Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Little Confession

I read alot.  I am not picky, books, magazines, pamphlets, the back of cereal boxes ... I love the written word.  I don't limit myself to printed media only, either.  In fact, reading blogs is one of my favorite things to do.  I have several that I try to read daily.  They are written by women who, like me, write about their faith, family and lives.  These ladies put their daily ups and downs into words with a flair that has garnered them a large number of loyal readers who regularly comment on their blogs, myself included.

I have a little confession to make.  At risk of sounding like a baby ... I had begun to wonder why  they get all the glory and I am lucky if I have even one or two regular readers.  What do they have that I don't?  Why can't I open up my blog and see several comments waiting for me?   Why can't people tell me I had put into words just what they had been thinking?  Why can't I get me some of that bloggy-love?  How come they get it and not me???  

Yeah,  you could say I was a teensy weensy bit jealous.  Pretty sad, eh?  I know I needed to put on my big girl pants and just get over it, but it was hard not to be a little envious.  Thank goodness, God is bigger than my petty jealousy.  He saw where I was headed and put these words from Galatians on my heart.

  Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
Galatians 6:5
The Message

Is that spot on to what I was feeling or what?  (He never ceases to amaze me how He does that!)  I am not an published author or a prolific artist  like some of the bloggers whose work I read.  I am a stay at home mom from the Midwest whose circle of influence is quite frankly not all that big.   While it's true I may not possess the power to impress the world, God has blessed me with the opportunity to share my stories here on this little ol' blog.   Maybe what I have to say will resonate with my small audience --- maybe it won't --- but God's Word assures me that's not something I need to worry about.  I just have to do my "creative best" with what I have and God will take care of the rest.

What about you, o' faithful reader or two?  Do you ever suffer from a bout of "blog envy" or am I the only one who caves to the green-eyed monster of jealousy every now and then?  Please share.  It gets lonely talking to myself sometimes.

Envy is the art of counting the other fellow's blessings instead of your own.
Harold Coffin

Friday, October 21, 2011

Smitten with Knittin'

"Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course, superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage."
Elizabeth Zimmerman

My niece and I are taking knitting lessons at a local yarn shop.  I didn't want to at first.  I could think of a hundred excuses why now was not a good time to learn how to knit.  Money's tight, we only have one car, the house is a mess, my butt's too big ... you get the drift.  But then I remembered my birthday challenge to myself, specifically pushing myself to try new things and finding more time for me.  I said yes and I am so glad I did.  
Do you knit or crochet?  I taught myself to crochet several years ago, but never really got into it until now.   This time around,  I have discovered that knitting is more than just a piece of string and a couple of pointy sticks. I have found that when I sit down and knit, the load of stress upon my shoulders starts to lighten.  There's something magic about the steady repetion of stiches that soothes me. ***
"In the rhythm of the needles, there is music for the soul."
I've also found that the lessons are so much more than just a few woman gathered around a table armed with patterns, needles and bunch of yarn.  These sessions are a safe haven where women  can share their ups and downs of life with one another.  A place where someone will really listen to your stories and laugh (or cry) with you.  There is a camaraderie there that forms so quickly and so naturally, I've never experienced anything like it before in my life. 
"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit, either."
Elizabeth Zimmerman

***  I should note, that at this point when I drop a stitch or knit when I shoulda purled, (as I have far too many times ... grrrr!) the whole relaxation thingy sorta flies out the window.  I am trying hard to learn to just let go and enjoy the act of knitting and accept that sometimes things don't go as you plan.  Sometimes you can fix things, but sometimes you just have to make a new beginning ... wow, another one of those metaphors for life :) 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hanging on 'til Naptime

It has been one of "those" weeks.  Every mother has 'em and if you don't... well you must be either in serious denial or just plain freakin' June Cleaver. 

I love my chicklets.  I really do, but this has been one of those weeks where I sometimes question my decision to become a mother. 

“Mothers of teenagers know why animals eat their young”

Oh, I always come back to the "yes, my life is fuller because of them" and "yes, they are a blessing"  and all that jazz, but a teensy weensy part of me daydreams about what life would be like with a little less mess, a little less noise and in the case of this week ... a lot less sassy-ness. 

I swear that Boy Wonder has (as one friend described her own son) been taken over by an alien life form.  He is at  times, nearly impossible to live with. 

"I'm right behind teenagers who are tired of being harassed by their dumb parents! Take a stand now! Move out of home, find work and pay your own way - while you're still clever enough and know everything."

He has always been a handful, but puberty has really ignited a monster within.  Actually, he kind of vacillates between decent human being and raging beast, sometimes within seconds.  It catches me so off guard, despite my best efforts I lose my cool.  I hear myself and I think, "This Mama Hen needs to take a little time out."

The problem with disciplining a teenager is that in no time at all you begin to sound like one yourself.

Anyone else going through this?  Any suggestions on how to handle the not so glorious teenage years?  I once read that this phase of child rearing is like riding the rapids on a river.  You're in a raft and you're all gonna make it out alive (hopefully) but you've got a lot of rough water to get through.  You gotta just hold on and paddle and pray it's all over soon.

I  like that analogy, but at the same time I don't.  I've always tried to "enjoy" each stage of my kiddos' lives.  I tried to not just look ahead, but be in the moment.  Yes, even with the "terrible twos" ... which I am going through with the Little Prince right now too (Lucky me!)  I don't want to miss Boy Wonder's teenage years and I certainly don't want to be "at war" with him the entire time either. 

Most days I can clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel, but somedays I don't.  There are days  when I just barely have the strength to hang on until nap time.  Today is one of those days.  I won't beat myself up about it, I just wish there was a better way sometimes, you know?

"I'd like to be the ideal mother, but I'm too busy raising my kids."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Neatness Counts

Wordless Wednesday posts are something many bloggers do on Wednesdays (duh!).  The idea behind it is to post a photograph with no words to explain (hence the "wordless" in the title...double duh!).  Occasionally when I am feeling a little less verbose than normal, I play along.  Here's my latest attempt.

I know the title says wordless, but if you know me (which you most likely do if you are reading my blog) ... "wordless" is not exactly in my repertoire.  Perhaps "A Little Less Wordy Wednesday" would be more apropos, but it doesn't have the same catchy ring to it, ya know? Anyway...

As a home school parent, I am sometimes lax on requiring neatness when it comes to assignments from my chicklets.  I expect their work to be legible, but I am pretty lenient.  However, every once in a while I "demand" that their work ... especially their handwriting assignments ... be especially neat.  I mean heaven forbid that someday they have a job at let's say, the local caffiene dealer coffee shop and someone orders a French Vanilla cappucino.  Perhaps they would write the order (which in this case should be FV)  on the cup lid, fill it and hand it over to the customer.  Now if they haven't taken the time to write neatly (as their dear Mama Hen has so patiently taught them), the customer just might get the wrong "message" like I did this morning.

I'm just sayin' ... neatness count sometimes, dontcha agree??

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bragging Rights

I don't know how your weekend was, but mine was for the birds. Literally. Boy Wonder and the Munchkin were in a showmanship competition at a poultry show. Boy Wonder has been doing this for several years now, but this was the Munchkin's first "real" competition. And let me tell you, these things are fierce.

As I you may know, the chicklets are a part of 4H. Like many 4H-ers, they are involved in several projects besides just poultry. In 4H poultry competitions there are kids who know chickens, in fact some who know a whole lot about chickens, but Boy Wonder's ability to retain and "regurgitate" (what seems like) a mind-numbing amount of poultry knowledge usually gives him an edge. "Official" poultry shows are a different story. Alot of the competitors are the children of "hard core" poultry breeders (something the Geek and I are not) and as such have been "marinated" in all things poultry most of their little lives. To even place in the top ten is really an accomplishment for "regular" folks like us.

The Munckin had a bit of "stage jitters" and was feeling like a failure even before the contest began. We gave her the old "it's not whether you win or lose" pep talk and hoped for the best. She was competing in the 5 - 9 year old division, so some of the kids she was up against had been doing this for almost 5 years. She gave it her best shot, but we were sure she didn't place too high and again told her how proud we were of her for trying.

Boy Wonder's competition was even fiercer. Some of his competition had been doing this for almost ten years (twice as long as he's been at it). The kid is a wealth of poultry facts, but he has his weak areas. He knows alot about chickens, but not so much about other types of poultry (i.e. turkeys, ducks, pheasants, etc.) and that's what we felt could cost him in the end at this contest.

When it came time for the awards to be presented, we all thought the kids would get their "participant" ribbons and we'd call it a day. We never expected the Munchkin to claim "First Place Novice Division"!!! Boy Wonders "Third Place Intermediate Division" was the icing on the cake :)

We are planning to attend the "nationals" in Indianapolis at the end of the month. I am sure the competition will be even stiffer, but I think my chicklets are going to be up for the challenge. We've got three weeks to cram their little noggins full of everything poultry. It may be a longshot, but who knows? Like I told the Munchkin last Saturday... even if they do not come home with a trophy, as long as they do their best, they have done something they can definitely be proud of.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Where I Belong

Sometimes I wonder ...

... what would have happened if I hadn't gone to college.

... what would have happened if I hadn't taken that job at the beach that summer to help pay for college.

... what would have happened if I had decided not to go to that party with people from the beach.

... what would have happened if I'd never had the nerve to ask him out.

... what would have happened if he hadn't said, "Yes."

... what would have happened if I had not decided to switch colleges (and majors for the bazillionth time)

... what would have happened if we hadn't said,, "I do."

... what would have happened if we had decided to wait just a while longer to have kids.

... what it would have happened if we hadn't had any.

... what it would have happened if we had stopped at one ... or at two.

... what it would have happened if I was still working outside the home.

... what it would have happened if the kids weren't home schooled.

No matter what I wonder about, I know I am one of the luckiest people in the world. When it all comes right down to it, I realize all my choices have led me to where I am today. And although sometimes I wonder if I am going to lose my sanity, there's really no need to wonder ... I'm right where I should be.

Sometimes a song says it best...

Don't really know how I got here
But I'm so glad that I did
And it's crazy to think that one little thing
Could have changed all of it
Maybe it didn't turn out like I planned
Maybe that's why I'm such a lucky woman
For every stoplight I didn't make
Every chance I did or I didn't take
All the nights I went too far
All the boys that broke my heart
All the doors that I had to close
All the things I knew but I didn't know
Thank God for all I missed
Cause it led me here to this.

lyrics from Darrius Rucker's "This"
slightly paraphrased  by yours truly :)

Twenty-two years ago today, I was blessed to be able to marry my best friend. I went to a wedding this past summer and the maid of honor gave a toast to the bride and groom. She said life is like a roller coaster and it's important to have someone right next to you on the wild and crazy ride to laugh with at the peaks, cry with in the valleys and hold on tight to in the twists and turns. I've got that and that's something I never want to take for granted.

Happy Anniversary Geek!
You're my best!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

He Gets Me

I had a nice birthday. Despite one of our roosters deciding to kick the bucket on my special day, it turned out to be a pretty one. The weather was picture perfect and my brood actually got along ... which is always pleasant.

I got phone calls from my siblings all wishing me a happy day. I always love it when my oldest brother calls. He always identifies himself by saying, "Hello, this is your brother XXXXX." Like after 46 years I wouldn't know who he is. In fact my oldest sister does the same thing. It cracks me up every time.

My parents called me too. They were enroute to their home back in Florida. Let me just say, I am so glad they are back safe and sound. I worry about them driving that far at their age, but heaven forbid I suggest Daddy might be too old to drive it himself! That's coming soon, I fear, but I'll think about that another day.

I did miss one phone call this year. This was the first birthday that I can remember that I didn't hear my "birth story" from my big sister. Before she passed away, every year she would make up a story about the day I was born. Sometimes the stories were outlandish and sometimes they were closer to the truth. I don't know why she ever started doing it, but it was definitely something I looked forward to and it is something I will always miss on my birthday now that she is gone.

Of course there was cake and presents on my special day too. My brood baked my favorite kind of cake since I was a little girl ... cherry chip with pink frosting ... yum! As for presents ... Boy Wonder gave me a framed antique birthday card which I have the perfect spot for in my bedroom. The Munchkin made me an adorable handmade card and the Geek gave me a couple of good magazines, some Swedish chocolate, a beautiful bottle of perfume and a way cool shiny lime green pocket knife. Talk about being prepared in the case of any emergency ... with chocolate, a sweet looking sharp knife and a dab of perfume -- I am ready for anything that comes my way!

Yep, he gets me all right

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Another Year Older

Birthdays to me are a lot like New Year's ... they are a chance to start anew.  What's done is done and God has granted me another year to make the best of  my time on this ol' ball of dirt.  With that in mind, I decided to do a little "soul-searching" and come up with a few things that I could challenge myself to do over the course of the next year.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
Les Brown

Assuming Mr. Brown is right on the money, my goals for myself for the next year in no particular order are...

Spend more deliberate time with God.  I go to church. I pray before meals. I pray with the kids at bedtime.  I pray myself at bedtime.   I have been known to crack open the Bible and read every now and then. I rely my faith in God to get me through this craziness that is my life, but I know in my heart my faith could be soooooo much more. I want to make time everyday for God. A quiet time where I can just be still and connect with The One who gives me strength.

Hug more and yell less.  Being home with my chicklets 24/7 is a blessing and I am grateful beyond words that I can do it  but... I am only human.  There are days, weeks,  moments when I am amazed that the human race has continued to survive.  I jest (a bit), but I must admit I sometimes (all too often) find myself raising my voice in anger when maybe I should just cork it, grab my offspring and wrap 'em up in a big ol' hug instead.

Make more time for me.  It's easy to put myself at the bottom of the list.  Being a wife and mother (more specifically, a stay at home, homeschooling mother of three ... including at least two with special needs)  were done by choice and I respect that with those choices comes a lot of self-sacrifice.  It's easy to get so caught up in the mayhem and not take time to "recharge" myself. Not only do I end up hurting myself, but those who depend upon me suffer too.  Time out for me needs to be a top priority and not just something I do every once in a blue moon.

Take a step (or two or three) outside my comfort zone. This one can apply to so many aspects of my life. Next weekend our family has signed up to go door to door collecting can goods for the local food bank. It's one thing for me to make a donation, but to go out and encourage others to do the same is a real stretch for me. On a much less altruistic bent, I am planning to take a stand-up comedy class at a community college next month. I don't fancy myself a comic, but I can't think of a much bigger step out of my comfort zone than "exposing" myself onstage. Basically, I just want to take more chances and push myself to do things I might normally shy away from.

Become an author. I blog with some regularity, but I would like to challenge myself to write something even more substantial ... like a novel.  It is something I have tossed around inside my head for a while now.  I've done a lot of the groundwork.  I've read a lot --- not only books on the craft of writing, but books in the genre I am most interested in.  I've contacted authors and picked their brains for advice.  I think it's time to stop over thinking it, and just do it.  Someone told me recently (that'd be you Courtney) that "if it's in your heart to do it, go for it...and you may never know what may come of it, but I've heard many teachers say that even if you're never published, God can use your writing to speak to your soul..."  and goodness knows my soul could use a little speakin' to :)

Well, that turned out to be quite a list.  The bottom line ... I am going to not only make time for God in my life, I am going to make time for me.  I am going push myself to do more, be more, live more and love more.

Sounds like a plan :)

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
T.S. Eliot

Monday, October 3, 2011

Remember When You Were A Kid ....

Remember when you were a kid?
Well, part of you still is
And that's why we make Faygo
"The Faygo Boat Song"
circa 1970s
If you are singing the rest of that song right now in your head, you may have been a kid in the early 1970s like yours truly ... specifically in an area where Faygo brand pop was sold.  I  can still remember most of the words and occasionally entertain my chicklets with a slightly off key rendition.   They sell it pretty much everywhere now and I like to treat myself to a nice cold Faygo "pop" every once in a while ...  with "Rock and Rye" being my favorite, all-time, number one pick.
source: pinterest
Speaking of things from my youth ... the Munchkin and I went to the thrift store today to take a gander at some dress up clothes for her highness.  The actress has grown out of much of her costume wardrobe and that will never do!  Anyway on the way out I spotted this little guy.  I don't think he's vintage (although his tag does say "1969"), but he looks just like one I use to have as a kid and I couldn't resist his 49 cent price tag.  He looks perfect up on the shelf in my "creative space"  smiling down on me with his somewhat creepy clown smile. 
 Is it just me, or could anyone else go for an order of fries and a Coke right about now?