I’m chopped liver…

I am a stay at home mom.  I am home almost every day, for most of each day.  I am the one who throws a ball for Crazy Dog.  I am the one who feeds her, or reminds a crumbsnatcher to feed her.  I pet her, and love on her, and sneak her scrambled eggs under the table.  I clean up her poop in the backyard and any mess she makes in the house (which only happens when she is sick…  she is a good dog.)  I believe that I should hold some higher estimation in her Crazy Dog brain.  

But I am chopped liver.  But that expression is not appropriate…  She would gobble up chopped liver.  I am chopped something else the dog wouldn’t eat.  Say, chopped cucumbers.

Sure, she follows me around during the day.  She takes a nap with me if I do.  Crazy Dog licks my toes when I put my feet up.  She is pleasant and nice to me. But…

In the eyes of Crazy Dog, the sun SETS on The Man.  

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She sees his truck pull into the driveway, and she goes berserk, whining and crying and barking at the kitchen door.  I pull in and open the door, and she casually walks around the corner with a ball, as if to say, good, you’re here, get me a drink.  But The Man gets jumping and loving and kissing and wagging, and all around parade-worthy welcome.  I am just a tad jealous.  I once drove his truck, and could hear the commotion before I entered the kitchen!  She was excited to see ME.

Nope, it was the truck.  She thought it was her daddy.  The disappointment on her face was tangible.  She whined at the door for an hour, thinking he was just in the garage.

See?  Chopped Liver.  A guy at church told me I should bite her ear.  Then I would become Alpha-dog in her mind.  I can’t do it though, I will just continue to rub her ears lovingly.

The Man says it is because Crazy Dog used to look like this:

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And then one very warm day in spring I decided she looked hot and needed a haircut, so now she looks like this:

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How many times can a person say they’re sorry to a dog?  Here, Crazy Dog, have some scrambled eggs…

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Building Servants (…because hiring them is not cost-effective)

I got the strangest look from my neighbor on Thursday…  You see, he was returning something that my daughter had given him earlier.  He thanked me and mentioned he was surprised at what she had given him.  I told him, “Yes, well, I have been trying to teach my kids how to be servants.”  And the look he gave me made me realize he had no clue what I meant.  I could almost see him trying to picture me with a little minion factory in my basement…  (Like this)

Is servanthood such a rare thing these days?  Have we really gotten to the point where serving someone for no reason at all is weird?  I know for me, I was tired of seeing my kids think only of themselves before each other or our family, so I started a little summer project:

The Warm Fuzzy Jar  Image

I got a bunch of soft and squishy pom poms, and put them in a big jar.  Then I labeled three small jars (I have always wanted to use these little antique milk jars for something, and now I have it!) with the crumbsnatchers names on each jar.  I sat them down and explained the project.  Each time one of them does something nice to help someone else out, I will notice and put a warm fuzzy into their own jar.  When their jar is filled to the top, they will get to do something fun with me.  Just the two of us.  Annnnnd……… GO!

Instantly, I had three little servants!  The Queen Bee made my bed.  Warm fuzzy.  The Cruise director gave up her time on the iPad to her little sister.  Warm fuzzy.  The Happy Tornado let the dog out.  Then in.  Then out.  Warm fuzzy.  Or two…?  I was trying hard to notice their acts of kindness.  Because it is a lesson for me too.  Don’t just notice the rotten things the crumbsnatchers do, but the good things as well.  And to say so!  Good job!  You did something kind.  You thought about someone other than yourself.  And of course, it always helps to have a little incentive to get your mind into thinking about others.  I was happy with the way this Warm Fuzzy Jar Project was going!

One morning later in the week, I was out pulling weeds (they will be my nemesis this summer!) and my Queen Bee brought out a big glass of sparkling lemonade for me.  Oh, how wonderful.  But the clincher for me was a few minutes later when the Cruise Director came out with a big tumbler of sparkling ice water, walked over to my neighbor, who was also pulling weeds and getting his home ready for a graduation party, and handed it to him.  “I thought you might be thirsty.”

Tears.  Running down my cheeks, leaving small tracks of dirt.  I hurriedly wiped them away (yeah, now it is a big mud stain…) and thanked God for my girl with a developing servant heart.

And yes, that is what I need to do.  Build servants.  How are my kids going to learn to serve if I don’t show them.  The Man is such a great model of that to them.  Me, well, I try to be.  But I need to encourage them too.  See a need.  Fill a need without being asked.  Put God first and others second, and yourself LAST.  Be Jesus to someone who might not see Jesus in this world.  Thank others who have served you.  See where others are serving and join in!  I also tried to show them the examples that Jesus gave us.  Maybe the warm fuzzies will help them understand these words better:

John 5:19 -Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

 

John 12:26 -Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

 

John 13:12-17 -When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

 

John 15:15 -I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

And so, though it is sad that our neighbor now thinks we are producing minions in our basement, we are still developing servant hearts in our crumbsnatchers.  I hope the warm fuzzies continue.  I hope the acts of service continue long after we put away our jars.  I hope it lasts well into their adulthood, until they themselves have to build their own servants in their children…

But for now, I will enjoy them being my little minions…

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I don’t work… apparently

Yesterday, I was hoppin’ mad at the Queen Bee. This is spring break from school, and the Man took off work as well, so we spent the day yesterday staring at the snow, and planning our camping trip to Kentucky for the remainder of the week. I spent at least two hours cooking spaghetti casserole, prepping pancakes, making guacamole, assembling four days of food, after I had packed five people’s clothes into our camper, and created a menu and shopping list. I was just getting ready to go out and finish the grocery shopping and get some special items for Easter baskets…
And in the midst of it all, the Queen Bee says, “You are doing an awful lot of coking this morning mom.” “Yes, well, I am getting us all ready for our trip so I can enjoy our vacation.” And I was just getting ready to say that I never really get a true vacation from being mom, even when we are on fun trips, because I still have to cook and clean and take care of crumbsnatchers… But before I could get that truth out, the Bee says, “It’s not really a vacation for you, mom, because every day is a vacation for you since you don’t work!”

I have no words. I can’t even believe she said that. If we weren’t planning to leave today, I would have gone on strike! Don’t work? Obviously I don’t have her doing enough chores…

Time for the Bee to start juggling some of my buckets!

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Eureka! I have found it…

About a year ago, the Man asked me where I would like to go for our 10th anniversary.  He had his little Select Registry book out with all the really nice Bed and Breakfasts in the same network as our little honeymoon cottage.  He was hoping I would say Bangor Maine, because we had always talked about going to Maine.  I think it surprised him when I said, “Eureka, California.  Definitely.”  I didn’t think he’d agree, but sure enough, he found a super nice bed and breakfast there.  And so he booked it, and bought plane tickets.

You see, about six years ago, we moved my grandmother from Nevada to Ohio, so my parents could watch out for her (she was no longer able to take care of herself.)  She had a houseful of things that we had to downsize, and I took in a lot of the more personal special things.  Photo albums, memorabilia, antiques, and her silver.  I soon realized I was sitting on a treasure.  No, not the silver.  The history!  I had in my hands a copy of my great great great grandmothers memoirs generationsfrom when she crossed the United States in a wagon train in 1850!  I had her recollections of blazing a trail to northern California (the first party to ever do so overland.)  I had old cabinet photographs of the pioneering family.  And I had photos of their children and grandchildren, and my great grandfather’s letters home to his family while he served as a State Senator of California.  And newspaper articles of weddings and obituaries!  This was more precious than the silver.  This was a story.  And it was MY story.

cover photoBeing a scrapbooker, I immediately began planning…  I had my dad look through everything with me and tell me what he could remember.  Then I talked with my grandmother (who couldn’t remember much, but some.)  Nine months later, my dad passed away, and my mom and I started this ancestry scrapbook as a project to help us cope with grief.  My mom helped me sort through the information and put it into chronological order, and I sold all of grandmother’s silver and purchased supplies.  It was long and slow, since with two little crumbsnatchers, I didn’t have much time to work on it.  But soon I realized that my ancestors were of the founding families of Eureka, California, and the subsequent ancestors were all from Eureka.  I had to go to Eureka, someday.

DSCN0372So when the Man asked me where we should go, I didn’t even have to think.  And in July, we hopped on a plane and spent a whirlwind four days in Northern California.  And the Man is a very good man.  We spent a whole morning looking through cemeteries, and then a historical tour of the town (horse drawn carriage, so at least it was romantic.)  Then we spent the afternoon in the town’s historical society, where I left with a pile of copies and info.  Doesn’t that sound so romantic?  Well, the bed and breakfast was amazing, and our evenings were very relaxing and wonderful…

SAMSUNG SGH-i917_000711Eureka means (in Greek) “I have found it!”  Most people think the town has something to do with the finding gold, since it was started in 1850 (just after the forty-niners made their way to California in the gold rush.)  But really, it is because the inland bay, which is the second largest in California, was so darn difficult to find, that one of the first settlers, a sea-captain, cried, “Eureka!” when he finally found the inlet to the bay.  It was not a gold town, but a lumber town.  Because Eureka is on the edge of the majestic Redwood forest.  The man and I spent a whole day staring up at redwoods while we were in California.  It was awe-inspiring.DSCN0569

DSCN0349But I kept having my own Eureka moments as we delved through old books and ledgers and ephemera.  Eureka, I have found my great great great grandmother’s gravesite!  Eureka, I have found a more complete version of her diary!  Eureka, I have found ledgers and bank notes from my ancestors to DSCN0410other notable pioneers!  Eureka, I have found telegrams noting illnesses and deaths of ancestors!  Eureka, I have found newspaper articles and obituaries about ancestors!  Eureka, I have found a photo of my great-grandfather at the Founder’s Grove in the DSCN0542Redwood forest!

The anniversary trip was amazing, and the information was priceless.  My story is bigger, and more complete.

Now, I have to get back to my scrapbook…

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The Trouble with Naked…

We have a problem in our house.  A naked problem.  Nakedness runs rampant, and we haven’t figured out a way to stop it.  I am tired of repeating, “Put your pants on!” or “Don’t take off your clothes!”  I can’t seem to make it through a day without saying something to that effect.

Nakedness has been a problem in this house since the Cruise Director learned how to take off her own clothes.  It seems they learn how to take clothes off LONG before they learn to put clothes on, which means they are much more practiced, and therefore better at taking them off.  I have photographs.  Which I will not be posting, of course.  But it is documented proof of the naked troubles of our home.

When the Cruise Director was three, and the Queen Bee was two, long before the Happy Tornado was even a tailwind, I took them to a neighbors house up the street to play, and they ended up swimming in the kiddie pool.  Naked.  But it was a sanctioned naked, since I had not brought swimsuits.  When I mentioned it was time to go, I had yet to put a diaper back on the Queen Bee, and the Cruise Director jumped up, ran to the front of the house, hopped on her tricycle, and rode it naked seven houses down the street back home.  I was just rounding the corner of the neighbors house in time to see her taking the corner onto our own driveway.  And even from seven houses away, I could see her naked bum.  Anyone who happened to look would see her naked bum sitting on that tricycle, because it had an orange FLAG waving to all, making sure they noticed her naked joyride.

The next spring, I was getting them both dressed in the morning, and a light rain was falling outside.  I made the mistake of singing a song I know about dancing in the rain, and ZOOM they are both out the front door, and dancing naked in the front yard.  The naked problem cannot be kept indoors.

The naked problem cannot be kept at home either.  The Happy Tornado has added a whole new dimension to the naked problem in our home.  She removes her clothes before she even heads to the bathroom to use it.  It is now not just me, but all four of us continually calling out, “Put your pants on!” It does not help that she is sensitive to wet things.  The slightest leak in her pants, or spilling water on them, and she is stripped down.  We were once shopping at Home Depot, and it had been raining the day before, so there was a bit of wetness in the race-car seat of the shopping cart.  When she had sat in it, HT was completely upset.  While my back was turned to look at something, she had removed all her clothes, and was standing in the cart buck naked in the middle of the wide open vanity and toilet showroom.  I was not lucky enough to be shopping in the tall, and more private aisles of, say, the nuts and bolts department.

I had mentioned to her preschool teacher that the Happy Tornado has this naked problem, and she remarked that she had never noticed any such troubles.  I was vindicated a few weeks later, when the school director shared the reason behind the HT’s change of wardrobe.  She had gone into the bathroom, and gotten a little something on her pants, so she just took them off, and went back to her Montessori work station.  Naked.  It was a few minutes later before her teachers noticed that she was just working along without her pants on.  Naked, I tell you!

I was running a little late to pick up the Cruise Director from an art class at the local University, so I called to the remaining two, time to go!  And I discovered the Queen Bee, lying in her bed, watching a program on the iPad, NAKED!  “Hurry hurry!  We have to get in the car!  Why are you NAKED??!!!”  So she grabs some pajamas (even though it isn’t even dinner yet) and we head down the hall.  The Tornado sees the Bee in her pjs, and runs back to the bedroom.  “Come on, we are getting in the car!”  I go back to the bedroom, and find her, now, NAKED!   AHHH!  I just had everyone clothed a minute ago!  I picked her up, and the clothes she’d shed, and put them in the car.  I would just have to bring naked with us, and hope it would find itself fully clothed before we drove up alongside any other cars…

This morning, the crumbsnatchers were finishing up breakfast, and the Cruise Director announces she needs to get dressed because she was naked.  She was, of course, not naked at the breakfast table, but wearing a robe.  But when her sister asks, “You’re naked?” the CD then opens her robe, and gives us a little hip wiggle before running off to get ready.  NAKED!

I wonder if we had a boy in the mix of crumbsnatchers, would the naked problem be any less?  It would probably be just a whole different type of naked.  But right now, I don’t know how to get rid of the naked.  We have a lot of clothes in this house.  They just don’t stay on my kids long…

 

If any of you come to visit, don’t be surprised if I don’t answer the door right away.  I am probably just trying to hide my naked troubles.

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Buckets of Grace

I attended a funeral yesterday, the second one in as many weeks.  Last week we said a final goodbye to my friend’s husband, and because he lived a good long and faithful life, his funeral was more of a celebration, as those he left behind were grieving their loss, but glad that he was at peace after a long illness.
But yesterday, another dear friend buried her grandmother, all the while grieving from a phone call that her mother had also just passed that morning.  Double heartbreak.  Another funeral this Saturday.  It was hard to see her emotions as she dealt with such an abundant loss in one week.
What can you do for someone with such pain?  Another friend writes in her blog what you can do for a grieving friend.  I love it, because she hits on three big buckets.  Emotional.  Physical. Spiritual.  Go here, and read it.  You won’t regret it.
At the funeral, my friend’s mother-in-law told me that she wished she could take all the pain from my friend so she wouldn’t have to bear it.  And I thought for a moment:  Yes, but would you deny her the Grace that God offers to her because her pain is so great?  I mentioned as much to her mother-in-law, who replied (tongue in cheek- because that is how she and I roll,) “Well, sure, I’ll take that too!”
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Half a lifetime ago, I experienced a personal tragedy.  A seriously traumatic event at a young (but still believing) age.  The pain of which I would not wish upon another, had someone actually made the offer to take it from me, as my friend’s mother-in-law had wished.  But I say that for two reasons:  One, the obvious one, is that we wish that kind of crap just never happened to anyone. The clinging of sin in this broken world, making our lives at times unbearable.  And two, rather surprisingly, I would not want to miss out on the Grace.
When your spiritual bucket is bone dry, and you are standing at the bottom looking up, unable to see anything but the dreary sky past the empty bucket’s rim.  (There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Eliza…) It is in those times that God just pours down His life-changing, soul-satisfying Grace, filling up our dry bucket, all the way to the rim, so that we can float up in hope of seeing the world anew.  -I don’t often wax poetic, so don’t get used to it.-  There is a psalm that King David wrote because he was stuck in the bottom of his own dry spiritual bucket.  You may have heard of it.

Psalm 40:1-3 says *my own emphasis in {}:  I waited patiently for The Lord, He inclined and heard my cry, He lifted me up out of the pit {which is a really deep, empty, bucket with no way out}. Out of the miry clay {our grieving, our trauma, or the sticky sin-broke world that clings to us}. He set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps {he makes sure to hold us steady while we get our feet back under us again}. He has put a new song in my mouth, Praise to The Lord {because if you think I can talk about anything else but Jesus’ Grace for getting me through THAT, you’ve got another think coming}. Many will see it and fear, and put their trust in The Lord.  {yes, now this trauma is part of me, and part of my testimony.  I will give evidence to the Grace of God that got me out of that, and you will hear it, and you will know God is trustworthy.}

Many times people will say to me, when they heard what I have been through, “I could never have gone through that and faired as well.”  Well, duh!  (that’s what my crumbsnatchers would say.) Nobody on the outside of the bucket thinks they could get out if they were in it.  Because they are living just an ordinary day.  Same as me most days.  With the ordinary amount of Grace to get us through.  Nobody with an ordinary amount of Grace CAN survive the deep buckets in life.  It takes DEEP BUCKETS of Grace.  And God gives his people just the amount of Grace they need for each day.
Just like the manna in the wilderness.  You only collected enough from the ground that you needed for each day.  If you took any extra, it would immediately get all spoiled and smell like rotten potatoes at the end of that day!  (I am guessing the Israelites all tried it once or twice, and realized it was futile to even try, not worth the trouble.  Plus, their next-tent neighbors would smell it, and they’d be laughing, “Smelled like you took too much manna yesterday!”)  But on the day before the Sabbath, you could gather twice the amount of manna, so that you could rest on the Sabbath, and lo and behold, that manna didn’t spoil.  Because you needed it.  God’s Grace will always be sufficient like that.  Just enough for your needs, and poured in buckets on your head when your circumstances made it desperately required.
So for my dear friend, I pray she doesn’t miss experiencing the buckets of Grace.  Because with this time, this week, she is at the bottom, looking up, and needs to float.

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Why I love my Valentine:

I love the man.  He makes me laugh.  And he still laughs at me.  But in a good way…  Today is Valentine’s Day, and even though I know all he’s bringing me is a bag of dogfood and a case of catfood, it’s okay, because I know he loves me.  He tells me all the time.  (And we’re out of catfood and dogfood…)

In July, the Man took me to Eureka, California for a long weekend.  And we laughed a lot.  Sometimes because something was actually funny, and others because it was something that just seemed funny to us.  And I have lost track which…

DSCN0326This was funny because the dang thing got us lost leaving the rental car lot at the airport.

 

 

 

DSCN0382This was funny because it was a random guy with a bowler hat and pipe walking around town…  I am sure he was smoking marijuana…

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAMSUNG SGH-i917_000729This was funny, because there really is a lot of marijuana here…  We picked up some nice souvenirs to take home for our loved ones.

 

 

 

 

 

DSCN0554Look, the Man is pushing a stump that was in the way.  In the Redwood Forest.  (He’s so strong…)

 

See?  I told you sometimes it’s not funny to anybody but us.

 

DSCN0564Standing at an information kiosk in the Redwood Forest.  The Man says, “Look honey, that tall guy lurking in the back of this Founder’s Day photo looks like your dad!”  “Very funny!  Oh, wait!  That is my great-grandfather!  No way!”  True story.

 

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This sign is funny.

 

 

 

 

 

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So is this sign.

 

 

 

 

 

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Gotta love when a brothel is noted by the heritage society.  The girls used to advertise themselves from the cantilevered bays!

 

 

 

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And this family that rented the four-person cycle with a basket on front for their basset hound.  Funny!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also both laughed at the items that were part of the ‘mini-bar’ in our bed-and-breakfast room:  Bag of granola, Bike and Hike guide to Northern California, glow sticks, and a few things we really can’t mention…

I am looking forward to many many more years of laughter.  (‘Cause that was just four days worth!)

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