Saturday, May 23, 2015

| What's for Dinner? |

    Because of the fact that I don't normally have the evening's dinner planned out by 7:00 in the morning is the exact reason why I loathe the question, "What's for dinner?" If our 21 year old daughter is not calling after work to ask the question, then our little ones will ask until I come up with a dinner option that is palatable. 

    To combat my intuitive reaction to spout out some sarcastic response like, "crow's feet with mustard relish and a side of roasted squirrel," I came up with a plan. Although this plan took effort and time, it was a perfect solution to the seven a.m. question, the 4:00 p.m. phone call, and the first question out of our 18 year old's mouth when he came home from school.

    I found large sticky notes like these and created a menu for the week. Sticking this list in a visible spot for our kids to see not only helped me to plan well for a week's worth of dinner, but the kids then knew in advance what was planned and no longer asked, "What's for dinner?" If they had a sudden urge to ask the neighbors if they had room at their dinner table for one more body, I carried on, ready to supply a bowl of cereal for those particular children. 

    The question asking has stopped, and, if I can figure out a way to get them to shop for all the food, prepare the meals, cook the meals, and consistently chew with their mouths closed, dinner time would be perfect. Oh, and having them do all the dishes would be helpful as well. I don't ask for much.
    What are you serving for dinner?

    Friday, May 15, 2015

    | Parent Tip | 

    "I'm Bored"
    After our boy told us that he was bored, I ignored him while he ventured into the backyard. Armoring himself with a black and gold swimming life vest and a golf club from his father's bag, he began climbing around the grassy area, stopping every now and again to wield his club and shout at the trees. I watched for a moment and was somewhat annoyed. Why the swimming vest? What is he doing? Is he planning on swimming in the dirt or golfing in the pool? 
    I continued to watch as he jumped off the short ledges of the bricked in grassy area and climbed steep, short, inclines leading up to a row of tress and bushes. Knowing that he had homework to do and noticing that the sun was slowly approaching the horizon I slid open the glass door and asked, "What are you doing?"  He was hunched to a squat poking at the dirt and didn't hear me at first so I shouted, "What are you doing?" Returning to his upright potion he came closer and replied, "playing pretend." 

    Being bored isn't such a terrible thing. When kids are bored it forces them to get creative. Before feeling the pressure to shove an iPad in their hand, begin another episode of Doc McStuffins from your recorded list of television shows, or create a verbal list of 62 things to do when you are bored, pause. Let them figure out an option, let them stroke their imagination, cause them to create, or to play a round of pretend. If after 10  minutes they are still incessantly demanding an option from you, give them something to clean: the dog, their toys, the tires on your car, the widows, the iPad screen. There is always something that needs cleaning--even if they just pretend.

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

    “ . . . live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”  Colossians 1:10
    Although the words “Cat fan” will never make it to my resume under “hobbies” I was engrossed watching an online video of a kitty opening a door to a laundry room to escape. I am easily impressed. I was equally impressed when hunkered down, ogling over a massive hot dog covered in ketchup, mustard, and a tight row of raw onions sat a four year old girl excited to dive into her lunch. I stared, expecting the girl to unleash a fit of rage when she took a bite of her hot dog and the rough, onion taste bit her back, however, she chewed, as the edges of her mouth turned upward in a satisfied grin and she leaned back in her chair to chew in utter content and satisfaction. I continued to stare out of shock. Had the authorities been in close range I would have been arrested for over stepping my starring boundaries.
    It takes large amounts of prodding and cash to get our kids to venture over to garlic bread from toast and butter. Raw onions would never happen in our house.
     “I am so impressed that she likes raw onions.” I said to the mother understanding her concern for my gaze. “I have always given them to her so she has always eaten them.” She replied. I shook my head in disbelief as my kids sat eating their cheese pizza leaving the crust on the plate because it is “gross” and picking the “burnt bubbles” off the top of the cheese. Admittedly, that gene was passed down from my side of the family. Raw onions and burnt cheese bubbles taste terrible.
    In the New Testament, Jesus tells stories about people who seemed to impress Him. Although that isn’t possible, Jesus is smitten over the widow who gives the only coins that she has left, the shepherd who spends hours looking for one sheep while the other 99 wait, the faith of a centurion who asks Jesus to “say the word” and his servant will be healed, and the pack of friends who send their injured comrade through roof of a building on a cot so that he could get in front of Jesus and be healed. These people do simple acts with mighty faith. They are unrecognized, unassuming, and unpretentious. They do the right thing not the impressive thing.
    Although it is impossible to impress God, it is not impossible to please Him. Simple acts of faith, obedience, sacrifice, submission, and love, please God. He loves when we serve others without needing recognition, act lovingly without setting off lights and sirens, and when we give anonymously.
    Pleasing God should come naturally, but it does not. Impressing others should never matter, but it does. When we learn to please God and to neglect our need to astound others, peace will ensue. And even if you are old enough to have acquired a taste for raw onions I probably wouldn’t be too impressed unless you were eating them while riding a unicycle around an ice skating rink while holding a cat. That’s impressive.

    1.     In what ways have you become too satisfied with impressing others instead of pleasing God?
    2.     What are some specific ways you can please God this week?

    Saturday, February 8, 2014

    I love them.

    “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24 (NIV)
    There were two tests that every girl must pass in order to become the perfect runway model at Henshaw’s Department Store. When standing straight with your feet together your legs must touch at the calf and knee, and you must master balancing on one leg while supporting a book on your head. My legs were too skinny to touch and my poise was poor so after my 8-week stay in modeling school, I was dismissed—epic fail.
    My charm, composure, and stature, had no merit in the modeling world, which I was certain to be the perfect career for this sixth grader. Any hopes of draping trendy outfits plucked from the department store racks over my tall frame for the Fall Fashion Alive show were wasted.
    In spite of my failure to be model perfect I still had a measurable dose of confidence and self-esteem and learned over the years as my relationship with Christ grew, that God doesn’t expect perfection from me. With that I can breathe a sigh of relief. He created my legs and the rest of my body exactly as He intended, off balance and broken. I, like everyone else have flaws. When I look closely at the defects in my character I have to make a choice. Do I remain the same, convinced that I am whom I am, or do I seek to make a change to become who Christ intended me to be?
    As I read God’s Word, the Bible, I learn how to act, think, and speak in a way, which pleases Him. In addition I learn that as I read, I need to apply what I have learned to my every day life. And contrary to what others believe, choosing to follow what is written in the Bible and following God’s standard for living righteously doesn’t hinder my fun, it hinders my pain. God desires progress not perfection
    Since leg liposuction and knee augmentation are out of the budget I have to rely on the fact that I can still pop a wheelie on my bike to make a good impression, unless my ridiculously delicious made-from-scratch carrot cake sounds better since my modeling skill have been shelved.

    1.     What imperfections are you allowing to keep you from believing that you are perfectly created by God?
    2.     What changes can you make today which allow for more Christ like character?

    Monday, April 8, 2013


    Birthday milestones are fun when you are turning ten. They are equally fun when you are turning 13, 16, and 21. The fun leaves, and the "ugh" arrives after twenty-one. I cannot recall any 29 year old fist pumping because they are about to turn 30. In addition, I cannot recall the moment in time when you stop wishing that you looked older and begin to wish that you looked younger. These two episodes must coincide and I'm guessing that it all happens around the age of twenty-nine.

    Our oldest boy is not nearly as excited to turn 17 as he was to turn 16. Other that becoming legally able to purchase a ticket to an "R" rated movie and reading Seventeen magazine for the first time as an actual 17 year old (him personally, but other girl variety 17 year olds), there aren't many perks which come with seventeen. In fact, those who are seventeen spend the last half of the year telling people that they are almost eighteen. Anticipating the next birthday for six months can't be much fun.

    Our other boy turns 12 this year. There are not many perks with that age either. He told me the other day that next year he will really be grown up. Turning thirteen is so much cooler than twelve, unless all of those notorious body changes have you wishing you were eight again.

    The youngest of the family turns 10. Now that's a milestone, I'm told. Double digits mean something amazing, I'm just not sure what. Does it mean the exit of adolescence and the entrance to pre teen, or is it simply the exit of those pesky single digits which are associated with preschoolers and blankies? Double digits hang out exclusively with other numbers, and in pairs, and altogether, like a party. Whatever the reason, it's big although we don't have big plans.

    Our daughter turns 20 but not until December. She exits her teen years and will enter the age of a 20 something. She will have the option to say "I'm in my 20's" or "I am almost 21." People expect more from a 20 year old. By this time she better be capable of hard boiling an egg and doing a load of laundry along with a whole host of other things otherwise I have failed as a parent. Fifty years ago, 20 year old women were married and had children, and were doing much more that boiling eggs and making sure that the darks and whites didn't mix in the washing machine. I'll take the 21st century expectations over that.

    I just turned 50. Milestone yes, but definitely no fist pumping involved. This year I'll settle for raucously celebrating, ten, twelve, seventeen, and twenty, and in addition, thanking God for 50 amazing years and a spectacular husband and family.

    Monday, April 1, 2013

    Near Death

    When I decided to "mix things up" in my exercise routine, attending "Boot Camp" at 6:30 a.m. should not have been one of those options. Had the coffee shop nearby opened at 6:00 a.m. instead of 7:00 a.m. my unwillingness may have diminished more quickly. Six thirty in the morning mixed with no caffeine, sprinkled with 40 degree weather, was the perfect storm. Remembering  the treadmill which was located inside a 70 degree room was taking its toll on my will power.

    While mustering every ounce of energy I had, I pulled on my running pants, zipped my jacket and walked to the field house where the boot camp was taking place during a conference I was attending. I was the first to arrive. The instructor gave me some descriptions of the class and filled me in on what I could expect---misery.

    Sixty year old lady and her husband were next to arrive and then two young gazelles free of make up and body fat. I surmised that I was first going to die from attempts to keep up with the gazelles and second that I had a good chance of beating out the 60 year olds and coming in 3rd place. Even though this wasn't a race I knew that there would be mental point distribution is one way or another. I had to make my mark quickly and stay in the game. The mental challenge caused me to break into a sweat before we even started.

    The class began, and with a hint of pride, I took first place in "jog around the gym." Before I could question whether or not this class had any hopes of challenging my cardio stamina we burst into 30 jumping jacks, another lap, 30 squats and leaps into the air, another lap, 30 push ups, another lap, 30 burpies, another lap, and then 30 high knee marches. By this time I was about to pass out but stopping was not an option. Sixty year old lady and her husband were keeping up without a problem and naturally, the gazelles we leaping and dancing as if this was just an exercise in fun.

    When instructed to grab a yoga mat I was certain that the next 30 minutes would be devoted to abdominal work or more push ups that I could fake my way through but when everyone was then issued a medicine ball I knew that the next 30 minutes would perhaps be more painful than the first.

    The details of the last 20 minutes are fuzzy. I slipped into unconsciousness several times, lapped water from the drinking fountain like a weary hound dog after an entire day of hunting, and fell exhausted onto my mat for the final 5 minutes of stretching.

    The gazelles exited before the final stretching and barely broke a sweat, 60 year old man left but lady stayed, and at then end of the class the instructor had the audacity to ask me if I was okay.

    I refueled on guzzles of water and a large coffee, welcomed a hot shower, and popped some ibuprofen anticipating sore muscles. I will never, I repeat never, attempt boot camp again, ever.