Pictures of You- The Momma

January 31, 2010 by Rieshy

Last Friday I posted a memory I had about being with my mother in Italy when I was 14. I looked and looked through my parent's photo albums to find a picture of my mother and me to include. I discovered that there are hardly any pictures at all of my mom during my teen years.

It made me look through my photo albums. I have teens, more specifically; I have teen girls. Someday they might want to remember what I looked like. I wondered what I would find. Nope, hardly anything.

I know why. I'm always fussing at my husband or children not to include me in whatever photos they are taking. Usually because I don't have makeup on- or my hair's a mess, or I'm in raggedy yoga pants.

Hmmmm. Either I am terribly vain or I am a habitual slob. Even worse, perhaps I am terribly vain and a habitual slob...

My mother died when she was 54. I don't have any more chances to get her photo. But I do have time to let my photo be taken- no matter how I look.

Anyone need to join me in a new photo-philosophy? If so, throw away raggedy yoga pants and smile for your personal paparazzi.

Also check out this new meme I just found called Making Your Home Sing Monday.

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More Southern Snow Days

by Rieshy
We've been "snowed in" southern-style all weekend. Southern-style simply means that we got 3 inches of snow with a layer of ice on top- literal icing.

My children have had a blast- except for this guy who, at 37 pounds, did not weigh enough to sink through the crust of ice. I'm re-naming him Legolas.

This next picture is purely to show off Legolas' hat. This is one of the first things I spun years ago on my Kromski spinning wheel. Ignore the fact that I knit it before I knew how to make stripes match-up in the round.

This was shot was right before he slipped, yet again for the last time. "Bad snow."

The snow and ice meant we didn't have to worry about our bikes being stolen, not that we ever do. Notice the man-in-black. He's tough.

This morning I asked 2 year old if he liked playing in the snow yesterday. He answered, "I fall down, and down, and down."

I think that's a, "No."

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January 29, 2010 by Rieshy

This is a photo of noise. It makes me smile. Forget the ripped pants, no males were injured in the making of this photo, just eardrums.

This is what happens when 15 yo sister decides to be musically retro and play Queen's, "Another One Bites the Dust."

Right after dinner is spastic time at my house; add a strong drumbeat and I get to watch my 4 boys jump on each other. Even the 2 year old can hold his own.

Weird. Noisy. Fun. Not for the faint of heart.

Linked to Feel Good Friday.

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13 Blessings

January 28, 2010 by Rieshy
I'm tired, fuzzy brained and somewhat random. I wasn't going to do Thankful Thursday this week because it's been a long week- a week made longer by my 2 year old's stomach virus.

However, as I switched the coffee maker on I realized that listing my thanks for this week would be good exercise for my sleepy brain, and a great way to turn my personal dial away from the cranky setting- yes, I'm still analog.

I'm thankful:
  1. for fresh coffee
  2. for a dishwasher that is so quiet I can hear my family talk while it runs
  3. for disposable diapers (see above mentioned stomach virus)
  4. that my son is doing well, getting better and didn't require a hospitalization
  5. for the fact that no one else in the family seems to have gotten sick- I could tap dance on the roof over that! (if I could tap dance, and if I could actually get on my roof)
  6. for my new schedule- We were able to keep the house running smoothly even though I've been up all night checking blood sugars and temperatures on little ones since Monday
  7. for my husband- he's just generally wonderful, and works so hard- plus, I like the way he smells
  8. for raw corn starch (not as random as it looks- it's given as a preventative for hypoglycemia)
  9. for fresh milk from a friend's cow
  10. for my friends that brought us an enormous box of chocolate, I mean mongo-enormous.
  11. that my big kids are funny, helpful and interesting people
  12. that every time I come home from an errand my little ones treat me like I'm a returning hero
  13. to the blogger (I can't remember who or I'd put a link to her great post) who blogged about this passage: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Attending Church Services With Toddlers

January 27, 2010 by Rieshy
I've had a baby or toddler in tow for basically 18 years straight now. Even though all my children have learned to sit quietly in church services pretty quickly, services with small ones is not exactly restful or conducive to deep personal "spiritual" participation.

Even the best behaved babies spit up, have ill-timed diapers or need to nurse. Toddlers wiggle, want to play with your hands, hair, bracelet. Small children fall asleep against you, tugging your neckline down so that you spend 2 verses of a song trying to tug it back up without waking them. Notebooks get dropped, older kids need help finding passages.

All of this of course happens after the morning rush of getting everyone dressed and fed and out the door- "No I don't know where your other black shoe is- quick someone go back in the house and grab the nail clippers so I can clip 5 yo's disgusting nails on the way!"

Sometimes it's just a long and dusty work regardless of how insightful the sermon or beautiful the singing. The corporate worship and fellowship aspects aside, I've often found myself wondering why? What am I getting out of services?

One answer was given me yesterday.

Any mother dreads stomach viruses. They can spread like wild fire through the family, wiping out weeks of productivity. Almost everyone has one kid who seems incapable of making it to the bathroom. Ick. I especially dread stomach viruses because my two youngest have a metabolic disorder and a stomach virus can trigger a metabolic de-compensation.

My 2 year old got sick yesterday. His first stomach virus. How will he do? It's almost not a matter of if, but when and to whom this sweet, coughing, runny nose, feverish, kiss-giving toddler will share the virus. Will it be to his 3 year old, more fragile brother?

I was getting dressed when I felt a balloon of panic fill my chest. Visions of two babies in the hospital at the same time- all sorts of scenarios started rushing past my mind's eye.

Then, out of the past 18, often dusty years of church, came the words of a hymn. A hymn I don't even like. The balloon popped; panic was replaced by the words, "The battle belongs to the Lord".

The power of darkness comes in like a flood
The battle belongs to the Lord
He's raised up a standard, the power of His blood
The battle belongs to the Lord

We sing glory and honor Power and strength to the Lord
We sing glory and honor Power and strength to the Lord
by Jamie Owens-Collins

The words don't mean that the stomach virus will instantly disappear. But they do remind me that Christ has already won the ultimate victory; I'll lean on him, and that's enough. In the meantime I'll get to enjoy cuddling the above mentioned 2 year old, who is usually far too busy to cuddle.

I guess I've been getting more out of services than I realized.

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Monkey See, Monkey Do Knife Tricks?

January 25, 2010 by Rieshy
Imagine a relatively quiet house. I am hiding in the dining room enjoying the last cookie and a cup of tea. My brain slips away...

Commotion from the direction of the kid's bathroom. I can hear 2 year old being evicted. His company was not desired during 13 year old's bath.

I tune everything out and mentally vacate to an age where I could be wearing an elegant morning gown, sipping tea out of bone china while my cook awaits the evening menu.

Commotion again. I can see 2 year old stomping into the kitchen like a man on a mission. He angrily opens the cutlery drawer.

Whoa, this is not part of my ideal 1790's daydream. I follow unobtrusively as he marches with his newly acquired butter knife back to the bathroom door. Once there he deftly inserts knife into the keyhole and begins to unlock the door.

Commotion yet again. Sounds of the 2 year old trying to resume his conversation with 13 year old sister, squeals of outrage from said 13 year old, gasping sounds of momma trying to hide her laughter.

Obviously every-time I've had to jimmy an accidently locked interior door, a monkey has been watching.

This is part of Steady Mom's 30 minute challenge. This post took 27 minutes and several ginger cookies.
I'm so grateful that God made mothering such a surprising and ever-funny field of endeavor. Check out Gratituesday for more reasons to smile.
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Let Sleeping Dogs and Children....

January 24, 2010 by Rieshy
*Napping at 2:00 in the afternoon because...

At 4:00 a.m. the above sleeping-sweetie and his 2 year old brother tried to throw a party. None of the other invitees, including me, were happy.

Little brother is so tired this afternoon because of last night's soiree that he's uncertain which way is down.

Because of their metabolic disorder I can't allow either of the night revelers to take an extra long nap. I have to wake them to make sure they eat on time.

When my boys can't sleep, and want to drink and drink and drink at night, and are full of restless energy it usually means they are coming down with a regular, everyday toddler illness; which is stressing their already fragile metabolic system.

We have to work to keep them from developing life-threatening hypoglycemia- thus no late mornings or long naps. So at our house, sleeping dogs may lie but children have to wake up and eat cookies.

I think I'll join them...

*I've had some questions recently about what our sons' illness means on a day to day basis. So I thought I'd try to occasionally post some glimpses of normal daily life with my children's version of FODs.

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Walking With Mom

January 22, 2010 by Rieshy
My mother and my 14 year old self were walking along, arms linked, when we got lost in Florence, Italy. We ended up on a back street populated only by 3 men lounging in a doorway.

I'll never forget how my petite mother straightened her back and silently communicated that I needed to walk confidently and carry myself with pride. Even with my limited Italian, I could tell the comments were too detailed, and of course the wolf whistles were self-explanatory.

At a particularly loud comment as we passed, my mother stopped suddenly, turned and somehow looked down her nose at men much taller than herself. She pointed at me, then wagged her finger at them as she said, "No, No, No."

The men were stunned into silence. When we reached the corner we heard an explosion of laughter and one of the men shouted to my mother, "You are a Good Mother!" As we turned the corner we could hear more whistling- but this time it was a sound of respect.

Walking with my Mom: sometimes hazardous, often funny, usually instructional.

Check out The Girl Next Door Grows Up and her Feel Good Friday.
Join Me For...

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See Me Smile

January 20, 2010 by Rieshy
Saturday my 17 year old had 6 friends over to shoot a "short". This brought the under-18 population at my home to 13. Smack in the middle of their shoot my new dishwasher was delivered.

See stunned appliance delivery-men's faces at the sight of many costumed and fake gun toting teens filling my modest home.

Exit teens to the front yard to let off steam until the delivery is complete. Two of the teens happen to be the sons of our community's sword-smith (what, your community doesn't have a local sword-smith?) and they have brought prototypes.

The sound of ringing swords is bound to attract attention. So does the sight of 6 teen-aged boys attacking each other with an assortment of claymores, daggers, short swords, katanas and cutlasses.

See stunned appliance delivery-men's faces as they ask, "Are those real swords?"

See for yourself.

Pull out old dishwasher to find 39 pencils, countless match box cars, and a vast population of almost-sentient dust bunnies relaxing in a pool of leaking water.

See my horrified face.

Thankfully my 15 year old daughter had just baked a huge tray of Snickerdoodles cookies.

See me feed the delivery men a dozen cookies in the hopes they will forget everything they have seen and call neither the police nor the health department.

The delivery-men and extra teens finally leave; watch me load my new dishwasher- a gift from my wonderful sisters. When the cycle finishes listen as I open the door and my 13 year old gasps with great joy, "They're clean!"

Now, see me smile.

For more smiles go to Thankful Thursday.

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January 19, 2010 by Rieshy
Dealing- as in with stress. Dealing with things I cannot change. Sometimes dealing with merely my own unlovely stupidity.

Dealing with a God who is bigger than a candy store- when all I want is a candy store. Just bag up chocolate-covered patience and trust, and throw in cinnamon-flavored stability; I'll take it to go.

I want to be a novel so I can peak at the ending in order to relax and enjoy the present reading.

God is not compliant but God is Love.

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

He hears my immature prayers and sighs.

I realize I am wishing for a God much smaller than the great I AM. I'm wishing for a God content to leave me small and unfinished. But: "He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share his holiness." Hebrews 12:10 and- "For our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:29

I guess this is why even in Narnia (speaking of novels) it is often repeated that, "Aslan is not a tame lion."
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Language Explosion

January 18, 2010 by Rieshy

In my experience every time a toddler experiences a developmental leap, it is accompanied by a less desirable behavioral lapse. For instance, a toddler figures out how to jump with two feet at the same time and then has nightmares for a night or two. Or, when a toddler figures out how to climb a slide and slide down without help he suddenly wets the bed during nap time- or falls apart at dinner time for a day or two.

My two year old just had a language explosion. Suddenly he's speaking in 5 and 6 word sentences with proper subject/verb agreement and expressing more abstract ideas. The related lapse?

Big sister caught him climbing on her guitar case and had the audacity to make him get down. His 2 year old heart swelled with indignation; his brain searched his new found language skills for an adequate expression of disgust. "You Poop," he angrily muttered.

"What did you say to me?" Big Sister asked.
"Y o u P o o p," he annunciated more clearly, leaning forward so his lips were more readily visible.

Clearly not all language explosions are desirable, nor do all language explosions have happy endings.

Perhaps if he had used the proper verb....

This was part of Steady Mom's 30 minute challenge. (22 minutes because I didn't add in the time it took to discuss scatological cussing with 2 year old .) Steady Mom always has an interesting blog as well as a lot of great Mclinkys.

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Friday Night Leftovers

January 15, 2010 by Rieshy
Do you know what your children are doing?- My teen age son and his younger brother had an interesting afternoon shooting and animating this clip. After my three year old watched the clip his comment was, "Can I play with that too?"

Easily entertained: I got a new coffee pot for christmas. The on switch is an old-fashioned shiny metal toggle switch. Yes, toggle switch. We keep making coffee just to get to switch the toggle on. Good thing it makes great coffee. Good thing my husband has had to work all night several nights this week anyway.

The main difference I have noticed between boy toddlers and girl toddlers is that my girls always said, "Play with me," and my boys always say, "Watch this". That and the fact that everything boy toddlers play requires spitty sounding sound effects.

I love Friday Night Leftovers. Poke around see if there is anything else interesting out there.
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Intelligent Design

January 14, 2010 by Rieshy
In "A Wrinkle In Time" Madeleine L'Engle brings up a very minor subplot exploring the idea of how the physical properties of our world require us to have certain senses; and how the design of our senses and physical bodies require our world to have certain properties.

As a child this always intrigued me.  It also made me wonder why God bothered to create such an intricate world with so many possibilities for sensory pleasure. My only guess is that God did so because God is Creative- literally of course.

I'm glad He is and that He did.  I thought I'd list my personal top 13, guilt free, rated "G", sensory-rich pleasures.

  1. The sound of my knitting needles clicking along when a knitting project is going well. (Alas, not a recent sound.)
  2. The sound of piano, when my children are playing from their heart and not just to get practice time finished.  
  3. The soft sighs of my babies when they are sleeping peacefully.
  4. The sound of any family member when they laugh a full out honest-to-goodness belly-laugh.
  5. The taste explosion that happens when I bite into a piece of home made fudge. (Home made, as in made at someone else's home; I make terrible fudge.)
  6. The feel of a hot coffee mug pressed against my forehead when I have a morning sinus headache.
  7. The feel of my toddler's chubby arms around my neck when he hugs me tight, and then the feel of his little hand when he pats my shoulder.
  8. The feel of fine wool roving as I draft and spin it into yarn.
  9. The sight of my 2 year old, last January, as an injection of D-25 turned him a healthy pink almost instantly; and the sound of the E.R. doctors and nurses cheering. (I've never adored the color pink so much so as at that moment.)
  10. The way my hand fits with my husband's hand when we go strolling the neighborhood.
  11. The smell of cinnamon rolls baking on a rainy, chilly day.
  12. The way it feels to swing as high as I can on the city park swings and then lean back so far that my hair drags in the mulch. (I love to do this. I do not love to watch my children do this.)
  13. The sight and smell of my climbing roses every May.

This post is linked to Thursday 13
As always, for Thursday encouragement go to Thankful Thursdays

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Kick the Dog

January 13, 2010 by Rieshy
I don't have a dog, but if I did I would have kicked it yesterday.  It was one of those days.

I woke up late and didn't get to work-out.  Somehow, over the weekend plus Monday my house fell apart.  I have no idea how or even where I was when it happened- I must have been vacationing in Tahiti.  I just wish I could remember Tahiti.

Husband had no socks.  I had no clean dish towels, etc., etc.  The 5 loaf fail-proof bread recipe didn't rise properly, and I realized several things I had promised different people that I would get done- that I had forgotten to do.  Worst of all, I was just plain crabby.

Basically a Fail Day of small fails.

I'm so glad that my resolutions for this year didn't include: working out everyday, being eternally cheerful, keeping a spotless house or being successful with paperwork and promises.  That would have made my Fail Day into a Fail Year.

This morning I started the day with a toddler truncated work-out, smelly shop-vac cleaning out my broken dishwasher, and toasting yesterday's mutant bread.

But... even if I have been up for 3 hours before I remember this verse, it's a wonderful promise:

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

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My Day With Women's Hats

January 11, 2010 by Rieshy
The morning started early with a wandering half-awake toddler.  The house was cold- he was snuggly to hold, better than any blanket. Mommy hat.

Pilates video.  Hopeful-Svelte hat.

Cooking breakfast, cobbler and lunch's later stew.  Chef hat. Happy hat.

Paperwork, arghh.  Grumpy Bookkeeper hat.

School time. Teacher hat. Happy hat.

A child's unfinished work and duties shirked.  Mother hat.

Essay advice for my senior's college application.  Guidance Counselor hat.

Skipping lunch taking cobbler to a young new mom. Blessed hat. Friend hat.  Future Grandma hat.

More school, more business, more house chores, more children's needs.  Teacher/officemanager/housekeeper/mom.  Phew, tired now.

But, the day's not over...

Accompanying a teen with a learner's permit.  Driving Instructor hat.
Laughing with teen while grocery shopping. Family hat. Happy hat.

The evening continues. Event planner, maid, entertainer, policeman, wife, and nurse hats.

It's the end of the day.  My head is buzzing with words, impressions, and disconnected roles.  The older kids are singing/dancing/sassing. Blogging hat.

My husband is shutting down his work.  Hugs and grown-up kisses, time for bed.
No hat. Happy hat.

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Southern Snow Days

January 9, 2010 by Rieshy
Half dressed and hiding.

It's a lot of work assembling this:

When the snow drifts are, ummm... 3 millimeters deep.

Warming up inside; spoon vs. sword vs. broom

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Thirteen Things

January 7, 2010 by Rieshy
The past year has been the most "destructive" of all 22 years of our marriage.  The casualties?  Things.  Thirteen big, and mostly expensive things.

  1. garage fridge
  2. garage door (note, 16 yo driver and the garage door cannot exist in the same place at the same time)
  3. water heater
  4. coffee maker, and wheat grinder
  5. washing machine (Any idea how $$ washing for a family of 9 at the laundromat is?)
  6. front right stove element
  7. kid's P.C. 
  8. toilet (umm, tell your 2 year old not to flush pencils)
  9. vacuum cleaner (What madman thought up wall to wall carpeting?)
  10. leather ottoman
  11. Husband's production laptop (Warning: going through hospital security with your laptop when you are exhausted can cause clumsiness. Those terrazzo floors are very hard.)
  12. 4 car tires (o.k. should have seen that coming, but didn't)
  13. house refrigerator
I had high hopes that 2010 would start us anew.  It did, my dishwasher broke yesterday.  Argghh.

Good news is I have already replaced the dishwasher with LukeGraceSarahBekahBenMom.  The new dishwasher even dries and puts things away immediately- in half the time my old dishwasher took to run.
  • Our family is doing it's American best to end the recession with purchases of durable goods.
  • That fact I have that much stuff to break shows how materially blessed I am.
  • I'm definitely not sitting in the arrogant "catbird seat".
  • All the things that broke are non-sentient. 
The biggest blessing of all is that my family is surrounded by family, friends, and a church community who love us- even if they don't want us to touch anything at their houses.

Check out a new meme I just found: Thursday 13
As always, for Thursday encouragement go to Thankful Thursdays

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The Playful Table... or Weird Family Traditions

January 5, 2010 by Rieshy
I grew up in a playful, usually happy, and always competitive family.  Case in point:

Every night we ate dinner together at the table.  All 6 of us.  Every night, after a dinner full of boisterous conversation, everyone but my father would push back from the table and begin clearing the dishes.  Every night, one member of the family would be designated the losing owner of the "pig plate".

Let me explain, the "pig plate" was the plate onto which the scraps from other family member's plates were scraped.  Nothing more.  It didn't mean you had to do the dishes alone, it didn't mean you had eaten too much or too sloppily.  It just meant that you had lost

"Pig Plate, Pig Plate, Susan has the Pig Plate," is a chant I can still hear being laughingly/teasingly/annoyingly sung on the nights I lost.

Why did we have competitive table clearing? What was so awful about having your empty plate used for clearing? What criterion was used to determine the evening's pig plate owner?

No idea, then or now.  But it was fun, and even my Dad didn't like losing.  

I want my children to grow up in a playful home.  I hope that someday, as adults, they will be working quietly on a mundane task when a stray memory of their growing-up triggers a smile.

Anyone else have weird, playful family traditions?

Steady Mom has a great 30 minute Challenge.  28 minutes for this post- wahoo! Though now that I've gotten in the habit of timing my posts Apron Day beat it by 3 minutes.
Check out Gratituesday for more Tuesday happiness.
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Apron Day

January 4, 2010 by Rieshy
The first day back.  Real life.
Holiday over.

Robe on. Smile.

Awoken by babies who don't dread the day.
Let's play.

Jeans on. Smile

Mind clicking, pancakes flipping.
Teens dozing.

Apron on. Smile.

Table set. Kids bleary, over 3 feet tall
 serve themselves.

Coffee poured. Smile.

Sodium Chloride/Sodium Bicarbonate Nasal rinse in a jar,
Someone mistakes it for syrup.

Head back.  Laugh and Laugh.

Holiday over. Real life.

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January 3, 2010 by Rieshy
A few years ago I met my 5 year old son outside his Sunday School class.  He was walking slowly, looking intently at a class hand-out. "Mom," he asked in a troubled voice, "Which is cooler, who would you want to be?"

In a glance I saw his dilemma.

 On the left side of the hand-out was a picture of a handsome, muscled and caped hero.  The hero was staring bravely into the distance ready to fly off and save someone.  The hero had been circled in pencil but the circle had been erased.

On the right side of the paper stood an anorexic bearded man wearing a dress with a beauty pageant sash- light blue of course.  This fellow was looking down in a wimpy, depressed sort of way.  He appeared ready to hide at the first sign of danger.  He was circled too, but not erased.

Fast forward to yesterday; a slim book surfaced on my desk called "Your God Is Too Small" by J.B. Phillips.  A section entitled, "Unreal Gods: The Meek and Mild" reminded me of the super hero hand-out episode.   In the book Phillips complains that we teach a mild, bloodless Jesus, who is, "a bit of a nonentity"  He writes, "We can hardly be surprised if children feel fairly soon that they have outgrown the "tender shepherd" and find their heros elsewhere."

Back to the hand-out.  What a perfect illustration of Phillips' point.  My son was scandalized when I confessed I'd much rather be the hero with the cape. He admitted that he had gotten the answer wrong too.

Wrong? It was a great opportunity to talk about Christ with the bull whip clearing out the temple, Christ in control of a wild storm at sea.  Christ the super hero who saved all humanity, for all time.  What's cooler than that?
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Frogging, Rip-it, Rip-it

January 1, 2010 by Rieshy
Frogging: the process of unraveling or ripping out a knitting project.

A few years ago I realized that I wasted a lot of time feeling weighed down by various unfinished knitting projects.  I freed all yarn from any project I no longer wanted. It didn't matter how close to finished.  I was ruthless, Mistress of my yarn.

Of course yarn is tricky, it conspired against me.   My spinning guild gave me a gorgeous sheland/angora blend as a baby shower gift.  I spent months spinning it to a perfect lace-weight.  I spent untold hours designing a lace sweater with a complex hand-drawn chart and top down pattern.  I sat by my son's hospital bed knitting swatches during two different crisis.

Can you sense the sentimental background/amunition this yarn began to amass against me?  My life changed with the advent of a son's illness.  I no longer had the same amount of time, or quality of sleep; yet this project  mocked me, depressed me, told me I had failed.  Somehow I lost sight of the fact that knitting is a hobby, i.e. something I do because I enjoy it.

So last night I enlisted a callous hit team of two daughters to frog with me.  Our training mission- an entrelac blanket of lesser emotional baggage.

Languid pose aside...

Look at that grim determination- or possibly boredom.

Today, the first day of the New Year, I will send my hit team, my frog team, after the lace sweater.  Freedom will ring for the shetland/angora handspun yarn.

This year my finished projects may be fewer and simpler, but I will frog back to enjoyment to be Mistress of my yarn once again.
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