Miss. Manners!

June 9, 2014

Standing in Walmart tonight, putting lipstick on my chapped lips, I had a flashback from my high school days.  Our family was out at a restaurant, which was unusual at that time, and had just finished eating.  As always, my mother pulled out her lipstick from her purse along with her mirrored compact and proceeded to re-apply her glossy lips after the meal.  Being somewhat a smart aleck (ahem!), I announced that Miss. Manners says that you shouldn’t apply your lipstick in public.  You should go to the bathroom and do it in the privacy of your own space.  My mother, without missing a beat, replied, “And that’s why she’s still MISS Manners!”

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HAhahaha!  That’s all I got today.  Where’s my soothing chapstick?

Whirlwind Weekend!

May 28, 2014

 

Whirlwind Weekend is now behind us.  Our eldest son, Austin, graduated in a beautiful ceremony for which Rick and I were responsible.  There were a few snags, but the evening turned out to be very rewarding for the 145 graduates and their family and friends.  They felt loved, celebrated and prayed for! So worth it, in my humble opinion, to put on a grand celebration for homeschool graduates!  A homeschool graduation is a day to celebrate the parents who chose this often difficult educational route, the mama who toiled endless hours in subjects she’s not all that familiar with, the siblings who were right there in the thick of things and of course, the graduate who survived.  This child in particular, caused more prayer hours in my life…. so far….. please read the previous post to learn why we are so proud of him!

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After cleaning up the church and scrambling home by 11:00p.m., we slept for four short hours and then jumped in the van to drive 17 hours to a wedding in Oklahoma.  Son number two has had his driving permit for one week…. no, not even.  Five days.  F I V E.  So we endured a few white-knuckled hours of experience for him during extremely uneventful stretches of flat highway across the top of Texas and Oklahoma.  How can he be allowed to drive?  He was chubby and cute and three years old just a few months ago???

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The wedding was beautiful…. truly… as beautiful as a wedding can be.  Our daughter was one of the bridesmaids and it was such a joy to experience the love between the young couple starting their new life together! And blast it all, I didn’t take one picture of the couple together!

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In the fairytale setting there was a fairytale swing… one of the tallest I’ve ever seen.  Nora had a few moments of terror after the ceremony.  Her scared belly laugh makes me giggle.  It’s the laugh she can’t hold in… throaty and deep.  I love it!

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Above all, I’m glad to be home.  Home sweet messy home.

 

Parenting Do-Over, Please

May 14, 2014

Our eldest son, the second blessing God sent us, has been on his own plan since he was in my womb.  That kid kicked and moved more than my other two put together.  Then he didn’t want to come out…. at all.  Truthfully, his head had grown too large to make the journey, but that’s another painful story for another painful time.  On the tenth day past his due date, he was pulled into the world screaming louder than any child I had ever heard in my life.  My first words were, “He is loud!”  Then the doctor announced that it was indeed the biggest baby head he had ever seen!  Nice.  I pride myself an winning at all avenues of life…. including offspring head circumference. Hence my 17 year old patch on my sash of life “Biggest Head Delivered at Misericordia Hospital, Edmonton 20th Century.”

Then came schooling.  He just wasn’t interested.  He wanted to play and play hard and loud.  He was good at it too. He’s been to the ER more times than the rest of the five family members added up.  He couldn’t have cared less about letters and sounds and words and reading.  Nope… let’s go make some cardboard wings and jump off the bunk bed.  He was nine years old …. N I N E… when he first sounded out a letter and a short word.  NINE, people.  And I’m his teacher.  What does that say about me and my skills and my training and my self image?  Remember, I like to win in ALL avenues of life.

He was also nine when he designed, measured, installed and set up our backyard sprinkler system.  No, he couldn’t read well, but his talent was evident elsewhere.  He was athletic. Still is.  He has played soccer and hockey and golf and cycles on a team. He’s strong.  Won the fastest hockey skater in the USA when he was 10. He’s my kid, after all. He can ride his bike for 72 miles around a lake and then wants to go for a swim when he’s done.  Winning!

Due to his multiple concussions and the end to his career in contact sports, we had him tested to set a baseline incase more concussions were in his future.  We wondered, after hitting his head seven or eight times, if there was damage that was irreparable. The testing took six hours.  I watched four complete Disney movies in the waiting room that day.  Toy Story reminded me of the cardboard wings and a jump off the bunk bed that left a blue goose egg on that boy’s head for a week.  When the doctor went over the results with us, his first words were, “There is no evidence that this boy has ever hit his head.” I replied, “That is a miracle from God!” He agreed.  The doctor also told us that in his 25 year career of testing kids and adults, he had never seen anyone with better spatial relations when it came to hand eye coordination.  I asked what occupation that was needed in.  A mama’s gotta know these things.

At the start of high school, he came into our room at midnight, because that is when teenagers are available and willing to talk to their parents, when their parents are completely shot, emotionally unstable and exhausted.  He announced that he didn’t plan on going to college.  I about jumped up and shouted Hallelujah!  I seriously didn’t know how he would do with massive amounts of reading required.  He told us that God had called him to serve people, to build homes in Mexico, to be a missionary.  Following after God has always been dear to our hearts for our children. I breathed a homeschool mom sigh of relief that this kid wouldn’t have to take the SAT.  Then he announced that he didn’t really see a need for high school either.  I told him quite flippantly, “That part’s not from God.”  (I have since realized I was wrong!) Because we know that in today’s society it is expected to fit into the norm and DO high school.  Biology and Renaissance history, dangling participles and chemistry, English literature and geometry.  Necessary.  Pshwaaaaa.

We should have listened to him.  After two and a half years of classes that he deemed unnecessary, he begged and pleaded to take the GED and be done with this nonsense and get on with his call from God.  More recently, he’s feeling the direction to work with homeless people.  He’s bold.  He’s been working with them for several years.  What high school kid asks on Friday night if he can go downtown and pray for people on the street?  Big headed kids.  We finally realized that we should have tailored his high school years toward God’s call on his life.  Maybe some classes on economics, running a non-profit, dealing with anger management, self defense and Spanish.

Today he passed his third of four GED tests.  I keep telling myself, he’s only been reading the English language for EIGHT years and he is passing the high school requirements.  His plan is to go this fall to a church intern program where he can work in a homeless shelter and do street ministry.  We have to sign permission slips because he won’t quite be 18 when he leaves.  We couldn’t even book his plane ticket on Expedia or Travelocity because he’s too young.

I realize this is partly my fault for reading real life missionary stories to him as a kid….. Mary Slessor…. David Livingstone…. their lives made a deep impact on this kid of ours.  I took him on missions trips to see with his own Caribbean blue eyes people who need Jesus. He realized at a young age he could help.  He was 12 when he hammered sheetrock on a ceiling in Mexico for five days straight for a daycare that is keeping kids out of orphanages.  He got it.  Big time! We couldn’t be more proud of him.

But for this one kid, I wish I could have a parental do-over. We have learned, however, to raise each one toward his bent in life.  Coax their God given talents into shining examples of God’s mercy and grace!  We will do better with the last two children entrusted to us.  We promise!

So Glad You Asked!

April 17, 2014

Asked What? Happy 13th month anniversary of my car accident!  Break out the sparkling cider!  I thought an update was due, since it is the stupid accident’s fault that my blogging has slowed so.

How are you? I’m fantastic, but improving daily. My right arm still hurts every day, usually just my shoulder, but some days it’s all the way to my elbow.  It is not cry-in-the-corner pain.  It is low-grade only-take-ibuprofen-about-twice-a-week pain.  On six of seven mornings, my first wakeful thought is, “Oh, my arm hurts,” and then I go on with my day.  But it is draining and most days I’m exhausted by 3:00 p.m. just from normal wear and tear of being a homeschool mom.  I don’t make dinner as much as I used to.  My house isn’t as clean as it was just over a year ago. I can’t seem to muster blogging strength or humor. Back in the day, when in the depths of a writing project, I could sit at the computer for six to seven hours and get lost in my own thoughts and words.  Now, after about 20 minutes of typing I need a heat pack on my shoulder and max typing is about 40 minutes.

How is treatment going? We have exhausted all forms of treatment, save pulling out my toenails so I think of something else instead of the pain in my shoulder. I have had therapy, nerve testing, multiple injections in my neck and shoulder, Graston treatment (think of medieval torture instruments being dragged across already wounded muscles), multiple MRIs, massage, pain management and my last resort, being the wimp that I am about needles, acupuncture.  Nothing has improved in the last six months.  So I quit acupuncture.  Seriously, I would have to psych myself up to go and then not look at the 20 needles sticking me twice a week.  I did ten sessions.  I gave it the old college try.  Then I quit.  And I’m really good with that decision. The doctor put in a circle of needles on my shoulder every visit and told me once that it is called “circle the dragon.”  I’m not into all that Eastern medicine hokey-pokey-kung-phuey, so in my mind it came to be known as “circle the wagons.” (You know how much I love 1850′s westerns!) Weekly massage is ongoing.  It’s not the feel-good-and-relax-when-you’re-on-a-cruise massage, sadly.  It’s the work-out-the-pain-and-hold-back-the-tears massage.

What next? We are planning on settling the personal injury case in a “this is as good as it’s going to get” state. Highly disappointing, but I am not without hope of healing from the God who closed a hole in my baby girl’s heart, caused cartilage to grow in my son’s flimsy ear and worked miracle after miracle to bring Nora to our family.  There is ALWAYS hope!

How can we pray? Thank you for asking! Pray that complete healing will come. Pray that I learn whatever dumb lesson I’m supposed to be learning in the waiting time. Pray that God’s will be done.  THANK YOU!!!

Ten-Year-Old Money Management

April 16, 2014

“Mom, my size eight underwear is too tight.  Can we please get me some more?”  Of course this was only uttered in complete isolation from her brothers.  Of course.  She is mortified if I say the word “bra” out loud whether we are alone or not.  It makes me want to work “bra” into every conversation.  Which I am capable of doing, but I’m trying to be the nice mom (in a white bra.)

So off to ROSS we went.  Dress for less.  That’s my idea of a good time.  And Mr. Wallet’s too.  Straight to the back of the store to the girls department we hightailed and bee-lined to the clearance section.  There is ALWAYS underwear on clearance, which I don’t really understand because they don’t go out of season. Ever.  (Well, except for a season in my teenage son’s life when he wore bathing suits for three months…. but I digress.)

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BINGO!  Five multi packs to choose from.  All the right size.  All were five pair for $3.  All were cute colors.  All were bikini (which is apparently highly importante for the Colombiana!)  (When she has her first love in college, and he finds this blog, she’s gonna kill me… but that is so far off, I shall continue.)  I wanted to yell, “Sweet Jesus! We scored in the clearance section, folks!” but I did not, only because I noticed something was amiss on my daughter’s face.  She was not as exhilarated as I was with the undies find.  After questioning her dislike for my super saver bargain, she explained that the sudsy, mini yellow Chihuahua in the bathtub pictured on the first pair of panties in the multi pack was no bueno! I countered with an explanation that she could have five pair for $3 and wear the Chihuahua or she could stay snug in her size 8s.  The little doggie grew on her, as I knew he would.  Plus out of the five pair only ONE had the doggie!  The rest were boring… albeit in cute colors.

She was not done. Oh no. The bubbly Chihuahua was not going down without a fight. Turning to the non-sale section, she pointed to some cute sets of pink undies with turquoise lace gracing the top. Seriously, the ones she picked looked like they were strays from the racy lingerie section of the ladies department.  Why do they even make little girls underwear resemble Victoria’s Secret garb? Pointing out the $6 price tag for TWO pair, I asked her how many doggie panties we could buy for six dollars.  She thought for a moment and answered correctly, mumbling defeat, “ten.”

I explained that it is not a wise use of our money to buy two pair of fancy duds when ten serviceable ones would do.  I suggested that if she really wanted the lacy ones, she could use her own hard-earned money. (Insert eye roll here.) Utterly ridiculous! She would not pay $6 for two pair, even though she wanted me to. No way! She even made a little snorting noise in disgust.

And the underwear lesson went down in the history book as a frugal find but a fashion failure. Egads… a bathing Chihuahua… can you even imagine?!? Disgraceful!

 

Nora’s English Lessons

April 7, 2014

Nora’s English lessons are ongoing, continual, every day, all day long, even into the dark of the night, forever… it seems.  Just today’s list of words that she learned …. either the meaning or the pronunciation:

1. “Shweediss” = Swedish…. as in Swedish pancakes, my grandmother’s delicacy.

2. “School Rock House” = School House Rock.  Come on! Those are classics!

3. Inspect … “isn’t that when you save piles of things like rocks?”  Um no.

4. “Ann of Grenoble.”   Oh.My.Stars!  Anne of Green Gables.  She did not live in Russia near Chernobyl!

5. “Dad didn’t ate any.”  We ain’t hillbillies no mo.

6. “Mom, what is a globin?”  I don’t know.  “It’s here in my book!”  Spell it.  “G O B L I N.” That spells goblin…. it’s a make believe little monster.  (Why the heck are there goblins in the phonics workbook anyway??!!)

7. Nora looking at a picture of a newspaper and logically trying to choose the descriptive word from: Pretend, Prison and Printed.  “It looks like it’s really a paper and but you could pretend it’s not. You could read that in prison. Someone had to print it, so it is printed. I don’t know this one, Mom.”  Circle any of them, Nora.  :o)

These are the days of our lives. 

Anne with an E

April 6, 2014

One of my favorite book series is Anne of Green Gables.  The summer we drove across Canada and camped on Prince Edward Island, Anne’s home, I read the series as we passed the Lake of Shining Waters and the White Way of Delight.  Lucy MM’s writing is superb.  The words that come out of Anne’s mouth are hysterical!  She is so full of imagination and wonder at every little thing… and highly dramatic!  So funny!

Several months ago, I started reading a shortened version of the book to Nora, our little adopted daughter.  I wondered how it would affect her, hearing about Anne’s heartbreak at not having a family.  The book glossed it over pretty well and got right into the daily events on Anne’s life at Green Gables.  Yesterday, I found the movie online for Nora to watch.  It is over two and a half hours long so it took three sittings to finish it all.  Nora sat on the end of her chair the entire movie!  It was priceless.

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This tentative look on Anne’s face as she waits for Matthew at the train station…. it’s the same one I saw on Nora’s face the day we got her.  “Will they like me?”  “Am I okay?”  “Will they keep me?”  “Will I be safe?”  “Everything changes today.”  WOW!

The movie does not sugar coat the fact that no one wanted the red haired orphan in the beginning.  Nora didn’t say much, other than looking at me with wondering eyes and asking, “They do keep her, right?”  I watched most of the movie with her, but never looking through the eyes of an adopted child until yesterday.  She must have related to so much of the story.  It broke my heart when the two women in the very beginning call Anne “trash”… good heavens.  I didn’t even remember that part.

I understood a bit more now about how Anne wanted to be called Cordelia, hoping for a different life than the one she had been given that lead her to the depths of despair. Marilla’s line was superb, “To despair is to turn your back on God.”  So true!

We’ve had two nights of reassuring talks that Nora is ours forever. That God never left her without someone to take care of her. That we prayed for her for four years before she was part of our family.  That God chose her for us and us for her. I don’t think we can ever say those words enough.  Ever.

This was a First for ME!

March 30, 2014

Toilet paper is apparently a current topic in my life.  Some of our children’s friends TP’d our house a few weeks ago and due to the extremely pokey trees we have in the yard, there are remnants of the prank still waving at us. Even our tall son and his hockey stick couldn’t remedy the situation. My extremely frugal husband was thrilled to find five rolls of TP with 3/4 of the goods still on the roll! We have been saving money left and right from this yardly joke.

This morning after church, I was visiting the ladies room and when I arrived in my chosen stall, I noticed a huge white rose where the toilet paper should have been. I did see the elderly lady who left the stall before me, and I wrongly assumed that it was a silk rose to clip in her hair that she inadvertently left behind. Upon closer inspection…. not so. The sweet dear had taken the time to make a toilet paper rose…. FOR ME!

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Never in my life have I seen a TP rose! It made me smile. The thoughtfulness of that little lady. All for me. I feel the need to find a how-to-make-a-TP-rose video on youtube so I can pay it forward.

Wasn’t that nice of her!?!

Miss Potter Strikes Again

March 28, 2014

If you have been around MySister’sJar for any length of time longer than three days, you are probably aware of my fascination with the movie Miss Potter.  I  L O V E  it.  That is all.

All around me little hints of my favorite film show up to bring a smile to my heart if not also to my face.  A wooden hedgehog in a craft store yesterday.  My watercolor paint brushes standing lonely in a smudged jar.  A vintage, faded-yellow-with-time envelope that was mailed to my grandmother in 1928.  A stuffed Peter Rabbit in his blue jacket with brass buttons in TJ Maxx.  Everywhere.  Even at the river last Monday.  I took a picture of my shadow because it reminded me of Beatrix.

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I imagined Beatrix saying her first lines from the movie, “There’s something delicious about writing the first words of a story.  You never quite know where they’ll take you.  Mine took me here….” as she was sitting beside crystal blue water in the Lake District.  Here she is wearing the outfit for my shadow:

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Okay, it was mostly the hat, but it DID remind me of my fellow author/artist/lover-of-nature bosom friend, a couple generations removed.  My nature journal brings joy to my soul.  I cannot draw nearly as well as Beatrix, but it is inspiring to try.  The smell of the eraser.  The rainbow of colored pencil crayons in the RIGHT order in my prisma-color box. The challenge of copying some little tidbit that God created in nature for US!  Yes, for us to admire and marvel at… and draw in our nature journals.  :o)

Do you have a favorite movie that shines reminders to you everywhere?

That’s MY Girl!

March 14, 2014

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Nora, my 10-year-old, came and inquired about the “easiest” dictionary for her to use.  “The Children’s Picture Dictionary that you keep in your playhouse is the easiest one,” I answered.  Then she spied it.  My pretty sky blue Complete Christian Dictionary was in arms-reach on the homeschool shelf in the family room.  She pulled it down and sheepishly asked if she could use THIS one.  “Of course you can but it doesn’t have as many words as a regular dictionary,” I explained.

She hopefully queried her daddy, Do you want to sit on the couch with me and read the dictionary?  Hahahaha!  That’s my girl!  The three males rolled their proverbial eyeballs at me.  Gah!

Sitting on the couch for about 20 minutes, she was flipping pages left and right and I could hear, under her breath, “J K L M,” and “S T U V W.”  Finally I questioned, “What word are you looking up?”  “Booty,” she replied, which brought on a burst of laughter from me, her father and brothers.  She’s not thinking baby booties…. unfortunately.  We (term used very loosely) taught her the clapping game Big Booty when she joined our family in Colombia.  To no avail, I tried to explain slang words. I eventually gave up with, “Booty won’t be in the Christian dictionary.”

“Why not?” she inquisitively asked.  One of her brothers told her, “Bad words aren’t in the Christian dictionary.”  Her big brown eyes flew open as she realized booty is not a good word to be using. “Is it a swear?” she almost whispered.  Her daddy replied, “Not really, but it won’t be in there.”

“Are you sure bad words aren’t in here?  Let’s look one up and see.  What’s a bad word?” she expectantly asked her daddy.  “Well, you tell me all the bad words you know and then we’ll see,” my tricky husband answered.  Hahaha!  She wasn’t falling for that!  Then her brothers glanced at each other and one of them added, “We can think of some bad words you could look up.”  Not funny and not happening, thankyouverymuch.

Nora settled for looking up “any” word.  Then she came up with TRAP.  Her and her daddy spent WAY too long finding the T… then the R…. then the dictionary fell and closed and they had to start all over.  She asked again, “What does it start with?” “C” said one of her mischievous brothers.  We all chuckled and I threw the wet blanket on the crowd conversation again adding, “It’s a CHRISTIAN dictionary…. trap starts with T in the Christian dictionary.”  Good grief!


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