bat capes and siblings

Today at breakfast I went over again what today’s challenge was. To see a need….you meet a need. My nine year old asked….”what if I don’t see any?” My middle schooler explained that he sees them all the time while of course rolling her middle school eyes so well.

After school we asked the kids what needs they met. It ranged from picking up someone’s books that had fallen, to holding the door open for the teacher. While my sweet husband was found cleaning the basement with a certain bat cape on. You need to understand that he would rather go to the dentist than clean. He says he is allergic to cleaning, so for him to see that the basement needed some attention really was a blessing. While other family members met needs in other schools, grocery stores, and a care package delivery to another mama whose house was hit with the flu it has been a full day!

Today’s challenge was more about slowing down and listening. Listening and observing the needs around you every day. Some days I know it is overwhelming and the needs seem to outweigh any energy you have. But sometimes the need can be met by just being present. Just listening. Just giving a hug. Just loving someone where they are at. It’s about trying to live with intentionality every day.

Day19: I am kind of excited about this one ( because I know I need to do better at it). Love your sibling well. Whatever that looks like. An encouraging note, cleaning their room, buying them a coffee, calling them on the phone, not fighting with them all day, letting them watch Caliou again and again, paint their nails with your favorite polish. However you know that they need to be loved. Love them and love them BIG. If you don’t have a sibling….love someone who is like one to you. We all have people in our lives that stand in the gap and fill a need in us.

So here we go…..go love BIG!!!! #25daysoflove

p.s. I can hardly sleep tonight….because I know what the challenge is on Friday…..and its awesome!!!!

assessments.

This past week Ephraim’s teacher came for a home visit. The program that he is in for early intervention has it as one of their requirements that they visit the homes of their students. There is a higher risk of child abuse and neglect when the child has special needs or is labeled “at risk”. I was looking forward to her seeing how well he has integrated into the home environment. What I wasn’t looking forward to was the acting out that occurred the entire time she was here. He kept covering my mouth telling me to be quiet. He wanted her all to himself. He asked her to move in. It really was a highlight of my mothering career. My two other children home at the time then proceeded to answer the phone and play the bongo drums at the feet of the teacher. It felt like I was being taped for my own reality TV show on a network that no one would watch.

The report from the visit wasn’t what I was expecting. She mentioned several times how she was concerned how far behind he was. His language fluency as well as his social skills in comparison to his age was not measuring up. At first I was a little disturbed by her assessment of our sweet boy. And I wanted to say yes I know he is not at the correct developmental age. However, he is not even close to where he was a year ago. In this mama’s eyes he has come leaps and bounds from where he started from. And to compare him to a child the same age that was born and raised from birth with two parents in a first world country is just unfair.

Yet, this is how I compare myself. Daily I compare myself.

I love reading blogs. I am a bit of a blogaholic . There are blogs that I run across that I make a note to read later and then there are blogs that my smarty pants friends post and write that I learn so much from. But then there are the blogs that I follow religiously .They make me laugh and contemplate life and faith. For a long time though I only read adoption and mom blogs. I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone in the struggle. But you know what I kept feeling? I am not good enough. I don’t homeschool my kids anymore. I am homeschool dropout. I must not love my kids enough then. I don’t make my own detergent. Therefore I must not care about the environment or the stench of store bought detergent on my children. My children also do not match. Like ever. I shop at thrift stores and clearance racks. That is it. So I must not care if my kids never make the GAP adds. I also am not a size 4. I think I was a size 4 in elementary school for a month or so but I will never be small. So that means I must not care about my health or how attractive I am to my husband anymore. I know this is not true. I do.

But this is what I do, I compare myself to standards that don’t make sense. They are not even in the same ballpark. Making assessments with women I don’t know. Trying to assess where I am today with women that I discovered are at least ten years younger than me. Here I am sitting in my self- examination pity party trying to mirror the lives of people that I have no business holding my worth up against .

I am basically telling God that where I am today is not good enough. That how far He has carried me . Emptied me. Healed me. Transformed me is not enough. And that is just not acceptable. Where I am is not where I’d like to be. But from where I was a year ago is only by His grace. And His grace is enough.

In denial

It’s August. Or as I like to call it, denial month. I am running the other way from this month. When I was younger in Michigan I had no anxiety about it. Because they actually do summer the right way and don’t start school till after Labor Day. Like it should be. Instead I live in a state that has decided to send kids back to school the hottest month of the year. And we go to schools that lack central air or air conditioning. I know “first world problems” but I would not enjoy being a teacher with smelly fourth graders who don’t realize they need to use deodorant or brush their teeth more than once a day. Forgive me I digress.

I also am feeling a whole bucket load of guilt. I have been carrying it with me to the beach and every play date this summer. The mommy guilt rears its ugly head anytime I start paying attention to what others are doing around me. I was homeschooling all of the kids over the past few years. I loved it. I had all my little blessings with me and we had a lot of fun. Then last year happened. And we had to make the decision to place a few of them in school. And now I am officially a homeschool dropout. All of them will be attending school in two weeks. In case you’ve lost count that is five kids in four different schools. This thought in itself makes me want to crawl in the corner and rock back in forth. I am not about schedules or waking up early. I am not even about getting dressed before ten. Needless to say public schools frown upon bringing your kids to school after ten every day. Believe me I know. I know that I have failed. I really wanted to do unit studies and go on field trips and do math in our jammies. But my sanity knows that I can’t. My reality is that my mind and body need to heal . I need adult interaction. I need to finish writing projects. I need to shave my legs by myself.

This all may seem selfish. When I read it over, it does. Yet in order for me to be a better mom, a better wife I need to be a bit “selfish” for this season. I am doing a fine job of beating myself up with dropout guilt. I may or may not have even been browsing unit studies and avoiding even looking at that stupid list of school supplies that haunts me at night. I have nightmares about my kids being the only ones without all their pencils sharpened or the wrong shade of markers. I avoid answering questions or even making eye contact with other homeschool moms. I want to just wear a sign that says “ I’m sorry I failed”. Until then I will just be sharpening pencils…

stop trying to be laura ingalls

One of my mentors recently called me out on some things. Okay, perhaps not so much as a mentor but my therapist. Don’t go all “judgy judgy” on me, we should all pay for some sound advice sometimes. She let me know that I was not Laura Ingalls and needed to stop acting like it. Ok. Perhaps she didn’t use those exact words it was more like “why are you acting like you can do everything for everyone all the time?”

I look at Pintrest and see all of these amazing ideas. I scan Facebook to see supermoms making their own detergent, homeschooling, and still taking a shower every day and I wonder where did I go wrong? Ever since I came back from Uganda I have felt this overwhelming need to “make- up” for all the time I was gone. I have been determined to be a better mom. A better wife. A better friend. And apparently the measure all of that was figuring out what everyone else was doing better at. So I had been cooking these amazing meals with all the food groups included. Packing lunches that the kids would love to eat. There would never be the infamous cafeteria trading going on with my kids. I even have been making our own bread. From scratch. Like I forgot they made bread and sold it at the stores already sliced. Telling myself that this is how I was going to show my kids that I loved them. That I was sorry I had left them for so long. That I would never leave them again for so long. I thought that I was speaking their “love language” of non- processed foods. You can imagine how well this all went. It took about one month. One month of non -processed foods, amazing dinners, a prescription of Xanax and too many trips to the therapists office to discover I had hit rock bottom.

Apparently when you have five young children, your hormones are a wreck, you are reintegrating into your family and world, it is not a good time to raise the standards on yourself. And the standards that I had set for myself were beyond unattainable or even acceptable. No one ever told me that I needed to do all of these things. This is just what I had told myself. That in order to obtain my position as a loving mom I needed to at least do as well as all the moms on Facebook and Pintrest. But there I was flat on my face in a pile of flour wondering who I was supposed to be. And then I learned this. Again. I just needed to be present. Just there. I just needed to breathe and be in this moment. Not the moments that I lost. Not in the moments that may or may not happen. Just the moment of now.

So here we are. I bought bread. And they really like it. And I am present. And it is just where I need to be. I don’t need to make my own detergent to be a good mom. I can decide that some of my kids need to go back to public school. I can make macaroni and cheese from a box. And they will be ok. They will thrive. Because I am here.

four weeks in…

i am not a fast learner. as beth moore would say…God needs to keep you in the mouth of the whale a while longer than the rest of us. so lessons i need to learn don’t come to me so quickly. and let me tell you. i have alot of lessons to learn.

but as far as home school goes i am learning a little quicker. maybe.

so i will share with you all of the wisdom i have acquired in the last four weeks.

now don’t write these in pen or even a post-it. they might change by next week.

1. write everything in pencil.- every lesson plan. every thought. every idea. every field trip. write it in pencil- that way i can so change it and not feel bad crossing everything off.

2. its ok that they don’t do their work sitting at the table. or sitting anywhere. in fact i encourage laying on the ground or in their tree fort.

3. read the bible out loud. ( ok this one i so stole from a friend of mine. ) she suggested that when they read the bible out loud it gives them a confidence to speak in front of an audience. i also think that God’s word is so powerful and true that any chance we get to speak the truth out loud we should.

4.it’s ok to say no. and i don’t mean just to my children. i mean to all of the people who know i am home and think that it means i am available all day every day for any need they have. nope. i’m not. i need to say no. i need to say no so i can say yes to my blessings. i have chosen to stay home with them . i have chosen to serve them. i have chosen to learn beside them. so i need to say no.

5. grace should be my middle name. its not. but it should be. because grace is what i need. i need grace for myself. that i am going to mess up. and boy have i. but also grace for the blessings. they need more praise and less correction. more catching butterflies and less studying them. more cuddling and less arguing. more reading and less tv. ( although i so want to throw it out the window once and for all…but then the teacher would be really upset when world cup came on).

6. to laugh more. just laugh. belly laugh. and then take a picture.

so this is the wisdom that i have acquired in four weeks. don’t be blown away. i know its alot.

but do know this. i didn’t initially choose this type of education. God did. He asked me to protect their souls. and this is where He led me to.

and i know. i know that i know that i know that He is working through me. there is no way that i would have ever home schooled a year ago. never. but then He began to work on me. and it is only. only by His strength that i get up every morning. and check off one more week….

can i be a cowboy?


just a little snapshot into our “school” day. thank you shelia for hours of laughter and enjoyment. nothing says its been a good day more than happy cowboy….