Realization with Millie

Millie was getting ready for bed tonight and she had on something with Blue from Blue’s Clues on it. I pointed out that there was Blue and then had the thought that maybe she didn’t even know who Blue was. I asked her if she knew and she shook her head, “No.” I said, “Oh, come on, you know, Blue from the cartoon – Blue’s Clues?” Still no.

That’s when it hit me. Millie, while the baby of the family, is the most un-baby in what she does, where she goes, what she watches. When everyone else was watching Veggie Tales at that age, Millie is watching The Chronicles of Narnia and Star Wars. She hasn’t seen the Blue’s Clues cartoon because nobody else wants to watch it anymore. Come to think of it I don’t think she’s seen any Veggie Tales either.

I was walking past the baby aisle at Target the other day with all my girls and casually mentioned that I used to browse those aisles all the time, but that I hadn’t been through them in a couple of years now. The toys I buy have an older feel to them too.

So no more baby cartoons, no more baby toys, no more little tiny anything. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I am sure I’m placing a hold on a Blue’s Clues video from the library right now. If she’s going to wear it, she should at least know what it is.

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A Questionable Education

In the category of “Just what are they teaching kids these days?”:

Questionable Education

If we were evaluating the school district to which said bus belonged, this would easily be points in the negative column. The good news? The Ho Bus is for sale!

What a Deal!

As advertised, it is perfect for camping, tailgating, or all your family bonding needs. And, at $2,900, it is a real steal.

Best 8-Year-Old Birthday Party Ever

We had a birthday party for Chloe earlier today (well, technically yesterday, but I’m still thinking of right now as Saturday, so play along).

Sometimes my kids get the super-amazing-me where I come up with party ideas from scratch, prepare the games, do fun foods, invite lots of friends, and am completely worn out for the rest of the day.

This time, though, I got smart. And I got smart quite by accident. I found the Samantha Mystery Party Game on sale for $7 at American Girl about a month ago when I was looking for this school planner for Maddie. I got the game and on the spot decided it would be perfect for Chloe’s party this year.

Samanta's Mystery Party

I was not disappointed. The box came with invitations, so that was another thing to not have to worry about, pay for, or create. When we invited the girls (5 besides my own 4), we assigned them to the various roles they would play during the game. All I had to do was deliver the invitations, decorate the table and make a cake. Easy peasy, rice and cheesy.

They arrived today dressed in character, expecting to read through a script for the party. The read-through took about an hour and the girls were PERFECT. I could hardly believe it. They thought the game was a lot of fun and the surprise twist ending had everyone giggling at the end. With a house full of girls, I consider controlled giggling to be a huge success.

After that it was on to the cake and punch (fancy-ish bottles of Archer Farms Strawberry Pomegranate and Peach Pear Italian Sodas) and from there to the gift opening. Chloe did a fantastic job of being sincerely thankful for everything she received and after she was done, offered to let everyone play with her new things. I’d communicated to the girls that after the gifts were opened we’d just have open ended play time where they could go upstairs or stay down and just enjoy being together. They did exactly that. They all enjoyed Chloe’s new things together and played amazingly well. I changed out of my “Aunt Cornelia” attire and began working on dinner in the kitchen all by myself. I can’t remember ever doing that at a birthday party before.

I don’t know if it was the game or the girls or that I’m no longer feeling the need to over-perform at these functions, or a combination of all three, but I just have to say that this birthday party goes down in my personal records as being the best one we’ve had yet.

Chloe’s real birthday is on Thursday. We’ll take her out for dinner and give her a couple of gifts and it will be a relaxed, low-key day. Just the way we, Chloe included, like it.

C8 as "Samantha"

Oh Yes, That Counts Too

I’m so busy beating myself up because I’ve not had what you would classify as an official “Quiet Time” by those who are members of the official Quiet Time Police, that I forget that I am reading the Word more often than I’m not. Usually it is in the context of reading it to the girls and not really devotional reading, but input is input, right? Tell me I’m right.

Yesterday I did get up and have an official quiet time. Somebody put a sticker on my chart. I started in Exodus which I really really really want to love and understand. Right now, though, it seems I’m just reading it so I can check it off on the Bible reading plan (and yes, if you keep score, you will notice Exodus comes in like February of most Bible reading plans and really it is August, so I’ve obviously not been following the plan very closely). So take the sticker back off my chart.

Anyway, I’m still here to admit that this is a struggle for me. It just might always be. But I will keep trying. It just might come during odd hours of the day when I’m surrounded by four young folks and trying to keep their attention while reading through the book of John. Bless that time, Lord. For them and for me.

Still Here

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…wait, different post.
We took another running start at school this week. Day one was, well, shall we say, difficult? It was certainly a day to make me question my calling again, but now that Craig and I have made some long term goals, I didn't, and that was a really good thing. Knowing that a bad day isn't going to change our plans has done wonders for my mindset this year. All 4 days of it.
Anyway, after a talk from our principal that night, days 2, 3, and 4 have been amazingly better. Truly. They've been fun. And that even in the midst of more goofy house stuff.
The goofy:
On Monday, the plumber came by again to pick up a check from me. On his way out the door, I cheerily said I hoped I'd never see him again. He didn't take it personally. On Tuesday he was back. Our house is still adjusting to us, only this time it wasn't the kitchen but some other small rooms of the house where lots of water goes down small pipes that were previously used by two people who rarely ever used them and are now used by six who use them all the joking time. That's code for saying the sewer guy had to come and send an Alien-vs-Predator looking hose thing with what looked like a large food processor chopping blade at the end through the pipes to clear them all out. Nice.
The good:
On Wednesday, we loaded up the family and headed 90 minutes away to have dinner with Craig's grandpa, because his mom is there with him this week (hi, Char!).
More good:
Tonight we had a cook-out, with most of the families joining us in our Classical Conversations adventure this year, and it was loads of fun of the wild-kid and extroverted-adult variety. Interestingly enough, most of the parents involved are introverts, but we were all doing our darndest to act like extroverts. It was a fun evening, but when we suggested we wrap it up, we all pretty much hit the deck running at the same time. Hilarious.
More goofy:
The bad news of today is that the house inspector came back for his follow-up report. Of all the things we had to do and cost lots and lots and lots, the one thing we never got around to doing was move one smoke detector 5 feet from its current location and adding another one in the attic. Guess what the company man is going to write up in his report tomorrow? Never mind that I promised him I would go to the store the very minute he left and buy the goofy smoke detector (which I did). It will go in his report, along with the news that the county electrical inspector never came to inspect the electricians work (um, information that would have been helpful yesterday). So we're hoping they don't kick us out over these two areas of "negligence." Give me a break, Mr. Meanie. Did you happen to notice the other 20 things we DID get done within the given 30 days?
Still more goofy:
I'm not going to let that spoil an otherwise decent week. Not that, nor the two brothers who live across the street who are apparently having a domestic quarrel in the street as I type. Nope, not going to let that spoil the week either.
Good combined with goofy:
This weekend, we officially re-enter birthday season in our family, with C7 having a party to commemorate becoming C8 (which she will officially do one week from today). After that we don't really stop until February.
Anyway, that's our week in a nutshell. Tomorrow is day 5 of The Dunham Homeschool Adventure 2008-2009. There will be bumps, to be sure, but overall I expect it to be a good day.

I’m Back

I’ve been back since last night, actually, but who is keeping track? I didn’t think so.

As predicted, I’m glad I went. I had a good time and enjoyed meeting some new ladies. I got my “E” on and functioned outside of my personality for most of the weekend. Not exactly what you think of when you think “retreat” but it was what I needed to do. It was also fun to be back in a campish setting because Craig and I will always be camp people. And believe me, nothing says, “Draw near to Jesus” faster than a campground with rolling hills:

Rolling Camp Hills

And a llama:

Tina

I kept calling the llama “Tina” all weekend, but I don’t think anyone understood why. Oh well. I cracked myself up by telling the llama to come get some ham, and eat the food and all that.
Craig has hung the closed sign on our summer, but I must admit, I’m mourning the loss of the summer. Between packing to move, moving, unpacking from the move, and staring with glazed eyes as men with tools took over our house for two weeks, I’m finally feeling like maybe we can call this place ours. I’d like to enjoy it a little before the fall carries us away.

With no plumbers here to get us off track tomorrow, and my new printer fully functioning, I don’t have a lot of excuses to not at least do something schoolish tomorrow, so we will. But we’ll also probably knock off a little early and head to the pool while we still can.

I’m going to milk every last ounce out of summer that I can. Because I finally can.

Chapter 3: A Secure Love

From Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel:

This chapter opens with the quote that, “All children are born with a need to love, and be loved, a need to live lives that have meaning, and a need to believe that tomorrow is worth getting up for.” I read this and immediately think, “Oh yeah? Well so do I!” And I don’t mean that in a snarky way, but it was a good realization to me that children aren’t just these little pint-sized humans who have underdeveloped brains. They are truly people, made in the image of God, and with God-given needs. On page 46, Kimmel writes, “This [secure love] is a steady and sure love that is written on the hard drive of children’s souls. It’s a complete love that they default to when their hearts are under attack. It’s the kind of love that children can confidently carry with them into the future.” This is what every child, lo, every person, needs. A steady and sure love written on the hard drives of our souls.

Easier said than done, though, right? Kimmel explains that though most parents do indeed love their children, most times the love they give is incomplete. That many times children feel they have to compete for it, or earn it. Kimmel defines love on page 52 as, “the commitment of my will to your needs and best interests, regardless of the cost.” As a flawed person myself, I’m not sure I’m always able to adequately determine what the best interests of my kids are. I’m almost always certain to be able to determine what I think my own best interests are. Okay, I may be selling myself short here. I do keep what I hope are their best interests in mind much of the time, it’s just that it is so easy for me to let myself get in the way of that too.

On page 54 he says, “…saying that we love our children and doing certain things that communicate love isn’t enough. We’ve got to love them in the way that God loves us—when they’re unappreciative, when they don’t deserve it, when it’s inconvenient, when it is costly to us, even when it’s painful…children feel secure when they know they are accepted as they are.” Wow. How can I even expand on that? I’ve been really mindful all week of my own responses to my kids’ sinful choices, due, in part, to reading this book this week. I’m here to tell you that almost without fail, whenever I resolve to do better in this area with them, they test me all the more on it. We had one particular day in which nobody could do anything right for one particular girl. She was easily annoyed, and purposefully annoying. When I tried to reason with her, she developed a surprised attitude like she couldn’t even believe there was anything she’d done to deserve a removal from the room and a conversation about it. I get so easily offended by these responses, and believe me, on this particular day, this scenario was of the wash, rinse, repeat variety.

James 1 tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I sort of wonder if he’s teaching a parenting class here because this is what it feels like over and over and over. The thing I forget, though, is as the next verse of that passage says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him.”

Here I am. I’m asking. Wisdom, please, a whole heaping house full.

On page 59, Kimmel finishes telling us a heart-breaking story of a mom and boy on vacation. There’s a breakfast buffet and he’s so excited to partake, but she steals his joy by telling him he can’t have it (even though she’s getting it). When the dad joins the family a few minutes later and sees his boy quietly crying, he questions her on it and the boy is allowed to go through the line. His joy returns. But when he came back with his plate loaded with all kinds of starchy, sugary goodness, the mom berates him again for his poor choices, wastefulness, bad nutrition, etc. In my retelling of it, I’m not doing a very good job of conveying the heart issues involved here, but the boy was seriously deflated. After telling the story, Kimmel says, “I’ve heard it all over the years. I’m very aware of how strict, no-nonsense parents morally justify everything they do. My questions are these: Was it worth it? Is that the way God treats us? Does God tease us with good things, insult us for being excited about them, and then scold us for trying to enjoy them?”

I made it until the first question there. Was it worth it? I cried. I’ve asked myself the same question before after a situation with one of the kids. Honestly, sometimes, yes, it was because they needed to be called on something. Other times, no, it really wasn’t. I was disciplining them for a failing to live up to a preference of mine rather than for a biblical standard. That is never worth it.

On page 65, Kimmel says, “If they’re forming a line for parents who have fallen short, and you feel that you should be in it, you’ll have to get in line behind me. We’ve all fallen short. We may not have pulled a scene like the mother at the buffet, but we’ve stolen our children’s joy unnecessarily more times than we’d like to count. We’ve turned non-issues into crises. We’ve sculpted molehills into mountains. We’ve reached inside our children’s hearts and pinched them simply because we could.” He goes on to say that what we as parents really need is to hear Him say, “It’s all right. I forgive you. I’ll help you recover from the mistakes you’ve made with your kids.”

I do want to hear that. I want to beg God for wisdom. I want to experience His forgiveness. I want to share what this feels like to my kids.

Retreating

I’m going on a retreat with some women from my church tonight. I don’t retreat very well. I mean, I don’t retreat with others very well. I’m sure it will be good for me, yada yada yada. I’d still sort of rather stay home and watch a movie with my kids.

As it is, I’ve arranged to ride with three other gals (shocker), but I’m not becoming an entirely different person. I just received Katie’s Writing With Ease Level 1 workbook from The Complete Writer series in the mail today. I’m taking it along to read on the way.

Am I a dork or what?

So, off I go to pack my backpack and get ready to have a rip-roaring good time.

Peace out.

Round 2

Ask Me

I’ve got two more to do, but they aren’t quite as fun – one with a red cross on it for the nurse’s office and one with a book for the library. I’m not sure either of them will be finished in time for Craig’s first day of students tomorrow, but that’s okay. This all-purpose pass should suffice for the time being.

Showing Up the Proverbs 31 Woman

Finally, all those years of making team flags for Eagle Lake has paid off. Craig asked me tonight if I could come up with some clever, semi-permanent hall passes for him to use this year because he got tired of writing them over and over again last year. He also wanted something that would hopefully deter students from wanting to use them too often.

Tonight I selected wool and flax. I worked with eager hands. I came up with this:

Bathroom Hall Pass

One down, three to go. Is it wrong that I had a little too much fun making this tonight?