Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oh! The! Drama!

Yesterday was miserable here.
The morning was cool, humid, cloudy and dreary.
Li'l Empress and Little Gal were in MOOOO -OOOOODS to match.
I pulled the oldest mommy trick out of my bag o' tricks
and set them up for (at least) a few minutes of drama free fun.

Who doesn't love an old-fashioned blanket fort?!

Don't let those sweet smiles fool you.
The drama runneth over yesterday.
All. morning. long.
This distraction only bought me about 1/2 hour
of peaceful relations between warring nations.

Little Guy was totally oblivious to the drama.
All he cares about is the fire truck that rumbles
and blares its siren.
Oh, and the garbage truck.
That one makes really cool crunching noises.
They fascinate him.

It's a good thing nap time comes at the same time every day.
I'm happy to say that both girls woke with new moods.
Dramatically different moods.
Heh. It might have been the "come to Jesus" meeting
and prayer revival I hosted after lunch.

Here's to a drama free day. Enjoy yours!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


There's been a lot of conversation around here lately about expectations. It seems to me that whenever there is a season of change, conversations about expectations are not far behind.  The relationship between change and expectation is a curious link for me. As it turns out, we are in quite the season for all of it:

Preparing and planning for child #6
Two kids heading back to public school for the first time in two years,
Momma working at home four days a week,
Shaggy praying about his post-high school plans
and so much more change than I can even list here

I find the adjusting of expectations to be a difficult thing. When my expectations are adjusted even in the the nicest possible way, I balk. (Don't we all? Or is that just me?!) When my expectations are adjusted in an unexpected, or worse, a rude or thoughtless manner, I fold. I retreat. I crumble a bit inside.  I suspect that it's the same for many of you. (If it's not, don't tell me, I prefer to think I'm not alone in this. Thanks!)

Recently, I had a situation of dashed expectations that was painful. While The Boss was not surprised at the outcome but I think he was a little surprised at my adjustment and my retreat. He couldn't figure out why I was surprised at the outcome. (Marriage is such an interesting dynamic for the conversation about expectations, isn't it?) I'm not being vague to be coy, I'm being vague because the situation itself is a rather universal, almost mundane one, especially now that I am several weeks out from it. But it left me thinking a LOT about adjusting expectations.

You see, I know that I have high expectations of myself, my family, my kids. Of my relationships and my ability to navigate in healthy ways through them. I also know that my expectations are usually rather rosy, idealistic, even "Polly-anna-ish."  I tend to be the "glass- half-full" in our home - I expect positive outcomes even from my highest expectations. To be truthful, I kinda like my high expectations. I think they keep me moving forward. Trying. While I know that those expectations won't always pan out in that rosy manner, I am loathe to talk myself into expecting differently. The Boss doesn't always get this, as he's more of a realist than I and gently reminded me that expecting a change or a growth in this particular issue was kind of setting myself up for disappointment. For a couple days, I agreed with him. While I was nursing my hurt feelings and frustration.

But by the time I'd prayed through my feelings, I decided that I don't really want to expect something different to come of these dynamics. Even if "something different" was exactly what happened. I don't want to stop expecting growth and maturity. From myself or from my relationships. It feels too much like lowering my expectations.
To be clear, I do understand that unrealistic expectations in relationships or in any other area of life can set me up (and those I with whom I am in relationship) for more than disappointment. It can lead to failure and to destruction and wounding. That is not the kind of expectation of which I am speaking.
Being an adult in an adult world brings with it all kinds of expectations for growth, very often triggered by a call to change. At work, at  school, in community organizations - expectations of growth are everywhere. To take it a step further, I am a believer in The Gospel of Jesus Christ: the greatest written set of high expectations and urgings for change that exist! As I sit and think about the teaching in the Word that I have received and the reading and studying that I do on my own time, I hear My Father speak to me all the time of the need to change. To grow. To expect that He will show me where I need to grow. To expect that He will do the work of that expectation, if you will. It hurts, it takes work, but it's in the Word. Right? Does this make sense to anyone else out there?!

In times when my expectations are disappointed (either by other fallible folks in my life or by my own unreasonable or unhealthy desires), I need to grow through that, too. Make no mistake, it hurts when my unreasonableness is spotlighted. It hurts when people disappoint me. It hurts when I think things could be different and they end up being the same. But I need to press on (not fold!), figure out what the appropriate adjustment is, and let the rest of the unpleasant or painful parts of it go. I'm learning about myself that I have a long way to go in that area. I tend to take into my heart all of it, and even let it linger and wound. In this season of so much change, I'm facing that truth about myself and being set free by the revelation that My Father doesn't intend me to take on the pain of someone else's mishandling of healthy expectations.

And I get to do it all with five sets of little eyes watching me. I am expected to teach my kids about The Father's expectations of them, our expectations of them, and about handling those expectations. I need to be about the business of teaching my kids to have expectations of themselves, reasonable AND excellent, because that is what the Word says they are capable of. I am learning to let them see my process and talk to them about it as I am growing. And when one of my gang is struggling with his or her own failed expectations, as much as it hurts, I have to learn to let them navigate their own balance of learning and healing.

Expectations are everywhere. Never more so than when change is looming on the horizon. My heart for my journey of faith is to let Him mold my expectations and let Him dictate what is Truth when I face disappointments of my expectations and what is not. I believe He created me with a mindset toward high expectations. It's part of my wiring. I don't want to let go of what His expectations are in me. As my gang watches me grapple with the process, I can only pray that they learn the healthy balance and journey forward in a quest for their own balance.

But I sure hope that they learn to expect that the balance will always change. Isn't that the way of it?!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rare and Treasured

After a jam-packed week and a serious "run-around" errand day, our Friday night was very slow-paced and peaceful around here. A rare and treasured moment was in the making.

The older two boys were off at Homecoming festivities at the high school. The middle two were snuggled up (separately, of course!) on the living room couch with blankets and pillows, watching a two-hour special of Extreme Home Makeover with The Boss. I was wrapped up in my blanket, steeping in a good book in the family room. And Li'l E was bouncing between the two rooms, checking to make sure I was still 'dere" when she tired of sitting still on the other couch.

The last time she peeked into the family room, I beckoned her over and pulled her onto my lap. I had turned the tv on by then, catching myself up on my dvr'd shows. As she lay down on my chest, I started playing with her hair and rubbing her back. In less than 10 minutes, her breathing had slowed and her body was going limp. The Boss caught the sweet moment for me on camera.

It's rare that she slows down enough to let me snuggle her this long. Let alone long enough to fall asleep. Even her bedtime routine has become so "grown up." She refuses help with her jammies, she pulls down her own covers. She arranges all her little buddies all by herself. I am not allowed to help. She climbs into her bed and says, "No sank you" oh, so politely! when I ask her to sit and rock in the chair with me first. She is so independent. So determined to be "a big girl" just like her big sister, that she rarely allows for this kind of "babying," even when I know she may need it. And lately, it really feels like she has desperately needed it.

Babysitting for Little Gal and Little Guy has been good for her, on many levels. She has a built-in playmate with Little Gal almost every day. She gets to exercise all her little mommy skills and dote on Little Guy, who just laps it all up. She's learning to share, to compromise, to play cooperatively, to negotiate, and more. But, as with all good learning experiences, there have been some difficult moments for her little heart along the way.

She is still not sure about sharing Mommy. Even when she knows that they are going home at the end of the day, even when she knows that Fridays are her "mommy daughter dates." Even though she knows that she belongs here and they are just visiting. Knowing it and feeling it are two different things. When they are here, she tends to be more sensitive, less tolerant, and even sometimes a bit passive aggressive in her resistance to my "character training."  This week was especially hard, as Little Gal and Little Guy had been away with family for almost two weeks. I think Li'l E was pretty convinced that she had me all to herself again.

Unfortunately, I totally neglected to think about the return to our "normal schedule" from her perspective. I was looking at their family trip as "time off" to get some projects done (pics coming on the boys' room re-do soon, I promise!). I was looking at their return as my return to routine. I forgot how difficult adjustments are for four-year olds. And in the forgetting, I spent much of this past week frustrated at the intense referee'ing that I had to do. Irritated at the immovable nature Li'l E was exhibiting over some of the negotiations that I tried to lead the two girls through. There were more tears than normal. More time-outs than normal. More snapping (mine) and whining (hers) than normal. I realized about half-way through Thursday morning (yeah, I'm slow on the uptake like that! Sigh.) what was really going on. And spent the rest of the day dealing with Li'l E and Little Gal in light of that revelation (uh, duh, finally!).

So, sitting on the couch, snuggled in my arms and utterly at rest, I soaked it in. And I lavished it back on her. while she slept. Because even though she thinks she is a very big girl, even though she thinks she doesn't need it, we both need those rare and treasured moments.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {bye week}

Sunday Snapshot

It's a "bye week" for our beloved Eagles. So instead of gathering around ye olde tv, stuffing our faces with unhealthy "football food," and yelling our brains out together, we sat at the dinner table like civilized folk. After a hearty meal of Creamy Garlic Shrimp over Parmesan Polenta (OOOOOHHHHH, yes, it was good. You have no idea how good!), The Gang dispersed to individual pursuits. I thought it might be fun to take a walking tour around the place to let you peek in on how The Gang spent the unfootball family day.

Shaggy set up some garbage cans
and parked my van out on the street.
To practice parallel parking.

The Boss watched from a safe location.

He was very focused and measured his marks
very carefully.
He is determined to nail this skill.

 I had to stop watching.
I think I was making him nervous.
And when he got that close to my baby, I mean, my van
I got nervous myself.

There's never a truly non-football day for this guy.
He watched the other games for a little while.

But this game wasn't interesting enough for him.
So he went to the other tv and rocked the Madden
for a while instead.

LadyBug prefers her solitude most days.
So she headed off to practice her clarinet.
I think I may have forgot to mention
that she made third chair in her jr. high Wind Ensemble.
We are so proud.

I have no pics of Baby BlueEyes because he spent the entire afternoon playing across the neighborhood with his friends. He will sleep good tonight. After a run with me to the grocery store and then a long shower to de-grime himself, that is!

Li'l Empress practiced "Jingle Bells" for a while on her
kitty piano. But that got boring.
 So she headed outside and helped The Boss
plant the pretties and weed the garden.
But that got boring.
So she rode her bike for a while and pretended to race
Shaggy while he drove back and forth for parking practice.

Apparently all that parking practice really wore him out.
I caught him napping in his semi-finished room.

And while LadyBug and I snuck out for a quick run to purchase curtains
for the semi-finished room, I hear that The Boss stole a quick nap too.

So.... That's how The Gang spent the bye week.
The Eagles will be back next week and so we'll
be back in our family huddle 'round the tv.
Hopefully cheering our brains out for our team.

If you stopped by as part of Sunday Snapshot
leave me a comment and I'll come by to say hi.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Takin' On The Big Brass

First it was the drums. Shakin' the rafters. And the floor joists. 
Then there was an all-too-short dance with the French horn.
And along behind that came the smooth tones of the clarinet.
Today, the brassy trombone has joined The Gang's musical adventures.

We may never be the same again.

Showing us how to put it together

Trying it on for size

 Watching the instructional dvd

Relearning how to breathe! 

Tried and true instruction

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Scar

I was washing Li'l Empress' face the other day after a particularly messy bout with a "peeder budder and jelly sammich."  I took an extra breath of a moment to study her face, lingering over her deep, bottomless black-brown eyes and her sweet little rosebud lips. And the scar just under her lower lip. The scar that halts  my admiration of her beauty and her sweetness every time I notice it anew. The scar that reminds me just how different parenting this child of mine really is.

You see, this particular scar doesn't fit with all the other little tiny scars that dot her face and torso. Those scars  tell me the tale of a nasty case of chicken pox while she still lived in China. They remind me of my own experiences with pitiful little patches of drying and crusting skin. I have quite a few similar scars of my own. I can empathize with her misery. Those scars make me sad for her itchy, feverish days in someone else's care but they don't really evoke any other response. They feel common. Normal.

But this scar? This scar is very different to me.

In pure physical appearance, it looks different. Not much larger than the chicken pox marks, it is noticeable for the way it interrupts her lower lip just ever so slightly. It's whiter. Longer. Jagged. I can easily assign it to a nasty fall. Or maybe a tumble down the stairs. After all, I do have five kids. We've had our fair share of bumps, bruises, and split lips. And my girl is really physical. It's not a hard conclusion to reach, with very little "connecting the dots" necessary.

But underneath that simple conclusion? There is nothing simple about it. In its physical appearance lends itself to contemplation of its origins. And that, my friend, is where it feels so very important. So markedly different for me.

What happened to split that pretty little lip?
Who held you when you cried?
Did you feel reassured and comforted?
Is that the first big boo-boo you ever experienced?
Did the blood from that cut make you freak out as you do now?
Is THAT where that comes from?

And so many more... so. many. more. questions. Questions on top of questions. That lead me to more questions.

I stop that train of thought in its tracks. Screeching halt, throwing the brake till smoke billows. I can almost taste the acrid smoke as I swallow and change the course of that train that wants to barrel on ahead, down the tracks.

Because that train is going nowhere good. Nowhere because these are the questions to which I will never have any real answers. I will likely never know definitive conclusions to my mother's-heart questions. That's the hard part, isn't it? The part that is so incredibly different about parenting this girl of mine. That's one of the risks, the unknown, that we take on when we sign up for this thing called adoption.

You see, each of my older kids have scars. I know that the little orzo-shaped scar under Shaggy's eye is from the headboard that fell on his head. I remember praising the Lord for His protection that night, that the rails of the headboard missed his nose, grazing his cheekbone instead.

I can see the scars on Baby BlueEyes' lower lip and instantly remember the pain and fear we all struggled through that awful summer day. I know the heart-scars that the experience left behind.

Because no matter how old they are or how tall they tower over me, I was there from.the.very.beginning. for each of those little life experiences that scarred my precious ones. I remember it all, in my momma's heart,  in many ways as if it were yesterday. A momma doesn't forget, does she?

So I stop that train. And change the tracks. Change my thoughts. I go down a different railroad all together. I turn my train of thought to gratitude.

Thanking the Lord for the care she did receive.
Praising Him for protecting her, from the worst outcomes
of things like chicken pox and falls.
Honoring the Maker who created those pretty little rosebud lips.
Glorifying The Father that knew her and held her
before I even knew her, preparing her heart for mine.

And I take an extra breath of a moment to go back to her deep and bottomless black-brown eyes. I kiss those lips, taking care to plant my kiss on the scar. And I tell her again that I love her. In my heart, I whisper that I love the scar, too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

We're At It Again!

Another home improvement project has begun....

The older boys' room was the first one we tackled when we moved to our current home. It was unfinished and empty, the "bonus room" over the garage. Not even any carpet or switch plate covers! So the jungle theme, however funky it felt at the time, is really passe for them now. Bye, bye, tropical green, King of the Jungle posters, zebra-striped lampshades, and tiger striped throw pillows.

I found this in my archives - from the weekend that The Boss
and my cousin painted the room amid new carpet fumes.
I canNOT believe it's been 7 years already!
And I CANNOT believe how little my gang all was then.
Aren't the matching VBS tees so cute?
(Baby BlueEyes was too little for that particular VBS project, I recall.)

Stay tuned for the final product. We've got a quick turn-around on this one planned, as The Boss took time off work for dedicated focus on the room.  I'm busy selling the accessories from the old room to give us some extra cash to for finishing touches. And scouting the Salvation Army and second hand stores for ideas.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

We're up to something around here.....

It's making me look back a bit.

Here's a hint.

head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

For the answer to the riddle,
come back tomorrow :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {oh yes she did}

Sunday Snapshot

I've mentioned a time or two around here that I love hymns.
I have them playing in the background
of the busy pace here at The Gang's Home quite frequently.

You know, when I'm not blastin' my country tunes and singing along to those.

Apparently, my hymn lovin' self is rubbing off on my kids. Well, at least on the girls.
Seems that about a year ago, LadyBug taught Li'l Empress the words and the tune
to "Amazing Grace." And last spring, her pre-school teachers
delighted in telling me that during circle time,
they could hear Li'l Empress singing it to her friends.
She even stood up and did a concert for them all.
Yeah, that girl doesn't like the spotlight or anything.

And it seems that, even though WE haven't heard her belting it
out any time in recent memory, she's still preaching the Word
through song to her pre-school buddies.

Below is the daily update I get from her teacher.
She didn't just sing the Word over her classmates.
She made a microphone out of papertowel tubes first.
And then she preached the Word.

And why not? After all, there is a whole new crowd that needs to know the Truth.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Good Night, Sleep Tight, And Pleasant Dreams to You...

Heh.... Are you singing the Lawrence Welk good-night song in your head now?!  I am.  I loved that show when I was little. I have delightful memories of watching it on Saturday nights, sometimes with my Grandpa when we'd be in to their house in the city for a dinner.  Hmmmmm, I can see the bubbles and the beehives now....

Ummm, yeah. Back to the point of the post. I found a new blog recently that I've really enjoyed. This week, she wrote a post that made me gasp and tear up almost before I even finished the opening paragraphs... I know that many, many of us are struggling, or have struggled, with sleeping issues with our kids. Adopted or biological. Too much (really, does any one have that?!), not enough. Fitful, night terrors. Co-sleeping, sleep sharing, sleep training, and so on. OH! The so on.

I highly encourage you to take a moment and GO HERE to read a really sweet vignette about this family's sleep issues.  The long and the short of it? It doesn't last forever. But then, neither do the snuggles. Nor do the moments that we get to stop the speeding bullet of growing up are too few and far between. Grab them when you can.

I hope the post encourages you as it did me. Stop. Take a breath. Hunker down and snatch the cuddle time when you see it staring you in the face. When you see your sweet children staring you in the face. You might just find your own dam breaking and healing flowing forth.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

21 {and counting...}

Happy 21st Anniversary to my best friend and my love, The Boss.

Who could have ever imagined, all those years ago,
where this winding road would have led?
I can't picture traveling it with anyone else but you.

Love ya, babe.
Here's to {at least}21 more!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday {Dr. D}

My Dr. D has earned a new definition to his bloggy name. No longer will he be known as Dr. D for "Doolittle." That ship sailed a long, long time ago. I'm just finally getting around to fixing it...

NOW? He's Dr. D for "DEFENSE!"

That's right. At Monday night's game, his first game back since his hand injury in the middle of Sept, my boy snagged his first interception!!!!! Yes, this football momma was screaming her brains out!

(This pic is actually from that game in Sept. when he injured his hand.
Our camera battery died shortly after kick-off this week. Ugh.)

Way to Go, Dr. DEFENSE!
His team is undefeated, with only two or three more games to go.
I love being a football momma!

that is rarely truly wordless,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.
Leave me a comment and 
I'll come by to say hi!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How Sad Is That?

The other day, we had a torrential downpour. I'm talking, the kind where the rain is driving sideways and the hail is flying freely. The temperature dropped several noticeable degrees in minutes. It was windy, dark, and not just a little startling. But we were warm, safe and dry, so we thought little of it, except to marvel at the ferocity of it.

Later, when things were settling down a bit, I had to run Dr. D (which now stands for Dr. Defense.... pics coming tomorrow with a fuller explanation of why...) over to football practice.  On the way home, I noticed a local utilities worker packing up his truck. He was working under some trees, was thoroughly soaked and I really felt bad for the poor guy. The temps had not climbed back up at all - and wet and cold is probably the worst combination of "states of being" that I can think of in moments like that.

I pulled over to the shoulder of the road and rolled down my window.

"Excuse me?"

"Yes, ma'am?" He got an almost angry look on his face, immediately as I opened my mouth.

"I just wanted to stop and tell you that you guys do great work and I'm thankful you are out here today."

Now he had a puzzled look flashing across his face, "Are you serious?"

"Yes, I'm serious. I'm pretty sure you need to hear it today."

"Seriously? Ma'am, NO ONE ever tells me that. Usually, they stop by to tell me exactly the opposite. Wow. Thank you very much."

I smiled, and put the car back in drive, "Well, I am thankful. And I'm glad I told you. Have a great day."

As I drove away, I was chuckling a bit to see him standing by his truck, watching me drive away. He still looked dumbfounded. And all I could think was how sad it is that folks actually stop on the side of the road to tell a random utility worker what a terrible job he (or, to be fair, his company) does to take care of its customers. And how sad it is that he was genuinely shocked that I wasn't doing it, too.

Really. How sad is that.