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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Amazing Love



My husband and I watched the third Narnia movie last week. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I am so grateful those books were made into movies. Regardless of what you think of C.S. Lewis' theology, he's a great storyteller. (If you'd like to learn more about his theology, you can check out my husband's posts on Wes White's blog. The blog is www.weswhite.net. Brian's posts are here, here, and here.)

There was something in the movie that changed me. One of those paradigm shifts that God gives. One that is slippery and vague, but one that leaves me holding on for dear life. It's hard to explain, so forgive my, uh, rambling.

The two youngest children arrive in Narnia with their cousin in tow. He clearly does not belong. The siblings do. They are in a place that is not their earthly home. They are one of many types of creatures that live there. But they are different. They are royalty. They are accepted. Completely. Without question. Without merit. They are accepted because they are who they are by the One who defines them. With this acceptance comes responsibility. They don't earn their place in this world. They are already of this world. But they are not called to sit. They are called to Great Obedience. Great Adventure. Great Cost. Great Reward.

Have you ever been completely accepted? By anyone? Honestly, that's an impossible concept to grasp for me. As task-oriented, goal driven as I am, I can't even accept myself completely. The complete acceptance of someone else? Shamefully laughable.

The movie gives me an illustration of something I think we all breathlessly hope for. Something we would eagerly die for. Something that is completely foreign in this world. Absolute acceptance of who we are. Definition of absolute: a. Not limited by restrictions or exceptions; unconditional.

I get emotional thinking about it. I want to bask in it. I want to live in it for awhile. I want to know the realness of it. On a long term basis. But the truth is, if I look to anyone other than God for that knowledge, I will never feel that perfect acceptance. Nor will I be able to give it. Not even a little.

The second part of this post is the Obedience that is requested because we are Accepted. It might take me awhile...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Workin' It Out



I believe in being healthy. I believe in being balanced. I like to introduce lots of things for my girls so that they have a wide assortment of activities to choose from. I don't want to overload them with too much. Right now we have a ONE activity policy. My oldest does gymnastics once a week. My youngest does dance once a week. I might break down next year and let them have two. Especially if they are in the same class. ANYWAY.
I have really been wanting to go to the gym on a regular basis. But NOT at 5:30 a.m. Which is what I would need to do if I wanted to do my full workout and be home by 7:00 a.m. Which I would need to do to get breakfast on the table. So I tried to take my oldest with me one morning around 9:00. She did amazingly well. She tried the weights when I lifted. She watched a little TV while I ran. We went on the track and chased each other awhile.
So today I thought I would take both girls. I brought their Spooner board. I brought a plastic bowling set. (Both of these things were introduced to us at the Kid's Fair. They rock.) We were going to take over the gym and get busy. BUT I didn't know there was a Health Fair today in the gym.
So we improvised. We played chase up on the track. We looked at a few of the booths at the Health Fair. We looked at the video games. We went into the weight room.
Working out with two little ones is COMPLETELY different than with one. Needless to say, we were in there for about 10 minutes, as Little One bit the dust on the rubbery floor and wouldn't stop crying. I decided it was close enough to nap time to call it quits. But my girls are such health nuts, they wanted to see the cardio room.
Sounded good to me. We went in and Little One promptly tried every machine she could. Except the treadmills. Those are really huge for a 36 inch kid. My oldest jumped right on. Eventually, Little One decided she would try too, as long as it didn't go too fast. Soon they were having a blast. Then, as if it couldn't get any better, they realized they had TV screens on their treadmills. And on the wall. And no one was in there. So, we worked it out to Martha Speaks. Don't judge. Use whatever motivates you.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Stick My What?

I took the girls to kindergarten prescreen last week. The school nurse did eye and ear tests on both of them. After they were all done, she called me in.

Apparently my youngest has astigmatism in both eyes. I'm sad that she is probably going to have to hide her beautiful blue eyes behind some glasses. But I'm hoping it will help her see stuff better.

I have to say, I don't notice her holding things up close or far away so she can see better, but the doctor will tell me more next week. I'll let you know...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How I Wasted $6 and Almost Burned Down My House with One Piece of Fruit

I blame it on volleyball.

One of the coaches brought in some dried fruit and nut mix. I didn't know what the pinkish- orange things were. I tried one. It was AMAZING. It took me a while to figure out, but I finally decided it was a dried papaya. I had never eaten a fruit that tasted so sweet. It was like eating nature's own Starburst. I stole one every time I was alone in the office.

Then, in an unbelievable twist, I found fresh ones at the grocery store. I KNOW. Who would have thought?!? I like to try new fruits and veggies with the girls every once in awhile, so I bought it. It cost $6. Yeah. But it tastes so GOOOOD! It would be totally worth it.

We got it home. We let it sit on the counter for a few days to ripen. I sliced it open one day.
IT WAS...gross.

It didn't taste anything like the dried variety I had devoured earlier in the year. The girls weren't thrilled with it either. OK. Bummer, but I had another plan.

We would dry it!

When we add sugar and reduce the water content, it will taste JUST like the stuff I had out of the bag.

So. I found a recipe. I got out the foil and my cookie sheet. I cut up the huge papaya, mixed it with sugar, put it on the cookie sheet, and popped it in the oven. At 250 for the next umpteen hours. I was so excited. I kept the temp low. I wanted to slowly dehydrate the yummy fruit so it would taste just like the store bought brand. I checked on it periodically. Then I got distracted with the chores of the day. And it happened...

There was a strange smell coming from the oven. I ran over to check on my beloved papaya. When I opened the door, I saw the flames. From the bottom of the oven. HOW COULD MY OVEN BE ON FIRE AT 250 DEGREES!?! WHY WERE THE FLAMES ON THE BOTTOM OF THE OVEN! HOW DOES PAPAYA TASTE SMOKED?!? (Why, Oh, Why did this happen to me!!! Again. But that's another story.)

Oh. The cookie sheet. Huh. The cookie sheet didn't have an edge on it. As the water was released from the papaya, it mixed with the sugar and dripped onto the bottom of the oven. Where the heating element is. Yeah. Does anyone else remember that sugar and heat create a nice flame? Well, I will remember from now on. THAT IS FOR SURE.

I pulled out my papaya. We each tried it. Amazingly, it still tasted....gross. Just chewier now. And, I now also have the added benefit of figuring out how to get concentrated papaya juice off the bottom of my oven before my next meal.

I have been told I have tenacity. Or put another way, I don't know when to LET. IT. GO. I think from now on I will weigh the financial loss of my failed purchases with the personal cost of hearing the smoke alarm. In my sleep. For months. I'm sure I can learn something.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Things She Said

Cute things my daughter has said in the last 24 hours:

1)
We were at the store getting last minute items for my husband's birthday. She saw someone with a balloon.

E, "Mom, we didn't get a balloon for Dad!"
Me, "You're right."
E, thinking for a bit, "I know! I will give him my old balloon. 'Cuz he's getting old, too!"



2)
Recently the girls spent the night with their grandmother. As we were leaving that night, she had tears in her eyes, but was trying to be brave. They did great with grandma. After the sleepover, we were in the car.

E, "Mom, I didn't miss you."
Me, "I'm glad, honey. I missed you. We talked about you while you were gone."
E, "What did you say?"
Me, "I don't know. Just talked about you, that's all."
E, "Did you say, 'E's a genius?"
Me, "Um. Yeah. You're a genius, and J is a prodigy. That's what we said, all right!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Rose

My Ballerina


On Picture Day

Flattery

My oldest, pretending to be Jasmine.

She did a great job with what she had available to her.
The top is actually a swim skirt.
The bangle at her ankle is a ponytail.

It's His Party!

Happy Birthday to my Best Friend!


We have officially known each other half of our lives.
I can't wait to see what the next half holds.
Love you!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Moo!

My oldest and I were shopping alone today at Kohl's. I am looking for an Easter dress. We passed by one rack of blouses that had large leopard print on them.
My daughter says, "Mom! Look! You could be a zebra! Or a cow!"

...And that's how you know you live in the Midwest.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dinner Bribe

This is what we did after dinner tonight.
Or what we did because they ate their dinner tonight.
Sometimes one must be creative to entice them to eat their pot roast...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

OK. I'm doing it.

I had to clean my house this week. Because we were having company. No. Horribly, my family is not used to seeing a clean house on a regular basis. But that's beside the point...
As I was cleaning, I noticed a lot of corners that needed to be swept, beds that needed to be dusted under, walls that needed to be wiped down. The perfectionist in me screams with the unfinished work. The pragmatist in me drives me to do the best I can with the time I've allotted. Neither one is wrong. But if I'm going to clean, I would like to clean it all. Wait. That's a lie. I would like the house to be deep cleaned. I don't really want to do it. Although I would be embarrassed to have someone do it for me. Because that means I can't do it myself.
My problem is that I'm not interested in doing it. Cleaning is hard for me, because as soon as it's clean it starts being unclean again. And I don't like to repeat myself. Ask my girls.
But there is value in cleaning. Besides it keeping my family healthy, maintaining good stewardship with my belongings, and being able to find stuff, it also builds my character. As my dad used to say, It'll put hair on your chest!" Or as I tell my volleyball team, "It's like broccoli. You may not like it, but it's good for you!"
SO ANYWAY...
I was struck by the similarities in cleaning my house and keeping my spirit clean. And I had to ask myself these questions. Do I just dust the surfaces? Enough to keep appearances? Or do I really discipline myself and let Christ burn the impurities away? I think it's pretty easy to answer. If you see me in passing, I look relatively fresh. If you spend time with me, you will see cracks, shadowy corners, greasy patches. The people who know me best see the HUGE dust bunnies, mold, and decaying flesh. Yes, it's morbid. Yes, it's true. And what am I doing about it? The perfectionist in me screams with the unfinished work. The pragmatist in me drives me to do the best I can with the time allotted.
The question I have been asking myself is "What is the time requirement I need to deep clean my soul?" My time is finite. What am I spending it on? I stay up late to read the news or Facebook. I research sales, healthy food, and parenting. My time allotted for sanctification is small. Because I make it small.
Why do I do that? I get immense value when I take the time to delve into God's word. I feel closer to Him. I love others better. My guess is, I make it small for the same reason I don't like to clean: I have to keep doing it. Just because I have one amazing week with God doesn't mean I'm fully sanctified. My life is full of distractions, sin, human nature. I have to work at this relationship if I want to further it. I have to get down and dirty. I have to plan ahead. I have to focus. Things that are a challenge for me. Particularly right now.
I need to get disciplined again. I feel like I'm stumbling dizzily through life right now. Not able to keep a linear thought in my head. This is my fault. I have let myself do this.
I am planning on restructuring my days. Scheduling them, by the hour if I have to, so that I can honor the One I love. And the ones I love. I can do it. I've done it before. I get great satisfaction in it. It will just be difficult in the beginning. Like working out. Kind of painful until I can get those muscles working and built up again.
I covet your prayers on this issue in my life. I'd like to see my house, and my soul, presentable for guests.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dusting

A couple of days ago it was 60.
Today it's snowing.
The robins are pissed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Country 'Tis of Thee


Did you know we get to see the Statue of Liberty every day?
You didn't think that's possible in SoDak, did you?

Ballroom

Grandpa Bob came for a visit this week.

One evening my little ones needed to dance for us.



It turned into a sweet time of princes and princesses, twirling and bowing.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Signs of Spring

We have had a few nice days here in SoDak. Here's the proof:








More Proof:



Is it really mid-April?

This is really late, but wanted to show you how we celebrated April Fool's Day with the 5-and-under set. Daddy was super thrilled that his Silk was also multi-hued.





Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cheers!



I have a habit of singing songs that spew forth from my subconscious. I guess it's like the bible verse Luke 6:45. "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."

For instance. One day someone was being overbearing. Telling me things I didn't think they needed to tell me. A couple of minutes later I was singing Billy Joel, "It's My Life, Leave Me Alone." Theme song to Bosom Buddies.

I don't do it on purpose. I often sing a song, wonder where it came from, and then do some deep self-analyzing before I figure it out.

So, I'm totally concerned. Tonight, as I'm folding laundry, I'm singing the chorus to Jimmy Buffet, "Margaritaville."

Any psychoanalysis would be appreciated.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Laundry


After finding some interesting things that made their way into my daughters' laundry basket, I want to know:

What's the craziest thing YOU'VE found in your laundry?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Recurring Theme


A few months ago, I read the girls the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. We listed all the dwarfs, and assigned a dwarf to each of us. E was Sneezy, J was Sleepy. I asked the girls who I should be. E says, "You should be Grumpy, cuz you're grumpy all the time!"

I was disconcerted by this, and vowed to myself to be better.

Fast forward to today. I am reading the girls a Care Bear book. On one page was Share Bear, Cheer Bear, and Grumpy Bear. Again, I was delegated Grumpy Bear by my eldest.

For some reason, I'm not as sad about this as I was the first time.

I think it's because I've watched other moms. Moms who are fun and entertaining when speaking with adults. Moms who can complete thoughts, ideas and concepts with the intellectual level worthy of listening attentively. And then...they are interrupted by their children. And their faces go from unguarded and animated to focused and stern. They listen and think about what their child is saying to the best of their ability. They pass judgment on the Crisis of The Moment, all the while with their eyebrows furrowed. When the Crisis has passed, they clumsily go back to the adult conversation they were having. I realized they had switched into Mom Mode.

I didn't know there was such a thing until I became a mom.

Mom-Mode is not a bad thing. Not saying that at all. And I am in Full On Mom-Mode. My girls are five and four. I feel like this time is essential in guiding them through every little circumstance, so that they can learn to steer the wheel correctly as they get older. Mom-Mode can feel like Grumpy Bear to the kids. There are so many rules to learn. Really. Who can figure it all out at age five? But I have to try. I am obligated to try.

And I am obligated to give them my full attention when they need it, furrowed brow and all.

But Mom-Mode can have consequences. I have, unfortunately, seen many a mom who has lost her sense of humor over the years. Whose lightness gave way to permanent heaviness in spirit.

Who seriously needs Botox.

The process of motherhood changes you. It highlights your fears and insecurities. Your sins. It presents you with scenarios that may not be worst-case, but seemingly never-ending. I am ashamed to admit how little it takes before Cheer Bear morphs into Grumpy Bear. (I would love to have a visual for that. Highly entertaining to the Incredible Hulk set.) I have to find the joy in the little things, to praise the small accomplishments. And as a task-oriented person, I have to fight to do that for them. I have to value my children much higher than what I am naturally capable of doing.

According to E, I'm not doing that very well.

My hope is as my children get older, my brows are not fixed in a permanent pucker. That I remember how to be as funny and relaxed as I was before kids. (I know, as funny and as relaxed as is possible for me. Because I'm nominal at both.) I want to be funny and relaxed with my kids. Allow them to grow on their own, with my influence appropriately diminishing with their growing independence. I want to interact with them as equals. As sisters in Christ. As highly valued friends.

I want them to remember my love for them as a deeply joyful thing.

In the meantime, I will probably pull out the Care Bear book a couple of times a year, and gauge my progress as we read. I may never get to Cheer Bear status, but hopefully they will see less of Grumpy Bear in the coming years.