Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Wedding, A Graduation and a Grandbaby

Once upon a time I had time to write a Christmas letter on beautiful Christmas Stationary. Some years I even made it out before Christmas. I love receiving Christmas letters so I took the time to compose one, but no more. Lately, my days are consumed with working part time at our church, learning Shurley Grammar with my two youngest children (If you don't know about Shurley Grammar, count yourself very fortunate), and most recently a Science Project about the absorbency of Charmin vs. Kirkland brand toilet paper. So the Christmas letter never rose to the top of my to do list. For my own historic purposes and just because, I decided to write a short Christmas blog post.

Among years at our house, 2012 turned out to be quite eventful. After a whirlwind romance, Kristen and Ben were married in a beautiful Spring outdoor wedding in March. They played the odds on the weather and won! An angel from heaven disguised as my dear friend Greta swooped in at the last minute to save the day after a wedding planner debacle to make everything beautiful and perfect. Thank you Greta! The ceremony was performed by my sweet Father who married them with powerful and heartfelt words from God's word. My sweet girl never looked more beautiful and I had a really good hair day too!

May brought the graduation of our family's very first doctor, when our son in law Jason graduated from the Medical College of Georgia to become a Physical Therapist. We were honored to be in attendance as not only Jason but other young people received various health degrees to begin practicing medicine, proving there are some fantastic millennials in the world!

One month later in June, Lucy Marie made her dramatic entrance into the world to make Laura and Jason first time parents and more importantly making us grandparents. The whole grandparent scene took me completely by surprise. It seems that my love is exponential where Lucy is concerned. I haven't quite figured out why this is except that I love watching Laura and Jason parent Lucy. Even better is how crazy Eric is about Lucy! It all stacks up way more fun than I thought it would be.

In October we celebrated 5 years with our little kids who aren't that little anymore. One has surpassed me in height and the other two are gaining fast! Can't believe it's been 5 years. Can't believe God entrusted us with three more children to train up in the way they should go, three more children to love, three more children to teach us more about God's love for us all.

Speaking of love, Eric and I celebrated 30 years of marital bliss in December. Saying yes to Mr. Jakstadt was the best decision of my life! We celebrated 30 perfect years together in the beautiful city of Charleston and stayed in a very nice hotel. The hotel was a far cry from the one that was still under construction we stayed in for our honeymoon in Dallas, Tx! No matter, I loved the company then and still do.

At Christmas time more than usual, I am filled with thankfulness. I thank God for the gift of his son Jesus. I came into the world not knowing that I would need a savior, but He provided one in his son Jesus. Thank you God for Jesus.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Very Impatient

It's nice to have a great husband. And by great, I mean makes me breakfast every morning great and sometimes lunch great!  Most of the time this is fabulous. At times, this can be less than fabulous. He is right far too many times to be normal and rarely makes mistakes unless you count boat and dock repair incidents which I do not have the time nor the space to recount. Nevertheless, the other day he mentioned to me that I was very impatient with the kids one evening. Not just impatient. I heard very impatient.  I'm 90% sure I heard very. These are not the words one wants to hear coming from her husband and father to her children. Why do his words have to weigh so much? Ugh.

 Of course he was right, again, and I knew what I had to do. I had to apologize to the kids. How embarrassing. Wasn't this the very thing I had just gotten onto my middle schooler about? What kind of mother am I? Obviously a very impatient one. My moment arrived when we were all in the car on the way to school today. I told them that I was sorry for my grumpiness the other day and asked if they would forgive me. My youngest daughter said, " That's ok." and then my son said. "I forgive you. I'll always forgive you." Wow. It sounds like he expects more apologies will be coming in the future. No response came from my middle schooler. I'll cut her some slack though. She's 13. I'm not even sure she heard me as she proceeded to launch into a story about how her nose was itching during the night. No matter, I was happy to be forgiven with the added bonus that I would be forgiven again should I ever need forgiving. Not a bad drive to school if you ask me.

Monday, October 29, 2012

10 is enough, for now anyway

Last weekend I spent the weekend with my immediate family which has grown to 10, 13 if you include pets at our lake house. For self preservation I've enlisted help with meals from our older girls so I'm not solely responsible for feeding 10 all weekend long and I have to say their meals are my favorite to eat!

With 10 people, coming to any kind of decision in regards to activities is 10 times more complicated. Going for a morning walk is my favorite activity in the whole wide world, especially with Laura and Kristen. We cover lots of ground on our walks and I'm not just talking miles. Well, this time, Kristen wanted to take her two little city dogs along which could be dicey due to the rural nature of our neighborhood, and I use that term loosely. For some reason every neighbor has not one, but at least three or four dogs that we must contend with, usually by wielding a stick and praying. Then my younger two want to join us but L  had only packed his flip flops and S only her winter boots. It might be a tad early to let them do their own packing. We discussed at length which would be worse, for L to wear flip flops or his older sister's hiking boots from last year. Kristen commented that S looked like an American Eagle ad with her swim wear and furry winter boots and her usual sassiness! Once we decided on footwear for everyone we were out the door by noon for our morning walk.

Our main reason for going to the lake was to celebrate Laura and Ben's birthday and more importantly to play with Lucy. Lucy, and I realize that I'm completely biased, is not only captivating in appearance and personality, but she is the most good natured baby I have every known. She smiles easily with anyone who holds her, even when awakened from a nap! She was sleeping during cake time and Laura didn't want her to miss the party so went to wake her up. Sweet Lucy obliged and came sleepy- eyed and smiling to celebrate her mommy's birthday, shades of terms of endearment if you ask me. Another time she was left in my care to bathe while Laura and Jason went out on the boat. I laid her down in her pack and play to run the water and when I came back she had already fallen asleep on her own.  I had to wake her ( poor baby gets no rest!) and she even suffered through my clumsy bath with the silly sponge I was instructed to use. I already pity her siblings who will  be compared to her. Lucy has set the standard very high.

Eric and I regularly discuss selling the lake house.  It is hard to find time to go, a financial drain, difficult to maintain and manage long distance,  etc. yet oddly we always change our mind when we are there. It must be the extremely small kitchen where we must maneuver around each other like a game of tetras during meal time. Or perhaps it is dealing with the constant repairs and maintenance of a house that is 30 years old that we find appealing. It could also be dealing with the repairmen who over charge for marginal work done on their own time. Probably though it is that we really love spending time with each other, even the dogs. I'm going with that last reason!

Monday, October 15, 2012

To dye or not to dye

I still haven't made up my mind on whether or not I will embrace the natural graying of my hair or cover the gray. My hair is just barely starting to sprout them (Thank you Daddy!) so I have some time to try the coloring scene out. The whole scene seems like a huge time waster, not to mention money waster. I made an appointment for Saturday morning with my 9 year old son in tow to discuss my options and try something subtle. As I stepped down into the coloring section of the salon, I could tell something was different about that side of the salon. The stylist were decidedly cooler starting with my colorist Nevada who would be doing my hair. Her attire was an off the shoulder black tunic over black leggings with black tall boots. My son even told me later that he noticed most of the ladies had on boots there so it wasn't just me.

 Nevada who described herself as an artist examined my hair, showed me some pictures and went off to mix color. She then introduced me to her assistant, Rain who was wearing a black lace jacket over a black tube top, a black micro mini skirt and Pretty Woman black patent tall boots. She proceeded to give me a head massage ( I'm not sure why) Does it make the color go in deeper? I'm mainly contemplating where all these hip black clothes are purchased as I have never seen them at Gap or Banana Republic. I was then asked very nicely to go sit under a rotating heat lamp which gave me an even better vantage point of the live fashion show before me. I failed to grab my readers so I could read the magazines which btw is the most annoying thing about entering the golden years. I tried to squint and read but derived no enjoyment. The timer began to go off on my heating lamp when I'm not kidding an assistant to the assistant came and told me that she would be washing my hair until Rain was available. I've decided that I need at least one assistant in my life and two would be lovely. All I know is I felt really bad for the assistant to the assistant as I'm sure she did anything and everything no one else wanted to do. I also noticed that the assistant to the assistant wore the least hip clothes, baggy black slacks, nondescript black top and probably didn't have a cool name either.

 My color turned out barely noticeable which was the goal and Rain gave me a fabulous blow out. In my next life I would like to be a colorist so that I can wear hip black clothes, have a cool name and multiple assistants. Yes, that life is looking pretty good right about now.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

No Fear

After experiencing just one year of public middle school, we made the decision to move our younger three children to a Christian school. It didn't take long to realize much has changed since our older two were in middle school and not for the better. Thankfully, we found a wonderful Christian school not too far from our house (though it was difficult giving up the bus transporting my children to and from school).

I spent the spring and summer attending Open Houses, filling out applications and purchasing school uniforms and supplies. I found the school administrator to be delightfully intimidating and wise in our interview. She had me at hello! She let me know in no uncertain terms that the transition to the school would be difficult for my children. Was I ready for private school? Maybe. While I found the lack of communication frustrating at the public school, the private school I'm finding tends to over communicate. Do I really need a play by play of every volley ball and soccer game played, both varsity and JV? I have been to exactly 3 separate open houses to meet the teachers, 3 separate parent orientation nights and next week and I'm not kidding, will be three separate teacher conferences with their teachers.

On the plus side, I have memorized 6 passages of scripture to this point and at the rate of two per week for the next 3 years, I will have memorized roughly the entire canon of scripture. This is fabulous! No need for Sudoku or Crossword Puzzles to keep this brain going.

There are also lots of rules. I love rules. I am usually the rule maker so it's nice to have someone else making the rules for a change. There are drop off and pick up rules complete with color coded number cards and a 3 lane pick up configuration, as well as uniform and homework rules. I already broke one pick up rule and got a phone call from the office.

The best thing about our move to Christian school is that my children love it! I'm not sure why since their homework load has increased three fold. Weekends aren't even off limits. The one and only reason I am  going to a PTA dinner this coming week is because they are giving each child a homework pass! I am not proud. I know it is God's provision and blessing that my children love their school. God is not only welcomed, He is acknowledged and honored there.

I know it's early yet and we have many more hours of homework to log but I will not be afraid.

Week 3 Bible Verse grade 4-

Have I not commanded you, Be strong and courageous. Do not tremble or be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Squirmy Fuzzy Worm

This past Monday we celebrated 5 years since we adopted our three youngest children.Somehow I almost missed our special day. Thankfully Eric brought it to my attention and suggested we do something to commemorate the day 5 years ago when our lives were changed forever. That took the form of taking the kids to Hobby Lobby and coming home with an eyeball, and brain, not real, to soak in water so they would grow, a squirmy fuzzy worm, again not real, and a kitchen chemistry set, real.

In a way, I am not surprised that I almost missed the milestone. God in his grace gave us one day at a time and next thing I knew, it had been 5 years!  This weekend, while listening to my youngest read Stuart Little (not an easy book to read for an 8 yr. old in my opinion) and review addition flashcards, I had to marvel at how much she has grown, how much she has learned and how very much I love her. Becoming a family happened inexplicably really. 5 years ago, we began a journey together, every day getting to know each other, little by little trusting each other and growing to love each other.  God bound our hearts together in a way that only He can do. Adoption was his idea to begin with and He adopted even more kids than we did!

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to  Himself, according to the kind intention of His will. Ephesians 1:5

I'm so glad He adopted me and I am so glad that we adopted our children. While the journey has not been easy, it is glorious. We have God himself guiding us everyday. We give glory to God alone for the past five years and for every year to come.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hair today

It is not a good idea to tell your hair dresser that you are thinking of doing something new with your hair. It is true I had gotten to that near desperate time with my hair when no matter what I did, seemed to grow during the day and I would end the day looking like Chaka Khan. It takes on a life of its own after awhile. I was in a vulnerable state to say the least. She suggested shagging it (wasn't that popular in the 60's or 70's) which did not even sound good and then she showed me a picture which I did not like. Unfortunately I did not have a clear picture of what I wanted so I agreed to a longer version of the picture. Then the cutting fest began. It was like throwing red meat to a ravenous lion! She was cutting like she had never cut before! She eased me into it by not cutting that much off in the length and then proceeded to cut short layers so that I ended up looking like a teen aged boy trying to be cool. As soon as I walked in the house, the kids said, "Your hair is short!" Amazingly, my husband did not notice that there was anything different. I'm sure it's a survival technique that he discovered early on in our marriage when confronted with a disaster of this magnitude. He's also going through a crunch at work and wouldn't notice if I came into the room naked.

The only way to handle this is to act like this was my plan all along when really I'm doubling up on hair growing vitamins and waiting for it to grow. It makes no difference whether my hair is long and bushy or short and shaggy, it will take the same amount of time to deal with it. I either need to calm it down to make it look less voluminous or now fluff it up to make it look like I am a female. No matter, this is not the end of the world, right? I just need to get through work tomorrow when I will hold my shaggy head high and walk confidently in the office. Of course, there is the chance that they may not recognize me in which case they will call security and I'll get the day off!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Lucy Show

I escorted Laura and Jason and Lucy home from the hospital two days after she was born. For someone so small, she managed to take over the entire house and the complete focus of all three of us. We found her to be distractingly cute and all we could do was gaze at her. She reminds me of Mary Poppins as she is practically perfect in every way. I can tell already that she is highly intelligent and she has almost mastered saying Gigi, just a little more practice and she'll have it.

I was along as the Love slave to do whatever Laura and Jason needed me to do. The problem was, I couldn't tear myself away from Lucy to get anything useful done. I didn't serve dinner the first night until 9:00 P.M. which was bad enough. But even more embarrassing, I forgot about the chicken and almost burned it! Clearly I would have to focus if I had any hope of proving myself worthy and being invited back.

The next day, my mission was to get Laura and Lucy safely to  her first doctor's appt. Laura was suddenly aware of every bump in the road and I was implored to drive slowly so as not to disturb Lucy.  Lucy had lost some weight after birth and the doctor wanted to see if she had put any of it back on.  That's a switch! I hope she is enjoying this period of her life when gaining weight is a good thing. She did successfully put on 2.5 oz. so she is on her way! Her mommy impressed the pediatrician as she whipped out Lucy's feeding/diaper chart that she had been keeping since her birth. I have a feeling this is only the beginning of the documentation of Lucy.

On day four of Lucy's life I transported her and her mommy to Target to get some supplies. She didn't find Target terribly exciting but did her mommy the favor of sleeping contentedly in her stroller the entire time. She's thoughtful like that. The trip was well worth it though to find some cute bows to coordinate with her hip wardrobe. Look out Princess Kate, Lucy's in town!

Even though Lucy's arrival was one week earlier than her due date, she knew exactly what she was doing all along. She knew that her daddy needed a few days to get used to her so he could focus and study on his very important board exam on Monday. She is also very considerate and is keeping her night time feedings to a minimum and goes right back to sleep. See what I mean, practically perfect in every way.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Head over Heels

Babies have a way of arriving when they want to arrive and Lucy's arrival was no different. On Sunday afternoon, Laura and I had planned that she would be induced on Tuesday after Jason's board exam.  Any other day of that week would have been perfectly fine also with regards to my work schedule, child care, the 4th of July holiday etc. Laura had requested that I be in the delivery room with her which would make things even trickier as far as timing. I was so excited and honored to be invited to this special occasion of Lucy's birth.

I was awakened at 5:00 A.M. with a phone call from Laura the very next morning, which was fully one week and one day earlier than what we had discussed. Lucy was ready to make her arrival, plan or no plan. The sound of my sweet girl's voice sounding a little scared propelled me into major planning, packing mode. I was still a little dubious about how long her labor would actually take, but was not taking any chances. After returning library books, notifying work that I would be taking the week off, dropping the kids off at VBS, Pat Conroy and I were on our way to Augusta to usher my granddaughter into the world. I was happily listening to The Prince of Tides when Jason called and told me that Laura's labor was progressing faster than expected. Unfortunately I still had miles to go, I was running out of gas and the speed limit was only 70 which was not fast enough to get me there. I have to admit that I did indeed exceed the speed limit by quite a bit to make it in time.  I arrived in time to fervently pray and to strongly encourage my child, Laura, that she could indeed do this.

Only thirty minutes later, Lucy came into the world perfect and pink to parents who had prayed for her from the moment she was conceived. How precious to witness not only the birth of my beautiful granddaughter, but the birth of a family. Laura and Jason were in complete awe that their little daughter had actually come. I watched them fall head over heels in love with Lucy with every minute they spent with her.  They could not take their eyes off her, even to watch their favorite Design Star TV show on a real TV ( a real treat because they don't have cable) or to eat! I couldn't help but see that this is just a picture of how much our Father in heaven loves us. He can't take His eyes off us. He delights in us.

He will take great delight in you. he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

It is humbling to receive the gift of God bringing Lucy safely into Laura and Jason's heart and home.  What incomprehensible goodness from God for me to see my child become a parent of her own baby daughter. There is nothing I can say but thank you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Very Long Drive

The forms were filled out. The money was paid. The bags were packed, or so I thought. It was time to load up my two youngest and drive them to their first overnight camp. My good best friend, Jan happened to be in town and decided to come along for the ride.  I armed her with the camp directions and off we went. The route would be taking us right by the outlet mall, what good fortune! With any luck, we could drop them off and have time to do some shopping before heading for home. Alas, this was not to be.

My son was uncharacteristically quiet and not hungry which told me that he was nervous about going to camp. My daughter who only gets nervous when faced with the prospect of getting a shot, was her usual chatty self. The first sign that the directions weren't the best was when we finally came to the road we  were looking for to turn on was not at the 3rd light as the directions stated, but the 9th or 10th. We were just glad to be on the right road. Next we were to drive into the town square and take a right on Church St. between the First Baptist Church and the Mountain View Community Bank. We found not one but two First Baptist Churches not on Church St. and we found a plethora of banks, none of which was the aforementioned, much less the right combination of the First Baptist Church on Church St. across the street from Mountain View Community Bank. I  approached the square from every direction, sent my gbf inside a sketchy convenience store to ask for directions and still no luck. My son stated, " I'm starting to get a feeling of worry." which is better than I'm starting to get a feeling of throwing up. Worry I can handle. No luck at the convenience store or even the school bus driver I pulled beside to ask directions. My gbf decided to send me this time into the larger of the two First Baptist Churches we had found. I asked the nice pastor if he could give me directions to the camp that was somewhere near the town square. He asked me for the address and proceeded to tell me the devastating news that I would never be able to find the camp because I was in the wrong town! He then started talking very slowly and he actually walked me out to my car to make sure he could physically point to the road which would lead me to the right town. Really, the wrong town! Who goes to the wrong town??

The end of check in time was fast approaching and the feeling of worry was increasing all around as was the need for food, water and a potty all of which we did not have time to stop for.  It was time for prayer and God did not let us down. Cheers all around and a big "Thank you Jesus!"when we finally spotted the sign for the camp. We were met with a camp counselor, clip board in hand as they were closing the check-in stations. To my horror I spotted a pile of color coordinated daily care packages lovingly prepared by other campers moms. Not good as I had forgotten to write letters. Since we were the very last campers to arrive, we got last choice in beds so I had to climb in my flip flops to the 3rd tier bunk bed to make up my daughters bed. Looking around at the other already made beds that I realized I also had not brought a blanket/sleeping bag as only sheets were listed. I rationalized that their exuberant twenty something counselors would think of something and quickly left as they were already behind schedule. We were on our way home and realized that I would not be able to rest thinking my children were freezing with no mail. My gbf Jan and I turned the car around to look for a store that sold blankets and stationary. The Family Dollar came through for me! I found two blankets, one Happy Birthday card and one Congratulations card to leave for them with money for the store. Not my finest Mommy moment!  Next, I would sneak the blankets and into their cabins and locate the office to leave the letters.  I almost made it, but my son spotted me and waved. He was walking very close to his counselor, but didn't run for the car, a good sign.

My gbf and I were now back on the road and hopeful that we could find our way home. We were also starving as it had been 5 hours since we left for the 1 1/2 hour trip to camp. We stopped to eat and I treated my gbf to dinner for her patience, sense of humor and company on our adventure. We felt much better after we ate, despite having to drive right past the outlet mall without stopping, something we have never ever done.

I'm not sure my gbf will every get into the car with me or my children for that matter. I learned many things that day: One needs to pay for the GPS voice activated app in order for it to work, always pack a sleeping bag for camp no matter what is stated on the packing list and above all else, take a gbf with you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Carpe Diem

On Friday, my son-in-law Jason received his doctorate in Physical Therapy. He did so  along with 750 other students who graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta with various medical degrees. The stadium was filled with proud families, many white haired and walking slowly on the steep stadium steps of the arena. As I was seated in my frigid not very comfortable stadium seat, I found myself planning how I could rescue one particular sweet lady with a shirt that had appliqued daises on it if she started to fall as she was making her way up the steps. I never did actually come up with a plan in which both of us wouldn't fall to our deaths so it's a good thing she made it. What made them risk life and limb to come watch their grandson or granddaughter receive their degree? It was written all over their faces that a dream had come true for them, for one of their own to become a doctor or a nurse or a physical therapist. The whoops and cheers and even blow horns, could not be contained even though we were admonished to please refrain until the end. Who could blame them? Behind every graduate's name that was called was sacrifice both from the graduates who had grown tired long ago of studying and also from their families who had worked hard every day to fund them.

This day is so joyful, so hopeful for these young people who can finally begin their jobs doing what they have trained to do. These young people are the future of medicine and I have a feeling I will be calling on them one day in the not too distant future. I don't think there was a happier place on the planet than in that arena that day.

Thank you graduates for sticking with your education when you didn't feel like it. That lesson alone will take you far. After too many ridiculous images of Occupy Wall Street, these are the images I will think about. Society thanks you. I thank you. Lucy thanks you!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Busbee Cabin

Sometimes you need to get away and that's just what we did last weekend. We traveled to Asheville to see a very talented friend perform in an Opera production of "The Sound of Music". I knew it would be stretching my children to take them to a performance which began at 8 PM, their normal bedtime, but was willing to give it a shot.

We reserved a cabin a little outside of town  since there was a flower festival going on at the Biltmore Estate and all the hotels were booked. We were actually met in the road as we approached Busbee Cabin by Liz the owner who apparently wanted to give us the once over before we stayed there. She and her husband walked us inside and showed the remote controlled fireplace which the kids loved, who wouldn't! It also had a hot tub which is now a requirement when we travel. The next morning, we decided a hike up Chimney Rock would be more appropriate for our clan than touring the Biltmore. As we were leaving the cabin the next morning, who should we meet but Liz and Bill! They wanted to give us hiking suggestions, see if everything was ok. This is starting to get a little creepy at this point. How did they know we were leaving? My daughter suggested that we invite them to come in the hot tub with us to thank them for letting us stay at their cabin! She was completely serious and more hospitable than me. I later realized that I had yet to make the final payment on the cabin. Maybe that's why she and Bill kept showing up.

As we were driving the winding roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I was wishing that I had passed out the Dramamine before hand as one or two of us is prone to car sickness. We arrived without incident and most of us were enthusiastic about the hike, everyone that is except our middle school aged child. She chose to fill our time expressing most everything she disliked about hiking, her fear of heights, allergies to grass, sleep deprived because of sleeping in a strange bed. Hiking on the other hand was the most awesome activity invented to my son. There were 500 steps going up to Chimney Rock and he ran every one of them, some of them twice! I'm definitely adding Sherpa to his list of job possibilities in the future. It was exhilarating for sure, but I spotted a pregnant woman and a senior citizen smoking a cigarette who were able to do it! We would climb up Chimney Rock  complainers and all! We made it to the top and were all rewarded with some hot tub time.

The time finally arrived for the play. The usher actually told us that the performance would be longer than the movie! We would never make it! Since this was an Opera production, we had the youngest attendees in the crowd. My 8 yr daughter with her souvenir owl stuffed animal, Seymour was seated next to an octogenarian. It was reported to us that our son farted during the performance and we had to confiscate his souvenir handcuffs, but otherwise a successful outing! They loved the production slept in a little the next day, a winning combination! Yodel- ay-hee-hoo!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cupcake Blues

My children, sad to say, are going through what I hope is just a season of lying, sneaking, and stealing. No parent wants to discover this, yet somehow I must find a way to consider all joy!It is difficult to not feel like a complete failure as a parent when I have been charged by God with their moral and spiritual training.

Sadly this time it took the form of sneaking Easter candy and even frozen Gigi's cupcakes from the garage freezer before dinner. For those unfamiliar with Gigi's cupcakes, they are not ordinary cupcakes, not in any way. They are cupcakes on steroids, huge in size with equally huge mounds of super sweet butter cream frosting piled on top. I myself can only eat approximately 1/4 in one sitting and I love cupcakes! They were left over from Kristen's wedding which makes it doubly sad since they had to be trashed to make a point.

By God's providence, the culprits were discovered by their older sister who happened to to be looking out the window as they were hastily trying to consume them outside in the culdesac. Fortunately, they are still not great at hiding the evidence. I see this as precious time to pray for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to kick in as I will not always be around. I began with the spiritual implications of sneaking, etc. which brought no contriteness whatsoever. It wasn't until the brand new box of ice cream sandwiches along with any other sweet treat I could find went into the garbage that produced weeping and gnashing of teeth from one and a very long sad face from the other. This escalated into a full blown fit which brought Daddy onto the scene which is never good, So much angst was displayed that it honestly reminded me of when Esau traded his blessing for a bowl of soup in Genesis.  I'm starting to see the signs of a serious sugar addiction that must be addressed. This of course is just an aside to the more serious sneaking issue.

The discovery again of the sinfulness of my children while disappointing and discouraging, should not be surprising. God's word speaks of our sinfulness a lot. Sin is not pretty and it looks different for everyone of us. Yet, God still hates it and we should hate it too. Our only hope is to pray for God's grace every single day. I pray that my children would hate sin and love God and his word, that they would desire to do what is right in His eyes. In the meantime, it's fruit for dessert.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Finger Lickin Good

With Kristen's wedding came out of town guests of various eating/drinking/living persuasions who would all be at my house at the same time. There was my diabetic extremely healthy eating/never tasted a drop of liquor Dad and his wife with my Bud light drinking/carnivore brother and his wife. Throw in my niece who as an aside was packing challenged, bless her heart, and the usual suspects which are literally growing (can't wait for Lucy!) by the day, all hungry. I packed my refrigerator as much as I could, made everything I could think of ahead of time and hoped for the best. As far as I know everyone got fed even though I wasn't present for every meal since I was also busy with hair appointments and various other Mother of the Bride duties. 

A brightly colored bridal luncheon
On a sugar high!

We are family, Can you tell!

 I love my family with my whole entire heart. Since I am the child who moved away, I usually do the visiting. It's a penance of some sort that must be paid and paid. This was a rare time when my family came to my house for a change. And I do mean change. Many things were different around my house with my visiting family, God love them. My sweet sister-in-law is fond of indulging my children with candy, and anything else that comes to mind, like how about dying their hair hot pink and neon green and piling it on top of their heads wrapped around a standing coke bottle. Why didn't I ever think of that? The kids loved it with a capital L! She also succeeded in helping them catch a fish. It could have been the sugar emanating from their pores or the can of dog food that they punctured and floated in the water, who knows. She absolutely wins the gold medal for indulging! Everyone should have an aunt like her.

Trying to be accommodating to my brother, I also found my person physically inside a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant since I don't know, the year 1978. I can trace this directly back to when I would pick him up from working at Church's Fried Chicken reeking of grease and poultry. Apparently, it did not have the same effect on him.  I decided to go with the flow and act like KFC was a perfectly fine place to eat lunch. They do now serve grilled chicken which I did eat, but it has to be the only restaurant on the planet without any kind of salad! I was trying desperately to blend in, but this proved difficult when my son kept exclaiming,"We have never been here before!" and "Wow,this chicken is greasy!" The things we do for love...

I  did get my brother out on the kayak! He's more accustomed to larger, motor powered water craft out on the gulf, but he was a good sport.  A good time was had by all and Eric now has one less child to assemble things for.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Perfect Day

My daughter Kristen became a married woman on Saturday. Escorted by her father to Here Comes the Sun exactly at the moment the sun peeked from behind the clouds has to be my favorite moment of the day. Or it could be when her daddy serenaded her on his violin. Or it could be when my daddy admonished Kristen and Ben from God's word so beautifully. I definitely got off easy, only making myself presentable as the mother of the Bride and greeting people which honestly I love to do.

How many prayers have I prayed for this child, for her marriage, for this day? Prayers to pass an Algebra test and prayers for safety as she jumped her horse come to mind immediately. God's faithfulness surely brought her to this day!  The day your daughter marries is a turning point, when her focus turns to her husband and her life with him instead of life with us. Aside from her decision to become a Christian, it is the most important decision she will make.

Kristen's wedding took me back to my own wedding 29 years ago now when I married up and married Mr. Jakstadt. Turns out, it's who you marry that makes a happy marriage and somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good as Maria sang in the Sound of Music. Marrying Mr. Jakstadt was one of the best decisions of my life!. Of course I had no way of knowing this at the tender age of 22, but God knew exactly who He wanted me to marry and He told me so. Thank goodness I listened!

As Kristen and Ben drove away and the balloons floated into the sky, she looked the same but she was Mrs. Benjamin Small. I pray that life for her and her new husband will be as beautiful as her wedding day.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A walk in the rain

This week has been busier than most and that is saying a lot! This week we are hosting a missionary at our house which means I feel the need to create a clean, peaceful, holy environment- ridiculous I know. It's funny what one thinks one must do or not do in the presence of a missionary. I do consider it an honor to host someone who has heeded God's call to go to a foreign land to spread the name of Jesus. I'm also using it to the hilt with my kids. "Shh, the missionary is still sleeping." in the morning as they get ready for school at 6:20. The only problem is, the missionary has been kept quite busy with meetings, etc.and it was three days before they laid eyes on him!

Yesterday afternoon, the two youngest came in to ask if I would take them for a walk. My answer was perhaps, which is the best answer I have found in response to one of those questions. Perhaps gives some hope even if you really plan for your answer to be no but can't bring yourself to burst their bubble just yet. My son came running in to confirm if  it was true, did I say we could go on a walk? I truly did not have time to spend going on a walk. I had to tidy up for the missionary, which pretty much needs to be done on a constant basis. My youngest came inside and told me to get a jacket, that I would need it for the walk, but that it was by no means raining. Well, that was my out, it's raining! Ruining my hair is reason enough. I have never seen such a devastating look come across her face. I couldn't do it. Walking we would go. I don't think telling them we were going to Disney World would have made them happier. They jumped on their scooters/bicycles and off we went. What started out as a drizzle did become rain and my hair did frizz and curl in an unattractive way. But it turns out going for a walk was a fantastic idea. I loved our walk! They loved our walk! I'm so glad we went on a walk. I would even say it was the most peaceful, and even holy part of my day.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Real is better

In my constant quest for fitness that gets harder with every passing year, I play mind games with myself that work for the most part. You may have even played some of them yourself. I convince myself that baby carrots are a perfectly delicious snack food and I would much rather have them than say the extra cheesy goldfish that my children are eating. They are roughly the same color and size but that's about it. Funny, my kids always ask me for some baby carrots! They somehow have the idea that whatever I am eating must be better! In this case they would be very mistaken. I've also convinced myself that 100 calorie mini fudge stripped cookies are very satisfying and every bit as good as the regular fudge stripped cookies. Well, I happened on a box of See's candies from my anniversary and decided I should go ahead and eat one since I'd had the box since my anniversary in December. Well, my taste buds went Kapow! as I bit into the rich chocolate truffle. I realized right then and there that real is better. Real is amazing. Real cannot be duplicated. I love real! Now I know why Coke is the Real thing, or it was for a long time.

This got me thinking about other wonderful real things like relationships. There is nothing better than knowing a person for who they really are and being known for who you really are. It says that you both feel safe to be yourself. Likewise, there is nothing worse than a relationship that leaves you constantly wondering who they are and where they stand. I'm currently in one of those relationships with my middle school aged daughter who has entered the relationship abyss. While I realize that she can't give me what she doesn't know herself and that this is normal to some extent for the middle school years, it doesn't make it any easier. Especially for someone in love with real! I am not good at faking, not at all. I don't even like dyed hair, although I reserve the right to change my mind.

I am encouraged that two of my offspring successfully made it to the other side and we enjoy wonderfully close and real relationships today.  I am also encouraged that I have a real relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Master of Real. He not only knows me better than anyone, He longs to have a real relationship with me.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb... You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways, Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely O LORD.  Psalm 139 

Now that's what I call knowing someone!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Confidence with a Capital C

The age of seven has to be one of the all time greatest years of one's life. I'm sure there are exceptions, in fact thinking back to my own childhood, mine wasn't so great. The particular seven yr. old that I've been observing is my youngest and she seems to be having a super year! It could be that I'm contrasting her disposition with her sister's who started what is widely known as the worst years of her life, middle school. There is actually a James Patterson best selling book, Middle School, the Worst years of my life! Is that really necessary! This gives me the unique opportunity to enjoy my seven year old that much more. I figure I have four more good years if I'm lucky.

Seven is a year of amazing confidence in oneself, especially in one's appearance. She recently took the scissors to her hair and cut a large chunk near the crown of her head resulting in a section that sticks up unless it's wet down. No matter, she wets it down as best she can in the morning, puts on her head band and actually gets a lift like that "As seen on TV hair volumizing product, "Bump It". She goes from drab to fabulous! It's all in the attitude,isn't it. Not one minute of regret have I seen. I wouldn't be surprised if she made it a new trend in her class.

She chooses her outfits based on how they make her feel, not on whether they make her look fat. She adores wearing dresses and floats around the house in them frequently. She absolutely does not compare herself with perfectly toned models in Athletica magazine. Those magazines are of the devil. Who looks like that in spandex!

Her independent reading has really taken off this year and she reads with the very same confidence, almost a little too much actually. She reads just like my phone auto correct and fills in any words with the first thing that pops into her mind. We were on our way in to purchase a wedding gift and on the way in read, "Bed, Bath and Behind"! or her Key passage in Bible Buddies for the week,  Ruth 4, The Kinsman Reminder!

She has the answer to all of my problems like  my having to go to the salon to get a manicure. She informed me that I don't have to go anymore. All I need is Salon Express, a nail art stamping kit she saw on TV one day! She is an expert on how to do most things. In her opinion, she is really good at tennis, swimming, or any other activity she participates in. Her enthusiasm alone takes her a long way!

Yes, I will enjoy my youngest today and can learn a thing of two from her.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Consider the Librarian

I confess that I have had a long time love/hate relationship with librarians. What kind of hate monger could hate a librarian you may ask? Hate is too strong a word really. We have spent too many years just rubbing each other the wrong way. I realize now that the traits that I have previously loathed in librarians, I really envy.Traits like never being in a rush and careful attention to detail are traits that I would love to possess. In all my years of checking out books, they have never once made a mistake! Of course I wouldn't know if they had. After all, they are merely doing their job when they report the fines that I must pay almost every time I visit. I am actually doing the community a great service with my fine paying by keeping the library in the black. You are welcome! Librarians by nature exude serenity and calmness, something I'm afraid I struggle to maintain. Have you ever seen a frazzled or hyper librarian? Nope, doesn't exist. The pace of the librarian is indeed a great reminder for me to slow down my usual frenzied pace. Maybe one day I will even tell them how much I admire and appreciate them, if I can find the time!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy Me

On the eve of the day when my three youngest children return to school after Christmas break, I am a happy mom. Reflecting on the past 18 days of intense closeness, I am happy to say that I found them to be on the whole enjoyable. Last week in particular after the whirlwind of family gatherings, it was nice to settle into a more relaxed vacation mode. It takes a couple of days of transition when they are flying high from candy over-load at class parties and the anticipation of Santa’s arrival. I normally run a pretty tight ship so it’s fun to surprise them with special treats like, a sleep-over, a play date, a movie night, and ice cream before we buckle back down tomorrow for early morning reader’s club, math facts and homework. I loved hearing the conversations in the back seat, “Dude,” before every comment from my son’s friend. He must be the cool kid, because he actually came over wearing a herringbone fedora!  And, “You control it, don’t let it control you!” my daughter said to my son referring to his foot that somehow developed a mind of its own.  I enjoyed watching my son build interesting items of questionable usefulness with his carpenter’s kit like a name plate for our dog’s food dish. Although a very intelligent dog, as far as I know she can’t read nor can any visiting dogs. I enjoyed turning my middle-school aged daughter onto The Hunger Games even though the subject matter is about a lottery which calls for a fight to the death. She devoured it and I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it.
I admit sometimes it blows my mind that I am still pouring Apple Jacks into bowls at this stage of my life. At least they are whole- grain this time around! And everything does not bring a smile to my face like when my youngest daughter cut a huge chunk of hair from the side of her head creating an odd side mullet, perfect for beautiful Christmas pictures. Or when my almost 9 yr. old son opted to urinate in the bush in our front yard instead of using a toilet just inside the house!  But the precious moment when my daughter came to put her head down on my lap yesterday during the Mario Bros Bible Buddies Kick-off and when I saw them happily playing their very loose version of the game of Life somehow softens those other ones. These moments are always unexpected and fleeting but they are heavenly and they are powerful reminders of why I’m here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Christmas Santa died

“Daddy, tell me the truth, is Santa for real?” That was the question that our youngest posed Christmas Eve. She was the first of our 5 children that actually asked directly for the truth. Up to this point, I had done my best with the elf on the shelf routine, but was honestly running out of new places to put him every single day! Ernie as we had named him had become lazy and not moved at all a couple of times! We had taken them to see Santa every year for the adorable picture although we focused more on the birth of Jesus as the reason for the season. But kids at school start to talk in second and third grade saying that it’s really your parents.  What’s a kid to believe? We decided that we needed to come clean on Christmas morning. But how? When? While eating breakfast after opening gifts, Eric asked if she remembered asking him a question last night. She now had no recollection; maybe just receiving gifts from Santa had something to do with it. No matter, Eric plowed ahead giving the history of St. Nicholas combined with the spirit of giving and fun ending with the horrible truth that Santa is indeed not real. Regret was written all over her face for asking and our son I could tell was devastated. I knew that he was the hold out true believer when he was agonizing over and whittling down his list before his visit to Santa. Later that day, he finally broke down in tears saying that he was mad at his sister for ruining Christmas by asking that question. She compassionately told him to “get over it!” At least he wasn’t blaming us for lying to them all these years! Really though, I was happy to see the two of them looking to us for the real story instead of believing what they heard at school. I pray that they will remember that truth is good. Sometimes the truth hurts, but they can count on us to tell them the truth.

Happy Children before the knowledge of Santa was made known to them