not the norm…and i’m not sure why

on the handful of saturdays a year that jimmy has to work or has a whole day of “man things” planned and i have the kids to myself all day, i decide that as it is a saturday, it has to look different from any usual day of the week. today was such a day, and here is what we did

~  had a lazy morning with pancakes and the baby shoveling in fistfuls amid happy gurgles

~ went to a friend’s and took pictures of their family for their christmas cards (yes, she is on the ball and sadly, i am not)

~ stopped by a yard sale at the montessori school housed in a bomb shelter-looking building at the end of pickett. more from curiosity at what it looks like close-up than any great need. but i did find a vintage star wars t for jameson and a hello kitty one for mercy – score

~ let the kids have tootsie pops (from the never-ending halloween supply) on the porch while i was making lunch, as opposed to making them wait until after

~ and that lunch i was busy preparing…well, didn’t know what to make to make it “different” as i was out of cheese for cheese and crackers, there were no hot dogs for pigs in blankets. so i settled on pop corn, carrots, and apples while i read to them from one of our new-to-us books from the yard sale. they were happy

~ since, they have all obliged me, patience included, by taking an extra-long nap on this beautiful, sunny, breezy day. so i also was given a nap, the time to finish reading under the tuscan sun: at home in italy (beautiful, with a weak ending – but how else do you end a book about a dream life when it isn’t over?) and now a chance to blog

~ finished out the evening with ravioli, broccoli, home-made garlic bread, nestle toll house minis and a shock top pumpkin wheat for me and our local jazz station (which i just realized we can actually get in the house!) while it was all cooking and baking

things i thought about blogging on this month but didn’t…

i had told myself when i started writing again that three times a month was doable and wouldn’t be overwhelming, but i just realized that my last post was the first of the month and now this is the last of the month with no posts in between. so, twice a month is obviously not too demanding, although, to be honest, this has been a crazy month.

:: first ever Pumpkin Day (which i think i am going to have to make an annual occurrence)…we made these fabulous pumpkin doughnuts, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin lattes. and before you get all “well no wonder she’s not losing any weight, good-bye skinny girl” on me, we had a seminar at church that night and i took all the muffins and all but four of the doughnuts (jimmy would have protested if i’d taken all) and put them out with the coffee

:: driving “home” when you’re going to the hospital because your mom was in a crazy, freak bicycle accident is really strange. i took the wrong exit out of habit – meaning i took the right exit to go to dad and mom’s but the wrong exit to go to the hospital – and had to drive along the road i grew up off of and nothing was the same. and nothing looked like it belonged. and i kept thinking how i didn’t belong here, driving on this road to the hospital

:: mercy’s little personality coming out and how she is so different away from jameson and patience. i took her with me one night to visit mom in the hospital and she was such a firecracker. a little social butterfly who enjoyed being the center of attention all on her own. i am going to have to make sure she gets more outings by herself every so often

:: visiting the beach with some Long Lost Friends and watching them play with my kids

:: trying to explain to jimmy why i was so excited about the new (to me) nikon D70 i was going to pick up the following day. !!!!!!! i said it was like i got a little piece of myself back – of who i was before we had kids. i know it might sound incredibly disloyal to say it like that, but all i can say is that i don’t mean it that way and i love being a mom. anyway, he understood and said that he still doesn’t have a working airboat, so (not mentioning the incredible price difference between my Piece of Myself and his Piece of Himself) i told him that we’d all celebrate with him when he gets one again

:: how i love catching up with my good friends on the phone when we haven’t had a chance to visit in a while. as i hung up after talking with ashley, the call length was flashing 01:40:22  and i thought what a Wonderful Thing it was to have spent the last hour and forty minutes hearing about her little growing family and how she is being blessed and being a blessing.

…and hopefully next time, there will be pictures!

simplicity

i am awake. and i am pretty excited. excited enough to drag myself out of bed and blog. and as usual when writing under the introspection category, it is more to align my thoughts than anything else. i just had a serious a-ha moment and a huge spiritual first (for me).

i can’t do it alone.

i’m not meant to do it alone.

and i am elated by this.

backing up: i was talking with anastasia tonight about a parenting book, don’t make me count to three (thanks, yet again, kate). the premise of the book is to parent to reach the heart of your child, not just change their behavior. to reach their heart, you use scripture because God’s word will not return void. it isn’t about controlling, but about teaching my kids to know God’s word and allowing it to transform them as individuals under his authority. over and over again in her examples the author uses scripture to confront behavioral issues in her kids. the Type-A part of my personality gets a little panicky and short of breath thinking of all the scripture i need to cram to be able pull it out at a moment’s notice. lying in bed a few minutes ago i started thinking of the discipleship class i just started and how i will be the only one there who hasn’t done my “homework” but i’m really wanting to start memorizing the scriptures this parenting book gives and how i won’t be able to do it all and…

while thinking of this i thought how overwhelming don’t make me count to three would be for a new christian, but it really does get to the heart of parenting and i wouldn’t want anyone to discount it. so i would probably just counsel a new christian mom to ask the holy spirit to guide her when it came to remembering the scriptures she needs. because of course, that is part of why he is given to christians and i totally could visualize him showing up in this way for a young mom trying to teach her children. but as an older christian i should just know all this and not need the holy spirit to help me…?? stop. what?

and then (seriously, this is my thought process, don’t judge me!) it hit me and took my breath away: i always talk about God doing things bigger than i am and needing him, but i’ve never had a situation where i’ve believed it or absolutely had to live it. i’ve always handed it over then taken it back and dealt with it myself. until now. i can’t deal with this myself. Parenting is way bigger than i am and i cannot do it alone. and joy of joys, i’m not meant to. and for the first time in my life (seriously, now), i am up against something i k.n.o.w. i cannot do on my own.

praise God!

lucky student

this past weekend was really stellar. i mean, one of those times that just sparkels in your memory and you know it is a golden time that your heart will revisit again and again. or, as one friend told me, it is just like what i wanted my grown-up life to be like when i was a little girl.

of course, it involved the beach. and friends. and food. and really, just perfect weather. i know i talk alot about my friends, but i feel that i have been so blessed to have such wonderful life friends. the girls i spent time with have been my friends for years, the shortest relationship being one of my roommates from college. these are the women who have permission to walk around in my soul. the women who, when i come home to my husband, he’s glad i’ve spent time with them. the women who encourage me to be more than i am, not just with their words of encouragement, but by their very being. and the women who, whether they know it or not, make a Christ-like impression on my heart. i want to be more like each one of them, because each of them, in their own way, models Christ to me.

cara and christie have so allowed God to expand their families that when we are together, i feel like the two little ones i add are almost entirely negligible in the beautiful madness. yet they manage to have an overflowing love for each child. and their husbands are: simply. amazing. there are times when i just sit back and watch, maybe even with a little envy, as they are a seamless part of each other in corralling their families or taking care of a hurt, with very few words spoken to each other. they just know what is needed and do it. it’s holy and awesome.

anastasia is fabulous in dealing with the chaos that is family. watching her do what needs to be done and then following through with three little whirlwinds is impressive. i have learned so much about being a gracious mother from her, although she wouldn’t admit it. she is also the one who is always considering what is means to be a godly wife and implementing it in her daily life and speech. her words constantly remind me that i am jimmy’s helpmeet and lover and friend, and not his Holy Spirit. and if i am honest, there are times when her accountability keeps my mouth shut more than my desire to be holy. but maybe that is part of the way it is supposed to be.

i just know that right now, this is where i am supposed to be: learning from these beautiful teachers.

this picture of cara’s daughter, anna, sums up the day

over-thinking pollyanna

i’m sitting at the table in my best friend’s kitchen, helping myself to leftovers from her fridge while she naps upstairs with jameson. i just sent her daughter outside to play after letting her out of “time-out” and mercy is on the couch, playing her way through her naptime. why is it so much more enjoyable to clean my friend’s kitchen than my own? and so much easier to discipline her children than my own? and jameson would nev-ver (let me repeat, neeeeeeeeever) lay down for a nap with me without starting the battle of armageddon first. but did i hear a peep out of him as she carried him upstairs and put him to bed? nope, nary a sniffle or a kick.

this is the kind of overlap my heart yearns for. being able to sit down for a conversation instead of one (or both) of us holding the phone on our ear with our shoulder (which, with these ridiculously shrinking cell phones gets harder every time i get a new one), managing a whiny kid on one side, refereeing a water fight on the other, helping someone find the elmo that has disappeared in the wreckage of morning play, all while trying to drive in a straight line…the grocery cart, not the car, people!

so this past week, we have had the time to sit in her kitchen and living room and have real dialogue and i can’t remember how many cups of coffee. of course, we’re still dealing with all of the stuff above, minus the cricks in our necks, but we’re doing it together, and we’re face to face, and we aren’t having to rush through conversations so we can get it all in before someone on one side has a meltdown that has to be addressed. and we have been able to let our conversation spill out and flow where it will. so much so that we were talking about pollyanna and how dialogue-driven the movie is; she has to stop every so often and ask her kids if they understand what is going on. of course, it was made for a different generation of kids who were excited to see a movie and didn’t need the “bells and whistles” of special effects and exploding cars, buildings, airplanes. and, her kids, really, are only six and four, so she can’t expect them, necessarily, to understand everything in the movie. and then we realized that we were probably thinking about it a little too much. but it is a luxury i am glad we shared.

the Farm, anyone?

alright – i was meant to live in a commune. it’s true. i first started thinking this when our friends lived with us when i was pregnant with jameson. mindy and i shared the cooking (a side note – i’m sure community-living works better when good, or at least decent, cooks are involved) and the cleaning (ok, another side note – clean people probably work better together, too) and, when jimmy and i had a hot date, she flat-ironed my hair. this was my first thought that community-living might not be such a bad idea. i mean, i don’t have the patience to flat-iron my own hair, and what man is going to do it?

this week, jimmy and i stayed on campus at fcc for a few days and i got to spend some wonderful time with anastasia and was reminded of this idea. i mean, the men are out all day hunting and gathering while the women take care of the home and kids, and how much more fun is it to do that work together? in fact, it was pretty fabulous.

this excerpt is taken from a paper by a girl who grew up on “the Farm,” a commune in summertown, tennessee.

Within the interviews I conducted with former Farm members, similar ideals were expressed when I asked “why did you decide to reject the status quo and  join  a commune?” Here are some of the replies:

  • We wanted to see what we could do;
  • To learn how to live together as self-sufficiently as possible;
  • We wanted to work together in a caring environment;
  • We wanted to escape the capitalistic greed and hypocrisy;
  • We wanted to create a lifestyle that would be fair to raise our kids;
  • To get away from the city and take care of ones self;
  • To learn how to live together in a spirit of honesty and compassion, to raise sane healthy children, to live as self- sufficiently as possible.

so, i know my time with anastasia was a little too utopian because it was short enough to ignore some of the day-to-day business that would normally need to be taken care of, but, here is the beginning of my perfect commune

:: kids – derek is in charge of nursery (we don’t call him the baby whisperer for nothing), jen does pre-school, anastasia does elementary, i take care of high school and art. dave teaches theology and logic, jake teaches shop, jimmy teaches all the miscellaneous handy-man stuff he is so good at

:: jen oversees the garden, with ashley helping and researching new ways to grow things and keep the bugs off (my main deterrent to gardening – i’ll stick with the herbs and the canning, thank you!)

:: ashley is the financial wizard that keeps our home running smoothly, and chief baker, while i oversee the rest of the kitchen

:: i think jen and anastasia would be the shoppers…they have all that coupon madness figured out. and, all the money they save can go towards missions and adoptions.

:: the guys, of course, could stay in their respective jobs as they like.

:: the goal of our community would be to practice pure religion as outlined in james 1:27 –  pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

ok, while i’m living in my own, fantasy world, i think it would be great to run a bed and breakfast for extra income. and we could throw in a starbuck’s, too. that should make you want to join. let me know where you’d fit…

overflowing

Christmas day jimmy and i were driving to our family dinner  and i was pretty mellow, just enjoying the ride. at one point, he looked over at me and said, “you’re sitting there thinking about how much you love your life and your family aren’t you?” and i sheepishly smiled and said, “yes.” (and of course i was happy, he got the sony reader for me for Christmas!) since then, i’ve been thinking how i’ve got some pretty fabulous friends. so, here we go…

:: i adore my friend who said the other day, “i love the name ‘mercy’ but i couldn’t name any of our children that…it would be too weird to have two in the same family.” (i’m an only child and i love that she unintentionally includes me in her family)

:: i love my friend who knows me well enough to walk in my house and start dinner for us when i am  just leaving the pediatrician’s office to come home. and her husband who goes out at 11:30 at night when there is already ice on the cars to do the “chores” with my husband after a late meeting

:: i’m grateful for my friend who looked me in the eye this weekend and told me all God expects is for me to be who he made me to be, and for his sweet wife, my other friend, who was holding my hand while i cried

:: i love all of my friends who continually thank my husband for being my husband and taking care of me

:: and then there the most amazing friend of all, who tells me at least once a week, “why don’t you just go up to starbuck’s tonight and i’ll stay home with the kids”

:: i love my friends with whom i’ve had a falling out for one reason or another…but over time and by the grace of God we allow each other back into our hearts and confidences

:: i absolutely LOVE it when we have girls’ night on the porch

:: and i love my friend who, every time her husband says, “that’s what she said” replies, “no, she wouldn’t say that”

and that is all for now…i’m off to make baby food.