Monday, August 31, 2015

Sunday Night Summary, August 30, 2015

Reading: A friend (thank you, Jen Fisher) allowed me to borrow her copy of Jen Hatmaker's "For the Love," and I am so glad she did. This book. This woman. I love it and her. I love the journey God has taken her on in discovering how to truly love Him and people well. I love that she is not only willing but also incredibly gifted in telling the story of her journey and all that she has learned along the way. In her early 40's, Jen Hatmaker has a wealth of wisdom mixed with a lot of humor to offer in her latest release, "For the Love."

From blog world this week, I read this post by Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience, the heart of which has been challenging me significantly, causing me to ask myself, "How am I really living out the good news that Jesus is and declared through His life, death and resurrection to ALL people, those inside and outside the church?"

Make time to read this all important, incredibly relevant post of Ann Voskamp's. Let this paragraph whet your appetite for the entire post:

When we are against abortion but are for the cutting of social safety nets, when our political agendas are loud but our daily schedules are pretty quiet about serving people different than us, when we get up on our soapboxes about morality but don’t get out of our comfortable boxes to make real friends with those who live a different lifestyle —— we look like we’re more about pro-birth than we are pro-life, we look like we’re more about self-preservation than community transformation, we look like we’re more about judgement than Jesus.
The life of Jesus would radically suggest: The most conservative in theology, should be the most liberal in loving.
The life of Jesus would radically suggest: Don’t advertise your beautiful faith without advertising your broken-down faults — because those broken-down faults are the exact reason why you need your beautiful faith.
Both Jen Hatmaker and Ann Voskamp, in their vastly different yet uniquely beautiful writing and speaking, articulate so many things for which my heart beats loud and hard. These women use strong words and better words than I seem to be able to put together to communicate so much that rings true for me in the walking out of my faith. I am grateful for their diligent pursuit of the gifts God's deposited in them and sacrifices they have made to see those gifts enjoyed and benefited from by others, far and wide. 
Eating: I scored a glut of re-fried black beans at BB's several weeks ago, and have been making a layered taco dip with them that has been a huge hit at several summer gatherings we've had to bring a food dish to.
Here is the ever so easy to put together layered dip, a spin on the traditional taco dip.

1 can re-fried black beans 
Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt (your choice; I use greek yogurt)
Guacamole (homemade or store bought, your choice)
Salsa (same as above)
Shredded Cheddar or mozzarella cheese 

Simply layer the above ingredients and serve with your favorite tortilla chips. It's delicious!

Running out of quick breakfast options this past week, I had to resort to making an overnight french toast. Pioneer Woman's recipes never fail me. I looked up an overnight french toast recipe from her, and I was again pleased. Try it. You won't regret it.
Doing: Many returned to school this past week, and so did we. Though, I have learned over the last 5 years of doing this home school gig that a gentle easing back into school goes much better for us than jumping into a full schedule from Day 1. As such, I begin a little earlier than some of my com padres and affectionately call it our "Soft start."

We only took on about half our subjects this week and even then, only completed four school days out of the five. Midweek we took the day off for one final girls' day for Bella at a friend's house who lives right on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

My friend, Jill, has gathered Bella along with a handful of other girls Bella's age at her house several times this summer and throughout last spring to spend time with the girls and teach them all things domestic arts related. 
This last girls' day, Jill's focus was spending time with God. Jill graciously allowed me to lead a small time of teaching the girls from what I have learned over my life time about developing, sustaining and strengthening one's relationship with God through Bible reading, prayer and journaling. 
I have to say these are the kinds of opportunities that absolutely make me feel so alive and purpose driven. I love talking about my relationship with God. I love teaching others, especially girls and women, about spiritual things. It was by far one of the highlights of my week, especially the time we had with the girls, talking about what they did and/or learned after they practiced some of the things I taught them. 
We had several doctors' appointments this week. Do I say that a lot? I feel like I say that a lot. sigh. The kids and I all had dental appointments. The kids managed no cavities for which I gave much thanks. I, however, did not fare so well. 
I am telling you, I am the most ardent brusher/flosser in this family, and I always end up the one having the most dental procedures. sigh again. In the midst of scheduling two different teeth extractions, I now have to get a filling to boot. Seriously?  I am ready to have them yank all my teeth and fill my mouth with dentures. I'd have a new party trick at least. 
We enjoyed a more fall-ish feeling week weather wise, and are beginning to see other signs of fall like dried, brown leaves already coating our yard and spiders spinning some rather impressive webs right outside our windows at night. 

The kids and I enjoyed one final "Fun Friday," with some of our home school buds again at our friend, Jill's house. Jumping off her pier, playing "King of the Inter-tube," and eating take out pizza was a great way to celebrate the end of summer and our first week of school simultaneously.

I had my own unintended celebration, winning at my neighborhood Bunco that night. Woot!

I put in just under 10 miles this week running, less than I want but more than nothing. And all my runs were under a 9 minute/mile pace for which I am thrilled. I am just grateful to be out there. 

Oddly enough, one of my favorite things to do all month is my big grocery shop at a discount store 50 minutes from my house. I wake up at 6:30 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month typically, am on the road by 7 a.m. and arrive to BB's as they are opening their doors at 8 a.m. I spend 4 hours grocery shopping and love every second of it, except for maybe the 120 seconds I spend in the deep freezer. That's not as much fun.  But, this grocery store fills my freezers, fridge and pantry for about a quarter of the cost of shopping at any of my local grocery stores. It is so worth the time and trip in this season of my life. And, I get a solid 6 hours all by myself. I catch up on podcasts I want to listen to. I sit in sheer silence and breathe a little deeper. I pray. I love it. 

Saturday afternoon, I attended a baby shower my church hosted for the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns.  I had never been to a baby shower like it, and was so grateful for the ways in which my church seeks to play a role in a number of ministries reaching out to and meeting the needs of communities outside its own reach.

Along those lines, as a family we attended a special evening potluck and service at our church tonight that gave attention to the various international missions folks from our church have been on and/or are still a part of. My soul was lifted and enlarged to hear about the activity of God and the unity of His Spirit across the world, specifically in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Scotland, Sudan and Russia.

Looking Ahead: I gotta say that I am fighting to look at the week ahead with a cheerful outlook. The heavy circumstances of various friends and family are weighing on my heart tonight in addition to my own little family's needs for this week ahead.
Our truck barely got us home tonight, dash lights indicating several things, more things than we already knew about, needing our attention. So, we need to get that taken care of. 
I am scheduled for my first tooth extraction on Wednesday. I cannot tell you how much I am not looking forward to this. The thing I keep consoling myself with is the thought that maybe, just maybe, I might lose a pound or two due to not being able to eat solids for some time while I heal.

And, hey, because this is how we roll around here...why don't we just end this banner week with a laser treatment for Judah. Friday afternoon, we would love your thoughts and prayers. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sunday Night Summary, August 23, 2015

Reading: My reading comes this week via blogs. I love reading blogs because they are short and to the point, kind of like me. 

My favorite types of blogs to read are spiritual growth in nature. I will definitely peruse food blogs as well, but honestly, food bloggers, I skip all your words and head straight to the recipe. Occasionally I'll read your comments because I will find the truth about your recipe there or any tweaks I may need to make.

This week, I want to highlight two posts I read, both guest writers ironically.  The first is a blog I have long read, and adored, and I would even say have been mentored by.  It is called, "A Holy Experience," authored by Ann Voskamp, NYTimes best seller of "One Thousand Gifts."

This week, Emily Freeman, wrote a beautiful piece over at A Holy Experience taken from her most recent book release, "Simply Tuesday."  The post entitled, "Hope For Your Soul When You Feel Small" spoke to me so profoundly as one who is living a much smaller life in many ways than I ever thought I would.

In the post, Emily compares stairwells and stages, literally and metaphorically. As one who longs for and even feels a bit at home on stages, in the spotlight, I live most of my life in stairwells (many of which are scattered throughout Johns Hopkins). I love these lines from Emily's post:

And while important things do happen on stages, while influence does come from spotlights, I never want to forget important things happen in stairwells too.
Christ spent His life on the stage of earth but He lived His moments in the stairwells of small towns.
Christ ascended to the stage of heaven but He lives His moments now within the stairwell of the human heart.
Never forsake the stairwell for the stage.

It's well worth a complete read.

My second blog post recommendation comes from another author, Amber Haines, who recently released her book entitled, "Wild in the Hollow." On Amber's blog, she featured guest writer, Tara Owens, who wrote a poetic narrative reflecting truths of the gospel in the most accessible and beautiful of ways as she retells the unthinkable choice of saving her baby's life or saving her own.

The most divinely gripping of paragraphs for me was the following: 
I wanted this child because I had been wanted first. The desire of God for me was a forest fire compared to the spark this girl baby ignited in me. The sacrificial choice made for me made me want to make that same choice. The desire for this life hidden within made me giving up my outward life possible.
Read more here
Eating: I was able to find Toffee Bits last trip to BB's (discount grocery store) and decided to make a dessert using them for the book club I hosted this past Wednesday. The girls coming preferred a chocolate trifle over brownies, so I made one up. And, I have to say it was pretty amazing.

Bri's Made Up Chocolate Trifle:

Make a chocolate cake; my favorite recipe for chocolate cake is what some people call "Wacky Cake" because it has no eggs or milk in it.

I also made my new go-to, from-scratch chocolate pudding. It is so easy to make, it is shameful to buy boxed pudding ever again once you know this recipe. (I have played with this recipe quite a bit, sometimes leaving out the confectioner's sugar, buying a variety of kinds of chocolate including chocolate chips, and also using full fat and low fat ricotta cheese. All variations have turned out a little different, but all really yummy.)

I made homemade whipped cream. Is there any other kind?
Once all the components of the trifle are made, all that's left to do is layer in a glass trifle dish.
Cake, pudding, whipped cream, toffee, repeat. 
Try it for your next get together. You won't regret it.
Doing: We crammed it in this week, seeing that it was our last week of summer vacation. I wanted the kids to have as many social engagements as I could muster this week.

There were sleep overs for all the kids, visits with friends, sometimes several a day, a day trip to Cascade Lake with our new homeschool co op, Crossroads, birthday parties, and plenty of swimming, one of those swims at an old favorite spot of ours, Jerusalem Mill. The calendar was so booked this week that my boys actually asked not to go to a monthly boys' night they typically attend because they were so zonked.

In the midst of all the running around, I managed to clean and re-organize the school room, finish ordering school materials and/or books, type out daily school schedules for each of the kids and myself for this upcoming year, take cookies to a friend whose stepdad just came home from the hospital, host book club, attend our final Trust Based Parenting session, run Judah to the library for his last two shifts as a summer volunteer, mow our entire lawn and run about 8 miles this week (less than my weekly goal, but something is better than nothing.)
A friend turned me on to some new strength training videos that I have been implementing into my workouts throughout the week. 
I have had trouble with my IT band for a couple years, and am hoping that doing a better job at strength training and stretching will heal it and keep me on the road.
We ended the week in the best way I can think of, celebrating the lives of our boys and dear friends of our's little girl, who just turned one. All three of these children are answers to prayer and bring great joy to all of us.

Looking Ahead:
Well, it's time. We will start school tomorrow. Like a middle aged momma entering a pool, we ease in slowly. We will have three days of devoted school time this week, and only do some of our subjects. We repeat this plan next week as well. 
Most of my focus and effort this week and next is just re-acclimating all of us to the schedule, pace and focus that school requires. I need as much of a slow ease into all of that as much, if not more than the kids do. I am going to sorely miss taking two hours in the morning to "wake up."
We also have three separate doctor's appointments, all routine visits.

However, I am going to have to call our pediatrician because Judah has been having pain in his knee joint for several days, and this is something we have seen in him a handful of times in the past. 
It has come and gone and even been located in different joints. We have consulted once already with the pediatrician about it, but nothing emergent revealed itself at the time. 
So, I am calling again this week to find out if we need to consider blood work or some further scans. I am not thrilled about this at all, but Judah's pediatrician told us at the first visit about his joint pain that we would probably need to take this route if his joint pain continued to show up.

I am praying it is simply growth pains. While I hate to see any of my kids in pain, I think it would be a good sign if Judah was experiencing growth pains given he has growth hormone deficiency and is "not supposed" to be growing all that much if at all according to many years of pituitary testing.
Now past midnight, it is time to hit the hay.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Night Summary, August 16, 2015

Reading: This wasn't a super exciting reading week. What little time I took to read, I spent it in a book entitled, "Seizures and Epilepsy in Childhood, A Guide," by John Freeman, Eileen Vining, and Diana Pillas.  Published by Johns Hopkins Press, it was a book recommended by Bella's neurologist. Admittedly, I did not get very far into this book before wanting to put it down. Not exactly a page turner, but something I feel I need to read to best understand what is happening in my daughter's brain. 

The definition of absence seizures, the type of seizure Bella has is thus, An absence seizure, formerly called petit mal, is a very special and uncommon type of seizure.  It starts suddenly and without warning.  The child displays a glazed look and stares.  She doesn't know what is happening and usually cannot later recall things that occurred during the seizure.  Occasionally, there is a little eye-blinking or head-bobbing.  The episode usually lasts seconds, occasionally as long as fifteen seconds, and ends as abruptly as it started.  When the seizure ends, the child is immediately alert.  There is no confusion afterward.  These seizures may occur many times a day and are often mistaken for day dreaming."

Thankfully, Bella has never been hurt during one of her seizures, and they do not last longer than a few seconds.  Nevertheless, we are still trying to work on controlling them through medication and other means. 

Another book I continued this week was a Bible study on the prophets of the Old Testament by Nancy Guthrie, entitled, "The Word of the Lord: Seeing Jesus in the Prophets." I read to the end of Jeremiah this week and started reading the book of Daniel. 

Watching: More exciting than reading about seizures, LA and I started a new Netflix series called, "Chef's Table." This series ropes me in on many levels: the food, the psychology of each chef featured and the journey they have taken to arrive at the status of a world renown chef.  

We have only watched two of the six episodes in this series,but I wonder if I already watched my favorite episode, the 2nd, which highlighted Chef Dan Barber.  Aside from his near constant, foul language, his passion for flavor and as a result for the ways in which food is grown and soil is cared for really resonated with me.

Lawrence had a meeting one evening this week, so the kids and I watched "Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire."  The boys have read devoured the entire Harry Potter series over this past year. It has provided much fodder for imaginative play and thoughtful discussion with our kids about good vs. evil, what the spells in Harry Potter mean (I am totally counting this as a Latin credit for my boys!), about magic and the way it can appropriately be viewed as entertainment but also inappropriately applied when one tries to gain control over someone or something over which only God Himself has control. 

On family night, we brought out a classic to watch with the kids, "Chariots of Fire."  Competitive running for the glory of God versus one's self glory is one of the themes of this film and why I love it so much. "When I run, I feel God's pleasure," a statement made by one of the film's main characters, Eric Liddell, is a sentiment I share. 

My children did not share my appreciation. Sigh. They were bored and respectfully bit their tongues throughout the movie so that I alone could enjoy it. 

Eating:  We enjoyed one of my summer favorites this week: Tomato Pie. You don't have to love tomatoes to love this savory pie.  It seems I was the last of my friends who I know also love this dish to make and enjoy it. Here is the recipe link:

Doing:  We continued with musical practice with the performance scheduled for September 27th.  J and T are both working on speaking parts, and B is working on a special dance the 7 and 8 year old girls will be doing. 

Judah had his annual follow up with his eye surgeon. After many tests, pictures, dilation and bright lights shone in his eyes, Judah was sent off with the great report of stable eyes.  We are so grateful. 

Providentially, we were at Hopkins the same day a friend of ours' step father was admitted for brain surgery. Judah and I had the opportunity to take some small snacks to them and spend a few minutes talking and praying for God's peace and healing.

Hopkins is a "home away from home" for us, an oddly comfortable place for us to bring a familiar face and hopefully the presence of God and His goodness to those who might find themselves there. 

This past weekend, we had three different sets of friends who were there for one reason or another. It's not a place of ministry I would have ever chosen for myself or my kids, but it has become a place where God has shown me so much of Himself, His provision and many mercies. It is a place in which I am grateful our family can serve and bless others in ways we have so richly been blessed. 

We enjoyed lunch dates, play dates, and more swimming this week.

Bella had the opportunity to have her hair cut with a friend which was so fun for both girls. My only regret is not getting this done at the BEGINNING of the summer rather than at the end. Duh!

We continued with our Trust Based Parenting class, the third of four sessions we will have. I am grateful to be exposed to another way of thinking through and responding to my (and others') children's behavioral challenges.  If nothing else, it is growing in me more empathy, compassion and understanding that people, like books, cannot be judged by their "covers." 

It was so refreshing to be at church this morning; I needed to hear truth and laud truth after the day I had yesterday. A conflict between LA and me spiraled me into a web of lies that I pondered and perseverated on until it literally wore me out physically. By the end of the day, when we were scheduled to have a family over for dessert, I was "stuck" in bed. I crawled in bed at 6 and slept heavy for 2.5 hours. When I woke, I was postured so differently, level headed and reasonable, patient and willing to be entreated. 

I am not much different from a child, I suppose. I need to have proper rest, exercise, good eating and my meds. all on board to function anything close to normal.

And, here's the thing. The conflict remains unresolved. Honestly, I don't know how it is going to be resolved. I don't even really know what needs to happen, who needs to move on his position. But, LA and I are united again to persevere in grace with one another. We are committed afresh to keep fighting for peace and further unity, and that alone is a huge victory or at least a huge victory for us.

This morning, we listened to a message our pastor boldly delivered on self deception. It happened to Saul. It happens to all of us. His big idea was that self deception is not in itself evil, but rather the means by which many evils are done.  

I topped off the week running a 5K at a local vineyard. It's a race I did with a group of girlfriends last year and had so much fun. This year for a variety of reasons, all the girls who registered to run with me couldn't make it. So, my hubby and kids came with me to cheer me on and watch me run.  

It was a hot run and not the time I was hoping for, but an opportunity to run nonetheless. And, I am always grateful for each time I complete another run; I know I am not owed any of those paces. But, boy do I love running!

Looking ahead:  This is the last week of summer vacation for us. We will have our "soft start" to school on the 24th of August. So, I am sure I will pack in as much fun as I can possibly muster amidst the ordinary needs of life.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Sunday Night Summary, August 9, 2015

Reading: I'm nearing the end of "Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe," and am convinced I would be well served to read other books written by the co-authors of this one--the newly released book, "Longing for Paris" by Sarah Mae along with Sally Clarkson's "Own Your Life."

My biggest take away from "Desperate" has been to see the details of my life as unique and moreso, the "formula" needed to thrive as a wife and mother as unique as well. I have a tendency to look at the lives of others who I esteem or judge as thriving in their roles of wife and mother and try to imitate aspects of what I see them doing, thinking that doing so will make me thrive.  Only, it doesn't work, and then I become frustrated, defeated, confused and can even despair.  

What this book is helping me to see and embrace, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is that who I am, who my husband is, who each of my children are all add up to a unique situation here with a unique mixture of temperaments and needs, preferences, desires, goals and ways of achieving those goals.

It requires me to slow down long enough to observe MY family, to listen and pray, to try things that may seem counter intuitive, to release my expectations on how to parent and what the outcomes may be of such parenting, and to adjust routines, priorities, and expectations in order to achieve the right mix of activity, rest, productivity and consumption our family needs to thrive to the best of its ability. 

Specifically, I am seeing increasingly how little I can actually give of my time, attention and resources to things and people outside my little family. When I say "little," I have to clarify that my idea of "little" is probably someone else's "a lot."  By nature, I am an ambitious person who all too often wants to be the answer to all the problems, meet all the needs of all the people everywhere, world round. I want to participate in all the ministries and start some new ones. I want to read all the books, watch all the documentaries, sign all the petitions, march in all the crusades...You get the idea. I kind of can't do that and serve my family well.
I know. I shouldn't have to read a book and be 11 years into this mothering thing before I figured that out. 

Nevertheless, there has been some grieving involved in this for me, but as I am cutting things out and saying no to opportunities, I am experiencing greater peace in my own heart, mind and soul which translates to a more peaceful home in general.  This is good. 

Eating: The kids were at something called "Action Camp" which is similar to VBS, only it's in the evening, and they are served dinner. Win for me on dinner prep. this week! 

I made a 7 layer salad at the start of the week and ate that pretty much all week long. Lawrence and I were able to catch dinner out, sans kids, Monday evening with a gift card to Friday's. Yay for gift cards. But, I gotta say; I'm sick of Friday's.

We typically have family pizza/movie night on Friday night each week. This week, it happened on Saturday, however, as Action Camp had their own family night to end the week.  

I have made a pizza twice now that LA and I have so enjoyed, he told me I should name it after he found out I made it up. So, here it is if you care to try it yourself.

Pizza Crust (I love the Earth's Pride brand I can buy at BJ's)

Jalapeno and Cilantro Monterey Jack Cheese (not something that is easy to find, but well worth it if you can find it!)
Cream Cheese or Greek Yogurt (your pick; both work well)
red onion
colored peppers
zucchini (optional)
mushrooms (optional)
mozzarella cheese, shredded

I like to pre-bake the crust at 475 for a few minutes to allow it to get a bit crusty, not crisp, just crusty. 

I mix the jalapeno/cilantro cheese with cream cheese or greek yogurt, equal parts, to make like a cheese 'paste.'  This will be the "sauce" for your pizza. 

You can pan fry or oven bake your bacon, whichever method you prefer. I used both regular bacon and turkey bacon for this, and both tasted great. So, do what is right for you.

I sauteed the red onion, peppers, zukes and shrooms, adding them to the saute pan in that order. The onions need a little more time to saute to the point of caramelizing. I also prefer my zukes and shrooms to not get too mushy. So, I throw them in later in the sauteing process.

To assemble pizza, spread the cheese 'paste' onto the crust. Pile on the sauteed veggies. Break up bacon pieces on top of veggies. Finally, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top to bind all that veggie/bacon goodness together. Yum!

It felt like a slower paced week for us.
The kids attended Action Camp in the evenings, though Tucker had to miss two days for running random, low grade fevers for a day and a half. They were so out of the blue with no other symptoms, but I have my own theory about this.

We were two days without the Pilot again this week which meant hitching a ride to musical practice on Monday and otherwise being home bound for Monday and Tuesday.  

Plans I had for the boys to participate in a Minecraft Mania event at one of our local libraries on Tuesday were cancelled, and a swimming get together scheduled for Wednesday was also cancelled for a variety of reasons. 

Tucker's fever prevented us from getting together with friends who wanted to drop in on Thursday and also a scheduled creek play day at our house with friends on Friday. 

A lot of cancelled plans for the boys' "Week of Birthday," which is typically hugely disappointing for all of us, but I wonder if my kids, along with me,  have been needing some down time, some space, quiet, rest, even boredom to get a grip on our relating with each other and seeing how much having no plans can afford us within our home and with each other. 

The boys and I pulled out a game they received for Christmas and finally learned how to play, Settlers of Catan. We set the board up on Monday and played a little each day.

I played cards with Bella several times. 

I was on top of my laundry, even managing to fold it and put it away all week long!  I spoke with my sister, sister-in-law and mom on the phone, something I just do not make time to do typically. I read. We swam. I napped. 

I even managed to log close to 14 miles this week in my running shoes. My goal has been 13. 

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the semi-secluded life this week, aspects of it anyway. With the increased focus and peace, however, came some unsettling temptations for me personally. 

Having to cancel plans or just not have many in place this week, I realized that I often initiate with others for the fear that I will be forgotten otherwise.
Hard to admit that, but it's true.

God has definitely been putting His finger on that in my life lately--this fear of being forgotten or left out. I know I am not alone. FOMO is a "thing" I didn't create but apparently "suffer" from. 

Thursday night, I attended a parenting course, called "Trust Based Parenting," LA and I are going through with some friends of ours. The sessions we watched and discussed this week were immediately applied and benefited from in our home and parenting.  

Though not always easy to implement, they are simple changes really.  Get down on eye level with your child. Give eye contact and request eye contact from your child. Use a soft tone of voice and gentle touches.  It may not sound all that profound, but the affects have been profound!

Too often, I am barking orders from another room in the house. I am breaking up fights happening in the basement while I continue to cook in the kitchen. I am "listening" to my son tell me all about his Lego creation while I scroll my Instagram feed. This can work for some kids and even my kids some of the time. But, what I am communicating to my children through my body language is that they are not enough of a priority in that moment to go to them, to give them eye contact and my full attention and patience.

Today, I tried another way, this method of parenting, with one of my children who absolutely lost control of herself in the car ride home from church. She (I guess you can tell who I'm talking about, huh, using "she"?) screamed at the top of her lungs over and over and banged on the window because she missed seeing a roadside attraction we occasionally drive by on our way to and from church.
Totally inappropriate behavior for a 8.5 year old. Absolutely disproportionate response for the circumstance.

Typically, I may have yelled, or tried to yell over top of my daughter to tell her to NOT SCREAM at something like that. Or, I would let her know that she would be receiving some form of discipline at home for the way she just over reacted.

Today, I remained quiet and calm. I asked LA to pull the car over. When he did, I calmly unbuckled my seat belt, turned around in my seat to look directly at my daughter. She covered her mouth as though I was about to flick her for screaming, another thing I have sadly done in the past. In a calm tone of voice, I simply told her that I understood it was disappointing to not have seen "the lady" but that her screaming was not appropriate, and she was not demonstrating the self control she should for that circumstance.
That's it.

She acknowledged and affirmed what I said.
I asked her to apologize to everyone in the car for screaming and ask for forgiveness for not having self control.
She did. And, that was that. Done.
No screaming match, no escalating behaviors from any of us. No further correction or punishment needed. 

If I allow pride to reign in my heart, I can be embarrassed to admit that I am applying these kinds of good parenting procedures as a result of watching this course's videos when in reality so much of what I am doing is just obeying what God has told us to do all along...Love is PATIENT, KIND, GENTLE, NOT RUDE OR SELFISH. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. 
Yeah, apparently that makes for good parenting, too.

Friday night, we all enjoyed the end of Action Camp Family Night at Christ Fellowship Church. Free Chic Fil-A dinner, Kona Ices, inflatable bouncy and water Slides, face painting and tug of war. 

Saturday is typically a work day for us here at Montford. We mowed, weeded, had some intensive bathroom cleaning training and prepared our home to host LA's family today for our monthly Sunday Family lunch.  We ended our work day with a dip at our friends' pool who so generously allow us use of their glorious pool and property. It is a little taste of Heaven at MistyGlen Farm, and we are always so blessed to spend some time there. Lucky for us, they are just five minutes' drive from our house.

Today, we celebrated the boys' 11th birthday with LA's family. I can really, hardly believe they are 11. I am loving, though, watching them grow independent, more responsible and articulate.  We enjoyed one of their favorites, macaroni and cheese, along with meatball sandwiches, sauteed green beans, and black bean taco dip. For dessert, Judah had a chocolate ice cream cake, and Tucker savored one of his favorites, lemon meringue pie. 

Looking ahead: 
We will be working on Bella taking her new medication. It's a capsule, and she wasn't having it. We tried tonight very unsuccessfully. We are taking a step back and practicing with smaller pieces of candy. Hopefully, she'll be taking her new medicine like a champ this time next week.
Also on the health front, Judah will have a follow up with his eye surgeon.
I am looking forward to running a 5K at a local vineyard next Sunday night, Boordy Vineyard. Running and wine--two of my favorites together. Awesome!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sunday Night Summary

It occurred to me recently as I spoke with a friend that I often need to "mind dump" in order to feel situated mentally. Same holds true of my emotions. I just need to get it out.
I journal quite a bit, but not as much as I like. 
I think about my family all the time but don't communicate with any of them consistently, even my mom. Sorry, mom.
I also have  not been writing consistently in this space, and I think it is partly due to me over thinking it. Listening to a podcast today with Maria Popova, author of famed blog, "Brain Pickings," which I admit I have never read, something she said struck a cord with me. She said that in order for a person's writing to be sustainable over the long haul, one should always write, in whatever medium, for one's self.

For these reasons and more, I thought I would start and hopefully, sustain, a "Sunday Night Summary" series here on my blog. I know myself well enough to know I will not write every Sunday night. I just won't. The only thing I am consistent with is inconsistency. I lie. I brush my teeth every day. Without fail. A part from that, there is just little else I do consistently that isn't necessary for my survival of course.  

But, I am hoping to tap out a *brief* (if this is possible for me) summary of my week

  • to serve as a mind dump, a type of mental closure on my week. This is for me more than anyone who might read my blog. 
  • to send to my family so they can at least have heard something from me on what's going on in my world.
  • to write something here on the blog consistently.
Onto the inaugural Sunday Night Summary!

We'll go with categories for brevity's sake. 

Reading: "Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe" by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. In the chapter entitled, "Taming the Beast of Housework," Sally points out that, " a happy mom is a real gift for her children."  I am not the picture of a happy mom. I am grumpy a lot as I carry out my duties as a wife, mom and home maker. I become particularly grumpy about messes.

I know I am not alone in this struggle. But just because it is a common temptation for many a momma does not mean that I want to remain in this place. I want to find that gentle balance of having an orderly home environment while maintaining joy and peace in our hearts and relationships with one another. What good is an outwardly, orderly home when inwardly, we are all striving and embittered toward one another?

I appreciated her last thoughts of the chapter on creating a haven. No need to ditch my desire for order and cleanliness. I just have to learn how to motivate myself and my children in life giving ways. She suggests listening to an audio book , playing loud music, or setting timers with a promised reward at the conclusion of that time. I often do this for myself, but it has not often occurred to me to do this for my children.

I love how Sally motivates her reader to try a mentality and approach toward housework that will lighten everyone's mood by saying, "Adding color and interest into the tasks of life significantly diminishes that weight of stress and refills my soul to keep going."

Eating: For this category, I'll say that I was able to make my monthly trip to BB's on Saturday with a friend this time. This is an activity I look forward to each month. I love the thrill of finding great food at amazing prices and walking out with the immense satisfaction that I am saving my family a lot of money. This is good because I cost my family a lot of money in other areas of life, like car repairs....and oh boy, have we had a lot going on in that department lately. 
The deal I was most excited about this month? Organic Almond Butter for $2.00 and Neumann-O's (like Oreos but organic) for $1.49. Woo Hoo!!

We had a very full week, having opportunities to hang out with many friends.
The kids had musical practice on Monday afternoon. I love when they sing the songs from the musical in the car and practice them at home. I love that my boys still have young boy voices. They are still "my babies" for a little while longer. 

Tuesday, we headed down to the Annapolis area to hang with some buds from Speech Club, the Logan's. We met another family there who is thinking about joining speech, the husband of which is a race horse trainer. That was quite fascinating to hear about his work. 

The kids swam all afternoon while I had the opportunity to hear more about Rachael's life in South Africa (this is where she grew up and lived until just several years ago). She told me about foods and other parts of her culture she misses along with the story of how God revealed Himself and the truth about Jesus to her when she was a college student. She actually came to know Christ through an event that Campus Crusade held on her campus. Oh, it made me miss my days on staff with Cru and long for another season of ministry like that. Maybe one day again. Maybe. 

That evening, our family joined a few other families to begin a four week course on "Trust Based Parenting."  We are seeking to support friends of ours who are preparing to become foster parents, and we are also looking for some parenting help for ourselves with some of the issues we face here with our own three who qualify as "kids from hard places" given the way they all experienced "trauma" at birth in their own individual ways. 

Wednesday, our Pilot was taken to the mechanic for some maintenance and to look at a tire and steering, both of which we have noticed some problems.  I thought I was going to be getting the Pilot back at the end of the day, but lo and behold our mechanic didn't even look at it that day. Ugh!

That evening, I hosted "Gather" for the 2nd month. I have invited a few of my neighbors who I have come to know over the last year or two to join me in my home once a month for a few bites to eat, sips to drink and thoughtful conversation about family and faith.  This month, two friends were able to come, and we had a great time chatting it up.  

Thursday, my plans were totally rearranged for the day given I had no car again. My friend, Meghan, kindly invited us to swim at her in-laws' pool and picked us up to boot.  The kids had a fantastic time swimming in what we counted was the 6th pool they have swam in this summer, until we heard thunder. Then it was a scramble to get out of the pool, dried off and into Meghan's car before it dumped on us. Dump it did. We pulled up to my house with the rain coming down hard. 

Because it was raining so hard, Meghan ended up hanging out at our house with her kids, and I had Judah call the library to let them know he wouldn't make it to "work" that afternoon. I love that he is volunteering at the library this summer. What a great life experience this has been for him, and I have loved catching a glimpse at the independence, responsibilities and growth that is coming down the road for my three.  

Friday, we were supposed to check out a local swimming hole with some friends, but because I still didn't have the Pilot back, those friends came to us, and we all swam at Mr. Harry's (my neighbor) pool. Mid afternoon, we all loaded up into Tiffany's van and headed to our local library for a program put on  by the Franklin Institute about space. It was so well done, and I even learned a few new things like how astronauts shower in space. Do you know?  

Friday night, after Lawrence retrieved our Pilot from the mechanic, we had our family pizza/movie night.  This week we watched "Star Wars."

Saturday, I went to BB's with a friend which took up a large chunk of my day. On my way home, 
the Pilot's steering went awry and dash lights came on. I pulled over, put my hazards on and called LA. Long story short, we are looking at another repair, and I am without my car for another four days. Grr..

With the unexpected curve ball of dealing w/ the car, we weren't sure if we were going to have time to pull off having three families to our home that evening for a fire/cookout we had planned.  But, our friends were gracious, helped us get things together and helped by bringing food and drinks. 

We had 14 kiddos, 8 adults and a lot of fun sitting around the fire, making smores, cracking jokes and talking about all things from the best Netflix murder mystery series to really weird church experiences to how in the world we are going to parent our children who are growing up too fast. 

I haven't enjoyed hosting this many people at one time this much in a long time, which was rather surprising given how busy my week had already been and all the craziness with our car. Maybe Lawrence and I  are finding a groove with hosting.  

One thing I am learning to do to make hosting large groups not only possible but also enjoyable for me is to ask for help both in bringing food/drink and getting it all ready and dispensed to everyone. I am also learning to Keep It Simple, Silly.  Hot dogs, salsa, chips, watermelon, and smores was all we needed. Easy Peezy. 

Today, I stayed home from church because LA only has the capacity for four people to ride in his car. I opted to stay home and rest. I decided with a quiet house for a few hours, I would finally start in on some of the painting projects I wanted to devote my summer to doing. 

I spray painted four chairs that will go around our dining table. They are four different colors, fall-ish colors that coordinate with the colors in our curtains for that room.  I also painted a trunk we have had for years and years. We bought it at a thrift store. It was hunter green with $19.99 written in sharpie on top of the lid. It is now orange and will sit in our school room at the foot of our leather chair in there to house the kids' games and allow for feet to be plopped on top.

We ended our week playing a card games with the kids, LA reading an article to the kids about redemption in suffering, and I read the next chapter from our current read aloud, "The Green Ember." 

And, now the house is entirely quiet except for the hum of fans and the sound machine and the clickety-clack of me typing. Ah, this is my favorite hour of all. And, it's not even midnight yet. Hoorah!!

Looking Ahead: It's WEEK OF BIRTHDAY here for the boys. They will wake up 11 year olds tomorrow!!
I am not the best at celebrating with pomp and circumstance, but I am praying that I will put the perpetually running, mental to-do list on "pause" and focus on really entering into the celebration of my boys' lives and the gift they are to me, our family and others.