Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm so behind...lol

Here's the afore mentioned recap...Last week was awesome and simple.  There was the awesome Community Center dinner...such fun, warms the heart. We had 2 days of school then 5 days together with the kids. Fabulous!

The Old Firehouse Community Center is a wonderful ministry started by a terrific couple, I believe, in the early 90's maybe the late 80's even.

They teach Martial Arts to kids from all over for just the most nominal fee, wrap and donate hundreds of presents to community families in need, Gather and donate school supply stuffed back packs every year, host free computer classes and Bible studies AND they put on this awesome to do every year. (the pictures are all of their graduated Black Belts)

It's a time for those who have to come and share and those who don't to come and get what they need. It's family, It's fun, it's being real with each other and the community. It's awesome :) (Our fabulous Pastor getting his grub on :)

Our Family time was spent decorating the tree and just hanging out. I loved it. My kids are such awesome company!
Moose was really groovin on the finished product here...lol
Boyo was, of course, responsible for the lights :)

All of the kids get in on the fun. 

Even our resident "Humbug" 
(every family has one.
 When I was growing up it was my Moms Brother,
Uncle John)
Got into the spirit and had some fun :)

This is one of those times where, even my shy Tabby Cat,
 Hammed it up for the camera

I even shared camera power with the less fortunate here and there.
A TRULY selfless and charitable act ;)
(These are better than the ones Big Daddy took
when I bent over to get the bottom of the tree decorated..UG!
My hind quarters strongly resemble those of a horse! lol)

Big Daddy didn't get to decorate with us..He was exhausted.
The whole Black Friday thing puts a bee in my bonnet,
so I won't get into it.
Suffice to say, he works retail (only another 5 weeks!)
Poor guy :(

Sunday we had our Thanks Giving Dinner then rehearsed for the Christmas Play. I need to take food pics..I know, everyone seems to love food pics. But I only have my little Rumor camera phone...I do what I can ;)
D.J. Nick Tunez,  J.O. (Jesus Only) Hoffman and Big Daddy share the spotlight equally throughout the play. We have so much fun it's hard to catch a look at everyone being serious .

Right now we rehearse here at the house. It just makes sense, up until this week we were just doing script familiarization. Now we are ready to block though...YAY!!!

This week we will be rehearsing at the church so we get all of the entrances exits and whatnot down. It's gonna be awesome. SOOOO excited about this one :)

Truth be told, I am always excited. The honor of being able to perform the beautiful message of the Gospel of Christ in a form that is relevant for today and filled with hope...it's...wow..it's just amazing! I could not be more blessed by this calling.  I'm so grateful. I'm also grateful that God has instilled my 3 oldest kids with a love for theater and acting. They have been a wonderful part of the production ministry Big Daddy and I run.

There's the promised recap. This week proves to be more challenging already; Big Daddy starts the new job today and still has 5 weeks left of the old one. So it's double duty for him, 6 days a week until just after Christmas (Brave, valiant man that he is!), Boyo and Bubba got their new school schedules, (all a mess of course) this week and that has to be fixed. Tabby and Zabo still have chess, choir, cheer and who knows what else will come up for them...Parent conferences for Moose (so much fun) But in all the hustle and the bustle one thing stays central to all we do, and may it be so for everyone this season;

Be well and blessed my friends :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Those things I used to do....

Dad (Pastor Hoffman) was preaching today and something he said reminded me of my position in the here and now and where it is that I came from.

He was talking about how last week one of the brothers in our church gave up his cigarettes to the altar. He stepped forward, after nearly 4 decades of addiction, chose to trust God as the strength to set him free and the steadfastness get him over the physical and habitual obstacles so many who suffer with addiction face after they set their minds and hearts on being free. It was beautiful. It was inspiring. And his faith, his sacrificial faith in the Lord encouraged another member of our family to affer to do the same.

This week she struggles. Dad was talking about how awesome it was that God had set our brother free and that she also had committed to allowing God to free her as well. She capitulated. She didn't want it said aloud. I remember that feeling; not wanting to risk laying my failure at God's door. I sympathize, I really do, and I have encouragement to give her. I too was bound, I too dealt with the fear and shame. I too suffered with addiction. Cigarettes, drugs, alcahol and more. But I hesitated. I thought about what to say, but I said nothing.

Too often as a Christian, a woman who is living my faith, not perfectly, but because of and through His grace, I look at my life now, the goodness and blessing that is evident, and feel others will not trust that I understand their suffering. I am afraid they will not see the sincerity in my heart for their pain and my genuine desire to share only what God has given me, not what I read about or "expect" them to believe. Self-doubt clouds my testimony. Not doubt in God, He has already proved Himself to me. It is doubt in my lawful right to help another tortured soul. Maybe it is demonic oppression seeping into my thoughts. Maybe it's just fear of being rejected. I don't know, but to those things this is what I have to say;

I did not begin here. I used to live in darkness. I was as desperate for as I was afraid of the Light that would be my freedom. I did not begin...here. The fact that I am here is glory and praise to God alone because, He is the one who saved me. He is the one who set me free. He, Jesus Christ the Son of God is my Hero, my Father and my Friend because I did not begin here.

To my sister who is struggling...Hold out! Don't give up....help is on the way :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

To review...

It's been a crazy week as always. I don't think craziness every ends, not in the world we live in. The days of embroidering by the fire with nothing but how well it is done on ones mind, as it's portrayed in the Little House books, seem to be gone for everyone. 

Going down the line..

Moose keeps getting in trouble at school. The funny thing is, he doesn't respond like the Beaver. I can't figure it out. For some strange reason when he gets in trouble he doesn't hang his head, doesn't try and avoid eye contact or not ask for anything to keep from drawing attention to himself because he is ashamed of his behavior. No, not my moose. My moose comes out the preschool doors tugging at his backpack straps and broadcasting for the world to hear "I got two warnings....can we play at the park?". I have talked, bribed and disciplined...at this point all I can do is pray and feel sorry for his teacher :(

Zabo is enjoying Cheer more and more every week. She missed two weeks because of that pesky respritory infection, but they got her right back up on the horse, or in this case, the pyramid :) She came home last week just bubbling over shouting "Mommy! I'm two fliers!" In english this means that she has been chosen to be the flyer for two stunts and she's thrilled. Big Daddy sent me a video of her climbing up on two other girls thighs and being lifted in the air. It was cool. She's a natural. All is good in the 7yr olds world. :)

Tabby also had a great week. Mostly this is because her childhood crush/best friend invited her and their other best friend to the movies for his birthday. It was adorable how she asked me cautiously if she could go. They aren't allowed to date until they are 16, she was worried that meant going out with a boy as well...lol Of course this is completely not what the rule is in place for. His parents will be taking them, his little sister will be there, it's just a b-day thing. It's just cute that she was worried.

Bubba went to the planetarium with a bunch of girls...which is too funny because we always said he would be the first to have a real girlfriend even though Boyo is mr. personality himself. But that's not what's going on in this case. Bubba is a geek, he went on a geek outing with some girls from the science olympiad group. He didn't really have fun, not that I am surprised. He is a gentle and introspective sort and he spent the day with 3 17-22 yr old opinionated, intelligent, hormonal, young women. Good times...lol He said he is never doing it again. I think this is the "Year of life lessons" for Bubba. Especially those concerning females.

Boyo, as I have written before, lost a friend and team mate this week. He was a sweet young man with a fabulous smile and big dreams. He had an enlarged heart..I don't think they knew about it. He played football and basketball. He and Boyo have been friends since 3rd grade. The young man passed away in his sleep after playing one last game of football with friends and having a good conversation with his brother over the phone. Tragic that he is gone so young, but we are so grateful that his parents and friends do not have a worse tragedy of knowing he took his own life or lost it to a foolish decision like drugs or the like. Still, there are no words...only prayer.

That leaves just me and Big Daddy. We do have an older daughter. She is amazing, intelligent, married and VERY far away. i miss her daily and pray for her often. We chat here and there, stay connected on face book. I got to actually hear her wonderful voice for a whole hour last week! It's the longest conversation in over a year and the only one since May. She seems to be doing well and I am proud of all God has done in her life.

So, today was the first "interfaith" funeral I have ever attended. Wow...nuff said.

How was your week? :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sometimes it just doesn't make sense

My son lost a friend and teammate today, 16 1/2 yrs old. A few years ago my oldest daughter lost one of her best friends 17yrs old. When I was 15 I lost a dear friend and high school crush he was 16. A dear friend lost their son to a 24hr sickness when he was just 15. It just doesn't make sense...Death so young.

Tragedy happens to children..it's awful, it's frightening, we, as parents, do all we can to protect our small ones from the evil, sickness and malice of the world; those things and people that would steal their bright smiles from our lives...but then they grow up.

When they are teenagers we stop worrying quite so much, we have to. We stop protecting quite so much, they need their Independence. We become their coaches, their safety net as they learn to leap and to fly on their own. We're not their parachute anymore, we can't hold them close, keep an eye on them every minute, shield them from it all...and horribly, tragically, senselessly some are lost.

How do we cope? How do we comfort? I still don't know. I try and listen, i weep with them, how could I not, they are my treasured children...my heart breaks when their heart breaks. My broken heart won't heal them though...so I pray. I hold them close, I hug them tight and I pray...

"Dearest Father, I know it's not senseless, but it feels like it. I know there's a reason, a purpose here, though I cannot fathom it. I don't get it, but I trust You. Here Lord, hold my child. You gave him to me to protect and care for, but nothing I am is enough to heal this pain, nothing I am will comfort his wounded heart. Only You know the answers, only You can give him peace. I lift Him to you, along with his friends who are all suffering for this loss of precious potential. A million smiles never seen, a million experiences never shared, a million tears are falling Lord, a thousand children crying, hold them Lord. Give us Your words to comfort, Your Spirit to bless, Your hope to move on when it is time. I love You, my son loves You, You love us and have given so much to be close to us, let that love become a circle of healing, and let it begin dear Father here, with my son." Amen

We will miss you young man

an addendum

THIS is my favorite article..it's from the NY Times and is specifically about elderly or indigent care, but it applies to motherhood and wifedom too! We are 24/7 caregivers to those who depend on us for compassion, love and nurturing...taking a break, taking care of ourselves, relaxing or going out for a bit isn't selfish, it's necessary to everyones well being.


"Self-care is not a selfish act. It’s an essential act, because a caregiver who burns out, who becomes overly stressed, exhausted or ill, is no help to anyone. There are many ways for caregivers to protect their physical and emotional health, and a growing number of organizations that can help. Sometimes all you need to do is ask."

If you have the time to read the whole article it has some fabulous suggestions and info.

Be well and Blessed my friends :)

Taking time for yourself

One of the things I have realized recently is that the more I take care of myself, the better I feel about my relationship. I know...I know..relationship guru's have been saying this for YEARS...gimme a break, I'm a slow learner.

Anyway, when I'm so busy taking care of everyone elses stuff and neglecting myself, I rely very heavily on those others for my value and happiness. That's not remotely fair for 2 major reasons

1. I'm a VERY difficult woman to please..lol I have very high standards for myself and do not understand people who do not. And even IF they do, they may not be as high as mine, which are the sky high, unattainable type and so they just wont do.

2. Happiness is relative. It's something we perceive as real based on all of the input, including our own mood at the moment. Many times I have heard people say "I should be happy..." because all of the external facts seem to add up to what a person would call happiness, but the feelings of the person in question have a profound effect on how they perceive those facts. My wonderful family could do everything right, everything they know I enjoy and it could still not be enough to make me happy because I'm literally not "feeling" it.

When I take time to do the things that are about valuing myself, when I exercise, when I deny my sweet tooth what it wants in favor of what my body needs, when I take my time to study as I know my mind and spirit needs...then I feel lighter, better, happy without anyone having to try and "make" me happy. When it's like that my relationship with Big Daddy especially is fantastic because I'm not dependant on him to give me what I have neglected to give myself and what it is impossible for him to impart; self worth.

In the interest of sharing this amazing epiphany with others (strap on the boots girls..it's gettin deep ;) I have scoured the Internet for some good advice and I will share what I have found here :) SHMILY

From www.lovingyou.com

Ask yourself:
  • How has your life improved in the last year?
  • What have you done that you never thought you could do?
  • What actions have you taken recently that have yielded positive results?
  • What negative habits have you gotten rid of?
  • What charity work have you done?
  • How have you been a good friend, employee and partner?
  • How are you continuing to improve yourself?
Asking and answering these questions of yourself will help you realize all the things you've accomplished that really matter. This is a key to self-love. Comparing yourself to yourself allows you to see how much you've achieved, obstacles you've overcome and goals that are within reach. It also helps you improve your self-appreciation and gratitude.

From www.selfworthquotes.com

.“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
Louisa May Alcott

From www.wikihow.com

Stop making your self-worth conditional on other people. Once you try to live up to an image of what you think others want to you to be, you lose self-worth. Instead, you are following a compass set by other people's expectations, whether or not those expectations are clearly defined or implied. Unfortunately, many people live this way, including making such choices as studies, career, where to live, and how many children to have, all based on expectations from parents, spouses, friends, and the media, and mostly because they are afraid of standing up for their own preferences and respecting their self-worth.
  • Be very wary of listening too much to people who regret the choices that they made in life and are willing to inflict their distress or anger at this regret upon others (especially upon the next generation). Such people won't enlighten you as to the path of acting on your self-worth but will try to either live out what they didn't get through you or even expect you to have the same rotten experiences they had by giving poor information, incorrect details, or simply omitting to inform you at all. People with healthy self-worth will share their insights and learning with you, and will be willing to guide you around life's many traps. Look for those people to mentor you rather than being misguided by the unhappy people.
What kinds of things do you to to show a little love to yourself?

Quality time?

So it's Thursday, time for our relationship question of the week...yes, I'm going there. 23 years of marriage HAS to be good for more than cheap silver plated gifts! Just kidding. I'm very happy to say that after our ups and downs Big daddy and I have, in fact, been together for 23 years. Besides our obvious love for each other (it really is obvious..we still do the whole PDA and everything..lol) we have 6 wonderful and unique offspring as the fruit of that relationship.

These being the facts, I often get people asking me relationship questions that range from the "Yeah, someone really should have talked to you about this." to "Whoa Nelly! That's a little blunt..." One thing I have found though is that they are all valid questions. I will attempt to answer, from my perspective,  the ones I get asked the most often. If you have any you'd like my opinion on well just come on down, sign on the dotted line and wait your turn, I am NEVER at a loss for an opinion...lol

Today's question is "How do you do it?" OK, that's usually the prelude to a real question, but it is by far the question I am asked most often. :) The real question this week is "How do you get any time alone?" I'm more than willing to take suggestions on the answer for this question as my own may seem a little dull....we MAKE time. We STEAL time. We FIND time.

Big Daddy and I are just like every other couple out there, except that we honestly have very little in common in the way of personality and common interests :) That could be the key to our success as a married couple, or it could just be God's vast and astounding sense of humor at work in my daily life. I tend to believe the latter. Regardless, just being together, having a conversation where we both have the opportunity to complete a sentence without any interjections of "Mom! I need a..." or "Papa, can you take me..." or "You like to share don't you Daddy?" sorry...inside joke.

For us it's all about quality. Here are some of our stolen moments:

* When all of the small ones are tucked into bed we will sometimes take the 30-45 min before Big Daddy has to head off to dreamland (he gets up for work at 2:45 AM ) and play Backgammon or Gin. Both are compact enough to be played on the couch between us so there's not allot of set up and both go quickly; we can play 3 or 4 rounds in our 45 min. It's time to just do something together. Sometimes we chat about nothing while we play, sometimes we don't really talk but just distress in each others company. It works for us.

* We do the grocery shopping together. Whenever possible we do the grocery shopping without any of the kids. It sounds silly, but it gives us a chance to talk about the week ahead, what we have going on, how we feel about kid stuff, without kids getting into the conversation. And there's something really freeing about the anonymity of the grocery store. We walk around in our own little world while we shop together, not worried about what the kids are up to and if there's blood or broken bones in our near future :)

* We worship together. There is something so intimate about worshiping together. Maybe it's because with true worship, is done completely naked. Not physically naked. What I mean is, to genuinely connect with God one has to be willing to let all pretense go, to stand before the Creator, unashamedly laid bare for Him to see...in those moments, knowing that he and I are both willing and open, adoring our Savior shamelessly...it's a beautiful thing. I couldn't give that up unless God Himself asked me to.

* We go out...yes, we do! We really don't have a ton of common interests. We like allot of the same movies, but neither of us like going to the theater as a way to spend time together. I'm married, if I want to spend 2 hrs sitting in the dark watching a movie with my husband I can do it far more comfortably at home! Besides, our time really is limited, so why would I spend it not connecting with him?

We go for walks in the evening. Our whole courtship/dating period was spent walking around San Francisco, talking, dreaming. We enjoy each others company allot....that helps..lol Sometimes these walks become gripe sessions or question pondering time, but they connect us..and that's what matters.

We also have a favorite breakfast place we go to. We found it last year and it is WONDERFUL. The food is good, the atmosphere is good...it's just a great place to go hang out together. You never feel rushed to get out of there, even though they have the fastest short order cooks in North West Indiana! It's "our place". Every couple should have a place like that, where they can just go and be themselves. It's that whole learned response thing. When there's a place you can go and you know that this is the place where we go together, where we talk and relax..it becomes an automatic response when you talk about going, when you think about going, when you get there to just release the tension and relax together.

When all else fails..when it's a crazy day or a crazy week and we just don't have the time to spend, we can't steal it from anywhere, we stand in the kitchen (the place no child dares go without permission, I am, after all, an Irish woman :) and just hold each other. Sometimes we take a moment to whisper loving words to each other or to steal a kiss, but mostly, we just hold onto each other, like we're holding onto a life raft in the middle of a raging storm. We lend each other strength in those few moments, solidify our commitment to each other in the midst of all we do for the sake of our family.

Busy-ness does sometimes get the better of us, but it can never be an excuse for disconnecting.

OK...so there's my weekly dose of relationship experience..I wouldn't call it advice, I don't know what your challenges are, what your relationship dynamic is, I'm not qualified to give anyone advice...What I do know is that marriage is tough, probably the toughest challenge in life. Dealing with the attitudes, behaviors, seeming faults and offenses of someone you did not give birth to is really hard at times, but the rewards...they are so worth it. I hope your relationships blossom into beautiful gardens filled with all of the sweetness of love and intimacy :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Loving my Moose

So here and there I mention, post pictures of or grumble about my Moose; the youngest of my brood. He's an awesome kid. He's a ton of fun wrapped up in a bundle of charisma that just doesn't stop until he drops, exhausted, at bed time. This is a little bit of his story

Moose was born in December of '06, I think. it's hard to keep them all straight :) He was the epitome of "Surprise!" So much so that for 9 months I did not speak to Big Daddy except to say things like "Procrastination is of the devil." and "I want french fries.". We had decided to make a firm commitment not to have any more children after Tabby. She was a miracle child after all..well, technically, since the Dr.'s told me when I was 16 I would never carry a baby to term, they all were. But that's not Moose's story. sheesh, see how easily I am distracted! Here's another picture of the little nose miner to get us back on track...

So he was born, Dec 30th. Do you know how many insane people (most of which did NOT have children) who asked me if I wanted to "hold it in" and WAIT one more day so I could have a new years eve baby? What are we thinking here? I wasn't even too interested in being prego in the first place, why would I want to purposely prolong it? No, I wanted to have the pregnancy part over and done with. You see, I knew that, no matter how much I didn't want to be pregnant and I wasn't ready for another child that, once I held that little guy in my arms none of that would matter anymore. I was right. How could anyone look at that cherubic face and not fall instantly in love?

Moose was huge, 9lb. 10oz. There are moms reading this right now going "OOOOUUCH!" No biggie. He was my 3rd 9 1/2 pounder. The other three were mercifully all 6 1/2. Go figure. He came out squallin and wriggling, hungry and sleepy all at once. I'm the paranoid type. I will shuffle myself down to the nursery if it takes more than 20 min to get my little one a bath. I have sat there holding other people's newborns, rocking them and singing to them whilst the nurses rush around trying to handle the flow of traffic. I don't mind. They are all just as close as one can get to the Father at that time. On this particular occasion though Big Daddy was there to play watch dog for me. After that first bath the little one didn't leave my side (and hasn't for nearly 5 yrs!)

Why Moose? Well because he was the biggest thing in the nursery. After 3 smaller babies, he looked enormous. When he was delivered even my Doc was surprised at how big he was. The nurse said something about him being a big boy and Big Daddy said "That's not a baby it's a moose!" to make me laugh. Later that day Big daddy left to check on the other kids. When he came back, after searching for just the right thing for his new son; he is such a proud Papa, he had a little light blue stuffed Moose. How in heavens name the man found a moose at the gift shop I will never know. But he was thrilled to death to be able to bring it up with the balloons and the flowers.

Yeah, he still has the moose. :) Moose stuck. I wish I had baby pictures, toddler pictures etc, but they were all eaten by a nasty virus on our last computer. Even with all of Big Daddy's expertise he wasn't able to save them for me. He tried...it was valiant.

It's pretty hard to find these single pictures of the little guy actually. Once he came home from the hospital he found his soul mate; Zabo

Since the day I brought him home they have been inseperable. They have their moments when they aren't too fond of each other, but the bond stays true.

You can ask either one at any time where the other is, and they always know. They are each others favorite playmate.

Until the beginning of this last school year they slept in the same bed. Moose has his own space now, but most mornings I find him stumbling, grumbling and rubbing the sleepies from his eyes on his way out of her room. Evidence that, at sometime in the middle of the night, he moved in and usurped half the pillow, again :)

Moose has enough energy to power a small country. He is always running, jumping, "yawping" at the top of his lungs and generally driving everyone crazy, even the one other child I have given birth to that rivals his natural adreniline level; Boyo

Moose does have a serious side. Mostly when he is trying to be like his daddy. :) He tries to be "grown up" and tell all the girls in his life what to do. To be fair, we are the ones closest to him, but it makes Big Daddy seem a little sexist..lol

Moose has a crush...well, two of them really. the first is Taylor Swift, whom he is sure that when he grows up he is going to find where she lives so he can go and kiss her. Would sound creepy if not coming from an adorable 5 yr old who also writes her origonal love songs...

The other crush is a sweet girl in Boyo and Bubba's youth group at church. She is so sweet to him. Whenever he sees her he compliments her on her shoes, her nail polish, her hair (Big Daddy has taught him the art of the "shmooze" rather well ;)

There are those times where this HIGH energy bundle o' boy does get on our nerves, but usually when that happens he smiles, runs around like a clown on a severe sugar high and generally becomes an exploded version of his usual nutsoid self...and we all smile...laugh along...and forget why we were so frustrated with him to begin with. After all, who could hold a grudge against the Moose?

Here's a bonus for you..since you made it this far on my "Ode to a Moose"..A dear friend introduced Moose to this song. He sings it on his own and it's the most adorable thing on the planet..."Doesn't really mean to make a mess you see, he's a chocolate Moose, sweet as he can be." :)