Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Charlie Brown - Revisited

Yes, I AM a teacher by nature and "profession", and I do often feel like my children (and others) hear, "Wah, Wah, Wah" when I speak...but there is more to the title of this blog than that. I thought you might enjoy hearing "the rest of the story". *said like Paul Harvey*

My children have spent the last 6 or 7 years watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on long car trips -repeatedly. It didn't matter if it was summer. It didn't matter if they had already watched it twice that day. It was their FAVORITE show and they could always agree on it.
Since our family recites lines from movies and shows regularly, you can only imagine how many of our habitual sayings come from this well-known special.
When my youngest was 5, he would say, "Don't you understand sarcasm when you hear it?" (a quote from the first 5 minutes of the cartoon)
He definitely understood it - thanks to Charlie Brown (and a lot of help from Mom and Dad.)

Clay had an imaginary friend when he was little.
Can you guess his name? Yep, Charlie Brown.
This fact absolutely Cracks. Me. Up.
(It actually makes complete sense. My husband has the creative mind necessary to concoct an entire personality for someone who doesn't actually exist.)
His parents have shared a number of humorous childhood stories involving dear old Charlie Brown.
I love his creative mind...and that even his childhood was funny.

There is a 1967 musical called, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown."
I've never seen it...but for some reason the title has always stuck in my head.
My husband is a good man.
I often tell him this...but since everything around here tends to get wrapped in an unusual package - I will sometimes say, "You're a Good Man - Charlie Brown."
He knows when I yell, "Hey Charlie!" across the house, that it means I am proud.
I'm not neglecting to call him by his given name to be a punk (most of the time), I'm merely using code to tell him how much I love him.
And no, I don't try to teach him ANYTHING...I let God take care of that. (It's hard enough trying to teach his imaginative, and often distracted, offspring.)

Now you know.
Hope it made you smile too.

*photo found on Google images

Monday, February 27, 2012

What If I Don't Want To Be Strong?

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
  Philippians 4:13

I pull this verse out of the arsenal when my boys are struggling with confidence. I hand it to them to use as a weapon against self-doubt. I also chant it to myself when I am determined to conquer or to overcome. 

Today, I read the words for the umpteenth time and realized that I've not been using them to their full potential. Sure, I recall them when I need help doing some things, but the verse says I can have strength in ALL things.
Hmmmm....What about the moments when I don't WANT to get Christ involved because I want MY way? Maybe this verse is meant for those things too...

No, no, I'm not claiming that 'through Christ who strengthens me', I can get my way. (Just THINK of the damage I could cause if it worked that way. *wince*)
On the contrary...
I think Christ wants to give us strength to do those things that we are not naturally motivated to do. He wants to show Himself by strengthening us in supernatural ways.

When I would rather stomp my feet, cross my arms and hold my breath until my expectations are met...Christ can strengthen me - even when I don't WANT to be strong.
Since I won't want to turn to God and ask for help when I'm emotionally charged, I am stopping to pray right now (while I still remember what truth and health and love are SUPPOSED to look like) - and I'm asking for Him to provide HIS strength to me later.

I'm praying now... for strength when I want to guilt my children into obedience rather than lovingly educate them. I pray that Christ fills me with love and compassion for their immature little hearts rather than self-pity or anger when they disobey.

I'm praying now...that I hold my tongue when my husband parents our children in his own manly way (rather than the motherly way I prefer). I pray that Christ fills me with grace and the knowledge that God CHOSE this man to parent our little boys alongside me...and that He silences my self-righteous, sappy mom mentality.

I pray now...to thrill at my husbands touch when he comes home, that energy jolts through me like it did when we were dating - because later, it will have been a LONG day and I know I will be too tired (on my own) to show him the love he deserves.

I pray now, that I go against what my culture tells me is JUSTIFIED and choose to love the unlovely. When that "In-law" makes the critical comment and I want to be defensive, when that other mother makes a snide remark, when the stranger cuts me off in traffic...Lord, help me FEEL love for them. Help me to see THEIR pain and YOUR perspective...and not dwell in my own.

In the calm, we often know the promises of God. We know that His plans are better than ours. We know that our purpose is Love and that out lives are not about our own comfort. But later, in the chaos, we may choose to let fear, anger, or self-pity muffle that voice of truth.
So, let's be proactive.
Let's pray NOW that Christ does through us what we can't naturally do on our own. Let's pray that we can supernaturally do ALL things.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Homeschool Mom Randomness *sigh*

Tongue planted firmly in cheek (most of the time), I ponder our homeschool "situation"...

  • Is it bad that my boys can read a recipe like no other elementary school boy that I know? Maybe cravings for cookies, or brownies, or meatballs for lunch have overtaken me a few too many times as I've shouted, "To the kitchen boys! Time to follow some directions and get some fractions figured out - double that recipe!" (My tight pants definitely say I may have said this statement a few too many times.) *sigh*
  • I bet I lose my temper in front of my students more often than "normal" teachers do. If THESE kids grow up to be delinquents, that means that MY KIDS grow up to be delinquents...and if that happens, who will I be able to blame? No one! (Of course, if they learn that it's OK to lose their temper under pressure, I may not have anyone else to blame either...) *sigh*
  • The students in my class HIT each other on occasion. A "regular" school would NEVER continue teaching children who delve out bodily harm to classmates. Sure, the school might tolerate one or two fights before they kick a kid to the curb, but MY students have had WAY more than two altercations in the last six months since school began. Shoot, they've rolled around on the ground until someone cried at least twice in the last few WEEKS. *sigh*
  • Who's going to make fun of my youngest son and let him know that it is not "acceptable" to wear holey, high-water pants with a mismatched shirt (especially if he hasn't bothered to comb his hair for few days)? I've told him. I've even poked fun at him for it. He just laughs along with me. He has no shame. I think he inherited a shame-deflecting shield from his father, but even his father has bent to the will of society and wears clothes that fit - and mostly match. Am I DEPRIVING my child of the "benefits" that a good mocking can bring? *sigh*
  • Today, my oldest son wanted to UNDERSTAND what happens when a fraction is multiplied by another fraction. Memorizing the process (like I did as a child) wasn't going to cut it. What? But that's HARDER TO EXPLAIN. I had to unknot my brain and search the internet for half an hour to give him a satisfactory answer. If 5th grade math is becoming difficult, 8th grade should be interesting. *sigh*
  • My boys are"soft". They never have to wait for the bus in zero degree weather at 7:00 in the morning. They stretch, yawn, leisurely eat breakfast in their pajamas, play some yo-yo, get dressed for the day - and then curl up on the warm couch to be educated at 8:30 a.m.. There is no rushing, no hurried packing of lunches or signing of papers. There just aren't those tense moments each morning to "toughen them up" and help them deal with the harsh realities of life. The real world may be a very rude awakening when they eventually have to face it. *sigh*
Holey, high-waters Batman! It's quite the situation over here in this homeschool household.
Good thing these perhaps-not-completely-irrational-fears are all humorous enough to laugh away.
I may furrow my brow on occasion, but then I stop and thank God for those questioning moments that help me depend on Him (and they may even give Him a good laugh.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

OH Canada

"I officially hate Canadians."
Yep, that's what Clay said as he reached the bottom of the mountain after their first attempt at skiing down.
You see, he had wanted to take our littlest man down a "nice, easy run" since he hadn't been skiing for a few years - so Clay humbled himself and stopped to ask directions. Unfortunately, they got sent toward a more "challenging" hill than they had bargained for.
It was an interesting trip down (our munchkin seeing sky, then ground, then sky, then ground).
We weren't even IN Canada yet, but since it was a Canadian ski patrolman who did the pointing and guiding - the whole country to the north of us got the blame.

My chiropractor "forbid" me to go skiing due to a few disk bulges I have in my back.
So, I took pictures throughout the day (and tried not to be too jealous).

The munchkin soon got his "ski legs" and kept up with the other two just fine.
No worries, the Canadians didn't stay on Clay's hit-list for long.
We made it to Montreal and Clay decided that an entire nation should not be condemned by the poor decision of one man. (He's gracious that way.)

It was neat to be greeted in French (and a relief when they switched abruptly to English as we said, "Hello.")
It was educational to drive around town and explore the local "Super Market".
It was exciting as my boys had room service for the very first time. They even brought us a TABLE.

Like the room service incident, my most memorable moments of this trip had little to do with experiencing a new country. Giggles with the family are what make our trips memorable.
For me, this trip was all about the car ride.

We like to make up stories when we are stuck in a car. One person starts and we each add a part when it is our turn. (If it starts to get boring, someone ALWAYS interjects, "And then...out came a BEAR!")

The story on this particular trip was started by our youngest son. It was all about "a girl named Jenny". By the time it was finished, Clay and I added Jenny's friend. This friend had braces on his legs when he was young, but ran all the way across America. He also joined the army and got shot in the derriere. Eventually, he even became an international ping-pong champion. We never actually named the character, but we did name his other friend, Bubba (who LOVED shrimp) and Lieutenant Dan (who lost his legs during the war).

We were cracking each other up...and our children were clueless.
Our 11-year-old finally glared and asked, "Where are all these characters coming from? You think this story is WAY funnier than it actually is."
He's getting too smart.
We confessed that we stole from the movie Forrest Gump...but until he gets older and actually watches it, Clay and I will have our fun.

Another humorous aspect of the car ride, was my limited visibility. We traveled in rain and snow for different stretches of the trip. Clay had sprayed Rain-X on HIS SIDE of the front window - and used a rag to wipe the excess over to my side of the window. (Just in case you were wondering, this method does NOT WORK.)
Clay doesn't like to use windshield wipers, so I spent much of the trip looking through a window that looked like this:

Clay's view, on the other hand, looked like this:

 He could see the snow sticking to each individual branch on the trees.
It took quite a while for me to capture a picture of my blurry view. Once I finally decided to get out my camera, Clay would turn on the windshield wipers and clean up the window. He snickered each time that he foiled my efforts to record my hazy predicament. (At least his ornery actions allowed me to SEE patches of the trip.)

Normally, the car ride is the part of traveling that I dread the most; but this trip, it was the part I chose to remember. It's amazing what a little laughter can do to the most mundane circumstances.

Thank you Lord for laughter...help us to find it in every situation.

Friday, February 17, 2012

"The Little Things" About Schnook

We call our youngest Schnook. It fits him.
From the time he was born, people would stop me in the store to comment about my happy, handsome baby boy...and they'd always add, "He's ornery, isn't he?"
One woman called it a "twinkle in his eye."
I like that terminology best. His Dad has that same twinkle. I hope neither of them ever lose it.

This list is so I never forget the twinkle (even when I'm dealing with the ornery results).
I'm recording what I love about my 9-year-old before I blink, and he turns 19.

- He sleeps horizontal in his bed.
- He would prefer to hang upside-down in a chair than sit in it properly.
- He runs across the house to kiss me good-bye, even if I'm just going for a walk.
- He is passionate. He stands up for his principles.
- He LOVES surprises (giving them - and getting them).
- He loves to cook and work on motors. He'd do just about anything that included interacting with a parent while using his hands.
- He has been singing and musical since before he could talk. He would hum himself to sleep as a baby, and (for years) he has sat in my lap to listen to my heart. (He occasionally makes up a melody to go along with the beat.)
- He plops himself down on top of  family members (or shoved up against them) no matter how much space is available to spread out next to them. He wants to be CLOSE.
- He talks to his fish and treats them like some of his best friends. He takes his responsibility to feed them VERY seriously and really hurts when one dies. He such a little care-giver.
- He plays with babies and children much smaller than him. He stands up for others and plays with the "weird" kids. He sees ALL people as having value.
- He would sleep in his brother's room every night - if brother would let him.
- He draws a crowd wherever he goes. He is athletic, funny, sensitive, and outgoing.
- He doesn't see himself as a leader, but he IS one.
- He will try anything with an open mind (and without fear). He loves to EXPERIENCE life at high speed.
- His hair is shiny - like a halo, which is good because some days I need reminded how heavenly it is to be his mother.
- He is 9-years-old and still calls me "Mama".

I know this is the list that will probably change the MOST in the next few years.
I can't wait to see how this little ball of energy matures and grows into a big ball of energy.
Lord, help him use his risk-taking, smile-making, crowd-pleasing personality always for your glory.
Thank you so much for enriching my life with such different personalities.
Help me to learn from each of them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"The Little Things" About Bubby

We don't actually call him Bubby anymore.
Buddy? Yes.
Handsome? Of course!
Sometimes I call him Frank (I have no idea why), but Bubby was the very first nickname ever given to our oldest little blessing.
This is the "short list" of the things that I love about him - 11 years later.

- He has a mind (and vocabulary) that catches others off-guard. He often asks questions that seem advanced for his years (and I often don't know the answers either.)
- He is considerate and not crude (most of the time - he is still a boy, after all).
- His hair has the perfect little wave to it that flips at his neck and around his ears.
- He has a thankful heart...and he shares that appreciation verbally.
- He is self-motivated. Music, sports, yo-yos, books...whatever is on his radar at the moment becomes a bit of an obsession. He is DRIVEN to learn all there is to know about a subject, so he can excel.
- He beat-boxes all day long. When he plays guitar, when he rides in the car, when he does math...he is always "dropping a beat." His mouth is a musical instrument that he never has to put away (except when the closest adult gives the evil eye).
- He appreciates clever humor...and is good at manufacturing it.
- He has the mind of an engineer - always asking, "How does it work? How can it be improved? What NEW thing can I invent?"
- His emotions run deep and they run strong. He hates that his eyes tear up when he's frustrated, but it is beautiful to watch them tear when he is impacted in some way by God.
- He CHOOSES to get back up when his emotions yell, "STAY DOWN!" I know God plans to use this strength in HUGE ways.
- He talks in his sleep - loudly.
- He laughs at himself even though it's not his natural tendency. His mind knows there is health in laughter even when his pride wants to be angry or embarrassed.
- He still kisses his mom...even if a friend "might see".
- He tries very hard to be humble, and he thanks God for his abilities. I praise God for that.

This is not a list of "why" I love my son. I love him simply because he IS.
This is a list of the blessings I get to experience because of who he has chosen to be.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The "Little Things" About Clay

I want to acknowledge EVERY effort that my husband makes toward me.
I don't want to give apathy or division a chance to attack our marriage. Ever.
Here are some of the things I want to appreciate on a daily basis - not just when Hallmark tells me I should.

- He brings me coffee (with cream and sugar) each morning that he is home.
- He plays...with the kids, with his coworkers, with his friends. He brings energy and laughter to any atmosphere.
- He flirts with me. Often.
- He moves the furniture to sweep under it when he runs the vacuum!
- He cooks pancakes nearly every Saturday for our little boys.
- He puts toothpaste on my toothbrush for me if he knows I'm going to brush my teeth when he already has the toothpaste out for himself.
- He is authentic. If he'd make a sex joke at work, then he'd tell the same joke at church. (Always saying, "It's ALLOWED, we're MARRIED!")
- He's handy (and smart). He can fix things and build things and figure out solutions in a jiffy.
- He calls me from the speaker phone at work to ask me awkward questions in front of his coworkers. It can be a bit embarrassing at times, but it shows me that he is proud of me, enjoys my humor  -  and thinks of me even when I'm not with him.
- He is a grilling machine! I can't order a steak in a restaurant anymore because it won't measure up to the ones he makes at home.
- He calls me when he is on his way home from work so I know when to expect him.
- He lets me rest each night as he prays (and wrestles) with our children.
- He keeps the garage clean enough that we can fit both cars in it.
- I ask him daily to tell me something funny...and he does.
- He is an incredible father. Very active. Very loving. A man of character.
- I enjoy the sound of his heartbeat. It's such a good heart.
- He helps this Type-A, high expectation personality realize that there is air in this world...and that  I am allowed to sit back on occasion and BREATHE IT IN.

I could go on...but I think you get the picture.
If you ever hear me complaining about my "perfect-for-me" man, please point me back to here (and tell me to stuff a sock in it).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Little Things

Can you tell I've been strolling Memory Lane lately?
Can't get enough of these old photos!
I went to a baby shower and couldn't help but think about how quickly my "babies" are growing up. So, I stopped to write down some of the "little" things I love...before they get any bigger.
  • listening to them breathe during quiet morning snuggles
  • the look they get when they are trying to figure out if I'm "pulling their leg"
  • squeals and giggles coming from the bottom of the pile during a whole-house wrestling match
  • "aha" moments which remind me to see the world with fresh amazement
  • the way their hair sticks up "just so" first thing in the morning...and sometimes still at lunchtime
  • their not-quite-big shoes lined up next to the back door
  • pictures drawn on fogged up car windows
  • how the words "ice cream" cause their faces to light up
  • their innocence, their questions, their sincere love
I don't want to take the little things for granted at any stage that my family passes through.
In fact, I've decided to take this week to post a small series on this subject. The next few blogs should be fun. If you don't know my family, you soon will. I plan to write down the "little things" I love about each one of them (at this exact moment in their existence)...because those little things can really make a very big difference.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Parenting Dilemma

When the boys were young, they got in trouble and had to stand in the corner.
They both went to the same corner - so sweet and innocent "back in the day".

Today I've been trying to wrap my head around this whole "parenting" thing.
I'm SURE I'll have it figured out by dinnertime. (HA!)

I fear that I have been "erring on the side of grace" a bit too often lately.
"They are just distracted."
"They didn't mean to be disrespectful."
"It's been a hard day."

In actuality, the issue is that...Mom has been a "sucker".
Those sweet little boys know that they can be a bit sour lately - and get away with it. 

Things need to change. I'm just trying to figure out what "change" is supposed to look like.
Military-style Mom? Probably...but I want to educate them on WHY their lives are about to turn upside-down. I don't want them to stand at attention and clean the mess hall with their toothbrushes just because Mom got fed up and "Can't take it any more!" (even if that IS part of it).

Childhood is a good time to learn that life gets very difficult when we make unwise choices.
It is a lesson we all need to comprehend...and I want my boys to learn it while the consequences are "elementary school severe" and not "lose your family and your job severe".

Proverbs 2:11
"Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you."
Proverbs 1:32
"For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm."

So I need to educate my children by disciplining their sinful behavior, BUT I also want them to experience the love that exists in GRACE.
I want them to understand that they do not have to live "perfect" lives.
While their ears still listen to me almost half of the time, and while they still have a safe landing to fall on at home...I want them to realize that they WILL fall - and that when they do, they can get back up and hold their heads high.
I want them to understand that they have inherent value...even when they disobey.

This parental equation is more than: disobedience + consequence = wisdom.
So much of the result has to do with me (the parent).
The attitude I hold while responding to the unwise choices of my children is always factored in as well. *sigh...I KNEW it would come to this. Mom gets to learn a lesson too.*

If my boys see me loving them while showing them the wiser path,
if they see me responding with compassion while handing them correction,
they may just learn the lessons of Love and Grace while trudging through the consequences.
(That's quite a different message than they receive when my eyes turn red with anger and veins pop out of my neck because MY feelings are hurt.)
When correction happens in a way that points our children to God (and helps them see value and beauty in choosing wisdom), that is where success lies.

Well, I guess I didn't need to reinvent the parenting wheel today.
I've known all along how to get to health. I just have to ACT on it...even when it's not easy.

Get ready boys, Mama's found the "straight and narrow" and I'm planning to have you walking right beside me - with military precision. But don't worry, I'll help you up when you get out of step and fall (even if you land on my toes).

I feel much better. I have a plan.
I just needed to see things with the right set of eyes...and it didn't take until dinnertime after all.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pink and Blue

A sister of two brothers, I learned early in life that taking a punch without flinching earned me more respect than frills and bows would.
In that childhood world, pink was a color saved for sissy little girls - and I was NO sissy.
So, I spent years despising everything pink.

Somewhere after college I discovered that being a "sissy little girl" could have its advantages in the right situations - and I embraced never again having to lift heavy objects if there was a guy nearby to sucker into lifting them for me "save me".
I began to warm to the idea of being "softer" while still being strong in my own way.

When God blessed me with boys, I wasn't just open to the softer side of things, I began to CRAVE them...and in the midst of it, I found myself drawn to all things pink.
Pink is feminine. It is foreign to what is "normal" around here. It is distinctly "Mom".
I like it.

I've been reading Love and Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs.
It's a book worth reading if you ever have to interact with someone of the opposite sex. (spouse, sibling, child, neighbor...) It's given me some giggles and some new insight.

The book suggests that boys (and their Y chromosomes) hear with blue earphones, speak with blue megaphones and see through blue glasses. On the other hand, a gal (blessed with two X chromosomes) interacts and interprets the world while hearing, seeing and speaking pink.
These different perspectives make for some interesting misunderstandings.
Neither gender is WRONG, they are just very different.

This is Evan's "figuring something out face". He needs it a lot when I speak. It cracks me up.

In my house, the pink/blue confusion can look something like this:

Pink says, "The boys are GONE tonight! Let's pick up some tacos and watch movies on the couch."
Blue hears, "You don't have to shower today because we aren't going anywhere!"

Pink says, "Please clean your rooms."
Little blue ears hear, "Quickly hide the mess so Mom will let you play video games."

I have a lot of fun thinking about this pink/blue paradigm.
I know I can sound like Charlie Brown's teacher to the blue listeners in my home, but my new perspective has helped me laugh about it. I have been trusting that my family isn't purposefully TRYING to stomp on my expectations. (And I've been claiming the reality that my desires may not even be on their radars.)

No worries. I plan to become bilingual someday. I plan to speak blue, or at least understand it when I step back and REALLY listen. And in the meantime, I plan to put funny words in their mouths and blog about them (with their permission) until I get the actual translations all figured out.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Screams from the Dining Room Table

Our faithful leader is sitting in the dining room - doing taxes.
My mild-mannered husband is grumbling and furrowing his brow.
He keeps exclaiming, "You're kiddin' me!" at random intervals.

The latest rant is about claiming our tax refund for last year as income from this year.
"It's the money that the government TOOK from us that we didn't want them to take...and that they KEPT from us all year. The money that we ALREADY CLAIMED AS INCOME AND WERE ALREADY TAXED ON."
*Emphasis is Clay's* :)

He keeps muttering about wanting to punch someone.

I don't blame him really, but I still keep giggling to myself.
It's so funny to see him this way.
He knows I'm laughing at him too...but he doesn't seem to mind.
I think my snickers help him keep perspective. (There's that word again.)
He even chuckles back at me on occasion.

"There's nothing we can do about it...why get so mad?" I chime in.
More forcefully, he responds, "We CAN do something. We can VOTE. We MUST vote."
(and then he smiles)

I love this man. I appreciate his conservative, political mind.
I respect that he stands FIRM on what he believes...and that he is a man of action.
(And I'm especially glad that this "darker side" is reserved for his political soapbox and doesn't get aimed at me or the kids.)

If you are shaking your fist at the government this month and need a shoulder to cry on, come on over to our house - but ask to speak with Clay. I would TRY to sympathize (really, I would), but if you look deep into my eyes...I'm afraid you might just get a glimpse of my smile.