Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Breathing

It's the smell I love the most. Spicy cinnamon with a hint of fir and nutmeg and snow all mixed in. And strings of white lights. And nativity scenes. And evergreen. And candles. Happiness.

We are well into the Christmas season around here. Right after Thanksgiving (and by "right after" I mean later in the afternoon when we had finished our feast), I started decorating for Christmas. Now, just for clarity sake, let me state this: I love to decorate for Christmas and generally do start decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving. I started Thanksgiving day itself because we had NO KIDS for Thanksgiving (well, other than my two monkeys), and we were going off duty Sunday night. So in order to ensure it was 100% finished (keeping in mind I'm decorating our little 500 sq ft in addition to our huge cottage) by Sunday, I started Thursday.

It was so much fun to have transformed the cottage before the girls got back from their various visits. The ooohs and aahhhs as they walked in were rather gratifying. And since the Christmas festivities on campus started by December 3, I really had to have everything done by the 1st. Because trying to decorate after the 1st would be a nightmare.

What is the Christmas season like as a houseparent? Busy. I know, I know. Christmas is a busy seasons, yadda yadda yadda. No, you don't understand. Take the already, normally, very busy lives of houseparents, and then add 19 types of parties in the span of 17 days. That kind of busy.

Christmas is the season when everybody wants to reach out and help those less fortunate than themselves. And who better to help than the children at the home? Which is great! But it means we get a rush of activity it is exhausting to keep up with.

It started with a Christmas party on Wednesday of last week. Friday was our open house for the cottage where the kids get to invite people from the community to the house and we get all sorts of visitors for several hours. It's a fun evening and the girls get really good at giving tours of the house and enjoying being hosts. Of course we were off, which meant that we really weren't off because things like that you still go out and do. It's just part of the job...because this isn't just a job. It's a lifestyle and a ministry.

Then Saturday was the beginning of the feast of parties. Two parties actually. Followed by another one on Sunday. Followed by one or two and, I believe three on one day, every day from then until about the 20th. (Yes, they are still in school during all this). One of those parties is a banquet in which the kids do much of the program, so add rehearsals into all that. Oh, and don't forget rehearsals for the church program.

For us houseparents, there is also decorating the campus, and all of our regular paperwork/medical work/newsletters/shopping, etc on top of all the parties. The one major blessing is that many of the evening parties will provide dinner for the children, which gives us a break from cooking (Hallelujah!).It's a never ending stream of celebration and pizza for several weeks. Fabulous and exhausting (and almost guaranteed, I will have one child stay home from school one of these days so tired she needs to sleep all day--I have my bets placed already on which one it will be!).

And then come December 21st it will all STOP. Abruptly. It's like slamming on the breaks of a runaway train. Many if not all of the kids will disperse to various places for the next few days/weeks. The campus will become so quiet. And we settle into the peace of a normal family Christmas (always with open places and hearts for those children who stay with us).

So back to the smell of cloves and cinnamon and spices....I have a basket sitting outside the door to my apartment which is filled to the brim of all good smells Christmasy. And every morning I take moment to just breathe in the smell and remind myself of the whys and wherefores of this season, in order to keep myself from stressing out from the extroversion and never-endingness of the next few weeks, and enable myself to cherish every busy moment as a reminder of peace and love and giving and celebration of the birth of the Baby who changed the world.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Daybook September 23, 2014

Outside my window...fall has come. At least I'm hoping that's what this cooler weather and crispy feeling in the air means. I confess to loving fall. It's a season I didn't have much of growing up, but there's something about this time that I adore. The colors, the cooler air without the bitterness of winter, fall activities, boots! What's not to love?

I am thinking...about babies. No, no. This is not a surreptitious announcement of any sort. But just saw an amazing video on the development of a baby, and have one friend who has had her baby recently, and waiting for an aunt to have hers, and you know...babies. And how precious every life is.

I am thankful for...baby kisses and "Lub you" statements combined with strangling hugs

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...Baby Z is picking up new words every day.

From the kitchen...came chili today. I couldn't help myself. The fall spoke to me.

I am wearing...pajamas and fuzzy socks. Love fuzzy socks. Another plus for fall.

I am creating...preschool plans. This week we're reading Goodnight Moon. An oldie but still a fun one to read. We had a "bowl full of mush" this morning and Blueberry is now learning how to write M.

I am going...walking or running almost every morning. I hate running. But I needed to do something, and at least we have a convenient park across the street to go to. Maybe I'll grow to like it. But for now, it is what it is. 

In my mailbox today.. .was Blueberry's new pedipeds. Her feet suddenly grew a whole size, seemingly overnight. So we had to get some new shoes in a hurry. I'm normally extremely careful about shopping the sales for her shoes because I am picky about the quality, but with that comes a larger price tag. I did my best this time, but shopping in a hurry is never good. Cute shoes though :)

I am reading.. .Gilded by Christina Farley. One of the main things I immediately loved about this book was that it was obviously written by someone who has spent time as a TCK or at least an Expat and has worked or been a student in (worked as it turned out) an international school. She spoke my world. And that was happy.

I am hearing...violin music. There is a fabulous all-classical music station around here, and I keep it playing in the kids room at night as it seems to help them sleep. Everywhere else I've lived, the classical stations only played classical music for some of the time. This one, the only other programming I've heard on it is an Episcopalian church service on Sunday mornings that they play. Good speaker too.

Around the house...I'm pretty pleased with how I've managed to keep up with our personal house this shift (another four weeker). Sometimes things get so busy, keeping our personal apartment clean becomes impossible.Which I hate.

One of my favorite things...did I mention I love fall? Crunchy leaves. The smell of woodburning stoves. Hot chocolate.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
- decorate the cottage for fall
- take my babies for shots (ugh)
- go to some kind of Fall activity this weekend (apple picking; corn maze; fall festival--still deciding)
- Skype my parents before they die from lack of contact with their grandbabies 

Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...





 
My newest hobby: learning to do my twin's hair well. Tired of not being able to help. This was my first attempt. Have conquered the cornrow. Well, started on it, any ways. Been fun if challenging. It just takes soooooo long.

Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"When you are not feeling particularly friendly…put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are."
~A Year with C. S. Lewis

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Mommy's Prayer

Dear Lord,

Help me to see the world as my children do. Remind me of the wonder and excitement of the small things, the importance of the insignificant, the agony of minor wounds, and the joys found in day to day events.

Forgive me for my moments of impatience and irritation. Help me find the extra burst of energy when I'm being called upon, yet again, when I'm already tired and ready for a rest. Grant me an double dose of patience when I'm on the verge of melting down myself.

Lend me a glimpse through your eyes and the understanding of your ears in seeing my kids and hearing their words.

Amen

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Daybook 07.15.14 - Tuesday

Outside my window...the sunshine is shining beautifully without being to miserably hot. Just the we like it best.....Since I wrote the above, we clouded over, the heavens opened up, and now it's bucketing down with rain. But I see sunshine in the horizon, so we should be dry soon.

I am thinking...about how quickly this summer is going. We still have a month before school starts, but realistically, time is slipping away quickly and it's going to be over before we now it!

I am thankful for...moments of down time...sweet, blissful silence during the day.


From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...Baby Z is exploding his language. In the past week, he has begun to copy all sorts of things that he hears. "Ba-Be" is a current favorite phrase (baby), but he really has taken off. So much fun to see.

From the kitchen...Roast chicken satay. I've discovered that cooking a roast chicken with satay sauce is delicious; and makes all my children very happy.

I am wearing...sandals, a skirt, a nursing top.


I am going...to have the girls pick out new backpacks soon--Baby Z and Blueberry included. A generous couple who is a sponsor for our cottage just sent us instructions regarding ordering beautiful new bags for all the girls for school. They're all excited.

In my mailbox today.. .a letter for Blueberry from her Nana and Papa. Always full of interesting objects.

I am reading.. .Kes, by Robin McKinley. I've been not reading blogs lately, but I had to catch up on her weekly serial on her blog. So good!!


I am hearing...a very kind teenager weed-whacking around our house. Blessings on groups who come and help out at the home. Such small acts add up into freedom for us to focus on the key portion of our job--the children--rather than the house maintenance that can take up so much time.

Around the house...change has come again. We came back on duty last week. One child we thought was returning did not. And so we were down to six. And then we added another child yesterday, bringing us back up to seven. The crew we have right now is fantastic and has been so much fun the last few weeks.

One of my favorite things...Cow Appreciation Day at Chic-fil-A. So much fun! And as it fell on 7/11 this year, we all went and got icees from the nearby 7/11. Free food day. What's there to not love?

A few plans for the rest of the week: 
  • going to the Lake
  • going to a park with splash park and mini golf and animals and hunting for gems
  • board games 
  • movies
  • laughter
  • pizza

Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...

Ballerina Blueberry

Cow Appreciation Day

How to Feed a Family of Ten for Free--Dress them like cows!






Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.


 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

On Myers-Brigg and Other Random Topics

In the spirit of self-analysis and living ontologically, I recently took the Myers-Brigg personality test (well a shortened version of it) again, and wound up as ISFJ barely. It was really 50/50 on the N/S front. I've taken the full blown test before when I was about 18 and INFJ was my results then, and I find it interesting how true this test remains over the years

Here were my actual results from this particular version:

ISFJ  - Introvert(89%)  Sensing(1%)  Feeling(12%)  Judging(56%)
  • You have strong preference of Introversion over Extraversion (89%)  
  • You have marginal or no preference of Sensing over Intuition (1%)
  • You have slight preference of Feeling over Thinking (12%)
  • You have moderate preference of Judging over Perceiving (56%)

This first descriptor is identified as the baseline for ISFJ:
"ISFJs are characterized above all by their desire to serve others, their 'need to be needed.'" 

This does not resonate properly with me. I cannot identify this "desire to serve others, their 'need to be needed'" as the foundational characteristic of my life.

However, regarding the work life of an ISFJ made me nod my head in agreement:
"...ISFJs....are notoriously bad at delegating ("If you want it done right, do it yourself"). And although they're hurt by being treated like doormats, they are often unwilling to toot their own horns about their accomplishments because they feel that although they deserve more credit than they're getting, it's somehow wrong to want any sort of reward for doing work (which is supposed to be a virtue in itself)."  I've so been there multiple times in my work experiences!

And this part just made me chuckle:
"One ISFJ trait that is easily misunderstood by those who haven't known them long is that they are often unable to either hide or articulate any distress they may be feeling. For instance, an ISFJ child may be reproved for "sulking," the actual cause of which is a combination of physical illness plus misguided "good manners." An adult ISFJ may drive a (later ashamed) friend or SO into a fit of temper over the ISFJ's unexplained moodiness, only afterwards to explain about a death in the family they "didn't want to burden anyone with." Those close to ISFJs should learn to watch for the warning signs in these situations and take the initiative themselves to uncover the problem."

 I admit, and it's sometimes gotten me in trouble over the years, that I am useless at hiding my emotional state. And then explaining what's going on--that takes so much courage on my part, I can barely express here what that step does to me. The mental and emotionally agony I can go through at times on whether or not to bare my soul to someone; it's exhausting!

It's not that I don't want to share or that I don't want to receive help or comfort. I do. And for those who know me well enough to ask or question me, I can express better--although completely expressing my thoughts rarely happens.

Fictional ISFJs:

Bianca in Taming of the Shrew
David Copperfield
Hero in Much Ado About Nothing
Melanie in Gone With The Wind
Ophelia in Hamlet

When it came to the list of fictional famous ISFJs, though, that's where I really had to shake my head simply because of the list, these are all characters who I dislike or don't understand, mainly because of the servitude attitude that goes with these characters and irritates me! Get a backbone and stop letting the world either deceive you or use you.

So despite the test results of that particular version, I tend to believe in my previously tested results of INFJ.

Here are some highlights and personal commentary on that particular description.
  • Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. INFJs have a knack for fluency in language and facility in communication. In addition, nonverbal sensitivity enables the INFJ to know and be known by others intimately. Can I be so crass as to simply say, "duh"?
  • they often possess a strong personal charisma,and are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. and houseparenting apparently! Actually, the more I read about good job choices and the characteristics of this kind of personality, the  more I realize I'm in the right kind of job for me--despite the extroverted side of it all.
  • idealists   I find myself less idealistic about other's behaviors and actions than I am of myself. I am absolutely my own worst critic.
  • preference for closure and completion - generally "doers" (who take on too much responsibility) as well as dreamers I cannot explain how much I hate leaving things left undone. But then with the "doing" part, I tend to take on to much at times to get everything undone. But the undone things niggle at my brain until I accomplish them. I play a online game with my husband where one person can concede defeat to the other when they realize they are going to die. And it irritates me so much when I cannot take those final few moves to win the game, and the other person just concedes and finishes. Oh the agony.
  • deeply concerned about relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large with deep convictions held about the weightier matters of life and if activities.  Always. I hate the idea of being on the outs with people. That gives me so much mental and emotional anguish; sometimes even years after things have changed and time has passed. BUT the following is also true "The concept of 'poetic justice' is appealing to the INFJ."   Which is ironic because while I hold concern about the relationship; I also hate injustice in relationships or in life, and that also drives me crazy.
  • Though affable and sympathetic to most, INFJs are selective about their friends. Such a friendship is a symbiotic bond that transcends mere words. They are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few individuals.  This is so foundational to my existence. In the previous idea of being concerned about others, etc, I desperately want to have good relationships with everyone I'm around--in almost a ridiculous, idealistic way. BUT, in reality, I have a small inner sanctum of people who get to know the real me. And even of that inner sanctum, only a few truly know all of the real me. And those who are in that sanctum, I maintain friendships with for years--despite time and distance and even lack of communication at times.
  • at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." Oh yes, when I hit overload, I have to shut down. Have to. Fortunately, my husband gets this and has built in time in our lives and our crazy job that allows me time to be withdrawn and by myself. I honestly don't know if I would survive as a houseparent if he wasn't so good about providing those opportunities for me. And, fortunately, he knows me well enough that I don't always have to ask for those breaks; because if I did, I'd be in trouble. Because I'm supposed to be perfect and capable of going on and on and on like an energizer bunny, no matter how depleted I may be. Right?
  • INFJs readily grasp the hidden psychological stimuli behind the more observable dynamics of behavior and affect. Their amazing ability to clearly deduce the inner workings of the mind, will and emotions of others gives INFJs their reputation as prophets and seers. Not perfection insight, for sure, but I do see things frequently enough that prove to be true that I've learned to trust myself more in this area.
  • This empathy can be strong enough to cause discomfort or pain in negative or stressful situations. Yes. I literally get physically ill in certain situations. I've had enough experience in this to dread that emotional state. 
  • extreme inner conflicts are also not uncommon--"tug-of-war" between NF vision and idealism and the J practicality that urges compromise for the sake of achieving the highest priority goals.  And this. See, right here, this is one of those areas that even in writing, I'm finding it difficult to "articulate their deepest and most convoluted feelings." Seriously, I'm sitting here with so much to say on these two points, but completely trapped in my own brain on how to express these thoughts. So I shall end here and contemplate my inner INFJ in secluded silence.

  • To read for yourself or take your own quiz:  http://www.humanmetrics.com/personality/INFJ

    This is a graph identifying how frequently different personalities show up in society. INFJ is about 1% of the population. I'm in a small crowd. How apropos. http://www.mypersonality.info/personality-types/population-gender/

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Daybook - July 9, 2014

Outside my window...the sun is glaring down and the humidity is rising. Looks like we're due for our weekly cooldown storm--or at least it seems to go this way--build up of heat and then a storm to cool it down nicely for a day or two. I hope this pattern continues.

I am thinking...about what to do with my wedding dress which is currently residing in a box under my bed. I'm about 90% determined to donate it to Angel Gowns. I feel like it gives my dress some purpose and also honors my own angel. Now just to decide when.

I am thankful for...my life as it is. My crazy, busy, challenging, silly, purpose-filled life.

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...

  • Baby Z has distinctly mastered the word, definition, and all nuances thereof: "No!"  Also, a very clear statement of "All done."
  • Blueberry is taking her first non-Mommy taught ballet class this week. I will admit. I teared up a little.

From the kitchen...I just tried a new chicken recipe (thanks mom-in-law!): Sweet Garlic Chicken. Very tasty. Olive oil, garlic, and brown sugar over baked chicken. Yum. Thumbs up from the girls.

I am wearing...a green skirt, tan shirt, with my favorite airplane necklace--a gift from my wanderlusting baby sis.

I am creating...cow costumes. Because it's that special time of year--get a free meal from Chic-fil-a if you dress like a cow. Love it! Nothing like forcing tweens out of their comfort zones by the lure of free food. And I don't have to cook. Even better.

I am going...back and forth a lot lately. The studio is about 10 minutes drive from our house, and as we're working this week, Blueberry doing a class every morning has required some finagling. But it is well worth it.

In my mailbox today.. .a paperbackswap book. Love that program. According to their records I've saved over $211 in books over the last few years. And I'll believe it. I've compared prices with trading books in book stores, but generally this is a better deal.

I am reading.. . all my blogs I enjoy. I've been behind for awhile--slowly catching up again. Found this link via Simple Mom. Fascinating insight into travel; a perspective I've never really ever considered before.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/30/passports-map_n_5536914.html

I am hoping...to buy plane tickets soon. Important plane tickets. Plane tickets that allow me to go home for the first time in depressingly too long. Just looking for the right price! Thailand--here we come!

I am hearing...Doctor Who playing. Turning our girls into nerds, one step a time, lol.


One of my favorite things...my new kindle! My old one was beginning to give me fits, so my Christmas present has come early this year (along with a substantial amount of my allowance the next few months lol). The updates they've done are substantial compared to the original kindle I have. Loving my  new toy!

A few plans for the rest of the week: 
  • roller skating
  • free summer movie
  • farmer's market on Saturday
  • Dress like a cow day at Chic-fil-A
  • church
  • possible library trip this week--we'll see how the books are coming
  • and the usual playing in sprinklers, video games, art projects, reading, writing, teasing, laughing, cooking, board games, devotions, and living

Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...

 What happens when daddy goes shopping with the kidlets.






Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Thankfullness - 1000 Gifts July I

Apparently I wasn't very thankful for May or June. Not really, just so busy, writing at all was barely happening.

1. 3 Gifts Loved -
  • A flower given in a farmer's market to brighten my little girl's day.
  • Time to walk in the cool of the morning and seek some peace in the start of my day
  • A sleep in morning and a rested day

2. 3 Gifts Read -
  • A note from far away grandparents expressing love and wishes.
  • Encouragement found in the words of praise from a gracious boss and leader.
  • "Those who know your name trust in you,
        for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." Psalm 9:10

3. A Gift in Faith, Family, Freedom -
  • Thankful for the ability to worship openly with my family, to teach my children the love of Christ with no fear for of repercussions.

4. A Gift in Red, White, and Blue


5. 3 Gifts of Persistance
  • The girl who was frightened of swimming now jumping in and refusing help in swimming.
  • A child who was losing her voice in fear and anger beginning to speak up instead of run and hide.
  • A little voice who demands attention and love and kisses--precious moments I'm glad were not lost.

6. 3 Gifts of Enthusiasm
  • The man I love who runs and jumps and plays and swims with the children in our lives.
  • The cheer of a 3 year old on accomplishing her goals
  • Arms thrown around you in a hug of joy


Thursday, July 3, 2014

"The Introverted are the people who live in the constant tension between the desire to communicate… and the desire to hide." 

Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

Friday, April 11, 2014

7 Quick Takes (vol. 34)


#1 - I am coming to the end of a much needed week of rest combined with successful completion of various jobs. We worked for four weeks prior to this week, so essentially most of March, and it was a very busy time. Being off my feet and focusing entirely on my home and family has been much needed.

*****************
#2 - One of the busy parts of the last month was preparing the cottage for a state inspection. We scrubbed and cleaned and examined parts of the cottage that have not been cleaned since I don't know when. True Spring cleaning. I am pleased to report that the inspector came on Tuesday and we passed very well. Such a relief. I feel one of the hard parts of Houseparenting for me is how much our actions, from house keeping to parenting, are always under inspection. It is nice to have praise and not being put down. It's far too easy for others to second-guess our actions, not having a full view of the day to day workings of this compilation of personalities and needs.

*****************
#3 - In anticipating this week, Blueberry was making all sorts of plans. These included going to the bookstore to buy a new Clifford book, going out with Daddy on a date, buying a live animal, playing in the gym, etc. While the live animal has not happened, it was our pleasure to fulfill many of these wishes for her. After all, we refer to these weeks as our "fun weeks" and I am pleased that she embraces that idea. So often, depending on the season, her specific desires may or may not be fulfilled while we are working, so for her to know that she has these weeks to count on, is important. Tricky balance between not spoiling and providing fulfillment, but I think we are finding our way through that treacherous path pretty well.

*****************

#4 - As I type this, I'm also watching Pride and Prejudice. It's been quite awhile since I've sat and watched this film through, and I am happy that it still is as satisfying to watch as ever. There is such grace and decorum in the expectations of that day. I sometimes wish I could pull more of those things into our lives today, as opposed to the flagrant disregard for boundaries and moral behavior so often seen today. Mind you, I type that and then look at the dresses they wear. Ankles be covered but bosoms fly free. I guess it's all really relative.

*****************

#5 - I'm enjoying an evening of quiet solitude. Blueberry and Z are both asleep in bed and Chris is off at a hockey game with the boy's cottage. Such evenings are rarely come by for me, and I'm treasuring the solitude.

*****************

#6 - I am counting down days until my parents arrive. 24 to be precise. They will truly fly by as 3 of them are our last days off this week, followed by three weeks of work. One of these weeks is a campus, week-long trip to Myrtle Beach. Am so looking forward to seeing the ocean, I can barely begin to explain it.

*****************

#7 - One of the major projects I had to get done this week was to complete our taxes. Miserable business as always, but more so than usual as I have three separate states taxes to complete! So glad that's over with. And our refund should help pay off our new roof on our house in Springfield. Praise the Lord for that blessing!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thankfullness - 1000 Gifts March II

16. 3 Hard Eucharisteos
  • Having parents who are missionaries--living across the world, so far away--and yet doing as they are called by the Lord.
  • Having given up living near family, following the pattern of most of my life, in order to follow in obedience to the Lord. Working a job that is a ministry and a gift.
  • The pangs of labor, resulting in a gift from the Lord.

17.  A Gift Turned, Folded, Hung
  • Turned: the three year old who, storming away from me in an angry fit at being told no, stops, turns of her own decision, and returns to me to me to "talk about it"
  • Folded:
  • Hung: two gorgeous skirts, free of cost, exactly the style I've been wanting
18. 3 Gifts Red
  • Roses, given by my love, in full bloom full of sweetness and promise.
  • Crisp apples, sweet and tasty
  • A velvety Christmas dress, hanging in the wardrobe, waiting for the next time of celebration.
 19.  3 Gifts Eaten
  • fresh baked bread with honey on top
  • granola and yoghurt first thing in the  morning
  • roast chicken that stretches into a meal of chicken tacos and then stretches further into chicken veggie soup
20. 3 Gifts That Make You Laugh
  • Baby Q leaning forward to give a slobbery, wet, open-mouth kiss
  • Silly girls all talking at once to share a story about school, running into each other with their words and giggling over nothing in the end
  • My Blueberry informing me we are playing "I'm the mommy doggy, doggy is the baby doggy, and you're the grandma doggy. Daddy can be grandpa."
21. A Gift Salty, Sweet, Just Right
  • Salty caramel chocolate
22. 3 Gifts Found in His Word
  • Hope
  • A Future
  • Savior
23.  3 Gifts found in Women Today
  • Motherhood - a continuation of the role from the beginning of time
  • Compassion for others
  • Leadership in the church--mentoring to other women. 
24.  3 Gifts Spoken
  • "I love you"
  • An encouraging phone call on a tired day.
  • "You're beautiful."
25. A Gift Sung, Written, Painted
  • "Let it Go" sung by a goat. Because it made me laugh.
  • Madeline L'Engle - Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art  Such a continual source of inspiration--both spiritually and in my arts.
  • Rainbow colors of a freshly painted picture by my three year old.
26. 3 Gifts Almost Gone
  • A plate of sticky rice and somtam. A taste of home.
  • Another month in 2014. So quickly they pass, so precious each day, even the ones that seem to drag on.
  • A TV show that has made me laugh and given me times of distance from sometimes stressful days.
27. 3 Gifts Redeemed
  • My parents, missionaries to a nation in desperate need of a Savior.
  • My brother and his wife--serving those who are so often considered lesser.
  • My sister and her husband--teaching children; reaching out to friends; love and laughter.
 28. 3 Gifts Entwined
  • baby arms and mommy arms--held together
  • Hands with my husband, sleeping in the night.
  • Matching mommy and toddler toes, rosy red, bonded in paint.
 29. 3 Gifts of His Promise
  • A future in heaven
  • Purification, even from the times I just flat out fail.
  • "I have called you friends" John 15:15
30. 3 Gifts Uncovered
  • Baby toes wiggling in the grass
  • Lost socks buried underneath a bookshelf when we need more socks or be forced to buy more.
  • Toes, free in sandals, rejoicing in heat after the cold of bitter winter.
31. A gift heard, held, hoped
  • A longed for baby cry in the dark, arms wrapped around my neck for comfort and love.

    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    Announcement

    As of today, all references to Baby Q will now be Z. Because really that's what I use as his written nickname more than anything else any ways, and he's growing up so quickly, Z will be easier to refer to. Just an FYI for those who are confused as to where this new child suddenly sprang from.

    Saturday, March 29, 2014

    Daybook - March 29, 2014

    Outside my window...rain just started bucketing down. It's been raining off and on all day, but this still took me a little bit by surprise. I've found rain tends to be very fierce around here at times.

    I am thinking...all my girls (and my one little boy) tucked in their beds and saying a prayer for each of them tonight.

    I am thankful for...a compliment we received a few days ago from a mom of one of our cottage girls. She was commenting about how much she wants her daughter to be here because of the marked changes she has seen in her in just two months. That was encouragement I needed after a rough few weeks.

    I am also thankful for how generously my children are included in all the activities of this campus. That is not always the case at children's homes, and the staff children sometimes get ignored and left out. Not here--not by a long shot. I cannot begin to express how much that means to me.

    From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...for Blueberry, she just continues to constantly grow in her vocabulary and understanding of things. We had to get on to some of the older girls the other day for talking in front of her about her like she wouldn't understand!

    For Baby Q, he's added please to his repertoire of sign language and the work "ook" (look) is his favorite one to use...all day long. "Ook" at the tree. "Ook" at the birds. "Ook" at my big sister. "Ook at the rice you're cooking and not yet feeding me (followed by a tantrum to get some rice.).

    From the kitchen...came a blessedly easy day for me. Cereal for breakfast. Lunch provided by a group who came to tour and hang out with the kids. Dinner for most of the girls provided by one of their mom's. Whenever they come to visit, they tend to bring huge dishes of African food that we freeze and eat up slowly (well, the girls who like it eat it up). Which simplifies cooking for me as that's about half the cottage taken care of for at least one or two meals when we do those!

    I am wearing...pajamas--because it's that time of night folks.

    I am creating...plans on sleeping some day for a whole six or seven hours in a row. Perhaps just wishful thinking. We were doing good until Baby Q got sick and then he decided to add to his already copious amounts of teeth for a 13 month old (seriously, the kid has 10 or 11 teeth already and he's working on another 3 or 4--he's only 13 months old. What possessed him to think he needs that many teeth!!!?).

    I am going...to church tomorrow. At least I hope I am (praying against any sickness falling on anyone else despite some warning signs--see my "I am hearing" post).

    In my mailbox today.. .nothing I'm assuming, as the mailman doesn't deliver to us on Saturdays. However, I did receive a much wanted package the other day full of leggings for Blueberry to put under her skirts and dresses. Very happy with these. Not the long leggings that will make her hot in the summer, but not the short skimpy shorts either. These come just above her knees and will make this whole learning-to-tumble-playing-outside-with-boys business a lot better.

    I am reading.. .Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card. Book three in the Bean saga which follows Ender's Game. Such good writing.

    I am hearing...coughing from various people including me. Praying it doesn't worsen for anyone else. Blueberry had a fever last weekend (and severe cough) followed by Baby Q followed by me. Not fun.

    Around the house...I've done pretty well with keeping up with our personal apartment these last few weeks, but it's definitely needing a good clean/tidy. And I have to get the bills and TAXES done. Yuck. Things to look forward to on my week off--not.

    One of my favorite things...watching my daughter blossom socially. Today she made friends with a five year old and I had to laugh as they carefully sat and painted each other's nails. Too cute for words.

    A few plans for the rest of the week: survive. We are heading into our last week of a four week shift. I'm tired. Lots of events have happened. Lots of people taking trips. Lots of changes. And the state inspector is coming week after next so we're all double checking that we have everything in order for that--which of course is a lot of extra work.

    Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...

    Squirrel whom we discovered eating a nut while sitting directly outside the kitchen window. Completely ignoring the fact that 11 people were all fascinatedly staring at him eat his dinner. Baby Q was mesmerized. Such cute!


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    Sunday, March 16, 2014

    Thankfulness: 1000 Gifts - March

    1. 3 Gifts at 3pm:
    • a slumbering child
    • a six year old learning to talk and share her thoughts and needs instead of just wailing at shutting down
    • sorting household supplies and finding free Puffs tissues (because I'm a tissue snob but I'm also cheap--so getting my soft tissues for free makes my day a little brighter)
    2.  3 Gifts Green:
    • asparagus, because really lightly sautéed asparagus is one of the natural wonders of this world
    •  a new-to-us raincoat of mint for my Blueberry who loves to jump in the puddles in the rain
    • Wild onions releasing their scent to the air, promising spring is coming
    3.  3 Gifts Hard to Give Thanks For:
    • Nursing moments at 1am--because even though I'm tired and I don't want to be awake, feeling soft chubby arms clinging to my neck makes it all better. 
    • My former place of employment. I might not be a houseparent now if I hadn't started out there, and even though I don't want to go back, I have to be grateful for the opening to this pathway we are now on.
    • My snoring husband--because even though it's an annoying sound at times, I have a great man in my life who chooses to sleep next to me every night because that's where he wants to be
    4.  3 Gifts Wore:
    • a sparkling ring on my finger that even after 13 years of use still brings a smile to my face
    • Comfy shoes that don't leave my feet aching at the end of a busy day
    • earrings--because every time I put them on, I can't help but remember a gracious boss who gave me money for my birthday one year with strict instructions that I had to spend it on something completely frivolous and entirely for me. As we were newlyweds and definitely not making much, she allowed me to do something I had wanted to do for many years and not feel guilty for spending money on such a frivolity  
    5. 3 Gifts Found:
    • a second toddler shoe hiding underneath a chair so that she could quickly go out and play
    • a voice message from a friend for no other reason than that she cared
    • blueberries, hiding in a grocery bag, because my husband knew they would make me happy
    6. A Gift Bent, Broken, Beautiful
    • a poorly folded piece of paper, handed to me by my daughter, with scribbles and wrinkles and dots and lines all mixed up together to tell me a “story” of love
    7. 3 Gifts in the Kitchen
    • a full refrigerator on a slim budget
    • black and white aprons and mini-girl aprons too
    • hot and toast bread fresh out of the oven, ready to be smeared with honey  and devoured
    8. 3 Gifts Loud
    • a houseful of rambunctious girls, all wanting to talk to me at once 
    • shrieks of laughter from the playground 
    • a chattering voice of a 3 year old who truly wants to share every thought with me—all day long
    9. 3 Gifts Carved
    • a 30 minute nap for me, wrapped in love, carved out by my husband
    • my Cradle to the Cross wreath
    • 5 minutes of solitude and peace and a prayer breathed, carved from a busy dinner hour
    10. 3 Gifts in Christ
    • forgiveness 
    • hope 
    •  future
    11. 3 Gifts Read
    • a birthday card from loving grandparents far away 
    • a note with a thank you in it from a girl often trying and proud 
    • blog posts showing the walk in Christ of a new believer, a beloved author
    12. A Gift in Wind, in Water, in White
    • wind: The awe inspiring roar that swooped around the cottage this evening, blowing in a storm in the brilliance of sunshine 
    • water: the cleansing taste of my favorite drink 
    • white: memories of a winter’s day of snow dogs and snow angels and snow ball fights on a three year old level
    13. 3 Gifts Round
    • blueberry goodness to burst in my mouth
    • full little baby bellies, today full with blueberries (apparently he's thankful for them as well)
    • the succulent look of a bottle of Kombucha ready to be savored. 
    14. 3 Gifts Found in Silence
    •  sleeping babies, sleeping husband, sleeping children....time to stretch and contemplate and pray without distraction.
    • breathing time, concentration on the act of slowing down, resting in the peace
    • bird song heard across the expanse of lawn
     15. 3 Gifts Given Away
    •  a hug at 2am to help a bad dream
    • time from a friend who was willing to put off her shopping trip so we could talk
    • a quick prayer in a time of stress