Mother Road Warrior

DSC00604That’s right, I’m not afraid of a little snow.  I just returned from a harried, slippery, 4-wheel drive jaunt to the High School.

Real clothes?  Who needs them.  I’ve got my kid’s student council sweat shirt,  complete with coffee splash, to keep me warm.  Bedhead? Check.  Bra? For the weak.  Travel coffee mugs are for wimps.

My sixteen-year-old daughter’s assessment of my “First Snowy Day” look?

“Poor White Trash Clown”

Glad the car didn’t break down.

Saturday Night Introspection

The lonely swing

 

 

 

 

 

 

My house is clean.

My laundry is done.

There’s food in the refrigerator.

I’m the only one home.

Instead of pursuing a career, I raised my kids.

I’m almost done. They’re turning out great.

I did the right thing.

Right?

I’ve worked myself out of a job.

I didn’t expect to miss it this much.

I’m not sure what’s next.

I hope I love it as much as my last job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and he grew up.

This was my little boy – dirt on the face, shoes on the wrong feet…check out the knees of his pants.

This is the kid who

  • Pooped in the neighbor’s yard.
  • Boo-ed his siblings at a recital.
  • Ran away from home to avoid getting an immunization.
  • Pretended to be special-ed for weeks to get out of math, ending with a call from the school offering him special services.
  • Spit into the wind on an observation tower at Gettysburg National Battlefield, hitting an innocent observer square on the chest.
  • Thinking he was lost, ran screaming through Wal-Mart pushing a kiddie cart, me chasing behind him with my cart, yelling his name.
  • Sneaked down stairs on Christmas Eve to put coal in all our stockings.
  • Locked his brothers shoes in a hotel safe and forgot the combination.
  • Dumped my sister out of a kayak into a cold lake.
  • There’s more – I came up with this list in less than five minutes.

Last Friday, my little boy looked like this.  He successfully walked a beautiful young woman through the high school gymnasium as an emcee spoke of his glowing accomplishments. He actually gave a shout out to me, his mother.

I cried.  I’m still crying.  God is good.

Life, Love and Death

ImageThis week, my friend Mary buried her husband Steve.  From a back pew, I watched as she walked up the aisle, followed by her six children to sit in the front row.  There were tears, but they held their heads high.

Steve didn’t have a lot of money, stuff, a fancy house or a fast car. Truly, he wasn’t spectacular by the world’s standards.  But, he had everything.

His wife, my friend, loved him.  She glowed as his friends and family spoke of Steve’s impact in their lives.  There was a moment when she dropped her head as a slide show flashed pictures of their lives together –  a young and handsome groom carrying his bride across a threshold, a glowing new mother and father holding a tiny infant.  He loved her so much. What does it take to get a life like that?

I’m sure with six kids, job issues, moves, college, life was hard for Steve and Mary.  My own life is similar to Mary’s in many ways. With so many marriages failing across the country, I have learned that it takes a commitment to something more than the other person to make a marriage work.  For us, it takes a commitment to God.  I promised God that I would love and honor my husband even when he is not lovable.  It takes two people to do that.  There is such pain when one person in the marriage refuses to keep their commitment. I’ve seen that pain and the following devastation in so many of my friend’s lives. I can’t make John love and cherish me.  There are days when I am profoundly unlovable.  John loves God more than he loves me and he trusts God to give him the strength and ability to love me.  That commitment to God first, and then to me, overflows to our children.  That’s a guy I want to love forever. I saw that in my friend, Mary.  No regrets, Mary and Steve finished well.

Our friend Steve left his children with a precious gift – his unwavering love. He loved God faithfully to the end, despite a terrible, debilitating illness.  They saw him live and die well, with love and thankfulness to God for his life. His sons are fine upright young men following their dad’s example  and starting their own families.  His beautiful daughters know their value.  They watched their dad cherish their mother. He loved them well.

Steve didn’t choose to leave his family, as so many men do.  Steve’s family will display his fingerprint of love and faith.  They will miss him, but his legacy will last through their lifetimes.

In this picture, Steve and his daughter Anna are in the middle.  My husband and daughter are directly to their left.  Our girls were in 8th grade. They are twenty-four now.  We called this event the Father/Daughter.  I’ll write on that next time.  For now, I am very thankful for what I have.

“I’m Bored”

They’re coming…

With summer looming, here are 10 free, kids tested activities I used to keep my kids occupied. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, they worked for me.

HINT: I outlawed TV and the computer during summer daylight hours.  I found my kids to be more content when they didn’t have a screen competing for their attention.  They were “totally bored” for a few days, but boredom breeds creativity. Try it!

1. Frisbee Golf.  Stick up a bunch of numbered paper plates around the yard and you’ve got a course. Make sure you’ve included a couple of “around the tree and under the picnic table” type shots to make it challenging.

2.  Make Butter.  Put some whipping cream and a marble in a clean jar and let them shake it.  Eventually, the cream will separate and there will be a small quantity of butter. This is a good time to talk about the “olden days”.

3. Bug Safari.  I saved peanut butter jars for bugs and other critters. They are light weight and don’t break when dropped.  To put air holes in the lid – heat a length of wire (clothes hangers work well, make it long enough so you don’t burn yourself) over the stove burner and melt it through the lid.

4. Public Library. I pay kids to read. OK, so this one is not free, but it’s money well spent.  Bribery has it’s place, people.

5. Timed Races. Get out the stop watch and time your kids running around the house.  This can be accomplished while sitting in a lawn chair.  Write down their baseline time and challenge them to break it.  Occasionally, I let them time me so they could marvel (laugh) at my athleticism (lack of).

6. Twig Furniture.  I bought a book, Making Twig Garden Furniture, by Abby Ruoff, and put my thirteen-year old son on the task.  If you don’t have access to twigs, you probably know someone who would be thrilled for your kid to come cut and haul some from their yard. My son got so good at furniture making, he actually sold a few pieces to neighbors and local garden shops. The book, or one like it is probably available at the public library.

7. Corn Starch.  Mix a very small amount of water into 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, just until it liquifies and let the kids play with it. Is it a liquid or is it a solid?  I did this outside so I didn’t have to clean up.

8. Car Wash.  Great fun on a hot summer day.  Get out the hose, some sponges and  bucket of soapy water and call the neighbors. Who knows, maybe they’ll make some tip money!

9. Four Square.  The concrete on our driveway is conveniently divided into squares, but chalk or some string will make lines.  All you need is a bouncy ball and lot’s of rules. The more rules the better.  Does a liner count?  Ankle shots?  Back stops?  We sometimes played word four-square.  Say a different state, fruit, boy’s name etc. each time you hit the ball.  If you repeat, your out.

10. Paper Mache.  Another outside activity.   Here’ a link for  home made Paper Mache paste. We used balloons and painted them when they dried out. If you’re really nice and want to buy a bag of candy, you can make a pinata, giving you yet another day’s fun.

Five Times My Kids Made Me Cry…Incident #5

This incident involves all five children in a craven act of destruction and sibling solidarity.  It also involves me and the telephone – a bad combination when paired with parenting.

It was an ordinary day.  I sent the children to the basement to play while I cleaned up lunch. Sometimes it’s lonely in Mommy Land so I decided to call my friend for a few minutes of adult conversation.  I guess I lost track of time.  It was getting along towards nap time and I hadn’t seen or heard a kid for a while. Better check on them.  With my friend still on the line, I went down the basement stairs and landed in three inches of standing water.  I’m not sure, but I think my friend heard my scream without the aid of the telephone.

The children, squealing with glee, didn’t even see me. Two were having a water fight with bathroom cups. One lay with her arms and legs in the water doing the elementary back stroke.  One ran in from the other room, flying feet first through the air and landing with a splash on his butt.  And the final insult … one was sailing a boat.

The bathroom faucet was running full throttle with a sock plugging the drain.  Water spilled over the counter and into the hall.  Splash and play time! Who needs a water park when you can make one in your own in your basement?

Thankfully, their beds were above the water mark and they spent the afternoon on high ground.

Motherhood is filled with life lessons.  That day, I learned to use a shop-vac.