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I'm a mother of 3 who started blogging as a way to share our many adventures and to expand beyond the everyday "mommy world". While there IS so much more to us mommies than the title, there is very little that doesn't in some way or another lead us back to or influence our children...if anything. So, I hope you enjoy following our family's randomness, because as all moms know- you can never anticipate what tomorrow will bring! Thanks for visiting and have a blessed day! :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

You Can Stay at Home, too!!

My favorite paragraph from Matt Walsh's blog post "You're a stay-at-home mom?  What do you DO all day?":
"Of course not all women can be at home full time. It’s one thing to acknowledge that; it’s quite another to paint it as the ideal. To call it the ideal, is to claim that children IDEALLY would spend LESS time around their mothers. This is madness. Pure madness. It isn’t ideal, and it isn’t neutral. The more time a mother can spend raising her kids, the better. The better for them, the better for their souls, the better for the community, the better for humanity. Period."
I wouldn't trade being a stay-at-home mom for all the tea in China!  It's the "job" I always wanted before I even knew I wanted it.  But make no mistake, SAHM's don't live on a pedestal but rather a shoestring (budget, that is) and often with little thanks or even acknowledgment of the sacrifices they make.  We still live in a country where it IS possible to stay home with your child(ren) almost regardless of your income.  There was a time when our income was only $20,000 a year with 3 children, the oldest only in kindergarten at the time...and I stayed home.  We weren't on WIC and my husband worked while also taking grad classes.  Classes that (once he found a job, no matter how menial) we paid for upfront without taking out further student loans.  We've yet to buy our first house but if that is the price we pay for having me home with our children, I'm happy to make that sacrifice!  It is worth every penny even on our worst days.  I'd love a break.  I welcome a break!  But as a general rule, I love spending time with my kids.  They are such a treasure!  Children were never meant to be a burden, but a blessing...probably the best retirement plan you could have!  :)

I don't say this to make those of you ladies (and gents) who work outside the home feel guilty for not being home with your kids.  I think for most of us (or at least those of you who follow my blog ;)) that's where we want to be!  I only wish to encourage you that if staying home is what you really want to do, it can be done!  It is possible!  It will take sacrifices financially- maybe that even means selling your house, but for most of us it would only take reigning in other expenses like not eating out very often, growing as much food as you can yourself, buying used everything and less of it, downgrading your phone (gasp!) and finding other ways to cut corners (couponing 101).  You can even homeschool for free!

Some day I plan to write a book entitled "I Survived a Single-wide".  To be honest (and I never imagined I'd say this), out of the seven homes we've lived in over the course of our married life, that single-wide nears the top of the list of faves for a variety of reasons.  Naturally, it helps that it was located close to my extended family but #2- it met our needs and #3- we could afford it.  Less financial stress breeds a happier home, I say. :) 

Through the generosity of a family member who procured free lodging for us (thank you!!) and by ringing out our grocery budget until it cried for mercy, we were even able to take a vacation to Disney World that year!  Praise the Lord, God is good.  So, my point is that we make time and money for what is important to us and that we have a tendency to all too often confuse want with need.  We wanted to go to Disney World (at least me and the kids did.  Justin had never gone so he didn't really know what he was missing.  Even now, and I don't understand this, I don't think he fell in love with it like we did. ;)).  Had we not been given the precious gift of lodging, we would have kept saving until we had enough to provide our own and I can guarantee it wouldn't have been as nice.  Super 8?  If it meant the difference between experiencing the magic of Disney or staying home, you betcha that it's good enough for me!

So, pay off those credit cards and tear them up.  Get yourself out of bondage and enslaved to your debt and start living large on a shoestring budget, loving and cuddling those precious babies!  Anyone can find a job, however "important" or "mundane" it is, but only YOU can be your babies' momma! ;)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Parents Launch Executive Order to Stop Common Core and Student Data-Mining!

I'm sure President Obama would urge you to "reject these voices" but I sure hope you don't!  Believe it or not, tyranny IS lurking around the corner and has been since our country's conception.  That's why our founding fathers created our government with a set of checks and balances of power and gave that power to the People.  The power to protect our freedoms.  You.  Yes, you!  If you are eligible to vote in America, I'm talking to you!  Our founding fathers gave YOU the power and responsibility to defend your God-given freedoms.  Our government works best when we keep that balance in check by calling out abuses when and where we see them and then DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THEM (aka. stay informed and vote.  Get involved!  If you don't understand something, ask questions.  I was politically ignorant not that long ago myself.  Not dumb.  Just ignorant.  There is hope for us all. ;o)).

So many times I've heard people say things like, "Well, I just don't have time for that" or "Politics is not my thing so I just let those who are smarter than me handle that kind of thing."  Newsflash:  #1-I don't have time for it either but it has become too dangerous to ignore, #2- Politics is certainly not my "thing" either AND you most likely ARE at least as smart as they are but if not, that also means #3- they are smart enough to abuse their power which means you would do well to get educated so they can't take advantage of you and #4- if you choose not to get involved, you'll only have yourself to blame when the poop hits the fan (Heck, they're already flinging it right now.  I'm just waiting for them to throw it high enough that it finally does hit that fan and splatters everywhere!).  They cannot continue to abuse their power if we don't let them.  This particular issue (see the link below) threatens not just OUR safety and privacy, but more importantly, our children's.  It's one thing to mess with me, but I think most of us would agree (and certainly for me), we become quite a force to be reckoned with when our kids are in the line of fire.  I urge you to please get involved and informed.  Time is running out.  These parents understand the urgency.  Do you?  If we all band together and take a stand, we CAN stop this thing!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Media Madness: The Kid Connection

Our kids lost their media privileges for a whole week.  We're two days into this consequence now and Thursday seems like an eternity away.  I suppose it helps that our laptop is functioning like a crippled turtle right now...lessening the desire to use it in the first place.  In the meantime, our young ones have taken to reenacting their favorite shows and singing their favorite show tunes...

Josiah:  Mom, what's your favorite song from The Lion King?
Me:  Hmm, I don't know.  I like a lot of songs from that movie.  Maybe..."Can You Feel the Love Tonight"?
Josiah:  Oh, yes!  I remember that one and I remember that time a LOOOOONG time ago but I when I was still this same age and I had media, I saw that song on youtube and thought, "Mom should share this on facebook!"

It is apparent to me that our kids' childhoods hardly resemble our own.  We'd be asking questions like, "what is facebook?  what is The Lion King?  what is youtube?"  They've never known a life without these things.  I now see it as my duty to make sure our kids know the answers to our childhood questions, questions that they don't even know to ask.  We commence tomorrow morning!  Lesson #1- What is a rotary phone?  Followed by #2- What is a cassette tape and what's the pencil for?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

One thing I love about homeschooling is having the opportunity to stop, relish and learn from unexpected experiences that occur rather than having to pass those moments by.  A strict schedule or curriculum rarely affords this luxury and I'm so thankful that we can enjoy these special times.

I left one of our garden cucumbers on the dining table last night- just had one of those mommy moments where you forget to stick it back in the fridge.  Short digression: my father-in-law visited last night and we wanted to show him our cucumber-squash hybrid creation.  (What would you call that sort of thing?  A cucuash?  A squacumber?  I don't know.  Take a look at the photo posted further below and you'll see what I mean.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Special Occasions: A Laundry Lesson

My 7 year old.  Bless him.  For some reason, my darling youngest son decided that his "Fun with Money" class today was going to be far from fun.  So, he thought he could just decide not to go.  Yeeeeaaah, I don't think so. 

I say it's time to go.  He remains seated.  Not budging.  Plenty of fussing happening, but no walking.  Little does he know that momma's not playing games.  I've told him before that I don't count.  You know, some parents will say, "If you don' the time I count to..."  Nuh-uh.  Not this momma.  I'm still guilty of repeating myself sometimes (I'm a work in progress) but I refuse to count.  He should also know by now that I know which buttons to push to get his attention.  In an unusually calm voice I say, "Ok.  No media for the rest of the day."  Now he's wailing and causing a scene.  "Oh, I see.  You'd rather have no media for two days."  "No, no, no!  Mommy, I'm sorry.  I'm sorry!  Do you still love me?"  I reassure him and wonder if this is a sincere question or if he's just trying to make me feel guilty...or hoping this question will relieve him of his consequence.

Monday, September 16, 2013

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool? Part 1

**This post was written back in April.  I have other posts that I'll publish later.  For now, here's a taste.  I plan to write regularly about our homeschool journey.  For any parents out there who are on the fence or considering homeschooling, we're only 2 weeks in "officially" but I highly recommend it!  Have a blessed day!

Our family has been wrestling with this question for the past several months.  There are so many factors to consider and it is just plain hard to know what to do.

Initially, we had planned to homeschool from the very beginning.  But then our son was diagnosed with a form of high-functioning autism (Asperger's Syndrome) and so we decided at the time that the best thing for him was to send him to public school where he would have access to speech and occupational therapies as well as a more structured environment and also be immersed in a social environment at an early enough age that (hopefully) he could more easily adapt and learn to recognize social cues and respond appropriately.  Whew.  Deep breath.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Matt's Angelversary 2013

Another blank screen with a blinking cursor.  I type something just to fill the space.  There isn't anything of great significance to say...nothing I haven't already said.  And what could I possibly say anyway that is of any importance at all?  I'm not that wise.  None of us are.  I've had a really hard time lately getting my thoughts down in print.  There are currently over 40 drafts in my account right now.  All on different subjects, all equally incomplete, all too "meh" to finish.  Maybe I'm too much of a perfectionist in that respect.  Maybe I feel like I need to post something profound or not post anything at all.  I don't know...but it bugs me.  I want to blog again and right now I sort of feel stuck.

Today has been a weird day.  It's Matt's angelversary and so he's been on my mind today moreso than most days.  Even so, I've had true moments of happiness as well.  Moments when I caught myself not even thinking about it being Matt's angelversary...and then feeling guilty for forgetting.  Is that what happens after 4 years?  You forget??  I could NEVER forget my brother.  NEVER!  So, what happened?  I don't know.  Life, I guess?  Matt wouldn't want his death and consequently my mourning to consume the rest of my life.  I know that.  But shouldn't I spend ALL of today at least thinking about him?  I've cried today.  I'm crying now.  Earlier my dear autistic son said to me, "Mommy, please don't cry.  It hurts me."  I was so touched by his comment and it occurred to me that grief doesn't just hurt the mourner.  It hurts those we love to see us mourning.  At least, I know I hurt when someone I love is hurting, whether it be emotional or physical pain.  I hate it.  It's awful.

Grief will make you do crazy things.  Did you know that we have a hide-a-bed loveseat that is on its last leg...seriously looks like a dog got a hold of it and ripped the fabric off, chunks of padding are missing from the arms and the cushion has been ripped and re-sewn twice and needs a third treatment?  I don't want to get rid of it.  Why?  Because Matt slept on it.  Our recliner is losing upholstery at the seat and the padding underneath is peeking out at the crease between the seat and the back...but Matt sat in it.  Our dining table is one we had growing up.  It has scratches but we had meals together there as teens.  It's just furniture, right?  I can't take it with me and having it here isn't going to bring him back, right?  But maybe having them around makes him feel that much closer.  Maybe I like the reminder that they bring.  Memories that are attached to these inanimate objects that no one else would place much value in.  Truly the furniture itself isn't worth much.  But the memories...the memories are priceless.  Will I ever be able to let them go?  How many things does a person need to hold on to after losing a loved one?  What's a healthy number?  I have a jacket, t-shirts, jeans, even undershirts and socks.  Socks?!  I picture Matt rolling his eyes at me and saying, "Deedubber, what are you doing?  You really think it would hurt my feelings if you got rid of my socks??  You really think you'd forget about me if you got rid of them?  Come on, now.  Tighten up."  I know it's irrational.  I know it is.  I can't seem to shake it, though.  I don't want to shake it.

He may not be here physically, but he is still very much alive in my memory.  Maybe I'm afraid of forgetting him...forgetting those memories that are so precious to me now.  Walking through this angelversary with moments where my thoughts were NOT on him causes me to think that it's actually remotely possible for me to forget.  Maybe that's why I cling to every little shred that's left of him here on earth.  Have you seen the movie "Ghost"?  I can totally relate to Demi Moore's character in the scene where she picks up a half-empty roll of roll-aids that Patrick Swayze's character left behind in his desk.  It's ridiculous to keep roll-aids, of course, but I understand it.

Yes, today has been a weird day.  I don't know how else to describe it.  It has been sad, happy, maddening, guilt-ridden, enlightening and silly.  I took the kids out to the basketball court today so they could ride their scooters.  We have to walk through an open lawn courtyard to get there and there's another open lawn courtyard on the other side of  the court. they were both teeming with dragonflies.  If you know me at all, you know why that's significant.  It was so amazing that I wanted to get a picture of it.  Naturally, of course, the camera couldn't be located so you'll just have to take my word for it.  It was amazing.  We met a neighbor on the way back who was out walking his dog and even he commented on how unusual it was to see SO many dragonflies in the yard.  God may or may not have put them there just for me but I'll tell you this much...He certainly gave me eyes to see them, and for that, I am very thankful.  Did you know that Native American tribes believe the dragonfly signifies happiness, speed, and purity?  It also represents transformation and the ever constant process of change.  That's how I remember Matt...happy, vibrant, fast, and with a childhood innocence (naivete?) that he never outgrew.  No dream was too big.  Nothing was too far out of reach.  This realization about his personality is what makes his death that much more unbelievable.  He was our dreamer!  Forever optimistic about the future and what could happen.  NEVER willing to give up and throw in the towel.  He inspired us all!  So, how?  I may never know.  What was he thinking?  A moment of weakness.  We all have them.  No one is immune.  His death has been a transforming experience for all of us.  I find myself in this ever constant process of change and sometimes, frankly, I don't like it.  I don't feel ready for change.  It feels too much like letting go which is something I don't want to do.  That's part of the healing journey, though, isn't it?  Change.  Being transformed.  So, I'll do my best.  God is walking with me, even carrying me sometimes.  The healing continues.  His mercies are new every morning.  <3 br="">

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dear Cashiers...

I'm forming an organization.  I know you've been here.  Membership is free!  Join now!  ;)

Dear grocery cashiers and bag checkers all across America,
I realize that you aren't getting rich at your job (and the sight of my coupons just annoyed the bejeezes out of you), nor are you generally receiving mountains of praise to keep your spirits up but please, please, please, please, PLEASE for the love of all things good and holy DON'T take it out on my shopping cart.  Instead, try taking pride in a job well done, no matter how mundane it may seem.  I really detest digging my produce out from under heavy bottles of juice, bleach, and vinegar, not to mention the plethora of canned foods piled high atop my fresh fruit.  I wasn't planning to make wine with my grapes or pasta sauce with my tomatoes, thank you very much.  
And when I take the time to sort 'like' things on the conveyor belt, it's not to make my job of unloading groceries at home any easier, it's to help YOU load my shopping cart without me being forced to make and bake banana bread from the baby food that's left on the bottom as soon as I get home.  I don't have a baby anymore.  I don't need freshly prepared baby food.  All of my family members now have all of their teeth (well, almost ;)).  I mean, I love banana bread and strawberry jam as much as the next person and I appreciate your kindness in eliminating one of the steps in either of those recipes, but not only did I plan other uses for my bananas and strawberries that don't require pulverization, I don't have the time to prepare a dozen homemade fruit and/or omelet dishes after a 3 hour visit to your store.  
You are young so you probably haven't experienced this yet, but did you realize that children are time and energy-suckers?  Not a flattering description of them, I know, but nonetheless true.  They will just suck you dry of all your time and energy.  Now, they are the most precious gifts on this earth and time spent with them is never wasted, but I don't care who you are...even Martha Stewart wouldn't want to spend her entire evening in the kitchen baking homemade entrees after a full-day alone with 3 incredibly energetic kids.  (I don't know how many times I've wished I could bottle that up and sell it!  We'd be beyond wealthy!)  My kids are great and we enjoy spending time together.  But, still...They. suck. you. dry!  
That's to say nothing of the money I just spent purchasing all that produce...even taking the time to hand select most of it, only to have it squished beyond recognition once it is transferred from the buggy I packed to the buggy you packed.  Those grapes were not cheap ya know, and if they make it to my home in one piece, the whole bag will be devoured in less than 24 hours.  I guarantee you that!  I'd still like to have those 24 hours I just purchased though, brief as they may be.
So, please be courteous enough to at least attempt to not flatten my bread or make sawdust out of my chips.  (What can I possibly do with a bag of sawdust chips besides tilt them up to my mouth and eat them like some kind of animal?  Top a casserole?  Sure, but there again, I have to make one first.)  If you will do me the honor of being intentional in the packing of my groceries, I will be sure to thank you so that you know your effort is not in vain.  I believe I speak for all exhausted mothers out there when I say, your consideration is greatly appreciated!
Have mercy,
Stephanie, Founder of Moms for the M.O.B. (Mission: Orderly Bagging)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Feminism: The "Ugly" Head

Feminism seems to be rearing its ugly head everywhere I turn.  I say "ugly" because the older I get, the more convinced I become that this is not a godly way to live.  Call me old-fashioned, that's okay with me.  Honestly, I didn't used to think this way.  I was mostly on board the "feminist bandwagon" not that long ago (never did go the "pro-choice" direction), declaring the injustices and oppression of women and shunning the traditional stereotype of us as "merely" wives and mothers.  After all, we are not just mindless baby-making machines.  We have brains and we don't need a man to complete us!  I remember vividly the day I left for college and my loving, well-intentioned grandfather said, "Now, you go and find yourself a good, Christian young man to marry."  I was so offended!  How dare he?!  I was there to get an education!  I didn't need a man to complete me and that was certainly not the reason I enrolled!  (Though, I did keep my eyes and options open. ;)) 

Whatever you believe, be fair and consistent.  Our society has moved from "equal rights for women" to "no respect for men".  Are you advocating equal rights or gender domination?  If you are a Christian, remember that your husband is the head of your household.  If you hate that you were born a woman or have a problem with male headship, you'll have to take that up with the Creator Himself.

Photo credit:  Women Stomping Man
More cries of inequality, "Equal pay in the workplace!  Husbands should do the same amount of work at home as we women do!  After all, we didn't make those babies by ourselves and we're not the only ones who live here."  Sounds fair, right?  I'm all for fair and there is some legitimacy to these cries...some.  Let's start with equal pay.  Do men take maternity leave?  Typically not, although I'll grant that some have that luxury.  And what of the hospital bill for the birth?  If your kids get sick at school, who typically goes to pick them up?  Each family is different and certainly there are other factors and considerations at play in these situations but generally speaking, can you see how this could affect what salary an employer pays a woman versus a man in the same position?  As a general rule, is the woman doing the same amount of work as the man?  If so, then yes, she should receive equal pay.  But before bemoaning the injustice of it all, I implore you to keep these things in mind. 

Next, housework and caregiving.  This one is addressed more specifically to housewives like me or those who work part-time.  You are at home...working.  Presumably, your husband is working.  If he's not, then you have a legitimate complaint.  He should do more to help out.  I sympathize with those of you with babies at home.  They are demanding.  They are taxing.  By the time your husband comes home, you are worn slap out and there is still dinner, bath, and bedtime left to do before the day is done.  Rejuvenate yourself by napping when they do.  Your husband doesn't usually have this luxury.  In most instances, it could get him fired.  Most days you get to play with your little one(s), too.  It's fun, right?  Not every minute of every day is a burden.  If it is, you've got bigger problems on your hands than "women's oppression".  Does your husband enjoy his job or is he sacrificing to keep a roof over your heads and food on the table?  Again, I'm not saying that your complaint isn't legitimate.  It may very well be.  I'm just asking you to try and see things from your husband's point of view and remind you of the contributions he is already making for you and your family.  Let him know he is appreciated and that his sacrifices and hard work are not in vain.  Instead of beating him up, build him up.  If you don't, who will?  Here is a piece of advice that I've found helpful as well:  Ask for help.  Be direct.  That's not something that many of us women are very good at doing.  I know I wasn't.  I would fume and stew and then Justin would have the audacity to ask, "What's wrong?" 

"Pbbth!  What's wrong??  How dare he?!  If he loved me, he would just know.  I wouldn't have to tell him."  Sound familiar?  Wow.  Talk about unfair.  "How can he not see that I'm drowning in children's tears, dirty dishes, and a sea of unrelenting laundry?"  (Seriously.  He doesn't see it.)  Then you think, "I married an idiot."  Well, guess what?  I'm thankful for my idiot and you should be thankful for yours, too! lol  If he thought like me and came home "seeing" this, he would be just as stressed as I am looking at it.  Two stressed out spouses/parents are one too many!  So, yes.  I'm telling you to be thankful that he has no clue.  I'm telling you to ask for his help (in a kind and thoughtful way).  Despite what the world will tell you, he wants to please you.  Show him how and thank him when he does.  And that brings me to my next point...

Don't treat him like he is stupid.  He's not.  Besides that, if he is stupid, what does that say about you for marrying him?  In relation to that, don't talk to other people about how "stupid" he is either.  (Now you say, "But Stephanie, you just called your husband an idiot on a public platform."  Yes.  Yes, I did.  I did it to prove a point and if you've been married any length of time, I assure you that both of you have thought that about the other at some point in time.  I am an idiot sometimes, too.  Reality is your friend, ladies.  Reality is your friend. ;))  I've witnessed too many women who make a regular habit of making fun of their husbands to other women.  The next time you are tempted to do the same, ask yourself how you would feel if he were to talk to his friends about you that same way.

I hope to write more posts on how to be more godly women, addressing specific challenges many of us face in this day and age.  I haven't mastered any of this, mind you.  I'm a work in progress and will be until the day I die.  So let's just walk this journey together, vowing to be the kind of wife and mother deserving of the praise and adoration of our husbands and children, and confident in our worth and value that only comes from the Lord.

Submitting to your husband does not mean you are less valuable than he is.  It means you value him more than you value yourself.  Let's be holy, God-fearing women of service and devotion, rather than women of selfish pursuit and ambition.  Don't I know that women are people too and deserve to be treated fairly?  Of course.  Now define "fairly".  Don't I know that men do stupid things sometimes?  (I think we've already established my thoughts on that. ;))  Don't I know that men are selfish sometimes?  Newsflash: so are we. 

Treat your man with respect, not ridicule.  If he is any kind of man at all, he will thank you for it naturally, without your nagging or manipulation, and you'll both be better for it.  If not, love him anyway. 

You were made for he wouldn't live alone. 
Not to be his servant, but to be his soul-mate.  What an honor and privilege! 

Jesus came for all of we would live! 
Not to be our servant, but to be our Savior.  But guess what? 
He saved us through His service and submission to God. 

Does Jesus' value not exceed our own?  Wasn't He God in the flesh?  Being equal to God?  If He didn't consider equality something to be grasped, why should we?  Does that mean we are to be doormats?  No.  Was Jesus a doormat?  No.  He knew His worth and so had no need to demand "equal rights".  Instead, he honored and fought for the rights of others.  Women, children, the sick and elderly, the poor and needy.  Oughtn't we do the same?

Photo credit: Airmiles Files

Let's strive to be a soul-mate through our service and submission to our husband, bringing him honor and praise at the city gates.  Peace.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Measuring Maturity: Star Trek vs. Boy Bands

My husband and I watched an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" on Netflix last night which led to the following conversation:

Justin:  Just think, you were 11 years old when this show first came out.
Me:  Yeah, but I didn't like this one as much.  I was still a Captain Kirk fan.
Justin: Why is that?  This one is so much better.
Me:  Well, the original happened during more of my "childhood" days so maybe it's more sentimental to me?  Once I got to be 11-12ish, I was much more interested in boys, I guess, so I didn't care so much about it.
Justin:  I watched it at that age and loved it!
Me:  Mehh, well.  Girls mature faster than boys do.
Justin:  Oh.  Like chasing after boy bands like New Kids On the Block?  'Cause that's SO much more mature, right?
Me:  Speaking of, did you know that Joe McIntyre was at the Boston Marathon and he crossed the finish line only 5 minutes before the bomb went off?
Justin:  Did you know that I'm a bit disturbed to know that you know that?  ...How do you know that?
Me:  He tweeted it and then it got posted to their facebook fan page.  See how mature I am?

In all seriousness, our thoughts and prayers are with the families suffering right now from this terrible act of violence.  It is unimaginable to me what could make someone do such a horrific thing!

Humor is our healing balm and that's how we cope and manage around here.  Finding tidbits of humor here and lifts your spirits, if only the tiniest bit, offering hope and strength to live again.  I pray that you will savor moments of happiness today, no matter what troubles you face.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Starbucks: Holy Detrimony

You may have heard of the recent comments made by the CEO of Starbucks.  His intolerance of those who support traditional marriage made me seriously question why we allow them on our Christian campuses.  I am all for free speech and freedom of religion.  I'm not about to demand that they see things my way or keep their mouth shut.  However, I do not think it is wise nor beneficial for them to continue to have a presence on our Christian campuses when they publicly oppose values and beliefs that we hold dear.  How can we profess to promote and preserve traditional marriage while at the same time having the "opposing team" occupying our own campuses?  Our message loses its value and credibility and our witness simply becomes a watered-down version of the greater American world-view.  Taking a stand is not very popular but we're not called to be popular and trendy.  We are called to be holy, blameless, a living sacrifice, Christ-like.  It is time to sacrifice our pride and possibly our reputation to defend what we know to be true and right.  Jesus upset a lot of folks with what He had to say.  The truth ended up costing Him his life.  What if He had remained silent?  We are called to be like Him.  We wear His name, for goodness sakes- Christians.  Think about that for a minute and let it sink in.  There is a time to be silent.  This is not that time!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Searcy is the Greatest!: A Couple's Debate

The following is a conversation that Justin and I had in the car on the way home from church this afternoon.  I am blessed with a husband who is very good at noticing inconsistencies and shining a spotlight on them.  Not everyone can appreciate such a gift, but I do.  It keeps things interesting.  :)

Justin: "Ah, Searcy, Arkansas!  The greatest town in all of America!  Isn't that right, 'Momma'? (no response)  I say, 'Isn't it, 'Momma'?'"

Me: "Eh, maybe."

Justin: "What?  Why not?  Where else is better and why?"

Me: "...I don't know."

Justin: "Then, we're agreed! Searcy is the greatest!"

Me: "Hmm...I can agree that it's 'one of'."

Justin: "'One of'?  Why just 'one of'?"

Me: "Well, I haven't lived in every town in America so I can't say with certainty that Searcy is THE greatest."

Justin: "Well, I guess you can't say with certainty that I'm the greatest husband either, then, since you haven't been married to every man in America, huh?"

Me: "Touche, husband.  Touche."

Justin: "Then, we're agreed!  Searcy is the greatest!  Maybe I should have been a lawyer after all. What do you think?"

Me: "Yep, you'd have made a good one."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lessons from a 6 Year Old: A Rose is Blooming

 My facebook status update last night: 
"I think I missed my calling as a firefighter since all I ever seem to do is put out fires. I'm really highly qualified. ;) Currently, I'm trying to smother the flames that Rhea Lana consigning has created. In the meantime, our apartment is catching fire. Then, of course, there's the MOPS newsletter that is FULLY ablaze. (Whose brilliant idea was that again? ;)) Spring break x 2 (my husband's, then the boys'), birthdays x 2 (mine, then Sadie's), Easter... You get the picture.  March is an inferno!"
With that in mind, here is what happened on the drive to school this morning:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Autism: A Parent's Perspective

Photo courtesy: Arkansas Autism Network
As many of you know, our son has Asperger's Syndrome (and we recently learned that this term is no longer being used.  Now, it's just called high-functioning autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).).  Anyway, I'm often asked about the signs of autism.  Parents want to know the symptoms so they can keep an eye on their own children and recognize any problems, to answer the question of "how and when did you know?".  Those who have children with a recent diagnosis want to know how we handle certain situations, the logistics, and how we cope with the challenges that having a special needs child creates.  Students want to hear from a parent's perspective and humanize the clinical description of the term "autism", to find an answer to the question of "who are these kids, what do they look like, and how will I recognize them out in the real world?"  Others are just curious and wish to know more about it and raise their awareness. 

The truth is, the spectrum is wide and varying.  I can give you our personal experience and some general things to look for, but every child is different.  And I mean, EVERY child-from the neurotypical to the not-so-neurotypical and the last thing I want to do is limit or stereotype a certain "kind" of child.  The "not-so-neurotypical", though different by nature, are still children and still enjoy what most children enjoy.  Jackson, for example, loves pizza, ice cream, french fries, candy, playgrounds, video games, movies, camping, and parties.  He forgets to pick up his toys or brush his teeth.  He argues with his brother and sister.  I guess that is part of the reason that there are so many questions about autism.  In many ways, they are like any other child.  Any one of the symptoms, when isolated, doesn't necessarily mean your child has autism.  It could just mean they are "quirky" in that way or a little "high-strung".  It's the combination of symptoms that should give you pause.  Here is what we observed in our son...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Joy Comes In the Mourning

I got a little emotional during class Sunday morning as we discussed finding joy in our affliction.  We are studying the book of Isaiah, which I've really enjoyed.  It's not really the most uplifting book (overall) but there are great moments of hope to be found as well.  That's one of the many awesome things about God.  He never leaves us without any hope.  The people of Isaiah's day suffered many afflictions.  Many of them were of their own making.  Some were simply the product of living in a fallen world.  Either way, we would be wise to heed the warnings from Isaiah, learn from the mistakes of their time, and to remind ourselves that even in the midst of suffering and woe, God remains faithful to His people.  He will bring restoration.  He will make everything right.  He will bring atonement for us.

So, back to finding joy in our affliction...  You've probably heard the verse, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds..." (James 1:2).  Well, most of us don't.  Pure joy?  Come on, let's be real.  Pain and suffering hurt.  And we don't like to least I know I don't.  But did you know that having joy is not the same thing as being happy?  You can have joy and be sad at the same time.  How?  I'll try to explain.

Noah Webster defines joy as "the passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune, the gratification of desire or some good possessed, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exultation; exhilaration of spirits. Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good." (emphasis mine)  Joy is an anticipation of something better, something good, something we desperately want.  It is a confident hope of what our heart most desires.

Today is my brother's birthday.  He would have been 32 years old.  Over three years have come and gone since his death.  I miss him so much.  I miss the sound of his voice, his laugh, his funny phrases like "That's messed up" or "Tighten up".  I'm pretty sure that if he had lived long enough to hear it, "yolo" would have been at the top of that list, too.  (For the older generation, that's short for "you only live once".)  I miss his hugs, as painful as they could be.  I remember one particular time when I hugged him upon seeing him for the first time after several months and it was like hugging a rock!  He was so muscular and strong.  He, on the other hand, probably felt like he was hugging a marshmallow. lol

So, today we have a birthday with no "birthday boy".  This is the fourth time we have endured it and I wonder how many more birthdays we will "celebrate" without him.  So this cycle will continue every year until Jesus returns or we die.    But what else can we do?  We wait.  We give thanks to God that Matt was born.  We give thanks to God for his life, for his influence, and for his heart.  We give thanks to God for His mercy, His forgiveness, His love.  We give thanks that because of His great love, He has given us an escape from despair, pain, and loss.  He is our Hope.  He guessed it...our Joy.  So, today we celebrate Matt's life, earthly as well as eternally.  We wait expectantly for that glorious day when we will see him again face to face and praise our heavenly Father forever and ever and ever amen!...together.  Until then, we will cry tears of joy, for joy can be found in the mourning.  Happy Birthday, lil bro!  Love you bunches!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Marker Memories

So, I decided to use the kids' bathroom earlier this evening, rather than disturb my husband who loves to sit in ours with the hair dryer running while he either reads or uses the laptop for his schoolwork.  (I just realized how that sounds.  Kind of weird, I guess?  Well, we're a pretty weird bunch for those who hadn't yet noticed. ;))

Anyway, the point is that when I walked in, I didn't notice that Sadie was already in there.  Then I realized that she was very obviously trying to hide from me.  Never a good sign, right?  So, I made her turn around and face me so I could either see what she was hiding or why she didn't want to look at me.  This is what I saw...

That's brown marker on her face.  The interrogation went something like this...
Me, in my best calm and collected voice:  Sadie, why have you been writing on your face with a marker?
Sadie:  Because I want to look like different people.
Me, thinking I already knew where this was going:  What do you mean by "different people"?
Sadie:  Because I want to look like brown people!
Ah, Sadie!  How I do love you, girl!  She makes life so fun and unpredictable!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Happy are those who persist...

for they shall receive...eventually!  After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, we FINALLY have our AR tag!  Seriously, that was WAY too complicated.  Shortly after our move, we discovered that our title was lost.  Some of you are already aware of the unpleasantness in our home associated with that.  Yes, we played the blame game.  I kept the title in the van.  Justin found it there and didn't think it wise to leave it in the van (in case someone stole the van, we shouldn't leave the title with them too.  I see his point.) so he brought it inside.  At that point, who knows what happened to it but suffice it to say that when the time came and despite our searching, neither of us knew where to find it. 

So earlier LAST YEAR, we applied for a GA replacement title.  We even paid to have it expedited.  In case you were wondering, the cost for a replacement title is $8.  The additional fee to have it expedited is $10.  And by "expedited", that means you get it (theoretically) in about 2 weeks rather than 4-6 weeks.  The only thing is, we didn't get it in 2 weeks...or 6 weeks...or even 6 months!  In retrospect, I should have been more on top of them about it but hey, life happens.  Besides that, is it too much to ask that people do their job so I don't HAVE to resort to breathing down their necks???  And people want to entrust our government with their healthcare?!  I just don't get it.  Anyway, I digress.  So, September came and having thought of it again, and finding a tiny sliver of time, I sent an email to the lady in charge asking what was taking so long.  I never received a reply.  (P.S.- Have you ever noticed how few government offices' contact information includes a direct line or an extension number to reach someone specific?  And I mean someone whose name is posted on the website with their contact information.  Many times there is either no phone number listed, or just the general number for the entire agency.  Not helpful.  In fact, it's just annoying.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lost Titles and Lessons of Laughter

All married couples have them.  Even the good and strong ones like mine and my husband's.  We are by no means immune.  You know what I'm talking about.  The arguments that periodically ensue over the same old things?  You hem and haw and chew on it awhile and then, leaving the issue still unresolved, stick it back on the shelf until the next time one of you gets the urge to take it down, dust it off, and hem and haw over it again.  That's just life, I guess...particularly for two people as bull-headed as we are. lol

Lately, there has been a recurring thorn in our side and hopefully the Georgia Department of Revenue will do something to remedy that very soon.  Without going into the boring details, suffice it to say that my husband and I do NOT like talking about the lost title to our van and the havoc that such a simple thing like that can wreak on our demeanors and the overall pleasantness in our home.

Our latest "episode" happened last night in said van while we were driving down the a family.  Yes, our kids were with us and heard our "argument".  Personally, I like to think that Justin and I disagree in a healthy manner most of the time, if that's even possible.  We don't resort to name calling or screaming or throwing things...most of the time.  (I once threw an entire roll of toilet tissue at him, hitting him in the back of the head with it, but in my defense...I was pregnant at the time.  Those hormones are no joke! ;))  I also don't think we do our children any favors by never fighting in front of them.  I mean, they do need to learn how to respectfully disagree with someone, right?  Only problem is, I'm not sure we were the best role models of that on this particular evening.

Right as we were in the middle of our heated "debate", Josiah started to whine from the back seat, "Mommy, Sadie said I'm..."  Before he could finish I was already getting on to him.  I was stern, focused, and in no mood for their shenanigans with each other.
"Josiah, how many times do I have to tell you guys to just get along?  Now work out your own problems amongst yourselves.  Can't you see that me and your Daddy are fighting right now?"
Naturally, my response to Josiah elicited a snort and a chuckle from my loving husband.  He tried to contain it but let's face it, it was funny.  I couldn't even type what I said without laughing.  What a ridiculous thing to say!  I'm getting on to my son for fighting with his sister while at the same time telling him I can't get involved in their problem because I'm too busy fighting with their daddy.  I definitely need to write that one down in the "Things I Never Thought I'd Say" book...that is, if I ever get one written.

Honestly, we were both glad for the comic relief.  I think it helped us put things in perspective.  I also think that laughter and humor are so important in a marriage.  Things seem to go much more smoothly when we just lighten up and stop taking ourselves so seriously all the time.  It's important to note that our "debate" went right back on the shelf that night still unresolved, but I'm ok with that.  We at least worked out a few things and while we still don't agree entirely on the issue, I believe we understand each other's perspective a little better.  Plus, we have something else to laugh about now.  A sure sign of a healthy marriage, right? :)