Tuesday, August 04, 2015


I found the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny through the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog. (I have liked a lot of her recommendations, and though this mystery had an element or two that I could've done without, I think the writing is good enough that I'll read the next one.) Anyway, I marked a passage in "Still Life" that got my attention the other day.

Inspector Gamache is talking with a local bookstore owner, and they have a conversation about a book called "Loss" by Brother Albert. The author's theory is that life is loss, and Myrna gives him her thoughts about the book.

" 'I think he's right. I was a psychologist in Montreal before coming here a few years ago. Most of the people came through my door because of a crisis in their lives, and most of those crises boiled down to loss. Loss of a marriage or an important relationship. Loss of security. A job, a home, a parent. Something drove them to ask for help and to look deep inside themselves. And the catalyst was often change and loss.' "

'Are they the same thing?'

'For someone not well skilled at adapting they can be.'

'Loss of control?'

'That's a huge one, of course. Most of us are great with change, as long as it was our idea. But change imposed from the outside can send some people into a tailspin. I think Brother Albert hit it on the head. Life is loss. But out of that, as the book stresses, comes freedom. If we can accept that nothing is permanent, and change is inevitable, if we can adapt, then we're going to be happier people.' "

My toughest times have been when I've been fighting change that I don't like. As a recent example, there's been a wonderful activity that we've been involved in for a couple of years that is changing in several ways that I don't like, and I can't do anything to change that.

But I've noticed that I have some hope that it will work out OK anyway and that I'll adapt. I'm hopeful that  the changes won't be a deal breaker for my family or that improvements will be made so that the negatives don't seem so negative.

A few years ago, I would've stewed about it more. I felt less adaptable to loss. Maybe I'm growing up or maybe the basics of security are in place so that I can handle loss in small doses better. Maybe God is working in my heart to accept His will better and see that my loss isn't necessarily loss in His equation.

Either we'll find ways to adapt or we will stop doing this and look around to see what He has for us somewhere else. There will be something to gain out of the experience no matter which way it goes, and I'm hoping I will remember that when it counts. :)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Seth explains his latest invention....

We've been looking at the Frugal Fun for Boys blog, and Seth got the idea to make this from one of their posts. I'm going to let him explain it in his own words. Take it away, Seth!

"First, you nail four nails on a square piece of wood, one in each corner."

"Second, you put four rubber bands onto the nails."

"Third, you pull the car back against the rubber bands."

"Then you let it go. So the idea is you pull two cars back and they bounce against the rubber bands, and the one that hits the other car is the winner."

Friday, July 10, 2015

Me and Leonardo....

A couple of months ago, I got a picture book called "Leonardo's Horse" from the library. We've been studying the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and I've found some real gems there to help us in our study. 

This book was an interesting story about the massive bronze horse that Leonardo Da Vinci wanted to build and the man who tried to make his dream a reality just a few years ago. I learned a thing or two about Da Vinci that I hadn't known before, but what was most interesting to me was his obsession with this horse.

According to the book, he despaired toward the end of his life because he wasn't going to be able to build it. He talked about it on his death bed, and he worried that his life was in vain because he couldn't create his dream. This great man, who gave so much to the world, wasn't focusing on the Mona Lisa or the Last Supper or his amazing inventions. Instead, he was worried that he hadn't accomplished anything worthwhile during his full life because casting this horse was out of his reach.

This last year has been a lovely one for me, but it's also been a time of disappointment and heartache. After two years of trying, I think I'm about to give up on the idea of having another baby. This was something that we felt like God was asking us to do, and though there were times that I panicked a bit at the thought, I tried to be obedient and open. But nothing happened, and now it seems that we were wrong about what He wanted. Being so out of tune with God's direction for us is just as hard in some ways as going back into infertility.

I've struggled on and off over the years with my dream to have a daughter, and the hurt has gotten greater lately as I've realized that this desire is probably going to go unfulfilled. I can tell myself that I knew that already, but I didn't feel it like I do now.

My youngest is getting older, and we're starting to see a new phase of life that sometimes means that the guys go off and happily do guy things together and Mommy gets left behind. (There's nothing wrong with this. I want them to do guy things together, but it means I'm having to adapt.)

So, Leonardo and I have had a lot in common. Some of our desires haven't matched up with God's plans for us.

Infertility hurts. It makes you doubt your worth and whether your life is pleasing to God. It makes you wonder if He ever cared about any of your dreams. 

I haven't ever had the luxury of feeling like my fertility was a gift from God especially for me. Having to fight to get pregnant (twice) and never having it happen when I thought it would has meant that I've had to face the fact that these children are God's plan and not my plan. They aren't ultimately for me; they're for Him. The fact that none of them are the girl that I prayed for amplifies that fact. 

These aren't my only plans that haven't come to fruition in the last year. At this point, I feel confused and frustrated and sad and sometimes, yes, unloved. 

But I don't really want to be like Leonardo. We all think it's ridiculous that he's staring out the window in longing while the Mona Lisa sits behind him in shadows, right? Why can't he see the beauty of his life instead of what he didn't accomplish?

I keep a Bible verse on the windowsill above my kitchen sink where I will see it when I'm doing dishes. Right now, it's a favorite since I was a teen:

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup, you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."- Psalm 16: 5-6

Sometimes you just have to pray and study through the hurt and ask Him to heal it in His own time and in His own way. And be determined to look for the Mona Lisa's in your life that are hiding right in plain sight. 

Monday, June 15, 2015



We're into the happiest part of summer. This is the part when the days stretch in front of us full of promise, the smell of sunscreen and chlorine still make me smile, and my kitchen has never been cleaner because we're eating so many meals at the pool.

Almost every evening finds us at swim practice. My little band of swim suited men follow me past the ping pong table and the concessions stand, dragging pool noodles and an assortment of lethal water guns.

Seth has practice first. I watch his skinny frame glide through the water, mostly identifiable by his bright green goggles. I see the improvement that he's made since last summer, and, more importantly, he does, too. "I passed someone tonight. And I passed someone last night, too, Mommy." ;)

While Seth swims, the little boys play and then come over to me to eat whatever dinner I've managed to scrounge together before it's their turn. We're feasting on the best of summer produce, peaches, watermelon, big, juicy grapes. They eat trail mix and lunch meat and cheese and bread and pizza I've picked up at Little Caesar's on the way, and tonight, I even managed to bring taco salad (and keep the taco meat hot!)

Then it's Ben and Evan's turn. They're swimming in the 6 and under group, so they're mostly getting carried through the water. Ben is the baby of the team. I picked up his black swim trunks tonight. They're impossibly small. Yes, he's on the team, but he wears his puddle jumper as he runs fearlessly off the diving board, crowing loudly all the way down.

David has started joining us after work. It's so hot that we're in the water just for relief from the heat. Though I avoid water gun battles, I am often caught in the crossfire. Sometimes I turn on them with a gun of my own, and they giggle and jump away, delighted.

We come home, and I drape suits and towels over the chairs and the swing on the back porch. Naked little boys play with Legos and Magnatiles instead of heading up to bed like they should. I put a few things in the washing machine.

I know that tomorrow morning will find me sitting with a book after breakfast is over instead of getting ready to start school. Maybe I'll be listening in the background to this book on CD for the thousandth time. They put it in the CD player near our kitchen table and press play while they build and create. Seth tells me that I'll be doing summer school to learn about droids. They pull out games and blocks that have been neglected all year. I am recruited to play table tennis.

Sweet, sweet summer....

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Stitch Fix, no. 3....

This was my third Stitch Fix, and I think they really hit it out of the park with this one. Nothing in this selection made me look chunky or hugged my mummy tummy, and that is really saying something. I've been out shopping for spring clothes, and it's been hard for me to find flattering fits.

I think it probably made a difference this time that I linked my previous blog posts to the note I gave to the stylist and begged her to please look at them. Then she could see what my body type really looked like, my coloring, etc. She told me that she did look at them in the note she included with the box, so I know the effort wasn't in vain. :) I am not tech savvy, but if you don't have a blog, you still might be able to figure out how to send a picture or pin pictures of yourself to your style pinboard. 

In this box, I asked for some casual summer dresses and tops. I was sent 2 tops and 3 dresses. 

Top No. 1- A little blousier looking from the side than from head on. I might've considered keeping it if it wasn't for the highly unfortunately placement of certain oval shaped pattern elements. Ahem. I looked at the styling card, and the fabric pattern on that did not have this problem. I think they need to take this particular blouse out of circulation.

Top. No. 2- When I pulled this out of the box, I thought it was definitely too loud. I wouldn't have picked this up in the store and tried it on, but it looked surprisingly good on. I'm thinking I may keep this one. Also, it's pretty season-less, so I could see wearing it in the fall as well. It wasn't see through, so I think I can get by without wearing a cami underneath, and that's always a plus in my book.

Dress No. 1- When I put this on, I smiled pretty widely. I love it. It's very comfortable. The color is actually a lot more wine than red. I think it's flattering up top, and I don't mind the bell shape to the skirt because it's a bell all the way around and doesn't highlight the pooch. At $38, it's about the same as I would pay for a dress at Target, and Target has nothing like this right now. I've looked.

Dress No. 2- Meh. A little more retro than I'm going for. I don't love the white detailing. The short sleeves weren't that flattering, and neither was the waistline. This is going back. It was my least favorite piece in the box. 

Dress No. 3- I've been looking in the stores for a maxi dress to love, and I've had no luck. I am so pleased with this dress. It touches the top of my feet, but I think I can also gather it up a little more and make it a bit higher. Since the ones in the store are apparently for women 5'8" or above, this was a winner from a length standpoint, and that's a big deal. Definitely keeping this. It was the most expensive item in the box at $78.

The more fixes I get, the more pleased I am with them. They suggested that that might be the case, and I'm finding it to be true! I ordered some items from Lands End, and that box came in the same day as Stitch Fix. I am so pleased with this box, though, that almost everything in that box is probably going back, and even with a sale from Lands End, it looks like these items will be cheaper overall.

If you want to try this for yourself, please consider using my referral link. I get a little off the next box if you do, and since I seem to be getting a box about once or twice a year, that definitely helps my clothing budget.

As you can see, I'm not a model, nor am I pencil thin. ;) I wear a size 8-10 in the typical brands from places like Target, Gap, and Old Navy. If this can work for me, it can work for a lot of women I know. Give it a try! You might be pleasantly surprised!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Good things...

- A cool, rainy day to stay inside and snuggle on the couch with new books. 
- The kind employee at the Dollar Book Exchange who "hid" a nice Star Wars book in a big bin of kid's books and convinced Evan to "look again." :) 
- Evan asking all day if it was time for him to make a Star Wars Lego kit for Ben.
- "I'll wait here while you wake Ben up, Mommy," and he stayed on the bottom of the stairs, itching with anticipation of the big reveal.
- Ben's spontaneous and muffled "thank you" from around his passy after Evan unveiled his treasure.

- A 3-year-old wandering around in a scrounged toboggan and one glove.
- The new card system for deciding who gets to pick a Netflix show next. Their names written on an index card with a paper clip next to the current picker. So easy. So wonderful for avoiding fights.
- Purple lupine in my neighbor's yard. And my plans to see if I can get it to come up in a spot in mine.
- Remembering before getting late fees that the library books need to be renewed online today.

- A simple way to get back to the blog after being away for too long. And pictures finally uploaded to the computer to share.
- A successful camping trip with the boys. And the downed tree at our campsite that they bounced on, giggling like nuts. Playground equipment provided by God. 
- Chuck roast braising in the oven for dinner. And the pure joy that will inevitable appear on Seth's face when I announce mashed potatoes to go with it. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Leaving the books out...

I think Evan made Ben this awesome plane. At least, I think it's a plane. Could be a tractor. Maybe.

There's this super simple thing I've started doing lately that's making a difference in our homeschool. I'm guessing probably everybody does it already, and I'm the last one walking into the party with my maracas, but just in case somebody else here has not yet arrived in their sombrero... here goes.

I leave out unfinished work. 

Yep, that's it. Told ya it was bonehead simple.

I shall expound, however. So, at morning time, I take out all the books I will be using, and I put them in a pile next to me on the floor by the sofa. Said sofa is in the picture above. As we use each one, it goes into one of the many small cloth crates I have lying around (also pictured in the left hand corner of the picture above.) We sing a hymn, hymnal goes into crate, read SOTW, it goes into the crate, etc. But I often forget to do Seth's reading lesson for the day (we're finishing up Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading), so I leave that one out. It may be lying on the arm of the sofa, or it may be on the floor, but I DO NOT put it away.

This way, when I walk by it over and over again, I will remember that we haven't done that yet. Its presence is like a flashing red beacon saying, "Your son doesn't know enough about compound words yet. Use me! Love me!" 

Same goes for the pile of books for tablework on the kitchen table. I put out a stack for Seth and a stack for Evan. Seth's stack got done early in the day, but Evan's didn't. It was still sitting there after lunch, mocking me. "Get to me. You know you'll feel better if you do, even if he is just in pre-K. Ahh. Doesn't that feel good?" 

You're welcome. I'm just here to make you feel better about yourself. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Homeschool mom t-shirts...

Ok, so if you homeschool, I know you've seen those homeschool mom t-shirts. I've walked by that booth at the homeschool conference. I'll slow down in the middle of my mad dash to get to Rainbow Resource before they're out of my preferred spelling book, but I don't slow down much.

Maybe this is considered sacrilege, but most of those t-shirts make me cringe a bit. Yeah. Sorry, but it's true.

One of the best sellers seems to be this one that says "I'm a homeschool mom. What's your superpower?" Then there's this one about being a full time multi-tasking ninja. Maybe I could like the one about being in love with your kid's principal, but I think "yeah, too confusing and possibly risqué."

I think what I don't like about most of these shirts is the tone of "we can do it all, and we're proud of it."

I'm telling ya, if I was wearing one of those bad boys to the park, that would be the day that my boys decided to play rough with all the toddlers, and then my oldest would come up to me and say, "Mom, how do you spell "us" again?"

Where's the t-shirt that says, "I'm a homeschooling mom, and I'm completely exhausted, and we're behind in math, and I'm just praying that I'm not making my children stupid?" Yeah, they're not making those yet, shockingly enough.

People buy t-shirts that say that they're proud of their sports team or they love chess or that they think Wyoming is beautiful. I know t-shirt sayings don't mean that much.

But when I see those t-shirts I think about the mom I met on the playground the other day who asked me how many boys I have, and then she told me that she'd homeschooled her two boys for a year. "They were so close together in age, and it was just too hard." I'd had a rough morning with my guys, and I understood. I could look at her and say, "I know what you're saying."

In my state, homeschooling is an increasingly popular education choice. Last year, there were more children in my county being homeschooled than were enrolled in our private schools. Homeschooling feels like it should be a viable option to a lot of families around here, and it seems to me that some of the people who aren't choosing it feel like they're not choosing it because they aren't strong enough.

How are those moms going to feel if I show up in a "homeschooling superwoman" shirt that is a complete lie on most of my exceptionally ordinary days with my non-child prodigy children who are not reading the Latin Vulgate for fun?

I want this company to make this into a t-shirt. I'd totally buy this one. Totally. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The next stage of mothering...

A friend of a friend posted this article on Facebook yesterday called "I'm Afraid to Stop Having Babies."  I talked about it with David last night and with a close friend today.

Ben is 3 now, and though he still has his passy at nap time, and though he still snuggles against me when he wakes up groggy from his nap, I see the day approaching when he'll no longer seem like a toddler. It's so easy for me to want to keep him a baby.

The baby stage is what I've lived and breathed for the last 7 years. That feels like such a long time in my life as a mother, and I've grown comfortable there. The unknown future with older children honestly seems scary to me, and though I know that's probably largely because I fear the unknown, it's still hard.

Maybe part of what I'm mourning is the loss of a simpler time of mothering. Parenting babies is tough, but it doesn't feel as complex to me as trying to figure out what sports would be best for my oldest or how to prepare him for yearly achievement testing. I knew what I was supposed to be doing with my little ones and how to do it (for the most part). We had fewer activities. Instead of tae kwon do and Cub Scouts, it was playing at the park and blowing bubbles in our cul de sac.

I'm beginning to navigate different waters now with my slightly older children, and I don't know what I'm doing. There are days that I really feel that.

I also don't feel like I was prepared somehow for mothering after the baby stage. All my life, I looked forward to getting married and having babies. That was what I dreamed about. The time after they were babies didn't get any consideration from me. I just didn't imagine it.

So now I'm here, living in an in between space. My youngest is still a toddler, but my oldest is in 2nd grade. Even if I had another baby tomorrow, the days of only parenting young ones are over for me. I probably just need to mourn the passing of that phase and get excited about the next one, and I know it.

Knowing it doesn't mean that it doesn't still feel sad and confusing sometimes. It doesn't mean that I shouldn't shed a tear or two about giving away the baby gear. Welcoming a new person into your family is such a  wonderful and special and unique kind of exciting. Feeling like you won't do that again should feel like a kind of loss, right?

I think my phrase for this year is going to be "Fear Not." I have a lot of fears, but I don't want to be ruled by them. More of my friends and acquaintances are dealing with cancer and health problems and parents dying. I've been dealing with chronic illness. Maybe part of wanting to stay in the young mother stage is wanting to live as if the natural difficulties of getting older can't touch me if I park there.

But I can't park there, and I want to live boldly and joyfully while it is still called today. I can't control what happens tomorrow, but I can fight to trust that God is good. He has good things for me and my family, and even though I don't have a clue what I'm doing so often in this parenting gig, and even though I don't know what trials will surely come, today is what I've got. I'm not supposed to worry about tomorrow. I'm supposed to serve and love and open my arms wide to welcome what He has for me, whatever that is.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Post Christmas...

We've been hit with a virus that's going around town, and I don't have much pleasant to say about the last few days. Fevers, coughs, snotty noses, and bad nights of sleep are things I don't really want to write about, much less slog through. We discovered that Evan had thrown up (from a snotty stomach probably) when we arrived at church for the Christmas Eve service, so we turned around and went home. That was pretty disappointing, but we had a pretty good Christmas anyway before David and Ben and I came down with the bug. 

But I do have a sweet story! :) Ben is only allowed to have a passy now at nap time. That has made his passy a treasured possession, lemme tell ya. Anyway, we have a baby doll wrapped in a white receiving blanket that we put on the table in the living room on Christmas Day. Ben decided that Baby Jesus needed a passy. He put his passy in Baby Jesus' mouth, and ran off as we all smiled. 

At nap time on Christmas Day, Ben looked longingly at Baby Jesus' passy. We asked him if he'd like to borrow it from Baby Jesus for his nap time. So he enthusiastically popped it in his mouth, and we headed upstairs for nap. After nap, the first thing he said was "I give the passy back to Baby Jesus now." And so he did, just as as soon as he got downstairs. :) 

He's gone through this routine for several days now. I'm putting off putting Baby Jesus away because it's so cute. :)