Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Plans and His

I recently shared part of my God Story with my dear friends at 

I have the privilege of being a mentor, because I have the privilege of being old. The young moms graciously use the word "experienced," but we all know they mean old.
(Funny things is that the age of my youngest child just barely disqualifies me for attending MOPS as a Mom Of a PreSchooler) 

While sharing a story I know (because, of course, I lived it) I was interested with a contrast which I hadn't previously considered. The discovery-of-sorts involves two separate times in my life. 

I was sharing some of God's Grace through 
the ups and the downs of my life. 

The first Sustained Down of my adult life was when Mark and I were joyously expecting our third child. Odd time to have a down, but God was writing the story, not Nicholas Sparks.

Because Mark was having some health issues that our medical minds knew could be
the worse possible scenario,
I was pretty unhappy. Here I was with our third child on the way, and there was a very good possibility the Daddy of my kids was looking at cancer. A yucky one. What was God thinking? What in the world would I do if I had to raise these three little ones without their daddy?
Did I mention, What was God thinking?

I was reading through the Bible that year and often used the boys' nap time to spend time in His Word and to pray. One particular Spring afternoon, I recall my beginning-to-be-overstuffed belly rubbing our overstuffed blue chair as I kneeled and prayed with hands held open: Okay. Fine. You're God. You know the end from the Beginning and You have this figured out. If You need to take my husband in order for Your will to be done, I guess You know what you're doing. My family is Yours.

My realization was that I couldn't "hold Mark in my life" in clenched fists, but neither could I hold anything else God wanted to give me. I began to pray "open palmed" that day. I still do (peek under the table when we ask His Blessing on the food, and there's a good chance they'll be open.) 

What I never suspected was that God was taking me through a spiritual chasm that was leading to a deep and sad valley for us. He didn't take my husband, but we soon lost the daughter I was carrying. I am surprised that 19 years later, it makes me weep. Ashley was still born at 27 weeks gestation, and my incredible, deep passage through grief began.

So, where was this Grace I experienced?
It was in the knowledge that God had loving walked me through the spiritual journey of giving my family to Him, before I was asked to walk through the physical and emotional trail I covered that year. None of it was pleasant, but He graced us with a loving church, kind friends, and a Comforter that gave peace we couldn't explain. I trusted that He had purpose in my pain, and trusted He would bring beauty to our ashes.

It was the first time my plans and His were in direct opposition 
and I chose to trust.

Another chapter in my God Story has more to do with gaining a child than losing one. Without giving details that could someday wound a delightful son of ours, I hope you'll hear my heart when I say that God asked us to parent our 7th child at a time when I was doing all I possibly could to parent the 6 we had. It was again a spiritual battle for me, but of another sort.

When we were asked by Matthew's birth mother if we would foster him while she dealt with some personal issues, I was certain it was the right thing to do. Mark and I were certain that God was asking us to trust Him and to obey the promptings of His Spirit. 

The ugly truth is I did not want to

Every minute this new child required of the Mama (and it was a good assumption that he'd need many minutes as he acclimated to a very new normal in his young life) meant a minute that my own kids would not be getting. Mrs. Analogy here felt that "pouring into" our 6 kids was an investment that you could "hear at the bottom of the pitcher." Pouring into Matthew sounded like emptying myself into a bottomless well--no guarantees, in any way, that our investment would change his life. 

It was the first time my plans and His were in direct opposition 
and I chose to obey.

God's grace in adding Matthew was miraculous. He added time and energy for Enough.
Enough of everything necessary.
He gave me miraculous pockets of one-on-one with each of the other kids, as well as patience with this little boy who had so much change happening in his life. (Honestly, if YOU were dropped into the middle of this particular family of Crazy 8s, how well would YOU do?!) 

In losing Ashley, I didn't have a choice. 
This is what life dealt; how are you going to handle it?

In adding Matthew, I had to make a choice. 
God is asking for obedience when it makes no sense; how are you going to handle it? 

These events in God's Story of my Life have another thing in common: they're behind me. I can look back at them and pull myself through the time in between to see the ways 
God has Graced me, and Grown me. He doesn't owe me any explanations, but I have seen ways that He's redeemed my losses. It strengthens my walk with Him today, and gives us interesting conversations along the way. I know He is trustworthy--although it still takes me a moment to decide whether I want to trust Him when things are difficult. I know He is gentle; I know He has much bigger plans that I can fathom; I know He will supply the needs each day, as the need shows up.

He's created beauty out of things that don't even look like ashes to me anymore. He's given me an incredible family. He's given me incredible daily walk with Him. 

He's given. So much.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do I Talk Too Much?

Do I talk too much?

Just askin' 

I've decided that I say too many words, because the words I say seem to have less and less value. It's not just that we have 3 young adult kids and they have less need of my words. It's more about the fact that I can say, "And remember to make your lunch for tomorrow," yet we can still wake to at least one less lunch than required by the growing bodies heading to school in the morning. 

I say, "Please take the trash out of the van or I won't be bringing after-school snacks." I investigate the three-day waft of something-not-quite-right-and-the-smelly-disk-isn't taking-care-of-it find a half-zipped plastic bag with a portion of an apple and a complete science experiment. If only I had thought to market it! I could have made our millions and retired to someplace Florida.

The reason we get lunches ready at night (and hopefully, into the frig.
 FYI--Meat sandwiches should not stay on the counter all night.)
 is to give me opportunity to keep 
the bliss as well as the bless 
in our mornings. Have I mentioned I'm not a morning person? 

I also ask the kids to get their uniforms ready in the evening. I find that it's much easier to wash and dry a pair of shorts or a jumper the night before, should that need arise. If my kid smells a little funky on a school day, he or she may be wearing an article of clothing that was sent through the dryer to "freshen it up" despite the ketchup stain on the right shoulder. It's also easier to have dad tie the real tie the night before. (Although one Thursday morning, Ben and I used a step-by-step you tube video to create a fabulous half-windsor knot in that snappy plaid tie of his.) 

Have you ever answered a kid's question, then had that child repeat his question within minutes...because he didn't listen for the answer? I've heard every variation of rationale for why he doesn't know what I said.
(Although, honestly, I'm not always certain I said my answer out loud...But, before I chew his or her head off, I think back and try to remember if my lips had moved and if sound had come out...)

Why do they ask a question if they aren't interested in getting the answer? And I am talking about the can-I-have-a-snack kind of questions, not the where-do-babies-come-from kind. I can guarantee you that they'll hear every inflection of your voice and every consonant you stumble over when those questions are asked.

There. That was my mini-rant.
but once again, it begs the question: Do I talk too much?

DO YOU SEE THIS?? voluntary, and unprovoked...

My newest tact is to (attempt to) decrease the number of words I choose to share with the kids. It doesn't mean we'll be in the Maxwell Smart's Cone of Silence (although I long to try it sometime.) It means I've seen a character-breech in several of the kids regarding their listening skills. 
Not just hearing, but l.i.s.t.e.n.i.n.g.

Since we are dealing with an issue that I personally feel needs to be addressed at a pretty young age (squish those words out for emphasis...a preeeeeetty young aaaaaaage) I guess I am going to take us all to revisit the training grounds. 
 Why do I believe it is part of their training to 
Listen to my Voice?
~the kind of listening that isn't just hearing me drone on about whatever~

When J and J were at a preeeeeetty young aaaaaaage, I expected them to listen and obey. But it wasn't until my friend Amy and I talked about it, that I realized I needed to be actively training them in that skill. I mean, there are whole courses at UF that help train a student to listen. 
Why wouldn't it take training to get the results I expected from my kids?
"Gummy teeth" called Zuby candy in the Czech Republic. 

I limited my directions to an age-appropirate number ("get in your jammies, brush your teeth and bring me a book") and had them repeat it back to me. Then, I actively waited while they accomplished their to-do list. I find that I still get totally off track if I try to tuck another activity into my down-time. I use the wait time to plan the next day, or to pray. If my body is busy with tasks, I soon wander off the training task.

So, my new/old tact is to decrease the number of words I use and be more careful in my directions, corrections, and responses. I expect them to look me in the eye when they speak to me (or anyone, especially an adult) but I don't always give them that same courtesy. I'm going to try to change that habit in myself. I am already back into the swing of checking up (accountability!) after I've made a request. The 5 kids at home full time right now need to know I will be checking with them in the near future, or things get left undone ("I was going to do it, just  after....") 
Thanks to Catie and Zhou Lei for the adorable outfit!

Of course, I'm going to tell you why I think it's more than just respect for me and my words that motivates me to put the extra work into this area of our character. I desperately want my kids to hear 
the Ultimate Authority 
in their lives and respond with obedience. In our house, we define obedience as doing the task
1. quickly
2. sweetly
3. completely

I want their hearts to respond to my voice (does "harken to my voice" sound familiar?) because obedience  is one of the gateways to our souls. God uses the "harken to my voice, and obey...with these consequences..." a lot in the First Testament of His Redemption (the Old Testament.) He also outlines the consequences of disobedience in great detail. Obedience HAS to START with hearing. True listening is the transmission of the word you hear into the word you process.

What we love, we follow.
Some of us follow sports stats (not in this house!)
Some follow Wall Street numbers.
Some of us follow Hollywood stars.
I want to follow Jesus.
I want my kids to want to follow Jesus.

So I will give the effort (and it is effort!) to train their hearts to listen to my voice. And pray that they learn to hear His voice, accept His Words, and obey, regardless of their personal preference or "rights."

 The current plan in our family still includes car snacks at the end of the day. I just can't take that away from the Golden Snack Queen. She rules the car for the first few minutes of each pick-up time, while she confers her choice morsels to the undeserving souls whom she encountered in car line. I, for one, hope we don't have to give that up for the cause...and I'm sure there are at least 5 others who would vote with me on this one.

Enjoying their 8:30 bedtime may be my one weakness.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Just photos

Kissing Courtney and Janna on the computer

The new washable Baby in Momma's old doll bed

Discovering "smelly playdough" (the fabulous homemade version)

I'd love to say she's this creative...maybe she will be, but not yet.

Lucy certainly looks big and scary when she "frog-legs" doesn't she? Those are 12" tiles.
CHECK OUT how close Maylin is!!! And it was all good with her.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Give What You Need

Once again, someone else's blog post put my brain on a path it's walked previously.
A mom who brought her newest daughter home from China 3 weeks ago was bemoaning the lack of interaction with her friends and extended family. She'd gone in to hyper-hibernate unintentionally, and was somewhat shell shocked at her...aloneness. 
As Mark and I read books to prepare ourselves for our own international adoption, (okay, truth prevails: I read them and gave Mark a Cliff Notes version of the author's key points. His glazed eyes told me to continue droning because he was deeply interested in every detail.) many of the authors encourage the adoptive families to hunker down and get the new child firmly assimilated into the family structure and dynamics before allowing others to influence him/her. 
It made sense at the time.
This blogger's first post regarding her aloneness was followed by an apologetic post acknowledging her in-laws presence and sweet help in the family. She then relayed her decision to call a somewhat isolated friend with a similar-aged daughter and detailed the fun the women had
reconnecting while their girls played.
The adoptive mom NEEDED to spend time with a friend. 
I assume she needed it  (1.) to maintain her sanity (2.) to put a little space between her and the always-demanding newest daughter (3.) alleviate mind-numbing boredom from dressing and undressing dolls for seemingly hours at a time and (4.) to gather some energy from an outside source. 
Those are suppositions based on my own life.

God led her to recognize that another mom NEEDED fellowship that she could give...and by meeting someone else's need, the need she personally felt was also met. 
That just says God all over it, for me.

God seems to allow bits of "hollow" in my life. Sometimes the hollowness is because of a loss. Sometimes it's a result of over-extension on my part. Sometimes I have a g'jillion straws stuck in me, sucking the creative life right out of my heart and brain that leaves me a bit empty. Sometimes it's just a passing phase of boredom.

I must, must, must encourage all of us to go to God first. I have to apologize to God more frequently than I ought for wanting to talk out a situation with a friend before I've given Him time to talk it out with me. I'm getting better at that. As a Dear One said in a note just today, she "realized that (she doesn't) have to be strong OR know ANY of the answers to this--(she) just needs to CRY OUT to God". 
He is so good and gentle to me always, 
but especially when I'm a bit on the dry side.
God has shown me through this roller coaster we refer to as LIFE that I am not the only one with needs (gasp!) and I cannot be the only one with (this particular) need. 
I think The Evil One has used that feeling in my life to pain me where there was no true wound.
The feeling that I am alone in this. 
The feeling that no one else has suffered in this way, for this long.
The feeling that I have needs and not one person is interested or able to meet those needs.
God gave me an idea: A Plan.

The idea did not come naturally to me. I can still name specific times that I asked friends for specific help to meet a specific need...and I got NOTHING in return. That ain't a cool feeling. 
(Yes, those times are more than adequately balanced by friends and family who went W.A.Y. out of their way to meet needs in my life...) 

So, what to do?

What do you do when LIFE isn't Lollipops and Roses? 
I was led to name the need in my life: Loneliness? Irritability? Feeling Uncared-For? good ol' Stress? Poor health? Needy kids sucking me dry? No spiritual refueling through God's Word? 
(I'll introduce you to my Name-It-and-Lame-It Theology another time, I'm sure.)
Some of my issues I just needed to talk out with God, then solve them myself (with His help and strength) But other times I just...I just...I just needed Jesus with skin on. In my own need,  it occurred to me that I could BE Jesus with skin on for someone...

If I wish someone would have my family over for dinner...I have learned to invite another family over to our home and feed them up something edible (even if it's take-out!)
It means when I'm in a tiff that my dear friend So-and-So hasn't called for awhile...I remember that phones dial both directions.
It means when I'm in a snit that I can't get time out of the house without someone under 3 foot tall tagging along, that I think of someone I could help by keeping their monster...uh...child so they can grocery shop without Cujo in their cart.
How about purposing to write a note to a Senior on a day that I am feeling old and creaky?
No one telling me I'm wonderful? Who can I random-act-of-compliment today?
(FYI, airports and malls are fabulous places to do that)
It might mean making myself look outside of me and my trouble, to others and their troubles.

For me personally today, it means I recognize I can spend delightful time with (much) younger mommas and their kids so that Maylin's need to be with kids is met, and I can stick my straw into someone else (bahaaaa!) It means I'm making two play-dates tonight: a child-filled one with a mom and her young daughters, and a child-free one with a friend who has lots of straws stuck in her from every direction. It means I will be honest, and encouraging at MOPS. It means I will overlook the snot on your shoulder if you'll overlook the finger paint on my shorts.

I think we can do that.
When I give what I think I need, I don't usually need it anymore.


Today, a friend noted that Maylin is 
pretty. tenacious. about what she wants.

She wanted to be not-where-Mom-was-going and let us know with her quiet resistance that she had no plans to enter the room that we were entering. She stood outside (with a window between us) and sulked while casting longing glances in the direction she wanted me to go. Since her safety was not an issue, I repeatedly motioned that she could join us, but didn't require her to do so.

I am comfortable letting her choose to be miserable, as long as she doesn't make the rest of us miserable. 
Mark dealt with something similar, but different this past Sunday.
(To preface the story: Maylin doesn't like "goodbyes." 
She must still think she is 
Queen of the Universe 
 because she apparently believes if she does her "whiny limp noodle show" that 
 the (insert undesired event here) will not happen.)

As the college boys said goodbyes, hugged us, and headed to the car, Maylin began 
The Show.
News Flash: All classes at UF must be cancelled if she "limp noodles" on Sunday night...
her brothers are released from University responsibilities because she has so willed it. 

Au contrair, mon ami!
As her performance gather momentum, her beloved Baba looked at me. He looked at her.
We understood her not wanting her playmates and
loyal subjects to depart.
Mark decided she could be miserable if she wanted, but she was going to be miserable...quietly
He dealt with her sweetly and firmly, and she understood that she'd
prefer to be less vocal about her misery.
We know we can't change her feelings, but we can help her choose
how to express them.

We don't want her to form the 
Habit of Unhappiness.

She isn't melancholy by nature (although a few of those live here) and Mark and I think a kid can have real feelings, and still express them in appropriate ways. Sulking has never made 
The Top Ten Appropriate Responses 
on any of our lists.

One of our jobs as parents is to put the 
around what is deemed appropriate in words, thoughts and deeds.
We all know that societies make some of that framework. (For instance, some things that are acceptable in the USA just aren't acceptable in other countries, and vice versa.) Each family's personality will also dictate what those fences look like. Each new individual added to a family  brings changes to that dynamic.

ie, My family accepts sarcasm (without an ugly undertone) as funny.
Yours may not. 
Mark and I as parents frequently entertain the child's point of view in a situation, then make whatever decision we need made,
while another parent might hear the same words as disrespect.
You might desire a child to "let it all out" when they are emotional,
while we attempt to train them that emotions are a real part of how God made us,
and He has given us choices on how we express them.

The core values need to be character-building based on the Bible, 
but the "flavor" of our homes shouldn't all be the same. 
(I might consider our house to be Lemon Meringue Pie: A substantial base with a bit of tartness, topped with sweet nothingness. Mmmm. Makes me want to go bake one up.)
Maylin's laundry day. She washed, rinsed, wrung out and hung doll clothes. No assistance needed.

Another conversation from today was also related to making
good fences for my kids.
Maylin is one of eight tenacious kids that I've raised.
They all dig their heels in at some point, so poor Maylin gets
the Momma-Who's-Already-Done-That
We're not sure when she'll figure out that I've seen most of the things kids pull. 
If my kids haven't done it, then I've probably seen yours do it.
Anyway, all I have to do most days, with most kids, is just last 
One Minute Longer 
than they do. 

Dig your heels in~~I'm wearing stilettos.
Grit your teeth~~I bought me a mouth guard.
Stare a vicious hole through me~~My vision is shot and I haven't gotten glasses yet.

When the conflict comes down to their will versus my request, I just have to outlast 'em.
And not by much. 
It does take energy, and purpose, and intentional parenting, but
They are worth it.
I am building the behavior-fence when the limits I set are the limits.

Some of you have run 26.2 miles...
Some of you have beaten cancer, or other life-threatening illnesses...
Some of you have survived incredible personal set-backs...
Some of you have built businesses from nothing...
Some of you have remained married through tough stuff...

You have the chutzpah to take on the 4 year old, or the 14 year old.
You just need someone to holla',
You, Go, Girl!
(unless, of course, you're not...then, I'll yell, You, in the dirty T-shirt, You, Go!!)
I personally think the Holy Spirit will be yelling with me.
Justin's 21st Birthday

My friend Karin posted this Facebook status recently:
Yesterday isn't today. Today isn't forever.

I liked the reminder that this phase (whatever it may be) is just a phase, and we'll get through it.
I want to do today well, because it won't be forever.

(right? I mean, she can't "limp-noodle" me when she's President, can she?)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Flowers in Different Colors

Maylin has been the star of the Blog Show recently, 
but that doesn't mean there haven't been 
other kinds of flowers 
left in special places through special people.
I am so impressed with Boy 4 that I could bust.

He is making good decisions regarding his school work, his attitude, and occasionally, his siblings.
His heart is quickly repentant when he is rebuked. 
He's even beginning to show signs of repentance before the rebuke comes. 
It's a transformation for which I am glad to the bone.
For those of you who don't know our guy as well as others do, he is 
our firstborn 
of the 4 born for us,
not through us. 
He came from a less-than-optimal beginning, and has had struggles with which some of my other kids have not had to deal. 
His momma has prayed prayers that are very different than those she had prayed before. 
We have known since the moment we knew he was ours 
(which was the "If we don't take him, how will he learn about Jesus?" moment)
that God had good plans for him, and a future. 
A future that was different than it would have been elsewhere.

He's still funny, and fun. 
He smart but learning not to boast in his amazingness. 
He's still Not-The-Mother, although he sometimes needs a reminder of that.

(If you overhear me say, "Do I still have a pulse?" it's not because I wonder. It's a reminder that while I have a pulse, I get to be The Mother.  After I'm gone, there is a hierarchy that must be followed until each in said hierarchy are pulse-free, at which point Child #5, 6, or 7 might get to be The Mother. 
I tell them not to count on that.)

Please don't get me wrong: he is still completely himself.
But his ginormous, meaty hugs are more sincere.
The "self-monitoring" that was lacking is starting to rear it's disciplined head every now and again.
And his friendships are growing up, too.

If only he didn't read my blog...(sigh), he'll have to deal with pride 
(or not, Son?)

 I love you to the farthest star...and back.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One Month Vocabulary

I was asked today, "Who's learned more language, you or Maylin?"
I haven't counted, but I think I can generate more in Mandarin than she can in English. 
BUT it's taken me 5 years to accumulate my paltry sum while it's only taken her a month.

She will have me whooped...this week.
Jonathan and Matt learned 4 colors, left, right, foot, and hand. Maylin learned "hiney.".

Here is a quick list of the things we know we've heard her say (on her own) I wish I could post video of her speaking, because the looks on her face, and the tone of her quiet, breathy voice are 
I can't catch it on video because as soon as the camera comes out, so does the "peace sign" and cheesy smile. She is sometimes silly, or thoughtful, or sassy as she begins to express herself in her new language.

Mama and Baba
Ah-wah-steni, which she will self-correct to Ahs-ten
wah-der, please
uh-puh, pweez (used most frequently when Loo-tzi is in the same room as Maylin)
the numbers 1-10
Mee-nuhs (minutes)
wuhn-too-free-go! (used most frequently in the pool, or when daddy is throwing her around)
If you read yesterday's post, you know she also says, 'men, at the end of prayers.

Do you need an *answer key* to her list of words? The first 12 are family names, and I think you can guess the rest.

Early in our bath time routines, I had pointed to her belly button and let her know that's how high I was going to let the water be. She now points to her belly button and tells me, "wah-der." After I let her play for a bit, I scrubbed her head and doused her. She stuck her index finger in the air and for the first time told me, "one minute." She wasn't quite done playing.

As I put her to bed, she almost climbed between the sheets, but turned to me with a question:
"Goo Baby?" (She was missing her brown doll and wanted to know where Baby was. She added the "good" part on her own.) Beth remembered when they had tucked Baby and all was well.

The only one that is adorable and gets under my skin at the same time is her ubiquitous, "Lessuh Go." I have resorted to google translate more than once to ask, "Where do you want to go? We don't have anywhere we need to go."  The Chinese coming from my computer speakers makes her lower her eyebrows and tighten lips. It gives me at least a 5 minute reprieve from "lessuh go."

Another Flower in our sometimes bumpy path this week was when Maylin spoke briefly with two friends from her orphanage who are now with their forever family in Ohio. After we spoke (the girls were a bit nervous, so we're going to try skype soon to see if that helps them with conversation) I got out the photo album that the director of her orphanage had given us. We had looked at it in Guangzhou, but I had avoided it since we got home. I didn't want to set either of us up for dealing with grief from her losses.

She l.o.v.e.d. it.
As we flipped from page to page, she chattered and even made fun of a couple of the kids who were digitally caught in less-than-optimum poses. I was so pleased for her to be able to share this with me without it seeming to put her into mourning. Such a bouquet!

In tonight's bedtime routine, I told her that we would 
(put one finger in air) "Brush our teeth, then" 
(two fingers in the air) "put on jammies. But," 
(shake head and then lay head on hands, to imitate sleeping) "no sleeping yet." 
She did her pouty face and said, "Fihe mee-nuhs." I smiled, made the sign for ten and said,
"You get ten minutes!" She did her pouty face and demanded, "Fihe mee-nuhs."
(Momma shrugged,) "Okay, five it is..."
Maylin won that one, didn't she?!
And one last tidbit...She loves her cousin, Meganne. 
Then again, who doesn't?!

We will not rub it in to the cousins that, although David got "first meeting," Meganne got a boatload of love and giggles.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

And Baba

A Mark Report:
As told to the mother in the kitchen immediately after occurrence.

(Visualize bedtime, school night, clean girlies in their 'jams with their pearlies so sparkling that you can't even look at their smiles without covering your eyes)

Mark usually takes the 'night-'night shift as I tidy the kitchen, or untangle my brain, whichever seems more urgent at the time. I help Maylin with her bath, then quickly lovingly hand her over to "Baba." 
He tucks, and tickles, and prays, and puts Maylin back in bed again, and tucks and kisses goodnight. And puts Maylin back in bed yet again.

I didn't know his prayer routine included, Thank you for
Matthew and 

This specific night, he came out with a glow.

Maylin has taken to loving on one of Beth's dolls, a brown (yeah!) BabyAlive.
She takes it with her in the car (carefully putting her in a seatbelt) She totes "Baby" to whatever room she is playing in. She loves picking the outfit, then having me wrap the baby in a blanket. Maylin has blossomed in the baby doll department this week.

As Mark came into the girls' bedroom to commence to begin to initiate (it does take awhile) the bedtime rituals, Maylin had her dolls ("Baby" and a few others--thank you, O.B, for one of them) lined up on the floor in a blanket "bed."
She had her own hands palm to palm and was kneeling over them.
 He could make out random words in her Chinglish babble: Sanks, Jon, Baba, ramble ramble, 'Men.
She repeated her prayer over each doll before kissing them on the forehead and climbing into her own bed. She was ready to have Baba pray over her, and kiss her 'night-night.

Isn't that just.too.much?

Mark is gone for the weekend to celebrate his parents' 50 Golden Years together. I did the tucking tonight (and Someone blessed me with a smooth bedtime. Thanks for those Flowers!) I was thanking God for the two girls in that room, and Maylin interupted with " an' Baba." I remembered that we needed the whole list and ran through them slowly with her. 
And she finished with her precious 

Babies learning to talk to Jesus may just be my one weakness.

When You Know Better...

I am enjoying the idea of my blog WAY too much. I talk to you people in my head, all day.
I'm not sure if it's therapeutic or psychopathic. 
Either way, I still do it.

The trouble is...I forget. 
I'd like to say, I get interrupted by a child in my busy life and forget,
but the truth is I just forget. 
In those moments of, "What was that really cool thought I was pondering in the car?" or the "I'd like to share that insight in a post, if I could remember it," I give credit to the Holy Spirit. I believe He removes those thoughts from my head so you don't have to wade through them.

One thought that remains came from a couple of situations that occurred this week. 
Of course, they happened the same afternoon, because 
we can't spread out stupidity.
It kind of clumps at our house.

The following is purposely vague:
In more than one incident, one of the kids older than Maylin (that narrows the choice to 7) chose a plan of action (that deletes the one kid that never plans) that put Maylin in a precarious situation (physically or emotionally) after they came home from school (which means the oldest 3 cannot be implicated since they are at college during the week.) I'd love to regal you with the amazing events, but let's just say, the 'rents were mad.
Real mad.

One of the thoughtless choices involved Lucy, the huge barking mass of scary dog that loves Asians  people, and the other involved the pool. As Mark and I swapped stories of
"Why would your kid do that?" the obvious occurred to me:

I prefer to take the maternal position that they weren't attempting to sabotage all good things in our family, they were just being short-sighted kids who weren't considering the long-term consequences of their actions.

Seems like such kid things to do (which we recognized after the steam boiled off Mark and me)
After all, they're kids. 
I'd tell you they are 10 and 11, but you might figure out which of the kids were specifically involved.

I honestly thought, When will they figure out why those were stupid poor choices? 
I instantly heard, "When they're about 47 years old, Dorothy."

It may have been the Holy Spirit, but it sounded a lot like my mom inside my head.
Mom says our Grandmother would tell her 
(when my mother would be frustrated with her own precious children,) 
"You can't put old heads on young shoulders, Marilyn."
Why do two year olds put toys down the toilet? Because they can. They can't materialize in their heads that this has consequences that will take up your time, energy, and sometimes money. It's just cool to them.

Why do teens text while driving? They have not made the personal connection between that behavior and the fatal consequences possible.

Why do 5 year olds use permanent marker on things upon which you do not desire to have their signature? They, too,  have not made the personal connection between that behavior and the fatal consequences possible.

They need life experiences to make them as smart as us. 
How are they going to get it? 

My dad frequently said,When you know better, you do better.
There is a fair amount of hope in that statement.

For a parent, when we recognize there is a lack of knowledge, therefore an inability (not always a lack of desire to do right, or even rebellion) to make "the adult" choice, it takes some of the tension out of the issue. We can help "cure them of stupid" with loving instruction. We won't always be able to make choices for them, but we can encourage and train them to think before they act.

For the child, the hope in that statement comes from the fact that someone believes you are capable of different. You are not stuck in a never ending pathway of stupid. Someone thinks you can grow and learn and do better next time. That thought encourages me when someone speaks it into my life.

So, the "take-home idea" here is that our kids are kids
I am just so stinkin' smart sometimes, aren't I?

To my friend B, Betty Cakes may actually be my one weakness.

And Oh, Oh, Oh!! Flowers all over today (after that not-so-good day) and I will certainly tell you about them soon!!!