Monday, July 29, 2013

A Few Random Things to Limp the Blog Along Another Day

 Meet Marvin. 

In an effort to fight off the malaise and blues that have been hanging around the past few weeks, I decided to try my hand at sourdough again. I’ve had marginal success in the past, mostly because I end up losing interest and letting the starter die eventually, truth be told. But I’m trying it again. Only I cheated. I used yeast this time. Also, after tearing up my kitchen and pantry looking in vain for the glass jar I usually use, I have come to the conclusion that I short-sightedly decided it was one of the items we could live without while we downsized to the apartment for the year. So, I read somewhere in a comment thread while I was searching for what can be used as a starter container that someone somewhere used a gallon ziplock bag, and upon realizing the plastic jar I had that I had planned to use is actually too small, I decided to try the ziplock bag route. It works for Amish Friendship Bread, so maybe it will work with sourdough starter, too. We shall see. 

I’m also attempting something else culinary today. I stumbled across a recipe for cinnamon almonds made in the crock pot. If this works well, it will be like those yummy crunchy coated nuts you buy at places like Disney World that my husband and I just really like. I hope they turn out well, because if they do I can send some in a care package to my husband at Army school.  Again, we shall see. Meanwhile, I’m stirring them every 20 minutes, and they smell super good.

Anyway, that’s what my oh-so-domestic self is doing on this lovely Monday. 

In other random foodish news, I bought myself some flavored green tea because I read somewhere that it can help with weight loss. I don't actually love green tea, but I'm trying it. Gotta get over this hurdle of the stalled scale. I'm also trying to exercise more, and the lovely cool weather we've been having the past week has helped me want to get out and get moving. It's helped with mood elevation too. It feels almost like Fall. In July. If this is global warming, I'm not complaining. ;-) 

In other random randomness news, the kids are gearing up for back to school, and in some ways I'm ready, in some not really. For my high school boy (slight pause while I hyperventilate) school has pretty much almost already begun, as he's been having all-day marching band practices for two weeks now, and he goes tonight from 4-9. Band pretty much takes over our schedule from here on out until after October. We like it mostly. I'm attempting to be a more involved band parent  this year. It's the right thing to do and I need the camaraderie. And he'll actually be a high schooler this year. That's almost painful to say, and even harder to wrap my brain around. In only 4 more years he'll be graduating, y'all. And the others are speeding right along behind him. Urp. My middle boy is playing the trombone and taking drum lessons every week, so it looks like band will be in my extended future for a while. My daughter recently informed me, while listening to The King's Brass in the car, that she wants to play the tuba some day. I can totally see it. Of course, her seven-year-old reasoning is that her oldest brother plays the trumpet, her middle brother plays the trombone, so it's only logical she should play a brass instrument starting with 't' also. Sound reasoning, I suppose.

One cool thing about the kids getting older is the incredibly cool conversations we get to have. And the questions, oh wowza. I thought the 'why' phase in toddlerhood was challenging. The 'whys' and 'hows' get a lot more complex when they hit the teenage years. But it keeps me thinking, that's for sure. One really encouraging thing is when one of them asks a spiritual kind of question and you tell them about a biblical passage that will answer that, and you discover him later pouring over his Bible to check it out for himself. That is very cool. 

And that's about all I've got for this Monday post. 

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Favorites on Friday

A few simple joys:

A cool morning with windows open. It’s hard to feel melancholy on a day crisp and cool enough to have the windows open. Listening to the birds singing is just cheerful and the kind of music that brings a kind of peace to the heart, unlike booming bass for hours which makes you feel anxious. There’s something so calming about the fresh air feeling in the house when the windows are thrown open as you listen to the birds sing that makes laundry and morning chores enjoyable. It kind of has that early Fall feeling today, and that’s one of my very favorite things. I know it’s only July and this is a fluky day weather-wise, but I’m taking advantage of it while it’s here.

Tea....iced or hot, sweet or not, I like tea. Making a pitcher of sweet tea right now. Another favorite simple treat is a large unsweet peach tea from Sonic. 

Having a friend over for a play date for my youngest child. I like hearing them enjoying each other’s company. 

Bible and prayer time in the morning, and even more so when the windows are open and the birds are chirping.

Good books to read, fiction and nonfiction. There is need for and joy in both. Reading is one of life’s sweet pleasures, and I’m thankful for it. Saw this quote the other day: “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” - Mark Twain

The desire to write. I don’t so much enjoy having to gin up that desire, but once the words and ideas start flowing, it’s sweet. Plan to work on my project today.

The feeling after I’ve exercised hard. Again, not so much the enormous amount of willpower it takes to overcome my inertia and get moving, but that exhilarating feeling when I’ve pushed past the overwhelming inertia and really worked hard and sweated is great.


Happy Friday, Y’all.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Time Well Spent

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

I needed to clean the bathrooms yesterday. What I did instead was run errands and then work on a craft my daughter had been wanting to try. She had been asking for the past several days, and I had asked her to wait until I could get the supplies we needed, which was why we went on the errands yesterday morning. She had been so patient, I just didn’t think I should put her off again. So, we tried to make this cute little dolphin craft thing she saw in her Highlights magazine. My daughter was blessed with a not-very-crafty person for a mother. Let’s be honest, I actually would rather clean bathrooms than to do crafts from Highlights magazine. There’s a reason I avoid the Pinterest website like it’s a zombie infected wasteland. 

Our effort resulted in a rather pathetic end-product, but a satisfied seven-year-old because her mom sat down and spent the time with her and tried it, and we had fun together and made a good memory. That was time well-spent, even if the bathrooms had to wait another day. For a little perspective, those bathrooms get cleaned, on average, twice a week at least, so it’s not like we were teetering on the edge of toxicity yesterday or anything. 

I read this blog post from Ligonier Ministries yesterday about some parenting dangers to avoid, and I appreciate it. I want to be ever mindful of gospel-centered thinking in our home, and to remember that more than anything we need to be modeling grace for our children and pointing them to Jesus. I’ve been thinking some about what it means to frustrate, exasperate, or provoke our children to anger. I know the specific instruction is to fathers, but I believe it is for both parents to heed because we are complementary partners in the calling of parenthood. My husband bears the responsibility as the head of our home, and I have a calling to love my husband and children and therefore not exasperate my kids either.  In the situation we find ourselves for the next year, my husband is away a lot for work, and he trusts me to keep the day-to-day things running smoothly at home so he can do the work he does to provide for our family. One way I honor him and live as the helpmate I’m called to be is to join with him in raising the children in the nurture and training of the Lord, and an important part of that is learning what it means not to exasperate and frustrate them wrongly.

I’ve noticed that one way I am prone to exasperating my kids is in being always busy (or worse, not so much busy but not wanting to be bothered, and I hate admitting that) and telling them, “Wait,” “Not now,” “Later,” when often putting them off with later ends up being ‘never’ if I’m not careful. Don’t get me wrong, my kids need to learn to wait, and they need to learn that it’s not all about them and I don’t exist to answer their every whim at the moment they want it done. There’s a balance to life in the family. We are the parents, and the kids do not run the home. They do need to learn to wait and not demand things of us. But always being put off by a busy mom who doesn’t value their interests can exasperate them, too, if they are made to feel unimportant or that they don’t matter. I’m also not saying we don’t ever need to ask them to wait while we get the necessary chores done. Kids need a clean and sanitary home, too. If I don’t eventually get those bathrooms clean, I’ll be exasperating them in another way. Keep it in perspective here, as I said before, it’s not like we were filthy, just needing to be done soon. Sometimes the everyday chore here and there can be put off for a bit to make room for time spent to love a child who needs it.

Teaching the kids to wait is another side of that balance. I think another way to exasperate a child is to never have order or discipline - flying by the seat of our pants, lack of order in the home, bathrooms that are never cleaned, rooms that are constantly chaotic, jumping whenever the kid whines and never training them to respect others will also exasperate them and everyone else who spends time with them. It’s good to teach kids that we do our work first, then play. I just have a hard time remembering to stop and play sometimes. Do kids need to be told to wait and to learn that sometimes we must get our things done first? Of course they do. But here’s an example from my own life. I may spend most of the day putting my daughter off so I can get done what I need to, then, finally, after I’ve pushed it pretty far into the evening finally sit down and start to read to her when the phone rings. And it’s someone I really need to talk to, so I ask her again to wait. And by then, she’s frustrated. The person on the other end of the phone hears a whiny kid who doesn’t want her mom on the phone at that moment. I feel guilty because I’ve put her off all day, and just when I was ready to finally say, “Yes,” rather than, “Wait,” I’m telling her to wait again. So, I understand the frustration. Not that it excuses the whining, but I can’t say I don’t bear some of the blame, either. If I’m ALWAYS too busy, then, well, I’m too busy. Some things can wait.

So, I’m not advocating letting the chores go and letting the children set the agenda. I’m also reminding myself that I need to watch how often I’m putting the kids off for things that I could maybe rearrange and do after what they need from me. Kids need order, and they need parents to be PARENTS, and sometimes that does mean they must wait. And for my part, I need to balance how that looks on a day-to-day basis, letting them know I love them and value them and want to spend real time with them, even if that means doing a craft I don’t enjoy or talking Legos with a boy who really likes Legos or explaining politics to a kid who has lots of questions when all I want to do is sit down and read a book and not think about solving the problems of the world. 

And, honestly,the actual chores that need to be done end up taking a lot shorter time in this new place now that we’ve downsized - I can clean the bathrooms and vacuum the whole place in about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, tops. Especially if I put the three kids to work and we all do our part. 

And as for those bathrooms? Got ‘em done this morning. 

Monday, July 01, 2013

Status Update - July 2013 my new dining room/computer area, which is basically one with my new living room area, too. I think I mentioned that we are in the process of selling our house and have moved into an apartment for the next year. 

Drinking....chocolate mocha coffee with fat free hazelnut creamer. Needed a little caffeine coffee break this afternoon.

Feeling.....a mixture of things....tired, thankful, a little melancholy, a little frustrated - though I think the reason for that may be on the way toward being mended hopefully, mostly, though, overall fairly content, in spite of it all.

Why tired and frustrated? Remember how I mentioned that we have moved into an apartment? WELL, our upstairs neighbors seem to have a love for loud, booming bass music played loudly for hours and hours and hours and hours on end, into the night. Long story short, first night we were here my husband had to go upstairs and ask them to please turn it down in the middle of the night, things got better for a few weeks, then things got loud again, I finally reported it to the office, things got better again, until last night. Cue music - over the heads of our bedrooms, VERY loud - we were hearing more than just the bass, but the words even, from early afternoon until after I went to bed last night. We had a little excitement around 9PM, too, when two very nice police officers knocked on our door and asked, “Are you by chance playing music in here, maybe in that back bedroom?” I said, “No sir, it’s upstairs,” and explained that we had complained about it at the office before. He told me no one was answering up there and it was like they had turned it on and left. Great, I’m thinking. We all have to get up early in the morning. He advised us to make a formal, written complaint today at our office because it is obviously bothering other neighbors now too, so I did. I was hesitant to do that because I didn’t really want to be the complaining neighbor, but we tried to ask nicely, and it’s common sense, really, don’t you think? Then again, we are living in an increasingly ruder society by the day, in my opinion, so what’s common sense got to do with anything?So. Here we are. It’s quiet up there since 10:45 this morning anyway.

Why thankful? Well, when we put our house on the market it was with the thinking that it would probably take a long time to sell it, and now is as good a time as any to downsize a little. We've seen houses sit for months and months in our neighborhood, but we had a contract in a little over a month. Not what we were expecting, but we are grateful. Very grateful. But now we’re back to apartment living, which really isn’t bad as long as our neighbors will pipe down up there. When they are quiet, we like it here just fine. We have a pool and a treadmill. I like that part.

Why melancholy? Same as the reason I’m thankful. We really enjoyed that house. It’s probably the house we’ve liked best of all we’ve lived in yet. We made a lot of sweet memories there. It’s harder to leave a house and move across town, knowing after closing day I’ll never have a reason to drive down that street again. That makes me a little sad, even though I am convinced it’s right. I went over there to the empty house today and enjoyed the quiet (oh, the blessed quiet) one last time and remembered some sweet times there and prayed - I thanked God that we got to live in that house for 3 years, I thanked Him for the memories we made there, and I prayed for the people who are buying it and will take ownership of it on Wednesday. I prayed they will have as happy a time in that house as we did, and I asked God that if they haven’t yet heard the gospel that please sometime during their living here that they will hear it.

Why content? Because God is good all the time, and I know that this is where He has us now and I’m thankful for my family and the incredible attitudes the kids have had throughout all these changes. And I"m very thankful for my husband and how hard he works and the sacrifices he makes to love and support the kids and me. 

Reading......The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins - I have recently discovered this author through some free (yes, I said free!) Kindle books, and I’m enjoying what I’ve read so far. You can look at the Books Read 2013 tab for other books I’ve read recently if you are interested.

Pondering.....the future of this blog. I don’t seem to find time, energy or ideas to post much here these days. Is it time for the blogging season of my life to end, or am I just in a slow-down period? I’m not sure. I’ve had slumps before, but they never seemed to last this long. Maybe my blogging is just evolving. Time will tell, I suppose.

Hmm. I guess that’s enough about me for today. Happy July, everyone!