One Day in an Elevator

Motherhood is full of lessons in humility, isn’t it?  Just when I think I’ve got it in one area of parenting, something will pop up to serve as a reminder of my kid wrangling deficiencies.

Last Monday, I had a full day scheduled.  At co-op, I kept busy with teaching the Bible devotional, a soccer class, an art history class, and an elementary Spanish class.  I remembered to pack the kids’ lunches and homework assignments.  The kids were all having a stellar day, behavior-wise.  As they played in the gym with their friends after Monday school was finished, I thought that the whole day had gone incredibly well.  I may have had a thought or two of how exceptional my parenting skills were to have warranted such a good day with the kids.

So, I confidently assumed that it would be a great idea to take the kids to the mall on my own and get the spring clothes shopping done.  Normally, taking the kids to an extremely stimulating place like the mall by myself would never, ever be a good idea.  But with the events of the day so far unfolding so well, I ignored that cautionary voice in my head and proceeded to browse the racks at JCPenney, trying to find shorts and shirts that fit Gabi correctly.  Things spiraled out of control pretty quickly.  Hosanna didn’t want to sit in the stroller.  The boys kept taking things off the shelves and whining about when was it going to be their turn to pick out clothes.  I should have stopped the whole shopping trip then before it got worse, but I stubbornly was determined to finish the shopping. The air conditioning at the store was broken.  I was sweating as I tried to hurry along the clothing selection, and the kids kept asking if we could go buy something cold to drink.  Finally, I found most of the items we needed and purchased them.

I still needed some more shorts for the boys and decided to go out into the mall to another store.  First, we had to get to an elevator to get the right floor.  I maneuvered the stroller throughout the store, looking for the elevator.  Mikey found it, and as we entered the elevator, I realized that Gabi and David were missing.  I ducked out of the elevator to see them slurping to their hearts’ content at the water fountain.  “Hey!  Get over here, guys!  The elevator’s here!”  I called, and then turned to see the elevator’s doors close.  My heart sank.  My 5-year-old and my 2-year-old, strapped into a stroller, were on an elevator by themselves.  I grabbed my older two kids and frantically pushed the elevator button.  As soon as the next elevator came, we rushed down to the first floor.  No Mikey, no Hosanna.  I hit the elevator button again.  There was a ding, the doors opened, and there was Hosanna, all alone in her stroller in the elevator, looking confused.  Where was Mikey??  I left Hosanna with her older siblings with strict instructions to stay right by the elevator and watch for their brother.  Once again, I boarded the elevator and headed back upstairs to find Mikey.  As soon as the doors opened, I could hear sobbing.  Poor little man – he had done the right thing and gone directly to a store worker to get help.  I comforted him, and we headed downstairs together.  By some miracle, the other three were still there, waiting by the doors.  Amid a chorus of “you left him all alone, Mom” and other guilt-trip-inducing comments, we made it out to the next store where I made outrageous promises for milkshakes before dinner if they would just cooperate long enough for me to get the boys their shorts.  Just as I was at the register to pay for my items, I got a text from a friend.  “How did the fitting go?” I read.  Oh, snap! I had completely forgotten about Gabi’s fitting for an American Girl fashion show she is going to be in next month.  I had twenty minutes to get there.  I hustled the kids out of the mall and into the van, promising over and over again that we would get milkshakes just as soon as the fitting was done.

We got to the fitting in the nick of time.  A friend happened to be there at the same time and gloriously offered to watch the boys while I took the girls inside.  I warned him to keep them away from elevators and happily took him up on his offer.  A stop for milkshakes a little later and I was never so glad to finally be home.

Every day, the Lord sends me plenty of moments to humble me and to remind me that I am dependent on Him.  It’s just that every once in a while, He allows me to fail in a spectacular way to reveal that I don’t have it all together.

I mean, sometimes I leave my children on elevators!


DSC_0038-001A lot of living and a lot of loving have happened since I last posted.  It was a season in which far too many things took priority over this blog, and I don’t regret giving in to those things one bit.  It’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.  Now, I’ve reached a time when blogging and sharing my ideas and thoughts is once again a very possible part of my schedule, and I’m thrilled to be back.

I realize that I left off my My Journey to Freedom series right in the middle.  I fully intend on completing that series soon.  Since I posted the third installment of the series, God has led me even deeper into that journey of faith.  I absolutely would not have chosen the path He picked, but I am walking it still and am glad for the strength He gives each day.

On my old blog Temporary Insanity – Permanent Joy, I started off 2013 with a ridiculous and copious list of new year’s resolutions that with my absurd confidence I posted for all the world to see.  I read that list recently and just shook my head at the enormity of things I had hoped to accomplish in a single year.  With the wisdom that is gained through personal failure, I entered 2014 with a completely different outlook.  Instead of a long list of impossible resolutions, I decided to focus on a single word for this year.  I know it’s not a new idea – I admit that I stole it from oh, just a whole lot of other bloggers I read.  But the idea of a single word propelling some changes and opportunities for growth this year was very appealing.  And so, after a lot of prayer, I chose the word intentional.

I am not by nature a very organized person.  I often have the best of intentions and then fail to follow through.  This year, I will be putting this word intentional in a prominent place to remind me to live more deliberately.  In my marriage, I want to be consciously putting forth more of an effort to grow and strengthen our love and to be fully present even when he is trying unsuccessfully to get me excited about some computer concept.  With my children, I want to make the most of each moment I have with them, and that means purposeful planning ahead and working diligently to get individual time with each child.  In homeschooling, I want to stop avoiding the direction I know we need to take just because it will require more work and planning. (more about that in another post.)  And in my relationship with Jesus Christ, I want to be more deliberate in pursuing Him and in facing those areas of my life that need to be changed.  As far as my health is concerned, I need to be more intentional about the food I eat and the physical activity I do.

So that’s it.  I guess I am hoping to be a lot more intentional about blogging as well.  Come back soon for the final post in my Journey to Freedom series.

Summer and Schedules

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“Mom, please can I play my video games now?”  my younger son whined.  It was 8:00.  In the morning!   Apparently, summer had hit us fast and hit us hard, and I was not prepared.  Without the structure of a typical homeschooling day, the kids were fighting and complaining and driving me crazy.  And that particular day, I’ll admit, I caved.  The part of me that wanted to get a lot of work done around the house without being bothered by the kids said, “Sure!  You can play your video games.  Just turn the sound down, please.”  And he (and the other kids) proceeded to play their games for THREE HOURS STRAIGHT.  Their rooms weren’t clean, and their chores weren’t done.  They hadn’t touched a book in days, and their creative spirits had jumped out the window a while ago.  I’m not proud of that, folks, but it happened.  Imagine then whose children were ungrateful little demons for the rest of the day?  To make matters worse, they were being all sorts of terrible when it came time for bed. With the sun still shining brightly outside (thanks a lot, long summer days!), they jumped out of bed and on their beds and teased each other and got entirely too many “visits” from Mom or Dad to help them get back in bed.  A change was definitely needed.

I missed the homeschool routine.  However, I am not by nature a very organized person.  I was always the teacher with the messiest desk (hangs head in shame).  I love to do things but don’t always have a good plan about how to do them.  Still, it was abundantly clear that we needed a summer schedule to make it through these days.  I talked to my husband about the bedtime issue.  We both were very tired of dealing with kids-who-just-won’t-go-to-sleep-no-matter-what.  He suggested that we wake them up earlier in the morning so that they would be more tired at bedtime.  Six am was the decided-upon time. (because we are both such morning people, ha!) Then I sat down to write out some sort of schedule for the first day on this new plan of super organization.  I doodled all over the page and made a ridiculously detailed, down-to-the-minute schedule.  It said things like, “Get the kids started on cleaning their rooms while I take a shower after working out – 7:30 to 8:00 am.”  I wrote in some school practice time (sorry, kids!) and some outside exercise time, as well as lots of fun things like chores and library trips.  I glanced at the clock and realized that it was already 10:30 pm.  If I were going to be getting up at the ungodly hour of six am, I had better be getting myself to bed.

Well, I lay there for a good hour and a half, trying to will my body to go to sleep.  The night owl in me fought against this obnoxiously early bedtime.  When that alarm clanged out at precisely 6:00 am, I was in no mood to better my life with organization.  I hauled myself out of bed and prepared to awaken the kids.  The girls, it seemed, had already gotten the memo and were bouncing around the living room, waiting for breakfast.  The boys were a different story.  David grudgingly got out of bed, but Mikey was determined to stay asleep in his bed.  I finally coaxed him  into the living room, where he grumpily climbed onto the recliner and went right back to sleep.  “Well, day one,” I thought.  “You’re certainly starting off with a bang.”   Breakfast took longer than I planned.  Hello, mom of four?  Did you not remember how long it can take to get the hordes gathered at the table, agree on a breakfast choice, make the breakfast, serve it up, and eat it?  Because surely then you would have scheduled more than a half-hour for such an effort.  Hosanna kept interrupting my workout, stepping squarely in front of me and crying as she clung to my leg.  Okay, so the shower wasn’t going to happen until 8:30 am, but I could still recover the rest of my day, right?

Wrong.  The kids took the “clean your rooms” command and internalized it as a “let’s take all day to move stuff around our rooms” idea.  Frustrated, I tried to sneak in some laundry and dishes time while they all whined about how hard I work my “slave labor”.  Sigh.  But school practice was going to happen.  I managed to get through the devotional time and a couple of math worksheets before the complaining started again.  Handwriting practice, naturally.  The clock said noon, but I had planned lunch at 11:30 am.  How could we be falling so far behind?  The day dragged on.  I doggedly continued to abide by my written-out schedule and tried in vain to make it work.  I felt tired after dinner, as if the whole day had been in vain.  Then came bedtime.  Blessed, blessed bedtime.  Baths, teeth brushing, hair brushing, stories, and prayers – and then sleep.  Every child was asleep within minutes of going to bed.  Hallelujah!

So we hit some snafus in my “perfect” schedule.  And maybe the kids were a little slow to warm up to the idea of having a super organized day.  And perhaps I am reading a book or two about organization right now before I go to bed.  But, with that small victory, I just might be encouraged to get up again tomorrow.

At 6 am.  Girl, get to bed already!

Organizing Produce

With all the juicing and the attempting to eat a fruit-and-veggie-filled diet around here, the produce content of the refrigerator has increased dramatically.  Most days, there is a variety of kale, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, peas, strawberries, red beets, and more stuffed somewhere in the depths of the fridge.  Of course, they are competing with the milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, water pitcher, and leftovers for space.

Today I took Hosanna to check out the farmers’ market in our area for the first time since we moved here.  We loaded up the stroller with beautiful strawberries, enticing bundles of asparagus, a bag full of greens, and some sugar snap peas.  When I brought them home, however, I realized that I had no place left to shove them in the refrigerator.  And truth be told, I was getting a little tired of shoving anyway.  Not only did it make it hard to find what vegetable I wanted, it also was causing produce to spoil more quickly or lay forgotten in the back corner.  I needed (desperately!) to organize my refrigerator.  (Okay, I probably needed to clean it too.  And face the scary containers of leftovers hanging out in the back…)

What’s the first rule of organizing anything?  Everything has to have a place, right?  I had seen some made-for-your-fridge bins that were supposed to help corral all the inhabitants of the refrigerator.  I loved the idea but not the price.  At $12 each, it would cost way more to organize it than it would to fill it with healthy goodies!  I headed to the dollar store to see what containers they might have to fill my need.  I found that all of their clear bins were a little too small for my plans, but then I discovered these rectangular plastic baskets. (You can see them in the photo below.)  And so the organizing began.

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Here’s a little break-down of how I accomplished that “after” picture.

1.  First, I took everything out of the refrigerator.  Everything!  I lined up all the “keep” stuff on the kitchen counter, threw out the moldy stuff, and tossed a bunch of weeks-old leftover containers into the sink to be cleaned out.

2.  Next, I scrubbed down the inside of the fridge and washed out all the drawers.  Dish soap worked perfectly fine for this task.

3.  Then, I arranged and rearranged the plastic baskets on the shelves until I had something that worked.  I put the eggs, cheeses, milks, yogurts, and peanut butter back in first in the spaces around the baskets.

4.  Then, I set to filling the baskets.  I had purchased one smaller bin that had a convenient handle for easy access.  This one became home to my berries as well as a small ziploc bag of ginger root.


5. I transferred all the rest of the produce to gallon-size ziploc bags.  Most produce should be sealed up, unwashed, to help it last longer.

6.  The baskets on the top shelf became home to spinach, romaine lettuce, and cucumbers.


7.  I put kale in the basket on the middle shelf next to the berry bin.

8.  The bottom shelf had two baskets, one of which held carrots, parsley, and cilantro, and the other held tomatoes, celery, and asparagus.


9.  Finally, I filled the crisper drawers at the very bottom.  I set the vegetable drawer to high humidity and put our lesser used veggies in there – avocados, red beets, cabbage, bell peppers, and sugar snap peas.  The fruit drawer (set to low humidity) held some lemons, kiwi fruits, and a mango.


Of course, the contents of each basket will change from time to time, depending on the season.  I do store some produce on the shelves in my dining room.  Right now, there are apples, bananas, a pineapple, pears, potatoes, garlic, and shallots on those shelves.  They don’t need to be refrigerated.  Bonus – the kids tend to grab them more often for snacks since they are so accessible.

And tonight, when I opened the fridge to gather some veggies to make a juice, I may have closed and opened the fridge door a few more times just to stare at its organized, happiness-inducing goodness.  (and snacked on a few sugar snap peas – who can resist those??)

Sometimes You Just Gotta Play in the Rain

Last week it rained a lot.  Pretty much it rained every morning, day, and night.  Our yard looked like a swamp, and whoever had to venture outside for any reason immediately regretted the results of cold, soaking wet feet.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from living here in the Pacific Northwest, rain can get old really fast.  It can be depressing.  Day after day of steady cold rain is just no fun.

By Thursday afternoon, I had had enough.  I tried to wrangle the kids into making a bird feeder out of a milk carton.  They were excited enough about the project at first, but squabbling and fighting soon took over, as it often does when people are stuck around each other too much.  I looked out the window at our driveway and sighed at how enormous the puddle in the middle was growing.  I am not by nature a “sighing” kind of person.  I tend to see the bright side of things, and this gloom and doom had to go.  I put on my excited face and announced that we were all changing into our swim gear and going outside to play in the rain. The kids shrieked with joy and fully embraced the experience.  It was cold!  They probably only lasted about fifteen or twenty minutes out there before I ushered them back in for warm baths and hot cocoa.  Those brief moments playing in the deep muddy puddle in the middle of our driveway completely changed our outlook for the rest of the day.

Sometimes it’s all in how you look at the puddles.

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In This House

DSC_0060The dining room is the central hub of our family activities.  At any given moment, you will find us homeschooling there, or finishing up yet another art project, or eating together, or folding laundry, or building Star Wars lego sets, or a host of other activities.  We are fortunate to have a very open floor plan, with the dining room opening up to the kitchen, the living room, and the playroom.  Since we spend so much of our time there, I chose the dining room as the place to put up our family “rules.”  I painted a canvas gray and added the meaningful words in my favorite colors, yellow and turquoise.  It looks fantastic on the wall next to the big picture window.  But there’s no point in having it just look pretty.  I wanted my children to understand the words on it and use it as inspiration to be a better family together.  So,my little chicks, let me tell you how we do things “in this house.”

1.  We do second chances.  

So, you didn’t get your math lesson the first time around.  Maybe you forgot and left your dish in the living room instead of carrying it to the sink.  Maybe you dropped your shoes right where Daddy could trip on them on his way out the door to work.  It’s okay.  We do second chances, and third chances, and as many chances as you need to get it right.  The times you don’t get it right are learning experiences for you.

2.  We do grace.  

This one is easy to say and hard to execute.  Grace is undeserved kindness.  God showed us the ultimate, purest grace of all by giving us a way out when all we had done was sin and disobey Him.  We are to be Christ-like – therefore, that means showing grace to others.  Is your brother being especially annoying today?  Be kind and courteous to him anyway.  Did you neglect to do your chores?  Mommy will not yell or be unkind.  She may even give you a second chance.  (see #1)

3.  We do real.

Having the joy of Christ in our hearts does not mean we will be happy all the time. Bad days are bound to happen.  In this house, we can be real about how we feel.  We don’t need to hide behind a mask and pretend everything is okay.  And when family members let their guard down and are real with us, we show compassion and understanding and seek to help them however we can.

4.  We do mistakes.

Nobody in this house is perfect.  We all make mistakes from time to time.  If you make a mistake, own up to it.  We understand and respect the fact that you are human and will make mistakes.  It also makes it easier for us to clear things up and make things right again.  Sometimes, mistakes are beautiful.  They teach us to be humble and to learn from failure.

5.  We do “I’m sorry.”

If we have wronged or hurt anyone in this family in any way, we apologize.  Even if we didn’t mean to offend, we recognize that feelings can be hurt.  So we say “I’m sorry.”  We say it a lot, including Mommy and Daddy.  It is a mark of good character to admit you did wrong and show your contrition.  And in this family, “I’m sorry” is always accompanied by a hug.  Always.

6.  We do loud really well.

We love to play, sing, dance, and generally cause a great ruckus in the house.  This is usually a wonderful thing – after all, God instructs us in His Word to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”  I love hearing your fun, most of the time.  It reminds me that we are not boring or dull and that we are enjoying the life God has given us.  However, there are two times when you need to hit the mute button – when Hosanna is taking a nap and when Mommy is holding her head and looking like she is about to punch something.  It is called a headache, and for your well-being, you should probably keep it down to a dull roar.

7.  We do hugs.

All the time.  I demand them from you all on a regular basis and dish them out as often as I receive them.  In case you were secretly hoping they would go away, they will not.  Whether you are eight, eighteen, or twenty-eight, you will give your mother a genuine, “I-love-you-lots” hug.  At any rate, she surely will be hugging you.  And don’t forget your siblings!  Hugs all around!

8.  We do family.

There are lots of exciting things to do and places to go and friends to hang out with in this world, but family always comes first.  We will always be your best friends, your biggest cheerleaders, and your shoulder to cry on.  That’s why when anything comes between you and your brother, or you and Mommy, or any other relationship in this house, we deal with it right away.  We take care of it because those are the most valuable relationships (outside of Jesus Christ) that we have.

9.  We do love.

And that is the cord that ties us all together.  For better or for worse, we are all in this together because of love.  When God gifted me with each one of you children, my heart was filled to bursting.  I was in awe at the love I felt and still feel for each of you.  If you ever find yourself unsure of how much I love you, come ask and I will be more than happy to tell you and show you!  And sometimes, we may not be very good at communicating our love for you.  Love is kind and patient, and sometimes we forget to show it that way.  If that happens (and it will, trust me, see #4), please let me know so I can rectify that.  I always want all of you children to feel loved.  Oh, and Daddy too – I’m crazy in love with him!


This sign is to remind of us of all these things – things that are important to us but can easily get forgotten in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  But, little chicks, remember this.  None of these are possible without prayer.  We have got to connect with our Heavenly Father daily and seek His help in these areas.  And when we do that, well, this house is going to be home to one happy family!


Dandelion Bouquets

     Sunshine reigned supreme in our corner of the world the other day.  It was not the kind of day you stay indoors, even if the laundry mountain were creeping into the dining room or the dirty dishes were crowding around the sink.  I shooed the kids outdoors and implored them to get some vitamin D and play for a while.  My new read and cold water bottle were all I needed to settle into a chair and soak in some sunshine myself.  Soon, however, my blissful reverie was interrupted when Mikey poked me in the shoulder, loudly proclaiming he had something special for me.  Tightly gripped in his dirty fist was a bunch of bright yellow dandelions, a colorful reminder that we still had a lot of weeds to tackle in our new yard.  “Momma, I picked these for you!”  His face shone with excitement.  “Do you like them?  Do you like them the most?! ”  I reassured him that yes, indeed, they were very pretty, and it was so nice of him to pick them for me.  Not satisfied, he followed me into the house to make sure his sacred gift was properly put in a little vase and nourished with a little water.  Then he flashed me another grin and ran back outside to play.
    It was not the first time I had received a dandelion bouquet from one of my children.  No, I had accepted these sweet tokens of love more times than I could count.  Each time I put them in a small cup, placed them on my windowsill, and then promptly forgot about them.  This time, however, after seeing the giddy excitement in his eyes that only comes when one knows he is giving the absolute best gift to someone, I paused and looked at that bouquet of dandelions.  What was worthless to the world was priceless to the giver, and therefore, priceless to me (because I do have a gigantic crush on that little boy!)   He freely shared his gift with me, and that day, I determined to take note of every bunch of dandelions gifted to me henceforth.  I knew that someday he wouldn’t be coming to me with a wilting handful of flowers anymore.
    I’d like to think of my space here in the blogosphere as a place where I can hand out some dandelion bouquets of my own.  They’re just simple thoughts on the things that matter to me most.  Sometimes my “bouquets” will contain new information I just learned or will share an experience from which you may benefit.  Maybe you’ll take it, tuck it away in a little cup, and forget about it.  Or perhaps,every once in a while, you’ll glean something that has you staring at your bouquet and reflecting on it a little.  My hope is that it will inspire you to do something or change something.  Most of all, I want my words to encourage you and lift your spirits.
“The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.”
Leo.F. Buscaglia