Monday, April 25, 2016

You can make your own (bad) decision

An open letter to my precious child:

I love you, and I want to keep you safe.  I know, though, that I can't protect you from every bad thing in the world for your entire life.  Some day you're going to fall down and get bruised.  You're going to have your heart broken, if only a little bit.  You're going to fail, get hurt, and struggle.  Everyone does.

Even if I could protect you from every hurt and pain right at this moment, I don't think it would be a loving thing to do.   There are lot of lessons in life you just have to learn the hard way.  You can't learn resilience without failure.  You can't learn to apologize without being wrong.  You can't learn to keep on keeping on to do hard things if you've always had every obstacle removed from your path.  You'll need those skills for the road ahead.

Because of this, my little one, I've decided that you can make your own bad decisions.

I try to be wise as I let you choose.  While I know getting hurt is inevitable, I don't want your body or your spirit to be damaged beyond reasonable repair.  I will ask myself if you will need first aid or the emergency room, and if it's the former, I'll let you decide.

I will use my extensive life experience to help guide you and to inform you of likely consequences.  I will say things like, "If you play there, you might get hit by the swing."  And, "If you buy that, you won't have money for the other thing you want."  And, "She's not nice to you in person, I'm worried what she'll say behind your back if you hang out with her."  Then I will let you go ahead and stand there, buy that, and hang out with her.  Later when you are crying, I will hold you and help you recover.

I will not say, "I told you so."  I will, however, hope you've learned something, and the next time a similar situation arises, you can look back on your own bad decision and make a better one.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Story I Tell Myself About Myself

We found out there was a problem with the outside wall of our downstairs bathroom in October when we had our windows replaced.  We hired Husband's cousin to come and fix the problem.  The day he came to "open up the wall and see how bad it is," he completely removed the wall, including the studs and the base plate, and took the other three walls, the floor, and the ceiling down to studs.

We started shopping for tile after he finished removing the bathroom from our house.

If you've never shopped for tile before, here's what you need to know: any given tile store has hundreds of options, and tile is expensive.  Husband and I were overwhelmed with choices, and felt immense pressure to make the "right" decision because of the money we'd be sinking into the tile job.  Every evening that husband didn't have a meeting we spent tile shopping, and two weeks in we were both feeling pretty stressed by the whole situation.

I started to tell myself this story: "This remodeling project has me feeling more stressed.  The level of stress I'm experiencing is more than what I should feel.  Clearly I'm not coping."

Sunday morning I was walking to church praying about how overwhelmed I was feeling when I had the sudden realization that the story I was telling myself wasn't helpful, and it wasn't the only story I could tell about the situation.  In psychology, they call changing your internal story cognitive reframing.  Given that reframing fixed our bathroom wall's problem, it seems only fitting that reframing my thinking would fix mine.

Here's the new story: "I feel stressed by this project, but I'm still accomplishing the things I need to accomplish.  Meals are getting cooked, laundry is getting cleaned, and children are being cared for well, despite my feelings of stress.  Clearly I am coping."

I can't tell you the number of times I've counseled someone else on ways to reframe their situation.  Somehow it's more difficult to see the stories you're telling about yourself than to recognize the stories others are telling about themselves.  Recognizing the story, though, is the first step to changing it.  Especially when you can't actually change the situation, changing your perspective can be a huge help.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

#HolyLens Week 7

Monday- March 21- Wait

Husband and I spent the evening planning his June sabbatical.  He decided during the conversation that we absolutely should not take another placement before the end of June, because he won't be able to accomplish what he needs to do for ordination if we have new foster kids while he's on sabbatical.  I feel good about that decision: it will give us a full six months to recover and regroup after the end of our first placement, and it will allow him the time he needs to both relax and get significant work done on his ordination paper.  We've made a decision to wait.

Secretly, I also really hope we don't get any calls before then.  It is always hard for me to say no, even when it's a bad fit.

Sunday- March 27- Rise

Happy Easter!  Husband and Z rose early to go to a sunrise service at Lake Michigan.  I hear it was lovely.  I celebrated by staying in bed with my littler littles.

I'm going to be straight up honest that I failed at the last week of this Holy Lens project.  I remember that there was something I was going to write about Wednesday night, but my parents were in town, so I didn't, and then I completely forgot to revisit the blog for the rest of the week.  *sad trombone noise*

It is, however, Easter, so I'm going to release myself from going back and revisiting the words for the week.   Blessings!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

#HolyLens Week 6

Monday- March 14- Rest

I am enjoying a season of rest.  A season where there are just enough kids to cuddle all of them while reading together.  I know we'll get another placement, and life will disintegrate into chaos again.  And even if we didn't, not every season is as calm and lovely as this one has been.  But, my goodness, I am enjoying this.

Tuesday- March 15- Cry

This morning L and I were looking at the photo album from last spring.  I realized later that I hadn't pulled pictures off of Husband's phone since last September, so I went through his camera roll in the brief lull after dinner.  I can't post pictures of B and G here, but seeing the difference in G between the beginning and the end of her stay here was so touching.  I was in tears looking at the pictures of her laughing with V and Z after Thanksgiving dinner.

Wednesday- March 16- Free

Z slept poorly last night and begged to be allowed to stay home from school today so that he could take a nap.  That child hates naps, so if he's asking for one, you know it's serious business.  I'm so blessed that I don't have to work for a paycheck, so I was free to say Yes.  We relaxed and read books, and Z took more than a 2 hour nap.

Friday- March 18- Call

At the Church Easter egg hunt, there was a plate of "Vegan Deviled Eggs." They looked a bit like deviled eggs, but were obviously Yukon gold potatoes halved and partially scooped out. They were topped with paprika and chives, but the yellowish colored filling was a mystery. 2.5 hours into the 3 hour event, none had been eaten. I tried one and reported to the woman running the kitchen that they were actually filled with humus. She relabeled them "Humus stuffed Potatoes" and in the last 30 minutes, half of them disappeared. The moral of the story is twofold. 1) Nobody thinks "Vegan" sounds delicious. 2) If you call the food what it IS, people are more likely to eat it than if you call it what it ISN'T.

Saturday- March 19- House

Friday night we went to see the circus.  Husband was performing as a juggler, the culmination of three months of practicing both juggling and unicycle.  The big kids had a wonderful time.  L liked the first act, anyway, although he ran out of patience for the second.

Husband had two circus performances today, the last two of the four this week.  His best performance was the matinee show, where he caught all of his juggling tricks in both acts.  For the evening show, a huge crowd of people turned out in support of him.  People from church, the leadership of the Hispanic congregation that meets at our church, his sister and a coworker, and some youth group students, all there to cheer my husband on.  I stayed at the house to take care of our tired kids, who needed to recover from their late night on Friday.

I'm proud of this man's hard work.  I'm really glad he had a wonderful time.  I'm also profoundly grateful for the supportive community around us who came out to watch his thirty seconds in the spotlight.

I made his Imperial Officer costume, by the way, for the Star Wars themed juggling act.  What do you think?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

#HolyLens Week 5

Sunday- March 6- Taste

Menu for the week:
Sunday, Leftover Buffet.
Monday, Pork and broccoli stir fry, brown rice
Tuesday, Spinach Fritatta, bread, roasted cauliflower, ginger pickled carrots.
Wednesday, Quesadillas, guacamole, refried beans, salsa.
Thursday, Tuna noodle casserole from scratch with a lot of veggies.
Friday, Burgers, buns, Asian coleslaw, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Saturday, Chili, brown rice.

Tuesday- March 8- Walk

The weather was glorious today, and I was watching E, the child of a good friend, so we spent a good chunk of the morning at the playground.  Walking there and back was funny, because E was only happy riding in her stroller for about 10 seconds, and then she wanted to get out and walk.  However, after 10 seconds of walking, she would decide she wanted to ride again.  We made it the 2 blocks there and the two blocks home stopping every 10 seconds to rearrange seating.

Thursday- March 10- People

My people, enjoying the weather.

Friday - March 13- Sent

Husband was supposed to leave work a little early and pick up his sister to come here for dinner on the way home.  Traffic delayed my sister-in-law by an hour, though, so I ended up grilling our burgers on my own, which I had never done before.  Z had an amazing week at school, and we had promised him a family outing to Dairy Queen as a reward.  Unfortunately, by the time I made, ate, and cleaned up dinner, I was in no mood for anything.  So I sent the family out to DQ, and I stayed home to read a book.  They came back with their ice cream, and even brought some for me.

Saturday- March 12- Rescue

"Mommy!  Mommy!!  HELP!!"  I rescued them by tickling Daddy.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

#HolyLens Week 4

Sunday- February 28- Fruit
Grocery shopping today I bought Anjou pears, mandarin oranges, mangos, Braeburn apples, parsley, cilantro, celery, carrots, peppers, cauliflower, avocados, butternut squash, cucumbers, zucchini, ginger, lemons, and mushrooms in quantities to feed my 5 person family more than generously.  What a bounty!  All for less than $35.  I am so blessed.

Tuesday- March 1- Remember
Today is Boy's 2nd birthday.  My family is remembering him today.  V has been coloring pictures for Boy and Girl since Sunday, and talking about her good memories of their time living in our home.

Wednesday- March 2- Father
I'm not sure why I so seldom photograph my parents.  Typically, they come down from Wisconsin about twice a month and stay overnight.  They bring dinner for all of us and leave before the kids take their naps the next day.

During today's visit, Grandma gave us a quilt show featuring her handcrafted quilts.  You can see my father reading to V on the couch behind her as she unloads her boxes of beautiful creations.  It is such a pleasure to have my parents so deeply involved in my children's lives.

Thursday- March 3- Hear
Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Friday- March 4- Love
There are so many ways to demonstrate love to the hurting children involved in the foster care system, to their parents, and to their foster families.  If you've got a heart to help, you don't have to be a foster parent yourself.  Here's a list of 101 practical ways you can show love Christ's love to people involved in foster care.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

#HolyLens Week 3

Sunday- February 21- Light

Enjoying a cup of "coffee" before church.  Daddy had the big kids at the car wash, so I got to enjoy a few quiet minutes alone with L.

Monday- February 22- Rock

L is two.  Although he is generally a pretty easy-going kid, meltdowns and tantrums are a thing for this age, and he has his fair share.  I've learned, though, to be pretty comfortable with meltdowns.  I'll admit that I still get frazzled when there are things to be done rightthishotsecond and a kid is out of control wailing, but when there's nothing too pressing on the agenda, I've gotten good at just holding the space for the unhappy kid.

I say what's happening, and then I sit and wait.  Today it was: "You want to stay outside, and it's time to come inside.  You're very upset."  After a few minutes, L generally comes to sit on my lap, and then I continue to sit and rock him until he's had his fill of crying.  When he's all done with his cry, we go on with our day.

It took a long time for me to be ok with just rocking my little while he finishes working through his bad feelings.  It's easy to want to just end the crying, by distracting with toys or treats or insisting on quiet.  Feeling bad feelings is part of life, though, and learning to move on after you're done feeling is a good skill.  So for now, L wails, and we rock, and it's another day.

Tuesday- February 23- New

I was lamenting to a friend that Z and I have nothing we consistently enjoy doing together.  He's got things he loves, and I'll join in when I have the chance, but I'm never excited to play Legos or to watch him play Minecraft.  Last week I randomly got the idea to introduce him to the Dada game Splendid Corpse.  The basic set-up is a piece of paper folded in half for each participant.  Each person spends 6 minutes drawing the top half of a strange creature, makes sure a few lines cross the fold, and then passes their paper to the next person.  Each person then has to complete the creature that was passed to him without having any idea what the previous person drew above the fold.

Z loved it.  I had a ton of fun playing with him.  It's our new thing.  Whenever we get 15 minutes, we sit down and play a round together.

Want to see a few examples?

Wednesday- February 24- Serve

My SIL, who has a standing invitation, showed up at 10 minutes to dinner time.  The original meal was supposed to be sushi, which she can't stand, but I decided Wednesday morning that I wanted ginger pickled carrots in my sushi roll.  I prepped the carrots, put them aside to pickle, and made Thursday's meal for Wednesday's dinner instead: loaded baked potatoes with roasted cauliflower and rapini.  Everyone was delighted with the meal I served.

Friday- February 26- Sow

We went to the Museum of Science and Industry today.  We've got a membership this year, so that maybe wasn't a huge deal.  I did keep Z home from school, though, so he felt it as a special treat.  Each kid picked one exhibit.  Z picked Numbers in Nature, which included a really cool mirror maze; V picked the space exhibit, which was a disappointment to her, because it was all about NASA and space equipment, rather than being about stars and planets; L picked the farm, where V enjoyed watching the video of a calf being born over and over and over and the boys pretended to drive a combine for almost an hour.

I learned that tractors manufactured since 2010 have contained more computer technology than NASA spacecraft during the Apollo era.  As in, every spacecraft that ever went to the moon had less computer technology than the average farmer parks in his barn.  That's amazing.

Saturday- February 27- Merciful

Today was a good day.  We walked to the library in the beautiful warm sunshine.  Husband finished his first draft of the rewrite for our church constitution.  We had friends over to play Settlers of Catan after dinner, and husband won.  God is so merciful to give us this season of rest.