Monday, September 27, 2010

IT'S FFFFAAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!




IT'S FFFFAAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!!


Okay by this point in time, if you are a friend on Facebook, then you have realized I love Fall. Actually, I woke up quite chipper this morning. . . it's true, I am a racist against Summer. I hate most everything about Summer. I hate being hot and sticky and sweaty. I hate that I can't snuggle next to Chris because it is entirely too warm to even touch each other, much less snuggle. I do enjoy flip-flops, because I can just slip them on and go - providing I am not doing any major walking, then I am forced to suffer with hot, sweaty feet, because I must wear sneakers to prevent spraining my ankle for the 5th time in 8 yrs. Fall however, brings so many wonderful things.


It brings cooler climates - which means a lower electric bill. It means the leaves begin to change colors (except for my developmentally challenged tree - which refuses to change colors like a normal tree because hey, I have a developmentally challenged child, it only makes sense I would have a developmentally challenged tree too.). It means our neighborhood begins to transform into a vibrant display of orange, red, gold, and brown leaves which the girls and I love looking at and admiring. But possibly one of the greatest things about Fall is that it means I can bring out my Twining Tea! I dearly love Twinings Tea - it is yummy and like sunshine in a cup. I drink it and for a brief time I am magically transported to my childhood and my Grandma Taylor is there serving soft boiled eggs and toast fingers. For a short while I am warmed from the inside out and can savor the lovely goodness that is Twinings Tea. I am partial to Irish Breakfast Tea, but I also enjoy their English Breakfast Tea as well.


I love that in the Fall, it becomes the time of year when you see pumpkins out on porches and children playing in sweatshirts and sweaters and yet their cheeks are rosy from exertion as opposed to turning red from heat stroke. I love watching my girls tromp through the leaves and jump in them. I love pulling out comforters and blankets, cold weather clothing and doing homework with Elizabeth or working on her math multiplication & addition tables and teaching her new sight words. I love snuggling under my latest "Aunt Nina quilt" with them and listening to them giggle at some cheesy holiday movie I've rented from Netflix. Fall means I can introduce my children to musicals, movie classics (John Wayne, anyone? How about "Yours, Mine & Ours?). I get the joy and pleasure of baking muffins, banana bread, pumpkin bread and cinnamon rolls with my girls, or letting them help make cookies.


Okay, I know there are some of you who won't agree, because you don't like to be cold. . . that's fine. I'm not a fan of a higher gas bill, but I love my lower electric bill. I am not in fact, a fan of driving on snow and ice when it seems that every person on the road wants to drive insanely fast, despite the fact, that common sense should dictate that you slow down. But with those things to the side - Fall brings change, an end to the year. New beginnings to look forward to and so many other wonderful things. Holidays and time with family, cold evenings at home laughing with Chris and the girls. . . an excuse to pull out all my favorite soup recipes or make a lovely pot of chili.



Last but not least it reminds us that while all good things must come to an end, that God's love never ends. It is unfailing and ever present, much as our Maker is himself. Only God could create a world where there are seasonal changes and things that may seem small and insignificant as changing leaves are really a reminder that God created an amazingly complex relationship between the plants and the seasons.


I hope you all have a good week and enjoy the new weather.

In Christ,

Maureen

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Parental Shifts



Parental Shifts:


This year has been a year of major changes in our house. Chris came home from Iraq to no job, Ted passed away, and Chris is getting into a new business.


In all of this, Chris has been home a lot more, so there have been some subtle and some not-so-subtle changes in our house. Chris being home means more time with Daddy for our monkeys. This is huge because before it seemed as if Dad was never home enough and everyone couldn't seem to gain enough of his attention. Now as he is home more, it means things are different. It's much harder to make Mom's life difficult because Daddy is home to back her up. This also means that Elizabeth has lost the battle of the food and begun eating almost everything you put in front of her. There are still a few things she balks at, but in comparison to previously, I will gladly take it.


Another change is in the dynamic of the house. Before Chris left I was pretty much a single parent even though he was home on Sunday's all day. Chris worked second shift (not because he loved it, it just happened to be necessary and the only shift available) and so it was the three girls against me. I often second guessed myself - a lot. Especially when it came to Sarah. Sarah's a good kid, but she is still a kid and does things that a normal kid will do from time to time. So I often felt as if I was losing my mind and like maybe it was just me being overly harsh or critical. I know that there are some in our families who have thought that and when you have all those people choosing the kid over backing you up, it makes you think you might not be a good parent. With Chris finally home to see everything, I know it's not just me. Am I still the one who tackles a lot of stuff, yes, but he's there to back me up and help me out a lot more often than before. That is extremely important since we know that within the next two years he will most likely be picked up for redeployment. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when and knowing that he sees it all now and will back me up regardless of the situation, helps the girls and it helps me. I don't think "Thank you" quite covers it.


So on one hand I have a child who is from a different home and so she's literally learning our rules and structure and discipline as a foreign language to her and is playing catch up in this area. Add to this that I am not her biological mother and it makes life interesting at times. Then there is Elizabeth. Elizabeth is 9 yrs old and while Sarah could have waited for her own bus by age 9 yrs old w/o me standing there, that is simply not an option. With Elizabeth's special needs comes a challenge in the fact, that she has little to almost no impulse control and has very little sense of fear. So even though she would love me to let her go to her bus stop alone, it's not an option right now - especially since it requires crossings the street twice to get to her bus stop.

For Elizabeth, the challenges ahead are a different arena than those Sarah and Rebekah who by societal standards fit into a "normal" category. They will never struggle academically or socially like Elizabeth and yet she is in a league all her own - she has an amazing imagination and I can see her creating computer programs or video games or art. . . she loves art.


Last but most definitely not least is Rebekah. She is gaining the benefit of Chris and I learning from Sarah and Elizabeth. By the time that she reaches her teens we will hopefully be more deft at the fine art of navigating puberty and adolescence. Heaven knows we have made our fair share of mistakes with Sarah - ironically mistakes that will not pertain to Elizabeth or Beka because we don't have the challenge of another parent in the mix. And yet, I also think Beka will be the one we will need to watch closely more than Elizabeth. Being as sharp as she is, I foresee her trying to pull a lot of stuff over our eyes. Where Elizabeth has little sense of physical danger but fears social situations and large groups - Rebekah has little fear of social situations but is afraid of zoo animals, tornado sirens, vacuum cleaners, strangers she doesn't know (although not introducing herself and us to other children). In some ways she might be safe from danger because she has more sense than to dive off of cliff whereas Elizabeth would leap off of the top step and expect us to catch her.


It is amazing in all of this how difficult it is to find that happy medium between dictatorship and being without rules altogether. I know people who think we have too many rules for Sarah and our girls, but I also know this . . . being a parent isn't a popularity contest. Loving your child means you have to love them enough to let them not always like you. It means loving them enough to be a "no" parent - a parent willing to say no and not allowing their Id to rule when they want to go out and do things that are not a good idea. It means you ask the tough questions and at times wonder if you should reconsider even though you know you have to stand firm. It means teaching your children to be respectful of their elders, to obey the rules, and that rules are there not to stop them from having fun, but to keep them safe.


It reminds me of how God created a series of rules in the Torah for the Children of Israel. These laws were not meant to restrict and confine them so much as to give them structure, discipline and keep them safe. For example: forbidding them from eating pork - back during that time, pigs often had parasites in them and you couldn't always cook them enough to kill the parasites. Do not worship idols, so you don't lose your focus on God. Do not work on the Sabbath - it gave them one day to completely rest and become prepared for the coming work of the week. He even promised them in Jeremiah that he knew the plans he had for them - plans for their benefit not for their harm. That doesn't mean it's easy to follow the rules, nor is it easy to be the one dishing out the discipline. I don't know a parent who enjoys hearing their child cry because they have been punished (okay not one who doesn't abuse their child). And while I know my daughters may not always like our rules, I also know that our rules are for their benefit, not for their harm or from a lack of love. Quite the opposite. . . someday they will understand that. At least I hope so.


I hope you all have a good week.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

Monday, September 13, 2010

Remember When

Remembering When
This is one of my best friends, Jaymi. We have gone through college together, growing spiritually, marriage, babies, and life together.
Facing some of the drama that my oldest is facing right now reminded me of facing a guy together. We both liked the same guy, he was cute, dark hair - blue eyes and a sweet heart for God. At least, Jaymi and I thought he was very cute - at the same time. The problem, he & Jaymi had become pen pals over the summer and I was pretty sure he liked her, but I liked him too.
I remember when Stephen down with me in the prayer chapel and told me he was growing in love with Jaymi. There was a part of me that wanted to do the right thing, and a part of me was less than thrilled. So I put on a brave face (although given that I'm a terrible poker player, I don't know how convincing it really was) and told her congratulations and that I was happy for her.
Of course, when it was said and done, I went home and cried to my mom.
My sister asked me on the day Jaymi and Stephen got married how I could do it, since he had chosen Jaymi over me. And I would like to say I didn't have to think about it, but here is the truth. The day after Stephen and Jaymi began dating, I was sitting in the cafeteria at the community college I was attending at the time feeling sorry for myself when I realized something. I realized several somethings actually: a) that Jaymi was a very good friend and that I loved her a lot and I loved being her friend and b) that I could sit there wallowing in self pity or I could be a truly good friend and be happy for her. That was in September 1995 and since then, I've seen Jaymi & Stephen date, get married, move to London for a year and move far away and have children. I too married eventually in 2001 and as I got to know Stephen more in depth I realized that he was a good match for Jaymi and that together they made a great team AND I now know that he would have made me crazy being married to him. Truth be told, we would never have gotten married, because our dating relationship (had there been one) would never have lasted
The moral of my story is this: guys come and go and life will toss you a lot of curveballs and lemons, but if you are lucky enough to have a good friend; then sometimes it is more important to be a friend than to have our own selfish wants and desires fulfilled. To have friends, you have to be a friend to your friends. Even when it means putting your own wants, needs, and desires on the back burner. Because if you don't, then you will end up alone, miserable and wondering why you don't have anyone who wants to be your friend.
I also learned this: That I wouldn't change my choice. I choosing to put myself aside, I learned that when we give love and we let go of our own wants and desires that we gain so much more. I gained a best friend who has stuck by me through thick and thin.
I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mamabear


Being a Mamabear:
Obviously at this point in my blog anyone who has read it knows I am a mom. My kids are often the source of my blogs, because they are humorous and do things that either make me laugh or make me so mad I could quite literally, spit nails.
But what do you do when your kids are learning those life lessons that bring out your Mamabear instinct? Anyone who has a child knows what I am talking about - the part of you that wants desperately to charge in and save the day when your kiddo is smarting. Whether this comes from learning how to deal with friends, who maybe aren't such good friends; to dealing with children who aren't very nice to them.
This past week fighting the urge to step in has been a very large struggle for me. One of my girls is having "friend" issues at school and I find myself torn between stepping in and letting my sweetgirl learn how to navigate this problem on her own. After all, as a mom my first instinct is to step in and tell her friends to grow up and stop being twinkies already. Then the calm, analytical part of me says, "But they are hurting my daughter, a child I would give my hearts blood for in a minute." And I realized that God must have struggled with this too so many times when Jesus was here on Earth. But probably no time caused him greater anguish than when Jesus was on the cross calling out, "Why have you forsaken me." Or in the garden when he asked that his Father to "take this cup from me" all the while saying, "But only if it is in your will." How much God must have yearned to come down and smight not only Jesus' tormentors but those who asked for his son's death - a death that would in all rights free them from the bonds of sin. In seeing this struggle from a fresh perspective, it gives me the strength to stand back and let my daughter learn to navigate this tricky time.
It is in these moments that I find that while I would dearly love to tell some children off or to step in roaring like a lioness protecting her cubs that I must demonstrate a greater love. The love that say, "I love you enough to stand beside you and pray for you as you walk this path but I will not interceded or come into the problem. I will nuture you enough that you know what you need to do to take care of the issue, but I won't give you the answers, just a gentle nudge in the right direction." Let me tell you that is a tough phrase to say . . . "God I am leaving my daughter in Your capable hands, because I know you will carry her through this and your ways are truly higher ways than mine."
So as we start a short week thanks to the holidays, I share with you the heart of a Mamabear and give you encouragement to not intervine - even when the urge is so strong you almost have to tie yourself to a chair. I encourage you instead to lift your child into prayer and let God become the leader of their lives and hope and pray that your guidance and God's wisdom will prevail. Because even Mamabears know when to step back and let their cubs learn from their mistakes.
Love in Christ,
Maureen