Sunday, December 30, 2007

Something Is Wrong

It's not a sudden realization, usually. Oh there very well may be a moment that you can trace back in your memory as being THE moment that it hit you, but more often than not, I'll wager a bet that it happens much more slowly. If it's anything like our experience, it's like waking up slowly--little by little you think on it in the back of your mind until it makes it's way into your consciousness.

Something is wrong.

For us it all began 2 years ago. I saw the problem, but thought it was just one islolated little problem. I dealt with it by going to one isolated little doctor and then put it out of my head. It's fine.

And the problem went away. So, sure enough, I was right. The doctor was right. No big deal.

If it had come back in the same way as it showed up that first time, I would have caught on. At least I'd like to think I would have caught on. But it didn't--it came back in new and different ways. And when you are with someone all the time you really just look past little things like this and don't even see them. It wasn't that I thought something was wrong but pushed that thought WAY in the back of my head rather than think it...that would be called denial. And I wasn't in denial--I just honestly had not thought about it or put it all together. Not until S made that comment in the living room that night.

"Little Bit is SUCH a nervous kid."

What? What are you talking about? She is not nervous! She's one of the most laid back children I've ever known! (Don't you remember how floppy she was as a baby? She would just lay there and smile and you could just flop her legs all around and she didn't care. She didn't even bother to try walking until she was 14 months old! She was just so content to sit there--I used to joke about how unmotivated she was! I have never taken care of such an easy-going baby!)

"Watch her, Brenda."

That was in June. I think it was the vocal tic that really caught our attention. She kept clearing her throat or kind of half coughing. Over and over. But didn't we just finish a round of medicine? She shouldn't be having sinus drainage. So, we made the decision to visit the doctor. Just to make sure that it was indeed something physical.

I told the doctor while he was looking her over that if there wasn't a physical reason for this, that it was just one more thing to add to the list of things we had been noticing. He finished his exam and said, "What else have you been noticing?"

And my heart just fell into my stomach. I really, really wanted to hear him say that it was sinus drainage, but he didn't. Instead he gave me the name of some neurologists "just to rule out Tourette's." But I think what he meant was "to confirm Tourette's." And that appointment is still in our future. So I honestly can't say it's Tourette's Syndrome. But if it isn't--I'll be VERY, very surprised.

So I'll be writing about this some and I just wanted you to know that. Not writing about this is clogging my brain up because it's part of our life right now. Besides, I think I have read the bulk majority of information on TS that is available on the web and there is precious little non-technical stuff to read. And what I really want is to read about a real person--a real child with these concerns. That would be helpful and encouraging in a way. So maybe I can be that help and encouragement to someone else. We'll see. As usual, I have a lot to say! :) And in the meantime, your prayers would be appreciated.


Friday, December 28, 2007

We Stepped Back in Time

I was wrapping a Christmas present in newspaper (for padding) over the holidays and came across an article about our town. It seems there are some old houses that belonged to some of the founding members of our community that are available for touring. The houses contain real articles and everyday things circa 1900. I told the girls we were going to go see them and they were grasping to understand how old they were.

"That's 99 years before you were born, Sweetheart."

"Wow! How old was Grandma and Grandpa?"

"They weren't born. They are only in their 70's."


My parents came along with us and it was SO interesting. The first thing we saw was an old-fashioned lawn mower leaning against the tree. I was going to be all informative and teach Sweetheart all about the olden days.

"I bet you can't guess what this is."

"Oh, it's a lawn mower. Papa Bear uses one of those in the Berenstain Bears."

(Score: 0)

She also already knew all about the water pump at the "sink", the old iron stove, and lots of other things--all from books. I guess reading is really good for you. (Kidding--I knew that.) Little Bit was most impressed with a children's room upstairs. It contained a child-sized bed and wardrobe along with dollhouses, doll beds and other toys of that day. Oh, how she wanted to play! I looked over at one point and she had her doll (our constant companion Fiona), laid in one of the antique beds. Thankfully, the tour guide was very relaxed and didn't mind.

Mom and I were impressed by how UNCLUTTERED every room was. It all looked so simple. Sigh. Guess I will do some work on my house this holiday. The fewer things you have in a room, the more you are able to notice the beautiful things that are there. Time to scale down what we have in our little house.

And speaking of Little Houses---Sweetheart recieved season one of Little House on the Prairie for a Christmas gift, along with Little House paper dolls. We have had so much fun watching an episode every evening. The whole family is wrapped up in it. They just don't make TV like that anymore. I had been waiting until she was old enough to read the Little House chapter books, but then discovered these little treasures at the library. They are an easy reading level for her and as soon as she read a few of them she was in love with the Ingalls family.

There is a lot to be learned from those olden days, folks! Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Perspective That Will Stay With You

The dishes are piled up in the kitchen, the laundry has taken over, there is junk in every room that needs to be dealt with. I am overwhelmed by our house this week. I'm glad Christmas is over and we can put away the decorations and reclaim our house. I've had nagging headaches all week and am trying really hard not to be grumpy with the girls. Holiday stress, right?

But what I don't have is unopened presents under the tree.

My friend Jennifer e-mailed me just before Christmas about a couple she and her husband knew from college. Here is a part of her e-mail...

Steve & Elizabeth went to college with us. On their way to church last Sunday, a truck pulling a drilling rig weaved off the road and over-corrected into their lane and rolled over their car. It killed their two kids, Tanner (9) and Brooklyn (3). Steve was in critical condition and Elizabeth in stable condition. I can only imagine how their hearts hurt and the questions they're asking and the anger and grief they feel and dealing with it all with all their children's presents under the tree that won't be opened by bright smiling faces tomorrow morning. Please pray for them.

I don't have unopened presents under the tree. I don't have two rooms full of children's things that now sit unused. Can I really get annoyed when my children ask me to get up and help them with something? Isn't it instead a blessing that I have them to take care of?

I have to say my heart has been very heavy for this family. I fell asleep thinking about them and praying for them on Christmas Eve. They do not cease to be a family because their children are gone, but what a shift to undergo overnight. I do not know this family. I do not know if their marriage is strong enough for this. I don't know anyone who is strong enough to go through this without the Lord. Please pray for them if you have a minute.

And hug your family today.

*Edited to add: I know there is a lot of stuff to read on the internet and you can't believe every prayer request you hear about...I just wanted to add this link to kind of verify. This is the news story about the crash. Thanks!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Am Alone!

Husband took the girls shopping this morning. I am all alone in the house.

I can't remember the last time this happened.

What do I do now???


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More Than Just Tanta Clot

We have really enjoyed Santa at our house. He brings lots of fun and anticipation. Three year old Sweetheart was missing QUITE a few of her speech sounds, so his name was what you see in the title. I kind of miss ol' Tanta Clot. He made me think of blood thinners. Little Bit hasn't had much love for Ho Ho (her name for him). This year she announced she would sit in Mrs. Claus' lap, however. Hey, long as you are smiling. I have a few years with no Ho Ho pictures with Little Bit because I'm not going to force a screaming child to sit for pictures. So sad. Plus, we get our pictures for free from my sister's bank and last year Little Bit announced: "Sissy can go get her picture made and I will wait with Aunt Terri in her office. And we will close the door."

So there.

And, just for effect, I will include the pic from the library last week. We kind of didn't know the Claus' would be at storytime or I would have put more thought into their outfits--even the doll has on hand-me-downs!

I have always fought that familiar battle with families who have invited Santa into their Christmas celebrations: How to properly emphasize Jesus' birth and de-emphasize everything else. Well, we have our Christmas fun but we really spend a lot of time talking about baby Jesus as well. I was concerned how I've been doing so I had Sweetheart write in her journal the other day, "Why is Jesus more important than Santa Claus?"

Her answer: Because he is the savior. He died on the cross for all of us and on Christmas he was born and he did that because he loved us.

Good job, baby! Little Bit is four this year and is just now getting the story of his birth and can even tell lots of it back to us. What a wonderful Bible class teacher she must have. Ahem. It's exciting to see her learning it.

This month for Bible I had Sweetheart make a time line of the events in Luke. We went much deeper with the story than in years past. We started with the geneology in Matthew and then looked up the Old Testament prophesy that said the savior would come from the family of David. She was very impressed. She had never heard the part about Simeon either.

Inspired by Jess at Making Home, I dove into the section of the story where Joseph is visited by the angel. I was trying to explain why Joseph was probably hesistant about the whole situation. I went on about how it takes a man and a woman to make a baby, (she nodded) and about what Joseph probably thought when Mary showed up pregnant and what everyone would think about them and why he might have been afraid, etc. After my riveting speech I asked Sweetheart if she had any questions.



How long do you think it took them to get to Bethlehem?

OK Jess. You can't teach those who aren't curious! I gave it a good try. :)

Anyway, it's really fun to see them learning and growing. And it's REALLY fun getting to be the one to teach them. Even though today is our last day of "school" for the holidays, Bible will continue. You just can't take a break from some things!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Looking Back One Year

I know it isn't even Christmas yet, and here I am already looking forward to the new year. But, before we look forward...I couldn't help but marvel at how our lives have changed this last year.

Last Christmas was our first Christmas at this house. We had moved three doors down from my parents in September and the girls were newly 7 and 3 years old. S was working at the same job he had had since Sweetheart was very young. I was working part-time as our church secretary. While I was at work, Little Bit went to day care at our church and Sweetheart was in our private school's first grade. S was also working as our church's "part-time" youth minister. And I had never read a blog. :)

Earlier I had read a book on homeschooling that completely changed my mind about the topic. I was a reformed thinker! In 2007 the Lord dropped a new job in S's lap that allowed me to quit work. He began his new job in May and I quit on June 15. Wow! Have I really been home with the girls for 6 months???!!! Needless to say, this opened the door for us to become a family who educates our children at home. What. A. Switch.

Due in part to some needs within our family (not ready to talk about that one just yet), S quit serving as youth minister this last fall. The extra time our family has had together has been great, although his new job does keep him busy.

So let's see...changes of jobs, changes of houses, changes of education, and changes of caregivers. And LOTS of changes in my heart. Lots.

I'd say it's been a really neat year. As promised, God has directed our paths. I could have never imagined a year ago where and how we would be now. I'll point to this verse in Ephesians 3:20-21...

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (italics mine!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's All About Family: Staying In

When we first got married I suppose I "set up housekeeping". I hung some pictures on the wall, made a pretty display on the bar of the kitchen in our apartment, and planted some flowers on our patio. I enjoyed "decorating" our home. I got us set up to live there, that's for sure. I decided where the extra sheets would be kept and where the glasses would go in the kitchen. But I don't think I ever really understood what it meant to set up housekeeping or to establish our household. And why should I have? I wasn't going to be there all that much anyway.

I think things would have been a LOT different if I had planned from day one to be a homemaker. I remember wishing that it was still the expected norm. I remember thinking that after Sweetheart was born as well. I wished everyone just expected me to stay home and the thought of returning to work would horrify them. Then I would have no choice. Yep, you heard me right. I didn't WANT all these choices that we have! I would read stories of couples from back in the 50's or 60's where they had to scrape to get by, but never was it a thought that the wife would get a job outside the home! Man, I longed for those days.

But that isn't how things were for us when we married in 1993. I had a job--a good one--and S. was in the Navy. What would I do all day since we didn't have kids? So of course I worked. And I enjoyed my job. And we got used to home being a pit stop.

We ate out all the time. We went out for entertainment. If we had the whole day ahead of us we always asked the same questions, "Where do you want to go today? What do you want to go do?" Staying home was like punishment. Who wanted to do that? You stay home when you are sick, or the weather is really bad, or you have a lot of chores to do. So....basically staying home is a big ol' drag!!!

Having children really didn't change our feelings on being home much. We did find ourselves at home more often because of nap schedules and bedtimes, but other than that we still really weren't there that much. I remember we moved into our 2nd house in February. We got up and left the house by 6:30am and returned in time for dinner. On weekends we went places or did chores. It was 3 full months before school was out and I found myself home during the days. Do you know what I discovered? Our backyard was GORGEOUS in the mornings!!!! I had never seen the backyard or heard the birds singing because we were never ever home.

Have you lived that way? Over the last year I have discovered the joy and beauty of staying home with my family. It did take some adjustment for both me and the girls...but we are content at home now. We have our fun right here within these walls. We eat our meals here. (Mostly--I do love eating out. Sigh.) When Sweetheart was little she would spend the first month of the summers (when I was off) asking each morning, "Where are we going today Mama?" She just didn't know what to do when I said, "nowhere." Every day of her little life she was either headed to the sitters or Grandma's house or on errands. But we have learned how to be home now.

We still go places--but we go as a family. It's not just about the physical place we call home, but about our family being the center of our world. We enjoy doing things together and we don't feel the NEED to have plans made and people around us all the time. If our family were stranded somewhere, we would be fine. Our home is where our family is. No longer do I expect to live in one place my whole life. Our little family can pick up and go anywhere the Lord leads because we have learned how to be happy with each other's company. Where we call home really isn't the issue.

This really isn't a revolutionary concept. I understand that. Farm families from years past survived and thrived with just each other for miles around. I read a blog recently of a woman who said they used to live 2 hours from any town. That made her think twice before hopping in the car for just anything! Everything is just so convienient for us--no wonder we run around too much. I think we need to start living like we are in the middle of nowhere and see if that finds us home and content more often!

For our family, learning to stay home and put family at the center of our world has just been another revision God has made. So how about your family? Do you enjoy staying in together or go more than you'd like? Here are some thoughts from Rev. Miller from over 100 years ago:

Secluded by the world, sheltered by it's own roof, containing in itself the sources of happiness and not dependent upon the outside world for it's gladness and joy, it matters little whether it be day or night, whether it be calm or stormy, without. The true home has a peace that is not broken by earth's tempests. It's love is a fountain of blessing that does not waste in summer weather, and it's happiness and blessing in household life are simply incalculable. All that is needed is that each member faithfully do his own part.

--from the book Homemaking by J.R. Miller

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's All About Family

When I named this blog, I had my own family in mind. It is a blog (mostly) about how our family is being revised by God every day. But I can't get my mind off of the family--as a concept. Not just my own family, but families in general. Some of the things that have been popping up for me over and over:

*fewer people choosing marriage
*the definition of marriage being questioned challenged
*divorce rates
*living together instead of marrying
*blended families
*delaying marriage/family
*role reversal within the marriage
*the expectations of society for the family to follow
*the return of the daughters (what a concept!)
*how Christian families look so much like the world

It's not hard to hear about some of these things....they turn up in the media all the time. It seems to me that Satan has been working over-time to destroy the family. And I do believe that family was one of God's best ideas ever.

I had no idea about how it all worked when we got married. I did understand the man/woman part. I wanted to have children (just not then). I knew we would live in a home. That was about my understanding of it all. Needless to say, there was no scripture in my head about any of it. My expectations of marriage/family/homelife came straight from society and a handful of good Christian examples that I knew, including my parents.

Never did I think that our family could be different. Never did I question the course before us. It really makes me wonder about families such as the Harris family. They started homeschooling back in the early 80's as a part of a greater vision they had for their family. How did it ever occur to them to have a different vision? What made them think they could do things so differently? And better yet, why did that not occur to me?

Slowly, slowly God has shown me some things I needed to know. I now understand about His protection offered through the family. I now understand about submitting to my husband as to the Lord. These are basics, folks--but I only understood them within the last few years. How sad. But how glad I am that I do understand them now!

So the revisions to our family continue. I am pondering a lot of things right now about the family. I'll be sharing some of those things in the days to come. It's a pretty big topic.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

This Story is Not For the Tenderhearted

In Little Bit's Bible class this morning (3 and 4 year olds) we learned about how Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem and there was no room for them. Their ever-devoted Bible class teacher stayed up late last night lovingly covering 6 small cardboard boxes and drawing doors and windows on them. Then I gathered up vintage Little People figures from Mom's house and a plastic donkey. Each child was given a box at circle time with directions to answer, "No Room" when Mary and Joseph came knocking.

The children were mesmerized as I walked Joseph alongside Mary on the plastic donkey from house to house asking each child, "May we stay here?" Each child dutifully replied, "No Room" in turn. The little 4 year old visitor sitting next to me was the last one to go. It seems that watching Mary and Joseph fact that much rejection (they HAD been all the way around the circle) was just too much for her tender heart. When "Joseph" looked up at her and asked, "May we stay here?" She, with much emotion aimed right at that 2" high figure, answered, "YES!"

I really hated to tell her the "right" answer. I liked her solution better, too.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— John 1:10-12

Friday, December 7, 2007

Anyone Can Cook This!

I've posted this recipe before, so I apologize. I just wanted to throw my wonderful, gourmet, oft-requested recipe in the ring for BooMama's Souptacular.

Seriously, this recipe is one of my most requested. (YES, people have requested my recipes, which never fails to amuse me.) Why? Because you can keep the ingredients in your pantry for those nights when you have absolutely no time to cook anything. You can make it without meat, so there is no thinking ahead or "Shoot! I forgot to get the meat out of the freezer this morning!" regret. This one was a really big hit among my co-workers when I worked full-time. I have literally had people call my house around 5:00pm asking about "my soup" because they had no time to do anything else for supper and remembered that I had this little winner up my sleeve.

Enough talking--thanks to my Aunt Lou for this recipe, although she did not write it.

Soup for a Group (otherwise known as 1-2-3 Soup)

3 cans your favorite brand Minestrone soup (I use Campbell's Select)
2 cans tomatoes (I use 1 can plain diced tomatoes and 1 can of Ro-Tel Milder because I HATE those big blobs of stewed tomatoes in my soup)
1 can Ranch Style Beans

Heat and serve. I am not kidding. Did I tell you it's easy? It tastes SO good, too. You can brown 1 pound of meat and toss it in too if you are way ahead of yourself that day.

Now head over to BooMama's place and get real recipes for real soup from real cooks. But keep this one up your sleeve just in case you need it!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Obviously, I've Been Holding Them Back

I normally read my daily blogs when the girls are otherwise engaged in something. Or asleep. But this morning I was sitting on the couch right in the middle of some good reading when they wandered in and declared they were hungry. So, being the great mom that I am, I declared that today Sweetheart was in charge of breakfast!

There. Crisis averted. Now I can finish what I am reading.

Sometimes the least-thought out plans are the best. Sweetheart was amazed!!! "I AM???? I'M IN CHARGE OF BREAKFAST?" "Wow. I've never been in charge of breakfast before. Mommy, I can't believe I can fix breakfast for me and Little Bit!" Little Bit, on the other hand burst into tears. It seems she wanted to be in charge of breakfast. So, I promised her that tomorrow she could be in charge.

Little Bit ran to get their aprons while Sweetheart went over to the refrigerator and looked up at the menu to see what was supposed to be for breakfast today. Oh, nice try honey. That's last week's menu. Mommy hasn't exactly made one for this week. But, I'm really glad she knew where to look (usually).

Sweetheart made frozen waffles for Little Bit like a pro. She got Pop-Tarts for herself. Not the most gourmet first try, but she was very proud of herself. And judging from their excitement over this task, I think I will be making a breakfast cookbook with ideas for easy, nutritious meal ideas that 4 and 8 year olds can make together. Complete with pictures.

So, I'm kind of glad I was lazy this morning so I could find out that my girls were ready to take on this new task (at least some of the time).

And yesterday, Little Bit had a lot of questions about when she grows up.
LB: When I'm a mommy, I still want to drink orange juice.
Me: You can.
LB: I can? How will I get orange juice?
Me: You will go buy it at the store.
LB: I get to pay???
Me: Yes, you will go to the store, pay for the juice, and drive home.
LB: Sweetheart!!! When we are mommies we can pay! And buy whatever we want at the store!!!!

I'm glad the thought of all these new responsibilities is so exciting for them!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dear New Mom of the 6 Month Old, (OK, to myself 7 years ago)

I know you can't even BEGIN to imagine what parenting a toddler, or preschooler, or GASP! an elementary-aged student will be like. Frankly, when those sizes of children come around, you just kind of wish they wouldn't get so close to the baby. They are so big, and unruly, and full of germs. While your baby is so clean and sweet and doesn't go anywhere yet! (And you are glad, aren't you?) She is so dependent on you and every single day is so sweet. I know you are enjoying folding the laundry while she is content to sit in the middle of the pile of clothes and play. When you pay the bills, she sits in her high chair at the table with you and plays with the calculator. She takes long naps. Parenting is just so enjoyable!

And the closet? It's still half-full of baby shower gifts. Oh! I know you can't wait to see her wearing all those sweet outfits! Dressing her is so much fun. At the same time you are just a bit sad to see all that she has already out-grown. It seems to be going so fast!

Everything is still such a joy. How could you ever tire of bathing her? Of washing her clothes? Of boiling her toys? (THAT'S another topic!) Will you ever become one of those moms who constantly complains that her kids are driving her crazy? HOW?

May I just tell you this? When God made babies start out so small and helpless and sweet and dependent...He knew what He was doing. By the time she gets to be one of those big kids that you can't even picture--well, you are already so totally in love with her that you needn't worry. You are already hooked. And you will be more confident by then. You will work hard at learning to be a parent of whatever age child you have. And you will enjoy every new stage.

Oh, and another thing. In case you haven't figured this one out yet (I think you are probably starting to by now). The type of parent you are and the kind of life you give her will not be all that shapes her personality. She will soon be breaking out in personality that will have you asking, "Now where did she get THAT?" Yeah, they kind of come with personalities built in. You don't have as much control over that as you thought you did before she came along.

And the baths? They will get old. At some point you may even find yourself kneeling beside the tub, more wet than she, calculating just how many times you have done this task. And the number will be astronomical. Don't worry. The day will come when you realize you can walk away from the tub. She will get old enough to bathe herself one day. (But there will be a LOT of baths before then.) And the clothes? I know you can't believe this, but one day you will be just really happy that what she is wearing is clean and somewhat matches. And yes, you will even be fine if it is a hand-me-down. Trust me.

Enjoy her, new mom. These days are precious. BUT, don't dread her growing up because there is so much to look forward to. And when she is 8 and you are dreading the teen years? Tell yourself this again.


Yourself as a slightly more experienced parent