Sunday, July 28, 2013

An Important Conversation to have with our Daughters

At the beginning of summer, my daughter reminded me of a valuable lesson she had taken away from a class we took together. I had forgotten the advice or, perhaps, I had moved into a time in my life when it wasn't necessary for me to remember the lesson because, for me, it had become an old lesson. I had already figured out how to scale, cross, and mend bridges. My daughter on the other hand is much younger than I.

Surely I know more about handling life issues.

 Then again...maybe I don't.

 
 
I had reasonably suggested that she not attend an event where I thought she might be shunned, rejected, bruised, unwanted. As a child, I was taught there were two options: fight or flee. I would have introvertedly, pridefully turned my back. Who needs drama? Not I. 
 
My daughter, on the other hand, stoically insisted she was going and was going to make the best of it. She insisted it wasn't about fighting or fleeing. It was about standing one's ground.
 
Once again, I was reminded that she is not me and I am not her. 

And a third option does exist. We neither have to fight or flee. Sometimes we simply need to stand our ground.
 
She reminded me of how we, as Christians, are to handle the difficult people in our lives:
 
"South African archbishop Desmond Tutu walked by a construction site on a temporary sidewalk the width of one person. A white man appeared at the other end, recognized Tutu, and said, 'I don't make way for gorillas.' At which Tutu stepped aside, made a deep sweeping gesture, and said, 'Ah, yes, but I do.'

We had both heard the same story. I remembered only the story. She remembered the message.

The fact that she refused to back down to a situation, taught me a valuable lesson even now in my 40's.

My youngest is soon becoming a pre-teen and I've breathed to the older ones that I'm not sure I have the energy any more to handle more years of same. It isn't my children or my teens I dread. They're overall a pretty good bunch of people. It's the negativity that seeps into all the corners of their once brightly cheerful world that I shun.


Sometimes it isn't even the hurt I dread. A hurting world is something we learn to expect and gear up for. I'm used to administering ointment and comforting words. I'm used to listening and girding.

I'm not used to raising daughters who are so headstrong that I find some days exhaustingly challenging. Daughters who won't let me scale their bridges, cross to the other side with them, or mend broken bridges. Instead, they set out to meet gorillas without my guidance and protection as I'm in the background telling them to run for cover and not face those foes.

Perhaps I talk too much.

Emily poignantly reminds mothers of daughters that there is One Thing Your Daughter Doesn't Need You to Say.

I wish I'd had this to read when I was beginning my mothering-of-girls years.

I'm getting to be an older mother but I'm still learning and perhaps one day I'll listen to fermented advice.
 
Emily has taken care of the deed for me. Instead of struggling with these very things (and losing sleep over it even), I can just send my girls Emily's words.

The Holy Spirit is so good about sending mouthpieces down to defective mothers {like myself} to speak when all our words fail us miserably.
 
I've failed. Over and over again. I've been told I don't understand the life of today's teenagers but, goodness, how I do understand. Better than they'll ever know. And yet their pain squeezes my heart more than mine was ever squeezed when growing up.

I am thankful my girls have each other. So thankful!

My girls have each other and they have sis-in-loves who love them for ice cream binges and shoe buying and window shopping and for sleepovers. Oh my goodness! My girls have that. They have them! They are so blessed. I envy them their relationships with one another.

Yet life is full of pain and, sometimes, even after we scrap it off our shoes, there is this lingering smell of oof! that trails behind us. Unappealing.

It's a reminder of the cross and we  must learn to live with it.

It becomes familiar and doesn't bother us...much. Though sometimes it does.

Life just stinks sometimes.
Raising girls is hard.

It isn't really the people-places-things who/that have hurt them in the past that bothers me...much.

It's the people-places-things who/that hurt them today in the here and now.

Those hurt. Eek and Ick!

It's when we look for those cross-bearing Simons in our lives and see only soldiers jeering around us that life hurts anew.

People hurt us.  True.

But when friends hurt us...

Eek!

When family hurts us.

Ick!

Why do people have to hurt other people? I don't know. I can't wrap my brain around the notion of how BFFs can dissolve from forever into finale.

Knowing my children might have, could have, unknowingly, unwittingly contributed to that finale keeps me up at night. I hate to think that my parenting might be defined by the actions of my children and that I failed. Again! Emily addresses that issue too. I once told a friend I never wanted anyone to think that I'm a hypocrite when they see my children acting opposite of what I preach. She told me I was having a pride issue and to get over myself. I did. I'm grateful today for her advice.

My children have a free will and make bad choices but so do their friends. It isn't always my children's choice. It isn't always their fault. It isn't always their pride issue to carry.

I know friends come and friends go. That's no revelation. My age laughs that anything less should happen because life happens. Life moves on. Life goes on. That includes the people in our lives. I can accept that as long as those friends don't outwardly, deliberately, intentionally snub the other for forever into finale.

I want my children to be honest, with themselves and with others. But I want to see forgiveness given when forgiveness is asked to be given. I want them to be true to themselves so that they can be true to others.

The friends I've most admired were the ones who never lost sight that my child(ren) was a valuable asset to their life and the friends who have dropped their bags of prideful issues (much like my own) and come back and said 'I still want you to be my friend."

If I could leave my girls with any words of wisdom I would hand them this list:

1) Embrace your family first. They are your first friends. They are your lifelong friends. They will be your last friends. They share childhood memories with you that others will never ever be able to rewind and view around a kitchen table. Never. Ever.

2) Be grateful for your sisters. You may not always get along, you may argue at times, and you may clash. But just be ever so grateful you have them. The world is less lonely when you have sisters.

3) When you're hanging on that cross of pain and feel as though you've lost your best friend, lean straight into your sisters' arms. They're there to hold you, catch you, comfort you.

4) Remember that people can be gorillas but that doesn't mean we have to be.

Enough of me. Perhaps you don't even know what or why I'm rambling. Just consider that I'm venting from my own little cloud on the internet. Writing is how I "think" and this is my little bubble. I've started a loooong chant without meaning to when, all along, I should have just left you with Emily's thoughts and words and wisdom. She addresses it all. If you want, just forget everything I've written above and read what Emily writes here:
 
It may not be exactly what we've undergone at this stage in our life but it's everything we have gone through or will go through in the foreseeable past, present, and future.

It's definitely something our daughters need to read, as do we mothers: One Thing Your Daughter Doesn't Need You to Say.

* * * * *

"Lucky for me, this particular radio host was deeply invested in the conversation and responded to her in an appropriate way – he told her the worst thing she could do is to try to have it all together in front of her friends.
 
"Instead of trying so hard to be an example, just be honest. “If you struggle,” he said, “say so. If you hurt someone, apologize. Then they really will get to know you and they won’t have reason to call you a hypocrite.”
 
"Brav. O.
 
"When the interview was over, I sat in my room and thought for a few more minutes about the conversation. I kept rolling her words around in my head: “I want to be an example to my friends, but sometimes it’s so hard to be a good one.”
 
"The more I thought about her struggle, the more frustrated I got. I paced my room, made my bed with the excess energy. I thought about what the host said to her and began to think how I would put his response in my own words.
 
"Here’s what I came up with: She isn’t supposed to be an example. Her friends don’t need an example, they need a friend. A real one. An honest one. A touchable one. They  need a friend who doesn’t think she’s better than everyone, but one who knows she isn’t. They need a friend who knows she needs Jesus.
 
"So what about being a leader and setting the example? Isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that what parents and youth leaders tell students all the time?
 
"The more I think about it, the more I believe this well-meaning statement is not only a manipulative way to try to control our daughters’ behavior, but can also be dangerous to their spiritual health. When we tell her to be an example, we may as well just hand her a mask right there – Here. Hide behind this. Don’t let them see you struggle.
 
"I know that’s not what we mean. I know. But it doesn’t matter so much what we mean, it matters what she hears.
 
"And when she hears adults tell her to be an example, she thinks that means she can never mess up, can never have problems, can never just be a teenager with struggles like everyone else.
 
"She might then mature into a woman who believes being a Christian means having it all together, saying all the “right” things, staying a few steps above everyone else.
 
"She may become a person people look up to, but she will never be someone they can relate to.
She may be successful at managing her behavior, but she will always struggle to manage people’s opinions.
 
"She may have a great reputation, but her character will be clouded with bitterness and anger.
She may be a good church-goer, but she will not know how to be a good friend.
 
"This may keep her out of trouble, but it will suffocate her soul.
 
"But what about holiness?!  I can hear the protests now. Don’t we want her to be a light in a dark place?
 
"Yes. But telling her to be an example won’t let her shine, it will just cause her to shrink.
 
"She already is a light in a dark place, but here is the part most of us forget when we’re telling our teenagers to be an example:
Her light comes from Jesus, not from her awesome behavior.
 
"Do you believe Christ himself has taken up residence within her? Do you trust him with her life – her decisions, her emotions, her relationships? Do you truly believe he goes with her wherever she goes?
 
"If so, then instead of telling her to be an example, how about encouraging her to be herself?
 
"When she is hurt, she can deeply feel it. When she messes up, she can own it. When she hurts someone, she can apologize. When she has doubts, she can voice them. And when she is joyful, it will be from a real place inside her, not a manufactured mask she puts on for show."

* * * * *

Read the whole thing here:
One Thing Your Daughter Doesn't Need You to Say

Friday, July 26, 2013

Taking Inventory



I took a writing retreat this week. Best thing I've done for myself in a long time. More about it later. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

When Did This Happen?

And who gave them permission to grow up anyway?
Children are defiant from day one, I suspect.

Monday, July 15, 2013

{Touring the Oak-Shaded Estate} Walk To Pick Berries

Continuing our Estate Tour which seems kind of sillier than when I first decided to do it but since I've already jumped into chicken yard and gotten my feet dirty, I guess I'll just keep drudging along. As will my daughter-in-law's little Yorkie, ever at our house.
Today, we'll walk across the back yard to get some blackberries. 
We're almost too late. There aren't many left and the ones that are left are becoming dry. The sunshine is sucking what little life they have left out of them.


 
There are but a few red ones left. The birds and pest might very well forage the rest of them before we do.


 


Still, I've gotten three blackberry cobblers out of it and my daughter-in-law made a couple and that's not counting my sister-in-law's larder who also lives next door.
 
 
 
I grabbed the only thing I had nearby. Hudson's sand bucket. Not a very plentiful harvest as we kick into July, but June was a good month.
And we pass my brother-in-law's gentle peach tree. It's still young but produces just enough for the kids to enjoy.
We meet our gentle boxer/lab on the way back to the house. She's been a jewel. Found on the side of the road with her brother as a puppy, we adopted her for our boys. She was hit and injured by a car just months after we moved here. She'll be 13 years old this November and has been a jewel. I think I see one of the aunties out on the swing, probably putting a nephew down for a nap.
 
Duck! watch your heads. Bird feeder in the sky...rather, hanging from a Cajun oak tree.
We walk behind the Cajun Cottage, mostly vacant these days as the girls get older. And, yet, I understand there are two little boys who will be playing fort and mud pie kitchen and hideout in it within a few years.
 Gonna soak these little berries and, because there isn't enough...
Enjoy them with some sugar and cream all by myself. Because...

...the kids had their fair share while picking them off the vine all the other times. ;-)
 
Don't miss our Berry Delicious books and a Sweet Dough Pie Recipe over here:
 
 

Day Full of the Little Things

7:00 AM Woke up and got the working girl out of bed. She has Drivers Ed class today.

7:00-7:50 AM Facebook sucked an hour of my life (It's the little things). Listened to writer's podcast while I played. That's my redemption. (It's the little things).

7:50 AM Went to see why Chels hadn't been picked up yet. Double checked the schedule. Class starts at 8:30, not 8:00. Put crock pot of fresh figs and strawberries on low to stew all day. (It's the little things.)
Last night I decapitated them and tucked them into a bed of sugar so they'd be ready in the morning. 


8:00-8:40 AM Showered and washed hair. Made pot of coffee. Threw in load of laundry. Went outside with new puppy and waited for her to pee. She didn't. (It's the little things).

8:40-9:00 AM Blogger! and rain storm. (It's the little things).

9:00-9:50 AM Got ready for day. Coffee with Oma and Opa. Checked on stewing figs and strawberries. (It's the little things.)


10:00-2:00 PM Office Work!

2:00-3:45 PM Laundry, feed chickens, walk puppy, and began cleaning out a box that's been sitting in the sitting room for some two years or so, or more. Threw away most of it. (It's the little things.)

3:50-4:00 PM Went to get girls from Drivers Ed class.

4:00-6:00 PM Computer repair guy showed up to take care of virus. Mark and his brother canned the stewed figs and bathed the jars. Slow cooker method really isn't reliable. Last night it seemed so simple, so easy but the sugar settled at the bottom despite folding during the day and the juice did not syrup. It had to be poured into a pot and boiled again to distribute sugar and thicken the juice. It's quicker and more practical to just do it the old fashion way. Sometimes we have to experiment with things before we realize that the old fashion way was the best way all along. (It's the little things.)
 



6:00 PM Ate supper (fried chicken, salad, Hawaiian rolls, mac & cheese) and watched the news, especially about Cory Monteith. This is where I admit that ironically my daughter and I spent the whole month of June watching the first three seasons of Glee. For two people who 'never' watch television, our indulgence in these actors and our admiration for their talent leaves us vested and wounded. 
Life really is all about the little things.

And Another Day...

This was Friday's post that I never got around to posting. Why am I being so annoyingly self-centered with sharing daily doings blog posts? I'll explain later.

6:30 AM   Awake...Hear sounds of Chelsea and friends coming inside from the cabin...I do a quick check of phone messages then close my eyes under the sheets and begin my prayers for those prayer intentions entrusted to me, requested of me, confided in me...especially for a friend who is having surgery today and for a job intention for someone dear to me.

7:40 AM Open my eyes as Chels plops down on my bed. We chat while she eats poptarts on my bed.

8:00 AM Chels gets picked up for work. I stretch under the covers not wanting to give it up. I've loved my bed since I was an infant. My mother said I slept all night from the first day they brought me home from the hospital.

8:15 AM Pull myself from under the sheets. Start a load of laundry. Jump in shower and wash hair.
Take new puppy outside for walk. Fix pot of coffee. Annie is up too and we talk as we both begin our day.

9:00-9:45 AM Dry and fix hair. Skip make-up because I hardly ever where it anymore even though my complexion is not the best. Will start back up with the school year. Somedays.

9:45-10:00 AM Instruct Annie the chores expected of her this morning. Head to office. Attractive part of my little job is setting my own work hours.

10:00-1:00 PM Work at office. Finished with lesson plans for the new religious education/liturgical year. My focus is Scripture/Catechism/Liturgical Year and availing the teachers to all the resources. Every Wednesday as a "Theme" about our faith which is outlined by our Bishop in what all the DREs call "The Little Gold Book".

1:30 PM Home! Let our puppy and son's dog outside. Feed chickens.

2:00-3:30 PM  Late lunch with Oma and Annie

3:30-4:00 PM Back home. Load of laundry. Sinkful of dishes.

4:00 PM Husband and daughter come home from work.

4:15 PM Leave to pick-up teenagers and take them to the mall.

5:30-6:00 PM Rush back to town to tank up van and get Annie to cheer practice.

7:00 PM Cheer ends. Head back over bridge to get teens at mall. Pick-up pizza for teens to eat while watching movies at house.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Time to Shut off the Screens and Proceed with Living

My daughter is out canoeing with friends today and I can't think of a better way to spend a glorious Sunday (outside of giving thanks and praise to God at Holy Mass first, of course).
 
It beats sitting in front of these screens wallowing the demise of American culture, hearing the angry shouts of protestors, crying over a handsome young actor's too-early death, and witnessing a tearing apart of humanity.
 
I wrote recently for Amazing Catechists:
 
"Paula Deen and the Supreme Court blatantly remind us today that people love a public crucifixion as much as they adore building people up."
 
If we look at these boxes (television and computer) in front of us, that is what the media is presenting to us and telling us this is how we all think, how we all act, and what we all believe.
 
"I can wring my hands, sweat, panic, and worry about the world my grandchildren and great grandchildren are being born into. I can write eloquent posts and write obedient stats about family and faith. Or I can simply turn my back on this black box that brings so much gossip, exposure, and stress into so many homes and “gratefully focus” on home and family."
 
 
Get off the screens and quietly tend to your own part of the Kingdom. Love your family well.
 
You cannot handle all the world's problems or all the ills of society. You cannot save anyone's soul but your own. You cannot live anyone else's life but your own.
 
Tend to your family and you will have served mankind the greater, loved God better, and gotten on with living the life God intended/envisioned for you.
 
 
 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Day with Hudson

7:10 AM Wake up to phone texts

7:10-8:10 AM Answer text messages. A whole hour seeps into oblivion as I checked FB, email, and Instagram accounts. Hear girls getting up and getting ready. Hopeful for coffee. Doesn't happen! :-/
 
8:10-8:30 AM Snuggle deeper under comforter. Doze a bit. Learning how to relax and recharge. I am so not a high energy person, despite what people think. Offer silent rote prayers for family, friend having surgery, job prospect, and special intentions. Chelsea shouts that she's leaving for work. I enjoy the last of my peace and quiet.
 
8:30 AM Get up for Hudson. His daddy has to be at work for 9. His mommy goes to work at 8 every day.
 
8:30-9:00 AM Snuggle with Hudson. Aunt Annie pulls out pots and plans for lunch. She wants to cook it all herself she says. I am not to do any of it. {Fine by me. ;-) }
 
9:00-9:30 AM Spread blanket on floor. Give Hudson snack and leave Aunt Annie to play with him while I go shower and get ready for the day.
 
9:30-10:10 AM Feed Hudson breakfast...mashed bananas. We laugh over his "old man" faces. He plays in jumper awhile then I offer him his formula and try to rock him but he's not interested. Playtime on floor blanket. Ends up sitting with MayMay on outside swing watching the dogs play.
 Entertainment for the day! :-)
 
10:10-10:30 AM Back inside. Hudson's tired of blanket toys. We find him crawling around sofa and towards toys kept in corner of living room. Playpen quiet time for Hudson. No coffee, no breakfast but Annie has lunch ready so we eat (5-cheese raviolli and browned ground meat in Alfredo sauce.) Hudson gets restless. Ends up in infant swing. Offer formula again. Ends up in rocker. He seems to be at his best when there's lots of people here and everyone's talking. Today everyone is working. He's stuck with Aunt Annie and MayMay. Such is life! Realizing I wouldn't have been able to shower or fix lunch if I didn't have my 11 year old help me. #thankful

10:40 AM Still doesn't want to nap. I change his diaper then Aunt Annie takes him from me and pours all the playpen toys around him on the floor. Oma texts that she and Opa are on their way over. Maybe now I'll get that cup of coffee and Hudson will be happy that he's everyone's main entertainment. :-)

10:50-1:00 PM Lost track of time. Oma and Opa showed up and Oma rocked him to sleep. Great grandparents can still be very valuable if welcomed into the home (despite what society is raising us to believe about 'old people.' ;-). I fix pot of coffee for Opa and I. Finally get my coffee fix! I place Hudson in his crib in office to nap then take the reprieve and go outside to check the cabin where Chelsea and a friend slept last night to make sure it's picked up and food is not left out. Start a load of laundry and catch-up on sink full of dirty dishes. Conversation flows. Oma and I go over baby shower and wedding shower plans and check over guests list. I find out the number of dinners ordered for Annie's Cheer fundraiser and send amount in. Hudson awakes from a very nice nap and is put in walker with snacks. Thank goodness for Oma and naps, otherwise the paperwork would never have gotten done. I fix Hudson a bowl of rice cereal mixed with formula and applesauce for lunch. Yummy! Adrain comes by house during her lunch hour. Visit, talking, conversation still flowing...the way life usually is around the Cajun Cottage.

1:00 PM Full belly! Hudson is happy. Plays on blanket with toys while I pack diaperbag to take him and Annie to the park for an afternoon walk.

3:17 PM We are back home. Ran by post office then to Sonic for Happy Hour 1/2 price drinks. By the time we got to the park, our fellow dribbler was sound asleep again. Car rides do that to him. So we sat in parking lot and I balanced my checkbook while he slept. Annie and I sat and chatted. Kept hoping he'd wake up. It was good time for a nap so he'll have time to wake up and play and go to bed tonight at a reasonable hour. So I didn't want to disturb his beauty sleep by transferring him to stroller. By 3:00, we decide he isnt' waking up any time soon and we go on home. Feed chickens while he naps.

4:00 PM Working girl comes home and announces her arrival loudly (ie: slamming door and shouting "Hello, everybody! I'm hooommme!"  Any question about who had baby duty after that?

4:00-5:05 PM Hudson hangs out with Aunt Chelsea and her friends. I relax on computer and type up most of the above. Good for double checking my memory skills and brain processing. Gotta do that periodically after one turns 40. ;-)

5:05-5:30 PM Feed Hudson his supper, change him, and rock him with a fresh bottle.

5:30-6:15 PM He's busy, happily playing on floor when his mommy comes to pick him up. As usual, we get to talking and the time speeds away. Oh well... She and Hudson finally head off to watch Daddy play Ultimate Frisbee with friends. Chelsea leaves with friends.

6:15-6:30 PM Laundry and  more dishes.

6:45 PM Finish typing this. Wait for Mark to get home so we can get a bite to eat. Had planned to do a couple of computer things done today but they didn't happen. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe. But my children are already planning my next two days. =:-0

!!!!!

{Brief Update: husband had just gotten home and he got called back out so we settled for sandwiches amd ice cream at home. I was able to do my Safe Environment needed for work then Annie and I settled in to watch "Mall Cop".  Waiting for everyone to get home.}
 

A Picture Perfect Opportunity

 
School bells are fixing to ring.
Let's take this picture perfect opportunity to share a Picture Perfect book with our family and friends and teachers and students and communities.
 
I'm asking my readers to join my little camera space on Facebook (or to share that space with their family and friends) and help gather an awareness for using picture books during times beyond bedtime reading.
 
On our guest/fan page, we reveal book titles from our "Cooking with Literature" section.
Each month has a food theme. Cool and Tasty, huh?
 
We also share historical books borrowed from our section entitled:
A Picture Perfect Education so you'll know what books to search for at your library each month.
 
We are up to 91 guests on Facebook but this little book has sold into the thousands since I published it at the end of 2008. So I know there are more fans out there.
 
This December it will have been in print for five years.
 
Once we get 100 guests on our Facebook page, we'll have a drawing for a free copy of A Picture Perfect Childhood.

If we can get our guests and fans up to
#205, we will have drawings on some of the various recipe picture books. 
 
If we get up to #505 guests/fans, I will share with you all a secret.
A BIG secret. ;-)
 
Until then the storybook awaits you on the shelf. ;-) 
 
Join Us?
 

Work is Hard. Being Poor is Harder

People can fine-tune it, wax poetic nostalgia about it, simplify it, and sugar-coat it but the fact remains...

Struggling financially is tough on a marriage.

The reality is that some people can't manage their money even if they have lots of it much less if they don't have any. Some people can stretch a dollar, some can't.  Still, the reality is that not having enough money is hard physically, emotionally, and mentally in today's world.

As if it ever was easy.

My grandmother grew up poor in the "good ol' days" and even she said she would never want to repeat those years.

Work is hard. Being poor is harder. 

Being content and making the most of what you have is another post entirely. My weak attempt at Hobby Farming is my attempt to live simply and to be intentional about how I live and how I spend our money. 

Moxie Wife gives some advice on how to Love our Husbands during those Difficult Times.

Another article here: Finances "Financial counselors often point to finances as the most common cause of divorce."



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Just Another Day...

8:00 AM Wake up/ Get Ready for Day
8:30-9:30 AM Quiet time/ Prayer time/ Email/ Breakfast (biscuit with jelly)
9:45 AM Tidy House
9:45-1:00 PM Office
1:00-1:30 PM Home for lunch
1:30 PM Pick-up my working girl 
2:00-2:30 PM Daughter's Eye Appt...while waiting my other daughter and I go over items she'll need for 4H camp
2:30-3:30 PM Shopping
3:30-4:00 PM Home to unload/ Feed chickens/ Husband home
4:00-5:00 PM Back into town with just the husband to run errands. Husband treats me to an ice cream shake. :)
5:15-6:30 PM Back home...Parents stop by for visit. Corey and Adrain get off work and join us.
6:30-7:00 PM Don't remember but evidently no one's hungry as no one has mentioned food and there's loads of leftovers in frig from last night. 
7:00 PM Start typing this and checking mail.
Quiet night!



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Day (or Two) in the Life of Cay Gibson

Monday

7 AM Awake & get teenage daughter up for work
7-7:45 AM prayer time & fix lunch for working daughter
8 AM Daughter catches ride to work & I go to office
9-12 N Office Work
12:15 As a rare treat husband is home, having gotten called out at 1 in the morning they sent him home early so we enjoy the time by going to Cracker Barrel for lunch
1:15-3 PM Husband goes home to nap and I go mother-of-the-bride dress shopping...still nothing. :(
3 PM Pick-up friends 
3-3:45 PM Stop at house to feed chickens, get swimsuits and husband
4-7 PM Waterpark Fun
7-8 PM Dollar burgers and Frosty shakes 
8-9 PM Drop off friends, talk to daughter about day's work, shower
9:00 PM In bed...check email and read current reading selections until eyelids fall.

Tuesday

6:20 AM Awake, shower, wake daughter for work
7-8 AM Adoration hour / Prayer time
8:10 AM Pick-up Hudson
8:15-9:30 AM Make sure daughter is ready for dance workshop, ck email and bathe puppy while Hudson plays
9:30 AM Major infant blowout right as we're loading up to leave...good thing we were leaving early.
9:45 AM Baby cleaned and fresh diaper
10 AM Drop off Annie at dance studio
10-11:30 AM Hit the office with Hudson which is something I said I would never-ever do...never say never...
11:30-12 N Bring Annie lunch 
12:15-1:45 PM Home Sweet Home---Hudson naps, I do bank statement
2 PM Pick up Annie and back home to feed chickens. Floor playtime and storytime with Hudson.

2:45-3 PM  Go online to take Safe Environment renewal but can't log into computer because of mysterious computer virus...Bummer! Type first two days into blog post. {what I do when I'm bored ;) }
3 PM Annie turns on The Lorax...I welcome the quiet promise of an unhurried afternoon...Rocking Hudson.
3:15-3:30 PM This baby ain't sleeping. Play on floor some more.
3:30-3:45 PM Change another diaper #teethingbaby Hudson plays quietly in bassinet while MayMay decides supper plans...Puts shrimp and pre-stuffed chicken to thaw in bowl of water.
3:51 PM Rumbling sound of thunder. Bring on the rain. Husband will soon be home and will have Hudson-duty while I cook. Daughter will come home from work and so will Hudson's daddy which will allow me to spend the rest of the day reading or writing or whatever. It's good to be the MayMay. ;)

{Update: I promise this never happens but I ended up cooking a 4-course meal tonight. Unbelievable. I cooked stuffed chicken, Italian-seasoned baked shrimp, chicken enchilada (because the working girl requested at the last minute) and shrimp fettuccini Alfredo (because my hard working husband requested). :)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Picture Perfect Potluck

I finished setting the table. Let's try something fun for the rest of summer, shall we?

In my book A Picture Perfect Childhood, I have a section called "Let's Get Cooking with Literature". It's a "shopping list of books" to take with you each month to the library and load into your book basket. Just get the ones you find. Don't try to do them all in one summer or you'll get so far behind you'll get frustrated and stop enjoying the process. There's always next summer!
Read the book with your children during the heat of these summer days then copy the ingredients found at the back of each book and head to the super market. In the coolness of evening, make the delicious book treat  for the whole family to enjoy.

It's a fun way to spend summer and an even better way to combine our love of books and food.
It's a book-a-licious project.

Enjoy! And please share your photos and cooking time with us all by leaving a link in the comments.
Maybe I...or my girls...can figure out how to do a link-up one day in the near future. Maybe.

Happy Reading! And Happy Eating!

{Stay tune this month for a June potluck of ~Thirst Quenchers and Summer Snacks~ as well as a picnic basket of ~Plum and Berry Pleasures~ and a bakery window of ~ Perfect Cakes ~}
For now...

July ~ Variety of Recipes (Click on red link to access book link...recipe potluck mentioned alongside book title)

___ 'T Poursette et 'T Poulette: A Cajun Hansel and Gretel by Sheila Hebert Collins (LaSauce Patate Recipe)

___ Les Trois CochonsA Cajun Three Little Pigs by Sheila Hebert Collins (Grillades-Meat and Grits Recipe)

___ Cendrillon: A Cajun Cinderella by Sheila Hebert Collins (Red Beans and Rice Recipe)

___ What Zeesie Saw on Delancey Street by Elsa Okon Rael (Two Traditional Jewish Recipes)

___ When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street by Elsa Okon Rael (Two Traditional Jewish Recipes)
___ Pigs in the Pantry by Amy Axelrod (Chili Recipe)

 
___ On Top of Spaghetti by Paul Brett Johnson (Spaghetti and Meatball Recipe)

___ Noodle Man: The Pasta Superhero by April Pulley Sayre (Perfect Pasta Recipe)
___ Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe by Vera B. Williams (Dumplings and Fruit Stew Recipes)

 ___ The Greatest Potatoes by Penelope Stowell (Potato Chip Recipe)

___ Everyone Brings Noodles by Norah Dooley (Cultural Noodle/Pasta Recipes)

Don't forget to share your books and eats in the comment section. My girls and I look forward to trying new dishes.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

When Life Makes Sense

Last June I wrote and shared this post with you: A Chance to Live All Over Again

Your comments, your experiences, and your prayers were priceless and joyful. I cannot thank everyone enough for the peace you brought to me, a peace that I could, in return, give to my son. 

Our experience is really no different than so many others. I saw that in all the readers who wrote to me publicly and privately. Most of us have come into this world or brought a child into this world in less than responsible situations.

Not long ago, a friend shared that if we really look at how most of us came into this world, we would see mostly irresponsible ways. Perhaps it was a teenage pregnancy. Perhaps it was the fifth child when the father was out of work. Perhaps it was when the family had no medical insurance. Perhaps it was when the mother had on-going health issues. Perhaps it was when neither of the parents were ready to have a child.

We all came (come) into this world on a wing and a prayer, in hopes that someone will love us not for how we came into the world but for what our presence brings into the world.

God delivers us into this world hoping someone will be His hand to catch us, hoping someone will be His mind to educate us, hoping someone will be his feet to guide us, hoping someone will be his mouth to instruct us, hoping someone in this crazy, mixed-up world will be His heart to love us.

I have a few things that have tugged on my heartstrings since the above linked post. I began this post a week before Father's Day as a tribute to my son then life got busy and it languished.
 
I continued to let this post languish because I've become very guarded with what I share about my older children. Children don't always like a mother's prying eyes and, most certainly, not the rest of the world's curiosity despite what social media and virtual reality lead us to believe.
Our family is actually very private despite my public writing foray and, though my children are still the largest part of my life, they have their own lives which is not ground I am publicly allowed to plow for fodder. I try, for the most part, to respect my children's privacy but it's a twist of fate that they have a writer for a mother, or...is it...that they have a mother for a writer. Either way...sometimes God reveals to you that sharing is necessary and He shares through us and through our experiences.

These sharings assist others in their journey through this crazy maze called life. Sometimes we have to entrust our need for privacy on behalf of a greater good.

 And so...enough justification.

Had someone asked me twenty-five and twenty years ago when I first held my baby boys what my hope was for them the answer would have been simple...

...that they grow into the best husband and father they could be. The kind of father God wants them to be. The kind their father was to them. A very good father.

Of course various other requirements came into that equation as they grew up but the root of it all was that they become loving, attentive fathers who were simply always there for their families. As much as they were able.
We've heard it said that 85% (maybe it's 86%) of success comes in just showing up.

That percentage floated in my mind's eye the day I watched my son walk down the hospital hallway and round the corner behind the gurney to watch his son being delivered via C-section. It was the last time my son would be free of absolute responsibility and duty.


Since November 20, 2012 (actually during the months leading up to that date) he has lived up to that 86/86/100%.

I have also heard it said that the greatest thing a man can do for his child is to love the mother. He's done that too.

The fact that he and Hudson's mother have allowed us to be such a huge part of that life picture, that life's dance, reveals that they understand how valuable and priceless this life's dance is.

We do not dance alone.

Only minutes before that life dance began, as we waited in the hallway while Hudson's mother was administered the epidural, my son turned to me and gave me a silent hug. Then he let out a deep breath and said, "Mom, I never have told you thank you for what you went through to have me. I didn't realize y'all go through so much."

That one hug wrapped up a lifetime of thanks.

It was a moment I captured in my heart and, like Mary, I've kept it hidden. Until now.

Again, it's both a blessing and a curse for children to have a mother who writes. 

There have been other times, other things said, other sharings, but this and two others are ones I want to recapture here and, perhaps, share some of the beauty and wisdom that God has gifted us during the times when others are lamenting a less than perfect scenario.

For those of you are still waltzing with me...

I've wanted to jot this one memory down but I fear I can never write it as beautifully as the moment was. Still, here's a weak attempt...

One of the times that touched my mother's heart was when Garrett was putting his son to sleep. The baby had drifted into sleep in his daddy's arms and Garrett rose slowly to tuck him into his bassinet.

He leaned over gently and paused, mid-way down, and stood there, gently rocking his son. After a moment, he guided the baby halfway onto the mattress still keeping his arm comfortingly under Hudson, standing with backaching stillness, check-to-check with his little son. A slight rocking motion was barely noticeable. Mostly soft stillness.

"Garrett, why don't you just lay him down, give him a love pat, and tuck the blanket around him?" my 25 years of maternal expertise forced me to instruct.

I'll never forget the look in my son's eyes as he met mine straight on.

"Mom, it's all in the transition. All in the transition."

He spoke gently and knowingly as he laid the baby the rest of the way onto the folds of silken sheet and fleece blanket and easied his arm out from under the baby then folded the blanket around the tiny still-sleeping form.

"All in the transition," he repeated as he looked down at his peacefully sleeping son who never knew he had been delivered from the safe strong arms of his father into a place of peaceful safety.

Everything in transition. That's what parenting teaches us. That's what life teaches us. That's what God teaches us. It's all a transition.

A few weeks before Father's Day I had one of those sit-down-conversations with my 20 year old son. You know the kind. The ones where they look down and wiggle and we try, in our softest, encouraging voice, to raise them to new heights...because the world demands it....while giving them a reality check.

Yes, grown mothers still do that with grown sons, whether wanted or not.

Yet, I realized the young man before me has had to leap over hurdles way before his peers and way before society is graciously willing to help him over those hurdles. He has done so without complaining, without asking for help, and without backing down.

And he has jumped these hurdles with one thing in his focus.

His son.

I told him that I know life is hard, especially when you're a 20 year old dad trying to make college and career decisions and all those other decisions that many 20 year olds are also making but with a huge difference. There's a baby involved.

Which, of course, makes things harder. Right?

That was when his eyes...again...met mine with steadfast sight of someone who has made life and death decisions, who has held life physically, mentally, and emotionally in the very palm of his hand and he answered: "Mom, if anything, Hudson makes life easier."


"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” ― Saint Paul

A friend shared with me that her son told her the near same thing except his words were that his baby "makes life make sense."

I don't want to send out a false message that having a baby is an easy thing. It isn't. Transition is painfully hard and unpredictable. Mothers know that. 

Having a child is one thing. Raising it is quite another. It's a life-long commitment but seldom have I seen young people who have a baby become worse human beings than they were before. Generally they become more caring, more loving, and more responsible. 

For the most part.
 
I think what my friend's son said is probably what my son was trying to say. Life with a baby isn't easier but it certainly makes more sense.
 
As parents, we know that our children give our lives new meaning and our lives become richer and more sacred.
 
Not easier, but, still, it can be summed up in that one word. Life makes sense. 
 
And a life with meaning is...easier.
 
On Father's Day, my son's fiancée took this picture of him with his son in the little plastic swimming pool. It was the best gift this MayMay could have received and Mother's Day was already way past. ;-)
 
 
There's just so much more to the story than this picture shows. The future is unpredictable and the lives are still in transition but this picture captures an emotion, a moment, a presence, a joy! that says "I wouldn't change my life for anything."

And because God loves Hudson and his parents so much, He prepared many hands to make light a lifetime of work.
 
{Uncle Corey and Hudson relaxing on the patio}
I cannot speak enough of how proud I am of how this situation has brought out the very best servitude in my other children. They are God's hands equipped for guiding, teaching, mentoring, instructing, feeding Hudson into an otherwise messy world.

None of us are meant to dance through life alone.
 
 
Things are never perfect. Life is ruthlessly messy. The older I get the more evidence is left behind of a messy existence. I regret the messes I've made and...still...God carries me. What would the redemption be without the messes?

Life simply has to be met with an acceptance for God's will in our life and making peace with that will...despite the messes.

Some would say my son was very irresponsible. I don't have to tell him twice. But he did not meet irresponsibility with irresponsibility. He shouldered his responsibility and, while the burden looked heavy to us, to him it weighed a mere 6 pounds, 6 ounces and the transition has been almost effortless.

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