Monday, December 22, 2008

Find Us Faithful

I found out this afternoon that Steve Green, one of my favorite musicians, was doing a show at a church in town at 6pm. Dan and I loaded Jesse into the car and drove to the church, arriving about 20 minutes into the program. I last saw Steve Green in concert about 20 years ago and I've loved his music ever since. His song "Cherish the Treasure" was the highlight of our wedding. Well, that and, you know, the whole covenant marriage for life thing. That was pretty cool. Scary, but cool.

Anyhoo, I was very excited to see him perform again, and he did not disappoint. After the intermission, he did a few of his songs from early in his career, and one of them absolutely scorched my heart. I've loved this song since the first time I heard it on the DiscMan in my then-boyfriend's 1986 Honda Accord (music! on a shiny silver circle-y thing! that you don't have to rewind! it's a revolution!). The song is "Find Us Faithful" and tears streamed down my cheeks as I was reminded of the privilege and responsibility of living Biblically. The last stanza and the chorus are particularly meaningful to me:

After all our hopes and dreams
have come and gone
And our children sift through all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover
and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them
to the road we each must find
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful!
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave
lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful!

Indeed. May all who come behind me find me faithful.

Friday, December 19, 2008

For My Next Trick...

...I will compose a post, of the bloggy persuasion. I KNOW, right? It's a Christmas miracle!



First, a some late acknowledgments. Maggie at Life With Boys pronounced my blog fabulous, for which I thank her very much even as I apologize for the conspicuous paucity of fabulocity. Maggie is a lot of fun to read, and the Cutie-Pie Factor over there is off the charts! Check her out, why dontcha?

I'm passing this award along to my FIRL (Friend in Real Life) Tracy at Too Blessed to Be Stressed. She and her blog are, in a word, Fabulous!




Next, the totally cool and bloggily bodacious Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary declared my blog brilliante! Didja see that? Brilliant-with-an-e? Pretty cool, yeah? Thanks, Heather!

Know who else is Brilliant-with-an-e? Barbie at Just Barbie. She is brave and kind and generous. Most of all, she's real and I think she's brilliant. With an 'e'.

I have so many things I want to write about. I have pictures and everything. I'm half afraid that if I start, it will all just come out in a great big slobbery jumble, resulting in a bloggy version of Jabba the Hut. The thing that's occupying most of my heart and mind today is that a sweet family I am acquainted with is grieving the death of their wife and mother. She was 39 and her death last Tuesday morning was unexpected. Dan and I attended her funeral this afternoon. I squeezed my children until their cream fillin' came out for the rest of the day. As happens so often, my resolve to be the mom my kids deserve was deepened. Because only God knows the number of my days.

I have a lot of things to tell you about, and I promise to be more diligent in updating the blog. I need to admit that I have a little problem, though. I can't seem to quit doing this:


video

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Odd Things


This was my bedtime snack: German chocolate cake, vitamins and milk. Look for my new diet book at a fine retailer near you. NOT.

Also, is it weird that before I could eat this little gourmet delight, I felt I had to locate the camera and photograph it? That I thought Blog People from The Internet would want to see my weirdness for themselves?

Lastly, don't you love the pattern on that plate? Those are the paper plates we had our Thanksgiving Part Deux dinner on this afternoon, and I think they are so pretty!

Photohunt: Metal

Here's my contribution to Photohunt. I love this view of Olivia through the strings of her harp. The metal actions in the neck of the harp are moving parts that allow the harpist to play sharps and flats.

For more interpretations of this week's theme, go here.

Parenting by The Book

We had a really good week. We made fresh pumpkin puree (fun and easy) and cooked and baked our way through the week. We read some good Thanksgiving books and watched a PBS video about Pilgrims and talked a lot about being grateful. This lent itself to a discussion of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
It was interesting to get the kids' perspective on what those instructions might look like in everyday Pilgrim life.

"Give thanks in all circumstances." That really was the reason for the first Thanksgiving feast. Over half their number had died and the difficulties had to have been more than any of them ever imagined when they left for the New World. God's will for them, and for us, is to give thanks to Him in all circumstances. I've talked with the kids about how knowing what God wants us to do and having the courage to follow Him only means that we've decided to trust Him to provide for our needs. No comfort or ease is implied.

Anyway, good discussions around here. I'd love to read how the Scriptures came alive in your home this week.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New Parenting Strategy: Pretend They Belong to Someone Else!

We had a great afternoon with Dan's parents and his sister and her family. Much food was consumed, football was watched and it was mostly happy shrieks and thuds from the kids playing indoors and out (LOVE Oklahoma in the fall!). We got home about 7:30 and proceeded to veg away the evening. Before bed, a little tidying was in order, and it is Hannah's (age 17) week to keep the kitchen up so I reminded her to finish loading the dishwasher before turning in. When I went into the kitchen about 10 minutes later, there were many dirty dishes around the kitchen. I opened the door of the dishwasher and looked in to see that it was 2/3 full or so. This sort of thing happens with some regularity, and it is aggravating, to say the least.

The two older girls were in their room, but still very much awake. I went to inform Hannah that she had not fulfilled her duties. I've been known to "inform" rather unpleasantly. I mean, come ON. It's not as if the job is ambiguous, for cryin' out Pete. This time I decided to do it differently. I would treat her like she belonged to someone else. Like I would want someone to treat her.

"Oh, good. You're still awake. Come with me to the kitchen and let's get a few more of those dishes in the dishwasher." It almost didn't sound like me talking. Did I mention I can sometimes be unpleasant?

I encouraged her to rearrange the dishes and gave her some pointers. The same pointers I gave her when she got big enough to load the dishwasher. The same pointers I give her (unpleasantly) when she runs the half-empty dishwasher in the kitchen piled with dirty dishes. I instructed her to hand wash a couple of larger items, fill one side of the sink with hot, soapy water to soak some of the serving dishes from this afternoon, and wipe down the counter tops. I explained some of the whys and wherefores. Again. For the patrillionth time. I did not let one note of rancor into my voice, since I wouldn't do that with someone else's kid.

You know what? The kitchen is tidy. My daughter did the job and I don't feel like a giant, steaming pile of mean mom. You know what else? She is Someone Else's kid.

Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Thanksgiving Blessings

Take your fun where you can find it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What's YOUR Super Power?

Greetings from the armchair in my bedroom! I'm coming to you, as I often do, with a lap full o' nursing boy. I can blog and nurse at the same time! I am also, for those of you keeping score at home, supervising the holiday baking and praying for world peace.

The other day, I commented on Twitter that I'm considering adding Human Pacifier to my resumé, as it appears that my, um, babyfeeders (hat tip to Jeana) have a special power all their own to calm a certain 12 pounds of Savage Beast. Kelly at Love Well suggested that she was a Human Kleenex that particular day. That got me thinking about Mommy the Human Napkin who writes at Realm of Crazy People. All of this made me wonder, what's YOUR super power?

In case it's not obvious, this is a thinly-veiled ploy to get to you entertain me. Ready? Set. Go!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Photohunt: Reflection

I do a lot of surfing. Surfing the 'net while Jesse nurses, that is! Today I found a weekly carnival or sorts called Photohunt. Every week there's a different theme, and this week's theme is Reflection. It immediately made me think if this picture of Claire, taken after a bath and a blow-dry. Claire has SO MUCH FUN being Claire. I hope that's always the case.

For a lot more great photos, go to tnchick.com.

Whee!! It's a Carnival!

The venerable Antique Mommy is hosting Homemeade Handmade Holiday Carnival. Because I desire to emulate her in every possible way, I am participating. Because I can't seem to keep track of the dadgum camera, you will have to use your imagination. In your imagination, I should be tall and lithe, dressed for comfort, but looking effortlessly fashionable. I am working in an immaculate kitchen surrounded by my seraphic children who never shove, interrupt or "toot the booty-horn". Now that you've joined me in Fantasy Land, let's make some ornaments!

Here's what you need:
Christmas cookie cutters
drinking straw
spatula
3/4c ground cinnamon
2T ground cloves
1T ground nutmeg
1T ground allspice
1c applesauce

Glitter glue in assorted colors
1/8" ribbon, gold or silver cord or yarn to hang ornaments
buttons, rickrack, google eyes, or whatever crafty things you have lying around.

Here's what you do:

Mix spices together well. Gradually add applesauce to make a stiff dough. All of the applesauce may not be needed.

Dust the table with cinnamon. Roll dough to 1/4" thickness and cut into various shapes. Use the straw to make a hole for a hanging ribbon. Use spatula to carefully transfer ornaments to an ungreased cookie sheet. Take the leftover dough, ball it up, roll it out and keep cutting ornaments until you've used it all up.

Heat your oven to its lowest setting (170º-200º or so). Place cookie sheet(s) in the oven. Turn the ornaments once an hour until they are completely dry.

Now, decorate away! Use the glitter glue to embellish your ornaments or to affix buttons, rickrack and whathaveyou. Tie a length of ribbon or cord through the hole and you have a lovely ornament with a great spicy scent.

Wasn't that fun? Want to have more fun? GO HERE!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Parenting by The Book

I promise that my head will spin off my shoulders and my eyeballs will fly out if I hear "ME FIRST" one more time. I'm serious. I've warned the children, but I don't think they believe me, so you will want to watch the evening news, as I'm sure this event will warrant much air time. The Weekly World News will likely do a feature (provided BatBoy doesn't have any breaking news). It's really that bad.

Which brings me to this week's installment of Parenting By The Book. Our Scripture is the familiar
If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last and the servant of all. ~ Mark 9:35
When one of the little darlings chirps or, you know, wails "ME FIRST", he or she must be the last and serve the others. If he was trying, for instance, to be first in the van and score a certain seat (as if where one sits makes a whit of difference), he would have to open the door for the other children and take the seat that is left after everyone is in. Or say she was demanding the first cookie, in which case she would serve everyone else their choice of cookies and take her own serving from what was left. I simply recite the above verse and do my Vanna White impression, indicating the demanding child's new position and responsibility.

Conversely (and this happens less often, but it has happened), when I see a child showing deference and a servant's heart, I will move that child to the front of the line or give him his choice in the matter at hand while specifically praising the actions and attitude. This usually has the "trickle-down" effect of engendering lots of "You first!" "No, you first" and all of a sudden I'm in a Chip and Dale cartoon, which is fine with me, as there are no dishes or laundry there.

Did you parent "by The Book" this week? I'd love to read about it!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Time IN

Most of us are familiar with the discipline concept of Time Out: remove the child from the situation, isolate the child in a spot away from the rest of the action and require him to stay in that spot for a certain amount of time (eg. one minute for every year of age). The goal is to have the child suffer a little bit and to cause him to consider carefully before committing the same infraction in the future. Like many other discipline tools, this one can be effective when properly employed.

In our house, when the children act out, they are likely to get a Time IN. For Time In, they give up their freedom to move about the house as they please because they are to be my "shadow" for a specified time. I have them right near me where I can address heart issues and continue the training that I hope will result in improved behavior.

When the child is next to me, I can read their body language, question their motives and probe their understanding of what is expected. Sometimes there's lots of dialog and sometimes none at all, depending on what is needful at the time. It helps me to discipline (and yes, even punish) the children while fortifying our relationship. If I'm nursing the baby, then they must sit quietly next to me. If I'm chopping veggies for supper, they'll be washing them or scooping them into the pot.

It will often happen, when Time In is up, the child will choose to stay in my company for a while. I wonder if that means that what was needed all along was a dose of individual attention from Mama. I'm not sure why it works, but I have found Time IN to be a very useful disciplinary tool.

If you'd care to share, I would love to read some of the discipline strategies you've found useful in your home.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I've been back at blogging for just over a month. I really thought I had more that I wanted to say, but it appears that I've lost my blogging mojo. I wonder, though, if I even had mojo in the first place. Seems real mojo would be a tad more reliable and, um, present, leading me to conclude that I started this blog with a heapin' helpin' of faux-jo. Which would explain a whole lot.

Appropos of nothing, I HATE telemarketing calls. I was just told to "get my story straight" by the operator whose company CALLED ME. Grrr.

I have so many things rolling around in my head that I'd love to turn into a blog post, but I seem to have a case of chronic mental constipation. I wonder if it's caused by the dearth of chocolate and dairy in my diet? That seems like the most logical explanation.

On today's agenda: Fun With Preschoolers! Watch and be amazed as the very same almost-4-year-old who got out ALL the alphabet cards and playdoh whimpers, whines and slogs around because she CAAAaaan't put it AAAaaalll aWAAaaay. Let the good times roll, my friends. This is the child that is the source of All the Useful Information You Never Knew You Needed, such as "Mama has to feed the baby because she has the biggest n!pples."

Okay. I started this post on Monday. Today is Thursday. I will now press PUBLISH POST because, frankly, I'm tired of trying to turn this into something interesting.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

This Just In

The camera has been found. Oh, Happy Day!! It had fallen down between my bed and my nightstand. I had looked there several times, even lowering my considerable girth to the floor and crawling on my belly like a flashlight-wielding reptile (have I poked out your mind's eye yet?), all to no avail. Then yesterday, I glanced down there and noticed the square, black case, and the camera was found! I probably left it in some off-the-wall place like the confirmed goobersmack that I am, and God sent an angel to put it somewhere I couldn't miss it. It's the only logical explanation.

In other news, Claire informed the good patrons of our neighborhood Taco Bell that I am cool. In a voice that can be heard for three ZIP codes, she expounded on the source of my coolness: "Because you have that flower stamp on your bootie." I tried to quietly change the subject. I did not succeed. "When I'm a grown-up mama like you, will I have a flower stamp on my bootie?" Which brings me to the source of my conviction that children are given to us to help us maintain our humility. My children are, in my humble opinion, over-achievers. Bless their little pointed heads.

We had ourselves some wildlife excitement last week. Hannah came in the house one afternoon and said she'd seen a mouse in the garage. I promptly wrote "flaming bazooka" on the grocery list, because I think if there's anything that calls for a little overkill, it is rodent elimination. Olivia went immediately to the computer, tears streaming, to google "harmless mouse trap no kill live" (she's nothing if not thorough). I was torn. I have no qualms about sending a mouse to its eternal reward, but I hated to see Olivia so upset.

She requested permission to set up a trap she found in her research. I told her to go ahead. She gathered her materials and put together a trap that would make Wyle E. Coyote beam with pride. Next she announced her intention to spend the night on the hood of the car, waiting for the furry little devil to fall prey to her device. I had told her that she had until I went to the store on Saturday to catch the mouse and free it in a nearby field.

Friday night, the little varmint was rustling around in a trash can in the garage. The kids put it in a small wastebasket and Dan took them to set it free after dinner. I may pick up a flaming bazooka as a preventive measure, in case Jerry (oh yeah, they named him) has a wife and kids somewhere behind the garden tools, the thought of which makes my skin crawl.

And on that note, y'all have a great week!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Parenting by The Book

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. ~Ephesians 3:16-17


If you're like me, you hear your mother's voice in your head. Most moms have phrases that they say a lot during their child-rearing years. My mom would say, "You don't have to want to. You just have to do it." When my cousins would complain that something wasn't fair, my aunt told them, "I'm not trying to be fair."

It's a little frightening to realize that my children will hear my voice in their heads long after I'm gone. Now is my chance to make sure that the words they hear in my voice are lifegiving. That is why I take many of my Mothering Mantras from the Bible. I make sure I'm using the Scripture in context and for its intended purpose, of course. I find it very useful to have "sound bytes" at the ready as I'm going through the day with my children. Every Sunday, I plan to write about a verse or passage that is helping us conform our family to the Biblical standard. This week we've used Phillipians 2:14-15a quite a bit:

Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God


When one of the little arrows in our quiver is given to complaining or trying to get his or her own way by arguing I respond with this verse. If the complaining or arguing continues, I simply repeat the verse. Without getting angry, I simply state the Biblical expectation and wait for them to rise to the standard. It helps if I am completely nonchalant about it so that I don't feed into any over-emotional reactions. At different times, we've talked about how this is God's standard for those who belong to Him. It applies to Mama and Daddy, and it applies to the children of our household. Saying it routinely to the children ingrains it in their thinking. It also makes me much more aware of when my own attitude and behavior don't measure up.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Delayed Obedience is Disobedience

"OBAYFUSSENDENKINTAK!" came the shrill voice of my darling toddler. Always up for a good mystery, I followed the shrieking to it's pint-sized source. "OBAYFUSSENDENKINTAK!" Whatever that meant, she was serious about it. At nearly 2 years of age, little Claire usually spoke quite plainly, but I couldn't make heads or tails out of this exclamation. She had evidently decided that the toy in Seth's hand needed to be in her hand, as evidenced by her dimply little white knuckles wrapped around said toy while she leaned with all 24 pounds away from her older brother. Oh, I'm such a sleuth. As I came in the room, she began to jerk the toy. "OBAY! FUSSEN! DEN! KIN! TAK!" she chanted. And it dawned on me. "Obey first. Then we can talk." She had heard it so often she thought it was what you said when you wanted someone to change their behavior. Yep. I say that a lot.

Delayed obedience isn't really obedience at all. Our children can ask or tell us anything, as long as it is done respectfully, and AFTER indicating their intent to obey. My kids seem to want to answer in any number of ways when they receive an instruction from me or their dad. "Why?" is a favorite. "I don't want to" is fairly bold, but a couple of them have been known to try it. "But I was just..." happens a lot, as though my instructions would have been different if I had been aware of their agenda. All of those responses indicate an unwillingness to be immediately and completely compliant with my instructions, and are therefore unacceptable. Acceptable responses include, "Okay, Mom" and "Yes, Ma'am" and my favorite, though no one is willing to use it yet, "Here am I. Send me". But that last one could be a teensy bit over the top.

There are times when a child is so sure that if I just knew about their particular extenuating circumstance, then I would no doubt impose the accursed assignment (read: vacuum the music room) on another, more deserving sibling. For that reason, I will accept the following response one time: "Okay mom, but can I tell you something?" That says to me that they indeed intend to carry out my instructions but they think that they have information which might change my mind. I must say that, a time or two, they've been right. More often that not, however, I've anticipated their thinking (shrewd woman that I am) and taken it into account beforehand. There are times when I don't let them "tell me something", such as when time is an issue. I will say, "We don't have time. Please do as you're told." At which point, if they are wise, they will obey. If they are not wise, well, a great sadness will come upon the land, with weeping and gnashing of teeth. So to speak.

You see, I gave up a long time ago trying to cajole my children into agreeing that this or that thing is a good idea. I also don't negotiate with toddlers, teens or terrorists. I read the phrase, "Obey first. Then we can talk" in one of my favorite parenting books, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes...in you and your kids!" by Turansky and Miller of The National Center for Biblical Parenting, and I knew I had hit on something that would work in our family. This article by Joanne Miller does a great job of summarizing this principle, if you'd like to read more about it. The bottom line is that I want my children to obey me the first time and without arguing because I think that this ability is central to their success as adults, but more importantly I think that cultivating this character quality prepares them to follow God wherever He may lead, and that is where the rubber meets the road.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've Lost the Camera

I'm about to go into a serious panic to find my camera. My babies' lives are slipping away before my very eyes and I have no way to capture the magic, nay, whimsy that is their collective childhood. Imagine little Jesse having to grow up with no more pictures like these:





Would you believe I'm self-taught?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Free Association! It's Free!

I'm so glad the weather's cooling off. Our air conditioner up and quit, which wouldn't have been so bad, except Summer forgot to watch the calendar and hung around until, well, yesterday. It's been warm and stuffy in the house in the afternoons and evenings, though the nights have been cool enough. Nobody complained and we all enjoyed the fans my mom so generously loaned us. Which reminds me...

I have the greatest mom ever. We didn't have it easy growing up and I was a royal pain to raise so I really wouldn't have blamed Mom if she had bought a one-way bus ticket to a Land Far Far Away once my sister and I were grown. But she didn't. And now, as a retired widow, she does things like drive half an hour just to come sit in my house and hold my baby so he doesn't have to get hauled all over Kingdom Come. She came up last week to sit with him for two hours so the older kids and I could have a special lunch with my mother-in-law. Which made me remember...

When I have kids-in-law and grandkids I want to be more like my mom than my mother-in-law. 'Nuff said. On that note...

If being gracious to my mother-in-law is the price I have to pay to me married to The Best Guy Ever, I'm okay with that. He takes better care of me than I take of myself. Having grown up without my dad around, I am grateful to the point of tears when I think of what an outstanding father he is. He works hard at two jobs, but will hurry to get home early enough to ride bikes around the neighborhood with the kids before dark. He will come in after working at his second job and spend an hour in the older girls' room just hanging out and chatting about the day. Speaking of the kids...

Claire is getting low on candy. I think the older kids have been helping themselves to her stash, but I can't prove it. Today Claire got out her frog costume and was frantically pawing through the closet in the entryway. When I asked her what she was looking for, she said, "I need my punkin bucket to go get summore canny." I had to break it to her that, except for that one magical evening a year, ringing the neighbors' doors and holding out a bucket makes you a beggar. She was not easily convinced, but I was able to distract her by offering her her pick from the big kids' candy bag. Darn that candy anyway...

Jesse seems to have a sensitive tummy, so I've altered my diet in an effort to help him be more comfortable. All I've had to give up is caffeine, chocolate and dairy in all forms. He's a much more content little fellow, which is wonderful. I, on the other hand, am about to perish from the earth! There is a copious amount of chocolate here, and I haven't had any. AT. ALL. I'm about ready to throw it all away and tell the kids that we were robbed by Oompa Loompas. I miss chocolate...

I also miss cheese. And milk. And ice cream. And everything that tastes any good at all. A major part of my problem is that to me, certain foods just go with certain other foods. Cookies go with milk. If I'm not drinking milk, you can keep the stinkin' cookies. Quesadillas are just better with the quesa- part. Chicken and salsa on a tortilla is just...wrong. And don't even ask me to meet you at a Mexican restaurant right now, because the thought of it will make me cry. And speaking of tears...

I'm pretty sure that's what a person would have to be bored to in order to still be reading this, so I'll quit. You're welcome.

Following Up

On this post, Grafted Branch, who blogs so engagingly at Restoring the Years, raised a question that I'm going to answer today. She wrote,

But let me ask you: how do you handle it when only one of multiple children require training, but in doing so ALL the children will suffer
(i.e., a lost outing).

And what if it happens often? Where do you, personally, draw the line between positive peer pressure and exasperating siblings to wrath against one another?
To the first question, in our house it is common knowledge that one person's decisions affect the other members of the family. One of the children can cost the whole family an outing. It's not fun for anyone, but it is a training opportunity for us all. The offender sees in real time how his wrong choice can be hurtful to other people. The siblings, on the receiving end, learn to extend grace. It's not all peaches and cream, mind you. A lot of training goes into these occurrences, and I spend a great deal of time counseling all of the children as they deal with disappointment, bitterness, selfishness, stubbornness and so on. It can be very tiring, but it is worth the effort and it doesn't happen often.

Which brings me to the second question: what if it happens often? Grafted Branch raises a thoughtful question here. If you have multiple children, you've no doubt experienced the positive peer pressure. Sometimes kids are more responsive to encouragement from a sibling than from a parent, but there is a limit, I think.

In our house, at this moment, Seth is the one needing the most intensive training. He is 9 years old, male, curious, creative and has autism. He challenges every boundary and has strong and sometimes irresistible impulses. We've all missed out on fun times because Seth transgressed in some way, and it can be very disappointing to the rest of us. We address this from two directions: first, we go out of our way to set Seth up to be successful by creating situations where he can practice the skills we are trying to teach. Second, if something comes up where we know he's not likely to do well, we make other arrangements for him (an afternoon with another homeschooling family or with a grandparent, for instance) to keep his behavior from causing us to have to cancel something fun. When he asks why he's being left with Gran, we tell him the truth. "The last time we went to the petting zoo, you were rough with the animals. This time, you're staying home. When you show us you can be kind and follow directions, you will be allowed to come with us again." He doesn't like missing out on these activities and his behavior has improved over time.

I view most every experience we have as a family as a training opportunity. I notice and comment on right attitudes, actions and words. I place a reminding hand on the shoulder of the one who seems about to say or do something untoward. I find that making expectations and boundaries clear to everyone beforehand is very helpful. I don't want the children to wonder what is and is not appropriate, especially if they are likely to see others behaving badly. And, when disobedience occurs, I move in swiftly and decisively, usually with a consequence that was known in advance.

My children's relationships with one another are precious to me, and are not to be trifled with. I don't think I get it right every time, but I am always trying.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Do You Know Where My Gumption Is?

My "maternity leave" is officially over. I had given myself two months to recover from having Jesse, and that time is up. Tomorrow I need to hit the proverbial ground running. There's just one problem: my gumption seems to be missing. I think it eloped with my mojo and they're honeymooning somewhere far from the Wilson Domicile.

I do have a few stray thoughts I've been wanting to put into writing, mostly as a way to hold myself accountable.

I'm working on being the mom I think my kids deserve. I thought about this a year or so ago, but didn't really put feet to it, you know? I began to think of what I'd want my kids to have in a mom if I had to write a Help Wanted ad. Why I went down this mental trail remains a mystery for the ages. It occurred to me that I would require things of Help Wanted Mama that I don't do myself, and that bothered me. I think I can do a much better job of being the mother my kids deserve, and I'm working on making that happen.

We're "building character" around here right now, as the leaky sink, broken dishwasher, non-functional air conditioner and unfrozen deep freeze line up to teach us what is and what is not a necessity in this life. I hope the lessons of initiative, work, mild discomfort and being grateful for our many blessings last. I also wonder what sorts of lessons we could learn without having to mourn the passing of a beloved appliance, and whether we could just get started on them now.

Happy Monday, y'all. And Happy November!

Friday, October 31, 2008

We Have a Winner!

Or, more accurately, we have 3 winners! I'll get to that in a minute.

First, I'd like to thank all 81 of you who commented. I had such fun this week reading your comments.

For the record, a considerable majority of us never thought we'd be so conversant about poop. Really, we should have known, though, shouldn't we? I mean, my childhood is characterized by inquiries and warnings from my mother about the relative state of my bowels. My mom had the scoop on poop, I tell you. She knew what would give me "the back-door trots", the "green apple quick step" or just your garden-variety "runs". She could also predict what would "stop you up like a cork" with alacrity. When I was having a bad day and refused to be civil, she was pretty sure an enema was in order, the threat of which chased away many a case of Adolescent Angst. This may explain my hankering to hand out Fleet Enemas to the goth kids at the mall.

Coming in a close second in our very unscientific survey: variations on "Because I said so," including, "I'm the mom, that's why" and "As long as you live under MY roof..."

My favorite, though, came from Kristin. She wrote:

i never thought i would say "i love you" a million times a day, but i do!

And then she adds:
i also never thought i would talk about poop so much.


So we know she's really one of us! If you click on her name you'll go to her blog and see a picture of her gorgeous baby that will make you ovulate on the spot. Don't say you weren't warned.
On to the giveaway! We had 81 comments, so I asked three of my kids to each pick a number between 1 and 81. I can't think of anything MORE random than that. Here are the winners, in the order in which they were chosen:

Comment number 17, Shara, chosen by Seth.
Comment number 52, crystal (yahoo email), chosen by Hannah.
Comment number 70, itsahumanzoo, chosen by Olivia.

Check your inboxes, girls!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I think I've only said a hundred or so I love you's, so I've obviously got some catching up to do.

OH! Thanks so much to Chilihead for hosting this great carnival! If you LOVE giveaways, be sure you have Bloggy Giveaways in your feed reader. There's a lot of great stuff being given away there all the time!

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's a Bloggy Giveaway!

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

My sweet friend Jules at Everyday Mommy was kind enough to forward an email from BabyButler about a product they'd like me to try. I'm trying to get "trying free stuff" classed as "aerobic exercise", so I shot them an email and in a few short days I was the proud possessor of three of these charming devices.



They are made of soft, multicolored flannel and good for holding a bottle. They can also be used as burp cloths, changing pads and nursing covers, making them excellent shower gifts for breast- or bottle-feeding moms. They're dry clean only JUST KIDDING! Just toss 'em in the washing machine and they come out softer and gooder than new!

If you'd like to win a BabyButler Bottle Holder, retail value $19.95, leave me a comment. To make it fun, let's all tell one thing we never thought we'd say before having children. Don't have kids? No worries. Just tell the class your most embarrassing moment. Or the name of your fish. Or just say "enter me".

Here's the fine print:
•One entry per person, please. Multiple entries will all be deleted.
•I'm not psychic so Anonymous entries will be deleted because I don't want to wait on the Universe to bring us together again.
•US mailing addresses only.
•You don't have to have a blog to win, but you do need an email address.
•3 Winners will be drawn Friday, October 31, notified via email and listed here. You will have four days to respond with your mailing address. If I don't hear from you by then, I'll draw another winner (make sure you check your spam folder).

Okay. I'll go first. I never thought I'd ever have occasion to say "That's a very nice poop, Darlin'. Now let's put it back in the potty where it belongs." But guess what? I did.

More giveaways at the Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Keeping the Destination in Mind

Today I was in the gas station stocking up on provisions for a road trip. I'm so desperate for a change of scenery that I drove 100 miles up the turnpike for the pleasure of lunch with Melanie and Shannon. Also in the gas station was a woman with a preschool-aged boy who wanted a toy and some gum and a candy bar and a soda and a box of matches (!) and on and on and on. The woman told him no...no...NO...NO...I SAID NO AND I MEANT IT DO YOU WANT ME TO BUST YOU RIGHT HERE THE ANSWER IS NO! To no one's surprise, he started to cry. Loudly. So the woman grabbed a candy bar, slammed it on the counter, paid for it and jabbed it at the little boy. The crying subsided, and the boy was obviously torn between the sweet taste of victory and the stinging of the harsh words.

We've all seen it. Some of us (me) have done it. Instant-gratification-type parenting decisions that will not bear pleasant fruit down the road, such as giving in to a child so that the whining/screaming/flailing/cursing-like-a-sailor-on-shore-leave (ZOINKS) will stop. Where does that get us? In my experience, it creates confused, demanding children and resentful parents. Is that the destination any parent has in mind? Of course not.

My husband and I are determined to correct, encourage, exhort, discipline and, when necessary, punish our children with our desired end result in mind. This means taking the time not just to talk, but to train. Not just to punish, but to examine motives (ours and theirs). When we're on our game, it goes something like this:

Call the child to us. This serves two purposes, first requiring the child to bend his will to ours and second, keeping the exchange private.

Name the offense. "I told you before we came today that you would not be getting a toy from Target. When you keep asking, you are insisting on your own way by badgering me. Badgering is not allowed."

Name the consequence. "Because you were badgering, you will go to bed 30 minutes early tonight."

What happens next depends on the child's response. If he begins to whine and complain, the bedtime will be moved up in 30 minute increments until he relents. There's nothing like going to bed at 4:30 in the afternoon to give you time to consider your ways. Here's the point where I get tempted to get off track by saying to myself, "...but we have karate tonight, and we've already paid and I hate for that money to go to waste and the belt test is next week and...". If my desired destination is having a child who doesn't demand a toy every time we go to the store, I have to be willing to put that goal above his earning a purple belt. Which one will serve him best in the long run? So, yeah, we'll be skipping karate, he'll eat an early dinner of a sandwich and milk, be in bed at 4:30 because Mama means business.

My point is that our driving concern, our Prime Directive if you will, is raising ADULTS who think, act and speak properly; who know right from wrong and choose right, even when no one is looking. There really isn't anything I won't forsake in pursuit of that goal. I will leave a full shopping cart, bail on a birthday party, and get up in the middle of a haircut if one of the children behaves in a way that requires attention and training. I don't have a more important job than training these 5 eternal souls entrusted to my care. It doesn't matter if other people think I've gone off my dot, or if my kids think I'm mean. It does matter that we see results that indicate progress, that we continually evaluate our strategies and make adjustments as necessary according to each child's temperament, needs, strengths and weaknesses. Our kids deserve to be parented purposefully. All children do.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Practical Wisdom

This post challenged me today. I hope you'll check it out. It made me realize that, while I have a reasonably valid excuse for the clutter in my home right now, I have no excuse at all for the clutter in my life and in my heart. I can spend 30 minutes, 8 times a day searching myself for things that fall short of God's standard if I will just take the opportunity. I can confess my sins, pray for my family and friends, memorize God's Word and nourish my spirit while I nourish my little boy. This could cut into my Twittering.

In other news, our air conditioner is out. I know it's October, but this is Oklahoma and I'm a weenie. If it's 85 outside, Mama's got "bought air" inside. Also on the injured list: the dishwasher. It appears to fill with water, but the water, somehow, doesn't spray around enough to wash the dishes. I know. My grasp of Things Mechanical boggles the mind. Lastly, completing the Household Budget Bomb Trifecta, there's a leak under the kitchen sink. It appears to come from nowhere, though that is still under investigation.

Little Jesse seems to be struggling with reflux, and I'm doing everything I can to help the little fella out. This includes cutting dairy, caffeine and chocolate from my diet, among other, less traumatic adjustments. Y'all. I'm down to eating sticks and dirt here. That can't be good, can it?

So, to recap: My house is a mess and so is my life. I'm eating sticks and dirt off paper plates in the stifling heat and I have minihoonies peeing under my sink. This is going to be an interesting week.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

He's a Magnet

And I'm made of steel.






Thanks so much to my little sister for bringing her neato camera, the patience of Job and her artistic eye (and her other eye, too).

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mom, Interrupted

It's 10:52pm, and as soon as I finish writing this, I'm going to bed. That presumes that I do actually finish writing this. And if I should manage to finish this post, it will have the distinction of being one of the rare few things I did finish today. I am Mom, Interrupted.

This morning at 7am I was nursing the baby and overseeing the beginning of the "Friday Cleaning". Now, after feeding a bunch of kids a bunch of times, supervising and correcting their attempts to clean up after themselves, and beginning a major clean-up of the little kids' room, I'm dog-tired and done in. The toilets are clean, but the bunk beds have no sheets. The dishes are done, but the tile floors need sweeping. I kept meaning to have someone sweep the front porch but that never got done, and we've had our Christmas wreath up since last Thanksgiving, to our neighbors' delight, no doubt. And my intention to re-claim our bedroom remains just that, my intention. Drat.

Today, what is aggravating me the most is all of the things that are half done. I wish I could go around the house and put a half-done bathroom with some half-done laundry and come up with one wholly-done something. So far, I haven't had any luck there. I want to look at how I'm going about all this stuff and see if there's not some way to streamline the efforts and end up with more completed tasks, even if it means fewer tasks begun. Does that make any sense? I'll keep you abreast of all developments, as I know this is riveting stuff.

In other news, I made a play date for next week with Shannon and Melanie. Can I just say for the record that I CAN NOT WAIT! I've been hankering to go ANYWHERE for any reason, or for no reason at all. This explains my eagerness to ride shotgun on Dan's trip to the Apple Store (the geographical center of the Universe, as far as he's concerned) to drop off his mom's computer to be repaired. The Apple Store is in the mall. I have a confirmed allergy to the mall, and yet I slapped on a little spackle and my dear Daring LipSlick (my little act of public service), put a semi-crabby baby in the car seat and rode my rosy pink rear to the mall. And I was glad to do it. So, yep, I'm definitely hard up for action.

And now, I will declare this post finished. It's 11:15pm and I'm going to try going to bed in the same day that I got up. Novel concept, no?

Why Photos Are Best Done By the Pros

Last Sunday, we loaded up the minivan and made the 2-hour trip to visit Dan's grandfather. Grandan, as we call him, had turned 95 the week before and we had some homemade goodies to bring him. Also, we wanted to introduce him to his namesake, our 6-week-old baby Jesse Winston. The trip was uneventful, if, by uneventful I am understood to mean minimal bickering and only one bathroom stop. We arrived and paraded the herd into Grandan's home, which he built in the '50's and lives alone in today. Let's just say that as we tromped in, Peace tromped out, dragging Quiet along behind.

One of my primary goals for this visit was to take pictures of baby Jesse with his great-grandfather Winston.

Now, our child is not normally cross-eyed and my husband doesn't normally smile like a used-car salesman. Poor Grandan had to endure an eternity of high-pitched baby calls, puncutated with every mild expletive I know, with the occasional "get down from there, Seth." It was torture, I tell you.

I took 61 pictures.
These are the best of the bunch.
It's the thought that counts, right?
To appreciate the full catastrophe, click on the pictures to view them full size.



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And Now, For Your Reading Pleasure...

...a meme! Jules tagged me, and I'm in the mood to play along. Here goes.


SIX RANDOM THINGS ABOUT ME

6. I'm not sentimental. I don't have all my kids' baby teeth or their first locks of hair. At times it makes me feel terribly practical. Other times, I just feel kind of terrible. I've tried to manufacture sentimentality, but it just won't come. My mother-in-law is alternately puzzled and horrified by the stuff I don't hang on to.

5. My brain is a vast repository of useless knowledge. I know the lyrics to thousands of songs, I can remember every phone number I've ever had and the names of our neighbors when I was 3. I have to call the pediatrician to ask which of the kids have had chicken pox. Strange but true.

4. I was stung by a jellyfish as a kid. My stepmom made me let my stepcousin (is that even a word?) pee on my foot. Then she put meat tenderizer on it and wrapped it in gauze.

3. I always know two ways out of any place I'm in. I'm certain that the day will come when a fire, tsunami, terrorist or someone with really bad gas is going to alarm and disorient everyone in the room and I will need to have already scoped out all exiting options. When faced with an emergency, most people will automatically try to leave through the door they came in. I, on the other hand, will be safe and sound while everyone else is stuck in a fire or cloud of flatulence, may God have mercy on your souls.

2. I made a record when I was 12. In the interest of full disclosure, I made the record with a couple hundred other 5th and 6th graders, but I'm on the album cover. With the other couple hundred kids. You can pick me out by the large afro and the reflection in my giant eyeglasses. It's a good picture because you can't really see my buck teeth.

1. I'm thinking of hiring a professional organizer to arrange my iTunes. I've made a few false starts, but I got overwhelmed. I know there's got to be some way to arrange and sort my music library, but I'm having the darndest time. As a result, I'll pop my headphones in, hit "shuffle" and end up jamming to "I'm the Map!" I can handle the garage, the attic and the kids' bedrooms, but the iTunes, it mocks me.

Now, I'd love to know 6 random things about YOU! If you play along on your blog, let us know in the comments so everyone can come check it out. I know many of you have done this meme or one like it, so I hope you'll leave us a link to your random things list.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

WFMW: Turn Down the Volume



I wrote in this post that I don't yell at my children. I meant that sincerely. I really don't yell. Shannon emailed me about another subject, but asked me to tell her how I managed the not yelling and subsequently pronounced my reply post-worthy, so here it is.

Of course, I never intended to yell at my kids. I had been yelled at, and I knew how it felt. I knew I'd never do such a thing. Then I actually had the kids. Yelling came frighteningly easily to me. I didn't yell profanities or threats. I didn't scream vulgarities. I simply raised my volume because I wanted to be heard. Or to make a point. To a three-year-old. I can't think of anything more frightening to a 37-pound child than a giant grown-up towering overhead and yelling. I knew this wasn't the kind of mother I wanted to be. I always meant to never yell again, and when I failed I felt like a complete monster. I brought up the subject with my Mothering Mentor, who said, "Yelling is lazy mothering." Ouch. She added, "Purpose in your heart not to raise your voice." I thought that was what I was doing after every yelling episode, but I was mistaken. She went on to tell me HOW to go about it.

First, she told me to pray about it specifically every day for 6 months. Whether it was currently a problem or not, I was to bring this habit before the Lord every single day. This had the effect of keeping me acutely aware of my desire not to raise my voice. The result was that the instances of yelling immediately decreased dramatically.

Next, she had me search the Scriptures for specific passages relating to this struggle. She didn't give me any hints, either. I found a few that really spoke to me and I committed them to memory.

Lastly, she suggested that I make a plan. I was to come up with a new routine that I could employ instead of yelling. Now, when I need to make myself heard, I stop what I'm doing and go to the person I need to address. I put my hands on them in a loving way and wait for them to make eye contact with me. Then I tell them what I have to say in a soft, controlled voice. This serves me in that it ensures that what I say is exactly what I mean, no more and no less. It keeps me from just popping off with the first thing that comes to mind. I have stopped the van at times to get out, go around to the passenger side and lean into the back seat to deliver instruction. The children know that if I've stopped the car, somebody's going to lose a Nintendo DS.

It takes a lot of extra time at first, but now, 15 years down the road, I can honestly say that it saves me time, since I don't ever have to repeat myself and my children have been trained to attend to my voice and obey the first time. I've received a return on the extra time a hundredfold. Another benefit is that, in this household of 7, there isn't any yelling.

Not yelling works for me. For more great tips, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Never Underestimate Your Influence

Thank goodness for Twitter! Another of the fine ladies I follow, Natalie Witcher, posted a fine piece o' bloggin' today. As I was composing my comment and began my third paragraph, it occurred to me that I didn't need to hijack Natalie's comments. I HAVE A BLOG! Of my very own! So here is another post, brought to you, in a round about sort of way, by the fine folks at Twitter.



I have a 12-year-old daughter. She loves animals, particularly horses. She is learning to apply makeup. She tends to write or draw out her feelings rather than talk about them. She also plays the harp. She has occasionally lamented her calloused fingers with their short nails and thick, muscular construction. Her friends have dainty fingers, and a few of them sport stylish manicures. This child has gorgeous, chocolate-brown eyes, legs for days (NOT inherited from her mother. Whatever.) and what can only be described as "Jhirmack Bounceback Beautiful Hair" (and if you're not old enough to get that reference, I'm not sure we can be friends because I'm obviously old enough to be your babysitter). My point is that she's a lovely girl with many attributes that I would think would be much more noticeable than fingers, but what does she think about when she looks at herself? That's right. Her fingers.

Yesterday, there was a plumber here. He saw the harp in our music room and asked me if I played it. I laughed and told him that our daughter was the harpist. He remarked that he'd never seen a harp in person, so I asked if he'd like to hear her play. "If it's not too much trouble, yes ma'am, I'd love to hear a song," said the giant black man in the plumber's uniform. Olivia sat down, pulled the harp back and adjusted the pedals. The plumber pulled a chair up close and watched in rapt attention as she played Beethoven's Glissando Waltz. When she finished, he gave her a standing ovation that I could tell came from the bottom of his heart. He said he'd always remember that day and told her that if she stayed with it, she would bless a lot of people someday. She thanked him, I paid him and he went on his way.

Later, Olivia decided to polish the short nails on her thick fingers a startling shade of blue.

I have a feeling we may have entertained an angel unawares.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cheaper Than Therapy

I follow Stephanie (who writes so engagingly at Adventures in Babywearing) on Twitter. Tonight she linked to her post at Close to Home and I clicked over because I really don't need any more sleep. She took up a challenge from Heather at The Extraordinary Ordinary to write about what she's doing right as a mother. After reading Heather's original post and then reading the comments generated by that post, I determined that I would participate. I need to think about what I'm doing well as a mom. I really need to think about it right now. Today. This minute.


My first inclination is to say, "Well, I do have these couple of things that I probably suck less at..." I realize that defeats the purpose of the exercise and is not an encouragement to me or anyone else. So now, stream-of-semi-consciousness, I will simply list the things that I do well as I mother the 5 children God has seen fit to entrust to my care. My hope is that you will read this list and see some of the things that you do well and that will get you thinking about other things you're good at, and perhaps even rock at, and your head will be lifted. I don't know about you, but it's past time for me to look up and get a little perspective.

Here's the list:

I make my kids laugh
I love their daddy, and I let them know it
I tell them when I've messed up and ask their forgiveness
I read the Scriptures to them
I pray for them
I'm consistent in discipline
I don't yell
I make a priority of helping them grow their relationships with each other
I praise them sincerely

I've been told that I am a good mother, to which I generally respond, "I just try to be good enough." I realize now that that is a terrible response. When my mother or husband or friend tells me they think I'm doing a good job, I will thank them sincerely and acknowledge that it is by the grace of God that I am able to do anything well at all. To Him alone be the glory.

I'd love to read your list of what you do well as a mother. Leave a comment here and a link at Heather's place if you decide to play along.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Because I'm Too Broke to Go to Target

I'd love to have a new purse. I can't justify the purchase right now, mostly because I'm too weak to serve my family gruel while I have a stylish new bag thrown jauntily over my left shoulder. But I have hope. The generous folks at www.handbagplanet.com are giving away goo-gobs of handbags and I've registered to win one. I might get a new purse, and there might be meat in tonight's dinner. It's what we like to call a might win-might win.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I've Been Thinking

Having Jesse, and him being such a new little thing, is naturally making me think back to when the older four were tiny and new. To my great disappointment, I don't remember near as much about those days as I would like to. Then there are the memories of mistakes and wrong turns and so very many things I'd do differently if I had the chance. Of course, what's done is done.

I tell myself that I'll take more pictures and more walks. That I'll read more books and give more praise. That I'll be more patient and more fun, pray more and yell less. That I'll get it right this time. I feel like the David, the writer of Psalm 40: "...my sins have overtaken me and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me".

So, what's a mother to do? The only thing I know to do is look to the God who made me. I find encouragement and correction in the Bible. There is instruction and reproof. I see my own failures and God's great provision. I find the Truth, and that Truth sets me free. I can work myself into a world-class funk thinking about my own failures as a mother, but I don't have to. I can decide what to think, and I choose whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Phillipians 4:8).

I encourage you to do the same.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Twitter

Oh, how I love Twitter! I said one time that Twitter is to blogging what bungee jumping is to suicide: all the excitement, none of the commitment. In 140 characters, I've managed to sum up just about everything in my life. I'm not sure if that makes me very clever or boring in the extreme. I can sign on to Twitter and all of a sudden, I'm walking into a really cool hangout where there's always someone there I like and they're always saying something interesting, informative, entertaining, offbeat or thought-provoking. It's like being allowed to eavesdrop on people's lives, and it's crazy addictive. I use Twitterrific on my iPhone so I don't have to miss a single tweet.

Don't even get me started on the followers. Y'all. I have 72 followers. Do you have any idea how long this type-A, first born has wanted FOLLOWERS? In the great Twitter scheme of things, 72 isn't that many followers, either. Lots of folks have hundreds upon hundreds of followers, which is fine. I'm grateful that, for reasons known only to God and possibly the Keebler Elves, 72 people want to be notified immediately when our cat yaks in the laundry basket or I find my son's Booger Wall. Let us all take a moment now to thank God for the Information Age.

Amen.

I do have a few questions, however. "Retweeting" eludes me. I get the purpose, but I can't seem to figure how it's done. Also, how/why do people I've never heard of find me? My updates are protected simply because I got tired of the spammy-type followers, so when someone wants to start getting my updates, they have to make a request. If they don't seem spammy, they're in. But how in the world did they find me in the first place? It's a stumper, my friends. Lastly, what is the '#' for? What does it do?

I am especially proud of having figured out (to a small degree) StumbleUpon. GIANT TIME SUCK, but fascinating on so many levels. I stumbled some of the most bizzarre content on the Internet today, which explains why my shoes are in the middle of the floor and my preschooler had instant oatmeal for dinner. I'm pretty sure the Mother of the Year people will be calling any minute. I just hope they find me before the Health Department does.

We Think He's Pretty Great

Our new little guy is 6 weeks old now, and we think he's the cat's pajamas. I'm a little concerned about what he thinks of us, since this is how he looks at us much of the time:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

On the Occasion of His 9th Birthday

Here's a reprint from my first attempt at blogging. I wanted to put something on here to commemorate my first son's 9th birthday. He's on a break from vision therapy (I'd call it maternity leave, but that would seem weird), but the story bears telling. Mercy me, how I love this boy!

Seth is such a fascinating creature. Being his mother has taught me so much about God, faith, growth and slickin' down hair (his always looks like he just combed it with an egg beater).

He was born with a cataract in his left eye. When he was 5, he had surgery to remove the clouded lens of his eye and have an artificial lens put in. Since then, he's been in vision therapy to correct his strabismus, esotropia and amplyopia (which is what I'd have named triplets if I'd ever had them).

Because the vision in his two eyes is so disparate, his brain had shut off his cataract eye and just interpreted images from his intact eye. One-eyed vision provides no depth perception. Even with the cloudy cataract removed and a crystal clear new lens implant in place, Seth's brain still didn't recognize the signal coming from his "bad" eye. So we began vision therapy to reintroduce his brain to his left eye and get them on speaking terms again.

Blah, blah, blah, and so on and so on. <--That's me skipping the technical stuff. In August '06, Seth had no depth perception. Not a glimmer. Not a whit. Depth perception is measured in arcs per second. 40 is about perfect. 80 is okay. 800 is the worst that can be measured. Seth's was incalculable. More than 800. Probably more like a patrillion, but that's just a guess, and (I'll tell you since it's probably not obvious) I'm not really that technical. Eight months later, he scored 100.

ONE OH OH.

On the chart. Measurable, repeatable, reliable. It was a banner day at the Wilson Domicile, as this one little victory represents daily, difficult, exhausting visual work. There's still so much work to do, but this little measurement is like a Gatorade and Powerbar combo meal that will keep us going a while longer. We will run with perseverance the race marked out for us. He marked it, we'll run it. To God be the glory, we'll glory in our portion.

Establishing the precedent that I can spiritualize anything: I will now give my theological insights on the above experience:

Seth was born with a condition that got worse as he grew (like sin). In fact, the mere act of growing increased the severity of his problem (like sin). His brain's way of coping with the visual deficit was to shut off the signal from that eye. Just ignore it. Make do with what the right eye could see. It was the only solution his brain could provide, and it gave him better vision than a mixed-up, partly cloudy image. We were created to see clearly and that was his brain's way of dealing with the problem.

Enter a great physician. He examined the problem, identified it and made a plan to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a specially made, specifically calculated, individually designed replacement. A cut was made, the offending object was smashed to bits and sucked out, and a pristine new one was perfectly placed. Hooray! Success! Salvation!

End of story. Not.

The bad lens is out and the good lens is in, but the brain doesn't know the difference.

We spent at least an hour and a half every cotton pickin' day giving Seth's eyes specific jobs to do that would wake up and train his brain's visual system. Stimulate with light, train with exercise, deprive the "good" eye with patches. Stimulate. Train. Deprive. And wait. Just like the good work begun in us.

There are encouraging signs, little ones, that those of us who know Seth can see. And occasionally, there are big signs, like the test results above, that can be measured. Make no mistake, friends, the work is being done with the end nowhere in sight. The road is long and rocky and pretty lonesome sometimes, but God is here. Pulling us up, pushing us on, lighting the next step.

Depth perception. Seeing not just height and width, but perceiving that the object being viewed has depth. Lord, give me depth perception.

Welcome!

I've decided to try my hand at this blogging thing again. Not that I have such a terrible lot to say, you understand, but because sometimes it feels like if I don't get the random out somewhere my head will explode. I'm having a hard time even knowing where to begin. Over time, I'm sure I'll cover all the bases. For now, I hope a few folks will stop by now and then and leave a comment or two. That would be grand.

Also, if you'd like the chance to read every brilliant thought that skitters across the landscape of my mind, you can follow me on Twitter. OH, and because I have SO MUCH free time, I also have a page on Facebook. Everything you ever wanted to know, and then some.