Thursday, September 30, 2010

A New Day (TTT143)

Yesterday was insane. I woke up at 7. I was supposed to get up at 6. School starts at 7:50. My house was a scene of mayhem. I was surprised and relieved when I managed to get the kids to school on time.

Wednesdays are early release days. I told the kids on Tuesday that they would have to clean their room on Wednesday. It should have taken 30 minutes tops. It was a long afternoon. They started at 1. There were bouts of wrestling (not the playful kind), crying and tattling on each other. At 4, I told them that they had until 5 to finish the room or else there'd be a punishment. Motivation and determination followed my speech and they finished by 4:30.

Last night was Back-to-School Night. All 3 boys were excited about me visiting their classroom. It was insane. I had to make it to 3 classrooms (with an extra speech for the 4th graders in the cafeteria) in an hour. We made classroom fly-bys. I didn't get much out of it but the kids were happy I made to it each of their classes.

After the kids got in bed, I tried to relax. But, something happened and I ended up in tears.

Pure exhaustion.

And then I had to do the dishes.

It was one of those days.

But, ya know, I woke up this morning ready to face a new day.

"Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
Lamentations 3:22-24

I am thankful for today.

I'm focusing on the little joys of my day today:
  • listening to my boys laugh at breakfast
  • coffee
  • a great talk with a friend
  • laughing at and with my daughter
and on and on the list will grow as I go through my day...

Have a great Thursday and take time to appreciate how you've been blessed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Driving with the Parking Brake On

A few months back, I had a terrible habit of forgetting to release my parking brake. I would get just a tiny bit out of the driveway and realize my car was moving too slow. I would back out of a parking place at the grocery store, start to pull forward and realize my brake was still on.

The worst times were when I didn't realize my car was driving sluggish until I went a few blocks.

Driving with a parking brake on is bad for a car. It not only slows the car's speed, damage can be done to the car.

You can't put words back in your mouth once they come out.

Recently, I've heard this truth portrayed a variety of ways.

  • When you pull a tooth, you can't put it back in your mouth.
  • When you pull all of the leaves off a branch, you cannot put them back on. Even if you tape them, the leaves aren't really a part of the branch any more.
  • If you squeeze all of the toothpaste out of the tube, you cannot put it back in.

These simple illustrations have reminded me to be slow to speak.

My heart cries:

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14.

But what about when I'm hurt by words from others?

Often enough, I go through my days sluggishly with the hurtful words (or my perceived opinion) of another weighing me down.

I know so many people that are hurting due to the actions or words of others.

The flip side of the "watch what you say" admonishment is: "watch what you take to heart."

When I let the words of others tear my self esteem down or hurt my feelings, I fail to appreciate the goodness in my life. I cannot see past the pain and be thankful.

When I accept hurtful words from someone else, I essentially lift up a brake and slow myself down emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I may just seem to be having a hard time having a good attitude, but in truth, I am taking on a weight that is doing internal damage.

It's so easy to let other people affect me.

I had to encourage my son tonight after some other kids said hurtful things to him. I wanted him to realize that pressing on without taking the words to heart is what's best. But, the words hurt. Kids can be so mean...

And so can adults.

I want to submerge myself in this practice- even when other people don't know there's an issue:

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against each other. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13

I want to live without the unnecessary weight of unkind words. I want to live as if I am driving and I don't have to put on the parking brake when unkind words and actions fly at me.

I'm not sure I will ever fully achieve this. I do believe the more I can do this, the less anxiety I will feel. The less I take harmful words to heart, the more I can cultivate a thankful spirit.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Phillippians 4:6

Monday, September 27, 2010

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday is just what this blog needs.
Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

1. Dinner. I tried two new recipes tonight and they were both incredible. Oh my. I've been trying to cut back on sweets. I ever forwent a Starbucks this afternoon when I had the chance and opted for water. But, tonight, Paula Deen single handedly defeated all of my healthy efforts in one meal.

2. Christmas. I don't shop much. It seems I don't get out much. Anyway, I had to go to Target today to get a prescription filled and there were shelves full of Christmas lights and Christmas decorations. Christmas? Really? It's still September. Has this been happening for years?

3. Student of the Month. My 2nd son was Student of the Month for his class in September. I am super proud of him. I have to admit, I was surprised. Oh, I know he's amazing. He surprises me all of the time with his academic ability. But, he's a talker (like his dad). That's why his award surprised me.

4. Sweet Tea. It goes really well with Paula Deen recipes.

5. Birthdays. I am super, super bad at dates. It's ironic. I love celebrating birthdays and special events. However, I am really bad at time management, planning ahead to shop and mail gifts. I'm feeling bad because I've missed so many birthdays this year... mainly all 1000 of my family and friends that don't live near me. (yes, yes, I know... not 1000. But it feels like I've missed 1000 birthdays.) I started thinking about this today at Target when I realized how behind on shopping I am and... apparently Christmas shopping is right around the corner-from the Halloween candy.

6. I don't know. Some well-meaning, wonderful people have asked how I am doing. I don't know. I really don't know how to answer that question. I am trudging along, making it through each day. I've been more stressed than normal. I'm sure that's normal.

7. Saturday is a big day. For the Tide. We play Florida. I'm already anticipating watching the game.

8. Multitasking is difficult. Last Saturday, I was trying to watch 2 kids play soccer (same time, different fields), keep tabs on a roaming 2 year old and busy 7 year old, AND check the score of the Alabama football game. Seriously, getting the Bama's behind scores about did me in. Thankfully, Alabama pulled that one out in the end.

9. Pushups. Make my arms really sore.

10. Kissing. Kissing is a funny topic for my boys these days. I overhead my 5 year old telling his brothers what he wanted to be when he grew up. He followed that right up with, "I am not going to kiss when I am a grown-up." I laughed so hard. I asked him why and he said, "because it's yucky". Of course, my 7 year old son said, "I think you'll like it." Meanwhile, my 9 year old was pretending to throw up.

11. Grocery List. I've got to go make a grocery list now.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Treasuring Every Minute

My daughter's slowly adjusting to her brothers all being in school. It is the cutest thing ever.

She brought her lunch box with her when we went to pick up her brother from the first day of Kindergarten. She's brought it with her most days. Sometimes I put a small snack in it, which really makes her smile.

On the second morning, she insisted on bringing "my backpack" and she really wanted to go to the lineup time before school. She really, really wanted to line up next to her brother.

When the kids went in to the school, she said, "I go to class! I'm a big girl."

The lunch box and backpack have joined us in the car for dropoff and pickup each day. This morning she wanted her lunch box. I told her I didn't have a lunch ready for her so she happily put her blanket and stuffed dog ("Baba" and "Doggie) in her backpack.

It's so hard to wait to be big... but this Momma is going to treasure every minute of this age.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank #142

Is it really Thursday night? Oh my! What a week! You know, when you are single parenting, life with 4 kids feels like a circus. I am looking forward to the weekend (and *sigh* so are the boys because they aren't allowed to play video games during the week anymore). Oh, another thing, when you are with kids most of the time, you tend to ramble any chance you get... apparently that includes on this here blog. I might write a bunch of this and that- a whole bunch of nothing. Of course, I might not make it through the list. I sat down on the couch and suddenly I am very sleepy.

If you happened to have just dropped by, every Thursday I make a thankful list. Most of the time I post some of my list. Sometimes I just focus on one or two things from my list. And, there are times where I post a pictorial list. No matter how I post it, Thursdays are days for me to spend extra time focusing on thankfulness.

Here's this week's thankful list:

1. A good dentist appointment for my son: He ran into a tree holding a nalgene water bottle in his mouth. The day it happened, his mouth was a mess (oh, it looked so painful). But, the dentist appointment was good. His teeth are okay. Now we watch and pray for a lack of infection.
2.Transparency: I had an opportunity to chat with a friend this week. I enjoyed good conversation and honesty.
3. One-on-one time with my kids: I'm employing a new method for one-on-one time with my kids. It's just been this week- but every day one-on-one time with my kids is priceless!
4. Great start to Kindergarten for my 3rd son: He's enjoying each day. It's refreshing to hear him excited about his day.
5. "The Challenge of the Disciplined Life": I'm reading this book. I'm not too far in but it's... challenging me.
6. Rules: Yes. I am thankful for rules. I'm liking the order of our school days more and more. I'm enjoying the effects of new school time rules (like no video games during the week).
7. Rules: Yep, again. I am focusing on the 1st Commandment this week. I've decided to memorize the commandments (and I've started it with my oldest). They shouldn't be hard to memorize. What's hard is applying the intent to my daily life. This week, I'm on #1 (Have no other gods before me). This quote by John Wesley has been riveting to me this week: "Whatever is loved, feared, delighted in, or depended on, more than God, that we make a god of."
8. Phone calls. I tend to miss calls. (**Hey sis, I really wanted to call you back today.) I appreciate each call. This week each friend (and family member) that has called has made a significant difference in my day. (Oh, and email... thank you for checking in on me.)
9. Impromptu playdates: Back to the dentist appoint- That day, a friend emailed to see if my oldest could spend time with her son after school. Then, I checked with another friend (who happened to live in the same neighborhood) and my daughter went for a playdate. Both middle boys had dentist appointments. I've never been so grateful for the ability to listen and talk to another adult (the dentist) without interruption (from the 2 year old- not so much the 9 year old). Those 2 playdates were arranged that morning and they really, really blessed me!
10. The Gift of Time. Twice this week, I had friends take my daughter while the boys were in school. The first time I went grocery shopping alone. The 2nd time, I didn't work on a to-do list. I just had time for myself. Tremendous gifts. I am so thankful.
11. Music. It's relaxing. It's therapeutic. And, sometimes, it's the only thing that gives me enough energy to get the dishes done at night.

I hope you've had a fantastic week so far! Take time to be thankful. It's worth it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes!

He was very excited to go to school with his brothers and he had a great first day of Kindergarten!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

On Facades, Emotions, and being Genuine

It's late. I might should hold off writing because I am tired. I cannot stop thinking about facades.

People hide.

I've been hiding. I mean, seriously, before my post about debt, who knew I was constantly weighed down by the burden of debt?

How many people seem happy but are struggling?

Lonely people are all around me. I am sure of it.
People struggle with insecurities.
Some people regret decisions.
Many just don't like the situation they are in but don't know what to do about it.
For some, there's not much that can be done. They are hurting and they have to endure the pain.

Why do we insist on a guise of strength?

I watched a father walk with his two young sons away from elementary school on Friday. They seemed happy. He's battling cancer. There's no pretense on their part. However, many people around that day had no idea.

It just made me think.

If God only gives us what we can handle, why is it that some things seem unbearable?

Perhaps it is because we do not know how we are supposed to handle things.

We all struggle. I'm struggling.

I am going to be more honest- with myself and others.
I am going to be more open to change. I know I need to change.
I am going to be weak. I am going to depend on God. I am going to pray more.
I am not going to mask my failures.
I am going to try to be real.
I'm going to go deeper in my relationships.

I know one thing- it's gonna hurt. It already does.

Today, my son got hurt at soccer practice. In the middle of the chaos of talking to another parent, some paramedics that just happened to be there, and a dentist on the phone, my 2 year old daughter wandered off without me realizing it. When I realized she was gone, some friends took off searching for her. And, when they brought her to me, I let my emotion show. I surprised myself. I don't like being vulnerable. I usually keep emotions to myself. At best, I share them with my spouse.

I am tired of hiding.
I want others to know me. I wish I were the person I want to be. I am not. I am going to stop pretending.

In the process of becoming more genuine, I am going to look a little closer at others, listen a little better, and pay attention to details.

Authenticity is what I'm after- with myself and my relationships with others and God.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Food on Fridays: Sweet Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I'll call this my new recipe "I'm stunned" moment. I picked out a recipe last week when I was hurriedly making the grocery list. I randomly found the recipe here: Hillbilly Housewife.

I thought, "Pulled pork? That sounds good and I bet my oldest will want it in his lunch." Then, I made sure I had the ingredients and that was that.

Enter Wednesday morning... I'm putting the ingredients in the crockpot, thinking "Wow, this could be really spicy."

Then, at dinner time, I grabbed some sunbutter and crackers as a standby because I was sure that the kids would not like the pork sandwiches. They had flavor alright. They were bursting with it.

I was stunned.

My oldest had 2 sandwiches and said, "Lunch is going to be awesome tomorrow!"
Both of the other boys finished their sandwiches as well. They did request a bit more to drink than usual but they all said they liked it...a lot.

My oldest had 2 sandwiches for dinner, then had it in his lunch and requested it for dinner tonight.

I am still stunned.

This is a great recipe, especially if you like a little spice.

Sweet Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches

1 (5 lb.) pork should roast or butt roast

dry rub:
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 small yellow onions cut into large wedges

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Put the onions in the crockpot first. Blend dry rub ingredients with fork and gently press and rub over the pork roast. The put the pork roast in the crockpot on top of the onions.

In a glass bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients until smooth.

Pour 1/2 the sauce mixture over the pork roast in the crockpot, coating the meat well. (Store the remaining 1/2 of the sauce mixture in the refrigerator for later.)
Cover the crockpot and set on LOW temperature. Cook, undisturbed, for 8 to 9 hours.

Remove the meat from the crockpot to a platter and shred with a fork. Pick the onion out from the crockpot and discard. Return the shredded meat to the crockpot, add the sauce mixture you refrigerated earlier to the crockpot and stir to combine well. Put cover back on crockpot and let heat through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Keep warm and serve on hearty buns. You can make another small batch of the sauce to serve alongside the sandwiches if you wish. Just heat the sauce in a pan for about 15 minutes on low, then pour into a serving bowl with a ladle.

Note: because of the (quite tasty) intense spice to the sauce, I just drained the sauce and served the meat on the buns. The meat was still well coated and soaked in the sauce. Oh! And 3 of us thought the sandwiches were really good with dill pickles.

(Ok, this isn't a great picture. At that point in the evening, I was in get-the-food-on-the-table-because-the-kids-are-cranky-hungry-mode.)

Be sure to check out more tasty recipes at Ann Kroeker's "Food on Fridays".

Thursday Thanks Tank #141

I'm listening to the sound of two rambunctious super heroes fight bad guys. It's loud here. There's also a little girl chasing them saying, "Wait for me guys!" and "What about me, boys?" My house is full of sound effects and flying nerf bullets. I am safe. I am smiling. It's wonderful.

The first thing I am thankful for this Thursday is: Imagination.

I am also thankful for:

1. Rainbows.
2. Friends that call just to say hi.
3. A friend that watched my kids so I could be in my son's class the first day of school
4. Peace that I am making good (albeit hard) decisions
5. Exercise
6. Sleep
7. New recipes
8. Friends that are taking my oldest to and from soccer practice
9. College football season
10. My new calendar
11. A great first 2 days of school for my oldest 2 kids
12. My IPOD
13. My babysitter being available last minute when I needed her
14. Emails

This is just little glimpse of my thankful heart. I am thankful for much, much more. I am sure you have much to be thankful for, too. Take time to appreciate the big and small things in your life. You will benefit from it.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Peanut Free Snack and Treat List for School

A few days ago I grabbed my pencil, highlighter and paper and walked aisle by aisle through Wal-mart. I was making my list and checking it twice. I had last year's peanut-free snack list in hand. It was tedious. It was a bit discouraging. It was well-worth it.

My son's teacher is going to share the lists with parents in my son's class. Then, the food that is brought in for the class- whether it is for a snack, candy for a holiday, or food for a birthday party- will be checked by me. The list gives parents something to use when shopping. It is a helpful tool. I am still responsible (and happily so) for checking the safety of the food for my peanut allergic son.

Here are the lists:
(click on them to see a readable image)

If you are interested in these documents, email me or comment with your email address and I can email an editable version to you.

These peanut-free snack lists are a wonderful way to assist other parents that are not used to paying attention to food allergies. I want to be pro-active. That works for me.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My Star

He is my "shining star" and my "all-star". His favorite song as a toddler was "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star".

I should probably call him my "Morning Star". He is often up before he sun. He is an Early Riser. Figures! He was born 5 weeks early.

I consider him my miracle baby. My husband believes that one of us wouldn't have made it if his birth had occurred years ago. He's probably right. My son was a NICU baby. He was born via emergency c-section. He was weak. His lungs weren't ready to be on their own. He spent a year in physical therapy. I still look at him sometimes and marvel that he is such a strong boy.

I pray for his health constantly. He's my asthmatic, allergic son. His food allergy scares me. His seasonal allergies frustrate me. His asthma bothers me. He is a strong kid that constantly overcomes lots of obstacles.

He is my tenderhearted child. He likes to make other people happy. Out of all my kids, he is the one that will default to someone else in a fight. He will give up what he really wants to avoid seeing someone else upset. (He sometimes really regrets that.) For his birthday, he asked me, "What do you want me to have?" He's like that. He's a people pleaser. I pray that he will learn contentment regardless of what others say and do.

He's not only tenderhearted for others, he's sensitive. His heart breaks easy. He doesn't need much a punishment when he disobeys. His spirit can be crushed by a harsh word. I pray that his sensitivity will grow with him and allow him to be an extremely caring man.

He is a social kid. He's a talker. Not too long ago, I went on a bike ride with just him. He talked the whole way. We stopped off and on just because he was talking so much. He told me once, "Momma, I'm a question asker." His middle name could be "inquisitive". He also takes everything literal. I have to watch my words around him. He doesn't look for the meaning or interpretation in my instructions. He takes me at my word. I pray that this will make him a man of honesty.

I am thankful for David. He fills my heart with joy and encourages me to love others to the fullest.

Happy 7th Birthday, David!