Thursday, December 24, 2009

15 Year Old Shoes

Sometime I forget the shoes I used to wear. The awkward ones that didn't quite fit. The laces always seemed to come untied. No matter what the occasion was, they were never quite right for it. The 15 year old shoes are tough to fit in to. Watching my daughter struggle to fit brings back memories of my confusing youth. I see in her the defiant toddler, the confused child and the budding adult all vying for first spot. She's brilliant, lost, insecure, confident, charming and slightly rebellious all at the same time. I remember feeling alone even when surrounded by friends. I remember thinking I wasn't smart and at the same time thinking my mom knew nothing about anything. I remember felling like I had it all together and like life and understanding were slipping through my fingers like sand. Now that I see those "shoes" again, being worn by my daughter, I find I am participating, ever so slightly, in that roller coaster of emotions. My roller coaster isn't quite so steep and twisty as I try to determine how to help her, when to be quiet, when to allow alone time and when to require she participate with the rest of the family and the world. It's hard to know when I should help her tie her shoes because she's so exhausted she can't pull the knots tight, or when to let her try again and again to build up her strength and skill. In the moments of rebellion I want to shut down the ride all together and toss those blasted shoes out the window and bring out the toddler shoes and force them on. I miss those days when she called me Honey instead of mom. When she cried because she didn't want to be 100 years old because she'd die:) When she used to eat the little green worms that dropped down from the oak tree or squish lady bugs (who squishes ladybugs?!) But I know the 15 year old shoes must be worn and will someday wear out and be exchanged for adult shoes. Then perhaps we can walk together and grow together until one day we exchange those shoes for wings.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Taking small children to church is like...

I LOVE the idea of taking my children in to church with me. We spent years sending them to programs and having them come away with church bucks but no idea what was taught. Even when I taught the program they still only knew how many church bucks they'd gotten and what they were saving for, but not about the saving grace of our Saviour. When we decided to start bringing them into church we found they listened more because there wasn't as much zing and bling, just teaching. Those moments when you catch them staring in wonder as they listen to the sermon, or close their little eyes because they're so moved by the music...those moments are golden. Then there are the other moments.

I took my 7 and 5 year olds to church this evening (I usually have all 6 with me!). Taking small children is like trying to organize a circus run by individuals suffering from epilepsy and tourettes! Not to be unkind in any way to those truly suffering with those disorders, but those I have known with those disorders were much less jittery than my guys! They always need to ask questions in that lovely stage whisper right as the priest begins to pray. "Are we almost to the bread part?"...everyone heard that! They stand up and sit down and suddenly start making airplane noises right when the decon says "let us pray to the Lord", "ZOOOOOM!" (the response is supposed to be Lord Have Mercy, by the way). You give them something quiet to keep their little hands busy, but in church even cotton makes a loud noise right at the wrong moment. Heaven forbid if anyone moves in their seat and makes a sound that remotely resembles passing gas! Then we've lost them for sure.

I sit there thinking...I hope God understands my prayers when I'm only able to say a few words between shushing and redirecting my children. I hope God knows my heart when I'm trying to be present in worship and keep the five year old from singing louder than the choir...

Sometimess I think I'll forget the real words to prayers like the Nicene Creed because mine goes more like this: I believe in one God...Micah, you don't need to know if it's bread time yet, just listen... And of all things visible and...Donavan, stand up for this part...And in one Lord Jesus Chr...Micah, hands down, it's not time to be an airplane right now...Light of Light...Yes, Donavan, the decon turned the lights on, they have a switch in the altar area...Who for us men and for our Salvation...

At this point I look up to heaven with my eyes crossed and ask for help, take a deep breath and look at my sons "experiencing" church. They have to wiggle and move and twist. I think it may be impossible for them to absorb half as much as they do without the movement and some subtle (and not so subtle) sound effects.

I don't know where I'm going with all of this. I guess it's just the realization that it's much cuter when it's somebody else's child saying "I have to go poop" during the little entrance. My children are helping me work out my salvation with fear and trembling. They are going to teach me, whether I think I'm ready to learn or not, that it is not all about me and that God meets us wherever we are, through whatever noise is around us, in the most unusual ways. In all my quest for those peaceful moments to reflect I still haven't found out how to have the faith that young children can have with noise and chaos all around them. May I dare to embrace the noise, the distraction, the jerky movements my young ones just must make...may I embrace them and learn to come to Christ as they do.

Monday, November 30, 2009

First Generation Christians

I've heard it said "every Christian is a first generation Christian". I think that statement is both true and false. From the very beginning it has been by the words of others that we have received the Word. It is through the faithfulness of others that we have been recipients of faith. The statement suggests that each person is their own island and no outside influence is necessary to find Christ. Even a hermit in the deepest darkest jungle with no human contact is still influenced by outside sources when contemplating God. The mountains declare His glory. All of creation points to the One true God.

Our faith is both individual and corporate. We are the Church, all together and individually. We all make up parts of the body of Christ, yet each part is recognized and will be judged based on how it functioned with and apart from the body. When we look at the priesthood we are looking at something like links in a chain. The links are not strewn here and there, they are all connected. It is true that each link has to be attached one at a time, but by adding them to the ones that were "linked" before the chain becomes stronger and stronger. It is that way within a family as well. I am a third generation Christian. I accepted the teaching of my family which led me to finally "attach" myself to that chain. It was passed down to to me...spoken to me...entrusted to me. It is true that I had the choice to accept it or not, but that doesn't lessen the influence and strength of the chains built by the generations that came before all the way back to those who first said "YES" to Christ. And now it is my responsibility and privilege to pass this heritage on to my children and they to their children. May the Chain continue to lengthen until the return of our Lord!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shower to the People

I remember a time when bathing was just a part of life. You wake up, start the kettle for tea, mosey back to the bathroom, shower, deodorize, dress...done! Then came baby #1. Not too hard. Just incorporated her into the routine with maybe nursing between get up and the kettle. Then baby #2. The routine had to be switched up just a little. I'd wait for daddy to get home from work then read in the own little sanctuary. The same followed with baby #3. Then we added #4. I figured I could still be considered clean every other day. My head looked like a brillo pad, but that's what head coverings (or Do Rags as my husband so kindly calls them) are for:) We fluctuated between 4 and 6 children (foster) for three years and then settled (for now) on six. I don't know what happened, but transitioning from 4 to 6 made showering a difficult endeavor. It alludes me for some reason. I know it's there. I hear other people taking showers. The water bill indicates water is being used for more than drinking. It's almost like being on a desert island cawling down the hall grasping my nose croaking out "shower....shower". But somehow I always get intercepted by someone or some responsibility before I actually make it to the shower. And with the adult onset ADHD (ooooh look, something shiny!) Then by get the picture. I have found I can successfully go up to 3 days in the summer and up to...dare I say...5 during the cooler months. I just pretend I'm Ma on Little House on the Prairie. She always looked nice, but they only took a weekly bath unless it was a special occasion, which you knew it was if Pa went to the creek to bathe in his longjons and put on lemon verbena after. I'm trying to be...historical:)

So if you come to my home, I hope you come for the hospitality. And the headcovering...not so much for piety as for practicality, except while in church:)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Prodigal Mouse

It all began two winter storms ago when I had all 6 children sick with h1n1 or John 3:16 or something like that. The wind howled outside while fevers raged inside. And downstairs when no one was around two mischievous cats sneaked into a bedroom to secretly devour two little mice. Hiding in the cage were Dawn the White and Dusk. If it weren't for a request from Dear Mama for daughter #1 to go downstairs to fetch her poor brother a bone...ahem...his water bottle we never would have known what had happened and both Dawn and Dusk would have been lost to us.

Well...when daughter #1 went downstairs she walked into a room of terror...the boys room! Underwear and socks were everywhere and from beneath one pile came a scream...a mouse's scream Quickly lifting the crusty sock from the heap she beheld Dawn the White (no relation to Gandalf). She brought a slightly injured and shaken mouse upstairs to her owner, but Dusk could not be found. We feared the worst. Dawn the White recovered quite well, and to our surprise became a mother the very next morning. This was a miracle since both mice were female!

A week later Daughter #2 realized there was a little black mouse living in her heater. Could it be? It was Dusk! But she wouldn't come. She was only concerned about taking her inheritance of sunflower seeds left over from the cat attack. She ran from the hands that had lovingly fed her and held her. The hands that had so gently placed her running wheel in her cage for hours and hours AND the wee hours...of pleasure.

Finally, yesterday after the Queen Mother (that's me:) returned from picking up the royal children from classes in her 15 passenger "chariot" she saw the black cat with a stick. NO! It was a TAIL!!! It was Dusk!!! Dusk trying to return. A repentant Dusk (especially after we rescued her). She knew she was not worthy to ask daughter #3 (who was bequeathed Dawn the White after the fiasco during the snow storm) to be her pet, but perhaps she'd be allowed to serve the little mice growing in the cage. Daughter #3 came running when she heard the Prodigal Mouse had been found. She brought her food and water in silver bowls (well...stainless steel is silver!) and gave her her own box of shavings to rest her weary bones in. The other mice looked on. They'd only been able to eat out of a glass bowl. If they had only asked...I mean...well...Dusk is home again and that's what matters (though she probably would still be a Prodigal Mouse if not for that darn cat!).

The End

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Mommy Sized Tantrum

Did you know that mom's can still throw tantrums? They're not just little glitches that happen in the minds and attitudes of children. Of course, mom's make their justifications sound much more sophisticated...maybe even "spiritual". And I can justify my tantrums away because I'm just "discussing" things with my husband that he "needs" to hear. I'm a heavenly messenger, if you will. But I throw my tantrums for the exact same reasons my young ones throw theirs. I WANT MY WAY! I MAY BE WRONG BUT I'M MORE RIGHT THAN YOU! IT'S ALL ABOUT ME!!! ME! ME! ME! And then we expect our children to simply obey because we say so:) We are adults in the world, but we are still but children in God's family.

Oh, may the Lord's mercy fall on this mama. Our children need to see us working out our salvation with fear and trembling. To see us fall and seek the Lord for our resurrection. Then, perhaps, inch by inch we'll gain ground, by the grace of God, on our long journey heavenwards. Perhaps our humility will bring our children to rely on the Lord and His strength and surrender their wills to Him.

"He that wrestles is still held fast, but it is enough for him that he has not fallen. When we depart hence, then, and not till then, will the glorious victory be achieved. For instance, take the case of some evil lust. The extraordinary thing would be, not even to entertain it, but to stifle it. If, however, this be not possible, then though we may have to wrestle with it, and retain it to the last, yet if we depart still wrestling, we are conquerors." St. John Chrysostom

Blessed be the Name of the Lord

Friday, November 6, 2009

Attack of the Killer Scones!

Okay, so they aren't really killer. Not even sure how they taste. But we here at Boyd Family Testing Facilities care about our readers and try out random experiments so you don't have to.
Experiment #1 Making scones with cake flour...DON"T DO IT!!! Cake flour really is JUST for cakes. It won't make scones but little flat muffins. The dough sticks to your fingers, clothing, the bread board and anything else unfortunate enough to come in contact with it.

So there you have it. Cake flour ONLY for cake!

All or Nothing

"I pressed the wrong button on the computer so I can never play Jump Start again!" came the voice of my five year old son. My sons, 8,7,5 are in the All or Nothing developmental stage. It is similar to early toddlerhood where if they touched a toy early in the morning and then left to go do something else the toy still belongs to them. Then, other siblings should be able to sniff the air and understand the rules, much like dogs sniffing the air for news.

I've noticed in my boys things I never noticed with my girls. My sons, when asked to complete a task, suffer from an uncontrollable compulsion to immediately take a detour. "Okay, time to go. Head to the van." I call at the park. This direction is translated to "You must immediately go climb the nearest tree." Or "Go make your beds, guys." they hear, "You must catch two cat's before eating chocolate on Wednesday."

The rhyme is right. "Slugs and snails and puppy dog tails" because that's what's in their pockets, on their clothes, in their thoughts all the time. But slugs are interesting. And puppy dog tails are simply adorable as long as they remain attached to the dog! Boys definatly bring adventure to the home. Tieing oneself to a tree with a bathrobe sash and propelling backwards off the branch...making wings out of cardborad boxes and standing on the stone BBQ in the backyard during a wind storm...peeing in the toybox outside making the world wonder "what IS that smell and where is it coming from?" for a month. Boys don't understand the purpose of clothing. They think their bowels are a built in science experiment. Boys don't ever think they'll get hurt, no they'll keep going backwards over the arm of the couch until they can figure out a way to do it without hurting themselves. Boys will tell you "you're beautiful mommy" when you're healthy and avoid you like the plague when you're sick. But boys give great hugs. They mean what they say with all their hearts. They solve problems, perhaps a little more physically than we'd like, but when the battle is over they leave friends. They work hard, even thought they usually destroy what they're working on. They may be the cause of my heart palpatations and grey hair. They are loud, oblivious, head strong warriors.... and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Six Sick Kids

Is it the title of a new Dr. Seuss book.

1 kid - 2 kids
sick kid - flu kid

No, it is the story of my day. All six of my children are in somewhere in the flu maze. Some very sick, some recovering. Some take illness well and become quieter and more thoughtful. Some have to be...well...quarantined to another part of the house for the good of all :) I'm tending their sickness with home remedies. The cats are playing. The chickens are gathered under the heat lamp in the barn (it's cccooolllddd outside!). There's just something so nice about caring for the needs of my family with what I'm able to produce myself. The chicken soup, the elderberry syrup, cough tincture, all made here with my own hands. I am also thankful that we live in a time where other alternatives are available if the need arises and that I don't have to watch my little ones perish from easily remedied complications.

Praise be to our Lord the Great Physician!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Proverbs 31 Woman - The Next Generation

Most of us mothers grew up with "forward thinking" mom's. You know, the burn your bra type. The "question everything" type. Before the rebellion of the 60's there was a known moral IQ which, at least on the surface of things, was followed by the majority of America. Our mothers generation was the first to completely and blatantly disregard the instruction of the previous generation. They wanted to raise their children differently, and they did. They raised their children with a sense of entitlement the previous generation hadn't known. They raised their daughters to view motherhood as something you settled for not something your hoped to attain. They taught us submission was a nasty word and to be avoided at all costs. The picture most people have when they think of a submissive wife is a dejected woman unable to think for herself. They picture a door mat, a woman with little or no self worth and perhaps even a punching bag for a legalistic abusive husband. Even in the Christian world I think the Proverbs 31 woman is portrayed with a little less backbone than she actually has. As I walk this path of submission to my husband and embrace my role as his help meet I am viewing the Biblical model in a new way.

Proverbs 31:13-28 talks about all the deeds she does. This woman is wise and industrious and strong. She isn't wimpering at the door waiting for her husband to come home and tell her how to think. She sucks it up and pushes forward. She is the "sub-contractor" in her home and builds it up by honoring her husband. Now there is a difference between building up ones home; going forward in confidence with the duties that need to be accomplished and disregarding the leadership of ones husband, however that leadership may manifest itself.

In one of my wonderful Character Sketches books the animal chosen to represent the character trait of meekness is a horse. When I think of a horse I don't think of a weak animal. I think of the strong muscles in the legs and back and the stamina. We are supposed to be "discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed" according to Titus 2. Our strength should be reigned in to the obedience of Christ as a blessing and gift to our husbands. We should be spirit, that is. A quiet spirit does not mean a bland personality. We are the next generation of mothers. though we may be walking blindly due to a severe shortage of mentors. Let us be strong godly women ready for the work the Lord has for us in our homes, with and for our husbands and children. Let us roll up our sleeves and strengthen our arms through good works, faith and perseverance. Let us help build up the Kingdom without being sorry for our strength. Let us embrace that quiet spirit with joy. Let us embrace our position as nurturer and lover and teacher. Embracing our role with joy is not a sign of takes great strength.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Playing Tag in the Kitchen

Some days it's so hard to get up especially when you know a little one, or not so little one, is going to disagree, complain, disobey, pout, stomp...the list goes on. From the time he could speak my youngest has always started the day asking what he can eat. No "good morning mama." No "thank you for investing your time and life into mine." HA! It can certainly feel like running the race for our salvation in quick sand.

This morning my eldest was walking through the hallway as we were preparing to head out. As I passed her I bumped her shoulder and said "you're it" quietly. She then went and tagged her younger sister and the games began. There was squealing and running, yelling "no tag backs" and overall chaos in the kitchen as we all made laps around the island then into the living room trying to avoid whoever was "it". That 5 minutes of morning set a wonderful tone for the day. We sang all the way to our destination finishing with the Beach Boys blaring in Mom's Hot Rod. Those few seconds were dedicated to joy and laughter and closeness. A shared moment. A memory.

When I spend time with my Lord I tend to be like my youngest child asking Him what I get. Sometimes I'm sulking down the hall uncomfortable in my own skin like my 15 year old. But sometimes I really hear the words I'm praying. Sometimes I let Him set the tone for the day. Sometimes I let Him create a memory in my heart and share His moment with Him. All of our moments with the Lord are not this way however, but these moments help us during the dark times, the disconnected times, the times of despair. These moments are the torches in the darkness that help us along the path to His glory.

For our families, the Kitchen moments are the ones that anchor us to our foundation so we can grow and learn and succeed...and fail...without becoming utterly lost in this world. The complaining will continue, the bickering, the stomping...but our hearts are changed just a little each time a memory is shared and we feel secure and can walk forward with a little more confidence. May God grant us strength as we run this race. If we are indeed running in quick sand...well...we'll have great quads by the time we're done.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The 15 Passenger Van Goes on Vacation

Oh, the wonderful dream of driving cross country with my children. The wonderful homeschooling opportunities would abound. Historical landmarks, singing educational songs, listening to audio books for further enrichment...right:) How about the counting opportunities for the little ones "how many times has Junior said are we there yet?" Or word problems for the older ones "if passenger A drinks a 16 ounce soda in Utah how many times will we need to stop to use the bathroom by the time we cross the Nevada state line?" It could be discouraging when you realize your youngest didn't bring shoes or your 12 year old, who should know better by now, only brought two pairs of underwear for a two week journey. This wasn't what we had planned. This wasn't the picture perfect life sharing experience I'd imagined.

Our Christian walk is much the same. We make plans and have the greatest ideas. We can picture in our minds eye what our perfect family should look like and are often disappointed at the lack of progression we see in our children, our husbands, ourselves. We've read all the parenting books, started all the new miracle chore programs and poured through all the home school catalogs. Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." We often forget that the plans we should have are His plans. We will always fall short if we are expecting Him to sign off on our agenda. Let me tell you, it's terrifying to truly trust in the Lord for your family and the direction He has for it. Some things may not seem to make sense or perhaps they won't fit at all within the planning parameters you've designed so carefully for your home and family.

It reminds me of the ropes course I did as a teenager. At the end of the course was a ledge high up in a tree. The rope I was attached to seemed much too thin and the harness seemed much too flimsy. Then I looked down and the ground seemed much further away and much harder than I remembered it being earlier in the course. As I looked up, suspended in mid air was a bar that I was told I was supposed jump to from the little ledge. A weakling of a boy was standing on the ground with his floss sized rope telling me to jump, he'll lower me down easy. At that moment I had two thoughts "There's no other way down from here" and "I didn't think I'd die this way". But after a few minutes I finally realized my only option was to jump. I had to trust my life to the one holding the rope. So I jumped with arms outstretched and, to my amazement, clasped the bar in front of me! God wants us to jump. He is not only the one belaying, He made the rope and the tree and the ledge. He knows exactly how far the bar needs to be for us to be able to grab it. His plan truly is for our good and not our harm.

So our van trip was not super educational. So what if at times I wished the van came with a sound proof window feature like they have in limousines. So what if I wondered if there were any monasteries along the way that would take children 5-15. I had the wonderful, and at times sobering, opportunity to have a glimpse into the hearts of my children. I was given a little peek into their strengths and weaknesses, their dreams and fears. I gained insight from wonderful friends and looked a little further into my strengths and weaknesses; my dreams and fears. We may not know or understand the ways of the Lord, but they are good. His is a Great Adventure!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Don't say "just" when it comes to children

Being a mother of a few more than the national average, I'm often surprised at the response I get from the "one and done" or "two and through" crowd. I'm not so surprised when they say "oh I could never do what you do! I have enough trouble with the two I have." But I am surprised when they timidly reveal how many children they have by saying, "I just have one" or "I just have two." There is never a "just" when it comes to children. Whether you have one or 69 (world record) you have a high calling as a wife and mother. You are responsible for training and directing a little soul for Christ. Having children is not a race to see how many "warriors" we can pop out for Christ, but to receive with gladness whom He chooses to give us and prepare them to be in this world but not of it. The mother of John the Baptist had no less of a calling and responsibility than the mother of Samuel or Judah. We are running a race as Christians and we are told to run with perseverance the race set before us. We may be running the race with strollers or ergos. We may be making hard choices in our parenting and running with a reluctant child slowing the pace, but we keep moving forward toward the goal. Some of our children will be our running mates, others will stand at the starting line for a long time before daring to truly enter the race. "He who wrestles is still held fast, but it is enough for him that he has not fallen. When we depart hence, then, and not til then, will the glorieous victory be achieved. For instnace, take the case of some evil lust (or other passion). The extraordinary thing would be not event o entertain it, but to stifle it. If, however, this be not possible, then though we ma have to wrestle with it and retain it to the last, yet if we depart still wrestling we are conquerors." ~St. John Chrysostom. So whether you have one or many, run with perseverence for your salvation and to lead whomever Christ has placed in your care to a living relationship with Him.

May Christs peace reign in your heart and home

Friday, October 2, 2009

A mom by any other name...

There are many endearing names children call their mothers. I was called "Honey" by my eldest until she was 5 because that's what daddy called me. My second one called me "Money" for a while because she couldn't decide whether she wanted to call me Honey or Mommy. When our two forever boys came the older called me mom and the younger wanted to call me Isabella, even though my name is Annalisa. He chose Super Mom for a while and has finally settled on Mommy or Mom. Occasionally I get the Mama or "Hey!" But they're all sweet words. Now keep in mind this is what I'm called in my own house. When I go out with all of my children I am called other names. Most popular is The Old Woman in the Shoe. I know other Mama's of many who have been ridiculed for their large brood with people even going so far as to place birth control pills on their front porch. Does it bother me? Not really. Maybe the "old" part:) I think I'm in good company. I think of Abraham and Sarah... The Old Woman in the Tent. Then there's Zechariah and Elizabeth...The Old Woman in the Temple. And finally Mary the mother of our Lord...the Young Woman and the Scandal. But with all of the challenges that came with these miraculous births blessings abounded even to the Salvation of our souls!

So here is a new version of the rhyme.
There was a sweet mama who lived in a shoe
She was blessed with many children and knew just what to do
She taught them of Jesus and made them warm bread
Then kissed them all gently and sang them to bed

May you be blessed!

The 15 Passenger Van...Mom's Hot Rod

I'm writing this only because my sweet mama suggested I share musings about having a large, everchanging, CRAZY homeschooling family. I'll start with an introduction.

I am an Orthodox Christian, professional volunteer wife, mother to 6 children (bio and adopted) and foster children (17 to date), self proclaimed doula, accidental midwife, closet herbalist, budding homesteader, author, bread baker, toffee maker and connoisseur of fine tea. We live in a brick house on1 acre with 16 chickens, 2 mice (store bought...many more sharing the property though), 2 cats and a ferret. We have homeschooled our children from the beginning and have yet to figure out a way to fit into that picture perfect homeschool mold. But...we're us:)