Gettin’ Schooled

Our homeschooling adventure continues! One of the main things I want to do when I think of teaching my kids myself is stuff their heads with as much scripture as possible. My own little brain was stuffed full of God’s words when I was a little girl and I find He uses that library in my brain to talk to me. I want my kids to have a nice-sized God-vocabulary, so a big part of our homeschooling is scripture memory.

So far this schoolyear we’ve memorized:

Romans 3:23-24 (As a kid I learned 3:23 alone, but verse 24 actually finishes the sentence. )
Acts 16:21
Ephesians 6:1
Proverbs 20:11
Psalm 34:14
Isaiah 63:1-3
1 John 4:8
Psalm 23 entire chapter

Since I’ve also been working on cursive handwriting with Levi, the scripture verses provide a good opportunity to practice handwriting and work on memorization at the same time. We do one verse each week, with a “test” on Friday. On Monday, we print out the verse and each day, Caleb helps by holding the paper for us to read aloud together. He gets a kick out of saying “GO!” and we read the verse again. We also write the verse several times to “layer the learning” by using our hand to write, seeing with eyes, and speaking the verse aloud.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a Friday morning and “tested” on all the verses we’d learned up until that time, having the kids write them out as I called out the reference or the first couple of words.

Scripture Memory Wall

Scripture Memory Wall

I’m so excited for my kids to learn the Bible, and as He always does, God is using His words to change us. For example, several weeks ago, when we were memorizing Psalm 34:14 “Depart from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it,” Dwayne and I had a really rough evening. It was one of those needless marital disagreements where both people say and do things they don’t mean and nobody wins. It wasn’t the kind of thing we could hide from the kids, even though they were in bed when it happened. We screwed up and our kids knew it. The next morning, I tearfully read over Psalm 34:14 and had to explain to my three babies how Dad and I were wrong to not do what the verse asked. We had not departed from evil and sought peace. We had done the opposite. I also shared with them how we planned to work on our disagreement, and ask God to help us too. Talk about humble pie. Talk about relevant scripture.

As He always does, God turned my stupid mistake into something good for me and my children. I had a chance to talk honestly with my kids, not hiding from them the fact that adults make mistakes. I had a chance to teach them that being an adult isn’t about not messing up, but it’s about owning your mistakes and doing what it takes to learn how to do better.

 

Vacuum Science Experiment

Vacuum Science Experiment

So far, we’ve also started a creation science unit, made “rain,” created a vacuum, and we are pairing that with a World History study, starting off at the very beginning, of course. I’ve been working with Mackenzie on poetry, and with Levi on reading comprehension. For math, I have a geometry student and one working on multiplication with several digits. For some extra curricular work, Mackenzie is taking a cake decorating class and Levi is participating in the children’s choir at NOBTS. As a family, we’ve also done a menu-planning and grocery budgeting project.

I’m finding my days are intense, with nonstop activity from 6am to 8 or 9pm by the time I complete the entire day from homeschool to work to NOCCA pick-up to putting everyone to bed. BUT I’m working on some different techniques to manage my tasks and time. I’m so thrilled with my kids’ progress and so surprised at how much MOM is learning. ūüôā Guess they aren’t the only ones gettin’ schooled!

 

 

 

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Pit Avoidance 101

So remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I managed to avoid my annual Pit of Despair during the summer?  I totally promised to tell you about that.  So I am:

If you’ve read for a while or know me at all, then you know I dread summer, and it ain’t the New Orleans heat. ¬†Summers are when my big kids have to go away for a several weeks and…

I.  Hate. It.

Like, deep depression, crying most days, eating everything in sight, hate it.

I miss those babies, what can I say?!?

This year, however, I managed to cope a bit more effectively with my summer emotions.  Here are a few reasons why:

1) ¬†Homemade Vinaigrette. ¬†I’m totally serious. ¬†I got kind of interested in a bunch of homemade things and I made some awesome vinaigrettes this summer. ¬†Most included honey and lime. (How can you beat that?) ¬†I also made some yummy cocktails like key lime pie martini and a salty dog with fresh grapefruit juice. ¬†So. Good. ¬†Not to mention I kept up with my biscuit project and became a Joy the Baker disciple. ¬†With only one kid at home and he had an age 3-sized tummy, it was easier to make grown-up food for dinner without having to coerce anyone into trying what was on the plate. ¬†So, things like arugula pesto went down easy. ¬†And I had fun with the distraction.

2) ¬†Friends. ¬†Not the TV show. ¬†The real kind. ¬†We have some darling friends down the street who invited us like crazy to swim in their gorgeous pool. ¬†I learned a few water aerobics moves, but mostly had a fun place to move my body and have fun with my littlest boy and enjoy time with some great grownups. ¬†And of course our house church friends stick close during summers. ¬†They run straight toward the crazy. ¬†They hover near, show up on weeknights, and call to see if I can have lunch. ¬†I have some long distance heart friends (Christy and my sister) who also video chat and such. ¬†It’s hard to BS when they can see my face. And then there are the girls night friends. ¬†Friends help. ¬†A lot.

3) ¬†I started reading the Bible. ¬†Ha ha! ¬†Like I’ve never done that before!! ¬†Yeah, I’ve totally done that since forever, but not like this. ¬†Untangling myself from Bible reading/study as a vocational requirement has been a little awkward at times. ¬†It all started with the “quiet time” one year at youth camp. ¬†They taught us how to have “time with God” every day and then I had another thing I could be a perfectionist about. ¬†Another thing to add to my “things that make me an awesome Christian” list. ¬† Over the past few years, I’ve questioned it all and picked it all apart and set aside most of the stuff on that list. ¬†BUT… this past April we as a home church started a chronological read through the Bible in a year. ¬†We’re using Youversion. ¬†This time, my journey through scripture has been compelling and nourishing AND completely disconnected from my reputation. ¬†I’ve rarely missed a day, even though I haven’t obsessed about making it happen. It’s been so much fun to connect with God for no other reason than just… to connect with God. ¬†He was my Lifeline, my Safety Net, my Secret Weapon for Pit Avoidance this summer. ¬†It was so natural, so lovely, to have God and His Words to me remain when so many other things have changed.

4) ¬†I prayed. ¬†Again… not a new thing for me. ¬†But this time… you got it… different. ¬†My kids had quite a bit of anxiety about their summer and since my own anxiety nearly swallows me whole, what could I do but grab their hands and pray out loud and trust God to make it ok? ¬†There’s this thing about praying something in front of your kids. ¬†You kind of have to mean it or else what would that teach them? ¬†So I did it. ¬†I threw myself and my darling children on the mercy, the vast and amazing mercy, of God. ¬†I gave up control. ¬†I didn’t know whether He would resolve the anxiety producing situations or whether He would give us extra guts and grace to handle them, but I squeezed my eyes shut and jumped into trust. ¬†I had to do it for my kids. ¬†I had to do it because I’M a kid. ¬†Whatever… it worked.

This is hardly a 12 step or anything. ¬†It’s actually only one-third of a 12 step. (See what I did there? I can do math since I’m a homeschool mom now.) ¬†Heh. ¬†What I’m saying is I don’t mean this to be a formula or anything preachy like that. ¬†It’s simply the real nitty gritty of what got me through one of my most anxiety producing events with WAAAAYYYYY less anxiety than I’ve felt in past years. ¬†This is me, being real with you, about what a sincere but imperfect Christian girl does to try to cope with her dark and scary emotions. ¬†No pie-in-the-sky here. ¬†Nothing lofty or super spiritual fakety fake. ¬†Just me stumblin’ and bumblin’ and grateful for any progress I can make.

So what do you think?  What keeps you out of your pits?

 

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Uncharted Territory

Caleb and his ABC scripture cards

Caleb and his ABC scripture cards

Ok, again… too long since last post.¬† I promised I’d avoid the POD (Pit of Despair) this summer and I’m happy to report:¬† I DID!!!¬† Another post will outline my strategy for success on this.¬† For now, I have other news.

We’ve spent this summer, Dwayne and I, wrestling with a major decision:¬† What to do about school for the kids???

Our oldest has been getting by with online school, middle had a sad excuse for a fourth grade year, and baby is only 3.¬† Bottom line, we were looking for some good solutions for our kids when it comes to school.¬† Private school is out.¬† Can’t afford tuition, plus our last experience with private school was not too great.¬† Public school, while I have no problem in theory with it, didn’t do the trick for my kids either.¬† Especially Levi struggled mightily this past school year and nothing I tried seemed to work.¬† Nothing major, just barely passing grades and little actual growth. Translate this: 2 frustrating hours of homework every night until somebody or everybody cries and nobody knows what we’re doing wrong.¬† Now that Mackenzie is accepted to NOCCA, meaning we won’t arrive home until 7pm to start the aforementioned homework torture routine, we needed a new direction.

I had a thought, a daring, crazy thought that I knew my husband would immediately reject but I couldn’t keep it out of my mind.¬† So I brought it up.

He didn’t reject it.¬† He thought about it.¬† I thought about it.¬† We prayed about it.¬† We sought advice of trusted friends.¬† We decided to go for it.¬† I’m going to say it really fast so it won’t seem so ca-razy.

I’mhomeschoolingmykidsandstillworkingfulltime.

Oh my gosh, I said it.¬† I know this is taboo so you’ll still be my friend, right?¬† Even if you think I’m nuts?¬† Thanks, I knew you would.

I’ve rearranged my schedule a bit, so I’m up at 5:45am, and by 7:00 the kids and I are doing school core studies. (The bus for public high school stops on our street at 6:45am in case this seems crazy early to anyone.)¬† Roughly three hours later I head to work and then tap out with stepdad who does afternoon reading, driving to¬†field trips,¬†music lessons, ¬†P.E. and the drop off at NOCCA where Mackenzie has been accepted as a student of culinary arts.¬† Around 6 I leave work and head to NOCCA to pick up my girl, and we all reconvene at home around 7:00 to have dinner, get baths, and drop into bed.¬† Weekends include some prep time and¬†coaching from my very own homeschool professional, Janet, is in abundance.

Ya’ll, for a while I totally doubted if I could do this.¬† I sought help from various sources, validation really.¬† I asked a homeschool blogger for advice, but got something like¬†“I understand.¬† I work full time¬†AT HOME too.”¬† Hmmm… I know it came from a good heart, but I felt like it meant “NO way can a work OUTside the home mom do this.”¬† But the truth is, it’s doable.¬† Not easy.¬† But possible.¬† Kids who are professional entertainers, missionary kids, and even regular old American families, all homeschool in unconventional ways…so why not us?

Since this IS still the US of A and my school choice for my kids is still my business, I considered keeping quiet about this because I fear the judgemental attitudes of others.¬† However, I’ve had so much fun the past three weeks and so much joy with my kids that I had to share this with ya’ll.

We’ve memorized scripture verses, learned about sea turtles, dolphins and alligators, learned spelling rules and cursive handwriting, analyzed and written our own poems, studied prohibition and Lewis and Clark and more.¬† And this was all during our “trial run” before regular school started.¬† You know, in case we couldn’t handle this schedule we’d still be able to start regular school and keep trying to figure something out.¬† But the trial run only served to prove to me that this CAN work.

I’m looking into my children’s eyes.¬† I’m spending the FIRST and best part of my day concentrating¬†on them, not just¬†the last and most irritable moments.¬† My son has learned more in three weeks than I saw him pick up over the entire second semester of last year.¬† I’ve been able to determine some areas that need attention, ones I didn’t realize were lacking.

Since Levi was a baby, I’ve been haunted by a night when I, against what I KNEW God was telling me in my heart, allowed a doctor to catheterize him.¬† I knew it was unnecessary, but was afraid to go against the doctor’s orders.¬† I never want to feel that way again.¬† It turned out, my “feeling” was right, he was fine and there was no bladder infection.¬† I caused my baby unnecessary pain by being scared to just be his mom.¬† Not anymore.¬† In my heart’s deepest places, I want to give whatever it takes, do whatever it takes to love these babies and introduce them to God and give them a happy life.¬† I know that God will direct me and give me everything I need to do what He wants done for these three amazing creatures He created in my womb.¬† I’m so excited for what we’re doing.¬† Whether we do it for the next year only or for the rest of their school careers, I’m enjoying every minute in this uncharted territory.¬† Maybe it’s a lil’ weird, but I’m cool with that. ¬†I’m happy to be mommy to these three, wife to Dwayne and whatever else God asks me to be.

 

 

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Control Freak

Hello, my name is Rebecca and…

I’m a control freak.

Yep.¬† Don’t judge.¬† You probably are too.

Oooo ya’ll, I love me some control.¬† I don’t even mind being at fault for a problem… just so I get to call the shots.¬† Here’s the thing with that:¬† You can’t really control things like hurricanes, divorces, failing health, car accidents… oh yeah and OTHER PEOPLE.¬† You can’t control other people.¬† This includes, but is not limited to, husbands and children.

Summer’s here, you know. ¬†My annual pit of despair opens its mouth yet again as I anticipate sending my big kids to Florida for a few weeks. ¬†Without me. ¬†Outside my control. ¬†Ugh.

Something’s different this year. ¬†This year I’ve decided to avoid the P.O.D (pit of despair). ¬†Not goin’ in.

God and I have had a few talks over the last few weeks. ¬†Here’s something that caught my eye…

JOB 37

14 “Listen to this, Job;
stop and consider God’s wonders.
15 Do you know how God controls the clouds
and makes his lightning flash?
16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?
17 You who swelter in your clothes
when the land lies hushed under the south wind,
18 can you join him in spreading out the skies,
hard as a mirror of cast bronze?

19 “Tell us what we should say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.
20 Should he be told that I want to speak?
Would anyone ask to be swallowed up?
21 Now no one can look at the sun,
bright as it is in the skies
after the wind has swept them clean.
22 Out of the north he comes in golden splendor;
God comes in awesome majesty.
23 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;
in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.
24 Therefore, people revere him,
for does he not have regard for all the wise¬†in heart?[b]‚ÄĚ

You know what? ¬†I’m not in control of what goes on with my babies when they are away.

Know what else?  God IS.

Truth be told, I waste a lot of time and emotional energy trying to control the uncontrollable.  Trying to make sure nothing bad happens.  Trying to shield and protect and oversee.  Trying to improve and revamp and adjust.

Yeah, God totally has it.

I think somewhere along the way I decided that my broken heart was evidence that God wasn’t quite able to handle my life. ¬†So of course it would be better if I took over. ¬†Right.

As evidenced by four miserable, depressing, sickening summers… that didn’t work.

This year, I’m leaving the control in God’s hands. ¬†That’s actually a joke because it’s always been there. ¬†Let me try again. ¬†This year I’m not going to waste my time obsessing and worrying about what God controls. ¬†He will be faithful to my children just like He has been to me. ¬†I’m just going to love my kids, be grateful for my family and enjoy my life.

Hmmmm…..

Now what kind of freak will I be?

 

 

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Unforced Rhythms of Grace

 

This came from a great blog I follow, Margaret Feinberg. I really like Margaret’s books. Check her out sometime.

Anyway, this scripture was taken from The Message paraphrase. The phrase “unforced rhythms of grace” keeps echoing in my mind. I’ve been learning a bit about those unforced rhythms over the past few years. When I took piano lessons as a kid, I had this old thing called a metronome. It FORCED me to keep a certain time, meaning any rhythm I played had to obey that particular speed. I didn’t enjoy that thing. You wouldn’t know it, though, by the way I lived for a long time. I lived by some very forced rhythms.

Get all A’s. Do everything right. Make sure you live up to expectations. Never let ’em see you sweat.

I have to be honest, I’m so used to marching to a very strict beat, that unforced rhythms aren’t too comfy for me. Or weren’t. Now I’m learning to bask in them. Enjoy them. I’m liking what happens when I stop trying so hard and leave it to God for real.

Sunday morning was house church, of course. We’re on four years of house church now. That means we’ve been meeting since I was pregnant with Caleb. That means Caleb’s ALWAYS been a house church kid. Can I tell you a secret? I’ve been SO scared that somehow my littlest love would know less about God or love Him less than my big darlings. They WERE ministry kids, after all. They went to the Sunday Schools and VBSes and Summer Camps and all that stuff. They got rocked in the church nursery by ladies that love Jesus and came home with lipstick marks on their cheeks and clothes that reeked of grandma perfume. How would Caleb EVER begin to match their God-stuff pedigree? Back to Sunday morning.

We sat in the living room finishing up house church and were closing with prayer. Caleb came to my lap and sat there quietly while Janet prayed. He whispered to me “I want to pray.” I said “Ok, Mrs. Janet is talking to God now and then you can pray.” “No,” he said “All of us pray.” I finally caught on that he meant he wanted us to say The Lord’s Prayer together, as is our tradition every week. Janet finished and another person chimed in his prayer, then I let everyone know Caleb wanted us to pray the Lord’s Prayer. As we did, my baby boy prayed along with us, keeping up with the words, and finishing up with a loud AMEN!

In a very quiet way, I realized that our unforced rhythm is being used by God to work His grace in all our lives. He doesn’t need my metronome to tell Him how to show Himself to me or my children. As I’ve been trying to keep my eyes on Him, follow as best I know how with brothers and sisters and babies He’s given to me, He has still caught the heart of my boy. And this Sunday, my babies worshipped alongside their dad and me, another dad and his kids, a single guy, and another couple who have become as close as family. They had someone to play in the yard with them, hug them, affirm them, and little Caleb had his choice of laps to occupy and arms waiting to wrap around him. God’s family played out right in our living room as it does week after week. Simply loving Jesus is catching, my friends! Perhaps it’s those unforced rhythms of grace that capture our hearts anyway, no matter where or how we engage with the church. It’s Jesus Himself that becomes so wonderful, so irresistible, so all-sufficient.¬† It’s been Him all along.

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My church “metronome” went out the window a few years ago, and I won’t lie, it ain’t easy to let go of all my church-ey labels and security blankets.¬† Sunday mornings look like this instead of a pew-filled sanctuary.¬†¬†¬†I’m learning to simply love God, follow Him sincerely, love His word, and walk humbly with the people He places along the same path. I’ve pried my fingers time and again off of the old confidences I held because of my Christian pedigree and I’m learning to look to God as¬†Conductor. These unforced rhythms are making for a lovelier sound than I ever thought possible.

 

 

 

 

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Goodbye, Old Friend

A sad goodbye was said today. My old buddy, the Melitta Mill and Brew Coffee Maker bit the dust.

I have no memory of where I got this coffeemaker, but I’ve loved it. I think he came along in the aftermath of Katrina.¬† I don’t remember buying him, but don’t remember having him before the storm.¬† Wierd, I know.¬† Anyway, it grinds and brews. It’s programmable, so it has greeted me with hot coffee many mornings. Ol’ Mill and Brew had one drawback. He was a lil’ complicated…needed somebody who knew just which buttons to push, just how to make him work. So I was saddened to discover that someone worked Mill without that special touch. A tiny little tab that held the top closed during brewing and grinding was snapped off.

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See it there in my hand? The tiniest little piece broken off and the whole pot gone to…. well… gone to pot!

There are a lot of lessons in this. I stared at that tiny broken piece and God reminded me that sometimes the most insignificant seeming piece can be the difference between working and not working. I’m reminded that God values me, even when I feel like the tiniest piece of forgotten black plastic. He values the little ones in my home and expects me to do the same. He values the small details like smiling while I help my husband and holding back a remark about what I’d rather be doing. He values the itty bitty details like remembering a name, taking time to notice when someone’s had a bad day, and looking my kids in the eye. Little things, my friends. They DO make a big difference.

Sometimes I get frustrated because I can’t pull off the big stuff. It was nice to be reminded that it’s the little stuff that often makes the biggest difference.

 

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These are the new guys!¬† I couldn’t afford another Mill and Brew (those things are EXPENSIVE, makes it even more puzzling that I don’t recall paying that much for a coffee maker…still no clue where I got it…but I have a feeling some kind soul gave him to me.¬† Thank you, whoever you are!)¬†so I got a Wal-mart special and a cheap-o grinder.¬† I think I’ll call them Sylvester and Tweety!

In other news, have ya’ll seen YouVersion?¬† No clue how I’ve survived this long without this app.¬† It even reads OUT LOUD to me!¬† I can set it on my daily reading and it reads scripture to me while I’m getting dressed, doing makeup, whatever.¬† I’m into this, ya’ll.

Also, MY BABY DROVE for the first time!¬† I know.¬† It’s crazy!!¬† I’m so proud of her.¬† She did great!¬† Driver’s Ed class and permit, here we come.¬† He’p me, Jesus!

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Also here’s a couple shots of last Thursday evening with the Jeffries-Hyman family.¬† We bake, yall!

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Mackenzie’s rosary bread for the St. Joseph Altar.

20130317-223146.jpg¬†The whole gang workin’ away!!

Man, my life is full of good things!  Love!!!

 

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Minivan Mojo

I’ve finally got my dream car.¬† It’s a sleek silver seven-seater.¬†My husband is way too cool to drive it, but when I get in it I feel like the coolest, ever.¬† I’ve called her Sylvia.

Me N Sylvia

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being a minivan mama.

First, there’s the fact that it’s the ideal mode of transportation for children.¬† The seats are just at the right level so that my toddler can get in and I can buckle his seat belt while standing up straight.¬† No longer do I have to lean in and over to wrestle with the buckling two-year-old while my rear end (“trailer” as my daddy would call it) is the only part of me out in the daylight.¬† Try this in a skirt and you’ll go directly to your local minivan dealership. ¬†No longer do I have to try to figure a graceful way to back¬†my behind¬†out without hitting my head or falling, readjust the clothing, and look around hoping nobody was watching my show.¬† Sylvia’s got my back (side) and has preserved my dignity many-a time. ¬†There’s a veritable playground in there, so I can open the back, toss in the toddler, and load groceries to my heart’s content knowing he’s safe and sound, out of the parking lot… and he thinks it’s the greatest since he got to climb in the back.¬† There is room for several gadgets at once, so the two-year-old, ten-year-old, and teenager can all travel in harmony and comfort.¬† Whether we’re going two blocks or a thousand miles, this does untold wonders for my sanity.¬† Since my minivan is practically a living room in itself, I can climb in with the kids, close and lock the doors and take my time getting everything situated and ready to go.

Second,¬†there’s the thrill of driving the minivan… alone.¬† There are the compartments and pockets and cupholders, all with MY stuff tucked away just the way I want it.¬† I get in, shut the door, start her up, and breathe in the cavernous space behind me.¬† Space.¬† My space.¬† Quiet space.¬† Maybe this isn’t a big deal to you, but I haven’t peed by myself on a regular basis in almost 15 years.¬† I share a bedroom with a guy who likes everything just-so.¬† I’ll often come home and my bedside table will be bereft of the books I’ve been reading or the earrings I stuck on the dresser top so I could grab ’em quick will be back in their hiding place… and he’s a chef so the kitchen isn’t exactly my domain either.¬† But my van… (hear soft music) my van is my space.¬† Drop the last kid off at school and honey, you’ve got a bubble bath on wheels all to yourself for ten whole minutes!!¬† I’ve got napkins, snacks, a change of clothes (for a two-year-old, but still…), magazines, makeup, and a little money all right where I want and need them to be.¬† I’m sorry, Sylvia’s not available for loanership. But I just may invite you in by calling you on my hands-free blue tooth system.¬† Sylvia knows all my friends’ names and numbers and calls them on voice command.¬† I’m not trying to show off, I’m only sharing my shock and awe that I actually figured out how to make her do it.¬† Sylvia’s very discreet and won’t leak a word of our conversation.

Haven’t made a believer out of you yet?¬† Well, don’t discount the minivan’s romance factor.¬† Add a couple of pillows and the right beverages and “parking” takes on a whole new level of luxury.¬† (Also disproves the misconception that married people with kids no longer have fun.)¬† We can steam up windows with the best of ’em.¬† (So what if we don’t leave the driveway?)

Sylvia holds my extra brochures and business cards and keeps the pee-pee accident kit discreetly hidden.¬† Or she’ll proudly display the toys and dirt and roll up to the playground lookin’ like the mommy-mobile extraordinaire, with extra wet-wipes to loan to the mom with the Camry.¬† She’ll seat a business executive and won’t (hopefully) leave an old french fry stuck to his pants.¬† Or she’ll open her doors to six of my girlfriends and become the ride of our lives.¬† Sylvia can serve a family dinner if need be, and even has a kid-watching mirror so I can glimpse mine enjoying ice cream or cheeseburgers or whatever we’ve found to get into.

Maybe it’s silly… but ol’ Sylvia makes me feel like I’m ready for whatever my wonderful life demands of me.¬† I’m thinking about getting a theme song and some loudspeakers… maybe hydraulics….

Maybe not.¬† But it’s still ON like pecan when Sylvia and I get on the road.¬† Grab ya sunglasses and let’s go for a ride!!

 

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Biscuit Maker

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I’m on a mission:¬† Re-create my Granny’s homemade biscuits.¬† My Origins house church family has become my test group.¬† (They haven’t complained too much about this.)¬† My first try involved regular milk and butter.¬† Nah… not so good.¬† It’s not that they tasted bad… just not like Granny’s.¬† So the second try, which created the mess you see above, involved buttermilk and yes, that little jar you see toward the left is bacon grease meticulously preserved for just such a purpose.¬† I also tried a different technique with the cutter.¬† Straight down, straight up, no twisting the biscuit cutter.¬† Into the oven…

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At this point, I wanted to bottle the smell in my kitchen.  Sausage in a skillet on the stove, buttermilk biscuits in the oven, and coffee brewing in the pot.  Add in my family and friends laughing together in the next room and you have BLISS!

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And there they are… ta da!!!¬† Still not Granny’s.¬† BUT better than anything you can get in a freezer bag or a can, I guarantee!¬† Made with my own two hands.

I think perhaps biscuits are one of the finest expressions of southern femininity.¬† Maybe it’s just me, and the biscuit-making women I knew growing up.¬† But there’s something about a woman who can make biscuits from scratch.¬† Something that says love and comfort, patience and peace.¬† It takes practice, so the biscuit maker must be a woman who has cooked for someone else more than once.¬† It takes some intuition, since biscuit making is shrouded in a certain mystery about just when the dough is ready and just how much handling it can tolerate.¬† It takes some willingness to get dirty, since there really isn’t a better tool for biscuit making than one’s own hands.¬† It takes¬†determination to go the extra mile, since these days anyone can make do with a can or a mix, or a fast food drive thru, and fewer¬†kitchens know the kind of¬†time and¬†effort involved in from-scratch anything.

More than just possessing the culinary technique, I want to BE the biscuit maker.  I want my life to emanate the sweet, smiling softness that is a biscuit maker.  I want to put a few extra minutes and a bit of extra thought, and a lot of extra love into the tummies of those who sit around my table.  Biscuit makers have open arms for babies and hot coffee for friends.  Biscuit makers know that a few very simple, very inexpensive things can come together to make something delicious.  Biscuit makers know sweet tea and porch swings and what to do with both on a Saturday afternoon.

I’m blessed to have memories of lovely biscuit makers, and now I’m giving my own kids biscuit making memories too.¬† I hope they’ll not only have a yummy recipe to emulate, but a way of life, too.

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Hurricane Schmuricane

Here we are, seven years out from Hurricane Katrina, and what comes along on the EXACT anniversary of ol’ Kat? ANOTHER HURRICANE!! This one was named Isaac, which means laughter. For some reason that fact has been recurring in my mind the whole time we’ve been dealing with Isaac, and I’m happy to report we’ve done a lot of laughing through this. No real traumatic feelings or flashbacks, thanks be to God. Just did our best to be good to each other, make the most of what we had, and have fun however we could.

We stayed home for Isaac. Oddly, though my big kids experienced losing most everything in Katrina, plus the crazy aftermath, they’ve never actually experienced a hurricane weather-wise. So here we are, playing in a hurricane!

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Bex, my bike mom and dear friend, weathered the storm with us. Here we are making smores the night of the storm. (Smores maker courtesy of my awesome mom, queen of thrift store finds and As Seen on TV bargains)

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A few shots of the damage around our area:

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THE WORST part was being without electricity. Here’s our little man sleeping in front of a fan. Thank God for friends with generators!¬† WE will soon be the proud owners of just such a thing.

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Here we are waiting in line at McDonalds. All the way down the block. When everyday stuff like ol’ Mickey D’s isn’t available, all of a sudden you want some. Real bad.

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Since St. Francis Villa got electricity a few days before our home, the kids spent some time there. Not a lot for kids to do in an assisted living home, but my darlings made the best of it:

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When Friday rolled around and one cook was able to get back to relieve Dwayne in the kitchen, we got out of town for a night. (Residents gotta be fed, storm or no storm!!)We swam in the hotel pool, met some sweet people, relished the air conditioning, ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel where I sniffed Yankee candles, Harvest scent, to a fare-thee-well and found my happy place!!

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We came back home to this!!

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And now it’s over. Well, I guess when schools finally start again Thursday, it will be over. I’m grateful to God for choosing, this time, to bless us and spare us the suffering we could have had. He giveth and He taketh away. This time He giveth, and I’m glad He did.

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Round Three: Some days

Round Three: ¬†DING!!! ¬†(OK, I’m getting sick of the boxing metaphor so from here on out, I’ll just tell ya stuff I’m learning, ok? ¬†OK.)

Here’s what I’m learning: ¬†Some days will be better than others.

One major trigger for my sadness and depression is when my kids have to go visit their father.  I miss them terribly.  It is during those moments without them that I feel most vulnerable, scared, and alone.  This summer, their leaving and then some subsequent difficulties that my daughter experienced while far away from me, had me at an all-time low.

The kids are back home with me now, and I’ve felt a small measure of relief. ¬†The last several days since I picked them up have been good ones. ¬†Then last night, Caleb, my littlest, would NOT go to sleep. ¬†Until midnight I dealt with his crying and screaming. ¬†By then, I had enough adrenaline pumping to give me some kind of super power. ¬†Around about 2am, I finally fell into a fitful sleep. ¬†Fitful sleep not good… since I’ve learned from my beloved counselor that REM sleep is the only time the brain produces serotonin… and honey, I NEED that serotonin. ¬†Do you hear what I’m sayin’? ¬†About 4am, my little insomniac climbed up in my bed, sealing the deal on a sleepless night for me.

Did I mention my husband slept through all of this??? ¬†I believe the word “comatose” accurately describes it.

Now, before you get your hackles up (YES that is a REAL expression. ¬†Google it if you’d like. ¬†My boss did just a couple of days ago since he didn’t believe such a phrase existed.) you must know that my husband rises very early in the morning for work. ¬†He functions with a level of energy that would easily outrun a 20 year old. ¬†Then he comes home before I do in the evening so most nights he has dinner ready when I get home. ¬†You should, indeed, feel at least minor annoyance with me for complaining that he slept through this, but I’m just bein’ real here. ¬†In spite of him having perfectly good reason to sleep like a rock, I still felt frustrated and alone and a lil’ bit angry that he didn’t lend a hand with El-Scream-o.

By this morning, I was in tears. ¬†Dwayne was heading to his mom’s house with the kids. ¬†He was off today. ¬†I missed my mom. ¬†I wanted MY mom. ¬†I wanted to be at home with my children. Nothing made sense and the sadness was taking over. ¬†He dropped me off at work, and I exited the car as fast as I could. ¬†I cried in my coffee cup when I got inside, then sucked it up and started work. ¬†Throughout the day, my head pounded and my heart weighed 1,000 pounds in my chest. ¬†I went ahead and let myself feel it. ¬†I refused to check out, but tried during the spare moments I had, to sort out what I was feeling.

I chalked up a good bit of today’s angst to last night’s lack of sleep. ¬†The rest, I talked to God about, and we’re one step closer, one day closer to wholeness.

Some days, my friends, will be good ones. ¬†And some days won’t be good at all. ¬†Every day is still a gift, an opportunity to learn, a chance to grow. ¬†Even the bad ones can bring breakthroughs.

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