Saturday, August 27, 2011

What’s Grosser Than Gross?

Do you remember this game?  Well, now that I have five kids I feel like I am kind of an expert in gross.  Everything is quiet for the night here and I am trying to clean up a bit.  I couldn’t get this out of my head.

What’s grosser than gross?

My son’s dirty socks after cross country practice.


What’s grosser than gross?

The dirty laundry after a weekend away at Girl Scout camp.

What’s grosser than gross?

The smell of wet dog.  Even if she is sleeping peacefully on the floor.

What’s grosser than gross?

All three of those smells mixed together!

I just can’t wait to unpack the bag from the two older kids’ cabin overnights this weekend.  At least the dogs are dry right now!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Every year when my kids celebrate their birthdays or I rack my brain trying to come up with the best ever present. That we can afford. Which narrows it down a lot. But every year it seems like we think of someone that they are going to flip out over.

I’m starting to realize that this is going to be a hard gig to keep up. I mean five kids times 18 birthdays is…I have no idea, but a lot. I’m not good with numbers. It’s a lot of great cakes, it’s a lot of decorating with balloons and streamers, it’s a lot of parties.

Every year when I think it can’t get any better, it usually does. Kind of like for Christmas this year when they got a puppy. How on earth are we going to top that next year?

The thing Jenna wanted the most for her birthday was a bunny. I told her she had way too many stuffed animals already. Oh no, she wanted a real, live bunny. The kind that needs food and a cage. They poop and pee and reproduce. Yeah that was not going to happen. I already caved to the two dogs.


The thing is Jenna is hard to buy for. She doesn’t like Barbies or girlie stuff. She doesn’t play video games. She’s got a life size stuffed animal replica of the local zoo in her bed. And we’ve bought her all the sports equipment we can think of.

I’ve tried to dress her up for pictures. And it doesn’t look right for some reason. She doesn’t want to strike a pose like the other girls.


But this, this is her.


And this.


The other thing is I adore my daughter. She is growing into a super fabulous young lady. She is (generally) patient and gentle with her sisters.


She has a zest for life that is contagious.


She can do anything. Every year I think it cannot possibly get better. But it does. I love her so much already it seems impossible to grow that anymore. But we do.

Our relationship is growing in depth. We’ve had to talk about more serious issues and we have lots of fun. It’s a joy to do things with her and be around her and her friends. I’ll take it all. The good, the bad. The ugly, the sad. It really just keeps getting better.

Because of that I came to the conclusion that her gifts should keep getting better and better no matter what. So this is what she got for her birthday. Did I mention that bunnies are very reasonably priced?


Mike thought she should name him Stew, but she chose Buttons. Buttons is in his new cage happily being hand fed little chunks of carrots.

Next year maybe I’ll have to find a giraffe or a horse. By the time she’s fifteen maybe it’ll be a birthday party to the moon. And that’s fine. I think the gifts should match how much I love her. My love just keeps getting bigger and better and the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

When I’m Losing My Patience

There are days when it takes every last bit of patience I have to raise my kids.  Or even be with them in the car for five minutes. Just today, I had the blessed experience of taking my youngest two to the store.  It should have been a quick, in and out trip.  But,

Maren was so upset about the cart situation that we had to leave three times.  Annie wanted to play the stupid crane games and was trying to put pennies in while I was dealing with Maren.   We painfully, slowly proceeded to make our way through the store.  With stops at the movie bin, the fabric and pet departments.  I guess my kids don’t know me that well, but I have no business in the craft or pet departments. 

They talked non-stop.  I had to battle Maren to buckle up.  I asked many times for them to load up in the van.  We battled bed time and teeth brushing and hair brushing.  They bugged me while I was having a meeting this morning, refused to get dressed and made some big messes.  On days like these, I wonder why God didn’t give these wonderful children to a more patient woman.  I had to hold myself back from screaming my head off more than a few times today.

When I was frustrated and felt the urge to scream, I was reminded of some other things that happened in the last 24 hours. 

The girls got to come to a shower with me and hold a baby last night.  Mike and Grant had a guys night out.  I got my morning cuddle.  I went looking for Maren and Annie and found them all cuddled up in bed together listening to the radio.  Buddy was curled up in between them. 

Annie caught a frog.  She came running in exclaiming she thought it was a rock and then it jumped.  She tried to build a habitat for it in the backyard but had to free it in the end.

Annie won a stuffed animal in the stupid claw games at the store.  We didn’t put any money in.  You would think she won the lottery.

Abby and Annie helped me do my birthday elf work.  We blew up balloons, hung streamers and wrapped presents. 

Jenna and Grant willingly went to bed early!  Jenna did it so the birthday elf could come.  Grant is growing so fast he’s always tired these days. 

It seems that if I could focus on the wonderful, fabulous, precious moments of mommyhood that I wouldn’t miss for the world in those horribly frustrating moments, I might be able to bridge the gap.  I don’t have to let a few battles and frustrations derail my day or week. 

Just the fact that God allowed me to have these special little people in my life is more than I deserve.  So at the store and at bedtime, I was able to be grateful and focus on those special times I want to remember forever.  I had to be stern, but did not scream.  I didn’t lose my patience and I’m glad because it was not a horrible day.  Not at all.

The truth is that soon enough, there will be no one to go to the store with.  My three older kids already have no interest in coming.  Then I really will be in and out in 20 minutes.  I won’t have to battle anyone over the kind of cart we get or the kind of paper plates we buy.  And I think that will be pretty…miserable and lonely.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Read If You’re Lonely

One of my daughters is a tomboy.  She loves to play with boys.  She hates to play with Barbies.  Today fresh off a play date with one of her male friends, we had some friends over that were boys.  She tapped me on the shoulder and whispered with a grin, “I have been playing with boys A LOT!”

While she loves the rough and tumble boy play, it often leaves her feeling lonely.  She doesn’t fit in with the girls even though she sometimes wants to.  She also doesn’t always fit in with the boys. 

One day this winter she was really sad about that.  I don’t really know where I came up with this but I told her; When you need a friend, be a friend.  I encouraged her that when she feels lonely she should look for someone who needs a friend. 

I struggle with feeling lonely at times.  Which is silly since I  don’t even get to go to the bathroom by myself.  I sometimes feel down and like the world is passing me by.  It’s easy to fall into self-pity. 

Instead, I would like to invest my energies into looking around for someone that needs a friend.  Or needs encouragement.  And then instead of turning inward, reach out.

I think all women feel lonely and useless at times. It seems like a good way for Satan to attack us and our calling.  Wouldn’t you rather fight back by passing on love and encouragement?  I would. 

Whether you feel lonely because you just had a baby or your baby just left or you are left with no baby.  Whether you are down because you have a job or don’t have a job.  If you have health or financial needs, prayerfully consider reaching out. 

Pray for God to bring to mind another woman that could use a friend.  Maybe someone that you wouldn’t normally think of socializing with.  It could be someone way older than you.  Or someone much younger.  One of my girls made and delivered zucchini bread to one of the older widows  in our church this week. 

When I saw the woman on Sunday she told me how much she appreciated it because she really needed someone to talk to.  She was worried Jenna didn’t have a chance to get a word in.  However, if you know Jenna that usually isn’t a problem!

Offer a lunch date.  Or a play date.  Send a note.  Have a baby shower.  Make it more than a one time thing.  Pour love and encouragement into their lives .  The very love and encouragement you desire. 

How does that work if we are already empty?  Look to Jesus for the love and encouragement you need.  As you give, your cup will run over.  He’ll give you all you need and more. 

Even though I walk
   through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
   for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
   they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows. 
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Psalm 23:4-6

Don’t sit home sulking.  That’s what I want to do most days.  Let’s fight back with encouragement. 

Kindergarten can be lonely.  So can adulthood.  Look for someone that needs a friend.  And be there for them.  It will make the world a better place.  And you won’t feel lonely anymore.