Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wax on, Wax off!

In 1984 a movie came out called "The Karate Kid!" It was a great movie about an underdog kid who is bullied and learns Karate from a master teacher and goes on to whuup the kids who were whuuping on him. One of the more interesting parts of the movie, however, is the training Daniel went through. When he agreed to be trained by Mr. Miyagi, he discovered the training was to be very unconventional. Instead of a do-jo, the training took place on Mr. Miyagi's property, and it began one day with Daniel's task to wash and wax miles and miles of old cars. And there was a very specific way the job had to be done. At first Daniel rebels, but then submits his heart and obeys, even though he can't figure out what waxing cars has to do with Karate. Same thing for painting miles and miles of fencing. Finally, Mr. Miyagi shows Daniel what all this work was meant to accomplish in his life, and this so-called meaningless activity was really training, both the heart and the body. In the end, Daniel beats the bullies, giving us the most imitated pose and kick of any movie that came out of the 80's.

So, what does this have to do with me? Well, a week ago I got a phone call from my sister-in-law. She knew of a woman who was having a baby and wanted to give it up for adoption. The baby was being born, as we were speaking, so I said, of course we were interested and made phone calls and got information to give to this woman. She was interested in pursuing this with us, so she called the agency and got the ball rolling. Of course, Hubby and I were ecstatic, but in shock. We wanted to adopt again, but this was not in our line of thinking. We'd adopted all our children from the fost-adopt program and were planning on adopting this way again. But, we figured, if this was what God had planned for us, we would follow His leading. We were cautiously optimistic through the phone calls from the agency. They talked with this woman, she was planning on going through with it, everything was going well. I got out Missie Lou's old clothes from the attic that we were saving for Baby Sister and washed them. I washed crib sheets and burp rags and tried not to think about why I was doing all this. We knew these things could and often do fall apart, so we were guarding our hearts. We had an appointment to meet with this woman on Tuesday morning and she was willing that we take the baby home that day. So, we got through the weekend, trying not to think about it, but still.... we were. Monday, we hadn't heard anything, and figured that "no news is good news!", so I went to Target and got some diapers and formula and a few other things, but I deliberately taped the receipt to the package of diapers to remind myself that they may need to be returned. Tuesday morning dawned a beautiful day. I spent time in prayer and Bible study, as usual, but I prayed especially for the birthmom that she would have peace. I got the kids ready, took them to my parents and then went to pick up Hubby from work. My cell phone wasn't working, since I always forget to charge the batteries, but I figured it didn't matter. We got to the agency at the appointed time, but birthmom wasn't there and a very teary-eyed social worker informed us that the night before the birthmom went to the foster-family's house, picked up the baby and took it home. We were stunned, but not surprised. The social worker was very kind, and I'm sure she has had to give that kind of news many times before. So, we chatted a few minutes and then Hubby and I went on our way. We prayed in the car and then I took him back to work and picked up the kids.

I don't blame the birthmom. I've never given birth before, but I'm sure those "mothering" instincts are strong. God gave them to women to prevent us from just tossing our offspring in a ditch after birth. I'm just concerned because in her rational moments, before she had the baby birthmom had some really strong and valid reasons for giving the baby up for adoption and I understand she was very determined to do so. As far as I know, her circumstances and ability to care for this child haven't changed, so I pray that she will be able to provide a good home for this child as well as her other children.

We are sad and disappointed, but since we have only been on this roller coaster for a week, it isn't as bad as it could have been. We could have gone through years and years of infertility treatments, finally decided to adopt, waited and waited and waited to be chosen by a birthmom, seen her through the last trimester of her pregnancy and then be told she changed her mind. We could have taken custody of the baby, had her for a week and then the birthmom could have changed her mind. God protected us from so many things. So, we are sad, but we'll get over it. We are still working with the agency we signed up with when we decided to adopt Baby Sister, so we're just waiting for her to come home.

So, what does this have to do with the Karate Kid? I was thinking about this as I drove home yesterday. Daniel, in the movie, had no idea why he was doing what he was doing. He thought it was pointless, meaningless and that Mr. Miyagi was just being mean to him. But all along, Mr. Miyagi was training him, working him toward a submissive heart and perfecting the skills Daniel would need to be the best. I could look at this experience we've had as meaningless and pointless; a stupid detour in pain and disappointment. But, I don't believe God does that to us. I believe that everything has a purpose. He says that in His word, and even if we have no idea what is going on, all the experiences we have are designed to make us stronger, better and more submissive and obedient to our Master, so we can be "the best" at what He calls us to do. I know that is what He is doing in our lives and so, as we get over this and move on and continue waiting for our little girl, I can trust that this experience wasn't meaningless, even though right now I have no idea why it happened.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kids bring out the worst in me!

I would love to be a perfect mom. I idolize June Cleaver. She's good looking, she wears heels and pearls every day. Her kids respect her. I never saw her yell at Wally or the Beav! And Carol Brady - she was awesome. She had six kids and she was always pretty calm and under control. Of course, she had Alice around to help out around the house, but Carol was another great mom! And then there's me. I shouted at Bubba today pretty good. And I am not proud of it. He can be the most aggrevating kid - quick to make excuses and pass the blame on to someone else. I know an apology is in order, and he will get one. I must say, that I'm getting pretty good at admitting my mistakes as a mom and apologizing to my kids when necessary. But, it sure makes me feel lousy when my ugly, impatient, not-so-understanding side comes out. Although I'm sure June and Carol both had their days, too. Just not when they were on tv.

You know that extra $40 I mentioned?

I know what I'm going to do with it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I need a narrator!

I was talking to a friend of mine today about kids. Her three youngest are about my kids' ages, so we generally have quite a bit to talk about. Today our big thing was - the questions. Why is this, Mommy? Why is that? Who is that? Why are they doing that? Why are you doing that? And on and on and on. And then, one of the things I find to be the hardest to be patient about is my children's insistance that I keep up a running commentary about everything I am doing throughout my day. What are you doing, Mommy? What are you looking for? Who called? What are you doing now? Why are you doing that? So, we decided that the best answer to that problem would be to have a personal narrator. You know, how on some of those reality shows there's a narrator who explains everything that is going for the sake of the audience. That would be so helpful. Then I wouldn't have to stop what I'm doing and explain it all. I don't do it all the time, but it is an interruption and then I usually lose my train of thought and forget what I'm doing and go on to doing something else, which I then have to explain. The narrator would explain it all for me, field questions and repeat things as necessary. Yes, I definitely need a narrator.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bye-bye diapers!

I can officially say that Missie Lou is potty trained. I think we probably started the whole thing when she turned two, believing, as many had told us that girls were easier to potty train than boys were. Well, the boys weren't too much trouble, so this one should be a snap. Not so much. She just down-right refused. So, what was I going to do? You can't sit a kid on the potty and expect them to pee while they're throwing a tantrum. So, on the year went. I made some attempts, but was rebuffed, and the child turned three last month still in diapers. I was starting to get discouraged.

Well about 3 weeks ago, maybe 4, I was sitting at the computer with Missie Lou in my lap. She decided to get up and as soon as she left I saw that my lap was completely soaked. I was not a happy mommy. I made her go change and I changed. Then, that same evening, after dinner, she soaked through her pull-up again. I decided that was enough. So, the next day I told her she couldn't wear anything from the waist down. She didn't like that all that much, so we compromised and I let her wear underwear. From then on it clicked with her and there were a few accidents, but by and large she has progressed very nicely. Yesterday we went to the zoo and she wore underwear and did very well. She wore underwear to church today, and we had a bbq at our friends' house and she was dry the whole time. I just can't believe it. But, the real question is.... what am I going to do with that extra $40 a month I was spending on diapers and wipes? Hmmm.....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A controlled burn...

You know, when the forest gets too crowded and cluttered, the forest rangers set little fires to get rid of all the debris. They're called a "controlled burn". I wonder if that would work in my house.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Breakfast Creativity

I've never been a huge breakfast eater, but my boys are, so every once in a while I try to break out of the old cold cereal and banana mold and do something a little fun. The other day, I have no idea what came over me, but I was inspired to make cinnamon toast and then, instead of just giving them a half a banana to eat, I made a face with raisens and banana rounds. They turned out cute, and even Missie Lou, who is not a breakfast eater, loved them! Another thing I like to make every once in a while is baked oatmeal. The kids really love it, and even though it has a little more sugar than I'd like, it still is relatively healthy. Here's the recipe:

1 Cup oil (I usually use 1/2 cup apple sauce and 1/2 cup oil)
3/4 - 1 cup sugar (can substitute Splenda)
4 eggs
6 cups rolled oats
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 - 1 cup raisens

Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. I sprinkle a little brown sugar on top. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned. You can eat it with milk, though the kids just eat it like cake, plain. I always make it the night before and bake it in the morning. It keeps well in the fridge and you can eat it for breakfast the rest of the week. Sometimes I make it the really healthy way - substitute all the oil for applesauce, use Splenda not sugar, use egg whites not whole eggs. It does reduce the calories, but it's not quite as tasty as the full fat, full sugar way.
Baked oatmeal is a great breakfast treat and it doesn't take much to put it together the night before. The kids love it and I don't feel bad about serving it to them. So, while most days we have cold cereal and bananas, we do have little fun at breakfast every once in a while.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Going to bed early isn't a bad thing!

It's Easter Sunday evening. We've had a busy day. We had an wonderful church service this morning. We decorated the cross with fresh spring flowers and it was just gorgeous. We have some irises blooming, and a few roses - Mr. Lincoln rarely disappoints. The handbell choir played and our pastor had another one of his excellent sermons. Today he spoke on the Resurrection, of course, but he always has something a little new to think about, even with passages we've heard many times before.

After church we drove to Fresno to Hubby's oldest brother's house for lunch. It was a great time. It was a beautiful day and I ate way too much. Too much candy, for sure. But, the kids played and played. They hunted Easter eggs and played in the hot tub and they ate too much candy, too. And, by the time we got home they were exhausted and they were acting like exhausted young children who have had too much candy. So, even though it is just 7:30pm, they are all in bed. And that's not a bad thing.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Motherhood: The Funny, the Frivolous, the Fundamentals

I had a lot of unrelated things running around in my mind this weekend, so I decided to combine them all in one post with a really dumb title, but I was trying to be alliterative, so don't judge me.

The Funny....
I went to a baby shower on Saturday and that evening, while I was reading to Missy Lou at bedtime Duh-duh comes in and says, "How was the baby shower?" "Fine". "Was the baby there?" "No, he hadn't been born yet." "What do you mean?" "He was still in his mommy's tummy!" (OK, drumroll, please....) "How does he get out?" Now, I'm not defending my answer. No, it wasn't the best, but dad-gum-it, it was on the spot, I was reading to Missy Lou, and Duh-duh is 5 years old, so I said, "He comes out of the Mommy's bottom." Well, that satisfied Duh-duh and then Hubby comes in a bit later cracking up. "What did you tell Duh-duh?" I repeated the conversation and Hubby's like, "Why did you tell him that? You know what he's going to think!" "Yeah, but what should I have said? Given him a huge lesson on female anatomy right then and there?" I know, I know. Now Duh-duh will think that Mommy's poop their babies out until he's about 10 and we really tell him about the facts of life. But... I didn't know what to say! Plus, in my defense, I have referred to the whole "nether region area" as the bottom, so it's not that horrible of an answer. Of course, Hubby teased me about it all weekend.

The Frivolous...
I know this isn't a big deal, but it's something I've kind of struggled with as a mom, and that's The Tooth Fairy. Bubba lost another tooth this weekend (it was loose and Missy Lou accidentally knocked it out. Now Bubba is missing 3 teeth in the front) and so we did the Tooth Fairy thing again. Hubby doesn't really like it, but he doesn't protest too much. The thing is, I hate lying to my kids, and telling them there's a Tooth Fairy is kind of, well, it's lying. In a black and white sense, it's lying. But, I also don't want to deprive my children of that childhood magic and lore and all that fun stuff that comes with being a kid. My parents told me there was a Tooth Fairy and I believed it until I was old enough, but then... I realized it was just fun and never considered that my parents had "lied to me" and then questioned everything else they ever told me. But, somehow, I just feel kind of weird doing the whole Tooth Fairy thing.

The Fundamentals...
I have really been struggling lately with one of the kids. Out of the three children he is the most self-centered. His philosophy is, "If I want it, I should have it. If I want to do it, I will do it." He is disobedient, he steals, he is completely inconsiderate of other's feelings, he never asks, he demands. I know this sounds harsh, and I love my son with all my heart and he does have many other redeeming qualities, but he has some serious character issues and I've really been worried about them. I've been stressing about them. I've been stressing about my reaction to them now, and how it will affect my relationship with him later.

Finally, I have come to several conclusions. The first is about myself. I figured out that I take what he does personally, and react as such. I also try to control his behavior and make him be obedient or considerate, or whatever. I have decided that that, as much as anything will be detrimental to my relationship with my son as much as anything he can do. So, I need to stop that.

The other conclusion I have come to is about him. He is his own person and he makes his own choices. Hubby and I will do our best to fulfill our responsibility as godly parents. We will feed and clothe him. We will love him and nurture him. We will teach him to love God, take him to church, train him at home in morals and godliness and pray for him daily. We will try to be the best role models we can be for him and provide for him a loving and stable family. But, we cannot cause that change that needs to happen in the heart. Only God can. And that's what's been so frustrating for me. So, I have really been praying about this and realize that I need to do what I can and turn the rest over to God. I know that the Word of God is powerful and will continue to read to him (and the other kids) from the Bible and nurture them spiritually, but I need to let go of my need to control and trust God with him.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Girls Night Out!

Friday night I had a great night out with my little girl. You see, Hubby and I lead the jr. high group at church, and one of our girls was in her school's production of "Pirates of Penzance". So, of course we had to see her. But, there was a little problem. The play started at 7:00pm and our boys had swimming lessons until 6:30. So, we had to divide and conquer. Hubby stayed with the boys at swimming lessons and I went to the play with Missy Lou. I was a little hesitant, she's only three years old afterall, but I figured if worse came to worse, I could leave early. We had a great time. She sat on my lap enthralled by the play. We did sit fairly close to the front and I think that because the actors were kids, she was very interested. When intermission came she wanted to know where the pirates went, and then after it was over she kept saying on the way to the car, "I want to go again, Mommy! I want to go again!"

I just had such a good time with her. I love hanging with my boys, but they are wild and full of energy and exhaust me. I rarely get to do anything with just my daughter and when I do it is such a treat. She is such good company.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

One too many teeth

A couple of years ago Bubba was running on our tile kitchen floor and tripped and fell. Right on his mouth. He chipped his front tooth and it looked horrible, so of course we went to the dentist right away and they took x-rays. Turns out he'd barely chipped it, but it looked worse because he'd actually shoved the tooth up into his mouth. Over the course of about a month we had several visits to the pediatric dentist who kept an eye on it and it ended up fine. But, as a result of the x-rays, we found out that he had an extra tooth. They call it a supernumery (sp?) tooth. It was right up between his front two teeth. Last year his top left tooth came out because this extra tooth pushed it out, and it came down in its place. It was an odd looking tooth, being arrow-shaped, more like an incisor than one of the front ones. So, he kept that one for a while until his regular dentist appointment this month and the x-rays showed the appropriate tooth was getting ready to descend, so the supernumery one had to come out.

And that's what we did yesterday. He was a real trooper. They gave him some nitrous oxide to relax him and then yanked that sucker right out. I didn't watch. That kind of stuff always makes me squeamish. I looked out the window at the koi pond instead. I also had them take out the little baby tooth on the bottom that was just barely hanging on by a thread. Bubba refused to pull it out, and wouldn't let us do it. So, the dentist just put a little deadening stuff on a q-tip and took that one out, too. Now he has a huge gap in his mouth, but he doesn't seem to mind. The tooth fairy came and gave him a couple of quarters, which I think he already lost, even though I told him to put them in his bank right away. Oh well. He really looks like an almost 6-year old now!