Friday, April 30, 2010

Something Sweet

Today is Free Friday over at Baby be Blessed. You can enter to win free stuff, every Friday. Today, the give-away is a gift certificate.

If you don't already know about Baby be Blessed, you really ought to head over and check out the adorable offerings they have for your favorite little person. My favorite thing about the whole enterprise is that you can personalize each beautiful toy, with a name AND a Scripture verse. Think of the awesome investment that makes into your little girl's heart and mind each time she plays with her new dolly. Or how precious and meaningful a well-chosen Word can be over your little guy's spirit as he snuggles in for the night.

Enjoy cruising around the site. You will find a little something sweet for someone, I'm sure of it!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Oh. Yes. He. Did.

In the middle of our daily welcome-home-from-school-hug yesterday,
Baby BlueEyes said the following to me:

"Mmmmmm, you smell so good. You always smell so good."

"I love hugging you, Mommy. Whenever I hug you, it feels so fresh."

"Like biting into an apple, fresh."

Oh. Yes. He. Did.

Sigh. I love that kid.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

By the Numbers

Here's my Tuesday,
by the numbers so far...
(in no particular order!)

Times Li'l Empress yelled, "NO!" in her sleep?  4 by 4:47 a.m.

Minutes snuggling Li'l Empress in bed while kids start their day?  12

Arguments mediated for middle siblings?  3 before 8 a.m.

Spankings Li'l Empress received for hitting or pinching the diva kitty?  3 (so far. . .)

Time-in's received by Li'l Empress for talking back to me and/or yelling at her brothers?  3

Loads of laundry washed, dried and waiting to be folded?  3

Emails sent to encourage our favorite teachers?  13

Tests proctored for Dr. D's benchmark programs?  2

Cups of oats in today's double batch of cookies?  6

Cups of butter in today's double batch of cookies? 2!

Gifts ordered on-line? 2

Menus planned for the coming month?  11

Taxi mom runs by the end of the day?  5

Naps The Boss has taken today? 3

Minutes alone in the shower, singing along to Lady Antebellum? 12 blissful minutes. Count 'em. 12.

Tulips bloomed and swaying in the breeze?  6 (That's a two-fold yield over last year's blooms!)

Gerbera daisies blooming just outside my front door?  1

Seeing that happy little flower makes
the whole day brighter, doesn't it?!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Have You Seen My Normal?

Friday afternoon, I was telling Shaggy how excited I was about Monday coming. He looked at me funny, cuz it's no secret around here that this Momma doesn't love Monday mornings.  Wrestling tired kids out of bed on early, cold, dark mornings isn't really my favorite way to start the day, you know?

But I explained to him that what I was really looking forward to was bringing back some semblance of Normal.  I was waxing eloquent on how I planned to start the week off with a bang: running laundry, making grocery lists, straightening the clutter, maybe even tackling the pile of paper work that accummulated over the course of the days that I was away caring from my mom. All very Normal activities for my Mondays and Tuesdays. And ooooh, when Li'l Empress headed down for her nap, I could get my Normal on and head to the grocery store.

I was getting really excited, the more I thought of the peace and order that Normal would bring back to The Gang's abode. I was on a roll, baby!

He let me go on for a couple minutes, sympathetically nodding his head, and (I thought!) agreeing that the presence of Normal was going to be "extra" welcome around here.

When I wound down my mini-rant, he looked at me and said, "Well, all that would be great. Except that Monday won't really be Normal.  Dr. D has PSSA's in the morning. Daddy's working from home after he comes home from the tests with Dr. D. And the kids will probably still be home because of the strike."

(Yes, our school district is on strike. In APRIL. I know.
Don't even get me started on THAT particular topic!)

I felt so deflated!  And I must admit, a little annoyed at how he let me go on and on.  But he's right. Darn it, Normal isn't here today. Come to think of it, I can't really remember the last time we had some "normal" Monday around here. . . 

{calling in a loud voice} "NORMAL?!" 
"Where are you, Normal?!"

"Hello?  Have you seen my Normal?"

I seem to have misplaced my Normal.
If you've seen it, can you send it home?
I'm missing it this dreary, rainy Monday morning.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Proud Momma

My LadyBug is at it again!  She's been growing her gorgeous hair out for several years now and this weekend, she had 10" cut off to donate to Locks of Love.  I'm so proud of how determined she was to keep growing it out until it was long enough.  I also love how determined she was to go forward with the cut even though she got a little nervous about the big change it would mean.  It ended up being a bit shorter than she had originally envisioned, but she stuck to her guns when we measured and marked out where it would fall.

Here's some pictures of the process.  And special shout out to my gal, Jen!  She's been cutting my hair now for almost four years and was the stylist that cut LadyBug's hair the first time she donated.

That's a serious head of hair!

10" brought it to just above the green band.
Daddy couldn't watch!

There it is. Look at all those beautiful colors.
The brothers all kept trying to play with it . . . .

Sooo pretty.

The finished look.
Beautiful inside and out.
And I don't even care if that sounds biased.
Or proud. Cuz I am.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bad Blogger!

I've been terribly inconsistent this month with my blogging.  I beg your mercy. . . dear readers. Thanks to the couple of you who have checked in on me. I'm fine, really. I've discovered that not only is the kitchen the heart of our home, apparently it is also a metaphor for our life.

Seems when the kitchen is in chaos, the whole order and routine of the home goes down the drain! I've spent a large portion of this week re-arranging cupboards, purging pantries, laying shelf paper, organizing and re-organizing drawers, and re-arranging it all again. Learning new traffic patterns in the more open workspace has been harder than I thought. Most days, I pad around the place in slippers and have had a couple near misses without some good traction under me. In fact, the first day that everything started to go back into place, I actually turned my ankle.  Ridiculous, I know.

I'm happy to say that great progress has been made. Dishes have found homes. Spices have been shelved and labelled. I'm anxious to reveal the final project but with the long hours that The Boss has to work in this busy season at the hospital (I know, figures we'd take on a project of this proportion when there's also a big project or two in process at work!)  This weekend should glean us some great progress. We might even squeak in an attic-attack too.

But please, please, I beg some extended mercy. At the beginning of this coming week, I will be pretty out of the loop here in my little blogging community. I'm going to be out of town taking care of some important family business. I would appreciate your prayers for speedy recovery and improved health for my loved one. And clarity and wisdom for me as I minister and assist.

And soon, very soon, I will share pictures of my beautiful new kitchen. Well, new using old stuff.  Renovations like this make me love my Boss all the more. And when you see what he's done with the place, I think you'll all agree, he's BOSS!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

How to keep a single-minded toddler busy . . . .

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Before My Coffee

I wouldn't believe it except that I just lived it.

The friendly local woodpecker began work early this morning. Like, 3:45 a.m. early.  Apparently, diligence and a strong work ethic are very important to Mr. Woodpecker.

Li'l Empress was arguing with someone in her sleep. At 5:27 a.m. Apparently, whining and hitting the mattress with a sleepy, yet vehement, "No," wore her out. She fell back to sleep.

Baby BlueEyes woke up very grouchy and crabby this a.m.  He was positive he had "something" in his eye (it's really just his allergies irritating his eye). Apparently, crying and stomping off washed "something" out.

Baby BlueEyes also had three miniscule splinters buried in the palm of his hand that COULD. NOT. WAIT. to be removed!  Apparently, our door frames are very rustic and rough on his tender little palms.

LadyBug is feeling her fashion-oats this morning. Today's ensemble is a conglomeration of colors not likely ever partnered for day wear before. Topping it off with some kind of loopy, floppy ponytail thingy was just the right finishing touch. Apparently, she is also immune to the odd looks and snorts that passed between her brothers as she presented herself for a good-bye kiss and prayer.

AT THE VERY SAME MOMENT that I was performing what seemed to be dramatic, life-saving, torturous surgery on her big brother while he was writhing in pain at the kitchen island, Li'l Empress slammed her pinky finger in the hinge of the hall closet doors.  Apparently, I reminded her of the potential for pain just a smidge too late.

All of this occurred BEFORE 8 a.m. Before my coffee even finished brewing.

I'm exhausted. Is it Friday yet?!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!!!!!!

My beautiful lilacs are bursting forth.
The blooms are petite and lush.
The fragrance is intoxicating.
The memories they evoke are tender and precious.

Playing under the lilac bushes in Grandma's backyard.
Making tea sets out of large leaves and biscuits out of blooms.
Breaking twigs and sticks into forks and spoons for our feast.
The memories pile up and create a little cabin that feels like "home."
No matter where I am.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Oh, What A Night!

Last night, my favorite show celebrated their 100th episode.  It was a delightful episode, quirky, funny and witty.

But the most amazing thing about the whole episode was a 3 or 4 second blip on the screen. An FBI agent slamming a stack of papers onto a copier and walking away with his copies.  My Dave. My two Daves.


I was so happy.  Two Daves, two generations. Two celebrity crushes in one episode. It was a good night for this momma.

Oh, what a night.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Anything BUT Natural

I had an interesting conversation with my sister the other night. We were discussing the difficulties of raising godly children and sharing thoughts about consistency and laying down of self, specifically for the cause of raising our kids to be "others" focused. And how hard it is, sometimes even within a church community, to stay intentional with those goals. Let's face it, when you are a mom, those to character traits are KEY to getting through the day without losing your mind. But they are so much bigger than surviving a day with teens who know way more about life than Mom does or with toddlers who wake up determined to test every ounce of patience and selflessness you may have gained to this point today. (Not that my kids ever behave in those ways. . . . snort!)

We've been talking a lot in recent months, The Boss and I, with our Gang about this idea of laying down of self. We usually call it teamwork around here.  I have found myself discontent with how easy it has become for all of us to play the blame game. By how quickly we all default to the mode of  looking out for self.  We all do it, it's our flesh's natural inclination. We are bombarded every day with messages to "look out for Number One" and "get your name out there," or "I deserve this . . " and other self-promoting agendas.

I realize that training myself and my children to conscientiously look out for others and intentionally take care of those around us (especially those who cannot speak for themselves) is pretty counter-culture. I get that outside the four walls of our home, and beyond the community of believers with whom we relate, this sounds like the fast track to nowhere. But as I keep chatting with my kids and processing out loud some of the things we feel that the Lord is calling us toward, I keep coming back to an old song that nails it for me, every time.  Some of you will remember this one:

This week, as I've been praying for my kids and for some keys to breaking through these "natural inclinations," I found myself reciting a verse I learned back in high school. If I remember correctly, it was no easier memorizing this section of the Word back then than it is now. And just as hard to put it into practice, then as it is now.

Philippians 2:1-4 (The Message)
"If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand."

When you throw in the necessary element of consistency and mix it all up, it seems almost like an impossible mission. I mean, I've been working at this effort of laying down my flesh and trying to be consistently submitted to those around me in a loving and selfless manner since. . . . well, for a long time now.  (Ha, you thought I was gonna type that huge number out loud here, didn't ya?!)  It's hard. It's really hard and it's made harder each time I choose to walk out my doors and interact with the world around me. The pushing and jockeying for position at the express line. The search (and LOSS!) of the perfect parking spot in the rain. The rushed and harried driver who passes on the right, breaking both the speed limit and the sound barrier simultaneously. The warm, soft couch vs. the pile of dishes in the sink. Even if it ISN'T my dish day.  Ouch. It's hard.

A friend reminded me today (as she told me a lovely story about her son's exploration into trying harder to be what God calls us to be . . .) that this is why we need forgiveness. And why GRACE is such a gift. Because our natural inclinations are only too selfish and sinful. And forgiveness and grace help us be more like Jesus every day. And that's anything BUT natural from where I'm sitting.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

 Learning how to ride a trike is hard work.

 Big brother makes it look so easy!

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pancake Protest

It was a big weekend for The Gang. We had a delightful day on Saturday with most of my family in town sharing a meal together. The Boss filled and hid the kids' Easter baskets and Li'l Empress really got into it this year. She was delighted with her stash. Worship at church was so refreshing, and Li'l Empress even spent some time in her 2 & 3 year old class while I sat in the perimeter of the room. She participated in everything the other kids did, keeping a watchful eye to see that Momma was still lurking nearby. That was great progress for us!

The rest of our Sunday was quiet, with The Boss puttering around working on little projects toward finishing the kitchen. The kids played in the sunshine. I napped on the couch between chapters in my book and picking through my Easter candy. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the peaceful, low-key day together.


Until I hopped on F@cebook while the kids were watching Extr&me H*me M@keover and spied an internet rumor that Baby BlueEye's beloved Donovan McNabb was being traded to the Washington Redskins.  It all went downhill really fast from there.

It took a minute for Baby BlueEyes to process the news, which I broke as gently as I could once Dr. D and I verified the rumors. Once it sunk in, he cried off and on for the rest of the night. Judging from his puffy red eyes this morning, I think the poor little fan cried himself to sleep.

And this morning, he's still glum. Still morose.  Still feeling "done wrong" by the Eagles franchise.

He has gone activist on me. In support of his beloved #5 and in protest of the (in HIS opinion) lousy business decisions of the Eagles leadership, this is what I found on his plate this morning at breakfast.

I must add, that his views are not representative
of the whole Gang.
The rest of us are taking a "wait and see"
approach to this move.

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's A Good Weekend to Adopt A Daughter!

You might remember that I have requested prayer occasionally over the last year for a bloggy friend of mine, Stephanie at Salzwedel Family Adventures.  She was part of the Haiti adoption program, and her adoption of sweet little Anchise fell through when Anchise's birth mother re-appeared and changed her mind at the 11th hour about surrendering her parental rights.  After much grieving and seeking God's plans, their family moved on to the Ghana program. They were subsequently matched to an adorable little girl named Mercy. Even her name seemed a gift from God after the hardships of the previous year or so. 

Although the Ghana program is usually a fairly stable and well-moving process, this poor family has endured yet more setbacks after setbacks in the last nine or ten months. These last three weeks have been especially tumultuous and arduous to endure, as they waited for news of a missing passport (seriously, you can't make this stuff up!), delayed visa appointments, and escalating airfare costs. Several of us have been lifting poor Stephanie in prayer via our F@cebook connections, sending her notes of encouragements and leaving Scriptures on her "Wall."  It's been so inspiring to see this woman not falter in her conviction that sweet little Mercy was coming home. Though her emotions have been all over the place some days, her faith in God's provision and God's protection over their entire family, including Mercy way across the ocean!, has been a privilege to witness.  She has challenged my faith and been a wonderful example of standing strong and tall in the promises God gives.

For a great summary in Stephanie's own words about their whole big long story, go HERE.

It is with GREAT joy and excitement that I get to share with you the incredible news that Stephanie is leaving at 3 p.m. this afternoon and winging her way toward Ghana.  She's due to arrive in Ghana on Saturday evening (our time) to finalize the adoption of Mercy.  They'll be heading home early this coming week.

Please, if you have some time, head over to their blog and leave some bloggy love for them. Let them know you are praying for them. It's a lot of change and adjustment that they will all be facing in the coming months. New family dynamics will emerge. Birth orders and roles will alter, even if only slightly.  It's a lot of sleep cycle changes and culture changes that little Mercy will experience. Everything familiar: sights, sounds, smells, colors, textures, and so much more. It's all going to be new and different. They'll need all the prayer support and coverage they can get. And I know they will appreciate the encouragement.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It IS A Big Deal

Last week, we got the privilege of watching Shaggy be inducted to the National Honor Society. Because he attends a cyber-charter school, the dinner and ceremony were held in the "great hall" of a local university. It was a wonderful evening to get away and spend some time focused just on him, talking about his future plans, laughing together, and then seeing him honored.

In the days leading up to the event, I was figuring out logistics for getting the three of us to the dinner, finding someone to take care of the littlest three, and arranging rides for Dr. D to and from track practice. Shaggy kept insisting that it was really not that big a deal. That, if it was too much effort and craziness to get all the things in place, he'd be fine with us skipping the event. Yeah. Like THAT would ever happen.  We spent a lot of time trying to convince him that the NHS IS a very big deal. That it's a wonderful organization, that it's a nation-wide recognition of his years of hard work and dedication to academic excellence. He wasn't getting us. He also hates recognition for things that he thinks he "should just be doing anyway." He doesn't like spotlight, and he's really not crazy about effusive praise or congratulatory accolades.  I'm hoping it's because he's humble and not because he doesn't feel as if he deserves it. . . I'm still figuring that one out.

Anyway, the leadership of the school asked the parents to send a recent picture and write a short letter of congratulations to their student, following a bit of a format they provided.  As the 12 letters were being read that night, I was struck by three major themes in almost every one. These letters noted strong family connection, faith communities, and high expectations. I mean, in the words used were things like, "promises fulfilled" and "dreams achieved" and "goals met." I was struck by how many of those letters called out destinies and promises in their children. By how many of these kids stretched to reach for the high bars set by their parents and are now setting their own higher bars of excellence. The letters were lovely words of pride for things already accomplished and gentle expectations of things still to come. By the end of the evening, I think Shaggy had a really good idea that this really IS a big deal.

I was so proud to watch him interacting with the teachers and students he met that night. These are people with whom he interacts via cyber classes regularly, but he seems to have no problems connecting with them in person. And when it came time for pictures, he didn't balk at all.  (Remember, he hates spotlight.) In fact, while we were standing there, I got a very sweet little squeeze. In front of other people!  And that, my friends IS A VERY BIG DEAL to this Momma!

Congratulations, Shaggy. We are very proud of you.
And very excited to see you continue to grow in excellence
in your academics, your leadership,
and in the plans God has for your future!

And why, oh why, did no one in the house tell me
that this sweater makes me look pregnant
when its closed down the front?!