Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Marriage Enrichment

One of the ways Shane and I are trying to keep the peace is by investing more time and engergy into our marriage. We already had a great relationship, but his schedule really can weaken it. So, we planned to go on a date night about twice a month and read our Night Light for Couples devotional several times a week. I've noticed just these things, coupled with the extra emphasis on our relationship has produced more fruit-like more flirting, more praying together, more serving each other.

While all these things are good, date night might need some adjusting. Around here, unless you want to roll down stickery hills there's not much to do but go out to eat. There are few good places in our town, but there's a truck stop about 20 minutes from here. I know, even our seven year old said, "That's not very romantic!". But they do have great food.

I'm glad the food was good because the company wasn't so great. There's a booth right inside the door. Shane, of course, took the seat facing the door and cash register (all directly behind me). He was so occupied with scanning the room, people watching and trying to ID former inmates that I had to hold up both sides of the conversation. I finally gave up and just ate my chocolate cream pie in quiet solitude while he peered over my head at every soul who entered and exited. Tears stung at my eyes, daring to give away my deflated heart, but I kept them at bay, knowing it was probably day one of PMS. Later, on the way out I kidded him about being more interested in the people watching than with me, to which he laughed and said he was just still eating (I'd finished first) and that next time I should invite a girlfriend to date night so we can talk the whole time.

Okay, so going out to eat on date night isn't a good idea. At least not alone. We have a great time when we double date, there's so much more to talk about when another couple joins us. Then when we part ways there's the conversation that follows: So, how'd you like it? Don't you think they're fun? What'd you think when they asked you about getting tased? Do you think they had fun or did they just pretend their babysitter had to go home early?

Oh, come on, you know you have that conversation, too. Except it goes like this: I'm so glad the babysitter had to go home early, that saved our night! Can you believe he wouldn't stop talking about getting tased?

My path into weirdness

As I've stated before, I am kind of strange. Specifically, I'm a little bit of a granola girl. Since you asked (you didn't? oh, sorry), I thought I'd tell you how it all began.

I think I have a natural bend towards more basic, natural things. My earliest hippie memory is from college. Good old Community College. I was reading the English class essay on what happens to our bodies after death but before burial. I read all about the horrid things they do to make a dead body look not only alive, but formal-occasion-ready. I had no desire to have my post mortem eyelids glued down or my mouth wired shut (that one hurts me the most, lol). It just wasn't natural. Shane has strict orders to leave my body alone after death, just spray some Oust! on me and it'll be fine. Organic Oust!, that is.

There's just something in me that is drawn to the more natural, God-made ways of doing things. I don't like chemicals, additives, impostor foods (Velveeta is NOT cheese!) epidurals, fetal tissue in immunizations, MSG, bleach in my water, Splenda, margarine, artificial colors, tanning salons, fake nails, institutional thinking (one of my favorite movies is Patch Adams ).

That's why we homeschool, it just seems more natural. That's why we make a lot of our decisions. It just seems that the closer we do things to the way God designed them, the happier we'll be. I'm not saying eating MSG laden food is a sin, by any means. I'm just saying that by eating more natural food, keeping a simple lifestyle, choosing to support the little farmer's market instead of buying Wal-Mart's genetically modified fruit makes me feel better. I feel like a better keeper of my home if I'm searching out healthier dinner items, less toxic cleaning supplies, and nursing my babies while carrying them in a sling instead of relying on a mechanical device to entertain/soothe them all the time. It just feels more wholesome.

I'm not a purist at all. I still make mac and cheese with that not-even-close-to-real-cheese cheese. I like sugar. I love chocolate. But I'm slowly getting my household in a more natural place. Here's what I'm doing:

Mending some of our clothes instead of just buying new. I'm not good at it, but I won't get good unless I mess up (apparently I have to mess up a lot!).

Using the cloth diapers a friend gave me. I only plan to use them at home, but that should reduce the chemical exposure to my little one a lot while being much cheaper than using only disposables.

I just ordered a bottle of Chalie's Soap, which isn't soap but is a great residue-free laundry detergent without all the chemicals of typical store bought detergent. It's only 2 cents more a load for the natural stuff. Not bad. And it has a cool retro look to it!

Using vinegar instead of bleach in my laundry. When the laundry is dry, there's no odor left behind and it makes a great fabric softener.

I need to work on banning white flour and sugar from our diets, but dang-it, it's easier to do stuff that's fun and cute like playing with these cute diapers:

I don't own this one, but I wish I did, lol!

Monday, January 21, 2008

I have to admit it...

This site makes me want to have more babies. This site and looking at slings! I made a new brown sling a week ago, just a small one to throw in the diaper bag, and my heart kind of got sad that I won't get to use it much. Yep, it "got sad"...nice wording there.

Stress Relief

I've been meaning to go in to more specifics about how I'm staying peaceful, but really it all boils down to the Lord's work in me. He's helping me handle a busy life with peace. Even though my life is busy, there's currently nothing in it I think is not ordained by God. We are considering cutting out one of the girls' extra activities, but everything else I'm doing-homeschooling, work, the Gala planning, watching Adri, Life Group, getting the girls to Awana, karate and so forth-we both feel they have God's stamp of approval. I point that out because our nation is too busy, Christians are too busy to get involved. We have to be careful or it'll kill us.

Okay, so one way I'm keeping the peace is by doing the Dave Ramsey plan. We worked the cash system especially well the first three weeks of the month. I dropped the ball midweek last week, but still didn't go over budget, I just simply spent from the debit card and didn't withdraw cash. It is so freeing to have my spending plan all laid out for the month. We purposefully plan our misc money so that it lasts and therefore we only spend it on what is important. I know how much I'm tithing, when in the month I'm writing those checks and to whom. I know I have a certain amount set aside for giving opportunities that might come up in the month. I got to spend some at the Project Show, investing in kids. I didn't have to tell my heart "no" when I saw a need, I could spend the money knowing it wouldn't leave me short on grocery money later in the month. I've never felt that free! I felt rich! We've often held back in fear and not given when we wanted because we didn't have a spending plan.

This plan has lifted a huge weight off our shoulders! This alone would help me feel less stressed, but there's more. I'll post about the other things soon!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Day has Arrived!

You know when you've moved from babyhood to toddlerhood the first day your little one walks in the living room all sleepy eyed from a good night's rest on her own. She doesn't need to call you anymore to get out of bed, she realized she can do that all by herself. Well, today was the day. I was just starting to exercise when I heard her cough over the monitor. I turn the monitor up and then, lo and behold, here she comes toddling into the dining room in her Winnie the Pooh pajamas and white socks, squinting at the light with hair sticking up...

My Baby...not so much a baby...

I just realized you crib users out there probably don't share this sentiment...if your toddlers gets out, it's not good news, lol. Live without cribs, Baby, it makes life much more insteresting!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Update on the crime scene story

Hey, my officer friend, Investigator Green (I went to highschool with he & his wife), from our local PD called me today. The PD found one of the girls' hammocks after they received a tip that a local thug (whom I also went to school with) had some other stolen property. Green brought it by the house. I really didn't think we'd get either of them back, but I'm glad the girls had a good experience. We'll see if the other one shows up...Nothin' like small towns, where everyone grows up and plays a role (police officer, mom, thief...).

Peace Out.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Getting Real (Real long!)

On a serious note, I want to be real and transparent and all those good things, so I decided to share where I am with some struggles I've had since adding child #4 to our family.

Background: The year Jaybird arrived (2006) was a HUGE transitional year for us. We went from having Daddy home and helping around the house (while laid off and in school) to Daddy being gone 60-70 hours a week (when he finished school and worked). Then Jaybird was born a few months later. I had an especially hard time not feeling defeated and somewhat depressed. I have a family history of poor mental health and I had so far in my life never had to consider the possibility that I was depressed. I fought it off with all my strength. Now I knew I was dealing with it as I fought suicidal thoughts and fantasies of escaping to an isolated mountain top resort. I functioned-we did school and my house wasn't too bad, but I was still miserable inside.

When Jaybird was about six months old, after Christmas of '06, my good days finally outnumbered my bad ones. By spring I felt 95% better. I think the other 5% may be gone for good, lol.

As 2007 rolled on, I still fought defeat and the occasional fleeting thoughts of escape. I wrested all year with how it was supposed to work-the fruit of the Spirit had never come harder. How was I supposed to let the Lord handle it--was he supposed to come do my dishes for me or take the girls to baseball practice? I'm not being coy, I really wanted to know how to depend on the Lord in those practical ways.

December of 2007 started out great for me. I had a few gifts bought in November and had a rough list of gift ideas before we put the tree up. All of the sudden it was December 15 and Yahoo kept advertising last minute gifts. Last minute! Last minute!? I went from ahead of the game to behind-big time. All of this while still figuring out what to do about our Christmas cards/pics, the Center's Christmas cards, newsletter, and the training of my new Asst. Director. Oh, and then Shane came to me and requested that I encourage him to work more hours as a security guard (more than the 16 extra hours he already puts in each week) and that he'd signed up to work the two remaining Sundays before Christmas. I was still in denial that he'd be working Christmas Eve Night & Day.

I didn't have suicidal thoughts, but I did wish that I could just disappear, just not exist at all. On my good days I tried to figure out how to stop the world so I could catch up, so even my good days were defeated from the start.

I thought my chaotic life was apparent to all-I was late to work, forgot about details of plans, had to decline several worthy invitations to great parties, and possibly complained too much to all around me. I've since been told that I covered it well, but I still don't know how.

What saved me in the middle of the muck and mire was cutting out those parties, correcting the notion I'd given Shane that getting out of debt was my #1 priority (it's #2 or #3, after good mental health!), and compromising on projects that weighed me down. The absolute reprieve came from the two or so weeks I had off work for the Christmas & New Year's holiday. Especially the time after Christmas was over.

Now its almost mid January and I've been back to work, school, kids activities, and so on for a week or two. Am I back to insanity? Nope-quite the opposite, actually. I finally feel peaceful even when my day seems crazy. I'm excited about how God is working to help me feel that peace. I'm excited about how I'm spending my time. Jesus isn't doing my dishes, but I'm doing them with gladness.

Here's what happened-over the break, I relaxed and did fun things. We made cookies, those cinnamon rolls (13 pans of them!), I took naps with no guilt, I read a book-fiction!-and enjoyed my children. I decluttered big time. Big Time. I paced myself. I washed my dishes every night. No piling up. I reworked the kids' chores. I gathered up my favorite devotional books to go with my One Year Bible. I started the One Year Bible early so I'd have some days to play with. I started using the prayer journal our other Center gave me for Christmas to make a great daily prayer list. I've listened to Nancy Leigh DeMoss for inspiration along the way. We made our Dave Ramsey plan budget. I prayed for God to really show me how to live out each day in peace. I wanted my heart to be peaceful even if one of the babies pooped all over her clothes as I was walking us all out the door for work.

Work days are my hardest days-I wake up feeling rushed. Hurry and exercise, hurry and shower, hurry and get the kids' on task so they can start school. Hurry and do school, hurry and make lunch, hurry and eat and get ready to leave and don't forget anything. I finally wised up and moved school around so we have a lighter load on work days. I also got firm about no extras on school mornings-the girls can't check their email, make a fairy on the Disney site or start a coloring project-it's school, lunch, work only.

Before the break, I was deficient in downtime. I'd not finished a book or sewn or been creative in any ways. I've now built that into my evenings and weekends. I don't know how-I just am making time for it. I sewed yesterday-finishing three slings, hemming a robe for one of the girls, and even attacked my mending pile. I loved it! I'm reading another great Alton Gansky mystery book and considering learning to knit or starting a quilt. Shane and I picked up our Night Light for Parents Devotional again and we're focused a little more on family meals around the table. We've geocached and put together the telescope...you get the idea.

As for that internal peace-I just have to keep praying it in each day. I was frustrated this week during the 4-H Project Show preparations, but I wasn't feeling defeated. That's HUGE! I rushed kids 20 minutes away twice, once after work and before karate, then again 2 days later right before karate class. We were cramming it in, but I was calm and peace filled the whole time. Praise the Lord!

I'll keep you all updated-I'm keeping a little paper journal jotting down my good days, frustration days and defeated days. I'm praying for Satan to not steal any more from our family and that I might stay focused on the Prince of Peace instead! That name for Jesus never had so much meaning for me as now. God is so good!

We have some new friends

I know you're shocked. Just humor me.

I'm the social one in our marriage. I love the fellowship time of church. That's when Shane bales on me and goes to the car. Oh well, I can't see his looks from there (you know what I'm talking about!). However, we found some new friends he actually likes to visit with.

We were in Sunday School a couple of months ago and since there were quite a few new couples, we did an icebreaker. This was the dreaded question for caveman families like ours who don't watch much TV, "What is your favorite TV show?" Man, I was 3rd in line to answer and just prayed, "God please don't let me look like an idiot." So, this guy, Jake, was first and he answered that Smallville was he & his wife's favorite, and I was instantly a believer that God answers even our smallest prayers. We love Smallville but I don't really think of it as TV since we buy the complete seasons each fall and watch them like crazy until we're left with a cliffhanger for 11 more months.

Even more interesting is that Jake works rotating shifts and that means he often works nights. He and Danea (I've not seen her name in print yet, so I'm sure that's wrong-its pronounced "DuNeea") also have a little boy named Gavin, which is our boy name (of course we've yet to use it!). As we talked today to the "Smallville" couple, we realized they have an interest in shooting. How odd is it that we'd find another couple in church with all those things in common?

They're probably axe murderers wanted in 7 states. How would we know? We never watch TV...

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Hill Story

I was actually thinking of this very topic this morning...and thinking I'm not in the mood to explain it with all the wit it deserves (I don't have a great reserve of wit, I just run with it as it shows up). However, because 75% of my readers demand the story (the other 3 readers were there-oh wait, Jonna doesn't read it...), I'll go ahead with it today:

My partners in crime were Terrie, Jonna, & Summer. You bet I'm naming names! It was a not-so-typical girls night out. Jonna thought we needed a little more action than our normal eat & chat sessions. She suggested a field trip, among other things. After eating we drove to the park, the one with soccer fields to find a great hill to roll down. Yep, it was our main desire-just find a good rolling hill.

Now, this particular park has as many goat head stickers as it has little kids running on it. The kids go away at night, the stickers don't. Jonna was pretty sure the areas made for soccer games were sticker free. Well, that ain't exactly so.

With much laughter and shrieking, each of us took a turn lying down and rolling, rolling, rolling down the hill. At this location, we only took one turn each because we spent the entire walk back to the car picking stickers out of our coats.

So, a bit high from the rush of acting like a 7 year old, we decided to track down a stickerless hill for more rolling. One of us was sure we wouldn't get in trouble for going out to the golf course (at 10:00 at night), but Shane had specifically said to not get arrested (he has to remind me of these things), so I balked at that idea.

We remembered the baseball park has a King Kong hill, but alas it's pretty darn dark out there when there are no games. But the college has hills! So, we found new hills-and new stickers-but not goat heads at least. These are the flat kind that come in on your shoes and stick in your carpet. We rolled down the hill towards the parking lot and then the 3 musketeers (not me!) rolled down the hill toward the pond. I'm not so brave and besides, I was busy picking out stickers-and talking to my boss.

He had called--the board chair, mind you--while we were rolling down hills. He and his wife had just finished the last Smallville episode of the season we'd loaned them and we were discussing the cliff hanger. I really didn't want to admit to the board chair what we were doing, so I just talked along...I did tell his wife the next day or so and I still have a job.

As we were walking back to the car (still picking out stickers from our bums) Shane called. We were all laughing as I tried to be cool about what we were up to. He wanted to know if I was drunk. I wasn't, but I wasn't proving it too well.

If I had stayed for the last of the party, I'd have an even better story to tell-about playing headphones (where only you can hear the music and everyone else gets to hear you belt out your favorite tunes). Thankfully, I had to get home so Shane could get to work. Sometimes that deep nights schedule comes in handy!

So, if you read this and live in the area, remember we're on the lookout for a good hill-no stickers!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Our home is a crime scene!

We've been robbed!

Well, the girls were robbed. Someone took our girls' hammocks which were tied up in the front of the side yard. It just makes me mad. In my mind its some punk boys who just want some hammocks for their yard. Shane said it's more than likely just some of our town's plethora of dope heads picking up whatever they find as they roam the streets. That's just the way it is when you live in a 'hood. It doesn't scare me, although a few nights ago I thought I heard male voices late at night and the dogs were going nuts. I was home alone with the girls, so I just got Shane's gun and put it on my side of the bed (I have a firm belief the shear sight of a bad momma like me with a gun will scare away the most hardened criminal. Yeah, my plaid flannel pj pants really make me a scary looking chick, one you don't want to reckon with).

So, Hope's ready to go call 991 (that's what she calls it, let's hope we really never need her to call it!) and report the violation. She's walking around with her camera around her neck--just in case there's something suspicious to capture, along with the pictures she's already taken of the crime scene. Shane said he might take her to the police station to report it, simply as a learning experience. She's chomping at the bit to go (anything to get out of school work and get some attention!).

I'll keep you posted on the investigation, lol.

Edited to add:

Here's a nice picture of the culprits, oops, I mean victims at the PD.

Yep, those are my stellar students! Just wrapped up a fine day of school before the trekked off to the local PD for a field trip. They look more like bumms off the street in the picture, lol.

The girls gave the report to an Officer Robertson who's a friend of ours (my mom's next door neighbor) so they were very comfortable with him and then they heard a call come in about a guy running around in traffic with wings on. Officer Robertson thought it might be the guy from Golden Fried Chicken, lol.

It turned out to be a kid who's big sister was supposed to pick him up from school. Apparently he was tired of being left to walk home, so he brought angel wings and wore them home to make his sister mad.

And we would have missed all this fun if the girls were in public school :)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Lessons learned

I'm sure you've all heard the story about the fiasco with the deceptive mom trying to get Hannah Montana tickets.

Although I'm frustrated with this type of parenting, I don't really want to harp on the mom, that's been done enough on the web and otherwise. I'd just like to take a step back and discuss generally what I think we can learn from this event and the public's reaction.

First, lets look at this parenting style. Here's an snippet to examine:

“We wrote whatever we could to win,” she said at the time.

Okay, so in general, what are we doing when we work super hard to achieve a goal that is not a godly goal? What I mean is, while there may not be anything wrong with Hannah Montana, there isn't anything eternity changing about going to one of her concerts either. If we are seeking after things of this world without also seeking out things of God, we are doing our kids harm. Do we ever work hard to get our kids something worldly but then not work equally hard to get them to church camp, Sunday School or to do devotions or even just read a bedtime story to them?

I know a great Christian mom who is also a coach/PE teacher in the area. Her family is busy with all the things modern families are busy with--and her husband is a coach, too--but when I heard she did devotions with her two children before school each day, even though her husband didn't do them, I was touched. That's the kind of sacrifice that lasts more than a lifetime-it will have an eternal difference.

Here's another snippet:

Asked how she explained the events to her daughter, she said, “I told my daughter the truth. I told her we wrote an essay and they said it was a lie. And I refused to accept the tickets. I told her there will be another time.”

Blaming-did you see that? "They said it was a lie". Blaming is huge today. And I'm guilty. Boy, when I stub my toe on something random left out in the floor, my first impulse is to blame someone for my pain. That would be my self inflicted pain. How about I just pay attention to where I'm going?

There's just something to be said about fessing up to our messing up. We're all human and mess up and integrity means speaking up before you're hounded down for clarification.

This statement also speaks to putting our children in the center of the universe. She's 6 (or maybe she's 7 now)-so why is she even going to a concert? When she's older, what will her entertainment be? Concerts will be so elementary school. And if we pacify our children with platitudes of "there will be another time" instead of saying, "When you're older..." we're only feeding their self centeredness. As a nation, we've taken our children and made miniadults out of them. Ironically, when they're adults, we've allowed them to stay teens. There's never been such a time of college grads moving back in with Mom and Dad as today.

Another snippet:
“I’ve had to move out of my home,” she told Lauer. “I’ve received a lot of bad — a lot of harassment all over the Internet. I’ve been forced to close down my MySpace page. I have not been able to eat or sleep well. I have been very depressed.”

As the heart of our homes, moms and wives have a duty to make their home a haven. I'm not sure the background of who all lives in her home or why exactly she needs to move out (did her family living in her home kick her out? Did her neighbors harass her?), but clearly her home was probably not a haven, a sactuary of peace before this happened. If so, she could have retreated into her home and weathered the storm with her children safely tucked by her side.

As Americans, we have a fetish with our technology. I know this mom is only 25, but is it so bad that she had to cancel her myspace page? Did anyone force her to get on the web to receive the harassement? Could we do without our technology if it meant protecting ourselves and/or our children from the world? Can I do without my technology if I were spending too much time with it and ignoring the needs of my family? If it were my god and I'd lost my intimacy with my God?

Finally, let me end on a more positive note. The public's outcry against this woman, I'd like to believe, is because at least on some level, people "get" this. I know I'm not alone in my views about honesty, preserving our children's childhoods, and providing a healthy homelife.

I have a broader hope in this because of the rush of support for Mike Huckabee. He's out there with his faith, it's not a hidden, glossed over part of his life, it's who he is. He's out there with wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade. He appears to be a solid, ethical man of integrity--a rare find in politics--and I think America wants this.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

My first post of the new year should be of rolling down a hill. Yep, rolling down a hill in November, I think. I did it. I laughed. But I'm not ready to tell the story yet. But soon.

Until then, I'm telling you the crazy, insane, want to pull my hair out time of year is here. But it's for a good cause. Official Gala planning started TODAY. I'll see you on March 7th.

Just kidding. Well, it did start today and I may be posting less, and it is all for a good cause, that's the truth of it. I spent an hour or so going over details and plans for this small town's first Gala. I've put one on for our other PRC, but it's located in a somewhat more affluent area. I am a little anxious about how this one will come off. Our Prayer Coordinator is all set (Miss Anita for those who know her-and her enthusiasm has blessed me hugely!), and we have a few other key details figured out-like what we're serving at the Prayer Dessert. We don't know who our MC is for the big night or who the caterer is, but hey, we got dessert planned!

No one really understands all the details that go into such a big event until they do this. Just to get the Prayer Dessert on the calendar took seven phone calls and about an hour and a half and I'm not done yet. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this in the next few weeks. I may not see you back here until March 7th! No, come back, its all good stuff, and the Lord will really have a chance to do big things. I can't wait to see them-and to report the whole story on March 7th!