Friday, December 21, 2012

No 'easy' button

Parenting is something you chip away at, gradually, bit by bit.  You say the same thing a thousand times, not knowing if you are making any impact. 

Obey and be kind.  Obey and be kind.  These are the rules, especially for the little ones, obey and be kind.  Hold up two fat sticky fingers and say it, obey and be kind.

Say the verse, Ephesians 4:32, and be ye kind, one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you.


Breaking up skirmishes, emotional, hormonal, physical.  (Yesterday I commented under my breath that we have enough hormones here to power a space rocket.  Oldest son, near enough to hear, responded, "I don't think it works that way, Mom."). Over a toy, over a comment or a facial expression or a tone of voice.

Unforgiveness lays a foundation for an explosion, should anyone grieviously make a repeat error, let alone an oft repeated error.

And yet.

I'm chipping away.  Obey and be kind.  Kindness!  Ephesians 4:32.

Yesterday I took all 13 children to the oldest 3's Christmas party for their 'school' (not really a school, supplimental thing). There was food to be eaten, socializing to do, and there were games to be played, games for high school homeschoolers.  Big kids.  And my smaller people were feeling left out.  (not the babies, they were doing acrobatics in the middle of the floor)

And without a negative breath or look, the older sibs pulled the smalls in.  They were kind.  So kind. 

My battles have not been for naught.  My daily instruction bore some fruit.  After all the at home training, we passed the test.

Kindness.  There's no easy button.  But sometimes ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

99 presents for kids 'neath the tree

99 presents for kids
Take one down and pass it around
99 presents for kids 'neath the tree

Well, actually there are 92, but who's counting?

I am. This is another one of those things that is hard for people to imagine, how do you do Christmas with 13 kids. It has not always been this way, and will probably continue to evolve, but for the last couple years, here is how we do it.

We have a budget. We spend a little more on the bigs and a little less on the smalls and basically nothing on the baby.

And we make a list and put it in a spreadsheet, everything we buy, price, shipping info, who it's for, etc. After making sure everybody will open pretty much the same number of things and with pretty much the same amount of happiness, we then sort them by gift, alphabetically.

Then we tweak it. We send everyone's "main present" to the end and make sure the small people don't go too long without something to unwrap.

Finally, we number them.

Each child had another child to help choose a gift for, and they got to wrap their person's presents, to what ever degree they were capable of doing so. (I'm pretty sure Fifth Daughter already told Third Daughter what she got her.) Once wrapped, each gift gets only a number. No names.

That keeps everyone guessing the whole time. And it's fun.

So that's how we do it. It's a little ocd, I admit, but it's a great game.

That's how we do the present thing. I think we will do stockings, then breakfast, then Christmas story and gifts after breakfast. Breakfast is home made egg mcmuffins this year - good enough to eat even with a sock full of candy in front of you.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Where is God?

Our nation is grieving.  26 lives lost.  Most of them young children.  I, like many, looked tonight at the sons and daughters I have in that age group and thought about the moms and dads who don't have their child that age because a crazy guy with a gun shot them at school today. 

I was reading the 1st article that popped up in response to my google search and throughout the 5 or so pages of it, there were several highlighted links that I could click that led to other related stories.  One of them was something like, 'the nation wonders where God is'.

As I was praying tonight and telling Him of my sorrow, I was thinking of the verse in Jeremiah (31:15 I think) about Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they were no more.  That's how my heart feels.  There is no comfort, no hope.  There are Christmas presents bought for children who won't wake up Christmas morning.  Empty arms, hearts in a rage, where is God?

He is grieving.  Like He does every day when innocent blood is shed.  We are killing them off by the millions.  The difference between these 26 and the children we abort daily is that these children were wanted by their parents.  But the children we abort were wanted and designed and planned for by God.  He loves them, loves the 26, loves the Israelis and Palestinians, civilians and soldiers, who are dying.  Those in Syria and North Korea being tortured and murdered by their own government, and those doing the murdering, He loves them.

People usually don't care for the idea of a God who would send people to hell.  But on a day like today, we want Him to be just and punish the wicked.  Problem is, that's all of us.  There is none righteous.  No, not one.

God hates the shedding of innocent blood.  And yet He caused His Son's innocent blood to be spilt as a ransom for many.

Jesus wept at Lazarus' tomb, though He knew He was about to heal him.  I believe He weeps today.  But I think we need the perspective that He also grieves the lives we take with our own hands through abortion and call it freedom and women's rights and reproductive health.  We would be absolutely horrified if a so-called doctor did to one of our children, or 26 of our children, or thousands of our children what is done systematically, daily, for lots of money to these pre-born but unique and special and wonderfully knit by their Creator God children.

That's where God is.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Blogger on the run

I have just uploaded the mobile version of blogger, which means, good news for you, I can now blog while sitting on the john, or nursing, or riding in the van (none of which I am doing right now).  In fact I am sitting in front of my husband's cushy desktop computer, the one I'm barely allowed to look at, and it is turned off, so I can try out this new thing. 

The real beauty is that I think it will be easy to put up pictures, poorly taken by me with my phone also (I honestly thought the whole camera-on-the-cell-phone concept was superlatively stupid in the beginning, like trying to sell bottled water) so that will be fun too.

Anyway, happy Friday.  Although I was pretty sure yesterday was Friday.  Yesterday I started off on a Jesus high, stayed there for most of the day until son #3 broke my heart by asking me if A) he will be required to do school and chores on his birthday, at the end of March and, when I said yes, but that he can work ahead so it's a free day - not new information - he asked B) what would happen if he didn't get it done. 

Now that might not sound heartbreaking to you, but what I heard was this:  I am planning to have a bad attitude and be rebellious and disobedient 2.5 months in advance and I would rather think about how awful you are as a mom than about how I can get my stuff done early and take my birthday off, this from a boy who is usually done before lunch and frustrated that everyone else still has work to do. 

It's the sullenness and the repetition that gets me.  Anyway, hours later, my good mood blown, several other issues later, husband not home from work, feeling unsupported and quite sorry for myself, same kid asks how I'm doing, I tell him.  He gives me a phenomenal hug and says, Mom, maybe you should pray.  And I do.  And it doesn't all go away, but there was Jesus and grace to finish the day.

P.S.  experiencing technical difficulties with the photo thing, but I'll figure it out.  And yes, my right thumb is numb from text typing a whole blog post.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Looking forward

Maybe everybody's like this. I don't know. I'm just me. So I can only speak with certainty about me. And me, I, am like this: I like to look ahead.

I have lived my memorable life this way. Getting through *whatever* for the sake of the carrot. I even set myself up for this artificially. I can have a steamer in the evening (cup of hot milk with artificially sweetened creamer in it) if I eat and drink appropriately the rest of the day. I am going to eat healthy until such-and-such a day then party till I puke, or wish I could.

It's not just an eating thing. Vacations, date nights, parties, Christmas!!! We (it is we, right, not just me?) live for what's ahead.

So here we are in the whir of the holiday season. We call it the holiday season because there is a cluster of big ones all together. We celebrate Thanksgiving, which is mostly about family and eating and football. Then before we get ourselves really back in order, or even unpacked, in my case, we start celebrating Christmas, which is about Jesus and/or the fat man and shopping and eating and friends and family and presents and movies and music and candy and decorations and trees and maybe snow or maybe not. And immediately, before we have a chance to return the stomach pump we rented and the ugly sweaters we'll say just didn't fit, it's time to celebrate the new year, which is about getting a new calendar and staying up abnormally late and watching horrible tv and drinking and kissing and a big red ball or apple or something dropping in New York and Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest and resolutions and fresh starts and Barry Manilow and Auld Lang Syne, whatever that means. Most of us don't even try to be productive between those two holidays.

Looking ahead is certainly part of our culture, if not the human experience. And I'm bad about it. I NEED something to look forward to. It's one of the reasons I enjoy being pregnant. I look forward to my appointments (yes I really do, maybe because I get to leave the house, mostly alone, and listen to anything I want on the radio), and I love counting down the days till I get to meet my new human.

Part of post-partum depression is that our whole lives are focused on this build up of anticipation and then it happens, either the way we thought it would, or not, and we are left with sleep deprivation, a needy human, some overwhelmedness at the flowing of bodily fluids everywhere, and Absolutely Nothing To Look Forward To, because we're never leaving the house again.

So I'm a pretty happy camper right now, with so much to look forward to. I have special dates on the calendar, special treats to make and eat, and special treasures I have specially selected for the most special people in my world. I can't wait to see their faces. Isn't that special?

And this morning when I got up to pray, I was thinking about how good it was to have coffee with my friend last night, and mentally reviewing the calendar, scanning forward to the next thing.

And I felt the Lord say, very clearly, 'I want to be what you look forward to'.


So I went to pray. And I was singing. Frankly, a lot of my praying is singing. Jesus likes that about me. And the song in my heart was by my friend Alyssa Berwick, who reminds me of me 20 years ago except that she is eversomuch better at all of it. Here are the words, but you'd really have to hear it.

You are worthy, You are worthy
You are worthy to be praised
Oh Jesus, You are worthy

Jesus Your blood ran red
Jesus Your blood ran down
Jesus Your blood was shed for the sins of the whole world

Now we've got joy never-ending because we've been forgiven
We've got life everlasting and all of our healing
We've got peace like a river flowing from heaven
You've made us free

And it's a great song. I already loved that song, now it's my anthem. But I have to say, it wasn't the song so much as it was the God-Man Jesus. He flooded my space. I could have jumped, I could have laughed, I could have danced all night. He is simply more wonderful and awesome and able and worthy than I can fathom.

And I just have to say, I am looking forward to every second I get to be with Him today. I am excited about this Jesus and everything He is saying and everything He is doing and going to do and has done. In Him was life and the life was the light of the world, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father. (from John 1)

Now, what are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Grown-up Christmas List

If you have some extra cash in your budget, here's what to get me.

Actually, if you really have extra cash, I know some missionaries who could use a little extra to get to Indonesia, go to, and I know of several little cuties that could use some help coming home to their new families, go to or or

Now, back to joking.

I would like, first and foremost, for my children to be kind to each other for the whole day. Every day. For the rest of their lives.

I would love for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to be free of technology. Smart phones, iPads, laptops, e-mails, facebook and are all things that will make my Christmas less merry.

A Jaguar. Dark green.

Christmas dishes to serve my whole family. I have 8 plates that are white (ivory-ish) with blue snowflakes and service for 4 (cups, bowls, saucers, plates) of another blue and white snowflake pattern. That makes 12. I have 15 people living in my house, so I would love at least another 3. It would be great to have lots more, some of them plastic. You don't have to buy these for me. Just tell me if you see them somewhere.

And in the name of family dining, I would also enjoy the following: a dining room table that seats 20 or so, new silverware that matches and serves 40 or so, a kitchen/dining room floor that doesn't double as a puzzle on a rainy day, and a nice set of non-Christmas dishes, plates, bowls, saucers and cups, that feed 40 or so, are beautiful, not breakable, microwavable, dishwashable, and come equipped with a homing beacon so that they are never lost under furniture, in the yard, at other peoples' houses, or in the van. Oh, and drawers. I would like the drawers in my kitchen to work. That's all.

An adequate storage system for all of my daughters' crap. Like maybe a warehouse, underground, with an elevator, similar to the one in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And speaking of that factory . . .

Chocolate! Without sugar or carbs that is free and doesn't give me a bellyache or diarrhea.

I would like to have an operational recording studio set up in my house. Just a decent microphone, boom stand, appropriate wiring for my keyboard and the necessary technology on a computer that can keep up. Operational is the key here.

My laundry room could use an overhaul, including several additional square feet. We now have 10 relatively capable laundry helpers, each with a laundry bin of stuff to put away daily, but not really space to set the bins all out while sorting. Maybe some kind of rack to put them all on would be sufficient. Ideas. I need ideas.

A coat that keeps me warm, isn't bulky, and doesn't make me look like something big and round.

Speaking of round-ness, I would like to somehow have the ability to lap swim every other day or so. This means I either need one of those lap swimming mini-pools, or better, a full sized indoor swimming pool, 25 meters preferably - which would probably require moving, or a membership to the Y and time to go. The trick with this is, of course, the nursing baby. My husband is sort of quirky about me leaving a nursing baby at home, in that, if baby gets hungry, Daddy will feed him. Weird. And, over the long haul, that will likely lead to early weaning, which is not on my Christmas or birthday list.

More babies. Twins, a boy and a girl. Or a handful to adopt. Or both.

For all my humans to really know Jesus.

A truckload of discipline and self control, in 3 hour portions preferably, able to be stored at room temperature in childproof packages. Better yet, another truckload of child sized portions of the same, except in patch form.

A big bottle of Bailey's Irish Creme with no calories or sugar or alcohol.

The recipes for several different kinds of meals that are all easy to make, healthy for all bodies, delicious to eat and wonderfully inexpensive.

For my dog to stop pooping when he is left alone in the house.

Time. Time to read all the books I've been stock piling. Time to write a book (and the wisdom to know what to say). Time to spend with each of my treasures before they slip through my fingers, hopefully safely in the Lord's faithful hands. Time to go all the places I need to go and do all the things I need to do without stressing my husband and older children out or neglecting my younger children. Time to write the songs still in my heart and half recorded on my phone.

Several comfortable and supportive upper undergarments, both nursing and otherwise.

Is that so much to ask?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Annual Annoying Christmas Song Rant

I am what is called Technologically Inept. Means I am either unable to use certain technology, or too pathetic/distracted/old to learn.

So here is my disclaimer: I know that using Pandora or a good mix on an MP3 player would solve all the problems I am about to whine about, and that by listening to the radio, I voluntarily subject myself and others to whatever songs they choose to play. I get it.

We flip back and forth between the local Christian radio station, which has it's own annoying idiosyncrasies, and the local secular easy listening station, which, between Thanksgiving and January 1st dubs itself "The Christmas Station". The Christian station plays progressively more Christmas music during the season, but plays only purely Christmas music on Christmas day.

So, without further ado, here is what bugs me.

Last Christmas, I Gave You My Heart
George Michael/Wham or Taylor Swift
My daughter and I agree that this song is way less annoying when being sung by Taylor, because it is much more appropriate for a teenager to be this goofy than it is a grown man. The song is a whine about a failed romance which the singer admits he would readily renew, while at the same time, vowing that this year he's going to give his heart to "someone special". Not only is it contradictory and misdirected, it's not about Christmas.

The Little Saint Nick
Beach Boys
I guess it fits the Beach Boys, who sang about cars, girls in bikinis and surf boards, not necessarily in that order. But is superlatively dopey. Just dumb.

Sleigh Ride
sung by everybody
No kidding, there are so many renditions of this song, none of them unique. The worst has got to be Air Supply. If those boys felt the need to immortalize their style with a Christmas tune, this was not the song to own. The image of the guy with Euro-fro singing, "giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up let's go" is double wrong. I cannot imagine the humiliation it would take an artist to pull this one off.

Do You Hear What I Hear?
All the divas and some old guys
My problem is not with the interpretation of this song, but the song itself. I'm okay with the night wind talking, and the lamb talking, and the shepherd boy who claims he hears lambs quoting the wind having easy access to the king. But to say that the King said Jesus would bring goodness and light, when what he really did was massacre all the baby boys under the age of 2 in the region, is such a gross misrepresentation that it is simply unbearable. And for women with such marvelous voices as Whitney Houston (who does it best) and Jordin Sparks (a very close second) to sing it with such passion is such a waste. Our version of the song, when we sing along with the radio, says, "Said the king to the people everywhere, listen to what I say, all the baby boys in this region must die because I am afraid of losing my weak hold on my puppet kingship."

All the snow songs
Yes, we are having a mild winter, again, and there isn't much snow to be had here in the Midwest. And yes, having some white stuff around does help one to feel more Christmas-ish. But the reality is that there just isn't snow everywhere at the same time, and in some places there is never snow. Are they allowed to celebrate Christmas in Hawaii? Let's get over it, people. Sometimes we will have a white Christmas, sometimes we won't, and it really will be great either way. And the phrase "there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas" is so very ridiculous, as if the lack of snow somehow quantifies the poverty there.

O Holy Night
Lotsa folks
This is actually one of my favorite Christmas songs, and it is done well by many. What gets it on this list is the way most everybody feels the need to mess with the lyrics of the second verse. They edit or leave out important parts in order to dumb down or make a song less Christian or less offensive or whatever. This is especially perturbing when it is done by a Christian. I also heard a rendition of O Come All Ye Faithful (on the Christian station, no less), in which the phrase "Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing" had been replaced by "SON of the Father". "The Word become flesh and dwelt among us," John chapter 1, is one of the most marvelous passages in the Bible. Why edit it out? Are people so Biblically illiterate that we have to edit the Bible out of Christmas carols? Or perhaps the singer himself, a Christian, couldn't handle the Biblical text. Sad.

The song we call, "Six Pack at the Grocery Store," because we don't know its name
Dan Fogelberg
Another song whose only connection to Christmas is the chronology of it. It happens to take place at Christmas. The singer runs into his old lover, she still looks good, she's not happy in her marriage, they drink beer and it stops snowing and starts raining. The single redeeming moment in the song happens when the sax solos on Auld Lang Syne, a song that is supposed to be a New Year's song, but I don't know why. I know they sing it at the end of It's a Wonderful Life. But that doesn't make Dan's song a Christmas song.

Santa Baby
The cringe factor, as I'm raising daughters to not defraud the character of men by flirting, is unbelievable and I'm just so glad we can't see the singer and what's she's wearing. It is a slippery, slimy, seductive piece of gimme, gimme. A woman drips out her Christmas requests and remarks, "Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed," why? Because she's been so faithful to Santa? She definitely sounds like someone who should be on the naughty list.

Here Comes Santa Claus
Some old guy whose name escapes me
Really, I don't get too bent out of shape about Santa. I tell my kids, he is real, he lived a long time ago, he is dead and in heaven with Jesus, he worshiped Jesus by giving to people who were in need. I tell them that a lot of people like to pretend he is still alive, that he has flying reindeer, and that Christmas is about him, but that if he was here, he would tell us it is all about Jesus. My problem with this song is a verse that is only in an old version, that says, "Santa Claus knows we're all God's children, that makes everything right." That bothers me. The idea that Christmas means peace on earth, good will to men, somehow, without Jesus, bugs me. The peace on earth comes, can only come, from the Prince of Peace. The good will to men is that a Savior is born, God become man. The good will cannot be separated from the One Who Is Good.

And probably worst of all:
Baby It's Cold Outside
Rod & Dolly, among others
I will admit, this song in the movie Elf, done in innocence, is cute. But most versions, and the lyrics of the song itself, are not innocent. And none is worse than the rendition by one of the sleaziest pervs around, Rod Stewart, and the gal with the biggest boobs on earth, Dolly Parton. The song is a proposal, and I don't mean marriage. It's about a guy trying to get a girl to sleep with him, with layers of manipulation. She's saying no. He's pushing. It's just this side of date rape. Filthy.

Now you all probably need to go read the Bible and listen to worship music for a while, since I've slimed your consciences with all this negativity.

What I love are Christmas carols, with Jesus and redemption and even tradition. I love Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and Silver Bells. I don't mind pause and reflect on the last year songs. My favorites are Hark the Herald Angels Sing, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day and others that can be found in hymnals. I like the Little Drummer Boy and even Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire. I'm sure some of my songs bug other people. And songs that offend others aren't a big thing to me (you may have noticed I didn't mention Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer).

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Addictive Substances

I have heard that some people are more inclined to addictions than others. I don't know if this is true or if some people just exercise less self control. I know that there is such a thing called cross-addicting, where a person weans himself from one addiction onto another. For example, someone quits drinking but in the process increases his cigarette use, or in quitting smoking starts eating more.

If there is such a thing as an addictive personality, I have one. At the least, I struggle with self control. So I have gone a year with pretty much no sugar and very little caffeine. But the god of my appetite is alive and well. My faves are buttered sprouted wheat bread, plain peanut butter, hot milk with vanilla, and anything curry. And I could easily gain back many pounds without sugar or caffeine.

Artificial sweeteners are worse. I used to hate them. Now I crave them. Wicked stuff.

And when it all comes down to it, there is still me: addicted, serving my appetite, having two masters, resolving to do right at the beginning of the day, repenting at the end of it.

What if I went cold turkey? No carbs at all, no artificial sweeteners, no butter. Does that eliminate all the addictive weight gainers in my diet? Maybe.

The holidays are tough for weight-losers. My family ate fresh baked peanut butter blossoms today. You know, the cookies with a Hershey's kiss in the middle. Mmmm. I had a couple pieces Russell Stover sugar free chocolate. Okay, for the record, Russell Stover, and everybody else, with sugar or not, should step off any attempt to re-create Reese's peanut butter cup. Do not mess with perfection. Reese got it right. But Russell has a pretty good imitation of a Skor/Heath bar type of thing.

My problem is that I justify having something for me when they have something. And with Christmas coming and the goose getting fat and the old man having a bunch of pennies and hay-pennies in his hat and all, I have a little list of goodies I'm looking forward to making, banana almond blueberry bread and apple raising walnut cookies. I ordered some sugar free chocolate chips and xylitol to make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

And my brain is just ready to party. To try to go cold turkey right now, even for a couple weeks, well, I can't get motivated to do it. I'm trying. It isn't working.

It reminds me of the months before we got married. Just trying to save as much intimacy until the wedding as we could. Now, it isn't hard for me to not open Christmas presents ahead of time. I have an old friend whose dad couldn't resist that temptation. They always opened the presents early. So Christmas was kind of nothing for them. And I was talking to a friend recently who said she and her husband had opened their, um, wedding night presents early. For them, the wedding night was just another night.

In a similar way, this eating and celebrating thing is hard for me. For one thing, I'm not just planning on celebrating on Christmas Day itself. The partying begins with a girls' night out, then a lunch with a dear friend who has been away for a while, a Christmas party at the kids' school, the in-laws visit, then the real Christmas, then another Christmas with my fam and finally a New Year's Bash with some of the greatest.

Why bother being good for what amounts to a week? Why alternately crucify and indulge my flesh over and over for the next 3 weeks? Who am I kidding?

I'm not drinking coffee. I'm not eating sugar. And I'm not impressing anyone; least of all me.

What if I could hold it together, just on the days when there isn't any partying to be done? What if those days were just healthy eating days? And maybe (getting desperate here) I get $5 for each day that I meet my goals? And January 1st, I go shopping with whatever money I get for Christmas, plus that?

I'll have to ask the boss, the man, the giver of all good gift$.

Sorry for this post. I can't imagine it being of value to anyone. But maybe it is. Blessings.

My Grandfather's Jacket

Today is the kind of day that is too chilly for just a shirt (need pants too, ha!) and too warm for a coat. It's jacket weather. And I wanted a kind of nicer jacket, heading out the door for church, so I grabbed my grandfather's jacket.

When my grandpa, my dad's dad, died several years ago I asked for one of his sweaters. It reminded me of him. He always wore these Mr. Rogers style button down sweaters, and I often borrowed them, so when he died, I wanted one to remember. It still smelled like him, in a way that probably would have creeped someone else out, but I liked it. Even the bad smell of a person can sometimes be sentimental, you know.

So when my granddad, my mom's dad, passed away a few years ago, I asked for his jacket. My grandpa wore Mr. Rogers sweaters. My granddad wore jackets. Like a tweed suit-coat, I guess. My grandpa was short and funny, and had a full head of white hair that he combed straight back. My granddad was tall, mostly bald, and more serious. I don't think he was really serious by nature, but my grandma, his first wife, had multiple sclerosis for my entire life, so for many years I saw him just caring for her. And that was a serious job.

I do remember once he accidentally put antifreeze on his rose bushes. I always teased him thereafter about putting antifreeze on the roses and fertilizer in the car. And he laughed. He had a great laugh, and a phenomenal smile.

So today I wore his jacket. The lining of the left sleeve was held in place by some hand stitching and 3 tiny safety pins. And in the pocket was a piece of paper. It was a photocopy of some handwritten notes belonging to my oldest cousin. I vaguely remember him wearing the jacket on the day of the funeral. Either that, or my mom tucked the paper in the pocket for me. A gentle giant, it said. He remembered Granddad before Grandma got sick, remembered him wrestling, laughing, talking with him as a child on a road trip.

I remember the gentleness too. And the fixer-upper thing. He was a mechanical engineer. And he was always improving things. That pair of shoes is okay, but it would be better if it had some ventilation, so he cut slits in the sides. My grandma's wheelchair was a marvel, a collection of different improvements, so much that the guys spent half a day trying to get it back to the way it was supposed to be after she went in the nursing home.

Eventually I also remembered, wearing his jacket today, with my ears itching and nose running, that they had a cat. But I wore it a little longer, anyway. The memories were worth a little discomfort.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like . . .


I am getting excited.

The tree is up, lit, and covered with wads of cotton and 20+ years of accumulated ornaments, both bought and home made, fragile ones near the top, the rest in toddler arm's reach are being removed and rearranged during all waking hours. There are a couple other decorations around, including a stained glass tree minus its star (I broke that off myself) and a frosted glass nativity I bought in college, are placed with fear and trembling around the house, awaiting their imminent demolition.

I have a loaded up cart, waiting for me to pull the final trigger. The UPS guy left a pile of stuff on my porch yesterday. I am a couple short trips away from being the cause of extreme happiness for most of my children.

The goal, of course, is for all 13 of them to be equally happy, for each of them to feel like they are mom's favorite and like they got the best deal for Christmas. But they don't all need/want the same things in the same proportions and at the same cost as each other. It is easier and cheaper to make a small person happy than a large one, but they don't stay happy as long. We are seriously considering wrapping some toys we already have for the little openers, because all they really want is to open things.

I am trying to consider what we want Christmas morning to be like at our house.

Part of me would like to have a nice, real, sit down breakfast. But I would have to make it, and nobody would eat much of it, since they will be eating candy from their stockings. Instead, we will probably put "nutritional" things in their socks, like poptarts or granola bars, in hopes that they will inhale some flour and oats with their sugar consumption.

I guess it could be a brunchy thing, make a big breakfast after, but the other problems are still true, me cooking, nobody eating.

What I want is intimacy. Relationships. Family. I purchase things to give to the person my child is, to celebrate his and her likes and tastes and dreams and challenges. I want to be with them and enjoy their joy.

Last year we went to church on Christmas morning (because it was Sunday) and came home and opened presents. I was a wreck, because my main present to my husband was a positive pregnancy test. I had kept the secret for a couple weeks and was exhausted and about to explode.

Today I'm holding the human that was represented by that "b.f.p." And he is fabulous. But I have no such surprises prepared for this year.

I have, in other years, been very focused on the spiritual end of things, giving to the least of these, Jesus' birthday, getting Bibles and such for the kids. But this year I'm not, honestly. I am just enjoying my children. Giving good gifts to my children, loving them for this moment, knowing it will pass. It may not sound very lofty, very super. I am just excited, like every mom and dad, to see the happy faces in three weeks and have my children realize again that their mom and dad love them, in part because we bless them with special treasures, gifts that show we know them and know what they like.

5 good reasons to save your kisses

(written from the perspective of one who didn't)

DISCLAIMER FOR MY YOUNGER READERS - please have Mom read it first and make sure she wants you to read this. Okay?




The thing

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Space for going to talk to mom without reading the blog first . . .






1. kisses are the beginning of sex.
They are the opening up of one's self. They are the mixing of one person's spit with another person's spit. Sorry, but that's the disgusting truth. I'm not talking about the kind of kisses you give your grandma before you leave her house or to say thanks for the new sweater. But try to keep a kiss shared with someone you are attracted to on the grandma level (actually, I advocate that you DON'T try) and you'll find that line is very easy to cross and very difficult to return from (see #3). Sexual purity means not just keeping from having s.e.x. It means not doing things that resemble or inspire sex. This includes being mindful of how you dance, how you dress, how you treat the opposite gender, how you walk, and yes, how you kiss.

2. if you kiss someone who isn't your husband/wife, they very likely are someone else's husband or wife.
I have been married for nearly 20 years. It would be grotesquely inappropriate for my husband to kiss another woman. Those kisses are mine. I would not want him to practice on someone else, getting technique lessons from another teacher. Those are just ours. If it isn't appropriate to do after you're married with someone else's spouse, you shouldn't do it before marriage. Until you're married, you're not.

3. the law of diminishing returns.
I think I was raised in a culture (not necessarily what my parents did or did not teach me, just the culture of the w.a.s.p.y environment I was a part of) of just making it across the finish line with your actual virginity in tact. To get married without having had actual sex. If that is your goal, I still recommend saving kisses for this reason. In my experience, which I, again, do not recommend, the amount of physical intimacy you experience with a person you like makes you want more. It's like Jim Gaffigan says about bacon - eating bacon only makes you thirsty . . . for more bacon! Being physically intimate with someone makes you want to be more physically intimate. God designed it that way. He wants us to be intimate with our spouse. It's a great idea. But once begun, it is extremely difficult and frustrating to stop that process. Especially if you are trying to maintain purity over a long period of time. Starting a movie and pushing the pause button right when you're getting to the good part for a couple years is not a great idea. It doesn't work for our emotions, for our bodies, or for the dvd player. We are made to want to finish what we start. Don't start until it is appropriate to finish.

4. don't extend your hand farther than you can safely pull it back.
In other words, kissing someone communicates a belonging and a commitment and a promise. Even if you don't mean it to say that, it does. That is why it would feel really crappy to kiss someone and then see them kissing someone else (and why the game 'spin the bottle' is such an incredibly stupid idea). But it also does something kind of marital in your heart. And if that person winds up not being yours, that unspoken promise gets broken, and with it, your heart.

5. kissing messes up your ability to think, and hear, clearly.
When you are a young adult, trying to find God's plan for your life, listening to His voice, and the voices of wise counsel, you need to be able to think. Wise choices in relationships are not made well under the influence of hormonal attachment. Wisdom is not to be found in that giddy feeling that happens when you realize he/she REALLY likes you. I just watched most of a movie called "The King's Speech". (I'm afraid I did watch the R version, but I believe there is a non-cussing version that I would recommend.) In it [SPOILER], the crown prince is so desperately in love with a woman he cannot live without (read: extremely physically entangled) that he actually abdicates the throne of England. This is not good decision making. It is generally glorified by Hollywood as 'following your heart', but is not actually wise in real life. You are deciding who to marry, one of the most important and long lasting decisions you will every make. You want a clear head. This is a hard decision to undo. And if you are a God-fearing Christian, once you say I do, you're pretty well stuck. You need all your wits about you to know if this is a guy/girl you really want to share the next 70 or so years with. You really need to get this right. A life time is a long time to walk out an impulse.

So there you have it folks, my top five reasons to save your kisses till the altar. I know that sounds ridiculous, but that's what I'm recommending.