Saturday, April 26, 2008

Field Day

So Friday was field day.  Now field day when we were growing up was three-legged races, relays, "Red Rover", and other simple minimal games.  Field day nowadays has gone fancy - complete with blow-ups (otherwise called moonwalks, obstacles course and wind tunnels), chalk and face painting, jazz band from the high school, DJ and dancing, Karate instruction, oh yeah, and soccer, playground time, and other more simple activities.  

I had a good time, though.  I loved seeing my two younger kids interacting with their friends or just playing the games, watching them dance the little dances they had learned, and I enjoyed talking to the teachers and other staff.  It was fun to see the teachers having a good time, too.  

Being with my kids at school means I see a whole 'nother side to them.  I sometimes am in wonder of their adjustment to this world that I am basically not a part of.  They are interacting with kids they only met this year, but acting like they have grown up together. 

My girl's teacher had invited the parents and I am glad she did.  I had a good time and I felt that I was the one who got the education that day.  I learned a little more about the world of my kids.  

#3 is not a problem at school.  I always knew that but she is happy, going with the flow, staying out of the limelight and flying under the radar.  She has friends, but they are not "joined at the hip" like some girls her age.  She is not like at home when every negative thing has the potential to send her into orbit.  She more easily lets things go.  

#4 is finally VERY comfortable, and for him comfort is being a leader, bossing (sometimes), telling others what to do.  He is friends with his previous "archenemy".  He has backed off on the one friend who was his one and only friend exclusive friend in the beginning of the year.  He has branched out and integrated.  He still says he doesn't like school, but I have my doubts that this is really true.  I think he is enjoying it more than he lets on.   I see him having fun.  I think he has experienced some social success and is proud of that.  There have been so many "bumps" along the way for him and the journey is not over, but he is flying more smoothly.  

The school itself is a good place for them, right now.  I feel comfortable with my decision to send them to school.  At times, the "upkeep" (homework, studying, reading logs, etc.) seems more even than doing it all myself, but their experiences are more broad, more balanced with academics and friends.  We were very lonely before school.  We have integrated more into the community where we live, and that has been a good thing.  I know more people and feel more comfortable with living here.  So, this has made the move better, and after almost three years here, I am more at home.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


What I love about my dog:
  • Her sleeping all curled up on the sofa
  • Her sleek red-brown coat, shiny, maybe the perfect hair color (hmmm....there's an idea)
  • Her little gray muzzle, not too old, just seasoned
  • Her waiting for me to settle on the sofa so she can curl up next to me
  • Her way of communicating her needs by her specific barks, vocal whines, and exuberant, bouncy jumps
  • Her running when she hears her leash rattle, my sock drawer close or the sight of me putting on my tennis shoes
  • Her brown, sweet eyes
  • Her "mean" growl and the way she gets very riled up when she is teasing (it looks so real if you don't know different)
  • Her "big dog" attitude
  • Her love of warm grass and loving to roll in it
  • Her submissive, belly showing when she is wanting attention
  • Her obedience in getting in her box when told to
  • Her love of sleeping with the middle children (only)
  • Her companionship
  • Her unconditional love

Sunday, April 20, 2008


  • great preaching
  • beautiful music
  • enjoying God's presence
  • friendly faces
  • dinner out
  • family together
  • cleaning house
  • yard work
  • nap (not often enough)
  • boys on Wii
  • homework hustle
  • time with spouse
  • deep breath
  • quiet walk
  • "date" with only one child
  • reading

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Kids at home...Teens and Tweens

Do you know that my kids are home today, the Wii is on with all three boys watching/playing, Tobymac is playing in the background and the girl is no where to be seen, no doubt reading or listening to a recorded book?!!  

I envisioned that we would be at the zoo today (didn't realize that at least two of my kids no longer like the zoo).  I pictured us picnicking at a park (they aren't interested in leaving the house).  So, here I sit blogging and wondering how to parent these kids I don't know any more. 

 They did a few chores, we got the clothes started, but after that, they desire nothing better than to sit at home doing video games and reading.  I am pretty sure I can make them go, but would that be fun?  I think not!!!  I might get out a little bit by myself and walk at the local botanical gardens.  But, I want to be with them.  I hope we can agree on some kind of outing.  Maybe I can bribe them with getting ice cream (do my kids still like THAT?)......

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Girl

Best described by her brother as being a tiger:  Beautiful but dangerous!!!

Quite true, quite true.....

She is also:
  • Fun and fun-loving
  • selfish but giving when it is her idea (gifts are quite creative)
  • creative sometimes in odd ways (could one day become a "found object" 3D artist)
  • smart but hates academics (BUT loves writing her own cool little stories - just not much for the mechanics of writing and NO punctuation)
  • girly but loves the outdoors (is studying the "Dangerous Boys" book section on how to make arrows and is succeeding quite well at making very sharp sticks - "OUCH!!!!")
  • all about her friends and cousin, but likes being alone too
  • loves anything "hands-on"
  • late reader but LOVES book - Warrior series is her fave
  • messy, scary messy room
  • "fit-thrower" (unfortunately)
  • likes to sleep
  • quite good with younger children (when she wants to be)
  • hates to travel

Monday, April 14, 2008

The time

I think I have finally figured out why the time on my blogs looks like I never sleep.  The clock on my computer is right!!!  However, the blog doesn't know where I am blogging from and so inserts Pacific time into the blog.  So, it looks like I am blogging at very early and it is that time in CA but not here.  Just so you know!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

My brother

My brother:

  • yelling above the crowd in Albanian at our daughters' soccer game (hopefully he wasn't cursing but no one really knows for SURE)
  • using a blade of grass to make a horribly loud sound (the kind that makes you cringe,      hold your ears, and want to punch him)
  • ability to preach a sermon that REALLY holds your interest 
  • intellectual but kid-like
  • fun uncle but weird brother
  • distracted dad but great friend
  • fabulous writer 
  • addicted to fishing (my spouse doesn't think this is so bad)
  • early riser (and pray-er)
  • photography buff (pretty good, too)
  • odd, crazy sense of humor (not all people understand or appreciate)
  • uses sayings and gestures from other cultures so no one knows what he is doing
  • chameleon and impersonator in language and culture (he's not really Cajun or Kosovar)
  • cool but nerdy (OK, maybe not cool)
  • loud
  • pretty much indescribable but this is a start
  • older than me, but significantly younger......

Saturday, April 12, 2008

How my kids have changed

Since they have entered public school in August there have been many changes.  At first, I prayed that it wouldn't change them too much.  Especially #2.  He entered a completely hostile environment when he entered middle school.  I knew he would be teased and I knew he wouldn't be the most popular kid on campus, and the kids around him did not disappoint.  They have teased more often and more meanly than I thought was possible.  My husband assures me over and over that he endured the same stuff, but I am not so sure it was quite this bad.  The kids are so much more sexual in their teasing, so much more deviant.  They go out of their way to find the really gross stuff to tease about.  With that being said, #2 has been stressed.  So, along with the normal hormones that he has surging, he is not always the pleasant, helpful kid I knew 8 months ago.  In fact, at times he is just completely one of those "pain-in-the-butt" teenagers.  He still solicits hugs but won't do that in front of anyone from school.  He still likes to talk to me and his dad, but sometimes that is about things we don't want to hear.  Sometimes I have to brace myself for his conversations about what is going on.  I feel the "mama bear" coming on, wanting to rescue him, save him from these  horrible kids.  I ask him if he wants me to home school him next year but he feels that school is something he needs.  He is challenged there.  He is making good grades and experiencing success in that area.  He is well-liked by the teachers and enjoys pleasing them.  He likes the mental stimulation he receives.  So, I guess we take the good with the bad.  But he is inherently changing.  He is growing up.  It makes me a little sad.  For the other kids, the changes have been more subtle.  

#4 likes to do more things, now.  He is branching out, becoming more confident with his peers.  
#3 is more at home with her friends.  She is sometimes more motivated with her academics although this comes and goes.  Her behavior at school is good and she has learned to get along with those she doesn't like. She is also more anxious about her school.  

#1 is more confident, more self-assured.   With his changes came some independence.  When we go somewhere, he is quick to wander off and look at what he is interested in.  He doesn't as readily stay with the family.  He is still enjoying his elephant obsession, but since he has been in art at school, it has come out in his art.  He is more focused on getting his work done in the afternoon so he can play Wii or do K-Nex or just spend time by himself.  I see him doing things he never did before like noticing cars he likes and talking about stuff more.  He talks to me a lot when it is just him riding in the car in the morning.  He tells me about school, his teachers, his classmates, the things they like.  He tells me that he prays in his room that he will do good in school ("OOF" moments).  He, of course, obsesses about whether he is riding the bus or riding carpool that day, about being on time, about the clocks being set right, about what my schedule for the day is (he reads my calendar).  These things, don't bug me as much because he is not there all day to do this.  

Come to think of it, maybe I have changed as well.  I guess I don't mind the changes so much as long as they don't change their values, belief in God or behavior (too much).  I want them to "own" their faith and this won't happen if it isn't challenged in some ways.  I stress about being able to raise the kind of adults I want to "produce" with them in this environment, but I guess I have always had to leave that in God's hands.  Now is no different.  God made them, loves them more than me, and will be faithful to bring them through no matter how painful the days ahead.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My children

Now that my kids are at school all day, when they get home, I want to snap my fingers and begin enjoying them.  I have missed them, their chatter, their hugs, their activity.  As I have said before, if I am home, the house is too quiet and overly big.  If I am out, I feel alone, weird as if my limbs are not where they should be.  I have been alone before but not so much of it for.....oh, about 17 years.  

I remember when my first went to preschool, I had just had his younger brother.  I took naps with #2 sleeping next to me warm and cozy.  He was right with me almost all day.  When he slept alone (rarely), I was constantly checking on him.  Then I had #3 before Benjamin "came home" for good.  She was very fussy and having #2 also (a great baby, but very "into everything" toddler) made for a busy day.  Those three kept me busy and I remember changing diapers on the three of them until #3 was about 2 1/2.  So they were always with me and I was always busy.  I never lived near family (or not near enough to get babysitting help often) and there wasn't much money for sitters during the day.  The kids, slowly, as they grew up, became my companions.  They were always my life, they grew into this new thing.  I wasn't always nurturing, but I saw them as an extension of myself.  I didn't always do the right thing and was often overwhelmed, but they were my reason to keep going.  

Of course, somewhere in that story, #4 was born (2 1/2 years after #3).  He was the best baby, the most calm, the most fun (not my favorite - just the last one).  We all enjoyed him and he completed our family.  

I guess when I look back on the life I had versus what I have now, I am grateful that I had that kind of time with them.  I am thankful that I was able to give to them in a way that many can't.  I wouldn't take anything for the years we had together.  Now that they aren't with me so much, I miss them.  I took them for granted in a way.  I stressed the small stuff too much.  I worried about every little school thing and didn't just let learning happen like I should have.  I really look back on those early years and wish I had "enjoyed" them more.  I felt at the time, though that it was all about survival.  

Now, when they come home each day.  I am looking forward to it.  I am anxious for them to go outside with me, play ball together, take a walk on the trails that snake through our neighborhood.  But they aren't.  They are ready to chill with a book or video games.  They often have homework (especially the middle school child) and don't have time for me to "enjoy" them.  So, I find myself looking for other ways of enjoying them.  I enjoy their school stories, success, and getting reports or grades.  When the younger two want to do a craft (somewhat rare in these days) I remind myself to drop everything and comply.  Because the oldest and youngest want me to drive them home from school each day, I do it.  And they do talk to me more then than any other time.  When they want to be "visited" each night at bedtime, Kevin and I try to fit it in.  We are a little "scared" into cherishing our time a little bit more because they won't be around forever and they probably won't listen to us even that long (although I am hoping they will, by some miracle of nature, listen at least a little).  My kids, by some weird freak of nature, are not staying little forever.  They are growing up, changing and those diaper days did not last forever.  I still have two that aren't teens yet, but even my days with them are numbered. 

 "God, please help me to remember that and cherish the really great moments as well as some of the more mundane.  And thanks for all those years, though not always fabulous, they were memorable and they were spent with people you wanted in my life.  I know they taught me some things (and I am still learning), I pray that I taught them what you wanted me to teach them."  

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

One moment's peace

The highlight of my day yesterday was kicking back in a rocker on the porch of a "hut" on a very small, country golf course.  The porch overlooked a peaceful, verdant green valley (the driving range) spread out below, and looking across the valley I could see the mild, water-colored mountains on the other side.  Faintly, in between the trees I could see the winding trail and more lush greens.  The only sounds I heard was my own breathing and the faint thump of a golf ball being hit every so often.  The best part is that I am pretty sure no one cared that I had on jeans and was wearing flip-flops!!!!  This was definitely the kind of golf course no one felt uptight about!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Top Ten Things I Dislike About School

10. School smells and school germs
9.  Lots of crowd control (necessary, but still not my favorite thing)
8. Homework
7. Lots of little things that take time away from learning and don't help educate
6. Tasks that leave little room for a child's individuality
5. Kids that cause problems for the teachers and other kids (and their parents who don't care or try to do anything about it at home)
4. That school consumes the majority of the child's day and daylight hours, energy and drive to learn
3. Standardized testing - just too much of it!!!
2. IEP meetings (a big part of my school experience with one LD child and one child with PDD and I really, really dislike them)
1. The whole school experience is not conducive to an exceptional family/home life (basically boils down to not enough time with my kids to do what I feel called to do - share my faith, disciple them, go on outings, read to them, and countless other things)

Top Ten Things I Like About Our School

10. Creative projects done AT school
9. Art class
8. Music class
7. Recess - where kids play outside and get dirty
6. Administrators who smile at the children (and parents)
5. Education that is somewhat tailored to each child and their needs
4. Staff who are there to help, not to simply enforce rules
3. Teachers who see parents as a vital member of the education team ( for me - someone to share that responsibility with)
2.Teachers who are creative, skilled, and wise
1. Educators who are kind and loving

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My girls

When I think about my purpose in life, the main things I think of are my family - teaching them about God, life, and loving others, and my church - teaching young girls about (again) God, life, and loving others.  Along those lines, I teach a class on Sunday night which is like a discipleship class for 3rd -5th grade girls. These girls learn God's word, His truth and how to apply it to life.  They also do lots of hands-on stuff which I often see as the bait to get them to want to come.  They love the hands-on stuff.  They live for crafts, art, music, and games.  They like to dance, sing and create.  But really this is more than the bait.  It is teaching them about life too.  While they are making things, they are learning self-esteem.  When they are dancing, they are learning to have fun and enjoy life.  As they sing, they are worshipping God in a pure and sweet way.  And, they talk to me.  They tell me about what they are concerned about.  They talk about their families.  They share what God is doing in their schools.  Because I listen, I earn the right to teach.  I get them to listen because I am listening to them.  They are very sweet and I am blessed to have them in my life.  Yes, it takes time to prepare, but it is worth it.  The time is well spent.  

This Friday night, I had a sleepover for "my girls".  I had a schedule and we stuck to it, but we had fun.  We danced, we ate, we watched a movie, we learned about Queen Esther, and when the night was done, we read a little story by Max Lucado and I turned out the lights.  As I lay there in the dark, I asked them who wanted to pray.  All of them volunteered, so we each took a turn.  Their prayers were very sweet and then I, with tears in my eyes, prayed for them.  I prayed that one day, I might see them living for God, working in church, and know that I had a small part in their lives.  I do pray for that.  I know that God desires their lives for His glory.  And I thank Him that I can give to them.

Friday, April 4, 2008


There is this thing that my friends in our church youth group would say.  Generally, it meant "That is too sweet for words" or "I am with you on that so totally I can't put it into words".  It is something we said when we made a connection with each other.  We would touch fingertips and say "OOF".  I was just remembering this little saying and how it says what you want to when you can't put it into words.  Anyway, in my life, I am constantly looking for "OOF" moments with my children, my spouse and my friends.  I also feel that God gives me "OOF" moments quite often.  Today, my friend M. who is a very busy doctor and mommy to four beautiful, but active children called me out of the blue.  My biggest complaint about our relationship is that she has no time for her friends (namely me).  So, she had a couple of hours and not a lot to do other than drive back to work early, so she called me to see if I could get together with her.  I was ecstatic!!  So on the way to meet her, I was thinking, "Thanks, God, for another lagniappe!!"  I wasn't expecting it, and we haven't been together a lot lately. We could have talked for hours, but we made good use of the time we did have.  She is very special and getting to visit with her today was an "OOF" for me.  She wrote me an e-mail and said that I am like a sister to her.  I don't know how to describe how that makes me feel except "OOF"!!!!!  

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cows at school

So here I am in an "all too quiet", too-big house, with a few minutes to stop before I start my part of the day.  My last child is dropped off at school, everyone delivered or bussed where they belong.  Nowadays, my life is no longer about them,  (except 3:00 pm to about 8:00 am), my life (during the day, at least) is about what I want to fill it with.  It is about prayer group, lunches with friends, getting my toenails done, having my eyebrows waxed, doing precious little laundry (just enough to keep going), NOT cleaning my house, Weight Watchers meetings, volunteering at a church ESL program, scrap-booking, and most of all, thinking about - you guessed it - MY KIDS!!!  I have this compulsive thought running through my head all the time..."What are they doing?" " Are they ok?"  (Even when I know they are.)  I hate to say it, but a lot of the stuff I am doing is to keep me busy and not thinking about them.  For 11 years, they were my life.  So much so, that I had very little time for haircuts, toenails, and friends.  But now I have time for me and I am afraid I am just not enjoying it like I should be.  

I do try to enjoy their new lives.  I enjoy that although my middle school child is not the top of the food chain socially, he is doing well in his academics.  I enjoy that although my 5th grader is struggling in some academic areas, she is enjoying her friends.  I enjoy that my child with PDD is making strides and finding a niche in others' lives outside of his family.  I enjoy that my youngest is finally in his groove (at least mostly).  I enjoy the good reports I hear from the teachers.  I try not to stress about the bad ones.  I am still very involved in their lives, thank God.  They still share with me their fears and hopes and struggles.  They still talk to me and when they talk, I am listening very hard for all the details.  

As far as enjoying my new life, my goal is to start some new projects.  I hope to scrapbook more, do some yard projects that are long overdue, and work some on decorating my house.  These are things I couldn't pursue before.  And, they will benefit my family too.  

Ok, so you are probably wondering about the title.  This is very random, but driving my oldest to school today, there were cows, right next to the school.  They were four young cows quietly grazing on the side of the road that the carpool parents and buses take into the school parking lot.  Bizarre!!  But fun, too.  I wanted to go back and take pictures.  For some reason, I like cows.  They seems sweet, docile and mild.  I am sure I would NOT like them up close, but in my car and them on the side of the road by the school, they added a little to my day.  They gave me a little lagniappe!!!  Thank you, God for the cows.....