Thursday, February 26, 2009

Can I Give Up Laundry For Lent? The Journey to Easter

I wish I could give up Laundry for Lent. It would be so nice for 40 days not to do a stitch of laundry. No washing, drying, folding, putting away or hunting down missing socks. The free time I would gain from giving up this little task (read nemesis) would be tremendous. It would amount to hours each week.

Who knows what I could do with that time. I could learn a new language, sew new drapes for my den and find time to go to the gym every day. The time I would have for my quiet time with God, contemplative Bible study lessons, and cooking gourmet meals for my family would add to the peace and tranquility in our home.

Then reality hits me. No laundry! We'd all be walking around in dirty socks, mismatched tops and bottoms, and sleep would be replaced with worry over the creepy crawlies in my sheets.

Instead of giving something up this Lenten Season, I'm going to do something. I'm going to be more deliberate about bedtime with my kids. I'm going to try to turn off everything going on from 8 to 9 and just focus my attention on the kids and their "stuff". I'm sure there will be days that I won't be able to do this; we'll be at an event, a game or have plans in the evening that will mean we rush home and go right to bed or I'll be at a meeting myself. However, it will be my intention during Lent to spend more time helping them wind down from their day, talk about big and little things, and read more together.

The fact that C is giving up his DS and PlayStation for Lent and my husband is giving up all forms of Solitaire on the computer should help make evenings more " family time" oriented.

Lent is a hard concept to grasp for kids. Our church celebrates the season with special services; Ash Wednesday, each Wednesday of Lent, and Holy Week, but we haven't really talked about the hows and whys. I think that this season my family is going to try to do dig in a little deeper. It's so much easier to do this with Advent as we prepare for Christmas and count down the days. However, it much more important to do this with Easter. Without Easter, Christmas would be just another little boy's birthday. Easter makes the reason for the season that much more meaningful.

I've found a few websites on Lent that my family and I are going to use to travel this road to Easter.

Join me on this Journey of Lent; A journey that leads to an empty cross, an empty grave and a life that never ends. What a journey.

If you have any good resources on Lent let me know.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Power Source Upgrade

Last week, my computer wasn't working. By which I mean, I pushed the power button on the tower and nothing happened. Nada! Zilch! I pushed again. Nothing. Played with the cords, the outlets, and pushed again. Same result; nothing. I said a quick prayer about why I really needed the computer that day and tried again.

Let's say I might have pushed the button 100 times, prayed over it, laid hands on it, and the result was always the same. I even left the room and came back in singing a happy jig and no power.

When I called a computer house call doctor, he said it was either a power source issue or my motherboard had fried. What! I had no idea what a motherboard was, but the thought scared me. I figured mothers are very important and therefore, this had to be very important. He'd come the next day at 6;00 p.m. for about $100 to check it out.

Two days of no computer. Possibly 100 of dollars for repairs and no promise of a computer by the weekend.

I was sad. Behind on some volunteer projects and unable to email people about upcoming events, meetings, and bible study; I had to call on friends to help me out.

Friday morning I went to my mom's bible study group. It was a small group. I had been late with the email. I lamented my problem about the computer and that I would be having a repairman out that night.

God then stepped in and answered my prayers in a big way. One of the moms said, "My husband loves to tinker with computers and could probably fix it for you this weekend. He does this for friends all the time." At this point, I might have volunteered to make dinner for this family for a month. No payment was needed she said. It was his gift and loved to share it with others.

I had not thought to ask God if He would send someone to me that could solve my computer problem. By evening, this dear friend's husband had come over and solved my problem in about 30 minutes. It was the "power source" and only cost $39.00.

A new power source. Sounds so simple to the right person. He knew exactly what the problem was and told me that these things happened to desktops about my computer's age. Quick and Easy.

I think sometimes my problem is a power source issue too. I wake up tired and stressed over a big to do list. I see the pile of laundry or the errands that need running, my power button gets over used, and the power goes out. I need to plug into a new "power source." I need to wake up early and get into the Word. I need to lay my petitions before the Lord and ask him for the power to get through my day. I need to do my bible study first not at the end of a long day.

This week, I'm trying to plug into my "power source" everyday.

Thank you God for lessons learned and chances to trade out the old for a new with all the power I need. Thank you, too for families who help others out by sharing their gifts/talents and all they want in return is a warm plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies. May I too find ways to share my talents with no expectations of return.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

WFMW: Reality TV Family Fun

There are only a few family friendly shows on television anymore. Too often. the language, subject matter. and overall disregard for the family makes most network and cable shows off limits during family viewing time.

In fact, last week during a snow storm, we watched Howie Do It as a family thinking that a little slapstick humor would be non-offensive. We had to have the kids leave the room while we waited for a "segment" to get over. The theme involved a bed/ skimpy clothes and a married women and ad executive. It made me blush. We miss the days of Candid Camera. All the humor, none of the gunk!

Amazing Race, the Sunday Night Reality Show, is our Family Reality Show of Choice. Sure, there are times we have to turn our kids eyes away and some of the "couples" cause us to have discussions about Best Friends, but the overall theme of the show is fun, exciting and we've "traveled" all over the world without leaving our living room.

Our family makes a game out of Amazing Race. Each member roots for two chosen teams during the entire season (race). We then pick a Restaurant for each team (no duplicates) and then the final team standing's restaurant is our next family dinner out.

Season 14 of Amazing Race started last Sunday, they are now down to 10 teams perfect for our family of 5. We waited until the first team was eliminated and the we'd gotten a feel for each team before we put in our bid. It was so fun to watch the hows and whys of the choices.

A picked her teams during the opening credits. Seriously! It was all about the looks and the attitude. She took the Cheerleaders and the Flight Attendants. Blondes, Cute, Young and had pretty color coats. This girl has her own ideas. Her Restaurants are Burger King and a local Pizza Parlor with a great game room. Let's just say we won't be disappointed if she is eliminated early on. Funny Note: A was worried about what happened to last year's teams. Where are those Frat Boys she asked.

M was a little more choosy. While she probably would have gone for her sister's choices based on style, she was looking a little closer at the brains and brawn. She went for the Siblings who are Harvard Law Grads and an Older Married Couple. She has dreams of her grandparents going on the Amazing Race. Her Restaurants are Buffalo Wild Wings and Texas Road House.

C was at Youth Group and had to watch the show on DVR, so we allowed him to chose with our help based on the opening credits and our suggestions. He has the Mother and Deaf Son who not only caught all of our hearts, but shows so much about C, too. Although he really wanted another power couple, we made him choose from our bottom three to be fair. He ended up with the dating couple Amanda and Kris. He's going for a local Japanese Restaurant and a Local Coffee Shop's Sunday Brunch Buffett as his choices. Honestly I'm cheering for him and worried he'll win again (he won last time) as I love Japanese food. Plus the rest of us deserve a chance in the winner's circle too!

Hubs probably the best game strategist in the group graciously allowed the children to pick first and as a result has a top tier and a bottom tiered team. His Stunt Men Brothers proved this week that they have lots of spunk and no fear, and his Father/Son Duo might look a little weak on all fronts. He has "shockingly" picked his two favorite types of food; a local BBQ Joint and a Local Mexican Place.

I am excited for my two teams: the Amazing Sister Athletes (that's what I call them) and the Married Hillbillies. The sisters will represent a down home Czech Restaurant with the most delicious dumplings and kraut, and the married couple will be my Mimi's Cafe selection.

Choosing teams, cheering for them, and watching them fall to defeat has been such a fun family time. It's great to talk about how they treat each other, how some complain too much, why others seem to have such great teamwork. Of course, how funny some of the jobs and customs the groups are placed in each week only addx to the fun. We've had some great belly laughs at their expense.

Stay Tuned for who wins Amazing Race 14 or join us in this fun activity and start your own group of restaurants and contestants. Family Fun Works For Me!! Check out other Works for Me Wednesday Posts at Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kit Kittredge Books: A Lesson in Hope

M and Bestemor in 2006 at AG Cafe / Kit and Ruthie Books/ Miss A with Ruthie Christmas 08

Kit Kittredge has been a member of our family since 2006 when M turned six and my mother-in-law took us to the American Girl Store/Cafe on Michigan Avenue for lunch and shopping. It was a Girls Day Out for all of us and the memories made will last forever.

Kit's best friend Ruthie Smithens became a member of our family this Christmas when A received her as a gift from "Santa". Together Ruthie and Kit, along with A and M, have made our home come alive with little girl play, cute doll clothes from AG and Bestemor's Sewing Room, and many hours of make believe.

I was a late lover of American Girl thinking they were a costly marketing ploy. I'm still not sure that little girls should have dressers for their dolls that cost almost as much as their own or pretend carriages that cost twice as much as a big wheel bike. However, the stories that come with the dolls and the life lessons they allow me to share have overcome my objections. It doesn't hurt that the dolls have no makeup or naked bellies like so may other dolls on the market today.

A and I have been reading the Kit Story Books at rest time each day since Christmas. We started with the Ruthie Book as it was our newest and most treasured. Once we finished that book, we have been reading the six books in the Kit series. We are within pages of finishing the last book. I'm getting sad to think this series is almost done. A and I have come to know the Kittredge family and friends through these books. While the books are quick reads, they are filled with wonderful adventures along with lessons on courage, hope, and perseverance. The characters have truly become our friends. A asked the other day what had happened to Kit's brother as he was missing for a few chapters. She was relieved when Charlie returned to the scene.

If you are not familiar with Kit, she is one of American Girls' Historical Dolls. She is a 9 year old living in Cincinnati with her family in the midst of the Great Depression. Her father has been forced to sell his car dealership and is unemployed. Her mother has turned their home into a Boarding House to pay the mortgage. Kit is a newspaper reporter with an eye for stories.

These stories could be written about today and the state of our current economy. If you believe the doom and gloom I hear each day on the news and witness Wall Streets ups and downs, it's easy to think we are in another " depression". I think the President is convinced that there is no good news to share with the country.

I'm choosing to look at the state of affairs today much like Kit and her family did I see a future with hope and courage. A and I have had some great chuckles over things Kit has done. We loved her Aunt Millie's crazy ideas and the "Waste Not Want Not Almanac" Kit wrote to document her ideas. We've found it so encouraging to see neighbor helping neighbor. We've enjoyed seeing people want to make it on their own without waiting for a bailout or safety net to help them out.

While at 4, A is really to young to grasp the economy or even what it means to be a consumption focused society, we have had some deep talks about ways we help others and ourselves. We've talked about passing things down to others and giving away toys and clothes we don't need any longer. We've talked about that while they might advertise Bendaroos every day on TV and give us the number to call, we don't need to rush out and buy them. We have plenty of toys right now. It's a lesson for not only the youngest member of our family but for me as well.

Enjoying Chinese Take Out on Saturday night as a family was just as much fun as a dress up Valentine's Dinner at a restaurant. My husband and kids have enjoyed the leftovers for two days. We enjoyed family time at the table and watched No Deposit, No Return, a Disney classic that was very inexpensive on pay-per-view. It was simple, fun and we helped the economy without breaking ours.

Kit Kittredge and Ruthie will be members of our family for a long time to come. I see many more hours of play and pretend in the bedrooms upstairs. I'm praying that the lessons learned from Kit and Ruthie about perseverance, courage, willingness to do with what we have, and not complaining are lessons that will outlast the dolls.

I'm wondering what books A and I will tackle next. I'm thinking about a little pig and friendly spider? Any suggestions? Just don't count on me wishing for a barn full of animals after that story.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Character on the Basketball Court

Basketball season is well underway around our house. I admit it's the one sport that I really do not get. I don't understand much of the game and don't really enjoy watching it very much. However, I am an excellent cheerleader anytime my kids are on the field, court, or dance floor.

I hoop and holler and get mad at the refs for fouls I think they do or don't call. With basketball however, I tend to just say good basket, good job, and go team!

This is C's seventh year of playing basketball. The first three years were with a Y team and the last three have been with an Upward Basketball program. He loves playing and we've been so impressed with the Upward program and the lessons they provide for life.

C is not what you would call a Basketball stud. If you recall, he is my math stud! He can play and loves to shoot hoops with kids in the driveway, but golf and baseball are more of his game. (By the way, I get those sports) Upward has allowed him to play on a team with like ability kids and not get too frustrated with the competitiveness of most sixth grade teams. The fact that they learn biblical principals and win awards for Christ Like Behavior is just an added bonus!!

A few weeks ago, I was unable to attend the game due to a crabby little girl and a tired momma. My husband came home and shared a story that not only grabbed at my heartstrings, but made me cheer for the team even louder at the next game.

It seems that on C's team there is a player who is "special" as he wears two hearing aids and lives in his own world much of the time. He's friendly and warm to the other kids and gets very excited when his father the coach cheers the team on . In this particular game, our team was ahead by a few points and C was trying over and over again to pass the ball to the coach's son. My husband said C would keep trying to get the ball set up for a basket and hand it off to the other boy. Meanwhile, our considerable lead was slipping. Hubs confessed that at this point that he was starting to get agitated and yelled for C to make a basket. He wanted him to get more aggressive and start taking shots. Come on, lets focus on winning was the thought that kept floating through his mind.

As the minutes ticked away, C continued along with another teammate to try to pass off the ball to their "teammate" .

At some point my husband said he had what you call a light bulb moment. He realized that his son had the concept of sportsmanship foremost in his mind. C wanted his new friend to feel good about the game. He wanted him to have every opportunity to make a basket and feel apart of the team. Winning wasn't the first thought in his mind, it was having fun and being a part of the team.

When C walked off the court at the end of the game, he was beaming. Not because his team had won, even though they did, but because the coach's son had gotten the ball a few times. No baskets for him, but lots of cheers, hoops and hollers.

It's true sometimes as parents that our children teach us some of the most profound life lessons by their actions. C's caring heart and sensitive spirit have inspired him to do some great things. They might not be life changing or cause the sports writers to feature him on the front page, but they've showed his true character. As a parent, could I ask for anything more?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

PJ Days and Bending the Rules

Today was a PJ Day! A loves to have PJ days. She stays in her jammies all morning. She rides in the car to school drop off in them, comes home, has some breakfast, and then spends the morning just hanging out at home.

Since she's in preschool three days a week and Wednesdays are our busy busy day, I try to have PJ day on Tuesday as a way to recover from the hectic weekend and rest up for the days ahead. I put on my cleaning clothes and do a few hours of chores while she plays, watches her shows on TV, and plays her games on the computer.

Normally, she gets tired of PJ's and agrees to get dressed around 11 a.m. Not so today. She told me last night as I was tucking her in bed that she was going to stay in jammies all day. At lunch, I tried to say no food for jammie wearing kids. She balked; I caved.

Right before rest time, I said "let's change". She looked at me with that look of "What are you stupid?" and said "If I'm going to take a nap, I'm staying in my PJ's."

When her brother got home from school at 3:00, he was somewhat shocked that I'd allowed jammies all day.

Likewise, when her sister got home at 3:45, she looked at me like I was crazy. My husband told me I'd never have allowed the older kids to do that when they were young. He's right. I should have.

At 5:15, we got home from dropping M at dance and the sun was shining, the weather was in the mid 50's (unheard of in Feb), and she finally caved. She wanted to play outside a little, maybe sweep the garage for me. I said "are you sure, it's almost night time". She's sitting with her brother right now watching Tom and Jerry dressed in clothes.

I learned a lesson today. The third child gets away with things I never would have allowed when I was a young mother. I had standards. Now, I have fun. I'm enjoying these days when she's content staying home all day with mom, hanging out, cleaning together, and folding laundry.

I wish I could have told my younger mom self to just chill a little. Expectations are good, but so are bending the rule moments and days.

If you are blessed to still have babies and toddlers at home, it's OK sometimes to wear PJ's all day. Who knows maybe next week, I'll join her in the PJ look. Guess I'm still afraid of the police pulling me over in the carpool lane at school.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sisters. Sisters. Never Such Devoted Sisters.

I come from a small family. All the way around. My mom is an only child. My father has one brother. I have a mom and dad and a brother. We joked that for a family reunion we would have to rent people. Not enough people to even make it worth a t shirt.

I never had a sister, but I wished for one. Especially as I got to my teenage years, it would have been nice to watch someone else go through the years ahead of me. My only cousins were both boys and younger than us.
As a mother, it's fun to watch sisters. My two girls, while four years apart, are great sisters most of the time. They will play, dance and sing together. M will show A the moves and A will copy them with laughter and giggles. Watching how different and yet how alike they are has been fun. My husband and I laugh that they will grow up wishing for the other's hair. M's is naturally full of body, thick, uncontrollable and she has lots. A's hair is thin, flat and grows slowly.

Last night, the sisters had a sleepover in M's room. We pulled out her trundle, brought up a portable DVD player, and they got in jammie's to watch a movie before bed. Then they talked for a while before sleep overcame them. They were so excited to get to do this while their brother was away at a friend's house. Sisters, It's really a fun relationship to watch!
I can remember when I was pregnant with A how I silently prayed that she would be a girl so M would have a sister. I figured, since they would be closer in age, it would make the most sense if they were the same gender. While they will never be in the same school at the same time, get to play on sports teams together, or go to school dances, they will be forever linked to one another. They will get to share secrets and trade information on dating, makeup, and someday mothering. What a blessing.

I have to admit that I am a softy when it comes to old movies with dancing and singing. I love to watch Singing in the Rain, Sound of Music, and, of course, White Christmas with Bing Crosby. I silently wished I had a sister so that we could go on the road together dancing and singing in night clubs wearing adorable outfits. Of course, the singing and dancing talents aren't really there nor is the old fashioned night club in vogue, but a girl can dream.

The thing my heart misses the most is a sister to do all those things with or to lay in bed at a sleepover and whisper with. I think God knew what he was doing when he sent two little girls to our family. They can be sisters. I can watch and encourage and nourish their relationship forever. I get to cheer on the sisters.

I might even sing the "Sisters Song" from White Christmas " in my head a little bit each day.

Who knows with their dancing talents maybe M and A will be taking their "sister act" on the road someday. Hope I get some say in the costumes. I'm thinking White Christmas II.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What I Learned This Week

Guess you could say my mind is busy this week. It's a quiet week for events and responsibilities which means more time for my mind to get busy with projects I want to do, things I should be doing, and deep thoughts on the economy, the state of children and culture, and, of course, when will the green grass reappear.

Deep thoughts call for the randomness of a list. Don't you think?

I found this fun meme at Musings of a Housewife and knew it was just what the doctor ordered. It's called "What I Learned This Week" and while it's technically only Tuesday afternoon I have learned a lot in the last week or so.

1. Bleachers scare me. Yes, the kind in a high school gym those wooden slats that have steep steps, narrow rows, and hard seats. I'm afraid that my purse will fall open and all will be lost down the bleacher slats. I fear that my four year old will slip through the openings never to be seen again. I worry what will happen to my shoes if I slip them off? I realize these are all irrational thoughts, but when you sit on bleachers for 12 plus hours over the course of a day, these thoughts do cross your mind.

2. Dance Competitions are long, very very long. After a while, the music begins to all sound the same. I did figure out this weekend, after years of going to Dance Recitals, that the studios must buy "Dance Studio Versions of Soundtracks" for their music. I recognized a lot of the songs, but not the artist singing the song or even necessarily the tempo. Not being a musical genius, I thought this was huge revelation.

3. Traveling for an overnight with the family is not much different than packing for a week's vacation. We were only going 1.5 hours away for about 24 hours and I still had a dinning room table filled with things to bring and bag upon bag of stuff. My husband had this shocked look of disbelief as he began to load the car for our "three hour tour." OK, one and one half hour tour.
4. Staying in a hotel room with 5 people is crazy. We loved the big flat screen t.v. and the fluffy pillows and beds, but the coziness wears off when you have to turn off the lights at 9:45 so kids can get to sleep for an early wake up call for the dancer girl. Should have planned to go in the hallway and play solitaire or gin rummy with the hubby.

5. Bringing a knitting bag along for the competition was smart. I started a new project and had something to do when M was not dancing. However, carrying it around all day and lugging it from competition floor to rehearsal floor to dressing room and back 500 times makes for a sore neck and shoulder region.

6. Hanging out by the hotel pool Friday night is a great way to burn off winter energy. I love to see my kids dripping wet and exhausted from jumping in, swimming, and just go back and forth from the big pool to the hot tub. They made instant friends with the other kids, and got to hang with their siblings and see them as cool too. If only we could afford to go out of town every weekend from Dec-March. Scratch that. See #4.
7. Traveling with bigger kids is so much easier than with little kids. While we still had to bring a lot of stuff, we didn't have to worry about nap times, places to heat up baby food, cleaning of bottles or dirty diapers. While I'm still struggling to believe my kids are hitting the preteen and teenage years, there is something to be said for having them be responsible for getting their own stuff together.

If you want to see more "What I Learned this Week" posts go to