Friday, October 29, 2010

Counting my blessings: 6

Branch Of Wisdom

Simplicity. The more stuff, things to do, things to keep track of, etc., the more distracted I am and not only do I not feel blessed, but I forget to look for the blessings. When there isn't a lot going on, when I purge and reduce the stuff in my life, when I have time to focus, time to spend with my girls and my husband without pressure to do anything, clean anything, or put anything away I realize the blessings more and I appreciate them more. I have way too much stuff and it has become a burden to me. So all this "stuff" that I have will, prayerfully, become a blessing for others as I work on purging it out of my life.

I am working to simplify what we do and how much we do. It's so easy to over-schedule and do too much running around. I am simplifying and it is a blessing!

Many others are counting their blessings, too. To read what others are thankful for today, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Counting my blessings: 5

Branch Of Wisdom

Today I will keep my blessings simple in only listing one. I know there are so many more that this one, but I don't want to detract from the real blessing that this one is for me and my family.

I am thankful for my neighbor. I have wonderful neighbors all around me. Ones with children with whom my girls play. For them I am thankful, too. But this neighbor especially is a blessing to me. Her name is Rosalie.

Rosalie is 92 years old. She turned 80 the year we moved into the house. Around 2005, we put up a fence, separating her yard from ours and I was sad. It was only because my youngest-at-the-time would bolt for the street and we were concerned for her safety. We decided a privacy fence would be best so that those driving by wouldn't see our girls playing in the yard, because I'm paranoid like that. Rosalie understood.

In order to not totally cut ourselves off from Rosalie when we are in the yard, we decided to have that side of the fence be different. It's only about 3 feet tall in the back (that part was already there when we moved in), so we chose to make it 6feet in the front and curving around the side, but only 4 feet on the rest of that side between us. The plan was to use lattice for the other 2 feet, so we could still see and talk through it. That has yet to happen.

I love when we are in the yard and Rosalie is outside. We both come to the fence and visit. The kids are old enough to climb over that 4-foot barrier and Rosalie doesn't mind. She says to let them climb and play in her yard, they're kids. She doesn't mind the shrieking and running and chasing. They're kids. They need to do that. She is so understanding. Every now and then as we are getting ready to go somewhere, Child B or C will disappear. They've gone to say hello to Rosalie. The other day we ran into Roslie in the library and she hurried over to give my girls a hug. It totally made their day. You should see the smiles on their faces when they are around Rosalie. They love her and I love Rosalie.

Rosalie is a blessing to me. Knowing her, hearing her stories of growing up on a farm, how she was able to attend college, of her nursing career, of who lived in my house over the years and their lives, and stories about her son and grandchildren. I could listen to her for hours. She is so down to earth and funny if you listen carefully.

I am thankful for Rosalie.

To read what others are thankful for today, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Counting my blessings: 4

Branch Of Wisdom

So many things are taken for granted. Things I do every day. Things I expect. It's the unusual that easily gets my attention and causes me to pause and be thankful. Today, I am diving into some of those things I take for granted and including just a few situational things for which I am thankful.

We had massive winds yesterday and today in the Chicagoland area. I am thankful for the wind and also thankful that we did not sustain any serious damage to my family our home.

I am thankful to have internet access. I didn't realize how thankful until it went out so many times today.

I am thankful to have my sight.

I am thankful to be able to taste and smell.

I am thankful to be able to hear my children (even when they are slamming doors, as they are right now.)

I am thankful to have feeling and feelings. I love to touch the faces of my daughters. Their soft skin, silky hair, and their strength when they give bear hugs.

I am thankful that I can read and comprehend and that my children can as well.

I am thankful that my memory is good. It's not the best, nor is it as good as it used to be, but I remember (most of) the important things. I do not have one of those amazing "can remember everything" memories, for which I am also thankful. I think it would be more of a burden than a blessing.

And, lastly for today, I am thankful that the world is full of unique individuals. Can you imagine if we were all the same? I'd rather not.

To read what others are thankful for today, hop on over to Branch of Wisdom.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Counting my blessings: 3

Branch Of Wisdom

I received a comment on yesterday's "Counting my blessings" post that, in summary, mentioned that she hopes I get out of my rut soon. I just want to clarify that I am not currently in a rut. Unfortunately, I know ruts well. When I said that sometimes I don't want to hear about others' blessings or have a hard time coming up with my own, I was being honest. Sometimes that's true. Not lately, but I know myself well enough to know that I do feel that way sometimes. Usually in February. Honestly, I have yet to find those ruts a blessing, although I hope that by being able to relate to others, I can be a blessing to others when they are in a rut.

"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:4

Because I know ruts well, I am trying to write my blessing and thankfulness purposefully so that when I am in a rut, I can review these and be reminded of my blessings.

Today I am thankful for the innocence of childhood. Yesterday we saw a play based on a children's picture book. My 10-year old, fifth grade daughter smiled from ear to ear the whole time. She was excited when the beach balls came out and bounced around in the audience and she eagerly participated in the activities that included the audience. She thoroughly enjoyed it and shared in the excitement of her younger sister.

* I am also thankful for the beauty of autumn and the fun of carving pumpkins.

* I am thankful that God gave us a delightful snack inside pumpkins - the seeds!

* I am thankful that my oven has been working just fine since the time a couple weeks ago when it didn't.

* I am thankful to wind, even when strong. It carries seeds far away to surprise someone in their garden.

* I am thankful for the women in my Bible study and for the opportunity to participate in Bible study (and the childcare provisions that are available) and the freedom to worship God and speak freely about Jesus in our country.

* I am thankful that my kids don't drive me crazy *all the time*

* I am thankful for the outlet of blogging and reading blogs!

To read what others are thankful for today, visit Branch of Wisdom.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Counting my blessings: 2

Branch Of Wisdom

Sometimes it's hard to come up with non-obvious things for which to be thankful and sometimes it's hard to hear or read someone else being thankful. When times are really hard for me (emotionally, physically, financially... you name it, I've been there at one point or another. Haven't you?) I don't always like to hear how things are going well for someone else. I want someone to be miserable with me, someone to validate how I'm feeling, and someone to understand or relate to it. But I know that's not a thankful attitude. I know that God speaks truth and He tells me in Philippians 4:8:

"whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Think positively, if you will.

So, this month I am taking an active step in counting my blessings. Here is my list for today.

* I am thankful for the warmth of the sun.

*I am thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling.

*I am thankful for the smiles of my children and their contagious laughter. It sure beats their arguing!

*I am thankful we are able to eat balanced meals and that we (mostly) do.

*I am thankful my husband has a job.

*I am thankful my husband looks forward to coming home in the evenings.

*I am thankful that my husband and I complement each other very well.

*I am thankful that God's Word always puts me back on track when I'm in a rut. (I am not currently in a rut, but resolve to read through my blessings when I am!)

To read what others are thankful for today, visit Branch of Wisdom

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Counting my blessings: 1

Branch Of Wisdom

I recently posted on Facebook about a conversation I had with my girls. What I didn't include was the background leading up to it, so here goes. I had coupons for buy one get one free candy bars. I don't usually buy candy bars. Well, OK, I don't usually buy candy bars that anyone but me knows about. This time I decided I'd let the girls each pick one out and I'd have one as well. They had behaved so well during a play (which is a challenge for my 4-year old) and at the grocery store (which is a challenge for them all) and the candy car was their reward. Once in the van, I told them they could each eat half of their candy bar. One of the girls wasn't satisfied with that. Of course she didn't express her dissatisfaction until after she had eaten the first half or she would've lost that piece altogether. Rather than the lecture I usually give about being thankful, I simply asked, ""What blessings would *you* count right now?" B (who was not the one grumbling) came up with the first: "I'm blessed that I don't live in an orphanage!" She also came up with the second: "I'm also blessed that I don't work in a factory because kids can really get hurt in factories!" (I guess the movie Samantha has really had an impact on her.)

Today, I am thankful for the rain, which brought out some beautiful colors in the trees.

I am thankful for my family being in good health and that we all have complete use of our bodies

I am thankful for an unseasonably warm day that we spent in Chicago.

I am thankful that my girls have an understanding of the reward of saving money for something meaningful to them.

I am thankful my girls and husband and I all had a good day today!

I am thankful for spending the evening with my brother, who came from out of state, and my dad. We enjoyed a nice dinner together for my dad's birthday.

I am thankful to spend time together with my dad for his birthday (seems redundant, but I am also thankful my dad had another birthday for me to spend with him.)

And lastly (because I have to end somewhere), I am thankful that my hiccups finally went away.

I am thankful to participate in Tamara's A Month of Thanksgiving, to remind me to count my blessings every day, even when I don't post them publicly.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bedtime routine gone awry

It was bedtime for the girls, so we sent them to change into their pajamas and brush their teeth. A lot of giggling and squealing came from that end of the house, but it's not unusual, so we didn't think twice about it. Then Children A and B came to say that C had thrown everything off the top bunk. That's where A sleeps. She has a lot of stuffed animals and blankets up there, so adult intervention was required at this point. And neither A nor B were in their pajamas.

The. floor. was. a. mess.

Oh my goodness, it was a mess.

I just said that she sleeps with a lot of stuffed animals and blankets, right? Well, that is not all she sleeps with. Here is partial list, simply because I cannot remember everything we picked up:
* At least 8 stuffed animals
* 4+ blankets
* 3 journals
* several books she's reading
* 4+ pair of pajamas
* a couple outfits that should have been in the dirty laundry
* a bag of cough drops
* a bowl of beads, bookmarks, and origami
* a bag of cotton balls
* 8 pencils, sharpened
* a baggie of Goldfish crackers
* a baggie of Cheez-its snack crackers
* a piece of cheesy-garlic bread wrapped in a napkin from dinner last night

I simply cannot say how surprised I am at how much stuff she had up there, shocked that I didn't know about it all, and disgusted at some of it. Yuck. Yet I am laughing hysterically at the same time. She shares the room with her sisters and, for the most part, does it willingly, which is great because she doesn't have a choice. But her bed is her space.

Although the kids were reprimanded for not doing what they were told to do (the two older ones came to tell us what happened after it happened, not while it was happening), I'm glad all of that was sorted.

Not everything went back up there, I might add.

Do your kids have a favorite lovey or food they like to sleep with?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Working on 2nd grade math

I've sort of been at a loss for words lately when it comes to writing. Homeschooling is going well this year and we've been off to a great start, which is rather unusual for us. Most of the time (so far), the kids are cooperative and attentive and I can see the wheels turning in their heads while they are learning - both during structured learning and in unstructured learning (cooking, baking, playing, cleaning.)

For instance, one particular day, Child B was having repeated anxiety attacks. I'm not kidding; she has them. It's heart-breaking and frustrating to help a 7-year old through anxiety attacks. She had 4 this particular day. One involved her portable CD player and headphones. She was so focused on it that she just couldn't focus on anything else, but she and I worked together to get her work done so she could have a break. During her break we worked on some of her therapy activities involving gross motor skills. I was hoping it would pull her out of her anxiety. Then she really wanted some computer time, but there was laundry to be folded. Her sisters were ready to help fold, so we got started. After I pulled the laundry basket off the couch and we all sat on the floor, I noticed something on the arm of the couch. It was her CD player. If she had gone off to use the computer or play outside, she would not have found her CD player. Always learning. This lesson was about when we do what we are supposed to, things usually go well for us.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord. For this is right.
Honor your father and mother,
which is the first commandment with a promise
that things will go well for you
and you will enjoy your life on earth.
Ephesians 6:1-3

Some days learning comes easier than others. Child A struggled with learning to read and didn't actually enjoy reading until 4th grade. She also didn't like to write because her hand would get tired. Child B taught herself to write and pretty well taught herself to read - twice. That's a story for another time. But this year, 2nd-grade math is a real challenge for her. It's the borrowing and carrying thing that is hard (ahem, I know, re-grouping, for all the classroom teachers. But you knew what I was talking about.) And some of the math facts - like 9s. She'll be trekking right along and have 7 or 8 math problems right and then all of a sudden, every answer is 10. Not really, but that's what she writes. So I erase them, usually yell a bit re-explain what she needs to be doing, then she zips right through them. But when it comes to adding and subtracting 9, she has a hard time. Not adding 9 to 1-10, but to 68 or 74 or 46, y'know. She can do it on her fingers, but it takes her a long time and she will often become distracted by what one of her sisters is doing. So, I tried to give her a short-cut. When you have to add 9, just add 10 then subtract 1.

So, this is how that went. "You have 54 cookies (she likes to use cookies as an example) and I give you 9 more. How many do you have? 54 plus 10, then subtract 1." Using her fingers, she started counting, "Fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven..." up to 64. Then she stopped. I prompted her, "Now subtract 1." "From what?" Sigh. This is going to be a long day! (And this is why we use math blocks and rods and cubes and such now.)

Today, while working on math at the dining room table, Child B was standing up. We've been working on proper posture while writing, but one of the nice things about homeschooling is that education doesn't have to take place in any particular place or method. So, I asked her the obvious, "You'd rather stand than sit?" Her reply was a straight-faced, totally serious, not looking up from her work, "I'd rather be a peacock!"

It's these moments that I am so thankful to not miss. Now if I can just find some things to keep Child C out of trouble while I spend so much time with Child B. Does anyone have a 4-year-old-size cage I could borrow?

Disclaimer: I would not really put my child in a cage. I have to say this because someone, somewhere will take it seriously and I'm not serious. I'm joking. Get it? And if you're a parent, you're right there with me. Of course, this doesn't have anything to do with the time that Child C said that her sisters locked her in the bunny's cage. I have no idea when that was, but it just might be true. It's a large cage. Bigger than a 4-year old might need. And it's in the family room. So, you see, I didn't even need to ask for a cage because I already have one. I was just being funny and making light of the fact that she has been quite a handful lately. A really (mostly) sweet, cute handful.