Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 2, mucho betta.

As I had hoped, today went much more smoothly!  It was still long, but not nearly as long as yesterday. There is just a lot of work to get done, but it was fun and attitudes were great so that makes a huge difference!

One thing I have already noticed is how much more calm things seem.  You would think everyone being together all the time would be chaotic, but it's not.  Of course, I have prayerfully worked very hard to organize our school room and our daily schedule to make things as predictable as possible.  But it is the fact that the kids have a purpose for their time, not just running wild in the neighborhood or screaming in fake pain from the backyard because they got their feelings hurt.  (Not that mine ever do that.  Ahem.)  I am all about letting kids get good and bored, but there is a limit.  If the boredom is not fostering creativity, then it is time to be productive.  After two months of summer break, it was definitely time.

So they settled into their work easily today, big kids transitioning more smoothly from one task to another and littles rocking the phonics flashcards and math pages.  The three youngest were finished by noon, the older ones by 2:45.  Not bad for the second day!  We had lunch outside on the deck and even skipped out to buy flowers for a friend who is recovering from surgery...and I got a Diet Coke from Sonic so, really, that has put me in a happy place.  (I know they are bad for you.  I don't care anymore.) 

So, 2 days down...178 to go.  I'm feeling good about this year.  It looks like it may turn out to be our most productive one so far!  

1 Down, 179 to Go!

It was a little crazy in a calm sort of way.  Five kids gathered in the family room to read from the book of Luke, talk about how Jesus hung out with the tax collectors and sinners and why, and then begin our first read-aloud of the school year.  Legos clinked (loudly) and I read (more loudly) about Aiden and the Feechifolk.  Good stuff.

Then upstairs we went.  I took a deep breath as I looked around the room and it hit me.
I have five kids all doing at least four subjects this year.
Holy moly.  Deep breath, mama.  You can do this.  Well, actually you and Jesus.

Let's do this thing.

I got the oldest three settled with work that didn't require my constant attention then sat down with the first graders who were literally jumping in their chairs with anticipation.  "We're just so ess-I-ted, Mom!" gushed Drew.  He and Mari happily reviewed their phongram flashcards and then we dove into their math lesson. I've never seen them write their names so neatly!  Cute, cute, cute.

After they finished their core work, I gave them puzzles to keep them busy and turned my attention to the older kids.  Twenty minutes into third grade, Gracie declared, "Third grade is awesome!"  Science, History, Math, etc, new curriculum for some of these that will take getting used to by all of us.  It will be a few days before we really find our rhythm.  Today was long because it was all so new.  Transitions were not smooth, as they never are at the beginning.  I fumbled through folders and searched for that Teacher Guide that I just knew was right. there.  Where the heck did it go?  Finally I found it and was able to ask Katie the discussion questions over her summer reading.  The three youngest learned about bats in their first science lesson.  Boy, do they ever love bats now!  I think science will be a big hit for them this year.  DJ prepared for his tutorial that begins next week, Katie dove into Photosynthesis and we somehow talked about Cheops and the Great Pyramids late in the afternoon.

We did it.  We got through it all with only a couple of attitude adjustments and I even ate lunch at some point! We did it.  It is going to be an intense year, but when I get the two first graders reading well the intensity will lighten somewhat.  They are ripe for the pickin', so pumped about learning to read "all by themselves!"  It is going to be a wonderful, busy, full, year.  I am excited!

And I am tired.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A new year, a new plan

Five kids, four grades.  Sounds like a lot, doesn't it?
It is.
But to keep my sanity I just have to look around me at the mamas who are homeschooling 6,7,8 kids or more and they have all turned out normal.

Of course, normal is never guaranteed in our house.  But normal is boring. :)

I am often asked what curriculum we use for this and that, and I am quick to tell you that there is no "right" curriculum.  Our kids are all so different. They all move at their own paces and I just have to go with the flow and drink a lot of coffee.  :)

So, without further adieu, I present to you our tentative temporary i just hope we accomplish half of this schedule for the next two weeks year!

For my seventh grader we are using Easy Grammar Daily Grams, Rod and Staff English, Teaching Textbooks Math, Mavis Beacon Typing, and Expedition Earth Geography (carried over from last year).  My big guy will be attending a homeschool tutorial once a week where he will take Science, History through Literature, and Percussion Team (FUN!).

My sixth grader will do Easy Grammar Daily Grams, Learning Language Arts Through Literature, Teaching Textbooks Math, Mavis Beacon Typing, Expedition Earth Geography (carried over from last year), AOP Lifepac Science, and Beautiful Feet Ancient History through Literature (super excited about this one!).

My third grader, who has become a voracious reader (woot!) will be doing a full load of work...Easy Grammar Daily Grams, Learning Language Arts Through Literature, Kumon Cursive Handwriting workbooks, Mavis Beacon Typing (as time allows), Apologia Zoology 1 (carried over from last year), Daily Geography 3 (a fun workbook), and Beautiful Feet Early American History (she has already read her Abe Lincoln book because she couldn't wait!).

And, finally my first graders!  Wow, now this is my challenge...to get these two reading well and comfortable with primary math concepts.  They will get the first part of the day since their attention spans are the shortest. We will start their day with Calendar Time which teaches them, well, the calendar and math concepts such as counting money, place value, weather and seasons, etc.  Then we will work on All About Spelling Level 1, Horizons 1st Grade Math, Kumon Handwriting, and they will join their 3rd grade sister for Science and History.  I will also let them watch Magic Schoolbus and Liberty's Kids DVD's as time allows or to keep them occupied on rainy days.  We also have a mini trampoline in the Rec Room downstairs...worth it's wait in GOLD, I tell you!

Add to that a couple of tutoring sessions for areas in which a couple of the kids struggle, occupational therapy appointments, dance, gymnastics, soccer, music lessons, and basketball and you have a recipe for lots of productivity...or disaster.  It looks like so, so much when I write it all down here so I have to be realistic.

Is it possible to get it all done?  Nope.  No way.  But I pray we will get done what needs to get done.  I pray God will help us to cast aside the unnecessary and focus on what is important to their hearts and His future plans for them.  I always start the year with huge plans and a strict schedule but He streamlines us, simplifying as we go.  We will work diligently, but take breaks to play, relax, and rest.  We are starting a little early so that we can take off for birthdays and good-weather days.  It is going to be the most intense year of homeschooling so far and I know that we will only be successful if I am filled with the Holy Spirit and putting first things first.  My phone will be kept downstairs so that it's dings and beeps are not a distraction to any of us.  Scripture will be the centerpiece of our breakfast table and reading aloud in the comfort of our family room will be the delightful easing in to each day's work.

Speaking of read-alouds, after a family vote we decided to start our year by reading The Bark of the Bog Owl by Jonathan Rogers.  It seems my kids have a penchant for adventure!  No surprise there!  I love reading aloud to them and getting caught up in the story together.  The clinking of Legos, the scratching of a pencil drawing on notebook paper, the wide-eyed gasps when the story gets juicy all make me look forward to each new chapter.  What a blessing to spend these days together.  No matter how challenging or intense the coming years may be, I am so grateful that God called us to be home, learning together.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sex Trafficking-a post that is not for the faint of heart.

Did you know that the Super Bowl is the single largest human trafficking event in the United States?  source

Did you know that the average age of a sex trafficking victim is between 11 and 14 years old?  source

Did you know that children are trafficked out of or into the United States from all regions of the world and represent a variety of different races, ethnic groups and religions?
Yes, children are being smuggled into and out of our country.

And then there is this:

-The average life of a commercial sex slave is 7 years.  (They die of injury, disease, suicide, etc.)
-18,000 to 20,000 people are trafficked across our borders every single year.
-Runaways are at extremely high risk...33% will be sexually exploited withing 48 hours.  90% of runaways will ultimately end up in the commercial sex trade.   source  
Babies are born into the sex trade and "marked " in many cases with a tattoo of some kind.  Children as young as a year old are abused and raped and stripped of their humanity in order to serve the sick lusts of the enemy's minions.  

This is not just a "third world" problem.  It is here and it is rampant.  Pedophiles and pimps roam the streets...and the internet...for victims and our kids are at risk.  Poverty is a high risk factor, but kids from affluent homes, Christian homes, are enslaved and exploited every day.  Indeed, your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Pet. 5:8)

So what do we do?  The problem is huge.  Like the orphan crisis it seems too big to overcome.  But does that mean we do nothing?  Of course not.

So here are a few suggestions:

First of all, guard your babies.  Mamas, I know you enjoy showing off your kids on your blogs and Facebook.  I do too.  But did you know that a trafficker or pimp can easily lift photos of your kids off your blog and use them to advertise their "merchandise" on their websites?  If your blog is public, like mine, then you are at risk of having those cute pics of your two year old lifted and copied and sold.   That is why you will not see pictures of my children on this blog.  Be aware.  Make your photos private, for trusted friends and family ONLY.

Second, keep your eyes open.  In stores, at the public swimming pool, at the local gym.  Evil is everywhere and your girls and boys are being watched.  Do not let your boys go to the locker room in public recreational facilities alone.  Do not let your little boys go to the public restrooms alone.  My 6 year old son hates having to go to the womens' restroom, but if he is with mama and daddy isn't there to help he just has to deal.  I'm not letting my little boy line up at a wall of urinals with a bunch of grown men.  No. Way.

Third, educate your kids.  Teach them what is and is not OK or normal.  They need to know they can come to you and that you WILL NOT FREAK OUT.  You have to be a safe place for them to land.  You have to be calm.  And you have to be willing to believe them if something unthinkable happens.  They have to know you will believe them.  Tell them to trust their gut.  If they sense danger, then danger is present...period.  Don't be naive.

Fourth, look around.  Who are those people in the seedy motels, walking down the road but going nowhere? Who is helping them?  Find out.  Ask how you can get involved.  Can you foster parent a rescued child? Can you mentor a woman who is trying to come out of the sex trade and start over?  Can you serve food to the homeless?  You must realize that you will serve and wade through a lot of "takers" to get to the ones truly desperate for help. The desperate ones are rarely at the front of the food line. Talk to them.  Love them. Listen.  Watch those who are experienced in this type of ministry and learn how to be street smart (something I am not, but slowly learning).  Pray for deliverance, for Light to pierce the darkness, for those on the front lines ministering and serving and taking great personal risk to rescue that little girl and boy behind the filthy bed with the big scared eyes.

And pray.  Yes, I know I already mentioned that, but it deserves another shout!
    For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
This is a battle at the deepest spiritual level for the hearts of the broken, abused, and hopeless.  The spiritual warfare surrounding this type of ministry is unbelievable and exhausting.  Only God can set the captives free. We must be on our faces for the sake of His vulnerable ones, the orphan, the widow, the slave.  I believe it is our duty as the redeemed to seek the same redemption for them.  Set an alarm on your phone, write it on your calendar, make it part of your daily to-do list to pray for the victims and our brothers and sisters who are face-to-face in the trenches with them in a holy, spirit-led attempt to shine light into their darkness.  It is the least we can do.  

Isaiah 1:16-17
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17     learn to do good;
seek justice,
    correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow's cause.

And, finally, if you would like to know more read this:  The White Umbrella:  Walking with Survivors of Sex Trafficking by Mary Francis Bowley and Louie Giglio
Available at wellspringliving.org and amazon.com.
It will open your eyes.  It will break your heart.  It will bring you to your knees.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Please end the madness.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A God-sized need. Please read.

It was hot and the food line at the motel was shorter tonight.  Most people waited in their rooms for us to deliver their meals.  We broke into groups and spread out across the motel, arms loaded with white containers holding the only meal some of these families will eat all day...a hot dog, baked beans, a slice of cake, a packet of ketchup, and a spoon.

Because some of them do not own a spoon.

My group visited with the motel residents in our section and went back to the parking lot until Candy, the director of the ministry, returned with her group.  They had been gone for quite a long time when I saw Sara pull up in her van, papers in hand.  I knew what those papers meant.

Someone was relinquishing a child.

Several long minutes later there was Candy walking toward us, her face set with determination and purpose with a little boy on her hip and his older brother and sister following.  My heart broke when I saw the scared expressions on the faces of the children.  When they walked near to me I bent down to the little boy and he literally leapt into my arms and held on tight.


Arms and legs wrapped around me and he buried his sweet head in my neck as if he wished I could enfold him and make him disappear.

Tears rushed to my eyes and I forced them back, swallowing the lump in my throat.  I held this little angel tight and prayed over him as Candy and I walked back to the motel room where his mother sat in a daze.  There was another child, the oldest, talking to one of the other volunteers.  Four children under the age of seven living in indescribable poverty, their mama broken and hopeless and selling her body for twenty dollars to survive.  Four children in desperate need of a bath and attention and Jesus.

The little boy I held is five years old.  He held on to me for a solid hour.  I sat down on the concrete and rocked him back and forth while his three year old sister showed me her Barbie car and we pretended we were going to get donuts with sprinkles.  All this time their mama was signing papers, looking at us with sad eyes.  Empty eyes.

Oh, Jesus.

I whispered to the little boy, asking his name.  Then I said to him, "Can I tell you something?"  He looked up at me with beautiful sky-blue eyes.  Eyes filled with confusion and fear.

"You are gonna be ok.  Do you know why?"

He slowly shook his head.

"Because Jesus.  Loves.  You."

His eyes suddenly found their spark and he looked at me hopefully.  I noticed the freckles dotting his nose.

"Do you know who Jesus is?"  I said softly.  He nodded.

"Good,  because He loves you so much and He will always be with you.  You will never be alone, ok?  Jesus loves you."  He nodded again and rested his head back on my chest, relaxing.    I waited a few minutes and then asked again.

"Do you remember what I told you?"  Because I need to be sure this little boy knows this.  He looked at me, confused again.

"Who loves you, sweetheart?"

His face lit up again and he grinned wide as he said that name that is above every name.  The name at which every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.


Yes, Lord.

Another volunteer held his two year old brother and we kept the kids busy while Candy and her team ministered to their mother.  She walked out to the car to get something and the little girl pointed to her, telling me proudly that she is her mommy.  Finally, he got up from my lap and went into the filthy room to find a toy.  He began to smile and play and his little sister and I continued our make-believe game.

"Do you girls want to go get a hamburger?" I asked her Barbies.  She gasped with delight, "Oh yes!"

"With cheese and pickles and ketchup...and french fries!"  I said.

"Ooh, I love french fries!" she giggled.

Finally the time came for the children to leave.  Their mother kissed them and the two year old boy began to cry.  I helped Sara buckle them into their car seats and he began to wail.  "I want my mommy," he begged.  I kissed his sweaty forehead and prayed for...I don't even know.  I just prayed.  These babies, they love their mama.  Their broken, hopeless, used up mama.  Oh, Lord.  Only you can fix her.  Only you.

The children are safe now.  While they are away, their mama will have time to think.  Will you pray for her?  Pray for her to seek help so that she can find hope?  Pray for redemption in her life so that she can parent these babies?  And will you pray for this ministry...and give...because they are on the front-lines in the battle for the souls of the homeless and hopeless in our city.  Lives are being transformed, children are being rescued from neglect, abuse, and the sex trafficking trade.

Because you may not want to believe this if you live where I do, but our city is a hub for sex trafficking.  No matter where you live, look it up.  You will be shocked.  Evil is running rampant and our children are at risk.  Get. Involved.  Be willing to help however God calls you.  The need is truly desperate.

If you live in my area and would like information about how you can get involved, please email me at thatsmymom@gmail.com.  I will be so happy to connect you with this ministry.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Battle for Humility

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  (Eph. 4:1-3)

Humility is hard.  It is hard for me to write about because it is hard for me to live out.  

When God calls us to something, whether it is a big change or a small act of obedience, there is a certain sense of pride in walking it out.  But, at least in my heart, what can also easily creep in is pridefulness.  

It is everywhere...in the adoption community, in the homeschooling community, in the stay-at-home mom community, 

in the church community.

I am a member of all of these and guilty of pridefulness in every one of these areas.


Pridefulness is divisive and ugly, and it is the very opposite of love...

"Why would you adopt from a foreign country when there are kids right here who need families?"
"Why would you adopt from the United States when kids are starving to death in other countries?"
"Adoption is God's call for me, so it must be for you as well."

"Homeschooling is God's call on me, therefore I bet you should be doing it too."
"Private Christian school is the only choice for Christian parents."
"Public school is the right choice for Christian parents because we need missionaries in the schools."
"Classical education is the best method."
"Charlotte Mason is the right educational method."
"Unschooling is the most biblical way to raise kids."

"Christian moms should not work outside the home."
"Christian moms who work outside the home are more influential on the world around them."

"My church 'gets it' (whatever "it" is) better than the others in town."
"You don't go to Sunday School?  tsk tsk."

Need I go on?
Oh, how guilty I am.  And I bet you recognize a few of these yourself...or could even add a few.  (Believe me, I could.)

Sisters, I keep thinking about this Scripture...

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good.  (Titus 2:3)

Now that I am over 40 I guess that makes me an "older woman" to many young women out there, and that is ok with me.  But in looking at what this verse means I have to ask, "What is good?"

Homeschooling?  Adoption?  Motherhood?  My church?

The answer is yes!  These are all good!  But they are not the ultimate "good."  They are acts of obedience.

The answer is to teach obedience to whatever God asks of me, of you, of us.  The answer is to realize that Scripture is our authority and God will use us all in different ways on this earth but the way He uses us will always be consistent with His Word.

I have a precious friend, a prayer warrior, who said that instead of being proud of living the lifestyle God called her to, she is just so thankful He revealed His will to her.  And isn't that the antithesis of pridefulness?  Gratitude?

If I stop patting myself on the back and realize that my life is blessed by no great work of my intellect or spiritual aptitude, but because the Lord granted me the grace to hear His voice calling me to adopt...to homeschool...to be a stay-at-home mom...to join my particular church, if I just live in gratitude for His guidance and teach my sisters to do the same then that is what is good.

Obedience is good.  And what God asks of you may look very different from what He asks of me.  It will always be true to His Word, but it may not follow whatever formula I have created as the mark of a godly woman.  That formula, the one that comes from me, is a form of legalism.  That formula is the result of my pride.

This is what the Word of God says:

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.  For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:1-7)

Now I am not saying we are not to speak truth, correct, or rebuke in love, but I have got to remember that I cannot use my emotions or personal filter as the standard.  My instruction must come from the Scriptures or else it simply is not valid.

So that is my battle today.  Humility.  I pray He will foster that spirit in me and in you, filling us with gratitude for His calling and for the faith to obey Him even when others do not think it makes sense.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Recipe! Smashed Cheesy Taters

I love potatoes.  LOVE them.  And these?  Well, make them for yourself and you will see why I am sharing this recipe.

A few months ago there was a recipe on Pinterest for potatoes that were baked, smashed, and covered in cheese.  I have no idea who posted it but, inspired by the idea, I came up with my own super-simple version.  I made it last night for the first time.  My children and hubs rose up and called me blessed, so I made it again tonight!   Here ya' go!

You will need: 
Two packages of fingerling potatoes.  I used these:

Boil them in a big pot of water until they are soft, then drain them.
Line a cookie sheet with foil and coat with oil.  
Dump the taters onto the oiled sheet and arrange them evenly on the foil.  Then take a fork and, using the backside, (this is the fun part!) start smashing!

Next, sprinkle them with your favorite seasoned salt.  I love Lawry's...takes me back to the days of my mama's cooking.
Now melt 1 stick of butter and drizzle over the potatoes.  Hungry yet?  Just wait!

Now get some shredded cheese, whatever floats your boat, and cover those babies good.  I used two cups of cheese.  Yum.

Now pop them into your preheated 425 degree oven and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and there is much sizzling going on.  

Sweet cheesy goodness!  Now be nice and share with your family.  They will love you for it even if, like my Gracie, they slather them in ketchup!

You're welcome:)

Oh, and if you have time and/or want a little more gourmet flavor you can top the taters with roasted garlic, onion, bacon (!) and fresh herbs before covering them with the cheese.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bad Sales Tactics

The other day I decided to bite the bullet and buy a new pair of Toms shoes to replace the green ones that had worn out.   (My big toe was coming out of the end!)  Katie and I were at a local mall and went into a shoe store that carried Toms.  After much deliberation and oohing and aahing I decided I wanted to forgo the polka dots, stripes, and flowers and get the navy blue canvas because "they will go with everything."  Which, in my world of few fashion risks, is true.
Enter cute 18 year old sales girl.  She asks what I size I wear and I told her "9."  As in nine, neuf, nueve, niner, etc.

She came out with two pair of eights and a seven and half.

Really?  Did I stutter?

"They run big," said she.

"Yes, but I have had two pair of Toms.  I wear a nine."

"Try them on because they will stretch."

I couldn't even get my heel in them.

"I wear a nine," I said sweetly through gritted teeth.  Katie was standing behind the girl, covering her mouth to stifle the snickers escaping from her against her will.  

"Do you want to try the 7 1/2?"

Did she really just ask me that?

"I couldn't even get my foot in the eight.  I need a nine."  You have just entered...the Twilight Zone.  Is she offended by the size of my foot?

Salesgirl bounces back to the storage room and comes back with 4, count 'em FOUR boxes.  For crying out loud.

"Do you want to try these?" she asks, whipping out a pair of red Taylor Swift Keds with white lace.

I was supposed to be trying on navy blue Toms.

I smiled with the love of Jesus and said, "They are really cute, but not for me."  Katie looked at me like "CAN I GET THEM?" and I was like "Heck no!"

Salesgirl then shows me a pair of sparkly Sperrys.  Are you freaking kidding me?  

I took a deep, calming breath.  "I just want to try on the navy ones."

She had in her hands a box with size nine written on it.  Lo and behold, the shoes fit!

I purchased the shoes, hoping these last longer than salesgirl's career and told her once again that, no, I don't want to try the white ones because I have FIVE KIDS and TWO DOGS for the third time and they would never stay clean for even an HOUR in my world.  I need navy blue, people.  I need colors that don't show dirt.  And NO I don't want the invisible socks because they aren't invisible and won't stay on my feet.



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

For my big girl...

You are twelve years old today.  Twelve.  It seems like three minutes ago that you were this tiny little bundle of chub and I was staring at you, breathless with love and in awe that I held in my arms this daughter of my dreams.  Your name was finally your name and in a holy moment of grace you became my daughter.
I will never cease to be thankful.
Now you are growing out of little girlhood and quickly becoming a young woman.  Change is upon you and I watch you navigate these years with a sweet mixture of fear and excitement and I pray you know...I pray you never forget who you are and Whose you are.
I love how close we are.  I love how you tell me everything and that you are always beside me in the front seat of the car, chatting away and trusting me.  No secrets.  I do not take that privilege lightly.
You love hard.  You love well.  Your sisters look at you with bright eyes of admiration and they follow your every suggestion with a smile.  Your brothers, well, they take twisted delight in pestering you of course.  But while you were away at camp it became very beautifully apparent how much your presence in this family means to them.  They missed you and they missed you intensely.
Sweet girl, as your teen years approach I know you will be tempted to withdraw, to be afraid of what Mom would think or say about things.  I know peer pressure is strong and sometimes girls are just mean.  But you are stronger.  He who is in you is stronger.  I believe in you, my precious daughter.  You are a born leader.  God has gifted you uniquely to influence your generation.  You are going to shine for Him, show this world that there is a way of living...HIS way... that goes against the grain and results in true life, true joy.  I believe God is going to use your teenage years to draw others closer to Jesus because you are willing to speak out and not fall to the negative influences around you.
Guard your heart, sweet girl.  Guard your eyes and draw close to your King.  Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith who, for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  (Heb. 12:2)
I am so thankful to be your mama.  I am so proud of the young woman you are becoming.  I am so blessed because you are mine.  To say "I love you" does not seem adequate, but because those are the strongest words of our language they will have to do.  I love you.  I love you with all that I am and always will.
Happy birthday, my precious daughter.   Be blessed, my darling.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In which I reach the end of my mommy-rope

I have made countless road trips with my kids. I pride myself on "enjoying the ride" and making these trips fun so that they won't dread the next one.  I usually plan for our travels to begin early in the day, leaving the house by 8am at the latest.
That was my plan this time as well.  My hubby and DJ rode on the charter bus with the team and the rest of us stayed back in order to give Katie a couple of days to get used to being home from camp before hitting the road again.  We were going to meet the team Wednesday in Charlotte, NC for the final two days of the tournament.  
The boys arrived Sunday morning and my hubby realized he had some wrong information.  The tournament ends Thursday, not Friday.  No biggie, right?  We'll just come up Tuesday instead of Wednesday.  But wait, I had rescheduled Mari's OT appointment for Tuesday instead of the usual Friday because of the trip.  Confused?  Me too.  I hated to change the appointment again and inconvenience her therapist so we loaded up the car before her 10am appointment and planned to hit the road as soon as we walked out of the clinic.

I really shouldn't be such a people-pleaser.

We left around 11:15 and drove in peace for what felt like a long time.  It felt like at least four hours, but was really only about an hour and a half.  I did a quick mental calculation, realizing we still had six hours to go.  I determined to put on a happy face and pretend time was flying.
Mid-afternoon I started to wilt.  We were three hours in and I desperately needed coffee.  We pulled off at the next exit and apparently chose the one exit that had not a single place to stop.  A few clothing stores and business offices, but not so much as a gas station nearby.
So I got back on the interstate and tried the next exit.  Seriously, people?  Where do you buy gas in this godforsaken town?  Katie wondered if all these people drive electric cars.  I kept driving and finally found a hole-in-the-wall gas station.  We filled up, visited the surprisingly clean potty, and I got a bad but strong cup of coffee.  I took a bitter sip as we pulled out of the station and grimaced. Then I turned left and there was a STINKING  KRISPY-KREME four doors down.
For crying out loud. I could have had decent coffee and a donut?  
I comforted myself with the fact that at least the hot sign wasn't lit and drove on.
I flipped through XM Satellite Radio and found Dr. Laura.  Katie was all, "who is she?" and I just waited for the counseling to begin.  We laughed for three hours.  The little kids watched a movie and dozed off for a while. Road-trip awesomeness.
But all too soon, Dr. Laura's show ended and it was a no-man's-land of radio desert.  Nothing floated my boat.  Katie was hungry. I was sick of junk food.  Sensory kid started making random noises.  The loud one kept yelling just for the fun of it.  The impatient one rolled eyes and asked "how much longer?" and I just flat-out told Katie, "you are tired and crabby and I am tired and crabby so let's just own it."
Which we did.
Thirty miles from the hotel we had to stop and eat or we would not survive. Bad Mexican food hit the spot and I dumped out my tea, deciding I deserved a Diet Coke.

Mexican food + Diet Coke = stupid

We finally, finally arrived at the hotel an hour later than planned (I forgot to mention rush-hour traffic.  For. The. Love.) and I almost wept with relief when my husband appeared.  I could never, ever be a single mom.  At least not a nice one.  We took the luggage to our room and then the kids hit the pool, except that the pool room is itty bitty and 20 boys were screaming and splashing out their testosterone and that was not ok on these frazzled nerves. Did I mention I wore a too-snug baseball cap all day? Oh, my head.  I gave my hubby the "I've gotta get outta here" look and went upstairs.
To my room.
In silence.