22 July 2011


Full Enough

Happy Five Minute Friday!  Five minutes of pure, unedited, writing for writing's sake without worrying if it's just right.  Topic's courtesy of Gypsy Mama

Today's topic?  



As I write this, I am waiting for my very best friend in all the world to arrive with her family.  We have both lived all over the world, and we have been blessed this past year to live within a day's drive of each other.  But today is different.  Today marks the beginning of our last time together.  For a long time, anyway.  They are preparing to move to California.

I knew this day was coming.  And we are going on vacation for a week together, so I am trying with all my might to not think about the goodbye part, and about how much that is going to suck.

I'm trying to fill up with nothing more than the joy of my family and her family together.  Of our kids spending endless hours running around, chasing each other, getting into trouble together.

Trying to be full, but knowing the emptiness will come.  

The emptiness comes, but we still have to fill ourselves, even though it won't last forever.

We must take the moments that fill us up.  Use them to make it through until the next time.

It's the same when my husband has to travel for work.  This summer, he's been gone during the week and home on the weekend.  And every Friday when he comes home I'm tempted to think about the time he'll be gone again, about the emptiness I'll feel.

But I push it down, willing myself to allowed to be filled with love.  With friendship.  With togetherness.  Because it's the filling that keeps me going through the emptiness.

It's worth it.  Oh yes, every single time.  Worth the goodbye at the end, [for the moments of fullness in between].


How do you fill up?  What keeps you full?  Where does the fullness come from?

Be sure to click over to Gypsy Mama to read Lisa Jo's painful and beautiful writing about being full, and visit some of the other links as well.  There are 74 (!) entries before mine, and I'm sure more will follow me.  

19 July 2011

And She's Off

Last week, my youngest decided she didn't like diapers.  She is 2 years and 6 weeks old, and I wasn't planning on potty training her.  At least not until August, when my grandmother could help while she was visiting (bet you hadn't planned on that, huh Mugga?).

But she wouldn't leave the diaper on.

Or pants of any kind, for that matter.

After brief careful consideration, I reasoned the following:

1.  It was raining for an entire week, so we weren't going anywhere.
2.  My husband was out of town, so we weren't going anywhere (this isn't exactly true, as I go places all the time sans husband, but for additional information, please refer to #1).
3.  If K decided it was time, then it was time.

And so, I went with it.  I got out the following things, in no particular order:

1.  Google  (see this article on 3 day potty training)
2.  25 potty chairs
3.  18 towels
4.  My groove (for the potty dance, of course)

We rolled up the rugs, and away we went.  I followed her around, per my instructions, and whisked her to one of our 38 potty chairs as soon as she said, pointed, grabbed, or started to go.  If anything got into the potty, we did the customized K potty song and dance.  

I say we because I roped the 6 and 8 year old into it, too.  I bribed them with loads of *ahem* craft projects.

You know what?  Little Miss K was really, truly ready.  Not in my plans, but can I just say that the rain God sent to cancel all of our plans was extremely serendipitous, and now 


I highly recommend the 3 day potty training method if you are willing and able to make an intense commitment for a few days.  We weren't perfect in our methodology for all 3 days, but she really got it by day 1, so we didn't have to be.  It also helped that she wanted to, because I have always felt like if potty training is not initiated by the child, then you are really just training yourself.

And training yourself is exhausting.

She has been diaper free for 1 week, and we are all loving it.  Makes me kind of wish I had tried this method with at least one other child, but hey, live and learn.

15 July 2011



Welcome to another Five Minute Friday, courtesy of Gypsy Mama.  Five minutes of pure, unedited writing.  

This week Lisa Jo, the Gypsy Mama, created a beautiful post that admittedly took longer than five minutes.  But the beauty of the writing was well worth it.

Today's topic?  Loss.


Most of us can look back on our lives during a time of loss.  When I think of the intimate losses in my life, I choke on the memory, on the realization that I lost part of myself.  But I cannot put it into words, here.  I cannot lay open my soul that much, in that way.

My children only know loss in terms of a game, or a small pet beetle or fish.  I want to always keep it that way.

But I know that with my loss, the death of part of me, I grew another part that wouldn't be here if not for that moment.  Those moments.  No, not replacements for the holes left gaping open, bleeding to death in the gloom of hopelessness.  Something.  Different.  Harder.  Maybe more protective.  But wiser, for sure.

So, reluctantly, I wait for the day when my boys and my sweet daughter will have to stand and face Loss without an umbrella.  Raw.  Crappy death of a part of them loss.  They too will never forget those moments.  Hopefully, prayerfully, they will someday return to them, to those raw edges, and see the blurriness around the outside of something stronger.  Shaping them.  Molding them.  Foraged by a God greater than the temporary [fear and sorrow].


*words in brackets added after time ran out.*

What kind of thoughts poured into your head when you saw the word Loss?  What sorrow are you keeping hidden, wrapped tightly in your heart, away from prying eyes?

What do others have to say?  Be sure to click on over to Gypsy Mama to find out.  I'm #70, so there are plenty of others willing to share on this difficult topic.

14 July 2011



"SERENITY NOW!!!" screamed George Castanza's father in one memorable episode of Seinfeld.  

If only it were that easy.

As desirable as it sounds, serenity still comes and goes.  It is elusive.  It fades with time.  It gets choked with schedules and priorities and emergencies.

It's what I think I want.  It's what I get caught up looking for, even as I am yelling for no apparent reason.

But what do I know I need?  What will never leave me?  What will be given to me, if only I ask?


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

Other-worldly, eternal, soul-changing peace.

Serenity, maybe.  Peace, definitely.

13 July 2011


Out of the Zone, Into the Box

On a rainy Wednesday, with a girl *potty training*(more on that later), I made an executive decision that we weren't leaving the house.  Even after our birthday jubilee-sized allotment of TV and Wii, we still had many hours in the day to fill.

Enter junk art.

I am NOT an artsy-craftsy kind of person, but, like most kids, all three of mine enjoy making things.  My oldest has a good book entitled 365 Things To Do With Paper and Cardboard, because, yeah, I need that kind of help.  I see cardboard and paper as recyclables, meant for the bin rather than the craft supply box.  Crazy, since I work with children for a living, and I often do art projects to focus on fine motor skills.  But in mommy mode, I never think about these kind of things.

boy #1 finished product
boy #2 finished product
But on this particular day, I realized we would never get through the remaining hours without focus.  My kids are very creative, but they still sometimes need direction to get them going.  So out went my preferences (read:  my utter distaste for craft projects), and in came the


My oldest chose which project we were going to make, and away we went.

The whole thing was wonderful.  The boys were the designers, and I did nothing more than a little grunt work when they couldn't cut the shapes just so.  I watched as their personalities influenced their designs, color choices, and methods.

So, ok, we made a craft, and I survived.  It worked for me, and we might even do it again someday.

11 July 2011


My Favorite Things 
More Birthday Jubilee

We are celebrating yet another birthday in our house.  On Friday, my oldest will be 8 (!) years old.  We tend to celebrate the whole week with little fun things each day.

For instance, this birthday jubilee week has so far entailed

  • special cereal (he got to choose ANY cereal, and he doesn't have to share).  Special thanks to Auntie Suzy and Uncle Eddie for that idea.
  • pannenkoeken (yes, that is pancake in English) restaurant where he got to eat pancakes and powdered sugar for lunch and play on the restaurant's playground all afternoon
  • geocaching on the bicycle (see here for more info)
  • a backyard campfire, complete with roasted apples
  • an early birthday present from grandma and grandpa.
These little toys are awesome.  They are do-it-yourself circuits made for kids.  The instructions are basic enough that my almost 8 year old and 6 year old put them together by themselves.  So far, we've made 3:  one that shoots a propellar into the air, one that rings a bell, and one with an air blower and ball so it looks like the ball is floating.  And daddy has been teaching them the open ended possibilities of hooking them all together to make one big circuit, or switching the wires around to achieve different results.

I don't know where ours came from, but I found one on Amazon.  They are called Connex-Amazing.

I have also heard good things about a similar toy called snap circuits.  We have given them as gifts but don't have any ourselves.  

Anyway, I enjoyed watching my boys start to grasp the concept of electricity, but I am not enjoying how fast they are growing up.  I keep telling them to stop, but they just keeping getting bigger and smarter anyway.  They never listen.

08 July 2011


State of Mind

Another week, another Five Minute Friday.  Five Minutes of pure, unedited writing, with a topic courtesy of Gypsy Mama.  This week's topic?


My husband was called away on a last minute business trip this week, with a promise to return Friday night.  But something about the whole thing left me skeptical, and I wasn't surprised when he called last night to tell me he would be delayed by a day.  It was easy to feel down about it, especially because we had special family plans this weekend.

But then I saw the topic this week:  grateful.  And I was struck by how much grateful is a state of mind.  I was feeling particularly ungrateful at the time, because of the current situation of no husband.  But you know what?  It could be oh so much worse.  He could not be coming home  for a long while.  I could be a single parent all the time.  I could hate it here.  But none of those things are true.

So, on this day, I choose to be grateful.  I reject my pity party, and my ungratefulness, and my sadness, and my frustration.  I choose to focus on the fact that he is still coming home, that his traveling schedule has been relaxed in the past year, that the children are very very helpful when he is gone.

I am grateful that we have found a church home -ohana- that is here when I need it, and who give of themselves freely.

 I am grateful for summer vacation that started today, for six glorious weeks of relaxed schedules and unending fun.


What will you choose to be grateful for today?  If you need inspiration, head over to Gypsy Mama to see all the other posts that have been linked up.  I'm #92, so there are many different takes on what we can be, should be, and are ever so GRATEFUL for.

07 July 2011



Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  Psalm 119:105

I have decided to run a marathon.  I started training in June; I officially registered last week.  I have 12 weeks left to prepare.  It's going well.  So far.

It's a job.  It requires commitment.  I don't think I'll ever do it again.  But I am enjoying it now.  So far.

As I was running my 6 miles today, I was struck by how I never even try to make excuses to get out of running.  Anymore.  For one thing, I have a deadline.  If I'm not ready, I can't push it off.  For another, I know that once I get out there, odds are I'll enjoy it.  And so I go.  Even today, when I had exactly 90 minutes to fit in a run, shower, and drive to school to deliver cupcakes for oldest boy's birthday celebration.  I hired a babysitter, because The Girl won't tolerate more than about 4 miles in the jogging stroller.  I made it work.

So, as I thought about my commitment to running this training schedule 4 days a week plus cross training on a fifth day, I wondered why in the world I can't make that kind of commitment to spending time with God.  I am so easily able to excuse myself from being quiet and alone in prayer or reading or learning or listening.  

I realized that all my excuses for not running can be applied to not spending time with God.  

EXCUSE #1:  It's raining.
ANSWER #1:  With rain comes coolness, solitude, and refreshment.

EXCUSE #2:  Bad weather is coming.
ANSWER #2:  Better get out there and stay ahead of the storm.

EXCUSE #3:  I'm tired.
ANSWER #3:  Go anyway.  You'll be rested and energized when you return.

EXCUSE #4:  I'm too busy.
ANSWER #4:  Block off time from the front of your schedule, not the back.  This is too important to get the leftovers of your day.

EXCUSE #5:  I don't know where to begin.
ANSWER #5:  Start anywhere.  One step at a time.  You won't regret it.

EXCUSE #6:  I don't want to.
ANSWER #6:  Do it until you want to do it.  More often than not you'll be glad when you are done.

And finally, keep an eye on the ground so you don't fall, but point your head towards the finish line so you know where you are going.

06 July 2011


Schedule Conflicts

My boys are about to be out of school.  There was a time when I dreaded school breaks.  I would look to fill up every minute of our time, because I just didn't know what to do with my kids.  We would leave the house in the morning, and not return until dinner, if then.

And yes, it filled our space like I wanted.  But I would be exhausted because all the stuff I needed to do at home I would have to do after the kids went to bed.

But now, I am looking forward to it.  Not because I have all kinds of stuff planned, but because I don't.  And I'm ok with it.

We are on the go so often trying to see everything we can while we're in Europe, so we make a concerted effort to keep our schedules pretty simple on the home front.  And while I am available to do things with them, I tend to let the kids do their thing, and come to me when they want me to play.

I've learned over the years that we (parents in general) try to structure our children too much.  We think that adding more things for them to do will somehow make them smarter, healthier, happier.  We forget the wide open days of our childhood, exploring places and having entire days open to unlimited possibilities.

So, during this summer break, we are looking forward to lazy unstructured days, fresh air, and not having to pack any lunches.  Unless, of course, we have a picnic.

04 July 2011


My Favorite Things

Simply In Season
Cathleen Hockman-Wert, Mary Beth Lind

I don't own a lot of cookbooks, just a few tried and true books I've had for years.  I get a lot of recipes off the internet, or from my family.  But my friend, Kitty, recommended this book to me, and I am already in love.  

It was written by two women from the Mennonite community, and it is full of stories and ideas of how to consume less and make the most of what we have.

There are a few reasons I am already a huge fan of this book:

1.  It educates me about what is in season when, what to look for, and how to store produce.  I've found this information in other places, but it is nice to have it all together in the same book I use to find recipes.  Very convenient.

2.  It separates the recipes first by season, then by type of food.  I've already tried several recipes from the summer section, and have many other pages marked to try in the near future.

3.  It gives me a reason to stock up on local produce when it is the freshest, because it also includes recipes for soups and sauces that can be made and frozen or canned.

4.  It makes use of alternative sweeteners whenever possible.  I try to use honey or maple syrup when I can, and many of these recipes include those ingredients, so I don't have to convert white sugar to honey + baking soda, etc.

5.  All measurements include both standard and metric.  Perfect for when I bought a block of butter at the Dutch grocery store but still have standard measuring cups for the flour.

6.  And finally, the recipes are simple, with only a few ingredients, laid out in a very logical order, and tasty.  I literally just have to start at the top of the page and work my way down.  

I've already served some recipes to guest and at parties, and received rave reviews all around.  I plan to buy the companion book, More With Less and Extending The Table, very soon. 

01 July 2011



We've made it through another week.  A gauntlet week, as my husband termed it.  We enjoyed a fantastic day today at a ceremony related to my husband's work, and now we get a 3 day weekend together.  LOVE.

Time once again for Five Minute Friday, courtesty of Gypsy Mama.  Five minutes of pure, unedited writing.  Just my raw thoughts on a posted word.

This week:  Welcome.


Where to begin?  Welcome is an insanely important word here.  Moving every few years makes it so.  No matter where we live, we do our best to make our home welcoming to others, and ourselves welcome in a new environment.  I want my kids to feel comfortable and welcome in school, so they feel like they are at home.  I want to find a welcoming group of like minded friends that I can spend my time with.  

But where to begin in a new place?  We've done it many times, and we've tried it many ways.  And for us, it always always comes back to 


A Hawaiian word for family.  But not necessarily blood relations, because ohana means so much more than that.  It encompasses whole armies of people, who enjoy each other's company, share each other's beliefs, and support each other through everything.

We find our ohana, our welcome, in a church home.  It's our link, our cord that binds us together and to family, no matter where we find ourselves landing in the world.

It's where we find our welcome.  

We just returned from a weekend of church camp, and I came back with a feeling of welcome-ness that I rarely find.


Grr.  Very difficult this week to get my thoughts together.  And oh so much more I wanted to say.  But a deal's a deal, so we're posting as is.  

Be sure to click on over to Gypsy Mama to see my link as well as others.  I'm #83, and I particularly enjoyed reading #82, Lucy, as she welcomes us to her mind.  Insightful!  I think if I welcomed you to my mind I would just scare you off.

Have a good weekend...see you soon!