Saturday, September 29, 2007

How Do You Measure

I was outside this crisp fall morning working on my stone retaining wall in front of our house, with the two boys playing in the yard, when Green Bean fell and hurt his finger. I picked him up and held him, stopping to soak in the feeling of holding his long slender body in my lap, dreading the day he outgrows that kind of treatment, when he reached down and picked up the tape measure I'd been using.

He stretched it out in front of my shoulders. "I measure you, Mommy."

"Oh. How wide am I?" Content that this is no actual measurement being taken.

"Um... 4 pounds."

"Okay, that's not so bad."

"I 4 pounded you."

You have to record conversations like this, because they don't stay in the memory forever, and they're impossible to recreate. I remember being a motivated colorer of coloring books as a child (my siblings and I were ever competing for who could stay in the lines best), as we got to get a new one only after we'd finished the one we currently owned. I'd developed into an expert colorer, so it was with fascination that my mom brought out a coloring book I had used as a toddler. I couldn't believe those scribbles were made by my very own hands, so long ago that no memory of them remained in my mind.

I think that will be Green Bean's feeling when he reads conversations he once had with me.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Theology of Leisure

Sunday afternoon as I was cleaning up from lunch I had a hankering to listen to...something. Ever since we subscribed to high speed internet I've been enjoying the virtually endless choices of radio shows to listen to whenever it's convenient (except Rush have to pay to listen to his show on the internet, and while I think his radio show is entertaining and thought provoking, no way will I pay for the privilege of hearing his opinions.)

I especially make use of internet listening in the mornings as I'm working out. I've done my aerobics video often enough that I don't need to listen to Denise Austen's instructions and encouragements ("Shape that rear's the last thing that leaves the room!") And the half hour goes by much more quickly when something else is helping me think about interesting topics unrelated to exercise.

Some of my favorite "listens":
Living on the Edge - Chip Ingram
The Dave Ramsey Show
Let my People Think - Ravi Zacharias
Focus on the Family - Dr. James Dobson

But on Sunday afternoon none of those ones appealed to me. I'd stumbled onto snippets of "The View" on the ABC website the day before, and I was more in the mood for tart, opinionated discussions. But I hesitated to turn it on, because the topics those ladies had covered were just... trite at best, unnecessarily crass and profane at worst. Then I thought of my beloved English and literature professor from Moody Bible Institute, Dr. de Rosset.

Months ago I googled "Dr. Rosalie de Rosset" because I just missed her and all her tart opinions but especially how she stretched my thinking and inspired me to go beyond my easy and comfortable reads and spend my reading time in great novels and classics, deepening my understanding and enlarging my perspectives.

I decided to go back and listen to one of her lectures that I'd found available online. And when I googled her name this time I found one I hadn't seen before. The Theology of Leisure, a discussion on Moody Broadcasting Network's "Midday Connection".

I thought it was ironic that on a Sunday afternoon, my "day of rest" in which I was trying to decide what to fill my time with, I came across a discussion of the right way to fill leisure time. I'm so glad I didn't turn to "The View".

While Dr. de Rosset goes on a small tirade about technology, I know it must come from personal experience. An imbalance that makes a person realize that the internet and e-mailing and blogging have certain addictive qualities, and anything out of balance decreases a person's quality of life. Especially when that addiction or compulsion pulls you away from God's amazing creation and interaction face to face with people He's put in your life. So while I've been discovering the wonder that is the world wide web for the past 6 months or so (in depth, I mean. I'd been on-line before. Just not nearly as often when it took 20 minutes to load my e-mail. No, I didn't do much surfing then.) I've also become acquainted with how easy it is to spend too much time delving for information at the expense of the happy moments spent reading to a hazel eyed, thoughtful lover of books and rolling on the floor with his chubby laughing blue eyed with blond curls younger brother.

Here's to thoughtful, intentional uses of leisure time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Here I go!

I've decided to join the club. The 238 other club members who are posting reading goals for the fall. As a newbie to the blogging world, sometimes I just want to fit in.

And I like the challenge. Although I'm not sure being a member of a fall reading club will actually give me more minutes in a day to read. I feel like I read as often as I can find spare minutes as it is...

But the truth is, I am kind of stuck in the slowing sticky muddiness of informative reading right now. Postmodernism 101 by Heath White. The topic fascinates me, and my best friend, who loaned me the book, is teaching a high school Bible class on Christianity in the postmodern world. I have the additional fire under my seat because I know she'll need the books back soon that she loaned me. But still, an informational book doesn't call out to me from the bedside or the coffee table or wherever I last set it down like a story with a plotline does. So my reading becomes limited to the actual time I plan it in, instead of being picked up any spare minute I find in order to see what happens next to the gripping character in my novel.

Maybe having goals will spur me on to pick this book up a little more often. (= It's good, it really is.

Here's my list:

Postmodernism 101 by Heath White: "A first course for the curious Christian." The idea that our culture is undergoing a major shift in the way it approaches life is deeply interesting to me. And what I'm reading rings true. I love that embracing mystery and acknowledging that God is beyond simple formulas and easy steps is part of the transformation of our approach to Him.

Post-Modern Pilgrims by Leonard Sweet: "First century passion for the 21st century world." Another informative book. But it looks excellent. I can't wait to get to it. "Casting ahead the anchor of ancient tradition."

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki: My Hero wants me to read this one, and I told him I would long ago, and I finally started it a few months ago, and got sidetracked by other books. I enjoyed what I've read so far, but Kiyosaki's approach to life and wealth doesn't entirely ring true to me. Still, it has broadened my perspective on the potential money has to make more money if you educate yourself to really be an expert about a given field. If you really know real estate, for example, or anitques, you can spot bargains and turn them around to make money fairly easily. I'm about half way through, so I ought to be able to finish. Which will reassure my husband that I really do love him and value his opinion and have interest in what interests him.

Saint Ben, a novel by John Fischer: My Hero gave me this book for my birthday because it was on my wish list. Someone recommended it somewhere online. I can't remember who or why. I ought to make notes of those things when I add a book to my wishlist. But I expect it will be a good read. Although I'm learning I'm a sucker for recommendations. Advertisments? Don't trust them. But someone else saying they LOVE a product? I'm sold. At least until I try it myself.

Flabbergasted by Ray Blackston: another birthday gift from My Hero, from my wishlist, of which I don't remember who recommended it or why. It looks like a fun read, although I'm skeptical now, looking at the cover and reading the back, about how worth my time it will be. Still, a fun, easy read may be just the thing after I'm through with the THREE informative books on my list.

And that's all. I hope I'll read many more, but it's my first time keeping track, and I like actually accomplishing goals I set for myself. If I do this again, I'll have a better idea what's realistic, but this fall I'll start with just five, two of which I'm already at least halfway through. Go, me!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pronoun Conundrum

Green Bean figured out the pronoun "me" long ago, that when he uses it, it refers to himself. All his sentences were "Me weally wuv my bunny," "Me want to do it!" "Me have some," etc.

Just yesterday and today he has begun to use "I". And now that he realizes he's been using "me" incorrectly, it sounds wrong to him in every sentence. He now says, "Hey! Let I do it!" "Give I one cookie, please," "You let I turn the water on?"

I wonder how many other nuances of language he's picked up on consciously and changed without me noticing.

Peanut Butter, on the other hand, uses very few words. He communicates nonverbally, through his tone of voice. He's the LOUDEST little boy I've ever met. My ears are hypersensitive, and loud noises tend to cause me pain, but I think he's working on dulling my hearing for me. In a year or two no baby's cry will bother me again. I'll be blissfully unaware of anyone's needs unless they write it out and stick it in front of me.

Really, my nonverbal son is pretty much intelligable just by the expression he uses and his tone of voice. We give him something and it sounds like he told us, "thank you!" even though no words came out. I begin preparing supper and he heads over to his high chair, stretches his arms up as if he's trying pull himself up, and makes, "Please notice me, I'm hungry and I want food" noises. I ask him if he wants some milk, and he makes a pleased /satisfied squeal and heads for the fridge where I hand him his sippy cup. I think he could get by indefinitely with what he's mastered so far, but here's one mama who hopes that learning to speak words will significantly decrease the number of times he howls at the top of his lungs each day.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Love of Money

Green Bean earned his first commission two days ago. My Hero is leading Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University this fall, and last week Dave Ramsey talked about teaching your kids to handle money with wisdom. He recommends giving 3-5 year olds a clear container and as they earn dollars for doing small tasks, wadding up the bills and stuffing them in the jar so they can see the money pile up. Then taking an occasional trip to "Toys 'R' Them" to spend it.

Well, My Hero and I don't feel like our budget could sqeeze dollar bills out right now to support a new toy fund, and we want it to be a consistent, daily habit of cleaning up toys before bed and earning some money, so Green Bean earns a nickel each time he helps me clean up the toys before bed. I cleaned and took the label off a small glass spice jar, so it will fill up in a month or two. And we'll probably just take Green Bean to the $.88 isle in Wal-Mart now and then to choose his toy. Or the DOLLAR STORE...that would be so much better...a whole store to choose from! Start small, and we can always up his pay as he grows. We have lots of big dreams for My Hero's next big raise. (=

We explained the idea to Green Bean on Saturday morning and gave him the jar. He really wanted a nickel to put in it, but I told him he'd get one later. Then in the evening I reminded him of the jar for the nickel, and told him it was time to pick up the toys in his bedroom so he could earn that little silver disc. He helped, and when I gave him the nickel he was PROUD. He put it in the jar and shook it and took the top on and off and played with it, and really seemed to value it more because he'd earned it.

We did the same thing last evening, and he earned his second nickel. He held his jar with his two nickels and said, "Me weally wuv my nickels." I warned him that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, purely for My Hero's benefit, so he could look at me and shake his head and roll his eyes. Since at this point Green Bean has no idea that his two nickels could buy him... um, what could $.10 buy, anyway? I can't come up with one thing. We'll introduce the idea of spending the money once he's saved up a little more.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

1,000 Gifts

15. Sending Green Bean, barely three, out to the garden to find a tomato for our lunch.

16. The eagerness and gladness on his face as he turns to fulfill my request. The purpose in his steps as he picks his way through tangled pumpkin vines to the tomato plants.

17. His thoughtful, careful selection. Pick, it has a hole. Discard. Pick another, no, again, rot has eaten it away on one side. Pick a third...okay, this one is whole. He makes his way out of the garden towards the house. "Is it a good one?" I call through the open kitchen window. "It's squishy," he says. "Oh. Could you find me one that isn't squishy?" I ask, knowing it's a difficult task in my mostly gone by garden. He turns around, picks his way back to the plants, and resumes his search. This time he picks one, examines it, and confidently heads for the house. "Did you find a good one?" I call. "Yes," he smiles. He brings it in to me, and it is indeed a good tomato.

18. The pride I feel welling up every time a son learns to do something new.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Misguided Ideas of Childhood

I read this post from Raising Butterflies and it reminded me of some of my own misguided ideas from childhood. But the one that sticks out most clearly in my memory actually belongs to my little brother, who is 17 years younger than I.

He was sick with a fever and vomiting one of those viruses that make you feel utterly miserable, and my mom was awake with him, caring for him, helping him through. "Mom, isn't there any medicine you can give me to help me get better?" he asked desperately. Mom shook her head, "No, honey, I'm sorry. This is a virus, and there's no medicine that can just make it go away."

In the morning he felt much much better, and he seemed dileriously happy. "Mom, I'm feeling better!" He couldn't seem to get over the fact that he was no longer sick, and eventually it began to dawn on Mom that my little brother had been under the impression that he was incurably ill and would be for the rest of his life. While she had meant that with a virus you just have to stick it out and let the sickness pass on its own, he had understood her to mean that he would be in pain and misery for the rest of his life. What a long night that must have been.

Unlimited Good Things

How do you maintain balance when you have unlimited access to good things? Like blogging. I could read blogs all day long, if I didn't have other commitments like putting food on the table, keeping us all clean, and, you know, molding the characters and educating the minds of two little boys. I could stay up all night reading blogs, and last night I did...stayed up too late reading blogs. But why stop when they offer mental stimulation, compelling arguments about worthy topics, challenges to me of the physical, mental, and spiritual sort? I ask again, how do you maintain balance when you have unlimited access to good things?

The answer seems fairly obvious when I put my quandary into words on a screen. Plan it into the day, because it's valuable, but don't spend endless unaccounted for hours doing it, because then the rest of life suffers. It's only valuable in its place. Out of balance, and it becomes a problem, not a blessing.

Like anything good.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How Can We Be So Blind?

Whenever I aim my thinking towards subjects like Christ, or righteousness, or truth, or courage... REALLY stop and dwell on these subjects, and take them as far in my mind as I can reach with the strength of my intellect, I'm confronted with a puzzling question.

Why isn't our culture obsessed with these topics?? In a world when countless hours and money, time, effort, and intelligence are spent making and watching tv shows and movies, hasn't anyone recognized the untapped depth and potential of these timeless subjects? Why waste so much of our short lives' valuable resources focussed on repeating, predictable plotlines that leave us feeling entertained and self-satisfied and convinced that our best form of living is doing what seems best to us in the moment, when there are endless possibilities...soul enlarging, challenging, eternity shaping truths to be thought about and wrestled through and OBSESSED WITH?

What is harder than following Christ? Trying to train our selfish hearts to put others first? Trying to live by doing the right thing in the smallest moments of each day? Moving against the ripping, tearing tidal surge of culture towards what is true and right and pure? What is more unique, compelling, or fascinating than a pure way of living? How have we ever come to equate that with boring?

Why are the mainstream, normal ways of spending time centered on the trivial, silly, banal, wishy-washy? Why do we think that is so interesting?

How can we be so blind? How can our hearts be so warped, our thinking so skewed? Why isn't it normal to battle against the evil in our hearts, to unite as humanity in recognition of our fallen state and urge each other on to know the superior, the staggeringly beautiful, the dazzlingly righteous Creator who calls us to higher things and is willing to let us know Him?

"But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who
push the truth away from themselves. For the truth about God is known to
them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts.
From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and
all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities--his
eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse
whatsoever for not knowing God.

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him
thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was
like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused.
Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools instead. And instead of
worshipping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to
look like mere people, or birds and animals and snakes.

So God let them go ahead and do whatever shameful things their hearts
desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each others'
bodies. Instead of believing what they knew was truth about God, they
deliberately chose to believe lies. So they worshiped the things God
made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever.

Romans 1:18-25

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Green Bean finds a black fold-up mirror in my purse and it's now his cell phone. All his conversations are alike.

"Hello? Oh. Me doing well. And you? Oh, okay. Bye."

I didn't even realize I said, "I'm doing well, and you?" all that often, but apparently I do enough that he's caught on. Another phrase he picked up, presumably from me, is the question, "What's wong?" Only he uses it essentially in any situation whatsoever, as if it meant, "What's up?" It's one of those questions that drives me up the wall, at least when I'm asked it 32 times a day, so I've resorted to answering it with a parry right back to him, "What's wrong with YOU?"

It hasn't deterred him AT ALL from using it. He also says, "Huh?" after almost everything I say, compelling me to repeat myself. I can't seem to break him of that habit, either. He informed my mom a few weeks ago that "Mommy not weally like it when I go like that, 'huh?'" So he knows how I feel about it, but I think as long as it elicits a response from me (and I can't seem to help's automatic to repeat myself when asked, and I can't seem to maintain a conscious effort to NOT respond long enough to make him realize his "Huh?" is inneffective) he'll keep using it. Probably it's a benefit to his linguistic development or something. He gets to hear everything twice and really GET what I'm saying.

Overall, though, I love his developing conversational skills. I love hearing a surprising new phrase, a way of using words he's never mastered before, come out of my three year old's mouth in an unexpected way. It's a random sprinkling of amusement and pleasure in out-of-the-blue moments of my day.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

1,000 Gifts

8. The first warm rays of morning sun fingering their way across the grass toward the soggy tents patiently awaiting good drying weather

9. Conversations with My Hero on the steps under the stars

10. Nearness to my best friend from childhood...that God brought us both back to our starting place to live life and raise our families side by side

11. Green Bean's inherent sense of justice...his calm acceptence of consequences when he knows he has earned it; the hurt in his eyes and outraged cry when he feels he has been wrongly accused

12. Brown paper packages in the mail from beloved grandparents who wrap up their love for our boys in gifts mailed across the distance

13. Hope

14. Organizational systems and tools...plans for the days, goals for the years, wrestling through logistics of how to get from here to there

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Camping at Hermit Island, Maine

What is it about camping that's so fun?

  • breaking free from normal (never mind that everything's ten times harder and dirtier and slower, the refreshment that comes with change is worth it)
  • long walks to the potty, peppered with conversations like, "Me want you carry me" and "We go dirty dirty potty?" and "Where's Aunt 'Ita?" (his great aunt who is a favorite with children because she pays attention to them and lets them help her with things)
  • the ocean in the morning, when the beach is empty and the waves lapping the shore seem almost peaceful
  • campfire bacon, cooked crisp to the almost-burned state
  • campfire fried eggs, that look inedible, but taste pretty great because camping works up such a strong appetite
  • being neighbors to family and friends that you just can't get enough of, and no doors or walls to shut them out
  • the ocean on a hot cold.
  • independence, as two boys play together chasing and being chased by small waves that seem big to them, while we parents (are we really the PARENTS?? Can we be that old already?) stand back and watch, not interfering
  • little boys' cold skin and dripping swim shorts reluctantly held against dry, sun-warmed skin
  • long afternoon naps
  • conversations around the campfire in the dark after the exhausted little ones are asleep
  • the ocean at night, heard more than seen in the blackness, its motion never pausing to sleep
  • rising to the challenge of building a fire, cooking a meal, staying warm, maintaining a cheerful attitude when all is dampened by a morning rain shower, and another, and another, and another.
  • gratefulness mustered that while the sky is gray and damp all day, at least it's not raining
  • the joy of packing all the wet, sandy belongings into the car because it's time to go home, back to the beloved normal, the clean soft carpets and warm dry bed
  • plopping two grimy sandy urchins into a deep hot bath and pulling out soft, sweet smelling sons
  • enjoying the ordinary with fresh eyes, renewed gratefulness for the comforts of home

Incidentally, we found a free tent this weekend. After the rainy morning, we took a walk scouting sites, the nicest ones right on the ocean, and beside a metal garbage barrel someone had left a folded up, discarded tent that looked new. My Mom and I unfolded it to inspect it for damage, while My Hero shrunk in embarrasment that his wife was garbage picking. It looked like a perfectly good family-sized tent, so we dug the poles out of the garbage, refolded the tent, and brought it all back to our site where we assembled it and discovered that we had indeed stumbled upon a new, large, undamaged tent. We think someone may have tried camping for the first time and decided after the rain that camping is not their idea of vacation. Probably the tent isn't terribly waterproof, and we'll have to string a tarp over it to keep out the rain. But every summer My Hero and I discuss buying a tent, and haven't bothered to yet, because my parents have a large tent they always let us borrow. Now we have one of our own! Truly a hightlight of the weekend.

Friday, September 7, 2007

1,000 Gifts

Following in the footsteps of Ann of Holy Experience, I'm beginning a list of a thousand gifts... a thousand things God has given freely to me, not for my birthday, not for Christmas, but just because. Gifts He fills my days with simply because He is good, and He loves me. How can I keep from loving Him back?

1. The gladiolas for sale by the roadside on my way home from the ordeal of grocery shopping

2. The smile and conversation with the white-haired man who sold the flowers

3. The pink blossoms' startling beauty in the middle of our kitchen

4. The honesty of someone deeply admired admitting her humanness and making me realize we have some common ground

5. The beauty and mystery encapsuled in the holy words of our faith, that our faith is not a simple formula, elementary, or easy, that it contains mystery and ideas too great for me to understand

7. Blue eyes, blond curls, soft that melts me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


I'm reading Zig Ziglar's autobiography. Why do exceptional people tend to come out of extraordinarily difficult childhoods? He lost his Dad and his little sister two days apart, when he was five years old. But his mother was such a strong, godly woman. A few things she taught him:

Beauty is as beauty does.

Your children more attention pay
to what you do than what you say.

What you are speaks so loudly that I can't hear what you're saying.

When a task is once begun
you leave it not until it's done.

Be a matter great or small
do it well or not at all.

Tell the truth and tell it ever, costeth what it will;
for he who hides the wrong he did, does the wrong thing still.

A mother can have a profound impact on the character of her children. How's that for stating the obvious? But I'm also struck by how much of a boys' life is outside of his mother's control. Many lessons he learned were learned from circumstances and people outside of the home, often lessons he learned the hard way. He spent the night at a hotel with a friend, and they liked the thick soft towels so much they decided to take them. They wrapped them around their bodies inside their shirts, since they had no luggage to hide them in. When he realized after the fact how much trouble he could've gotten himself into if he'd been caught, he determined to always earn the things he wanted rather than stealing them.

I've started praying that God will take my boys under his wing and teach them wisdom through the circumstances they're in and the people they meet as they grow up. He's always with them, and they're never outside his control.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Lessons Relearned

Wet undies for the second time this morning.

Note to self: When I see him holding himself, take him directly to the potty.

2 minutes after going potty, he's holding himself again.

Maybe I was wrong. He just went.

Wet undies for the third time this morning.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Rising Early

"She rises while it is still dark...her lamp does not go out at night." Proverbs 31

I've sometimes joked that I could much more easily accomplish all that the woman described in Proverbs 31 accomplishes if I had a few servant girls like she does.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:5

Why rise early? For years I've balked at the idea. Never mind that my own mother of seven was always awake, showered, and making breakfast before we woke up; part of the privilege of being a stay at home mom is not having to wake up to an alarm every morning! My older son is an early riser, anyway...I just dragged myself out of bed when he came into my room to get me (if I didn't, he would fuss and whine and cry until I snuggling in bed for an extra half hour for him!) But trying to get things done with two needy boys at my feet is WAY harder than when they're sleeping, so my morning routine of breakfast, then time in scripture (in no way peaceful or uninterupted) then a half hour of excercise ended up taking all morning, and I'd often find myself showering at 11:00 or later. Which brings problems of its own. Like people stopping by during the morning and finding me still in my pajamas, not yet showered.

I made a change a month or two ago to begin getting myself up at 6 AM to work out and shower before 7 AM, when I would start breakfast. My older son usually wakes up shortly after I do, and now he's in the routine of "reading" library books on the couch while I work out and shower. My younger son generally doesn't wake up until 7 AM.

Now, inspired by the success of that change, and by the habits of successful mothers I know, I'm getting up an hour earlier than that to begin my day doing things I value more than physical excercise... learning from and talking with my Maker, planning my day, and then blogging.