Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jealousy Ain't So Bad...

Hi, I'm Becky Rassi...and I'm a jealous wife.
Some people might think I should be in a 12 step program.
Yep, I'm THAT jealous.
Luckily, my husband isn't one of those it works out.

The thing is, I think being 'jealous' has gotten a bit of a bad reputation.
Let me explain: I see myself  like God in this area.
*Sorry if you just spit your drink across the room.*

I'm not saying I'm like God in ALL areas, I'm just saying that my a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:18)
He wants me to serve NOBODY else - just Him.
This makes COMPLETE sense to me.
I understand how God could get irritated if I started treating other things, like money or my family, as more important than Him. I mean, He MADE me - that's a pretty big deal (and only the TIP of the iceberg of reasons why He deserves my utter devotion.)

So, if God is allowed to be jealous and since He DOESN'T SIN, then I think it's possible for me to be jealous for my husband and NOT SIN. (I'm not talking about insecure jealousy where a wife questions her husband's integrity and jumps to conclusions any time he talks with another woman. I'm pretty sure THAT is sin.)
I'm simply writing about the jealousy that causes protective marital walls to surround a marriage. I want my husband to be on his guard. I want him to avoid being alone with another woman. I want him to be aware of other women  - and that they will WANT him because he is so fabulously hilarious and cute and helpful.
I want him alert. After all, the devil is prowling around like a lonely woman roaring lion seeking whom he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

My claws come out when I stand next to my husband and a woman speaks to him without bothering to acknowledge me in any way. I'm that territorial. A woman must approach my husband with a deferential posture. She must be friendly to ME if she wants me to happily allow her to have access to my man. I need to know her intentions. (I am the dominate female after all. My position MUST be respected.)

Sound arrogant? It's not, just ask me.
I would TOTALLY do the same for any other woman. If I must speak to someone's husband, I prefer to get to know his wife first so I can let her know (with my friendly smile and eye contact) that I appreciate her marriage and her role in his life. I want to let her know that I just need some information before I scoot back to my own place: next to MY man.

I actually think our society isn't jealous enough.
Husbands and wives should be on their guards. (Oh yes, this is a two-way street, Clay expects me to have my guard up and doesn't want me rubbing shoulders, or elbows - or any other body part - with other men if it can be avoided.)

Go ahead, tell me we're crazy...and I will tell you that you're right.
We're CRAZY in love (after almost 14 years.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Turd-le?

In my life this week...
"Mom, look what we found crawling across the neighbor's driveway! Can I keep it?"

Do all Moms sigh when they hear that kind of exclamation, or is it just me?
I've been looking for a way to inspire my 3rd grader to WANT to research and learn.
Crud. I think I found it.
Stalling, I replied, "First we have to identify him, learn about his natural habitat, and see if we have what it takes to properly care for him."

We found a handy little website where we could identify our turtle by its shell. The results said that we found an Alabama map turtle. The Alabama part threw us off a bit since we live in Indiana and the "zone" this turtle lives in was a bit south of us. Needless-to-say, we questioned our results. Luckily, they had an email address listed and ENCOURAGED us to send photos so they could help identify our little friend.

While we waited for an email response, my little man named his new friend and fed him some carrot. (All the small turtles we researched had carrots listed as potential food so we tried some out.) We have a friend named Corey Tuttle, so at first he named his new buddy Corey Turtle...but then he changed his mind and started calling him TD. This name was short for TurDle. He is aware that the word turtle does not have a D in it, but that is how HE pronounces it, because he is nine - and everything is funnier when a turd is involved.

We were discussing whether or not I should post an urgent facebook plea: We need a large aquarium and a heat lamp for new family member. "Can anyone help a sister out?"

And then it happened...we got our email back:
Dear Becky,

This is a baby map turtle. I would try to explain to your son that the best thing for this turtle would be to be released back home in a nice, safe place. Then, it can grow up healthy and keep the local turtle population going. Most captive turtles do not survive long.
This little guy should go back home...where he belongs.

Best wishes,
Andy Highfield

I think there is a little part of me that loves Andy Highfield.
You see, in our research we learned that map turtles can live about 30 years.
Of course, in captivity, they don't often they die much sooner due to lack of proper care. Hmm, that doesn't sound much better.
As I felt the weight of "pet responsibility" looming and was processing our need to buy special equipment and dead flies or fish turtle food, the response from our trusty tortoise expert brought hope. (read: this could be a way OUT)
My son, with his 9-year-old-bleeding-heart, decided to let TD flourish in his natural habitat. We had a little ceremony and let him back into the wild - and I let out a very different kind of sigh.

This post is linked up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap Up and Homeschool Mother's Journal

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Gift That Keeps Bugging Me

A few years ago, I received a necklace with a widow's mite pendant dangling from it.
In case you aren't familiar with a widow's mite, there is a story in the Bible about a widow who gave 2 small coins as her offering to God - mere mites. (Mark 12:41-44)
Jesus explained to His disciples that this widow had given more with her mites than the richest man had given that day...because she had given all she had.

My necklace came from a homeschool curriculum company with a note explaining how I gave "all" and sacrificed so much while homeschooling my children. It made me cry at the time. (read: SOMEBODY ACKNOWLEDGED MY EFFORT!)

Every time I see that necklace, I think about the sentiment behind the gift.
I gotta say, the sentiment has been bugging me a little lately.
I don't want to give all I have to my children.
I don't want my kids to see my life revolve around THEM.
I want them to see our family give all to Christ...even to the point of sacrifice.

We've been learning a lot about sacrifice lately while reading the Old Testament.
Leviticus, Numbers...sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice...blah blah,'s gotten a bit tedious.
And yet, it's made a point:
The Israelites were required to have a lifestyle of sacrifice. God was establishing a mindset, a pattern, the model of what life is supposed to be. Of course, this Old Testament process points to the New Testament and the ultimate sacrificial life that Christ led...and the life He has called us all to lead.

We often sacrifice for our kids (even though they aren't REALLY aware or appreciative of the sacrifices we make). We want the best for them and their success will benefit us in many ways.
But what other sacrifices are happening in my cozy home, with two cars in the garage and cupboards STOCKED with food?
What sacrifices are my kids witnessing in our lifestyle? What sacrifices are THEY required to make? (and I'm not talking about living lives without Ipod touches, because they definitely feel they have "sacrificed" in that area.)

I don't think there is anything wrong with homes, cars OR Ipod touches.
I'm just not sure that I've balanced our blessings with verses like Luke 3:11 that say:
"The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."
I've been given a LOT of tunics. I want my boys to realize how many "tunics" they have as well. I want to be aware of the needs of others as well as our own lack of need.
God may not call us to give all of our excess away - but I want to be willing...and I want my children to "get" that concept as well.

God, help us.
Please use this family - and our blessings. Please show us what it looks like - in this culture, in our neighborhood - to give ALL.

This post was included in the Homeschool Showcase over at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Thanks Kris! :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Highlights - Two Weeks

In my homeschool (and life, because they are essentially the same thing) over the past two weeks...
We went to Toledo, Ohio for a judo tournament.
(I already shared a few funny things I heard on the trip in another post.)
*Warning: proud Mama brag*
My oldest son earned 1st place in his judo division and my youngest won 2nd place in his. Woo hoo Boys!

So, we were heading out of town for judo and my littlest squirt REQUESTED that we take Fred with us. Who's Fred, you ask?

We recently broke down and bought the Life of Fred math curriculum to see what all the hype is about. Both boys are hooked. When my 9-year-old wants to take a math book on a Spring Break getaway...I might as well have discovered GOLD. I'm curious to see how long this lasts. (BTW: I'm enjoying the books too, but have been surprised at the number of grammatical errors that we have found. Oh well, at least it's not an English curriculum.)

To cram as much as we could into top off our weekend away, we visited the Toledo Museum of Art. Toledo (a.k.a. Glass City) has a building in its museum which is totally devoted to glass. It was fascinating to watch the glass blowing demonstrations.
*sidenote: They offer glass-blowing classes each weekend. If I lived closer, I would SO BE DOING THIS!

We hit the jackpot by going to the museum that particular weekend. Chamber Music winners from Bowling Green University performed trios, quartets, and quintets while we were there.

I think I might have been a little "high" by the time we left. (As a homeschool mom and an artist...I was on overload.) So much culture in one trip! Did I mention that it was all FREE?

Later that week, we celebrated Good Friday and Easter.
We made Resurrection rolls, opened up resurrection eggs (my son has a WONDERFUL Sunday School teacher who mailed them to us) and colored hot boiled eggs with crayons.

We talked about the life and death of Christ and the victory He provides. This season reminded me to be thankful that we homeschool. We get to focus on Christ everyday as we study our world. (Now I just need to MAKE SURE I'M CHOOSING TO DO THAT.)

After Easter, we killed about 5 rabbits.
*I'm singing Elmer Fudd in my head, "Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit..."*
For those of you opposed to killing bunnies, you can relax...they were all made of chocolate.

Aunt Kris always gets a little carried away at the annual Easter egg hunt and all children get a pile of chocolate confections bigger than their heads.
I forgot about this little tradition when I filled my boys' baskets and got them chocolate crosses. Can you say, "Chocolardiac Arrest"?

On Tuesday, a homeschool assignment was:
"What practical (and fun) things can we do with all this Easter candy?"

We (literally) hammered the large items until they were bits and pieces. (Don't worry, they still have enough miniature Twix candy bars and marshmallow peeps set aside to keep them bouncing off my walls for weeks.)
Someday soon, when we have company to SHARE with, we will dip marshmallows, pretzels, and strawberries into our mutilated bunnies leftover chocolate. Oh, AND we plan to make some of these :

(except we will add peppermint oil to our chocolate rather than use thin mints)

The final addition that Easter added to our homeschool this year, was the wood-burning kit that Boy #2 received in his Easter basket. He's artistic, but I think this would get ANY BOY interested in art.
"Here honey, come play with FIRE for school."

I'm almost finished with this little wrap-up, but don't want to leave out one last experience from our homeschool adventures.
My girlfriend has been trying to get our family to try "Eat Right For Your Blood Type". It's a list of foods that are supposed to be beneficial or harmful to a person based on their blood type. Whether or not we buy into this new way of eating, it has sparked a lot of interesting conversations. And like any respectable homeschool family, we had to discuss it, research it, and take it a step further (to create more expense and work for ourselves.) We went ahead and ordered Blood Type Test Kits.
Amazon has them for $11 with free shipping, but
since we ordered four, it was cheaper to get them here
Our boys now know their blood types. They know all about RH factors, blood type ratios and genetic possibilities. They also know that a tiny prick to their finger is not something to cry about...but it doesn't feel all that "good" either.

I'd say we snuck in quite a bit of education along with our Easter vacation.
It's those special moments that keep a teacher (and her students) pressing on during these last precious (long) weeks of the school year.

Keep blogging about your activities friends, so I can keep being inspired in mine.
Thanks for reading,

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top Ten: April "Showers"?

April Showers...
With soccer season in full stride and judo practices never stopping, there will definitely be LOADS of April showers in store for my two smelly little boys.
While others may assume April showers happen outdoors (with mud puddles and blooming flowers), all I can consider are the INDOOR April showers which bring interesting scenarios of their own:
  1. Outdoor rain showers mean that my indoor bathroom showers will be caked with mud (which doesn't always get properly washed off of little bodies...and sometimes ends up on my towels.) *note to self: make sure the boys use the DARK towels this year.* 
  2. A 'good side' to these frequent showers (perhaps the ONLY good side), is that my children are actually TAKING them. Without such constant involvement in sports, my boys just don't stink often enough. You see, unless they stink, I tend to forget to make them take showers (unless, of course, it's before Sunday church). Thank God, in so many ways, for Sunday church.
  3. Added bonus: Regular showers mean that they are also regularly changing their underwear. It's so hard for them to remember something like that otherwise...I'm told.
  4. With late night practices, our son who takes EXTREMELY LONG showers never seems to go to bed at his "normal" time. (I mean, he has to have a snack first too, right?)  Hmmm, do you think it's all part of his master plan? If so, I must find a way to foil his plans because it really cuts into my time of peace and quiet and no responsibility connection with my husband. 
  5. I do have one son who is out of the shower so quickly that I have to smell his head to see if he actually used shampoo. It's amazing how often he "forgets" that showers are to get CLEAN  and not just wet. *Oops, I kind of mentioned that already...with my whining observation about the dirty towels.*
  6. All this showering and sports playing causes a great increase in their laundry needs. I have their regular clothes AND their sports clothes to wash...and all that extra underwear. I might consider having them do their own laundry, but it's the ONE JOB in the house that practically does itself. It washes, it dries...and all I have to do is watch a TV show, listen to an audio book, or talk on the phone for an hour...and POOF, it's folded too.
  7. Laundry is especially a problem with all the RAIN we get in the month of April. We have a well...and those OTHER pesky showers involving water from the sky (and small rivers in my yard) cause our water to take on a new "spring smell." With spring in the description, you might think it's a good smell...well, think again.
  8. I also get a bit tired of daily nagging making asking my children go back into the bathroom and pick up their wet towels and stinky sports clothes. Don't they understand how hard it is on me to scold them that way? (And I'm sure not going to pick them up myself - they're "icky".)
  9. Funny thing, wet towels on the bathroom floor are actually an improvement. We are one step closer to "correct." I used to find them on the carpeted floor in their bedrooms - the next day. Now they leave the towel in the bathroom...while they streak across the house to their bedrooms - naked. I think I might start inviting friends over at they REMEMBER TO TAKE CLEAN CLOTHES WITH THEM to wear when they are finished.
  10. April showers that happen outside make the grass grow. Maybe our inside April showers can bring some growth this season as well. Towels hung up properly, bodies cleaned thoroughly, Mom  appropriately thanked for clean laundry. *the sun is shining brighter and the birds are already singing just THINKING of that kind of growth*
Welcome April! I might complain, but I really do love your mud puddles, warmer weather, and outdoor activities...and I can't wait to see what else you may bring (that could be even BETTER than May flowers for this Mama.)

Linked up with Top Ten Tuesday and No Ordinary Blog Hop (buttons on the sidebar)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Expectations - doh!

They keep growing. I blinked, and they got big.

Here I am, given day after day of precious life...and like a fool, I take those cherished days and pile them high with expectations.  I'm always making (very long) "to do" lists for myself - and I generally have one for my handsome man as well. (Oh, and don't forget the kids! I have a whole list of shoulds, wills, and 'why nots?' for them too!)

Luckily, the leader of our home isn't affected by his lists (that I made for him) in the same way that I am challenged by mine. Sure, he'll try to take a peak at them once in a while and even draws a line through accomplished tasks on occasion; but the infernal lists do not phase him - not even for a minute.

Instead, my dear husband spends his time doing things that nobody bothered to write down.
He does silly things, helpful things, energizing things, lazy things...and thoroughly enjoys himself in the process. 

Today I noticed that I have been clenching my teeth and missing so much with my "checklist blinders" on. The expectations I've been trying to meet are my own - and some of them are just plain ridiculous. I'm so glad God balanced the other side of my "responsibility" scale with someone who sees which responsibilities actually matter.

He models laughter to me - and to our kids.
He models hard work, but in good timing and proper moderation.
He balances out my intensity with a broad smile...and a cup of coffee placed in my hands.

I don't know how many days God wants to give me...but I like being reminded on occasion that they are indeed numbered. I'm glad to have this moment of clarity, being reminded to enjoy my right now...even if I still have to check some things off my list.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Laughing 'Til I Cried

On my birthday, Clay made me cry...from laughter.
6:00 a.m. and it was still dark.
He snuggled up to me and wished me 'Happy Birthday'.
We lay there quietly until he broke the silence and said, "I spit on myself in my sleep last night."
I lost it...and choked out through chortles and chuckles, "How do you know?"
"It woke me up. I was aware I was dreaming, I felt my my mouth fill up with spit; and I thought, 'I'm in bed - I can't spit.' and then I woke up when it hit my face."

That laugh was one of the best birthday gifts I had all day. It came from my toes and right out my eyes.
My handsome man could have kept that bit of information to himself, but he KNEW it would produce laughter. And in this house, it is practically a SIN to keep joy out the anecdote came.
Boy, am I glad I married him.

The very next day, we were sitting at the breakfast table when I heard:
"Mom, I forget how to wrinkle my chin."
A perplexed look had to have crept across my face because I thought, "Hmm, how DO you wrinkle your chin?"
I tried it myself.
When I looked up and around, I discover all four members of our family with the most hilarious expressions on our faces...wrinkling our chins.

*Go ahead, look in the mirror and wrinkle your chin. Better yet, ask someone else if THEY can wrinkle their chin. Clay thinks you should also ask them to say, "Dur" when they make the face. Either way, just TRY not to laugh.*

This whole exchange was innocent enough, but it made me laugh until I cried...and then I just started crying. Right there at the breakfast table.
My husband's eyes got big - eyebrows raised. I had to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all and responded, "Guess I just needed a good cry. I don't know WHAT is going on with me."
I really didn't.

I still don't know what that was all about.
How does one emotion switch to another so quickly?
I could complain, but instead I praise God for the emotions He gave me. Because of them, I can easily cry WITH loved ones and FOR them. I can embrace their excitement and easily share my own.
And then, then there is the laughter. It comes easily - even in the middle of arguments, fear, or sadness.
All it takes is a clever comment and my emotions get distracted from the intensity of the moment. (As you could already guess, Clay REALLY appreciates - and takes full advantage of - that quality.)

Thank you Lord for those ever-changing emotions, a husband who handles them well...and thank you for laughter that leads to tears.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ten Quotes from 3 Days

In a restaurant on our way to Toledo, Ohio, I heard myself say:
1. "Stop stealing his french fries - they are the only part of the meal he is actually eating (and you're making him mad)."
2. "Did you just move the table over so he would get TRAPPED under it?"
3. "Please don't tell him that he has to pee in a cup, let him out of the booth so he can use the restroom."
All of these statements were said TO MY HUSBAND.
I am not easily shocked; but on occasion, I do a double-take at what I hear coming out of the mouths of my family members (including my own).

When we got to our Toledo hotel, we discovered that neither of my boys packed a toothbrush. (They remembered DS games and movies for the car, but nothing they could use for hygiene). The hotel would have sold us a toothbrush for a measly $6...but cheap frugal that we are, we sent them to bed with stanky breath and grimy teeth and plans to shop the next day.
We skipped the store before our early judo tournament due to time, so one of my boys tried to use his halitosis for his benefit. He said, 4."I breathed on him in hopes that he'd pass out, and I could get out of the pin." Too bad it didn't work, we would gladly be skipping brushing for ALL future judo events.

When we finally had time to hit the local discount megastore, our 3rd grader found a toothbrush and begged  5. "It has my name on it AND it lights up. Please Mama, please, please, please can I have it?" (batting eyelashes at Grandma while innocently smiling at me. Did I mention that my parents came along on this trip?) I went ahead and bought it. (It's such a small price to pay for the joy of my offspring.) Oh wait, at the checkout, we discovered that the toothbrush cost us $6! I should have just saved myself the trip and bought one at the hotel.

My mother is quite conservative. I respect her greatly for her desire to bring God glory through her speech and actions. I am also VERY AWARE that my husband has a different view of what brings God glory...and I sometimes feel stuck between these two worlds. I'm not sure how many times this weekend that I said to ALL THREE OF MY MEN, 6."Oooo, please don't say/do/think that in front of Grandma..."

At one point in the past three days, my youngest son strode casually through the hotel suite living room on his way to the bathroom. He was buck naked and loudly announced, 7."I have to take a dump before I shower." Then, he proceeded to lock the bathroom door because he 8."needed some privacy." 
Does anyone else see the irony in this picture? I pointed it out to him...and he snickered.

We visited the Toledo Art Museum on our last day away - which was AWESOME (and free). While there, we were able to watch a glass blowing exhibition AND listen to some chamber music recitals (many musicians were blowing wind instruments). These two experiences sparked many comments and chuckles centered around the fact that  9."Toledo Art Museum REALLY blows." 

After returning home on Sunday, I was thinking about the bathroom I saw at the glass museum (and wondering if the glass sinks had been hand-made). I started mentally redecorating our own master bathroom and asked, "If we take down this mirror and replace it, where would we put this HUGE old mirror?" My husband (with toothbrush hanging out of his mouth) pointed into the bedroom - at the ceiling.
10. "No we are NOT hanging it THERE," I replied. (That'll teach me to dream about redecorating.)

These are just a few of the statements that I remember from our trip away. (The ones I can blog about without COMPLETELY losing all of your respect.)
I love my family and how much they make me laugh...even if their actions sometimes make me question my own ears...or mouth.

This post is linked up to Top Ten Tuesday and Hip Homeschool Hop

Monday, April 2, 2012

How Do I Answer THAT?

Sometimes I get quiet.
Don't laugh, it's been known to happen.
Unfortunately, it usually means that something is wrong...

When my husband notices the lack of chatter in the room, I often hear, "You alright? Seems like you've got something on your mind."
He is willing to let me process out loud. He's a good man (he actually LIKES it when I talk).
This method works GREAT - when I'm thinking about our children, their schoolwork, or prayer concerns for friends. I'm soon back to my gabby self.

Sometimes I'm quiet because I'm irritated at HIM and trying to talk myself down from the emotional ledge I'm teetering on. I know that I am too volatile emotionally engaged to calmly discuss a subject where he is SO VERY WRONG we obviously have differing opinions.
I know I should shut up, but I need a healthy response to his innocently asked, "Whatcha thinkin' about?"

I mean, if he's ASKING,  then it must be the PERFECT time to share how irritated I am that he sat on the couch while smelling like a campfire (right after I casually pointed out that he was stinking up my upholstered chair by doing the same thing).
Wait. Maybe it's not the perfect time to speak. It is however, the time to put my tongue in my pocket (wouldn't THAT be a nice feature) and pray.
Our marriage and my respectful behavior toward him mean more than ANY silly couch. I need to keep that in mind. Things will go much better if I let the Holy Spirit work in both of our attitudes instead of lecturing him like I'm his MOM.

Yes, this example is a bit ridiculous with it's smoky clothes and couches and such; but this kind of simple scenario happens all the time - and destroys marriages.
So, I'm looking for the perfect response when I need to uncharacteristically be quiet.
If I say, "I don't want to talk about it," I would be lying - and he might probe further.
(I'm not strong enough to resist pointing and blaming and complaining at him TWICE in a row.)

Maybe I just need to say, "I'm throwing an internal temper tantrum right now, and I need to talk to God about it rather than pray that Wisdom prevails."
Yep, he'll still know it's about him...but he's a smart guy - and prayer is a much safer (and more powerful) choice than getting me to talk about what's in my head in that moment.

Clay is so gracious with me. I am TRYING to be gracious with him as well.
I'm so glad that God's grace is sufficient enough for  both of us.