Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Month of Rice and Beans for Dinner

Quotes from my family courtesy of their month-long rice and beans "torture."

"What gross thing are you making for dinner tonight?"

"Open mouth. Put food in. Close mouth....yes, you do have to chew it."

"Mommy, thish is just too weird!"

"Do we really have to be Solitaire?" ( we have to stand in solidarity?)

"Wow mom! This one actually tastes good!! Do kids in Africa get this one?"

"Can we just eat this one for the rest of the month?"

(Day 3 of 31) "Is the month over yet? I need pizza."

(In reference to the one above) "Mom, I've had this one a lot. Do you have another kind?" (speaking of rice)

"Can't we just send them money, so they can buy something that tastes better?"

"Next month, can we eat hot dogs every night?"

I am laughing and groaning as I remember and write. I've never had more complaints and near rebellion at dinner time by my children as I have this month. But, I am also really excited that we did discover some new recipes that Everyone really liked! Yes, we had a few gagging sessions and "if you throw that up, you'll clean it up!" "talks" at the table. My 3 year old (who amazingly has complained the least) has gone to bed with very little to eat more nights than I can count. Yet, he has shown the most excitement at the prospect of sending money to other children.

I pray my children will have learned something from this whole exercise...most of all thankfulness and an awareness of others around them.

If LAHASH does this again next year, we'll be right there with them.

I think we'll celebrate with Pizza and Cake when the month is at end.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Monkey at the Zoo

Tuesday we went back to the zoo with Luke and another friend and her kids. We all had so much fun and it was just a couple of days after our big snow. It was a gorgeous 60-some degrees. The kids absolutely loved the all the animals and most of the snow was melted by then.
Tonight as I was tucking Precious Jewel into bed, she dramatically declared that the zoo day was her best day ever. "I loved the penguins....! the flamingos....! and the monkeys!" (All said with hands in the air and dramatic flair.)

She then giggled that the monkey really liked her and she'd like to go back and see it again. The monkey she was talking about was lunging at the glass at her. Precious Jewel would move and the monkey would jump at the glass, fangs bared, screaming and banging on the glass. Luke and Sara and I just stared at her and the demon-possessed little monkey sort of shocked and sort of scared. I had images of the lady whose face had been ripped off by her friend's chimp and was breathing a prayer of thanks for thick layers of glass. This little exchange went on for several minutes and even with all the kids lined up laughing and pointing against the glass it kept screaming and lunging at her.

So when she said tonight that she liked it and it liked her, I shot out (my big mouth), "honey, it wanted to rip your face off!" She looked at me and said "but if it had gotten out, you would have kept me safe right?"

Me: "Yes honey! Daddy and I would have gotten a big stick or something and beaten it over the head or something like that."

Jewel: "I would have jumped on daddy's back" (me thinking: it would have ripped his face off!)

Jewel: (very thoughtfully) "what if you didn't have a stick?"

Me: "I would have grabbed Nathaniel's stroller and beaten it or something. (now in case you wonder why I would even consider that, Nathaniel's stroller was being used for carrying the diaper bag and lunch bag. He wanted to walk far more than ride).

Jewel: (sternly this time and obviously not remembering that Nater's didn't ride much in the stroller the entire day) "mommy, you would have taken him out first before beating the monkey with it wouldn't have you?"

Oh dear. = )

Saturday, March 20, 2010

That was Yesterday. This is Today

Yesterday we went to the Zoo. It was a glorious sunny day and 2 friends, their children and I and my 2 youngest carpooled the 1 and half drive to the Tulsa Zoo. We only got to stay for about an hour due to the traffic and lines getting in and out of the zoo, but honestly, with 8 children ages 8 and under that was long enough. I took hats because I had not yet bought sunscreen, but they wouldn't keep them on.

Our lion friend. Nater Mater grunted, pointed and growled through the fence.

The line of our little tots

Roasting hot dogs in the fire pit that evening.


Nater Mater stomping in the muddy snow

Our little flowers that have not yet bloomed and I'm crossing my fingers that they'll survive.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This post will kind of ramble, so bear with me.

There are times when I feel like my life is falling for the last 2 years. I never had post-partum depression after the other kids that lasted for more than a couple of months, but this time around has been different.

I was on an anti-depressant for about 6 months after Nathaniel was born. My doctor suggested it due to the circumstances of his birth, a move the week before he was born, a tantruming 2-year-old, a husband who'd lost his job, and a couple of ebbing friendships. It was a good idea, but I didn't notice much of a difference, so I quit after giving it 6 months. It was one less thing I had to remember in an already hectic schedule of 4 little ones and a fast-failing homeschool attempt.

I have learned over this past 2 years something I hate to admit. I am a needy person. I don't like being around needy people. They suck the life out of you if you're around them too much, and I think that's what I did to a couple of friends that are no longer in my life.

I have been doing a lot of soul searching. I have a very understanding husband, and as he's seen me fall time and again in the last 2 years, he has been less critical and more encouraging. We used to have this constant daily tug-of-war that went on between us to the point where a marriage counselor asked us if we thought we'd married the wrong person.

We both immediately said "no," but we may have married to soon before some of our own growing up had happened. I truly believe God gave me my dear husband as the perfect person for me and I for him.

As he's seen me not be the strong confident woman who he'd dated in college, but a sniffelling, sleep-deprived, hormonal wreck of a mother who cries when he walks in the door, he's taken me in his arms and been my encourager. I've also learned to voice that I need him, really need him for who he is and what he brings to this family. Luke may not be Jesus, but he is my protector and providor here on this earth as well as my best friend.

My mother has encouraged me to get out in the morning and walk and get fresh air and try to get some time alone; to pray and cry out loud the Psalms for a timeand to hold onto Jesus. I know this, but it's a good gentle kick-in-the-pants to do it because I know she'll ask if I did.

This morning I set my alarm for 6am to do just that. Before it ever went off, i heard a little tot smacking his mattress and giggling in delight at the sound it gave back. I looked at the clock; 5:30am. So much for rising early before the kids this morning. I waited to see if he'd settle back down, but then he started hollering for me. Bleary-eyed I hauled him out of bed and off to the kitchen for his breakfast and hopefully at least a devotional for me.

What I read in my literal 3-5 minutes of quiet while he was busily tearing into his banana and donut was exactly what i needed.

"So once more I say, let us not expect defeat but victory. Let us take fast hold and keep fast hold of our sword, and we shall win in any assault of the enemy. The Lord quicken our expectation."

---Amy Carmichael

A little while later, I was able to get a moment to read my Bible and each verse I read spoke to that same thing. God will fight our fight if we but let Him...even the fight of depression.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hansel and Gretel

We've had a house of sick kids this past week. Mr. Smiles woke up Wednesday morning with a high fever, severe sore throat, chills and body aches. I took him to the Dr thinking it was the flu. The Dr. thought is was the flu too, but they also tested him for strep. It ended up being strep.

About 6 hours later, Nater Mater started acting fussy. He too had come down with a fever and then started in on his cough until turning blue cough. He ended up having some sort of respiratory virus thing that he gets every few weeks. It's due to his having asthma and weak lungs from his bouts with RSV.

Today both he and Mr. Smiles were up and running but Good Lookin' is now running a high fever. Luke had to work, so even though it was my first day to teach Mr. Smiles Sunday school class, we ended up calling a sub and staying home.

The older 2 spent most of the morning doing crafts and coloring and took care of a pitiful GoodLookin' whose fever was hovering around 104. Poor guy just layed on the couch, clutching his Lightning McQueen sippie cup, and slept on and off all morning.

The TV would run for an hour, then we'd read for an hour. Then it'd get turned back for another hour (or 2). Then get turned off again to give us all a break from the glaring screen.

At one point, Mr. Smiles and Precious Jewel broke out the last of the Valentines Candy. I was reading books to GoodLookin' and Nater Mater and looked up to see Mr. Smiles walking backwards around the couch, through the living room, around the other side of the couch and then down the hallway...all-the-while dropping little bits of something I couldn't figure out. I put the book down to check it out. It was little pieces of bright pink Nerds (his Valentine's Candy). Then came Precious Jewel after him, crawling on all fours, picking up the candy and eating it.

After watching this game go on a while, i asked what they were up to.

They both declared that they were "Hansel and Gretel", but that they were the ones who got to eat the candy instead of the birds.

I love their imaginations.

Monday, March 8, 2010

More Beans and Rice

Today afforded another opportunity for my children to learn thankfulness. We have now eaten beans and rice for dinner for about 4 days. Last night I threw together quick pbjs after SPARKS just so I could quickly get them to bed after they'd eaten.
The kids still are not fond of the idea and we'll see what tonight's dinner brings in the "compliments" department.

Next day:
Wow! Last night was a success! I was all stealed for a deluge of complaints and whinning, but they loved dinner! We had the Bean and Rice Breakfast with Spicey Avacado Sauce. The kids looked at it with discust when I put their bowls in front of them. But after the "try it before you don't like it" speech, they all took ity bity bites and excitedly exclaimed, "I like it mommy! this is good!"
I was more than happy. It'd been a rough late afternoon and evening in the thankfulness department and they'd had several large privilages revoked for the evening.
I had picked up both older kids from school and took them grocery shopping with me for an ailing friend. I explained to them that we were there to pick up this person some items for making dinner for them--not for ourselves. Mistake number one that I made was letting them talk me into getting each one a treat that we don't normally get after they had already been warned about whinning.
Mr. Smiley, who was less than smiley that afternoon, whinned the whole way home about this and that and Precious Jewel asked why we couldn't get more stuff for ourselves.
I sucked in a sarcastic comment and called Luke saying I needed backup when I got home. They were wearing on my nervs and had been for several days.
Luke gently pointed out that I should have NOT allowed them to talk me into buying stuff for them when they were whiny to begin with. When we arrived home, he sat them down and explained that thankful hearts don't whine and beg for what they don't get. This is one of the reasons we are doing the Rice and Beans for a teach thankfulness. He put up the treats and informed them that they no longer got to have them. One child understood. The other grew louder and promptly declaired that his friend's parents let them have whatever they wanted when they cried so why couldn't he. We pointed out that wasn't true and even if some parents let their children throw tantrums to get what they want, we weren't one of them.
The whinning didn't stop, so 4-H for the night flew out the window as well. I was disappointed. I hadn't gotten to go with the kids yet to their once a month club and was looking forward to going that night, but it was a good lesson for all of us. The whinning stopped. Luke played with them for probebly the next hour while I fixed dinner.
Then came dinner. I read a blog title Solidarity to the kids and once again tried explaining the word. They were quiet and thoughtful and identified with the helping at the Ronald McDonald House and kids being sick and families not having places to stay. I linked that with kids in other countries and eating rice and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Then we ate and this time liked dinner. (Not due to our discussion, but that they acctually liked it).
We have one week down and 3 more to go.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Seabiscuit friend

A friend of mine shared this with me and I identified with it so much that I asked if I could copy it down and add my own thoughts, so here goes. Her color is in red and mine in black.

When I try to picture in my mind what the perfect friendship looks like, movies such as The Mighty, The Kite Runner, Seabiscuit, Anne of Green Gables, Lord of the Rings, and Man on Fire come to mind. (Some of my favorite movies).

I have actually started to pay attention to my favorites of things, and seeing what trends I lean towards. I have noticed that 90% of my movies involve some kind of deep deep friendship, often shown through incredible sacrifice.

I was watching the kite runner, and afterwards, (while sobbing uncontrollable as is the case every time I watch it), I began to wonder aloud if these fairy-tale friendships are not much more than that--an ideal that would be wonderful in a perfect world, but is not a realistic expectation. I have friends, but after watching these kind of movies, I am always left with this incredibly deep sense of aloneness, as if there is some hole I have that is missing some crucial piece. Is it unrealistic to keep hoping and praying for a seabiscuit friend? A kite runner? A friend who would die for me? It is easy for me to look at anyone else and point out that they have those kind of friendships, but I wonder if, deep down, we all really feel like we're missing something. I would argue that everyone at some point has been let down by a friend. That everyone has been alone in an hour of need. That our kites have drifted away with no one to run them for us. There have been times that I thought I'd found that friend, that someone, that I really connected with and they liked me for who I am, and I liked them for who they were, only to find that after a time they didn't like me anymore. I was left wondering what it was I did or said that was wrong and to pick up my end of the pieces and attempt to move on.

I like to think that my friends can read my face so well that I can no longer hide my feelings, and at further prompting, I would tell them everything, and they would have time to listen, but real life isn't a movie. Children interrupt conversations, things are misunderstood or misinterpreted, or we are so different that we don't understand one another. Unlike The Mighty, I don't have an exclusive relationship with a genious who is also a social outcast, lacking the one thing that only I can provide.

Am I a fool to hope that this kind of relationship actually exists beyond the screen? Am I just playing my fairy-tale dream of having a fairy godmother and a pumpkin-turned-carriage every time I put one of these movies in?

Does anyone really have a seabiscuit friend? Maybe it's just the fact that I've had so many of those "climax" moments go by. Maybe it's that I've thought I've connected with certain people only to find that I really hadn't or that with a move of mine; whether to another state or town, the friendship "moved on" as well.

I am praying and trying to find my role in friendships and to be the kind of friend I want. If I make a mistake, big or small, I want forgiveness. If someone is telling me something that I'm not interested in but they are passionate about, I need to truly listen and try to understand, not glance at my watch or "gotta run!" If I want someone to laugh or cry with, I need to be one that is safe to laugh and cry with. These are all things I have learned from struggling, failed or good friendships. I need to be the first to forgive if an offense is made. If someone has a problem with something I am doing or saying, I want them to talk to me, not hear about it from the "grape-vine." But, I must first be careful with my speech before I expect anyone else to be careful with theirs.

I think of the Michael Card song, "Why" and it speaks of pain and betrayal and that Jesus knows exactly what I am feeling. God is there. And maybe, just maybe, He is whispering to me, "for you, a thousand times over."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Eating Rice and Beans

So we decided to join in the Eat Beans and Rice for a Month challenge, and tonight was the first night. Having 4 children makes it a bit more complicated in the taste bud arena. I'll get to that in a moment.

We are joining for several reasons,

1. We support in prayer the Schilperoorts (sp?). We have a passion for Africa and for the work they are doing there.

2. We want to educate our children about other countries and cultures and expose them to different ways of life.

3.We want to join our brothers and sisters in Jesus and eat like them for a month.

4. It'll save a lot of money and we want to donate it to Lahash International.

You can view the main blog at

Everyone did better than expected. We started out by showing the kids a map of Africa and then showed them several other countries where rice and beans are a main staple. I asked them what animals are found in Africa. I got everything from giraffes, to bulls, to scorpions, to lions and so on. I was surprised at what they acctually knew.

Then I dropped "the bomb." "They even eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!" Jaws dropped, and the look of incredulation was hilarious. You'd have thought I'd told them they eat slugs 3 times a day.

I was proud of them though. Everyone but Good Lookin' ate everything in their bowl. Nater Mater of course liked it. He loves rice and beans. Then again, he'll eat just about anything...including bugs off the floor.

I also served cheese quesedillas with their meal (except Mr. Smiley who can't have cheese. He ate a half a pbj). I figured they couldn't go completely hungry and the only rule was they had to take at least one bite. A rule at our house is, "try it before you don't like it." What got Precious Jewel and Mr. Smiley to eat all theirs was a promise of a piece of Valentine's candy after their meal. A little bribery goes a long way.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the month goes.