all of my kids, that they are means that although I love to watch them grow up, I don't really want them to.

*sigh*  Emotions are for the birds.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I assume you're expecting me to talk about that whole mess....and I probably will.  But, not tonight.  Tonight I am sick of talking about that whole mess and I'm just glad it's over.

Tonight, I would like to talk about something significantly less controversial. 

So, here goes.

I have been enjoying, all day, the sounds of my kids playing together.  We have church at 4:00, so our Sunday mornings are very relaxed.  We sleep in (hallelujah) and then my husband and I usually go out for coffee.  Many times, they are all sleeping when we leave the house, and when we return, they are up, enjoying their relaxing morning and waiting for donuts. :)

They watch a little t.v., but usually well before noon; the t.v. is off and they are playing together.  I just love to hear them concoct their imaginary tales.  I love to hear them laugh as they act them out.  I love that they can be satisfied with a bin of legos, some scraps of material and each other.  Love it.

There have been times when I have been frustrated that we haven't always been able to provide them with the latest and greatest in terms of technology.  But, you know what?  Now, I realize I'm glad that I couldn't.

Don't get me wrong.  I like to watch t.v. and I enjoy the computer.  But, I am so glad for the memories I have from being a kid - when there were 3 channels on the t.v. and no such thing as a computer.  I'm glad for the memories of having nothing to do for the whole day except read, play with friends, chase fireflies, roast marshmallows.  I'm glad that I learned how to be alone.  To think my own thoughts and figure out my world without the constant barrage of the media.

I'm glad my kids have that option too.  They are growing up into wonderful people.  And, yes, ever-evolving technology is a reality that they will live with; but I like to think that their memories of these sorts of days will stick with them and help them distinguish true relationships from social networking.  That these family times will be an anchor for their souls.

That they will never lose the ability to enjoy the simple.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why We Follow Rules We Think Are Stupid.

So, do any of you follow any rules that you think are stupid?  Did you ever become a part of an organization and in order to be a member you had to abide by some guidelines you thought were stupid?  Did you ever get a job and you had to do something stupid like arrive on time?  Wear a certain kind of clothing?  Perform the duties you were being paid for?

Yah.  Me too. 

This is one of those things I talk to my kids about because, you guessed it, they already have to follow some rules they think are stupid.  The conversation generally goes something like this:

Kid:  I hate wearing a belt with my school pants. It's a stupid rule.  Do I really have to???
Me:  I think it's pretty silly that you have to wear a belt too, but yes, you do.
Kid:  Why???
Me:  Remember when you signed your name on that paper saying you would follow the school rules?
Kid:  Yes.
Me:  This is one of them.
*The End*

Pretty straightforward, pretty painless.

What I can't figure out is parents who try to find ways to help their kids get around the rules.  Take on school officials over some insignificant issue so that their precious child can have their way.  I'm serious.  It makes me feel like I'm on the train to crazy town.

Years ago, my husband and I were youth pastors.  During a conversation with a school administrator, my husband was told that in the 10 years this gentleman had been working at the high school, they had had 1, one, ONE parent that sided with them when they tried to hand down discipline to a student.  I was dumbfounded.  Actually, I'll admit that I thought he was exaggerating.

But, now, after having had my kids in the schools for a few years now, I doubt he was.  It is appalling to me that parents are so quick to bail their kids out and demand that their kids get their own way.  Appalling.  Aren't we, as parents, supposed to be teaching our kids how to one day function in society?  Isn't one of those lessons that they need to learn the one that talks about having to follow rules or face consequences?  Shouldn't we tell them that they won't always get their own way?  Don't they need to know that the boss won't care if they think the company uniform is nerdy?  Do we really want a generation of kids who live at home until they're in their mid 40's because they can't man up and do some stuff they don't want to do??  Anyone??  Bueller??

I know I'm preachin' to the choir here because I doubt any of "those" parents are probably interested in reading my blog.  But, I had to get it out.  I know I don't have all the answers, but come on.  This shouldn't even be a question.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Sometimes Wish it was 50 Years Ago....

I know it's common for the current generation to think that their parents had it easier than they did.  I'm also sure that that is usually not true.  However.  I think it might be true in terms of educating one's children.

Today is going to be kind of a rant...fair warning.

It seems kind of idyllic in my mind - the thought of simply being able to put one's children on the neighborhood school bus and send them down the road to a decent education.  To a community school where you know they will be taught what they need to know and their safety won't be at risk. 

My kids' education has been such a potpourri - homeschool, christian school, charter school, traditional public school.  Sheesh, it's exhausting.

One of my daughter's said to me the other day, "Mom, we are weird when it comes to school.  I mean, I have a lot of friends who just start at one school and stay there until they graduate.  Why don't we do that?"

Simple question.  Not so simple answer.

The truth is, I sometimes wish we could just do that.  But, I really, really, really, really want what is best for each of my kids and I just haven't found one school or one method of schooling that accomplishes that for all of them.  Every year, we have to re-evaluate and not one year, educationally speaking, has ever looked the same in this house.

On the one hand, I'm glad I have options.  On the other hand, I'm glad I have options, it's just that those options sure complicate my life.

June Cleaver just didn't know how good she had it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Umm...In Case You Were Wondering Why I Started This Blog.

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I have a lot to say about this lady's opinion.  I mean, really, A LOT.  But, in the spirit of why I started this blog in the first place, I won't rip her a new one on the internet.  :)

I made the choice that I made to be a stay at home Mom for many reasons.  Yes, it was a choice, and one that has been very difficult at times.  It certainly has not afforded me the opportunity to be lazy.  That thought makes me laugh until I almost cry.

I have tremendous respect for Moms who "do it all" and try my very best to be supportive of their choices.

I just want the same in return.

I will ask it again, Can't We All Just Get Along?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Part 2

Ok, so onto part 2...different convictions in the same belief system.

I laugh a little thinking that I could even begin to address this in the form of a blog, but I'm gonna give it my best shot.

I do not pretend to be the most knowledgeable Bible person around, but I have been a Christian for 30 years, did attend Bible College and have read the Bible many times.  All of the different denominations have always been a bit curious to me.  It is not so much that people have different thoughts about things that are said in the Bible that bothers me, but the fact that we fight over them - ridiculous.

This is the way I see it.

There are not many things in the Bible that are essential in terms of salvation.  No, I really believe that.  I believe that it is made abundantly clear that we need to be believe in Jesus.  Believe that he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life and died in our place for the atonement of our sins.  And honestly?  That's about all we HAVE to believe in order to belong to the body of Christ.

It's all the other stuff that we get hung up on and that causes fighting amongst us and makes us look silly to people who don't believe.  I heard this saying back in my Bible school days:

In the essentials - unity
In the non-essentials - liberty
In all things - charity

I agree.

Christianity is not about belonging to some club where everyone is exactly alike.  Have you ever looked around the earth?  The one God created?  It is nothing if not diverse.  God is creative and quite obviously likes things to be unique.  Each of us is an individual with out own personality, our own history, our own feelings about issues and our own way of dealing with life.  To think that we would all arrive at the same conclusions about all things Biblical is pretty close to insane.

You know what? 

I think God likes it.  I think He likes the fact that each of us has to think, pray, struggle and put forth some effort to arrive at our conclusions about Him and about this life.  I think He likes it because that is what having a relationship is all about.  He is not afraid of our questions and we shouldn't be afraid of each others.

His love and grace is big enough to hold us all - regardless of whether or not we believe the rapture will happen before or after the tribulation.

Know what I mean?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back... with a Bang!

*Disclaimer*  Although the point of this blog is not to proselytize, I'm sure most of you have picked up on the fact that I am a Christian.  I try to keep my blogs mostly neutral in that regard, but the fact of the matter is that often the things that float through my brain have to do with my faith in one way or another.  I had some really wonderful "think" time over Christmas break and have a topic I want to talk about that is Christian in nature.  So, for those of you who do not claim to be Christian or religious, what follows may be boring, irrelevant or offensive to you.  It is meant to be none of those, and you are certainly welcome to read on; just consider yourself warned.  ;)

So, here goes.

Why is Christianity so offensive to people who don't follow it?  I seem to notice this more and more the older I get.  This following scenario is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.

I can't count the number of times that some "big name" in Christian circles has been pinned down by someone in the media to answer the question, "So, you believe that if people don't believe in Jesus they go to hell??!"  It's like they just can't wait for him to answer "yes" so they can pounce on him.  They want to berate him for being "unaccepting", "intolerant" or a "religious fanatic."  All the talk becomes about how judgemental said person is and "who do they think they are" is slung about on people's lips.  (I'm not actually sure if "slung" is a word, but I like it.  And it's my blog.)

This reaction is truly fascinating to me.

Let's just say that I was having a conversation with someone of the Muslim faith.  I don't know a vast amount about the Muslim faith, but I do know that westerners, in general, are considered to be infidels.  I certainly don't have 70 virgins waiting for me when I die, know what I mean?  I'm not exactly sure what their belief is about the afterlife, but I know it isn't good for folks like me.  You know what?  I don't care that they think that.  You know why?  Because I don't believe it. 

Why then, do people who do not claim to be Christians and who do not profess faith in Christ care if someone thinks they are going to hell?   Why can they not just shake it off and forget it about like I can?  It is indeed perplexing and I have yet to have someone give me a good answer to it.

So, I thought I would throw it out there and see what all of you think.

Also, there is part 2 to this question and it has to do with the differences of conviction within the Christian faith itself.  But, I figured this was enough for today.

So, enlighten me, am I missing something?

Oh, and Happiest of New Years to all of you!!!!