Monday, February 27, 2012

SUCH a baby!

Since last week's post on Growing Up, I think I've been more of a "baby" than ever.  (sigh)  I should know better than to DOCUMENT what the Lord is teaching me.  When I do, it suddenly becomes an even greater struggle.  Duh.

So the Coach is out of town for the week.  And I KNOW I need to just "grow up" and do what needs to be done and be QUIET about it.

But I'd rather whine.

This morning, I took Son (#4) to get the cast off his arm.  On our way back to school, thinking how I would normally be talking to the Coach and giving him a "report" on the doctors visit, I told my boys, "I miss your daddy."

Son (#4) said, "Wow, Mom.  If you miss him already, how are you going to make it until Friday?"

My thoughts exactly.

I even (gasp) am letting the kids watch a "Mr. Bean" cartoon on Netflix (don't watch it, trust me on this, I can almost see their brains atrophying).  Between 4-10.  On a school night.  PLEASE don't tell the Coach.  But two of them fell asleep on the way home from school and one more almost did and the three youngest didn't have homework and they were all so tired and. . .

Just don't tell.

Anyway.  Besides the fact that I don't sleep when the Coach is gone, and I miss him. . . tremendously. . . it's really not THAT bad.  The kids are older.  They can certainly help out a LOT.  And now I have Son (#1) to make the morning drive to school. . . it's certainly WAY easier than when they were all tiny.

Except for the not-sleeping part.

And the missing part.

But I think I've figured out what the hardest part about it is.  I can keep up with the kids and school and the house and laundry and meals. . . I do that whether he's here or not.  Well, I sort of do them all.  Some of the time.

Lately, when the Coach walks in the door and sees that the laundry hasn't been folded, or dinner is not ready, yet, he's given me a questioning look, as if to say, "Is everything OK, or did something catastrophic happen around here that I need to know about?"  Not because he minds whether or not it's all done. . . but because I do.  A lot.  And he knows if I don't get to it, it might be for a reason.  A reason that might be waiting for him in the boys room.  For instance.

The busier our lives get (meaning - the older our children get!), the more frequently I DON'T get it all done in any given day.  Even if kids aren't sick or I have been home all day (rare occasion, but it DOES happen). . . there often just isn't enough time in the day.  And who wants to spend what time they DO have folding laundry?  Right?

I'm learning to be OK with that.  Learning to go to bed without the house being immaculate.  Learning to leave the laundry to be folded later.  Learning to have the kids pitch in and help with dinner, instead of having it all ready ahead of time before they walk in the door.

But when the Coach is gone?  I panic.  I start thinking I can't GET behind, because my partner is MIA.  If I don't do it, it won't get done (I reason), so I go into hyper/crazymom/OCD mode.  I can't relax without him here.

Maybe that's why I don't sleep.

Then again, maybe the real reason I feel like a big baby when he's gone is just because I love him so very much.  Need him so desperately.  Feel incomplete without him.

(maybe Son #4 has a point about Friday?)

Today?  I'm going to be eversograteful that the Coach doesn't travel with his job.  And I'm going to pray for my sweet friends whose husbands are gone a lot, or who parent alone EVERY DAY.  Each of you have my admiration and respect.  I honestly don't know how you do it.  God's grace, I know.

And have I mentioned lately that I have the MOST AMAZING KIDS EVER?  Because when you see your boys step up and take care of YOU?  And their younger siblings?  It's a good thing.

Happy Monday!

(And yes, I do realize that missing the Coach has significantly increased my use of ALL CAPS and commas.  I apologize, sincerely.  Get that?  I APOLOGIZE!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Grow up!

Sometimes I get tired of being the adult around here.

Of course the Coach is an adult, too, but he's not always here to back me up.

It would be nice, every now and then, if someone would tell ME what to do (so often, I have no idea what is best!), or eat the rest of my dinner (that wouldn't be necessary, but it would still be nice), to go to bed (I'd go!).

The other day, Son (#4) said, "Mom, when I am old enough to have my own house and buy my own groceries, I'm not going to buy any 'off' brands."

I said,  "Great.  I'm happy for you."  (As I watched him gulp down the "off" brand granola bar and reach for more "off" brand pretzels.)

But being an adult is about a lot more than choosing what grocery brand to buy.

It's more about getting up when the alarm goes off, even though you are so tired your eyes won't open all of the way.

It's about planning and preparing for another busy day, only to have your plans fail and your preparations fall apart and then having to do something else altogether.

It's about saying "no" when you really WANT to say, "yes", but you know that the "no" is the best thing for your child.

It's about asking forgiveness and admitting you were wrong and saying you are sorry.  A lot.

It's about being the first one to get up to serve.  Even if you just sat down.

It's about learning what makes those around you happy. . . and making "happy" happen as often as possible (Chocolate Chip Cookies, anyone?).

It's about getting on that treadmill even though you'd rather sleep, check Facebook, drink another cup of coffee, or snuggle with Little Man on the couch watching "Curious George".

It's about calling repairmen and insurance companies and the bank. . . even though you'd rather NOT.

It's about helping with homework even though you've already helped four other kids.

It's about reading to the littles at bedtime, even though you haven't seen or talked to the Coach all day.

It's about doing without something now, so you can save for something more important later.

It's about being willing to learn something new, even though your brain isn't what it used to be.

I could go on and on. . . but you get the idea.  Sometimes being a "grown up" makes me tired.

But then I see my kids. . .

Offering to bring the younger kids home so your mom doesn't have to make ONE MORE TRIP to school that day, even though it means they will criticize your driving and tell mom every thing that they think you did wrong on the way.  And building an electric motor for Science Fair - being willing to call Granddad for help when it doesn't work right and your mom doesn't have a clue.  That's my boy.

Staying calm, cool, and collected, when you are a Freshman playing Varsity, only one week out from an injury, in a regional playoff game, when the "star" player has fouled out and you are only up by 3. Trying out for a part in the school play that requires singing and memorizing lines and being up in front of ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE, when you are naturally quiet and shy.  That's my girl.

Practicing piano on your own and reminding Mom about the piano lesson (that she would probably forget about, otherwise) and staying late to practice because she forgot to come pick you up.  And never complaining.  And trying out for the same play. . . even though singing it's your biggest strength.  That's my boy.

Being a leader in the classroom, taking the initiative to serve others, offer help when needed, being an example of self-government and diligence at school.  Overcoming the left arm cast and going out to shoot baskets one-handed every day after school. That's my boy.

Taking responsibility for homework, reading, memorization, spelling words, and getting required signatures on things EVERY NIGHT without being told or reminded.  And making your own lunch. And qualifying for the Math Olympics.  That's my girl.

Saying, "Mom?  What can I do to help?" when you can see that Mom is losing it.  Setting the table without being asked.  Making the bed every morning, even when the others in your room forget.  Getting in front of a cafeteria full of parents while wearing an "itchy" costume, as a First Lady, and remembering every line while appearing calm and not nervous at all.  That's my girl.

Being brave about going back to school after 10 days home with mom.  Getting ready for school every morning, making your lunch, reading chapter books (even though Mom never remembers to ask you if you've read), being responsible to get notebooks signed every day.  That's my girl.

And Little Man?  Well. . . he just came in and told me sometimes he doesn't want to get a tissue for his boogers so he just "flicks them".  Hmmmm.  Apparently, some training is still needed, here, after all.

But all in all?  I think I have more "adults" in the house than I realized.  At least they are growing into adults.  They all have their moments (me, included!), but there's no doubt that character is being developed here at the troops.

Thank you, Jesus, for the blessing of giving us one another to serve, learn from, and grow with!

And now would one of you adults please tell me to get off the computer and do the breakfast dishes?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday. . . Thursday. . .

It feels very much like a Monday at the troops.

We had a lovely break from school, yesterday.  Normally Wednesdays are half days for us, but yesterday, the whole day was ours.  I even made my first venture into cooking with venison (thanks to Son's #1 successful hunting trip last December).  The deer chili was delicious!

But we had several appointments, a long list of things to do, kids everywhere, and I told the Coach my day "off" was feeling a big busier than I had anticipated.

He gave me his usual, "We have eight kids. This is our life.  Just enjoy it."

He's right.

Somehow, I expect to be able to sit down and read a book, or finish a big project.  I expect to have morning coffee with the Coach, instead of him heading out to run with Son #3 and me hitting the treadmill - after which we all rush to the next thing.

Not.  Restful.

But good.

We've started a new thing at the troops.  Electronic free evenings.  I can't say it's been easy (and maybe hardest of all for me?).  The kids have struggled.  But it has resulted in such peaceful evenings.

School nights between 4-10 pm:
No computer (except for homework).
No i-pods.
No electronic games (except for the Wii on rainy days).
No TV.
No Netflix or movies.
Limited phone usage.

We haven't been home every evening during basketball season.  But now that it's winding down (Regionals today), we wanted to be more purposeful in our time all together at home.

You know what has surprised me?

The kids could all go to their rooms, or the playroom, or the sunroom, or anywhere else. . . and work on homework, study, read.  But instead?  They all sit IN the living room, together on the couches.  It amazes me.

And I love it.

I love the laughter.  The goofballness (of some certain boys).  The Nerf basketball hoop tournaments.  The "Here. Quiz me on this," to the sibling sitting next to them.  The math homework is the Coach's expertise, but I love watching them sit head to head working math problems.  And I love it even more when I hear the kids say, "Ahhh!  I got it!"

These are busy days.  School, sports, practice schedules, the school play, science fair, math olympics, orthodontist, piano lessons, etc.  But I want, more than anything, to ENJOY them.  To take the time to laugh, read books to the littles, sing "one more song" at bedtime.  I want to joke with my teens and talk about what they are reading and what tests are tomorrow and how practice went today.

I don't want to miss this.

Because I know it won't last.

Now if I can only remember that when it seems like the laundry is taking over and the piles are reaching to the ceiling and the bathrooms are dirty and the microwave is broken (yes, it really is) and everyone is growing out of their shoes. . .

Remember to enjoy every moment.

And thank the Lord every moment for the blessing of being "Mom" to my troops.

Happy Thursday!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's in the Toothpaste Tube?

"Mom!"  (Son - #4 - just came bounding through the room)  "We are out of 'Fun Dip' from Valentine's.  Now we can't have FUN anymore!"


He's feeling better, can you tell?

Someone else is crying because their "fort" was knocked down.  Probably by Son (#4).  If I had to guess.  He is almost always right in the middle of it.

The troops seem to be over the worst of the virus.  Head-aches have let up, dizziness has subsided, and the chaos has resumed.  They are restless.

It wasn't so bad when they were sick and all lying around watching movies and Netflix.  But now that they feel better?  They are driving each other nuts.

I guess it's a good example of the "pressure shows us what's inside" principle.  We are rarely home THIS much, for THIS many days, with ALL of us (minus a kid or two during the day).  We are usually only home all together one or two week nights each week.  Between basketball schedules, school activities, family, church, and LIFE, we usually stay way too busy.

The fridge and freezer are clean.  That's something, right?  Seemed like a good time to do it, since their appetites have been just FINE through this virus, so it's fairly empty.

The older kids have some homework to work on - I'm grateful for that!  Better get the younger ones started on theirs.  Maybe we'll do baths first - that would probably make everyone feel better.

Truth is, these days are good.  Not in the "fun" sense - although they have laughed as much as they've fought.  But in the sense that having everyone home and interacting (it's wet outside, or I would have sent them out right after breakfast!) is a good opportunity to work on some things.  Relationships.  Obedience.  My willingness to put down what I'm reading or stop what I'm working on, and take care of the disagreement or conflict.

So today I'm thankful for a day at home with the troops.  Especially thankful that the Coach has been here most of it, too.  Thankful that my kids have all of these siblings to learn to get along with - such different personalities. To learn to give up, get along, make do, be creative. . . and forgive.

In the meantime, Little Man wants me to make him a sign that says "Look Down" for his fort.  And I think I'll turn the showers on and get three of the kids started, at least.

Blessings on your weekend!  I hope it's been a "good" one for your family, too.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I will admit to needing an attitude adjustment.

You know it's bad when you realize it's Thursday and are frustrated that any post that's written will have to be characterized by thankfulness.


But it is what it is. . . and I DO have eversomuch to be thankful for today.

1.  That whatever "bug" we have at our house is NOT of the stomach variety.  So. Very. Grateful.

2.  Hot coffee.  The Starbucks Blonde Roast that my dad brought on Valentine's Day.  Yum.

3.  Netflix.  Although it does seem that we are running out of good options EVEN there.  Which is an indication of WAY too many sick days.

4.  A clean house.  At least it was, yesterday.

5.  Clean beds to climb into last night and clean clothes (even if they are unfolded all over the living room).

6.  Daughter's (#6) fabulous First Lady presentation in her classroom yesterday.  Costume, speech, prop, and treats to pass out (She was Francis Cleveland - wife of Grover Cleveland).  One of those, "So thankful to the Lord for His goodness to my child" moments.  Because that girl has had her moments.

7.  Boys hair cuts all done on Sunday.  For a few weeks.  And girl hair cuts all done for the Winter.  Except for Daughter (#7) who was sick.  And has more hair than everyone in our house put together!

8.  Valentine's candy everywhere.  Trying to think why I should be grateful for this?   OH!  The opportunity it's giving me to develop the character quality of discipline.  (sigh)

9.  That today's infirmary patients include some who are old enough to stay with the younger patients so I can continue with part of today's schedule.  And go to the store for Gatorade.  (again . . . so very thankful that this bug hasn't affected their appetites!)

10.  The most patient husband in the world.  Seriously.  When I lost it last night after a VERY busy day and MANY sick children to care for and not feeling so great myself. . . he was so kind.  And did I mention patient? 

11.  Sunshine.

12.  The pair of hawks that visit our backyard every morning for breakfast.  Little Man and I LOVE to watch them - they are huge! 

13.  Being back on the treadmill this week for the first time in about 3 months!  Woo hoo!  It's just walking.  And it's not far.  Or fast.  But it's a start.

14.  Daughter (#2) being OUT of her cast and OUT of her splint and . . . wait for it. . . CLEARED to play basketball.  Of course the season is almost over. . . but we are thankful, still.

15.  Chick-fil-A.  Yes, I realize we have a problem.  And probably need counseling.  But it seems there is nothing a CFA run doesn't help at this house.  Might be a good day for it, today.  Except that my first-born is home sick and he eats more than all of the "littles" put together!

16.  Tomorrow is Friday!  There's hope!

17.  A new hose for my MUCH-beloved vacuum came yesterday.  My sweet mother bought the vacuum for me so long ago that I can't remember (maybe 12-15 years?).  It's fabulous!  But after daily use for all of those years. . . the hose was more duct tape than original hose.  Now it feels like a new vacuum!

18.  Three of the kids are still well and haven't had "the bug", yet.  I'm going to be grateful for this.  Even though it seems unlikely that they will come through unscathed.  If we can just keep First Lady Cleveland well through tomorrow's Presidential Tea, I'll claim success!

19.  That the Coach and I have already been sick.  And Daughter (#1) has had a milder version, already (here's hoping she's now immune!). I'm not saying it was fun (took me almost three weeks to get through it), but it's over.  And at least I can take care of my "sickies" without being sick, myself.

20.  The Library.  Because I'm headed there in a bit to find something DIFFERENT to watch.  (Have you ever SEEN Mr. Bean cartoons?  Unbelievably annoying, I tell you.  Ugh.)

Happy Thursday!

May you see this day and it's gifts (the fun ones and the hard ones) as from the hand of our Loving Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I got nothin'

Nothing inspiring or interesting.
Nothing cute or funny.
No stories about the troops or recipes to share.

Nothin'. . .

Except three kids home from school with head-aches and dizziness (a virus that they caught from yours truly).
Warm oatmeal and homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast.
A messy house.
Pajamas all around.
Lots of laundry to fold.
A kitchen that needs cleaned.
A Tuesday home from BSF with Little Man.

And Valentine's Day.

The Coach left me a card and Hershey kisses when he rushed the four other kids out the door for school (one of them may not make it through the day, though - Valentine's parties are a huge motivator).  He knows I love a pretty card.  And Hershey kisses.

But I can't help thinking. . . it's not what he does on ONE day that shows me his love.  It's all the other days that write his love letter to me. . .

The help with math homework for seven (well, I can handle 1st and 3rd grade math pretty well).
The supervising of baths and showers at night.
The way he says "Thank You" for dinner each night - whether it's pot roast and homemade bread (like last night) or grilled cheese (like Sunday).
The willingness to go shoot baskets with the kids on our back yard court - even when he's tired from work.
The determination to take me on a date almost every week.  With Starbucks after.
The way he listens to me tell about my day, the kids, etc. . . even when he'd rather sleep.
The countless projects he tackles in our house and yard to keep things functioning for our troops.
The cup of coffee he makes for me on Sunday mornings while I get ready for church.
The time he spends with our troops. . . listening, encouraging, asking questions, offering wise words.
The way he loves me even when I'm sporting morning breath and stick-up hair in my sweats.

I could go on and on.

But there are some "sickies" who want me to watch a movie with them.  After I make a blender of fruit smoothies.

Maybe I've got something pretty wonderful after all.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Yes, Please . . .

No Saturday basketball games?
Sleeping in?
Nothing on the calendar?
Catching up around the house and time to work with the kids?
Putting away gargantuan piles of laundry and getting rooms back to "decent"?
Cleaning trash out of cars, cleaning out the fridge, doing some baking?
A date night with my Coach?

Yes, please.

A morning at church hearing God's Word (specifically James) and stories of NTM adventures?
Worshipping Jesus and helping kids sit still during the service?
Visiting with our church family?
Ice cream after lunch?
An old fashioned Sunday afternoon nap?

Yes, please.

Because tomorrow is Monday, after all.

Happy Sunday!