A place to be real about a life of chaos, with eight beautiful children, homeschooling, special needs, adoption, sanity or the lack thereof.........a rubber hits the road sort of journey that I thankfully do NOT walk alone!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Choose Thankfulness.....

What an absolutely beautiful weekend we have been blessed with!

This kind of weather makes it easy to look out the window and see the many wonderful things surrounding us to be thankful for.

Around noon yesterday we struck out with the children to find a beach!    It was 24 degrees out and last year on the same weekend we went to Kincardine to play.    So.....we set the GPS and headed northwest in hopes of seeing some beautiful colours and eventually hit water!    We ended up in Goderich where we first spent time viewing the still visible devastation from the tornado that ripped through this town on August 21, 2011.   The children were shocked to see houses with the rooves blown off and many, many homes missing several windows.    What was evident as we passed near the downtown "square", which actually better represents a wagon wheel with several streets reaching out from the centre, was that this was truly a "community".    There was a fund raiser with music playing and people milling around.....the money raised was to help refurbish the buildings and return this community structurally to the way it was pre-tornado.  It will never be the same.    More notable though was the number of people out working around their homes....families were working together to restore and in some cases sadly to simply clean up the mess of what was once a home.....even in the midst of strife these people all seemed happy and "thankful" for their friends and their community.   Many homes had spray painted messages on them ....."We love you Goderich" and "we'll be back!!"    This little community represented what unity should look like as their collective outlook on a tough situation shouted a message of determination and a "temporarily down but not out" attitude!    What a fabulous example for our kids as we drew this to their attention.

Thank you for my home...

We found the beach!   

The water was a bit chilly but it didn't stop them!...

lots to do......

searching for the best rocks.....

climbing them.......

and even throwing them......

a great time!

I have so much to be thankful for.....as we enjoy a relaxing day at the beach and a beautiful drive home I can't help but think about the importance of recognizing how to be thankful for the simple things.   The hustle and bustle of life and all the expectations it brings.....a simpler, easier yet more purposeful seeking out of the awesomeness of our God.......

cool eh?

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my family and friends....May you each experience the joy that comes from gratefulness in the small things of life.....

I am so grateful for days like yesterday..... my family, my home, the food we have to eat and the ability to speak openly about my faith...so many in this world have so much less.

We all have the choice.....I choose thankfulness!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rear View Mirror Philosophy

What do you see in your rear view mirror?

Life is sometimes about reflecting on the past....the things we've left behind....perhaps the things better forgotten.....or more often hopefully the things of days gone by that fill our life with memories...the positive kind....the stuff that's made us who we are!

My life is full of tons of wonderful memories but you know.....even so.....what the future holds is still far more exciting to me.   I'd rather think on all that might be!   The potential of every experience....who it may impact.....where it might lead.....what I might glean from it and then impact generations to come by my own legacy!!!


I wonder......they say hindsight is 20/20 but I'd rather count on the perfect vision of my future!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Less is More!

                                              I can't believe today is the first day of October!
School is finally into a nice routine but it is keeping me hopping!    I just noticed it's been two weeks since I posted here.....

Today was an absolutely wonderful day!   The sun was out and it was just a tad "brisk", ok.... it was quite cold!    I think my van temperature said it was 10C and that combined with a swift north wind made for a chilly day.    

The kids spent the morning just hanging out and I finished up my bible study for the week.    This week was on Sabbath and I have to admit I learned alot....What struck me as an historical rule for setting aside one day of no work, I now understand to be so much more than that and most importantly a blessing.... a day of rest......a time to reflect on God's creation and my redemption.   What I did realize was that we have chosen as a family to really decrease the extra curricular activities outside of church and as a result I think we are one step ahead as far as being able to set aside time every week to "rest".    The trick of course is to actually implement this without feeling like we need to be "busy" doing something.    

So.....although today was Saturday....I decided it was too beautiful to not strike out and enjoy.    The kids and I set out on a drive to see if we could find a cool country schoolyard to play in.   The children have come to look forward to these impromptu outings .... well....most of the time and today was no exception. 

 We didn't go too far as it was late in the afternoon already and ended up only about 20 minutes from home at a fairly new playground.   We stopped for some donuts ... for the energy needed to play of course!    After "fueling the tank" all eight were ready to go......

There was climbing....





staying warm!....

and just being plain goofy!!!...

What a great day we had!   

Home for curry chicken on a bun with ice cream for dessert of course  :)  Eight baths, six loads of laundry and I'm off to bed to do a little reading before getting some sleep....

I am so thankful for the simple moments in life.  

Continuing to strive for the new normal......simple.....less... it usually is more!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Alone ... to a quiet place...to rest?

“…He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31b

This was the scripture attached to a devotional I try and read daily...."come...by myself"?...."for rest"??
Now that....that sounds just downright glorious...except that I am my own worst enemy.

I really have no one to blame...it's quite easy to get caught up in ... well... getting "caught up".

My daily schedule is full of routine.  Mostly so my charges don't implode at the mere suggestion of something not totally expected.   It's busy.   Just.  Busy.    There are lots of days I look back and truly question what it is I have accomplished despite being "busy".

Today is a good example....it was the first day of school around here.   The culmination of many hours of planning and scheduling, organizing and assigning.    By 8:30 am. I was determined to be on track and all seven of the schooling children would be hard at it.    It worked... and within 20 minutes one had cried, one had refused, one had dished a very healthy load of attitude and one was pouting.   The other three were probably being excellent students but somehow I was more wound up in the "challenge".  

We persevered and defeated the work of the day!   Yay!!!   I'd like to take credit for some of this but to be honest I have been recently reminded I surely don't do this on my own and the glory is definitely directed at the ONE who holds me up .... (often by the armpits I'm sure as I go kicking and screaming into another challenge)   :)

So my whole attitude adjustment that was to include giving it all to God as I enter another day is working thus far....but today I was convicted as I read my morning study that perhaps this sense of "needing" to be busy is something I should think of giving up all together.   I'm sure it's an addiction in some weird way...the inability to sit down in a day is not normal....is it?    Perhaps I'm too far gone....I wonder...

Ah not so....just a little in need of a kick in the pants to remember how it is I am to recharge the battery in order to function at my best in my role around here.    

Surely a little "sit" wouldn't hurt.   I little quiet place to rest..... 

This isn't exactly what I had in mind ... but believe me I'd try it if I thought it would work!!

So....even though.....the pharmacy is late filling the boys' prescriptions (these are important!!)....one child insists on testing my unconditional love as a mother while sitting visibly pining over a picture of his birth mom (in rebellion to correction)...I'm reminded by a well meaning child it's time to dye my hair...mornings continue to challenge the safety of some just because it's ... well ... morning...I'm not baking enough because supper was the first they hadn't had a treat all week...there are no more suckers left in the cupboard and .... not everyone likes what is prepared for supper....EVER....

We are all called to come alone and ....rest......

It's perfectly impossible reasonable to have a moment of non-business in a day ... purposely ... to handle all of the above.... says me....now I'll try and put it into practice!! 

(This has absolutely nothing to do with this post but I couldn't help myself....It was back to school picture morning and he had to be included!! )

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hit the pause button!!

Is there a pause button??  Please let there be a pause button!!
Have you ever had a day like that?   Perhaps a day where a "do over" would seem an appropriate alternative.

Lately I have been a little guiltier of the negative self talk...you know..."failure",  "keep trying but it won't get you anywhere", "can't you get a grip on it!", "if you were a better parent then...", "I must be dealing with this because I am lacking...."

How easy it is to fall into the rut of "trying" too hard!    I need to quit trying and start to say "Yes"!!!

Tonight I watched a webcast of two of my favourite authors/bloggers.    It solidified for me the NEED to say yes and ditch the trying.    Cause....I don't know about you but the more I try ... the harder it seems to get and the less likely to feel successful I am!!   What is wrong with this picture??....
With every September, especially since I've been homeschooling, I build myself up with this "fresh start" mentality and to be honest I'm just about driving myself crazy!!    I work diligently creating all the schedules for the children's schooling and then this week after finishing that I decide I need to revisit bed time routines and times, chore charts, library visits and reading times, screen time and when each child should be allowed this time, do we need cable, perhaps group bible study is better than individual, play music during school hours or not, where should the kids complete school, do we need those noise minimizer head phones again, schedule specific times for classes or just work at their own pace, should each child get an extracurricular activity or are all the church activities enough, perhaps a car pool would help, should I volunteer in the nursery or perhaps Sunday nights,  ..... get the idea!

Now don't get me wrong....schedules and routines...especially around here are a blessing but it is ME I'm scheduling and I think I can handle life with a little less structure!!    Sometimes I think in my effort to "do well" I'm really letting people down.     Where is that darn pause button!!  

People are often telling me what a wonderful job I'm doing.    You would think that would come as a comfort and even build me up a little.    Instead I find myself feeling like I'm living up to someones expectations and that is not at all what my life is meant to be about!    Perhaps I come across as having it all under control and let me tell you....it is VITAL that my children believe I do cause I am SERIOUSLY outnumbered!!
I have always believed that I was meant to be Mom to eight children but I am coming to realize that this belief was faulty only because I "thought" it was because I could love on them and help them to realize their potential; give them what they needed to become whole perhaps for the first time in their lives.  Don't misunderstand me....I don't think I have more to offer them but just truly believed I was "up for the challenge"... Recently I am being reminded.....that I "need" these children, each and every one of them so that I can be taught more patience, how to walk with God through this journey, how to grow me!!

If there is a pause button I should delight in pushing it so I might sit tight in the "spot" that I'm in and appreciate it all!    In the process I will undoubtedly have an affect on someone...preferably an affect that doesn't result in some of the eye rolling glances that say, "Oh for Pete sake mom are you kidding me!!!"   but the affect that will speak to me later....much later...."Well done, good and faithful servant".   

As it has been said to me.....am I intentionally, in the midst of my own expectations and shortcomings, pausing in order to recognize that I am loved??   In the midst of chaos am I capable of feeling peace?   

My new September goal.....before I even rise from my bed in the morning....I will give my day to God so that in it I will hit the pause button, not to escape the reality of my day but to immerse myself in it!   I will be intentional in my partnership and recognize what a blessing all the noise in my life is!

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
Proverbs 11:25 (ESV)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to School "Eve"

Well...it's the night before "back to school" Tuesday.  

My planning is completely finished for all the children for the year and that is a huge relief!   I actually have planned to begin our school year next Monday the 12th of September!   I told the children tonight thinking there would be a resounding cheer and to my surprise....I got blank stares followed by "are you serious", "Oh....I was looking forward to starting tomorrow",  "can I start tomorrow anyway?"
My goodness!  Not at all what I had expected.

The plan was to enjoy this next week perhaps visiting the beach, taking a hike, one last hurrah at a favourite playground in the park, or just getting into all the routines around the house and organizing our school space.    The weather is a tad "chilly" for the beach but dressed appropriately we could still make a great day of it.....the idea being that all the other children are back in school and we will have the beach all to ourselves...

I'm sure I could enjoy a day like this!!

Today we went for a country drive.  By noon hour the kids were a little stir crazy so we decided a drive with the hopes of finding a place to play and a treat to eat was in order.     We ended up in Fergus and found a small park that was perhaps a little more appropriate for the oldest seven but nonetheless a great little break!    

 I love how even the simplest of venues seems to be appreciated!    I sure hope these little life lessons of contentment stick....it is without a doubt one of the more important lessons I hope to deliver as a parent.

Funny story today....phone rings and everyone is suddenly deaf....a common affliction here unless of course one is expecting a call!    Finally the thirteen year old delivers the portable phone to Dad who tries to answer it but receives no dial tone or anything.    He asks the same child to listen on the base phone to see that there isn't a connection problem and she lifts the whole thing .... yes... base and all to her ear and with wide eyes is intently listening to the phone (which in case you haven't got the visual is clearly sitting in the hang up position on the base now at her ear!!! )   Oh my goodness if ever there was a laugh needed to break any tension....this was it....how funny!     Not until the entire family is rolling on the floor in hysterics does she realize anything is wrong and gently sets the phone down .... "What?" she says.... Oh my.     This is one of those moments that come to remind me that on days when I am convinced I'm the one losing my mind.....clearly not always the case!!    :O   Ha ha!

Finished the evening off watching another "Feature Film for Families"....it's nice to sit as a family and watch something everyone can view with no content concerns.    These films have proven to be excellent time and again and always deliver some powerful messages!  

Most of the children have gone to bed and I plan on hitting the hay shortly.....trying to convince my mind to shut down a little earlier these days in preparation for school....the body has no problem complying it's stopping the wheels from turning that keeps me up!   

Anyway....another awesome day!   

It doesn't get much better than this!!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.       Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

Winding up summer :(

Well...it's hard to believe but we are just about to end summer vacation!

We have had a rather sedate summer with few trips and responsibilities. There are days I wish we could have done more but a part of me is just so glad for the refreshing and recharging of the batteries that comes with no schedules, no deadlines, no "must do", just enjoying the children and our yard and Grandma and Papa's pool! It has truly been nice.

This past week Chief was on vacation and so several little jobs were done.

We had been waiting some time for a little extra money to fill in our "hole" that once was a parking spot for the second vehicle. It had been long enough and with a little creative financing we had the 5 yards of crushed stone delivered. It may have seemed a little daunting but only for some.....

At least one of my little troopers was thrilled at the prospect of some hard work! He truly plugs along with such a positive heart attitude of service. As long as he has a job he is such a sweet hard working helper!

So sorry I didn't get a picture of what happened next here.....Daddy got a little close to the hose while inspecting the job and well.....he just couldn't help himself and let Daddy have it!! Ha ha....the perks of lending a hand!
It wasn't all hard work....There was lots of play!!


or....with the rest of the gang!!


or just hanging out!!!

taking turns...

being cute!

and a little silly!

well....maybe alot silly!!

What a great summer it's been!!   Now to convince everyone these darn back to school routines and regular bedtimes (unfortunately earlier than summer time) will not be so bad!! 

There's a secret part of me that loves all the planning for the children's schooling....don't tell anyone that would only confirm my "instability"...haha...

My blessings continue to flow...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Road Trip!!

Things are never dull around here!

I knew my passport would come in handy! I recently had to "get" a passport in order to deliver my two oldest daughters to the Buffalo airport to head off on a missions trip for two weeks in Siguatapeque, Honduras. I haven't had a passport since 1984 when I travelled to Australia at the age of 17 to live for a whole year as a Rotary Exchange Student!

Mom and Dad had travelled down to the states to have some furniture upgraded in their "new to them" RV and the plan was that when it was finished two and a half days later they would simply head on home...with it!! Well, we have come to expect,in most things...plans are good as a general guideline only. It turned out the RV was delayed for a few more days and with Mom not fully back to "ready to run a race" after some emergency surgery and truly not alot to do while waiting they headed home a day early. Dad was due to strike out again within a day to make the trek all the way back and then home again in 24 hours...Didn't strike me as making alot of sense nor did it seem a "safe" option after the last little adventure of grabbing a "wee" nap while keeping the RV between the lines!!! Just to clarify....no one was hurt and it was a micro second but something I'm sure we won't let him forget :)

So...I offered to go with him and drive there and he could drive the RV home! ROAD TRIP!

Off to........

The drive down was rather uneventful. Mom had packed us some water bottles and snacks for along the way and off we went. I love to drive and so with Dad as co pilot we had a blast. He managed to read through the satellite radio manual and actually figure out how to use it...properly, grab a little nap (while NOT driving haha) and feed me the odd chocolate chip cookie to keep me alert! We managed the trip with only a couple of stops, one for gas and one to purchase his "frequent flyer" gas card so Mom and Dad could benefit from some discounts while dropping a few sheckles on gas to fill the "beast". The perk to the whole deal was that I spent some great one on one time with my Dad! I don't think I've likely done that in over 20 years!

We arrived in Elkhart, Indiana around 8pm and began the mission of finding him a good steak. He had a craving and we were both hungry. We passed a few restaurants minutes from the hotel we were staying at for the night and many other interesting stores. As I sat at a red light, I glanced to my left and read the sign over the adjacent store. The sign read "Low Bob's Discount Mart" but either I had been driving too long or perhaps my blood sugar was low but I read "Low Boobs Discount Mart"....I laughed till I cried and so did he when I could catch my breath long enough to share what was so humourous....this was the best of many laughs we had along the way.

This was where we landed for supper and I have only one thing to say..... YUM!

Back to the hotel just after 10 and not too long after that off to bed. I slept fitfully between the loud snoring, sneezing and gasping for air coming from the bed next to me....Mom tried to warn me! LOL....

The next morning we were on our way with new furniture on board a tummy still full from the night before and renewed energy for the long ride home.

Only one heartstopping moment when we rounded a corner on the highway going 65 mph to face traffic at a complete stop! Good grief....lots of white knuckles and holding of breath and we stopped with only inches to spare and after having given the brakes and the brake buddy in the towed vehicle a thorough testing! My Dad is a great driver and this little heart stopping moment was no exception!!

Home sweet home by 8 pm...It was a whirlwind trip but a ton of fun and aside from paying huge HST on the purchase at the border even it was rather uneventful....

Thanks for the memories Dad....so glad we had this time together!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Parenting Tween Boys....AARRGGG

"I don't suffer from stress...but I'm a carrier"!!

Ok....maybe stress is a small part of my day...
(LOVE this cartoon!! Haha!)

This quote I found more than aptly applies to my life as a Mom to eight but more importantly a Mom to three almost four teenagers!

Nothing and I mean NOTHING prepared me for this season of parenting. I think we'd all like to think of ourselves as "teen" experts simply because we lived through it. I would like to acknowledge at this stage that I am #1 not an expert just cause I've been there done that and #2 I was never a teenage boy!

What planet are they from ???

He is the first "almost but close enough" teen boy I have the privilege of parenting. He would call it squelching, preventing, confining, bossing, restricting, "what the heck", "whatever", as opposed to guiding, loving, setting boundaries, etc.

It cannot be a fence sitting, wishy washy adventure this parenting of boys! I find myself having to justify my choices with no words...?.... what's up with this no communication tactic of "communicating"! This is a language I'm still a LONG way from having mastered!

Today his life "sucks" (his words not mine) and I am a stretch away from not taking this personally!!

So....as any good mother would, I've stewed on it and tried to dissect the reasons. Suddenly it dawned on me....as far as he has come since he joined our family five years ago...he has so far yet to go. His confidence and self esteem that had taken a serious beating for many years is still limping along trying to catch up with his quickly growing body! (Do all boys eat this much and grow several inches every couple of months?)

I recently read the following about children with healthy self esteem:

•Act on their own and show independence
•Assume responsibility for their actions
•Take pride in accomplishments
•Take responsibility for mistakes
•Tolerate frustration and stress
•Handle positive and negative emotions
•Attempt to do new things and will try again and again

I realized after reading this list that we are still on a long journey in this regard. I hadn't identified some of the challenges to indicate low self esteem but it all seems a bit clearer now.

The same article mentioned these opposing character traits as typical for a child struggling with positive self worth:

•Be very dependant, almost clingy
•Blame others for mistakes or problems
•Be incapable of tolerating change or normal frustration
•Not be able to try new things
•Sometimes shut down and appear lazy
•Be easily influenced by peers and negative behaviors
•Not be able to take a compliment and will consistently put himself down

Parenting is a job I take very seriously. I realize that with seven of eight children adopted at varying ages, and from many challenging life experiences that it is perhaps a different journey than most. But with that said...the importance of me feeding into this young man's life a steady flow of encouragement and love that will help to nurture his value of himself has today become suddenly more important. I won't beat myself up over missing this cue but I will actively change how I "deal". Behaviours that I may have previously viewed as disrespectful or attention grabbing should be assessed first to see if they fit this category.

I daily strive to incorporate the importance of his faith and leaning hard on Jesus for support and guidance as he makes decisions.....his confidence and self worth can be defined by how he "feels" based on previous life experience or by a new gauge of worth based on affirmation and encouragement I can nourish each day.

Perhaps he's not from a planet that far away that I can't at least visit now and then :)