Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday's a good day for pictures

Swim lessons are going on but did I get any good pics of the actual kids taking the lessons? I did not. However, I thought Canaan was so cute being totally determined to get a tiny leaf out of the baby pool.

Yesterday Malachi left for camp. I was really looking forward to a quieter week, if I'm being honest, but instead it feels TOO quiet - downright lonely. And Graham, when his routine is off, is a bear. It hasn't been pretty.

But look! At Caris' earrings and missing front tooth! Now that's pretty! I took this in our dentist's office while waiting for the boys to have their checkups at the dentist. No cavities - yay boys!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday's Random Thoughts

Yesterday Caris told me about a nightmare she had. She dreamed that there was a fire in our house, and everyone else had gotten out but she was the only one stuck inside the house with no way out. It made me sad that her little mind is complex enough already to have had such a complicated and frightening dream. I prayed about it and filled her mind with beautiful things last night, and afterward she said, "I know what Satan is trying to do to me. He's trying to make me love him instead of Jesus." I said, "Oh honey, he knows you are God's girl and that you'll never love him, so he's working on making you scared instead." I have battled fear all my life and I really do not want that for my girl! On a practical note, we do not have a single smoke alarm in our home (I know, I know.) so today we went to Target and got a 2-pack. I'll need to get another 2-pack but at least for now the kids' rooms will each have one.

I read a blog today that said that a good amount of laundry is one load per family member per week. Six loads a week for my family? I do more like 20-30! DANG! I am working on some ways I can reduce my laundry:
~not even try to change the fact that Alif wears multiple layers of clothes at one time
~make sure the kids actually put away their clean laundry so it doesn't get mixed up with the dirty laundry all over their bedroom floors
~teach kids to put dirty clothes into hampers
~teach self to do the same
~train kids to hang their towels and use the same one for a week like Alif & I do
~pray that bedwetting will stop. soon.

Swim lessons started this week and went exceedingly well. Except that the pool pump broke on Wednesday and lessons were canceled for Thursday and Friday. Bummer! We were all so disappointed! I'm going to see if there's a way we can afford to do one more session this summer.

I must get Alif's contractor's license application mailed this week. We are stalled trying to think of a business name. My current fave is Aleph Construction. Aleph is the first letter of the greek alphabet and is where my in-laws came up with Alif. But it's more pronounceable and interesting and non-casual for a business name, I think. What do YOU think? Any ideas? He does any and all kinds of home repairs and improvements but especially loves doing remodels. Hmm.

It's not very green of me, but my bathrooms are ever so much cleaner since I caved and bought the disposable bathroom wipes. In literally 1-2 minutes I can give the counter, sink and toilet a quick wipe-down and they sparkle and are disinfected. So long green, clean is in for me!

Garden news: tomatoes are doing well with probably about 20 on the plant and 3 red so far (yum!). Grape tomatoes, planted about 2 weeks ago, are springing forth with green glee. Peas sprouted from the compost pile! Peas! And LAST year's jalapeno plant has 2 plump jalapenos on there, and last year's bell pepper plant is growing one good-lookin' pepper. Love my garden! Love it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Fun

Dad had us all over for a Father's Day bbq yesterday. It was my family and Megan's family. The kids played, argued, swam, ate and had a ball. Canaan had to swim in jean shorts because he pooped his swim trunks on the way over. He didn't seem to mind but it sure seemed uncomfortable to me.
It kind of stresses me out how casual he is around the pool, but at least he doesn't just fling himself in this year like he did last year. Whew!
It's one of my Life Joys to see my and Megan's little boys playing together. Oh MAN are they cute.

And little miss Kate - oh, she's gorgeous!
Dad bought this crazy big toy and it was sure a hit! I couldn't believe the little ones weren't afraid on it!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

So Thankful

Canaan joined Alif & I in bed at some point last night. I think it was early morning. He nursed and when I turned over to go back to sleep, he scooted over and fell asleep with his feet against my side and his head cuddled on Alif's chest. What a sweet start to Father's Day!

As the day got going and we were rushing around to get ready for church, I would see one of my kids and say to myself, "Thank you (Alif) for giving me Caris." "Thank you for giving me Graham." And so on. Could there be any gift better than children? They're my most precious earthly treasure, and I know they're Alif's, too. We share a passion for our kids that couldn't possibly be matched by anything else.

And my own Dad - how lucky I am to be his daughter. He raised me to know the Lord. He wrestled with me and made me watch as he fixed the cars. He taught me how to pull weeds, how to laugh at myself, how to treat others. His sparkling personality filled me with awe then much as it does now. Watching him love my kids is even sweeter than being the adult recipiet of his love.

But most of all, today I am thankful for my Father. My Heavenly Father. Because no matter what happens, he is the same. He never changes, never gives up, never stops loving me, never stops giving me grace. He loves me beyond reason and seeks to make me something more.

I love you Alif! I love you Dad! I love you Father!

Friday, June 12, 2009


I almost laugh at myself when I look at the picture above. You know why? Because I thought it looked sort of nice! I planted the snapdragons and alyssum such a long time ago and felt pleased as punch when these annuals just kept on truckin' through winter. Sometimes the alyssum plant themselves in the most delightful places - in between the bricks, in other flower beds - oh, they're so sweet! So yeah, some of the under parts looked kind of brown and ugly, and there were some ugly, dead leaves in between the flowers, and the snapdragons had certainly seen better days, but still - flowers! How bad can flowers be?

Well, yesterday I was in a foul mood and thought a trip to the home center was in order. We needed new plants, I'd decided. We picked some and that very evening, Caris and I set to work on our little beds. We yanked those snapdragons and alyssum and every other mysterious thing growing in there. I went around the corner to deposit all the yuck into our green waste, and when i came back Caris had done the most amazing thing! She had cleared the first bed of all the debris and in its place was rich, dark brown soil. Gorgeous! There is nothing like a clean slate!

We dug and pulled roots and threw snails and pinched earwigs and sweated and pulled plants from their pots and look what happened!
Just like that, we have a whole new look! Why didn't we do this before? The flower beds look loved and tended and are such a more inviting walk up to our front door than the worn-out flowers of yesterday.

It wasn't until I saw these pictures on my computer that the Lord whispered something deeper than flowers to me.

A few days ago, you may have been unfortunate enough to read a mama-bear-gone-wild moment on my blog. I broke my "never post anything negative about people you know" rule and flamed someone in our life. Someone who is actually very special to us as a family.

It didn't look ugly to me. It looked real and true, and I felt it deeply. But looking back, it was uglier than ugly. It was full of thorns and absolutely no grace whatsoever. I furthered the damage in e-mail, again thinking that my words maybe weren't pleasant to hear but that they were justified.

It wasn't more than an hour until the Lord used two of my friends to steer me back to reality. At first I fought their wisdom. But then, like water seeping down into my new flowers, the truth started to sink in. I had no right to spout off like I did. A person made a mistake, and I hadn't even given him time to correct it. I spend a pretty good portion of my days teaching my children Biblical conflict resolution, and boy did I blow it when conflict blew MY way!

I sent an apology, and I hope my friends will forgive me, but I have been in serious inner turmoil for two full days. When we sin, there are consequences, and mine is knowing that I hurt people I care about. When I woke up this morning I reached for my Bible and searched for "shame". God led me to words that I desperately needed in Psalm 34. Here are snippets.

1 I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.

2 My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

3 Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.

5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.

6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,

13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.

14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

Just like my flower bed do-overs, I see now that I can have an attitudinal do-over too, in a way. I can return my thoughts to the Lord and his faithfulness, and from my heart of love for the Father may there be an overflow to those around me. I hope my "after" shot is half as pretty as my flowers are!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

We are One

Caris and I have been talking about getting her ears pierced. She's asked the same questions over and over: how much will it hurt? Will it be this fast? (clink! clink!) Will they bleed? I answered her honestly and waited for her to decide she was ready.

Daddy discouraged the whole thing. He's sort of against anything that alters the body. Piercings? Disgusting. Tattoos? Disgusting. Just leave it be, he figures. He told my boys today that if they ever get tattoos he'll spank them, no matter how old. Ha!

We went to the mall a couple days ago and since we were there, I asked if she would like to get her ears pierced. I'd always planned on having a real piercer do them - meaning, a body piercer who knows what they're doing and uses a needle instead of a gun. Then I realized that would mean taking her into a body piercing/tattoo shop, and suddenly that did not seem at all the kind of place I would take my precious little daughter. So the mall it is. Anyway, she said no.

Today I needed to go back to the mall to exchange her swimsuit, and she said she'd like to go with me and get her ears pierced. We talked and talked and talked some more until I was sure she really wanted to. I told Daddy I would only do it if it weren't busy at all and I felt comfortable with the person. His lips looked tight and straight.

We got there and it was empty. No one at all except the girl who was working, and I liked her immediately. I told her Caris would like to get her ears pierced, and she showed us to a tower of earrings used for piercing. We spun them around and around and Caris settled on a pair of tiny gold crosses. They were given the thumbs down by the piercer, who correctly guessed that Caris has sensitive skin. No steel for this little lady, only gold. Caris then decided that tiny silvery gold balls were the ticket. She asked, "Do I have to get earrings?" And even though I wanted to say, "No, of course not!" I said, "yes, you do." Because I knew that her desire for earrings outweighed her temporary nervousness.

She sat in a small black chair and the piercer was so perfect, showing Caris on her hand how the alcohol swab would feel, then the pen to mark the spot. Then it was time. She clicked the first earring in, and of course Caris flinched. Tears came to her eyes - such a slight mist I might not have even noticed, except that I'm her mother. And mothers see these things in their daughters. The piercer showed Caris her beautiful new earring and then quickly completed the set.

There is something about a shared experience with a daughter. My own day of piercing came flooding back. I remember how nervous I was, how proud and grown-up I felt when they were in. How ridiculously scared I was to have them turned the first time. And now here I am, the mother of a 6-year-old girl, old enough to decide that she would like to endure the pain of piercing so that she can wear earrings. It's surreal.

I was so proud of her! I said, "give me five, baby!"and the piercer said, "give me five too! You did so good!" She gave Caris suckers - one for herself and one for each brother. Graham was with us and the two other boys were at home. Graham looked at her wistfully and said, "Now you look like all the other girls."

I realize this post is completely stupid without pictures, but I can't find the memory card for my camera. I'll post pics ASAP. Just take it from me, she looks adorable and so, so happy!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Strange reaction

Mom & Megan on our trip to the coast last September

I bugged my Mom over and over about getting BRCA testing. This is a test that would show whether she was a carrier of a genetic defect that makes one susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer. She wasn't resistant to having the testing, it's just that she has continual, ongoing medical appointments and procedures and the BRCA testing kept getting lost in the shuffle.

We talked about it quite a bit, usually with the assumption that the testing would come back positive and what that would mean for Megan and I. Obviously we would then be tested as well, and if our tests came back positive, it would mean action. We could choose to be closely monitored for breast cancer. We might choose to have prophylactic mastectomies. Surely we'd have hysterectomies, since ovarian cancer is sneaky and appears often at a young age. I told my Mom I would probably wean Canaan, get pregnant, have one more baby and out would come my womb.

Well, Mom finally had the test done. It's just a blood test, but it has to be sent to the one lab in the US that does the test itself. The lab called and told her that her portion of the test would cost $1,300. She readily agreed - a testament to the love she has for my sister and I. A $1,300 test and she didn't even blink.

Megan & me

Yesterday Mom called on my cell phone while I was on a mad dash to Wal-Mart on an unsuccessful mission to buy black baseball pants for Malachi. She wanted to let me know that the test results were in, and they were negative. She said J (our beloved assistant at the cancer center - oh, she's really more of a family friend than a medical assistant) just had to let her know, and that this is such good news for us girls, and that Dr. M, my Mom's oncologist, said, "Woo hoo hoo HOOOO!!" when he saw the results.

Wouldn't you think I'd have the same reaction? I would - but I didn't. I told my Mom I was happy about the results and that maybe it would take some time to absorb, and that at the very moment Graham's vocal ticcing was more than I could bear - and all of this was true.

After Wal-Mart we hit Big 5, called Target, and ultimately ended up driving across town to get the pants. By this time it was around 5:30 and Malachi had been expected on the field for warm-up at 5:00 for his 6:00 game. 5:00 traffic wasn't helping matters.

As we headed across town, I was just kind of vaguely thinking about the testing, the results, Dr. M and J's reactions - and before I knew it, my eyes had misted over. Then tears were streaming down. What was this? I was crying and didn't even know why. Then it hit me. In a weird way, a positive BRCA test for my Mom would have been some kind of a reason for everything she has been through. A positive test for my sister and I would have formed a solidarity about the whole stupid thing.


But instead, it's just random, and it's just my Mom. Alone. Yes, we love her and support her and go to all of these myriad appointments and procedures with her, but the battle is hers and hers alone.

I'm not sure how to process this news that is unequivocally good. I am glad my sister and I won't have to wear these results around our necks, always wondering when it might strike. But we still have to figure out how then DO we proceed medically - how much monitoring IS appropriate. I am glad that I don't feel compelled to rush out and have a hysterectomy when my husband and I long for more children.

Most of all, with the heart of a mother beating within me and the understanding that brings, I am glad my Mom doesn't have to live the rest of her life wishing she hadn't passed on such a volatile gene. I watch Graham tic and hate that I gave him that. It's ridiculous to feel that way - no one has perfect genes - but I know my Mom and the love she has for us and I know she'd feel just the same.

So I will ask the Lord for clarity today and in the good news I will rejoice.