Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Tuesday

Yesterday was another "nothing super special" kind of a day, but I enjoyed my time with the kids...I'm running again (so doing something good for me), I had a great night's sleep, and I was eating well, so I think that combination helps put me in a great state of mind! (I am more patient anyway!!)
So Monday had been a holiday (MLK day) and the kiddos were up a little after 7am. Tuesday was back to school and, wouldn't you know it, they had to be woken at 8:10am! We hurried through the morning routine, got the older two on the bus, took KBH to preschool, and then NJH and I headed home to do laundry, tidy up a bit, and play. I can't even describe how much I am enjoying my time with him! He is our "last" and I have never had a child his age without another baby on the scene. I find myself more patient with him, noticing the fun little things, and cherishing this time. Yesterday was Day Nine in undies, doing well with #2, but still having many #1 accidents. He loves his new Sesame Street undies, but has trouble staying dry for longer periods of time. At home, I let him wear just the undies, but when we're out and about, I've been putting plastic pants on over the undies, just in case.
After getting KBH from preschool, we had a friend and her daughter over for a short playdate/lunch date. It was so nice to visit with her!
Before I knew it, it was nap time. CAH had an afternoon playdate get canceled (mix up in dates), so she was a little sad. I pulled out a gift she had received for her 4th birthday, but we'd never played with: a really amazing paper doll set! Her eyes lit up and we spent the next 2 hours getting them set up and playing.

By then, NCH was home from school and the younger two were up from their naps. Everyone enjoyed hot cocoa with marshmallows and then it was homework time. CAH did a lovely job working at the island. KBH wanted homework too, so we pulled out her "Pooh Preschool Workbook." I can't believe the difference in her skills from a few months ago to now: she is writing letters and following directions beautifully! Of course she was sporting a dress up necklace and at least 3 dress up rings as she did her work!!! Anyway, CAH was showing us her very neat handwriting and KBH was eager to copy...very cute watching them interact. After proudly showing us is 100% on his chapter 6 math test, NCH headed down to his desk (in the "basement office") and quickly finished his spelling homework. I can't describe the energy in the house at that time - everyone was busy, very productive, working and accomplishing. I can only imagine what homeschooling this herd would be like! (I haven't closed that door on that one...)

Soon it was dinner time: NCH planned this week's meals, so it was burgers and spinach salad. (I also pulled a container of pea and ham soup out of the freezer, to fill this hungry crew.) It's fun to watch this bunch eat: they all went for the hard boiled eggs on the spinach salad first, then the burger, then the soup, then they asked for more egg to put on the spinach! Who knew kids could like hard boiled eggs so much?!! It was a good thing I've been making up a plate for hubby on the nights he works late, or he wouldn't have any dinner at all!
After dinner, CAH took out the recyclables but couldn't find a place for the egg cartons, so I told her she and her sister could use them for crafts. They went right to work with markers, designing their "boats." NJH wanted to color too, but I gave him crayons and a fire safety coloring book instead (he nipped the ends off the markers the last time he used them!!) NCH was very busy on the computer (he's had a ball with the legos/star wars web site.)

Before I knew it, it was bath time: I like taking the kids up one at a time for bath. It's quieter and drier!! CAH was first, then KBH, then NCH. When they were done, hubby bathed NJH while NCH read on his own and I read to the girls. We also reviewed their AWANA verses. I am thrilled with not only their ability to memorize the Bible, but their willingness, eagerness! CAH just finished memorizing the books of the New Testament and is now on to John 3:14-16. KBH has just two verses left in her book, and NCH is finishing up the last section of Old Testament books memory.
Once the kiddos were tucked in bed, I enjoyed a little "American Idol" on TV, folded the last of the laundry, and knit a few rows on the baby blanket I am making for my niece or nephew!! Then it was time to heat my "hot bag" (warm neck pillow), read a little of "And the Shofar Blew" (by Francine Rivers) and off to dreamland for me.
It was a great day: nothing super spectacular, but memories were made and I know my children were loved.

(photo taken earlier in the month - NCH skiing at the lake)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dating My Treadmill

Yes, I'm back on the treadmill again! Only on week 1, workout 2 of the Couch to 5K (I'm calling this Round 2 - Mission: Faster!) So far, so good. So far, so sweaty! I've had hubby and all four kids ogling me, sometimes talking to me, sometimes screeching and shrieking, but I'm doing my best to stay focused! Motivation will be challenging: treadmill is boring, and I can't even escape the chaos of the house (something that has been very motivating in the past, to get OUT to run.) I'm hoping I remember this come Spring and I don't mutter a complaint about running outside!
Anyway, Day One, I ran to ABBA Gold Greatest Hits - very fun to run to! My only danger: running and singing along leaves me quite out of breath!
Today, I ran to Michael W. Smith's "Live the Life" album. The first few songs are great for running - "Love Me Good," "I Believe in You Now" and especially "Don't Give Up" have a great beat and inspiring lyrics. While I was stretching afterwards, however, "Hello, Good-bye" was playing and I forgot how moved I am by that song...Michael W. Smith wrote it for his little baby, Noah, who died shortly after he was born. It was a song I listened to often after losing my own twins, Noah and Christopher, in April of 2001. Isn't amazing that I have a houseful of kiddos, but in my mind, I can be brought back to that sad, dark time so quickly!
Another song on that same album is "Never Been Unloved" and it's a favorite of mine. I hope the lyrics make you feel loved too!

I have been unfaithful
I have been unworthy
I have been unrighteous
And I have been unmerciful

I have been unreachable
I have been unteachable
I have been unwilling
And I have been undesirable

And sometimes I have unwise
I've been undone by what I'm unsure of
But because of You
And all that You went through
I know that I have never been unloved

I have been unbroken
I have been unmended
I have been uneasy
And I've been unapproachable

I've been unemotional
I've been unexceptional
I've been undecided
And I have been unqualified

I have been unfair
I've been unfit for blessings from above
But even I can see
The sacrifice You made for me
To show that I have never been unloved

It's because of You
And all that You went through
I know that I have never been unloved

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I've Struck Gold!

I was stumbling around the web, looking for a good "no cream" mushroom soup recipe...suddenly I found it. The blog of all blogs - billions of recipes and South Beach-friendly!!! "Kalyn's Kitchen." I tried the Double Mushroom Soup recipe yesterday and it was divine! I can't wait to try another recipe...
Here is her link - enjoy!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Moms, You are NOT Invisible!

A few mom friends of mine have recently been feeling a little blue and overwhelmed...a little lost, unnoticed and invisible. Here is a beautiful passage from Nicole Johnson. May it touch you as it has touched me...

It started to happen gradually …

One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, "Who is that with you, young fella?"

"Nobody," he shrugged.

Nobody? The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only 5, but as we crossed the street I thought, "Oh my goodness, nobody?"
I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to my family - like "Turn the TV down, please" - and nothing would happen. Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, "Would someone turn the TV down?" Nothing.

Just the other night my husband and I were out at a party. We'd been there for about three hours and I was ready to leave. I noticed he was talking to a friend from work. So I walked over, and when there was a break in the conversation, I whispered, "I'm ready to go when you are." He just kept right on talking.

That's when I started to put all the pieces together. I don't think he can see me. I don't think anyone can see me.

I'm invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She's going … she's going … she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

* No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
* These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
* They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
* The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."

And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.