Thankful Thursday

December 31, 2009 by Rieshy
It's ironic that today is both New Year's Eve and Thankful Thursday.

I'm not feeling especially thankful,  chagrined would be the better word.  Chagrined because I keep losing sight of all my blessings and what's worse- mentally pouting.  I hate pouters.

When I think about the 2010 coming I'm not feeling especially powerful either. Closer to the truth is that I'm doubtful of my abilities to be the person I want to be.

Which leads me to the passage that was read last Sunday night at church:

The steadfast love of the Lord
never ceases, 
his mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness. 
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul, 
"therefore I will hope in him."

Lamentations 3:22-24

It reminds me that even though I enjoy making goals and resolutions the truth is that every day is a new day. I don't have to be powerful, or drink 8 glasses of water a day, or meet any measure of tangible success.  I just have to wait upon the Lord.

Which of course is monumentally simple and monumentally unfathomable.  Most of all it is monumentally blessed.

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Unexpected Content

December 28, 2009 by Rieshy
Last year about this time our then 2 year old son was very sick- he spent Thanksgiving in the hospital and would spend 5 days in the beginning of January in the hospital.

It was a major time of stress for me (duh) caring for him and keeping up with my other children.  My 16 year old son had been struggling with a poetry assignment.  Late the night before it was due he asked me to read what he had written.  I expected poetry along the lines of my son's normal Monty Python-esque sense of humor.  The poem was an unexpected blessing:

God Is With You

When times are dark and bleak,
and troubles come around.
Through it all you should know-
God is with you.

When things are good and fine,
your troubles gone away.
You may forget what you knew-
God is with you.

When choices spin around,
you don't know which is best.
you need to ask but don't know who-
God is with you.

Through everything you go,
from good to bad to worse.
Always remember this important fact-
God is with you.

Trust in God

This was part of Steady Mom's 30 minute challenge.  12 minutes because my son did all the work.
Gratituesday is full of encouragement as ususal.

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Pondering the Petty

by Rieshy
My plans to attack my kitchen with a total reorganization and scrub down today have led me to a conundrum.  If I do in fact empty and organize my kitchen junk drawer... then what is the junk drawer's purpose, and even more importantly; what would it then be called?

Perhaps I should just sit back and contemplate a while longer...
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The Worst

December 26, 2009 by Rieshy
What's the worst thing about home schooling?

It's not what many people might imagine.  It's not the fear that you will wake up when your child is 15 and suddenly remember that you completely forgot to teach math.  It's not the messy house caused by home science experiments and omnipresent children.  It's not even the daily grind.

It is the fact that after any holiday break, when your kids have been jazzed up on diets abnormally high in sugar, when your family has abandoned all semblance of a regular schedule, when family "togetherness" has begun to wear thin; you can't just send them off for someone else to whip back into a learning frenzy.

Which is why I think I will spend the next week of vacation feeding my children nothing but beans and rice while they work pressure washing the house, painting the downstairs,  cleaning out the garage, finding matches to all the orphaned socks, and re-calking the bathtub.

Well, it's amusing to imagine...  maybe I'll let them have sour cream with the beans and rice.

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Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2009 by Rieshy

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Keep the Lists.

December 24, 2009 by Rieshy
I purge my house relentlessly.  Over the years if I've regretted tossing or giving away anything; the regret was so short lived I've already tossed the regret.

Except... except for regretting that I've never held onto the individual Christmas wish-lists my kids have made. Each year's list has been a interesting glimpse into the maturing personality of it's author. Additonally, not only have many of the requests been hilarious but they have always included various side notes explaining relevance of wishes.

For instance, one list this year from a young person included the request for a manicure set because, "I really would like one because it would keep me from picking at my nales."  That's a pretty good mothering incentive to buy the manicure set, right? -and possibly remember to do more spelling assignments.

From now on, after carrying the lists around for weeks, splashing coffee on them late at night while wrapping gifts, and letting a baby draw on the backs of them during church- I'm going to attempt to tuck them away.

I figure one piece of paper, times 4 younger kids, times the number of years still at home, will turn into something that I won't regret saving.

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December 21, 2009 by Rieshy
My husband and I just had our 22nd wedding anniversary.  That's a long time.

In related news I just watched Twilight with my older teens.  The repeated refrain of, "Oh, Edward" was sung out in a falsetto voice by my teens- especially my 17 yo son, whenever the hormone gushy emotions of a scene exceeded the bounds of reality and/or sanity.  O.K. we sang out the refrain quite a bit.  Interactive viewing at it's best.

Why do I relate this to being married for 22 years?  Because if I can teach my children anything about love,  especially my girls, it's two related things:
  •   Staring into a beloved's eyes is only romantic for a limited time period.  Stare too long and both you and your beloved will find there is nothing there to stare at anymore but boredom and annoying habits. 
  • The feelings of romantic love will not sustain a marriage long term.
Thank you, Greg, for insisting that love is a verb and not a noun; thank you for 22 years of living and doing, interspersed with (wonderful) times of gushy staring.

This was part of Steady Mom's  30 minute Challenge.
Check out Gratituesday for more blessings.

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Do you ever catch yourself?

December 19, 2009 by Rieshy
Hello, my name is Susan and I'm a uber-hypocrite-Mom.

Yesterday, I saw in my calendar that my 10 yo, Bekah, had a pediatrician's re-check appointment at 9:00.  It was 8:15 when I read the entry.  Panic and running and guilt ensued as the doctor is 30 minutes away and we were both still in our jammies. Guilt because it's easy to forget about my healthy kids medical needs when Jack's needs are so much more obvious.

As we ran out the door I grabbed a bag of frozen peanut M&M's and threw them to Bekah.  Breakfast of champions.  We munched chocolate goodness all the way to the pediatrician.

Of course the flow of time stopped completely in the waiting room.  I had the opportunity to amaze myself with my own hypocrisy:  In the waiting room there was girl about Bekah's age who was eating breakfast out of a baggy.

"Look at that baggy of full of some sort of crappo-sugary cereal complete with dyes of the rainbow variety. Poor child, what a horrid breakfast," I thought to myself.

Yes, I had fed my daughter M&M's for breakfast yet I had the temerity to mentally scoff at another mother who had planned ahead,  purchased, and packed cereal for her daughter.

A hypocrite's motto: It doesn't matter what your children eat as long as no one sees.
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Teminator 4: The Return of the Spiral Perm and other Friday Leftovers

December 18, 2009 by Rieshy
  • I watched Teminator- Salvation last night.  It gave me hope.  Judging from the looks of the women in the movie; trendy clothing boutiques and hair salons can survive a nuclear holocaust.
  • If you want to eat candy without being noticed by your children you must first put it into a container that does not broadcast a tell-tale crinkle noise. 
  • Mommy blogging is often as over produced as reality t.v. - wouldn't you kick that dirty sock out of the shot of your kids putting puzzles together?
  • You know you blog too much when something funny happens and one of your children says, "Mom you should post about that."
  • One of the many blessings of having teen aged girls is that they take over all the holiday baking. 
  • Does anyone know why the normally ubiquitous flats of cheap pansies for Fall planting were nowhere to be found this year?   

Check out Sippy Cups Are Not For Starbucks for more Leftovers.

    A Question of Prayer

    December 17, 2009 by Rieshy
    In many places I've lived if you want to say something negative you just say it. For instance, "Did you know Beatrice, the slob, has run off with a trapeze sales man?"

    In the South you would say, "Bless her heart, did you know that poor Beatrice has turned into a slob and run off with a trapeze sales man?"

    If you want to gossip in the South without appearing to be gossiping you might say. "We need to pray for poor Beatrice, bless her heart; did you know she's always been a slob and has run off with a trapeze salesman?"

    Prayer requests can be a tricky thing for me. I don't usually have a problem with gossip- I'm too stuck on my own issues to worry overmuch about what anyone else is up to. However, I realized this week that often when I ask for prayer requests for my son Jack and his illness; I'm actually using the request only as a way to let people know that he is having problems again.

    I'm using the prayer request as a way to let people know why my oldest son is ferrying the kids around to church and events instead of my husband and me. As a way to let people know that if my older kids seem tired or cranky to please give them a break.

    What I've not been doing lately is asking with faith; believing that prayer can actually change the course of Jack's illness or even heal him. I come close- I can totally get behind the idea that the prayer of others strengthens me, gives me wisdom and clear thinking. But somehow, I'm finding myself lacking faith to believe more.

    I still feel blessed. Every night of crisis, like last night's, that blows over with treatment at home. Every time Jack bounces back I feel blessed. I know God has a plan for Jack. I believe in prayer, intellectually. I believe that the answers to our prayers are often ones we would not choose but they are from our loving Father nonetheless.

    I guess I even feel blessed to realize my lack of faith. I've never related better to Mark 9:24- Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief."

    I feel amazingly thankful to read in Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet was without sin.

    Now I'm going to go get some badly needed coffee and read some posts from Thankful Thursday.

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    Pediatrician's Office

    December 15, 2009 by Rieshy
    "We have a cancellation, can you make it in 20 minutes?"

    Rushing, stressing, dressing
    Tidal wave of roar, done.

    Flourescents humming, wiggling, fretting, dreading.
    An hour's view:

    What to do?
    Humming...  Head


    Knees and toes, Knees and toes.

    Picture making, toddler angle of good news.

    This was part of Steady Mom's 30 minute challenge-  only 30 minutes, plus a tray of burned toast.

    Visit Gratituesday for more shared thankfulness.

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    Energy Requirements

    December 13, 2009 by Rieshy

    The hustle and bustle of the holidays and the end of the semester have taken their toll on my family.  My older kids are revved up and ready to do more- oh except concentrate on school work.  My little two are revved up as well, but not in such a fun way:

    • Samuel has a virus of some toddler variety- the variety that makes me thankful that I have not, in fact, potty trained him.  
    • Jack's body is so revved up that it's temporarily burned out his limited ability to maintain normal blood sugar ranges.  He's back on round-the-clock blood sugar monitoring and extra starch dosages.

    I think that by the time my chronically ill toddlers are grown up I'll be perfectly suited for a career in public relations.  I'll have had enough practice putting spin on news, at any rate.  For instance I had to call and tell my Dad not to come visit tomorrow because of the little one's illness. * In my announcement to the older kids I told the truth, "We don't want to share Sam's virus with GrandDad."  However, I left off the part about how Jack wouldn't be able to handle the energy requirements of any overnight visitor right now.

    My Dad is not a drain- he's a fun, big tall Texan, with a shiny red pickup truck, hunting equipment, cowboy boots and hat, and funny stories.  My kids only see him about once a year; it is an Event when he blows through town.

    I spin things because I don't want my older children to dwell on the many life-ripples caused by having a sibling with chronic illness.  I'm trying to balance having an active, fun, purposeful home for my teens with having a restful, calm, healing home for my chronically ill toddlers.

    I have faith that there is a way.  The bummer with mothering is that it takes about 50 years to see how your choices worked out.  So, check back in about 50 years...

    Here's to hoping we are just as silly-

    in 50 years.

    * The kids dramatically improved- my Dad was able to come and spend time target shooting with the teens, hanging out with the Middles, and wrestling with the Littles.
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    Odd's and Ends

    December 11, 2009 by Rieshy
    Friday Leftovers- odd random thoughts that might need to be explored or might need to be tossed:
    • Taking a two year old and a three year old to a sibling's band concert is kind of like going to the dentist; you have to do it twice a year, you know it's the right thing to do, you are happiest when it is over.
    • Gumby's voice is a lethal weapon.
    • It's totally disconcerting to walk with my teen daughters and notice boys and men notice them.
    • I have spent so many hours running to "Holiday" events that I now think Ebenezer S. may have had the right point of view before the ghosts got to him.
    • This week I had to explain what "panty hose" were to my teens.
    • While reading "Mrs. Piggly Wiggly" out-loud to my 8 yo,  I wondered about the sickly little boy that had the over protective mother. I wondered if she was really over-protective or if her son actually had mitochondrial disease or FOD, which were unknown during the time period the book was written.  Then I remembered the book is children's fiction.  Must go to bed early tonight.
    • Had Spinning Guild today.  It reminded me how important it is to have creative outlets in my life that push me beyond my daily bubble.
    • Batman and Robin don't have to wear pants.  As my 3 yo said, "They can wear just underwear."

    Thanks to Sippy Cups Are Not For Starbucks for this meme.

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    The Passing of the Baton

    December 10, 2009 by Rieshy
    My husband and my oldest son, Luke, used to build Bionicles together when Luke was much younger.  After waiting 15 long years Luke was thrilled to take his younger brother on as his Bionicle apprentice.

    Ben is the Master now.

    Something momentous happened this week. Something insignificantly momentous, that I am momentously thankful for:

    We took a family errand run and Ben's younger brother, Jack, bought his first Bionicle.  Ben and Jack rushed into the house. When I walked in, 13 seconds later, Ben already had the pieces spread out and the schematics open.  Jack was sitting at his side watching and learning.

    The Bionicles are beside the point.  What makes the event momentous is that a baton has been passed.   Luke was a wonderful, loving big brother.  He taught Ben how to be a wonderful, loving big brother. Now Jack is the apprentice.

    See more Thankful Thursdays.

    Super No Va

    December 9, 2009 by Rieshy
    Or, Poetry for the Sleep Deprived

    Mo' vacation please?
    Motive shunning, shirking notice of mental relocation.
    Where's the sense of my vocation?
    Motive shrinking, shrieking gone, chased by mote sleep's ration.

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    Knitting Mother-In-Laws

    December 7, 2009 by Rieshy
    Can a knitter make a good mother-in-law? This question may be years premature for me, but eventually I do hope to be a mother-in-law, quite a few times over. I think it important to figure things out ahead of time.

    The problem is that knitters have a tendency to disregard the wishes and personalities, not to mention taste, of their knitted-gift recipients. I know this because not only am I a compulsive knitter but because my own mother was a compulsive knitter. I'll never forget my first married Christmas watching my husband lift a heavy 100% wool, bright aqua, fussily knitted wool sweater out of a box. For Him from Her.

    I knew I'd love my husband forever when he found the words to thank my mom for all her hard work. It was a beautiful sweater- as a fellow knitter there was no denying it. As a wife, however, I had to work not to shout with laughter. We lived in West Texas at the time- such a sweater could have been worn for about 3.17 days out of the year... by a very cold-natured gay interior designer who had little fashion sense.

    With uncharacteristic compassion I hid the sweater in the back of our closet planning to unravel it and re-use the yarn to do something truly cruel; I was going to knit one of my brother-in-laws a tie out of it.

    I digress. My mom was a truly beautiful person and in the love language of knitters she was trying to tell my husband that he was a fully accepted member of the tribe. The problem was that my husband was and is a warm natured, low key, earth tone, stockinette stitch kind of guy. Why had my mother lost track of that?

    I know why my mom forgot about my husband- because she was a KNITTER. She found some yarn that she fell in love with, possibly on sale, possibly it came with a cool pattern, and she was off and knitting. My husband may have been the recipient but he was not the object.

    My own mother-in-law is fabulous. I'm pretty sure she sees me for exactly who I am and she loves me anyway- but then, she's not a knitter.

    This post was accomplished during nap-time as part of Steady Mom's 30 min. challenge.

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    December 6, 2009 by Rieshy
    It has come to my attention that the heart of my home is the refrigerator; which no longer works. It has also come to my attention that my children are wandering about thirsty because they do not know how to get water from the sink.

    This is the Year of the Appliance. I've had to replace our water heater, washing machine, freezer and now perhaps our refrigerator. Oh and a week ago we had to have the toilet in the kids bathroom worked on. I take full responsibility for the toilet; somehow it never occurred to me to tell the 2 yo not to flush pencils and handfuls of rubber bands.

    This is the time when the power to perceive the glass half-full is most required. Here's the half-full list:
    1. Our fridge stopped working after Thanksgiving guests and before Christmas guests.
    2. We just had a cold snap so all the food that had to come out of the fridge went into coolers on our deck.
    3. The wonderful repairman that fixed the toilet gave me the number for a fridge repairman and the fridge repairman gave me a gift bag of dark chocolate. As my 15 yo would say, "SCORE!"
    4. But most "half full" of all is the fun I've had laughing at/with my husband. He spent all morning telling the kids to leave the fridge alone and instructing them in the arcane art of getting water from the sink only to just now get up and try to get a glass of water for himself... from the fridge.

    Update: The fridge is fixed, on a Saturday, for under $200. Considering that we thought it was the compressor, and considering the cost of a new fridge I think my glass may actually be full and have crushed ice in it.

    Fod Family Support

    December 4, 2009 by Rieshy

    Fod Family Support has helped our family learn how to treat and care for our two young sons with Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorder. I exaggerate not when I say that this group has saved their lives. Without what we've learned from Fod Family Support our boys would certainly not be climbing on fences.

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    Pregnancy Craving Trivia*

    December 3, 2009 by Rieshy
    Recently my children asked me to recount the odd cravings I had while carrying each one. I do not know why this amuses them so. They seem to view it as a personality test of some sort and tease one another about "their craving."

    The list of cravings from oldest to youngest is:

    1. Luke: Tuna Helper (had never eaten it before Luke, nor have I eaten it since) and grapefruit.
    2. Grace: Spinach/fried egg/swiss cheese sandwiches.
    3. Sarah: Omelets made by my wonderful husband. After gaining a million pounds very quickly I found out he was putting 6 eggs, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and butter in every omelet -no wonder they were good.
    4. Bekah: Peanut M&M's, because my husband was doing all the cooking and, with the exception of omelets, he really can't cook.
    5. Ben: Prunes, lots of prunes. A word to the wise, a surfeit of prunes makes for an embarrassing delivery.
    6. Jack: Sushi, which was not allowed so feta cheese which also was not allowed so I whined and ate a ton of jalapenos instead. Do not try to make sense of that.
    7. Samuel: Two fancy organic medjool dates every morning with a cup of tea that I pretended was coffee.
    I can't see that any of those cravings reveal anything about the personalities of my children. Listing all my cravings does reveal that I've spent a lot of years having cravings. Which in turn reveals that my husband has the personality of a saint.

    *Disclaimer for possibly alarmed relatives: I am not currently having any cravings of any sort for any reason.

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    Rare Disorders

    December 1, 2009 by Rieshy

    This week we've had some minor bumps in our Littles' health. Nothing serious, just more adjusting of medications, minor illnesses, and few extra hours at the pediatrician's office. We are very blessed with how great our little ones are doing and very blessed with how little medical intervention they require. However, the "bumps" put me back in ponder-mode about life with chronically ill children.

    My pondering has culminated in a veritable news flash. Prepare yourself for great insight; chronic illness is... well... chronic.

    Actually, I looked up Webster's definition of chronic:
    1. a: marked by long duration or frequent recurrence; not acute b: suffering from a chronic disease
    2. a: always present or encountered esp: constantly vexing, weakening, or troubling b: being such habitually.
    It's a pretty thorough definition. I took comfort in it, as if Mr. Webster himself just gave me personal permission to feel vexed and weak and troubled. I guess the definition validated how I often feel.

    Imagine how much you can start doubting yourself as a parent when you have a child who can go from fine to critical with almost no warning. A child who has such a rare disorder that your (excellent and very experienced) pediatrician has never dealt with it before. A condition so rare, that the residents in the E.R. get excited and come chat with you and look over your child even if they are not technically assigned to your child's case. Imagine you have two such children.

    The hardest thing for me to cope with, chronically, is differentiating symptoms of the disorder from symptoms of normal toddlerhood. For example, is Jack just fussy or is he beginning a metabolic crash? Is Jack losing weight and bruising because he's been running around like a madman and wrestling with his 8 yo brother or because something is medically wrong? Is Sam demanding more milk to stall his bedtime or did he not consume enough carbs. during the day? Part of my mind can never really rest.

    Let me change that last sentence: I have not yet learned how to let part of my mind stay alert to my two Little's condition while letting my mind also rest in God's providence. I will learn. I think it will be a bit like dealing with grief - one day I'll realize that I've turned a corner and left my immature restless-worry behind.

    Until that day comes, though it is a bit out of context, I take comfort in 2 Corinthians 4:8-18 which begins: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair..."