what’s eight weeks?

I have said it before and I am sure I will state it again:

I could never live anywhere that did not have the four seasons.

I am too restless for a mere two.

Summer in the Northeast is pretty much ten weeks.

Ten weeks of guaranteed heat, of no hectic school schedule.

That is what summer is for me: not feeling cold, not having school.

That first week school is out and the one prior to it revving back up again; don’t count.

Bumping up next to school demands sullies it.

So that leaves eight weeks.

Eight weeks as wide and welcome as blue skies over a waving meadow.

I have the added blessing of working for a public school so that means no work schedule as well.  I am a substitute teacher so it also means no pay.  We just call hot dogs and watermelon diner about twice a week and drink less wine to cope.

To help pay for our beach vacation we took the day after school was let out I worked nearly full time in June.  To many, that is like saying: I got out of bed in the morning in June.  So what?  But with four daughters still at home, a home I have to keep in order or I turn into captain scary crazy pants, I only allow myself to work part time since going back to work.

Ergo: working everyday all during the week drained the life force out of me.  And of course, keeping in how this world always works, this June had several extra stressers thrown in.  My continual motion, my ceaseless brain trying to organize, my seized-up then sputtered out Adrenalin glands, were all functionally poorly by the end.

Our vacation of four days in Maryland was very much needed, but I still had residual out-of-wack inner man issues.  I felt horrible for my struggling to relax and enjoy when everyone else was.  I should naturally too. The accusation of:

“There are billions of people right now who could not even fathom what a vacation is, much less have the luxury of escaping a beautiful home to travel to another beautiful place to stay”.

This is absolutely true of course.

However, my personal guilt over the validity of this, was very misplaced. It did not have to do, in reality, with the turmoil I was feeling.  I will have to tackle my privileged Western guilt for another day, I suppose.

So we returned. The unpacking and the buying of groceries done. I had those eight weeks staring me in the face.  I will be honest: I still had this invisible stifling pressure bearing down on me, like a swimmer going deeper and deeper down in the water.

I knew I needed a game plan of how to handle NOT having a game plan, if that makes sense.

This is what I concluded would be the most beneficial way for me to deal with eight weeks of warm freedom:

*Wake early to write every morning after coffee outside with chickens and the dog

* Work in the garden every evening after dinner and daughters are organized to do their dinner duty

* Spend that time between my am and pm bookends of writing and gardening maintaining the house, keeping animals alive, raising daughters, maintaining a relationship with the husband, keeping up with others in my life via texting and prompt text reply, emailing, and actual face-to-face interaction, usually over food and alcohol.

* A few times a week volunteer at the local library

* Allow myself to see how I can serve at church

 

That is pretty much it.

My writing/gardening is strictly weekdays.

My in between writing/gardening that allows home maintenance feels like a luxury of unprecedented time, that calms me more than I can say.

My volunteer times are at set times and days, otherwise the pressing, draining need that are the nature of volunteer organizations will drain a person until they burn out.

This leaves ample room to allow my relationships with others to expand, unfurl, send out runners, like cucumbers in July.

Not to say I only keep up relationships in the summer, that would be odd. But it is undeniable that it is easier and therefore more pleasant in the summer. It repairs the damaged widening riff of my winter silence.

Without breathing room for relationships human existence gets dwarfed, sometimes to the point of blight-ridden and shriveled so much so he or she no longer even looks like their real selves.  For the believer in Christ, this is especially damaging as the spiritual relationship with the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, is the springboard in which all our other relationships stay healthy, life-giving, bear good fruit.

Really, isn’t that what we all love about Summer so much?

It is the season of good fruit.

I’m no artist, but I love painting outside signs for my garden.

The fact that they soon get covered in nature and will be completely rotten in a few years, takes the pressure off to make it look like something I bought; lets me not be bothered by the fact it looks like something an elementary student did.

Cheers.

 

a foot in both camps

One can tear a piece of cloth neatly in two pieces. Most of the time.

A deliberate start of a sharp quick snip, a harsh but effective well placed tear- and the halving will emerge.

Women have been halving themselves since the beginning of time.  Turns out our brains are designed to flare and fire and fan out on both sides. I am still staggered at the halved, quartered, splintered, doing and thinking that is required from working mothers.

 I am constantly evaluating, recalibrating, weighing the consequences, the cost:

how much I can do in one week

weighed against

how well will we live that week.

Because costs must be met, food purchased and prepared, clothes and stuff organized and managed. The people in my home matter, they will matter for eternity. When the jobs, new sneakers, and organic apples will not. So I pray for wisdom, ears that hear, to keep my feet placed in both camps without the stumbling and sinking. Because when I do, I have one guarantee response: I sin.

Christ followers know well and feel for certain the duality of being in the world but not of it. Living life in a flesh kingdom but keeping our inner eye trained to walk towards the spiritual kingdom we truly find our stride in.

The more we die to self, Christ’s Kingdom looms with more clarity. Its beautiful, but our lives do not improve in the temporal.

Things become rather tricky, tiring, which often feels terrible.

Once we stop throwing a fit at how unfair this is; we see the actual kindness in this.  Feet in both camps. It is never totally comfortable.

That perfect contentment: a fabrication.

Halved, quartered, splintered.

Like going back to work, when I thought I never would until the girls were grown, I don’t regret it. It has improved our lives, to a much grander scope then an increased bank balance.

The decision came as a response to His calling to change the projection my life was in.

The black and white dogma of stay at home verses working has been torn out, like deep rooted weeds over these last few years.  I subscribe to no status other than Christ follower. I know it will be changing all the time.  It is not a concrete life plan to perfect equilibrium success.

I want to homeschool again, get my masters.

Does it feel to you that everyone is clamoring for a life  couch?

Seven step plans to be more______so you can finally______.

American Christianity has become too salesman.

Too exclusive for those in the right program.

I, all broken people, don’t need to buy an updated philosophy, or a successful plan.

We need a healing salve from something outside ourselves.

Then that something directs us, will recalibrate us, provide accurate concise wisdom to make good decisions to start changing our life from broken and blind to healing and seeing.

That somethings is no other than God’s Son, Christ, man and divinity is a messy, bleeding, lying, world.

After all, He is the only one who kept the stride, perfectly, without stumble, sink,  or sin, while being in both camps. He did it alone. So we would not be left to wander alone.

feet in both camps

 

The good news as told by Isaiah.

Cheers.

new laundry {how we hide behind our labels}

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Girl number three started soccer this Spring.

For the last two years she has been asking to join a soccer league and for two years I have replied, without remorse, under no uncertain terms:

NO.

The reason I, {we} have replied “NO” under no uncertain terms are as followed:

1.   we don’t like sports leagues because of how intrusive the schedules are on family time

2.   it seems a waste of time because kicking/throwing a ball in a certain direction is not a needed life skill, does not increase knowledge, is not creative, and this  household puts a high value on those things

3.  in observing this trend in other families we slowly developed a Pharisaic approach to parenting; we drew that line in the sand and smugly stood on the other side relieved that we had figured it out, and how could the rest be so dumb

 

So, we went to the library, not the athletic fields.

Our girls were enrolled in music, art, and dance, not tee-ball, soft ball, or soccer.

And only one girl at a time, for short seasons.

And it was probably the right thing for our household.

Because I was throwing up pregnant, getting up in the middle of the night, and chasing strong willed toddlers with a baby on my hip pretty much for close to ten years straight. {Four children in seven years, nine months of sickness for every pregnancy, and stay at home mom}. The chances are very high that twice a week tee ball practice with a game every weekend for two or three of my girls, then doing it all over again for the fall sports, would of drove me completely off the deep end, that I was dangerously teetering on.

Then suddenly, the dynamics in our home began to change.

The “big girls” are a teen and tweener.

The “little ones” are in school all day, and like to hang out with each other more than me.

I do not have children attached to my body all day.

So what now?

In all the ups and downs of our family expanding and shifting through stages and Tim and I, blurry eyed, trying to stay one step ahead, one thing has remained constant:

our unshakable knowing of our need to seek God.

And He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. {Hebrews 11:6}.

What He gives is Himself, in the form of counsel and grace at every bend.

And as my children grew to not physically needing me;

i.e.; mauling me and climbing on my lap and sneaking into bed two, three, times a night, and putting my arms around them for twenty minutes for a scrap that is barely visible {beautiful, beautiful times}

He kept speaking over me, in my desperation, to finally “get a life and be a mom”, that what they really need now is my presence, they need my shepherding.

I have no idea how to do that practically.

Because that does not fit into a category, or a parenting philosophy.

And there are lots of conversation with my face in the pillow of:

“wait a second God, wasn’t that You who told me to start ministry work, and to get a part time job, and oh crap I think I am doing to have a panic attack because I just signed up for summer classes, and now I am feeling convicted and stressed about how I am parenting!”

My confident, rock solid title of: stay at home mom, parent-centered, purposeful family time household, no longer drapes neatly over my daughters, making them safe, and making me feel good about myself. Because I seem to living a contradiction of beliefs, that I was 100 percent sure were Spirit led.

I work outside the home and we do sports!

But what plays like a tape recorder over and over again is this:

They are coming into their own, and all I really care about is that when they cross the thresh hold of adult are they going to willingly follow Christ, whose way is narrow.

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Am I really following Christ, whose way is narrow?

Or am I marching into the broad box of titles that has Leah smack in the middle:

stay at home mom

evangelical

social conservative

parent-centered home.

And it’s not that I did it wrong, or that I am wrong in my beliefs. Honestly, if I had to do things over again, I would not change any of the broad strokes of my life.

But no ones gets to do it over again, do they?

We just keep moving forward. And my moving forward can not hide behind self righteous titles, even if those titles represented God’s perfect will in my life.

I am not throwing the baby out with the bath water.

I just feel this restless pulling inside of me.

Like one bright thread of wool tugging and tugging till the whole garment comes unraveled.

I can’t stop thinking about the words of Isaiah speaking of Christ:

He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. and the bruised reed he shall not break. {Isaiah 42:2,3}

And I have swallowed long enough the religion of angry loud mouth, and wounding people who believe differently than me.

And just as I have no idea how to shepherd my children with my presence but start to find a life outside of the role of mother only, I have no idea how to stand for The Truth of God’s Word which is good and kind and life giving, and not steamroll over already hurt, and feeling-condemned people.

And so I guess this post, read by only a handful, most of the time by people I don’t even know, has become a confession to whomever may be reading:

I’m so sorry for judging the mom who puts her children in day care. God is not disappointed or mad at you.

I’m so sorry that I and the church have treated homosexuals like they are a disease to avoid, and not a human being whom God loves. I would gladly sit across the table and share a meal with you, not to debate with, but be human with.

I am so sorry that my first response is to get red in the face angry over and think of good comebacks, that are more like daggers, when people post their beliefs online of evolution and mock creationists. I should of been on my face in sorrow, then turned to prayer, that a human being thinks that they are a detached accident not a loved creation. Jesus said to rejoice when we are mocked by others for His sake. This response should of been automatic for those in my own family.

And so, this household of ours is changing. Because Tim and I are changing.

The change in us is bigger than different stages of parenting.

It is even bigger than our personal growth as believers, as people.

It is something that is stirring in the entire body of The Church universal.

The Bride of Christ getting off those dirty rags of self-righteousness and being made beautiful in Christ. New laundry, not hiding behind our stances.

Because we are part of the greatest paradox and contradiction of the ages:

Jesus: Man of Sorrows and Conquering King.

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This is being posted with the Five Minute Friday link up over at Kate’s blog.

I apologize that I did not stick to the usual format.

I was not going to link up today because all I could think about was her soccer uniform hanging up to dry and that seemed to have nothing to do with today’s word prompt of “hide”. But as  I began to write, for my own post, it came full circle, as things often do.

So there you go.

Happy Friday

&

Cheers.

 

 

Slices Abroad_COMPASSION

So I started this series of mine quite awhile ago.

This Slices Abroad thing.

This getting over myself

which is the crux of the Christian faith.

I have so many emotions

such an array of deep  theological ideas

packaged in such simple life

in such a simple person

I don’t know where to start,

so I find myself letting it lay.

Except it does not stay still and neat and polite, does it?

But really, ever single writer is just a teller of stories when it is all said and done.

So here is just a simple true story that illustrates something that is deeper than  any of us can really comprehend.

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It was just another cold weekend in February.

February in upstate New York.

There was nothing to do.

There was no money to entertain ourselves with retail distractions and eating out.

It was in the negatives again, so sending the children out to play was out of the question.

And I was feeling guilty.

Guilty because this past Christmas, the first Christmas I found myself working, retail, I was so stressed, so Bah Humbug, about “American Christmas.” I never got around to making the time and budgeting the money to send a Christmas letter and give an extra twenty bucks for a Christmas gift for our sponsor sons we support, something we usually do every November.

Luis in Columbia.

Kokou in Togo.

Prince in Rwanda.

Those are our sponsor sons.

And I, rich Christian American,  didn’t acknowledge them on the world wide celebration of our Savior’s birthday.

But the hope of Christmas is fully redeemed in the resurrection of Easter, right?

So, on this particular bitter, bored, broke, Saturday in February I was hoping to redeem myself with the hope of Easter wrapped up in a photo shoot with bunnies in a bucket.

bunny in a bucket

Sponsor kids love, love getting letters.

Photographs with letter are the icing on the cake.

Photos with cute bunnies and even cuter girls?

creme da la creme

basket head

I announced in true authoritative Mama fashion for the big girls to get the bunnies from their outside pens and bring them inside, and ” everyone brush your hair and take those slobby pajamas off” because I had suddenly decided to orchestrate an Easter photo shoot.

{It’s moments like these I love being a Mother. Only a Mother could so suddenly demand such varied, random, immediate actions and get results}.

Baskets were hulled down from icy attics.

Colorful quilts were laid down on cleared floors.

Marching orders set and I took pictures.

The four girls plus our ever present neighbor girl were allowed to haul out paints and brushes and the good water color paper to make Easter cards.

I wrote three letters. Pretty much identical, destined to land in Columbia, Togo, and Rwanda in about six weeks.

I always include a  scripture, not planned, but whatever seems right at the moment.

Writing a letter to children of a different nationality, of a different culture, that needs to be translated is a little bit…what is the word for it?…stifling?…if you think about it too long.

Rather complicated

time consuming

and does it really matter?

The first introduction letter is easy.

But what do you say after you the preliminaries are covered?

It’s like that awkward pause in small talk;  but continents apart.

But I have learned, as in polite unsure conversation, to dig down and continue anyway.

Because everything is not about me, and my comfort level, and my perception, in my contained perfect little slice of life.

I trust in the bigness of this world, the seven billion people who populate it, overseen by an even bigger God, expressed in the grandness of Christ on the cross then Christ leaving the tomb, and the power that came to perfect completion in the tongues of Holy Spirit fire that fell on Pentecost.

Over two years in, we still write. In starts and stutters with months and months between communicating.

I am always surprised at what words come out when the family gathers with pens, paper, crayons, envelops, Bible and postage stamps.

{No small feat for a family of six with four of its members under the age 14. Nor is it a quick crammed in to-do list requirement.}

More surprising still:

That Saturday with the bunnies, prompted with guilt, it brought genuine joy, despite the fact that, to quote my husband I “turn into Stalin” when I take family photos.

Seriously, I am not friendly…”get out of the picture now!”…”why are you making that face you look constipated”!…Tim, no one gives a crap about your hair just get in here and DON’T slouch” !

It was what our family needed.

More than white American guilt and regimented Christian good works, that Saturday afternoon, purposely altered to not go about doing what we normally do, to send three some 100- word- letters to children half way around the world, wishing Happy Easter, and trying to explain why we have a rabbit in a pastel bucket, and my militant photo shoot,  all of it, in all our human folly and lack, reminded me of the great truth:

Getting your eyes off yourself is the best way to feel better.

And when it is done in:

The Name of Christ,

Spurred by the Love of God,

Finely tuned by The Prompting of The Holy Spirit

we became part of something more lasting than the feel good high of “paying it forward”.

It is truly partaking in the active work of Christ’s work and goodness in a world that to me often feels stagnant and hopelessly broken.

But because there is something of Jesus Himself-

when we take time

do something ridiculous

press toward something not easily grasped

for something that gives no tangible fruit,

ALL for the LEAST.

These three sponsor sons of ours.

We hope to have four within the next few years.

Four sponsor sons to a make a gender equivalent for our four biological daughters.

collage Easter sponsor

It has changed our, and our children’s lives.

April is Compassion’s month of Sponsor advocacy.

We sponsored Prince last year through World Help, because of the prompting of blogger and writer Emily Wiergna, who on a Compassion sponsored trip to visit her own sponsor child, followed the Spirit’s leading to form an all but unprecedented mother sponsorship non-profit. Their line is “Preventing tomorrow’s orphan’s by equipping today’s mothers”.

I really don’t talk about our sponsor boys that much.

Misplaced “let your good works be done is secret”?

But it has been such an enormous part of my maturing faith, of understanding my own unhappiness with the bland experience of American church culture, that it is silly to NOT talk to about it. And if I come off as “judge-y “or “preachy” to you, well that is really not my problem because it certainly is not my intent.

Considering praying and then clicking on the

Compassion

or

World Help

or

Lulu Tree links,

and be prepared to be surprised.

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Cheers

Watch and Pray

DSCN0241  Middle school:

the two words deliver hefty punches with immediate images.

Heavy and tedious.

Like a backpack bulging, slung over, with dreaded algebra homework lurking within.

For females, the image evoke scenes of social awkwardness, screaming insecurities that we alone can hear, but are sure the whole wide world can spot when we walk into a room.

With these images resurfacing in my own memory bank as my two oldest rounded out the last years of elementary school, I decided to do a two year stint of homeschooling with my two oldest daughters.

My oldest for grades 6th and 7th.

My second oldest for grades 5th and 6th, together.

Based almost entirely on a prompting that it would be good for them.

Good for us.

Not a sheltering, per so, but a shoring up.

A deliberate reminding of who they are and how God sees them. What is true in this world. How to think and process and use logic. To laugh and tell excessive jokes based on the USA show Psych!

To learn how to bake bread and do the laundry properly, and breed bunnies for profit.

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For the most part, I loved it. We grew closer. We would have days where the discussions would go for hours. They received a top notch education, and I realized how much I still love the academic.

But then once again, life shifted, as life does.

I started working part time just in the evenings. I did not think it would have the slightest impact on my teaching during the day. I never schooled in the evening, after all.

But it did.

Work was good for me, for us as a family. The frenzy of Christmas came in all its retail and madness and I could barely function from the stress of it. Six months left in the school year, and plans to put the girls back in public school come the following fall, as was the plan for the beginning, started to not look like a good idea.

Not for me. Not for them. Not for us as a family. Something had to give.

My second oldest went back to the snug confines of an elementary classroom down the street in the New Year.  Where they still pass out cupcakes on their birthday and jump rope at recess. My oldest went to the big impersonal middle school across town that every 7th grader in the entire district attend.

Dropping her off at middle school that first day and walking away down a shiny floored hallway, while she practiced her locker number for the ninth time was unbelievably hard.

Sad panicky tears.

I can’t even concretely articulate why. Part sadness of how grown up she is now; in middle school. Part panic of how harsh these children, desperately trying to play the part of worldly adult, are.

But weeks prior to me walking away with tears we went in together for a visit. I had never even set foot in the school before that day.  We walked into the front office and were directed back to the guidance counselor’s office. Crossing over the thresh hold of the lobby into the offices I immediately was struck that the atmosphere of the staff was positive and in control. The counselor was frank and upbeat. I exhaled fully for the first time that day.

The school does have issues.

There are multiple fights in the hallway which my daughter has accidentally been jostled near and nearly struck.

Children casually drop the F-bomb in their conversations amongst each other like Barney giving out hugs, and the teachers do not say a word.

From the way she describes it, walking down the hallways and going to the girls bathroom is bit like trying to navigate the island in Lord of the Flies.

I drilled her everyday those first couple weeks with specifics and would give her no rest until I received specific answers.

Most of the teachers had control of the classrooms. This accounts why she was so taken aback at “how mean they are”. Zero tolerance of pulling crap.

“Good” I said.

She is there to be educated, after all.

I still do not like it, but I am not afraid of it.

I keep praying for one good Christian friend so they can “sharpen each other” like the Bible says believers need to have.

She went to the IF:Gathering conference with me a few weekends past, even though it was not a “teen thing” but a “woman thing”.

I don’t buy the whole teen culture needing a “teen friendly” God.

She is in the world and has to make the choice herself not to be in it by treading softly with integrity down rough hallways and graffiti bathrooms, leaving just a slight imprint where ever she goes; an impression of something strangely set apart and whole, often without saying a word.

That is what I pray.

No amount of youth geared church activities or a ten step strategy on how to be a good teen Christian will neatly achieve that. However, as abstract as it is, every time I pray for my oldest, that is what I see.

So that is what I keep praying.

I brought her to the  IF: Gathering as part of her birthday present since that week she and I had our 13th and 35th birthday, respectively.

I booked us a hotel even though it was ten minutes away. With a pool of course because swimming in an 85 degree pool in February is too good to pass up. People were surprised I would bring a 13 year old to the event. I explained it in terms of this:

In the Hebrew faith when a boy turns 13 they have a Bar Mitzvah.

A coming into manhood that includes his faith walk.

I ancient times, it was around this age he would start to learn directly In The Temple.

That idea would not let me go: Female gentile Bar Mitzvah?

So my daughters do church with us.

Yes they go downstairs during the sermon, but only every other week.

I brought her to IF: Gathering, because I felt it was relevant not for just woman in church, but The Church. I want her to live out being The Church; not just a moral teen with a crash test course in Apologetic 101.

Like it or not, middle school aged children are throw in adult situations and problems, see the ugliness of adult sin.

Let’s give them adult faith.

Let them be around adult women simply talking about their faith and their testimony in a fallen world.

It is what The Church has always done.

Why have we made it so complicated, by making it so curtailed?

We have taken away the beauty and power of the Body coming together and being real and simple.

And so every morning I watch from the art room window in our house to see her stand alone, cold winter morning breath billing around her uncovered head, because she refuses to wear a hat, as she waits for the big yellow bus to cart her away.

And I feel torn.

She has to walk her faith herself, but I can’t just throw her to the wolves and hope for the best, can I?

Our children are inundated with sexual images every time they connect to wifi.

They hear adult crude language pretty much as soon as they leave the confines of their home from peers and social outlets.

We worry if they will to be able to stand for their faith in the public school when it comes to the origin of life, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of sex, why believing in Christ alone is not the same as religious intolerance; something most adults have trouble doing, including myself.

Then we exclude our youth from participating in the beauty of the body blending together in corporate worship, so they can go downstairs for “teen jam” worship.

Prayer group is for old ladies with too many hours to fill.

If they hear a sermon it has to dumbed down and entertaining, with excessive culture euphemisms so they “can relate” and “not  get bored or confused”. Which by the way always comes off as contrived and lame.

I believe my generation stands as grim testament that taking kids out of the world into a secluded G-rated,smiley-face-Jesus-world, does not work.

As more and more parents of my generation are, with ringing hands and jelly knees and acid stomach, feel led to allow our precious fledglings out of the nest to awkwardly test their wings in a world that is not holy but harsh, let us do some other things different too.

Let’s not buy a teen devotional Bible for them. Blow off the dust on the simple one sitting on the bookshelf, and open it up when they have questions.

Let’s not be satisfied with youth group leaders making The Word relevant.

Let’s not be guilted into ordering another family devotion that someone at church recommends, that is so cookie cutter and prepared that all you have to do is read a paragraph and tell them to turn to a Bible passage and ask “what do you think about that verse” {Because it says in parenthesis to ask your kid that} while everyone squirms in awkward silence, hoping this will be over soon.

Homeschooling showed me how much children, teens, want to listen to what their parents’ think or believe about something.

They want to figure it out, and are okay, if not immediately comforted or informed, if you cannot answer a question about your faith.

The Lord has spoke very clearly to me as I wrestle with just what I need to do and exactly how I need to love my children as they grow up. It was very, very simple:

“Let them know you see them and that you believe in them”.

We as a family, do not set aside family devotion times.

We just don’t. Sometimes I feel bad about it, but it never, ever, feels natural. I did with just the girls when we were homeschooling, and that was great. One of the best things to come out of our home schooling. But the whole family in our loud, crashing evenings, with dinner seldom on before 7pm?…not gonna happen.

I’m sure there are many, many families that do, and it’s a precious and meaningful time.

I just can’t bring myself to do it.

However, being available for them, by our family purposely doing less running around stuff, including church activities, does not exactly come natural either. It most definitely is not fun or the least bit warm and fuzzy most days, because being home a lot with noisy, emotional, bickering four daughters, leaves me so tired and cranky I feel like being a mother is the most unsuited job for me possibly.

Seriously.

But I have four daughters aged 13 to 6, and they are my responsibility. I always love them. However,  I need God’s grace, and Him showing me how much He not only loves, but likes me, to like them in turn.

Seriously.

The exact sentiment applies to our marriage.

So every day, after day, after day, I not only do dishes and laundry, and homework, and run to horse riding and piano lessons, and work a few evenings a week too, but I show up fully for them.

To listen and counsel,  and answer question, and listen and listen some more mainly.

It is never planned, or curtailed to a lesson format.

It is full of fights, and yelling and throwing things and crappy apologies followed sometimes by genuine tearful apologies {from both the girls and myself}.

Tim and I, we live out our life and our faith with four moody gangly girls in the midst of it.

And when these girls walk out the door, with stuffed backpacks, skinny jeans, and still not wearing a sensible hat to be carted away where I cannot follow, I watch them shuffle out

and

I pray.

to pray

Cheers.

old hat

 

old hat

Back To School: A Well Worn Hat In A Comfortable Setting

 Today was back to school for the house of women.

It feels strange, but in a good way.

Yesterday it was strange too, but in that little niggle of: this isn’t right, what is going on?, way.

All day yesterday  I kept stopping, suddenly pulling myself up, wondering:

“How can tomorrow be school”?

“Where is the end of my rope, fraying surely and loudly in a disgusting house”?

Where are the daughter nerves?

I was not ever around for the night before the big day, but at work till 9:30pm.

How weird is it to write that!

It made me sad, but apparently no one else had a problem with it.

Coming home to daughters in bed, and Tim asleep to The Office going on his iphone, I did the homeschool mom thing and went into our homeschool room to get our weekly schedule finalized and organize which books we are going to use when.

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Then going to bed I did the once-in-a-great-while-i-get-crafty-usually-out-of-guilt, thing

and hand-sewed a polka-a-dot name tag with embroidery thread in bed, as the clock crept closer and closer to midnight, on my daughters’ identical $1 lunch totes we got at Old Navy. {I refused to buy “the real” lunch sacks that cost about 12 bucks a piece, after spending close to 50 bucks on two children’s backpacks…no matter how much they complained…this was my compromise since they called bringing a brown paper bag “scummy”}.

Let’s be clear:

my guilt induced midnight embroidery session was not over the cheap lunch totes, but rather not being there to tuck them in and chat in bed on the night before back to school.

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6:30 am came much too early and I was back in the saddle again:

desperate for coffee before I had to pack lunches

underwear,

first day dresses,

new shoes,

and

“wash the peanut butter off your face”

and

“yes, you have to get dressed and brush your teeth even though you’re staying home” conversations

shouted a room away while I warm up my coffee for the second time in the microwave.

I walk daughter number three to the elementary school five blocks down the street.

She held my hand the whole time, even in the hallways, even in the classroom with classmates getting an eyeful, and my heart swelled.

I drove the babe across town to her first day of Kindergarten which felt like an old hat with her being in all day pre-k last year since she missed the kindergarten cut off by days.

No tears, no extra long emotional hugs, no worries, not even nostalgia to be honest.

June felt like days ago not months, and my kids like school.

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Back in the saddle again with year two of homeschooling for my “big girls”, now in 7th and 6hth grade, and I am as relaxed as an un-schooled hippy mama on weed.

They ate and picked up breakfast and tried to be sneaky and get another episode of Once Upon A Time in while I was gone depositing their little sisters.

We walked into our homeschool room barefoot.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We discussed the year.

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We talked about and wrote down school year goals.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We prayed.

We did Math and History and did some stretching and dancing to One Republic.

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A far, far cry from last year when on the second of school, I put my head down on the glossy table and choked out:

“I don’t know what I am doing, I should of never done this”.

None of those feeling or angst or worry.

Comfortable and easy; an old hat.

Not that every day will be that, by any means.

I will have melt downs and wish my big girls were in school too some days, shouting things I immediately regret.

We will sleep in again, miss the bus again. lose the parent permission slip again, and have no bread left to make sandwiches again.

But today was not one of those days.

Today we just did our thing, going to school…all three different establishments, like it was no big deal…an old hat.

And being able to do that, is a big deal, for which I am as thankful as I am shocked.

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Cheers.

 

When it rains in August

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Living in the Northeast, sandwiched between the Great Lakes to the west, and the Atlantic to the east, we see our fair share of gloomy, gray, dank, days.

And I love to be outside so normally I complain, often.

But today is was gray and the rain that broke open in gushing buckets from the black sky last night, continues to saturate my parched garden, fill our new pool to the brim, is turning my front lawn that needs to be mowed greener and taller.

It also forced us inside.

Mama decreed suddenly and without warning {the way I love to do} that this week would be “screen free” for the girls.

Last week I went back to work part time in the evening to everyone’s favorite Retail Therapy Mecca: Target.

{i now own more red shirt than ever I have ever had before}

Leisure and relax has left my vocabulary, completely.

My life, quite suddenly, much like the those weary newborn days, operates in shifts, but with more sleep and cleaner shifts.

So there we were:

just four daughters and one Mama trapped in the house without cell phone instagram updates, Minecraft, the wii, of netflix to distract and keep us comfortably apart, because if any one of you can still recall high school…

five females will NEVER get along for more than FIVE minutes.

And yet.

First thing this morning, after the rain woke me, I sat up to see the long limbered silhouette of my two oldest make their way down the hallway-

they stopped in my room, plunked down on my bed to talk to me!

Soon after…

stumbling downstairs for starbucks and half & half, I hear the sounds of only mild arguing over a game of UNO-

all four girls sitting around the kitchen table playing together!

I threw cherries and yogurt containers at them and told them to evenly distribute the last swigs of O.J. left in the carton.

We went to Panera at lunchtime, for our breakfast.

Shopped at Aldies for a week of groceries.

My youngest dropped and split right down the middle in a jagged crack an entire watermelon.

My second youngest dropped an entire glass jar of salsa, the sound of breaking glass rang throughout a whole store like a warning siren going off.

The oldest?

Running around the store like Aldies is a some kind of retail daycare.

Did I yell at them through tight lips hissing:

“COME HEAR! YOU ARE ACTING LIKE IDIOTS! AND I AM EMBARRASSED!”

yep.

Did I punish them by returning the carton of our one per week Moosetracks ice cream?

yep.

And then later, when I pulled into the driveway, rain still falling leaving everything in puddles and the air sticky, did I remind them several times to:

“Help.Me.Bring.The.Groceries.In. Please”

Did my oldest ignore and saunter in declaring she was hungry again?

{you already know the answer}

Did I yell again, this time quite openly and colorfully, since I was no longer hindered by being in public that,

“You need to get out of your daydream world that revolves around you and just start helping me out without being yelled at, honestly stop being so self-consumed!”

{you already know the answer}

And now, as I type this, I glance at that taunting little clock in the corner of the screen, telling me I really should start getting ready for work instead of writing, and I think about this rainy day in August and I am glad that today it rained buckets. Still glad despite the destruction of produce and Mexican condiments, that I took the girls grocery shopping instead of leaving them home as usual. Still happy for my decision of decreeing “screen free” because it forced us to be all corralled

together;

which can sometimes feel like a colorful celebration in the midst of the mundane.

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part deux

10:20 pm

Home from work and the word “together” would not be the most apt word to describe my husband and I this week.

And yet.

This whole “wow mom gotta job” thing, still new, has made me appreciate him more than ever.

The meals prepared and dishes done.

The laundry flipped and the chapter books read.

Without complaint or sulk or comment.

Because we are in this:

together.

And sometimes the old saying is too true:

Absence Makes The Heart Fonder.

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Funny Book. Cuter Husband.

And this is what I found upon my bed when I came home tonight.

Looking forward to together soon.

Cheers.

 

Linking up after a long absence with Emily for some Imperfect Prose.

Midweek blogging does not groove with my normal writing schedule, but I am doing what lots of busy women have confessed to doing:

starting a few days ahead to finish up one post!

Click to link up yourself or read and be inspired by imperfect people writing imperfect words the best we know how.

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