Week(s) in Review: 2013 {Weeks 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30}

*composed yesterday but never hit publish….here’s this week’s edition of Week in Review…

Uh, whooops.  It appears I fell a tad behind on weekly updates.  Yikes.  I wish I could tell you exactly what happened each and every week, but I can barely remember yesterday, so going back six weeks is going to be dicey.  So, basically, I should just recap our summer.

We moved.

(Have I mentioned that before?)

That has pretty much summed up and consumed our entire break.  Half of me is super-thankful that we did this when school was out.  The other half is slightly embittered that I had zero summer break.  But, it’s all good.  We’ve made the most of being pool owners and the girls have been in the pool nearly every single day since we bought the house.  And this week we’ve tried to do a few little fun things, like getting Hawaiian Shave Ice (a once a year summer treat) and going to the Art Lab.  We have one week left before we settle back into something resembling a routine and I’m hoping to cram in a few more “summer fun” type events before it’s all said and done.

Speaking of back to school, I have never felt more unprepared ten days out than I do this year and I have little internal motivation to change that.  It’s a tad ridiculous.  Maybe school supply shopping next week will help inspire us all.  Isn’t that the best part of back to school anyway?

As far as the new house goes, we are pretty well completely unpacked.  One very intimidating room remains.  It has become the dumping grounds for all hard-to-place items and it’s going to take some time to weed through it all.  However, the unfinished part of our basement looks fabulous and I love just walking in there and seeing how clean and organized it is.  Stage two will involve going back through many of the rooms and organizing everything that just kind of got thrown into a drawer or cabinet in the name of getting things out of boxes.  And then there’s the painting and redecorating….someday.

We closed on the sale of our old house today and if circumstances had been different I would have been much more sad.  As it is, though, I feel somewhat relieved now that it’s all over.  I went back one last time today, cleaned it well and said my good byes.  I’m so sentimental and I loved that old house so much, it was good for me to do that.

Moving has been an interesting experience.  We lived in our last home for nine years.  I like to put down roots.  I get attached to places and things.  As I walked through the old place this morning so many memories came back as I stopped and reflected – good memories and not so good ones.  And I’m thankful for all of them.  I’m also thankful for this opportunity to have a new start as a family.  It seems fitting that we decided to make a house change right after we made a major family change.  It seems like a new chapter in our lives, a turning of a page, and the start of something even more wonderful.

For His Glory ~

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(Almost) Four Months Home

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Four days shy of four months home and I realize that many were eager to hear stories of Amania’s birth into our family and her transition as she becomes one of us.  And I realized I’ve shared far more about my struggles and wrestling these past four months than about her and there is a reason for that….she is doing amazingly well.  Dark skin and thick accent aside, it’s as though she’s always been here, as though she was born of my body and not just our hearts.  She is funny and emotional.  She is smart and moody.  She says she’s a princess, then she says she’s a ninja, and then she’s a ninja princess.  She plays dress up with Ellie and has tickle fights with everyone.  She slumps her shoulders and lets out a huge sigh every night at 8:00 when I say it’s time for bed (just like all of her sisters did at that age, and some still do).  She’s learning to enjoy reading time and will grab books and sit for an hour like the others, although she’ll spend at least half of that time asking myself or one of her sisters what time it is in hopes that she can be finished.  She loves to work and loves to help and will be genuinely sad if the big girls are working and I can’t find something for her to do.  (Okay, maybe that’s not like the other girls.)  She is finding her place as another mother hen, in spite of being the youngest.  She tattles and whines and gives dirty looks when she’s angry.  Lately, she has taken to asking for cookies every morning for breakfast.  We have never, in our history of parenting and certainly not in the past four months, served cookies for breakfast.  And yet, she acts genuinely shocked and dismayed when I say no every morning.  She says things like “gubble-u” for  the letter “w”.  She speaks almost completely in English except for words  like “li”, “nou”, and “kouniya” (which she uses both correctly in Creole and as “can you” or “can I” in English”).  She wants to be independent just like her sisters and last week told Matt “Dad.  No.  Stop.” and made him wait in the hall as she walked to her Sunday school class alone.  Sometimes she still wears a jacket in the air conditioning or on mornings when it’s in the low 80’s.  She loves to sing and dance and ride her bike in the driveway.  She swims like a fish and can’t wait to start kindergarten in a few weeks.  By all appearances, she’s a very healthy six year old.  And in spite of our struggles as a family, as a couple, and mine personally, this has been an amazing adventure.  Watching God weave a new member with her own story and background into a family already established, marveling at her choice, her willingness, to simply come along with us and become one of us, seeing the work God is doing in all of our hearts and our family – it’s a remarkable and beautiful thing.  We know that, like all of parenting, there will be more struggles, but we are so grateful to be on this journey together.

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For His Glory ~

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*family photo credit goes to Meghann Boatright

Clouds

Day after day, she lives in shadows.  Clouds hang overhead with glimpses of sunshine to break the monotony.  And there is no reason for the lingering dark, but it hangs on just the same.  She says nothing about the darkness because there’s no explaining the clouds when all the world sees is a beautiful springtime.  And where is God who seems to stay so distant, so far off?  He reigns regardless of the rain.  And it is He who makes the sun to shine that also sends the clouds, and these dark, quiet seasons cause growth yet unseen.  And the hope of relief comes through a friend reaching out and just that glimmer of hope causes the sun to shine a bit brighter through the shadows and she follows hard after God, trusting Him for grace for each moment, mercy for each day, and hope that is an anchor.




2648.  choosing joy, peace

2649.  knowing feeling follows action

2650.  listening for God’s gentle whisper

2651.  meeting a long time Facebook friend in real life

2652.  beautiful summer night, Mexican food, a patio, and a friend

2653.  house starting to feel like home

2654.  gift of seeking God in the dark

2655.  closeness

2656.  vehicle running again

2657.  a lighter heart

2658.  another room organized and unpacked

2659.  fourteen years of marriage

2660.  long, relaxing weekends

2661.  giant elephant ears and red hibiscus

2662.  Monday and a new week

May His light fill all your dark places and may His hope give an anchor to your wandering heart.

For His Glory ~

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Fourteen Years

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Fourteen years ago today we promised the rest of our lives. We stood and said forever and through all circumstances.  And God has been abundantly good.  We’ve walked many dark and lonely valleys and we’ve stood on glorious mountain tops.  We’ve watched God grow our family, our business, our marriage, and maybe our pants sizes.  But most of all, He has grown our love for each other.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugWe do not know what tomorrow holds.  We watch as life takes sharp and jagged turns and we know it is all grace and every day is a gift.  You are my rock and my soft place to fall, a steady voice and a ready laugh.  Fourteen years down the road, and I am more in love than ever before.  It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been worth it.  I don’t deserve the goodness God has shown, but I am oh so thankful and I look forward to what He has planned for us next.

 

By His Grace and For His Glory ~

Love, Me

Systems and Charts and How I’m Keeping the Kids on Task

I’ve had a few people ask me recently about how we do chores at our house.  A year or so ago, I shared this post about the chore system I was rolling out then.  It seemed to work really well for about a year and then fizzled, as many of our chore systems are wont to do.  So I thought through and prayed and planned and designed a new chore system utilizing washi tape, scrabble tiles, RIT dye, glue on magnets, and the side of the refrigerator.  It was pretty, it was elaborate, it was detailed.  And it was a complete and total flop.  Given, we were at the end of the school year (when everyone is just done) and then we decided to move, so who knows if they would  have taken to it.  But, we are starting a new new system now (which I will share about later in this post), but first, the flop system, because it really may work for someone else.

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I started out by coming up with all of the chores that needed to be done.  At this point, children were being paid small amounts / chore for many chores.  (We don’t do allowances – we prefer to pay for work.  I know this is a grey area in parenting with lots of opinions, that’s just where we’ve settled over the years.)  Then I measured out the appropriate number of rows and six columns (one for chores and one for each kid) on the fridge with washi tape.  (I will say the washi tape had a hard time sticking to the fridge.  I’m not sure it would have made it through the hot, humid summer had it been left up.)

I purchased generic scrabble tiles from Michael’s and dyed them one of three different colors.  The colors corresponded to the value or pay of the job.  Purple = no pay, you do it because you live here; Red = small pay, daily job; Green = more pay, weekly or rarer job.  The tiles were then placed under a name and next to a job at the beginning of each week and the girls were supposed to be responsible to check the chart and do their work.  More tiles were dyed the same colors.  When a job was completed, they were to drop a corresponding color tile in the box below their name.  Tiles were counted at the end of the week to determine payment.

Perhaps the system was too elaborate or it was just the season of life, but like I said, it just didn’t take at our house.  It was fun to make, though!  🙂

Learning from that experience and now that we’ve moved, we are taking a different approach to chores, one I’m pretty excited about and that seems to work in our “wired” and list-oriented family.  It started when we were in the process of moving.  Matt would email out a schedule for the week to me and a job list to the older girls each day, copying me on the email.  I noticed quickly that the girls did really well with this, so I started trying it too.  I’m still a pen-and-paper person when it comes to to do lists, so sometimes they get emailed and printed, sometimes they are handwritten, but they always get posted on the fridge for everyone to see.  The daily note includes jobs for the day, as well as a loose schedule.

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While it does take some time to make up a schedule / job list every day, I made out a running schedule that I keep with my weekly to do list and I just refer to that and add in any specific details.  We also changed how the girls get paid.  The older three have each been given a fairly substantial job that is their on-going responsibility.  (One mows the lawn, one is the pool girl, one is the “gardener”.)  The younger two will be given similar, but smaller, tasks in the garage and basement once we get those areas cleaned out and unpacked.  They will each be paid fairly for these larger responsibilities but no longer will they be paid individually for the smaller indoor work of regular cleaning and chores.  Since winter will come and some of the outdoor work will end (unless we get a lot of snow again), we’ll have to think of some other jobs for them to do during the off season so we don’t hear about how broke they are.  😉

As for the indoor work (helping around the house, making beds, doing laundry, keeping things generally picked up so I don’t go insane, etc.), our kids need incentives.  I wish they didn’t, but they do.  For a long time it was the small pay for small jobs.  But the older girls are earning more money now and a quarter really just doesn’t motivate them much and I can’t afford a dollar a day x five just to get beds made.  So, taking a cue from Cleaning House (please read this book if you have kids of any age still at home – so good!), we are starting each month with a jar full of ones.  The author of the book did a jar for each child but that’s just not in the budget,  so we’re doing one jar for the whole family, but with a little more money in it.  If jobs that can (and should) be completed before lunch are, the money stays for the day.  If they are not, I pull out a dollar.  So, yes, one child can ruin it for everyone, but that’s the way it tends to go in large families.  Money that is left at the end of the month will be used to plan a family night since frequent eating out was one thing that got nixed when we decided to move.   The main indoor job right now is helping in the kitchen.  This used to be a me plus one person job and I realized that it really needs to be me plus two kids, so I made a rotation pairing the girls up (an older with a younger every day) and those two are responsible for dishes, cleaning up the kitchen after meals, and helping with meal prep each day.  The other big job is taking care of the dog which has been moved to a weekly rotation and that child has to feed and water her, clean up after her (outside messes, as well as vacuuming the carpet where she tracks in dirt), and make sure she’s kenneled when we leave and her door is locked at night for the entire week.  Things like cleaning and other jobs are just “as needed” right now and aren’t really on a rotation yet. I’m sure one will come into being as we get more settled in the coming weeks and months.

This turned into a rather long and winding post.  I guess that happens on one cup of coffee and not a lot of sleep.  This is what’s working for us right now.  What chore systems work for your family?

For His Glory ~

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Taking Wing

On a Monday evening when many things are going well but several seem to be coming apart at the seams, it is fitting to stop and count the gifts.  We don’t know what tomorrow holds but we know who holds us together.  And tonight I lean into Him, trusting that He’s led us here and will lead us on and meet our every need.  For He is a God in the details and all He does is good, even when it feels hard and makes our heads spin.

There is a fable about the way birds first got their wings.  The story goes that initially they were made without them.  Then God made the wings, set them down before the wingless birds, and said to them, “Take up these burdens and carry them.”

The birds had sweet voices for singing, and lovely feathers that glistened in the sunshine, but they could not soar in the air.  When asked to pick up the burdens that lay at their feet, they hesitated at first.  Yet soon they obeyed, picked up the wings with their beaks, and set them on their shoulders to carry them.

For a short time the load seemed heavy and difficult to bear, but soon, as they continued to carry the burden and to fold the wings over their hearts, the wings grew attached to their little bodies.  They quickly discovered how to use them and were lifted by the wings high into the air.  The weights had become wings.  {from Streams in the Desert}

So we pick it up, whatever it is, and carry it with us.  And we trust that our burdens will become blessings and our weights will become wings.





2636.  the rock solid promises of God’s word

2637.  my sweet Chandler who is ten; the gift she is

2638.  the weekend and fellowship with friends

2639.  America’s freedom

2640.  weeks that seem long

2641.  a Social Security number on its way!

2642.  a long Friday afternoon

2643.  rest for everyone

2644.  beds for little girls

2645.  God in the details

2646.  four day weekends

2647.  wings

May you find wings this week, friends.

For His Glory ~

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A Decade

Three years ago, I wrote the post below.  It still so accurately describes our Chandler, only now she is ten and beginning fifth grade soon and maturing so fast.  I’m so blessed to see the beautiful young woman she is growing into and so privileged to be her mama.

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Seven years ago, she entered this world.  Not early like I had prayed.  Not late – Praise the Lord!  But right.on.time.  On her due date.  On her great-grandmother’s birthday.  Flesh brought forth flesh and my heart was stolen once again.

The nine months of preparation had stretched body and soul.  Youngest child’s older sister was 18 and one half months.  Her oldest sister was 2 years and 46 weeks.  That’s three children in less than three years.  This body was tired.  Only 25 myself, I was not ready to be a mama again and God and I wrestled daily and hard through those forty weeks awaiting her arrival.

The lessons learned can hardly be articulated, put into words.  Only that it was that third pregnancy, this third child that has brought me low, given me a new, deeper dependence on God.  He has taught me my limits and taught me to respect them.  And when she came forth, a love so deep welled up within my soul, and I knew I could never imagine life without her and that God had a purpose and a plan.  And she was perfect.

She used to rise in the middle of the night, sneak down to the kitchen, climb up on the counter tops and steal granola bars off the top of the refrigerator.  She cuts things that aren’t meant to be cut, writes on things that aren’t made to be written on.  She used to eat lotions and oils like they were candy – and not even the good tasting ones!  She has caused me to question everything I thought I knew about parenting.  She’s been lost on the beach in San Diego and she said she was going to run away in Ohio.  She loves everyone she meets and makes friends easily.  She has an easy laugh, a tender heart, and an amazing smile.  She has rocked our world and we will never be the same.  And I’m so thankful.

This weekend she is seven.  She is no longer baby, toddler, preschooler.   She is one of the “bigger girls”.  Second grade begins all too soon.  Today I give thanks for her.  For the countless things God has taught me through her and the things He has yet to teach me.  I give thanks for her life and the way she lives it – unrestrained and full of passion.  I give thanks for the privilege of being her mother.  And I give thanks for the daily blessings the Lord bestows….

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For His Glory ~

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