Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mr. Nobody

Mr Nobody
I know a funny little man,
As quiet as a mouse,
Who does the mischief that is done
In everybody's house!
There's no one ever sees his face,
And yet we all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
By Mr. Nobody.
'Tis he who always tears our books,
Who leaves the door ajar,
He pulls the buttons from our shirts,
And scatters pins afar;
That squeaking door will always squeak
For, prithee, don't you see,
We leave the oiling to be done
By Mr. Nobody.
He puts damp wood upon the fire,
That kettles cannot boil;
His are the feet that bring in mud,
All the carpets soil,
The papers always are mislaid,
Who had them last but he?
There's no one tosses them about
But Mr. Nobody.
The finger marks upon the door
By none of us are made;
We never leave the blinds unclosed,
To let the curtains fade.
The ink we never spill, the boots
That lying 'round you see
Are not our boots; they all belong
To Mr Nobody.
---author unknown
Isn't this just about the truth?!?!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Break 2011

This last week Precious Jewel and Mr. Smiles had a whole week off of school for Spring Break. They have to go to school several Saturdays due to all that snow we had in February but that's for a different post.

We left late on Saturday evening and drove the 9 hours north to where I grew up in the Midwest.

I had not been home for any length of time since my first year of college 14 years previous.

We made it at 2:30am and just in time to go to bed for a few hours and then get up for church with my family.

The reason we pushed to get there by Sunday morning was to see my dear niece being baptized. She has been raised in a closed country over-seas where my brother and his wife taught English, so this public baptism meant a lot to the whole family in many ways. It was so neat to be able to be "home" in the church I had grown up in and to see all the amazing changes that are taking place.

The next day we drove out to the land that my brother and sister-in-love have recently purchased. It had an OLD OLD farmhouse on the property with a couple of barns and other outbuildings and such. It stood in stark contrast to the hundreds and thousands of acres of farmland that surrounded the old place. Everything there is flat flat flat. Where we live it's hills, and low mountains, and trees upon trees upon trees!

They live in perfect crop farming country, but apparently their little plot of land has the annoying little creek that runs through it and makes in difficult for farm machinery. So it's considered useless for farming.

That is, unless you want a little piece of paradise plunked down in the middle of nowhere.

It seemed a throwback with the creek and the old buildings to the Banks of Plum Creek book by Laura Ingals Wilder The house hadn't been lived in in about 20 years and it looked as if whoever lived there previously had just gotten up and left one day. They found all kinds of stuff on the property. My sister-in-love showed me around and it was like treasure hunting.
Old Tractors,

Barns with numerous 'skylights,'

sinks and a claw foot tub

doll carriages,

shelves and old cupboards

This tractor hadn't been moved in so long that a small tree had grown up right through it!
Old machinery
2 old potbellied stoves!
and they' dug a small pond to build the foundation of the house they are going to build after they tear down the old one.
the kids spent a long time running around, climbing trees, digging in the dirt and sand and pretending
It was country paradise!

The next day I got to go to my youngest brother's first ever track meet. It was so fun to see him run and all these other kids that i had babysat like 15 years ago. I'd last seen most of them as toddlers and preschoolers!

I am officially old!

After that day, it got cold!
We spent most of the rest of the week indoors playing with toys and reading books and playing games.

I think this was the same old wooden shoe that i grew up with.

Either way, it provided a great energy outlet for Good Lookin'

We had a girls day shopping on Wednesday and that night my brother and his family and our family and my dad all went to the circus in the town next to us.

It was seriously the best circus I'd ever been too!

I didn't have any decent pictures because my camera hates the indoors unless the subject is standing totally statue still.

I took my niece and Precious Jewel to this cute little tea place downtown.
they had a dress-up corner where you could pick out things to wear for your Tea Time.
All 3 of us giggled and laughed changing hats, earrings, gloves and scarves multiple times.
One is never to old for dress-up!

The morning we left it snowed a couple of inches!

We arrived home in time to spend 2 days with Luke's Aunt and Uncle from Arizona and his cousin from England who had flown in for the weekend.
She has 2 adorable little of whom is just 6 weeks older than Nater Mater.
All-in-all it was a great Spring Break with family and friends.

Monday, March 14, 2011

You Flushed What?

My dear Good Lookin' pulled a stunt yesterday that had me nearly on the floor in tears and laughter. Tears from the large plumbing bill and laughter from realizing just what a "boy" he was being.

He and his little pal J are nearly inseparable (except when they are angry and then they intentionally say things like, "you're not my best friend today, or I'm not sitting by you for lunch). I thought only girls did that, but apparently boys do too. Even at the age of 3 and 4, the fear of rejection is a powerful manipulation tool. But I digress.

Little J came running excitedly up our stairs to where I was changing his brother Little S's and Nater Mater's diapers. Those 2 seem to have the same eating and poop schedule. i can nearly set my clock that between 10 and 11am, I'm gonna be cleaning off someone's little keaster.

I had just plopped the second squirming and giggling toddler onto the floor with the other one excitedly squealing in his oh-so-cute and squeeky voice, "It's gonna be gwoss!" when Little J came a'runnin."

"It flushed Miss Linda! It flushed!!"

I quickly cleaned up toddler #2, slapped on a new diaper, showed him his poo (they always beg to see what gift they've deposited either in their diaper or in the toilet) and then pulled up his pants... all the while trying to process Little J's "It flushed!" statement.

I thought maybe he had used the toilet and had flushed his own little prize down the toilet. He had only been fully potty trained for about a month after all. Going poop in the potty is a big deal in this house. We do a full on potty dance for the little victor who has transitioned from diapers to underwear. Treats are pulled out! Songs are sung! After all, that is one less diaper I have to change. Doing their little duty in the toilet is a cause for real celebration!

But then again, I'm still helping both he and Good Lookin' with the whole bathroom clean-up process. So, I had to ask, "What flushed J? Did you go to the bathroom all by yourself?!"

"No!" was his excited reply. "The puppy flushed!"

Now thank goodness we don't have any real live puppies because at this point I might have passed out from sheer panic.

"Ummmm......hmmmmm what puppy? Do you mean poopy?" (they kinda' sound the same coming from an even-very-articulate 3-year-old.

"No, Miss Linda! The puppy!"

Now I am a little puzzled. I am pretty sure our yellow lab wouldn't allow herself to be stuffed in the toilet no matter how tasty toilet water looks. (and that bathroom had not been scrubbed in a couple of weeks because it's a full-time job keeping up with the other two in a house full of boys. Boys just don't aim well. You'd think they could hit a toilet, but if they at all lose focus, I have found pee gracing the walls, the sides of the tub and even up above the toilet).

I took the 2 giddy toddlers hands and asked Little J to show me what he meant.

He leads us down the stairs to the basement bathroom to where Good Lookin' is guiltily and gleefully jumping up and down and clapping his hands. Once again I was greeted by, "It flushed mommy! It flushed!"

This time i ask Good Lookin' what had flushed. He could hardly contain his excitement. "My puppy wanted to swim mommy! We helped him swim! We flushed him down the toilet!"

Now my concern was two-fold:

1. Did they really do that? I mean they are old enough to know better. Every one of my kids has gotten into trouble numerous times as toddlers for putting strange objects into the porcelain bowl, but Good Lookin' hadn't done anything in over 2 years that i could remember. I've confiscated and thrown out a number of toothbrushes from the other 3 toddlers in our home, but not from Good Lookin'.

I turned again to Little J, "did you two really do that?"


2. The toilet was clogged. I tried flushing it again. The water gurgled up and over the rim of the toilet onto the floor. Ugh.

Then it struck me how funny this whole thing was!

They were truly excited. Honestly and truly gleeful that they had given Good Lookin's little dog a swimming lesson and then helped him see what was down those pipes. I mean what child doesn't wonder where it all goes? They have given their little dog that chance and in one sense gotten to partake in his adventure.

I had a terrible time keeping a straight face as I marched the 2 up the stairs and to their respective time-out locations. I think I terrified them with my shaking voice (when I was trying desperately not to laugh) sternly telling them that under no circumstances where they to move from their spots and I was going in search of daddy who was home that day and working in the shop.

I mean, you'd never catch a little girl flushing her beloved stuffed animal or doll down a toilet to teach them to swim! Dolls and stuffed animals don't find a sense of adventure down the same pipe as poop when it comes to the female species.

No one was allowed to use the toilets for the rest of the day (of which all the male species of our house were delighted to grace the trees instead) and I was thanking my lucky stars I had not drunk that much coffee that morning.
Needless to say, the plumber had to be called, the toilet pulled up and the pipe snaked back through our basement wall.

The very disgusting puppy was rescued and promptly thrown away much to the horror of an older brother, and two little boys were very clearly instructed that the only thing that is ever flushed down the pipes is poop.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Making a Difference

With us eating rice and beans every night for dinner this month, I have been trying to figure out more ways to expose my kids to other cultures.

This was after a dinner conversation that was sparked by one of the LAHASH videos featuring a little boy who was saying "thank you" for the food that was given him this last year. He could now eat 3 meals a day. My kids were a little slack-jawed when I pointed out that 3 meals a day now means that he ate less than 3 meals a day before.

I had had a complaint formally filed against me that very afternoon for having the same old same old snacks after school again. They wanted something new and interesting.

"Did those kids who were finally getting their 3 meals a day get a snack option after school?" Do you think they even had a snack after school let alone something to pick and choose from?"

I was answered with wide eyes, shaking heads and silence.

I don't want this month to be about shoving it down their throats; that they "have to get it."

I think the little boy smiling at them from the computer and talking from the other side of the world and saying "thank you" with a giggle and smile was more impacting to my kids than "eat your rice and beans because there are other little children starving in Africa who would be glad to have them" speech.

I can remember my mother trying to get a point across at me and quoting Bible verses to me. I'd be doing a "lalalalalal" in my head and tuning her out. I'm sure I've already done the same thing to my own kids.

Something eventually got through but the things that were most impacting were the life lessons the put in front of us without preaching. I'm trying to make my own motto: "Say a few words and then sit down and shut up." Let the Holy Spirit do His work and get out of the way already!

It was the people they had in our home from all over the world (literally) that opened my eyes to what other cultures and peoples were like. The spices and scents of others cooking in my mother's kitchen were one way to expand my Midwestern palate. "Sea Weed anyone?" It's really yummy wrapped around rice and sushi!

I didn't always like the situations, food, or even the people that came into our home, but my parents taught us to respect and appreciate other cultures. I wish now that I could go back to my "superior Junior High mind days" and change my attitude towards some of them.

Then my parents gave me wings to visit some of the places and I left pieces of my heart behind longing to go back and make a difference somehow.

This month eating simply and standing in solidarity sharing with those who truly cannot afford even the basics I can make that difference with my entire family.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Culteral Diversity

I was thinking about my family this week and how I and my children are so blessed. We don't have to fly to a different country to see someone different than us and beautiful. We just have to visit family.

My heart is beginning to long to adopt again. I've sort of stuffed it down deep in the recesses knowing it was there like the little child who'd been left behind and crying for someone to come back for them.

I've given the excuses of new marriage, new baby within the 1st year of marriage. Move within the first year of baby. 3 job changes between my husband and I within that first year. House payments, diapers. Another new baby within the year after the first and before our 3rd Anniversary. Another job change. Another new baby and bed rest and then move and then so on and so on. Add in another baby after that another move, another job change and we're into 9 years of marriage and the topic of adoption has bounced back and forth between Luke and I, but I've said, "no!" I can't take any more right now!

Then there is this crazy mom on facebook who likes Luke's cousins who work at World Orphans (who have also adopted) who keeps posting stuff on adoption and foster care (which we've also talked about), and I'm beginning to feel inundated...but in a good way.

Following me? I'm not sure I even am.

My brother adopted a sweet adorable, highly intelligent precious little fireball from China. My brother married my sweet Sister-in-Love from Mexico and they have the most adorable little children. Both countries and families are represented in the above picture.

(He's the oldest and was just as "enthusiastic" about re-enacting the Christmas story as Precious Jewel).

My kids were privileged to meet their new cousins from Ethiopia this summer and then to get to play with them a second time in the late Fall. Abigail fell in love with them all.

We also have cousins from the Philippines and an Uncle from Vietnam who I can't get the pictures of to load.

I think my kids are blessed to have the best family in the world.

Monday, March 7, 2011

And...this is what they think about THAT

It is taking a little cheerleading section for some of us to eat this month.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 3 of Rice and Beans

"Then Jesus said to his host, 'When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'" (NIV)

I am loving the booklet LAHASH published this year for their Rice and Beans month. Either I didn't get last years or they didn't have one. It is basically a 30-day devotional to read together as a family. It is helping both Luke and I and then I when Luke is gone for diner (about half the time) to keep putting in front of the kids (and myself) the reason we are eating rice and beans for a solid month.

I read (paraphrasing) the adult portion for Luke and I and then read the kids their portion. The kids portion jumped out and me and ran over me with more force than what I had read for Luke and I.

"Giving someone a present, sharing your lunch with a classmate, or letting someone take a first turn are all nice things we can do for our friends. They will probably say "Thank you!" or even share with you the next time. But what if someone doesn't say "Thank you," or they don't have enough to share with you? Doing nice things for those people is a lot harder, because you might not get anything back. But Jesus tells us to love everybody, especially people who are not able to do anything nice for us. It might be hard, but Jesus said if we love everyone, He will reward us with incredible riches in Heaven!" --Rice and Beans Booklet

I have felt many times in my 9 years of marriage like I couldn't reach out to help or minister to someone because I simply couldn't afford to. I couldn't cook a meal for a friend because frankly, I barely had the funds to feed our growing family. I couldn't go out with a friend for coffee because I was embarrassed to say that I couldn't afford the $2.00 cup of coffee. I couldn't support the missionary friends who I wanted to because most months we were barely scraping together the money to pay rent or a house payment.

I felt the Health, Wealth and Happiness Gospel screaming it's happy self into my puckering and confused face that if I just believed harder, had more faith, spoke the right words, went to church enough times, read my Bible 3 hours a day, spoke a certain way, volunteered for every church and ministry opportunity that came my way that God would pour out His blessings on us and we'd have MORE MORE MORE. Usually that meant more money.

It's not happened. In fact, not much has changed financially in our 9 years of marriage, but I have seen God's pouring out of GRACE, MERCY, LOVE, TOGETHERNESS, PEACE, PATIENCE, and FAITHFULNESS in our marriage and family.

I have learned that when extra does come our way that it's OK and even FUN to give it away and BLESS someone else. "I have learned that time and service are just as important, if not more so than money. I have learned that a simple note or a warm loaf of home made bread, or a phone call touch hearts in profound ways.

I may not be able to afford to put my kids in soccer or gymnastics or ballet, or karate, or whatever is the thing for kids to do; however, I can afford my time to teach them that eating something as simple as Rice and Beans every night for dinner will truly impact someone else who is their age on the other side of the globe.

I hope, I pray that one day when they grow up that whatever their financial status: whether they be rich or poor, that they can reach out to others around them. That they will look beyond themselves and their circumstances and see the needs of others and give what they can give: Time, a Listening Ear, Money, an Act of Kindness, a Sacrifice of Self.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Feed the Hungry

It's that time of year again! We kicked off the 2nd Annual Challenge of... sponsored by LAHASH International.

"As the day winds to a close across East Africa, many of our partners and the people they serve will come home to a simple dinner. The charcoal stoves will glow in cool evening air that is filled with stories and laughter. One common meal is rice and beans. In homes made of mud, concrete, or tin, communities will gather and thank God for provision for another day." -Rice and Beans booklet

We want to do our part... This isn't just about Simplifying our diets or eating healthy. "This is standing in Solidarity with our brothers and sisters in East Africa who can only afford simple meals like rice and beans."
This is Sharing in a simple way by cutting back our excess to help feed our brothers and sisters who may otherwise go hungry at night.

Do my kids like this idea? Not so much, but hard things are caught and taught. They don't come naturally do selfish hearts.

The booklet wrote this for kids: "Many years ago God sent a man named Isaiah to tell the people of Israel a message. They were showing off while they fasted for a day. But at the same time were being mean, not sharing, and not obeying God. Do you ever do good things just to show off? God doesn't like it when people show off. He wants people who are honest, kind, and share with people even when others aren't watching. Today try to do good things even when people aren't watching you."
My kids still complained about dinner.

Then we showed them the video story of Sauda's Plate.
That silenced their grumbling. I choked up and had to stop eating even though this was my 4th or 5th time to see the video. Sauda is HIV-positive. Her mover died several years ago from HIV-related illness and her father went to another city to look for work.

They were spellbound.
Sauda is 14.
She lives alone.
Many nights she goes to bed hungry.
I pointed out to my children that the only time that they ever went to bed hungry was because they didn't LIKE dinner not because they didn't Have food to eat.
Sauda was just one child who was helped last year by the Rice and Beans Campaign.
We as a family are praying that double as many people will be helped this year.