Monday, August 29, 2011

I love my job! :)

aSometimes I think I’m the luckiest mom in the world.  I have the greatest children!  It’s a joy and a privilege to spend time with them.  I feel bad for moms whose greatest wish is for their children to get old enough to go to school, for summer to be over and school to start, for them to be old enough to take care of themselves.  Those moms are missing out!  I hear it all around me all the time, especially in the summer:  “I canNOT wait for school to be back in session.  I can not take another week of this child!”  It’s hard to go and sit at the park while the boys play contentedly and listen to the moms around me grumble.  But it’s also no surprise.  I mean, I wouldn’t want to spend days on end with some of their children either!  Good heavens.  Sadly, most of them don’t realize that they have no one to blame but themselves.

The last time we were at the park, I watched as two moms interacted with their children.  One mom had a boy, about 5, and a girl, about 3.  The girl was throwing sand.  The mom probably said 15 times “Please stop throwing sand.”  The little boy got in on the action, and there was sand flying everywhere.  By now the mom was  quite frazzled and the pitch of her voice had gone up an octave or two.  “Please. Stop. Throwing. Sand. Now.” she said.  They kept on.  She threatened to take away their toys.  The little boy threw them at her.  She stomped off, angry.  The situation continued to escalate.  Through it all, my twosome watched with huge eyes.  At one point, one of them looked at me and said, “Mom?  When is she going to DO something instead of just yelling?”  Wise child.  But then…he knows.  This mom doesn’t ask multiple times.  She doesn’t threaten.  She asks quietly and politely, and expects compliance.  She follows through immediately with consequences for inappropriate behavior.   And at 6, they are a delight to be around, and I can’t think of a single place I would be concerned about taking them.  Even the one who makes me crazy sometimes with his 1,000 questions and his short attention span and his sensory issues and his incessant need to be in the middle of everything and every conversation?  Yep.  He’s a delight to be around, and definitely knows how to behave.

The second mom had 3 young boys, probably 8, 5, and 2.  The 2 year old was being 2—pestering his big brothers as they played in the sand.  The 8 year old kept whining at him.  The mom told him 5 or 6 times that if he didn’t stop whining, they would go home.  (Her voice was incredibly whiny.)  He kept whining.  The 2 year old kept pushing his buttons.  You could see that it was deliberate…the look on his face was very clear.  He knew exactly what was going on.  The mom finally lost it, grabbed the 8 year old by his arm, and marched him off the beach, berating him for his display of attitude.  I kept wondering when she was going to realize that he was only mimicking what was being modeled for him. 

With children who behave like that, it’s no wonder that moms are thrilled to see summer vacation come to an end.  Even toddlers can be taught to obey.  It’s a matter of consistency.  Meaning what you say, and being willing to follow through with consequences if they choose to ‘blow you off.’  It’s hard.  It requires being willing to take action.  To be thoughtful.  And proactive.  It’s definitely not for everyone.  It is, after all, far simpler to gripe about how ‘busy’ and ‘active’ your children are.  To complain about the fact that they are in to ‘everything’ and you must spend every minute watching and chasing them.  Look in the mirror!!  You have trained them that way.  Have taught them that their behavior is acceptable.  They learn SO FAST that they don’t have to obey until Mom turns purple and there is smoke coming out her ears.  It’s hard to undo that teaching.

Frustrated, misbehaving children.  Frustrated, irritated, (angry?) moms.  Is it any wonder that scripture states clearly, in 2 different places, these verses?  Or that they go together??    It’s fairly clear if you read Ephesians 6:1-4 or Colossians 3:20-21.  They both say

Children, obey your parents…fathers, do not exasperate your children.

Why do children need to obey their parents?  Because learning to obey Mom and Dad is the precursor…and practice…for obeying God.  That’s the goal—obeying God!  So why aren’t parents supposed to exasperate their children?  Imagine how difficult it is to obey when parents don’t know what they want!!  Or at least don’t make their expectations clear.  Oy! 

Am I perfect?  Heavens NO!!  Are my children?  Absolutely not!! They misbehave.  I yell.  We have frustrating days.  We also have wonderful fun days, and it’s the greatest privilege in the world to be their mom.  And their teacher.  I love love LOVE having them home with me day in and day out.  Seeing them learn.  Watching them grow.  Someday they will go to school.  And I will be both happy and sad.  Happy, because I know that they will love it, and that they will be wonderful additions to a classroom.  And sad, because I will miss them terribly.

(Please note:  this is NOT directed at anyone in particular.  It is simply something I see over and over and over, and decided it was time to write about it.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

a lightbulb moment…and other stuff too

Or, an “Oh DUH!!” kind of afternoon.

Today I picked up hamburger.  40 pounds of hamburger.  I took 10 pounds, divided it into meal-sized portions and froze it.  I took another 10 pounds, browned it, then froze that in meal-sized portions.  I put 10 pounds in the fridge to deal with tomorrow.  And the last 10 pounds?  Well…I wanted to make it into hamburger patties to freeze so that I didn’t have to do the work later.  After thinking through a whole host of options to get it done—all of which were rejected as too much work!—it dawned on me:  Put the whole log in the freezer.  Freeze it for a couple of hours, til it’s mostly solid but not frozen through.  Put it on the cutting board, slice into burgers, and freeze the rest of the way.  Place in a plastic bag and voila!  ready to grill hamburgers, with no fuss and very little effort.

See?  Told you it was an “oh DUH!” afternoon.  :)


In other news, Logan is doing AWESOME at speech!  That boy works SO HARD!!  Today, he was putting out so much effort to complete the tasks before him that his whole body was shaking.  And he’s making progress.  A big piece of the focus is on core strength and building up his core so that he’s not perpetually compensating for his lack of strength.  Things like jumping on the trampoline, riding his bicycle, and chewing bubble gum (the hard stuff—hubba bubba bubble gum) are therapy exercises.  Fortunately, they’re fun to practice.  We’re seeing results, too.  Logan did 3 miles on his bike on a trail over the weekend.  He runs from our house to the park without stumbling or falling, and with a decent running form.  He’s mastered some of the ‘jaw strength’ exercises she wants him to learn.  The next step?  Developing lung capacity.  We talked about 2 options:  a specific whistle or a spirometer.  Logan’s eyes lit up at the suggestion of a spirometer and he said, “Grandpa has some!  I play with them at his house.”  Needless to say, a call was made to Grandpa this afternoon, and now we have a spirometer in our therapy box.  Logan spent the afternoon playing with it and the stopwatch on my phone.  It’s awesome when therapy is so much fun that he WANTS to play. 

School’s been much better the last 2 days, so I’m not feeling as desperate.  Fridays are low-key days on purpose, and we’re probably going to pick something fun to do when we’re done with our few things we have for school (Bible, reading, and science).  We’ve survived volleyball tryouts for Tori (varsity) and Jim (JV coach) and are looking forward to a nice weekend.  That’s a good place to be on a Thursday night.  :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

a lesson from the garden

cropped berries

Those came out of my garden yesterday.  Usually by now raspberries are long gone, but my bushes are still producing.  I’m picking about 2 dozen berries a day, but I think they’re almost totally gone now. It makes me a bit sad…this has been the best year ever for our berries!  These last berries have been the biggest, sweetest berries I’ve ever seen!!  Apparently, fertilizer, water, weeding, and patience are good for berry plants.  And children too. :)

I’ve thought a lot about this since the other day when I grumbled about school.  Maybe I’m pushing too hard.  Maybe my ‘tough to teach’ child needs less ‘fertilizer’ and ‘water’ and more patience!  He needs clear recognition that this is HIS time schedule, and while I do have some things I want to accomplish, it’s not only about meeting my goals or my dreams.   I need to remember that this is about making sure this little guy is properly equipped to be all that God has planned for him. 

I was stopped in my tracks yesterday as I read through Ecclesiastes 3.  Solomon is sharing his observations about time…

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil?  I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.  He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.  That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

Wow!  Did you catch that?  “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”  Ummm…okay.  I can take a hint.  My time schedule on this is clearly not God’s!  He promises, though, to take this…this MESS…and make it beautiful!!    And how about that other part??  The part that says “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.  That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”   Hmmm…am I finding satisfaction in all my toil?   Definitely not at the moment.  Guess it’s time for an attitude adjustment.

Today was a much better school day.  I made a few minor changes, and everyone was much happier.  Because of the raspberries, I’ve started considering something:  that the last of the crop is perhaps the sweetest because it is the most surprising, the most unexpected, the last tangible benefit of the time and effort.  And maybe…just maybe that applies at home, too.  This ‘last crop’ we’re raising, these little boys God has chosen to bless us with, are an opportunity for us to find satisfaction in the toil.  To learn and see and take to heart that only HE makes things beautiful.  And that He does it in HIS time.  Not mine.

Off to find satisfaction in the toil…and heaven knows there’s plenty of that!  :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

warning! Grumbly vent ahead…

Remind me again why I thought homeschooling a special needs child was a good idea?  I know the statistic that brought us here:  80% of deaf/hard of hearing children graduate from high school functionally illiterate.  We knew (thought!?!) we could do better than that.  Yeah, sure.  At the moment, I’m thinking that we’re well on the way to being one the 80%!!  It’s been ‘tear-your-hair-out!’ frustrating…and we’re only on day 2 of the school year.  sigh.

It’s not any one thing; instead, it’s the combination of issues that make it so:::challenging.  And it’s nearly impossible to separate out the pieces.  The lack of fine motor skills make worksheets hard.  The hearing and speech issues make oral work difficult.  The combination means staying focused on the ‘hard work’ is nigh unto impossible, even for 2 or 3 minutes.  (No, it’s not ADD or ADHD we don’t think.  The dr. agrees. )  We both strongly suspect there’s an overarching developmental delay that affects nearly everything.  We see it in a variety of things.  His drawings (VERY 3 year old-ish!) reflect it.  Many of his actions/reactions are much more ‘appropriate’ for a 3 year old.  His self control is approximately on par with a 3 year old.  He doesn’t tend to connect cause and effect.  Logical or natural consequences mean very little to him.  Every day is a challenge.  Adding school has made it harder.

This same child, though, the one who doesn’t connect cause and effect and has very little self control?  Well, he has the most amazing selective memory!  (It’s HIGHLY selective!!)  He cannot remember for 5 minutes to keep his hands off his sister’s things, but he can remember for 3 weeks snippets of a conversation Jim and I had about something not related to him.  And can recite that conversation almost verbatim!  Sure makes you watch your words carefully!!

I used to think we were fairly decent parents.  Now, though, we’re having to throw out everything we’ve ever learned in 22 years and start over.  Talk about humbling!  I just have to hang on to what I do know:  that the God who brought this child to us is the same God who loves us and is our strength.   At the moment, I am beyond grateful for His words in Lamentations 3:

“…this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him…”

Hanging on…

Friday, August 12, 2011

finally, some vacation pics

It’s been a strange couple of weeks.  We usually go to Blue Lake at the end of July, then jump right into August and the whole ‘back to school’ thing with both feet.  Not this year.  Our trip was a bit earlier than normal, and this year Jim took 3 weeks off instead of just 1.  We’ve been on the road a bit, and this week Jim’s been in Boise with Brent.  Monday, things return to ‘normal’ around here (whatever that means!)

In the meantime, here are Blue Lake pics:











Hailey wasn’t at Blue Lake this year; Emily was only there for a couple of days; Brent was in and out (and hates having his picture taken!); and Victoria spent most of her time floating on the lake.  I actually left my camera at the trailer much of the week, so this is all I’ve got.

Then last week we spent some time with Joel and Cathy, and did a day at Lincoln City.  The beach was glorious, and I spent more time enjoying the sunshine than I did taking pics.  But there are a few:




I love how Logan’s holding his shorts up out of the water in this pic!  The boys never even got wet!!




Ryan with his ‘best friend’…and Logan with Ryan’s ‘best friend’…



And some close ups that are pretty indicative of temperament:



Note the tear on Logan’s cheek.  It was because we wouldn’t let him out of the car in a busy parking lot.  Terrible parents!!  :)

Hailey was with us for this part of the trip, and she let the boys play with my camera.  One of them took this, and I like it! 


It’s fun to have her with us once in a while.  She generally works Saturdays, so this was an extra special weekend.

the quilts

The wall-hanging I did for our trailer.  Each square represents one of the children…(top row:  Brent, Victoria, Logan; bottom row:  Emily, Hailey, Ryan.  Yes, I know that it’s not the right order.  It was based on what layout was best!)DSC_0005
It turned out well and looks great on the wall.  After 10 years as a blank wall, it’s nice to finally have something there.
And I made 2 baby quilts for friends having baby girls.  Lilly was born August 1; Audrey was born August 5.  This is Audrey’s quilt.  Lilly’s looks just like it, except it has green binding instead of pink.  (I don’t have pics of Lilly’s quilt)  These were FUN!
Audrey was born in Texas, but her parents were part of our small group before they moved.  Because we couldn’t have a shower for her with her mom in attendance, we had a shower without them!  Everyone brought unwrapped gifts, and we laughed and talked and wrapped presents for Rachel and Audrey.  Then we spent time praying for baby Audrey and her family.  A big box was packed and shipped to Rachel in Texas, filled with love from the HCC family.  We had fun, and I know that Phil and Rachel feel blessed by their church family.  I had too much fun to take many pictures, but I did take one of the dessert table.  We had chocolate dessert cups filled with white chocolate mousse and topped with fresh raspberries from the garden.  Yum!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I forgot one lesson from the road.

If a grasshopper hits your windshield when you are driving 40mph, it will NOT die.  Instead it will fall, stunned, to the cowl vent cover* and stay there for a bit.  Then it will climb back on to the windshield and hang out, watching you with shifting eyes, while you drive.  Even if you are going 60 mph.  It can stay for as long as 12 to 15 miles before it decides to jump off.  Ask me how I know.  Or don’t.  I’ll get Emily’s pictures to show you. 

And let me tell you…it was creepy having that thing sit there watching us.  Ugh.  Don’t need to re-learn that lesson!

*The cowl vent cover is the grille thing between the edge of the hood and the base of the windshield.  :)

lessons from the road

We’ve been on the road quite a bit recently…something like 1400 miles (and 3 states) in the last 7 days alone.  It’s been quite the adventure!  We’ve learned lots, including:
  • Josh Groban has a incredible voice and his Illuminations CD is excellent.
  • Michael Buble’s CD Call Me Irresponsible is very good.
  • Josh Groban followed immediately by Michael Buble can make you laugh at the stark differences in their styles…we called it ‘musical schizophrenia’ in the car.
  • You can never have too many peanut butter MnM’s on a road trip.
  • Sour Patch Kids don’t go well with peanut butter MnM’s.
  • My love affair with the drive to Pullman is over.  I don’t care if I never drive that route again.  (But I will.  Many, many more times, I’m sure!)
  • My love affair with the Palouse is definitely NOT over.  It is SO GORGEOUS over there!  I would still move my city girl heart to that part of the state in about 33 seconds.  (It would take much longer to move the accumulation of 18 years and 6 children in this house.)
  • The Oregon coast in the sunshine is almost unbeatable.  And there’s nothing like an expanse of sand to make small boys happy. 
  • Ice cream for dinner is excellent.  Especially when it’s Tillamook Ice Cream, eaten at the cheese factory.
  • Shopping isn’t my favorite past-time, but I can enjoy tax free shopping in Oregon.  Too much, however, will make me grumpy, as we all witnessed.  First hand.
  • 6 year olds have a funny sense of humor.  We had to stop for some road construction Tuesday on our way to Pullman.  The first words out of Ryan’s mouth?  “I don’t have time for this!”  Excuse me?  What exactly did you have planned, little man?
  • When we got on the road again, he asked what time we’d be to Pullman.  I told him I’d have to think about it, that because of the construction, my estimate was off.  “Well” he said, “turn it back on!”
  • Jockeying for space on the bed to watch TV this morning, the boys kept kicking one another.  I told them there was plenty of space, and that they should take half the bed.  After thinking a minute, Ryan flopped down, spread-eagle, in the center of the bed and proclaimed, “This is my half, Logan.  Keep OUT!!”
  • Leaving a child at college the day before their birthday is not fun.  Especially when they’re not excited about their living situation.
  • Waiting at the pass while the road is closed for rock blasting can be an adventure.  Even when you are beyond ready to be home.  It’s not every day you can play in the median of the freeway!
  • And last, but most definitely not least, there’s no place like home!
We’re all glad to be back.  Or at least those of us who are here at the moment.  Jim’s in Boise, so his road trip isn’t over yet.  (I think his road trip will end up about 15 miles longer than mine, although some of those 1400+ miles we were together.)  And Victoria is now at the beach in Oregon; she’ll be home…hmmm…Saturday, I think.  Guess I’d better check into that one!
Excited to sleep in my own bed again.  ‘Night all!

Monday, August 8, 2011


…we haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.  Vacation was awesome, and one day soon I’ll post pictures.  We’ve been crazy busy—off to Portland for a few days to play and shop, tax free, for odds and ends for the college student.  A day at the Oregon coast was great, and I have pics of that too.  While we were down there we stayed with Jim’s brother and sister in law, and had the opportunity to help out some as Cathy needed to go be with her very ill mother.  Camille, Luke, and Grace were so much fun!  Flexible, helpful, and easygoing…they’ll do great while their mom is gone.  Now it’s a frantic packing day, as Emily leaves TOMORROW for WSU.  So sad! 

Once the dust settles (and my tears dry) I’ll put up pictures.  Oh!  I have pictures of the finished quilts, too.  I’ll post those as well.  I am working on a new project, and after a stop at Fabric Depot in Portland, I have ideas for another 2 or 3.  So many dreams, so little time!  :)