cultivate (kuhl - tuh - veyt)
v. 1) develop 2) nurture

graft (grahft)
n. 1) transplant 2) bud 3) union

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Post I Never Wanted To Write. Ever.

Sometimes things are bittersweet and sometimes things are just plain bitter. At first I thought this was the latter, but I'm realizing it is indeed the former.

Remember this little guy?

This is Nico. Etch his precious face in your memory, because short of a gargantuan miracle, you will never meet him in person. My friend Kara and her husband began the challenging road to adopt him. And then the bitter happened. His country has closed our door to their orphans. Kara isn't the only mama heart breaking. Several families were in the process of adopting from this country and all are mourning. And we mourn with them.


Now here is the sweet #1: Kara didn't allow this to deter her from gospel living. Her family is pursuing another little boy and are so close to bringing him home! Colton is ready to come home and party, McIntee-style! 

Their fundraising has stalled and they need a boost. Ya'll. Seriously. Disney park-hopper passes?!? This is an awesome fundraiser! The rest of the prizes are super cool too. Go buy you some tickets. Follow the directions so that she is certain to add your name to the drawing. These would make fantastic gifts for your kids or grandkids. If you're not a Disney fan, just go donate for crying out loud. Once you've done that, come back to read the sweet #2.

I'll wait.

I know some of you aren't clicking over.


Sweet #2 is a call to Nico's country. I know you're reading my blog, because blog stats don't lie. We realize your government made the decision and now the burden is thrust upon you. You are a good people. A strong people. With Christ leading the way, you have all you need to care for your orphans. Please heed His voice and open your hearts to the "least of these" in your country. America is lifting you up in prayer as you begin this new adventure. My prayer is that orphanages will be overrun; Overrun with prospective adoptive parents. My dear brothers and sister, you are the sweet to this bitter

So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.
Galatians 6:9

Hanging Onto Hope,

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Let Them: A Saturday Series

This first Saturday series is called "Let Them". There are so many things we just big, fat don't let our kids do. I'm meeting some of those things head-on and seeing what happens.

Let Them READ!

I almost decided to skip this post because...DUH! Reading is so brain-feedingly good for kids, and yet we don't always make it enough of a priority. Heather over at Cultivated Lives (aren't we cute with our matchy-matchy blog names?) is way smarter than yours truly and can explain all the important reasons why reading is good for growing brains. All I know is if I institute a quiet time and tell them to grab a stack of a books, I can have an almost silent house for a good hour. I'll take it. 

So, here's a short story* to illustrate my point:

Once upon a time there was a little boy who would read. When his mother caught him she said, "You obviously have extra time on your hands." and consequently would give him more chores. While he developed a strong work ethic, his love for books was sadly dimmed. At the same time, there was a little girl who grew up steeped in books and was encouraged to stretch her imagination muscles. The little boy and the little girl grew up and had to get jobs. Can you guess which one became a librarian (and holds a degree in Library Science**)? 
(It just so happens they fell in love with each other and got married in there too, but that has little bearing on the point I'm trying to make. Although..."They lived happily ever after" does wrap it up nicely for me.)

If I could encourage parents to do only one thing to help their kids learn, it would be to let them read. Every day. If they are too young, read to them. We have two independent readers and we still read books together too. It's the perfect excuse to sit down for a few minutes, cuddle up on the couch, recharge, and fill their little emotional buckets. Besides, you might just be raising the next librarian!

Off To The Library,

P.S. Audio books are good too (although not as stimulating to the brain as actual reading). Instead of T.V. at night, try audio books.

*All characters appearing in this work are factual. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely deliberate
**Yeah, I didn't know you could have a Master's in that either.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Questions And Comments From The Nuthouse

I receive lots of questions. I suppose because I'm a questionable person? I've decided to exact a little damage and answer some of your questions.*

Why did you start blogging?
Because there wasn't quite enough terror in this world.** Actually, my mama and hubby were the instigators. Blame them.

How old are you?
Young enough to still think cuss words are funny and old enough to grumble about disrespectful little punks. 

Will you adopt again?
More to come on this topic in the coming months. For now, suffice to say that we will stop when God tells us to stop. So, stay tuned. 

You're so fun to read! I wish you'd write a book!!
Thank you! I did, but it's not a funny book and it's unpublished. And unless you're a kid you're not my intended audience, and if you are a kid you're not old enough to have an e-mail account, so stop it and go clean your room!


What's your go-to dinner for your larger than average family?
Pfft. I love experimenting in the kitchen, but my go-tos are quesadillas or spaghetti or popcorn, apple slices and cheese. I just lost all respect from you didn't I? 

Lastly, is quite possibly THE SWEETEST comment I have ever received from a reader, which is found on this post:

Hi Cynthia,

i'm a friend of your friend the puppetmaker. she shared this post with me. i thanked her and now i'll thank you, too. this was beautifully written and totally made me think about my thought process. and sophia is adorable and very obviously loved (which is most important). 

a chocolate mama with a chocolate daughter go through a lot of experimentation too. my mom tried more things on my hair than i can even remember. we learn together. :)

You, my dear, blessed my socks clean off my feet.*** 

Traumatizing My Readers One Post At A Time,

*I'll apologize in advance for bursting your image of me.
**And I think it's actually a sign of the Apocalypse...?
***And, yes, I have a puppetry friend who is the best of the best in the puppet biz. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hair-Raising Conversations

Usually when I leave the house with the girls, we resemble a three-ring circus. By the time I get to our destination, sometimes I don't feel like answering nosy questions from strangers. Selfish, I know. I try to be courteous and assume people truly want to be more knowledgeable of the ins and outs of adoption. Sometimes people begin by assuming all those children are mine. That's good. That way we get to skip a slew of awkward questions:

Are you a nanny?
How many times have you been married?
What?!? I don- Oh forget it. She's adopted.

If you assume she's mine we can advance to the second set of awkward questions:

So is adoption expensive?
*crickets chirping*

How do you manage her hair?
Well, mostly trained monkeys, but sometimes I actually give it a whirl. 

And that's where I'm camping today, folks. Hair. Pitch a tent, and get a fire blazing, because this is going to be a doozy of a camping trip.

First of all, I am aware that I'm white. I am also under no grand delusions that at the moment of adoption my fingers were infused with a special afro intuition. Any knowledge and skills I possess are the culmination of years of research, months of practice and a good dose of trial and error vigorously stirred together with persistence.

Unfortunately, there are times that I am judged based on my daughter's less-than-perfect hair style. There are sidelong glances, critical stares, obnoxious glares and even opinions voiced. I can handle the glances. Really, I can. I don't pretend to know the motive behind furtive appraisals from black women. I imagine any number of thoughts run through their minds: How does she know how to do that? I bet she had someone else do it. That looks terrible! That is downright impressive given her stick-straight hair. Whatever. I don't care. What truly bugs me are the not-so-subtle critical eyes and tongues. Partially I want to protect my own pride. I don't like feeling defensive around someone who happens to have more melanin than me. But, mostly I want to protect my daughter's confidence. God created her with tiny coils all over her head, and I'm in love with every single strand. One day soon she will begin noticing the disapproving eyes and taking notice of the negative comments. My response will play a large part in molding a tenacious love of her natural locks.

So, to the black woman in the grocery store, I know sometimes I don't strike the right moisturizing balance in my daughter's hair, or have the neatest, tightest cornrows. But out of love, I will continue to unpack this mysterious world (along with its bazillion products on the market, thank you very much). I realize I do strike a defensive posture and I'm sorry. I'm sure I come across haughty. Perhaps a warmer response on my part will encourage kinder words on your part?

And, to the black mama at the library, encouragement goes such a long way and I could have smothered you in hugs until we looked for all the world like a soft-served swirl ice-cream cone. Your sweet words were (and continue to be) a precious balm to my confidence as a vanilla mama to a chocolate daughter. I loved commiserating about the woes of misplaced silk caps, new hair growth that sticks out no matter what and the effects of dry winter weather on kinky hair. You offered a rare and far-reaching gift to my daughter and I: A soft place to land and grace to welcome us there.

Finally, to white folks near and far, my skills are rudimentary and I'm winging it 95% of the time. I am not an impressive white woman who has cracked the sacred hair code. I know we are used to running a brush through our hair and calling it good, so anything beyond fifteen minutes seems criminal. I do not feel that Sophia's hair is a burden. No, I don't enjoy every moment of detangling. Yes, it is wildly beneficial for attachment. Every style is an adventure and every product an experiment.* I am a mad scientist and loving it! There's no need to feel sorry for me.

To end on a high note, I'll share the latest hair lesson I have learned: Baubles at the end of the hair provide the perfect activity center on the go for a certain baby who-shall-remain-nameless. Also, a laundry basket + hair clips = a picture-worthy kerfuffle.**

Yes, her hair beads got caught in the laundry basket, and yes, I took pictures.

Learning As I Go,

*Eat your heart out, Indiana Jones.
**I wasn't fast enough on my feet to catch a photo of my oldest, who (somehow) managed to get her hair wedged fast between the seat and back of her dinner chair. Never. A. Dull. Moment.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Let Them: A Saturday Series

This first Saturday series is called "Let Them". There are so many things we just big, fat don't let our kids do. I'm meeting some of those things head-on and seeing what happens.

Let Them Savor Nature

Caveat: if you live in the country, this will not apply to you, so just skip it or read it and pity us city folks who have to try so hard to find some dirt in which to play.

Discovering top-secret pine tree hideouts, laying down in knee-high field grass, clambering up rocky river banks, picking flowers under a brilliantly azure sky, skipping smooth stones on a placid lake or letting the pounding waves of the ocean mesmerize your senses.

It sounds so idyllic, doesn't it?

This is more what it looks like with our houseful of girls:
"Aaaahhhhhhhh! A bug!"
(eying crude toilet) "I'll hold it until Tuesday."
"When are we going home?"
(silent screams accompanied by impressively spastic footwork and followed by trying to play it cool) "Uh...Bug...?"

Not to mention all the pre-trip work that goes into an excursion: It takes several hours for us to prepare everything-meals made, baby gear checked, last minute bathroom treks, and the van loaded to capacity.

My blood pressure is rising just thinking about it. A trip through the Lowe's garden center starts looking more appealing.*

Our nature trips always seem to get off to a rocky start. The girls are uptight about bugs, one of them can't stand the feel of having dirty hands, the youngest will choose those moments to cry for no reason. However, the uneasiness fades and before long we spy our girls digging canals, casting their fishing rods like pros, and splashing in dirty river water without a second thought to what is lurking in the shallow waters.

Time spent in nature will always remain unmatched. There is no substitute and no close second. We're not talking about stepping out your front door to catch a breath of fresh air before tackling your bank statement. We're talking about getting away for a length of time (days, hours...doesn't matter) to experience God's canvas. Your modus operandi is of little consequence. Go camping in an RV, backpacking through a national forest, chasing lizards through the desert, or drifting in a canoe. Nature is nature and the benefits remain unchanged.

Our souls were never meant to connect with concrete and fluorescent lighting. Nature unfetters the soul; It breathes renewed vigor into the crevices and corners of the body and mind. Indulging a nature habit is indeed worth the hassle and can foster a lifelong conduit between our children and their Almighty Creator.

Country folks, breathe deeply and take not your surroundings for granted. Fellow city folks, don't breathe too deeply.** Instead, let's be willing to make the effort. Research nearby state parks, hiking/biking trails, farms, lakes, caves, whatever! In most cases we are not that far from natural beauty.

As Spring unfurls her wings in the Northern Hemisphere, now is the perfect time to soak in some nature. Just don't forget the moist towelettes and sunscreen.

Get Out And Get Dirty,

*Six packs of perennials and 50 lb. bags of mulch are nature-ish, right?
**Lest the pollution cause an asthma flare-up.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Walking Our Children Through Tragedies

It seems as though we were just shaking our heads in disbelief over senseless violence and here we are again. Boston, our prayers are for you in this horrendous season.

Far removed (geographically) from the Boston Marathon bombings, my children are affected nonetheless, as I'm sure yours are too. I realize some people feel that children should be unaware of such evils, but I'm not of that mindset. If we shield them from true pain, how else will our children learn to recognize evil and be equipped to respond?

Before you string me up for exposing my children to nightmare fodder, allow me to explain. They watch no news coverage, save a small snippet I previewed online prior to playing back for them. More often than not, ongoing live coverage is pointless to watch anyway (for adult or child). The same limited information is rehashed a bazillion times, and you begin to want to slap the poor reporter who is desperately trying to appear to have a new angle on what appears to be a circle. Hey big time news people, don't insult our intelligence! But I digress...The objective to sharing news events with my children is two-fold: Increase social awareness and increase faith. 

Why should our children be sequestered behind bedroom doors with curt instructions to "go play" while adults discuss the evil exacted in Boston? Why shouldn't children be given age appropriate information regarding any major news events (emergency or otherwise)? I'm not a fan of dumbing down conversation with children. "Sweetie, bad people made a big boom and now people have boo-boos" is not something you will hear out of my mouth. Ever. "Girls, two bombs have detonated at a very large marathon in Boston. Lots of people are injured and there are at least two known deaths at this time. Let's pray." Much better. My children have enough information so as to be informed, but not so much so as to be unnecessarily traumatized.* Of course they have questions: "Is Boston in our country?" "Who did it?" "Are the hurt people Christians?" "What's a marathon?" Every question can (and should) be answered truthfully, but our time need not be wasted on discussing minutia. Our time must be invested in prayer. Our knee-jerk response to calamity should be that we fall to our knees in prayer. And why shouldn't those with the simplest faith and sweetest spirits be called upon to pray, shoulder to shoulder with their parents? Our children need to witness us consistently approaching the throne of grace when there is hurt in this world. Overhearing discussions in hushed tones and being instructed to offer a cursory prayer for Boston during bedtime prayers hardly models faith in action, and is akin to the reporter with no new news. Don't insult their intelligence, nor their connection to the Holy Spirit. In short, if we want our children to trust Him, they need to see us trusting Him. If we want our children to respond in faith, we must do likewise. 

We haven't spent any more time updating our children on the bombings. There's no news that would alter their prayers. What we have informed them of are the dozens of heroics. There are numerous accounts of people rushing to aid, doing the right thing and being the stuff of red, white and blue. More importantly, the stuff of miracles and selflessness. Heroes and sacrifice. Those reports are worth our time and reveal beauty from ashes. Those are the stories upon which our children can focus. 

Perhaps Mister Rogers said it best: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."" 


*Notice how I didn't say "Are you fearful someone could bomb us? Do you worry about someone attacking us during a parade or at the library? Are you ever concerned you'll be tragically orphaned from an invasion?"  See how we sidestepped those therapy sessions? Psych 101 was tuition well spent, folks.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Mile In My Shoes: Unexpected Blessings

An opportunity for YOU to share your stories, in order that we all might learn to love more deeply.

This submission belongs to this awesome woman and mama.

Mom was standing in her dining room searching for something. Not only had she forgotten where it was, now she couldn't remember what it was. With a sudden realization of what her memory lapses really meant, she looked at me and said, "I am so afraid." Then the fog of dementia crept back into her mind and frustration, suspicion, and anger took over.

At that time what Mom didn't know was that I had already spoken to her doctor about her memory loss. After she forgot how to turn her headlights on at night, I had also written a letter to the Motor Vehicle Department stating that I didn't think that she was a safe driver. When she got the notice saying that she needed to take a driver’s test, I told her that I was concerned and I had written them. She wasn’t really happy, but she was confident that she could pass the test. Ironically, I had to explain the notification and give my confession several times that afternoon, because each time she didn’t remember what I had told her. And, no, she did not pass her driver’s test.

Kathy's mama and my grandma.
A few years before, I had taken Mom to a lawyer so she could update her will and prepare a Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Medical Power of Attorney. Now, documents in hand, I visited that same lawyer and prepared to officially take over caring for her.

Then Mom fell and broke her arm and her dementia accelerated at an incredible pace. She could no longer live alone or safely care for herself. Ultimately we made the difficult decision to place Mom in a nursing care facility that specialized in patients with dementia. That was one of the most difficult decisions that I ever have had to face in my life. Six months later Mom had a series of strokes that took her life.

While going through the tough times of caring for Mom, I found many unexpected blessings.

I learned to pray first - not last. God has an answer for everything, comfort beyond understanding, and eternal strength that will fill you. I know this first hand.

I learned that making preparations ahead of time let me spend more time with Mom and less time getting things in order. While her memory was still good, we got her finances and legal affairs in order. The lawyer also made a copy of all the documents for me as well as for Mom.

We worked to enjoy life to the fullest. My mother had dementia so I did not spend my time correcting her limping memory. I spent my time enjoying her company. In our travels, Mom and I often passed a house with a baby horse.  Every time we passed that house, Mom would point to the baby with great delight and we would stop and watch the horses. Each time she saw that baby horse, it was “the first time” even though she had seen the baby many times - and each time she had an enormous sense of delight. 

I continue to learn to forgive myself for my mistakes. If I had known then what I know now, Mom would not have needed to go into a nursing home. However, I did not know then what I now know and I can’t go back in time and change things. It makes me very sad to know that Mom spent her last few months in a place where she didn’t want to be, but Mom would not want me to be angry with myself. I am learning to extend grace and forgiveness to me.

I chose to view life through her lack of memory.   I went to visit Mom in the nursing home one time and as I walked towards her she said, "Look!  There's my mother!"  She smiled and was obviously delighted to see me.  I had a choice at that point - smile and start conversing with her, or be upset and try to explain to her who I was.  I realized that it didn't matter.  I knew that she was my mother and I knew that my mother was confused.  I smiled back, kissed her, and began visiting with her.  It was more important to me to be with Mom than for her to remember who I was.

During those last months with Mom, I was reminded again and again of what a blessing it is to care for someone you love.  I never thought when I bathed my daughter, changed her diaper, fed her, helped her get dressed - and the myriad of other things that parenting involves - that one day I would do all of those things for my mother. As I cared for Mom, I was reminded that she, also, had done all of those things for me. The blessing to be able to do them for my mother was extraordinary.

The day that she had her last stroke, I spent the night with her. I read to her and sang to her. And I was with her in the morning when she died.

One thing I know: I will never regret one moment I spent caring for my Mom. The unexpected blessings that poured over me during that time have greatly enriched my life.

Live richly - love deeply,

Engagement photo-Classy, right?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Let Them: A Saturday Series

This first Saturday series is called "Let Them". There are so many things we just big, fat don't let our kids do. I'm meeting some of those things head-on and seeing what happens.

Let Them Run With You

Can I tell you how much I have been dreading this blog post? A lot. I've been dreading it a lot. Let me confess this: I don't exercise. I consider chasing after kids exercise enough. Horrible, I know. My husband is one of those people. You know. The ones who exercise. He runs. What is that all about? What's worse, he does this running thing in the early morning. What a dreadful way to start the day! I am not, have not, and never will be a morning runner. Mornings were designed for steaming mugs of coffee. And doughnuts. 

And now he's roped the children into this.

The olders go running with him. It's sickening and adorable all at the same time. Sickening because now I have to eat my doughnuts by myself. Adorable because he's spending beautiful time with them and I can envision them doing something fun like the Color Run.*

Aaaaaaand that's when God smacked me upside the head. I tried reminding God that we're "one flesh" (His words, not mine), so technically, technically I'm exercising too. He didn't buy it. So, with great trepidation, I recently broached the subject with my husband. I've been eyeing bicycles lately and trying to "pep talk" myself into riding again. As good husbands go, he assured me that I'm probably not as horrible of a rider as I think I am. We'll see about that.** 

Our kids need the example from both of us. I don't want my girls to feel like exercising is for men and baking is for women. They need to see their mama taking care of her body. Scratch that; I need it. It's not quite as simple to exercise with children, but it's doable (as my husband has proved). So here we go! 

Any mamas identify? Exercising mamas, how do you involve the kiddos? 

Stretching Out,

P.S. There are no accompanying photos for this post because that would require me getting up and taking pictures of my little runners. All before coffee. 

* I considered participating, but I got over it. 
**My shoelaces are always in cahoots with the pedals and I tend to use fences as brakes. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Jesus and Mental Health

My heart breaks and my knees weaken for the loss in the Warren family. My prayers are with them and those who have walked this devastating road ahead of them.

Matthew Warren's tragic decision has catapulted the topic of Christians and mental illness into an uncomfortable light; One which we would rather stay out of. On the whole, Christians are deep-down afraid to discuss mental illness. 

We feel an added pressure to hide or deny our own mental illnesses. Somehow it feels like we're not "selling" Jesus to the unbeliever if we struggle with something so significant as manic depression. The realm of psychological/psychiatric illnesses is under more scrutiny than the physical. If a Christian is diagnosed with cancer, the reaction is more direct: A very small minority will wonder if this is some form of punishment, but most will respond with sympathetic prayers. After all, as ugly as cancer is, these things just happen. We hear diagnoses such as schizophrenia, anxiety, bipolar or dissociative identity disorder and suddenly an ominous black cloud rolls in and the speculation begins. It's a sin issue at the least and demon possession at worst. We automatically connect mental illness with a spiritual sickness. There's no doubt that it's harder to diagnose and treat that which is largely unseen. To make matters worse, we lack a concrete cause to blame. We blame chemicals in our food for behavioral disorders, and nature for physical disorders. If we find a lump, or struggle with sensory input the solution seems so much more straightforward, and the cause non-spiritual.  Paranoia cannot be pinpointed with the same accuracy and it feels like it goes deeper than brainwaves and dopamine levels. It feels like it invades to the soul. And we squirm in our seats, afraid to pull at that thread.

Dear ones, we need not fear. This is a level playing field. All sickness is spiritual. From the insignificant sniffle to every single cancer cell, all is a result of evil loosed on this earth. From thyroid imbalances to chemical imbalances, all creation groans under the weight of falleness. All sickness is spiritual, because it is the result of sin-ness, but not all sickness is the direct result of one's rap sheet of grievances. Christians are no exception, and that is OK. We have allowed a dark church history to automatically marry mental and spiritual health. Are there instances where the two are intertwined? Oh, to be sure, but to suggest that Christians should never suffer from mental illness is like claiming that marrying a doctor will ensure you never get sick. We need not assume there is or is not a connection between someone's sin and their mental health and instead love the spiritually wounded, wherever they are and whatever their diagnosis. 


Monday, April 8, 2013

A Mile In My Shoes: My Daughter's Birth Mother

An opportunity for YOU to share your stories, in order that we might all learn to love more deeply.

This submission first appeared here and is reprinted on Cultivated Graftings with Jill's permission.

Some people are really curious about my daughters birth mother and I understand that. What I need you to understand is that I protect her to protect my daughter. My daughters birth mother is a very important piece of her history. This piece of history is a precious jewel that I will carry around for my daughter until she is ready to carry it herself. When I give my daughter this jewel, it will not be tarnished by your judgments or opinions.

I want you to know that it is never okay to disparage her birth mother. It is not okay to speculate. It is not okay to judge. In our house we speak of her in hushed and reverent tones. She is not the villain of our story, she is the hero. The unselfish, unsung hero. If you must know something about our birth mother, know that she is strong. Stronger, I think, than most. She is beautiful. I know this because my baby is the most beautiful child ever. She is brave, she is humble. She is loved.

Submissions may be e-mailed to:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Let Them: A Saturday Series

This first Saturday series is called "Let Them". There are so many things we just big, fat don't let our kids do. I'm meeting some of those things head-on and seeing what happens.

Let Them Fight

Have you ever witnessed a mama intervene in an argument between her children? Most likely we all have seen it, been there and done that. Have you ever seen a mama intervene in an argument between her grown son and daughter-in-law. Awkward, to say the least. 

We're a fighting family, but not a yelling family. Some people feel that "fighting" is too harsh of a word, so we cloak it in more agreeable terms such as "having a discussion" or "a disagreement". It's all fighting, and that's OK. You use whatever word you want, m'kay?

To instruct children not to fight is to teach rules over relationships. All we're accomplishing is controlled behavior in a controlled environment. Eventually our children will fight, despite our best efforts to the contrary. Let's provide a safe place for our children to learn how to lovingly duke it out, shall we? After all, we don't want to be the referee in their adult "discussions". 

Rules to Fighting:

1. Same with getting angry, you do not need an audience. Take it outside, in the garage or in your room.
2. Kind words, kind voice. This means you cannot smile sweetly to the other party and say, "I hate your face." nor can you holler at the back of their head, "I'M SORRY!!*"
3. Avoid always/never statements. They're lame and untrue. Always.
4. End with prayer. We confess and seek forgiveness from the offended party and from God and ask for His help to love one another.**

Optional Conclusion: Have them sit with their noses touching until they can't help but crack up. ***

Note: If they're going to come to blows, it might be a good idea to step in. Blood is so tricky to clean out of carpet.

On That Note,

P.S. Here are a couple of photo outtakes for your enjoyment:

*Each syllable should be punctuated by angry jabs into the air. Extra points for actual steam coming out of ears.
**Eavesdroppers are encouraged to pray for their siblings in another room. We don't need any more rings in the circus.
***This is not advised during cold season...or if you have a headbutter. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The One Where You Thought I Ditched You

Did you feel that little lurch last week? It was the world stopping on its axis. You see, I unintentionally took a week off from blogging (cue Home Alone scream). The Professor had a week off from both jobs and we had waaaaaay too much fun! We started off with a bang: We all got sick. Thankfully, all of my immune-boosting activities for the children* paid off, and we were back to normal our normal selves soon enough.

Here area few lessons from my blogging vacation:

1. A movie featuring the Easter bunny, Santa, the tooth fairy, Sandman and Jack Frost can surprisingly offer some meaningful talking points with the kiddos. Rise of the Guardians had little to offer our children. Did I mention we don't do the whole Santa-Easter bunny-tooth fairy ballyhoo? You take that away from the plot and you're pretty much left with diddly-squat. However, we had plenty to talk about, and it didn't sound like this: "You see children, that is why Santa isn't real. And remember Jesus trumps the Easter Bunny. Repeat after me. Tooth fairies are ridiculous and imaginary. Tooth fairies are ridiculous and imaginary. Good girls."**

2. It's important to communicate the day's order of events to my husband so as to not drive 30 minutes on the wrong freeway. 

3. It doesn't matter how many times I go to Ikea, I will never be able to push their stupid carts and I will always feel like a rat in a giant Swedish showroom maze. 

4. Watching my daughter engage a little boy in an impromptu spitting contest was both comical and disturbing.***

5. It's important to take the fishing licenses with you when at the lake.

6. Fishing can be rewarding without a single nibble.

7. The safest way to fish with a toddler is to remove the hook and just let them cast a weighted line in the water. She was none the wiser and everyone on the fishing dock breathed a little easier. 

8. I'd never used a computerized children's check-in program for a church service, and I'm in no hurry to do it again. On the bright side, I now have a receipt that says those kids are mine. 

9. Not informing one of your children that their Poppa is a police officer can cause alarm upon seeing him in uniform.****

10. Mimosa trees are charming and planting one is a classy way to honor a much-loved and dearly-missed woman of God.

Find some time to enjoy the changing weather, watch a movie, plant some flowers. Go live a little!

Take A Load Off,

*Eating dirt at the park and licking public water fountains. Works like a charm.
**FYI: I'm not getting paid to yack about this movie. Isn't that shame? 
***NOT in Ikea.
****Nothing a little therapy can't undo.